Mendoza, variously writer, comedian, musician and actor, blogs here. He's been heard on NPR and has performed comedy with the Second City as well as Annoyance Theater, where he is a faculty member.
Deaths From Accidental and Self-Defense Shooting
There are several known deaths caused by accidents or self-defense at Yellowstone. All of them are tragic, but the deaths caused by self-defense are less tragic. I say this for no reason or for anyone's benefit. But listen to the following accounts, heed my advice and it will be to your benefit.
On November 15, 1938, Robert "Pud" Robertson -- the 13-year-old son of the park's master mechanic -- was recreating with a loaded .22-caliber rifle at home. During his enjoyment, Pud accidentally shot himself in the head and died. This is why you should never nickname your son after urban slang for the human penis.
In 1886, two cattlemen had a fracas while separating their herd. It began with rock-throwing and horse spookery, but graduated to gunplay and ultimately death. Here's my advice: when throwing a fracas, take an occasional break. During the break have a sampling of hors d'oeuvres and refreshments. At my last fracas with the paperboy over my delinquent payment, I teased him with bottle rockets and he retaliated with a super soaker filled with ox urine. When the paperboy brandished a Chinese throwing star, my dutiful wife called time out and presented us with a spread of delicious bacon-wrapped scallops and a pitcher of orange-ade. Notice that I am still alive. And it was a decent fracas.
In the tiny town of Cinnabar, Montana, Andrew McCune gave the gift of whiskey to "Specimen" Schmidt, the self-proclaimed "Mayor of Cinnabar." It was the summer of 1911 and "Specimen" Schmidt's 74th birthday. They drank until dawn, then had a series of quarrels. Schmidt put McCune in a cabin to sleep it off. When he awoke, the drinking and quarrels continued. In a fit of rage, McCune beat Schmidt into a corner with an iron cane until "Specimen" produced a shotgun and shot McCune in the chest. The moral: If you're going to spend a secluded birthday weekend with a septuagenarian named "Specimen," bring whiskey, but don't forget condoms.
Death can teach us things that life cannot. I hope that when you die that it will be for our benefit.
Powerless In Eden: Deaths from Suicide
I stand 5'10" tall. I have a florid complexion and dark blue eyes. Recently I have cut my hair into a pompadour shape that you did not notice. I wear a moustache and weigh 200 pounds. I love you. But, alas, you do not love me.
I have tried to make you notice me. This spring I constructed a cushioned bear trap that would capture your tiny, girlish ankles with the soft gnaw of a velvet otter. But you did not find this trap.
When summer shone her fancy sun, I knitted a net trap out of the finest rope, acquired from a pelt trader in the south of France. Were you to discover it, your boyish curves would be cradled in a silk pie of Lodgepole Pine. But you did not discover this trap either. Instead, you discovered another man. A man from your world. A world that I have never known.
It is I who has discovered a trap. A one-way trail toward an unattainable peak. And now the only way down is out.
I purchased an ounce of carbolic acid. I am holding it in my strong, weathered hands, and soon it will flow down from my chapped, unkissed lips.
I'm wearing a navy blue coat and vest with light grey pants. A black Stetson hat rests on my dark hair, slightly mixed with grey. These are the clothes that will adorn my unfound body. I will be located two miles above the Hellroaring Trail, just past its fork, resting on an overlook by a lone tree. Only you know where I will be. If there is a reward for the discovery of my remains, please accept it as a token of my love for you.
It's beautiful up here. I can see the hills, the clouds, the winds, all of my accomplishments to prevent poaching in Yellowstone. But I can also see your father's hotel. And the grace of your silhouette. Any my failure as a man. I love you, Mary Rosetta Henderson.
Forever in my heart,
PS: Carbolic acid tastes like a hot belt.
Missing and Presumed Dead
"Hey! I'm a father of three and I'm drunk on cheap beer. After all it's noon! I know! Let's go huntin' for bears! Hey, I'm too drunk to shoot straight. I need you kids to be my eyes!" No wonder Mom left you for that guy she met in a barbecue chat room.
My father is a wet hacking cough. Everyone says he's fun and they wish he was their dad. Yeah, he's fun at the beginning of a drunk. But by the time they've all gone home, the Dad Show gets weird and mean. He'll call you Peggy Fleming and throw a fistful of nails at your head to see if your reflexes are any good. I have the scars to prove they are not good. My brothers have good reflexes and no scars. They call me a faggot. My brothers are assholes. Splitting up was the best decision of the day.
I've been writing poems lately. Laura seems to like them. I wish she were here now, and that we were old enough to get a hotel. No family, no shitheads, no guns. Just me and Laura sitting in a snowdrift watching the sunset freeze.
No. That sucks. I can't write love poems. Write what you know. I could write a poem about my Dad.
I think I'll call that one "Father of the Year." I don't think Laura would like that one. I just heard a gunshot.
Staring at the moon. It's full. My asshole family shot a cub. Through the branches I saw my brothers taking pictures and calling the cub a faggot. Pretending to fuck it. I had to get out of there. They're still laughing it up pretty hard. Now they want to eat the cub. That oughta be a blast.
"Hey! Let's take all the beach pails we used to play with as kids and fill them with bear blood! Then let's play with the flesh and offal! I know! Let's pick out the eyes and stuff them into the faggot's underwear, and when he's not looking we'll punch his faggot penis! Family! Family!"
I've had too many of those nights. By 4 a.m., you're the only one sober enough to make a clean slice along a spinal cord, and then Dad comes up from behind with a knife and puts you in a wobbly headlock.
"Pin the tail on the asshole," he'll breathe down your neck.
No thanks, shitheads.
They're calling out for me. "C'mon faggot! Time to go home!" Fuck you guys. I'll stay here in the snow.
Shit. Fell asleep in snow. Can barely write. Can't hear family anymore. Probably slaughtering the cub. Not going back under any circumstance.
The moon moved.
No. Sucks. Think I'll spend night here in snow. Splitting up best decision of day.
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