The deformed animal menagerie
26 August 2002
The morning sun rose early for the limbless pig in the porcine enclosure. The vodka binge the previous night had not given the little pig an easy night's sleep. Although he knew that he'd be wanting more shut-eye by midday, it seemed best to get up now.
He rolled over and headbutted his drinking and sleeping companion, the albino pig with no eyes and no mouth. Although undisturbed by the rising bright light, the blind mute animal felt as rough as his limbless friend. Who needed a mouth when you could snort Poland's finest through your snout? But with the residues of Poland's finest sliding down his synapses (or so it felt), the albino felt it may have been better if he had been born without a nose too. Prevention of temptation at least.
"Come on - hup!" he heard his companion whisper. With a snort and then a shudder - a burning glob of snot and vodka had just dribbled out of his snout - the albino lifted his limbless buddy onto his back. Together the two rode on out of the sty, through the dew on the grass and towards the mud bath for their morning scrub.
The pigs hadn't been the only animals getting merry that night. Over by the pond, the awakening ducks were also feeling penitent. Unlike the pigs, the ducks' tastes veered more towards the chemical. Every few months, when the flashbacks came too fast and bright and the comedowns too soon and harsh, they would detox. Pills and powders were refused in favour of natural plants when offered by Foxy, the local dealer (actually a cat rather than a fox, so not so much deformed as confused - hence her position on the edges of the menagerie). Good solids bricks of resin and bags of grass were bought instead. After a fortnight of getting extraordinarily stoned, the ducks would crave something stronger and Foxy would stock up on chemical derivatives again.
The ducks also lacked the constitution and self-control of the pigs. Even when the embroidered cockerel crowed for the third time, the brood quacked sulkily and continued to doze as a dazed yellow rubber heap on the side of the pond.
The pigs rolled and bathed in the cool mud; already the limbless one felt his headache dissipating. He swung himself round to see his companion happily kicking his trotters up. "Fancy a song?" he called. The albino nodded, and the pig without legs launched into an off-key version of "Mud, Glorious Mud".
There was a third pig left back in the sty. Despite being invited he had not joined the other two on their vodka binge, and had spent the night alone in the hay. The Count (he was of Czech aristocracy) had arrived in the menagerie three weeks previously and had yet to spend a night away from the sty with company. The first half of the Count's body was full and complete - head, trunk, one pair of trotters with which he could pull himself around. All pink and healthy. The second half was a cardboard cone which he withdrew into at night to sleep.
"In my country, many of us there are like this" he had explained haughtily, haltingly to the others. "I am not freak. I am not monster. I will not indulge with you to be different or to celebrate". For the first week he had revelled in this isolation, knowing that he was different and apart from those other monsters who tried to behave as normal animals. Why were they so happy? Always, when they were clearly freaks. But ...he had feigned sleep as his sty-mates awoke, and had heard them leave. Now, as the sun rose higher in the sky, he wished he had been more friendly. He was lonely. He missed Else, his sow, but the war meant he could never go back.
Burrowing into the hay, the Count wept.
The day grew hotter and lunchtime came. In the field by the farmhouse the one-eyed bull with three-and-a-half legs bucked and mooed. Farmer George had been eyeing the creature for some months now and was convinced that the animal needed help. There was deformity, and then there was this. Nothing seemed to soothe the beast, and any animals who tried to offer comfort were kicked. Farmer George sat at his laptop in the kitchen overlooking the paddock and sighed.
Maybe the bull needed a partner? It was possible that a deformed cow would bring the bull back to earth. Tugging his beard thoughtfully Farmer George emailed his friend Farmer Barnaby at his farm in Australia. Would there be a mate...?
It had been a relaxing day. The pigs had frolicked in the mud, dozed in the orchard and eaten a filling lunch of acorns. Now, after a pleasant chat with Foxy and the fuzzy-felt mice, the pigs were returning to the sty.
In his mildly hungover daze the limbless pig had failed to notice that they were approaching the duck pond until it was too late. Hearing the quacks and splashes, the albino pig tensed; feeling his mate's body stiffen under him the limbless pig muttered "Quick, quick, just carry straight on and we'll get passed them in a minute."
But the rubber ducks had seen them. There was a sound of squeaking as they jostled to get to the edge of the pond. The pigs always provided fine sport for their cruel jeers. The albino tried to trot swiftly past, but the insults had begun. "Cripple!" The quacks came quick and fast. "The blind carrying the spazzed!" they quacked and "What's the matter, haven't you got a whole body between you?"
As the limbless pig heard the cry of "Thalidomide bacon!", he rolled slightly and bellowed "Polyurathane! Cancer-causing mutants! Duck a le jaune!" There was an outraged cacophony of squeaks and quacks, and the pigs belted past towards the safety of the sty.
The Count heard the others come running in and collapse on the hay laughing and snorting. He dragged himself towards them and hoped that his eyes weren't still red. "Good day?" he asked tentatively. The limbless pig rolled towards him. "Fantastic - oh, you should have seen the ducks!" He rolled back chuckling.
"Got any plans for tonight then?" the Count asked. The limbless pig looked at him in surprise and then grinned. "We've got a bottle of 12-year malt just begging to be tested if you'd like to join us."
The Count nodded. "Fine plum brandy I'm sure it's not, but I would certainly like to try".
The pigs drank well into the night, sharing stories and song, and the Count was taught to read the sign-language that the albino gestured with. As he fell asleep in the wee hours, the Count was drunkenly humming a tune about a fine fine sow and her fine fine teats.
Across the farm, a cylindrical metal sheep baa-ed.