I used to be a fairly wealthy man. I designed and sold improved parts for cars, my company was doing pretty well, too.

Enough so that I bought a small ranch, a nice house with stream frontage that had been part of an estate.

The old man that owned it had split it into two sections, several acres in each, giving one half to each of his two sons.

I bought the lower half from the one son, the other lived up above on a newer home he had built, we got along fine.

Then one day there was some bad news, he had been nailed broadside by a drunken driver and didn't make it.

The upper property sold as part of his estate, the new guy and his fat wife were a bit of a pain in the ass.

Still, I could ignore them and all was fine, until a survey report arrived in the mail.

It seemed that the new guy had his property lines surveyed, no big deal, one would think.

Except the old man had paced off the property, and called his paces each three feet, then recorded the property lines in feet.

He had long legs.

He hadn't considered the differences between hillsides and flat land.

The surveyed property lines in accordance to the recordings went right through the middle of my living room!

Then began the court battle, it went on and on and on. I put up a fight, but the law goes by the exact letter of the law, not common sense or what some old man long dead intended.

It was years later before I found out about a little known law called "Adverse possession" and my attorney wasn't smart enough to know about it, either.

It seems that constant and continuous use over 7 years is enough to imply legal ownership. I had been there over 12 years, with an established fence line.

Without the attorney citing the law in court, the established propery lines as indicated in the recordings applied.

Stupid, of course. But it happened. I lost.

My business, bled of all assets. My house and land, whittled down to a fraction of what it was before.

I got drunk that night, I was sitting in my house drinking the last of a full case of beer when the phone rang.

It was the asshole up the hill, getting his digs in, laughing at me.

I hung up.

He called back, telling me he wanted me out in 30 days or he would have me dragged out.

"I got you, you stupid cocksucker!" was his exact last words to me.

Yes, those were his last words.

I went into my den, picked up my doublebarrel 12 gauge shotgun, loaded it with two buckshot rounds and walked up the hill.

I rang the bell, he opened the door.

He had time to look me in the eyes, and glance down.

I tripped both barrels, almost cut him in half.

I just turned and walked back down the hill, threw some gear into the back of my old truck...

and vanished.

There is a place owned by the government, it is wild and remote. Literally thousands and thousands of acres.

That is where I went, after disposing of the truck off the end of a launch ramp. I knew the current ran fast, the water was very deep. The old truck would end up a long ways away, perhaps one day discovered but it would be a long time if ever.

I carried what I could and walked for days to a spot I had seen years before while out hunting. Some of the gear I hid off the trail where it would not be found.

I knew I would need several trips to bring what I needed in.

I found a huge mound of blackberry bushes, I chopped an opening and cleared it out inside. I had some camouflage tarps that I used to cover the mound.

I dug ditches for drainage, in a month or so of hard work I ended up with a pretty good camp, it was warm and dry inside.

I had a stove I made of rocks, I fashioned a shroud to catch and direct the smoke out, running some pipe I had salvaged at night from a scrap yard down by the river to direct the small amount of smoke away and dissipate it.

No point in attracting the attention of the forest service.

The woods are full of food if one knows where to look, I happened to know. I grew up on a ranch, I knew about wild plants, how to catch animals with snares.

Rabbits and Squirrels were easy. Once I even caught a wild Turkey. Deer were harder to catch, but I got one or two every year or so.

I knew enough not to shoot, that could attract attention, even though I was many miles from anyone.

But I still had that shotgun, and a small pistol.

The creek nearby was full of Trout, they eagerly came to a bit of bait. They were small, less than 8 inches except in the Fall when a few Salmon came.

I made a spear and took several, drying the meat for later.

Several years went by, I saw no one except for my rare trips out to gather up beer bottles and cans for a dab of cash. Sometimes I would find small amounts of metal, I sold that at the scrap yard.

Salt and sugar was what I bought mostly, sometimes a sack of flour.

If there was enough, I would buy one of those red licorice whips, I liked those.

No one recognized me now with the hair over my shoulders and a full beard. They weren't even looking, I knew.

I had simply vanished.

I even had a small garden, a bit of a risk if a helicopter happened to go over and look down.

That almost never happened, though.

One day I was checking my snares and I heard voices. I hid as three men and a young woman went by, speaking quietly in what I knew must be Spanish.

I followed them to an opening, they had Marijuana plants growing. They were traveling in to tend the plants. I watched as they went about their work.

That worried me, their crop was only a mile or so from my camp.

Far too close, and the risk was they could attract attention to me.

The woman was young, perhaps 25 or so. She went down to the creek, squatted down. Then she stood up, pulled her clothes off quickly and slipped into the cold water.

It took her some time to adjust, the water was very cold.

Her breasts were full and sagged a bit, she had a bit of a soft roll across her abdomen. There was a mass of black natural pubic hair, her buttocks were slightly large for her frame.

I found her beautiful, I sat there in the bushes and watched her from less than 20 feet away. I knew I could not be seen, the clothes I wore were just like the brush around me, I had laboriously used charcoal from the fire and different plants to stain everything I wore.

Most of what I wore were skins of animals I had harvested with the snares.

She couldn't stay in the water for long, I watched as she turned and walked out onto the bank, driplets of water sliding down her brown skin.

I realized I wanted her, I felt the growth and my penis filled with blood.

It had been a very long time since I had even thought of that.

I managed to fight off my instinct to leap out and grab her, just take her. So many years I had simply taken what I wanted, but this was different.

I knew it would expose me.

Soon I heard the voices again as the men came down the trail. The woman hurriedly dressed.

I followed them as they walked on down the trail. At the highway, they waited, soon a van came by. They all climbed in and left.

I began to watch for them after that. They came every few days, sometimes just 3 or 4 days, sometimes 10 days. I knew they were trying to not develop any pattern.

Several times I went up to their field, the plants were growing rapidly, getting big.

They had carried in bags of fertilizer, I stole one, hoping they would not notice. They didn't seem to. I used that on my own garden, it really helped.

Several times I watched the woman bathe, each time was the same. She would work, then walk to the small pool and strip down and bathe. The men would come soon, and they would leave.

I knew that after the harvest they would be gone and I would be safe again.

Then came the disaster.

One of them stepped off the trail onto a side animal trail to urinate. I could see him reaching for his fly.

He stepped right into one of my small animal snares, it tripped and jerked his foot out from under him as the branch snapped back. He was too heavy for it to hold him, but he let out a loud yell as he fell.

The rest came running, one of them almost stepped on me as he went by.

There was a flood of discussion in Spanish, I knew they now knew someone was nearby.

I stayed completely still, knowing I was as close to invisible as it was possible to be.

Then the woman appeared. She was looking around, then her eyes fell on me. She squinted, I saw her expression change, then she looked away.

Finally they all left, and moved on down the trail. I didn't follow, I waited for a long time, then returned to my camp.

They were back the next day, and the day after.

I stayed hidden, quietly waiting. I knew they could walk right by the huge blackberry patch that hid my little room and never realize, it was fully grown up and over the tarp I had placed so long ago.

They seemed to give up looking for me, everything went back to that same abnormal pattern, every few days they would appear.

They were starting to get in my way, I needed to be putting in stock for Winter.

One day the woman came down to the pool to bathe, she was earlier than normal. Sensing a possible trap, I moved up the hill to the opening, all three men were harvesting and bundling their crop.

I moved back down to the pool to watch.

I had just settled into my spot.

"I know you are there." she said in perfect English, not turning to look.

I simply stepped out of the bushes.

"Yes, I am here."

She turned and looked at me and smiled, completely unashamed of her nudity.

"I see why you are so hard to spot." she smiled.

"Why didn't you give me away the other day?"

"They are not my friends, they force me."


I thought I understood.

"You can hide me, yes?" She gave me that dazzling smile again.

"Yes, but you must move quickly." Crazy to try to do this, but it was an impulse.

As she dressed, I moved downstream a ways, turned a rock over just where the water picked up speed to a furious rush down the mountain, then into a waterfall. It would be a full mile long walk through heavy brush to reach the pool below, I was hoping they wouldn't bother.

I knew that all they really cared about was the crop.

"What are you doing?" she stepped up beside me.

"Trying to throw them off track." I said.

I took her hand and led her away, careful to leave no tracks. We moved slowly and carefully until we were several hundred yards away, then we moved very quickly.

I was hoping the men would find the overturned rocks and think she had fallen. A long shot but worth a try.

At my camp, I pulled the fresh bushes from the entrance, then we crawled in as I pulled it shut behind us.

We waited in silence until it was full dark, then I set a small fire and cooked a meal.

She ate greedily.

"So why were you with them?" I asked, finally.

"I was smuggled into the Country, but they never let me go. They made me work, they...they...used me." Her eyes went downcast in shame.

"You are safe now." I told her, not completely sure of that.

No one came after that, several days later I made my way up to the pool. I could see the tracks, they had found my ruse, had they accepted that she had fallen, perhaps died?

I couldn't be sure.

She told me her name was Maria, I told her mine was Dan. Other than that, I simply went about my business, harvesting game, drying some Trout.

I came back to camp to find her weeding the garden. I also saw two small hides she had scraped and hung to cure, and she had carefully clipped the inside thorns that never failed to regrow.

Even the tarp I used for a flooring was swept and cleaned. She simply became part of the camp, part of my life.

I never made a move to touch her, even though I wanted to.

The truth is, I was enjoying her company.

Several times we walked over to a different nearby pool to bathe, she simply stripped and washed, I did the same. I found myself trying to not stare at her with little success, I caught her smiling at that, too.

At night we slept under the hides I used for blankets, sharing the warmth of our bodies.

I kept my hands to myself. That was also a struggle.

But one morning I woke up, feeling an odd sensation. I realized quickly that she was under the covers, and fondling me.

Things progressed quickly after that, she sighed as I entered her. I came quickly, in just seconds, but I never softened. I just kept on.

The thrill of a woman's bare breasts pressed against my chest, the joy of sex again after more than a decade was almost more than I could handle.

I wanted her all the time, we quickly progressed to making love several times each day. We went through the entire Fall and Winter like that.

The warmer days of Spring arrived early, we saw high 60 degree days by March.

I knew what was going to happen, I planned for it.

I watched the trails, one day the three men came again. There was an area of the trail that opened up wider, just before the top of a rise. It was a perfect ambush point.

They were coming up the trail, I stepped out with my shotgun.

They stopped, looked at me in shock.

"Hablo Ingles?" I asked.

One of them nodded.

"Si'. Yes, I speak English." He said, a flustered look on his face.

"This is my land." I told him.

They all looked at each other.

"Here is my deal. You plant your crops, then you leave and don't come back. I will tend it, and leave a mark at the road to let you know."

They looked at each other again.

"When you see my sign, you come and harvest. You will bring me $1000.00, Then you leave again."

"Why do you do this?" the one man asked.

"And why for so little?"

"I can't have you giving me away, and that is all I need."

He smiled, seeming to understand.

There was a short conversation in Spanish, they all began to nod.

Maria stepped out of the bushes, they looked at her in shock.

"She is with me now." I told them bluntly.

They all nodded. Something about a double barreled shotgun with the hammers back ensures compliance.

I lowered the weapon, set the hammers down.

They walked on up the trail. I watched, out of their sight as they walked on past. I went on up to the upper field, I could see they had done their work.

Perhaps they would understand my rules. If not, I knew what would happen.

I think they knew, too.

The next day, I took Maria and we walked up to the pool where I had first seen her.

"Will you stay with me?" I asked her.

"Yes." she smiled simply.

"Will you be my wife?"

"Yes." Another smile.

I took her hand, and spoke quietly, offering her my love. I knew we could not go to a church.

We held each other and kissed, then started the long walk back to our camp, our home, meager as it was.

I did not know how long we had, every day could bring my capture. If anyone knew of me, they would come. I knew that, too.

Life is but a moment. I planned on living it as best as I could.

Tomorrow somone could find me. Tomorrow Maria could leave.

So I live for today.

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