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by Charles Rempel

The Department of Pigs Flying

"You're late, Henderson."

"Yes, sir. I apologize, sir. I overslept."

"You overslept by five hours?"

"When I do something, I give it my all, sir."

"I respect that, Henderson. Now slink into your chair and maybe, just maybe, we can start this meeting!"

The boss, a short-and-stocky type of man by the name of Grenwald, slumped in his chair as Henderson slinked into his. Rubbing his eyes with his chubby fists, he wondered what will destroy this department first: the complete boobs he hired, or his inability to get any productivity out of them.

These weren't the best days to be a employee in the Department of Pigs Flying. Since the 1992 Presidential election, the amount of near-impossible events had tripled, peaking around Robin Williams' Oscar victory, and each event required a pig that flies, to show the impossible can happen.

Grenwald looked around the boardroom and hoped one of these people had an answer to their problem. That problem that needed to be addressed at this meeting, and solved as soon as possible, was finding a way to reuse the flying pigs. After each pig flight, there had been a horrible crash, resulting in the death of the pig and subsequent ham-making of its now-lifeless body. The Agency hadn't made a fuss of this yet, since the Department of Pork had shown a huge increase in profits, but Grenwald was running out of flying pigs, and with the Boston Red Sox recently signing power-hitter Manny Ramirez to a $160 million contract, the whole department had been on red alert.

Grenwald stood and addressed his staff, "Ladies and gentlemen, lay all your cards on the table. What do we do?"

"Just get more flying pigs."

That was from Updike. Grenwald hated Updike. Updike had success early in his career at the Department of Putting a Man on the Moon, but when that group closed in 1969, he began a long journey from committee to committee, becoming a burr under the saddle of many a department head. And now he had become Grenwald's burr. Obviously, he didn't understand the problem or even the subtleties between putting a man on the moon and pigs flying. You can make technology to put a man on the moon; flying pigs are born, not made, and with only two flying pigs per litter, it takes a while to stock up. He didn't understand that flying pigs could go extinct.

God, I hate Updike, Grenwald fumed. He wanted to give Updike a pithy two-word sentence, a simple sentence with a word that starts with "F" and a word that starts with "Y." He decided, why not?

"You're fired."

Updike looked shocked, but wasn't about to fight it. He hated pigs. He grabbed his briefcase and walked out.

Grenwald cleared his throat and turned to the remaining employees. "Anyone else?"

Each person at that table knew they had to say something, but nothing snippy like Updike. In a perfect world, their statement had to solve the problem, but since the members of the Department of Pigs Flying rarely had any great ideas, they had to do the next best thing: restate the problem, just so Grenwald can hear their voices.

Erickson: The problem's with the re-entry.
Ellis: Yes, re-entry.
Brubaker: The pigs seem to crash on re-entry.
Helense: That's right.
Henderson: We need to find a way to stop the pigs from crashing on re-entry.

Grenwald knew this restating game very well. It was how he got to the top of the department ladder. Now he hated people like this. How did he ever get to the top of the ladder acting like this? It's so transparent, he thought. He also thought these people are morons.

Frazier hadn't said anything. She had been sitting quietly, staring at her paper. It was time to join the fray.

"The problem's with their little legs," Frazier said. "They just can't get their little hooves running fast enough when they hit the ground to match the momentum they built while flying. That's why they always lose control, and crash and die and stuff."

Grenwald was impressed. It was more than just a rehash of the problem. Well, a little more. It pinpointed the actual problem, at least. He knew Frazier was smart for her days in the Department of Hell Freezing Over. Maybe she could save the Department of Pigs Flying.

"Do you have any way to fix this, Frazier?"

"Possibly." Frazier picked up the gym bag next to her seat and opened it. Reaching in, she pulled out two used pairs of roller skates. "We could put skates on the pigs. This will make for a smoother transition from air to ground."

"How will they stop?" Ellis asked.

"Will you teach them how to brake?" Helense added.

Frasier was ready. "Well, the smarter ones, maybe. The others will eventually stop through friction and gravity."

Grenwald was happy, but he dared not show it. This solution had merit, it could work, but he wasn't about to show he was pleased. That's a sign of managerial weakness. He knew it was time for a test. He pressed the intercom button on the phone.

"Mark, bring a flying pig to the executive parking lot, please."

Mere seconds later, the whole department stood in the parking lot, and Grenwald's assistant Mark approached, leading behind him a pig with wings.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Grenwald exclaimed, "it's time to test Frazier's theory. Get the skates on the pig."

While Mark held down the winged mammal, Ellis and Brubaker each grabbed a pair of skates and tied them to the legs of the pig. The pig wobbled a bit, looked very nervous, and everyone knew that if they didn't start the test soon, they'd be up to their ankles in hog urine.

"It's time, Erickson," Gerwald announced.

"Why me?"

"Because it's your turn, that's why?"

"I won't do it."

"Erickson, either prepare the event that is so unlikely to you, you'd do it when pigs fly, or clean out your desk. It's that simple."

Erickson lowered his head, "I'll do it."

Suddenly, the pig began to flap its mighty wings and soared into the air. It rose majestically, then at a hundred feet it leveled off, and began its full repertoire: swooping downward, loop-de-loops, upside down and right side up. It was a sight like no other.

At this time, Erickson took a big sigh, walked up to Henderson, and gave him a slow, wet kiss. It was not the friendly kiss of one male co-worker to another. It was a kiss of passion, of love, of lust. It was long and hard and lascivious and primal. It was the kiss everyone dreams of receiving, or giving, or seeing two women kiss like that through the peep show window. It was hot.

The pig's flying was done, and now it was time for re-entry. It began its descent, sharp at first, but leveled off at the end, until the wheels had hit the pavement, and the pig squealed through the parking lot, on all eight wheels and slowed down, until it came to a stop, with a dull thud, head-first into Brubaker's Xterra. The pig grunted, tried to walk away from the vehicle, but the skates made it wobble and fall down. But that was not important. The important part was that the pig was alive on re-entry. Flying pigs, like space shuttles and Pez dispensers, were now reusable.

Grenwald was very pleased. "Frazier, get on the horn to the boys at the Pork Department and tell them their days are numbered."


© copyright 2001 The Van Gogh-Goghs