Ron Schalow — Don’t Feed the Legislators

Stan shuffles up to the bar and bellows, “Merry Christmas, Orv?” No answer. Stan looks closer at the man sitting on the stool. “Wait a goddam minute, here. You’re not Orville. Who the hell are you, and why are you sitting in Orv’s spot?”

“Mark. I don’t know any Orv.”

Stanley is flummoxed, until Orv barks, “I’m over her, you liberal nitwit. It’s like 4 feet away. Gawd.”

Stan shuffles over. “That Mark guy sure is an @$$hole, huh? He doesn’t even know you. You want me to throttle him, Orv? He’s asking for it.”

“You couldn’t throttle a tiny Nun, you yutz.”

“Could, too. I filled my aluminum cane with cement, just for seating mishaps like this. As you know, I prefer a seven iron, but it looks suspicious, especially if it’s obvious you need a longer club to make the green. I like those collapsible metal whippy rods the coppers in the UK use to whack a guy in the thighs. Brings the wanker right to his knees. I suppose American cops have those implements, too, but they have way more options than your average bobby in London. I think a bobby carries a small spray can of pepper spray or mace. I don’t know the difference. Heck, we’ve got cops in North Dakota toting these big canisters of mace that can blind a whole crop of malcontents, with gallons to spare. Of course, putting the whole bunch into a state of hypothermia is a lot cheaper because pumping cold water from the river is easy on the budget. You’ve seen video from Cannonball. I love seeing razor wire finally being used in the state, although they probably have some on the prison fences. It’s a good thing that #&*$@# Al Carlson put the kibosh on the regular Native speech to the Legislature because the dark-skinned people scare him — that was a dick move, huh. And boy, that bridge on 1806 must be important; not River Kwai special, but enough to bring in the heavy art …”

“Stop!” shouts Orville.

“I never figured you as somebody who had been to Yutz. Communes aren’t for everyone.”

Orv wrinkles his nose and he puts on his disgusted face. “Commune? I’ve never set foot in a commune!”

“You have, if you’ve been to Yutz.”

“I’ve never BEEN to Yutz. YOU are a yutz.”

“That makes more sense,” admits Stan. “You should go before you kick, though. Northern France is quite beautiful. Of course, you could see any part of France without visiting Yutz, I guess. Is Mark still behind me? Do you still want me to throttle him, Orv? One whack and he’ll have an inoperable subdural hematoma. Or I could just throw a bucket of water on him when he steps outside. I hope he’s paid his bar bill.”

“You leave that Mark guy alone, you stupid loon. I’m fine right here. What the hell do you want, anyway?”

Stanley turns enough to his left to give Mark one stink-eye, then says, “I saw your truck outside, which was a real shock, and decided to stop in and wish you a Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Orv!”

“Look, Stan, we did the Merry Christmas thing last week. We’ve moved on to Happy New Year.”

“What for?”

Orville’s face reddens. “Why do you think, doofus boy? We’ve just started a new year. Sheesh.”

“Not me. My physical year ends sometime in September. The 17th rings a bell. Most small numbers ring a bell, though, so it’s iffy. Don’t plan on it.”

“Fiscal year.”

“Not according to my doctor.”


“My year-end parties have been substantially less well-attended, which is fine by me. Screw them all. Solitude doesn’t bother me. Everyone just drinks all of my booze, anyway.”

“You don’t have any booze, you lib@#&*!”

“Well, not anymore. Haven’t you been paying attention? Were you there the time some jerk drank all of my Scope. The good kind. Like there wasn’t plenty of alcohol on the premises. I found that @$$hole and threw him off the second floor porch, which is odd because I don’t recall an outdoor launching pad on the second floor. He was the only one in the house with fresh minty breath. It took some time to find him. The first few party people I kissed put up quite a tussle, so I changed my approach. I acted like I was just squeezing by, then turn quick and smack. Right on the lips. Finally, I found the ugly spud and latched onto his tongue with a needle-nosed pliers. Green as a John Deere, Orv. I beat most of the assault charges on the grounds of stupidity. Whew, right? His mouth was full of grass and dirt when he wandered off, though, and I can tell you from experience, that dirt does not taste like Scope. You probably knew that being in the dirt business. How is your crop of something doing, Orv, or is it bad luck to ask?”

“Well, Stan. It’s January and 13 below zero, so how do you think my crop is doing? Have you started drinking again?”

“Naw. Did you ever expect to live to whatever the year is on YOUR planet, Orv? Not that I’m privy to any plans written in stone, but I figured that a fancy combine would have spit parts of you out of its back end long ago.”


“Me, I thought I would be a goner a long time before now. I was like 23 when a deathly feeling came over my mind, which led me to buy a ton of life insurance. I should have had life insurance from the minute I turned 3. I wasn’t employed at the time, but I bet the premiums would have been irresistible. You know, we used to shovel snow down to the concrete — and from edge to edge — and maybe finish with a broom. Then, I would knock on the front door and thank whoever for whatever metal money they gave me. Not this rotating brush or blower stuff that leaves a quarter-inch of snow on the walk. Delivering the Sunday Minneapolis Tribune paper — they weighed 42 pounds each — was a challenge in the winter. It was like the Iditarod, only I was the beast pulling the sled. I made my fortune doing that and won several canine awards. We pulled our sleds a couple of miles into the country to find the steepest hills and then shoot straight for the trees in the coulee. Figure out a way to stop — or bail. Those were the options, provided you wanted to go home unbroken. The thorny thickets were fun.”


“Orv, do you remember the time we were driving down I-29 and I fell out?”

“Vividly. It was yesterday.”

“Weren’t you surprised?” asks Stan.

“A little, but you’ve jumped out before. It was on the off ramp, so we were only going 50,or so.”

“Fell! Inertia! Centrifugal force! Something to do with physics!”

“If you say so, death-wish Stan, but I have doors, you moonbat. It’s unusual either way, and back tracking to see if you’re alive is getting to be a pain in the @$$.”

“Then, on the news, they always have to mention that I wasn’t wearing a seat belt in that smug voice. Who are they to judge me? And I’ve sent several better head shots to all of the TV stations, but they always choose to use the one where my face looks like I just had a stroke, which is despicable. What if real stroke victims were watching? It would be totally offensive.”

Orv is losing steam. “Yup.”

“So, Orv, do you have resolutions for YOUR next year on earth? Maybe like switching from Smirnoff to Stoli? That would shake things up in the world vodka market. Or maybe you could try red or orange farm machines for kicks? Got any swamps to drain?”

“I don’t have any res …”

“But what the hell difference does it make, young Orville? I can fall out of your pickup any time of the year and not chip a tooth, which is getting harder and harder to fathom. We sit here in the middle of a continent, where the most dangerous wild critter is a pissed off Canada goose. None of the bugs are as big as that dust mop on Trump’s head, and some of us are sipping Putin’s vodka. A guy can sit outside without a crocodile sneaking up, or a hippo staring you down while you take a dip in the lake — or wrecking the dock. They’re quite surly.”

“Are we going to talk about animals? I already know about animals.”

“You’re reminiscent of a rhino, Orv. Big, grouchy, and you leave potholes wherever you walk. Only two holes, though. You’re bipedal. We established that years ago. Now we have the jackals, hyenas, vultures and other scavengers, back in Bismarck.”

“What are you yammering about, you leftist trash?”

“Al Carlson reminds of the Jeremy Irons-voiced black-maned lion in “The Lion King.” Always bossing those hyenas around. Remember that, Orv? These are your critters, Orville. The alt-righters, the ideologues, the extremists, the nutjobs — most of them cahooting with the big bidness shills. Speaking of shills, Rob Port, Forum Communication blogger and Morton County stenographer, reports that fewer lobbyists are registered for this session, which is adorable because we all know that they’ve been pre-lobbied, like a prepaid cell phone and some even self- lobby — the real go-getter hyenas. Can you beat a self-cleaning oven? Hardly. It’s the warm thingy in the kitchen, the room beside the vittles place, Orv. These clowns don’t need the North Dakota Petroleum Council, the NRA, the tobacco creeps or the “clean coal” vultures hovering because lion Al will straighten things out, if they have an original thought. Port reminds me of one of those bears on a unicycle, now that you mention it.”

“That’s all ridiculous, you liar. I’m not listening to any more of this garbage!”

“Oh, sure you will,” scoffs Stan. “What are you going to do? Storm off and stop drinking for a few minutes?”

“No,” he answers dejectedly.

“I’ll hold out some teeny hope.” Stan holds his right thumb and forefinger about a millimeter apart. “There may be a miracle, decreed by Odin, that the supermajority of jackals, dingoes and hyenas, led by Scar, aka Al, does something worthwhile.”

“Do you want a fat lip, Stanley?”

“Do you want my cement cane to put a dent in your shin, Mr. Wiseguy? Hell, you’re of the pack that hangs around Peacock Alley and assorted Bismarck hotel lounges laughing it up with the lawmakers, regulators, lobbyists and assorted corporate dingoes when the Legislature is in session because you’re of the lot who feed the jackals money and lobster tails. Otherwise, it could be a steakhouse in Crosby, a diner in Stanley or wherever else palms get greased or buttered. Whenever there is money to be divvied up, the vultures can smell it a thousand miles away.”

“Prove it!” taunts Orv. “How do you go from stupid to lucid, so fast, you @$$ pain?”

“Meds. Lots of them. You use vodka, rhino boy. You know the levels.”


“But what bills do I see on the list? Oh, my, we have way too many license plates on our cars, so we better deal with that before the EPA makes us fasten three to our vehicles, so the drones can cope. And people are paying too much to renew their vanity plates, which really stings the poor.”

“Why should I pay $25 to renew …”

“Then, there is Rick Becker, Mr. Conservative, who has his sights on higher office. Fine by me. So, he introduces a “constitutional carry” bill, so that no permit is needed to carry your pistol of choice concealed, but that’s if you’re 21. So, being a dick, I ask Becker where in the constitution I can find an age limit. His answer; “You’re cute.” I was flattered, but I doubt his sincerity. He wants to indulge his base, without actually fulfilling the true meaning behind his proposal. Is this necessary or simple minded pandering?”

“Necessary! It a right engraved …”

“You’re a Putin puppet, junior, and don’t forget the push to set the speed limit on the interstates to 80 mph. That will get you to Grand Forks seven minutes faster, about the time you wait at the first light after the exit to 32nd Avenue. Real answers for real people. Trickle down speed. Maybe they will take a hard look at all of the nicknames in all of the high schools or spend a bundle on some more unconstitutional laws. But if you’re 65, a crossbow might be allowed to get you that big buck, if one lawmaker has his way. I’d stay low if I were you, Orv. Your approval rating is pretty low in that demographic.”

“I’m plenty low. Quit confusing a drunk old man, you bastard Marxist beefsteak tomato.”

“Drunk? You haven’t been drunk since the mid ’80s, Orv, and you know it. You have the tolerance level of your rhino brethren. Quit faking it. You walk better with a snoot full, anyway, and your breath is better, too. Must be the lime. Are you eating chunks of lime?”

“Shut up. Go away, socialist doofus.”

“Explain this to me, Orv. We still have to hold bake sales and spaghetti dinners to pay the bills for neighbors who get sick — and that’s if they’re popular. In supposedly prosperous Fargo, the food banks are always busy, coat donation drives are held every year, the Fargo Marathon has donated thousands of shoes for kids. Then, school supplies and clothing need to be donated, and our next president doesn’t pay federal taxes. Citizens sleep outside in the cold. People need mental health care and assistance with addictions. Will going 80 mph solve any of that? Only if you’re in an ambulance. Is this any way to run a rodeo?”

“I’m not talking to you anymore, lib#&%@!”

“Does The Donald use Scope — or Listerine? Somebody should drop a Minneapolis Tribune on his algae riddled noggin.”

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