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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 plain stupid.)

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 a visit.

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 chickens.

“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 investigation.

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 country curtains.

Copyright ©2005

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