A Sneak Peak behind the Country Curtain.
When I was in my pre teens, my cousin Kim (who is from the Bay
Area) and I would spend a few weeks during the summer in our moms’
birthplace of Forreston, Illinois. Our time was spent equally
between our uncle’s farm and grandmother’s house in
town. Forreston is something out of a Norman Rockwell storybook
where houses have big porches, large expanses of tidy deep green
lawns, huge shade trees usually under a bright blue sky and laundry
lines just outside of the screened in back porches (at least that’s
what it looks like in summertime). Main Street resembles Disneyland
with the exception that there are no stores devoted to an overpriced
stuffed mouse. The corner coffee shop has a loyal cluster of customers
from the community who have probably met at the same table every
day for the last 45 years (and they are all probably related to
my cousin and I somehow).
During one of our visits, Kim and I were desperate
to find something to do while we eagerly awaited our cool cousin
Judy to get off work and drive us around in her little Porsche
to take us somewhere more cultured like, roller skating. So we
opted to kill time by exploring this seemingly unnatural world,
called Small Town USA. As we wandered towards Main Street, we
watched as the neighborhood kids playing outside quickly ran indoors
to draw the drapes and gape at us California aliens “inconspicuously”
through their country curtains. The experience was very amusing
then and today when the thought pops in my head it still makes
me giggle, though a bit uncomfortably as I’m living in a
town half the size of Forreston. As I head into my 7th month in
West Virginia, I am finding similarities to what I had experienced
in Forreston oh so long ago.
Small towns are hot beds for spinning stories,
rumors and speculation, ESPECIALLY if you’re an outsider.
While our experiences with the neighbors have been exceptional,
we are still suspect. I have heard from other locals that many
who move here from other places are most likely in the Witness
Protection Program cause why else would anyone move to West Virginia?
The first time someone told me such a tale, I exploded into laughter
thinking they were joking, they were visibly upset at me. (oh
well, just another notch on their belt why city folks are just
One day while working around the house, we noticed
a dilapidated ATV bouncing down our drive. The driver was a 20
something sporting the West Virginia uniform, An Auto Supply baseball
hat, deer hunting camo sweatshirt, dirty jeans and muddy boots.
Riding on the frayed back seat was an aged boozy harlot with crimson
hair and 3 inches of gray roots, I believe some of her teeth were
missing, however the teeth I was able to get a glimpse at were
in various stages of decay. They had owned this property for a
couple of decades, and seemed to believe they still owned it.
They thought they’d just pop by and pay the old homestead
Now the hospitable thing to do would be invite
them in to sit a spell, but we decided that hospitality was NOT
an option. So we kept them at a safe distance while we were armed
with dry wall knife and duct tape, 2 small puppies and about 10
“So, we hear you folks came out all the
way from California…I reckon you’re a long way from
home way out here in these backwoods” said the 20 something
as he turned his head and spit. The over processed red headed
jezebel, who was this young man’s mother, chuckled in that
croaky kind of way reminiscent of Marge Simpson’s sisters’
and proceeded to chime in on how beautiful her house was. I inquired
where her house was located. She replied in turn replied “Oh,
I mean when I lived here this was a beautiful house”.
Stepping closer to Doc, I mentioned in no uncertain
terms, “Well, now that we’re the new owners, it’s
our beautiful house.”
And that’s when things got a little tense.
The young man noted. “I don’t understand
why you would move from Los Angeles to come here.”
With an "I’m trying to be friendly
but I really don’t like you at all" smile, I said,
“It was time for a major change and we’re enjoying
our new life”
He replied, “People move out to the country
to get away from stuff,” he looked at me with great suspicion
and said in a “Deliverance” tone…”Everybody’s
got something to hide even you.”
Doc stepped closer to the ATV, the young man
slowly craned his neck to look Doc in the eye but he was preoccupied
by every tattooed ink line on Doc’s arm. The boy stopped
on the flaming skull on Doc’s forearm reading the quote
aloud: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn Pro”
“And We are professionals,” Doc said
leaning in with his signature piercing blue eyed stare and quietly
said: “and when I say ‘WE’ son, I mean ME. “
“Right sir” said the young man who’s
bravado was now a puddle of liquid cowardice.
The mother noticing there was somethin’
a brewin’ and it would be brewing ugly quick, she thought
it best to mention that one of our neighbors was a Narc for the
FBI. It was obvious she wanted to know what we did so I told her
that it wasn’t the neighbor that was the Narc, but I couldn’t
tell her who it was as it would breach my confidentiality agreement.
Obviously confused, they looked at each other
made up an excuse said their goodbyes and quickly bounced back
down the road.
Weeks later, during a dinner with some neighbors,
Doc recounted the story. I pointed out to our neighbor that he
was the FBI Narc, which brought about some very loud cackling,
we can’t tell you why that’s so funny, just use your
imagination. Our neighbor then chronicles what happened AFTER
our run in with the dynamic duo. Seems the young man stopped by
our neighbor’s home the same day he had stopped by ours.
Here’s what the young man told to them:
Doc is affiliated with an infamous motorcycle club and that he
may be the leader of the Los Angeles chapter but in hiding due
to some kind of investigation and I may be the one leading that
What he doesn’t realize is that Doc’s
Harley is now a red 1958 Massey Ferguson 35, 3 cylinder diesel
with all sorts of attachments, including pig pole and tiller (yee-frickin’-haw).
However, he would have known that he had just looked through the