Here, struck down by the heat, the sow fell and the hunters hurled themselves at her. This dreadful eruption from an unknown world made her frantic; she squealed and bucked and the air was full of sweat and noise and blood and terror.
The chant rose ritually, as at the last moment of a dance or a hunt.
“Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!”
—William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Now, weeks after blinking the dust from my eyeballs, and scrubbing the scum from my feet, a question:
Would you have killed the pig?
This is no metaphor. We’re talking about meat, heat and blood—about slipping a blade into a live pig while it thrashes and squeals, while dogs bite and rip its bristled hide. That kind of pig—that kind of killing. Unanswerable questions are fertile:
If you weren’t going to kill the pig, then why were you sprinting downhill through the dense bush of rural Australia in the dark, chasing frantic barks and the footsteps of three strangers holding long knives?
If you were going to kill the pig, does that make you a predator? A killer? A follower? What about the kid?
These questions stretch as horizons. We never found the pig. It shed the dogs in that rocky ravine. The young men and I, sweating in the night, caught up to the dogs that panted in the diffuse moonlight. Back at the trucks, the others milled around idling engines and dwindling coolers. Blanchy handed me a beer…