Holding a gun in the woods behind Mountain View Lions Park, Randall Lorraine watched the bear charge toward him and waited until the last moment.
Then he pulled the trigger.
“I got a little scared,” Lorraine said.
He’d seen the black bear sow and her cubs plenty of times before. Once, his fluffy chow mix kept one of the cubs treed overnight in the woods behind the park. This time, he said, Ginger took off after the mama bear and came running back to him with the sow hot on her heels.
“I didn’t shoot the gun ‘til it was four feet from me,” he said.
The round frightened the bear and it disappeared back into the woods.
Lorraine, 56, is one of the campers who defies city law and lives in the park year-round. He’s been homeless for decades.
Tuesday, he sat on a concrete barrier behind the Hispanic Cultural Center and called himself an old deadhead who’d rather sleep outdoors than have a roof over his head. He wishes he was older, because then his mother might’ve let him hitchhike to Woodstock from Washington state back in 1969.
He boasts about selling marijuana at the age of 10 and LSD a few years later. He drinks from a partially finished fifth of RnR whiskey and shares a package of imitation crab meat from Red Apple with the matted, smiling chow sitting at his feet.
And he tells stories about the bears at Lions Park.
He’s been so close to them he said he knows their smell by heart. They’ve destroyed a few of his tents over the years. He’s watched them break up picnics and feast off the grills at the park. And he’s shared the woods with them for more winters than he can really count. He’s used to it by now.
He said the gun and the dog at his feet help him stay safe.
“She protects me,” Lorraine said. “She’s Chinese royalty.”