TWENTY THREE ‑ THE MOUNTAINS

 

 

Moranne was outraged.

     "Why wasn't I informed?" he shouted at the captain, clapping his hands loudly as he summoned up control. "Why wasn't I called immediately?"

     "I figured you'd be here this morning, and I was right," the captain said cooly.

     After losing Gideon again at the college, the inspector had been riding a fine line of anger. He and his men were being toyed with by this hippie bastard, and Moranne's normal cool had been grated upon until it was raw.

     "Captain!" he lowered his voice only slightly, and it boomed through the small rangers' station, "this is a priority one matter, and the fate of possibly our entire nation hangs in the balance."

     "The entire nation?" the captain snickered and Moranne stepped closer, removed his glasses and glared at the older man.

     "Gideon Holley is a dangerous man, and he's shown it again and again." The inspector was slowly gaining control of his voice. "Now, he's somewhere in your fucking mountains with the top women's libber in the country and God only knows who else, and we need to find him."

     The captain nodded his head thoughtfully. "Sorry, Inspector," he said without a trace of sorrow, "but politics are your job, not mine."

     "I remind you again, Captain, that this is a matter of national security."

     "Bullshit. This Holley kid and his girlfriend ain't going nowhere but to the number six campgrounds, and that's even closer to here than where they were." The captain was at the end of his manners, and felt only contempt for this pinheaded pencil pusher.

     "Where is that, exactly?" Moranne's voice had become reptilian. The captain handed him a small map and pointed to an X that had been added with a blue pencil.

     "There, Inspector," he said. "Now, I suggest that you go chase that boy and girl and get 'em good. Maybe, if you hurry, you can catch one of 'em pissing on government property." The captain was surprised by his own temerity, but he was angry. He always considered himself a forest ranger, and that was enough. He had never thought of himself as a bounty hunter.

     Moranne's neck was red and the veins were bulging under his skin like mole tunnels. "You'll hear from me again!" The words exploded into the captain's calm face.

     "I hope so," the captain's eyebrows raised and lowered several times, "even if it's only a postcard." He strained to keep a straight face as he watched spittle form on Moranne's lower lip.

     'Thanks, Groucho," the captain said to himself. "I've wanted to use that line for so long.'

     Moranne stood for a full minute, huffing and puffing like a cartoon wolf, then turned and raced through the wood and glass door with Lobajeski and Colletti in tow. When the door slammed behind them, the inside of the rangers' station erupted with howls of laughter. Rangers fell to the floor and clutched their uniformed bellies, tears streaming down their cheeks. One ranger kept pointing to the captain, opening his mouth to speak but finding no words.

     The captain, with a slight smile, turned away from his men with a touch of his hat. He walked straight‑backed and dignified through the door to his office, closing it behind him. Outside, the laughter continued. His lieutenant tapped on the door and stepped inside, grinning.

     "I think you outdid yourself, Jim."

     "Maybe," the captain enjoyed the moment. "But this is probably going to cost me my job." He lit a cigarette and savored it, then grinned back at the lieutenant.

     "Shit, Jim, this is the stuff of legends."

     "Maybe," he answered his lieutenant.

     The captain was right, though. It cost him his job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY FOUR ‑ MUSIC

 

 

"I'm going to take a shower," Sarah said to Gideon. She had been staring at the two small buildings on the edge of the camp since they'd arrived. One bore a sign that said, RESTROOMS. The other called itself, SHOWERS.

     "I just can't stand it anymore." She pulled at her blouse.

     Gideon looked up from the cab of his van where he was attaching cables to a battery. ""Do you want something clean to wear when you get out?"

     "Please!" Sarah said. "Do you have anything that might fit?"

     "Oh," he said as he got to his feet, "I should be able to find something." He searched the drawers of a small dresser that was bolted to the wall beside the bed. He dug around, humming and tossing clothes onto the floor.

     "Aha!" Gideon held up a white, terry cloth robe. "Given to me by someone who thought every debonair gentleman should have one. Every time I put it on I feel like a tall, ugly waitress." He handed it to Sarah."

     "Thanks."

     "You know," he slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand, "I didn't even ask if you wanted to stay. I'm sure you have a car full of clothes and places to go."

     "As a matter of fact, I do," Sarah said, smiling. "But, don't you have another lecture coming up?"

     "Yeah," he whispered secretively, "but we heroes must have some time to ourselves, right?"

     "Right," she agreed. They grinned at each other like children fishing on a school day. Sarah draped the robe over her arm, but stayed where she was. She thought of all the notes, the phone calls she had to make. Everyone depended on her to always be there. She was the responsible one.

     "Gideon," she said, "I'd really like to stay."

     He hooked his thumbs into his belt like he'd seen the ranger do. "Well," he added to his normal drawl, "it's nice to have company every once in a while." Sarah laughed. Gideon rummaged again.

     "Here's a clean T‑shirt," he said, holding it up for inspection. She threw it on top of the robe. "I don't have any pants or shorts that'll fit you."

     "That's okay. I'll wash my clothes while I shower, and wear these until they dry."

     "Good idea." He handed Sarah a bar of soap, shampoo and a towel. She opened the back door of the van and shivered as the cold air swept in on her. Gideon laughed.

     "It'll be invigorating!" he said, pushing her out into the snow.

     After closing the door behind her, Gideon went to work hooking up a long extension cord to an outside socket. The other end had been passed through a weather‑proofed grommet in the underside of the van and was connected to a switchbox beside the bed. He inspected everything inside the van first, then wandered around outside, tugging at this and pushing at that. At last, satisfied, he went back inside and turned on the electric lights he had installed before leaving Minnesota.

     When he had turned all the lights on and off again, he stepped up to a cabinet that stood bolted to the wall behind the driver's seat. He opened a combination lock and threw back the doors, gazing with pride at the a.m.\f.m. stereo radio and record turntable inside. It had cost a good deal of his separation pay to buy these. Below, in tight rows, were neatly stacked albums.

     "Sweet music," Gideon said, running his fingers across the thin spines. He chose several albums and lay them on top of the radio, but kept one aside. He placed it carefully on the turntable and pushed a button on the amp, rejoicing as a tiny red light flashed on.

     "Yes!" he whispered theatrically, alone in the van. "It works!"

     He swung the delicate arm around and placed the needle on the record. After a few seconds his van was filled with the gentle sound of slow bluegrass. He sat on the edge of the bed and closed his eyes, letting the music touch him. Without warning a scream ripped through the silence outside, and he jumped to his feet, slamming his head on the metal roof of the van.

     "Sarah!" he shouted, racing out the door of the van and running comically across the snow. When he entered the door of the small, square building he heard Sarah shouting a variety of obscenities. He stopped still, watching her angry face above the wooden cafe doors of the shower stall. She turned, saw Gideon, and the fear in his eyes brought a surge of involuntary laughter to her lips.

     "Oh, Gideon," she said. "I'm sorry. But this son of a bitch!" Sarah started to lean back against the tiles, but thought better of it. "I had to put a dime in it to get hot water, and when I got my dime's worth the bastard shut off without even warning me." She reached one wet arm over the short door and grabbed her towel.

     Gideon started to laugh.

     "Not the cold water, mind you," she wiped the towel across her face and talked around it. "Just the hot." Her teeth were clicking together like castanet.

     "Just about the time I got lathered up, it quit." she was still fuming.

     "Must've been designed by a man," Gideon said.

     "Funny."

     "Want another dime?"

     Sarah came out of the stall dressed in the terry robe, her feet dancing on the cold cement floor. He held out a dime, grinning, and she popped him solidly on the leg with the wet towel.

     "Damn!" he yelled, joining her in her crazy dance. He held tight to his leg as he hopped in circles around her. Sarah slipped into her shoes and gathered her dripping clothes, but stopped short of the doorway. Gideon stepped up behind her just as he heard someone drive by. They peered out the doorless frame and watched a Winnebago motor home cruise slowly past. It started to turn into the number six entrance, then swerved back onto the access road at the last moment and continued out of sight around the ridge.

     "Good," Gideon said.

     They walked back to the van together, and when Gideon opened the door banjos and mandolins greeted them.

     "Music!" Sarah clapped her hands.

     "Hurray!" Gideon said.

 

 

Gideon took his turn in the shower, making sure to take plenty of change. On his return walk he watched Sarah moving inside, drifting past the little window. She was bathed in the soft, yellow light of his electric lamps and the excess light fell through the glass, spilling onto a patch of snow, lavender in the twilight.

     They ate a leisurely dinner and finished it off with a bottle of wine. Gideon had lifted it out of the ice chest like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. He put more record albums on the player then sat beside Sarah on the carpeted floor. They listened to the soft wail of country blues.

     As the last record dropped to the turntable, and Dolly Parton's voice began soaring above their heads like a sparrow, Gideon wrapped his arm around Sarah's waist and she rested her head lightly on his chest. Her hands drifted around him and met at the small of his back. They lay back on the floor, neither one wanting to do anything to break the spell of the quickening night.

     "Gideon ‑" she began, but he put a finger to her lips. She kissed it.

     "Shhh," he said. She became aware of the feel of his arm around her, his warmth and the smell of him. She closed her eyes, not knowing he had already done so. They drifted off to sleep as the record played on.

 

Gideon opened his eyes and saw Sarah lying on her side, facing away from him. The robe was pillowed under her head, and her thick, tousled hair poured down its sides. He raised himself up on an elbow and looked at her in the faint, orange‑blue glow of the gas heater. Shadows danced across the silky curve of her back and found new hollows with each breath she took. He reached out with the other hand and brushed a tangle of hair away from her neck, letting his fingers straddle her spine and ski slowly and smoothly down her back, barely touching her skin. They slid in and out of the valley of her lower back and up the sweep of her hip, where his fingers turned down, drawing two tiny white lines with his nails from her thigh to the shadows behind her knee.

     "I thought you were going to sleep forever," Sarah said, her voice muffled.

     Gideon's hand slipped around to her flat stomach and he pulled her back toward him, cupping her into his lap. He leaned down and kissed her neck.

     Sarah put her smaller hand over his and said, "I've been lonesome since the music stopped."

     "I'll put some on."

     "No," she said, separating herself from him. "I'll do it. I already have the records picked out."

     Sarah rose to her knees, pulled two records from their jackets and placed them on the machine. He saw the neat stack she had made of the records he had played earlier. The first record dropped onto the turntable and It's a Beautiful Day, began playing, White Bird. The song drowned out the sputtering cadence of the heater.

     Gideon stretched toward Sarah and caressed the easy curve of her calf, then let his hand glide over the tender rise of soft skin behind her knee. She swayed the slightest bit and his hand moved, slowly and confidently, dipping into the darkness between her thighs. He brought it up without hesitation to touch her, hot and damp as an approaching storm, then leaned farther toward her still, letting his lips brush her thigh. She turned her shoulders and reached down, her fingertips dancing nervously across his head then sliding into his hair to hold him.

     Sarah sat back on his hand and laughed. "I haven't looked forward to making love in a long time," she said, cradling his head in her hands. She bent to kiss him.

     "I'm barely average," Gideon said, "so don't get your hopes up."

     She laughed again. "You're already above average."

     He fell back slowly and she went with him, unfolding her legs as she stretched out. Her fingers traced his lips, his chin and the line of dark hair that formed an uneven trail down his chest, across his stomach to the towel. The fingers slipped under it, tugged until it opened, then found his erection and wrapped themselves around it.

     "They must think we're insane," Sarah whispered.

     "Who?"

     "All those people back at the college."

     "They died," Gideon said, spreading his hand out along her cheek. She stroked him and he shivered. "Everyone else in the world died this morning."

     "Everyone?"

     "Yes," he kissed her. "We're the only people left in the whole world. There's nothing but us."

     Sarah returned the kiss and pressed against him. "I want that."

     "You have it." Gideon rolled her over and when he settled lightly on her she removed her hand, put her arms around him and opened herself to him. "Tonight, we're all there is."

     "Yes." she said. "Just you and me."

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY FIVE ‑ BACK IN THE REAL WORLD

 

 

Sarah watched the mountains through the side mirror as Gideon drove slowly back to Flagstaff. Surrounded by noise, she refused to look outside when they reached the town. Each shout and each blowing horn was a more horrible obscenity than any she'd ever heard.

     "Is that your car?" Gideon asked. She said nothing.

     "Sarah?" he said, and she looked up at him with distant eyes. "Is that your car?"

     "What?" She glanced around the campus parking lot, seeing her rented white Chevelle. The iced windows hid stacks upon stacks of her clothing and books and papers.

     "Your car?"

     "Yes," she said flatly. Gideon stopped his van and got out, joining Sarah at the car. She unlocked the door and turned to face Gideon.

     "I'll see you in San Francisco," she said. Sarah wanted to shout at him, to make him take her back to the campgrounds with the music and the wine. For the first time since she'd taken the job she resented it.

     "Yeah," Gideon kissed her lightly, wanting to hang on forever. "Take care."

     They stood awkwardly for a few minutes as she rummaged for supplies in the car, then lost her keys. He waited patiently, standing with her until she had the engine running and the defroster erasing two days of accumulated ice. He leaned in, and kissed her again. Sarah looked up at him, but her eyes moved on, staring at something above him.

     "What in the world is that?" she asked, blinking her eyes. Gideon looked up to see a magpie flying in erratic circles above them.

     "Oh," he said, "that's just my bird."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY SIX ‑ CALIFORNIA

 

 

 

Excerpt from J. Hubbard's diary

 

I remember my third birthday like it was yesterday. I don't remember the second or the fourth or, for that matter, the one that just passed. I remember my third birthday because of a present my father gave me, smiling behind his hand as I tore open the wrappings. I learned all there is to know about life from that present.

     The present was a small metal box with beautiful paintings of white circus horses with braided tails flowing behind them. Wonderfully slim girls in pink tu‑tus stood on their backs. And that was only one side of this magic box. The other sides held funny monkeys and roaring lions and clapping seals. At three years old I could've been given the choice of picking either that box or the crown jewels, and I would've taken the box, hands down.

     On one side of the box, just above the head of one of the lions, was a small crank with a red wooden bead on the tip. "Turn the crank," my father said, rolling his hand in circles at his chest to show me how.

     I turned the crank and the most beautiful music I'd ever heard began flowing from inside the box. I was in heaven. My mind was filled with ecstasy as the music rolled over me, wave after wave until my face was less than an inch from the box.

     Suddenly, in a fraction of a second, the music stopped, I heard a loud pop, and a gruesome, horrible clown leapt out at me from a secret door in the top of the box, bouncing up and down before my frightened eyes. My little three year‑old heart pounded against my chest like the hand of God and I thought I was dead. All my loving relatives laughed...no...screamed with delight as I went limp and fell like a broken doll into my bowl of ice cream and cake.

     My mother said, "Look, Jubal, you've probably scarred him for life."

     "Naw," my father said, "He liked it. Didn't you J.?"

     Then my father told me the present was called a jack‑ in‑the‑box.

     California is a jack‑in‑the‑box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY SEVEN ‑ THE BOGEY MAN

 

 

Gideon became accustomed to using his driving time to put things together. Too much was happening for him to keep up with it all. Never before had he tried to get a handle on anything in his life. He'd always just let things happen.

     Fantasies turned his head at every exit along Highway 66. They wanted him to see the winding dirt roads that drifted off into the maze of mountains and desert that lined both sides of the highway. They hoped to make him turn onto one of these roads and leave politics behind, but he kept driving. Gideon thought of one thing only. He would see Sarah again when he got to San Francisco.

     Highway 66 is gone now, devoured by tax dollars. It was straightened, enlarged, its thousands of lethal potholes replaced by an endless man‑made river of smooth asphalt, and renamed Interstate 40. Route 66 is just a ghost of a highway that comes and goes alongside the big, black stretch of four-laned comfort.

     Now, to say Route 66 is to whisper a password out of the past, to test someone's knowledge of "the way things were."

     "Which road did you take coming into southern California?" someone might ask.

     "Interstate 40," the other might answer.

     "Oh," the first would say, losing interest. There would be no tales to tell one who didn't remember Route 66. It had a history that couldn't be buried under new blacktop. Not that it didn't need it.

     Route 66 was like an abused jigsaw puzzle, its pieces ripped out and thrown away by the tires of millions of migrating Americans. Heavy, long haul trucks that blasted frightfully through the black nights and made holes in the highway, leaving hidden, teeth‑rattling bumps. But the truckers couldn't be blamed. They were just hauling someone's breakfast, someone's appliances or auto parts or pesticides, maybe carrying the belongings of some of those migrating Americans.

     Gideon had missed an engagement in Phoenix, Arizona, because of his vacation in the mountains with Sarah. He stopped in Winslow and called the Radical Speakers Bureau in Washington D.C.  The call was free of charge, thanks to a famous movie star in Hollywood, California, who had donated his credit card number to the revolution.

     "Hello?" Laura Pitts, the secretary and switchboard operator at the bureau, answered the phone. She was twenty years old and stood five feet and two inches tall. She had short brown hair and a wide, ornamented face. She was very dedicated. Gideon told her he'd had some problems in Flagstaff.

     "Yeah, we heard," Laura said. "Right on!"

     "What?"

     "Flagstaff's already begging to have you back," she said. Gideon couldn't believe his ears.

     "Well," he said, distracted, "Reschedule me in Phoenix, and I'll catch them on my way back."

     "You bet!" she said. "They've already called, hoping you'd give them another chance."

     "Another chance?" It slipped out.

     "Well, yeah! Everybody's been calling the bureau asking when they can have you speak at their college. We've had hundreds of calls since you signed on with us, and we're getting more every day," her voice echoed her pride. "You're quite a celebrity, Gideon."

     "I'll be damned," he said.

     "But, Gideon," Laura said quickly, hoping she hadn't offended him, "if anyone deserves it, you do."

     "What?"

     "Knock 'em dead," she said, then hung up. It took Gideon a moment to realize that she'd been serious. He left the phone booth and walked back to the van, thinking of what Sarah had told him the night before.

     "You know," she'd said to him, her eyes glowing in the reflected light of the space heater, "I've been to radical organizations all over the country, and they all have two things in common."

     "What's that?" Gideon asked.

     "They all want to fight for racial and sexual equality, and they all have white men as presidents and leaders. Women are still secretaries."

     Gideon looked at Winslow, Arizona without seeing it, then climbed into his van and drove west.

 

 

WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA, said the sign. It stood on a rail in the exact center of a bridge spanning the Colorado River.

     "California!" Gideon shouted to his van.

     California was a legend to the people Gideon had grown up with. It was a carnival of delights. It was the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, Merle Haggard and the Grapes of Wrath and free sex and surfing and tiny bikinis. Gideon had been told of long haired freaks walking down the sidewalk in San Francisco, busily smoking a joint as they strolled. The police, he was told, just smiled and waved. Nobody cared.

     By the time Gideon had driven 25 miles into the state, he'd had his vegetables confiscated at an inspection station and had been stopped twice for license and vehicle safety checks by the California Highway Patrol. The second patrolman recognized him.

     "Gideon Holley," the cop glanced from the driver's license to Gideon, over to his partner, then back again. He stood without moving, and Gideon saw his name being formed silently on the officer's lips. The man's eyes narrowed.

     "Well, isn't this interesting?" he said, smiling without humor. The palm of his hand caressed the pistol butt resting in the holster on his Sam Browne belt. He wasn't planning to shoot Gideon; he just wanted to make sure Gideon didn't give a thought to shooting him.

     The patrolman's name was Ben Martinez. He was thirty-three years old and planned to stay alive until he was much older. He stood six feet and one inch tall and his uniform showcased his strong physique. He had spent his life in Barstow, California. So had his wife. His four children had been born there, and he would raise and guide them personally until he was given grandchildren to hug him and listen to his stories.

     Ben Martinez had read enough about Gideon Holley in his reports to know how ruthless he was. A little intimidation, Officer Martinez thought, might do him some good.

     "You're that revolutionary, aren't you?" Martinez thumbed the plastic-coated license, making it snap loudly. A Winnebago motor home passed slowly and a blue suited man stared out at them from the air‑conditioned interior.

     "Fucking tourists," Ben said to himself. He slipped the license into his clipboard and leaned against the hood of his patrol car. "You're probably going to tell all your fag buddies about the damned pig that stopped you, huh?" he said.

     Gideon eyed him warily. If he laughed or joked, the trooper would be insulted. If he smarted off, which he had no intention of doing, it might be what the man was waiting for. He guessed the trooper was testing him, not threatening him, so he kept silent.

     "Hey, Gill," the man shouted back to his partner. "You know what we got here?"

     "A hippie, I think."

     "No, man. This is no hippie. This is Gideon Holley."

     "Oh, yeah?" the other man's voice rose with interest. "Watch out he don't hurt you, Ben."

     "What's the matter, boy?" Martinez said, noticing Gideon's discomfort. "I thought you were a real bad ass."

     Gideon stood straight, his legs sore from the long drive. He still had many miles to go, and he was tired. It scared him to think that all the cops in the country would probably like to have him in this position.

     He was the Bogey Man.

     Trooper Martinez removed his sunglasses and leaned closer to Gideon, squinting his eyes against the harsh desert sun. He opened his mouth to speak, but the radio inside his patrol car began barking out a scrambled message Gideon couldn't understand.

     "That's us," the second patrolman said.

     "Shit," Martinez said. His partner, who had been standing motionless on the passenger side of the patrol car throughout the episode, nodded to Martinez and leaned into the open door. He lifted the microphone and Gideon listened to his equally foreign reply.

     "Ten twenty-two, ten fifty," the voice boomed again, "When you ten ninety eight, we have a ten forty three."

     "Now, buddy," the second cop leaned on his door anxiously. "It sounds important."

     "Yeah," Martinez mumbled, unclipping Gideon's license and thrusting it at him, "so was this."

     Gideon took the license and slipped it into his wallet.

     "You better watch yourself in this state, hoss," Ben Martinez said to Gideon. "You try anything here, and you're dead."

     The two troopers climbed into the patrol car and slammed their doors. Martinez put it in gear and drove away in a cloud of dust, his hands gripped tight to the wheel. He'd wanted just a few more minutes with Gideon. It didn't seem fair to be pulled away so soon.

     He discovered, to his anger, that he'd been called away by a direct order from his watch officer. The officer had been instructed to call him off by a special inspector from Washington D.C. named Moranne. Moranne had made it clear that Gideon Holley was his and nobody else’s. The California Highway Patrol agreed to co‑operate fully.

     "Welcome to California," Gideon said as he climbed back into the van.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY EIGHT ‑ SAN JOSE

 

 

Gideon spent two days at an anti‑war conference in Santa Barbara. It was the fourth of five conferences in a row he was scheduled to attend. He had worked his way up the coast, and it seemed to him that his growing knowledge of lecturing was keeping problems to a minimum. Sarah Ash had given him a crash course on the secrets of public speaking their second morning together.

     This was an easy-going conference with no more than the typical scene he'd been through several times, and he was pleased at how well it was going.

     He drove into San Jose the morning of his fifth day in California. He was there because of a Radical Organizers Conference to be held in the San Jose State College gymnasium. The town was filled with colorfully dressed people. Signs and banners everywhere announced: KRISHNA INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD CONFERENCE.

     Gideon had never seen Hare Krishnas before, and was impressed. The crowded sidewalks he passed looked to him like a de Sade version of boot camp. Starry‑eyed young men with shaved heads and young women with conservatively barreted hair danced in loose, non‑rhythmic circles. They wore peach colored wraps and played tambourines and wood blocks, chanting happily as they swayed. They waved at Gideon, and he waved back. They were everywhere.

     The conference for the radical organizers and the Krishna International Brotherhood weren't the only ones in San Jose that week. There were two more: The One-Way Fellowship in Christ Conference and a workshop on dome building, presented by Buckminster Fuller.

     I met Gideon at the student union just after he arrived, and we had lunch together. He said he was glad to see me. He didn't remember my name, but referred to me as "the good old boy from back home." Over stale sandwiches and Coke he told me what he'd been doing and I told him of my adventures. Mine didn't take very long. He'd just begun telling me about his plans to buy his uncle's farm in Crawfordville, Florida, when three young people walked up to our table.

     "Gideon Holley," a tall, blond young man with a long, thick beard and longer pony tail pushed a hand into Gideon's. "I'm Larry Fillmore, from the organizers conference.

     "This is Angela Thackery," Larry Fillmore said, nodding toward a broad shouldered young woman with short, curly black hair and wide‑rimmed glasses. "She's a staff writer for the Movement Newsletter of San Jose State."

     "Hello, Angela," Gideon said, rising to his feet. I followed suit, not one to be out‑mannered by another Southerner. She stared at him, though, not me.

     "Gideon," she smiled.

     Larry Fillmore introduced the third member of his party as Stuart Mosely of the Weathermen. "Stuart's going to teach the organizers how to handle a violent confrontation."

     We didn't know it at the time, but he planned to teach everyone in San Jose how to deal with violence. His secret plan was to plant a powerful bomb in the civic auditorium, set to go off during the Krishna conference.

     His message would be, 'Quit wasting your time waiting for a god to help you. Go out and help yourselves’. Stuart was very proud of this message. He thought it would get people's minds back on the revolution.

     Unfortunately for Stuart Mosely, his plan would instead give many people a sudden interest in religion and brotherhood. It would also cost him his life.

     Gideon shook hands with Stuart, put a hand casually on his shoulder and turned him away from the table. He waved back at me.

     "See you later, old buddy," he said, walking away with the three radicals. I finished my Coke and found my way to the Dome Builders Workshop to hear Buckminster Fuller, and Gideon went away with two young radicals and a mad bomber who would soon be dead. It was his destiny.

     I would see Gideon again a short time later near Mount Shasta National Park.

 

 

The Radical Organizers Conference was an event that brought together leaders of the various branches of 'the Movement.' There were representatives from the SDS, the Weathermen, the Black Panther Party and the War Resister's League. Members of the Radical Students Association, the National Students Association and the Women's Rights Caucus were present. Campus organizations like Students in Defense of the Third World and the NYU Anti‑War Council sent members to the conference.

     Gideon remembered what Sarah had told him. People involved in radical politics talk like code scrambling machines. Splinter groups across the country numbered into the thousands, and each had a name too long to be used in casual conversation. Because of this, the names were reduced to acronyms. If a person outside the realm of these political circles were to eavesdrop upon a conversation between two radicals, the person would be lost.

     "I heard from PROP and SCORE while I was at the CVRS office today," one might say to another. "They said that PLEA and the RSA were thinking of merging with the LMRP during the REC crisis."

     "That's odd," the other might say, "I thought AMFEW and the SPO were going to do that."

     Gideon found that by sticking three or four single letters together he could hold his own with anyone there. No one could possibly know all the acronyms and other combinations, so he thought it was a safe bet that no one would call him on it.

     With that taken care of, Sarah's First Law of Dynamic Leadership proved true: "What you know isn't as important as who sent you. What you say isn't as important as who you are."

     "That's all there is to it," she'd said. "That's the secret to this business. Your role is that of a catalyst. You only have to show up, and wander around with a look of worried concern. If you do that, indecisive groups and factioned parties will pull themselves together and you'll get the praise for doing it."

     "You're kidding."

     "Wait and see," she'd said, and she had been right.

     Gideon spent the afternoon at the conference and was the star of the show. Everyone admired him. All the leaders envied his position, but respected what they saw as his ruthless climb to get there. He was attending the conference that day, however, in body only. His mind was thirty miles away in San Francisco where he would see Sarah again in only two days. He knew also that Carmen was there now, working for the Mobilization Switchboard. He excused himself at four o'clock in the afternoon, telling the others that, because of other commitments, he wouldn't be back for the next day's conference. They understood. He found Larry Fillmore and traded secret handshakes with him.

     "Power to the people," Larry said. "I know Stuart would like to say goodbye, but I haven't seen him for over an hour.

     He hadn't seen Stuart because Stuart wasn't there. He was in the Civic Auditorium, making plans to blow up a few hundred Hare Krishnas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY NINE ‑ A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE

 

 

Stuart Mosely stood in a small prop room on the left side of the stage. It was separated from the main hall of the auditorium by a wooden door. The brass lock on the door had been picked, and a piece of masking tape covered the tongue of the lock so it wouldn't shut and lock him in. He was wearing a peach colored wrap and sandals. A bald skullcap was folded into his back pocket and a tambourine hung on the limb of a papier mache' tree behind him. He planned, after setting the bomb, to tuck his long, reddish‑blond hair under the skullcap. Then, with tambourine in hand, he would slip out the door and dance his way unnoticed out of the auditorium. He smiled as he worked.

     Just on the other side of the wooden door Stuart could hear the shuffling of many feet and the drone of lowered voices. The auditorium was filling up. Thousands of identically dressed human beings moved into the building, faces blank with ecstasy as they felt the warmth of not being alone. They were young people with a purpose and, united, they had enough love to share with the whole world.

     Bald heads shone under the bright auditorium lights and sandled feet began dancing to a universal beat. A beat of rapture. Tambourines clashed a ching‑chinging cadence as thousands of voices began to chant. They were waiting for their leader. He had brought them together to give them a message. That's what they had been told, and each and every one in the great hall would've honestly and innocently been shocked if anyone among them doubted he would truly come. The only thing on their ecstatic minds was the question of what the message would be.

 

 

Gideon put the van in gear and drove slowly through the crowded parking lot. As he reached the exit, he passed a Winnebago motor home that sat idling at the edge of the lot. It had a small dent in the left front fender. Deep inside his mind Gideon felt something stir, then fade away. He brushed it aside.

 

 

Stuart Mosely pulled a small alarm clock from his leather sachel and carefully removed the glass face, listening to the chanting Krishnas just outside the door.

 

 

Thousands of young human beings in identical peach‑colored wraps swayed like stalks of wheat under a morning wind. Their chants rose in volume as they awaited their leader. He was going to tell them what to do. He had a message for them.

 

 

Three blocks away from the Civic Auditorium another group session was in full swing. The One-Way Fellowship in Christ Council had just entered into a discussion of the anti‑Christ. Many of the Christians believed the Hare Krishna were the servants of the anti‑Christ, unknowing pawns of the Lord of Darkness ‑ Ba'al, Be'elzebub, Satan. God's Professor Moriarity.

     These elements of the One-Way Fellowship in Christ Council soon convinced the others of the dangers the Christian world faced with the cunning arrival of Satan. In less than an hour the entire council made and passed a decision to march as a group to the Civic Auditorium. They were going to confront the Krishnas with God's Word and, if the Lord saw fit in His Infinite Wisdom, they would make the Krishnas see the error of their ways. They weren't just destined. They were inspired.

 

 

Stuart Mosely unwrapped a cotton lined bag and withdrew two small detonators. He cautiously unrolled their tiny wires.

 

 

Gideon turned onto the paved highway and maneuvered his van into the outside lane. He looked into the rearview mirror but didn't see the Winnebago anywhere. He didn't really know why he'd expected to see it. It was only a feeling.

 

 

The Krishnas heard a faint song roll in through the open side doors of the auditorium, causing a slight discord in their chants. It was far a far‑away sound, but it was building in volume and intensity. Each new, muddled verse was stronger.

     The Krishnas chanted louder, but the song would not go away. It pushed its way uninvited through the doors and lingered with them, and they felt fear. Finally, the words of the song became clear, and the Krishnas were more confused than afraid. The song was Onward Christian Soldiers.

 

 

Stuart Mosely used a pair of small needle‑nosed pliers to twist the wires, his mind shutting out the confusion outside as he concentrated on his delicate business. A box at his right contained fifteen sticks of dynamite and a small storage battery. He remembered the words a girl had said to him that morning when she handed him a folded, off‑white bundle of fabric.

     "Use this today, Stu ‑ okay?" Her eyes shone behind wide‑rimmed glasses. "For me?"

     "What is it?"

     "An asbestos robe," she said. "Tommy said it's a good safety shield against the caps. It's kinda' bulky, but you can carry it out in your bag and no one will notice."

     Her tone said, 'take it,' so he did.

     Now, thinking it over, he decided it wasn't such a bad idea. Tommy the Traveler had taught him how to make bombs, but had moved on before Stuart had actually tried to do it. Now, listening to the blood pounding in his temples and wiping the sweat from his palms, he wanted that extra edge. He reached into the satchel and removed the folded robe. It was a long, white, asbestos garment, more like a poncho than a robe. It reached to his ankles.

     "Overkill," he muttered, but he put it on. It was heavy and uncomfortable. But it was comforting. He turned back to the explosives.

 

 

Moranne pulled into the mainstream of traffic. He was driving a blue Dodge Polara he had rented earlier in the day. He kept in sight of Gideon, and stayed in radio contact with the Winnebago that followed a half‑mile behind. His eyes never left Gideon's van as it weaved in and out of the moderately heavy afternoon traffic, and with a great deal of skill, he managed to stay not more than four car lengths behind it.

 

 

The One-Way Fellowship in Christ Council marched and sang their way into the Civic Auditorium. Their banners were red crosses on a field of white. Don Spivey, the president of the Council, put a megaphone to his lips and began shouting across the almost pink sea of Krishnas.

     "Jesus Christ is our Savior!" he said. "You are being used as pawns for the anti‑Christ!"

     "What the hell are you doing here?" an angry voice came back at him through the crowd. Don's Christian soldiers held their ground as the ocean of Krishnas swept toward them.

     "Please!" Don Spivey pleaded. "We've only come to warn you of the evils of your leader, the anti‑Christ!"

     "Fuck you and your anti‑Christ!" an excited Krishna shouted back. "Get out of our conference!"

     "No!" Don roared at them through the bull horn, greatly relieved to hear the rest of the OOFinC join in. "We have been sent by our Lord to show you the One Way!"

     Don held a fist over his head and pointed his index finger toward the ceiling.

     "Well, here's another way!" A bald young Krishna thrust his own fist toward the Christians and extended the middle finger. "Now get the fuck out of here!"

     The two groups were face to face. At that moment, something unusual happened.

 

 

Stuart Mosely wrapped electrical tape around the minute and hour hands of the alarm clock, insulating them. He twisted the bare ends of the wires around the taped hands, one on each. He set the hands of the clock at a quarter to twelve, then wound the clock. That gave him fifteen minutes to get out of the building before the hands touched.

     He placed the clock, battery, caps and explosives gently down beside the papier mache tree, then picked up the tambourine. The chants were becoming angry shouts and he glanced at the door as he backed up. He didn't notice how the wide sleeve of the robe caught on the minute hand of the clock, and was only vaguely aware of the pressure as the sleeve pulled the two hands together.

     The explosion was deafening.

     The door splintered into a million pieces as it flew outward. A round, jagged hole appeared in the wall to the right of the stage, and the explosion set off a sprinkler system in the ceiling of the auditorium. A thick mist filled the interior of the giant room and mixed with the dust around the jagged hole. Mist and dust combined, reflecting under the bright, swaying spotlights to create a beautiful rainbow around the hole. It looked like a giant halo.

     Out of this shimmering hole stepped Stuart Mosely, his long, golden hair in disarray as it fell across the gleaming white robe. His sandals scraped over the debris covered floor as mere reflexes carried his dying body into the room.

     The explosion and its concussion rattled the crowd. People stood immobile, hands hanging at their sides. They stared at Stuart in absolute awe.

     "Dear God!" Don Spivey cried into the bull horn. Urine trickled unnoticed down his leg. "It's the Lord Jesus!"

     "Jesus has returned!" another said, then fainted.

     Don Spivey wasn't the only person, Christian and Krishna, who peed in his or her pants, skirt or wrap that day. The smell of urine was strong in the room as people gawked at the emerging Christ. Spivey's amplified cry had stunned the room. The old Baptist, Methodist and Catholic teachings that had stayed dormant in the young American Krishnas' brains since they had abandoned them years ago came to the surface. Fear was welling up inside every person in the auditorium. None, not even the most devout Christian among them, was prepared for Judgement Day.

     Stuart Mosely shuffled his way toward a young Krishna girl who stood closest to him. Her nose was bleeding from the concussion. There were a dozen or more grotesquely twisted bodies strewn on the floor around them. More writhed silently beyond these, but neither Stuart nor the girl noticed.

     Stuart touched the petrified girl with a hand that resembled spoiled hamburger. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was open. She couldn't make her thin body turn and run. She could only stand and scream noiselessly.

     "Mama?" Stuart said. The word faltered as it dodged a flow of red, bubbly blood that shot from his mouth like a fountain. The girl fell under him as he collapsed against her, and they reached the hard floor together. She vomited on the white robe.

     "Jesus!" Don Spivey ran to his fallen savior. "Oh, Jesus!" He dropped to his knees beside Stuart and discovered he was dead. Don began screaming like a siren. Pandemonium spread through the crowd and they ran blindly toward the doors, trampling those who fell.

     "We've killed Jesus!" they cried.

     "We've killed Jesus! Forgive us!"

 

 

Gideon felt the concussion as he turned the van onto the boulevard that ran past the Civic Auditorium. He was several blocks away. His eyes flicked toward the clear sky in a reflex action, watching for a jet plane and seeing none. He was startled when the black magpie flew across his field of vision, almost colliding with the van's windshield.

     "Watch out, damn it!" he yelled at the bird, but it was gone. As Gideon passed the auditorium he saw a frantic stampede of young people rip through the doors. They ran madly into the street behind him.

 

 

Moranne watched the human wall forming between his car and Gideon's departing van. He screeched at the babbling crowd that milled around his car like sheep. He showed his badge and waved his Smith and Wesson .38 caliber pistol out the window, passing it under their noses like smelling salts. They didn't even notice. He tried pushing them out of the way with his front bumper, but they simply fell like match sticks in front of him.

     "God damn it!" a trickle of saliva glistened on his chin as he slammed the gear shift into park and scratched at the door. "Goddamngoddamngoddamn!"

     Something unusual also happened inside Inspector Moranne's brain that day. When his two assistants reached the scene they found him running through the crowd, his coat torn and his eyes glassy. He was pistol whipping every face he came near. The pistol was covered with blood.

     They dragged him to the motor home, and held him there.

 

 

Be the first to respond!

Leave a comment:

  •  

Mud Music

Like us on Face Book

Facebook -- http://facebook.com/Luckymudmusic

Be A Mud Puppy

Get The Latest News

Upcoming Shows

  • Nov 17
    Americana Cafe Sundays at Maggies Musical Farm,  Youngstown
     
  • Nov 24
    Americana Cafe Sundays at Maggies Musical Farm,  Youngstown
     
  • Dec 1
    Americana Cafe Sundays at Maggies Musical Farm,  Youngstown
     
  • Dec 8
    Americana Cafe Sundays at Maggies Musical Farm,  Youngstown
     
  • Dec 15
    Americana Cafe Sundays at Maggies Musical Farm,  Youngstown
     

Book Lucky Mud

Maggie@Luckymudmusic.com