By Jack Cawthon 2007
For several weeks I have been absent from this column space. (What? You hadn't noticed? Alas, fame is so fleeting!) Only now am I able to divulge my activities over those missing weeks.
I have been serving as an agent for an ultra-secret government agency, one so secret that it doesn't exist. My base of operations has been Big Puf, which, of course as we all know, doesn't exist either. (ha! ha!)
When I asked for approval to tell my reading audience of my secret activities, to my surprise my handlers approved. They released me from my oath of secrecy for the purpose of this column, expressing their views that so few people read it, and the ones who do don't understand the "drivel," I believe the word used, that I might tell all three whatever I chose. At this point, there was uncontrolled laughter. I thanked them for their confidence and understanding.
My adventures began one foggy day, or maybe there was thunder and lightening, as I was walking down aptly named High Street in downtown Morgantown. I was approached by a shaggy-bearded, long-haired, unkempt person who was muttering to himself. I guessed that he was one of Morgantown's numerous wandering homeless, who sometimes reside under the Westover Bridge, or a tenured professor who was instilling vast knowledge to young impressionable charges, most likely in the creative arts, or even journalism.
As he approached me, he slipped a piece of paper into my hand in which I held a quarter donation intended for a portion of his daily need. He took the quarter, which strengthened my belief that he was an educational professional, perhaps a department head.
When I glanced at the paper I saw that I had been instructed to meet the mysterious passerby at a well-know Morgantown establishment, which I had never frequented as it was a rumored hangout for liberals.
I was reminded in the note that I would be a patriot in service to my country if I were to follow instructions. ( I have always considered myself a patriot by voting the Republican ticket.)
Although my contact certainly fitted into the establishment's regulars, I was somewhat a standout with my gray hair, hiking boots, and a tee shirt promoting a Red Cross blood drive.
I won't disclose the details of our conversation, as most of it falls under the provisions of the Patriot Act. I was instructed to travel to Big Puf and meet a contact person there who operated the Over Easy Inn. I knew at once this could only be Homer Bob Pratlow, an aspiring writer who never learned to read so as to remain pure from the contamination of other writers.
At once I saw the cleverness of the operation as only the best brains in the spying business could conceive: an illiterate operative who certainly wouldn't be able to read the top secret documents and spill his guts to the enemy.
Homer Bob greeted me and when I gave him the secret handshake, which had been demonstrated to me as a combination of the Mason and Boy Scout grip, did he hand over documents.
When I sat down at a table to read them, alone except for Arley Cleeter, who I knew would burn anything I wished to destroy as fuel for his winter heating inventory of mostly books, I found the subject of all this cloak and dagger work was the Big Puf Orange Roughage Catfish.
Lo, it had been studied and, if I were to believe what I read, cloned for use in the George Junior Bush was on terror. I also became terrified myself as part of a spreading reaction in the country to the President's methods.
According to what I read, the Orange Roughage clones had broken out of their confinement and were now spreading to unknown parts of the country. As you may recall, the Orange Roughage can breathe equally well on land as in water and exists on massive pollution that can be found in highly acid mine runoff waters.
They have a sophisticated communications system transmitted through tiny whip-like antennae.
In a classified experiment they were to be cloned into small listening posts, traveling over the desert to detect and transmit messages from insurgent cells. I felt that only minds well seeped in government spy operations, or related solvents, could come up with such an intricate scheme such as this.
Orange Roughage Catfish
My assignment was to work closely with the Allegheny Front environmental group in Big Puf, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Orange Roughage's habitat, and to use all within our powers to keep the little scavenger confined, not allowing it to crossbreed with the escaped mutants.
Top level scientists, although not always the most level-headed, felt that the mutants were sterile and would not be able to reproduce. However, the same has been thought about our spy operations, but they continue to breed and reproduce and I was beginning to feel that I might have encountered a spawn.
Little did readers of the Herald know recently that they were seeing the results of a secret government operation gone awry when the story about the "Snakehead fish" appeared as a short item. See Are The Snakheads Coming?
That, my dear few readers, is the end result of the Orange Roughage experiment. I now have my work cut out. If I don't appear here for weeks at a time, be assured that my country needs me and that I am serving it to the best of my abilities, which may not give you quite all the assurances you require.
No verification of what you have just learned from me can be found in writing. It has all gone up in smoke. Arley Cleeter took the chill off a rainy morning just recently.