So there I was, pacing around my bent bicycle and arguing with myself over whether I was seriously hurt or simply inconvenienced.
At times, I was sure I was fine. I was using both hands pretty freely, going so far as to make a couple of attempts to twist the front wheel back into position so I could ride away. At other times, a kind of nauseated, panicky feeling kept rising up, telling me something was very wrong.
The thoughts that come into your head at these times can be very strange. At one point, I looked down the access road and thought how nice it would be to sit and watch the river for a while. At another, I noticed a huge flight of cedar waxwings and made a note to tell Jan about them when she arrived. In between these moments, the memory of why I was standing there would return, like a hot flush over my cheeks.
All the while, I was aware that my senses were kind of overloaded and that things were, well, a bit weird.
So at first, it didn't strike me as odd that a pale German shepherd was trotting through the brush by itself. It was perhaps 50 yards away and I noticed a woman with a jogging stroller another 20 yards or so past him. That's her dog, I figured... she should have him on a leash.
Then I saw the woman stop in her tracks, look at the creature and turn on her heel. She sped the stroller back down the trail much quicker than she'd arrived. That's when I saw the shepherd's partner, or to my eye, identical twin. And then I became aware of the pair's funny, slinking gait.
The front of my brain said there was no way these could be coyotes. They were simply too big. The back of my brain -- the part that kept trying to get the attention of the idiot who thought he was going to climb back on his bike in a second and ride off -- said they were coyotes, freakishly large coyotes. Or, more to the point, predators. Predators who were about to cross paths with an injured bi-ped.
The argument in my head found a higher gear:
They're more scared of me than I am of them, right? Of course they are. They won't come anywhere near me. Except they kind of are getting closer. I'll just stand up really tall and wave my hands over my head... wait, I think that's for mountain lions. And I don't think I can really raise my right arm, come to think of it. I read somewhere about putting your bike between you and an attacking dog. But these aren't dogs. And do I want to rely on advice from a biking blog? It was probably written by some fixed-gear hippie who knows f- all about dogs. And less about giant coyotes.
The two beasts trotted in a diagonal line across my path. Fortunately, they seemed to be heading across the access road and into another swath of brush along the trail. They weren't going to attack after all. I had been silly to even consider...
Wait. Shit. He's coming this way. That's pretty close. That's like 20 yards. Where's the bike again? How'd I get that far from the bike? That was dumb. I'll just discreetly step over toward it... He's stopping. He's looking at me.
He stood in the middle of the access road and considered me for a moment. Then he made his move.
His move was not a sprint or a lunge, but a squat. Right there in the middle of the road -- maintaining eye contact, mind you -- the beast did his beastly business, leaving an impressive pile on the solid yellow lines. Then he trotted off into the brush.
Now, I am not a shaman or a mystic, but I know a horrible omen when I see one. And as omens go, this has to be one of the all-time worst. I'm pretty sure that when Mother Nature wants to really give you the finger, she sends a giant coyote to come and stare you down while it takes a dump. It's her way of saying, "you're not in town now, smart boy... you're not in charge of anything out here."
There and then, the argument in my head was over. I was hurt. I needed help and I was going to take it.
(coming soon... Part Three -- Diagnosis, Denouement and Lessons Learned)