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Cover Design by Mayfly Design, LLC

On His Own Terms

Bike and rider photography: Jana Freiband

The bike comes from the Rydjor Bike Shop in Austin, Minnesota. It is a 1973 Peugeot PX10E. This is how it is described on the Rydjor Bike Collection website.

This bicycle is a one owner beauty originally purchased in Postville, Iowa in 1973.  Dan Ulwelling, co-founder of Rydjor and avid collector of vintage bikes, acquired the bike in 1999.  It has a completely French made component mix including Super Champ rims, Maillard hubs, Stronglight cranks, Simplex derailleurs and Mafac brakes. This model was called the PX10E and has the distinctive Peugeot colors.

The rider, Ryan Beard, is an employee at Rydjor Bike Shop in Austin, Minnesota. He displayed an amazing patience and willingness to help out as we made him climb a gravel hill repeatedly in hot August sunshine.

The jersey is a Vintage Molteni cycling jersey similar to the one worn by racing legend Eddy Merckx. From the Rydjor Bike Shop Collection.

The vintage leather cycling helmet is from the Rydjor Bike Shop Collection.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Table of Contents 2

1967, Spring 3

1970: Madison, Wisconsin 7

Ma’s Place 19

Surf and Turf 36

Bike Gear 58

Devil’s Lake 77

Reflect 99

Zoo Kitchen 152

On the Road 162

Veterans 170

Prairie du Chien 196

Cabin Life 217

Hitchhiking 241

Reckoning 288

The Bike Shop 304

Wedding Days 316

Boston 343

June 1971, French Sundays 376

1967, Spring

“Everybody’s butting into out business, telling us we’re doing it all wrong. I hate this town. I can’t hardly breathe.”

The words, his words, hovered over the lake. Delone flicked his pole, sending the Dardevle Spoon in an arc across the water. He let it sink a moment then reeled in slowly.

He flicked the reel again. The lure cut a jagged edge through his rant, letting his mother’s words wedge into the gap.

“You shouldn’t have said that to the Zimmermans.”

“Why not? I got the money, didn’t I?”

The water swirled behind his lure. Delone let it sink to the bottom of the lake. He wasn’t here to catch fish. He was here, again, to breathe.

“I told you to bring the laundry back to the house if they don’t give you two dollars. I’ve told you that for years. But you don’t listen to me anymore. You let your mouth run loose. You offend people. Now the Zimmermans are going to take their laundry to someone else and I’m going to be short two dollars next week. We need that money, Dear. You have to be careful what you say.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all! It just gets pushed back in my face, anyway.”

That’s why he was here, again. He dropped his rod and stomped around the shoreline, kicking at anything he saw.

“They didn’t give us two dollars. They gave us one dollar and a buck’s worth of groceries from the church’s food shelf,” he pleaded to the lake. It listened, but didn’t respond.

“That’s not just ripping off white trash. That’s ripping off the church. Why can’t we tell the church what they’re doing? Why do we always have to be the ones who stuff it?”

The words lingered in the air, then faded away, like they always do.

“We have to stuff it because no one listens to us anyway,” Delone explained to himself, again. “Its always been that way.”

He sat on a piece of driftwood, picked up the pole and let it balance on his fingertips. His breath came in short bursts, letting the tears flow, but holding back the sobs while his mind roamed the grounds of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. It was his last chance, his only chance, to get out of town.

He could breathe there. He knew it as soon as he stepped out of their ten year old, smoke billowing, car and saw students with books, real books, not just the family Bible, scurrying around, moving with purpose, talking and laughing. This is where he wanted to go after graduation. This is where he could escape to, where he could put the labels, the looks, the slights, behind him and start fresh. College would free him. It would breathe life into his lungs. It would…

Delone heard his name. His mind raced back to Long Lake.

“Went away again, didn’t you Delone?” It was his brother Wally, the youngest.

“Mom says if you don’t come home for dinner right now, she’s going to put it away and you won’t get anything to eat until breakfast. We ate half an hour ago.”

“I’m not hungry,” Delone said. He flicked the pole absentmindedly.

“Suit yourself,” Wally said. “You’re not missing much, anyway. Oyster crackers and milk again. It’s the end of the month.”

Delone nodded. Wally headed home.

“Madison won’t happen if the VA scholarship doesn’t come through.” Delone told the lake. “I’ll just suffocate.”

He tugged the line. The lure caught on weeds. He jerked it angrily, ripping them out to the roots and dragged the mess to shore. He tore at them, hooking himself on the treble hook.

“I HATE the Zimmermans! I HATE their fancy Cadillac, and their fancy clothes, and everything else about them!”

The words drifted over the lake and faded into the horizon. He flicked the pole. A shaft of light bounced off the spinner as it arced through the air. He let it sink, then reeled in slowly. The water swirled again. He felt a tug on the line and pulled back quickly to set the hook. He had a large-mouth bass on the line and manhandled it to shore. This wasn’t sport fishing, that’s for rich folk, he had a hungry brother at home.

“Delone, Dear,” his mother said as he entered the house. “I’m sorry I got so angry at you. It’s just that…”

Delone held the fish triumphantly in front of her.

“It’s just that….” Her voice trailed off. Tears welled up.

“I’ll clean it right away,” Delone promised.

Within the hour he had the fish frying in margarine while his mother and brother pressed in close behind him. He served generous portions to each and still had enough for himself, but he lingered over his portion as he watched his brother gorge himself.

“Delone, Dear,” his mother said as she finished her last bite. “The mail came while you were at the lake. There’s a letter from the VA.”

Delone bolted from the table.

“Wally! No!”

But it was too late. Wally had already snatched the uneaten bites of Delone’s fish and popped them into his mouth.

“Delone, I meant to tell you as soon as you came home, but I saw the fish and, you know, we haven’t had much to eat lately.”

Delone’s hands shook as he pried open the letter. He scanned the contents.

“I got it! I can go to Madison!”

He danced a quick two-step.

“In four months I can kiss this town goodbye.”

“I wish you weren’t so excited about leaving,” Margaret, his mother, said. “You’ve got family here, and friends.”

Delone ran up to his room with the paper clutched in his hand.

1970: Madison, Wisconsin

From the top of Observatory Drive, Delone could see all of Lake Mendota, including Picnic Point just off to his left. During the three years that he’d been on campus, he’d never ventured past it, or paid much attention to anything beyond the kayaks and sailboats on University Bay. Up here, he could ignore the anti-war protests on University Avenue and discount the Teaching Assistant’s Strike that had crippled campus. He could pretend, sometimes, that he actually belonged on campus, that the difference between his background and that of the rich east coast kids didn’t matter. He could pretend that campus was the great leveler, that education was the same for everyone.

But today, out beyond Picnic Point, he saw a fishing boat. Squat, gray, powered by a small outboard engine and hosting a lone fisherman, it symbolized his relationship to campus. He was on the outside, looking in, pretending that he had as much right to be here as everyone else.

He glanced at his watch, 12:45. Campus was shut down for Earth Day. Ecology “Teach-ins” replaced classes for the day. He was registered for a one o’clock session on an obscure topic titled the “Greenhouse Gas Effect.”

Delone scanned Lake Mendota again. The fisherman was gone. He’d drifted out of sight to the other side of Picnic Point. Someday, Delone told himself, he would go beyond Picnic Point, beyond the edge of campus, to see what was out there. He mounted his bicycle and drifted down the serpentine descent of Observatory Drive.

**

Dr. Robert Hergass strode to the podium. Tall, mid-30s, shoulder length strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes and an athletic build gone soft, he shuffled a few papers, addressed a cluster of post graduate co-eds, some of the most beautiful women on campus, then scanned the auditorium.

“Thank you for attending the first of what we hope will be an annual Earth Day observance,” he began. “My name is Dr. Robert Hergass. I’m a climate scientist and I’ll be talking about the Greenhouse Gas Effect.

“Greenhouse gasses trap heat in the atmosphere. Without them, heat from the sun would simply disappear into space, leaving Earth as cold as the moon. Too many gasses, however, capture excessive heat, potentially warming the planet until it can no longer support life. But before we get into the causes and environmental consequences of greenhouse gases, I want to give a brief history of climate science.

“I’ll begin with the Swedish scientist Svante Arrheius who calculated, in the late 19th century, the impact of CO2 on the earth’s climate.”

“What about Eunice Newton Foote?”

The question came from a short woman with dusty brown hair and a deep tan. She stood to be heard better, revealing powerful legs scarred by small cuts and scrapes.

“She proposed the greenhouse gas effect.”

“Hello, Celeste,” Dr. Hergass responded. “I should have known that you would bring out the contribution of women scientists.

“For those of you who haven’t heard about Mrs. Foote, she was the first to define the effect of CO2 on climate in a paper presented in 1856 to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mrs. Foote, however, was not allowed to present her paper because she was a woman, so it was presented by Professor John Henry of the Smithsonian Institution.

“Thank you, Miss Goldman.”

The beauty queens stole surreptitious glances at Miss Goldman, determined that she was pretty in her own way, but not in their league, and returned their gazes to Dr. Hergass.

“It should be noted,” Professor Hergass continued. “That Mr. Arrheius and Mrs. Foote were building on a relatively new scientific principal. Prior to 1700, almost no one believed that climate changed at all. What you see today is what the earth has looked like since the Creation. Erratic boulders, marine fossils on hilltops and other phenomenon were easily explained by the Biblical Flood.

“James Hutton proposed an alternate theory late in the 18th Century. In Hutton’s theory, glaciers scoured and changed the shape of the land and many small processes, such as erosion and floods, significantly changed the face of the earth over a very long time. Those changes are still going on, and they account for every landscape feature you see today, including hills, valleys, lakes and rivers.”

“Dear Mr. Wurzler,” Delone wrote in his notebook. “The earth was not created in six days according to a climate professor here on campus. You’ll have to change what you teach in Sunday School. I think you’ll like the professor. He stares at women’s breasts during his lectures like you used to stare up the dresses of girls in Sunday School class.”

“So if glaciers could suddenly appear on the horizon where they’d never been before, what changed? Why did they come and go? That’s the question geologists tried to answer throughout the 19th Century. Mrs. Foote and Mr. Arrheius were part of that discussion. There were a lot of scientific theories. If you want more details, sign up for my introductory class in climate science.”

A tall brunette from the beauty queen cluster raised her hand.

Delone tried not to stare, but it was impossible. He’d never seen anyone as beautiful, or as out of his league. She was one of those co-eds whose hair floated in the wind as they sailed University Bay. He was the fisherman off Picnic Point.

“You have a question?” Hergass addressed her. “Please state your name.”

“Brenda Larson,” the brunette stated. Delone noted that the Professor jotted something, possibly her name, on a notepad.

“What’s the difference between a scientific theory and a conspiracy theory?”

Low laughter circulated through the auditorium.

“That’s a good question,” Hergass responded. “The answer is ‘Not much.’”

The laughter died down.

“The difference is in the approach to proving, or disproving, the theory. The best theories hold up to the toughest attempts to disprove them. In the world of science that process can be brutal, personal and infused with a lot of over-sized egos, but in the end it’s the evidence that counts.

“Conspiracy theories rarely go through that process. They ignore contrary evidence and seek out only supporting evidence. They fall apart when all of the evidence is taken into account.

“So, Miss Larson.” The professor’s gaze lingered on her face and scanned lower. “The best answer to your question is that there is little to distinguish a scientific theory from a conspiracy theory or a religious theory. They are all just theories. The best stand up to rigorous testing.”

Miss Larson smiled demurely, causing the professor to lose track of his thoughts. He never regained his rhythm.

It was obvious to the beauty queens that Miss Larson had won this round. Mirrors came out, make-up was applied and nails inspected. Hergass rambled. After listening to ten minutes of his nonsense, Celeste Goldman stood up abruptly.

“You are no longer making sense,” she said directly to Hergass and stomped out of the room. Her protest galvanized a general feeling and the auditorium emptied.

Delone had more questions than answers, so he stayed to the confusing end. Hergass, however, had lost all interest in the Teach-In and ended the lecture as soon as the allotted time expired. He took no questions and zeroed in on Miss Brenda Larson.

**

Anti-war protests resumed the next day with a matinee event designed for Walter Cronkite. Delone took up his usual perch on the lawn of the Chemistry Building, outside the protest zone, but close enough to follow the action.

Down on University Avenue, protesters milled around while National Guard troops stood at ease a block away. City police, partially geared up in riot gear and proudly displaying their PIG buttons (Pride Integrity, Guts), stood in small clusters.

Delone’s mind wandered as the protesters waited for the TV cameras to appear.

“If the planet is warming dangerously and threatening civilization itself, what difference does it make if the Vietnam War ends today or goes on for another decade?” He wondered.

“Except, of course, that my draft number is 129. A quick wind-down will keep me out of the war.

“And what about those guys getting killed daily? What did it matter to them that the planet might be too hot for humans in a hundred years? And that pretty brunette? Was she there because she wanted to learn about conspiracy theories or to swoon over this oversexed professor?”

It was the kind of dialogue that could swirl around in Delone’s head forever.

“PIGS!” The voice came from the knoll, several yards to Delone’s right.

He glanced up to see three police officers racing toward him. They were grinning and scowling, and they had the pepper spray out. Delone jumped to his feet and bolted, but the pepper caught up. His throat burned and he could barely see through the tears. The incident was over in a minute, because the cops ran out of breath, but they managed to slap each other on the back and chuckle. They were just having a little fun at the expense of the hippies.

Coughing and blinking away tears, Delone shuffled toward the back of the building. He leaned against a maple tree and slid slowly to the ground. A shaft of sunlight pierced through his tears, doubling the pain in his eyes. He shifted to the shady side of the tree. He was still coughing and nearly blind with tears when he heard a camera click several times, then a voice asked.

“Are you OK?”

“I got gassed,” he replied. He felt the light touch of a damp handkerchief dabbed around his eyes. He coughed hard, throwing his head directly into the finger behind the dabbing handkerchief. It poked his left eye. White flashes and floating purple blobs filled his vision. The finger pulled away quickly.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was only trying to.. oh, are you OK?”

Delone’s right eye cleared enough to see the Brunette hovering inches from his face. She had a look of horror on her face.

“I’m OK,” he said, but he wasn’t. He wanted to retreat to a point deep inside his shell. Why did it have to be her? Why couldn’t it be someone in his league, or some matronly lady, or a guy who would say

“Shake it off, man. It’s just pepper gas. Tonight you’ll be drinking beer at the tavern and impressing the girls with protest stories.”

“I’m OK. I’m sure you have other things to do.” Delone said. It came out wrong.

“Are you sure?” She asked. “What happened? Were you in the front of the protest, or the back?”

“Neither,” Delone said. “I was sitting in front of the Chemistry Building with a bunch of others, watching from a distance when three PIGS charged us. I got some pepper gas in my eyes. I’ll be alright.” Delone got up to leave. Even through blurred vision he could see how beautiful she was. He had to get away.

“Wait,” the Brunette said. “I’ve got water to flush your eyes. That’ll help.”

“I’m OK,” Delone insisted.

“Can you at least tell me your name?”

“Delone.”

“D_E_L_O-N-E?”

“Yes.”

“What’s your last name?”

“Delone, just Delone. I’ve got to go.”

He stumbled off quickly. In the background, a block away, he heard chants about war being bad for the planet. The TV cameras must have arrived. He didn’t stop until he reached the bike rack at Memorial Union.

Standing near the water, staring at the rippling waves of the lake, he took a deep breath. Except for a few floaters, his left eye was clear. The pepper gas was gone, along with the tears and scratchy throat.

He unlocked his bike, wrapped the cable around his waist and pedaled to the top of Observatory Drive. University Bay was dotted with a few sailboats, piloted by beautiful women and athletic men, all bundled in sweaters and tight jeans, but Delone’s eyes went to the far shore of the lake, well beyond the protesters and the sailors.

He pedaled down the west side of Observatory Drive and hugged the shore. Picnic Point came and went as did the graduate student housing just beyond. He kept the lake on his right, to act as a guide, bumped into dead ends and got forced out to University Avenue, the same avenue where protesters chanted on campus.

Out here it was an orderly street with free flowing cars, office buildings and small businesses. Out here, he was just a bicyclist, although one with long hair and a beard. No one asked questions or attached labels while he was on the bike. He could just ride. He could breathe.

The road took him northeast, almost opposite his starting direction. Traffic dropped away and complete neighborhoods gave way to scattered clusters of homes. A tailwind pushed him along the north side of the lake. Long, deep inhalations of oxygen filled his lungs.

Picnic Point jutted into the lake, but it was distant, across an expanse of water. Behind it was campus and beyond that University Avenue.

“Is the protest still on?”

It was a fleeting thought.

The road angled away from the lake, turning the tailwind into a cross wind. He leaned into the wind and pushed harder on the pedals. The highway turned again, putting the wind at his back. He flew downwind, turned right on a promising road that hugged the lake shore and stopped on a bridge to look at the water. A sign identified it as the Yahara River. The Yahara River ran through Tenney Park, on the other side of the lake, near campus. Were they the same river?

He rode on, cutting through an isolated peninsula surrounded by marsh, dropping to near water level and rising again into a middle class neighborhood. He couldn’t see the lake, but he could sense it, a large open space on his right, beyond the trees and houses.

Side roads sprouted in every direction. He stayed with what appeared to be the through street, but a wrong turn put him on high ground near the shore. Middle class houses gave way to mansions with views of the State Capitol.

The Capitol was no longer on the far side of the lake, it was down the shore. He’d already circled three quarters of the lake. Twenty minutes, and several wrong turns, took him to Tenny Park. He checked the name of the river, it was the Yahara.

The river churned as it escaped the locks of Tenney Park, then settled into a quiet flow through the man made channel connecting Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.

Delone pedaled aimlessly around the park.

“Get a car, Deloner!”

It was Dicky, his roommate. He was tossing a football around with Neal and Mike, his other roommates.

“Where you been Deloner? You were supposed to be here an hour ago. Didn’t you see the note on the refrigerator?” Dicky asked.

“Sorry, I forgot.” Delone responded.

“Hey Baby, you’re hot!” Dicky let out a wolf whistle.

Delone and Neal exchanged eye rolls.

The roommates invited Delone to join in a friendly game of two-on-two. He declined, but they insisted. Dicky picked Mike as his teammate, leaving Neal to play with the inept Delone. The game was as lopsided as expected and wrapped up quickly.

“Sorry,” Delone said to Neal. “I’m not much of an athlete.”

Neal shrugged. “You look tired. Did you do a long bike ride?”

“I rode around Lake Mendota.”

Neal looked toward the lake and took in it’s circumference with his eyes.

“Damn!” He said. “How far is that?”

“I don’t know. I don’t have a speedometer.”

“I started running.” Neal patted his stomach. “I need to burn off this pouch. I probably ran less than half a mile, but I get that Aerobics stuff. There’s a rush to it. I could see training for a marathon.”

“Seriously? You’re talking about running 26 miles?”

“Thinking about it. Are you riding back to the apartment? I’ll run along if you don’t mind.” Neal poked his thumb toward Dicky at the far end of the field.

“It beats riding with him.”

“He’s gotten worse lately. What’s up?”

“Dropped from the football team,” Neal explained. “He hasn’t said anything, but he stopped working out at the gym and doesn’t go to practice.”

Neal stopped running halfway to the apartment. He bent over, placed his hands on his knees and gasped for breath. Delone dismounted and waited. When Neal was ready to move again, the two of them walked together.

“Have you heard from Ted?” Delone asked.

“A couple of days ago. He asks about you, but you’re never around.”

“How’s he doing?”

“Between you and me, I think he’s losing it. He found a hilltop on the edge of town during one of his walks and wants to build a cabin up there. He thinks the farmer will just let him do it. Nobody in their right mind would let a stranger build a cabin on their land.

“I didn’t say that to him,” Neal continued. “I figure he’s still got about a year and a half on this Conscientious Objector gig. If he can dream about building a cabin in the woods for a couple of those months, it might keep him sane for a little longer.”

He shrugged.

“Of course, I didn’t think he’d pull off the Conscientious Objector thing, either. I thought he was headed to Cambodia.”

“I’ll call him,” Delone said, “but not this weekend. I’m heading back home.”

“You don’t get there often, do you?”

“Maybe it won’t be so bad now.”

“Is your family still there?” Neal asked. Delone clammed up. He cursed himself for leaving that opening. Neal eyed him carefully.

“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to pry.”

**

‘Police Attack Innocent Bystanders with Tear Gas, Mace’ blared the Daily Cardinal the next morning. It was more of the same old stuff; breathless headlines about the war in Vietnam or the protests at home. Delone rolled up the newspaper and tucked it into his duffle.

He walked to East Washington Avenue and stuck out his thumb. Within a minute he had a ride to the I-94 ramp where he stood on a narrow dirt path, no more than 20 feet long, worn in by college hitchhikers.

Ma’s Place

Ma’s Place, a squat hut made larger through misfitting additions, sat on a dark stretch of highway near the edge of town. It served beer only, which made it a legal drinking establishment for returning college students like 20 year old Delone Taylor.

Ma, the proprietor, stood about 5 foot 3 in her sturdy black shoes. Her voice, gravelly from three decades of working smoky bars, was still strong enough to silence a noisy tavern. A no-nonsense bar owner, Ma didn’t provoke easily, but she ruled with an iron fist, and a broom handle when the need arose.

When Ma charged from behind the bar wielding her broom, the regulars stepped back, leaving a clear corridor to the offender of the night. She was fearless, but not foolish. There was always one lout in the building who could swat away the broom and lift her off the floor with one hand. It never happened, because Ma called the police before her charge. The wise offender offered a swift apology and a hasty exit. The ignorant received a star-inducing whack with the broom and a close encounter with the local sheriff, who probably knew his name and his parents.

Ma’s Place was the first stop for returning college students, soldiers on leave and wanderers. It was the place to catch up with neighbors and high school friends, check out the opposite sex and reconnect with people who stayed in town after graduation. For locals, it was a chance to see how the military or college changed those who left town.

Delone changed. His beard went wild and hair long. Combined with the rail thin appearance of someone on drugs, he attracted attention, both good and bad.

The good came from Patty, who stayed in town after graduation. Bored with the bar scene, equally bored with staying at home, and clueless about alternatives, she slipped from a rowdy group of friends and pulled a seat next to Delone at the bar. He played to the University stereotype. She clung to his words, but Delone began a slow retreat. The bar scene never suited his temperament.

The bad arrived in the form of a burly drunk who stuck his head between Delone and Patty. He ordered a drink for himself and the “little lady,” then draped his armpit over Delone’s shoulder.

“Hey Hippie, got any of that there merry wanna on you?”

He played to the three guys who egged him into harassing Delone, with the possible goal of picking a fight, and to Patty. The first audience snickered and elbowed each other in the ribs, the second rolled her eyes.

Ma placed a couple of 8-ounce taps on the bar with a stern warning.

“Don’t start any trouble, Ron.”

“Ain’t no trouble at all, Ma. Just talking with my old hippie friend here.” He placed 30 cents on the bar. Ma scooped it up and moved on.

“Hey, hippie, you into that Free Love stuff, thinking maybe you’ll get a little here with Patty? She’s a good girl, ain’t you, Patty? And my friend Brad over there, he’s got his eyes on her, so don’t go trying anything funny or you’ll find out what a real man can do to a skinny little shithead like you.”

He bumped Delone hard on the shoulder as he staggered back to his buddies.

“You Fuckin’ son of a Fuckin’ Bitch!” Buddy One said as he punched Ron in the arm. Delone could see the action in the bar mirror, Ma’s eyes behind her head. Brad, he looked familiar, stepped half a step back from the group and stared at the mirror. His focus was on Patty. She glanced at the mirror, then down at her drink. Brad shifted his gaze toward Delone, who stared at the mirror vaguely, saw him indirectly and refused eye contact.

“Don’t mind him,” Patty said.

“Who?” Delone asked.

Patty’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Ron, he’s an asshole.” She paused. “Who’d you think I was talking about?”

“Brad.”

Patty took a deep draw on her cigarette.

“He’s staring at you in the mirror.”

She glanced up, then back at her drink.

“He’s a pussycat,” she said. “He tries to act tough, especially around those guys, but it makes him look stupid.”

Ron and his buddies sauntered toward the bar. Ron stuck his head between Delone and Patty while buddy One boxed Delone in on one side and Two stood directly behind him. Brad shifted toward Patty’s side, but held back several feet.

“MA! A pitcher for me and my buddies.

“Hey Hippie, this beer’s on us! We was just havin’ a little fun. No hard feelings, OK?”

“OK.” Delone said but kept his eyes on the mirror. It was the only way to see them all at the same time.

Ma shifted to the far side of the bar and picked up the phone. She had her back to the crowd, but her eyes scanned the mirror while she talked. She served a couple of customers at the far end of the bar, then filled the pitcher.

“Hey MA! Where’s that beer? My hippie friend here is gettin’ thirsty.”

Ma placed the pitcher in front of Ron, he placed a dollar on the counter. She held the handle an extra second and glanced out the front window, then released it.

“Ron,” she cautioned. “I don’t want no trouble.”

“No trouble, Ma. We’re going to toast our new friend.”

Patty covered her glass with a hand, but it wasn’t necessary. Ron had forgotten about her. He overfilled Delone’s glass, sending beer across the bar. Delone shifted back, but the stool wouldn’t move. Buddy Two was tight against it. The beer flowed into Delone’s lap.

“Shit man, you peed your pants! Hey! The hippie peed his pants!”

There was a commotion in the barroom. Delone saw Ma’s broom handle swing in a compact, vicious arc and ducked instinctively. Ron crumpled as the handle cracked across his shoulder. Delone swung around on the stool.

“Ma! I can leave. I don’t want to cause trouble.”

“You got the same right to stay here as anyone,” she said as three officers walked in.

“Ma got you good on that one, Ron,” the sheriff said. Ma nodded toward the two buddies.

“Let’s go boys. We don’t want any trouble.”

Delone slipped along the bar to the door, but one of the officers blocked his way.

“No one leaves,” he said. Delone tried the Men’s room, but the door was locked.

“Where you going, Hippie?”

“He’s OK.” Ma said.

“You’re OK, Hippie. What’s the rush? Ma said you can stay.”

“Yes Sir, but one guy’s got a broken shoulder and the others are going to sleep off a drunk in jail because of me. Those guys have friends in here.”

“You one of Margaret’s boys in the Hollow?”

“Yes.”

“You the youngest?”

“No, the third.”

“We never had any trouble with any of you, except him. He’s OK, but has a streak in him.”

“We all do.”

“Yeah. Here they come.” The officer pulled a high-powered flashlight out of his holster and shined it directly into Ron’s eyes, blinding him.

“Stay in the shadows around back,” he instructed Delone. “We’ll have them out of here in two minutes.”

Delone slipped out the door and squatted behind a 55-gallon oil drum.

Ma walked outside with the Sheriff. The two of them stood a couple of feet from the drum.

“Georgia, I’ve told you before. We have a whole county to patrol. We can’t be stopping here every weekend.”

“I’m doin’ my best,” Ma replied. “They’re just kids letting off steam.”

“You could’ve sent them outside to fight it out instead of calling us. The boys would have knocked that hippie kid around a little. He’d go back to college and we could get over to the Little Pines on ‘P.’ They’ve been having some problems over there lately.”

“That hippie kid is part of the welfare clan in the Hollow. They’re no trouble and Margaret needs a break. She got those boys through school. She doesn’t need no more trouble.”

“Your choice Georgia, but your beer license is up for renewal in two months and I have to file an incidence report for the City Council.”

The squads pulled away from the parking lot.

Delone slipped through shadows to neighborhood streets, then assumed a quick, but casual, walk. He detoured toward Long Lake and hiked down the fisherman’s path to shore. The moon came out from behind clouds and cast a beam across the lake.

“Welfare clan, Margaret’s boys, Never had a problem, Hippie kid, Knock him around a little.”

The words hung over the lake.

‘…has a streak to him.’

“We all do.”

He walked the path, climbed a fence, dropped down on private property and walked to another hideaway. The words were supposed to drift across the water, not follow him. His breath tightened. He was suffocating, and only six hours after returning.

The words re-formed.

“You don’t belong here.”

Delone leaned against a tree and clasped his hands behind his head. He should have known it wouldn’t work. He had too much history, and too many labels, to overcome.

He’d seen a bigger world in Madison and heard new ideas. He’d met smart and ambitious people who moved with confidence and goals. People who thought they could make a difference or get rich or start a family and live a comfortable life.

He didn’t fit with them, either.

He let his hair grow and his beard bush out, but why? All it did was give him new labels: hippie, drugs, free love. He didn’t fit that mold, either.

And there was no way he could get involved in a relationship while hiding so much of his past. That kind of intimacy was just too scary. He took a deep breath and let it out in a long slow exhale.

The moon cast its pale blue light cast across the lake and into the woods. Delone watched it play among the trees. He could still observe. He could do it here in the woods and he could do it on his bike. He could pass through those other worlds as a specter.

**

“You’re home early,” Margaret said.

“Nothing going on tonight. I’m heading back to Madison early tomorrow.”

“You just got here. I thought you were going to stay for the weekend. Wally’s working the night shift at the paper mill, you know. He said he’d stop by around noon.”

“Something came up. I have to get back.”

“What’s wrong? You come home moody, you look like you haven’t eaten for a week, then you say you’re going to leave the next morning. Are you smoking that funny tobacco?”

“No, marijuana makes me feel stupid the next day. I don’t like it.”

“So you have smoked it.”

“Everyone has. It’s no big deal.”

“It leads to heroin and out-of-wedlock sex. It’s true. Oral Roberts says so.”

“Right, I’m tired. Will you take me out to the highway in the morning or do I have to walk?”

“I wish you’d get a car, I don’t like this hitchhiking. Your Uncle George has one that he’ll sell cheap. We could go there tomorrow. And I can help with gas. I don’t have much, but it would get you to Madison.

“I don’t need money. Next week I start cooking at the Surf and Turf.”

“But you’re so…”

“Mom, was Dad violent when he was home?”

Margaret stopped mid-sentence.

“He never hit any of you. I made sure of that.”

“Did he hit you?” Delone pushed. Margaret didn’t answer. After a long pause, Delone followed up.

“I’m like you, Mom. There are things I don’t want to talk about. I’m not on drugs. I’m not in trouble. I just have to figure out some things on my own. I know this, though. I don’t belong here.”

“You have family here, and friends. You had good friends in high school. Nice boys. They were smart. They didn’t cause trouble.”

“I’m not getting into that, Mom. How old was I when Dad left?”

“You were three and a half.”

“Did he ever come back to live with us again, or was that it? He just left.”

“He didn’t just leave. I had to send him away. I wanted him to come back, and so did he. We talked about packing up and moving somewhere else, to get away from all the talk. We tried for two years, but you know what he’s like. He just never got any better.”

“I don’t have a single memory of him when he was home, not one.”

“You would hide behind a chair and plead with him to stop screaming,” Margaret said. “I think you tried to block that out later, but you had nightmares and then you’d go away, just like you do now. Maybe if you went to see him, you’d see that he isn’t dangerous. He’d like that.”

“Why? So I can hear him say the same stupid things he always says?” Delone’s voice was tense, exasperated.

“‘I dug her grave. It was a hundred and five in the shade. God said I was going to live to a hundred and five. Hyup!’” He mocked, even imitating the cut-off laugh of his Dad.

“We made wine from raisins. The ants beat us to it. We scooped them out and drank it anyway. Hyup!”

“Don’t say that about your Dad. You know its not his fault.”

“Why not? Everyone else does. What am I supposed to say? ‘Hi Dad,’ then look at my feet like we always did when we visited him?”

“I had some very nice talks with your Dad while you and your brothers played.”

The headache returned. Delone pressed the bridge of his nose tightly between thumb and forefinger. It was the only thing that helped. His mother’s voice faded as he drifted away.

**

“Don’t stare,” his mother demanded, but how could he avoid it? His Dad’s tongue popped out, searched his upper lip, slid to one side and nearly touched his cheek. It was massive. It flopped down to his chin, wandered aimlessly, then popped back into his mouth.

Margaret wiped down his mouth and chin with a handkerchief, then started talking to him as if nothing had happened. Delone couldn’t watch it, and he couldn’t not watch it. His eyes slid up the wheelchair, past the limp arm and the belly paunch. He tried to stop at the shoulders, but couldn’t. He saw the tongue prowling inside the left cheek, then the right. His eyes climbed higher and caught his Dad looking at him. He looked down with a start.

**

When Delone opened his eyes, Margaret handed him a glass of water.

“You went away again, Dear. Here, have a drink of water.”

Delone sipped it.

“I’ve never visited him on my own,” he said after a couple of minutes. “It was always the whole family.”

“You’re an adult now. You should visit your Dad. He’d like that.”

“Would he even know me?”

“Of course he would. When you kids played in the lounge or on the grounds, I’d tell him everything I could think of. He wanted to be your Dad so much, but then he’d have another episode.”

“I remember hearing a man screaming on the fourth floor. One of the patients wheeled up to Dad and said ‘You were screaming pretty loud last night, Joe.’ I looked at Dad and he nodded, like he was saying ‘Yes,’ then he dozed off. That’s the first time that I realized he was crazy. I asked you about it and you finally admitted it.”

“I wanted you to figure it on your own. I didn’t want you to put a label on him before you knew who he was.”

“OK. I get that. Our family collects labels all the time. But I don’t know anything about Dad, except that he sat in a wheelchair and slept a lot. And, of course, that tongue. It seems to have a mind of its own.”

“Don’t blame that tongue on him. They have him on some pretty heavy drugs.”

“I’m just telling you what I know about him, and it isn’t much.”

Delone yawned. He’d successfully distracted his mother from the wisdom of Oral Roberts and all that other stuff, but he had to talk about his Dad in the process. Stupid idea to come home. It just brought up everything he worked so hard to hide.

“I’m tired,” he said. “Will you take me to the highway in the morning or should I walk?”

**

After 10 minutes at the highway, Delone walked to his mother’s car and leaned on the window. “It could take an hour to get a ride,” he told her. “And you’re not helping by parking 20 feet away. I’ll call you when I get to Madison.”

“Are you sure you’ll be OK? I could buy you a bus ticket.”

“I’m OK, but I won’t get a ride with you so close by. Just go home so I can get a ride.”

Margaret made a U-turn and drove a block away, then parked. Delone knew she was watching him in the rear view mirror.

Delone’s first ride pulled up. He opened the door, glanced in and froze. If he slammed the door and ran, the smart move, his mother would see it. He took a deep breath and said, casually.

“Hi, I’m going to Madison.”

“I can get you to Point,” the driver responded.

Delone slipped in, closed the door and kept one nervous hand on the door latch. The two drove south in silence for a couple of miles.

“Where you taking me?” Delone finally asked.

“I told, you, Point.”

“Where’s the rest of your group?”

“Hung over. Ron’s got his arm in a sling. Ma whacked him pretty hard.”

“I wasn’t trying to make it with your girlfriend. She sat next to me.”

“Who said she’s my girlfriend?”

“Ron.”

“That SOB!”

“Actually, he said you’ve got your eye on her,” Delone clarified. “She already knows that.”

Brad glared at Delone. “How do…” He dropped the question and drove in silence. Delone took his hand off the door latch. At 60 miles per hour, he wasn’t about to leave the car abruptly.

“Will Bengston get the Packers to the Super Bowl this year?” He asked, seeking neutral ground.

“Hell, No! He’s no Lombardi,” Brad replied, then lapsed into silence. The air was thick. Delone cracked open the window, but the tightness around his throat prevented a deep breath.

“He’s an asshole,” Brad mumbled.

“Bengston?”

“I wish Ma had broken his jaw instead of his collarbone.”

“He was trying to help you out.”

“Fuck he was. He wanted to fight, but you didn’t have the balls to take it outside, so Ma had to do it for you. Is that how you hippie-welfare-druggies fight? What are you going to do when you don’t have Ma to fight for you? And where’s your Old Man? He used to stand on the front porch and scream at people, even when no one was around, didn’t he? He’s in an insane asylum, isn’t he?”

Delone lunged for the steering wheel, forcing it hard left, then right. The car swerved into oncoming traffic, then back to the right shoulder.

“Fuck Man, what are you trying to do? Get us killed?”

“Yeah! I’m going to kill us both! Stop the car right now or I’ll do it again.” Delone lunged for the wheel. Brad blocked with his shoulder and slammed on the brakes. Delone’s head hit the windshield hard, cracking it. Brad pulled to the shoulder. When the car stopped, both men fell back on the seat. Delone was breathing in tight, constricted gasps.

“Here,” he said as he pulled out his wallet and threw a dollar on the car seat. “It’s all I got. I’m sorry about the windshield.” He grabbed his bag and opened the door.

“I don’t want to fight.”

“Wait,” Brad said. “I said I’d drive you to Point.”

“I don’t need your ride.”

“Look, Delone.”

Delone paused. “You know my name?”

“Yes. I was two years behind you. You were a Junior when I was a Freshman. I was lost that first day of school. You found my locker for me and showed me where my homeroom was. That made you late at your own homeroom. You spent an hour in detention after school because you didn’t say why you were late. I’ll always remember that.”

“It was probably someone else.”

“No, it was you. Why didn’t you say anything to Mr. Horn?”

“I don’t remember it, OK? And if I did do it, I wouldn’t have said anything because no one believes a hippie-welfare-druggie.”

“You weren’t a hippie then.”

“People like us collect labels.”

“Are you going to close the door?”

“Yes.” Delone stepped outside and shut the door. Brad leaned across the seat and rolled down the window.

“I meant it as an offer,” he said.

“I don’t need favors from my fan club.” Delone said, then leaned on the door with both hands.

“Patty is looking for someone different. If you want to get her attention, stop acting like the other jerks in town.”

“Thanks for the free advice,” Brad sneered. “Here’s some for you. If you want to get anywhere in your life, including your big city college town, get rid of that world class attitude of yours. It ain’t you, and you know it.”

Brad spun the wheels, kicking gravel into Delone’s face and made a screeching U-turn on the highway. A puff of black smoke belched from his tail pipe as he accelerated.

“Point is the other way,” Delone said sarcastically, then realized he was the only reason Brad was going there.

“I saw that,” Karma said.

“I hate Karma,” Delone replied offhandedly. He stood on the shoulder of the highway in a black funk.

“I hate Karma,” Delone said 20 minutes later. It seemed as if a hundred cars had passed him.

“I HATE Karma!” He repeated after another 20 minutes.

“I hate Fucking Karma!” another 20 minutes later.

“I Hate it. I hate it. I hate it.”

20 more minutes passed.

“OK, Karma, you hate me too. You win. I’m a loser, a fucking hippie-welfare-druggie loser. You’ve broken me. Brad, you hear me? I’m sorry. I was a jerk, a world class jerk. I hope Patty falls in love with you. I hope you get married and have a large family and all your kids adore you.”

Another 20 minutes passed.

“I’m a jerk and a sarcastic ass,” Delone admitted.

“Brad, thanks for the ride and yes, my Dad is in an insane asylum, but it isn’t his fault and I didn’t inherit it.” Delone yelled, as if Brad might actually hear him.

“That’s it Karma. That’s all I got.” Delone sat on the shoulder and opened his bag, hoping his mother had slipped a sandwich in. He saw the Daily Cardinal and opened it to the front page.

“Police Attack Innocent Bystanders with Tear Gas, Mace”

He recognized himself in the photo immediately below the headline. He was sitting on the ground, back against a tree and eyes dripping with tears. The article gave his first name and said he refused to give his last.

“She wasn’t interested in me at all, she was after a story.” He felt lighter after that realization. Women like her are in a different class, a class above his station. It’s best to avoid them if you don’t want to get hurt.

Delone sat on the shoulder of the road, crossed his legs and read the story. It was well written, and it included interviews with others who had been gassed on the sidelines. So she was just doing her job. He didn’t have to panic, but women like her do that to him. It wasn’t a rational thing.

Delone checked the byline to the story. It read Lee Jones. Lee Jones was almost famous. He’d seen the byline multiple times in the Cardinal. That didn’t make sense. He was sure this woman had identified herself as Brenda. Brenda something. He couldn’t remember her last name.

The panic resurfaced. Was Lee Jones standing nearby? Did he hear everything they said to each other? And if Lee Jones wrote the story, why was this stunning, rich, beautiful Brenda woman so interested in him?

Did he really want to go back to Madison? What would he do if he saw her again? It wasn’t rational thinking, but he understood why Hergass, the climate professor, turned into a rambling idiot in her presence.

A semi, hauling a load of heavy equipment, downshifted and pulled onto the shoulder just ahead of Delone. He stuffed the paper into his duffle and jogged to the truck.

“You look like you need a beer,” the driver said as Delone climbed into the cab. “Cooler’s behind the seat. Grab one for me, too. Sign says you’re headed to Madison. I can get you there. Hell, I can get you to Nashville if you want. Haulin’ some Caterpillars down there for the city.”

“My family lives near the Caterpillar Plant. They send those rigs all over the world, don’t they?” Delone asked. If he could keep the discussion to topics like this, he could make it to Madison in one ride.

“I’ve hauled them to Duluth, Milwaukee, Chicago, Seattle. They put them on ships and send ‘em off to God knows where. Heard the military even sent some off to ‘Nam so they could clear out the jungle and take hiding places away from the gooks.

“You go to school in Madison? I’ll bet I’ve seen you on Cronkite marching in those anti-war protests. Ever get tear gassed? I used to think those protesters were a bunch of rich bastards going to school on Daddy’s money and avoiding the Draft.” The driver said in a run-on paragraph.

“The school’s full of rich kids from the East Coast.” Delone offered. The conversation was veering into dangerous territory.

“Then my son, he came back from ‘Nam and said he doesn’t know why we’re there. The war messed him up. He was a good kid, played on the football team, decent grades, not college stuff, but a hard worker and some day he’ll be a good family man, but right now he’s messed up on drugs and won’t get a job. Military says he’s got PTSD or something like that. War does that to you. Sit around bored half the time, next thing you’re battling for your life with bombs and rockets and gunfire going off everywhere. Makes you do things you’d never imagine doing as a civilian.”

“My Dad is a World War II vet. They were island hopping in the Pacific, fighting Japs in bunkers.” Delone said.

“He told you about it? Most soldiers don’t talk. They just want to forget.”

“He’s in Tomah, the Vet’s Hospital. He’s crazy. He says things, strange things, like making wine from raisins on the beaches, and scooping out the ants. I figure that was from his soldier days.”

It was more than he’d revealed to anyone in his life. He regretted saying it, but he had to. He had to tell someone and he would never see this guy again, so it seemed safe.

The driver set his beer down and drove in silence for an interminable time.

“I hope that’s not Nick’s future,” he whispered.

“Is Nick your son?” Delone asked

“Yeah.” The driver turned up the radio, a country western station, and focused on the road. Delone stared ahead, but couldn’t resist an occasional sideways glance.

“I was a World War II vet,” the driver said softly. Delone strained to hear him over the combined sound of the radio and the truck. The driver rotated the knob counterclockwise until the radio clicked off.

“I saw men like your Dad. They come out looking good. No injuries, lots of praise for being a Vet, but they never adjusted to civilian life. They called it Shell Shock back then. They’re better at treating soldiers now, but some won’t make it. I’m sorry about your Dad.”

Delone inhaled deeply and let out a long, slow breath. “I hope Nick gets better,” he said.

There was a long pause.

“What do you think about Bengston?” the driver asked. “He’s no Lombardi. I’ll bet they can him by the end of the season.”

Surf and Turf

Madison greeted Delone with a barrier of burning dumpsters. Protesters filled the street behind it and National Guardsmen stood stiffly on the other side with riot shields in place. An occasional rock flew from the protesters’ side. TV cameras rolled.

The scene had the familiar ring of tension and street theater. If it ran the usual pattern, the protest would last another hour, the students would disperse until the 6 o’clock news, then gather in dorm commons and apartments to see if Madison made it on Cronkite.

Delone trudged home, ignored his housemates and disappeared into his room. He opened the Daily Cardinal to finish the story. He was only identified as “Delone, last name not given.” but the byline, Lee Jones, still confused him.

The University gave up a few weeks later and announced that all students, except engineers, would receive pass or fail grades for the semester, nothing more. Delone returned the favor. He gave up on University, and started his job at Surf and Turf.

**

Delone felt flush after cashing his first paycheck. On an impulse, he stepped into State Street Bikes.

“How far is it around Lake Mendota?” he asked Phil, the bike guy. Phil shrugged. “No idea. The Club never rides that way. Might be interesting to try it someday.”

“I did it a couple of weeks ago. I want to know how far I rode.”

“Do you know how to measure it on a map?” Phil asked. He pulled a map of Dane County from behind the counter. He opened another drawer to the left and pulled out a worn leather case vaguely resembling an arrow head. “Hoffritz New York Germany” were inscribed within a diamond shape on the outside. Inside was a precision measuring tool with a large round dial calibrated in inches and feet. A short holding stub projected out of one end of the dial and a small wheel out of the opposite end.

“What route did you take?”

“Rathskeller, Lakeshore Path to what’s that place where graduate students live?”

“Eagle Heights, but hang on a second.” Phil ran the wheel along Lakeshore Path. The pointer on the dial moved methodically around the dial.

“Cool!” Delone said. “What is that?”

“It’s an Opisometer. German made in the 1940s. It’s a map measuring tool. My Dad stole it from a dead German soldier. Which roads did you ride through Eagle Heights?”

“I don’t remember. I just tried to keep the lake on my right so I wouldn’t get lost.”

“Creative,” Phil murmured. “So this will be an estimate.” He rolled the wheel along a route that followed the shoreline, precisely turning the wheel at each intersection. Delone followed along for a couple of minutes, but he started getting ahead of Phil’s measuring tool. “Is that the Yahara River? I remember crossing that bridge. I must have gone around this little bay and..”

“Hang on,” Phil said. “You just bumped the tool.”

“Oh, sorry. I never paid that much attention to maps before. This is great. Can I get one of these Dane County Maps?”

“Look, Delone, that’s your name, right?”

“Yeah, Delone.”

“Delone. This route looks sort of interesting. I might want to try it sometime. We usually ride west.”

“Over here, where all the squiggly lines are?” Delone pointed to western Dane County.

“Yeah, the Driftless Area.”

“The what?”

“The Driftless Area. The glaciers missed it. Do you want me to finish measuring your route?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“OK. The best I can guess is that it’s about 23 miles. Looks interesting. I might try it someday, although the club probably won’t be interested. Too much residential stop-and-go over here by Maple Bluff.”

“Here’s what you need,” Phil continued, pulling out a Lucas cyclometer. The device consisted of a steel mounting bracket attached to a cylinder. A rectangular cutaway in the cylinder revealed four black numbers “0000” followed by one red number 0. A five toothed gear wheel on the left side of the cylinder activated the dials, moving first the red dial indicating tenths of a mile, then the black numbers. In theory the odometer would record up to 9,999.9 miles before turning back to zero. The gear was activated by a small steel stud attached to a spoke on the front wheel.

“Put it on the front fork, near the hub and attach this little clicker to the spokes.” Phil said. “Make sure the clicker catches the teeth on this gear wheel each time the wheel turns. Would you like me to put it on for you?”

“Looks small,” Delone replied skeptically. “I had a Schwinn speedometer when I was a kid. I knew my speed and distance. Do you have one of those?”

“You don’t want that. It’ll just slow you down.” Phil attached the cyclometer and spun the wheel to make sure the clicker activated the meter. Delone peppered him with questions about riding in the “Driftless Area.” Phil drew a route from the shop to the small town of Paoli. Delone protested.

“Don’t you have a route to this town?” He said, pointing to Mt. Horeb. “Or here?” Barneveld. “That’s where the twisty lines are.”

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