The Pelting of the Gunwriters
By WIlliam E. Allendorf (the shaman)
The shaman sat on his log, watching the fire and reading. It was drizzling, so
he pulled his cloak up a bit around his neck to keep the mist out. All of a
sudden, there came a bit of commotion from over at the gunwriter's bit of the
camp. It was down aways from the rest of the fire. The shaman looked over, but
could not make anything out.
Somebody tripped over the shaman.
"Excuse me," said the shaman.
"Come on, man!" said the campfire regular. "Ain't you coming?"
"We've got a gunwriter cornered and we're pelting him. Grab some rotten
vegetables and hurry up?"
"I don't understand." said the shaman. "What's this all about?"
"Gunwriters. Lot's of them. Grab a rotten egg. Get with it!!!" said the fellow
and ran off towards the gunwriters. The shaman was left alone.
A little while later, the shaman noticed another regular, this one a ranger, sit
down near the fire with a fresh cup of coffee and he went over to enquire about
what was going on.
"Oh, that!" said the guy, laughing. "Yep, I think they have old Ken tied up and
and they're really doing a number on him. It seems to be the new hobby around
here. It's largely replaced cornholing and horseshoes. Whenever a gunwriter
shows up, folks gather around and throw stuff at him. If they get a good hit on
him-- rotten egg in the ear or something -- then the gunwriter gets mad and
tries to pick up something and throw it back. If things get going real good,
they all go tumbling into the pig pen and pretty soon you can't figure out
what's what-- pig, camper, gunwriter. It's a hoot."
"Why do the gunwriters put up with that?" asked the shaman.
"Hard to say." said the ranger. "A lot of them don't. They catch one cow pie in
the face and they leave. Others seem to really enjoy it. They go taunting the
crowd just to get them worked up. They're like rodeo clowns, some of them.
Others just stick around and try to duck it. Sad thing is that there's so
doggone few of them; It would be a shame to lose them all. Folks have so much
fun throwing things at them."
"That does not sound like much of sport." said the shaman.
"Oh my! It is a sport. " said the ranger. "I just like to sit back and watch.
Sometimes they get a half-a-dozen or so lined up, and then it's kind of like
that game, Whackamole. One pops up, and the crowd beats him down, and then
another pops up. I like it much better than the Madblast thing with the bullfrog
in the blender and the CAT-A-PULT. This is high drama."
"I suppose." said the shaman. "But what about the good stuff. I'd be a bit
afraid to ask a legitimate question anymore, for fear I'd lure out a gunwriter
and he'd get hit in the face with something unsavory."
"That's the fun of it, son." said the ranger. "That's the fun."
"Well, " said the shaman. "That explains the smell coming from over that way. I
guess you can't expect to throw that much compost about without consequence."
"Smell, Schmell." said the ranger. "You get used to it after a while. This is
sport! Come on by tonight. We're having a kahuna roast. After they're thrown on
a spit and roasted, we throw them to the crowd and let them be torn to shreds.
Pulled kahuna on a bun-- yum!"
"But soon there won't be anymore gunwriters to torment. " said the shaman. "What
"Oh, heck!" said the regular. "I guess then they'd all turn on each other. It
doesn't make any difference to me. I just like watching guys get it in the mush
with rotten stuff. If you ask me, gunwriters need to be continuously pelted with
something just to keep them writing. They're all scoundrels!"
"But if they're all scoundrels, why bother reading them?" asked the shaman
"Because they write about the shooting sports."
"But you said they're scoundrels. "
"Yes, but if you don't support them, they'll go away. Then we won't have
anything to read at the barber shop."
"Oh," said the shaman. He thanked the fellow for his time and went back to
"What's that you're reading?" asked the ranger. The shaman held up the book. It
was a well worn book by Clay Harvey on hunting rifles that the shaman acquired
many years ago from a book club. They had sent it without any warning, and the
shaman had tried to tell them that it was not his, but they kept asking for
money and did not want the book. The shaman told the book club where to go and
kept the book. Eventually the nasty computer-generated notices stopped, and the
shaman had achieved what he had been unable to communicate to the book club
directly: stop sending books. After many years, the bitterness had worn off, and
the shaman had found this chocolate brown volume on hunting rifles in his
collection and given it a serious look. It seemed like it was filled with
basically sound advice on hunting rifles.
"Oh that!" said the regular. "Clay Harvey!!! Yep, they had him out pelting him
in absentia the other day. The gun writers like to bring a guy like that out
every little once in a while and let the crowd burn him in effigy. It gives the
rest of the writers a bit of a rest, and it seems to satisfy the crowd. Clay is
supposedly a bit of a scoundrel."
"NO!" said the shaman. "You don't say! "
"I do!" said the regular. "You shouldn't trust anything said in that book."
"But he seemed so. . . so . . ." the shaman was stuck for the correct word.
"It's absolute malarky, what's in that book." said the regular. "The gunwriters
The shaman sat stunned. His sincere little rifle book was now fraudulent.
However, gunwriters had all been saying the same thing. So had all the people
that seemed to know what they were talking about at shooters.com and here. What
was he to think?
"Hmmm. Let's get this straight," said the shaman to no one in particular. "If
Clay Harvey is a fraud, and he's saying things just like the other gunwriters
and gunwriters need to be pelted to keep them writing, but if you keep pelting
them, the gunwriters go away, but . . . " the shaman's head was spinning.
From over at the gunwriters camp, the sounds of the crowd welled after the
pronounced splat of something rotten being thrown. The shaman looked back and
the regular was gone. The shaman saw him running across the field to see who had
been hit with what.
The Pelting of the Gunwriters
By WIlliam E. Allendorf (the shaman)
There was such a clamor at the fire that the shaman decided to move elsewhere
for a while. There was a nice stump, overlooking the woods to the east. Shaman
took a seat and started to read again. Clay Harvey was discussing why the Savage
99 was such a nice rifle. The shaman was bothered by the possibility of going
over to the Savage collectors and informing him that they had been taken in by a
fraud and that the Savage 99 was really no good. Then again, that seemed like a
task he might leave for others. All the shaman knew was that HIS 99 was one of
his favorites. Perhaps the gun writer had heard wrong about his colleague and
Mister Harvey was only a partial scoundrel.
"Mind if I sit down?" asked the shadow.
"Nosmo?" asked the shaman. "Is that you?" Indeed it was, the illusive and
shadowy Nosmo King. "My goodness, old friend. It is good to see you."
"Good to see you too." said the shadow. "It's been a while." It had too. Nosmo
was a sort of imaginary friend at large. The shaman had seen more of him when he
was younger, but Nosmo had left to sit with others in greater need. Nosmo only
showed up now when the shaman was in great turmoil, and that had been many years
"Ah," said the shaman. "I'm in such confusion. Just look at that." The shaman
pointed to what had used to be the gun writers dell, a lovely place amid tall
Oaks. Many of the oaks had toppled. The place was now a pit of unsavory muck,
knee deep. The crowd over there had left, fallen further down the hill into the
pig wallow. They were watching a massive wrestling match.
"So I heard." said Nosmo. "I guess you're safe, though."
"What do you mean?"
"You're a writer who writes about the outdoors, not an outdoor writer." said
Nosmo. "Furthermore, everything you write is fiction, so there's no reason to
argue with you over it's authenticity."
"I suppose you are right. It just makes me feel sad."
"I've been keeping up on your stuff." said Nosmo. "Your novel is quite good."
"Still," said the shaman. "These guys write non-fiction. It's rough to see them
live in the real world and pay such a penalty for it. I feel that I'm cheating
"Not really." said Nosmo. "You pull things out of your backside and call it
fiction. They pull things out of their backside and call it non-fiction. The
truth in it comes from what the reader pulls out of it. Even the great Jack
O'Connor was only as good as his readers."
"I don't follow you."
"No, I suppose you don't. You're still a bit of a little boy, sitting in the
barber shop. You believe what is in the magazine."
"Yes, I suppose I am. "
"And somehow you think the crap you're writing doesn't measure up on the truth
scale-- not compared to these guys."
"Yes. I write deliberate fiction."
"Ah!" said Nosmo. "That is where you are wrong. Take Jack O'Connor. Jack went
all over the planet seeking sport and he wrote about it. However, was there a
scintilla of graspable truth in it? Could you in the barber shop conceive of
what it was really like to be on a hunt? No, but Jack did a wonderful job of
getting you to think you did. Tell me, for all your deer hunting and turkey
hunting, does any of it even remotely resemble what you read in the barber
"No. I suppose not."
"And do you think any one of these gentle readers really put themselves into the
mind of the writer and live his experience, whether it be at the bench or in the
field? No. It is only the illusion. It is the illusion that the magazine sells
and the illusion that the reader craves. No one can be transported magically by
words in a book and share the writer's reality. At least not in the sense of 'TRVTH'
. The problem is that when the reader does not achieve that illusion, he blames
the writer and not himself."
"That has me confused."
"And well it should. You as a writer have the task of creating an illusion of
truth that draws the reader, if he is willing and able, to imagine what you are
writing. The reader's job is to take what you have written as a road map and go
the distance, to reach out with his own imagination and finish the job."
"But that's fiction. These guys are writing non-fiction."
"The mechanism works the same. You write truth and call it fiction. Jack
O'Connor wrote fiction andthey called it truth. It all digests the same. It
matters not if the writer is a scoundrel or a saint-- it's up to the reader to
see the truth in it."
“I’ll stick with fiction,” replied the shaman. “It’s safer. I’m just worried.”
“I’m here to fix that.” Said Nosmo. “You don’t mind if I borrowed a few things,
“Of mine?” asked the shaman.
“Yes.” Replied Nosmo. “And others.” He made a motion and soon another shadowy
figure came from the other side of the fire towards them. The shadow was pushing
along a wheelbarrow, filled with all sorts of stuff. On top of the wheelbarrow
was a small yellow stuffed bear.
“Allow me to introduce my compatriots.” Said Nosmo. “I give you the illustrious
Winnie the Pooh, and my business partner, Busy Backsoon.”
“I’m honored,” said the shaman shaking their hands.
“Busy,” said Nosmo. “Start unloading the gear. We’ll set up right here.”
“Is that what I think that is?” asked the shaman.
“Yes, it’s an assault wheelbarrow.” Said Nosmo. “We borrowed that too.”
Pooh Bear helped Busy as they unloaded the wheelbarrow. It was a massive thing,
fitted with several bays for guns and ammunition. There was a portable shooting
table, a chronograph, and several target stands. There was also a familiar
“What are we doing?” asked the shaman.
“We are going to prove something.” Said Nosmo. “I took the liberty of borrowing
some things from your closet. We are going to test this.” He held out a CD. “I
call it the Nosmo King Shamanic Fecal Filter. It’s got a server side piece and a
downloadable client. You put it on your PC and it helps to sieve truth from
non-truth. It’s loaded with artificial intelligence, so all we have to do is
train it to detect one from the other. It’s infallible.”
“Okay.” Said the shaman. “But what’s the rest of this stuff.”
“Oh, “ said Nosmo. “That’s the acid test. You’ll see.”
After everything was set up, Nosmo and Busy started training the new software by
feeding a collection of books into the laptop. They fed it two O’Connors, Three
Macmanuses, several Howells, a Clay Harvey, and a Ken Waters. They also fed in a
fifteen inch thick printout of the collected works of Gunkid, including his
treatise on wheelbarrows.
“No, we take the software out of learning mode, like this.” Said Nosmo. “And
then feed it the latest issue of Outdoor Life.” The laptop thought for a bit and
then flashed “Truth” on the screen.
“Okay.” Said Nosmo. “Busy, hand me that other Macmanus book.” Busy brought him
the book and Nosmo fed it to the laptop. “Truth” it said. “Now we’re getting
somewhere.” He said. “No lets feed it James Barsness’ latest piece.” The article
went in. “Truth.”
“Very good.” Said Nosmo. “Now, I have a capture of flame war between two trolls
I downloaded this morning from Internet. One is claiming that that his Mini-14
is accurate to 400 yards and the other claiming that he can do the same with his
Mossberg pump.” The printout was fed into the laptop and it took but a second
for it to come back with a determination: “Truth.”
Busy and Pooh Bear, all stood and scratched their heads at the screen. Nosmo was
not fazed. The shaman just watched.
“Now,” said Nosmo. “I see we have some questions within the researchers as to
what the fecal filter is saying. Let me make some adjustments.” He twiddled at
the controls and then pronounced, “There, I’ve gone in and adjusted the
threshold. Ken Water’s Pet Loads will be accepted as truth but the collected
works of John Melvin Davis were now set to register as bunk. Nosmo then
resubmitted the troll feud.
“Truth.” Said the Laptop.
“I’ll make another adjustment.” Said Nosmo. “This time we’ll earmark the trolls
stuff as bunk.” When that was done. Nosmo fed in a copy of The Hunting Rifle by
O’Connor : “BUNK” and The Hunter’s Rifle by Harvey “BUNK” Everyone was
astounded. No matter what they fed in, it was bunk. Busy and Pooh tried to take
over and make adjustments to the laptop, but Nosmo held them back.
“You see?” said Nosmo “By the light of trolls, it’s all bunk.”
“You have not proved anything.” Said the shaman. “I don’t think this fecal
filter thing is going to be practical.”
“I don’t think you’ve seen my point.” Said Nosmo. “It’s not that the program is
unpractical. It just gives answers you don’t like. That’s okay. It just proves
something important: if you don’t like the answers, don’t ask the questions. On
the other hand, this has another purpose.”
“What’s that.” Asked the shaman. “This seems overly complicated to get to a
“Ah,” said Nosmo. “What we’re going to do is empirical testing. For the next
part of the test, I’ve brought several rifles out, and we’re going to test them.
I’ve taken the liberty of raiding a few gun cabinets—yours included. I hope you
“We’ll see.” Said the shaman. “What did you bring?”
“Busy,” said Nosmo. “What did you bring me?” Busy stepped forward and as he
called them out, Pooh brought them from the cases and laid them on a mat on the
“A 35 Whelen bolt action from the collection of a certain Ken Howell, once
loaned to another illustrious writer for the definitive work on this round.”
Said Busy. “A Winchester Model 70 in the caliber of .270 from the collection of
the late Jack O’Connor. A Savage 99 from the shaman’s collection in 308. A Steyr
Scout in 308 from the collection of the late Friar Frog. A Springfield ’03 from
the collection of a certain Colonel Townsend Whelen, late of this world. . .”
On it went, many famous rifles from many famous writer’s collections, some
rifles from the shaman’s own collection as well as an H&K bolt gun from the
collection of Clay Harvey, retrieved from a pawn shop. After several minutes,
Pooh Bear gingerly put down the last of the rifles and leaned back against the
stack of cases. All the cases fell over and buried him. Busy and Nosmo had to
scramble to get him out.
“There.” Said Nosmo. “Now, sit down and we are going to compare your shooting
results against those of the greats.”
“I’m honored.” Said the shaman, reverently fondling Ken Howell’s rifle. It had
been the first uncased, and the shaman had picked it up first and not taken his
eyes off it. “However, I don’t see what this is going to prove.”
“It will prove a lot. “ said Nosmo. “You shoot. We’ll record the results, and
we’ll build the definitive article on a head-to-head comparison of these rifles.
It will be milestone in the annals of outdoor writing. We'll then use that as a
benchmark for the Fecal Filter. It will be indisputable!”
“No it won’t” said the shaman. “I could shoot from now until the end of time,
and looking at this collection, I probably will. It will prove nothing.”
“Won’t it?” said Nosmo. “Why not?”
“It’ll be just me and my loads,” said the shaman. “Or me and some factory loads,
and these old rifles. There’s no telling, with me shooting, how well they shot
in the hands of their masters. There would be no truth in it. Even if I deferred
to my betters, even if I was to find the great High Master from back at
shooters.com and have him shoot these, what would it prove?”
“Ah,” said Pooh. “High Master. I remember him fondly.”
“You do?” said Busy. “I always figured him as a bit of egotist.”
Pooh thought about this for a moment and replied. “Yes, but he was so nice about
it. He made me feel good.”
“I don’t think he could do what he claimed.” Said Busy.
“I’m not sure,” said Pooh, “But I don’t think that made a difference. At least
not to me.”
“Quit bickering,” said Nosmo. “If shaman won’t do this test, and we cannot find
anyone else, what are we going to do with all these rifles?”
“Admire them?” said Pooh. “They’re most sentimental. They all smell so nice. I
like this one.”
“Watch it.” Said Busy. “I think that’s the one we lifted off Carmichael He used
it for bear hunting.” Pooh shivered at the thought and put it back down.
“Look,” said the shaman. “I appreciate all the work you’ve put into this, but I
really think you should be putting these rifles back where they belong.”
“You must at least take one shot.” Said Nosmo. “We really want you to.”
“Oh,” said the shaman. “Okay. He picked up his own Savage 99 in 308 and dug
around in the ammo boxes until he found the blue box of reloads he’d made up for
deer season. As everyone put on eye and ear protection, the shaman stepped up to
the shooting table and leveled the rifle at a soda can someone had left on a
fence post out in the field. “At least,” said the shaman. “I know I can hit
something with this. At least I could the last time I shot it.” The shaman
touched it off, and there was a roar from the rifle and the soda can disappeared
from the post.
“Why didn’t you pick another rifle?” asked Nosmo.
“I didn’t want to dirty up someone elses.” Replied the shaman. “I’d love to
shoot that one over there, but it’s Ken’s and it’s not mine, and I’d probably
just waste rounds trying to figure out where it would shoot.”
“But . . .” said Busy.
“No,” said the shaman. “I appreciate what you’ve all done. At least I know my
Savage 99 is still a good shooter, but I think you’ve just wasted a lot of time.
When we’re done, it’s still a lot of fuss and muck, and I cannot say the Nosmo
King Shamanic Fecal Filter does any good. If it can’t tell the difference
between MacManus and Barsness, High Master and GunKid, what use is it, Nosmo?”
“When you were in the barber shop,” said Nosmo. “Who did you like better?”
“MacManus.” Said the shaman. “He was always my favorite. He was in the back of
the magazine and I always read him first. But he was . . .”
“Fiction?” said Busy, butting in. “We’re all cleaned up.” The shaman looked over
and Pooh was loading the last of the rifles back in the wheelbarrow. The shaman
was quite amazed at their efficiency.
“Those assault wheelbarrows are really something,” said Nosmo. “It’s amazing
what they can hold. But getting back to our discussion, do you really think that
writing fiction saves you?”
“What do you mean? said the shaman.
“I mean this.” Said Nosmo. He motioned, and Winnie the Pooh brought forward a
golden crown of thorns on a corduroy pillow. Nosmo picked it up and placed it on
the shaman’s head—well almost. The shaman’s big hat had his headdress resting on
it, sort of as an extended hatband. The antlers of the headdress kept the crown
of thorns from embedding in his scalp. As it was Nosmo had to sort of hang it
off one of the antlers on the headdress. “There, you’re officially and outdoor
“But I write fiction.” Said the shaman.
“So?” said Nosmo. “So do most writers. Some of the best non-fiction books ever
written were fictional.”
“But I write crap on online forums.” Protested the shaman.
“So do those gunwriters.” Said Nosmo, pointing down the hill.
“But . . . but . . .” sputtered the shaman. “I don’t want all the rotten stuff
thrown at me!”
“Sorry fellow.” Said Busy. “You sort of asked for it.” He reached into the
wheelbarrow and brought out some overripe cabbage.
“STOP!” said Pooh Bear. He’d thrown up a sky hook and was now lowering himself
down from a rope that he’d thrown up . “ I am the Deus Machine Gun!”
“The Deus Machine Gun.” Said Nosmo. “Don’t you mean the Deus ex Machina?”
Pooh replied. “Oh, bother! Yes, that’s what I meant. I am the . . . the Deus . .
. whatever it is! I am here to save the shaman from the ugly fate of becoming an
outdoor writer. He’s too good a chap for that. I declare that the shaman be
forever exempt from such glaring scrutiny! For now and for ever more may the
shaman’s writing be put behind the classified ads, so that no one will ever take
him seriously and save him from the terrible fate of . . . of those horrible
wretches.” Pooh Bear pointed down the slope, where the gunwriters, their fans
and the pigs were wallowing.
“Thanks,” said the shaman, pulling the crown of thorns off his head. “I’m quite
happy where I am, all of you. I would just as well like to stay here just as I
am and shoot my own rifles and write about how I feel when I shoot them. That I
know is truth, and no one can dispute it. Pooh, as much as I appreciate your
effort to save me, I think this is the only true way to be safe.”
Nosmo was crestfallen. He’d really wanted the shaman to make the leap into the
world of gunwriting. They really needed some fresh blood down in the pit. Any
blood would do at this point. Busy patted him on the back and the two took the
assault wheelbarrow and started back off the way they had come. Pooh Bear saw
his ride leaving and started to run to catch up. However, he thought twice about
it, which was a very hard thing for a bear of his intelligence to do, and
stopped in his tracks. He walked back to the shaman.
“Here,” said Pooh. “Perhaps this should be yours.” He reached out and placed
something in the shaman’s hand. “Wear this, and it will protect you. I hear it
is magical.” The shaman examined it. It was a badge made from aluminum foil.
Someone had taped a safety pin on the back and scrawled “IMHO” on the front with
magic marker. The shaman thanked the bear and pinned it on the outside of his
clothes. Winnie the Pooh ran to catch up, and soon they were all out of sight.
“Who or what is this IMHO?” called the shaman, but Pooh was already gone.
The shaman sat down again with his Clay Harvey book, and went back to reading.
The Pelting of the Gunwriters
By WIlliam E. Allendorf (the shaman)
The shaman was back at the fire when he felt a large weight fall on the other
end of his log. He looked up to see a rather disheveled man. He recognized him
immediately as one of the gunwriters.
“Busy day?” said the shaman.
“Busy!” said the gunwriter. “It’s been murder. I’ve been pelted three times
today, plus I had to go to the flame war with the trolls, I’ve got a deadline to
make, and I’m three thousand words short.”
“My sympathies.” Replied the shaman. “Perhaps I can be of service to you.”
“What’s that?” said the writer.
“I’ve got a new toy.” Said the shaman. “You might find it useful.”
“I don’t have time to review another rifle.” Said the writer. “I’m backed up as
it is. I have to get this article out and then get back to the hog pen. Lord
only knows when I’m going to get a chapter done on my book.”
“This is not a rifle.” Said the shaman.
“I don’t do accessories.” Said the writer. “They tried to get me to do a cough
silencer a few years ago, and I never got paid.”
“No,” said the shaman. “But this little gizmo might quiet down the rabble a bit
so you can have some piece.”
“Sir,” said the writer. “You have my attention.”
The shaman got up and took the writer over to his tent. Just outside was
something under a tarp. The shaman lifted up the tarp and there was a stout
white marble pedestal about waist high with “TRVTH” etched on its face. A small
electronic screen was in the side, and a cable trailed off inside the tent.
“What is it?”
“It’s the pedestal of TRVTH.”
“How does it work?”
“I was thinking you might ask that, “ said the shaman. “Jump up there and say
something definitive. If you speak the truth, nothing will happen. If you say
something that has no truth in it, a large bolt of lightning will come from out
of the sky and fry your a$$.”
“No thanks.” Said the writer. “There’s a bunch of folks I’d like to see up on
“I’ve been playing with it, reading the manual and such.” Said the shaman. "I
can put it into test mode and you won’t get zapped. Care to give it a try?
“I suppose.” Said the writer. “Hey! How did you come by this anyway?”
“A friend gave me this badge yesterday.” Said the shaman. The shaman pointed to
the little aluminum foil thing that Pooh had given him as a parting gift. “IMHO”
was written in magic marker.
“I guess having it written with a magic marker did something to it.” Said the
shaman. Anyhow, I was eating a bowl of chili last night and I dribbled some
schmutz on it. When I went to wipe it off, there was a loud crash and a lot of
smoke, and all of a sudden I had this genie standing in front of me. He said he
was IMHO, the magic genie, and he would grant me a wish. I asked for an end to
all this discord at the campfire, and the next thing I know I had this thing.”
“You should have had him ask for riot shields for the gunwriters.” Said the
writer. “We need help.”
“Well, maybe this will do something.” Said the shaman. “Let’s give it a try.”
“You sure I wont’ get zapped?”
“I’ve got the key right here.” Said the shaman. “Without this key inserted, all
you get is a little sound and an indication on the panel.”
The writer reluctantly crawled up on the pedestal. “I never had to do this
before the damn Internet came around.” He said.
“I know.” Said the shaman. “Times change. I used to be able to wiggle my rattle
at something, and poof! Now I have to freaking prove everything I do is magical
before folks will believe it works. Say something absolutely true.”
“The Thirty-Ought-Six is the most popular cartridge ever made.” Said the writer.
The shaman looked at the indicator. “OPINION” flashed on the screen, followed by
a non-commital buzz.
“Try again. “ said the shaman. “It says it was an opinion.”
“In my opinion, the Thirty-Ought-Six is the most popular cartridge ever made.”
Said the writer. The pillar flashed “TRVTH” on the screen and made a satisfying
little tinkling noise.
“Okay.” Said the shaman. “What that means is that the Ought Six cannot be proven
to be the most popular, but it can be proven that it is your opinion.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Said the writer. “Everybody knows-“
“I suppose more people use something else.” Said the shaman. “Maybe it’s twenty
two long rifle. “
“Well, you know what I mean.” Said the writer.
“It could be a lot of things.” Said the shaman. “The oh-you-know-what-I-mean
circuitry is an add-on feature. IMHO, the genie, only gave me the base model.
We’re going to have to stick to basic truths.”
“That is not going to get very far with outdoor writing.” Said the writer.
“No,” said the shaman. “However, if you and the trolls both agree to use this
device as the final arbitrator of truth, you might get somewhere.”
“Well,” said the writer. “For one thing, there’s so much of what we write that
is based on our experience. Not all of it is what you would classify as
quantitative. Nobody would read a magazine filled with purely quantitative
articles. It would be a scientific journal and not a gun magazine. If somebody
wanted to criticize us, they would have to duplicate the experiments and submit
their data and conclusions for peer review. Who would want that?”
“The great Rastafarian prophet, Lawn Boy once said,” quoted the shaman.
“’Everybody want to go to heaven, but nobody want to die.’”
“Damn right!” said the writer. “I’m a working stiff. I don’t have to stand on
“Then,” said the shaman. “It won’t be fair to demand that the trolls do the
“You get a troll up there,” said the writer. “Once one of their sorry
stretched-out a$$es gets toasted, then maybe they’ll quiet down. Then I can get
back to work.”
“However,” said the shaman. “If the writers don’t want to stand on the pedestal,
how can we expect the trolls?”
“What I intend on doing,” said the shaman, “Is to put this pedestal in the
middle of the campground. Anyone who wants to use it is welcome. However, if you
want to call your neighbor a moron and have it stick, you’re going to have to do
it up there.”
“And if they don’t?” said the writer.
“. . .and if they don’t, it will be simply left as an opinion. Troll and writer
alike are entitled to their feelings and to their opinions. Rudeness will still
be rudeness. Meanness will be meanness, and a righteously thrown rotten egg will
stink the same as an unrighteous one. We will still all be judged as gentlemen
“I don’t get the point then.” Said the writer. “We need something to knock these
trolls back on their heals.”
“This pedestal does come with a remote control” said the shaman. “It has a red
button on it. All I have to do is press it, and you will be zapped into
“Yes,” said the writer. “That’s what we need.”
“But who do I give the remote to? Rick? Ken? You? Do I keep it for myself? Who
will stand on the pedestal if I do that?”
“Give it to Rick” said the writer. “He’ll give us a square deal.”
“I don’t think Rick wants the remote. Nor do I. In fact, I would mistrust anyone
who would gladly take this remote.” Said the shaman. “So there you have it.”
“The pedestal.” Said the shaman. “I’m moving it now to the center of the
campground and I will make the announcement later tonight when everyone is at
the fire. Anyone is free to use it, but they must sign a waiver, absolving Rick
of any damage that happens to themselves and to others.”
“No one will use it.” Said the writer.
“Funny” said the shaman. “I just looked down, and somewhere along the way I must
have pressed the AUTO button by mistake. That pedestal is live. I’d be very
careful what you said.” The writer jumped off immediately.
“I could have been killed.” Said the writer.
“Yes, but you were speaking truth,” said the shaman. “No one will use this