Shady Shores community, near Dallas Texas, 1964: Paul H. was the largest roommate, and visiting his girlfriend in Fort Worth, he drove that highway often. A large and quiet guy, when he returned that day, all excited, we knew something was up.
“What is it?” asked Hardy M., the art student, a rugged fellow of sour demeanor. Paul lowered his voice.
“It’s a boat, with two big Evenrude motors,” he said, “It’s just sitting on a trailor beside the highway!”
My roommates, and myself, instantly became criminals.
“You mean … just sitting there?” asked Pat M. Always affecting calm, always worried.
“Trailer hitch,” Paul said. “I’d have grabbed it but I don’t have a trailor hitch.” On his car, he meant. They all looked at me. My car had a trailor hitch.
“OK,” I said. And so off we drove, to steal a boat.
Along the way, Hardy in the back seat was dozing. Each time he nodded off, Pat jabbed him in the ribs with an elbow. “Stop it!” Hardy said, irritable. Pat told him not to be leaning on him. Hardy said ok, and a short time later, was dozing again.
With the two of them bickering like children, we drove. The day was late, and daylight fading. I’d forgotten a ham in the oven. We found it the next day, much smaller and very salty.
Watching for the boat as we drove, it seemed like we’d never get there. And finally, Paul said that either we’d missed it, or somebody had picked up the boat. So we turned around.
By now, Hardy was deep asleep in the back seat. He woke occasionally, but Pat told him we weren’t there yet. This continued until we were pulling into Shady Shores, where we lived lakeside in a concrete-block house.
About a block from our house was a small copse of wood, and, as it was now full dark, instead of going home, I pulled my car into that tiny wood. In the dark, the nearby houses were invisible from within the trees.
Hardy woke as we exited, but we told him we were going to get the boat, and needed him to stay with the car. Sleepy, he agreed, and promptly fell asleep again. We walked to our house, and stayed up late, talking about our big adventure — failing to steal a boat — and then eventually everybody went to bed.
Hardy, of course, woke up sometime during the evening, but didn’t dare leave the car. He didn’t want to be stranded in an unknown place near Fort Worth.
In the morning, about coffee-time. Hardy came through the door.
“That’s not funny,” he said.