January 30, 2014


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 clips, click on the label to the right, scroll down to and click OLDER ENTRIES seven or eight times. The FIRST entry is on the bottom of the last page.

Startled, the man stumbled backwards.

The sound of his head hitting a rock was loud enough to make Tommy Hastings wince and Freddie Merrill squeak in surprise.

It wasn’t enough to slow them down. They ran deeper into the woods. Two of the five Finns stopped. From the back of the pack, the shrill scream of Bonnie – of former Bonnie and Clyde fame – cried out, “They’re getting away!”

A figure rose up from the shade under the white pines. Wearing a dark dress and a wide-brimmed hat, a guitar strapped to her back, the Witch of Anoka shouted, “ON THIS NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON, I HEX THEE BOYS FROM THIS DAY FORTH, I HEX THEE WITH BROKEN BONES AND SHATTERED SKULLS! ON THIS NIGHT, ON THIS NEW MOON I INVOKE MY WILL TO BE DONE, TO ONLY BE UNDONE OF MINE OWN DESIRE AND WILL!”

Tommy ran nearly ran her over and shouted, “Jesus H. Christ!”

Freddie leaped over her, knocking her down. The Witch of Anoka screamed and she hit her head against a rock and stopped moving. He shouted, “I killed her!”

Behind them, Bonnie and Clyde stopped and helped the other woman sit up.

Tommy shot a look over his shoulder and shouted, “You didn’t kill her! Run!”

With six down and only two left behind them, the boys ran faster than ever. Freddie shouted, “We’re losing them!” They ran until there were no more sounds of pursuit; there were no more sounds of humanity; then they collapsed on the ground, chests heaving, staring into the bright afternoon sky.

“We made it,” Tommy gasped.

“They’ll find us,” Freddie gasped back.

“How they gonna find us?”

“A airplane.”

“You think a bunch of gardeners and mansion workers know how to find an airplane – let along fly one?”

As he spoke those words, a low, rumbling drone rattled the needles on the trees and the air around their heads.

 “It’s an airplane!” Freddie shouted, struggling to his feet. He started to run. Tommy tackled him with a hook of his arm and Freddie went down with a thud an explosion of air from his lungs.

Tommy shouted, “If you run, whoever’s flying that thing can see you! We have to get under a tree!” He started crawling toward the lowest, widest branches he could see. Freddie did move. Tommy shouted, “Move, you idiot!”

“What if they see me?”

“They’ll see your white T-shirt if you don’t get under this tree right now!”

Freddie sat up, looked down at his shirt, then with his rear end in the air, scrambled across the ground until he huddled next to Tommy.

A moment later, a Canadian Air Force Hawker Hurricane, marked with the yellow-blue-white-red nested circles of the CAF, thundered overhead then past them. The sound faded into a distant drone, then a faint buzz until if you asked them, neither boy would have been able to tell the airplane from the cicadas shrilling in the trees.

Most likely neither one of them would have answered because both were sound asleep on the soft floor of fallen pine needles. Tommy’s belly rose up and down – and Freddie’s head did the same, comfortably resting on the belly of his best friend.

That would have been how the Witch of Anoka found them…
Image: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/503293/thumbs/r-DEREK-ALLEN-WWII-FLYING-ACE-large570.jpg

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