The 20-something hiker, a Ball State baseball cap on his head, went by me on our descent from one of the ridge trails around Tucson as if I were an old man — which I guess I sort of am. But then 10 minutes later, I saw him ahead of me dead in his tracks.
“You OK?” I asked as I came up behind him.
He just pointed …. to a big snake … sunning himself on the trail … with both sides of the narrow trail full of heavy brush and cholla cacti, making it difficult to bypass the snake.
“Do you know what kind he is?” the young guy stuttered.
“A big and brown one,” I replied. “I don’t think it’s a rattler, though.”
“But you can’t see his tail,” he replied.
That was true. The snake had situated himself in such a way that his tail was under a rock.
“Probably just a gopher snake,” I added. “It’s sort of rare to see any kind of snake up here this time of year, though. They like to wait for the heat of late spring and summer before they come out.”
Yet after sharing all that — my vast knowledge of reptiles — my fellow hiker seemed more distressed than impressed.
“What do we do?’ he almost whined.
“Jump him,” I said.
“No way, man.”
At that point, i took my hiking pole — screwed out to more than four feet in length — and gently tried to prod the snake off the trail. Nothing doing. So I worked the pole underneath his body and attempted to lift him up. But it was like trying to pull the last strand of spaghetti off a plate with a fork.
“Don’t get him mad,” the young hiker said.
“I’m not even sure he’s awake,” I replied, but really wanting to say, “Why don’t you give it a try, buddy?”
Finally, I was able to get the pole under a couple of the snake’s loops and gingerly hoisted him in the air. Then I gave him a toss off the trail and over by some barrel cacti. He seemed fine with his new location.
The hiker was more than ready to change his location. He said one more word than the snake did. “Thanks,” he uttered and returned to his descent like he was late for supper.
“Ssssssss,” I said under my breath and followed him down the ridge.
Just reading the Introduction of Bill Sorukas Jr.’s book “Chasing Evil” is enough to make you understand why the South Bend native considered law enforcement for a career. He certainly saw enough of it in action while growing up.
In his West Side neighborhood, a double murder-suicide took place next door, another neighbor was found murdered in LaPorte County and a young neighbor boy was killed when he dashed across the street in front of a car.
He also grew up watching his father, Bill Sr., put on his Indiana State Police uniform every day during his distinguished career.
Bill Jr. was affected by all this and decided to become a U.S. Marshal. He ended up spending 31 years pursuing criminals. Before he retired, he was the Chief in the Investigative Operations Division with the Marshals.
His book is about the evolution of the Marshals and some of the high-profile cases he worked while mainly serving in the San Diego area. Garnering many awards and honors along the way, Bill was instrumental in helping track down several infamous criminals, including the Beltway Snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.
John Walsh, the host and creator of “America’s Most Wanted” who lost his own son to a serial killer, authored the Foreword for “Chasing Evil.” Walsh wrote: “Billy and I shared a common objective of locating dangerous fugitives and recovering missing children.”
Bill Sorukas Jr. proudly wore the U.S. Marshal star on his badge. His book currently has five stars for its rating on Amazon.
Tim Considine died last week. Those in my generation will know who he was. Most probably remember him as Mike Douglas, Fred MacMurray’s oldest son in the TV show, “My Three Sons.”
But he had many other parts as a child and then teen-aged actor, most with Disney affiliations. My favorite role of his was as Spin in the “Spin and Marty” serial that aired on “The Mickey Mouse Club.”
The setting was a ranch-type summer camp. Even as a six or seven year old, I could tell that Spin was cooler than Marty and I wondered why my parents didn’t give me such a cool name as Spin. He also won over the very pretty Annette from Circle H Ranch. She was played by Annette Funicello, who was almost every boy’s heart throb in the mid- and late-1950s.
Considine was also in “The Hardy Boys,” “The Shaggy Dog,” and “Swamp Fox.” Yet his most memorable scene may have come in “Patton,” years after his teen-age success. And because I had been such a big fan of his, I wish he hadn’t played the shell-shocked soldier who Patton slapped in the hospital.
That was a bummer. Why Spin?
Oh, well. I liked that Considine knew when it was time to quit Hollywood. He became a well-known auto racing writer and historian.
He and Fess Parker of Davy Crockett fame were my first heroes. God Bless both of them for the memories they gave boys like me.
Did Anderson Cooper really call South Bend a 160-stoplight town when he was interviewing Pete Buttigieg on “60 Minutes”? Like that is supposed to make us feel little or something?
I’m sorry but I would pay $10 for a gallon of gas if it would help lead to the demise of one Vladimir Putin. It’s been a long time since our world has seen such a dangerous man.
Contact Bill at [email protected]