"Hello," I said. It was G-- on the other end of the phone.
"Goin' anywhere today?" he asked.
"I don't know. Why? Need a ride?" I was the first person in the group to get my license. At times my tan can was a means to anywhere for anybody at any time it seemed. I didn't mind, though, because I loved driving.
"Yeah, I need to get away from this house."
"Your parents?" G-- and his folks had been at odds for a few weeks. He often called just to get a ride far away.
"Yeah," he said. "I've had it this time. Can you come on over?"
"Lemme ask. Hey Mom! Can I use the car?"
"Yes you can. I'm not going anywhere today. Just don't be late."
"Yes'm. Yeah, G--, I'll be over in a few."
"Thanks, mom. I'll be careful." My mother always told me to be careful. I never understood why. Trying not to be careful was a foreign concept. How often would I ride the edge of a cliff at 50 or drive, willy nilly, into a crowd of pedestrians? It would be stupid to drive any other way but carefully. I didn't want to be a statistic. So, I beat her to the punch and let her know I would be. She smiled handing me the keys.
Outside the sun was shining, birds were singing and bees were buzzing. It was a beautiful day. Maybe a trip to Folly was in the offing.
I cranked her up and slipped the shift lever into reverse. With a backward turn and shift to first I was on my way to G's. It was a ten minute trip. All of us lived in the Terrace not more than ten minutes apart by car. We weren't really a gang. Ours was an friendship that brought us together as a group on occasion for fun. We were never like the gangs who relished trouble. We liked to stay out of trouble which for us was bad relations with our parents. Ours was an innocent group if truth be told.
I pulled up in front of G's. He saw me through the curtain. Seconds later he was walking toward me with a suitcase in hand. The screen door slammed as he opened the car door and tossed his bag in the back.
"It looks serious this time. Another fight with your dad?" He slipped into the seat slamming the door eyes to the front.
"Drive," He said without looking at me.
"OK. I thought we could ride over to Folly..."
"I don't care where. Just drive."
I looked at him as I put it into first. I shrugged my shoulders and tapped the gas. The car headed out into the street. Through the open window I heard the screen door slam a second time. In the rearview I saw G's dad running out the door. He was shouting that G-- had better come back or else.
"Should we go back?" I asked. I hadn't figured on his folks being so angry.
"Hell no. I got my bag. I'm leaving. Just drive."
He sat there without saying a word. I didn't try to breach the silence. He was fuming inside but had no wish to air the problems involved. On the radio I heard the beginning of a favorite song by the Animals. It seemed appropriate so I flipped the dial around to loud.
WE GOTTA GET OUTTA THIS PLACE! IF IT'S THE LAST THING WE EVER DO!
The air was filled with the frustrations of a generation in this song by Eric Burden. It fit G's emotions to a T. The tan can raced along Folly Highway to the music. We bounced in the seat to the beat and my terrible voice picked up with the song at IF IT'S THE LAST THING WE EVER DO! at the top of my lungs. G-- just looked at me like I was crazy but smiled as freedom loomed down the road.
When the song was over I turned the radio down and looked at G.
"Still don't want to talk about it?"
"Nope. Do you think your folks would mind if I stayed with you guys for a few days until I can figure out what to do? I don't want to go back home."
My parents had played host to most of my friends at one time or another. There were times when they just needed a break from what ever issues were being aired at home. My parents never turned any of my friends away if they asked for shelter. My parents were always good to me. I never felt the need to get away from them, but my parents weren't everybody's parents.
"I don't see why not. I'll ask them when we go home. Right now we need to have some fun. I hear the pier calling." The pier. Folly pier was the hangout on beautiful days like this. Well worn floorboards lay twenty feet above the surf. The roof sheltered a dance floor headed by a stage that often welcomed entertainment groups. Fats Domino, the Drifters and, our favorite, The Hot Nuts. Along the side was a bar which served patrons during those concerts. Beer flowed freely then. But during the day, and espeicially on Sunday, we could buy only soft drinks and burgers or the occasional hot dog. We spent many a summer and spring day on those old scuffed planks. A salty breeze blew in and through from the sea bringing the sense of freedom so desirous to young fools thinking themselves adults.
"Hey, there's a place," said G--. "That's close enough."
I pulled into the outline along the sidwalk. G-- hopped out and I followed. I was tucking my shirt in as we started toward the pier. The wind blew my hair into my face (Ah, pleasant memories). I thought I heard a voice behind me. It sounded like, Hey, you boys. Hold up.
G--must have heard it, too, because he turned and stopped. I did the same. Behind us was a uniformed gent. His khaki was burnished with a star. His brown belt carried a holstered revolver. As he approached he removed his sunglasses.
"Either of you boys named Rickey Croucher?" he asked.
"Yessir, that's me?" I responded.
"Yeah, I was told you'd be arrivin' in a tan Corvair. Well, turn around boy 'cause I gotta arrest you."
"Huh? What did I do?"
"Got a call from a distressed parent saying you kidnapped their son. That you are aiding and abetting and influencing a minor."
"I don't understand." Our day was turning to shi... Arrested? What would my parents say? How'd I get into this predicament? What was happening?
He was pulling his cuffs out to snap them on my wrists. While turning me against the tan can he looked a little puzzled. G-- was about two heads taller than me. I guess it registered with my captor because he held up on the cuffs and turned me back around to face him.
"Say, how old are you, son?" He asked me.
He looked at G--. "How old are you?"
"Shit!" said the sheriff of Folly Beach. "I can't arrest him. You aren't a minor. You're an adult. He's the minor," he said pointing at me. "Dammit! Your folks told me you'd been kidnapped and they wanted you back home. You lucked out, boy," he said speaking to me
"You ain't guilty of nothing. And you're the minor. But, hell, I gotta take somebody to jail so turn around, G--."
G-- turned. The sheriff clicked the cuffs on his wrists at his back.
"What about me?" I said. Wow! The hoosegaw! I could spend the night in the hoosegaw, I kept thinking. What an adventure.
"Go on home, boy," he shouted back. "I got no quarrel with you. I'm gonna take your pard here to the office and have his folks come pick him up."
"What about his bag?"
"Keep it!" G-- yelled at me. "I'll need it when I get out."
I watched G-- being lead over to the Folly Municipal building.
Fancy that, I thought to myself. The day had been disrupted by John Law. There was no fun to be had now, so I hopped into the tan can and drove home.
I learned later that G's parents told the sheriff to lock him up over night. They wanted to teach him a lesson. So the one for whom the warrant had been issued was free while the innocent lamb lay on a cot in jail over night. It was a weird turn of events.