I don’t usually pickup male hitch-hikers, but stopped when I recognised this one. Clyde is a long-time friend and colleague. He came out of retirement recently, having outlived his money. It didn’t help that he made some very risky and as it turned out poorly timed investments in MSIL, Enron, and others. For the kind of money we make, it doesn’t pay to gamble in high risk vehicles. At some point, we need to retire and disappear.
Travelling the road to LA, we chat about old times, good times, and times yet to come. New weapons, favourite techniques, and who works for whom are among the topics of discussion. Before I ask, Clyde tells me the reason he was hitch-hiking; his rented Mercedes SLS, rented with a fake credit card, broke down. Obviously, he couldn’t call the motor club, so he figured he’d just “disappear” the driver of the next car to pick him up.
Clyde had just completed a job in the High Sierras. Hired by some environmentalist wacko group to poach some poachers hunting endangered species on protected land. Using his connections with the NSA, Clyde obtained thermal imaging of the area. His hunch proved right when the hotspot on the pictures pointed right to the hunter’s pop-up camper. How they managed to drag that thing as deep into the woods as they did was quite a mystery.
The camper’s canvas side-roofs were well intact and a built-in propane stove heater provided plenty of warmth during the cold mountain nights. While the poachers were afield, Clyde made a few improvements to their camper. He coated the canvas with thermite paint. He then removed the pressure regulator and thermostat from the propane stove heater. After swiping some eagle jerky, he crept back to his hiding spot to wait for evening.
The hunters returned just at sundown. A long day and very little to show for it. Each man bragging about the one that got away, but all acutely aware that something was amiss. Clyde sprayed mountain lion musk throughout the woods, to insure overly successful hunters returning early would not catch him. Clyde listened as the hunters ate their peregrine falcon egg omelettes and talked about moving camp to the game preserve.
Shortly after the hunters retired to their camper, Clyde watched from his mountainside perch the stove as it began to glow cherry red. Someone in the camper told someone else to turn down the stove, but before he could finish the sentence, the whole camper burst into flames in a loud foomp! Twin fireballs lifted into the sky, and then all was silent. The four-legged predators had a bar-b-q feast that night.
I dropped Clyde off in Burbank, California. I mentioned the get together I was heading to, but he was in a hurry to boost another car and get to a job waiting for him in Mexico City.