If you add two teenage boys in a ’65 Comet Caliente on Bellflower Boulevard to one hot summer evening in L.A. County and divide by a carload of similar aged girls at an intersection, what does that equal? Subtract a measure of common sense and in the case of the aforementioned males, a recipe for trouble.
Duno (dubbed by toddler nephews unable to get their tongues around Junior) and EJ became friends in high school in the early 1970s. EJ first noticed Duno the day he wore white jeans, lookin’ groovy, man. During lunch break EJ took his usual place on the block wall surrounding the quad. A blond kid, six feet six inches tall, weighing 220 pounds, approached carrying a chocolate milkshake. After setting his drink on the wall, the young giant turned his back to hoist himself up. Without forethought and maybe just a mite of malice, EJ reached out, tipping the container over to be in direct line with Duno’s posterior descent. The groovy white jeans were no longer white and no longer groovy. Gooey, perhaps, but definitely not groovy, man.
Amazingly Duno never suspected EJ of the prank. He just chalked it up to his own clumsiness. EJ confessed later, but by then they were best buddies and had a good laugh over it.
The two boys shared an interest in cars, driving them fast, working on the engines to make them go faster, and fixing them when they broke going fast. Another interest they shared was cruising. In southern California, summer evenings were made for cruising the boulevards. Traditionally on Saturday nights, Whittier and Bellflower Boulevards were the cruising mecca. Opportunity for a little unorganized and illegal street racing awaited would-be dragsters, not to mention a chance for teen boys to ogle teen girls. But mention it I will, since this story involves that particular activity.
One sizzling evening, the boys tool down Bellflower Boulevard, water squirt guns in hand because, you see, this is another enjoyable activity engaged in by those in the know. You bring your water pistols and look for open car windows to shoot unsuspecting motorists through. You provide a little cooling relief—and no one gets hurt.
Ah, if one didn’t account for the ire of teenage girls.
At an intersection while EJ and Duno wait for the green light, a carload of cuties crosses in front of them from the right, making a left turn onto the boulevard. Jestingly both boys point their water pistols at the girls. The young lady driving the car stops in the lane across the median and yells, “If you guys spray us, we’re gonna tell the cops on you!” Her companions scream with laughter, shouting, “Dare ya, dare ya!”
Duno and EJ dare. They unleash their watery ammo and split, leaving behind a few females mad as wet hens. In short order the boys are pulled over by police and arrested on charges of battery. The girls had indeed called the cops with a sob story of how these mean boys had squirted them with water guns and made them almost have an accident.
Handcuffed, the boys are treated to a ride in a paddy wagon, along with other delinquents including one arrested for driving while stoned out of his mind, and spend the night in jail. Later in court, Duno pleads guilty to the charge, which astonishes EJ. The accusers didn’t show up and there are no witnesses. He would’ve pled not guilty but cannot reconcile that with his friend’s choice so he pleads guilty too. Duno and EJ must each pay a fine of $165, serve a year’s probation and have a misdemeanor on their record while the stoner merely gets a fine for a missing bumper on his car.
There wasn’t much fairness in the circumstances—a prank and lies born out of childish humiliation. Sometimes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Sometimes the crime isn’t a crime. Sometimes the real crimes go unpunished.
The good news in this situation is that the crime record disappeared during a courthouse remodel some years later. The even better news is that every wrong and bad thing ever done that keeps us from relationship with God can be expunged from the record. Jesus says, “I declare you not guilty if you trust in me.” Both Duno and EJ took advantage of His offer. Duno is already cruising heaven’s streets. My husband EJ and I will cruise along later.
(Author’s note: True story told by permission)
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