Dispatch from Packwood, Lost

Author, Rupert Smedeley

There I was…

Hopelessly lost in the wilds near Mount Rainier National Park not knowing where I was or remembering how I got there, surrounded by strangers.

I had left Tacoma in a shattered emotional state, for my dear Clarissa Peattebogg, my companion of some decades had left me cold at the coffee stand for a vapid fellow sporting ironic facial hair and a tweed smoking jacket which exuded a foul odor from what seemed to be a lack of bathing, judging from his lank greasy hair.

Such a hurry to be gone from my distress that I left town with no provisions, no maps, no phone. Forced to subsist on forage from gas stations and general stores I learned to be expert on differing flavors of beef jerky and soda, and soon became wary of asking directions from the aborigines that sparsely populated the heavily treed slopes.

My last waking memories are of drinking my last dregs of postum from my treasured antique speckled blue steel camping mug at the top of one of the endless washboard graveled hill paths when I swooned and my world turned as black as the night in my heart.

I awoke to find my hands tied and my body strapped to the back of a bouncing tandem cycle being ridden on one of those washboard graveled paths, choking on the dust kicked up by our wheels. Between blackouts I gained that I was surrounded by strange fellows wearing wool cycle caps and blue shirts with white letters who were mounted on cycles with large treadless tyres and useless ornamental fenders. One, who seemed to be the leader, spoke with a heavy teutonic accent. I awoke and lost consciousness many more times before I realized that we had stopped, greeted by the sound of crickets and mutterings round a camp fire.

The leader spoke first – ‘Your bike, I do not like it! It has no spirit, no planing, and imperfect clearances between the fender and tyre! I fear it will not be an enjoyable ride to the lake tomorrow for the games.’

I did not know what they spoke of with these ‘games’ but I was filled with dread of the unknown. Dread for my safety. Dread for my future.

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