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More “Ain’t No Tommyknockers”

continued from a past embrace

and that’s when they made that final, inevitable stand…right there at the north end of the bar.

“I’ll not be movin’ to accommodate some damn mole of a fairy,” said Seamus, landing one in an unassuming spittoon. “Besides, I have claimed this bar room in the good name of Daniel O’Connell, the uncrowned King of Ireland.”

To the amazement of many in town, Seamus also claimed to be a leprechaun.

And that, according to local liars and their henchmen, is how the whole mess escalated. The folks up Catholic Hill felt obliged to support the chatty little person in green. After all, who had kept the banshee at bay and repaired the shoes of their little children?

“It’s that damn Seamus again, tattled the town drunk, Michael Finnegan, a non-practicing Presbyterian. “They’ll be a fracas if he isn’t stopped.”

The new town marshal, Jim Clark, whose mother hailed from County Wicklow, told Seamus to shut up and go home.

And where was that Dempsey kid tonight?” quipped the leprechaun. “Jack Dempsey at 20 has already had several professional fights on the East Coast. He had recently returned to Telluride for a break from the ring. Right now he was walking through the bar room door as Seamus kept right on talking and sipping from the shots that had been bought for him by the much entertained patrons.

“He’d better stay clear of my bar,” he menaced, “or I’ll bloody his nose for him.”

Then he turned around face-to-face with the boxer.

“Jack, my darlin’ squeaked the wormy Seamus from behind his flood of alcohol. “Come and take a drink with me. Were taking the town back from the Tommyknockers. I was just now speaking of you…”

Leprechauns have been known to protect humans that they like, while causing problems for those that they did not appreciate. Dempsey, having been brought up with the slooa shee, albeit with Mormon influence, was well aware of the power that lurked within the dwarfish stature.

“I’ll pass on drinking dirty dish water with you,” said Dempsey figuring Seamus’ tastes had not improved since the last time the two had locked eyes.

“Oh you’re not drinking whiskey? Buy my friend a lager,” he said to the bartender. “I’ll be running things around here soon and I’d like your blessing. When we rid ourselves of the Tommyknockers the deenee shee can once again go about their sacred business of saving civilization without interference.”

Both of them now took a pull on their drinks, made comments about the dust and the hard work, and then Seamus spoke up.

“So I guess what I’m asking, Jack, is are you for us or against us? We need you with us to pull this off. Otherwise,” he winked in the direction of the men at the bar, “we’re gonna have to rough you up. Now you don’t want to mess up those Sunday go to meetin’ duds you so fondly

– Dermott McGinty

Continued out back come spring

Highway 50 Toll Road Opens Today

(Montrose) Motorists will now pay a minimal fee for the right to operate their vehicles on Highway 50 from Monarch Pass to Grand Junction according to a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Transcendental Mobility and Gravitational Dimensions.

The fee, larger than a bread box, but smaller than the national debt, will be levied based on weight, distance traveled and attitude. Tips are appreciated.

Heavier vehicles, especially tractor-trailers that already pay considerable road tax, will be charged slightly higher than say, tin yupster four-wheel-drive transports and microbuses.

“We don’t like to let this kind of cat out of the bag since people might think we’re all sitting around on our asphalt,” said Princess Irm Peawit, whose father Reginald Peawit was recognized as King of the Highway during a stint as Detector of Roads and Bridges during the Eisenhower years.

“After all, I just sort of inherited this job and, well, I wouldn’t want people to think I’m taking my responsibilities lightly. Hell, I might want to run for governor or even dog catcher down the primrose path,” she stressed.

Peawit went on to explain that the toll concept actually saves taxpayers a bundle since it negates overtime paid out to idle billboard stretchers, perplexed tattoo artists and semi-retired blacktop consultants. She refused to retrace the horizontal math employed in the decision making process but hinted that it was “a no-brainer” to decide what color to paint the lines on the highways.

“People who complain about the toll or react in what is perceived as a hostile manner will be charged more and in some cases held up for hours,” said Peawit.

“All of our toll engineers are equipped with an assortment of stun-guns and two-way radios. We realize this charge is inconvenient for most motorists but one has to understand that poor highway maintenance still costs money.”

When asked what her department has done with tax revenues earmarked for roads, Peawit referred to the notes written on her arm and said, “We have been informed that those funds will be used to build stadiums for wealthy sports franchises over in Denver.”

Bighorns on Highway 50 near Blue Mesa. Will they too pay tolls this winter?

Coincidentally the toll road opens just prior to the expected annexation of Parlin by Gunnison and the arrival of tourist ski season.

“We have to keep up with corn prices,” said Peawit who echoed projections that the city of Montrose will be twice the size of Denver by the year 2026. The nearby hamlet of Colona has billed itself as The New LA by 2030.

“Hard to believe, isn’t it,” she quipped, distancing herself from the frightening projections.

In a related piece, sources are mum with regards to a rumor that the Colorado House has approved a transaction that would send Colorado water to California in return for an extended culture package.

– Uncle Pahgre

“In Kentucky and Tennessee settles were thrown from their beds and heard timbers of their cabins wretch apart and watched the bricks crumble into heaps of debris masked in choking clouds of dust. Bridges snapped and tumbled into rivers and creeks. Glass shattered, fences and bars collapsed and fires broke out. Steep ravines and cliffs slipped filling accompanying chasms, and the country was blanketed with a deafening roar. Such was the great sign of Tecumseh.”

– from The Frontiersmen by Alan W. Eckert

“Dancing With Stars” Pairs Evil Despots

(Hollyrock) A troupe of the world’s most evil dictators will pair up for the finale of “Dancing with the Stars” next Monday night according to a network source. In addition to what many see as positive exposure on American television, the leaders of eight selected nations will compete for a spot on the prestigious, albeit expanding, Axis of Evil.

The original host of the extravaganza, Donald Trump, had to be replaced at the eleventh hour by a bowl of knock-off Russian caviar since he is busy playing President of the United States.

A creation of the Bush Administration, the Axis of Evil initially included such carefully choreographed acts as North Korea and Iran but ignored the evil ballroom accomplishments of such stalwarts as Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and China.

The eight tyrant couples that will compete in Monday night’s presentation include Omar Hassan Al-Bashir (Sudan) with Robert Mugabe (ex-Zimbabwe); Mahmoud Ackmadinejad (Iran) with Hu Jintao (China); Isayas Afeweki (Eritrea) with Than Shwe (Myanmar) and Kim Jong-un II (North Korea) with King Abdullah (ex-Saudi Arabia). Alternates (stand-ins) include deceased tyrants Muammar al-Quaddafi (Libya) and Hugo Chavez (Venezuela).

At the time of the selections there were no women tyrants in charge of entire nations, although some Argentines would argue the point.

Each team was hand chosen based on common traits and long-range goals. For example, human rights abuses are rampant in Iran and China while women are treated like livestock in North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

“We wanted the dancing couples to be in sync and have something to talk about during breaks in the action,” said dance floor supervisor Juanita Stalini. “Each will be outfitted with sophisticated translation devices that will allow for easy exchange of information. Heck,” she offered, “maybe the performers can pick up a few good totalitarian tips while waltzing around in front of the TV cameras.”

When asked why Dick “Dick” Cheney was not included in the roster Stalini did not comment. Viewers from the international audience had nominated the former vice president 3 – 1 in last month’s mail in ballot. Hollyrock insiders say negotiations broke down: Cheney’s interest quickly diminished when it became clear that performers would be executing dance steps sans compensation.

However, government pension millionaire Cheney will appear as a special guest. Although Cheney, like Bush was not technically a dictator as such he certainly exhibited designs toward that status. Cheney will reportedly interpret Wagner’s sunny opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg where he will perform a snappy tap dance rendition and later join the entire troupe for the popular connect-the-dot two-step “She’s Too Fat for Me” polka to close the show.

Many of the participants see the television program as a chance to present themselves in a happy arena and to make points with the enthusiastic viewing public.

“Far too often dictators are perceived as stogie thugs who don’t take the time to smell the roses,” said Stalini. “We hope that the show helps to dispel hurtful stereotypes like these.”

This is the first time a reality show has been picked as a venue to determine the coveted Axis of Evil membership.

– Small Mouth Bess


“They got ‘em a car on time

and a brand new flat screen TV

While the rich keep telling them

“You’re free! You’re free! You’re free!

– from The Song of the Western Eunoch


The crisp mischief of autumn’s dawn sneered through the gap in Judge Kienast’s cabin door alerting even his fire engine red longhandles, a summons to sacred service. He had just arrived mid-week and was very much taken by the beauty of Lake City. Winter would be only a leg stretch away. The quakies were already dressed in gold harvest gowns and snow-white cummerbunds. The very rock that is the San Juan shivered in the faint morning shadows.

“Today is the day I have to deal with those pain-in-the-ass preachers,” mused the innocuous magistrate, who had only a month ago been appointed state circuit judge by Colorado’s first governor, John L. Routt. With the end a bloody Civil War and the scapegoat impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, statehood had come to the former territory and political appointments flourished. Captain Edward Kienast had proven himself  a worthy soldier during the Battle of Beecher Island in 1868, and with the aid of financier David Halliday Moffat, completed law school at the University of Denver in 1877.

Now, only a year later, in 1878 BT (before Texans) and with accused cannibal Alferd Packer still at large, Kienast occupied the bench in Lake City, the town that had sprung up amid precious veins of gold and silver, in the company of ruffians and the righteous.

A little healthy competition for souls is one thing,” he said to himself as he vacated the cabin, “but these Congregationalists and Methodists are about to come to blows. I was sent here to hang horse thieves and terminate gun fighting, not mollycoddle men of the cloth and their respective frontier flocks.”

Lake City looks harmless enough, a least in the daylight.

As Kienast entered his chambers from the back there was a pounding on the front door. It was Jethro Black, a former Confederate cavalryman who, ironically enough teamed with fellow deputy Chris Simmons, a Union artillery officer as the muscle intended to enforce Kienast’s law in the mining district.

     “Judge, you’d better get over to the jail,” said Black upon entering the office. Chris has them two preachers in tow. They’re threatening to shoot each other!”

On his way to the subterranean calaboose Judge Kienast reviewed the running feud that had began over the summer and had reached epidemic proportions by fall: Congregationalists, resenting the upstart Methodist contingent that had threatened the spiritual monopoly here, had accused the Methodist minister Rev. Edman of consorting with a lady of the evening. Actually the allegations were the result of a single conversation observed by three of the community’s faithful on a June night in front of the Nellie Creek Saloon. Rumors began to fly which now placed Rev. Edman in an assortment of sinful spots including poker tables, breweries and, if that don’t beat all…The Gilded Lilly, the town’s most boisterous brothel.

“Did you hear about that Methodist preacher?” asked Wilma Fry as she mindlessly slung laundry all over on Silver Street. “

“Yes, and I understand he’s confessed his wayward sins in a sermon last Sunday,” chirped Mary Walker, a neighbor. “I’m sure glad our Congregationalist minister, Rev. Kirby has remains among the righteous. Why Bill Chivers told my husband that he saw Rev. Edman coming out of that bawdy house yesterday evening right before the evening services. Oh my…”

Rev. Kirby was to be the next victim of idle chatter. Whether by coincidence or design the bristled word on the street soon turned to the immoral Congregationalist minister.

“That Rev. Kirby has always been a bit strange,” said Veronica Story, lead tenor in the Methodist choir. “Ever notice how he won’t look you in the eye?”

“I hear he was run out of town back east,” quacked Ted Adamson, the local livery operator, also a Methodist. “The word is that he had a thing for a saloon hall girl.

When Kienast arrived at the jail he was surrounded by an unholy mob. They were clambering for the release of their designated shepherds, threatening Black and Simmons if the current drama went otherwise. Outside the pious circle stood miners, horse thieves, storekeepers, muleskinners, cowboys, Utes, bankers, gamblers and medicine wagon barkers. All watched intently as this appeared to be the best entertainment the town had seen since Eddie McGinty blasted his foot off last Christmas.

Passing quietly through the doorway Kienast suddenly lit into Rev. Edman, who was being held in a small cell at the far end of the jail from his counterpart.

“What do you mean you’re going to shoot Rev. Kirby! Don’t you read your own book? Remember Thou shalt not kill or did you miss that part when you were cleaning your gun?” quipped Kienast. “What kind of example are you setting for your flock! Don’t you know they’re impressionable? Now I’m going to speak to Rev. Kirby. When I get back I expect some answers.”

Then Judge Kienast, rolling his eyes in restrained amusement, wandered down to the other end of the hall to his other guest Rev. Kirby, who was about to do battle with a fried chicken compliments of his frightened daughter.

“Don’t you take a bite!” hollered Kienast. “How dare you threaten a fellow man of the cloth and worry your own kin like that! Have you lost your mind, man? I ought to send the pair of you to the territorial prison and let you rot until the new state prison is built. That should be about ten years. How’d you like that!”

Kienast told both Edman and Kirby to get wash up, put on their boots and meet him in his office. He made sure Black and Simmons were on hand. In no time the five men sat behind closed doors, Edman and Kirby fidgeting, exchanging an occasional hostile glare.

“An eye for an eye and…” started Kirby who was met with a strong rebuttal from Edman, who called his fellow Christian “a lowly, Philistine coward”

Suddenly the two were on their feet exchanging threats, calling on all that’s holy to intercede on their behalf. Black sat them down hard on the wooden stools.

“Enough!” cried Kienast who had now run short of patience. “I was sent here to break up gunfights and bust claim jumpers, not referee a spat between preachers!”

“I challenge you to a duel, an affair d’ honneur,” spouted Kirby.

“I accept, you charlatan, you lying snake,” snarled Edman.

“I’ll have you both in gags and leg irons if I do not have quiet in my chambers,” bellowed Kienast.

After several guarded outbursts and a bold reiteration of the six-gun challenge all fell peaceful on that beautiful September afternoon. Kienast rolled out his patchwork soliloquy.

“I arrive in the San Juan to keep the peace, to punish the lawless, to protect the innocent and what do I find? Two preachers doing their best to shoot each other in the middle of the street. What to do?” he began. “Although I might be tempted to let these windbags face off at twenty paces I don’t think that would serve the public good. I could banish them from town or send them off on a chain gang up in Wyoming, but then who would give the sermon next Sunday. I just don’t know…”

Then like a pail of scalding water hitting a lukewarm Saturday night bath he came to an abrupt stop, absorbed in his thoughts. He looked back and forth at Kirby and Edman.

“One things for certain, gentlemen. I will not allow you to shoot one another,” he smiled. “It is clear that we have a problem here that won’t go away so I suggest a less dangerous competition. Take a look at the way the heathen Utes do it. They settle disputes without violence.

I am not here to decide if moral codes have been breached. I don’t care who you spend your time with. I don’t care where you go. I don’t care why, when, how or what, unless you break the law. Now both of you go home and stay there. We will meet back here in the morning and settle this matter peacefully and for good.

Both preachers shuffled out into the sunshine, straightening up their stance as they came into view of their supporters. Each performed a victorious strut, wielding the terrible swift sword at the windmills of evil and degradation. Lots of talk but no shooting.

The site of the first proposed affair de honneur outside the town of Lake City where the two antagonists could face off and settle their place in the pecking order with serious spiritual ambiguities.

     At the meeting the next morning Kienast thought he detected a sigh of relief when he forbade a duel.

Although neither preacher budged on charges of defamation, accusation and palpitation, the talk of gunplay had subsided. When asked for a solution to the problem at hand neither offered much, choosing to mumble away, eyes downcast, hands in lap. Kienast took the floor.

     “In light of your decision, I hereby decree that it is agreed that there will be no gun fighting but further suggest that, in order to save face, the matter be settled in a more civilized manner,” said Kienast. “In a sincere attempt to put this matter to rest in earnest I will suggest some options.”

The judge then laid out an assortment of contests designed to take the wind out of the ecclesiastic rivals. Included on that brutal roster was Indian wrestling, horse racing, bale hurling, archery, whiskey swilling, log rolling, card cutting, yodeling, tree climbing, a swimming contest at Devil’s Lake, hole digging, wood chopping, hand mucking, mule driving, flower arranging and even a tobacco spitting contest.

Quickly the two parsons agreed that the whiskey and cards could not be considered. Most of the athletic contests would be seen as giving aid and comfort to the enemy by hawks in both congregations. The wood chopping and hand mucking were not dramatic enough and the mule driving too much like teaching Sunday school. Both liked the biblical reference to casting the first stone.

“Then it’s settled,” stormed Kienast. “Rocks at thirty paces. Parsons, choose thy weapons. It’s a far cry better than slapping each other up side the head with the good book and sure beats bleeding to death in the middle of the street. Just come out throwing. No biting. No kicking. No below the belt baptisms of ore. There’s plenty of amo all over the place. You can just pick it off the ground.

Kienast then turned to Black and whispered, “And with any luck at all neither will be able to hit the broad side of a barn.”

Word of what was to become Great Western (and much heralded) Henson Creek Rock Throwing Ox Bow Incident and Chili Cookoff was greeted with much confusion by the assemblage outside. Later that night each preacher gathered his flock around him and told his side of the story. Each claimed innocence and promised lightning bolts and exoneration compliments of a vengeful God. It was then that it happened.

Without the assistance of a starter’s pistol both sets of the faithful jumped up from their pews and began stockpiling respective arsenals of rocks. Massive piles soon filled both ends of the street. As night fell whispers filled the streets and wagers were recorded.

The next day at high noon Lake City was abuzz. Little kids sold lemonade, miners took the day off work, and Ute braves ventured into town hearing the news of an epic battle between white medicine men. Both preachers wore helmets compliments of respective ladies’ auxiliaries. Moments before the fight, both wobbly contestants were massaged by makeshift trainers, given advice and encouragement. Then it was on.

To the delight of the cheering Congregationalists Kirby stalked Edman. Then Edman let fire with a hunk of lead, missing Kirby by three feet and landing right smack in the window of the Elysian Fields Funeral Parlor, across the street. A volley of rocks filled the air, each missing its mark.

As the two preachers closed in on each other it seemed apparent that first blood would be struck. Kirby let fly as Edman reached down for more ammunition. Edman let go, knicking his fellow jouster on the right leg. Kirby fired back, his chunk of ore landing just outside the door of the Lake City Bank, where Steve Nagy, the local banker/dentist stood.

In one sagacious motion Nagy swooped down and picked up the ore. He stared at it for a moment missing the action as Edman and Kirby continued launching stony projectiles at each other. He held the ore up to the light of the mid-day sun and exclaimed:

“Look at the vein in this rock. Either that’s gold or I’m a monkey’s uncle!”

The town jackal, Eddie McGinty limped over to Nagy.

“Sure as hell…that’s gold. We’ve discovered gold right here in town when all this time we’ve been traversing these mountains to mine silver. We’re all rich!”

Quickly the good folk dispersed in the direction of Henson Creek, Brush Creek, Capitol City, Crystal Peak, Red Mountain, Grassy Mountain, Slumgullion Slide and any other spot where the suspect ore could have been harvested. In a matter of minutes nobody was left in the street but Edman and Kirby. There was no congregation, no pulpit, no audience. Both dropped their rocks from their hands as Judge Kienast approached.

“Now do you see the silliness of all this?” he quacked, closing in for the kill on the day’s hostilities. “I suggest we wander over to Gunnison Avenue and a cup of tea.

“Tea, hell, let’s swallow a spot of brandy. It’s cause for celebration!” said Kirby.

Edman agreed enthusiastically and the three set off.

“Not that I believe it, Rev. Edman, but one of those fallen angels told me you were upstairs preaching up a storm with your britches to your knees,” poked Kirby.

“No truer than what the Lilly’s madam said about you riding off to Wiminuche Hot Springs after your sermon with her favorite fille de joie,” frowned Edman.

“It’s getting harder and harder to tell the righteous from the treacherous,” quipped Kienast, sipping his brandy. “Everyone strays off the path sometimes. The key is in the forgiving, isn’t that what the Bible says?

“We all get our thou shalts and our just onests all fouled up every so often,” added Kirby. “But sometimes the only thing separating us from the long winters and total pandemonium is the Sunday sermon and maybe a pair of warm socks.

“Times a-wastin,” croaked Edman. “I’m getting my sluice box and heading to the hills. The good Lord’s bidding comes in many colors, but my favorite is gold.”

“You need a partner,” smiled Kirby. “I was a prospector of ore before prospecting for souls.”

“Why not,” said Edman slamming his fist on the bar. “In this wild country a man needs a little backup.”

God made the country. Man made the city. But the Devil made the small town.

– Kevin Haley



Alaska puts foot down

Seat Belts Could Get Expiration Dates

(Denver) The state of Colorado has decided that not only will it honor expiration dates on everything from lampshades to canned goods but will push for legislation placing time limits on safe seat belt use.

Seat Belts have survived for ten or twenty years without official examination for side effects or tainted conditions. Trusting motorists often cruise along unaware of the mounting dangers.

“The gov’ment is still your little buddy,” said one highway patrol officer who won a trip to Disneyland for giving out 100,000 citations for seat belt infractions in August alone. One Grand Junction man received over 70 warnings before he got smart.

“What we have here is a serious matter of lawless consumption peppered with a dwindling respect for the law. Automotive restraining devices must be checked daily for wear. Everyone must cooperate and look the same on the road,” added the veteran officer who once gave his mom a ticket for slouching behind the wheel.

Consumer advocates , slow to respond to the seat belt crisis, say that air bags are their current focus. Champions of social homogeneity say most drivers don’t realize that the bags must be checked for pressure just like tires.

“A flat air bag is of no use to anyone,” said one source behind the cosmic meat counter. “The days of cheerful Gomer Pyle full service are over. Today’s motorist must familiarize himself with tread capacity enhancers and basic tire gauges. Theses can be conveniently stored under the seat adjacent to handguns.

In a related development, the U.S. Mouse of Representatives voted to suspend expiration dates on bottled water for the remainder of the session but to stamp a temporary restrictions on the consumption of aged scotch whiskey and old British gins.

“If there’s dust on the bottle throw it out,” said one millionaire legislator from South Dakota. “Sure it’s a senseless overture but it’s a matter of placate or perish. How else do you think we can get the corn bill passed this year? We expect all this to die in the Senate anyway due to allegiances to the Crown. The last thing the gentry there wants to do is upset Buckingham Palace right before the World Series.”

Meanwhile seat belt violations mount up with the criminal element recalcitrant to their own protection. In Montrose for instance, a 98-year-old, one-armed grandmother was cited for failure to display a seat belt on her wicker chair while operating a propane fly swatter at 2998 Yapping Dog Lane.

Later the same day three illegal aliens were ticketed for improprieties regarding minimal restraining apparatus on an unregistered concubine near LaSalle Road. The list goes on. Bears in Ouray seem oblivious to the law. Residents of Telluride have been issued permits allowing leash laws to compensate for lack of adherence during parking maneuvers.

And finally, in what could become the precedent for future enforcement, the Colorado Department of Health has sealed off the men’s room at Grady’s Gravy Heaven in Feedlot Mobile Home Park. Sources there say patrons have been in violation of safety codes there since the Spanish-American War. 

– Kashmir Horseshoe

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

– George Bernard Shaw