Pig-Boy and the Insectorator

by Biff Spork

Chapter 25

Triangles and a Helicopter

Hector met Melissa over lunch at the health food store where she worked. On her tablet, she opened up samples of the video she had shot with the new camera equipment. "I love the gimbal. You can walk around with the camera, and it makes everything smooth."

"Yeah. This footage looks terrific. I've been thinking. It's too late to do it with this video, but if we make another, we should get a drone and have some shots zooming down from above." Hector opened his briefcase and brought out a few sheets of paper. "You want to look at the questions I'm going to ask Zhiv?"

"Yeah. And here's mine." She offered the list of questions she'd extracted from the emails and comments about the pig-boy video.

Hector nodded as he read. "These are very good. I especially like the ones about the different species working together and the mara as a truce area: How does it work? Is it global?" Hector put her questions into his briefcase.

Melissa handed his list back to him. "A lot of the questions we want answered are on both our lists. I think it's most important to ask how humans can rebuild a good relationship with other animals and the environment. People want to be like Zhiv, but they don't know how. When I talked to David about that, he said people weren't going to like what Zhiv had to say."

"Did he say what was going to be unpopular?"

"He said Zhiv was going to say people need to stop eating animals — go vegan. I'm sure there's more, but that was all he mentioned."

"Yeah. I agree. It's not likely to be popular, but it's a good answer because it's simple and direct. And it's not something you can do once and then forget. It's all day, every day, and it leads to a change in attitude and a changing relationship with the world, not just animals. You begin to see that the world and all its creatures are not just things for us to use and then discard, like a cigarette butt, and that it's time for humanity to begin to work with nature, not against it."

Hector and David had scheduled the video shoot for the following morning. Hector said he would pick up Melissa at her house before dawn. David would meet them on Jana Mountain.

The boys played the ball game without restraint until they were exhausted. They lay panting at the tree-shaded edge of the meadow until their breathing had returned to normal, David got to his feet. "I need a long cool swim." He moved towards the lake. "C'mon, you guys."

They stood at the edge of the lake and David looked over at Zhiv. "Let me see if I can ask them." He concentrated then on the lake. River was mystified. Then a fish jumped above the surface. An increasing number of others joined the first until the lake was a riot of fish leaping into the air. When they finished their greeting display, an immense shoal of trout roiled the shallows at David's feet.

David looked over his shoulder at River. There were tears on River's cheeks. David said, "Let's swim."

River nodded and they strolled into the water.

When the boys later emerged from the copse that held the lake, three horses were waiting for them — a bay mare, her red coat shining in the sun, accompanied the gray and the black.

The boys greeted the horses, and Zhiv laughed. "They knew you were here, River. This bay horse says she wants her own boy." He turned to River. "Do you ride?"

"I've never been on a horse."

"It's lunchtime — I can hear David's stomach growling — but these horses have come specially to greet you, River. The pigs, those pigs who forgave you this morning, they've broadcast to the mara that you're one of us now. Everybody wants to meet you. And the bay, this beautiful red mare, wants to give you a ride."

River eyed the mare. Her reddish-brown coat shone warmly in the sunlight. With the accents of her black mane, socks and tail, she was beautiful. She was taller at the withers than River's head. "How do I get on?"

"Just greet her properly with a hug. She'll do the rest."

River caressed and hugged the bay. All the horses knelt, and the boys mounted. Fifteen minutes later, he was floating on the back of the bay as she galloped around the meadow.

The horses carried the boys to where the path to Zhiv's cave left the meadow. Zhiv and David slid off the standing horses. The bay knelt to make it easier for River to dismount. She nosed his chest and he kissed her forehead. He looked up at Zhiv and David. Again, there were tears on his cheeks.

"Everything I do with you guys makes me cry. I can't stand it. It's too good!"

Zhiv and David pulled him into a hug. "Welcome to the mara," said Zhiv.

Pete had spent the morning organizing resources for the first meeting of the Task Force. City Hall had a large conference room. They had also agreed to the use of their white-board and an overhead projector. In the afternoon, Pete and Hector met there to discuss attendees and an agenda.

Hector added an animal behavioral psychologist and two entomological experts to the list of those who would be attending. He planned to start the meeting with introductions of the participants. Then he would summarize the data he and Pete had collected. Finally, he would move on to discuss the significance of the attacks on humans by animals.

"You know everybody's gonna be coming at this from their own angle?" said Pete.

"Yeah, that's why I want to start the meeting with establishing everyone's credentials and putting what we know on the table. Then after I give my spiel, we should let it go to open discussion. I'd say we should put a limit on this – maybe an hour? Give everyone three or four minutes?"

"Sounds good. The Sheriff wants to attend. He'd make a good chairperson. And it means you can take part in the discussion."

"Something that will probably arise is jurisdictional disputes. Who's responsible for dealing with this situation? Some groups — maybe Homeland Security — may say, 'It's not our problem. It's up to the environmental or agricultural agencies to deal with.' On the other hand, they might consider it a national security issue and simply lay down the law, 'This is the way we're gonna deal with this problem, and that's that.' Government departments are not answerable to each other. We know so little about this problem, some agencies will not want any part of it. There's no clear or easy solution."

"So, what do you think should happen after the open discussion?"

Hector looked at his notes. "First, there should be more awareness of what's happening. All the reps should go back to their departments and discuss it with their fellow workers. Next, we need more research into what's causing this shift in animal-human relations. At the same time, we need to come up with action plans that will inform and protect the public. Finally, we need to figure out how to push the relations between humans and animals back towards peaceful co-existence. Those are my ideas, but it would be best to arrive there by consensus."

"Peaceful co-existence," mused Pete. "That's a nice phrase."

"Yeah, we were an apex predator about ten thousand years ago, before agriculture. Then we kinda went off the rails. I don't really want to return to that, even if it were possible, but we do have to find a way back to living in harmony with the rest of the natural world."

"Any ideas on that?"

"Okay — you asked: I think humans have taken over the planet because of culture, not because we're bigger, stronger or faster. We learn things and we pass those learnings on to our friends and our offspring. So, when we have a problem, it's not just us facing it. We face it armed with the knowledge of thousands of humans before us. Culture is made up of ideas, and its big advantage over other survival mechanisms is that it can change rapidly. Physical evolution tends to be slow — it takes a long time for dinosaurs to become birds, but cultures can change overnight. Human slavery, for instance, was widespread and largely accepted until a few hundred years ago. Now, it's not. We changed. We can change — it's our greatest super-power. We need to change in order to solve this problem. The big question is what we need to change." Hector sat back and grinned at Pete. "End of lecture!"

Pete pushed back his chair. "Thanks, Prof. I'm happy there's a light at the end of the tunnel." As they gathered up their notes, he added, "I'm real glad you're up for this, Hector. The scientific aspects, especially, are way over my head, and so are civil service territorial disputes. I'm just a cop. I'd really rather be on traffic patrol than in the midst of this."

Hector smiled. "Pete, right now you know more about this than any of those people we'll be meeting tomorrow. Nobody's an expert in this. A couple of weeks ago it didn't exist."

"Thanks," said Pete.

"Anyway, I don't expect we'll have to do much more if this problem continues to grow and spread. Of course, there will always be a need for responses at county and state levels, but when the feds realize how serious this problem is, it's going to move upstairs very quickly."

Hector took a sip of water and leaned over the table. "But I'm worried. I'm worried that somebody's gonna jump to the conclusion that the pig-boy, Sol Mundy, caused this. Government departments always look for a scapegoat, a ringleader, a domestic terrorist. This could end up involving David, as well.

"So far, my strategy for the task force is to ignore the boys or downplay their involvement if someone else raises the question. Sol Mundy didn't cause this change in human-animal relationships. The boys were there when it happened, when this 'mara' thing made the decision to declare war on humanity, but it was the animals who decided, not the boys.

"The boys have nothing to do with the attacks. However, the situation is hard to explain without reference to the 'mara' thing. If we get into that, we're gonna lose a lot of credibility. It would be best to infer what we know from actual attacks and not from what we've heard from the boys."

"How do we do that?"

"There are two clear facts emerging from all these events. The first is that the relationship between humans and other animals has changed, and it has changed in a negative way. Animals now appear to see humans as enemies. The second fact is that animals of different species are now working together. We have a substantial number of reports of attacks on humans by more than one species, at the same time. This is new. This kind of inter-species alliance has never happened before.

"There is a third characteristic in a few of the incident reports. It sheds some light on what's happening in the animal community. Everybody knows there are animals that prey on other animals. This is normal behavior for lions, tigers, wasps, snakes and many other animals. In general, these predator-prey relationships seem unchanged. Lions are still killing buffalo. But, if there is a human there, the animal predator and animal prey sometimes join forces to attack the human. The clearest instance of this is a report from Africa, yesterday.

"A wildlife photographer was filming a pride of lions attacking a buffalo. The struggle moved closer to the photographer and the buffalo noticed the photographer. Ignoring the lions, the bull charged the man and gored him. The lions then came up and killed the photographer. The buffalo ran off and rejoined his herd. Other members of the camera crew chased the lions away from the photographer's body.

"Another instance comes from Asia, also yesterday. It involves a pack of mongooses and a cobra engaged in a deadly battle. A young man was there, herding cattle. He was watching the fight, but when the mongooses and cobra saw him, both attacked him. One of his cows joined in the attack as well. The herdsman didn't survive."

"Those are amazing. If we can get people talking about them, it'll be easier to keep the boys out of it."

Hector sat back and doodled on a scratch pad. "I was mostly talking about David and Sol, but I guess we've got to include River in this too. He's an odd case because he was a victim of one of the more extraordinary animal attacks, yet now he's hanging out with the boys who are on the inside, the boys who seem invulnerable to animal attacks. What do you think about River?"

"After he got out of the hospital, I know he did some necessary soul-searching and made some big changes in his behavior. He became vegan, for one thing. But I think he was affected much more deeply than that by what happened in the gravel pit. He and David went into that pit as enemies, but David saved his life. I think that shook him to his core, and he changed. I like him. I think he's okay. David and Doreen have adopted him. Time will tell if the changes he's made will stick."

They agreed on 3:00 pm the following day for the initial Task Force meeting.

As the three boys approached the flat rock near the cave where Zhiv and David usually sat to eat, Zhiv pulled River to him. He looked up and down his body. "You're getting pink." His brow creased. "Your legs and arms are okay, but the rest of you is getting sunburned. We should eat lunch in the cave." He pressed his fingers against River's chest. When he pulled his hand away, his white fingermarks filled with pink coloration immediately. "Look, David!" He pressed his fingers against River's bum and again pulled them quickly away. He looked up. "Is there any of that sunblock goop left from when you used to use it?"

"Yup. Let's eat lunch then we can slather it all over him."

"Sounds like fun," said Zhiv and led them into the cave.

They demolished the sandwiches and ate the last nut, seed and raisin from the trail mix. Zhiv picked his teeth with a twig. "David?"


"How do you feel about a wiggle?"

"I always like a wiggle. How about you?"

"Me too." Zhiv stretched and sat back on his heels. "River?"

"What's a wiggle? I mean, if you guys want to do it, I'm okay with it, too. It doesn't matter what it is." River laughed. "What is it?"

"Sometimes we like to lie down together, real close. We wiggle around then until we feel real good, the best feeling ever."

David said, "It's a very nice way to relax after lunch."

"Let's introduce River to our bed," said Zhiv, walking over to the ferny bed he and David had made.

"We can start with you between us." David pulled River down onto the bed and hugged him. Zhiv lay down and pressed himself against River's back. "It's easy," explained David. "Now we kiss, and cuddle, and wiggle, until it happens."

They kissed, cuddled, and wiggled. Later they switched positions and kissed and wiggled some more. More rolling around, embracing, and kissing followed, ever more frantically. Suddenly David erupted, pressing tightly against River. Zhiv's penis spurted against River's backside. River began to ejaculate before Zhiv finished pulsing against him.

A few minutes later, Zhiv said, "Let's clean him up."

They licked River clean, then River and David licked Zhiv. Then the two of them licked David.

David said, "That's a wiggle."

River lay between Zhiv and David and put an arm around each of their necks. "I love you guys. I've never been so happy in my life!"

Comfortably entangled, the boys slipped into a drowse, surfacing only to exchange lazy kisses and caresses.

David lay with one of his feet cuddling the sole of either Zhiv's or River's foot. It didn't matter whose foot it was. It was warm and made him feel good.

Without warning, the cave filled with a harsh, mechanical, cracketing sound. Zhiv jumped up and ran to the cave entrance. David and River were right behind him. From behind a rock, they peered out to see a helicopter cruising past. It flew by slowly, a hundred feet from where they crouched. Then it continued around the mountainside and was soon lost to sight.

The boys returned to their bed.

"It's good that none of our stuff was lying around outside," said David.

"What do you think they were looking for?" asked Zhiv.

"My dad said they were going to search the park sometime, but not right away. Then they'll be looking for anything that could have caused the animals to act different, but I never heard anything about a helicopter."

"Maybe they were just flying around, looking for anything strange," offered River.

David pursed his lips in thought. "Even though they flew right past the cave, they didn't seem interested in it. Because of those big boulders in front, you can hardly see there's a cave here. They might not even have noticed it."

"It's weird," said Zhiv. "I've been living up here for over a year, and I've never seen a helicopter before."

David walked over to the part of the cave where he stored his first aid kit and other things he had brought up for Zhiv. He returned with a tube of sunscreen and lay down with the other boys.

"Let's do another wiggle before we put that stuff on River," said Zhiv.

"You're getting to be a real wiggle-addict." David laughed.

Zhiv pointed to his erection, then pointed to River's penis and David's, both of them stiffly erect. "I'm not the only one."

"Do you guys ever suck? I mean, suck each other's dicks?" River sounded shy.

"I like to suck and kiss his dick," said David, "and yours too. But that's part of cleaning up after a wiggle. What're you thinking about?"

Looking back and forth between Zhiv and David, River explained what he had imagined. Then he arranged them. "See, it's like a triangle. I suck David. David sucks Zhiv. And Zhiv sucks me."

"I knew we were gonna have fun with you, River," said Zhiv as he got into position.

David adjusted himself so his mouth was near Zhiv's crotch. "And when the stuff shoots out we can just drink it, right from the spout, instead of having to lick it up later."

"C'mon, let's do it!"

Later, David said, "That was amazing! Thank you, River, for having such a brilliant idea."

"If we want to, tomorrow we can just flip around so I do Zhiv, he does you, and you do me."

"Do we have to wait till tomorrow?" asked Zhiv. "I mean, it's okay if you guys are tired." His voice trailed off.

River and David were not tired.

Hector spent the rest of the afternoon at Celia's apartment writing his opening statement. He struggled to describe the human-animal war accurately while minimizing the boys' involvement. Two hours later, he pushed his laptop away from where he sat at the kitchen table. "Okay, Miss Local Vegetarian, where's a good place we can eat tonight. I need to go out and get away from my laptop for a while."

"Hey, that's a great idea," said Celia. "If we're here, we're gonna end up talking about what we've been doing all day. I need a break too. There's a good Thai restaurant that will make any of their dishes vegan on request. Do you like Thai food?"

"Do they serve cold beer?"


Hector stood up, held out his hand, and sang, "Grab your hat, and get your coat."

She offered the next line, "Leave your worry on the doorstep."

"Life can be so sweet," they sang in unison, "On the sunny side of the street."

As they left the apartment, Hector said, "Hey, how come you know that old song?"

"My dad. It was one of his favorites."

"One of mine, too."

Pete filled Doreen in on the day's developments and the plans for the task force meeting.

"To tell the truth, I feel out of place. I'm just a cop, not an expert in anything. I'd probably back out of all this if David wasn't so involved with Zhiv, or Sol. I'm worried that he's gonna end up unhappy, and it's gonna be hard to protect him."

"What's gonna make him unhappy?"

"It's the other boy, Zhiv. The way he lives, the things he does. It's too abnormal. Somebody's gonna do something about that, and he's only a twelve-year-old boy. He's got no way to defend himself. I mean, hornets are good for short term defense, but if the powers that be decide they want him, hornets and skunks aren't gonna be able to save him.

"I've thought a lot about when I saw him on the highway with those pigs. It seemed he was simply doing what he had to do. It's not as if he considered things and then decided, 'Okay, this is what I need to do.' He's like a force of nature. With him, compassion is an instinct, not something he figured out.

"There's a young boy there, like David, but it's not like he's running the show. He's just along for the ride. If I had asked him, 'What are you doing, naked on horseback with five hundred pigs following you?' I don't think he would have had an explanation that made sense to most people. Okay, that's a problem, for him and for the world. Our problem is that David is head-over-heels for him. Isn't he?"

"Yeah. He pretty much worships the ground Zhiv walks on, and if somebody rains on Zhiv's parade, David's gonna get wet, too."

"God, it'd be so easy if they were doing drugs, or burglaries or something." Pete sighed.

"Hah," snickered Doreen. "Maybe a little light vandalism or a car theft. It's time to take David aside and explain that he needs to steal a stop sign or stay out past his bedtime, at least once. It's too hard being the parent of a saint."

They sat quietly for a minute. Then Doreen spoke. "I'm worried about all three of those boys. Zhiv has no family and social services wasn't able to provide him one in the past, and River's family seems to be broken beyond repair. What do you think about having one or both of them live with us? I don't mean tomorrow, or anything. I just think it's a good option for us to consider. I like having River around, and if Zhiv is half the boy David thinks he is, he'd be a wonderful addition to our family."

"You really do like being a mom, don't you?"

"Yeah, I love it."

"Think you could handle three boys?"

"Those three would be a challenge, but if you were up for it too, it'd sure be fun to try."

Late in the hot afternoon, River and David cycled together until they came to the long driveway that led to River's house. They stopped, and after looking down the empty highway in both directions, they risked a hug.

"That was the best day ever, David. Thank you. I'm gonna miss you all night, but I need to go home and see how everything is."

"Riv, I'm glad you were with me today. I'm really happy. I didn't used to have any friends and now I have two of the best friends ever. I wish you were coming home with me. I'm gonna miss you, too. Sleeping with you last night was too good. I woke up a couple of times with your arms around me. It was the best, Riv. I don't think there's anything better than waking up inside a hug, but I understand — you have to do what you have to do."

"Tomorrow's gonna be weird. I mean, with other people there, Hector and the video girl. It's gonna be weird with a girl there."

"Yeah, I never saw a naked girl. I've seen pictures, but not a real girl."

"What if we get boners?" asked River.

"Maybe we won't."

"We always do. Do girls get hard? Maybe she'll get a girl boner too."

"But there's nothing there to get hard. Well, maybe that clitoris thing, but it's supposed to be small, not really like a dick."

River sighed. "Maybe we can talk to her and explain about boners, how they come and go, and there's nothing we can do about them."

As David pedaled homeward, he thought about Zhiv and River. He'd never thought you could be in love with two people at the same time. Zhiv was special. But River was special, too. David felt like he belonged to Zhiv. In the same way, he felt River belonged to him. But Zhiv? He belonged to the animals, but not only to the animals — it seemed like he belonged to the entire world. David came to a satisfactory conclusion as he pulled into his driveway. He loved both of them, but he loved them in different ways. It seemed love was the most interesting mystery of all.

When River entered the kitchen, the house was quiet. Aaron was sitting at the kitchen table eating from a bucket of KFC. "Hey, it's nice to see you, Bro. How ya doing?"

"I'm great, Aaron. How are you? How's Daddy?"

"I'm okay. The old man's passed out in the living room. Things are bad here." He picked a drumstick out of the bucket and looked at it critically. "There ain't no easy way to say it — we're fucked, Man, totally fucked."

River got a can of beans from the cupboard and opened it. He sat down at the table with Aaron and spooned some beans from the can. "What do you mean? Like, fucked how?"

"I mean the bank was here today, a guy from the bank. The old man hasn't made the payments. He was so drunk he could hardly sit up straight to listen, so the bank guy asked me to sit in on their meeting. He didn't sugarcoat it. He said if the overdue payments aren't made by the end of the month, we'll lose the place. They'll take it."


"Yeah, we all thought we owned this place. No. Sure, it's in daddy's name, but because of the mortgage and the operational loans, it's really the bank who owns it. We just work it. There's no way to make the payments. The old man blew all the cash in hand on Nicky's hospital costs and yours, and for Ricky's funeral. Even if we sold all the pigs tomorrow, we couldn't begin to pay what we owe. The bank guy said he doesn't think the old man could manage a lemonade stand right now, let alone a pork production facility. They want him out of here. We got no phone or internet now, and if it wasn't needed for the pig barn, they'd probably cut the power too."

River ate some fries from the bucket. "So, what are we gonna do?"

"I'm moving out, tomorrow. I had enough of this joint anyway. No more pigs for me. I've had enough pigs to last the rest of my life. There's a guy over in Dryden, runs the seeds and feeds store; says he'll hire me to work there. I'm gonna throw my mattress in the back of the van and sleep in it, until I can get a place of my own. If the old man wants the van, he can come and get it sometime. You guys have got the red pick-up if you need to go someplace."

"What am I supposed do?"

"I don't know, Bro. That's between you and the old man. Maybe when I get my shit together, I can help you, but for now, I got to look out for myself. You understand that, don't you?"

"Yeah, sure."

"You can have the rest of those fries if you want. I had enough."

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