Love and Death In Charlottesville


Photographs of Old Cville by Paul Whitehead

True Stories by Jamie Dyer


A Prayer for Homer


Another twilight in Hell. I was driving north on Route 20, just south of Charlottesville. There used to be a dangerous curve on this section of road. Deadman's Curve, of course. Every place has one. They fixed it so now it's just a curve with no nickname.

I was about half a mile south of this curve. A car with aspirations of being a muscle car passed by me doing at least 70 mph. He got back into the driving lane and then I saw him go into the curve ahead.

I came halfway through the curve about 40 seconds later. The car that had passed me was laying on its side on a large hummock, driver's side facing heaven and the underside facing the road. There was another car facing south, idling in a driveway. It took off southwards as I pulled over.

I ran up the small rise and heard a string of cuss words coming from inside the vehicle. There's no need to repeat them so use your imagination.

"That chucklehead was in my lane! I woulda make that turn but for that horses rear! Heck! I just put a new transmission into this!"

Then a largish fellow emerged from the driver's window. He threw a bag of tools onto the ground and hauled himself out of the car and jumped to earth.

Before we could exchange a word, an elderly couple that lived nearby ran up to us inquiring after everyone's well being. They were a very sweet, kind couple. The husband said he'd go back and call the sheriff.

The unhorsed driver became adamant. "DO NOT CALL THE COPS!", he bellowed at the couple. They ran back to their house to call the cops.

The driver looked at me and said,"I'll give you an ounce of hash if you get me home now."

Please understand that your humble scribe was 25 years old. Of course I said yes. He grabbed his tools and we hightailed it out of there.

At the beginning of the ride, he introduced himself by telling me that he was wanted for tampering with a state's witness in Florida. I admired his sense of honor. Not many felons would give you that information in order to decide if you wished to continue associating with them. He didn't live that far away and it was an ounce of hash, after all.

His name was Homer. He worked steel on the new levee they were building in Scottsville, Virginia at the time. He also said he ran a pit crew at a local speedway. They could switch an engine out faster than any other crew in the state. He hadn't lied yet so I believed him.

Before we got to his house, he asked me another favor. I needed to come inside and tell his wife I saw the other car that had taken off. It was his claim that the other car had been in his lane and he'd swerved to avoid it thus ending up on a hillside. Conditions between husband and wife were apparently such that the word of a stranger was better than Homer's word. I agreed because I had to get the payoff for the ride home anyway.

We went inside and there was immediate sturm and drang between the pair. During the row, Homer opened the freezer, took out an ounce of hash wrapped in wax paper and saranwrap and handed it to me. When she became aware of the situation at hand, she loudly ordered him to go to a payphone and call the cops to report the accident.

Again my partner in crime asked a favor. Could I give him a ride to a payphone, wait with him and tell the cops about the other car?

You know I said yes.

We found a payphone and waited for the police. A county cop and a city cop pulled up. They obviously knew Homer.

"How fast were you going through that turn?", asked one of the officers.

"70", said my associate.

"Bull. We can't take that turn at 60", retorted the cop.

Thus began an argument between Homer and the police about the nature of their vehicles and the journeys they can take them on. I asked if I was needed and was ignored by all.

Getting no answer, I got in my car and left. No one paid attention to my departure as they were busy with their discussion.

I went home, smoked some hash and sent thanks out to the Great Whomever for Homer.



lovedeath@loveanddeathincharlottesvilleville dot com

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