Okay, so you’re walking down a quiet street in China, Maine, with your dog. He’s sniffing the mounds of dirty snow and you’re imagining what you might eat for lunch. Out of the blue – an ear-splitting scream.
It pierces the silence of this rambling country road and raises the little hairs on the back of your neck. You look to the right and the left and freeze.
It’s happening again and it’s coming from the farmhouse on the corner.
Of course you think domestic violence.
Let’s face it. This is Maine, and while the state is relatively safe when compared to other parts of the country, it’s a place where domestic violence has an unfortunately solid foothold. You’re not being alarmist – you’re being realistic.
The sound of the scream endures, and it gets under your skin. You’ve got to do something, and fast.
You whip out your cell phone. Your fingers are freezing but you dial 911. You tell them where you are, and what you fear. Someone is getting hurt in that farmhouse.
The cops glide in a silent car. You and your dog stand by the road and watch. They circle the house, hands on their guns, and knock on the door. A woman wearing jeans and a flannel shirt appears. She moves back to allow the police entry and you and your dog wait. You brace yourself: more screams and maybe gunshots are next.
Instead you hear laughter. That’s right – laughter. The cops are out of the farmhouse and they’re slapping each other on the back and chortling. You and Leo (cause that’s your dog’s name) wander closer. “Everything okay, officers?” you ask.
“Yeah, yeah,” says one of the cops. He glances at his partner and then cocks his head toward the farmhouse. “Lady raises pigs,” he says. “And she just put a male in with a bunch of horny females. You better believe he’s screaming.”
“Screaming for joy,” adds his partner.
“Huh,” you say, backing away with your dog. It’s an odd feeling – you’re almost disappointed.
OK – so this is a real story here in Maine. Happened in Gerry Boyle’s neck of the woods, and I’ve gone off on a fictitious romp. A client in New Jersey alerted me to the story. Her email was headed, “Only in Maine.” She’d seen this particular news item on the Huffington Post.
I had to blog to you about it…. perhaps because I’m remembering instances when I was scared silly, and they turned out to be… nothing. Not quite pigs… but nothing.
Experiences like this help inform the crime writer. And so do images.
Take a look… Probably the creepiest painting ever, right?
Somehow I don’t think Edvard Munch was thinking of pigs.