You know, sometimes I write so bad I have to stop and explain it the following week. I believe the recent Halloween story was pretty straight forward. It was a simple tale about me and the usual boyhood suspects hollowing out some pumpkins, dropping a couple of Cherry Bombs in them and exploding them in various and sundry places around town. I should have entitled the article, “What We Did On Halloween Night In 1964 To Create A Little Fun”.
But I kinda thought that would have left little to the imagination as to exactly what, when, where and how the story was going. I thought “It Was Quadruple Jeopardy For Me!” might make you wonder if I didn’t fall into some dire consequences as a result of my immature and thoughtless action. Which, as a matter of fact, I did! Of course, some well meaning and spot-on copy editor working overtime for the paper syndicate left out the exclamation point on the end of the title. That changed the content of the message all together and might have led to some misunderstanding. And maybe, it was just a bad title selection on my part. Enough of you have mentioned it to me that I am fairly certain it is the latter.
Let me catch you up on where we were. The pumpkins had been scraped out, the bombs placed inside and several sets of explosions had occurred. As young teenagers we were simply “exploiting the possibilities” of small town America on a late October night in the aforementioned 1964. Patrolman Jim Dick Crews’ sweet tooth had fortuitously placed him at the high school Halloween Carnival just as we were getting set to roll in a few exploding projectiles. He caught us red handed.
So now we are all down at the jail. I’m ready to take my medicine. I was wondering about my one phone call when Jim Dick made it for me. He called my parents!
I would have preferred jail time. I would have volunteered for community service. I was thinking how quickly with those Peace Corps people take you when Daddy walked in. Now folks, he was as calm as a cucumber. He visited with Ricky and Yogi’s parents. He thanked Jim Dick numerous times. He was smiling and shaking hands as we departed……
He whipped me from the jail house all the way out to the end of Stonewall Street! Somehow he already knew that we had exploded a loaded pumpkin on Mrs. Boaz’s front steps…..with her standing there! Dad was embarrassed and ashamed of my action “with a neighbor, son, with a very good neighbor”. He took the whole thing a little too personal I thought.
Now, listen closely here, we are getting to the jeopardy part. I had a fun night. I had messed up something awful. I was sorry and truly repentant. I was not in no way, fashion, shape or form ever going to explode another pumpkin in an inappropriate or dangerous manner. I had been duly punished. This whole sorry episode should be over.
One of the Jaycees had showed up down at he jail to complain about the pumpkin scare that took place right in the middle of their Haunted House fund raiser. Daddy, before I had a chance to object or defend myself, whipped me again! THAT’S DOUBLE JEOPARDY! And that’s not legal.
If I’d only had a law book…..Daddy was in no reading mood but maybe I could have stuck it to my backside and deflected a couple of licks. Now, I go to bed thinking I’ve been punished twice for the same crime and something ain’t right here. I’m only fourteen and not versed in legal matters but it seems my habeas corpus had been nolo contendered!
I was all set to tell him about it at breakfast the next morning when he got the call about the dead gold fish in the pond up on the square. Folks, Ricky threw that pumpkin in amongst the fish. Yogi lit the fuse. I was just standing back behind the World War I cannon so I wouldn’t get wet. I didn’t really have anything to do with the actual—Daddy whipped me before I had even buttered my biscuit. I’m wondering now about the statute of limitations. This crime was past history. I had been jerked up from the Halloween Carnival, hauled down to the jail house, held against my will and whipped three times pretty hard for what I considered ONE lapse of judgment. Jim Dick didn’t even read us our rights. Daddy was more geared to the wrongs than the “rights” here. He was pulling some kind of ex post facto judo on me.
I limped to school the following Monday. I couldn’t hardly sit in those hard oak desks. Me, Jerry, Squeaky, Yogi and the other culprits commiserated at lunch. We compared backsides at Phys Ed. We tried to blame each other for “pumpkin-gate” but we couldn’t even remember who came up with the idea. We even laughed a little when we thought of how funny this would be in years to come. “Making memories” was the way Billy B. put it. It was the price you paid for a moment of fame.
I felt a little better till I got home that afternoon. Daddy was holding the bill for the broken glass at the Tri-County Electric. Now, I know something is haywire! That pumpkin was fifteen feet away from that door when it “went off”. We had been framed! There was no way—
Daddy had seen and heard enough for the past three days. He whipped me again! And folks, that’s quadruple jeopardy, I don’t care who your lawyer is.