• From the Lion’s Den

    by Donald K. Sanders

    I think that my friend Steve is planning on killing me. I’ll explain why I think this in the simplest of terms so that the citizens of Winters can understand what I am talking about. It all started a few days ago when Steve read in the Winters Express that he had jammed a tree limb into the den of a mountain lion.

    “You never told me it was a lion’s den,” he said.

    I was shocked! I thought he knew it was a lion’s den because of all of the scratch marks around the hole. I mean, all around the tree, up to 10 feet high, all of the bark was torn off, chewed up, and spit out. Some of the scratch marks were up to an inch deep. A grizzly bear doesn’t scratch that deep. Geez, everybody knows that. Plus, all of the bones lying around the tree should have been a big clue for him. Geez, do I have to spell everything out for him?

    Steve started acting funny while we were driving home and it’s gotten worse in the past few weeks. He’s been saying and doing some really strange things that I don’t understand. I don’t know exactly what they mean. For instance, he doesn’t want to go fossil hunting anymore because it has no financial reward, or no pee in his pot, as he likes to say.

    On a hike the other day, he started mumbling words under his breath, just low enough so that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. At first I’d just look at him like he had lost his mind, and poke him in the back with my hiking stick. It was really funny, but Steve wasn’t laughing. I even tripped him a couple of times so that he would fall in the poison oak.

    So here I am bent over, laughing so hard that tears were coming from my eyes, when Steve turns around real slow like and says, “Carpe Meterioritus Chondrites Regmaglypts.” I said, “What, what are you talking about?” He gave me a funny look that I swear was just like the guy that went nuts in the movie, “Full Metal Jacket.” Then, he looked just like Hannibal Lector with slobber coming from the corner of his mouth. The slobber was white like he may have had rabies or something.

    I was getting worried and a little scared at this point, so I asked him to sit and take a break so we could talk. As we sat on two big rocks, way up in Cold Canyon, Steve took a big rock in his hand and smashed the bottom of a bottle of water and proceeded to drink as much as he could while the rest splashed all over his face. I thought to myself, “I would have just unscrewed the cap to get a drink.” As I watched in amazement, Steve started smashing the rock on the bottle again, over and over.

    “What are you doing,” I asked?

    With his head slanted kinda sideways he said, “I’m trying to close this bottle, what do ya think!”

    “Oh” I said. “What does all of that mumbo jumbo mean about carps and regama thingys?”

    He explained that from now on, he was going to find meteorites because they were worth a lot of money and that millions of years ago they fell from the sky, landing all over this area. I said, “How do you know that and how do we find them?” He explained that he had seen it on TV and that there was a meteorite right behind me, just up the hill. I turned to look and sure enough there was a big black rock almost at the top of an incline of about 80 degrees. I turned back to look at him and said, “That’s 30 feet high — how are we supposed to get to it?”

    Steve pulled a stringy little rope out of his backpack. He says, “Follow me, I’ll show you.”

    It took about an hour for us to climb to the top of the hill and I could barely breath.

    “I’ll tie the rope to your ankles and lower you down to get the meteorite.” He said.

    “No way,” I said. “It’s got poison oak all around it, and I could break my neck!”

    I turned to look at Steve and I found that he had already tied the rope to my legs and his foot was coming right at me. I got the “St” out on “Stop” when he kicked me over backwards down the hill where I slid over loose rocks and poison oak until the rope stopped my slide.

    “Grab the black rock,” he said.

    I wrapped my arms around the rock just as Steve let go of the rope.

    I woke up with the black rock on my chest and poison oak leaves all over my face. My arms were black from my hands to my elbows. I yelled, “Dang yer hide, Steve,” when I realized that he had painted the rock black. I could hear him running through the woods laughing, “He he, ha ha, he he!” He had driven off and left me up by the dam, but he left a note there for me: “Stick that black rock in a lion’s den, you dummy!”

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