By Ara Tucker

“The humans won’t last forever,” Walt remarked as he sat next to Frank.

“Little comfort that is to Chip over there in that economy-sized cauldron. They could have at least sprung for the jumbo size so that he’d brown evenly. Say, is this mud feeling warmer than usual?” Frank replied.

Pig Slaughter    Hilary Harkness

Pig Slaughter

Hilary Harkness

“Chester thinks we’re due for another melt one of these days soon.” Walt noted.

“Chester thinks too highly of his thoughts.” Frank grumbled as he shifted to get more comfortable. His left haunch had been acting up ever since he’d seen the stack of feet curing in the smokehouse.

“When you’re a dog amongst pigs, I suppose.” Walt said.

“I suppose. Say, what’s she got slung over her shoulders?” Frank sniffed. Walt had gas again.

“Who?” Walt asked, completely unashamed as he let another one rip.

“The crazy one they call, Blondie. She’s crossing the bridge.” Frank burrowed his snout into the mud, trying to get free of Walt’s flatulence.

“Again? All she seems to do is cross that bridge.” Walt observed.

“Chester says she has family across the water. Carnidiversity specialists or something.”

“Like she gets other kinds of slaughter food?”

“It’s certainly not a pig she’s got slung over her shoulders. Could be one of Chester’s kind. Though, he’d like us to believe he just came out of the water fully formed like a seal.” Frank picked his snout back up and glared at the water. He hated Chester.

“Chester wouldn’t allow it. Her ankles would be lacerated before she got off the bridge.” Walt didn’t mind Chester, but he’d never tell Frank that.

“Where’d you learn a word like lacerated?”

“The humans say a lot of things when they think we’re sleeping.”

“I usually am sleeping. I’m only awake now because the mud is hotter than usual.”

“If I’m going to go, I want knife dancer to take me out.”

“Really? I’d have taken you for a hanging hog.”

“My dad went that way. Blood rushed from his toes to his head. I couldn’t look at him for days. My mom, she just walked into the water one day.”

“And drowned?”

“No. She floated back to shore and they put her in the cauldron.”

“The cauldron’s been around awhile.”

“Chester says they’re getting another one.”

“Well, they won’t be getting anything if the melt happens.”

“I wouldn’t count on it.”

“They won’t last forever.”

“Maybe not, but I’d bet you a rack of ribs that they’ll last longer than we do.”

“I’m more of a chops man, myself but I’ll bite.”

“All this slaughter is making me hungry. Want to see if we can wrangle a fish out of Chester’s mouth? He hates it when we do that.”

“You’re on.”

An excerpt from Bedtime Stories, a collection of paintings and short stories by Hilary Harkness and Ara Tucker (2018). All rights reserved.