Six fellows had been enjoying mugs of beer on a Saturday night. Money had been collected, a keg of inexpensive beer had been purchased and the contents were being imbibed. A mild commotion made itself known nearby and the good natured fellows went to correct the disruption. They were very capable, these ones. Well, five of them at least. The sixth, being of slight build, was charged with transporting the keg to the next locale instead of intermingling with a potential scuffle. The group disbanded and the sole waif refreshed his mug before taking on his transport mission.
He hefted the keg, still three quarters full of precious gold carbonated liquid, and moved it out the front door to the tiny porch. Really tiny, the porch was no more than a three-foot by three-foot square of raised concrete intended as a point of demarcation from the apartment complex’s concrete walkway. He grabbed his skateboard, lifted the keg onto the skate and was on his way.
The rendezvous locale was three blocks away and he would travel without his muscled escort. The neighborhood was not one of violence, but at this hour on a Saturday night in a quadrant of highly populated dilapidated apartments occupied by students in the city of Isla Vista, immediately adjacent to the university campus of Santa Barbara, there may be opportunists of unsavory intent. With that thought lightly weighing on his mind he quickly put his concerns to rest. ‘It’s just three blocks. What’s that, five minutes? Here I go.’
He felt like a king in charge of this whole keg while on a skateboard. Covetous looks were showered upon him from student-aged pedestrians. He pompously pretended to be oblivious, but enjoyed the attention.
One might think that a keg of beer, a full-sized keg, not one of those diminutive pony kegs that could be easily lifted as if conducting a set of arm curls, this full barrel, one’s first impression, might be that an awkward ride was to commence. Not so. He quickly discovered a keg on the skateboard was an amazingly effective stabilizer! The added weight allowed the skate to hug the ground without so much as a jolt when rolling over each sidewalk crack, twigs or small stones. Debris that might otherwise present a possible err was to be overcome without hesitation. Turning was also vastly enhanced. The keg easily overhung each side of the skateboard such that effecting a left or right turn was easily performed by a mere leaning on one side of the keg or the other. Smooth sailing, in sea-faring parlance.
First block down, he’d be pulling off cups of beer in no time. So elated at the ease with which this perceived difficult task had turned that he noticed not a wit that the next block was rather dark. And when I narrate that it was dark, the street lights were mostly inoperable or had been actively disabled. Ominous one might say.
The corner turned, no cars, pedestrians or other skateboards. It was entirely clear, nothing but the pleasant sounds of his skateboard tooling elegantly down the street with a prize possession in his entire care, custody and control. Except, of course, for the house on the right with a fire pit in the front yard and a balcony loaded with eight rabble-rousers. The sound of the skateboard regrettably won their attention and the rowdies got eerily quiet while heavy metal music continued to wail from the stereo system. Waif looked toward the house, all rowdies were looking at him. No words spoken, eyes locked, mental motion began to spin. The rabble rousers huddled hastily and hushed tones were eagerly exchanged. Waif was a silly fellow, but not a dumb one. He recognized that this might be a good time to expedite his arrival time.
The street was smooth as if recently paved. This allowed him to confidently increase his rate of speed without a significant corresponding chance of a wipe out. While the rowdies expended precious moments deciding on their course of action, he did not need confirmation, he knew the decision, only not how long by which the result would be accepted widely enough to set their plan in force.
The home was deeply set back from the street so the rowdies, already appreciating inebriating effects to their motor skills, wasted additional time fighting their way downstairs and picking out their bicycles from the haphazard scrum of two-wheeled vehicles on the front lawn. Isla Vista is a land of self-propulsion devices necessitated by the expansive university campus. Bicycles were possessed by most as the choice vehicle of self-propulsion. Waif, as we see here, however, chose a skateboard. He was a block away from the destination where he hoped reinforcements would be present, but this hope would be rendered futile if he did not first get there.
He was traveling well, if at a reckless pace by now, when he heard the cluster of rabble rousers hit the streets. His lead was 100 feet and they would close quickly. Less than half a block away he saw the driveway, his goal was within sight. He was skating at full speed as the luxury of safety no longer intersected with his circumstances. A pothole would easily spill him and the barrel of beer harshly across the asphalt. That risk he accepted knowing this to be a game of all or nothing. They were too fast, he could hear their breathing! The cat-calling started, “Hey, we just want a refill, fill up our cups and we’ll leave you alone.”
The muscled reinforcements, oblivious to the brewing confrontation, in a beautiful gift of timing, walked out from the driveway awaiting the arrival of the keg. It was the five from the onset. They’d completed their brief task, traveled to this locale and were ready to reengage the keg.
The skateboard pulled into the driveway as the rowdies rode by with parting wicked remarks. The reinforcements laughed immediately realizing that waif had been in a race for his proverbial life and emerged unscathed by the thinnest of margins. A brief breath catcher, and a refill. Those next few sips were very sweet, much sweeter and tastier than if there had been no chase.
[Inspired by a true life event circa 1990 up to and including the rabble-rousers on the balcony, except for the chase.]