I wasn't really very nice when I confronted Shattsworth about making me feed him while he sat on a stockpile of tasty grub. He was apologetic and offered to cook dinner. He said he'd bring it to my camp, a statement I found suspicious in the following days. I took Maya back to my camp and fed her the fish. If I gave her two fish, she would eat them whole. When I gave her more than that, she would only eat the heads, saving the rest for later. This led me to believe there is something good in fish heads that dogs know about.
We had beef stew, mashed potatoes, green beans, and red cool aid. Ah, flavors. Jeff kept yammering about the beans and the correct way to accent the words. “Do you say GREEN beans, of green BEANS.” Throughout the meal he kept saying it in different ways. After dinner he tossed me a twinkie. It had been a long time since I had eaten like that and it was almost worth it to have been fishing for him.
Then he started asking if I'd eat Maya if I was hungry, or if I'd eat people. Then he told me he had a 14 year old girl tied up in his van, and quickly said he was kidding. I made him show me. There was something really wrong with this dude. There was a story here, lurking behind his weaselly persona. I was very curious to learn what his deal was. Was he hiding like me? Was he dangerous, or just damaged?
I asked if he'd ever been to jail. He said he spent the last couple of years until he was eighteen in kiddie prison in Indiana. He related that when he got out, he split for Arizona. We shared jail stories. His were mostly about smearing shit on the walls of his cell and throwing balls of it at the guards. He refused to tell me what he had done to get locked up.
He pulled out a bong and while I scraped the resin out to smoke he told me again how he would make it up to me someday for helping him and for smoking all his stash alone in the van. He said without me he'd probably be dead. While he was being amenable, I enlisted an agreement from him to help me move camp the next morning. Alone, I would have to make two trips.
My plan was to move to the south end of the lake temporarily, to organize and prepare to continue my journey and ditch the nutcase. The Tonto Forest had reopened when the rain came. I had no more excuses to remain at Bear Canyon. West on the rim road, just past the fire tower, was a little known path dropping down to Tonto Creek called the See Canyon Trail. Mike, the watcher in the tower, had told me it was the best kept secret on the Rim and the fastest way down. It would save me a long waterless hike back to the Washington Trail I had originally planned to use to descend.
I figured I'd ditch Shatts for the south of the lake for a day or two, then move to the trail head. From there, I would move to the Highline Trail halfway down, and on to Tonto Creek and southward. It would be warmer on the Tonto, and I could kill some time there on the way down to Roosevelt Lake. It would be a couple of months before it cooled off to a comfortable temperature at Roosevelt. The creek was known to be a good trout stream in the north, hopefully it would provide other options in the south. Where there is water, there is food.
As we were discussing my plans, a guy drove up and asked if we could give him a hand with his camper. He had a hard sided pop up, and the gears had stripped and he needed help holding it up while he released the supports so It wouldn't jam crashing down. We happily complied and he gave us a few beers and a tub of macaroni salad. He said to eat the salad soon, as it had been in his cooler a few days. He said by soon he meant now.
He was another odd one, and from Indiana like myself and Jeff. He kept remarking on the size of Maya's genitals and teats. Jeff asked him for a ride to Payson and back, which he of course declined, but was able to use a pair of needle nose pliers I had and crimp the leak in Jeff's radiator. It was while he was doing this that I learned how the radiator was damaged.
Shattsworth had chosen to replace the mechanical fan on his water pump with an electric fan mounted to the radiator. He scavenged the fan at a junk yard and it didn't fit right so he held it in place with zip ties. On the way up the highway, the zip ties melted and the fan cut his radiator. With the temporary mend, Jeff should be able to make it to Payson. He opted to stick around, fearful to drive with the jankity repair.
The next morning I packed up my camp and true to his word, he helped me move to the south of the lake. On the way there I was startled by a snake I almost stepped on that had two heads and let out a girlie scream that Shattswell thought was tremendously funny. He kept saying he couldn't believe that Mike West, the great outdoorsman was scared of a little snake. I wasn't scared, it startled me. AND IT HAD TWO HEADS! It was just a garter snake. It had a red stripe along it's side and the two heads forked out from the body about three or four inches back. It was probably only about sixteen or eighteen inches long.
Shattsworth left me at my new camp, and I was relieved to be rid of him. That evening, after I had set up, four high school aged boys came and camped right across from me. They were up all night hollering and drinking and playing poker. They had a sex doll propped up at a camp table where they played. Occasionally, they shouted rude things at me across from their camp. They were naked and I couldn't tell if they were simulating sex acts with the doll or actually doing it. I didn't sleep until they left in the morning, and of course they left a mess for me to clean up. They also left an oil lamp hanging in a tree. Score!
I woke that afternoon with gut wrenching cramps. I threw up until I was empty and then dry heaved for a while. I tried to drink some water but repeated the cycle of vomiting and heaving. I thought I would turn myself inside out. The spasms didn't subside for days and I had a splitting headache. I thought I might die. It was a good thing I had water and dog food, because I couldn't have fished or fetched water. I wondered if the macaroni salad was bad, but thought it more likely that Shattsworth poisoned me with bad water or shit in the stew. Looking back, I wasn't there when he cooked the meal and plated it. I remembered how he sent me away while he cooked and that remark about "hamburger" in his cooler, and all those other stories he had told me about his vengeful and fecal loving nature.
On the morning of the second day I heard somebody poking through my camp and looked out to see him there. I asked if he was sick, and he wasn't. That ruled out the macaroni salad. I asked if he fed me untreated water in the Kool Aid and he denied that too. I told him I knew he did something and he should be glad I was doubled over in agony, or I'd kick his ass. In my delirium I may have told him I'd kill him if he was still in the forest when I got better. He looked guilty, but he always looked guilty.
After he left, I was lucid enough to remember the benadryl in my first aid stash. The next day I was able to keep some water down. By evening I felt much better, but weak. On the fourth day after I fell ill, Maya and I hiked to the north side of the lake to interrogate Shattsworth some more and see if he needed his ass kicked.
We crested the hill above the lake just in time to see an LEO truck, with the cop lights flashing, disappear down Forest road 89. Shattsworth was gone. I wondered if he was arrested. I didn't figure I would ever know, I couldn't really just walk up to a ranger and ask. I returned to camp relieved, but I didn't know I hadn't seen the last of Shattsworth.