Pledge by Robert Long Foreman
Call in now, said Weird Pig. Or call soon, at least. Pledge 50 dollars, he said, and you get the Weird Pig headset. Pledge 100 for the Weird Pig backpacks. Pledge 115 and get disinfected. Pledge 150 and you get 500 Monopoly dollars. Pledge 200 and you get 300 dollars of Life money.
Weird Pig went on to explain that the current Parker Brothers board game exchange rates were such that 300 Life dollars amounted to about 900 Monopoly dollars.
You would not believe, said Weird Pig into the microphone, what has been going on at all the schools where kids playing Monopoly suddenly find that other kids adjacent to them are playing Life. They are losing, losing, losing to the kids who play Life because they didn’t go into the game with sufficient knowledge of exchange rates.
I have all the information you need, explained Weird Pig, and I got it at realestatealley.com, where you can go and chat live with a licensed real estate docent, who will tell you all about the benefits of real estates.
The people in Weird Pig’s listening area had never heard anything like this on the radio.
They sent checks. They sent cash. The money came pouring in.
Some of them sent everything they had, and pledged to send more. They tried going to the website Weird Pig had named, but Weird Pig hadn’t actually made the website, though he’d planned to. The part about the website was what he called the broadcast’s currently hypothetical segment.
Not everyone has a natural radio voice. Weird Pig had one. Hence the on-air charisma that made so many pledges possible.
I trusted him because of his voice, said more than one person who was interviewed later by the FCC, when they went in to investigated the pledge drive.
It was his authority that did it for me, said one of the interviewees, an elderly woman. You can’t argue with confidence, she added, staring coldly into the interviewer’s eyes.
When he told them about it all later, Weird Pig insisted to the other animals at the barn that the reason his pledge drive was such a great success was that throughout the fifty minutes he spent on the air he was drinking gin.
It’s different from when you drink everything else, he told them. Other drinks make you slow, sorry and sad. Gin makes you focus.
When he said the word focus, he looked right into the eyes of one of the cows and didn’t look away for what felt, to the cow, like a very long time.
I’m a better pig when I drink, he said, looking away at last, leaving the cow with a feeling like something had been taken away from her. It’s like, he went on, there is something in my brain that gets switched off when I get drunk. It shuts down. Like something’s holding me back that when I drink just goes away.
But didn’t alcohol, said the horse, restrain the part of yourself that would have otherwise kept you from setting all those cars on fire outside the movie theater last month?
No, said Weird Pig. When I did that I was sober.
After a brief silence, he explained, The people who drove those cars were there to see a movie about firefighters. I gave them what they wanted. Because of what I did, when they left the theater they got to see more firefighters.
At first, the owner of the for-profit classic rock station was furious to learn that for 50 solid minutes of airtime a young pig had broken into the station, locked the DJ in the supply closet with a snake that bit him eleven times, his cries for help and mercy audible in the background of Weird Pig’s broadcast, and initiated a pledge drive. Why, demanded the station owner, did I buy this station two AR-15 assault rifles if you pussies won’t use them to stop a pig from taking over?
Then the money came rolling in. It rolled across the station’s threshold on little skateboards that Weird Pig had said everyone had to build at home so that their money could ride into the station on it. His instructions for how to build the skateboards had taken up 15 minutes of the broadcast. He kept forgetting how to make the axles stick to the boards. There were long pauses, as he tried to recall the details. Several times he had to start over.
When the astonished station owner saw the pile of money on his desk, the morning after haranguing the station staff, he said, Where is that pig? Somebody get me that pig.
They couldn’t find him.
The DJs googled Weird Pig repeatedly for half an hour, but no matter how many times they did it he didn’t show up in the results.
He was in the phone book, but they didn’t have a phone book. He was in the white pages, but they wouldn’t have known where to find a phone book had they known somehow that he was in there.
Weird Pig knew where to find a phone book. He had one in his hoof. He was at the farm, bragging to the tiger tomcat that he could be in two places at once. He held the phone book up to the tomcat’s face and pointed to his own name.
Here I am, he said. And here I am, too, right in front of you. You can’t do that, can you?
You are nothing, he added. Nothing.
He was filled with gin and as focused as could be, assuring the others that he wasn’t nothing, that it could have been he was everything.
A lot of things, he said, a tear forming in his eye that even he couldn’t explain. I definitely am a lot of things.
Robert Long Foreman’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared most recently in The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, New Ohio Review, and Tusculum Review. A collection of his essays, AMONG OTHER THINGS, is forthcoming from Pleiades Press. He is Fiction Editor at The Cossack Review. He is writing a novel. His website is www.robertlongforeman.com.
Image courtesy of James Petts via Wikimedia Commons.