Her “friends from church” a no-show, she sat there alone at her table and Pat, feeling bad for her, picked up his coffee and sat down with the well-dressed and probably-crazy Irishwoman at Nellie’s in East Durham.
He cocked his ear toward her and over the band music and in a brogue she told him that as a young girl in Ireland, they had pigs. Her job was to go out to the pigsty when the pig had a litter and make sure the piglets – who are blind at birth – didn’t accidentally wander into the mother’s mouth while they were looking for an open teat. Because the mother pig would swallow them and eat them.
A week later, perched on a barstool at Chieftans, there sat Oliver McGovern. He was Pat’s age, but he looked like a kid. Pat could have sworn that Ollie McGovern was dead. Nevertheless, Pat told him the Irishwoman’s pig story. Like a good Irishman, Oliver in turn told his own pig story.
One of ten, Oliver said that when he was a kid they had a family get-together and all the kids and all the cousins and friends were in the barn. The adults hadn’t heard from the kids for a while, so they went to check on them. Turns out the kids had learned that pigs will eat live chickens, and by the time the adults got there, the kids had fed the pig like seven of them.
After Oliver finished his pig story, and then his Guinness, he slid down off his barstool and skipped off to the pisser and he never came back.
Sitting alone at the bar, Pat remembered the night that Little Ollie’s parents and aunts and uncles, highballs in hand, had stumbled out of the big house to the barn and to the pen where poor Little Ollie McGovern had perched himself, and to the pig that would eat anything that fell into its pen.
Pete Lindemann lives and works in Cobleskill, New York, USA.
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