The Warthog Princess
Her wattle, spilling over an invisible collar, trembled as she laid a hand on the edge of a bin of bubble gum. Struggling to strike a royal pose, the warthog princess cast a significant glance into the bin.
"If someone just took one of these to chew," she grunted, "would that be stealing?" I understood the words but all I really heard were snorts and the slop of mud.
Her question fell to the floor, like a pork carcass that slipped off a meat hook, and slapped the damp slaughterhouse floor. Her eyes widened flashing the international-gossip-whore-signal for "right behind me." I looked over her shoulder to see a family walking the other direction. Mom, Dad and a little girl ... chewing gum.
I shrugged and smiled in the noncommittal way of polite society. The family was different. Even in my head, the warthog whispered "different;" one of those words, like "cancer" or "unwed," that grandmothers would rather not say out loud. The warthog's clothes, and the gaudy jewelry, probably cost more than the happy family spent on food for the month.
A weary sadness welled up in my gut. It had flashed as anger but faded just as quickly to a jaded fatigue. In the 21st Century, are we still divvying up us's and them's? I turned and walked away. I couldn't decide whether to bitch slap the old hag, or just sit down and cry. Maybe I'd give the family an unexplained apology. The maliferous, odiferous, nasty bitch would think nothing of popping a cherry or a green grape through her tusks without paying. Yet somehow, she feels superior to someone else primarily because of her lack of epidermal melanin. She probably dyes her hair too.