My husband and I recently made a trip back to our hometown of Denver, Colorado. It’s where we were both raised, where we met, where we fell in love…heck, even where we got married even though we were living in Phoenix at that time.
While we were back this time we spent a little time driving around checking out some of our old haunts. Both ones that meant something to us personally as well as a couple. We were staying in the Cherry Creek area, which made it really convenient for us to get to some of the places like Washington Park, Cheeseman Park, our old high schools, and it even took us past the site of one of the defining moments in our relationship: the U-Turn Man Incident.
NUT JOBS: EVERY TOWN HAS ONE
In case I’ve never mentioned it before, my husband and I are high school sweethearts. Or, rather, I was in high school. He was my hot college guy.
Anyway, even way back then ghosts and the macabre interested me. When Wayne introduced me to the U-Turn Man, a nut job who had a small house off Colorado Boulevard, a major road in Denver, I was fascinated.
I don’t know what his deal was, but he had “No U-Turn” signs posted everywhere. And I do mean EVERYWHERE! Swear to God there had to be 100 signs covering his yard.
Not only that, he had signs stating how offenders would be prosecuted…or something like that. Basically he made it clear that he’d take your picture and it was implied he’d send it to the cops. Whether he did or not, I don’t know.
All I know is the first time we drove past his house (slow, as it was my first time and I wanted to take in the sight of all the signs), he came out on his front stoop and watched us very carefully. When we circled the block (we didn’t dare make a U-Turn), he watched. And when we ended up doing another circle and heading onto Colorado Blvd (his house backed up against it), there he was leaning over the fence waiting to snap our pic when we drove past!
Which of course only interested me. I wanted to go in for a better look…
“HERE, KITTY, KITTY!”
One night when we were bored and had nothing else to do, somehow the U-Turn Man’s name came up. Next thing you know I said, “Let’s go by his house. You let me out at the top of the street and I’ll walk by and see what he does.”
What a brilliant idea! Just the sort of thing every 16 year old looking for trouble would want to do: go provoke the local nut job!
Mostly I was trying to show off for my boyfriend. I wanted him to think I was brave. Because brave is sexy, right? Even for girls?
I’ve still never proven my theory true. The second I came within a house of U-Turn Man’s compound I suddenly found myself staring into a huge bright spotlight. Not a flash light. The freak had an actual spotlight! Which nearly blinded me as I stood there only able to see his looming shadow behind it.
I think I may have mentioned before I have a healthy flight or fight instinct. Flight kicked into overdrive. I bolted past U-Turn Man (who was quite huge up close and personal. Like six two and 220. Not fat, but built.)
I made it to the end of the block and started frantically looking around for Wayne’s Bronco when all of a sudden I hear this motor racing at me. I turn and find U-Turn Man has hoped on a moped and is aimed straight at me!
That healthy instinct of mine kicked in again. I’m small (just over five feet), but my little legs turn into wheels when I’m freaked. I could shatter the Olympic record for a 50 yard dash when I’m in that mode. Needless to say I bolted to a house on the next block, and, realizing fast as I may be I’d never outrun the moped, I dove into some bushes.
From my cover I saw U-Turn Man scanning the area for me. He circled a few times, but then gave up and left. I waited a good 20 minutes to make sure he was gone before I came out.
Now the astute among you may be wondering, “Twenty minutes? Where was Wayne all that time?”
This is what I mean by defining moment. It signaled me to the fact that hot as my college guy might be, he was not the protector type. I get in a bind, I’m on my own. Good thing I have that healthy flight or fight instinct!
Not wanting a confrontation with the nut job dressed in fatigues and a face covered in camo paint (Wayne got a better look at U-Turn Man because he didn’t get the spotlight in the face as he drove by the freak on his moped), he simply pulled over a couple blocks away and waited.
He started getting concerned about the time I dared to come out of the bushes. That’s when he decided he better start looking for me and make sure I was okay.
In case he met up with U-Turn Man, he figured he better have a story. Looking for his lost cat was the first thing that came to mind.
I heard someone calling “Here, Kitty, Kitty.” I was crying because I didn’t know where Wayne was or how I’d find him. Worse, if I couldn’t I’d have to call my mom and ask her to come get me…I could just see me trying to explain it all. She would not have been impressed.
So I went to the sound of the voice hoping to ask the person for help.
I alternated between being glad to find it was Wayne and being mad he didn’t come to my rescue sooner.
“Hey, it was your bright idea to mess with U-Turn Man. You make your bed, you lie in it.”
So…there have been other local nut jobs we’ve come across, but U-Turn Man taught me several lessons. Most importantly, when thrill-seeking I can’t count on Wayne to bail me out of any messes I get myself into. That’s why I prefer ghost hunting. People are often much scarier!
Have you ever had an experience with your town’s resident nut job?