THE WILD SIDE
"We do Christmas a bit different out here in the
mountains." Ruth spoke softly as she led this year's
new boyfriend beside the hound on the chain and up
the dark, overgrown path to her Gran's house.
Light streamed towards them as the front door
squeaked open to show little-old-Gran standing
silhouetted in welcome. Behind her they could see
glimpses of a party that was already in full swing but
which seemed strangely quiet in the cramped space
of the old cabin.
"Hello Gran, this is Chase," said Ruth.
"Chase is it?" said Gran. "Looks more like you've
caught him already. Oh, do bring him into the light
where I can get a good look at him."
Gran looked the young city lad up and down rather
more carefully than he thought was normal for an
older lady. Picking up on his reaction, she smiled and
held out her hand. "Very pleased to meet you Chase.
I've heard so much about you. Now, I've finally got to
meet you and check you out. It looks like you've got
good taste written all over you. A suit like that doesn't
come cheap but it's how you wear it that really
counts. And oh my goodness, you are the tasty one,
looks like you've been working out."
Then came a round of hearty Christmas' greetings
and hugs for Ruth coupled with introduction after
introduction for Chase. Soon he had given up any
hope of remembering who was who in the extended
When at last they had a few quiet moments to
themselves he whispered, "So many relations and
they all look like you."
"Don't you dare say a word about in-breeding up here
in the mountains," grinned Ruth. "And you haven't
even met my aunties yet. Let's go through to the
kitchen. They always get together in the kitchen."
"This is my favourite side of the family. The wild
side. They like the old ways," said Ruth as she went
round the kitchen table hugging each of her aunties in
"Doesn't he just look good enough to eat," giggled
"So, you're Chase. I hear you're in computers. Oh, I
do wish I could have your brains," said another.
"No, I want his brains," giggled another.
"Old ways?" said Chase.
"Oh yes, they still make their very own moonshine
whiskey," said Ruth. She pointed to a generous
collection of bottles with neat home-made labels set
out on the table. "Be careful my aunties don't fry your
brains with the spirits."
"Mine's the very best," said one as she poured Chase
a full glass.
"Just wait until you try mine," said another.
"I think I'm going to enjoy this Christmas party," said
Chase as he settled down with the aunties. Their
stories of the old days in the mountains just got better
and better with each and every sip of moonshine.
After a good while, Chase had to hold tight to the
edge of the table for his world was spinning round
and round and everything he could hear was drifting
farther and farther away.
* * *
"Sooo-ee, sooo-ee," the calls woke Chase with a start.
All around him, the men of the family were calling
out together. Christmas party hats were gone. Now
they all looked strangely sinister in identical tall
white chef hats but even worse was the rasping
symphony of steel on steel as each sharpened a long
"Sooo-ee, sooo-ee," the calls grew louder and louder.
In a cold moment of realization Chase remembered
this was how they called the hogs. And now they
were all around him and staring coldly down at him
and sharpening these long knives. Out of control, his
mind raced to flash back in an instant to some of
what had been said earlier, "We do Christmas a bit
different here, the tasty one, good enough to eat," and
then there was all that stuff about brains. Now it all
made sense, now he understood and now it was all
Chase struggled to get to his feet but the moonshine
whiskey held him tight in its grip and he barely
moved. As if in some dreadful dream, he felt himself
try to call out through the fuzzy haze of the alcohol
but he had little control over his thickened tongue.
The effort was altogether too much and he felt
himself slipping down into darkness.
* * *
It hurt more than anything had ever hurt before.
"What happened?" said Chase holding his head
where it hurt and seeing it was morning and that he
was still at the kitchen table.
"Moonshine whiskey happened," said Ruth. "You
passed out before they did the thing with the hog. It's
an old family tradition. You were supposed to put on
your chef's hat and help them carve it not start
mumbling something about us not making a pig out
of you. Looks more like you made a pig out of
yourself but we can always blame my aunties for
giving you way too much whiskey and you not being
used to it the way they are. Oh, and by the way, they
said they like you."
The Wild Side was published in
Golden Visions Magazine
Spring 2012 Issue.
ISSN No. 1942-4450.
First appeared as the Winning Entry
in Adult Creative Writing Club
Competition, No. 114, Feb 2011.