So Why the Smile

by JR Hager IIOn the way back from Colorado with my Aunt Connie, our long, boring drive was happily interrupted. Well, happily in some respects.
I had to wake her up to hold the wheel, so I could snap this picture, what I call, 'But look at the view.'  I worried if she would act fast enough, and coherent enough with her "road-lag" daze, before the pig decides to withdraw his head back in the truck with the others. Either he was enjoying the scenery or the fresh air, or his head was caught there; we didn't know- but he  didn't move. No, not even when Connie steered her car up   closer, for a better picture; did he budge from his little port hole. And he was alive! I saw his eyes blink as he watched us endanger our lives just for a shot at his 'soon to be a pork chop' butt. Maybe that's what made him smile. We helped to take his mind off.

"I'd take a long look too, if I was going where he is," she joked, as she settled back in her seat and let me take over again.

I was alarmed into silence, and didn't respond. I was so engrossed in the getting of the picture of this cute, but odd, smiling pig, that I didn't see further. I didn't grasp all of his true situation; until Connie said this. I was a teenager then, eighteen or nineteen, which wasn't very conducive to my snappy grasp of logic at the time. But when it hit me it hurt. This pig's reality crashed into me. I stopped photographing, tossed my camera in the back seat, sat up straight and closed the window to let the air conditioner try to catch up. I was so engrossed in this poor pig that my foot eased off the gas, and instead of passing them as I was intending to do before we saw the poor pigs face, I had slowed down, and the truck was passing us now.

"Put your pedal to the medal," she encouraged me. "Don't get behind this truck, JR, that smells hellish. Disgusting!" Connie warned.

It took a while for the old Benz to get back to it's prior speed. We didn't look out at the pig when we finally passed him. But we both knew he was probably still there, we sure smelled him. I understood explicitly what she meant, the fumes overtook us with a vengeance.The air conditioner had a hard time keeping up with it, and it would have lost entirely if she wouldn't have said anything and we would have lagged behind.

Some time afterward, when we stopped for gas. the truck of pigs had taken the same exit we did and passed us, as we filled-up the car. The smiling pig was still at his port hole. We both waved to him, then frowned at each other. When Connie came back to the car after paying, I was sitting on the passenger side; electing her to drive now. I had lost my energy and was a little depressed from looking in the pigs eyes, as well as contemplating his short life. If I didn't see him I could have probably driven further. I had no idea, however, what Connie had in mind, and just how depressed we were about to become that day. She often apologized years afterward for following the truck to the slaughter house, instead of just getting back on the interstate and continuing our drive home to Pennsylvania.

If the truck wasn't in front of us, we could have found the place by following the smell.Then, with the strange piercing noise, that we discovered as we got closer to what looked like a huge, muddy, run down warehouse; was the actual screaming of thousands of pigs.They were fenced in all around the complex and appeared to make their own fog, that rose above each pen. And seemed to produce their own damp dreary weather here, in their hellish destination, that was quite different from the warm, bright, afternoon weather back at the gas station. But, with that, what made Connie turn around that memorable day, the last straw for her, and without an argument from me; was the gut wrenching smell of death- ten times as worse than the manure - that engulfed us. Our nose stung and our eyes couldn't produce tears fast enough for it's intensity. So much so, that our showers that night took exceptionally long, and our appetite for pork was gladly left on the side of the interstate;becoming as wholesome and nutritious to us as a road-kill.

They say that a pig is more intelligent than a dog. Taking that into consideration; I feel that that pig was even more intelligent than his panicking friends around him. That pig knew full well what was happening and realized he had no escape. His response was just as Connie said that she would do in the pigs predicament; taking one last look, out his porthole, at the world, savoring all it's beauty before ...

But, I like to think, and picture this special pig, walking up the planks to his demise,would be without a whimper of fear. And, with no hesitation in his stride, would nod his head to the butchers as he passes; with no blink in his eyes of what's coming next, or from the terror on the face of the one ahead of him. And, maybe he would remember the view and Connie and I, those daring humans that photographed him earlier in the day; and, hopefully that would help him keep his composure, and his smile.

Ya-no Yur Stoner  ~when skunk road kill doesn't smell all that bad to ya ! 

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