It was a sultry summer day in 1976, the gang as always, were sitting in the back of my Black Betty, a 1975 black Dodge cargo van with chrome wheels and custom exhaust pipes on the sides. Inside, Black Betty was stripped and other than the two captain’s chairs, the van was a big metal box on 4 wheels.
The Winsom Street gang was a group of my friends: Art, Paul, Tom (A.K.A Dick Boy), Billy, Jim S, Johnny and myself. But on this particular day, it was just Art, Tom, Johnny and myself and the talk that morning was about pot. In 1977 you had to know someone who knew someone who sold pot; and even then you had to plan a week ahead and wait for the next shipment, whenever that might be. There was also the fact, being teenagers, that we didn’t make a lot of money, so even if there was some pot to be had, there was not always the cash to buy it.
I was the oldest of the group and so my van was the meeting place where we’d gather every day if only to get away from our parents, plus it provided a safe place to smoke pot and talk about music – and this was a good summer for both. Peter Frampton’s ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ and Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Live had come out that year too.
Dick Boy got his name for one reason, you could literally kick him in the nuts and he wouldn’t feel a thing, a fact that got tested daily. Tom was also very cheap and would be the last person to anti-up the cash when we did buy any pot. So for the next hour we all spoke about how nice it would be to smoke a joint, a daily conversation. But on this day Dick boy surprised us and pulled a toothpick-sized joint out of his sock. We were shocked and more than a little pissed off that it took him so long to tell us he had a joint! I pulled the lighter out of my pocket and Tom passed me the joint and it was at that moment I knew what had to be done. Art opened the side door of the van and Johnny pushed Tom out, locking the door behind him. We fired up the joint and laughed as Tom banged on the door as we keep telling him, between tokes and dry coughs how good the pot is. When we were done, we unlocked the door and Tom was pissed to see we really did smoke his joint and didn’t even save him a toke!
Dick Boy was mad, Black Betty was parked in Johnny’s driveway and Tom started the five block walk home giving us the finger as he walk away from the van. I jumped into the driver’s seat and fired up Black Betty and we waited until Tom turned the corner and was out of sight. I drove the long way to Tom’s house but it only took a minute, and as we got there we could see Tom a block and half away looking surprised to see us in front of his house. It took him a split second too long to figure out why we were driving towards him; we were laughing so hard my eyes were watering and it was hard to see. Black Betty screeched to a stop, the side doors flew open and Art and Johnny grabbed Tom and we took off. I stopped about ten blocks away and they threw Tom out of the van and we took off. Tom was pissed off and even as we pulled away we could see that look on his face. I still see it still, in my mind’s eye and even now, years later; a smile will always creep across my face!
We waited just around the corner for about fifteen minutes, out of sight of Tom’s house, but we could still see him from four blocks away. We had to be quick and when Tom did see the van racing towards him, you could see the panic in his eyes – like that of a trapped animal who knows there in no use in running but does so out of habit. He kept looking back as the van got ever closer and the threats and profanity coming out of his mouth were truly impressive! But he never stood a chance and we got him.
I had to drive quickly as Johnny and Art did their best to hold the struggling Tom down without getting punched. I was able to make it about a mile and a half and pulled into a shopping center parking lot. They kicked the door open, and Tom was trying his best to get a punch in but he got pushed out, and I gunned it with the doors still open until we were a safe distance away, all of us laughing so hard my stomach still hurts just thinking about that day…
Years later, 1999 to be exact, this time in California, Dick Boy’s and my paths crossed once again. We happened to hook up by accident, and he came to my house for a Superbowl Party. Reminiscing about the glory days of our youth, the incident on Winsome Street was mentioned. Maybe there was too much glee in my voice as I recalled the story to all in presence, could it have been the raucous laughter from all, or perhaps Dick Boy has never learned to forgive, who knows why, but suddenly he got up off the couch in a rage, grabbing his jacket he left. Never seen or heard from his sorry ass since. Hey Dick Boy, wanna burn one?
© 2015 Excerpt from the upcoming book: Stories For Lambykins by James Szeles