The Tale of Roadkill Bill
And the “takeover” of Politicians
[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants,” and other books. He can be reached at www.Schoolof Self-Reliance.com.]
I knew a homeless guy who called himself Roadkill Bill. He was also known as Wild Bill, but he told me to just call him Roadkill. I never knew his real name until a few decades late, after he died.
Along the way, I picked up fragmentary details about his past. He was from the San Gabriel Valley, where he attended local school. He was in the Army, from which he was discharged for some reason. He had a family with whom he could have lived, but he chose not to.
In the mid-1980s, I would encounter him along the trail in the local mountains. He always had good gear and good clothes, and the word was that he lived in that canyon, camping here and there as he chose. When we happened to converse, if you could call it a conversation, I was never sure what we were talking about. His responses were always very unresponsive, about other topics, and his voice would grow agitated and aggressive. When that occurred, I would quickly walk away from him in another direction.
When he was in an area, there were specific carvings that would appear on the trees. One of the rangers told me that the carvings were Roadkill’s, that he was drawing the faces of the aliens who were invading earth, which helped to seal his reputation as a “kook.”
Occasionally, after he’d be in an area, someone would call the police or sheriff deputies to find Roadkill, because “a violent man” had been reported. To the best of my knowledge, he was never violent with anyone, though his rantings were aggressive and animated.
He’s usually be arrested as a 51-50, and released in a few days.
Years went by and I never saw or heard from him, and then I would occasionally notice him over in one of the parks in the Arroyo Seco. He lived there for the last 10 years or so of his life.
This time, he no longer had good gear and good clothes. He clearly looked homeless, disheveled, and was widely regarded as “crazy.”
He would see me occasionally when I was at the park teaching or class. We would exchange a few friendly words, and he would keep a good distance from the class. He would stand there at about 40 feet away and begin to howl, and laugh wildly. One woman said to me, “Can you get rid of him?” I told her just to carry on with our class work, and to ignore him, that he was harmless. Which he was.
He must have a hard life living by begging, sleeping in the open, occasionally getting washed away in the heavy rains when there was literally no where to go. And a lot of people saw him and interacted with him over the years, because over a hundred people showed up for a makeshift memorial that was held for him in the park.
I remember the last time I talked with him. I was there with only two friends, and Roadkill sat at our table. We were sitting very close to his “home,” though I did not know that at the time. He shared a few books that he was reading, and he began to tell me about his major thesis, and belief. There were police who helped him out, so he didn’t have a fear, or hatred, of police. But he said that when the aliens began to land on earth in the last few decades, they began by taking over the bodies of police and local politicians, and national politicians, and world politicians. He didn’t name names, but he said some priests were taken over too.
By “taken over,” he meant that the person we knew who occupied a particular body was no longer in charge of that body, and that it was actually the alien in charge, pretending to be that former person. It was very much like the theme of the movie which was made in Sierra Madre, the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” However, Roadkill said he’d never even heard of that movie, but that he would try to see it.
Even though Roadkill’s conversation was always disjointed, with howling mixed in with normal conversation, he was clear on this point that the people we think we know are not those people anymore. The alien beings who intend to “take over” the world had taken over these key people. We laughed, of course. But Roadkill was very serious about it. When I asked him what we should do about it, he would shrug, and say “Don’t get taken over.”
I have no way of knowing if this was just his wild fantasy, or some unique insight of the delirious mind which sees the world in a way that “ordinary” people do not. In the few years since Roadkill died, I have periodically thought about his worldview, and wondered why leaders on all levels make the decisions they do, often so contradictory to the common good. Why, for example, can our Sacramento leaders think it is OK to force parents to vaccinate all children, or be subject to arrest or expulsion from schools? Why is it OK for Washington politicians to tell us that we do not have the right to know if our food is made from GMOs, or even the very origin of the foods? Who are they protecting? Whose side is Hillary Clinton actually on? Who side is President Obama actually on?
I wonder if all the idiosyncrasies of our “leaders” and politicians are the result of the love of money and power, and the desire to keep it, or whether Roadkill was actually right.