Twin Beeches -- an Illinois Love Story
Author: paul schoaff

Chapter 21
Eddie Tries To Leave

 

(switch back to MJ)

Eddie Tries To Leave

Eddie’s Setback

Much later, years later, Eddie told me what happened next....Eddie's dream lasted approximately 20 minutes more.  He drove at 60 mph down the long hill toward Beardstown, and as he started across the long flat stretch to the old Iron Bridge across the Illinois, he began to hear and feel a thumping noise from the back of the car.  A mile on he knew he had a ply separation on one of his old tires.  One more mile, at 25 mph, brought him to Rusty's Citgo Gas and Repairs station just on the Frederick side of the bridge.  He carefully pulled around to the back of the building, parked, jacked up the side of the car with the bad tire and pulled out of his trunk the one remaining $2 tire from Fountain Green. 

 

A more worldly-wise, 'if it can go wrong, it will' Eddie Hawkins would have taken the time to go see Rusty -- never met him before -- to tell him what had gone wrong, to ask him if it was ok to change his own tire around back and though he had another tire to put on, could he give him a buck for the use of his air hose?    The real Eddie Hawkins didn't notice he was parked next to a pile of used tires, marked at various prices depending on size and quality, as well as another pile of purely scrap tires, ones Rusty would have to pay $1.50 each to dispose of.  Naturally, when evaluating a tire, the relative value of selling one for $4 or $5 instead of having to pay $1 to $2 for removal, depending on size, entered into the decision about whether a tire was still safe for the road.  

 

In a wonderful world, Rusty wouldn't have just stopped swearing at the Venezuela-based Petroleum company landlord who raised his lease fee $100 per month last month but who told him he had to wait to raise his pump prices until next Spring, and they had now called to tell him his check still hadn't arrived for this last load of regular even though Rusty's wife had taken the receipts last Monday from the previous week all to the bank and said she had sent the check on Monday last.  In truth, he didn't yet know she had given the whole thing to her Mother so her Dad's operation to try to remove the nail from his head he put there while showing off for his buddies with the air nailgun could go on as scheduled. 

 

He had only learned yesterday the stinking-of-sewer place he had bought a year ago close to downtown was about to collapse from termites, and his four year old son who wet the bed every night deftly stuck a serving fork into the arm of his six year old daughter, who had teased him unmercifully.  In that same perfect world, Rusty's customer of last week for a transmission rebuild on his ancient Packard wouldn't be sitting in the driveway asking Rusty if the engine was supposed to race when it tried to shift from 2nd to 3rd.

 

In other words and other worlds, Rusty wouldn't have come out the back door, holding a half shaft from a Plymouth he had been thinking of turning into a crowbar, and shouting “What the f**k are you doing back here!!!”

 

In a sunshiny world, Rusty would have listened carefully and acceptingly to Eddie tell him he brought the tire with him and had bought it in Fountain Green, and not yelled “Get the f**k off my property!!”, not thinking about the fact Eddie's car was up on a jack and there was currently not wheel nor tire on one axle.  Also, he wouldn't have called Eddie a 'punk kid' and pushed him against the wall.

 

In a rainbow world, the State Trooper who happened to catch a peek at what was going on behind the garage would have hurried over to ask both men to step back and explain their sides of the issue.  He wouldn't have just asked Rusty what was going on and took his word for it --“this hillbilly punk just tried to steal one of my $50 tires.”  He also wouldn't have tripped over the muffler Rusty had thrown out the back door the night before when he was in too much of a hurry to clean up properly.  Nor would he have lurched into the rear of Eddie's car, knocking it off the jack and onto his leg, which was not broken, but which was seriously bruised and might have permanent tendon damage such that an early disability pension might be in order.

 

In a marshmallow world, Eddie would have hurried to the phone to call 911 to tell them the trooper had had an unavoidable accident.  In our ‘Imagine’ world, Eddie wouldn't have used the half-axle to lever the car up from the trooper's leg so Rusty could pull him out, then he wouldn't have put the old tire back on the car and tore out before the next available police officer could get there.  

 

In the harsh and unforgiving and unfair universe we actually live in, they caught up with Eddie by the side of Rte. 67 just the other side of Beardstown, his blown tire having thrown the car into the ditch.  Eddie stood there with tears running down his cheeks and put his hands in the air as the cruiser approached.

 

They handcuffed him painfully and hauled him up to Rushville for booking and for arraignment the next day.  Since he was said to have assaulted a Trooper, no one expressed surprised at the bruises on his arms and legs when he arrived at the jail.  Among other things, they charged him with felony assault of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, fleeing the scene of an accident, petit theft of goods and services and felony assault on a private individual, Rusty Royer.   There was also the little matter of the shotgun and rifle in the trunk Eddie had intended to leave at home but had forgotten. 

 

That night, Eddie's father visited him at the lockup, and the next day, at arraignment before Judge Knowles, he was bound over for trial.  Eddie still thought the Judge might find a way to let him go, but the DA was pushing hard on this one.  Elections were coming in two months.  In November, after the election, the lawyer convinced Eddie to plead guilty to the theft charge while using a concealed weapon, getting a sentence of four years.   The lawyer also said the Judge just wanted him to be patient -- he would have him out in less than two, probably one, tops.

 

“Right now, the Judge is being watched very closely," he said.  The Attorney’s request to let him serve the time in the Schuyler Co. jail so his family wouldn't have the hardship of visiting him at Alton was granted without hesitation. 

 

Eddie didn’t adapt well to confinement.  Luckily, the few other prisoners in the cell block learned very quickly it was best not to have Eddie’s deep-set black eyes focusing on you.  Better to just leave him be.  He kept quiet, though, not causing any trouble, and, after a little while was assigned to a work detail, cleaning ditches and cutting back the brush beside county roads.  Mr. Stewart from the junkyard came with a borrowed wrecker and pulled the Kaiser back to Woodland, storing it under a semi-trailer tarp at the back of the lot.  'Slippery' Jerry Ashworth got his hands on and sold the shotgun and rifle for $40 apiece and bought himself a night with Delores in her room, upstairs at the Midway Tavern.

 

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