At the Tavern
Arnie and Elkboy

It isn't so much that Arnie Heikkinen likes taverns, as he likes what is served in them. He loves the wonderful discoveries that one can make, if a person just happens to be in the right place at the right time.

It was a nasty day outside, and Arnie was thirsty. He was trying to pilot his over-aged Dodge pickup down Highway 30 from Rainier. He had just passed the old Trojan cooling tower when he saw the blurred image of a large animal crossing the road.

"What the heck was that," thought Arnie. He tapped his brakes and tried to get a clearer look.

"Darned if it don't…naw."

Arnie clutched the wheel of his car as he strained to get a better look. "Sort of looks like an elk. I think it went straight up the side of that hill."

Arnie shook his head, pressed the accelerator and continued on his mission.

His wipers worked overtime as he strained to see the road. He began to relax as he passed Neer City Road, crossed the Nicolai Road turnoff and was able to see the flickering lights and rusting cars that surrounded his favorite watering hole.

Arnie parked next to a slab-sided farm truck. His pickup door gave a loud squawk as he slid out of it into the muddy parking lot.

"I think I just stepped into somethin'," mused our hero as he looked down through the murk at his boot. "Must have dropped off of that farm truck. Sheesh, it's pretty hard to avoid crap these days."

Arnie made his way into the tavern.

"God, this smells good!" thought Arnie as his olfactories were assailed with the ripe odors of popcorn, pork rinds, and stale beer. He walked over to a table where his friends Richard and Gary were working at emptying a pitcher.

"Get me a glass and another pitcher," yelled Gary to the bartender.

Arnie sat down.

Richard looked up from his beer with half-lidded eyes and asked, "Wazzup, Arnie?"

"Strangest thing," said Arnie. "I almost hit an elk or moose or something on the road a couple of miles back.  I'm not sure what it was, but it almost looked like a four-legged person."

"Lottsa animals walk or run across the road. It weren't no four-legged person, there ain't no such thing," said Gary.

Richard looked at his beer glass. "Mmmm, I don' know. It might be. I heard all kinds of stories this last year about some real strange stuff. Black helli-choppers, animal mutilations, and strange experiments. Ernie Basse said that he caught himself some sort of an elk boy last Spring. Said that it was part elk and part human.

"Come on," slurred Gary. "You're so full of do-do your eyes are brown."

"No bull," said Arnie. "I remember reading about it in a newspaper myself. You gotta figure that if it's in print, it's gotta be true."

"Yeh sure, and pigs can fly, and Enron's was a good investment," said Gary.

Richard emptied his pitcher into his glass and motioned for another one. He then

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