Perhaps being a preacher’s son bestows a mantle of lawlessness on young males, for it certainly happened that way with Jeffrey. At age 19, Jeff and a younger friend, whom we’ll call Doug, were in full bloom as young criminals.
Somehow they’d found a set of keys. That was how they got the money.
This set of keys opened all the Coca-Cola machines in southern Tennessee. What a find!
Jeff and Doug lived in genteel poverty in a rural shack, and in the evening they’d cruise the highways and backroads in Jeff’s battered VW bus, looking for coke machines. When nobody was looking, open popped the coke machine door, out into a sack poured handfuls of coins, and off went Jeff and Doug to buy drugs. Serious drugs. Injectable drugs.
Until one evening, when cruising a backroad, Jeff spotted a cop car coming toward them down the road. Immediately Doug called out, for the cops were behind them as well. Holding the sack of coins and the keys seemed unwise just then, so in their VW bus they took off.
The cops gave chase.
At the first opportunity, Doug threw the coins and the keys from the van, but it did no good at all. The cops easily caught the boys, and had seen the keys flying, so the evidence and the boys went to jail.
Jeff, being a personable guy, was immediately invited by the resident jailbirds to go along on a jailbreak arranged for that very night, because the other prisoners had completed an arduous task only that day. A hole had been cut to the roof.
Under cover of darkness, Jeff and Doug and 28 other prisoners snaked up to the roof and slithered down the outside wall, and were off into the woods. Under the shelter of the woods, Jeff stopped Doug.
“Wait a minute,” Jeff said. “You’re a minor. Your father’s going to be here to pick you up tomorrow morning. You’re crazy to break out. You’ll get off anyway.”
Doug considered. Jeff was right.
The two boys sneaked back to the wall, and Jeff helped Doug break back into the jail. They said their good-byes, and Jeff took off. He couldn’t find the other 28 prisioners, which was just as well, for the lot of them went to a bar where they got roaring drunk and were corralled with ease next morning by the sherrif’s deputies.
Jeff, on his own, hiked through the night and, tapping on a friend’s window in the wee hours, arranged immediate transportation, in another VW van. Through the night they drove, and all the next day, arriving at Bob’s front door in San Francisco, where they spent the night in sleeping bags upon the floor.
But before they slept, wired by the experience, they stayed up all hours playing guitars and singing. So it wasn’t unexpected that Bob’s nazi roommate Greg, the apartment’s leaseholder, threw them out the next day.
Jeff’s driver returned to Tennessee. Jeff found another place to stay, and, being a skilled carpenter, found odd jobs. I hired him to make the worktable for Operators at our new location on Geary Boulevard. I’d drawn up plans, and being documentation-crazy, made him promise to return the plans. He lost them of course.
I lost track of Jeff, and the table plans, but it seems he moved to Southern California and went straight. He got married and began a family. Because he was an escaped felon, however, he couldn’t get a California driver’s license, and so it was a matter of time that some years later he got pulled over by the highway patrol, who somehow learned by immediate radio that he was a wanted man in Tennessee.
Jeff spent the night in jail. No breaking out this time.
In the morning, the Highway Patrol got through to Tennessee, to let them know they had the fugitive in hand. But Tennessee said that they didn’t want him any more.
“Jeff,” said the watch commander. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience. They don’t want you.”
Jeff stared. The officer nodded.
“You’re free to go.”