own locomotive.” The words he repeated to himself looking over the rapids west of
Madison where great herons retrieve what men still cannot.
The band moved three abreast down pine rows and burn tracks, all tail-
ing Mr. Carter and his chained hound. The dog wore a muzzle and pulled little at
his master. When Carter stopped to review hoof prints with June Bug and Timmy
Corbitt, the bloodhound would circle them, unable to sit for the buckshot still
lodged in his ass. Finally, they reached the tree line and fanned out to either side of
the man and his hound. Carter nodded east, and they began working back up the
shore, the sounds of rape and slavery growing persistent in their heads. At its source
were three piglets and their mother; the sow battered the layers of chicken wire that
kept it penned and was sent reeling on top of her young. Another spill of expletives.
Carter and June Bug went and studied the tracks around the pen. They figured there
was still time enough to establish proper ground. They had the men and two boys
move into the water’s edge to hide their scent. June Bug cautioned them to step
carefully and feel for deep holes. They formed a large crescent around the pen ten
yards out on the bank. The static figures crouched in the water like graves with their
cotton clothes light and illuminating as they rose and fell with the swells. Both of
the Parks boys kept their knives in their mouths as they had seen some of the men
do.
And they began to wait. Tall cypress trees bent, moaning warnings for no
particular reception. The penned hogs continued to dig and ram the wires and
wooden posts. After a while, the piglets began imitating their mother, digging into
the sand and dirt then snorting out the debris at their own indignation. Twice one
of the piglets tried working at the same hole as its mother until it was raked and
thrown to the back corner with no pause or notice given by the sow. All this time,
Mr. Carter stood at the apex of the crouched men, surveying the tree line with the
dog at his side, still muzzled but finally unchained. After what must have seemed
like hours, the bloodhound’s head dropped, and his eyes narrowed. Carter reached
down and put one hand one hand on the muzzle’s rear strap while using the one
that held the shotgun to quiet and calm the men with soft, descending motions.
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