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Levi Drives Cooper to the Night Market by Josh Spilker

“Yeah, you never know, right? But get this, one time I’m working at the Starbucks supercutting these crash videos together,” Levi said.
     “What,” Cooper said. Levi and Cooper are in Levi’s 2002 Toyota Tercel. Levi is driving.
     “Like major wrecks and stuff. And these women were walking by, I’m not sure where to, they were in the parking lot, and I’m like looking out the window at them, and I can see they have like matching blankets and everything on their kids, and they might be related, and sure enough they start talking to one another, and one goes in her diaper bag or whatever sitting in the stroller and pulls out a vitamin case and then the other one like undoes the blanket on the stroller and I’m like ‘oh they’re like cousins or something,’ but she pulls out a baby pig. The pig was riding in the stroller.”
     “What,” Cooper said.
     “For sure, and I’m thinking ‘does the other one have a pig?’ But no she pulls off the blanket, and it’s just a baby, like I guess a normal American-suburban-good-school-district baby, and then the mother with the baby, not the pig, the human baby, takes out a bottle and shakes it up and the mother with the pig hands her a packet, i-dee-kay like formula or something and she dumps it into the bottle and shakes it up. Then she takes the bottle nipple and puts in the baby kid’s mouth. Meanwhile the baby pig is like on the other woman’s shoulder, and she’s trying to get it to stop crying and the pig is just looking at me, like it’s boring into me you know.”
     “Laser beams, maybe,” Cooper said.
     “I think it yawns or something, but it really doesn’t care. Then the woman with the human baby, you know the woman with the bottle, she takes the bottle out of her kid’s mouth and like wipes the bottle on her shirt sleeve,” Levi said.
     “No, tell me, tell me, wait she gives it to the other woman, say it, say it, go on, yes,” Cooper said.
     “You know it! But no! No, see, the woman doesn’t put the bottle in the pig’s mouth, she pulls up her shirt.”
     “Whoa, whoa,” Cooper said.
     “Yeah, so she takes the pig off her shoulder and then is like cradling the pig and is like breastfeeding her. For real! For real! I’m not lying,” Levi said.
     “You’re lying!” Cooper said.
     “I’m not I swear, I swear. This is disgusting. I’m like editing all these crazy crash videos of people dying and everything and this is the most grossed out I’ve ever been, probably.”
     “There’s no way, no way,” Cooper said.
     “Yes,” Levi said. “But then get this.” Levi exits off the highway. They see a sign that says Welcome to Duluth.
     “This lady is suckling this pig, you know, from her body. And I’m disgusted. Just grossed out. I look around to see if anyone else is watching this, but everyone has their earbuds in staring forward into pixilated screen mush. I sip coffee or water or something and turn back to the computer screen, pulling up another video. But then I hear this berserk tire squeal and look up to see this orange Bentley.”
     “Come on, an orange Bentley?” Cooper said.
     “Yes, orange Bentley,” Levi said.
     “There’s no such thing,” Cooper said.
     “I-dee-kay, I guess he had it custom painted or whatever, but this orange Bentley is there and this guy hops out. Doesn’t park or anything, is totally blocking the parking lot thoroughfare. But he is waving his arms.”
     Cooper watches Levi as he waves his arms violently.
     “He comes up and gets right in the face of the woman with the kid, I mean like finger in her face, two inches from her nose and the baby starts crying and it’s a mess,” Levi said.
Levi stops for a second and looks out the window. They stop at a light.
     “I don’t know what he’s yelling, I can just hear the general commotion, well now, after all this screeching, people in Starbucks look up.”
     Levi takes a breath.
     “But then this guy.”
     “What’s this man look like?” Cooper said.
     “He’s got like a blazer on with no tie, but his pants are totally plaid and he’s wearing these bright white high tops like Air Force One’s or something, complete basketball shoes, but they’re so white, getting out of his orange Bentley Bentley,” Levi said.
     “Ok, got it got,” Cooper said.
     “But so, okay, so he’s yelling at the woman with the baby, right? Just going off on her. I don’t know why, maybe these two women weren’t supposed to see one another, but then he turns to the other women and then kind of starts yelling at her, but then, like he can tell something is off, I guess, but all of a sudden, the pig jumps off the woman and starts running down the parking lot. The man yells, ‘a FUCKING PIG!’ and I can hear that even. The woman with the baby is shrieking, and the woman who was breastfeeding the pig is like crying and trying to cover herself. Now, like four people are up standing in Starbucks and I move towards the door. One of the baristas, was like ‘do not open the door. I do not want a pig in this restaurant,’” Levi said.
     “You’re trapped in the restaurant?” Cooper said.
     “Right, I know, because of some really healthy pig,” Levi said.
     “Tremendous,” Cooper said.
     “The pig is running around. Like crazy, right, and it’s all over the place and the guy who was yelling, you know, he goes back to the car.”
     “The orange Bentley,” Cooper said.
     “Right, the orange Bentley, and he reaches into a glove compartment or console and pulls out this knife, like a six inch knife.”
     “He can’t be, a butcher, can he?” Cooper said.
     Levi laughs. “Ell—ohh—ell,” Levi said. “Good question, but I don’t think he’s a butcher, but he pulls it out and starts walking towards the Starbucks because the pig—”
     “Yeah, where’s the pig?” Cooper said.
     “The pig is like huddled up between these outdoor tables at the side of the Starbucks, sort of like this side patio and the pig is huddled between a table leg and the railing, and the guy, he has the knife out, and he’s walking towards the pig, his coat is waving back and forth you know, he’s got this swagger to him,” Levi said.
     “After the pig?” Cooper said.
     “Right, he’s going after the pig, so he starts moving towards the pig, he’s almost to the rail, and the woman who owns the pig I guess runs and grabs him and is like ‘No, Marshall don’t you dare, no Marshall please, please, don’t,’” Levi said. “And this guy behind me is like ‘Jesus’ and there’s this kid in there, this kid with dirty blonde hair in a Falcons jersey and he just starts crying. The whole thing is really tense, everyone is at their wit’s end, you know, wondering about this pig.”
     “Right, right,” Cooper said. They were in the parking lot of some small strip center in Duluth. A faint glow surrounded an outdoor light. Cooper looked through the windshield. He saw people walking towards the building. A sign that said “Night Market” hung over a door. People walked under the sign. Levi clicked off the headlights to the car. The interior lights went off. Cooper and Levi were in the dark.
     “I mean, then, the woman is grabbing at the man’s jacket, really pulling at her, and still no one is walking outside, no one wants the pig to run in the restaurant, the woman is behind this guy, Marshall, I guess, and then she just dives on the ground and lunges for the pig, but Marshall he like hops over her arm and just out of her grasp, he scoops up the pig all in one motion.”
     “He has the pig now,” Cooper said.
     “Yeah, right, and this woman, I mean she’s on the ground, bawling and just berserk, going ballistic, right, and Marshall, see, he takes his knife and puts it at the pig’s throat and then says ‘I’m tired of this FUCKING PIG and I’m tired of you hanging out with my FUCKING WIFE and I’m tired of you acting like it’s a kid, this is an animal, a farm animal’ and ‘please stay away from my family’ and all this and he takes the knife to the pig’s throat,” Levi said.
     “People eat pigs,” Cooper said.
     “I know Cooper, but not like this, this is all dramatic I mean people don’t come to Starbucks to see pigs slaughtered. They may come to obliquely support poor wages for farmers in other countries, but anyway, so like, where was I?”
     “He has the knife on the pig’s throat, people eat pigs, you know,” Cooper said.
     “Yeah, so the knife’s at the pig’s throat and the woman, the woman who owns the pig is like, don’t hurt the pig, don’t hurt the pig,’ just screaming hysterically. Well, by this time, the other woman, Marshall’s wife I guess, I mean remember she has a kid in a stroller, she comes up and her baby’s yelling and she walks up behind Marshall and just drapes her elbow around her neck, so now she’s holding him in a hold and he’s holding the pig around the neck.”
     “So many levels,” Cooper said.
     “Right, I know. Marshall’s like ‘let me go’ and his wife is like ‘don’t hurt the pig’ and then the other woman on the ground is like, ‘okay, okay, I know, just don’t hurt the pig, do whatever it is to me, I’ll take the pig’s place, just cut me, don’t hurt him.”
     “What,” Cooper said.
     “Yeah, and these two guys behind me, the one who was like ‘Jesus’ is like ‘aw shit’ and he’s kind of like a bodybuilder type, you know he’s wearing a black-and-white heavy t-shirt with these boots and dark pants, and this other guy is like in a suit, but is yeah this marathoner probably, you know like skinny person ripped. I’m thinking ‘am I joining with this guy?’ and the kid with the Falcons jersey is just like bawling his eyes out, finally his mom, who I think was completely stunned, just goes out the back.”
     “But anyway,” Cooper said.
     “So yeah, she’s like ‘do it to me, if you want to hurt the pig, do it to me,’ and Marshall says ‘really’ and she’s like ‘yes, God yes, just get it over with’ and Marshall does like this spin move and gets away from his wife. He grabs at the woman on the ground, she’s just kind of reposed, like exhausted from this whole ordeal, and he grabs her ankle and then kind of like flips the leg over to her calf.”
     “A leg man,” Cooper said. “But he—”
     “Totally does. He kneels down and the blade is like on her, and then finally the builder guy behind me is like ‘bullshit’ and bumrushes the door and the guy in the suit follows, the builder type like jumps Marshall from probably 15 feet away, I mean this guy had some ability and he tackles him, they roll into the tables, and the pig starts, well panicking.”
     “The pig yelps, probably, can pigs cry?” Cooper said.
     “Don’t think so, but it’s a mad scene. The woman gets cut when the bodybuilder tackles Marshall, and she’s rolling holding her leg and the pig just goes and Marshall is like ‘she told me to, she told me to’ and the woman jumps at the bodybuilder guy, but the suit man from inside is like holding her back and she yells ‘no please no let him cut me let him hurt me for the sacrifice for the pig’ and all this shit and Marshall is like ‘she told me to do it, she told me to cut her’ and Marshall’s wife with the kid is like kicking the bodybuilder and trying to step on his stomach, but there’s a crash, the tables get pushed over on the patio. Inside, the Starbucks people are yelling ‘everyone be quiet, everyone back up, everyone go out this other door.’” Levi took a breath.
     “What did you decide?” Cooper said.
     “I see the pig, he’s just running and he’s going to the parking lot, I think he’s just trying to make it back to his stroller, and I see this, right, I get out and go out the door, they’re wrestling on the patio, the cops are probably coming and I go running after the pig. The pig dives under a car, the orange Bentley actually—”
     “What,” Cooper said.
     “I know. And I’m on my back and the parking lot is wet, on the asphalt and I can feel my sweatshirt and jeans like tugging, I’m gonna rip something and I’m pounding on the pavement like ‘here piggy piggy here piggy piggy’ and I’m like ‘eff this’ but then I realize I’m standing next to an orange Bentley, I’ve never seen an orange Bentley before and I’m like ‘dubba u-tee-aych’ and I look in and get this, Cooper, the keys are in it.”
     “No joke, no joke. So I’m like ‘now is the time. Right. Now is the time. If I’m ever’ and I sit down and start it and the door is open and I’m looking out down the side and sure enough the pig like scrambles from underneath the car, but get this—”
     “The pig comes up and jumps in the car like he’s been there before. Like he’s totally comfortable in the orange Bentley and I’m thinking ‘uh-huh’ this pig, this blazer-pig fighter woman cutter Marshall they have like this thing going on and these women this is like—”
     “What do you do?” Cooper said.
     “Well, like I really want to just floor it you know and like hit the two cars in front of me, but then I was like that’ll suck, my computer is inside Starbucks and I don’t have a lot and Chloe will get really ticked if she has to bail me out, so I just honk the horn, like really lean on it, and you know everyone stops. The pig is curled up in the passenger seat, just like about to fall asleep. I point right at the man called Marshall and say ‘you—get your fucking pig and your car, before I crash this thing’ and then him and like the women they scramble over and the blazer man Marshall gets to me and I’m like ‘don’t you ever come to this godforsaken Starbucks again or bring your pig sham crew again’ and I’m just yelling and pointing.
     “Damn,” Cooper said. “You are very confident.”
     “Yeah, you know, that’s the difference between you and me,” Levi said. “Irrational confidence guy. Now though, they like take off and I just look back at the porch and everyone is just kind of standing there and I just say ‘alright’ and then everyone just kind of starts talking and that’s that.”
     “Did anyone say anything to you?” Cooper said.
     “I mean not much, I’m grabbing my computer and the bodybuilder guy comes over and is like ‘what was that shit?’ and I said ‘I’m not sure, I think it was staged, like a stunt’ and we talk about it for a second and he’s like ‘he cut that woman’ and I say ‘but she asked for it’ and he says ‘literally’ and we just leave.”
     “Whoa, that is unbelievable,” Cooper said.
     “I know, right,” Levi said. “Let’s just.” Levi did not finish his sentence. Levi took a deep breath. Cooper reached into the backseat. He grabbed a cookie from a Chips Ahoy package. Cooper ate the cookie. Levi belched, but neither of them knew why.
Josh Spilker is a copywriter and lives in Nashville. He is the founder of I AM ALT LIT, a literary review site. He has a novella. It was published by Kuboa Press. It is called Ambient Florida Position. Find him on twitter, @joshspilker.