A Ride In A Cruiser; The Summer Of ’62

Rich’s only impulse was to put the car in drive and floor the accelerator. He smashed the accelerator to the floor, expecting to be thrust back against the seat and the tires to screech. The car hardly moved, with no more acceleration than his parents six cylinder Rambler. It gradually accelerated and raced past the Kirk’s home. In a panic, Rich reached up to turn off the flashing red light but instead flipped on the siren. He finally flipped the siren off and located the flashers and flipped them off.

From the rearview mirror, he saw the deputy run out to the middle of the road. Two shots echoed through the night from his sidearm. Rich knew it would only be a matter of moment before the deputy would make it to the Kirk’s house and call in the theft of his patrol car.

Rich made a right turn at the next crossroad and another at next crossroad. He stopped about fifty yards from the Graham farm, jumped the fence, and leaped the rows of soybeans like a hurdler. He tripped and immediately got to his feet and proceed to the edge of the field. That is where a stream ran that led back to the Larsen farm. He ran in and along the stream bed falling and splashing like an escaped convict, which was not too far from reality. Slogging along the steam he came to a lane leading to the Larsen farm. He ran hard until reaching a large oak that stood almost in the middle of the Larsen farm.

Two more cruisers were at the Kirk’s house and Rich turned to see two more at the near the abandoned patrol car.

He leaned against the oak to catch his breath. He felt safe and relieved. Soon rested, he moved stealthily along the lane that led to the barnyard. He crept up to the house and slowly turned the doorknob to the back door. It was locked. He crouched and went to the front door, it was locked.

Somebody must have gotten up during the time I was out and locked both doors,” he thought.

With the lights out and no evidence of anyone being up, he assumed nobody knew he was roaming the night. A ladder was fetched from the garage and stood against the house under his bedroom window. He slowly climbed the ladder and once Rich was inside, pulled the ladder through the window.

Rich laid in bed the rest of the night hardly able to sleep.

Mr. Larsen got up at five and was off to work by five thirty, Uncle Bob was gone at eight, and Mrs. Larsen left for work at nine-fifteen.

Rich peddled his bike over to Don’s house, near where he abandoned the cruiser the night before.

A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime, thus Rich was cautious not to go anywhere near the Kirk’s or even look in the direction of their property, nor where the cruiser was abandoned.

Rich tried to act nonchalant as Don’s mother (Mrs. Hastings) greeted him at the door. She was a burly woman with a personality to match. She was always happy to see Rich, but always skeptical of his motives. They had a daughter that she thought Rich was interested in, but he wasn’t. Although Rich thought she wanted him to be, if only to confirm her own suspicions. She used to say, “Boys will be boys and girls will be girls and when you mix the two, you got a whole lot of kissy-face going on.”

I heard you took a police cruiser for a joy ride last night,” she greeted smiling broadly.

Rich felt his legs weaken. His heart nearly burst from his chest. He tried to hide his shock and guilt. His head felt as if it were aflame. His eyes nearly popped from their sockets.

What?” Rich said with tempered surprise.

If one acts too surprised that gives one away.

Didn’t you hear about it?” Mrs. Hastings said. “Somebody stole a sheriff’s cruiser and left it parked practically in front of the house.”

Wow, that’s something,” Rich said. “Who did it? Did they catch him?”

That was a near mistake,” Rich thought. “I let her know it was a him and that there was one.”

How did you know it was a him?” Mrs. Hastings asked.

She is so clever,” Rich thought.

Just guessing,” Rich said innocently. “I don’t think a girl would do something like that.”

You mean, we’re too weak,” Mrs. Hastings scowled jokingly.

I’ve gotten myself into a corner haven’t I?” Rich said. “Let me just say, I haven’t heard a thing about it and my brain is not fully engaged, so as to keep up with yours.”

Not even on my worst day and your best,” Mrs. Hasting said smiling.

That conflict was certainly averted with skill and cunning,” Rich thought. “Someday, I hope to tell her about it. For now, I’ll let her think she has the upper hand in the battle of wits.”

Don’s in the basement,” Mrs. Hastings said. “Go on down.”

Don lounged in a chair munching on a bowl of shredded wheat cereal, staring into space.

What’s that about the stolen cruiser?” Rich asked and sat in the chair next to him.

Don filled Rich in with what he knew. Of all people, Rich wanted to reveal to Don, the whole adventure was his.

Don finished by saying, “If they ever catch the guy, he’s going to really pay. You don’t steal a police car and think they’re going to just forget about it.”

Rich moved close looking over his shoulder as if to see if anyone were within earshot. Rich whispered, “I’ll tell you something if you can keep it a secret.”

Sure,” Don said.

Promise.”

Yeah, swear on a stack of Bibles,” Don avowed.

Rich reached over and grabbed a Bible from the end table. “Swear you won’t tell,” Rich said holding the Bible out toward him. “Put your hand on the Bible and swear.”

Don put his hand on the Bible and looked at Rich seriously. “I promise and swear to God Almighty, and my Grandmother’s grave, not to tell another living soul.”

I did it,” Rich said. “I took the car.”

No way!” Don said just above a whisper.

Rich put his hand on the Bible and said, “I swear to God. If I’m lying, I’ll drop dead right now.”

Tell me about it,” Don urged looking over Rich’s shoulder to see if anyone was in earshot.

Rich began to relate all the details. Don was by nature a skeptic, thus he began to challenge Rich on certain details. “Police cars have big engines in them. You would have laid rubber halfway across the county.”

I swear, Don, that car was a piece of junk,” Rich said. “We got tractors that can beat it from a standing start.”

I don’t believe that,” Don said.

It’s true.”

Even you’re not that stupid,” Don said.

Well, apparently I am,” Rich said.

What were you thinking?” Don said.

It just seemed to happen all the sudden like,” Rich said. “One minute I was just walking in the cornfield and the next minute I’m driving a cop car.”

Stealing, not driving,” Don added. “What if they should investigate and start asking us questions?”

I shouldn’t have told you,” Rich said.

Look, I don’t know anything,” Don said. “You told me something, but I don’t know it to be a fact. Seeing is believing and I saw nothing.”

Are you sure?” Rich asked.

Don smiled and said, “Come on, tell me the truth.”

I’ll prove it. Let’s go outside,” Rich said standing up. “I’ll show you where I ran across the bean field. I knocked down some of the plants. You’ll see where they were pushed down.”

They went outside and innocently strolled to the field.

Don walked into the field a few rows and examined the soybean plants. He turned to Rich and paused. “We got to keep this quiet,” Don said. “Why did you tell me anyway?”

I had no real reason, except I wanted to brag,” Rich said.

Don walked closer to Rich.

If I die, you’ll be the only one to tell the story,” Rich said and socked him on the shoulder.

I’ll never tell another soul unless you die,” Don affirmed.

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