Each time J.W. Frye opened his eyes, there was the bobcat, its hideous face snarling at him from the roof of the cabin.
Frye no longer wanted to look around.
The bicycle ride for hospice that had taken the Sarasota resident from Key West (and eventually to Alaska) now landed him as a guest at a tiny, dank cabin on a river basin in Tremonton, Utah. The scenic mountains and valleys that laced the region betrayed the cabin's darkness. A voice, that of the man in Salt Lake City who set up Frye with the cabin's owner, lingered in Frye's head: If anything gets weird, call me.
Tucked under a dirty cot with damp sheets on a 30-degree night, and with the leathery fumes of taxidermy invading his nose, Frye could not call. He left his cell phone and other electronics in this stranger's house, where Frye was told he could not stay the night.
This cabin had neither running water nor electricity. Frye often peeked at his surroundings -- the economy-sized bottle of hand lotion; the bobcat burning its angry eyes from the ceiling; a small brown bear pawing at a wall; the longhorn and bull's head in the other corner that shot stony looks among four animals pelts; a box of facial tissues lingered in another corner; and the cold, cement floor offered little comfort.
Upon entering the cabin, the owner unlocked a padlock and told Frye, “Sometimes Uncle Tom like to spend alone time here.”
Some night's rest for a man riding more than 7,500 miles to benefit hospice.
“I had tons of nightmares,” Frye said.
As Frye dozed in and out of restless visions, he heard lawn mowers and animals outside the cabin.
He finally noticed a small, hand-written note.“It was written by a child,” Frye said.
Frye said the note thanked the owner for letting the boy scout stay in the cabin.
“And I was thinking, 'What are children doing staying in this dank cabin?'” Frye said.
Paranoia exploded from Frye's chest like a broken pipeline, soaking his thoughts in grief.
When the sun came up, Frye walked the half-mile back to the house, and told the man about his nightmares.
“I told the guy, 'Man, that was freaky,'” Frye said. “He just smiled.”
Needless to say, upon that first light, Frye left Utah, and the horrific cabin, each pump of his peddle pushing him farther from that pit on the river bed and into peaceful Idaho.
“I was going far away from Utah and I thought I would never come back again,” Frye said. “I felt like I had survivor's guilt.”