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THE FALL OF HERCULES SIMPSON

SEPTEMBER 4: One of the rules Hercules Simpson has set down is for Carl to always use his teeth when opening a beer bottle. This day, Carl's father sees him doing it and says, "Don't do that! Use an opener!" When Carl thinks Simpson isn't looking, he uses an opener and quickly puts the cap back on, then pretends to "open" the bottle with his teeth. Unfortunately, Simpson has seen this trick and orders him out to the back room.
          For the crime of trying to put one over on him, Simpson hits Carl a few times with a croquet stick. Every time Carl shows pain, Simpson threatens more hits.
          Carl pleads for him to stop. This angers Simpson even more, and he threatens 20, then 40 whacks. When he ups his threat to 60, it is his undoing. Carl decides he'd better get out of this one fast.
          He lures Simpson into the garage where his father's electric car is parked. He keeps backing away from Simpson and gets to where they are on opposite sides of the car. When Simpson is on the far side of the car, Carl grabs the beer bottle and makes a run for it.
          He gets to the back alley and the garage door opens suddenly. Carl instantaneously turns around, heads out the front gate and disappears.
          The next morning he returns home briefly to get a sweater, intending to sneak in and out of his back room without anyone noticing. His cat, Amber, is sitting on the outside portion of the air conditioner of his parents' bedroom, and when she sees him coming she jumps off and runs through the bushes, waking up Carl's parents. He is about halfway through the yard when his father comes out the back door.
          Carl finally lets his father in on some of what has been going on during the summer. He sleeps in his parents' bedroom until 11 a.m., when everyone gets up. Simpson is initially irritated that Carl took off; they go into the den and close the door. He asks where Carl went. Carl only manages to say the word "out" before his dad comes marching in and confronts Simpson.
          Carl manages to smooth things out and keep peace between all parties until he can take Simpson up to Ichabod College. Initially caught off guard by the sudden turn of events, Simpson is nice to Carl for the rest of the week.

SEPTEMBER 13: Craig and Carl drive up to the Ichabod campus in separate cars and Carl drops off the Tercel with Simpson so he can use it while Carl is in New York. When Carl gets home, his dad is a little annoyed at this, telling Carl not to expect the car to be in the best of shape when they get back.

SEPTEMBER 14: Carl and his parents fly to New York to attend the wedding of his cousin Noreen. While conversing with various relatives, Carl's mother blurts out information about what went on during the summer with Simpson.

SEPTEMBER 17: Noreen Knudsen weds Thomas Scarlatti. A few days after the wedding, Carl's cousin Anne gives him a little pep talk and his aunts and uncles offer moral support.

SEPTEMBER 21: The dreaded day to fly back has arrived. Carl sheds tears as the plane takes off for Los Angeles.
          Simpson calls him later that night. Carl states that he'll be up around noon the next day to pick up the car.

SEPTEMBER 22: Carl leaves Santa Monica by bus around 10 AM. A poor judge of time, he doesn't even get to Agoura until after noon. There's no bus service to Ichabod, so he walks to the campus, getting there at 4:30. Simpson's anger is rekindled, and he lets Carl have it. Things are smoothed out rather quickly, and the rest of the evening goes okay. Carl spends the night there and finally comes to his senses the next day. Knowing he'd be better off without a bad influence like Simpson, he finally summons the courage to get away from Simpson once and for all. He later dubs September 23 "Liberation Day." The Tercel is none the worse for wear.

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