ROCKMONT— Cave police are searching for a caveman they say has lit a string of fires across the city, including one that damaged numerous paintings at the Cave Art Museum of Rockmont.
“This is really disappointing,” said Cave Police Chief Ork in a news conference. “We as a human race literally discovered fire last week. It seems like it will have a lot of applications as we move forward. I mean, we were in the dark and now there’s light. At night! Of course someone had to go and start lighting fires.”
Asked if police have a suspect, Ork declined to comment but then added “Carl.”
“We all know it was Carl,” Ork said. “It’s always Carl.”
Carl was arrested two moons ago on obscenity charges after he began to draw pornographic cave drawings a mere 15 minutes after cave artist Rok invented the concept of art. When reporter Bear called Carl to ask for comment on his prurient new skill, the Neanderthal invented the concept of attacking the cave media.
“Why you only write about bad things,” Carl said at the time. “Why you no write about positive stories? Somebody should sue you. Ha ha. You suck.”
Carl could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but police say he is so far suspected of lighting 17 fires at numerous locations, including five saber-toothed tiger lairs, a bag of wooly mammoth droppings in a sack left on Chief Ork’s front porch and a series of hunting paintings by Rok currently on display at the Rockmont Cave Art Museum.
“This is simply outrageous,” Rok said. “I invented art several moons ago as a way to make a statement on male cave man hegemonic tyranny in the age of hunting and gathering, and then Carl comes along and sets it on fire.”
Rok, who goes by one name only (in spite of everyone only having one name, anyway) said he plans on going to graduate school to study artisan bead making and isn’t sure when, if ever, he will take up cave painting again.
“I’m very upset right now,” he said. “I can barely walk upright. Rok mad! Rok smash!”
Fire, being hailed as a landmark innovation for humans, comes from the angry yellow ball that lives in the sky and dies every night but comes back to life in the morning, according to Dr. Arf of the Grunt Institute.
Arf was part of the team that discovered fire last week at the Sandia Man Labs. He said it’s not totally clear how the fire got loose from the angry yellow ball or whether the angry yellow ball will come seeking vengeance.
He added that the newly discovered substance has applications in warming and illuminating caves, food preparation and curing small children of evil spirit possession. It also has a nice, earthy aroma, he said.
“Of course, Carl showed us all that it’s also good for setting dumpsters on fire,” Arf said. “And the poop on the chief’s porch is just childish, really. What’s the matter with this guy?”
My editor, Kevin Kaufman, died last weekend. He was a big fan of my column but a scary editor during a job interview. The last time I applied for an internal job promotion, the interview felt like enhanced interrogation.
He will be missed.
His passing reminded me of my journey to Colorado.
I was working at a small paper in a big town in southern New Mexico.
I needed a change of scenery, and Loveland, Colo., seemed a million lovely miles away. The Reporter-Herald, that city’s local paper, needed a breaking news reporter. It was one of 16 or so papers I applied to work at and the only one that called.
My first interview went fairly well except for the following question: If you had to write a story on property crime and couldn’t talk to any government officials about it, who would you talk to?
I’ve never been good at hypotheticals. I said that I would go around and talk to people on the street. It was a lame answer, but all I had.
The editor gave me better responses. The ravages of time have wiped them from my memory. It was this, that and the other. He assured me that he tanked the answer the first time around.
He called a week later and said he was thinking of giving me the job, but another paper, the Longmont Times-Call, about 15 minutes down the road, needed reporters more than he did. Would I mind doing an interview with the editor there?
A week later, and I was on the phone, playing up my skills as a breaking news reporter. The editor asked the same question. I thought about saying I’d already been asked, but why let the truth get in the way of a good job interview?
“I’d talk to this, that and the other,” I answered.
“That’s pretty good,” the editor said. “But what about who, what and when?”
Things were looking pretty good. I might escape southern New Mexico yet.
The Longmont editor called and said two editors at the Boulder Daily Camera wanted to follow up with me. I now knew that Colorado had at least three towns in it aside from Denver.
It was the first time I spoke to Kaufman, and the phone call immediately took on a level of intensity I was not used to.
And there was the question again: If you had to write a story on property crime and couldn’t talk to any government officials about it, who would you talk to?
“I’d say I’d speak to this, that, the other, who, what and when but also whoever and why not?”
“Wow, you really listed a lot of people there,” Kaufman said.
“That’s because I’ve heard the question three times.”
(Rats, I wasn’t supposed to say that.)
“Those sons of bitches stole my question,” Kaufman barked.
I’m not a religious man, but I’ll tell you this — Kaufman is at the pearly gates right now, and he’s asking the questions.
I used pinwheels and a pair of LA Lights sneakers to fashion a crude light bar in my four-cylinder pickup and parked just out of sight along the busy street outside the newsroom.
My first customer of the day was a gentleman of about 50 driving a white Subaru wagon. I didn’t have a radar gun, but I could tell he was speeding. “Eyeballing it” is the proper term. After pulling up behind him, I activated my lights then stuck my head out of the driver’s side window and made siren noises.
He pulled over. Oh my god! He actually pulled over!
I exited my truck, put on my mirrored aviator sunglasses and approached the Subaru. It was the first traffic stop of my new career. The adrenaline began to well up inside me. It was exciting and terrifying all at once. My teeth chattered ever so slightly. I walked up to his window and tapped on it until he rolled down his window.
“Can I help you?” he asked, his left eyebrow cocked a little too high for my liking.
“Sir,” I began, trying to speak with authority but remain approachable. “Do you know why I stopped you?”
He looked confused for a beat.
“You’re not a police officer.”
“Well, not exactly, sir,” I replied. “I’m a hybrid police officer and journalist.”
“What the hell is that?”
“I was confused myself,” I said. “It turns out that our local police have launched an app that allows them to report the news directly to the citizens. I assumed that if they are becoming journalists, I can become a police officer.”
“Oh my god. They didn’t actually do that? Hubris is what I’d call that.”
“I’m afraid so, sir. I’m going to need to see your license, registration and proof of insurance. I’m pretty sure you were speeding.”
“But you’re not a cop.”
“I had the same thought, sir, but I figure since the police think they can do my job, their job can’t be all that hard. So here I am. To be totally honest, my editor is super pissed because I owe her three stories and I’ve been out here most of the morning.”
“You don’t even have a gun.”
“That is true, sir. I have a strict no-gun policy. I have a really bad temper, and I’m prone to fits of depression. So no guns for me. Really, it’s better for the drywall in my apartment.”
“And your badge is just tinfoil you shaped into a crude star. Is that a Nestle Crunch wrapper?”
“Well, it’s my first try at a badge. Crafts have never been my forte.”
“Look, I can see you are having a bit of fun and I appreciate how frustrating it must be to constantly have everyone act like journalism is remedial work for second-graders, but I think you should go finish your stories. I’ve got to go now.”
“I’m going to let you go with a warning today, sir. But remember, the speed limit is there for your safety. And it’s the law.”
I’ve come to realize this after making a New Years resolution to start working out as a way to manage my intractable depression and general state of fatness.
I have to say I’m not a fan. Not at all.
I announced my plan via Twitter: I started exercising because I want to be less of a fat bastard and more of a regular bastard. It’s awful. I have coworkers who talk about it like it’s a wonderful hobby. The hell is wrong with them? Don’t get me wrong. They are good people. Except the ones who murder. #HelpMe
I was immediately bombarded with words of support from exercise fans who follow me on Twitter.
Thanks, guys. Really.
For the record, my exercise resolution is the only one I’ve kept. The others, which I won’t go into, lasted promptly five minutes after midnight on Jan. 1.
Also for the record, I’m pretty sure some of my coworkers murder. That wasn’t a joke. Some days it’s hard to do good work with this knowledge. I myself refrain from murder. Property crime has always been my wheelhouse.
Anyway, exercise is awful.
I’ve spent 39 years abusing my body with fast food, booze, drugs and cigarettes along with a lifestyle so sedentary, rocks swing by my house to take notes.
It’s been 15 years since my last drink, but I refuse to discuss my drug use prior to 9 o’clock this morning. I’m a year clean off of cigarettes, wonderful, smelly cigarettes. I have allowed myself, if absolutely necessary, to suck the nicotine off of coworkers’ fingernails.
Fortunately, it hasn’t come to that.
During the past two weeks, I’ve taken to walking at a brisk pace on a treadmill inside the free gym at my apartment, about 25 to 30 minute at a time or until I faint. The exercise/torture machine allows you to watch videos of Mediterranean beaches, Central Park, etc. The makers of these videos should produce one where you are running for your life from zombies or angry cattle. The Running of the Bulls would be cool. It would add a sense of urgency.
Another good idea: A video where I’m being chased by an overly amorous Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd or Penelope Cruz. I’d also accept Zac Efron. I find him uncomfortably handsome. …
Moving right along. The poison from cigarettes that I smoked in 1997 are being released back into my blood. I’m pretty sure booze was also trapped in my body somewhere, because after hitting the treadmill, I usually cry and call my mom in the middle of the night
I’ve learned that I have two things in common the Unabomber. We both live in Colorado, and we both wear a hooded sweatshirt well. The other people working out in the gym usually leave as soon as I show up. I promise you: I’m not here to take down industrial society. I just want to lose the love handles. I …
Oh my god. Did I just write an exercise column! I’m going home.