“Cross the river then turn due north and proceed 4 kilometers until you see a large Kawaka tree, then turn west for 1.7 kilometers until reaching the property, the boundaries of which are marked with metal stakes.”
From the wagon’s bench seat, Billy Joe Bob pulled on the reins and halted the two-mule team. He’d just crossed the river, which hadn’t been easy with the wagon, inside of which perched a pigeon that was easily as big as either of the mules. “Settle down back there, Merle,” Billy Joe Bob called over his shoulder to the bird, who he’d named after his favorite country-western singer, Merle Haggard.
Even though no one else was present, the cowboy continued to talk out loud because he’d discovered that the sound of his voice kept the bird calm, and as anyone knows, there’s nothing quite like 400 pounds of panicked pigeon to turn a bad situation worse.
“Okay, I crossed the durn river, and now I gotta turn north for four kill-o-meters. What in the hell is a kill-o-meter? Why caint these people measure stuff in miles like everbody else does? Well whatever, it says I gotta find a Kawaka tree. How am I supposed to find a Kawaka tree if I ain’t never seen a Kawaka tree before, and I ain’t never heard of one till now? Shoot, when I find the old boy that wrote these directions, I’m liable to string him up. Well let’s go, get up, mules!”
As the wagon bounced along dustily, Billy Joe Bob took a well-worn newspaper cutting from his pocket, unfolded it, and read:
is big money
in New Zealand
KIWI PAGAN STAFF WRITER
Special to The Pagan Press
Weekends used to be a time when New Zealanders relaxed from a week of work and spent quality time with their families.
A new sport has taken the country by storm, and thousands of Auckland residents are flocking to the weekly pigeon races, where they open up their wallets, spending freely on concessions and wagering.
But the really big money goes to the breeders of the speedy birds, who can make millions of dollars if they have championship-caliber stock.
The story went on about the huge purses received by winning birds, and about stud fees and endorsement contracts. Well-known pigeons appeared on television selling everything from automobiles to lawnmowers, and when he was in a grocery store buying supplies for this trip, Billy Joe Bob even saw a pigeon’s picture on a box of cereal.
A flapping of wings that shook the whole wagon jolted The Texan from his daydream of dollar signs. “You hear that, Merle, we’re gonna be rich! These Kiwis ain’t never seen the like o’ you, I’ll guarandamntee ye!”
Billy Joe Bob skipped down to the last paragraph of the story and read:
To keep out profiteers, the government has passed a new law that forces pigeon breeders and racers to be registered land owners in New Zealand.
This was his big chance, and Billy Joe Bob knew it. “My mama dint raise no fools, Merle, nosiree,” he called over his shoulder to the pigeon, who was settling back down.
New Zealand was too far from Texas for the pigeon to fly with Billy Joe Bob on his back, so he’d booked passage for them on a freighter, with the pigeon concealed inside a large, plush container. Once in Auckland, the cowboy had bought a copy of the Kiwi Pagan and looked for land deals. It hadn’t taken him long to find one that looked perfect:
LAND FOR SALE
Nearby construction of a stone circle by druid hippies has made the rural one-acre tract purchased for my retirement home unsuitable. I must sell quickly. Contact owner.
“Druid hippies ain’t gonna bother us none, are they Merle?” Billy Joe Bob said to the pigeon. “It won’t be the first time we mixed it up with them, will it? Hey, there’s a big ol’ tree! If that ain’t a Kawaka tree, then my name ain’t Billy Joe Bob.”
The cowboy had contacted the owner and settled on what he felt was a very fair price. Now, passing the tree, he turned west and coaxed a little more speed out of the mules. “First thing we’re gonna do, Merle, is build ye a big ol’ pigeon coop, and it’s gonna have a nice private area for ye. Just wait till I start collectin’ them stud fees, why I’ll be countin’ my money, and you’ll be happier than a pig in ...
“Shhiiiiiii!” shouted Billy Joe Bob, for he’d just driven into a clearing marked by metal stakes, and in the middle of it sat a Boeing 747 ...