A long time ago in a
Galaxy Falcon far, far away
Cue Star Wars theme music.
A dark summer night in Cleveland Heights. The Millennium Falcon (played by a 1963 Ford Falcon) careens over curbs and across tree lawns in a residential neighborhood. Hot in pursuit is a TIE fighter (played by a shitbox Plymouth Fury with bad suspension).
At the controls of the Falcon is Luke Skywalker (played by yours truly, a dead ringer for Gregg Allman). In the passenger seat sits his damsel in distress, Princess Leia (played by an underage female of African-American descent). She looks out the rear window of the Falcon, anxiously watching the pursuing TIE fighter. The Plymouth was occupied by three young punks, pimp wannabes.
It all started in Cain Park, as did many of my misadventures in those days – the early ’80s. Cain Park was my personal Bermuda Triangle. I couldn’t set foot in the place without getting into trouble. That summer night was no exception.
I was walking through the park when the young woman ran up to me, pleading for help. I heard approaching footsteps. She bolted into the night, pursued by three male teens.
I was no Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it was clear that I was her only hope.
I sprung into action, sprinting to my apartment building two blocks away. I fired up my trusty Falcon — with its 170 cubic inches of raw firepower — and sputtered off into the night.
As luck would have it, I spotted her running across a side street near the park, her pursuers hot on her heels. I drove at them, horn blaring. They scattered long enough for me to stop, throw open the passenger door and yell for her to get in. She did and I sped away.
In the rear-view mirror I watched her pursuers gather themselves from the pavement and run to the Plymouth, which had been parked outside a convenience store. The chase was on.
The Plymouth — most likely powered by a V-8 — had more horsepower than my inline 6-cylinder engine. However, I’d recently replaced the rear springs in the Falcon and it was riding pretty high compared to the Plymouth, with its sagging suspension. I realized the only way to put distance between us would be to go up over curbs and other obstacles. which the Falcon could clear and they couldn’t.
I wended my way down to the Cleveland Heights police station and pulled into the lot, horn blaring. They pulled in after me, realized where I had led them and beat a hasty retreat into the night.
My damsel in distress explained that her malefactors were boys from her East Cleveland neighborhood, bent on getting her to turn tricks for them.
I drove her straight to a domestic violence shelter and explained the situation. They took her in.
When I got off work the next day, I drove to the shelter to see how she was doing. A woman at the shelter told me the girl had checked out and called someone to pick her up — a bunch of guys in a beat-up Plymouth.
’63 Falcon – NOT to be confused with my Millennium Falcon, which was black and had air in the tires.