A Man's Pain
One of the downsides of bloggyworld is how quickly a single joke can be quashed. I don't think I can take another "Cheney's Got A Gun" routine, but doubtless they'll keep coming. Still, as my friend Barry Crimmins reminded me last night, any ridicule heaved at that corpulent smirking war criminal/profiteer is to be welcomed and encouraged, no matter how predictable or redundant it may be. I agree, but I'm left wondering why Cheney pulled the trigger himself. Given his history, you'd think that he'd have some dopey servant do the shooting for him. But then, Scott McClellan looks like he'd piss red at the mere whiff of gunpowder.
All this hunting chat inspired me to dig through my National Lampoon stacks to find what is perhaps the darkest piece ever written about shooting fowl. In the August 1975 issue, Doug Kenney, who would later co-write "Animal House" and "Caddyshack" before falling off a Hawaiian cliff in 1980, presented "Trespassers Will Be Violated," a Saturday Evening Post-type tale about a Mr. Turner who drags his son Tod and their dog Dave to a Wisconsin lake in wet, cold October weather to supposedly hunt ducks. But mostly what Mr. Turner does is guzzle Jack Daniels and harangue Tod about the wretched world:
"That's why I'm always on your tail about keeping your marks up, boy. If you can't learn t'live off the land out here in the wild like your Dad, you'd darn well better be able to live off those other sorry folks back in Madison. Hell, most've 'em don't even know they're alive. Same ones who're always getting all weepy-eyed over dumb animals. Same ones who want to outlaw hunting and fishing and couldn't bait their own thumb for money. Same ones who talk up all this peace cee are and show up the next day at your bomb shelter with a cleaver when it finally hits the fan. Same dumb birdwatchers who scream bloody murder when somebody brings a buck home on his hood, and then they tippy-toe home to some A&P T-bone the size of a desktop, sawed off some sorry cow born and raised to kiss some dumb Polack's sledgehammer. Makes me mad."
"'D'you know why your Dad takes a drink now and then?' Mr. Turner asked thickly, suddenly poking at Tod's sleeping bag.
"'Uh-uh, Dad,' replied Tod drowsily.
"'I drink, son,' said Mr. Turner, t'forget the pain of being a man.'"
Later, in the dark of night, Mr. Turner rapes his son, who wakes in the morning thinking it was a bad dream caused by a growing fever.
Next day, nothing much happens, save for Mr. Turner's ongoing monologues fueled by bottles of Jack Daniels. He talks about how Indians hunted moose, then how white men hunted Indians. ("All they had were bows and arrows and tomahawks. We had guns. Got it, boy?") As night lengthens, he informs Tod about "the innate viciousness of women compared to men, and how, despite everything, the so-called 'inferior' Negro had still managed to take over neighborhoods, one by one . . . Of how the Jews, through America's ruinously expensive welfare system, had allowed the Negroes to reproduce unchecked and hold whites at bay while the Jews sacked the city treasuries with their ruinous welfare schemes. Of how they turned Christ into an obvious homosexual so people would believe it sinful to defend themselves against Negroes, much less Jews. How they were already going from house to house in Massachusetts collecting guns. How such people should be dealt with. How mercy was for women.
"Then, as the cry of a loon was heard through the wind across the water, Tod's father crept from his own sleeping bag, pausing to dip two fingers into the emergency can of Sterno, crawled into Tod's sleeping bag, and, quoting from memory the appropriate passage from 'For Whom the Bell Tolls,' repeatedly sodomized him, using the Sterno as a lubricant."
Come morning, Mr. Turner wakes Tod and orders him to grab his 410 High Standard. He plays a tape of duck calls, which draws a large flock of canvasbacks into a narrow inlet, only thirty yards from their blind. Then, as the mass of ducks settle in to feed, Mr. Turner tells Tod, "All right, boy, and remember, no prisoners," and begins firing.
"The rapid and astonishingly quiet phut phut of Mr. Turner's gun kicked up thirteen bloody geysers of water, feathers and fragmented bone amid the center mass of birds before they even sensed something was wrong. As Tod looked on, his father swiftly emptied a second and third gun into the thickly congested flock, each shot mowing a swath through the living brown-green carpet, literally blowing to bits twenty or more birds with every twitch of his finger, maiming twice that number.
"Dutifully, Tod jammed fresh clips into his father's spent Ithacas. Mr. Turner had emptied five shotguns, sixty-five shells, in one minute. But in that long minute few of the ducks had yet managed their escape. Canvasbacks, deep-feeding divers, require long running starts before their three-pound bulks can gain the air. Now, backed up against a sheer stone cliff in a strong seasonal headwind, confused by downdrafts and a murderous volley issuing from their only flightline, the remainder of the ducks panicked; some dashed mindlessly along the rocky shoreline, others dove deep into the water only to be decapitated by 00 shot upon surfacing. A few of the stronger ones lofted themselves against the easterly gusts, only to be blown back against the cliffs and picked off by Tod's accurate 410.
"The din was terrifying, and Dave, the retriever, no longer able to contain himself, leapt into the water directly in front of Mr. Turner's muzzle and took several pellets. With a shriek, the animal bounded straight up and out of the water, crashing through the reeds in a half-staggering, blood-spraying gallop.
"In another minute it was over. Mr. Turner had bagged easily more than two-thirds of the flock -- some of the survivors had actually crawled away through the marsh grass -- and the surface was solidly packed with dead and drowning birds, perhaps two thousand of them, Tod's father estimated, over three tons of duck meat, floating in an area no larger than an Olympic-sized pool. The din from the crippled ones was unlike anything Tod had ever heard.
"Dave, lying wounded somewhere in the brush, could not retrieve. However, Mr. Turner didn't mind, as no one in the Turner family really cared for duck meat."
Tod then coaxes Dave to make some kind of movement, whereupon his father opens fire on the dog, blowing him to bloody pieces.
"'Not bad shooting, if I do say so myself,' said Mr. Turner as he inspected his kill. 'Brain shot, heart shot, shoulder shot and the bugger still charged.'
"After gutting his kill and throwing away both the insides and the outsides, Mr. Turner again sexually assaulted Tod. Impatient to police the blind area for spent shells and incriminating candy wrappers, he hurried his shot, forgetting the Sterno.
"'Look Dad,' said Tod after, between painful sneezes, "you've either got to cut that out or I'm going to have to tell Mom.'"
That night in their tent, Mr. Turner, sadly pondering his actions, tells Tod, "I'm sorry about what happened today, son. Perhaps when you are a man, and have fathered sons as I have, you will understand."
"There are many things I might have taught you about life, but there is really only one important thing. Remember son, I love you."
Then Mr. Turner shoves the muzzle of his rifle into his mouth and pulls the trigger.
Next day, while searching for the car keys in the family station wagon, Tod comes across a note:
I'm sorry about what happened last night. Something about the pain of being a man, perhaps. Spare your Mother this if you can, and remember to keep those marks up.
P.S. And remember, I love you.
Is there any doubt that had he lived, Mr. Turner would've voted Bush/Cheney?
And speaking of Big Dick, he's apparently telling those around him that the accidental shooting was really Harry Whittington's fault. According to the New York Daily News, "Another GOP source told the Daily News that Cheney has been telling friends the average person probably can't comprehend the situation. 'He knows most people don't understand how things like this can happen,' the source said. 'But people who are hunters understand it. This guy was in a place he shouldn't be.'"
Mr. Turner would understand. Something about the pain of being a man.
NOW DICK SEZ: "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. You can talk about all of the other conditions that exist at the time but that's the bottom line and — it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. It's a day I'll never forget."
Even more painful than being a man is undoubtedly the long memory of being a man in pain inflicting pain on another man. Women, consider yourselves lucky.