Have You Seen This Man? ARE You This Man?
I’ve been a huge fan of the completely fake, uproariously funny “newspaper” The Onion ever since I discovered it way back in college. If you’re not familiar with The Onion, it’s a brilliantly deadpan fake online newspaper that portrays absurdist stories as straight news. How deadpan? One of today’s headlines reads “Scientists Trace Heat Wave to Massive Star at Center of Solar System.” Yeah, that deadpan.
But every now and then the Onion gets a story right, however inadvertently, and when I saw this headline not too long ago, I instantly thought “sounds like he’s a bird hunter.”
From the story
The so-called “Kansas rectangle,” a desolate and featureless region covering 82,277 square miles in America’s mysterious Great Plains, has been a source of speculation among paranormal investigators for decades. Though the questions surrounding its existence have never been answered, one thing is certain: The life of former Chicagoan Kevin Corcoran suddenly vanished into the eerie region 30 years ago this week, never to return.
According to his friends and family, Corcoran, a bright and energetic young man of 18, was last seen driving into the Rectangle in a Plymouth Duster on the afternoon of May 8, 1978. Surveillance footage shows him stopping at a gas station near the border to buy fuel and snacks at 4:15 p.m. Although his trip was only supposed to last the summer, he was never seen or heard from again.
I know it’s a fake story, and a funny one at that. But since it’s fake, well, I’m going to riff on it. I think “Kevin Corcoran” was an adventurous young wannabe bird hunter, a dreamy suburban kid who set off from the Windy City to find the kind of upland paradise he’d always read about in the pages of Field & Stream, but never experienced. And somewhere, out there in the middle of the “Kansas Rectangle” he found it. He traded in his Duster for a truck, bought a pair of big-running setters, jettisoned all those stifling notions of conventional success and spent the next thirty years (and counting) chasing that one sublime moment of clarity when bird and dog and hunter all come together.
Kevin’s an ascetic, you see, a mystic, the ultimate seeker of cosmic upland truth. You may catch a glimpse of him in a far off CRP field chasing those ghostly setters into the setting sun, but I don’t think anyone will ever hear from Kevin again. The southern Great Plains is an immense and lonely place, and if you so choose it can swallow you up, never to be seen again by civilized people. Isn’t that what’s great about it?
Which brings up the question: How many of you know a Kevin Corcoran? Heck, how many of you ARE a Kevin Corcoran?
Chad Love writes for Quail Forever from Woodward, Oklahoma. He is a lifelong quail hunter and “bird dog guy” who also writes for Field & Stream, including the magazine’s “Man’s Best Friend” gundog blog.