Strawberry creek runs from Blainsville to Newbrook, wending its way six miles through the flats, as the locals call it. About half-way the creek flows into a marsh that is always overgrown with reeds and thistle. This little wetland can be seen as the only green patch in an ocean of dirty blond landscape. The surrounding area inhales green during the rains of spring and the long exhale of summer paint the land amber until it fades, tired of the sun. Thirsty for a storm. But the midpoint between the two rival towns remains a vibrant green and disputed territory called the Bush.
On June 28, two weeks after summer break started in ‘93, the Blainesville Bombers high school baseball team had their end of year party. It was an unwritten rule that the winner of the last game of the season got rights to the Bush the first weekend after graduation. Newcomb edged Blainsville by a run scored on a passed ball in the 8th so the Bombers had to wait an extra week to stage their party. It started in the flats just south of the Bush on warm, orange summer evening. Someone’s older brother bought them a keg of the terrible local beer, Kepler. News of the party spread quickly and soon the epicentric keg was swarmed with outgoing seniors talking about college or their branch of the military, incoming seniors were talking about beating Newbrook next year. Hearts were broken, scores settled. And the energy of a new summer after a tough school term had everyone buzzing with excitement. Beer fueled the urge to move from the flats and back into town. “Let’s go TP Mr. Swanson’s house,” suggested Max. He had just barely passed his class and knew where he lived. “God, what are we in the 6th grade, no one does that shit anymore.” Max’s friend Ren was already feeling brave on Kepler and kept his eye on Heather the whole time as he berated Max. “I have a better idea,” he said as he took something out of his pocket. Heather was number three in the group of ‘it’ girls.
“Hey, Heather. Wanna go for a ride?” He called over to her showing her a set of keys.
“In your bucket? Only if we can go get some fries.” Heather went back to her group of friends satisfied with her non-commital no.
“No no,” he yelled back. “I got my uncle’s hog.”
Ren’s uncle was sick and the prognosis was that he had about six months to live. The metallic blue ‘89 Fatboy in the garage was his uncle’s prized possession. It had 178,000 wide open miles on it. He would take road trips up and down the US with his wife on the back. Turtle shell helmet and Blue Blocker shades, that is where uncle Jimbo was happiest. Since the accident, though, Jimbo couldn’t ride anymore.