VI Second Thoughts
Continuing to look back a few years, after what I’ve recounted so far from those late spring and early summer days, things-Claxbury began to pop like March irises. Once you set things in motion you often better jump back or get run-over by events. That was okay, except it seems events found it necessary for some reason to keep checking back with me, up close and personal. Not sure why it was expected, but it seemed I was some kind of focal point.
Leron Tackertt, you know, allowed he could help Miz Maverson, elderly Claxbury High Literature teacher form and coach a Lady Cougars Softball team. Drew Martin, Claxbury Fire Chief was set to approach Larry Patterson, Claxbury Clarion Editor to secure a job of any sort for his son Bobby, satisfying conditions for Bobby’s parole. Failing there, which was likely, Drew would petition Shaun O’Connor, Chief of Police. Drew was reluctant to talk with O’Connor, since O’Connor, as John Law, had been party to Bobby’s being sent away in the first place. I’ll get to that shortly.
Not instrumental in Leron’s agreeing to help Miz Maverson, I found it interesting Leron thought I played a part. Sure, at first, once or twice, I “reminded” Leron to get away from his garage and down to the softball field for Lady Cougar practice. Once Leron was comfortable with the obvious gender-thing, it was not so much an issue. Miz Maverson was quite hands-on. The softball practice field wasn’t in the route of my daily walk-about. Leron caught up with me on Main Street heading into the Clarion office one evening at dusk.
“Hey! Gotta minute?”
“Sure, Coach! How’s it going?”
“Girls are coming right along! Lotta talent. They don’t need a coach so much as a manager for rosters and occasional pointers. More a ball boy and equipment manager.”
“So, not as awkward as you expected?”
“Nah. And that Miz Maverson? She’s putting on a glove now, pitching for practice, and yelling at the girls when they get, you know, all girly.”
“Away. Sandy Beach. Not many teams, though.”
“Might consider challenging some summer league men’s teams.”
“Miz Maverson’s against that.”
“They got parents, you know?”
“Time to embarrass them into it.”
“Be a job for Miz Maverson.”
“You’re right! They anything that lady can’t do?”
“It being off-season, ask Coach Elkins if the boys could put together a softball team for games.”
“Conference rule. Coach can’t be involved.”
“Maybe. But you could coach some of the boys. Only takes nine of’m you know?”
“Not an issue. Here.”
“List of boys, and two guys graduated five, six years back. You know, to help coach, Coach.”
Leron grinned like he’d put one over on me. Guess he did. In two days, sixteen lads made time away from chores and summer jobs to field a team. I coached in name only. Suspect I was to lend an air of legitimacy. The “coach” volunteers were aces. Two practices a week and two games every Saturday.
Not so much Leron’s fault. That cagey Miz Maverson put him up to it. That’s okay, I’d earlier set Bruno Brubaker, Claxbury Playhouse patron and primary mover to pester Miz Maverson for help with some scripting difficulties he’d found he couldn’t resolve himself. She was kind of getting-even. Knowing Miz Maverson as a lady always on the look-see to get her students involved in things lasting well beyond school, I wasn’t surprised when Bruno reported the happy problem of too many youthful volunteers.
Bruno’s late summer production script was “fixed” by a senior-year lass. The young woman, kindly but truthfully could be described best as not candidate for homecoming queen, something of a studious wall flower. I’ll give a bit of spoiler here, reporting while the lass was late to blossom, when she did, she made her peers envious. For Bruno and the Playhouse, from day one, she played significant roles creatively, on and off-stage.
Business had called me to the Clarion office for a brief meeting with Larry Patterson, as you know, Editor. Finished being boonswoggled by Leron, I went in for a brief chat.
“Larry, what kind of change you looking to make needs my input?”
“Well, circulation is good and all but if we put out a mid-week with a whole section of buy-sell-swap ads, we can boost that.”
“Call it ‘Penny-Pincher Wednesday.’ Short ads, on the cheap, wrapped inside some mid-week national news recaps.”
“Culture an audience?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Ad revenue will support the whole issue anyway. We’d become bi-weekly.”
“You don’t need my okay. You run the show now.”
“Increased revenue. How you gonna spend it?”
“You’re not serious?”
“I am. Look at these numbers.”
“Hm. Reinvest in the Clarion. Or buy me out.”
“Plan to move on. Big city. Couple of years maybe.”
“Well. Your call on the Wednesday issue.”
“Right. Take about two weeks to pull it together.”
“Good. See you later. I have telephone calls to make. Summer softball.”
“Heard about that. Leron.”
“You newspaper guys…”
“Also visited with Drew.”
“About his son, Bobby?”
“Yeah. We run slim here. We don’t need staff.”
“Who’s gonna handle Penny Pincher ad sales and composition?”
“Say, you think Bobby could…”
“He’s not a criminal. He made a mistake. Caught because he is a decent person.”
“You’re right. I’m gonna call Drew.”
“He’ll be glad to hear from you.”
Drew was glad to hear Bobby had a firm employment offer. Chief of Police Shaun O’Connor would have been Drew’s next contact. Claxbury’s Police department is small so there’s not much need for civilian help. Shaun is a resourceful man though and might have found something. If not, I’d hear back from Drew. I was glad it worked-out the way it did. Right away, my list of prospects for Bobby was short.
You might wonder why the Chief of Police would be inclined to help a man he was responsible for sending away for prison time. I mean, other than the word “responsible.” It’s a brief story, but it explains a lot.
Bobby Martin was three years out of high school. Not keen on college, and not convinced the military offered him much, he bumped around gainfully employed but not really committed to anything of substance. On weekends he committed to spending his pay on drinks and carousing with a few big city no-goodniks. One night of foolishness found Bobby and his playmates breaking into an auto dealership. They liberated several high-end vehicles for prolonged unauthorized use.
Bobby ended up on back country roads near home. Whatever he planned to do next is unclear and irrelevant. What was later surmised and testified to in court was that driving past a bridge, Bobby saw a car had run off that bridge and was ready to be swallowed by the river. Bobby turned the car he was driving sideways to attract attention. Familiar with rescue in such situations, Bobby took a jack handle from the stolen car and dove into the river. There were two teens trapped in that car. Bobby managed to free them both.
Passersby notified police. Claxbury Officers responded to the emergency call as County cars were too far away to respond quickly. One of the responding Claxbury Officers was Claxbury Chief, Shaun O’Connor. O’Connor put the pieces together and had no choice in the matter. He arrested Bobby. Had there been a way, O’Connor later confided, he’d have cut Bobby loose, but the crime and subsequent apprehension were out of his jurisdiction, and the law is the law.
At trial, O’Connor testified and despite Bobby’s heroics he was sentenced to a lenient but nonetheless life-changing stay at a state institution. For post-incident heroics, Bobby quickly got parole but as you’ve heard, there were conditions of parole to be satisfied.
As Miz Maverson, Leron, and I were working to build a summer softball program, Larry Patterson was looking to expand the reach of the Clarion, and Bruno Brubaker was enhancing the Claxbury cultural scene, Bobby Martin would try to put his life back on track. His father Drew would help. So would Shaun, and really, anyone who knew the whole story of Bobby’s misadventure.
Busier than I expected to be in retirement, I began to seriously doubt the wisdom of being snookered into running for mayor. Bruno Brubaker was still looking for an understudy to Bob Cousins role in the new and improved Romeo and Juliet. Winnifred Gottlieb had not yet determined Bruno her next conquest. That scared-off every man Bruno tried to convince to understudy Bob Cousins.
With all that was piled on my plate, I started thinking it best to keep my nose in my business and let Claxbury sort itself out. My business – retired and widowed, now coaching summer softball, didn’t amount to much. It was enough though, that for a while, my mayoral run was in question.
© SP Wilcenski 2021