“. . . my car broke down and I had to hoof it back into town. I had my thumb out but nobody was gonna stop for me. It was when I was up north, in the summer.
I was walkin’ along, just enjoying the night sounds, you know. It was about halfway to town and I-don’t-know-what-time-o’clock when I felt like somebody or something was staring at my back.
I’d felt that way before, when my target was tracking me. That’s real bad, and it only happened to me once. There was a mole in the CIA. They pulled me out real fast from there, I tell ya.
So there I was, I didn’t have more than a pocket knife on me, because I was in the car, see, and incognito to boot. So I tried a little test: I took three fast steps and then I stopped all of a sudden. Something made three soft steps after I stopped. There was something still burning a hole in my back, and I got goose bumps from hearing them-there three steps after I stood still.
I thought, ‘What if it’s a man stalking me?’ and I didn’t like that thought very much. So I took five quick steps and then stopped all of a sudden again. This time there were only two steps, and they didn’t belong to no man. They sounded too soft. And they weren’t crashing through the brush and snappin’ twigs and such. I started feelin’ kinda queezy after that. Step, step, step, stop: Step, step, stop! We made a couple of miles walkin’ together like that. I sez to myself, ‘Bill, you are gonna be some varmint’s dinner tonight, boy. You better watch your back!’ Step, step, step: Step, step, stop!
I knew I better not run, ‘caused it— whatever it was, and I figured it might be a cougar, it seemed like it was just curious so far. I didn’t want to wake up its predator instincts, ya know, and I sure would’ve looked like prey if I was to run. So we just kept on. We went a couple more miles; funny how fast a man can walk when he’s not in a hurry. Heh, heh!
The varmint had been closing the gap between him and me. The step, steps from the critter was a little tiny bit louder each time, and now he was nearly in my hip pocket.
A truck went by, and I sticks out my thumb. This one pulled over, and I couldn’t thank that ole’ driver enough! I looked back and couldn’t see anything, but the next day when I got a ride out to get my car I looked in the bushes and I seen them big pug marks where that varmint had been stalkin’ along behind me. I’m a good tracker, remember, and I know what I seen. It was one dam’ big cat!
Stories like this circulate out West wherever people gather and and try to scare each other silly. Retelling these stories is an art in its own right, and used to be called, “Yarning” because a tall tale was a “yarn”.