The only time I would ever be caught dead in a place like Camas, WA. would be to visit friends. That said, I never thought I’d come close to actually dying in Camas. I was lured from my hermitic, lazy day-off at home by the friendly promise of tortellini and lobster bisque soup. Never would I claim to have foodie sensibilities, but I can be easily coaxed from any activity by the word “bisque”. Another minor miracle was how quickly it took me to actually get to Camas from my burb to the west of Portland. A half-hour; that’s it. Usually, it takes an hour.
In short, the evening of fancy-ish feasting was meant to be. Good food was had with good friends, geekeries were discussed. And I departed - or rather rolled - out of the house duly satisfied.
But that wasn’t the real “fun”.
I’ve left my friend’s house on a number of occasions, and - even with my crappy sense of direction - managed to drive home with relative ease. Not sure what happened this night. Either it was the immenent carb crash, or the fact that it was midnight, but I took a wrong turn about two streets away. I “thought” I was on the right avenue leading down the hill and onto Highway 14, but apparently I was a block off. Or more.
Not sure how, but I ended up in some affluent part of the neighborhood. The average house was three stories high. Cars along the curbs outclassed my five-year-old Focus by a good $20K, at least. In my attempts to leave the lavish but labyrinthine neighborhood, I ended up at the top of a hill - tailing a beat-up Subaru Forrester/Volvo-ish-looking car. The driver seemed to take notice and…stopped, blocking my egress.
I waited a good three minutes for him to either (a) continue driving or (b) turn off the road. He did neither; he simply waited there. Lights on. A part of me wanted to honk the ol’ horn, but it was late at night in a rich neighborhood. So, I did (what I thought was) the only sensible thing. I flashed my brights at the guy.
That got his attention. He turned his car a tad to face me- squinting. The driver was a gravelly-faced, goateed mess of a man. Far different than what I expected to find in this neighborhood in specific, but…strangely fitting for Camas in general. He squinted at me; I waved for him to move.
After a moment or two of pantomiming, I gave up on the stopped Gravel-Faced Goateed Guy, and turned my car around to find another route. Then I saw something behind me - the same beat-up Subaru/Volvo-ish car Gravel-Faced Goateed Guy was driving. It was him, and he was in hot pursuit. This instantly gave me (and my car) pause.
I pulled over. He pulled up next to me. I raised my arms and pantomimed a “What?!”.
He yelled out, “Roll down your window!”
Aaaand I went from curious to scared shitless in .05 seconds.
Putting foot to pedal, I hauled arse away from him. Gravel-Faced Goateed Guy was right on my tail. I swerved in and out of every twisty road in the Street of Dreams-esque subdivision. He angled and dodged to keep pace. Another car - a Sable, I think? - was parked up ahead. A driver occupied it as well. I wondered if it was GFGG’s back-up. I sharply turned to avoid hitting it, narrowly missing the front bumper. GFGG’s beat-up-mobile dodged to the left. Now, we were neck and neck, side-by-side. It was an honest-to-Yahweh race across McMansion row.
When we were window-to-window, he shouted at me again, “Pull over now!”
Obviously, I didn’t adhere to his request. Instead, I picked up speed. All the while, fumbling with my Droid to dial 911. Have you ever tried to dial on a smart phone in the middle of the car chase? It’s not possible; I’m convinced. Unless you have it on speed-dial, which I didn’t. I tossed my phone away and continued attempting to shake my pursuer.
For what seemed like eons, I darted in and out of cul-de-sacs and cross-streets with GFGG parallel to me. A couple of times, he hugged so close to my car, I thought he would ram me. All I could think was, FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK! Where was a bloody road I recognized?!
One more turn…and I gave up.
GFGG skidded his car to a stop, blocking the road like some sort of redneck cop. He stepped out, flannelled, breathing heavily…and pissed. This time, I rolled down my window. I held up my hands in surrender and repeatedly stumbled the phrase, “I’m sorry, I’m lost. I’m lost. I’m lost!”
He stopped within a few feet of my driver’s side window and sternly said, “I’m not going to hurt you. Turn your dome light on. Now.”
Hands shaking, I obeyed. GFGG checked my passenger seat. Then simply left. Once his beatmobile was gone, I slowly rolled up my window. Heart still thumping a mile a minute, I started the Focus back up. The entire way home, I kept asking myself, Dafuq just happened?!
Three days have passed since then, and I have a theory. I believe that GFGG lived in the neighborhood, saw me tailing him and assumed I meant him ill-will. He was probably some sort of…uh…Neighborhood Watch Hick. Or something. When he checked the back of my car, he was probably searching for weapons. What made him assume I was a threat? Well, it certainly wasn’t the Focus I was driving. But the fact that I flashed my brights at him from the start probably didn’t help matters.
All said, we were two scared-shitless men at midnight assuming the other was a danger. I can say this with a certainty, though, I won’t be getting lost in a rich neighborhood any time soon. Ghettos are safer.
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