One of those nights on Lay Lake

Published 7:33 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When I was assigned to Lay Lake, they explained it was not policy for someone to start in their home county, but they were going to ask me to work Shelby, Talladega and Coosa. So, there I was, tossed right into “Sweet Home Alabaster.”Since I was also going to work Lake Mitchell, I would be living in Chilton County. This meant that I would trailer my boat above Lay Dam. Of course, that was fine with me. I spent every chance I had on the river before I took the job. The only thing different now was I got paid for it! Now, that’s not entirely so.

It was a pretty Saturday night, and I had planned to work the upper part of the lake to Logan Martin Dam, so I trailered my boat to Wilsonville and launched at the steam plant. I knew it was dangerous, especially working alone and with “zero” communication. We were on the frequency with the forest fire towers (some days, if it was their day to work and it was nice and sunny—I’m not kidding). I was still young and loved the excitement.

I was up to Childersburg before I saw a boat; there was just not much boat traffic up there. They wondered what I was doing up there and couldn’t care less. About five miles farther, I stopped at the paper mill, trying to decide whether I should turn around and go back. Why would anyone be up here? It was almost midnight anyway.

Suddenly, I heard a boat coming in my direction, but I couldn’t see it. The river was narrow at this point. It was obvious he didn’t have lights, but could he see me? I decided that it would be a good idea to put more light on the subject, so I turned my blue light on and lit up the river. He didn’t slow a bit. Did he not see me?I pulled up close enough to touch him, but he didn’t look my way. I dropped back about two boat lengths and came alongside and gave him a pretty good spray, and he finally stopped. He was furious at me! I recognized him as a proverbial “thorn in the side” from way down the lake. What was he doing way up here?

After a slight scuffle, I was able to get him on board. All I could hear were threats coming out of his filthy mouth. I couldn’t even keep my eyes on him.We weren’t permitted to carry handcuffs or even nightsticks. When we got to Wilsonville, he was still pretty drunk, and I had to get him up a bank to my car and finally to Shelby County Jail. Let me paint you the picture. This was the old days. The jailer, like in the movies, was watching TV or asleep. I filled out my charges, and as I turned to leave, the idiot said, “Now, I want to make a charge against him for police brutality!”For what? “Look at my pants—all wet!” He didn’t get the rest out because my huge friend, the jailer, yelled, “shut up” as he grabbed him with one hand and the other had a handful of those big heavy keys (please, Mr. Bad Guy, keep that mouth shut or he is going to feed you those keys). I could hear him bouncing off the jail bars as he escorted him to his cell.

The next morning, I was very concerned about the drunk and how he would look, so I made a trip up there. The new jailer on duty said, “Aw, he was just happy to see his bondsman.”