The Night of the Rats

Roland Bridges was a lifelong friend. I say ‘was’ because we lost him a few months ago. Roland walked in his sleep. I found that out, first hand, when I spent the night at his house.  The Bridges had a ‘sleeping porch’ with two beds at each end. I was awakened by Roland shaking my shoulders and saying, “Come on, we need to help her.”  Help Her??? “Who?”, I asked, but he simply turned away and strangely walked toward the outside door. I caught him and said his name and he jolted awake and said, “Thanks, Jim. I do this a lot”. He then quietly got back in bed and was soon asleep. I stayed awake the rest of the night, just in case. One other time I was an over-night guest.  We traveled to Dallas to visit his sister and attend “The Texas State Fair”.  She lived within walking distance of the Fair Grounds and after enjoying a day at the fair, Roland and I were walking out of the fair grounds when a group of boys began following us. They were calling us names and demanded that we stop and give them money. Roland said, “Run”! I did, but he was too slow. They caught and circled him and proceed to pummel him. I was quite a distance from them, but there were two couples who saw what was happening and when one of the men started to help Roland, his lady-friend pulled him away. By his action, the gang decided to leave him alone and by the time I got to Roland the ‘bullies’ had lost interest in the whole affair. Roland had a bloody nose and a  coat collar. He was lucky since we had spent our whole stash at the fair. With handkerchiefs and some cold water from a drinking fountain, we managed to staunch the nose-bleed.  When we go to the apartment, his sister said, “Oh, I forgot to warn you about the Lakewood Rat Gang”.  It seems they had been roaming the fair, looking for easy marks who were leaving. Roland didn’t walk in his sleep that night, but wanted to go back and look for “that bunch”. I was relieved when his sister convinced him otherwise.  I still take backward glances when walking down a dark street, donchaknow.

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