I went to high school in St. Peterburg, Florida and had my first job at the McDonald’s in an adjoining town called Pinellas Park.
One of my friends from High School, Rich Lyons, also worked there and helped me get my job there.
Rich was the captain of our basketball team and a good person.
It was an April Saturday night, and I had just dropped off my date after dinner and a movie. I was driving in the general direction of my house when I noticed it. A car seemed to be following me. I turned a corner that I didn’t need to take just to see what happened. The car turned the corner, too.
I turned again and got on the main road, so did the car behind me. I was being followed.
I didn’t want whoever it was trailing me to my house so I started driving. But to where? My mind raced looking at possibililties. I started heading for the Pinellas Park McDonald’s. At least there they’d let me in.
I headed there and the car followed. I came to a four way stop and I stopped. So did the car behind me and I saw a dome light come on and a door open. I hit the gas.
I raced to McDonald’s, jumped out and banged on the back door. There was Rich Lyons, he was working the Saturday night shift. He asked what was wrong. I told him that someone was following me and they even tried to get out of the car to get to me. Rich grabbed the biggest knife in the kitchen, and we went out the back door. We looked around and didn’t see the car. After a while I thanked Rich and headed home. I wasn’t followed home.
After I got home, the doorbell rang. I was somewhat shaken after what happened but I answered the door. There stood Kevin, a senior at our school. He smiled and said that they started following me as a joke, but it got out of hand and he wanted to apologize because he realized he and his friends had scared me.
T. S. Eliot famously said, “April is the cruelest month.” Maybe that’s one reason that people play practical jokes on April Fools Day.
This turned out to be a prank that went wrong, but it revealed true courage on the part of Rich who grabbed a knife and was ready to fight for a friend and for Kevin, who had the courage to come to my door and apologize.
I never forgot Rich, who went on to the Naval Academy, and Kevin whose hand I shook and smiled and said, “Thanks so much for stopping by and telling me.”
Who knew a simple Saturday night would become a test of courage I would never forget in April, the cruelest month.