RON SCHALOW: Toodle-oo Caribou!

Stanley rushes into the bar at 1.2 miles per hour and finds Orville nursing a drink. “Orv, I need to borrow $5,000. Do you have that much on you? Fifties, if you got them.”

“Gawd. Bartender!” Orv dramatically jabs a bony finger at his glass.

“You let the bartender hold your loot, Orv? That seems to grind against your usual badgerlike nature and your racoonlike nature. Is he holding one of your cows hostage? Wink 17 times, very quietly. And don’t look weird.”

Orville stares at Stanley for a minute. “What makes you think I’m carrying that kind money, you lib$%@# clown? $5,000. Right,” he mutters.

“You’re rich” whispers Stan. “You used to drop that much before midnight, and then get really motivated. I may have played a part. You were a lot of fun, before the cownappers got involved and ruined your life. We really shouldn’t have been operating a Piper Cub in that condition, though. I’ve never even had a lesson and we never did pay the green fees for that one landing. Whose plane was that, anyway?”

“Some guy.”

“We should have taken Uber, maybe. Wherever we wanted to be was only four blocks away. Some dude’s house, I think. Hey, Orv! Remember when we were in Vegas and took a cab to our hotel? And, it was across the street. The sign on the hotel was as big as Rhode Island! That was an expensive twelve steps.”

“That was 30 years ago, and I don’t have any cattle!” snaps Orv.

“They got them ALL?” yelps a disbelieving Stan. “That’s horrible. Too bad we aren’t closer to Cannon Ball. You could blame the First People. Call Rob Port. He’ll pin it on the Natives in a heartbeat. Everyone falls for that stuff. Collect the insurance, then borrow me the five K. Everybody wins.”

“Sigh. I never had any cattle, you Marxist saphead! No hostage taking. None of that. First People,” Orv scoffs. “What do you need five grand for, anyway?”

“Land. Close to where the First People crossed onto this continent.”


“LAND,” yells Stan. “IS YOUR HEA …”

“Shut up, you loopy %&*@#! loon. I heard you the first time. What do you need land for? And close to what, now?”

“To live on, dude. Well, not me. I’ll be ashes by then, and maybe even have graduated to dirt. Hard to say. Maybe my ashy remains will float throughout the ocean in perpetuity. Things are going to hell in this world already, but nobody knows exactly when things will get real heavy, but it will be too soon. I’m glad you got rid of your cows, man. Animal agriculture isn’t sustainable, and methane is way more harmful than CO2 to the atmosphere. Bovine burp like crazy, and drink water like they all have hangovers. Bathtubs full.”

“A, I never ever had any cattle, so I never got rid of anything that would help solve your imaginary hoax of a problem, so don’t ever be glad of anything I ever did, or will do, you liberal heathen, you! B, You can’t get much of anything around here with $5,000. C, Exactly who is going to pay me back? And D, is this where you start yammering about global warming, or climate change or whatever you eco-freaks are calling it this week?”

“Q. Maybe, don’t care, beats me and yes,” responds Stanley. “ I want to buy land for my descendants. Can I have the money, please? Time is of the essence.”

Orv scowls. “You know, if you had been …”

Stan rolls his eyes, as he interrupts Orville. “Yes, yes, I know. If I was more responsible, I would have my own money. You think I don’t know?”

“I don’t know what you don’t know.”

Stan starts over. “You think I don’t know that I have failed at most everything? I know that I made all of the wrong decisions. I let down my family and progeny. I was a coward. I ran away. I wanted to return as a success. Never happened. I was terrible with money, I know. I did work hard, though, so don’t ever say I didn’t, or I’ll tie your eyebrows together. They couldn’t look worse, and I don’t need the responsibility lecture. I blame no one but myself, for my lot. Satisfied? Now, I’m depressed.”

“You’ve always been depressed. I tried to tell you where you would end up.”

“I’m aware,” acknowledges Stan. “Only 7,000 times. Maybe I should have inherited 9 million acres of rich black soil like you did, not that there’s anything wrong with that. No wonder somebody stole your cows. Can I borrow the money? You don’t need it. How many cup holders can a semi hold, anyway?”

“It’s an Expedition and don’t touch it,” grouses Orv. “And I worked hard, too, only with a little more common sense than a hippypotomus like you.”

“I know you did,” admits Stan. “You also claimed CRP funds for not planting anything in those woods, so you would have a built-in deer hunting spot. Now, you and your alt-right buddies can dress up in bizarre outfits, drink single malt, and take pot shots at anything that moves. And I put my sticky fingers all over your precious semi. I dipped my digits in moose juice first.”

“So? It was legal. Critters need a place to live, too.”

“Legal. It’s all legal. The government keeps sending you checks.” Stan orders a Coke, and a drink for Orv.

Orville takes a long pull off his cigarette. “You take government money, too, you commie.”

“Only because I got sick. Do you think I shuffle around like a zombie with a cane because my Hanes are too tight and enjoy the pain? If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be dead before collecting any Social Security or putting a strain on Medicare. If those things still exist, considering current management. But I’m the commie. Just count out the money, and I’ll slowly be on my way.”

“OK, where is this place,” asks Orv. “And I hold on to the title.”

“Fine. Deal. You should buy a few zillion acres, too. Space isn’t a problem, probably since it’s still in a permafrost state, for the time being. The place is app-free. Should be cheap, but I’m having a hell of time finding a Realtor — or a map detailing the topography. We have to stay above the high water mark, or what’s the point? Right, Orv? I need to do some more research.”


“Where, what, Orv? The cows? We still don’t know. Are you having another stroke? Blink nine times.”

Sigh. “Where the hell do you want to buy land?”

“Land?” asks Stan. “Oh, up in the Northwest Territories. I’ve asked the Canadians, and they don’t give a rip, eh. Their interest in the area is below nominal. I think there are a couple of caribou up there that might care but not much. Remember when Snoopy wrote his novel, “Toodle-oo, Caribou!,” a Tale of the Frozen North? The polar mice scampered across the polar fl …”

“Oh, for crissakes! Why the Northwest Territories?”

Stan summons up his reasoning, knowing that it will be mocked. “Because when the Earth gets one degree hotter, we’re screwed where we’re parked now. We’ll be overrun by people who will find themselves on scorched land, with no water and unable to grow food. We’ll have Okies and Californians hanging from the rafters. Fargo looks sweet even now. Temperate climate. We barely have winter anymore. No forest fires, no hurricanes, an occasional tornado, no earthquakes, rain, deep black dirt and all of the amenities, including cable and miniature golf. Ducks and fish. Wait until that gets out. Haven’t you wondered why people have been coming here like crazy — and on purpose?”

“A little, but why the …”

“Northwest Territories? Because there are going to be massive migrations of people, and our descendants need to be as far away as possible from the chaos, in a place with potable water, a decent temperature and with critters to hunt for food. Maybe some vegetation for a light salad. The permafrost will be melted by then, after releasing a smidge more than a quad-zillion giga-tons of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere and ocean, which will have sped the warming.  I don’t know what quality of dirt will be left, but I’ll find out. Eh. I’ll haul some fine soil up there, if need be. I have some connections. Northern Russia is looking good, too, but the Canadians are a lot easier to deal with, and understand. Capiche?”

“No, I don’t capiche.”

“The ice on Greenland has melted over a hundred feet in the last five years. You can’t trust the Danes to manage their property properly, and Ringkobing is going to get chillier on account of the cold water running off the huge island and hitting the big current, which also changes the weather dynamics big time. It was easy in earlier days. Iceland would trade some of its greens in exchange for ice cubes from Greenland, but no more. All coastal cities are in danger, but especially Florida in the U.S. Where will they go? Fargo!”

“Gawd, you’re stupid, Stan. It’s colder than snot out there. Nothing is happening, and you eco-terrorists are just trying to scare people. Trump, Rush, Cramer, Port, Inhofe, Hannity …”

“Wait! Who? Not THE Rob Port? Isn’t he the most influential political blogger in North Dakota, according to his personal trainer? What a miasma! Don’t tell that shill liar about this. We don’t need his genes gumming up the works in our new digs. Stupid denier.”

“He says that this climate crap is all a hoax,” barks Orv. “The Heartland Institute backs him up.”

“Really? Just because a guy might have graduated from Minot High School, doesn’t make him an authority on anything. I know plenty of stoners with one of those diplomas. He’s got the president of NDSU, who has 74 degrees, on notice, though, as if anyone cares. Pass a college class first, Junior. Leave the house. I’ve got my money on NASA. Check out who backs up the Heartland Institute, and Port.”

“MY money,” corrects Orv. “And I’m not falling for any of this climate claptrap. You do what you want. Just tell me when you find a spot, and I’ll send some Eskimo a check.”

“OK, and thanks for YOUR money. Tell your boys, though. They’ve got the tractors steering themselves and the drones collecting information on every square inch of your dirt. There’s a good chance that they’re smarter than you, or a cross-eyed blogger.”

“Probably,” admits Orville. “Well, they’ll own everything in a few years, so they can decide for themselves.”

“Yeah, your days are numbered, coot. We’ll race! I’ll hide a map for them, in a metal box, buried by a stone fence and a big oak tree. Pretty much a Shawshank scenario.”

“Or you could just mail them a copy, before you kick,” suggests Orv. “Just a thought.”

Stan appears to be in deep thought. “I’m thinking of changing my name to Carmello and buying a cow. How would that sit with you?”

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