On her radio as she got up she heard that, further down the coast, a young mountain lion killed a couple of bicyclists and a jogger. Quite possibly from the young cat’s view, it was just having fun. But we humans take it seriously when it an animal has power over us.
The cat is gone, put down by the law, but of course it worries Layla, because on Mount Tam, where she goes running up the mountain trail most mornings, there are lions and tigers and bears, oh my. At least, there are lions and bears.
Yesterday’s run began as usual …
That is to say, Layla drove to Mount Tam, and was stretching by the car, and chatting with Harry and Comet. Harry is an older guy who hikes the same trail most mornings. Often they’ll start off running together, then in a bit, Harry waves her on, and Layla, warmed up, sprints up the trail with a wave.
This morning, while stretching, Harry told Layla that yesterday, at the trailhead, he and Comet had seen a large black bear. Layla, muttered under her breath, “Oh that’s just great. Both mountain lions and bears.”
Comet, of course, is Harry’s dog, a big and bouncy yellow lab. Adrienne wishes Layla would get a dog to go with her. A big dog would love such exercise, and the dog would be some protection against lions and bears, and of course the human predators as well.
As some may recall, back in 1979, a serial murderer dubbed the Trailside Killer haunted Marin County trails. He was eventually identified, captured, and venue-changed to Santa Cruz. My then-wife Lori‘s college pal Michelle V., working in the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office, was assigned to the Trailside Killer’s defence. One day, Lori and I had stayed the night in Santa Cruz at Michelle’s house, and over coffee in the morning, I asked Michelle what it was like working to defend the guy. She paused for rather a long time, and then said, “He has very little to recommend him.”
Meanwhile, back on the early-morning trail, the rain had increased and Harry waved Layla onward, and she sped up, bursting ahead as the rain grew thicker.
The trails up and around Mount Tam wind and switch back, divide and come together, and the visibility in the rain lessened, as her trail twisted up the mountainside. She heard Comet the dog barking behind her, but it sounded OK.
What she didn’t know was that Comet, kicking up his heels, had sprinted up a side path. And as she ran, Comet the yellow lab was on the side path, racing ahead. And at a turning just ahead of her, he came back around the turn, now running toward her in the rain, on his way back to Harry, who trailed the girl and the dog.
Layla, feet and lungs pounding, and peering dimly ahead through the rain, through the trees suddenly saw the yellow shape bounding toward her. Certain that it was a mountain lion, she stopped and emitted a mighty scream worthy of Hitchcock!
Comet the dog froze in mid-bound, looking all around in fright, and put his tail between his legs. Harry came accellerating up the trail.
“What’s wrong? What! What’s wrong?” he shouted.
Layla, now embarassed, paused for breath. Harry craned his neck this way and that.
“What? What?” he yelled. Layla, breathing heavily, stared at poor Comet, slinking behind Harry.
“Oh,” she said, “… nothing.”