It’s over. The Murderer is dead. For once, I understand the rush media must feel, chasing a story that keeps getting more extraordinary. Crazed murderers who think they are starring in their own Rambo movie don’t come along every day – especially in your own back yard.
We, the homeless ones, drifted back to Fort Bragg, lurking in a holiday home with the Other Camp Family while the events of the last week gripped us all by the eyelashes.
According to a pal of Aaron Bassler’s, Rambo was his favourite movie.
Like Rambo, Aaron the Murderer ran from a brutal bust up with local authorities into wild terrain. Our woods were described in the press as “rugged, dense, bug and poison-oak infested forest”. Oh yes, that’s them, not a Sunday stroll.
Many sheds and the odd house were raided for supplies. His eerie sign, a crosshair – what you see through a rifle scope – was always left in his wake. In some cases, this mark was found right in the middle of where US Marshalls had recently been standing.Adjectives like “shrewd” were reluctantly being tossed around. Like Rambo, he was starting to fuck with authorities, especially after nearly five weeks of fruitless searching. Aaron’s survival skills, everyone hated to admit, were impressive.
Somewhere along the line he discarded his camo gear and opted for black – like Stallone in Rambo 3. He had a 30-round AK47, handgun and a .22 rifle in his artillery. We imagined two bands of bullets crossing his chest in an X, perhaps a wig of curly black locks.
Barrels of food were uncovered in the forest; this Murderer had been preparing for a long walk in the woods.
On Day 34 there was a sighting and shoot-out at North Spur – a little community two miles up from Camp – yet the wily bugger eluded authorities again. A Marshall told the Other Camp Dad “he came bee-bopping down the road in broad daylight”. That’s cocky. Then, he open fired on police. Madness! Taken by surprise the police shot back, Aaron the Murderer disappeared into the foliage, then blindsided them, came around and started shooting again from behind. Now that’s ballsy.
Then it was all on. You don’t shoot at police, especially in this country, and get away with it. Full-warfare photos gripped Californian media. Everyone, like us, was riveted to news of the manhunt. We searched his name so much, other Aaron Bassler’s came up as suggestions on Facebook.
Many more men with many more guns flooded the area, determined to get him.A careless burglary – 13 miles from North Spur – was his fatal mistake, giving away a new location. Armed militia pounced, finally they had the upper hand and when he strolled down a track they nailed him.
Seven bullets to the torso. They lit ‘em up, Hollywood style.
Unlike Rambo, where he’s made into a hero, this unfortunate, deluded soul had a different ending. There was no ceremony. No crowning moment. No redemption. Just an end to it all; his torment; the angst of those close to his victims; the manhunt; our nomadic lives.
We waited 36 days. Like all good stories, this one had a lofty climax; there was only one thing to do the night we heard: drink tequila.
The Dimple and I went to an Inn, notorious for great company and all conversations wound back to the Murderer. We met a friend of the sister of the first victim. She was relieved. Another woman knew Aaron when he was five, they shared a kiss. She was sad.
It made me realize that before he became a gun wielding character in our woods, Aaron, once upon a time, was a boy who liked a girl.
I can’t even begin to imagine how his Mother feels. Rumour has it she was leaving food in a cooler outside her house for him. Once a mother, always a mother.
His Father claims he tried to get him help, wrote some letters, but nobody listened. $200,000 was spent on this manhunt, money which could have gone to drugs to quell his paranoia and delusions. Money that could have possibly saved the lives of Aaron’s victims. What a sad failure all round.
Rambo was dreamed up by creative minds. That young boy that kissed a girl, lost his mind long before he shot, and was shot.
I don’t feel sad about his death, which is a weird feeling. I do feel sad that his adult life had more hate than love.
Yesterday, we returned home. Boom boom! Unfortunately, there have been six more victims of this saga – our chickens. In our absence they had their own war game with a bobcat and lost.
We told the children they flew off into the woods. “Are they free now?” asked Bob with his big green eyes, fighting back the tears; he loved our chickens. The Dimple and I grinned. Yes Bob, like Aaron the boy, Aaron the Murderer, Aaron the son, they’re finally free.