There I was, digging a hole in the middle of my backyard under a cloud-darkened sky. I’d sometimes go out in the dark after a rain to catch night crawlers, but I wasn’t searching for night crawlers that night. I was on a more dubious mission.

It began innocently enough. It wasn’t premeditated. I didn’t plan on becoming a criminal. I saw lots of youth as the school’s psychologist. They were usually referred by a teacher or administrator, but this time a parent had asked for me to see his son. Not just any parent, but a leading mover and shaker among the city’s hierarchy, so I wanted to get this right.

The man’s son had a clean record. He hadn’t gotten into trouble in school or in town, but his father was concerned because he’d lately taken up with what he considered to be the wrong crowd. I said that I’d talk with his boy.

The boy was willing to talk, and soon it became clear that he’d already decided that his new friends weren’t what he first thought them to be—just a half-dozen fun-loving guys. He was beginning to get nervous and had decided to bail out of the group, except there was one problem. He’d tried marijuana and still possessed a stash of it.

That was 1967. I barely knew what marijuana was, except that I knew it was around. And I knew it was illegal. After talking some more, he decided that he’d leave the group, and he wanted to get rid of the marijuana before anyone found it. He was afraid of what might happen if he got any of the guys in trouble. And he didn’t want anyone to know that he possessed that illegal drug—certainly not his father, authorities, or school personnel. So, he asked me to take it.

My taking the stash seemed to make a hopeful outcome possible, and his father would be happy if he left that group—but what would I do with a sack full of marijuana?

I didn’t want it, but I didn’t want the boy to get into trouble, either.

I took it, but I almost immediately regretted that action.

What would I do with it?

I knew better than to throw it down the toilet, and I was certain that the trashcan wasn’t a good idea. I worried about leaving it around the house where friends or relatives might spot it. Some of my friends blamed the riots taking place around the country on the effects of marijuana—not that marijuana caused the rioting, but rather, they thought that consuming the drug might make the youngsters brave enough to do things they’d not otherwise do.

I decided to bury it in my backyard. I was home alone that day, so I dug the sack of illegal goods from its hiding place, grabbed a shovel from the garage, and started toward the back door. I then remembered that my neighbor would often come out to chat when he saw me outside. I certainly didn’t want him to see this contraband. So, I took my stash back to its hiding place and left it, hoping no one would discover it until I could think of a better plan. And I soon did. That’s why I was out there in the middle of the night. “This shouldn’t be too hard,” I thought.

But I still wasn’t sure. How deep should I bury it? What if a dog would notice the fresh dirt and dig it up? Maybe my wife would notice the fresh digging. I was beginning to think like I thought as a kid. And that’s what worried me. Maybe a kid would notice the new digging and think there might be treasure underneath. I was way too anxious. That must be the way a criminal thinks. It began to appear that this wouldn’t be so easy after all.

I didn’t have any other good ideas, so I decided to get it done that night. I took a deep breath, thought for a moment, and decided. I first peeled the sod back. I then dug a couple feet deep, thought about it, and dug another foot down. It was getting cold out, and I was puffing like a marathon runner as he neared the finish line. I wasn’t adept at criminal activity.

I dropped the bag of illegal goods into the bottom of the hole, shoveled some dirt over it, and then looked around the yard until I found a big rock. I shoveled more dirt in the hole until it was almost full, and then I dropped the rock on top of the dirt. No dog was going to chew on this illicit weed. I filled the hole to the top, then a little bit higher, and stomped for ten minutes trying to level it with the surrounding ground. And finally, I carefully placed the sod over the hole.

Many years have passed, so I think that I’m safe telling this story now. I believe that the statute of limitations must have expired long ago. But if I’m wrong, please don’t squeal on me. I don’t think I’d like spending the rest of my life behind bars.

If you like this you'll love the O'Shaughnessy Chronicles!

When a sibling unexpectedly inherits his grandfather’s dairy farm, Will O’Shaughnessy turns to selling Fords in rural, pre-World War I southwestern Wisconsin.

A richly wistful epic tale of a bygone era....Readers will yearn for more. ~ Midwest Book Review

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