Charlie was just a boy, maybe nine years old, when it happened.
It was a school holiday, and Charlie begged to go along with his dad on his morning deliveries. It was dark outside when they packed up the Young’s Meat & Fine Foods truck and headed out to sell steaks to the Ramada Inn in Wrightwood, and it was still well before dawn when they turned off California 138 onto Lone Pine Canyon Road, climbing higher into the mountains.
Time for just the two of them was a special treat. Charlie talked about school and TV shows and told some knock-knock jokes he’d learned. His father sipped coffee, kept his eyes on the road, said “Who’s there?” and “Banana who?” when it was his turn.
Then they saw it. […]