One of the greatest things about youth is a feeling of invincibility. Energy and agility are two things heavily in your favor. You feel like you can stop on a dime and give up change. You begin to get out and see some of the world and it’s all in your hip pocket. An event will then come along and strongly suggest you pump your brakes.

My wake up call took place when I was about 16. I had just overcome my “gump” phase (see nerd). I was hanging with the best of the band members going to picnics and ride-outs to Belle Isle. Somebody mentioned an abandoned mansion down by the river that just might be haunted. I don’t remember the first time we hung out down there but I’ll never forget the last. Ignoring the no trespassing signs we had at least a dozen of the crew on this night. Underneath the huge pipe organ in what had to be the ballroom we drank beer and smoked weed. “Cops!”

The proverbial jig had risen. We made a mad dash to just get the hell out of there and people ran all types of whichway. A large group left the property but I was in another group that felt hiding in the tall brush was sufficient. The feeling was the cops wouldn’t see us and continue on their way. Laying face down in the scratchy grass I heard a click right next to my ear followed by the words, “You move you a dead motherfucker!” I thought it sounded like a gun. What am I, in a movie?

About 5 of us were corralled into a clearing lined up side by side. The cops were behind us and we all thought we were about to be shot in the ass. One of my legs couldn’t stop shaking while the cops took their time scaring the shit out of us.

“What are you DOING HERE?!
“Clearly marked PRIVATE PROPERTY.”
“You wanna GO TO JAIL?!”

Oh no, this simply could not be happening. In no way did I want to go to the big house. I begged my leg not to buckle and my bowels not to vacate. The cops shined flashlights on our butts and snickered. If this scene had been photographed the caption would have read: “Dear sweet Jesus, let me out of this mess and I will never get in trouble again.”

We were let go when the cops felt we had been sufficiently spooked. I have not had a run in with the cops since.

William Stephenson

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