By Jack Cawthon 2007

For the past several weeks I have been spending quality time in Big Puf, ever vigilant for any sign of terrorism, especially from our own government.

If you have been paying attention, probably not, I brought to your attention some time back the plight of the Big Puf Orange Roughage Catfish, and somehow its mutation into a species called the Snakehead fish, which is now plaguing our waterways.

My own investigations here in Morgantown uncovered a direct source into high level, if rather lowbrow, spy activity that had penetrated into Big Puf and the Orange Roughage.

As a brief review, I can say with some degree of modesty, if not 180, that I discovered and announced to the world the existence of the quaint little fish. Once on a visit to Big Puf, my special escape from the hassles of life living within the shadow of the state's largest mental institution, I happened one day to note the usual reddish orange stains in Big Puf Crick strangely disappearing.

Lester T. Archibald IV, coal baron and operator of the Degenerated Mining Company, had long been a polluter of the Big Puf watershed. Although he had had numerous fines of as much as $150 and told not to do it again by government regulators, he never seemed to learn. To my amazement when I mentioned to the locals how much the crick had improved , I was told that a new type of "fish" had emerged that thrived on the gook from Archibald's coal operations.

I was able to examine one of the new little creatures, and, viola, as we say in music, I saw a solution to coal waste pollution. But, alas, tragedy soon struck. In one of those flukes of extracting coal, Archibald had struck a vein of pure, sweet water in his Black Hole No. 6 mine. No sooner had the water reached Big Puf Crick than the Orange Roughage began turning belly upward.

Word soon spread that the unique species was in trouble.

Environmental regulators came by droves. Whereas, Archibald may have been in deep pollution before, he now found himself deeper, not in the waterborne type, but the kind that spread from the fan.

He was threatened not only by fines, but of being drawn and quartered, a device once used on heretics and I thought discontinued, but found that it had been revived by some of our allies across the waters.

Archibald was immediately forced to suspend mining operations until a new source of pollution could be found. He soon found it. By dumping concentrated sulfuric acid along with some ingredients he would not disclose—he said it was a trade secret and that he might patent the process—the quaint little fish began to spring back to life.

Over time, the Orange Roughage was found living out of water and traveling on land. It was seen foraging on the banks of Big Puf Crick and consuming garbage dumps and other byproducts of a throw-away hill culture.

However, I have always discounted the story told by Okey Hanshaw that he once came upon a school of Orange Roughages gathered around an old abandoned Buick Roadmaster drinking the transmission fluid. Okey has a tendency to exaggerate.

This is a brief summary of where matters stood in Big Puf, at least until recently when the terrible Snakehead showed up in newspaper headlines. It, too, amazingly, has the ability to travel on land, and many of the traits of the Orange Roughage, except it isn't the least bit cute.

I had seen a small note in Time Magazine recently where the rumor has been sweeping Iran that the U. S. is using squirrels for surveillance. Not squirrels, I thought, but fish! What could be cleverer than fish in the desert! In fact, it was so ingenious that I felt our government couldn't have come up with the idea. But about this time, THEY found me, although I had the feeling that THEY had never lost me. I was contacted by one of the undercover operatives who move in underground Morgantown. (I might add that there are more spooks around town than in a Scottish castle at Halloween.)

I was told that my country needed me due to my vast knowledge of Big Puf, which gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. I was sworn to secrecy and I am telling only the few, the very, very, few of you who read this, knowing quite well that you won't disclose to anyone that you do read this stuff.

A secret experiment involving the Orange Roughage had gone terribly, terribly wrong is all you need to know. My country needs me in Big Puf, and that is all I need to know at the moment.

I do have an arrangement to meet from time to time with my "source" in one of Morgantown's cultural hangouts where poetry is read, coffee is diluted with milk in strange sounding French drinks, and a woman sometimes plays a psaltery. I know that it must be high-class if it has a woman who plays a psaltery. I hope she plays country music.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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