On bright sunny days in The Conservatory, the entire forest glows with life itself. Birds chirping, wood-pecker’s being peckers, squirrel’s forging through the forest floor in search of their next meal.

Squirrels, nature’s pothead. Always hiding a little of their stash here, a little of their stash there. But when it comes to the time that they need to crack into their stashed stash, damned if’n they can’t remember where they put the shit.

I used to know a fellow who had a pet squirrel. Raised it up from a baby. He owned four previous generations of the same bloodline. Well trained beasts. Got the mail, groomed the dog, and scrubbed the shitter with a simple verbal command. Well, one time, this fellow got himself a little tipsy (he had just won $10k in the lottery) and decided it was a good idea to get the squirrel to hide the loot for him. I guess he figured the squirrel might be able to put it in a spot no thief could access.
Nonetheless, when the next morning came around my friend realized what he had done. He raced to the squirrel’s sleeping quarters and awakened him with a feverous urgency. For 12 straight hours he interrogated that damn squirrel, but to no avail. The furry little fucker just couldn’t remember where the hell he put it.
Five generations of domestication, down the shitter. Literally.

The conservatory acts as an oasis in a sea of stark utilitarianism. Nothing here serves a particular purpose, nothing is structured or moulded. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. Even the track which weaves through the bush is in harmony with the overall evolution of things. If you listen closely the bush will tell you where the path should run. It usually sounds like a downed tree trunk scraping off of the car’s frame, or four tires spinning in the mud. When mother nature whispers in your ear in such a manner you can rest assured that this is not the way to go.

It was getting to be about the mid-point of the afternoon, judging by the sun; and my associates and I were starting to get knee deep in a sandpit of drunkenness.. Having filled the truck up to the safe limit, Weiser and I tossed a couple more logs in and then took our drinks over to where Cooter was cutting wood. He had amassed quite a large pile of timber. It lay strewn about the ground like roaches at a grateful dead concert. It seems Weiser and I had slowed our pace considerably since the beer turned to whiskey. A union break was in order. With whiskey in hand of coarse.
It was obvious we needn’t cut any more wood. The only question now was what to do with the excess which was on the ground. Well…. Cooter would go and deliver the load to his place whilst Weiser and myself collected the rest and got it ready for transport. This was the plan. But it was at about this point that our plans became nothing more than vague ideas which disintegrated as quickly as they materialized.
”what was I going to do again?” started to become a motto of sorts.

So as Cooter began his voyage back home with the load of wood, Weiser and I tossed the rest of the wood out onto the track so it was ready to go. This was easier than anticipated, and so to kill time we decided to drive the quad up to my place to see if there was anything going on there.
With whiskey in hand, we roared through the woods at breakneck speeds, which proved to be a feat of raw testicular fortitude on my part. You see, I had to basically straddle the gas tank with my cockles in order to accommodate Weiser’s fat ass. But once we hit the road it was a straight ‘n smooth 500m sprint up to the Thameswood Manor, my place of lodging.
I am certain we looked like two wild and crazy guys. Two drunk, half mad, possibly dangerous rube’s covered in mud, sawdust and stagnant puddle water.
On weeeed…
Sliding to a halt, the quad backfired like a hangover victim after a trip to taco bell….there was no need, it seemed, to venture into the house to see if anyone was home.

It is at this point I must introduce two other members of this “Middlemiss gang”. Which is quite unfortunate, since I must now think of two new alias’; for reason of “plausible deniability”.
These two individuals were what many would consider to be “junior” members of the Middlemiss brown bottle conglomerate. Incorporated.
Twitchy Bogart, and Biff Biffndale were both young up and comers, both fearless (or at least deficient in the basic mechanisms which trigger fear responses, thus causing the brain, and soon-there-after the rest of the body to say “hey! no no no, I don’t be thinkin’ that’s a very smart idea!”).
Both were eager to toss aside their paddles, jump into the frigid depths of cripple creek, and float around with the rest of us.

As we waited for Cooter to get back from his homestead, Weiser and myself began briefing these two on the goings on thus far. With whiskey in hand of coarse.
We soon began to realize the magnitude of the tar-pit we were stuck in. Surely this day could not end without some serious technical errors and drunken stupidity. Which was, as it turned out, the prime selling feature; the idea which caused the other two to jump head first into what was going on.

Having finished our briefing, a couple cigarettes and some hooch; we all began feeling restless, as well as drunk. Standing around waiting for Cooter was in no way expanding our consciousness of the depths of drunken tomfoolery. We needed to move, act, do!
Fortunately there just so happened to be a spare GMC pick-up laying around. It had bucket seats which only provided room for two, but there was plenty of room in the box for ropes, pull chains, spare tires, or victims of too much fun. It seemed a perfect fit in our symphony of anarchy.
We figured we could drive the GMC down into the bush where the Civic was, hitch onto it with a tow rope and pull it out of the mud and pull start it, all in the same operation. It would be fairly easy, and with the Civic back in action we could have all sorts of funderful fun.
So we finished off the drinks we had in our hands and got to the business of starting up the GM.
It fired with the growl of a manic jungle cat, idling with the cold jitters of a speed freak in the early morning hours. Surely this vehicle wasn’t designed for bush travel, with it’s high torque engine, lowered frame and small racing style tires.
We were putting our faith in the hands of the unknown.
And one of those hands was probably holding a beer bottle full of whiskey.

Biff jumped into the driver’s seat, Weiser hurled himself into shotgun, and Twitchy shimmed himself into the box of the truck; leaving me on my own to navigate the quad.
It was slow going for the truck, the lack of ground clearance caused it to navigate with delicate, surgical precision through the winding, rutted bush trails. Little room for error. With the slightest miscalculation we could have easily had two vehicles stuck in the depths of The Conservatory.
While the three stooges navigated their way to the Civic I took a little time to race around on my own; practicing my catwalks and high speed drifting techniques.

By the time the truck reached the Civic I had finished my tomfoolery and was relaxing comfortably on the hood of the car; smoking a joint and working up a thirst for some more whiskey.
Two things which I excelled at.
Biff backed the truck up to the Civic with the skill and grace of a seasoned veteran, leaving the perfect amount of room to get a slingshot effect generated when we started towing the Civic out of it’s muddy prison. But first we needed a little break. A few moments to finalize our plans. And time to drink and smoke.
All the while we wondered what the fuck happened to Cooter. He’d been gone for some time. Had he gotten himself lodged under the load of wood? Did he go home and take a nap? Perhaps a race of extra-terrestrials had come and abducted him in order to purge his brain of his extensive knowledge of mechanics, combustibles, and drinkables.
It was indeed a strange and unsolved mystery.
One suitable for Robert Stack. Or Scooby-Doo.

We secured the tow rope to the rear of the truck and the front of the Civic; leaving enough slack in the rope to get some momentum and hopefully jerk the car free. Biff operated the truck, Weiser, Twichy, and myself were positioned behind the Civic so we could push it. Biff gunned it, stirring up the mud and lighting the woods up with the primal roar of straight-piped combustion. The three of us behind the car began pushing and shoving with all we had. Had I not been wearing rubber boots with my pants tucked into them; I believe one of my testes would have rolled down my leg and plopped into the mud. The beast wouldn’t budge. Biff backed the truck up and we tried it again. Same results. This continued on for about 10 minutes. The car wouldn’t move, and the truck was beginning to dig it’s own grave in this saturated clay muck. It seemed hopeless. Our only option was to wait until the ground dried up, or froze.
Well, there seemed no point in crying over spilled milk. After all, there was whiskey to be consumed. We all grabbed a seat in the box of the pick-up truck, poured up some rye ‘n cokes and sparked a dubie.

At that point in the afternoon, the sun broke through the forest canopy in rays of brilliant white light. They danced in coy little patterns, changing the forest’s landscape before our very eyes. A soft breeze had taken root; bringing with it a crisp, invigorating karmic outlook on the world around us.
In hindsight, some of that euphoric feeling may, possibly, have stemmed from the excessive consumption of booze and narcotics.
We all sat in quiet contemplation, passively taking in nature’s glory, and the pot’s intoxicating effects.
It was the time of year when the noise of wildlife conducting it’s daily routine was at a minimum. Only the sparse chirping of sparrows, and a lethargic old crow cawing erratically and unenthusiastically in the distance.
…And, the sound of a truck slamming into a downed tree trunk. This noise brought our floating minds crashing back to the here and now.
“What the fuck was that!”, exclaimed Weiser.
“Sounded like it came from up by the entrance to the trails…” someone said.
“Well, I guess happy hour’s over then.” was all I could think of to say.

This new, unexpected sound surely signified nothing good. Without much intel. to go on, one could make an educated guess that the noise we heard probably had something to do with Cooter. Had the extra-terrestrials dropped his truck from their ship into the conservatory? If so, in what state would we find the suspension system of the vehicle? These were urgent questions which required urgent answers. After another sip of hooch of coarse.

Once again, we mounted our mechanical steeds. I, on the quad; the other three in the red truck. As out of place and painful as that crash sounded, for some reason, I decided to ride behind the GMC. As it eked it’s way through the trails I fucked around behind it, pulling catwalk’s and endo’s; racing up to the truck’s rear bumper, then slamming on my brakes at the last moment. In retrospect, this probably increased my crash scene response time dramatically. Especially when, at one point, we had to halt the convoy in order to pry the quad off of me. Once I stopped laughing and lit a cigarette we were off again, to investigate the source of the mysterious noise. Which turned out to be the union of Cooter, his truck, and a big ugly hunk of tree.

It seems Cooter misjudged his angle of entry into the trail. Instead of making the required 90 degree turn, he made a turn which was more like 65-70 degrees. Which just so happened to be the same coordinates occupied by a huge piece of oak tree. The trunk was stuck underneath the frame of the truck, and the rear right tire was scarcely making contact with the ground.
Cooter was attempting to get himself out of this situation by rocking the truck back and forth. But with the tire barely making contact, the fuckin thing just didn’t have enough bite to get free.
Seeing us, Cooter shut the engine off and climbed out. He was in desperate need of a drink. Something to numb him up a bit before he surveyed the damage. Not that he, or any of us really needed any more ‘numbing’. But it couldn’t hurt….too much.

“How are we gonna get this fuckin’ thing unstuck?” I heard someone chuckle.
“Mud and blood and beer!” was the response


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