Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Worst-Case Scenario in Carmacks: Day 18 of the Yukon River Trip

...continued from "Jake's Fear Becomes a Reality during His Absence from Carkmacks:  Day 18 of the Yukon River Trip"

Even though Jake was miles and hours away, I heard his voice clearly weave through the chaos in my brain:  This is why I didn't want you to stay in Carmacks…alone.  The tone wasn't I-told-you-so; it was more of a sincerely, concerned why-didn't-you-listen-to-me?

Why didn't I listen to him? 

Well, I made this bed….so, I countered her proposal:  "If your friends want to meet me, they'll have to come over here."  I hoped I wouldn't soon regret my recommendation.  My suspicious agitation surged into consternation as I waited for her reply.

"They over there," she said, pointing again to the truck that had magically materialized into my world just moments ago.  This time I looked over at the halfway hidden truck.  My peripheral vision had not deceived me; two males sat in the truck. 

She interrupted my brain trying to discern the situation:  "Just for a minute.  They just over there." 

Pulling up to the red structure with the power lines, the gray pickup nestled between the Carmacks bridge & the brush just off the circle drive, providing them with a clear view of me and allowing me to see into the cab of the truck (after their presence was brought to my attention).

Something's not right (no, I didn't just then draw that conclusion…fraudulent motivations inched toward obvious from the moment I detected this girl).  Something within the obvious creeped me out and caused alarm to claw up my back and scratch its jagged nails up my neck.  This girl wasn't the source of my fear.  So, what was?  The two guys…in the truck….?  My intuition told me I was fine as long as I stayed on the Sundowner.  So…what was causing panic to fester within me? 

Finally, it clicked:  not once since my "discovery" of the two men in the truck--not once--had I seen either of them look my way.  They both just sat in that truck staring straight across the Yukon River.  Why?  They sat there waiting…waiting without wanting to clearly be seen by me.  It was as though they were anticipating a cue…my arrival to their truck perhaps?   A signal from the girl?  From someone else?  Oh God, no--not someone else!  My consternation snapped into fearful exasperation, and my eyes frantically scanned splotches of brush, the nearby bank, far-off tree lines, the distant boardwalk….   

Am I reading too much into this situation?  Or is Worst-Case-Scenario Girl having a heyday because she's missing the threats of daily life on the river?  Maybe I'm being too cautious….

The girl broke into my paranoid rationalizations and tried one last appeal:  "Come.  Meet my friends.  You will see boat from over there," she pressed.  "It's not far.  You still see boat over there." 

And that's what did it--she was offering me a solution to a problem I hadn't voiced.  I quickly drew three possible conclusions about this girl:  she was  1.) smarter than I had realized or  2.) coached well by someone that was taking advantage of her or  3.) the best damn actress I had ever encountered in person.  The skeptic in me highly doubted the latter.  Regardless of which conclusion was closest to the truth, I was done fooling around with the girl and her probable accomplices--no matter how many waited out of sight until a sign was given to move in and carry out their scheme.

Going for something stronger than my previous "subliminal emphasis," I moved to the side & peered into the cabin--as though to assess my unfinished work--knowing her curious, wandering eyes would fall upon the 12 gauge shotgun that was strapped to the center pole of the Sundowner's cabin.  With my hands on my hips, I swung back around, my KA-BAR Kukri Machete flared and flapped more dramatically than before.  "Well, it's time for me to get back to packing up this boat." 

My KA-BAR Kukri Machete

I'm guessing she saw the shotgun, for her presence soon drifted into a memory.  I wasn't trying to threaten her, only trying to plant the idea of the possibility that I could be trouble to her and others if they pushed me too far.  I don't feel that I angered or insulted her…probably just disappointed her--no matter what the real story was. 

True to my word, I got back to work and accomplished Goal #3 by making sure each item that accompanied us on the Sundowner was packed in a logical & memorable place.  Tackling Goal #4 pushed me physically after an already long day…week…month.  Nonetheless, I balanced back and forth between the deck and the boat ramp on our makeshift ramp (part of a tree stand ladder that we used to access the roof of our boat).  I hauled what I could off the boat and grouped items in anticipation of Jake's arrival.

After my time-for-work declaration to the girl, I can't recall if any more words were exchanged between us.  I also don't remember her walking off or the truck with the two males driving away (which still puzzles me--how did they get in and out of there without me hearing or seeing them?).  I just know I looked up from my work at one point, and they were gone.  In retrospect, what do I really believe could have happened had I gotten off the Sundowner?  I'm not thinking worst-case scenario like I did during the ordeal (and I believe most would do so in a similar potentially threatening situation).  Rarely does a predicament escalate into a worst-case scenario.  For survival's sake, I had to explore and assume the unimaginable to build a strong defense and eventually offense. 

However, hindsight leads me to believe that once I climbed off the Sundowner and trotted over to meet the "friends" in the creepy gray truck, others (unbeknownst to me) would have popped out of their hiding places to grab what they could before I came charging back with my kukri high above my head promising bloodshed if my gear wasn't returned (that is to say if I would have caught up with any of them).  A little more serious possibility could have led to a stolen boat; I shudder to even describe that picture.  Worst-case scenario?  To my knowledge, it didn't come close to that, so I'm not going to go there. 

I'm choosing to reflect on this memory as a learning experience with the following lessons:  1.) Being caught off guard always comes after letting your guard down.  2.) In future situations that I perceive as potentially dangerous, I only need to say "no" once.  If my requests/denials are not respected, I will not feel obligated to stay polite.  How I am perceived and how I make the opposing force feel no longer matters once I feel my safety is being jeopardized.  3.) Acknowledge your suspicions and intuitions, yet keep your paranoia in check so that you can think and act rationally to appear in control of yourself and the outcome of the threatening situation.  4.)  Maybe my perception of the situation was entirely wrong.  Maybe the two guys in the truck just wanted to ask about my Yukon River Trip, and they were just too shy to strike up the conversation.  Maybe…I doubt it, but…maybe.


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