When Charlie finally found Hooter, who was only detectable in the brush because of the occasional muttered obscenity and an unknown mechanical clicking sound, Hooter was just about to squeeze off another round with his shiny new paintball gun.
“Cuz, this may finally be crossing the line, don't you think?” asked Charlie, as he held out a piece of neon green paper. Emblazoned across the handbill: “First Great American B.A.M.B.I Hunts—Beginning September 28—In and Around Rio Rojo County, TX—Call Hooter McCormick, etc.”
“Ain't it swell,” grinned Hooter. “You'd be surprised the number of folks who have already called wanting to reserve a spot.”
Cousin Charlie was starting to chalk up. “Look, Hooter, even you can't think the community is going to let something like this happen around here.”
Hooter beamed up from his sighting crouch with the innocence of a baby. “Go for it, Chuck? Everyone from the mayor on down, or on up, depending on how you care to look at it, is all for it. Shoot, even Claire and Bugs have given it their blessing, and you know they can be kind of reserved.”
“You mean to tell me I'm supposed to believe your own girlfriend and her little girl, not to mention the town officials think it's just fine for you and a bunch of middle-aged derelicts who have more money than sense to go hunting naked women with paintball guns?”
It was Hooter's turn to gaze in amazement, just before busting a gut. “Oh, you think we're talking about one of those Bambi hunts we were reading about in the paper.”
The two cousins and other members of the Rio Rojo Cattlemen's Association had discussed at length claims made in the news recently by a Las Vegas entrepreneur who said men were paying five figures for the chance to hunt naked women with paintball guns. If they made it to the end of the course without getting hit, they got a bonus.
“It seems indecent to me, but there's something I like about it,” Peetie Womack had said.
“Me, too, the like part,” said Izzie.
“Sounds like they're getting paid pretty good,” said Jackson. “No law against it, free country.”
“There's nothing decent about it any shape or form,” Lonnie Johnson had seethed, just before launching a jet stream of Mail Pouch at what he deemed the offensive newspaper article.
As might be suspected, Hooter was somewhat more circumspect about the issue, before falling out of his chair in hysterics. “I think it's wonderful,” he said between snorts. “And I'd say the same whether it was guys hunting naked gals or vice versa. In this age of political correctness when so many seem so willing to sacrifice their civil liberties and personal ideas, all for the myth of security, ya gotta love someone who figures out a way to thumb his or her nose at the whole shootin' match and make folks on both sides of the fence squirm.”
An Idea Grows Legs
“Pucker on down,” said Hooter, pointing to the handbill Charlie was holding. “I ain't talking Bambi hunts like that. See here, I'm talking B-A-M-B-I.” He tapped on the periods separating each letter of the acronym for emphasis.
Before Charlie could ask, Hooter continued, “It stands for Blithering, Anti-American, Moronic, Buzzard-brained, Idiots. And, we're gonna get to hunt them, Charlie. Just with paint, but it's still gonna feel good to nail them.”
Charlie was both relieved and scared all over again, like a first time roughstock rider given a momentary reprieve in the order.
“Anti-American, Moronic, Buzzard-brained idiots,” helped Hooter. “Blithering because I don't know what else you call their inane rhetoric. Anti-American because the root of that rhetoric typically winds up being a cry for more government regulation, which they equate to more protection, which is really another way of saying socialism. The moronic and idiot parts are self-explanatory. And, the Buzzard-brained because not only don't they think so far, but there's a meanness about them.”
“Who exactly do you have in mind?”
“Pick a subject,” said Hooter, polishing on his new gun. “You mean to tell me you wouldn't pay good money to cap that wench at PETA who said she hoped Foot and Mouth comes to the U.S.? Or how about those quinines who have us spending good money going to the Supreme Court to maintain a check-off the majority of us keep affirming that we want?
“Lord, then there's opposing cattle organizations, even opposing factions within the same organizations. You could stay in business just selling hunts to different groups to have a crack at each other on opposite days. Or, how about Hillary Clinton? We'd make more in one hunt of her than she ever thought of sucking up with her book, White Water and commodities combined.”
“I think I see what you're getting at, but…”
“Then we'll video tape the hunts, like those boys in Vegas so the buyers have a souvenir. And, we'll come out with a line of our own paints guns, paint balls and whatnot. Of course, we'll have to be plumb careful no one bootlegs in an actual gun.”
Charlie sat down. “Suppose there are no laws against it, and I buy the idea you could find folks willing to do the hunting, but who in their right mind would agree to be the hunted?”
“Depends on the folks. Different carrots for different rabbits,” said Hooter, beginning to sight in his next target. “You think a paper is going to miss the chance to cover this? And you think name politicians are going to miss out on a chance to get in front of national TV and newspaper cameras? Those folks would line up just to be spectators if they thought they could get some face time.”
Charlie looked less than certain. “I think it might still be a stretch…”
“Besides,” interrupted Hooter. “Who says they'll know for sure what they're getting into until they're already there?”
“Oh, so now you're talking kidnapping.”
“No, not kidnapping. I swear, Charlie, sometimes I think our genes ran out before they got to you. There's a number of events I think the B.A.M.B.I association, as a consumer-interest organization, could invite these folks to, during the course of which a hunt might ensue.”
“Say you did do that. You might get it done once, then they'd throw you in the can afterward.”
“That's the beauty of it,” said Hooter. “B.A.M.B.I will be kind of like the IRS. You know they supposedly exist, and you send money to them, but you never see them or where the money goes. We'll be a known organization comprised of anonymous members.”
“But if you're unlucky you do see the IRS.”
Hooter rolled his eyes. “You get the drift. This can work. And, it's just the tip of the iceberg.”
Charlie didn't want to ask but he knew he was in too deep to quit struggling now. “I have to say, and I'd like to go back to the notion of these hunts, that they seem like more than the ice berg.”
“Nope, this is penny ante, cousin. It's all planned events and travel costs, too much overhead and not spontaneous enough for the long-haul.”
“Just imagine with me for an instant…”
“Oh, I can't help but imagine lots of things when I'm with you,” said Charlie.
“Just imagine with me for an instant. The next step is the National B.A.M.B.I Citizen's Patrol. For instance, you know how everywhere you drive these days it seem like folks, including the police have forgotten about the common courtesy of using a turn blinker? Someone cuts you off, falls asleep at the stop light, fails to yield and on and on, you pull out your special B.A.M.B.I paintball gun and let them know you don't appreciate it.”
“Hooter, that's the most crazy…”
“Think of it, if you have enough drivers packing, I bet the roads get a whole lot more safe. Next you could even have a B.A.M.B.I gun for the grocery store. Someone gets in the express line with too many items, or someone waits until their purchases are all rung up to start fishing for the checkbook they knew they'd be using when they got in line, or someone stays in line to go over their receipt and start playing Let's Make a Deal with the cashier, and blam! Or, how about those stumbling, weaving mall walkers…”
“Enough!,” said Charlie. “The concept has appeal no doubt, but you know it could never happen, so it's just wasted thought.”
“Ye of little faith,” said Hooter. “Don't come crying to me when I'm raking it in. But in the meantime, run on ahead there, Charlie, and tell me if this stings.”