A Fella’s Gotta Eat

May 5, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Posted in Fiction | 3 Comments
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For this week’s challenge, we had to include dinosaurs in the story. Finally, something I could sink my teeth into. Secretly, this is a mashup–see if you can guess what other genre or genres are in play.
To read more, stop by the Jurassic Park cafeteria here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Love Dinosaurs

The Masked Man shifted uncomfortably in his chair.  The sheriff pressed on.
“Well, Reid?  Come on.  Do you want the job or not?”
“This is not—see, normally what we do—“
“Yeah, yeah.  Truth, justice, the American dream.  Not my problem.  What *is* my problem is them animals down in Lizard Valley Gulch.  Eatin’ livestock and so forth.”
The Masked Man caught his companion’s worried look and misinterpreted it.  “Fine.  We’ll do it.”  The men stood up and shook hands.  There was a glint in the eyes behind the mask.  “I expect to get paid when we get back.”  He looked around.  “Saddle up, Tonto.”

The two men were quiet for most of the ride.  Tonto was simmering on the inside.  *I have to say something to this ridiculous fucker.  He’s lost the vision.  And his mind.* As he was about to speak, Reid spoke up.
“’Tonto.’  That’s a funny name for an Injun.  Rather atypical.”
“Kemosabe, we need to have a discussion about your recent decisions, especially where you seem to have lost focus on our original mission statement.”  He was glad to finally get it out.
“That’s another thing.  ‘Kemosabe.’  I can’t help but think you’re calling me a son-of-bitch in your native tongue.”
“No, it’s merely an informal greeting from a dead aboriginal language.  The connotation is positive.  But look, Reid, I have to take issue with this current mission.  This is not what I signed on for.  We’re supposed to be searching for truth, justice, law and order, and so forth, while blindly turning our back to the federal government’s hypocritical eminent domain ideology.”
Reid turned and stared at Tonto.  “You got a problem with that, cowboy?”
“What?  Me?  No, I’m all in.  I know how to pick a winning horse.  A fella’s got to eat.”
“Well, Sundance, that’s what *this* is all about:  A fella’s got to eat.  They’re paying us for this extermination job.  In case you haven’t noticed, lofty ideas about fighting the good fight may get you laid but it sure don’t get you paid.  A fella’s got to eat.”
They trotted along for a short distance before Reid said, “Hey, I started to ask about your name–?”
The swarthy Italian hushed him and pointed.  They had a panoramic view of the valley below.  From their vantage point they observed a small stampede of about three dozen head of cattle, running scared and making hysterical cow noises.
“What the Zeus?”  The two observed two creatures they had never seen before, about twice the size of a large bull but standing upright like a bear—or a…a bird, or something.  The animals screeched horrifically and seemed to be able to jump amazing distances—onto their prey.  One cow went down in a bloody fashion and the rest of the herd scattered like giant roaches.
“I’m getting the fu—shit, Tonto, where’d you go?”  His answer was a trail of dust not heading away, but heading *toward* the carnage.  *That crazy sumbitch.* The Masked Man shook his head and followed, because the sidekick is not allowed to show up the hero.  He read that in the manual.
By the time he got down to the scene, just a few minutes behind Tonto, he saw that friend had already dismounted and was approaching the now sated and tired animals with a noose.  He observed him walk quietly and confidently up to them, whispering and making clucking noises.  He slipped the noose easily around the neck of one of the beasts while stroking its rough, dry neck.  The creature purred loudly.  To Reid it sounded like a Buick with a bad muffler.
He followed suit, gathering his noose like Tonto.  He noticed that they seemed to be lizards of some type, but they weren’t no Gila monsters.  More like a giant bird.  Tonto said, “Careful, Reid.  Do like this,” and he made the noises that seemed to hypnotize and calm the beast.  He got his noosed as well.
“Now what?”
“Now?  Now we ride.”  With that, Tonto swung up on his animal’s back.  The creature cawed like a bird.  A big bird.  A big blue and green bird, with orange feathers around its neck.  Reid did the same.
They spent the better part of a week with the creatures, learning them.  They were oddly docile towards the men, but their horses fared slightly worse.  They didn’t need to eat every day, and they had just had a big meal.  But after four days, the fragrant aroma of horse got to be too much for them, and they ate Tonto’s mount.  He was heartbroken, but his saddle didn’t need much adjustment to fit his new mount, who he named “Robin.”
The Masked Man did the same, setting his horse free.  Silver was a good horse, but he had the wild look of fear in eyes that only happens in thunderstorms or when you’re attacked by zombies.  Reid named his new mount, “Batman.”  When Tonto asked why, he said, “Came to me in a dream.”
They began their long ride back into town.  These creatures had an odd gait, but no worse than a horse at a gallop.  And they were *fast.*
“Are you ever going to tell me the deal with your name?”
“Oh, that.”  Tonto spoke nonchalantly.  “The chief of my tribe had it in for my dad—that’s part of why I left them yahoos.  But the chief had naming rights on all babies.  “He named me ‘Goat’s Afterbirth.’  That makes it hard to get laid in high school, for real.”
“So when I left, I renamed myself ‘Tonto.”
“What’s that mean?”
They continued to ride in silence.
Reid was lost in thought when Tonto broke his daze.  “What the hell are you smiling about?”
The Masked Man said, “Oh, I was just thinking about how fighting for truth and justice is going to be a whole new ballgame now.”
Tonto laughed.  “Kemosabe, you’re a sonuvabitch.”



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  1. Very cute, but somehow “Hi ho, Batman, awayyyyyy,” will take a bit of getting used to. (Am now making galloping sounds with my fingers on my desk.)

    • You’re supposed to use coconut shells…

  2. This was a real pleasure to read. I smiled all the way. Loved it. : )))

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