When the pig comes crashing through my kitchen window, I'm not sure what to think. I mean, dig: There I am just hanging out, eating some Boo Berry, waiting for the afternoon rack session (hoping that Stanson and Jonesy are on duty 'cause they usually give me a break--Barnes and Salinger always stretch me till they hear ligaments tear and sockets pop), when lo, what's this flying through my window? A big, fat, porcine letter bomb. I jump out of my chair and run over to the window to try to get a look at the bastards who launched it, but by the time I get there, all that remain are the shattered window--bits still dropping off, tinkling in the post-apigalyptic silence--flames belching from the Lake of Sorrow (I have a villa on the waterfront), and smoking brimstone as far as the eye can see. The pig scrambles to its feet and dashes into my living room, squealing all the way ...
This is how I got here:
Driving on a country road. Nothing but farmland for miles and miles. Gravel spluttering and popping in my wheel wells. Hot day. Not hot as Hell, because I now know how hot Hell can get, but still pretty brutal.
Zoning. Just staring ahead at the heat-shimmering trees to either side of me. Not even sleepy, just caught in that nowhere-land of hazy days and even hazier thoughts.
In my peripheral, a flash of orange and white.
Then a crunch, and the car lifts on the right side, like I’d just barrelled over a speed bump.
My heart slams in my chest. Sweat pops out on my forehead. I cram on the brakes. A plume of dirt rises behind me. The car stops.
In the rearview mirror, a woman—partially obscured by the cloud of dust I’ve created—runs to the edge of the road. She kneels. Screams once.
I open the door, get out of the car, walk toward the kneeling woman and her scream. The dust clears more with every step I take, and I see what she is kneeling over.
White shorts. Orange shirt. Splashes of dark red across them. It is a young girl. She does not move.
The woman screams again, this time much longer. I can’t tell if I’m breathing anymore. I just stand there in the road and blink quickly, maybe waiting to wake up.
I hear a screen door slam, then gravel crunching, look up, see a man with a shotgun. Wet eyes. Determination in his step. He stops in front of me, plants his feet. Two giant oaks rooted in the ground. He takes one deep breath, raises the barrel.
I wonder if he was perhaps at the window, watching his daughter and wife play outside, maybe thinking about how good his life is, how lucky a man he is to have this wonderful family.
Life is like this, I think, my heart settling, slowing. For both of us, friend. It steals things when we’re not looking.
And then I am incapable of thinking anything at all, because my face has been blasted through the back of my skull.
When I open my eyes—these eyes that should no longer open, in my skull that should no longer be anything but splinters I am in a house. Not a house I’ve ever been in before. Someone else’s house.