You can’t lose me

Sometimes I just can’t take a hint.

The bus was supposed to leave Briceville Elementary School at 8:30 a.m. What I wasn’t told was that there were like, multiple big yellow boxes leaving the school at that exact time and that predicting which one you were supposed to follow was kinda like figuring out a Chinese puzzle box — one that everyone but myself knew the answer for — and I was sitting there thinking, “17 minus 4 times 6.5 divided by …” Or whatever it is a Chinese puzzle box asks you to do.

It’s a puzzle, right.

Barry Thacker — and let me just say right now that great swathes of Canadian timberland have been cut to process the paper to describe the many, many good deeds Mr. Thacker has accomplished for the children in Briceville — has done many, many good deeds for the children in Briceville.

I think I just heard a tree fall.

Mr. Thacker and Carol Moore of the Coal Creek Watershed were taking Briceville Elementary School students on their annual field trip to allow them to see, first hand, the important heritage they have.

“I think I’m following the wrong bus and I’m going to …” I said to myself.

“Gatlinburg … We lost him, we lost him, we …” Barry Thacker was high-fiving Carol Moore as they watched the Pearl Jam Mobile pull away in the wrong direction from Briceville Elementary School.

“Don’t know where he is, but we’re hoping he comes back soon because we haven’t had anything stupid happen in the office since …” a customer was told while I was away.

“He’s been traveling hither and yon,, just hither and yon and we haven’t seen him in ...”

“Ken was in his truck. I saw him. He must have (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) followed the wrong bus,” I understand Mr. Thacker confessed to an adult chaperone on the trip.

The chaperone was worried because she thought I was carrying all the snacks in my truck.

At that point Mr. Thacker and Carol Moore were too busy laughing about their apparent successful misguidance-ness to realize I’m like a bad tax document — I always return.

I know that was kinda weak, but …

I found them at Drummond Bridge.

Oddly enough the one place on their itinerary I had no idea the location of.

See, they (that would be Carol Moore and Barry Thacker) decided (though it has not been officially confirmed) that it would be best if I, with my scraggly handwriting, loud music, and self-titled Pearl Jam Mobile, followed a school bus to either Gatlinburg or the Knoxville Zoo, hoping I would be devoured by a big fish or eaten by a big marmot with a bad attitude.

But it didn’t work.

I found them going to Drummond Bridge.

This is what I know about Drummond Bridge: It was on the itinerary.

Right after ... Something else listed above it on the itinerary.

There is a haunted history to Drummond Bridge.

You either believe in this stuff or you don’t — the ghosts of a dead man seeking revenge.

Telling fourth graders about the young miner who ran afoul of young troopers while in pursuit of a young maiden — or vice versa — and of a young man hung from the trestle of a railroad bridge and how to evoke his spirit to come back and walk the rail at night to bring his spir ...

“Eeeeeeh! A GHOST!” Carol Moore shouted while telling the students about the legend of the hanging on Drummond Bridge.

Mr. Thacker had taken a side trail to get on top of the bridge.

He was trying to scare them

The students giggled.

Barry Thacker giggled.

Carol Moore looked around expectantly, seeing who might have been scared.

So I was told.

Because I wasn’t there.

I ran. I would have kept running if I hadn’t collided with the back end of a school bus heading for Gatlinburg.

I don’t like ghost stories.

“Well Ken,” My Thacker, all-round good guy and swellegant individual put his arm around my shoulder. “Ever wanted to be part of a myth?”

When he saw I wasn’t quite following what he was saying … “Ever been stuck in a mine pit?”

Gatlinburg was sure looking good about then.