Mountain lions and ‘Big E'

People call the newsroom now and then to offer news tips and I appreciate it, but sometimes they don't pan out as planned.

A nice woman called the other day to tell me she had just spotted a mountain lion that had been hit by a car along Interstate 80.

I've talked to this woman before. She is a nice woman a smart woman but not all that knowledgeable about the great outdoors. She's also spotted a panther north of here.

I've told her I don't believe there are any panthers or mountain lions in the area but she maintains the state Game Commission is part of a greater conspiracy to keep the mountain lions and panthers a secret.

"You can't deny this one is a mountain lion," she told me over the telephone. "It's the right color. It's not a deer, it's not a dog. It's a mountain lion."

I asked if she took a photograph of the mountain lion.

"No, there's too much traffic and the road is too narrow," she said. "I was afraid to stop. But it's there. You need to check into this."

I said I'd give the game commission a call and ask if there was a mountain lion dead along the road.

I knew she wouldn't be satisfied until I called, so I did. I said there was a report of a mountain lion laying dead along Interstate 80. The receptionist gave me another number to call.

A man answered, "Super Secret Office of Super Secret Stuff this call is not being recorded and you better not be recording it, either."

I explained the reason for my call.

"Meet me by the old graveyard down on the unnamed road where the old mill was," the man told me.

Being from Clarion County, I knew exactly where he meant.

I was there about 10 minutes before two men in a strange looking car arrived. The car was completely silent.

I was invited to sit in the back seat.

"This is a strange looking car," I said as a way to break the ice.

"Yeah, it runs on water," the driver of the car said. "Never needs gas and doesn't pollute at all. Fella invented it back in the 1950s but the government bought it and kept it from ever being made public."

I stuck my hand over the seat and introduced myself. The driver ignored me but the man in the passenger seat, who looked somewhat familiar, shook my hand and said I could call him "Big E."

I thanked him and he said, "Thank ya, thank ya vur much"

I turned my attention to the driver. "So what's up with this mountain lion stuff," I asked.

"It's true," he said. "Mountain lions, cougars and panthers we put them out there to try to control the deer herd. The big car insurance companies put us up to it. But then it got out of hand and we have to deny any involvement."

I was puzzled. "So what do you do when one gets hit by a car and people see it," I asked.

"We go out in the middle of the night, take the mountain lion away and leave a deer carcass in its place," the driver of the car said.

"We Return to Sender, ya know what I mean," added the passenger. "All these Suspicious Minds, ya know, they get me All Shook up."

Obviously, there are bigger things at work in this country than I was aware of, and I said as much.

"There are just things the public doesn't need to know," the driver said. "We take our orders from Walt Disney's head, which is kept alive in a laboratory under the Magic Kingdom Castle in Disney World. But that's off the record"

I was stunned and speechless. The passenger, wearing dark sunglasses, turned to me and added, "If you knew the true American Trilogy maybe you'd understand down In the Ghetto doesn't always mean Viva Las Vegas."

I looked at the driver "What's he talking about?" I asked.

"Never mind him," the driver said. "He's been down at the Heartbreak Hotel."

The passenger looked at the driver and said, "Don't Be Cruel, thank ya, thank ya vur much."

The whole encounter had my head spinning.

"So what do I tell this woman about the mountain lion she saw?" I asked.

"Don't sweat it," replied the driver. "Have her drive by it tomorrow and have another look."

About that time, a black helicopter hovered over us and a signal light flashed three times.

"Looks like our time with you is about up," said the driver. "We need to get back to Area 51."

Again, I was stunned. "You guys are from Area 51 what really goes on there?" I asked.

"It's an inter-galactic landing area for the spaceships from outer space," said the driver. "That's one the public seems to have got right now get out of the car and remember, we never talked and we know where you live."

I got out of the car and leaned into the driver's side window. "I didn't get your name," I said to the driver.

"Hoffa, James," said the driver as he punched down on the gas pedal I mean, the water pedal, and drove away.

I returned to office, called the mountain lion woman and asked her stop the next day and get a photograph of the road-killed lion.

The next day, she called. "I guess it's just a deer after all," she said. "I swear it looked like a mountain lion yesterday."

I told her it was a mistake anyone could make and told her to give me a call anytime.

As I hung up the telephone, an instant message popped up on my computer screen, which was odd because the computer was turned off.

The message was short and to the point: "You handled that nicely. Jimmy."

As I pondered the entire adventure, one last message popped up on the still unpowered computer.

"Thank ya, thank ya vur much. Big E."n

The author is the editor of the CLARION NEWS.

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