Traveling north trying to go home, Bobby Lee Curtis, now forty-five, shares his story with fellow travelers on the Auto-Train.
The sixth child of seven born into poor white trash, today he was ecstatic. The weekend was here at last, bringing with it the cool crispness of fall. Bobby Lee and his friends, a crew of six local boys, were off for an overnighter into the Woodland Forest; destination the Old Mansion.
Though most of their young lives had been spent exploring the forest, up to now they had failed to find and lay claim to the aged red brick relic. This trip was going to be different, Bobby felt it. Their leader Timmy was thirteen and canny beyond his years; he and his band were determined.
So off they went, hiking a well used dusty trail, slipping into the woods and out onto the Gravel-Pit. It made for a perfect stepping off point to any adventure. Almost twelve hours later, finally they found it. Once a beautiful proud edifice it was now sad and abandoned, most of it burned down, its proud giant white columns reduced to mere rings lined up in front.
As night fell and the fire was lit, their quiet was suddenly violated by the harsh clamor of several mini-bikes and the drunken shouts of teenage riders. The boys were under attack!
Witnesses later that night to what they all would realize was a terrible accident, Timmy commanded his guys to remain quiet and hidden among the trees. Much younger than the invaders, with only one gun and a cross-bow between them, they settled in, just out of fire-light range. It would be a long night.
Comforted by the warm morning sun, the group makes a decision that will haunt them for years to come.