Monday, June 27, 2016

I was almost a jail bird

Continued from previous post. This is an excerpt from my memoir.

Jeri's beautiful head shot photo and fabricated life story attracted numerous responses from gentlemen in the lower forty-eight. She ripped open one envelope after another from guys of all ages who subscribed to the Lonely Hearts Club Magazine. They were intent on not only corresponding with her, but meeting the Alaska beauty who allegedly owned a sprawling horse ranch, sled dogs and even a gold mine, I think.
We laughed out loud at their responses.

"Aren't you afraid of getting caught in all these lies?" I asked.

Sheila said, "Aw, Linda's a goody two shoes. She's paranoid. A chicken! Afraid of her own shadow." She looked at me, "Aren't you? You think guys don't make up stuff all the time and tell us lies?"
Well, it wasn't my problem and I wasn't on the prowl, so I laughed right along and helped Jeri construct her next personal ad.

Our conversations veered in every direction. Sheila and I shared with Jeri the details of our experience the day before at the trailer court up the road. While waiting for a load of laundry to dry at the Evergreen Laundromat, Sheila  had suggested we visit Janet and see their litter of puppies.

"I'm telling you, Jeri, it was like stepping into a litter box," Sheila said. "A damned litter box.  We walked up to Janet and Sonny Boyd's  ramshackle trailer and knocked. Janet shouted, 'Come in.'  I swear to gawd, we opened the door and stepped into a mound of soft puppy poop. Everywhere we looked there were puddles and piles, and the place reeked." Sheila wrinkled her nose and "ewwed".
I continued, "Yeah,  we slipped and slid through that mess. The whole litter was running wild so we got out of there. We scraped our shoes in gravel all the way through the trailer court and back to the laundromat. Didn't we?"

Sheila nodded. "It was wicked filthy, a litter box like you couldn't believe."
Jeri said, "A litter box, huh? That gives me an idea. I'm really good at art. I could make a big sign and hang it at the entrance to their trailer court as a practical joke. What do you say?"

Sheila tossed her auburn hair back and laughed, "Ah ha-ha-ha, YES!"
"I don't know about that. What if we get caught? Mac and John could get an Article 15 because of us."

"Quit with the paranoia. You worry too much." Sheila dismissed my comment.
Jeri took her Lonely Hearts Club Magazine and said she'd be back the next day to show us her art work.

Sheila and I happened to be walking across the parking lot at Diehl's store when Jeri pulled alongside us in her small car and shouted,  "Hurry, get in. Don't let anyone see my sign."
The 3 foot high by 4 foot wide illustration took up the entire back seat and lay heavy against our legs.  The likeness of  Pluto was definitely a Disney patent infringement. Jeri painted Pluto lifting his leg and peeing a stream onto a kitten.

"Wow! You ARE an artist. This looks professionally done," Sheila bragged. We laughed giddily as she drove across the parking lot, across the highway, and down School Road to Sheila's red trailer.

The foot high, bold, highlighted lettering in red, black and yellow read: BOYD'S LITTER BOX. The three of us snuck that sign into Sheila's trailer and laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks. When our husbands came home we showed them. Practical jokers themselves, Mac and John wanted in on the fun. 
At 10:00 p.m. Mac knocked on our door. "You guys ready? I've got the hammer and nails. Come on. 
It's pitch dark and no one can see us; let's go."

John and Mac carried the sign between them as though they were each holding an end of a banner in a hometown parade. We marched across an open field. "This sucker's heavy. What'd she use, half inch plywood?" John asked.
"Listen Jawn, here's the plan," Mac said. "I'll stand at the base of the telephone pole and give you a lift. You climb on my shoulders. Sheila can help lift the sign, and Linda will hand you the hammer and nails. Pound that sign as high as you can get it, and we'll get the hell out of there, FAST!"

We were half way across the open field across the road behind Jack' s gas station heading towards the highway when I chickened out and started babbling. "Listen, John, I don't think we ought to do this. Let's not get involved. I mean, we could all be in jail by morning for this crime."
"Jeeze, Linder! What crime? All we're doing is hanging a sign," Mac barked into the stillness.

John laughed. Sheila taunted, "You big baby. Come on, what are you scared of?"
We darted across the two lane Richardson Highway. When headlights illuminated the four of us standing at the side of the road, I plastered myself behind the wooden light pole.

"See what I mean! I'm not getting caught! I'm leaving. That might have been somebody who recognized us. Or the State Patrol."
"Go on home then. Go!" Sheila snapped.

When the car passed and we were certain we were in the clear, I decided I had nothing to lose as I was already an accessory. I stood passively and watched John shove his combat boot into Mac's cupped hands and mount his shoulders. Sheila helped balance the sign, and we all lifted it. I stretched to give John the hammer and nails. He pounded-pounded and bounded down in a single leap. The four of us ran laughing breathlessly into the night across the highway, through the field, and into our own trailers.
The next day when the guys went to work, Jeri drove Sheila and me onto the highway to view our combined handiwork. We giggled like kids, proud of our prank, and we bragged on and on about her professional artistry.

At the end of the day, Sheila and I ran outside to greet Mac and John as they came walking down the gravel road after work.
"Anybody mention our sign?"

The guys laughed hysterically and doubled over. Hacked and coughed and spat. Hot headed Bob who had a hair trigger temper, was storming down the road ahead of them toward home, the last trailer on our road.
"What's so funny and what did you guys do to him? he wouldn't even say ho when he passed us."

Mac guffawed and sputtered. "Sonny told us on base today about the sign with his name on it.

John hee-hawed, hacked and coughed. "Bob said,  'That was a lousy damn thing to do to Boyd and if I find out who hung that sign, I'll help Sonny kick their asses."

Mac cackled and hacked. "And Jawn here said, 'Start kicking ass, man, 'cause me and Mac did it.'
Dumb ass here admitted to it."

John snorted. "Yeah, but he called me a damned liar and stomped ahead of us cussing. He doesn't believe us."

The next morning Bob stormed up the road ahead of Mac and John headed toward the highway to hitch a ride to post. He glared at them.

"Hey, Bob, we did it!" They taunted him.

"Yeah, sure! Screw you!" he shouted over his shoulder.

A week passed and the buzz on base was that Sonny was bragging  that tourists arriving at the end of  the Alcan highway spied his sign: Boyd's Litter Box. They pulled into the trailer court and asked about puppies for sale. Sonny loved the sign, said he might be able to get rid of all the pups because of it.

Weeks later, with the mutts all sold for probably five bucks a piece, Sonny climbed that telephone pole in broad daylight and removed Geri's sign. The next day on their way home Sonny told Mac and John he like the damned thing so much he had nailed it to the paneling at the head of his and Janet's bed. 

"I sure wish I could find out who did it," he said. John and Mac laughed and back slapped one another.
"Yeah-yeah, I know, Bob tried to tell me you guys did it, but he's crazy and I know damn well you guys can't paint like that."

Transient soldiers were forever coming and going, moving into and out of the four trailer courts around town with their families. When Sonny and Janet headed home to Ohio, Jeri's sign sold right along with their trailer and its contents.

I was tempted to give the next family a heads up about the headboard, but sometimes it's best to just let sleeping dogs lie.

Those were the days...


Connie said...

This is such a funny story and what a great memory!

Val said...

I hope one of you had a good recipe for a cake with a file in it!

Susan said...

Oh boy, Linda. That was quite a memory. I wouldn't want to visit that trailer with all the puppy poo. ha ha ha Susan

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--You never run out of material to writer stories about.

Pat Wahler said...

Sounds like fun!

Critter Alley

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

That's hilarious! lol Thanks for sharing.

Alice said...

Pranks are a gift that keeps on giving. The "laugh til you cry" moment happens when you pull it off and continues over the years whenever memory replays the incident. Good job!