Mightier than the pen


I lay on top of him. My right arm was wrapped around his thick neck and I was pulling it tight with my left arm. He tried to gasp for breath, but only sucked in a fraction of what his body needed to keep fighting. We had been locked in this life-or-death struggle for a good five minutes and were both completely spent. Finally, a last spasm, and then he lay still. I continued clamping down hard on my exhausted burning arm for another couple of minutes to make sure he was dead. If he suddenly reared back to life, I would not have the strength to start the fight over. Finally, I rose shakily to my feet. My arms and legs were bleeding all over, but I did not feel pain. Everything was suddenly strangely peaceful. The stars shone, a cool breeze blew in from the ocean, and the giant bulb of the lighthouse flashed on and off, intermittently illuminating the lifeless 150 pound body that had been so powerful just a few minutes earlier. There is something extraordinarily intimate about killing a large mammal with one’s bare hands—sharing its last moment. I thought back on how I had come to intervene irrevocably in his life. 

A year earlier, we had bought two piglets—a male and a female—with the intention of breeding them and enjoying free organic bacon forever. They were brother and sister, but the farmer we bought them from assured me that was not a problem. “Pigs’ll fuck anything,” she said. I named the male Ken Ham, and the female Frances Bacon, and we took them home. I quickly grew fond of the two piglets, and wondered whether I would have it in me to send them to the slaughterhouse once the time came. I was particularly moved by how humanlike their eyes were, and how intelligent they seemed—I don’t mean I had long philosophical conversations with them, but they certainly made a smarter impression than our dogs, Darwin and Dawkins, ever did.

We owned a restaurant at the time, so there were plenty of leftovers and kitchen scraps, and the two piglets ate prodigiously and grew accordingly. At first the two got along fine, and it appeared the farmer had been right; Ken Ham and Frances Bacon were not squeamish about incest in the least. When Frances needed her trotters trimmed, which she was not keen on, I had to pin her rapidly-growing frame to the ground and sit on her to keep her from running off, which Ken Ham mistook as an invitation to mount her. When I shooed him off, he showed he was not choosey, and proceeded to mount me instead. I suppose I should have realized at that point, as I sat astride a pig trying to give her a pedicure, while another pig was on top of me humping me, that I was not a natural-born hog farmer, but there was more evidence yet to come.

Within a few months, Frances Bacon began to show signs of being pregnant, while Ken Ham began showing signs of being a hugely aggressive psychopath. I suppose the post-modernists would attribute his behaviour to how he was socialized, but I suspect his sex hormones might have had something to do with it. In any case, I built a partition between the two pigs so the newborns would be safe from the father, whom I presumed would either try and eat them, or hump them to death.

A few weeks later, Frances Bacon gave birth to a litter of five piglets. Unfortunately, one was a stillbirth. Another was a runt and, after a few days, it became clear it was not going to make it, so I put it out of its misery by way of a quick blow to the head with a baseball bat. Frances Bacon, who was by this time a very large animal, accidentally sat on the third piglet, and squashed him to death. A fourth somehow managed to get into Ken Ham’s pen, and as I had suspected, he either tried to eat her, or humped her to death; I found her dead in his pen the next morning. My plans for a bacon-filled future were going up in smoke.

Ken Ham, meanwhile, discovered that with his tremendous mass and powerful leg muscles, he could batter his way straight through the corrugated tin wall of his pen. He did this several times and began charging motorbikes on our road. We were concerned that he would kill someone. The first two times he escaped, we managed to lure him back into the pen with treats, but the third time he did not fall for our ruse. By around two in the morning, we decided we needed to solve the problem permanently. My wife said if I could catch him, I should kill him. The trouble is boars are remarkably strong and fast. He could run as fast as I could at full tilt, but because his center of gravity was closer to the ground, he could turn much more quickly, so I spent a good couple of hours comically chasing him up and down the road in front of our house, while Darwin and Dawkins followed behind, barking excitedly.

I finally managed to dive on him and got my arm around his neck, but he did not take this lying down and was off like a bolt. I knew I would likely never be able to catch him again if I lost my grip, so I held on for the ride. My lanky 190 pound frame bounced along like a rag doll, elbows and knees scraping on the pavement. As I managed to solidify and tighten my grip, his breathing became laboured. He gradually began to slow down, and eventually collapsed. He mustered enough strength to rise to his legs a couple more times, but finally stayed down. My wife set a brick down beside his head. I let go with one hand to pick up the brick, but my arm was so weak that, far from putting him out of his misery, the brick merely glanced off his thick skull. It was probably my imagination, but it seemed to me that he paused momentarily in his struggle to shoot me a deeply aggrieved look. Meanwhile, taking one hand away from its strangling duties had loosened my grip to the point where he was able to gasp a little air and he rose to his feet, so I quickly dropped the brick and refocused all my efforts on strangulation. By this time, my wife had had enough of the gruesome spectacle and went into the house, taking the dogs with her. They hadn’t exactly been making things easier on anyone. With their barking gone, Ken Ham and I were suddenly alone, wrapped in mortal combat. Our sweat mingled, his eyes started bulging, and he was foaming at the mouth. His tongue swelled and finally started to bleed. Then, with a shudder, it was all over.

And that’s the story of how I became a vegetarian.


By Charlie Taylor


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