High on the Plains: The Horror! The Horror!


Chad Christensen, Professor

Well, it’s official. I look and feel like Nick Nolte after his arrest—but without the tropical shirt and any of that fame sh**[explicit]. Things are getting out of hand here on Rancho de Chad and I won’t even make it into the tabloids. My family will only remember me as the unshaven bum who forgot to take out the trash. Things are getting bad, indeed. Charlie Sheen kind of bad.

And look! Here’s another brutal workweek. Ah yes, the evil gears are turning now. Can you hear them? Isis is cutting off the heads of little children and poor Bill Cosby has been accused of touching young girls in an inappropriate way. Planes are crashing into the Alps and the person next to you probably has people tied up in their basement (eerie isn’t it, Wayne). What’s next? Where do we go to from here?

I’m looking up the word “misanthrope.” I like how it sounds, and hell, I even like what it means— one who distrusts humankind. There’s a great scene in the western movie “The Proposition,” written by Nick Cave, where the lead bad guy Arthur Burns—played by Danny Huston, son of the great film maker John Huston— comments about how even the lowliest of misanthropes and most wretched of sinners can be made silent by looking out at the sad and desolate landscape. One of the lesser devils in the film then asks him if that’s what they are—misanthropes. Burns enthusiastically replies with “Good lord, no. We’re a family.”A family, indeed.

And we’re all stuck in the Universal Studebaker, flying down I-29 towards Easter family dinner. God, sounds awful. Here is where Nick Nolte retreats to the back forty. Because, well— there’s only one way to deal with all this Alice in Wonderland gibberish. Get extremely sloshed (I have found mixing Stella Cidre with sake while having the occasional glass of Jameson has been the best remedy against all this evil juju), partially naked, and then shoot the Ruger M77 .25-06 straight at the moon. Crank the stereo up LOUD and play Jerry Jeff Walker’s version of “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” by Rodney Crowell. And it must be LOUD. The neighbors MUST be scared. Only then will these crazy gear turners know we mean business. They’re a slow breed.

And in case that isn’t enough, every evening at sunset I’ve been burning a gigantic bonfire and dancing around it, throwing M-80 fireworks into the flame while mumbling over and over again “Exterminate all the brutes!” Yes, the animals fear me.

I’ve also been slowly modifying a barn on Rancho de Chad into my very own fortress of solitude. Here I will have the high ground and full protection from any zombies— or gear turners. My wife and children don’t quite understand this strategic maneuver, but someday they will thank me. As for now, they gently set my dinner next to the barn door and slowly and cautiously back away.

I’m starting to understand Kurtz from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. He seems like a man who has… seen things. Dark and powerful things. Much like Nick Nolte. And it only seems fair that he should manifest himself within me. When Nolte was arrested, tests later showed that he was under the influence of GHB, to which he responded “I’ve been taking it for four years and I’ve never been raped.” I hear you Nolte, I hear you.