Anything I write that has to do with writing will be in From Pico's Pen, my author's blog. Everything that doesn't fit any of the sites I write on will be here. This is my practice. I could have kept it private and farmed out the good stuff but I found my readers like too much of it to do that. It isn't a diary because there are things I keep to myself but you can learn a great deal about me from the randomness you will find here.

Monday, 11 January 2016

How I Got My Hangman's Scar

Dry summer day in ranch country dawned and I was ready to continue cycling toward home. Spent the night camping on the edge of someone's field where there was little risk of rolling over into a cowpat. In this part of the United States, I hadn't run into trouble with anyone pitching camp like that, so I was expecting a boring day.

A short while after eating my breakfast, once I'd gotten a good rhythm going with my pedals, a beat up old pickup truck approached from behind, kicking up a cloud of dust as it went. It drove by slowly so that the local rednecks inside could get a good look at me. Long distance bicycle tourists attract some odd attention sometimes so I didn't think anything of it. Just gave them and their German shepherd a friendly nod of greeting.

They pulled on ahead a ways before stopping and turning the truck to block my path. This was starting to get weird. The two men got out of the truck. One of them had a rifle and ordered me to stop. I did as I was told and they slowly approached keeping the gun trained on me. The dog glared at me, walking a step behind his master.

“Where were you last night, boy?”

“Just riding through. I camped alongside the road for the night.”

“Last night about ten head from my herd disappeared. You know anything about that?”

“No. I'm riding a bicycle. How could I?”

“Clyde here says he saw you last night except you were riding a horse. Know what we do with cattle rustlers here?”

“This is crazy...”

Clyde went back to the truck to retrieve a coil of rope and on his way back started fashioning a noose. I was panicking and tried to slowly back away from the scene.

“Don't even think about running, boy! I won't need much of an excuse to put a bullet in you!”

I waited shaking like a leaf. Trying to reason with them. Begging them. Clyde slipped his noose around my neck and tightened it up to the point that it was hard to breathe. The marched me off toward a nearby tree. The dog growled at me the whole time.

“This'll do just fine. Throw the rope up over that branch. He'll swing well from there.”

They were in the process of hauling me off the ground when a couple of their friends arrived and told them they had the wrong guy. The sheriff had caught the real rustlers about twenty minutes earlier. They heard the news over their two-way radio. Lucky me. They let go of the rope and I fell to the ground. Thought I was going to strangle to death anyway before they managed to loosen the noose up enough to get it back off of me. As I gulped in great lung fulls of air, they gave me a brief apology and wished me a safe trip. Then they just left. Rope burn on my neck there burned like the dickens for a couple of days.

This isn't really how I got that scar but it sounds a lot more exciting than what really happened.

In reality, I got home from work one day to find that our free-range Muscovy ducks had decided to take over the chicken house. I chased all the drakes out but Petunia the hen flew up to some old pigeon nesting boxes. When I reached for her, she panicked. Muscovies have really long claws on their webbed feet and she scratched me but good across the neck. It was just a scratch. I still find it hard to believe it left that much of a visible scar.

In the photo, I'm trying to sneer for effect but I look more like I've suffering some dreadful pain. We had a lot of trouble getting the lighting right for the scar and that was the best shot in the bunch. I got tired of posing and Francine got tired of snapping pictures.

Incidentally, I did a lot of cycling in the USA and never encountered anything like that. I found Americans by and large friendly and hospitable. They aren't the gun wielding lunatics everybody keeps seeing on the news.