It was getting late, the sun goes down quickly in the Winds, and it gets fairly cool in a hurry. It was not unusual to find frost on the ground in the WindRiver Range, during July, that is, this time of year.

Fathers Tony Fitzgerald and Stan Fitzhugh, and their protege Professor Dan Corgill, had just been surprised by their dinner guests, Irish Republican Army Professors, extraordinaire, Liam Brown and Sean O’Reilly. Brown and O’Reilly were in the process of getting their tents up as the others sipped on mugs of English Breakfast Tea.

Sean and Liam finished up, and then sat down with the others around the Coleman Propane Lantern. “Well, Father Tony, how about a story then?” asked Sean O’Reilly. “Yes, good father, and let’s not be having the Boyne or

Culloden, methinks that would be a little too much for my innards this night,” said Professor Liam Brown. “As I recall, we did fairly well at the Boyne, and certainly at Culloden. Bonny Prince Charlie was at his best. If it weren’t for those damn Jacobin authoritarian assholes, we would have done much better.” said Dan Corgill, in spite of himself.

“Well, Dan, letting out a little bit of the Lore, are you, well good for you. You know we had to play the damn thing out ten times multidimensionally before we could get you to come over and fight for us Republicans, rather than those damn fascist English bastards,” said Sean O’Reilly. “Yes, it’s a shame that the English would not only ignore Divine Law, but were also ignoring Magna Charta, saying it didn’t apply in Scotland or Ireland.”

“Well, it got all of us exiled as Freemen to Americae didn’t it, then,” said Sean. “So I suppose it was worth it.” “I’m glad we were fighting on the flanks with longbows and 15 foot pikes, rather than that slaughter in the center. They say that the English drafted cattle butchers on purpose, so that they could torture the wounded after the battle.” said Liam Brown. “Nothing like a bayonet in the abdomen to get you going after a long fight, and a bit of a flesh wound.” said Father Stan. “I can still hear the screams,” said Dan. “Ah, well, enough of that, now Tony, how about one of your famous yarns,” said Liam Brown.

“Well,” said Father Tony, “it was up north from here, up in Montana Country, by the Yellowstone River, that the thing took place. It was of course, Custer’s Last Stand. The problem with the story was that it played out in so many different ways multidimensionally. Of course, officially, we don’t know exactly what happened because Custer split his command up into three groups. He left Captain Benteen with the band and the small riverboat on the Yellowstone River.

“Ironically, enough, the cannon and the Gatling Guns were also left with the group at the river. He then sent Major Reno north, on a ridge line which ran roughly from northwest to southeast. The band was an interesting lot. Colonel

Felix Venitierri, an Italian composer, and veteran of four tours in the Civil War fighting for the North. was an interesting guy. He had been a music composer in Italy, and then had come over to the United States during the Civil War. He fought with General Custer at Gettysburg, although we think, under an assumed name.

“In those days you could legally pay someone to fight in your place if you were drafted, and that is what Venitierri did. When Custer was assigned to Dakota Territory, out West, Venitierri ran into him in the Last Chance Saloon, in Yankton, South Dakota, the territorial capital of Dakota Territory. Custer got Venitierri drunk, and then busted him playing poker. Old Felix had no choice but to accept Custer’s offer to be the Bandman for the Seventh Cavalry. Ironically,

Venitierri lived to tell the tale of the Battle of Little Bighorn, marrying a distant cousin of mine Anna Fejfar.

“Now, conventional wisdom,” continued Father Tony, has it that everyone in Custer’s command was slaughtered at Little Big Horn, but in fact, the commands of Benteen in reserve with the band, and Reno on the ridge, were pretty much left intact, with relatively few casualties. Custer, with his third of his original command, disappeared along with everyone else, assumed massacred.

“Now, the official story is that Custer went on ahead of his smaller command with three lowland Crow scouts from Nebraska territory. These are to be distinguished from the Absorka Crow, or Mountain Crow, who live in the north end of the WindRiver. These Crow were a little bit out of their normal stomping grounds. In any event, Custer and the three Crow scouts rode ahead and saw the village which was composed primarily of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

“The main war chiefs were Sitting Bull, Sioux indian, and a bad hombre, a shaman on the dark side. Crazy Horse, also sioux, and also a shaman, who most sioux considered to be wild and crazy, was an Ogallala Sioux. I think tha t Sitting Bull was probably Brule Sioux, a different subtribe. Red Cloud, on the other hand, was a Chief and War Chief, and was Cheyenne.

“For some reason, when Custer scouted the sioux-cheyenne camp, he must have not been able to count right. His command was outnumbered by at least five to one, clearly not a good position to be in, especially when Custer had split his command. Now, what the Lore says, and what is not widely known, is that Custer signalled the sioux-cheyenne camp, under a white flag of truce and invoked right of parlay and right of truce with the indians.

“Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Red Cloud came out, and they talked. The sioux chiefs told Custer that they had had a vision that Custer and all of his men were to be slaughtered that day, if they fought. They also told Custer that General Carter, who had sent Custer on the mission, was setting Custer up so that Custer would die on this campaign.

“According to Crazy Horse, Carter was a communist member of the Republican Party, and was told by his satanic cult leader that Custer, a Northern Democrat, and a Presidential hopeful, would have to be killed out west, so that the Republicans could retain the white house. All three indian chiefs could channel information, and were sure that Abraham Lincoln, in founding the Republican Party, was really a communist, founding the party only two years after Marx had published the communist manifesto.

“They told Custer that today was not a good day to die, that there would be no honor in it. So, Custer went back to his command, and relayed the story to his men, and in accordance with the agreement that he had made with the War Chiefs, they met, and the soldiers took off their uniforms and changed into indian buckskins, and then the battle was faked, burning the bodies of some sioux who had recently died, along with the uniforms.

“Custer got word back to Colonel Felix Venitierri that Custer was going to ground in the north end of the Winds, with the Absorka Crow, and the Lakota Sioux, and to meet him, Custer, one year later at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, with the rest of the Command, if he could, that they would be heading for China, first, to fight a mercenaries, to build up a stake, and then emmigrate to Australia. And so they did. And that is the unofficial story of the Battle of Little Big Horn. In the official story of course, the cover story, which did take place at a certain level of probability in a parallel universe, Custer, and his group were all slaughtered.

“Oh, and one last point. Within ten years after the Battle of Little Big Horn, retired Colonel Felix Venitierri, of Yankton, Dakota Territory, suddenly disappeared. The family heard reports that Felix was fighting as a mercenary in China. And then one child got a post card from Australia. It appears that Venitierri changed his name to West, Felix West.

His descendent, Morris West, was to become a famous, prolific author of catholic fiction novels. Not of course to be confused with James West, the secret service operative, in the show, the Wild, Wild, West. good night, and God bless.” And with that, gentlemen,

The next morning, they got up early, had some oatmeal with brown sugar and skim milk, made from powdered milk, and water, and then day hiked up the valley to the north, up a flute, or draw in the mountains. They made it to the top by noon, with the altitude, by the topographical USGS (United States Geological Survey) map that they had carried with them. We had left Liam and Sean in the camp to keep an eye on things and to catch up on their sleep.

Stan, Dan, and I made to the top of a snow field, which arguably was a glacier. We had a snowball fight, and then layed out some beach towels and took pictures which gave the optical illusion that each of us was floating on a cloud, or on water. We ate a snack at noon, and rested for awhile. Stan and Dan decided to go further north, and then double back around to the right in the draw below us to our right.

I stayed on top of the mountain, taking in the view and the fresh air. I started walking down the snow field to the east, or right, trying to double back without going all the way around like Dan and Stan were. Suddenly, I got the shock of my life! I began to slide on the snow, even though I had hiking boots on. I tried to walk back up to the top, but just kept losing my footing, and sliding. Then, I began to slide backwards toward a steep cliff like edge in the snow face. I had seen this from above and to the south, and there appeared to be a 15 to 25 foot drop into jagged glacial rocks.

I didn’t want to panic. Calmly, I dropped to all fours, trying to dig into the snow with my fingers and toes of my boots, hoping that I could crawl out this predicament. Unfortunately, I then started sliding backwards, with my fingers and boots leaving claw marks in the snow. Inexorably, I slid backwards, closer and closer to the steep drop off and the jagged glacial rocks below. about twelve feet away from the edge, I turned over onto my back and butt, thinking that if I was going to go over, I should go looking forward and with control over my feet and legs. At

I decided that I had to flex my knees just when I went over and point my toes, and then try and aim for a flat rock below, somehow. Suddenly, without warning, time slowed down. Somehow, someway, my life was flashing before my eyes. I didn’t really see anything, consciously, you know, like a motion picture, or anthing like that. Instead, what I experienced was a sort of general gestalt of my life.

I thought, “Well, Dear God, not too bad a life, I guess...” and then I slid over the cliff edge and began falling. I was able to get my bearings after having fallen with my knees flexed, toes pointed downward, with my head about three feet below the top, and my feet about nine feet below. Then, I saw it, a small rock chimney of sorts which stood perpendicular to the ground below, being about eight feet high, with jagged rocks and open fissures all around. This chimney rock had a perfectly flat top, measuring about 14 inches by 14 inches.

My toes hit the exact center of the flat chimney topped rock, my knees bent like an accordian, and I sprung backwards, with the heel of the palms of my hands landing on top of a couple of semi-jagged rocks, breaking by fall. Well, I’m alive, I thought, as I sat there, catching my breath. I sat down on the flat chimney rock and looked up the cliff face. Conservatively, the drop looked like it was about fifteen feet. Well, not bad I thought, the luck of the quarter Irish, for although I had a norman irish sir name, I was also half German, a quarter Czech, and a quarter Irish.

Soon, I could hear Dan Corgill, yelling for me. “Hey, Tony, where are yooooo?” “Down, here,” I responded, “I had a bit of a fall.” “Perhaps this is

my fall from grace,” I said. “Hah,” I thought, “like St. Paul, and Daniel Webster, I would kick the shyte out of the Devil in Hell if given half a chance. Daniel Webster, of course, an early member of the prestigious United States Supreme Court Bar, was reputed to have made a winning argument to the Devil on the Devil’s own terms, in Hell, getting out a poor lad who had sold his soul, rather than just mortgaging it like you are supposed to. One of the many wisdom alternatives to getting your throat slit by your local satanic cult.

“Well, are you alive?” asked Dan. “I believe I am,” I said. “I think that the Devil wasn’t quite ready for me in Hell, remembering that I am a Coif, a Devil’s Advocate, a Jesuit, and last but not least, a Critical Thomist. The last time I was in Hell, as I recall, when I was unjustly accused of being a heretic by a satanic clergyman, I got a cell in solitary confinement, where I began doing Tai Chi on a regular basis.

Remarkably, I was let out of Hell within one day of my arrival. Satan was not pleased. “Well, I’m glad you’re alive and not seriously hurt,” said Dan.

“Do you need help getting back?” “No, I should be OK, just a little spill that’s all. It will sound much worse in the telling than it really was.” said Father Tony. Soon they joined up with Father Stan Fitzhugh, and headed down the mountain. “There and back again,” thought Father Tony, shades of Tolkien. And so it went.