by John L. Fuhring

Betrayal and Danger

     By this time rumors started to circulate that those that weren’t actually being used for filming were not going to be paid even though they were on the set.  As it turned out, the rumors were based on the decision that they no longer wanted 1/2 of the cavalry and infantry and that those numbers were to be dismissed without pay.

     Naturally none of us were happy about being stabbed in the back this way and we were all resolved to walk off the set then and there.  Then came the offer that if only 1/2 of us would stay, the other 1/2 would be paid for 1 day if they would just go home. That offer too was a non-starter and we remained resolved to walk off.  Then they offered to pay us for 2 days and that broke our solidarity and resolve.

     I was not happy about this.  I had risked my horse’s life to come here and I wanted to see it through as planned or not at all.  Some of the other guys really needed the work and wanted to stay even if it meant half of us getting the shaft.  I really admired the young fellows from Kansas: they wanted to us to stick together and do the honorable thing.  Their reasoning and ethics were superb.  The guys I traveled with thought 2 days pay was a good deal and wanted to take (the promise of)  the money and get back home early.  I was really disgusted by our "captain’s" self serving and insincere "I only want to do what’s best for you boys."   Since I was simply a paying passenger, my vote didn’t count or was asked for.  Believe me, I will never, never not take my own rig to anything ever again (until I am again forced by circumstances).

     The trip back was uneventful except for one incident.  We were making very good time when we ran into a minor rainstorm.  The trucks on highway 40 were slowing and came to a complete stop in front of us.  Without trailer brakes and with 3 to 4 tons of rolling weight on our rear, we couldn’t stop in time to avoid slamming into the back of the truck in front of us.  I was sitting in the front seat and saw that we couldn’t make the stop, but Dan very skillfully maneuvered the rig into the (wide and paved) shoulder and we avoided hitting the truck.

      As we made the trip back, I wasn’t feeling very social.  I was very content to say little and just enjoy the scenery.  Again we planned to stop overnight in that lonely forest outside of Flagstaff.

     We arrived at Flagstaff an hour or so before dark and I expected we would grab a very quick bite at a fast food place and then quickly see to the horses before it got too dark.  Instead, we pulled into a sit-down restaurant and had a steak dinner.

     While on the way to our forest camp, I noticed the turnoff for the County Fairgrounds.  I have kept my horse at those same fairgrounds on other trips.  The facilities at the fairgrounds are good, it is very cheap to stay there, the grounds are well lighted and it is much, much safer than camping all alone in an Arizona pine forest with armed goons on the loose.  I wanted to point out to the other guys the possibility of staying at the fairgrounds, but knew better than to try to say anything.

     It was very late in the afternoon when we drove into our deserted campground and unloaded the horses.  While Keith and I held and walked the horses the other two guys started to do other work in the rapidly gathering dusk. To my amazement, instead of using what remained of the light to get the feed and water out and ready, they started to clean out the trailer.  I was disgusted about what I considered yet another stupidity and this time said so to Keith, but there wasn’t anything to be done until they finished up the job.  By this time it was pitch dark and we had to grope around for the feed and water.

     We stayed up for a little while watching a "director’s cut" version of Lawrence of Arabia on this tiny TV with really terrible sound.  The guys soon got bored with the movie (they didn’t seem to like it) so I turned it off and we all hit the sack.  Everybody was fast asleep when a car drove up to our RV and stopped, continued  on, turned around, stopped again beside the RV and blew its horn.  This incident shook us up a little, but was soon over when the car took off.  Have no idea why those people did it.

     Very late that same evening another vehicle stopped, directed its headlights on the RV and we could hear the sound of a door opening and closing and people getting out.  We were armed to the teeth, but only with sabers and blank ammunition.  As mentioned earlier, while at a filling station there in Arizona, I saw this really ugly guy pull up for gas carrying a really wicked looking loaded pistols on his hip.  Arizona is one of those reactionary States where any "citizen" is assumed to be part of a "well regulated militia" and is allowed to openly carry loaded weapons on his person.  With this memory fresh in mind, I was (and I suspect the others were also) feeling somewhat reluctant to go outside with a nice shiny saber and confront whoever was messing around out there.

     The truth is, being awakened like that and under a spot light gives all the advantages to a potential attacker.  The whole time this was going on I was worried sick about my horse, but felt that it wouldn’t do him any good if his master went outside and got himself shot.  I think the other guys felt the same way because nobody said a word and certainly nobody went outside and confronted our "visitors."  As it turned out, our horses and gear were not molested, our "visitors" finally left and nothing further happened that night.

     A word of warning, don’t ever camp in a lonely and out of the way place.  There are plenty of commercial and public areas where you can safely stop for the night and all it takes is a little money.  Another word of warning, try to avoid going on trips with strangers where you are not a full and recognized member of their party.  Your opinions and knowledge will naturally be discounted and you will end up doing things against your better judgment.