Enjoyed your story Herbert!
|THE SOUR MASH HOG
"Keer fer a chaw Lafe?" Lafe Gorse was sitting on the sagging front porch of Eb Bodeen's cabin on Turkey Bone Ridge. Lafe cut a healthy chunk out of the tobacco plug and handed it back. "Keep er", said Eb, "Got me a passell of em in the cabin. Rufus down to the gen'rl store gives me four dollar in trade fer evry gallon a shine I fetch him and gives me back the empties. Says it eases his rumatiz."
Lafe quickly tucked it into his bib overalls before Eb changed his mind."He drinkin it er rubbin it on?"
"Drinks it I reckon. Seems like he still got all his hide. You recollect when we rubbed some a my shine on that ol' spavined mule?"
Lafe laughed, "Kicked the whole back wall out of the shed an we didn't get her back till snow time".
They commenced a spittin contest using a chicken dropping on the third step for a target.
After a bit Eb spoke up again, "Don't women git the dangdest notions?" Lafe allowed they did.
"Got me all the tobaccer an shotgun shells an sech as I needed me so I asked Becky if she needed anything. CURTAINS by gawd. She wants curtains on all the winders."
"She skeered somebody gonna peek in at her?"
"Ol' Baar done jest thet last Spring. Caught her takin a bath. Skeert thet baar so bad he took off over Skully's Mountain. Had a big sign on his rump, sez 'Texas er bust"
Lafe laughed so hard he swallowed his chaw. Eb had to pound him on the back to get it up where it belonged.
"Know jest what you mean", said Lafe, "Lately the preacher been comin by ever week er so. Hain't it funny how preachers allus come callin at supper time? Anyways, ever time he comes by Edna gets to fussin about havin some ham an sidemeat to serve him up. Sez it ain't fittin to serve a preacher anythin else. I'd like to see how my foot would fittin the seat a his britches. Hain't like we's lackin meat. Me an my ol dog Revalation goes out couple times a week. Most allus brings home a coon er sechlike. Got us a turkey last month an' the preacher went through thet like a buzz saw through a pine knot. Whar she think I'm agonna come by a ham?"
Eb looked thoughtfull for a moment, then said,"Might could help you out. You ever et a sour mash hog Lafe? Sweetest meat they is".
"Cain't say as I have. Heard my pappy tell of them though".
"Wal sir, You know I cain't go dumpin the spent mash from my still inta the creek. Might's well tack up my pitcher on the Sheriff's doorjamb. So I got me a sinkhole whar I dump it. Lately a ol sow been showin up thar and eatin her fill of it most ever day. Fattest ol' thing you ever seed. I swear, you could set up a still on a bare rock in the middle a the desert an soon as thet first bucket a spent mash hit the ground thar'd be a hog jest like magic."
"Wal shoot", said Lafe,"Hog like thet would give both a us a big ol ham an bacon to cure out plus they all thet sow belly an side meat. When you agoin back in thar?"
"Jest so happens I got me a batch ready to jug up right now. You help me fetch the jugs an We'll git her whilst we's thar".
Eb disapeared into the storm cellar and Lafe could hear jugs rattling around. After a bit Eb came back out with a batch of empty jugs strung on ropes. He had another jug under his arm. He shook it by his ear. "Jest enough left in th' jug to git us thar"
They each took a hefty pull from the jug and slung a batch of empty jugs over their shoulder by the ropes, then started down the track to the still.
They reached the still and began to fill the first jug. Just then there was a crashing of brush followed by a sloshing, gurgling sound. They went over to look. The sow was wallowing in the spent mash. Her snout was under the surface and she was blowing big bubbles as she gobbled the mash.
'"Thar she be. Jest like i tolt ye"
"Lawdy, lawdy, bet she'll go two hunnert pound"
"More like three", said Eb, "I'm a good hand at guessin hogs".
A stricken look came over Lafe's face. "Eb. I'm a durn fool. I left my gun asettin on yer porch".
"Yep", said Eb,"Thet shine do have a way of pacifyin yer brain. Don't worry. Time we get these jugs filled, she'll be all drunked up on thet mash an sleepin it off. We kin jest sneak down an cut her throat. She won't even know she's daid till she wakes up in hog heaven".
They went back to filling jugs. First they put a siphon hose into the still barrel. Then of course they had to suck on the end to get it started. That left them with a mouthfull of shine an neither one was the wastefull type so down it went. They could have just pinched the hose shut while they changed jugs but that wasn't any fun so they pulled the siphon out each time and restarted it for the next jug. By the time they got the last jug filled they were in almost the same shape as the hog.
They spun around several times before they got their feet pointed in the right direction and lost the trail a couple times, even though it was only twenty feet to the sump. The sow was laying on her side in the mash, snoring loudly.
"I'll sneak down an take keer of her",said Eb,"You go fetch one a them ropes to haul her out'n thar."
Eb started into the sump but he hadn't taken more than two steps when his feet slid on the slippery mash and shot out straight in front of him. Down the slope he went like a runaway sled.
Eb was going so fast when he hit bottom that he skipped across the surface like a stone skips on a pond. Alarmed by the racket the hog leaped to her feet, only to have her legs knocked from under her by the speeding Eb Bodeen.
Lafe returned to the edge of the sump with the rope, then stood there with his mouth hanging open as he tried to figure out what he was seeing.
Eb was flat on his back in the mash, with the sow sitting on his chest. She just sat there with a silly drunken grin. Her tail was in Ebs face. Eb had both hands braced against the sow's rump to keep her from sliding any farther. He looked over at Lafe.
"Lafe iffen it's all the same to you I believe I've admired this here view long enuf. Be obleeged if'n you git this fat hog offa me"
Lafe tipped the jug again just to steady himself a bit, then crawled into the sump on his hands and knees so he wouldn't end up in the same predicament Eb found himself in.
Lafe walked around and around the hog studying the situation. Finally he began rocking the hog back and forth but each time he rocked her she slid higher on Eb's chest.
"WHOA thar Lafe. Ye keep thet up an you're agonna embarass me and this yere sow both".
Lafe walked in front of the sow out of Eb's sight. "Got me a idee"
Eb heard the gurgle of shine pouring from a jug. "Lafe effen yer agonna jest stand there guzzlin my shine at least pour a little down MY gullet"
Suddenly the sow gave a tremendous shudder and fell sideways off Eb's chest. Eb sat up and looked at her. "Ye stick er?"
"Naw", said Lafe. " I jest figgered if she got thet drunk on sour mash some a the real thing might finish her off"
It was coming on sundown and Eb still hadn't returned. Becky was getting concerned as she sat in the kitchen putting a patch on the patch on the seat of Eb's bib overalls.
Suddenly she heard something coming up the trail. It sounded for all the world like two men and a pig trying to sing, "Bringing In The Sheaves " in three part harmony. She went to the window and looked out just as they came around the bend where the trail divided. Eb and Lafe were riding on the biggest durn pig Becky had ever laid eyes on. As she watched, Lafe fell off the pig and started crawling down the track that led to his cabin. Eb and the pig came on. Becky sat down again and pretended she hadn't seen them.
She heard Eb beller, "Whoa thar ol gal, we's home". She heard the creak of the porch steps, then a thump as Eb fell flat onto the porch. She heard him fumbling at the draw latch and the door swung open. Eb staggered into the kitchen followed by the sow.
"Ye git thet filthy drunken animule outen my house", she yelled.
"Aw Becky, she's a good ol gal. If she hadn't hauled me outen thet sump I'da been a goner fer sure"
"Shet yer face Eb Bodeen. I were talkin to the pig".
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