A PIG AT SHIRLEY'S V. BAR
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We sit there silent, hoping a handler, an owner, a veterinarian, or a farmer would follow in the sunlight that pours through the swinging panes of the glass door. The six of us, turning our heads, watching him saunter, gentle and assured past the threshold and nestle for a moment beside the speaker spitting out John Prine. Who comes for a drink before 2 p.m. on a Wednesday in mid-April? The tired, the overworked, the laid off husbands not ready to go home and tell the truth, the night shift sleep deprived, the no-where-else-to-go’s. It wasn't as if I thought an animal would wander in from the late spring heat. But I didn’t expect the confidence, the stride, the eagerness in rearing his snout at me. I place my pilsner on the floor to ease his access. He slurps every drop, even the head, nods my way, and with a delicate huff, turns his hooves and flees, an inmate bound for death has found his freedom, his road open. I lift my hand for a second round, I let a peanut shell drift onto the concrete floor. I think of Diane, waiting for me in heaps on the bedroom floor. I think of the farm she grew up on. I have an ice breaker, a new anecdote to give her before the onslaught of news about the merger, the cutbacks, the box in my backseat. I smile as the new beer approaches, and sob when it is finished.