Mon | May 29, 2017

Short Story - For the love of pork

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Succulent jerked pork.

Ditta Sylvester, Contributor

Like most of the residents of Hillock, Donald Morrison loved pig meat. For years, he had managed to hide his partiality to pork from his girlfriend, Doris, a deeply religious girl who regarded pigs and pork as disgustingly unclean.

"I hope you don't expect me to cook dis ... dis hog when we get married," Doris fumed, the day she caught Donald frying pork skin.

"No, D," Donald grinned sheepishly. "You know I respect you an what you believe."

Weeks later, when he discovered that the much older Pastor Andrews also had his eye on his voluptuous girlfriend, Donald told her that he had come to a serious decision: He would abandon pork and begin attending church. Sister Doris was most pleased and she set a date for the wedding. But things changed the evening she came to enquire about his absence from church that day. Oblivious to her presence, Donald sat cavorting with his friends at Hillock's annual pork festival.

"What is di sweetest animal dat di good Lord made?" he bellowed.

"Pig!" his friends responded in unison.

"Amen!" Donald grinned. "In fact," he expounded, "if Him didn't wait so long to create man, Him could a did rest himself as Him done meck piggy!"

As he slapped the table laughing boisterously at his own joke, Doris shouted:

"Donald Morrison!"

The laughter died as he swung round to face her.

"Dis is blasphemy!" Doris seethed as Donald gazed open-mouthed at his outraged fiancée. "An' a talk bout you might soon baptise - lie!"

Sadly, the shamefaced Donald watched as she hissed derisively and walked out of his life. Later that evening, Doris told Pastor Andrews she was ready to marry him.

Comfort food

Dejected, Donald began to use pork as comfort food, eating it every day and in every possible style. Shortly thereafter, he came to the conclusion that a lonely man such as himself should naturally enjoy the company of the animals whose meat he so adored. As the size of his herd increased, Timothy Henry became the young butcher to whom Donald sold most of the pigs he raised.

Having given birth to their son, Ainsley, Doris had settled nicely into her life as the preacher's wife. But things changed dramatically when a stroke left Mr Andrews bedridden. Doris was compelled to work at the few available household jobs, while Timothy was hired part-time to drive the truck which the preacher formerly used to earn a living.

Deeply concerned for Doris, Donald had been wracking his brains to find a way to contribute to the struggling fortunes of the Andrews' family, without hurting her pride. Eventually, he introduced Ainsley to the idea of cleaning up the outside of the pig pen once or twice a week. When the boy took his wages home, his mother was not exactly pleased by the way in which he had earned it. But times were hard, so she told him he could go on working for Donald if he promised her never to touch or get close to the pigs. Ainsley, who had always enjoyed watching the fat little piglets squealing and scampering, doubted that he could live up to this promise. He could never quite understand why his mother so hated pigs, and when Timothy drove into Donald's yard one Friday evening, his integrity was sorely tested.

"Is what you have in dat pan, Tim?" Donald asked as the man approached.

"Pork," Timothy grinned. "We goin to have a feast dis evening!"

Donald cleared his throat and reached into his pocket. "Come Ainsley," he said. "I goin' to pay you so you can go home now."

"So why you don't want di boy eat some pork?" Timothy asked.

"Him don't eat pig meat," Donald said. "Come, son. You mom must be wondering where you gone."

"Wait!" Timothy said to Ainsley. "You mean to say from you born you neva eat pork?"

Ainsley admitted that he hadn't.

"But dat can't be right!" Timothy objected.

"Don't temp di boy to disobey Miss Doris," Donald said.

"So a Doris a di problem," Timothy mused. "Well if you don't tell her we not goin' tell her, right Don?"

Donald saw that the boy desperately wanted to taste the thing, so he said nothing. Ainsley became hooked at first bite.

Pork confessions

Later that night, Doris was in the kitchen getting something for her ailing husband when she heard her son muttering in his sleep. Though his mumblings were incoherent she could clearly hear the words "pork", "jerk" and "sweet".

Doris walked into his room, watched and listened in dismay as Ainsley, his eyes closed, muttered the words, "Jerk pork man ... . Want more to ... Want sweet jerk pooork!"

Having forced the pork confession out of him, Doris grabbed her whip and proceeded to show her son how betrayed and frustrated she felt.

"What happening?" Mr Andrews called feebly from his bed. "Doris? Ainsley? What wrong?"

Dragging the boy into his father's presence, Doris told her husband of the terrible sin Ainsley had committed. Mr Andrews advised his wife to calm down and let go of the boy. As Doris reluctantly complied he continued, "You rememba dat vision Peter did get when him was sleepin', Wife? I believe it in Acts chapter ... chapta 10."

He then related the Bible account of how, in a vision, Peter had been instructed to eat not only the meat of pigs, but also that of several other animals formerly considered unclean.

"But you don't eat pork," Doris countered.

"True," said the preacher. "But as a matter of choice, I don't force my beliefs on people. I proud of how Ainsley helping you out. So what if him eat a piece of pork? You goin' to kill him for it?"

Doris sent Ainsley back to bed and a week later, her husband went to sleep and never woke up. All of Hillock mourned the death of the good preacher and vowed to do what they could to help his family. Donald still desired Doris, but he knew she still hated pigs and their meat. Surprisingly, it was Timothy Henry who forced him back into his beloved's life.

"Tings aright between your madda an' Timmy?" he asked Ainsley one evening.

The boy shook his head dismally. "No, sir. Him not giving her as much money as before Daddy dead."

"But him should be giving her more," Donald reasoned. "Every day dat truck up an' down dis road."

"An' it look like ... ." Ainsley broke off and looked away.

"Look like what?"

"Look like him want Mom to."

"What!"

As Donald neared the Andrews' house the evening after, he overheard Doris say: "You believe because my husband dead I have to put up with you an' you slackness?"

Startled, he heard Timothy respond: "So what you goin' do 'bout it?"

"Give me my money an go 'bout you business!" Doris retorted.

"You believe you betta dan me, right Doris?"

"I sure say I am betta dan you! You ever see me tiefing money from orphan an' widow?"

"Is who you a call thief?" Timothy retorted. He continued in a softer tone: "You give me what I want, I give you your right money an' everybody can live happy."

Edging closer, Donald felt like something inside him was about to explode.

"Keep away from me Timothy!" Doris shrieked. "You hear I say don't touch mi?"

"Timothy!" Donald bellowed as he pounded on the front door.

Silence. Till Doris came running through the half opened door.

"Miss Doris, you ... ?" he started to ask as she shot past him into the yard.

Fine beating

As she wept in silence, Donald stormed into the house, loudly reprimanded the cowardly Timothy, and gave him a fine beating. By the time he had dragged the man whimpering out of the house, news of the incident had wafted down the hill on the evening breeze and people came like ants up a sugar stick.

"What happening here, Mr Don?" somebody asked.

"Noh dis bad breed man want rape off dis defenceless lady!" Donald fumed.

"Rape!" The people echoed incredulous. The word buzzed and rippled, revoltingly hot, through the fevered throng.

"We a kill him dis evening!" the crowd yelled.

The end would have been disastrous had Donald not hidden the offender inside the house till the anger of the crowd cooled. Timothy left Hillock for good and a better man was quickly found to drive the Andrews' truck. Deeply obliged to Donald, Doris regularly cooked him dinner for many weeks after.

"Tanks fi di curry, Miss D," he told her one evening. "But I can't come tomorrow.'

"Why?" .

"Well ..." Donald hesitated.

"Because tomorrow is pork festival?" Doris asked quietly.

Donald flashed her a guilty look. She had hit the nail squarely on the head.

Doris smiled. "Listen, Don," she began. "Pork mash up me an' you a ready and I don't want it happen again."

"What we goin' do 'bout it?" Donald asked glumly.

"Well, I can't stop you from eating pork an Ainsley him love it bad too, so ..."

"So?"

"As mi husband did say one time, is a choice ting, so if you want to ... ." She shrugged.

"So it aright wid you if me eat pork?" Donald asked hopefully.

"Might as well. But you an Ainsley goin' have to cook it outside."

Donald's heart raced. "So ... you saying wi can get married, Doris?"

Smiling, she nodded. "But you must promise not to mix up my cooking tings wid pork."

"Any ting you say!" Donald chuckled.