Dear Dirty America Reality Tour pt 4: Some Hardcore Fans Never Get Enough
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
(see pt 3: Snagged On A Branch Somewhere)
It had to be close to 1am when my brother shot the gun at the stars. The blast popped my ears and made them sing like a choir room full of newly-minted eunuchs warming up their voices for a royal performance. My thoughts were disoriented. The boom filled the farm and lifted as quickly as it had spread out in the air. We listened to the echo travel across the countryside.
I hoped the coyotes would hear it and fear would tremble through the black clots in their hearts, but I knew better. They were smarter than to be scared by loud sounds.
“Wait,” I told my brother.
He lowered the gun and listened.
Leaves rustled very suddenly, but somewhere off in the distance. I thought I heard, very faintly, the clumping of heavy feet moving fast. My brother stayed facing west, toward the field, toward the coyote howling we’d heard not moments before. I turned the opposite direction and clicked on the flashlight. I shone the beam through the opening between the two tree belts and saw a man streaking across my mother’s garden. Undoubtedly tearing up her onions and trampling her wild pepper plants.
My fan. My biggest reader. His shorts flapped against his legs. They’d been shredded from the thorns and grasping twigs of the trees. He wasn’t moving terribly fast, but he was trying to. I flipped off my light. The bright moon still held him softly in its.
“Fire the gun again,” I told my brother. He hadn’t heard the footsteps like I had. His ears were probably ripped up worse than mine. “Hurry,” I said. “It’s crucial for the effect of the reality tour.”
BOOM. The gun kicked against my brother’s shoulder. I shined the light back into the garden again, just in time to see C– do a little skip and a hop in the air and then collide into the rows of sweet corn standing thin and sturdy as lines of emaciated army men after having been given a rousing speech about firmly defending their ground come hell or death or high water.
C– must have been bouncing between the stalks of sweet corn. Their tassels jounced and jolted. Stalks snapped and cracked. My mother’s crop would be severely reduced that season. There’d be no fresh corn to donate to grandma either. C– caused a lot of trouble. I’d add it to his reality tour ticket price.
C– disentangled himself and disappeared into the north trees.
My brother lowered the gun. He’d just missed the premature thrashing of the corn. “There’s a new rule I’d like to make now,” he said. “Once the gun is fired, the regular patrol is aborted so emergency action can be taken.”
“If there is emergency action required,” I added. “Tonight’s one of those rare show business evenings.”
“Of course,” he said, “that’s a given. But if the gun is fired, there almost certainly will be a reason.”
I pointed across the tall grass between the shelter belts. “I thought I saw C– go scurrying across the garden.”
“You thought?” my brother asked.
“The probability is quite high,” I told him. “There’s the off chance it was somebody else. That’s why I had you fire the gun again, to really make this night memorable. And if it wasn’t him, it should have scared the living daylights out of anybody intruding on the farm.”
My brother had a concerned look on his face. “We might have taken it too far.”
“You know these hardcore fans. They can never be taken too far, can they? He wanted to get his skin flipped inside out by the Yeti call. You heard him. He’d probably be halfway OK with being eaten by a coyote while we saved our cats. Just to feel like he was part of the action. These fiction-freaks want nothing more than to merge with the story. And frankly, I’m honored to have been the storyteller in this case.”
“You’re right,” my brother said. “Now we have to find him before he gets lost again. As directors of this tour, we must have the right kind of wisdom to know how far to push the effects, and when to pull back.”
We walked through the tall grass, over the grave of our long lost beloved family dog. She’d been with us for thirteen years before dementia ruined her faculties. Thankfully we hadn’t been battling coyotes back then, when she’d been alive, or we would have been worried sick about her every night.
Coyotes will lure a dog off the farm. An innocent dog like ours would have gone out to play. But she would have been eaten instead. The coyotes will double- or triple-up on a farm dog and nip at it from multiple directions until it tires out.
There are only two solutions for that problem. Get a llama. Llamas stomp coyotes to death and are very territorial. We had proposed this solution in the Call of the Yeti, pt. 1: Curtailing the Coyotes to our parents, but to no effect. It wasn’t a bad idea. A good llama will recognize the pets on the farm and leave them alone, but keep out intruders. They’ll also mow the long in a roundabout way during the summer.
The other solution is to have three or more dogs that will fight and kill for each other.
As another man who lived on a farm a few miles away told me, the coyotes tried to lure his dog off the farm, “But the coyotes didn’t know we had more than one dog,” he said, his face breaking up with laughter. “All four of our dogs went out there and came back with a coyote tail.”
When we were beside my mother’s garden, we stomped our feet on the ground to loosen any wood ticks that had attached themselves to our pants and socks. We’d have to check C– for ticks as well. The way he was carelessly rolling in the grass made it probable he had more than one crawling over his skin looking for a cozy place to attach.
“I didn’t realize he was so unhinged,” I said to my brother. I was thinking about the way C– slow-streaked across the yard. We were hurrying to the spot I’d seen him dive into the darkness of the trees. My brother did not respond, but kept a straight, steady course ahead.
In a whisper, I told my brother I was going to run to C–‘s van and pull the keys. “I would hate if he would slip past us and drive off before we could finish the last part of the reality tour. The discussion and question part. Plus, we have to talk about suitable payment. I’ll get an idea how I want this to go before I take the gig to Los Angeles.”
My brother nodded. I ran as lithely as a lizard and sprightly as a pigeon through the garden, past the back patch of grass, and into the main farm yard. C–‘s dusty van was barely distinguishable in the night. I didn’t realize how dark the farm was with the yard light out. Usually we kept it on so the coyotes stalking our trees would think nothing unusual was going on. But for C– I wasn’t going for best coyote hunting practices–I was going for quality thrills and memories.
I opened the van door and smelled a lingering fast food scent, sluggish and embedded in the fabric of the grungy decades-old seats. I plucked the keys and slammed the door. The clunky sound seemed puny in comparison to the blast of the rifle.
Through the window I saw my mother’s peeping face. I gave her a wave and a thumbs up. She was lit up by the weather and futures computer monitor system in my father’s office. A real must-have for all farmers.
Just then I heard my brother give a yawp. A barbaric one. I knew that was his way of saying he needed me quickly, but without using easily translatable language. Images of C– drooling and snarling popped into my mind. Images of him lunging and swinging his soft fists at my brother. Who knew how the outdoors had destroyed his mental faculties and good Midwestern sensibilities?
I dropped the keys in my pocket and sprinted back into the night, afraid of what I would find.
TO BE CONTINUED…WHY NOT?