Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ever since he was a wee piglet, Percival Pig's dad told him he'd be a construction worker when he grew up. This confused Percival Pig. "What if I want to be a crossing guard?" he asked. "Or a plumber? Or an opera singer?"

"It's just the way things are," his dad said. "Everyone is assigned a job based on their innate abilities. Owls are smart, so they are professors. Foxes are sly, so they are businessmen. And pigs are sturdy, so they are construction workers."

Percival Pig didn't argue with his father, but he knew it wasn't right. Still, when his friends Freddy Fox and Ollie Owl went on to college, he dropped out of school and took a job on a construction site.

Every day he'd pile bricks on top of bricks. Lots of bricks. Endless bricks. But then one day he snapped. "I'm fed up with these stinking bricks!" he yelled to the other construction worker pigs. "This is species-based discrimination, and it's not fair. I'm going to find a place where I'm not relegated to a job for mindless idiots just because of what I am."

Percival Pig went home and threw all of his belongings into a knapsack and hopped on a bus out of town. Eight hours later he reached the big city. He couldn't believe his eyes! Instead of trees and lakes there were wide streets and big steel buildings that reached up toward the clouds.

"Isn't it incredible?" said Wally Warthog. "You must be new in town."

"I just moved here," said Percival Pig. "Do you know of somewhere I can live?"

"I do," said Wally Warthog. "I'm having a big new house built. You can live with me!"

"That'd be swell," said Percival Pig. "Thanks!"

The two new friends walked out of the big city to the winding roads of the suburbs, where Wally Warthog stopped in front of a giant pile of bricks. "Here we are!" he said. "This is your new home."

Percival Pig looked and looked but still couldn't see a building. "This is just a stack of bricks."

"Well, it's not entirely completed yet. But they're working hard. Look over there! Frankie Flamingo has been trying to lift that brick for nearly a year. One day he'll probably do it, but until then we keep assuring him that his positive attitude is far more important than actually having arms."

"Absolutely!" said Percival Pig.

Wally Warthog nodded. "That's why he always wins Employee of the Month."

Percival Pig noticed storm clouds moving overhead. "Maybe I'll help him," he said. "We could get this place finished in no time."

"That's very kind of you," said Wally Warthog. "But you can't. That would perpetuate a species-based stereotype and thus is forbidden by law. You could go to jail."

Percival Pig scanned the area for policemen, then stripped off his shirt and joined in. He piled up brick after brick, exactly following the blueprints, and pretty soon he completed a magnificent twenty-foot high statue of Charo.

"Fantastic job!" said Wally Warthog. "What a great new home!"

"No it's not," snapped Percival Pig. "It's a giant statue of Charo. Do you want to live in a giant statue of Charo?"

"Maybe," said Wally Warthog. "Why, here's the architect right now. Gregory Goat, we were just admiring your latest creation. My new house looks just like a giant statue of Charo!"

Gregory Goat crossed his eyes at them. "I'm not an architect -- I'm an artist. And that's not a blueprint: it's a drawing of my girlfriend."

"Oh," said Wally Warthog. "I guess I got confused by the detached bathrooms."

Gregory Goat shook his head. "Those are maracas."

"My mistake. But . . . didn't you tell me you were an architect?"

"You try talking with a tin can in your mouth."

With no other options, Wally Warthog and Percival Pig moved into the giant statue of Charo. They lived together happily while Percival Pig studied hard and eventually he became an opera singer. They were driving to his opening night when another car ran right smack into them.

KABANG! was all they heard. Smoke and fire were everywhere.

"Ohmigosh!" said Wally Warthog, crouching over the near-lifeless body of Percival Pig. "Are you hurt?"

"Maybe a little," said Percival Pig.

Wally Warthog sighed. "I suppose you think it's stupid that our policeman, Millie Mole, directs traffic by sonar."

"I just appreciate the fact she's been given the opportunity."

"That's right," said Wally Warthog. "It's the thought that counts. Look, the paramedics have arrived! They'll fix you up good as new."

Danny Deer grabbed his first-aid kid and hopped out of the ambulance. He trotted over to Percival Pig, but before he got there he noticed the car's headlights pointing straight at him. Though he'd been through eight years of training in emergency medicine and trauma surgery, they hadn't taught him how to ignore his instincts.

He froze.

Wally Warthog couldn't budge him. Barbara Beaver couldn't budge him. Oscar Owl couldn't budge him.

"Well, the good news is," Wally Warthog said to Percival Pig, whose trotters were wedged into the crumple of metal and being sprayed with boiling radiator fluid, "in this bright, fearless city, every individual has an equal opportunity to make something of themselves, regardless of their background or ability. Instead of assuming what people can't do, we have high hopes for what they can."

Percival Pig squinted as his liver shut down once and for all. "That is so totally cool," he said.

* * * * *

All the animals came to Percival Pig's funeral. Becky Bird made a speech. Orville Ostrich brought snacks. Steve Squirrel lowered the casket into a plot overlooking the city, where it rested in peace. And then one day the snows came, and he dug it up again.


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