Elvis has left the building
As is often the case on these hot July days, we were hunkered down, sheltering behind the Kokopelli doors.
Outside the temperature was 104° and rising. It was hot!
Inside, however, the store was cool, calm and tranquil. Despite our comfortable circumstances, a dark cloud hung over us and our mood was somber.
We had begun to worry someone might have closed the tourist valve, and like grapes in the California sun, we were about to become economic raisins.
Turquoise and silver was slow, and even Navajo taco and fry bread sales had softened.
As with everything that goes wrong these days, we assigned blame for our Twin Rocks slump to politics, mostly Republican, but we haven’t let Democrats off the hook.
Likely it was just that we were nearing Independence Day and Bluff is not considered a July 4th destination. Politicians are, however, a convenient scapegoat, and we shamelessly abused them.
After the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID pandemic, it does not take much to spook me.
I am still suffering the psychological damage of those slowdowns and have not fully regained my financial courage.
While I have considered alcohol or counseling to overcome my cowardice, I cannot afford either and am therefore stuck with this malady.
In our small community, there are no parades, picnics and fireworks commemorating the birth of this nation.
Indeed, there is typically not even a large glass of icy lemonade to be had since most local businesses close so their staffs can enjoy the holiday.
As we crept closer to the day Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence and our separation from the crown, those of us at Twin Rocks were actually hoping, maybe even praying, for a few Brits with pounds in their pockets.
We were fully prepared to forgive past grievances and embrace them as brothers and sisters once again, so long as we could shake ‘em down.
As difficult as they are, we would even welcome the French. Frankly, once we realized they were not responsible for French Fries, our fondness for them dimmed.
We are not, however, above taking their money when they visit the trading post.
As the afternoon wore on, our mood grew progressively gloomy.
Suddenly the door burst open and a gentleman in his 60s ducked in out of the heat. We noticed he left his companion outside. I could see the second man sitting on Yertle the Turtle King, a carving located on the westerly side of the broad porch, immediately adjacent to the Mormon Cohab.
When Kira and Grange were young, we spent many an evening reading Dr. Seuss, marveling at the strange stories he constructed.
Although not my absolute favorite, a title forever held by The Sneeches, Yertle was one of the most popular with me.
So, when Jana, Grange and I arrived at the Sipesonian Institute for Creative Endeavor long ago and spotted the carving out in the yard, I knew it had to come live among the folk art already incorporated into Twin Rocks Trading Post.
After searching out Dave Sipe, artist, curator and cofounder of the illustrious institution, headquartered just west of Mancos, CO, we got down to business.
Dave is a tough negotiator, so we did our best to hide our enthusiasm. Consequently, it took some time, and a few crocodile tears, but we eventually arrived at an accommodation.
Once payment arrangements were satisfied, Grange and I loaded the wooden marine reptile into the vehicle and headed west.
Noting the other gentleman was bordering on heat exhaustion as he reclined on Yertle, I asked, “Why doesn’t your friend come in?”
“He has a dog,” the visitor responded. The trading post is pet friendly, so after receiving assurances his furry friend would not pee on the carpet, Priscilla invited the man and his best friend inside.
As it turns out, the canine was a Parson’s Russell terrier, a breed of small, white, feisty, energetic animals known for digging up badgers. They are reputed to be extremely smart, and this particular pup fit the mold.
According to information we gathered, the breed is named for the Reverend John “Jack” Russell, who in 1819 purchased a small white and tan female terrier from the milkman in the hamlet of Elmsford, England.
That particular pup formed the foundation for the parson’s breeding program.
Once inside, he took up residence in a wooden chair and his sidekick set about thoroughly inspecting the premises and surveying each individual in turn.
The inquisitive terrier limped slightly as he completed his turn around the store.
“Elvis,” the man said, correcting the dog, “that’s the wrong leg.”
According to his master, the terrier had recently had surgery on his left leg, but in an attempt to garner sympathy and a little attention, he mistakenly favored the right.
The canine was confused.
The animal wore a harness with an attached notice stating, “Do not pet!”
Despite the mandate, after giving me the once-over, the dog jumped up and demanded attention.
“Go ahead, pet him,” the owner directed.
“Elvis?” I asked. “Yup!”
Now, anyone who knows me understands the only person I love more than Dr. Seuss is Elvis, so the dog and I immediately bonded.
As people straggled in from the scorching sun, Elvis, still befuddled over which limb had been repaired, hobbled over to them and extracted a scratch on the belly, a pat on the head, or a thorough rubdown.
We always believed Elvis had never really left the building.