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THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HOOTER MCCORMICK -- GROUNDED

by: Wes Ishmael

“Sammy's Wampum and Buffalo Grits,” growled the booming voice on one end of the phone line.

“Is Thammy Beaver Teeth there?” asked inspector Percy Stickelwitz.

A pause, presumably for translating, then, “Depends on which Pale Face is looking for him,” said Sammy Beaver Teeth.

“Thith ith inthpector Thtickelwitz…”

“Inthpector? You mean inspector?” interrupted Sammy, “Look, I already told the locals I don't know anything about how those raccoons got into Sheriff Dicklebie's office. And, I sure don't know who would turn them loose in there with all that rotting garbage.”

“Raccoonths?” lisped Stickelwitz. “No thir. I'm atthithtant head of thecurity at Eppelby air field here in Omaha. We have a man in cuthtody here who gave uth your name ath a referenth. A Hooter McCormick?”

Another long pause. “Is he in some kind of trouble.”

“Yeth thir, I'm afraid he ith. He tried to board a plane with a weapon and became unruly when we tried to detain him. Pleath come.”

Sammy covered the receiver with his hand, trying to stifle a laugh, imagining the possibilities.

“I just dropped him off not more than 30 minutes ago. So I'll be back there in about the same amount of time. Let me talk to him.”

“Oh thir, I'm afraid I can't do that.”

Sammy's voice turned cold. “Put him on the phone now, or I'll be coming with my lawyer and half the Sioux nation.”

A long pause. Then some commotion in the background, complete with a streak of blue expletives.

“Sammy?” shouted Hooter. “Come quick, these pinheads are poking and prodding me like a croaked frog in a junior high biology class.”

“What did you do, threaten to hijack a stewardess?” asked Sammy.

“Me?” screamed Hooter. “I was just trying to get to the plane when these idiots cuffed me, frisked me and hauled me off to somewhere they call their special place.”

“I'm on my way.”

He heard more commotion and Hooter's voice trailing off, “Don't worry, Sammy, I got ‘em right where I want ‘em.”

Stickelwitz was back on the line: “Thee what I mean? Pleath hurry.”

“Oh, I'll hurry alright. And when I get there he'd better be in the same shape as when I left him.”

“Now, thee here…”

Click.

Over the Bridge and Through the Mire

Along with his ranching endeavors on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Sammy Beaver Teeth ran a string of rough stock. He was on his way back from a show in Mesquite and reckoned it made sense for Hooter to ride back north with him to look over some calves Bob Houston at Apache Feeders was interested in. Hooter made the trip for Bob every year.

“Ride shotgun up with me,” Sammy had said, “Then I'll put you back on a bird for Texas.”

The trip was uneventful and entertaining as Sammy and Hooter reminisced about old times. They looked the calves over, Hooter worked a deal that made both Bob Houston and Sammy's folks happy, and off to the airport they'd gone.

Everything was going perfectly, until Hooter, an infrequent air traveler to begin with, got his first taste of the new security measures implemented after September 11.

The first problem came at the front desk when they questioned his expired driver's license—about three years expired.

“I ain't looking to drive the plane,” said Hooter, “Just hitch a ride.”

After about 20 minutes of haggling, a call to the mayor of Apache Flats, and a thorough scanning of Hooter's honorary tribal member card—Sammy had bestowed it this trip for sport; it read in part, “Hooter McCormick, Number One Pale Face…”—he convinced them he was who he said he was.           

Then, as they say, the clouds opened up and the storms raged.

When Hooter walked through the metal detector at the security gate it went off like a pregnant slot machine red-lining on lemons straight across. As he attempted to stroll off, wondering what all the racket was, a slender man in some sort of uniform began talking to Hooter in an excited voice and a language Hooter couldn't understand.

“Huh?” said Hooter.

“%$! X&^ *&,” came more of the urgent gibberish.

Even though it didn't sound like Spanish, either, Hooter tried: “Habla espanol usted?”

More noise Hooter couldn't understand. So, he turned to walk off. And, the man with the language Hooter couldn't understand began speaking it louder.

“Where do you think you're going, mister?” Hooter heard the question from behind at the same time he felt someone forcefully grab his arm.

“Well,” Hooter said, whirling around as he jerked his arm free, “I was going to catch my flight until I was so rudely interrupted.”

He was staring into the flat face and cruel eyes of a stocky middle-aged woman. Through her frown she growled, “But, Absallah told you to stop.”

“Who?”

“Absallah,” she growled, pointing to the man whose language Hooter couldn't come close to understanding.

“All due respect, though none is due,” said Hooter, by now better than boiling, “All that mumbo jumbo he was spouting might mean stop in his language, but it doesn't in English, and last I knew this was America and English was the language we're using.”

The hateful women just glared and ordered, “Empty your pockets.”

“For what? Look lady, and I use the term loosely, all I'm trying to do is catch the plane.”

She snapped her fingers. An armed guard was there in an instant: “Is there a problem.”

“Yes there is,” said Hooter, before his friend the troll could get could started. “This fellow here talking to me in a language I can't understand, then Broomhilda here grabs on to me and starts bawling me out for no good reason, telling me I gotta empty out my pockets.”

“Sir,” said the guard, “This is standard procedure. Please just step over here, empty your pockets, let us wand you and you can be on your way.”

“Wand me?” said Hooter, his eyes growing large. “I don't believe we know each other that well.” No one laughed.

So, out came a set of keys, a purple rabbit's foot, three good handfuls of change, two snuff cans, a pocket knife and a money clip.

A POCKET KNIFE!!!

Soon as the guard saw Hooter's old jackknife, he drew his gun, called for backup and told Hooter to get up against the wall and spread ‘em.

“You barn blind idiots,” said Hooter. “What in the name of Sam G. Houston is the matter with you? Your beebees don't come all the way back to the middle, do they Spankey?”

Then Hooter yelled out, “Help, somebody call the cops I'm being mugged.”

“We are the cops,” said the guard. Noticing the crowd that had gathered, the guard instructed some others to take Hooter back to a holding area, presumably out of sight. That's when Percy Stickelwitz burst onto the scene, demanding to know why Hooter was brandishing a weapon.

“What weapon?” asked Hooter, still not understanding what all the fuss was about.

Stickelwitz held up Hooter's pocketknife, smirking all the while.

“That's not a weapon you lamebrain. That's a toad sticker at best and twine popper most likely. You people are nuts.”

“Are you working alone?” demanded Stickelwitz. “What wath your target?” On and on, things going from bad to worse. Hooter getting madder by the minute, demanding they call Sammy to vouch for him. They finally did because they thought Sammy might be an accomplice.

Pony Rides for Beggars

Finally, an important looking gentleman—surely Percy's boss, given the way Stickelwitz fell into silence—strode into the room, followed by Sammy Beaver Teeth, who was grinning from ear-to-ear.

“There's been a terrible mistake. Let him go,” said the man. “Mr. McCormick, our humblest apologies. Your friend here, and his lawyer, informed me of the travesty. We're so sorry. You understand, these people are only trying to protect the innocent people of this great nation.”

“By treating us like a bunch of criminals and taking away our freedoms, all because of a handful of two-bit terrorists?” asked Hooter.

Silence.

“Come on Hooter. We'll find another way to get you home,” said Sammy.

“But I'm not through with these heathens,” said Hooter.

“It's all good,” said Sammy, catching Hooter's eye with a knowing wink.

So, Hooter went. As soon as they got out the door, thankful as he was for Sammy showing up, he was more than puzzled why Sammy thought it was alright to let them off so easy.

Sammy pointed down the hall where the security gate was. As they got closer, Hooter could see a line of people unwinding as far as the eye could see, most all of them there at Sammy's behest, pockets bulging and wearing enough silver to open a mine.

“Hope those security people packed a picnic,” said Sammy. “They may be here a while.”

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