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In a hidden valley in the foothills of Utah’s La Sal mountains, my old friend and I sat on his stone porch in the fading light and watched the sun disappear behind the soaring red rock of the Moab Wall ten miles to the west. As always from this perch along the fault line between basin and range, the view revealed four different American landscapes: desert, farmland, rolling ranch land, and high mountains.

In the pasture to our right, the wranglers were bedding down the ranch’s horses for the night. Up along the pine dotted cliffs on our left the last hunting hawks were circling. In front of us, the impossible burnt orange of a Moab sunset swarmed up the side of the western sky.

As we sat there, cigars burning low and the Metaxa in the stoneware cups sipped slowly, our conversation ebbed into the long silences that wrap around you when the world puts on its very best end-of-day displays.

Then from very far away over the mountains behind us, a faint, rising whoosh arced high overhead. Leaning our heads back we marked the contrails of an airliner slicing across the sky.

Through that still air the line of flight was drawn in a single stroke from somewhere far to the east (Chicago? New York City? That far? Further still?), and slanted down the slope of the sky towards somewhere far to the southwest (Phoenix? Los Angeles? Far beyond?).

In the following moments, while the night rose over the mountain behind us, more contrails appeared from the east before arcing down behind the tinted thunderheads that moved towards us from the high desert. Before full dark, we’d marked over a dozen. They lingered, gradually expanded, and then dissolved across all that empty sky.

“One of the things I remember about Seattle in the days following the Eleventh.” my friend offered as the day faded out, “was the emptiness of the skies. No planes. For the first time I can remember, days with no planes.”

“In New York,” I replied, “we had planes. Fighters cut across the sky at all altitudes. You’d hear their sharp sounds slice through the air above you at all hours. You were glad to hear them. You slept better when you slept at all.”

“It was sort of peaceful in Seattle during those days,” he replied. “Peaceful in an unnerving way. No noise from the air. No contrails.”

He paused as the last light in the valley faded and the contrails high above still marked the sky like broad smudges on a blackboard.

“Well, they’re back now,” he said as the stars came on.

“Yes,” I agreed. “They’re back. For now.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • gwbnyc September 16, 2021, 9:28 AM

    If you heard a plane, or just a noise overhead, you looked up.

    Everyone. Looked. Up.

  • Dirk September 16, 2021, 10:15 AM



    • ghostsniper September 16, 2021, 12:46 PM

      The pik looks like 18’s.

  • Glypto Dropem September 16, 2021, 10:29 AM

    Yes… everyone looked up.

    In New England, we have a regional agricultural fair called The Eastern States Exposition otherwise known as “The Big ‘E'”. Just like you alluded to, lots of military aircraft in the air over New England since that’s where the flights originated. The Big ‘E’ is located not too far from Westover AFB and Barnes AFB. I was there about 2 weeks after 9-11 and heard a plane I never heard before. We all looked up, and there overhead was the legendary B-1 Bomber. It sent chills up my spine to see one, because they were meant to be long range nuclear bombers.

  • Casey Klahn September 16, 2021, 10:00 PM

    I’m glad you had a similar experience as I did. There was a unity then, after 9-11. A “boot up your ass” style unity.


    I note that the Left, in it’s infinite fuckery, is claiming that Milley took an oath to follow the constitution, not some president. Oh my fukn Gawd. Those idiots! The officer’s oath says that you will follow lawful orders of the POTUS. Or, to be precise, the national guard officer’s oath says that.

    The liberal common taters can suck my balls. If somebody (Milley) thought that Trump was fixing to nuke China, he must be on acid. Trump was the peaciest president we’ve had for some time, and it doesn’t take a career in military intell to see that.

    Milley has a rather thick neck. Just thinking ahead.

    • ghostsniper September 17, 2021, 1:36 PM

      Right. Piano wire won’t work on that 9 pound neck bone. It’ll require a hatchet. If you wrap the wooden handle with that abrasive sports tape it won’t slip when it gets wet and won’t reveal fingerprints in case you can’t dislodge it.

      The trick is to not try to snap the bone in the first swing, where the edge gets embedded deeply into the neck bone, but rather many very rapid (staccato) swings. You should practice this technique before hand.

      If you are right handed, you approach from the left rear, reach around with your left hand and forcefully jam the two middle fingers in the mouth between the cheek and gum, and yank backward to the left real hard. Be careful to not allow the fingers to go beyond the teeth for the animal will instinctively bite down. This will rotate the head to the left creating tension along the right side of the neck muscles making them tough like fiber. If you pull down at the same time those neck muscles will be further exposed. Now, the terrified animal may recoil violently so you must not dally at the task.

      Right then you short handle the hatchet into that wide expanse of exposed ham along the right side of the neck at a rate of about 2 to 3 wacks per second. Immediately you will see the neck meat open and separate and after about 6 seconds the massive cerebral vertebrae bones will be apparent. You will also notice the hatchet tend to “bounce” the first time it encounters the bone but do not stop. In fact, speed up, and you will notice large chunks of bone cleave off and in about 2 seconds the spinal cord will be revealed.

      At this point you can slow down slightly and increase the pressure on your swings but swing the hatchet downward rather than straight into the target. Straight in will cause the edge to embed, but on an angle it will cleave. This will be very messy, but very rewarding. Dress appropriately, I’ll suggest easily sloughed overalls with another set of clothes underneath and pull-on rubber over boots.

      After the bone has been separated only 1 or 2 more swings and the entire skall will be removed from the gigantic torso. Step back and let the enormous bulk hit the floor while dodging the red fountain spray.

      At this point you will have a wet and experienced hatchet in your right handle and a large 23 pound cadavered head in your left hand. Drop your left hand holding the massive head down to your side and let the thing drain. I will suggest that you just drop the head on the floor and kick it away from you and observe it’s evil sneer from a distance. It may still be alive so don’t let it bite you with it’s poisonous maw. If you want you can stand in front of it and laugh hysterically at it as it fades into the netherworld where such evil always goes.

      Drop the hatchet right there and peel off the overall and over boots and drop them too. Take video of the evil skall and the still spurting neck injury. The coup de grace will be squirting lighter fluid on the head and body and setting both afire. Leave immediately so that the foul vapors will not overcome you, they are poisonous too.

      Go home, wash your face and hands, throw the towel in the burning fireplace, pour yourself 4 fingers of your favorite, settle into your favorite chair and light a $10 seegar. Mission accomplished! Well done soldier. Plan your next….