Ilze Berzins

No sweat. Mum was simply photographed and fingerprinted and then ‘released’ by the US Department of Homeland Security.  Who knows what Immigration will do about her. I’ll miss her, of course.

Once again we’re on the road. Gazing out at the lush foliage of autumn in Maine I had no way of knowing then that the most traumatic event of my young life lay just ahead.

I didn’t have long to wait. Some three hours across the border we pulled into Larry’s pig farm.

A dismal rain had started again and the bed & breakfast Dad had been promising us looked like Bleak House (apology to Charles Dickens).

Mum and Dad leaped out of the U-Haul (well, Dad leaped;Mum crawled). They looked around and spied a heavy-set  elderly lady carrying two pails walking towards them. Dad recognized Larry’s wife Pat. He had met them both before.   Instantly both Mum and Dad started their friendly chatter. But I pulled back, feeling a sense of foreboding. In fact the fur on the back of my neck stood straight up in the air. Something bad was about to happen.

I overheard Pat say: “No dogs in the house.” She didn’t say this nicely. I could sense the aversion and disgust in her body language as she glanced my way. She looked as if she’d sooner have me slaughtered with the sows than have me set paws on her tidy front porch.

And so it was.

Minutes later, daughter Pauline, pulled up in her pick-up truck. Already I was gagging from the smell of pig manure. I wondered how Mum was taking it. I glanced her way and noticed her holding her pashmina over her nose. I had to laugh. This reminded me of the Muslim ladies I had seen at Billings Bridge Shopping Mall with only tiny slits revealing their downcast eyes.

Things happened so fast. Before I knew it, Pauline was upon me. She had me by the leash and was dragging me away. Mum and Dad looked sheepish. I couldn’t believe that they would let this strange woman abduct me in broad daylight.

But I was in too much shock to protest and was shunted into a cement bunker and then pushed into a cage.  

I wasn’t the only one. There were other prisoners too. Little yappy ones causing a racket but at least, being small, they had more room than I had. This was certainly no Comfort Inn like I’d seen so many times in TV ads. In fact it was the kennel that dared not speak its ghastly name. 

Any time Pauline checked in on me I growled at her. I wondered if she would be the one to slaughter me since I had heard her point out to Mum the next pig to be slaughtered.

I didn’t sleep a wink.

The next morning I guess some sort of ransom had been paid for my release since I was freed from the cage and reunited with my pack.

I couldn’t help but overhear Mum and Dad discussing their discomfort and their amazement at Larry’s operation. Larry had erected a chapel on his property some distance from the pig enclosure. Regular services were held, including mass confessions and the sale of sacred candles that had been blessed by the visiting prelate.

There must be a lot of sinners in them here hills, I thought to myself. Then, as if reading my mind, Dad pronounced: “They’re good people,” as we headed for the turnpike.

If I live to be fifteen, the night spent at Larry’s pig farm will remain one of the most hideous memories of my entire life.

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