I had a dream last night.
It was a nightmare.
I committed to something today. It took a lot of time and effort away from what I was supposed to be doing, which was studying for an English test, but it felt good anyway.
I had a dream last night that bothered me some. It was a nightmare, but it was different than normal. I wasn’t scared for me. I was scared for someone else. I didn’t know why. But I could see a face. I didn’t know who it was or what the setting was, but I thought I’d need to remember the face, so I decided to draw it.
It was a man, not old, not young. Not tall. Not short. Not heavy. Not thin. Not dark. Not light. Medium. Just medium in every way. The kind of face that blends into a crowd. The kind of person whose name always gets forgotten.
But I could see his face clearly. So I decided to draw it, so I wouldn’t forget it, as it would be easy to do. I drew a picture of him, and committed his face to memory so that maybe I’d notice him on the street or maybe something else would come to me.
I used a charcoal pencil and a piece of notebook paper that was supposed to have English notes on it. And I drew what I could remember. He didn’t look happy, but I wasn’t sure why. There wasn’t much else in my “viewfinder” but his face. Somewhere around lunch time, I had another flash and I could see more of him. I could see what he was wearing. It was a uniform of some kind. I filled in the picture as much as I could.
After school, I flashed again and I could see it clearly. He was a Forest Ranger and something bad was going to happen. I still didn’t know what, but I knew it was bad. So I got in my truck and I drove up into the Sandias, the only place I could think of that would employ a Forest Ranger around here.
I drove up near the ski area and I saw him. He was in his marked SUV by the side of the road doing some paperwork. I kept driving up to the ski area and waved at him as I passed. I stopped at the summit and got out to enjoy the view for a minute. As I was looking down over the valley, over Albuquerque, it hit me. There was an animal of some sort. He was injured and the Forest Ranger was approaching him. I’m not sure if he was going to try and help him or if he was just going to use his sidearm to put him out of his misery, but whatever the animal was, it got some sort of second wind or last gasp, and charged toward the Ranger. That’s where the vision stopped.
I walked back to my truck, unsure what to do. It was getting on toward dusk. I was the only one at the summit. I knew the Ranger would have to come up and make sure everyone was off the mountain before he drove back down and locked the gate. I drove downhill, off the summit, around a couple bends in the road. Then I pulled halfway over, a little crooked, toward the edge of the road.
I got a screwdriver out of the toolbox behind my seat. I walked to the rear tire and stuck the screwdriver in the sidewall. Then I used it to depress the fill valve and help drain the air faster, until it looked like a real flat tire. I laid underneath the bed and started taking the spare off its mount.
I heard tires on the pavement and gravel road as the Ranger pulled in ahead of me. The door to his SUV slammed and I heard his steel toed boots on the ground walking up beside my truck. “Looks like you’ve had a bit of trouble son,” he said.
I stuck my head out from under the truck and smiled. “Yeah, I must’ve run over something on the way up here.” He laughed a little and said, “I’m gonna run up to the summit and make sure everything’s square, then I’ll come back down and give you a hand on my way to lock up.”
I replied, “Oh hey, thanks! I’d appreciate that.” He walked back to the SUV, said something into the radio and then drove up past me, back the way I’d come. I started working on the tire, hoping that whatever bad thing was going to happen wouldn’t happen while he was at the summit.
As it turned out, I was going to really need his help. I couldn’t get one of the lug nuts off. I was still working on it when I heard his vehicle approaching again. As he pulled up behind me, I breathed a little sigh of relief. He could see that I was having trouble with the lug nut, so he took the tire iron from me and gave it a try himself. He looked much stronger than me. He finally got it loose and got the tire off. I handed him the spare and he held it in place while I started tightening the lugs.
We both heard a sound at the same time and looked at each other. It was downhill from us and it was a horrible screeching and growling and scuffling. Two rather large animals were obviously fighting. It went on for a couple of minutes with trees crashing and obvious cries of pain. Soon, it became clear that one was winning over the other, but the weaker one must have struck a good blow because, all of a sudden, the fighting sounds stopped and something went running off in the woods.
It was quiet for a second and then came this really sad and desperate whimpering. The Ranger looked at me, set his lips together and turned back to the tire. “Let’s get this done so I can go down there and see about that.”