THE MAD MOUNTIE OF MYSTERY MOUNTAIN
Beth’s two children were laughing as they tried to catch the red leaves raining down upon them. A cold wind brought the promise of frost by morning and she shivered as she herded the children to stay on the narrow path. A fall in the river would be dangerous this time of year. She cursed herself for taking this assignment from her publisher. Some vacation. Her assignment? She was to write a story about the legendary Mad Mountie of Mystery Mountain. Preferably, he wanted her to find and photograph the man as well as collect anecdotes. So far, she had found a few who had seen him, or whose parents had seen him, but few details. The legend claimed that he had been sent years ago to Mystery Mountain to find an escaped criminal who now lived wild in the woods of British Columbia with the Spirit Bears, rare white-coated black bears. The Mountie, who had twenty years of experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, had not found the criminal and in fact, had never returned to duty, though he had been seen many times. It was thought that the assignment and the vast solitude of the Canadian forests had made him crazy.
The woods can do that sometimes.
As Beth walked on, she glanced up, and she instinctively reached for the children’s hands. A man in a faded Red Serge, the dress tunic of the Mounties that had once dripped with its scarlet red color, was approaching. As he drew near, he showed a toothless grin, tipped his worn, felt campaign hat politely, and said, “I haven’t met anyone on this path in several years. I am Owen McKenzie, with the Royal Canadian Police, at your service.”
“I am pleased to meet you, Owen.” Beth contemplated the faded blue breeches and could just barely see the yellow stripe indicating the cavalry history of the Mounties. Physically, she could tell that the years had not been good to him. She wondered if serendipity had worked its magic and she had been led by fate to find the legendary, Mad Mountie. “I am Beth Cameron, and these are my children. I’m a reporter and I’m on a working vacation. I would love to talk to you about your work with the RCP. I would so appreciate this favor.”
Owen said, “It’s been such a long time since I’ve talked to anyone. The day is getting late. I assume you walked up from the cabins at the Mystery Mountain Park and we should return there now while there is light. I’ll be happy to answer any questions, though I may have a favor of my own to ask of you.”
“I will be glad to honor any favor you may ask,” Beth said. As they returned on the path they had started on, Beth decided to start gathering information. “You know people say you are mad.”
He nodded. “Yes, sometimes I think the same thing.”
“Where do you live?” Beth asked.
“In a tent in the woods. For many years I’ve traveled throughout British Columbia searching for the escaped brother of Gilbert Paul Jordan. But he has proved to be elusive. Have you heard of him?”
Beth replied, “I’ve heard of Jordan, but not his brother. Didn’t they call him the Boozing Barber? He liked to prey on Native American women in Vancouver’s skid row.”
Owen said, “His brother had the same evil in him. I was sent to find him and bring him in, and I vowed to never return to duty until I do. You know what they say about us Mounties?”
“You always get your man?”
“Yes, we always get our man, though as it’s been said, not always quietly. And I’ve got him cornered this time. He will certainly be going back to prison very soon.”
At the cabin, Owen helped her start a roaring fire. Beth made a pot of tea and warmed up a soup she had made the day before. After they had eaten, she put the kids to bed on their cots. They begged Owen to tell them a story of his adventures. He told them of his first sighting of the Spirit Bear and how the Native Americans had deliberately not shared with the white settlers the knowledge of these creatures who lived deep in the dark and quiet recesses of the Canadian forest. Jordan’s brother had found them too and become attached to them. Owen said he could count on Jordan to always return to the parts of the forest where they lived. When the kids had drifted to sleep, Owen said he must excuse himself and return to his tent.
“Will we talk again?” Beth asked.
“No, but I will still count on you to grant me the favor I’m going to ask of you.”
“Anything. What is it?
“You will know in the morning. Goodnight, Beth.”
The cabin’s fire had died to ashes, and when Beth woke in the morning, she revived it. She opened the cabin door and gasped at what she saw. Lying on the porch, bound hand and foot was a bearded man with a note pinned to his jacket. The note read:
Beth: Here is Jordan’s brother. Call the Royal Canadian Police at 911.They will assist you. Tell them that Owen McKenzie always gets his man.