Mike's sterling piece did affect me profoundly. It may well be the finest single passage we've seen from his ardent pen. Good Lord, how the guy can write! And the heart-stopping truth is, you know it's real -- it's not the rhetoric! It's the feeling finding its exact signs! This guy has greatness that only peeped out in the novel."

I really didn't think this through.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael I began to wonder about all our songs unrecorded and my other novels unpublished.

My intention was to release Gideon 1969 with Books on Demand in paperback. Something we could put on the merch table at our concerts.

Then I started adding chapters here on our website and people began asking what happened next.

So here's the book - all the way to the end.

I hope you enjoy it, and let me know.

Mike

Long before A Thousand Bridges was published in hardcover by Walker Books NYC, I wrote a novel about The Revolution in America during the Vietnam war.

     I started writing it in 1970 while hitchhiking home from the National Students Association National Conference at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I had been a field representative for the NSA traveling and speaking on educational reform at most major colleges in the West.

     I had been, earlier that day, kicked out of The Revolution by a panel of NSA leaders after helping create a guerilla theater-style event to give those leaders a chance to see what it was like 'on the streets and campuses' instead of in their headquarters in Washington D.C.

     They were not happy with us. One panelist said, "Using guerilla theater was a good idea but you should've informed us first."

     Then they wouldn't have looked so bad.

     So, hitchhiking down from Minnesota to Florida with my guitar and backpack, I began creating this novel. I've title it Gideon 1969.

     Fifty years ago.

     I finished writing this novel in 1972 and have decided not to revise it anymore than updating some dates in the preface. It's a madness I still remember and may not translate over time.

     I'll be publishing it a couple of chapters at a time.

     I hope you enjoy it and I'll use your input to decide whether to continue.

     50 years is a long time. I'm getting old and impatient.

Thanks,

     Michael McKinney

GIDEON 1969

 

 

Dedicated to the students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Rise up, children, rise up.

 

“Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue's responsibility until it engulfs his pupils' lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education--and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries.”

— Ivan Illich

 

    Ivan Illich published his Deschooling Society in 1971. I had met him a year earlier in St. Paul Minnesota.

     My friend Bert and I were sitting in a steady light rain at our table outside the ELF bus on the Macalester College campus. It was August, 1970, and we had just been kicked out of ‘The Revolution’ by a panel of leaders from the National Students Association (still stinging from its recent exposure as a CIA front until 1967).

     We had been kicked out of The Revolution for fomenting a guerilla act at the NSA Plenary Session the night before, mixing members of the ELF bus with some of the Merry Pranksters, a group associated with Ken Kesey. I had met Kesey earlier in May of that year at the very first Earth Day in Eugene, Oregon.

     Those of us who had been on the road, on campuses and in college towns such as Berkeley, California, during that tumultuous Spring had had our fill of rioting, of tear gas and clubbings and watching protesters being beaten down by waves of police officers on horses and on foot.

     The leaders of the NSA, as are most of the ‘leaders’ of the world, were from the ‘upper crust’ - notoriously well-tended in their world of education and politics and had never been ‘on the streets’. So, we decided to show them what that felt like to those of us who’d been immersed in it.

     At the NSA Plenary Session at Macalester College, where hundreds of young students sat at tables festooned with state names and placards, the leadership was shouting their ‘Get out in the streets and kill a pig’ rhetoric, though they had no idea what changes adrenalin and violence made in human behavior. A handful of us had worked out a short program on street violence and played it out at that Plenary Session.

     One of our members had gone to a local thrift store earlier in the day and bought a blue suit, white shirt and tie. He began our skit by commandeering a microphone from one of the tables, where he began shouting Right-Wing babble at the podium. Within seconds the leaders began shouting back. The hundreds of students rose to their feet in outrage. They shook their fists and screamed at him. At that moment two more members of our little troupe ran up and tackled him, pulling him to the floor for his safety.

     Then, another of our people turned off all the lights in the auditorium, where another manned the single spotlight from above and began scanning the room with its bright light. The rest of us ran through the room pointing fingers and saying (never shouting) “Bang.”

     In less than five minutes there was absolute pandemonium in the auditorium with students running from the room, hiding under tables and getting into fights with other students. At that point we turned the lights back on and left the room.

     A Mister Sunshine Cartoon had been playing along a side wall during the event.

     The next morning we were called into the office of NSA leadership where we were reprimanded and kicked out of the NSA and the ‘Movement’. It didn’t help that they also discovered that, though they’d hired me the year before at the University of New Mexico campus to join the road team on the ELF bus, they’d never asked which college I’d attended. When I told them that morning that I barely made it out of high school and went from there straight into boot camp in 1966 they were horrified.

     So, in the light rain of the pre-dawn August morning at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bert and I sat at our table with stacks of ELF pamphlets and fliers lying in pools of water while we worked our way through a big bottle of cheap wine and contemplated our next move. We watched a stork of a man walk toward us in a drooping pinstripe suit at least one size larger than his frame. He carried a very old suitcase bound with a single leather strap and he was soaked to the skin. We asked if he’d like a drink of wine and he nodded, sat beside us and said, in a very thick Eastern European accent, “Have you seen a taxi?

     We said no and he shook his head, placed the suitcase on the wet sidewalk and helped us finish the bottle while he waited. Then he introduced himself as Ivan Illich, and said he’d been brought to the convention to present his radical discourse on modern education. He waved back toward the college and said, “Those people are crazy. They didn’t listen to a single thing I said. They only wanted to talk, not listen.”

     His taxi arrived and a very wet Ivan Illich stood, shook hands with us and invited us to come to his villa in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

     “Leave this,” he said. “Come stay with me in Cuernavaca!” Then he walked away. And that was the best advice we’d received in a long time.

     I began writing Gideon that same day as I hitchhiked back down to Florida. It was a stormy day in late August, 1970.

 

 

 

 GIDEON

 

 

 

     I talk a lot. I’m always telling crazy stories that no one believes. When I tell people I knew Gideon Holley, they smile. Everyone my age claims they knew him. It’s a little like Woodstock ‑ we were all there.

     Every year since 1969, a new story emerges about Gideon Holley and his two friends. Someone spots them in the Himalayas one year, the next they're seen on a sailboat in the South Seas, somewhere near Pago Pago. This year, for the Fiftieth Anniversary of that fateful year, Time and Newsweek both ran stories about Gideon, Sarah Ash and J. Hubbard. According to the article, the three fugitives sent a letter offering to give themselves up in return for leniency. I guess, now they’ve passed retirement age, they’re probably the last holdouts.

     In the year 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ran a series of thoughtful articles titled, Looking Back at the Sixties. Writer Nat Hentoff wrote in one installment, The two greatest counterculture hoaxes of the Sixties were 1) That Paul McCartney was dead and 2) That Gideon Holley was still alive.

 

     I spent four years wandering aimlessly through the late Sixties and early Seventies, creating problems then guiltlessly running away from them. I met Gideon Holley during that time. I was destined to run into Gideon more than once in 1969. I love that word. Destiny. It lets me believe I had no choice.

     The last time I saw Gideon was on a cold December night at a state park in Northern California. He had just escaped from a hospital in San Francisco where he’d been kept after almost dying in a shootout. I had tried to visit him there, but couldn’t get past the floor nurse or the cop at the door. The nurse was there to keep him from dying, and the cop was there to keep him from getting away.

     Gideon was hot property in San Francisco.

 

     Our meeting in the state park wasn’t planned. As strange as it seems, it’s not uncommon to run into someone you know time and again on the road. Ask anyone who’s done a lot of traveling. You may leave a friend in Macon, Georgia, only to meet him or her again on a tiny mountain road in Tonasket, Washington. You’ll say goodbye again in Washington and see that same person three months later at a farmer’s market in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I don’t understand it, but that’s the way it is.

     As Gideon shared my campfire and my food that night in the state park, he introduced me to his friends, Sarah Ash and J. Hubbard. They had, just hours before, helped Gideon escape from the hospital, and all three were exhausted. Gideon’s arm was in a cast because of a bullet wound, and he looked ill. They sat around the fire and talked for hours as I poured soup and listened. I’ve based a lot of this book on those conversations. I’ve taken a great deal of liberty in expanding the things they told me.

     “I met you a couple of weeks ago,” I said to Sarah Ash there at my campfire. I doubted she would remember. It was a minor conversation, and she had been tired but polite when I’d asked if Gideon would be okay.

     “Oh, yes,” she said, her voice raspy in the cold air. “You came to the hospital. I remember you. You wanted to know about Gideon. You asked if there was anything you could do.”

     “Yes, that was me.” I felt important.

     Actually, I had seen her once before, at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. That moment in St. Paul was also the first time I met Gideon Holley, though he and Sarah weren’t together then.

     I’d stopped Gideon in a crowd to ask where I might get a co‑cola. He’d laughed.

     “Boy, I haven’t heard that in a long time,” he said to me. “You aren’t from around here, are you?”

     “No,” I’d said. “I’m from Florida.”

     “What part?” We discovered we were both from Florida, though from different parts of the state. There, we called every soft drink a co‑cola.

     I admit, I wasn’t very impressed with Gideon at the time. Of course, it could’ve been because he was with a beautiful girl who seemed very attached to him and I had a cheap guitar in a cheap case in my left hand and a worn‑out backpack in my right. I was wearing a clean shirt I had only moments before unrolled from my pack. Its wrinkles made it look like a relief map of the Rocky Mountains. The beautiful girl hanging onto Gideon’s arm only looked at me once. Her name was Carmen Woolsey. She didn’t seem very impressed with me, either.

 

Carmen Woolsey had taken Gideon to the Macalester Gym that day to watch a leading political speaker named Bob Rome give a speech on revolution. Sarah Ash was the opening act. She had been sent to speak at Macalester College by the Radical Speakers Bureau. The RSB was headquartered in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks away from the office of Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States.

     Sarah Ash stood five feet and seven inches tall. She had light, auburn hair that fell beneath her shoulder blades and floated in the slightest breeze like cornsilk. Her eyes were deep blue, the color of the clear, Caribbean Sea. Those eyes could go from bright to cloudy in seconds under fire. Sarah Ash was one of the few people in The Movement who could talk about social revolution as a long‑range plan. She could talk civil rights without getting lost in semantics and argue women’s rights without anger or apology.

 

     I was at Macalester College that day listening to a special program of political speeches because I had a ride promised me later that evening and I didn’t have money for a movie.

     Destiny.

     Sarah Ash was the opening speaker, and her cool logic was ignored by a crowd of wired‑up revolutionaries eager to hear Bob Rome, the celebrity from New York City. A pudgy man with a magnificent voice, Rome fired volley after volley of self‑righteous dogma at the students until they were on their feet, cheering. To be honest, so was I, though I don’t know why.

     One thing he said that has always stuck with me was, “Our place is not to ask why a Revolution, ours is to create a Revolution!” He really said that, honest‑to‑God‑cross‑my‑heart. Ours is not to reason why, from the radical left. I was there, sitting two rows behind Gideon Holley and Carmen Woolsey, though Gideon’s seat was empty. I may have been the only one in the whole screaming mob to see Sarah Ash stand and walk, head down, from the stage.

 

     When I talked to Sarah Ash at the hospital in San Francisco after Gideon had been wounded in the shootout, she looked even more defeated than she had looked that day she walked off the stage at Macalester College.

     Just before I’d arrived in San Francisco, Sarah Ash had finally been given permission to see Gideon, if she would submit to being searched first by a police woman. Gideon was being held by a presidentially appointed federal cop named Moranne. And Special Inspector Moranne was afraid Sarah might try to sneak a weapon in to Gideon.

     Inspector Moranne had been trailing Gideon across the country for quite some time and was sure he had enough on him to put him away forever. Moranne thought Gideon was a hard‑line revolutionary. The inspector had been assigned to follow Gideon Holley by Senator Everett Pillhauser himself. Senator Pillhauser was in charge of a secret branch of the federal government called the Bureau of Subversive Investigation. Pillhauser had personally picked the Inspector because Moranne had a reputation for “getting his man.”

     “Search away,” Sarah said to the Inspector that day in the hospital.

     I had never met Gideon’s former college roommate, J. Hubbard, and I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for it. He would’ve seemed out of place anywhere, not because of his physical appearance, which was totally bland, but because of his eyes. I know it sounds trite to say this, but J. Hubbard’s eyes were like long‑burning coals.

     It was as if someone had made a photo collage by cutting out the eyes of Albert Einstein and pasting them to the cartoon face of Charlie Brown. When J. Hubbard spoke he made me nervous. When he didn’t speak it was even worse. His stare came out of the dark beyond the fire like a beacon that night in the state park as I listened to Gideon Holley and watched Sarah Ash.

     J. Hubbard stood five feet and three inches in leather wingtips and looked like a child, except for his eyes. In the mysterious ways of friendship he and Gideon were locked together. The things that made me shiver caused Gideon to slap himself and laugh out loud.

     I still think of J. Hubbard sitting on a log in the icy night, breathing steam as firelight bounced his shadow around the small clearing.

     To anyone else these are just stories. To me, they bring back sharp, clear pictures of a time of instinctive insanity; a time that has since been so examined, cleaned and retouched that I don’t recognize it when I read about it. I sit up late to watch a PBS special about The Sixties, and feel no connection to the times. To hear it re‑told, we were so consciously moral, so united and so committed. Memories are a strange thing. What I remember is chaos, and a desperation that created friends in an instant; a lifetime of love in an evening. I remember Gideon, but probably not the same way others do. So, I guess it really makes no difference if anyone believes my stories. Some of them are lies, anyhow.

     Sometimes people listen and say, “Haha. You should write a book.”  They’re very polite, bless them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even listen.

 

     The meeting in that state park was my strongest memory, but I had seen Gideon once again, earlier, for a brief moment, in November 1969. We wound up in San Jose, California at the same time. He was holding a series of seminars on radical politics and I was there to attend a dome building workshop. I was writing an article on domes for the L.A. Free Press. Had I known I would be writing a book about him someday, I’m sure I could’ve thought of something monumental to say to Gideon. As it was, I said, “Find any co‑colas yet?”

     He looked at me for a second, then grinned. “Hey, buddy.”

     “Hey, Gideon,” I said, hoping people were noticing me.

     “Man,” he said, “you get around.”

     “You, too.”

 

     The main attraction at the dome building workshop in San Jose was Buckminster Fuller. Mr. Fuller was an old, bald man with eyes like fourth‑of‑July sparklers. He talked for nearly two hours and was much too intelligent to be a match for anyone there. One idiot even asked Mr. Fuller what role geodesic domes would play in the Revolution. Mr. Fuller only smiled. The idiot’s name was Gordon Cotton.

     Gordon Cotton was the president of Students in Defense of the Third World at Macalester College. He was twenty‑two and he was white. He had used SDTW funds to fly out to San Jose just to appear with Gideon for his interview with Rolling Stone, though he got no mention in the magazine.

     Gordon Cotton’s father, Grady, was vice‑president of Kellogg’s Exploratory and Experimental Foods Division in Battle Creek, Michigan. Grady had been in the same high school with Gerald Ford, a man who was later to become the first non‑elected President of the United States. It was his destiny. At the time Gordon Cotton asked Buckminster Fuller that stupid question, however, Mr. Ford was only a congressman.

     Mr. Fuller smiled. He invited us to come closer and see his models of geodesic domes. He said everything from the planet Earth to our scrotums was geodesic in structure. He told us there was no single point of stress to a geodesic dome and it only took one‑tenth as much heat to warm a dome, compared to a conventional home. I left that lecture knowing, no matter what else happened, I would someday settle down and build my own geodesic dome with solar heat and wind‑powered generators.

     I now live in Wewahitchka, Florida, a tiny town on the bend of the Florida Panhandle. I work for the power company and live in a trailer and tell crazy stories that no one believes.

 

 

Chapter One

1969  

 

 

     He spun slowly, strangely, watching the laws of nature disappear. Time had come unglued and all things in the room were rejoicing in their new freedom. A tiny world of snow flurries over a brown cabin, snowflakes that slid over miniature plastic trees, embalmed in glass and destined, for as long as time stayed dependable, to adorn a desktop, now opened magnificently like a flower.

     He watched the white snow leap into the air, no order to its movement, flying randomly toward wide open places. Tiny trees floated by like bushy green rockets zooming through crazy space. He laughed as the cabin came apart as cabins never do, the pieces flying past his face. He turned to follow the novaed end of this small world and his eyes met the Painting on the Wall. He might have missed it had time done its job, but time loafed.

     Patterns of red with thin streaks of white splashed playfully across the yellow pool of the wall. It was, at first, a sunset upon yellow sand, then red trees and long‑legged egrets standing, casting slender shadows. To his amazement the dark red shadows were growing longer as the world tilted and he fell gracefully to the floor. The paint was still wet! It was wet and running, sliding down the wall. He watched it reach the floor and merge with a crimson ocean that circled, he noticed, the unwilling artist. Gideon screamed.

 

     “Gideon?” a voice asked from the darkness.

     “No!” he screamed again.

     “Gideon,” the voice in the darkness weakened, cried.

     “Please?” Silence.

     “It’s me,” the void stayed dark, a painful black. “It’s me, Sarah.”

     Gideon tried reaching his arms out, but only one would move. Fear came. Not just fear of loss, as his memories swam beneath the surface, but a fear of touching something out there, something cold. He pulled his one arm back in and brought his hand to his face to feel the darkness. It was soft, bouncy. The darkness hurt him when he touched it.

     “Don’t touch,” the soft voice continued. “It’s a bandage.” He heard the strain in her voice. “But, you’ll be all right,” she hurried on. “Your eyes are all right.”

     Something touched his hand. Gideon opened his mouth but no sound came. The hand that touched his was warm. It slid between his fingers and lay softly on his palm. Sarah’s face eased into the void, a lighter dark. He felt the corners of his mouth pulling themselves up toward his blind eyes. A smile, he remembered. It turned in his mind like a key, carefully, and the hinges broke loose, spilling in shining rays of things more real. Time had pulled itself together.

     “Hello, Sarah.” He kissed the hand that rested in his.

     “Gideon?” Sarah’s voice faltered again, then crumbled into an avalanche of sobs that crashed against the cotton walls covering his ears and snuggled happily into the folds. She lay her head on his chest and it rocked like a heartbeat with each cry. The soft fur of her hair tickled his chin and he pushed it down, his hand barely touching her head.

     “It’s okay, Sarah,” Gideon said, testing his own voice. His hand searched her face and felt the tears.

     “J. is here,” she said quietly. “He told me to promise you he’ll get you out.”

     “Where am I?” he asked. “And why do I have to get out?”

     “You’re in the hospital.”

     “Where?” He was puzzled.

     “The hospital,” Sarah whispered. “In San Francisco. The police are keeping you here under arrest.”

     “Why?”

     She told him why, then lifted her head and sat back in the chair, holding his hand as he lay still, silent. Sarah listened to the machines around him sucking, whirring and clicking as several minutes crept past. When he finally spoke she jumped at the sound of his voice.    

     “We have a lot to do if it’s going to work, Sarah. I don’t doubt J. Hubbard, but I’m not sure about me.

     Sarah leaned forward and gently kissed his lips. “We’ll make it.”

     Gideon pressed his head back against the pillow, exhausted, then drew in two deep, ragged breaths. “It’s not funny anymore,” he said. He felt dizzy and disoriented. Searching his mind for something to hold onto, he found the comforting, shaded lawns of Macalester College. He felt the cool Autumn air and saw a pretty girl with long blond hair step in front of him as he ambled across the campus. Sarah watched Gideon smile as he dropped off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWO

MACALESTER COLLEGE

 

When she met Gideon Holley, Carmen Woolsey was the secretary of Students in Defense of the Third World at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a group formed to fight racism in America. She was passing out the SDTW newsletter on the green outside Macalester's student union. Carmen saw Gideon weaving his way through the swarm of students and, for a reason she didn't know, moved to intercept him, newsletter in hand. Carmen Woolsey was destined to meet Gideon Holley.

     Gideon was unintentionally conspicuous, even in this conspicuous crowd. He was six feet two inches tall and weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. He was called 'baby bird'’ when he was in high school. The nickname was given to him by one of the girls in the Hillsborough Young Women's Youth for Christ after she rescued him from Lake Blossom. He had wandered from a party at a friend's lake front home where he fell, naked and drunk, into the lake. When the water had been pumped from his lungs the young girl looked down at Gideon as he lay curled and wheezing in the sand.

     "He looks like a baby bird," she said.

     Carmen stared at Gideon. His hair was conspicuously short. It swept over his ears but only touched his collar. There was a white scar across the bridge of his nose that called attention to his deep set, grey‑blue eyes. When Gideon walked, his arms flung loosely back to front and side to side. His legs worked much the same way. Carmen watched this scarecrow as he deftly twisted around the other students and wondered, for a moment, if he was from another world. He wore a brown shirt and a lightweight green sweater that hung on him like a circus tent. His flared pants were rolled up at the bottoms. The rolls looked like three‑corner hats. Carmen stepped in front of him nervously as though stepping into the path of a runaway truck.

     "Excuse me," she said, smiling. "Would you like a copy of the 'Freedom Press.'"

     "No thank you," Gideon said, returning the smile.

     "But," Carmen stood like the Statue of Liberty, one arm cradling a stack of papers, the other raised, dangling a copy in Gideon's face. "It's the only free newspaper on campus."

     "Oh." Gideon relaxed, looking at the headline.  It was ominous. 'SECOND BLACK CHURCH BOMBED BY WHITE RACISTS IN NEW ORLEANS,' it said.

     "I thought you were trying to sell it to me."

     "I am," Carmen said.  "I mean, it's only a quarter."

     "You said it was free." Gideon glared at her.   

     "That's not what I meant," Carmen said quickly. She looked up at Gideon and laughed.

     "Oh, I get it." She dropped her arm at last. "You're playing a joke."

     Carmen Woolsey was a freshman at Macalester College, one summer removed from high school. She stood five feet and four inches with no shoes and had a beautiful, healthy Minnesota face with a dash of freckles across her nose. She had long, very blond hair.

      Poor Carmen. If she hadn't tried so hard to sell a free quarter newspaper to Gideon Holley, she probably wouldn't be dead now. But she had no choice.

      Gideon was twenty‑three years old and only six months out of the United States Air Force. He'd been discharged from the Air Force at Chanute, Illinois, on March 2, 1969.  He and a friend were released at the same time and the friend invited Gideon to his home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the summer. They could work at Kimberly‑Clark, the friend said. Gideon, with no ambition to go home, accepted.

     He lived in Oshkosh for five months, working and sleeping the entire time. He went out to a basement bar on Saturday nights and drank alone. 

     Gideon permitted himself one luxury ‑ buying and repairing a 1963 two‑ton step van; a retired bread truck.  He had it painted blue and installed a bed and a stove. When his acceptance to Macalester College came through, he said goodbye to Oshkosh and drove his van to St. Paul.

     Gideon hadn't met a girl he cared to spend time with for over five months. Now he had the time, the money he'd saved, and a GI Bill that covered his school expenses and more. Carmen was, indeed, a beautiful girl.

     "Yeah," Gideon said, "a joke."

     A red frisbee floated in a graceful arc behind Carmen, and sunlight, filtered through thousands of delicate leaves, fell softly on her upturned face.  Laughter and conversation flowed in harmonic waves around them as she lifted a strand of hair from her eyes and dropped it behind her ear. 

     "I'll buy them all," Gideon said.

     "What?"

     "I want all of them."  Gideon pointed at the stack of thin newspapers.  He bought twenty‑six copies of the The Freedom Press, two tuna sandwiches, and two bottles of Coke. They ate in the union, Gideon acting knowledgeable as Carmen talked to him about "the Movement." He had honestly never heard of the "free press."  He didn't know who Eldridge Cleaver or Huey Newton were.  Martin Luther King was only a shadowy figure in Gideon's world. Having always accepted the picture of King as a "paper doctor" and "troublemaker," Gideon was quietly surprised and humbled to find out what a brilliantly educated and dedicated man he was. Carmen talked and talked and Gideon stole glances at the groups of students in the room. He wondered if they all knew so much more than he.

     Gideon didn't know what ecology meant.  He felt stupid and new, embarrassed to have spent four years in the Air Force without thinking anything much more about Vietnam than hoping he wouldn't be sent there. He had never left the States. Now Carmen talked of all this and more. She exposed the worsening political crisis in America and the maddening war.  She became enraged as she spoke of the racism and police brutality across the land.

     As she talked, Gideon threw "I feel the same way," and "You bet!" into what he hoped were the right places.  A new and exciting world was opening up for him. After three hours of listening and bluffing, he knew quite a bit about radical politics.  After three hours of talking, Carmen Woolsey was convinced Gideon was the most politically aware person she had ever met. She'd never learned to take credit for her own intelligence.

 

 

For over a month Gideon went with Carmen to all the meetings of Students in Defense of the Third World and they spent most of their time together. They were in love.

     Carmen introduced Gideon to Gordon Cotton and all the members of SDTW. She told them Gideon had a great knowledge of current events. They were pleased. While he was meeting these friends of Carmen Woolsey, another black church was bombed in New Orleans, Louisiana.

     There were rallies and demonstrations at colleges across America and Macalester College was no exception.   Mobilization committees were formed, letters of protest were written and marches were planned. Speeches were scheduled everywhere.

     "Gideon!" Carmen took him by the hand and pulled him toward the auditorium just two days after the bombing. "Bob Rome is here!"

     Bob Rome was the student movement's most fiery speaker, a rising star in radical politics. He had flown to Macalester College as part of a hastily booked nationwide tour set up by the Radical Speaker's Bureau to throw support to a beleaguered civil rights movement. With him on the flight was Sarah Ash, one of those rare people whose knowledge raised her far above the rank‑and‑file and left her in a limbo of obscurity that comes from not being able to close a sale, to go for the jugular. Sarah had been given the honor of warming up the crowd for Bob Rome.

     Angry students filled Macalester's gymnasium until the late comers were forced to stand, first in the corridors and, as they kept coming, on the Green where outdoor speakers were quickly strung. Sarah Ash took the podium and talked for a half‑hour on social reform and the roll of united young women and men of all races and backgrounds in this reform.

     "We are not trying to reform the country and the world for our own pleasure," she said. "We're doing it for the political freedom of our children and our children's children. We must work totally toward change and we must have patience."

     Sarah received polite applause when she finished.

     Bob Rome appeared at the podium and stood silently, glowering at the expectant crowd. He was a pudgy, white bowling‑ball with a thick curly beard and black bushy hair. Short, thick arms curved down to his belt and rounded out into puffy pink hands with stubby fingers. Bob Rome pointed one of these fingers at the audience.

     "A lot of you think the revolution is a joke!" he shouted in a surprisingly well‑modulated voice, the accusing finger scanning them like a shotgun drifting across an open field, searching for a darting deer or a frightened quail.

     "The oppressed people in this country are being exterminated by the colonialist ruling class," Bob Rome dropped his hand to the podium and, with a resigned sigh, held the students in his power like an experienced tent revivalist.

    "Genocide is the game they're playing with our lives and we won't stand for it any longer!" His voice was like lightning before the thunderclap of applause.

     "Third world victims unite!" his voice rose above the cheering crowd. "We'll take the revolution to the streets and show the world we're ready to die for our cause!" Bob Rome's words were drowning in the screams of assent.

     "We'll show the pigs and their fucking oppressive system of mindless lackeys that we're not afraid of their pig guns and their pig laws any longer!" Everyone in the gymnasium rose to their feet, fists toward the sky as they cheered him on.

     Gideon missed most of Bob Rome's speech because he had gone to take a leak, but even far down the corridor he could feel the rumble of applause, the roar of allegiance. He was standing outside the double doors when Sarah Ash walked out of the gym.

     "Do you know why no one listens to you?" Gideon asked. Sarah stopped and turned slowly toward Gideon, a stork in a drooping green sweater. She was prepared for any question but that one.

     "I beg your pardon?" she said.

     "I said do you know why no one listens to you."

     "Please," she said sarcastically, "tell me."

     "Because you sound like Jesus Christ," he answered, pushing one finger into the air. "And, you're too honest." He raised another finger.

     "Is that it?"

     "Nope. You don't tell them they can rape and pillage after they conquer." He leaned closer, "They need revenge, you know." The third finger.

     "You forgot to shout," he said, four fingers in the air. Gideon stopped to think.

     "No number five?" Sarah asked.

     "Number five," Gideon said. "No one takes you seriously because you're too pretty."

     Sarah stared at him, unable to see anything but honesty in his face. She started to reply when a tremendous cheer from inside made conversation impossible. The cheer turned to applause and a stream of students burst through the door, pushing Sarah and Gideon farther and farther apart.

     He heard Carmen call his name and turned when she took his arm. When he looked back, Sarah was gone. Carmen slipped a hand inside his belt and leaned into his side. "I feel electric!" she said.

     "Yeah," Gideon said.

 

 

Gideon also used this time to share his new knowledge with his roommate, a quiet, brilliant young student named J. Hubbard. Their first two weeks together had been spent in loud arguments and abusive language that brought people into the long dorm halls to anticipate the worst. Then, in the midst of a shouting match, laughter broke out and they discovered they were compatible.

     J. Hubbard, at just over five feet, had the smooth face of a child and a predator’s eyes that betrayed a passion for conflict. Together, Gideon and J. looked like Mutt and Jeff.

     J. Hubbard never seemed to leave his room except to go to class or to find new and ingenious ways of smuggling beer and ice into the dorm, yet nothing seemed to happen on campus without him knowing. He kept six large, bound notebooks in a three‑legged bookcase that leaned against the wall, its missing leg replaced by a can of beer. Five of these notebooks were filled with J.'s neat script. He was working his pen across the pages of the sixth notebook when Gideon came in, nervous and excited.

     "You know what we've decided to do?" Gideon asked.

     "Go to New Orleans?" J. guessed politely.

     "Damn it!" Gideon sat back on the corner of his desk. "How did you know?"

     J. shrugged, closed the notebook and put his beer down on the cover, then reached over the back of the chair and pulled another can of beer from a small bucket of ice. He handed it to Gideon, rubbed his eyes sleepily under his glasses, and propped his feet up on the bottom shelf of the bookcase.

     Gideon opened the beer, sipped from the can and said, "Is there anything you don't know about the trip?"

     "Yes," J. leaned forward and slipped the notebook into the case beside the others. He turned up the can and drank the last of his beer then tossed the empty into a paper bag. "Why are you going?"

     "What?" Gideon said.

     "Why are you going to New Orleans?"

     Gideon looked confused. He took a long drink and tilted his head back. "Well," he said, "I don't see anything wrong with marching for the freedom of those people." He sloshed foam on the carpet. "I mean, damn it," he leaned down toward J. and half whispered, "They've got their dues coming, right?"

     J. stared at him.

     "Okay," Gideon struggled on, "I know I probably wouldn't be going if Carmen wasn't going but, shit..." he searched for sincerity.

     "Look, so I want to do my part to raise the consciousness of America and have Carmen, too," he drank. "What's wrong with that?"

      J. still said nothing.

     "Look," Gideon said, "I never even wondered about Vietnam, you know? I mean, I joined up because that's what you do. It never occurred to me that I had a choice."

     "When did it occur to you?"

     "After I met Carmen, and the others," he said sheepishly. " Before that, I never even thought about this stuff."

     "And now," J.'s eyes were heavy with exhaustion, "you're going to change the world?"

     "Maybe," Gideon said, rising to his feet. "Why don't you go with us?"

      J. shook his head, dropped his chin to his chest and began to snore. Gideon stretched his long frame then reached down and gently removed J.'s glasses. He put them on the desktop and looked at the clock. It was three‑thirty a.m.  In less than four hours he would be on a plane bound for New Orleans, Louisiana. He didn't want to go but he didn't want to miss it, either. He thought the trip might teach him something, might provide him with something to believe in. He leaned against the window, one hand holding his beer, the other on his crotch, and fell asleep.

 

 

They stood sleepy‑eyed but excited in the airport terminal, waiting in the chilly autumn sunrise for their plane. Gordon Cotton was running around as though the terminal floor was a spider's web of bare electric wires, his hands and mouth working a strange, hypnotic duet over the crowd of students. Carmen left her car with a friend and she and Gideon walked across the parking lot toward Gordon's crazy dance. Finally, they came within the sound of his voice.

     "The entire project will depend on how well we work together. There'll be students there from all over the country to stand with us in support of the black struggle. I've collated some important information for you to read on the plane and I want each of you to get one of these pamphlets.

     "You know the cause we're all working toward and you know the goals ‑" he kept up the flow of words as he handed out stacks of papers to a select few who, in turn, handed them to others.

     "He's like a tobacco auctioneer," Gideon said. Butterflies took flight in his stomach and he thought of being home with a beer. Carmen wrapped her arms around one of his and pulled herself close.

     "Isn't it exciting?" she said. "To be a part of history!"

     Gideon's mind wandered and he saw his high school basketball coach standing before him, a strange ghost in red sweat socks and black shorts, a white T‑shirt with COACH in blazing red on the chest. He could smell the locker room and feel the players' tension before an important game.

     "Boys," the coach was talking, his stocky frame trembling with excitement. "This game will decide the divisional championship. The way you play tonight will be a part of history!" They lost the game. Two weeks later no one could even remember the score.

     Carmen pulled him back to the present again with a tug at his sleeve. The mass of students around him were moving toward the loading gate, their murmuring an undercurrent to Gordon Cotton's singing chant: "Everyone get on board the freedom plane!

     "The freedom plane!

     "The freedom plane!"

     Hup, two, three, four.

 

THREE

NEW ORLEANS

 

 

Gideon blinked. He squinted his eyes and looked around at all the opposing colors under a glaring Louisiana sun. He stood in the center of an army of field jackets and blue jeans, a Jeckle and Hyde clothing issue of one part military discipline, one part anarchistic freedom. All the faces he could see below their long, flowing hair blended together in a mixture of fearful anticipation and determination.  

     Surrounding Gideon's army was an even larger army. In this other army there was no confusion of intent. Bored, sweaty faces stared blankly from beneath shiny helmets, their eyes lost behind dark sunglasses. They wore dark blue shirts even darker, almost black, around the armpits. They stood at parade rest in straight, even lines, riot sticks held lightly across their belts as though preparing for a mass vaudevillian tap dance. They were New Orleans' finest.

     Gideon searched with his eyes for Carmen. She had wandered off earlier with a stack of newsletters, saying she had to distribute them before the march began. It would be almost impossible to spot her in this crowd. She was wearing a field jacket and blue jeans. For the first time, Gideon asked himself, "Why am I here?"

     The night before, Gideon had been ready to march a hundred miles for the freedom of anybody. He had been leaning against his bedroll, Carmen sitting beside him with her hand on his knee, listening to stirring speeches by several community leaders, white and black.

     The bombings were an outrage, they all shouted. The murderers must be stopped, they all agreed.

     After the speeches, as the students were unrolling sleeping bags and the bittersweet smell of marijuana began seeping through the still, hot air, a guitarist stood alone at the microphone. The podium was dark and no one could see him. He sang until everyone was asleep. Gideon went to sleep hearing one of the verses.

     Once I was lost

     But now I am found

     And I'd rather be dying

     Than just hanging 'round

 

 

Now, however, under the bright sun, Gideon was having doubts. St. Charles Avenue was lined with people who pushed beyond the curb and into the street to gawk at the idle marchers. They weren't smiling.

     Gideon looked around again, hoping to find Carmen, and noticed something peculiar. All of the marchers were white. Blacks on the sidewalks, all lifetime veterans, either ignored the students or glanced at them curiously.

     There was a sudden agitated movement, spontaneous but instant, like the rush of birds from a tree top. Whispers became shouts as the strange army stirred.  Someone began talking into a bullhorn and his booming words, though incoherent, broke the calm and the protesters began lining up on the street. The march had begun. Gideon felt his stomach tighten and hoped he wouldn't lose the chicken dinner he'd been fed an hour ago. He fought his way through the marching bodies, desperate now to find Carmen. Finally, feeling more alone than he'd ever thought possible, he gave in to the shuffling cadence.

     As they marched farther down St. Charles Gideon experimented with sending sincere smiles to the onlookers.   A woman spat at him. A man looked at him sadly. A black teenager laughed at him. Gideon stopped smiling.

     As the line of marchers touched the edge of Canal Street Gideon looked to the curb and saw a vision. A young, dark haired girl was smiling at him, her brown eyes flashing a message he welcomed. Gideon, nervous and shaken from the reactions of the people watching the march, looked around at the sea of unfamiliar faces then stepped smoothly to the sidewalk. He walked up to the girl and smiled.

     "Hello," Gideon said. The girl looked straight ahead into the lines of marchers.

     "It sure is hot," Gideon said, wiping his forehead. The girl produced a slight smile but stared into the street.

     "But it sure is a nice day for a parade," Gideon said earnestly. The girl laughed and turned to him.

     "Yes it is," she said.

     'After all,' Gideon said to himself, 'the rally will last for hours.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR

THE FORTUNE TELLER

 

 

The window fan hummed loudly, competing with a small table radio. From its little speaker came the rasping of a delta fiddle, the sound a combination of chain saws and bagpipes. The song was Jole Blon. Gideon and the girl lay on the bed, the covers thrown back. She had just asked him why he'd come to New Orleans. He told her he didn't know.

     The girl's name was Jean. She was five feet and eight inches tall and had a dark olive complexion. Her hair was shoulder length and full of thick curls. The apartment was fresh and open to the sun and Gideon smiled, temporarily broken from his bond of revolutionary brotherhood. The walls were without posters and the only painting was a Wyeth copy.

     "You want a beer?" Jean asked, pushing herself up and swinging off the side of the bed.

     "Yes, thank you," Gideon said, watching her as she walked into the tiny kitchenette. She returned with two Dixie beers and handed one to Gideon.

     "No, really," Jean sat on her feet and drank.  Her dark hair rolled like thunderclouds as she positioned herself in front of the fan.

     "Really, what?" Gideon muttered, watching her sway in front of him. Every movement accentuated the partnership between Jean and her apartment. She moved inside it like a man moves inside the woman he loves, caressing as she stirred, absently sweeping dust from the top of the night table with her fingers as she placed the bottle gently against its surface. This was her home and hers only and anyone who came here would stay under those unspoken terms.

     "Why did you come all the way down here to Noo‑Awlins?" It seemed to Gideon ever since he'd started college the only thing anyone ever said to him was 'why?'

     "Why did you decide to go to college here?"

     "Why do you think we're in Vietnam?"

     "Why are you going to New Orleans?" Gideon didn't know why about anything.

     He pretended not to hear the question, then hurried on with a question of his own. "Why did you pick me out of that crowd today?" he said, thinking of the direct way she called out to him, her eyes speaking clearly, openly. Jean threw her head back, her smooth throat rippling as the first bubbles of alto laughter broke the surface of her open lips and bounced free to dance inside the walls of her apartment.

     "Oh, my God!" she said as she laughed, trying to control it but getting only a loud hiccough as a reward. She choked and shook her head from side to side, then looked at Gideon's stricken face and almost started laughing again.

    "It wasn't my magnetic personality, then?" Gideon asked with a sweep of his arm. He was hurt. He thought he looked brave in the march, walking along in firm, steady strides, his face telling the world he was a man with convictions. His body had been lying to him.

     "You looked like a puppy on the highway," Jean said, taking his hand. "Your eyes were so wide and you were walking on tiptoes.

     "And I loved you for it," she said. Suddenly, her face lost its glow. She stared into Gideon's deep-set eyes. Her fingers touched his face briefly, like raindrops, then they were gone. Without a single feature moving on her smooth face, it changed expressions to one of sadness. She squeezed Gideon's hand.

     "Gideon," she said, "My gran'mama told me you could truly see a person only through his eyes." She paused and Gideon didn't interfere with the long silence. "You must leave this foolishness of saving the world to someone else, or terrible, terrible things will happen to you." Her voice had dropped to a whisper.

     Gideon had been warned. He laughed nervously, pulling her tense hand to his lips and kissing her fingertips. "It'll all be over by the time I get back to the park," he said. "And I'll be back in college trying to remember who the Druids were."

     Jean sipped her beer in silence. Gideon wasn't brave, he had no visions of being a messiah or martyr but, unfortunately, he didn't believe this dark-haired girl could know his future by looking into his eyes. If he had believed her, he would've shipped out that very day as a deckhand on a boat headed south for bananas, he would've signed on to work an oil derrick, he would have done anything but what he had been doing and would never have said the word "revolution" again.

     Gideon wasn't brave or dedicated but he didn't believe in Cajun fortune telling, either.

     "Aaaaay‑eeee!" the radio shouted as the solid footstomp of a beat warned them another zydeco song was headed their way. Slowly, the sound of a fiddle worked its way through the small speaker then leapt across the room like an erratic paper airplane. Gideon looked at Jean's face in the light of the afternoon sun and knew the spell was broken. She had taken him in to give him love and a message. She had done both. Gideon slipped his hand from hers and she followed it with her eyes. He sipped his beer.

     The music was interrupted in the middle of an instrumental bridge and the disc jockey's voice immediately filled the air with its trained resonance. "We've just received a report from Leon Carpenter, who's covering the protest rally down in Jackson Square. He says the rally, which was peaceful up until now, has erupted into a full-scale riot. We'll issue other reports when we receive them. Thank you." A slight pause.

     "Now, here's Clifton Chenier!"

     "Aaaaay‑eeee!" the radio screamed.

     "God‑a‑mighty!" Gideon shouted. He jumped from the bed and slammed the beer down on the night table. His mind spun with thoughts of Carmen, cowardice and negligence as he scrambled for his clothes. He frantically pulled at his underwear and pants, slipping his bare feet into his boots and stuffing a pair of socks into his back pocket. His head was filled with gruesome pictures of his new friends as guilt climbed on his back and wrapped wiry hands around his throat.

     He thought of Carmen again and his heart slammed against his bare chest. Was she searching for him, was she hurt? His stomach churned. Gideon scooped up his shirt, dancing a crazy jig on the floor as he did so, trying to push the boots up over his heels. He saw Jean watching him, her face pale and without expression.

     He kissed her cheek and mumbled, "I'm sorry." Then, shirt in hand, he raced out the door. As she heard his footsteps leave the stairwell and enter the street, the music was once again interrupted by the same voice.

     "We're pleased to report the trouble in Jackson Square was only a minor skirmish and an uneasy peace has settled once again."

     "Oh, God," Jean said to her apartment.

 

 

 

 

Gideon ran like the wind down the side streets of the French Quarter, his mind focused on the maps they had been shown before the march. He swiftly passed Bourbon Street then crossed Royal, his legs flying down the narrow sidewalks of Dumaine as he tried to twist into his shirt. He turned onto Chartres just as he buttoned the last button.

     Around the corner was a tense crowd.

     The police stood in a circle around the marchers in tight lines, unmoving, their blank faces hiding a readiness for action. Inside the circle stood a silent crowd of students, still and indecisive. The earlier incident between two of the marchers and the police had served as a prelude for a violent confrontation. No one moved.

     Around this corner raced Gideon, looking down as he pushed his shirt into his pants. His feet hit the curb and he went flying, arms and legs waving furiously. It was as though he was trying to fly above the scene that appeared in a frightful blur before his startled eyes. He looked up to see the backs of two dark blue shirts in his path just as he crashed into them.

     "Oof!" said one of the policemen.

     "Shit!" shouted the other as they fell to the ground. Then, as if by magic, everyone began shouting and falling down.

 

 

FIVE

THE JAIL CELL

 

 

Gideon had been a hero for less than three hours and was already tired of it. Proud, bearded young men had fiercely thrown their fists at the sky as he was ushered past them, partially blinded by the tiny rivulets of blood that trickled down his forehead and into his eyes, his body tossed about by a dozen hairy‑knuckled hands.

     "Right on, brother!" they screamed.

     "Power to the people!" they cried.

     'FREE GIDEON OR THE SKY'S THE LIMIT!' the hastily scrawled posters waved. The big cops attached to the hairy knuckles that were attached to Gideon growled and said:

     "You think they're gonna help you, huh?"

     And, "Goddamned commies!"

     And, "You're in a pile of shit, bub."

     And Gideon agreed.

     They placed him in a cubicle by himself, sandwiched between a large cell filled with bandaged, admiring students and a small cell with three old black men squatting on the floor, ignoring it all.

     The students cheered and shouted to him, crowding the bars to get close to Gideon. Finally they moved away from his cell, pulling their hands from his stinging back and their eyes from his bruises and he realized then that he really hurt and he still had not seen Carmen. He leaned back against the bars and tried to think, began to think, then tried not to think. He heard a noise behind him, then a voice like ripping cloth whispered, "Cap'n?"

     Gideon jumped, his arms flapping once, quickly, as his heart raced. He turned toward the sound of the voice and stared at a face so black it looked purple under the bright fluorescent light. It was creased like crumpled paper, the crevices disappearing into an eternity of black, all lines twisting their way upward and downward and sideways, forming an enormous traffic jam at the intersection of the man’s eyes. The eyes were pink rimmed with glazed, dark brown pupils. The bridge of his nose overlapped the nostrils like tight canvas and, from beneath the nostrils Gideon watched the old mouth open. A pink tongue licked parched, cracked lips before the old man spoke.

     "I ain't meanin' to bother you, Cap'n," the mouth creaked into a memory of a smile. "But I heered what hap'n out there today," he shook his head slowly. "That was a dumb fool thing ya'll done."

     "Yeah," Gideon said.

     "But, we's just talkin' back there," the old man thumbed toward his two friends. "And, we's just wonderin'," he paused as though building up nerve. "We's just wonderin'...I mean, ya'll ain't from here?"

     "No," Gideon said with a sigh. He didn't really want to talk about it. "We flew down from Minnesota."

     "On a airplane?" the old man was astonished. "Jesus, I ain't never been on one of them!" His eyes moved away from Gideon and concentrated on the damp ceiling.

     "How much was your ticket?" he whispered. Gideon told him. The old mouth dropped open then closed slowly. A quiet whistle slid over his teeth. "How many of you come down here?"

     "About ninety," Gideon said. "In our group."

     The old man was silent for a long time and finally, as Gideon started to turn away, said, "Why didn't ya'll just send the money?" He turned his back on Gideon and duck‑walked his way back to his friends. He began talking rapidly in low whispers.

     Gideon sat at the bottom of the world, listening to the sounds that surrounded him. The bragging and laughing and moaning in the large cell and the mumbles from the black men isolated him.

     "Shit, I thought niggers was crazy!" he heard one of the black men say. The other two laughed. Someone in the crowded cell began playing a guitar slowly. Gideon craned his neck to look for the musician but couldn't see him anywhere. A sweet, low voice, the same he'd heard from the podium the night before, embroidered itself into the delicate chords that flowed above the hum of the crowd.

     "My mama told me

     When I left her there

     Do what you want, boy

     'Cause nobody cares."

 

 

"Gideon Holley," the cop stared at him as he would've stared at a snake, opening the cell door cautiously. "Come with me." There was no sound coming from the next cell but all eyes watched him. Gideon stood up and his legs melted in fright. He sat back down.

     "Good tactic!" a male voice shouted from the group of students. Then came the chant, "Resist! Resist! Resist!"

     The cop pulled Gideon to his feet and dragged him out of his cell, pulling and pushing him down a narrow corridor that ended at a closed door. Gideon stopped at the wooden door, its brown paint chipped in some places and rippling like frozen waves at the banks of a pane of glass that announced in black letters, 'CLYDE PORTER ‑ CHIEF OF POLICE ‑ KNOCK FIRST. A burly arm reached around Gideon and knocked on the door.

     "Yo!" a voice from the inside boomed. The door was pushed open as a hand nudged Gideon from behind. He stumbled into the room, his knees making loud tapping noises as they smashed into each other. It sounded to Gideon like a woodpecker working at a hollow tree but he seemed to be the only one in the room who heard it.

     "Oh, mama," Gideon said to himself as he looked around the room. Behind the desk was a man who was obviously the Chief of Police. He was a short man with a large chest and muscles like bowling balls under the sleeves of a thin, grey suit. His hair was silver and his eyes were a frightening blue.

     Three men sat facing the desk, attache cases at their feet beneath folding chairs. Their faces were as vague as the dark side of the moon. They were the type that never wore ornamental smiles and seemed rarely to find the excuse for real ones. Faces that could bluff you at five‑card stud if you had three‑of‑a‑kind showing. Gideon was scared. He wanted to tell them he was sorry, that he didn't mean it. He wanted to swear he would never do it again and beg them for mercy. Gideon loved his freedom.

     "Gideon Holley," the Chief of Police grunted, "These gentlemen are from the American Civil Liberties Union." He waved a hand at them in a gesture that seemed almost obscene.

     "After you sign these papers," he rustled a stack on his desk, "you're free to go. Please wait until you're out of the building to thank them."

 

    Gideon stood in the airport facing flashbulbs and reporters who pointed microphones at his face while everyone else told them the story. Only once did Gideon have the opportunity to speak. "I don't know," was what he said.

     Other students had been slowly bailed out during the day and they filtered into the airport to stand around Gideon, corners of smiles hidden behind bandages, triumphant red eyes peering out from blue‑black sockets. Someone pushed through the crowd and took his hand. It was Carmen. She had a white bandage around her head and dried blood, the color of rust, was caked into her long, blond hair. Gideon knew that if it weren't for him she would be standing there without a scratch and so would the rest. He felt terrible.

    "You look terrible!" Carmen said, freeing his hand to wrap both arms around his waist. "I tried to see you in the cell, but by the time they finished wrapping my head you were gone." Gideon tried to calm his stomach.

     "So," Carmen continued, bubbling with happiness, "I've been asked to tell you that before we left the jail we unanimously voted you President of the Students in Defense of the Third World!"

     Gideon barely made it to the bathroom in time to unload his chicken dinner and beer out of the sight of everyone except a tall, thin man who turned away disgustedly and concentrated on polishing his fingernails.

CHAPTER SIX ‑ THE TAKEOVER

 

 

     J. sat on the side of his bed with an enormous sandwich in one hand, an ever present beer in the other. He was listening to his roommate's disjointed tirade. Gideon had just wrapped up the story of his trip to New Orleans. He had been gone for three days.

     "You're the first person to even ask why I showed up late!" Gideon shouted.

     "Imagine that."

     "Carmen's so excited that she won't even listen," he slurred his words, then drank from his can of beer. "And now, I'm the fucking president!"

     "What?"

     "They voted me president of the Goddamned Students in Defense of the Third fucking World!" he said bitterly. Gideon was very drunk. "And now she wants to live with me!"

     He stood quickly and stomped to the window, looking back to find J. staring at him.

    "No, not here," Gideon answered the look. "She wants me to move in with her at that Goddamned house off campus." He pulled a crumpled envelope out of his back pocket and tossed it across the room to J.

     "If that's not bad enough, this was waiting for me when I got back." He pointed to the envelope and for a moment held the pose, a lost expression on his face. As J. leaned across the bed for the crumpled paper Gideon shook his head and leaned closer to him.

     "The Dean's thinking of having my G.I. Bill revoked!" His voice rose in a sudden panic. "He's gonna get me kicked out of this fucking school!"

     J. read the notice then held it out to Gideon. His lanky roommate stretched out to the envelope and retrieved it, tossed an empty beer can across the room into an already filled trash can, and belched. He turned to the door, grabbed his jacket and pulled it on, then turned back to J.

     "I'm gonna go talk to the Dean right now," Gideon whispered confidentially, wagging his finger at J. "E'splain what really happened!"

     Gideon opened the door and propelled himself into the hall. "See you," his voice carried back into the room.

     J. opened his notebook and began writing across the snow white pages.

 

 

     Gideon set his face in a drunken scowl and made his way across campus toward the administrations building. The Green was filled with an everchanging pattern of shapes and colors. Students were enjoying one of the last nice days remaining before winter crashed down upon them. Many classrooms were empty.

     Over two hundred students were on the Green, some playing guitars while others, in loving groups of two, lay on top of each other in the grass, making promises. Most, however, were listening to Herb Green. Herb was a representative of the Students for a Democratic Society. He was using this beautiful day to remind the students how bad things were. Lest they forget. He was talking to them through a portable PA system.

     One of the students in the crowd spotted Gideon stomping across the Green. "It's Gideon!" he cried out. The crowd began to cheer and Gideon waved drunkenly at them.

     "Where you going?" someone asked.

     Gideon, without removing his scowl, answered, "Gonna see the Dean!" He trudged off as murmurs swept through the interested students.

     "He sure looked pissed!" one of the students said.

     "I wonder what he's going to do?" another said.

     "That crazy fucker?" a voice far back in the crowd said admiringly, "He's probably going to take over the administrations building all by himself!"

     The murmurs rose to shouts.

     "He shouldn't go alone!"

     "It's time to act!"

     Herb Green quickly grasped the situation and raced to the front of the crowd. "The time has come! The time has come!" Herb screamed, his eyes filled with fire. He began leading the angry group toward the Dean's office, each one trying to stomp as they had seen Gideon stomp.

     As Gideon approached the steps of the administrations building he heard the loud murmuring behind him, but was too drunk to realize what it was, so he just kept walking up the steps at a steady pace. The crowd had multiplied as it swept across the campus, and the now giant circus of loyal followers stayed just behind Gideon.

     When his foot touched the first stone step of the building there were nearly five hundred students stomping along almost in unison. Gideon was in a drunken and victorious stupor as he watched frightened secretaries and office workers dash into doorways in front of him, dropping armloads of books and papers as they fled. He still didn't know there were five hundred students moving through the narrow hallway behind him. Gideon didn't know that, at that very moment, eight loaded police buses, twenty seven police cars and a regiment of the 'Fightin' 47th National Guard troops were being rushed to the scene. He was only hoping he could ask the Dean to change his mind about cancelling his G.I. Bill.

     Gideon was, in fact, unaware of anything peculiar until he opened the door to the Dean's office and heard a cheer that sounded, in his drunken state, like a choir of angels. He smiled.

     To his surprise, he suddenly found himself occupying the large office with the Dean, the Dean's plump secretary, and as many of the five hundred students that could squeeze themselves through the door and into the room. The students were shouting and knocking over desks, lamps and waste baskets in a frenzied attempt to stand at Gideon's side through his triumphant campaign.

     Gideon started to ask someone if he was dreaming when a bullhorn outside the building began roaring orders.

     "You have five minutes to leave this building!" the amplified voice informed them. "If you are not out of the building by then, we will use tear gas."

     The Dean, who had been in partial shock up until he heard the words "tear gas" now began roaring at the students. "Get out ‑ outoutout!" he shouted. "Get out!"

     The plump secretary fainted but was unable to fall. She was wedged between the wall and another wall of angry students. Gideon stood in the middle of the room, his eyes wide with wonder. "Dream?" he asked no one in particular. At that moment the first tear gas canister streamed into the room like a comet. It was followed by another and another.

     Gideon's army faltered as the room filled with a grey‑ white smoke that stung their eyes and took away their breaths. One canister struck a short, thin girl in the mouth and she screamed. Gideon, who knew then that it must be a dream and was positive he would wake up soon, began laughing hysterically. The other students gained strength by watching him thumb his nose at fear. To them his laugh was his way of telling the power structure to kiss his ass. Gideon's hands, in the pockets of his long coat, flopped up and down and he looked like a skinny, comic vampire.

     The students laughed briefly with him, then began coughing and crying in the thick fog, trying to fold into themselves as a wall of white helmets swept methodically down the hall, the cops inside swinging their nightsticks democratically, showing no regard for race, sex, or religious affiliation before them. The crowd panicked and began racing from the room like lemmings, directly into the path of white helmets and batons.

     In the middle of this Gideon still stood, laughing and coughing, tears pouring from his eyes. He had never dreamed such a silly dream. People were screaming and holding their hands over their heads as the clubs rose and fell mercilessly above them. He turned to look around him and a tall, slender boy with red, curly hair fell against him, splattering blood over his long coat.

     Gideon blinked. "Not a dream?" he said, confused. He spun around once then fainted, falling to the floor beside the plump secretary.

 

 

 

GIDEON 1969

 

SEVEN ‑ THE BUREAU OF SUBVERSIVE INVESTIGATION

 

 

Senator Everett Pillhauser first heard of Gideon Holley shortly after the riot in New Orleans.

     "Who is this clown?" the senator shouted when his aide brought in the files of the Louisiana riot. "Find out who the hell he is and why he's trying to destroy my country!" The aide rushed quickly from the room and called Inspector Moranne of Senator Pillhauser's controversial Bureau of Subversive Investigation.

     The Bureau had been created two years before, after some individuals in high places discovered something disturbing about a large, ultra‑radical organization known as 'Radicals United for Peace.' The group was responsible for, among other acts, setting fire to the Bank of America building in San Diego, rioting through the streets of Philadelphia after the jailing of Clifford Simms for draft evasion, and blowing up a field office 'safe house' owned by the FBI.

     The disturbing revelation, found after many months of bickering between different Washington D.C. agencies, was that the Radicals United for Peace was made up entirely of spies from the Army, Navy, FBI, CIA, Marine Corps, Air Force, Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Coast Guard.

     Each member of RUP had squirreled himself into the group to expose and file away information on all the other members. Not one of these men had any idea the others were anything but radicals. The only person who had ever joined RUP and was not a government spy was a member of the Weathermen named Q.R. Jones. He quit RUP because they were too violent.

     Once the true situation was discovered, the government was faced with a sticky problem. They had to find a way to explain the sudden disappearance of a well‑known radical organization boasting membership in the thousands. If they simply eliminated it, they would have been accused of secretly locking away America's youth in hidden concentration camps.

     They were in a quandary. The government solved the problem by having RUP go "underground." Every six months or so they would blow up a building or shoot at a cop on his beat then call the press and brag, "RUP did it."

 

 

It was during this time that Senator Pillhauser came up with a brilliant idea. He made code‑scrambled phone calls, held secret sessions with top government officials, and flew back and forth on military aircraft. In a short time he had organized the Bureau of Subversive Investigation.

     BSI was an organization that brought together every spy from every government agency who spied on foreigners, civilians, suspicious strangers, government workers, and each other. As the senator explained to all with whom he conferred, "With all these spies under one roof, the only folks left to watch will be everyone else!"

     The Bureau had its own Top 10, a secret file of the top ten subversives and a complete record of where they lived, what they said, where and what they ate, with whom they slept and what they read. The names on the list had stayed basically the same for two years. The only fluctuation was an occasional number seven moving up to sixth place, and a number six sliding down to seventh.

     Now, out of the blue, Senator Pillhauser was confronted with a new name and it irritated him. He lost two nights' sleep and became angry at petty things. Here was a new name. Gideon Holley. No previous surveillance files, no pictures of him in any demonstration, confrontation or situation.

      At a secret dinner engagement on that second sleepless evening, the Senator questioned Army Major General Klepptucket about the possibility of Gideon Holley being a Russian superspy, smuggled into the country with fake credentials to create turmoil in America.

     "But what about his family?" the General asked.

     "They could be Russkies, too!" the Senator beamed, wondering why he hadn't thought of it before. He stabbed ruthlessly at his baked potato.

     "Yes, but what of the friends he had while growing up?" The General was playing the devil's advocate. "What of the men he served with in the Air Force?"

     "Brainwashed!"

     Senator Pillhauser was convinced then that the entire state of Florida, Gideon's home state, or perhaps the entire Southeast, was Soviet controlled. This advanced his paranoia and added to his sleeplessness. From that time on, he began asking where the food he ate was grown. If the Southeast was the answer, he refused to eat it. He looked suspiciously at everyone he knew from the Southeast and began to deny he knew them.

     Then, just three crisp, Autumn afternoons after the New Orleans fiasco, Senator Pillhauser's aide brought another file into his office. It was written by Inspector Moranne himself, and it concerned a bloody attempt to take over the administrations building at a small college in Minnesota. The attempt was masterminded by a student named Gideon Holley.

 

 

EIGHT ‑ THE RADICAL SPEAKERS BUREAU

 

 

"You were magnificent!" The face blurred, then became clear. Gideon stared into this stranger's face and tried to sit up. It was then he discovered his head was gone. It wasn't gone for long. In less than a second it had come rushing back to sit on his neck again, twice as big as before.

     "Ungh," Gideon said.

     "The doctor said you'd be all right."

     "Doctor!" Gideon shouted, then grabbed his head. "Ungh."

     "You never even got to jail."

     "Jail?"

     "I've never seen anything like it before."

     "What...?"

     "Everyone stood up for you. All the students, that is." Gideon looked closely at this stranger.

     "Who are you?" he asked.

     "I'm Ricky Ledwell from the Radical Speakers Bureau, and I ‑"

     "What do you want?"

     "Well, we thought since you were no longer a student ‑"

     Gideon sat up fast. "Say that again?"

     "We thought since you were no longer a student at the university here you might be interested in making a speaking tour."

     Gideon could only stare at him.

     "We would appreciate it," Ricky Ledwell said. Gideon lay back down.

     "You'd be a great inspiration to the Movement."

     Gideon thought of having to go back to work.

     "All your expenses would be paid by the Radical Speakers Bureau."

     Gideon sat back up. "Really?" he said.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NINE ‑ THE MAGPIE

 

 

     Gideon sat on a small mound of packed dirt, hands in his pockets as he hunched over against the cold. Grey trees outlined against the lighter grey of the sky formed a solid flank behind him. A cold, monochrome world spread out ahead and felt its way out to an invisible horizon. Everything blended with the pre‑dawn grey.

     He looked down the slope to his van, and wondered if Carmen was still sleeping. He wondered if she would really miss him and, to his surprise, wondered if he would miss her. His world had turned topsy‑turvy.

     He thought of the time a little over two months ago, when he had thought he could control his own destiny. "Ha ha," he said.

     "Tweedle," said a bird, surprising Gideon as it hopped over the small crest of another mound beside him. It was a magpie. Gideon looked at the bird.

     "Hello," he said.

     "Tweedle?" the bird replied.

     "Yeah," Gideon said, shaking his head. He turned and looked down the hill again to watch color slowly capture the world. It was dawn.

     Greens and browns slipped over the still sleeping trees and tall stalks of grass, flowing over them quickly and silently. A gentle coup. A thousand shades of browns and reds crept across the earth and painted the thick layer of tiny rocks, not missing a single spot. The sky was turning a pale blue behind idle puffs of clouds. Trees came alive with the delicate fluttering of wings as birds prepared for a new day. Gideon glanced over to the next mound and the magpie was still there. It watched him through bright eyes, liked oiled ball bearings, and it made Gideon nervous.

     The birds in the trees suddenly stopped all motion, and the silence was frightening. Gideon looked at his distant van, now blue again, then up at the sky just in time to see the sun, like an expert hunter, sneak over its blind of trees to fire bright orange beams of light into the defenseless clouds, double‑barreling them into oblivion. The birds applauded wildly, screaming their respects to the rising sun.

     Gideon looked at the mound again and the magpie was gone. He stood, his back to the warm sun, and shook his pant legs down over his boot tops. The Plains surrounded him, dwarfing his van and pushing the still cool air into the folds of his jacket. It had been a mild fall, and the locals said that usually meant a bad winter.

     "I guess it shouldn't matter to me," Gideon said out loud, though there was no one around to hear. "I won't be around."

     This was the day Gideon would be leaving in his van to tour the United States of America, lecturing as he went.

     "Bullshit," he said.

     The lecture tour had been arranged by the Radical Speakers Bureau, Gideon's new boss. He was still numbed, his plans and once eventual security down the drain with his ouster from Macalester College on the charge of being a radical troublemaker and an instigator. The more Gideon tried to explain what happened, the less people listened. To those who admired him he was a hero, and they closed their minds to anything he said that cast doubt on himself.

     "Humble," they would say. "A true leader."

     Those who hated him heard his words as ridicule. They thought he was laughing at them. Gideon hadn't laughed at anything in a long time.

     He shrugged these thoughts off and walked to the van, his boots crunching across the rocky ground. He opened the door quietly and slipped inside. The small gas heater hissed softly.

     "Hello," Carmen said. She was sitting up in the bed, her pale, slender legs swinging over the side. She pushed them out then back, nervously, like a swimmer treading water at the edge of a pool. She took his jacket front in her small hands and pulled him to her, sucking in her breath as his cold clothes met her bare skin.

     "You're cold!" she whispered into his shirt. "Have you been outside long?"

    'Since midnight,' he thought, wondering why he couldn't remember any of all the things that had occupied his mind for six hours in the cold darkness. He knew nothing more of what he was going to do than he'd known when he left her sleeping so long before.

     "Not long," he said, his arms around her shoulders as she rocked him back and forth. She held tight to his waist.

     "I'm going to San Francisco," Carmen said.

     "What?" Gideon pulled back and she looked up at him, her blue eyes rimmed in red. He wondered if she, too, had been up all night.

     "My parents called yesterday, but I didn't know how to tell you," she said. Tears welled up but she fought them back. "They're taking me out of school."

     "Because of me."

     "Because of everything," Carmen said as the tears won out. "They told me to come home." She pulled him to her again and cried.

     "But you're going to San Francisco?" Gideon rested a hand against her cheek.

     "I called Molly last night before you came over," she said. Molly was Carmen's closest friend. She lived in San Francisco, writing some very good articles for a women's liberation newsletter while working as a waitress to pay her rent. "She told me I could stay with her."

     Gideon unwound himself from Carmen and sat down beside her on the bed.

     "And, besides," she wiped her eyes with the sheet, "I don't want to stay here after you've gone." As she said it they both realized his departure was only hours away. Gideon would be leaving at noon.

     She faced him then, her fingers working at the buttons of his shirt. She opened it and let her warm hands explore his chest. "I know it already," she said, not looking at his face. "I'm going to be lousy at saying goodbye."

     Gideon put his hands over hers and lifted them from his chest. He stood and walked to the cab of the van, returning with a small package in his hand. "It's a stupid present," he said. "But I'm going to give it to you, anyway."

     He handed it to Carmen, then turned away to hang his jacket on the chair. He heard her crying as she unwrapped it. Gideon kicked off his boots and removed his shirt, feeling the warmth of the van wash over him. When he looked back at her she was smiling.

     Carmen held the gift in her hands and her smile turned to a throaty laugh. His present to her was a small glass paperweight with a log cabin and tiny pine trees inside. When turned over, then righted again, the air around the cabin and trees was filled with thousands of tiny white snowflakes.

     "Oh, God," she said, laughing, "this is a stupid present!" She held it up, turned it over, then righted it again. Snowflakes. She looked at Gideon and cried.

     "Gideon," she called to him and he came to her. It was time to say goodbye.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEN ‑ THE EXIT

 

 

A large, restless crowd huddled together against the cold. A small, nondescript office on the fringe of Macalester College stood at their backs. They lined the curb of a branch parking lot and watched quietly as Gideon moved things around inside the van to make room for a stack of cardboard boxes. More boxes sat in unsteady stacks on the curb. The blue sky had returned to grey as Winter played its hand. The slight warmth Gideon had felt earlier that morning was gone, and a chilly wind had begun to blow.

     Gordon Cotton, ex‑president of the Students in Defense of the Third World and destined to become president again when Gideon left, stood beside the van. Next to him was the secretary of the Radical Speakers Bureau, a shivering young man named Carl Truman. They waited patiently to shake Gideon's hand, and let him know how proud they were to be waging revolution in such good company.

     Truman, a short, straight‑backed man with shiny, capped teeth and a mortician's smile, had originally wanted Gideon to use his Blackledge Foundation money to fly across the country instead of driving the van. Now, he stood proudly in the chill autumn day with even more vouchers, folders, maps and schedules overflowing his delicate hands. Carl Truman thought the Bureau was lucky to have the opportunity to hire so dedicated a brother as Gideon Holley, and he'd told him so.

     Gideon was close to tears, a very unfamiliar feeling for him. All he wanted was to stay in college and find a few friends, like J. and Carmen. He wanted to graduate and get an easy job with his uncle's farm supply store in Tallahassee, Florida. He had never wanted much.

     "You don't understand, Carl," Gideon had been smooth in convincing Truman that it would be so much better to use his van to travel from college to college.

 

     "It gives me more mobility." Gideon remembered how he stood defiantly before the young man a week before. "If something starts coming down around me, I can get out from under it in my van." He had watched Carl's determined face begin to crumble.

     "I'd be trapped if I had to wait for an airplane. Hell, the government controls those things anytime they want!" Gideon poked his finger into Truman's chest then, a gesture he despised, but he was on a roll and couldn't stop himself. And, it worked.

 

     "Well," Carl started. "Well ‑"

     "My effectiveness depends on my ability to do what has to be done without interference," Gideon was practically shouting, thinking how good it sounded.

     "But, the normal procedure ‑"

     "Normal, hell!" Gideon did shout. "These aren't normal times, Carl. Believe me," he added for effect, "I know!"

     Carl Truman bought it, and apologized for not having thought of it himself. Gideon breathed a sigh of relief. If he'd taken Carl's suggestion to fly from campus to campus he would have had no excuse for being late, or not showing up at all if, for some reason, he wanted to do something else.      

     This was something new to Gideon, and he wasn't sure he would be good at it. With his van, Gideon had an endless supply of excuses; flat tires and blown engines and bad brakes and heavy traffic and many other valid and wonderful reasons for not having to stand in front of several thousand eager and angry students, spilling out his revolutionary heart and soul.

 

 

Now, at the curb, Gideon stepped out of his van and everyone was talking at once. Hands shook his while mouths overflowed with radical cliches. Gordon Cotton pushed his way through the crowd and stood at Gideon's side. He was very glad to see Gideon leave. Gideon Holley was too much competition.

     Gordon Cotton was five feet and eleven inches tall in hiking boots, and had long, reddish‑blond hair. He also sported a ragged goatee. On the day Gideon left, Gordon was wearing a T‑shirt with a target printed on the chest. Inside the innermost black circle, directly over his heart, were two tiny words: bulls eye.

     Gordon shoved his hand into Gideon's and pumped it up and down furiously. "Power to the people!" he demanded.

     "Power," Gideon said. He looked around for J., knowing he wouldn't be there, but looking anyway.

     "Fuck the system," Gordon continued pumping Gideon's hand.

     "Fuck," Gideon said.

     Carl Truman stepped forward and held the pile of folders out to Gideon, explaining each one as he placed it in Gideon's outstretched arms.

     "This is your basic itinerary," Carl said, dropping the first folder into his arms. "It has the names of your contacts at each college, too."

     "Good."

     "This is your schedule of banking transactions. It lets you know which bank will be holding your money from the Foundation, and has slips authorizing you to get it."

     "Very good." Gideon continued the litany until the last folder changed hands, then leaned into the van and dumped them all into an empty cardboard box. Carl tapped his back timidly.

     "This is a big step for people's politics, Gideon."

     "Yeah," Gideon said as he pushed the box behind the driver's seat. When he turned back around Carmen was there. She was smiling, and her eyes sparkled.

     "I'm so proud of you!" She kissed him.

     "Yeah," Gideon said, distracted. "Proud."

     He hugged her, then waved grandly to the crowd like Eddie Rickenbacker, all set to fly away. He stepped into the cab. The crowd was cheering as he cranked the engine, and he smiled. When he looked out, he was surprised to see a magpie fly in front of the windshield. It turned its round head and, for a fraction of a second, looked at Gideon with eyes like oiled ball bearings.

     "Tweedle," the bird called as it flew out of sight.

     Gideon looked for the last time at the crowd, and his eyes stopped on Carmen. "I love you," her lips moved slowly, soundlessly forming the words. He nodded, a lump in his throat choking him. He put the van in gear and drove away. When he reached the outer fringe of the crowd, Gideon was surprised to see J. Hubbard standing alone, staring at something across the street. He blew the horn and waved, but J. didn't seem to notice.

     J. Hubbard didn't even see Gideon. He was watching a short, wiry man who looked to be about forty years old. The man had a long, incredibly twisted nose and dark, gold‑ rimmed glasses. His complexion was sallow, and his short, sandy hair was combed down in bangs across a tall forehead. He was wearing grey flared pants and a blue Nehru jacket. An enormous brass medallion hung from a thick chain around his neck.

     None of these things held J. Hubbard's attention. What had caught his eye was what the man was doing. He was talking into a flower that he held in his hand.

 

 

ELEVEN ‑ INSPECTOR MORANNE

 

 

Senator Pillhauser sucked on his pipe, then blew out an enormous cloud of bluish smoke and hid behind it as he carefully picked his words. As the smoke cleared he studied Inspector Moranne, and was slightly uncomfortable by the coolness the inspector showed in returning his stare.

     "Moranne," the Senator used his best voice, "I have a special assignment for you." He watched the blank face, looking for some weak point and finding none. "It's probably the biggest thing to go through BSI, and I want my best man on it."

     Moranne sat placidly. His small, wiry frame relaxed in the intentionally over‑stuffed chair that faced the Senator's desk in this plush office. His gold framed sunglasses hid blunt, brown eyes. The glasses seemed to be perched like a black butterfly on the bridge of his twisted nose. He smiled at Pillhauser's last sentence.

     "I want you to pick your best men, with you at the helm," Pillhauser continued. "You're more than likely going to be gone for quite a while."

     "Any idea how long?"

     "As long as it takes to burn this Gideon Holley," the Senator said. "I want him burned badly, Inspector."

     "I can do that," Moranne said, then smiled.

     "Yes, I know you can. But, let me make myself very clear. I don't want him to be a bother to me anymore." Pillhauser twisted his thick, soft hands together on the desk top, and Moranne's eyes narrowed behind the dark shades. "Don't get him for anything he can get out of, do you understand?"

     "I understand you completely, Senator," Moranne said. "As of this minute, Gideon Holley has ceased to be your problem."

     "That's it!" Pillhauser said. "That's what I need out there, Moranne!"

     "Yes, sir." The inspector smiled again. "Is that all?"

     "Yes," the Senator said. "Yes, that should just about do it."

     "Very well," Moranne rose from the chair and made his way to the doorway.

     "Inspector," Pillhauser almost shouted, "I do believe the hounds have the scent?"

     "You can count on it," Moranne said as he disappeared through the door.

 

 

Inspector Moranne was truly a bloodhound. Once on a case he never let up until the object of his chase had been devastated. He had been a flatfoot policeman for fifteen years before being promoted to the detective division. It was there he first began to shine. He'd shone so brightly, in fact, that the FBI had snatched him out of the hands of the division before he'd been there three years. Moranne, it seemed, simply picked up speed once on his way until he was unstoppable. Almost exactly two years before he had this conversation in the Senator's office, he'd left the FBI for a lucrative position in the Bureau of Subversive Investigations.

     Pillhauser had promised him complete control over the BSI's Criminal Division at triple his FBI salary. Moranne was no fool. He'd signed on immediately, and the Senator had kept his word.

     The problem for Moranne was that for these last two years, he'd felt like a flatfoot again. Keeping tabs on student radicals held about as much fascination for him as watching golf on television. Never had he seen such boring people.

     "Hell," he told one of his men, "they don't even screw with imagination."

    Two years of babysitting a bunch of big‑talk radicals who did nothing more daring in private than masturbate with the curtains open, saving all their escapades for the public eye, had left Moranne with an itch for something unusual. Gideon Holley was it.

     "Now," he said to himself as he poured himself a drink in his own office, going over the sparse files on Gideon, "now, the chase might get interesting."

     Moranne thought Pillhauser's concept of Gideon Holley being a Russian spy was idiotic. This wasn't surprising. Moranne thought Everett Pillhauser was an idiot. The inspector did believe, however, that Gideon was a dangerous man.

     This was a man, Moranne told himself, who never hesitated using violence, or coercing others to do so, yet he always played down his own role. He was devious and smart and, from the time Moranne was assigned to the case, as far as he was concerned, Gideon Holley was as good as dead.

     "Yes," Moranne said to his empty office, "this should be a good one."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWELVE ‑ ON THE ROAD

 

 

Road film sparkled on his windshield in the early, cold sunset, and became a blinding glare with each new turn to the West. He drove in unconscious motions as his hands deftly controlled the wheel. Eyes alert, ears hearing sounds and passing them along to the proper recipients, each action bypassing the thinking part of Gideon Holley's brain.

     The thinking part of Gideon Holley's brain was drowning in questions without answers.

     Light snow fell unnoticed as the van moved through rich crop and cattle lands, tight communities and small towns divided only by Interstate 35. Lands tended by communities of Polish, Swedish, and German Americans who loved their homes and their small towns. These lines of immigrant families had been unbroken until the Vietnam war began snatching their children away like the demonic spirits that haunted their collective European nightmares.

     Gideon spent that first day driving leisurely and feeling sorry for himself. He stopped at a small market just as the sun set, and checked his empty cabinets for supplies before going inside. Still numb from the unexpected changes in his life, he wandered from aisle to aisle, trying to bring back order by thinking of his immediate needs. He fought the glaze that covered his thoughts, and used his life‑long love of camping to assemble a mental list of necessities. He found a few fresh vegetables and dropped them into the little cart with the rest of his supplies. A grey- haired woman pulled them to her one at a time and inspected them before ringing them up.

     "You're lucky we still had some of them left," an old man behind the second counter said, leaning over to see what Gideon had bought. "A man brought them up from down south somewheres."

     "I guess I'm just a lucky guy," Gideon said.

     He found a state park late that evening, seventy miles north of Kansas City, and still open. The ranger told him he'd have the whole park to himself.

     "Good," Gideon said.

     "No tourists left this time of the year," the man said.

     "That's fine with me."

     "Just pick your spot."

     Gideon parked his van on a flat, gravel rectangle cut diagonally across a small plot marked 44B, and forced himself to move slowly, checking out his van before stepping into the sharp air. He tapped the gauge on his LP tank and, satisfied that he had plenty to heat the van during the trip, walked to the front of the van, sat on his warm hood for a while, and savored the silence. When the metal had cooled under him he rose, built a fire from existing wood at the neat campsite, and carefully cut the vegetables before dropping them into a water‑filled pot. He seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper, covered it, and set it aside until the fire had settled into a pool of glowing ash. Cold water from the small faucet still trickled to the ground and he leaned over, twisted it shut, then propped himself up on an elbow.

     "Damn," he said to himself, "I'm getting paid to do this."

     Gideon stared into the darkness beyond his fire and fought the confusion in his mind. He had never been an ambitious person, but wasn't plagued with self- doubt, either. He'd always been satisfied just to let things happen.

     As the stew cooked itself on the rocks, Gideon dropped his eyes to the silky ripples of fire that passed through the coals. He had found peace in campfires since childhood, and searched for it now.

     When the stew was settled on the coals, Gideon walked away across the hard, icy earth and vanished into the woods. He walked for over an hour, then used his fine sense of direction to bring himself back to the campfire. He gingerly lifted the pot off the rocks and inhaled the aroma from the stew.

     Gideon ate slowly, until he couldn't force another spoonful down, then got to his feet and walked again, this time in a different direction. After walking a good distance into the night, he came to a small clearing that sloped down to a little round pond. Overhead, luminous clouds had begun to gather. A line of scruffy trees were the only thing on the dark horizon. The thick, low clouds swirled like the mist had done in the familiar swamps of his youth, and promised him something he wanted desperately to see.

     Gideon had always wanted to see a real snow fall. He looked through a narrow opening in the heavy clouds and saw a forever black sky filled with bright, sparkling stars.

     "I'll be damned," he said, hating the sound of his own voice. He lay down on the ground and stared up at the sky, feeling his tensions ease as the cold seeped into his body. He lay there thinking, finding no answers but discovering how much less important the questions seemed.

     When numbness began to creep through him from the frozen earth he got to his feet and began to run. He ran around the small pond once, then again and again until his breath was raw from the crisp air. Finally, he slowed to a fast walk, each breath exhaled as a chuckle. Gideon had come to terms with himself.

     He thought of his new life as a radical and a lecturer, and thought of seeing America on somebody else's money. He slowed his pace and walked with heavy legs back to the clearing, then stopped and stared at the black pond for several seconds before returning to his van.

 

 

The morning of the second day he woke to find everything covered with snow. Crystals of ice had formed a delicate webbing on all the windows except the small pane of glass over the gas heater. The crystals had built over themselves during the night, layer upon layer and line upon line until the lace draped over each window was as different as a finger print, more beautiful than cut glass. The morning sun that burned its way through these panes turned his tiny home into a low budget cathedral.

     Gideon was from Graceville, Florida, not far from Tallahassee. He'd shivered only through stories of snow, anticipating a world of white while living in a world of permanent green. He hoped each year for a Christmas miracle, longed to see if each snowflake was unique, and dreamed of the taste of a big flake melting on his tongue.

     He had only seen the grey slush on the dirty streets and railroad rights‑of‑way outside St. Louis, Missouri, during an overnight train ride from one military base to another. When he looked out his van window at the transformed state park, he was out of his mind with excitement.

     "God, that's beautiful!" Gideon shouted, tossing off the quilts that covered him and leaping out of bed. He glanced briefly out each little window before flinging open the van door and jumping outside, barefoot and naked, into the snow. He took a deep breath, threw back his head, and laughed as the stinging cold engulfed him. Exhilarated, he let his vision caress the white snow, his senses running free as he bathed himself in the clean world he'd discovered.

     He spun around in a slow arc, taking it all in. When he had almost finished a full circle he saw a black panel truck parked less than one hundred feet away. He went back inside.

     Gideon dressed and straightened up the van while a pot of coffee perked on the gas hotplate, then ate a slow breakfast of cold cereal and hot coffee. He read through the pile of paperwork Carl Truman had given him. Carl had talked to Gideon about his schedule in the few days between his now famous takeover and his departure, but Gideon's mind had been in seclusion then. Now, as he leafed through the thick folders, he remembered little of their discussions.

     The paperwork gave him a tentative schedule of dates and events ‑ whom to meet and a summary of what each particular group at each particular campus was involved in. There were auto club maps and several credit cards with RADICAL SPEAKERS BUREAU stamped in official lettering on each. It created a sort of paradox. Carl had cashed the first voucher check for him the day before, and Gideon was amazed by how much money he had.

     "Remember to collect all your receipts, Gideon," Carl had said.

     "Sure."

     "You'll find a name on your itinerary for each campus. Just leave the receipts with them, and they'll forward them to the Bureau. Got it?"

     "Got it," it had been like a game, then. Now, alone in his van, things had taken on a more serious edge. He wished he'd listened closer as Carl rattled on.

     "The Bureau will send the receipts on to the Blackledge Foundation, and you'll have another check waiting for you at the next campus."

     Gideon had heard that part. He smiled, and thought how much better the world looked on that clean, white morning.

     He finished breakfast and put on his thick coat, took one last sip of coffee and opened the door to step once again into the snow. He slipped gloves on his hands as he crunched through the drifts, choosing a new direction for his morning walk.

     As Gideon disappeared through a white curtain of trees, a low groan reverberated off the thin, cold walls inside the black panel truck.

     "Oh, Jesus," a thin, dark man said. He ran numb fingers through his black hair. "There he goes again!"

     "Keep your voice down, Coletti!" Moranne hissed, his words turning to mist as they left his lips. He glanced over at his second man, Lobajeski, who lay curled up in the back corner of the panel truck, his gloved hands buried inside the pockets of a quilted jacket.

     "Your turn, Lobajeski," Moranne said.

     "Shit," it was this man's turn to groan.

     "You wanted this job."

     "Shit, anyway," the man reached back and swung open the back door of the panel truck, letting in air not much colder than that already inside. There was no heater except for the one in the dash, and they couldn't use it without running the engine. All three men were cold and miserable, and if it weren't for a strong chain of command, they would've been at each other's throats. Lobajeski stepped outside and closed the door.

     Moranne was humiliated, and it made the rage in him burn that much hotter; so much so that he alone in the panel truck was unaware of the cold. Here, in his first formal role as the true leader of Pillhauser's organization, he was being made a fool. He had assumed Holley would use his considerable money from the Blackledge Foundation to stay in fine motels along the way, but when Holley jumped naked out of his heated van and grinned at Moranne, the inspector recognized the challenge. Gideon had dropped the gauntlet by letting Moranne know he'd seen them, and knew he was being followed.

     "Holley must have a good network," Moranne thought bitterly as he flipped the scant few pages of the man's dossier.

     "Anything in there says he's the abominable fuckin' snowman?" Coletti said dryly.

     "God damn him," Moranne's intensity startled the other man. "He wouldn't have camped in this shitty snow unless he knew we didn't have any way to warm up this damned truck."

     "You think so, sir?"

     "I know it." The inspector watched the crazy pattern of heat dance from the exhaust stack in Gideon's van.

     "Bastard," he said. Lobajeski opened the door and stuck his head back in.

     "Where the hell did he go?"

     "That way," Coletti pointed in the direction Gideon had walked. Lobajeski rolled his shoulders inside the bulky jacket and stepped cautiously away from the truck. His eyes darted quickly from one side to another, then slowed to a full sweep. He smiled, satisfied that no one was watching, and trudged off on a line parallel to the route Gideon had taken, his footprints filling with black shadows under the morning sun.

 

 

Gideon relieved himself just inside the line of trees, then moved on. He had walked less than fifty yards when he met another set of deep footprints that drifted off in the general direction he'd intended to go. They were made by Sy Wallace, the park ranger who had tended this park for fifteen years. Every morning, just at daybreak, Ranger Wallace walked through the park and lovingly inspected the wilderness entrusted to him by the state.

     Gideon had no idea whose footprints they were, but he hesitated. He really wasn't in the mood to meet anyone out there, so he turned back toward his van. "I might as well make some miles," he said aloud. As he stepped back into the camping area he missed seeing the back of Lobajeski's quilted jacket as it disappeared through the trees.

     He opened the driver's side door and stepped inside his van, cranked the engine and turned on the heater. While the truck warmed up he went through the back, turning off the gas heater and securing his things. A look around satisfied him, and he returned to the driver's seat.

     "Here goes nothing," he said, and drove off.

     "Where the hell is Lobajeski?" Moranne was almost screaming as he watched Gideon drive away, tires spinning on the snow‑covered blacktop. Coletti peered hopelessly out into the white wilderness.

 

 

Lobajeski had been following the set of footprints through the snow for over an hour before he stepped silently around an outcropping of rock and came upon Sy Wallace, the park ranger. The man sat on his haunches, lighting a pipe.

     "Holy shit!" Lobajeski said.

     The ranger looked up into the thin, frantic face of Lobajeski, towering above him before a backdrop of Christmas card trees.

     "Lost?" Sy Wallace asked helpfully, puffing on his pipe.

 

 

 

THIRTEEN ‑ ALMOST FAMOUS

 

 

Gideon drove slowly through the falling snow. He tried to breath in the world around him and had to force himself to concentrate on the arcane business of staying on the road. Each farm, every white‑topped fence and tree filled him with a new wonder. The sun broke through at mid‑morning and sat on the edge of a smooth line of clouds, casting a brilliant light on the softly cushioned earth.

     As he drove farther west on Interstate 80, headed toward Denver, a few large flakes once again began drifting down in front of the van, and he encouraged them to fall. Gideon's mind was clear for the first time in months, now that he'd had time to himself to think things out. He began to consider what he was doing as fun.

     The storm built until he was driving through a wall of white, like a sheet of paper with no way to tell where the road stopped and the roadside began. There was no sky and no horizon and Gideon drove with his face to the windshield, searching madly for signs to show he was still on the highway.

     He was driving at less than 20 miles an hour when he saw the faint flashing of an electric sign at an exit just ahead. He could only make out one word, but that word was enough. It said EAT.

     Gideon headed down the ramp, made a guess as to where the parking lot was, and turned in. The van bounced violently as the right front tire struck the curb, followed closely by the rear wheel. When it lurched to a stop, it was parked in front of the little cafe.

     "Not bad," Gideon congratulated himself. He slid back the door and hopped to the ground, closed the door and ran toward the glass door of the cafe. He pushed it open and twisted inside, looking around at the empty room before choosing a table along the front wall.

     CREDIT MAKES ENEMIES, a paper sign above the counter confided, SO LET'S BE FRIENDS.

     "What can I get for you?" asked a soft voice at Gideon's side, startling him. He glanced up from the simple menu and saw an angel of a girl, probably not sixteen years old. Black hair fell in millions of curls across her shoulders, and her eyes were dark and filled with an innocence that unsettled Gideon. Deep in his mind he wished her luck.

     "Sir?" the girl asked nervously as he stared. She stood straight, with an easy grace. Her uniform was clean and fresh, red trim on white with Charlotte sewn in off‑red above the lace pocket.

     "I'm sorry," Gideon mumbled. "'Guess all the snow went to my head."

     The girl smiled and accepted the lie, but she knew why he was staring at her. Everyone told her she looked like an angel. Gideon ordered breakfast and, when the girl stepped into the kitchen, he got to his feet and wandered around restlessly. He watched the near blizzard while listening to the slow growl of traffic that passed on the interstate.

     A newspaper, scattered across one of the small Formica tabletops, caught his eye, and he walked to it. He pushed aside the want ads marked with pencil lines, ignored the sports section and pulled the front page to the top. It occurred to him that he could scan current events and use his travel time to come up with a few usable speeches to satisfy not only a crowd of student radicals, but his new bosses as well.

     The stark headline described a major offensive in Vietnam with accompanying photographs. Below this, in an article on a bloody demonstration at a concert south of Denver, Gideon saw his name in print for the first time. It was only a small notation, but he was overwhelmed. The journalist, in an attempt to explain the two deaths and many injuries at the mountaintop concert, tried making a comparison:

        "This kind of violent reaction to police intervention," the writer said, "has become popular since the Democratic National Convention in Chicago brought out a new breed of agitator. The reckless        anger of the Chicago Seven and the dangerous antics of cult heroes like Gideon Holley make these kinds of demonstrations inevitable."

     Cult hero. Gideon read the paragraph over and over again, fascinated by the idea that people knew who he was, horrified by the idea of being thought dangerous. He hoped his Uncle John hadn't read anything like it back home.

     The young girl brought a tray of food to Gideon's table and he took the front page with him, reading as he ate. He leafed through the pages to see if there were any photographs of him inside and felt foolish when he saw none.     

     He looked toward the kitchen and met a set of cold, green eyes staring at him from behind the counter. The green eyes were trapped in a face that resembled Charlotte's, but was three times as old. They were stuck like mountain climbers in an avalanche of flesh.

 

     Gideon rose from the table and let out a contented grunt, smiled at the fat woman and walked toward the counter. He dug into the pockets of his jeans. "That was a great breakfast."

     "Yeah," she said, punching at the cash register. Gideon glanced past her to the kitchen and saw young Charlotte standing just inside the doorway, mocking the old woman's gestures and giggling. She noticed Gideon, blushed, and stepped back into the darkness behind the door.

     Gideon smiled again at the woman as she handed him his change. She tried out the feel of a new smile herself but it failed her, so she let it go.

     "Eight‑twenty's your change, sir," she said. "Thank you, and hurry back."

     He slipped into his coat and pushed open the door, catching his breath as the cold air raced past him into the cafe. He stepped into the van, cranked the engine, backed out cautiously and drove once again out onto the great, white highway.

 

Moranne wasn't too concerned about losing Gideon. He had copies of Gideon's schedule and programs, and would soon have copies of all his receipts as well. Moranne wasn't afraid of losing him, but he was afraid he'd miss seeing and studying everyone Gideon came in contact with along the way. He thought there was a possibility that Gideon was using the Radical Speakers Bureau as a front, traveling around setting up an organized, violent revolution.

     As Gideon was paying for his breakfast at the cafe, Inspector Moranne was signing a travel voucher of his own. "If Pillhauser wants Holley's head on a platter," Moranne told his men, "then, he'll have to pay for it."

     He handed over a government check to Stanley Greenhouse, owner and proprietor of Greenhouse Winnebago Sales and Rentals. The inspector had just leased a Winnebago deluxe camper, complete with hookups for water and lights. It had a stove, refrigerator, three separate beds, a shower and a commode. It also had gas heat. The three men were very pleased with their newly acquired luxuries.

     They found Gideon again late that evening in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His van was parked in the wide parking area beside the Howard Johnnson's Motor Lodge, just off the interstate. Moranne checked with the night clerk and found Gideon was staying in room 212. When he returned to the Winnebago, Moranne kicked a small, but noticeable, dent in the left front fender.

 

 

     Gideon took a long, hot shower, then soaked for an hour in a tub of water. Later, he turned on the television and found an old Bogart film on one of the channels. He had bought a thin science fiction novel in the lobby downstairs. The title was Revolt on Jupiter, by Colin Rogue. Gideon lay back on the bed and read the book, watching the television each time his eyes roamed to the top of a page. He fell asleep with the finished paperback lying face down on his chest and an Indian staring at him through a hissing test pattern.  By noon the next day he was outside Sante fe, New Mexico, heading steadily south toward Albuquerque.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I said how weird it was that we kept crossing each other's path in the most unlikely places, and this was no exception. I had been at the riot south of Denver. The article I wrote there from the demonstrators' point of view was the first piece of work I ever did that wound up in print. I traded the account, raw as it was, to a small underground newspaper for a full meal and a place to sleep.

     The next morning I stood on an entrance ramp to Interstate 25 South for several hours in a bitter wind before catching a ride with a beautiful Italian woman from Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Her name was Esther Scianablo, and she had driven her new Mercedes 450SL across the country. Now, she was getting close to her destination ‑ Sante fe, New Mexico.

     Esther owned a small shop in New York City that handled Indian jewelry and curios. She was mad about Indians. Esther confessed she had two motives for coming to Sante fe. Her business motive was to bid on several quantities of turquoise, and finished belts. Her other motive for driving all this way was, as she said, to be screwed to death by an Indian.

     Esther wasn't interested in blacks or Puerto Ricans or Chinese, she said, because they were as well off as anybody. She was only second‑generation American, so her family couldn't have had anything to do with massacring Indians, raping squaws or stealing land. At the time this type of activity was all the rage in America, her ancestors were living in Italy, making olive oil and babies.

     I asked her why she felt such a love for Indians.

     "Because they've suffered," she said. Esther wanted scores of Indians to lie on her belly so she could make them whole. I told her my grandmother was full‑blooded Cherokee, but she wasn't aroused.

     Esther let me out of her Mercedes in Old Sante Fe, and I spent three hours trying to find the interstate again. It ended on one side of Sante Fe and began again on the other. Inside the city itself, there were no noticeable signs to guide me back to it. There were only a few teasing hints.

     I was only two hundred yards from the street leading to the interstate when I saw Gideon's blue van pass by, headed south. I felt badly about it, not only because I needed a ride, but because I would've liked the chance to talk to Gideon and ask what was going on. He was getting very popular in radical circles. I dropped my packs and my guitar and waved my arms, but he didn't see me. I picked up my belongings and walked to the ramp, watching for traffic coming out of Sante Fe.

 

 

 

 

FOURTEEN ‑ ALBEQUERQUE

 

 

Gideon dipped the nose of his van into the congested parking lot, his eyes searching for an empty parking place as his hands twisted the steering wheel, trying to avoid running over the swarming mass of communal freaks whose inner hallucinations had leaked out onto their clothing like multi‑colored lava, burying faded jeans and ginghams under a tide of patches, slogans and bright needlepoint. Over these bright colors spread a subtle, earthy stain of dust, grease and urine.

     Their glances darted into the cab of the van like field mice, their faces overflowing with smiles and warmth and dilated pupils as their bare feet bounced across the icy pavement with an emotion they, unlike the faces, could not hide. They waved at Gideon as they passed in their little parade, hair free‑flowing in a still life explosion.

     "Come to the mountains, brother," one of the freaks shouted, "and you'll be free!"

     "Yes!" a young girl, probably not over fifteen, said ecstatically. Gideon watched her beautiful face and thought of Charlotte back at the diner. She would probably wind up here. "You'll find God in the mountains!"

     "I thought I told him to stay home," Gideon said.

     "What?" the young girl paused, her head cocked to one side like a puppy.

     "Nothing," Gideon said, shaking his head as she skipped away to join the others. He eased ahead and searched up and down the rows of cars for an empty spot to park, finally finding one. He stood on shaky legs as he locked the van, making it more difficult for his belongings to become community property. He stomped his pants legs down over his boots, and slipped the keys into his pocket.

     "Fuck socialism," he said, fingering the keys.

     Gideon moved stiff‑legged across the parking lot, bending his long frame around to work out the driving cramps. He walked up to the side of a big, brown building, and passed a sign that pointed a black arrow at a basement entrance.

     KUNM, Campus radio, the sign said.

     Gideon turned and followed the arrow down a set of dirty steps into the basement, ducking his head as a quick wind tossed sand in his face. He stepped inside and walked along a dark corridor lighted by black lights and intricate Da‑Glo posters. A young girl, leaning against the wall, smiled at him. Her teeth shone like light bulbs under the black lights.

     "May I help you?" she asked.

     "Yeah," Gideon answered. "How do I get to the programs office?"

     "Which one?" she looked at him closely.

     "Well...," Gideon hesitated, unsure of whom he was supposed to see. "I'm from the Radical Speakers Bureau, and ‑"

     "You're Gideon Holley?" she interrupted.

     "Yes," he said, wondering how she knew who he was.

     "Well, fuck me," she said as an exclamation, not an invitation. "Biff just sent me over there to see when you were supposed to arrive."

     "Biff?"

     "Yeah," she pointed to a tiny window full of light, shining like a beacon at the end of the hall, "Biff. Benjamin Franklin Todd, KUNM's most popular disc jockey."

     "He's in?"

     "Yeah, come with me." The girl turned her back to Gideon and led him down the hall.

     "My name's Dora," she called out, not looking back. "I'm the program director." She disappeared through the door, then came back out a minute later and held it open.

     "Come on in," Dora said.

     Gideon walked into the small cubicle and almost fell to the floor when he saw the poster that had been taped to the wall above the console. It was a frightening photograph. In it, an angry young man, his face painted with streaks of blood, was being ushered past a crowd of screaming, tattered young people by a half‑dozen stone-faced policemen. Under the photograph, black gothic letters proclaimed, GIDEON HOLLEY, NEW ORLEANS, 1969.

     Below this, in smaller print, it said, 'Gideon Holley to Visit Radical Indian Caucus Saturday, November 15.'

     The angry young man in the grainy photograph was Gideon Holley. Gideon was shocked.

     "Hey, are you okay?" a voice swam around him. Dora touched his arm, her eyes full of concern as he shook his head and looked down at her.

     "That's me," he said, pointing up at the photograph.

     "Yeah," she said dreamily. "Great picture."

     Gideon looked around him at the crowded room, alphabetized record boxes overflowing with albums, and more records scattered on the floor. Thirty or forty more were spread in disarray on the counter top between two turntables, one spinning and one still. A boom microphone hung from a spring arm above a face almost completely hidden by thick, curly hair, blacker than night. A round nose sat like a rock on moss, and two dark pools of eyes flashed in the clearing above.

     "Hi, there!" said the face as a hand flew toward Gideon from below the counter. He shook the hand.

     "Hello."

     "I'm Biff Todd," the face became a person. This person pulled back and stared at Gideon, fingers tugging at his beard. "So, you're Gideon."

     "That's me."

     "Pleased to meet you, brother."

     Gideon winced. "My notes said to come here first."

     "Yeah," Biff Todd said. "They're having a meeting over at the programs office, and they're expecting you." He waved toward Dora. "Why don't you take Gideon over there?"

     "Fine," she said. "Fine."

     The music faded, and Biff raised his hand again, this time for silence. He turned nimbly and dropped the arm of the second turntable down gently on another record, gave the turntable a practiced half‑spin backward and turned a knob on the console.

     "That was Janis Joplin with A Piece of My Heart," Biff crooned into the microphone. "Now, what do you say we listen to a few cuts from Steve Miller's new album?" As soon as the music started he twisted the internal volume control to low.

     "Take him over to programs and introduce him," Biff said to Dora, then tossed a smile to Gideon. "I'll get the word out that you're here." He turned around on the stool and clamped the headphones down over his ears as his fingers searched through a box of records.

 

 

The moment Gideon and Dora walked around the side of the building, they were struck by a volley of laughter and music. Gideon stared into a swirling wall of sand mixed with light snowflakes and saw an ocean of students flowing in and out of the union. Three longhaired students with long, silky beards, sat on the edge of a small patio and made sweet music with a guitar, a banjo, and a flute.

     Before they were halfway across the square, headed toward a group of low, pink adobe structures united by a series of walls and rock gardens, someone shouted his name.

     "Gideon!" the name was said with excitement. "Hey, it's Gideon!" He looked around and saw several students shouting and waving at him. He felt light headed again.

     "How do they know me?" he asked, genuinely confused.

     "God," Dora said, "everyone knows you."

 

                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

FIFTEEN ‑ THE WHITE SAVIOR

                                                                                     

 

"This is Gideon Holley," Dora announced, one hand lightly touching the small of his back as she waved the other in a wide arc over the seated circle of young Indians. "Gideon, these guys are the inner core of the Radical Indian Caucus."

     The young Indians stood and Gideon nodded uneasily at them. They followed suit.

     "Well," Dora said, "I'll get back to the station and let you get started." She backed smoothly to the door and was gone.

 

     "Welcome to Albuquerque," one of the Indians stepped forward and shook Gideon's hand formally. "I'm George Two Throws. George Cly to most whites."

     George acted like a businessman greeting an auditor, and it made Gideon nervous. Up until this second, he thought he could pull it off; but now, in the moment of truth, his will failed him.

     "One question," Gideon said.

     "Shoot."

     "Who the hell invited me here?" He looked them over, surprised by his own bluntness, but too embarrassed to continue. "I'm sorry, but I don't know a fucking thing about Indians." They glanced at each other, puzzled expressions dancing across their dark, serious faces.

     "We thought you were gonna be our white savior," one of the other Indians said. "You don't know nothing?"

     "It's worse than that," Gideon went on, unable to stop himself from telling the truth. "Until I met a girl last month at college, I thought Custer was one of the good guys!"

     George chuckled, squinting at Gideon out of the corners of his eyes. "Are you serious?"

     "Yes," Gideon felt like a fool. "Yes, I'm serious. In the last few weeks they've tried to turn me into Che Guevara, but inside," he tapped his chest, "I'm still Ozzie and Harriet."

     The group of Indians seemed to relax a little as Gideon tramped around in a circle, his breath whooshing in and out as he tried desperately to gain control of himself.

     "I'm sorry," he said again. "All the way here I've been making up speeches, and trying to learn what's going on; but I don't know shit."

     "Yeah?" George said.

     "Yeah. I tried to tell them I didn't know anything, but nobody listened to me."

     "Well, see?" George grinned. "There's one thing we have in common already."

     "What's that?"

     "Nobody listens to us, either."

     Gideon watched their faces, endured the silence. "I have a feeling I'm not going to be in the speech‑making business long."

     "Oh, I don't know," a tall, round shouldered man leaning on the back wall said, "that was a pretty good one right there." The others laughed.

     Everyone stared at Gideon. George walked to the door and locked it, silently pulling curtains together over the windows. Gideon eyed the others with a growing fear. Not one of them moved.

     George leaned down out of Gideon's sight and nodded at the others. As he stood, he held something up toward him. Almost too scared to look, Gideon let his gaze drop to the object in George's hand. It was a can of Schlitz.

     "Gideon," the Indian said, "I think we're gonna get along just fine."

     Gideon took the beer from George and opened it, relaxing as he watched the slow smiles building on the faces in the group. They came forward and introduced themselves, shaking his hand until it throbbed.

     "By the way," an Indian named Ernesto said, "you were invited here by Russ Benedict, a white guy over at the Radical Students Association."

     "What's he like?"

     "He's a fucking clown," George leaned into the conversation. He slapped Gideon's arm and pointed to the floor. "Have a seat."

     He folded his large body down onto the bare concrete floor and slapped the space beside him. Gideon sat cross legged and finished off his beer. Someone handed him another one. Before darkness fell they were all rip‑roaring drunk. On top of that, someone began passing around zeppelin sized joints and soon the air was thick as wool in the bitter‑ sweet smoke.

     Toward the end of the evening, an older man named Harry crawled across the room to where Gideon was sprawled, a beer on his chest and a rolled‑up throw rug under his head. Harry was a muscular giant, and his black eyes were deep and thoughtful. "My name is Gaagii," he said, "but you can call me Harry."

     "Okay," Gideon said, hoping to make it through the night.

     "You know," Harry belched as he lay down beside Gideon, "our biggest problem ain't the shit the government feeds us." He pointed a finger big as a car axle at Gideon. "Hell, man, you can develop a taste for shit. Our biggest problem is that no one'll leave us alone."

     He crumpled his empty beer can and reached into the pocket of his denim jacket for another. "The only time they leave us alone is when one of our kids gets sick, or when we start talking about human rights."

     Gideon could think of nothing to say.

     "The one thing," Harry pointed the finger skyward, "that is prob'ly the main thing driving Induns crazy is the God damned Indun Tours."

     "The what?" Gideon asked, curious as to why a bunch of Indians taking tours would be a factor in driving them crazy. He wondered where the government made them go as he sipped the beer.

     "The Indian Tours!" Harry shouted, obviously angry just from thinking about it. "A bunch of white assed tourists ‑" he paused, chuckled.

     "Do you know that our ancestors, when they saw their first white man, called him "white‑ass?" Harry asked, and Gideon shook his head drunkenly. "They've always pretended we were saying 'white eyes.' It sounds so much more respectable."

     He shook his head, too, and grinned at Gideon. "Where was I?" he said. "Oh, yeah. A bunch of white‑assed tourists come to where we live every day ‑ busloads of them! And they walk around taking pictures asking us when the rain dance is gonna be, and how come we don't keep our kids clean." His anger was building.

     "Gideon," he said, "we ain't got a damned thing out there but dirt and things we scrounged out of junk yards, and the fucking tourists steal us blind." He lay back and belched again.

     "I don't know how you take it," Gideon said. "I mean, I never even gave it a thought before now. I'm just like the rest, though, I guess."

     "You think so?"

     "Well, yeah," Gideon struggled to a sitting position. "Didn't somebody call me the White Savior? Your Great White Brother, sent here to lead you out of the darkness, right?"

       "Right," George said from across the now subdued room. "Only you at least spared us a long night of the we're‑all‑brothers‑of‑the‑revolution shit we usually get. You ain't half bad."

     "Prob'ly less than half," Harry said, and they laughed.

     "No, Gideon," George said, "We ain't holding it against you. We ain't brothers, but that don't mean we ain't riding in the same boat."

     "Yeah," Gideon said, laughing while trying not to laugh. "I have to admit, though, when Harry said that thing about Indian Tours, all I could think of was busloads of Indians with cameras and tour books."

     The room got quieter still.

     "What did you say?" Harry sat up beside him. Gideon hoped he hadn't said something out of place. He repeated his vision to Harry, as the others listened.

     "Gideon," George Two Throws began laughing, "you're a genius."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIXTEEN ‑ THE INDIAN TOURS

 

 

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon. The sky was ocean blue and decorated tastefully with patches of high, billowing clouds. Under this perfect Sunday sky lay the perfect layout of Legend Estates.

     Legend Estates was upper‑middle class and boasted of it, shouted it with every sculptured hedge and every landscaped rock garden. Thick, green grass covered the malt‑ brown earth. The grass was clipped and healthy. The houses of Legend Estates were spacious, and modernly ornate. Two lawn mowers created an out of sync pattern of sound waves that droned sleepily through the neighborhood.

     Ron Lash, a middle aged public relations man, lay in his hammock and watched a football game on his tiny Sony television. The hefty linebacker for the Washington Redskins was two inches tall. The entire football team looked like it weighed only ounces, but Ron didn't mind. He had one hundred and fifty dollars riding on this team and they were winning. They were the favored team of Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America.

     Ron Lash had lived in Legend Estates for three years, and he loved his home. He was the first one to notice the old school bus that swung up onto the winding road to Legend Estates, and he was vaguely curious as to what it was doing in this part of town.

 

 

Chester Peterback and his wife, Veronica, were leaning over the smoking barbeque grill, eyes watering as they whispered.

     "Four seventy‑five for this god damned steak and I gotta give it to a sonofabitch I don't even like?" Chester hissed.

     "Chester ‑" Veronica looked worried.

     "God damned Bradley didn't even say he was coming!"

     "Oh, pooh," she said to Chester. Veronica always said that when he got mad. It was her way of soothing him. 'Besides,' she said to herself, 'Tim Bradley's the Second Junior Executive Vice‑President of Robard's Phosphates.' Chester was only a salesman.

    'But, he's a good salesman,' she reminded herself. She backed away from the cloud of smoke, holding a platter full of four dollar and seventy‑five cent steak in her right hand. On her apron was printed the word SLAVE.

     Chester's apron said MASTER.

     Veronica had just reached for the salad bowl when she noticed an old bus rattling its way up the street. On the side of the bus was a hand‑painted canvas sign that announced: INDIAN TOURS.

     "Chester?" Veronica tugged at her husband's arm, causing him to drop the plastic pepper shaker onto the hot grill.

     "God damn it, Ronnie!" Chester said.

 

 

As the bus hissed to a stop the neighborhood came alive. Heads turned, mowers stopped mowing, curtains were pulled back and windows were stared through. In the secure world of Legend Estates, the old school bus wouldn't have been more out of place if it had been a flying saucer, filled to the brim with little green men. When the doors to the old bus wheezed open, what emerged was even more frightening to the happy folks at Legend Estates. The intruders were big, red men. And women. And children. They swarmed out of the bus like ants at a picnic, pouring across the landscaped lawns and rock gardens, pausing every few seconds to snap photographs with an old Brownie, or a pocket instamatic.

     "What the fuck?" Chester said.

     "Chester!" Veronica let her fingers flutter over her mouth, tasting the sound of the word.

     "It's fuckin' Indians!" Chester screamed now, watching the dark faces spreading across the lawn. Some were headed in his direction.

 

 

Gideon sat behind the wheel of the old school bus, his foot on the brake as the engine idled in neutral. He looked out from under the bill of the oversized driver's cap that kept flopping down over his eyes. He was laughing at the first wave of Indian tourists that had begun spreading out across the lawns when George Two Throws stopped beside him.

     "Here goes nothing," George said, slapping Gideon on the shoulder. Gideon remembered saying the same thing the day he left the campgrounds.

 

 

Chester Peterback smiled as he watched Tim Bradley crawl under the redwood picnic table, scuffing his grey polo shirt in the process. "I won't be a coward!" Chester shouted at him, at the world. He stepped in front of Veronica and held a barbeque fork out like a lance.

     "They're going to rape me, Chester!" Veronica cried against his back. Her eyes were wide.

     "Shut up, Ronnie!" Chester said.

 

 

A tension spread to the outer fringes of the red tide of tourists. People ran, cursed and screamed to their hearts' content. Paranoid fantasies flourished. It was somewhat like a group encounter session, though no one noticed the therapeutic worth of it, at the time.

 

 

Calvin Cooder climbed over the side of his swimming pool to see why there was so much noise in the neighborhood.  He opened the wooden gate attached to a tall fence surrounding his pool and stared outside, paralyzed in fright. His wife, Laura, walked up behind him, her wet, bare feet making loud slapping noises on the clay tiles.

     "What is it, Cal?" she asked.

     "Jesus!" Calvin answered.

     "Jesus?" Laura's mouth dropped open as she imagined the second coming right there in Legend Estates. She looked past Calvin to see a tall, muscular Indian holding a tiny instamatic camera up to his face.

     "Smile," the indian said, and snapped their picture.

     "Jesus!" Calvin repeated himself, slamming the gate shut and locking it.

     "What is it, Daddy?" his two young daughters were hopping up and down. "What is it, Daddy?"

     Cal looked at his twins, their white‑blond hair falling in straight, wet strands across tanned shoulders, the dripping ends almost touching the mere suggestions of breasts that hid behind matching bikini tops.

     "Good God, Laura," his breathing was ragged, "take the children inside and lock the doors!" As he watched his wife and children hurry across the patio to the french doors, Calvin searched the pool area frantically for a weapon. He chose a long‑handled pool rake.

 

 

"Did you make that yourself?" Hank Cly said to Chester Peterback, pointing to the long barbeque fork in Chester's hand. Chester's eyes became glassy.

     "Aaaah!" he said, swinging at Hank with the fork. Hank pulled the fork from Chester's hand and punched him in the eye.

     "Owee!" Chester cried out, falling backward as he grabbed at his face. He stumbled over Veronica, and they fell to the ground.

 

 

Gideon watched with a sick feeling as he sat in the bus. He thought it was going to be funny, and maybe even enlightening. He heard a fluttering of wings and looked up to see a magpie land on the hood. He couldn't believe his eyes. He knew without proof that it was the same bird he'd seen the morning he left Macalester. The same bird he'd seen later the same day. He just didn't know why.

     "It is odd," he said to himself. He leaned his head out the bus window and looked at the bird.

     "Are you following me around?" Gideon asked the magpie, grateful no one was around to hear him.

     "Tweedle?" the bird responded.

     "What are you?"

     "Tweedle," the bird said as it flew away.

 

 

A free‑for‑all was taking place on Ron Lash's lawn. He and his brother‑in‑law were busily wrestling with two young Indians while others seemed to be randomly fighting around them. Ron's television was lying on its side in the grass. A two inch half‑back was running straight up toward the sky while others chased him with apparent ease.

 

The screaming wail of sirens filled the still, Sunday air as swarms of police cars swung skillfully into the main road of Legend Estates. Uniformed policemen poured across the lawns, hacking very selectively at heads and backs as they ran.

     Gideon watched helplessly from the bus window as the white residents cheered. The cavalry had arrived in the nick of time.

 

 

SEVENTEEN ‑ A HIGHER AUTHORITY

 

 

"I'm sorry, Mr. Moranne," Police Chief Lilly shook his head, "But I ain't about to let that bastard go free!"

     "It's inspector," Moranne said. "Inspector Moranne." He sat down on the chief's desk and raised a hand to calm the large man, reaching into his coat pocket with the other.

     "Well, excuse the shit out of me, Inspector."

     "I have a letter here I think will change your mind," Moranne said warmly, ignoring the sarcasm. He handed the folded sheet of paper to Chief Lilly.

     "I don't give a good god damn if it's signed by the President of the ‑ good lord!" Lilly's defiance melted and he whistled in awe. Moranne watched him closely.

     The chief re‑read the letter, then handed it back to the Inspector. He leaned forward in his chair and pushed a button on his intercom. "De bussy," Chief Lilly's voice broke as he talked into the plastic box. He was disappointed. "Get Gideon Holley out of the cell and tell him he's free to go." He listened testily as a tinny voice objected.

     "Just tell him the charges against him were dropped," the Chief said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EIGHTEEN ‑ PROTECTION THROUGH ORGANIZATION

 

 

Gideon left Albequerque at one‑thirty Monday afternoon after trying in vain all morning to find someone at the college who could get his friends out of jail. The first person he'd searched out was Russ Benedict of the Radical Students Association.

     "Gideon Holley!" An incredibly average young man rose from behind a desk and leapt forward to take Gideon's hand. "I'm Russ Benedict, brother."

     He gave Gideon the secret handshake ‑ fingers gripping the back of the palm, thumbs interlocking above. Actually, it wasn't all that secret. In the early 60s, drivers of certain sports cars and Volkswagen beetles would beep their horns at each other in passing. The handshake was like that.

     "Beep," Russ Benedict said.

     "Beep," Gideon repeated, reluctantly.

     "They called from the office and said you wanted to see me." Russ Benedict was overwhelmed. He had practiced formula living all of his young life. He went through high school at the top of his class, though none of his classmates would remember him if asked. One teacher, an English teacher, still remembered.

     "Polite," she would say, if asked.

     Russ Benedict stood five feet and nine inches in height. An average height. He had brown hair and plain brown eyes and a face that vanished in people's memories like disappearing ink. He believed only hard workers excelled, so he worked hard.

     People from the national offices of the Radical Students Association would say, "Get that guy ‑ what's his name? ‑ from the University of New Mexico to do it. He's a hard worker."

     Now, Russ stood facing Gideon Holley and slipped his secret handshake casually into his pocket. He ushered Gideon into the small room someone had given him for an office.

     "What can I do for you?" Russ asked sincerely.

     "You can get George Two Throws and about forty‑five other Indians out of that fucking jail for starters."

     "Yes, George Cly," Russ said, shaking his head sadly. "It's a shame how America treats its original citizens, isn't it?"

     He looked at Gideon as a father looks at a foolish son. "That was good guerilla theater you guys threw at them yesterday. But, you really should've notified us here at RSA first, so we could have sanctioned it."

     "Sanctioned what?" Gideon was dumbfounded.

     "Well, you see," Russ said patiently, "if we had been aware of it, we could've brought it under the heading of an RSA activity. We could've approved it."

     "Approved it?"

     "Yes, Gideon. If it had been RSA approved, we could raise bail money and legal fees; but, now it's up to the Radical Indian Caucus. It was their operation."

     "They are in jail," Gideon said tersely.

     "A damned shame, too," Russ said, pulling the secret hand out to wring it with the other. "Damned shame." Gideon stared at him.

     "But these people need help."

     "It has to be this way, Gideon," Russ said. "We only have protection through organization."

     "It sounds like the god damned Mafia to me," Gideon spun away and headed for the door.

     "Say, Gideon," Russ called out to him, "I'm organizing a Chicano Independence Day in the spring. I'll try to book you in here."

     Gideon couldn't speak, so he kept walking, fists shoved into his baggy trousers.

 

 

He took Interstate 40 out of Albuquerque and headed west, his mind in deep water again. He could see George's sad smile each time he blinked his burning eyes. The Indian's last words to him echoed through his mind in a sandpaper whisper.

     "Good luck, Gideon," George had said. "We tried."

     "Yeah, and look where you are."

     George gauged Gideon's own sadness and laughed an honest laugh. "Hey, man, don't worry about us!" he said.

     "Yeah," Harry Highhawk leaned into the bars and grinned. "We got 'em by the balls!"

     Gideon stared at him, puzzled by his statement. The entire group, even the young ones, were calm and happy. All those fascinating faces smiling at him, not contentedly but more as though they knew the punch line to a joke when no one else did. He remembered George telling him how they had once scoffed at their parents and the older members of the tribe for being hang‑around‑the‑fort Indians, and Uncle Tom‑ Toms. Then, they realized how hard their elders had worked for the little they had, and the things they'd done, they'd done for their children. It made them sad.

     "Shit, yeah, we got 'em," George's deep voice brought Gideon back. "While we're in here, they got to feed us. You don't know how much a hungry Indun can eat."

     Ernesto laughed. "Besides, the food's better here than what we get at home, and there ain't hardly any bugs in here."

     "That's not all," George said. "This place is heated!"

     "Damn it," Gideon said. "I tried to get help."

     "We know that, man," George said. "Now, go on and get outa' here before you wind up liking the taste of shit."

     The men at the bars turned away from Gideon and joined their friends in the center of the cell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NINETEEN ‑ THE SANDMAN

 

 

He drove hard from Albuquerque, watching the grey skies ahead of him as he passed through the desolate countryside. He made good time until he came to Grants. The weather had worsened every few miles as he approached the pass, but as he pushed upward it became worse every few feet. He kept the van in first gear and managed to get through without stalling or going off the road, but by the time he began moving again normally, he was exhausted.

     Gideon concentrated on his driving, moving carefully along the snow‑covered highway. He watched a snow plow trudging through the other two lanes, working its way back toward the pass. It threw snow over its shoulder in a graceful arc.

     His next stop was Flagstaff, Arizona, but though he'd been on the road for a little over three hours he was tired. Six miles west of Grants, Gideon saw two signs. BLUEWATER ‑ 1 MILE, one said.

     The other, a 4X8 sheet of plywood painted white with blue letters said, BLUEWATER LAKE, LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN ‑ EL. 8110 ‑ CAMPGROUNDS.

     Gideon sighed, a tired smile creeping across his face. He began looking for a store.

     "Bluewater," he whispered the name.

 

 

Gideon finished his last hot dog and lay back against his bedroll, watching as the light from the fire danced upon the side of his van. An eerie darkness had settled on the world around him as he ate, and now, not one star could be seen through the thick clouds. The snow was coming again. He pulled his jacket tighter around him as the cold, dry air moved in silently, thoroughly.

     He tried to force his mind to recall the last two months, but he got nothing but static. "Maybe it's better this way," he said as he felt a soft flurry of snow run across his cheek. "It sure won't do me any good to think about it."

     He settled back still further into the bedroll and thought of the distant past instead. He thought of how his mother had given him hot tea with milk on nights not half as cold as this. He would sip it and grin at her as his eyelids drooped.

     "Here comes the sandman," she would whisper, pulling the blanket up under his chin.

     Gideon sat up reluctantly and tossed another handful of branches into the fire. He got to his feet, stretched, then opened his sleeping bag and rolled it out onto the snow. He put another sleeping bag over the first to keep the cold out, arranging the tent top of the upper bag to keep the snow off his head. He tossed even more wood on the fire as he crawled into the bag.

     "Here comes the sandman," he said, falling asleep instantly.

 

 

He woke the next morning under a thin blanket of snow. He squinted his eyes against the bright, white drifts that lay around him and pulled himself out of the sleeping bag. He saw a Winnebago motor home parked several hundred feet away, its newness marred by a small, deep dent in the left front fender. It made Gideon remember an article he had read in a newspaper recently. The title was Are Americans Becoming Nomads? It was the story of increasing sales in all types of motor homes.

     He cleaned the camp and deposited his goods in the van, then left for his morning walk. He stepped carefully as he made his way across the high, rocky ground and, after crossing a small stone crest, he came to a slow-moving mountain stream.

     Gideon sat at the edge of the stream and scooped up a handful of icy water, splashing it against his face. Sunlight bouncing off the snow warmed him and he felt lazy. He let his fingers trail in the sluggish stream and watched the tiny rapids caused by their presence.

     A blur of motion in the corner of his eye brought Gideon's senses to full alert and he saw a moving shadow at his back. He twisted around, not sure what he was worried about, and his eyes caught sight of a bloated deer carcass as it bounced dully along in the shallows, belly first now as it came toward him. Its head and neck were gone. His stomach lurched and he jumped to his feet, almost falling over the deer in his haste. After running for a time, he slowed to a winded walk and made his way back to camp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY ‑ FLAGSTAFF

 

 

Gideon was scheduled to give his first actual speech in radical political alternatives at the campus in Flagstaff. He didn't have the slightest idea what he would say. He had read through the stack of newsletters and booklets Carl Steiner had given him the day he left Minnesota, and now tried to find some useable pattern in the sketchy, emotional articles he'd found there.

     Moving stories by people like Dick Gregory and Julian Bond and W.E.B. Du Bois fought for space with lengthy and trite dialog filled with the usual "colonialist‑facist‑lackey‑dog‑honky‑pig‑motherfucking‑capitalist rhetoric that stretched for pages, its relevance capable of being distilled to few predictable sentences.

     Hundreds of anti‑Vietnam war cries were thrown at Gideon through the pages of every pamphlet and book; stories that tore at his heart. There were photographs that echoed the brutality of war, the senselessness of killing human beings and the agony of watching the things society had worked so hard for being destroyed.

     In these same pages were other articles, written by the Movement's top revolutionaries ‑ Yippies, Weathermen and S.D.S'ers who swore to take the revolution into the heart of America. They called themselves "street fighters" and talked of violent revolutions and blood‑in‑the‑streets to get rid of the "top establishment dogs" whose crimes were oppressing others, and waging violent wars. Like father, like son.

     Gideon passed through Gallup, drove mechanically through the snowy worlds of Lupton, Houck and Sanders, not seeing signs asking him to visit the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. After stopping for gas in Holbrook, Gideon at last tried to put together a speech.

     "Brothers and sisters of the revolution!" he shouted, his words ringing against the inside of the van. He lifted one hand off the wheel and pointed a finger straight into an imaginary audience as forcefully as he'd once seen a pudgy, bearded speaker do at Macalester College. He wished now he'd stayed and listened to the speaker instead of getting up to take a leak.

     He practiced his speech as he drove, lengthening it, changing it to give it more impact and trying to use cliché to build a structure of relevance that radicals could relate to. When he finished his speech he was driving through the wide streets of Winslow, divided from the two east‑bound lanes by rows of buildings. He was quite proud of his speech.

     He was surprised to see forests rising above the snow as he neared Flagstaff.

 

 

Gideon drove into Flagstaff and found the road that led to the campus, surprised when several students called to him by name when he stopped to ask for directions. He waved at them. When he stopped his van in front of the administrations building he saw posters tacked to a bulletin board on the sidewalk. On the posters were more pictures of Gideon that he'd never seen.

     GIDEON HOLLEY ‑ TUESDAY ‑ NOVEMBER 18 ‑ 8:00 PM IN THE AUDITORIUM, the posters said.

     Under this, smaller letters whispered, 'Sarah Ash on political reform in today's America ‑ 7:30 .'

     "Sarah Ash," Gideon said, remembering. "Still doing the opening act."

 

He spent the day being ushered around from one student group to another. He visited the Movement in America, and the War Resisters League. He chatted with the Council for World Peace and the Students for a Democratic Society. Each group was filled with warm, dedicated people who promised Gideon they would make the world a fit place in which to live. Gideon wished them luck.

     Throughout the day Gideon was praised as the new leader of a new and better world. A world controlled by "the people."

     At seven‑fifteen Gideon told his associates that he wanted to go to the auditorium.

     "But, Gideon," Dennis Eubanks, the freshman representative of the Radical Students Association complained, "We were hoping you would have a chance to talk to us about what we should do for the Movement." Actually, they were eager to show off to Gideon. They wanted him to see how much they had done already.

     "Besides," Dennis said, "Sarah Ash is going to be on stage until eight o'clock, and she's kinda' boring."

      "Boring?" Gideon roared. The room grew silent. He slammed his fist down upon the desk and glared at Dennis Eubanks, now ashen and cringing, searching for something to lean on. "For your information, Sarah Ash is probably the best authority on the movement you'll ever see!" He pointed his finger at the door.

     "Sarah Ash is my favorite speaker," Gideon said. "She's the only one who makes any sense out of this whole mess and you say she's boring?"

     Gideon turned and followed his finger to the door. "Will someone please show me the way to the auditorium?"

     "Wait, Gideon," Jimmy Creski, the campus representative of the Radical Speakers Bureau pleaded with him. "Dennis is new in the Movement, and," he paused, glancing over at the young student who stood, eternally damned, propped up on a desk, "he just doesn't understand."

     Jimmy walked quickly across the room and opened the door for Gideon. "I have a seat ready for you on the stage," he said, implying he'd meant to take him to see Sarah from the beginning. Gideon was beginning to enjoy his new‑found assertiveness.

     "Good," he said as the others in the room raced ahead of them down the hall. "Let's go."

 

 

Sarah Ash offered a slight smile to Gideon when she saw him enter the stage door, and he returned it.

     "It was a nice surprise seeing your name on the program," he said, briefly taking her hand. "I'm glad to see you again, Sarah."

     "Speaking of surprises," Sarah smiled curiously at him, "you've certainly surprised me lately. It seems you've set out to do exactly what you said I wasn't doing." She was polite, but cold, indifferent.

     "I've even surprised myself," he said, ignoring Jimmy Creski as he took a seat beside her.

 

 

Sarah began her speech to a sparse crowd scattered through the large room, but soon after she began her talk the auditorium suddenly began filling up with students who, after taking their seats, seemed to listen with rapt interest. It caught Sarah off guard, but not for long.

     She spoke eloquently and approached all problems head on. To Gideon, she was incredible. Sarah used the same objective style he had admired at Macalester College, speaking of unity and patience as the students applauded boisterously.

     She told them they must have understanding, and they cheered. The auditorium was packed. 'Creski must be doing some good legwork,' Gideon said to himself.

     Sarah said, "I drove through some heavy snow this morning farther north ‑" then paused to clear her throat. The students applauded wildly, and Gideon poked his fingers into his ears, wiggling them around for a few seconds before removing them. He thought he'd missed something. She took a step back, and hesitated.

     "She really is excellent!" Creski whispered in Gideon's ear as he took a seat beside him.

     Sarah talked more about a cultural and an "inner" revolution, shouting to be heard above the appreciative crowd. Later, her mind wandering as she checked her notes, she said, "I wish I had a glass of water."

     The crowd screamed and applauded, and finally, Gideon understood. No one was really listening to Sarah. They were just trying to please him. They had turned out because Gideon mentioned Sarah Ash, and now they were just killing time.

     Gideon was furious. He watched the building pep rally atmosphere of the audience and felt like screaming at them. He rose to his feet in his anger, then sat back again when he heard Sarah thank the crowd. She backed away from the podium and received a booming round of applause.

     Her eyes met Gideon's and she shrugged, still smiling, though her eyes were red and wet, her face tight and controlled. She took her seat.

     "Brothers and sisters!" the student M.C. shouted into the microphone. "You know who we have here tonight, right?"

     The crowd went wild.

     "Who?" he teased them.

     "Gideon!" the crowd shouted as one, and Gideon felt a shiver slip down his spine. "Gideon!"

     "Who do you want to hear?"

     "Gideon!"

     "Who do you want to hear?" he repeated himself, putting an open hand up to his ear and leaning toward them.

     "Gideon!"

     The M.C.'s hand fell away from his head and reached out to Gideon, who sat fuming on the edge of his seat. He stood without looking at Sarah, and stomped up to the podium, nearly blind with rage. The applause, the cheers kept coming, building to an impossible crescendo. He raised his hands and waited for the sound to die down.

     The M.C. pressed up against him and said, "Here he is, Gideon Holley!" and the cheering began all over again. He straightened up from the microphone and grinned at Gideon, then melted away.

     Gideon waited, wondering if they would pay as little attention to his words as they had to Sarah's. He decided to find out, and erased the practiced speech from his mind. He braced his hands on the sides of the podium, gripping the wood fiercely to fight the anger that threatened to render him speechless. When the control finally came he began.

     "Brothers and sisters of the revolution!" he cried, his voice filled with emotion. "We've watched the capitalist pigs and their capitalist system destroy our freedoms for too long!" The windows rattled under a tidal wave of cheers.

     "Now is the time to take the revolution into the streets and show our oppressors how strong their slaves have become!" Gideon shouted as he had never in his life shouted before, and began to feel dizzy from it. He could feel, too, Sarah's eyes watching him as the applause thundered through the hall.

     Gideon pointed into the crowd, his eyes filled with fire. "It's our responsibility to show those in power," he stretched out the word, "that the world is ours!

     "Karl Marx once said, 'fuck you if you can't take a joke,' and we have seen time and time again the relentless absurdity of what we're doing!"

     The audience was one now, on their feet and cheering.

     "Right on!" they screamed.

     "Power to the people!" they raved.

     "With the ridiculous and idiotic assumption of this power," he once again let the word linger, "of this power to the people, I say, 'fuck  you, too.'"

     Wild applause.

     Gideon was just close enough to Sarah to hear her giggling behind him. "Nixon and his pigs want to see us run! These fascist oppressors want to see Spot run, they want to see Spot hunch Mary's leg!" Gideon's throat was raw. Student fire marshals worked valiantly to keep the fire lanes free of ecstatic young radicals, but it was a losing battle.

     Gideon kept up the dialog for another ten minutes, glancing around twice to see Sarah Ash doubled up in her chair, hands in front of her face as she choked on laughter. Jimmy Creski watched him in awe as he finished in grand style.

     "Never before have such brave and courageous revolutionaries missed the point so entirely!" His finger had become a weapon, and he fired off round after round into the crowd.

     "Che Guevara told us of all of the decadence of the capitalistic bureaucrats and their ruling class that has dominated the world! Remember that in Nineteen forty‑one, the year of World War Two, ladies' stockings were rare indeed! Yet now, there are enough ladies' stockings to cover one woman's leg in the whole world twice!" He made a fist and threw it into the air.

     "Yet, there are people starving ‑ starving in China!" he raised his other hand and opened them both, holding them out to the crowd.

     "Does that seem fair?" he sighed.

     The crowd screamed until Gideon feared the roof would fall in. He stood tall and proud.

     "To quote Chairman Mao," he said, "thank you."

     Young revolutionaries swooned in the aisles as Gideon backed away from the podium. He grabbed Sarah's hand and pulled her to the stage door.

     "What ‑?" she started, and he cut her off impatiently.

     "Let's go!" he shouted to Sarah above the din, his throat ruined. "Let's get the hell out of here!"

     "I can't leave!" she shouted back.

     "Yes, you can, damn it! One more minute, and we won't get out!"

     "No!"

     "Yes!" he pulled at her hand, his eyes locked on hers. "Come on, Sarah. You've given them enough."

     Sarah hesitated for only a second, glancing over her shoulder at the insanity in the packed auditorium. She nodded her head in agreement.

     "Yes!" he said again, and laughed. She held tightly to his hand as he stepped past a startled Jimmy Creski, then she was running with him through brown steel doors, flying past the crowd of student journalists before they could ask any questions.

     Gideon pulled Sarah into the cold night and they ran through the icy wind, legs aching as they continued across the green, up and down several hills until at last they reached the parking lot and his van. He fumbled with the keys and opened the door, pushing her in then climbing in after her.

     Gideon drove fast through the slippery streets, heading for dark peaks that stood like shadows against the night sky. He felt as though he was on fire. Sarah sat across from him, watching closely as he drove maniacally up the narrow, winding roads. She studied his face but could find no clue to help figure him out. She realized she had been holding her breath, and let it out in a sigh. Her eyes drifted from Gideon's face to the headlights as they darted like birds across the wall of trees ahead.

     Gideon came to a roadside park and whipped the van into a sharp right at the entrance, causing it to skid dangerously before coming to a stop. He was out of the cab before the engine died, running, running like a mad man, flinging himself at the nearest snow covered peak. He stumbled, falling again and again as he raced along, dodging trees and rocks while crashing up the hill.

     When he reached the crest of the small hill he paused, standing absolutely still for several seconds before spinning around and flying back down. He gained too much momentum and, as he came in sight of the van, his feet left the ground. He hit the soft snow on his stomach, rolling over and over until he finally flopped down on his back beside a picnic table.

     Sarah ran across the snow and dropped to her knees beside him. "Gideon?" she looked down at the spread‑eagled scarecrow and put her hands on his face. "Are you all right?"

     "Oh, yes," Gideon said. "Oh, yes."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY‑ONE ‑ THE WHOLE STORY

 

 

They hiked through the snow, two silhouettes on a world of white. Their arms were filled with supplies and Sarah's face held a puzzled expression. He was in his long, black coat and she was wearing his wool military jacket. Gideon had said nothing more since she'd lifted him from the snow and now she found herself walking through the wilderness with him to God knew where. It was a beautiful night. The erratic clouds had disappeared again and bright stars flashed in the crystal darkness above them. The slight glow was magnified by the blanket of snow.

     They came to a small clearing and Gideon looked it over. Satisfied, he threw down his armload of goods and helped Sarah with hers.

     "Gideon ‑?" Sarah said.

     "Shhh." He cleaned the area of small rocks and branches, then patiently built a firewall with the rocks. He placed two large, flat stones in the center, gathered up the wood nearby and soon had a nice, warm fire going. Sarah sat on a rolled sleeping bag and waited.

     Gideon straightened and smiled at her. "Come closer to the fire." His voice in the silence surprised her. Gideon Holley was a stranger, and his intensity frightened her. In some part of her mind, though, she'd known him for a hundred years. She liked the sound of his voice and was relaxed with him.

     "Here," he said, pulling the other bedroll nearer the circle of rocks and brushed snow and twigs from its sides.

     "Thanks," she said, and moved from one bag to the other. The warmth of the fire gave her a sense of security. She thought for a second about this primal feeling. The only two people in a new world, huddled close to a fire set to deny the cold night.

     "I forget," he said. "Not everyone is as crazy about this kind of weather as I am."

     "I don't mind," she said, staring into the flames. When she raised her eyes again, he was gone.

     "Gideon?" She looked around nervously and watched the shadows leap around the outer fringes of the clearing, jumping out at her from the corners of her eyes. "Gideon?"

     As they had walked to the spot earlier, Sarah had been fascinated by the silence that swept over them like a breeze. Now, alone by the small, dying fire, she heard the wilderness that lay outside the light come to life. Crunching and snapping and tapping, chirping and grunting sounds that pushed her even closer to the fire. She looked over her shoulder into the night as fear tugged at her heart, making it pound crazily in her breast.

     "Hey?" Gideon returned a few minutes later, his arms filled with wood. He dropped it beside the waning fire and, seeing the fear in her eyes, apologized instantly.

     "God, I'm sorry."

     "I didn't know where you were," she watched as he fed the fire. He smiled.

     "From the city?"

     "All my life," she nodded her head in agreement.

     "Well, don't worry," he said, sloshing water into a large pan from a plastic bottle, "We left all the dangerous animals behind." He added a few scoops of snow and placed the pan on one of the flat rocks in the fire. Sarah looked on as Gideon created a thick soup with his bundle of supplies.

     "Is there anything I can do?" she asked.

     "Just get warm," Gideon said. He scooped up more snow and stuffed it into a blackened coffee pot. Sarah kept the silence until she could stand it no longer. There were too many things she wanted to know. Things she needed to know.

     "Gideon," she said, "when I met you back at Macalester College I really liked you. Just in that instant, I did. You were the first person who ever talked to me honestly about myself and I thought I'd finally found a real person floating around in all this shit."

     Gideon slid the coffee pot onto the other rock and withdrew his hand quickly.

     "When I started hearing about you, I didn't know who you were. Then I saw the posters and I knew. Everyone was talking about all your daring exploits, and I said to myself, 'Well, Sarah, you're wrong again.'

     "Now, tonight," she shook her head slowly, her dark eyes on him, "you made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a long time."

     "We left 'em guessing, didn't we?" he grinned, and she did, too. She didn't answer, though, but continued to stare at this intense young man.

     "Who the hell are you?" Sarah asked.

     Gideon tipped the lids of both the coffee pot and the soup pan and checked the water with the tip of his finger, then sat back beside her. He pulled the other bedroll up and leaned against it.

     "Would you like to hear a long story?" he asked. "A very long story?"

 

 

Sarah Ash had one major flaw that kept her from being recognized as the most intelligent person in radical politics ‑ she believed people should be good to each other. That was the flaw.

     She had a knowledge that came only partly from formal education. School for Sarah was fine topsoil to a strong seed. It gave her a place to grow. She had good common sense and the strong ethics that came from growing up in a close family.

     Sarah had an understanding, a kinship, with psychology and religion and politics that was constantly being underestimated by those around her. She felt the workings of the world within herself and tried hard to let others see it, wanted them to touch the delicate threads that held it all together; but, they refused.

     People admired, envied and endorsed her. The only thing they denied her was their attention. The truths she told held no food for their egos, no comfort for their minds. Sarah told them to work and love and have understanding. It was too much to ask.

     In her first year at the University of Southern California Sarah fell into a heavy sexual marathon with a member of the top campus fraternity, an ass who practiced domination and demanded servitude. The affair lasted two months.

     At the end of two months and emotionally depleted Sarah finally faced up to herself and admitted the truth. She had been punishing herself for being right. She'd given up the reins to him, and allowed herself the relief of following blindly. The years of leading had taken their toll. The affair left her with scars deeper than any physical wound.

     Now, two years later, she sat in front of a warm fire and listened to Gideon's story. He made her feel she wasn't alone. She hadn't felt that way in a long time.

 

 

"Now you know," Gideon said as he got to his feet. He had stopped his story only once to make two cups of coffee, and now his joints ached. He leaned over the fire and stared into the soup, stirring it once then raising the ladle to his lips. He let it cool before tasting it.

     "Now, that's good!" he said. He poured the soup into tin cups and sat back down, handing one of the cups to Sarah. They ate the soup and listened to the night.

     "You're one of only three people who know the truth. I'm the second, and my old room mate, J. Hubbard, is the third."

     "J. Hubbard?" Sarah asked. "I met J. Hubbard."

     "Really?"

     "Yes, I'm sure of it." She described him to Gideon and he nodded.

     "That's him," he said.

     Sarah watched the fire. "It's funny, but he's the reason I remember you so well. After you and I were separated in the hall he showed me how to get to the taxi stand."

     "I didn't see him at the rally."

     "Well," Sarah touched his knee, "he was there. He told me your name, but I never connected it to the Gideon Holley I've been hearing about lately. Not until I saw the posters."

     "You met J. Hubbard," Gideon said, intrigued. J. had never mentioned meeting Sarah, but then he rarely said anything at all.

     "Yes. In fact, after he walked me to the taxi stand he said that I'd be seeing you on the road."

     Her hand stayed on his knee, and his fingers found hers in an awkward silence that grew between them. He felt a chill colder than the night air.

     "Damn," Gideon said softly, "that was before I went to New Orleans."

     "Is that significant?" she asked.

     "Sarah, I never said anything about leaving," he could feel her eyes on him but he avoided her gaze. "Hell, I didn't even know I was going then." His mind stumbled over a memory of Jean, the Creole fortune teller in New Orleans. He thought of what she's said to him that day in her apartment, and fear tripped him up like a roller skate on the stairs. He was unprepared for the fall.

     "Jesus," he breathed the word. The silence lingered.

     "Gideon?" she said quietly. He shifted nervously to his feet, letting Sarah's hand slip from his damp palm. He tossed more wood on the fire and kicked at his dwindling supply.

     "I have to go after some more fire wood," he said. "It's going faster than I thought."

     Sarah nodded, and wanted to follow him when he vanished once again into the night. When he returned, staggering under the weight of a large stack of branches, Sarah had the camp straightened. She'd gathered up the scattered supplies and rolled the sleeping bags out side by side. Gideon dropped the load of branches on the smaller stack and surveyed the supply.

     "That should do it," he said. He walked to the sleeping bags and pulled one over the top of the other.

     "Why ‑?"

     "We need one under us," Gideon explained, "to keep the cold out."

     Sarah looked at his arrangement and frowned. She liked him, but didn't want to be pressured this way.

     "Take off your shoes," Gideon called to her as he leaned over one of the knapsacks. "I'll give you some heavy socks to sleep in." He tossed them to her. "They're warmer than shoes, and a hell of a lot more comfortable."

     Gideon removed his boots and placed them on their sides with the tops toward the fire, then quickly pulled another pair of heavy, grey socks over his lighter ones. He took her shoes and placed them beside his boots, tossed more wood on the fire and twisted into the sleeping bag, fully clothed. Sarah slipped into the bag apprehensively, and was surprised by its warmth.

     "Good night," Gideon said. He was asleep before she could answer. She lay awake for over an hour, watching the stars. She felt Gideon rock against her gently with each breath, like a boat against its mooring, and took his hand again. Her mind settled at last, and she let out a breath she had been holding for what seemed like forever.

     "Good night, Gideon," she turned on her side, her head lightly touching his shoulder, hand loosely entwined in his. Soon, her face relaxed in a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWENTY TWO ‑ THE PARK RANGER

 

 

Sarah woke the next morning with a start, almost crying out as something moved along her side. She opened her eyes and saw Gideon slipping from the sleeping bag.

     "Sorry," he said, his hands in the air in mock surrender, "but it's hard to get out of one of those things quietly."

      The strangeness of waking up in an unfamiliar place passed and she smiled up at him. "Is it early?"

      Gideon removed the heavy socks and slipped into his boots. He picked up Sarah's shoes and slid them in the bag with her, laughing as the cold shoes touched her hand. "It's six forty‑five, and the sun's coming up. You don't want to miss seeing that."

     "God, no," Sarah moaned. "I missed seeing it go down, so there is an obligation, I suppose."

     "Damned right."

     "You don't suppose you could find any more coffee?"

     Gideon had brought the fire back to life with fresh wood, and Sarah could feel the heat ripple across her face as she debated getting up.

     "Yeah, I always have coffee," Gideon worked at the pot with his back to her, but his voice carried. "Now get your butt out of bed, or you'll miss the best part of the day."

     "Yes, suh!" She tried to salute, but her hand got stuck inside the bag. So, she laughed. Sarah was overwhelmed by the ease she felt around Gideon, and enjoyed the feeling. She slipped her shoes over the socks and crawled out of the sleeping bag, drawing a breath through her teeth as the biting wind struck her.

     "It's cold!" she complained, and stepped back toward the bag.

     "Oh, no," Gideon took her arm. "You can't go back."

     "Only until Summer?" she said. He shook his head and rolled up the bags.

     "I did a little looking around last night as I gathered fire wood, and I found a small creek right over there." Gideon pointed to an outcropping of rocks. He put his wide hands on her shoulders and pointed her in the right direction.

     "Why are you telling me?" she asked. Gideon handed her a towel and some tissues.

     "Go splash some water in your eyes and freshen up," he said. Sarah walked away, glancing back at him and shaking her head. She heard him singing a country song loudly, and off key, as he rummaged through his supplies. When she returned, he had bacon and eggs frying in a large skillet.

     "Watch this, will you?" Gideon said, lifting the pan from the fire and placing it on a large rock. He took the towel from her and walked back in the direction of the stream.

     "I don't cook," she called to him.

     "You don't have to," he said. "It's ready. Just divide it up."

     "Captain, my captain," she muttered.

     As they ate, Gideon and Sarah talked about how they grew up and what kind of music they liked. Each laughed at the misadventures of the other. Sarah tried once to bring up the subject of what they were doing on tour, but Gideon avoided giving an answer. She didn't mention it again until much later.

     He took her hiking in the forest until her legs felt like lead and she sat down on the trunk of a fallen tree. She refused to walk another step. Gideon lifted her to her feet and supported her, coaxing her on until they came to a totally unexpected sight. There, miles from nowhere, a ranger's cabin had been built between two diagonal sheets of solid rock.

     "Wow," Sarah said.

     "Let's see if anyone's home," Gideon said.

     "You can't do that!" She reached for him, but he was already beyond her hands. "Gideon!"

     "It's what people do," he said.

     "Oh, Jesus."

     He stepped up to the cabin door with Sarah limping along behind, knocked, and grinned at the hefty park ranger who swung the heavy wooden door inward. The big man squinted out into the bright sunlight.

     "Hi, there!" Gideon said, extending a hand to the ranger. He shook it warily. "Do you have any coffee?"

     The ranger stared at him suspiciously for a moment, then his eyes found Sarah, leaning against the cabin, her eyes reflecting her exhaustion. He dragged a hand across his face and waved them inside.

 

 

They talked about the mountains and the forests and the tourists who destroyed them. After the first cups were empty the ranger refilled them.

     "I hated barging in on you like this," Gideon told the ranger. "But I sure do appreciate your hospitality."

     The ranger nodded. "It's nice to have company every once in a while. It was nice to talk." He turned his attention to Sarah.

     "Would you like some more coffee, miss?"

     "No, thank you," Sarah said, warmed by the genuine concern in his dark eyes. Creases divided his tanned cheeks like furrows on a field, and when he smiled they pulled up at the corners of those eyes, stretching the skin until it shone.

     She watched the casual conversation between the man and Gideon, then let her eyes wander around the simple, comfortable cabin. She wondered what it would be like to live away from the world. Something here drew her in. A half-opened door led into a bedroom and another branched off into a small bath. The kitchen and living room were one, divided by an old wooden desk covered with papers and dominated by a large radio transmitter and receiver. The living room was sparsely decorated, holding nothing but an incredibly fat sofa that might once have been green, a wooden rocking chair and a portable television. There were no paintings on the walls, which, she thought, was just as well. A Rembrandt would've looked tacky beside the scenes visible through the wide glass windows.

     Sarah was in another world, and began to understand Gideon's love for it. The brawny, sun darkened ranger in his pressed uniform would have seemed menacing to her in the city. Here, he was beautiful.

     There were no beliefs to be trampled, no causes to fight for but your own survival. She thought these things through as her mind worked to memorize her surroundings. She felt herself slowing down, her ideas unifying as the voices of Gideon and the ranger droned like honey bees around her head. She thought of having to leave, and hated herself for thinking it.

     "‑good campgrounds up here?" she heard Gideon ask. "I mean, real ones?"

     "Oh, yeah," the ranger said with an honest enthusiasm. He told Gideon how to get to the campgrounds and led him to a large relief map that hung on a wall beside the front door.

     "This is the best spot," the ranger said as Sarah joined them. His thick index finger tapped the upper corner of the map, then wound its way toward the bottom. "You're right here. It's a pretty good way, but the roads aren't bad."

     "Thanks."

     "Don't mention it."

     "God," Sarah said, "I hate to leave."

     "Ya'll are welcome to stay awhile."

     "No, thanks," Gideon said. "I want to get to that camp."

     "You have a beautiful home," she said sincerely.

     "I'm glad you like it," the ranger said.

    

 

     They said goodbye to the ranger and braced themselves for the frigid wind. "Think you can make it back to the camp?" Gideon asked.

     "Yes," she said. "I feel much better now."

     Sarah did feel renewed, but only partially because of the rest. When Gideon had mentioned finding a campground to the ranger she felt a great burden lifting from her. She hadn't been away from the growing tensions of her job for over a year, and to her surprise she found that she didn't want to go back. Gideon was looking for more time in the mountains and she hoped that meant her, too.

 

 

When Gideon and Sarah were out of sight, the ranger stepped back inside and sat down at his desk. He pulled the microphone close and turned on the set, called headquarters and talked to his captain.

     "Jim?" he asked. "Is that Moranne character around somewhere?"

     "No," a scratchy voice answered. "He ain't been around yet, but sure as daylight he will be." The captain hated men like Inspector Moranne. He called them weasels.

     "That's one determined man."

     "I know it," the captain said. There was a silence on the line. "Why are you asking, Travis?"

     "Well," the ranger drawled, "I had a boy and a girl stop by just now and share a cup with me." He felt a knot of tension in the pit of his stomach. "They fit the description of the two he gave us last night."

     "Where are they now?" The captain asked. The ranger told him where Gideon and Sarah were camped.

     "But, they're gone now," he said. "They wanted to find a campground with hook‑ups, so I sent them to number six, the one on the ridge."

     "I'll give this to Moranne when he shows up," the captain said, writing the information down. "Thanks, Travis."

     "It couldn't be them anyway, Jim," the ranger said. "Not the kind of kids he was describing. These was just nice kids." After he signed off he found his hat and coat, then walked down the mountain, following their footprints. When he reached the camp they were gone. He looked around the clearing and saw how neatly everything had been left. There was nothing to show the land had been disturbed but a circle of stones Gideon had left for the next hiker. That, and footprints in the snow.

     "A couple of nice kids," the ranger said.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

THIRTY ‑ THE SWITCHBOARD

 

 

San Francisco is indeed the Great Painted Lady of the West Coast. It is also the crazy painted face of the clown that hides in the darkness within the jack‑in‑the‑box.

     The weather was mild and cool, and a light rain had fallen early in the evening. The streets still glistened as Gideon pulled off Highway 101 and onto Seventh Street. He had Carmen's address on a creased, soiled sheet of paper in his wallet. The address of the Mobilization Switchboard was in one of his folders. He decided to try there first, since it was closer.

     Gideon drove in awe through the roller coaster streets of San Francisco. He'd never seen such a beautiful city. Old, ornate houses leaned against each other on the steep hills, each with different designs on their stained‑glass windows and turrets. Neighborhood stores were bright and casual under the street lights, and the sidewalks were filled with laughing flower children. They were dressed in bright colors and their costumes ranged from renaissance to futuristic. Every street corner was filled with young people selling flowers and big balloons. Ragged salesmen peddled underground newspapers and glossy magazines. Gideon was grinning at the world outside and didn't even know it until someone grinned back.

     He found the building that housed the Switchboard, and parked as close as he could. The wind was just slightly crisp as he stepped down onto the sidewalk. It was shirtsleeve weather. He dodged his way through the colorful crowd and found the right door.

     RADICAL MOBILIZATION SWITCHBOARD AND BULLETIN BOARD, the sign read. A second one, hand painted in multi‑colors, said DRUG HELP ‑ UPSTAIRS ‑ HOTLINE.

     Gideon stood in the doorway and paused. The hall was dark and musty. A lot had happened since he'd last seen Carmen, and he needed to see her again. Far inside Gideon a plan was coming together, and Carmen was a loose end he had to deal with.

     He pushed the door shut behind him and turned left into the first room. Two big bulletin boards dominated the wall before him. They were filled with scribbled notes ‑ notes asking for rides to Portland and Long Island and across town. Guitars were offered for sale, as were beds and boxes of jewelry, fringed leather vests and vehicles. Other scraps of paper called to mates and lovers and lost children. Family notes begging, "Please get in touch."

     Beyond the twin boards, the bright yellow walls of the room almost hurt his eyes. They had a newly painted, glossy look. The room was large and open, broken only by a series of low, grey metal desks. The street front side of the room was almost all glass, and the wonderful city filled the panes as though it was some fantastic painting. His eyes searched the room and saw only one person there, almost invisible behind a desk three rows back and near in the center of the room.

     She was small and thin, with frizzy, coal black hair. Her jacket and jeans were so covered with patches that it was hard to tell what color they had been.

     "Hello?" Gideon said.

     "Huh?" The girl looked up at him, her large, brown eyes out of place on her tiny face. "Need sumpin'?" An open, dog‑ eared copy of Tolkein's The Hobbit was in her lap.

     "Yeah," he said. "Where's Carmen Woolsey?"

     "Carmen?" the girl said, then slapped her face with her hand. "Hey, do you know who you are?"

     "Yes."

     "You're Gideon Holley, man!" She slapped herself again. "Oh, wow! Far‑fucking out!"

     "Is she here?" Gideon tried to keep the conversation on track.

     "Oh, hey, man," she leaned back in the chair and looked him over. "I mean, shit! You're Gideon!"

     "Carmen?" Gideon asked politely.

     "Man, you really make the news!"

     "What news?"

     "They said you were in on that bombing down in San Jose this morning, man!" she became more excited with each word until she was breathless.

     "They said I was involved in a bombing?"

     "Shit, yeah. The pigs come in here every time your name hits the streets, and they hassle Carmen."

     "Carmen?" he said. "Why?"

     He was shaken. Carmen was still catching hell from what he did. He wondered how many other friends were being harassed every time he made the papers. He thought of Sarah, and J., though he couldn't imagine anyone intimidating J. Hubbard.

     "Yeah," the girl sighed wistfully. "She was gone this time, though. She and Tony, they went up to Oakland yesterday to help co‑ordinate a Black Panther rally here in the city. They'll be back in the morning."

     Two separate revolutions were being waged in America in 1969. One was the anti‑war and student rebellion, and the other was the black revolution. They sometimes crossed paths, but were not the same.

     "Tony?" Gideon said.

     "Oh," she looked troubled, and her eyes darted around him. "Tony's the director of the Switchboard. He's a good dude. He and Carmen are...friends...sort of."

     "It's okay," he felt like laughing.

     "I mean, hey, man," in her confusion she stood up, and the book fell to the floor. "She digs you, man. Carmen's always talking about you!"

     Gideon was glad to hear that Carmen had a Tony, but the girl couldn't stop trying to explain.

     "See, the Black Panthers are having a food giveaway tomorrow, right here at the Switchboard. We heard the Pigs are going to try and break it up."

     The student revolution had always tried to emulate the civil rights movement, but they were two fundamentally different forces trying to occupy the same space. The black struggle was a thoroughly grass‑roots organization that, desperate to fill a terrible gap left by the death of Martin Luther King and heal the riffs caused by splinter groups in the movement, still turned to the community for help.

     Where the student groups and emerging counter cultures carried on lengthy philosophical debates on the evils of war and the need for social revolution, the black movement stayed close to family and church. Even the most radical faction, the Black Panthers, remained entrenched in the community through legal aid programs and the distribution of food and clothing. The angry creed of the Panthers, however, kept them on a collision course with the police. Their short history so far was one of confrontations, shootouts and death.

     The girl kept talking about the movement and Carmen and the Switchboard in a bumbling patchwork as Gideon backed toward the door. Finally, in a last attempt to make up for her mistake, she almost shouted, "Can't you just hang around here tonight?"

     "Nope," Gideon said. "Look, I have to find a room, and clean up, you know?" She was making him uncomfortable.

     "I know plenty of places where you can crash," she said.

     "That's okay, I get money to stay over. I'll be fine." He started backing out of the room.

     "Come back tomorrow," she shouted to him as he disappeared around the corner. "If you don't, it'll kill her!"


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIRTY ONE ‑ THE CAT

 

 

Colletti and Lobajeski had been sitting in the Winnebago since seven o'clock in the evening. It was now well after midnight, and Moranne was still in the office of the Bureau of Subversive Investigations. It was nestled in a fashionable part of the Bay Area on the outskirts of San Rafael. The two men had eaten every scrap of food in the motor home, and were still hungry.

     They had spent most of the afternoon calming the Inspector. When he'd regained his composure he drove like a maniac up the coast to San Francisco. They hadn't eaten a meal since breakfast. When Moranne returned to the Winnebago Colletti was beating Lobajeski at rummy, and Lobajeski wasn't taking it well.

     "Next time we use my fuckin' cards," he grumbled to his partner.

     "Oh, shut up," Lobajeski said. His stomach growled.

     They looked up when Moranne opened the camper door, and were startled to see a fluffy tabby cat in his arms. The cat had a blue ribbon around its neck, and Moranne was smiling down at it warmly. They stole a glance at each other, and wondered if their boss had gone insane.

     "Well," the inspector said, watching them as he ruffled the cat's fur, "what do you think?"

     "About what?" Colletti said guardedly. He wasn't sure how to respond.

     "What the hell do you think?" Moranne snapped.

     "It's a nice cat," Lobajeski said. The inspector looked at him, then at the other man.

     "Gentlemen," Moranne appeared to be his old self again, calm and cool, "this is not your ordinary cat." He pulled a piece of cheese from his pocket and placed it in front of the cat. Colletti and Lobajeski watched the cat gobble it up.

     "Why not?" Lobajeski asked, though at the moment he didn't care.

     "In his neck," Moranne said, holding the cat up for them to see, "is a little piece of electronics. Our boys have implanted a direction finder."

     "A what?"

     "A beeper, you might say." Moranne's face once again wore the icy smile his men had grown accustomed to. He pointed to a spot on the cat's neck where the tiny gadget had been installed. It was impossible to see it.

     "Why did they do that?" Colletti asked.

     "This cat is our friend," Moranne said. "With this device in his neck we could give Holley a two-week head start, and find him with our eyes closed."

     "But, what are we going to do with him?" Lobajeski said. Colletti felt an icy finger tickle his spine.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIRTY TWO ‑ UNCLE JOHN

 

 

Gideon drove around until he found a motel with vacancies. He parked the van in the parking lot beside the neon‑lighted office, but didn't get out. He was drained of energy. The last few months had finally caught up with him. A sudden, sweeping wave of darkness poured over his senses and took his strength, leaving him with an utter tiredness he'd never known. When at last he was able to move, he walked on shaky legs toward the happily dancing neon sign that claimed the shabby, lime green stuccoed building beneath it was the ELECTRA‑FLITE MOTEL ‑ FREE COLOR TV.

     He paid a sullen, white haired man for a room but, instead of going to it he decided to take a walk. Gideon moved along the busy, night‑time sidewalks, his feet dragging him into the city. He looked into the brightly lit shops and saw children stealing useless items from the store shelves while other children hassled the shopkeepers, demanding their full attention.

     Gideon looked beneath the colorful hats and leather caps he passed on the sidewalks and saw frightened, lost eyes crying for help. His own eyes rose from the fringed vests and paisley shirts and saw dead‑zombie‑junkie eyes that stared past him into Hell. Young girls in heavy makeup watched him, their eyes promising favors in return for favors. Everyone appeared to be bumming quarters, dimes and dollars.

     He stepped into a liquor store and bought two six‑packs of Olympia beer and walked back to the motel. The room was overly decorated, and the walls were thin. The two sides of love were being showcased by unseen instructors in the adjoining rooms. To his left a man and a woman were arguing loudly. To his right, a syncopated, grunting chant, accentuated by the bass drum sound of a headboard slamming into a wall.

     Gideon opened a can of beer and turned the television on, twisting the volume control until Doc Severinson's orchestra drowned out the other noises in the room. He sipped his beer and ignored Johnny Carson while trying to think about what he'd gotten himself into.

     "What the hell am I doing?" he asked himself. He thought of Sarah. She had asked him what he thought he was doing "right now, in the present."

     He didn't know.

 

     "Damn," he whispered, wishing he could make sense of who he was and where he was going. He forced himself to go over all that had happened to him since he'd started college. The two six‑packs of beer disappeared one can at a time into the waste basket. An Alan Ladd movie was showing on the television when Gideon stood up, bracing himself against the foot of the bed. He lectured himself for not eating anything all day.

     He walked to the lobby, ricocheting off the walls every few feet. A row of pay phones stood in the shadows beyond the front desk, and the silent old clerk eyed him suspiciously.

     "May I help you?" the clerk said.

     "Yeah," Gideon said it a little too loud. He opened his wallet and pulled out a ten dollar bill. "I need change."

     "All of it?"

     "Yes. All of it."

     The clerk blew out a lung full of air and shook his head. He stepped through a door behind the desk and returned in a few minutes with neat stacks of quarters.

     "'Preciate it," Gideon staggered slightly as he walked to the pay phones.

 

 

"Uncle John?" Gideon asked quietly when he heard a voice on the line.

     "Gideon, is that you?" a familiar, faraway voice came through the receiver. His uncle pronounced it, "Gijun."

     "Yes, Uncle John," Gideon almost cried. "How are you?"

     "A little sleepy. It's two thirty in the morning."

     "I'm sorry," Gideon looked at his watch. "I'm out in California. I forgot about the time difference."

     "It's okay, boy," Uncle John said, "are you all right?"

     "Yes, sir. Just tired, mostly."

     "We been awful worried about you, Gideon. What they're saying about you in the papers, and all. You sure you're all right, son?"

     "Yeah, Uncle John," Gideon said, snorting back a tear. "Listen, do you suppose if I came home you could find some work for me to do around there?"

     There was a pause on the line. "You bet, son. You really mean it?"

     "I sure do. And, Uncle John," Gideon wiped his nose on his sleeve, "when I tell ya'll what's really been happening, you're going to bust your sides laughing."

     "Well, we always knew you ain't done what all they said you done," his uncle's voice faltered for the first time. "We'll be waitin' for you."

     "Thanks, Uncle John."

     "You want to talk to Alice? I can wake her up."

     "No," Gideon knew he wouldn't be able to talk to his aunt without crying. "I'll talk plenty when I get home."

     His uncle was quiet.

     "Okay?"

     "Yeah," the man said at last. "You be careful."

     "I will, Uncle John. See you soon."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                            

THIRTY THREE ‑ URIAH

 

 

It had rained during the night as Gideon slept. He woke to the steam press sound of cars moving along the wet streets, and he felt refreshed.

     Gideon showered only once that morning. He was in a hurry to see Carmen. He wanted to tell her she wouldn't be harassed anymore because of him. He left the motel early and walked swiftly through the fresh, cool morning air. The city had cleaned itself sometime before dawn. The sidewalks and streets sparkled, the buildings shone like new and the morning people looked bright and happy.

     He bought a new pair of jeans and a new western shirt and took them back to the motel, tried them on and examined himself in his new clothes. The fit was good, but the new jeans were too stiff yet to be comfortable. He decided he'd change back into his old clothes when the time came to leave San Francisco. To start his long ride home.

     A young woman was busy behind the front desk when Gideon dropped off the key. She smiled, and he smiled back. He ate a light breakfast and watched a blur of activity outside the wide, plate glass windows of the Commodore Restaurant. He thought about the Switchboard, and hoped Carmen would be there.

     'Carmen and Tony,' he thought, smiling at the sound of it in his mind. He was happy for them. Gideon thought of Sarah, and his mind darkened for a moment. She was the only part of this whole silly game he couldn't forget completely, given the time. He thought of asking her to leave it all and go with him, to disappear into the jungle of rural Florida. He wondered if she would say yes.

     Gideon paid for his meal and walked across the wet parking lot to his van. When he reached the driver's side door he found a tabby cat tied by a leash to his mirror. The cat was sitting delicately in a small puddle of rainwater. It had a blue ribbon around its neck and a note attached to the ribbon. A small bag of opened cat food sat rolled closed behind him.

     Gideon reached down and removed the note. The cat walked back and forth between his legs while he read. It tangled itself up in the leash. The note said:

               Yours looked like a friendly home,

               so I chose you. The draft board is

               after me, and I have to split. Please 

               take care of my cat. His name is Uriah.

               He loves cheese. Thank you.                

               The note was unsigned. 

       Gideon looked from the note to the cat, then glanced around the parking lot. There was no one in sight. "Well," he said to the cat, "I don't guess either of us has a choice." The cat only stared. It reminded him of J. Hubbard.

     He opened the van door and untied the leash, examining the inside before placing the cat on the padded engine cover. He wanted to see if the cat's owner had helped himself to anything before he left for Canada. Nothing seemed to be out of place. He hooked Uriah's leash around the handle on the passenger door so he couldn't jump out while they were in motion. The bag of cat food went behind the seat.

     "How would you like to go to Florida?" Gideon said to the cat. Uriah hopped from the engine cover to the passenger seat and lay down on the sun‑warmed cloth. He began to purr.

 

 

Gideon pulled up to the Switchboard office again and found a parking place two doors away. He thought of how nice it would be to see Carmen again. He hoped she would feel the same about him.

     "Keep a lookout, Uriah," Gideon shook his finger at the cat. "I'll bring you some cheese when I come back."

     Gideon locked the van behind him. He had left the side windows open far enough for the air to circulate. The cat watched him through the glass.

     On his walk to the Switchboard Gideon thought about Uriah, and decided it wouldn't be so bad having the cat around. At least he'd have someone to talk with on the long trip home.

     The sidewalk in front of the Switchboard building was crowded with blacks and street hippies digging through cardboard boxes of used clothing and standing in lines where bags of canned food and bags of flour were being distributed by young black men in black turtleneck sweaters and black berets. Other members of the Panthers skirted the crowd, watching each passing car apprehensively. Gideon opened the door to the Mobilization Switchboard and stepped inside.

     He saw Carmen immediately. She was seated at a desk in the rear of the room, her back to a yellow wall. On the uncluttered desk top sat a familiar glass paperweight. It held a little log cabin and several tiny trees. Gideon had given it to her a long time ago. He watched her as she thumbed through the pages of a thick telephone book. She looked worried.

     There were a few other people in the large room. They wore a variety of clothing, shirts mostly old Army and Air Force issue, pants either dungarees or wide legged bell bottoms. These other people also looked worried.

     Gideon walked quietly to Carmen's desk and stood for a moment looking down at her. Pre‑occupied with her work, she didn't notice him. She was sliding the fingers of one hand over the pages of the telephone book. The fingers of her other hand twisted a loose strand of long, blond hair.

    "Excuse me, ma'am," Gideon said, "but could you tell me how to get to Macalester College?"

     Carmen looked up at him.

     "Gideon!" she said, knocking over a flower vase as she jumped to her feet. A white daisy fell to the floor. Gideon stepped around the desk and met her beside the chair. They embraced and he felt her hands at the back of his neck. She was laughing and crying at the same time, her tears wetting the front of his new shirt. She sniffed and pulled away from him.

     "Rorrie said you were here last night," she said. "I was afraid you wouldn't come back." Her blue eyes searched deep into his own.

     "I'm here," he said. "You look good, Carmen."

     "And you look tired, Gideon," She was very serious. "So tired."

     "I am."

     "And you've changed, too," her eyebrows raised as she studied him. "There's something different about you."

     "You're right," Gideon said. "You wouldn't believe how much I've changed."

     "What is it?"

     "I'm getting out, Carmen."

     "What do you mean?"

     "I'm leaving the revolution," he said. "Someone else can take care of things. Someone else can finish it."

     "I don't believe you're saying this, Gideon," she stiffened.

     "Well, I am."

     "I just can't believe it."

     "Look, Carmen," he put a hand on her waist. "I'm not who they think I am. Hell, I'm not even who you think I am."

     Gideon could see the confusion in her eyes. He knew how dedicated she was to the causes she'd worked so hard to promote.

     "Look around you, Gideon," she said. "These are the things I do believe in. The cops said that if we tried to have the Panthers here today for the giveaways, they'd make sure we never did it again. I'll be here to make sure we do."

     "I wish I had your convictions, Carmen," Gideon said, the tiredness sweeping in on him again. "But I'm not sure I've ever believed in anything."

     "You really have changed," she said. She moved back around the desk and picked up the white daisy, placing it gently into the vase and righting it.

     "I'm not sure. Sometimes I think I have, and sometimes I wonder if I'm just finally finding out who I am."

     "But what about the revolution?" she asked.

     "Carmen ‑" Gideon started, but was interrupted by the sound of the front door crashing open. Two young black men ran into the room. Their eyes were wide and beads of sweat glistened on their foreheads. They were dressed in black turtlenecks and black pants. One wore a black beret. Each man's face wore a mask of fear that belied their shouts, and the shiny pistols in their hands.

     "The pigs!" one of the men shouted. "They're gonna shoot ‑!" His words died in his throat as the room exploded.

     Gideon watched the windows disintegrate as a wall of noise deafened him. The young, black man who had shouted a second ago was thrown into the air like a piece of black paper. His stomach burst through the turtleneck and spattered across the room. The second man crashed into the desk in front of Carmen's, and fell to one knee. He looked back at his dead friend, then up at Gideon.

     "I don't understand," Gideon said.

     "You never will, brother," the man said, just as gunshots filled the room like a drum roll. It was an explosion of sound. Typewriters came apart and books danced across the desktops. Gideon felt his arm snap backward, pulling him with it. As he spun he felt something rip along his back. The paperweight on Carmen's desk exploded and he watched the insides fly away, surrounded by tiny snowflakes.

     A large patch of red was smeared across the yellow wall and Gideon looked down as he fell. Carmen was lying in an ocean of blood beneath the patch of red. Her face was gone. Gideon felt a searing fire tear across his face, and his world darkened as he bounced off the edge of the desk and went down. His face struck Carmen's thighs as he sprawled across the wet floor. He began making an ocean of his own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, I talked to Sarah before and after she saw Gideon in the hospital. She said he would live. She didn't tell me about J.'s plan to kidnap Gideon from the hospital, however; but, then, she didn't know me very well. I didn't find out about it until later.

     I'd found a job at Port Reyes, north of San Francisco. I worked for the state road department. My job was to walk behind an asphalt truck and spread the hot, sticky tar into the pitted highway. I worked from sun up to sundown six days a week for three weeks. At the end of those three weeks I had enough money saved to buy an old, 1956 Chevy panel truck I'd found for sale in Canyon, California, a small hill community just outside Berkeley.

     I felt rich. On top of the world. I paid 250 dollars for the panel truck and had 87 dollars left over, after a tank full of gas.

     If I hadn't bought the panel truck I might never have met Gideon again. As it was, I met him and Sarah and, for the first time, J. Hubbard. We all met in the mountains of Mendocino National Forest, near Lake Pillsbury. It was there they told me of the daring escape.


 

 

 

THIRTY FOUR ‑ THE PLAN

 

 

It was just like a scene from a movie. The white corridors were active with the paced hustling of doctors and nurses. Orderlies worked their way up and down the halls with cluttered handcarts.

     The door to Gideon's room was different from all the others only because there was a policeman sitting in a folding chair outside. He was a young officer but he was alert. He was a two-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department. His name was Roger Wiggins. The men he worked with called him Roger‑Dodger.

     Roger was getting used to some of the faces that passed him every day in the hall. Some were people who worked at the hospital and others came every day to see Gideon. Patrolman Wiggins had to frisk each of the males in this last group, except for other officers he knew and worked with; and, of course, Inspector Moranne. The floor nurse on duty inspected all the women. Not that Roger wouldn't have like to search some of the females.

      'Like that Sarah Ash, for instance,' he thought, blushing and grinning.

     Inspector Moranne came regularly ‑ every day ‑ to see Gideon Holley. He never went inside. Each time he came, he would nod curtly to the officer on the door, look inside, then close the door and walk away without a word. He was like a child with a new puppy. He didn't want it to run away.

     Gideon's lawyer showed up every other day at 1:15, and stayed exactly 22 minutes. The officer wondered how he did that. The man was dour faced, in his fifties, Roger guessed, and out of his league. He heard one of the Inspector's men say the radicals were having trouble getting the lawyer they wanted. Something about him being busted for dope, or something, and the three men from the Bureau of Subversive Investigation laughed together. It made Roger want to be a part of their team. As it was, he was just a flatfoot doing hospital duty, searching bags and frisking men in suits.

     A short, intense young man with thick glasses and eyes like glowing coals had been in to see the prisoner twice. His name was Evan Hubbard, and he was from the mayor's office. Each time Hubbard visited Gideon Holley, patrolman Wiggins frisked him and rummaged through the black attache' case he carried. Each time, Hubbard would smile at him.

     "What's your name, officer?" Hubbard had asked the first time. Roger had told him. "How long have you been on the force?"

     "Two years, sir."

     "Well, keep up the good work, officer," Hubbard had nodded warmly to Officer Wiggins. "As head of the Mayor's Subcomittee on Crime, I can tell you we're always on the lookout for recipients of our recognition awards program."

     "Thank you, sir."

     You're welcome," J. Hubbard said. "And make sure you keep your eye on this sly son of a bitch, Wiggins."

     "Yes, sir." Wiggins planned to do just that. He had been doing more than just logging people in. His notebook was filled with impressions of the different people who came and went. Gideon's court‑appointed lawyer, for instance, was a rich source of visual information. His curly blond hair and heavy dimensions gave Wiggins page after page of description. He was going to write a book about all this.

     Each evening, before being relieved by the night cop, Wiggins would open the door and look in at Gideon, lying bandaged and still on the bed. Each afternoon he would make the morning cop check with him to make sure Gideon was still there. It was nice to be noticed by the Mayor's office. He imagined a dinner just for him. He began writing a speech in his mind.

     The second time he'd frisked Evan Hubbard, the man had seemed even more impressed.

     "Tell me," Hubbard had said, straightening his silk tie, "do you plan to be a beat cop until you retire, or would you like to work toward something better?"

     "Yes, sir," Wiggins was floating on air, "I plan to be much more than a beat cop."

     "Good!" Hubbard beamed. "I like a man with ambition."

     J. left the elated officer and walked into Gideon's private room. It was being paid for by the state, with a supplement from the federal government. The rooms on either side of Gideon had been locked and emptied for security reasons. Moranne didn't want anyone to find a way to break through into the room and steal his prize.

     Each day, Sarah visited Gideon and checked on his progress. Each day, she would help him work at getting around on his own. It was difficult, seeing him struggle so hard. He was haunted by the death of Carmen.

     "She was just a kid," Gideon said more than once. Sarah held his hand.

     "So am I," she said. "And so are you."

     "No," he said, "I'm not a kid. I just act like one."

     "Gideon ‑"

     "I came here to tell her goodbye, Sarah. I was going to quit."

     "Quit?"

     "Yeah. I called my uncle John and asked him if I could come home, and he said I could. I was going to ask you to go with me."

     There, seated in a chair by his bed, Sarah felt as though she were falling, and she clutched his arm for support.

     "This shit is never going to stop," Gideon said. "Everybody enjoys it too much."

     Sarah wept.

     "I'm sorry, Sarah," he said.

     "God," she said, "don't say that."

     "Why?"

     "Because," she leaned over the bed and kissed him softly, "I would've said yes."

     Gideon was quiet and she listened to his machines. Sarah's mind was racing out of control, and she couldn't stop it. J. Hubbard had called her at her motel room the day of the raid on the Switchboard. He told her what had happened, and she had cried without shame. The news reports had listed Gideon as one of the dead, but the next morning he was said to be in critical condition at the hospital. Then, J. called her again.

     "Sarah," he talked as though he'd known her forever, "we have to get him out."

     "I know," she'd said. "I've been in touch with the Radical Speakers Bureau and they're putting their best people on it."

     "I don't think so," J.'s faraway voice was firm. "They're going to feed him to the wolves, Sarah. They need a martyr."

     She had been indignant. "That's ridiculous!"

     "We'll see," the voice said. "But, just in case it isn't, I have a plan to get him out of there."

     "You're insane!" she was getting angry. "I don't even know you."

     "Yes, you do," his tone was paced, almost slow, and she nodded her head without thinking. "I'm one of Gideon's two friends, and you're the other."

     "Well, then you know they have no reason to hold him. In fact," Sarah regained her self‑control, "he may have a very good lawsuit against the San Francisco Police Department."

     "Have you seen today's paper?" J. asked.

     "No."

     "Get it," he said, "and I'll call you back."

     She left her motel room and found a newspaper box in the lobby. There was one copy left. The front page headline said, HOLLEY TO BE INDICTED IN BOMB PLOT, PANTHER SHOOTING. Sarah felt weak, and tired.

     A smaller caption, under a photograph of Gideon Holley shaking hands with Stuart Mosely, the bomber, said, Holley and San Jose bomber just hours before the carnage. They were both smiling.

     The phone rang.

     It was Gideon's roommate again. "Have you read the article?"

     "Not yet," he made her uneasy.

     "I'll wait."

     Sarah read through the gory details. 21 dead, almost 50 injured. Two pointless massacres in just two days. Sarah had the phone tucked under her chin, and when she reached the middle of the lengthy article she sucked in a sharp breath, almost dislodging the phone.

     "You found it," J. Hubbard said without emotion.

     "Yes." The cold facts of the dual killings were followed by a series of quotes from important people ‑ politicians and police alike. The fourth quote was under a tiny photograph of Bob Rome, the top act at the Radical Speakers Bureau. He was gesturing toward the photographer.

     "Some of these people in the limelight now," Bob Rome's words looked so heavy in print, "have more zeal than common sense. I knew he was a loose cannon. This man is a true guerilla fighter. A true revolutionary."

     "Jesus," Sarah whispered.

     "Not even close," J. said. They sat joined by the telephone line for several minutes, aware of each other's silence.

     "What are we going to do?" she said, half to herself.

     "I thought you'd never ask."

 

 

Each day, after she spent her time with him, Sarah would leave the hospital and wander around the city until she found a pay phone. She used a different phone each day. She would call J. Hubbard and let him know how Gideon was doing, and how much he had improved. J. saw himself as the weak link in his plan, and had limited his visits to two necessary days.

     "Hell, Sarah," he'd said to her the first day they spent together, "it was the best idea I could come up with. I just figured that I couldn't be more unnoticeable than coming on as someone from the mayor's office. I mean, who notices anyone from there?"

     With each telephone call from Sarah, however, J. Hubbard was losing faith in himself. He wondered if his flawless forgeries would be found out, if his arrogance of using his own last name would backfire on him.

     The plan depended on a good solution. And the solution was time. He believed that, with Gideon secreted away somewhere, they would have the time and notoriety to get him the legal help he needed to beat the charges. Sarah had connections in the Movement outside the RSB, and J. Hubbard had connections of his own in the legal profession. Both his parents were well‑respected lawyers. He hoped it would work.

     "We can't do more than this, J.," Sarah said.

     "Oh, I know. But, I don't know if it's enough."

     "It'll work or it won't," she replied, too tense to continue the conversation. "What should I do next?"

     J. Hubbard had been giving her instructions on how to carry out his scheme each day. For three weeks Sarah had been dividing her time between Gideon and the annual convention of the Radical Students Association, where Gideon had been elevated to the status of Legend. By the end of the third week, his eyesight had returned to normal, though he couldn't see well at all when the doctors came around. They held up charts and smeared salve in his eyes. They clucked and shook their heads as they examined the healing scar that ran in a ragged line across his forehead.

     Gideon's forearm was still in a cast, but the bandages had been taken from his back where a gauze dressing was changed every day. Now, at the end of the third week, Gideon said he was ready. He asked how Uriah was.

     "Fat," Sarah smiled, "and getting fatter."

     She had been given Gideon's new cat the day she first went to see him at the hospital. The police had found him in Gideon's van and he eventually wound up in the hands of a member of the San Francisco Mobilization Committee. The member's name was Richie Ray.

     Richie met Sarah shortly after she left the hospital that day. He told her about Uriah, and asked if she knew anyone who would care for him. "Even the cat is a legend," he said to her.

     "Where did Gideon get a cat?" she asked. He didn't have one in the mountains.

     "Beats me, Richie Ray said. He hunched his shoulders and raised his hands, palms upward. "You'll have to ask Gideon."

     Richie was a student at the University of San Francisco, and worked at Bob's Beanery at night. Bob's was located on Fulton Street. It was a meeting place for Bay Area radicals. The night job didn't pay Richie's tuition, by any means. The tuition was paid by the Bureau of Subversive Investigation. It was a you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours arrangement.

     The next day Sarah asked Gideon about Uriah. At first, he didn't remember. He didn't remember much without a great deal of effort, those first few days.

     "A cat?" he asked, rubbing his head with the heel of his palm. He thought hard, and his head ached by the time he remembered Uriah. He told Sarah how he'd found him, then he went to sleep. Sarah took Uriah in and cared for him while Gideon was in the hospital. Uriah was a friendly cat.

     The day Gideon said he was ready, Sarah called J. Hubbard. He told her to get ready before her evening visit. She knew what to do.

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

THIRTY FIVE ‑ THE ESCAPE

 

 

J. Hubbard went into the hospital early that day. His blue business suit was pressed and spotless, his wingtips polished to a glassy shine. He looked like a man from the mayor's office.

     He carried one other item that day besides his attache' case. It was a large box, gift‑wrapped in white paper with a fluffy yellow bow on the top. A card was taped to the wrapping paper under the bow. It said, THE GANG AT WORK MISSES YOU. GET WELL SOON.

     J. let himself get lost on Gideon's floor, walking casually down a corridor that merged with another hallway running beside Gideon's room. The two hallways met four doors farther down from his room, toward the back side of the hospital. A men's bathroom occupied the corner between a service elevator and the stairwell.

     J. stepped into the men's room and entered the third stall. He placed the box on the toilet, then stood inside the stall and waited.

 

 

Sarah made sure Gideon understood what he was to do. When they had whispered through the procedures twice, she stood and brushed nervously at her blouse.

     "Well," she took a deep breath, and then another, "let's give it a try." She leaned over Gideon and kissed him. He looked at his watch and nodded to her. She reached for the door.

     "It'll work," he said, smiling at her. "If J. Hubbard is behind it, it'll work." Sarah smiled back at him, then opened the door. As she walked past Officer Wiggins Sarah put a hand to her forehead.

     "Oh," she said softly. Her knees turned to rubber and she collapsed, hitting the floor solidly.

     Officer Wiggins leapt from his chair and knelt beside Sarah. He took her arm and helped her into a sitting position. She straightened her skirt. "Are you all right, miss?" he asked, genuine concern in his voice.

     "Yes," Sarah said, her eyelids drooping for a moment, then opening again. "Yes, I'm okay. Thank you."

     "Let me get that," Roger Wiggins reached for her purse, then put a strong hand under her arm and helped her to her feet. She closed her eyes and leaned on his arm.

     "Thank you, officer," she said. "I'll be fine."

     Sarah backed away from him and turned toward the row of elevators. He watched her closely as she walked unsteadily down the corridor. When she reached the elevator he returned to his chair. She pushed the button and rubbed her head.

 

J. Hubbard had circled back around and passed Sarah on the way to Gideon's room. He gave no indication he'd even noticed her.

     "Good afternoon, Officer Wiggins," J. said warmly.

     "Hello, Mr. Hubbard," Wiggins said as he rose to his feet. He leafed through the small man's papers then, as J. raised his arms, patted him down politely.

     "I think we're getting somewhere with this guy," Hubbard said. Wiggins had been wanting to ask what the mayor's office was doing in this case, but was afraid he might offend Mr. Hubbard. The guy's eyes gave him the creeps.

     "Good, Mr. Hubbard," he said. "Good."

     "And, Officer Wiggins," Hubbard continued, "I put in a good word for you yesterday with the mayor."

     "Thank you, sir!"

     J. glanced down the hall and saw the elevator open for Sarah. It was empty. 'Perfect,' he said to himself. Officer Wiggins sat back down and J. walked through the door to the hospital room.

     J. raced back out seconds later, his face red with anger. He pointed at the closing elevator doors as Wiggins jumped to his feet.

     "You fool!" J. shouted at him. "He's gone, damn it! I just saw him in that elevator!"

     J. pointed down the corridor. Officer Wiggins' face turned an ivory white. He threw open the door to Gideon's room and looked in at the empty bed.

     "No!" he almost cried. "It can't be!"

     Officer Wiggins raced ahead of J. Hubbard to the elevator, watching helplessly as the lights above the elevator doors indicated it had stopped in the lobby. He turned to run to the nurses' station and fell over J. Hubbard. They both crashed to the floor.

     "Idiot!" J. screamed at him.

 

 

As J. Hubbard and Officer Wiggins raced to the elevator, Gideon crawled out from behind the table that sat beside his hospital bed. He stepped quickly to the door and pulled it open. Everyone in the corridor had rushed toward the elevator to see what was going on, and Gideon slipped unnoticed down the other end of the hall to the men's room.

     He found the box waiting for him in the third stall. J. had locked the door from the inside and climbed out over the top. Because of his arm, Gideon had to lie down on the cold tile floor and crawl under.

     Inside the box Gideon found a pair of white coveralls with LINDEN'S TEXACO in red letters on the back. Over the pocket, the name BO was embroidered in red. Under the coveralls was a pair of scuffed desert boots and a pair of thin socks with a car key stuffed inside one of them. A dirty blue knit cap and a pair of black‑rimmed glasses lay together at the bottom.

     Gideon slipped out of the hospital gown and dressed quickly, pulling the wide arm of the coveralls over the cast on his arm. He checked the top pocket and found a very realistic, clipped moustache. In the back pocket was a greasy, rolled up copy of Hot Rod Magazine. Gideon laughed.

     When he was in full disguise he stuffed the gown and pink plastic patient's bracelet into the box and tossed it into the bag‑lined trash can. He walked casually out of the men's room and down the corridor J. had taken earlier. With the help of diagrams Sarah had shown him Gideon found another elevator and made his way through the hospital to the emergency room. His heart was pounding from the exertion, and he worried about J. and Sarah.

     Gideon sat in the emergency room for an hour as J. had told him to do, surrounded by hundreds of people in pain. He leafed through a stack of old magazines, trying not to stare at the clock until he thought the time was up. He found that, with the greatest control he could muster, he stared at the clock every three minutes. Police officers came and went, giving the room a cursory search each time. Finally, the hour was gone and he stood, turned, and walked out of the hospital through the emergency room door.

     He walked slowly past the gathered crowd that milled curiously outside, and headed for the parking lot. His heart turned to ice at the slightest noise. He found a two-year old white Chevy Impala exactly where J. said it would be.

     Gideon backed out and drove to an exit. A pair of policemen stood in his way. One of the uniformed men moved around to the side of the car and glanced at him, then shone his flashlight around in the back.

     "Would you mind opening your trunk?" the other cop said.

     "No," Gideon said. He stepped out, trying to steady his weak legs as he walked to the back, aware of the cops' eyes on him. He opened the trunk and there, in a bundle of clean work shirts, was a small stack of Playboy magazines. One cop picked up the top issue and fingered his way through it. He opened the centerfold.

     "Is that how you broke your arm?" he asked, and the other cop giggled.

     "Shit, no," Gideon grinned foolishly. "My buddies gave me those to help build up the muscles."

     Both cops laughed and the first dropped the magazine back into the trunk. He closed the lid.

     "You can go," the other man said.

     Gideon climbed back into the car and cranked it up again. He leaned his head out the window and looked up at the cops. "What's happening back there?" He thumbed over his shoulder to the hospital.

     "Read about it in the morning papers," the policeman said, waving him on.

 

 

Poor Officer Wiggins. He would never be something more than a flatfoot. Only something other than a flatfoot. He was just plain Mr. Wiggins, now.

     Moranne was frantic. The San Francisco Police Department had worked well into the night, but hadn't come up with a single clue as to the whereabouts of the three fugitives. The inspector had checked out Sarah Ash's motel room personally, but found nothing to tell him where she'd gone. When ex‑officer Wiggins gave him a description of the man named Hubbard, from the mayor's office, Moranne had paled.

     "God damn!" he roared. "Nobody even frigging bothered to keep tabs on Holley's roommate. We thought he was still at school back in Minnesota." The looks of scorn on the faces of San Francisco's finest rankled him.

     "We'll get him, Inspector," the watch captain said from behind his desk.

     "That bastard!" Moranne spit out the words. "Holley must have some goddamned hypnotic power over people to get them to do this kind of shit for him."

     "Some kind of frigging power," Lobajeski agreed.

     "Maybe they just like him," Colletti said.

     "What?" Moranne's wrath focused on his man.

     "I said, 'maybe they just like him,'" Colletti said, rubbing his eyes and wishing he could sleep. Moranne studied him for a long time, then blinked.

     "Don't be stupid," he said.

 

At 11:30 p.m., Captain Norm Luck of the SFPD returned to his office. Moranne was waiting for him.

     "Tell me," Moranne said.

     "Nothing to tell," the captain said. "I still have every available man on the force searching for them but, so far, we've found nothing."

     "Shit." Moranne stared out the dirty window into the misty night.

     "However," Norm Luck said as he sat on the desk top, "It's my belief that the three of them are still in San Francisco. The underground groups here can hide a man pretty well, at least for a while." Moranne snorted, but didn't turn from the window.

     "They're in town," the captain said to the inspector. "You'll see."

     He was wrong.

 

 

THIRTY SIX ‑ HOT SOUP

 

 

They drove their separate ways up through northern California. Each rode alone in his or her car, and each worried about the other two. The plan was to meet at a campground near Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest. Since Gideon, of necessity, took the shortest route out of San Francisco, the other two circling down and around the city, he was the first to arrive at the campground. He shopped for vegetables and meats, using some of the money J. had left in the glove compartment. He had taken two armloads of supplies to the counter before he remembered that all of his untensils were in the van, and the van was no longer his. Reality gripped his heart.

     His van was the only thing in the world he considered his, and he missed it. It had been shelter and escape for him, and it was also his home. Everything he owned was inside his van. Gideon's spirits fell steadily as he walked through the store, gathering cheap aluminum pots and pans he found huddled together under a sign that said, Enjoy the Great Outdoors with Kebro Kooking Supplies. The sign showed a picture of a human family gathered around a campfire, waiting to chow down. Around them, wild but harmless creatures peeked out from behind bushes and trees. The pans themselves were practically useless for cooking anything but frozen vegetables, but they were better than nothing at all.

     After stocking his car with provisions, Gideon made his way up the side of a mountain in the direction of the campgrounds. He drove to the end of the pavement and followed a winding dirt road that dodged through the thick forest.

     He parked in a clear stall at the campgrounds and climbed out of the car. There were no other vehicles in the area, and the silence was overwhelming. Gideon put J. and Sarah out of his mind, knowing his roommate well enough to know they would both make it.

     He left the supplies and took a walk through the woods. After strolling in the dark campgrounds for less than five minutes he stopped, his nose high to the wind. He smelled food.

     Gideon tried to keep from running down the narrow path, letting his nose guide him. He thought it might be possible to find someone who would be willing to part with some decent cooking utensils for a good price. J. had left money in the car's glove compartment, and they would need good supplies if they were to survive in the winter woods.

     Suddenly, Gideon was overwhelmed by the knowledge that his life had changed forever, and he put a hand to his head. He couldn't walk up to anyone now without fear. Would they recognize him? Would they call the police? He knew himself well enough to know he couldn't hurt them if they did, and he didn't want to go to jail.

     Gideon loved his freedom.

     Still, the smell was enticing, and he crept up to a line of trees, their images dancing in the light of an open fire. When he came to the trees he peered cautiously into the clearing where a camp had been set. Someone was bending over a fire, stirring soup in a large, deep pot. Beside this figure were spatulas and spoons and forks and knives. Around the campfire were a scattered collection of good pots and pans, and one enormous cast‑iron skillet.

     Gideon's eyes widened, and he grinned.

     "Hey, old buddy!" he shouted, watching the look of surprise on my face as I stood up and did something foolish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought Gideon was still in the hospital in San Francisco, and seeing him hop out of the darkness like a goblin scared me so badly that I stuck my fingers into the boiling soup. After I stopped screaming, I offered him some.

     We ate in silence. I stared at him and thought of how he'd looked the first time I met him. He'd been lively then, and his eyes sparkled. That night, near Lake Pillsbury, he looked very old, and very tired. He had a smudged cast on his forearm and a jagged, purple scar across his forehead, just above his eyes. It looked eerie in the light of the fire. I asked him how he was.

     "Fine," he said, "But, I have been better." Gideon looked over his shoulder. He appeared to be in a fog and, after a long pause, looked over at me.

     "You know Sarah Ash and J. Hubbard, don't you?" he asked.

     I told him I had met Sarah. He asked if I'd seen them, and I said no. We sat without talking again, listening to the sounds outside the camp fire. We heard two cars driving up the road to the campgrounds and Gideon leapt to his feet.

     "It's them!" he said. He put the bowl of soup on the thick, wooden picnic table and ran to the trees, turned once to wave goodbye then disappeared into the night.

     By the time I'd finished my soup and rolled out my sleeping bag Gideon was back. He had his damaged arm resting on J. Hubbard's shoulder and his good arm around the slim waist of Sarah Ash. I said hello to Sarah.

     "This is J. Hubbard," Gideon said. I shook J.'s hand and told him my name. He looked very unusual standing in the middle of the dusty, cold camp, wearing patent leather shoes and a crisp, blue business suit.

     I passed around bowls of soup and mugs of hot coffee, and we all ate. J. and Sarah were starved, and Gideon was still hungry. I told them to eat all they wanted. Even when I was alone, which was most of the time, I made enough food for a dozen hungry people. What I didn't eat for supper I finished at breakfast.

     J. and Sarah told Gideon how they had slipped out of the city, then met again in Sacramento.

     "Oh," Sarah said, "Uriah's still in the car with his cat box. I'll go get him."

     "No, don't," Gideon stopped her with his hand. "Leave him there, and we'll get him in the morning."

     Sarah sat down beside him, and they scraped at the soup with heavy spoons. I sat by the fire all night, almost unnoticed, listening as they dealt with their fears by talking. When they finally walked away I waved and said I hoped they got what they wanted.

     I always hope people I like get what they want. I hope people I don't like get what they deserve.

 

 

 

THIRTY SEVEN ‑ THE CHASE

 

 

"The cat!" Moranne shouted, slamming his fist down hard on the desk. Lobajeski had been sitting in a chair behind the desk, his right cheek flattened on the mahogany top as he tried to get some sleep. They hadn't slept in a long time.

     He bruised his knees on the edge of the desk as he jumped out of the chair. To his half‑asleep brain, Moranne's fist hitting the desk top sounded like a gunshot. Lobajeski thought someone was trying to kill him. Colletti had been leaning against the wall. He straightened, and his eyes came alive.

     "The cat," Colletti said.

     "Exactly!" Moranne didn't even look tired, and it troubled the other man.

     "They're probably out of the range of the scanner," Lobajeski said between hiccoughs. Moranne took that into consideration. He almost ran across the floor.

     "Captain," Moranne opened the door to another room, and held it open. A silver haired man with red‑rimmed eyes and red skin stepped into the room. Moranne told him about the cat, and he perked up.

     "I want this given top priority," Moranne said. "If you get any static from the commissioner, the mayor, anyone! ‑ you tell them you're following federal orders, and I'll take the responsibility."

     "You've got all the help I can give you," the captain said.

     "I want you to call State and arrange for all officers to be supplied with scanners, set to the frequency of that cat."

     "No problem."

     "This asshole is a maniac when it comes to the woods, too," Moranne said, a tiny twitch developing at the corners of his mouth. "Make sure the park rangers get some of the scanners."

     "That's not my ‑" the captain started, but Moranne cut him off with one quick hand slicing the air between them.

     "It is, now," the inspector said.

     "That's a tall order."

     "I'll go beyond that, if I have to," Moranne said. He had become a Gideon‑chasing machine. His assistants had to force him to eat and sleep. He thought and talked of nothing else but Gideon Holley.

     The captain returned to the other room and began making phone calls. By the next afternoon, almost every police officer in the state of California carried scanners set to the frequency of the cat's tiny beeper. Before ten o'clock that evening, police officers in three separate counties conducted raids on three separate houses by following the beeps. In each case, they found families gathered around the dinner table, awaiting food. In each of these households the food was being cooked by a certain new brand of microwave oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J. had bought three sleeping bags while in San Francisco. They were the finest he could find, fluffy with down and bordered by huge zippers. He'd also bought new outdoor clothing for Sarah, Gideon and himself.

     J. moved his bag close to the cars and built a small, clumsy fire. He fell asleep soon after he lay down. Gideon and Sarah bundled up together and stayed awake for hours.

    Just after sunrise the three of them packed all their supplies into a brown and beige Plymouth station wagon J. had paid cash for in San Francisco. He'd left his rented car in the parking lot of the Sacramento Executive Airport. They left Gideon and Sarah's rental cars parked in the isolated campgrounds.

     J. planted a map in Gideon's car with lines drawn toward Idaho.

     "All for one and one for all," Gideon said to them. Sarah smiled, and put an arm around J.

     "It's not going to be easy," J. said, "but we knew that. Let's get the hell out of here."

 

 

J. Hubbard drove cautiously, his hands locked on the wheel. Sarah sat folded into the far corner, her head turning each time Gideon thrashed around in the back seat, hurting for him as he fought his troubled dreams.

     Earlier, while Gideon was awake, they had talked among themselves. Sarah had explained their plan to Gideon in the hospital room. Because they had wanted to be cautious, they hadn't risked looking for the underground in San Francisco. The Bob Rome sellout had been too much of a shock for Sarah, and J. didn't know anyone to ask. No one would've revealed much to him, anyhow. He looked like someone from the mayor's office.

     "I supposed, at some point," Sarah said, "we'll have to decide what to do next."

     "I can call my dad," J. said. "But he and mom are on a kibbutz until next week. They can get us out of here."

     "But where is here?" Gideon asked.

     "Here," J. said, pulling a map from the dash, "is the Shasta National Forest. It's close enough to keep us from spending too much time on the road, but there should be plenty of places to hide for a week."

     He'd handed the map to Gideon, and pointed to red‑ penciled lines taking them from Mendocino to Mount Shasta.

     "How did you know all this?"

     "You're not the only one who spent his summers in the woods," J. said indignantly. "You're just the only one who looks like you did."

     "Well, you've done a good job here." Gideon looked at the map.

     "Are you sure we have what we need?" Sarah asked.

     "Positive," J. said. "The back of this thing is stocked." Gideon glanced back at the piles of supplies in the station wagon. He had added his own until the rear window was blocked.

     "It's so cold," Sarah stared out the window at the snow.

     "Yeah," Gideon said. "You know, we could all go down to my uncle John's farm after this settles. He doesn't give a damn about anything but one‑on‑one friendship. Folks down there try to stay as far as they can from the government."

     "That's going to backfire on them, someday," Sarah said.

     "No," Gideon shook his head. "Not way out there. It's just a little rural town, Sarah. The people down there grow crops and families, and let everything else take care of itself."

     "I don't believe it," Sarah leaned her head on his arm. "But, I can honestly say there's nothing in the world I want more right now. I want to be there."

     "You will be," Gideon closed his eyes. "I promise."

     Sarah raised her head and looked at J. She felt like crying. The loner was more alone that he'd ever been before. She could feel it. He had given up everything to help a friend. J. saw her sad face.

     "Hey," he said, smiling, "don't worry about me. Nobody but me knows what I can do when I have to."

     "You're wrong, J." she said. "I know."

     "I don't need a library to be happy,” he mumbled.

 

 

They reached Shasta National Forest in a little over four hours. Gideon had slept a good deal of the way.

     Shasta National Forest is a beautiful, green wilderness. Its scenic views are breathtaking, and the unsettled land stretches out forever. The weather turns cooler there where the mountains stop the warm Pacific breezes.

     J. pulled off Interstate Five and eased the car to a stop at a small service station. It sat in a line of rustic buildings ‑ a convenience market, a restaurant and two gas stations. He and Sarah had talked about their upcoming stay in the mountains, and made a list of things they still didn't have. Leaving Gideon asleep against the window, the two wandered through the market, then loaded their extras in the back seat.

     "How about gas?" Sarah asked.

     "I have a half tank, more or less."

     "Shouldn't we fill it now?"

     J. thought it over. "Yes," he held the door for her and slid in after. "That's a very good idea. Better to stop on the way in than to have to stop on the way out. We might be in a hurry then."

     "Are you scared?"

     "Yes."

     "Me, too."

     "Are you having second thoughts, Sarah?"

     "God, no!" she clipped her words. "We knew what we were doing, but that didn't stop us."

     "I didn't mean to make you angry," J. said.

     "I'm not angry," Sarah touched his arm with the tips of her fingers. "It's just that I can't imagine being anywhere else."

     "Me, either," J. put the car in gear and drove up to the ENCO station. The attendant was a tall, gangly man with an acne scarred face and a lopsided grin. Each time J. asked him a question, the man would point his index finger at him, aiming it as though it was the barrel of a pistol. He would drop his thumb onto the knuckle of his index finger, wink his eye and make a clicking sound with his tongue. Then, he'd say, "There you go."

     Gideon woke up and studied the man from the back seat, then lay back down around the extra supplies. When J. pulled the car away from the pumps he said, "Next stop...Mount Shasta."

     Gideon clicked his tongue. "There you go," he said. Within minutes he was asleep again, and Sarah felt his forehead.

     "He's weak," she said. "And he might have a temperature."

     "Gideon will be fine," J. said. I have some medication back there somewhere, too. We'll get it out when we stop."

     A silence settled on them again as they left the scattered houses and small ranches for the desolation of the Shasta National Forest.

     "Listen, Sarah," J. said. "You and I have been walking a tightrope now for almost a month. We've had to totally trust each other, but I really don't even know you."

     J. stopped there, and Sarah let the silence go unbroken, not sure whether or not he was finished. Each pair of headlights coming toward them tied another knot in the pit of her stomach, and each set of lights that came from behind hypnotized her with their implications.

     "And you don't know me," J. said at last. "But, I've always been able to see patterns, you know? Currents and movements and things. I'm a watcher, and you're a doer, I guess."

     Sarah chuckled. "And, what's he?" she thumbed toward Gideon's sleeping form in the shadows of the back seat. Uriah slept in a lump on his chest.

     "He just is," J. said. "I think that's why we're both so attracted to him. I don't have many friends ‑ I never have. And that's okay, Sarah; that's fine. But, I could've no more left Gideon in that hospital back there than I could've left a turtle in the middle of the road."

     Sarah laughed out loud, and clamped a hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry, J.," she said, watching his serious face in the pale-yellow lights of the dash.

     "Me, too," he said. "Sarah, my vision isn't working anymore."

     "What do you mean?"

     "I mean I don't see anything here. No patterns, no currents. I don't know what we're going to do, and I'm not used to that feeling." His hands squeezed the wheel. "I think I'm scared."

     Sarah wrapped her arms tightly across her breasts, looked up into the overcast sky and shivered.

     "You really believe in those things you talk about in your speeches, don't you?" J. said.

     "Yes," Sarah said, without hesitation.

     "God," he said, "I envy you."

     "Why?"

     "Because I think that's where you get your courage. You believe in the future, and I just believe in the inevitable."

     "And that leaves us with Gideon again," Sarah said. "What about him?"

     "He believes in us," J. said simply.

 

 

THIRTY EIGHT ‑ MOUNT SHASTA

 

 

The air was cold and a light snow was falling when they found a road that looked virtually unused. They were deep in the mountains, and J. drove the station wagon as far as he could on the bumpy trails. Finally, unable to go farther, he stopped the car and sat back.

     "What do you think?" he asked them.

     Gideon rose from the back and looked around. Even in the cold his forehead glistened with sweat. Sarah watched him, and worried. He looked up at the land first, then climbed out and stood in the snow. He stretched, and felt heavy and slow.

     "This is fine," he said. "This will do fine."

     They searched for a suitable spot to back the car, and J. steered it carefully between two thickets of brush. When he backed it as far as it would go, Gideon began gathering fallen limbs.

     "Can I help?" Sarah said.

     "Yeah," Gideon spread the first of his thatch over the hood of the car. "The engine should be fine in this weather, but I don't want someone to find the car."

     They worked until convinced it was invisible from the road, then began unloading the supplies. Gideon led the way as they trudged through the forest. They wore the thick coats J. had furnished, and the heavy loads in their arms took away the desire for conversation. They worked without stopping until all the supplies were at a spot Gideon had picked out. He had been forced to sit out the last two trips up from the car because of dizziness. Sarah arrived with Uriah seated on the top of a pile of tent stakes and sleeping bags. He sat quietly.

 

 

They'd made camp in a small valley. An icy stream ran alongside the camp. The snow was beginning to fall steadily by the time they had pitched two tents and started a fire. They prepared themselves for a long, cold week. Sarah took one of the cardboard boxes and built a warm little house for Uriah. The cat had a definite distain for the snow.

     Later that night as they lay together in the sleeping bag, Sarah said, "What if somebody finds us?"

     "I'll give up on the spot, Sarah," Gideon's voice was wheezy. "I've come to terms with things, I think. I know I've done nothing wrong, so if they catch me, I'll go quietly."

     Sarah told him reluctantly about the newspaper article, and the interview with Bob Rome. He thought it over for a long time.

     "Things aren't ever going to change, Sarah," he said. "I know that, now. But what we're doing is right. To hell with Bob Rome and all the rest."

     "But, we can't let them win," Sarah said forcefully.

     "Oh, they'll win," he said, then laughed. "They always win, don't you know?"

     "Not always."

     "Always, Sarah." Gideon felt her warmth under the palm of his hand. "But it doesn't matter. That's what I'm trying to say. I think I'm finally starting to understand this stuff. We won't win, but we'll stop them from making a rout out of it. In the end, it's all a matter of style."

     "Do you really think so?"

     "Millions have died proving it," he said, then pushed her back onto the bag and kissed her breast.

 

 

Gideon awoke before dawn the next day and took a walk, feeling strength returning in the quiet wilderness. He stopped at a small ridge above the camp, and looked down at the peaceful setting. He sat on a large rock and tapped his fingers against the cast on his forearm. A flutter of wings destroyed the silence, and he saw a magpie land on a low branch beside his head.

     "Tweedle?" it said.

     "Yeah," Gideon said.

 

 

 

 

 

THIRTY NINE ‑ THE BEEPER

 

 

Day and night the beeper buried under the skin of Uriah's neck sent its silent message out into the air. Day and night the police officers and forest rangers of the state of California carried receiving units around in their cars and trucks. They were Gideon prospectors.

     Inspector Moranne had an office set up for him in the police headquarters. Just like Ironsides. Moranne, Lobajeski and Colletti took eight-hour shifts, an around the clock game of waiting, checking out leads and building each other's morale every time a new lead turned into a dead end.  At six‑thirty a.m., on December 24th, just as Lobajeski began to doze after a long night of reading two Reader's Digest condensed books, the telephone rang.

     "Special Investigations here," he said. "This is Lobajeski speaking."

     "Is this Inspector Moranne's office?"

     "Yes, what can I do for you?"

     "This is Tom Patterson up in Shasta," the man on the line said in a relaxed voice. "I'm a ranger up here."

     "Where is here?" Lobajeski rubbed at his eyes. "What is a Shasta?"

     "It's a national forest north of you by several hours. I'm in charge of the parks up here."

     Lobajeski perked up. "What do you need?"

     "Well, I don't know for sure, but we got the BOLO from your people and I may have something for you."

     "Oh, yeah?" Lobajeski was very interested now. The Be On the Look Out notices had been sent to every law enforcement body on the West Coast. "I'm all ears."

     "Okay," the ranger took his time. "I found a 1965 brown and beige Plymouth station wagon on a pig trail road up here this morning."

     Lobajeski was writing frantically. "A Plymouth, you say?"

     "Yes. It has Sacramento plates ‑ SKG 3477 is the number. Someone drove it off the trail and covered it with tree limbs. Did a damned good job."

     "Anything inside?" Lobajeski asked, wide awake and restless. The rental car J. Hubbard had used to leave San Francisco had been found the day before in the Sacramento Executive Airport parking lot. "Anything at all?"

     "I don't think so," the ranger said. "But one of my men is carrying one of your little devices, and he's been getting a weak signal on it. Of course, nothing's gonna’ come in too strong up here in the mountains."

     "But you are getting a signal?"

     "Yes. It'll be hard to trace, but we'll start working on it as soon as I hang up."

     "Fine!" Lobajeski said. "Patterson, I don't want you or your people, under any circumstances, to make contact with these people, do you understand?"

     "Yes," the ranger said icily, "I understand."

     "Good. These people are fugitives, and they're armed and very dangerous. If you spot them, get your asses back and call us immediately."

     "Will do," the ranger said. He heard the line go dead.

     Lobajeski reached for the intercom to call Inspector Moranne when he heard the door open behind him. The Inspector was standing there, pants in hand, his eyes wild with sleep.

     "Where is he?" Moranne whispered.

     "How the hell did you know?" Lobajeski saw the fire in his boss' eyes, and wondered if the man had reached the point where he could sense Gideon Holley.

     "Tell me where he is," Moranne ignored him. He stepped into his pants, then lifted his head. His nostrils flared once, then again. "He's in the fucking woods, isn't he?"

     "The mountains," Lobajeski said. "North of here."

     "I knew it," Moranne said. "I knew he'd head to the fucking woods. The bastard!"

     "The rangers found a car hidden in the mountains. Someplace called Shasta, I think he said." Lobajeski turned the note pad around to the inspector. Colletti staggered through the door, his face lined and haggard. When he saw the two men he stepped back and leaned against the wall.

     Moranne phoned the Sacramento Police Department and had them check stolen‑ and used‑car lists for a 1965 brown and beige Plymouth station wagon. If it had been purchased, he wanted a description of the buyer. He placed the receiver back on its cradle and waited.

     At two o'clock that afternoon his call was returned by the SPD. The station wagon had been purchased at Fred Blankenship's A‑1 used cars a week earlier. The buyer was a short, neat young man with wide, black‑rimmed glasses. He'd paid cash, and given his name as J. E. Hoover. He'd paid the asking price and Fred Blankenship didn't ask a lot of questions.

     Moranne danced around the desk. His two men averted their eyes.

     At five forty‑five that afternoon, the telephone rang again. It was Ranger Patterson from the Shasta National Forest. He and another ranger, Hubert Fogg, had located a camp hidden away in a small valley. The valley was deep in the mountains.

     The rangers had moved in close enough to see two tents and several stacks of firewood. "We weren't even there an hour," Patterson said, "when a couple of people crawled out of the bigger tent. Young couple, maybe twenty years old, or so."

     "Yeah, yeah," Moranne hurried him along.

     "One was a tall, thin Caucasian male with his arm in a cast. The other was a Caucasian female with long, dark hair. Real pretty." The ranger hesitated, and Moranne could hear the shuffling of papers. "I came back here, and my ranger stayed behind. He said that a short, Caucasian male with brown hair and big glasses joined them outside. Apparently, they were cooking a meal."

     "I want you to post a man up there around the clock, Officer Patterson," the inspector said through clenched teeth. "Tell him to keep well away from them. I don't want anything to go wrong."

     "Consider it done," Patterson said.

     "I want you waiting for me tomorrow morning at your headquarters. I'll find out where that is, and meet you there at five o'clock," Moranne crushed the phone to his lips. "Don't let anything happen to them until I get there."

     Moranne turned to Lobajeski and Colletti, his eyes the focus of their attention. "He won't get away from me again," he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORTY ‑ FOOTPRINTS

 

 

Gideon and Sarah crawled from the tent and stood, squinting into the brightness of sunlight on snow. "What should we have for dinner?" she asked. "Hamburgers, or hamburgers?"

     "Hamburgers, I think," Gideon said. He reached high into the nearest tree with his free hand and pulled down a burlap sack. They had planned well, but raccoon tracks around the supplies their first morning told them all they needed to know about who had plundered their stores. There were plenty of dried beans and canned vegetables left, but the only meat to survive was the ground beef, bought and stored frozen.

     Sarah's eyes adjusted to the sunlight and she watched Gideon as he removed a frozen package of patties from the sack.

     "Look," he said in mock excitement, "we have hamburger!"

     He knelt beside the fire and stoked it carefully, adding just enough wood to bring up the heat, but not the flames. Sarah put a hand on his neck.

     "Only two more days," Gideon said without turning around.

     "God, I never thought that could seem like a long time," she said. "I can't wait to get to a telephone."

     "Did someone say telephone?" J.'s voice preceded him from his smaller tent. He stood and brushed the snow from his knees.

     "Just daydreaming," Sarah said. Gideon worked at separating the patties. When he dropped them into the large skillet they hissed.

     J. looked down at them.

     "Hamburgers," he said.

     "Without buns," Gideon adjusted the pan's distance from the fire and rearranged a crude tripod grill he'd made from tent stakes.

     "Oh, well," J. said, "you can't have everything. The funny part is, I feel healthier than I've ever felt in my life."

     "Really?" Sarah asked. Gideon glanced up at her drawn features. Of the three, she was taking longer to adjust.

     "Yeah," J. slapped his chest. "Shit, I'll be a regular mountain man before you know it."

     Sarah laughed. "We'll be too weak to be anything if we lose any more food."

     Their banter was showing strain, too. J.'s parents were due back in two days, and Sarah had decided to go public as soon as the lawyers had been notified.

     "I don't like subterfuge," she'd said. "It doesn't suit me."

     Gideon was the wild card again. They debated whether or not they had been foolish to remove him from the hospital, but decided their gambit had thrown off whoever it was that was trying to build a case against him.

     "I could stay right here," Gideon said, sitting on a square of cardboard and watching the flames.

     "No," J. said. "It would be too risky. You can come with me to my dad's office. He'll find a way to protect you."

     "Maybe."

     "Or," Sarah said, "You could go public with me. The reason we got you out was to buy time, and we've done that. If they bust you again, you won't be powerless."

     They tossed suggestions around until dinner was ready, then settled down close to the fire to eat. After dinner, Gideon stood and bent his long legs.

     "I'm getting stiff," he said. "Anyone want to join me for a nice walk?"

     "Not me," Sarah said. She reached into the pocket of her coat and pulled out a deck of cards. "I'm fine right here."

     "Me, too," J. said. He turned to face Sarah, and she shuffled the cards.

     "You don't know what you're missing," Gideon said.

     "Yes, we do," Sarah smiled up at him. "We've been on walks with you before."

     "Suit yourselves," he said, and trudged off into the snow. He walked up and around the camp, circling the valley as he climbed. He was glad they had refused to come with him, because he had a mission. It was time to cut the cast off his arm.

     Gideon knew J. or Sarah might object if he did it where they could see him, so he planned to get rid of it before he returned. He could feel his arm strengthening, and knew it was healed. He had always been quick at mending.

     He climbed toward the large, flat rock he had found the second day there, but stopped before he reached it. A chill much colder than the winter air ran up his spine and paralyzed him with fear. To his right, cutting across a patch of snow, were two sets of deep footprints.

     They had been discovered.

     By the time he had run back down the hill to the camp he was breathless, and the snow had begun to fall again. He heard Sarah giggling inside the tent and he crawled in. Sarah and J. were wrapping a small, flat package with a piece of brown paper bag. They looked up at him with caught‑ in‑the‑act expressions on their faces.

     "Get out!" Sarah said, laughing at J. as he tried to cover the little package. She pushed at Gideon's chest. "You just can't come in now. Not until we call you."

     "Sarah ‑" he said breathlessly. Her smile faded when she saw the fear in his eyes. J. sat up and stared at him silently. The tent sides rippled as a sudden wind blew down on the valley. Gideon felt the snow sweeping across his neck as it swirled in through the open flaps. He reached behind him and pulled them shut.

     "What's wrong?" Sarah asked, her words a soft whisper as Gideon's fear washed over her. J. watched without moving.

     "Footprints," Gideon said, trying to regain his breath. "I found footprints in the snow."

     "Are you sure they're not ours?" Sarah said.

     "Positive," he said. "They were up close to the top of the ridge, and we've never been there."

     "Still ‑" her faith in the word died, and she was silent.

     "They were the footprints of two big men, Sarah."

     "Oh." The wind picked up speed and beat at the tent. Snow flurries raked across it again and again as they sat quietly, each waiting for the other to speak.

     J. stirred, touched his lips with his fingers then used them to adjust his glasses. "What can we do?"

     The thought of J. without a solution to something caused Gideon's face and neck break out in a sweat in spite of the freezing wind.

     "There's only one thing to do," Gideon said. "We have to get out of here as soon as possible."

     "Could it have been hunters, Gideon?" Sarah said.

     "Maybe," Gideon said. "But, even so, they'll probably stop by the ranger’s station on the way out and tell them about us. We can't afford to take the chance."

     "Right," J. said, suddenly animated. "There are a line of motels not far from my dad's house. We'll get rooms there until they get home."

     "That's not a bad idea," Gideon said. The idea of warm rooms and showers allowed him to forget the chance of being caught. "I would've said it was too risky, but it can't be worse than staying here, now."

     The sides of the tent popped in and out as the wind beat at them. Gideon reopened the tent flaps and looked out into a mass of swirling snow. He fought away panic as he searched his mind for a way out. The snow fell thicker and thicker in the gathering dark, and he knew that if it didn't stop soon they would have to wait until morning.

     The tent began shaking furiously, and Gideon closed the flaps. Uriah unwound himself from his box, stretched, yawned, then climbed into Sarah's lap. She scratched his neck.

     "We can't do a damned thing until this snow stops," Gideon said. He sighed and sat down on the sleeping bag beside Sarah, reached into her lap and ran his hand through Uriah's fur. His hand touched Sarah's.

     "Uriah, old buddy," he said. "You'd have been better off helping your old man dodge the draft." Uriah purred.

     "Break out the cards," he said to J. "It's going to be a long night."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORTY ONE ‑ MORANNE'S ARMY

 

 

Moranne arrived at the ranger’s station at four thirty a.m. As he turned onto the gravel drive, his headlights illuminated a tall, heavyset man in a fur‑lined parka, and the tan uniform of a ranger.

     "Hello," Tom Patterson held out his hand as Moranne climbed out of the car. The inspector ignored it. The ranger watched in surprise as a seemingly endless caravan pulled to a stop behind Moranne's car.

     "What did you do," Patterson asked, "bring your own God damned army?"

     "Exactly," Moranne said. Behind him, men started emerging from the line of cars. Each man wore indentical white, insulated jumpsuits with matching hoods.

     "Looks like a bunch of fuckin' Easter bunnies to me," Patterson said. "Stupid way to waste a fuckin' Christmas."

     Moranne glared at him. He remembered the humiliation he'd received at the last ranger station, and wasn't about to have it repeated.

     "Patterson," he said, his words knife sharp and deadly, "your job is to show us where these people are, and that's all I want from you. I don't want your home‑spun humor. I don't want your ideas. So, shut up."

     Moranne was very edgy. He'd received a telegram from Senator Pillhauser after San Jose, and another after Gideon escaped from him in San Francisco. The Senator's tone had not been polite, and the Inspector wanted no screw‑ups this time. The men he'd brought with him were professionals, and he had picked them all himself. Some, he'd had flown in from the East Coast during the night.

'No,' Moranne said to himself, 'there'll be no mistakes this time.'

     "My men will direct you to the canyon," Patterson said tersely. He avoided even a glance in Moranne's direction. He didn't like being treated that way by anyone, much less some big city asshole from Washington.

     "I want you there," Moranne said. "This is going to be a well-run operation, and I want someone culpable in charge at your end. Is that clear?"

     "Very clear, Inspector."

     Patterson led the group to a large map of the mountain range and used his big, red fingers to draw out the vital statistics. He described the valley, how it was laid out topographically and pinpointing the only two easy routes out of that valley from Gideon's camp.

     "Will our view be unobstructed?" One of the men in white asked. He had black, close cropped hair and green eyes. Dangerous eyes.

     "This time of the year?" Patterson thought it over. "Yeah, unobstructed."

     He counted heads as Moranne and the men huddled before the map. Twenty-four men to catch three college students. This would make a great story over a cup of coffee. Each man studied the map intently. Then, as if by a silent command, the men returned to the cars in groups of fours.

     "If you will be so kind as to show us the way," Moranne smiled graciously at the ranger.

     "Just follow me," Patterson walked to his jeep where his own men waited. He cranked it up, and led the parade up into the mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORTY‑TWO ‑ CHRISTMAS

 

 

Gideon and Sarah untangled themselves and lay side by side between the sleeping bags. She leaned into him and snaked a bare leg over his. Outside, the darkness was absolute, but it was morning.

     "Hear that?" he whispered.

     "What?" She tensed.

     "Nothing," Gideon said, "No sound, Sarah. The wind isn't blowing."

     "You scared me," she said. He turned to her and their bodies touched lightly. He kissed her nose.

     "Sorry."

     "Does that mean we can leave?"

     "Yes," he said. "That's exactly what it means. Let's get the hell out of here."

     They slipped from the covers and reached for their clothes. Sarah crept up behind Gideon as he tied his boots, and wrapped her arms around his chest.

     "Did you know today is Christmas?" she said in his ear.

     "Really?" he said, genuinely surprised.

     "Yes," she said, pressing her cheek against his shoulder blade. "I'd forgotten all about it until J. reminded me."

     "Well," he said, "it'll be one to remember."

     Sarah reached under her pile of clothes and withdrew the small package she and J. had been wrapping the night before. She placed it in his hand. Gideon watched her eyes as he tore apart the brown paper. Inside was a small, primitive horse, carved out of wood, and a note on white paper. Merry Christmas. I love you, the note said.

     "My father taught me," she said. "When I was young, I carved people and animals all the time. That's the first one I've done in years.

     He pulled her around to him and crushed her to his chest. She closed her eyes.

     "I love you, too," he said.

     "Hey!" J. said through the side of the tent. "Are you ready?"

     "Yeah," Gideon said. "We're coming out."

     They crawled through the tent flaps, then Sarah said, "Wait a minute." She went back inside. Gideon stood and looked around at the dark, snow covered valley. The first phantom light of morning dusted the snow. Sarah returned and Gideon helped her to her feet.

     "Uriah's gone," she said.

     "Damn," J. turned in a circle, looking.

     "We can't wait for him," Gideon said. He met Sarah's eyes, then J.'s. Tension hummed in the air between them. "In fact, I don't think we should even take down the camp."

     "Are you sure?" Sarah asked.

     "Yes," he said. "Let's go."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORTY‑THREE ‑ THE YELLOW BUTTON

 

 

The line of cars stopped in the darkness and headlights were flicked off almost in unison. The men left their cars with the doors still open, and formed a half circle around the ranger's jeep. Each man held an automatic rifle with a full clip. Pistols were holstered on each belt.

     "Jesus Christ," Patterson said. "That's quite an arsenal you've got there, Inspector."

     Moranne walked down the row of men, checking this and tapping that. "Okay," he said to the men, "Get in formation."

     They lined up, four abreast, and waited for the ranger. He was startled.

     "Officer Patterson?" Moranne introduced him.

     "Okay," he regained his composure. He looked them over in disbelief, "I'm going to take you men to the ridge that overlooks the valley. When we get there, you can spread out for your descent."

     "Thank you," Moranne said.

     "Once you're there, you've got them," Patterson continued. "If you concentrate your strength on those two points, you can force them into an easy surrender."

     "I said, thank you," Moranne repeated. The ranger turned toward him, his face even more red than usual. The inspector smiled his cold smile. "Now, can we get on with it?"

 

 

Moranne had equipped his men with tiny buzzers that attached to their wrists. He held a little gray box in his hand that activated the buzzers. All he had to do was press his thumb down on a small, yellow button located on top of the box, and all the buzzers would buzz at once.

     This little box was Moranne's secret weapon. It enabled him to make all his men act as one, on his command. There would be no room for a sloppy job at this point in the game.

     "Hold it!" he said as the men began to creep stealthily through the snow. He stepped up to the last two men in line, and grabbed them by the shoulders. Lobajeski and Colletti looked back at him, both feeling silly in the white suits.

     Moranne stepped between them and pressed the yellow button. Twenty-four little buzzers buzzed together. "Beautiful," he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORTY‑FOUR ‑ THUNDER

 

 

Gideon held Sarah's hand in his left and J.'s in his right. They looked from one to the other, searching for words. The first true light of dawn settled around them, casting an eerie half‑light on the snowy forest that surrounded the camp.

     Above them, twenty-four men in white jump suits moved invisibly through the snow. Even in the increasing light they blended into the drifts. They circled the camp, each man dropping out of line with a trained discipline as he reached his appointed place.

     Moranne knelt beside a large, flat rock on the ridge and watched the pale shadows of his men as they took their positions. A wide, humorless grin was stretched across his face. Tom Patterson stood behind him, shielded by a clump of dense brush. Hubert Fogg, one of his rangers, stood beside him.

     Below, three figures stood around a stack of supplies. "They're holding hands, for Christ's sake," Patterson said. Fogg chuckled quietly. He leaned his head into Patterson's.

     "Hey, Tom," Fogg said, almost casually, "How come they don't just go down there and arrest the fuckers? How hard could it be?"

     "I don't know, Hubert," Patterson replied. "This must be the way they do it in Washington."

 

 

"Gideon," Sarah said. She pulled her hand from his and pointed to a blur of color behind a low bunch of thick, wiry brush. "It's Uriah."

     Gideon turned in the direction she pointed. He saw Uriah prance around the edge of the last small bush. The cat had something in his mouth, and he was straining to hold his head up.

     Uriah slowed as he approached the camp, and swaggered up the snowy trail. He growled proudly as he pushed himself through the deep drifts toward the three people. He wanted to show off his catch.

     In his mouth was a broken, dead magpie. Its dull, ball‑bearing eyes stared, unseeing, at the ground.

     "God," Gideon said, looking up to the top of the hills around them. He saw movement. So did Sarah. J. had removed his glasses and was cleaning them on his scarf.

     "Gideon?" Sarah clutched his arm.

     "The car!" Gideon said, pulling a startled J. away from the camp. He pushed Sarah ahead of him. "Head for the car!"

     When Moranne pressed the little yellow button, twenty-four rifles fired again and again, until the sound was like thunder rumbling through the valley.

EPILOGUE

 

 

During preparations for this book, I contacted many remnants of the political movement from the late 60s. Most had become respectable members of the community. Some remained outsiders, iconoclasts. I left my phone number with a lot of people. When the phone rang on June 22, 2011, I thought it might be another clue to the story of Gideon Holley.

 

     The caller addressed me by name, and I asked if I knew him.

     "No," he said, "we've never met. But I heard you were doing your homework on Gideon Holley."

     "Yes, I am," I said. "Would you mind telling me who you are?"

     "My name is Anthony Colletti," he said. "I think we should talk."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Note...

     The speech Gideon gave at Flagstaff is an excerpt from a real speech written by a friend, A.V. Archer, myself, and others aboard something we called the ELF Bus. The speech was delivered convincingly by an earnest looking member of our group to a filled hall of revolutionary leaders at the National Students Association National Congress at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, the summer of 1970.

     It included the line, “Now, there are enough silk stockings to cover one woman’s leg in the whole world twice! Yet, there are people starving in China!”

     The speaker, whose name was Peter, spoke with passion. The rest of us, who had been on the road for many months watching the riots and demonstrations and wanted these campus leaders to understand the difference between rhetoric and reality, planted ourselves in the audience. We cheered Peter's speech and applauded at every intake of breath. Soon, our cheers were drowned out by the loud support of the crowd.

 

 

 

 

     The magpie was real, too. It stayed with me for a long time. Go figure.

                       Michael McKinney

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