By Jack Cawthon|
For some time I had heard rumors of a militant right wing group
operating in the vicinity of Big Puf. I decided to investigate. After
several weeks of pestering Burvil for information he finally relented
and told me to come on down and that he would take me to an armed
stronghold. First, however, he demanded that I bring some
"necessities" of life for him, which I won't detail here as he is
still a minor and I don't want to be accused of corrupting a source in
my role as professional journalist.
We set out one morning up a tortuous trail on the side of Big Puf
Mountain. Along about noon as we rested a shot rang out, then the
whole mountain seemed to explode with machine gun fire and with what
sounded like mortars with a few grenades thrown in for good
All of the commotion didn't faze me in the least as I had gone through
numerous Preston County deer seasons. But poor Burvil lay on the
ground whimpering like an uprooted groundhog.
I thought the kid had been hit. As he lay there he was violently
jabbing his hand in the air, motioning over my shoulder. As I turned,
there she was, dressed in fatigues and brandishing what looked liked a
I was facing the notorious Granny Pratlow who I had heard so much
about, leader of a splinter group broken off from both the NRA and
AARP and known as the Gray Bandoliers. As I eyed her she pointed her
cane in my direction and a high-powered rifle shot rang out. A twig
was clipped just above my ear.
As I jumped she cackled with glee. "How'd you like them apples,
sonny? Bought this here cane through Medicare and modified it a mite
with a kit off'n the Internet." Again, she cackled, I thought a
little too hysterically.
Then, as if on cue, I heard the sound of revved-up engines and four or
five all-terrain wheelchairs zoomed over the ridge. They looked as if
they were armed with miniature rocket launchers. Behind them came a
column of bedraggled oldsters all with walkers or canes.
"Meet my army, boy," and Granny waved her hand and the group clicked
to attention with the clack of aged bones, dentures and prosthetic
devices. I knew that I had a story here provided I lived to tell it,
but to a trained professional like me fear was the last thing on my
mind as I had learned years ago at a major university to publish or
I looked Granny in the eye and asked her to tell me her story. Why
had she been driven to this remote mountain to take up arms? "It's
the rotten, stinkin' Govmint!" and she spit an amber stream. In
addition to violence, Granny rubbed snuff, which I hesitated to tell
her might shorten her lifespan afraid that it might shorten mine as
"Don't you read the Constitution, sonny?" she asked with vehemence. I
told her I couldn't understand oil and gas leases, my homeowners
insurance, or the DNR hunting regulations let alone antique government
"Don't get smart with me, you young whippersnapper!" she yelled, and I
promised I wouldn't if she would just lower her cane. Burvil still
lay on the ground trembling and moaning in sequence.
But I felt the question needed answered, so fearlessly through
trembling lips I asked it: What is it about the government that you
She spit again, wiped her lips on a sleeve, looked me in the eye with
a tic in hers, and said "We don't want no government messing in our
lives. Just give us more Medicare, Medicaid, more, more, more…" and
she seemed on the verge of apoplexy. I thought it was time to move
But, living dangerously, there was one last question. I asked her if
she didn't feel that maybe the young were being shortchanged by all
the resources channeled for her purposes.
She replied with an expression that I have heard used only by
teenagers and by seasoned deer hunters in regard to the DNR's
regulations and landowners who post their land.
I felt that I had pushed my luck, so I dragged Burvil off the ground
and started down the mountain. Granny yelled after me, "Tell George
W. Bush he can go_______," and she said some awful words that I had
never heard from a senior citizen. She punctuated them with an
upraised gesture that I assume meant victory.
Burvil asked if I thought I might win a "Wurlitzer" with my story. I
told him I would see how it played first in the Hur Herald.