The Wild Bunch

When I was in high school the teachers would always tell my parents that I was so nice and so good. I never got caught. I wasn't really bad but I wasn't an angel either.

When my mother worked I would skip school and have poker parties at the house. I wouldn't play but I would collect a fourth of the pot. I sold cinnamon favored tooth picks, candy and other things.

One time I made a box filled with two wires rolled up. Each side had two connectors. I told the guy to run an antenna wire from the TV to the box. Then hook the antenna to the other side. I told him TV reception would be a lot better and he paid me $10.00 for it. The next day he said it worked great.

In school I hung out mostly with the black guys. Out of school most of my friends were from other schools.

My best friend was Ben. He was an artist. His work was 1930s cars and small towns. He also had a collection of old car parts which he used for his works of art. (I talked to him about a year ago and now he is a artist and hippie in Vancouver.)

Jim lived two doors down. Before he lived next door to my Dad's partner. His son Bob was my age and when I went over to his house Ben who lived near Jim and Bob would come over and we had a ball.

One night Jim said, "The man on the corner with the tennis court won't let us cut through his yard to get to Jerry's house."

I said, "We can't let him get away with that. What if someone waxed his tennis court?"

We went out an got a bunch of cheap candles. 2AM we went to his tennis court and rubbed the candles all over the court.

(7 years later I was in another state working in the print shop at the college I went to. The new president came in. I heard he lived near where I used to live.

I said, "I think I used to live near you. I lived in Warson Woods."

He said, "I lived in Kirkwood. Here is my house."

I looked at it and the tennis court beside it and realized that he was the one we were after. Small world, isn't it? )

Bob moved out of town. Jim moved 2 doors down the street from me.

Ben had a 1935 Ford 4 door and a 1949 Chevrolet. It was the first hydromatic sold. The 35 was in good shape the 49 was multicolored and named halitosis. On the rear it said halitosis is better than no breath at all. Jim had a 31 Ford sedan. I just had my mothers 60 Falcon.

Contact lens just came out. We went into a grocery store and went to the meat counter. Ben and Jim got on their hands and knees and were slowly running their hands on the floor and looking closely at the floor. I went to the meat counter and started throwing the meat around.

The manager came running up to me and asked, "What do you think you guys are doing?!"

I looked at him and said, "I am sorry about the confusion, sir. My friend lost his contact lens."

"Oh." said the manager, "What can I do to help?"

"Keep everyone away from this area. We need brooms. My two friends and I will watch as your stock boys slowly and lightly sweep the floor. I didn't find them up her so I am sure it is on the floor. Step very carefully. I will get on my hands and knees and make sure you do not step on it."

So he got the brooms and stock boys. Others kept the customers from going through.

A crowd gathered. Peoples asking, "What are they looking for?" Another would answer, "A contact lens." Another would say "What is a contact lens?" "It's a lens that goes in the eye instead of in glasses." " Doesn't it irritate the eye." "No they put a liquid in the eye to keep it from irritating it."

Finally Jim said, "I found it!" He acted like he picked it up and put it in his eye. He even got a tear to come out of his eye.

I thanked the manager and everyone else for their help and we left. The meat counter was a mess and the floor was full of piles of dirt. The people were standing there still trying to figure out what happened.

We got outside and started laughing. We laughed so hard that it hurt.

I had a friend from 3rd and 4th grade that I hadn't seen since then. I went by his house and he was there. We were both happy to see each other. He had a 36 Packard hearse. It had a casket carrier in it that he used for a cooler for parties. The top looked like the top of a casket. We came to a light and a guy jumped out of the back. I jumped out with a starter pistol and shot him.

He fell and the driver and I threw him back into the casket and drove off.

As we looked back no one moved.

I talked to him and later Ben and Jim about getting old cars and staging a 1930s mafia hit downtown. We decided that we may get in trouble for it. It would be easy for the cops to catch the old cars.

After high school I went into the Navy. I came home on leave and Ben and I went to a club we used to go to. When we went there before it was a jazz club with a good jazz band. Now it was a coffeehouse for beatniks with folk music. Ben gave the owner some pictures he did and she was going to put them on the wall and if they sold she was going to split the money with him. The pictures were gone and she denied that she had them. The bass player from the old band was there and he said she sold them.

Ben was drafted. He was a pacifist by nature. He got out of boot camp with orders for Vietnam. He went home on leave and said goodbye to his parents and friends and went to Seattle. From there he went to Vancouver. He is still considered a fugitive by our government. He has an art shop and is still an artist and a hippie. I talked to him a year ago but lost his number. I hope to locate him and maybe he will write a book on his story. What he told me would make a good book.

© Copyright 2001 Lee W. Gaylord

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