In a Van Down by the River..

I’d probably just turned 18. It was a humid Long Island summer night, back in the very late 70’s and I was sharing a cold six pack with my pal Rob. We were out in the open on a typically uneventful street, but on this night, a speeding white van clearly looking for trouble, whips around the corner, speeds up fast towards us, pulls right up to the curb and stops.

There is a grumbly roar as the white side van door slides open, and like a trojan horse, a dozen drunken lunatics run out and involuntarily carry me into the dark, beer soaked insides of the vehicle, itself one big beer can on wheels.

There I was- kidnapped, still clutching my Budweiser, and held hostage by a group of the neighborhood’s best know hoodlums, otherwise know as my ‘friends’. It was a victory for them. A heist of none other than myself, worthy of a few high fives and cheers. My poor friend Rob, who knew none of these guys was probably wondering if he would ever see me again.

The van was now speeding through town, metal music was blasting from the stereo system, and you could see the pale adams apples on the necks of all these kids moving up and down to the beat of all the beer that was being guzzled.

By now the group had been out for a few hours already and was trashed. They were looking for one last adventure. They decided to go to the house of the craziest guy in town and ransack the exterior of the house of which he lived, only I didn’t know it yet.

The van heads off on what feels like a kill mission. The van finds its destination, the door roars open again, and a dozen crazed drunks, with me included in the throng, pour out of the van and instantly the group begins to rip apart this poor guys house.

I’d never met the guy before, but stories of him beating the crap out of people in town were legendary. Back in those days, usually scores were settled with a crowbar. Why these guys decided to pick on this guy was not clear me, but it mattered little now. There was a flame orange color muscle car parked in the driveway. It certainly appeared to me that this guy was home, and I was now awkwardly standing on his front lawn. There is a porcelain statue of a jockey holding a lamp at the base of the driveway and suddenly all eyes set on it. About half the group starts towards it, tackles it, and it breaks into pieces. Another kid runs up to the front door and kicks it hard enough for the glass to shatter. If any sleeping souls in that home were going to be awaken, it was going to be now. The lights on the house turn on. Confrontation is imminent.

In a panic, the van starts off again with half the crew back on board and the rest running for it as it became clear it was time to get out of there as fast as possible or risk having a meeting with this guys fury. Some of the kids are running parallel to the van, with their feet dragging while they are being pulled in. I’m running as fast as I can, but the van is faster.

The van is now gone, and I’m the only one left behind. I’m less than 50 yards away from the house- and Godzilla.

I can hear noise now coming from behind me. Someone was stark raving mad. I hear the doors of the muscle car open and close, and the engine explode with rage. I can visualize the car reversing out of the driveway, and It’s coming speeding toward me.

How the heck am I going to get out of this one. It’s midnight, I’m on a street I have no business to be walking on, I have branches sticking out of my hair, grass and dirt stains on my pants and I’m sweating like I just walked off a soccer field. Yet, I’d better think fast because now he was pulling up right beside me.

He is here now. I feel his presence. I feel the heat.

Insanity is the mark of this mans face right now. He is unquestionably livid and he impatiently questions me. One wrong word and he’s going to run me over 5 times in reverse, and then beat me with a crowbar.

My hands were in my pockets and I was walking slow. “Dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just walking home”.

As suspicious as I must have appeared, with all the damage to this poor guys house, certainly one person couldn’t be capable of that entire mess. This poor guy now was caught in the struggle of spending more time asking me questions, but at the risk of losing the trail to the real animals that tore up this guys property.

Then in the distance the white van appeared speeding by on a cross street. He gives me one last crazy look, steps down on the gas and heads toward the van. I was saved.

He never did catch the van, and the poor jockey laid broken for a month.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five + 8 =