Red Lodge, Montana

Cody Quarterline part XIII: The Flying Lunchmeat

The Cody Quarterline story began in April of 2005, as a spoof article. Since then, it’s been passed around from one volunteer tale-spinner to another. Each new author has freedom to do whatever he/she likes with Cody, and the tale has taken some strange twists over the years. We still don’t know what’s going on! We do know, however, that we’ve got some creative people in town with time on their hands and maybe a few too many Mickey Spillane movies under their belts.

by Charles Mitchell

When Cody returned to his room, he found Cheyenne (or was it Frannie?) nicely aspected on the bed surrounded by lunchmeat. Taking in the view, he thought of what was missing: the pickle, the condiments, the real Cheyenne. But what was real? This was here, this was now, now was real. If you can’t be with the clone you love . . . .

Cody was jerked from his lascivious reverie by a mashed up ball of smoked turkey and roast beef careening off of his forehead. The real Cheyenne did not have such good aim; she had other weapons that were more effective and more covert (those eyes, those lips, those aspects). So this clone was for real; a real clone.

“Where have you been?” she asked in such a convincingly whiny voice that Cody marveled at the wonders of technology. “Off with that Petunia and her little spice girl?”

“Will wonders never cease?” he mused. “A jealous clone! Who needs the real thing when you get the whole package in a store brand?” Cody studied the faux Cheyenne, Cheyenne his foe. Her tears seemed real, her disappointment and look of betrayal authentic. “Now sweetie,” he reassured her, “they’ve left town. Remember, I left them behind to come find you, and here we are. We’re together baby, you and me, now whaddya say you put some of that lunchmeat between some bread so we can get on our way?”

Cheyenne seemed to regain her composure, no easy feat for a cloned bombshell sitting on a bed surrounded by cold cuts: the girl with the pearl earring in her natural setting. “You sure you weren’t off with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme?” she asked, in a tone that was more alluring than accusative.

“Scout’s honor,” he replied. “If you want, you can come by our old place and see that it’s empty.”

“No, that’s okay, I trust you, Cody. It’s just that these last few weeks have been a bit stressful.” She got up from the bed and wandered over to the kitchenette in search of bread.

For a clone, Cody thought, she had mastered the art of understatement, recalling the strikingly banal naiveté that Cody had come to adore in the real Cheyenne, the kind of girl for whom a hangnail was a cause of much grief. Which set him wondering again. How was he to know what was real and what a replication? His Cheyenne had never seemed like the diary-keeping type. She was too vain to indulge in that kind of self-reflection. Besides, she couldn’t spell all that well either, and her carpal tunnel syndrome made it painful for her to hold a pen. And who thinks to keep a diary when they are locked in a basement in Wyoming?

Cheyenne returned from the kitchenette with a loaf of Wonder Bread and a jar of Miracle Whip, mercifully reprieving Cody of the headache his thinking was about to cause. “So where are we going anyway? How many sandwiches should I make?”

The question struck Cody as odd. It was the type of question for which there should be a ready answer, an easy answer, a clear answer. Cody thought a little; the headache threatened to return. He remembered asking Cheyenne to pack them a good lunch, which seemed to imply that they would be going on a trip. But a trip to where? And for what purpose? His mother was on the case regarding the LWP and the briefcase, so there was no need to go to Miami, and who brings sandwiches to Miami? It was as if this trip idea had been dropped in his lap by aliens. Was it the peyote aftertaste? A voice from beyond, from Max, telling him to go on a trip, to get out of town? Was it a typo?

“Now honey,” he said, trying to regain some control over the course of events, “if I told you where we were going it wouldn’t be a surprise! You make us two sandwiches each, and I’ll head out and pick up some other goodies to lubricate the journey.” He needed to get back out in the fresh air, to give his mind a chance to work away from the distraction of Cheyenne’s delectable Cheyenne-ness; most of all, he needed to figure out where he was supposed to go on this trip.

The streets of Ocher Hacienda are not the sort of place a man should go in search of direction. Eclectic did not begin to describe the mix of people and commercial venues to be found there. In fact, eclectic did not describe it at all. Walking down the streets of his adopted hometown was like wandering in the twisted canyons of his own mind, an adventure Cody would wish on no one, least of all on himself. Halter-topped Harleyites mingled with corn-fed mid-westerners and over-dressed city folks as they browsed the moose-themed gift shops, ye olde ice cream parlors, and real estate offices promising five hundred thousand dollar cabins of your dreams. Whether your tastes ran to fudge or elk tenderloin, choices abounded. And that was Cody’s problem: he needed direction, not options.

Cody reasoned (a rare occurrence in itself) that if someone were trying to speak to him from beyond, to send him on a trip for his own good, then trying too hard to hear the voice would only drown it out; he’d have to let that voice find him. He started down the side street leading to his chiropractic office with its sign reading: “Come in if open.” And just as he passed the combination auto-repair/aromatherapy boutique, he heard it: “Hey mon, ova here.” He looked around, fully expecting to see no one, and he was not disappointed. Then again: “Hey mon, here is where U got to go.” The voice came from a poster on a kiosk, a poster advertising the annual Mountain Man Rendezvous. Cody studied the poster until the picture caught his eye: Rojie in fur cap and buckskin. If the Bermuda Triangle was real, then so was this.

He hurried back to the hotel to pick up Cheyenne and the sandwiches. They had a trip to go on.

[How much lunchmeat can Cheyenne put away? Where does Rojie think they should go? And what about Naomi? For answers to these questions and more, check back in vain next month when another local author takes up the saga.]

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