true life incident
At some point in time things that happen evolve into incidents. I’m not sure that Darwin would appreciate appropriating the term evolve for a story such as this impending tale but there it is. He never struck me as someone who would appreciate my stories anyway so it’s all water evolving into a bridge.
Conversations typically start off such nonsense and it’s the same with this incident. A neighbor telling me about a squatter taking up residence in the woods between the industrial park and the train station. Apparently he’d set up not one but two tents and had turned this little bit of forest into his own.
My neighbor, having stumbled upon him during a reflective walk through the woods, notified the police of this unlawful behavior but the officer later reported that when he went into the designated stretch of forest, only hours later, and it was completely devoid of this scofflaw.
My neighbor found this completely unbelievable and began to doubt the story of the individual sworn to protect and serve and keep unwanted campers out of our bit of forest between the industrial park and the train station. Someone, he suggested, needed to plunge back into murky depths of the woods and see if this guy had truly departed.
It was a job that had Manion written all over it.
When I used terms like forest and woods to describe the environment I was headed into I might be under-selling it a bit. As soon as I left the safety of the railroads tracks and plunged into it all sense of direction immediately evaporated. I was suddenly confronted with the type of jungle you only read about in travel magazines. The droning of large carnivorous insects was punctuated with the cry of the occasional howler monkey or enormous colorful bird whose beak could easily pluck a man’s eye out at twenty paces. What little light that was able to squeeze itself through the canopy above my head was hazy and golden. The shadows that seemed intent on gobbling up everything else lurked in every nook and cranny of the place.
The smell of cabbage was overpowering.
Eventually after trudging through the thick underbrush for what seemed like hours I came upon the camp in question. Which is an easy way of saying that the squatter was still present. I reached for my phone in order to take some pictures that I could show to the officer that hadn’t bothered to do his duty and lied so brazenly to my neighbor. Then all that would be left to do was make my escape.
That’s when I hear the tell-tale crunch of someone approaching. As a veteran of scary movies, an uncomfortable number of which take place in surroundings very similar to the ones I was presently occupying, I knew the difference between the happy little crunch of an approaching deer and the foreboding crunch of a man who would do anything to keep his little secret and was presently carrying an axe.
While other men would have turned and fled I bravely ducked behind a tree and hid. The crunching continued until I felt the next crunch would have the maniac standing face to face with me.
Then I hear another crunch. This one behind me and every bit as foreboding. In fact I couldn’t be sure but I’d swear it was actually a bit more foreboding. It sounded as if it were coming from a man carrying two axes. A second just in case the first failed to do the job of separating my head from my spine.
I made a run for it, hurling myself through thick vegetation until I suddenly ran into the second cruncher.
At this point I’d like to point out that many literary experts and critics advise against using the word ‘suddenly’. They actually go so far as to say some downright disparaging things about a writer who feels compelled to use the word in their stories. As someone who will suddenly use the word in every other sentence you can imagine how I feel about it. The truth is that I suddenly ran into the second guy. It was both rapidly and unexpectedly and unless these critics want me to have to use two words instead of one I’d prefer they keep their cakeholes shut while I’m in the grips of relating a tale of high adventure.
This second cruncher made believe that he didn’t know I was there but there was something about his posture that made me very aware of his dark intentions. Trying to compose myself I whipped out cell phone to get a picture of this brute. Only later when I had time to review the evidence I’d obtained did I realize how badly my hands must have been shaking because it made the pictures you sometimes see thrust upon you as undeniable evidence of bigfoot look like the hairy beast had sat down to have his portrait painted in comparison.
My picture was blurry but, I have to admit, it did make the whole scene look much more menacing in retrospect (The picture that accompanies the story is the real deal).
After that I ran. For miles I ran, certain that the slightest stumble would have the two crunchers and their three axes making short work of me.
This incident came back to me yesterday afternoon as I stepped off the train back from Philadelphia. Before I had departed I had the misfortune of being hungry and had decided to roll the gastronomic dice and purchased a roast beef sandwich from a somewhat-shady local vendor and his somewhat-refrigerated sandwiches at the station.
This roast beef sandwich had not agreed with me during the entire train ride. If I were to pull the handle of an all-knowing Fisher-Price See ‘n Say and ask what animal the roast beef had originated from it seemed at least as likely to have responded that “the dog goes woof” as it would “the cow goes moo.” Either way, “the Manion goes uuughh.”
When I stepped off the train I immediately (not suddenly … not suddenly at all) looked for and found a bench to sit down on.
I was looking through the bare trees at the industrial park. As my stomach rumbled (“the stomach goes gggrrrrrr”) I realized that the entire incident I just described took place in what had to be under an acre of woods.
If I weren’t in such distress I might have reflected on and marveled at how people’s perception of a situation can be so far from what it really is minus some foliage.
I did reflect a little on the topic upon arriving home and dashing to the toilet but as you might have guessed “the anus goes sssccchhhhpppllllaaaatttt” took center stage.
Ok, you might not have exactly guessed sssccchhhhpppllllaaaatttt but I bet you were close.
Closer than I am to having a point to this.