It was a beautiful summer’s day and Mr. Tadlock was preparing to go into the city for his monthly supplies. The sun beat down on his old blue rusty truck and the bales of hay he had stacked around each side of the trucks bed. The bales when stacked made a playpen of sorts to keep Penelope from getting out of the truck while he was driving.
Everyone knew that Mr. Tadlock was a bit different from most people and so was his pet pig Penelope. It wasn’t one bit unusual to see him walking down the sidewalk in town with Penelope hooked to a leash.
Mr. Tadlock had always had a variety of animals on the country farm like most folk. Cats, dogs, roosters and chickens roamed freely about his farm yard as did ducks. Colorful peacocks strutting around the yard showing off their tall colorful plumes making some of their peculiar calls. You could hear them from early morning until almost dark making one of their eleven calls. Today it was the “may-awe, may-awe” sound and it carried for miles down the country road. When mating season came they would be making those sounds constantly. They male did so to get attention from the female and he was a persistent cuss.
I suppose what made Penelope different from the other animals was that she had been found her in a ditch in front of Mr. Tadlock’s house. He had heard the squealing sound from his front door. He always welcomed the new day each morning on the front porch with a freshly made cup of black brew he called coffee. He would then stuff his cheek with a big cud of tobacco to begin his new day. He never found out how Penelope got there but assumed that she had fallen out of someone’s truck. She had scrapes all over her back but for the most part she was in good condition. After cleaning her up and putting ointment on her cuts he took her out to the barn to introduce her to all the rest of his farm animals.
The story would have normally ended there and Penelope would have grown up to be a big pig. However that is not what happened. Mr. Tadlock found out that Penelope was not a normal pig. She was a special breed of pig not seen around Deer Creek Falls. She was a miniature pink pot bellied pig that people were raising for pets and kept inside their house rather than a pig pen outside. Penelope knew she was special and expected to be treated in that fashion. She thought of Mr. Tadlock as her rescuer and looked upon him with great loyalty. She felt he had saved her life for a certain death by some beastly dogs and would always be thankful for her new owner. So the two could be seen together everywhere except the local country church. This was the one place Penelope was not welcomed.
After tossing a few sacks of corn, and grains in the back of the truck they headed toward the drug store. Mr. Tadlock had been a regular customer for decades coming in about once a month for his bottle of Geritol. He bought two ice cream cones and the two proceeded to go outside so Penelope could enjoy hers without messing up the floor in the drug store. He waited patiently until she had licked every single grain of sugar from the sidewalk then placed his big straw hat on his head. Penelope knew that was a sure sign they were going so she gave her usual “thank you” squeal as she rubbed her side against Mr. Tadlock’s overall britches.
It was on the way home that Mr. Tadlock got the idea of driving down to the lake to see how the fish were biting. He always kept his fishing pole under the seat for just such notions. Penelope could wallow in the waters edge or roll in the grass while he tried his luck in hooking “the big one!”
Time passed by quickly and there was a nice breeze near the lake. It was the breeze that kept them both from feeling the rays of the sun and the broad straw hat helped a great deal too. It wasn’t until evening that Penelope began getting very restless. She squealed and snorted as loud as possible to let her owner know something was terribly wrong. It didn’t take but one look for Mr. Tadlock to see Penelope had gotten blistered from the sun and her pink skin was now very red. Now most of us know that pigs do not have a heavy coat of hair but only fine bristles covering their skin. So if you have no hair or very little hair the sun is not protected from the skin at all. Mr. Tadlock should have known this but the image of the fish in his mind just let a cog slip somewhere up there.
Spitting out his wad of tobacco Mr. Tadlock headed for the medicine cabinet. It didn’t take long for poor Penelope to be soaked in his special remedy handed down to him from generations before him. He mixed six tablespoons of olive oil, three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of iodine. He shook it all up together in a bottle and began to rub Penelope all over with his old-fashioned remedy. He had used it himself and he knew it was a good antiseptic and would cool the skin quickly. Penelope looked like a beet pickle with a curly tail for days but she was grateful her skin did not all peel off.
The next time the two of them were seen in town both had on huge straw hats but Penelope’s had a nice red scarf that tied neatly underneath her chin just beneath her lime green sun glasses.
As the days came and went three straw hats with very wide brims could be seen regularly in the front seat of the old rusty blue pickup truck that still belonged to Mr. Tadlock. Penelope fell in love!
Question: How did Penelope say “thank you” to Mr. Tadlock?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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