Well, it didn’t take too long before we started getting restless standing around Waiting. Drinking. Smoking. Waiting. The alcohol in our bloodstreams demanded action, movement, locomotive inertial differentiation. Voluntary or otherwise. Another drink seemed a probable catalyst for some inspiration of ideas.

What happened next was; Twitchy was a little hammed, and he really just felt like taking the quad out for a good ‘ol fashioned rip. Sounded like a good idea. Looking, calling, and waiting for Cooter wasn’t working, so; might as well have a little fun. That was, after all, the whole reason we were there. And so Twitchy mounted the four-wheeler like an old pug on a barn cat. Slow, sloppy and in danger of getting hurt before the fun even started, that is. It fired without hesitation. Apparently restless as well. It was a slovenly inbreeding of man and machine. Somewhere between Bonanza and The Dudesons.
Twitchy was off, into the abyss of the forest trails. In all probability; destined to become the next victim of the dark ominous forces which inhabited this lush lush’s paradise.

While this was going on, the rest of us continued our hazed observation of the naturalistic beauty of this hidden gem of the Canadian ecosystem. With booze, smokes and joints in hand. We slowly sauntered this way and that, up and down, through and out the trail system. Pausing to take in the clean, crisp country air; to admire a particularly robust patch of Trilliums; and, every once in a while,
to glance around in the shrubbery for evidence of Cooter’s presence.
Where were Molder and Scully when you need them?
Superman was, it seemed, above doing a search and rescue for a missing drunk person.
This was a job for Magnum and his P.I. skills.
But The Conservatory terrain was much to rustic for the Ferrari’s low racing stance and tight, highly sensitive shock absorption system.
And so, due to extenuating circumstances, budget limitations, and geographical isolation; Cooter was stuck with us.

After a short while Twitchy returned with a face full of mud and a tale of what not to do; namely, driving through a massive puddle while quenching one’s thirst. The drink was now part of the tapestry that was his shirt, and the bottle a wayward vessel in the lonely sea of mud hidden away in the majestic depths of this playground for the pissed.
Sounded like fun, and Biff was next in line. But first he finished his beverage and left the bottle at “base camp”

The scent of disaster/comedy began to infiltrate the fresh country breeze. Strangeness was brewing, fermenting, curing, prairie-dogging.

We were all beginning to embrace the notion that Cooter had probably been abducted by aliens. Poor aliens. What would become of them and their delicate instrumentation when they proceeded to conduct their routine of poking and prodding, greasing and probing? Those poor sons ‘a bitches had no idea that Cooter had been consuming beer, whiskey and naught else all day. Probing around his nether regions could result in a catastrophic “incident“. Like when a scared porcupine shoots its quills. Like when a frightened octopus squirts a cloud of ink. Yeah, a combination of those two scenarios gives you a rough approximation of what those aliens were in for.

The forest was still, we were all as silent as a mouse, listening with vice-filtered ears to the echo of Biff and the quad coursing through the muddy, leaf covered veins of the trails system. A slight breeze created a flange effect to the banshee growl. The gently swaying trees cast dancing shadows on the bushes, fallen trees, muddy trucks and drunken rubes. Everything around us was exploding with the ether of life.

Well Biff made it back in one piece. As did the quad. The ride had evidently given him an energy boost (no doubt due to some close calls with trees, mud holes, the river.. whatever. ) His veins were coursing with adrenaline and booze and he had the grin of a grade school boy who had gotten a look at his first set of boobies.
It looked like fun and so I was next in line.

I mounted the quad and fired it up with the grace of a diesel mechanic repairing a PC. Weiser was discussing the situation with the other two and had come upon a hypothesis as to where Cooter was. He was maniacal with excitement(and drink). Totally sure he knew where our associate had disappeared to; but being far, far too intoxicated to even consider driving the quad he insisted that I drive him. It sounded good to me. As Weiser ran up to the quad and began jumping on, well; I was already in motion.
Like a bat outta hell we were off on the great drunk hunt.
All of a sudden, I could hear this strange guttural moaning coming from the rear of the vehicle, located somewhere near where the tail pipe was. The faster I tried to go, the louder it got.
Turns out it was Weiser. Hanging from the frame by the belt loops on his jeans, trying desperately to free himself and at the same time keep his head from dragging on the ground. Because I was drunk, it took a couple seconds to process all of this high priority information. And another couple to react and bring the quad to a halt.
It was pure comedy.
Weiser was fused with the machine, feet sticking straight up in the air, totally helpless, totally drunk. And so with all the care and consideration of a fat kid at an all-u-can-eat buffet, I reefed at Weiser’s belt loops then heaved him off of the back of the four-wheeler. He sort of floundered around on the ground for a minute while trying to un-wedge his underwear, brush the dirt off him, and regain at least a minimal degree composure.
Being the kind compassionate sort of fellow I am; I laughed. A lot.
With those shenanigans over with, we set sail for destinations unknown. To me at least. It turned out that Weiser’s hypothesis as to where Cooter went led us on an expedition through uncharted territory. And surprise, surprise; there was no sign of Cooter.
We stopped in a slightly wooded section of a farmers field that lay on the outskirts of Middlemiss and pondered. And smoked a cigarette. And pondered.
It was time to face the grim reality that Cooter was gone, M.I.A., vanished with no tell-tale signs as to where he may be.
We returned to base camp and briefed the other two on the situation.
It was looking as though we were never going to find him.

But as the saying goes; it’s always darkest before the dawn.

As we were standing around, drinking and strategizing our next plan of attack, Twitchy decided to go water his thirsty, thirsty horse. Well, after about 30 seconds or so, Twitchy lit the forest up with a victory cry. And then manic laughter.

“Maybe he finally realized how tiny his dingaling really is.”

Twitchy came bounding from the edge of the trail where he had been pissing, eyes bulging and a grin only a nancy-boy could love.
“I found him!!!” was all he could say between laughs.
“where?’ I asked
“right over there, where I went piss. I almost pissed on the bastard!”

He took off back in the direction he came from, with the rest of us close on his heels.
Sure enough there Cooter was, about six feet off the trail where base camp was located, face down in the mud and dead leaves.
Being the kind, caring, compassionate fellows we were; we began yelling Cooter’s name and nudging him with our feet. At least he was breathing. So well in fact, that he was snoring. After a minute or two of being kicked Cooter began to awaken slowly, drunkenly.

As Cooter was taking his piss the booze had, apparently, taken hold of his equilibrium and teamed up with gravity to throw him to the ground face first. He then, apparently, decided to take advantage of the situation and have himself a little cat nap.
So we helped our fallen associate up off the ground, gave him a smoke and led the way back to the trucks, and more importantly, the booze.
Weiser poured up a fresh set of pops, and we all took a seat in the box of Cooters truck and cheered and drank to good times.

Life around the conservatory is never mundane.
And rarely sober.
It is however, always fun.
And the true definition of freedom.


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