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The Courier

Gold Star Gold Star The Mohican Press Courier Gold Star Gold Star

All the news that's fit to print ... and then some. Pen and Ink

Established 1757

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{Note: This two-part special edition of The Courier is dedicated solely to coverage of the "Great Mohican Gathering" which recently took place in the previously peaceful colony known as Mohicanland. Notwithstanding Mohican Press' official "Gathering Page", which is merely PR at its worst, the "Gathering" was not as sweet and pretty as some would have the public believe. Unbeknownst to the "Gathering" participants, The Courier editors had sent an undercover reporter to Mohicanland for the weekend. The reporter was there among the bunkhouse crowd, affording him/her a first hand look at what really went on. Though the following report of the "Gathering" may disturb some readers, it should be noted that this is not hearsay, but an eyewitness' account of actual events as they unfolded. The Courier is pleased to bring our readers this exclusive inside report. We apologize for not being able to identify our reporter but his/her safety is of primary concern.}

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- Anon

In early June The Courier requested that I cover a gathering of LOTMers who were planning to converge on Mohicanland. I remember thinking such a weekend could be interesting. When I was informed that I was to join the group undercover, using a pre-established alias (an "attendee"), I became intrigued. I studied the psychological profiles of the "Gatherers" provided to me courtesy of the F.B.I. I was a bit apprehensive about entering such a fold, but I reasoned they were most likely harmless loonies. Little did I know what I was about to encounter. Let's just say the first tip-off came when the CRP (Chimney Rock Park) people greeted me with solemnity and offered the following "necessaries"; a loaded musket (despite their ban on firearms!), a hatchet, a hand grenade, a tear gas canister, an emergency beeper, the local sheriff's phone number, a can of mace, an uzi, rope, a 10 inch knife, and the comforting words "Watch your back." I was soon to realize these folks weren't just whistling Dixie.

Friday afternoon I arrived at the bunkhouse. A quick scan of all exits, a last test on the emergency beeper, a deep breath... I prepare to enter. I notice a shadowy form to the right of the building waving at me. "Psst!" It was a park ranger. "There were four or five entered the fort, including women. Be careful." (The bunkhouse was referred to as the "fort" by CRP personnel.) With that, the Lone Ranger disappeared into the adjacent woods, but it wasn't the last I'd see of him. I entered the fort.

As I warily stepped inside, I was greeted by the horrendous sound of hyena-type laughter. To my left were three women and one lobsterback. (The same redcoat I had seen earlier on the street, stopping traffic by jumping out at unsuspecting motorists while pointing a menacing looking musket at them. Rumor has it that he was extorting money from elderly ladies and French-looking tourists as they attempted to drive past.) I knew who these four were from the information I had received earlier (including several rap sheets). They were howling, snickering, and gnashing their teeth. I clutched my knife as I glanced around the room, searching for booby traps. I noticed a fourth women to my right. She had her head buried in her hands and appeared to be very upset. I approached her, asked if anything was wrong. She tearfully replied, "Wrong? No! Nothing wrong. I'm sure it's perfectly normal for people who had offered a ride to get their kicks by driving past, back and forth, hysterically laughing while I stand in the hot sun, waving my hands at them, yelling, 'It's me! The Dutch merchant! Please stop!' No, nothing wrong." As if on cue, the group to my left suddenly burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter. I could see it was going to be a long weekend.

Friday evening ... the "Gathering" group had all arrived. A few, concerned for their personal safety as well as their valuables, were staying at local motels but most were here, at the fort. Even the Sweet Sweetser Sisters showed up to prove once and for all that they did indeed exist. The "Getting To Know You" game was soon underway. I was able to glean from that bit of amusement exactly who the twisted ones in the group were. They were the few, the proud, the naughty - Not satisfied with simple introductions, they had to put bizarre, inappropriate, crude questions to their co-bunkers. "Tell us your secret obsessions." ... "Why isn't your husband here? Have a fight?" ... "Are you an alcoholic or do you naturally walk that way?" ... "Got any nasty secrets you'd like to share?" ... "Tell us your worst deeds." ... "How much money do you make?" ... "Got any disabilities we ought to know about?" ... "Ever been treated for Typhoid, Mary? Ha ha!!" ... "Are you a cleptomaniac?" ... etc... It was sick. Embarrassing. There were a few quiet, nice people present who erred in trusting their "companions" and telling "a little bit more" about themselves. One such person was Dear Dar. She let on that she was afraid of heights ... terribly afraid of heights. I heard whispering and chuckles, which struck me as insensitive. I later discovered what was so amusing when the sleeping arrangements were announced by the giggling house mother. "Dear Dar, you have the VERY TOP bunk!" A visibly shaken Dear Dar, gracious as she is, offered no resistance to her fate but instead climbed atop the mile high bunk, clutching and hanging on for Dear Dar life. When Dear Dar finally made it to the top she was surprised to find no bedding. "There isn't a sheet!" That same hyena-type laughter rang out as the house mother replied, "Ooops! Sorry. Come on down here, Dear Dar, and get your sheet!" A painful scene followed as poor mortified Dear Dar was forced to climb down from the death trap, then dispatched with orders to "go back up there" with the sheet clutched between her teeth. The same lofty arrangements were made for Jo, though her "moonboot" cast made it all too obvious that she was hardly a candidate for bunk climbing. Pathetic. Sick minds were at work here. (Though I had been suckered into feeling sympathetic for Jo in light of her injury, I was to later discover that the "moonboot" was merely a prop. There was no ankle injury! Jo was engaging in a cheap attempt to elicit sympathy. The Sweet Sweetser Sisters were observed while engaged in a game of football in an Asheville tavern. Jo kicked that baby very hard... and no moonboot!) The night wore on. Dear Dar managed to stay firmly attached to her bunk, until ...

It was still and dark, not yet dawn, when I was awakened by low mutterings and cussings. Though I could barely see, the wisp of remaining moonlight enabled me to make out the silhouette of someone pacing the room, back and forth, waiting for something... hoping for something. I could hear only bits and pieces of her ramblings, as she was slurring at times, hissing at others. One thing I was able to decipher amidst her crazy utterings was, " Why hasn't she fallen yet? Damn! Damn!" With that, the woman tore off her wrist cast and hurled it violently at Dear Dar. Pretty good shot. The weapon was right on target. It hit. Dear Dar went crashing to the floor. (There really was no "Alice-type swan dive." That was Mohican Press' party line, intended to cover up the malicious behavior of the Gathering attendees.) Lights went on, everyone jumped out of bed, an evil laugh filled the room, another day was about to begin... Oh boy!

Saturday morning dawned with great promise, despite the early assault upon Dear Dar. (Dear Dar's injury was not life threatening but did require medical attention from an EMS team since all the nurses present refused aid.) It was beautiful; clear blue sky, no clouds, no haze. Birds were singing in chorus while squirrels chattered away in the tree tops. Perfect, perfect day! I nearly forgot myself as I was swallowed up in the excitement of gorgeous weather for the day's outing along CRP's breathtaking trails. Time for java. A cigarette. A chat. I headed for the coffee station with anticipation, for at this moment, nothing could be as satisfying as a hot cup of coffee and a smoke. As I neared the source of intelligent AM life, my brief illusion of a peaceful morning was cruelly shattered by the sudden outburst of profanities. "You b*tch! You threw that coffee on purpose!" ... Ah! Another catfight. ... " You're mistaken. It was an accident. It's not my fault you clumsily stepped into the path of gushing hot coffee mid-stream. You are as stupid as you are mean." Back and forth such pleasantries were exchanged. "And while we're on the subject of annoyances, take your stinking cigarettes outside! Gasp! We can hardly breathe in here, you self centered wench of a chimney!" Others jumped into the fray before the not so gallant antagonists finally separated. After patiently waiting for the next pot of coffee to finish brewing I joined the exiled Dutch merchant outside. "Why are those people staying in this defenseless place?" I asked. She paused, drew on her cigarette, and replied, " 'Cause bunkhouse land's the only place affordable to poor people ... and suitable for loonies. And let me tell you! After seventeen hours of indentured service on a non-smoking flight I headed out here where I'd be beholden to none and not living by another's leave. If I want to smoke, I'll smoke! Where I want to, when I want to .... that wi-itch!" After a period of awkward silence I added; " You are right, Dutchie. We do not understand what is happening here. It is not as I imagined it would be, thinking of it in my office ..." The Dutch merchant interrupted, " Sorry to disappoint you ..." I blurted back, "On the contrary. There is more spilling of their blood than any imagining could possibly have thought." We retreated to the fort. One of the Sweet Sweetser Sisters, always ready for action, whipped out a camera and everyone instantly fell into place, flashing smiles as if everything were great and all were getting along. As soon as the camera clicked, a scream of pain was heard. "Who kicked me?!!" Image, they say, is everything.

We began to head out for breakfast and then the pavilion where we were to meet before hitting the trails. Rich Fed and E. Lane of Mohican Press were supposed to meet us there. I wanted to meet them as I had heard such awful things about them in the bunkhouse. (Gossip mongers are to be found everywhere - though some of the stories appeared to be accurate.) Everyone gathered for small talk, introductions, photo ops, back biting, and show & tell. Fairly tame, other than the colonial woman's (AKA camp follower) failed attempt to bayonet E. Lane and the M Fetish Lady's hallucinations that one of the costumed re-enactors was really DDL, and Cordial Carol's smutty talk which was, no doubt, instigated by E. Lane's tacky observation that she looked like a hussy, and the fire started in the trash can with one of Jo's specially designed pipe bombs by one of the Sweet Sweetser Sisters, and the ugly spat between Jo and Vermont D over promised maple syrup which was a no show; ... There was the theft of the Program Guides and key chains, the carnival atmosphere created by the hocking of T-shirts ("T-shirts heeeere! Get your Mohican Gathering T-shirts!") and the cut-throat bartering of photos ("Two Hawkeyes for one Uncas. That's my final offer. I won't budge!"), the deliberate smudging of Ros' love tattoo by a jealous competitor for Magua's affections, and the unidentified man who darted in front of everyone's camera view wearing a blue baseball cap just to annoy the group with his own sick blooper (some think it was Rich Fed). Other than that, things were great, considering the general depravity of the assembly.

As we headed to our cars, preparing to meet at the CRP gift shop, the same driver who had tormented the Dutch merchant with her drive by shoo-ing passed the Dutchie in the parking lot. "Hey! You want a lift?!! Hee hee!" What followed wasn't pretty. Apparently, the Dutch merchant was burning a short fuse at that moment ... some say it was the heat, some say it was the taunting. Maybe it was simply justice, for some say that's the way of it. Whatever the cause, the Dutchie whirled around quickly, pulled out a hunting knife which bore a striking resemblance to the Hawkeye replica knife on display at the pavilion (which coincidentally turned up missing), cursed eloquently in Dutch, and slashed all four of her tormentor's tires. She must have felt better after venting her anger, for the Dutchie was in a very UP mood the rest of the day. Me? I stood back, released the safety on my uzi, and prepared a defense should one be needed. Nothing more happened however. The redcoat changed the flat tires (the driver carried six spares in her car; as well as a mini refrigerator, two lounge chairs, a coffee/tea maker, a generator, a curling iron, a china tea set, extra linen, Mary Kay cosmetic kit, a portable stove, fu-uudge, a stereo, a DDL poster, a fold-out bed, a boom box, wading boots, binoculars, bird call whistles, two coolers, an ashtray from "The Ramada Inn," an extra blanket (?), a blow-up raft, a map of Ireland (?), hand-held video games, a fan, a Swiss bank book with "Gathering Profits" scrawled across its cover, a dartboard featuring Cora, 6 cans of pepper spray, a cat, four six-packs of micro brewed- sugar free- caffeine free- additive free-low calorie-alcohol free-flavor free beer (?), a library of French magazines featuring DDL pics, an extra suitcase ... with extra clothes, canned food, dried food, freeze dried food, a case of Creatine, a sniper's handbook, a first-aid kit, a first-aid kit antidote, bug spray, 7 pillows, a stuffed hawk with the word 'eye' painted across its breast, a dictionary of words beginning with the letter 'M', a "Wizard of Oz" fold out play-set, a passenger, and some other emergency household stuff) ... we were finally on our way.

Regrouping at the CRP gift shop (though C #1's gang ran out as soon as the rest began to arrive), we picked up our lunches, hung out to talk, browse, buy, steal, argue, whatever ... then broke into smaller groups to hit the trail. Realizing that the Gatherers were spreading out to who knows where, I used my emergency beeper to contact the Lone Ranger. Our plan was to cover the suspects from various points along the trail. I was to stick with the main group of rabble rousers while the Lone Ranger would drop in on the smaller parties periodically, ready to intervene and protect the free world should they be planning an attack or attempting to trash the trails and/or hikers.

Along the trail, I soon found myself the chosen object of spiteful bumping, kicking, and tripping. At one point, the crazed assailant attempted to knock me off the edge of a cliff by whacking me on the head with a heavy branch. Luckily, I had started to squat down at that moment to tie my hiking boot, causing the blow to fall more gently than was intended. Though I was bleeding profusely from a deep gash, I managed to tackle the assailant and repay her with a dose of her own medicine ( I refrained from pushing the psychopath off the edge ... justice was NOT served). Her limp was to dog her for the remainder of the great fun gathering day and prevent any further physical aggression.

We continued on, forging ahead, hacking our way through the wilderness. I insisted upon remaining at the rear of the straggling, rag-tag, huffing & puffing, sorry excuse for a group of hikers formation that meandered along the trail. Sparing readers gruesome details of every sordid act committed by these psychopathic pseudo sight seeing souls along the trails, I offer the following examples as a taste of what I was dealing with that day; The redcoat and Ardensgal were both issued a citation for public lewdness on the trail... The Dutchie, who had been cruelly set up in a sting operation masterminded by The Three Little Piggies, was handcuffed and escorted to a safe area after being caught in the act of illegally attaching herself to an "Uncas tree" and smoking in a non- designated smoking area ( the whole outdoors, as it was)... Ardensgal was issued a second citation for violating the no smoking rule while playing dangerously in the water in close proximity to innocent children .... The T-shirt lady stopped all traffic along the cliff trail, both incoming and outgoing, with an acute attack of wild purple pigeon hallucinations followed by yet another hallucination that an innocent tree was really Uncas in disguise ... The lobsterback, who had apparently grown jealous over the last minute addition to the group of another LOTM extra (though not a FEATURED extra) was unwilling to share the limelight with a "non-credited, mere extra", waited in ambush for the unsuspecting Colm Meany stand-in at the exact spot that Uncas waited for his Huron victim, and smashed his head in with the butt of his musket (non-fatal) ... The colonial woman/camp follower tried to force everyone to lay on sharp, protruding, injury causing rocks while she attempted to film a cinematic creation entitled "Dead Indians" ... The Three Little Piggies ringleader (C #1) persisted in using foul language and telling dirty jokes in the presence of children which led to her arrest by the Lone Ranger. Further charges were added after C #1 tried to pick up the Lone Ranger with perverse references to her handcuffs and boasts of intimate knowledge of Hawkeye ... Rich Fed was given a verbal chiding by park rangers for "maliciously, willfully, and cruelly impersonating an actual guru" in a "shameless attempt to incite park visitors to pick wildflowers" and throw them at his feet ... Chris was arrested for stealing interesting rock specimens from the trails and stuffing them in her backpack. Her theft of the trail rocks led directly to severe injuries to several hikers who fell into the holes she left. Her angry declarations that the rocks were for her husband didn't fly. "He's a geologist, damn it! He has scientifically based, well founded rights to these babies!" Resisting arrest was added to the charges after she smashed a park ranger with one piece of evidence ... The Sweet Sweetser Sisters were collectively cursed out by a boy scout group for trampling an elderly man to death in their selfish pursuit of fun while re-enacting the lacrosse game from Cameron's Cabin on a narrow stairway. Even this, they found funny. Said the elder Sweetser, "Gee, what's their probleeem? It's a rough sport." They all laughed in unison ... E. Lane was accused of cruelly hiding her water when Jo collapsed from heat exhaustion. Jo dragged herself to the shady spot where E. Lane sat sipping her water, looked at her with desperation, and with parched lips uttered, "Water... please... I... need... water." She reached out with what little strength she had left, anxious for one cool drop of the liquid. E. Lane ignored her plea, continued to sip her water, then slowly recapped the bottle. She then looked at Jo and said, "No. Two leagues. Better water." She got up, laughed, and walked away. Thankfully for Jo, there was a small depression in a nearby rock (not stolen by Chris) in which a tiny bit of rainwater had collected ... Two from the main group decided to re-enact the Magua/Chingachg ook fight. At first it appeared as though it were only in fun, but when one of the combatants (M Lady) suddenly pulled a ball-tipped, iron war club from her belt it became all too obvious that this was to be no mere re-enactment. Her opponent -soon to be victim (colonial woman/camp follower) realized too late what was happening here. Amazingly, the assembled group began cheering and taunting, yelling out the name of their preferred victor! Rather than intervene in the inevitable massacre, they all wanted to wait and see the outcome. I had no choice but to jump in and disarm M. For that I received a slash, bites, a kick, and jeers from the onlookers. From what I could tell, based upon the argument that ensued, M had decided to do in colonial woman because she had refused to give M some bootleg copies of racy DDL pictures. M didn't like being refused, thus the murder attempt. "I alwaaaays get my way" snapped an irritated M. Go figure ...

The examples cited above should give readers a feel for the day's events along the trails, ... the way it REALLY was. It was bad. I seriously started thinking I might die before the weekend was over. The entire experience thus far was gruesome and nightmarish. (One person nearly choked to death over lunch. The sandwich in his trail bag had been "doctored" with dry, stringy seaweed.) And I still had to eat dinner with these Lizzie Borden clones. I considered bailing out while I could, but having gone this far into my mission I decided to see it through to the very end. But I was going to be prepared for any possible assault. My life motto instantly became, "Beware the mohicanite bearing strange greetings, for mania knows no bounds."

Dinner at the pavilion. I truly did not know what to expect. (My appetite had diminished after witnessing the seaweed crisis.) The day's outing had apparently helped to cement alliances within the assembly. (ALLIANCES, not friendships.) By the time mohicanites were seated for their meals, it was obvious that three distinct camps had formed; the B*tch Brigade, the Witch Brigade, and those who refused to declare for either side Brigade. (I chose the third.) From what I observed, it appeared the B*tch Brigade was most popular which ignited a jealous reaction within the Witch Brigade. One member of the latter group was caught red handed attempting to poison members of the former group by adding "ingredients" to the steaming pot of beans, which she referred to as "the cauldron." Failing at that, she and her cohorts carried out a campaign of terror by hurling food and insults in the direction of the B*tch Brigade, working the crowd, and handing out flashy looking, shiny red calling cards (Lonely? Call 1 800 mohican-mama). Not yet satisfied, two of them attempted to court, woo, flirt with, and hypnotize one fella who had joined the B*tch Brigade (as did his wife). Unable to take any more, he politely replied to their shameless game by saying, "I'm sorry. My feelings just don't go beyond friendship. Don't you see?" The two responded to the rejection by hissing and making strange hand gestures at him.

The B*tch Brigade members busied themselves by lying, stealing, cheating, and generally degrading themselves. Crude remarks to the caterers. Lewd comments in general. (Chris and Carol were particularly adept at such conversation.) They nearly started a riot by passing out what they claimed was Uncas' smoke signal number. A brawl did break out when one woman tackled another in her frenzy to snatch the number before anyone else. The ugliness of the whole thing can not adequately be conveyed by words. Luckily, it was over quickly. It turned out that the smoke signal number was a hoax . The B*tch Brigade was rolling on the ground in hysterics over the mean spirited trick. At about this time, the redcoat began a speech about "friends, family, and fellow countrymen." The Sweet Sweetser Sisters, obviously unable to maintain their composure or sit still for very long, began heckling the man. "Redcoat, go home!" ... "Get out of Ireland!" ... "Lose the wool!" ... "The French will beat your a**!" ... "Give us back our money!" ... "Hey! You're turning red!" ... After applying the term "tossed salad" literally, the west coast Sweetser gang became bored and ceased harassing the redcoat.

The pavilion grounds were a mess. Food was everywhere. Plates and napkins were strewn across the tables. What pigs these people were! Apparently, the caterers had seen enough. They refused second helpings of dessert and hid the cups. It was time to move on. The motley crew began to disband, heading to wherever they were staying (mostly the fort) to prepare for the BIG event. The show stopper. The mother of all Gathering activities. They were going to the movies! LOTM was to be shown on the big screen. I, for one, felt confident the night would be more peaceful. Surely the big screen viewing would have a soothing, calming effect even upon these wild creatures.

As our caravan drove along the winding road leading out of CRP, we passed THE house .... the headquarters of the CRP elite. Much to the group's surprise, we were met by all CRP personnel, including the Lone Ranger, and given a salute. Our assembly took this as a gesture of honor, respect, friendship. They cheered and howled. I knew better. The CRP people were showing how thrilled they were to see our party go, relieved it was over. They were just darn glad the mohicanites were finally getting the hell out of there...

I arrived at the theater at 9:20, plenty of time before the 10:00 showing. Time enough for others to arrive, talk, and vandalize cars in the parking lot. Before things got too far out of hand, a police car pulled up. I don't know if it was merely coincidence or if he had been tipped off that a riot was threatening to break out in the parking lot of the tiny Mohicanland Twin Cinemas. Whatever. It was a good thing.

Everyone now began to assemble inside the theatre, their outdoor fun spoiled by Marion's finest. As I waited for the appointed hour to arrive, I noticed that most present were beginning to quiet down, become reflective, peaceful. They were anxiously anticipating this rare treat to a theatre viewing of LOTM. There was popcorn & soda, but no jujubes. Keeping one eye on the subjects, I sat quietly, ready for the show. I did notice that a particular group of Gatherers were not settling down as were the others. On the contrary. They were stirring up trouble, or so it did appear. They were laughing, harassing locals present for the showing, making silly noises, gambling, and generally misbehaving. Who were these oddities who called themselves loyal subjects to the film? None other than the Three Little Piggies and the newly attached Sweetser Gang. Surprised? Of course not. At any rate, they continued to stir up whatever they could as they pranced about the darkened theatre seeking victims for their practical jokes. It was as if they didn't even care to see LOTM. As if they knew something others didn't . It was weird. Mary of the Sweetser Gang zeroed in on a group of people to our right. These folks were minding their own business, sitting quietly, waiting to see their beloved LOTM. She shuffled over, mimicked a hand-held mike, and harassed the hell out of them. It was incredible to watch. She actually interviewed these people! "What's your name?" ... "Where do you live?" .... "Why are you here, girls?" ... "What do you do for a living?" ... On and on. Two of the poor victims sank into their chairs, hiding their heads as a child does when terrified the teacher may call on him. Or the way an audience at a comedy club crouch, pretending to be distracted, praying the tormentor doesn't choose him as a victim. It didn't matter. She had her mind made up to go after them all, each and every one of them. There was no where to hide, nothing they could do ... but submit. So they did. And I must admit, we were all amused.

While the emcee carried on with her show, C #1 & C #2 started throwing spitballs at people's heads. And as if that wasn't enough, Jo & the remaining Sweetser Gang started howling. But then ...

Darkness overcame the theatre. Lights beamed onto the huge screen. Music commenced. Everyone quieted down. It was time....

After the promos ran by, the one for which we waited began. Music filled our ears. The opening vista sprawled magnificently before our eyes. The credits rolled. We sat spell-bound, ready to see what we had come to see. The elk hunt scene... so colorful, real, vivid ... Silence. We were there. In the forest. Then the cat calls started. In an instant, the mood had changed from collective focus to a raucous free for all. A sign of things to come? Yes ....

We continued to be spell bound. Seeing things we'd never noticed before. Tattoo details. Every wampum bead on Hawkeye's belt. Lively expressions on the faces of those present at Cameron's Cabin. Freckles. Maddy's Mosquito bites. Never before seen wrinkles. Swept into the story, most of us ignored the outbursts, focused on this classic, moving film. Then it happened. With cruel swiftness, it happened ...

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We sat in that dark theatre mesmerized by the power of the film's unfolding tale, enthralled by its imagery, captivated by the haunting beauty of its soul stirring music, victimized by peer pressure that demanded we focus with unnatural intensity on this cinematic creme de le creme, and drank it all in.

    Struggling to ignore the outbursts of squeals and piggish grunting, I watched the film through new eyes, impressed by the painful attention applied to each and every tiny detail. I had never noticed before the many splendored things that now jumped out as if to chide me for my previous disinterest. It was a totally new experience to see LOTM on the big screen after viewing it approximately 936 times on what now seemed like a child's Viewfinder ... like hearing an orchestra in full stereo after having only experiencing twangy pop on a static AM radio. What a difference! I tried to absorb it all ... fully, completely, while straining to filter out the increasingly growing distractions. In front of me sat the Three Little Piggies. Behind me, the Sweetser Gang. Need I say more? At one point, a tissue laden lady (who was sitting to the right of the Three Little Piggies ... dangerously close to Carol) leaned to her left and whispered, "Don't you like it?" Carol, loathe to even look at her inquisitor, dryly replied, "Yeah." The chatty one added, "Well, this is a very special moment in the movie." Carol responded with a typically appropriate Carolian answer. "So." Taken aback by Carol's unmoved spirit, the teary-eyed lady paused for a minute. "You don't seem to be exhibiting the proper emotions. Are you void of feelings?" Bad move. Slamming her fist down on the arm rest, Carol leaned over, grabbed the lady by the throat, squinted one eye shut, and said, "Look, lady, I like it but it's only a freaking movie! Now bug off!" The lady burst into tears, called Carol a "mood killer", and swiftly removed herself to a more advantageous seating arrangement. "Youuuuuuu thespian hag!" shouted Carol. The Sweetser Gang, who had been watching and listening to the mutually philosophical exchange of ideas, started chuckling and passing around a beverage they had stashed in a brown bag. I shook my head in disgust, wondering whether democracy, with all its grand ideas of liberty and freedom for the masses, was really such a good thing after all.

    Returning to the movie ... it was heart warming to view the blood and gore of the ambush on the George Road with such powerful vividity. The thundering sound of each fatal shot. The close-ups of flesh ripped open by tomahawks. The screams. The fear. "Make ready!" The volley. The smoke. It was great! Exciting! My favorite snippet was the scalping. I loved the close-up detail of the process. It was like a How To Scalp In Three Easy Steps do it yourself video. I was engrossed in the action, the suspense, the moment of heroic salvation. A great scene! ... At least that's what I was imagining it would be like. We hadn't quite gotten that far yet. But the anticipation of the action packed George Road ambush was very much on my mind. (And also the Huron Harpie Ros'. She kept cheering and yelling "Kill 'em all, Magua honey!") About this time I noticed what appeared to be an unsavory business transaction. The Sweetser Gang and The Three Little Piggies were passing notes to each other. Though I couldn't make out the content of any of their chicken scratches, I did observe a thick wad of money, rolled up tightly with a rubber band, exchange dirty little hands. The cash pick-up was done by Jo, who then got up, excused herself and pretended she had to use the ladies room. I knew I should follow her. Hesitant to leave the other suspects unmonitored, and not a little annoyed that I was going to miss the movie, I nonetheless slipped out.

    Not knowing what was really going on, I cautiously rounded the exit from the corridor which led to the lobby. Was this about extortion? A pay off for a mob hit? A blood vengeance? Reproach or insult? Extra orders of extra large popcorns? I was clueless ... baffled. Undeterred by fear or apprehension, I pressed on. Peering into the lobby, I spotted Jo hobbling through a doorway which I knew led directly to ........ THE PROJECTOR ROOM!!!! "Noooooooo!" I screamed. The popcorn & soda lady, busily filling her empty popper, looked at me like I was a lunatic. "What the hell is wrong with you? I'll pop more ... geez." Ignoring her silliness, I darted quickly through the lobby and made a break for the room with a view. "You can't go in there!" yelled her Orville Redenbacherness as she tried to block my way. Not one to resort to violence unneccessarily, I had no choice but to knock her down and pop her one. Kernels flew everywhere ... and I regretted the waste. This was, however, an emergency and I had no time to cry over spilled corn. I made it through the door, dashed up the stairs, and bounded into the room. (What was I thinking?!! As if I could do the Mohican trio rescue moves as THEY did them.) I caught Jo red handed handing over the thick wad of money to the projector man. "Stop!" It was too late. Looking eerily like Jack Nicholson's Joker, Jo pushed over a shelf containing reels and reels of film, pinning me beneath it. "It's been ... reel! Hahahahaha!" snorted Jo. "We've got a reely, reely, reeeeely good show!" she added, instantly switching to her Ed Sullivan impersonation without missing a beat. "It's been reely nice meeting you," continued the amateur comic. On and on and on she went, one reely twisted joke after the other. Thankfully, I passed out for the next thing I remember is waking up, bound to a reely uncomfortable metal folding chair, with duct tape over my mouth. Jo was gone but the projector man was there, counting the dough while LOTM rolled. Realizing that I had awaken, he kicked my chair forward, slamming my head into the wall, and said, "There. Now you can see the movie. You won't want to miss this!" "@$$@##@!!!**@&#$@*@##!!!!", I thought to myself. ( What a stupid thing to say. I mean, who else can one think thoughts to other than one's self? )

    There I sat. Stuck. Bound. Gagged. Held hostage in the room with a view, able to look down upon the adoring mohicanite fans but unable to stop any crimes or eavesdrop on any gossip. I could see them all as they sat, mesmerized by LOTM. ( Excluding the Three Little Piggies and the Sweetser Gang. They continued their hooligan shenanigans and disruptive behavior. ) That's when it happened ... As I watched with stunned disbelief, Hawkeye and Cora suddenly flashed on the screen - out of sequence and suspended upside down!!!! A collective gasp rang out. Then, a moment of silence as the mohicanites each passed through a brief mental adjustment, believing ... hoping they were momentarily hallucinating. They weren't. There was more. Next, we heard it ... Hawkeye and Cora engaged in some twisted dialogue - they were speaking in tongues, with a bit of pitiful French tossed in. The M Lady started screaming uncontrollably as she clutched the arm rests of her seat with a desperate will to live. Her face turned ashen, her palms sweaty, her lips blue. The Texians (among the few actual concerned citizens) hollered for one of the many nurses present to offer first aid. They all shouted back, "We're off duty!" The Texians then hollered, "Okay. Then remember the Alamo!!!" The M Lady may have passed out at that point, though it was hard to be sure from my point of view, for she suddenly stopped screaming ... or moving. Some members of the Witch Brigade flew up from their seats and began translating the "conversation", since they were adept at the black art of speaking in tongues. It was some gibberish about The Three Little Piggies ruling the world and how all mohicanites must die. The Three Little Piggies, The Sweetser Sisters, and the Projector Guy all burst out laughing. The crowd was getting irritated. The elder Sweetser yelled out, "Hey! I think you guys finally have your director's cut!" At that point, total pandemonium erupted. Fights broke out, yelling pierced the air waves. The redcoat turned red with anger and slashed 23 seats with his bayonet. Even the M Lady snapped out of her shock induced lethargy and managed to get in a few punches. She didn't care where they landed (as the poor child two rows over painfully found out).

    Amidst the chaos, a loud siren suddenly went off - like a war cry. Quite a few theatre goers panicked, dropped down, and tried to hide beneath their seats. ( Which was really dumb since everybody knows how flippant those things are. One person even got their head caught when the seat flipped back to a folding position. ) "That's my Magua license plate alarm!" screamed Ros. She pushed poor Lynn to the floor, stepped on Glenn's foot, tackled Cat, and leapt over five rows of seats before bolting out the door and making a run for it to the parking lot. The Projector Man left the room with a view in a vain attempt to sweet talk the angry mob into passive submission. "Here's my chance" I thought. (Yes, to myself.) With some difficulty I managed to free myself and jump through the projector window. (I landed on someone but he wasn't killed.) The hooligans who had arranged the cruel hoax were menacingly lined up against the wall, armed with shotguns, ready to shoot the first person who stepped too close. "As you were!" Everyone froze. A ridiculous explanation for the "great Mohican blooper" was crammed down our throats as the spokesperson (the youngest Sweetser Sister) attempted to put her own spin on the situation. She went on and on about fun and merriment, how they thought this was a fun loving crowd, and the whole thing was done for our benefit. Jo then chastised the crowd for being so disappointingly "humor impaired" and promised that we would all get to see the film the following evening ... untampered with. "However,"  she added, "you are a group with a few humorous qualities, but taken as a whole, we were wrong to think so highly of you." An outraged Grecian yelled, "That's a rendition!" Jo smiled and said, "That is the truth. I can never get those LOTM lines down exactly right."

    Meanwhile, as everyone was preoccupied with the terrorist stand off, Soldier #2 (who must be referred to with this title of respect on nights LOTM is shown) dashed into the projector room, stole the thick wad of money, five free passes, and a copy of "Godzilla."

    This is what REALLY happened that night at the theatre. Never mind Mohican Press' whitewashing. There was no accidental innocent splicing problem. No, no. The entire thing was a well thought out, carefully executed, cruelly timed hoax. An act of dementia. That is the truth.

    After the taming of the shrews, everyone moved along, regrouping in the parking lot. Here we heard from Ros about her license plate. Magua's ex, who had threatened to steal him back from Ros, had been stalking Magua's Moll - following her even to Mohicanland. In her jealous rage, she attempted to pry off the vanity license plate, cut the brake line, and remarry Magua. Fortunately, she didn't know about Ros' eternal, obsessive love which led Ros to install a state of the art alarm system on her license plate (it even had sensory lights). When Ros discovered the twisted plot of the twisted ex whose heart was so very twisted, she applied all the skills and tips of tomahawk art that Magua had taught her and successfully drove off her foe. (No one yet knows what became of Magua's wounded ex, but an investigation into her whereabouts is underway as I write.)

    The rest of the motley mohicanite mob was still amassed in front of the theatre. After engaging in cheap, useless small talk with each other, it was agreed that all would return to the theatre the following evening to see LOTM ... as it was meant to be seen. Then Soldier #2 put on his sweet side, offered E. Lane a cigarette while snatching her lighter, and said, "I was wondering. Would it be any trouble to get your VCR and let me take a look at it. I need to check the input/output plugs so I can rig up something at the bunkhouse." Flashing his signature smile, Soldier #2 added, "It would really mean a lot to me." E. Lane agreed to get the VCR, arranging a meeting point in downtown Mohicanland. Rich Fed and E. Lane then departed but not before Soldier #2 yelled out, "Oh yeah! And bring your LOTM video too!" Strange that he would need the video to check the wiring configuration ...

    Now before I continue, it should be noted that the redcoat was not a career criminal. In fact, according to the F.B.I. profile, he had led a very quiet, normal, anonymous life ... until he was hired as an extra in LOTM. By all accounts, THAT was the turning point ... the crossroad of his life ... the beginning of his descent upon the slippery slope. For whatever reason, LOTM made a significant impact upon the redcoat's psyche. He simply snapped. Thus far, in one brief evening, the redcoat had engaged in politique-ing, distemper, seat slashing, cursing, three counts of theft, tampering with evidence, interfering in a criminal investigation, phony kindness, and swindling. And the night was young.

    Sensing something sinister was up, I decided to tag along to the VCR pick up site ... from a distance. I followed the redcoat's white pick up into a dark, secluded parking lot ... somewhere on the wrong side of the Mohicanland tracks. I put on my night vision telescopic glasses and waited. A few moments passed before Rich Fed and E. Lane pulled into the designated meeting place. I watched as Rich Fed handed the VCR and LOTM tape to the redcoat. Rolling down my window, I was able to hear their conversation. As the redcoat fiddled around with the VCR, pretending to examine the plug configurations, he made small talk with Rich Fed. "Some night, huh?" And so on ... I noticed that he was inching closer to the pick up cab as he spoke. Suddenly, he stuck out his foot, tripped Rich Fed, jumped into his truck with VCR and LOTM video in hand, and tore out of there! Realizing that Rich Fed and E. Lane would be unable to follow quickly, I heard the call of my citizen's duty.

    Keeping back a safe distance, I tracked the redcoat as he sped through the darkened streets of Mohicanland. At one point, he nearly took out a slow moving pedestrian and her seeing-eye dog. Fearing he would cause bodily injury to someone, I continued my tail helplessly. I can only imagine what he was thinking, as I wasn't a soothsayer, but his actions spoke volumes about crime sprees! He pulled into a Ma & Pa's store, ran inside, and within seconds came running out with a bag of pretzels, a 2 litre of 'pop', 4 packages of red licorice, a case of twinkies, a pocketful of candy bars, and a "True Detectives" magazine. This boy was hungry! He jumped back into his pick up and sped away. A moment later, an old man stumbled out, holding his head with one hand, shooting wildly into the air with the other. "This must be Pa," I thought. With no time to dally, I hurried after the redcoat.

    A few miles down the road I spotted him. He was beeping his horn, flashing his brights, and tailgating another vehicle. He was just having fun, for he could have easily passed the other driver. An obviously panicked person was at the wheel for it kept swerving and spinning, running red lights, and crossing the divider where there was no broken yellow line. All the while, the redcoat's pick up remained as close as possible without actually touching the victim's fender. This terror was carried out for 10 miles, finally ending when a police car arrived with sirens in the on position. The redcoat was obliged to pull over, so I decided to do the same. Listening to the exchange between the two, I was very impressed with this man's ability to talk himself out of trouble. Unbelievably, he related a twisted tale of how he had witnessed a robbery in progress, his heroic attempt to capture the perpetrator, a near death collision, and his belief that every citizen should do his part to stop crime. He then went on to describe his period of military service (failing to note that this was in LOTM), his boy scout record, his top ten favorite charity organizations, and how he still cries whenever he watches "The Sound of Music." Pathetic as it was, it was working. He even went so far as to give a description of the "criminal" to the gullible civil servant. "He was French." Apparently, the redcoat's extremist nationalism was ever ready to rear its ugly head. Unable to take any more, I drove on, eventually meeting up with the other vehicle. Coincidentally, the driver continued on all the way to the bunk house. I pulled up beside her and was quite surprised to find out it was Chris. Shaken as she was, I did allow a brief twinge of satisfaction to run through my mind. After all, she was in on the movie house debacle. But it passed and I sort of felt sorry for her. But it passed, too.

    By this time, I was tired. Curious though I was about the redcoat's activities, I hit the bunk. (I heard there was an all night Uncas session.) The following morning proved to be yet another gorgeous day. (Insert paragraph 6 of Part One ... "Saturday morning dawned" ... for a description of Sunday morning.) I got out of the bunk and once again headed for the coffee station. Though it does sound a bit manufactured, the very same mohicanites who had brawled over coffee the previous morning, were at it again. Really! This time, however, the burn victim had set up the burner. She got up earlier than the others, made a fresh pot of coffee, filled her thermos, made another pot, filled another thermos, ... then she made a dummy pot of coffee. Armed with all the caffeine she needed, the vengeful one took a seat and waited.

    After 20 minutes of peaceful, quiet coffee break, the show was on. The enemy awoke. She removed her avocado overnight facial mask, nose strip, night blinders, ear plugs, and ( thank heavens ) her antiquated prickly pink curlers. Slipping on her Lucille Ball style furry slippers and robe, she shuffled over to the coffee pot. After emptying 6 packets of sweet & low and 5 spoonfuls of non-dairy creamer into her personalized coffee mug, she poured the brew. She smelled it. She inhaled it. She coddled it. She sipped it. Then she spit it all over the floor. "Mud!" The avenged one was satisfied and had a good laugh over it. And yes, it was mud, with a touch of coffee for aroma therapy effect. An exchange of bitter words. Then a brief skirmish. During the melee, the personalized mug was smashed. (On a happy note, the avenged one shared her thermos of coffee with me.)

    Everyone awoke shortly thereafter. Several bunkees went out for breakfast before heading up to Linville Falls. One disappearance occurred for which no explanation has yet been found. That was Ros. Whether this has anything to do with Magua's ex I don't know. We still await word from the Huron Harpie. A few others parted ways, claiming they had "things to do, people to see." Rumor has it, however, that they were no longer inclined to brave the bunk house gang.

    After breakfast, the mohicanites gathered at the Linville Falls parking lot. One woman brought a local paper in which were several articles detailing overnight crimes in Mohicanland. In each case, a white pick up was fingered as the get away vehicle. Was it he? The stealthy and sly Soldier #2? Who knows for sure, but I for one have my suspicions. Once all were gathered, Rich Fed covered crowd control. Stepping into his guru persona, he delivered his Sunday sermon. The mohicanite mob applauded as he began his opening ceremony of greetings. He told the assembly that they were very lucky indeed, for they were to hear Rich Fed's Weekly Update LIVE! In person! Beginning slowly, Rich Fed related the history of Mohican mania. As the assembly listened with silent awe, he continued his tale of LOTM obsession ... how he conquered all to find each and every film locale - dragging his beloved along the way, the tedious process of creating the guide book, the hunt for an able and willing cost-conscious printer, their web site, and a condensed form of Mohicanland history. He was building up to a crescendo. Now he had them! Jumping atop the redcoat's pick up, Rich Fed was working the crowd like a pro ... becoming more animated as he went along, pounding his fist in the air, putting dramatic emphasis on catchy phrases by powerful inflections, and pausing long enough for applause. It was very moving. Even the Quiet Man and the Quiet Man's Wife were cheering. Then he talked about the Gathering. Wild applause broke out. The M Lady got so excited she began thrusting her hands in the air, chanting "Men-tor! Men-tor!" ... The others joined in 'til the ruckus grew so loud the park ranger came by to ask the group to "tone it down a bit." Moved to tears of joy, several of the mohicanites hugged each other. It was quite a performance. Rich Fed jumped down and handed E. Lane the scripted speech. The colonial woman video taped the show then yelled, "A father! Have you seen a father?!!" Her camera flashed a Father's Day greeting for all to see. It was time to move along ... on to the George Road.

    As we tracked the war party, the redcoat treated us to much insider information. Pointing out each spot of significance, relating stories, and letting us in on LOTM gossip, the redcoat made this a trail to remember. A brief scuffle broke out when the Uncas crowd demanded to hear more Uncas gossip, but were rudely shouted down by the Hawkeye crowd. After wild name calling and tumbling in the dirt, it was over - with only a minimal amount of bruises, cuts, and scratches. Along the way, the redcoat and the colonial woman re-enacted some scenes. The 'Cora/Alice cowering in fear tree stump' scene, the 'unsuspecting lobsterback with a smirk whacked by Magua' scene, the 'Magua runninaround, runninaround ... better water' scene, and more. Then I noticed a woman lurking behind a tree. I was sure I had seen her before. But where? As she stepped out from the cover of her tree to retrieve a notebook, I could see her clearly. It was her ... the popcorn lady. She spotted me and quickly darted back within the forest, like a frightened deer.

    We continued our hike along the beautiful wood laden George Road, then followed the trail which led to the falls. Here we stopped. The women were tired and we all found the rocky ledge an inviting place to rest. The falls were gorgeous, though we could see that they were not nearly as lengthy as they appeared in the film. We saw where the canoes were steered treacherously over the water's edge. We learned how movie makers applied their artistic skills so convincingly to make these falls appear to have a looong drop ahead. It was refreshing; a relaxing stop along the trail. The only incident that slightly marred the experience was the attempt by the Two Stone Cold Hearted Sisters (whom I can not identify for fear of a lawsuit, but can tell you that they are not kin) to dangle Dear Dar over the edge to "cool her heels." Other than that, it was picture perfect!

    We continued, winding back towards our starting point. During the return hike, the redcoat filled us in on more tidbits of Mohican lore. At one point, I saw the popcorn lady cut through the woods, which violated all posted warnings to stay on the trails. She darted across the trail ahead of our group. She appeared to be following us, but leap frogging our movements. Who was she? Reaching the parking lot, everyone hurried to their cars. We were going for lunch. We headed to Louise's. The same Louise's that boasts a location that straddles three counties at their meeting points. The Dutch Merchant couldn't see what the big deal was and she said as much . Those at my table sat quietly ... chatting and behaving themselves. Others were not so well mannered. The Sweetser Sisters (minus one) started a food fight and tried to slip out without paying. The colonial woman/camp follower kept telling everyone to "Hurry up and eat! Hurry up and eat!" - she was anxious to get to the fort scene. One mohicanite made the waitress return his order, claiming his low-cal salad "juuust didn't look right" and re-ordered a thick steak. We finished quickly (especially the Dutch Merchant and E. Lane, who just couldn't wait to get to the fresh air and have a cigarette) and organized a caravan ... of sorts. It was time to head to Table Rock, the final scene. The spot from where Ching, Hawk, and the Munro girl stood to say their good byes and have their hair wind-blown dried ... facing the endless rolling forests to the west ... A haze of sunlight illuminates silver and lead clouds ... Here is where Ching delivered his speech about still hanging around and advises patience , no doubt intended to leave the audience wondering, "Hmmm ... do we sense a sequel in the works?" Does Ching have a future? Will Hawkeye settle down and start a family? Will Cora be able to cut it in the wilderness? Will Can-tuck-ee ever get a shopping mall? Whoa! So many questions! So much to ponder! ... But first we must actually get to Table Rock.

    We begin the long, arduous trek towards the final scene. It's hot. We're all sweating. Up, up, up ... we ascend the mountain. Higher and higher. Our legs ache. Our lips are parched. We want to collapse from exhaustion. Some nearly give up, beckoning the others to go on without them. "Leave me here to die. Save yourselves!" Thank goodness we're not walking. As the caravan slowly winds its way toward our final destination, the dryness of this cursed dirt road is all too evident. Nearly choking to death in the dust storm that is mercilessly kicked up, everyone rolls up their windows. Some were lucky. They had AC. Others? Well, after getting a thorough dusting from 90 mph blowing dirt, followed by a topping off of sauna humidity in a sealed vehicle, the unlucky ones were dripping with mud. No one's car was spared the 5 inches of accumulated dirt, however, and the mohicanites were mad.

    On we went. And on. And on ... finally reaching the parking area. Since the drive took nearly 4 hours, quite a few of the more cranky personalities were in full bloom. They cursed the dirt and said they needed to use the bathrooms. But the only "facility" was the double port-a-john 50 yards from the parking lot. It was bad. It was covered with flies. Undeterred by the horror of the teeny out house, many in the group marched to their cars, fumbled around, slammed their doors shut, and made a mad dash toward hell... bearing their Depends along the way. Not me! I'd rather die than enter that little shop of horrors. Those desperate ones, however, fought tooth and nail to gain access. Every body just had to be first. Civilization fell by the wayside as the unruly mob clawed and kicked, scratched and poked, pulled and punched ... their survivalist inner selves shone through. That was the side with the stick figure obviously lifted from some archaic cave dweller's art gallery depicting 'WOMAN'. On the other side was a short, orderly, row of men ... each waiting his turn with patience.

    We finally were free to hit the trail. Unfortunately, there was no trail. Just brambles and bushes, protruding rocks and dead trees. Here we were to truly play Hawkeye ... the pathfinder. In a fun little game called "Follow the Leader", all blindly groped their way through the entangled brush, careful to stay close so as not to get lost, as we forged ahead. After realizing that we had fought with the same thorny bushes several times, we turned back only to fight these same thorns again. We changed course. Now we were getting somewhere. Eventually there really were trails to follow, the trick was choosing the right one. We did okay and were on our way toward the site. It was cool on Table Rock Mountain. As we walked forward, we passed along thickly wooded ridges that captured the coolness of the breeze. It was pleasantly damp. And quiet. There were tons of sweet, ripe wild blueberries/huckleberries to snack on. At an overlook, the group regrouped after having drifted apart. Some were very hungry and went for the berries. They were gone! Kam and Emi had beaten the rest to the spot and contentedly devoured them all. They couldn't hide it. Berry juice stained their hands, faces, clothing, and even their Three Little Piggies Productions Program Guides. After a swift trial on this dangerous plateau, the two were found guilty of berry hoarding during a period of widespread famine. The only matter left to vote upon was the sentence. Some wanted to make them pay with water. Others with the dried fruit stash that was discovered hidden in their backpacks. Still others clamored for interest bearing financial restitution. But the Two Stone Cold Hearted Sisters voted for death Uncas/Alice style. Though they made a strong argument for their position, they were voted down. (Not by mercy. It was purely a pragmatic decision. It was reasoned that if the Uncas/Alice punishment was carried out, the others would have to carry the extra back packs. What motivation.) The final decision was that the two berry thieves would be deprived of water until we returned to our vehicles. I was the lone dissenter on this issue, as I thought it cruel and unusual punishment. The others snickered and laughed, calling me a "spineless creature" who lacked the courage to do "what was necessary." These were a real hard-core killer bunch, these mohicanites. If they had lived in the days of the 'Old West' every town west of the Missouri River would have been named "Ghost Town." After some phony photos were snapped of the "happy gatherers", we moved on towards our final destination.

    Along the trail, it became evident that Dear Dar was having anxiety over traveling along open ridges. The 500 foot drops on either side of her did wonders for her fear of heights. To aid her progress and prevent her death, volunteers escorted her through the most scary portions of the trail. This act of mercy was a rare occurrence among this crowd.

    To actually witness such charity carried out by these circus castaways with no thought of gain was uplifting. The Two Stone Cold Hearted Sisters even volunteered, but Dear Dar shook her head violently to signal "no." Others quickly stepped forward to offer their aid. (I later learned that the true motivation for the guiding volunteers was Dear Dar's photo collection of Uncas. Someone wanted them very badly and they were prepared to blackmail Dear Dar.) The redcoat was the M Lady's personal guide, helping her along through the difficult passages. She was sorely in need of his kindness and company, as her friend the T-shirt lady scooted on ahead, never turning back or inquiring after the M Lady's health. The M Lady did beg her friend to wait for her. "T-shirt lady! Wait up!" But she was rebuffed. "No way! You're on your own, M Lady!" At one point, while testing the footing on some loose rocks, the redcoat slipped and fell over the edge. It appeared as though we had lost him. The drop below was nearly 700 feet, with the rock facing jagged the whole way down. This wasn't going to be pretty. Several in the group screamed. Ardensgal, who knew him well, rushed to the edge in a desperate attempt to save his life. He was still there! Hanging questionably, but still hanging. Ardensgal grabbed hold of one hand and beckoned someone to grab the other. E. Lane was there. She thought about it a minute then decided she might as well as stay and lend a hand. She grabbed the redcoat's hand, then she stepped on it. Ardensgal was shocked. The redcoat was scared. "Hey! What gives?!! Help me up!" E. Lane took her time before answering. "Well," said she, "Maybe. What's your life worth to you?" Some haggling went on about the monetary value of the redcoat's life, with other mohicanites putting their two shillings worth into the discussion. The militiaman John said, "It is enough to remind you all that the uniform is worth big bucks." A few nodded in agreement while others still wanted to consider the life in question a bit more. His life slipping away, his hands numb, the rock climber finally grew tired of hanging on so he agreed to E. Lane's extortion. They eventually settled on $20.00, which really was a good deal for the redcoat if you think about it. Following a verbal ratification, Ardensgal and E. Lane hoisted the redcoat up to safety. He was cut and bruised, but thankfully, that spanky red soldier uniform was not harmed. Seeing blood on the red coat, the M Lady clasped her hands to her cheeks and cried out, "Help! Nurse! An English patient!" As always, none stepped forward so the militiaman John, who was trained in the art of wilderness survival and killing techniques, tended to the wounds of the redcoat. Applying a poultice to one particularly nasty scrape, he said, "It will seep and then it will draw." While he bandaged the wounded one, E. Lane snapped her fingers, tapped her foot, held out her hand, and demanded the dough. Unable to move his weakened right arm very well, the redcoat used his strong arm to reach inside his pocket, withdraw that oh so familiar wad of money, and looking like a gangster, he licked his thumb and snapped off a twenty. Satisfied with her small victory and the strong arm tactic, E. Lane continued on her way.

    By this time, the traveling circus had broken up into smaller groups. Some were far ahead, while others lagged way behind. After some jungle warfare, our group made it through some thick vegetation and picked up another narrow trail. We followed this until we reached a narrow path which led downward. One by one, we slid down on our behinds. It was kind of fun, like a mud slide. A couple of people couldn't grasp branches on their way down so they slid really fast, hitting bumps at high speeds and taking some painful bounces when they finally landed at the foot of the path. Collecting our group and attempting to brush off the dirt from our backsides, we continued. Climbing again through a brush covered incline, we finally reached the site of the final scene. We all collapsed upon the rocks, caught our breath, and relaxed in the sun. We were all there, but some ... they, the last of the mohicanites who trailed helplessly behind us. The views from atop this mountain were amazingly beautiful. We looked down upon the gorge which appeared to be unspoiled. You couldn't tell people lived down there, somewhere, as it seemed to be pristine wilderness. We could see endless forests covering the surrounding mountains, rising and falling as they blanketed the rolling terrain. The vista was breath taking. It was peaceful. It was worth every painful step, every difficulty endured ... to be here in this spot, overlooking wilderness. Taking it all in, the LOTMers soon got bored. Seeking fun in the sun, they looked down from their perch to see where the stragglers were. They spotted them below, to our right, still hacking their way through the wilderness. The Dutch Merchant and the Two Stone Cold Hearted Sisters decided to harass them. "Here's a Mohican Musing for them!" laughed the Dutchie. They yelled down to turn back. "You're going the wrong way! There's a trail you passed that leads to a shortcut!" After backtracking a bit, someone finally wisened up and refused to continue in the wrong direction. When the lower level hikers came back into view, the merry mountain top mischief makers started throwing rocks upon them. Then water bottles. Then hats. Then wooden shoes. They were far more amused than were those who were yet to reach the lofty spot and unable to fight back. The merry pranksters were having a ball.

    Our group lounged around, talking and admiring the vista. It was a fairly small group, thus we were able to pry into each other's lives more comprehensively than before. Here I learned of the various personalities. Now they seemed more personal, more real. Carol, for instance, was actually capable of feeling pity, though she timed how long such an emotion should be exhibited. Chris, for all her plotting and manipulative tendencies, was pretty honest and down to earth ... if you caught her at the right moment. The Dutch Merchant wasn't nearly the cut-throat business woman she seemed to be. I even witnessed her discount a used pair of Dutch shoes to Cat (who had lost hers during one of the trail scuffles). And Cat, though she did favor Uncas, was not entirely averse to Hawkeye. Definitely more open minded on that point than I was led to believe. Dear Dar, who was not brave enough to tackle the final climb, and thus was not with us on the plateau upon which we perched, was more gutsy than I thought. As we spotted her below, waiting and waving her arms, I thought about that. Not only did she face her fears of joining this motley crew, she overcame those fears. She climbed to greater heights than she had ever imagined. Rich Fed was a nice guy, but still just a guy. Not the superhuman action figure hero some said he was. E. Lane was much more quiet and reserved than many expected, but then, she was taking mental notes for later ammunition. The Sweet Sweetser Sisters were EXACTLY as I thought they'd be, which was EXACTLY like Jo. (If you asked one for an opinion, you had yourself a consensus.) I could go on, but ...

    Sitting at the edge of the rock, I looked below. I noticed some movement in the bushes so I watched. I put on someone's binoculars and tried to see what it was that was shaking the bush so violently. It was her again! The pop corn lady. She was definitely tracking this war party up and down the frontier. But why? As I pondered this puzzle, the trail trailers appeared. Man, did the noise level increase! There was some emotional stuff going on and some bird watching; some horse play and photo shoots; 'issues' were brought out for discussion and a re-enactment of the Ching thing followed. There was even a comedy routine underway, though some didn't find it funny (oddly, it was the ones who were objects of the pranksters jokes). Off to the side, I overheard The Two Stone Cold Hearted Sisters making snide remarks and planning a general overthrow. Personally, I think they were overshooting. Just the two of them? Tossing all those people over the edge? I didn't think so. But, they amused themselves with the thought of it, so that was positive. It kept them busy for awhile.

    Some of us headed back down the trail once more, leaving the others to their own fate. The hike back seemed much shorter. Maybe it was the down hill direction. Or the gossip, which always makes time fly. I know one factor was the pop corn lady. I couldn't stop wondering who she was. I half expected her to jump from behind the bushes and murder us all. I don't know why she'd do that, but after a weekend with the mohicanite bunch, I viewed such possibilities with increasing odds.

    The Two Stone Cold Hearted Sisters were with us on our return hike. They kept stepping on everyone's shoelaces, trying to trip us up. They were sick. We did at last manage to reach the parking lot, with few trippings. Jo and one of the Sweetser Gang were there. A few others as well. Some petty discussions went on about who said what, who did this, and who wasn't getting invited back again. I refused to be dragged into the catty cackling. I might be undercover, but I didn't sign on to sell my soul! No sir. I did notice that the smokers in the group, though previously treated like human piranhas, were suddenly the most popular people this side of Mohicanland. Now, it may have been coincidental, but their popularity rose accordingly with the rise of the gnat population. Suddenly everyone was willing to get their fair share of second hand smoke.

    After a long wait, the others rejoined us. We had little time to lose. It was late. The mohicanites were pushed and prodded to get into their cars so we might possibly make the showing of LOTM. We still had a long drive to the Mohicanland theatre. Racing down the long and winding, dusty and bumpy road, our rag tag caravan headed for the theatre. The redcoat was in the lead, which was good considering his ability to terrorize other drivers out of the way. We sped, we flew, we panicked. Despite our time constraints, we did have to make a gas stop. Everybody pulled over and those in need of refueling, refueled. Others decided to shop in the dirty little mini-mart, purchasing anything that remotely resembled matter that could satisfy our feeding requirements. Some of their choices were highly questionable, but who was I to question these ravenous creatures? I waited and waited. And while I waited, I overheard the Sweetser Gang discuss calling mom. "Not now!" I thought. Oh yes, now. I watched in frustration as they gathered about the phone booth and put their quarters in the slot. Then I had the unique experience of overhearing their conversation, in turns. "Yes, Mom. We will eat wholesome foods." ... "No, it's not a cult. It's a, ... (one sis holds up a message), it's a fan club. Yes! That's it. A fan club." ... "What!?!! You thought we were sleeping where? No, silly! Not buffalo hides. The commune has real blankets." ... "Mom, I promise. We'll come home. No, you don't need to put the kids up for adoption." ... "Drugs?" ... "Yes, Mom. Jo has been taking it easy. Uh huh. We carried her up the trails. Noooo! We wouldn't let her walk on it." (Collective giggle) ... "No, no. We haven't noticed any brainwashing techniques. Just peer pressure." ... "Uh huh. No, we won't give our real names out. Don't worry." ... And so it went.

    After the crew was reassembled and put back into their vehicles, we were off. After a wild speed chase through the streets of Mohicanland, highlighted by a high speed chase by the police (which the redcoat was able to talk our way out of), we came screeching to a halt in the theatre parking lot. We barged through the doors, picked up our free pop corn and soda, ran through the lobby, and dashed to our seats. We made it! The Quiet Man and the Quiet Man's Wife had gotten to the theatre early and holding him by gun point, made the Projector Guy hold off 'til our arrival. We settled down quickly, offered a polite round of applause to ourselves, and made ready.

    It rolled. Everyone was silent. Waiting. Holding their breath. After the initial scenes graced the screen, we neared the danger zone. Would it be upside down again? Were we to be cruelly toyed with for yet another night? It rolled along, closer. Closer. Almost there and ... "Ah!" A sigh of relief was uttered in unison. It was fine. Everyone relaxed. The movie was great!

    I was admittedly taken back by the subdued manner of the mohicanites. They were quiet and polite this night. Serious. Behaved. What a nice change of pace this was. The movie's credits rolled. The group broke out into a round of applause. They had done it. They had finally seen LOTM on the big screen. It was a coup! The satisfied pack filed out into the lobby. I sat off to the side, taking some final notes. I watched the interaction with interest. I wondered what each attendee was really thinking as I listened to their ongoing chats. (If there was one thing I learned about these mohicanites, it was to never, never take what they say too seriously.) I glanced around the room at these characters thinking how ordinary they looked. I mean, they really appeared to be everyday people. Who would ever guess they possessed such sinister machinations within? There is a lesson in this. One never really knows who the next mass murderer will be.

    As the crowd eventually started moving their social skills outside, I noticed her. The pop corn lady. "Aha!" I exclaimed. Approaching cautiously, I prepared to confront the mysterious stalker. "Excuse me," I began. She looked at me with disdain, as if she wished I would die. "Look, just leave me alone, okay?" I prodded her to talk. I rattled off the various sightings of her along the trails. I commented upon her odd behavior. I was about to use intimidation when I noticed something hanging on a hook. It was the mask. The Lone Ranger's mask. "What have you done?" I demanded to know. She looked at me, grinned, and broke out into uncontrollable laughter. "Relax, oh deceitful one. I know who you are and what you are doing here. You're The Courier reporter. Good job. You survived." I stepped back, not knowing what to say. How did she know? Should I declare myself openly? Deny it? Place her under citizen's arrest for abduction and/or murder of a park ranger? I was confused. Unprepared for this new twist. "Look, honey, relax! I didn't off the ranger. We were working together as a team." She then glanced at the mask and laughed again. "It's a souvenir from you know who? A momento from our fab weekend." She was pretty convincing. Dare I believe her? "I don't understand. Why are you here? How did you know me? Who the heck are you?" She thrust out her hand and replied, "Oh, I guess I should introduce myself. Hi. I'm Doctor Mary." We shook hands, though I didn't know what to say. "I've been working undercover too, just like you. I mean, these nuts are my bread and butter. My means of survival. No way I was gonna let them pull this weekend off without observation." She bent down and picked up something extraordinarily heavy. Slamming a huge book on the counter, she continued. "These are my notes. It's all here. Every act of dementia. Each violent episode of psychosis. Everything!" As she started flipping through her notes, I could see that this woman was thorough. "Here, read this." I pulled the heavy book towards me and read an entry ... "Day One: The patients begin arriving at the bunk house. Many are disheveled looking. Trampy. Hobos with a cause. I observe signs of dementia immediately. Expect a new field of psychiatry to develop after this weekend. Intense psycho-therapy required. Should have a financially successful year..." I just couldn't believe how thorough this doctor was. I thumbed through her notes a bit more, reading entries that made Bonnie and Clyde sound like pacifists. "But, I don't understand. How were you able to observe them so well? Up close?" Doctor Mary roared with laughter. "You know the Rocky River ice cream shop? The one smack next to the bunk house?" I nodded. "Weeell, who do you think was slopping those cones? From that 'ol ice box I was able to keep a constant watch, a round the clock observation on these loonies. I spied on them through the bunk house windows. I trailed them at CRP. Of course, Ranger boy kept me updated on the situation too." She went on to describe the entire weekend, in detail. She had it all. "So, what are you going to do with these notes?" The doc looked at me like I was the stupidest thing to crawl upon the face of the earth. "What do you think I'm gonna do with them? I'll use it all for treatment management plans. I expect most of these human abominations will be giving me a call. And those who don't, I'll simply blackmail." Noticing that a few of the "patients" had a large, black 'X' next to their names, I asked Doc Mary to explain. "Those are the Hawkeye freaks. If they don't get over it, I'm going to kill them." She smiled over this as if she had just announced a cure for heart disease. "By the way, doc, I'm sorry about the pop corn run in last night. I really didn't have any choice but to flatten you. Do you see?" She said, "Honey! Are you a martyr type? Don't even mention it! I thought it was a blast. I don't get knocked over on my backside very often you know. Wish it would happen more often. Ha! Ha!"

    Congratulating her on a job well done, I bid the good doctor good-bye. The notes she had kept flashing through my mind. Not a stone unturned. She observed and recorded everything. She even highlighted the true confessions of the "Getting To Know You" game. A lot of good stuff in there! I suspect we'll be hearing more from Doctor Mary on the Great Mohican Gathering and the dark psyche of each mohicanite she uncovered. Perhaps she'll knock out John Grisham from the best seller lists...

    For me, I was glad it was over. Thrilled that I had survived. Though I do admit to enjoying some of the weekend, I can say with total honesty that I couldn't wait to get out of there. I had had enough! Home, sweet, home is where I longed to be. Sanity. Peace. Rest. If I never see these LOTMers again, it would be too soon. Nonetheless, if another gathering does materialize, perhaps, just perhaps, I'd be willing to work out something with The Courier ...

    Wood Bar

    The Courier wishes to acknowledge the complete and total lack of cooperation from CRP, the NPS, Louise's, the McDowell Twin Cinemas, mohicanites, Mohican Press, and other sordid organizations.

    We also would like to thank all who attended the gathering for allowing us such fun at their expense.

    Next Issue: THE COURIER ... Issue Six

    Wood Bar


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