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.