Two Hill Boys in a Harvest Nightmare
On an October night many years ago, two boys from the hills got tired of being pent up with the harvest of the not so legal sort. They pooled their money and came up with enough for a burger and a movie. The oldest boy had a battered motorcycle but he wasn’t old enough for a license so while they drove the county roads, they hitchhiked the final twenty miles into town.
For boys used to the silence of the country, they were in a big city even though the population sign only read 2000. They ate a burger and looked at the 5 or 6 girls giggling nearby and lined up with the twenty or so other bored souls to watch the movie. They hadn’t any electricity where they lived so the moving pictures were excitement enough to having them laughing and horsing around—until they exited the theater into a Humboldt County downpour. They tried hitchhiking but were soaked in minutes and the town was dead—not a car moved in or out of the darkness.
Being country boys they decided to seek shelter and moved quickly up through the town. They found an old abandoned motel with cardboard tacked over a second story window. With wiry strength they climbed a tree, swung over to the building, and slipped inside. Used to the dark, the streetlight outside provided better light than they usually had in the woods at home and they spotted an old mattress with filthy blanket in a corner. Within minutes, they had curled up like the wild things they were and slipped into sleep.
Unlike wild things, but like most teenage boys they slept like the dead. They awoke to the crack of, “Put your hands where we can see ‘em, boys.” Peering blearily out of the long tangle of their hair, the boys stared into the black holes of two guns held by two sheriffs.
Within minutes the boys found themselves marched down to the local station and interrogated for breaking and entering. “We didn’t break nothing. We just took some cardboard off the window so we could get some place out of the rain.”
Eventually, the officers took pity on the boys and told them that they could go home but (and this was a big scary but for boys in the middle of harvest season) but the sheriffs were going to bring them back to their house (that same house full of leafy greenness.) The boys tried to talk themselves out of this but they weren’t to used to trouble and ended up sitting wide eyed in the back as the white sheriff’s car headed out the winding curves towards their home.
The oldest boy with some vague notion of doing something persuaded the officers to let him ride his motorcycle home. As discreetly as possible, he began speeding ahead—hoping somehow to get a warning out. But the battered old motorcycle choose this moment to misbehave. The throttle stuck. He couldn’t control it and went down hard–his head slamming into the pavement.
Within minutes the officers were lifting him up. Groaning and disoriented, he directed the officers to a friend and neighbor’s just down the road. A house also full of green leafy substance, he remembered as they headed towards it. The gate was locked. So he and his brother hurried ahead. The neighbors gladly met the officers as far from the front door and the oozing aroma as possible. They assured the sheriffs (who were probably worried about being sued for letting an underage boy ride a motorcycle) that they would gladly return the boys to their parents.
The boys didn’t go into town any more that year. Didn’t seem like a friendly place.
PHOTO: From a really cool collection of Redwood Hwy photos