Monday Night Tales from the Dez Part 1: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=557476&page=1&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1 Part 2: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=565969&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1&vc=1&PHPSESSID= Part 3: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=575166&page=2&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1 Part 4: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=584127&page=5&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1 Part 5: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=UBB1&Number=593549&Forum=UBB1&Words=Part%205&Match=Entire%20Phrase&Searchpage=0&Limit=25&Old=2weeks&Main=593549&Search=true#Post593549 Part 6: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=602861&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1#Post603271 Part 7 http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=611519&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1 Initial Intro: Go here for a little more info: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=557391&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=1 Doofus and Whiny - Part 8, section A Toms run of strange luck continued unabated. Some good, some bad and lately, the unkindest cut of all. He got drafted. Getting drafted was happening to a lot of young guys around town. Least thats the way it was for a while. Then we started noticing older guys were getting drafted. Guys like us, our age, in their late twenties, single or married with families. It seemed to make no difference and virtually no family was untouched. The war in Vietnam was affecting everybody. Tom wasnt the only one looking over his shoulder. Although in Toms case, he probably should have been looking out for the mailman. We were, and every time something came that looked like it could have been from the government our heart rate shot up and the breathing got a little shallow. For us as well as for the girls. Tom got on a bus and headed for L.A. He was tested, got a physical and at the end of a long day, they released him. A few weeks later he was called up again. He got on a bus, headed for L.A. More testing, another long day and he was sent home. A couple of months went by and once again, the dreaded letter from the government was in the mailbox. Enough for Tom, he told us if they didnt take him this time he was going to stay in L.A., join the Navy and get it over with. The third time was the charm. He went to L.A. and didnt come home. We heard later that he was stuck on another bus and taken to Fort Ord, California for basic training. Well . . . at least now his worries were over. Then again, I suppose you could say his worries were just starting. If it aint one thing, its another. Funny part was, with the back and forth sales of the Big Dodge Tom still owned it. It was sitting out back at his folks house under a tarp. Living under a tarp got to be a way of life for the Dodge. It d spent quite a bit of time covered up and sitting out back of the tune-up shop and now it was doing more of the same. Tom got to the end of his basic training ok and was scheduled for graduation. DeeDee and I drove up to Fort Ord in the Chrysler wagon. We figured it would be nice to see Tom off to wherever the Army was going to send him and figured too, since DeeDees folks couldnt make it somebody from the family ought to be there. The really strange thing was, we had to go into the barracks and sign Tom out with the promise we would return him by a certain time. That was kind of weird. Neither DeeDee or I had ever signed for a person before. Not to mention the Sergeant at the desk, leaned around DeeDee, took a look at me and asked when I would be in the Army. I told him I wasnt planning on it right now and would cross that bridge when it came to it. The Sarge just smiled. So DeeDee, Tom and I spent a nice weekend in Monterey, taking in some of the tourist sights and generally enjoying ourselves. I got to know Tom a little better. Wed never really sat down and talked. I say talked, but for me there was more listening than talking. I think Tom was just lonesome and had a lot of stored up stuff to pass on and most of it he passed on to DeeDee. Sunday morning came, we took Tom back to the base as promised and left for home. A nice little mini-vacation for us, a chance to get to know Tom a little better for me, but a bit sad for all us knowing he was headed overseas. Imagine our surprise when Tom showed up at the shop a couple of months later. We figured with his basic training out of the way, hed get shipped out right away. The Army had other plans though. They sent him to the Light Equipment Operator school at Fort Ord for training in operating light equipment. Jeeps, Deuce & a half and the like. I guess the Army figured with his mechanical background hed be perfect for operating jeeps and trucks. Maybe so. In our opinion it was a little like giving the bull the keys to the china shop. Tom was scheduled to ship out for Vietnam with the rest of his class, but his paperwork fell through the cracks. To top it off, instead of having him sit around Fort Ord for a couple of weeks, they gave him two weeks leave. The Army way I guess. We didnt know that much about the Army, but from what wed heard, a two week leave for a new guy was a rare thing. Tom, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, got off the base as soon as he could and headed for the bus station. Preferring to wait all night for a bus to Ventura if he had to. Better he felt, than hanging around and taking a chance on getting snagged up for some duty. Made sense to us, make hay while the sun shines and all that. At least hed have a chance to square away some stuff at home that he should have taken care of before he went in. Living at home, his life had been pretty simple and all he really had to do was make a decision about the Big Dodge. A decision easily made. Whiny still wanted the Dodge, still had the money for it and what better home for it to go to? For Tom, he wanted to see his good old Dodge - as he called it - go to a good home. Someplace where it would be well taken care of. I dont know if Tom ever realized it, but Whinys original intent for the Dodge was to mine it of the 413 engine and stick it in his 50 Ford coupe. The Big Dodge must have cast a spell over the both of them. Tom loved it and Whiny was beginning to. To the extent that all thoughts of making any major changes in it were soon cast aside. So the plan was, Tom would drive the Dodge for the weekend, deliver it to Whiny on Monday afternoon, spend the rest of the week with his folks and grab a bus for Fort Ord Saturday morning. He was due back Sunday afternoon. A good plan, one amenable to everyone. Course, like many plans, it had a small flaw. Nothing critical and nothing even thought about. Just one of those little things that happen while youre wandering down the highway of life. In Toms case, a small bit of stupidity. Well . . . maybe a big chunk of stupidity, but thats the way things go sometimes. Tom brought the Dodge by the shop a little in front of five oclock which was our normal closing time and not too far from full on dark. The plan was, hed pick up Whiny, Whiny would ride out to Toms folks house with him, get the paperwork squared away and take the Dodge home with him. Trouble with the plan was, even though it was a good plan, Tom wasnt really in shape to be driving. Seems hed run into some of his friends at the Poorboy, a small beer bar, pool hall type place on Main Street. After drinking beer and having a grand time all day, he wasnt really ready to quit. We didnt know any of this, least of all Whiny. We saw Tom drive in, waved at him, Whiny walked out to the car, got in and they drove off. It all went downhill from there. Toms folks lived across town near the Junior College and Tom was determined to get there in the shortest time possible. When they left the shop, things seemed calm enough. At least it did to us. Tom cooled it until they got to the freeway on-ramp. Once on the on-ramp and headed east on the freeway it got really crazy really fast. It didnt take long until Tom had the Big Dodge wound up way over a hundred and Whiny was just hanging on and doing some serious whining. Cant blame him there, Id have been doing some serious whining too. Whiny told me later that hed looked over at the speedometer and the needle was buried on the right side. Im not surprised, the Dodge was a big fast car. I guess it was Toms last fling at being a wild man. Kinda stupid for sure. Even though the freeway didnt have much traffic, there was no excuse for endangering Whiny or the other drivers. Tom slowed down to a mere 80 and took the curving interchange for the Santa Paula freeway. Once he saw the road was clear he rolled the throttle back on and the Dodge was pulling hard for the top end. Whiny didnt know where the top end was on the Big Dodge and he sure didnt want to find out. Up to now hed been a scared and unwilling passenger figuring Tom was just going to run the Dodge up a bit and then drive normally. It didnt make any difference when Whiny asked Tom to slow down. Tom was on a tear for sure and was living in the moment. What did make a difference was when they swept by the Main Street on-ramp to the freeway. Rolling sedately up the short hill was a Ventura City cop car. Whiny looked out the window and locked eyes with the ex-rookie whod been keeping an eye out for Tom for the past year. The Dodge was making a tremendous amount of noise with both four barrels wide open and the tail pipes singing out their song of raw and unbridled horsepower. With the tire and wind noise adding their bit to the mix, it looked to Whiny like it scared hell out of the ex-rookie when they flew by. Not for long though. The ex-rookie wasnt going too fast when he felt more than heard the Dodge coming and when the noise and wind hit, the cop car shuddered and seemed to slow down for the short second it took the Dodge to sail past and go blasting down the freeway. The ex-rookie was wide awake now and making up for lost time. He stuck his foot in the big engined Ford cop car, lit up the red lights and took up the chase. Nailing the throttle in the cop car didnt help much. The Dodge had so much speed on that he had a good mile on the cop car before the strong running Ford got up to its best speed. When they passed the Victoria Street off and on-ramps they picked up a CHP car to boot. Whiny was thinking that they were going to die in a wreck, get shot or definitely spend some time in jail when they got caught. Toms Dodge was probably quite a bit faster than the two cop cars behind him, but there was no outrunning the radio. It seemed like they got to the Wells Road off-ramp in no time, Tom let off the throttle, threw on the brakes and went flying down the off-ramp. Whiny thought for a while the Big Dodge was going to run out of brakes before it got slowed enough to make the sharp turn at the end of the off-ramp. It slowed down ok, they made the turn and hit Wells Road going north. Tom blew through the four way stop at Wells & Telegraph and kept on going up the hill. This wasnt going to be like the last time Tom got away from the cops. None of this clever psychological thinking in taking the turn that any thinking person would avoid and relying on the cop to figure only an idiot would turn that way and the cop turning the sensible way and never finding anybody. At the top of Wells road, there was a T intersection. Head west or head east on Foothill Rd. That was it. To boot, the cop cars had both gotten off the freeway ok and could see the Dodge at the top of the hill, but still about a mile ahead. When Tom hung a right they figured they had him boxed in. Aside from a few roads that cut through the citrus orchards, there was, for the most part, only one way out. And that was to head into Santa Paula where there was sure to be a welcome committee waiting. I guess Tom figured he was in too deep to quit now and he had nothing to lose. For Whiny, asking Tom to slow down and then yelling at Tom to slow down hadnt made any difference and about all he could do was tighten his seat belt. Which hed done several times already. Tom ran the two miles or so of straightaways and easy curves then slowed down enough to make the big sweeping curve before he got to Aliso Canyon Rd. When he got there, he made a hard left turn with some serious speed still on and the rear end of the Dodge was hanging out like some pedal to the metal dirt track driver headed for the next straight. The Dodge left some serious black rubber marks behind and they headed up Alison Canyon Rd. to the north. No doubt about it. Tom could really handle the Big Dodge. For Whiny it was strange to travel around a corner watching the road unfold through the side window. By now, he was all through yelling and was simply hanging on and hoping for the best. About half a mile up the canyon, Tom turned the big Dodge into the lemon orchard and blasted down the dirt lane between the tree rows. I say dirt lane, but this was just the narrow open space between the trees and not the typical farm truck access road that runs through the orchards. About the only vehicle this lane had seen was a farm tractor or two. The orchard was badly in need of pruning and the trees were almost touching one another. Lucky for Tom because it made a good hiding place. Bad for the Big Dodge since the tree branches were scraping the paint on the sides of the Dodge all to heck and gone. With the engine shut off and the windows rolled down, Tom and Whiny could hear the two cop cars, sirens blaring, turn up Aliso Canyon Rd. When they started slowing, they shut the sirens down and cruised up the dead end road about 35 or so. It was obvious they figured Tom and Whiny had ducked into the orchard. Probably more obvious by the small fact that Aliso Canyon Rd. was one of the favored roads in the county for street racers. Theyd had more than a bit of experience in flushing the street racers out of the orchards where they were wont to hide. Spectators, another story. If the cops saw em, they would get a ticket for aiding and abetting an illegal drag race. It was far enough out of town and far enough away from any pay phones that whether the spectators were caught or not, they got punished anyway. The long hike home was worse than the ticket sometimes. It wasnt long until they heard the sirens from a couple more cop cars. These were probably the Santa Paula cops coming in to help. Just listening to the cop cars driving around the orchard, it was obvious that one had stationed himself at the Aliso Canyon Rd. - Foothill Rd. intersection. Thereby cutting off any thoughts of idling through the orchard and getting out on the dirt road behind the old grammar school to the east. The guy at the intersection pretty well had that avenue of escape covered. In fact, the dirt road behind the school was the only avenue of escape. There was no other way out of the orchard than to go back to Aliso Canyon Rd. and try to leave. Bad part about Aliso, it only had one way in from the south. It ended a few miles to the north and that was it. So Tom and Whiny sat quietly in the dark listening to the cop cars driving up and down Aliso and decided to wait it out. With their guilty consciences, it was a long wait. They didnt say anything to each other. They just sat there not saying a word while the Big Dodge was ticking and crackling as it cooled down. After a little bit, Whiny called Tom a stupid son of a bitch. And all Tom said was, I know. After a couple of hours, they didnt know what to think. Theyd heard two of the cop cars leave, but it was obvious that two of them were still there. After a while, they decided to walk out to where they could see what was going on. Course, seeing may have been an overly optimistic term. It was pretty dark with just a touch of light from a quarter moon and that was about it. At the least, if they saw that the coast was clear, they could hightail it out of there. Tom popped the dome light lense off, pulled the light bulb, tossed the car keys under the drivers side floor mat and walked out toward Aliso. It took him a while because it was hard to walk through the trees without making noise and he had to go slow. Whiny walked out the other way, going toward the dirt road behind the school. By now he was so mad he didnt care if he made noise or not. It probably didnt make any difference. He was far enough away from Aliso that he wouldnt be heard anyway. Whiny figured if he got caught, hed tell em where the car was and to hell with the whole thing. Whiny got out to the dirt road ok, walked down to where he could see the intersection and didnt see any cop cars waiting there. Course, that didnt mean they were gone. Cops are no dummies and the smart thing to do would have been to go up the road a ways, pull off and park in the dark shadows of the trees and watch the intersection. Whiny watched the intersection and road for an hour or so, gave it up and headed back to the Dodge. When he got there, Tom was still gone. It was very quiet and Whiny hadnt heard anything suggesting that Tom got caught or that any cop cars had pulled out and left. After a half hour of waiting, Whiny figured hed better go looking for Tom and headed down the trees the same way theyd come in. Keeping very quiet this time. The closer he got to Aliso the slower he went. Whiny figured he wasnt guilty of anything, but he didnt want to get caught either. When he got to the last tree he slid around it and took a look up Aliso. Nothing there. When he looked down Aliso, he saw a cop car sitting about a hundred feet away, the cop standing outside the car and listening very intently. Whiny stepped back, stood very still and did some thinking about what was going on. He thought hed been very quiet and sneaky coming through the trees. When he looked again he saw the cop looking straight into the orchard and not looking up the road where he was. All Whiny could hear, besides the occasional buzzing of insects was a faint vibration. Not hardly a sound at all. Something you felt more than heard. The cop though, hed heard something and entered the orchard to see what it was. Scary part was, he had his flashlight out, but it was not lit. No use making yourself a target I guess. Whiny decided the smart thing to do was to drop down a couple of tree rows so if he had to take off running, he wouldnt lead anybody back to the Dodge. After hed gone down two rows, he could hear the vibrating sound a little better. It came and went with a fairly steady pace. Whiny had heard a lot of orchard machinery run and knew what pumps sounded like, but this was different from any sound hed ever heard in an orchard. It was kinda spooky and kinda stupid too, to be sneaking down toward where the cop was, but Whiny was drawn toward he knew not what. He was having serious thoughts about simply giving up. This whole debacle wasnt his fault and the longer he stayed immersed in it, the harder it was going to be to explain. In the back of his mind, he still had hopes of getting away and was still drawn toward the strange sound. It was getting louder all the time. Whiny decided, one more tree row and thats it. It was getting kind of stupid to be closing in on a cop who was looking for somebody and was armed to boot. Whiny and the cop got to the source of the strange noise about the same time. Neither was aware of the other. The cop knew there were at least two guys in the car and Whiny knew the cop was nearby, but didnt know exactly where he was. Everything was clear once the cop flicked his flashlight on. The surprising glare about blinded Whiny, rendering his night vision gone for the moment. He had time to see what the strange noise was though. It was Tom, bundled up in his jacket, sound asleep, snoring and lying in the dirt under the trees. Whiny backed up as quietly as he could and he could see the cop roll Tom over, handcuff and search him, drag him to his feet and march him out of the orchard. All he heard the cop say was Well, well. Then Whiny saw who the cop was. It was the ex-rookie whod been biding his time and keeping an eye out for Tom. Hed seen Tom pull a few stunts, but couldnt quite prove it. This time though, he had him dead to rights. Tom was about to find out that crime didnt pay. Whiny stayed right where he was, being very quiet and waited for the cop car to pull out. When it did, he walked back into the orchard, got in the Dodge, found the keys under the floor mat where Tom had left them, fired it up and drove out toward the dirt road behind the school. He figured his troubles were over when he got to Foothill and figured hed drive home and try to get some sleep. Trouble was, his troubles were just beginning. The cop who was originally down at the Aliso-Foothill intersection was a Santa Paula cop whod been on more than one hunt for street racers hiding in the orchard. Hed run the cop car down Foothill, turned around and parked in front of the grammar school in a location where he could see both the dirt road entrance that ran behind the school as well as the beginning of Aliso Canyon Rd. When he started the cop car and flipped on the red lights, that was enough for Whiny. He shut down the engine, got out of the car and just stood there. Hands in plain sight, ready for the inevitable. Which was, arrest, handcuffs and the back seat of the cop car. To say Whiny was a bit mad was putting it mildly. Mad at Tom and mad at himself for not just walking out of the orchard and walking home when he had the opportunity. For some reason, he thought he had to get the Dodge home. He hadnt bought it yet, but he felt like it belonged to him. Theyd already cut the deal on the Dodge, all that was required was the money and the paperwork. Whiny got dragged off to jail in Santa Paula and figured he would languish there for a while. The Santa Paula cops told him the Dodge would be towed to a Santa Paula impound lot until it could be released. Whiny figured that he was there for what little remained of the night. Not to be though, the cop whod caught Tom had taken him into Ventura and dropped him off at the city jail was more than happy to drive over to Santa Paula and transport a prisoner. He figured he had a vested interest in Tom and now he was interested in Whiny as well. The ex-rookie was surprised when he saw Whiny. He recognized him from the few times hed been into the tune-up shop and told him that the high speed run down the freeway and the ensuing chase was pretty damn stupid. Whiny sighed and said, I didnt volunteer for it. Volunteered or not, Whiny was in for the duration. Even if it was only for the rest of the night. Tom and Whiny got dragged into court at ten oclock in the morning, both disheveled a bit and Tom with dirt all over his clothes. A pair to draw to I guess, but they sure werent going to impress anybody as being good citizens and all, looking like they did. They were both surprised to find us in the courtroom. Jill, DeeDee and myself were there with DeeDees mom sitting between DeeDee and Jill. The judge, a no nonsense sort of guy had Whiny up first and had him explain what happened. He listened to the story and told Whiny that he should have walked out of the situation the first chance he had. By staying, he was aiding and abetting felony drunk driving, speeding and God knows what else. The penalty was a hundred dollar fine and nothing on Whinys record. Driving or otherwise. The judge warned him that hed better not be in his courtroom again or hed get the book thrown at him. All Whiny said was, Yes sir. Next up was Tom. He looked like a scared little kid. Something along the lines of the chickens had come home to roost. Kind of appropriate in a small way. Tom had done so many crazy things in the few short years hed been driving and now he was about to pay for it. Tom told his story to the judge, but it wasnt much of a story. Hed gotten drunk not so much as a form of celebration, but simply because he was afraid of going overseas and was deeply regretful of endangering innocent people and putting the police officers involved at risk. The judge listened intently and told Tom that a lot of young men and young women were in Vietnam and he would imagine that the great majority of them were scared, but theyd gone as they should have and done their duty without raising such a hell and gone mess before they left. The judge ruled that Tom surrender his license for one year. One year being the usual length of stay in Vietnam. I dont know why and neither did Tom, but he asked the judge what would happen if he was gone for longer than the one year. The judge removed his reading glasses, looked down at Tom and said in a soft voice, Your license will be here waiting for you whenever you get back. He banged his gavel, case closed and retreated into his chambers. We were stunned. At the leniency shown both Whiny and Tom. A hundred bucks was a chunk of money, but Whiny figured it was nothing like it could have been. For Tom, facing an uncertain future, a gracious gesture by the judge. I guess sometimes justice really is blind. Or at the least, has a heart.... -<>- End of section A.