So I’m heading to the post office and about 100 yards before the Road 15 crossroad I spot a prairie dawg standing tall and proud slap in the middle of the road. As I approach he stays in place, defiant and immobile. About 25 yards from him I realize there’s no way he can escape now. He’s dead center in my sights and refusing to flinch. It’s a game of Rockie Mountain chicken.
I’m Chuck Yeager in his P-51, Dick Bong in his turbo charged Lockheed Lightning. Pappy Boyington in his Corsair. The rodent is an exposed Iraqi T-55 and I’m at the controls of a Warthog screaming down from the heavens. I’m John Wayne in his AVG P-40 about to blow a rising sun-bedecked Betty bomber to pieces!!
I bear down on him and briefly remind myself to wash the bumper on the wife’s new Subaru off before I get home.
I rapidly close the distance ....10 yards....5 yards. I can now see his (probably) plague dimmed beady little eyes as his lip curls back in a “screw you” sneer. 2 feet to impact. Ramming speed!!
Then .... pop.
There’s no telltale thud. No red mist. No schmear on the road behind me. He’s simply gone. Completely. No trace. I hit the brakes and slide to a stop. You can do that here usually. No traffic. I sit and think for a moment. No way he could have dodged.
Teleportation? Up to the mother ship? Unlikely, in a creature without opposable digits.
Hallucination? I just saw a tv commercial about that in old geezers like me. But it seemed so real....
The only logical explanation was that it had been a Skin Walker. They’ve been known to inhabit this area but usually they take the form of a demon, bear, wolf, or something a bit creepier than a 3 pound dirt moving herbivore. Perhaps he was a novice, still learning the spells. I’d have to ask a Navajo friend about that.
With some trepidation I exited my ersatz war machine and began to walk to the spot where last I’d seen him. I’ll admit that there was the beginning of a cold sweat as I approached, hand on pistol (cue the High Noon theme song).
As I got close, I spotted a shadow where he had stood. Yikes! Is his shadow still here while his earthly essence has moved to another ethereal plane? Is he watching me now?
The afternoon sun beat down from the brilliant azure Colorado sky, yet it failed to warm my chilled bones.
Finally, I stood there. Gazing down. No shadow. A hole. This enterprising, or meth head, prairie dog had actually burrowed up through the road bed. I’ve never seen that. I noticed several mounds of in the field about 100 feet away. And a few furry heads peeking out at me. I thought I heard a high pitched snicker. Why, I wondered, would you dig through a rock and gravel road bed to pop up in the most exposed place within a half mile?
I guess everybody needs a challenge.
I returned to the Outback and went to pick up the junk mail.