This is Episode 5 in the story of the formation, rise and fall of the little education collective that used to exist up here on our mountain. I wrote and posted this account three years ago on my blog and then pulled it off because someone whose name I had not changed, objected. Now I have changed both the name of the little school itself, and the names of everyone who might be negatively impacted, and plan to re-post the story, one episode per day, until all 32 are again on my blog.
I had spent the morning of March 9, 1989, working in Legget on an electrical problem, and arrived home approximately 11:40 AM, to find Annie talking on the phone to Bell Springs. The person on the phone told her that my son, six-year-old Casey, was ill and running a fever; could we come and pick him up? Annie had been under doctor’s care at that same time for pneumonia and strep throat, and my youngest, Lito, was sick. I was therefore not surprised to get the phone call, and I was more than happy to go get him.
Because it was raining very hard and Casey was running a fever, I chose to exercise my right to ignore the Bell Springs policy to park in the designated area, and walk the five-minute path to the school. Obviously, I did not want Casey to have to make the same trek back to the car in the rain. Having made the choice before I got to the vicinity, I went directly through the open gate just prior to Imika’s residence, and straight to the school at my customary rate of speed. The driving rain and the novelty of the occasion, i.e, driving in forbidden territory, restrained any interest I might have had in driving fast.
The dirt road had the usual number of potholes, nature’s speed bumps, and was very muddy from the recent days of rain and snow. In the interim between the time I had passed Imika’s house and the time I appeared at the school to pick up Casey, Imika had placed a call to the collective registering a complaint that I was driving too fast. I restrained any impulse I had to shoot the messenger upon hearing of the reported grievance, as I retrieved Casey without dallying, and headed back along the road.
One look at his ruddy complexion and the twin rivulets of nasal drip, descending down his upper lip to his mouth, made me resoundingly happy that I had skipped the formality of subjecting Casey to the trial of having to walk the path.
Again, I was prevented from driving too fast, not only by the weather, but by the fact that, after I had passed through the gate on my way to the school, Imika had sent Misha out into the rain to lock the gate. I couldn’t help wondering why she didn’t fight her own battles instead employing a little person, whose only interest in life would have been to please her mother. I restrained myself from overreacting.
So I was doing a lot of restraining there on my little trip to get Casey. Imika seemed to like the concept, because she filed a restraining order against me, alleging that I had driven recklessly past her house and that I had endangered her daughter’s life. Indeed, her daughter was very much in evidence but judging from her actions, she did not appear to feel her life was in danger. Quite the contrary. As I approached the now closed gate, I could clearly see Misha sashaying toward me with an exaggerated motion.
She was dressed in an oversized brown coat, most likely that of her mom, with the suggestion that it was the handiest thing available, when Imika saw me “rocket” past her abode on my way to the school. I suggest that the coat belonged to Imika because she had one just like it, one with a cowgirl motif with the rows of strips of uniform pieces of rawhide, lining the arms and across her shoulders. These little strips of rawhide swayed rhythmically as Misha sashayed away from the gate toward me. She seemed to be enjoying herself.
Her two arms were stretched out to either side of her, with her hands up next to her head, palms facing me, fingers splayed out widely on both hands. She was simultaneously walking toward me and dipping first to the left, and then to the right. She had just come from locking the gate; she would have known from her mom’s frantic efforts to get her into the coat and out to the gate, before I returned, that the game was afoot. Misha was a bright little girl, who knew her mom was engaged in a feud over the school, and she knew that if Imika told her she needed to lock the gate, then that was an end to it.
Having prudently decided not to take my little Subaru and try to ram my way through the metal gate, I stopped short enough from the gate, to be able to maneuver in front of the car to the combination lock. Luckily I had been at the last meeting to find out that the combo had just been changed again to the uncannily clever number, 2222, so I now could open it.
Neither my actions,nor those of the child, indicated a man on a murderous mission.
Later that evening around six o’clock, Imika parked her car out in front of my gate, setting off our dog, who barked incessantly throughout the ensuing exchange. She was very animated, her face contorted with emotion, her hair a briar’s nest of inattention. She wasted no time as I spilled out the front door, Annie on my heels and the boys elbowing their way for position, delighted at the prospect of some entertainment. I had no idea what to expect.
The first words out of her mouth indicated a need for volume control. “You tried to kill my daughter. I am sick and tired of you people always driving past my house recklessly.”
Well, that certainly gave me an inkling as to what I could expect. I wished I could back the truck up five minutes and exit, stage left, but that was not going to happen.
I figured I had to talk to her.