Many years ago in bucolic Caswell County, on the edge of town, far from all folks, lived the meanest, ugliest, crankiest man, Zebulon Zeke. Why, he was so mean, ugly and cranky, no one in the county would speak to him, and he spoke to no one. Flowers that he planted in his garden would refuse to come up. Even the hummingbirds would fly over his cabin and go to Farmer Hester’s to do their humming.
His only companion for 10 years was his dog Chester. But even Chester was fed up with the slivers of bones the old man fed him. He just up and left one day never to be seen again. It was said that Chester found a kinder master who fed him Doggy Chow.
One day Zeb was driving his beat-up, rusted ’56 pickup truck into town to buy his rations. He heard what he thought was thunder, but there weren’t any clouds in the sky. He saw something wobbling down the road. Big chunks of earth were opening up at each of its steps. It was bigger than life. It looked like a hog. Zeb got closer. It must have weighed at least 15 tons. Zeb was aghast. What was this hog doing on the road? Zeb thought it had to be one of old Farmer Hester’s hogs. His was the only hog farm in the area.
He stopped his truck, got out and went over to take a look. He was dwarfed by the hog’s size. She towered over Zeb. She came eye-to-eye with the cab of the pickup. Her hooves were as large as tree trunks at Duke Forest. Her snout was so wide that she could smell Ma Dip’s sweet potato pie all the way from Chapel Hill. Her coiled tail was large enough to lasso a wild horse. That was some animal!
What should he do? He hadn’t spoken to old Hester in years. He would be darned if he went over there to ask him if one of his hogs was missing. So he decided to hitch her up to the pickup. He had to use 18 yards of rope. With one jerk forward, his fender was like a strand of spaghetti. He drove slowly to his cabin. He got Peggy Sue settled in the back of the cabin and just sat back. The following day Zeb was reading the Caswell County Register, and his eyes popped out when he saw the headline “Hog Disappears from Hester’s Farm.” A reward was posted for $500 by the Caswell County Convention & Visitors Bureau. It seems the hog was to be featured in Saturday’s Hog Day and was to be auctioned off to benefit local charities. Zeb knew what that meant. The new owner would hold Peggy Sue’s destiny in his hands.
On Saturday, Zeb got Peggy Sue ready for Hog Day. He bathed and groomed her. She loved the shower he gave her with the fire hose. He even splashed her with sample bath spray the Avon lady had left at his doorstep. He tied a 12-yard pink ribbon around her neck. Now Peggy Sue was ready to go into town. Zeb carefully hitched her to the pickup, and they rode into town early in the morning.
After enjoying all the golden fried chicken, sweet ears of corn and homemade pecan pie, Zeb and Peggy Sue were ready for the auction. The bidding started at $100 and quickly rose to $375. Zeb was getting worried. What would happen if some rich, greedy farmer from town were to win? Peggy Sue seemed to sense what was happening, and her yard long eyelashes started to droop. Before Zeb knew it, the bidding was up to $475.
“Do I hear $500, 500… going, gone…” Just then, old man Hester gave Zeb the evil eye, but Zeb had his lucky blue bead pinned onto his overalls. Zeb yelled out “$500!” “Sold to Zeb,” said the auctioneer who congratulated Zeb for winning Peggy Sue and asked for $500.
“Don’t have the money,” said Zeb.
“What you mean, don’t have the money? You bid for this here hog.”
“When I git the reward for finding Peggy Sue, then you git your money.”
“Well, guess fair is fair,” said the auctioneer. Peggy Sue felt what was happening and her eyes lit up. She held her head up high, and her tail just coiled right around again. She would be in good hands with Zeb. She would be spared the fate of being served up as barbeque, and she would be the Prized Hog of Caswell County.
Author’s Note: This tall tale was a speech turned into a story at a Toastmasters Contest.
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