It was an unusually warm day in early December, and Bryan and I were with a couple of girls on a double date. We'd just gotten our driver permits that summer, and we'd staked out all the best places to go parking. The abandoned road behind Mt. Nebo elementary school was occupied, as were our favorite spots along Muddlety. We decided to drive to Mountain Manor Campground, which was closed for the season.
We'd have the whole place to ourselves, we reasoned. We might even build a fire.
Arriving at the campground, we found the entrance closed off by a large gate, locked up tight. Feeling desperate, we ...well, we found a way to solve the problem, get through the gate and get closer to the making out we all knew was inevitable. Bryan stayed with his date near the car; my date and I took a long walk, down over a hill.
Ten minutes or so passed, and I heard shouting near the car.
"I'll ask you again, son. What are you doing here? The campground is closed" The guy dressed like a Park Ranger looked pissed. I walked a little faster to where he was standing. Before Bryan could answer further, I said loudly:
"We can't find him anywhere, Bryan."
The Park Ranger turned to look at me, perplexed. "What are you talking about?"
"We're here looking for our dog, Joe. A couple weeks ago, before the campground closed, we lost him in this area. Every couple of days we stop in, to see if we can find him. He's a great dog, really a part of our family."
The Park Ranger looked at Bryan, then the two girls with us. Bryan nodded.
"Listen" I said, "Since you're here all the time, how about we leave his description with you."
"Sure," the Park Ranger said. I knew at that moment we had him, and we were safely outta trouble. Suddenly, the opening theme narration of Run, Joe, Run popped into my head.
"Male German Shepard. Black and tan. Answers to the name of Joe."
The Park Ranger was scribbling fast, trying to keep up.
"He's a great dog, and although some people think he's vicious, he's not. Not at all. In fact, he likes to help people."
Still a little suspicious, the Park Ranger asked what he thought was the key question. The question that would allow him to get us later, if it turned out we were just punks telling a lie: "If I find the dog, who should I call?"
The list of friends I didn't mind saddling with this dilemma ran through my head.
"My name's Kevin Duffy, and you can call me." I then gave him Kevin's telephone number and street address. He wrote it all down, shook my hand and promised to call as soon as my dog Joe was found. We drove out of the campground quick-like, and headed to I-19. Somewhere along the way I had to explain the TV show to the other three in the car, but I don't think they ever really got it.
Muddlety wasn't that far a drive, after all.