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He, the minister of environment, me, a lowly urban beta cuck; what astronomical sleight of hand caused our stars to cross I will never know.


I was in the foothills one weekend taking some pics for my ‘gram. I was in the midst of tense contemplation over which filter would make the coming Kananaskis sunset look the most authentic when a girthy silhouette penetrated the warm pink skyline. Atop a horse, a great big ground beef torso with hamburger shoulders, a brisket visage and cold cut complexion.  I was agog at the approaching machination of meat and sinew, man and horse. Until that sticky autumn’s eve, I thought God was nothing more than a phantom of the bourgeoise conjured to cowtow the proletariat, yet here I was, bearing witness to an angel.


Tremors shot through my body like jolts of coal-powered electricity. It could have been the galloping hooves, it could have been my heartbeat, all I knew was that for the first time in a long time, I was alive. Man and beast slowed to a trot. He effortlessly dismounted, landing on the ground light as a pine beetle. We locked eyes and peanut butter smooth he drew a pistol from his breast pocket and emptied a full clip into the horse. Staccato shots mixed with horse’s screams, the stink of gunpowder, and the whole time he didn’t break eye contact. He bared his teeth: soft yellow nubs of gristle. Horse blood spattering his face like red rain.


The equine screaming subdued to a tinny whistle, then finally a forsaken wheeze. The horse slumped to the ground, mangled with inconsistent new crimson holes. I took a look at the murdered horse and realized who this towering paragon of masculinity was.


“Say, aren’t you Jason Nixon the alleged horse poacher of 2009?”


“The Jason Nixon who fired an employee after she made sexual harassment complaints?”

“Shucks. The very same.”

“Alberta’s Minister of Environment, representative of Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre”

Jason Nixon was mopping horse blood from his sirloin brow with a monogramed kerchief which he then scrunched up and shoved into his mouth, chewing wetly, “you’re making this old cowboy blush.”


He was nothing like anyone I’d ever met in my hometown of Edmonton, a posh city of pampered public servants and greedy leftists. Jason was rugged, yet classy, he had the confidence of a man above the law. His beady eyes glinted at the recognition of my apprehension.


“A hergh hergh” he laughed. “I’m guessing you heard that we’re “delisting” and “privatizing” “parks”, charging “user fees”, and even opening up the foothills for “open-pit coal mining” in the so called “news””


With each emphasized air quote his index and middle fingers were crooked bratwursts, hypnotic and convincing.


I must admit, it was true. Everything I’d heard about Jason Nixon, the towering amalgamation of mismatched meat cuts who’d just unloaded his Glock 19 into the broadside of a palomino, implied he was some kind of freaky inhuman monster. It has hard to reconcile everything I thought I knew about Jason Nixon with the soft presence that stood before and above me. I was shaken. I caught a fleeting sense I had been living in a snowglobe all my life, my very own glass cage of emotion.


The sun was dipping further below the mountains, like a cheeky wingman’s grin from the door as you leave the bar with your crush. Jason Nixon extended his hand, I clenched his big finger and he whispered “before the light fades, let me show you, my parks will go on”


Inexplicably, we both rose from the ground. I pointed my toes like a ballerina, as if so long as just one part of my body touched the ground I needn’t surrender to sweet fantasy. My toes inevitably departed the hard earth and we were aloft, but I was not afraid. The tight smile of Jason’s weirdly small mouth told me everything would be okay. I sidled in front of him and stretched my arms out. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline, or Jason’s steady hold, but the whipping prairie wind was warm, nourishing. The glorious foothills stretched out before us under the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, jagged and austere.


He nestled his chin to the crook of my shoulder, “these foothills, these parks, they sure are beautiful, aren’t they?”

“They sure are”

“And what you must understand, from the lowliest campsite to the mightiest mountain, these are all part of the circle of life.”

I looked at Jason Nixon, his short hair was still somehow weaving in the wind like shaved beef as we soared across the twilight skyline.

“I’m not sure I understand”


From above, the Rockies were crumpled grey paper, ragged peaks and valleys.


“Take these mountains for example. That mountain over there is filled with coal” Jason directed my gaze with a beefy jab, “and who needs coal to survive?”

“Australian mining conglomerates?”

“Exactly. And when the Australian mining conglomerates blow up the mountains with dynamite, who do you think will be taking on the dangerous job with increasingly lax workplace protections of mining the coal beneath?”

“Out of work ranchers, whose land has turned sallow and rancid from poisoned watersheds?”

“Exactly. So long as the mining thrives, so too will Albertans eke out an uncertain and vassal-like existence” Jason was so tall and handsome.

“Wow, it’s all such a delicate balance.”

“Now, imagine we charged you ten, or even 12 percent extra to eat your vegan quinoa bowls and essential oil almond milkshakes”

”I don’t think I’d be very happy about that, Jason”

“Then would it be fair if we did the same to these poor Australian mining conglomerates who need the coal to survive?”

“No. No it wouldn’t!”

“And that’s why we severely normal Albertans have to pitch in and pay user fees for our provincial parks. Other parks won’t even be parks anymore, just tracts of crown land to be bought and sold. But through this noble sacrifice, foreign mining concerns only have to pay eight percent in taxes while they blast the shit out of the Rocky Mountains,” Jason chuckled, saliva and horse blood running down his chin. I chuckled too.


Sun set and starry eyed, I could almost see the raggedy mountains below replaced with pristine open pits cradled in industry, staring back at the night’s sky with matching pitch dark.


Jason turned to me, “let me show you one more thing”


We did a flip (my stomach doubly so) and pointed away from the mountains. In silvery slashes of moonlight I could make out the horse carcass from which we departed. Hunched over it was a soggy pale humanoid with a distended belly feasting on its heart. It bore us no regard as we sailed overhead.


We came to a large house surrounded by finely manicured woods. A mansion even, in the prairie gothic style, grey with black accents. Jason’s soft hand tilted us towards a fourth-floor window at the glans of a conical spire. Our airborne descent slowed to a walking pace and Jason guided me behind him as he blasted through the window Good Burger style. It exploded into a million shards around his bovine frame and settled on the ground like fallen snow. The room was warmly lit, matched by a crackling fireplace. In front of the fireplace was a low bed draped with an expertly cut head-still-on horse-hide rug. Legs were splayed out starfish-like in a sprinter’s exhausted surrender. The head was frozen mid-scream. Jason laid ‘pon it.


“I too am a part of this delicate dance, this circle of life, this perpetual Cadillac Ranch at the infinite crony wedding. You see, just like the tapeworm feeds on the shit of its host, I am sustained by shady promises of kickbacks and favours. So long as there is more Alberta to be auctioned off piece by piece at the trough of late capitalism, our parks will go on. And it’s a big province. Now, please, draw me like one of your French girls. I will give you 1.6 billion dollars for it”


I drew him. Then we fucked in an old truck that I should have mentioned was also in the room. It was running the whole time with a “Support the Patch: Let’r Idle!” sticker on it.


Anyhow, initially I did get the money, but the auditor general recently found out the money was missing so I had to give it back. This is your chance to own a billion-dollar painting. Oil pastel on board, 12x18. Buy it now so that, in seventy years, when Alberta is one big tailings pond and I’m driving over it in a boat with a bunch of scientists, I don’t just lob it into the silty, toxic tailings in a fit of delirious heartbreak. It even comes with a glass frame to protect the worthless Alberta oil beneath.

Nov 6, 2020

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