Playing “this little piggy” with presidential toes

Daniel Alarcon, whose “City of Clowns” appeared in the 2003 Debut Fiction issue of The New Yorker, has contributed a story entitled “The Anodyne Dreams of Various Imbeciles” to Konundrum Literary Engine Review. I’m still reading it, but here’s an excerpt:

How the amputated leg wound up in the possession of the subversives is not exactly clear. Perhaps someone had infiltrated the military hospital. Perhaps it wasn’t the President’s leg, but another unfortunate man’s leg. The masked subversives held an armed press conference in the remote Pacific Northwest beneath the high, green canopy of millenarian forests. The subversives presented the appendage. The gathered media was invited to touch it and photograph it from all angles. The subversives took off the leg’s shoes and socks, and played “This little piggy,” with the formerly Presidential toes. . . .

A week later, still tormented, the President ordered the doctor executed. The specialist, he concluded, was a sympathizer, an educated and frivolous European of the kind who were entertained by the spectacle of America’s decline. The doctor wept when he was informed of the President’s decision. His guards couldn’t wait to be done with him. In fact, he was so inconsolable that after a routine and uninspired beating (during which the specialist’s wailing grew almost unbearable) an impatient guard pulled out his weapon and shot the doctor dead, depriving the President the privilege of seeing the prisoner die. For this crime, the guard was also put to death.

Alarcon’s first short story collection, “War by Candlelight,” appears next year.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.