Pig Boy's Wicked Bird by P-IndependentPublish


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									Pig Boy's Wicked Bird
Author: Doug Crandell
Table of Contents

1 Who Is the Real Pig Boy? 3
2 When Grandfathers Steal Pigs 5
3 Our Lady of Electrical Light 13
4 Chores and Sex Ed 19
5 Wicked Birds 29
6 Pillow Therapy, Rocks Too 37
7 First Soaks During Hee-Haw 45
8 A Glimpse of Jimmy 51
9 And Then There Were Two 57
10 Break-Fist at Noon 71
11 It’s Home and It’s Weird 75
12 Devil Worshippers 81
13 Third-Person Mother Cometh 93
14 Peanut and the Other Runts 99
15 Your Mother’s in the Bicentennial Bathroom 109
16 Dot Matrix Bills and the Fourth of July 119
17 He’s Saying His Runty Good-Byes 129
18 Winesburg, Ohio and Homemade Shirts 135
19 Run, Joe, Run 143
20 Fear Far from I– 465 147
21 If Thy Hand Offends Thee, Cut It Off 163
22 Taking the Meringue Ridge Back Home 173
23 Colored Glass 187
24 Buy These 193
25 The Uncle Sam Outfit 201
26 Pig Boy on the Lam 211
27 Don’t Go Parading My Heart Around 217
28 Poisoned Heart 225
29 Ear Envy 231
30 Watching Roots in an Inaugural Blizzard 241
Epilogue 251
Acknowledgments 262

This gritty tragicomic memoir is set in one memorable year—1976, the Bicentennial, when Jimmy Carter
ran for president and seven-year-old Doug Crandell lost two fingers in a farming accident. More than
anything, Doug wants to shed his nickname, Pig Boy, and grow up to be a hog man like his father. His
older brother Derrick reads pulp novels to him each night as he soaks his remaining fingers in Epsom
salts. His brothers urge him to “flip the Wicked Bird” any time another child makes fun of his “lobster-red
hand.” Doug shares his summer of healing in Wabash, Indiana, with humans and animals who’ve suffered
life-changing traumas: a brutal grandfather gentled by stroke, a deaf dog with a deadly taste for pig’s
ears, a tough-love mother coping with depression, a bevy of runt piglets saved from extermination. This is
a story of love, loss, healing, and a family’s relation with the land they love and know that they will lose.

When I mentioned the Pig Boy story to my father, he seemed puzzled at first. “No,” he said blandly, “I
don’t remember anyone telling that.”I pushed him a little further. “You know, the adults didn’t understand
how the little kid was getting fatter but not eating?” He became animated, moved his hands like he was
taking a livestock
bid; an auctioneer, he’s never lost the showmanship of the ring.
“I believe I do remember that. Yes. But I am not sure who that was.” He hanged his head a little. Was it
something to be ashamed of? I know I’ve certainly not told many people the story. Did he know
something I didn’t?
“Was it you?” I asked, half joking, but wanting it to be him, to get off the hook myself.
“No,” he quickly responded. He peered past me, over my
shoulder, to a movie of memory that apparently was playing on the wall behind me.
He stopped staring and turned to me. “Maybe it was you,” he said, smiling, the look in his tired eyes
saying he knew the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I dropped the subject and asked how his knees
were doing, thoughts of Pig Boy running rampant in my head as spooked livestock.
I do hope so very badly that it wasn’t me. But the thing is, I was chunky too, and picky about food. If that
was it, I might not even wonder if I could have been the pig boy, but another distinct memory of my
maternal grandparents and their house in Terre Haute, Indiana, haunts me. In their living room was a Bible
that stood a half-foot thick when closed. It was white with gold lettering on the cover, silver filigreed on
every page, and color pictures of the Crucifixion, and I coveted the thing, wanted to steal it, but knew that
would mean my untimely damnation to Hell.
On that same table was a pewter statue of Romulus and Remus nursing at the drooping breasts of a
strong she-wolf. The brothers were knelt down on either side of their wild mother. I’d stare at that statue
for what seemed like days, taking it all in, trying to understand what the boys were doing to the animal,
how it was that she could mother something that was not like her. I’d trail my fingers along the tarnished
metal and put them to my nose to smell. Somehow, I’d gotten the idea that the statue was part of the
same biblical motif that my grandparents adorned their home with, sacred and holy. When I recall the
table with the Bible and statue, I close my eyes and try hard to think if I could’ve gotten back to Wabash
from Terre Haute, having been moved spiritually by my grandparents, and went about trying to re-create
the scene for myself on a sow. I don’t think I did, I’ll tell myself, but there’s always that doubt.
Somewhere, down deep inside, I do remember losing my hunger and finding it again, and it’s that
memory, so firm and completely distinct, that makes me think I am the original, unimitated, wholly found
Pig Boy. It’s as close to a confession as I can muster, at least for now.
Author Bio
Doug Crandell
Doug Crandell is a widely published writer whose stories have appeared in the Evansville Literary Review,
the Sherwood Anderson Review, and forthcoming in Smithsonian Magazine. He is the recipient of a
Sherwood Anderson Writers Grant and a winner of the Night Train Firebox, Pig Iron Malt, River City, and
other fiction contests. He is the author of Man Vs. Nature. He lives in Smyrna, Georgia.

"A memoir so endearing that one hates to see it end."

"Richly anecdotal, the work leaves no detail unexamined, whether physical or ethereal . . . Crandell
addresses everything . . . with poetry and imagination."

"Alternately funny and tender...Crandell writes with a novelist's flair."

"Crandell is a genuine talent, and [this] is a magical book. Don't miss this one."

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