December 15, 2017

The Prospector

(In an abridged excerpt again stolen from my forthcoming book “The Storyteller and the Poet” soon to be available on Amazon Kindle Books, I present you with a humorous true tale of The Prospector lifted from its pages.)

“The next summer comes along and finds me buried way back in the bush again, along with a couple of old time hard-bitten and completely profane Yukon prospectors for whom I’ve consented to a gopher (go-pher this, go-pher that, right now!). Crusty and testy as they are in every damn thing they do, Tony and Wally are a couple of icons of Yukon mining history who are written high into the annals of local fame, and well worth the bother of spending some serious bush time with.

The two months I spend with them building a tote road back into some copper claims they’ve got buried in the mountains is a rare treat, and an even rarer insight into the personalities and colorful character which makes them the icons they’ve become in both history and memory”.

The old Yukon prospectors were a tough and tenacious breed who always believed they’d make that “Big Strike” of their dreams over the next hill. You’ll have to read the book when it comes out to peruse the poem I wrote on that theme inspired by these two old codgers – it’s called ‘The Prospector’ too – but I’ll give you a hint about it. The last two lines of it state “The Yukon keeps you waiting, but in the end she’s fair!”…and now on with the story.

“The Yukon really was more than fair in the end as it turned out for one of them, because in a side-note well worth the telling here because of its direct connection to both of these guys and the poem I wrote because of them, I ran into the larger and testier of those two fellas many years later in another life in a different place.

I’m sitting in a local truck-stop cafe in the lumber town I inhabit at the time, when a gleaming mile-long white Cadillac limousine complete with liveried chauffeur pulls up in front of the cafe. The abnormally auspicious occasion drags everybody inside the cafe out of their chairs in a hurry to observe this local aberration first-hand through the large front windows.

First out the huge side door when it opens to the chauffeur’s touch is a tall, leggy and absolutely gorgeous mini-skirted blonde, followed immediately by another one just as blindingly  gorgeous and lightly clad in the skirt and other departments, but brunette in color.

It’s who follows these two bombshells out the door though that drops my jaw in amused amazement, and instant recognition of both who it is and what he’s doing with these two sensuous ladies now cuddling up to him on either side. Be double damned if it isn’t the prospector himself, big old Tony  – he must have finally struck that pay-dirt and made the millions he was always carrying on about!

With the chauffeur leading the way and opening doors for his party of three, they sweep grandly into this lumber town cafe as though they’re entering the prestigious lobby of the Hotel Vancouver itself, parting the sea of gawking bodies like an icebreaker shoving its snout though pan ice, and seat themselves delicately at a table.

Well to tell the truth, the girls seat themselves delicately. Tony as usual just thumps his old carcass down onto a chair and drags it closer to the feed trough, just like I always remember him doing. Its seems that some things haven’t changed after all, no matter the fancy stuff he’s into now, I’m thinking to my laughing memories.

It’s not until everyone else in the place has returned still gawking to their seats that old Tony even bothers looking at anything else other than his two succulent companions. He glances up at me still standing near his table and does a sudden double-take in recognition. Then he roars out my name and stretches out his huge paw to me across the front end appendages of the blonde he’s parked next to, and as I well recall from past contact with him, it again gets lost inside his huge mitt that’s gripping mine into pulp suitable for one of the local mills to process into skinny paper.

Naturally he starts ignoring his companions completely and wants to know what I’m doing in this dinky little place of a town (that’s his description, not mine, being as he now lives in the grand metropolis of Vancouver as I’m to find out soon enough). As I tell him briefly about my current tale of life here he keeps reaching out to quiet the pouts on the faces of both girls, who are getting a little bent out of shape because he’s not paying his high-priced attention to them.

It turns out from his tale told back to me that he has in fact finally hit pay-dirt after all those hard-scrabble decades of trekking Yukon mountains and valleys – he’s struck it rich in the millions from high-grade silver claims sold to a big outfit that says it’s going to mine them someday. He’s been laughing all the way to the bank and back from it, he says – with a lot of side detours to engage the services of sumptuous ladies like the ones with him today. He’s making up for all those lost years he says, with a huge and lecherous grin plastered across the face I recall so well from the grouchy and endless days spent with it.

And aside from the pit stop here, guess what their final destination is gonna be he asks me. I’ve still got his number from the old days, and when I correctly suggest Whitehorse as the place he’s heading to show off his ladies and flaunt his big million dollar brass ones he roars again, this time with laughter in confirmation of my guess.

Tony just flat out doesn’t care what the cost of a chauffeured limousine (plus two very high priced specialty girls) is going to be from Vancouver, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon and back. He’s having the time of his life and burning every candle he can grab at both ends until his wick burns out, is pretty much the assessment he gives me through his gap-toothed and happy old grins.

I can’t help but add my laughter and happiness for him to that of his as this tale unfolds and applies its own footnotes to the history books already written between us. After they eat their meals Tony converts my other hand to similar pulp in a farewell marked humorously by the urgency of his remaining happy passage through life, and off the limousine roars to far-away Whitehorse in a cloud of dust and local wood-chips dropped from passing trucks.

I never do get to see Tony again, but I hear many years later that he died flat broke with a great big smile on his face that just wouldn’t go away, even in death.”

If you’ve enjoyed this tale about the prospector who made it big, write your comments in the box below and send them to me. I’d love to know what went through your mind when you read about The Prospector.

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