Somebody, I think it was Crash Rogers or one of the Cason boys, came up with the brilliant idea of egging cars Halloween night. It seemed like a fun enough way to celebrate an evening dedicated to mischief, faster and seemed more devious than soaping windows. Besides, what else is there to do when you’re seventeen years old and living in a lousy little town population 15,000 where the main industry is raising chickens, where the only movie house in town is playing The Sound of Music for the fourteenth-gazillion time, and when you’re too young to go to either of the two bars in town (though not too young to buy booze from the guy at the liquor store who never checks IDs)?
We met down on Henderson Boulevard where it skirts the banks of the creek that meanders through town next to Bradville Park and the new subdivision named Rolling Heights, which was neither rolling nor high. Casey Cason and his brother showed up with big cardboard boxes stacked high with eggs. They worked part time for a chicken farmer and were able to make off with what must have been a square dozen eggs. Probably didn’t pay for them either. Crash showed up with two cartons and Evan and I each had a dozen we bought at Page’s Market.
We hid behind a hedge near Town Creek—I wonder who came up with that creative name for a creek—and threw eggs at passing cars. It was exciting to see the eggs splatter on the cars. In most cases the drivers stopped for a minute and then drove on. A couple of times drivers hopped out and looked for us and we hightailed it, scrambling across the creek or darting into nearby back yards, behind garages or sheds, any place we could find to hide. Whoever was chasing us quickly gave up. I guess it wasn’t worth the effort for them. After all, no harm was done. It was a cool night and all of the car windows were rolled up. Spraying with a hose the next morning or running their cars through a car wash would clean them right up. They probably remembered pranks they had pulled when they were our age and just laughed it off. If you can believe half the stories my daddy tells, the older generation did stuff that was lot worse than egging cars.
Pretty soon our adventure started to get boring, so we decided to move on to something bigger and wage war on a nearby house. The one we picked had porch lights on and jack-o-lanterns out front as a welcome for trick-or-treaters, most of whom, being much younger than us, had already given up and gone home for the night. It just happened to be the home of Wanda Ramsey. Oh my sweet Jesus, let me tell you about Wanda Ramsey. She was the hottest, most luscious, most delicious example of teenage womanhood this side of Missouri. She was Charlie Hunter’s girl. Oh how we hated Charlie Hunter. A bunch of us once held a group prayer for Charlie’s death. We prayed that a meteorite would come hurling down from heaven and land smack-dab on him while he was driving home. Not that we hated Charlie Hunter, but each and every one of us secretly held in our hearts the notion that if Charlie were to drop dead we might have a chance with Wanda.
So we crawled on our bellies up to the cover of the hedge in from of her house and let loose on Wanda’s front porch. Within seconds of beginning our barrage her front door and porch were a solid mess of slimy yellow and we were completely out of eggs.
We skedaddled out of there with visions on Wanda’s daddy coming out with a shotgun, and we met again a good six blocks away and all sat on the curb and smoked cigarettes for a few minutes and told each other how much fun we had had. And then . . . oh crap! A police car showed up. Red and white lights flashing on top and a searchlight sweeping the area. Somebody had called the cops on us, probably Wanda Ramsey’s old man. But if the cops had it in mind to catch us they would have been smarter not to flash all those lights, which only served to give us plenty of warning. We made a mad dash for the creek, jumped the creek and escaped in four different directions. All but me.
Town Creek wasn’t much of a creek. It was no more than a few inches deep. The other boys easily jumped across. I saw my brother Evan leap the creek and vanish into the woods heading north. The Cason boys did the same half a block to the south. I reached the creek bank at a point unfortunately close to where the cop car had pulled to a stop, and just my luck, it was the only wide spot in the whole damn creek. Ah but the creek was shallow enough that I could leap halfway and spring out on the other side. It wouldn’t matter if I got my shoes and maybe the cuff of my pants wet. I bad-lucked into hitting the creek’s only deep hole. I sank up to my knee and fell flat on my face in mud. When I pushed myself up to my feet again there were two cops standing on the creek bank with flashlights aimed at me. One of them said, “Hi there. Were you going somewhere?”
The other one said, “Which one of the Lumpkin twins are you?”
One monumental drawback to being the only seventeen-year-old twin boys in town was that everyone knew who we were. We couldn’t do anything without somebody reporting to the principal or our parents to whomsoever, “I saw a bunch of boys doing (whatever). I don’t know who all they were, but I know the Lumpkin twins were involved.”
So they marched me, wet and muddy head to toe, into their squad car and drove me downtown to the police station where they held me until Daddy came to get me. One of the cops said, “We know you boys didn’t mean any harm, but one of those eggs landed smack dab on the keyhole and went through and onto the Ramsey’s rug. It was a brand new rug. They’re going to have to pay to get it cleaned. You’re lucky they decided not to press charges. Otherwise you could be fined for damages.”
Daddy promised we would pay for cleaning the rug.
When we got home, Evan was already there. “Where were you tonight?” Daddy asked.
“Out with Billy Rogers.”
“Uh huh. What did ya’ll do?”
“Not much of anything. Rode around. Had some burgers down at Dudies Diner.”
I knew that Evan had probably already called Billy and made sure he’d vouch for him if Daddy asked, which I knew he wouldn’t.
Daddy paid the Ramseys for the rug cleaning and took it out of my allowance. It took two months’ worth of allowances to pay it back. Evan got away with claiming he wasn’t with us, but he got caught doing enough other stuff.
A meteorite never did smash into Charlie Hunter. A few years later he married Wanda Ramsey, and I guess they lived happily ever after.
*When Alec Clayton was in high school his parents owned a cabin at a fishing camp on Mary Walker Bayou near the Mississippi Gulf Coast where he spent many weekends and summers swimming and fishing and exploring a labyrinth of rivers and streams. That camp is now a primary setting in his Freedom Trilogy. Visual Liberties, just published, is the third book in the trilogy, which began with The Backside of Nowhere and was followed by Return to Freedom.
When not writing novels Alec writes art reviews for the Weekly Volcano and theater reviews for The News Tribune. He lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife, Gabi.