A few years ago, I got hungry on the trail and pulled into a convenience store at a remote road crossing that didn’t even offer a stop sign. I dropped my backpack at the entrance and abruptly heard, as if an echo, ”He’s the most dangerous man I’ve ever seen. Yes sir, Sheriff, I’m looking at the killer on the poster.” I gazed up and through the glass of a phone booth yards away where a young man in a sports coat peeked uneasily at me. I grinned and he gulped, “I got to go, Sheriff. He’s got a bead on me.”
I didn’t feel like a desperado. I had just walked twenty-five miles a day for a month on the Pacific Crest Trail through the Sierra Nevada. I had an empty stomach.
The young man screeched off in a pickup, and I figured a twenty minutes response time before the constable arrived at this far flung crossing.
Yet the big badged Sheriff strode up as I exited, and ordered, “Don’t move!” He rushed past into the shop imaginably to find the cash register open and bloodied by a dead clerk. The officer exited in five minutes presumably wondering why The Most Wanted bought only cat food. His hand hovered above his holstered gun, the strap back, and his trigger finger twitched.
How should I explain that after inspecting the junk food shelves that Puss n’ Boots Chicken, and another can of Liver, were the most nutritious and economical buys?
Finger twitching, he asked for identification and took my license to his patrol car to call in. When he returned five minutes later with the license in a calmer gun hand and passed it over, I knew my short glory as The Most Wanted was over.
“Don’t worry about us Bears out here,” the Sheriff grinned, ”but keep an eye out for the Big Cats.” The mountains aren’t for a man nor beast who can’t take a joke, so I shouldered my pack and hightailed it into the Sierras.