Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chapter Twenty-One

Though they do not know it, Pinocchio and the Little Pig are being watched.

It’s easy to follow them – they keep to the road, out in the open. But even if they were to risk the woods, he couldn’t lose them – the odor of pig flesh and pine is too strong to miss.

The two walk toward the Castle of the Door, an unlikely pair on a long and lonely road.

“It’s the only destination that makes sense,” the Pig had said, back when they set off on their journey.

“Why?” asked Pinocchio.

“Because,” said the Little Pig, “if your father is still alive, he would have fled the kingdom long ago, like everyone else seems to have done.”

“Why?” asked Pinocchio.

The Pig’s patience was stronger back then. “Because it’s no longer safe here. Those monsters are dangerous.”


“They just are.”

And so they departed from the house of brick, not looking back. The Little Pig left behind his two brothers – one buried in the cellar, the other still stumbling in his fishing net. And though the pig of straw, rotting and ruined, tried to follow, he was soon lost behind.

The Little Pig tries to enjoy the sun on his face, trapped as he was for so long in a room without light, but there’s little warmth in the autumn air.

“Did you have any pets?” asks Pinocchio.

“No,” says the Pig.

“Why not?”

“Because I didn’t want any.”

“Why not?”


“That’d be funny, wouldn’t it? For a pig to have a pet?” Pinocchio mulls this over for a moment, then asks, “Are you hungry?”

“No,” says the Little Pig automatically. It doesn’t surprise him - the tool belt across his waist is now tighter by several notches. He’d lost most of his appetite after his second brother died, and it has yet to return to normal.

“I’m not, either,” says Pinocchio.

The Pig accepts this never-ending conversation with an odd mixture of gratitude and annoyance. Although he’d never been one for idle blather, he does not miss the days of solitude and silence in his house of brick.

After a few hours on the road, the Little Pig had learned everything about Pinocchio’s life story. Constructed by his father the toymaker, granted life by the Blue Fairy, forced into slavery by a garlic-smelling foreigner, finally escaping during the riots, and now searching for his father.

Once Pinocchio had exhausted his own tale, he started a string of endless questions about the Little Pig’s past, and days later, he shows no sign of slowing.

“Who was that other pig?”

“My brother.”

“Did you have any other brothers or sisters?”

“Just one other brother.”

“Where is he?”

“He’s dead.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. Are you the youngest?”

“No, the eldest. There are some monsters up ahead.” The Little Pig pulls a hammer from his tool belt, just in case.

“I’ll be back!” Pinocchio smiles at the Pig and skips down the road toward a cluster of the dead. A dozen armored knights, intrigued by the clanking of the others, chase one another in a forever game of Follow the Leader.

Pinocchio knows what to do. He dances around them, leading them far, far from the road, almost to the edge of the woods. Then the puppet falls to the floor. After a moment, the dead are distracted by the rustling leaves and the smells of the forest, and they disappear into the foliage.

Pinocchio soon skips back.

“Where are your parents? Are you married?”

All sorts of childish nonsense, thinks the Little Pig. His brother probably would've gotten along perfectly with this little boy.

That thought makes the Pig sigh. He'd never truly gotten along with his brothers. They were content to laugh and sing the day away, never a thought toward tomorrow, and look where it had taken them.

He, on the other hand, had lived a life of hard work, and look where it'd taken him – to an abandoned country with a small puppet for a companion. He isn’t sure who to pity more.

And so they continue to walk, unaware that all this time they are being watched.