“Christ, it’s like you never snuck out of a house before,” Lindsey whispered. She pressed at the corners of the screen and then lifted it up. She squirmed out headfirst, her skinny legs kicking slightly as she did a somersault onto the front lawn. Colin followed, feet first, trying a kind of limbo strategy that looked ridiculous.
Having successfully sneaked out of the house, Lindsey and Colin brushed themselves off, ambled to the front door, and opened it.
“Hollis,” Lindsey called, “we’re home!” Hollis was seated on the couch, a pile of papers in her lap. She turned to them and smiled.
“Hey,” Hollis said, all trace of anger gone from her voice. “D’y’all have fun?”
Lindsey looked at Colin, and not at Hollis. “I’ve rarely had so much fun in my life,” she said.
“I bet,” said Hollis, who didn’t seem to be listening.
“It was the warehouse. ” Colin spoke softly, conspiratorially, as they climbed the stairs. “She goes to the warehouse on Thursdays. ”
Lindsey smirked. “Yeah, I know. You’ve lived here three weeks; I’ve lived here seventeen years. I don’t know what’s going on, but between that and selling land and always being in a furious phone conversation whenever we show up at the house, I’m starting to think a road trip might be in order,” said Lindsey.
“They can solve a surprising number of problems, road trips,” Colin acknowledged.
“Road trip? Did somebody say road trip?” Hassan stood at the top of the staircase. “Because I’m in. So is Katrina. She’s a college student, you know. I’m dating a college girl. ”
“She’s getting her clinical nursing assistant license at Danville Community,” Lindsey said dismissively.
“That’s college; that’s all I’m saying! And to think, Singleton, you thought I’d never get a college girl unless I went to college. ”
“How was the date?” Colin asked.
“Sorry, dude. Can’t talk about it. My lips are too numb from all the kissing. That girl kisses like she wants to suck out your soul. ”
Colin sneaked into Hassan’s room immediately after Lindsey went downstairs to bed, and they discussed Hassan’s situation (second base over the shirt), and then Colin told him about Lindsey, minus the secret hideout, because it seemed private.
“I mean,” Colin said, “it was dark and our whole faces were touching except our lips. She just brought her head against mine all of a sudden. ”
“Well, do you like her?”
“Um, I don’t know. At that moment I kinda did. ”
“Dude, think about it. If you could make your Theorem work, you could predict how it would go. ” Colin smiled at the thought. “Now more than ever, you have to finish. ”
The next few days were slightly awkward with Lindsey. She and Colin remained friendly, but it was all so superficial, and Colin felt like they ought to be talking about the big issues of mattering and love and capital-t Truth and Alpo, but they only talked about the mundane business of taking oral histories. The sly jokes were gone; Hassan complained repeatedly that “all of a sudden, I’ve got to pull all the funny-weight in this family. ” But slowly, things returned to status quo: Lindsey had a boyfriend, and Colin had a broken heart and a Theorem to finish. Also, Hassan had a girlfriend and they were all preparing for a pig hunt—so, then again, things weren’t entirely normal.
The day before his inaugural Feral Hog Hunt, Colin Singleton prepared the only way Colin Singleton would: by reading. He scanned through ten volumes of Foxfire books for information about the habits and habitat of the feral hog. Then he Googled “feral pig,” from which he learned that wild pigs were so widely disliked that the state of Tennessee pretty much allowed you to shoot one whenever you came across it. The feral pig is considered a “pest animal,” and as such is not subject to protections afforded, say, a deer, or a person.
But it was in Hollis’s copy of a book called Our Southern Highlands that Colin found the most descriptive passage regarding the wild hog
: “Anybody can see that when he67 is not rooting or sleeping, he is studying devilment. He shows remarkable understanding of human speech, especially profane speech, and even an uncanny gift of reading men’s thoughts, whenever those thoughts are directed against the peace and dignity of pigship. ” This, clearly, was not an enemy to take lightly.
Not that Colin intended to take any action against the peace and dignity of pigship. In the extremely unlikely event that he even came across a hog, he figured, he’d allow it to study devilment in peace. Which was how he justified not mentioning the hog hunt to his parents during their nightly phone conversation. He wasn’t really going on a hunt anyway. He was going for a stroll through the woods. With a gun.
He awoke to his alarm the morning of the hunt at four-thirty. It was the first time since arriving in Gutshot that he’d beaten the rooster to waking. Immediately, he opened his bedroom window, pressed his face up against the screen, and shouted, “COCK-A-DOODLE DOO! HOW DO YOU LIKE IT FROM THE OTHER END, YOU LITTLE FUGGER?”
He brushed his teeth and then got in the shower. He kept the water coldish so as to wake up. Hassan came in to brush his teeth and shouted over the running water, “Kafir, I can say it with confidence: Today is a day that no pigs will die. I’m not even allowed to eat the motherfuggers;68 I’m sure not going to kill one. ”
“Amen,” Colin answered.
They were in the Hearse, with Lindsey and Princess in the backseat, by five.
“Why the dog?” asked Hassan.