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"Legend of the Moonlight Mustang"



 "Legend of the Moonlight Mustang"

Based on a true story of "Young Love, Fast Cars and...Tragedy!!!"


  Copyright 2014 Tim Beasley  

all rights reserved

If you like this, please let me know personally...I’d enjoy that! Tim Beasley 757-589-0903



This story is a fictionalized tale that is based on the true story newspaper headlines of a very real tragedy local to Roanoke, VA. This story is only  framed and filled with the  “actualities” of a popular young man dying at the wheel of his high-performance car, along with two teen-aged girl passengers, in the early AM hours of Sunday, September 12, 1971. Names are  replaced, as much of the action and characters have fictionalized actions and circumstances needed to fill a fiction story line. Therefore, the only facts are those headline details of the crash itself.

My purpose is to build a compelling and entertaining “flashback” to a time when many millions of “baby boomers” will and can relate to the activities and life of Alton Mills, the real person and central character who will be renamed “Toby Owens.”  I have inserted actual photos  of Alton and his car, the 1970 Mustang Mach 1, and some actual locations that are the historic settingings to this story to illustrate  it is based in fact, and for that purpose only.

As this is a story of “young love, fast cars and...tragedy”  (my marketing tagline for book -movie promotions), its real setting  happened over 46 years ago, so a few errors will naturally appear until corrected, making a few corrections as needed. Without  “literature - poetic license, this based on true story of the crash would be simply a “headline” of the cold, hard facts of “who, what, when and where” relating only to the infamous crash itself.

The main body of this fictional story avoids the final “headline” until the very end, as it instead tells a tale of the lives, and not the deaths, of several central characters.

In its final publicized form, only  an interested fan named Robin Bennett (who is portrayed as a youngster in his experience with the story in the opening scene) and the first responder at the tragic crash scene,  former Roanoke County Deputy Sheriff Bob Cline, names will remain unchanged, as they have agreed to such...

Bob Cline is a very important person in this, and being the first person to contact me in my quest for information to build the story upon. He has helped me immensely with his insights. He and the “main character’s” older brother, Lonnie Mills met with me in the early stages of the writing and both approved having themselves portrayed in this.  This is again a “fictionalized” story, and the other changed name characters are added as interactions.

At this point in time, Monday, Sept 12, 2016, the story is complete. Also, you’ll find if and when you do return I’m regularly also fine-tuning and editing the words to a more simple and picturesque flow, being this is the “first draft.” If you like this, please let me know personally...I’d enjoy that! Tim Beasley 757-589-0903 

Chapter 1 - “The Sad Tree”

It’s a  cool late September Saturday morning  in a quiet Roanoke County, VA neighborhood.  12 year old Robin Bennett walks down the shoulder of Hershberger Road beside  his bike, facing any oncoming traffic, while carefully looking down between the times the  few cars will pass. He’s searching the ditches for soda bottles thrown from the windows of cars, a common and careless littering, but the bottles are tough, and the ones that survive are worth 5 cents each when cashed in for deposit value. It’s 1971, and that’s not bad money then for free, as the resourceful  young man gathers up a small basketful to redeem at the Carter’s market, just up the road at the intersection with Cove Road. Pausing for a moment to retrieve another “5 cents” he’s suddenly distracted. Stopped, he looks up and  his attention is drawn down into a roadside grassy field to a large old cherry tree that has  toppled over with its roots all pulled up out of the earth. He has seen this tree before, upright, but now it has  been on its side for a couple of weeks.  The tree now has damage about it, with broken limbs, and large sections of bark chunked out...but what has caused him to really look is a lone figure of a young man, standing next to it, with his hand extended  out on its trunk, just standing there quiet and motionless. There in the morning sun, Robin also ponders what are all of the tiny little shiny things he sees glinting throughout the grass. Not bottles, he reasons, ...and resumes his walk and  back to his search.
About 50 feet off the road and laying on its side,  the tree resembles in an abstract way a wounded deer with its limbs emulating  legs and antlers. The young man standing with it  slowly caresses the trunk, in a very solemn and quiet manner as if to comfort it.  He suddenly touches something sharp and leans close to see a small metal ring like thing  is jabbed deep into the bark. His eyes grow wide with emotion as he grips the object, and with a few tugs pulls it out to realize it is a broken shard of a  “Peace Sign” medallion. His eyes well up in tears as he holds the item up and it shines in the morning sun...He recognizes it, as a girl he was in love with was wearing it the last time he saw her.......

Chapter 2 -  “The Cruisin’ Scene”

During these early 1970’s the west end of  Hershberger Road is in Roanoke County, but as soon as it crossed Cove Road, it was in Roanoke City.  It has become a busy thoroughfare for folks wanting to catch the cloverleaf ramps on the new leg of Interstate 81, which is I-581 and will take you south into downtown Roanoke or north to the Interstate. Hershberger Road is also the way to Roanoke’s  William Fleming High School.  Further down, heading due east, Hershberger becomes a business route, going past the airport, some new modern apartments known as “The Grandview” and further down still, past the popular  Crossroads Shopping Mall, so named because it sits on the acres that corner the major “crossroads”intersection of Hershberger Road and Williamson Road, which is also the well-traveled US Route 11.
With the “baby boomers”  coming of age, Williamson Road is the popular “cruising scene” for teenagers and young adults with their cars and trucks of all kinds.  The dominant breed of vehicles are the “hot rods” and “muscle-cars” that primarily the young men drive and want to show off. It’s the era of high horsepower and cheap gas, and the big dating scene, too, aside from the variety of dance clubs such as “The Thunderbird Club”  and the fast food drive-in restaurant gathering spots that populated most blocks in an eight mile or so “strip.”
Lighting up the evenings with the archetypical neon signs, burger joints and parking lots beckoning  cars and kids to congregate, it is Roanoke’s hometown answer to the famous “Sunset Strip” of Hollywood, California.  This turf is the setting for the young social phenomenon of cruising and car culture often described in the popular  tunes on the AM radio,  such as in the mid - sixties, Jan & Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve,”  the rev-up songs of “Fun Fun Fun” and “I Get Around”  of the Beach Boys and Wilson Pickett’s  “Mustang Sally.” These songs predominated in the earlier soundtracks of the cruising scenes of 60’s America, but later now in this early 70’s, the hip and “heavier” sounds of  CCR, Chicago, The Doors and Led Zeplin  blast out of ever-larger speakers in an effort to be heard above the roar of the cars. The boys and yes, sometimes girls, racing in “red light challenges” with their over the top and souped-up powerful machines are the action of the “strip” and   the  typical  “night out” that is shared coast to coast. Every American town and city, small or large, has their equivalent or own version  of California’s “Sunset Strip.” Roanoke’s is Williamson Road.

Chapter 3 - “An America Family”

It’s now the late spring of 1970 and Toby Owens at age 19 is your average young American teenage male, in an average American family..His Dad, Ray, and Mom, Sarah  live  in a modest home in a suburban neighborhood of Roanoke City, only a short distance from the beehive of traffic on Williamson Road.
Being a senior at William Fleming High School, he is well known and popular, with many friends he grew up with over those years, having also been in the Boy Scouts, and later in the ROTC. He’s also quite the “high school Romeo” and dated many of the more popular girls in his school, and also others he met and knew from the Williamson Road scene. He is graduating a year later than he would have had he not caught a terrible case of the German Measles compounded by chicken pox  in 1962  that, with complications, unfortunately caused him to miss too much attendance to pass a year of elementary school. Even so, last year at age 18 he is already registered with the US Armed Forces’ Selective Service, and has been anticipating getting called in for a physical, but to date, hasn’t been notified for any.
This spring, his older brother Pete has also just returned from his military service in the Air Force overseas. On his return with an honorable discharge, his parents welcomed him home with open arms. He and Toby resumed sharing the same upstairs bedrooms they had as youngsters in the addition built  just for them by dad Ray in the back of the house. However, as an adult, Pete is looking forward to finding his own place soon, as so does Toby, planning on his own place after graduation.
In his senior year Toby had enrolled in the “DE”  class, which was “Distributive Education” aka the Distributive Education Club of America, and his class times were reduced so he could go to work and learn about the world of merchandising and distribution. He got  a nice part-time job as part of this school curriculum working after school and sometimes Saturdays in the clerking and shipping department at the local Double Envelope factory, out in the county.
The job  was a little distant, further out on the less busy end of Williamson Road,  on Plantation Road in a commercial park.  Needing  a good car for work, and his “weekends” out, his Dad has given him the use of the family’s second car, a reliable older Ford Galaxy 500.  When Pete was younger he too,  had also driven the old Ford.  As a surprise, when Pete had  graduated in 1966,  Ray Owens got a good deal on a summer-sale at Magic City Ford and bought him a racy little yellow  ‘66 Mustang fastback brand new, as a graduation gift. Sarah had let Ray know that “her boys should have new cars” as they entered the world of work and responsibility. Pete and Toby’s Dad is a “Ford man” and it seems yellow is a favorite color, for Dad’s car is also a newer, sporty 1967 Ford Fairlane GT in a light yellow, with a shiny black naugahyde interior.
Very shortly after his own graduation in 1966,  Pete decided to join the Air Force, and so,  left the ‘66 parked in  back of the house awaiting his return.  Toby wanted to drive Pete’s great looking car very badly as his Williamson Road  “ride” during the weekends and summer of ‘68 and ‘69, but Dad refused him, and hid the keys, too, saying that car was  like  Pete’s “sweetheart car waiting for her man to return,” from his tour of duty, and a good luck charm in that effect. To keep the car in running order, Dad would take it out himself for a short ride, just  to keep the oil and lubrication in shape. When Pete returned in 1970, he  thanked his Dad by helping him build a garage in back, and Toby helped as well. To sign his contribution, Pete wrote his name in the wet cement that was the garage’s threshold.

Chapter 4 - “Graduation Celebration”

It is early June, 1970, on the Saturday night before the Sunday afternoon graduation, Toby and a few of his friends got together to celebrate by getting a bit buzzed from sneaking some whiskey shots with the older fellows who parked under the Mick or Mack grocery store sign. With a big lighted clock in its face, the sign was sort of like the ‘Times Square” of the Williamson Road cruising, and hours later  as the night grew into early Sunday morning, his friends dropped him off at  home and once in, he stumbled up the dark stairs to his room.  His brother Pete knew it was him because Toby had a peculiar habit of raking his fingernails up the rough plastered wall of the staircase, making a nasty sounding scratching noise and was repeating this tonight. Pete sat up in the dark and sternly  told Toby to “get his hind-end in the bed and quit making so much racket!”
Most times the Owens family  went to Sunday church services, but not this Sunday before the graduation. After waking late that  Sunday morning, and coming down too late for normal breakfast time, Toby sat silently at the kitchen  table. Mom said she’d make her “graduate” any breakfast he’d like.
Dad looked up from his Sunday paper and asks “What in the world kept you out till past  3 AM last night? Were you drinking or something?” cutting a stern look in Toby’s direction, then catching a glimpse of  Pete  nodding slightly.  But then Dad softened a bit, and offering a wink to replace the frown. Mom then cut Dad a disapproving glance.
Toby  muttered  “Well, just hanging out with my buddies on Williamson Road.” He was trying to hide a bit of hangover and disappointment as he thought his Dad would have “surprised” him before the graduation with a new car, like he did for Pete, or at the least something newer than the big old Galaxy. He had hinted to Pete about this, telling him about that sharp new 1970  Mustang Mach 1 he had seen sitting in the showroom of Magic City Ford...and of all things, it was a bright yellow, like his Dad’s Fairlane and Pete’s ‘66 Mustang!
The Class of 1970 graduation at William Fleming High School was a very big social event, outdoors with hundreds of excited seniors getting their diplomas that overcast Sunday. The many families in attendance formed a huge audience, celebrating this milestone of sons and daughters now becoming officially “adults” in the sense they could now go in their own directions, be it college, or entering the workforce. Toby’s Mom and Dad beamed as his name was called and he made the enthusiastic procession up to receive his diploma. Having shaken the principal’s hand, Toby let out a rebel yell of sorts and thrusted the diploma up like a marathon victor’s baton...yes, he’s proud of himself, too!
Plenty of hand shakes and back slaps later, Toby is very happy about his new freedom, to work and make more money, and is not concerned with college at this point...He figures if he doesn’t get drafted, he’ll take a year of work now, save some money, get his own place, then take time to decide...but for now, it’s “party time!” So after posing for photos in his cap and gown, he sheds them for his usual weekend night togs of khakis and a pullover shirt. Catching up again with his other grad buddies, three of them all leave in his friend Freddie’s 1967 Camaro to screech some tires and drink some more beer out on the Williamson Road strip..

Chapter 5 -  “That New Car Smell”

  Later that week, the second week of June, Toby had worked his first full-time shift at his Double Envelope job  as a High School graduate. It was Friday quitting time, and feeling a sense of accomplishment, he put his employee card in the time clock. He was glad to be heading out for the ride home. As he got into the old Ford getting ready to start it, his friend Freddie Thompson who also worked there sat parked alongside him in the  employee parking lot.  With the excitement of a Friday night of summer approaching, Freddie started his hot rod red and loud mufflerred Camaro, blipping the accelerator.
Freddie yelled across to Toby, “Hey, you coming out to cruise tonight?”
Toby shrugged and said “Maybe later...I promised Dad I’d mow the lawn before it gets too dark, see ya...”
Freddie yells back over his loud exhaust pipes, “Sure thing, boy, where ya gonna be, The Village Inn?...Lendy’s?”
Toby replied, “Don’t know yet…I might go down to Sound City on Williamson Road, you know the one, close to where Liberty Road crosses...where I was in their TV commercial last year?
Freddie shouted back, “Oh Yeah,” but you can’t get any beer there!...It’s a teeny bopper club!”
Toby yelled his answer, “I don’t care, I’ll probably just stop and have a few beers at Village Inn before I go there…I like the music, but the age limit is 20, and I want to see if some of the girls I know are there..”
“Ok, I can dig it!” ...and with that Freddie revs up and screeches out and onto Plantation Road and over the hill out of sight.
This same Friday afternoon about 3 PM, Ray and Sarah Owens are standing in the showroom of Magic City Ford. Before them is a beautiful car, the new 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1...lean and big engined, a definite muscle-car,  this is the car  Toby had told Pete about, and Pete in turn had told their Dad  about. As a salesman chats with Ray and Sarah, Ray  quipped “I sure hope he likes it!”
The salesman, all smiles, says brightly, “You bet he will! How old did you say your son was, 19? The girls are all crazy about Mustangs, especially these new 70 Mach 1s! He’s gonna have girls all over.
Ray Owens responds “Yeah, we’re a Ford family...see my ‘67 Fairlane outside...the yellow one? Bought it here new from Chuck Ramsey...know him? Oh, and, I also bought my other son Pete a ‘66 Mustang fastback from him, too...all yellow! I think it’s a lucky color, so yes, we’ll take it.”
The salesmen’s got an even  bigger smile now, and motions the couple into his office to do the paperwork.  After a bit of back and forth to the sales manager’s office, the three walk out of the office up to the car. The salesman is holding the keys, with the registration and temporary tags under his arm. He reaches out his free hand to shake Ray’s hand. Ray then opened the door, climbed in and reached out his hand  for the keys, but the salesman nervously asks to drive it out of the tight space in the showroom instead. He also needs to put the temporary tags on, and takes a few moments to do this as Ray sits impatiently behind the wheel  thumbing through the owner’s manual while Sarah just stands looking silently.
Now that the tags are on, Ray  is still sitting inside the car and asks “Can’t I drive it out?” The salesman replies, “Please, Mr. Owens, let me have the honor,... and I’ll take it around back and fill ‘er up with high test, too! Remember, it only takes premium gas!” With that, Ray gets out and the salesman slides into the driver’s seat and cranks the engine to life as a startling thunderous rumble comes out of the tail pipes. He carefully inches the Mach 1 out of the tight showroom with the big wide oval tires squeaking like big sneakers on the slick tile floor past the other cars, through the wide opened glass doors and out to the lot, disappearing behind the building to the dealers’  fill-up station.
As they wait for the car to come back, Sarah turns and looks up in Ray’s grinning eyes and says in a concerned tone “Ray, you know I want our boys to have new cars,.....but....I don’t know....about this bothers me that it’s so, so loud, like a race car...I’m going to worry...
“Don’t worry, Sarah,” said Ray...”it’s an automatic, so he won’t be apt to go too fast...besides, he’s driven my Fairlane, and it’s no slowpoke, either. Toby will be just fine.
As the Owens step out of the showroom and into the evening sun, they could hear  the Mach 1’s powerful  rumbling sound  like a herd of wild horses galloping on a hard surface coming around the building. The salesman pulls up to them, putting the car in park, and with the engine still making its deep  low thunder he steps out and ushers Ray into the driver’s high back bucket seat. He knows that Mrs. Owens will drive their Fairlane. With a “Thank you, Mr. Owens,” the salesman closes the door with a satisfying thump, and reaches in the open window and shakes Ray’s hand once more. He steps back, nods his head to Sarah, and gives Ray a big smile and  the “thumbs up” salute.
As Ray is adjusting mirrors, the seat back and  looking at the gauges,  Sarah, with her hands up near her ears, steps close and talks loudly to him to be heard above the engine, “I’ll follow you home, but don’t go too fast, Ray, let me stay close behind know how I don’t like Williamson Road traffic, especially at rush hour!”
Ray waits for her to pull up behind him in the Fairlane, as he admires the Mustang’s interior, runs his right hand over the new upholstery, the dash, the console. Sarah pulls up close behind him in the lot and waiting for a nice wide space in the traffic, they drive out together. About two blocks out, Ray glances up in the rear-view mirror at Sarah and as a naughty grins spreads across his face, he “punches” the gas and the tires squawl in protest as he launches rapidly ahead...he looks up and sees Sarah quickly falling behind, shaking her head in disapproval...Ray laughed out loud like he was suddenly a teenager himself,...”Wow!!! This baby will rocket!!!”

Chapter 6 - “Surprise!!!”

It’s now about 4 PM and  after a quick sprint down Williamson Road in the new car, Ray is standing beside it parked in the street in front of their  home. Pete’s ‘66 is parked just ahead. Hearing the Mach 1 coming in, Pete has stepped out as he’s just gotten home from work himself, and came out to also admire the Mach 1.  Ray has been planning this for only a short time, and decided at last minute to try and surprise Toby with a new car, a major gift for his graduation,  just as he did with Pete a few years before.Toby is due in shortly from work, so the timing is everything for this big surprise.
Pete knew of the surprise and is happy now that he shared Toby’s wish says excitedly, “Dad, he’s gonna flip!!! This is definitely the one he was telling me about...These Mach 1’s arsomethin’ else...wish it was mine!” 
Dad remarks ‘He’d better like it! I can’t take it back, and good thing he’s got a job, ‘cause the insurance and gas for this thing ain’t gonna be cheap!” I’ve got the car for him, but he has to pay the rest...just like I did with you!
Pete  and Dad unlock the unusual NASCAR- influenced hood locks, raise the hood and marvel at the “shaker” hood scoop that pokes up out of the hood when its closed. It feeds cold air into the engine’s big 4-barrel carburetor for better combustion. Pete jokes, “Hey Dad, this car’s  ‘hole’ has a ‘hood’ in it!” a funny play on wo. It’s a big, bright blue 351 “Cleveland” V-8 that means it has been designed with extra-horsepower goodies at Ford’s  Cleveland, Ohio engine division where the high performance engines are made special for these “muscle-cars.” It’s “high compression,” which boosts its horsepower dramatically, with forged crankshaft and other strengthening competition components  and will run only on expensive high-octane gasoline.  In other words, this “pony” is built to get up and gallop!
Sarah finally comes into sight with the Fairlane and pulls up in the driveway. Without stopping to join Pete and Ray, and without comment she goes into the house. Ray doesn’t notice her unusually tense mood as he and Pete take one more admiring walk around the car. Pete watches for  Toby and sees him in the old Ford pull up  to the stop sign just down the street and yells out to Dad and Mom, “Here he comes!” Ray calls out, “Sarah come on out, Toby’s almost here!!!”  Sarah comes out, but she’s trying to hide the concern she now has about the new car they just bought for Toby.
Toby drives close now and doesn’t believe his eyes as he immediately sees the Mach 1 and is instantly excited. Seeing Mom, Dad and Pete beside it,  he quickly pulls  in the driveway, rushing to put on the brake, turn off the engine and jumps out of the old Ford, even leaving the door swinging wide open. He is full of wonder of “what’s going on?”
“Surprise!!! Surprise!!! Surprise!!! shouts the family and Pete adds to the commotion by leaning in the Mach 1 and honking its blaring horn.  “Surprise!!!”

Chapter 7 - “Don’t Tell Your Mom”

Toby is jumping for joy! This is his dream car, and he just loves it! He hugs his Dad, punches Pete on the arm and then hugs Mom who is still a bit emotional by all of this sudden excitement. He anxiously asks Dad if he can take it out right now, even before mowing the grass, and dad says, “Sure,” the grass will be here tomorrow morning…”But, we’re all gonna take the first ride with you!” With that Ray tossed him the keys as he pulls the passenger seat forward for Sarah to get in the back, but she shakes her head and says, “No, you boys go on ahead…I’ve got to make dinner.”
Pete gets in the tight back seat and being  rather tall has to sit almost sideways with one leg across the high drive-shaft tunnel. Making it even tighter on Pete, Toby and Dad likewise being tall have to scoot their seats back almost to the furthest setting. “Hey, watch it back here!” Pete cries out  as they scrunch him in even tighter..Toby and Dad peer around at Pete and both laugh at him all folded up with his knees up to his chest.
Dad instinctively advises Toby to take it nice and easy, and please leave out nice and slow, so as not to upset Sarah, standing on the curb with her arms crossed as they drive out.
“How about you drive down Grandview to Hershberger and then we take it out on 581 towards Hollins?”  suggests Dad…that way you can get used to how it drives highway speeds…besides, we can come off at Plantation and come back down Williamson Road.” Toby thinks that’s a good plan and follows Dad’s directions.
Getting down to where Hershberger has the entry ramp to 581, Toby merges onto the interstate with a surprisingly crisp and easy speed. This car is extremely fast, and he’s not used to the gas pedal reaction that this car has. Merging further into the traffic lane he gives the pedal a firm press, as it actually squawled the tires dropping back into passing gear and the whole car roared to life, with the spirit of a wild horse leading a stampede as the acceleration literally pins all of them backwards in their seats. ‘Whoa!!!, Whoa!!!, Slow down!!! Take it easy, son!” yelled Dad, as he looked shocked at how fast they were up to well over 90 mph in only a few seconds!
“Sorry, Dad!...I didn’t know that was going to happen!...Sorry!” With his heart pounding from the scare and excitement Toby let the car ease back down to the interstate’s 65 mph cruising speed as they were suddenly already at the Plantation Road exit. He cautiously cruised the car up the exit ramp, to the stop sign. No one spoke as he took the right turn out onto Plantation Road, driving past where he worked at Double Envelope. He could envision the look on his fellow workers’ faces the next Monday when they all might see him arrive in this!
At the next red light, Toby nervously joined the evening traffic on Williamson Road, making his way back home. He could see the eyes of the other drivers staring at this very unique vehicle as they passed, some in admiration - some in envy. This car was hard to miss, and was soon going to be recognized on Williamson Road, and all the “cruisers” would also now know Toby Owens and his sharp Mach 1.
Pulling back in front of their home, and turning off the rumbling engine, Dad told Toby he was proud of him, and that’s why he got this particular car…the car he wanted. All he asked is that Toby always drive with some sense, and don’t have any tickets or accidents. Besides maybe losing his license or worse, getting hurt in a crash, both would cause his insurance to go sky high…which by the way he would now have to take care of, but not until Monday…The insurance right now was in Ray’s name. Reminding him of that, Dad said “No tickets!”
Dad, still in the passenger seat, then turned and said “Now Pete, don’t say anything about how fast Toby was going on the interstate to your Mom, OK?” Pete still scrunched up in the back seat quipped, “Sure, and don’t ever ask me to get in the back here again!” Again, Dad and Toby had a laugh as Pete squeezed back out of the tight rear seats.
Sarah stepped out on the little front porch and calls them in for dinner...Toby and Pete rush in past Mom like they’re starved, so Ray trails behind. Sarah, still on the porch catches Ray’s attention as he steps by with a grasp of his arm and has dread in her eyes...She has a mother’s feeling that car could be a big mistake.

Chapter 8 - “Can’t Wait To Solo”

Being a Friday evening tradition, Sarah had cooked Ray’s favorite meal of fried chicken, a big garden salad and corn on the cob..After they all had enjoyed some of Mom’s good home cooking, Ray got up and stretched himself, and told her that was a “mighty fine meal”...and if she was up to it, the next evening, Saturday, he’d “take her out to the Charcoal Steakhouse on Williamson Road” for dinner.  She said, that’d be nice, but “what about dinner for the boys?” Ray replied, “Sarah, honey, Pete’s a grown man, been in the service...he can feed himself, and Toby too, he’ll probably head out to to see his friends and grab a bite at the Village Inn he always does.”
Toby, hearing Dad mention the “Village Inn” was reminded that his friend Eddie was going to be out “cruising” tonight, and pardoned himself from the table. He said, “Dad, can I mow the grass first thing in the morning?...I’d like to take the Mustang out and show it to my friends.”
Dad answered “Sure, it’s getting dark....just treat it like a lady, it nice and easy for the first 1000 miles so the engine will get “broken in” good...Too much revving on a new engine is bad for the piston rings...just go easy, OK?” Boy, it is a sharp lookin’ car...there’ll  be guys wanting to race ya,” as Ray  realizes he just said the wrong thing within earshot of Sarah. “Well, I know you’re a good driver, son.”
“Sure, Dad, I promise!” answered Toby trying to conceal his excitement of driving it “solo” for the first time. Toby walked his dishes to the kitchen sink, reached over and kissed Mom on her forehead, and took big, quick strides towards the screen door. “Remember what your father said, ...and don’t stay out late” said Sarah as she watched him let the screen door spring back. As it was turning twilight, through the door’s screen she watched him start the Mustang and turn on the headlights. As he drove off in the direction of Williamson Road, and now even though he was out of sight, she could still hear the droning of that big engine waning into the distance.

Chapter 9 - “After Sundown”

The evening sun has set on another Williamson Road Friday and the night is settling in, on this first weekend after graduation. It’s now mid-June, and the warm evening air is sweet with the smells of summer. Most of the hamburger and other fast food places  have an early gathering of teenagers and young adults hanging out in the parking lots and watching the parade of hot cars cruising up and down...It’s the place to be “seen” and everyone is watching for their friends. On top of the usual heavy business traffic of a Friday night’s shopping, at Crossroads Mall and Arlan’s Dept Store, Williamson Road’s cruisers add to the hub-bub of activity. One of the popular hangouts is Lendy’s, a classic “drive-in” with the covered car port parking stalls, and the  young lady car hops that deliver food on a window tray. When the cruisers didn’t actual stop to get some food and drinks, they’d just circle through the parking lot to see... and be seen. Once the cruisers had made the round through Lendy’s that was considered the north end  “turn around” of the strip,  they’d head back south toward Hershberger Road and sometimes further south to Liberty Road or Orange Avenue, which was the far south end of the the night went on, they’d make many laps in pursuit of “good times.”
The Village Inn Pizza was a very popular place, just across the street from the Mick-or-Mack grocery store, the one with the biggest parking lot on Williamson Road and the big clock road sign. Also adjacent to the grocery was the Advance auto parts store that was popular with the cruisers as it sold the most popular “mag” wheels and tires, engine accessories and car polishes. As Mick-or-Mack would close early, as soon as it did, the “cruiser” cars would start coming in to park and literally have a tailgate party. The Village Inn Pizza had limited parking, so many of their customers would park at Mick-or-Mack and play the dangerous pedestrian game of crossing Williamson Road in the traffic. 
Toby knew some of the girls he liked best would either be at The Village Inn, or down to “Sound City,” the new teen club that he had mentioned to his friend Freddie. But first, he’d “cruise” with the traffic to Lendy’s and then back to the Village Inn as he’d probably find Freddie there. It’s a beautiful night, and lots of cruisers are out with their cars washed,  waxed and making the scene. The traffic is therefore heavy tonight, and all around there is the buzz of fast accelerations and tire screeching take-offs at the stop lights at green. Moving along relatively fast, there is suddenly a lot of braking, and slowing down as now among  this herd of hot-rods in the traffic there is a Roanoke County Sheriff’s Department patrol car. It and its Deputy Sheriff driver is  just joining in the flow heading north from the county’s  jurisdiction line of Hershberger Road.

Chapter 10 - “The Law”

Tonight the patrolling officer is a relatively  new Roanoke County Deputy Sheriff, Bob Cline. Having already served in the US Navy, now as a civilian he was recently a graduate from the police academy. He knows the area well, as he’s lived here most of his life, and also went to the local county high school, Northside, as have many of these cruisers.  This “Williamson Road, Northwest County” area has been his ‘beat” for about 6 months now, and he  is only a few years older than most of the drivers out here with him. Being in his mid twenties he was considered to be “more in tune” in dealing psychologically with the many throngs of teens and young adults who tend to get out of hand and become reckless with their fast cars on this busy roadway. Otherwise, he was on duty for any emergencies or crime alerts in his patrolling area.
In the past year of Deputy Sheriff Cline’s Roanoke County patrolling area there have been some very tragic and fatal car crashes due to high speed and reckless driving. One was back on December 19, 1969, sadly just before Christmas where a very popular young man named Joey was killed instantly when his friend Mark was speeding in his Pontiac GTO and crashed into a concrete post and a telephone pole.  Mark was severely injured and Joey had been fatally thrown from the car.
Tonight as Deputy Sheriff Cline in his patrol car and the cars around him all take off from the next stop light, they all seemed to ‘hold” their positions, and maintained a slightly lower 43 mph in this 45 mph zone, so to not attract any attention of the “county-mountie.” Oh, yes the take off itself was very subdued as well, and Deputy Sheriff Cline smiled to himself as he pictured them all being led with his patrol car being like the  pace car during a NASCAR “yellow caution flag.” He knew, though, that as soon as he turned off the road, they’d all punch it and start their tire squalling  sprints all over again.  Making his way past the usual “turn around” at Lendy’s,  he took a left turn and up the steep hill to the parking lot of the North 11 Bowling Alley. Slowly driving through the lot, he did see a few couples “parked” but nothing apparently out of hand. With his police radio crackling with reports on calls throughout the county, other patrol cars had been dispatched here or there, but nothing heavy or serious was happening on Williamson Road this Friday night.
Back down the hill to Williamson Road, turning right and heading back south, Deputy Cline was now approaching Lendy’s Drive-In on the right. It was then that he first saw the new Mustang as it pulled out a few cars ahead, bright yellow and dressed out with the exotic black rear window louvers and chrome exhaust tips jutting out from under the bumper pan. Deputy Sheriff Cline said to himself, “Hmmm...I’ve never seen that one before...looks like one of those new Mustangs...let’s get a closer look.” As he sped up passing the two cars ahead to get in behind it, it too, was also quickly accelerating, and he could hear the thump -thump -thump-of the exhausts’ bassy notes...but then suddenly its 6 brake lights came on, just before it breached the 45 mph speed limit and it slowed down to about 42 mph. Deputy Cline said to himself, “Good idea there, boy! Yeah,... you just barely saw me in time... and you know I see ya! Better keep it down under the limit now...and yes, now I know your car, but don’t know you yet. Let’s try to keep it that way!”

Chapter 11 - “Maiden Drive”

Toby’s heart was beating a bit fast as he realized he came very close to being reckless and was tempted to doing a burst of speed to show off in front of the other cruisers parked in Lendy’s ...and also right in front of the patrol car, and it could have resulted in a first traffic ticket. He had an excellent driving record at this point and would have been very sick at the thought of having to tell Dad he’d messed up, especially with Dad’s warning no more than an hour ago! He kept nervously glancing  in his rear view mirror checking the whereabouts of the patrol car and kept his car under the speed limit, looking to soon take a right into the Village Inn Pizza, and hopefully lose the patrol car.
Freddie Thompson, his friend from work, was already there at the Village Inn, parked roadside with the front of his Camaro pointing towards the traffic. With an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth, he was leaning up against its front fender and trying to act like a “hip dude” from the movies, ala James Dean. As some girls would cruise by he’d whistle and wave for them to come back, and would bellow out the names of his buddies as they passed by in this endless parade. He noticed a new car to the strip coming, yes, one he didn’t know, yet, that was Toby and his new Mustang. Toby turned in with a right signal as Freddie watched out of the corner of his eye with cool indifference. Seeing Freddie, Toby pulled up right beside him, parked and gave the engine one good-sounding rev as he turned it off. Freddie suddenly realized who was behind the wheel and dashed around to the driver’s side, giving Toby a slap on his arm hanging out on the doors window sill.
“Damn, boy! Damn! Where in Hell did you get this? Steal it? Hahhahahah!!!” yelped Freddie...
Toby shrugged and told him “When I got home, there it was! My brother Pete got his ‘66 2+2 fastback for graduating, and I didn’t know it, but he told Dad about me liking this Mach 1 down at Magic City Ford, and bam! I graduated, but thought he’d forgotten me, but I drive up, I can’t believe it!!!”
“Well, pop the top on this can of bad ass!” said Freddie motioning for Toby to raise  the hood. Toby went though the three steps of popping the main hood  latch,  and unlocking the two lock caps that both sat next to the hood’s black center-racing stripe with “351” emblazoned next to the shaker scoop,  that looked so good offsetting the bright yellow paint,
“Heeeeey!!! This is bonafide bad-ass, a real ram-air hood scoop, well,  shhhhh-eeeee-ittt!!!!” exclaimed Eddie as he ran his hand around the chopped out hood section where the “shaker” hood scoop fit through. “Have ya let her rip yet???”
Toby, trying to be modest and yet macho said, “For sure.. Dad and Pete my brother went with me before dinner out on 581 and I thought Dad was gonna crap his pants!” Boldly exaggerating, Toby said.. “We were up to about 140 when Dad froze! Ha, never seen him that scared!”
Freddie with eyes wide, snapped “Bull shit! I gotta see it to believe it...C’mon, let’s see that right now!, c’mon, let’s go!”
Realizing he was caught in a big fib, Toby wiggled out by saying “Not now, maybe sometime next week...I want to go inside and see if Janie Gilmore is here.”
Just as he was closing the hood and turning  to go in, three teenage girls  in hippy-style clothes  came out of the Village Inn. They stopped to light up a cigarette when the more brash of the three looked up and saw Toby and Freddie. Her dark eyes shone from the street lights like a cat’s does in the dark as she slowly wound herself up to go over and talk to Toby and Freddie, but especially Toby. Naturally flirtatious,  she fashioned a sly smile and swung her hip-huggers and long raven black hair a step at a time. The other two girls sheepishly followed her over.

Chapter 12 - “Friday Night Flirts”

This teenage vamp spoke cool and slow as she gazed up at Toby saying, “Hi, this your car?...Mmmm, it’s really boss!”
Freddie, misunderstanding her and wanting to wedge into the conversation blurted, “Boss???” Hell no, babe, this ain’t a “Boss 302, ,”  this is a mean Mach 1 machine, see???” as he pointed to the emblems on the Mustang’s rocker panels. “Mine’s the hot red Camaro RS!”
Toby answered, “Yeah, it’s mine, and brand new, too! Only has about 50 miles on it! ...You like it??? ”
The girl, known on the strip as “Misty” tried to act older and more experienced than her 16 years with talk peppered in hippy-slang..and tries to sound poetic. “Like it? Yeah, I guess you could say it turns me on, man...I really groove on that color,’s like the color of a full moon when it first comes up in the night sky, like a big yellow eye...teee-heee, I sound like Janis Joplin, don’t I????”
Toby is enjoying this obvious come-on and just nods in agreement.
Freddie, trying to again join in the conversation with any one of them,  asks “Did you chicks go to Woodstock last summer?”
Misty replied, “I wanted  to go...Janis Joplin was there, but my Mom said ‘No Way!!!’ You’re not going!!! I was going to hitch hike up there, but I couldn’t get any girl friends to go with me  (glancing coldly over at the other two girls). No, I didn’t go, but if we’d known you, (gazing back  up again at Toby) and you had this car we’d have....”
Interrupting, Freddie injects a sarcastic “Yeah, you’d have gotten ole Toby arrested for carryin’ ‘jail-bait!’ Hahahaahhah!!!!”
Toby surprised at Freddie’s nasty tone said, “Aw, stop it Freddie...don’t talk like that...Yeah, girl,  I’d have gone up there myself, but I had just gotten a good job last year and I’d have been fired if I did go...besides...”The Doors” weren’t gonna be there!!!
One of the other girls, tall, thin and pretty named Amber chimed in “The Doors???!!! Oh, god, Jim Morrison is so hot!!! He’s sexy!!! Sexy man!!!” and then giggled at herself in embarrassment.
Toby turned to respond to Amber, “So, you like The Doors, too?  I really like “Road House Blues” - it rocks,  I like “Light My Fire,” too, especially the long version.”...
Misty steps back in to directly flirt with Toby saying “On WROV they call it the mmm, ‘make-out song’...So, have you really, really, ummm, made out?”
Once more Freddie blurts into the talk as he winks at Amber, the obvious oldest of the three, “Ya better watch it, Toby dog..., looks like that ‘young blood” wants a piece of you!”
Toby is more interested in going inside at this time, as he hopes to find the girl he met at a friend’s wedding last year, Janie Gilmore. He tells the girls he’ll maybe catch them later at Sound City if they know where it is...”Hey Freddie, I’ll see ya later, maybe, and you girls, too, bye.”
He turns and heads towards the Village Inn door. Ruffled at Toby’s  rebuke, Misty tosses her hair, twists herself around from watching him walking away and spouts “Too bad, he missed a chance on a really hot make-out!”
With himself now all alone with the three girls, Freddie again strikes his bad boy posture as he leans on his car. Eyeing them all, he says out of the side of is mouth, “So, ...ya girls like makin’ out, huh?”
Misty mocks Freddie’s slouching posture and also his earlier remark...”Forget it, dude! Remember...we’re ‘jail-bait???”
As all three girls got one more chorus of giggles from that, Freddie tries to be a little more tactful and asked “So, where are you three ladies heading to now? Say, who wants to go ride with me in my cool Camaro?”
Amber motions towards the third girl who has been mostly silent, and says “No thanks, we’re with her, Beth, in her car.”
As they all quickly decide on checking out “Sound City” like Toby had mentioned...they knew the place and had been there before. As the girls pull out in Beth’s car, Freddie resumed his position, posing himself for the passing cars as they flash by under the streetlights.  

Chapter 13 - “A Song of the Times”

Inside the Village Inn Pizza, it’s a-buzz and crowded with young people. The air is thick with cigarette smoke - pizza smoke - even a whiff or two of pot smoke, blended in with the smells of summer sweat, “Charlie” perfume and “Brut” cologne. The walls bounce with the loud sounds of the crowd’s chatter as “Run Through The Jungle” by CCR is pounding out of the jukebox. Toby makes his way past crowded tables holding big pitchers of the popular beers, including the special 3.2 beer that was legal for 18 year-olds. He doesn’t find that girl Janie, and as he turns around he comes face to face with an older fellow named Roger, a classmate of his brother Pete that he hasn’t seen in a few years. The fellow remembers him, and is quite drunk, and staggers into him, bumping a table top and almost knocking over some other people’s drinks. Spotting an open corner table, Toby quickly shuffles the guy over to it and they sit down.
“Hey surfer boy!” says this fellow to him. “I just got back!”
Toby asked “Got back?...from where?”
“Hell, boy, back from f---ing Hell!” ...then taking a drag on his cigarette, blew a stream of smoke as he muttered “‘Nam.’”
Toby  has seen this weary look before, on a cousin’s face when he had returned from Vietnam...and now, looking much older and beaten than he should at only the age of 24... As the waitress came over, Roger barked “Bring us a pitcher of real beer, not that 3.2 piss!”
Toby, not yet old enough legally for the “real beer” as Roger ordered, had instead asked for a single glass of 3.2 beer for himself, but after it was served Roger insisted he quickly chug it down and discreetly refill from his pitcher.
The jukebox quits playing as a band of three guys with banjos and a guitar, all wearing straw hats and red and white striped vests take to a little stage in the center of the big room, that also is a raised hearth of a circular fireplace. They are a novelty Dixieland-style group the Village Inn hire just to add some ‘funk” to the evening fun. They play a few ditties as Toby talks with Roger, the tired Vietnam veteran, only about 5 years older than him. Suddenly, Roger stands up, says loudly “I want a song for me and my ‘Nam brothers”
With a 10 dollar bill raised up in his hand, Roger pushed through the crowd to now stand right in front of the middle musician. He booms out with a demanding tone of voice and  asks the guy if they know that song, “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish, made famous at Woodstock. The banjo player reached out and firmly took the ten and answered in an equally feisty tone,  “You got it buddy!”
The band started out with the song’s chorus, “And it’s 1,2,3, What are we fightin’ for?” as Roger just stood there rolling his head along with the music, his eyes closed. Toby decides it’s a good time to quietly leave.

Chapter 14 - “The Eyes and Ears of Williamson Road”

Glad to get back out in the fresh night air, Toby finds a note under his windshield wiper from Freddie that if he wants, he can catch up with him at Lendy’s. Getting up in the flow of Williamson Road traffic he decides it’s a good place for a snack so he rides back out to Lendy’s. They have a special strawberry pie he likes, and so after having to make several laps around the parking lot he finally sees an open stall under the canopy with the other cruisers. There are quite a few young people and cars he recognizes, but never having been a part of the high-performance car crowd, doesn’t know many personally...Most know the other cruisers by the cars they drive, not their names. In a few minutes a few of the parked cars drivers and passengers get out and venture over to take a look at Toby’s Mach 1.
One starts the talk by saying “Hey buddy...That’s a cool ride ya got there.” ...
Another quips,”This is the one that was at Magic City, right?”
“Is it fast, or does it just look like it?” said a challenging voice out of the group of five or six young guys leaning in to take a look. Before Toby could answer, his friend Freddie suddenly pops up in the crowd of onlookers and mouths off with, “Fast? Fast??? Damn straight it’s fast!!!”
He is acting like a “know it all,” and boasts that “once it’s broken in, it’ll eat all of your cars for breakfast!”
There is a lot of hoo-hawing going on now, as everyone wants to see under the hood. Enjoying the attention, Toby proudly raises the hood in the three steps ceremony it takes as the onlookers gather close in. Freddie is slapping defensively at the fellows leaning into the fenders and sharply telling them “Hey! Watch it with the touching! Hands off, it’s brand new!”
One fellow, that drives a white 1969 Dodge Coronet RT acts unimpressed...and smuggley says, “What’s it got…only a 351?”
Toby replies, pointing around at the numbers decals on the hood, “Yeah, guess so, it’s right here on the hood, see?”
The guy, being snide says, “Mine’s got a 440 Magnum in it....500 horsepower on pump gas!”
In the testosterone fueled parlance of young men, he was saying in effect, “Mine’s bigger than yours!”
  Toby, not being confrontational, says “That’s pretty good I guess.”
The guy starts to get a bit pushy, and comments, “You guess? There ain’t no guessing, dude, my RT would blow the doors right off of this.”
Toby, being cool and reserved said, “My guess then is I won’t be challenging you to any races...I want to keep mine nice and cherry!”
The others around cheer Toby's cool attitude.
Freddie jumps back into the topic with, “Oh, yeah? What’s that “RT” mean...rattle-trap? Billy Andrews has a 350 Chevy “Rat” in his ‘55 and it’ll stomp ole 440’s anytime!”
Just as Toby is closing the hood he sees the Roanoke County Deputy Sheriff patrol car drive up and block in Freddie’s car as the officer parks and steps out with his flashlight. The crowd and Freddie all know Deputy Sheriff Cline and know something is up and quickly disperses, leaving only Toby and Freddie facing the officer. He is motioning for Freddie Thompson to step over to the patrol car.
Freddie obliges, and shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head says, “What’s the matter, Deputy Cline???”
Deputy Cline asks for his driver’s license and after confirming it was good, asks Freddie to open his Camaro’s trunk. Freddie looks over at Toby, who has stepped over to observe what is happening. Deputy Cline firmly tells Freddie to look at him, not his friend, and for his friend to just stop right there. Toby stopped in mid step. Freddie complies, opening the small trunk. Deputy Cline is looking in, but he is also obviously sniffing at the air around it, waving his hand to create a breeze.
Overly curious, Toby asks Freddie under his breath “What’s he trying to smell?”
At that, Deputy Cline stood up, and bluntly replied  to Toby’s question. “What I’m smelling is.... burnt tire smoke!”
Freddie suddenly stiffened up,  looking frightened, and then shook it off by asking in an unbelieving tone “Uh, tire smoke?”
Deputy Cline shone the flashlight around Freddie’s Camaro’s rear tires and taking a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts paper napkin from his pocket, wiped around the wheel well. He told both Freddie and Toby, “Come here...You see this?”
As he pointed the flashlight at the napkin, and back towards the wheel well, Freddie again started looking nervous. The napkin was caked with tarry melted tire rubber.
“You were out behind McDonald’s about half an hour ago, weren’t you? ...Now, don’t you lie to me, son!!!” Tell me the truth!” said Deputy Cline in an authoritative tone.
Freddie hesitatingly said,
“Yes, er, Yes sir...and so were a lot of other cruisers, too!”
Deputy Cline shone the flashlight up at Freddie’s face...”Yeah, you were there alright, doing burnouts on their nice new parking lot asphalt...the manager saw you and called our station...said it was a red this one. Something else, I measured the width of those tire marks, and they were just about the same width, as yours, too...Lucky for you he didn’t see your license plate...because of all the smoke...Now, I didn’t witness and catch you doing it, but... let me tell you something here. You know that I know and so you better be a little more behaving, ‘cause I’m going to keep your car, tag number and especially your name on my list for any more of this sort of Tom-foolishness...You understand me, son?”
Freddie, quickly and clearly replied, “Yes, sir!”
Deputy Cline now focused the flashlight on Toby, startling him.
“Got your license on you, too, sir?” asked Deputy Cline.
Toby nervously reached his big billfold out of his back pocket and fumbled his license out. Deputy Cline looked it over, nodded his head, and said “I don’t believe we’ve ever met yet, Mr. Toby Owens...I’m Roanoke County Deputy Sheriff Bob Cline. I want you, too, to know that I’ve got my eyes and ears on things happening all around here. Is that your car, the yellow Mustang?”
Toby is starting to get really nervous, and also answers with “Yes sir!”  It just so happens that Toby’s Dad works with the Roanoke City Police Department, and he’d rather keep that low key as far as any lawmen  were concerned.
Deputy Cline lowered his flashlight and also the temperament of the moment by commenting “Nice car, new, isn’t it?”
Toby again with one reply. “Yes sir.”
Deputy Cline reminded him that he was right behind him only a few hours ago as he exited Lendy’s and noticed he started to get frisky with the acceleration. With a pause, Deputy Cline handed him back his license and again told Toby “There’s was no  excuse for excessive speed, just keep it safe.”

  Chapter 15 -  “The Magic of Moonlight”

With his hands on his hips, Deputy Cline took a long panoramic look over all of the cars in Lendy’s, and nodded his head in acknowledging that all eyes are on him. With a satisfied look, he started the dark brown Plymouth patrol car and headed south out onto Williamson Road. Freddie had waited until Deputy Sheriff Cline left Lendy’s before stepping back over to resume talking with Toby. “Hey man, what was he drilling you about? ”
Toby replied, “Oh, nothing, but I almost got caught nailing the gas after coming out of here before I saw you at Village Inn. He was a car or two back and pulled up behind me and luckily I saw his “bubblegum machine” on his roof and I backed off, just in time, whew, that was close!!!”
About that time the white 69 Dodge RT winds up and does a smoky burnout out onto Williamson Road as the crowd there cheered him on. Toby thought to himself, “Well, where’s that Deputy Sheriff now?” A few more of the cruisers come back over to talk to Toby, as well as some of the girls now...One of the prettier girls asked him what they called the color of his Mach 1...Toby didn’t know the specific name, but mentioned that hippy, gypsy like girl “Misty” at the Village Inn said it was like a full-moon, or maybe even “moonlight.”
The girl said, “That’s groovy, the “Moonlight Mustang!”
Toby surprised himself laughing out loud, and was very pleased the girl had come up with such a picturesque and mysteriously romantic nickname for his car. He indeed liked the night time himself, and since it was the right-time for cruising, the nocturnal nature of the nickname seemed almost perfect. Toby was a Mustang fanatic, ever since his brother Pete got his 1966 2+2. Coincidentally his favorite musical group “The Doors” lead singer Jim Morrison had a blue 1967 Shelby GT 500 Mustang he called “The Blue Lady.”
He knew that Morrison’s Mustang was painted with the factory name of “Night Mist Blue” and that reminded him of little “Misty” the hippy teeny-bopper he just met that evening at the Village Inn. Another thing that added to this mystique was his favorite 8-Track tape of The Doors featured a particularly haunting and bluesy rock song, “Moonlight Drive.” It gave him a strange magical feeling of being “with it.” The lyrics that seemed to suit him most were these,
“Penetrate the evenin' that the
City sleeps to hide
Let's swim out tonight, love
It's our turn to try
Parked beside the ocean
On our moonlight drive “
Seems that episode of having Deputy Sheriff Cline appearing to be interrogating him in the Lendy’s parking lot, in front of the clutch of cruisers was a sort of “passing the muster” and a ritual of acceptance. Before tonight, he mostly  knew only his classmates when he went cruising in the old Galaxy, but now, tonight  he involuntarily  became part of a much larger “cruisin’ congregation.” Yes, just as he had thought earlier, the Williamson Road cruisers would now know and recognize him and his “Moonlight Mustang.”

  Chapter 16 - “Sound City”

Leaning back in his bucket seat, Toby finished his slice of strawberry pie he ordered from the Lendy’s car hop. Feeling a little bored now, he wishes he had a pretty girl like Janie Gilmore, who he had mentioned  to Freddie,  to ride around with him in his new car to make this first Friday night of summer complete. Dialed into the local top 40 station WROV, he’s enjoying the power of his new radio as well. Throughout Lendy’s you could hear that strange reverb of multiple speakers playing the same station’s music echoing from all directions playing loudly to the point it seemed like the music was coming out of a well or a canyon. When the “Ides of March” hot song “Vehicle” came on, everyone seemed to have the same idea, and it was blasted out even louder.  A commercial or two played, with the air personality talking about the “First weekend of Summer” and the fun things going on throughout the Roanoke Valley.
The last radio commercial caught Toby’s attention as it was talking about the music going on at the teen dance club further south on Williamson Road, “Sound City.” When it had opened, right before his senior year of high school the past September of 1969, it was the new place to go. It was fashioned to look and feel like a pseudo – psychedelic Californian discotheque , with a “light show,” and sound stage for bands with a dance floor, minus the alcohol, to be “teen friendly.” Toby and many of his classmates lived relatively close, within 5 miles of Sound City, and so it became a regular hangout. The length of Williamson Road had a lot of “notorious happenings” taking place in those late 60’s  - early 70’s.
One of the club’s owners had a nephew,  in his twenties from the resort town of Virginia Beach, VA who had a band that performed as the weekend “house band” and also occasionally on the local TV station WDBJ teen dance show “Saturday Session.”  The TV show was formatted like the national ABC music show “American Bandstand” and was hosted by a cool older gentleman who had that Dick Clark touch.
One Saturday evening shortly after Sound City opened, the owners hired the TV station to produce a commercial for the club. The finished commercial for broadcast  would feature the host off-camera doing the announcer voice-work over a film of the regular crowd of teens who attended dancing and socializing.  It so happened that Toby was there as were many more teens from the area high schools, and him being rather tall and wearing his favorite bright red button up sweater, stood out in the filming footage taken that later became the broadcast spot. Earlier that evening, he had been talking to a couple of girls as the camera crew came and were setting up.
Always enjoying attention, he waited until the film crew came into the dance floor area to start taking shots of the kids dancing. Seeing his moment, he came bopping onto the dance floor all by himself, snapping fingers and trying to look cool coming straight into the view of the camera, but the cameraman turned away to keep him from “hogging the scene.” Still, Toby got in the shot he wanted and even got his waving hand into the last of the scene. As soon as it started being broadcast, he was suddenly a local “celebrity” of sorts. His red sweater that he had just gotten at Davidson’s Menswear at Crossroads Mall for school wear became for a while his personal “trademark. ”
Being he was now 19, he was almost at the maximum age of 20 to get in at Sound City, but he knew many of his girl friends from school were also 19 and quite a few younger, and it was a popular place to meet someone new, too. Pulling up in his new Mustang, he would impress a lot of girls, and have plenty of them wanting to take a ride with him, his idea of fun for sure! Since he missed finding Janie Gilmore tonight, if she’s not at Sound City either, maybe that little flirt Misty, or maybe better yet, Amber would be there.

  Chapter 17 - “Let’s Race!”

It was getting a little late as Toby drove calmly out of the Village Inn onto Williamson Road towards Sound City, but no matter where he was there were older cruisers in serious muscle-car machines like Hemi Dodge Challengers, SS Chevelles, and Pontiac GTOs roaring up next to him, looking his car over and making fist-forward gestures like “Let’s race!” At the stop lights, he would shrug them off, yelling above the cars’ rumbles saying the “engine was too new” and repeating his Dad’s wisdom, adding “I’m breaking it in nice and easy tonight.”
Being it was summer, everyone had their car windows down, and cruising easy and steady at 45 MPH, cars with two and three girls would come alongside him and try to be noticed without acting like they were. He saw some of his high school chums out in their Mom and Dad’s family cars, too, and he honked and waved at them proudly, as it reminded him of himself from the summer before.
Coming up to the stop light at Preston Avenue, Toby saw the blinking amber lights of the tow truck from Red Bird Garage pulling a metallic blue ‘68 Camaro with the passenger side caved in. The car’s damage  had big chunks of red dirt and grass stuck deep into the dents, and the windshield was all smashed out and  rattling as the tow truck  took a left across Williamson Road into their garage. Red Bird Garage had a contract with both the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Department and Roanoke City Police to pick up any wrecks and park them in his garage’s  holding lot for the insurance claims folks.  Toby thought to himself, “Man, that’s a shame, first Friday of summer ruined for somebody…hope nobody got hurt… I wonder if they were racing?”
After a few more miles and blocks with stops at red lights, Toby finally arrived as Sound City. Its parking lot was full, so trying to decide whether to go in or not, Toby double-parked with his engine idling as he looked over several girls that were waiting to go inside. He recognized one of them, Becky Wallace from school who lived not too far from Sound City and had probably walked down for the evening fun.
“Hey, Becky!” shouted Toby as he revved the engine producing a roaring echo against the building’s brick wall. “What cha’ doin’ out here?”
Becky turned to answer his call, not knowing who was trying to get her attention. As she turned around she squinted and shaded her eyes against the Mustang’s headlights to make out the driver, and excitedly exclaimed “Toby? Is that you?”
“Oh yeah, it’s me!” he replied.
Shutting the engine off, he got out and gave her a big hug...Becky was all eyes looking over the bright yellow Mach 1…She liked the new expensive looking street machines and had never seen one like this with those wild black rear window louvers. She had a cute little Chevy Corvair, and was cute as could be herself, but she didn’t drive her car tonight because she knew she’d have trouble finding a parking spot. Finally, after about 10 minutes of chatting with Becky, Toby spotted some younger teens coming out and  getting  into a station wagon to hopefully leave. He was in luck, and as they pulled out to leave he was  first in line to grab the spot as several other cars kept circling the block. Rolling up his windows and locking it up, he gave the roof a love pat, then took  a nice loving look at his new pride and joy.
Grabbing Becky around her waist, he was pleased to escort her into the loud music and energy of a house full of feverishly dancing teens.

Chapter 18 -  “Saturday Morning”

After a fun Friday night of summer, and excited about his new car, it turned into another late night. It’s impossible to drive up discreetly in such a high powered vehicle, and Toby woke his Dad and Mom both as he pulled up in front of the house. Mom couldn’t sleep and was still awake, but now sighed, and  was relieved to know he had returned OK.
Toby again was a late riser, now at 10 AM, as Dad talked loudly enough on purpose to stir him...”Grass sure is getting long, Toby!”
It was a beautiful  Saturday June morning and sparing Mom making a late breakfast, Toby gulped down a bowl of cornflakes and a glass of  juice.  As he had promised his Dad, he cranked up the law mower, and rushed to get through the chore...Every time he passed by his new car he would be extra careful to not stir up any dirt!  After working up a good pre-lunch sweat, he jumped in the shower. Getting changed into his usual fresh pressed khakis and shirt, thanks to Mom, he was also met in the  kitchen with a plate of tomato and lettuce sandwiches.
Sarah had always been devoted to the care of  her sons,  and was  a bit overprotective  of the younger Toby  his entire life. Being a good son, he thanked her, but from the frantic pace he was eating, it was evident he was  ready for a fun day of ‘cruising.’ Mom commented,
“Toby, please slow’re going to choke...don’t eat so fast!”
He was anxious to get that first 1,000 miles on the Mach 1’s engine, so he could finally  “open it up!” Just since the first evening, from the amount of circling back and forth that first Friday night he now had over 110 miles on it. Based on his normal being out and about in the old Galaxy, adding 1000 miles would take a month, but with this Mustang he drove it entirely  for pleasure, every chance he could and every mile was pleasure, no matter where he could think of to drive. So, anytime was a right time to go for a ride, and quickly add up those miles...His first stop would be at the Advance auto parts on Williamson Road to get some car finish products, wax, polishing  cloths and such. Besides, a lot of the guys with their hot-rods and muscle-cars shopped there  for some high performance parts, custom mag wheels and such.   
As soon as he piloted the Mustang out onto Williamson Road, though, his whole attitude would longer just an “all American teenager,” he now invoked a more masculine, manly figure, and intended to make sure those in traffic around him would notice that. This car didn’t have any cushy luxury about it, except for the power steering, automatic transmission and it’s Philco AM radio  with 8 track tape  player...This mechanical beast was meant and built to blast off at any take off, intimidate and snarl impatiently at every red light like the wild horse it personified. Toby had the windows down, as it didn’t have air conditioning, and had his favorite Doors tape cranking loud, “Goin’ to tha’ roadhouse and have myself a beer!”
Pulling up to the red light at Hershberger Road he had  a blue 1969 Plymouth Road Runner with three guys riding, but even with the guys looking over with a sneer, again, he restrained himself from doing anything foolish, not yet, anyway as before, the words of his Dad restrained him from stomping the accelerator on the green light. Driving with that rumbling exhaust could be intoxicating, for it kept singing to him in that hypnotizing note, trying to seduce him into committing a full throttle - high speed sprint.  Just a half mile ahead, the Advance store had a group of those street machines parked out front as some of his new cruisin’ community were jawboning about the  drag racing and night moves from that Friday night before.
Turning into the lot and finding a nice spot without cars on either side, he parked and  blipped the accelerator  one good time, as he noticed the crowd all sort of turn in reaction at the Mustang’s  wonderfully wild roar.
Walking in towards the front doors, one guy said to him, “Say, weren’t you out at Lendy’s last night?”
Toby replied, “Yeah, my “Moonlight Mustang”  wanted to go for a nice easy ride”...
One older  fellow leaning against a jacked-up in the rear Black  ‘68 Chevy Nova SS 396 laughed, saying “Easy ride??? OK, ‘Captain America,’ that car’s not an ‘Easy Rider,’ man, it’s made for bustin’ loose! How fast will it go?”
Toby, not ready to answer, said smugly, “Don’t know yet...but I’m goin’ to, soon!” He realized another Williamson Road cruiser noticed his Mach 1  was a different cut of muscle-car.
“Easy Rider” was a strange coincidental comment, as tonight however, romance was on his mind. He had met a new girl, Wanda,  at Sound City, and he had scored a date for that  summer night at the Trail Drive-In movie, far out on Rt. 460. What was coincidental was it was a double-feature of the popular biker action films, the new “CC & Company” with Joe Namath and Ann Margret, and the past hit from a year before, “Easy Rider.”

Chapter 19 -  “Drive-In Movies, and Murder, too”

After leaving the Advance store with a nice bag full of washes and waxes,  he cruised a few hours throughout the valley, out to Lakeside Lendy’s, down into Salem, Glenvar and back. Yes, he was enjoying racking up the mileage this day, and keeping notice of the odometer, saw he’d now logged over 250 miles in just two days. It was now later, about 7:30 pm  and the sun was beginning to set low in the sky. Stopping to fill up with the super high test 104 octane gas at the Penney’s Auto  Shop at Crossroads Mall, he also used the pay phone to call Wanda. Wanda, who lived in  a trailer park off of Williamson Road, didn’t want him stopping there to pick her up. He was pleased he didn’t have to go in and meet her parents. She told him she’d be standing out at the convenience store on Williamson Road down near Brookside Golf and to just pick her up there.
Toby thought she looked  like a “California surfer girl,”  wearing a loose fitting blouse tied at the belly like “Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island,”  without a bra, and a pair of Levis’ white jean shorts that showed off her young tanned legs.  Stopping at the store, as she jumped in, he jumped out, taking  the opportunity to step into the store and buy some “Saturday night” supplies. Wheeling back up Williamson Road in a quick  tire squeal, he was pleased with himself, as she giggled and reached over touching him. Past the crowds gathering as usual at Lendy’s, he gave a few blasts of the horn, as hands waved back in new found  recognition.
As they motored happily along, chatting and flirting, they were heading  south down Williamson Road as the  news about the “Manson murders trial” played on his radio. The infamous “Manson Murders” in Los Angeles  had taken place only the summer before, on August 9, 1969, and now the Manson murder trials were ready to begin in the next few days on June 15. He asked Wanda if she knew anything about that.
Wanda told Toby, “My mom was scared terribly, thinking there could be another bunch of murdering acid-heads like out in California. She wouldn’t let me go anywhere until they caught that little creep Charles Manson. My step-dad  gave me a knife and I always carry  it in my bag.....See?”... as she pulled it out, a pearl-handled stiletto! Toby aped with bug-eyed fear and they both burst out laughing...
After a few more miles, taking  a left turn onto US  460 East, they had about another 7 miles to go out in the direction of the rural locality known as Bonsack. The Trail Drive-In movie was actually built on an old farm meadow, and still had the deserted windmill standing in silhouette against the sunset.  Waiting, they were soon driving slowly up  to the ticket window. Toby carefully pulled though the graveled drives and into a spot, ideally located in the rear of the lot, for  a bit of date night privacy... This date possibly could go  “all the way” and was in his mind as he’d bought some condoms and two six-packs of the 3.2 beer, not knowing Wanda  had brought something much better to relax with.

Chapter 20 - “Apple Pie and the Fourth of July”

As the days of the summer calendar kept flying by, as they always seem to do in the love and blush of summer, it was now July. The biggest event for summer in the Roanoke Valley was always the big Fourth of July fireworks display at the Lakeside Amusement Park. It had always been a popular destination in Southwest Virginia since the 1930’s,  and it seemed the crowds got bigger and bigger every year for this. With the burgeoning traffic, and massive crowds, you almost had to commit to going to Lakeside for the entire day, as many families did. They would arrive early with picnic baskets in hand and make their claim on a special place to watch the fireworks later that evening, normally about 9:00 PM. The rest of the day was filled with the riding of the thriller  “Shooting Star,” touted as the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster, and the Ferris wheel and other types of amusement rides, plus their own “midway” of games, food spots and also concerts on big open stages.
Toby didn’t want to tie up his entire Fourth of July there, but had a plan to not only to be close enough to see the fireworks, but also be outside the huge overflowing parking lot. The perfect place to do both was at the Lendy’s Drive-In Restaurant Lakeside location, near Salem,  just across East Main Street from the park, and was also a popular “satellite” cruising spot when things got “slow” on Williamson Road.
But this holiday started at home, and after a big slice of apple pie and some home grilled burgers in the backyard of their house,  he was again eager to get out and enjoy himself with the Mustang. Mom had hoped he’d stay home with the family that evening, but now knew she  had an unbeatable rival in having time with her son.  She was a bit saddened that Toby and Pete both would possibly soon be leaving home.
Over on Tinker Creek Lane was the Ole Monterey Golf Club, and it also had a swimming pool for its members and he was invited as a guest of Shelia,  an 18 year old girl he knew from his graduating class to go swimming there.  He showed off some “cannonball” dives that were making enough of a splash that the lifeguard called him out. Toby was enjoying being a rascal, today, but not to the point of being asked to leave. Figuring he’d just stretch out on his towel, he’d watch Shelia and the other girls walk by in their bikinis. He dried his hair with another  towel and it was all fluffed up. The front of his longer dark blonde hair was very blonde from a spray lightener he had been putting in his hair for several years, and gave him a “Surfer” look. In fact, when he was a Sophomore at William Fleming High, he was nick-named “Surfer Boy” by some of the older Juniors and Seniors.  That was an effect Toby had wanted, because he envisioned one day leaving for California to live the “Venice Beach” lifestyle like his idols, Jim Morrison and also the Beach Boys.
There was another thing playing on his mind today, and it was the mileage point that he had had been looking for, as he had just turned 1,135 miles on the “Moonlight Mustang.”  As his Dad and brother Pete suggested, earlier that week he bought some high performance engine oil and filter and changed  out the “break-in oil” and filter. The car was now, ready for some real running. Finally at about 4 PM and having enough fun in the sun, he asked his little “surfer girl” if she wanted to go riding for a short spell.
“For sure!” she cried out...”I don’t have to be home for a few more hours...Let me get changed!”  As she came out to find Toby sitting and playing some tunes on the 8 track,  she tossed her bag of towels and swimsuit into the backseat.
Toby, being cheeky, said, “Darn! You should have worn your bikini, then slipped out of it and we’d go “moon” the cruisers at Lendy’s Williamson Road! Think you can get out later for going with me over to the Lendy’s at Lakeside for the fireworks?”
The girl, twisting her damp hair with her finger said, “No, my folks want me to go over to my married sister’s house for a get together tonight...I told them I would.”
Toby said “OK” no problem! Let’s just go over to “Lendy’s Williamson Road. With  that, he screeched out of the parking lot creating a cloud of dust and kicked gravel and sped down the little twisting driveway of the club. Shelia looked alarmed and said “Hey, be careful!”
Toby, not liking her criticism said, “Don’t worry, I know how to handle it.”
Cruising into the Lendy’s lot, he has a lot of attention, as he’s been doing this route just about every night since he got the car. Hands wave out the windows and he hears the words “Moonlight!” as the car has come to be known. He loped along at a  5 mph crawl. He sees the smart mouth guy with the white 69 Dodge RT he met that first night out in the Mustang shaking his head in a smart-aleck “no-no” fashion. Passing by, the fellow bellows out “Moonlight? What the Hell? That’s not a name for a car, sounds like a sissy perfume to me! Moonlight, shit!”
Toby was never one to take taunting easy. Although he portrayed a cool exterior, inside  he  had a quick temper and had been in several rough fistfights over  the years. Any serious  teasing made his neck and face turn dark red in anger, and he’d lash out in fury. Coming back around the last car stall, he saw the wiseguy with a few of his friends making “wheelie” motions, pointing and laughing at him and the car. Toby’s heart started beating loudly in his ears. Coming to a complete stop, he was gritting his teeth as he pushed his left foot on the brake, and also pushing the gas, revved the engine to a higher wine that he ever had at that point. The rear tires were  instantly spinning themselves into great clouds of screaming white smoke as the car suddenly bites into the road and literally jumped like a shot out of a cannon about 200 feet in an blinding instant, as he barely had time to stomp the brakes  before he collided with the end wall of the parking lot.
The Lendy’s crowd went wild with cheers, whistles and car honks as Toby had just performed one of the most spectacular “burnouts” in recent cruisers’ memory...”Mr. Smart Mouth’s” reaction is smug, yelling out  “Hey, what’s that thing got in it, a four-banger? Hahahah!!!!”
One of his sidekicks spits out ‘“What’s tha matter, forgot your training wheels?”
Toby could feel his eyes burning in anger, as he notices the place’s manager step out to see what the ruckus was all about. He slowly drives out the back lane and circles out towards Williamson Road while the manager, with his back turned, is standing over where Toby did the burnout, and is distracted while pointing down at the burnt tire marks... Most of the cruisers will be cool, and not blab on him. 
Shelia, his passenger though,  is still quite in shock, and  suddenly gets tearful and screams at him, “Are you crazy??? You could have gotten us killed!” and  shouts at him to take her back to the pool...All the way back there for about the total  five miles Shelia never said another word, grabbed her clothes bag and towel and getting out slammed the door.  As she stomped back through the pool’s gate, he pulled over to the far end of the parking lot, and quickly examined his tires....oh, yeah, there was burned rubber alright. Remembering that trouble his buddy Freddie almost had with Deputy Cline, he opened the trunk to find it did indeed smell from the tire smoke being  pumped out of the scalding tires. He took one of his new polishing cloths out, and sure enough, rubbing around both rear wheel wells, the cloth turned dark brown and tarry from cinders off the melted tires. As it was, he had also just burned up quite a bit of his rear tires’ life! 
He wasn’t worried about Shelia telling her parents because he knew teenage girls seldom told their parents about the shenanigans they had on their time away from home. One thing he did discover though, he now realized the car had never been able to show him its true personality or performance power,  as it responded only as he had previously tried with limitations...This Fourth of July, he would  go to Lendy’s Lakeside, and he compared his first exciting and daring stunt with the ‘Moonlight Mustang” as riding his own “skyrocket.”

Chapter 21 - “Rolling Start Drag Race”

Instead of circling back down Williamson Road, he didn’t care to pass by Lendy’s again, as he thought he’d better lay low from there for a few days. Since he was right there close to intersecting with Peters Creek Road, taking it would bring him down the backside of the airport, and  straight down to Melrose Ave.   This neck of the woods was the Northside High School area, but also Roanoke County  and he knew the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Department drove those boxy old brown and white Plymouths and was quick to recognize them.
Motoring on down to the Melrose Ave intersection, there was a landmark building right in a small odd-shaped median area. It was formerly a gas station garage, and now open as a Volkswagen specialty repair shop, with a bright orange VW Beetle perched up on a pole over its flat roof! Chuckling always at that sight, Toby looked over to another unusual building patterned after and named for the famous Brown Derby restaurant of Hollywood.  Melrose Ave West was a nice wide 4-lane thoroughfare with no red lights until you came down to where Electric Road, named for the big GE factory, intersected and that was were Lakeside Park was the big property on the left, and Lendy’s Lakeside was on the right.
As he swung the right  “Yield” lane onto Melrose, a sharp looking black  ‘63 Chevy Impala SS jacked up high all around with wide Cragar mags came up on him in the left lane with a lot of  cramming gears and tire squalling as it down shifted and up-shifted, sort of challenging him for what was commonly called a “rolling 25 mph kick” start, for a short distance  drag race. This type of drag racing helped prevent driveshaft U-joints and axles from breaking from the shock of applying instant brute torque from a dead stop. The fellow driving the Chevy was on Toby’s driver side as they both slowed down to match each others front bumper lineup...It was customary for both to yell out, “1,2,3!!!” with “3” being the count to stomp the gas from a “first to second gear” rev jam.  At “3” Toby jumped down on the gas like he was stomping a snake. Instantly  the rear end of his Mustang started fishtailing  and he almost side-swiped the Chevy that had to almost go onto the shoulder of the road to avoid a crash. But it only happened for a second, as the Mustang straightened and bolted ahead of the Chevy by about three car lengths. Fueled by the adrenaline, Toby was winning this little 10 second race  by sheer power, and sheer nerve.
As they both slowed back down to about 45 mph  from the exciting 95 mph sprint, the Chevy blinked its lights and pulled back up alongside him. Its driver yelled, “Pull over at the Pilot Gas,” which was on the right just before the red light at Electric Road.
Toby, generally not an aggressive sort, thought the driver might be looking for trouble, but figured if there was any kind of problem he could face this guy down. As the Chevy pulled around in front of him to park he noticed it had very wide tires on the back, and it was jacked up high so that the  tires didn’t hit the wheel wheels.
The guy got out, but instead of being menacing with a mad scowl was actually laughing and smiling at Toby as he walked up. Toby still had his engine running as the guy said “Wow! This thing runs mighty fine!”.
Sensing the guy was just being a normal fellow like himself, he shut off the engine and got out, saying, “Yeah, thanks! I’ve never had a race with it yet....until just now with you...Sorry about that sliding sideways at the takeoff!”
The guy said, ‘Hey, no problem...what’s wrong is you’ve got stock equipment wide ovals on this thing’s rear and they just can’t handle the traction on take off!”
Toby was very aware of that fish-tailing reaction as he’d seen it happen many times to other guys ahead of him as they’d either drag race  from the stop light, or the rolling start, as they had just committed.
“I’m from around here?” asked the Chevy guy.
“Well, yeah, over off Williamson Road near Crossroads Mall...I just don’t come out this way as much” answered Toby.
The fellow was a talker and came on with a barrage of questions, “I’ve never seen this Mustang, a ‘Mach 1,’ huh? New, too, looks like. Had it long? Man, this thing’s got some take off power...I’ve got a 327 that’s been bored out a bit, with 2 fours on it...It’s pretty darn fast! So, I’m surprised how much you  jumped ahead on me! What ya got, a Hurst 4 speed?”
“No, just the factory automatic...but I think it’s got a special high performance transmission and motor, geared low for bottom end power take offs.” replied Toby. “I’ve been babying it for almost a month now, since new, and just changed the oil at its first 1,000 miles this week to clean out the break-in oil.” 
“That’s smart!” said Jerry...”You going to Lakeside?”
Toby answered “No, not Lakeside, but I’m going to hang out at Lendy’s to see their  fireworks from there and  then when they’re over, I’m going to book it quick back towards home before that flood of cars comes out at Lakeside.”
“That’s a good idea!” said Jerry..”I’ll probably see ya there later”...

Chapter 21 - “...And the Rocket’s Red Glare”

It was now about 7 pm as the traffic around Lakeside had begun to get heavy as folks came from all over the city and county to be there for the fireworks at 9 pm. Toby  again had to circle this Lendy’s lot about 5 times before he found an open stall. Here, like at Lendy’s Williamson Road, he and the “Moonlight Mustang” were getting stares, both admiringly and jealously. After ordering up a KFC dinner, he just sat back and enjoyed his meal from the window tray as he listened to WROV while he watched the looping roll around of more cars full of boys and girls out for a summer night of fun.
Playing music from the “golden oldies” between the latest top 40’s WROV seasoned the program with patriotic sounding rock n’ roll tunes like The Beach Boys “Surfin’ USA”  and The Guess Who’s “American Woman.” As a Plymouth Fury pulled out of the stall beside him, three girls in a Buick Special convertible pulled back into it and they were all singing happily along with Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” and laughing hysterically! Toby smelled a bit of pot smoke wafting out of the car and took an immediate interest.
Getting their attention with a wave, he asked “Hello young ladies, which one of you has the pot?” 
Suddenly the girls all got very quiet, but the one girl riding in the back tried hard to stifle a snorting cackle. Toby laughed out loud, saying, Hey girls, no, I’m not a narc, for Heaven’s sake!...I just wanted to know if you’d share a hit on that “doobie” with me!”
The driver looked around over her shoulder  and back again as she reached down and  passed  a  smoldering joint to the other girl up front, who also looking both ways reached the joint over to him.
Taking a few good hits, Toby held the last “toke”  in as he passed it back over, letting  a satisfied breath out, with a “Thanks!”
The girl in the back seat asked  “Hey man, got any beer?”
He remembered he had two cans left in the trunk in a cooler from the night before....”Sure do!” Only cost ya a kiss or two!” With that he got out and discreetly held one of the two cans close to his body, showing the girl.
The girl laughed and said, “We gave you a toke, jerk!”
He smarted back, “Yeah, guess ya did.... want it back?” Before the girl could react he reached over and gave her a big mouth kiss as he dropped the can over into the back seat.
The girl struggled just for effect, and said, “Now we want both cans!” 
Toby said, “Sure thing, hot stuff!” as he stepped up and over the rear side  into the back seat without using the passenger door. Sitting there getting to know these new girls, he was glad he came out towards Salem. Seems all three were graduated class of ‘70 Glenvar High School, west of Salem, and this was their “cruising scene.”
There were more cars doing the “Lendy’s  loop”  now as the time was getting closer to the fireworks...Quite a few had gotten out of their cars and walked out in front of Lendy’s where Main Street was.  Toby and his new lady friends, Alice, Betty and Libby were having a great time getting to know each other, and joined the crowd...

Chapter  - 22 “Summer Fades”

September came much too soon, although it had been a grand summer, and Toby is quite the Williamson Road “cruiser” now. His full -time job has helped him financially in a big way, but he has spent the past few months spending it as fast as he made it. Dad had asked him if he was thinking of college, but Toby shrugged, and said he was in no hurry to change his life at the present.  Pete was hoping to be out on  his own at this time, but finding the job he wanted was a bit rough, so he took what he could find, but unlike Toby, he felt he still needed “decompressing” from being around the world in the Air Force those past few years.  Both  also liked the comfort Mom would always generously provide. She was in no hurry for Ray and her to become “empty-nesters,” and enjoyed having her two sons still close.
During the summer Toby had quite a few escapades with the Mustang, and had gotten only one traffic  ticket. While in Roanoke out on Franklin Road he was clocked doing 60 mph in a 45 mph zone, but it was a simple speed violation, and not a reckless driving charge like it could have been in a school zone or 20 mph over the limit. Since he now had his own insurance, Dad was unaware of any problems, as the Roanoke City patrolman didn’t recognize the Owens name,  and Toby paid the fine and court costs. 
His friend Freddie had a very close call, in August when he was speeding himself, and crashed into a guard rail on the Roanoke Salem Turnpike, swerving to miss a truck that pulled out too quickly in front of him. The wreck, which could have been far worse,  had messed up the Camaro’s front fender, hood  and bumper. He never reported the crash, for fear of being fined for the street damages, and simply drove away,  later repairing the body  damages himself with cheap junk yard parts, so now it sported a black primered  front fender and hood, looking more like a dirt track racer than a fine street machine.
At this time of late summer Toby was discovering  his Mustang Mach 1 was something of a strange and somewhat unusual factory edition...Taking his Dad’s advice, he had babied it for the first month, but now it seemed it was capable of extraordinary speed. When put to the task, it  performed much stronger than the average Mustang with a 351 Cleveland engine, and was quite the muscle-car without all of the add-on plumbing like high-rise manifolds, dual quad carburators, header exhausts and fact, the “Moonlight Mustang” soon became the “car to beat” at the cruiser’s circle,  and he was constantly being challenged to race by ever more menacing machines.
His first full drag race came late on a Saturday night in early August, as Lendy’s was getting ready to close. The race was prompted by dares from a couple of guys from Byrd High School who pulled into Lendy’s in a gold 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400. The driver and its passenger  were sure Toby’s  “little 351” was no match for their 400 cubic inches of Poncho engine under their hood. Getting a lot of attention, the word spread quickly that Toby was going to race against the Firebird, taking off right in front of Lendy’s, all the way down to McDonald’s, and Arlan’s parking lot line, about a quarter of a mile. A crowd quickly assembled as he and the other guy waited for the “clear signal” for both to come out and line up right at the Lendy’s entrance - exit, and to pull up side by side  on Williamson Road. One carload of excited spectators had already driven down to where the Arlan’s parking lot ended, to watch out for any on-coming traffic, especially Deputy Sheriff Cline’s patrol car, and the “signal” that everything was clear to race was three blinks of their headlights. This was a regular occurrence on Williamson Road in the early morning hours after most of the traffic had thinned.
As most of the traffic had indeed become sparse at this “witching hour,” just after midnight,  they soon got the signal to assume the starting line. Toby was very nervous, but he loved the way his heart pounded with excitement at the thought of going full blast in an actual race...not for money, but just for the glory. Before then, about half of the cars had already driven down to join in watching at the McDonald’s - Arlan’s “finish line.”
Being Toby  was the one challenged, he got the choice of which lane he wanted....Williamson Road was  4-laned , and as he thought about it, he decided he’d take the inside lane, the one closest to the center.  He edged out into that spot that lined up perfectly with the Lendy’s property line, and the Firebird pulled up, revving and lurching, a foot at a time, till the “lineup guy”” deemed them equal on the same line. Watching “Stick” as the lineup guy was known, raise his arms, they both started revving up to a high rpm, to “launch.” “Stick” threw his arms down and  suddenly both cars were screaming down the first side by side, it was only a matter of the Mustangs’ fantastic transmission shift to bullet ahead of the Firebird by two car lengths. As they approached the finish line, another fellow waved a white T -shirt to signify Toby as the winner, by 3 car lengths!!!
Having won that race, he was now, without a doubt, moving up in the society of the road rebels, and just like in a miniature ‘Victory Circle”, beer was sprayed, joints were toked and back slaps were a salute. Plus, he got to kiss several very willing  older girls. One of them was about 22 years old, known as “Wild Child” and she looked like a California Go-Go girl with a  big puff of teased blonde hair and wearing a leather miniskirt. After the crowds thinned out,  it was about 1 AM, so being pretty buzzed, “Wild Child” took him out for a little ride in her car down to the dark Barn Dinner Theater parking lot, and she gave him a little “show” of her own!
From that weekend, Toby was again challenged several more times to see if his “Moonlight Mustang” could live up to its ever-growing reputation as a one-of-a-kind  Mustang. After soundly outracing a Plymouth Barracuda, another Mustang Boss 302, and a few Chevy Novas, he had heard several of the older “gear-heads” discussing what made this Mustang such a performer. It was considered that in every assembly line, a “charmed” vehicle would be put together, maybe only one in every couple of thousand, that somehow had that “magic” to outrun the rest of the pack, just a strange bit of luck of being put together with the right parts at the right time...after all, the window sticker said it was assembled in Dearborn, Michigan, the home of Ford Motor Company itself.
Adding to this aura of luck and mystique,  one day when Toby was cleaning the Mustang, he pulled  up the mat in the trunk for the first time and found a 1964 Kennedy half-dollar face up sitting squarely in the center of the trunk floor. Curious, he fathomed that an assembly worker must have had it in a shirt pocket, and it rolled out or was dropped in while the mat was being installed. Oddly, the first Mustangs and the first Kennedy half dollars both premiered in 1964, so he got his Dad’s drill and put a hole in the big coin’s rim, close to the top, to become a “good luck charm” key ring fob...
As the summer faded away, so did most of everyone’s every night cruising, usually saved for Friday and Saturday evenings. As September came along, the big news was Jimi Hendrix’s death at age 27, and then only about two weeks later, on Oct 4, 1970, Janis Joplin was also found dead, again, at the age of only 27.    
  Toby thought about the flirtatious little “Misty” girl he’d met outside the Village Inn that was a big fan of Janis Joplin’s. However, a bit closer to home, while maybe not world news, on this very same Oct 4th, the biggest news in their corner of Roanoke was that the famous and hugely popular stock car racing legend of the early days of NASCAR, Curtis Turner, from Roanoke, was killed when his plane crashed, killing him and his passenger up in Pennsylvania.
Curtis Turner was also known as the famous “Babe Ruth” of stock car racing and just happened to live in Roanoke. His family and fans held a big funeral for him and he was buried over at the beautiful Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, right off of the airport road.
Curtis had several teen-aged children around Toby and Pete’s age as well, that attended the neighboring Northside High School.  Toby’s Dad Ray was a big Curtis Turner fan and took the news of his death fact, he was  proud that for most of his racing career, Curtis drove mostly Fords to his many track wins.   Ray Owens had met Curtis before as he worked security for the early stock car races held at Victory Stadium, and by coincidence, his wife Sarah’s guy cousins knew Curtis and they met at their house while he visited the brothers.
The following months from fall through  winter Toby’s nights-out cruising were less of an occurrence, and his Mom was relieved to have him around more as the  bad weather  closer to home. He devoted to himself to his job, and was saving up for his future, and looking so forward to the return of spring and summer. 1971 came in  with little fanfare.

Chapter 23 - “The Ides of March”

Not much had happened in the Owens household that past winter..Toby and Pete both were working their jobs and trying to be as “small” as they could be in the daily lives of their parents, as they pondered their futures. Dad and Mom made no demands of them, other than  them adding some money in for the family groceries. Pete had considered returning back to Jacksonville FL, where he was last stationed, but that would require quite a bit of living cash as a reserve, and as an alternate and perhaps better plan was to save up enough to add into a VA loan for his own home there in Roanoke.
Toby was still out socially at night on weekends, and would be seen either out to Sound City, or maybe taking a date out for a movie, but he didn’t have a main girlfriend and was happy to just be a guy ready to go “party” at any moment. The Village Inn Pizza was still  a favorite place for hanging out with friends, too, as it was always crowded and buzzing with fun, and beer!  It was on a March night that “Wild Child,” the young woman he had a “quickie” encounter with that summer, just happened to be there with another older girl. She waved at him, to join them.  “Wild Child” was actually an airline stewardess named Susan and she and her friend both worked for a national airline. In fact, she was originally from Tennessee and had moved to Roanoke the year before, as this was now her job’s “home.” Toby didn’t know it, but Susan and the other girl shared an apartment just down Hildebrand Avenue,  the  street  that began right across Williamson Road from the Village Inn, and no more than a few blocks away. Toby was very attracted to her, and saw her regularly out and about, most times with some older men. She was rumored to be sort of “loose” and he didn’t want  his friends to see him with her for that reason.
He had hoped however,  that maybe Susan would have a better place the three could go, where he wouldn’t run across anybody he knew. Acting with a bit of cunning, he complained that the Village Inn didn’t have a dance floor...”I wanna do some dancin’ ...Do you like to dance?” he asked...
”Yeah, that’s an idea, where can we go?”asked Susan. There was a place the older crowd hung out, a restaurant - bar called “The Harvest House” further down  route North 11 in the county just past where Plantation Road crossed Williamson Road. He knew they had a jukebox and a small dance floor of sorts, and he figured he could pass as old enough for “real” beer without a card  in the company of the two foxy ladies...Suggesting they  ride with him they all left out. 
This “Harvest House’  was an older place, and had a varied and colorful history. One of its dark chapters had recently happened in the prior October. Deputy Sheriff Cline had been called there late one night after the place had closed, on an emergency call that a man was seen brandishing a pistol out in the parking lot. On his arrival, some witnesses said they’d heard a shot from behind the building but were too frightened to check it out. With his service revolver drawn, Deputy Sheriff Cline called out loud for anyone back there to show themselves...on several more of these calls, there was no response. Having to check the night scene he shone his flashlight from a secure corner of the building and saw a crumpled over figure laying face down on the ground under a tree. Using caution, he was dismayed to find it was a man who shot himself in the head, a suicide.
On the way to the Harvest House, Toby neglected to drive through Lendy’s as he normally would and his friends noted that as they honked at his passing by...Getting there, he could only find a spot to park far down in the muddy end of its parking lot,  but backed up to let the girls out at the door on the solid part of the lot. Peeved  that his tires were now all muddy, he decided, it’d be worth it if  Susan or the other  girl gave him some “TLC.” Going in, the place was dark, noisy and full of smoke with businessmen still in their suits leaning  at the bar and watching the door for any single women walking in. Unfortunately for Toby, one big older fellow spotted Susan and immediately started flirting with her. The guy apparently knew her and decided to move in on Toby’s action.
Toby and the other girl, Maria, went over to a small table and sat, as Susan kept laughing out loud at whatever the older fellow was spouting... Ordering a round of three beers, one each,  Toby waited for Susan to come back and join him and Maria, but it looked like Susan didn’t even remember he and she were even in the room any longer. Even though they just met less than  an hour ago, Maria could tell Toby was acting huffy, from the snub he was getting from Susan, and she suggested he get that silent jukebox going in an effort to distract him. Toby didn’t ask, and yet Martha offered that she ‘wasn’t in the mood to dance.’  He got up,  looked over the song list, dropped 2 quarters in. Instead of choosing 2  favorite dance tunes, he chose ‘Temptation Eyes” and “Black Magic Woman.”  Then the ten minutes turned into 30 minutes, and then into 45 minutes as Toby had four  more beers,  and finally in Susan’s blatant absence, he grabbed and chugged hers down, too. Maria didn’t say much as he walked over to tell Susan he was ready to leave...
“That’s OK, I want to stay, so you just go on...Maria and I can get back to my car with this guy and his friend,” as another guy at the bar nodded, and gave him a snotty “adios” gesture.
Toby was not in  the habit of being “out-dogged” when it came to the girls, even if they were just meaningless little escapades, but it incensed him none the less. He had just guzzled 6 beers  in less than an hour and got surprisingly buzzed off of them..When he stomped out to  get to his car he had to sidestep the mud to get in. Already mad, he started cussing horribly when he saw the mud all over his nice tires and being extremely ticked off, drove over into the deeper mud, and came  out with a spinning doughnut slide, slinging mud all over the other cars in the lot. He stopped for a moment and looked over the splattered lot with satisfaction as he revved up “Moonlight”and burned a muddy trail out onto Route 11.
Pulling into the nearby  “American Pride” car wash, he spent another dollar jet-spraying the car down, and with his 8- track blasting out “Bad Moon Rising” he again, ripped out onto Williamson Road in mad abandon. He was very upset, more so than he should have been, but the beer fueled his aggression. He went hunting for someway to vent his rage.

Chapter 24 - “Showdown, Throw-down”

Toby was flying up Williamson Road, and if he’d been caught by Deputy Sheriff Cline or any other patrol car he’d have probably been arrested for DUI, but that wasn’t on his drunken mind. He was fighting mad at himself...for getting in the embarrassing position of having a “date” of sorts taken away...again something he didn’t understand or had experienced. He supposed he could have started a fight, but the other side of his personality, the quieter side, consoled him, telling him he was the smarter one, and such actions weren’t worth it. He had just about cooled down when he decided to pull into Lendy’s  and see his cruiser friends. It was March, and quite chilly from a storm the night before, so most of the cruisers out tonight had their windows up. Seeing Freddie parked in a stall, he pulled into another stall down a few spaces. Freddie honked at him, and jumped out running over to open Toby’s door and got in. Toby was playing his Led Zeplin 8-track as “Heart Breaker”  changed to “Livin’ Lovin Maid” cracklin’ loud and clear...
Freddie, all wide-eyed and reaching over to turn down the 8 track, said, “Hey buddy, that asshole Jimmy Blane is telling everyone you’re afraid to race that piece of shit RT he has!” You remember him, the big mouth with the white Dodge?  Toby shrugged, and still quite high, bellowed  out, “F--K him and the white DAMNED DODGE HE RODE IN ON!”
Right as he blasted that out, he noticed that very car was sitting across the road at the Pilot Gas station. Before Freddie could get out, Toby backed up and screeched out of Lendy’s all the way over to put his Mustang’s hood almost nose to nose with the Dodge RT. Getting out in the cold breeze, his long blonde hair blowing, he strutted over to this guy Jimmy as he came outside from  buying  a pack of cigarettes. Toby was in a rare fighting mood, and wasn’t about to hear any crap from this smart-mouthed fool.
Toby, in a sudden shift into a cool, simmering dark red mood said calmly, “Yeah, guess you think I’m not going to challenge you and your old lady’s car to a race, but you’re dead wrong.”
The guy Jimmy tried to act smooth and un-rattled as he returned with “Guess? There ya go again, guessin’ you’re goin’ to do something big, huh, punk?”
Toby just leaned in closer as he breathed his alcohol breath fumes in the guy’s face, replying cold as ice,  “Guessin’s over, asshole.”
With that the fellow stepped back to get around him, and looking over his shoulder and getting in his car said, “Let’s make it real, shithead!” 
Before Jimmy could get started up, Toby walked around the Dodge with an exaggerated challenger’s strut and swagger, as he noticed there were already people getting out of their warm cars to see if a race was on, like so many nights from the summer fact, this was the first big race to be instigated this end of winter, as it would be spring, soon.

Chapter 25 - “Taking Your Medicine”

Freddie,  ever the instigator, jumped out and running across Williamson Road back to Lendy’s was yelling at the top of his lungs “Hey!!!... We got a race on!!!!” Lendy’s suddenly came to life, as it seemed many were starting their cars up and driving out quickly to assemble down Williamson Road at the Arlan’s - McDonald’s finish line. The remainder who wanted to see the big take off, started up as well, but parked closer to the road with their headlights on to see this action street side.
Jimmy was first in his Dodge to do a revving burnout from the Pilot Gas towards the North 11 Bowling, up and across Williamson Road in a long u-turn  and came back to a screeching halt in front of Lendy’s as he lined up  at the customary “starting line.” Since he was challenged by Toby, he got his lane choice, and like Toby, favored the safety of the center lane, taking it. Toby was really keyed up, and showing off his disdain for this guy Jimmy screeched out of the station, likewise straight up North 11 for about 500 feet, did a smoking 180 degree “power slide” u-turn and left a semi circle of tire marks burnt across all lanes of Williamson Road. As he approached Lendy’s he downshifted the powerful engine’s automatic with a bellowing roar, and jerked right up to the starting line, egging on Jimmy. The crowd of spectators went  wild,  cheering them on!!!
“Stick” the take-off guy wasn’t there, so a big guy nicknamed “Peanut” was doing the starting line honors...It was a chilly windy night, yet Toby had rolled down all his windows at the gas station, and had popped in one of his favorite  8 track tapes, by “Free,”  and was blasting out “All Right Now” as he revved his engine. “Peanut” had just gotten the three headlight blinks from down at the finish line so he motioned to both Jimmy and Toby  to get ready.
Toby was gritting his teeth as he tensed up, as it seemed like Peanut was aggravatingly slow  in his duties. Toby and Jimmy both were trying to time their  high revs for a more powerful launch, and suddenly Peanut out of nowhere dropped his arms. It was instant chaos as both cars were suddenly screaming in a  “fish-tailing” cloud of tire smoke as Peanut narrowly escaped getting squashed between  both side-swerving vehicles. Both were almost even at take-off but Toby was losing ground as the Dodge was suddenly a half car ahead, then in a blink it was a full car ahead, but as the Dodge was shifting into 3rd, Jimmy  slipped on the high-revving shift and Toby even-ed up as they were suddenly nose to nose across  the finish line. 
The crowd hooted  and cheered about the even race, calling out loud for a “best of two” rematch, with some declaring Jimmy the winner and on the other side, Toby being the winner, but most saw it as it was, an even run. Toby was extremely distressed about almost losing the race, from the take-off because if smart-mouthed Jimmy  hadn’t miss-shifted, he and his Dodge 440 would have surely won. Jimmy was smug,  about it...knew he’d fouled up, and still had that haughty manner as he and Toby both made U-turns at Hildebrand Road and drove back up to visit with their friends in the Arlan’s parking lot at the finish line.
Freddie and some other cars from the starting line at Lendy’s were pulling in as well to hear who won,  but just as everyone was getting out of their cars, still chanting for a second race, they got right back in as Deputy Sheriffs Bob Cline and  George Wright both pulled into the lot with their patrol cars from opposite ends. As they slowly drove up to the assembly of parked cars, they had their spotlights on, flashing at each car, making notice of who was there.  A blue Dodge Demon started up and was getting ready to leave when Sheriff Wright flashed the car with the spotlight and whipped over in front of them with a blip of the siren.
Deputy Cline also stopped to block the parking lot exit, stepped out and using his flashlight put his hand up to make everyone notice to halt, and to stop anyone else  from leaving.
Deputy Sheriff  Wright was talking to the long-haired boy  from Salem driving the blue Dodge Demon. Toby was concerned that if he got blabbed on by anyone at Lendy’s or one of this group, he might be discovered to still be a quite a bit under the “beer bravado” influence, so he chewed a piece of “road check” gum as quickly as he could to mask the brew on his breath. Apparently Deputy Sheriff Wright had gotten all the info he wanted to hear from the blue Dodge and reached into his car and got out the microphone and using the patrol car PA told everyone “to leave slowly and quietly.”  He reminded them all that “this parking lot was closed for business, and private property after closing time.”

Chapter 26 - “Here’s What I Saw”

As the cars lined up to exit, Toby waited until a few other cars had started up and then trying to stay low, and not make much noise, just barely gave the Mach 1 enough gas to crawl about 4 mph behind a couple in an Olds 442. As he came up to Dept Cline directing the cars out onto Williamson Road with a waving motion of his red-capped flashlight,  Cline threw his hand up, stopping Toby. Toby nervously obliged as Deputy Cline leaned forward with his light shining around him, into the  front and rear seats and the floorboards front and back..”Been keeping it clean, son?” asked Deputy Cline.
Toby, trying to direct his breath down into his car, replied softly, “Oh, well , yeah, yes sir...”
Deputy Sheriff Cline said, “Good, good..I saw you down near Plantation giving it a good wash a while ago....that rainy weather yesterday sure can mess e’m up...where’d you get into all that mud anyhow??? Drive safe, now.”
Toby was concerned now that he would have really been in trouble if Deputy Sheriff Cline had seen what he did earlier at the Harvest House...he wondered, did Deputy Sheriff Cline know anything about that? Then,  only a few minutes later, after he washed the mud off at the car wash, Deputy Sheriff Cline possibly could have caught him roaring drunk at that point, too, blasting up Williamson Road even before the drag race and that could have been a very, very big problem!
Breathing a sigh of relief, Toby needed one more beer, albeit a “3.2,” to calm his nerves and something to eat, so he cruised a cool, slow 35 mph in the short distance to the Village Inn, still open for later night hungries. He noticed Freddie’s car parked out front as he had  gotten away from Arlan’s before him. Stepping into Village Inn Toby heard the mantra, “Moonlight! Moonlight! Moonlight!” as quite a few were folks, who like Freddie, had just gotten there and saw him come in. Toby gave a wave of sorts to the crowd.  Freddie had just joined a table of two other guys he knew, and seeing Toby, cheered him on, “My man, T.O!!! Come join us, you ole sonofabitch!”
Toby let out a chuckle and retorted, “Sure, you shithead!”
Freddie wasn’t sure yet if Toby won the race as he had heard conflicting accounts. “So, did you smoke ole Jimmy?” prodded Freddie.
“Well, no, it was a more like a nose to nose tie, but I don’t know how that ass got in front of me at the take off!” snorted Toby.
“Here’s what I saw, buddy...” said a voice standing behind them. As Toby turned around, he recognized this older fellow who had the jacked up Chevy Nova he met at Advance Auto Parts the summer before, when he had just gotten the Mach 1. This fellow had that strange matter of fact demeanor like the movie star Steve McQueen. A bit rough around the edges, but with a quiet intelligence and confidence  that radiated from him.
“What you saw? mean my race just a while ago?” asked Toby.
“Yeah! I was there...I came out and was standing right there when you two “came off the line”...You’d  have beaten that ole 440 good if you’d have had better rear tires! You were just sitting there, spinning like you were on banana peels with those little stock wide ovals...on that cold damp road tonight it’s a wonder you were able to even take off under full you’ve burned them down pretty bad by now, right? the way, my name’s Scott.”
Toby replied “I’m Toby..Toby Owens, and yep, you’re right... I’ve already had to rotate them...I remember you...don’t you have a Chevy Nova?”
Scott answered, “Did have a Nova, tore it all to hell, too....but I’ve got a 69 L-88 ‘Vette now. What I mean is you need to get you some big ass M-50’s tires that’ll handle that takeoff spinning. You know what I mean? You’ve seen that silver 70 Challenger around here all kicked way up with those big meats in the back...But you’ve also got to get extra wide rims, double reversed to put them on,’ll also need to jack that Mustang’s rear fenders up off those tires....”
Toby mentioned he’d seen a few cars on the cruisin’ strip all jacked up high with those “steamroller” types of rear tires, but didn’t think he wanted to do that. Scott told him it was the only way to compensate for too much horsepower over too small of a tire. He could find those special tires at several locations in the valley and he recommended getting a set of Mickey Thompson brand M-50’s and a good brand of air shocks to raise up and stiffen the rear suspension to the point that it raised the wheel wells up over the tires that would now be extending out beyond the fenders. Alton remembered the fellow Jerry with the black 63 Chevy he had raced the first time that last July 4th mentioned that as well, that he needed bigger tires.
Freddie blurted, “Hell yes!!! Mickey Thompson’s...Best tires for racing there is!!! He’s my 4th cousin, ya know!” Toby and Scott laughed as they both commented to the effect of, “Sure, have ya got those fine “family tires” on your  ride, cousin???”

Chapter 27 - “Baby Needs Some New Shoes”

Toby had turned 20 years old on April 23rd, and Mom and Dad had considered what to do for his birthday. They knew he enjoyed dressing up in his red sweater, and decided on getting him a nice party suit at Davidson’s in Crossroads Mall. He was also now going out to more formal events, like friends weddings, and would probably be asking out one of his girl friends from the new William Fleming’s class of 71 to their senior prom. The jacket was a sharp looking white with light grey pinstripes, and they bought a nice Italian-cut dress shirt in a deep red wine color with a coordinating tie. Toby was pleased, and ready to go styling.
In a week, it was now early May, 1971 and with the daylight hours longer, it seemed to Toby there was more time to get things done. He wanted to get back to his favorite regular pastime of “cruising” Williamson Road, and had been looking around at some performance tire deals. The very ones that the fellow hot rodder Scott had recommended were right there where he bought that “blue” 104+ high octane gasoline, at the J.C. Penney Auto Center, also  at Crossroads Mall. When he was filling up with gas on a Wednesday evening, he parked by the store’s front, went in and over to the tire sales counter. He told the sales manager he’d like to get a rear set of the Mickey Thompson M-50 tires, and also standard Goodyear Wide Oval 70s for the front.
Since he needed those custom widened rear wheels, they also had some very nice looking “Cragar” and “Keystone” mag wheels in the sizes he needed.
The sales manager asked what kind of car these were going on, and on hearing it was the Mustang he could see out the store window, said, “Oh- no-no-no...what you want for the front is fine, but those rear M-50 tires will stick out way too much, and we can’t guarantee them against damages, besides you’d have to have some really good air shocks or some kind of rear spring shackle extenders to keep those rear wheel fender wells from chomping down into them on hard bumps!..and also, they wouldn’t pass the Virginia State vehicle inspection, either!”
Toby was adamant, saying he knew what he wanted, and if he couldn’t buy them there he’d go elsewhere.
The salesman said, “OK, OK, you can buy whatever you want, but we’re not going to put them on that car......and like I’m telling you, you’ll have to put on some kind of air shocks or much longer leaf-spring shackles first for sure, ...but, let me warn you, I see you’ve got an inspection due this month, and again, it’s not going to pass inspection with that M-50 setup!”
Toby thought for a moment and said..”Tell ya what...I want to get an inspection first anyhow......if I buy two new Goodyear’s on Keystones to replace those worn-out ones on the back, it should pass inspection, right?”
“Well, yes, if the other two on the front will pass...and everything “else” is OK. But, you can’t get that inspected today,” said the salesman, “Our inspector will be here on Saturday, and we can get you in if you get here early....”
“I’ll be here,” said Toby, “so go ahead and put me two new goodyear’s on Keystones, those right there, on this evening.” Penney’s put the new Keystone wheels and Goodyear tires on the front and moved the old front stock tires and rims to the back axle. The next Saturday morning Toby was up bright and early to be first in line to get a state inspection.

Chapter 28 -”Getting Around The Rules”

Saturday mornings were typically a “sleep-in” morning for both Toby and Pete, and as Toby was up early rustling about in their adjoining barracks like rooms, Pete, close by sat up in bed, a bit aggravated as Toby had awoken him from his “sleep-in” morning.
“What’s going on? Why are you up so early?” grumbled Pete.
“Going to Penney’s to get my inspection, and some extra wide tires and two more Keystones!” answered Toby happily.
“What’s wrong with the ones on it? Did ya bend one?” questioned Pete.
“No, just want to add some street machine pizzazz to mine like everyone else out on the strip! Besides, I need new tires, period, my inspection is due, and so what business is it of yours, anyhow?” huffed Toby.
“No business of mine at all, slick, just jokin’ with ya, so quieten down, OK?” snapped Pete as he punched his pillow and covered his head with it to block out any more of Toby’s knocking around.
Mom and Dad were just getting up as well and also were surprised to see Toby up so early. Ray and Sarah just asked about the same things Pete did, but Toby only gave short, quick answers, ate his cereal and took off for Penney’s. Getting there nice and early, he would be second in line, as an older fellow with a Buick station wagon had gotten there first. While he was waiting, another cruiser that he knew had pulled in with his ‘68 Chevelle 396 to get an inspection as well, so they talked a bit about the “happenin’s” on Williamson Road and such. This fellow had heard about Toby  and the “Dodge Boy” Jimmy’s race from a few weeks back, and they talked about that. Toby related as how that older cruiser guy Scott suggested he needed those big fat M-50s for traction, and that he was now getting ready to buy and install those wide monsters, but these guys at Penney’s were refusing to install any lift kits or such. This especially related to the state inspection, which did not allow such modification.
His cruiser friend said “I understand that’s because with the rear end up so high, not just because of the tires getting damaged for sticking out too far, if somebody were to come crashing into you from behind, your gas tank was over exposed and could burst and become a fireball explosion!” He also said that he thought it also related to restricting how high, or overly high modern cars S.A.E. designed rear bumpers was from the ground.
But, Toby had a plan in the works for getting around the rules. He was going to get the state inspection first, then buy the two wide reversed Keystones and have them fitted with the big Mickey’s....since Penney’s already stated they would not install air shocks and those tires, he would simply buy the air shocks elsewhere and install them himself...So, after the successful inspection, Toby popped the Mustang’s trunk and had Penney’s put the tires into it, side by side. It was a very tight fit, as he found, with most of the wheels and tires sticking up out of the trunk, but with some cord, he tied them in using the trunk hinges as hitching posts, and made the quick trip to Advance Auto parts, where he got the air shocks. Then back home to the garage to put this wicked rig together.

Chapter 29 - “Dad Gets Mad”

Dad had a fairly well-equipped garage out back now, as he enjoyed doing his own car maintenance and household repairs out there. When Toby pulled into home he was glad Dad was gone and his Fairlane was out of the driveway. He almost had a straight in way to the garage. Pete was gone too, but Mom’s old Galaxy was parked in the driveway first. Toby came in and asked his Mom for her car keys to move it, saying he wanted to do a little work on his Mustang. She asked if there was a mechanical problem. “No, Mom, no problem, just want to change my tires.” answered Toby.
He discovered he needed to drill a hole in his trunk to install an air valve stem, like a tire’s, for the air shocks’ air lines. Luckily, Dad had a drill, the right sized bit and small air compressor. Jacking the car’s rear up safely onto jack stands was about the hardest part of all this, and climbing in underneath, replaced the original shocks with the “unloaded” air shocks using a big socket wrench. With the uninflated shocks in place, he plugged up Dad’s compressor and started pumping them up. He could see the gap between the tops of his old tires and his fenders rolled edges becoming wider with each pump-pump-pump of the air hose, due to the shocks’ extra pressure arching the leaf springs down much more than before. He took his lug wrench and removed the two stock rear wheels with the worn but still passable tread off and rolled them out of the garage.
Now, came the exciting part, putting those big beefy Mickey Thompson M-50s with matching Keystones and big bright lug nuts on. Delighting in the exotic look and feel of those mighty five-spoked Keystone mag wheels, on all four corners, Toby gently lowered the jacks until it sat there, with an entirely new menacing look. He had just about finished when Dad came pulling in and rolled right up to where he was sitting down, with a spray bottle of wheel cleaner, cleaning up any hand prints off the shiny rims.“What’s going on, son?” was the first thing Ray said as he walked in, standing over Toby, who was still sitting, wiping the wheels and tires with a old shop cloth.
“Got me some new wheels and tires, Dad!” said Toby with a gleeful smile.
“What was wrong with the tires and wheels that came on it?”asked Ray.
“The back tires were worn out...Dad?” Is anything wrong? I told you and Mom I had to go get new tires and an inspection this morning” answered Toby.
“But what kind of damned tires are these?” demanded Dad.
“These are just custom wheels and tires, Dad...don’t they look cool?” said Toby trying to appease Ray.
“How much did ya pay for those ugly things????” asked Dad with his face now getting a little red, an Owens family mark of getting angry.
“Not that much, Dad...these are the ones everybody on Williamson Road want on their cars!!!” said Toby in a submissive tone.
“Yeah, I’ve seen those fools out there with the rear ends all up in the air with tires too big, and all looking stupid! Besides that, it’s now going to ride like an old wagon. Don’t let Magic City Ford see ya with this stuff, or they might void what little warranty ya got left...Son, I’m not trying to be hateful, but damn it!.. Sarah and I didn’t buy you this for you to mess it up!...I paid a lot of money for this car, a lot more than for my Fairlane and Pete’s Mustang, too! I want you to remember that!” barked Ray...”You finished here? Good, then get it out!” said Dad in a displeased tone.
With that, Ray got back into the Fairlane and backed down the driveway, motioning for Toby to pull out. Toby fired up the Mustang and noticed how it did feel different with the rear high up, and he obeyed his Dad, backing out past him, he yelled out the driver’s window, apologetically “I’m sorry!”
With that, instead of parking, as Toby was too upset, he refrained from giving it the gas, and instead just drove off slowly towards Williamson Road.

Chapter 30 - “Midnight Rider”

Summer 1971 was quickly coming to the Roanoke Valley. Out in the rural county,  away from all of the city roads and businesses, the sweet smell of honeysuckle was in the late night air, as the humid cool gave everything a wet kiss of dew. Toby was becoming quite fond of the summer night time, and was spending much more of his evenings out in the cruising scene until  the early AM hours. He was in a new routine of catching about an hour  after-work deep sleep cat-nap, laying under the breeze of his room’s little window air-conditioner. As his  clock was set for 7:00, it was both his morning and evening wake up times. Shaking off the nap on most evenings as the sun set, he’d rise up like ole Dracula, take a wake-up shower, slap on some Brut, and hustle down to whatever was left at the dinner table, if he slept past dinner.
Mom Sarah was a bit disturbed with this new routine, as Toby was showing less and less  interest in the family, and on more and more occasions would miss eating a normal dinner with her, Dad and brother Pete. Dad and Pete didn’t seem to notice much or care, but Toby was slowly using home like a hotel. His evenings were devoted to  hooking up with one of his ever-growing circle of lady friends who were all eager to ride out into the night with him and the eye-catching “Moonlight Mustang.” He and his Mach 1 were becoming quite a popular “happening”  with the hippy “free love” girls, and it was almost becoming a “first come first serve” of very willing girls  when it came to which girl wanted to be “the one” tonight.
After the crowds would thin out on Williamson Road about 1 AM, while either alone or with some new girl, he enjoyed  driving the lonely stretches of Interstate 581, from its northern junction  with I-81 past the Peters Creek Road exit and re-looping at Plantation Road and returning at full throttle speed back to Hershberger Road exit. It was an exciting, thrilling intoxicating high experience, whether sober or with some stimulants. With the blasting 8 Track playing and all of the windows down, it combined  the jet-like roar of the open air wind and the engine with the forced air smell of the honeysuckle which grew wild on both side banks of the road.  He’d often open up  the Mustang Mach 1 for what it could do...
He had read the article in a rock n’ roll magazine about his favorite rock star hero Jim Morrison of the Doors filming a movie out in the California desert. The movie focused on Morrison  driving his  ‘67 Shelby GT 500 Mustang, in a strange essay of letting his dark, primitive side completely take the wheel. The photos illustrating the article were “stills” taken of Morrison behind the wheel like a bearded wild man barreling full-speed through the wide open desert on a lonesome highway. This created a devil-may-care fantasy for Toby of complete unbridled abandon, and as he’d often play his Doors 8 -Tracks, he’d live his own version of that film noir. His Mach 1  speedometer only read up to 120 MPH, but when the needle buried itself against the bottom of the gauge, how fast he and the “Moonlight Mustang” were traveling is anybody’s guess.
What he did know was, the girls all shared, and actually flaunted,  how much fun it was to go “all the way,” with him...and the “Moonlight Mustang.”

Chapter 31 - “Splendor In The Grass”

It was now an early  June night , and a year had passed since Toby had graduated. The girl he had picked up at the McDonald’s lived  in Sun Valley. She was Patty, and he knew her from Sound City, like many others he knew. She was young,  17, and hot for romance and  wanted to get straight to the “making out” part. She mentioned since she couldn’t stay out too late, it would be so nice to find a quiet country road, away from all of the cruisin’ traffic, and lights of Williamson Road.
He told her he knew a nice and dark little place to get “naked” taking Cove Road out to Loch Haven Road, where there were no street lights, and not much development. Cruising easily along down Peters Creek Road, Toby had his 8 track playing some “mood music” as the girl and he teased each other. Turning right onto Cove Road, it was then up one hill and down the other as the road became more rural with each mile, more turning and twisting as he found Loch Haven Road indeed dark, with no traffic.  For about a half mile he followed it up to an empty little service lane off the road that led  up behind a big billboard facing out to Interstate 81. With the sign’s bright night lights facing the highway, they were completely hidden in the contrasting dark behind the glare.  He liked quiet little private areas for some “get togethers.” He  parked, took a quick look around, then he and Patty opened both doors and then opened the trunk where he kept a big picnic style blanket. Taking out his flashlight he found a nice smooth grassy area just a few yards  from the car. He also kept some beer in a cooler and his other “let’s party!” goodies, as they eagerly enjoyed  some young “splendor in the grass.”
Having been a wonderfully naughty and possibly dangerous evening at this point, Toby and Patty both lay back, naked and sticky from the sweat of their summer passion, catching their breathes. In the soft dark of the forest surrounding them from behind, they were looking up at the stars, listening to the crickets and the tree frogs and also watching the bats feast on the blizzard of moths circling the lights. Toby teased her by telling her of the many ghosts that haunted the woods surrounding them. This was part of a battlefield where the Confederate  General Jubal Early’s troops attacked a retreating Union force, known as “the Battle of Hanging Rock,” in June of 1864, and they were probably laying on the unmarked graves of quite a few dead soldiers.  He also told her of the tragic death of a girl named Trudy, who was a popular girl at Northside High School.  A few years ago Trudy was killed ironically on graduation night, in a lone car wreck with her boyfriend, just a few miles further up near Carvin’s Cove, the city’s water reservoir.
Sharing half of a joint he had from the night before, they cuddled as the gnats began buzzing about them. Toby started swatting the air and laughing when suddenly they heard somebody in the dark mocking his laugh from a short distance away. “Who in the world is that?”  they both thought as Patty, very frightened, panicking,  grabbed the blanket up around herself  and started running the short distance towards the car, spilling out the empty beer cans that rattled together, and also Toby’s pants and her clothes that were all in a pile.
Luckily, he was instinctive enough to have put his car keys in his shoes, so grabbing them, he attempted to hastily gather what clothes he could see. He had  scooped all of them up, balled up into a big roll, and sprinted barefooted  to the car with their clothes under one arm and his other hand carrying his shoes with his fingers firmly clutching the keys to the inside. Jumping in he deftly fished out his keys, and  like an Indy racer,  had the keys in the ignition and the Mustang roared to life. He didn’t have time to find the flashlight, and also didn’t turn the headlights on, as he didn’t want whoever might be out there to see them better, or his tag number, but even so, that “Moonlight Mustang” was hard to miss, even in the dark!

Chapter 32 - “Tire Troubles”

In the fast getaway from the area, in only a very short distance Toby had to flip on the lights as he knew the road had a bad curve coming quickly. Not overly familiar with the dark Loch Haven Road, he  also forget there was a big dip in the road, and he hit it solidly. The hard bounce from the dip dropped the front end and then the back end of his Mach 1  down very hard and he felt his car jerk heavily and swerve sharply to left as he also heard a loud squeal from his rear tire.  Both he and Patty were hastily getting away, and were not seat-belted in of course, and both were bouncing bare-butted off of  the vinyl bucket seats.
They and the  car recovered, and not stopping for any reason, they were both laughing hysterically as he raced  back onto Cove Road, and taking its rolling hills pretty fast suddenly realized in his pot-induced euphoria that he was heading right into the “Dead Man’s Curve” of local fame...and then he remembered in December of 1969,  Ronnie, the famous Williamson Road cruiser who drove  a new wickedly fast dark green 1970 Dodge Superbee  was killed just past this “Dead Man’s Curve,” not in his car, but in a GTO his buddy Lou crashed  into a concrete post and telephone pole.   Sobering up at this thought, Toby backed off in time and took the curve at moderate speed... He suddenly realized his cooler was left back there with 2 or 3 beers left in it....and his flashlight, too! Oh damn!!! Well, cheap enough he thought. 
Suddenly all of her giggling stopped as  Patty said, “Oh no! Where’s my panties and bra? ...and my shoes?”
“They’re not in there???” asked Toby, pointing at the opened ball of clothing she had strung out down in her front floorboard.
  “No!!!” What am I gonna do, what if Mama or Daddy notice I don’t have any shoes???” cried Patty. 
“Well, let’s see”...said Toby..”I can go back and”...
”No! No! Please don’t!” pleaded Patty who suddenly became frightened again.
“Or, you could can tell them we went roller-skating at the Skate-A-Drome,  and when you came back to put away the rented shoes, yours were gone!” offered Toby... “But don’t say unless they ask!” 
“Yes, well, maybe they’ll be in bed, but if they do get up and ask, at least I hope they won’t know I don’t have my panties and bra on!” said Patty, cooling down a bit.” 
At that, Toby pulled over and parked in a dark corner of a closed gas station across the Peters Creek Road intersection while he and Patty hastily put their wrinkled clothes back on.
Toby told her before he took her home, they’d take a really good look through the blanket, to be sure they really were gone, when they could find a place with enough lights to see.  He knew the Woolco Department store at Crossroads Mall, even closed,  would still have its parking lot lights on, so they’d go there to take a thorough look. After cutting across Peters Creek Road, Cove Road continued on until it intersected with a left  turn onto Hershberger Rd, and the Woolco was about another three miles east. It was also not too far from Grandview Ave, which Toby would take  home many times. On the way, as he joked about that was probably a Union soldier’s ghost they heard laughing back at him,  they both laughed about the thrill and  exhilaration a good scare always brings!
Pulling up under one light post, with them both still quite buzzed and  happy, they looked up under the seats or anywhere else her undies and shoes might have fallen in the rush to getaway. Toby took the time to fold up his picnic blanket and was putting it back in the trunk when he saw the chrome wheel well trim on his driver’s side rear wheel was all bent up and had actually been pulled loose from one end. “What the Hell?” he blurted out..he bent over and noticed that his wheel well trim and the actual fender itself was scratched and discolored from having a bad scrape with the big Mickey Thompson tire!
Apparently, when he hit the big dip on Lock Haven Road, the rear body came down on his side of the car and was badly scraped by contacting the huge tire. What the salesman at Penney’s warned him about those wide tires only a month ago was the truth!!! Concerned, he looked the tire over, he ran his hands along the outer tread and noticed that yes, some of the outer tread had been shaved down from the scrape, like a lathe. However, these big tires had very thick tread casings, and luckily, not damaged enough to make it unsafe, plus the passenger side tire and fender wheel well was untouched.

Chapter 33 - “Jail Bait”

It was about  11:30 PM as Toby slowly pulled up to Patty’s house to drop her off, trying to keep the exhaust rumble to a minimum, but the porch light came on right as he stopped to let her out. A big hairy man in a tank top t-shirt stepped out of the side door and onto the carport  motioning for him to stop, get out and come over.
Patty, seeing this, said “Oh Shit! I thought he’d be asleep!” The man bellowed out, “Patty, get your ass in the!!! Hey boy, come over here...”
Toby, shrugging his shoulders as he parked and stepped out trying to conceal his nervousness  answered, “Sure, what’s up?”
The man was obviously drinking, and eyed Patty as she slipped by him into the door. He asked ‘Where ya’ll been?”
Toby,  naturally quick and cool was already prepared with an answer as he’d just suggested to Patty, said “Roller-skatin’... out near Salem.”
“Roller-skating?” Then where the Hell is  her shoes?”
“I-I-I don’t know...somebody must have wanted her shoes really bad, ‘cause they weren’t there when we were getting ready to leave and”...explained Toby as he got interrupted by Patty’s father, again shouting “Stolen you say?..Well...did you tell the management?” 
‘Well, no sir, and...”
Patty’s dad got right up in Toby’s face and barked, ‘Then you owe me $20 right now, blondie, for taking her out and losing her shoes!”
Without missing a beat Toby slowly reached into his back pocket for his billfold..luckily that wasn’t lost in the dark, back at Lock Haven Road.  By another grace of luck, he  had more than $20 on him to soothe down the furious father as he replied, “Yes sir, I - I -I  do indeed owe you, so yes, sir, here’s $20 for her to buy some new ones” as he calmly handed out a $20 bill to the irate father.
Her dad sensing Toby’s submissiveness added a bold threat to close out the decidedly one-way conversation..”Listen, punk, I know how you stiff dicks think...and let me tell you..She’s only sixteen!!!...Jail-bait!!! If you’ve violated her, I can bring down statutory rape on your got me!!!!???” Toby had believed her, saying she was seventeen,  almost eighteen, but too late to change things now.
“Oh yes, of course, sir...No sir, we only just met last, no sir, I wouldn’t try to do that,  no sir”...
With that the wild-eyed father turned and went back in the house, turning off the porch light.
Toby didn’t hesitate to get away from there as quick as possible, so back out to the cruising scene of Williamson Road he went.

Chapter 34 - “Georgia GTO  Showdown”

Lendy’s was really busy this hot June 19,  1971, a Saturday night, and the streets were full of cruisers, many from out of town, mostly from the outer reaching areas like Botetourt, Franklin and Montgomery  Counties.  Young adults would drive the extra hour or two just to be a part of the much larger “happening” of the Williamson Road scene, and many would end up staying till the wee hours, and camping out, sleeping in their cars in the empty parking lots lining “the strip.’” It was the place to congregate, hang out, meet up for romances and show off their cars. It was “free entertainment,” as long as you didn’t get a ticket!
One car that was a newcomer to the Williamson Road scene that night sort of stood out from the  usual crowd. It was a 1966 GTO convertible, and convertible GTO’s weren’t that common. It  was a bit ragged, missing the front bumper and the top had a few small tears with grey duct tape covering the scars. It had the original light green metallic paint, a bit dull and fading, and it had those cheaper plain dish  “slotted” mag wheels which were the poor man’s choice instead of Cragars or Keystones. What was very odd  looking was the fellow had spray painted his brake drums a bright orange as they shown through the wheels’ slots. It also sported those big fat M-50s on the rear double dished wheels, and so it was jacked up high to clear the fenders....but when it was rolling, it was like a jet going by...all business, no pussy-footing around.
It was sporting Georgia plates, too, so it was a long way from home. The fellow driving it had stopped earlier at the Penney’s Auto Center for gasoline. While he was filling up, Skipper Bowers,  a fellow who worked there and was also a cruiser with his Buick Skylark 400, asked him about the GTO’s engine.
“Oh, it’s nothing special,” said the guy with  a southern country twang in his voice.  Being a bit evasive said “I blew the old 389, so it now has just a new 400 block and heads reworked, forged guts and some other little goodies.”
Skipper found out his name was Gary, and was currently in the Army down at Fort Benning, GA. He mentioned he was originally from Martinsville, VA and was in town on leave visiting his sister who now lived off of Plantation Road. He had asked if the locals liked to drag race for money, just for  small amounts, mind maybe fifty dollars or maybe one hundred dollars, even two hundred dollars  if they were pretty sure they could beat this GTO. Skipper had mentioned there were several really hot cars out there tonight, and sure they’d enjoy taking the soldier’s money!
It just so happened that night Toby was cruisin’ out on Williamson Road and was coming up on the red light at the Firestone tire store. Up ahead of him this rag-top GTO pulled up next to a sharp looking black ‘70 Chevelle SS at the light...There was no formal “Let’s Race” challenging going on, but when the light turned green, the GTO blasted off  like a pro stocker....the Chevelle didn’t even try to “keep up,” and just let the GTO go...
Toby took a loop back down Williamson Road and pulled in parking in his normal locale at Lendy’s. He was  sort of holding court with several young ladies parked next to him as that same GTO came in with the top now down and with Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” song blasting out of a terrible rattling sounding speaker. The driver was acting smug, and  made several slow and menacing laps. It was getting late, and this new cruiser was attracting a lot of attention, stares and also some laughs from everyone parked in the stalls. As the GTO passed slowly by, its engine’s camshaft made the car “lope” in repeated small bursts of  three-feet “leaps,” that timed with the rumble of the exhaust. It was evident this car had a serious hi-performance engine.  As he passed by a gallery of Road Runners, Mustangs, Camaros and others, he couldn’t help but spot Toby’s bright yellow Mach 1.  The GTO stopped right in front of Toby, and the Army guy smiled a big wide smile revealing a missing front tooth, as he revved and then full-popped the clutch billowing tire smoke out all over Toby’s Mustang and the cars close by.
The Lendy’s crowd just honked their horns and laughed,  but the GTO came back and did a repeat burnout right in front of Toby, as an obvious challenge.  However, right behind him came that older fellow Scott in his ever so cool Corvette. Word had gotten out there was “match money” to be made with racing the scruffy GTO. Scott honked his horn, pulled up beside the GTO and reached out his window waving five  twenty dollar bills in the air.  Don, the GTO guy, again with that missing tooth smile, reached out with two fifty dollar bills and nodded...
Oh yeah, this was what the Lendy’s crowd was looking for this night! As usual, several cars took out for the Arlan’s / McDonald’s finish line, as the crowds all got out of their cars and lined up street side. Toby and the girls also stepped out to watch the excitement. Scott’s Corvette was pretty darn fast, but he seldom ever raced anyone. For some reason, Scott must have felt he wanted to shut this GTO down but good, or maybe  just for the money.
This time Andy Robertson was the lineup guy, and as the GTO rumbled up and took choice lane of the outside, Scott pulled up into the middle lane. Everyone watched as they waited for the head lights down Williamson to blink three times as always.  The crowd got very quite as both the GTO and the Corvette began to high-rev and  snarl like two huge beasts......
Andy dropped his arms and the two took off like rocket sleds! Scott’s Corvette actually pulled a “wheelie” with the driver’s  side front wheel up off the ground on takeoff from the sudden torque, and the GTO was bouncing upwards with each gear shift..Blazing fast, like no others in a race ever seen on Williamson Road, the GTO kicked two car lengths ahead of Scott at the finish line...Circling back, both cars pulled into Arlans. The Georgia fellow smiled a big satisfying Halloween pumpkin-like grin as Scott disgruntled, handed him the one hundred dollars, as several of the girls came over to meet and flirt with this new guy, Don. The disappointed crowd were of course rooting for their hometown fellow Scott. Just as the crowd was getting ready to leave out, Toby came cruising into the lot to see who won, as you couldn’t  tell back at the Lendy’s starting line. He pulled up to Scott, sure that Scott had won.
“Get your money?” yelled Toby, above his engine’s rumbling.
“Nope... He won.” said Scott without heart.
“What the Hell?” said Toby wide-eyed in disbelief. “How???”
Scott answered, “I believe this guy’s a road shark that wins because everybody he challenges to a race thinks it’s just a rust can “sleeper.” I should have known something was up when I saw those Hooker headers stacks sticking down out of his engine bay. He’s probably running a full race competition engine, or he’s running some exotic fuel - or both.”
“Say, Toby....You got any money?” asked Scott as he looked over in the direction of Gary, the soldier boy leaning against his GTO.
“Yeah, about $50...don’t tell me you’re gonna race him again?” questioned Toby.
“No,” replied Scott....”You are!!!”
Toby’s mouth dropped wide open as he blurted, “What? Huh??? Oh, no, not me, I’ve, I’ve  never raced for money!”
Scott, reached through Toby’s driver’s window, and putting his arm out and around Toby’s shoulder, like a coach, said quietly, “ can beat this guy!”...
Toby said, “What makes you think so?... he beat you!”
Scott took a breath, then explained his reason..“Yes, yes, he beat me, OK, but...because I was behind him I could smell his clutch burning slam out and he was way over-revving after he pushed past me...He’s just got too much engine in that thing for the clutch he has left...Now listen to can beat him...just take your fifty dollars and wave it at him, and if he waves one hundred back, to raise the take, you can just walk away, if you want, but he’ll probably think he can “take you,” and he’ll say, “OK, fifty dollars it is..let’s Go!”
“Hmmmmm....Well, I’ve been wanting to win some money...I’ve been racing “Moonlight” at the New London drag strip every once in a while...I won there, every time, too, but all I got was a trophy.” said Toby, kind of day dreaming at the thought of some easy cash, plus the pride of winning again in front of his cruising friends. “Uh, OK, I’ll do it!”
Scott called over to Georgia Gary and said, “We got this boy Toby and his Mustang... and he can beat that old “goat” of yours!!!”
Gary walked over, kind of cocky-like with one of the night’s girls on his arm, as a crowd suddenly formed again, hooting and whooping, egging them on for the excitement of another race...He leaned over to look at Alton still behind “Moonlight’s” steering  wheel.
“Sure, I’ll race that sure is pretty, hmm, like a girl. Hope my GTO doesn’t make it cry!” taunted Gary. He knew this was the same Mustang  he saw in Lendy’s as he was driving around stalking for a race. He figured since his GTO had a racing engine that he should be able to beat Toby's  normal stock Mustang Mach 1, easy enough,  but he was also probably unaware that his clutch was possibly on its last run. Scott was an old-timer street racer, who knew quite a bit about engines and such, and could read those “signs” he saw at the finish line.
Toby, true to his nature, could take a bit of teasing, but not from a stranger. He had remembered how he had first raced the guy Jimmy with the Dodge 440 RT, all because the guy was acting cute with him and making big boasts.
“I got fifty bucks here, let’s go back to the starting line!” snorted Toby.
“Fifty bucks? Bull shit, boy, make it two hundred!” Georgia Gary snapped  back.
Toby, realizing he was now past bluffing his way out of the race, stammered  “Well, I-I-I...”
Suddenly Scott stuck himself between them, and getting into the betting saying  “Here’s a hundred and fifty bucks, and his fifty  makes your two hundred bucks, chump!  Show us your cash,  or you’re just Georgia trash!” Georgia Gary just smiled again, and showed them the two hundred, half of which earlier was Scott’s five -  twenty dollar bills.
Toby looked bewildered at Scott, as he’d not expected to even race, but now there was definitely no backing out. Scott gave him a “big brother” slap on the shoulder and said, “Go run over that goat!”
The word spread quickly as the crowd let out a cheer of “Race! Race! Race!” Gary went back and fired up his GTO, then Toby and he both peeled out heading back to Lendy’s to line back up again.
Gary once more had choice of lanes, taking the outside lane, as Toby eased up to take the inside lane.
Andy Robertson again was the “starter guy”, and quipped, “Hey, I should get some of that cash for all my workin’ here!” The crowds laughed at that remark as the Mustang and GTO waited and revved.  Toby was trying to observe the sound of the GTO’s loud engine over his own..It seemed OK and strong to him, but he didn’t smell a clutch going out like Scott said. Nerves were setting in on Toby as Gary  was hi-revving the GTO with its straight stick Hurst 4-speed to build RPM’s for a big drop of the clutch launch, as did Toby revving to create a torque buildup in his automatic transmission. Andy stood between the cars watching for the headlight blinks in the distance. When you’re keyed up and very excited, 5 seconds can seem like 5 minutes.
Suddenly, Andy drops his arms and all hell breaks loose! The roaring GTO has fish-tailed almost 45 degrees towards the people standing on the roadside, barely missing the crowd jumping back.  Toby, likewise is over-spinning his big rear tires, when they suddenly bite and his Mustang leaps forward ahead of the GTO by a car length. The GTO, roaring into second gear is now side by side him as it tries to overtake the lead, but Toby is again a full car length ahead with  the powerful shift of the Mustang’s super smooth transmission as the GTO drops into third gear.  The GTO is giving it everything it has, but it’s dropping back as its clutch and pressure plate are slipping furiously and  are over taken by the big engines’ rpm, when suddenly, “KA-BOOOOOM!”
The GTO’s engine had red-lined due to the lack of resistance from its super-fried clutch, and threw a piston rod down through the block, shattering everything inside. Toby eased off, and came to the finish line easily ahead of the crippled GTO. As he had backed off near the finish line, he was able to  make a quicker u-turn  and return to the finish line, where the GTO was just now drifting in. With oil gushing out of the cracked engine and smoke billowing out from under the car, the Georgia boy just shook his head as he steered it to a silent stop. Several of the guys in the crowd helped push him and the smoking GTO further down into the parking lot.
Not only was he now going to be “dead broke” even,  the soldier also now had a dead car....As the crowd of onlookers laughed and said wise-cracks towards Georgia Gary, Scott walked casually  over and repressing the urge to laugh himself, said, “OK soldier, maybe next time!”
Georgia Gary  quietly handed over the cash.  Scott turned around and handed Toby the fifty dollars part that he’d won, but Toby felt sorry for Georgia Gary, who just sat silently in the GTO. Toby might have been quick tempered, but he also had heart for the now sad soldier, and offered, “Hey, buddy....It was fun racing ya and all, but I - I sure am sorry your car blew the engine.” Georgia Gary still  just sat there quietly. As Toby started to walk off to his car, he saw one of his old girlfriends already sitting in the Mustang’s passenger seat... even so, he turned back  and asked the guy if he needed a ride.
“No, but...... thanks anyway...I’ve got to sit here and figure out what I’m going to do now.” said Gary.
Toby,  without saying a word reached over and handed Gary the fifty dollars he’d just won from him, and drove away...

Chapter 35- “Family Quarrels”

Toby drove home after work on this hot June 29th 1971 to find his Mom beginning to  prepare a nice Tuesday evening “surprise dinner” of pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans. She like making a nice dinner for  Ray, Pete and Toby with a “weekend-style flair” even if it was only a Tuesday.  Kroger had a great deal on pork chops, so she bought a package of 8 nice ones.
Toby greeted her normally as he came in and bolted up the steps to take a shower, however, Pete had gotten home first from his construction job and was already under the water. Turning around, disappointed at not being the first in, he stretched out for his typical one hour cat nap. It seemed like he had just laid down when Mom called up the steps to his and Pete’s rooms, waking him for dinner. Toby came down and  took a seat at the dining room table and watched Mom happily finishing up in her apron.
Dad Ray was usually arriving about 7 PM, and right on time came in with his jacket off from the summer heat. Sarah greeted him with “Hi, honey!” Sarah was a devout mother and wife, and her entire world circled around the “men” in her life.
Ray grunted, “Hi Sugar,” and nothing more as he plopped down on the couch in the crowded little living room there at their Ravenswood Dr home. As he quickly thumbed through the evening’s “Roanoke Times” newspaper, he would  subconsciously give editorial comments under his breath as he read, such as “bastards!” or “Oh, Christ!” It was apparently a bad news day as far as he was concerned.
Sarah had the table all set for the four, and Pete came down in a pair of cutoff shorts and a t-shirt, sweating from the hot summer air upstairs.  Dad took his usual position at the table’s end close to the living room as he bowed his head and gave a quick blessing. The Owens were a practicing Christian family, but were not an absolutely every Sunday  participant in services.
As Sarah joined them, Dad filled his plate first. Taking a few bites, he was first in the dinner talk by asking “Well, boys, what’s new? Anything going on, or you’re planning on soon?” It was evident from the tone  that Ray was referring to the boys  getting their own places, etc., as he’d mentioned this several times in the past few months.
Toby replied first, “Well, yeah, I looked at some apartments over at the Frontier, but they wanted way too much...A whole month in advance, a security deposit, and I’d have to make my own deposit for utilities, too!”
Dad, taking a big bite and in between heavy chews asked “Don’t you have a checking account?How much have you got saved up? You’ve been working over there at Double Envelope for over a year, how much do you have?”
Toby sheepishly said, “Not enough, yet...”
“Why???? Why not???” questioned Ray.
“Because... I need parts for my car, Dad!” answered Toby.
“Parts for your car????”  That car’s still almost new!!! The warranty should still have about a month left, so what in the world does it need? It cost a hell of a lot more than mine, your brother’s, your Mom’s, what in the world does it need parts for?” demanded Ray.
“I need a new distributor for it, Dad!!!” said  Toby defensively.
“A new distributor???” What the hell for??????? That car’s too new to need a damned distributor!!!!” barked Dad.
“Dad, it’s a Mallory dual-point hi-performance distributor...everybody expects me to have one for the Mustang!” sputtered Toby..”It’s something it needs to run better!!!”
“Run better???? Damn it, boy!!! put those stupid wheels and tires on it, when it already had  great ones to begin with, and now you’re blowing more money on engine parts it doesn’t need?”  How about trying to save up enough to get yourself out in the world, and you, too, Pete!” as Ray’s last words rang out with bitterness.
As everyone sat completely silent, Ray calming himself down with a deep breath,  said slowly, “Ah, oh........boys, I’m sorry.....I didn’t mean that....You know you’ve been welcome here...this has always been your home...but you’ve been here a good while now, as grown men now...and...I’m sorry, Toby, Pete, ...and you, too, Sarah   ...I’m, I’m  just tired.
With that, Ray got up slowly and went into the kitchen and got his personal bottle of Jack Daniels down  out of the cabinet and poured himself a stiff shot.
Sarah, wringing her hands and trying to hold back tears at the turmoil, stood up, and walked around the table to Toby and Pete, reaching out and grabbing their hands, as they, too, stood up. Ray propped himself with his back against the kitchen sink and gave the boys the look of “I’m sorry, but.... you know what I mean.”
Pete had already considered heading back south to Jacksonville, FL as he knew the area from his service in the Air Force. He figured he’d just stay out of the argument and stay quiet until he had enough saved himself for such a move.
“Dad, I’ll be leaving soon enough, just stay off my ass, would you?” cried out Toby, as Dad jerked, ready to jump back into a heated argument, but then, considering Sarah,  just breathed out to let his anger diffuse in silence with a silent stare. Mom pleaded with Ray, Toby and Pete to please all sit back down and try to enjoy this great meal she had worked so hard at. They nodded, thanked her and sat back down to finish the meal  in silence.

“Chapter 36 - “I’m Going To Be A father!!!”

That same Tuesday evening, June 29,  after suffering  the heat of emotion between himself and his Dad,  Toby excused himself from the table after dinner and went out cruisin’ on a night he normally wouldn’t. Tomorrow was a work day, but he didn’t care...he wasn’t going back home that night.  Many times he’d not come home, even during a week night, so this would be no different.
Toby’s feelings were hurt by Ray, and he had the sour attitude of “let Dad worry while I’m gone all night.” However, it was Mom Sarah that was burdened with most of the worrying for this family.  He drove out and  hit the Williamson Road scene with a was where he was “somebody” and not just some ordinary kid with a cool car and good job, still living with  his parents. He kept that detail of still living at home a seldom discussed item with his friends out on “the strip.” As he pulled into Village Inn and went in for some 3.2 beers,  he saw two really pretty young women wearing miniskirts going in right in front of him.
Being a “Johnny on the spot” kind of male, he quickly approached them and said, “Hi ladies, table for three?” The young women laughed at his bravado, and actually said, “Sure, table for three!” Being seated by the hostess in a booth, Toby took the initiative and sat next to the one girl he was really attracted to. She was a dark brunette, and he thought she looked like Natalie Wood.
“Hi, I’m Toby, babes, and ....who are you two?” he asked, really confident and cocky.
“I’m Lorrie,”  said the brunette, and the other blonde girl said “I’m Jenny!” 
Toby, continuing to lead the conversation, asked, ‘Uh, aren’t you new here?”
Lorrie said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, we are! I’m from Charleston, SC, and Jenny there is from Pittsburg...we’re based here now as Piedmont airline flight attendants!”
He instantly recalled that ‘Wild Woman,”  the older girl who had spurned him at the Harvest House last year and her girlfriend had also been Piedmont flight attendants. Determined to not repeat history, he played it cool and suave. After a big pizza and a  pitcher of beer, he was ready to make his move.
“You girls live out this way?” he asked, hoping for a “yes.”
“We sure do, darlin’!” said Lorrie...”Matter of fact, we walked here from our apartment!”
“Oh, that’s nice!”said Toby, raising his eyebrows to get a giggle out of the girls. “Say, let’s take a ride around with me and my “Moonlight Mustang” and I’ll show you a few popular places!”
Laughing, Lorrie said “Moonlight Mustang? What’s that???”
Toby smirked and said, “Just a bad-ass yellow Mach 1!”
“Ok!” said Lorrie and Jenny. “You want to go now?”
“Good vibrations yes!” answered Toby, and the three headed out to cruise.
After a few tire spins by Lendy’s to show off his sexy passengers, Toby asked, “Where do you live that’s so close you can walk to the Village Inn?”
Lorrie said, “We’ve got a  teeny tiny little efficiency apartment on Hildebrand Road...know where that is?
Toby chimed, “Of course!!!” Is it those little apartments across from the Thunderbird Club, and close to Arlan’s?”
“Yes! That’s it!” Want to come by?” replied Lorrie.
Those were magical words to Toby!
Driving the short distance one block  down Hildebrand Rd from Williamson Road, he and his two new lady friends pulled into the small three-story apartment building’s parking lot. It was getting late, and all of the parking spaces were already taken. The girls didn’t have a car as they used a cab to get back and forth to the airport, but it didn’t matter, there were no spots left. Sizing up the matter, Toby decided that since it was about 11:30 PM, no one would normally be coming or going, so he blocked in a little white Buick convertible sitting in the last spot next to the street. Going up the metal stairwell, it buckled with an annoying clang, as he and the girls, giggling, opened the door of the second floor unit. Going in, it was indeed very small, just one room that served as a living room/ dining room / bedroom with a folding sofa bed already opened up. Toby laughed at the sight and kicked off his shoes and fell across the rickety sofa bed. Jenny went to the small refrigerator and produced a bottle of cheap pop wine, and three small plastic cups. Then, Toby pulled a small bag of pot out of his sock and asked the girls if they wanted some..
“Oh, no, no,” said Lorrie...We can’t...they give us drug tests, and if we fail, we lose our jobs, so, no go right ahead, but not in here, OK? 
Toby rolled the little baggie back up, and said, “No problem.”
As the next hour or so wore on, he kept trying to get Lorrie to slip under the covers with him without luck. Jenny just kept listening to the radio and saying nothing. Getting a bit frustrated, as it was now 2 AM, Toby wondered where all of the sexual “mystique” about “airline stewardesses” came from as this was going nowhere. Just as he was about to get up and say “Good night!” a frantic pounding on the door startled him and the two girls.
Lorrie, looked at Jenny and Toby and raised her shoulders into a hunch of “What’s happening?” She opened the door to find her neighbor,  the very young husband of a couple living just on the other side of the wall from them, all flustered and anxious as he blurted out, ‘Whose yellow Mustang is that out in the lot?...It’s got me blocked in and my wife’s ready to have our baby!!!”
Toby, answering, said, “It’s mine..just hold on...have you called an ambulance?”
The young man  said frantically, “No!!!! We don’t have a phone, and anyway, we don’t have time to wait for an ambulance!!!!  See, she’s broken her water, and she’s in bad pain and needs to get there as fast as we can!!!!”
“Well, well, I-I- just a second, Mr. ah, ....Girls, I need to move and, shucks, hey Mr...I’ll lead the way, just get you and your wife in your car, and follow me, we’re get there pretty quick! Ya goin’ to Roanoke Memorial???”
“Yes, we are!!!” shouted the husband, turning and  bounding down the stairs.
Toby kissed a light bye-bye to Lorrie, and also bounded down the noisy clanging steps, as the husband already had his wife in the front seat of his Buick, ready to go. Since it was an early Wednesday AM, Williamson Road was fairly deserted, and Toby breezed ahead of the couple escorting them through mostly green-lights, and only ran through one red-light on the way, with horns blowing however, safely. Toby couldn’t go any faster than about 65 mph in the 45 zone, as the young husband following was hesitating going much faster in the older car. It would be quicker to just head south down Williamson Road, as to get on 581, required a right turn onto Hershberger and then about two miles to even get to the entrance ramp.
As they approached Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Toby turned off, right close to the Emergency entrance and gave the couple the thumbs up for good luck. The husband waved a “thank you!” in return.
With nowhere else to go, as he was still a bit hurt and mad at his Dad, he drove on out to his job, and curled up uncomfortably in the cramped backseat to sleep a bit, and be there on time  at 9 AM as he hoped  Eddie Thompson would surely come to work and wake him.

Chapter 37 “Let’s Celebrate!”

It was now Wednesday afternoon, June 30th, and after putting in a long days work, Toby was ready for a nap at home. He had gotten over the heated dinner table talk with his Dad, yesterday eve, as he kept hearing Ray’s words, “You know you’ve been welcome here, ...this has always been your home.”
Besides, he now has a great story on what kept him out last night, about escorting the expecting couple to the emergency room. His Dad, being with the police force would appreciate that!
All excited to tell them, Ray hadn’t gotten home yet, so Toby came home, told  Mom he just stayed over at his friend Freddie’s and as usual stretched out in his room until she called supper. At dinner he related the story proudly as Ray nodded and  said, “That’s good, son.”
After dinner and  going back out to cruise, which again was becoming more common on a weeknight since it was again summer, he felt pretty good, having smoothed out the difficulty at home. He made his usual runs out to Lendy’s and was driving back down Williamson Road and  pulled into the parking lot of the Mick-Or-Mack grocery store that had just closed for the evening, as it was a popular parking spot for cruisers to gather. As he parked he saw the same little white Buick Convertible of the expecting couple he had escorted to the hospital no more than eighteen hours ago, parked close to the store’s sign...As he looked he saw the young husband  stepping out of the Village Inn Pizza, across Williamson Road and was dodging the traffic to walk back over to Mick-Or-Mack.
“Hey, buddy!” the fellow waved at Toby as he came closer, saying loudly “I’m celebrating...I’m a new Daddy!!!”
“That’s great!!!”  said Toby...”Boy, girl, twins??? ha!?”
“Yep,” a healthy seven -  almost eight  pound girl!” said the new Daddy, obviously proud  and excited.  There were some other cars there that Toby knew and apparently so did the new Daddy, as one of the older guys driving a Plymouth Fury called the new Daddy over and  pulled a half gallon jug of Bourbon Supreme out of the trunk. He  poured “Daddy” a stiff drink. Before long, there was a group of “regulars” that were “anytime cruisers” pulling in for joining an evening of summer fun. This night, the “new Daddy” was the center of attention as all the guys were kidding him on, slapping him on the back, giving him a drink and a few more drinks...They told Daddy he wasn’t going to be doing any driving, since he was close enough to stagger home! Then, out of nowhere here came “Misty” and “Amber” Toby  had met at Village Inn from the summer before.  Looking very hot, with another year’s age added on, she was quite the charmer now. Talking to some of the other cruisers, Misty spotted Toby and gave him a cool long look, then tossed her hair as she turned away to return to the attention of the others...Toby stepped out and joined in the impromptu “New Daddy party,” as several cars had opened up their doors and were all loudly playing WROV on their radios.
The group “Chicago’s”  music hit “Twenty Five Or Six To Four” was on the top charts and  the song’s loud horn sections were echoing off  the closed store’s windows and walls.
More drinks were poured, more toasts were made and then somebody got out some “peace weed” as they passed the joint around to the girls and the new Daddy. It was a hilarious sight as the two hippy girls Misty and Amber got the new Daddy up into a “love-in style  whirling burlesque kind of bump and grind with him being the meat in the sandwich as “The Rolling Stones” big hit ‘“Brown Sugar” played. When the chorus of Mick Jagger’s “I say yeah, yeah, yeah, wooooooooooooo!!!!” everyone joined in a group “wooooooooooo!!!” to much laughter!
Toby was thinking if he ever became a father, would he get this type of reaction? It made him think about his own Dad...It was now about midnight and he decided he’d head on home, as a big thunderstorm was quickly coming, with bright flashes of lightning and booming thunder on this hot and sticky last night of June. He hated driving in the rain and getting “Moonlight” dirty.

Chapter 38 “To the Beach!!!”

This first weekend in July was full of excitement. Toby had laid low and went to bed for a good rest on Thursday and even early home on Friday because his friend Freddie had come up with a great idea....since July the 4th came on a Sunday, they both had Monday July 5th off. So, Saturday morning Toby drove over to Freddie’s and picked him up about 9 AM because they were going to drive to “Virginia Beach!!!”
Toby had loaded the trunk up with a tent he had from some earlier camping trips, some sleeping bags, a new cooler and some beer he got Pete to buy him.  He also packed a bunch of his favorite 8 track tapes in a shoe box and set them in the rear floorboard so he could get them out by simply reaching back and pulling any one out. He also borrowed Pete’s duffle bag putting in some swim trunks, suntan lotion and other beach needs.
He was right on time as Freddie came busting out in an excited dash carrying an old Samsonite suitcase. Luckily it fit in the trunk as Toby said they’d need the back seat if they were going to pick up any beach bunnies!
It was going to be about a 5 hour ride out to Sandbridge, a mostly undeveloped stretch of the Atlantic beach, south of the main Virginia Beach tourists area.  Toby was told there were cheap camping sights there, and even places to rent a surfboard...something he’d always wanted to try. He had visions of going someday to Venice Beach and Malibu, California where his rock n’ roll idols the Doors and the Beach Boys called home.
He and Freddie were enjoying cruising along the old US 460 East, being careful not to attract too much attention from the VA state police or the “county mounties” they’d probably pass along the way.
Out past Lynchburg they passed  by a roadside restaurant, specializing in fried chicken. Freddie busted out laughing as he pointed out the restaurant’s slogan was, “Bone Lickin’ Good!” an obvious play off of KFC”s well known “Finger Lickin’’ Good”
“Yeah, Toby, that’s what I want! A “bone-lickin’ beach bunny!!!” HAHAHAAHAHAHHHHA!” crowed Freddie.
“Well, keep it cool and you’ll do a lot better, just trust ole Toby!” About that time a deer ran out from the median strip in front of them and as Toby cut hard swerving to miss hitting it, the Mustang’s passenger side went off the shoulder of the road. Trying to correct,  he ran over either a big rock or an old log laying in the thick weeds on the road’s shoulder...whatever it was jolted the front hard and even worse as the rear fender landed hard on the passenger side big back tire, almost pulling the Mustang deeper into the shoulder...
“Oh shit!” yelled Toby.....getting the car back onto the hard surface. They were on a stretch of 460 without a place to pull over. Freddie looked out the passenger window towards the rear wheel, saying “Hey, you’ve got something flapping around back there!”
Toby spotted  a turn around ahead, pulling in and got out to examine the tire. Just like what had happened on his driver’s side rear tire the night of the “Loch Haven love in,” the chrome wheel trim had been torn loose from the scraping of the big tire. Cursing, he reached in, shutting of the engine and then opening the trunk for his small set of hand tools he always kept for any little service. He used a long shafted straight bit screwdriver  to pop the rivets out where the piece was left connected, and with an aggravated grunt hurled the twisted trim up over the road into a field. Looking over the tire, it too, had a few scrapes along its outer tread-wear, but again, not enough to have to trash the very expensive tire.
Squatting down and then getting on his back, to look under the rear axle, as Freddie watched for any approaching cars at the turnaround, Toby didn’t see  much real damage, just big scuff marks  to the tire and inner fender well lip.

Chapter 39  - “I Get Around”

Toby and Freddie made good time, but they ran into some bumper to bumper traffic as they got close to Virginia Beach. Toby was concerned about finding a good gas station, as his Mach 1 was always thirsty it seemed. Freddie found Virginia Beach Blvd on the map and figured from its look and length to be like Roanoke’s Williamson Road, with gas stations, shopping centers and fast food restaurants. He was right! They were close to a place called Pembroke Mall and a lot of cruisers of that area were out on the lots, just like at home. This road had those confusing “feeder roads” that ran parallel to the main Virginia Beach Blvd,  US 58. Finally figuring out the lay of these feeder roads, Toby spotted a big red Union 76 sign ball on the right, and took the feeder road over to it.
Pulling in to the high-test pump, as he fueled up  Freddie went inside to the toilet, and came back with some sodas and snacks. Several other cars at the car wash nearby were street machine types, Barracudas, Hurst Olds 442’s,  Camaro SS’s and such. Their owners were happily cleaning them up for the big 4th of July weekend.
“Did anybody know how far Sandbridge is from here?” asked Toby. “
Freddie answered “The guy inside says we’re still a good ways out, about fifteen miles...He said as we get closer to ask how to get to  ‘Five Mile Stretch.’  That road will take us to where we have to turn off for Sandbridge.”
Little did Toby or Freddie know that “Five-Mile Stretch” was a notorious street racing road at night, and very dangerous with only two lanes and  deep ditches lining both sides. It was also deadly in its history, as quite a few unfortunate drivers had found out.
Getting to Sandbridge, around 3 PM, they found there were no more spaces available at the campground, and so they decided they’d just “rough it,” by going to an open beach area, park close by, and hit the water for a while. They found a parking area close to a fishing pier, and just locked up the car, and carrying what they could went down to the beach. It was great!  They met up with a couple of girls, they found out were from Richmond. Talking about where was a fun place for the night, the girls said they were planning on going to the Virginia Beach hotel oceanfront to the Peppermint Beach Club, which was just about a block from another  fishing pier, where the fireworks would be shot off the next night. Toby didn’t know how to get there, and asked the girls if they’d show him where it was later.  Unfortunately, the one girl Dreama, that he had taken a liking too,  said they were with her family at a rented beach cottage, and that her parents would object to them just going off with two strange guys. The other girl, Sarah was Dreama’s friend from VCU college in Richmond.
However, the girls were all going to a restaurant later with Dreama’s family,  and the girls would possibly be at the club later with her older brother. Well, that wasn’t the scene Toby or Freddie was looking for...
He and Freddie hit the beach side cold shower, and toweling off, found the public restrooms a place for quickly changing  clothes for a night out at the beach’s night clubs.
Unknown to them, there was something happening that day would profoundly affect Toby.

Chapter 40 - ‘The Lizard King Dies”

It’s Saturday evening, July 3rd, so the Virginia Beach, VA oceanfront  is filling up fast with crowds looking for a July 4th ‘71 to remember. In great anticipation, Toby and Freddie cruised out from Sandbridge towards the tourists strip of the Virginia Beach ocean front. Neither had been there before, so they were just going on blind instinct, sort of like Toby’s movie favorites “Captain America & Billy” did  in their epic film “Easy Rider.”  Freddie was having a field day whistling at the many young women who were walking up from the beach, as the evening sun started setting to the west.



“Man, there’s a lot o’ chicks, here, T.O.!!!! We’re bound to find a couple of hot mamas!” said Freddie enthusiastically.


Toby just chuckled, looking at Freddie out of the corner of his eye, saying “Just keep it in your pants, OK?”


They drove north up the length of Atlantic Ave, and looking towards the ocean, in between the hotels Freddie spotted the famed Peppermint Beach Club that the girls in Sandbridge had mentioned.


As they got to the north end of the hotel district, Toby drove back south down Pacific Ave, and looking for a place to park pulled into a lot near an odd golf ball shaped building, called “the Dome.”  As he was just stepping out to lock “Moonlight” up, a guy came running up saying, “Hey Bud, it’s five dollars to park here!!!”


“What? Five dollars?” questioned Toby....


“Yeah, see the sign? Right there...Five dollars!” It’s the biggest summer weekend, dude!” said the guy raising his voice, as another car was waiting to get into a space.


“Oh, OK, got ya, ,  but I need to be sure nobody blocks me in or anything!” said Toby seriously.


“No, this is a Mach 1, isn’t it?” said the guy now with a little less spit in his tone. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on it for you.” Say, here’s a buck back.”


“Great, uh, thanks...will I be able to come back if I have to leave?” asked Toby.


“Sure, if there’s a spot left, but as soon as it gets dark, it’ll be bumper to bumper out there, so I can’t guarantee that!” the lot attendant answered in a matter of fact tone.


“That’s OK,...How late can I park?” asked Toby.


“Well, I leave at 2 AM, so don’t be late! Have fun!” replied the lot attendant.


Grabbing a few hot dogs, fries and sodas at a beach side restaurant, he and Freddie were sitting  at the outside  picnic table when the radio  inside the restaurant kept playing “The Doors” classics, like “Light My Fire,” “Touch Me,” and several more. Being a huge Doors and Jim Morrison fan himself, in fact they were his favorites, he thought that odd, so he was now curious and listening intently as the fifth Doors song in a row, “Break On Through,”  wound down.


Then in an unusual “quiet pause” for any rock n’ roll radio DJ, the announcer said “Yes....we’re sorry here at K94 to tell you listeners  it’s true, Jim Douglas Morrison, of The Doors... was found dead in Paris, France earlier today, at the young age of 27 years old.  We don’t know yet what happened, or the cause, but the UPI news has confirmed, Jim Morrison, dead this July 3rd, 1971...and now, here’s another Doors big hit, “People Are Strange.”




Toby just sat there frozen...eyes wide in complete shock...Freddie facing him from the other side of the table noticed all of a sudden something was terribly wrong with him. He hadn’t even noticed the radio playing and so didn’t know if Toby was choking, or having some sort of an attack, like the stiff pose of a person ready to pass out.


“Hey, T.O.,!!!! You OK? What’s wrong?????” said Freddie, startled at the strange look in Toby’s eyes...


Toby slowly lowered his head, looking down at his food, half eaten, saying nothing.


“Com’on buddy, what’s the matter?” pleaded Freddie, trying to understand what could have suddenly affected him so..


“You heard, didn’t you? ...The radio guy said Jim dead...oh man”....sighed Toby.


“Jim Morrison’s dead? Huh? You sure?... I didn’t hear that!” said Freddie, in a surprised  loud manner.


A couple of girls sitting at another table were equally in shock at the news from the radio as one now had tears coming down her cheeks...Toby turned as he heard  her sobbing, got up and walked over to the girl in tears and held out his hand. She stood up and as strangers, surprisingly he and she hugged without talking  as they both cried.


Freddie walked over to the other girl, shaking his head, and said “Hey, I don’t know why that’s such a terrible thing, I mean,  for my buddy and your girl friend there...Everybody lives life fast in rock n’ roll,  Jimmy Hendrix died, so did Janis Joplin, only a few weeks  apart last year,  ...even Buddy Holly, too, back then!”


“Yeah, I know, she liked them, and Jim Morrison,  and had been to some of their concerts...where you guys from?” asked the girl.


“Roanoke, VA. We’re good ole Virginia boys!” answered Freddie...”and you???”


“We’re from Fairfax...near DC, know where that is? Oh, I’m Pam, she’s my friend Sandy. We go to JMU in Harrisonburg... Are you guys in college?” asked the young lady.


“Us? Oh, no, we’re just friends at work, and out where we go ‘cruising’ on Williamson Road all the time.” answered Freddie...”Say, you girls camping? Or what?” asked Freddie,


“Heck no!” laughed Pam...”We’ve got a hotel room down on Laskin Road, at the White Heron, not too far from here”...


Toby and the other girl Sandy had dried each other’s tears, as they talked quietly about their favorite Jim Morrison songs. They had found quite by accident they both were big Doors fans, and so having that in common, had an instant rapport. It was now dark, about 9 PM as the boardwalk lamps had already come on.


Now clear-eyed, Toby asked, “Freddie, you still want to go to the Peppermint Club? about you girls? Go with us???”


“Sure!” said all three in a chorus. Pam said, “It’s not that far, only about five blocks from here. Let’s walk on the boardwalk!” With that, all four walked south to the Peppermint.


Getting there, they found it was already  a fairly long line waiting to get in, but while waiting they talked with each other as they could hear the band inside already making the walls shake with the fun sounds of “beach music.” Finally getting to the door, Freddie paid for all of their door charges, as the doorman checked IDs and took the cash...Inside all of  the tables were filled, so they still had to stand, leaning against a drink rail, as it was like the expression, “standing room only.”  Toby went to the bar and brought back four beers, and wasn’t carded as this club was a lot looser than at home and catered to the college-aged crowds.


Having quite a bit of fun, and young, it was a fine time to be alive...The band even mentioned Jim Morrison’s death that day, and as they did Toby raised his beer in a toast to ‘The Lizard King.”


Chapter 41 - “Moonlight Drive”


Feeling a bit of mixed emotions on the events of this July 3rd night, Toby was both happy and sad. The dance club had been a great distraction from the sad news of his rock n roll idol’s passing. Leaving ahead of the huge crowd at the Peppermint, it was now only a few minutes after midnight, in the first hour of the “Fourth.” In the cool night air, there were little pockets of fireworks lighting up the beach sky ahead as the four of them, him, Sandy, Freddie and Pam walked back north to where their cars were, by chance in the very same lot as well.  He and Sandy were holding hands as they walked slower behind, singing their favorite Morrison tunes in a duet-style, as Freddie and Pam just looked at each other with big smiles. Getting to the lot, the attendant just grinned  at Toby, joking “I had to keep a dump truck from sideswiping ya!”


Getting first to Toby’s “Moonlight” both of the girls were all coo-ing over the bright yellow beauty. Sandy asked about the scoop in the hood, and Freddie quipped it was “an automatic vacuum-powered bug catcher, to keep them from squishing all over the windshield!”  Toby laughed at his friend’s zany sense of humor.


Having never been to Virginia Beach before,  he asked Sandy if they could possibly follow her and Pam to Laskin Road, in hopes of getting an offer to “come by.”


Sandy was quick to answer “Well, sure, you can follow us, and stop by the motel, if you like, if ...that’s OK, with you, too, Pam”...”Besides” she said, in a whisper, “we’ve got some pot, if you smoke...marijuana, I mean!”


Toby was all cool, and said, “Hey sugar, takin’ a toke, that’s my thing! Who’s car is it...yours or Pam’s?”


“Pam’s”  replied Sandy, pointing at a new blue  Plymouth Duster.


“That’s great! You can ride with me in my car, and Freddie can ride with Pam in her car, so we don’t get lost, either way!”...and I’ll play you my Doors 8 tracks, OK?” he said in his smooth style.


“Yeah, that’s groovy!” and with that Sandy told him exactly what he wanted to hear.


As they got to the White Heron Hotel, Pam parked as close as she could to her room, and Toby took a space next to her on the far end of the parking lot, as the parking lot was full of cars, on this big summer night. He still had a few beers in reserve in his cooler so he got it out. With everyone in the room, Sandy said, “I’m afraid to smoke any pot here in the room...somebody might smell it and call the cops!”


“Aw, I don’t think that’ll happen!” Just fire that doobie up!” said Freddie eagerly, pulling out his Zippo lighter, flipping it open with a clack.


Toby suggested, “Well, it’s not too late, only about 12:30,  we can go back to the beach, where there’s not a lot of people...go walking in the sand, take it easy on the shore. I’ve got a blanket to sit on. Let’s all go in my ‘Moonlight,’ besides, I’d enjoy playing “Moonlight Drive” while we get there. . .looks like the moon’s getting close to full, it’ll be sweet!”


Pam chimed in, “Yeah, that’s sounds great!”


Freddie stifled a frown as he shrugged his shoulders, motioning  “OK” but he would have much rather stayed there with Pam, in the chance for some summer romancing...he and Pam had kissed while awaiting the red lights on Atlantic Ave., so there was hope.


Driving along with the ocean breeze blowing in, and The Doors “Moonlight Drive” serenading the adventurous foursome, they drove further north up Atlantic Ave, looking for an open spot close to a beach entrance without a “No Parking” sign. Finding a nice space up about 79th street, they parked, walking down to the beach, fairly visible in the clear moonlight. Getting settled in, away from another group partying around a bonfire about 500 feet away, they had the beach pretty much to themselves. Without any lighting other than Freddie’s lighter, they enjoyed the pleasure of getting high on the grass that Sandy had gotten back home. Laying back they were snuggling and kissing as new lovers would.


Chapter 42 “Every Town Has A Dead Man’s Curve”


As the summer night- early morning of July 4th grew very quite, except for the sound of the surf,   they all were startled by the terrible scream of skidding tires and a big crash, that actually crashed two more times, not like an echo, but as three complete different crashes, the first one very loud, followed by another, not as loud, and the third one more as a dull thud, followed by eerie  tinkling sounds, just up on the beach road, Atlantic Ave.


Worried about his “Moonlight” Toby gathered himself up, and told Sandy, Freddie and Pam  he’d go see what was happening...As they were waiting, in only a few minutes the three still down on the beach blanket heard shouts coming from across the sand dune, as the faint sounds of sirens  started getting closer and louder.


Freddie, now standing, silently motioned for the girls to get up as well, as he rolled up the blanket. He knew something  bad had happened, for he knew too well the sound of a car crashing...


Coming up from the beach, they saw Toby running back in their direction, yelling at Freddie to “stop there, with the girls!” ...A crowd of locals and tourists had gathered with flashlights  as traffic was stopping and pulling off the shoulder of Atlantic Ave, to make room for police cars, an ambulance and a fire engine all just about arriving at the same time.


Right up Atlantic Avenue, about a  thousand feet further north from where Toby had parked at 79th Street was  the street that led to the  entrance to the Fort Story Army Post.  At the intersection Atlantic Ave ended, veering off sharply to the left, almost at a 90 degree angle and then through another close sharp curve to the right, making a very dangerous “S” curve heading west to become US 60 Shore Drive.  Shore Drive had a very dangerous stretch,  that was about a 6 mile section of road through the undeveloped  forest of Seashore State Park.


The young soldiers stationed at Fort Story, and the sailors, too, from the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base further west on Shore Drive,  were apt to be lured into high speed driving down these lonely lanes at night, and bad crashes were a common thing, but especially bad as the road, when going north to south towards Virginia Beach had that very sharp and sudden left curve and then a sudden right curve” lay to it, and fairly often, cars that could make it through the first curve, would then lose control into the second curve because of the over-correction.


This was one of the bad ones, as the crashed car made it through the first curve, then failed to make  the second curve. Coming out of the last curve it had over-steered, throwing the car into in a  a barrel-like driver’s side roll flipping three times into a tangled mess, barely recognizable as a 68 Plymouth GTX. The fellow driving it was thrown from the car probably on the last flip as the car disintegrated, and killed instantly.


Toby was among the first people to get there, and the poor victim was laying mangled in a pool of his blood, about 50 feet further and closer to them, out on the road.  That was why Toby was trying to stop Freddie and the girls from seeing such a horrible sight. It was too late, as they all saw the EMS workers tending to the body, under the blaring spot lights of the ambulance and firetruck.


Needless to say, the four of them sobered up quickly as they returned to the hotel, with the shadow of death again hovering over what should have been a night of celebration.


Chapter 43 - “Back Home”


The next morning was the 4th of July, and as Toby and Sandy had comforted  and helped each other make it through the night, the night didn’t have the rewards of “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.”  Freddie and Pam, had a “kiss and a promise” of hugging through the night.


They all went to a local pancake house down on Atlantic Ave for breakfast, but again, it was a long wait, having to stand out in a line in the hot summer sun. Toby was getting anxious to just get back home, as he got Sandy’s phone number and college address, and promised to come up to Harrisonburg  with Freddie and  sometime in the fall, all four of them could go out on the JMU college town.


After the late breakfast, it was getting close to noon, as Toby figured that if he told Sandy goodbye, he and Freddie could get back to Roanoke by 5 PM.  They would still have plenty of time to hook up with their own “cruisin’” friends for a July 4th celebration...besides, he had plenty of lady friends there.  Giving the girls a kiss good-bye, and with one last cruise down Atlantic Ave, Toby had “LA Woman” blasting out of his Mustang’s 8 track as he and Freddie headed for Rt 460, the highway home.


It was getting later on July 4th, 1971 and after the 5 hour drive back, Toby listened through every one of his Doors 8 tracks tapes, silently mourning the loss of his “leader” Jim Morrison from the evening before. The music of The Doors and Jim Morrison’s haunting vocals were the backdrop to his recent excursion into the party world of wanting a beer or a whisky at any time, day or night.  He was also anxious to get Freddie back home, and drop him off as he’d had just a bit too much of his buddy in one stretch. Freddie was a good friend, but his nature  of being overly loud had started to get on Toby’s nerves. Remembering the good luck he had at Lendy’s Lakeside in Salem on the 4th last year meeting the three foxy ladies Alice, Betty and Libby,  he figured he’d do much better on his own for some “hot summer nights.”


He decided after he dropped off Freddie he’d swing back by his house, and if Mom and Dad were there, at least he’d get some good food for a change...However, as he got home, no one was there, and he found a note on the refrigerator  from Mom saying “Pete, Toby, if you get back and we’re not here, we’ve gone out to the F.O.P. picnic...there’s hamburgers wrapped in plastic inside”...Mom was always providing.


Opening the refrigerator, he grabbed a fast burger, chugged  a beer, and  then got out the garden hose and washed as much of the summertime bugs off his Mustang’s windshield and front-end as he could. Then did likewise for himself with a much needed hot shower. Letting his “Beach Boy” shag of  hair dry, he ate another burger, sloshed down with a beer while he pondered on the night’s direction.


It was about 7 PM when he wheeled out heading out to Williamson Road, to find whatever action he could. He knew from the radio there was a big dance party at Sound City, and being 20 now, this would be his last summer of being able to enter, so first he’d check out the action for a “cute cruisin’ girl” to go riding with. He still had some beer on ice in the old trusty Playmate cooler.  Lately, and since back in the spring,  he had gotten into the habit of getting the older guys to also buy him the “hard stuff” and he’d carry a fifth of bourbon wrapped in a towel to keep it from breaking in his trunk. He enjoyed drinking a big shot of bourbon chased with a cold beer, and it was becoming more and more frequent, but he figured if he wasn’t drinking while he was behind the wheel, he was alright to drive a short time later. Tonight,  if  he was particularly  lucky, he’d find a girl who also had some “good weed.”


Pulling up outside Sound City with the song “Love Me Two Times” blasting,  Toby saw Judy, another somewhat “hippy” girl he knew, who at only 19 was dating older men and even some married guys, and he knew she would be a great party girl for tonight. She was definitely “on the move’ wearing those crazy new “hot-pants” that were basically wide-legged short-shorts and were particularly tantalizing as these hot-pants offered a peek-a-boo look at a young lady’s “peaches.”


Turning down the 8 track’s volume, he shouted “Hey, hot-pants!!!” as Judy turned in recognition of that bright yellow “Moonlight Mustang.”


“Yeah, dude!!!” answered Judy, as she strutted over and just climbed into the front bucket seat matter of fact, as though  she was expecting him all along. Judy was the kind of girl every guy wanted to meet, easy, good looking, no “personal” questions, and the attitude of “let’s just go party!” Toby figured she was ready for some fun for sure, so he launched out onto Williamson Road ready to show off with his driving manner. Heading north towards Lendy’s Williamson Road, he stopped for the red-light at the Gold Nugget Cafe on the right.


He was soon egging on the driver of  a blue ‘70 Z28 Camaro that had just pulled alongside with Cragars wheels and those high-performance accessory traction bars all visible, beefing up that car’s rear haunches. He knew this car, had seen it run and win a few respectable  “red light races” and figured, “Hell, let’s race!” As both he and the other driver watched for the tell-tale yellow caution light to announce the light was about to go green, Toby hot-braked and took off in a nice cloud of squalling tire smoke as the Camaro tried, but just couldn’t stay nose to nose. As they both came to a skidding stop at a red light about two blocks down,  for grins he had thrown his right arm over Judy’s bossom as if to restrain her, but basically a ploy  just to feel her breasts and found quite surprisingly she had actually pulled up her tube top,  exposing her ample breasts teasing the guy in the other car! No wonder the other guy missed the take off!


He laughed like a madman at this, palming her firm nipple in his hand and  said, “Hot-pants, let’s make a little pit-stop” as he bolted down a side street  towards home. Just as he had hoped, no one was home yet. Parking in his usual street-side spot in front of his house,  Judy had pulled out a joint she had tucked into her pants pocket, and they smoked  half of it while he looked around to see if any neighbors might be out or watching. 


Seeing the coast was clear he quickly  got Judy inside and introduced her to his little single bed upstairs he’d had since he was was the first time he’d ever had good sneaky sex in this house and being high added to the “getting caught” excitement and danger he seemed to invite. After all, his Dad was a Roanoke City policeman, and he was surely street-wise enough to know marijuana if he smelled it burning. Toby and Judy were enjoying a “high quicky” and just as they were rolling out of the sweaty sheets, they soon were tidying up themselves. Toby tried straightening  out his damp and sticky bed sheets, and was disposing of his used “party goodies,” when they heard his Mom and Dad drive in. Scurrying, they checked each other over, and Toby pulled up his shirt collar to try and conceal that hickey he had just gotten...Scooting quickly down the short stairs, he and Judy were standing in the kitchen doorway.


Mom, first in, wasn’t surprised at Toby being there, as they saw his car on arrival, but when the sexy little hot-pants-wearing Judy peeked out around his shoulder, Mom gave a startled and disapproving glance at him. Dad came in and said, “Oh, we didn’t expect to see you tonight...what happened to Virginia Beach?...Not in any trouble are ya?” Oh, hi there, Miss, two been drinking??? Son, your eyes look like two sore assholes....and hers does, too!”


Sarah slapped at Ray’s arm exclaiming, “Ray, please... that’s vulgar, don’t say that! I’m sorry for that ugly language, Miss”


Toby replied confidently “Oh, no sir, just a few beers earlier.” ...and earlier we were standing too close to a smokey ole BBQ pit and the stinky smoke burned our eyes.” Toby was quick with a creative lie, as he always was pretty sharp as a talker...when he wanted to be.


““Well, Dad, Freddie and I just wanted to come back early and now I had a date with her, Judy, and just stopped to see if you and Mom were home...We had just come inside when you pulled up.”


Sarah had opened the refrigerator  getting ready to offer him and Judy something to eat when she noticed the two hamburgers were gone.


‘“But if you just got here, when did you eat the two burgers?”  she asked. Being still “a little high” and thinking he was just about caught in a lie, he remembered to say that  “he actually got home early enough to eat and shower.” That said, he quickly shuffled Judy out the kitchen door to avoid any more questions.  Even as Mom was asking if and when would he’d be back, Toby offered  “I’ll be back later,” and back out he, Judy and the Moonlight Mustang headed for the strip and more rambunctious 4th festivities...


Chapter 44 - “Miss Virginia Comes To Town”


Back to work on Tuesday July 6th, Toby joined Freddie in the lunchroom at Double Envelope. Freddie was telling him about all the unlucky mischief he’d gotten into yesterday, the 5th, as it was a paid holiday for them and they were all off from work.  Freddie complained that he’d gotten a speeding ticket on Peters Creek Road by showing off in a full throttle burnout sprint in his Camaro past the Orange Market close to Northside High School. Lucky for him it was just out of the school zone.


Roanoke County Sheriff Deputy Cline had clocked him doing 60 in the 45 MPH zone and pulled him over  at the Peters Creek and Cove Road intersection. This was no “warning” this time as Deputy Cline had given him the reason of a doubt, before, but this time it was an out and out case of willfully speeding in broad daylight.


Trying to cheer him up, Toby suggested after work they should get together at Mr. Moe’s hamburger joint  and then they’d drive down in the Mustang  to the Hotel Roanoke for something to do.


“Why there? There’s nothing there for us?” asked Freddie....


“Because.....there’s gonna be about..... a hundred hot-looking babes there from all over the state...for the Miss Virginia Pageant this week, dummy! I heard Dad tell Mom that  the police were going to provide extra security, but we can still go have a look...maybe there’ll be a “Miss Hillbilly” for you!!! laughed Toby. Besides, I know a lot of the City police, they’ll let me get in for a look anyway!


“Sheeeeeeeeiitt, yeah, I’m on for it...Freddie now had a smile back on his face.


Motoring down to Hotel Roanoke after work, Toby and Freddie noticed there was quite a lot of activity going on close to the main entrance, so they parked in the lower lot and just walked up. Oh yes, the girls were all decked out, as there were reporters taking photos of some of them arriving. One of the older police officers recognized Toby and motioned him and Freddie over.


“Hi, Officer Hambrick, how’s it going?” greeted Toby as he walked up to the velvet ropes cordoning off the reception area.


“How do you think, Toby? Just fine and dandy!” quipped Officer Hambrick with a smile, obviously enjoying the view himself. “My, my, what I’d give to be 21 again!”  Toby agreed with a chuckle, as Freddie just nodded to the girls as they’d walk by him and then cut a glance towards him. Freddie  was basically judging the beauties for himself, sending silent signals in expression of which of the girls he deemed the prettiest. This was indeed a pleasant distraction.


Suddenly Officer Hambrick’s police radio crackled with a report of  a car crash on 460 East,  not too far from the Hotel. As the bulletin came in, the dispatcher stated fire and rescue squads were on the way.  Basically the “beauty parade” was over as most of the girls had just gone inside, so Toby thanked Office Hambrick, slapped Freddie on the shoulder and said, “Let’s go see where the crash is. “


As they were making their way to the Mustang they could hear the sirens heading down Orange Avenue towards the crash.  The accident was only a one-car crash, but on arriving at the scene he and Freddie both instantly recognized the car..It was a metallic blue 1967 Chevelle SS 396, and it had apparently gone down into a roadside ditch and then flipped onto its roof, with its wheels  now up in the air looking almost like a dead animal. 


It was one of the faster “muscle-cars” on Williamson Road, too, and had the extra speed equipment such as header exhaust pipes, slotted mag wheels with the big tires on the rear, much as Toby had on his.  They knew the driver, too, Chuck, from neighboring Botetourt County, who came out cruising mostly on the weekends.  Luckily, the driver’s side had sustained the least damage and had not totally caved-in the driver side roof. Most importantly the gas tank hadn’t ruptured, either. The medics were able to get Chuck out quickly, attending to him on a stretcher. Chuck was sitting up, apparently only sustaining some nasty cuts and bruises.


Toby knew better than to try and talk with Chuck while the medics were tending him, so he just gave him a thumbs up, and a head nod...Toby and Freddie then looked the car over and noticed the rear passenger tire was completely flat, but still on  the rim and pondered that he must have had a high-speed skid, and just lost complete control. He and Freddie looked at each other and shook their heads in agreement that they were glad it wasn’t them!


Chapter 45 - “Strawberry Shortcake”


The summer month of July 1971 had quickly turned into August, and there were many more “close calls” as Toby got more brazen in his cruising escapades. What was fueling this recklessness was his romance  with the bottle and it seemed like he was always carrying a beer in his hand or had some close by in the ever present cooler in the trunk. The bottle of bourbon became a regular feature as well, and he liked to read and hear about Jim Morrison’s legendary drunk binges...Call it anti-hero-worship, or whatever, he considered himself to be a dark and worldly man, like Morrison, and fashioned himself to the lifestyle of  “partying  till the dawn.”


This “night-crawler drinking” was beginning to seriously affect his job, as in several instances he called in sick on more than one Monday that summer, and his boss remarked that it was getting noticed, too. On those “lost Mondays” he would act like he was getting up and going to work, but to fool Mom, Dad and Pete, he would  drag himself out of bed, hangover and all, and drive out in the morning with that beach blanket in the trunk , and go down to a city park and nap in the grass under a tree.


Even his friend at work Freddie suggested “Hey, Ya better cut back on the drinkin’ son!!!” Figuring one way to keep from over doing it, he’d cut back to maybe only partying Friday and Saturday nights, and sober up on Sundays...Mom and Dad didn’t see him “teetering” as he’d always be sober when he left out to go cruising, and most Fridays and Saturdays, he’d just stay out, like a tomcat after dark.


He also figured that the younger teenager girls of 16, 17, 18 years old were much less apt to be drinking or asking for the hard liquors, so he now made the teen club Sound City his social circle..Besides, as before, he was now 20, and next year he’d be 21.


This Saturday night of August 7, 1971, had a strange and different feel to it...He wasn’t too wound up, and had only drank  a few beers. Stepping into the blinking psychedelic  lighting at the Sound City club, he was greeting by all of the regulars as a sort of “King of the Hill” in being an older guy, with a good job, money and a flashy car with an attractively “naughty”reputation. The girls all wanted to be “the girl” that he would dance with and then offer a wild and adventurous ride out on the town. This night he spotted his long time girlfriend who was more of a buddy than a romantic conquest, Becky Wallace, and she and some friends were sitting in a small circle of chairs beside the dance floor. She invited him to join in.


As Toby came in to sit down he noticed this one very quiet, almost motionless girl with long curly  “strawberry blonde” hair. She was very pretty, not overtly sexed-up, without dramatic eye makeup or suggestive clothes,  and looked very modest, actually sweet. He was immediately attracted to her because she was a different cut from most of the girls there. Her clothes were sharp, clean, and very tasteful, and with her  sitting there in her silent demeanor  she almost seemed  like a live store display mannequin at the Sydney’s store at Crossroads Mall.


Becky introduced everyone, but the only one he didn’t know yet was the pretty  strawberry blonde. She was Lisa Ann Johnson, and she lived over on Kennedy Street, only about a half mile from Sound City. Becky and her lived only about 500 feet from each other on different blocks of Kennedy Street, that was bisected by Fugate Road.  Even though Becky and Lisa Ann hadn’t gone to school together, they were friends from the close proximity of  their neighborhood....Lisa Ann lived only a block from the different school district  that would have her going to Patrick Henry High School instead of the closer William Fleming High School. She and Becky were both seniors for the upcoming new school year, class of ‘72.


Toby took an immediate liking to Lisa Ann and asked her to dance...As they got up and danced prom-style slowly to “Crystal Blue Persuasion” Becky motioned to her friends “Would you look at that...there’s some  love going on there.” Instead of asking Lisa Ann if she wanted to go riding as he would any other time or with any other girl, he stayed there talking with her, and laughing, enjoying her company.  It was now close to  11 o’clock, as Lisa Ann  said her and Becky would have to be leaving.


He asked if they had driven there, and Becky said “Yes,” as she had driven her Corvair the short distance over. Toby quickly asked Lisa Ann if she wanted to go out riding now with him instead of going home, but she said she couldn’t and  thanked him,  as her Mom wanted her home shortly.  Toby asked for her phone number before she left, so Lisa Ann walked over to the snack bar and wrote it down on a napkin. As she came back and handed it to him he noticed she had put a little lipstick kiss-mark on it next to her name. He just smiled, folded it gently and put it in his shirt pocket, very happy in the romantic touch of that. He walked her and Becky out to Becky’s car. As Lisa Ann was getting in, opening the door, Toby leaned over, kissed her gently on the lips, saying “You’re sweeter than strawberry shortcake.” At that, her and Becky both giggled, as Becky started her car. Toby was surprised with himself at how goofy, yet sincere that sounded coming from him, a fellow who considered himself a member of the “4-F Club.”


Lisa Ann smiled, and pushed down the door lock button. He was surprised at that motion as her passenger side window was down, but reading the look he gave her, she said,”It’s just a habit...I always lock my car doors”...With a honk of Becky’s  Corvair’s horn and a wave to each other, Toby watched them drive off...


Chapter 46 - “I’m Not Going To Live Long”


It was now the next week of August, and soon it would be the  15th, the second  anniversary of Woodstock. Roanoke had been a-buzz this summer with some of the rock n’ roll tour shows that were now big attractions and  you could hear the featured national bands’ songs blaring from the car radios this evening on the Strip, promoting this or that concert at the Roanoke-Salem Civic Center.


Toby had always wanted to see “The Doors” in concert, but now that Jim Morrison had died, he began to contemplate his own mortality...One of Jim Morrison’s famed quotes was “No one gets out of here alive,” and several of his songs  hinted at his early demise. Some of his regular girls had talked about Toby’s darker moods of recent time and his telling them the somber personal message “I’m not going to live long,”  but they attributed that to just trying to be melodramatic for attention...He also related to James Dean, and his way-too-early death from a terrible car crash. Those who drive deadly, will probably die that way...but, not tonight!!!


This  evening of August, Friday the  13th, 1971, the local rock n’ roll radio station WROV was having lots of fun inviting listeners to come out to their remote broadcast at Woolco Department Store at Crossroads Mall and try their “luck” at winning tickets to the upcoming “Black Oak Arkansas” band’s rock concert at the Roanoke Salem Civic Center. They had brought out some framed mirrors and safety glasses, and some tennis balls allowing anyone to try and break a mirror on Friday the 13th to win two tickets. The obvious thing was, you’d have to throw mighty  hard to break a mirror with a tennis ball at a distance of 20 feet, so in effect this was a strength or skill  challenge. Toby was becoming a big fan of this recently up and coming hard rock band, and always turned up the songs like “Hot and Nasty” full volume whenever they’d play on the radio. While driving home from work he was listening, and decided that would be a great thing to try and maybe win and if so, maybe take the girl he just met, Lisa Ann, to later that fall.


As it was on his way home, he pulled into a nearby parking space, and strolled up to the small crowd gathered outside in the space the radio station had in front of the store. He watched as the radio personality egged on several frustrated attendees trying their best to break the mirror with a hard throw. Toby had seen the techniques of many throwers at Lakeside’s Midway of carnival-style skill games and so stood back watching and figuring what he could do differently to break the mirror and win.


Several big-armed young fellows were up in a line, each encouraged by their ladies and buddies to “smash that mirror,” on their turn and one by one hurtled cannon-strength pitches at the 2’ x 2’ plate glass mirror, but the tennis balls bounced back just as furiously, the mirror unharmed. Toby watched with interest as he figured some extra ways to add speed and power to a pitch. Finally after watching a dozen or so fail, even with the most powerful of throws, he had joined the line.


The DJ had asked each contestant their names with the microphone in hand, broadcasting live to bring in the busy Friday evening  traffic. Now a considerable crowd had gathered to watch the fun.


‘Hello, sir, what’s your name?” asked the DJ.


“Toby..Toby Owens.” he answered politely.


“Think you’re going to break that mirror here at Woolco’s Lucky Friday the 13 Sales Day?” quipped the DJ.


“I dunno...maybe,, does it count as long as I can break that mirror with this ball?” asked Toby.


“Sure, come on dude, and give it your best shot!” smirked the DJ.


Toby approached the pitching  zone area and being right handed, took the unusual stance of standing  off-center as far to the right of the laid-out pitching zone as he could. Sizing up the very far right side of the mirror that was standing upright in its frame, he slowly took a solid stance as the DJ kept quipping, wise-cracks like, “Oh, boy, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got a pro here, better watch out for shattering glass, stand back and give this cannon shooter all the room you can!” The DJ had been taunting all contestants, big, little, man or woman, and no one had been able yet to claim the prize.


Toby ignored the DJ’s cute and mocking  remarks as he stood silently and poised himself into a snake-like coil.


The crowd noticed his peculiar stance, and the odd slow manner he was taking and began to shout “Toby!...Toby!..Toby!!!” 


He arched back and rocketed his pitch not at the mirror, but at the small stand erected just behind the mirror to deflect the balls. In a flash the bright yellow tennis ball bounced solidly back off the wall and directly in behind the mirror, like a bank shot in billiards, knocking it totally out of its frame from the back as it slammed forward out onto the pavement in front shattering into about a dozen pieces.


The crowd went into a big cheer as the DJ sheepishly remarked, “Well, the rules were if it breaks, you win, and that was quite a trick, fella, knocking it forward onto the street, so now  that’s over! Here ladies and gentlemen,  Toby Owens wins the Black Oak Arkansas tickets and the “Black Oak Arkansas” 8 track  from Woolco’s music department!”


Toby grabbed the microphone and said, “Hey Strawberry Shortcake, I got these for you!”


Chapter 47 - “Hot n Nasty”


Raising the prize tickets and the  8 track into the air like a trophy, he strutted through the crowd over to his Mach 1, and got in, putting the new 8 track into the Mach 1’s player. Clicking  on the most popular track, “Hot and Nasty,”  he cranked it way up loud and on his way out did a small burnout from the parking lot, as most of the crowd cheered and some apparently disgruntled losers “booed.” Friday the 13th had been  pretty good so far!...


It didn’t take long for him to get home and bouncing quickly up the stairs washed the hot August day at work off. Finishing up, he came downstairs to find Pete at the kitchen table with Mom and Dad as they sat back with the fan blowing air around the room that came out of the little window air conditioner.  Everybody was very quiet as he noticed Dad in particular was very moody.


“Hey, what’s happenin”? asked Toby to break the icy silence.


Dad Ray slowly turned to him and said, “Boy....I’d better start leaving those young girls alone!!!”


Toby stood surprised at his Dad’s remark and tone. “What do you mean, Dad?”


Ray rose up, and taking a deep breath, said in a low booming voice, “Some girl’s Daddy called your Mom and me a while ago and said if you go back over to their house or see his daughter again, Martha, I think he said was her name, as she’s only 16, and  he’d have a warrant taken out on you for rape!!!!....Damn it!!! What have you got to say about that, huh????!!!”


“M-M-Martha?...I don’t know any girls named Martha...I mean, I do, I mean, I haven’t seen any girl named Martha, what was the man’s last name?” asked a very shaken Toby.


Dad laid it out cold...“He said you picked his daughter up at the Mall and didn’t bring her home until 2 AM last week and that he came out of his house worried and found that you just left her sitting out in their carport passed out drunk...He was going to call last week, but didn’t have our number...Damn it, son!!!”


“Oh, no, wait a minute, I had a girl I met at Globe Records go riding with me on Thursday night, but she told me she was called “Lavendar” or something like that and that she was 18...Sure, we only had a few beers, but I didn’t take her home, ‘cause she didn’t want me too, and so she saw some friends out at Mr. Moe’s, and she got out and went with them around midnight.”  Toby was trying to defend himself with recalling correct times and locations. “Remember, Dad, Mom, you’re  bound to have heard me come home about 1 AM, so”....


“So nothin’!!! The man said she told him she was out with you, Toby Owens,  in your yellow car. Damn it! You could go to jail whether you did anything inappropriate with her or not!!! You’d better watch it! If you were to even get stopped by a patrol car and you’re with an under-aged teenage girl that time of night, and especially if you’re doing any drinking with her, you’re at the least contributing to the delinquency of a minor!!!...and that’s some serous business, Bud!!! And, if you get caught, and probably arrested, there’s not a damn thing  I could do about it!!! Me being a cop or not!!!.


Toby looked over at  his Mom Sarah, with her alarmed and concerned eyes, and he told her “Mom, I swear I didn’t do anything wrong!”  Sarah just quietly nodded, and motioned for him to sit for supper, but Toby  declined, saying, “I’m too upset to eat...sorry!” as he walked out the front door and then gently eased the creaking screen door closed. He needed to get back to his element, the nights of Williamson Road. Stopping at the Shell station he nervously called the new girl he met at Sound City, Lisa Ann, and asked the lady answering, apparently her mother, if she were home.


“No, she’s gone out with some of her friends tonight...can I tell her your name and a number?” asked the lady.


“No, no-mam that’s OK.” he answered as he figured more than likely she was again at Sound City. Having a bit of raw nerves over the family tension, he fired up the Mach 1 and pulled across Williamson Road over into the Pizza Hut’s parking lot. Parking and stepping out, he discretely got his bottle of Jack out of the trunk, looked around,  and had a few extra big shots, wiping the excess off his lips onto his hand, and wrapped the bottle  back up in its blanket.  Evening was setting in, so he now headed for Sound City...he needed to see that pretty new girl Lisa Ann again. Once more, “Hot and Nasty” was blasting out of his Mach 1’s speakers.


Chapter 48 - “Nobody’s Girl”


The teens were all lined up to go into Sound City as usual, and especially so this hot August night as summer was going to be over soon. Toby lucked out and got one of the last spaces and he noticed Becky’s  Corvair wasn’t there...Still, he figured she and her friend Lisa Ann may have walked down from their street, so he headed inside. Sure as he figured, there they were. He saw Lisa Ann’s eyes brighten as he walked in to say “Hi.”  Becky smiled and elbowed Lisa Ann in a teasing way...Becky knew there was something special about these two when they were close. “Hey, we heard you on WROV win those Black Oak Arkansas tickets, you lucky dog!!!” chided Becky...”Say, you got a pair of tickets, so ya got anybody to take with you?, hint, hint!!!”


He grinned a big grin and pulled out the two tickets, as several others at Sound City noticed him waving them again in that victory fashion. “Not yet,” he answered... maybe I’ll take my Mom!!!! as they all laughed at that absurd vision.


The music was already blasting, as a live band was throwing some hot dance numbers out for  the dance floor. Before they danced or just sat down, he wanted  to tell Lisa Ann he had called earlier, so he leaned over close to her ear to tell her above the clamor of guitars and drums. As the party lights moved across them, he noticed to his dismay she had a “hickey” on her pretty yet pale neck, and taking a swallow, he gently pulled one of her long red curls down to cover it over  with a disappointed glance.


Lisa Ann had forgotten she had been making out with another boy a few nights before, who was a lot more into her than she was into him, however when you’re 17 as she was, all romance has its purposes.


Blushing a bit,  Lisa Ann offered, “Oh, uh, I’m so embarrassed!” As she rolled her eyes down, very sweetly...  “That’s just a little something from the other night...I mean, I’m not seeing anyone, special, you know, I’m nobody’s girl.”


Toby let out a small sigh, and replied, ‘Sure, I know what ya mean, I’m nobody’s guy!” With that he pulled her up tight against him, as he said, “but I can be who you want me to be.”


Lisa Ann just stared up at him, caught up in a freeze-frame of  passion as she expressed her deep desire to know him much better only with her clear blue eyes.


Toby laughed, gave her a big open mouthed smooch and said, “Come on, let’s dance!” The band had started playing a cover of  “Get It On,” the thumping hit song by T-Rex. As they bumped and swayed to the beat, he was soon smitten with this most enticing girl, Lisa Ann. As they had a few more dances and laughs with Becky and a boy that was hanging around with her, Toby was soon wanting to get Lisa Ann off by himself. He wasn’t sure if she would drink beer or whiskey or rum, or what, so he whispered that he had something much better to drink out in his car, and “would you like some?” Lisa Ann laughed, and tossing her beautiful head back, said, “Oh yeah!.. But I’m driving!”


Not realizing she had a car, he asked, “What ya got? Your Mom’s car, or a Corvette? What?”


Lisa Ann said, “No silly, my Mom and Dad got me a Volvo so I could drive to school!”


“A Volvo?????!!!! Ha, that’s one of those weird little European jobs!” teased Toby...”Come on, take me outside and let me see your Volvo!”


Becky heard that and laughed so hard, she spit out her soda! “See your....Volvo???” Did you hear what that sounded like?!!! Oh, you’re naughty, Toby!!!, Hahhhahahhha!”


Lisa Ann  knew what Becky was alluding to, but not Toby, who just wanted to get her outside, and used that excuse of wanting to see her little car.


“Yes, OK, it’s not much, just looks like a little fat grey turtle” answered Lisa Ann. Again, Becky busted out laughing at that odd sounding reply!


With their arms around each other, Toby and Lisa Ann walked out into the sticky summer night, as he pointed over at the Volvo and nodded, and then pointed at his car saying, “I want to show you mine!” Walking with her around it as he explained why it was jacked up so high to clear the big racing tires to answer her question of “why.”. He pointed out it was a “muscle car,” meant to be driven fast and hard. Getting around to the back he opened the trunk and slipped out two cans of beer from the cooler, handing one to Lisa Ann.


She took it and said, “Well, I’m only 5 blocks from my house, so I guess one beer won’t hurt.”


Toby reached over and popped the pull ring off of each can, and as he opened the passenger door, he motioned for her to get in. As she slipped into the passenger seat he could see her shapely legs in the  courtesy lights, and couldn’t resist running his hands down her thigh as she gasped and he pulled her in close for a deep full  lover’s kiss. She warmly responded and they kissed again and again until he broke, and said, ‘Mmmm! What a kisser you are!’


Moving around both sides of his car, he cranked down both windows, and getting into  his driver’s seat, he got in and started the Mach 1 up with a thunderous response.


“Wait, where are we going? Becky’s still inside, she won’t know where I am!” said Lisa Ann in a concerned tone.


“Don’t worry, she knows you’re with me and that I like to just cruise around a little on Williamson Road...we’ll be back in just a bit.”


Lisa Ann pushed her door knob down, locking her door and then reached across Toby’s chest and locked his, too.  Even though it was summer and he  had just cranked down  the windows, Toby thought locking the doors seemed odd.


“What’s that for?” he laughed...


”It just makes me feel safer”...answered Lisa Ann...”I do that no matter what I’m riding in or who I’m riding with!”


Toby said, “Hold on, little girl,” as he rolled out onto Williamson Road, suddenly squalling the tires in a show off of sheer speed bravado as Lisa Ann grabbed onto his arm and squealed with the thrill of never taking off so fast in her life!


After taking Lisa Ann down on Airport Road to privately watch the airport spotlight move across the sky, he and she romanced some more, but there was no going “all the way” this night with this girl. She was different, and could put on the brakes when she wanted to...maybe that was what made her so compelling...not easy, by any means, and yet so tantalizing and tempting  at the same time. Lisa Ann had something very special, and he wanted and needed it very badly.


It was now getting a little late, so Toby took her back to Sound City and they found that Becky had already left, probably walking the five blocks home or maybe that other boy had a car and had taken her home. Lisa Ann said Becky and her sometimes walked down to Sound City, so she hoped Becky didn’t get mad. Toby suggested he follow her in her Volvo the short distance home, and she could just stop at Becky’s on the way and see if she was home yet.


Lisa Ann said that was a good idea, and so they drove out together, and stopped at Becky’s house. Yes, Becky had gotten home, wasn’t mad at all, and asked both Lisa Ann and him if they would like to come over to her house the next night for a party. It was going to be a time when Becky’s parents were gone, and they didn’t mind Becky having friends over. They even had finished off the house’s basement into a recreation room, with a pool table, a record - tape  player stereo, and even a pinball machine, too!


Toby gladly accepted this invitation, as did Lisa Ann, and he was happy he’d have another chance to romance the sweet girl he called “Strawberry Shortcake.” After all, she was “nobody’s girlfriend,” ....yet! This Friday the 13th had been quite lucky for the “Surfer Boy with the Moonlight Mustang.”

Chapter 49 - “Dog Days of August”

It was the next morning after Toby had seen Lisa Ann for the second time that Friday night, and like any other Saturday morning of recent times at the Owens' home, Mom was calling him to hurry down if he wanted a hot breakfast. Dad as usual was sitting in the living room having another coffee and reading the Roanoke Times. Toby was noticeably more chipper and bright eyed, as he had a good night’s sleep on a Friday for a change. Being he wasn’t out to the very late AM hours drinking or getting high off of whatever he would be offered out on the strip, his Mom even commented “My, son, you look very nice this morning!”
“Thanks, Mom!”
Dad lowered his paper and studied on Toby for a moment and said “Son, I’m just glad to see you’re not in the newspaper this, now, just hear me out. I wasn’t trying to be hateful with you last night at dinner. You’ve got to understand that. You’re mine and Sarah’s son, and we’d do anything for you, but I just hope you realize, you need to step back sometimes and take a good look at yourself, and what you’re doing...You only have this one life, and it’ll be good... if you’re good, bad... if you’re bad...I only want good in your life, understand?”
“Sure, Dad, I know, but that man that called you and Mom was wrong and..” Toby answered.
“Nope, that’s not going to change what I said, and I mean can get in real serious trouble with these young girls, so just think, won’t you??? OK, ENOUGH ON THAT...So, you know the drill, eat your breakfast and get that grass mowed! It’s going to be a scorcher out there and I don’t want it cut in the heat of the afternoon,” so have at it...
“Doesn’t Pete ever do anything around here??? I’ve never seen him cutting the grass, or...”
“He’s at work!!!” barked Dad, suddenly getting terse again.
“Yes Sir!!!” answered Toby as he took a big bite of Mom’s pancakes...
“Toby, you haven’t been out with us in a long time, won’t you go with us to visit family down in Danville this Sunday?” asked Mom...”They’d all love to see you!”
“Mom, maybe, but I’ll probably be out late tonight...there’s a party I’m invited’s here in town, so I might just stay over there. Say, how about Pete?.. Maybe he’ll go with you..”
“Pete’s  boss needs him to work today  and tomorrow...the whole weekend,”  returned Mom.
Toby already had started scheming that if Dad and Mom were going to Danville, they’d be gone from early morning to late night Sunday...and also since Pete would be working, too, maybe he might have a chance to try romancing and  seducing Lisa Ann, right  there at the house. His old bed upstairs could add another notch, as a place for delicious memories.
Being time was getting late, Toby jumped up and mowed the lawn double-time. After mowing the grass, he was soaking wet with  sweat, and began to feel a little dizzy. As he came in the house all red cheeked, Mom saw him gasping, and struggling to get off his shirt stuck tight to his skin, so she opened up the refrigerator and took out the ice trays and with a dish towel made him an ice bag. Seeing he needed to lay down, Sarah opened up the back door and cried out,“Ray, come quick, Toby's overheated!”
Dad was out on in the garage cleaning his rifle for the trip to Danville, as out on the family farm he and his cousins and uncles  enjoyed some target practice. Putting it down, he rushed in to find Toby sitting in the living room with his head hung down towards his knees to keep from passing out.
Ray got a good hold on his son, like a fireman’s  carry and then stretched him out on the couch, as Sarah applied the ice bag to Toby’s face and neck. Ray looked with deep concern at Sarah, as he talked gently to Toby, telling him he was going to be “OK, just breath nice and easy,” and not to pant and  hyperventilate. In a few minutes Toby had cooled down and the blush in his cheeks had faded. Sitting up, and shaking himself, Toby said, “Hey, I’m OK, just got a little too hot for a bit.”
Mom said “Maybe you need to stay home and rest tonight...there will be more parties you can go to.”
“No, no, I’m fine, really! Thanks Mom, thanks, Dad...really, I’m alright now, remember Mom, you said I looked ‘very nice’ at, really, I’m OK!”
Ray looked at his son with genuine love, and reached over and kissed him on his forehead, patting him on his face, saying, “You scared us there, boy, thought you were having a heat stroke or worse...sure you’re OK? Good thing you didn’t mow later this afternoon when it’s really old dog days out just rest...”

Chapter 50- “We’re Having A Party”

The next thing Toby knew it was 3 PM, and suddenly shaking himself awake he realized he’d gone upstairs after the overheating incident of the morning and taken a nap. Glad that he didn’t sleep any longer, he got up and did the “3 S,”  got out his best looking khakis and shirt and gave a good slap of British Sterling aftershave to his face and neck. Mom downstairs had heard him rustling about, and called up telling him to come get a sandwich and some iced tea. Toby loved his mother’s iced sweet tea, and he always looked forward to a nice cold drink of it with most meals.
Dad had finished cleaning his rifle and put it in his Fairlane’s trunk, and was now watching some TV. He always would look towards Toby in a kind of indirect way, a sideways look, to sort of conceal his watching.  Looking back at the TV,  Ray said over his shoulder “How ya doin'? Feeling better, son?”
“Yeah, Dad, lots better.” Even if he didn’t feel better, Toby wasn’t about to jeopardize   his going to the party at Becky’s...He knew there was going to be some fun hanky-panky there of some sorts, and he definitely wanted in on it. Eating his sandwich and finishing his tea, he was ready again for another hot summer night, him and the “Moonlight Mustang,” and since he was all spiffed up, naturally he wanted the Mach 1 to shine. So, with care, he washed it under the shade of the big tree out front, with love, applied some liquid wax for a quick touch-up, and admired it with a gleam in his eye...Tonight might bring him and Lisa Ann the chance for  making love.
On the way to Becky’s, turning down onto Kennedy Street, he could already see several cars he recognized from the strip all parked up and down in front of Becky’s house. There were two girls he knew, and some boys there he didn’t know, hanging out on the front porch smoking. As he found a safe parking space about 100 feet down, he got out and strutted with the cocky steps of a 2o-year old, acting with a bit of in- your-face machismo. Like nature calls, he was doing his “display” of being an available male to all of the females, and was getting himself prepared for the moment when he would hopefully see Lisa Ann and make a big entrance. The party was down the tight little staircase into the finished basement rec room of the small brick ranch, and he could hear the latest sounds of rock n’ roll ringing off the wood paneled walls, and there was Becky, laughing and jumping, with a beer in hand, as she was joking with two boys....and Lisa Ann. Lisa Ann was no longer in the pretty and latest clothes from Heronimus, as a  “Miss Deb Council”  girl, but was in a shockingly low cut pair of white hip-huggers and a red tube top, showing off her eye-catching  “girl’s volleyball team” physical shape.
“Hey everybody, Toby's here! shouted Becky, as this was the first time Toby had ever been to one of her “happenings.”
“Moonlight!” said one of the girls, as he nodded and came bip-bopping over to the bar and beer keg. He had started to let his hair grow longer, and now had the habit of opening up his shirt, leaving the top three buttons undone, in the manner of a rock star.
“Help yourself, Toby,”  offered Becky.  Everyone had either a beer or a bourbon and cola or screwdriver. There was a half gallon of Black Velvet bourbon on the bar, a fifth of Baquardi’s “Bat Piss” and some Seagram’s Seven, too, and a stack of throwaway plastic cups. The beer keg was sitting in a washtub on ice. As Toby first pumped himself a draft beer, the record player was pumping out some Grand Funk, and several of the boys and girls were doing a hilarious singalong to the lyrics, “Feelin’ alright, yeah, yeah,”....
Over in the corner, leaning back in a big beanbag chair,  an older “hippy head” known only on Williamson Road as “Harry” was twisting up a few marijuana joints. A couple of the girls were sitting cross-legged at the sides watching and waiting to light up. Toby stopped to say “hi” to Lisa Ann, but didn’t want to act too eager to occupy her time, so being cool, walked over and joined in the first passing of  the strong smelling joint. The girl on Harry’s left got the first toke after he made sure it was burning properly with his own first toke. The girl immediately started coughing, saying, “Hey man, that some rough shit!” Harry laughed as she quickly passed it off to the other girl as he said, “That’s right, it’s just gotten into town and it’s called “Chicken Shit,” ‘cause it stinks so bad!” The other girl, also started hacking, and reaching for her plastic cup of beer to try and cool her mouth. Now Toby, too, was laughing, and motioning that the girl ought to pass it his way. Taking a big brave deep toke, he strained as he kept the rancid hot smoke down his lungs as long as he could. Harry nodded, saying, “It’s good, ain’t it?” Letting out a gasp and a cloud of spittle laced smoke, Toby gave a thumbs up, as Harry took one more toke.
“Whew!”  said Toby and smiled at the two girls who were now just sitting there in a smokey daze. Apparently this was some, as they say, “bad-assed weed.” A few others took a toke as well, but Becky warned them to not smoke anymore for a while, and she popped open the little basement windows as the smelly haze was sucked out.
Toby finally turned his attention to Lisa Ann who was sipping on a plastic cup of beer, and sort of dancing in place to the tunes on the records the others were playing. Hi “Strawberry!” he said, trying to be charming..."Drinking a little beer, that’s good! You like beer? So do I...too bad they don’t serve beer at Sound City...oh well, how old are you? Lisa Ann started to say “18,” but she instead said “I’ll be 18 in February.” 
“Oh yeah, a leap year baby? A groundhog’s day baby? A Valentines baby?” said Toby trying to be cute.
“No, mine’s Feb 24...what’s your birthday?” asked Lisa Ann.
“April 23...I’m going to be 21! How do you like that!” he bragged .
“You’re a Taurus” said Lisa Ann.”
“Oh, what’s that mean?...that I’m full of bullshit?” smirked Toby.
“Well, it does mean you’re the sign of the bull, and even though I was born in Pisces, I was born a week later than expected, over my mom’s term, so I should have been Aquarius, the lady with the water jug.”
“Then you’re my kinda girl...I do like young ladies with jugs!!!” he wise-cracked.
“Ooooooh, you!!!!” That is cute, though...I see what kind of guy you are!” flirted Lisa Ann back with a  snicker...
Somebody shouted “We’re playing ‘quarters,’ who wants to get in?”
“Me! ...and her!” yelled Toby across the room...He grabbed Lisa Ann’s hand and pulled her over with him to a table where some were standing participating in the classic “drink and get drunk” game of “Quarter Toss.” When it was turn for Toby to be the shooter, he got the quarter in and then gave the full beer cup to Lisa Ann, telling  her she had to drink the entire cup, chugging it down whole. She looked at him in shock, and at about halfway through, she stopped, told him she wasn’t going to do it, and everyone booed and laughed as she turned and jerked away. Toby just shrugged and kept playing. Soon after about everyone had about 5 beers in them, someone brought out a bottle of rum and the drinking changed to the challenge of taking full shots, and the bottle and shot glass were passed around several times, and on each round, there were less people wanting to get another, and so it came down to Toby and another big shouldered fellow named Glen, each showing off, doing a few more rounds.
The party was in full swing now, as it was getting close to midnight, and Becky began to worry about the neighbors calling the police for disturbing the peace, so she shut the windows. It wasn’t quite as hot as it was the earlier part of the evening, but yet it was still sweaty and humid down there with all of those young people dancing and laughing. Also, someone else had produced a pot pipe, and it, too was being shared by several others back in the “head corner.”
Lisa Ann, although a bit dissed at Toby for his obvious effort to get her drunk, went over to him and talked to him, trying to distract him from drinking too much. She and others noticed he was already way past the "drunk line," and was plain acting silly, and staggering about. He had overloaded on the beer, pot and rum, and had now gone over and slumped down on the couch against the wall with his head rolled back. He was just about passed out. Lisa Ann was concerned. She’d frankly never seen anyone drunk to the point of passing out, and this was a totally new experience. She went over and sat next to him and as he started falling towards her, she let him rest his head and shoulders  across her lap. She took her fingers and ran them through his long blonde hair to pull it up away from his face, eyes and mouth. She just sat there, concerned over this new boy who had become ‘important’ to her. Lisa Ann was falling for him, and not knowing why.
Becky noticed Toby slumped out across Lisa Ann and she went over and got a few of the other guys to wake him up long enough to lead him upstairs to the guest bedroom, and they just rolled him over on top of it, turned out the light and closed the door, laughing. Toby wasn’t the only one...The other fellow Glen had gotten sick from too much drinking and staggered upstairs and threw up out in Karen’s back yard.
He stumbled over and  stretched out on top of  the picnic table out back in the dark, and also was “sleeping it off.”
It was about 12:30 AM  when Lisa Ann and Becky went upstairs to take a look at Toby and Glen and see if they both  were alright. Lisa Ann opened the door to the bedroom Toby was in and went in and sat on the edge of the bed as she looked at him sleeping it off,  all sprawled out on his back and his mouth wide open snoring. She nudged him over on his side, gave him a kiss and said softly, “I’m sorry you got drunk...” I hope you’re OK,..I’m not mad...just worried...goodnight.” She  quietly closed the door and yelled down the steps to Becky, and told her she was leaving, and just a bit tipsy herself, walked the short distance home. Getting home in just a few minutes she announced, “I’m home,” and went straight upstairs to her room.
It was about 2  AM when the party started dying down. The hippy guy Harry was an older party hound, and  had somehow made it up and out, leaving about  2:30 AM with one of the girls in his corner and then about 3 AM, a few of the others left out for home, leaving Becky,  another girl and another boy to stretch out on the couch and on the several bean bags. Becky went upstairs to her room, as the radio was playing low, and everyone went to sleep.

Chapter 51 - “A Rude Awakening”

It was Sunday morning, after the party, and the late summer sun was streaming brightly into the windows of Becky’s house. It was about 9 AM as Becky was up first, and making the rounds to be sure everything in the house was OK. She looked outside and saw Glen swatting at some gnats’ as he sat all pale faced, smoking a cigarette. Opening up the back door she said
“You OK, Glen?...want something to eat, we’ve got cereal, and something to make a sandwich if you want.”
“No Becky, I’ll just go get a cup of coffee at 7-11, thanks, I’ll be OK.” As he said that he, rose, stretched, and walked wearily  down the driveway to his 63 VW Beetle parked street side.
Becky heard her other friends coming upstairs, but she asked them to first help her get the rec room back in shape, pick up any beer bottles, cups, paper towels, empty ashtrays and make sure there wasn’t any marijuana “roaches” or other paraphenalia laying about.
She went upstairs and made several glasses of iced cola, and brought them and a box of doughnuts down for the others and herself. Toby was still sleeping it off upstairs.
The other girl had an older brother on the Roanoke City police force and she mentioned he said he’d  stop by around 10 AM,  just to check on her, and not to be alarmed, as he was “cool” as long as he didn’t see any drugs or any serious misbehaving going on. The other boy asked “Is that guy we carried upstairs still passed out?”
Becky said, “Yeah, he’s still sawing logs.” The boy said, “Hey, let’s play a trick on that guy upstairs...when her brother the cop shows up, let’s ask him to act like he’s come to arrest .....uh,  what’s that guys’ name, Tony???” ...and let the cop wake him up, and say something like “You’re under arrest! Hahahahahah!!!”
“No!!!!”  laughed Becky and the other girl...”He might piss the bed or something!!!..No, just let him say “Good morning...are you Toby Owens?” said Becky...”That’ll be scare enough!!!”
True to his word, the young police officer stopped by about 10 AM and came in, all dressed in his uniform as it was his morning beat. By this time Becky and the others were upstairs sitting at the kitchen table talking quietly to not wake Toby up. They asked the young policeman if he’d pull  that little prank on Toby, and he laughed and said, “Sure!” It’ll teach him a lesson!”
The officer cleared his throut, took a stance in front of the bedroom door and knocked loudly. No response, so  then he knocked more loudly. Behind the door you could hear some rustling as Toby was sitting up and yelled, “What the hell?....Who.. Who is it?”
Hearing this they all stiffled their giggles, even the officer who was appreciating the anticipated laugh. The officer instead of answering just knocked louder this time.
Again, Toby yelled, apparently in pain from too large of a head, “OK, G-damn it, what the f--k do ya want???!!!! With that rant, he flung open the door and met the officer face to face, and was so shocked, and unstable, he fell backwards back into the bed, stumbling and trying to straighten himself up. Bouncing back up to his feet like a rebound, Toby stammered,
“No sir, I did not have sex with that girl Martha, or Lavender, whatever her name is, and I let her out at Mr. Moes at 12 o’clock midnight and my Daddy can vouch for that, and”.... Toby was in a half-conscious daze, and wasn’t sure if he were home or elsewhere.
“Whoah, hold on there, bud... remember, anything you say can be held against you!” stated the officer, in a matter of fact tone, turning and winking at the others. “Do you have something to confess?” At that Becky  and the other two stuck their heads in the doorway and shouted, “Gotcha!!!!” and they all let out a roar of laughter!
“Oh, God, you asses almost scared me dead, what’s the big idea, anyway, what’s going on?” said a dazed and confused Toby.
Becky said, “It’s Sunday, about 10 AM slept through the party last night, and boy, you missed a lot of fun!!!” sort of taunting him for getting so drunk, but of course skipping the part about him also  beingdrugged out.
“Where’s Lisa Ann?” asked Toby with his eyes all red...
“Lisa Ann????”, sounds to us like you’re more worried about somebody named Martha Lavender or something!” teased Becky.
Indeed, Toby was having a psychotic episode, enhanced by the pot and the excess of alcohol from just a few hours ago. The threat of a younger girl’s parents pressing charges on him for indecent liberties was lurking in his subconscious, fresh from the lecture his Dad had just given him two days ago. He had a mistrust for the older ladies more his age and older, as it seemed they were always teasing him on, or wanted a guy they could control...the younger girls he always had a way with, and most seemed eager to have sexual experiences with him.  He hadn’t considered the new dangers he faced,  now with him being a “legal adult’ and  responsible for what society considered “violating young ladies under legal age.”
“Oh, hey, listen, I’m just dreaming, I haven’t woken up yet!” replied Toby. The young officer looked at him and said, “You still look a little wobbly to me...Did you drive here?”
“Uh, oh, yes, I drove here.” But I’m not driving right now, and not gonna in a while either!” declared Toby.
The officer gave him a serious business look now, and the kidding was replaced with an official “let me see your license.”
Grunting, Toby slapped at his back pocket, pulling his billfold out and complaining, “Hey, you didn’t pull me over, I haven’t done anything!” as he grudgingly gave the officer his license.
The  officer gave him one more business look and said, “If that’s your yellow Mustang out there, be sure I don’t see you on the road in it or driving anything else until 3 PM...maybe you’ll be sober enough to drive by then...good day.”
At that, the officer told everybody good bye, as Becky turned to Toby and started laughing, saying, “Ooooooooooh you almost got it that time!!!...Come on, who’s Martha Lavender?” You can tell, me, come on! ”
“Forget that, I told you it was just a dream or something!” snapped Toby, and he headed back for the bed he just got up from.

Chapter 51 - “Wake Up! It’s Sunday Afternoon”

It was now 2 PM Sunday, that August 15th, and Toby once again woke to Becky looking in at him saying, “Hey,dude!  It’s 2 in the afternoon, you gotta get up and leave! My parents are coming home soon! As Toby got up and rubbed his eyes, he saw Lisa Ann sitting in Becky’s kitchen, with a sweet smile on her face. He was so embarrassed!
“Oh, hi, Lisa Ann....I sure made a fool of myself last night, didn’t I? I’m sorry, and to you too, Becky, I’ll not do that again!!!” he apologized.
“Boy, you were blitzed!” chided Becky...and to think, you never even kissed Lisa Ann last night, what’s the matter with you, boy?”  At that, now Lisa Ann was blushing and grinning...she had told Becky she wanted to “make out” with him, and that she thought he was a “glorious hunk of man.” Becky had kidded her asking if she had taken a peek at his “mister” when he was passed out.
“Why don’t I go home, take a shower, and come back, Lisa Ann, and we can just go for a ride,...want to?” asked Toby.
“I guess so, it’s about 2:30,  is 4 o’clock OK?” answered Lisa Ann.
“Sure!!! That’ll be sweet, we can go to Lendy’s and get some of my favorites for dinner, if you can stay out a little later...” replied Toby.
Lisa Ann happily said “OK!” I’ll see you at 4...You remember where I live from the other night, just down Kennedy  Street, across Fugate Road.”
He was careful to not attract any attention as he was driving home before 3 PM as he remembered the scare the young police officer gave him. He figured the young cop may be watching for him, so he took the back streets home.  Getting home, Pete would probably be  back soon after working, so his rendevous plans for him and Lisa Ann there at his house were no longer an option.  Getting a quick shower and shave, it was back over to Lisa Ann’s and after 3 PM, so Toby let down his guard. However, he still wanted to get some beer as he figured a few beers wouldn’t hurt anyone. Stopping at the 7-11 on Hersberger he went in and spotted a clerk who knew him and had sold him regular beer before when he had used Lonnie’s drivers license.  He and Pete being brothers did look quite a bit alike. So, no problem, he bought two cold six packs and a bottle each of that Boone’s Farm strawberry  and apple flavored wine that was being advertised on the radio. He knew now that Lisa Ann did enjoy a beer or two, or maybe even better,  some of that  wine.
Pulling up at Lisa Ann’s, his loud-enginned Mustang did announce his arrival, and her mother stepped out sternly with a scowl on her face to see who this “new boy” was in her daughter’s life. As he figured he’d better walk up and introduce himself, instead of just letting the girl come out and jump in like so many others had done before, he stopped the engine, got out tall and proper, walked up and introduced himself.
Lisa Ann’s mother’s scowl soon melted with Toby’s charm of “yes ma’am, no ma’am” and making the overture to act like a young gentleman. Lisa Ann’s mother said, “Did you call here the other evening for Lisa Ann?” He nodded "yes maam." She said, “I thought I recognized your voice! “You live here in town?”
“Yes, ma’am, over near Crossroads Mall.”
“Your Mom and Dad live here, too?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“I’m glad to meet you, son, just be careful out there this evening, hope you’re not one of those hot-rodders out there...and please don’t misbehave with her, and that’s of course for you, too, Lisa Ann...just be proper and have a good time.” as Lisa Ann’s mother gave Alton one last looking over. Lisa Ann, only knowing Alton these short few weeks hadn’t told him her mother and father were divorced.
Opening the car door for Lisa Ann, she got in, then he drove out, oh so carefully as her mom watched them disappear around the turn.
“Did you know I came and sat with you on the bed at Karen’s last night?’ asked Lisa Ann.
“No, did you???” answered Alton.
“Yes, you looked like a catalog model laying there asleep an advertisement for bedroom furniture.” laughed Lisa Ann.
“Well, did you kiss me like in ‘Snow White’ or something?”  kidded Alton.
“Yes,... I kissed you, but not like that, just a ‘sleep good’ kiss, that’s all.”
“Owwww, aren’t you the sweetest thing!” said Alton as he turned off and  pulled into an empty  bay of the All American  car wash across from the Pancake House on Williamson Road.
Lisa Ann asked surprised, “You’re washing your ....?”, but before she could say ‘car” Alton had reached across and gave her the longest, wettest  kiss she’d ever had. As it was still summer and daylight it was too hot to roll up the windows, so they could hear others busy spraying their cars down. After the pleasant shock of that surprise kissing had made its mark, Alton said, “Let’s go get something to eat”...

Chapter 52 - “Woodstock, the Celebration of Free Love”

Pulling into a spot in Lendy’s drive-in service, he called in his order for him and Lisa Ann of two chicken dinners... and a whole strawberry pie! He had already poured two beers into tall tumblers, and as he and Lisa Ann waited for their order they talked and enjoyed themselves. Alton reached over and started caressing Lisa Ann’s firm thighs and remarked at how sexy she looked last night at the party. As they ate and  talked, the radio was featuring the hit songs from Woodstock, especially Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, because this night was the second anniversary of Woodstock, and of course, the station was promoting the upcoming Black Oak Arkansas concert. Right after the radio made the concert announcement, several girls who knew Alton got out of their car and walked over. It was Alice and Betty, two of the three girls that he had met at the other Lendy’s the first time on July 4th, 1970. They smiled, looked in and when they saw Laura Leigh, their smiles flattened out, and their  mood and  tone changed a bit sour.
Alice said “We heard you Friday on WROV win those tickets to Black Oak Arkansas ...who are you gonna take with you? “Strawberry Shortcake” you said...Well, didn’t you call me that the night we had fun with the whipped cream?” and she giggled , then sort of sneered over at Lisa Ann.
“Yeah, I did win them, sure thing, and “Strawberry Shortcake” is this girl here, Lisa Ann.” See, she’s got pretty strawberry blonde hair, so...nope, I’m taking her.” answered Alton.
Lisa Ann looked totally surprised...she knew Alton had won some tickets, but didn’t realize that “Stawberry Shortcake” was her! Alton hadn’t asked her yet, so it was indeed a pleasant shock!
Alice said in a smart-mouthed way, “Go ahead, take her, ...just see if you’ll ever get anymore of mine!” she and Betty strutted off, Alice twisted suddenly in a bit of female rage and shot Alton the finger skyward. Several cars in the line started honking their horns and laughing at both Alice and Alton parked there. It was very apparent to Lisa Ann that Alton and Alice had a sexual encounter...and now being scorned and rebuffed, Alice was jealous. Alton had been quite the Tomcat for the past several years, and especially  since he started making the Williamson Road and Melrose Avenue cruising scenes.
He told Lisa Ann, yes,  he did know Alice, a lot more than as friends, but they just had a one-night stand...he later didn’t like Alice’s attitudes on several things, and they didn’t have much in common except the sex, so he never called on her again. He looked at Lisa Ann and asked, “Well, how about you? Do you have any past lovers?”
Lisa Ann looked down and said, “Yes, ...and no, I’m not a virgin anymore...but most girls my age aren’t either... so?”
Alton smiled and said, “That’s alright...and with that he gave her another kiss. He knew tonight love was in the air, either inside or outside, it was tonight, as soon as it got dark.  Yes, Woodstock’s anniversary of “free love”  was celebrated as the evening wore on, as two impassioned young lovers rolled beneath the waning moon out in the distant dark back acres of the Ole Monterey Golf Clubs greens.

Chapter 53 - “Night Stalker”

Alton had just taken Lisa Ann wasn’t too late, as they both didn’t want to alert her Mom that anything was going on...They had made love, and they swore to each other their next time would be very soon, and it would be in the comfort and romance of a either of their homes, or a hotel, if they had to. Feeling very uplifted in the warmth of what was probably becoming love, Lisa Ann gave him a glow of affection and satisfaction, happiness he’d never experienced from the many other girls...In this sense, they were giving each other a very special gift, something to cherish between only them, and not just animal lust and ‘getting their rocks off” as the crude and common expression goes. Yes, Lisa Ann was very special.
Smiling to himself and playing his Doors 8 track and just driving very calmly, Alton didn’t notice a car had started following him as soon as he came to the stop sign on Lisa Ann’s street. It was parked on the opposite corner of Kennedy Street, across Fugate Road, and as Alton turned right onto Fugate, to intersect with Williamson Road, its lights came on and drove out behind him.  This was almost overlooked by Alton until he just noticed the same car turned left right behind him as he was making his way home. Of all the streets, and with little traffic, this car had curiously sped up to keep a certain trailing distance behind him. Coming to a stop sign, Alton noticed the car was backing off as to not come up on him at the stop. His curiosity and attention stoked, Alton decided to instead take an odd right turn and go back out onto Williamson Road.  The other car suspiciously did likewise.
He thought first maybe it was Freddie from work or one of the other cruisers he knew, but he didn’t recognize the car, and couldn’t see it very clearly due to the glare of the headlights. He could tell it was too small to be a police cruiser and there were no police light bars in its silhouette, either...It was just a dark coupe of sorts. All he knew was something funny was going on. As he came up to the intersection of Hershberger and Williamson Road, the car following him slowed way down about 200 feet behind him and actually came to a stop about 6 car lengths back.
While he waited for the light, and watching in his rear view mirror, he was pondering if this was a plainclothes detective car or what, and he started to get very nervous. It so happened Bobby Bennett, another cruiser and “red light racer” in his Mercury Comet 390  pulled up alongside him while the long red light was in its cycle, and said, “Hey Alton, let’s race! Com’on! let’s just race up to Mick - Or- Mack!”
Alton saw this as a chance to expose the car trailing him, and said, “Hell yeah!” As the light turned green, Alton quickly left Bobby in a cloud of tire smoke and the other car indeed was going full throttle trying to catch up, but couldn’t. As they approached Mick -Or-Mack, Alton had trounced Bobby, who didn’t care if he won or lost, he just raced for the fun of it. Alton intentionally turned sharply into Mick or Mack to see what that car behind them did, and instead of going past them, as it approached, it abruptly took the right turn onto Hildebrand and sped up out of sight as it passed by the end of the store . Alton jumped out of his car and stretched to see what the car was, but couldn’t tell what it was in the dark distance. Bobby had pulled in, too, having fun, and noticed Alton straining to see something. In fact several others all hanging around having their “trunk parties” asked Alton what was the matter.
“Oh, just thought I was being followed...that’s all!” Alton said, as the other cruisers just hooted, laughed and said, “Got any beer?”
Alton kicked his tire thinking, “Damn, I should have turned and followed it...Well, too late now.” He drove on home as it was work again tomorrow, but kept his eyes half on the road ahead and half on his rear view mirror, with no more sign of being followed.

Chapter 54 - “Peace and Love Gift Boxed”

Wednesday after work, Alton called Lisa Ann and asked if she wanted to go out again on Friday, the 20th. “Sure,” she said...“Can we go to the mall and let me go do some shopping for new school clothes?” Her senior year at Patrick Henry High School, in Roanoke,  would be beginning on Tuesday September 7th, the day after Labor Day, in only 18 days! She was supposed to be going to William Fleming, and heartbroken that instead of finishing high school with the many friends she knew from Breckenridge Jr. High and also her junior year at William Fleming High, a  new rezoning of the school districts had her now having to go a lot further, half-way across Roanoke to a high school she didn’t know.. That’s why her mom and dad together bought her the Volvo.
Alton had forgotten she was a senior in high school, and didn’t even think about that until now. “Of course! ‘Shortcake,’ I’d enjoy that. Then after the stores close, maybe we can go ‘watch the stars’ again for a little while?”
She sounded alright with the plan, but was he asking for love under the stars again? It had only been 3 nights ago they gave themselves to each other, and Friday it would be 5 nights, less than a week, so she asked him if they did indeed do anything, would he please promise the next time their lovemaking would be in the pleasure of a bed?”
“Yes, even  if we have to get a motel, we will.” Alton  had feared having to get a motel as he was afraid if the management suspected she was underage, even if they did get a room, maybe that car that had followed him Sunday night might be a detective ready to come arrest him for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or the worst scenario, “statutory rape.” That incident of his Dad fussing and warning him of those consequences, plus his heart almost stopping from the scare the policeman gave him last week at Becky’s house...well, it made him anxious.
Friday evening Alton picked up Lisa Ann and she was all excited as her mother gave her $100 cash  to buy some new clothes. At Sydney’s $100 wouldn’t go far, so she decided it would be Penney’s and Heronimus for her needs. Going into Penney’s with her,  Alton enjoyed seeing an old friend, a salesman there named Ed Reynolds... Alton knew Ed as a kind and great guy. When Alton was a kid he used to buy his model cars and airplanes, and the paint, glue and other fun things from Ed, who worked the registers  there in the Penney’s hobby shop. Alton always thought Ed looked like Don Adams, of “Get Smart” TV fame and he’d make Ed laugh heartily with his impressions of “Agent Maxwell Smart” saying catch phrases like “Sorry about that, Chief” and other  funny lines.
Ed could see the twinkle in Alton’s eye, and said in a low voice so Lisa Ann couldn’t hear, “Boy, you got you a pretty one there!”
“Miss, do you need to buy a pistol in our sports department since you’re out with this hoodlum?” joked Ed to Lisa Ann. Even Ed couldn’t resist flirting with the beautiful young lady.
Having found some nice new fashions, Lisa Ann was also wearing a big smile. While she had been in the dressing room trying on a cart full of some choices, she would come out and ask Alton’s opinion on this or that. After a few of these, Alton told her he needed to go out in the Mall and make a quick phone call at the booths, and to just hang loose and keep trying on the clothes until he got back.
This was his ploy to go out in the Mall and buy her something himself...not clothes, but something personal, like some jewelry. Not a ring of commitment or anything like that, just something fun and funky she could wear to remind her of him. There was a sort of costume jewelry counter in Heronimus in the mall and he made a direct line to it. Doing a quick scan he saw what he wanted. It was a gold tone  matching necklace “peace sign” medallion and earrings, and since he saw she liked those hippy style hip-huggers, this style would agree with that. The price wasn’t too high, either, even as this was a higher-end store than say Roses or Woolco, and it was of relative quality. He had the clerk put them in a gift box, and then in a bag. He walked back over to Penney’s as Lisa Ann had made her choices, and had already paid for them as Ed Carter was carefully folding them into a few bags.
“Was everything alright, I mean, your call?”asked Lisa Ann.
“Oh, sure was, just had to call about some high performance car parts, that’s all..” said Alton.
Helping her carry her clothes bags out, Alton had cleverly hidden his bag between hers.  Getting in the car, under the parking lot lights as it was now dark at 9 PM, closing time, he brought out the bag with Heronimus on it, and opened it bringing out the little box and handed it to Lisa Ann.
She asked “What’s this Alton?” as her voice rose higher in anticipation.
“Something I’d like to give you, so you can wear something I gave you!” smiled Alton.
Lisa Ann got so excited, not knowing what he’d gotten and when she saw it, she burst out giggling saying, “Oh, how sweet!!!! I love it!!!” “Hey, peace man!!!” as she wrapped her arms around his neck tightly and gave him a huge smothering kiss.
Putting the necklace medallion on with the interior lights, she looked at it in the Mustang’s rear view mirror. Alton was pleased she liked it.  As they were leaving out Alton planned on finding a quiet dark and private spot, but Lisa Ann had decided to avoid any intimacy this night, and she told Alton she was sorry, but fibbed that “her time of the month had come.” Alton was visibly disappointed at first, but shrugged it off. Lisa Ann told him that she wanted to have love with him again, but it was best if she got home early. Maybe they could be with each other at her house later next week...she’d tell him when the time was right, maybe on Wednesday. Her mother worked days, and they’d have the house to themselves, if Alton could find a reason to leave his work early.

Chapter 55 - “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”

The Williamson Road strip of August 21 was buzzing this Saturday night as the end of summer 1971 was close, causing everyone to try and milk as much fun as they could out of the warm late summer nights. Lendy’s was overflowing in the parking spots as Alton circled the lot, looking for a parking spot...”Moonlight!” Alton heard as he made the rounds, and saw some new cars and kids that had come in from the surrounding counties to join in the action. While cruising past the Arby’s, Freddie Thompson was also out driving and seeing Alton honked for him to pull over. Even though they worked at the same place, Freddie didn’t see much of Alton as he was working in another department.
“Hey, Alton!..Guess who’s back at the Village Inn?” shouted an excited Freddie across his open window.
“I dunno, who?” shouted Alton in return.
“That hot little “Misty” hippy gypsy lookin’, she’s looking good, too! I saw her and that other sexy chick, Anna, or whatever, you know, the tall one, that night back about a year ago?” said Freddie very excited. “They asked me about you...said if I see you, to come down to Village Inn and meet up with them!”
“No shit!” How long ago???” asked Alton.
“‘’Bout half an hour ago...goin’ to go down and see?” said a hopeful Freddie.
“Hell yeah! Let’s double bang those wenches!” I’m in the mood for some hot and nasty!”OOOOOWWWWW!!!! howled  Alton, like a wolf baying at the moon.
“You’re the man! Let’s park at Mick or Mack.” cried Freddie, very happy at that prospect.
The Village Inn remained one of the most popular hangouts for the young weekend crowds, and just as Freddie said, they they were, “Misty” and “Amber” as the tall one was named. They had several guys surrounding them as they did indeed attract a lot of attention. Looking between the other fellows, the vampish “Misty” spotted Alton, and did a little saunter out of the circle of guys to kind of twist her nice little body around and show off her fine lines. She was wearing a rawhide vest with fringe, a big black-brimmed hat like a Spanish Flamenco dancer over her long jet black hair, and a pair of revealing blue jean cut off shorts. She definitely put out some female heat, and was fully aware of her charms, even at 17. Amber had filled out, too, a striking long legged beauty, with pale blue eyes.
“Looky, looky, the “Moonlight Mustang Man” is here...been a long time, buddy boy! Say, you still a playboy?” taunted Misty, looking up at Alton  with her dark eyes compelling Alton to reach out and pull her close up.
“Yeah, you lookin’ to play?” countered Alton.
“Could be, if you got your car?”
“Across the street”  pointed Alton as the four of them laughed and left the Village Inn, dashing dangerously across the busy and fast traffic.

Chapter 56 - “Stone Soul Picnic”

Alton, Misty, Freddie and Amber loaded up in the Mach 1, and headed out with a roar  into the cool night air  singing songs from Alton’s James Gang  8 track, as Misty produced a joint from her rawhide vest pocket. Pulling over into the far end of  Kroger parking lot, before she lit up she asked Alton “Got anything to drink?”
“Yep, some beer and some Boone’s Farm wine in the cooler in the trunk.” offered Alton. Amber said, “But I’m hungry, cant’ we get something to eat?”
Alton answered with “Sure, want to have a ‘stone soul picnic?’ Hang on for a few minutes while I go in and get some hot dogs and marshmallows to roast! It’ll be fun!!!” Misty laughed and said, “Yeah, sure, like we’re Brownies or something!”
As Freddie was kissing on Amber’s neck, she started to relax a bit.
Alton had come back with a bag full of hot dogs and marshmallows and a small portable and one-time use disposable charcoal grill, along with a few extra paper bags for starting a fire. When he opened the trunk to load the bags, he came around with four cold beers, and then everybody popped a top, gave a “Yeeeehaaa!!!”,  and took a few tokes, and off the “Moonlight Mustang” Mach 1 galloped into the night.
“Where are we going, dude?” asked Misty.
“Oh, up on ‘Green River’ to dance barefoot in the moonlight!” answered Alton, being a joker, referring to the CCR song, “Green River.”  He was close in his answer, as he was actually heading out towards  the far end of Salem where the Roanoke River had some big banks where they could park and party out of sight of the roadway. Finding a secluded and wooded section of the river out near Glenvar, they were a good ways away from civilization. A person could “skinny dip” out in this remote area, with little chance of getting caught. Laughing with the buzz of the pot and the first beer of the evening, they all cleared out a spot for Alton’s big “party blanket” and then they started up the little grill, and made a small fire with dead limbs off of the nearby trees.  Freddie found some old cattails stalks to use as wiener and marshmallow roasters. With only the glow from the grill and small fire they sat in the flickering dark laughing as they “cooked” their own hot dogs and  passed the two bottles of Boone’s Farm around. Alton joked this reminded him of the scene in “Easy Rider” where the three riders camped out with a similar fire.
After about two hot dogs each, and another round or two of the bottles of wine and a few more beers, Misty brought out one more joint. Then out of nowhere, she stood up, stretched, and just flung her rawhide vest off, as her bare breasts just swayed, and then, to everyone’s astonishment, she slipped out of her cutoffs, bare naked and laughed as she danced around the fire in a bewitching naughty way, then skipped out into the river. Alton said “Last one in, is the last one in!” as he hurriedly took off his shirt and yanked off his pants and underwear, and went splashing in after Misty.
Freddie, rarely the guy who got to share in this kind of recreation, was just sitting there in a blue haze of smoke not believing what he was seeing. Yes, Amber had now stood up and was undoing her clothes. Freddie, caught off guard, just sat there and watched, until nature called and he too, stripped down, but  was embarrassed at first by his “arousal.”
“Well, you coming in or not?” taunted Amber..
“Oh, yeah!” was all Freddie could answer with.
After splashing about and having a wild and wet time, Alton grabbed Misty up and carried her over to the blanket and had his way with her, not caring who or what might try to distract him. Finally, he and Misty had reached their satisfaction. To help them dry off a bit better, he added more tree branches to the fire. Suddenly out in the middle of the river Amber screamed that Freddie was in trouble!
Alton jumped up and rushed out into the deeper water where Freddie was struggling to keep his head above water. Grabbing him lifeguard style, Alton pulled him to shore, as Freddie  kept coughing and gagging from the river water. He was still conscious, and so  didn’t need any artificial respiration, but was still out of breath from the choking. After a short while, he had regained his breath totally, and then disappointed, he noticed that Amber had already put her clothes back on, and had a serious look on her face. Misty was putting her clothes back on, too, but he and Alton were both still naked as could be.
Alton stood up, and said, “If you’re OK now, “Flipper” dry off, get your clothes on and let’s get  the flock out of here! Everybody laughed with relief at Alton’s  smart aleck remark..
As Alton turned he noticed an unpleasant thing had happened. When he got up to rescue Freddie, in the hurry and urgency of the moment, he had kicked his own clothes and the bag of marshmallows over next to the fire. During all of this commotion his shirt, slacks, and socks became  covered in molten marshmallows!  It reminded him of the fast getaway clothing fiasco he and the girl Wanda had out on Loch Haven Road.
“Oh, hell!!! Would you look at that!” bellowed Alton as the girls, and even Freddie laughed out loud and hard at the absurd sight of the gooey white marshmallows binding his pants legs shirt and socks into a lob lolly as he pulled the sticky mess apart!
As they were leaving out, they followed the twisting Riverside Drive back to a left turn onto Mill Lane to cross the river, over a concrete bridge, but on the other side there were 2 big sets of  railroad tracks to also cross, that serviced the nearby Tom’s Peanut plant and others in the industrial area. In a drunken and pot induced haze, and not seeing them in time, Alton hit those dips in the track very hard, and the Mach 1 bounced so hard in the back that Freddie and Amber bashed their heads into the Mach 1’s headliner, putting big stretch marks in the upholstery. Fortunately, the headliner, and not the solid steel roof caught the blow, and neither passenger was hurt. Not only was there the big jolt, they were all thrown forward from a sudden grabbing from the rear wheels.
“Damn it!!!” yelled Alton...even though he had some exciting “Misty” escapades, with Freddie almost drowning, his clothes all messed up, now, he was sure those tracks had also caused some more rear fender and tire damage from the hard bounce. Stopping on the other side of the tracks he got out and felt in the dark that this time there were new scrapes under both  fender lips. The tires had gotten another rough scraping as well, but were OK. Getting his passengers all  back to the Mick or Mack around 2 AM, there was still a small gathering there.
Larry, one of the Williamson Road regulars came up and told Alton some new guy they didn’t know was asking about “the guy that drives a yellow Mustang,” around 11 PM, and also asked “if anyone knew where he  lived.”
“What kind of car was he in?” asked Alton, as again, many knew each other only by their cars. 
“Didn’t see him in any car, he just walked in from Hildebrand... over there.” answered Larry.
Alton thought that was strange...someone that nobody knew was asking about who drove a yellow Mustang, and didn’t have a car around....very strange. Alton looked around, puzzled at that, and drove off for home.

Chapter 57 - “Afternoon Delight”

Having had to wear the “marshmallow melt” clothes back home that Saturday night, he had planned to hide them when he came home, arriving as quietly as possible, shifting into neutral and letting the Mach 1 drift into the parking space out front of his house. Mom, Dad and Lonnie seemed to be asleep.  Quietly coming in, Alton refrained from his usual scraping of the stairway’s plaster walls with his fingernails as he walked up to his room, like he usually did just to pick at Lonnie. He didn’t this time, hoping he wouldn’t wake Lonnie up, but because he didn’t, Lonnie turned on his light wondering why he didn’t!
Since he was up, Lonnie looked in amusement at Alton’s messy melted marshmallow clothes, and when Alton told him of  his recent nocturnal adventure, Lonnie had to bite his finger to keep from laughing and waking up Mom and Dad. How in the world would you explain that sticky mess, or possibly his missing clothes to Mom?
The next Monday as Alton drove out for work, he was thinking about Freddie Thompson nearly drowning and what might have happened, having those two teen-aged girls out with them. He knew Misty was 17, and maybe Amber was 18 or so, but still, it could have been serious trouble. He and Eddie were legally adults, and that spectre of being arrested for “jail bait” as the common and vulgar nickname for such played heavily in his thoughts.
He was also having guilt feelings about Lisa Ann, as he knew she’d be heartbroken if she knew he’d just been out with Misty, even if they weren’t going steady or such. He had a deep longing and a burning desire to see her again soon, and so he called her and they agreed to a rendesvous that Wednesday August 25th, around 1 PM...He was going to tell his boss he needed to take off after lunch for some “personal business.” His boss had pretty good instincts and even quipped, “What’s up, you got a ‘nooner?’ ”  Alton just said, to deflect any suspicions,  “I wished!”
Alton drove over to Lisa Ann’s with great expectations. Very excited at the thought of having her completely alone in her room was  thrilling indeed. Unlike most of the girls Alton had casual sex with, Lisa Ann had confided before their first lovemaking she was on “the pill,” as her mother deemed it insurance against her daughter having an unwanted pregnancy.  As he parked just at the street’s dead end turnaround, he walked the short distance back to Lisa Ann’s house as he saw her look out of her upstairs bedroom window, which was right over the front door. Standing there trying to not look conspicuous in case there were nosey neighbors, he waited until Lisa Ann opened the door. He entered quickly and silently and found her all dolled up in white lace panties and camisole. In a whirlwind of passion, they were very soon upstairs.
It was now 3:30 that afternoon, and Alton was kissing Lisa Ann goodbye...he had to get gone, as her mother usually got home about 4:30 from work. As he looked back to see her, he noticed a woman neighbor was outside sweeping her porch. Alton didn’t look up trying to conceal his face, in the event the neighbor took notice.
Yes, this was a much larger love than he had ever had, and even then wanted to go back and spend the rest of the evening laying and loving with the sweet Lisa Ann.

Chapter 58 - “Mom knows!”

Later that Wednesday evening Alton was back home to shower, eat and intending to go back out. Mom Helen shook her head as he just ate and didn’t talk much with her, Dad or Lonnie. His mind was “somewhere else.” As he was getting listless, he thought he’d drive out and drop by Lisa Ann’s, just to see her again, so he called again from the Shell station payphone. Lisa Ann answered, and said, quietly, as though whispering, “Alton, Mom knows you were here today!”
Before Alton could reply, he heard her mother talking loudly as she said, “Is that the boy?” Suddenly in a loud voice, Lisa Ann’s Mom took the phone and  said “You’re that boy with the yellow car, aren’t you? Well, my neighbor said you came over here this afternoon and stayed until about an hour before I got home. Listen, I don’t want to hear of you coming over here at all when my daughter is understand?”
“Yes Ma’am,” I won’t, we were just talking, and”...
Lisa Ann’s mother interrupted his fake innocent banter, “I know better...the last boy friend she had I had to threaten to call the police on...Every time I was gone he was trying to come over here, and  then Lisa Ann even told him to stop coming around, she wasn’t interested in him,  but he still kept hanging out and watching her. I’m telling you right now, you better not come over here when I’m not home. If you do, I’ll probably  call the law on you, too! When you want to see Lisa Ann, you have come when I’m here and pick her up here...and always, always, call first! Understand? ..”
“Yes ma’am.” said Alton as he heard Lisa Ann’s mother  hang up with a loud thud.
Who was this other boy, and what did he have to do with Lisa Ann? She mentioned she had had other lovers, and no longer a virgin...was this guy her first, her only, or one of several?
Jealosy reared it’s ugly green head as Alton stewed, thinking about this  new kink in having a steady  girlfriend, and the thought of her in the act with another guy enraged him. He pulled out of the Shell station heading north towards Lendy’s in a screeching cloud of white tire smoke. His Moonlight Mustang was the only comfort he had for his bruised ego, and he was going to let it satisfy his need for confidence with its unnatural speed and power.
There was a blue Plymouth Road Runner 383 making the rounds recently and every time it passed  by Alton, the driver would stare at him, and make menacing revs. Alton was in the mood to challenge.

Chapter 60 - “Breakdown, Shutdown”

Even though it was a Wednesday night, the crowds were out in force, again, trying to make the most out of the last few days and nights of summer. Alton had taken his usual spot at Lendy’s, just ordering a slice of strawberry pie, like usual. About 9 PM, it was dark, and the street action was starting to get busy...there were several cars doing their burnouts for the appreciative crowds lining Williamson Road as everyone was just out to be seen. Just as Alton was pulling out, here came that blue Road Runner...there were several of these in blue  that made the rounds, but this one had big chrome mudflaps flanking the wide M-50s it had., so it was easier to recognize. Alton did a u-turn and came back into the Lendy’s loop, and got behind the Road Runner and motioned he wanted to talk. Pulling alongside the Road Runner’s passenger door, Alton point blank said, “You’ve been wanting to race me and ole Moonlight, and here we are.”
The other fellow answered, “Sure, but this time just for fun” ... Alton said, “Sure, bud, just for fun.” Alton wanted and needed  to race, and get his mounting frustrations and aggression out. His “Moonlight” racing was becoming his method of having a controlled fit. Without the fanfare of doing a “staged” race, they both just pulled out onto Williamson Road, stopped side by side as the crowds suddenly noticed their “lineup” and  started cheering as they sat side by side loudly revving. Looking at each other they did the hand “3 count-down” and nailed the gas. Alton’s Mustang was always a  leaping monster and emerging out of a cloud of tire smoke had the lead for the first 3 seconds and was shifting into second when suddenly “BAM!!!-BAM!!!-BAM!!!-BAM!!!-BAM!!!” his whole car shook violently like it was exploding! He saw a shower of sparks fanning out from under his car in the rear view mirror as he glanced up  thinking at first the Road Runner had sideswiped his rear quarter panel.
Alton panicked as he saw his engine suddenly revving  dangerously towards the tachometer red-line, not knowing that it was caused as his driveshaft had broken its rear u-joint at the differential.  As the fiercely rotating and dangling driveshaft beat holy hell out of his under chassis, bouncing up and down as it struck the road each time throwing out a burst of bright sparks, and returning to bang and slam underneath like a huge high speed router bit,  it suddenly slid completely out of the Mustang’s transmission tailpiece’s spline shaft. When the drive shaft’s slip yoke exited, the entire drive shaft careened off of Alton’s back tires and went spinning wildly into the street where the Road Runner ran right over it and it, too,  beat the hell out of the Road Runner’s underside as well. The Road Runner had almost lost control, veering sharply left and right and came terribly close to sideswiping Alton as it passed by Alton’s crippled Mach 1. Alton had luckily maintained control but had no choice but to stop as quickly as possible with his foot off the gas, while braking to allow the engine to get down to lower idling rpms so he could shift to neutral and turn off the engine cold.
Had he panicked and accidentally pushed it into “park,” the transmission would have probably exploded. He turned and rolled to a stop into Lamplighter Mall’s parking lot,  his heart beating madly as he stomped down on the emergency brake. Lucky for Alton and everyone else that Wednesday evening, there were no spectators lining the street at that section of Williamson Road, as someone or even more than a few folks could have been struck dead by the flying driveshaft, like a killer baton. There was also the distinct possibility and deadly chance that the driveshaft could have ruptured his gas tank, and with the sparks from the metal grinding on the road would have caused a huge exploding fireball from the potent hi-test gas!
One of the guys who saw what happened  jumped in his car and stopped to get Alton’s driveshaft out of the road  with its mangled and broken u-joint and front slip yoke and put it in his trunk, sticking out the back and drove it over to Alton, who was already outside the car laying on his back underneath the Mach 1 looking at the damage with his flashlight. “Hey Alton, you alright???” yelled the first people who drove down to see what in the world had happened.
“Damn!!!” screamed Alton, crawling out from under the car with disgust. The driveshaft beat his exhaust pipes and mufflers mercilessly, and left big scuffs and gouges all over the bottoms of the rear floor plans. Luckily, it didn’t break off the differentials’ U-joint yoke because it was the bearing caps in the driveshaft that broke and dropped it down on the road.  Also the  damage was very minimal towards the transmission where the slip yoke exited cleanly ...But, the driveshaft was bent, and ruined, either from hitting the street, or when the Road Runner ran over it! Alton also just realized the Road Runner kept right on going, probably scared to death, and for good reason!!! It was now dark, about 9:30 PM, and by this time a sizable crowd cruised down from Lendy’s to the scene and were now parking in the formerly closed shops’ parking lot.  This crowd of cars and people milling about  attracted the attention Deputy Sheriff Bob Cline, who making his rounds had just come onto the action and with his microphone ordered everyone to vacate the closed business’s parking lot.
One of the guys ran over and told Deputy Cline that the yellow Mustang was broken down, so Deputy Cline  got out and walked over with his flashlight, took a look at the situation and told Alton to call a wrecker if he could and get the car removed as soon as he could, or he’d have to have the county come and tow it out...Deputy Cline asked Alton if there was racing involved, of course expecting Alton to deny it, but Alton frankly said, “Well, sir, you can see I didn’t win!!!”
Deputy Cline chuckled at Alton’s response and said, “I had that figured, son! just consider, the other guy’s and anyone else  out here racing, it’s a really big fine moving violation. You could end up losing your license, and believe me, your luck is going to run out. I didn’t catch you this time. The other patrols, or me,  are hopefully gonna catch you, before you have something really bad happen.” With that, Deputy Cline flagged the last cars out, and motioned for Alton to go make his call. Alton put the driveshaft in the interior as it was too long for his trunk, too, and thought he might  need to keep it for the front transmission slip yoke.
Alton’s same cruisin’ buddy that brought him his damaged driveshaft drove him down to the Pilot Gas where he could phone for help.  The Triple A club memberships that mom and dad always gave him and Lonnie  at Christmas, were very practical gifts, and Alton carried his card in his wallet. The 24 hour Triple A dispatcher took Alton’s info and car’s location, and Alton had time to walk back as it would be “about an hour” said the dispatcher. His cruising friend  took him back to his car, and said, “Good luck, take it easy.” Alton thanked him, and now the lot was vacant except for him, and everything had quieted down on Williamson Road. Alton opened his trunk, looked around and took his liquor bottle out of the blanket and took the last two drinks left in the bottom. He sighed, and  tossed the empty bottle up on the building’s flat roof.
The tow truck  arrived, and it was one he’d seen before, from Red Bird Garage, down on Preston Street. They had all sorts of service contracts with the City, County and Triple A for picking up disabled vehicles and crashed ones, too.  Riding with the tow truck driver, Alton looked out the back window and noticed how sad the wounded “Moonlight Mustang” Mach 1 looked, like a real, living and suffering creature, its headlights emulating eyes, and its grill looking like a sad firm lipped mouth. When the tow truck pulled up to drop off the Mustang  in front of the Mills’ home, Dad saw its flashing amber lights through the living room window where he was watching the 11 o’clock news on TV. Startled by the lights, he jumped up,  flipped on the front porch light came out on the front porch, concerned.
“Alton, what’s happened...are you Ok????” asked Dad. Mom now came running out onto the porch fearful something bad had happened to her son.
“Nothing serious, Dad, Mom, the driveshaft just fell out when my u-joint broke...It can be fixed tomorrow, after  I get home from work. I think my buddy Freddie will run me home if you, Dad, Mom or Lonnie can take me into work in the morning. I think the driveshaft will have to be replaced...and the warranty has probably run out”...
“Sure, son...I’ll take you...U-joint broke? I bet I know why, that rear-end all kicked up puts extra stress on it, and those big tires hurt it, too...Hope when those big tires wear thin, you’ll replace them with normal ones.”

Chapter 61 - “Beef It Up!”

The next day at work Alton caught up with Freddie, telling him about the race and the bad luck u-joint failure.  Before he even asked, Freddie offered to take him home or to Magic City Ford to get a new driveshaft. Calling from the company phone at  5 PM quitting time, he was told at Magic City the parts department was open until 6 PM, and they happened to have just one new driveshaft in stock, and it was a standard item for most Mustang V-8’s including the Mach 1 351  Cleveland engine, with automatic transmission...but expensive, too!!! It was expensive because it came as a complete unit, new u-joints front and back and a new transmission slip yoke, too.
Getting there before the parts department closed, the shop guy asked what happened to the old one. As  Alton paid for the driveshaft, he explained that the rear u-joint bearing caps in the driveshaft, not the differential, just shattered, and the driveshaft fell out, with its u-joint bearing caps yoke damaged beyond repair, not just from the failure, but the brute force of repeatedly being bashed up and down as it hit the road and undercarriage.
The shop guy said, “You might want to “beef it up” back there, get a heavy duty, high performance u-joint for just the rear, and keep the one that comes with it here, as a spare. We don’t have any in stock, but they have those, made by TRW or MOOG, I think  at Advance Auto Parts... know where that is?”
“Sure, I buy all my oil and stuff there,” answered Alton.
With the driveshaft dangling out of Freddie’s Camaro’s small trunk, they tied it in and put a red plastic bag over the end to secure the bearing caps and alert drivers at stop lights to heed its spear-like end. Driving back out to Advance Auto Parts, they did indeed have a performance u-joint application for his Mach 1.  Getting back to the Mills’ home,  Mom invited Freddie to have a good home style dinner, and Freddie gladly accepted. He was a bachelor, and seldom got to enjoy home cooking anymore. After dinner, they pulled Mom’s Galaxy and Dad’s Fairlane  out of the driveway, and Alton, Freddie and Lonnie pushed the Mach 1 down the open driveway and into the garage. Lonnie and Freddie offered  to help him install the driveshaft and Alton was glad Lonnie offered, as he didn’t want Dad to help, trying to avoid any more lectures. First, they removed the rest of the broken u-joint from the differential yoke, then removed the new stock Fomoco u-joint from the new driveshaft  and installed the heavy duty one in its place, as Alton wrapped up the Fomoco unit and wrapped it up in the box the other came in as a “future spare.”  Simple enough.
“Man, what in the world happened to bust that u-joint like that?” asked Lonnie as he, Freddie and Alton were all  on their backs, up under the car on jack stands. “It knocked the hell out of your exhaust pipes, mufflers and floor pans! Most times, you can hear one going bad, and you just check if one is going bad by getting your rear axle off the ground and with the engine out of gear, you rotate the rear wheels and look and listen to see if the u-joint is loose and ‘clacking.’ didn’t hear or feel any of  that before?”
Alton said, “Hear it? How the heck would I hear it over the engine?”
“Yeah, ya got a point there...What were you doing, a “hole shot”or something?” asked Lonnie.  Lonnie was a street-wise hot rod guy himself and had often raced his 1966 2+2 Mustang Fastback, with only a few “speeding violations” in that time. “It wasn’t a “hole shot,” it just broke when it was shifting into second, that’s why I couldn’t stop and it just fell out, doing all this shit!” said Alton, in a distressed tone.
As they managed to line up the front transmission slip yoke splines, they inserted it solidly into the transmission.
Lonnie, taking the lead mechanic’s position said “There, it’s in right, good, up front, now just make sure the tranny’s in neutral, so you can rotate the driveshaft if you have to. Now, hold the drive shaft’s rear up and slide it real slow and easy back a bit to seat the u-joint in the rear yoke’s saddles and you can also rotate the rear tire really slow to turn the differential until everything lines up just right,  and then just bolt the u-joint in.... and don’t break off the u-bolts either!!!” cautioned Lonnie, crawling out to clean his hands and leave Alton and Freddie to finish the job.
“Sure, thanks, Lonnie!” After finishing up the job, and taking one last look at the mufflers, axles and undercarriage in general before they lowered the jack stands, Alton noticed  that the rear wheel wells inner flanges had been bent out a bit, bulged out from the several times  he had bottomed out the rear, hitting down on those big fat wide Mickey Thompson tires. He looked at the tires’ outer tread casing and noticed they had been worn down, considerably, like the way front tires wear out on the outside or inside tread when a front-end is badly out of line. However, there weren’t any “cords” showing yet, so he figured they were OK, just worn. He could always buy a new set. Alton and Freddie lowered the jack stands down and pulled them out of the way.  Alton  took a deep breath, turned the ignition, and his Mach 1 came back to life as Alton, breathed out  a sigh of relief. Now, all he needed to do was cleanup, and be ready to go cruisin’ again tomorrow night, on Friday after work!

Chapter 62 - “The Other Guy”

It was now Friday, August 27th, and as he wasn’t ready yet to face Lisa Ann’s mom and her scorn for him, Alton called Lisa Ann at home during his lunchtime at work,  when her mom was also at work. He asked Lisa Ann if she could meet him at Sound City that Friday night. Lisa Ann, said, “Sure, but don’t ask to bring me home...My mom wants me to stay away from you for a while.”
“OK, no problem, I had that considered, but I’m hoping we could have a night together, soon, just you and me, sweet thing.” asked Alton...”I miss you!”
“I miss you, too, Alton”...said  Lisa Ann, with the quiver of crying just under her breath.
That evening, about 8 PM Alton was pulling into Sound City’s lot, and he spotted Becky, standing outside with some other friends, and she desperately waved him over.
“Hi Becky. What’s going Lisa Ann here yet?” asked Alton.  “Yeah, inside but give her a few minutes, would, ya, please just stay out here with us, OK?” said Becky who reached out and grabbed his shirt sleeve as he was about to turn and go in.
“What’s the matter? Why are you grabbing to stop me?” asked a surprised Alton.
“Oh, OK, well, her old boyfriend showed up, and she asked me to stop you from going, she’s not seeing him...we didn’t know he was going to show up!..Please, just let her talk to him a few minutes, SHE’LL GET RID OF HIM and don’t you go causing her any more problems or heartache, OK?” pleaded Becky, who thought of Lisa Ann like a sister.
“What’s his name, what’s he look like, do I maybe know this jerk?” Alton was already getting his hackles up, thinking about this other fellow probably being the one she was having had sex with before him.
“No, don’t think so, the guy’s not one of the cruisers we know out on Williamson Road. He’s in college, at that new Virginia Western and they just met back around Christmas, but he’s a nut job and has been following her around ever since they broke up!” answered Becky.
“I’ll get rid of his ass!” growled Alton, as his face and neck reddened, a warning sign.
“No, please don’t go in there, I promised Lisa Ann I wouldn’t let you!” pleaded Becky.
“I’ll give it ten minutes, that’s all” ...what’s this jerk drive, anyhow? hissed Alton.
Becky answered “I’m not sure, but it’s not a hot rod...I think he drives his Dad’s car. We saw it one time, when we were driving back from here, sitting at the stop sign between her house and mine.”
Alton just realized that was where the odd car had started following him that Sunday evening after he had brought Lisa Ann home from the “night of ‘Woodstock love-in’ on the back greens of Ole Monterery Golf Club. Furious at that thought, Alton pulled away, ignoring Becky’s pleas and stomped into Sound City looking to kick this guy’s rear end.  There stood Lisa Ann with tears in her eyes, but she was standing alone at the edge of the dance floor watching the other teens dancing.
“Lisa Ann, where’s that son of a bitch?” barked Alton.
‘Why, what, uh, who, who do you mean, Alton?” said Lisa Ann, trying to feign surprise.
“You know, that prick that’s been bothering you, and now he’s bothering me! I think that creep tried to follow me home from your house that Sunday night we made love!” snarled Alton who was scanning the room looking for some guy acting suspicious.
“How did you know about “Billy?”..Did Becky tell you??? Or did my Mom???” asked Lisa Ann her eyes swollen with more tears.
“So, he’s “Billy,” huh?...Your Mom told me on the phone that you and her had trouble with some guy,  and now he’s screwing with me, too!!! He’s the reason your Mom doesn’t want me around, afraid she’ll have two guys stalking you!!! Damn bastard! I’ll beat his ass!!!”Where is he???!!!”
“He’s not here, he’s gone...I told him you were coming, and so he left about 15 minutes ago. I was crying, so I didn’t go out and join Becky who was waiting to stop  you. Please, I told him to leave me alone...that I had someone” said Lisa Ann in a soft, whimpering manner.
Alton just realized Lisa Ann was wearing the new Peace Sign necklace and earrings he bought her at Heronimus. He was pleased she told this “Billy” guy she had “someone new,” him. As Alton reached out gently and raised the necklace medallion up to the light, it sparkled and he said, “I hope you told this creep I bought you this.”
“I did...I told him you bought these for me.”
“Good, honey, ah, Lisa Ann...say, let’s get out of here and go for a ride! My car’s all fixed...oh, I forgot to tell you, I almost had an accident, well, not an accident, I broke a part on my car Wednesday night after your Mom talked mean about me! Ha!!!” said Alton, a little more like himself after the anger about the mysterious “Billy” subsided. Lisa Ann said, “Sure, but I have to go home with Becky taking me, and not too late, so Mom won’t fuss...OK?

Chapter 63 - “Saturday Night Blues”

True to his word, last night on Friday, he had taken Lisa Ann back to Sound City  after a bit of”cruisin’ to meet back up with Becky, as her Mom had required to be her ride home., Now she wasn’t able to come out on Saturday. When Alton called and asked “Why????” Lisa Ann said her Mom wanted her to stay close to home. Her Mom  was an astrology fanatic, and told Lisa Ann there was deep danger in her horoscope, especially her “chart” that chronicled Lisa Ann’s birthday, the hour, and what planets  were in their “rising sign” and other mumbo-jumbo-lings.
“That’s crazy!!!” protested Alton, but Lisa Ann reminded him that’s how she knew his “birthsign” was Taurus and also hers, because she had been exposed to this type of  “controlling one’s destiny according to the stars” since she was a child, and everyday was either a “Mercury’s retrograd” or the “Moon’s in the Seventh House” or other mystical sounding jargon.
“I guess me winning tickets on Friday the 13th to the Black Oak Arkansas concert and you and me making love on Friday the 13th is a bad luck thing then?” joked Alton.
“No, that’s just silly superstition.” countered Lisa Ann. “Please, just be patient, Mom will loosen her grip on me, soon, I promise!
“Sure thing ‘Shortcake.’ ..sorry you can’t come out...I’ll be thinking of ya, kiss kiss!!!” said Alton as he closed out his phone call.

Chapter 63 - “Saturday Night Blues” (continued from Part 4)

Thinking of this being the last Saturday before Labor Day weekend, Alton remembered the hoopla of this particular weekend of the recent past two years. It was a time to rejoice in the fun of the past summer and try to wring as much out of the next two weekends as possible.
First item was finding a 21+ year old friend to get him the “high-test’ drinks of another fifth or two of bourbon and maybe some rum. As he was out scouting for such friends it was getting close to 4:30 PM and 5 PM was when the liquor stores closed. So, being quite the thinker, he figured he’d just park out near the ABC store at Crossroads and wait until he spotted  one of his older  “drinking friends.” It was getting close, about 4:45 when he saw Scott, his older and wiser drag racing mentor pull up in that unusual Corvette of his.
“Hey Scott, my man!” piped Alton as he bip-bopped across the parking lot as Scott was climbing out of the Corvette with looks of pain on his face.
“Say, you OK?” asked Alton sympathetically as Scott was limping slightly.
“Yeah, sure, just getting old...that damn clutch in this Corvette is killing my left knee! Sure wished I had an automatic like you do, thinking about getting a racing Turbo Hydramatic 400 and trashing that 4 speed! What’s up with you, kid?” asked Scott.
“Right now, a hankerin’ for some good old Jack Black and some Bacardi Silver, that’s all!” I just don’t have my license with me and...” said Alton as he was acting like he couldn’t find it in his billfold.
“...and since we both like liquor, would I just buy it for you, right?” replied Scott with a wink. “Give me about 20 dollars, kid... that’ll buy you a fifth  of each.”  To keep down any suspicions from any cashiers  inside the store, Alton acted like he was outside just admiring Scott’s Corvette.
Scott came out and setting some bottles in bags behind his drivers seat and two others into the passenger side  floorboard, he motioned for Alton to get in the passenger seat. Scott said, “Let me circle the block and then I’ll come back and let you out near your car so everything’s cool, OK?” As they pulled out, the ‘Vette rumbled and lurched with each gear without any excessive acceleration.  Scott said, “The boys out here said you had a rough night the other night, broke your rear u-joint and driveshaft, too...Right?”
“Sure did, scared the hell outta me, too!!!” answered Alton.
“Good thing it was the back u-joint and not the front coulda gotten yourself killed, boy!” “How so?” questioned Alton. “Simple..Tell ya in a minute...first, let’s pull over here in Woolco’s..I’d like a drink. Reach in behind your seat and you’ll find a steel coffee cup.” said Scott. Scott motioned for Alton to open his bottle of rum, and once opened, he reached over and tilted Alton’s hand holding the bottle and  poured himself a triple shot out of it into the cup...Three big swallows, and the cup was dry! Even though Scott had put his own bottles in back of his seat, he figured Alton would give him a “gratuity.”
“Ah, thanks, kid,.. that takes me back to my old Navy days down ‘round Puerto Rico! Com’ on, you, too, take the ‘trilogy,’  three big shots, straight up, no chaser!”
Alton was always keen to any drinking challenge, and obliged, however he was really gambling with fate, being he was out ready for  a cruise night.
“Here’s what I meant..a minute ago...if that had been the front u-joint and it had exploded just right, it coulda sent a shard right through your floorboard and killed ya, like a big bullet slug!!!...or, if the driveshaft had fallen down just right, it would have pole vaulted the ass-end up and rolled ya! were lucky it was the rear one.”
Alton responded with, “Yeah? Well, my brother Lonnie told me that what happened the other night coulda killed me, too, if the damn thing had torn my gas tank open and the sparks set it off LIKE A BOMB!”
“Here, have another drink... Here’s to ya kid, may your ups and downs all be in bed! Ha!!!”  Scott had a Beach Boys 8 track in the dash player, and pushing the button just right, their tune “The Sloop John B” came on. “That’s one of the first blues songs ever, back around the turn of the century written about a sailor’s blues down in the Bahamas, drinking rum, fightin’ and missing home..I suppose it’s a good blues song to drink by, whatcha think???”
Alton asked Scott  to run him back over to his car...he hadn’t planned on getting such a strong buzz this early, but what the heck...he was drinkin’ with the coolest dude he ever met!
“Thanks for being my booze buddy, Scott!”said Alton as he carefully got out of the low-riding Vette carrying his two bottle babies with a little bit of sway in his step. He opened up the blanket in the Mach 1’s trunk and folded up the middle a bit to keep the bottles from smashing together. If there was one thing that rum and whisky did to Alton, it made him braver, bolder and more bombastic than he really was. He was feeling his oats as he would do 75 mph sprints past the cruisin’ crowds and hear the roar of the back pressure bellow as he’d back off  coming from his dual exhaust, and as he’d pass the crowds parked street side he’d hear a collective yell of “Moonlight!” Yes, his car was something to be proud of, yet it always seemed empty without the warm, round fanny of a good looking honey “riding shotgun” with him.

Chapter 64 - “Who Wants To Ride The Pony?”

There were lots of girls out tonight, all looking good or maybe those silver shots of rum turned even “dogs” into “foxes.” Alton was circling the McDonald’s when this mighty fine blonde wearing madras hot pants had pointed her tush out as she was getting into her little MG.
“Hey baby, that’s a mighty fine little wagon you got there!” chirped Alton as he stopped to admire her getting in. She replied,”This is my little baby!” Alton said, “No..not that ‘wagon,’ I mean the waggin’ of that fine little butt of yours!” She turned quickly and said “You wished!” Alton so cool, said, “A genie in a magic bottle of rum’s granted me my wish.” You like rum, hum?”
The blonde’s interest was piqued...she was 19, and herself not old enough to legally drink hard spirits. She asked, “You have some rum?”  Alton replied, “Yeah, where’s our party?” The blonde who lived in nearby Boxley Hills said, “Let me drive home and park this, OK?..follow me and  let me go tell my folks I’m going out and we’ll find us a party!
This adventurous  girl’s name was Sherry and she had graduated from Northside, so Alton didn’t know her, but that rum made him think he could. She hopped in and was crazy about the thrilling speed this car could attain in mere seconds. Circling Lendy’s, Sherry started yelling out at some other Northside girls shew knew and said, “Hey, let’s all ride!” As Alton made the circle, stopping for “party girls” he now had 3 more giggling young ladies riding with him, and in the back, one had to straddle the driveshaft tunnel. Alton looked at her all humped over the tunnel and said, “Girl, you’d have gotten your rocks off when my drive shaft started pounding the underside the other night!” The four girls all laughed at that decidedly erotic sounding statement! They pulled up on the hill at North 11 Bowling Alley and parked as Alton got out and produced the bottle of rum, and there was enough left for him and the four girls to all have 2 shots apiece. A bargain in babes values! One of the girls had a couple of joints, too, so everybody got happy, real quick. Another girl offered Alton something he hadn’t seen before, two little pills that looked as harmless as baby aspirin and told him to take them when he started feeling tired, and that they’d make him want to howl at the moon!
Alton was always enjoying being a bit of a show off, so he asked the girls to do him a little favor. As it was starting to get a bit dark, he asked them to all flash everybody their breasts at Mr. Moe’s, not quite the big scene like at Lendy’s but he’d get to see all of the nice ones in the process. Only one agreed to do it, the girl with the pills, apparently a hard core party girl, but since the others wouldn’t, that threw cold water on the expectant fun. So, Alton said, “Back to Lendy’s!”  As the other three hopped out and got back to their own cars, Sherry stayed put, bending her knee up  and reached her bare foot over into Alton’s lap and started pressing his manly hood like a gas pedal and said, “Make me squeal!”
Alton grinned, stopped and watching the traffic for the right timing, did a 180 degree smoking burnout, back towards the North 11 bowling alley, where deep in the back parking lot, Sherry gave him his wish.
Rum and pot had a bad habit of making Alton take too many wild and crazy chances. He had also popped the two pills the girl from Northside had given him. While cruising down near Woodson Pontiac,  in the heavy pre-holiday weekend  traffic he was doing more of his thrilling second gear sprints with another street rodder alongside his door when all of a sudden a dark green Olds F-85  pulled straight out in front of him. Sherry screamed as Alton didn’t have room to stop, and skidding had nowhere to go but up  over the curb and riding the sidewalk, he had to veer sharply right back into traffic,  or hit a telephone pole. Enraged, Alton laid on his horn and screamed every curse word he could think and bulleted ahead to catch the Olds. As he pulled along side ready to throw a beer can out and strike the car, he realized this was just an old lady driving, with white hair in a bun wearing big horn rimmed glasses. Probably somebody’s grandma. The demon rum, pot and pills  had just about caused him a big accident, as it wasn’t the old lady’s fault, really...This was a 45 MPH zone and Alton was doing at least 65.
Alton was seriously high, and slammed on the brakes sliding in sideways to a stop in front of the Dabny tire store on Williamson Road  where the big 16’ tall fiberglass “Paul Bunyon” advertising figure stood holding a big tire and a tire iron. All crazy, Alton laughed at himself, showing off to Sherry, as he climbed up the bolted-down figure until he was standing up on the giant’s arms. With one hand holding around the giant’s neck, he unzipped his pants and pulled them and his boxer shorts down, flashing his rump at the many other cruisers from up high, under the store’s sign lights as they drove by. Passing him by, the jokes yelled out were “Hey, there’s a full moon tonight!!! Cruisers were laughing, and honking their horns in applause for such a dumb and hilarious display.
Even Sherry started honking the Mustang’s horn! At that height Alton could see that about two blocks  away a Roanoke City patrol car was heading his way with its flashing lights on. Already pepped up, he literally jumped the ten feet down off the fiberglass giant like a paratrooper practicing landings, and he jumped into the Mustang like a bank robber getting away...laughing like maniacs, he and Sherry zipped back and forth down the back and side streets, until they came back out and went up to Preston Park and had another escapade out by the see-saws.

Chapter 65 - “I Really Want To See You”

Labor Day Weekend 1971 started with a lot of enthusiasm for Alton, as he was allowed to come and pick up Lisa Ann for a date that Friday, September 3rd  after work. He didn’t know why, but her Mom had relented as there had been more trouble with Lisa Ann’s old boyfriend, “Billy” and she figured the athletic Alton would be a natural “deterrent.”  “Billy” had been  seen again several times very close to their house, turning around at the Kennedy Street dead-end which was only one house away from where Lisa Anna and her Mom lived. The “Dead End” sign was a local joke as with the name “Kennedy Street” it implied the assassinated  “dead” President Kennedy, and the other local joke was the next street over was “Mansfield Street” and the joke there was “Watch For Bouncing Heads.” regarding the urban myth that Jane Mansfield had been decapitated in the horrible car wreck where she was killed with two others back in 1967. Sick humor, for sure, but that was what kids and young adults laughed about.
Alton was all presentable this Friday eve, had showered and washed his long dark blonde “beach shag” hairstyle, combed neatly, shaved, brushed and  flossed his teeth, put on his usual splash of aftershave and wore for only the second time his sharp white sports coat, red dress shirt and tie that Mom and Dad had bought him on his 20th birthday for formal parties and “courting.” His Dad and Mom asked, “What’s the special occasion, son? He replied he just wanted to look good at a party. Norman and Helen smiled, pleased to see he was wearing the suit they had bought him on his birthday. He even joked, “I told them I’d be wearing my “birthday suit” at which Mom and Dad had a sweet chuckle. Mom Helen said, “Before you leave, I want to get a photo of you wearing look so handsome!” Dad Norman nodded, proud of the fine figure of a young man their son was becoming.
He wore it tonight for the approval of Lisa Ann’s Mom, and suggested to Lisa Ann to dress extra fashionable, prim and proper and not wear anything suggestive, as it would alert the suspicions of her Mom. He told Lisa Ann to say they were were going to a “wedding reception.” When asked “where and what are you two going to do?” Alton replied with the unique oblique answer well rehearsed, “Ma’am, I’ve been invited to a wedding reception, and I’d like to have Lisa Ann as my date, thank you.” Lisa Ann’s Mom gave the suspicious “questioning eye” to Alton, even asking “Where was this “reception?” and Alton replied “At the bride’s parents’ house...out in the county, Ma’am.” Her mom said to Lisa Ann, “Remember, that full moon out tonight will make people act without thinking!”
As the last thing he saw as they drove away from the front of their house  was Lisa Ann’s mom’s watchful stare.  No more than a few hours later, they would be up on the hill near Hollins College in the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge having honeymoon- style lovemaking themselves. In fact, Alton could have probably told them at the check-in counter that they were “newly weds,” but Lisa Ann wasn’t wearing anything relative to being  “the bride.”
As Lisa Ann waited down in the nearby Pizza Joe’s, a Hollins College-area popular spot that was already hopping as students were already in for their fall semester,  Alton drove up by himself to the Howard Johnson’s. He checked in signing his real name so nothing looked suspicious, got his room keys, and left, driving back over to Pizza Joe’s. Alton went in and he and Lisa Ann enjoyed a pizza, drank some 3.2 beer and waited till the sun was setting.  Since the hotel check-in was a separate building down close to and facing Williamson Road, Alton and Lisa Ann  just rode up the hill to the room, unnoticed. This was so romantic for them both, as the rising full moon met them in the twilight sky, and even though Alton was quite the playboy, he wanted Lisa Ann’s love more than anything he could think of. This was the first time they didn’t have to worry about being interrupted, or found out.
In the cool air conditioned comfort of the modern hotel room, they snuggled close and talked “pillow talk” with each other after their wonderful and beautiful lovemaking...they were happily falling in love. As Lisa Ann put her head sweetly on Alton’s chest, he gently pulled up a lush lock of her beautiful hair, and laying it across his face felt its silky and sweet smelling texture. Yes, she was beautiful...and yes, she was his, if he wanted to be hers as well.
With the orange glow from their closed hotel window drapes visible from the pool, little did they know it, but sitting there in the light of the full moon,  “Billy” sat there, watching, waiting, agonizing over his lost love of Lisa Ann. He had seen them pass by on Williamson Road and drove slowly and stealthy enough to stop and wait concealed across the street as Alton and Lisa Ann had their dinner, and then observe them driving up to the hotel. He had parked and walked up to the pool and just sat and watched for the few hours,  in ever-deepening madness for the girl he wanted, but who didn’t want him.
As it was approaching 10:30 PM, Alton and Lisa Ann had showered together and were lovingly toweling each other off. Getting completely redressed, they  checked the room over thoroughly to be sure nothing was thoughtlessly left behind.  As they approached Lisa Ann’s house, it was now 11:20, ten minutes before the time her Mom required her to be home. Alton stopped a block short on her street and gave her his “goodbye sweetheart” kisses, there, by the very bright  full moon shining in through the Mach 1’s wide windshield. As surprised at himself as was Lisa Ann, Alton whispered, “I really want to see you, and for you to be my girl...I love you.”

Chapter 66 - “Romeo and Juliet”

Pulling up in front of Lisa Ann’s house, he shut off the engine. Before he could give her one last kiss and get out and walk her to her front door, her mom came storming out and grabbed open Lisa Ann’s passenger door. Without even saying “Hello” or “To Hell with you,” her mom  briskly  pulled her by the arm back down the sidewalk and into the house, slamming the door behind them. Alton was completely shocked, as he thought getting Lisa Ann home with a few minutes to spare would be considered proper. As he sat with the engine off, wondering what the situation was,  he saw the light come on up in Lisa Ann’s upstairs bedroom. She  opened the curtains and opening  the window, leaned out into the bright moonlight and beconned   him to step close so she could tell  him something. Quietly he walked up under the  window looking up as she whispered, “Please call me tomorrow!!!”  He nodded, “OK, of course!” As he walked over and started to get in his car, he thought to himself how this reminded him of the balcony scene in the old Romeo and Juliet movie he had seen on late-night TV. He looked back once more looking at her over the roof of his car, and for a few moments just stood and looked at her. Then, he blew her a kiss, got in, turned on the engine, but instead of peeling out, he drove away as quietly as he could, and driving away,  waved goodbye.
As he was coming down Fugate Road towards the Williamson Road stop sign,  he didn’t see that once more, a dark coupe had been only a half block  behind him. His thoughts were deep about the wonderful love he and Lisa Ann had shared, and now his thoughts were mixed and now marred by the hateful actions of Lisa Ann’s mom. Suddenly he was livid with rage...What was going on??? Why did he suddenly have so much parent trouble with any of his girlfriends, especially Lisa Ann’s mom? Even trying to be a gentleman to impress her mom, he was getting treated like he was scum, and he wasn’t used to this type of rejection. Was it simply because he was twenty...or something else???

Chapter 67 - “Jack Pack”

Since he’d been out with Lisa Ann that night he had only drank a few beers, but he now  savored the taste of that half bottle of Jack Black he still had in his trunk. It wasn’t too awfully late, just a bit before midnight, and he knew he could easily get a few “buddy beers” at the Mick or Mack cruisers’ parking lot party. Doing some warm up sprints, as he approached the stretch of Williamson Road where all the crowds gathered to watch the hot cars, he gave a nice “show run” past the crowd and made a u-turn at the McDonald’s, coming back to the lot as did several more cars in a roundabout parade fashion. The front row street side was completely full of cars and people milling around, so Alton had to park on a back row. Getting out, he took off his jacket and tie, tossed them in the back seat, rolled up his sleeves, and in only about five minutes he found himself with a nice cold “buddy beer” in hand. Not wanting to share his bottle of Jack, though, he slowly walked back and discreetly got it out of the trunk, and sat inside, taking a big hot shot, chased with a nice cold slug. “Ahh,” he thought, that was good, so, let’s have one more...”Ahh,” happened about three more times, as his mood lightened.
Getting out, he folded up his jacket and tucked it into the trunk, along with the bottle having  about 5  shots left, walked up to join the crowd  who were there and  see what was happening. There was a lot of laughing and loud music playing out of the car stereos as the smell of reefer was coming in from different directions. There was a lot of talking and pointing as a new car to the strip was tearing by. It was a fire engine red 67 Chevy Nova, but it was obviously a street racer, with the rear fender well radius cut out to accommodate those wide series tires on ET mag wheels, ladder bar rear suspension and a fiberglass hood with a high cowl induction reverse-draft scoop in it. This car was from neighboring Franklin County, and had handily beaten several of the faster cars out there tonight in short little two block drags. It had made the pass by going south and so now did the u-turn at the Mountain Trust Bank lot, and now came stopping curbside with the engine rumbling as the driver was talking out the passenger window to some of the folks watching the action and he asked if there were any others there who’d like a chance to beat this older hot running Chevy.
Someone yelled, “Hey! Moonlight’s here...He’s always up to race!!! Go get Alton!!!!” As several of the guys spotted Alton taking a toke from a girl leaning against her car, they  came and ganged around him saying “Hey, there’s a Chevy out there says your ‘Moonlight Mustang’ is just an old nag...go show ‘im, Moonlight!!!!”
If there was one thing Alton loved as much as girls, it was racing his Mach 1. Over the past two summers it seemed he could surprisingly win most races  with his mostly stock Mustang over quite a few cars that had more horsepower and speed equipment. The “magic” seemed to point to the feeling that his “Moonlight Mustang” was more than just a fast rolling hunk of seemed to have a soul, like an animal that waited and wanted to please its master. Yes, Alton and his ‘Moonlight Mustang’ were a formidable team. The famed stock car racing champion that his dad and uncles knew, the late great Curtis Turner of Roanoke who was killed in a plane crash, was said by many to be able to wring more speed out of any car he drove in a race, and it was his sheer masculine bravado, honed skills  and fearless attitude that made him a winner many times and much more than most. Alton, too, possessed the “need for speed” and now had that fearless “go all the way” attitude.
“OK, OK, OK, GET THE F-----G HELL OUTTA THE WAY!” shouted Alton out his window and honking his horn at the crowds standing in the parking lot lanes as he loped along, coming out onto the little short block of Hildebrand Road. Doing a squalling burn out up to the Williamson Road stop sign, he followed that with a right turn fishtailing out to smoke the tires out past the parked Chevy Nova, still sitting and idling with that “frump-frump-frump” rumble out of the exhaust. As several of the spectators jumped out into the street to watch  for a clear spot in the traffic, they motioned for Alton to reverse back down and for the Chevy to both back up to a line up at the corner of Hildebrand and Williamson Road, so the entire Mick or Mack parking lot spectators could watch the excitement.  As they both sat side by side, Alton looked over at the heavy set guy, with the buzz cut haircut, who was definitely a country boy, and he had a Rebel flag stretched like upholstery across the Chevy’s back seat.
“So, ya got an old beer-can Ford, huh?” yelled the country boy out his driver side window.
“Yep, Bucky!!! A Ford,...ole Henry put America on wheels, and Chevy made taxis for folks who couldn’t afford one!” laughed Alton.
The country boy said, “Well, I gotta tell ya, I can’t race past that Arby’s up there, as if I go any further, this Chevy will be going so fast, it’ll take off like a plane and leave the ground, son!”
“Yeah, we don’t want to see you fly away now, do we? OK, just up to Arby’s it is, but don’t blink or you’ll think I just disappeared.” chided Alton as they both whooped and laughed as they romped the gas for a high RPM launch.
The guy doing the lineup got the thrill of being like an umpire in a ball game, and everyone it seemed wanted to be one, so they took turns. As the lineup guy got the clear to race signal, he dropped his arm and it was like a screaming smoke bomb went off. Both cars looked like they popped wheelies in the blur of the take off. Alton had never done a wheelie that he knew of, but tonight it might have been the angle of the street heading north this time that gave the Mach 1 that wild burst of lift throwing the front up like a rearing horse, not real high, but impressive enough. He and the Chevy were side by side but at 3 seconds, something threw the Nova into a hard right skid. As  the country boy tried to correct, the Chevy’s passenger side rear tire hard scuffed the roadside island, and peeled the big tire off its rim, causing the Nova to drop hard over all the way over onto its passenger’s side, and after about a 100 foot  grinding, sliding, sparking stop, it  luckily had not angled enough in the slide for doing a full body roll-over onto its top. Alton backed off, and did a full brake skid trying to stop.
Making  an emergency full street u-turn, Alton came roaring back and skidded into the closed gas station’s parking lot where the Nova was still resting on its side on the right shoulder of Williamson Road. The country boy was trying to climb up and out of his driver’s side window when the chunky weight of him clamoring through the hole caused the car to drop back down hard onto  its 4 wheels  and literally threw the driver tumbling out onto the hard surface, almost looking like “Curly” from “the Three Stooges” doing a comedic prat fall.
“Oh shit!” yelled the country boy, getting up and dusting himself off with only a few scratches, mixed with hysterical laughter...Walking around to the torn up passenger side, at the sight of the full length mangled sheet metal and missing body trim he spat, ”Man, what a bunch of crap! Oh well, I told you it’d come off the ground, didn’t I?” laughed the country boy...”I just crash landed!” HAHAHAHAHAHHHHHEEHEHEHEEEEEE!!!!” With that he just scooted down sitting on the roadside, shaking his head and laughing.
As Alton looked him over, the country boy seemed OK, who even appeared  to enjoy the ruckus this has caused. Whether it was induced by whisky, pot or maybe even moonshine that had him giddy, he wasn’t too upset, just seemed to chalk it up as “life of the road.” As the Chevy took its slide on its side within view of the Mick or Mack crowd, a  bunch of the guys had run the block and a half up, and now circled the wrecked car sitting in the right shoulder of Williamson Road. Alton stood up over the country boy who was still sitting on the curb, and yelled out, “He’s alright, but let’s get that Chevy out of sight, maybe behind the station here...Com’on, let’s hurry before the cops show up!”
Country boy got up and as the driver’s door still worked, he got back in his driver’s seat and didn’t try to start it in case there was any gas spilled under the hood from the big Holly carb it had. He put the car in neutral, and steered the car now on only 3 tires, with the bad rim and the shredded tire still on the back, flopping with each rotation, as about 6  of the guys pushed him out and down behind the gas station, with the wrecked side pointing  towards the back  of the station, just in case a Roanoke County police cruiser drove around back there. He had a spare tire in the trunk, and if he could get it on in time, and it would start, he could probably limp the car back home.
Alton pulled his Mustang down in back with the wrecked car and helped the cool and crazy country boy pry open the Chevy’s jammed trunk, as they found the jack and the smaller stock spare tire. They also found several smashed quarts of Franklin County’s finest white lightning, all spilled out, and very damning evidence if any police were to stop and investigate. Alton shuddered and said, “Good thing nobody was smoking!” The other boys up on the street front hurriedly swept up the trail of busted headlight glass and damaged mirror, chrome trim and door handles that got ground  off of the Novas’  passenger side slide. Alton and country boy worked like a Junior Johnson pit crew to get the Nova back up and running.
In just a few minutes after cleaning up under the hood, they had the Chevy running again.
“Whew, thank ya, sonny! Say, what’s your name?” asked country boy.
“Alton,” “ and you’re?....”  “Bert, Bert Taylor.” “Say, you’re alright...If ya get down around Rocky Mount, just stop at the Chevy garage...ask for me”...I’ll show ya around there!”
“OK, but you better get your ass outta here before any cops show up, dig? Just get turned back south, go up about half a mile  to the Firestone store on the right, turn right on Hershberger Road, and about  two miles up, hang that second exit off onto 5-81 and follow it south to Franklin Road, and you’ll be on 220... and you know the rest from there I’m sure. Remember, ya got a headlight out on your passenger side so hope no cops pull ya for that, either, so take it easy..It was fun, damn, except for this!” laughed Alton as he punched Bert on his arm.
Bert pulled out with the damaged but still powerful Chevy, and gave a Rebel yell and a wave out to the crowd as he drove by with his good driver’s side showing.
Alton opened his trunk and took one last big swallow of the Jack and passed the rest of the  bottle over to two other guys who had helped push the wrecked Chevy.  Even if the cruisers didn’t know each other by name, they were a society of sorts, and always afforded manners to their own kind.

Chapter 68 - “Mama said ‘for you to leave me alone’”

It was Saturday September the 4th, and after a late morning rise at home, Alton did his customary chore of cutting the Mills’ home grass. Suffering with his head hurting from the excessive drinking after the incident at Lisa Ann’s house and the late night drag racing, he was hesitating calling Lisa Ann. He wanted badly  to ask what had happened to make her mom act so hostile towards him last night, but he feared her mom might answer and with the hangover he had, he might do a bit of cussing her out if she got nasty with him. He figured he’d drive over to her friend Becky’s and get Becky to ask her to come down to talk to him.  He took the chance that Becky was home, and she was, and agreed to go get Lisa Ann. Lisa Ann wasn’t housebound, she could come and go, but only if mom  didn’t think there was a boyfriend involved. Becky called Lisa Ann and asked to drop by, and if she’d  come back to her house for “girl stuff.”  Becky left, telling Alton they’d be back in just a bit.
Becky and Lisa Ann came walking down the street, Lisa Ann with tears in her eyes and when she saw Alton she came running and grabbed him as she started sobbing. “Oh, Alton, “I’m so sorry!!!” she cried.

“Sorry? ...Sorry about what???”  said Alton, puzzled by Lisa Ann’s remark.
“Mama said for ‘you to leave me alone!”
“Why, what made her get so uptight all of a sudden?..We came back on time, what’s her problem?” asked Alton totally surprised.
Crying again, Lisa Ann sobbed, “She knows we were at that motel!!!”
“How?????” asked Alton, bewildered, “How????!!!!”
Lisa Ann cried, “While we were getting ready to come home last night, about 10:30, a man at the motel called and told mamma you and I were in that room, 134...
“No way!!! How in the hell did the motel know you were with me...and really, how did they know your name, much less your phone number to call your mom????!!!!”
“Mom said the motel told her they got a call from somebody that said you and I were together, and they gave the motel my number to call home!!!”
Overhearing all this, Becky cut her eyes over to Lisa Ann and said, “Billy?”
“Billy? Who’s ‘Billy???” demanded Alton.  “What a minute, that guy, the old boy friend  that was bothering you at Sound City... that “Billy???!!!”
Becky  said, “Yeah, her old boyfriend....Billy...he’s been stalking her the last couple of weeks. I’ve seen him parked down the street at night, just sitting and looking towards Lisa Ann’s.
“I’ll beat that son of a bitch’s head in!!!!” growled Alton, but his violent reaction started Lisa Ann crying all over again.
“No, no, please don’t cause any trouble!!!” pleaded Lisa Ann.
Later that Saturday night, in his usual “cruisin’” mode, Alton probably likewise looked like a stalker as he was making a few drive-bys of Lisa Ann’s street,  looking and watching for that “dark coupe” sitting at any corners, but none were found. His car was certainly visible due to its fierce exhaust and bright yellow paint, but he didn’t venture too far down Kennedy Street to cause her mom to notice.

Chapter 69 - “A new High School and high-jinks, too!”

Tuesday September 7, was the first day of school in Roanoke, and Lisa Ann  in her little grey Volvo drove the distance over to Patrick Henry High School, as a new senior. Becky also drove, as she had to go elsewhere immediately after school, but they planned whenever possible to share rides. The rezoning that took place the year before was a heartbreaking development for Lisa Ann, as most of her friends from Breckenridge Jr. High, and her Junior year at Fleming,  other than Becky,  weren’t affected by this new change in school districts.
Getting to know these new classmates would take time, but as she was so popular at Fleming, being in many of the clubs, she’d have to try hard to get that level of recognition at this new and strange high school. Getting home after the first day, one of her other girl friends she knew from Fleming, Linda Boswell called and they talked, as they were both home before Lisa Ann’s mom got home from work. They hadn’t seen much of each other over the summer as Linda lived further out in the outskirts of Roanoke City, in Washington Heights. Catching up, Lisa told Linda of Alton and that meant lots of “girl talk,” and Linda was all ears.
“So, tell me, when will I get to meet this new boyfriend of yours?” asked Linda.
“Oh, I don’t mom’s really upset with me about that motel  this past Friday night  I told you about. She banned me from seeing him, or taking any of his phone least, when she’s at home...Maybe I could get him to meet us somewhere, when Mom thinks I’m just out with friends from school.” offered Lisa Ann.
“Say, I’ve got an idea...what would you think about getting to stay out all night with this guy Alton???” chimed Linda.
“What? How?” quizzed Lisa Ann, suddenly excited at the idea and any possibility.
“Simple!!!” said Linda...”I’ve done this several times before...You call and ask my mom if I can come over to your house for a girl sleepover party, and then I call and ask your mom if you can come and spend the night over here at my house. If your mom says she wants to talk to my mom, I’ll just say she’s not home, and you do the same if my mom asks to talk to your mom. Since you have a car, you drive over and pick me up, and it looks like I’m going to your house. Both our moms will think we’re at the other’s house, see?”
“But what if my mom says ‘No!?” doubted  Lisa Ann.
“If that happens, then no fun, but...if she does say ‘yes’ look at all the fun we’ll have...maybe I can find a boyfriend to come out with me, too!!!” returned Linda.
“OK, but when will we do this?” asked Lisa Ann...
“We’ll do the phone calling moms on Thursday night, about us spending the night on Saturday, OK? We’ll say that we’re getting together at 6 PM, and be back home on Sunday about noon..You’ll drive over to my house to be here at 6 PM, and then we’ll leave and go meet up with your  Alton down at Mr. Moe’s on Melrose Avenue,  and then go park your car close by overnight in a far corner of  the Roanoke-Salem Plaza parking lot... That way we’ll have a whole Saturday night out!!!” said an excited Linda.
“But first I need to ask Alton... if he wants to see me this way.” said Lisa Ann with a bit of  hesitation.
Linda replied “Oh, from what you told me, I’m sure he will!!!”
As Thursday came, surprisingly Lisa Ann’s mom said, “OK, but you better call home before 11 PM and let me know if everything’s alright.”

Chapter 70 - “Well Laid Plans”

At work on Wednesday, Alton took a break  at 3:30 and called Lisa Ann. He knew her mom didn’t get in for about an hour, so he could speak directly to her. After they talked a bit of ‘sweet nothings,’ he then  listened intently at her plan that they might get to see each other Saturday night, and the possibility of having another rendevous was indeed thrilling. He agreed with the plan Lisa Ann’s friend Linda had concocted, but was only hesitant about having the other girl tagging along.
“Why does she have to stay with us? Doesn’t she have a boyfriend who she could go off with?” asked Alton.
Lisa Ann answered, “Not that I know you know any guys that would like to hang out with us for a while and maybe they’d go off together later?” 
“How old is this girl?” asked Alton.
“My age, 17, almost 18, like me” said Lisa Ann, but it was a fib as Linda was actually one year younger, at 16, however soon to be 17 in only a few days.
Alton closed the phone call saying “I guess that’ll be OK, so I’ll try to see if I can find somebody, maybe my friend Freddie here at work to keep this girl company.”
It just so happened that this was the weekend Freddie had planned on going out of town to see some family, so he regrettably had to pass on the possible escapade.
Later that week after school on Friday, Becky walked  over to Lisa Ann’s, to  see if she maybe wanted to go over to Sound City with her again. Lisa Ann had been crying, and was trying to keep her mom from seeing this.
“What’s wrong?”asked Becky.
“I think I’ve got cancer!!!”cried Lisa Ann...
“Cancer???” Well, why do you think that?
“Because I’m hurting...down there.” answered Lisa Ann.
“Hurting??? How??? Have you been to a doctor?” asked Becky.
“Not yet...but I’m hurting too bad to have, you know, sex with Alton. He’s going to want me to do it again, I know, but, oh, what am I gonna do?” sobbed Lisa Ann.
“He’ll just have to understand, that’s all...besides, you’ll see if he really loves you this way, or if he just wants some” consoled Becky who held her friend’s hands...”Come on, now, dry those eyes and let’s go.”
Saturday September 11 was a typical late summer day, as Alton once again did the drill of cutting the grass and then washing his car. Just as he was about to head into the house to take a shower,  several of Alton and Lonnie’s old neighborhood friends happened to drive by, stopped and got out to just have a quick fun visit. Lonnie had been on his class of ‘66  William Fleming Football team, and several of these former classmate buddies challenged him and Alton to a little bit of backyard football. What the heck, it was good fun seeing Lonnie’s school chums again. After a bunch of laughs playing and knocking around, they all had a few beers in the garage, and then the other fellows  drove out.
It suddenly dawned on Alton that he still didn’t have a “blind date” for Lisa Ann’s girlfriend. “Say, Lonnie, wanna come out and cruise with me tonight?” asked Alton...There’s gonna be an extra young lady riding out with me and one of my girlfriends...besides, we haven’t been out as the ‘Mills Brothers’ tag team, ever...this would be a first!”
“Oh, no, ha, but thanks, Alton...I got a call this morning that I’ve got to work tomorrow, and I know you...we’d never get back home. So, that’s nice, maybe next weekend, huh?” offered Lonnie.
“That’s fine, maybe next weekend!” said Alton, as he wiped the cold beer can across his sweaty forehead. About that time, Mom opened up the back door and called them both in for a bite of  late Saturday lunch. “OK, I’m coming in for a bite, and getting a scrub,” said Alton as he bounced up the porch steps.  Dad was already seated and looking out at Alton’s car through the door asked him if he was getting any new rear tires soon, mentioning he’d looked at them while Alton was mowing and was concerned about the thinning of the treads. Alton nodded his head, “yes,” as enjoyed his macaroni and cheese and ham sandwich. After a satisfying lunch, as he got up and headed to the shower with a big smile on his face, his Mom noticed his unusual cheeriness. “Got a special date or something?” asked Helen. “Maybe, Mom.” answered Alton.  Mom also asked, “Maybe a girl you met at that party from last week, when you were in your suit?”  She had an intuition about such things it seemed, and was hoping maybe this “new girl” would calm him down from just wanting to “hot rod’ around all night in that terribly noisy and dangerous Mustang.

Chapter 71 - “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Last evening before getting home, Alton had a “drinking friend” help him restock his Mach 1 “bar” in the trunk, with his standard party inventory of a box holding a fifth of Jack Black, and another fifth of rum packed with the blanket between them, and a half-case of beer,  already  in the cooler just needing some ice. He had played it cool, didn’t stay out too late, never even went by Sound City. He also didn’t drink too much out of the inventory, so he’d be fresh for this Saturday, and have plenty of “reserve.”
Pulling into the Seven Eleven on Hershberger Road he would soon have the beers chilling on ice. What the heck, instead of waiting for the beers to get cold, along with the bag of ice, he bought another already cold 6 pack as the clerk was the same one who thought he was 21. Sitting in the parking lot, he emptied out the ice into the cooler covering the beers, and from the cold 6 pack he guzzled two nice cold Buds, as he noticed it was now about 4 o’clock.  Lisa Ann and the other girl he didn’t know yet would be meeting up with him at Mr. Moe’s on Melrose  Avenue about 6 PM.
Crushing the two empty cans, he got out, tossed them in the trash, walked over to the next door Pizza Hut to take a men’s room break, and coming back, decided to drink  “one more for the road.” Peeling out of the Seven Eleven, he flashed across Williamson Road, not only buzzed on three beers but the anticipation of another night of wild “free love.” He spent much of the next hour or so, just driving out on Melrose Avenue  wondering who he might find as a blind date for this girl. He knew Gary at the Winn-Dixie at the Roanoke Salem Plaza, but he was dating one of the high school sweethearts from William Fleming High School. On any count, if he couldn’t find some guy he knew before he picked them up, they’d all just go riding until he did!
It was now about 5:30 PM when Alton, parked at Mr. Moes, ’ saw a ragged old faded copper and white two-tone ‘62 Chevy with chrome reverse wheels pull in. He couldn’t believe his eyes, it was Willard, a guy he knew from William Fleming who was a few years older than him. Willard was an unusual sort, didn’t wear the latest anything, just regular old Sears blue jeans, with lace up boots, a cotton plaid shirt, and still combed his black hair shiny with hair tonic. Willard was a big, lanky fellow, about 6’ 3’’ and quite broad at the shoulder.
As Willard walked inside to get an order, Alton laughed to himself when he thought, “He looks like ‘Jethro’ on the “Beverly Hillbillies!” He waited until Willard came back out with his tray of burgers and fries.
“Hey Willard!” called out Alton as he got out of the Mach 1 and walked over as Willard sat at one of the little red and white metal fiberglass picnic tables out in the front as he unwrapped a Moe’s burger..
“Hey Alton!” Whatcha doin’ out this way?”  asked Willard.
“I’ve got myself a date with two, yes, two, count ‘em, two little babes, and they’re gonna meet me right here in about half an hour...Say, what are you doing this evening?...Want to go cruisin’ with the other girl?” setting Willard up as a possible candidate for the other girl. Since Willard had a car, perhaps he could take the other girl while he and Lisa Ann could have private time together. That was the idea.
Willard took the bait and replied, “Wasn’t doing anything special...but does that mean you’ve got both of these girls for yourself? ‘Cause I’m not doing anything special.”
“No, man, I’ve got one solid and the other one is just her friend...they’re going to be here in just a bit.”
Willard, liking this prospect asked Alton if he’d like a “drink.”  “Of course, what’ve got?” asked Alton.
“I’ve got some Country Club Malt Liquor, and some orange-flavored gin.” answered Willard.
“Orange flavored gin????Ha, what in the world you got that weird shit for? Oh,  what the hell, yeah, give me a few shots of that stuff, after I go buy a Seven Up in Moe’s.” replied Alton.  Willard stepped over to his car and got his bottle out, in a brown paper bag which gave away its contents. Alton came back out, poured  about a third  of the Seven Up out and poured about two or three shots of the gin into the cup. Using the drink straw as a swizzle stick, it became an amber colored drink that resembled Prestone antifreeze! Alton joked, “Tasty!!!”
As the half hour ticked by, he told Willard that he hoped he would take the other girl out for a ride later in his car, so he could have his time alone with Lisa Ann. “No problem, buddy!” answered Willard. Alton was drawing down the last few ounces of his “antifreeze,”  when Lisa Ann in her little grey Volvo and the other girl, Linda drove in.
Alton slapped at Willard’s shirt sleeve and said, “Let’s go check out your gal!’”
Getting up from the table to go with Alton and meet the girls, Willard asked “Which one?...the one with the pretty red hair?” “Hell no, that’s my baby! You have the other one!” blurted Alton as he staggered slightly, getting up from the table.
Lisa Ann looked all wide-eyed innocent at Alton as he approached her, pulling her tightly into his arms and gave her a big wet long kiss as though he was aroused enough to take her right there in broad daylight. He was encouraged by seeing she was  wearing the “peace sign” necklace and earrings he bought her.
“Oh, Alton, mmmm,  ha, that was mmmmm, something, honey....Uh, Alton, this is Linda, and she’s a classmate friend of mine. Well, is he, this fellow, your friend you mentioned, to meet her?” inquired Lisa Ann. 
The other girl Linda just stood there with a blank expression on her face and kept looking more at Lisa Ann that at Willard. It was very apparent she wasn’t excited with her blind date.
“Oh, yeah, this is ‘big Willie,’  ha!! Willard, and he’s a big cuss, ain’t he?” slurred Alton, as he’d gotten another buzz from the gin. “Can we get my car parked, maybe over to the Plaza?” asked Lisa Ann. Alton replied, “Super, I’ll follow you over, and Willard, for now you park over there, too! Maybe later you two can come back and go for a ride in your car?” Willard nodded with a big grin.
Lisa Ann and Linda crossed Melrose Avenue and drove up into the Roanoke-Salem Plaza, found a spot near the buildings as Alton followed, teasingly revving  and ripping the Mach 1 every so many  hundred feet. Alton and Willard didn’t know it, but on the drive across Melrose Avenue, Linda having heard Alton’s plan to separate them later, with her going riding with Willard told Lisa Ann in no uncertain terms that they were not going to leave her alone with Willard. Lisa Ann answered Linda’s concern that yes, “they’d all stay together,” and that would also help her put off Alton’s advances, for this time.
Willard parked along side Lisa Ann, and without a single word, Linda continually just looked blank-faced at Willard,  as they all got seated in the “Moonlight Mustang.”
Alton was also a tall fellow, taller than most, so he needed his drivers bucket seat all the way back on its track, so Linda definitely had to ride behind him. Being Lisa Ann was short, she had to have her seat almost all the way forward for the long lanky Willard to make it into the cramped back passenger seat behind her. Willard had brought the 6 pack of County Club malt liquor with him, still hooked together in its 6-pack plastic ring and had the rest of the bottle of orange gin under his arm, too.  As Alton wheeled out onto Melrose Avenue, he shot down by the Krispy Kreme doughnuts shop and hung a big right onto Peters Creek Road, heading out towards the north end of Williamson Road. Willard pulled off two of the Country Clubs and handed each of the girls one, which they both accepted, only saying, “Thanks.”

Chapter 72 - “Let’s go to the Hollins Inn!”

After making the customary cruising scene through Lendy’s, Alton, Lisa Ann, Willard and Linda finished up the Country Clubs, and needed to get some more beers out of the trunk. Further down Williamson Road he pulled in behind McDonald’s and parked while the girls went in to go to the little girls room. Alton gave Lisa Ann a 10 dollar bill to buy her and Linda something to eat. Standing inside Linda further voiced her displeasure, and told Lisa Ann, “I don’t like that guy...I wish Alton would get him gone, or maybe just go back and drop me off back near my house!”
Lisa Ann replied, “I’ll try to get Alton to take you back...I’m sorry.”
While the girls had a bite inside, Alton and Willard were outside, stretching their legs, and standing behind the Mach 1, each with their own bottle, drinking straight up and then beer chasers. As the girls finished up, Alton and Willard were talking as the girls came back out.
“Hey little mama!” said Willard, now feeling a bit loose himself. “Do’n you like ole Willie? I’m not gonna hurt ya, not at all, I just like havin’ a good time...that’s, take a drink, you’ll like it.”
Linda said, “No,...but...I’ll have what Alton’s having, thank you,” and she asked for Alton’s bottle of rum, taking a small drink, then grabbing for the beer to cool down the alcohol burn.
“Hey, whatever turns ya on, baby!” chuckled Willard.
Alton then returned the bottle to the trunk, and said to them all, “Say,  I know what we can do, let’s go to the Hollins Inn!”  Neither Lisa Ann nor Linda had ever been there, as it was an older  Hollins College hangout, and lots of the hippy-types with the rawhide, beads and  reefer went there for their good times.
Getting there in a fast sprint up North 11, Alton remembered they’d pass by the Howard Johnson’s Motel from his and Lisa Ann’s “love-in,” and on a wild whim turned back up the drive towards the same units as Lisa Ann looked at him surprised...”No, not again here, that man will call my house!!!!” pleaded Lisa Ann in a look of panic.
“Whoah, whoah, sugar, we’re not going in, I just thought you’d like to remember our time here last week.” said Alton.
“Oh, you two had a little getaway, did ya?” teased Willard as Lisa Ann looked embarrassed.
“OK, sorry, didn’t mean to upset you sugar, sorry...Let’s go onto to Hollins Inn. Say, how are you doin’ back there Linda?” asked Alton looking in the rear view mirror, noticing her sour expression.
“I’m fine, I guess.” said Linda with a bit of huff in her voice, as she kept herself tight to the door side, as far as she could stay away from the grinning Willard.
Leaving down the hill, no one noticed the lights of a dark coupe come on across the street.

Chapter 73 - “Saturday Night Special”

The Hollins Inn parking lot was crowded, and you could hear the jukebox blasting inside. Before they went in, Alton produced his bottle of rum and four more beers from the trunk,  but the girls begged off on the alcohol, saying they’d rather have a soda instead. The girls were not used to drinking and were getting a bit too high themselves, but Alton, laughing, just keep chugging down his beer and squashed the empty can. Working their way through the door and into the tight, smoky crowd, Alton led this foursome over to a side table with only three chairs, but quick thinking, he saw one loose chair across the room. They all huddled in close as a waitress took their beers and sodas  orders.
Yes, it was a rockin’ place alright. “Domino” by Van Morrison was playing loudly on the Jukebox and apparently was someone’s favorite as it was  played several more times in the next half hour. They were sitting there when other friends of Alton and Willard walked in, Rhonda,  a girl who knew them both from William Fleming, and Tommy, her boyfriend.  She had just gotten of from work, so was just being casual. Looking over at Willard, she started teasing him as he was rarely seen with a girl. They were looking around trying to scrounge up a couple of more chairs  for Rhonda and Tommy when Alton got up searching and half way across the room apparently tripped and fell over something. Getting up, his expression grew suddenly tense as  he came face to face with a guy with a dead serious look on his face.
“Hey,  bud, what just happened here?..You didn’t trip me on purpose did you?” barked Alton loudly.
“No, you’re just a clumsy fool!” spat back this stranger, who was just about Alton’s age, but had a clean-cut and pale demeanor about him.
“Oh my God!” cried out Lisa Ann. This stranger was no stranger to her..this fellow  was...Billy, her stalker ex-boyfriend. He had stealthfully followed them all into the Hollins Inn. Earlier he had sat in his  father’s dark blue Buick LeSabre coupe, parked across the street again near the Howard Johnson’s  believing that Lisa Ann and Alton were  probably going to return, but to one of the other hotels that neighbored  that night.  He knew she was away from home, as was her Volvo, so it as only a matter of thinking they would be possibly repeating their night moves from the episode last week. Alton’s Mustang was impossible to miss in any traffic, and seeing them pull up the hill and then back out, he quickly followed them, boiling in hate at the thought of Lisa Ann being out again with Alton, his only rival.
“How about I bust your head, smart ass!” growled Alton, but he was blind drunk and the guy  ducked his wild punch and pushed Alton hard up against the wall, knocking off the pool table rack hanging on a nail with a loud clatter. At that sudden ruckus, a few bouncer type guys only saw Billy on the attack, and came and grabbed Billy by his collar, twisting his  arms behind him and dragged him outside. One of the bouncers came back and wanted Alton to leave, too, but Lisa Ann and the others came forward as she told the bouncer the guy they threw out was her jealous ex-boyfriend and had started the altercation. Finally the other girl Linda, had a smile on her face. She liked excitement, and this livened her up.
As they all sat around and had more laughs, Alton sneaked Lisa Ann and Linda a few more beers.  In the mean time while telling jokes and catching up on “the news” with Rhonda and Tommy, they all forgot for a time about “Billy” and then noticed they had been there for quite some time. Looking at her watch, Rhonda said, “Oh boy, it’s after midnight...I’ve got to go.” Alton, all sleepy-eyed from too much drink asked his party what they wanted to do now.
“Let’s go get something to eat at the Waffle House, or doughnuts, anything!” the rest chimed in.  “But let Lisa Ann drive, you’re way too drunk!”
Think you can handle “Moonlight?” asked Alton.
“I believe so, I just won’t give it too much gas.” answered Lisa Ann.
Stepping out into the cool September night, the six of them walked out to where their cars were parked on the lot. About half way across the lot, out of the dark stepped Billy with a small gun in his hand. He motioned for everyone to stop, and slowly walked up to Alton with the pistol pointed at his head. He foamed on about how he and Lisa Ann were true lovers, and that “piece of junk peace sign necklace” she was wearing didn’t mean that Alton owned her...As he continued spouting into a raging tirade about Lisa Ann and how unfit Alton was for her, he didn’t notice that the big guy Willard had slipped silently  into the shadows. As his voice grew in anger  he began flailing the gun around, using it to punctuate his curses. Like an owl swooping down silently on its prey,  Willard had stepped in behind him and reached out and grabbed Billy’s hand with the gun, pulling it sharply upwards as a shot rang out towards the sky. Willard was very strong and with his extra weight and height was literally pulling Billy up off the ground and as Billy struggled, Willard raised his arm straight up and pulled the gun  right out of Billy’s hand. Laughing and shoving Billy backwards and down onto his back into the parking lot’s loose gravel, Billy looked up at him as Willard mocked him by opening up the gun’s chamber, dropping all of the bullets into his hand, then threw them, scattered  out into the darkness. Then Willard made only a stomping motion towards Billy’s head, who cringed and cried out for mercy, as Willard just kept laughing.
With a big grin on his face, Willard reached down and handed the gun back to Billy, much like a taunt, a dare to try to use it now. Billy just laid there in the damp and dirty gravel  in disbelief of what Willard had done. Everyone else said, “What? Are you crazy??? Let’s get the Hell outta Dodge!” What if the crazy guy had more bullets in a pocket??? They all broke in a trot to get to their cars.  Rhonda and Tommy took  fast steps  to her cute little blue 71 Ford Pinto.  “Moonlight’s” seating had to be quickly readjusted, for Lisa Ann to be able to drive it. That meant now that Willard had to sit behind Lisa Ann in the drivers seat, as Linda now had to sit behind Alton. Starting it up, Lisa Ann trembling, shook her head as in “What do I do now??” Alton reached over and put the car in drive as Lisa Ann accidentally threw a ton of gravel, spinning the big rear tires, until the car made it screeching out to the hard road surface. Lurching as she’d take her foot off the gas, and then again and again , until she had it up to cruising speed. Alton just chuckled at her awkwardness. Rhonda and Tommy drove out behind them.

Chapter 74 - “What now?”

It had rained a bit this evening and Williamson Road was a touch  damp. Coming to a red light at the bottom of the hill next to Brookside Golf, Lisa Ann again on take-off started spinning the tires. Toby laughed at her inexperience with raw horsepower as Linda and Willard both were exclaiming, “Ohhhh, watch out!” Coming up the hill into the Williamson Road scene, Lisa Ann drove the Mach 1 extra careful, as shouts from Lendy’s of “Moonlight” greeted them as they cruised in looking for a now rare parking spot. Rhonda and Tommy were still following, wanting to talk about that recent close call they had just had with a madman brandishing a pistol. It was now about 12:30 AM and Lendy’s  curb service was over, but the lot was still full of cars. Pulling in,  Rhonda drove up next to Toby as he yelled across to Rhonda if she and Tommy wanted to  just keep going forward and park off to themselves at the empty lot of Mountain Trust Bank, further down and close to the Firestone store on Hershberger Road. She and Tommy nodded, so back out and down to the bank’s lot they went.  He wanted to watch and see if that guy Billy was going to maybe drive past them. He also needed to sober up some, but there was the lure of the “bar” in the trunk.
They all got out and talked about that very dangerous situation where they had probably just barely escaped with their lives. Rhonda, who knew Willard as a former classmate slapped at him saying, “You big dummy, you could have gotten us all shot, ...but we didn’t, and, well,  thanks!”
Alton who had straightened up a bit, said, “Let’s just sit here, play some tunes...we’re all free and alive, ain’t we?... so let’s celebrate, have another drink,  for a while until we figure out “what now.”  He opened the trunk and now Linda, who had been the quiet one at first had since drank another beer and was getting a bit tipsy with the buzz.
Toby suggested, “Why don’t we go back and let Willard and Linda out at his car. . .and then we’ll meet up in the morning somewhere? Linda immediately protested that suggestion, “Oh no, I’m not going anywhere but staying together with Lisa Ann!!!”
“Hey, maybe you just need another drink of something, like, how about taking  a shot of that liquor, there,” said Willard pointing at Toby’s fresh bottle  of Jack Black. Lisa Ann and Linda gave  Willard a “seriously?” look.  “Com’ on, little mama, do one, it won’t hurt ya.” persuaded Willard, but she was shaking her head like a kid not wanting to take any “medicine.” Toby just laughed as he had another shot himself.
Tommy had a beer, and never really added anything to the conversation, just sat and nodded in agreement with everything going on. Rhonda wasn’t much of a drinker either, and told Toby in a whisper maybe he and Willard  might ought to take those younger girls on home, since they were underage, they could be trouble. Toby, sighed in agreement, saying, “ Yeah, you’re probably right.”  Lisa Ann overheard this and being a bit buzzed now was offended, and said, “No, damn it, we’re out for the whole night!” and reached over and pulled Toby down into a crouching  smooch.  Willard just laughed and was having a good ole time.
Rhonda said out loud this time “Hey, it’s getting mom told me to always be home by 1:30, so she wouldn’t worry, but it’s about 1:30 now...I think I’ll walk over to the phone at the Shell station, call and ask her if we can all come and bring the party home.” She was sincerely worried about the condition this mismatch of drunken older guys out with under-aged younger girls, out on a Saturday night drinking and driving, especially in such a powerful machine as  “Moonlight.” Suddenly it dawned on Lisa Ann she had forgotten to call her mom at eleven 0’clock as she was supposed to and was thrown into a panic.
“Oh no!!! I forgot to call home at 11 o’ mom’s probably having a fit!!!! I’ve got to do something!!!” Toby reached out and grabbing her gently by her arms so he could turn her to talk right into her tense eyes said, “Slow down, slow, you just call her in the morning like nothing’s happened...tell her,  you just forgot!” As he let her go,  she lost her balance and fell down scrapping her palms  on the damp pavement. 
As Toby helped her up, he asked “Are you alright, sugar?” With her palms a bit bloodied, she cried out, ‘“You don’t understand!!! If mom thinks I’m out with you, she’ll call the police!!! She will, I swear it!!!”
Toby started hearing the echoes of his Dad warning him about “the dangers of messing around with girls too young.” Now here he was with  two under-aged  teen-age girls, who were probably  a bit drunk now, and one or maybe even both now having parents calling the police to be on the lookout for them. The girls  had been doing a little drinking, and now at 1:30 in the morning out with him after curfew hours for anyone under 18. It was a very real possibility these two teen-aged girls parents had called the police, especially Lisa Ann’s mom, for he had seen and heard her reactions and threats. He stewed on that predicament, and thinking to himself, was trying to figure out a not-so-sober solution. He knew he needed to get away from this trouble brewing. He kept hearing CCR’s “Bad Moon Risin’” playing in his mind.  Toby was also thinking about the police possibly stopping him in this tricky and sticky  situation, but there hadn’t been any signs of any patrol cars much tonight, so maybe everything was quiet for a change, and it was also late. If he could just get everyone over to Rhonda’s home and off the street, everything should be OK.
Toby knew Rhonda lived out in the farthest edge of Roanoke City, in the new Wilmont Farms community which was  also out in the direction of Melrose Avenue.  It happened that Roanoke City and Roanoke County jurisdiction lines were bordered  by Hershberger Rd, Peters Creek Road and Melrose Ave. Just across from the Roanoke-Salem Plaza on Melrose was the all night Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Like the old cliche’ it was a popular stop for police officers, especially on night patrol to get a bit of coffee to help keep them wide-awake fresh and alert. Roanoke County Deputy Sheriffs George Wright and Bob Cline had both checked in with each other on their radios, and with no serious emergencies afoot, decided to meet up at the Krispy Kreme to refresh over coffee. After a few cups, it was now 1:45 AM, on this early Sunday morning. Deputy Sheriff Wright suggested that Deputy  Sheriff Cline join him in his patrol car and just park the other one, as they’d make a patrol  round together out to Williamson Road area to be sure everything was quiet and normal, as it should be. Stepping out into the night air, George Wright said, “Glad it’s a quiet night for a change...hope it stays that way.” Bob Cline nodded, as they got in Wright’s patrol car, they headed out towards East Hershberger Road on the way to Williamson Road.
It was also about 1:45 AM as Rhonda and Tommy had come back from calling her mom who said, “Sure, bring your friends on home!” She asked Toby if he knew where Wilmont Farms was, and he said, “Yes, just tell me the address.” She also asked, ‘Who’s driving?” Toby stood up acting fairly coherent, and said, “Me, of course!”
The younger girl Linda was complaining she felt like she might throw-up, and in a bad tempered moment, Toby barked, “Damn it, ya better not in my Moonlight!” His patience was growing thin, and now it looked like he and Lisa Ann were certainly missing “their night” together. He jerked open the trunk, rattling around and found the empty plastic ice bag, and said rather hatefully,  “Here!!! You stick this over your mouth ‘til we get to Rhonda’s, dig???”  Cutting his eyes now back at Lisa Ann, he was mixed up in a drunken haze between being mad and being sympathetic.  Everyone loaded back up as Rhonda pulled out first, taking the right turn onto Hershberger Road, this time in odd fashion as the little putt-putt Pinto was leading the Mach 1.

Chapter 75 - “Heart beating in his  ears”

Rolling along in the little Pinto, Tommy asked Rhonda if her mom minded if he stayed the night as well, and she replied, “Of  course not, you’ll just have to sleep on the couch, or the floor like everyone else. . .and whatever you do, don’t mention that crazy boy with the gun tonight, or momma will never let me out again until I’m 40!!!” At that statement, when she heard herself say it, she suddenly envisioned one of these 4 loose-tongued  friends coming right out and laying it down in a story for her Mom and maybe even Dad to hear.
Quickly thinking to herself, she slowed down to about 25 miles per hour on the 45 mph Hershberger Road heading west as Toby got dangerously close up on her bumper,  blinking the Mach 1’s lights, like “What’s going on?”  She put her arm out of her open window and motioned for him to pull alongside so she could tell them all, “Don’t say anything at all about the guy with the gun!!!”
Toby pulled  alongside, but with the wind blowing past the windows and his exhaust so loud it was hard to hear Rhonda’s  small feminine voice. They had just passed the Woolco parking lot on the right, the last place on this stretch of  4-lane Hershberger  Road where they could pull over  and now were driving  along the long un-shouldered stretch by the airport. Lisa Ann was also trying to hear and understand as well, but it was all, “What? Huh? Talk louder!!!”  As Rhonda and Tommy both were yelling out in unison, “Don’t say anything about the guy with the gun!!!”, suddenly Toby was distracted by a commotion going on in the Mach 1’s back seat...Linda was apparently getting ready  to throw up and was now trying to get her head out of the back driver’s side window!
Toby  was extremely sensitive about his “Moonlight” getting nastied up, and here was an under-aged teenage girl, he didn’t know or care for  getting ready to spew  vomit all over his interior. In a rage he floored the Mach 1 trying to get across the 5-81 overpass ahead on Hershberger Road, and into the gas station on the other side. All Rhonda saw as they passed in front was a cloud of tire smoke and a roar like a jet engine as the Mach 1 literally took off like a shot out of a cannon.
Heading towards Williamson Road, Deputies Wright and Cline had just passed over the Hershberger Road  “cloverleaf exchange” 5-81 overpass and as they approached the airport, seemingly out of nowhere they saw the yellow Mustang like a  lightning bolt scream past the little Pinto in a blaze of excessive speed and tire smoke. “Good lord, that Mustang’s in a terrible hurry, we better try to find out what he’s up to and where he’s heading, said Deputy Sheriff Wright as he slammed the brakes down for an  open u-turn turnaround, throwing on his patrol car flasher lights, and making a full-throttle effort to catch up. He was concerned they would lose sight of the car, which at this point had just about disappeared into the horizon, and then no telling what may happen next. Deputy Sheriff Cline said, “I believe I recognize that car, and if it is, that boy doesn’t live out in the direction they’re headed, either.”
After Toby had launched out past Rhonda at a high rate of acceleration, he panicked realizing  that the oncoming single car in the opposite lanes he just passed was a patrol car   and as he saw them, he knew they also saw him going at least 90 MPH...Oh No!!!! As he caught a glimpse in his rear view mirror of the patrol car’s pursuit lights coming on,  Toby could hear his heart beating in his ears, knowing that if he was stopped he was going to be caught with two underage girls, both probably buzzed and out past curfew, it’d mean 2 counts of contributing to  the delinquency of a minor, speeding, drunk and reckless driving,  possibly even statutory rape!!!!!!!!!!!

Chapter 76 - “The Last Ride”

Instead of submitting and slowing down for the inevitable arrest,  Toby was going for broke, and as the girls were screaming for him to slow down, he reached the top of the hill on Hershberger Road where it crossed over Cove Road in front of Carter’s Market and then became a twisting, rolling little two lane road on the other side.  Luckily for that one time there was no other car in that intersection, but the Mach 1 was going probably over 100 mph and as it crossed  over the intersection’s short ridge, it went airborne. The road still was straight enough for  the Mach 1 to “land,”  but it had another treacherous dip at the small hill’s bottom.
In those split seconds as the car was off the ground sailing, Toby was crossing over into that strange mystical and surrealistic dimension where time seemed to slow down. The visions of Steve McQueen driving ferociously in one of his favorite movies, “Bullit’, bouncing air-borne down the hills of San Francisco in the 67 Mustang came into his mind like a very real hallucination, as he and his passengers seemed to float silently in an ocean of air. The reality of steel and rubber hitting down hard in the low dip of the other side, with  the sheer weight of the extra back seat passengers, especially the large Willard, forced the rear  fender down, chomping  onto the big rear passenger tire, instantly causing the car to go into a violent “caterpillar” track turn skid to the right.  Spinning the car like a boomerang, as the car bounced from the impact, the air returned back under the car, and at 120 MPH,  it revolved into a 180 degree sail leaving the ground about 6 feet in the air. 
Deputies Wright and Cline thought they were close behind the Moonlight Mustang, but it had vanished as it topped the hill at the intersection of Hershberger Rd and Cove Road. Coming up fast to  the intersection themselves they weren’t sure if the Mustang had taken a left, right or gone straight ahead,  and on the dark little two lane road ahead it just seemed to have disappeared.
‘Where in the world? Do you see him anywhere, Bob?” asked Deputy Sheriff George Wright as they approached  the hill at a high rate of speed themselves, but had slowed down enough to keep their patrol car under control.
“Oh lord, there it is!!!” yelled Deputy Sheriff Bob Cline as he pointed to the headlights and tail-lights  spinning in mid-air about a thousand feet ahead. He then saw the cloud of dust and debris flying from the collision in the light from their patrol car headlights, and it looked like a tornado in effect hitting a tree.
The car had sailed over an open meadow, except for one lone old cherry tree. The tremendous impact  slammed Toby’s driver’s side door first into the tree’s mid section and  wrapped the car around the tree’s thick trunk. It was so powerful a collision, the car was torn in half  with both halves now meeting around the other side. The horrible impact was so great that it also pulled the tree out of the ground by its roots and it was now knocked over 25 feet further down in the field.
When heaven comes knocking, no one will know those last second thoughts but those whose souls  leave and go beyond our world. Toby may have seen an angel in the face of Lisa Ann, and gracefully accepted her hand in eternity. Likewise, the young and innocent passenger Linda would be ready to cross that rainbow of light with them and smile at the wonders of the peace of heaven. Willard was stepping towards the edge, but hesitated........

Chapter 77 - “One silent survivor”

It was 2 AM, early Sunday morning, September 12, 1971...On the dark and treacherous little 2 lane road, Deputy Wright tried to pull his patrol car as far as he could off the shoulder of the narrow road, and now had all his emergency  lights on, using the spotlight to light up the wreckage as Deputy Cline had to run down though a dark meadow to see if he could find and help any survivors. Deputy Wright put out an emergency call to the Hollins Rescue  Squad , the Firestation and the Redbird Garage Wrecker Service.
No more than 10 seconds had elapsed since Deputy Cline spotted the Mach 1 wreckage, and running down into the dark meadow with his flashlight was now there standing with it.  The car was twisted into two big hunks and  pieces scattered everywhere further down in the field. He searched frantically for any signs of life through all of the wreckage, calling loudly for anyone to say they needed help, but from his experience this was absolutely the worst car crash he had ever dealt with. Yes, he found 3 of them, all dead, Toby and the two girls, Lisa Ann and Linda. He thought this was a completely fatal crash, no survivors, as he was examining the sight, and suddenly he heard a muffled cry out for help. There was a survivor!!!! Deputy Cline called up to Deputy Wright, “WE’VE GOT A SURVIVOR!!!!! GET THAT RESCUE SQUAD HERE!!!
The cry for help was coming from a piece of the rear section of what appeared to have been the passenger-side trunk. While Deputy Cline was searching within  the wreckage for anything that could be used as a pry bar to try and open what looked like a trunk lid, Rhonda and Tommy had also arrived, and running carefully down into the grassy meadow,  both  slipped and almost fell down in the dark. Rhonda was crying, and as Tommy walked close and looked inside, the horror that met him caused him to swoon. He grabbed Rhonda and pursuaded her to come with him away from the terrible scene and let  the Deputy do what he could. Then they also heard the muffled moaning and cry for help.
“Toby!!! Willard!!! is that you, Toby is that you??? cried Rhonda..
“Willard, it’s me, Willard, God, help me, please!!!!”
Deputy Sheriff Cline told the person  to stay calm, help was on its way, and he’d try to see if he could get anyway to get them out. Unfortunately, the car was too mangled for an easy rescue, and the rescue squad and fire engines crew arrived a short time later.  Soon the field was  a buzz with people from the neigborhood who were awakened by the loud crash itself and all of the sirens, and the sides of the dangerous little road was lined by vehicles of the TV and newspaper crews.
The lone survivor, Willard” was  successfully rescued out of the massive wreckage, with serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. The local TV news and newspapers all covered this  terribly tragic accident and it was the source of conversation all over the Roanoke Valley for several weeks.
The car was so terribly crashed, it was taken in two large pieces to the Red Bird Garage on the same Preston Street where Toby had seen the wrecked Camaro. The Moonlight Mustang wreckage stayed visible at the garage for most of a week, as many hundreds, if not thousands of mourners filed past, and many parents brought their teenagers and young adults to see what high speed driving resulted in, and a reminder that speeding can be death.
The funerals for the three victims, Toby, 20, Lisa Ann, 17, and Linda, 16 were all held in the same chapel, in three separate closed coffin services, and many to this day say it was the most heartbreaking funeral they had ever witnessed, and possibly the largest in Roanoke, VA’s history, with many thousands in attendance.
The famous Mill Mountain Star, the huge 100+ feet wide and tall neon lighted sign that is the symbol for Roanoke “The Star City of the South” Virginia, and overlooked the valley, visible for 60 miles, had a tradition of being lit at night in only the red neon, as for memorials to recent notable deaths, such as national heroes or notable citizens, but in this case it stayed red for an entire 21 days straight, a week of 7 days for each of the victims.
I have visited all three of their graves, and said a pray for them in heaven.


There remains a mystery to this day, from those many years ago that remains unanswered. We can only assume the logical, that certainly the excessive speed mixed perhaps with intoxication and  perhaps also equipment failure added up to the tragic results and caused this terrible event.
When the victims were identified and taken to the proper procedures in such, there were surprisingly no autopsies performed, of any kind, on any of them. I do have copies of those 3 actual Virginia government death certificates that were provided me by an interested party in my research. These death certificates only stated the “causes” of all three deaths, which was generalized into traumatic injury causing “immediate” death. The one and only survivor, “Willard” never told the moments that preceded the actual crash. He and only he alone could tell what  happened in those last few awful and fateful minutes before.
Even as this work was being written, for over two years, and concluding  at exactly 2 AM, Monday September 12, 2016, on the actual 45th anniversary of this based on true story of “young love, fast cars and...tragedy,  I tried (as well as former Roanoke County Deputy Sheriff Bob Cline one of the key real life characters, every way possible to reach “Willard” (fictitious change of name) , should he still be alive, even calling and leaving phone messages on numbers assigned to that particular name. I also have a colleague in New Mexico who is an investigator offer up other contacts for “Willard” but even though legitimate, lead to nowhere.
Adding to the mystery and strange aura, even the house where ‘Willard” lived at the time of the story, when I drove out to see his  actual house at the actual address, it had been torn down for years and is the only vacant lot on that street.
On Oct 25th, 2017, Bob Cline contacted me and advised that he believes he has found our “Willard.” Unfortunately, he had found “Willard’s” obituary in the Bedford County, VA news.
He and I drove out to the address that was given in the obituary, and indeed it was “Willard.” Interviewing a neighbor, they told us he never had any children that they knew of, and had been a strange recluse all of the years he’d lived there, and in fact, had died according to the investigators probably a few weeks before he was found from natural causes. So the mystery of this story’s  final minutes went to the grave with him.
I hope you have enjoyed this work, based on a  true story... It harks back to a grand time to be young and in love.
Virginia Beach, VA























KEY WORDS, hot rod, muscle car, cruising, teenager, young love, fast cars, tragedy, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Hemi, big block, racing, 1970, The Doors, CCR, drag race, crash, sex, drugs, rock n' roll