Fresh Bacon by Richard Godwin

It was noon when they awoke the pig. It was slumbering in the folds of my mother’s lap all the way there.

I considered it, pink beyond measure and menacing as my father at twilight. He would lift the sheets and hum as he got into bed.

My mother shook a drop of sweat from her sleep heavy brow and set the shrieking beast on the seed strewn floor of the cheap and sweating compartment we had travelled so many miles in.

Lost among the mumbled words of peasants and small time businessmen.

I wondered what hope their lives held as I jumped the two feet drop with my small gray flannelled legs below me.

My aunt waited for us at the end of the platform like some disgraced actress from films that made me drowsy on summer afternoons.

‘It’s over’, my mother said, racing in front of me and whispering into her sister’s angular shoulder.

‘I warned you, you never listen.’

In the brief exchange of glances and the veiled stare my aunt gave me I sensed the conspiracy of desertion, and the empty shell of loss early.

I carted my case, now heavier, to the car that waited for us in the endless vertigo of that twilight.

They said no more and I waited in childhood’s caul of ignorance for some elucidation of why I was there.

My mother picked at the hem of her sleeve while the pig shrieked with obscene aggression in the back.

The house was dark and uninviting and we ascended stone steps and left the animal in the hallway.

I listened to the conversation below as I went to bed.

I heard only the dark mutterings of shame and regret.

I began to wash, rubbing my hands blindly in the darkened bathroom where a dripping bath tap made me drowsy and indifferent.

I must have rubbed them raw for the next thing I knew the birdsong brought my reddened hand into view, sprayed with the spittle from my slack jawed mouth.

I rose and wandered the deserted corridors of the house I hated.

I wondered what had happened to my father.

When my mother rose she seemed more my aunt’s sister than someone I knew, as if she had been altered by an unseen hand in the night.

They ate while I stared out of the window at the grounds.

It occurred to me from their hushed tones and darting glances that I had become a nuisance, something they would get rid of. Once again father’s face swam into my mind like the bloated body of a dead fish.

I looked for the pig all morning.

Its pink skin seemed warm and less threatening than the long dresses my mother and aunt wore.

The swishing of the starched material jarred me.

I catalogued my wrongs.

I watched the daylight die.

I never saw the pig again. I grieved the loss of a plaything.

That evening we ate so far apart at the long polished table my mother seemed made of waxwork.

I tried to hide my hands beneath the tablecloth.

My only guilty pleasure was the fresh bacon the dinner brought.


Richard Godwin writes dark crime fiction, and he lets it slip the net like wash into horror.
His work has appeared in many publications, places like A Twist Of Noir and Pulp Metal Magazine, as well as in three anthologies. His play ‘The Cure-All’ has been produced on the London stage.  His first crime novel ‘Apostle Rising’ is about to be published and will be released for sale onto the market at the beginning of 2011. You can watch a video ad of ‘Apostle Rising’ by using this link . All his published works can be found at his site.

32 thoughts on “Fresh Bacon by Richard Godwin”

  1. What a tale…what a perfectly divine sentence:

    When my mother rose she seemed more my aunt’s sister than someone I knew, as if she had been altered by an unseen hand in the night.”

  2. You’re at your quadruple layered best in this one Richard. Puts me a bit in mind of Hemingways “Hills Like White Elephants” with circumstance and surroundings melting, melting, melting away to a single searing point that slithers softly into your mind, unbidden, and causes you to go, softly, “Oh.”

  3. First I was impressed to all hell by the writing, and as I neared the end I planned to comment on the very sentence I find Quin has remarked. That observation was a particular high point in the reading. Then, I thought I’d say something about the after story suggested by the ending and discovered Charles Gramlich already noted same.
    So, all that’s left for me to say is “Ditto to both, eureka to you. This is an extremely fine piece of work, Richard.” Loved it from beginning to end.

  4. And if he’d known, how would things be different? Would the house be any warmer? Perhaps by righteous anger. He would be hungry for bacon. But not for piggy’s. But I suppose that’s another story that you have in your PMM refrigerator, aye, Richard?
    As all the others said, a brutal poetic tale.

  5. As tiny as this is word-wise, it’s mighty enough to stand out among my favorites like Liars of the Laughing City and Bloodshed and Roses and Lunch With Bella and the final episode of The Skin Room and… You’ve done this so much and so many times it just rolls right out of you every line and detail placed just right. Ditto especially Mr. Hayes. This is a gorgeous cut, a pristine slice. Cooked righer than right.

  6. The spare quality to this worked so well for me. It was a resonant reminder that the gulfs formed by prose are where the worst devils incubate. This piece is most powerful in its absences and in the precision you’ve employed to shape it – particularly the lines already cited, Quin’s mention being my favorite. You accomplish some of the most menacing quiet crafted today, and I’m always glad to see – or, rather, not see – more of it.

  7. What was it they left behind…and what was it that they traveled to? Such loss, despair and even fear of what was and what could be. Great pain and sacrifice and it is only a hint of the pain and sacrifice to follow. Heartbreakingly beautiful, Richard.

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