CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Big Puf Question: Is Bobby Gene Bubba a Hostage or a Love Slave?

By Jack Cawthon 2006
Many journalists who report the news are not always granted legitimate status; some are known as illegitimate, or quite often by a more common name implying parentage.

At an advanced age I determined to prove myself capable of reporting breaking news and gain the recognition I had long cherished. I chose Big Puf and the Tri-Holler region as my news beat (not be-at), most notably as there was no competition from other news hunters or gatherer. I have always hated competition, as I always came in last in competitive sports, for example.

I had the advantage in that no other reporters had been able to locate Big Puf, although I have, from time to time, given directions for finding it, but I have always lacked a sense of direction, or as my bosses discovered, taking directions. Many satellite trucks have been ditched and mired in the muck of country roads as those valiant crews who present news in pictures with few words for wordless audiences strive to scoop me on covering events.

I am attempting to pay back for all those years spent creating the news on government assignments. In fact, had I chosen to continue in my past life during the glow of government-bestowed pension, I would have become, no doubt, a writer of notable fiction, as my training could not have been better.

This prelude brings me to a major news event in Big Puf that would have made front pages around the country had my colleagues known of it. As it is, dear readers, you will be the first to read of a big story that only I will report. As you may note, I have violated all established rules of journalism by spending four paragraphs (known as "grafs" professionally, but sometimes becoming gaffes) getting into the story instead of honoring the who, what, where and all that journalistic rot in the opening sentence, so as to pique your interest, as I figure to pique you off sufficiently as I go along.

And here it comes: A hostage situation has developed in Big Puf! (According to journalistic principles, which I have taken with a grain of salt, if not a couple of aspirins, I should have had this as a lead (not led) and avoided an exclamation point. But I figure those of you who have nothing better to do than to read this stuff have plenty of time to join me in a little idle chatter before I hit you with the bombshell, and, hence, the exclamation point. Let's get on with it, so pay attention.)

Granny Pratlow, leader of the militant Gray Bandoliers, a guerrilla squad of "seniors" (I prefer old folks myself, but I strive to be politically correct) ousted from AARP, but not known whether for militancy or failure to pay dues, has kidnapped Bobby Gene Bubba, state delegate representing the Tri-Holler district. Granny demands, not money ransom, but an explanation of the new Medicare drug benefits before releasing him. No immediate release is foreseen soon, or in the coming decade.

Bobby Gene gained recent national attention for a new diet book. Diet books are all the rage and Bobby Gene has always been noted for creating rage. His book, entitled the West Virginia Legislative Budget Digest Diet, advocates a liberal helping of gravy for every appetite. There have been no reports of weight losses, Bobby Gene has gained 50 pounds in two weeks, but folks who have received it claim that fat has never been so welcomed. The book has been especially popular in the Moorefield area, where the new community college has made it required reading in several of its classes.

The Gray Bandoliers have been well trained in terrorist tactics by the fearsome leadership of Granny Pratlow, who is rumored to be the illegitimate daughter of Mother Jones of coal field union organization fame. Her band has acquired those personal mobility scooters advertised on television for Medicare recipients and modified them with oversized wheels, brush guards, and souped-up engines, making them into fearful growling all-terrain vehicles.

Granny has provided her force with canes and walkers with installed weapons of mass destruction that would make James Bond and George Bush take notice. There is a report of a secret training camp in the upper reaches of Little Wheeze crick, and there have been rumors that bin Laden may be in hiding in that vicinity. The CIA has not been able to locate even Little Wheeze, and so far has not called on me for assistance, perhaps because of my criticism of the Iraq war.

Most folks think that Bobby Gene's chances of release are rather slim, the only slim feature about him. As there is little understanding of the new Medicare drug provisions, Granny may have a long prescribed wait. However, there is another side to this story, a sexual angle. (This is an attention getter that isn't taught in journalism school, but does sell newspapers.)

A romantic interest has long been rumored between Granny and Bobby Gene. So, there may have been a ruse to separate Bobby Gene from his wife and six kids and place him into the arms of Granny. Stay tuned for the rest of the story. As I am the only reporter on the scene, I may take my good, old time in telling it. You'll get it when I feel like writing it.

Sometimes it's hard to overcome my attitude fostered by years of government service.