Out on Surfroute 101- Thinking and…


A Washington State Patrol officer was seriously injured Tuesday morning when the driver of a stolen pickup struck his vehicle on U.S. Highway 101 at Discovery Bay. (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Patrol)
Gasoline and Craziness out on Surfroute 101. Photo from Peninsula Daily News

This scene is about ten miles from my house.

I was kind of looking for the photo of the individual accused of perpetrating this and other crimes a couple of days ago; the photos Trish showed me while I was trying to eat dinner and watch a recorded episode of “Jeopardy.” It might be better that I didn’t immediately find it. The mug shots from some previous arrest of the, um… thinking of a word… individual who started a rampage by dousing patrons at the gas pumps at the Long House, adjacent to the Casino at the tight little curve in 101 at the corner of West Sequim Bay.

“You know. I get gas there. There. He was shooting them… with the gasoline… gasoline. With the… nozzles. He set this van on fire; before he stole the pickup. A guy at the Long House… they can shut down the pumps. Look.”

I had to turn away from “Jeopardy,” put down my milk glass to check out the photos.

“Uh huh.”

Trish continued to read the account from the online version of the PDN (Peninsula Daily News). The perpetrator stole a pickup truck (used by either a glass installer or marble countertop person- empty at this time), hauled ass down 101, passing people on the right, in unsafe spots. When he got to Discovery Bay, there was the Washington State Patrol inspection vehicle (above) on the side of the highway, the officer having just inspected a semitruck.


The result: The Officer and the alleged asshole both had to be airlifted to Harborview in Seattle. The Officer was, last I heard, in stable condition, the suspect under arrest, medical condition… don’t necessarily care.

But, here’s the thing: I had kind of been kept abreast of this during the day. Two vehicles past my place while I was loading up; lights and sirens, heading north. I was heading to Port Townsend, and ordinarily would choose 101 to State Route 20; but, because I had to go to the Post Office in Quilcene, Trish had time to warn me off that route. “Big accident,” she said. “Road’s closed.” Center Road. Okay.

When I got to the house I am working on in PT, the homeowner was aware of the situation. Internet. And I got a call from Reggie, stuck in the backup long enough to call off meeting with me. Okay.

Now, these road closures for accidents, with pretty much only one road from everywhere else to the north Olympic Peninsula, happen occasionally. Too often. But, what made me pause, made me think, made me pause “Jeopardy,” was Trish saying, “If you had been there, at the gas pumps, you would have killed the guy.”

Wait. “What?”

“I mean, if he sprayed you with gasoline, held out a cigarette lighter toward you.”


No. No. I don’t think… No, I don’t want to kill anyone.

Okay, so that’s the thinking. Here’s the rethinking: I am so close to having enough faith in my manuscript for “Swamis,” and a critical part of the plot is that Chulo is doused with gasoline and set alight (yeah, ‘set alight’ is in there), and yet, pretty much every night I’m rethinking some little element of the story that might not make total sense to the reader. A couple of nights ago it was a fight scene. How would Rusty react if Jumper and Jody were teamed up? Okay, go back, address that.

But last night it was whether I have put enough drama into Jumper’s reaction to his friend having been doused with gasoline. The incident is revealed in several parts, but never directly described. If you’ve ever had gasoline spilled on you, you know it, at least, stings. If you’ve ever, stupidly, tried to use gasoline on a burn pile or camp fire, then had it flash back at you when you tried to light it; if you’ve had the hair on your arm singed or your eyebrows curled… no, none of that is enough. Drama.

Now, I could use this time to actually go back into the manuscript instead of posting this. Maybe I’m not quite ready. There are options. I’m thinking, rethinking, oh, so close.

Crazy road closures; yet another reason for any reasonable surfer to choose Westport. Always waves, always a party!

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