Timothy Rodriguez: Deputy Carson Tinnin, summer of 1983 : Fiction : July 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I read that you folks originated in Pamlico. I used to work for the Sun Journal in New Bern. That was back in the days when daily newspapers were healthy. This story is one of a 100 that focuses on the city of Greensburg and Dinwoodie County, which is modeled after southern Alamance County where I lived for 25 years. Deputy Tinnin is a recurring character. I hope you enjoy the story.

Deputy Carson Tinnin, summer of 1983

Dinwoodie County

Year in and year out judges at the county fair declared Leland Jackson’s silver queen corn to be the sweetest in Dinwoodie County. So it was no wonder that a horde of starving pot-bellied pigs made straight for it.

Until the rampage, the drowsy community of Random never strayed far from the quotidian practices of farming. Its hub was an intersection, governed by flashing yellow light. On one corner was the Store, and across from it a post office. Not far down the road was a Quonset hut garage where Shine Walker made a few auto repairs and a lot of liquor.

The morning of the madness found Carson Tinnin, the deputy who patrolled Random, in the midst of his second mid-morning snack. It was one of six or seven repasts he had each day to sustain his 247-pound girth. He was parked at the Store, leaning against the trunk of his cruiser. He munched on a moon pie and sipped an RC. He paused in mid-chew when he saw something odd. The brake lights of a sedan heading east on Garner Road shone just after passing Shine Walker’s garage. The vehicle slowed but didn’t come to a complete stop. Tinnin returned to his goodie, writing the incident off to a combine puttering down the road.

Just as he was finishing his drink, he saw a second vehicle apply its brakes. This time the car came to a stop. He went inside with the empty bottle to collect the nickel deposit from Shufflin’ Sam, the store’s proprietor.

Back in the patrol car he decided to see what had caused the cars to brake, fully expecting to find something as mundane as Leland on his tractor with a bush hog rattling behind it. There had been times in Tinnin’s life when he felt he was more than right; he was righter. This was not one of them. This morning Tinnin was not wrong; he was wronger.

Traffic was backed up in both directions on Garner Road where it intersected with McKenney. Since the westbound lane was open, Tinnin turned his siren on whoop and sped down to the bottom of the hill. There he saw what caused the backup: a drove of pigs.

Parking on McKenney, the deputy got out of the car, sauntered to the middle of the intersection where he hooked his thumbs into his duty belt and stared in amazement as the little critters ambled past him. They seemed a happy bunch, wagging their tails and waddling their hind quarters and squealing with delight. It was no wonder, for they entered Leland’s five-acre field of silver queen.

Because he lost sight of them among the stalks, Tinnin reasoned that they were eating the cornfield from the inside out. The deputy marched into the intersection and looked back at where the pigs had come from. There was a ten-yard, in some places twenty-yard, swath where the pigs had rooted up the pasture. Until a driver honked, Tinnin stood there, mouth agape. Assured no more pigs intended to cross, he signaled for both lanes of traffic to proceed.

On his way back to the car, he rehearsed the report he had to send to dispatch: a merry band of pot-bellied pigs were ravaging Leland’s prized corn. That the invaders were pot-bellied led him to believe something bad had happened to Carter Cuthrell, the only farmer in Random who kept such swine. As best as Tinnin could recollect, Carter raised as many as 150. His farm was about a mile south.

Anxious as he was to get to the Cuthrell homestead, he still had to make his report. He called the Rock, code name for the sheriff’s headquarters, saying he needed animal control.

When asked what the problem was, he said, “We got some pigs on the loose.”

“10-4, 34. I’ll contact control.”

Although it was only a few minutes, his wait seemed interminable.

“34, be advised that control doesn’t handle farm animals, especially pigs.”

“But these are little pigs, pot-bellied pigs. ‘Bout 100, 150 pounds, tops.”

“10-4, 34. I’ll advise.”

This time the wait was less than a minute.

“34, control says pigs is pigs.”

Tinnin shouted back, “Well, who do I call? They’re about 100 of these things on the loose.”

“10-4, 34. I’ll ask the lieutenant.”