Other Jerry

becky09The next time I saw Becky was in the summer of 1976. I had returned to the east coast from Utah and needed a place to stay. Becky took me in. She was living in Maryland with a hippie-biker guy we eventually called Other Jerry. They shared Civil War-era house across the Potomac River from Harper's Ferry.

The house had a phone, electricity, and a little plumbing--water pumped up from a spring a quarter-mile away. The black PVC waterline lay above ground as it crossed the sunny pasture next to the house on its way to the kitchen sink. That summer the water was always hot. The entire system broke down when winter came; Other Jerry let the tank and line freeze.

Booker the pony, with Squirt, the goatBecky had a mare named Marlene, a pony named Booker, a goat named Squirt, a German shepard, a couple of cats, and several chickens. When she rode Marlene, the entire entourage followed along, with Booker behind Marlene and the chickens at the rear. Other Jerry was a New Yorker who claimed to be the architect of a McDonalds in Leesburg. I wondered why somebody having McDonalds in his clientele lived in a rotting farmhouse on a white-trash road in cross-eyed Hicksville, Maryland.

Squirt and Other Jerry's barnJerry had plans. He was going to restore the barn behind the house. He planned to make money working leather, cutting firewood, hauling old cars off for recycling, and architecting for the neighbors. What he did was smoke pot, take speed, and drink at a nearby bar. Squirt's job was to chomp the honeysuckle off the fences and clean up tin cans, old tires, and the other stuff goats are supposed to eat, but he preferred Booker's sweet feed.

While Becky fed Booker, Squirt would lurk nearby, then charge at Booker and steal the feed. Once Squirt charged Becky directly, so Jerry clonged him on the head with the flat backside of a shovel. Squirt lurched back on his haunches for 10 seconds with X's in his eyes and tweeting birds circling over his head. Then his eyes cleared up and he went right back for the sweet feed.

Down the road lived Vickie, whose life has entwined with Becky's ever since. They have shared living quarters, dogs, cats, horses, kids, and Christmas. They have talked sense to each other through husbands and lovers, child-rearing, job upheavals, and economic terror. They differ about living quarters, dogs, cats, horses, husbands and lovers, child-rearing, living quarters, and politics. Their friendship endured for a long time.