A TALE OF WHAT NOT TO DO: CHAPTER FOUR: THE SEARCH FOR COOTER

“The Conservatory is a peaceful plot of land, tucked away in the southern most corner of Middlesex county. Far off the beaten path. Outside the range of influence of those caustic forces which inhabit and rule the general landscape of this great peninsula… It has a beauty and harmonious simplicity which is seldom found in today’s world….
A place where it is not difficult to engage and become absorbed in……..life itself…..
There is such an absence of the thumb-print of mankind, that a person can break free of their “human” view of the world and actually see life. On it’s terms.…”
some dude on acid

Cooter had been missing for about half an hour. The last anyone had heard from him, he was going to take a piss. Nobody really paid attention to where he went to take this piss. But one would imagine a person need not go far for some privacy way out here. It’s not like we were the peeping tom types.
Our first thought was to start yelling for the fuckin’ guy. We figured if Cooter heard us yelling for him he’d give us a holler back.. We all fully expected to hear some sort of wild-bushman war-cry erupt from the depths of the forest. Nothing but silence. We yelled for him again. Again, nothing but the whistle of the wind through trees.
Could Cooter have been taken by some ominous Blair Witch type being? Brought to the bowels of the forest to be slaughtered like a pagan lamb?
Standing around sipping whiskey and puffing cigarettes wasn’t going to find our lost comrade. A search party had to be organized. We needed to comb through these woods with the thoroughness of an I.R.S. agent through income-tax statements.
But with no one taking the reins, we quickly slumped into our previous state of smoke, smoke, drink….. The whole situation was just so absurd that it was almost impossible to take it seriously or be concerned. We began concocting scenarios which attempted to explain what happened to our absent associate.

“Maybe he got the munchies and decided to hunt down a turkey…”
“Could’ve gone down to the Civic to check it out….or take a nap in the back seat.”
“Has anyone looked under the wheels of the trucks?”
“Could be he’s gone on a little stroll, to get in touch with nature. To listen with the patient, unfiltered oneness of all that is…..”
All of these were highly unlikely hypothesis’. Cooter was not known to walk great distances, so going to the Civic, chasing turkeys, or going for a nature walk were all out of the question. The thing which puzzled us most of all was that he disappeared right at the height of the action. Which was most out of character. Cooter was not the type of fellow to vanish when there was work to be done. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. Generally speaking, he was always in the front lines, the first man in and the last one out.

The great drunk hunt had begun. The search party we organized surely rivalled anything put together by the F.B.I., the C.I.A., C.S.I., Interpol, Barney Fife, or Dudley Do-Right. Like a rutting bull moose on a terrier, I mounted my trusty-rusty four-wheeled crash rocket with total authority and confidence. Cigarette dangling from my mouth, my eyes bloodshot, and more Korean than Canadian.
Mud, sawdust, rust and grease soaked and ground into my clothing.
A maniacal grin plastered to my face that only another fiend could appreciate. (and not fear)
A harsh devolutional harmony with all things in the now.
Norman Rockwell baby!, true Norman Rockwell……
I raced to the depths of The Conservatory on the quad, keeping a keen eye out for our missing comrade. Heading towards where the Civic lay trapped and comatose in the slick clay ground, I fully expected to find Cooter assessing the situation. But the air was still and the Civic lay where we had left it, completely serene and undisturbed. The sounds of the rest of my search party at work in the distance proved the only break to this still, naturalistic vision before me. I slowly made my way back to where the trucks were, with eyes so full of drink that it was nearly impossible to distinguish the trail from the trees, let alone find Cooter. It seemed I was not alone in my difficulties locating Cooter, or locating the way back. The forest was alive, and aware it seemed, of our state of non-sobriety. Because of this a multitude of tree limbs, tire ruts, holes, thorn bushes and squirrels leapt out at every turn, in every step. The great northern wilderness of terror.
The bush was having it’s way with each and every one of us. Weiser was covered in mud and rotten puddle water. He had slipped on a rutted, muddy spot of land and tipped ass over tea-kettle. In the process he had managed to successfully not find Cooter, but, not spill his beer bottle full of whiskey and possibly, but not necessarily, Coke.

Biff emerged from the forest appearing to be some sort of burdock bush/man conglomerate.
…come one come all! The most stupendous! The most stupify-ing ! The great; porcupine man! From the depths of Ontario, Canada’s great temperate forests we have contacted (and weaseled a binding one-sided contract out of) this marvel of man and nature’s harmonious tendency towards the obscene and irrelevant….
Apparently Biff had gotten his feet entangled in some vines that were growing along the ground. His fall was however, broken by a very large burdock bush. He had successfully not found Cooter, and also managed not to spill his beer bottle full of hooch.

Twitchy was busy examining the giant tear an ornery raspberry bush had inflicted on the leg of his pants, as well as the leg itself. The rest of us drank heavily and smoked with effortless force while contemplating the events that led us to this precise moment of vice induced freedom and dynamic reasoning

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