The Time Mike Pence Killed An Endangered Bald Eagle
The following story is meant to be humorous, and is not intended to represent the real-life Mike Pence. As far as we know he has never, in fact, dressed as a woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
To tell you the story of the time Mike shot the endangered bald eagle is a funny enough tale, worthwhile in its own right—it’s a good one, I think you’ll agree—but it’s also an opportunity to tell you about a great friend of mine, Booper McCarthy, may the poor fool rest in peace. He died as he lived, a great, lovable, gregarious imbecile. But that’s another story.
This story begins on a cold Monday morning some January or another. Mike and I belonged for many festive years of blessed memory to a Morris Dancing side that specialized in a particular tradition called the Molly Dance. Every Plough Monday—first Monday after the Feast of the Epiphany—we’d march down to the village and perform our program for the village folk. Bells about the ankles, the auld song that Grandad used to sing, good, strong cider for the tall and soft cider for the small. Mike played the part of the Molly for our side, which required him to dress in glorious, ostentatious drag and specially adorned combat boots.
I’ll come back to that bit in a moment.
As we were preparing to head out we came to a moment of crisis. You should understand, now: my great friend Booper and I had the role of the pantomime horse. I was the front, as no person in their right mind would let McCarthy drive. That he was the horse’s ass was not lost upon any of us. What was, in point of fact, lost by all of us that clear January morning was one Booper McCarthy.
“Bryan,” Mike said. “I’ll check the girl’s dormitories down by the nurse’s school. I need not tell you of the intensity of his interest in the fairer sex. You check the woods hereabout.”
So check the wood I did. It’s a wild, primordial forest, bounded on one side by the village and the other by a broad river. It was not long before I met the fool in the forest. The motley fool. A miserable world! As I do live by food I met the fool wandering through the wood.
“Now, McCarthy,” I said. “You know we’ve a dance today and sure and but it’s starting soon!”
“Bryan!” says he, taking his watch-and-chain out of his pocket and holding it lazily up to his ear. “Ah! Don’t you know I’d forgotten to wind the blessed thing!”
“Never mind the dial,” I said. “Whatever the time it is you’re late for the show.”
And just like that, I dragged him off to our staging area.
I’d managed to get the two of us dressed in our halves of the costume. Performing as a pantomime horse requires the intuition and skill one would usually associate with the nuance of the ice dancer. As one partner moves so, too, must the other anticipate and accentuate the other. It is a delicate and subtle conversation of motion. There are few finer arts than these, in truth, the ice dancing and the pantomime horse.
“McCarthy, what rhymes with ‘purple’ and what,” I asked catechism-fashion. “Does it denote?”
“The answer to your question, Bryan,” said Booper. “And an impertinent question it is, is ‘curple’ and it means the backside of a horse or donkey.”
“So it does,” I said. He grabbed my belt and we, together, became a horse. I’ll not say that we made the best of horses, but the village judge, one Dr. Martin Dysart, gave us rave reviews. We pranced and danced and reared for all and sundry. Children laughed and tugged at my ears and the tail on McCarthy’s bum. It was a great show.
Meanwhile Mike made merry in his pretty pink polythene floral dress and Doc Martens, the latter of which he’d adorned with rainbow and unicorn stickers. Spins and suggestive poses the like of you’ve never seen. One minute he’s a brazen Jezebel and the next he’s the village Pollyanna, skipping about and collecting daisies. Much laughter was had at his broad antics.
His dancing involved a shotgun.
I should probably explain the shotgun.
Many Morris Dances involve some class of prop derived from or imitating a weapon, be it a play sword or a dummy longgun or, in some traditions, a broomstick. Mike preferred to do his Molly Dance with a no nonsense break-action double-barreled shotgun. Beautiful gun. Always in the best repair. Treated it like a wife, he did. Little did we know that he always had a pair of slugs stored in his brassiere.
We’d just assumed —
Now, at any rate, we found out that weekend that they were slugs.
We went to bed tired men that night. We fell asleep still dressed in our costumes. Or, at least, most of us slept. Booper, despite his obstructed view as a horse’s ass, had apparently scouted the co-ed population with a remarkable thoroughness.
It was when I woke the next morning that I realized he was missing again. Michael was roused and the search was on. We decided to invert our previous search strategy. Michael was to the wood; I to the nurse’s school.
When I got there the sun was just breaking over the rooftops. The village was still asleep. There was a drain pipe which leaned away from a corner of the dormitory like it was offended by the building’s presence. I saw the handiwork of one Booper McCarthy in that saddened drain.
I was soon inside the building and awakening all its residents with a spoon and a pot lid like a town cryer at Pompeii. I have no idea where the spoon and pot lid came from. It turns out it was all unnecessary, of course, because when I glanced out a common room window I saw your man walking down the street with a puppy in his arms.
I barely made it out of the dormitory alive.
“Booper!” I called once I’d caught up with him at a wood by the river.
He turned and with that broad grin of his he greeted me.
I hailed him with the standard Irish greeting.
Níl fo-éadaí á chaitheamh agam!
And he gave me the typical response.
It is always a blessing and a joy to hear the sound of the melodious Irish spoken!
“Now, Booper,” I said, out of breath. “What do you mean staying out at all hours? And where in the hell did you find a puppy?”
“To the former,” he said. “I will merely confirm your suspicion that I met a bird. To the latter I confess absolute drunken ignorance, but he’s cute and I’ve named him Dalkey.”
“Sure and don’t you think your bird or whoever is going to want him back?”
He looked genuinely perplexed.
“You might be right; you might be right,” said he.
“And your man the flaccid drainpipe beyond, I take it that also your work?”
He responded only with a smile that was equal parts pride in having attempted it and relief in having survived the attempt.
“Well, we need to find the owner before this turns into a reported case of the petnapping. I have heretofore kept your preposterous decision making out of the papers and the courts and I’ll not lose my clean sheet over your man Dalkey, as cute as he may be.”
We headed back towards the nurses college: past the peddler who inexplicably sold chipmunks and squirrels in cages, past the purveyor of strips of fabric; past the tennis ball seller and the peddler of things that squeaked when you squeezed them; past the poulterer’s and past the butcher.
“Now, Booper,” I whispered conspiratorially. “We don’t want to arouse any suspicion. Let us skulk round this corner and see what we can see.”
We stuck our faces round the corner and were immediately faced with the doubled-barrel of Mr. Michael Pence’s shotgun.
“Unhand the puppy, nefarious brigands!” he shouted.
Booper instinctively dropped the puppy in question.
“Michael, it’s just Booper and me!” I cried, as Dalkey ran off in the direction of the butcher’s.
“Egads, man!” Mike said, lowering the gun and putting a hand on my shoulder. “If only I’d known, I’d have been less confrontational. But our friend the pup is away: we must pursue the lad until he can be brought to safety. Make haste.”
Haste was made and we were off in the direction of the butcher’s but our hopes were dashed when the handsome mutt saw us and decided to run off with a marrow bone the size of his head to explore the poulterer’s.
We were gaining, though.
Just as Booper pounced on him, Dalkey snuck through his grasp and headed toward the High Street where the peddler who sold Things That Squeaked When You Squeezed Them—an idiosyncratic feature of the Molly Dances in our village he was, and a delight to the local dog community, if a nuisance to their owners—over the traffic-polished cobbles he went like a terror to the squeaking.
We carefully crept up to the stall, each of us trying not to make any sound, each of us mindful of any movement, you know.
“We’ve got him surrounded!” I shouted but at the same moment a tube of tennis balls was upset at the stall beyond and the balls bounced down the hill and Dalkey was off like a flash, right between my legs and chasing the Penns and Wilsons down the High Street
Mike had a moment of blessed intuition.
“To the seller of fabric samples!” he cried. “This Dalkey looks like the sort of lad who’d like to pare down a strip of furred cloth as fine as he could make it. Perhaps we’ll find him thus distracted!”
We were off again, Mike with his gun, me with my wits and Booper as, I suppose, what you might call moral support.
Merrymakers filled the streets with noise and confusion.
Mike’s intuition was right, of course, for there we found Dalkey, happily tearing strips of fleece with his mouth and forepaws.
We crept up as silently as we could; Mike had his shotgun drawn.
Dalkey worried the strip of fabric mercilessly. He was singularly focused on the process of tearing the large bit into smaller bits.
Through the employment of grand gestures we espoused a plan wherein Mike would flush him and Booper and myself would tackle your man the dog. In retrospect I think the result would have been several concussions but this was not to be, thankfully.
Dalkey saw us as we moved in and he escaped us at a run towards the Chipmunk and Squirrel Emporium.
I should at this point mention that, at the time this story took place, your men the Bald Eagles were critically endangered. They have recovered to a great extent in many parts of the United States, but it is important to recognize that, when this story occurred, your men the birds were very much in the neighborhood of the extinction. A sorry state, a very sorry state they were in.
Some drunken fellows in the crowd toppled over the cages of your man the Vermin Peddler Supreme. His wares were scattered across the cobbles of the village square. Dalkey had a bead on a chipmunk of ill repute and was after him at speed into the wood.
That’s when it happened: a beautiful, strong, Bald Eagle swooped in and grabbed Dalkey in his talons. Mike didn’t hesitate but, taking a slug out of his bra, loaded it and shot the eagle as it took flight. Dalkey fell a foot or two to the ground and, shuddering, was taken back to his person, who renamed him Michael, after the hero who had brought him home safe and sound and none the worse for wear.
Some time I should tell you about the time Mike attempted to take his family from Independence, Missouri to Oregon’s Willamette Valley in a covered wagon having only supplied them with wagon axles and ammunition.