Squealing Salvation

March 4, 2012
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I’ve always lived in a rather controlled environment. I saw the world through my mother’s eyes. The idea of me thinking for myself was a mere illusion. I had more choice than a rat in a cage. While I thought that running on the wheel was a terrific idea, I had not the slightest clue that it was my only choice. What I’m referring to specifically is my mother’s view of animals and their respective rights. She always taught me that animals are equal to humans, if not superior, in every way, shape, and form and that’s just the way it was no ifs, ands, or buts. In her world, they had a special stipulation in the Bill of Rights. I was indoctrinated with this idea, consumed by it. I was in a sheltered home in which I had not even seen so much as a stray cat get shooed or a menacing spider swatted. Little did I know that this was a radical view in the eyes of others.

When I was twelve years old, my buddy, Trey, invited me out for a day on his four-wheeler in La Belle. I had no idea what the day had in store for me, but I just went along with it. Early in the day, we went mudding on his four-wheeler. This was a momentous occasion for me as I had never driven a four-wheeler up to that point. I joyously maneuvered the vehicle as we glided through the supple mud, imposing our will on the terrain. We laughably enjoyed the simple dalliances of adolescence. As he neared his house, however, the mud had dried into a semi-hardened substance that was torn to shreds by the intensity of the tires, emitting billows of dust into the atmosphere. When we arrived at his house, Trey’s father waved his hands and called for him, “Boy, c’mere.” We began edging toward him and Trey’s father picked up a mysterious metallic object off the trailer he was leaning on. It was a .22 caliber rifle. I was flabbergasted as I had never seen a gun in my life. Why did he give him the gun though? We began climbing into the trailer and I heard a faint squeal. I was in utter disbelief. Oh lord, can it be? Please not here, not now.

As Trey mounted the gun on his shoulder, I cringed. I simply couldn’t watch. My mind was in a tizzy as questions were expeditiously ringing in my head. How dare these ingrates harm an innocent creature? What had it done to them to deserve to be executed? “Ready, papa?” These were the most sacrilegious words I had ever heard. Signaled by a slight nod, Trey pulled the trigger. I plunged my fingers into my ears as hard as I could but it didn’t help. The bang’s torturous echo plagued my mind. I felt a part of my being rip propel from my body just as the bullet did from the barrel. I was an accessory to murder. What would God think of my morally contemptible actions? The warmth of the tear slowly dribbling down my face juxtaposed with the frigidity of my soul. I don’t know why I was crying though; maybe it was due to the thought of my pending eternal damnation or rather some heightened sense of compassion, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, I watched as they bled the hog. I gazed in agony as they took their razor sharp blades and effortlessly gashed the torso of the hog, blood leaking down its body, culminating in a pool of red muck on the ground. Seeing the utter horror on my face, Trey’s father took me aside. He announced, “Boy, this here is natural. You see, I’m just doing what the good lord intended on me doing. Ain’t nothing wrong with me feeding my family. You see critters killing other critters and nobody makes a fuss about that. Hell, animals die e’ryday, that’s just how it is. That’s nature for you. They come, they go. Man up and come give a hand, we need you.” I saw the validity in his poorly crafted argument but that raised one question: Could this man’s view on animals supersede my mom’s? I mean, my mom had never been wrong before. On the other hand, there’s a first time for everything. I was cast into a philosophical conundrum not fit for a twelve year old.

Unfortunately, they requested my help in skinning the hog. I firmly grasped onto a little tuft of hair and on the count of three, I tugged. I pulled with such ferocity that I could hear the lipids separating from each other. The bone-crackling tear released an unrelenting stench that forever etched its putridity in my mind. My distaste with the situation translated into the conflict with my mother’s ideals. As my confusion and frustration continued to grow more intense, so did my yanking. I continued the onslaught until there was nothing left in me. Once the skin reached the hog’s posterior, the stomach gave way and a cascade of blood and intestines spewed out before me, some landing on me. Under normal circumstances, I would have been completely repulsed. However, this was difference for some reason. I was apathetic toward the situation. It was apparent that the tugging had spurred something inside. I didn’t really feel anything, not happiness nor sadness, not joy nor contempt. I was overcome by a natural anesthesia and became comfortably numb. As I looked upon the tattered carcass, I came to a realization. I did this. I was responsible for this and I aided in the mutilation of this animal. The most shocking part, however, was that I wasn’t repulsed rather I was unaltered. Sure, I had gone against my mother’s wishes but that was unimportant. I had just fulfilled my natural, carnal obligations. For once, I was autonomous. I did what I needed to do, not what my mother dictated I should do. Later that night, as I scarfed down the hog’s meat, I felt manhood’s sweet embrace. With each chomp, I was overcome by the hog’s liberating reciprocity as he tore off my skin. I was free.

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