:: Article

Tusks of Varaha

By Peter Clarke.

Dining alone in an Indian restaurant in London, ceremoniously consuming a steamy plate of curry mush, Harvey began sweating and picked up his napkin from off his lap, touching it to his forehead like petting a sacred good-luck moment of human dignity and sacred intuition.

Just then he conceived a dare for himself.

The proper way to put it looked cross-eyed back at him and winked. There it sat: the comic adjudicator from hell—the devil—with its fat gut and perfect whiskers and horns. Superintending pointless dares in Indian restaurants everywhere. Stewing after the pointless fallout. Utterly hysterical for more to come, for eternity.

Harvey deliberated. He was just drunk enough on beer to give a wink back. He did so and then emptied the remainder of his drink with a gulp.

“I dare myself to get a girl tonight. Or else go abstinent for a good solid pig’s lifetime.”

He grinned at his devil friend, the obese swine statue mounted upon a decorative table. Almost too much for all the clutter of the restaurant. Where hundreds of thousands of designs, pictures, and shapes dwelt enshrined in so many tapestries, trinkets, and figures.

“Monsieur,” Harvey called to the waiter appearing with a water pitcher. “Exactly how long do pigs live on average, would you say?”

“I’m sorry. What is your question?”

“The average lifespan of a pig. What is it?”

The man followed Harvey’s gesture toward the portly statue.

“I may not be understanding… That is Varaha, the boar. In Hindu, an avatar of the supreme god Vishnu.”

“Perfect!” cried Harvey, scoffing. “There’s my dignity. On the platter of a pig god.”

“Yes, sir. Varaha battled the demon Hiranyaksha who had taken the whole earth into the cosmic ocean. The battle lasted a thousand years. Varaha defeated Hiranyaksha and carried the earth away in victory between his mighty tusks.”

“Ah. And what are Varaha’s powers?”

The waiter thought a moment.

“Varaha is the symbol of the earth returning again. It is the story of a new cosmic cycle.”

Directing an ambiguous scowl at the pig, Harvey fell silent.

“More water, sir?” asked the waiter, clinking some ice cubes.

Peter Clarke is a recent law school graduate currently living in Sacrament, California. His short fiction has appeared in Pif Magazine, Curbside Splendor, Hobart, Elimae, Locus Novus, Denver Syntax, Orion Headless, Pure Francis, The Legendary, Zygote in My Coffee, and elsewhere.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013.