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From the full version of Sunnysides Lousy Book.


The Cabin

When we were sophomores at fourteen or fifteen years old, Jake, the younger boy next door and I came up with the idea of building a fort in the swampland across the road behind our house. We got the lumber for it from a building site at the end of our road in the middle of the night. We stacked lumber onto a boat dolly I’d made with a few two by fours and lawnmower wheels and wheeled the lumber down road to the entrance of the swamp behind our house. The brush in the swamp was so dense it was a difficult to pack everything back to the higher ground we had located for the cabin. Jake was a wimp when it came to hard work so he came up with the idea of using his dad’s chainsaw to clear a wider path through the thick brush.
      I could say "we," but it was more like "I" used the lumber to build an 8 by 8 cabin. I went with 16" on center on the roof and floor, and 24" on center for the walls. I made the roof a single pitched 10' by 10' so I had some overhang 1 & 1/2 foot on front and six inch on back. I finished it off with three tab roofing and used tarpaper to cover the 1/2" plywood exterior walls.
      I fabricated a large locking bar hasp for the door in the high school metal shop on one of the days when the instructor was gone and the substitute didn't know the stockroom had a price tag for everything. We came up with propane stove for it and some furniture, as well as the necessities including a few dirty magazines. It was meant to be a home away from home for us, but for me it was even more because the goal of building the cabin originated mostly from the idea that I would probably run away someday and the cabin was just the refuge I needed to do so.
      My intention was to make a different trail into it from another street when I'd take up residency there, but my mistake was letting Jake take the chain saw to the trail because unfortunately the vegetation didn't grow back as fast as I would have liked and a few months later, the walking tape recorder sister of mine found the trail leading to it and she told my parents about it. They had no doubt it was built by me by the way it was built. The hasp on the door looked as if it was built for a fortress so my dad didn't even mess with it; he just tore a sheet of plywood off the wall with a wreaking bar. What bothered my mother most was the paraphernalia they found inside, or at least that was what she made the biggest issue out of.
      Now you might wonder how I would have handled it if was my own son that had done such a thing. Well I’d have to say that deep down inside I would have been proud of my son for the quality of work he had performed by himself at such an age. I would have taken an inventory of the materials used and added up what they would cost at the going price. Back then it would have been around a couple hundred dollars. I would have gone down to the builder of where the materials came from and cut him a check. I would have made my son work off the money one way or another.
      My parents told me that they were going to call the cops the next morning and have me sent to Ramand Hall, (a juvenile institution.) So for the sake of freedom, I found myself grabbing my things and heading out the door in the middle of the night. In the morning I went to see my friend Ramjet on his way to school, at his bus stop. Although I encouraged him to go to school that day, he wouldn't listen to my advice and chose to skip school just to hang out with me.
      Since he wasn't on the School bus that morning, it wasn't hard for my sisters to figure out that Ramjet was skipping school that day. It resulted in my parents contacting with his mother concerning the both of us being absent from school and wondering where I was. For some reason Ramjet's mother didn't do much about it. She wasn't about to put her own son on restriction for anything I’d did, but she made sure Ramjet went to school after that. His mother must have known that she was feeding me because Ramjet would show up at his bus stop in the mornings with an extra sandwich or something every morning.
      Another friend named, Ray gave me an old army tent to live in and we set it up in some dense woods owned by some doctor who had a lot of anchorage close to ramjets house. Since I was learning how to live in the woods, Ray came up with a nick name for me. Wylie Coyote was the name and I wasn't too thrilled about it but I guess we had fun with it. I had a twelve volt eight track tape player and Ray came up with a 12 volt black and white television. I'd steal a battery out of a car and leave a dead one for the victim to replace it with. It was sort of an exchange program I came up with figuring that it would cause less heat in the area. One time I managed to pry open a louvred window of a large camp trailer that was parked in a field behind the condominiums down by the lake. I stayed there several nights and only noticed people walking their dogs nearby while I was inside. I cooked many meals in the trailer, and ate all their food and left a bunch of dirty dishes. Then I took the mattress from the trailer out to the woods to make my tent into a wall to wall bed.
       During this time Ray got me involved in the theft of a motorcycle, chain saw and tool box. My parents already had the cops looking for me and they put two and two together and then I had more than just my parents looking for me. Whether the cops gave a shit or not, I don't know, but my parents got in contact with some people who owned some search dogs and they were out on the doctor’s property searching for me. Apparently they were looking for me on the wrong side of the estate where the owners had spotted me on the motorcycle, but it rained so much the dogs never picked up a scent.
       One day Ray and I were out on the Fort Lewis Military Reservation taking a joy ride on the dirt bike. I took off the silencer to show Ray how big it sounded with just an aftermarket strait pipe. The problem with it was that the owners of the bike could hear it from almost a mile away and the called the cops and reported it. When I came back to where Ray was last standing, Ray was gone but there was a cop car just over yonder. As you might guess, I hauled ass, but Ray wasn't so fortunate and later I found out he was in Ramon Hall.

I knew what had to be done, so in the middle of the night returned the chainsaw and tool box near the shed we’d taken them out of and then drove the dirt bike right up to their drive-way and bailed off it letting it fly. I figured that was the first step in getting Ray out of trouble, but Ray turned around and said he had nothing to do with it and that it was all my idea. Shit, he was the one that cased out the stuff and the only reason I got involved was that I thought there might be some money in it somehow.
       It was about two or three weeks into my life of being independent and I had the heat and dogs looking for me, I decided it was best to relocate my camp. So I took the mattress back to the trailer I'd got it from, figuring it was half way to where I was moving to so it was a good stash spot if I was in need of it later. Then I move the tent and things down the road about a half a mile on some other undeveloped land.
       Then the unfortunate thing happened one day. As I stepped out of the woods onto the shoulder of the road, my dad and my sister had rounded the corner in the car. I didn't know if they saw that I'd just walked out of the woods or not, but I felt that my camp would be as good as found if I did tried to run for it. The next morning, I woke to find out that the Sheriff was at the door ready to take me to Ramand Hall. I had to wear my dad’s shoes because my mother had stashed mine in case I would feel like splitting in the middle of the night again.

As for the cabin: Since my dad tore a big hole in the side of it, other neighbourhood kids just vandalized it and shoved it off the foundation blocks. So it just sat there, all crooked and sad, and nothing ever came of it. My parents didn't say anything to the cops about it or anyone else for that matter.

The next chapter of Sunnyside's Lousy Book is:

Getting Some Wheels at Fifteen

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the Cabin is-

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Getting Some Wheels at Sixteen












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