There was a little chill in the air. Wilson and Mathias wore jackets and they huddled in them as they sat on a park bench.
“What’s on your mind?” Wilson said. “Maybe it will help me and you.”
“Do you know what it’s like to come from Hecla, South Dakota and serving with guys from New York, Jersey, LA? They walk all over you. You do what ever you can to keep up and prove you’re something. I just couldn’t do it so I came back to Hecla.”
“Hecla isn’t such a bad place,” Wilson said.
“I know,” Mathias said. “It’s a wonderful place. Do you remember, of course you don’t, but you told me one time you didn’t want to live in anyplace that had more than one coffee shop.”
“I said that?” Wilson said.
“Yeah,” Mathias said, “and it’s stuck with me all these years.”
“Kinda wonder what it meant,” Wilson said.
“We were having a conversation much like this one and I think you were telling me that I should be satisfied,” Mathias said, “but I think it was more about you. You said it like you wished you were someplace else.”
“There’s more to this, isn’t there?” Wilson said.
“I was always trying to keep up with everybody,” Mathias said. “Everybody seemed so quick. All I knew was working on the farm and peeking at girls’ gym class. I had a girl friend in Germany. I forced her.”
“You raped her?” Wilson said.
“In a manner of speaking,” Mathias said. “I told her I would marry her, but I had no intensions. I just wanted an accomplishment. I never told anyone. I just wanted to sit back and say to myself, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there and done that.’”
“Mathias,” Wilson said. “You’re not the first guy that’s done that.”
“But that’s not who I am,” Mathias said. “My dad didn’t raise me that way. He talked to me very directly. He told me a woman has a precious gift don’t steal it or lie to get it. I really understood what he meant. My mother has such respect for my dad, because he respected her. It was their way.”
“We make mistakes,” Wilson said. “All we can really do is not repeat them. Character is not being perfect; it’s not making the mistake a trait or habit.”
“There’s something else,” Mathias said. “She was pregnant when I left Germany. I promised I’d come back.”
“I got a daughter back in Indianapolis I didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago,” Wilson said. “I can’t wait to see her again.”
“How are you going to explain that to your family?” Mathias said.
“Amnesia,” Wilson smiled. “Tell Bea and you two take a trip to Germany.”
Mathis hung his head.
“Mathias,” Wilson said. “Do you know how many guys did what you did and have never given it a thought. You got a son or daughter in Germany; what kind of man would hold something secret for 30 years and seek to rectify it? What a legacy to pass on to your son or daughter in Germany.”
“I’m worried about Bea,” Mathias said.
“I think Bea will handle this a lot better than you,” Wilson said. “Trust here; any woman that would allow her husband to take off with an old army buddy to Fargo for a weekend of hell-raising has got to be pretty trusting and understanding.”
Mathias smiled and gripped Wilson’s thigh. “She hid the Viagra.”
“I said trusting and understanding not foolish,” Wilson said.