Vol. 1, No. 5, July Aug. 1984
The Rawhide Chronicles
Editorís Note: Ever since Hezekiah Rawhide stormed out of the woods a couple of months ago, we have had nothing but troubleóand letters. So many letters arrived, in fact, our staff decided to run some of them in this issue and to include Rawhideís response by way of seasoning. If reader interest continues, we also plan to run "The Chronicles" in forthcoming issues. To the curious, we caution: please donít ask about Rawhideís background, as our only knowledge of the gentleman comes from a mutual acquaintance, who is, himself, not always trustworthy. While weíre on the subject, donít ask about this other guy either.
From the Desk of Lon Churn
Nowhere in MY bible do I find instructions for inventing characters just so they can be used like hammers to pound other people over the head with and thus save the writer the embarrassment of being revealed for the low and devious scoundrel he really is, as well as preventing him from getting a good thrashing resulting in a variety of bruises and welts from the neckbone on down.
Needless to say, my brief remarks are directed toward whoever thought up Hezekiah Rawhide, also known as "critic at large." Any child of three could see that a bird like Rawhide would, at best last about twenty minutes in the real world, and that his passing would be just cause for celebration by the neighbors. But again, I tell you the man is a figment of some would-be writerís imagination, and it is quite beyond me why us regular folks who mow yards and pay taxes should be subjected to the mutterings of this outrageous non-person. I say print no more about him ever, but fill the precious space with articles on how to make whistles and slingshots, and stuff like that. Remember, making up folks from scratch is Godís work, not Manís. Now you know why so many fiction writers end up as alcoholicsóand worse!
Editorís Note: Churnís letter reached us on a Tuesday, along with several others, and as luck would have it, the mutual acquaintance spoken of earlier stopped by the office the following day while on the way to town for supplies. As is his custom, he sat right down in the most comfortable chair and propped his boots on the table where we keep the manuscripts, then proceeded to comment on the plaster that was peeling in big chunks from the ceiling. The crumbles of dried mud, and goodness knows what else, on the manuscripts, along with that gentlemanís remarks, caused our usually genial Publisher-Editor-Sea Captain, etc., to bite his pipe off at the stem, as is his custom when provoked. Anyway, while the intruder was busy cluttering up our work area with his unwelcome self, one of the staff handed him a copy of Churnís letter and asked that it be delivered to Rawhide posthaste, as we had a deadline to meet. That remark about the business of a deadline caused the Publisher-Editor-Sea Captain, etc., to choke on the end of the cane pipe stem that heíd been chewing up like gum, and the Managing Editor to stop daydreaming and grab his sides to keep from rolling across the floor in a laughing fit. For some reason, the word "deadline" acts as a banana peel to our composure. (Being under considerable tension here at the Springhouse, we often react to lifeís little surprises in a way an outsider might consider more typical of the asylum.) But, be that as it may, this mutual acquaintance allowed as how he would do our bidding, but only after demanding a modest gratuity. Sure enough, two days later Rawhideís answer arrived via the same carrier.
Greetings from Hezekiah Rawhide
So, some sprattle-legged, scatterhead named Churn had the nerve to call me outrageous and to further suggest that a look in the mirror would reveal nothing more than glass glare, eh? Well. Mr. Lon Churn, or Mr. Apple Butter, or whatever your real name happens to be, let me politely inform you that his world of ours is so wobbly at the axis, thanks to the presence of just such as you, that I have no time to waste peering into mirrors or pondering my origin like some squint-eyed genealogist. As for my outrageousness, I fear Iím beat out at the start in that department by the times weíre living in. Why, only last month I heard they were bombing oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The consequences of that could be disastrous. Not only do we now have the threat of thermonuclear war, but, if it keeps on, my own kerosene supply will be in jeopardy!
Outrageous! Heck, man, Iím just folks! Salt of the earth, thatís me. Of course, Iím not some spineless whiner like yourself, always mistaking whatís bold and vivid language-wise to a call for insurrection. From pressing your nose too long against the window glass and watching others have a high old time, your eyeballs have been pushed so far brainward that a piddling grasshopper now appears big as dragon, while a healthy, red-blooded sort like Old Hez is, well, just too durn much for your out-of-whack comprehension. Sir, you are modern man in a nutshell!
Let us consider another disaster, Mr. Butter Churn, namely televisionóthe so-called marvel of the modern age. Nowadays all you see are car chases, Richard Dawson kissing everything in sight, and bedroom scenes on soap operas. Not a solitary Western to bring a touch of wholesomeness to the sorry mess! Now you probably think thatís great stuff, but to me it is obvious that the broadcasting industry is in the clutches of automobile dealers and sex maniacs and that the other folks whose names are rolled off at the end of each program are only there to fetch coffee for the bosses. At this point you may wonder just how I happen to know so much about television when I donít even have electricity. Well, Mr. Horatio McMargarine, there may not be a handful of wires leading to my shack, but I do have this friend and when times get dull around home, I head across the hollow to his place. Since his wife finally ran off a month ago last Thursday, after complaining to all the neighbor women about her sanity failing due to going on twenty years of hearing nothing but hounds, HIM, hoot owls, and whippoorwills, my old buddy doesnít seem to mind the company. Of course, when the soaps are on we never talk except during commercials.
As far as Iím concerned, civilization is nothing but one vast slop bucket glittering in the sun.
Yet Another Letter Aimed at Mr. Rawhide
A splintery rail, indeed! Only last spring while strolling through the fair city of Golconda, I was myself mistaken for the King of Belgium, which is often the case when Iím "out wandering in the sticks." Instead of free "rail transportation" out of town, or a taste of tar and feathers, I was given a key to the city and treated to a beer and hamburger lunch down at the local pub. Not wishing to disillusion the gathering crowd, I said, "We kings are just like regular folks." I casually mentioned that a buddy monarch of mine likes nothing better than watching re-runs of "Hee Haw" while munching soggy popcorn from a cracked bowl bequeathed to him by his mother the Queen.(His native shyness all but thawed by my "aw shucks" demeanor, one fellow started to slap me on the back, but I glared him into bewilderment before he got the chance. Thank goodness the others were so taken with my aristocratic folksiness they failed to notice the "royal" snubbing.
"Hooray for kings! Hooray for kings!" shouted the crowd, which only proves that Hezekiah Rawhide, whoever HE is, is all wet. Most likely, he has been "railed" out of town many times himself. Not for pretensions of royalty, either, but for being the town rowdy, and, when drunk, an obstruction in the doorway of the aforementioned pub, or one just like it. He certainly is NOT listed on the Social Register.
So, enough of your king talk, you backwoods barbarian! Slink off to your tumbled-down shanty and wash down a "mess" of beloved poke greens with that foul-smelling brew called Sassafras Tea.
As Always the Best
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