Subterranean Joseph and Mary

First, I had doubts –
“Sick-Days” sacred to U.S. workers,
and why should I “blow one-off” for a friend
who wanted help to remove a grandson
from just another American house of horror?

Yea – Joe’s 65, a retired cop, glum,
only child Mary had “no self esteem,”
she’s shacked-up and in love
with a pig-farmer from Unityville, Pa
a guy she met on the monitored internet.
Two weeks gone, Mary and 2-year old son Jack
housed inside a ramshackle mobile-home,
boyfriend unemployed, Mary quit her job,
Joe said, “people can’t live on love alone,”
he had to intervene, I must blow-off a “Sick-day.”

Sunshine, windy road to Unityville pig-farm –
Passed through Rickett’s Glen State Park,
saw forest outskirt where lumberjacks worked,
home of left-over Mountain-men,
followed Mary’s non-AAA directions,
“turn right onto Rte. 239, see church on left,
a chopped-down Christmas tree farm,
pass a paved road, turn left on dirt road,
pass a dog-grooming business, a horse,
call me when you see a smiling pig sign, Dad,
you’ll be close.”

Atop hill, idyllic rural scene,
one that matched Moses’s final view,
minus the milk and honey.
Lawn ornament in view,
a black & white pig ornament stared at us,
wretched mobile home & barn in background,
no incoming electric wires, no heating oil tank,
fit for condemnation.
Joe’s on cell phone with Mary, service poor,
broken voice, Mary said, “you’re here…,
I’ll meet you in driveway, hand-over Jack.”

I am crazy, condemned.
I recalled Spahn Ranch images,
men & women living apart, and Mary too
did not want to go home, despite Grandpa’s
temptation of a better life.
I stared at the ramshackle trailer, no siding,
felt a tinge of fear from past, those 1960 movies,
people standing at House on Haunted Hill gate,
what lay inside that which won Mary’s heart?

Pulled Joe’s Buick in pig-farm driveway,
waited, waited, anxiety.
Mary and child emerged from barn,
I saw edges of broken farm tools,
they did not hold hands, Joe exited front-seat,
approached his family, no hug and kisses from Mary,
Jack ran toward grandfather, face & legs dirty,
smiling, Joe secured Jack in backseat,
gave him a bottle of milk, Joe sighed,
“Mission Accomplished, Chuck…,
Mary wants to stay, refused my offer to return home,
get on welfare, maybe become a nurse one day.”

Ready to roll, obsessed with the scene,
I asked Joe for permission to snap a photo of the pig-farm,
maybe show his ex-wife Nancy where Mary dwells.
“SNAP,” an unnecessary flash,
and the brother of Mary’s boyfriend emerged,
infuriated, he hollered,
“Who do you think your? Get the (expletive) off my farm!
Don’t ‘ya know it’s illegal to take pictures of people’s houses?

Profanity proliferated,
not updated on Patriot Act amendments,
the Rumsfeld in me kicked-in, I moved to exit Joe’s car,
liberate Mary, confront the pig-farmer,
(a convicted deer poacher) make him pay for disobedience.

Well, Joe was my Commander –
a “Sick-Day” skirmish, not what he wanted,
calmed down, I placed car into drive, back on road,
Jack sucked bottled-milk, Mary away in rear-view,
Joe’s pleased, Jack’s safe, later he’d bathe him,
let child pretend the pig flock’s fed,
let Jack push-around toy lawn-mower in parlor,
my “Sick-Day”spent, I wondered about those
left behind on pig farms, should I scream,
find the way home, return to work?

Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pa. He can be reached at: . Read other articles by Charles.