Bushes began rustl'n and Sally came through to sit beside me at the stream. T'was a beautiful day and she was carry'n a pail of beer for us. She be a sweetie, too.
"Whatcha do'n, old Spirit?" She said, drop'n down to sit along the stream bank.
"What I always do now. Sit'n and try'n to breathe," I replied, while watch'n Kiva lick her blue popscicle atop a flat stone and enjoy'n the sunshine.
Sally owns the village saloon. Bring'n a pail of beer with her is as normal as a bee with honey. Girl brews her own beer, too. Three kinds. One gives a good buzz, one gives false courage, combined with stupidity and the third brings a 36-hour coma, with Wizard of Oz-type dreams.
You know, real suds for real people. Not that corporate crap in metal barrels.
"You gonna judge the apple pie contest again on the 4th?" She asked. "Gonna be five new entrants this year!"
I look'd at her for a few heart beats and said, "I ain't celebrat'n Independence Day this year," I said softly. Then add'n, "I ain't even gonna fly the flag."
What I said took her back so much, she damn near toppled into the stream. Look on her face was total confusion.
"I don't understand," she said in halting words. "For sixty years you have judged the pies on the 4th of July, Spirit."
"True. But not this year," I replied.
She pass'd me the pail and I took a long drink of suds and then hand'd the pail back to her. She took a few large gulps, gave Kiva a few scritchies and then said, "What's bother'n you, Spirit? Your dying?"
"Dying don't bother me a tick. You know that, Sally. I just don't have the national feel'n I used to have. It's been broken for me. Suspect many others probably feel the same," I said.
Sally look'd at me and smiled. "Hold on, Spirit, I feel a rant coming on. Give me a minute to go get a few buckets of suds, 'cause when you go on a rant, it makes my mind thirsty, along with my throat."
Bounce'n back through the bushes, Sally ran toward her saloon and I looked at Kiva. She was still roll'n her eyes at the sweetness of her blue popscicle. It didn't take long for Sally to return with enough suds to drown a Minotaur.
Sally open'd a tin contain'n fry bread to eat while drink'n beer. At the same time I lifted my walk'n stick and threw it like a spear just to the right of Sally. It hit the coyote on the side of its head and it took off like a bullet.
"Don't you even think about Kiva for your lunch, you skanky desert dog!" I yelled, which was followed by a massive loss of my breath and bend'n me over with deep cough'n. Took a bit, but I recover'd and drank some suds. "Shoulda brought my coach gun," I thought to myself.
"Never heard or saw the coyote sneaking up," said Sally. "You may have trouble catching a breath, but your eyes are still sharp."
"Kiva an me be get'n old. We take care of each other," I mumbled.
"OK, what's this about not celebrating the Fourth of July?" She asked.
I smiled and took another gulp of cold suds before I began to explain.
"All I've been see'n under this flag of late is heartache and skullduggery. Good people struggl'n, children go'n hungry, unfair distribution of wealth, sending our youth to false wars over and over, banks taking peoples homes, politicians trying to own women's quinneys and bodies, few jobs and those that are there are paying crap wages and no benefits, roads and bridges grow'n weak and dangerous, people without souls gobbl'n up money like sponges and hoard'n it, unions be'n busted, oil companies rape'n the land and spoil'n the seas, schools be'n decimated, teachers be'n abused, law enforcement act'n like soldiers and smear'n the Constitution, more homelessness, more dispair, failure of our government to adhere to our nations principles..."
I began to cough up blood.
"Our Republic ain't anymore. I've watch'd it bleed dry since Tricky Dick. Why celebrate it?" I sputtered.
"But, it's our country," gushed Sally.
"Ain't my country when it is be'n run by crooked people, greedy people, crazy people and religious idiots. My country was never like this, nope," I said with sadness.
Sally look'd sad and down'd a couple of gulps of suds. "Whatcha gonna do on July 4th?" She asked.
"First thing I'm gonna do is fold up my flag and bury it. Didn't fall on the ground, but it has been desecrated by bad governance as far as I am concern'd. Then, Kiva and I are gonna fly a new one. It will be white, because I surrender. Our government spit on the people and gave the nation to those who didn't earn it," I yelled with a loud cough.
"Are you say'n you ain't an American anymore?" Sally asked sheepishly.
"No. I ain't say'n that. I'm say'n I'm still an American, but our government leaders don't believe in America. If'n they did, our nation wouldn't be in such dire straits," I said softly.
"That's so sad," said Sally.
"No. It was a crime of greed and hubris that came and the people have been complacent to those crimes. I'm too old and feeble to fight anymore. I find myself on a barren battlefield with a rusty musket. It was a great country once," I said calmly.
"What ya gonna do now?" Asked Sally.
"Pray with my final breath that the youth fight back with everything they can get. Maybe, just maybe, they will rebuild this Republic and send those who soil'd this nation, back to Hell where they belong." I said.
Sally gave me a hug, pick'd up the beer tins, gave a scritch to Kiva and left with tears in her eyes. I felt for her.
As she disappeared behind the bushes a pigeon flying over poop'd and it landed all over Kiva's melted popscicle.
"Yep, Kiva. Politicans do that on the people too," I giggled.