Westcliffe Angels

from the collection of

Arthur Vyn Boennighausen


.During the course of drinking way too much coffee one morning at the Rainbow Inn of Westcliffe; Deputy sheriff Roger McDonald and valley rancher John Rusher heard the sound of a military jet plane pass about five hundred feet over the Inn. As usual the sound wave rattled the cups and the patrons who were trying to quietly wake up.

"That is about the last straw." Roger grumbled. "Now they are doing their practice runs before we have even had a chance to wake up properly. I am tired of going to meetings and submitting petitions to stop those military fighter pilots. Lets take action the way John Wayne did in his movie True Grit."

John noticed that Roger had pulled his legendary single action colt 45 with the Eagle carved on the handle out of it's holster. Roger checked to see if it was still loaded with blanks from the recent Westcliffe quick draw contest. Each year Roger would challenge all men and women in Custer County to an old fashioned quick draw contest. Roger always won; and secretly confided to his friends that he hypnotized his opponents into believing they were standing in a vat of molasses which made drawing their gun a slow process.

In myth and legend the Eagle's role is to fly through the sky looking down at the "pattern" of nature looking for something that did not fit into the pattern. This something could be a sick or injured animal for the real Eagle. For the mythological Eagle the break in the pattern could be a Man or Woman breaking the laws of God or Man. How appropriate a symbol Roger had chosen for his role as deputy sheriff in the new West of Colorado.

Military planes were certainly not part of the pattern of the Westcliffe community so it was no surprise when Roger got up and said "Let go John!" as they headed out the door and got into John's pickup truck. "Take us out to the Westcliffe airport!"

John and Roger were soon seated in Roger's single engine plane and rolling down the runway. Roger was a life long pilot and a member of the Civil Air Patrol that searched for downed planes in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness at times. Totally familiar with the area and the flight paths that the military used for their practice runs they headed for a rendezvous with Destiny in the sky.

It wasn't long before John and Roger sighted a Air National Guard Phantom Jet streaking low over one of the valley roads that the pilots loved to line up on as if they were beginning a strafing run on an enemy convoy. Usually the "enemy" was a old lady slowly driving her car to go shopping.

"Tighten your safety belt!" Roger shouted as he pulled the little plane into a roll right in front of the big jet.

Barely missing the military plane Roger began to harass the pilot by dodging in front of him again and again. Not satisfied with simple aerial acrobatics, Roger eased the window open on his side of the plane and drew his 45 caliber revolver.

"This will throw a scare into that jet jockey!" Roger shouted as he began to fire blanks at the military jet. "Maybe they will think twice from now on before coming into the Custer County airspace."

Roger and John were having a great time twisting and turning their little plane and firing blanks at the pilot until they saw the military jet pull up into a steep climb, roll twice and come up right behind them.

BOOM! Roger and John heard the cannon from the military plane fire once. THUNK! They heard the single bullet hit their engine.

Quiet filled the air as the little engine of Roger's plane stopped suddenly. "Better hold on." Roger calmly said to John as the little plane plummeted straight toward the ground from 10,000 feet. John gripped the handles on either side of his seat as they both stared out the front window at the ground rushing toward them.

10,000 feet became nothing as they struck the ground nose first and were knocked unconscious from the crash.

A tourist had seen the little plane fall from the sky and called 911. Soon the fire department and rescue squad were on the scene where they saw the nose of the little plane sticking in the ground of a field of grass hay with the tail straight up.

The paramedics opened the two doors and carried Roger to the ambulance. John was not so easy to extract. You see he was still holding onto his seat so hard that the paramedics could not get his hands loose. Finally they unbolted the seat from the floor of the plane and carried John to the ambulance still in the passenger seat of the plane.

The doctors at the hospital examined John and Roger. Just a bad concussion for Roger. Same for John plus some possible injuries to his hands from holding on to that seat too hard. They still hadn't gotten John's hands loose from the seat and had resorted to cutting his clothes off and putting him in a room of the hospital still in the passenger seat of the plane with a white sheet over him to keep him warm and protect his modesty.

Hours later John and Roger woke up at the same time and looked at each other with bleary eyes.

"We are dead and have become Angels!" John shouted to Roger, unable to believe they Survived the crash and seeing that they were dressed in white. Roger eventually believed John was right and they both shared a secret smile of Knowing as they answered the questions from the nurses and doctors who asked if they were all right.

"Sure we are all right!" John and Roger told the doctors. "In fact, we are better than all right! We are perfect!"

The doctors did not know why John and Roger were so excited and just wrote it off to post trauma mania and released them.

John and Roger rushed out of the hospital and bought themselves some nice white cowboy shirts to fit more into their new roles as Westcliffe Angels. You can still see them share a secret smile and Knowing nod with each other as they pass one another on the streets of Westcliffe.

Some people claim that they see John walking around on the ice of Lake DeWeese in Winter. Most think John is scouting for good ice fishing spots. But those in the know Understand that John is practicing walking on water.