Nineteen Sixty Three • • • 1963

A Nineteen Sixty Three road trip through America

Adam Hayden and Bobby Griffis are committed to an extra year at Titus Highschool because of a serious choice they made the previous year — what should have been their final year.
Under the pressures of their situation, they begin musing about an escape to Florida — a road trip. Adam has a Volkswagen that they are certain could make the trip. They have a few dollars in their pocket, thirty-seven to be exact. They even have a friend in Florida they could visit. Just thinking about it is an emotional release, but they know it’s just a pipe dream.
The more they joke about it, however, the more their enthusiasm evolves. A slight nudge by a school acquaintance and the trip could become a reality.
It’s a fun read—a Tom Sawyer adventure, surrounded in — police encounters — racial conflicts — murder — jail time — and more of the daily experiences one can expect on an escapade into the racially plagued American south of 1963.
Book Cover for Nineteen Sixty Three

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The Ridiculous Files — Erratic Driver in Annapolis Royal, NS

A visit to the Fort Anne Historical Site at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia — claimed to be the oldest historic site in Canada.

With our tour finished and souvenirs stashed away in the car, we pulled out of the parking lot intent on travelling to Digby, home of the MV Fundy Rose ferry to Saint John, N.B.—and a world-famous Digby scallops dinner and a beer. Ignoring my Garmin navigator, I made a right turn out of the parking lot for the road leaving town. As we entered the street, a police cruiser drove past us in the opposite direction.

I’ve always been a little paranoid when police pass by—in either direction. Not that I’m hiding out from the law, but it seems they can always find you guilty of some driving infraction. Your driver’s licence may be out of date, your tail lights may be dirty, or there’s always — “We don’t allow grey cars on the road when it’s raining.”

Checking my rearview mirror, I noticed the red and blue lights on the roof of the police car start flashing, and the cruiser quickly made a U-turn in our direction. He came up behind us, lights seemingly exploding in blinding red and blue when they are that close. His siren whoop-whoop-whooping, so I decided I must have been his intended target. I had been nabbed. They had me. I was nicked. My crimes were about to be exposed. I pulled to the curb and stopped; the police car parked behind us.

The officer slowly got out of his vehicle, squared his hat firmly on his head and approached; inspecting, first the back of our vehicle, then the rear seat as he arrived. He was young and pleasant-enough looking but presented a rather stern expression on his face. He was also cautiously resting his right wrist on the butt of a gun hanging from his hip. He nodded a friendly ‘hello,’ followed with a “Good afternoon, you folks just visiting Annapolis?”

“Yes,” I replied, now beginning to think that with this friendly approach, we possibly had been chosen for a ‘Special Tourist’ prize.

“Did you realize that you just turned onto a one-way street, the wrong way?”

“No!” I replied.

There it was. I had broken the Law of Directions and hadn’t realized it. Jail time was imminent.

He requested my driver’s licence and vehicle registration which Robin had already retrieved from the glove compartment. He reviewed them, checking their authenticity through a handheld computer he carried.  Perhaps he had chanced upon an escaped, psychopathic serial baby-rapist wanted on warrants across the province. I apologized for not noticing the alleged ‘One Way‘ signage. I took his word that it was there.

I had only travelled about 500 feet since leaving the parking lot, and not too far ahead, was a traffic light facing me. If I was driving in the wrong direction, why was there a traffic light facing me? I was confused, but I assumed him to be correct—it being his territory and all.

As he stood there performing research on his hand-held computer, I  babbled on about our visiting from up-island . . .  , well, not from up-island as such, because Nova Scotia’s not an island really. I mentioned how we had just moved to Nova Scotia from Victoria. I hesitated a moment, then added, British Columbia, just in case he wasn’t familiar where Victoria was or thought we were possibly from Australia. A few more ridiculous bits of verbal diarrhea trickled out, but I remained calm; prepared for a ticket. Robin supported my scattered explanations, but we mostly waited quietly for the final results of the apprehension. I tried to look the innocent tourist, so lost in the surrounding beauty of Annapolis Royal that I had missed the directional signage.
“It really is a pretty town.”
I realized what complete tripe it must have sounded. I stopped talking and stared forward again.

Then, to my surprise, he handed me back my documents—without a ticket.

“Just try to be more careful in the future,” he said, although still with that austere smile.

For whatever reason, he chose to take sympathy on us. Perhaps it was WiFi, our Yorkshire terrier, sitting quietly, strapped to his elevated back seat, peering out the window, looking directly at the officer as if he was obviously there with a treat that he was about to offer at any moment.

I thanked the officer, without getting out of the car and kissing his boots, and then tucked the license and registration into my pocket. He headed back to his vehicle, and I drove ahead about 50 feet to the intersection with the traffic light and stopped. Robin twisted, to take a picture of an old church through her side window. I hesitated an extra few moments for her to get the shot. The cop pulled up behind us, stopped, and waited. Not wanting to hold up traffic—particularly that police officer, and noticing no one else on the adjacent streets, I moved on through the intersection.

As I proceeded across the street, I immediately recognized a problem. What I had mistaken for a flashing red stop-and-go light, was in fact, a regular red and green traffic light. I had driven off through a red light . . . . .  in front of the cop that had just forgiven me with a warning for not paying attention to my driving.

OMG! Now, I was certainly in trouble. This is where they lock me up. I crawled the rest of the way through the intersection to an angled parking spot in front of another old church, rolled down my window and waited. He pulled in beside me, rolled down his passenger side window and just looked at me shaking his head in disbelief. I looked back, with a kind of rueful smile on my face.

“God,” I said, “I don’t believe this. For some reason, I thought it was a flashing red light.”

‘I thought it was a flashing red light?’ Why didn’t I just tell him that I had no driving knowledge and that he should probably just lock me up for everyone’s safety? He shook his head—no friendly smile.

“Could you just pay attention and be careful?”

I gave a weak smile. “You should just follow me around. You could probably fill a book of tickets.”
‘Oh My God! Just shut up, fool!’

Apparently, still feeling charitable, he repeated his warning about being careful; I told him that I would and that I promised to leave town while I still could. He weakened and his lips curled up slightly at the edges; then he backed out and drove off.

I think I gained more appreciation for the police with that encounter than if I had received a ticket.

Robin and I headed for Digby. We both needed that beer more than ever.

It really is a pretty little town, with lots to see and do.
ANNAPOLIS  ROYAL, Nova Scotia. 

A Hit by NATURE

A HIT by NATURE

   A SHORT STORY
—by—
A James Hindle

 “Too often I  suffer a  lack of inspiration when I sit down to write. In an effort to get my brain more or less functioning, I’ll scribble out a bit of ‘Ridiculous’—a ramble of thoughts, written as they occur, usually non-sensicle and confusing, but thoughts non-the-less. At times, with a little touch-up here and there, the jumble of words form an ‘Almost Story’ —  an addition for my “Files of the Ridiculous.”
Here’s a sample.”

There was a knock at the door. The dog barked — the cat meowed. When I went to the door and opened it, no one was there. I closed it—confused.  I went back to whatever it was I was doing. There was another knock at the door. The dog barked, again. The cat meowed, and I once more went and opened the door. Still nobody.  I wondered, ‘Were we being tricked’?

As I stood in the open doorway, a foul-smelling scent wafted past. The stench was horrible; nausea and shivers ran through my body, while the cat and dog shook, possibly in fear. Strangely, curiosity beckoned us, and together we left our safe, cozy cottage and ventured into the forest.

We were immediately cornered by a large wolf that had just burped, after apparently finishing a satiating meal. Bad breath? OMG! The same odor we’d witnessed in the doorway of the cabin. On the ground before him, lie a red cloak-n-hoody sort of thing. It tweaked my interest. Was this the cape of Little Bo Peep?  Surely not! I knew that she was still in the hospital after giving birth to a little ba-a-a-a-stard after she was sexually assaulted by a rogue ram while tending her sheep in a meadow somewhere up the mountain. Sad story . . .  , but getting back to this one . . .  No! This must have been Little Rrrr . . .  Little Rrrr. I couldn’t bring myself to say the name.

My thoughts were interrupted when the wolf, feeling comfortably full and not overly aggressive, asked if I happened to have a cigarette.  I knew I didn’t, because I’m allergic to all tobacco products, alcohol, sex and vulgar words, ever since my mother told me as a boy that I was allergic to all tobacco products, alcohol, sex and vulgar words. She said if I ever were to use any of them, I’d turn into a dog or cat molester . . .  Uh! . . .  Never mind about that.  Just because I love my dog and cat doesn’t mean I . . . . .  . I really don’t want to talk about that, right now!

I knew I had to think fast, so I told the wolf about a stash of funny grass that the cat was hiding in her bed, back at the cabin, and that it could possibly be smoked if one were so inclined. I knew it was just dog hair because when I rolled it in paper and lit it there was a funny smell, kind of like when you roll dog hair in paper and light it.
You’re probably curious why there’s dog hair in my . . .  , I mean, the cat’s bed.  I’m not certain, but I think they’re having a kinky affair. But that’s another story.
Anyway, I thought if I told him about it—if he took the bait—it would give me a chance to come up with a better plan to save us from the wolf.  We all walked back to the shack.

I’m sure my plan would have worked, but just as we were leaving the edge of the forest, heading back toward the shed, it happened . . . like ketchup from a bottle when you shake it —thinking the caps on tight but it’s not — and ketchup flies all over the room—well, kind of like that—blood was flying everywhere.

Like the blaze of fire and destruction from the barrel of a gun, the large birds attacked.  Legs outstretched, mouths so big they could swallow a Cocker Spaniel whole . . . (Pause) . . . . . .

“Rex?  Here Rex!”  Where was Rex?  Oh, my Gawd!  He had been such a good dog.

They came from the treetops at the edge of the forest. Streaking down on us in a voracious fury; their fiery-emblazoned eyes locking on their prey; their ear-piercing screeches wreaking fear and horror over their intended victims. Razor-sharp talons and slashing beaks tore into their prey in a rampage of explosive, ravenous energy.

Then . . .  , just as they had arrived, they were gone.

I was lying, cut and bruised on the ground — certain I had to be seriously injured because I was lying cut and bruised on the ground. I’m repeating myself, I know, but I was certain I’d been hurt.

It had happened so fast I wasn’t even sure where I was wounded. I looked around and noticed the wolf was dead—bits and pieces of him here and there: legs, chunks of fur, a big paw, a wolf head. That was the clincher: a severed, mutilated head. Yeah! He was dead all right. Somehow, it could have just been luck, but I was alive and I had all my parts.

I gathered what energy I had and lifted myself to my feet, surveying the area, turning slowly, soaking in the carnage that had just happened. Suddenly, a rush of pleasure overcame me. Well, not the kind of pleasure one would feel during some ‘rush-of-pleasure’ circumstances. Say no more. 

Umm! Well, as I was saying . . .

More of a rush-of-happiness. There she was, Freckles the cat. I called her freckles because she was jet black with one little white spot between her eyes; kind of a freckle.  Made me think of a target’s bulls-eye. Not that I’d ever . . .  . Anyway, as I was about to say, Freckles was alive, hiding in a hole under a log, her hair standing straight up, looking like a large puffer fish with hair. She was staring up at me and I could tell she wanted to come out and leap into my arms, claws outstretched in a fit of excited relief and celebration.
Gads!’ I thought. ‘This could turn out almost as bad as the bird’s attack.’

Then, more elation shot through my traumatized body.There, gazing up at me was another set of eyes, sparkling in the darkness from behind Freckles. It was Rex! He was alive! Oh, glory days. The three of us had survived. Only the wolf had bought it, in that venomous wrath of assault and carnage.

Had it been a strange, ‘hit’ by nature?  Could the wolf have been singled out for annihilation for killing and eating, the owner of the red cape? Was that person really, Little Rrrr . . . . Little Rrrr . . . ? I still couldn’t bring myself to say it.  Perhaps she been coming on a visit to see us when the wolf . . . ? We all so enjoyed her visits. She so loved Freckles and Rex. And, she always brought such good cookies. Damn wolf; must have eaten the cookies too!

But, was it really her that had been devoured by the wolf? Or had he just had his lunch wrapped up in a red cape to keep it warm? I knew I would be pondering this for some time to come. At least until Little Red visited us again. If she could. We all headed back to the hut.

I couldn’t help thinking, ’who were those pecksey—get it, pecksey, not pic . . . oh, never mind—who were those pecksey birds?
What was their driving force . . . .  , I mean besides their wings
.’
Were they Special Agents of Creation?
Natures “Assassins of Control?”

But, that’s another tail . . . , ah . . .  , tale . . . , no . . .  , tail . . .  .
But, that’s another story, when I get it all figured out.

The end . . . . . . . for now.