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Calendar >  Live Lightly – Thomas Calabrese

Live Lightly – Thomas Calabrese

By   /  March 3, 2024  /  9 Comments


Heavy Handed Approach

Thomas Calabrese – Luke Tate was only seventeen years of age and eager for adventure when he met wilderness guide Kit Carson in 1843 in St. Louis, Missouri. Carson asked the young man if he wanted to join Lt. John C. Fremont’s expedition to map the Oregon Trail from South Pass, Wyoming to the Columbia River. Luke responded with a quick, “Hell ya!”

The expedition went to the Great Salt Lake in Utah then continued westward. They experienced bad weather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kit Carson used his considerable skills as a guide to lead the beleaguered expedition to an encampment where they found some American settlers who had built shelters and stored enough food to share with Luke, Kit and the others. When the weather cleared, the men headed through Northern California to Oregon. After finding where the Columbia River emptied into the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon, Fremont asked his fellow travelers if they wanted to go back the same way they came or look for a southern route. Fremont reminded his men, “Going through California is going to be dangerous because it is Mexican territory.”

            “It is a little late to start worrying about danger, I vote for the southern route,” Luke said, “I’d rather see something I ain’t seen yet.”

            “I agree,” Kit Carson said.

The expedition journeyed southward as they trekked into the Mojave Desert where they came across a wounded Native American man and his son who told Fremont that a band of outlaws had ambushed them. They killed five men, kidnapped his wife and daughter and took his twenty horses. Fremont told the men in his expedition, “My first priority is to get the information back to Washington, but I can’t stop anyone who wants to go after the outlaws.”

Luke Tate, Kit Carson and mountain man Alex Godfrey went after the murdering horse thieves. After two days the trio found them and rushed into their campsite and killed them all. They rescued the two women and the stolen horses were recovered. A connection developed between the young Indian maiden and Luke Tate on their way back to where the Native American man and boy were waiting.

Kit turned to Alex and commented, “I believe Luke has been hit by the thunderbolt.”

            “I reckon you’re right.” Alex concurred.

When they reached the location where the Native American man was waiting, he was overcome by joy and appreciation when he saw his wife and daughter again. Luke walked over to where Kit and Alex were standing, “The old man is too weak and I don’t think the boy can take care of the horses all by himself.”

Kit had a feeling that Luke was leading up to something so he made it easy on him, “You might want to go with them to make sure they get back safely.”

            “Will you be alright if I don’t go with you?”

            “We’ll try to survive,” Alex smiled, “But it won’t be easy.”

            “May the wind always be at your back, may the sun keep you warm on the coldest day and the gentle rain quench your parched throat.  Good luck Luke.” Kit said.

Kit Carson and Alex headed east with the hopes of catching up to Lt. Fremont and the rest of the expedition while Luke went northwest with the Native American family to the San Luis Rey Valley where the San Luiseno tribe lived.

The men and women of the tribe lived lightly and respectfully on the land, moving from seashore to mountains as the seasons and food sources changed. They never took more than they needed and used all they took, fish bones as needles, animal skins for winter blankets, bird bones for whistles. Most of the tribal members lived in small family units with thatched huts for homes, but because of the mild weather most of their lives were spent outdoors. Women gathered on large, flat rock areas to grind grains and nuts and to prepare and preserve food and the men hunted small and large animals, from rabbits to bears and deer. The tribe fished the rivers and dined on the many gifts from the sea – clams, abalone and mussels. They collected and grew wild wheat, greens, cactus and berry crops and a dietary staple, the acorn, was transformed into flour and prepared in a variety of ways. The crystal clear waters of the San Luis Rey River flowed through the marshes and the reeds were used to make baskets and red clay pottery. Plants and trees offered materials for bows and arrows, sandals and nets. The tribe cleared overgrown meadows using controlled fires to increase the wildlife habitat and forest health and they stored water behind dams and carved canals to irrigate crops. The Luiseno tribe developed their own government and had religious leaders, doctors, teachers and tribal members studied the weather, stars and land. They forged trails to other villages through the mountains and deserts to meet and trade with other tribes and these were eventually used as the first overland Pony Express and stage coach routes.

After arriving in the San Luis Rey Valley, Luke was welcomed and thanked for helping the family in need. He was invited to stay and he quickly adapted to the traditions of indigenous people. Luke loved the area, and  his feelings for the young woman called Eyota, the Native American name meaning ‘great’ were growing stronger with each passing day.

The tribe was very innovative, but they still retained deep seated superstitions that been handed down from generation to generation. Luke did his best to comprehend some of them, but it was difficult because he wasn’t raised in that culture. Mount Lobo was a small mountain that the Luiseno people believed was possessed by evil spirits so they stayed far away.  Luke’s curiosity eventually got the best of him so one day he got on his horse and rode over for a closer look.

The base of the mountain was lush and fertile and there was a faint sound that was a cross between a hum and a whistle that permeated the area. While walking, Luke noticed an opening behind a boulder and entered the cave. The whistling was even louder inside the mountain and appeared to be coming from the wind blowing through a small opening in the rocks. This was probably one of the reasons that the Luiseno tribe thought the area was haunted. Moving deeper into the mountain, Luke saw steam rising and observed a deep water pond and reached down and stuck the tip of right index finger into the water. It was very warm to the touch.

 Luke kept walking and when he came to the end of the cave, it exited into a lagoon surrounded by trees and plants. The fruit trees were abundant with oranges, lemons, grapefruit and avocados.

When Luke got back to the tribe’s location, he told Eyota about what he found at the mountain and asked her to come see for herself lf, but she was apprehensive and hesitant. Luke respected her decision and did not push the issue, but reminded Eyota, “I’ll be there to protect you…don’t worry.”

Eyota’s refusal did not deter Luke from riding over to the mountain to sit in the hot springs and eat the fruits and vegetables. After a couple weeks of doing this he noticed a significant difference in his health and well-being. Luke felt energetic, alert and strong. The scars on his body were barely noticeable his leathery skin was youthful and elastic.

Eyota noticed Luke’s drastic transformation and asked, “Is this change in you from going to the mountain?”

            “I’m pretty sure it is,” Luke exclaimed.

            “Will you take me there?” Eyota said.

            “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that,” Luke said.

 Six months later, Luke and Eyota were convinced they wanted to make the mountain their home. They approached Chief Red Wing Crow about the land and he did his best to discourage them because of legend surrounding the area, but Eyota was persistent and he relented.  

The couple married and had three children, two boys and a girl. Each one was raised on the nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, drank the water and sat in the mineral hot springs during their youth and grew up to be strong of mind, body and character. Luke and Eyota emphasized the philosophy of the Luiseno tribe, to live lightly and respect the land. They canned fruits and vegetables so as to not let them decay on the trees and vines. They drank and bathed in the mineral waters and their cows, goats and chicken were healthy and productive. There was an abundance of milk, cheese and eggs and what the family couldn’t use, was given away to the less fortunate. Sustainability and secrecy became part of the Tate legacy. Luke became a marshal in the area and eventually took an assignment as the local Indian agent.

Four generations passed and the Tate family grew stronger and more prosperous with each passing decade. They became doctors, research scientists, businessmen and athletes and all of them reached the highest level of their professions. The mountain was part of a semi-dormant volcano that had minor underground eruptions every few years. It would shake the San Luis Rey Valley for several seconds and replenish the soil around the Mount Lobo with minerals and nutrients.  It was also nature’s way of reminding the Tate family that what had been given could also be taken away.

Striker Tate was the stunning result of what is possible when hereditary and environmental influences combine at the highest level. He stood six foot six inches tall, weighed 255 pounds and had a body fat percentage of four percent. He was fast, strong and had an IQ of 230 with a photogenic memory. Blessed with these many gifts, Striker was also diligent and hardworking. Like his father told him, “It’s not what you have, it’s how you use it. The graveyards are full of unhappy people who had a lot going for them.”

Striker could have been a professional athlete, he was that good, but to do so would require him to lose his anonymity and that was unacceptable to him. Since the Tate property was on reservation land it qualified under the General Allotment Act of 1887. This act divided American Indian treaty lands into individually owned parcel. Upon the death of the original landowners, ownership continued to be distributed among their heirs. A very important factor was that any property on Native American lands is exempt from city, county, state, federal and property taxes. Striker found it financially advantageous to live on the reservation on the other side of the mountain from where he grew up. He became a multi-billionaire at the age of 23 by investing in the stock market and Initial Public Offerings (IPO) and his astute business skills made him a big time player on Wall Street and world economic markets.

The state of California currently had a 98 billion dollars deficit and was desperate to get additional money from anybody or any company to avoid changing their reckless spending habits. Hundreds of thousands of people had already left the Golden State to avoid the high taxes and companies were relocating to states at record rates that were more business friendly.

Sacramento quickly passed an unconditional law requiring Native Americans who earned over a certain amount of money to pay state income taxes. This would have set a dangerous precedence   so Striker sued the state of California then successfully defended his position in court. It was never about the money with Striker, he could always make more, it was about a political elite class that had ignore their oath of public service. These people had parked themselves at the public trough and had become powerful and rich at the expense of the American people.

 Besides, Striker knew better on how to spend his money than a bunch of corrupt politicians He was a big supporter of law enforcement and American veterans and so he contributed generously to organizations that were aligned with his common sense values. He also worked with the tribal council to develop and fund projects and programs for the reservation residents.

Striker was intelligent enough to know that he couldn’t solve every problem, but in a constitutional republic where layers of inefficient bureaucracy were the sworn enemy of efficiency and accountability, he had to choose his battles carefully. Corrupt judges and prosecutors were abusing their power without consequences and state and federal government law enforcement agencies knew that they could file frivolous lawsuits against innocent people for the sole purpose of driving them into bankruptcy or getting them to plead guilty to lesser charges. The situation was spiraling out of control and the country going down a dark path. Sometimes the best way to get some light on the subject is to burn a few things down. Striker used his formidable skills and abilities to accomplish many of his goals including bringing a sense of patriotism and hope back to a demoralized country, but now it came time to bring it to the next level

He did not require the expertise of individuals to advise or teach him about technical issues, his superb intellect allowed him to do that on his own. What he did need to complete his far reaching strategy was to create an inner circle of men and women who were willing to make any sacrifice to do the right thing. Striker recruited from the ranks of the Marines, Navy SEALS. Delta Force and Air Force Pararescue and put together an elite team of warriors who possessed empathy, dedication and courage. He told them in simple terms, “If there’s a problem in the world that you think we can solve or help with then don’t hesitate to bring it up for discussion and we’ll see what we can do.”

Season combat veteran and former Delta Force operative, Eddie O’Neill questioned, “Anything?”

            “Nothing is off the table…foreign or domestic,” Striker replied.

            “I like the sound of that,” Jack Olson, former Navy Seal added.

To keep his team healthy and operating at peak proficiency, Striker did a blood test on each member of the team and developed specific supplements for each man from the food and soil on the Tate property, “You need to take two pills in the morning and two in the evening.”

            “What are they?” Air Force Pararescue veteran, Steve Garchon asked.

Striker replied, “An organic supplement to improve physical performance and enhance mental acuity. Let me know how you feel and I’ll do another blood test in a month to see if I need to make any adjustments to your dosage.” Everybody began to notice significant improvements in their overall health in a short period of time.

Striker and the men met once a week to get their assignments and discuss further missions. While supporting members of his team when they were operating in the field, he also used his computer skills to hack into corrupt politicians e-mails and cellphones to obtain valuable and incriminating Intel.  When a corrupt prosecutor used taxpayer money to go after a political opponent, Striker emptied her bank account and gave thousands of dollars to several animal rescue organizations.

Vladimir Putin had been waging war in Ukraine for over two years and it was time to bring the conflict to an end. Striker hacked into the Kremlin’s computer network and locked the system down .He demanded a meeting with the Russian dictator as ransom. The two men met in Geneva, Switzerland surrounded by armed guards.  An irate Putin demanded, “What do you want?”

            “The withdrawal from Ukraine…you made your point,” Striker said in perfect Russian

Putin refused, “Never!”

            “I will cyberattack your country’s entire infrastructure if you refuse, but I’d prefer not to punish innocent Russians who have suffered enough under your regime.”

            “I can kill you right now,” Putin threatened.

            “The point is, do you want to try,” Striker said.

Striker touched his ear and Putin screamed out in his pain, “I just a sent an electrical signal to your brain and it is imbedded forever.  I can access it whenever I want to inflict pain suffering or death. If you kill me then you die too.”

            “You tricked me!” Putin protested.

            “You would have done the same thing to me if you had the capability. You poison people regularly,” Striker smiled, “Do the withdrawal and I’ll help you get your economy moving again. That the best deal you’re going to get”

It was a total surprise to the entire world when Russian withdrew its forces from Ukraine…well, not exactly everybody. Striker Tate preferred to live lightly and respect the land, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take a more heavy handed approach when the situation warranted.

The End


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  1. Tom says:

    Another Calabrese masterpiece. As with most of your stories, they nibble at the realm of reality just enough to wish they were true!
    How delightful it would be if Putin would leave Ukraine….or better yet if he would join his ancestors! Of course, you paint a horrific picture of what California has become: a greedy, welfare state. Such a shame as I have fond memories of living there. Striker…now that is a great name in movie lore. And of course, speak softly and carry a big stick seems to ring familiar to live lightly!

  2. john michels says:

    Fantastic story sometimes I wonder how you come up with some of these stories.

  3. Robert says:

    Good story. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was to come about.

  4. bob wolf says:

    looks like striker found the fountain of youth. great location for a health resort. and casino
    excellent story

    i agree with Tom. and am amazed how every Sunday you put out an entraining story.

  5. Tony says:

    Excellent story Mr. Calabrese in this Sunday Vista Press. At least this story does not elevate my blood pressure off the charts. It is a great story of our pioneers that moved West and settled here in the once beautiful Southern California. As beautiful as it was, it had to be rough for everyone, but they adapted and learned to live with the environment and elements. Innovative people that made what they needed and very few luxuries. I have know for years I am spoiled when I turn on the lights and have other conveniences. I did not always have them, but this is America and we strive for a better life as the early pioneers did in Mr. Calabrese’s story.
    Good people doing better for mankind even reaching the “Evil Dictator Putin” and putting him in his place. You did sneak that one in there Mr. Calabrese to make a nice finish to your story and I bet no one saw it coming, I know I didn’t. Stay safe & enjoy.

  6. Bart says:

    Wishful thinking but good dream.

  7. Clyde says:

    I enjoyed the story very much, thanks for the history lesson.

  8. marty says:

    Great reading Tom. You captured the Sierra snow storm and the unfortunate Russia/ Ukraine conflict. From Kit Carson to today’s news.

  9. Tamra Jordan-Brown says:

    Wow Tom! You keep “knocking it out of the park”, with each short story! I absolutely loved it! Thank you my friend and God bless you!

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