Just over a year since my exile, and I found myself living at one of my favorite places on the whole planet. Big Cat Mountain was the place I had climbed with Lucky Tailor, passing the crosses of those who did not make it along the way. It's the place where The Professor and I saw the Woolly Saber Toothed Coyote. It was also the stomping grounds of the famous bandit El Gato and his legendary treasure. On the map of places sacred to me, this one is prominent.
My wife and I had traced the travels of Casteneda to this desert,
and believed we had found the restaurant where he and Gorda worked,
losing their personal importance. Losing one's personal importance
isn't very good for a marriage. We were thinking about doing
something different. She had already had to spend a few months in Key
West to escape my folly. Then I had an encounter that brought me on
board to her desire to move into town and leave my beautiful desert.
We lived in a trailer behind the restaurant, along with about four
other trailers, all housing employees of the restaurant and other
associated businesses like the general store and video rental. There
was one wealthy retiree in the very back. I was Robert then, and the
trailer behind us housed a guy named Robert as well and his wife. He
washed dishes at a steakhouse down the road. His wife was a waitress
with my wife at the Greek place where I cooked breakfast.
I was working stone on the side back then, as a lapidary, and
incorporating the stone in sculpture and jewelry. On Tuesdays, I
would hike through the lower Tucson Mountains along an old stage
coach route into Tucson, where I would ply my wares. I had a route
through the downtown where I left things on consignment and picked up
money and custom orders each week. On my way home, I would cut
through the town of South Tucson and purchase my grass for the week.
I would return by hitch hiking the old Ajo Highway, rather than cross
the remote mountain trails, populated by all manner of rattlesnake
and large cat, at night. I would have my sales cases with me, and
occasionally drummed up additional business from the people who gave
One of my best accounts in town was a new age shop. I had a place
near the Mexican border where I was mining Selenite crystals with
muddy inclusions. I worked these into wands and stone blades with
cactus wood handles and leather trim.
On a fateful Monday, My wife was working, and I took Robert for a
hike up Big Cat Mountain and told him about my history there and
about El Gato. To my surprise, although he had lived behind the
restaurant for over a year, he had not explored the area or hiked the
desert at all. He had a banner day, and expressed that to me before
he went to work that night. I went in to my house and smoked a joint
and watched a couple of episodes of Doug on Nick at Night.
After resting from the morning's climb, and having lunch with the
wife, I strapped my machete on and headed out to find some Cholla
Cactus wood for the order I had to fill for the new age shop this
week. I was maybe five steps from my front door when a white pickup
came thundering into the lot and stopped nearest my trailer.
At first I assumed it was somebody I had hitched a ride with,
coming to check out my stock. Maybe I was going to make a sale.
Neither the wife or I socialized of even had any contact with people
outside of the restaurant and the five trailers behind it. Then the
door opened and had an insignia on it and the words “Fugitive
Recovery”. Before I could even think a dude rolled out in a crazy
movie sideways somersault and came up with a big freaking gun pointed
at me. “Drop the weapon!” he shouted. He was maybe fifty feet
This was the early days of my fugitivity, when I never went to
sleep without an escape plan. I was hyper paranoid anyway, and
expecting something like this. Subsequently, I never carried weapons,
for fear of going down in a hail of gunfire from some overzealous
bounty hunter. I was confused. I said “I don't have any weapons!”.
He told me to lose the machete. I told him it was a tool, not a
weapon, as I lowered it carefully to the ground. He charged me, and
with his gun to my head he rushed me the twenty feet or so to my
trailer and sandwiched my head between his pistol and the front door.
He said “Robert Mortimer, you are under arrest for evading
prosecution (so far so good, but Mortimer? I was Robert Weaver) in
Kansas on a charge of burglarizing a pharmacy.”
Well shit, I have only just passed through Kansas. I delivered a
few pounds of grass and mushrooms to a motel in Topeka, but certainly
had not burglarized a pharmacy. I told him this, with his gun in my
temple, leaving out the part about Topeka. “And who the hell is
Mortimer? I am Robert Weaver!” “You better have ID”, he
I yelled in to my wife to find my ID. She, of course, told me to
get it myself. Still with a gun to my temple, I explained the
situation. She soon appeared with my fake swap meet ID claiming I was
Robert Weaver. The officer called in my fake social security number
and it came up clean. Then he noticed my trailer number was one and
he was looking for trailer two. He said “I need to use your house”,
and lowered his gun and hastily entered my living room.
I followed. I had left a half ounce of pot in a baggie on the
coffee table. As he walked past it to the opposing window, I reached
down and batted it onto the floor. Without even turning around he
said “I'm not even worried about that”. Then he noticed the
number two on the door of the neighboring trailer and rushed off to
terrorize the other Robert's wife. She took him to Robert's job where
he was arrested for the pharmacy job in Kansas.
The next day she knocked on my door and told me Robert was on the
phone and wanted to talk to me. I went to her trailer and he told me
the story of how he was paid to lower himself from the skylight at a
Kansas pharmacy and steal Dilautids, and he left fingerprints. He
said our hike was the best thing that happened to him since he fled
and that ultimately it was his wife who turned him in. “It's always
a woman that gets you caught” he warned me (although he didn't know
how close to his situation I was). He gave me his reclining heated
massage chair. I loved that chair. His wife immediately moved in with
a wealthy retiree she had been cleaning house for.
I couldn't live there anymore, of course. The wife would have her
way and we would eventually move back to the city.