Tuesday, October 30, 2012
It's a good story
Pictures or it didn't happen. That's the saying, isn't it? Well, I've got no pictures, so say this didn't happen. Call it fiction, it's easier that way. Better.
I'm not going to tell you exactly where this happened, I promised a buddy I'd be vague.
So here's what happened. Uhm, didn't happen. I'm still getting the hang of this fiction thing.
My pal Andy and I used to ride together a lot, back when we worked at the same place. I was doing code and he was doing art and we both spent way too many hours per week making pixels move a certain way on certain screens and when we couldn't take it anymore we'd throw the bikes on the rack on the back of Andy's jeep and head for someplace green and rocky and far away. When the roads got real small and eventually ran out we'd park the jeep and hit the trails on the bikes.
Andy is fearless, way better at descending than me and the man can find trails like nobody else. One time, we were riding north of Roslyn, up and over the ridge that I'm sure they've built condos on by now. Andy was in the lead, turning onto smaller and smaller game trails, trails an elk would have a hard time sneaking through but somehow Andy would find a gap just a bit wider than his handlebars and slip on through. Eventually we wound up splashing across the Teanaway river and popping out at the campground there. “Where y'all coming from?” a camper asked. “Roslyn,” Andy replied. “I didn't know there was a trail between here and there,” the camper said. “As near as I can tell,” I told the fellow, “there ain't.”
Eventually the company we both worked for got bought. I moved onto another company and then another company after that and finally got around to making a living with wrenches instead of a keyboard. As I tell my old software pals, the nice thing about working on bikes is that these days most of my problems are hardware problems.
Andy's still a pixel-pusher and he wound up moving to Vancouver. When he's not staring at screens he's out on a bike, flying down trails I'm not sure you could rightly call trails.
He calls me up last week, says he is in town for a conference and has a few hours. Would I like to go riding? Of course I say yes.
Andy says he knows a spot, down near Rainier. Even if I wanted to I couldn't tell you exactly where we wind up going. Andy is navigating with his mixture of GPS, a hand-drawn map he'd gotten from a buddy of a buddy and a kind of dead-reckoning that seemed to involve a lot of staring at the sun and sniffing of the air.
So there we are bushwhacking and by that I mean we are getting whacked by bushes as we push and scramble behind our bikes up one hell of a ridge. At last we clear the crest, well “clear” isn't the right word, we're still surrounded by trees but Andy sees a gap that points down and lets out a whoop with all the certainty of Brigham Young seeing the Great Salt Lake and declaring “this is the place.” Andy hops on his bike and goes tearing down what I'll generously call the trail.
Andy is a fast and fearless descender. I am what I like to call cautious, what Andy likes to call a “weenie.” Weenies are the guys who call 911 when their buddies hit a bear.
And that's what I would have done if we were in cell range instead of on the backside of some ridge somewhere in western Washington.
It takes me a minute to process the scene. Andy is crumpled in heap about six feet downhill from his bike and his arm is sticking out at an angle that doesn't look right at all. The front wheel of his bike is what we in the business call a taco, the result of sudden impact with a very big, very brown, very stunned bear.
Holy shit, that bear is not very stunned. It is getting up.
Holy, holy shit, that bear is not a bear.
I never knew anything that big could move that fast. Even if my legs were working, even if my mind was working, I couldn't have out run it. One second it is a heap, the next instant it has grabbed me and is lifting me off my bike.
The eyes are big and very brown. The creature is big and very brown. It's got to be eight feet tall and it hasn't grabbed me with a paw, it's grabbed me with a hand. It's...
The thought is clear in my head, but there is something else, something odder even then being held and studied by an eight foot tall hominid that any school child could recognize. There is another voice in my head and it is not my own.
“You won't believe that I'm a bear?”
“Jesus!” I squeak.
“No,” the voice continues but the creature's lips don't move, “you had it right the first time.”
“You talk?” I ask, surprised at my own composure under the circumstances.
“No,” the creature sighs without sighing, “I think, you understand. You talk, it's a more primitive form of communication.”
“Holy...” I begin.
“No,” the creature interrupts, “This is nothing holy or supernatural. I'm just here and so are you. I prefer to stay clear of your kind. Your lives are so...” here the thought seems to be reaching.
“Messy?” I venture.
“Cluttered,” the creature counters. “You make things so cluttered with houses and gadgets and complexity. I don't understand why you need all that.”
“It makes us comfortable,” I explain.
“Well,” the creature thinks at me, “it makes a lot of the rest of us uncomfortable and perhaps if you'd spend more time thinking and less time talking and making yourselves comfortable you'd see you're not actually making yourselves comfortable at all.
“I never thought of it that way,” I confess.
“I'm not surprised,” the creature sniffs, “your kind is not very good at thinking. But enough of this. Let's help your friend.”
Andy is still out cold but the sasquatch takes his twisted arm in one huge hand and grabs his shoulder with the other. There's a quick tug and a sound like a clutch being popped and now Andy's moaning but his arm is pointed the right way.
“He'll be fine,” the creature thinks at me, “but you two have to roll out of here.”
This last thought is not a suggestion, it's an order.
I undo the quick release on Andy's wheel. It's bent, but no spokes are broken and the tire is holding air. I whack it against the trunk of a tree. No change. The creature sees what I'm trying to do and takes the wheel. Grabbing the wheel in his massive hands, he gives it a twist and a tug. Not bad for a first time mechanic. Not perfect, but it'll roll.
“Your friend is coming to,” the creature thinks, “I'm leaving now. Go home. Don't come back.”
“I won't,” I say.
“Good,” the creature thinks as he fades into the gloom of the woods, “just tell your friend he hit a bear. It's a good story.”