Klippen des Todes
As they pulled away from the place of the skid, Charlene caught a glimpse of a young guy about her own age standing along the side of the dirt road going uphill. He couldn’t be more than three yards away from their car. He looked rather odd with reddish-orange hair that came down over his ears and a reddish-orange mustache. These days guys from back at school were shaving their heads to imitate the "punk look". Even more far out, this dude was dressed in what must be a navy uniform. At least Charlene didn’t know what else to call it. It wasn’t just any old navy uniform. This one appeared rather old-fashioned, to say the least. It reminded Charlene of one that she could have seen in textbooks in history class. The dark indigo blue jersey uniform consisted of a coat, vest, trousers, a pair of paten leather black shoes, and a cap along with a starched white shirt with a high collar. Some sort of neck cloth — not a necktie — tied around the buttoned-up, starched white collar.
The navy blue cap had a gold band around the rim. Above that there was a picture of a mysterious white object with a circle of gold surrounding it.
A double row of gold buttons went down the front of the jacket. The buttons featured some sort of design that she couldn’t make out from this distance and in this light. The lapel boasted the same strange design done in white thread, the same object that was on the cap. Charlene couldn’t figure out what that elusive object was supposed to be.
This fellow had his hands stuffed into the big side pockets of his long-sleeved coat. He was standing in the middle of the stream of water on the left-hand side of the road. He didn’t seem to be fazed by it in the least.
Charlene shook her head. That was impossible! No one could keep his footing in the middle of a stream flowing that swiftly downhill! They would be swept downstream along with the current. This guy didn’t look as if he were struggling at all.
For that matter, he didn’t look particularly wet. If Charlene were standing out there in this driving rainstorm, she would be drenched. This guy's uniform looked neatly pressed without a wrinkle. His hair and his reddish-orange mustache did not droop. It didn’t cling to his forehead or his face.
The guy raised one of his hands and waved at her. He even smiled. A dimple appeared on his chin. She noticed his orangish freckles illuminating his very pale, white complexion that in places looked almost transparent.
Had Charlene met this dude before? If so, she certainly didn’t remember him. She didn’t know anyone in San Diego. She could swear it. She had never been within hundreds of miles of the place before in her whole life.
Their car was moving very slowly, more slowly than a man could normally run. Even at that pace, it was beginning to pass up this stranger. Suddenly there was a sense of alarm in his posture. He was turning his head and craning his neck to follow the progress of their car up the hill. He removed his other hand from his big, over-sized pocket and made a fist. He stood on tiptoe as they got farther and farther away. He took a few steps after them. He acted as if he intended to take off and literally race after their car.
"Dad . . . " Charlene began.
She continued to gape at the guy through the backseat window. She blinked and blinked again as he started to wave frantically at them. She rubbed her eyes. They must be playing tricks on her.
She turned away from the window. She tapped Dad on the shoulder.
"Yes, Charlene?" Dad asked.
Dad kept calm, though soon even he would have to admit that he was losing control of the vehicle.
"Who is that guy over there . . . "
"Ah . . . never mind . . . "
Charlene never got to finish her sentence. The neatly attired guy with the reddish-orange hair and the mustache, who had been wearing the dark blue navy uniform, was gone.