I met Adam Eckels the summer between my 8th and 9th grade years; he had moved in just down the block from me. My “block” was actually one road with about twenty houses on it, each house taking up about a half an acre. Adam and I always got lots of shit in school because our parents had money but we drove seemingly crappy cars – my 1988 Mercury Sable and his 1986 Buick Skylark, complete with protective metal plating under the driver’s seat (for those of you who know Casino).
Through Adam, who was two years older than myself, I met a crew of older skaters in my school. They were a goofy bunch that reminded me of kids who watched too much Beavis and Butthead as children…uncontrolled adolescents who got wasted and burned things…regardless, they were a good bunch of guys, even though they once tried to mug me for forty dollars, for which I gave one of them a severe chain whip to the throat. Brian, Jeff, and Max certainly needed psychological help, or at least some good doses of shock therapy, but it was their happy-go-lucky/go-with-the-flow attitudes that brings me to one of the most intense stories I have ever personally experienced.
Adam and I were both big fans of driving, but it was rare that we would drive separately. One random spring day, Adam was driving Max and me back to his house, with Jeff and Brian following in Jeff’s station wagon. I was sitting in the rear of the Silver Surfer, as we called the Skylark, and Max was riding shotgun smoking cigarettes with Adam. Our neighborhood, Deer Meadows Estates, was fairly new, so there was already a surrounding community of middle class residential blocks. After we moved in, it became referred to as The Deer Meadow Ghetto, not because it was a bad place to live, but because of its comparative appearance. One family that lived in the DMG was the Brymeyers.
The Brymeyers were a very odd family. The father, who I have always assumed was mentally handicapped, stood well over six foot four inches, whereas his wife was a portly woman standing less than five feet. They had two sons, the oldest being big and lanky and then younger being short and fat, both being exceptionally stupid. I had heard tales of the Brymeyers from Brian, who once played little league baseball with the older one, Jason. I knew the younger son, Brandon, because he used to try and pick fights with my little brother and, when my little brother would fight back, Brandon would run and cry to Jason. Then Jason would try and fight whoever decided to stick up for my brother, usually me or my friend Pat, and then Jason would go get his father. I never caught his name. The last time I ever saw this occur was when Pat and Jason got into a fight after Brandon picked on Pat’s little brother, Tom, and Mr. Brymeyer came out and told his son to fight Pat and, “Kick the dog shit out of him.”
Though, since Pat had braces, he was more bloodied than Jason, Jason’s face was screwed up for a solid two months. After taking two punches to the face, Pat tackled Jason, got on top of him, and piston-punched his head into the ground. It was something wholly beautiful and disturbing all at once, abruptly interrupted by Mr. Brymeyer breaking the fight up and calling to his wife to call the police on Pat for assault and battery. There are obviously a lot of ties between lunacy and idiocy within the Brymeyers, which became more evident to us while driving into our neighborhood that day. Mr. Brymeyer was outside his house watering the lawn, and Brian hung himself out the window and screamed a very drawn-out, “Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!” Mr. Brymeyer just looked up, shook his fist at us, and went back to his work. We arrived at Adam’s only to realize we had left his guitar amp at Max’s house and had to go back and get it; upon passing the Brymeyer’s once again, Brian hung out the window, screamed, and got the same fisted response from Mr. Brymeyer. Max only lived a few minutes away, so we found ourselves driving by the Brymeyers once again for the third time in less than half an hour while going back to Adam’s once again.
Could Brian resist? Of course not, I already told you that these guys were crazy, and the last thing anyone (especially me) wants is to have a group of crazy people messing with one really crazy person. Brian let out his greeting wail once again, and all I heard was the squealing of rubber behind us. Mr. Brymeyer was tearing after us through our own neighborhood. We could only imagine the kind of charge he would give the police after running us off the road – noise pollution, perhaps? Regardless, we all took off through my neighborhood going well over the twenty-five miles per hour speed limit. Driving through the Back Mountain in northeastern Pennsylvania can be dangerous when even going slightly over the speed limit, let alone going ninety miles per hour in a thirty-five zone. Max remained cool as a cucumber, smoking his cigarettes, directing Adam on which way to turn. They managed to get to Reservoir Road, about a quarter mile away, which was a long strip of road with only one turn-off before it intersected with highway 118. The road started by a local reservoir, went up a hill to another road, and then went down the hill and flattened out for a mile before the stop sign at the two-lane highway.
The Silver Surfer did quite well, as did Jeff’s wagon and Mr. Brymeyer’s Chevy Impala; at the top of the hill, Jeff turned onto Hilltop Road, and the Impala kept after us. This made little sense to us, since it was Jeff and Brian who had yelled at Mr. Brymeyer. At any rate, we knew Mr. Brymeyer was not a man to be trifled with, and if he was angry with us we had to get away immediately. Adam quickly reached top speed as Reservoir flattened out, bringing the stop sign into view. The next few seconds passed rather quickly…as we approached the highway, all three of us noticed the amount of traffic; every three passenger cars had a semi truck behind it, and both lanes were decently busy. I remember screaming, as did Adam, as we flew through the intersection at over a hundred miles per hour. Adam claimed he closed his eyes, but Max, being the calm fellow he was, claimed that the front of the car had just missed hitting the back of a semi just as a van passed in front of us in the opposite lane. Mr. Brymeyer wasn’t so lucky, though he was lucky. Our youthful insanity was no match for his ancient lunacy, and he slammed on his brakes, sending him into a flat spin into the intersection. I saw all this out the back window of the Silver Surfer – Mr. Brymeyer’s Impala getting the tail ripped off it by a Mack truck, sending it spiraling out-of-control into a gutter as Adam sped off to Harvey’s Lake.
It only took a few minutes to get to Grotto Pizza at the lake, and we got a table for three. All we wanted were some drinks, none of us were really hungry, and all we needed was a place to lay low in case the cops were out looking for what was sure to be Mr. Brymeyer’s description of a madman behind the wheel of a silver Buick. In all actuality, nothing ever became of it, except of course for Mr. Brymeyer never-so-much as looking at any of us again, especially not Adam and I. In retrospect, I know he hated us and our parents for moving into his neighborhood and changing his life, and probably blamed Adam and myself for destroying some aspects of his life. Regardless, Mr. Brymeyer was not a nice man, nor was either of his sons, and all got what they deserved in the end.
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