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Charley had a neighbour that lived two houses up the road, a distance of about three and a half miles. For the most part, Charley and his neighbour that went by the nickname of Pook got along quite well. Only once in the three years since the Wolfs arrived from the old country to the new world had Charley and Pook ever had words between the two men. That of course is where this story originates.

It all started out innocently as a simple adventure to a nearby village. The trip was scheduled for the task of buying a pig. As Pook was for the most part the local butcher, he had a connection in the river village where he purchased his swine for butchering. Not only did Pook provide pork for his village, he also rented a stall in the nearby town of any consequences every Saturday. That allowed Pook a larger base from which to market and sell the pork, for each and every Saturday Maya villagers would arrive by seven in the morning.

Indeed, the Maya, the Creole, the Garifuna and the Coolie villagers would travel from as far away as forty miles to sell produce to each other as well as the handful of expats that frequented the weekly market. And in turn they would buy some of the staples that they could not find back up in the bush. Therefore on Saturdays countless busloads of Maya arrived into the seaside town unloading burlap bean bags stuffed with corn or oranges or bananas, whatever happened to be in season at the time. By twelve noon when the buses sounded their horns and lined up in the town square for the return trip to the mountains, the Maya would load up their now empty bags with all those items that they could not produce on their own, like machetes, rubber boots, plastic buckets, flour and some of Pook’s pork.

The day arrived when Pook and I were to travel down the road to the riverside village to pick out a pig that would be the center of attention for Charley’s 50th birthday party. Pook and Charley had been discussing the issue for months on end. Pook had explained that a large pig would be required to meet the needs of Charley goal, to feed everyone in the village a plateful of pork.

“Mr. Charley, I think you will need a eighty to one hundred pound pig…”

“Why so large?”, Charley queried.

“Well, once you cut off the head and cut away the fat and bones to get to the real pork, you lose a lot of that weight:”

Charley not really familiar with the ends and outs of slaughtering a pig was left to trusting Pook. Therefore if Pook was advising that an eighty plus pound pig would be required, who was Charley to question Pook??

They arrived at the riverside village around three in the afternoon. As the man owning the pigs allowed them to free range graze during the heat of the day, all he needed to recall them was to bang the side of a metal drum. Once they heard the pounding of that drum, they came running from literally all directions.

As the pigs approached, Pook and the pig master talked between themselves in local Creole. Suddenly and without warning the two me took off in the direction of an absolutely huge pig. Each man had a rope in his hand and after a couple of three circles around the yard, Pook lassoed the pig around the neck. As the pig was all focused upon how in the heck he was going to get that rope from around his neck, the old pig master snuck up behind the pig and lassoed his rope around the animals two hind legs.

Now that pig immediately realized that he had a problem. However, as a pig surly understands probably through a genetically placed sixth sense, he knew that there was little he could do. It was at that very moment that the pig, sensing that his days were numbered, simply went limp and quit putting up a fight.

With the large pig now subdued, the only left to do was to weigh the pig to determine a fair market price. Typically in the small villages that dot the countryside of Belize, the process of weighing a pig is quite simple. With the rope securing the pigs hind legs, you attach the animal to a scale that hangs from a limb of a tree. You then shimmy the pig until it is suspended in mid air and dangling from the tree.

Now as I have mentioned, this was a rather large pig. Yes it was easy enough to catch and secure to the scale, but when it came to finding a tree limb that would absorb the weight of the pig in order to get it to that state of suspension required to determine that fair market price, well that took some time.

When the limb was located down by the river, the job was far from done. Because Charley has a bad back from an entry he incurred during his two years of required military service in the Austrian army, he was in no shape to be lifting a pig. As for the pig’s master and Pook, between the two of them they were simply no match for the pig.

So after some time spent under the shade of that large tree down by the river with the pig firmly attached to the weighing scale, Charley, Pook and the pig master went about thinking of a way that they could get that large pig hoisted off the ground. It was actually Pooks wife that had come along for the ride who first suggested a plan.

“Mister Charley, why don’t you throw the chain that’s hooked onto to the scale that’s attached to the pig over the tree limb, then hook the end of the chain to the bumper of your truck??”

With bush country logic and physics working in harmony, the plan on the surface seemed plausible. After a few words of consultation between Charley, Pook and the pig master, the plan was put into action.

And so with the chain attached to the rear bumper of the 1987 Toyota pick-up which was connected to the weighing scale that was attached to the pig, Charley revved the engine. With a presumed adequate number of rpm’s in play, Charley slapped the stick in first gear and let off the clutch.

For a second or two time seemed to stand still. With smoke bellowing from under the pickup as the Toyota tried desperately to make traction, Pook, his wife, the old pig master and a fairly large contingency of locals that had now gathered outside a nearby coolspot to watch, slowly the truck started to move forward. In turn, the pig started to slide across the ground. As the truck got it’s footing, momentum hoisted the pig into the air. As the pig reached that point of sheer suspension, Pook and the pig master eyed together the scale reading.

But just as they were shaking hands to complete the deal, the pig seemed to muster up a second wind of revolt. As the pig gave a mighty kick, the tree limb bent slightly down towards the ground. It was at this point that Charley looking at Pook and the pg master shaking hands in his rear mirror, let off the gas pedal. This in turn slackened the chain.

The combined forces of the wiggling pig, the bent tree limb and Charley letting off the gas had a disastrous effect. For the chain snapped and so did the limb. When the limb broke, it ripped the rear bumper right off the back of Charley’s Toyota. With nothing left to hold the scale in place which was attached to the pig, they both fell to grown. And as the pig hit the ground running somehow the rope around the animals hind haunches loosened it’s grip just enough for the pig to free itself.

With Charley in the truck, Pook, Pook’s wife, the pig’s master and the locals at the bar somewhat caught up in all the commotion, the pig was thinking on it’s feet. In that millisecond of indecisive action on the part of all the humans, the pig seized the moment and made a mad dash into the bush, never to be seen again.

But the story did not end there. Because Pook and the pig’s master in their minds had consummated with the handshake, therefore the transaction was indeed a done deal. It was then that Pook broke the news to Charley.

“Mister Charley, you owe the man ninety-three dollars for the pig…”

“What do you mean I owe the man ninety-three dollars for the pig??”

“Well Mister Charley, if you had not hooked that chain to the scale that was slung over that tree down by the river and hooked to the hind legs of that pig and the back of your truck, the pig would never have gotten loose…”

“Pook, now surly you don’t think I should have to pay for a pig I never had possession of, now do you??”

“ Mister Charley, you can’t expect this poor man nor I to have to pay for your mistake, now do you?? And plus, you did have possession of that pig Mister Charley, up until your bumper came off…”


'Adventures with Charley Wolf' is a purely fictional account of life in Belize.


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