Monday, June 29, 2009

Hooray For Wild Hogs!

As promised, here is the first Beckham installment from the Trails End Guest House! Thank you, Desiree and David—I love it, and am looking forward to the next one!

The History and Heritage of a Feral Hog
Some stories are told from the writers view point and some from the participants view point. This is told from history’s view point as observed by a long line of Feral Hogs. How the Hogs came to be the keepers of this story is due to the price they paid with their lives. They were in fact something of secret agents living covertly among the Uprights. They lived from dense rich forests to arid gritty grass lands. They still live in all these places, they still are observing; they understand the requirement of faith that they will always be assisting in the survival of the Uprights.

If you read or were read to from the tales of Narnia then hopefully you took away the gift of those books, that being the gift of faith. Faith is like a pint of oil on a smooth level body of water, it will spread out forever and cover the surface of that water. It will leave a colorful sheen, always changing and amazing those who observe it. Faith, like any divine gift can be misplaced and put to poor use but it isn’t the faith that causes the problems, it is the misuse of it. Animals have faith, the pure faith. Uprights, being animals, have faith and sometimes they misuse that faith, but this story is about one certain family of animal that still lives in the pure faith. The stories of the Uprights have been told many times in many books and they are a major part of this story but this story is about the Feral Hog.

This tale was told to two Uprights who were fortunate enough to have had pen and notebook handy on a series of warm summer nights while visiting with a certain Feral Hog named Beckham. It can’t be said that they really conversed openly with the Hog, it was more that they listened to the Hog and through certain gestures and simple disassociated word groupings they might have asked a question or two. If you don’t believe that’s possible just think about this - who of you hasn’t been somewhere in public and you hear Spanish being spoken. Now you don’t speak Spanish but by listening closely and observing you clearly understand what is trying to be communicated. Yet you could no more form a reply sentence in Spanish than spin straw into gold. In that same way Uprights can, if they are willing to observe and listen, learn the stories and observe the lives of animals lived in the pure faith.

Hot, humid and dense rainforest was the life lived by the traveling ancestors of Beckham the Feral Hog. That was quite a change from the rolling oak covered area in Spain from whence they came. Rounded up gently by the enticement of crunchy acorns then pack lead into a wooden pen for many sun and star trips. Finally lead out into the overcast sticky air that was Dominica, the West Indies. The leaders of the Hog band had heard the famous Senior Columbus himself was the master of the ship that brought them to this new land, but they never spoke of it to other tribes of Hogs. Hogs, while proud are not prone to pretension. They prefer to quietly walk in this life under the guise of self confidence. Oh sure they squeal loudly when touched but that is because they are ticklish and they don’t know how to laugh. For years Uprights thought the squeals were due to pain, but pain lingers and if you’ve ever had to poke a Hog with a stick to make it move, give it a shot to keep it healthy or pick it up to move it then you know their squeals can be deafening yet they stop as soon as you walk away from them. If they were in pain they would still squeal, but they were just being tickled and as everyone knows you stop laughing as soon as you stop being tickled.

For many years the clan of Beckham lived and were a large part of the life in the Dominicans. They were allowed to run free in the forests but always the Uprights came with treats and most who followed the trail of treats never returned. The few that did return told tales of things not understood by most Hogs. Every generation an old boar or sow would live past their prime and the young Hogs would bring them choice nuts, grubs and roots. These Wise Ones, as they were called, kept track of the stories and passed them down to the next generation. They told their stores late at night when the deep forest noises kept the Uprights away. Nights were always the peaceful time for animals. Uprights feared the unseen creatures that made the soul piercing noises across the dark sky but not the Hogs. Each and every animal that had kept the purest of the faith would speak the melodic noises of the Uprights among themselves. While all the other Hogs slept peacefully in the soft cool moist leaves that carpeted the forest’s floor the Wise Ones would squeal with delight recalling the stories they knew and the stories that were passed on to them to share with the Hogs forever.

On nights after days or weeks when many Hogs had been lured away, never to return, certain young Hogs would mock the Wise Ones. They would cry out that the Uprights were evil and must be destroyed. The Wise Ones would hold their consul until the anger died away then quietly speak of the plan of the Deeper. The Deeper was the source of the purest faith. The Deeper was like an outcropping of clear water after days of thirst.The Deeper, the Wise Ones would say, has the plan for Uprights and Hogs to live and die together the way they do. They would explain that while the Uprights may do things unthinkable among Hogs, they never tortured the Hogs. The Uprights would torture themselves and their kind with unspeakable horrors but their final treatment of Hogs was swift and merciful. Uprights would cast out any of their own kind that treated Hogs with the treatments they often bestowed upon themselves. The Uprights were a puzzle even to the Wise Ones. The Uprights with the smooth brown skins treated the Hogs differently than the pale Uprights that had hairy faces but in the end it was all the same. The Wise Ones taught that this was the way of The Deep and if it was somehow forced to change it might bring worse upon the Hogs. The Wise Ones knew they were necessary for the Uprights to live and so the Uprights would always try to care for the Hogs even though again, the end would be the same.

One night the Wise Ones noticed bright streaks across the sky. Even in the sun time it would seem as if the lights of the night were creeping and trying to crowd out the bright light. As if a sign many of the Hogs, including some Wise Ones were lured away from the forest by treats far too good to resist. They were then put into the large wooden rooms with giant tan squares that hung off smooth trees and before they were prepared they were again sailing across the waters this time with an Upright called Frenchman - La Salle. They found a new land but they returned to the Dominicans. The next few years were strange ones. A few dozen of the Hogs were kept in pens away from the forest by the unusual Upright and then they were off again after several seasons of storms. This time they touched solid ground in a new place. It was swampy yet arid. Upright Frenchman - La Salle was angry as he was hoping to return to the first place he took the Hogs but could never find it. The Wise Ones kept they and the other Hogs silent during these years. They watched and listened for everything. Nothing was to be taken as trifle. There was danger, even more than before since they were always kept inside an area of crossed sticks surrounded by wooded walls where escape was not possible. No more roaming a cool moist forest. At times it was so cold. The sun would be warm on their back, then suddenly the sky would roar on its back legs, turn deep purple and sheets of rain like ice would plummet them for periods that seemed to never end. The Hogs would creep silently to the Wise Ones in the time of the moon and ask how and when they could find the warm moist forest again. Wait, the Wise Ones would always tell them. Since the Hogs were of the faith, they waited. One day Upright Frenchman - La Salle left; there was much anger with the other Uprights. There was anger if he said he would stay there was anger if he said he would leave. The Wise Ones drew the Hogs near. Then, after Upright Frenchman - La Salle left the wooden area, the sickness started. Hogs and Uprights alike died. They died because they grew hot like fire and lost all their strength to run away, if they had been able to find a way out of the crossed sticks and wooded walls. As the hairy faced Uprights died, moaning and crying some smooth dark Uprights would try to come into the wooden area and do unspeakable things to the hairy Uprights. The Hogs were in their greatest peril now they thought, but these smooth dark Uprights pushed down the wooded walls and opened the crossed sticks that kept the hogs from escaping. They then with much shouting and screaming chased the Hogs away. The Hogs were sad to leave their fellow Hogs who had died and lay dying in the same way as the hairy faced Uprights. As they ran out of the wooden place being poked and kicked by the smooth Uprights several of the Wise Ones looked back in sadness not understanding at all what had happened but they knew it was critical they always pass on this story, no matter what happened. To forget this story would be to breech the pure Faith.
They ran into they knew not where. They saw giant grasses and smooth round clumps of green pads like the stories told of in the country they came from so many star turnings ago. They ran and they ran. They ran till they could run no more yet they did run more. They ran for days only stopping to try and eat something. The green pads were quite a shock. The pads could not be eaten without much pain so the Hogs looked for other grubs and roots. When they had ran for ten turnings of the bright sky light the Wise Ones called everyone to a halt. Here they would stay. No one, not even the youngest of the Hogs asked where they were or if they were lost. Where they were was safe and to return to where they had been was to be lost. They began their new chapter, what the story would be or how this new story might end no one knew.

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