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The Ant, the Grasshopper…

and the Bar Fly

     So, this guy comes into a bar…actually the two of them had been lounging for most of the afternoon flexing what was left of their pale muscles, pumping wisdom like a tired old well about to call it a lifetime. Both were heavy into self-absorbed. But swashbuckling tomcats like Don Juan were light on scrutiny preferring the other side of the looking glass to the mirror.

     These were very important men. Don Juan had an opinion on everything which he shared with the less fortunate like Candy, his shell-shocked drinking buddy who had eager ears but little as backup. 

     “Yeah, I’ve damn well got her made,” started Don Juan. “Got my bank roll, my trailer house is paid for, and my pickup is runnin’ great.”

     He turned his neck ever so slightly and caught a glimpse of Candy who looked like he was trying to crawl into his cloudy pilsner glass.

     “For crying out loud, man, sit up straight,” he cuffed. “Look at your body language. It says everything about you. It tips your hand.”

     Candy looked at his body. He didn’t see or hear anything but he came to attention anyway following a pattern that had begun early on. Candy was there as a human reaction, to do as he was told. He was all but transparent because it had become easier that way.

     “Look at this,” said Don Juan, scanning the local gazette as he reached for his beer. “They sent a probe to Mars but it blew up when it got close. Idiots! I wonder how much that cost. I pay taxes and I’m damn sick and tired of the government shooting off space ships like they were butterflies.”

     Don Juan thought about what he had just said and smiled at his linguistic flair.

     “I don’t like bugs,” said Candy, “especially flying ones.”

     Don Juan continued to read the paper; his glasses fallen down around his cantaloupe nose. To him the expression on his face while reading was far more important than any information extracted from the experience. He wore a somber frown accentuated by hush puppies and a cap that read Cheyenne Frontier Days.

     “Winter’s comin’,” he soapboxed. “Look here. It snowed three feet in Duluth just yesterday. I’m glad I’m ready…got my wood all in and new mud and snows on the Power Wagon. How ’bout you?”

     Candy looked into the bar mirror. He had a propane heater in his small apartment that was paid for by the Veteran’s Administration because of the war. He didn’t drive and the last time he tried to can a batch of tomatoes, given to him by his sister over in Delta, he’d almost blown up the place. How could Candy prepare for winter? One season just plowed into another.

     “Oh, I’m fine,” he choked with an uncertain voice, all but drowned out by the television.

     “Fine, huh?” barked Don Juan. “Just like last year when you never got around to taping your windows and your pipes froze. Then you had to sleep on my couch for the whole month of January. You’re like the man who had a forest of firewood at his fingertips but forgot to discover fire.”

     Don Juan was on a roll.

     “Security doesn’t just wander up into your yard,” he preached. “You gotta go get it. Whether it’s financial, social or romantic there’s a brawl going on and you just as well join in right away. Lead with your left, boy!”

     He slapped Candy hard on the back. The tiny toothless aperture just under his road map nose was not to be stopped now.

     “Take money, for instance,” he continued. “I worked for thirty-five years to get me a nest egg and now I’m gonna enjoy it. I got stocks and bonds, 40 acres up on the Plateau, a great retirement, CDs, credit cards, a fat bank account and even some of them annuities. Everything I got is paid for and I don’t have any kids to leave nothin’ to.”

     Candy stared into his empty glass. Don Juan ordered two more beers and companion shots. He had a captive audience and the four dollars was a well spent investment to keep it that way.

     “You might as well spend it all,” quipped Candy breaking into a smile.

     “Hell, we might just do that this afternoon,” smiled Don Juan who continued to peruse the paper. He was a man smart enough to do two things at once.

     “Yeah, you got to be ready for winter around these parts,” he said glancing in the direction of his doleful disciple who smelled like an empty case of Pabst. “You still got time and maybe I’ll even lend a hand but first let me tell you a story. I know you don’t like bugs but it’s called The Ants and the Grasshopper. It’s by some fella named Aesop. He was a Greek a long time ago.”

     Candy perked up. “That’s a funny sounding name,” he mumbled.

     Maybe you’ll get the connection here. You’ve got to have your affairs in order. You never know when your card will come up. What would you do in an emergency? What do you have to fall back on?”

     Don Juan went on to tell Candy the story of the industrious ants and the lazy grasshopper. Despite the fact that Candy did not like bugs he listened intently. Don Juan told him about the ants drying grain on a fine winter’s day. The grain had been collected over long, hard days throughout the summer months.

     “Then along comes this grasshopper, half starved, begging for a handout,” he explained. “One of the ants asked him why he had not stored up any food during the summer. He says he had not leisure time enough and that he had passed the days singing. The ants scorned him saying that if he had been foolish enough to sing away the summer then he must dance supperless to bed in the winter.”

     Don Juan waited for a response.

     “Mean little bastards,” said Candy.

     “You miss the point,” said Don Juan. “The ants worked at getting their ducks in a row while the grasshopper wasted his time. It’s just like you and me,” he added. “I’m the ant and you’re the grasshopper. My house in order while your roof is caving in.”

     Suddenly Don Juan clutched his chest, executing a poignant plunge from his prosaic perch at the bar. A swan dive in a dive. He hit the floor hard, his satellite brew crashing beside him. He was a goner.

     At the funeral a lot of people that Candy had never seen talked about what a great man Don Juan had been. They said he had grit. They said he had enjoyed a full life. They said he’d be missed. What they were really doing was a little preheat jockeying for position with regards to his assets, which ended up going to an uncle and aunt Don Juan had never liked.

     Meanwhile Candy wandered home and spent the rest of the day putting up visquine over the peewee windows of his ratty chamber. Was there no end to the chores? Don Juan’s old pickup sat propped in the driveway, a gift from the counterfeit relatives who didn’t want to haul the thing back to Salida. Now he would have to put gas in it. How would he ever get around to that.

– Kashmir Horseshoe

Rogue Herefords Turn on Rancher

(Ridgway) Dozens of renegade cows have turned on their master causing non-life threatening injuries and sending a frightening message to other ranchers in the region. The uprising, said to have been in the making since July, reportedly stems from long undressed grievances on the part of the herd, who say they are manipulated and do not share in profits from agricultural operations.

“He’s pretty shook up,” said a neighbor of Merv Ditchwater, who ranches up Cow Creek. He trusted them cows.”

Authorities expressed concern that the assault might be connected to international terrorism or to Mooists operating in remote parts of Asia. Both have threatened stepped up action with regard to alleged abuses in the cattle industry.

“Up till now we haven’t seen any similar activities on the part of goats and chickens,” said an Interior Department Official. “The horses are loyal, the pigs are in clover, the ducks are ducky…but we’re monitoring the sheep.”

Animal behaviorists contend that radical Woolyists, hiding among the confines of local sheep herds could try something as early as next week. The blame radicals and dry conditions for militancy within these generally docile ranks.

“You look at a bunch of grazing cattle and you see peace and pastoral bliss,” said Ditchwater from his hospital bed. “That’s what I thought too. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been there and seen the anger, the brutality. I’ve had enough. I’m moving to Denver and getting a gov’ment job.”

Intercepted codes reportedly originating within banned sacred cow networks suggest that this is only the beginning.

“As of 8:35 this morning we have broken the code,” said the Interior official. It’s “AND THE COW’S IN THE CORN but beyond that we don’t have a clue.”

The official said he’s not worried since his agency has a bottomless operating budget and will continue to “push the envelope until the cows come home.” 

Consumer groups and drugstore vegetarians expressed concern that the gov’ment will take advantage of these troubles to further tighten the noose on personal liberties within the cattle population.

“Before long you won’t see a cow grazing without security personnel on duty. X-ray machines, loyalty oaths and expired visas will be a thing of the past,” said the source. “They might even have to take off their shoes at the airport or surrender their toothpaste.”

The ringleader of the attack is thought to be registered breeding bull from the provinces who goes by several aliases including T-Bone Gaza, which is the name on his student visa from cow school.

Citizens are asked to report anything suspicious in the pasture. Wanted posters, featuring a photo of Gaza, are expected to be on display in local post offices before long. 

– Kashmir Horseshoe

Last Leper Colony Closes Doors

(Wildhorse Creek) The last known leper colony in Colorado closed today due to a disappearing clientele and conflicts with local logging interests. Actually there were no lepers living there. A short ceremony was conducted without incident and the place was then abandoned.

This community of people suffering from the disease called leprosy was founded in 1843 buy Guy Ultimathule, a Norse seaman who contacted the disease himself in 1840. For almost 50 years the leper colony thrived despite the inability to grow much food. Water and game, however, were plentiful and the lepers were not particularly concerned with the scurvy.

Then in 1893 some of the more industrious lepers struck gold in their little leper fountain in the town plaza. They were rich and, in light of their close-knit society, so was everyone else in town. From about 1900 the lepers had been living a life nothing short of pomposity, their lavish lifestyle delving into the stark, lower reaches of narcissism. 

Most people in the surrounding communities were never aware of  the leper stronghold.  In recent decades the only contact was by beer truck drivers dropping off kegs of beer, Thursdays and Saturdays since 1953.

The colony was nominated as an historic place by the Colorado Preservation Society in 2007.     

’98 class reunion canceled

(Gunnison) A reunion of the class of 1898 has been canceled since all potential participants are no longer among the living. After repeated attempts to contact persons believed to have attended Gunnison High School during that period the organizers have given up.

“All we had to go on was a tattered list and a few songs and myths that have survived over the decades,” said one exhausted volunteer. “Although they had a written language and a slew of newspapers back in those days the information we sought was remote at best.”

Persons who might have graduated in 1898 would most likely have been born around 1880 which would make them 140 years old today.

“We found a few people in their early 100s but nobody any older,” said the same source. “It was a good idea in concept but in reality it fell quite short of the goal.”

The group has now focused on creating a class reunion for persons attending Gunnison High School from 1940-1970.

“We’ve found lots of these people still kicking around and have talked to many about attending our function,” said the volunteer. “The 1898 reunion would have been rather slow anyway. Sure, people are living longer these days but we were pushing the issue.”

“Still as the moon at Sligo or mad as monkeys in Bahia, satire is a delicate blend of knowledge accrued mixed with whatever you can create from thin air.”   

– Uncle Pahgre, in Writing Stupid.

Toilet Paper Giants Slated to Meet

Toilet Paper Giants Slated to Meet

(Montrose) CEOs from the nation’s ten largest toilet paper manufacturers are slated to meet here next month to discuss the future of the industry. Along with their extended entourage the visitors will bring along over 1000 support personnel. The economic impact is expected to be felt all the way to Colona.

Insiders told the local media that specific topics to be addressed at the summit would not be released and that the group was quite secretive with regards to its business. Preliminary crews should start to roll in by April. 

Bank Backpedals on Popular Giveaway

Bank Backpedals on Popular Giveaway

(Manana) The Who’s on First National Bank will refrain from offering first-time customers cannabis products along with free checking and banking by mail it was disclosed today.

The ultra-popular program, a brainchild of pot entrepreneurs sensitive to fiscal blacklisting and financial harassment by the feds, sought to present marijuana is a more favorable light.

Bank offers expanding premiums no more

“We didn’t encourage anyone to light up in the lobby or operate motor vehicles under the influence,” said a former vice president who was “removed from his managerial position” by corporate bosses who live in backwater states where cannabis is still illegal.

In Colorado pot is as legal as the day is long,” said an attorney representing “elements” associated with the lending institution. “It’s also highly educational.”

Customers will have until the weekend to take advantage of the give-away with an assortment of edibles and teas. At exactly 5 pm a massive bonfire will be conducted in the parking lot so as to further comply with directives from up above.

A spokesman at the governor’s office laughed off the confrontation saying, ”As far as we know the substance is legal here and the bank has every right to give premiums away to its customers at its discretion.”

-Gabby Haze