A Bad Night; The Summer of ’62

He walked the road to the Kirk’s; the next property to the south and stirred the attention of their dog. It barked and ran to the edge of the road. Rich sprinted back down the road and jumped the fence into the August corn, that had grown well over his head and concealed himself perfectly. He walked sideways between the stocks until about five rows in from the fence. The dog stopped barking.

Rich saw a glow in the sky from the Kirk house. He surmised the dog woke Mr. Kirk. He turned on the outside light and checked things out. He had a shotgun and shot the leg off a dog two years earlier.

Rich felt that he stood a comfortable distance from the Kirk’s property, but did not put it past Mr. Kirk to walk down the road, looking for at what the dog barked, and if he saw something in the cornfield, take a shot at it. The “it” being Rich.

Rich eased to the ground on his stomach and positioned himself to observe the road and the Kirk’s property. He heard Mr. Kirk and his wife talking and the ignition of his car turning over the motor. The dog started barking again and scurried down the road.

Spike is after something in the cornfield,” Mr. Kirk yelled to his wife. “Get my gun!”

Rich belly-crawled further back into the field.

What was suddenly a quiet evening, had turned into a life-threatening adventure.

The car stopped in the road, even with where Rich lay in the cornfield. The dog barked at the edge of the field where Rich had entered. Mr. Kirk, with shotgun and flashlight in hand, walked through the corn stocks, shinning his light along each row.

Rich got to his feet, but hunched down and walked quickly down a row, changing to other rows periodically.

Ya better come out or I’ll blow your head clean off your shoulders,” Mr. Kirk bellowed as he moved through the corn like a bull.

By this time, the dog barked from row to row, with no distinctive pattern, but continually moving in Rich’s direction.

In the middle of the field was a drainage waterway that flooded in the spring and no corn grew there. Now, in August, it was bone dry. Rich thought if he could make it past the waterway that would position him only a few yards from the barnyard.

The hay mow is a good hiding place,” he thought.

He planned to dart between the barns, the granary, and the garage and make it back to the house and up into his room.

Glowing lights moved slowly down the road, over the tops of the corn stocks. The lights stopped near one of the barns. A red light came on. It was the light from a sheriff’s cruiser.

Mrs. Kirk must have called the sheriff’s department,” Rich thought.

Mr. Kirk made his way out to the road to meet up with the deputy, but the dog continued his frantic and chaotic search of the field.

Me and my dog chased somebody into the field. They were up by the house. Nobody should be out this late at night,” Mr. Kirk said to a deputy. “Unless they’re up to no good.

How do you know it ain’t a coon or possum?” the deputy asked.

My dog only barks at people. That’s the way I trained him.

They began to talk so quietly the words were not distinguishable. They soon entered the field. Rich crossed the dry drainage ditch and proceeded slowly towards the barnyard. He did not know where Mr. Kirk and the deputy were. He became so confused and disoriented from the cornfield he was not sure where the barnyard was and even if heading in the right direction. The only light was that slit in the sky and it was not effective deep in the corn stock jungle.

Rich listened carefully, straining his ears and turning his head to catch the slightest sound. If caught, he was certain of being branded a peeping Tom, because Mr. Kirk had two teenage daughters. Never could he live that down. It’s better to be shot than to live with the indignity of being labeled a pervert.

The rustling of the leaves on the stocks became louder. It was the deputy and he was only a few rows away. Rich held motionless. Nervously, he struggled to keep his heavy breathing under control. “If he sees or hears me, I’ll bolt for the barnyard and across the road into another cornfield, putting as much distance, night, and corn stocks between me and them as possible.”

The deputy moved another row closer, flashing his light up and down the rows, and then another row closer. He breathed heavily through his nose.

Shaking uncontrollably Rich almost burst into tears. “All of this started so innocently. Why not end it by just surrendering and face the shame and consequences?” That really seemed too much to bear.

The deputy moved another row closer. He was now so close Rich heard the leather strain on his holster hanging from his leather belt. The moist night air was thick with the odor of his cologne. Logic flashed in his mind. He tried to calculate the odds of the deputy seeing him and capturing, or the prospect of making a mad dash, hoping to out-run a man in bib overhauls and untied work boots and an overweight deputy.

An old Saturday matinee cowboy trick came to mind. He dislodged a dirt clod from the soil and tossed it like a grenade back in the direction from where the deputy had come.

Leaves were rustled in the distance from the tossed dirt clod.

Kirk, where are you?” The deputy bellowed.

Over here,” Mr. Kirk answered from a distant part of the field.

Apparently, the deputy saw the same movie, because he looked in every direction except where the dirt clod landed. Rich hurled another dirt clod. The deputy ran deeper into the field with thunderous footsteps and heavy breathing. Rich’s shortest exit from the filed was ninety degrees from him, toward the road and the deputies patrol car.

Rich ran to the car without notice. He leaned against it and slid to the pavement and sat. He felt of all places, this will be the last they will look and afforded him time to lose himself in the cornfield across the road. Suddenly, a noise too sudden and frightful to recognize. Rich jumped to his feet, in fright! From nowhere came the Kirk’s dog barking and growling. Rich opened the patrol car’s door, jumped into the front seat and slammed the door. The dog jumped and pawed viciously at the window, barking and snarling.


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