Escape from Tucson: Day 2 – Thursday (late afternoon)
I am for sure going to hold up here tonight and through the day tomorrow as well. I will top-off my water tomorrow afternoon and as soon as the sun dips I will keep heading east. It’s fifteen miles to Benson, Arizona and I am a little worried about it. The tracks go straight through town and then split, one set of tracks goes south to Naco, Arizona. Benson only has about 5,000 people. But, it could be kind of a rough town since it is a railroad town. I hope that going through at night will be a good enough plan, I really don’t have a Plan B. But, I will also have to figure out how to cross the San Pedro River as well.
So try and be as safe as possible I have adopted the tactic of “one-hour watching.” Any time I approach something of concern I stop, hide, and watch the area for at least an hour. I figure that if there is a problem, it will show itself within that hour. I hope I’m right.
But, I gotta keep heading east at Benson, technically northeast, towards Wilcox, Arizona. That will be another bottleneck. The bad part of it once again…the railroad gets really close to the town and people. But the interstate is not a good alternative because it passes through Texas Canyon. Texas Canyon is very narrow with steep rock walls. There is just no good path through that area that is far enough from the interstate itself. If I was a bad guy I would set-up a roadblock there and plunder at will. Again, danger is around every bend, rock, etc.
I delayed long enough. It is getting pretty dark and I won’t have time to finish the whole story but I can at least get it started. Tomorrow during the day I can finish it, and take the time to get it right.
The Holiday Inn Express where I was staying was only about a hundred yards west of North 1st Avenue in Tucson. And 1st Avenue runs north and south. I had to head due south to get to the railroad tracks so what better way to get started. A few of the areas on 1st Avenue are kind of sketchy but it was really early in the morning. I figured the bad guys would be sleeping it off and sleeping in. The homeless folks might not be up and around yet as well. I calculated I had about five miles to get to the train tracks and I needed about two to three hours to get that done. Once I hit the train tracks I had another twelve miles until I could really take a rest.
My rest spot was going to be a spot with a lot of clear area around it, some wet lands if I was reading the map right. At least half a mile or so to any streets. Sixteen miles or so…and I wanted to be there no later than 6pm. Once there I would rest for a couple of hours and then push on southeast to the vicinity of Anderson Canyon.
Just before I was going to hit the train tracks I saw this group of people. Maybe nine or so guys, appeared to all be in their late teens or early twenties, they were dressed with pants around their butts, same colored hats, and all appeared to be Hispanic. Most had yellow or black hats on, a couple had those rag bandannas, and those were all yellow. I had a pretty clear idea that I had just spotted some Latin King gang members. Problem was I had been walking for about three hours and I was feeling it. But I could feel my adrenaline surge and I quickly turned left at the corner and headed ninety-degrees to the path I was taking. My plan was to walk a couple of blocks and then another 90-degree turn, this time right. Then another right and I figured that would have run me around them.
I should have gone to the right (west)! The tracks were in sight, but for some reason I turned left (east) on East 10th Street. And I immediately spotted the graffiti. I didn’t know exactly what it meant but I had it figured to be gang tagging for the Latin Kings. I was starting to panic.
I ducked behind a dumpster and got my Atlas out. I wasn’t that far from Euclid and it ran south to where I might be able to crossover some kind of barriers and be on the tracks…safe! I hit Euclid, headed south. I came up on Hughes Street and right around the corner about hundred feet was a guy working on a car with its hood up. For whatever reason he looked up and looked right at me. He had a predator look to him. I picked up the pace trying to get past the intersection but that just seemed to touch-off his predator-prey instinct. He started hollering at me in Spanish. I could only catch a couple of words here and there but he was calling me an old man, and a couple far less complimentary names. I turned around to see how much distance there was between us and I saw he too was wearing gold and black. Latin King!
I tried to pick up the pace but I could hear him still hollering for me to stop, who did I think I was, and what was I, some dumb white boy, doing in their area. He was close. He appeared to be in his thirties, fairly fit, somewhat muscled up, and no way I was going to outrun him…not being sixty-one years old. So if it was going to happen I wanted it to be on my terms as much as possible. I took a quick turn into an alley and then another quick turn around an abandon building. I got two granola bars out of a side pouch along with a bottle of water. I placed them on the ground, took my pack off, stepped back, and had my Hissatsu in my hand with the blade hidden along my forearm.
He came running around the corner and pulled up just short of the stuff on the ground. He smiled really big at me and asked me, “What the h*$$ did I think I was doing walking through his neighborhood?”
I told him he could have the stuff on the ground and all I wanted was to leave without any problems. He smiled even bigger, he was a predator, I could tell. I noticed the teardrops just below his eyes. I also saw what I thought to be at least one prison tattoo on his neck. I knew I was in trouble, big trouble, and it could only get worse the longer it went on. I had to get out of there!
He saw my backpack and asked what I had in it. I told him nothing that he would be interested in or that he was going to take. That really got him mad. I thought if I didn’t show fear, if I acted tough he might have second thoughts. I was wrong.
He started walking slowly towards me yelling at me. I tuned it all out, I knew I was about to die or kill. Somehow I just knew it. So I got myself mentally ready. I was only going to have one chance to get this right. It had to be right, and right the first time. There wouldn’t be a second chance.
He must have thought I was no danger to him at all. He had no weapon in his hands. I am sure he had a knife on him, maybe a gun, but he was barehanded. I didn’t back down, back away, or move towards him. I let him come to me. If we were going to go at it, it was going to be on my terms and my timing. He kept coming closer, slowly, deliberately, as if he was enjoying the terror he was inflicting just be being there. He was grinning, he was enjoying this.
I wasn’t really thinking a whole lot, but I was playing a scene in my head. I had taken a class through onPoint Tactical about surviving deadly contact. One part of the class was an impromptu knife fight. Well, that isn’t really accurate. I got knifed by a Delta Operator kind of guy. It was quick and deadly, very effective. I replayed that through my mind three times as he approached.
He was within my arms reach, but I wasn’t within in his reach. He was probably a good four inches shorter than my six foot. Everything went into slow motion, really slow motion, except for my brain, it was still operating at normal speed. I saw him start to raise his arms as if he was going to grab me. It was now or never, I couldn’t let him grab me, I would lose.
With my left arm I did an upward and outward sweep knocking his left arm out of the way. I was fast, way faster than I expected to be, and I bet I was faster than he thought possible. Actually, I doubt he thought I would do anything but give up and give in. He probably wasn’t used to have anyone, especially an old man, resist him.
As I was sweeping his left arm out of the way I brought up my Hissatsu towards his neck. The blade was already facing away from me. I caught him on the side of his neck as I was coming around. I had put all of my might into it. I should have probably had more finesse to it, but it was all speed and power. Everything I had went into that knife strike. It cut him deep, I hit the carotid artery, and blood started spurting out. I never stopped moving. I came through my sweep and stopped the momentum as I hit my left shoulder with the thumb and first of my right hand. Instinctively I thrust it right back at him catching him in his right shoulder. That Hissatsu blade is made for one thing…fighting. And in a knife fight that blade is designed to do two things…cut and pierce. That blade went smoothly into the cavity between his clavicle and shoulder. He twisted as he fell back. He never let out a sound after the first cut. I must have caught him in his windpipe as well. He hit the ground grabbing at the knife handle with his left hand but he couldn’t quite grab it.
I stepped on his left arm holding it to the ground. I was reaching for my boot knife when he just went limp. He wasn’t dead. A couple of breaths later there was this gurgle sound. Now he was dead.
I struggled a little to pull out my knife, I wiped it on his shirt, put it back in the sheath in the small of my back. I was carrying it horizontally on my belt. I stepped over him, grabbed my backpack and walked on. Minutes later I was walking down the tracks like it was a Saturday afternoon walk in the park. But my mind wasn’t working. Everything was automatic to me. I couldn’t see past 10 feet around me, didn’t really try. I just walked.
An hour later I took a step and my legs collapsed. The adrenaline had worn off and I just fell straight to the ground. I didn’t try to get up for almost an hour. I drank a bunch of water, ate two granola bars, and then just started walking again. I killed a man in a knife fight. I watched him bleed out. And I have zero remorse for it. I haven’t really paid it much attention since then. I had to survive, I have to get home to Lisa. She needs me.
So there you have it. I am going to get some rest now. I am tired.
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