Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
That kindness leaps from lips belonging to Dan Roth, great friend and famed elk hunter.
Something’s up, Boss, whispers Screen Three. We all know you’re feelin’ the years.
“You should join us this time.”
This “time,” explains Five without prompting, is the great annual elk hunt.
Flabbergasted, Two wonders, How in the world does Dan think you’re ready to join experienced hunters for a week in the bitter cold snows of Washington State mountains?
And when do we go? adds Six.
“Dan,” I explain, my heart racing at the very thought of being among such beasts –
Yes, agrees Four, camping men are smelly.
“ – I’ve never shot anything but paper targets. And I’ve fired popguns compared to the rifles you guys sling.”
Tell him you’re a good shot, urges Six. Now, before he withdraws the offer!
“Actually, Dan’l” – I call him that in homage to Dan’l Boone, who was born on a mountaintop in Tennessee –
That’s Davy Crockett, corrects One.
“ – I am pretty dang accurate. Lefty and righty, I might add!”
My buddy laughs. “We weren’t thinking of you actually hunting the elk.”
He knows you, grins Four. ADHD and ammo don’t mix.
“Well, then, what would I be doing? You guys definitely don’t want me cooking for you.”
“True,” nods Dan too quickly. “We thought you might run the elk for us.”
Like the running of the bulls? asks Four. Talk about being on the “horns of a dilemma.”
“How does one run elk?”
Replies Screen One, One does it very well, thank you.
Dan tries to explain, but I cannot seem to grasp the process. “Wait, I have to find these elk myself?” Dan’s head shakes “no, no.” “Umm, after you lead me to them, I chase them your way?” More head shakes in the wrong direction. “Why don’t you drop ’em when we first find ’em? We’d all have elk roast that night.”
After trying several different explanations, Dan sighs. “Doug and I will take you up there before the November hunt starts.”
Splendid idea! applauds Five. Awesome foliage, brisk air, excellent company. And you will get a good feel for your new duties.
Just weeks later –
A lifetime, says Six.
– I eagerly join Dan, wife Donna, young son Ryan and not-so-young brother Doug on a field trip.
You cannot call a mountain excursion a field trip, corrects Three. It’s a mountain or it’s a field.
We make our way toward Mt. St. Helens, its post-burp dome looming in the distance. Four-lane highway surrenders to county routes, which give way to loggers’ roads and hairpin turns. Dan confidently drives the barely discernible wildlife paths as I try not to stare at the edge we straddle.
Long way down, remarks Four unnecessarily. L-o-n-g way down.
“We’re here,” comments Dan.
“Here?” repeats Two in disbelief. Don’t see a thing but paths a bike couldn’t travel and wide open patches between clustered pines.
“Best place to spot an elk. Doug will go ahead and see what he can find. We will walk trails, try to flush an elk or two … maybe even a bull elk.”
Either it’s a bull or it’s an elk, complains Three. Do hunters even speak English?
Occasionally we hear something massive crashing just beyond but the elusive elk never show themselves. My frustration mounts.
“Worse when the season starts,” cautions Dan. “They get skittish fast. But Doug is an excellent tracker. He’ll find us some elk to look at.”
As Dan and his family talk, I walk a flat path that ends in a severe drop-off. The fall isn’t sharp enough to kill me –
Bet it is, comments Five.
– but the surrounding daring angle down matches the dramatic angle up the mountain. It is a perilous place to lose one’s balance.
Physical or mental? interrupts Six, who suddenly has a sharp intake of breath. Hear that?
I pivot and see Doug, hands cupped to mouth, shouting, “Brought you an elk!”
Shades of “Jeremiah Johnson,” whistles Three.
Thunder reaches terrified ears. Moments later, eyes see elk.
Two hundred, estimates Four.
Death Drop is 15 feet behind me. Nor can I go down to my left or up to my right. Seriously spooked creatures pound my way, the four heads-down frontrunners displaying their “I’m a guy” antlers.
And you’re a sieve, advises Five.
Frozen vocal cords fail my Tarzan yell. I will die quietly among thunderous hooves.
Six feet from my bone-locked body, the herd splits. Following the muscular bulls’ lead, half charge up the steep mountain side, half plunge to deaths diving over the edge. For one full minute, the prancing parade perseveres, speechless observer in its midst.
Then silence. Silence that swallows up the grunting, chuffing, thudding, heaving masses. I see the torn wall where huge bodies climbed unfazed to the heavens. I see the smashed underbrush through which elk crashed in their free-fall.
But you see not one elk captured by death, marvels Six.
Ryan runs up to me, demonstrating tracking skills. “Look,” he shouts as he points to multiple wet spots on the ground. “The elk emptied themselves as they ran.”
And we, smirks Three, empty ourselves as we stand.
Postscript: As I do each day during my early-morning walk, I pick up garbage. Surprised there is so much just before Halloween – there certainly will be plenty right after it – I gripe, grab and go.
At my route’s final street corner, however, there is such a mess on one residential lawn that I pull extra-big bags out of my pocket and stoop to scoop. When I straighten, the streetlight illuminates the contents of my hands:
Nearby, a homeowner – his peaceful sleep shattered by unbridled terror being vocalized – laughs his buns off. And does so still.
* * * * *
This man claims he knows how to be a Real Hunter
Meet BatDad (most heroic – and humorous – dad ever?)
C’mon, we both know I had to run this …