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Bewildering Stories

Jack Phillips Lowe, Cold Case Cowboys


Cold Case Cowboys
Author: Jack Phillips Lowe
Publisher: Middle Island Press
Length: 43 pp.
ISBN: 1467584509

Cold Case Cowboys

I often can’t sleep.
At least not right away,
without the help of alcohol.
It’s then that I lie in bed
and stare at the ceiling.

This is not a meaningless activity.
It’s the only way I can tune in a TV show
that plays on no known cable or satellite channel.
It’s a show that poses odd situations which ring
with an uncanny truth that’s found nowhere but there.
Strange scenes, which play out on that fifth wall.

As a matter of fact, I watched the show yesterday.
Last night’s episode featured Ben Cartwright.
“Ben Cartwright was the white-haired pappy on Bonanza,”
explained program host Walter Brennan,
who talked to the camera just like Rod Serling.
Except that instead of a smoke, Brennan clutched
a frosty mug of beer straight from the tap
at Miss Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon.

“Ben had hisself three sons.
Adam, Hoss and Little Joe, they was.
Had ‘em with 3 different wives, Ben did.
Then, by the hair on Methuselah’s balls,
Ben buried each of those wives.
I can see one, but all three?” asked Brennan,
shaking his cowboy-hatted head.
“And tarnation, not a soul in Virginia City
raised so much as an eyebrow!”
The old cowpoke sipped his beer
and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Lucky for Ben there weren’t no cold case cops back then.”

This flowed into a commercial for the following episode.
Cold Case Cowboys!” boomed announcer William Conrad.
“Starring Lee Van Cleef and Chuck Connors
as lawmen who work the frozen trails!
Tune in next time, when Lee and Chuck track down
Ben Cartwright -- the Drew Peterson of the Wild West!”
The three roughriders were shown exchanging gunfire
somewhere in the High Sierras.

I am so watching that one.
Up front, I’d say Ben’s ass is grass.
Nobody screws with Lee Van Cleef.


Darkness had been pulled
over the forest like a blanket.
In camp, the flickering orange firelight
was wrestling the steady blue glow
of Nick’s laptop, with neither
quite winning nor losing.
As Nick streamed a recent episode
of the reality show, Finding Bigfoot,
Haag slurped the last of the beef stew
straight from the pot and
wiped his mouth with a hairy forearm.

“This cracks me up,” laughed Nick,
pointing to the screen.
“These ‘experts’ search the country,
armed with the latest technology --
yet, they never find a thing.
How is that possible?”
Haag leaned against a tree and sighed.
“Privacy,” he said, “is a precious commodity
which should be guarded as closely as gold.”
He punctuated the remark with an explosive fart.

Nick snapped his laptop shut.
He pulled 2 beers from a plastic cooler,
twisted the caps off, passed one
sweating bottle to his friend and said:
“I always wondered why
nobody ever finds any bones.
The ‘experts’ on this show claimed
it’s because porcupines eat them.
There, I threw the bullshit flag.”
Haag chuckled heartily. “I know, right?”

Nick tugged at a loose corner
of the label on his beer bottle.
“Still, it’s a valid question, Haag.
What does happen to the bones?”
Haag drained his beer in 2 gulps
and tossed the bottle into the woods.
“We give the bones to the Voltons,” he said.
“The Voltons use the bones as fuel
to power their spaceships home from earth.”

Nick nodded thoughtfully and sipped his beer.
The two stared into the fire
without speaking for a long, long time.

Copyright © 2013 by Jack Phillips Lowe

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