After we recovered from the shock of being the only survivors on our inundated planet, we went on to find other playgrounds. The ferry at Sylamore was still running in those days and the last ferry of the day left just about dark. It was an adventure to ride that last trip across because it was a current driven ferry and slid silently across the river on a cable in the dark. It was about a fifty mile out-of-the-way trip to get back where you wanted to be, but worth it for that spooky ride. There’s something close and comfortable about sitting quietly in the dark and listening to the water lap up against the gunwales.
There were mountains to climb, rivers to swim, bluffs to jump off into crystal clear holes, and I can’t imagine 3 fifteen year old boys having a better summer. We explored, or at least partially explored some of the limestone caves that dot and wormhole the Ozarks for miles upon miles. But sadly, a lot of that week is blurred by the amount of drugs I was using in those days. I really wish that I could recall all of the events of that week with the clarity that a fifteen year old should own.
Towards the end of our week, we were heading towards Fifty-Six, Arkansas when the old goat started to make some odd noises and sort of start to “thump.” As we started to ascend the 7 mile hill to Mountain View, the thumping became more pronounced and the car began to jerk and lurch. It became impossible to drive more than five miles per hour as the rear end would pitch and buck.
When we finally made it as far as the Mountain View city limits, we found a pull over place and buttoned down for the night. A snack of crackers, summer sausage, cream cheese and blackberry jelly, a couple of beers and a little toke and we were ready to turn in. I loaded the old pistol and slid it under my rolled up jacket that my head rested on.
In the morning we hiked into the town proper, and found a wrecker service to come and look at the car. “Looks like the rear end’s shot,” he said. We asked him to tow the car to his shop and hold it for us until we could make arrangements.
We packed our clothes, what little food was left, and our sundries into a couple of knapsacks and closed the trunk. The pot was carefully hidden in a flashlight and I dropped the revolver into my knapsack and slung it. Little did I realize that our friend from the wrecker service was still watching us from his office window.
We got out on the highway and started to hike in the general direction of Little Rock, trying to thumb a ride from passing pick-up trucks and cars. As we reached the city limits, a police car pulled up with his windows down and asked, “You boys trying to get back to Little Rock?” I guess Tow-Truck guy had filled him in on our itinerary.
“Yessir.” We were always super polite when it came to the man.
With a fluid upward movement he shifted the car into park and swung out into the gravel. “You fellers got any weapons, guns – knives – atom bombs?” He asked, “Any drugs? Pot, acid, hair-ee-on? Anything I should know about?”
“Well, I guess you won’t mind if I take a look, then, will you?”
The Sheriff went through my knapsack and immediately found the revolver. “Boys, we cain’t talk here. We need to go on down to the courthouse.” It was my first ride in a police car.
At the courthouse we had “trained” detectives go through all of our stuff with a fine tooth comb. I remember the officer tossing the flashlight onto the pile along with the “extra” batteries and not thinking a thing of it. He did have questions as to why Wyatt was carrying a package of Zig-Zag papers in his wallet. I was told that the gun could be picked up “when you come back with your daddy.”
Then we had to walk all the way back out to the city limits again. “Walk on the left facing traffic.” The Sheriff said as we left.
A couple of rides got us down the mountain to Choctaw and it began to rain. I was awfully glad when a van pulled over and said he was going all the way to Little Rock.