Leadville

Downtown Leadville
He must have weighed over 250 pounds, dirty jeans, cut off sleeves showing tattoos on his biceps that looked bigger than my legs, mustache and goatee, dirty boots, and a bandanna wrapped over his head with dirty long stringy hair hanging out the sides.  He was pointing his finger at my son, Adam, and was closing the distance between them like he wanted to rip his head off, yelling a bunch of expletives.
 
I thought: “This could get bad.”
 
Adam had never backed down from the time he was two, when I tried to control his behavioral outbursts, to when a gang of Mexicans tried to kill him for dating one of their girls, to a recent poker game that went bad and his friend broke his leg and ripped apart ever ligament in his ankle. Some may could call it a defect, others called him crazy, but whatever you called it, he never, ever, backed down, even if it was the wisest thing to do.
 
I saw people on the sidewalk stopped to star and point.  One woman put her hand to her mouth in shock. Traffic had stopped. Adam’s jeep was parked sideways across the road in front of the rusty, dirty, Ford F150, 4×4, like a cop would to stop a fleeing criminal.   Time seamed to slow down.  What earlier was nothing more than but two drivers yelling at each other over some minor misunderstanding, was now going to turn ugly.
 
Very ugly.
 
I felt my belt for the knife I had strapped to me earlier that day.  We had parked along the curb in front of a gift shop, on Harrison Ave after pulling out onto Leadville’s only main street.  We had given up trying to find a place to eat. The Silver Dollar Saloon would not let kids in, and the other place that allowed kids wouldn’t let dogs in.  We couldn’t leave two huskies tied up in the back of the Honda Ridgeline in the sun while we ate. 
 
Eric, my oldest son, was driving the Ridgeline and he had just pulled out onto Harrison Ave, turning left to go back to Denver.  He had to wait for traffic to clear and when it did, he pulled out slowly so Adam and Siona’s dogs would not get thrown around in the back.
 
Johanna and I were in the back seat and heard the squealing of tires.  We both looked back to see a F150 pickup pull out from a parking lot about a quarter mile behind us.
 
We were all tried from the late night, cold, sleepless camping, a 4:30 am wake up call, and a long aborted hike up Mt. Huron. We all were slightly disappointed that we didn’t make it up the 14,003 ft peak, but we had a good time never the less, It was the first time we had all hiked as a family. 
 
When we arrived in Leadville, we looked forward to getting something to eat besides power bars, and something to drink besides water. We just wanted to sit and rest a while. But since we couldn’t decide on where to eat, Adam, who is most affected with the effects of not eating, had done one of his famous Stubborn Declarations: “Fuck it! I’m going back to Denver! If you are riding with me, you better get going.”
 
We had all seen this behavior before and knew there was no reasoning with him.  As much as we wanted to yell reason into him, it was best to leave him along and not challenge him.
 
So, cussing him out under our breaths, Johanna, Eric, Carol and I piled into the Ridgeline with the dogs still tide up in back bed.  Adam, Chris and Summer headed toward the Jeep trailing behind Adam. And Siona and her son headed back to her Civic.
 
The F150 truck had sped up until it was right behind us and the driver laid on his breaks and horn.  Eric, mumbled: “What the fuck?” .
 
Eric then pulled over to curb to park so Siona and Adam could fall in behind us and we could caravan back to Denver.  We thought the pickup would pass by. 
 
It didn’t. 

I didn’t know this until later, but when the truck driver had laid on his horn, Carol, whose hand was resting out the passenger side window, had, very nonchalantly,  give the F150 driver the middle finger.  We all missed that action, but the F150 driver must had not missed it. 
 
The F150 pulled up next to the Ridgeline,  The driver rolled down the passenger side window. 
 
Eric, rolled down the Ridgeline driver side window. 
 
“What the FUCK you doing, pulling out in front of me like that?” yelled the F150 driver. 
 
“Dude!, You were way behind me and you sped up then slammed on your breaks”, returned Eric.
 
It was then that a yellow streak of Adam’s Wrangler came around the F150, locking up all four wheels to end sideways in front of the F150.  Those on the boardwalk next to us stopped and stared.
 
Adam, came busting out of his Jeep and yelling: ‘Hey! That’s my family you almost fucking killed!”
 
It was then that the driver got out of his F150 and started toward Adam. He was big.  He looked like he cut trees for a living, drove a Harley on the weekends, and spit nails for fun.  He was pissed and was redirecting his anger from Eric and the woman who gave him the finger to this idiot with a Jeep, standing in main street, cussing him out.
 
It is funny the thoughts that go through one’s head just before a major trauma is about to happen. I though, that wooden sidewalk about three feet up next to us reminds me of the old cowboy movies where the bad guys are terrorizing the town and a single guy in a white hat steps out to take them on. 
 
I opened my rear door of the Rdgeline, mumbling to myself: “I’m getting too old for this.”
 
It was then that I saw Summer open the passenger side door of the Jeep and reached in to do something with the seat. I thought: “Why is she getting out, she certainty isn’t going  rumble with this dude, or maybe she is getting a tire iron.” Then I remember that Chris was in the back seat.  He defends his brother like a mama bear defends her cubs.
 
Then I heard Johanna’s rear door open and as she started to come around the Ridgeline.
 
Eric’s driver’s side door opened. 
 
Time appeared to stop. Nobody said a word. Traffic stopped.  People stared.
 
The F150 dude looked at the us standing outside the Ridgeline,. He then looked at the Jeep seeing somebody desperately trying to get out of the back seat, and Adam standing definitely in the middle of main street.
 
He must of thought: “seven to one?”.  Having more sense than all of us, he turned and walked back to his truck. 
 
As he positioned himself into his seat, I saw Adam get into his Jeep.
 
Adam popped the clutch, the jeep jerked twice, all four tires squealed and  as Summer was shutting the door. it took off.  Chris had never made it out of the back seat. 
 
As we got back into the Ridgeline, the F150 pulled away behind Adam’s Jeep. 
 
Eric pulled out behind the F150.  
 
Adrenalin was still pumping through my veins.
 
I thought sacristy, “Good, we avoided the rumble, now we are doing road rage.”
 
But within the next block, as Adam went straight, the truck turned right.  We continued straight to pull in behind Adam.
 
There was a moment of worry that the F150 driver knew some short cut and was going to come creaming out of a side street to t-bone either Adam’s Jeep or our Ridgeline.
 
It didn’t happen.  
 
About a quarter mile later Adam pulled into a gas station and we pulled in as well. I got out of the Ridgeline and walked up to Adam who was sitting in his Jeep at the gas pump.  He looked like he did when he was little and knew I was going to yell at him.
 
I said; ”That was great! That was the best think I have seen in a long time”
 
“What do you mean?” he asked.
 
“You didn’t see that? Everybody was coming to your rescue. Even Johanna got out of the truck. You were NOT going to rumble with that dude alone.”
 
The concern vanished from his face, and he smiled; “Really? My 70 year old Dad and my youngest sister were not going to let me take that guy on by myself?”
 
“Yep. You were not alone.”
 
Leadville will continue to be the same small town it has been for years, the highest town in the US, locals in pickup trucks driving down main street, and weekend hikers looking for places to eat and go over their memories of hiking the nearby mountains.
 
The Wilbur’s may remember their attempt to hike up Huron Peak,  But the best memory is what happened in downtown Leadville.
 
Never forget Leadville.