As I said in my previous blog post, my tendency toward excessive observation of everyday events and the people involved in them has allowed me to create believable, likeable characters out of even the slimiest of people. In the following excerpt, Alex and her dog Tessa have decided to take a hike in the beautiful Sonoran desert. Her partner, Casey has agreed to meet them there if she can arrange her schedule. Just like in real life, the bad guys aren't all bad, and the good guys aren't always good. Let's take a look.
The next day was so nice, I decided to take Tessa for a walk at Catalina State Park. I called Casey and left a message on her machine telling her where we were and inviting her to join us. I did the same with Megan, in case Rusty had to leave early.
Early spring is my favorite time of year. I love walking through forests of tall saguaro cactus and feeling the soft breezes that ruffled Tessa's hair. I clipped a leash onto her collar and started out on the Romero Trail that winds around the backside of the Catalina Mountains. Tessa and I met one or two other people along the way, but for the most part, we hiked in silence. After about an hour of walking up and down hills and arroyos, we came to some quiet pools nestled in a small desert oasis.
We settled on a rock and I let Tessa off the leash. After licking my arm and trying for my face, she ran around smelling bushes. I picked up a stick and threw it into the water. She took a flying leap, her front legs stretching as far as they could reach, the water billowing out in waves as she dove in. We played until Tessa lay panting next to me on the rock. I stretched out beside her, pushed my sleeves up onto my shoulders, and worked on my tan.
A loud splash woke me some time later. I sat up and saw Casey sitting next to me and Tessa swimming for her stick. I rubbed my eyes. "Hey."
"Hey yourself." Casey picked up a stone, then threw it into the water where it skipped four times before sinking below the surface. "What an incredible day for a hike. Good idea."
I put my boots back on and stood up, stretched stiff back and neck muscles, and took a drink from my water bottle. "You wanna go look at the Indian ruins?" The trail wound around a Hohokam archeological dig and I loved finding pot shards and looking for arrowheads.
Casey threw another stone. "Sure"
A bullet ricocheted between my legs and chips of rock exploded under me. I jumped and took off running, and we dove behind some Palo Verde trees as I called Tessa to me. As soon as she started running, another bullet hit the rock where she'd been standing. Casey pointed up the hill a little ways. "There they are! See 'em?"
I spotted two guys about halfway up the hill. The shooter had tried a hundred yard shot with a handgun. Thank God he didn't have a rifle or I'd have been history. The one with the gun pulled back the slide several times, apparently trying to clear a bullet that had jammed. The other one had his back to us, trying to help the first.
Neither of us had brought our Glocks, so while they were distracted, we took off running towards them, hoping to reach them before they had a chance to clear the jam. Both men looked up just in time to see Casey and I pounding towards them like two runaway freight trains. Casey tackled the one with the jammed gun and I chased the other, who'd taken off running.
Mine had a fairly big beer belly and I had no problem catching up to him. Unfortunately for him, he was running straight towards a very large cholla cactus. When I thought the timing was right, I gave him a hard shove. He tripped and fell forward, right into the middle of the cactus. He began screaming and rolling around on the ground, trying to get away from the spines.
I shouted, "Lay still, you idiot! You're making it worse!"
He stopped rolling and started moaning. Hundreds of cholla cactus fingers and spines covered him from head to toe. Since he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, I ran back to help Casey. When I got there, they were still wrestling in the dirt, with Tessa running around barking. The man reached for the pistol he'd dropped and Casey held him away from it.
I kicked the gun away, jumped into the pile, and hit him in the face several times as hard as I could. He was a fairly big man, and my punches weren't doing any good, so I picked up a good-size rock and hit him once on the side of his head. His eyes rolled back and he lay still.
Casey pushed herself off him and knelt on all fours to catch her breath. I stood up and rested my hands on my knees, trying to catch mine. After a few minutes, Casey sat down to unlace her shoes. "Hey Alex, give me your shoe laces."
I knelt down, unlaced my hiking boots, and handed her the laces, which she knotted together. We rolled the suspect onto his stomach so we could tie his hands behind his back.
I took a nervous breath. "What was that all about? Do you recognize him?"
She felt in his back pockets for some I.D. When she didn't find any, she rolled him over to study his face. "I've never seen him in my life. How about you?"
I shook my head, shoving my hands in my pockets to keep them from shaking. Casey took out her cell phone. "No service here. Can you watch him while I —" Two people came running towards us from the trail.
A large Hispanic man reached us first. "Are you two all right? We heard some shots and then we saw you running over here." He must have seen me coming back to help Casey. "Our wives are running to the trailhead for help. Was anyone hurt?"
"No, we're fine. Thanks." Casey walked over and brushed the dirt off my back. "You lose your guy?"
I jumped and looked at her. "Whoops." I'd forgotten about my pincushion. I headed back to the cactus.
Casey called after me. "Whoops?"
"I left him on the other side of that little hill. You'll have to come get us when the help gets here."
He sat exactly where I'd left him, trying to flick the cactus off with a stick. I watched him for a while. He was a short, pudgy guy wearing blue jeans and a dirty t-shirt. After working on the cactus for a few more minutes, he whined, "You pushed me!"
"I did not, you pushed me!"
A large piece of cholla stuck to his neck, preventing him from shaking his head. "How 'bout some help here? You're the one who done it."
"I didn't done it; you tripped." I found a large rock where I could sit down to wait. I had no intentions of wading into a pile of jumping cactus to help some idiot who had shot at me. "Who are you anyway, and why were you shooting at me and my dog?"
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