Drifters: Stories from the Dark Side of Delinquency

Drifters: Stories from the Dark Side of Delinquency
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Joel Polson in Courtesy Johnny Polson. Still, Joel was difficult to overlook at Hartsville High. He got into photography, and he and his camera became fixtures at every campus event. Classmates nicknamed him Flash. That primed him for further involvement. He was president of the Photography Club, was a DJ on the school radio station, and worked the counter in the student store. At the shelter, Margaret was numb with shock. Joel was probably dead. It made no sense. The men had not said a word to each other that morning. He asked whether Joel had any money. She pointed out where Joel stashed them.

She had change in her pocket. She handed it over. Pack up, Ralph told her. He led her back into the woods—deeper this time, yards from the shelter. She asked whether he was going to kill her. He had her again sit facing a tree and once more positioned her legs around the trunk, binding her feet together. He tied her hands behind her back. He covered her backpack with leaves and wedged his own rucksack behind her as a backrest. He dropped a bag of granola in her lap. He had her demonstrate that she could reach both with her mouth.

It could be that somebody will come in an hour, he said. Then again, it might be tomorrow. This time he dispensed with the blindfold. Margaret watched the sweep of the second hand. It seemed preternaturally slow. Minutes crawled by. She strained her ears, dreading the sound of footsteps, certain that if Ralph returned it would be to kill her. After fifteen minutes, here he came. Getting that way, she realized, did. She found herself thinking, with eerie calm: OK God. Here I come. Ralph surprised her. I just wanted his gear. I had to do it because he was such a big guy.

So you have a choice, Ralph told her. You can stay here if you want. Or you can hike out of the mountains with me. Margaret did not dwell on her options.

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She did not want to sit tied up in the woods. A few minutes later, they were packed up and headed back to the AT, Margaret in the lead, Ralph and his gun a pace behind.

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At the junction, they could have turned south, backtracking to a road less than five miles away. Instead, Ralph ordered her north. Listen up, he said as they walked. After high school, Joel continued to hone his skill behind a lens. He landed pictures in the local papers and won first place at the Darlington Arts Festival. Joel hiked frequently into a local arboretum to photograph flowers and the blackwater swamp at its heart.

He took up cycling, too, and invested in a lightweight road bike he took on marathon rides across the coastal plain. Around , he pedaled from Hartsville to Kent, Ohio, and a couple of years later, says his brother, he set out to ride across the country. Inevitably, his interest in the outdoors and arcane gear fused into a new passion: Joel started talking about hiking the Appalachian Trail.

His kindness chilled Margaret. She believed none of it. She was the only person who could link him to a murder.

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Surely he planned to kill her. But for now she was still alive, and she recognized that staying that way meant doing everything he said, buying one minute at a time.

For nearly four miles out of Low Gap, the trail followed an old roadbed ruffed with ferns. On their left rose dark stone, bearded in moss and punctuated with small waterfalls. On their right the ground fell sharply away. Margaret expected at any moment that Ralph might shove her over the precipice or shoot her in the back and kick her down the mountainside. It made sense that he would.

She steadied her nerves by talking. She said it seemed like he was running from something and asked what it was. The FBI was probably looking for him. He was preoccupied.

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It was he, not Margaret, who needed to stop every few minutes. They were resting not far into the hike when two men with chainsaws came into view, one of them the same forester she and Joel had spoken with the day before. Margaret panicked. This was no chance for rescue. Just the opposite: if the forester saw that she was hiking with a different man, she was sure Ralph would start shooting. And in fact, the guy did notice. He said no more about it. Their ride was picking them up miles to the south later that afternoon. The men hurried off, unaware of their luck, leaving Margaret with a deepening dread that she and Ralph would spend the night in the woods.

He looked like a hippie out of central casting—beard, granny glasses, hair spilling past his shoulders and held in place with a headband. But appearances aside, he was out of step with the Woodstock generation. He lived with his parents. He remained a quiet misfit. He continued to dive deep into hobbies: He took a liking to bluegrass tunes and built his own washtub bass, carrying the unwieldy instrument wherever he went. He bought a fiddle, too. Family and friends never heard him play it, but it ranked high among his possessions. In time, Joel moved to Columbia and was hired on as a night watchman at the Joyful Alternative.

All he had to offer was that fiddle. It was studded with rocks and knuckled with roots, and it rode the knobby spine of a ridge high above the infant Chattahoochee River. There he could scratch by with just a pocketknife. Not so in these southern Appalachians: here he felt out of his element.

The afternoon sun crossed the sky.

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Just beyond, they came to the Rocky Knob shelter , where they rested before descending a steep, yard side trail to a spring. Even they could cover the distance by nightfall. All but Margaret dropped out as the time to leave approached. Margaret had never met a man who could embroider.

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She was impressed. They refined their timetable: Joel would attend a fiddling convention in North Carolina and from there make his way to Springer Mountain. One logistical hurdle remained. Knowing that her parents would never let her hike alone with a man, Margaret concocted a lie: she would be one of 15 college students Joel would lead on the trip. She enlisted him as coconspirator and introduced him to her folks in mid-April Her father, an avid hunter , was excited by the adventure and evidently satisfied that Joel was fit to lead it.

She looked tiny and impossibly young in the image—slight, baby-faced, feigning hardy courage with one foot propped up on a chair. Harritt at home before the hike, spring William L. The night before Joel left, he and Margaret stayed with her elder sister, Polly.

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Joel spread his sleeping bag on the kitchen floor. A week later, he was back. He killed time while Margaret wrapped up her classes. On Monday, May 6, the two left Columbia by bus for Atlanta. The next day they took another bus into the mountains and caught a ride to the trailhead at Tesnatee.

He would not let Margaret go when they reached the road. He needed time to work out his next move, and he wanted her with him. It was good news and bad. The good: Ralph might not kill her here and now. The bad: Ralph would kill her just the same. And first she might have to actually hole up with him in a motel. They clambered out of the hollow, up a series of short, steep climbs, and then down the rocky, hourlong descent into Unicoi Gap.

They heard passing cars long before they saw Georgia Route 75 through the trees. A few minutes after they reached the blacktop, a young woman pulled over and offered them a lift. Did she know of a place that would overlook that? She might, the woman replied. Nine miles south of Unicoi Gap, she stopped the car outside a restaurant in the north Georgia burg of Helen.

Facing the decline of its logging industry, the town had reimagined itself as a tourist draw: a storybook Bavarian village, its every building revamped with towers, chalet rooflines, and alpine gingerbread. It was into this discordant setting that Margaret and Ralph now stepped. Of course, she was told. Where in town could they stay? Just up the road, came the reply. The Chattahoochee Motel was an unassuming place, with six rooms facing the road and its namesake river chattering fast out back. Ralph did the talking this time. Joel Polson. Margaret entered their room with a fast-beating heart.

She fully expected he would rape her. Nothing appeared on the local news. At a restaurant next door, they bought food and beer and brought it back to the room. They watched an Elvis Presley movie. He told Margaret that if she wanted to keep a memento of Joel, she was welcome to go through his pack. She left it as it was. She asked to take a shower. You know, Ralph told her, I could tell you were scared when we were hiking.

You kept turning around, like you thought I was about to shoot you. I almost gave you the gun just to calm you down. Though it might seem impossible, she slept through the night; it was well past sunup when she opened her eyes to find him still sitting there. The restaurant had no money in the till. They returned to the Wurst Haus for coffee. He was still going to let her go, Ralph said. Ralph had a map of Georgia and figured they could get a bus in Cleveland, nine miles to the south. They started through town, thumbs out.

A car pulled over. But Cornelia, a town to the southeast, has a Greyhound station. You can catch an eastbound bus there. They hitched another ride. The Greyhound station occupied a downtown storefront, and when Margaret and Ralph arrived shortly before noon, they found the door locked and a sign on the glass: Gone to the doctor.

Be back afternoon. After a quick lunch at a restaurant around the corner, they returned to the bus station, where the manager appeared and unlocked the door.

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Ralph stepped up to the counter. His bus, due in first, was running late, so Ralph talked. Then his bus arrived. His pack was loaded into the cargo hold. He climbed aboard. Margaret watched the bus pull away. She sat, immobile, until her own bus arrived a short time later. It was dark when the Greyhound reached Columbia. From a station phone booth, Margaret called her elder brother, who lived in the city, but got no answer. She called her parents in Sumter. No one picked up. So she dialed the Columbia police. Could you come get me?

Thompson was roused from his bed and dispatched to White County. Well before dawn, Thompson joined Baker at the crime scene. He lay covered with leaves and sticks, across the stream from the shelter. White County sheriff Frank Baker. Courtesy White County Sheriff's Office. An autopsy found that a. Margaret described her ordeal in an hours-long interview two days later.

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Jack first worked as a police officer coming face to face with those who had entered the world of crime; he then became a School Resource Officer SRO , engaging with students on the cusp of delinquency and criminality. Lee, F. Gazers Part 8 by Iggysgirl. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Andrew Lawrence Spivak.

She was as confused as her listeners about one piece of the narrative. He really was. Just after, his distraught mother had to be hospitalized. She knew where he lived. Thompson waited inside for the tenant to return. Late that afternoon he did. Police identified him as Ralph Howard Fox.

He was 31, born and raised in Detroit. Like Joel, he was the youngest of three children in a solidly middle-class household. The similarities ended there. In his teens, Ralph kidnapped a girl from a party he threw while his parents were away, she recalls. At 17, he was arrested for car theft, and again a year after that for breaking and entering.

In , when he was 20, he ran off to New Mexico with a teenage girl and was arrested for statutory rape and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Her name was Ann. He married her a few months later. Ann divorced him. The state gave him 15 years, but he served only a fraction of that before he escaped from the Michigan State Prison in Jackson. Details of his breakout are lost—Michigan prison officials say his file was destroyed years ago—but in October , he was recaptured in Miami and returned to Jackson.

When she walked in, he opened fire with a rifle. He missed. Ralph eventually fled the state. He stepped onto the Appalachian Trail for the first time five days before killing Joel. Margaret picked him out of a lineup. He described tying Margaret up, returning for her, and their hike to Unicoi Gap. Ralph did not explicitly confess to murder, however, or explain just what had happened that morning at Low Gap. He said no more. When he was indicted for murder the following October, Ralph pleaded guilty.

He was sentenced to life in Georgia State Prison. Ralph Fox, a.

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Inmate D, spent most of the next 17 years behind bars. But when his older brother died, in July , he was granted a one-month reprieve to attend the Michigan funeral. That furlough morphed into parole , with his supervision transferred to Michigan authorities. And so Ralph gained a tentative freedom, and he moved in with Corrinne in Lapeer County, Michigan, about 50 miles north of Detroit. Read more. The global phenomenon of James Bond is an archetypal instance of 60s audiovisual brashness. The sheer loudness and pictorial noise of the first Bond films and their ironic self-consciousness reverberated throughout world cinema, creating many a transcultural mutant in the espionage genres.

Far from being an imperialist colonising trend, the theatrical excess of the Bond films presented many non-An Some sequences in Story of a Prostitute are so achingly beautiful, they scar the mind. In fact, I would argue that Suzuki's most powerful films revolve around women. OK—so they re always prostitutes in one way or another, but a potent trait of Japanese cinema has been its portrayal of the geisha in modern guise, and along with Suzuki's own Gate of Flesh , Story of a Prostitute is a landmark The Dark Side of Pop, a series of Japanese CDs, focuses on the weird songs recorded by movie stars, ex-boxers, gangsters and freaky-nobodies from the 60s and 70s.

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Tokyo Drifter is a postcard from that uniquely Japanese cross-over between pop music and cinema. The film stars Idoru singer Tetsuya Watari, the film is like an ex One of Suzukis most intellectual yet perplexing films. It follows the delinquent exploits of Kiroku Nanbu Hideki Takahashi as he rebelliously claws his way through high school hell in Okayama in In its implosion brought about by relished violence and politicised epiphanies, the viewer is left sifting through the causal