Guest contributor: Crash Barry
categories: Cocktail Hour
Comments Off on Serial Sunday: Crash Barry’s “Tough Island: True Stories from Matinicus, Maine”: Episode Six
[To read episode 5, click here][To read Episode 4, click here][To read Episode 3, please click here][To read Episode 2, please click here][To start at the beginning with Episode One, please click here]
Deputy Jerold Day got run off the island on a beautiful spring day, about a month after the pistol-whipping. Since attacking Alex, he’d gotten the cold shoulder from every islander. No one waved at him on the road or acknowledged him at the post office or the store. His kids – a pair of goofy, home-schooled teenage boys – were cruelly mocked and taunted. The worst harassment, however, occurred under the cover of darkness. Someone poisoned the deputy’s geese and threw a bucket of black oil paint on his white truck. Rumors circulated of shots being fired at his house, but no bullet holes were visible.
Everyone knew the deputy was leaving on the next ferry. The sheriff had decided not to replace him. The short-lived law enforcement experiment was over. The deputy spent his last week on Matinicus packing boxes and nailing big sheets of plywood, painted day-glo orange, over his windows, turning his blue house into a tantalizing target for potential drive-bys. His wife and kids had already left, taking the mail plane to the mainland to find a new place to live.
On the morning of the ferry’s visit, a bunch of us gathered for a going-away party at Benny and Paul’s fishhouse, which had a bird’s eye view of the Steamboat Wharf, a couple hundred feet away. The guest of honor, of course, was not invited due to the weed and booze. He was busy, anyway. When the ferry arrived, minutes before high tide, the deputy jumped aboard and climbed into the cab of a large U-haul, first in line for disembarking. When the ramp came down, the truck raced off. His wife and kids, who’d taken the ferry from Rockland, were crammed in the front seat alongside him. The truck bounced and sped to their house in the center of the island.
“Better hurry, you sonofabitch, better hurry,” slurred Brenda, Alex’s 40-year-old mom, already three-quarters drunk on coffee brandy. “Less than an hour to pack that big friggin’ truck.” She laughed. “Tides and ferry don’t wait for nobody.”
“I almost hope the bastard misses the boat,” said Pierre, Alex’s step dad. “Jeezum Christ, imagine the friggin’ late fees if that truck stays on the island for an extra month.” The ferry visited Matinicus monthly, except during the three darkest months of winter, when it didn’t come at all.
“I just want the motherfucker gone,” Brenda said, shaking her head. “Asshole.”
The party continued. We all drank and smoked and got higher and higher, watching the ferry, wondering if the Deputy was gonna return in time. He made it with a couple minutes to spare. The whole family climbed out of the truck and lined up against a gunwale for a final look at the island. Standing on Benny and Paul’s roof deck, I watched them through binoculars. I could see the relief on their faces.
The party grew louder and louder. There was raucous hooting as Brenda and Pierre unfurled a banner. Pierre, in his role as a selectman, called assessors on the island, had the only personal computer on Matinicus; the banner was made with a dot-matrix printer on an eight-foot-long piece of tractor-fed paper. It read: “Fuck you, Jerold Day!”
“Fuck you, Jerold Day!” the crowd screamed in unison. “Jerold Day, FUCK YOU!” A song, almost.
I took another look at the deputy and his family through the binocs. They seemed puzzled. From their vantage point, the banner was too puny to read. They couldn’t see the many middle fingers, or the lone moon from a fat, drunk islander, either. And the rumble of the ferry’s diesel engines muted our chant.
The ferry left and the party broke up soon after. Not even noon and everybody was hammered. Now that the deputy was gone, the buzz seemed wasted and anticlimactic. And while Matinicus was cleared of cops, it wasn’t like all hell broke loose. Just no one gave a damn about herb or drunk driving or car registrations. The summer came without a bit of drama.
The police stayed away. Word was, they were scared.
Ironically, many years later, Alex purchased the house where the deputy pistol-whipped him.
Next Episode: Crash gets Cougared
As a young sternman, Crash Barry helped chant “Fuck You Jerold Day!” These days, he lives near a marijuana grove in the foothills of western Maine. His column One Maniac’s Meat appears monthly in The Bollard, and details his exploits as a sailor in the U.S. Coast Guard fighting the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Haitian Refugees.” His rollicking novel Sex, Drugs and Blueberries and the complete version of Tough Island are available at Maine bookstores and libraries or via crashbarry.com or on Amazon. His latest book Marijuana Valley, Maine: A True Story will be published this fall. Crash is currently blogging about turning a novel into a film at crashbarry.com.