Dumb Idea

Paula Drake

© Copyright 2018 by Paula Drake


Photo of a hay loft.
This is a true story. Jackie and I are now seniors, but often laugh and shudder at what we did when thirteen.                                    
Jackie, dive behind the hedge, now!” I yelled plunging right behind her into the mud.
At about 3:00 a.m. sailors in a car were circling the empty four lane street yelling out the windows at us.

Come on girls; let’s have some fun!  We won’t hurt you!” they hollered over and over.

My extroverted personality needed major control at that time in my life. I had no fear and no smarts.
We got into that predicament because of my hair-brained scheme.
Jackie let’s go to the stables Friday night and sleep over in the haystack fort under the bridge.”

Oh, Diane, my mother would never let me do that,” she whined.

I know that!” I snapped. “You tell your mother you’re staying all night at my house and I’ll tell mine I’m staying at yours.  We need some summer fun.”

Gee Di it sounds scary.”

No, it sounds like an adventure!” I animatedly spun around my blonde pony tail whipping every direction.  Jackie, my opposite, timid and shy usually followed me around no matter what I dreamed up.  So two thirteen year old stupid out-for- thrills teenagers made our adventure plans.  “Nuts! The cupboards are nearly bare. What are we going to eat?  I sighed and reluctantly gathered up some tootsie rolls, dry pasta, and limp celery. “This will barely stave off starvation,” I groaned.

My bus tokens assured us of passage to the California Griffith Park area and back. I kept my colt Juneau, at the Lighthorse stables. Due to a fractured tailbone I couldn’t ride horses for a year, so I got a colt to raise and play with. I got the name Juneau because I was born in Juneau, Alaska. My father had stowed away on a liner ship to Juneau to look of work. It looks like I took after his penchant for adventure. Within a month he secured a job as editor of a local paper, and sent for my mother and brother. I was born there. 

I heard of the “Midnight Sun” periods of darkness in the summer in the northern hemispheres, so considering my colt’s rich black coat I gave her the name, Juneau of the Midnight Sun. She glistened due to my devoted grooming.

Jackie and I giggled with excitement on the bus ride to the stable area and our adventure. We hiked about four blocks to the Lighthorse stables, passing the Ride-a-While stables, a coffee shop, a honky tonk bar, and some empty lots. Lighthorse stables stored their huge hay bales under a bridge, an ideal place for teenagers to build hidden forts, our hotel accommodations for the night.
Hi, Slim,” we yelled at the skinny, scraggy, bearded stable keeper in the arena.

Girls, I’ll be closing up here by dark. Be gone by then,” Slim yelled back.

We took Juneau out and walked her around the property. Jackie was allowed to groom Buster a bay horse, so she took him out too. We spent hours enjoying the colt and horse, leading them throughout the area, pretending we were rich horse trainers.

The setting sun threatened our time with our charges. We stalled them and snuck behind the stables and climbed up into the haystack fortresses.
Keep quiet,” I whispered to Jackie using my zip the lip finger.
After Slim drove away I said, “I wonder why they don’t have someone stay here all night just for safety of the horses?
They should. But, then they’d discover our plans and boot us out,” She beamed a smug grin.
Good thinking, Jackie.”
Okay, dinner coming up, and actually it may come up after we eat it,” I cracked up laughing.  “Sorry, no silver ware or napkins just reach in the bag and eat whatever comes out.”

We sucked on the dry hard pasta, gummed the limp celery, and savored the tootsie rolls.  Boys and horses filled our conversations.   Neither of us had boyfriends I guess still being tomboys and gawky we hadn’t arrived yet. Jackie stood about 5’2”, skinny, with stringy washed out sandy blonde hair, but beautiful blue eyes that were two shades. The outer rim was dark blue and the center bright sky blue – impressive. I knew in a couple of years she’d be a knockout.
I already stood 5’9”, banana blonde hair always pulled tight back in a pony tail, and acne that started worrying me. We looked like a Mutt and Jeff comedy act.
Diane, do you think the little bathroom at the stables is open?”

Let’s go see. I wish I’d thought of a flashlight.”

We scooted over bales of itchy alfalfa feeling our way down to the bottom.  The tiny bathroom was open.
Diane, whispered Jackie. “I can’t see anything.

Well, its small enough you can’t miss the pot,” I joked.

On my turn I took a piece of the broken wall mirror off that reflected from the moon when the door was open. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a weapon.

We climbed back up to our fort.
If only we had something to put over the alfalfa; it’s so scratchy,” I complained.

Neither of us could get to sleep. The noise from the bridge overhead didn’t help.
Jackie, I’m miserable. Let’s go over to the Brandon stables and sleep in their haystack; I think there is a tarp over the alfalfa.”
That’s a long way, Diane, and it’s probably after midnight.”
As usual I got my way. We passed the honky tonk bar. I staggered tipping an imaginary bottle to my lips.  We danced a gig to the western music blaring through the big double doors. “The alcohol smell is getting to me,” I giggled and staggered some more.

We hiked around the long “L” shaped hedged bend, that surrounded a park. It would have been easier to go through the park, but with no flashlight we couldn’t see our hands in front of us.  We made it to the Brandon stables.   Once in their haystack – no tarp, it itched just like Lighthorse’s haystack.
Jackie, this is awful. Maybe the Ride-a-While stable’s bathroom is open. It’s sorta large.” On the way passed the arena I climbed up on the flat railing and lay straddled there for a few minutes. It wouldn’t have taken much to fall asleep there.

Diane, get down, and let’s try the Ride-a-While,” she begged. We plodded down to the big four lane street and started across.
Oh, trouble!” A lone car flashed their lights at us.
Jackie, dive behind the hedge, now!” I yelled plunging right behind her into the mud. The night sprinkling system was definitely working. I guessed it to be about 3:00 a.m. A bunch of sailors in the car were circling the empty four lane street yelling out the windows, obviously not drinking just sodas.

Come on girls; let’s have some fun!  We won’t hurt you!” they hollered over and over.
The hedge was about four feet high and maybe two feet wide. It went all the way down to the intersection and in the “L” bent to follow the park towards where we came from.

Jackie, I whispered, keep your head down and keep moving fast,” our knees and hands slimy with oozing mud. We could hear the sailors yelling back near where we entered.

We stopped to catch our breath. If I weren’t so scared I would have fallen over laughing.

It’s not too far from the stables now. Keep going another half a block. As soon as that street sweeper gets far enough away let’s dart across the street when no cars are in sight.”

We scurried across the wide street and up the driveway and behind a building where the bathroom was located.  The door unlocked we barged into the bathroom, shut the door, and slid to the ground our backs to the door.

That was a close one, Jackie.”

She had tears in her eyes. “Too close.”
We collapsed on a long bench - dreamland came quickly.
Bang! The door shot open. We jumped up!
What are you girls doing in here?” a hefty man shouted, a wad of keys dangling from his belt.

Oh, we came early to ride today,” I said as cool and collected as possible.

Well, hurry out of here and get going,” he ordered. “As soon as we wash our hands we’ll be out.”
 Our caked hands and faces took some scraping. Drying with a paper towel proved a new experience not to forget. My jeans could have walked without me.
Let’s go to the coffee shop for hot chocolate and then go home,” Jackie suggested.

I agreed.
On the bus ride home we weren’t as chipper as the ride over, but we did manage a few laughs.
I wouldn’t admit to Jackie, but I realized what a dumb dangerous idea I dreamed up this time.

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