February 14, 2013

SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH #46: July 19, 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.

Edwina Olds, Lieutenant, WACS (ret.) bellowed like a wild woman.

Tommy Hastings barely kept himself from screaming as Freddie Merrill dug his fingernails into Tommy’s arm. Tommy looked at Freddie and even though his friend was white as a sheet, his bottom lip was caught in his teeth. He looked like the only that would make him squeak was a punch in the face.

Neither boy could do anything but stare as the log truck barreled down the road.

They could see the slicked back hair of the Socialists and the bun on the back of the witch’s head. Suddenly, they all turned around at the same moment and screamed as one.

The shriek of the airbrakes drowned out their voices and the boy’s voices and even Ed’s war-blooded whooping. The truck turned wildly into the other lane – just as another logger’s truck came around a curve. The Socialists and the witch all looked back at Ed’s truck, then forward at the other one; back…forward…back…forward. The Socialist’s driver had two choices – pull in front of the crazy war woman or drive into the ditch on the other side of the road.

The truck turned back in front of them and the drive must have floored it because a huge cloud of blue smoke exploded from the tailpipe.

The other truck roared past, pulling the cloud back over Ed’s truck, blinding them. She had no choice but to slow down. The other truck past, the blue cloud vanished.

The Socialist’s truck was gone.

“Where’d they go?” Freddie cried out.

Ed cussed then said, “I think I saw a dirt road back there leading down to the beach.”

Tommy exclaimed, “You mean they got away?”

“Looks like it, son.” She upshifted the truck and sped up. “Best if we get out of here then.”

“What if they come after us?”

Ed snorted. “Cross that bridge when we come to it, boys. ‘til then, we gotta get to Thunder Bay before nightfall and we’re only just coming up on Grand Marais.”

“What happens if we don’t get to Thunder Bay on time?” said Freddie.

“I lose my job and we gotta walk back to Duluth.” She paused, then added, “And the Socialists will get you for sure then!”

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