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Farm Boys and the Goderich jail

December 22, 2017




I had a shower and got cleaned up while Shorty’s dad made supper. Before we sat at the table, Shorty’s brother Bill arrived. Bill and I hit it off right away. Bill had been slated to help with the pigs the next day. He was really glad that he didn’t have to cut pigs, and I was happy when Bill invited me along to go out for the evening. We ate our fill and Shorty’s dad wished us well as we climbed into Bill’s red and white ‘67 Impala.

It was when we drove to Bill’s buddy’s place that I learned that Bill had a case of beer; and his buddy Dan was to bring along another case. I offered to chip in for the beer, but Bill said that by helping cut the pigs I had contributed more than enough. It was when I saw Dan packing 24 bottles of beer that I asked about and learned the eastern definition of a case of beer. Well, at least we weren’t likely to run out. Dan and I were introduced over the first of the 48 beers.

Bill and Dan filled me in on the program for the evening as we drove. There was a dance in a town about half an hour away and the girls in that town were reputed to be friendly and fun-loving, especially if there was plenty of beer around. Not only had my companions scouted out a likely venue to meet friendly girls, but they had also procured enough beer to ensure the success of their plan. As I drank my second beer, it seemed that I had taken up with a couple of smooth operators and it promised to be a great night.

We parked the Impala, had a smoke, and opened another beer. We figured to dance for a while, scout out the available members of the opposite sex, and eventually invite a few of the girls along for a party at the lake. After finalizing the plan, we stubbed out our smokes, knocked back the beers, and tossed the empty bottles into the brush. We went to the hall’s entrance, paid, and sauntered into the dance. Things went like clockwork. There were indeed fun-loving girls all over the place. Bill was our star player. He was a big strapping fellow about six-foot two with dark hair and a winning smile. Dan was a little smaller and not as outgoing, but teamed with Bill he did all right. I, on the other hand, felt a bit out of place at first, but with some alcohol-induced confidence and a winning smile from a curly-haired girl named Suzie, was soon having a swell time, too.

It didn’t take long at all to gather up our newfound partners and slip out to the Chev. We were smoking and joking and having a beer in the parking lot with these great girls when some of the local lads took exception to our visit to their territory. Instead of our little group having a few drinks and a few laughs, the atmosphere quickly turned stormy. It was rudely suggested that we go home. I then learned that Dan had a short temper and an inflammatory manner of speaking. He offered an insult to a like-minded fellow from the other side and punctuated his observation with a poke in the nose. A couple of the boys immediately wanted to take a round out of Dan and he was eager to oblige. Bill wasn’t shy either and waded right in, and in a blink, I was drawn into the scuffle as well by somebody who grabbed me by the shoulder and clipped me on the side of the head with his fist.

It was a little different from my afternoon with the pigs in that these guys wanted to hit me, but on the bright side, there was a lot less squealing and it was easier to move without wearing oversize gumboots. However, before much fighting really happened, we heard a yell that somebody had called the cops, and the other combatants disappeared like rats down a sewer drain. We bailed into the car and left. I remember seeing a demure little wave from Suzie as we tore out of the parking lot.

As Bill explained as we made our getaway, the cops knew his car, and if we got caught with the beer there would be hell to pay. Dan then explained that he and Bill had been in some trouble with the cops before and there was nothing those cops would like better than to toss the three of us into the county jail. (The one in Goderich, remember?) As if to make his point, a police car whined up the street after us with no interest at all in the parking lot we had just left. I felt the bruise on the side of my head and worried about the cops. Through the haze of a few beers, the nasty picture of a night in jail began to emerge.

JAIL! The can, the clink, the cooler, the joint, the slammer, stir, up the river, the crowbar hotel. Yep, bread and water, mean and cruel guards, probably a hanging judge. I didn’t want to go to jail. I was beginning to fear the worst with those police after us, but lucky for me, Bill and Dan had a plan for this turn of events as well.

“Don’t worry,” said Dan, opening fresh beers, “we have a plan.”

The first part of the plan was to drive really, really, fast. Bill was executing that part. That Chev was quite a fast car. It was one of the few cars I have ridden in with a 427 cubic inch engine. When Bill stood on the accelerator pedal, it growled. It was a good thing I was drunk, or I might have gotten nervous as I watched the speedometer climb. Bill was a good driver though, and was doing a great job. He kept his beer between his legs for the turns and twists and only drank on the straightaways.

Dan told me his part of the plan was to really piss off the cops, as he held up his empty beer bottle, leaned out of the window, and tossed it back towards the cop car. “It’s good I can throw left- handed,” he reported, taking another empty from Bill. Although the fast driving might have given the cops enough reason to be after us, I believe to this day that tossing the beer bottles at them was what really motivated them to catch us. Like poking a stick in a beehive or waving a red flag at a bull, Dan was masterful at doing his part and kept those cops riled up.

I could see that both Bill and Dan were executing their parts perfectly, but I still failed to see how the outcome of this chase could be good in any way. I did notice that Bill had been taking twists and turns to less and less traveled roads and we were now barrelling down a dirt road with the Chev throwing up clouds of dust like a volcanic plume behind us. The cop car was somewhere back in that dust wailing impotently. Then the road emptied into a gravel pit; there were just two tracks in front of us. This looked like a dead end to me as we slowed a bit and I began to envision life in prison again, but before I could dwell on those thoughts, Dan began to cackle and congratulate Bill who was grinning broadly. The dust had died down a bit and the police car closed up on us a little. I felt left out of the joke. I was going to ask one of the guys what they were grinning about when everything went weird.

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