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The Escort

The days were getting much shorter. The Sun barely made himself known, bouncing for just a moment off the corn snow then charging back into the clouds. Much like a young boy at play.

He had walked only a mile or two when his aged body surrendered to thirsts’ demands. The small creek was only a short walk through Willow Draw, in summer a botanical delight, full of ferns and large leafed plants that even in then appear to have been lost on a journey somewhere tropical. They were nowhere to be seen on this cold, faint day. He reached the spot, overcome by winter’s blanket of drifted snow, pocked by an occasional cottonwood branch or a gob of leaves welded together by soil, shadows and wet.

Many elk have moved through here he thought as he came on to a set of singular tracks headed away from the water across a jagged rock slide and up to a sunny ledge. Mountain lion. He looked around instinctually, hunching his shoulders a bit, searching the cliffs above. The hair on his neck bristled and stood up at attention. Listening for a fallen boulder or crunching snow. The tracks were fresh. He knew that. The people of the Shining Mountains would all know that. The cat was near.

The irony of death. Once a great chief, now walking alone to the wilderness of another place, the next level of life. A destination long ago written into the story. Honor. The old man had asked for company, maybe even in the form of this panther, who may very well be hungry enough for this old Ute.

He sat and rested for a moment, remembering the days that he had run through these woods in pursuit of game or to elude his friends in the games of the warriors. He felt his heart pounding away in his chest like that monster on the steel rails that he had once seen near the Great River. Again the thirst was getting the best of him. He arose and picked his way through the shale and up onto a flat spot above the stream. Just as he began his descent he saw the cat, alert, standing vigil on a outcropping fifty feet above timberline. The animal had seen him and watched with the intensity common to these creatures. Was he hunting?

White Goat had been named by his mother some 46 years ago. She had watched mountain goat and bighorn sheep traverse these mountains with uncanny skill, hanging off ledges, scampering up morsels of rock, disappearing from predators through metamorphic pyramids. The creatures were in complete harmony with their world, natural and at peace for the short stay. She wanted her son to be like the animals. Some ten years passed before they saw their first White man. It was then that they knew the old ways would soon disappear.

He wished he still possessed the agility of a warrior as he stumbled through mangled aspen, battered by boulders spat out with the scowl of some ancient avalanche. Among these pathetic stumps sprouted new branches, not knowing what else to do but grow tall in the face of their smothered predicament. He reached the water and drank. Satisfaction short lived, his eyes scanned the ledge above but the cat was gone.

Perhaps he is stalking me from a hiding place in the pines, thought White Goat. But there is plenty of other, more appetizing game about. Why would the lion want an old man? Bones and a little hair are all that’s left of me. Not much of a meal for a mighty panther. I am only a minor player in my own death. I must deliver my spirit and I am tired.

The old man stretched out under some aspen trees in a glen that would be full of water in the spring. It was frozen now with icicles dangled like dripping daggers all about the alpine thicket. He wrapped himself in his blanket and fell asleep dreaming of the bright simple world of his father, Red Buck, and the dark, blue-eyed future in store for his beloved children. Tears accompanied him to sleep.

During the night he heard something moving in the woods. A younger man would have investigated the intrusion. But White Goat just rolled over away from it, exposing his back to whatever it may have been. He was on his final journey. No reason to fight it. Maybe it would be concluded there.

In the morning he awoke refreshed in a way that had eluded him for many years. He felt that he would make it a long way before the next night fell. He peered through the forest, down the stream and up into the high mountains. There was the lion once again, eyes fixed on him. The animal did not snarl, nor did it move for a few moments. Then it turned in one swift motion and bounded upward and out of sight.

Although not entirely certain why, White Goat followed climbing effortlessly up the steep path, over snowfields and into the open. He got a whiff of the cat, still ahead of him. It stopped and looked back, then hid from the old man’s gaze. If he fails to catch his intended prey he might circle back and jump me from the rear, thought White Goat. He looked around the silent domes, his name condemned to the dance card of this feline predator. White Goat took refuge in a small cave knowing feeble attempts to hide from the beast would be fruitless.

He was growing hungry but there would be great feasts where he was bound. The cat was nowhere to be seen and he resumed his trek. His path took him down through heavily wooded banks that he once embraced as redoubt from the angry Comanche after Ute raiding parties picked the plains dwellers clean. Horses and slaves. Further on would be the great park where he had traded with the Apache and the Arapaho during rendezvous. To the east were the boot-black smokestacks of the whites.

The west hosts the plateaus of the Paiutes, the Wasatch Mountains and later the Shoshone and Bannock. As a young chief he had traveled to the Salt Lake for a great pow wow with these tribes. He had seen Crow and Nez Perce. All sought refuge against the whites, their mines and railroads but the wise ones knew it would not be.

The lion appeared again standing softly in a small clearing near the approach to a tight valley. It had once been summer’s lush, green bottomland. Now it was suspended in frozen sleep. The cat was preening itself contentedly. Then it was gone again.

What a lovely valley this has always been, thought White Goat even though the game is far below and the weather quite severe up this high. He walked to the tree line where he could view the silver mountains. Then he sat down. There was the lion perched, only yards away watching. The trip had exhausted him and he reclined on one elbow, his breathing was heavier, more desperate. He realized he would never sit back up again. Pulling in the thin air became an impossible effort. His eyes closed. The wind picked up. His spirit passed and the beast went back down the mountain, another soul safely home.

– Kevin Haley

THOR, ODIN IN TOWN TO UNDRESS WIND, DROP LINE

(Gunnison) Norse gods, Thor and Odin, were in town over the weekend as guests of the local volunteer fire department. While visiting they are expected to bring much needed relief from seasonably high winds, which threaten to drive the population here to the brink of insanity.

“Thor is the god of thunder,” said one fireman, “so we figured he might have some pull with the wind. He’s also quite a fisherman.”

In honor of the visit, the department, at the request of both gods, will run its sirens at increased intervals all weekend.

Odin, the supreme deity, whose accolades include a sketchy creator of the cosmos and man, god of wisdom, art, war, culture and the dead, will also be on hand. It is hoped that he can calm the wind to lessen the chances of brush fires and wind-driven madness on the part of livestock.

Sometime during the sojourn the two will be joined by the often rambunctious Neptune, who is hauling his ponga boat, Valhalla, up from Colorado Springs. Joining the trio as premier bush pilot/fishing guide will be the late Don Woodbury, who many surmise has already reached minor deity status in the Great Beyond.

Polyester Blamed in Brain Deterioration

(Detroit, MI  Fabric of Life 2026  October, 2017)

Motown scientists say they have linked the use of polyester to mental dysfunction and the loss of brain cells. Teams of dermatologists from the Detroit Free Garment District and Cotton Gentrification Tribunal are convinced that the fabric should be outlawed before the Congress disbands in 2022. The research facility, badly damaged during Romanian air strikes in 2020, has tested over 7000 article of clothing from stretch pants to dress shirts.

“The purveyors of these fashion horrors should be banned from the industry and jailed,” quacked Miracle Miles, of the DFGD. “Their chemical clothing must be banned from our racks.”

The issue here appears related to the breathing capacity of polyester and the effect on the brain. For decades scientists have known the oxygen deprivation can be deadly. Now mounds of data show that persons who wear cotton are healthier and people who don the poly are at extreme risk.

In over 40,000 test cases conducted at the revamped Chrysler Assembly Plant here, deterioration was quite evident in every participant. Veteran workers, with a longer exposure quotient, were found to have suffered permanent damage beyond even the most radical rehabilitation techniques.

“This is bunk,” said one union steward. “These folks have been turned into vegetables because of the mindless, repetitive, and yes tedious work that they perform eight hours a day. We should not be surprised to see the level of unhappiness increasing in a society where people must sell their soul to feed their families.”

Many of the subjects, who have been wearing polyester since childhood, showed up for the first session with rashes and skin irritations thought to be related to constant exposure to inferior attire.

Congress, on an extended, non-perk vacation since 2018, is expected to return to Washington, when the water recedes, and then on to the Capitol for high-level talks on the matter

Congress Votes to End Spoils System

The United States Senate today voted overwhelmingly to terminate lavish health care and bloated lifetime pensions for elected Representatives in House. In addition it set limits on financial transactions involving pork barrels, lobbyists and super pacts.

Not to be outdone, the House countered with ban on such luxury entitlements as daily limo use, lobbyist luncheons and introduces fines for chronic absenteeism. The body then followed suit, banning brahman health coverage and pensions for its colleagues in the senate.

The projected savings are estimated to be in the low billions. Although the destination of these newly generated funds was not clear it is likely the money will not filter down to struggling taxpayers or help purchase health care for the needy.

“We certainly don’t want these recovered funds to end up in the wrong hands,” said one senator, with a dismissive wink.

The legislative branch contends that, after administrative costs are subtracted, the sum be deposited into a secret Swiss cheese account where it will be safe and soon forgotten by the great unwashed. The rest of the savings will most likely be invested in the schlock market or spent buying lottery tickets in drafty constituent districts from Oregon to Alabama.

Officials who sit in Congress had been recipients of A-1 lifetime health coverage and a hefty lifetime pension even though most are already rich beyond the dreams of the common man. They have achieved the status of royalty, perched in the catbird seat, a roost inaccessible to their fellow citizens.

The lawmakers were so busy pointing the finger, jockeying for position and covering their posteriors that they did not have time to undress campaign parameters, North Korea nukes, immigration, tax reform, national health care, Afghanistan,  and our crumbling domestic infrastructure.

– Tommy Middlefinger

Going once…going twice…

You wanna see he fall colors up high? Better do it today.

Policy Toward China Based on Take-Out Menu

Fork or Chopsticks?

(Washington) The State Department today admitted that its official procedure for dealing with Mainland China from 1949 to 2017 has been based on an extensive Mandarin/Hunan take-out menu.

The 20-page menu, written entirely in Oriental dialects, was secured by CIA agents from the popular Golden Dragon Restaurant in Georgetown, just prior to the Korean Conflict. Defectors from the infant Maoist regime translated most of it at that time and recommended the garlic prawns with snow peas. Although Cold Warriors were convinced the items were displayed in code, time has proven that theory wrong.

“It was a simple Chinese menu…No substitutions, egg rolls extra,” said Fred Chow Mein, a former espionage officer, now employed as a lobbyist for Taiwan. “How anyone could have read more into this is insane.”

The original proprietors of the Golden Dragon, also named Mein, were deported during the McCarthy Era and the entire eatery was turned into a Wisconsin bratwurst joint. Then in 1954, with the fall of Joe McCarthy and the rise of ethnic appetites, the restaurant was reopened by a syndicate headed by Edward R. Morrow. It instantly became a hangout for journalists. The Mein family was brought back from Toronto and owns/operates the cafe today.

A State Department spokesman told reporters that, given the paranoia prevalent in the country at the time, it was quite feasible for the government to take the wrong path regarding diplomacy.

“Imagine the confusing messages sent to the Red Chinese about crisp Peking Duck alone,” she said. “I especially like the part where Douglas MacArthur threatens to cross the Egg Drop River with a fleet of amphibious wontons in 1951.”

– Susie Compost