Tuesday, July 28, 2009

53 Eating soggy marshmallows beside a roast suckling pig who's also your best friend

Once, in a squalid apartment whose previous owner had been imprisoned on charges of keeping exotic animals (Monkeys, nobody knew what kind, turned out they were his kids), a bespectacled undergraduate student with milky eyes and a visible limp opened his refrigerator and discovered that he had nothing to eat but soggy marshmallows and the remains of a roast suckling pig which he'd brought home from his parent's last Christmas.

He couldn't bear to leave the pig with his parents, he and the pig had bonded over Christmas dinner, two confirmed losers, its sad burnt eyes staring sightless beneath crisped eyelids as the undergraduate student endured the dinner from his place of honour as the first member of his family to have entered University before making a million dollars in real estate speculation (the family hobby, his 9 year old sister had already topped the family leader board, which wouldn't have stung so much if he had ever gotten up there himself but he hadn't).

His parents considered him a lazy clod but they were so polite he didn't know what he hated more, their contempt or their courtesy. They couldn't disguise their consistent avoidance of any topic that might drift to stating their judgement out loud: there were never questions about when he'd graduate and return to the family business, he'd already been an undergraduate for 9 years.

In his overheated and simultaneously drafty flat, staring at all that was left of the pig, he couldn't bear to eat it, he had caught himself talking to it sometimes, in his dreams especially, where it would appear as an Adams (Douglas) pig, the genetically engineered articulate pig that wanted to be eaten, whose sole purpose, built into it by design, was to persuade reluctant meat eaters who had previously been vegetarians on ethical grounds, to consume it. Like a Shmoo, only the pig died. Happily, of course, it was an Adams pig.

He saw that finally there was no option left but to eat it. He did not even consider leaving his shoebox flat, it was January and the city had recently been depopulated by a pandemic, he didn't know what sort exactly, for an undergraduate he was ignorant beyond the norm of what happened in the world outside his specialization, which was entomology, for the moment at least.

Ultimately he carted the remains of the pig, a fleshy skull, a strand of vertebrae like giant's teeth, to the University where, with the help of a colleague, he had the dangling remains stripped from the bones by flesh eating beetles.

He handed the skull to a luthier and within weeks he had an odd shaped guitar with a pig's skull for a resonator.

He played it every day, it spoke to him, it became his best friend, always grinning, singing on command, never complaining.

Many years later, when he came home to find all his things in a broken pile outside his flat he shrugged, picked his pig, fortuitously undamaged, out of the wreckage of his eviction, and walked away. He could have paid the rent but it had begun to feel too high so he hadn't bothered to do anything but cease payments.

He went in search of the flat's previous owner, surely out of jail by now, it wasn't much of a goal but it gave him something to do.

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