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Highway 77

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Below is a very true event that happened to my girlfriend and I, and why we always tell our friends and family to avoid Highway 77 when coming to visit us in Tucson.


Our car had broke down on a nearly empty stretch of highway between Tucson and Globe, AZ. We were on our way to the White Mountain Apache reserve to visit some friends and do some hiking.

I hear a knocking noise and our car starts to lose power. Pulled over, lifted up the hood, started up the car and then a spark-plug shot right out. Turned out the threading for the spark-plug hole had worn out.

This happened during dusk, so I grabbed my flashlight and searched the ground for the missing spark-plug. Found it at the bottom of the cattle guard we were parked next to, the damn ceramic on it shattered to pieces when it shot out and bounced off the steel bars.

It’s night now, so we both pull out our phones and begin climbing the small hill we’re next to where we parked and try to call a tow-truck and some friends.

No signal.

My girlfriend and I needed that car and not knowing whether it was wise to continue on with a missing spark-plug, we prepared ourselves for a very long walk.

We put on our jackets, grab the jug of water (we’re runners) we kept in the backseat, and begin our silent journey. Just as I locked the doors, a car passed us by then did a u-turn up on a hill and started making its way slowly towards us.

Now I don’t know if any of you have taken highway 77 between Tucson, AZ and Globe, AZ, but it’s the type of road that makes you think “Man, I bet some fucked up shit happens in these rusted out mobile homes near the road.”

We turn to each other and both think the same thing: This can either be very good or very bad. I unlock the car, grab a flat-head screwdriver and slide it into my scuffed up doc martin boot. I dig around my bag of hiking gear for my SOG knife and forgot that I had lent it to a friend the night before.

The car pulls up while I’m digging around for any other tools or weaponry, and this tall older looking guy steps out along with a small Mexican lady about his age or younger.

“You two all right? We’re on our way to the casino up at Pinetop, saw you guys looking around with a flashlight and so my wife says we should turn around and help ya!”

“Thanks, one of the spark-plug holes got stripped and spit out a spark-plug. I was looking for it and found it in pieces.”

He walks up and tells me to pop the hood and I can tell that despite his age, he’s strong and probably stronger than me.

As he looks at the car, he agrees that it’d be unwise to drive it like this and that we could catch a ride with them to Globe. My girlfriend decides at this point to let them know that we’re also on our way towards Pinetop.

“Perfect, you can ride with us all the way, we gotta make a small stop up ahead though at my wife’s daughter’s house to pick up some stuff, hope you don’t mind.”

Now I’m thinking why is he driving all the way to Pinetop to go to one of the worst casinos in the state? He could easily drive south and head back down to Tucson, which is closer. Why Pinetop?

“Why Pinetop?”

“What’s that?”

“Why go to Pinetop? Hondah Casino, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Tucson’s closer, the casinos there are nicer, I think.”

“I like driving to Pinetop, You never know who’ll run into.” he says with a wink.

Now I’m really thinking “ok, shit, should we go with this guy and his wife?”

“We’d love to get a ride from you!” my girlfriend says, standing next to the guy’s wife, staring at me with a get-in-their-damn-car-already face.

“Yeah, we’ll take you up on that offer. I can help with gas, I have a few bucks, not a lot. Our friends will be worried about us, they’re expecting us soon.”

Hoping I dropped enough hints that we’re not worth anything sinister he’s got planned, I close the hood and we all get into his car.

The wife talks a mile a minute as we head north. She used to live all over the southwest, always on the move. A real desert rat, living in motels and hard times until she met her husband.

My girlfriend and I are getting comfortable, she squeezes my hand and rests her head on my shoulder when the wife suddenly says “I was anally raped. Over and over, then I got used to it.”

My blood turns to ice, I feel my girlfriends body stiffen up and I clench my hand over the handle of the screwdriver in my boot.

“This guy I met a long time ago, he was supposed to help me and once we got to his place, he drugged me, locked me up and raped me over and over. Eventually, I just gave in and expected it because he did it like clockwork. Over and over.”

I know as a kid, I used to daydream about being a hero and how brave and famous I’d be for taking down the bad guy. Once I was confronted with what looked like the real deal, I was scared as shit and thought irrationally.

I thought about plunging the screwdriver right in the guy’s ear, grabbing the steering wheel while my girlfriend, hopefully, kept the man’s wife at bay.

“Hey, Jenny, we’re on our way to Globe! Yeah, this great couple picked us up in a tan Ford Taurus, so look out for us when we pull up, ok! We’re about 20 minutes away. Love ya!” She hangs up. “Got a signal! Jenny said she’s at the Chevron gas station now with her husband, they’ll be waiting. Totally lucked out!”

The husband looks at the wife, then stares in his rear-view mirror.

“You can get a signal here? I’ve never gotten a signal through the canyon. Who’s your mobile provider?”

“Uhh, (a large mobile phone carrier).”

“Oh yeah? Can you call my daughter and tell her we’re running a little late? Don’t want your friends waiting so we’ll just head straight to Globe instead of stopping at her house.”

“Umm, what’s her number?” my girlfriend says through tight lips, her brows furrowed. We don’t know a Jenny.

The man gives us his daughter’s number and my girlfriend tries to dial it. No signal. She looks at me, I can see the fear in her eyes now and my previous plan begins replay itself in my mind again.

“Let me try my phone.” the man says, and begins to reach for his pocket.

I’m seriously thinking do it now, do it because he’s got a gun and he’s going to send us straight to hell.

I don’t do shit. And it’s a good thing because he pulls out his small flip phone.

“Holy shit, pardon my language, but I got some bars here!”

The man calls his daughter, whose voice I can clearly hear on the other end.

We sit in silence all the way to Globe, which thankfully wasn’t too long.

As we pull into the Chevron, the guys parks and leans over to us and says “I know you didn’t call your friend, and I know you probably got something nasty in that boot of yours. Hell, I’d be worried too if had a pretty girl like yours by my side. Things being what they are, we’re both just glad to help you out. And I’m sorry my wife here spoke about what happened to her, she’s traumatized by it and I help her every day with her recovery.”

We both step out, feeling like complete assholes and I hand him the cash to get some gas.

“No need, I got plenty. I got plenty. By the way, I would’ve crushed your puny wrists before you jammed whatever it is you’ve got, in me. Then I’d have another daughter to raise at home.”


Credits to: hatathli

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