Sixth Man – Episode 57

thQQ76TV3VQuiet Desperation

They found a new motel on the edge of town. The motel they checked into 30 years earlier was now a convenience store and gas station. Most of the old bars were beauty salons, tanning salons, fitness gyms and, nail salons.

While driving around town and looking for familiar things Wilson said, “People are really absorbed in themselves.

Everyplace that was designed for the destruction of brain cells and the liver now has something to do will making you look and feel better.”

“Yeah,” Mathias said, “what has the world come to. You used to get stopped for drunk driving, weaving all over the road, and the deputy would drive you home or drive ahead of you with flashers to warn everybody. You know, ‘To protect and to serve.’ There was a time when those words meant something. Now you do prison time.”

“But the world is safer,” Wilson said.

“30 % of traffic accidents are caused by alcohol impaired drivers,” Mathias said. “I see the problem as the 70% who are sober.”

“Were you always this funny?” Wilson said.

“Not really,” Mathias said seriously. “I think funny, but seldom say stuff. I always said what I was thinking around you.”

“I was comfortable to talk to?” Wilson said.

“No,” Mathis said, “not particularly. I knew it just made you feel better. I was good for you and you were good for me.”

“When this is all over we should get together again and have some real good times,” Wilson said. “Do you like to fish?”

“Yeah,” Mathias said, “Do you?”

“How would I know?” Wilson said.

“Yeah,” Mathias said, “once you find yourself we might not even like each other.”

“Why did we go here?” Wilson said.

“How many bars did you see in Hecla?” Mathias said.

“None,” Wilson said.

“And how many women were in the bar?” Mathias said.

“None,” Wilson said.

“Well, there you go, Einstein,” Mathias said. “Not exactly E=MC2, but Albert didn’t go to Nam, Fargo, or have amnesia.”

“Is this all supposed to help,” Wilson said scanning the street and looking at the businesses. These streets probably don’t even resemble what they looked like in the 70s.”

“I’ve been comin’ to Fargo since the 50s,” Mathias said, “and believe me nothing’s changed. This town is stuck in time.”

“Nothing’s stuck in time,” Wilson said, “except for me. I take that back I’m stuck in a place, I just don’t know what it’s called.”

“The word is Hecla,” Mathias said despondently.

“You almost sound sad,” Wilson said.

“I should have never come home,” Mathias said. “It’s a big world out there and I’ve seen so little of it.”

“Regret?” Wilson said.

“I don’t know if it’s called that or not,” Mathias said, “but when you came to town it was like a breath of fresh air. I suddenly thought about all I missed. Bea has known it for some time. We got a way few times, but there was this crushing sinking feeling in my chest that everything I was looking at were the things I missed. Do you know what I mean?”

“Do you know what it’s like to forget everything?” Wilson said.

“No,” Mathias said. “I guess that answers my question.”

Wilson smiled and playfully shoved Mathias. “Way to go Einstein.”

“Every now then, Wilson,” Mathias said. “I’d think about you. I’d wonder what ever happened. I thought about the good times we had. We were so full of ourselves. As time went on the memories faded like they’re supposed to. I’ve never been close to anyone. Of course I’ve been close to Bea, but a friend. It’s been hard for me to do that. There are things we talked about that only you know and I’d like to talk to you about them., but right now is not the time.”

“I wish I could be that man,” Wilson said, “but I just can’t be. I’ve got nothing to give.”

Wilson parked the car.

“See the park over there?” Wilson said gesturing with his head.

“Yeah,” Mathias said.

“Let’s find a park bench and talk,” Wilson said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

Sixth Man – Episode 56

No Navigation Needed

“I hope this drive to Fargo might help,” Mathias said.

“What do you mean?” Wilson said.

“One night before we got loud and obnoxious you kind of went into strange mood,” Mathias said. “I thought you might be having some sort of flash back from Nam. Suddenly you turned to me and smiled strangely. You said, ’You know my name is not really Wilson Gentry.’ I had no idea what you were talking about. Then you smiled like there was some secret you were keeping and you said, ’It’s really Devon Ennis.’

“That’s a name I’ve never heard before,” Wilson said.

“The next day I asked you about the name and you acted as if I were the one who was crazy,” Mathias said. “When you start looking again that’s a name you might want to consider.”

“This is maddening,” Wilson said. “I was first a man with not name, then I became Steve Joseph, it looks like I’ve spent most of my life as Charles Peterson and you know me as Wilson Gentry, and now the name Devon Ennis comes from no where.”

“It would be easy for me to say stick with Wilson Gentry and the heck with the rest,” Mathias said, “but I’ve never been faced with what you’re going through and I ain’t never heard of nobody that has.”

“I’m going to find out,” Wilson said, “if it takes the rest of my life. I want to be laid to rest knowing who I am and where I came from, no matter what.”

“You never talked about your past,” Mathias said. “You didn’t have one, did you?”

Wilson pulled the car off the side of the road and brought the car to a stop.

Wilson turned toward Mathias. “Yeah, Mathias, that’s what I’m afraid of; once I know and remember Wilson Gentry I’ll have to go back further. It’s like a scavenger hunt; my next clue is hidden under a rock, that gives me a clue to a mail box, that gives me a clue to flower pot, and so on.” Sometimes I wonder if I had episodes within the life of Wilson Gentry. Maybe we’re all like this; something happens, we go blank, and invent the past and there are those like me that can’t invent one.”

“You want me to drive?” Mathias said.

“Yeah,” Wilson said. “You know where to go.”

“Not really,” Mathias said, “I’m just afraid you’ll drive us headlong into the twilight zone.”

“It isn’t funny,” Wilson said.

“When it’s not me it is,” Mathias said.

north-dakota-road[1]Wilson grinned. “I can see how we became friends.”

They traded seats and Mathias steered onto the highway and headed toward Fargo.

“This is a nice car,” Mathias said. “Does it have all the navigation stuff on it?”

“Yeah,” Mathias said, pulled the car over again and stopped.

Mathias released the hood. He got out of the car and was under the hood for a minute. He got back in the car. “No more navigation.”

“Why,” Wilson said.

“There’s something going on, Wilson,” Mathias said. “And I think it’s within your best interest to not let anyone know where you are.”

“I don’t get it,” Wilson said.

“You don’t know a person you’ve talked to in the last six months,” Mathias said. “Not even me, but I’m the only one who has admitted to owing you money. Those folks back in Atlanta, they have every reason to keep you as you are.”

They drove toward Fargo.

2 Comments

Filed under Essays

The Sixth Man – Episode 55

th6RRJ326SDevon Ennis

“We was young,” Mathias said, “had that young blood pumpin’ through our veins. Fargo wasn’t quite ready for us. We were two guys out of the army and a lot of pent up testosterone. There’s two way to get rid of it; plenty of women or a good ass kickin’. We didn’t score well in at least one of the departments. Women are not attracted to chipped teeth or black eyes.” Mathis tapped his front tooth. “A cap, a reminder of Fargo and I ain’t as tough as I thought.”

“Tell me about it,” Wilson said.

“The one armed guy,” Mathias said. “We were dinking all night and it was about four in the morning. We stumble into the diner we were at the morning before; the one with the short order cook with one arm. The place was dead, a couple of truck drivers, couple of hookers, a waitress, and the one arm cook; there might have been another drunk or two. We was making a real raucous of things; tilting the pin ball machine, talking loud, bothering people; especially the hookers.”

“Anyway the one arm guy tells us to leave,” Mathias said. “I told him the place was dull as a Sunday morning sermon. He didn’t smile. I said ‘didn’t you get it, it’s like as useless as a one armed paper hanger.’ Man, the steam was coming out of his ears. You said ‘I can’t believe you said that’ and started laughing so hard you fell off your chair. Then I told him to lighten up. I put both of my hands out and said, ’Okay, let’s play slap jack.’ That’s when he chipped my tooth.”

“You got your clock cleaned by a one armed guy?” Steve said chuckling.

“Yeah,” Mathias said, “But he turned to you and you ran out of there like a bat out of hell.”

“We were pretty insensitive,” Wilson said.

“It all started when he started yelling at the waitress,” Mathias said. “We were being chivalrous in our own drunkin’ way.”

“It seemed like all we did was go from one bar to another,” Mathias said. “Got kicked out of most of ’em.”

“Did I say anything about the army or Nam?” Wilson said.

“No,” Mathias said, “You were adamant about that. Anytime I brought up anything about the Army, Nam, or Fort Ben you said there is nothing to talk about and that was final.”

Wilson slowly shook his head.

“Do you think it’s time to talk about it?” Mathias said.

“I want to,” Wilson said, “but there’s nothing there. Sometimes I feel like it’s water behind a dam and other times a brick wall with nothing on the other side.”

“You’ve never sought help?” Mathias said.

“No,” Wilson said, “and for some reason I’m resistant to it. I don’t trust psychiatrists or psychologists. It seems bizarre. I don’t remember ever going to one, but I know I was under the care or skepticism of Haverston. My brief meeting with him was enough to tell my why I don’t trust shrinks. He thought I was faking amnesias 30 years ago and he still thinks it. How can you deal with that?”

“Maybe you should try someone else,” Mathias said.

“I can’t,” Wilson said, “not until I find out who I really am. Then they can work on that one, not the others.”

“The others,” Mathias said, “Like Devon Ennis.”

“Whose Devon Ennis?” Wilson said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

The Sixth Man – Episode 54

th0BB7Q9KCOne Armed Man

The next morning at 9:00 AM Wilson was in the driver’s seat of his car and Mathias sat in the passenger’s seat. Bea stood next to the car on the passenger’s side.

You boys be careful,” Bea said. “I won’t be comin’ to bail you out.”

We’ll be home in a couple of days,” Mathias said. “We just got to blow some stink off.”

Bea stooped to make eye contact with Wilson. “I hope this helps you.”

Wilson smiled. “Are you kidding me, this is all about Mathias.”

That’s what I’m afraid of,” Bea said. “You don’t have a memory and I trust you more than him.”

Sure is a crazy world, Bea” Wilson waved. “I’ll take good care of your hubby.”

Bea gave Mathias a kiss on the cheek Wilson backed the car onto the street and drove away.

After a few minutes on the highway and some idle chatter Wilson said, “Tell me about the money.”

Before I enlisted I worked for an electrician in town,” Mathias said. “He hired me back when I got out, but he was all set to retire. There was another guy working for him. He was going to give the business to the other buy for payments. He gave him that offer because he worked for him longer. He said I could have the business if I paid $5,000 up front. You gave me $5,000.”

Where did I get that kind of money back then?” Wilson said.

I don’t know,” Mathias said, “but you handed it to me in cash.”

Did we right it up in any sort of an agreement?” Wilson said.

Nah,” Mathias said. “We didn’t even shake on it.”

Yeah friends don’t need to shake,” Wilson said.

Yeah,” Mathias smiled. “That’s what you said back then. What else did you say?

Wilson thought for a moment. “A guy who shakes with one hand usually has his other hand in your pocket.”

Mathias smiled. “What’s the rest of it.”

So never trust anybody with two arms,” Steve said.

That first night in Fargo we walked into a diner. The short order cook behind the counter had one arm and you said now there’s a man you can trust,” Mathias said.

I don’t remember that one,” Wilson said.

We got the beginnings of a great friendship,” Mathis said. “I can blame all the past on you and you don’t have a clue; kind of like being married,”

Have I ever contacted you over the years?” Wilson said. “Card, letter, phone call?”

Nothing,” Mathias said. “Always thought you’d call about the 5,000, but nothing. I figured you may have died or something.”

Yeah,” Wilson said, “or something.”

Don’t be such a Debbie Downer,” Mathias said, “the ‘or something’ is better than the other.”

Tell me about our first trip to Fargo,” Wilson said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

The Sixth Man – Episode 53

Remember Fargo?

Mathias and Winston went to the house about 100 feet from the shop. He met, Bea, Mathias’s wife. Mathias invited Wilson back to the shop. “We should talk,” Mathias said.

Mathias offered the desk chair to Wilson and he sat in he chair next to the desk He pulled the chair away from the wall to sit closer to Wilson.

“So, what do you want to know?” Mathias said.

“What did I do at Fort Ben?” Wilson said.

“We worked in the motor pool together,” Mathias said. “I was already at Fort Ben when you came back from Nam. You were in bad shape. You were in the infantry and they assigned you to the motor pool as a driver. Come to find out, you were as good of a mechanic as anyone so you started doing mechanical work.”

“You said I was in bad shape,” Wilson said. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know what the hell happened to you over there, but when you first came to the motor pool you drove and stared into space just sitting behind the steering wheel, motionless.” Mathias leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees.

He pressed his lips tightly. “You went to a shrink two or three times a week.”

“Haverston,” Wilson said.

“Yeah,” Mathias said.

“That’s how I got your name,” Wilson said. “He’s still in practice and I visited him a little of over a week ago.”

“We started to hit it off, again.” Mathias said. “We reconnected from our time before basic. We did some things together. I got out before you did. You said you were being extended for some administrative reasons; never know what that meant. I always worried about you. Then one day, like today, out of the blue about a four or five months after I got out you came here. I lived with Dad and Mom then.”

“All of this is new to me,” Wilson said.

“We went to Fargo one weekend,” Mathias said. “We painted the town. I remember this one place we went into we was really hoopin’ it up and you said this place has very low standards and the owner ask you why and you said we ain’t been kicked out yet. He kicked us out.”

“It sounds to me like we weren’t good for each other,” Wilson said.

“But, I was good for you,” Mathias said. “I helped you to come out of it.”

“Did I ever say anything about Nam?” Wilson said.

“You were there,” Mathias said, “and that was all, you said nothing else about it.”

“Something else is strange,” Wilson said. “Somewhere along the line I gave up drinking. I’ve reunited with my family in Atlanta, even though I haven’t a clue as to who they are, and they tell me I never drank.”

“You were never a big drinker,” Mathias said. “just enough to be funny, loud, obnoxious. I was the one that always passed out. Do you remember the night I puked down the window and it went inside the door. I passed out in the car and when I woke up the puke was dried to my face and it glued my cheek to your plastic seat covers. We took the car to the motor pool and tore the door panel apart and cleaned out the puke. Well, I was the one to clean it out.”

“That’s one I’m glad not to remember,” Wilson said.

“How long you plan to stay?” Mathias said.

“Long before you ask me to leave,” Wilson said. “Actually my next stop is Missoula.”

“Why Missoula?” Mathias said.

“Once you find out you may want me to move on,” Wilson said.

“Give me a try,” Mathias said.

“The man I want to see in Missoula is a lawyer,” Wilson said. “Apparently he was my lawyer when I was in the army. Haverston said I killed another soldier in Nam and that my amnesia was a way of me getting off. There was never enough evidence to bring me to trial, but I was given a general discharge .”

“War can do strange things to a man,” Mathias said, “but you’re no killer.”

“I know I have killed,” Winston said. “Every now and then I catch a quick vision. It’s like a micro burst. I feel a jerk of a rifle.”

“That could be a memory from target practice,” Mathias said.

“No,” Wilson said. “I get sick and cold; my heart beats heavy.”

Mathias grasp Wilson’s shoulder. “I think we should go to Fargo.”

Wilson smiled. “Sure.”

“We’ll have a good time even though we’re to old to do the things we did back then,” Mathias smiled.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

The Sixth Man – Episode 52

thB1N5M1L0I Owe You

Winthrop Electrical was in a faded blue metal building. It had a bay door and next to it a walk-in door.

Wilson jiggled the doorknob and the door opened. A man sat in a wooden chair at an oak desk against the far wall. He was round with robust red cheeks.

He pushed his glasses lower on his nose. “What can I help you with?”

“My name is Wilson Gentry and I think we’ve met,” Wilson said.
Mathias swiveled and rocked forward in the chair. “Wilson Gentry,” he smiled. “Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time.”

I think we were in the army together,” Wilson said.

Mathias stood and walked closer.

“Were you ever in Indianapolis at Fort Ben?” Wilson said.

“Yes,” Mathias said suspicious over the formality of Wilson’s approach. “I guess no matter what, the question still is how can

I help you and what brings you this way?”

Wilson shook Mathias’ hand. “Sorry for surprising you like this, but I thought you might recognize me immediately.”

“I do now that I can see you, but let’s sit down and figure this all out,” Mathias said gesturing to a chair beside the desk. “A phone call ahead of time might have been nice. It’s been a few years.”

Wilson and Mathias sat. Wilson sat back and relaxed.

“We met in basic and at the end of our hitch found ourselves together again at Ft. Ben,” Mathias said. “Wait a minute, I owe you money!”

Wilson chuckled. “That’s not what I’m here for and once you here my story you’ll be sorry you brought up the money.”

“Why would I be sorry?” Mathias said.

“I have amnesia,” Wilson said and chuckled again. “Now I want my money.”

“Need any electrical work done on your place,” Mathias said moving his hands back and forth to indicate a trade – labor for money. “How much was it?”

“$25,000,” Wilson said.

“Hey,” Mathias said, “I thought you said you had amnesia.”

They both laughed.

“But you loaned me a couple thousand,” Mathias said. “I got it written down someplace.”

Wilson sat back in the chair. “We had good times together, didn’t we.”

“Oh man!” Mathias said. “We ripped the town. You’ve driven through town and seen it what do ya say, let’s do it all over again, just like old times.”

“I don’t remember them,” Wilson said.

“Good,” Mathias said smiling. “I’m a married man and pillar of the community now.”

Wilson smiled. It was quiet.

“You’re really in trouble aren’t you, Wilson?” Mathias said. Mathias stretched and looked out the door window. “You must be doing okay, that’s a nice car.”

“I guess I’ve done okay,” Wilson said. “I own some car dealerships back east and live like a king it Atlanta. A few months ago I slept on a bench in Des Moines, lived in the basement of a bar, and then over a garage.”

“Do you want me to put you up for awhile?” Mathias said. “You’re not a psychopath or anything are you?”

“We psychopaths are sworn to secrecy,” Wilson said. “If I lose my card, I lose my job.”

Mathias reached up to his desk. He pressed a button on an intercom. “It goes up to the house,” he said quietly.

“Wathca want, Matty?” the voice of a lady said.

“An old army buddy from Fort Ben just dropped in,” Mathias said. “He’s gonna be with us for a few days.”

“The Gentry guy you owe money to?” she said.

Mathias waved his hands at the intercom and shrugged his shoulders at Wilson. “Yeah, that’s the guy.”

Mathias released the button. “The woman has a good memory.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

The Sixth Man – Episode 51

thNN39GIVRHecla

Steve theorized the route from Candice’s motel in Nebraska to Hecla, South Dakota was traveled by him before. For what other reason would a young man have ended up at run down motel in the middle of nowhere. He thought he may have stopped there on the way to or from Hecla at one other time in his life, but why?

Mathias Winthrop may hold the answer.

As Wilson drove he looked for clues along the highway, in fields, and in towns that might bring something to mind. There were only drips relinquished in its own time, own place, and its own pace.

Wilson slowly and methodically prepared himself that the recovery of his memory might be more painful than its remaining hidden. “I must have a good mind, it protects me from what will hurt me. A bad memory is not such a bad thing, that way there is little to regret.”

Hecla was in the middle of farm country. It was a town bypassed by the state highway and the last 40 or so years.

Wilson slowed as he drove beside the town. He observed the scattered homes and looked down the quiet streets. It was a typical rural community with streets having no curbs or sidewalks. Homes were functional and well-kept, but not meant to impress or be ostentatious. In towns like this everyone knows your business and who you are, there is no need to pretend to be anyone other than who you are.

Wilson spotted a sign that read, Main St. He turned on to it and drove slowly. He parked on the street in front of a bar in a brick building.

He walked in. It was quiet, no customers. He sat at the counter.

A voce from a room behind the back bar that appeared to be a kitchen called out, “Be right there.”

A short slender man in his 50s darted from the kitchen wiping his hands with a towel. “Menu ‘s on the board,” he said pointing to a blackboard.

Burger, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise,” Wilson said. “I’ll have coffee with it.”

Like to have some pie with that?” the man said. “A lady around the corner bakes ’em fresh everyday.”

If you got peach,” Wilson said.

We can do that,” the man said.

Wilson was half way through the sandwich. The man was washing glasses in the sink behind the counter.

I’m looking for a fella,” Wilson said. “Mathias Winthrop.”

You must know him pretty good,” the man said. “Not too many people know his name is Mathias. Everybody just calls him Matt.”

So you know him,” Wilson said.

Everybody knows Matt,” the man said. “He’s the towns only electrician; that is besides his son.”

Can you tell me where he lives,” Wilson said.

Take Main west until it dead ends into the tracks, turn right and drive about two blocks; You’ll see the sign in front of his shop,” the man said.

He’s an old army buddy,” Wilson said.

Wilson finished eating. He followed the directions to Winthrop Electrical.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays