The Hitchhiker

 I was driving on a remote stretch of gravel road on Vancouver Island while taking a shortcut from one campground to another. At the time I was providing security and maintenance to the Campgrounds located in the Duncan Forest District. I knew the back roads well. It was late in the day, dusk was setting in and I had 2 more sites to visit. I was dusting along at a pretty good clip, up over a hill. There was a pickup truck parked at the bottom with two guys. They jumped out of their truck and ran to the middle of the road waving their arms.

Shit I thought, that tunnel of dust, I do not want to stop. Oh well. I come to a sliding stop and rolled down the window. The dust is thick and rolls on by. I am told they are out of fuel. Can we hitch a ride. I have room for one, and am going to two sites before I head into town. You will have to figure out how you are getting back here.

One fellow gets in. Pedal to the metal and I am off. Small talk. Soon it drifts into silence, I still have an hour of reckless driving to get me to the next site.

I feel the demeanour in the vehicle change. The hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I maintain my nonchalant calm but am on high alert. Never never give a predator more power by eliciting fear.

Do you ever wonder what could happen if you picked up the wrong guy? I am asked. I laugh and say, do it all the time. I think to myself, kind of like playing cat and mouse.

Want a orange, I ask as I toss him one. I start peeling mine, drop a piece on the floor, as I feel around to pick it up, I casually double check that my machete is still there.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be stranded, in the dark with no vehicle, or to be hunted down like in that movie?

What movie was that?

Can’t remember the name, but you only have your naked body and the guy hunting you has a gun.

Sounds like a terror flick, I don’t do terror.

Keep her cool I remind myself. Give nothing away. I am still a half hour away from my destination. I look over at him and say hang on it gets ruff for a bit after the corner. I accelerate in anticipation of the mud boils (frost heaves). I grin as we hurtle through the air. I especially grin when I see the hitchhiker whack his head on the window. Hang on I say again. We bottom out, dirt flying I crank a hard right and back to the left. Now he is hanging on. One quarter of a mile later, we are through the mud boils. Cool huh I say. Just wait till we get to the mud hole. If you hit it just right and with enough speed you kind of stay on top but you are totally blind for at least 60 seconds from all the water flying up. Reminds me of my mud bog days.

Have you ever mud bogged? I glance over and he is still hanging on. Good I think, I am buying time.

The hitchhiker looks at me and says can you pull over. My instincts are screaming no, both my hands will be busy and if he grabs for the keys, I may not be quick enough.

In a bit, I reply. I press on, All I need is 10 minutes to reach my destination. I can feel the hitchhiker’s anxiety as he realizes his window of opportunity is closing fast.

Ever have someone pull a gun on you he asks. Yeah a few times I say with a little chuckle.

You’re bluffing!

Ever been to Fort Saint James?

No?

You should go sometime! Whole place is a freaking terror flick!

Five minutes away from my destination. The water hole is in site. Hang on!

I floor it and hit the water, shit my speed is off, I bottom out, solid wall of water totally surrounds us. I keep the pedal to the floor. It is hard steering. I feel the wheel jerk. The hitchhiker has grabbed the wheel.

Let go, I hiss. The hitchhiker looks triumphant and whispers, pull over.

I pull on the wheel with my right hand, I reach down besides my seat and grab the machete. Last warning I say with gritted teeth, let go of the steering wheel. The hitchhiker pulls harder. Whap!! the machete digs into the steering wheel millimetres from his hand.

He snatches back his hand. The wall of water disappears, we are through the water hole. I pull the machete from the steering wheel and put it back beside the door.

There is total silence.

The campground is in sight. As I pull in I say, I will be 30 minutes or so. Make sure you are back at the truck if you want to continue to town for your gas. Lock your door when you get out.

We get out of the truck, the doors are locked and I move over to a group of campers. I chit chat while keeping my eye on the hitchhiker. I move from camp group to camp group registering guests the whole while keeping the hitchhiker in site. I watch him wander off back the way we came, and wouldn’t you know it there through the trees is the truck that was supposedly out of gas.

Now I really wish I would have cut his fingers off!!

New Beginning - How it all started for me and BIP