CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - The Orange Roughage Thrives, The Saga Continues

(07/06/2001)

By Jack Cawthon

Big Puf was forever changed with the discovery of an endangered species living in the waters of Big Puf Crick. The Orange Roughage Catfish had adapted to massive pollution. Its continued existence depended on more of the same.

At first feeding on the orange sludge from acid mine drainage it was soon forced to adapt to other sources of pollution once that supply dwindled from cleaner coal mining.

Responsibility fell hard on the shoulders of local coal baron Lester T. Archabald IV as he first mined the dirty coal that brought about the conditions for the Orange Roughage's existence and then doomed it when his mining efforts located cleaner coal seams.

An endangered species is an endangered species and it did Archabald little good to whine that coal barons were endangered also. He could little change the attitudes of the environmentalists who hounded him from both directions.

No stronger protector of the endangered fish or fowl-hang the endangered coal barons!-could be found than the Allegheny Front, self-proclaimed militant pacifists, who quickly moved into Big Puf to look after its latest cause, the Orange Roughage.

Led by Alf Vader, the group set up temporary quarters alongside the crick and soon they were adding their own pollution to the water, relieving Archabald of some of the massive expense of shipping in contaminates.

Vader, it was rumored, once held a high-level position with a national environmental organization. However, he was let go, some said, after his superiors learned that he went cruising at night, picking up women of the street, who he paid to talk environmentally to him.

Vader formed the Allegheny Front for just such an emergency as that which now existed in Big Puf. He was supported in his efforts by the newly formed Cleanliness Reduction for Utmost Dirt (CRUD) coalition which emphasized that all parties must understand that when an endangered species such as the Orange Roughage is threatened by cleanliness no excuses will be tolerated in providing it with the necessary pollution for its survival.

Vader spoke with the conviction of the evangelist when he was asked about the human lives that might be threatened by the polluted waters of Big Puf Crick.

"What are human lives worth," he proclaimed, "when one pits a natural rarity against a worldwide commonality? There is only one Orange Roughage, but far too many people," he cried amidst the cheers of his followers.

One of those affected lives is that of Lester Archabald. He is now a shadow of his former self, a man who once lived high on the hog with expensive personal tastes, who provided jobs for a multitude of workers whose very livelihood depended on his mine, paid burdensome taxes and who supported civic and charitable organizations.

He now wanders the back roads muttering to himself, with tobacco juice dripping from the corners of his mouth, as his fortune is consumed by the government for continued pollution of a watershed now extended over the whole tri-holler region.

However, through his efforts-and money-the Orange Roughage is thriving, especially after the recent release of nuclear wastes approved by the Allegheny Front and supplied by the U. S. government from the hazardous weapons disposal aid to the former USSR. As a local wag said, in regard to the long-term effects of radiation, "better a healthy afterglow than a mushroom pallor."

The Orange Roughage is now flourishing nicely-and evolving. Okey Hanshaw swears that he saw several of them out of the water and at one of the dumps up a holler. While some were sucking up fluid from an old Buick transmission others were gathered around some discarded refrigerators sniffing Freon gas.

The adaptation of the fish to land may provide support for the evolutionists but it poses major problems for the environmentalists. If the dumps, which have existed for decades, are consumed then the food supply must be expanded to include not only water pollution but increased pollution of the countryside.

A whole new concept of refuse disposal may take place. What was once considered a problem commodity may now be considered vital to an endangered species. Big Puf may become the disposal capital of the country.

In a way, that won't be new to those who have known the lifestyle of the holler. Its people have always been considered discards in a society that is built on upward mobility measured by material achievements.

It took an endangered species and some dirty thinking to bring about an attitude adjustment that trash can be beautiful. In the Latin I think it's referred to as "sick transit societie."

2001


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