I heard it said that there ain’t no such thing as a good thing or a bad one. There are just, things. Like the river, the one that ran around Barkerville back in 1872 in corner of the continent called British Columbia, a name invented by some English aristocrats who didn’t know shit about what it really looked, and felt like. Particularly the river.
It wasn’t what the river was that made it a good thing or bad thing, but the things good and bad men did when they were there. Not that there were good men or bad men. Most of us were some kind of critter in between, after all. And we came from lots of places, not only England, or Britain. Where I came from, that ain’t important, at least to you. It wasn’t that important to me either when I got to the river. It was where I, and we, were goin’ that mattered. Anywhere except back home, unless it was goin’ back home better off than when we left it. But we all had one thing in common—the river, and what we could get out of it.
I heard it said by Old Injuns when they were alone, and pontificated when they was around the campfire in their villages, that everything in the river had a purpose. It gave the fish a place to eat, fornicate and shit. It gave the bears and hawks a place to catch fish. It gave hunters a place where they could get food to feed their families. It gave members of those families who didn’t take kindly to spending their lives around the river a chance to get to someplace else, and leave the river to those who appreciated it.
There wasn’t nothin’ in the river that didn’t serve a purpose that eventually served the river. From the jagged rocks that told the water where it was supposed to go, to the water that eventually told the rocks what kind of shape it wanted them to be worn down into. From the grass that grew out of the banks in the summer and kept everythin buzzing above it, to the frozen-cold ice that kept most everything below it quiet during the winter. There wasn’t one kind of plant or animal that wasn’t connected to the purpose or survival of the others. Not one mineral that wasn’t needed, one way or another, by the plants and the animals. All except for one element that Mother Nature allowed to happen, but didn’t find a place for. It was part yellow and part brown, part hard and part soft, part in the ground and part floating in the water. Useless to most any form of life except the kind that was most complicated, and ultimately self-destructive.
Guess you figured out by now that I’m yappin about gold. Somethin the Injuns never bothered to do anything with, at least north of the Rio Grande. Maybe they never bothered extracting it out of the ground ’cause they was saving it all for us Palefaces. Or they saw fit to let Mother Nature keep it, for her own reasons. Gold didn’t fit any reason known to Indians. You couldn’t make a stronger arrowhead with it. You couldn’t give it to a sick child to make him get better. You couldn’t use it to make a campfire burn longer, brighter and warmer. But we Palefaces found lots of purposes for it. And in the decade after the Civil War in the States, in which I reluctantly took part, though I am obliged to not tell you which side, in the event that you was on the other one, there was lots of gold up in British Columbia. All you needed to do was to get to where it was, and collect 30 pounds of it. And that 30 pounds would make you, your wife’s youngins, and yer mistress’ kids comfortable for the rest of your life. Simple and easy for the taking, though most miners lost at least 30 pounds of body weight tryin’ to get their 30 pounds of gold. I was one of those masochistic souls who got more than their 30 pounds of gold-dust, which I told everyone was ’cause of my perseverance of effort and attentive mental acuities. Course it was dumb luck that Mother Nature allowed me to take that shiny yellow bounty out of her river. And it was another kind of ‘luck’ that I encountered on my way to where I could spend it. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Suffice it to say that what happened to me after I struck pay-dirt and headed back home with it made it possible to see and feel everything in the story I’ll be telling ya. Assuming you have a mind to listen. It’s a true story, some of which was wrote down in the history books, some of which, well, no history writer could have ever found out, or woulda dared to write down. They would have said he, or she, was crazy. Mad. Insane. Lots of crazy, mad and insane shit happened then, to everyone. But let’s start at the beginning, and hope that you got the sand to keep going with the ride.
I suppose the part of the story you’d be most interested in started around 1875, mud-season, which to you city folks means March. The snowmelt from the river was more excessive than usual, the white on the mountains above Barkerville disappearing in appropriate proportion to the brown in the river below them. Mud everywhere. In your boots. In your bones. And in yer crotch if you decided to wash away the winter-stench off of yer tired, cold and prematurely arthritis body. But if you could negotiate with the hardship the mud afforded you, it rewarded you proportionally. I learned to impress folks with words like ‘proportionally’ from Bill Thorversen, or as he preferred to be called ‘Preacher’ Thorversen. In charge of the heavenly souls, and oft’ times the earthly behaviors of the prospectors under him, who banded together to stake a claim once the price of such became prohibitory to just one man. At least men like myself, his men, and Thorversen. Not that everything that came out of his mouth was ‘preacher-like’. He said that God had a sense of humor and that those who were bold enough to brave the worst of the elements He could provide was allowed to use language forbidden to ordinary, common and comfort-addicted folks. “God, damm it,” he said as the river spit out another wad of mud into the dretching the trench him and his compadres had built, sending the well constructed wood and scrap metal trough into the river to float downstream somewhere. “Damm, Damm Damm!” the six foot tall, chisel-faced image of the best of the aging Viking’s screamed to the river, then the mountain, then the sky.
“Good idea,” Bob Hoskin said, as much Newfy in his diction as was in his Screach-drinking, cod-kissing soul, sensing the Preacher’s real meaning, or trying to find somethin of meaning in his excessive use of expletives. “Build a dam to trap the gold, and damn what the river says,” the short-footed, thick armed, five-foot-nothin over-the-hill prospector smiled through a face that was ugly as sin itself.
The rest of the crew laughed. They took a needed break from their labors, giving their bodies a needed rest, and their minds a chance to rethink the ‘hows’ about extracting gold from the river, having stopped askin’ the ‘why’s’ two long winters ago. As usual when something went not according to plan, they waited to see what the handsome even in old age Swede square-head Preacher and ugly-even-in-middle age Newfy squid fisherman Imp had to say about it all.
“The Good Lord ordained that Nature is supposed to be controlled by man, not the other way around,,” Thorversen pontificated.
“And the good Lord ordained, that you, Bill Thorversen, is supposed to be the richest man West of Minnesota?” Hoskins snarked back at the Preacher who had left his family and congregation for reasons he never really talked about, but seemed to have lots of nightmares about.
“West of anywhere, as long as I, and we, keep working, and you lazy Heathans keep drinking and daydreaming,” Thorversen asserted, getting back to work.
To Thorveson, anyone who didn’t see God like he did was a Heathan, and everyone who wasn’t as masachostic as him was lazy. Most of the men who threw in together to buy the claim on that bend in the river fit that category. But one, according to the Good Reverend anyway, fit it more than most.
His Christian name was Jack Calvin. A good fiveteen years younger than anyone else in the crew. And a whole lot handsomer than any of them were now, or ever had been. His full head of black hair was long, flowing down to the middle of his back, each of the limbs on his five-foot-nine body proportioned excellently for looking at, making anyone think that he could do anything he demanded of it. Half white, half Injun on the outside, with the best features of both races. But what was brewing on the Redskin and Paleface stew inside of that twenty-year old bundle of bad luck and hard experiences, that you had to look at from the inside.
While Thorverson eased his frustrations by doing more work, the rest of the crew dealt with their frustrations with another drink, and a moment of collective reflection. As it was an unusually cold morning, and cold men don’t think nor act as effectively as warmer ones, Hoskin pulled out the jug of ‘warm up elixer’, a homemade recipe of fermented Saskatoon berries, wild potatoes and other ingredients whose identity was not really that important as long as there was enough fire in its punch. Jack pretended to take a swig of the firewater, and faked getting a jolt from it. I was bad manners after all to refuse to drink with a man, particularly when he was offering his best brew to you. But it was also bad medicine to imbibe in firewater, as Jack knew all too well. It drove his White father into becoming the devil himself, and his Injun Mother into the most dangerous kind of submission. In the middle of it all was Jack, having inherited the most sadistic and masochistic aspects of both parents. And besides, his mind was crazy enough, even without trying to ease the pain of it all with firewater. But as long as he remained sober, and didn’t tell folks what his mind really did see, he would be spared a lifetime of residence in the nuthouse.
“Puts hair on yer hairless chest, don’t it, Chief Jack?” Hoskin said as Jack pretended to appreciate the brew he spent so much time, effort and heart making, and sharing it with his buds. “My special recipe, which I only shares with special friends.”
“Very, special indeed,” Jack smiled back, handing the jug to Thorverson, after the ‘hard work sets you free and heals your soul’ Preacher broke yet another hammer trying to get the trough back into place.
“Working smart beats working hard, Bill,” Hoskin said, with a soft and caring voice, to the Preacher who never confessed his own sins nor unburdoned his own personal agonies on anyone. Hoskin looked at the river, the meager bags of gold they had collected, and the equipment they had experimented with to get more of the yellow nuggets, then a map of the area around the claim and started to come up with another idea. “The way I figure this river, and the land around it, we should—”
“Keep mining it!” Thorverson insisted, in a loud and assertive voice, like he was reinfused with new Faith, or some kind of knowledge from the Almighty that only he had access to. “Or maybe you boys wanna go home broke!” he admonished his crew, who all had that look of ‘lets go somewhere else and try something else’ that he forbid in his Camp even more vehimently than shared White whores or Indian sqwaws with jealous husbands. “Maybe you boys want to go back home to Oregon, Calgary, Toronto, Winnepeg, Quebec, New Jersey…”
Thorversen continued to name the places his men came from, reminding them with his firey and determined Preacher eyes that if they went back broke, it would be a disgrace to their family, their manhood and their Creator. To a man, every one of the Palefaces from places Jack had never been to, but always wondered about, nodded their heads in affirmation and went back to work. Jack, as the Halfbreed felt himself between two worlds again, lost in the most painful and deluded places that middle ground provided. Then suddenly, he was started by a hand on his shoulder, as if from a ghost.
“And, brother Jack,” Thorverson said, his big hands covering all of Jack’s well-proportioned but still small shoulders that never bulked up, no matter how much challenge he inflicted on them. “Where is it that YOU’RE gonna run back to after you waste your youth baskin’ in the sunshine instead of pulling out the yellow gold from the river that God put here for you to have, for the taking?”
Jack looked at the horizon, visualizing the various ‘homes’ he had left on the other side of the mountains. Places and people he never talked about and no one, even Hoskin, ever asked about. Indeed, why he was allowed to be included in the crew was a matter more of practicality than respect, or brotherhood. He was part Injun and as such could talk to any ‘hostiles’ in their own language, and such was, for the most part, sort of true. He knew the land, and how to get from point A to point B, but far less than any of his buds realized. But he knew most of all that the days of the free Indian who served the Great Spirit who resided in the Earth were done with. And even the attempts of the Cree and Metis East of the Rockies to form their own Nation under the Guidance of Louis Riel and Gabriel Domont was doomed to fail, eventually anyway. Yes, everything was changing now, maybe because the Great Spirit wasn’t so great, or maybe because mankind destroyed the Garden of Eden by imbibing of forbidden fruit by extracting gold from the river. Rocks that were supposed to stay there so that the rest of the Earth could remain, sane and, in its own way, compassionate to its inhabitants.
An eagle swooped above Jack, riding the thermals, gazing at some kind of potential bounty below, maybe coincidence, or maybe not, catching his full attention.
Thoreverson broke the spell. “Jack. Where is YOUR life going?” he inquired.
By coincidence, or maybe a matter of logical and sensible mentation, Jack felt his eye lowering from the sky to the hard rocks on the mountains, and a newly built road through it. There it was, a stagecoach with a team of four heavy horses and perhaps even heavier passengers with chests filled with valuables guarded by two men with drawn shotguns over a wooden bridge that seemed not even secure enough to support a half-starved mountain goat. At the helm, driving the team, a man with determined eyes, hearty disposition and as Jack remembered when he came through the Camp with the surveyers last season, a kind heart. Steve Tingley was his name, as honorable a man as you could meet, even though he was White. In charge of the BX Stagecoach, its emblem proudly displayed on the coach that made it confidently across the bridge, to the relief of the city-slickers aboard who finally opened their eyes after safely reaching the other side.
“So, where is your life going, Brother Jack?” Thorversen asked Jack again, this time demanding rather than requesting an answer.
“Wherever he is,” Jack found himself saying, his eyes fixed on the Coach, and Tingley. Fixed on a dream that overcame him somehow, or perhaps a desired destiny, both of which were needed for a drifter with no living or findable blood relatives who needed some kind of solid ground under his feet in order to keep him from just giving up and lying down in the muck, or the mud.
“Once he can pan up the fare,” Hoskin offered, with a snide but well informed smile.
The crew shared a laugh at Jack’s expense. Another ‘service’ Jack seemed to think he provided the crew of old farts for keeping a young loser like him with them, and included in the mix for the gold strike that Thorverson and Hoskin claimed was certain to be found there, if they dug hard and deep enough.
But Jack’s eye still remained on the stagecoach. ‘Uncle Hoskin’ commented on what the Half-breed was seeing, and feeling, his Atlantic Down East diction as bold as the stench of imitation Newfy brew on his breath. “The eighth wonder of the world, the BC Express. The way to travel for the world class traveler. And for world class and world moving cargo, don’t ya know, me boy. A miracle of modern engineering, by Jezus, and sheer determination built with the best brains in the British Empire, the broke backs of a Chinamen, and—”
“—The land of the Indians,” Jack observed coming out of his mouth, and meaning it. Not holding back his bitterness this time.
“You say something, Brother Jack?” Thorverson interjected, with that kind of Preacher-like authority that gave him the power to give the offender who voiced something blasphemous a chance to take it back, or apologize for it.
“Just that I’m glad that the gold from Barkerville won’t be stole by river pirates, Mister Thorverson,” Jack replied, with the courtesy he learned was necessary from half-breeds when speaking to White men. And perhaps as a very practical White man himself.
“REVEREND Thorverson, lad,” Hoskin reminded Jack, having been a practical man himself all of his hard life. “A man of God panning for profit,” he commented regarding it all, honoring the Truth this time, perhaps unleashed after having taken more than just his alloted swig of the ‘Wild Berry Rum’ he had been brewing during his off time. “Don’t that beat all,” he smiled with a playful and profound laugh.
“I have my reasons,” Thorversen replied. “Good ones. And righteous ones.”
“In the doing of it, or thinking of it?” Hoskin challenged.
Thorversen pondered the matter, Jack listening from a discrete distance with his ever-open, mildly oversized ears. “A man has to do what a man has to do,” Thorversen finally stated to Hoskin. “Isn’t that so, Brother Jack?”
“Yeah,” Jack replied, agreeing to a whole lot of things Reverend Thorverson didn’t say with words, and that Jack didn’t answer with any more words than he had to. Meanwhile, the stagecoach took a gentler road down the mountain, close enough for Jack to see it more clearly. And the shimmering boxes on top with possessions he yearned to have, or thought he had to have anyway. And the shining faces of the well dressed city-slickers in the coach that were more flesh than caked mud, their eyes reading newspapers and books instead of staring out discouragingly into empty space. Or worse, seeing ghosts.
One of those apparitions appeared in front of Jack’s tired, bad-luck-inflicted and old-before-their-time eyes, despite the fact that he stayed clear of firewater. “Hey, Munios!” the Old Shamen said, his long hair bright white, his eyes deep brown, his tall, strong body covered with skins and shirt that had been made by Indian hands, and not with any design suggested or inflicted by any Paleface. He rode an old horse, but the steed was as equally defiant against the ills of advanced age as its rider.
“I ain’t no White man!” Jack replied to the Shamen in a whisper loud enough for him to here, but hopefully not audible to those who lived in the world where ghosts were maybe felt but never seen.
“I called ya a Munios,” the Cree visitor said as he nudged his horse closer to Jack at a confident walk. “Those who have gone made in the pursuit of money,” he said by way of translation of the language that Jack had partially forgotten, and certainly had forsaken.
“I ain’t mad yet, old man!” Jack asserted, trying to hold on to what was left of his sanity.
“You will be,” the Shamen smiles, sadly. He dismounted, then strolled between the miners who neither saw nor felt him. Those gold-obsessed Palefaces desperately panned the portion of the trench they had communally built, hiding their activities and their eyes from each other. He noticed a few of the men extracting yellow rocks from the sludge, painfully biting it with what was left of their teeth and scurvied mouths to see if it was real. “All this mining,” the old man said to the young Half Breed. “Stealing from the Earth what belongs in the ground.”
Seeing that he was about to be seen seeing what most normal folks didn’t see, Jack took his position at the dretch, working desperately with his hands in the hope that it would stop the voices in his head. “We take the gold, and git,” Jack asserted, having experienced what it was like to be broke Half Breed and seen what it is like to be a rich one. “Leave the trees, bushes, and bugs to the Old Buggers like you. No one who strikes it rich stays here.”
“They don’t seem to survive here long, neither,” the Shaman warned, his eyes saying more than his mouth.
“What the hell do you mean by that?” Jack grunted back.
The Shamen smiled, keeping the secret behind his tight lips, and his prophetic eyes. Eyes that saw things before they happened, according to the way Jack experienced it. So many times. Jack turned his back on the Old Man, thinking that something in his OWN head could figure it out this time, but it didn’t.
Jack turned back to ask the Old Man what he was trying to tell him, but he was gone. All that remains of him was the clip-clopping of his unshod pony on the rocks, and the fading footprints of the steed in the mud that got washed away by a waves of clear, blue water from the river that returned to the river as mud. “What do you mean by that?” Jack grunted in a loud, hushed whisper, begging to be reconnected to the world of the unseen.
The Shamen answered from atop one of the large rocks above the river, in Jack’s sight once again, Great Spirit help him. “The mountain is not happy,” the Old man stated.
“Mountains don’t think,” Jack replied.
“That what Jesus says, Munios?” the Shamen challenged.
“That’s what I say!” Jack insisted, his eyes focused on his earthly work again. When he looked up to see the Old Man’s response, he was gone. Both to his eyes and ears.
Bringing Jack back to what folks say is real, was, as usual, Hoskin. This time, he saw it all, not just a part of it. “Hey Jack? Look like ya seen a ghost.” replied the Newfy adventurer who was determined to go back home to The Rock with the ability to buy a fleet of squid fishing boats rather than the need to work on one. “Who was it this time?”
“An old Indian who thinks he’s my Uncle,” Jack replied, with a smile that he hoped would make it sound like a joke rather than a reality.
“Long white hair, wrinkles on his cheeks, a scar on his left cheek, one brown boot and one black one?” Hoskin inquired.
“Ah, yeah,” Jack answered, trying to fish out what Hoskin was tryin’ to say with his question.
“He used to think he was my Uncle too,” Hoskin said, within only Jack’s range of hearing, with not an ounce of levity in his speech.
“What happened?” Jack asked.
“I stopped listenin’ to him, lad. Then he stopped yappin at me all together,” Hoskin related, sadly. “And I got back to doin’ what I came out here ta do, don’t ya know.”
“To be able to go back home,” Jack replied.
“In style,” Hoskin answered, very much in the world not populated by ghosts, or ‘Uncles’. “Not again,” the never-say-die prospector added, with unbridled defiance. Determined to not lose the war or give up the Cause even when everyone else around him has put up a white flag and gone home to accept the terms of surrender.
The prospectors went to work doing what they came out there to do. The cold morning gave way to a warmer afternoon. The mountain answered with more snow that melted into water, that found its way to the river, which delivered to those morally-burnt out, physically-broken and stubbornly-noble souls a plethora of mud which had speckles of yellow in it, and in the middle of that somewhat sparklin’ muck, a ghost that had a very real body.
“Longhair!” Hoskin exclaimed, pulling out the body out of the river while his fellow prospectors were trying to pull out the gold within the brown muck.
“Didn’t he just strike it rich on the North Fork?” Jack commented regarding the body of the very White prospector who looked to be as old in the real world as the Shaman ghost was in his.
“He did indeed,” Hoskin confirmed, turning the body of the corpse around, and whipping off his hat. “Till this happened to him.”
Jack had never seen a man who was scalped. He pulled back, shaking with fear, falling down on his ass on the hard rocks in the river. Meanwhile, Hoskin’s mind went in the other direction. He pulled out a gun, aiming it upstream the bushes surrounding the river that had delivered Longhair’s mutilated corpse, but there was nothing there but wind.
Hoskin pulled the body and the hairless head of his once follicle-rich, long haired slain friend out of the water so the river would not claim it and take it downstream. He carried it to the men in the rest of the camp, who all drew their weapons. Some of those barrels were aimed at the bush and the source of the river. Others edged their way towards Jack.
“You best scatattle,” Hoskin warned Jack after trudging back in the Half-Breed’s direction, advising his comrades to remain in their positions.
“I ain’t scared of facin’ no Wild Injuns,” Jack asserted to Hoskin, and the crew of fellow miners who were as close to family as anyone still alive. “And I don’t know any of them. Not anymore anyway.”
“But you best be fearful of White Bounty hunters, Halfbreed,” Hoskin warned Jack. “Or some of these friends of yours in camp who are one more killin’ away from thinkin’ that you may be behind this.”
From the corner of his eye, Jack could see the business end of two gun barrels from his fellow miners wander over in his direction, then a third.
“That what yer thinkin’ too, Brother Bob?” Jack asked Hoskin, addressing him as ‘Brother’ and his Christian name for the first time, both at once.
“I’m thinkin’ that there’s lots more claims out there that an honorable and hardworking young man of moral fiber could explore, and do it better alone than with a whole bunch of old fart losers like us,” Hoskin answered, from a part of his heart Jack had not heard nor seen.
“I could take over Long Hair’s claim,” Jack pondered, and gave voice to.
“Suppose ya could, there, lad,” Uncle Hoskin replied as an Uncle, father, and friend. “But I suppose that whatever yer gonna do, best do it fast.”
As the rest of the crew looked at the scalped body of their long time friend, their anger replaced their fear. And all of that anger seemed to be directed at Jack, as Jack’s fearful eyes saw it anyway.
“I hope ya can ride better than ya can sell yer own bullshit to yerself,” Hoskin said out of the corner of his mouth as he let the rest of the crew think he was seeing intruders in the bush. “If ya can, or even if ya can’t, I’d suggest ya get out of Camp, quick and quiet-like. While I go up river chasing ghosts who ain’t there or renegade Redskins that are. As for you, buy yerself some good equipment, and make a proper man of yerself, lad. Before it’s too late. Before ya becomes one of us, don’t ya know. And start with this, and my horse that’s as spunky as a St. Johns whore and as crafty as a Cape Bretten Mother Superior. Ain’t much, but it’ll get ya started.”
Hoskin slipped Jack a small bag of gold, gold he wasn’t supposed to have. Two ounces by the feel of it, but enough to scetattle to somewhere else to make a new start, with new old farts, or maybe just himself.
The Newfy prospector who had boasted about his exploits in the Crimean War, which were part fact and part bullshit, led a portion of the men upstream pursuing invaders who he knew were not there. Or maybe they really were there. All Jack knew was that if he was still in Camp when the Posse returned, he would be scalped, or worse.
Sneaking his way back to now empty camp, Jack said a Native prayer over the body of Longhair, then got on Hoskin’s mare, or maybe it was a gelding. It didn’t matter. All that did matter was that Jack had to get out of there, and fast. On the run from the law again, as his luck would have it. Just enough luck for him to not be hung as an outlaw but not enough luck to be taken in as one of their own by outlaws, or those who lived within the boundaries of legislated morality. And unlucky enough to wind on top of a horse who had her own mind. The horse threw Jack off three times, daring him to get on again, knowing that Half-Breed who looked like the fiercest Injun Warrior or Cavalry Scout feared horses, even gentle ones, more than ghosts. With hurtin’ right leg, and a body attached to it that had to ignore the pain, he mounted the bitch, or bastard, and galloped off into the bush, to the other side of the mountain.
Meanwhile, as I knew it, from a perspective you’ll figure out when it’s time fer you to, the miners gathered together back at the camp after finding nothing in the bush and upriver except a baby and mother elk that had the misfortune of bein’ made lame by something walking on faster four legs, then the good fortune of being put out of its misery by being converted into stew. They buried the body, said some kind words over it that they never said to Longhair while alive, then proceeded to eat, and talk about what to do the next day, and days.
“So, where did Jack go, Brother Hoskin?” Thorversen asked his second in command in Camp, and his superior with regard to fighting intruders outside of it.
“I sent him out on the horse to find out where the Injuns were, don’t ya know, Reverend Thorversen.”
“On a horse he apparently stole, unless he returns it,” the Good Reverend replied, looking after what was left of his flock. “MY horse.”
“Well,” Hoskin said. “You know Injuns. No respect for property. Or the law. Or, apparently, each other. He was a lost Soul when he came to us, don’t ya know.”
“Yes, I know,” Thorversen said.
“Just like you know that his share of the claim here now belongs to, well, you and me,” Hoskin added. “As payment for you tryin’ ta save his Soul. And me extending special attention to his wants, needs and agonies, don’t ya know.”
The deal was struck between the two men, as they looked around as to who would be next to ‘loose their way’ and maybe lose their lives. It was the way of their world. Their world anyway. Mine until, well, I learned otherwise, the hard way. But I’m losing myself again. This story was and is supposed to be about Jack, and whole lot of unsuspecting two legged varmints whose lives he changed, some for the better, and some for the worse.