The Summer of '62; Episode 32

A Walk In The Night 

Rich felt helplessly marooned on the farm. There was a perpetual empty feeling of isolation, especially on summer nights. From outside his second story bedroom window were the orchestrated symphony of crickets, tree frogs, and an occasional beetle crashing against the screen like a symbol. In the distance from the inter state highway echoed the lonely whining dirge of a semi spinning its way through the infinite night destined for nowhere. Lightening bugs pulsated like beacons from distant worlds amid the backdrop of stars stuck permanently like daggers in the night sky. The moon sometimes appeared to be like a slit in a black curtain and Rich wondered what was hidden beyond. It sometimes frightened him, the concept of eternity, like opening a door only to find another door and another and another.
It was muggy and hot. The only window in his room faced the south and only occasionally the recipient of a cool breeze. As the night went well along it cooled and Rich pulled the sheet over him to keep away the chill of the night.
His radio played. It was a conduit to the outside world, beyond the corn, soy bean, and wheat fields of northwest Ohio. Late at night and into the early hours of the morning magic came out of that little box, from Des Moines, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Nashville. Jazz, country, and bluegrass dominated the night radio waves. It was music for the sad, depressed, sleepless, dreamers, thinkers, poets, and lonely. Sometimes Rich thought that perhaps he was the only one listening. “Who else but me would be lying awake and listening to Dave Brubeck?”
One night his loneliness urged to quietly tiptoe out his room, down stairs, and out into the night.
He walked freely about the night through the fields of corn and beans. He traversed up and down the road that their farm was on. No one was there to observe or instruct him differently. It was like being the only person left on earth. He felt never so free.
What prevents me from getting on my bike and leaving?” Rich thought. “To go to where the music comes from. To go where there is no loneliness.”
He though of leaving everything behind and being a sojourner of the night. He arrived at the conclusion this might be an option for the future, but not now. For now he just wanted to explore the quiet and still of the night.
He walked the road to the Kirk’s, the next property to the south, and stirred the attention of their dog. It barked and ran to the edge of the road. Rich sprinted back down the road and jumped the fence into the August corn which had grown well over his head and concealed himself perfectly. He walked sideways between the stocks until about five rows in from the fence. The dog stopped barking.
Rich saw a glow in the sky from the Kirk house. He surmised the dog woke Mr. Kirk. He turned on the outside light and checked things out. He had a shot gun and shot the leg off a dog two years earlier.
Rich felt a comfortable distance inside his property, but did not put it past Mr. Kirk to walk the road looking for what the dog barked at and if he saw something in the corn field take a shot at it. The “it” being Rich.
Rich eased to the ground on his stomach and positioned himself to observe the road and the Kirk’s property. He heard Mr. Kirk and his wife talking and the ignition of his car turning over the motor. The dog started barking again and scurried down the road.
Spike is after something in the corn field,” Mr. Kirk yelled to his wife. “Get my gun.”
Rich belly-crawled further back into the field.
What was suddenly a quiet evening had turned into a life threatening adventure.
The car stopped in the road, even with where Rich lay in the corn field. The dog barked at the edge of the field where Rich had entered. Mr. Kirk with shot gun and flash light in hand walked through the corn stocks shinning his light along each row.
Rich got to his feet, but hunched down and walked quickly down a row changing to other rows periodically.
Ya better come out or I’ll blow your head clean off your shoulders,” Mr. Kirk bellowed as he moved through the corn like a bull.
By this time the dog barked from row to row with no distinctive pattern, but continually moving in Rich's direction.
In the middle of the field was a drainage waterway that flooded in the spring and no corn grew there. Now, in August, it was bone dry. Rich thought if he could make it past the waterway that would position him only a few yards from the barn yard.
The hay mow is a good hiding place,” he thought.
He planned to dart between the barns, the granary, and the garage and make it back to the house and up into his room.
Glowing lights moved slowly over the tops of the corn stocks coming down the road. The lights stopped near one of the barns. A red light come on. It was the light from a sheriff’s cruiser.

Mrs. Kirk must have called the sheriff’s department,” Rich thought.