The SUV started smoking from the engine first, but then I felt the heat and smelled the flames from beneath. The sparks had set fire to the oils beneath the car. The wheel rims were also getting off kilter and the car was wobbling. The car wasn’t going much faster than a walk now, and the pigs were sprinting ahead in their excitement and then circling back.
It wouldn’t be long now. All I’d accomplished by my gambit was to get farther away from shelter.
I stopped the car. I had to do something. It was either burn to death or be eaten by pigs, and I wasn’t sure which was worse.
I guess panic will decide, I thought, in those last moments of life.
No, fuck that. I wasn’t through. I looked out the back window. The trailer carrying the motorcycle had four feet high walls and was two feet from the ground. A good six feet, altogether. I doubted a pig could jump that high. The sides had wide slates, but they were metal, and it looked to me like the animals probably wouldn’t be able to do much more than push their snouts into the gaps.
If I could climb back there, I’d be in a cage, but at least I’d be away from the fire. I opened the glove box, praying there was a glass punch. There it was, a little screwdriver shaped tool. I turned around and pushed the punch against the back window. It shattered.
The javelinas went crazy when I poked his head out. The gap between the head of the trailer and the SUV was wide enough that the pigs could get a feet and a half in, on either side.
But I realized there was a two-foot wide part in the middle where they couldn’t get to me.
Never had I regretted my two-hundred pound body more than now. But…well the weight was actually pretty well distributed. So I’d always told myself, and now it was being put to the test. No doubt, I’d lost a good ten or fifteen pounds over the last few days. Which just reminded me how hungry and thirsty I was.
The heat was getting uncomfortable. There was nothing for it but to try. I squirmed my way out, barely able to squeeze through the window. In my wiggling, I was moving from size to size, and I felt a nip on one arm, and then the other. One of the pigs got a good grip on my shirt and started pulling me out of the safe zone. I held on tight to the frame of the trailer, and the shirt ripped before I my grip broke.
I made it the rest of the way and tumbled headfirst into the trailer.
The bike was in the exact middle, and the safest place for me quickly proved to be sitting on the actual seat.
The fire in the car was really taking off now, sending sputtering oils into the air, landing and burning through my shirt and trousers. I’d saved myself a few minutes at best.
I looked down at my hands. I still had the keys gripped tightly against my palms, so tightly that there was a white imprint. There were two keys, I realized. One of them smaller than the other.
Jesus, when was the last time I drove a motorcycle?
Here’s where I got really lucky. I mean, I knew I was lucky all along, but this was the thing that really saved me. The bike rack was such that the wheels were off the ground. When I found the ignition switch, the wheels turned freely. I experimented with clutch and the handle grips, and it all came back to me. I was pretty sure I could do it.
I unsnapped the bike from the rack. I had to turn the bike around, and I levered it on its rear tire and managed to maneuver it so it was facing the back. All that separated me from the road was a single latch in the middle of the back of the trailer.
I revved the engine. I was reaching over for the latch, when I saw the leader of the javelinas come trotted from the side, grunted what sounded like orders. The pigs massed behind the gate, and I realized I’d land right in the middle of them.
It was only going to get worse, I realized. I sprung the latch and shot out of the trailer, flying over most of the assembled animals, and landing on the backs of a couple more, and then I was on the asphalt and flying away.
I heard whooping and hollering and realized it was me.
It was the most exciting moment of my life.