April 29, 2010

A SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH 10: July 6, 1946 to July 7, 1946

Making the ABNA Top 50, getting a new job, writing a report on SMARTboard technology in my classroom and midquarters next week kept me WAY busy. That's why I'm late THIS time. So, as usual: This series is a little bit biographical about my dad and a road trip he took in the summer of 1946, when he turned fifteen. He and a friend hitch-hiked from Loring Park to Duluth, into Canada and back again. He was gone from home for a month. I was astonished and fascinated by the tale. So I added some imaginary elements and what's below is the result! To read earlier SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH, click on the label to the right. The FIRST entry is on the bottom!

The two boys looked like hobo refugees, but neither had ever seen anything like these people.

Freddie Merrill looked up at the young woman who looked as much like an angel as the old woman in Anoka had looked like a witch. He whispered, "Yes, ma'am, we surely do need a ride."

Tommy Hastings dug his elbow into Freddie's ribs. He didn't like the look of a dark-haired young man in the pin-striped suit. It had to be like a hundred degrees out! And he was wearing a suit and tie. Dad only wore a suit and tie to funerals, weddings and when they went to church on Christmas and Easter.

Freddie didn't notice as the woman said, "Well then, why don't ya'll come on up and we'll give you a lift."

The man's grin disappeared. He glared at the woman, then added, "You'll sit in the back."

The boys nodded and grunted as they climbed out of the ditch. He popped open what looked like the trunk of the sports coupe. There was a seat beneath it, turned so they faced backwards. He reached in and grabbed a pair of cases shaped like violins. Tommy's eyes bugged out. The man looked at him and flashed a sudden smile. Tommy had seen had seen wolves at Como Park Zoo do the same thing. Right before they jumped at each , snarling, snapping and fighting.

Without hardly taking his eyes off the woman, Freddie climbed into the back seat as he went up to the river's seat.

She called back, "You boys ready?"

Freddie stood up, turned and called back, "Ready whenever..."

The man floored the accelerator and Freddie'd have fallen out if Tommy hadn't grabbed him. There were quickly going so fast that the contryside became a blur.

Tommy said, "Did you see those violin cases."

Freddie frowned, shook his head and shouted, "What?"

Tommy shouted his question.

Freddie shouted back, "So what if they both play violins?"

"Those aren't violins, stupid!"

Freddie scowled and shouted back, "What are they?"

Tommy lowered his voice, "Machine guns!"


"Machine guns!"

"She's not a mobster!" Freddie shouted.

"How do you know?"

"She's too pretty!"

"Mobsters can be pretty! Look at Bonnie and Clyde!"

"They're dead," Freddie shouted as the car swerved right, throwing the boys to one side, then speeding up as they roared past the St. Francis Dry Goods & Hardware Store. "Wow!" shouted Freddie, "That was fast!"

"Tommy slugged him, "If they figure out we k now they're mobsters, they'll kill us!" The coupe sped up again.

Freddie shook his head, "How do you know all this?"

"I read it at the drugstore."

"In those pulp magazines?" Tommy nodded and Freddie continued to shout, "I thought your ma was gonna beat the tar outta you if you ever read one again?"

Tommy shrugged and shouted back, "I can't stop!" They sat in silence as the coupe raced on and they passed through more small towns. The sun started to drop toward the horizon and there were less and less farms and more and more woods around them.

Finally the coupe slowed. Freddie leaned over the edge of the seat and looked forward. There wasn't as much noise, so he turned and said to Tommy in a lower voice, "There's a farm on the left and there's a bunch of cars parked there, like at the State Fair." His eyes were wide.

Tommy leaned over Freddie who leaned back as the coupe slowed and turned off the paved road, crunched over gravel and into a barnyard. It stopped.

Bonnie and Clyde got out. Bonnie came back to them, smiling sweetly. "Here we are boys!" She threw a glance over at the sun, which was about to kiss the horizon. "You might want to spend the night in the barn and then get on your way tomorrow morning." She waved to them as Clyde can up behind her and scowled at them.

He said, "You tell anyone where this is and I'll have to do sometime about it." Tommy and Freddie shrank back in the seat, both of them nodding. Clyde leaned closer, "Something serious." They turned and walked toward the barn which was filled with people.

Tommy looked at Freddie and they jumped from the back seat and didn't look back as they bolted from the farm and back out to the road.

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