Short Story by William Weber
A Night of Terror
"You yellow belly, draft-dodging S.O.B., get the hell out of this town, " they shouted, as I jumped across the road ditch out of the path of their oncoming car.
The year was 1944, I was one of the many stationed at the National Forest Service standby house in Missoula, Montana. It was during one of the worst fire seasons for a number of years.
On this particular Saturday night some of us decided that we would go roller skating only a few short blocks away.
During the course of the evening I met this lovely, dark-haired girl and we skated together often during the evening. When it was time to leave, I asked her if she had a way home and as she indicated not, I said, "I do not have a car, but if you wish I will walk you home." This was agreeable with her.
The moonlight on her hair, her perfume blending with the smells of fall and her soft warm hand in mine tended to negate any apprehension I might have had of a car following behind us.
Arriving at her parents' house, she thanked me for walking her home, gave me a quick hug and kiss and she was gone.
It was now after midnight, the moon hung low in the western sky and it was two long miles back to Missoula. I was already tired from skating and the walk out there. But I had no choice.
Hardly more than a half mile from this lovely girl's home, I saw the lights of a car racing toward me. As I jumped off the road and across the ditch, it went roaring past, the occupants shouting "yellow belly, draft dodger, get out of town," and many other obscenities.
Recovering my composure, I climbed out of the ditch and back on the edge of the highway. I had only gone a short distance when the car came roaring back, again forcing me off the road and with many of the same words of greeting as the first encounter.
By now, I knew these fellows meant business, that the girl I walked home must be the girlfriend of one of them, and it was obvious they were unhappy with my entry into the picture.
The remaining mile and a half was a nightmare, they continued to come at me at a high rate of speed and I expected that if they could not hit me with the car that they would stop the car and beat me up. Luckily, this did not occur and after what seemed like forever, I was back in Missoula. I had survived.
I have had some scary things happen in my life, nearly drowned, nearly got electrocuted, that first parachute jump, a pistol held to my head by a drunken M.P. But never, never have I been so terrified as I was that night.
--Taken from Static Lines and Canopies: Stories from the Smoke Jumpers of 1943-1945 Civilian Service Camp 103, Missoula, Montana. Ed. Asa Mundell. Beaverton: 1993. Print.