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

Chapter 40
Finally! Some Action! (R) for language

(MJ)

Finally! Some Action!

 

The lawyer came to see Eddie Hawkins on May 10.  He told him the Judge grieved about it, but he would not be able to support an early discharge for Eddie.  The boss on the work gang at the city park, May 11th, congratulated Eddie about being with them for three more years.   On May 12th, Eddie walked up to the road boss, nonchalantly, and cold-cocked him just right with his shovel.  The man’s sunglasses flew one way, his radio the other.  Blood came from his nose and he sank, stunned  but not severely hurt, to the ground.  The other road gang leader, the one without a radio, saw what happened and ran the other way, presumably to report the heinous crime and jailbreak.   Eddie hot-wired a car in the golf course parking lot and three other men joined him in it, hoping he had a plan.

 

One of the others was, of course, Buddy Brinley, who had less than two weeks remaining on his sentence.  Buddy grabbed the road boss's .22 pistol and hurried to join Eddie.  Eddie offered twice in the first five minutes to let Buddy out of the car so he could claim Eddie forced him to go with him, and thus, not get two years automatic added to his sentence.   Two others finally realized their three month sentences for painting swastikas on the sides of barns all over the southern end of the county weren't so bad compared to two years and 10 weeks and they ran back the way they had come the first chance they were given.   Eddie had barely gotten to know them, partly because the residual marijuana in their systems inhibited their thinking process for at least a week of the two they had spent together.  During the second week he asked where they got their 'weed', thinking he might get some time off for reporting a 'supplier'.  “Supplier?  No, man, you just go over to Mason County and pick all you want along the ditch banks.”  Odd he had never known that, but then again, drugs and store-bought liquor weren't part of Eddie's life.

 

Talking to the Pot Heads after lights out had started a longer conversation with several of the other inmates.  First, Eddie’d asked them why the F**k they hated Jews so much?   They didn’t, was the reply, it was just, well, y’know, you get so numb after awhile?  Y’know?  And you gotta just, y’know, DO something?  And so, we started sneaking around, painting swastikas on barns…and it was, just, y’know, just ….”  The other Pothead decided to try to rescue his buddy -- ”We like Jewish people, okay?  We don’t have any problem with them!”  To which the other demurred, “We don’t even know no Jews.  We don’t know no Nazis either, but if I had to pick one as a buddy, well, it’d have to be a Jew, so, OKAY?”

 

A high-school teacher who had been nailed for exposing himself to the girl’s swim team at a school across the county from his chimed in -- ”I know exactly what you mean!  I can’t tell you why, but when those girls see my proud member, it’s like the only time I FEEL something; and I jump back in my car and hurry home and screw my wife before the feeling goes away.  I just don’t know why I’m here -- the girls get a kick out of it, I think….”

 

Even Buddy, who always acted like nothing bothered him, and who wore out at least one pair of socks every week under the covers, piped in -- ”I wouldn’t be here if … well, just let me say Kathy Jo couldn’t come unless I did something crazy.   That bitch… the first time was when I accidentally knocked down a row of mailboxes out by Leesburg.  She told me to pull over in the cemetery by the church, and she gave me a BJ and we screwed and she was moaning the whole time; after that, whenever I wanted some, I had to drive 100 M.P.H. down the Otter Creek Hill and pull into the rest area at the intersection at the top of the other hill.  If I’d do that, I got all I could handle and she wanted more.  If I didn’t, she’d just whine and cry and pout….”

 

Eddie didn’t have anything to say, he found.  The only thing he could remember that excited him was watching the dogs breeding when his Daddy wanted a new litter, and he wasn’t about to admit something like that to these oddballs.  He finally said, maybe even after everyone else had gone to sleep, “the last time I felt good was when I went down the Rushville hill and headed for Beardstown, just before my tire started to thump….”

 

How the Pot Heads had gotten caught was already becoming part of Schuyler County Lore.  Hearing a commotion, old lady Grable up by the Mud Valley Dunkard Church slipped out to the barn and popped the door latch on her prize Bull, “Behemoth”, to let him into the barnyard.  The screaming Swastikaters were caught in a corner of the pen, messing their drawers, probably,  with 'Behemoth' pawing away at them, shaking his huge head side to side, perhaps trying to remember where he had left his horns.   Mrs. Grable dialed the sheriff's office and excitedly told the dispatcher, “My He-Cow has two pismires caught in the barnyard.  You should come and get them before the He-cow does.”   The recording of the call had been played over and over on the local AM radio station.   Old Lady Grable must have been from the “Old Order Dunkards” over that way to use that term.   To them, “Bull” was a swear word; their everyday talking seemed to be perfectly the same as everyone else's, though, and they used any modern convenience that made sense to them, just like anyone else.  Why she called ‘ants’ pismires, you’d have to ask her. Charley Poole called them 'emmets'.   Hell, he thought, they live a hell of a lot more modern that I ever did.

 

He had seen old Man Grable planting wheat the old way once, carrying the seed in a sack with a sort of wand attached to it, striding across the field singing an old hymn to keep him in rhythm, swinging the wand from one side to the other in time with the striding and the hymn, strewing the seed.  The wheat field looked as good as any planted with a drill.  Old Man Grable walked to the church camp lake and had, there, a spot no one else ever used.  He went every day, one mile each way, when the weather was clement.  One day, after he turned 100, he returned from fishing, had his usual bowl of beef or chicken broth for lunch and sat down in his chair to read his bible and take a nap.  Later that afternoon, Mrs. Grable found him, stone cold dead, with his German bible opened to the text…’6 Denn ich werde schon geopfert, und die Zeit meines Abscheidens ist vorhanden. 7 Ich habe einen guten Kampf gekämpfet; ich habe den Lauf vollendet; ich habe Glauben gehalten. 8 Hinfort ist mir beigelegt die Krone der Gerechtigkeit, welche mir der HERR an jenem Tage, der gerechte Richter, geben wird, nicht mir aber allein, sondern auch allen, die seine Erscheinung liebhaben’   -- 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

 

Eddie really didn't want any company, but Buddy was nervously fiddling with the pistol he took from the road boss, so Eddie maneuvered Buddy to agree with him about their next step.   Eddie had worked everything out during the night and had finally figured the best day was the next day, the day of the Rushville Auction at the Stockyards. “I figure we have maybe 30 seconds before the city patrol car gets here, and I don't fancy trying to shoot it out with anyone.”

 

Buddy nodded nervously and they continued across town, minding the speed limits and stop signs, avoiding all the major streets.  They got one glimpse of the town Patrol Car headed parallel to them and faster, so they stopped for a few minutes, then eased on to where the coast was clear to dart across 67, and into the stockyard parking lot, where the big sale for the week was in full swing. 

 

Eddie slipped between the cars and trucks and vans and found a 4wd Highlander with a bunch of hunting clothes in the back by the rear door.  Using a dime from his pocket, he first switched licenses with another van nearby.  He had already seen the door was unlocked, and, using skills perfected by just thinking about the electrical system of his car during his year in prison, soon had the Off-road-if-you-don't-play-Too-hard vehicle easing away from the 'herd' and out the gate.   “That should give us a few more hours, Buddy”, he murmured to his former cellmate.

 

“Where to, Boss?” smirked Buddy

 

“There's an old schoolhouse up on 24 where you can park without anyone seeing you.  I just need to stay out of sight until after dark.  You can lie low there while I go get something I need.”

 

 “What's that?” said Buddy.

 

“I'll think about whether you need to know, and it would be better for you if you didn't know, not yet, at least.”

 

Eddie drove the Highlander fast down a series of paved and unpaved roads that left Buddy, himself a native of many back road adventures in the area, confused as to their whereabouts.  He could see the farms were getting smaller, the dusty roads narrower and the hills higher as they proceeded.  Finally they came to a road marked “Devil's Ridge” and Buddy thought they were headed for Eddie's Dad's farm; instead, Eddie turned left and soon into the back of the old school, surrounded by new weeds – mullet, lamb’s quarter, ragweed -- growing fast in the Illinois spring, an outhouse separate from the building, the building itself, and, piling up some old fence boards, concealed the Toyota completely from any prying eyes.

 

 “Now, we wait”, he murmured, and the boys settled down away from the school in the weeds to wait for dark.  Buddy finally put the gun under the seat of the car and began to think about what they had done and where they were.

 

  Eddie knew none of the troopers in this area were brave enough to follow a wounded tiger into the brush.

 

 

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