My non-festive feelings about the holiday once led me, my partner, and another couple to go camping in Big Sur for that year's Pilgrims vs. Indians game. I convinced the others that it beat cooking the big fat turkey and the big fat fixings, and then sitting around the living room feeling bigfat as we fought to stay awake, drooling.
At one of the three car-camp sites, there were some men who looked like they'd come out of the dust bowl. Grapes of Wrath types. Their faces were creased from worry and sun, and their clothes were nondescript in the way that you'd never remember them if a police witness statement ever came up. (One had greenish-blue gray pants and a grayish blue-green shirt, Officer. ) These "campers" didn't do much—just sat around the campsite, playing cards and smoking cigarettes. No tent, they seemed to survive out of a huge worn-out Lincoln sedan, packed with all sorts of things but not necessarily for camping. What were they doing there on Thanksgiving? What were they doing at all?
The second site was ours. Four women, in their 30s–40s, we looked like a sit-com version of ourselves camping. We'd driven down Pacific Coast Highway for less than an hour from where we lived—Monterey/Carmel. Our lives were beautiful, and we had all the best camping clothes and equipment. We were a catalog ad, all set to build controlled fires, cook planned meals, and sleep in roomy tents. Sing along! If you're happy and you know it . . .
Anyway, the dude. Notably skeevy, in attire completely ill-suited for camping. He ghosted around Bottcher's Gap all day in a kind of overall. (Someone slip this guy a Bean's catalog.)
In a hushed voice, I started working up a story for my friends that this guy could be the Zodiac Killer. That's what he seemed like. Serial killer "actions," Zodiac's strange M.O., psychopath with flair, now on haitus, camping all by himself at Thanksgiving. We were just a few hours from San Francisco.
When we turned in that night, we saw he was at it again: He stood among the trees, staring out at the wilderness. And this time, he had on night-vision goggles.