As anyone who might happen upon these digitized thought balloons will quickly discover, they have either nothing, or maybe everything, to do with grilled cheese sandwiches; and most likely never touch on anything relating to cooking or the kitchen... except perhaps, the very first posting. And so, with your indulgence, may I present, the ramblings of a reforming philosopher...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cantankerous Chili McStew...

...With sincere acknowledgement and apologies to Robert Service, whom I dearly wish to meet one day; to thank personally for all the enjoyment and education I've received from his talents.
A bunch of the gang was whooping it up
in a wild Alberta saloon;
Mad Mel was thumpin’ the music-box keys,
In search of a Celestial tune;
While cooking up grub in the back kitchen nook,
And watching him stir was the real spice of his life,
The Chili Queen known as Lou.
When in from the snow, blastin’ fifty below,
And into the fun and the fair,
There stumbled an oil rigger fresh out from the patch,
Coyote-hungry, who stunk like a bear.
He looked like a flake with one foot in the grave,
And scarcely the strength of a flea,
But he carried a tube of hot sauce in his hand
And ordered a bowl of chili.
No one could place the stranger's face,
Though each scratched their minds for a clue;
And as he looked for a chair, there came some serious stare
From Cantankerous Chili McStew.
There’s folks that somehow just steal your eyes,
You know, the kind that you’d like to dodge;
And somehow we knew, as he drooled o’er his stew,
That his home was in BeaverLodge.
He had a face full of hair, and the zombied stare
Of a dog’s bone who’s flesh is gone,
Then he spritz the hot sauce into his supper bowl,
And the peppered drops splashed one by one.

As I got to thinkin’ perhaps who he might be,
And wondering just what he might do,
I shifted my scan - and there watching him stand,
Was the Chili Queen known as Lou.
The Oiler’s eyes rolled right round the room,
But he seemed in some kind of a daze,
Till at last Mel’s piano stool fell in the way
Of his chili-breath, shrouded gaze.

Mel had left for a snort; and now the seat sat -
Quite empty, vacant,and bare,
So the stranger lunged, his meal locked in his arms,
And flopped down his skinny butt there.

In a checkerboard shirt that was mixed oil and dirt
He sat silent, just sniffing his meat,
Then he clutched his spoon with both of his hands -
Good grief! How that man liked to eat.

Have you ever felt fright on a bleak oilfield night,
With the moon beamin’ out crystal clear,
With the ice and the cold makin’ you feel so darn old
That the creak in your bones you can hear;

And stalking you there might be a wolf or a bear,
But you still set up camp with some glee,
'Cause though half out of your mind you managed to find,
Some grub to whip up as chili,

And up high overhead, green, yellow, and red,
The Lights of the North roll in bars?--
Then you've got a hunch what it means to have lunch...
With Chili, and beans, ‘neath the stars.

They say fear and hunger are banished with bacon,
And sauces made spicy and rare,
That feeble men grow into giants o’rnight
Who often make meal of the bear.

But a real fireside feast, far flung from the beasts
Within walls and a roof overhead;
And a woman’s love true, like the Chili Queen Lou,
Leaves nothing else left to be said.

Then all of a sudden, the atmosphere changed,
So swift that you scarcely did feel
But we knew that the boy’s bowl had been looted,
Quite clean of his absolute, favorite meal;

That someone had stolen the woman he loved;
And that her love was a devil's lie;
His Chili was gone but his guts still burned,
For the love of his hot-peppered eye.

Great chili seeps deep into the hearts it keeps,
Then it sears you clean, through and through--
"I guess I'll make it a feast misere,"
Said Cantankerous Chili McStew.

The scent of the sauce almost faded away...
Then it wafted back in like a flood;
And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay,"
As the boy's stomach demanded more food.

The horror was chance of an unpaid bill,
And it stung like a frozen lash,
As the stranger walked to the till, the till...
'Cause we all knew he had no cash.

Then - as he turned, his eyes they burned,
In a most peculiar way;
In that checkered shirt, stained with oil and dirt,
I saw him pause and sway.

Then… he wiped his chin and made with a grin,
And he spoke, but his voice was warm,
"Boys," says he, "you don't know me from sin,
And none of you care a darn;

But I want to state, and my words are straight,
And I'll wager my life they're true,
That one of you is a damn chili thief...
And that scum is Cantankerous Chili McStew."

Then I ducked my head as the lights went dead,
And two guns blazed away in the dark;
A woman screamed, then the lights came back,
But two bodies lay stiff and stark.

Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead,
Was Cantankerous Chili McStew,
While the man from the patch stretched his hand for the bowl
Held by the Chili Queen known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case,
and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the oiler was crazed with "Sriracha Hot Sauce,"
And I'm not denying it's so.

I'm not so wise as them lawyer guys,
But strictly, between us two –
The gal who kissed him so good, while stealing his food,
Was the Chili Queen known as Lou.

Article Copyright J. Michael Lyffe - 2014

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