Thursday, March 17, 2016

3/17/16

JAWBONING
By C.E. Gee


Margaret, a professor of Archeology, strolled through the Quad, very much enjoying the warm, spring day. It was two hours until her next class.

“Hey Margaret!” shouted Ellis, trotting up to Margaret from behind. “Wait up!”

Margaret stopped, rolled her eyes, turned about, faced Ellis.

“We need to talk,” declared Ellis.

Ellis was an Associate Professor in the University’s College of Forestry.

Around a frosty smile, Margaret replied, “About what?”

Margaret was leery of Ellis. He had a much deserved reputation as a lady’s man.

Though physically attractive, Ellis projected a number of affectations Margaret found off-putting.

Capped with a Stetson, clothed western-style, with a string tie and alligator skin cowboy boots embellished with silver toe-caps, Ellis definitely stood out.

“Let’s sit,” said Ellis, nodding toward a nearby bench.

They sat. Margaret kept her distance.

“Look,” said Ellis, “I was at the pharmacy the other day, your sister was on duty. She wasn’t very busy, so we got to talking. I told her about an article I was writing.
Linda told me that I should speak to you because your husband is into Science Fiction and he’s got this friend who actually writes the stuff.”

Margaret said, “I assume this has something to do with your article?”

Ellis replied, “This article I’m writing, it’s almost finished. It’s a first-person account of something that once happened to me, but it reads as sort of a combination of Science Fiction and religion.

“I’m hoping your husband will con your friend into proof-reading my article before I send it in.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” replied Margaret.

“Thanks.”

“So what happened to you?” asked Margaret.

Ellis took in a deep breath, exhaled, said, “You know, when I was a kid, I lived in the little town of Fossil, way over in Wheeler County. Ever hear of the town of Fossil?”

“Yeah,” replied Margaret. “It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere.”

“You got it. Anyway, when I was a kid, I used to go hunting with my Dad, my Granpa, and my cousin Lee.”

“One day we were up on the rimrocks, hunting mule deer. My Dad and Lee dropped Granpa and me off at a spot overlooking a saddleback formation on a nearby ridge so we could set up an ambush. Then Dad and Lee drove around to the other side of the ridge in order to scare any deer over there into running through the saddle.”

“The spot Granpa and me occupied was a campsite for Basque sheepherders. I was wandering around the campsite, walked up to the fire pit, found the skeleton of what I thought was a horse.

“Animals scavenging the body had pulled apart the jawbone into two pieces. I picked up one of the pieces. It looked like a cross between a Mauser C96 pistol used by the Germans in World War I and a flintlock pistol.

“A few teeth left on the jawbone were bunched together, made the jawbone look like it had a box magazine just like those old Mausers; the hinged end of the jawbone had a knob that made it look like the butt-end of a flintlock pistol.

“So I held the jawbone like a pistol, started going, POW! POW! POW!

“My Grandpa said, ‘You know what that is, don’t you boy? It’s the jawbone of an ass. You know, Samson killed the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.”

“Interesting,” commented Margaret.

Ellis went on. “I was reading lots of Science Fiction at the time. My Granpa’s observation hit me like a bolt of lightning. I suddenly realized that Samson had used a pistol to slay the Philistines –- maybe even some kind of science-fictiony type blaster or something. What appeared to be a box magazine could have actually been a battery compartment.

“I was never quite the same after that –- developed a lifelong skepticism of how people perceive history and religious writings and mythology and the like.”

Margaret smiled. “I can see that. Let me talk to my husband. He’ll talk to his friend. Okay?”

“Thanks, Margaret. I really appreciate it.”

***

Margaret had time before her class. She rushed home, sat at the desk in her home office, picked up her phone.

Margaret punched in some numbers.

“Pappy’s Pizza,” answered the called party..

Margaret pulled an index card from beneath the desk’s blotter, carefully read off of it, “I’d like a large -- thin crust, sausage, mushroom, and olive. No wait! Make that a medium.”

“Will that be black olive?”

Margaret replied, “It’s Margaret three.”

“One moment.”

Margaret held the receiver away from her ear as a series of multi-frequency tones squealed. The bi-directional scrambler system was then enabled.

A robotic sounding female voice asked “What is your access code?”

“Baltimore. Purple.”

There came a faint click.

“Agent Reily here. Whatcha got Margaret?”

“I’ve got a code three.”

Agent Riley said, “Okay Margaret, gimme the name and location of the perp.”

***

The next morning, Margaret went to the Memorial Union building for a quick breakfast before her first class.

She was sitting at a table when Linda rushed up, took a chair. Linda looked like she’d been crying.

“You hear what happened to Ellis?” Linda began sobbing.

Margaret wagged her head, took a sip of decaf coffee.

Linda wiped one eye with a tissue, blew her nose. “You know that BMW Ellis has?”

“Sure.”

“Somebody carjacked it, shot Ellis. They said he died instantly.”

“Good heavens!” exclaimed Margaret.

Margaret stood, went over to the chair next to her sister, sat. Margaret embraced her sister, comforted her as best she could.


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