The Car Parts 3 and 4

photo 1995 Geo Metro

1995 Geo Metro

( ” I’ll have to backtrack a bit to fill you in on what’s been going on, with my feelings, ownership, and travels “.)

” I was given to a girl, and although she did take pretty good care of me, she just up and quit driving with me one day. I overheard a conversation she was having on a phone type device, and she had stated she didn’t really need me anymore “.

” She wasn’t aware I was listening, and didn’t notice when I leaked tears, at not being needed. I just continued to sit in that wonderful paved driveway, for months. I felt totally ignored and unwanted, and had I been able to just go away on my own, I would have been outta there “.

” To be fair to that girl, she did take me out once in a while, letting me get all revved up, and on really cold days she sometimes started me and allowed me to warm up. She wasn’t all that bad for a girl, and she always talked nice to me, not like that guy. You know, the one with those huge damn dogs, who had a habit of swearing at me ‘.

” One day in May, she suddenly started paying attention to me. She added oil, to my low crankcase, gave me a huge drink of water and some slimy sweet green stuff. I don’t know what that was all about, as the girl loaded my back end compartment as full as it could get “.

” My poor shoes were squishing down, with all of that added weight. I never understood these human types, shoving stuff in me, cramming stuff everywhere it might fit, and all the way up to my inside roof. I never felt so bloated as that. It was even worse than having those stupid dogs crowding around in me “.

” With all of that sudden flurry of activity, I felt sure I would be cruising freely down the road! I was so excited, I almost made a mess on that nice clean driveway. And then, nothing. Sitting there again waiting to be loved and driven, even by that silly girl “.

” I think it was about the end of June, the girl got me all fired up. Fifteen minutes later I got to get out there, and out onto the wide open roads, just cruising. It was nice to feel the breeze flowing across my form, and my side glass was opened, so I could feel fresh country air blowing in my insides. Even the stuck old dog hairs were blowing out of me. It felt really swell “.

” What a great day! We cruised over the close mountains following a road I vaguely remembered. This highway would eventually take me back near where that guy and those frigging dogs lived! Maybe I was just being paranoid, but it was starting to look like that might be the case “.

We stopped after 6 hours of out right cruising, and where we stopped was all to familiar. It was the WalMart parking lot only 50 miles from those dogs! That truly pissed me off, as I had thought we were going somewhere new, and here we were, most likely heading for the dog place. I was beginning to feel pretty dejected “.

” Damn! I was right. The girl was in the store for nearly an hour, while my black outsides were being scorched by the heat of the day. Then, when she did come back, she managed to shove another 50 pounds of crud into me. Want to talk about that full feeling? I almost felt like I wouldn’t be able to move, even if I had wanted to “.

” An hour later I was horrified! We were going up that damn dirt trail, everyone pretended was a road. Now I knew it, I was probably going to have to deal with that long haired freak, and those smelly, drool-dripping, hair-shedding overweight dogs again. How could any life be as bad as this? I really don’t think I would ever have imagined a worse case scenario, and I can imagine an awful lot “.

Part 4

photo 1995 Geo Metro

1995 Geo Metro

” So, it turned out I was right! Here I was out in the country, and having to be back with all that hard life stuff…You know I mentioned the trails, they’re not roads, even gravel will only disappear into crevasse, never to be found again.

At least, the Squatchy guy, ( Yeah, I finally figured out what to call him ) seemed to know how to miss the nastiest places. Of course as it turns out, he has no respect for my outsides. I never got washed by him rubbing on me. He had a gentile touch, and was decent about not expecting me to be fast. He didn’t jump on my pedals, and in fact it seems like he didn’t trust my pedals, but who knows? ”

” He didn’t run into things and all, but he couldn’t care less about my finish. He lets brush, and tree branches scratch me! And then he just ignores them, and lets my scrapes get filled with dirt! Do you know how that makes me feel? Well, the scratches are okay, I’m just ranting, because he does things with me and I’m not sure I should! ”

” I know you’re wondering just what those Things are, so I ‘ll only say he hauled 55 gallon barrels of water in me! Here we are in the effing mountains, and he hauls barrels of water, and the two, hundred plus pound, each, dogs. And they’re crowded in the next side seat, Straddling my console, and They Won’t Sit Still! ”

” In all fairness, ” Squatch ” tries to ditch those fur balls, when he goes to fetch the water. They always find him while he runs a pump to fill a huge barrel, in my back seat. I guess he just lets them ride back, because they get in the way of driving. Stupid Dogs, always in the way! What an inconvenience…”

” One day ” Squatch ” got me loaded with only a few things. He removed the trash, and kinda swept me out, and only put a couple of cover changes, and coffee and sandwiches in me. I figured we were going down to town, maybe to the library to get some WI_FI? We ended up leaving at sundown. ” Squatch ” was that way, when he drove places. Sundown, just as the sun is going behind the far peak, he heads out “.

” This time only him and the Mrs. No dogs somehow….He must have tricked them, who knows or cares, it was a nice change.  So we headed down the mountain, and after a while I realized he was really going somewhere. I was nearly to Wenatchee, along a part if the big river we were following, when a big deer jumped right in front of me! ”

” Squatch stomped on my left pedal, and steered me around it, and just as we got straightened up to the line thingys, a little one did the same thing! It actually bumped me. It broke one of my light lenses, as Squatch tried to miss it. I got pulled over, and got looked at, and then squatch ran back to the now dead deer. It was already in the opposite lane place, and was still being run over by trucks, and cars “.

” He dragged the dead as a dead deer gets, off of the road, and came back and really looked at me and fiddled with my parts. I guess he figured I was fine, as I was not limping or anything, so he made me keep on going.  So I never stopped except at gas stations, and went to a place in California, non-stop! ”

” I ended up in Redding, at about 9:30 am, and got parked. I spent a whole week just parked. Kinda nice. It felt like a crowded place. I was always hearing cars and buses. Lots of human voices and stuff. Almost to the hour, I got fired up and made to go really fast on a super highway “.

” I remember this as though it were yesterday. I was made to follow some flashy new SUV, and it was fast! I had a hard time with it, and was getting kinda hot. Squatch seemed to know about my troubles, because, he stopped for an hour and gave me a great big drink. I never thought I could get so thirsty. I once did, but he figured out a way to keep me refreshed, when my front water box got messed up. He fixed that almost right away”.

” My water was blowing out of me, and he didn’t even know! He gave me a bunch more, and we drove until I hurt. I pinged my pain at him, and he would stop and let me cool, give me more water and start the cycle all over again. I couldn’t show him where my water was going, I think it blew out of my front water box overflow tube, and it didn’t make a noticeable trail. The water didn’t hit my other hot parts, so it was just gone without a trace “.

” I remember hearing him mumbling about water pump, head gasket, thermostat. What’s a thermostat? Anyway….We were right in the middle of the mountains, and it was a long up hill battle to get to each place he stopped to get more water and let me rest. It felt to me, like he wasn’t going to fix me, he just kept stopping sooner and sooner “.

” The trip went downhill from there. No only down the mountains, but there were no more water stops hardly. ” Squatch ” just drove slowly, not pushing me, and talking to me with the sweetest promises. Great rewards awaiting me, for being so amiable, and compliant. I wasn’t going to let him down! ”

” I didn’t get water for over 50 miles, and was barely able to keep going. ” Squatch ” pulled off of the big paved highway onto a city type street, that had a much lesser speed limit. I could feel his impatience as I made my way through the city. I was burning up! ” Squatch ” was swearing about no parking lots anywhere, just frigging driveways, and kept making me go “.

” My insides were on fire, my oil was burning, and clouds of smoke were pouring out of my everywhere! I was really starting to stink, even inside, all of my burning parts were in trouble. He nursed me over a hill, and pulled we to a stop at some parking lot. I remember him telling the Mrs. ” if it dies here, at least we can get parts, and maybe nobody will worry about a strange car for a day or so. It’s only 3 or 4 more miles”. I was encouraged about how close I was to be able to get there “.

” I didn’t know where there was, but I figured if he let me rest and get cool again, I would be willing to go to the ends of all the roads that would ever exist. ” Squatch ” checked me out, touching me in just the right places, and gave me more water, and lots of fresh oil. He told me I was great, and gently closed my lid. I had been there for about an hour, and it was really dark now “.

” Dang! Not even a mile down the road and I am already starting to stink again. ” Squatch is probably scrap me if I don’t complete the drive I started. The heats getting to me….The smoke is happening again….He’s stopping! He actually pulled into a driveway and turned my power plant off. He was patting my number panel, and saying sweet things…..I was sure he would be pissed, me having all of that trouble….He just told me, I made it, I did great! I could never ask for more “.

” Squatch checked me out that very next day. Apparently he got me new pieces, and tore some of my nasty stuff off of me and cleaned me up. If you ever want to have a good time, let ” Squatch ” handle you, you won’t be sorry! He gave me a new water mover, and blocker thingy, new high class oil and even a new filter. I got lots of fresh cool water and more of the sweet slimy green stuff “.

” Squatch turned me on, and even though I still wasn’t feeling quite right, I let my power plant hum. He hadn’t shut my lid, so I guessed we were just going to sit here and see what happened. I hate suspension…All of a sudden I felt my water blowing outta me again! ”

” He was watching for that I guess, because he made me quit my power functions, and diddled with my water box overflow chamber. He put more water in me and made me turn on my power plant again. It was a funny feeling, a kind of tickle somewhere inside me. I could feel hot water running out my back pipe, and I guess he saw that too. He made me quit again and stated something about head gasket. ”

” Squatch only made me try to work a couple of times since October 25th. Now it’s spring, and he told me to tell you Blog folks what has been happening. He said he would have to leave me in a place called Reno, for another while….What are BLOG FOLKS? ”

” So, here I am waiting for ” Squatch ” and telling you how my life has become a non-life. I hope he comes back soon…..”

 

The Long Goodbye – Squatch Spotted Heading For The Woods !

photo squatch

squatch

Well I guess this is it. I got the golden ticket, I found the brass ring, I am leaving for home. ( In the vain of Robin Williams, GOODBYE RENO, NEVADA! ) It will be a long drive. Traveling in a twenty foot motor home, towing the Nissan Pathfinder. I’ll go N. on 395, to Alturas Ca. and veer west to Interstate 97, and follow that North to Interstate 90. In America odd numbered highways are North – South, and even numbered ones are East – West. So at I-90 I’ll go east down through the Columbia River Gorge, via Vantage, and continue on to George Washington. There I can get on a cutoff that will take me to Wenatchee, missing Blewett pass, which is a miserable mountain pass, full of deer, and twisty corners.

Rawhide – The Blues Brothers (5/9) Movie CLIP (1980) HD
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At Wenatchee it’s 130 miles North to Oroville WA. The rigs ( American slang for vehicles ) will be filled with all our junk including, Libby / libetha my wife, Memphis, a tiger stripped tabby, still sporting full equipment, and Warf and Sammy, the dogs. Squealer, the 1995 Geo Metro has to be left behind at this time. It never got to tell you what happened after it got us down to Redding. I’m sure you’ll love to hear about that! Butch, this is something you could relate too…I’ll ask Squealer to post that story for you, while I’m on the road, as there is Internet where it’s parked and there won’t be any, where we’re going.

Marty Casey – Creep

Libby hasn’t been home since October 12th, and she’s really looking forward to getting to her garden. We have ten thousand things to deal with when we get home. I was last there in December, and got back here on the 22nd. News is, the snows were light last winter and it will be another year of drought. That means water will be scarce, but also, I probably only have minor wind damage at home. That’s what happens when you live in travel trailers, and tents.

The dogs got a lot fatter in Reno, as they spent a lot of time eating and sleeping. They only got to get up in the hills a few times while we were here. They’ll like getting home. They have our 20 acres to play on, plus about 50 square miles of hills and ponds, and stuff to sniff out. We don’t have to worry about leash laws or animal control. There are bear, cougar, lynx, deer, rabbits, coyotes, and nearly all open range. That means in early May, or maybe even late April, the local ranchers will run their steer up around our place.

The cows! They are the critters that make it so you have to have fences around everything. They stomp your garden up, eating all of the good stuff, and crap on everything else. We allow the dogs to keep the cows away from the house, and the dogs love that. They seem to recognize a boundary that seems acceptable for all. You, or at least I, can’t even think of fencing off twenty acres, so the dogs do their part, and I only need to worry about keeping whatever out of the gardens.

Libby wants more ground tore up for all kinds of stuff. The herb spot, and veggies, goards, for all manner of projects, and more fruit trees if we can get some. We also are moving over to the hardest place to get to, when we get there. There is a great place to build on the knoll, across the yard, with a 360* view. It will get windy there, and it’s just as exposed to view as where we are ( I would like to be tucked away in the draw ) but I know I would regret, not building for the view. We will set up a temporary site, with the trailer and motor home up on the knoll, and a large covered room affair, between them. Eventually we will build partly underground.

I’ll see just how often I can get near a web signal, and do some more blogging. Libby will be happier with my non-blog-divided attention, and I am going to fret about it, full time. I already let most of you know I was leaving, so I won’t get all teary this time. I am going to miss this great community. Thanks for all of the kindness, and support you’ve given me over the last 3 months.

Jordis Unga – The Man Who Sold The World

In my perfect world, I have a power system, and Internet at home, and I won’t have to leave it for a long long time. I hope to get back in touch with y’all soon, Just know, I do have feelings for all of my special blogging community. You have been great friends…..

While I am driving North, Squealer will tell you what happened the last time we traveled together. Please pardon Squealer’s way with words. It does tend to run on a bit, and recounts travels at 60 miles per hour, generally non-stop. Talk to y’all soon : -(   Feel FREE TO DROP YOUR LINK AND ANOTHER LINK TO SOME GREAT BLOGS! XXOO

The Sickness

The Sickness

It started in October, 2011, when I peed a blood clot. It happened two or three times over the course of a few days. Peeing a blood clot when you are a guy feels weird. It feels like an obstruction, and the dam suddenly breaks open. I don’t know what a woman feels when she pees, or if she would notice it.

Actually I’m sure she would notice it, but would probably figure it was getting close to ” that time of the month “. Guys don’t have that to deal with, usually. So I felt a mild obstruction, then the dam broke loose and I was looking at a dark, nearly black blood clot. It slowly sank into the toilet bowl without breaking up, or changing the color of the urine.

I considered what I saw for a moment with a hint of mild panic, and made a mental note of the strange occurrence. It happened again a couple of days later, almost in the same way, and I knew something wasn’t quite right. I tried to do a self diagnosis, without enough facts, and the only thing I found on the web was maybe I had bruised my kidney or some such.

I had been eating aspirin for about 10 years, at the rate of no more than 10 a day at 500 milligrams each, so I decided to quit the aspirin regimen for a few days. The aspirin was for chronic pain in my joints ( knees mostly ). I don’t do pharmaceuticals, as I believe they’re bad for us, so aspirin was to take the place of an anti-inflammatory, and to help keep pain down to a minimum.

I didn’t have another episode like that for about three months. I was taking the aspirin again, and had been for quite some time. I had only quit the aspirin for a few days, and not having that blood clot in the pee problem happen again immediately, I had thought it was just a fluke. I guess it wasn’t, in hindsight.

So it had happened again in January of 2012, only a brief episode and mysteriously vanished again. I figured it must have been because I had started eating aspirin at my usual doses again. So once again I quit taking aspirin for a few weeks, and everything seemed to go back to normal.

In March it happened again. Just as before, and I repeated the steps I had taken previously, so the symptoms abated, again. I knew aspirin was a thinning agent in the blood stream, so I lived with the pain in my joints for about 6 months, before resorting to aspirin again. The pain in my joints was constant, and every heartbeat could be felt in my knees. Even now I can’t really describe it.

Because of massive cartilage and ligament damage, my knees ached constantly. Every step is an agonizing ordeal, as the joints separate when I lift my feet to walk, and don’t always reconnect properly as I step upon them again. That happens about every third step, and the pain is excruciating. It always feels like bone hitting bone, with no cushion between them.

So once again I resorted to the aspirin, and around November, I peed a couple of blood clots again. That time they were even bigger, and more frequent. I knew If I stopped taking aspirin, the problem would go away. So I pretended everything was fine and endured the constant pain for a while longer.

By January I was getting tired of the throbbing in my knees, so I started taking aspirin again. I kept my dosage down to three, or maybe six aspirin a day, and it helped with the pain. I thought such a small dosage would be okay, and it seemed to be fine.

About mid February the symptoms returned with a fierceness, I would never have thought possible. This time it wasn’t only a blood clot or two. It was as though a log jam had given way. I peed blood. At first it was a purple black color, but as days passed, my pee was starting to be a bright crimson in color, and it happened every time I peed.

I mostly kept this information to my self, as I didn’t want to worry my wife. I also realized it wasn’t just a bruised kidney or some other lame thing. I put up with that for about a month, but found myself getting weaker and having trouble doing the simplest chores. I would have to kneel down, to get more blood flow up to my head.

I could hear my heart beating in my ears, and it sounded just like a train running across the trestle, near where we lived. A chore that usually took ten minutes to do, was taking a half hour, and I had to get low often. I knew I was in trouble, and was going to have to see a doctor.

Near the end of March, I knew I was in trouble so I mentioned to my wife I needed to go see a doctor. She knew I wasn’t kidding. A man doesn’t say he has to go see a doctor, unless something is seriously wrong. We found my old doctor was still practicing in town, and I made an appointment.

He did a quick exam, and we discussed what my symptoms were, and I gave him a blood sample, and a bright red urine sample. Those were sent off to the lab at the local hospital that morning. That was a Friday morning. Apparently, he was called before the end of the day, and told I needed to get in there for a blood transfusion. His receptionist tried to call, maybe, but I never got the message.

A week later I called him to see if he had received any information on my problem. He was shocked that I hadn’t been notified, as it was urgent for me to get to the hospital immediately for a transfusion. I called the hospital, and they set it up for me to be there at seven the next morning. That took all day, Saturday, and I was given three units of fresh blood.

The new blood was so I could endure a month of testing and diagnosis, to determine what my problem was. The tests included x-rays, ultra-sound, a complete physical, and a trip to Coeur D’Alane Idaho to the urologist. I was informed I was at an age, that this doctor would be my new best friend. I had thought I was being kidded, but even the urologist assured me that this would be the case, as I would be seeing him lots.

By mid May I received my prognosis, cancer! Cancer of the bladder, and it was probably caused by tobacco use. After smoking pretty much non-stop for over 40 years, bladder cancer was probably be the primary cause. And a word to all, I was told once something like this happened, it generally continues. Even after surgery, and a year and a half of being cancer free, I will have to be concerned with this as cancer cells would still be present in my system.

The tumor had attached itself to the bladder wall, feeding on a blood vessel. It was slowly dripping blood into the bladder. I saw that on the ultra-sound, and every time it dripped, it would pulse red, keeping time with my heartbeat, as though my heart was a metronome. The picture of it was truly impressive. It looked like a miniature coral garden, like you see on a National Geographic special.

This is a picture of that type of cancer cells / tumor I was shown via a scope put up my manly parts. This image is from Google Images via biome.biomedcentral.com

 

photo-The Sickness - Jarte

The Sickness – Jarte

The Hat – An Australian Bush & City hat.

photo--australian bush and city hats - Google Search

Australian bush and city hats – Google Search

I used to wear a Navy watch cap, navy blue of course, or black. As a longhair, from the San Francisco bay area, growing up in the good old days, I wore a watch cap. Bandanas were too much like a poster or billboard, pointing me out in a crowd. The watch cap didn’t get blown off of my head whenever the wind blew, and it kept my long locks from blowing into my face.

That was probably the main reason for me, to wear a hat. I didn’t like my hair getting in my face. Right off the bat, you are saying to yourself, ” just cut your damn hair then “. I have cut my hair 3 times in 45 years, and I don’t plan on doing that any time soon. If you were as ugly as I, you would do whatever it took to look better.

” Well, why do you keep your hair long if it drives you nuts? ” you ask. Because it’s the best feature I have. I inherited my mother’s beautiful thick, wavy hair, and without it my ears stick out to the sides, similar to Dumbo the elephant. In a heavy wind I could probably fly without my hair keeping them ears under control.

So to keep a long story long, I wore a Navy watch cap for something like 40 years. My trademark so to speak. The only problem with that watch cap was, it seemed to draw attention to me in a negative way. Everywhere I went, cops would single me out, even when I was being perfectly legal.

It was me, I know. If a cop had someone pulled over and I drove past, he would let the other people go, and take off after me. Some of that was because I tended to drive beater cars. I could keep junk running for quite a while, and a hundred-dollar car was lots cheaper than a thousand dollar car. The old cars were easier to work on too.

So now you’re asking what all that has to do with a hat. I’ll tell you. In 2007, some friends came by my place. My place wasn’t where you could just be driving by, so you decide to stop. I lived 3 miles out a logging road, and you had to be going there to get there.

One of those friends was sporting a brand new Australian Bush & City hat. He was really proud of it, and I’m sure it cost him $50 or $60. I’m sure he couldn’t really afford to spend that kind of money for a hat, but he did. So my friends visited for a few hours, and when they decided to go, the hat was left behind.

I didn’t notice for weeks, the brand new hat sitting on top of the piano. The piano was a clutter spot, for all kinds of junk. A couple of months went by, and the hat was still there gathering dust. I thought about bringing it to Fred, being his and all, but never managed to remember it. I did tell him it was there.

Fred and his wife came by again about 4 months later, and he did grab the hat. He set it on the back of the couch, and we visited for a while. After dinner they decided to get home, before it got too dark to navigate the logging road. The hat was still sitting on the back of the couch! He forgot it again….

I left it there for a year, always forgetting to bring it to him, and he never came back to get it. In 2008 the brand new Australian Bush & City hat was still there, so I tried it on. It fit like it was meant to be worn by me, so I started to wear it. I took it off when I went by his place, so it wouldn’t be obvious, I was now wearing his hat.

I forgot to take it off the last few times I visited, and no one ever said anything about it, so I figured it was mine now. Since that time, 7 1/2 years ago, I’ve only been pulled over by the police 3 times, and never harassed at all. Not about driving junk, nor about looking creepy, or out-of-place, or anything at all.

I put that hat on now, whenever I leave the house. When I see a cop while driving down the road, they still look me over with scrutiny, but they never pull me over anymore. All they see is a cowboy, or rancher. Not a hippy with long hair, and an ugly rig. All they see is the hat!

 

Rescued

Pa Fenton loaded us into his car and drove on down the road. The ride was a short one, as us kids had walked most of the way to his home, over the long cold night. The car was crowded, as Pa and Ma were in the front seat. Both Ma and Pa were old, probably in their late sixties, with silver hair and wrinkled skin. They all were dressed for court, and Pa had shaved sort of.
Jack’s Mannequin- Rescued/lyrics

Marty, a girl of about 16 years was in the back seat, and moved over to let my brother, sister and myself have some room in there with her. She smiled a big smile at me, and I didn’t know how to deal with that, my heart thumped in my chest sitting next to her. The house we were headed for was only another mile down the road. We had almost made it there on our own, despite how tired we were.

At least we would be safe now. Ma and Pa Fenton ran a receiving home for abused children, and allowed those kids to live with them, until foster homes could be found. Usually that process only took a month or so, but in this case it might take a little longer than that. We would still have to be processed through the system, and we would probably be split up, as nobody ever took in three kids at the same time.

The process can be long and involved. We would have to call my probation officer, who worked for the state, schedule a court appearance, and go through the multitude of formalities involved with children that had been abused, or were considered beyond parental control. I had been through all of this before a couple of times. I was labeled 601, according to California statutes.

601 was beyond parental control. I was considered a chronic runaway. At no time had anyone listened to or understood, my views of the events, that finally led to why we were here now. I was only 12 years old, and grown-ups didn’t think I should have any ideas or opinions, about what my brother, sister and I, had been living with. It was generally thought, children didn’t know anything.

Pa started telling us what was to happen in the coming days. I was to call my probation officer as soon as we got to the house, so Ma and Pa wouldn’t get into any trouble. Harboring runaways was as bad as robbing banks, as far as the state was concerned. It was okay to beat your kids, but it wasn’t okay for someone to save them, it seemed.

The ride only lasted ten minutes, and didn’t allow us to rest from our ordeal. Marty said she was happy to see my brother and myself again, and that probably made me blush. We had met her 4 months prior, and I had a mild crush on her. Marty was 15 or 16 years old, and pretty in my way of thinking. She had, had a bad home life, and was living in the receiving home, awaiting a family that could treat her right. Sometimes it seemed as though nobody had a very nice family.

When we pulled up in the driveway a young boy came out of the house. His name was Steven we were told. He immediately told Ma and Pa, about the phone call, and said whoever it had been wasn’t willing to leave a message. I chimed in at that. ” That was me ” I said, and then explained how I only had 1 dime, and knew it would be pointless to leave a message. I wouldn’t be near a phone, as we were walking across town, and trying to hide from the authorities.

Us kids hadn’t eaten since the evening before we left home. We were starved, and weary. Karol and Kevin were a little apprehensive as to what was going to happen next. I wasn’t quite so worried as this time I had witnesses, as to the conditions we had been living with. Ma and Pa Fenton knew who my probation officer was, so while Ma made food for us, Pa dialed the phone and talking to my probation officer started the next phase of our tribulations.

During the 60’s, social workers were called probation officers. They had large case loads, and at that time, and children were meant to be seen, not heard. She had known of my situation, and had figured it was just a case of a 12-year-old boy, that didn’t want to conform, or follow rules. I realized this was going to muck things up, especially since I was stronger than my siblings and prone to speaking my mind, when I was allowed to.

Pa Fenton talked to my p.o. It was late enough in the day, to put off any kind of action until the following day. I didn’t have to talk to her, at least not then. Ma and Pa both, were happy to see us again and even happier to meet Karol. They had heard about her, and how bad we said things were. They did believe us, but having a new source of information definitely helped the situation. Karol telling the story would at least give credence to my tales.

Marty and Steven were the only children at the home, at that time, so there was room for the three of us as well. The place was set up dormitory style, with a girls section and a boys. there were lots of bunk beds along two of the walls, and each section had room for about a dozen kids in waiting. Last time I had been there, eight other kids were pretending that was home.

We settled in, hoping we would be able to stay there more permanently. I was dreading the coming day, having to see my p.o. She wasn’t ever mean, just disbelieving about things, when it came to me. She would be one of the more decent people I had to deal with, it turned out.

Morning came and I had to be awakened. I slept so soundly everyone thought I had kicked the bucket. I couldn’t remember a time before then, that I rested so well. I didn’t have to be aware of my Step Mother slipping in and hitting or kicking me. My Step Mother had broken my nose so many times, I had deviated septum, and couldn’t breathe through my nose. I would get hit, for sleeping with my mouth open too! I had learned to cover half of my face when I slept.

Betty Ralph’s came by at about 8:30 am, and talked with us. We already had a court docket for 2:15 that afternoon. She was extremely apologetic for allowing us boys to be sent back to my parents place after the last time, we went through this. The judge I had seen told me, ” If you were my son, I would take you home and give you what for “. That was just what I had needed to hear. The attitudes back then were different from today.

Court was a fiasco, as one might expect. The same judge, my same probation officer, only this time she actually argued in favor for us kids. Although the judge didn’t like this turn of events, he allowed us children to remain in the custody of the receiving home until foster homes could be located. We were never able to be placed in a home together, and over the course of a two month period, we were placed into separate foster homes.

We finally had been heard, and I should have just called Ma and Pa Fenton in the first place. We could have saved ourselves the long walk, and all of the worry about police, truant officers, and my Step Mother’s punishments. We had finally been Rescued….

Runaways

I could hear my Step-Mother yelling and hitting my sister. The house was small. you couldn’t, not hear what was happening anywhere in it. It was an old place, put on the side of a salt water creek. When it was a new house, it was probably just a fishing shack. A place to get out of the weather.

We had a small room near the street side of the house. The house sat back 300 feet off of the road. The three of us shared the same bedroom, and my step-mother and my dad had the other bedroom. Their room was at the view end of the place, with a big picture window looking out at the creek, and Mt. Tamalpais. The mountain was only a mile away to its base, and rose to a height of 2571 feet.

We had been in that house now for over a year, and I had only been allowed outside to go to school. I wasn’t allowed to go hunt lizards, or catch frogs, or do anything that would give me a sense of not being watched. I almost got to go outside one day.

I was being let out, to play or whatever, and I was truly stunned. I get to go out! I grabbed my jacket and started for the back door, and wham! I got smacked so hard in the mouth, my caps on my previously broken teeth, broke, tearing my lips and cutting my tongue. ” You know better than to go out, where your dad is!” she screamed at me.

” Your dad is out there working on the car, now if you’re going out, use the sliding door off the porch! “. She continue to scream at me, and paid no attention to the damage she had just caused. I knew If I cried, I only got it worse, so I hid my tears, shut my bleeding broken toothed mouth, and tip-toed out the sliding glass door, before she changed her mind.

My sister was still in our room, crying. My little brother had been outside many times, and was out by the creek already. I was so happy with being outside, away from HER. I even liked school, even though I was supposed to keep my grades low. That was hard. Pretending to be dumb. Acting like I didn’t understand stuff, just so I might not get a beating.

I joined my brother on the stinky muddy bank of the creek, watching the tide going out, exposing turds and toilet paper. The houses along the creek drained all of their plumbing, right into the creek. Low tide was nasty, but outside was a thrill. I would rather have the stink and turds, than go back inside.

” What’s she yelling about now? “, my brother asked. ” She said I could go out, and then smacked me for almost going out by where dad is”. I said. I had to be careful of what I said. I couldn’t talk to either my sister, or my brother. Steppie had a way of getting information out of them. I never had that problem, because she never asked me anything, in the way of just talking.

We could see over the bank of the creek, and my dad was intent on working on the car. He either never heard anything, or had learned to turn a deaf ear to it. I heard him ask HER, where us kids were once. She told him, we had already eaten dinner, and were in our room, studying.

He seemed to approve of that. He went to work at 7 in the morning, and came home about 5pm. He never saw us. we weren’t allowed to see him either. He never seemed concerned, as to where we were, or what we were doing.

My brother and I didn’t have much in common, aside from living in Hell. He wasn’t very coordinated when it came to throwing a ball or catching. Not balls, not lizards or snakes, and usually even the frogs were more coordinated than he was. He didn’t get picked for teams at school, and he didn’t seem to care.

” Is She still mad?” he asked. I shrugged, that was good enough for an answer. “I heard Her hitting Karol ” he said, and then kicked at an old willow stump, almost fiercely, and actually looking angry. ” What’s your problem?” I asked, even though I was sure he had none. He was the youngest of us, and held favor with Steppie, almost equal to Karol.

” I don’t like Steppie! I hate it here, and Karol told me she hates HER too “. I didn’t say much, it was dangerous to say anything that might get back to Steppie. I pretended to be interested in the sunset, and ignored him. The sun was going down, and we had to get back inside, or more crap would happen. I reveled in the last rays of the sun as it buried itself behind the mountain.

” We gotta go in now, before we get in more trouble ” I said, and started sluggishly walking toward the house. I had to look to see if my dad was about, so I could avoid the wrath of my Step-Mother. I couldn’t do anything right. No matter what I did, I was always in trouble.

Today we were all in trouble, and no one did anything wrong. We did the chores, cleaning the house, and that was only an okay chore when SHE had the t.v. on. That was the only time I ever got to watch it. My life was get up, go to school, get right back home, and don’t be late. Hurry home so we can clean the house and cook dinner, and eat before dad got there. Then, back into our room.

Dad was already inside. My Step-Mother was out on the deck. She pointed to the back door, meaning don’t come in this way. I just about had her all figured out. I didn’t want to aggravate her. The smallest thing set her off, and I never knew what it would be next. I headed around the side of our house, my brother tailing me like a cat, following a mouse.

When us boys got into our room, we could see the slap marks on Karol’s face. She was sullenly sitting on her bed, staring at the ceiling, and holding her guitar. She couldn’t play it, but she pretended to, and having a big something across her body protected her sometimes.

She looked at me hard. I could feel her looking at me, so I glanced over at her. She mouthed something. Steppie could hear us if we whispered, so we didn’t. Karol mouthed, slowly, and carefully enunciated soundless, “we need to get out of here “. What a trick, I heard her loud and clear, as if she had screamed it. I only nodded, and my brother pipes up, ” Whatcha noddin for? ” and he said that so loudly, I wanted to kill him.

In very quiet tones I lied, and told him I was thinking of a song. He then wanted to know which one. I told him ” Sky Pilot “, knowing it was one of his favorites. He believed me and started humming the tune to himself. I looked at my sister and mouthed ” tonight “. She understood me, and we let the conversation go.

It was dark. My sister awakened me, and whispered ” I think they’re asleep now “. I got out of bed carefully so I wouldn’t wake Kevin, and crept to the blanket that separated the two bedrooms. Carefully I peeked around it, without letting it move more than an inch, Just snores, maybe we could do this.

” Get a heavy coat, and good walking shoes ” I whispered to Karol. While she crept around the room getting what I had told her to get, I woke my brother. ” We are leaving ” I whispered, “Get your jacket, and shoes. Don’t put your shoes on yet, just carry them “, and I grabbed my stuff too.

We quietly crept from our room, and I swear, every step made an echo, every board in the floor creaked, loudly. I made it to the back door and tried to turn the lock latch, without making a sound. It needed oil, and it made a squeaking, grinding noise that seemed to bounce off of every surface. I got the lock open and turned the rattly door knob. It was loose, and rattled loudly.

The snore sounds were different now, we probably made too much noise, but we would get killed if Steppie caught us now. I pulled the door open and the scream of squeaky hinges, should have awakened the neighbors, a quarter-mile away. It was so loud to me, I didn’t hesitate to move. We bolted away from the house, jumping across the porch, and down into the dirt.

Karol and Kevin were right behind me, and no one shut the door. We ran down the driveway out to the main street in front of the house. We were far enough away now, we could talk quietly, but we needed to get away from there, It was late, one o’clock or so, and it wouldn’t do, for us to be seen by the police. We put on our shoes, and I led the way, taking a track across an empty field. Moving as quickly as we could, we put some distance between the house and ourselves.

“where are we going to go? ” my sister wanted to know. ” There is a place on the other side of San Rafael, where we can go “, I said. ” The Fenton’s? ” asked Kevin. ” Yeah, the Fenton’s ” I said, ” But we have to be quiet, and stay in the shadows, until we can get into the hills .

Ma and Pa Fenton were an old couple. They ran a receiving home, a place where kids could stay, between foster homes or adoptions, or just when kids needed a safe place. They took in kids, that were in trouble. All I really knew, was they were nice.

” I know a way over the big Greenbrea hill, that cops don’t go on. We’ll have to walk all night though. The fenton’s place is out by Santa Venetia, and that’s 14 miles down the freeway. We can’t go that way, so it’ll be a lot farther”.

We negotiated our way around the creek, and I led them across a mile of empty fields, tripping and stumbling over and around the torn up ground. The lights from the cities around us, gave us a little illumination, but It was extremely dark. Being in a hurry, and afraid we would be seen or picked up by the police, seemed to heighten our senses.

We had to cross a bridge, on a main road, so we waited in some brush by the edge of the road, until there were no cars near, and bolted across the bridge, diving back into the tall brush on the other side of the bridge. “Just past the church on the main drag, we can start up the hill, and no one will be able to see us or get to us ” I told them.

We sneaked the rest of the way across the next town, and no one seemed to have noticed. As soon as we started up the hill, I heard a car, rolling up the gravel road. panicking, I pushed my brother and sister down on the ground, and told them to hide in the trees about 50 feet away. We belly crawled all 50 feet, and barely made it to cover when headlights cut through the air above us. We huddled quietly, trying to be small, and heard the radio blare, ” J19, request your location”.

It was a cop! Someone must have seen us. I was nearly panicked, and the faces of Kevin and Karol were dripping with terror. Karol whispered to me ” If we get caught they’ll send us back there “. She was almost in tears, and Kevin was about to cry as well. ” SHHH, just be quiet. Don’t make a sound. If he can’t see us or hear us, he won’t know we’re here”, I bravely whispered back. I couldn’t let them know how afraid I was at that moment.

The cop turned on his spotlight and flashed it around. He did it too fast, and didn’t see us when the light flashed by, right at us. He pointed the light at something off to our left. I was inspired, and had an idea. I found a fist sized rock and threw it as far as I could. I threw it high, and away from the path we would take. It arced up over a tree and sailed down through the leaves of a tree a long way from us. The cop heard it passing through the leaves and turned his spotlight in that direction.

It was an inspired move. The rock made lots of noise going through the trees, and bounced off of something. Before the rock even stopped moving, I heard the sound of something running away. The cop heard it too, and jumped back in his car headed back the way he had come, probably looking for the running whatever.

We stayed hidden for another ten minutes or so, and then headed up the hill. I followed some deer trails, leading Karol and Kevin up and over the hill. It was late and getting cool out, so I stepped up the pace to help keep us warm.

We made our way down the hill, and I angled our trail toward the industrial area, where we hoped no one would see us at that time of day. I had been a runaway several times before, so I kind of knew what we could do, and how we could go, without causing notice. We got into the industrial area at about 5 o’clock am, and the cities were beginning to wake up.

I led us to an old run down shed alongside the railroad tracks, and we huddled in there for a couple of hours. Every noise struck terror. I wasn’t afraid of animals, I was afraid of the police. Every time a car rolled by, I felt sure we were going to be discovered. After a couple of hours, I noticed school busses starting on their rounds.

” We can go out on the streets now, but we have to go fast. If we’re seen after school starts, we’ll get picked up, so come on, let’s go! ” They didn’t argue, but we all were tired, and we still had a long way to go.

We followed the tracks for about a mile, to the base of another tall forested hill. ” We can go over this hill, and that will cut a couple of miles off this walk”, I explained, ” the Fenton’s live maybe 5 or 6 miles farther, this hill will take us to the next valley, it’s steep, but it’s a shortcut, and the cops won’t see us”.

We climbed the hill, sticking to the trees. It was a hard climb because of the slope, but we made good time and only had to rest a couple of times. When we came out of the trees at the bottom of the hill, it was only 8:30, according to the clock by City Hall. It would be alright for us to be on the streets, but only for an hour or so.

” We have to hurry ” I urged, ” we only have about half an hour before the truant officers will ask, why we’re not at school “. Although we were tired, from all of the walking, and climbing over the hills, we picked up our pace. It looked like we might just make it. It would be hard to cover 3 or 4 miles in the time we had.

We had no money, so we couldn’t jump on a bus, and I knew better than to suggest we hitch hike. I told Karol and Kevin, the cops would bust us for sure if we tried that. 3 youngsters hitchhiking would be like starting a fire, so we tried jogging for a while. That helped eat the distance, but it would be close. Schools would already be starting, and we needed to get off of the streets, and hidden again.

The last three miles were the toughest. The road we needed take, to get to where we were going, would lead right past, where my Step-Mother worked part-time. None of us kids figured Steppie would be there, with us being ” runaways “, and having been gone when her day started. We were still jogging, and walking, trying to hurry.

We were dead tired after walking all night, and I was afraid we would get picked up by the police, if we were out on the streets much longer. We still had a couple of miles to travel, to get to safety. There were a lot of cars on the road, mostly commuters who didn’t have to be at work early. There were vehicles parked in parallel along the edge of the roadway.

I saw a police car up ahead of us, heading toward us. It was about six or seven cars back in a long string of cars, that had just taken off from a stop-light. I told the others to walk closely to the parked vehicles, and we paced ourselves so we could be behind a van when the cop passed by. It worked! The police man didn’t see us as he passed, but when we came out from behind the van, I saw my Dad’s car going toward where Steppie worked.

He was taking my Step Mother to her job, only a few blocks farther up this same road. Now my terror was rising, did they see us? My Dad kept driving up the road, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. That was too close. If he was taking Steppie to work, he would be coming back this way in another few minutes.

There were a lot of cars parked on the side of the road, but I didn’t see another truck or van to hide behind. My panic was taking over, and my mind was racing through plans, as to what we might be able to do. There were parking meters along the edge of the sidewalk. I was looking down at the gutter and spotted a dime, someone must have dropped. If we could find enough change, we could catch a bus! I told Karol, she should cross the road, and look along the street edge for more change.

She argued about that. She didn’t want us to separate, especially with our Dad in the vicinity. It made sense, but I thought we would be better off if we found some more money. She won that battle. I knew it was asking a lot. We all were scared, tired, out of options, and in a panic. We were so close.

On the other side of the street, about half a block farther was a gas station, and off to the side of it was a phone booth. We could call the Fenton’s! How is it I hadn’t thought of that before now? They had told me I could call them, if I ever needed help. We were close to their place, so the call shouldn’t be a toll call. That was the answer, and it would put us on the other side of the road. Maybe my dad wouldn’t be looking here for us.

The last time I had run away, I had Kevin with me. Steppie never even called the police! We were gone from home for two weeks, and she didn’t report it. Maybe my Dad didn’t know we had run away. Maybe to him, we weren’t missing, and he wouldn’t be looking. All of the wishful thoughts rattled around my brain. All of the positive maybe’s left me feeling like we had a chance.

” Cross the street, after these cars pass, and we’ll go to the gas station ” I told them. ” I have that dime, and there’s a phone booth over there “, I pointed with my chin. ” We can call them and maybe they’ll come get us. Also Dad might be coming by here again in a few minutes, and I don’t see anywhere else to hide. You kin go into the bathrooms while I try to call the Fenton’s. If Dad drove by, he’d only see a kid in a phone booth, and it’s half way back of the station “. I hoped I sounded convincing, so we could get off of the streets, and out of sight.

The line of cars passed, and we dashed across the street, and just kept running to the side of the gas station. I was faster than them, by a mile. I got in the phone booth, and slammed the door shut, before they even made it half way there.

The phone book was in there, and it was pretty new, not all ripped up like they get. I started looking for their number, still watching for my dad’s car, and praying the Fentons would be there. I found the number, dropped my only dime in the slot, and heard the chime of the phone eating my dime. The dial tone came on and I carefully started dialing. 4….3…5…..7…….9………1.8……..itstarted to ring in the earpiece, and I impatiently counted rings. 1…..2…..3……4…..Karol and Kevin were just shutting the doors to the restrooms, and there was my Dad’s car! It rolled by, and he never looked! 6…..7…..8..” hello? ” It was a kid, not Ma or Pa Fenton. ” I’m trying to reach Ma or Pa Fenton ” I spoke as, grown up as I could sound. ” They aren’t here, could I take a message? ” the kid asked. My hopes crashed, so much for wishful thinking, I thought. I wasn’t going to be able to call them back, and I didn’t know if you could even call a phone booth. I was starting to panic again, and my brain mentioned Marty to me. ” Is Marty there? ” I asked hopefully. ” No, Marty had to go to court, that’s where Ma n Pa are too” the kid replied. That meant we couldn’t get them to pick us up. Court can take all day sometimes. I know, I’ve been to court a couple of times already. ” D’you know when they’ll be back? ” I asked, knowing already this was a waste of a dime. ” They said about one, if things went smooth” he replied, sounding confidently. My hopes were smashed, now what are we going to do? We can’t stay around here, and we can’t be on the streets, and I was running out of ideas. ” Okay ” I said, ” Thanks, guess I’ll just go ” I blurted, not knowing what to say anymore. It wouldn’t matter who I was, or what I wanted. This kid wouldn’t be able to help, or do anything for me. I hung the receiver up hard, hoping, that would fool the thing into giving me back my dime, and growled when it didn’t.

The convalescent home Steppie worked at was only another block farther up the road, and we would have to pass by it. There was a park, we might be able to hide in, but it was going to be risky going 3 or 4 more blocks. The parking meter zone, would quit at the next corner, and there wouldn’t be parked cars to help shield us.

I told Karol and my brother what was up, and we debated what to do. We all knew we couldn’t stay here in the restrooms, and we shouldn’t be on the streets. How come I always had to do stuff, with no real options, I wondered to myself? All the grown-ups always talked about solutions, and all I ever had was problems.

We ran back across the street, and made for the park, hoping no one would see us. As we went passed the nursing home, we saw Steppie, shaking out some sheets through a second floor window! We ran as fast as we could for the last few blocks to the park. There was a little dip in the center, with a few trees around an old beat up picnic table and rusted firebox. We crawled under the table, sure we would get caught.

” I saw HER up there, on the second floor ” my sister said quietly, ” SHE looked right at us! What are we going to do? ” I shrugged, I didn’t know what to do. If it were a math problem, it would at least have something on the other side of the equal sign. I didn’t see that something. I was fresh out of ideas. ” We’ll have to stay hidden here, until schools get out ” I stammered, ” There’s no way we can get another mile down the road, and there’s nothing we could do”.

My brain was spinning! We were in trouble. My Dad wouldn’t normally drive Steppie to work, so he must know we were gone. She saw us, maybe, but she couldn’t call him, yet. But if she did see us, she could call the cops! We were only three blocks from where she was, and if they looked for us, they would check here!

Hope, was only another mile away, and town was thinning. We didn’t belong on any street, or in any public place. We were supposed to be in school. It was almost 10 o’clock, by my reckoning, and we needed to lay low until at least 2 o’clock. I said we could probably rest for the time being, and I would see if there was something else we do. All I could do, was to try to keep us from panicking, and exposing ourselves.

We were only hidden from the street. If anyone decided to walk through the small park, they would see three kids hiding under a picnic table. I just hoped we could wait it out without being discovered. We all were tired, but I was so pent-up with nervous energy, I could barely lay there quietly.

Every car that slowed on the roadway caused me to jump. Every sound was clear to me. I could hear voices of people walking by out near the street, and was sure, I would see them peering into the park looking for us. The time did not pass nearly fast enough. It seemed time had actually stopped.

Finally! A school bus rolled by, but it was empty. I saw Karol and Kevin were napping and I didn’t want to bother them. I was getting antsy. Just a bit longer, and we could continue in the open, without being too obvious. It occurred to me, if we were being sought by police, we would only be too obvious anyway. We needed to walk separately when we did get to go. We needed to appear as though we had nothing in common, aside from coming home from school.

Another bus was rolling by, and slowing near the park. It was full of mixed aged kids. ” Hey you two, it’s time to go. I will go in front, cuz I know where it is. Kevin, you need to follow me, and stay back about 5 feet. Can’t hide we’re brothers, if the cops are really looking, we’re dead. Karol, you gotta stay back about 30 feet, like from here to that fountain, so it ain’t like you’re with us “. I finished explaining my long thought out plan.

We were able to be seen now without looking too out-of-place. I learned the last time I split, you had to look like you belonged where you were. We could blend in with the other kids getting off of the bus. We left the pit area and ran over to the restrooms and got drinks at the fountain.

I led the way with my brother trailing my steps. There were about six other kids walking past the park, and a few more were cutting through it from the other side. Karol waited until we were well ahead of her and followed. There were kids between my sister and us boys, and when I looked back there, I think it would have fooled anyone.

Some of the kids were turning off the sidewalk at different houses, and cross streets. We weren’t quite pacing the bus, and that meant we would run out of kid cover fast. I tried to go faster, without being too obvious, but we all were hungry and dead tired. The bus dropping kids off, was already a half of a mile ahead, and there was no way we would be able to keep up with it.

There were cars going by, probably Moms picking up kids, and getting groceries. So far no cops, but even I knew they liked to hide behind stuff and wait. A purple car went past and then hit the brakes. The car pulled over to the shoulder, on the other side of the road, and stopped. The back window was rolling down and a girl yelled in my direction. I looked behind me and saw Karol walking slowly, hanging back about 50 feet. There was no one between us anymore,

” Rusty! What are you doing here? ” she shouted out of the window. The driver was getting out of the car, and I recognized him. It was Pa Fenton! I couldn’t believe my eyes or our good fortune. ” Karol, catch up, we got a ride! ” I shouted, and she double timed it, catching up fast. Pa was crossing the road, studying us and smiling. He was probably in his late 60’s, and moved pretty slow. He was grizzly looking, because he didn’t care much for shaving.

” Watcha doin, and who’s that? ” he asked me, while pointing at Karol. I hugged him, so happy to be rescued. I told him we ran away in the middle of the night, and what we had to do to get there. He shook Karol’s hand and told us to get into the car. Never had I felt as safe or secure before that. Pa had seen us, and we would be safe now.

The Crash Of ” 63 “

photo-62 Dodge station wagon

62 Dodge station wagon
http://www.forwardlook.net

 

The Boy opened his eyes. He hadn’t realized they were shut. What happened, he wondered? He had been watching the road, a four lane highway with a large meridian, between the north and south lanes.

He had been watching the sun setting over the high hills. It was nearly dark now, and he still didn’t know why his eyes had been shut. He wasn’t tired, it was only five o’clock and bed time wouldn’t be until eight thirty, or nine if there was a good show on the t.v.

The scenery in front of him didn’t make any sense. Why was he sitting on the side of the highway? He was on the shoulder of the roadway. Small pebbles were poking him in the butt, and he shifted position to be more comfortable.

Karol, his older sister was on his left, to the north and Kevin, his younger brother was on his right. They both were sitting on the shoulder just as he was, and neither of them seemed to know what was going on either.

Headlights were stacked up behind the 1962 Dodge wagon his dad drove. Where is dad, he wondered? Where is Lynda, his oldest sister? Mom isn’t here either he thought. We were all together in the car, heading to Simons, to get groceries and maybe ice cream too. If we were good, we would get a treat.

A man he had never seen before, walked up, and asked how they were doing. The kids only shrugged and stared down the highway at the family wagon. More headlights were behind it now, and the boy could hear a siren wailing in the distance.

That stranger who had asked how the children were, was placing lit flares alongside the wagon. The man-made a pathway out of the flares. They were about 15 feet apart and the path between them was about 10 feet wide. It snaked this way, around the back of the wagon, and then snaked the other way, around something yet unseen.

The flares were a fiery crimson and sputtered sparks around. They smoked, and the smell was just like eggs that were hard-boiled and shelled. Highway flares the boy told himself. Those are what gets used when there’s an accident. We must have crashed, he thought.

The sirens were closer now, but they were behind the car. The car was blocking almost all of the black top and it blocked everything from view. The boy wondered if he and his siblings had been set where they were on purpose. Maybe the children weren’t supposed to see, what was hidden beyond the station wagon.

The flares were much brighter now. They were placed in a funny way, the boy thought. He knew, they were put there so people could drive around the obstruction. He just didn’t understand why the pathway for the other cars was laid out the way it was. It reminded him of a big fat gophersnake.

The siren noise turned itself off, as an ambulance swerved around the vehicles impeding it’s progress. It was just coming to a stop behind the station wagon when that strange man, walked up to the still sitting kids on the shoulder of the black top. ” You kids should come with me” he said. He seemed like a nice enough person, not like someone the kids should avoid.

The children got up slowly, warily following the man. The girl was 11 or 12 years old and the taller of the boys was maybe 9. The youngest, Kevin was about 8, and he didn’t seem to see any problem with going somewhere with the stranger. The older boy, was not so sure about going anywhere, especially with someone Mom and Dad didn’t know or introduce him to.

The boy had been in trouble not long before, for pretending to hitch hike. He remembered being told not to go anywhere with people he did not know. ” Never get into a car with a stranger” he had been told. the boy remembered because he got a spanking for doing that. The children walked with the strange man to a van parked off of the roadway. It was a pretty new van, with 3 rows of seats in it, and had been parked in the median strip between the lanes of the highway.

As the children were getting into the stranger’s van, the oldest boy looked back to where the family wagon was. From the elevated position the boy could see what had been hidden, while he was sitting on the ground. The station wagon didn’t look right. The front end was smashed, and it looked like the roof was bent upward. Only the color was right. The station wagon was nearly unrecognizable, and in the near dark, looked like someone had put a demolition derby car there.

The damage didn’t look all that bad, the boy thought. The front drivers door was opened all of the way back to the fender. It looked to the boy, like the hinges were broken, at least on the bottom. There didn’t appear to be a front seat in the wagon, and the boy wondered how that could be so. The car wasn’t all that old, only a couple of years.

The kids were seated in the back seat of the van, and the strange man said, ” kids, I will be taking you to visit a neighbor of your’s”. He then started up the van and pulled it onto the highway. The driver had to follow another path, lined with sputtering bright red flares, around another obstruction.

There were two obstructions. one was a large deer, dead and bloody, with cuts and gashes all over its body, laying in a pool of congealing blood. The body of the animal was twisted in a unnatral pose, not like other dead deer, the boy had seen in his life. This one looked like someone crumpled it up, as you might do with a wad of paper, and then dropped it from a high place. There was blood everywhere.

As the van weaved its way through the flare lit lane, the boy saw the front seat, just the bottom part, laying alongside the roadway. It had to be 150 feet from the wagon, the boy judged. Along side the seat there was a body laying in another puddle of dark ooze. ” That’s my dad ” the boy said, and craned his neck farther to the rear, to see more.

The van had finished negotiating the flare path and was gaining speed, leaving the scene of the accident. It was getting dark, and becoming hard to make out what was now behind the van. The boy had seen his dad laying there in his jacket, a white leather one, and there was blood on it also. It looked as though someone had finger painted the jacket, as there wasn’t much of the white color left. Just a reddish, brown finger painting.

The van was heading back toward Concord, another 24 miles away. The man driving didn’t pay very much attention to the kids in the back seat. He kept his eyes on the road, and only made a comment or two, during the ride away from the crash. It was too dark, and too far back to see what was happening at the place where the accident had happened. The boy stopped looking back there and looked out of the front of the van. He could see the stranger’s eyes, studying, the children through the rear view mirror as they drove in silence toward home…..