Now I know I complain a lot about my job. It sucks, I’m lonely, it’s unforgiving and thankless, bleebleebloo. But today was AWESOME.
I did a story with Fish and Game last week about this thing called Chronic Wasting Disease, and today got a call from them asking if I’d be at one of their check stations. “Nah,” I said, “There’s so much stuff jacked up stuff going on Pokey today! Two hit and runs, man!” (Seriously, there were two last night. One involved Grand Theft Auto. WTF Middle America.)
“Oh yeah, and those two dead bodies!” said my good friend Toby over at F&G.
“Buhhh… Whatdeadbodies,” me.
“Oh god, I probably shouldn’t tell you this,” Toby.
Cut to a half an hour later, and I’ve got the camera slung around my neck, my tripod over my right shoulder like a boombox circa Malibu 1994, and my wireless mic in hand looking up at a half mile of the steepest dirt road I’ve ever seen in my life. In high school, I used to run sprints up what I thought was a really steep hill beside my house. Halfway up this one, I stopped, panting, sweating, heart crying out in desperation, in front of a truckload of hunters lounging on the hood of their F150. “Girlie, you got a long ways to go!”
Minutes later, I got a call from F&G Toby:
“You sound like you’re gonna die!”
“Toby…*gasp* you shut… *gasp* your fat mouth… this is awful.”
“Hahahaha. You need to get in shape, Girlie!”
Never-you-mind the overuse of the epithet “Girlie” (did I have pigtails in today?) this really was the one moment in my life when I was sure my heart would explode. Clearly I am either not entirely acclimated to the high elevation, or entirely too acclimated to refried bean tacos.
Cop cars and body bags were waiting for me when I got to the top, and I said, probably a little too loudly, “Is this the place where people go to die? Because I feel like I’m about to.” Someone snickered, but I sank into my boots a little when the body bags passed me.
On the way back down, I caught a ride with the county sheriff, and he gave me the sound bite I needed at the bottom of the hill. I crunched out three crazy stories: a hit and run, the GTA, and the bodies, went live, went home and put in all online for everyone to know about. And then I made some refried bean tacos.
At the top of the hill, one of the detectives pointed me in the direction of the car that had tumbled down it about a week ago, the crash killing its two passengers. We were on the crest of the next hill over, and from there, the car was just a speck of red on the yellow and green hillside. It’s no wonder no one found it for six days—hunting season hadn’t started until this weekend, and if you weren’t up there for a deer, you weren’t up there at all. It was an invisible crash, folded into the landscape like that fallen tree no one’s supposed to hear.
It wasn’t on the scanners, it wasn’t on the police logs. The detectives were keeping it quiet until they could find out more, and by some weird stroke of luck I heard about it. And so did everyone. I didn’t pull the bodies from their silent graves, but I ran to the top of the mountain to tell everyone about it. I guess I’m supposed to feel proud about doing this whole thing, and I do, but I can’t help feeling like I had way more control today than I ever should.