The Sick Pig

Once upon a time there was a pig. It was a sick pig. Now, in a town far away across the hills there lived a vet. The vet had undergone many years of training in the veterinary sciences, and numerous diplomas in frames hung on the walls of his surgery. The surgery was a clean bright building in the middle of a row of slightly shabbier buildings in the centre of the town far away across the hills from the sty where the sick pig ailed. Next to the surgery was a pie shop, and next to the pie shop was a haberdashery and next to the haberdashery was the town hall annexe. On the other side of the vet’s surgery from the pie shop was a second pie shop, and next to that was the library, and squeezed in next to that was a kiosk selling tickets for local events and entertainments and next to that was an ironmongery. Beyond the ironmongery was the bus station.

The frames in which the vet’s many diplomas were displayed had been made by a framer on the other side of town. One day, the vet rolled up all his diplomas and shoved them into a cardboard cylinder, and waited at the bus station. He caught the number 666 to the other side of town and gave the cylinder to the person behind the counter at the framers’, who filled in a receipt from a pad of receipts and gave it to the vet, who put it in his pocket. Six weeks later the vet went to collect his many diplomas, now beautifully framed, and he carried them back to his surgery on the 666 bus and hammered nails into the walls of his surgery and hung the frames on the nails. Now he had all his diplomas on display.

If the diplomas were to be believed, the vet had demonstrated the ability to cure the ills of horses and bats and birds and toads and cats and killer bees and shrews and weasels and ducks and chickens and otters and badgers and field mice and cows and bears and hamsters and even giraffes, but not one of his diplomas had a word to say about pigs.

Now, the piggery person whose pig was sick, upon discovering the pig’s sickness, tried out a number of folk remedies, old and new. He sprinkled the pigsty with tansy and frangipani and gloxinia. He went to see the Woohoowoodihoo Woman, who gave him a spell to cast. He set up a loudspeaker in the pig sty and played In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly, over and over again. He took tips from books by Tony Buzan. But the pig stayed sick. In fact it got worse. The piggery person was at his wits’ end. Then he remembered hearing about the vet in a town far away across the hills.

Leaving the assistant piggery person in charge, the piggery person set off on the long journey across the hills. On the first day he met a man dressed all in green who set him a challenge. The piggery person bashed him about with a bludgeon and went on his way. On the second day he was engulfed in a vaporous mist and had to use his torch to find his way through it. On the third day the man dressed all in green stood in his path again, so this time the piggery person felled him with a Goon Fang manoeuvre. On the fourth day, from the very top of the high hills, he saw the town nestling in the verdant vale below and a gigantic, mythical bird, a bit like Sinbad’s Roc but bigger, plucked him with its talons and soared down into the town and deposited him in front of the vet’s surgery.

The vet was out on call at an owl sanctuary, so while waiting for his return the piggery person studied the many diplomas hanging in their frames on the walls. He was dismayed to note that not one of the diplomas announced the vet’s skills at curing sick pigs. He resolved not to fret, but to question closely the vet upon the vet’s return to his surgery. He sat down in the waiting room and leafed through some of the Dobson pamphlets scattered higgledy-piggledy on the table. He became so engrossed in a pamphlet entitled The Man Who Put The Bee In Beelzebub that he did not notice the vet skipping jauntily back into the surgery, even though his entrance set a bell a-jangling. When the piggery person looked up from the pamphlet, the vet was looming over him. It was the man dressed all in green he had twice encountered on his journey!

“Twice we met and twice you knocked me aside, now here you are where I abide,” rhymed the vet, in a voice high-pitched, wheedling and malevolent. The piggery person shrivelled in his seat.

“Your pig is sick, and I shall cure it, but you will have to pay a forfeit,” said the vet.

He pointed his long bony finger at the piggery person, and sparks flashed, and there was a puff of inexplicable roseate vapour. When it dispersed, the seat where the piggery person had been sat shrivelling was revealed to be empty. At the same moment, far away across the hills at the piggery, the assistant piggery person was beflummoxed to see the sick pig cured, cured and thriving. It grunted happily and trotted out to scrubble in the muck. There was a big black beetle in the muck.

One thought on “The Sick Pig

  1. Frank,

    Is this one of Dobson’s “Tales of the Uncanny”? I remember you read a few extracts from this bone-chilling pamphlet last year. I had ever since wondered what the other 37 uncanny tales were like.

    If that is the case, it is interesting that Dobson includes a reference to one of his own pamphlets in the story. All the more curious because I do not believe he ever got round to writing “The Man Who Put The Bee In Beelzebub”. Perhaps this was a pamphlet that Dobson had intended to write – perhaps it was a mere figment of his imagination.

    Tristan J. Shuddery

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