I was driving down a mountain road following two cars. We were all evenly spaced from each other at a safe distance for the speed we were traveling. I drive that road a lot, so I was familiar with the turns and mindful of oncoming traffic. Intermittently I glanced out at the scenery. The tall pine trees, the fresh green meadows, some late wildflowers and the brilliant blue sky were far too tempting to ignore.
As I rounded a curve I was startled by what appeared to be an upright animal with a furry head and small horns. I stared at it as I drew closer, confused and unable to categorize such a creature.
Suddenly its head jerked forward and down, dislodging what I now realized was some type of buffalo headdress about a foot and a half tall. It fell off what was now clearly a man staggering into my lane. He caught the headdress just before it reached the pavement.
I immediately slowed as this large man stood up straight and extended his arms up and out to his sides. His head slowly raised toward the heavens. By now I was even with him and he stared at me with a wildness that unnerved me. I passed him slowly and watched in my rearview mirror as he moved unsteadily from the road to the shoulder. He was clutching a bottle of water in one hand, and the headpiece in the other.
It was a warm day, far too warm to be wearing a fur hat=piece and walking up a steep hill. I didn’t stop. I didn’t report it to anyone. I was frightened by his crazed stare and just wanted to put distance between us.
And now that I’m back home I find myself wondering what happened to him. Why was he dressed like that on such a hot day? Why was he walking into the road? Did he make it home safe? I feel like I failed him in some way.