by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Johnny Hart was new to wild game hunting. This kind was made for him. Life had devolved from being a popular game show host to hosting recreation jaunts for stars as their fetch-it boy. “Let me get this straight.” His eyebrows crawled up his skull in astonishment as he spoke.
“Mister Bigshot wants to shoot a wild buffalo and bring its head back to civilization as a trophy. He flies out here to this Utah preserve. He gets handed a gun. A forklift drops food over a fence. The beast comes looking for lunch. Bang. It falls down dead. That’s it.”
An open palm greeted him. Forty thousand dollars exchanged hands. Things never stay easy, do they? Mister Bigshot wanted something special. Bragging rights for stars is all important. “A two headed buffalo?” Johnny Hart figured killing two of the critters while in a blind drunk might do the trick. “Sure. It’ll cost you, but it can be arranged.”
The going-away party got Mister Bigshot flying before he ever left the ground. Coked up with a bottle of whiskey in hand, the star was seeing double and shooting two headed starlet's with the tip of his finger when Johnny Hart escorted him alone out into the starry night. The arrival at the preserve went off without a hitch. “No. Point the gun that way, sir.”
Was he seeing things? Johnny Hart stopped to rub his eyes. Was that a real two headed buffalo pawing the ground waiting before them? It was. “Here, bully, bully.” The star of this show beckoned, tripped over himself and bang. He was dead. One headless corpse collapsed along with Johnny Hart’s future, when the word got out his charge had accidentally shot himself.
The sound of the gun sent the two headed buffalo running deeper into the preserve. It gave the chilled sweat on Johnny Hart's skull time to evaporate and his beetle brows time to settle down. It also gave him an idea. Johnny Hart needed time to figure things out. “What’s a hunt without hunting? We’ll have to go deeper into the wilderness to flush out our quarry. Who knows how much time that will take? Makes it look more real, right Mister Bigshot?”
Johnny Hart managed the forklift to lift the corpse over the fence to the wolf compound. He watched in fascination. Within minutes it was stripped to the bone. Those were carried off to be cracked and split open for the marrow and buried for further gnawing on later. Maybe Johnny Hart’s luck was beginning to change.
Crows pecking at the pool of blood and bits of brain matter left behind was a harder task. How was he going to disguise that? He picked up the gun, checked the chamber. There was a live round in it. Maybe, just maybe, Yes, he’d have to do some hunting himself.
The two flashing eyes of a jeep’s headlights bumped across the incoming road. The first shot fired had aroused the preserve gamekeeper. He was coming to saw off the buffalo heads. Johnny Hart stood waving the gun as the vehicle came into view. “Nailed it.”
One shot through the windshield and the Jeep jumped in a burst of speed, carrying the dead driver and itself through the preserve fence. The message was beginning to become clear. Mister Bigshot had been kidnapped and was being held for a king’s ransom deeper in the preserve. “That ought to do the trick.” Johnny Hart pinned the scrawled note to the gamekeeper’s body written in his own hand. He’d been made to write it and was being held captive along with the star.
Keeping the gun for protection, fortified with additional ammo found in the jeep, Johnny Hart trudged, following the two headed buffalo dung and tracks. Utah’s form of desert consists of swatches of man size Sagebrush, Bitterbush and Snakeweed, along with the critters native to the area.
He hadn’t counted on Indians. “I got money.”
They weren’t interested. The two ambushing him grunted over which got to keep the gun. They made him strip, divided up his wallet and clothes, then staked him out spread-eagle on a patch of alcali dirt. “Just going to leave me here?” At least they didn’t scalp him.
They’d promised to come back and check on him if his tale of a two headed buffalo turned out true. The sun woke up slowly herding the shadows away. A jackrabbit stirred the underbrush, its long loppy ears scanned like radar at the approaching noise of the searching police helicopter before darting into invisibility once again. “Saved, and it looks like I’ve been kidnapped, too.” Johnny Hart watched the big bird nod at him before beginning to descend.
He was organizing his story when the wolf pack darted over him. The leader growled a startled warning, yelped and bit off his right big toe in passing. The ones coming up behind didn’t even pause. “Something chasing them. Maybe the helicopter crew.”
The copter had landed nearby. Dust filled the air making it hard to breathe. When it did settle, it wasn’t the cops he saw.. It was the two headed buffalo snorting at him, both faces hunting around him maddened because of the wolves.
All the commotion had loosened the leather straps lodging his wrists to the ground. “Where is he?”
“Over here,” Shouted Johnny Hart.
The words turned into a scream. One of the cops shouted. “Jesus. Look at that.”
The two headed buffalo’s horns took turns spearing Johnny Hart’s twisting, jerking body. The last thing he heard was the shotgun blast taking out the beast as it stumbled and rolled its massive weight on top of him.
“What a trophy,” The cop shooting the beast marveled, coming up to the gore that was Johnny Hart’s remains.
“Poor bastard,” The pilot cop spit dust from his mouth. “We’ll have to change our story a bit to cover his death, I guess.”
From the sagebrush, two Navajo Indians looked on, waiting for their desert land to be reclaimed. Weeks later one of them found a a newspaper flapping and landing at his feet. A picture of Mister Bigshot and his unknown fate appeared on the front page along with a shot of the dead two headed buffalo he’d gone hunting for. Of Johnny Hart, there was no mention.
There were whispers among the scattered Hogan dwellers of the Navajo about a white ghost hunting its lost past. The ghost got blamed for any bad magic, like when two of their own were found dead, after fighting over a white man’s stolen belongings.
Watch out for the ‘Gotcha’s’. What goes around, comes around, the growing Navajo legend said.
Unbeknownst to Johnny Hart, he became more locally famous on the reservation as a ghost than he'd ever been watched for on TV.