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He’s making his way through the world. It's been fifteen years since he's seen the streets of that small town, fifteen years of nights laying awake, missing her breath on his neck, fifteen baseball seasons that the dogs didn’t wake him before sunrise, fifteen unseen gas station calendars of naked beauties who never change except in how you look at them.


Fifteen years since his very own runts clambered up on their Papa's knee at Christmastime.


The runts'll be big now, the girls young married ladies if you please and the boys strutting as men of the place will, that or gone for the big cities to muddy their souls with sin and experience.


His wife-- she'll be gray-haired but then she went that way in one horrible afternoon, the very day...


So now he's making his way through the world, living job to job, standing on streetcorners in the cold morning with a cup of burnt coffee in one hand and a loose cigarette burning in the other. “Washing his face in the morning dew” like someone sang once. When he gets lucky (not often now) he cracks his knees getting into a pickup truck with other men, most of them twenty years younger from south of the border. When luck dries up he finds a quiet place to stretch out and roll through the Hours, as the dome of sky slowly fills with dark.


Him! Who used to run the whole warehouse for Big JJ Bidilicus! He'd wear a tie everyday and he had his own secretary who maybe didn't bring him coffee but she answered the phone and screened his calls, and that's a luxury most on Earth will never know… twenty men to answer to him! He'd scream "Hustle, you lazy bastards!" and "I want those pallets unloaded by lunch, y' hear me!" and twenty men would cuss and jump.


Enough in salary so he and the wife could buy their own small farm far out past the warehouses. Not big: two cows, twelve chickens, two ponies, brood sow and a litter of piglets, small barn and pond. Not even a "farm" exactly but substantial enough for that town.


Now a duffel sack’s slung over his shoulder wherever he goes, the mark of a failure who carries his home on his back. A romantic might see it as a mark of freedom, but romantics don’t get around much. He cried like a little baby everyday, for years, sitting on the sandy shoulder of some nameless Western road as the wind moaned and lifted dust from the fields.


He'd sniffle thinking of his home, his marital bed, his TV, sniffle at his lost reputation. "A pillar no more," he'd snuffle, "ain't a town father, householder, volunteer fireman, Boy Scout leader, man of solid judgement. I’m nothin’ now.” Tears ran down his sunburned face as he screamed the names of his beautiful wife and his handsome kids into the desert hills.


His eyes are dead volcanoes, all dried up; he’s almost forgotten how to speak. 


He loved his wife; he never meant to harm her. He wasn't making  comparisons by what he did, it wasn't a cry for attention like he'd read some doctor say in the paper. It was just spillover, that's all it was: spillover. And that’s no better or worse, just different--in addition to.


Still he wished his kids hadn't been there to see it. Not all of them were, just the youngest ones. It was bad they were there, he readily conceded it— very bad. He had to take responsibility for that if he was any kind of man at all, any kind of father. "I might not be much of a moral creature," he often said aloud, "but I was a good father."


Except for that one time.


His little girl began to cry, to beg her mama to do something to help Papa. His tiny son's face puckered as he turned away and crumpled against the fence. A boy is never too young to be ashamed of his father.


His wife got the spike in the heart, took it full on. Soul of his soul, eternal campfire companion, childhood sweetheart. How to speak a dead tongue in the ear of a modern woman? “There is no common social currency for what he did,” the newspaper psychiatrist said.


And of course he never could've put it to her in words she could understand. He didn't know that many words to begin with.


She'd come running at the first scream. He’d hadn‘t been able to make a sound for what seemed a long time, like he was underwater being dragged out by a giant sucking wave, his lungs crushed to rags, but the pain ripped through his throat. His head flopped back and he roared. He wept, he screamed and begged, his knees, shins and elbows bleeding and dusty.


Now he's got three dollars and fifteen cents; he hasn't worked in two days. He's down to about 120 pounds; he's hungry and his head aches like he's laid it on a hot stovetop. His teeth are almost gone after all the years on the road. So he'll buy the day-old box of donuts for $1.99 at the mart, try and ration them but that won't be hard cause he can hardly keep anything down anymore anyway. His clothes are so big they make him look comical.


As for his former friends and neighbors—well, "friend" is not a reliable word. It changes color like a chameleon; he's learned this to his everlasting bitterness. Where were his "friends" then, in the blood-soaked aftermath? Where was the sympathetic phone call from JJ Bidilicus, his patron of more than twenty years? He knew where these “friends” were alright--they were snickering in the shadows of the bars and the alleys, and in the churches too.


The doctor alone had showed humanity in that wretched hour. With skillful hands he'd stitched and cleansed and balmed, administered  drugs that kept the world briefly blessedly dark and kept the man from going insane with shame. After a few days, the doctor gave the man crutches and took no payment ("looking to take it up with my wife later on!" the man often thought miserably).


He took off as soon as he was well enough to walk, bought a bus ticket, left his wife with the one car. She didn’t allow him the honor of a visit with her or the children.


He never saw any of them again.


But who knew? Who knew the sphincter muscles of a sow were powerful enough to rip a man's testicles off? If only it had stopped there...but he couldn't get loose, she wouldn't let him go once she got ahold of him, though he punched and screamed. The big pig bucked and rolled, its asshole tightened like an infernal vise, dragging him naked through the dust of his own backyard. His dick bleeding and flattened as if by a sledgehammer, pulled mostly his wife and little ones watched in horror, holding their hands to their faces, shrieking with him, the pig, each other, all  the noise rising straight up into the hot blue sky.


So he walks the world alone now; there's no going back. He’s become a mythical figure, an urban legend, the man who fucked a pig and couldn't get loose. His old "friends" tell of the incident with authority and glee, no doubt, in the bars, alleys and churches.


His wife and kids--who can say? Changed their names maybe, to throw off the rotten shame of his memory. The sons are probably either priests or killers or both. The daughters no doubt have married men who hate and beat animals. And his wife is certainly with the doctor who saved his life, and then cast him adrift into the cheap legends of the world.


He sleeps in parking lots, under the stars, in concrete culverts by the freeways. He thinks back to the hot afternoon that changed his time on earth forever and wonders why he did it. He looks up to the stars, unsure why he was ever brought into life, why he was ever born a man.