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The latest Loaf:
Cleaning out old email, I stumbled across responses to the first chapter of Living in a Shotgun Shack and was reminded of another chapter I’d intended to write, shorter one that related to that initial tale. Get a cup and I’ll pump you another…
LIVING IN A SHOTGUN SHACK
Everyone that lives in a small town or out in the country has them, they just call them different things. Out in Texas, where it’s flat and there are a lot of cattle, they’re called Pasture Parties. In the hills of North Georgia, we called them Ridge Parties.
“The Ridge” changed locations over the years, but the setting was always the same – some empty patch of dirt off some rarely used dirt road where you could find highschoolers making out on weekends in the seats of a car parked amongst scattered beer cans and cigarette butts.
I’d had scant few makeout sessions at The Ridge. One time E.S. and I were down there getting’ it on in my 1974 Datsun B210, better known as The Shitmobile, steaming up the windows and having a fine time. After things came to a climax I rolled over into the driver’s seat, sweating. Suddenly there was a knock on the glass. Some guy was standing beside the car.
“Uh… yeah?” I said, rolling the window, opaque with condensation, down an inch.
“Hey, I own the property down here and I just wanted to say I don’t mind if y’all come down here, just don’t trash the place.”
“Have fun,” the guy said, and walked off.
It creeped me and E.S. out and we got the hell out of there. Later, E.S. heard from a friend that she and her boyfriend had had a similar encounter but with a different bullshit line. It was obvious the guy was a voyeur and got off when his targets knew they had been seen.
But in the decade or so that I drank and/or screwed and/or sat on the hood of the car philosophizing with fellow losers at that spot, it was the only unfortunate incident in which I had been a victim. We never even got rousted by the cops. For whatever reason, The Man let us have that one spot.
So one night B.L. showed up at Jack’s, the headquarters for Dahlonega’s geekier losers, and told us that there was a keg party going on at The Ridge, some rich kid from neighboring Dawsonville celebrating his graduation from high school. We piled into our cars and sped over the hill. I was still in my wino phase, declining beer in favor of a gallon jug of Gallo wine and/or a floorboard full of bottles of Boone’s Farm, but I was more than willing to drive friends over there and join in the gathering.
We found half a dozen Dawsonville rednecks standing around a lukewarm keg, plastic cups in hand. We exchanged hello’s then my friends got a brew and mingled. A few minutes later a Camaro pulled into the spot and a guy jumped out and said, “That’s MY beer! That’s fuckin’ five bucks a head.”
He went person to person collecting money in a rude tone, as if we were just moochers. Which we were, but still… “Hey, man, that’s five bucks!” he said to me when I didn’t reach for my pocket.
“Dude, I’m not drinking your beer.”
“I don’t care, that’s five bucks.”
“Man, it’s The Ridge, and I brought my own.”
He gave me the evil eye and went on to chat with his few friends. I vaguely recall someone mentioning that he’d pissed off everyone in Dawsonville, and after meeting the guy I began to understand why he’d had to drive to the next county to throw his shindig on a dead end dirt road in the woods with more strangers than friends in attendance.
And the guy didn’t even stick around. He got back in the Camaro and headed back into town in search of some girl or some more party guests or smokes or something.
Suddenly we were all acting as a perfect team, as if we were telepathically linked.
“Hey, let’s get a fire going,” one of my friends said.
“Yeah, I think there’s some wood over there…” said another.
They walked through the clearing and into the dark forest on the other side, drawing the rednecks from Dawsonville with them in search of firewood.
B.D. and I waited for them to get out of sight and then each grabbed a side of the keg and took off through the woods in the opposite direction. It wasn’t an easy thing to do quickly and quietly, especially without giggling, but we managed to get to the dirt road, stumbling down an embankment to where my Toyota wagon was parked, coincidentally out of sight from the clearing. I popped the hatch and we set the thing in back. We jumped in and rolled down the hill, engine and lights off. Unfortunately, we were parked facing the dead end, so we had to turn around and come back, roaring up the hill past the party spot. I kept the lights off, squinting in the dark in an effort to see the road.
When I felt the car hit pavement I turned on the lights, only to discover we were headed straight for the ditch.
I jerked the steering wheel, sending the wagon into a fishtail. The keg flew forward, smashing into the back of my seat, ice bouncing off the back of my neck and almost making me lose control of the car. B.D. laughed as the car swerved back and forth, the keg rolling around wildly behind us.
I straightened the Toyota out and rounded the next curve just as the Camaro appeared, headed the other way. We tried to act as if we weren’t absconding with his beer, something he’d probably gone great lengths to acquire as a minor.
He blew by and I hit the gas as soon as I was out of sight. There weren’t many alternate routes out of the area so if he was quick he stood a good chance of tracking me down. I pushed the 4-cylinger engine to the limit, speeding over the mountain to the first fork, hoping he wouldn’t get lucky and follow the same route. Since this had all happened on the spur of the moment, we hoped our friends would get lucky and follow the same route.
A hissing sound came from the back of the car. “Get back there and see what that is,” I told B.D.
He clambered between the seats and checked on the keg. “The tap got knocked off.”
“Is it leaking?”
“Yeah, a little.”
“There’s a towel back there somewhere. Dig around and find it.”
We flew down the highway, one eye on incoming traffic in search of cops, one eye on the rearview mirror in search of the Camaro.
A few turns later, we knew we’d gotten away. Now we just had to hope our friends had also gotten out of there without getting their asses beat, and that they could find us to share in the booty. In the days before cell phones, you had to rely on telepathy.
We pulled up at J.M.’s trailer, grinning.
“Hey, man, guess what we got?”
“Yeah. Call around, see if anyone wants to join us.”
J.M. went in to make some calls while B.D. and I heaved the keg out. The tap hadn’t just popped off the keg, it had been wrenched off, probably on impact with the back of my seat. After monkeying with it for a few minutes we realized it was shot.
The rest of my friends showed up. The Camaro had pulled up moments after we’d split and the guy was none to pleased to find his beer missing. He asked my friends where it had gone but they feigned ignorance. They didn’t even know us, they claimed.
The guy jumped back in the Camaro and sped after us, but too late. My friends had deduced where we would’ve taken the thing and followed.
We set the keg on its side on top of a doghouse and rigged a way to coax beer out of the thing.
We had a swell time with our ill-gotten gains, playing drunken volleyball in the yard, each of us with a beer in hand. D.N. spiked the ball right off B.D.’s head and he cursed us, “Hey, watch it, you drunken scum!”
“Eh, fuck you.” D.N. responded.
“Yeah yeah yeah.”
“Hey, that sounds like a song!” I said, and we made up a tune to go with it.
“We are drunken scum.
Yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah!”
OK, so it’s not much of a song, but it still makes me smile.
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