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The Big Pig Shoot

The Big Pig Shoot

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Published by Tim W. Brown
“The Big Pig Shoot," an excerpt from Second Acts, a novel by Tim W. Brown, published in 2010. Originally appeared as a web exclusive in November 2010 at brooklynrail.org.
“The Big Pig Shoot," an excerpt from Second Acts, a novel by Tim W. Brown, published in 2010. Originally appeared as a web exclusive in November 2010 at brooklynrail.org.

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Published by: Tim W. Brown on Nov 06, 2010
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12/15/2010

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 From
Second Acts
, A NovelBy Tim W. Brownhttp://www.amazon.com/Second-Acts-Tim-W-Brown/dp/1928589510/ 
Second Acts
is a comic historical novel set in 1830s America, a time of great social upheaval andreform fervor, not unlike the 1960s. The novel tells the story of a young man, Dan Connor, whohas followed his wife Rachel and her lover Bruce Bilson, aUniversity of Chicago physics professor and the inventor of time travel, into the past. In his journey he obtains a mysticalsidekick, a Potawatomi transvestite named Listening Rabbit (aka Bunny), and he befriendshistorical figures such as Albert Gallatin and Samuel J. Tilden. Rachel and Bilson maddeninglystay one step ahead of Connor. But as time moves forward, Connor’s fortunes rise while Bilson’sfall, and Rachel attains fame as a lyceum speaker, the Oprah of antebellum America.
Second Acts
 refutes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notion that “There are no second acts in American lives.”
 
The Big Pig ShootAn Excerpt from
Second Acts
, a NovelBy Tim W. BrownThanks, yet again, to the good graces of Mr. Gallatin, I received my invitation from theManhattan Civic Improvement Club to participate in their annual pig shoot. “Customarily,” heexplained, “invitations are sent to the three hundred richest men on the island, popularly known,appropriately enough, as ‘The Three Hundred.’ Recognizing that you possess more money than atleast two of the three hundred, I placed your name on their membership roll.”All of this was well and good, except I did not know how to shoot. To teach myself thismanly art, I purchased a hunting rifle and bullets from a hardware dealer on Dock Street, near thewaterfront, and I led Bunny on a trip each morning via the Broadway omnibus to the city’snorthern fringe, where in a meadow we improvised a firing range so I might practice.On a rocky outcrop, we set up discarded bottles that Bunny had scrounged early eachmorning from the refuse pile behind the hotel. I stood back perhaps thirty yards, loaded myweapon like the store clerk demonstrated, aimed, held my breath, pulled the trigger, and ... missedhorribly. Six days and three boxes of ammunition later, I managed to hit a bottle two times out of every five shots, a forty percent success rate. Despite a second-straight-week of target practice,during which I played whatever mind tricks I could on myself to lie still, breathe slowly, andrelax my muscles, I could do nothing to improve my technique and make this percentage rise.Looking at me after another volley of shots widely missed their mark, Bunny said,concluding that my efforts were hopeless, “Bunny no can shoot bow and arrow. No can teachyou.”“I will just take along my gun and try my best. Surely, other men have gone away fromthe event without bagging a pig.”“Potawatomi men call you woman,” Bunny said, describing what would happen if thisscenario ever unfolded at one of her tribe’s hunting expeditions.“They will not say it, but that’s what the men will think of me here, too.”From this moment forward I seriously dreaded the upcoming hunt. Putting aside my poor shooting skills, I still was not convinced that if the opportunity arose, I could shoot a gun at a pigwith the intention of killing it. What if I only wounded it, and it squealed in agony until someone,
 
 probably not me, shot it again to put it out of its misery? In the modern world, where meat arrivesin your home already butchered, weighed, and wrapped in plastic, these images seemed positivelygrotesque.Also, I felt pressure emanating from Bunny, whom I did not want to disappoint. She hadformulated grand plans of serving a traditional Indian meal to Mr. Gallatin and me, with roast pig,a delicacy for her people, as the centerpiece. In her reasoning, I personally had to shoot the pig, because otherwise she would have to pitch in and prepare the feast for the polity, according to arecipe on which a majority of the cooks agreed. She required her very own pig to fulfill her vision, and I was appointed to supply it. Relating the opinions of the men in her tribe earlier, shemeant to shame me into shooting better, which, in turn, would award her her prize.To ready herself for the big event, Bunny prevailed upon me to take her to a cutlery storeand purchase a set of steel white men’s knives. In Fulton Street, among waves of meatpackershauling sides of beef and skinned pigs to-and-fro, we found such a store run by a man wearing atop hat and bloody apron -- a gentleman butcher. From his impressive stock Bunny selected four carving knives of various sizes, a meat cleaver, and a sharpening stone.As he wrapped her purchases in a scrap of burlap and tied the bundle with a length of twine, our gentleman butcher quipped, “I trust you’re not planning to use these knives to scalpyour enemies! Ha ha ha!”“Just getting ready for the annual pig shoot on Saturday,” I said. I glanced over at Bunny,who scowled at the man as if he were the only person in the world she meant to scalp. Bunny prided herself on being a civilized Indian, not only since traveling east away from the frontier with me, but long before we met, as the member of a settled, stationary tribe of farmers andwoodsmen that had inhabited their land for generations. She distinguished her tribe’s situationfrom the restless, acquisitive Huron to the east and the nomadic, slovenly Sioux to the west. Sheconsidered neither bunch particularly civilized.To encourage her improved behavior under Mr. Gallatin’s influence, I praised Bunny for not punching the gentleman butcher, or worse. She seemed pleased that I had recognized her restraint, and she promised to act like a civilized lady in all of her dealings. For the remainder of the week we looked forward, with varying degrees of relish, to the big pig hunt.I was unprepared for the massive exodus from the city, which began at dawn and lastedthe better part of Saturday morning. Omnibuses, freight wagons, and private coaches carted passengers heavily armed with guns, forks, and knives up the city’s three main thoroughfares,

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