Daddy, Mr. Pryor & The Big Mistake (Pt. 2)

Like I said…

Like I said, locking Mr. Pryor’s utility meter shut wasn’t our smartest idea. But buying the lock at the Wide-Awake was the big mistake. How big, I didn’t really understand until the sheriff served me with a Summons to appear in Court.

“Robert, you’re being charged with a serious crime. You can have an attorney if you want one, but be in Judge Brown’s Court at 7:00 p.m. tonight. And you’d better tell your folks.”

Like I was going to do that! Mimmy might believe her boy, Bob, was a good boy, but your Papoy knew better. And, as much as my Mama fussed at all of us, it was Papoy who laid down the law. So I figured I’d keep this news to myself.

I got ahold of Jack and Ick and found out they’d been served as well. We didn’t have time to talk right then, so we agreed we’d meet early at the courthouse, come up with a smart story, and keep our parents out of it.

Just getting to the Courthouse was a Problem

So, right after supper that night, I said, all casual, “Well, I think I’ll go downtown. Same as I’d said a bunch of times without a word from my folks. But this time, your Mimmy speaks up.

“Oh, don’t go downtown tonight, Bob. Stay and listen to the radio with us.”

“Uh, what? Mama, I’d like to but I’ve got to go downtown. I promised I’d meet Jack and Ick.”

“You see Jack and Ick every night,” my Mama said, unperturbed. “You can sit home for once..”

Now, this was a pickle. I had to leave, but I couldn’t tell her why, not if I wanted to keep my skin. Part of me wondered if she knew about the court hearing, but I kind of guessed she didn’t. Knowing would have made your Mimmy mad and she never kept those feelings to herself. So I kept saying over and over that I’d like to stay home, that I’d rather stay home, that I’d stay home for every night for the next three weeks, but tonight I’d needed to leave. After ten minutes of sweating, she finally let me.

All Rise….

I drove to the courthouse as fast as I could and got there with about seven minutes to spare. Jack and Ick were mad at me being late but I think they were more scared than angry. Anyway, just as we sat on the first bench in the courtroom to try and get our stories straight, the courtroom door opens up and in walks Jack’s Dad. He doesn’t say anything but “Jack”, but we all know what that means. Jack goes and stands by his Dad. Then Ick’s Dad walks in the same door.

Well, after that, I sat by myself, on that front bench, watching everyone filter into their seats. The bailiff and court reporter, behind the judge’s bench, and other people clutching summonses in front. And Jack, and Ick, both standing by their Dads and looking pretty puny. Still, the clock’s getting pretty close to seven and I’m beginning to hope I can at least keep this from my folks. Just as the clock clicks to seven and the bailiff says”All Rise”, that back courtroom door open again and my Dad walks into the courtroom.

Well, there wasn’t any point fighting after that. Mr. Pryor testified about his power getting locked off, and the man from the power company testified about having to cut the lock. Then the sheriff talked about his investigation into the lock and the cashier said her piece. Tell you the truth, I wasn’t feeling pretty sick by then. So when the judge said, “Boys, are you sorry for all the trouble you’ve caused here tonight? “, we all answered, “Yes, Sir, we are.”

“Boys, you need to apologize to Mr. Pryor.”

“We’re sorry, Mr. Pryor./”

“Are you’re going to harass this man again?”

“No, Sir. We won’t, Mr. Pryor.”

“You boys are going to pay the Power Company back for the time their man spent cutting off your lock.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And you’re going to pay the costs associated with bringing all these people to Court tonight.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Fine. Next Case!”

And last…

I turned up the center aisle, glad the Judge hadn’t decided to throw me into jail. As I passed my Dad, he opened his hand, and quietly said “I don’t think you’re going to need the car for awhile.”

I gave him the keys.

Daddy, Mr. Pryor, and The Big Mistake

I always connected this story with the last days of Summer, when days shorten and vacation has ended. So, as autumn begins, I start one more of Daddy’s stories, the one where he finally got caught…

It was me, and Jack, and Ick Nault, one night. We were driving around town, looking for something to do. You know how it is: late night, small town, teenagers with time on their hands. Someone always finds an idea. We found ours in an alley.

There we were…

There we were, in my Dad’s car, driving down this one alley when someone points out we’re right behind Mr. Pryor’s house. We could see his back yard, and laundry line, and his utility meter at the edge near the alley. And one of us, (I don’t remember who) got the bright idea of turning off Mr. Pryor’s power at the meter. I don’t think we’d have bothered with anyone else, except, we knew Mr. Pryor wasn’t home, and he always seemed to have it in for us. Anyway, we grabbed one of the wrenches Dad always carried in the car, twisted the power off and drove on away.

I didn’t think anything about it until the next week at school, when one of my girlfriends started talking about her job at the phone company. Those were the days when people didn’t dial a number direct, they called the telephone operator and asked her to connect then. My girlfriend worked part-time as a phone operator and she said, “I got the strangest call Saturday night. Mr. Pryor called the utility company to see why his lights were off when everyone else on the street had power. Isn’t that odd?”

I tried to act real cool, but I think she guessed I had something to do with it. Anyway, we all laugh, and the joke worked so good, we decided to try it again next Saturday. But that idea wasn’t good. We barely had ducked out of sight from shutting the power off this time, when here comes old Mr. Pryor, with a wrench in his hand, to turn it back on again. That wasn’t any fun. So we decided to up the ante.

Our Big Mistake…

Now I’ll admit we’d have been smarter to quit right there, but “smart” wasn’t in our vocabulary back then. Planning was, so we made a plan. We found out when Mr. Pryor and his family would be out of town next. We packed up our tools. And we bought a combination lock. Sure enough, when the superintendent next came back from out of town, the power was locked off at his house. Cutting the lock off meant getting the utility company and the Sheriff involved which uncovered our big mistake: buying that lock at the local dime store, a place we called, “The Wide Awake”.

The Sheriff went down to The Wide Awake with what was left of our lock and showed it to the cashier. Of course, she identified it. Yes, they sold that model lock, they were the only store that did, and they’d only sold one that year. She didn’t have to look up any records to see who bought it, she remembered that very well. It was Ick Nault, and Bob Zumwalt and their buddy, Jack. She remembered because we were laughing and hee-heeing the whole time we were buying it, and we paid for the lock with change.

How do I know what the cashier said? Because she testified to it in open court! I ended up in front of a judge over this! But how I got to court is another story right there, so I’ll pick this up tomorrow night…