Hed Lines: Vegan Pagan saga continues with kiss if not tell

Editor's note: The following column contains the fourth episode in an imaginary saga about a clash of cultures in the small town of Pikerville, Utah.

In the last episode, which ran Sept.

4, cub reporter Dee Bunker encountered the leader of the Vegan Pagans unmasked in a thrift shop and agreed to meet with her at a java bar/health food store.

Flora told Bunker about a troubled childhood.

In today's episode, Bunker and Flora continue a conversation at the site of an abandoned slaughterhouse Thursday night.

Flora took umbrage when Dee Bunker, a reporter for the tri-weekly Pikerville Gazette-Advocate, questioned her about her belief system.

"Yes, Hitler was a vegetarian, but he did not speak for us," she said.

"We are a peaceful, nonviolent people."

"You're willing to break the law," Bunker retorted.

"You took a wood bull from the roof of a restaurant and are holding it hostage.

And now, you are blamed for disrupting the opening ceremony early today at the county fair."

Flora, whose real name is Gail Force, defended the tactics of her group and admitted that they released several animals in advance of the ceremony while posing as maintenance workers.

She then launched into a diatribe against her adversaries.

She said Herbie Vore, chairman of the livestock committee at the Piker County Fair, had hoof-and-mouth disease, but reserved the most vitriol for Piker County Sheriff Rick O'Shay.

"Sheriff O'Shay is a political animal who will stop at nothing to get elected to the statehouse," Flora said.

"He's on our tail, but we will continue to dodge his bullets."

Bunker changed the subject back to the opening ceremony at the county fair.

She talked about how she ruined her new dress when she slipped and fell on spilt punch while trying to take photos of the livestock rampage.

"To be honest, I derived perverse pleasure from the whole shebang, not just getting an unusual story," Bunker confided.

"Sally Bates, Miss Pikerville, fainted during the spectacle.

Here is this slim, blonde, 18-year-old girl lying on the ground inside the tent.

You should have seen the look on her face when she came to her senses as this big, ugly pig named Cochino came almost face to face with her.

"I took photos of her with my digital camera, and I was toying with the idea of a cute kicker to go with the photo," Bunker continued.

"I was thinking 'Love at First Sight,' 'Beauty and the Beast' or 'Never Been Kissed.' However, my editor, Ward Smith, decided not to use the photo because he though it was in poor taste."

"In pork taste," Flora quipped.

Both women laughed.

They noticed that it was getting late, and Flora drove Bunker back to her car, parked at the Green House java bar/health food store.

Before they said goodbye, Bunker pressed Flora on where the Vegan Pagans were holding Bully, the wood bull taken from the roof of the Piker Bull steakhouse.

"Bully's in good hands," Flora said

Bunker slept over her encounter with Flora, and decided to write a "reporter's notebook" column about her experience – instead of a story – for Sunday's newspaper after conferring with her boss.

The Vegan Pagans lay low for the remainder of the fair, which concluded Sunday.

The livestock auction on Saturday night drew record prices for grand champion and reserve animals: $4 per pound for pigs, $5 per pound for steers, $8 per pound for sheep, $200 per rabbit and poultry and $800 per goat.

The highlight occurred Sunday with the pig-kissing contest, a fund-raiser to send 4-H students to a convention in Fresno, Calif.

Participants paid $1 to kiss Cochino, and a panel of judges picked the winner.

The prize: dinner for two at the Piker Bull.

The event, appropriately, took place in the small Swine Auditorium.

Smith got jeered as he approached the 300-pound porker.

"Hey, Ward, your wife is going to get jealous," one spectator cracked.

Sally Bates, the beauty queen, was next.

She held her breath, closed her eyes, and planted a kiss on Cochino's lips.

She won the contest hands down.

However, Bates recently broke up with her boyfriend, and she did not know whom to ask to dinner.

"Never been kissed," Bunker thought.

To be continued …

Ken Hedler is the county government and political reporter for the Miner.