Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bush Menace

Keep one eye on your nuts.

Something tugged at my shorts.

I looked down.

It was a marmot.

He had a gun.

And a glint in his eye. A mean one.

Then he spoke.

"I'm workin' wit' Offshore Flo," he said. "An dis here place is ours, see? You wanta plant youse butt here, you gotta pay."

I looked at him. Other than his gun, he looked like a marmot.

Then I took another look at the gun. It was aimed at my crotch, so I knew he meant business.

This was not a marmot to mess with.

"So, I was just passing through. I only stopped for a sip of water," I said, looking into his one good eye. It was beady. And bloodshot. The way marmot eyes are.

"I was just about to leave."

The eye didn't blink, the way marmot eyes don't.

"An' what's dat dere ting den, youse umbrella?" He tilted his head toward my tent. His fur ruffled in a menacing way, giving off a thin puff of dust. "Ha?"

"Ahhh, my tent," I said. He was no dummy.

And there was that gun pointed at my future.

"My tent... It's new... I thought I'd put it up while I cooled off in the shade here... To see if it worked OK..."

I lied.

He coult tell.

"Ha! You take me for some nitwit woodrat or sumpin', buddy? I been around longern dat. I got fleas smarter dan dat. Youse gonna camp here, right? Witout no permission or nuttin'? Dis here's my territory, an' I say who camps and who don't, see?"

He had me. By the short hairs. Of his trigger finger.

"Now I ain't a real hard guy, but I don't take no screwin' around. You know what I mean?"

No, I didn't, so I nodded. I hoped to look dim. And reasonable. And cuddly.

The muzzle of his gun remained on target.

"OK den," he grunted. "Let me make you a offer den. I'm kinda peckish at da moment and den I feels like takin' a nap. I don't want no fuss right now. I got work to do later. Tell you what."

"What?," I offered.

"Shut up," he suggested.

"You lemme go tru youse food dere an' pick out a coupla tings, an' we call it a deal, 'K?"

I looked into his eye and nodded, hoping it was the good eye. So he could see me being agreeable.

"You wanna camp tonight, OK. I can check back in da mornin' and have a bite a breakfast whitchu, or you can move on now, whatever. You don't cause no trouble, I don't stick dis gun up your butt. So. What's it gonna be?"

"Sure," I said, trying to sound like his pal. He knew better.

I could tell. His ears were good. And he had two of them.

"Help yourself, sure. Take what you want. I have plenty," I said. "And since I don't want to give you any trouble, maybe I'll just move along. Will that work? Take my peanuts."

He farted.


And smiled.

The way only a one-eyed marmot with a gun can smile. When he has plans for your nuts.

Then he looked at my pack and back at me. "Lay it out an' I'll have a look-see," he said.

Marmots are not that big.

They have four legs.

And use all of them just to stand up.

But this guy.

Somehow he rummaged through my gear, and rounded up what he wanted, and carried it off.

While keeping his gun trained on my soft spot. This was one capable shrub bear.

"Tanks. Youse a stand-up guy. Come back again real soon," he chuckled, munching as he waddled off.

"An' if you wants some real good campin' jus' go over dat ridge dere. Nobodys will bodder you dere. Have a nice day, my fren. Hahahaha."

Then he was gone.

I felt weak.

I may have wet myself.

I collected my things, what little food was left, and resumed hiking.

I went up the trail. Might as well see what was over the ridge, I thought. Was headed there anyway. Anywhere but here.

After trudging for I don't know how long I came to the crest of the ridge. It looked good.

No marmots. No guns. All quiet.

I began descending, beginning to relax.

Then I saw the goat. In front of me. His horns were pointed at my crotch.

He grinned.

"Marmot said you'd be along soon," he said.

"Let's talk."


Ranger kills persistent mountain goat in Olympic National Park