(notes from the Estate of Dr Quadde, all rights reserved)
Further Inquiries Into The Matter Of The Great White Fur-Bearing Freshwater Shark
By Roccardo “Dick” Quadde, Rfp, SoQ, AmF.
The waiting stack of arcana was irresistible. I began reading at the beginning.
This Shark features prominently in the folklore of the indigenous Maeomo-Lipkat peoples: an enigmatic tribe who were regarded as peculiar by their Paiute and Shoshonean neighbors. Consequently little mixing occurred outside of trade. They were linguistic isolates, and spoke a language utterly unlike any other. They left little more than curious petroglyphs in isolated canyons.
The first verifiable sighting of the Great White Fur-Bearing Freshwater Shark by a European came on August 25, 1787. Antonio Fuego de Culo y Ruidoso was lost in the High Dorkoliths while looking for a mountain pass that was the most direct route between Mojave and Tulare. His royal charter required him to note
"all and divers Fishes, Fowles, Beastes, Birdes & such that would Please and Delighte the Heart and Praise To The Higher Glory Of God His Most Catholic Majesty Carlos III, King of Spain, Sardinia, The Indies, Viceroy of Mexico, Being Likewise Vicar Of Christ, Protector Of the Faith, etc".Mindful of his charge, Fuego de Culo noted in his journal that:
"...our savage porters paused in their passage on the sandy shores of this uppermost lake in this damnable and remote landscape with shoutes of fear and huzzahs of consternation as they witnessed the surface of the waters break in a moste remarkable Manner. For as it was my Misfortune as a Loyal Servant of Jesus Christ to witness ; A Satanic Abomination to Appear before Mine Eyes What Appeared To Be A Grinning Ghastly Tiburon Barbudo seemingly Replete with Glossy Fur That covered the entire Fishe's Body from the Gilles to the Tail. The Monster was easily two Ells in Length, & of Substantial Girthe. One of Our Party, a certain Juan Camarone, began to laugh uncontrollably at the sight of this Monstrous Fishe. The Beaste did turn in the direction of the Offending Voice and Leapt Forthwith Into the Aire, and did snare the hapless Camarone betwixt it's razor-sharp jaws and released him from all Earthly Sin and Bondage. May his soul now Rest In Peace. We made camp by the lake and caught several dozen large trout, and praised God for His Bounty in This Devil-Ridden Landscape."There are no further mention of anything like this in his journal.
The balance of the expedition was devoted to keeping the press-ganged porters in line and alive, their sullen demean just this side of mutiny. After several feats of spectacular corrective navigation, the gaunt and hollow-eyed party stumbled into the Tulare mission on September 16, 1787. Fray Geronimo Moiree and the other padres fed the starving party. They listened politely to what they later described as 'a degenerate fabulism'.
Fr Moiree was faced with a dilemma. After a closed-door consultation, Fuego de Culo was clapped in irons and sent to in the secure custody of four sizable lay brothers to the sinister Inspector General Elijio Marquezas in Monterey. The following letter describes the situation:
To: His Sublime Excellency Elijio Marquezas
Inspector General, Superintendency of the Territories
Bureau of Heresies
El Presidio de Monterrey
Alta California, ViceRoyalty of Mexico, New Spain
Greetings and Salutations!
I am Fray Geronimo Moireé, in the fiftieth year of fullness of life and service to my Master the Lord Jesus Christ; here at the Mission de los Tulares Mojados being in the Great Valle Central de Alta California, of the Vice-Royalty of Mexico. This sordid tale is being dictated to Brother Cedro, on the 20th of September 1781 Anno Domine.
On the seventeenth of this month, after the third bell of the afternoon, our humble mission was visited by a group of stumbling and starving wretches who only bore a slight resemblance to civilized Spanish gentlemen. The leader of this improbable band was one Antonio Fuego de Culo y Ruidoso. He claimed A Royal Charter from Our Most Excellent Sovereign Carlos III. So saying, and swaying somewhat, he produces from his tunic a tattered parchment. And there to my wondering and aged eyes were the official wax seals of the Viceroy Himself, acting as agent for Our Most Excellent Sovereign. And thus commenced a fabulism of the highest order.
He proceeded to relate that on the 15th of July of this year, he had set out from the hot and dusty collection of hovels that is known as Mojave, with the express intention of finding the most direct pass through the mountains to our fair valley. His party consisted of 45 Spaniards, 30 mules, and accompanied by 60 nearly savage porters, but whose souls are now safely commended to the care of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The initial progress was reasonably good, given that they were scaling increasingly higher mountains and encountering snows that were likewise deeper. The mules were weakening and failed to revive under the rain of blows and curses administered with utmost propriety by Fuego de Culo and his party. The snows were not melting as fast as had been expected, and this was causing some anxiety in the expedition. The expedition was also suffering from the unexpected departure from the savages, who lost no opportunity to slip away under cover of night and unhobble as many pack mules as they could.
Thus diminished, Senor Culo de Fuego compelled the 4 remaining bearers to portage the essential baggage which consisted of several Large and Fancy Brass Astrolabes, Fine Amsterdam Telescopes, a 12-Hour Sandglass and other scientific tools. They were not pleased, but were forbearing in the light of Sñr Culo de Fuego's Christian persuasions.
It was on August 15 that they made the sighting that is the point of this communication. For, as it so please Yr Excellency, this mountebank and rascal Fuego de Culo claimed that he saw at the uppermost lake in this wretched hostile Diabolic Mountainous Wilderness he did see with his own eyes Ghastly Apparition, una Tiburon Barbuda, a pale monster of a Fish resembling a Sharke. He went on to claim that the Horror of It was that it was entirely covered in Fur, from its gills to its tail.
Your Excellency, I was hard put to stand still when I heard this Heresy. As is known to all the finest members of the Academy of The Indies and The Americas, this is purely a folly and a jape to amuse his seedy and thievish compatriots as they despoil themselves in the company of others similar to them in wineshops and brothels!
So, after a consultative interval in prayer, whilst Sr de Fuego and his ilk were falling like locusts upon the corn, beans and barley placed before them, I came to a decision. I clapped the knave in irons, dismissed his retainers and I now send him in the care of 4 sturdy lay brothers for your detailed examination.
I am and remain, your most Humble and Obedient Servant, as Our Heavenly Sovereign Breathes His Wishes,
Fray Geronimo Moireé
Fray Geronimo Moireé was to be tried for Idolatry and Incompetence. Little else is yet known about Fuego de Culo's eventual fate and disposition.