Letter to the Editor

The sow and Aunt Agnes

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I should apologize to the man who gave such pertinent information in response to my first letter bearing questions of great import.

I've always been a trouble and worry to my betters. When a child, and abandoned by my parents to the care of an aunt and uncle (George & Agnes --you will have to figure which is whom), I was an ornery recalcitrant youth with little in the way of beaming gratitude for the care and learning offered me not only on Sunday but during meals and work each blessed day of the week.

Agnes was large bodied, tall. George was slight, stooped. He was beset with sins of his own, some of which I admired greatly. He was wont to stagger slightly after visiting with an old reprobate bachelor on Wednesday evenings while Agnes was gone to Bible class.

When I laughed at his unsteady meanderings he often told me, "the human condition is such that weaknesses develop due to influences beyond human control or understanding. Do-gooders and Bible thumpers do their very 'DAMNEDEST' to erase and destroy any little joy a person might find while alive."

I sat in wide-eyed wonder at meanings of such proclamations. By the time I was old enough to visit with "The Old Reprobate" as Agnes fondly called him, he was squarely ensconced in the Old Soldiers Home and unattainable to the likes of me. I sought him out in search of truth and sanity. That search often came about shortly after being chastised and straightened out by Aunt Agnes.

She believed in not sparing the rod, nor the staff, if by staff one means a supple limb off the handiest apple tree in the yard.

She whupped me good. To this day I can hear the whippy sound of the rod as it sprang backward in readiness of the next mortal lesson about sinning and wrongdoing. I must admit I cried like a child. I was a full 12 years old and nearly a man, but I cried boo hoo hoo until my shirt collar was wet and sopping.

Agnes would then wrap me in her buxom arms until I gasped for air while she prayed for my errors to be overcome by the saints above. I'm not sure whatever saints above did overcome but every time I was wrapped so tight I was very nearly overcome by the pillowy bosom pressing upon me on both sides of my face which all but stopped oxygen from sustaining life.

Two Rubenesque arms held me off the ground in an embrace both fond and demanding just like her voice which insisted on repentance and remorse while I dangled two feet off the ground in blue faced anxiety.

When I'd been whupped enough I was sent out to the cob pile to rest and recuperate from my private lesson on sinning and wrong-doing all the while praying in positive terms for help from above. I did call upon God now and then, even begged for damnation on certain people around me in order to better my condition.

I asked God for favors, one particular one was repeated at least twice weekly, that being to let me spend some time with The Old Reprobate so I could grow up like him. To this day I'm unsure if praying will bring you what you pray for, but there were times in my early and young adult life I think The Old Reprobate would have been proud of me as he looked down from heaven.

A terrible thing my neighbor Buddy and I did which will probably bring me hell fire and damnation, was pulling a pair of Agnes' voluminous bloomers off the clothes line. That was bad, but what we did with them had to be true sin.

It was too much fun to not be. There was a tame sow in the muddy sty. She oinked contentedly any hour of the day, and I suspicioned, night also. She was a big 'un.

Most as wide as she was long. Her faucets were plentiful and dragged in the mud. She liked to be scratched with the claws of George's hammer. Oh how she grunted in pleasure.

Her beady eyes squinched up in joy and her hind end swayed from side to side in rhythm with the hammer claws application. That swaying is what caused us boys to do what we did. Buddy commented, "She looks a lot like your Aunt Agnes walking."

The devil, yes, the master of the pit must have made him say that. I know it was the devil that latched onto my sin-hardened heart to make me agree to the plan us two boys hatched.

I scratched with the hammer, Buddy sneaked quietly behind her and so carefully did he position the legs of the bloomers so old sow stepped into the legs without a quiver or squeal of worry that we might be doing something wrong or untoward. Buddy then proceeded to work the waist band up and around her belly, being careful to encase a few faucets in the process. We opened the gate. Tempted Old Sow along with some kernels of corn in a dead line toward the dirt road passing the farm and almost ran out before we led Old Sow to the edge of town. On the way, Buddy, bless him Lord pulled out a soft marker and added "Agnes" to the bloomers in the hind most position.

The Old Reprobate happened along and offered us pipe tobacco as replacement for our waning supply of corn. It was exactly enough to get us to main street on this fine Saturday afternoon.

An old blue hound came out to sniff at us. Buddy and I were OK with that but Old Sow took umbrage at such doings and leaped upon him with surprisingly agile abandon. Hound bawled as if he was on the scent of a rogue Raccoon as he scattered gravel all the way down main with Old Sow in hot pursuit. Her snorts and grunts were just as loud as Old Hound's bawls so we never did figure out which was the biggest drawing card of the day, but Buddy swears neither were anywhere near the drawing power of the scream Aunt Agnes let out when she exited the cream and egg station to see what all the noise was about.

As you know, fun only lasts so long. In this particular instance it lasted as long as it took all the men in town to corral Old Sow and get the bloomers off her.

I was the star attraction at church the next morning, which was held outside because too many people showed up out of curiosity as to what my eternal punishment would be. Cooler heads prevailed, no doubt due to my heartfelt and earnest prayers the night before, so the murder in Agnes' heart and eyes failed to dictate immediate death and dismemberment. Buddy and I escaped with our lives that fateful morning and I was proud of Uncle George.

I saw him sneak into the back of the church when no one was looking. He took full advantage of the chance to fully sample the wine in the sacristy. When he came outside and I saw him tilted to one side I knew what he'd been up to and the church people were thoroughly convinced the Devil had me by the heart when I laughed out loud as the congregation prayed for my soul.

-- Editor's note: Writer Ray's legal name is ... Writer Ray, and has been for some time.

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