Riding shotgun in my best friend’s red Ford pickup as we blazed a trail across Bunker Hill while listening to our favorite tunes is one of my most treasured memories of spending the summer with Billy Gibbons.
With the wind blowing through our hair and the words of Bruce Springstein’s “Born in the USA” wafting out the windows, we sang along to the music as we thundered through the fields of corn creating the cloud of dust which followed.
I had moved to the small mountaintop community in the western Appalachian mountains of Somerset County, Pennsylvania only a year earlier after graduating from high school, when my dad became the pastor of one of the local churches.
In spite of the fact I had spent much of that time away from home during my freshman year in college, my friendship with Billy seemed to blossom overnight.
It seemed like we had been friends our entire lives.
I was thinking about that very thing when a burst of water came flying over the hood of my buddy’s truck as I squatted to wash the hubcaps on his whitewall tires.
Billy roared with laughter as I stood with water dripping from the end of my nose.
I propelled the soapy sponge across the other side of the truck striking him square in the chest, splattering suds all over his face.
A look of astonishment crossed Billy’s face as he said, “Oh, you want a piece of me?”
I was more than happy to accept the dare as I rushed around to the other side of the truck to make my assault.
Billy turned the spray nozzle on his predator, but the water didn’t seem to faze me as I lunged at him gaining control of the coveted hose. He bolted out of firing range by running around to the back side of the house. I went after him as best I could, but I was impeded by my disability.
I gripped the hose in the palm of my hand because I didn’t want to chance Billy getting control again as he often did.
The length of the hose extended to the edge of the house. Stretching my arm while keeping a tight grip on my weapon, I peered around the corner. He was nowhere in sight.
I hurried back to the front yard, but he wasn’t there either. I thought he must be hiding on the opposite end of the house, but I was not about to put the hose down to find out.
Grabbing a lawn chair from the patio and setting it in the yard where I had a good view of the house, I decided to wait him out.
Little did I know, Billy had already been around the house and was hiding behind the tree next to his truck.
Quiet as a church mouse, he picked up the bucket of soapy water and slowly crept up behind me.
Startled by the soapy suds splashing over my body, I let out a holler and squeezed the spray nozzle sending water into the air as I jumped from the chair knocking it over when I stood.
When I peered through the soap suds and saw my gullible friend standing over me ready to lend a helping hand, I grabbed him by the legs and pulled them out from under him.
After wrestling for a few minutes, I landed on top pinning Billy to the ground. Spotting the hose within arms length, I said, “I’ve got you now. It’s time to pay the Pied Piper.”
I snatched the hose and aimed it at Billy’s face. But when I squeezed the trigger, only a few drops trickled out. My buddy began to convulse with laughter at the stunned on my face.
I didn’t realize he had cut off the water pressure.
When I turned the nozzle toward myself for a closer inspection, Billy let go of the hose. I sprayed myself in the face knocking me off my coveted prize.
About that time, Billy’s mom poked her head from the front door and announced she was sending us to town for pizza.
Excited, we raced each other to the house as we hooted and hollered.
After quickly changing into dry clothes, the front door slammed shut as Billy bounded down the steps. I jumped on his back from the top step. He carried me across the lawn to his truck.
We climbed into the red Ford pickup and drove off in a blaze of glory listening to “The Boss” blaring from the radio.