Let me tell you about Charles W. Sasser, who for name-dropping purposes I'll call, Chuck. Chuck is a living breathing Indiana Jones, only with a longer resume. However, I don't think he carries a bullwhip. Like Dr. Jones, Chuck has been a college professor and an archaeologist/anthropologist, but unlike Indy, Chuck isn't the figment of some Hollywood maven's imagination. Chuck is for real.
That's his picture to the right. It's a portrait done in pencil by the artist still known as Dan Case. It's from a photo taken right after Chuck had eaten a bowl of kimchi. You can see by his expression he knew it was a mistake. And the hat…well, the hat was made from the hides of 38 Australian geckos who tried to sell him insurance. Chuck has a low tolerance for cute. The t-shirt, I believe, came from a garage sale in Marrakesh.
The day after he graduated from high school at the tender age of 17, Chuck joined the navy to literally escape those cotton fields back home. He later signed up for the Army Special Forces where he served for thirteen years, and is a combat veteran of several wars. He was a police officer in Miami, Florida and a homicide detective in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He holds degrees in history and anthropology, and has taught at universities and lectured nationwide. I met him because he moves in writers' circles having over 3,000 published articles and more than 50 authored books to his name.
An extraordinary adventurer, Sasser has solo canoed the Yukon River, dived for pirate treasure in the Caribbean, ridden horseback across Alaska and camels in the Egytian desert. He has climbed mountains, sky and SCUBA dived, kick boxed, busted broncs, driven a Smart Car in traffic, and it's said once had a latte with Bigfoot. He holds a record for flying an ultra-light aircraft across the U.S. I think it's for the number of hours without stopping to use the restroom.
I saw Chuck the other day. "Hey, Chuck," I said. "Whacha up to?"
"Getting ready to go to Afghanistan. A general at the Pentagon called and wanted me to do a story on a Ranger unit over there. What about you?"
"Well, I'm headed to Bass Pro," I answered, slapping my stomach and huffing up testosteronily. "They contacted me about some guns and stuff they wanted me to check out."
Chuck nodded. "Yeah, I got the same flyer."
I decided to shift topics. "Say, listen, I've got this blog I'm trying to get people to read. Would you be willing do an interview for it?"
"Gee, I don't know, Phil. The General is sending a Gulfstream and—"
"Just a couple quick questions. I'll walk you to your car." I looked out across the vast WalMart parking lot, shading my eyes. "Where is it?"
"It's that white Lamborghini out there." He pointed to a dot on the horizon.
"A Lamborghini? Dang!"
"A Lamborghini? Dang!"
"Well, it's not mine. The Pope asked me to see if it really would go 500 miles an hour like the salesman told him. I gotta get it back to him this weekend. He's sending Vatican One to pick it up."
He started walking briskly toward the Lamborghini. I trotted along, trying to keep up.
PT: So, Chuck, what do you consider your greatest adventure?
CS: Let's see…I've eaten raw seal liver in the Arctic [no seals were harmed in the writing of this blog post]; been bitten by a piranha on the Amazon; chased by a grizzly in the Yukon; dived with sharks; been wounded as a combat correspondent; parachuted into foreign countries…There're so many, I'll have to let you choose."
PT: Didn't you once do lunch with a Bigfoot?
CS: Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity to dine with Mr. Bigfoot. However, a couple of summers ago, I backpacked the American Northwest and southeastern Oklahoma searching for him.
PT: Do you carry a bullwhip like Indiana Jones?
CS: While I have the greatest respect and admiration for Dr. Jones, I sometimes question his judgment. If I'm going into a gunfight, I'm not carrying a bullwhip.
PT: Do you think you could take Harrison Ford?
CS: Harrison Ford is an actor. In my estimation, after John Wayne, all the actors that follow are over-sensitive quiche eaters.
PT: What about Darth Vader?
CS: You take away that black robe and helmet and Darth Vader is just another tall skinny guy with prosthetic legs needing an inhalator.
PT: Do you own a monkey?
CS: I do not, nor have I ever, owned a monkey. I did date one once, though. Actually, she was an ape.
PT: Do you have any Native American ancestry?
CS: I'm one quarter Creek Indian, one quarter Scotch whiskey, and two-thirds…wait, why do you want to know?
PT: Census people asked me to clear that up.
PT: How much did you get for your 1st published piece?
CS: $25. I was 15 years old and won a statewide contest for high school students writing about Oklahoma. I wrote about picking cotton. At that time, it's what I knew best.
PT: Is it true you've never bought anything on Amazon?
CS: Absolutely true. I don't like machines, don't trust them; and they don't like or trust me. When I buy something, I want to deal with real live human beings.
PT: How's that even possible? There are aborigines in Australia who've bought stuff on Amazon. Hell Heck, you probably know them!
CS: Then I'll get them to buy me stuff.
PT: What's all this I keep hearing about you and Kim Jung Il?
CS: There are a lot of disparaging remarks going around about poor little Kim, who, incidentally, doubles in Hollywood as Martin Sheen. I call him Il; he calls me warmongering, Western Capitalist pig. Otherwise, we have a compatible relationship.
By then we'd reached the Lamborghini. Chuck pressed a button on the keyless entry gizmo, and the trunk popped open. "Dammit Dang it!" he said. "I'm still getting used to this thing." He jerked open the door and slid in. The sleek machine roared to life. I slammed the trunk lid down. Chuck gave me a thumbs-up and zoomed off, narrowly missing a group of nuns getting out of a van, who gestured…well, angrily at him.
I watched Chuck speed out of sight in the Pope's white Lamborghini. "Guess I better head on over to Bass Pro," I muttered.
My name is Phil Truman and I write novels.
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