The Devil You Say.

Posted by zerricane on June 30, 2014 in Growing Up |

Many years ago, I attended Green River Community College. It was a relatively small college back then. Eventually you ran into virtually everyone enrolled there, except those stealthy trades people who never seemed to leave the Welding or Automotive Repair buildings on the far side of campus.

Community college was a lot like post-high school. There were still the cliques: the geeks, the freaks and the popular kids. There was the show choir, sports stars and the folky types who would sit out on the grass, smoke some of it and play guitar.

Then there was us. By us I mean the journalism kids. We were a clique too, I guess, though we would have loathed the term back then. Within this circle were smaller cliques – the journalism stars, the goofballs, the editors who thought they were God and the people who would do everything in their power to topple them.

I admit to being the latter occasionally. It was my mission to make Kevin Gunning miserable at every turn. At one point my mischievous underminings worked so well that the “goofballs,” Brian Thompson, Steve Klopfstein and I, were relocated to another space across the campus so that Kevin no longer had to put up with our shenanigans.

I confess, though, that I really did want to be a serious journalist. Well, at least at some level. It was, after all, All The President’s Men that got me into journalism in the first place. I marveled at how Woodward and Bernstein could topple an entire administration with their journalistic prowess.

It was with this in mind that I set upon my own investigative journalism. My first attempt led to a dead end. I had come across a flyer offering a huge cut in the price of cars to instructors at the college. “Aha!” I thought. “Illegal kickbacks and payola.” It turned out to be a fairly routine occurrence. A perk of teaching, as much as government employees getting special rates at hotels.

It was my fellow muckraker Dave Buchannon who came up with our next investigative piece.

He had casually remarked that there were rumors of devil worshippers in the Kent Valley. Apparently they met regularly to sacrifice chickens and dance naked around a fire, calling upon the devil to make his appearance and appeasing him with chants and wild sex acts.

O.K. I might be embellishing a bit here. It’s been years since we embarked on this investigation and in the intervening years I did watch the Dragnet movie.

But you get the gist. We began to do our homework on the story, which back then was pretty tough because you couldn’t just pull up the Internet and type in “Kent Valley Devil Worshippers” and get 200 results and an e-vote.

We must have done a pretty good job though, for the day eventually came that we went out on the actual hunt for the devil worshippers. We hopped into my not so stealthy bright yellow Mustang II and headed off into the dark of the night one evening.

We had heard rumors that these worshippers had been meeting by the Green River. It took us some time to find the location. It was off the beaten path indeed. Oh, I know, just follow the river and you’ll find them. But given that the river is miles and miles long and winds through a county or two, it’s not as easy as you think.

Thankfully, it was just down the road from where Dave happened to live at the time. “Brilliant!” I thought. “Meet right out in the open. The cops will just think you’re another high school kegger and not even stop by long enough to shine a spotlight on you.”

I located the service road on the east side of the river. Dave checked the camera to make sure that it was loaded. It would have been nice if we had been loaded too. But we were working and needed all of our faculties.

I asked Dave if he had pushed the film to 1600 ASA. We’d needed all the light gathering qualities we could get, it being dark and the use of a flash an invitation to be the next sacrifice on the evening’s devil worshipping agenda.

We drove up the road. We could see a bonfire in the distance, but the drive was gated. We wondered how they ever got their cars up the road, then surmised that the city or county had to be in on this, giving them the keys to the lock on the gate. It never really dawned on us that they could have driven in from the other, ungated direction on the same road.

It was time. Dave and I stepped out of the car. We closed the doors ever so slowly, making sure they didn’t make too much noise. With a soft click, we were ready to go.  We walked down the road, feeling our way along the ruts.

As we made it to the gate, we heard a noise. The rapport of a rifle for sure, I thought. And then another.

“To hell with this,” I said, turning tail in a single, blinding motion. Dave was hot on my heels. Another shot rang out as we reached for the door latches.

Damn. I had locked the door. Great time to worry about car thieves. I fumbled for the keys, finally jiggling them in the lock and opening my door. I cranked the ignition and threw the car into gear. Then I remembered that Dave was still standing outside, waiting for me to reach over and unlock his door.

Finally, he jumped in. I floored the accelerator as we backed down the service road. We were sure that the devil worshippers were following us. We could see headlights behind us as we hit the main road.

It took us a while to figure out that it was just normal traffic. After a few last minute turns with doused headlights and a few minutes in the police station parking lot, we finally breathed a sigh of relief.

I knew right then that I wasn’t cut out to be an investigative reporter. And a few years ago, I stopped trying to shag every car that I thought was tailing me, sure it was one of those devil worshippers still trying to  track me down.

In the Emerald City, not looking over my shoulder (much),

– Robb

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