The Gut Button


For this month’s writing topic, I am to write about anything related to the words “hair raising.” It doesn’t take me long to find my subject as immediately two things come to mind that are within the last decade of my memory bank.

Hair Raising

Twice I have felt “hair raising” fear.

You know the kind. Where the air gets thick, time slows down, your deathly silent, your heart echos in your ear and those little tingly hairs on the back of your neck raise. Your fight or flight button knows it’s about to be pressed. I heard if you take an emotion and tie it to an event, it burns in your memory. Well this charred.

This is my account of one of those experiences.

To start off, no physical harm took place.  In fact it wasn’t long ago at the supper table that my daughter brought up the memory – but for a different reason, travel sickness – a different gut button. We were talking about what it means to have a “gut” feeling or what intuition meant. So I elaborated on her story.

WHEN: June, 2011.

WHERE: Sea-To-Sky Highway. Just west of Lillooet, BC on our way to Whistler, BC for my son’s Canada West’s Spring Hockey Finals.

I can’t present factual recordable evidence on how I can be sure of what I experienced and how it had any bearing on reality – only by that of my “gut” feeling and from what I observed.  Something was “off” about the other’s demeanour.  Their body language and the situation didn’t add up. I knew deep in my bones that we were in danger by another human being. In fact, I ended up reporting it to the police at a time when I was able.

As to the first story, I’ll try to explain the scenario the best that I can.  Maybe its something that you had to be there to experience but I can fully assure you that these events are burned into my memory and I can still “see” it vividly simply because of the response it envoked within me.  The memory is not vague nor delusions nor moments of emotional irrationality. It was as if someone flicked a “sixth sense” switch on within me. I remember how their eyes stared straight at me, unblinking and intense, as they were assessing the situation themselves.

It was June 2011 and we were travelling from Edmonton AB to Whistler BC for my son’s last hockey tournament.  At the time he was playing for CANWEST Hockey Club based out of Edmonton and we were going to one last season ending tournament.  While most flew and then drove via Vancouver up the coast onto Whistler, we decided to take the Sea-to-Sky highway that cut SW from Cache Creek onto a little town called Lilloeet, and then continue on through to Whistler.

The drive was beautiful and the scenery was like nothing I’d seen before.  The road from Cache Creek to Lilloeet was curvy and steep  as it snaked its way towards the massive coastal mountains.  My ex husband was loving it as it proved to inspire a personal challenge as he attempted to see how our vehicle would “handle” the road.  We were driving a four door 2010 white Jeep Sahara. I had the usual death grip on the handles begging him to slow down as I glared at the road ahead – as if the power of my stare willed us to remain upright on the road and safe.  I didn’t even get to enjoy the scenery as I was less than impressed with the apparent challenge.  This very scene would be why my daughter remembers the trip well, as she protested the challenge in her own way when she puked in the back seat finally putting an ended to the insanity.

Soon we were in Lilloeet and we stopped for gas grabbing some munchies as we were about to enter the very secluded and very curvy back alley highway, taking us up and through these massive coastal mountains onto Whistler – much like when  The Fellowship took the Pass of Caradhras, but when it didn’t work out, they ended up taking the route through Moria – only we were told to expect a breathtaking  drive. (I feel the need to disuade anyone from coming to the conclusion that I’m some major “fellowship” follower in using this reference. I enjoyed the movies and that’s about were my appreciation ends. Nevermind the fact I now have three posts with Fellowship referencing 🤔)

Google Map of Lilloee

As we meandered our way through the small town, crossed over the river on the bridge and started to wind up the mountain, the paved road became claustrophobic as trees dense with foliage began began narrowing the path.

It wasn’t long after, maybe 10 minutes or even less of climbing up the steep grade of the mountain, when I  could see a station wagon pulled over on the wrong side of the road, facing us. You know the kind the Griswald’s drove on their Christmas vacation. The hood was propped up and there were two men dressed in the usual lower mainland garb – a cross between grunge, hippie-wanna-be, and surfer envoking the spirit of Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure.

SIDE NOTE –  As   a trainer – my profession at the time – we were educated and trained to “see” inside our clients bodies, the movement mechanics, their ranges of motion, and asses areas of restricted movement, weakness or physical ability.  After a while,  a person starts to naturally watch everyone around them and how they move all while making quick visual assessments.  It comes naturally with the nature of the job.

Back to the story…..

We are quickly approaching this vehicle so my ex begins to slow down, as if to stop to see if they need help.  It was during this brief  time, I saw one of the men – the blonde one – look straight at us, mention something to the other guy and quickly reach through the passenger side opened  window.  He had grabbed something off the seat, pull his arm quickly behind him and stand straight up, very stiff like – very unnatural, in movement.

From the split second moments that it took for us to reach them, and from my curiosity of watching that man duck in quickly, was all it took to make my warning buttons go off. I started my usual assessment of his body movements. He was off.

We approach.

My ex started to roll down my passenger window, and as a quick reaction responding to my spider senses, I slammed down my hand on the switch and stopped the window. I looked at my ex with that death stare as if to say “WTF are you doing?”  – which confused him and annoyed him at the same time. The window ended up being opened about 6 or 8 inches or so, enough to allow for conversation.

As we were nearing our last few feet, closing the guy, I could see the man who grabbed something through the window correct his movements, or adjust to accommodate our line of sight, as if to conceal what he had in his hand. His hand remained behind him the whole time, as if someone where holding a cigarette away from others to avoid smoke blowing their direction. I did see something small and black that was bigger than his palm as he did this.  It wasn’t a wallet.  It wasn’t a cellphone.  It was something he didn’t want us to see and he was hiding it as his arm was not in a natural position. His movement was constricted and forced.  His body was tense. He didn’t flow naturally.

He was hiding something and he could see in my eyes that I knew it. During the whole interaction, he stared straight at me, and I him. We shared time and space together.

The other guy, who initially approached us, was the talkative one.  He had longish dark hair, teal v-neck t-shirt, a pock marked face and was being “friendly” with my ex.  My ex naturally asked if they needed help.  They declined and said that they needed some part for the engine – I didn’t pay attention to that fact.  I️ was focused on the blonde man. The one with the thing in his hand. The dark haired guy leans foreword, looks through my window to see what we had in the back seats, which of course were my 9 year old son and 7 year old daughter.  When he saw my kids, I could see his hand that was down by his side signal his buddy like a little flick of the fingers as if to say back off. The blonde man sees that I  saw this signal.

I can not explain the heaviness I felt.  It was like my heart beat became very concentrated – I could hear it ring in my ears and everything was going in slow motion as I was hyper sensitive to movement and watching the blonde man’s eyes. He looked at me and I looked at him. The hair stood on the back of my neck and I knew that whatever these men were up to, it was not good. Besides, it made no sense, the grade of the mountain was quite significant and they were facing down the mountain.  Why didn’t they put the car in neutral and coast down the hill right to town.

It was all wrong.

My ex satisfied was satisfied that he did his due diligence, smiled and waved, put the jeep into gear and continued onto the left side moving past them, holding onto the last possible second to which I could break my exchange, from staring him in the eyes, to staring at him in the side mirror, until he disappeared all together behind us.

When we were a safe distance away, I told my ex there is something wrong with that scene. Those men were up to no good.  He dismissed my comment and told me I was “seeing things.” Just as the words left his mouth, two people emerged from the bush and stepped onto the road almost right into the path of the Jeep.  One had a cut on his forehead and they were dirty as if they were rolling on the ground. They were clothed much like the other two, the same ages and started walking in the direction of the broken down car we had just passed. We had startled them.

As we drove by, they looked at us and we looked at them. Again, odd.

I had told Tyler to give me the cell phone as I was calling the police, but as I opened it I noticed we didn’t have service and we were not going to make our way back, pass them again and head to town to report them. So I had to wait a while for cell service.

Maybe to another it is nothing. But for me, that is how I remember it like it was yesterday.

One thought on “The Gut Button

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