Anybody gonna pay for them hogs? The Authors Collection.

Pigs images

WHEN THE MAN pulls the first hog from the pen and hands it to Weldon, he cringes, drops it and the hog scoots between Clayton’s legs and on down the lane fenced with hog wire.  When he drops the second one, Burl pushes him out of the way.  “Man comes four hours from home to get hogs and turns out to be scared of ‘em.  See if you can at least work the gate.  I’ll hand off the hogs.”

When eight hogs are safely loaded in the trailer, the man locks the two he intends to keep in the pen and heads off down the lane with a catch dog to try and find the escapees.  “They might be down at the end of this here lane.  There’s a fence that might hold ‘em for a while.  I’ll be back drekly.”

When the man is out of sight, Weldon cranks the pickup and tells them to get in.

Burl puts his hands over Tess’s ears.  “What the hell you doin’?  You gon’ drive off without paying the man for his hogs?”

“You think he wants money for ‘em?  Ain’t as if they was big hogs.”

Burl drops his head and shakes it.  “Now why in hell would I think that?  Man probably advertised free hogs and had to wait for us to drive two hundred miles to pick ‘em up.  Not as if anybody around here would take free hogs.  I’m sure he’s grateful to us for takin’ ‘em off his hands.”

After a few more minutes, Weldon cranks up again.  “Looks like he ain’t comin’ back, so I guess we’ll just go on.  Got to get Tess back to her mama before midnight.”

Jim H. Ainsworth
Jim H. Ainsworth

Burl crawls into the back seat again.  “Sheriff will probably pull us over before we get ten miles and throw us all in jail for stealin’ them damn hogs.”

“Shit!”  Weldon brakes as his headlights reveal the owner of the hogs and his hog dog standing in the middle of the road.  Weldon rolls down the window.  “We owe you anything for them worthless hogs?”

“Well, I was gonna try to get fifteen apiece for ‘em and you got ten, countin’ the two you let get away.  They long gone.”

Weldon turns toward Burl and whispers.  “How much is that?”

Burl stares.  “Damn, Weldon.  It’s a hundred and fifty dollars.”

Weldon keeps looking at Burl.  “Damn.  I ain’t got that much.”

Clayton comes out of his stupor.  “See if you can talk him outa payin’ for them two that got away.”

Weldon yells out.  “Listen, feller, we don’t think we oughta have to pay for them two got away.”

“Well, all right then.  I guess maybe me and the dogs can trap ‘em again.  You owe fifteen apiece for the ones that’s left.”

Weldon turned toward Burl again.  “How much is that?”

“Damn, Weldon.  It’s one-twenty.”

“How much you got on you?’

“Me?  Why you askin’ me?  Hell, I don’t want no wild hogs.  Ain’t got no use for ‘em.  Lillie ain’t gonna be happy with me comin’ home late as it is.  Throw me plumb out if I bring home a bunch of hogs.”

“Ain’t askin’ you to keep ‘em, just loan me and Clayton the money till we can get home.”

“You and Clayton come all the way down here to buy hogs and didn’t bring no money?  See now why you stopped to pick me up.”

Weldon turns to look at Clayton.  “How much you got, Clayton?”

Clayton pulls two twenties from his Levis and hands them to Weldon.  He looks at Burl, who is feeling trapped inside the cab and is ready to be home.  He pulls out all his cash.  Eighty-five dollars.  “How much you got, Weldon?”

Weldon pulls four twenties from Burl’s hand and thrusts six twenties through the open window at the man as he pulls away.

Burl looks at his remaining five spot.  “How much did you give to this here hog buy, Weldon?”

Weldon drives in silence until they come to a set of golden arches.  Tess whispers in her father’s ear.  Weldon looks straight ahead.  “You just want one of them damn toys, is all.  You can’t be hungry.”  He inclines his head slightly toward Burl as he pulls off the road and into the McDonald’s entrance. “She wants one of them damn Wacky Packs.”

Burl shakes his head.  “I think Wacky Packs come from Sonic, Weldon.”

Weldon lets Tess shout her order into the machine and eases forward to pick it up. As he turns the corner, they see a man sticking half his body out the order window and waving frantically.

Weldon waves back.  “Whatcha figger that feller wants?  Damn, feller, we ain’t gonna drive off.  We gonna pay.  Just need to get up to you, is all.  Hold your damn horses.”  As Weldon rolls down his window, he hears the sound of metal popping, of screws being torn loose from sheet iron.  The awning comes to rest on the trailer with a sickening thud.

Weldon steps out of the truck, looks at the awning resting on the trailer before turning back to the attendant.  “Damn.  You boys ought to make them damn things taller.  You got that Wacky Pack?”

Tess takes the sack and Weldon reaches an open hand toward Burl.  “Plumb forgot I used up all my money back there with them hogs.  Can you let me have another few dollars?”

Burl looks into Tess’s pleading eyes before handing over his last five dollars.  Weldon takes the change from the shocked attendant and pockets it.  “We ain’t gonna charge you nothin’ for the damage to my trailer, but you boys need to replace that awning with a taller one.”  The awning clatters to the concrete as Weldon jerks the truck away.

Next—home with the hogs.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Jim, as you well know, you can find Weldon and the boys sitting around a table at some corner restaurant every morning in Small Town America. The names change. They don’t. They are the backbone of America.

    • Darlene Jones

      That sounds about right, Caleb.

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