I have a whistle on my keychain. My brother had borrowed my keys and asked about it, I told him it was a long tale, and I would share it at some point. Well, he got away without me explaining that story so, here goes. That whistle has significant meaning to both my wife and I, and most of her family. Let me explain, this is going to take a minute.
Going back to the 80’s when my wife and I first met, in high school. We were the average love struck teenagers and we were each other’s “firsts”. Yes, that “first”. Our first time was in the front seat of my orange Mustang Ghia (no jokes about how it wasn’t really a mustang now). We were parking one evening after visiting with a friend, Larry Clark. We had some Jack Daniels and coca cola, and were talking to Larry about his current life’s events. He and his wife were having problems, pretty significant ones, that unknown to us at the time, led it his suicide in July of 81. He was my best friend at the time, and had said nothing to me about his intent.
Anyhow, as we were about to leave Larry’s he said, “Nope, you can’t leave drinks behind” and Lynda reached over and downed the entire glass. I was shocked. Lynda never drank much, but wow, she put it down like a drunken Marine. (I became one of those in July of 1981). We went to our usual parking spot and things, well, things got carried away. We had both held back on crossing that “line” for quite some time, but she decided we were ready. Even today, when we see an orange Mustang car of any year we get quite the laugh.. and the smile.
I enlisted in the US Marines without telling anyone. I had been thrown out of high school three times and finally decided that school wasn’t for me. I had a problem with authoritative figures. So what do I do? I get my GED and run off to the recruiters and end up joining the US Marines. Lynda was rightfully hurt and angry. But I explained to her that she not only would have talked me out of it, but I had no where to go. I had no education, and the economy was in the toilet. In a big way. A few days later I left for San Diego, and essentially said good bye to Lynda for 22 years. I spent many years wondering where she was, or who she might be with, and how she was doing. I knew I had screwed up.
That same July, Lynda’s dad, JD Smith, sat down the the breakfast tableand calmly turned to her and asked her if she was still a virgin. You could have dropped a pin and it would have been as loud as a gunshot. Lynda looked back at him and said, “Well dad, I won’t lie to you about something that important, no I am not”. JD’s next question as he eyed the shotgun behind the door was, “Where is he”? She replied that I had just left four days earlier for the US Marines. JD got up from the table, walked outside to the porch and sat down and cried. He didn’t speak to Lynda for two weeks after that.
Now, fast forward 22 years later and Lynda and I had reconnected. We were going to Grand Junction, Colorado from Anchorage Alaska on my R1150GS BMW motorcycle to visit everyone in Colorado and then finish moving my stuff to San Diego. It seemed like a great visit, I was getting along with everyone, even JD welcomed me into the fold. I was ecstatic, I was about to have a second family, and I had history with them, knew them all. Little did I know what history was about to unfold.
JD decided that we needed to go to town and pick up some items, who knows what, and invited Dan Hudson, Lynda’s uncle along. We walked out to the drive in front of the house, David, Lynda’s brother, was sitting in his wheelchair (He is a quadriplegic from a three wheeler accident) on the front porch, facing the GMC truck we were about to climb into. You see, JD had zero business driving, he was getting up in years and his eyesight was nothing to laugh at, so Dan opened the driver’s front cab door and jumped into the driver’s seat.
JD had a three door truck which had some limited seating in the back portion of it. He opened both doors on the passenger side and leaned in to clear a space for me to sit on. He was pushing pillows and other items they had brought for the trip from Roswell, New Mexico to Grand Junction Colorado. He was eager to be on the road to pick up whatever it was he needed, and I passingly noticed that Dan had found something on the steering wheel. He was staring quite intently at whatever it was and suddenly his head ducked down to the steering wheel. and…….
The whole fucking world exploded into the sound of a whistle. Now, I mean the loudest damn police whistle you have ever heard, it shook the windows on the truck, hell even the windows on the house! I mean HOLY MOTHER OF GOD loud. It went on forever. Then?
But JD shot out of the back of that truck as if his hair was on fire from the smoldering lakes of lava in hell, and that all the imps from that same godforsaken place were on his ass, and they were going to drag him straight to Hades for all the evil and wicked things he had ever done. You could almost see those demons in your minds eye, where they were all over his back and shoulders, screaming, cackling and laughing, well intent on putting him up in front of Satan for every thing wrong he had ever done. I could see them clawing and scratching, just trying to get a grip and drag him into the depths of that dark dank hole in the earth….
Well, JD was not going to go quietly, and not without one HELL of a fight. He spun around, away from the truck, and I could see his eyes, heck it was impossible not to see his eyes. He had glasses like coke bottle bottoms that magnified those eyeballs a hundred fold, and all I could see in those huge orbs was the total fear of those imps reaching for his soul. He was so scared that he couldn’t even scream, all he could get out was, “NNNNNYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!” and he saw me. No actually, he didn’t see me, what he saw was something blocking his escape from all those demons that were upon him, and there was nothing in this world going to stand in his way. NOTHING. Not God himself would have been able to slow him down. Those eyes that belonged to JD were huge, bulging, and in complete and utter panic, and I happened to be standing in his way.. that was not going to work for JD in that moment.
I saw his right fist come up out of the south forty and “biff!!” he caught me in the chin. All this as I spun to get out of his way. It was a weak grazing blow from a 72 year old man to the chin, kind of like a light whiffle bat catching me on the edge of the jaw, but it caused me to rotate, giving this rocket propelled devil magnet, a way out, and he looked like a man with his hair was on fire and his ass was catching. JD flew past me in such a manner that the wind sucked me into his wake. And he was gone.
Just like that. I mean gone. and me? I was standing there totally dumbstruck still trying to figure out exactly what in the hell had happened. I looked back towards the truck and there in the front seat with a police whistle dropping out of his mouth, was Dan, and he was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. He had tears streaming down his cheeks and the look of someone who had just pulled off the gag of the year. My eyes glanced sideways to the house, and David, Lynda’s brother, sitting in his wheelchair had tears streaming down his eyes, and his problem? He was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe either.
JD? at the other end of the yard… Eyes darting madly trying to figure out where all those imps that just about had him were gone. Patting himself to be sure they didn’t take a piece of him to hell for a taste test. I looked back at Dan, and now he was doubled over from laughing so hard, and Dave? Still couldn’t breathe. I kept wondering if these two jerks were going to pass out from laughing so hard. I still hadn’t figured it out.
You see, JD had this police whistle on his steering wheel just in case.. He had fallen years before during a cold November day in New Mexico in his “back forty” and had broken a hip. He couldn’t get up, and couldn’t make enough noise for anyone to hear. He almost went hypothermic before a friend happened to stop by and found him freezing to death outside. After that? He carried a police whistle in his truck just in case that ever happened again.
Dan found it on the steering wheel, and knowing that JD was as jumpy as a tick on methamphetamines, he knew blowing that whistle for all he had would scare the bejeezus out of JD.. and it did. Worked like a charm, JD turned into a rocket propelled devil magnet and I just happened to be in the way. A sock to the jaw, I moved, and so did JD, at just under sonic speed.
After all the laughter died down and after JD’s heart rate got down to 200 beats per minute, we all laughed, shook hands and went inside to share the tale. After everyone else quit laughing, someone, not sure who said something to the effect, “Hey JD, guess what?” “You got to sock the guy that fooled with your daughter”. And in that moment? JD kind of processed that thought and his chest swelled, and he said “You know something?”
Shortly after that I received a wooden plaque from my future parents in law. When Lynda and I had reconnected, I had asked for their blessing of our marriage. It took them awhile, but guess what?
I got it… Once her mom got over the huge shiner that Lynda had when we showed up at their house, but that?
Is another story