One of the side effects of being a writer is the ability to scare the crap out of myself with the most ridiculous scenarios. I haven’t vacuumed my car at a car wash since the day I was head down in the back seat, trying to suck petrified McDonald’s fries from under the backseat and realized that, with my ass the only thing facing out and the jet engine vacuum motor blocking all sound, it would be the perfect situation for a serial killer to grab his victims. I went through a lot of quarters trying to get those fries while looking over my shoulder every 3.2 seconds.
Toward the end of our recent vacation, my ATV started overheating at random moments. Apparently you can only pack so much mud up around the radiator before you have to clean it out. Who knew?
So anyway, we had ridden across the rail bed to get some dinner at one of the on-trail restaurants. The rail bed is a long, boring and hideously dusty former train track that’s had the rails and ties taken up and I hate it. It was starting to get dark and, rather than dink around waiting for my machine to cool every few minutes, we decided I’d blow across the rail bed and wait for them at the end. (Riding at the kids’ speed makes my Rincon wind out in second, exacerbating the overheating.)
I got to the end and shut my machine off, then turned the key back on so the fan could run. That way, when the family caught up, I’d be ready to go.
But it was dark. Very dark. And the fan motor’s just loud enough I was certain I wouldn’t hear anybody sneaking up on me.
When I’m sitting here at the computer, it feels like I need to stick jumper cables in my ears and zap my brain to get a scene brewing. But alone, in the dark? Instant scene…
I was absolutely convinced that, creeping up behind me, his footsteps muffled by the godawful racket of my fan motor, was the crazy-ass mountain man nobody ever talked about. He’d been waiting a long time for a woman to get separated from the group and now he was going to kidnap me and make me his housebitch. I’d have to cook his roadkill and pick his nits and burn off the outhouse tank when it was full.
(Random thought: my subconscious seems to be more afraid of being forced to do housekeeping than being raped and murdered. I guess that’s a therapy session for a later day.)
When my family finally reached me, I was sitting there with the Rincon in neutral, my thumb hovering over the start button, ready to drag that mountain man down the trail if need be. I was probably close to hyperventilating, but my husband just rolled his eyes and led the kids past me. (I always ride in the back.) After seventeen years together, he’s accustomed to see me slightly hysterical from imagined awfulness.
So later we’re all hanging out and talking, as usual, and I mentioned how creepy it was sitting there in the dark. And the campground owner says something along the lines of not a good place to sit.
I knew it! There was a crazy-ass mountain man out there prowling the woods for an unsuspecting housebitch! And I bet the locals hushed it up so he wouldn’t drive the tourist dollars away.
“Bears like that spot,” he says.
Oh. Apparently I was out in the woods, just after dark, sitting between berry bushes and a corn field and do I think of bears?
Of course not.
I’m worried about delousing the neighborhood boogeyman.