December 20, 2012


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.

Tommy jammed his elbow into Eddie’s gut.

Eddie jumped, sliding into Edwina Olds, Lieutenant, WACS (ret.). Muttering, Eddie shoved Tommy back who crashed into the door just as a truck appeared on the road ahead, coming from around a corner. Tommy pointed out the front window, jamming his fingers against the glass. He shouted, “It’s the socialists!”

Ed shook her head, leaned forward and stared at the approaching truck. “If that’s your socialists, then we’re probably in trouble.”


“There’s ten of them and only three of us.”

Freddie said, “I’m not counting us.”

Ed glanced at him, smiled and said, “I’m sure the two of you are good in a fight. You’ve had enough practice.”

Across the road, the truck drifted to the shoulder and pulled to a stop. Two of the men jumped out, glanced both ways and crossed the road to the truck.

Ed leaned out, making sure the arm with the tattoo was obvious and said, “You boys looking for something?”

Across the road, a woman got out of the truck. Peeking over the dash, Freddie whispered, “It’s the witch!”

On the road, one of the men shouted, “We’re looking for two boys!”

Ed said, “The two of you are boys compared to me, sonny. You’re found.”

“Not funny, lady. The boys are thieves. They stole money from our house master. You seen ‘em?”


“We look in your truck?”


Freddie and Tommy couldn’t see the men, but there was a loud bang on the door. One of the men said, “Listen lady, there’s ten of us…”

“Looks to me there’s more like nine – and if you want to tangle with me, I’d be happy to meet you at the Hilltop Inn up in Grand Marais. I’m a discharged Navy Lieutenant and I fought a pair of Japs off with my bare hands and broke both of their necks. I was right behind the boys at Iwo Jima as well. If you want to fight me fair and square, that’d be fine. But when I tell you boys I ain’t got no children on this here rig, I’m tellin’ it to you true. So, what’s it gonna be? I’ll take the girl on with any of you.”

From outside, a woman cried, “For she that stealeth these boys from their owner, let them change into serpents in her hands and rend her. Let her be struck with palsy, and all her members blasted. Let her languish in pain crying out for mercy, and let there be no surcease to her agony till she sing in...”

The rest of the curse disappeared in the roar of the logging truck’s engine. An instant later, the truck crawled forward as the men outside shouted, though their words were drowned out by the truck. Ed laid on the brakes, leaned out the window and shouted, “Listen, witch-woman, your fancy curse don’t work on me ‘cause I’m a good Christian woman; but if I ever hear your voice again, I’m going to have less to say and more to do. The end result will be your face in a mess. Have a nice day!”

Once the truck was up to speed, the boys sat up, blinking in the bright light, staring in amazement at Ed. Freddie said, “Would you have really beat them up for us?”

Ed snorted, ground the truck into its highest gear of the morning and shouted over the roar, “Why not? You boys seem like good people; just got your butts in a bit of trouble.”

Tommy fell back against the seat and said, “That’s the story of my life.”

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