Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vacation - Sunday: The Hitchhiker

Pin It I drove past the man sitting on the guard railing; it was along a sparingly-traveled road some thirty miles south of St. George. As I passed, the words to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, Heartbeat of Heaven, flashed through my mind.

I pulled up to the stop sign and I saw him standing there
The cardboard sign he held said he was hungry
I looked the other way and waited for the light to change
As if to say, “I'd help, but I'm in such a hurry.”
These are the moments of truth
What would love have me do?

Oh, heartbeat of heaven, I want you to be my own
Oh, heartbeat of heaven, I want my life to show
The kind of love that comes and goes
With the heartbeat of heaven

I promptly turned my car and drove back.

As I neared the man, visions of axe murders flitted through my mind. However, as I pulled over to the side of the road and the aged man shuffled up to my car, cane in hand, I smiled. An elderly axe murderer? Please.

Enter the vehicle, John. Age: 72.

As John climbed into my car, he smiled warmly. “Thanks for stopping.” He folded up the sign on which he’d written:

St. George

As I pulled back on the road, and aimed the car in the direction of the freeway and St. George, I asked John about himself. This little old man promptly began to do so. Telling me of the life he’d lived, and his tales of woebegone adventures. I listened as he told me all about his first and second marriages, all the jobs he’s had since 1950, and about his health, which has steadily been on the decline since 1979. He had plenty to say, and there wasn’t but a moment or two that we were in want of conversation.

“So, where you from?” he finally asked, after telling me about all the different places he’d lived.

“Originally I’m from Washington State.”

John nodded knowingly, “Ah, lots of rain up thars.”

“Actually, I’m from the dry side of the state, luckily, the Cascade Mountains divide the state in two and the coastal area gets most of the rain.”

He paused, considering what I’d said. After a moment or two of silence he asked, “You ever seen a Sasquatch?”

“Uh…actually no.”

He leaned in conspiratorially, “I have.” He whispered with a nod.


At this point, John launched into a tale which quickly spread into two separate accounts of Bigfoot sightings. One of which was when he and a few of his kids were driving someplace up in Washington one night back in the late seventies, and he saw two Bigfoot on the side of the road.

“They were HUGE. They stood there, staring at us with their red eyes,” John recalled. “They just stood there like they were hitchhiking or sompin’. At first we passed by ‘em, when I got the car turned around so I could shine the headlights on them for another look, they were gone.”

John waited a moment then launched into his second sighting which occurred when John was out on a deer hunt in 1978. He’d been out pretty deep in the mountains near a large clearing. He said he’d been there for a little while when, at the other end of the clearing, he noticed commotion. He quickly turned and was surprised when he saw a fight ensuing between two large animals. “One of those animals was a deer…or maybe it was a deer, I don’t know really, it COULD have been a deer. I just know that it had these big ‘ole antlers…could’da been a elk though.” He held out his hands to show that the antlers were big. “And that deer was fighting this huge Sasquatch. It wan’t black or brown like a bear, but it was whitish. It also had these huge eyes and I knew it wan’t a bear ‘cause of that face…one that was almost humanish.”

John leaned back in his seat and fixed me with his intently-staring eyes, hand gripping his cane a little tighter.

“Well, that Bigfoot grabbed the deer by hit antlers and threw him up against a tree!” John said with a flourish. “I watched that deer…maybe it was a elk. Anyhow, it fell to the ground and didn’t move after that.”

I was trying hard not to smile, and instead endeavored to maintain a look of mesmerized awe, “Wow, what happened next?”

“Well, that there Sasquatch dragged that deer into the trees, leaving a bloody trail the whole way…I think he musta been hungry.”

“What did you do?”

“Me? I just sit there, watching. Some other hunters started shooting at it. I don’t know why they’d want to do that, it was just gettin’ its dinner. They probably didn’t have tags for a Sasquatch anyway.” He blew out a breath, and looked again at the freeway stretched out before us. “I never did find out what happened to that Bigfoot…or that deer neither.”

He looked longingly out at the horizon, as if watching something only he could see.
Before long, we arrived at John’s destination, and he climbed out of the car. “Thanks for the ride here, sonny.”

I waved a hasty goodbye as he ambled toward his home.

I am still speechless.


Meg said...

Don't pick up hitchhikers. That old man could have faked using a cane and killed you with it.

jacs said...

i swear it sounds like you were riding in the car with chase..but chase would have talked to him in spanish. because he can you know. and why do sasquatch eat deer. and do you think the hunters hit it with their guns. why is his name sasquatch.....

Farscaper said...

That old guy sounds like my dad. Except the conversation would have been about his ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, truck driving, military service, farming, bull riding, teaching, auto repair, or his favorite - religion. LOL.

Only once did I pick up a "hitchhiker". She wasn't really standing there with her thumb out.. she was walking the same direction I was and begged for a ride. Older woman with a bag of "stuff" with a limp and a really gravely fast breath from walking a while. She was just going across town. My first thought was "NO - you could hurt me". Then the spirit said "DO IT!" So I did. I think she just needed someone to acknowledge her exhistance in this world. We ended up sitting outside her stop off for several minutes while she finished up a couple of stories.

Isn't that all everyone wants in this world... to know that they matter.. to know that someone hears their words.

STILL.. be careful picking up hitchhikers!!!

The Scotts said...


Kris said...

I've seen em! HaHa!!!

Gerb said...

My brother recently confided to me that he picks up hitchhikers sometimes. You guys are crazy. But, then again, I wouldn't have been able to read that entertaining story if you hadn't.

Teachinfourth said...

Meg - I actually thought of that at first too, but then when I got a good look at him I realized that, if needed, I could probably take him down.

Jacs - As you were talking about the boy I started to laugh, realizing just how he would have asked those exact questions.

FS - Yeah, like I said, there was a bit of that, however, the Bigfoot discussion (well, stories) were much more interesting...and odd.

I think you're right about the human need to tell stories. We all feel that at times...hence our blogs.

J&J - Um...thanks?

Kris - You should pick him up, you'd like him.

Gerb - I think picking him up was inspired...after all, I had no other reason to have been here he was, you know?

smalltoes said...

Good story to tell the grandchildren.... but please don't ever do that again. I know, I know you fast and prayed about it but still. We missed you on Saturday night!

Meg said...

you actually have a wallet for your CD's? I just toss those suckers in the glovebox. Of course, I haven't used a CD in ages. I have this awesome thing called an Ipod that I can listen to in car, at home,and on my ears. Heh.

Teachinfourth said...

Shay-Shay - I'll be there this Saturday for the show. I might even be up before Saturday...not sure. You and Craigorey up to doing something?

Meg - Ah, the mockery...Yeah, I do. However, it's not what you think. I use it to transfer DVDs and CDs with photos and information from place to place. I too, own an iPod...(just call me 'wit it.'

Danielle said...

That is HILARIOUS!!! I don't think I could have kept a straight face. Those are the kind of people I'd run into at the bank. And I better get away from my office at the care center, I'm sure that guy lives there! JK

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