Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Gone Bad.

    I sort of hate to admit it, but the true significance of Good Friday has for the most part, been lost on this feeble old soul, but it has always been a day to note, which is the important thing in my world, and I've always had fond memories of the Holiday Friday time of year. When I was a little bugger, it meant being released from the concentration camp called school, and remember long ago fishing trips to the logging camp at Port Douglas over the Spring break, and being brought around to the hot spring here as a kid. Later in life, it was a paid day off work, which is pretty good too, and often the first dirt-bike ride of the year, when I'd lead all my buddies way off in the hills and get us all stuck in some snow-bank. But for a few exceptions, Good Fridays stick out in my mind for the right reasons.
But then again, theres always the old exception to the rule.

Good Friday, 20 years ago.
    I had been away for a number of days, and keen to get back before the weekend got in full swing down at the hot spring campsite, back when it could be a little wilder and woollier than it is these days. I arrived back mid-afternoon on the Good Friday after a 6 hour drive, burnt-out, and glad as always to be home again. Wheeling down the driveway, I notice the two doors to the cabin crawl-space are flung open, which was certainly not how I left them. I got a knot in my gut making a mental note of all the gear I kept locked up under there. I pulled up and parked, taking a moment there behind the wheel, and not sure if I wanted to get out or not. At the under-cabin storage, some cretin has taken a splitting-maul, probably the one I use to have around here, and busted the locks off, which lay on the ground, still attached to their flimsy screw-on latches. The tools and wood-working equipment appear to be absent, as were several fairly new looking chainsaws.
I had a bad feeling my Good Friday was only going to get worse.
      At the base of the hand-made log steps into this lovely little home in the wilderness, I see there is a empty spot where a mineral sample from a great-grandfathers silver mine once sat, and looking up the steps it is evident the old ore sample has been fired through the window of the front door.
I approached my violated door, and standing there on the welcome mat, reached inside the broken pane, then slowly lifted the pretty flowered curtain. First thing I see is a big chunk of Coniagas Mine there on the floor, broken glass, and dirt tracked all over the predominately white lino. 
    Upon entering,  it looked like a bomb had gone off in there, or a deranged bear had got in. I traveled light in those early years, and it was just a basic one bedroom cabin then, but everything was up-turned, flung-out, tossed-aside, stood-on, looked-in, or otherwise buggered with and big dirty boot-prints all over the counters. Of course anything of value was gone. Like my old TV I played half a dozen VHS tapes over and over on all Winter, and books of all things, including that new one I hadn't finished reading yet, bastards. They even took the heavy old stuffed bear head down off the wall. The pantry had been raided of canned goods and jujubes, and the fridge and freezer had been cleaned out. The power was off, some unsavory scumbag had gone out to the shack and cut wires on the regulator and electronic controls, I assume in an attempt to disable an alarm or something, I don't know what the hell they were thinking, maybe they were trying to steal it. Out front, I see a worn-in trail across the lawn, tracks backing up to the front-deck, pillaging, then spinning their tires on leaving, explaining what happened to my pile of fire-wood, and possibly even my old BBQ that use to be there. I stood on the deck studying the crime scene for clues, and no surprise, all the tracks lead off down the field, and straight into the hot spring campsite, where smoke from several fires rises suspiciously from the trees.
    I stomped down there in record time, then strolled nonchalantly around the campsite, giving everyone the hairy eye-ball. Set-up among the normal holiday campers is a group of characters that appear to deserve another pass or two by, hairy eye-ball and all. I'd hate to profile anyone here, so lets just call them..., 'young white males, beer in hand, empties on ground, ...probably from Surrey'.
   Back in those days it wasn't easy to get a message to the outside world. I stomped back to the cabin and got my truck, driving down to the next little village where someone had a radio that could reach someone else up-valley with a connection to report the forced entry to the Tribal Police, who contact the RCMP, who would then respond. A reassuring message relayed back through the static.
"The cops are on their way", or something to that effect.
    I headed back to the grisly crime-scene, arriving here at dusk, mad as all hell, and from the end of the driveway, just like I had hoped was going to happen, I see a Suzuki 4x4 that had come down the airstrip, up to the house, and was now coming to a stop out on the lawn over-looking the river.
    I was a little beside myself already, as you can appreciate, and catching these bastards red-handed was about the last thing I needed right then. I floored the pickup, lighting-up all four tires down the gravel driveway and across the lawn in passing-gear before locking the brakes and skidding up sideways to the occupants of the Suzuki, whom have begun to get out in preparation of further pillaging I presumed.
    My beside-myself-and-I stormed out the driver's door in full-freakout mode. Scaring them half to death, I probably chased these poor guys around their vehicle one and a half times before the terrified group split up, dropping their fishing-rods and  making a run for it. Except for the leader of this mongol band of cabin-rapers, he's not about to abandon his new Suzuki and runs around it attempting to get back in, all the time trying to fend off some psycho-man with his fishing-rod, which had come apart and was getting shorter by the moment.
"Take what you want, just don't hurt us!" he pleads.
Someone's common sense prevailed, and before he actually reached the can of bear-spray located in his center consul he finally gets it across that he and his nephews were only out looking for a quiet fishing spot.
After I calmed down a bit, his story did kind of check out.
"Is he going to murder us?" one nephew stammered when Uncle called them back.
I told the apprehensive Good Friday fishermen I was taking them prisoner, just until the cops arrived. I said they would want to question them about this heinous crime.
"Uhm, how long is this all going to take?" asked the Uncle.
"I just called them," I said, "they should be here any hour now."
"Do you mind if we give them a little call ourselves?" he asks hopefully.
"I'm sorry," I told him, "I don't have a phone."
The older nephew says, "Did you call them, or are they looking for you?"
I told my captives I couldn't have them running back down to the campsite and blabbing about our encounter, which they would have for certain, and word getting out down there in the wrong places.
I told them they may as well fish while they were being detained.
    The cops were sure taking a long time, I was getting hungry and had to take a leak, the guys didn't seem to be enjoying the forced-fishing in the dark, and I knew if I wasn't standing there staring at them, they were just going to take the opportunity to clamber into the Suzuki and escape, and anyways, there were other things I could be doing with my time, so I made my captives an offer they couldn't refuse.
"You may as well go be prisoners at your camp, and don't tell anyone, ... I know where you sleep."
The relieved group wasted no time making tracks, without so much as a simple goodbye.
    Meanwhile, an RCMP cruiser was responding to the remote call, I like to think with lights and siren, and when they were about halfway here, someone stopped into the small Pemberton detachment, making a statement he had been at the hot spring and had chatted with some character saying he had food and items from a cabin he had opened up, the 'skin-head' boasted to have had a number of weapons stashed in his camp. This new information was relayed to the responding members out on the rough Lake Rd, and it was decided to investigate the call in the next days light.
I eventually got tired of waiting, and spent all night down at the campsite, slinking around in the shadows, studying every move the mongol horde made, and planning the dawn raid.
    About mid morning the next day, a pair of Mounties pull into the yard, and began taking notes.
"The rotten bastards are still down there!" I exclaimed, bringing them up to date on my own investigation and giving them the plate number of the vehicle who's tires matched those across my lawn. The tag was called in and came back as reported stolen,...from Surrey.
They asked about missing items, of which I had a ready list.
"Took the bear head?" asked the senior officer, like he didn't quite hear me right.
"Alright" he says, "We'll go talk to them."
"One more thing," I told the Mounties, "If you guys have to do any shooting down there, be careful you don't hit my TV."
"We'll be careful." he stated, closing up his notebook.
"I better ride down with you." I offered.
They locked me in the back of the cruiser and we headed down to bust the bastards.
    We squeezed by a Suzuki 4x4 near the campsite entrance, the fishermen I had terrorized and taken hostage the night before. They were packed up and getting out of there, and took particular interest in the occupants of the police cruiser, specifically the back-seat area,  and were obviously relieved to see the cops had that nut-bar from the cabin back in custody.
My partners and I drove on, towards the mongol camp.
    "That's them sonsofbitches right there, front and center, that blue Dodge Dakota!" I exclaimed from the back seat, tapping the Plexiglas partition and pointing to the far end of the campsite, hoping to charge in there with lights and siren blazing.
"Tell you what Rambo," says the senior officer stopping the vehicle, "For the safety of everyone involved, we better let you out right here."
The Mounties splashed on alone through the campsite puddles, the low-slung cruiser comes to a stop. The band of mongols freeze where they are, looking rather surprised I was told.
"Who belongs to this vehicle," the officer demanded, pointing to the blue Dakota.
Everyone immediately fingered a young man in their midst sporting a shaved head, who just smiled and shrugged. By the time the cop's backup arrived on scene, out of breath from the run and leaping puddles from the other end of the campsite where they had unceremoniously dumped me out, they had the suspect cuffed and in the back of the police cruiser. I recognized him as a Kyle fellow I had seen around, a harmless type I thought, but one to be wary of, always showing up late at night, and always driving a different vehicle. In case I never had the chance again, I took the opportunity to call him a few bad names.
    Little was recovered, my stuff had all been traded-off for beer and cash, or disposed of somehow. We did recover the old mounted bear head, which I could have cared less about and was stuffed into the cab of the stolen Dakota. It turned out his camp-mates are actually quite nice guys and had no idea of his clandestine activities. Kyle and his skanky girlfriend had shown up and joined their group uninvited. They were starting to wonder though, as he would disappear for a bit then come back with firewood for all, or drive off and return later with frozen pork-chops or something for all, and blankets when he got cold. He told them he had another 'camp' someplace else.
    They hauled that knot-head Kyle off in the cruiser, a young Constable drove the stolen pickup back to town, and he went before a judge a few days later, and was sent away, once again it seems, for a few months stay at a comfortable BC jail. I got word back about a year later that Kyle had been released, and ended up back east, up to his old tricks stealing vehicles and opening up cabins in the lake country of northern Ontario, caught, and sent away for some hard time.
    I went home that day, repaired the wiring and got the lights working, swept the glass up and screwed a piece of plywood over the window, got a fire going in the stove with wood dropped off by some thoughtful Good Friday campers, and went to work cleaning and scrubbing my ransacked little home in the wilderness, and wondering about some people's children.



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