And surely, as fate would have it, a horrible event occurred
one snowy day. And trouble looked like it was headed Dodd's way.
Ironically, no piss tests were given to school bus drivers in that era, or if
they were, they could be administered in a very lax fashion. Moreover, nobody
had security or surveillance cameras all over the place.
So when a little girls' body turned up in a snowbank on a weekday, outraged
parents, and indeed, most EVERYONE in that quaint little working class
neighborhood became highly suspicious of the school bus drivers.
Davey, shuddering, thought of Dodd.
By dint of sheer fate, this fellow named Dodd
who had at times contemplated;
had he run that child over, oh grace of God?
No, he was exonerated.
The tires from Dodd's bus were sent to an FBI crime lab in Washington, D.C. for
examination and eventually came back listed as 'inconclusive'. But going by the
book, [as some folks were likely to think], this wouldn't let him off the hook.
Davey wondered out loud how Dodd
could not only keep his job whilst of obviously driving under the influence,
but why, after he had been doing it for so long, none of his superiors caught
In retrospect, or whatever 'spect' Davey could at this point toss into the mix,
this phenomenon most likely called into play the difficulty of finding persons
to fill school bus driver positions – particularly for the younger set of kids
that tended to be the most challenging. So Dodd was in like flint no matter how
bad his behavior was.
To this day Davey wonders.
At this point, the inquisitive
reader of this quixotic, quirky essay – should such a reader exist – may be
wondering aloud why Davey didn't sound the alarm bell when he KNEW damn well
what was going on.
Yes, he knew, but wouldn't say;
that was saved for Dodd for a better day.
And it was, by God, HIS ball in play,
and none that Davey could inveigh.
Davey kept his personal suspicions to himself, for better or worse, and was
never called as a witness in the case; after all, it appeared no witnesses were
at the scene of that tragedy.
Yes, nobody had SEEN that poor
child meet her fate, so likewise no eyeball could verify even that it had been
a school bus, not a UPS truck or oil delivery truck that had run her over.Davey doesn't recall how heavy the snowfall was, but it is likely that it would
have been substantial and perhaps unexpected; moreover, during near-blizzard
conditions, visibility is squelched considerably and folks tend to stay indoors
Still, to this day, in Davey's dappled mind, the stark possibility of Dodd's
culpability does exist.
How many UPS or oil truck drivers drink in the daytime?
Davey's deep, simmering, yet
unconfirmed suspicion of Dodd's guilt remained for years throughout their
lasting friendship, and quite frankly continues to this day, though he hasn't
seen Dodd for nearly two decades.
He MUST have done it! Dodd was so numb by 2:30 in the afternoon that he could
have run over a black bear and mistaken it for a snowbank.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dodd did celebrate a little once the test results came
back from the FBI lab, and he even got a little cocky in an interview which was
published in the local paper, calling the investigation “a crock”.
Yeah, it was a 'crock' alright,
but even to the oft-intoxicated Davey, so was the LIE Dodd was living.
Davey couldn't and wouldn't argue morality with Dodd; he wasn't in any position
to, but neither was Davey behind the wheel of a vehicle that contained young,
To be fair, Dodd needed to be exonerated, had he indeed been not guilty, but if
he HAD done it – even legitimately under the auspices of what could be termed
“accidentally” – and had an inkling that he DID do it, then he should have come
Enough preaching and screeching for now.
Now, nearly twenty years hence,
Davey has not seen hide nor whisker of either Jerry or Dodd, but has heard tell
that the years have not been kind to Dodd in particular.
According to Dodd's son Fran, Dodd has type 2 diabetes and had his driver's
license yanked several years ago. “Bad driving record,” Fran had mentioned in a
Additionally, Davey can assume Dodd still smokes cigarettes and whatever other
recreational combustibles he can get his mitts on.
As of this writing, Davey has just dusted off a high school reunion, one at
which Dodd was not in attendance.
As to how many decades it has been
since Davey walked away from that soon-to-be ostensible graduation, well, that
shall, for the purposes of this collection of indiscriminately collated
memoirs, remain nebulous.
Suffice to say it has been some decades since that spring season when Davey
responded to a flush of irresponsibility and simply stopped going to school.
Oh, it was 12th grade alright, and all he would have had to do was
scrawl out some kind of text that could be assembled into what at the time was
loosely termed a 'term paper'.
Nowadays, Davey would consider that FUN!
At the recent reunion event, Davey
was surprised at how OLD some of his peers looked! Actually, within the crowd,
it ran the gamut; some folks had really kept their shape and taken care of
themselves, and it obviously showed. Surprisingly, some of the locals – who
really would have no excuse for missing the bash – did not show up. Hopefully
it wasn't due to grudges held or other ill will.
Davey took the time to visit the old school and peruse that line of trees out
front – the ones that bore headstones in memory of those long-deceased
It only takes an event like a high
school reunion to drive the point home that we're ALL getting' old. And how old
we FEEL is the issue to contend with, of course within reason.
But in the end – and not necessarily the bitter end – we'll all be staring bankruptcy
in the face, should we fall into the clutches of a nursing home or other
tentacle of our voracious sick-care system.
And all along the way, opportunistic sick-care parasites will be hovering, just
waiting to siphon portions of our assets before we do finally kick the bucket.
And that SUCKS!
At Davey’s reunion,
none of his old-fogy classmates could dwell on the aging issue, as
they were too busy slurping whatever adult beverages were available –
and by gawd, the taps were flowing!
But to the bar with a
Davey H was not going.
lack of tippling did notin the least cramp his style,
carried on with the socializationutilizing his imagination,
that was done with a smile.
And consequently, after a while,
may wonder what Davey did think
when somebody queried
if Davey was married
but rather, “Davey, where's your drink?”
were packed into that second floor lounge like freekin' sardines,
those old students were, and of course the cacophony was
deafening.Davey had a set of earplugs stuffed into both ears –
a precaution he scrupulously takes in such situations – and to his
stunned surprise, nobody noticed.
Or if they did, they didn't
Oh, that earplug thing. Yeah, one of Davey's many
quirks, one could suppose. But take a moment to think about this
fact: When ethanol impacts the human body in its multifarious
meanderings, one of the first things to get numbed up is one's
other words, the characteristically routine act of getting
– even mildly – means that the tippler experiences a decidedly
decreased acuity of hearing, though it is generally not noticed by
Hence, the volume level in an active saloon,
tavern, bar – or whatever adjective you wish to paste on it –
will rise consistently and commensurately with the intake of
So here at Harvey's Tavern,
nearing the middle of the night,the age-old crowd was a tipsy sight!But Davey stayed dry as a stack o' paper towels,with all his might
and with p's, q's and vowels.
the guitarist – who still played regularly after all these years –
was happily in attendance, and Davey reminisced with a dash of
schmooze how she had 'kicked his ass' during tryouts for the 'Jazz
Creators', the high school improvisational band.
recalled that scene all too clearly:
He showed up to the
audition with long hair and his black Ibanez Les Paul copy with the
single-core humbucker pickups that he had purchased from Joe Bletter
the year before.
He should have known that a big red 'X' would
be on his chest as soon as he got in the door!
on the other hand, appeared dapper in sensible, non-flashy attire of
the era and sporting a wholly appropriate axe for the genre: her
gorgeous Gibson L-5 f-hole hollow body.
Since Mr. Burnbak
was seeking a 'blues' riff [the specifics of which escape faulty
memory], Davey thought it best to attempt his ripoff of a favorite
Jeff Beck solo, which of course fell flat.
gaffe, Davey retreated to the bench and watched Rita deftly cruise
through the requisite guitar parts the teacher sought.
Davey came for, he sullenly thought
would not have worked if he
memory, whilst vivid indeed,
did not make for an enduring
So needless to say
on this night, not the day
Rita and Davey
however he squirms
were now well behaved
on excellent terms.
Davey didn't hold that decades-old
comeuppance against Rita;
she had won that round fair and
And he knew he could never defeat huh
and now he
would definitely not dare!
Now, here, while cruising past
his old school,
Davey, without fear,
could still feel like
as memories flipped and dipped and swayed;
not very long they verily stayed.
yes, in memories that flow,
those memories with relish
would have you know.
But he wouldn't embellish
as some eras were hellish,
and others just
During the day leading up to that Harvey's tavern
bash, Davey and his ebullient spouse cruised through his old
neighborhood as Davey spouted tidbits of decidedly outdated yet
semi-useful information regarding who lived in such-and-such domicile
and how others' garish, elaborate landscaping plans had completely
eliminated the former gaping passages through which he and those of
his ilk would cut through on their way to the old school.
could, under such circumstances, be heard to bellow this age-old
“My, how times have changed!” Or, barring
that, perhaps they would otherwise utter:
“Change, how times
have my!” But that would be a little too dimwitted, so in this
instance, spousester and Davey just uttered stuff like:
look at how high those silver maples are!” And of course, just for
kicks: “Holy Sh** – those folks sure have thrown MONEY at that
old stack 'o bricks!”
had been unable to convince Dad to stay in the old Flintzer Hills
neighborhood before Mom & Dad moved south.
that is a tidbit of personal history that perhaps fits in sideways to
Davey's ongoing high school chronicles.
Dad in particular was in
favor of this location to settle the simmering brood of which Davey
was a senior member, and having school situated so conveniently meant
the kids would not need to rumble daily aboard one of those
detestable, exhaust belching yellow cram-vans en route to an
education. No, this would save serious gasoline, too, though the
family car with its doors so ajar would easily fit half the crew.
the family remained semi-satisfactorily ensconced @ Flintzer Hills.
here's where things got a bit dicey: despite the idyllic appearances
of the Flintzer Hills community, many a wayward youth did in fact
materialize. And perhaps unsurprisingly, in 7th
grade, Davey had become such a discipline problem as to warrant his
enrollment in a local private school.
Bylit school, which
was situated on who knows how many pastoral acres off Mount Pebbleton
Road, had its own indoor swimming pool and several athletic fields.
The school boasted the smallest classes available at the time, which
was 12 or 13 kids to a class.
And that was where much
on just how obnoxious things became during those largely wasted
years, Davey will fart and manage a serious chuckle.
torture he and his fellow cur-ups put those poor teachers
Mr. Burkins was a semi-dapper curly haired
Englishman who, perhaps unsurprisingly, taught English. Of course,
with Davey and Donald Hamlacher ruthlessly teasing the diminutive Roy
Ridder, Perkins had his proverbial 'work cut out for him.' And since
Ritter was a special needs student with a peculiar deformity of his
left hand, it made Davey and Hamlacher look like the cretins they
were turning out to truly be.
Ridder was an affable, even angelic young lad with an easy smile and
goofy laugh. He always stood out as different, however, as his left
hand terminated in a claw-like mass rather than a normal hand. It
made you feel creepy to look at it for too long – particularly
after seeing other people with 'normal' hands.
Roy's 'claw' was
usable for pinching motions, as one side resembled a thumb and the
other, a short forefinger. Both sides of the claw had 'fingernails'
of ghastly shape, which only served to add to the anomaly.
Roy Ridder a thalidomide victim?
fact that Ridder actually accepted Davey and eventually befriended
him is a testimonial to Ridder's character and high tolerance
Although on the one hand, during all those high-intensity
teasing sessions, perhaps Ridder had developed a perverse liking for
all the attention being showered on him.
Either way, Ridder
maintained a congenially goofy, bubbly persona throughout.
as one of the most vulnerable 'special needs' students at Bylit,
Ridder was kept off the football field, for sure.
when he ran on the track, it was an interesting sight: his whole body
twisted in an almost feminine dance pattern.
dawned on Davey whilst watching Ridder running so wavy that the
'Ridder twist' was totally scientific: it was a
manifestation of his hands' dissimilar weighting and the body's
attempt to compensate for this during accelerated forward locomotion.
It would not have seemed so dire in terms of weight; at least his
left arm had SOMETHING at the end of it, but just that little bit of
weight differential had such a huge effect on his balance and
rhythm.Of course Ridder didn't have such pronounced motion when he
was walking, though he did have a kind of natural waddle.
the two boys' Bylit years – and their commensurate unlikely
friendship – it happened as a naturally evolving matter of course
that Davey and Dad would go over to visit at the Ridder's.
Dad just so happened to have an interest in amateur radio – a hobby
which for Davey was on the wane.
The Ridder's basement was
fit for the finest of pack rats, with a veritable hodgepodge of
'stuff' stacked floor to ceiling.
But what a trove it was!
verily drooled over the stacks of old 'QSL' magazines with their
rich, tailored content geared to amateur radio operators.
Davey doesn't recall what political, social, or work-related topics
Dad and the senior Ridder may have discussed, but the two men shared
a scientific background and contemporary employment with a
local chemical corporation by the name of Swablr®.
course may come as a surprise to many a reader – this 'Swablr'
thing – but names must be changed to protect the guilty. And in
this case, Swablr corporation wasn't always exactly an environmental
sweetheart; in fact, quite the contrary.
Many were the
violations and products later found defective, though the firm had
never created or maintained any Superfund sites.
Dad and Mr. Ridder talked politics or work or whatever, Davey and Roy
shot the sh** in similar fashion. Bereft of his bully pulpit,Davey
had a completely different take on Roy, and fortunately that spilled
over into daily banalities at Bylit school where both Davey and Roy
eventually completed two years.
Other 'bullees' in Davey's
cross-hairs included Bobby Doans, who had a pronounced speech
impediment and Coke bottle-thick glasses.
The teasing got so
strident at times – especially in Mr. Burkins' classes – that
classroom operations were nearly rendered moot.
Burkins could only take so much of this garbage.
day, after Davey had bullied Bobby Doans into a corner, and Davey had
voiced yet again his far too accurate Mr. Burkins imitation, Burkins
took matters into his own hands – and those hands made fists. The
fists, in turn, were meant for business.
Davey by the shirt collar and ushered him not so gently into the
private study cube at the back of the classroom.
keep up with this nonsense, you little shit, I swear I'll KILL you!”
Perkins huffed between clenched teeth.
The two were pressed into
the little study behind the closed door.
pressed his fist onto Davey's right cheek [facial cheek, of course]
as he seethed in hushed tones more stern warnings to the suddenly
scared Davey, who had never thought of Burkins as anything but a
wimpy Englishman. Now he was getting a taste of a rage so deep as to
defy explanation. In short, Davey was truly petrified at this
Finally, Burkins loosed his grip on Davey's shirt
and shoulders and the two men emerged into the classroom. Or should
we say one man and one overgrown boy who felt verbally
Davey was white as a sheet.