Paul Turner, the owner of the Spokant-Review newspaper walked hurriedly into his plush office carrying a 9 iron in one hand and a latté in the other. He set down the coffee spilling it, and extends his hand out to Johnny.
"Hello and you are? I'm sorry, so many come through my office on a daily basis I tend to forget names. You must be the fella that my secretary said called about a monster you saw in Hole Lake? "
Johnny Cornet stood clumsily and grabbed Mr. Turner's extended coffee dripping hand and shakes it as if he were trying to rip his arm out of the socket.
"Ah, howdy Mr. Turner, it's an honor, I mean, shucks I'm Johnny Cornette. I called you "bout seein' somethin' strange in the lake." At this, Mr. Turner grimaces and grabs his shoulder in pain. He then steps into his wastebasket and proceeds to walk around the office with it stuck to his foot.
"Ah yes, yes, good, thank you for coming in. I am curious;curious about so much these days and especially about Inland Northwest lakes, and of course what might lurk far beneath the surface." He flashed an impish look at Cornette who was gazing all around the room and then wiggled his hands above his head while mimicking some kind of ghost sound. "You know Johnny, there are reported monsters in 67 lakes around the world like Loch Ness in Scotland and in Capitol Lake in Olympia, and so, logically I was wondering if someone might have seen a monster in a lake around here! Ya, aha! Like maybe Liberty Lake or Badger Lake." He then leans over and grabs a wooden, foreign made humidor and opens it. "Would you like a cigar?"
Johnny, with his eyes bugged out, chuckles while fanning the air. "Whew, oh no thanks, my ma says that smokin' is bad fur ya health. She died of lung cancer. My Uncle Jed was always smokin' some funny sweet smellin' stuff that he grew in the barn, and ya know, one day he was in the fridgerator eatin' everythin' in sight when the fridge door shut on him and, well, that was the end of poor Uncle Jed, head cut clean off. Ever since we blamed it on that stuff he smoked."
"I see, good story Johnny." Mr. Turner said as he plucked a 10 inch Cuban cigar from the flimsy humidor. He ignites the end and inhales deeply, puffing a cloud of dense white smoke into Johnny's face. Then he threw the still hot match into the wastebasket that was around his foot and starts a small fire. He quickly grabbed a pitcher of water off his desk and emptied it into the blazing can. "Sorry about that. Now tell me Johnny, that is, may I call you Johnny?"
"Yep, I've been called worse."
"Heh, I bet, but I know what you mean, me too," answered Paul. "So tell me about what you think you saw, I'm curious." Paul now reaches and snaps on his cassette tape recorder, activates the hidden video camera that no one knew about, and feels to make sure the PANIC BUTTON that alerts security is where it always is, under his desk. Then he settles back into his tattered leather Stratus-Recliner. "So tell me what you know."
"Well, one afternoon me and Skeeter, my dog, were down by Sprague Lake huntin' them little rat things, ah, marmots, ya that's it, marmots. We cetch "em and eat "em raw." Johnny drawls. "See, he chases them outta them holes they dig then's I hit "em with a rock on the head! The ones we don't eat I put "em in my satchel and we take "em to ma. They're good barbequed up with lots of that hot yeller mustard."
"Do you have them often?" Turner said as he shifted uneasily in his chair urping up some of his lunch.
"Oh, once a week," answered Johnny. "Can I bring you one? They're mighty tasty!"
"Oh, no thanks, I'll take a reign check on that."
"Anyways, there on the ground I saw somethin' that looked good, little cute things with little hats on top of a stem. Ma puts things like these on my marmot steak sometimes. She says they settle me down." Johnny smiles a jack-o-lantern smile revealing a dentist's nightmare, then continues. "So I picked a few and I chawed "em up. After I ate a bunch, I felt kinda like I was flyin' but then I wanted to paint a picture like that Mikelonjello feller, I felt real creative like, but I knows I got no talent at that. Then I felt like I was dreamin' but I knows I was awake "cause I heard Skeeter and then I heard myself say "shut up' like I always do."
"Go on man;GO ON!" Mr. Turner puffed furiously on his cylindrical Cuban delight while he white knuckled the chair's arm rests. A hint of saliva was gathering at the corners of his lips.
"Well, I was standin' there starin' at the lake spectin' something real terrible to happen like a (laughs) monster to walk out or somethin' like in them movies and such! Then I says, "quiet Skeeter'! "cause he was puttin' up a fuss, barkin' real mean like, teeth out, hair up, foam, you know, and then he just took off with his tail twixt his hind legs runnin' down the highway headin' east. I looked back at the lake and I saw what all the fuss was about. There was this dinosaur, I know'd it was from the picture books in Miss Jones class I look at. He was just walkin' out of the water with a smile on his face. I thought of a story we read in Sunday school once, and then I was froze to the ground, scared spit less!"
At this, Mr. Turner whispers softly to himself while glancing idly out the window wishing for a Wendy's hamburger. "Man's best friend, ha, the irony, I've got to do a Slice column about that someday. Then he deftly found the PANIC BUTTON. "So go on Johnny, please, go on."
"So see, there I was, standin' there lookin at this creature, I mean he seemed nice and all, just walked out of the water smilin' at me, but jeeze!" Johnny Cornette suddenly stands and gestures wildly with his knees knocking together, his eyes bugged out, screaming at the top of his lungs. "Sure I was scared, but he didn't attack or nothin', he just smiled right nice like, like you or I would smile." Johnny then smiled showing his nightmarish display of dental horror.
"Smile, no, now wait just a gall darn minute. You say there is lizard monster in Hole Lake, and he smiled! How, how big was he?"
"Oh, about this tall," said Johnny as he raised his hand up to about 5 feet. "About tall as you."
Mr. Turner now was crossing and uncrossing his legs at a frantic pace as he spun in his chair. He yanked down his necktie and thought, rubbing his forehead until it bled. At last could it be true? A pint sized Palaeosaurus living in the lake!
"Yep, a real big smile like those politicians do in those pictures, you know, kinda' fake like. Then he said hello."
Turner interrupts. "Jeepers he;he said hello!! Well I'll be a;! Hurry, go on man!" The clamor had other newspaper persons peeking over the cardboard partition.
"Are ya ready for this Mr. Turner?" Turner shifted nervously in his big chair while ashes from his half smoked cigar flew about the room like snow and hitting the floor like meteorites on the surface of the moon.
"Ya I think so."
"Okay, so this monster's lizard's face changed. Now it looked sorta like the mayor lady's face that runs the town! I saw her face on a poster once, smilin' all phony and it looked just like that, real phony. So then, this monster, or whatever it was, actually talked tom me! I memorized what we jawed about. Want me to tell ya?"
"Yes Johnny, oh God yes, TELL ME QUICK!" As Mr. Turner spoke he moved out to the edge of his chair in great anticipation, his eyes big and round and his nostrils flaring. He yanked out and threw the half smoked cigar across the room and then grabbed another cigar from the flimsy wooden box and nervously tried to light it. Suddenly the weight of his body on the edge of the chair caused it to flip and dump him on the floor. The chair rocketed back against the paper-like wall separation knocking it down onto the floor. Luckily the adjoining office was empty.
Now, through the magic of time travel and creative story telling, let's travel back to the moment when Johnny and his reptilian friend converse on the banks of Hole Lake.
"Hello, and who might you be?" hissed the short monster as he waddled out of the lake dripping wet.
Johnny stepped back in awe and then spoke, "My name is Johnny, Johnny Cornet. What's your name?"
"That's not important Johnny, but what is important is what's happening now in your town and in your world."
"Well, where did you come from?" asked Johnny wishing he was someplace else.
"That's not important Johnny, but what is important is the future, the future must change. I was sent here to alter the future, for you and your town. You see, I'm not a monster, but an alien from a distant planet sent here in a form that you'd recognize, a prehistoric reptile. My true form would be so horrifying that you would go immediately insane. However after looking over your town, I think you are already nuts. Don't be afraid little man, I only want to make things better."
"Gee mister," began Johnny, "I got F's in science and, well, in everything, but you sound nice. Are you going to eat me and destroy our town with fire from your mouth?"
"I might, but that's not important Johnny, what is important is for me to try and stop the careless destruction that your species is doing to your planet. You must stop polluting everything!"
"Okay, but how?"
"I don't know. I was sent only to scare you. I have no clue otherwise."
"Then you're a fraud, a bluffer, a charlatan, a cheat, a faker, a four-flusher, a fraud, a hoax, an imitation, an imposture, a junque."
"All of the above, my little friend, and I'm sure your thesaurus will reveal more names you can call me."
"So you have no magic powers?"
"None, zero, zip."
At this Johnny picked up a big rock and smashed it on the top of the monsters head. Its skull exploded open not revealing a disgusting mess of brain matter and skull fragments, but 12"x 14" color glossy pictures of what earth will look like in 10 years, in 100 years and in 1,000 years if man made no changes in his ways. Johnny recoiled at the sight of these images fluttering out of the limp monsters head and screamed.
"AHH! NO! HOW CAN I STOP THIS?! Oh Jesus and mother McCree, I'm so sorry. What can I do? I thought everything was just fine, and now look! Oh Lord I can't do nothin' now. I should've paid more the mind to my teacher, and then I'd know."
As Johnny continued to kneel down on the red clay shoreline and scream, the now grayish flaccid monster slowly began to wither away and disappear from sight, but to never be forgotten in the minds eye of our hero, Johnny Cornet. A warm wind whirled up dust devils that swept out over the green lake water, and a raft of dead fish came into view floating on the lakes surface. Suddenly a bird fell down with a splash and sank out of sight. As these bizarre events were happening, the round red sun sank heavy on the horizon as it prepared for another restless night under the heavy blanket of pollution from the town of Spokant. Off in the distance the faint sounds of people screaming could be heard along with an occasional crack of a rifle shot.
As Johnny regained his composure he spotted the crumpled remains of a magazine under a cactus off in the distance. He struggled to his feet and stumbled over to the white wad of muddied pages. He bent over and grabbed the soggy rag from its prickly hideout and then glared red eyed at the stained front cover. There in all his glory was the face of Alfred E. Newman smiling up at Johnny with the caption, "What, me worry?"