Lone Dog Barking
Raf Leon Dahlquist
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Have you ever felt like a “lone dog barking,” unheeded in your persistent concern, despised for making such yapping noises about it, perhaps felt foolish for fussing for “no damn reason?” Based on a true story, real people and actual events, Lone Dog Barking confirms such feelings for us, and with shocking vindication too. Lone Dog Barking is set in tiny, isolated Tonopah, Nevada near the U.S. nuclear weapons test site during the Korean Conflict and the buildup of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The protagonist, a misnamed, displaced Cherokee tribe-of-one, and murderer put on trial, sparks his part in the quenching of nuclear smoke signals from superpowers around the globe. This unique facet of American history has not been told until now. What was it like growing up under the hundreds of mushroom clouds at the dawning of the nuclear age? A pack of five young boys bear witness to these events. In one decade alone leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis with Russia, 339 nuclear weapons detonate above ground at the Nevada test site. That’s one every 10.7 days, on average! These are given the banal term “events” as if they are mere tic marks on a calendar, but in reality they are the thundering heartbeat of a nuclear superpower as Mutually Assured Destruction looms ever larger and closer to reality. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) swears that in their vision of the future we’ll never again need electrical power meters. General Curtis LeMay has a powerful vision of having his own personal Air Force, SAC, the Strategic Air Command, with which to “Nuke all them Russkies.” This unique era finds Senator Kefauver banning and burning kids’ comic books and Senator Joe McCarthy looking for communists under everyone’s bed, while Joe Conforte, Il Senatore, of the fabled Mustang Ranch, scrambles to stuff as many whores as possible into beds near the nuclear weapons test site. These were, indeed, strange days. Culture too explodes all around our real life characters: America falls in love with the Corvette; Les Paul and Mary Ford sing Chanson d’Amor into the Top 40; and Brigitte Bardot fills out that "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini.” Playboy Magazine takes birth to show us nearly naked girls, never mind the literary pretension. Thankfully, Mad Magazine pops up like a jack-in-the-box to poke fun at everyone’s grim and dreary seriousness. That swivel-hipped white boy, Elvis, steals rock & roll, but Fats Domino, Little Richard and The Coasters wail onward, unstoppable.