Glory's stepfather tells a story that changes her life.
| Just about everything I need to know about life, I’ve learned from the greatest living man in the world; my step-dad, Bill. Bill isn’t the everyday average Joe. When he was young, he helped his dad roofing and bricking houses during the day, and having long jam sessions on guitars way into the night. He rode motorcycles with some rough characters and has had some interesting encounters. He’s told me hundreds of stories over the years, but there’s one that I’ve never forgotten—even the slightest details.
It was a beautiful summer night for Virginia, the humidity was bearable, and the heat didn’t drive you back inside. Bill and I were swinging on the glider on our back porch, both of us playing our guitars-that’s a passion he passed down to me- and every so often, he’d stop and tell me an interesting story. He told me one about when he “and his buddies” almost made it to Woodstock, until they discovered none of them had cars. About one where he “and his buddies” used to play guitars in a church yard, and people would set up their lawn chairs on the grassy field and listen for hours. And even one where he “and his buddies” went to a training school and chased people around in a VW minibus just for laughs. So we played a little more and sang a little more until he thought of another one.
Bill put his guitar down, weaved his pick between the first 3 strings, and slid it up the fret board. He heaved a sigh and said softly, “Did I ever tell you about that time that me and my buddies got in trouble down at the drive-in?”
By “trouble”, I knew he meant something about a fight. Something serious about a fight. You see, back in the day, Bill Drinkard wasn’t somebody you wanted to see mad. He was a fighter and trained hard for it. He had a tough exterior and abs that would hurt you more than it would hurt him if you punched them. He once picked up the whole back of a motorcycle with somebody still on it, laughing, as if it were nothing. I put on my listening ears, tuned in, and replied, “Nope. Sure haven’t.”
“Well, it was back in ’69 and me and Hootie were pulled down at the drive-in when these guys came up in a car talkin’ trash. So I decided that I didn’t like that very much, and I was gonna make sure that they knew that,” Bill began in his trade-marked southern drawl, as my mind starting playing it like a movie. I could see them now, Bill in all his glory, motorcycle in tow, attitude tough as nails. The dark drive-in with old, vintage cars lined up like ants at a picnic. The low rumble of voices and running cars. His friend by his side, ready for action. “So we hollered back at them, telling them to say it to our face. Sure ‘nough, they came pourin’ out of the car, actin’ all tough.
“This little guy came at me and I knocked him down like it won’t nothin’. Then another little guy came after Hootie, and he knocked him down the same way. So we thought we had the upper hand—which we did.” I could see Bill flexing his muscles, knowing he could beat anyone there, rolling anyone who came at him, his friend feeling the exact same way. There was no way that they were in trouble. Right? “’Then, I turned around and felt something pokin’ at my chest. I looked down, and there’s a barrel of a shotgun stickin’ me. The guy said to me, he said, ‘Boy, I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you, Boy.’” My mouth dropped down through the back porch and into the ground. Someone had threatened to kill this man next to me’s life. And he told the story like it wasn’t anything! “So I said to him, ‘You’re the one goin’ to jail—not me.’ And he kind of paused, thinkin’, so I jerked the gun off me and beat the livin’ crap out of him, told Hootie to get in the car, and beat it out of there like a bat out of H-E-double-hockey-sticks.”
I was astonished. I couldn’t believe that something that big, something that deadly could have happened to someone and not changed a thing about them. “Bill, won’t you scared? Won’t you afraid?” I asked him in disbelief.
And then he said to me, “Glory, just because somebody points a gun at you, doesn’t mean they’re gonna kill you.”
Little did he know, that would be the quote guiding the next year of my life. “Just because somebody points a gun at you, doesn’t mean they’re gonna kill you.” I can still hear him say it in his low, comforting drawl. There was something about how he worded it that made me think. It made me feel empowered, like I knew something that no one else knew. There was nothing that could touch me that night.
Now, thinking back, I’m glad that he told me that at that time. I wasn’t really sure of myself, and didn’t have the sense of fearlessness that I have now. But that quote, that tiny little sentence, gave me the hope and the strength that whatever I might face in the future, I can get through it. Some obstacles might try to point that gun at me, but it doesn’t mean that my whole world is going to end. It’s my choice whether to “jerk that gun off me and beat the livin’ crap out of” whatever’s in my way, or to just stand there and let fear control me.
It’s a funny, funny world that we live in, especially if you’re living in the same one that Bill is, and some people and things come and go. But usually there’s at least one thing that you’ve experienced that you never forget. That beautiful summer night, that melodic music we were playing, that powerful short story, that way he said it, I will never forget. “Just because somebody points a gun at you, doesn’t mean they’re gonna kill you.”