Memoirs of a Yankee Cowboy

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Down the road of self-destruction, Ben spins out of control.

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Spiraling out of Control

Submitted: April 28, 2019

Reads: 33

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Submitted: April 28, 2019

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Chapter Three

The living arrangements with my second family ended when Jenny found my motorcycle outside Millie Jones apartment at about six o’clock one morning.  Jenny didn’t have a mother to go to bat for me.  So, I had to face it.  Jenny knew that I had too much to drink at the Bloody Bucket the night before and she knew that Millie and I were seen cuddling on the dance floor.  It was also reported that Millie was the “Biker Mama” seen traveling away behind me with her red hair flying in the wind.

The scene went like this.  Millie crawled out of bed beside me and opened her apartment door to a red-faced Jenny.  She came back in as I was getting my pants on.  I went to the door and Jenny gave me that look.  “Are you coming with me?”  I didn’t say a word to Millie or Jenny.  I walked out the door to my bike, climbed on and Jenny followed me to her house.  Soon after that, I moved into an apartment of my own.

Living away from my ma didn’t keep me from hanging with her and that family.  We all got together regularly at a restaurant in the town where we all grew up.  One day, me, my brothers and Ma were a little tipsy already and had ordered our meals in the private dining room.  The youngest brother was still in his teens and he was more than a little crazy anyway.  He wedged himself into the child’s high chair and broke it.  We were all laughing, trying to muffle our sounds while Kevin tried to prop it back together.  The owner came into the room with our drinks as Ma, Kevin, Keith and I sat trying to suppress the laughter.

“Do you want to let me in on the joke?”  The owner asked.  We said nothing.

Ma waved him off.  “They’re just like a bunch of girls today.  Giggling over nothing.”

As the owner turned and started out of the room, the high chair collapsed.  The owner slowly turned around and pointed at Ma.  “You get your damn heathens out of my restaurant, Cassie and never come back here again or I’ll turn you all over to the law.”  We hoofed it out of the door before Ma could get on her feet and we never went back again.

Another time, we were all in a restaurant in a town where no one knew us.  We all ordered big meals and as we were waiting to be served, a man came in and spotted Ma.  Ma smiled at him and invited him to sit with us at the long table.  The man ordered his meal and Ma chatted away with him as we ate.  After we were all finished, the man was still eating.  Ma excused herself and as she passed us, she gave us that “look”.  I was talking to the man as I watched the door behind him.  As Ma hit the door, I excused myself to toilet and as I hit the door, the brothers got up and took off after me out the door and running full blast down the street.  Two long blocks away, Ma pulled up beside us in her car, we jumped in and we were gone.  This all happened so fast that I don’t think the man realized what had happened until he got the bill for the whole table.

If that owner or that man had been someone I cared about, there would have been no way I would have participated in those two events.  That’s sad when you think about it.

I let Ma be my guide in how to treat people and women.  I let her relationships guide me through in my choices.  I had other good influences that I could have followed, but I chose my ma’s life to emulate.

My younger brothers tried to outdo me, especially the youngest.  This is another story and I’ll tell about that later.  However, I say this now, because I want to say that we can never blame others for our choices.  We are given many leaders to follow throughout life, it is up to each of us to choose the right mentor and the right path.

If someone treated my sisters the way I treated women, I would have invited them into a cage fight with me.  Jenny, Millie and a few others scattered throughout the county tried to tame me.  I was a mean drunk by that time.  Even though I never hit Lottie, because her mother was always there to stick up for me, I'm not sure that I wouldn’t have hesitated to hit other women if I was agitated when I was drunk.  I know that I got into plenty of bar fights. Yes, I was a mean drunk.

Even though Lottie and I were no longer married, I couldn’t get her off my mind.  I’d go out to the farm to see the kids now and then, but it soon became apparent that Lottie had moved on.  She became pregnant with my cousin’s child.  Lottie gave the child my last name.

It wasn’t long after the divorce settlement that Lottie took up with another farm hand.  They seemed to be doing fine.  One night, the seemingly happy couple came in to the Bloody Bucket.  Lottie kept looking my way.  I got up when her new man was up playing pool and went over and asked her to dance.  She immediately started a conversation and begging me to come back home.  She wanted to marry me again.  We started making plans.

She kissed my cheek and said, “I’ll tell Lennie tonight that we’re over and that yous and I are getting married again.”  I’d never seen her so happy.

I stayed longer, drinking and partying after Lottie and Lennie left.  In about twenty minutes, some guys ran in and said, “Lottie and Lennie were in an accident within walking distance of the farmhouse.”  I sobered up quick and running out, I jumped on my bike.

I was not prepared for what happened next.  Lennie was nowhere to be seen, the car was upside down wedged in two trees and it was on fire.  Lottie was trapped and hanging out through a hole in the front window and she was apparently dead.  I was told that she screamed and tried to get out of the inferno, but no one could reach her by that time.

I ran toward the car, but a bunch of guys grabbed me and held me back.  I was furious when I learned that Lennie had raced the car and turned it into the woods as he jumped out and ran up the road to Lottie’s.

He was put on trial and his folks lost their farm getting a lawyer and paying for his defense.  He only got about seven years or so I guess.  I was so distraught that I’m not sure what the consequences actually were.  However, Lottie's parents blamed me and I never understood why.  Perhaps Lennie told them an entirely different version when he ran up the road to the house like the coward he was.  Perhaps the parents felt that if I had not divorced Lottie in the first place, the whole thing would not have happened.  For whatever reason, I was turning my guilt inward and it was rotting me away like a cancer.

I hit the bottle big time then, stayed drunk on the weekends, and went to bed with a bottle of whiskey during the rest of the time.  I had moved into my own apartment in the city near where I worked before that night and women were welcome to my bed as long as they met my expectations.

As for my children with Lottie, I would visit, but I never could settle myself down and find a woman who would help me to raise them.  The grandparents talked me into signing over custody.  After a while, when I would try to see the kids, they would walk away from me.  Finally, I stopped driving out to seeing them.

That’s how it was.  I never got to see much of Jenny’s children either.  She moved on with another man as well.

My life just kept spiraling out of orbit.  I had had quite a few car accidents over a long period of time, but things really wound up after Lottie’s death.  I was racking up a record of DUI’s, sitting in jail and paying fines.

It’s a good thing that I was making a lot of money for that day at the factory in the town where I worked.  I became obsessed with beating the time keepers rate sheets since we were paid by piece rate.  The time keepers were sure that I was doing something crooked because the parts were always accurate.  However, I was just that hyper, in a frenzie and just that fast.  Of course, I always knew when they were timing me and I’d slow down.

When I wasn’t working, I was drinking and I always had a woman.  One night I got so drunk in a bar that the bartender did the unthinkable.  It was the first time he’d ever cut a customer off.

I stumbled out after causing a big commotion and fight and I got into my big old car that I had bought the week before.  I revved the engine and tore out of the lot, kicking up gravel as I went.  The bartender called the cops.  That was another first for that bar.

As I reached 100 miles per hour, (or so they said), I had every cop in the city chasing me.  They couldn’t catch me and after I had pushed the speed up over the 100 miles per hour mark, I aimed for two police barricades that had been set up.  All I could see were lights flashing and I charged ahead building my speed.  I crashed into five police cruisers in total, and I kept going.  After the second road block, the troopers caught up with my now bent up car and blocked me in.

The cops pulled me out, physically unscathed and I got room and board that night in the local jail.  The next morning, my lawyer who had represented me in at least two other speeding violations came in and had a hard time getting me awake.  I was taken to a room to talk with him and he briefed me on the hearing.  When it was my turn to answer a question from the judge, I needed to watch him for a nod.  When the judge asked me for a plea on a charge, the lawyer would nod and l was supposed to say, “Guilty, your honor.”

The judge said, “You are being charged with backing down a one-way alley.  How do you plea?”

The lawyer nodded and I said, “Guilty your honor.”

“How do you plea to being drunk and disorderly?”

The lawyer nodded.  “I said “Guilty, your honor.”

“How do you plea for speeding in excess of 75 miles an hour?”

The lawyer nodded and again I said, “Guilty, your honor.”

Not once did the judge ask me for a plea for guilty or not guilty on the destruction of the police cruisers or police endangerment.  It had to be that the judge and the lawyer had a crooked thing going although there was no money in it for either of them, at least not from me.

The judge charged me with a DUI and I was again paying a fine of about $70.00 which was a lot of money back then.  But if I had been charged with the damage to the police cruisers and the endangerment of the police officers, I would have been paying thousands and perhaps even spent time in prison.

That was not the end of my attempts to destroy myself after the death of Lottie.  I became a daredevil of massive proportions.  There was nothing I wouldn’t try.

Cage fighting became a big event and I was all out for that.  I would get drunk and rowdy.  With my big muscles from working on farms and heavy work in factories, I would take on the guys even bigger than me.  I won every event I got into and was offered a contract to travel with the event.  But I was not in favor of joining anything.  Besides after the alcohol wore off, I felt the effects of the punches I took.  It would have been a good way to ensure death, I guess, but I reasoned it would be my luck to have been a cripple mentally and physically.

At a carnival, there was a cycling in a barrel event that caught my attention.  Now, that was an event that might really give me a thrill and I had to be sober to do it.  I knew how to handle a motorbike well and I watched as one guy almost went out the open top.  Soon I was on a carnival bike and leaning into it.  Going out of the open top would have been easy, but my desire to challenge and win kept me on track.  I kept the crowd happy for many nights until the carnival moved on.

After that, I worked as a driver in drag races and demolition events.  I was good at it.  I especially liked driving the demolition vehicles.  It gave the opportunity to wreck and raise havoc legally.

After I was twenty-five, I got a job as a semi-truck driver to the New York City warehouses and wharfs.  Now-a-days, I’m not sure my DUI record would have passed the test.  Then it didn’t seem to matter.  The docks and that area of the city certainly was not a good environment for a rebel like me.

One night as myself and another trucker were taken a breather in the local pub near the wharf.  Suddenly, there were no lights.  It was the big black out.  Somehow, we got back to the trucks.  We were both so drunk, we climbed into the back of the empty trailer and went to sleep, leaving the door open.  The next morning, the other guy was gone and I crawled out dragging myself.  I closed and locked the door.  I climbed back into my truck cab and headed out onto the highway north.  I pulled into a restaurant half way up to Watertown and realized that I didn’t have my wallet.  In a panic, I ran back to the back, opened the load door and climbed in.  As I pulled up onto the bed, I did a double take.  I had been unloaded of juice products and produce the night before in the New York City warehouses.  My trailer was now loaded with several containers of all kinds of radios, T.V.’s, and other items that were for that day expensive.

My first reaction was that I had taken the wrong truck.  I found my wallet on the floor where I slept and then I went around to the front and examined the papers in the glove compartment.  “Nope, right truck.”  Still puzzled, I went into the restaurant to fill the hole in my stomach and try to figure this one out.  As I sat down up on a bar stool, the waitress filled me in on the happenings in the city.

“Are you coming out of the black out?”

“Yeah, headed back to the north country.”

“You got out in good time.  The whole city was looted last night.  The police are searching everybody on the street for stolen goods.  There’s been a lot of arrest.”

A light went on in my head.  I racked my brain to try to remember if I may have lowered the ramp and helped the other drunk load all that stuff out in my trailer. I was definitely drunk, but not so inebriated that I couldn’t have carried the rest of that stuff in.

The waitress was chatting on about how police were arresting anyone caught with stolen goods.  I shoveled my breakfast down, paid the bill and headed back to the truck.  I sat and thought about it.  If I contacted the cops, they’d haul me off to jail without listening to the truth, especially if they pulled my rap sheet.  I decided that I had to get rid of that stuff before I pulled into the Watertown.

It dawned on me what I could do and I didn’t miss a beat.  There was a man that had given me a lot of grief over a daughter of his.  He worked as a night watchman at a big company.  This company owned a dump in a secluded forest where all their waste was covered over with a big tractor.  There would be no one around that hour on a Saturday.  I headed for that dump, pulled my tractor trailer in and threw all that stuff in the biggest gully hole I could find.  Then I jumped on the big plow tractor and pushed a big load of dirt on top of it all.  When I was satisfied with it, I pulled my truck out of there and hit it for Watertown laughingly thinking about how confused that girl’s father was going to be when all that equipment was moved around with fresh dirt in that hole.

Now some readers may be of the opinion that I should never have done that and that is was a coward’s way out.  However, one never knows what they might do unless they are the ones facing jail time for something they didn’t do.  I was a daredevil, but I was a smart one and knew when to use my survival skills.

It’s a wonder that I didn’t kill myself on the roads with my motorcycle, drinking and speeding.  God was watching over me.  Then one night, I did almost did end it.  The local cops were chasing me as I was speeding down through the city streets.  I sped out of town and toward the country.  The bubble lights backed off, but I kept flying even faster down that old country road toward a concrete bridge and I went twisting straight into the wall.  Crash.  I was off.  When I woke, I was in a hospital and I had been there for three days.  I overheard the doctor and nurse talking about how I had to have received a miracle.  Later they showed me my helmet.  There was a big round role in the helmet, but only a scrap to the back of my head.  The jar of the crash had knocked me out, but the helmet saved my life.  My whole body was scraped and aching, but I was alive.

I not only survived, I came to the realization that I had to get out of the North Country if I wanted to change my life.  I made my plans and decided that I wanted to live in California.  I saved my money, packed up my few possessions and hit the road.

I felt emancipated from all the bad judgements, the awful influences and nightmares of my childhood.  The good times with siblings and cousins were treasures I would take with me.  Everything else, I buried in the past.

When I say, I buried it in the past, I do mean that literally.  One day, when I knew that my x-in-laws would not be on the property, I borrowed my uncle’s truck and hauled all my furniture, electronics and other treasures out to an old abandon well near the porch.  I uncovered it and dumped everything in the big pit.  Then I jumped on the old tractor and hauled up dirt from a side hill and covered it up.  As I was finishing covering it, my in-laws showed up with the kids.

“What the blazes are you doing, Benny?”

“I’m leaving town, and it’s always bothered me that the kids might end up down that well.  It’s filled in now and I’ll never have to worry about that again.”

I drove off that farm and back to my uncle’s, jumped on my bike and high tailed it out of the state.  I returned a few times later to see the kids, but they were growing into their teen years by then and still spoiled.  They ignored me and wouldn’t visit, so I finally left for the last time and never went back to the farm.


© Copyright 2019 Cookie Reece. All rights reserved.

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