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Writins of Weakeyes Cody

                                  Talented and witty writings

Beyond The Fence  @2000

I read with interest every now and then, how the border patrol is having difficulty keeping the Mexicans from sneaking across the border into our state. I don't know why those Latins can't stay down there in their own country? They just keep coming. Moreover, I sure wouldn't want a job as a border patrolman. That would really be perplexing.

 

I did, for a time, work with a security company as a guard. It was part of my job to see that no one gained access to a vast area of the desert occupied by this test facility. The primary function of this facility was to test prototype automobiles upon a seven-mile track, rather like a three-lane freeway.

To prevent snooping by outsiders, a large berm was built around the entire track and vegetation planted upon it consisting of trees and shrubs. Of course, these things required water. Quite a lot of water.

 

In time, this knowledge spread among the animal, reptile & bird population of the desert, which caused the migration of critters from miles around. Now, most folk aren't aware of the broad spectrum of critters that inhabit the Mojave Desert.

 

Well, by the time I became employed by this security company, this particular location was well established among the creatures of the desert, and trails were worn upon the ground leading to the center of their attraction food, water, and shelter among the growing shrubs.

 

To add to all this, a tortoise preserve lay not more than a mile to the east of the facility. Just sand and greasewood but a fence was built around it, more to keep humans from trespassing than to prevent the tortoise population from wandering about, which they did, along with the other creatures.

Early in the span of my employment here, which was in winter, I started to hear and notice unusual activity of wildlife about the property. Especially coyotes and rabbits. This was of concern to me because despite the close netted fence around it, the test track could ill afford an animal of that size leaping into the path of one of the highspeed cars that frequently sped around it.

 

By late spring, I was entertained on all shifts, by the passing of every living thing on the desert. The owners, during the testing, were concerned with industrial spies from afar, and in the air, but their main concern should be of the inbound animals, - I thought.

 

Then one day I was sent out to relieve a fellow patrolman who was placed on a post not familiar to me - or anyone. Arriving at the location, I saw the patrolman standing near a large old Desert Tortoise. "What's up?" I asked, looking around for something of importance. "This", she said, pointing toward the old reptile. "We can't allow this turtle to go any Rather toward the property." "Well why don't we just pick him up and haul him back to the preserve?" I queried. "Because, if he's picked up, he loses his water and might die." She shrugged. "Then", I pondered, "we're herding a turtle?" "That's about it until he decides to turn around and walk back to where he came from." She grinned, dropping the truck into drive and moving away.

 

There I stood, a radio on my hip, a can of water nearby and a turtle, about my age, looking up at me with a woebegone expression. In all my boyhood days, I never imagined that I would ever be paid by the hour to watch a turtle. Back then, I did it for fun. But I stood there gazing into the eyes of that poor old soldier until at last, around sundown, he turned and ambled away from the property. I began feeling really melancholy watching him labor back into the bush.

 

It had cost the Corporation about a hundred bucks to keep him out, but if I knew my turtles, I figured he'd be back after dark heading for all those goodies just beyond the fence. Be a fool not to.

 

~ Weakeyes Cody