October 3, 2014

SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH #63: July 26, 1946 And NOW the New Title: THE PORTRAIT MYSTERY JOURNEY (Or something like this…)

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.

Arne Volz sighed then said, “We only got twenty-something miles ‘til we pull into Duluth.” He scowled at them. “Then I’m gonna have to ask you boys to get out and back on your own. No matter what Ed says, it ain’t safe for me – and I’m thinking it’s not safe for you.”

Tommy Hastings started to breathe again, but his heart was still pounding in his chest.

Freddie Merrill said, “What do you mean, it’s not safe for you? They aren’t trying to kill you! They’re trying to kill Tommy!”

Arne shrugged, “True, but they seen my license plates now and they know you boys is with me. So they’ll go through town, looking for my truck. When they find it, you won’t be here and they won’t have no idea where you gone.”

Freddie sagged back in the seat, sighing; but Tommy said, “What if they kill you?”

“No chance of that,” he said, laughing. “Ed would smack every one of ‘em upside the head before they could get close enough to aim a gun at me. It’s what she did in the Pacific.”

“She did?” Freddie asked.

“Sure. She never told you about…”

Tommy laid back while Arne spun tall tales and Freddie swallowed them, hook, line, and sinker. Him? He was still worried – and worried more about the Finnish Socialists and the Mobsters finding Mom and Dad. Why’d he ever leave home? He couldn’t even remember. Maybe it was because Dad was so mean to him? They didn’t seem to care? How could they care, he thought miserably, when they had people after them because they had a secret picture? A picture that could get them both killed. The bigger question was why they kept it – why didn’t mom throw it away?

Staring out the window of the truck as they rumbled through the night, he found he’d fallen asleep when he banged his head on the window as the truck ground to a stop. “This is where I gotta leave you boys off.”

“It’s dark out still!” said Freddie, yawning a moment later.

“Probably better that way,” said Arne.
“How’s that?”

“The Socialists and the Mobsters aren’t gonna see you get out,” he paused, “If you hurry up before they get here.” Both boys looked through the back window.
Tommy popped the door open and slithered to the ground. “Hey, the Land-O-Lakes is at the top of this hill!”

“Your buddy told me it would be a good idea to stop here. See you, boys. Good luck to ya.”

Freddie slammed the door and Tommy hissed at him, “You want to wake up the whole city?”

He looked ashamed and said, “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

Tommy jerked his chin up toward the creamery and said, “Let’s go before they catch up to us.” They started up the hill just as a truck came roaring down the street. The boys scrambled into the shadows and knelt down on the concrete sideway in the dark. The truck slowed down…

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