Alvin whispered to me to just keep walking so that’s what we did, but I knew it wasn’t going to go well. The driver put the truck in reverse and kept pace with us.
“You scumbags too good to talk to us, is that it?”
I guess I shouldn’t have done it, but it made me mad that they were being disrespectful to Alvin. I gave them the finger. The truck stopped and they both got out. Alvin pushed me behind him as they came up to us.
“Now you boys just get on down the road, we’re not hurtin’ anything here.”
They were big guys with mean written all over them. They kept circling Alvin and taunting him. One of them let go with a roundhouse punch to the side of his head. Alvin tried to deflect it but it landed hard and he stumbled. The other one kicked him in the thigh and I heard him groan as he went down.
I stood frozen as they stood there laughing and calling him a lame old bastard. I jumped on the back of the one nearest and was pounding him as best I could but he just reached up and grabbed me by the ear and pulled me off. The other one came running toward me and then he was kicking me in the head.
Alvin got back to his feet but they beat him back down. As I tried to stand up I saw Alvin grab one by the leg and knock him over. I heard a commotion behind me and saw some guys from the sawmill running towards us. Something hit my head and darkness come down over me like a blanket.
When I woke up I was in a hospital bed hurting all over. My head was bandaged and I couldn’t see out of one eye. When my good eye focused I saw a doctor standing by the bed.
“Well, young man. You’ve had quite an adventure. You may be feeling poorly, but you’re damned lucky nothing’s broken. That eye’ll be fine in a day or two.”
I asked where Alvin was and he pointed to the bed next to me. Alvin was awake and grinned at me. He looked like hell. I asked the doctor what happened after I passed out. He told me the rednecks from town had taken a beating from the mill workers. They were sitting tight in the county jail.
Just then someone came in the room and asked the doctor if he could talk to me. It was the owner of the sawmill. He had seen what had happened and he wanted me to know that he thought I was brave and a loyal friend to Alvin and all like that. Then he sat down next to my bed and got a serious look on his face.
“Son, Alvin and I had a talk about you about a week ago. And he thinks you just might have what it takes to work at the mill. What do you think? You get well and think it over and then come see me.”
So that was the day things changed. I guess you can’t never tell what’s coming at you and maybe that’s as it should be. I think I’ll just keep taking things one day at a time.