Forever branded

Published 11:57 am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shhhh. There he is, over there. Let me tell you something about him.

He was 17 at the time; 1972 it was. I remember because that was the same year the river flooded. Seems like yesterday, sometimes.

He had a little too much to drink. Well, way too much, actually. They said it was his first taste of the stuff, but I don’t know. Make you do some crazy things. Especially that first time.

Anyway, he gets in his car to drive home. Where were his friends? I couldn’t tell you, but nobody stopped him. It was different back then, you know.

Said he took off like a bat out of hell. Happened back on Turner Road. That’s right, that sharp curve. Met that boy riding his bike and hit him head-on.

Said he flew over the hood like a space rocket and landed a good 50 yards away. Never knew what hit him. They found him later on, not a speck of life left in him, crumpled up like a newspaper. Sad story.

What? Oh, he got probation. It was different back then, you know. Heck, it must have been 40 years ago.

Today? He runs his own business. Does real well, they say. People like working for him. Gives to a lot of charities. A real family man. His wife works down at the factory, you know, on first shift. I believe he coaches baseball.

He must be the sponsor because I’ve seen his company logo on their uniform. They say the kids love him.

I’ve seen him down at the soup kitchen on Saturday mornings, helping out. Heard he attends church right regularly. Even teaches a class sometimes.

Went on a trip down to Haiti last month. Helped build classrooms or something. Don’t know how he can run a business and do all that. Must have good help.

Oh yeah, I’ve seen him at the hospital, too. Volunteering, I guess. Driving that little cart around from the parking lot to the entrance and helping old folks get in and out of their car. Why, he gave me a ride once. Real friendly sort. How he does it all, I’ll never know.

Shhhh. Here he comes. Now don’t mention none of that stuff I told you. Just act like normal. But remember, he’s the one who hit the little boy on that bike back in ’72.

REX ALPHIN of  Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is