Paul Bunyan was a pal of mine,and so was Babe the great blue ox.I met them first in a logging campway out Minnesota way,and when the cold winds cameand the heavy snows,and logging season came to a close,me and Paul and Babehopped on a sidewheeler riverboatand steamed on downthe great Mississippi --New Orleans bound.And what times we had on thatriverboat, drinking wineand playing faro and whist,and other games of chance!We had a whole season’s wagesto play with, the three of us,and we didn’t care if we lostor won. It was the game thatmattered. The thrill of the game.But then one day Babe seemeddifferent. Kind of quietand distracted like.Couldn’t concentrate on hishand, which proved a realannoyance when you had him aspartner in a game of bridge.He started losing, notjust at bridge, but at whistand poker and rouletteand even craps.I guess it was catching, becauseme and Paul started losing too.And then we lost everything --All three of us, busted out.Paul and Babe and me went to the bar,and Paul ordered three gallonsof steam beer, backed up withthree quarts of corn whiskeyand three pints of mulled cider,and after we lighted up threecigars the size of a baby’s armPaul said, “Babe, talk to me, man.Talk to us. We’re your pals.Something’s bothering you for sure.”Babe ordered jeroboams three of thefinest fine champagne, and afterwe had drunk them down, he said,“Pals, I am smitten. Smitten in lovewith one of them cows down in the hold,one of them self-same cows bound towind up as steaks and roasts for someNew Orleans fancy eating place.Her name is Daisy, and I’m in love,and I don’t know what the fuck to do.I was gonna buy her from the cattlemerchant, but now I’ve lost every red centI had.” “Me too,” said Paul.“So also I,” said I. “Which brings usto the question:how we gonna pay for these drinks?”“The hell with the drinks!” said Babe.“What about my Daisy?”“Don’t you worry none about Daisy,”said Paul. “Yeah, but what aboutthe drinks?” said I.“Don’t you worry about these drinks,neither,” said Paul. “Just leave it to me.”And he turns to the bartender.“Hey, pal, put these on my tab, will ya?I’ll take care of it later tonight.”“Sure thing, Mr. Bunyan,” says the bartender,and Paul turns back to me and Babe and says,“Let’s go.” And he led us downstairs, down tobelow the decks, and on the way we couldn’t helpbut notice that he grabbed a fire ax from offthe wall. “Paul,” I said, “what are you gonna do?”“Yeah,” said Babe, “you’re not gonna get us in trouble,are you?”“Relax,” said Paul, and finally we got to the partof the hold where they kept all the cattle, behinda sort of wooden fence down there.“There she is,” said Babe. “There’s my Daisy.”She was a pretty cow. Spotted black and white.She said moo.First thing Paul did was take that ax to the fenceand chop a big space through it.“Come on out, Daisy,” he said to the cow.“It’s okay.”Daisy came out and she nuzzled snouts with Babe.Then without saying a word Paul went over tothe bulkhead and started chopping.Two or three mighty chops and themighty Mississippi came gushinginto that hold.Paul, Babe and I were among the lucky ones.We managed to swim to shore. Otherswere not so lucky, including thepoor cow, Daisy.Standing sopping wet on the shore,shivering,looking at the still-smoking stacksof the riverboatpoking up forlornly and crookedlyfrom the surfaceof the littered waterin the moonlight,I had to ask, “Paul, just whatwere you thinking?”“I only wanted to set Daisy free,”he said. “And besides, we had no wayto pay our bar bill. I’m sorry, Babe.”“I know you meant well, Paul,” said Babe.“At least you tried.”For another minute we stood there,shivering,sopping wet,looking out atthe dark mighty Mississippi,with those slightly less-smoking stackssticking up crookedly out of thesparkling surface of the waternot so littered nowwith inanimate and formerly animate objectsall drifting downstreamin the moonlight --New Orleans bound.And then we walked offdown the moonlit road,me and Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox,in search of a warm and dry placeto rest for the night,in search of new adventures.illustrated by danny delacroix and eddie el grecoartistic supervisor: rhoda penmarq"a rhoda penmarq production is a swell production!"