The original version of Piggy was first published in The Wild East, Spring 1990, pp. 7-10.
Piggy was not his name. Unfortunately, like it or not, Piggy was what everyone called him. His full name was John Henry Smith the Fourth; but nobody called him that. They called him Piggy; and he hated it. But there was nothing he could do about it. Nor could he do anything about the way his bottom wigggled when he walked, like a jelly on springs or an adolescent choirboy, according to his mother, who loved him for it. Or in spite of it. After all, he was her son and she didn't care what the product of her womb walked like. Or about how he looked (and he did have a faint pink tinge to his cheeks, like a little porker). Or about what she called him in public.
Aliases run in his family. After all, with four of them -- great- grandfather, grandfather, father -- all called by the same name, how could his mother distinguish between all those John Henrys without their nicknames? So the whole male line of the family laboured under the weight of ridiculous nicknames; his father: John Henry Smith the Third, alias Bonzo; his grandfather: John Henry Smith the Second, known as Towser; and the recently departed founder of the line, the original John Henry Smith who, although he had earned for himself the priviledge of being called by his own name, John Henry, was also known beneath the solemn epithet of Bruiser.
Piggy suffered. He suffered illusions and delusions. Life wasn't worth living one day, and the next, it was so full of beauty that Piggy wept with the pain of it all. On good days he was enthusiastic and full of energy. On bad days, he locked himself in the bedroom and read, or cried, or thought of the long dead great-grandfather who handed down the necessity of the nickname before passing on.
On good days, Piggy signed himself up for things. With enthusiasm. On bad days, he regretted his impetuosity and would strive to escape from the commitments to which he was bound.
Take, for example, the Saint John Ambulance First Aid Course for which Piggy had just enrolled. A notice had been circulated round the office on a good day, and "Yes," said Piggy, "I'd love to do the course." He didn't have many friends and often felt lonely. Once, after deep and prolonged thought, he had actually written a letter to Dear Auntie in the local newspaper telling her about himself, and his mother, and his father, and his family relationships, and about his lack of success with women.
In fact, he was so useless when it came to dating members of the opposite sex, that he thought of himself as an archetypal Bates. The original Bates had apparently been a sailor who could dance the fandango on skates. However, according to the song "a fall on his cutlass rendered him nutless and practically useless on dates"!
Why, poor Piggy could never even remember the date of his own birthday, let alone his mother's and he had to call her at least ten times a year to ask her when her birthday was, and even then, he missed it sometimes by months.
Well, Piggy had written the letter to Dear Auntie, but before he could actually mail it, a reply to a similar letter (and how his heart ached in sympathy for the writer's solitude) was published in the local paper.
"Dear Lonely (Auntie's reply began): You are never as lonely as you imagine. Stop moping around and feeling sorry for yourself. Be positive. Get out and do things. Go regularly to your local church. Join the Boy Scouts. Go on outings. Help a local charity. Do things you can be proud of. Be with the right people and go where the right people are. The single bar scene is not the place for you. Take some courses in night school. Educate yourself at your local university. Soon enough, you'll meet Miss Right and everything will turn out for the best."
Piggy took these words to heart. He kept his own letter in his wallet along with Dear Auntie's printed reply to Dear Lonely and three months later he signed up for the Saint John Ambulance Course. With the best of motives. He was going to make friends and become useful to people.
Naturally, on the first bad day, he regretted the decision. But by then he was trapped. Ten people from his local union branch had been selected and since he was one of them there was no escape. The course would cost him nothing in the way of cash for in the interests of a safer workplace, his employer would pay. It would cost nothing, that is, save time and interest. Nevertheless, within a day of his acceptance, Piggy regretted his impetuous decision.
Then, one night, Piggy had a nightmare. He dreamed he was working quietly at his desk when a scream echoed down the corridor. Piggy jumped to his feet, rushed into the laboratory, and found all the female workers, face down, not breathing. There was nobody else there. The room was deserted save for these sixteen female bodies, lying there, face down, motionless. Piggy rushed around for five minutes like a headless chicken. He gazed into vacant eyes, lifted limp hands, and generally felt absolutely useless.
After trying for five minutes to decide which worker was the most attractive and hence most worth saving not to mention most likely to go out on a date with Piggy from sheer gratitude at being the only one saved, Piggy gave up. He walked to the fire alarm, pulled the little glass bar, then lay face down on the floor next to a cute little brunette he had always fancied, and waited to be rescued. When his alarm clock went off next morning, Piggy had a terrible headache. He also had a deep feeling of guilt. He remembered his dream as he poured rice crispies into his cereal bowl. Snap, crackle, pop went his conscience as he added milk. And he ruminated on all the meanings of life as he sat there chewing.
The first aid course was scheduled for the following Wednesday at 9:00 am. It ran for two days, Wednesday and Thursday, with a voluntary section on the Friday morning which included a heart attack and CPR segment. At his desk that day, in the office, Piggy day-dreamed about the course. Now daydreams are controllable, and Piggy had this one under control right from the start. A car, just ahead of Piggy, rolled off the road. Piggy was the first to arrive at the scene of the accident.
The young girl driving had eyes that caught Piggy's attention. They held him; he swam in their depths. The young child beside her had lost consciousness but, with a heave Piggy had the door open, the passengers out of the car, and by the time the police and the ambulance had arrived, the child (Piggy was not sure whether to make it a boy or a girl) was recovered, swathed in bandages, and happily telling his (it was a boy, Piggy decided) rescuer all about life at home without a father. The young lady looked deep into Piggy's eyes, promised him the world, and Piggy accepted, inviting her out to MacDonald's for a hamburger and fries.
From there it was plain sailing... The young girl (Piggy had changed his mind again and the child had changed sex) lined up at the counter for more fries while Piggy and the mother held hands and gazed... Then, just as things became interesting and promises were about to be made, the hooter sounded for the midday coffee break and Piggy was swept up in the tide of humanity that rushed for the coffee shop and broke for lunch.
After lunch, one of the course organizers visited Piggy in his office and brought him a set of brochures and two manuals. These were distributed prior to the course and were for Piggy to read so he could familiarize himself with the course material. Piggy spent the afternoon looking at the pictures and when he went home that night, his head was already full of the knowledge of what he should and shouldn't do.
When he dreamed that night, it was of the same young girl in the same car in the same accident on the same road. Once again, Piggy was the first person to the scene. This time, however, he did things differently. First, he identified himself and took charge of his dream. Then, instead of pulling the victims from the car, he undertook an in-the-seat examination. He carefully supported his grateful victim's graceful head, and, as she looked into his eyes, with his fingers and the palms of his hands, more or less as instructed in the first aid manual, he began the intimate yet completely respectable, politically correct, and definitely unembarassing head to toe examination of the victim's body. He stared into the victim's eyes in an ardent search for signs of tenderness (which would naturally show in the dilation of the victim's pupils); he smoothed the crisp curls over the young girl's skull; he moved his fingertips down her neck and gently pressed each vertebra until he reached the clip of her bra which he could feel, hard, against the softness of her blouse against the skin.
At this vital moment, as he was wondering how exactly to proceed, he remembered that he had forgotten to check her ears for the straw-coloured fluid that would announce a cranial fracture from which only Piggy could save her. He moved his hand back towards her head, felt for her ear, gently inserted a finger... Yes! There was a definite tenderness showing in her eyes as he awoke with a shock and a struggle to find that his index finger was stuck in his Teddy Bear's earhole.
Next morning, Piggy went to the supervisor and told him he was withdrawing from the course. "Fat chance," said the supervisor. "Ten we need and ten we got. And you're number ten. Tough luck, son. Back to your desk, Piggy, and sweat it out. And I pray to God I'm not the poor sucker who gets you for his mouth to mouth," he added as he pressed his hand to his chest in mocking imitation of a supervisor with pains where he didn't want them.
Piggy daydreamed again. His scenario this time was the boss's office. He imagined it destroyed by a piece of falling debris from a sputnik or struck by lightning. Again Piggy was first to the scene. He cleared the debris, almost choked on the smoke, and sorted out the bodies lying there. First, there was the boss, immobile, lying beside his desk clad only in shoes, socks, and underpants. Then there was the new red-haired secretary. The lightning bolt had left her covered in a shredded blouse that showed off her fine breasts to their best advantage whilst preserving her decency. Both patients were conscious. Piggy looked at his boss and then at the red-head. "Sorry, boss!" He whispered. "Ladies first. You know how it is." He knelt beside the girl. "Hello!" said Piggy; "I'm John Henry Smith the Fourth. I've done my first aid course! What's your name? I can really help you!"
All too soon, it was the first day of the course. The course began at 8:30 am. There was a short verbal introduction and this was followed by videos. Piggy was horrified by the industrial accidents. He groaned for the worker whose hand was crushed in the mill. Then there was the workman who didn't see the nail in the tree trunk; the saw teeth broke off on contact with the nail and a piece of metal was embedded in the thigh of an onlooker. Another didn't read the label on the bottle he was pouring from and caustic soda splashed in his face and eyes. The young man cleaning his rifle shot himself in the chest and the red blood bubbled as the punctured lung sucked in air and spewed out blood (like stepping on a bed of clams at the sea-side, thought Piggy: red bubble and crimson squirt).
That first night, Piggy could hardly sleep. When he did nod off, his dreams were filled with sharp metal spikes that chased him round the workplace and his victim's were no longer beautiful young girls, but middle-aged women and smelly old men who collapsed and fainted and bubbled blood through wrinkled skins that crisped and crackled like meat in the oven.
On the afternoon of the second day, the instructor split the course into two halves and the following morning, Piggy and five other men began the CPR instruction. Two small black suitcases stood by the wall and from them leered the half torsos of ResucitAnnie, the model doll on whom they would practice. Piggy couldn't take his eyes off her. Made in Norway, she was blond, with short tight curls and an attractive smile that lit up her bright blue eyes and made Piggy wish she would come alive.
When it was his turn to kneel beside ResucitAnnie, he gazed at her pensively. Then, carefully, as though the flattened chest held real emotions, he pinched her shoulder and sighed "Annie? Annie? Can you hear me?" Nothing. Not a word. Not even a mark of tenderness in the blue eyes, bright, beneath long blond lashes. He knelt closer to her head, gazed into her eyes and "Annie? It's me, John Henry Smith the Fourth. You've got to wake up. Annie?... Annie?...." There was no response.
"No, no." said the instructor. "You can't goof off into a dream world. Ask her once. That's enough. If she doesn't reply immediately, she's probably unconscious. Now what do you do?" Piggy looked confused. "Don't forget your ABC," said the instructor, a tall, handsome, slightly scarred ex-hockey player who had absolutely no trouble with dates and who was much too practical to understand Piggy's desire and ability to create and enter dream-worlds; "Check the air passage. Is she breathing? Take her pulse."
He placed Piggy's left hand on the beautiful plastic chin, moved his right hand behind the delicate synthetic head, and showed him how to tilt the doll's head back to clear the air passage. "Now you vent twice: one, two... and as you're venting you take the young lady's pulse." He placed Piggy's hand against the spot on the doll's throat where a normal person's jugular should be. "Now wait ten seconds. Count them out loud: A one; a two; a three..."
Piggy did as he was told. Then, he closed his eyes, and, as he puffed and puffed he felt warmth entering Annie's torso and he felt the plastic model twitching as he covered her mouth with his own. No! Annie could not be dead. Piggy had brought her back to life; slyly, he slipped his tongue between the plastic teeth which clamped down gently...
The sharp bitter taste of ethyl alcohol brought him back to reality. Yes! Annie was moving! The instructor had her by the track suit top and was on his knees beside Piggy, yelling at the top of his voice: "Vent twice! Then move to the torso, measure and pump fifteen times! You pump fifteen times; you don't vent fifteen times! Think! You idiot! You're not trying to inflate a life raft!"
"Oh, but I am!" Thought Piggy. And the warmth and the movement of
Annie beneath him sent him into ecstasies.
That night, Piggy dreamed of Annie. She was lying beside him in bed. A limbless torso to the Instructor, maybe, but a real live half-person in Piggy's mind. And Piggy could make her whole. He was over the top of her body, venting, venting, filling her with air. "15-21 15-4! And one for the Jack - 5!" he repeated to himself. Then, breathing into her mouth, he prayed and prayed: "Oh God! Let her live! Let her come back to life!"
As he blew and blew, Annie's torso grew arms. Long, thin snake-like appendages that twitched like garden hoses as the air ran through them then gradually filled and filled until even the little fingers with their oh-so-perfect nails popped into existence. Then he created the lower limbs. Venting and praying and praying and venting until thighs filled out and calves were plumped with flesh and Annie's ten little toes twitched beseechingly beneath him in the bed.
"Now!" Thought Piggy. "Now!" And the sound of wedding bells was the ringing of the alarm clock as he wrestled, face-down, with Teddy Bear and pillow, clutched beneath him.
That morning, for the first time in his life, Piggy went to the Yellow Pages and looked up Sex Shops. Placing a pencil between his teeth so that the clerks would never recognize his voice, Piggy called around until he found a store that sold inflatable women. He described exactly what he was looking for: the strong, silent type. Neat, tidy. Nordic features. Tall. He gave his name and address and he arranged for the parcel to be sent around to his house in a brown paper packet so the mailman would never know about the beauty he was helping to deliver into the world. Then, he gave his Visa number over the phone and listened, scarcely daring to breathe as the clerk told him that delivery would be in 4 to 6 weeks time.
Piggy was crying as he placed the telephone receiver back in its cradle. He was convinced that he had finally found the life-long companion for whom he had been searching.
That night, Piggy went to bed happy. He kissed his Teddy Bear goodnight, wrapped his arms round his pillow, and created a new dream in which he and blonde, bouncy Annie went out together on their first date.
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