by: Wes Ishmael

“It's a whole lot like a casino, only louder and with no opportunity to win any of your money back.”

That's how Hooter described his recent trip to one of those theme hotels aimed at kids and their families, one with an indoor water park.

Hooter and Claire had taken Bugsy and her friend. Peetie and his wife took their grandkids. Delmar Jacobs took himself.

Aside from the eternal racket and the ironic reality that the water park had no actual swimming pool, Hooter had found it an insightful experience. Along with assessing the type of folks willing to stuff themselves into a vast array of beachwear, it gave Hooter a prime opportunity to reaffirm some of his closest held geographical beliefs.

Geographic Fortune Telling

Hooter figured you could tell and foretell a lot about people if you knew where they were from and even where their parents and grandparents came from.

“It's just like cattle,” Hooter would say. “We all know that further north you go, the straighter the genetics and the bigger the mama cows.”

There were cultural customs, of course, like it being true that the further north you traveled the less sweet iced tea became until the notion of ice and tea together became a novelty altogether; at least it had been the last time Hooter had been to Canada.

But there were social and economic values, too.

“Once you get to the Corn Belt, it seems like folks are more comfortable with the government involved in their business,” Hooter believed. “By the time you get clear North East, they don't seem to know any other way.”

“And think of property rights,” Hooter would say. “Not just whether or not we're entitled to own our own piece of ground but the views on trespassing.”

A ranching friend from South Dakota had told Hooter that he was puzzled by what he found to be the extreme trespassing views of his peers further south and west.

“At home, if we find someone on the ranch who isn't supposed to be there, we ask them,” Hooter's friend explained. “If they're not hurting anything, we leave them alone, but tell them we'd appreciate them letting us know the next time.”

“Property lines are there for a reason,” Hooter replied coldly. Then he recounted one of his favorite family stories of great Uncle Buster. He had come across a fence that had been cut recently on his family's ranch. He went through and tracked some hunters. Unfortunately for the hunters, Buster came across their pickup first. Even more unfortunately, the hunters had left their keys dangling in the ignition. Buster let the air out of all the tires, including the spare. Then he tossed the keys into the nearby Pecos River and left.

“Whatever happened to the hunters?” asked Hooter's pal.

“Huh?” asked Hooter, genuinely confused. “I don't know and I don't care. They had no right to be there.”

Howling Dissent

“Yankees scream louder, too,” Hooter said.

He was basing that on his recent experience at the water park with Hades Typhoon, proclaimed by the hotel to be the biggest, meanest, scariest water park ride ever conceived.

Standing in the long line, Hooter would strike up a conversation with the folks ahead of him and Bugsy, and then he'd listen for their howls as they entered the typhoon on a little yellow rubber raft.

Bugsy couldn't get enough of the ride. As soon as they came to a shuttering stop at the bottom, she raced back to the line. Once would have been more than plenty for Hooter, who was always the one sitting backwards on the raft as it entered the spinning cauldrons of Hades Typhoon.

“All I know is that it seemed like you spun forever and then the bottom dropped out and you just fell and fell, and then whoosh, it was all over,” Hooter told his cousin Charlie.

“Sounds like a decent bull ride,” Charlie allowed.

“Except for the fact that it was pitch black and you were hanging on backwards,” Hooter harrumphed.

For the record, Delmar Jacobs couldn't get enough of Hades Typhoon, either. He returned time after time with a broader smile and more vacant stare each time. In fact, the perpetual tinkerer was so enamored with the experience that upon returning home to Apache Flats he had constructed what he claimed to be the exact replica, only without water.

“I call it the Shrieking Dust Squaaaaal,” Delmar hiccupped.

From a distance, the apparatus looked a whole lot like a giant funnel feeding into another funnel that was parallel to and about 6 ft. above the ground. Just below the end of the spout was a pile of moldy hay bales, presumably to soften the exit of those willing to partake of the experience.

“How well constructed is that thing?” Peetie wondered.

“I used a tor-tor-torque wrench,” Delmar stuttered with pride.

So far, none of the boys had shown any interest in facing the Shrieking Dust Squall.


Ain't Nothing Free

A few days after returning from the water park, Hooter was bouncing through the pasture when a gleam in the distance caught his eye. He parked and got out his rifle with the scope so he could take a gander.

Hooter's blood boiled.

Standing in his very own deer stand on his very own property were two 30-something men decked out in all the camo Cabellas had to offer.

Hooter's eyes glazed and his finger twitched. He was tempted, so very tempted. Then, he had an idea.

Using his scope, Hooter found the intruder's pickup. He made his way there on foot. It was shaping up like a sequel Uncle Buster would enjoy. Hooter let the air out of all the tires, including the spare. He found the keys dangling in the ignition. He turned the key and honked and honked until he saw the trespassers clamber from their perch and take off running his direction. Best case, they figured there was big trouble. Worst case, they figured someone was stealing their pickup and honking goodbye.

Hooter pocketed the keys, hid in some brush and got the drop on them.

“Put those guns down nice and slow, then turn around even slower.”

They did.

“Now, try to explain to me what in the world you're doing on my private property, using my very own stand.”

“Ummm, er, well, ummmm.”

Nervous sweat was making a mess of the hunters' carefully applied face paint.

Finally, one of them mistakenly got up some nerve: “Look, we were just taking pot shots at some hogs. They're everywhere out there. We're not hurting anything. It's no big deal.”

“No big deal!” Hooter shouted. “Either of you two ever try to make a land payment when you weren't even sure where grocery money was coming from?”

The pair of offenders looked at each other and at the ground.

“No big deal!” Hooter shouted again. “The big deal is you're trespassing. The big deal is that this is private property. The big deal is that the sweat and toil poured into this ground over the years was not so that people I've never met before could go joy-riding over it whenever they get the notion. The big deal is that neither one of you even thought about those things.”

“Um, errr, um, well…” stammered one. “We didn't mean anything by it, honest. And we're sorry, let us go and you'll never see us again.”

Hooter had to chuckle at that one. “Oh, I'll let you go. And, you'd better hope and pray that I never do see you again after I do.”

The pair breathed out a sigh of relief.

“I can either take you to the law and let you go, or…”

“Or?” asked the two intruders in unison.

“You boys ever hear of the Shrieking Dust Squall?”

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