NSTIW = "No Shit, there I was" stories. Everyone who has ever left thier home for more than a few hours probably has several that they enjoy telling to their friends. You know, the kind of story that starts up when a bunch a friends are sitting around sharing a beer and one of them says "No Shit, there I was, in south Peoria IL armed with nothing more than a hula hoop and a bubble machine when without warning I was attacked by a pack of rabid hamsters."
We all like to tell NSTIW stories. At least all of my friends do. Your mileage may vary. But the other day I was relating one of my NSTIW stories to some folks while my oldest daughter was listening. After I finished and everyone had laughed, cursed, or thrown their food at me my daughter who had heard this particular story several times asked "Do you tell that story to everyone?"
That is when it hit me. I have a blog. I CAN tell that story to everyone. Or at least to everyone who is bored or insane enough to be reading what I write here. Kind of like you are right now.
So I decided that when I get into a writing mood, but the day has been rather boring like most of mine are, so I have nothing current to write about I may occasionally throw in a NSTIW story. This will have the added benefit that as I get older I will have an archived copy of all my NSTIW stories so I won't forget to tell all of them to all my grandchildren - over and over again.
I promise that none of my NSTIW stories take place in South Peoria IL and none of them involve rabid hamsters. Yet!
In 1982 I was driving from South Dakota to my home in Cheyenne, WY. As today, back then I enjoyed driving at night. So I enjoyed my day in Rapid City and then headed for Cheyenne later in the evening. I was driving south on Wyoming State Hwy 85 about 12 miles south of Torrington. It was sometime around 1:30 in the morning. I was only about 60 miles from Cheyenne and figured I would be getting home by 2:30. Suddenly I heard a loud crack sound come from right front of the 63 Pontiac Tempest I was driving. Simultaneously the car lurched slightly to the right. As my foot was shifting from the gas to the brake I suddenly heard a series of impacts move along the underside of the car from the right front corner diagonally across the car. It sounded like a machine gun going off under the car. (I later learned it was probably the bearings bouncing off the pavement that were hitting the underside of the car.)
I slammed on the brakes as hard as I could and still maintain control of the car and swerved quickly onto the right shoulder of the road. As my car careened onto the shoulder of the road I managed to get slowed down to around 10 mph when the entire right front wheel and hub fell off the car. As the car thudded to a stop on the shoulder of the road I sat behind the steering wheel and stared as my right front wheel rolled about 30 feet down into the ditch where it slowed to a stop then toppled over onto it's side.
I did a quick survey and determined that I was undamaged and that I hadn't metaphorically or in reality soiled my underwear. Then I got out of the car, wandered down into the ditch and retrieved my wayward wheel. I rolled the wheel back up to the car and leaned it against the what was left of the axle and hub. Then I stood there and stared at the whole mess waiting for the car to say "April Fools" and put itself back together. Then I remembered that it wasn't April and I probably wasn't going to be able to fix this with my pocket knife.
So I did what any red blooded American boy would do. I stomped around for a few minutes using a lot of words that my parents and grandparents would not have approved of. After I settled down I started investigating my options. Cheyenne was 60 miles away and I didn't feel like walking that far. Torrington was 12 miles back behind me which was easily walkable, but not my idea of the best way to spend the rest of the evening. So I hopped up on top of the car and looked around. Off to the north west I could see some lights that looked to be a couple miles away. That is when I remembered seeing an intersection about a mile back and a sign that said "Yoder, 2 miles."
I had never been to Yoder Wyoming. In fact I had never even heard of Yoder Wyoming before. But right then and there I decided to take a short vacation in Yoder. So I hopped down off the car and turned off the engine and the headlights. Then walked around the car to make sure that it was far enough off the road so as not to get smacked by the next car to come along.
I was thinking about walking the mile or so back down the road to the intersection then the two miles to Yoder when I realized that the moon was about three quarters full and the cloudless night made for a sky full of stars and a pretty bright moon. Bright enough that I could see fairly well without a flashlight, which was good since I didn't have on with me anyway.
The bright starry night made my cross country trek pretty easy. I even managed to avoid running into three other barbed wire fences that were between me and town. Once I successfully navigated the fences and avoided the two small ponds I discovered I eventually managed to reach Yoder without incident.
Yoder is a small town. At 2:30 in the morning it looks even smaller than it probably really is. The main street of Yoder looked to be only about 2 blocks long. Everything was definitely closed up tight. I had walked past a couple dozen houses, all of them dark when I spotted a light at the end of the street. Right there under the neon sign that said "Bar" was the answer to my problems - a phone booth.
As I walked down the middle of the road, (why not? It's not like anyone was driving on it) I heard a sound behind me. Turning around I discovered that I had picked up a couple of shadows. There were three or four dogs following me down the street. They didn't look aggressive, and they weren't making any noise, so I ignored them and headed for the phone booth.
When I stepped into the phone booth and closed the door the lights turned on. Which was a pretty harsh thing to do to my night adjusted eyes. So waiting a moment for my eyes to adjust I dug the change I had taken from the ashtray of the car and called my Dad.
Dad wasn't too please to be getting a call this early in the morning. But once I explained what had happened he understood. Dad asked if I had a problem walking back to the car, and waiting there until morning. When I told him I was fine with that he told me that he would wait until the shops opened around 8 AM, then get what parts he thought he would need and then come get me and the car. Then he told me to get some sleep and that he would see me in the morning. He also recommended that it might be smarter for my to go back to the car via the road instead of cross country. I agreed and told him good night.
When I opened up the door to the phone booth it seemed very dark outside because my eyes had adjusted to the bright light inside the booth. When I stepped outside I felt as though I had stepped into a Steven King novel. Waiting for me there in the middle of the street were about 20 local dogs. They were spread out over about 50 feet of roadway. The really scary part is that the were all just sitting there watching me. Not one of the barked or raised any kind of a ruckus at all.
I stepped back into the phone booth. But I didn't close the door, I didn't want the light to come back on again. So I stood there watching the dogs while my eyes adjusted again. The dogs all just sat there watching me. No shit there I was having a staring contest with 20 strange dogs at 2:30 in the morning.
(bet you thought I was never going to get to that part didn't you?)
After several seconds I decided that none of the dogs looked particular threatening. Most of them were wearing collars and they all looked pretty well cared for. So I took a few cautious steps out of my 3 x 3 haven.
The dogs didn't bother me but as I moved towards the edge of town most of them did follow me for a while. As I left Yoder and headed towards the highway I lost most of my entourage. Eventually I was about a half mile out of town and my following had been reduced to just one determined pooch - a small brown spaniel mix of some sort, that just would not be shooed away or sent home. So I turned my back on him, picked up my pace and decided to get in a bit of a run. I jogged for a short distance to get warmed up and then picked up the pace to my normal running pace and in no time at all I had gotten back to the Hwy 85. I stopped there and looked around for that last mutt that had been following me. But apparently he hadn't liked running and had given up. So I turned south and headed back to my car at a brisk walk.
As I approached the car, unbeknowst to me, that last stubborn pooch hadn't really given up. He had just fallen behind a bit. But since I was walking now he closed the gap. And because I was absorbed in thought, mostly trying to figure out why none of those dogs had barked at me the whole time I was in their town, that I didn't hear him come up behind me.
When I got to the car I fished my keys out of pocket. I put the key in the door and as I turned it to unlock the car that last dog, that I didn't even know was behind me let out one, loud, sharp
I don't know who was the most scared - me or the dog. I jumped all the way up onto the roof of the car. There with my heart beating about 300 beats per minute and being completely incapable of breathing I looked for the instigator of my terror. But all could see was this shadow, with it's tail between its legs scurrying away back up the highway.
Apparently he wasn't expecting that kind of reaction out of me.
Eventually I calmed down enough to get down off the car. I moved some stuff out of the back seat, drank some of the melted ice out of my cooler and finally drifted off to sleep until my Dad showed up around 9:15.
I never saw the dog again. I've never been back to Yoder again either.