New Weird Contest Winner Lane Bowen: A Tale of Pigs, Hatchets, and Babies

Congrats to Lane Bowen provided this winning entry in the NW contest…

Once a blank faced toddler, naked but for a diaper, threw a hatchet at me. Luckily he had the strength of your average two year old, so even tossing with both hands, the ax didn’t do much but stick in the mud a foot or so in front of him.

That a homicidal toddler places second among “holy sh–!” recollections of that afternoon speaks to the size of the pig I saw.

I was working at a day camp for underprivileged kids in rural Appalachia. This particular day was a sort of field trip; we were having a picnic at the home of one of the campers. Like most of the campers, Rachel lived deep in the woods, past paved roads. She also had indoor plumbing and electricity, which though also the norm, sadly wasn’t universal among the camp’s kids.

“Wanna see a big pig?” She asked.

“Sure,” I said. Who wouldn’t want to see a big pig?

Rachel led everyone to her back yard. About twenty feet from the house the yard ended in a patchwork fence of sticks and logs and rough planks strung with chicken-wire. A shed, really just a roof and two rickety walls to make a corner, provided a break in the fence-line. A feed trough ran from the back wall to the fence, boxing in the swine to keep them on their side. On the other side of the fence pigs of various sizes ambled aimlessly or lay on their sides. The farm/zoo smell was significantly stronger than in the front yard.

“Wow, that’s a big pig,” I said upon seeing the large sow in the shed. She must have been at least two hundred pounds.

“Oh, that’s not that big,” said Rachel. The pigs close to the house were still somewhat domesticated. They were nothing. The big ones were in the woods. She pointed to the trees, which started about twenty yards from the fence line.

I saw a glimpse of movement, then the biggest pig I had ever yet seen. It’s hard to say, especially since the distance surely threw off my sense of scale, but the thing must have been at least five or six feet long and three or four feet wide.

“That’s a big pig,” I said.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” Rachel said.

“That one?” I asked, pointing to another pig that briefly walked into view. This one was definitely bigger and thicker. I could barely make out tusks jutting from its mouth.

“No, that’s not it,” Rachel said.

This went on for a bit. Finally, Rachel began to point excitedly.

“That’s him!”

This pig must have been the size of a Volkswagen. At least two rows of tusks lined his snout. Now, I have since read the stories and seen the pictures of Hogzilla, so I know this pig surely couldn’t have topped that monster; he had to be less than eight feet long. Like I said, my sense of scale may have been off, so I’m willing to downgrade and say the pig was the size of a Mini-Cooper.

“Yeah, he gored and trampled my dad one time,” Rachel said nonchalantly. “Nearly killed him.”

And then her naked little brother threw a hatchet at me. Okay, so I don’t remember when he actually threw the hatchet, but for dramatic effect, we’ll say he threw it just as I saw the Big Pig. Regardless of when he made his move though, the toddler was lurking all afternoon, hatchet clutched to his chest. He never made a sound and scurried away whenever someone tried to look at or talk to him.

Think on that. In the mountains of the U.S., families live with giant feral pigs just out the back door. And in the backyard of those feral swine, half-naked feral children may be lurking with axes.


  1. says

    I do not know whether to giggle at this, or sort of stare half-horrified at my computer screen. I’m going to compromise and do both, and then show this story to my gf, who grew up in rural Appalachia and will surely appreciate it. :D

  2. Mary C says

    This reminds me of a story my friend told me. She worked in home health and had many clients from the foothills in NC. One family might have been better-off than some, because they had brick siding on their mobile home. Several dogs roamed the yard, but they kept a rooster on a chain. I guess that tells something of the animal hierarchy. The roster probably paid for the siding.

  3. says

    Wow. I grew up in Appalachian Kentucky. Please tell me this happened in West Virginia or Georgia? I’ll sleep easier when visiting my relatives. I mean, we weren’t allowed to throw hatchets at someone until they’d visited at least a couple of times. Have manners slipped so far? First visit is supposed to be a shotgun.

  4. says

    You’ll be happy to know it did not take place in Kentucky. It was East Tennessee. Pretty close to Northwest Georgia, actually, which is where I spent a good portion of my childhood.

  5. Jacynda says

    Wow, sounds like one of my EI visits to see a toddler in rural Wilmer (a weird backwoods area of Mobile). The four yr old sibling couldn’t ride the bus anymore b/c he stabbed another kid with a pencil. Reminds me of Deliverance or a bad dream.