October 13, 2011

SHORT LONG JOURNEY #31: July 15, 1946

This series is a little bit biographical and a little bit imaginary about my dad and a road trip he took in the summer of 1946, when he turned fifteen. He and a friend hitchhiked 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 speculation about things I've always wondered about and this series is the result. To read earlier SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH, click on the label to the right. The FIRST entry is on the bottom.

Freddie Merrill screamed and spun around to run away.

A figure stepped from the shadows. Taller than top of the boathouse windows, two massive arms reached out, one clotheslining Freddie, the other curling around Tommy Hasting’s chest.

Before they could go any further, the voice form the darkness said, “Älä vahingoita heitä, Ilmari.” The grip loosened immediately. “Tuo heidät sisälle.” The big man moved the boys to the beach then around the corner and into the door of the boat house. Flickering yellow light filled the dark brick structure. Water filled the center of the house, but there were pebbly dry walks on both sides. At the back of the boathouse was a large dry area, boat hooks, boards, fishing tackle and nets, oars and the strong smell of gasoline and oil. Thirty men and a few women milled about. All of them were short, stocky and dressed in the rough, dark cloth of grounds workers, craftsmen and maintenance men. The house folk wore dark clothes with white collars.

Tommy saw all of this with his chest constricted not in terror but by the massive arm of the man, Ilmari. He made his way by himself, feet still touching the ground. The man held Freddie by the neck, his feet dangling. Freddie held desperately to Ilmari’s massive forearm to keep from strangling.

A tall, slender blonde man with an startlingly deep voice said, “Anna heidän mennä, Ilmari.

Ilmari let go. Tommy pitched forward and Freddie crumpled to the ground, gasping.

One of the women strode up to them and fists on her hips, said, “Who sent you?” Freddie curled into a ball on the ground and groaned. She looked down at him in disgust and swung her booted foot back to obviously kick him.

The blonde man said, “Annukka! They’re just boys, not spies!”

She snorted but let her foot drop to the ground. “How do you know that, Roope?”

From farther back in the crowd, another tall man with a woman on his arm stepped forward and said, “Because we told him so.” Tommy cried out in surprise.

From the pebble floor, Freddie scrambled to his feet. “It’s Bonnie and Clyde.”

Image: http://www.tiomkin.com/assets/images/gallery/large/DT1304L.jpg

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