Friday, November 13, 2009

Raccoon Mountain

Other than practicing law, there existed three other things I could cite as "job related experience" on my resume:  dishwasher, cubicle rat, and lawn boy.  Tired of loitering around the house in sandals, boxer shorts, a t-shirt and a robe, and my back aching from sleeping on the couch, where I had been relegated to by my wife
after the Smoky Balls incident, I focused my efforts on becoming gainfully employed as a lawyer, once again.  I shaved my beard.  Three weeks later I was employed as an associate at a large firm, and finally had sex with my wife instead of my right hand.

As for The Engineer and I, we had ceased to be on speaking terms.  He had accused me of selling out.  I had accused him of being a half-witted mooncalf.  The coupe de grace was when he poured sugar in my gas tank.  I swore that I would never talk to him again, much at the urging of my wife.  

Law practice was just as wonderful as it had always been, working sixty-plus hours a week, gen'ing billable hours for work that may, or may not have been actually accomplished, all in a cold, soulless environment where nary a laugh could be heard.  The judges were still dyspeptic, opposing counsel was still zealously uncivil, and the clients were still out of their ever-loving minds.  Practice was still a high-paying, meaningless endeavor; the kind that makes being an artist subsisting on a meager diet of Ramon Noodles look attractive.  

"So, I have this condition," said Gerald, my client.  "See, here is the note from my therapist," he said handing it to me.  "I have this turtle.  His name is Gomer. I would take Gomer to work with me in a box, and let him hang out in my cubicle.  Gomer helps calm my nerves and keep me from--," Gerald choked up.  I slid a box of tissue across my desk to him.  Gerald took a handful and trumpeted a few ounces of mucous into them, and laid the soppy tissues on my desk.  "I got fired."

"Because of the turtle," I said.

Gerald looked at me, indignant.  "Yes, because of the turtle.  Because of Gomer.  What else?"

"Gomer is a 'he'?"

"Yes," said Gerald.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"What does that have to do with my discrimination suit?" asked Gerald.

"There is no suit yet.  We're just talking about whether you may have an employment claim.  We've got to figure that out before we file a petition with the court.  Is the turtle--um, Gomer--is he the only reason that you were terminated?"

"No," confessed Gerald.  "Also, part of my therapy is to laugh out loud for fifteen minutes every hour."

"Really," I said.  "And where would you exercise that part of your therapy."

"At my desk!  Where else?"

"You couldn't go outside and laugh?"

"No," said Gerald.  "I have terrible allergies.  I have to laugh inside."

My phone rang.  My secretary said I had a call from a man that would only identify himself as "The Engineer," and that it was vitally important that he speak to me that very moment; something about saving the planet from utter destruction.  I rolled my eyes.  "Excuse me, Gomer--ah, I mean, Gerald.  Important call I got to take."

"I'm not important?" protested Gerald.

"You are, you are very important.  Just give me a moment.  This will be really quick," I assured him.

"Dude, you've got come with me," The Engineer said frantically on the other end of the line.

"Stop right there," I said.  "I thought my wife had made it clear to you that you were never to speak to me again."

"I know, I know, goddamit, but listen.  This is it.  This is big.  We have a chance to become national heroes.  We'll be on the cover of Mother Jones.  I've got The Cube gassed up and a bag full of soda and chocolate ho-ho's.  I'm waiting out in front of the building.  We are going to West Virginia to stop a mountain top mining operation."

"What's this 'we' shit," I said.  "I'm not going anywhere.  I've got a good job," I lied.  "It is way passed due to give up these follies.  You can go without me.  Now leave me alone."

"Come on, man," implored The Engineer.  "We have a chance to make history.  This is going to be fucking spectacular.  We are going to save a mountain.  Do I need to remind you?  Drawing clarity from the opaque, shining light into darkness, confronting ignorance with brilliance, and strangling boredom with competent absurdity and critique of postmodern interpretive--" I hung up.

I considered Gerald for a moment.  "Could I get you to wait here for just a moment?  I will be right back," I said, nonchalantly walking out of my office before he could protest.  I walked by my secretary, putting on my jacket, and in a very easy-going manner told her I would be right back, but to hold my calls.  I could hear Gerald begin laughing in my office as my colleagues and staff came out of their nooks and crannies to take stock of the offending noise.

The elevator doors opened and I shuffled past one of the elderly partners of the firm who was getting off.  "Sir," I saluted.  He grunted in response.  I pushed for ground floor, whistling, with my hands clenched behind my back, the twenty-five floors to the street.  The doors opened to the lobby.  I walked calmly, waving to the security guard.  A few yards from the door I could contain myself no longer and broke into a hair-on-fire sprint, burst through the revolving doors, and dove headlong into the passenger seat of The Cube.  The Engineer revved the engine in neutral, dropped it into drive and we were off in a flash of smoke.

Hours later and before dawn, hopped up on ho-ho's and pop, armed with fifty pounds of sugar, dressed in black, with smudge camouflaging our faces, we stood looking through the tall chain link fence that surrounded the work yard of Massey Energy.  There were twenty or so trucks loaded down with explosives, ready to deploy that morning to a nearby mountain whose destiny it was to be blown to kingdom come to expose the coal beneath it.  The resulting rubble was to be transported to fill in, and bury, an adjacent valley.

With steel clippers in hand, The Engineer sliced a line in the bottom section of fence, enabling us to pull back the edges wide enough for us to pass through.  We gave each other a thumbs-up, and with backpacks full of sugar, we stealthily high stepped it to the trucks ahead.  I unscrewed the gas cap of one of the trucks, and stopped.  "Did you hear that?" I whispered to The Engineer.  The Engineer shook his head in the negative.  I finished unscrewing the cap as The Engineer held up the first bag of sugar to empty in the tank.

Flood lights lit the yard up, causing The Engineer and I to jump to our feet.  We were surrounded by a couple of dozen humorless looking goons with automatic weapons pointed right at our heads.  A man with a fat face and a little sheriff mustache walked through the platoon of armed men and stood in front of us.

"How you all doing dismornin'," said the man as he chuckled.  "Let me introduce myself.  My name's Don Blankenship, the proprietor of this here operation."  It was Blankenship, the fat bastard, CEO, of Massey Energy that had been blowing up West Virginia's mountains, and burying her valleys, polluting the water, and generally devastating the Appalachian ecosystem, for years, while donating staggering amounts of money to politicians, mostly Republican.  In consideration of his coal fortune, once a year, during the holidays, he would personally hand out frozen turkeys to the toothless, mentally-stunted hillbillies that inhabited the surrounding area.

"I'd like you to meet my friends from the Blackwater organization," he said pointing to the armed men behind him.  "These good Christian mercenaries help to take care of mischief makers like you."

"Good morning," said The Engineer to the Blackwater guards.  His salutation was reciprocated with stoic silence.  "Rude," The Engineer muttered.

"Well, boys, I'm kinda busy this morning."  Blankenship snapped his fingers and the Blackwater guards were all over us like a rash.  "Enjoy your last sunrise," said the fat fuck, laughing.  Before we could say global warming The Engineer and I had been bound and fastened, on our backs (so we could enjoy the sunrise, as one of the guards put it) with duck tape to the hood of a Hummer, and driven out of the yard with the convoy of explosives laden trucks rolling out behind us.        

We bumped along for a long while over what felt like an uneven, pothole ridden, mountain road, ever ascending.  Finally the Hummer came to a stop in the middle of a clearing.  It was the mountain top that was to go up, along with us, in a mighty plume of dirt and fire, shaved bald in preparation for the festivity.  Men were hustling about all around us packing explosives in holes that had been previously excavated.  After a while the frenetic comings and goings of the workers subsided.  A Blackwater guard appeared standing over the hood looking down on The Engineer and me.

"This looks like the end of the line for you, dick wads," said the guard.  Looking at his watch, he added, "You have exactly an hour.  Enjoy the fireworks."

What we didn't know was that a safe distance away planned protests were in full swing by a number of environmental groups, and had attracted the media.  Vans and talking heads from all the major and cable networks had set up shop to cover the event.  In attendance was CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX who had brought with them a gaggle of idiot tea baggers that had somehow been convinced that blowing up mountains for coal was a good thing and had an amorphous connection with their personal freedom from government intrusion.  Also, there was The Engineer's wife and kids, and mine, searching through the crowd of thousands for us.

As it turns out, the day before, The Engineer's wife had stumbled upon a notebook, authored by The Engineer, that outlined, in excruciating detail, our plan to sabotage the trucks and take the mountain, thus saving the environment and gaining some sorely needed publicity for The Lawyer and The Engineer.  She contacted my wife and told her all about it, and they arrived a few hours later by plane and a rented minivan.

My wife happened to be standing next to Don Blankenship, by the FOX News van, when she over heard him mutter to another Massey executive there, "Don't worry.  The whole thing is taken care of.  When the mountain goes," he said looking down at his watch, "in fifteen minutes, there wont be a thing left of those two morons."

After forty-five minutes of contemplating the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, The Engineer and I were quickly coming to terms with our shared fates.  We recited our mission statement together.  The Engineer said with a quivering voice, "I love you, man."

Tears streamed down the side of my face.  "I love you, brother."  Then I noticed an eagle circling over head.  I thought of Soaring Eagle and what he had told us out on the reservation about the universe and the spirit world.

At that moment a raccoon, my animal spirit, with whom I had become acquainted in Smoky Balls, popped its head over the top of the grill of the Hummer close to our feet.  We stared at each other.  "Get out of here, little fellow.  We are all about to be blown to bits," I said.

"Do what?" asked the raccoon, looking confused.

"You heard me," I said.  "Get going, unless you want to get atomized along with us."

The Engineer looked at me, puzzled.  "Who in the hell are you talking to?"

"The raccoon.  Who do you think?"

"Wow, you're really losing it," said The Engineer.  "This is bad, bad, bad," he blubbered.

I shushed The Engineer and resumed my conversation with the raccoon.  "This mountain is going to blow any moment now.  You have to leave."  The raccoon climbed down from the hood of the Hummer as The Engineer and I were mumbling our prayers, which were interrupted by a tapping on the windshield from inside the SUV.  We craned our heads to see the raccoon inside the car waving at us, excited.

"The keys, the keys!  They left the keys in the car!" yelled the raccoon.  The engine beneath turned over and rumbled to life.  Then there was a click noise, and the Hummer began to slowly move forward.  "Ha-ha!  I'm driving, I driving!" shouted the raccoon, holding the steering wheel, jumping up and down in the drivers seat, as the Hummer idled forward and picked up momentum heading straight for the forest and down a steep incline.

My wife was giving Blankenship what-not.  "What did you say, you fat fuck?  Are you talking about my husband and his reprobate friend?  Where are they?"  Several cameras trained on the commotion between my wife and Blankenship.  "I heard what you said."  My wife bleated to who ever would listen.  "My husband and his retarded friend are on that mountain.  They're going to get blown up!"

The Hummer rumbled down the side of the mountain, narrowly missing trees and jumping ravines.  The SUV went up on two wheels as it struck a large green, and metal box that looked like a transformer, demolishing it to pieces.  As things would have it, that box was the relay station for the multiple lines connected to the detonators above, and we disabled it, saving the mountain.

The Engineer and I screamed at the top of our lungs, as the raccoon laughed hysterically.  At least on the top of the mountain we were destined for a quick and painless death by explosion, but now it looked as if we were to get dashed into a tree and skip across a few boulders before having the Hummer, driven by a raccoon, rolled over us.  I was feeling unapologetically irritated.

After what seemed an eternity of bouncing down the side of the mountain, we finally leveled off into a clearing where there was a large group of people gathered.  People were hustling, jumping and diving to avoid being ran over by the maniacal raccoon.  The Hummer was running out of momentum, but still moving quick enough to pack a punch as we approached a van that said FOX News where a fat bastard, with a cheesy little mustache, was wrestling with a woman that looked a hell of a lot like my wife. 

The woman looked straight at us coming straight at her.  She jumped out of the way in a nick of time.  The last thing Blankenship saw before being struck unconscious and having his clavicle, femur and eight ribs broken was the large silver letters "HUMMER" and the faces, contorted with excitement, of The Engineer, the raccoon and me.  Having cleanly ran over Blankenship, the Hummer came to a stop as it crashed into the Fox News van.

A bunch of itchy looking environmentalist ran to the Hummer and peeled The Engineer and me loose.  The raccoon, not particularly fond of large social gatherings of hairless apes, jumped ship and ran for the woods, but not before stopping and waving to me.  I waved backed, smiling.

"Daddy!  Daddy!" yelped my daughters running to me.  I bent down to hug them as they crashed into me, knocking me over.  The sun was blotted from the sky by the head of my wife standing over us.  I stood at attention.  We looked into each others eyes.  She grabbed my face and kissed me passionately.  The crowd cheered and clapped.

The Engineer's wife and kids ran to him, smothering him in hugs and kisses.  Cameras and microphones jockeyed all around us.  The questions were flying at us quicker than we could hear them.

That was the day the world was introduced to The Lawyer and The Engineer as flat screen TV's the globe over were occupied by our discombobulated, smudged faces in high definition.  The Engineer and I raised our fists in solidarity to the wild cheers of our adoring fans.

Gerald, watching the news with Gomer, couldn't believe his eyes, as he turned the TV off and called his therapist.


  1. You make the mistake of assuming I could read the writing in said Engineer's journal- if he'd keep one (which he never would you know).

    Could Blankenship see the raccoon too?

  2. That might be something that needs to be clarified in a re-write. The raccoon is a real raccoon, but only the lawyer can communicate with it.