The last warm day of September, Roger Ramsey and I walked over to
the Brew Pub to check out the fall halter top hatch.
“Is it my imagination,” Roger said, “or are we seeing more cleavage this
“Girls in the middle of the country are dressing like they’re in L.A.
now,” I said. “It’s a Britney spillover.”
Roger eyed a girl in a red tube thing and jeans hanging from her pelvis,
although his viewing was strictly in a fashion sense and in no way reflected
sexist objectification of women. He said, “How do you think she holds her
I said, “Duct tape -- the sticky-on-both-sides kind.”
He said, “I thought maybe it was glue.”
We found Roger’s cousin Simon at the end of the counter, staring
glumly into a twelve-ounce glass of Snake River Lager.
“You look like your ex-wife got custody of your dog,” Roger said.
Simon drained his glass and said, “I think I caused an international
incident. You boys may want to clear out before CNN shows up.”
Simon is a fishing guide and that week had been guiding Vice-President
and faux local Dick Cheney down the South Fork. It’s a time-honored
tradition in America that presidents golf and vice-presidents fish, which
means Dick Cheney is a fisherman with ambitions to play golf. The way I
know he has ambitions is because he owns a house out at the Teton Pines
golf course. If he was happy to stay Vice-President, he would have bought
closer to the river.
It doesn’t seem possible, to me, to cause an international incident on the
South Fork -- I mean, we’re talking Idaho here -- and I said as much to
He said, “That’s what I thought,” and proceeded to tell us the story of
the war nearly caused by a number 12 double humpy.
“We were floating along a pretty stretch of the river between
cottonwoods and willows, me and Dick at the center of these concentric
circles made up of twelve more guides and oarsmen, a veritable cadre of
Secret Service agents, a personal secretary, a press secretary, assorted
advisors, spokesmen, and gofers, a communications team manning satellite
hookups and computers with wireless Internet access, not to mention a
Global Positioning System in case we got lost on the South Fork, a press
pool of Eastern elitists freezing to death, chefs, pilots, and convoy drivers,
and a man with a black suitcase that holds the code for launching a nuclear
attack. Two double-rotored Huey helicopters whock-whocked overhead, and,
above them, three F-16s kept the skies safe for fly fishing.
“It costs the government a little over a hundred thousand dollars an
hour for Dick to feel like he’s by himself in the wilderness.”
Roger said, “I did the math on that cup of Kool Aid Clinton bought
from those kids on Spring Gulch Road when he was out here, and came to a
half million dollars of taxpayer money for a twelve-cent paper cup full of
grape sugar water.”
Simon took a deep chug of lager and waited. He hates to be interupted
when he’s telling stories. Finally, he went on. “Enos Thurston was in the
boat behind us with the cultural attaché from Georgia.”
Roger said, “Georgia doesn’t have culture.”
“It’s the Georgia over in Russia. The Bush Administration wants to
make it the fifty-first state. Their plan is to turn all those trouble spots over
there into states and wire them for cable TV. The theory is Moslems won’t
kill Christians if Christians run the cable company.”
Sounded like a great idea to me. “But we already have a Georgia.”
“They plan to change the Russian Georgia’s name to Cheneyland.
North and South Yemen are going to be Bush Junior and Bush Senior.”
“I told Dick to drop his double humpy over behind a low-hanging log
where I predicted he’d catch a big cutthroat. It wasn’t such a wild prediction
as you’d think on account of I’d been feeding two twenty-inch cutthroats in
that hole double humpy-shaped dog food for a month.”
“Where do you find double humpy-shaped dog food?” Roger asked.
“You carve it from Kibbles. Are you going to listen or ask questions?”
Simon looked at me and I said, “Me too.”
“Well, Dick’s a proud man and he allowed he’d rather fish the willows.
He plunked his fly into the willows where it instantly got hung up. I could
have told him it would but Dick won’t listen to me since the FBI found out
I’m a Democrat.”
Roger started to say something but Simon gave him a shut-up look. “I
said we ought to break the leader but Dick said the double humpy was a
present from the king of Finland or someplace and it had sentimental value,
so I had Enos row into the willows and lean out of his boat and pull the
willow aslant so Dick could snap her out of there, only Dick snapped her
into the cultural attaché from Georgia’s left nostril.”
I said, “Ouch.”
“Don’t hurt that much,” Simon said. “I’ve hooked myself plenty of
times. Half the girls in here have pierced noses.”
Looking around, I confirmed the fact that many of the halter top women
had stuck sharp objects through their nostrils because they wanted to.
“But this attaché acted like we’d slid a splinter under his thumbnail. He
screamed and grabbed the strike indicator and fell of the floor of the boat.”
“What’d Dick do?” Roger asked.
“He commented on how pretty the willows were with the leaves
changing. Only his press secretary got worried that they wouldn’t change
the name of Georgia to Cheneyland and he commenced to chewing me out,
and the press pool boat carrying reporters from O and Vanity Fair floated up
and the photographers saw blood and started taking pictures and the press
secretary yelled at the Secret Service boys to stop them so this one Secret
Serviceman took an oar and knocked a camera into the river so the
photographer knocked the Secret Serviceman into the river and that yellow
coiled wire in his ear shorted out with a pop I could hear clear across the
channel. From what I understand, the Secret Serviceman still can’t hear
from that ear.
“Dick opened a can of Albertsons Cherry Cola and sat down to wait for
things to mellow out, only sitting down jiggled his rod tip and that made the
attaché yell like a bull being turned into a steer.
“About then Dick’s doctor floated up. He had enough doctoring gear
on that boat to do a heart transplant but nothing for pulling a number 12
double humpy with a barbed hook out of a Russian’s nose. Enos had to
loan him a needle nose pliers.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “I read that the Vice-President fishes barbless.”
Simon looked embarrassed. “That’s disinformation they give the press.
Truth is, we’ll work our way down the political correctness scale to
whatever it takes to land a fish. I even carry a top secret box of worms, in
case of an emergency.”
Roger was amazed. “The Vice-President fishes with worms?”
“It hasn’t come to that, yet. Worms are like nuclear bombs. We don’t
plan to use them, but they have to be there.”
I said, “Does the attaché still have a double humpy in his nose?”
“They got it out right after the red phone rang.”
“You didn’t tell me about the red phone.”
“It only rings in times of national crisis. The press secretary jumped to
get it. He said, ‘Yes, sir’ four times, held the phone out to Dick, and said,
‘It’s the President.’
“Dick said, ‘What’s George Junior want this time?’ and took the phone
at the same moment as the doctor squeezed off the barb and the attaché
screamed and the humpy flipped across the river carrying a piece of
Georgian nose where it landed behind the overhanging log and was taken
by one of my twenty-inch trout.”
“This is getting hard to believe,” Roger said.
“Tell that to the Secret Service,” Simon said. “They’re blaming me.”
“I’ll bet Dick went with the trout instead of the President,” I said.
“Of course,” Simon said. “The cutthroat jumped clear of the log and
Dick struck with both hands on his rod which was great except he dropped
the phone in the river.”
“Where’s the fish now?” I asked, keeping my priorities in order.
“They did a photo-op for the guy from Vanity Fair and we released it.
Dick always fishes catch-and-release. We’re real careful about that.”
“Did you find out what the President wanted?” Roger asked.
“They never tell me squat. Last time he called it was about a barbecue
“I guess Cheneyland won’t be joining the union,” I said.
“Hell, the Russian army is mobilizing.”
“Did the Vice-President say anything to you about the incident?”
“He says if there’s a war, he’s shipping me to the Baltic Sea.”
“I’ll be the designated hostage.”