Against the War
A novel of the Vietnam War era by Roland Menge

Selected Passages

Tom Steward in opening chapter:
       As he drove across the Wabasha Street Bridge on Friday, April 7, 1967, Thomas Steward scanned the gleaming water of the Mississippi River to see if the junior varsity crew was on its way to the boat house. He thought he saw a glint of oars -- about a mile upstream, below the tall span of the High Bridge. But a news bulletin on the car radio drew his attention from the river. 
       He turned up the volume.
       “Eight Americans died today as allied forces struggled to repel a surprise attack in Quangtri, capitol of the northernmost province of South Vietnam,” the announcer was saying. “U.S. jet bombers flew through heavy clouds to attack an arc of missile sites on the outskirts of Haiphong. And, in New York, a draft card burner sat down on the courtroom floor after being sentenced for draft evasion. ‘To show you it’s against my will,’ the young man explained to the judge. His wife fell to her knees behind the cordon of marshals. She tried to grab his hand, but he was carried from the courtroom without being allowed to touch her.”
       Tom Steward listened closely to this report, much more closely than he would have listened only the day before. The morning mail had brought him an official letter from his draft board, giving him a new draft status of 1-A. From what he had heard, a 1-A status meant close to being drafted. Just how close he wasn’t sure. He had been surprised to get 1-A; he had asked for a continuation of his 2-S student deferment status.

Morris searches out his Oregon Trail heritage (this is in Chapter 25):
       At Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, Lt. James Morris found what he had been unable to find on several stops further west -- two ruts in the red soil extending westward as barely perceptible lines where the sun glinted in the tall grass.
       Morris climbed a rocky trail to the so-called North Outlook to scan the route the wagon trains bound for Oregon would have traveled on, based on the map he had with him. From this vantage point, he could see tourist signs marking where the trail had come around the south side of the bluff (to avoid the badlands on the north side of the bluff by the North Platte River), before following the river again. He could see the river extending in a thin blue line to the northwest, toward Fort Laramie, Wyoming, the next major stop.
       “They probably did this themselves, climbed up here, probably on this very same path,” he said out loud. “This was the first place where they could get a good view after the plains. They must have all camped below. That's why the ruts are so carved in.”
       Jim Morris had talked out loud like this, as if talking to another person, all of his boyhood. He had first done it one day when his mother had told him that he could talk to his father if he really wanted to. He had liked doing it and had never stopped.

Morris takes part in his tenth mission (this is in Chapter 95):
      “Hawkeye Flight, you are cleared for takeoff,” called the tower. “Your mission control is button three.”
      “Roger, tower,” Pitt replied. “Hawkeye is rolling.”
      Morris watched as Pitt’s plane shot up the dark runway, afterburner blazing behind it, the power of the discharge rocking his own plane. The sky was still dark above the eastern horizon except for a long, low band of rusty-purple haze, the first sign of dawn.   
       Five seconds later, measuring by the timer on the instrument panel, he lifted his feet off the brake and shoved the throttle outward to ignite the afterburner. It lit with a bang, propelling the plane forward down the long, dark runway. He felt the counterforce of the engine’s 24,500 pounds of thrust as the plane accelerated, pressing him backward against the seat. 
       A half mile further up the runway, Pitt’s plane, at full rudder, was lifting off.

Bill O’Rourke joins the 1968 Chicago protest march (this is in Chapter 100):
       The O’Rourke brothers, Lee Cobus, and Marsha Collins, coughing and  rubbing their eyes, were walking along silently by this time, dazed by the rapid turn of events. Coming near the bridge, along with dozens of others more or less in the same state, they heard what sounded like hundreds of people chanting. 
       “Join us! Join us!” they were saying.
       As he came down with the others to Michigan Avenue, Bill O’Rourke, trying to figure out what was going on, saw a strange sight. There was a group of mostly black people there, some in formal attire such as suits and ties, moving along slowly behind a wagon drawn by mules. Converging into this group was a steady stream of mostly white young people, dressed mostly in counterculture styles, many of them still rubbing their eyes from the tear gas attack in the park.
       “My God, look at that!” Patrick exclaimed. “That’s the SCLC. They got a permit to march!”
       “March where?” said Bill.
       “All the way out to the convention hall, I think.”
       Bill O’Rourke by this time had put two and two together, recalling that SCLC stood for “Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” the group that Martin Luther King had brought into the national news so often. The mule-drawn wagon was the same, apparently, that had led the King funeral in Atlanta. Yes, there was King’s assistant, Ralph Abernathy, walking just behind the wagon beside Jesse Jackson of the Chicago PUSH program. Several in the group held signs saying, “Justice Won’t Wait.”
       “Join us! Join us!” the group in the street kept chanting with a volume rising steadily as the marchers expelled from the park streamed into their ranks. 
       “Hey, let’s go!” said Patrick. “This could be interesting! They’re going right past the hotel!”
       Soon the O’Rourke contingent was in marching position near the back of the group, with others coming steadily in behind them. The total group filled the entire width of the broad, tree-lined street for more than two city blocks behind the mule wagon.
       The chant now changed to “Stop the War! Stop the War!” It rose to an ecstatic, triumphant volume as the young people routed from the park realized that they had foiled the National Guard by joining up with a legitimate march with a permit.

Steward studies Vietnamese history, trying to decide whether to declare himself a conscientious objector “to the Vietnam war only” (this is in Chapter 103).
       How was it that this nation, with a sense of itself derived from centuries of fighting for independence, had become eventually a puppet of colonization, under France, organized with a model developed for use with unorganized primitive peoples? That was another key question that Steward had asked himself in his study, and the answer seemed to be simply that France, seeing an opportunity in Vietnamese factionalization, had entered Vietnamese history, presumably “invited,” as the presumed champion of the “civilized faction,” and thereafter had imposed its typical model on a country that it presumed was a typical country, a mistake discovered eventually in French defeat.
       The French had hardly established a foothold, in fact, with the capture of Saigon, in 1859, when partisan forces had begun to form, not only on the periphery of French control, but also within the controlled area, as the “invisible army” later to become too familiar to American soldiers in South Vietnam. “Rebel bands disturb the country everywhere,” Admiral Bonhard, French commander of Cochin, had reported in 1862.
       Truong Cong Dinh, Ham Ngi, Ton That Thuyet, Dinh Cong Tranh, Phan Dinh Phung, and many others less known, had come forward, in a century of French rule, to assume the legacy of insurrection, a legacy that the poet Nguyen Huu Huan had described as a debt of infinite weight. “A man worthy of his name must blush,” he had written, “if he cannot pay the debt with his life.” -- as he himself had later done, and many of his partisan comrades.
       That century of French rule, under a people with a self-proclaimed tradition of “liberte,” had produced no such liberty in Vietnam. Neither had it produced a local middle class, while draining the country of its natural and human resources -- so Steward had learned.

Mary Brandt pursues her intellectual journey (this is in Chapter 134):
       Mary Brandt, though never waning in her admiration of her husband, had experienced no weariness with words such as he had experienced. To the contrary, she felt herself to be in a kind of intellectual explosion, and she was throwing herself into it with her typical seriousness and earnest idealism. Her manner of learning was, in fact, based on words. She used words, neatly printed in her journal, to take hold of the impressions of her daily life. 
       She maintained her journal as diligently as she had maintained it in college, using just an ordinary three-ring spiral notebook, as she had always done. To her written thoughts she added pen sketches, some of which she colored with pencils. She also pasted or taped in newspaper clippings and cut-out pieces of items that she regarded as significant, such as school announcements, posters, photocopied pieces of letters from others, Christmas cards, and so on.
       In addition to the readings required in her studies, which mostly had to do with government, health, and nutrition, Mary had begun reading a number of feminist books including The Feminine Mystique by Betty Frieden and the more radical The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. She had been introduced to these books by Joy Kasberg, the women’s center administrator whom she had met on her first day of school. Through her, Mary had joined up with a women’s group, composed of both students and faculty, that met once a week to discuss feminist ideas.
       Much of this Mary had encountered superficially before, in college or in Kentucky. She was familiar with the basic themes: women defined as pleasers and servers of men; women defined as something not of their own choosing (as, by default, what was left over after control and authority had been relinquished to men). Her general impression of feminist ideas  was that they did not especially apply to her present life. She did not regard herself as being constricted with Matthew, in so far as her own ambitions were concerned. Even so, she was willing to consider and talk about such ideas, if for no other reason than to form deeper friendships with other women at school.
       Through her discussion group, Mary had been introduced to a diverse range of women writers and notables of various kinds. Some were familiar to her, some not so familiar. Emily Dickinson, Katherine Mansfield, Willa Cather, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marie Curie, Sarah Grimke, Alice Paul, Susan Anthony, “Mother” Jones, Margaret Sanger, Germaine Greer, Anais Nin, Anne Sexton, Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion, Sylvia Plath, and Susan Sontag were among the names she had heard. The women behind these names would be studied not just for their ideas, Mary understood, but for how they had fashioned their lives.
       Mary had already started looking more closely into the writings of one woman mentioned at the meetings who had piqued her interest at once, the French reformer-mystic, Simone Weil. “There are many qualities in Simone that I find appealing,” she wrote in her journal in her neatly-printed block letters, “her absolute independence, her refusal to be associated with any ‘ism,’ her sympathy with working people, to the point of actually living with them and sharing her teacher’s salary with them, her insistence that intellectuals should apply intelligence to real-life problems. Then her crazy contempt of caring how she looked, her self-starvation...”
       Most of all, though, what Mary identified with, she knew, was Weil’s fluent writing and self-examination, which were so much like her own. She yearned to articulate and direct her own concerns with the same degree of self-discipline and purity of intention.

Morris attends an intelligence briefing (this is in Chapter 154):
       For Capt. James Morris of the United States Air Force, April 1969 had brought continuing air combat, not in the official war against North Vietnam and the Viet Cong but in the unofficial “secret war” being fought in Cambodia and Laos.
       The war was actually not so “secret” anymore, he had heard, since Prince Souvanna Phouma, the Laotian premier, had in recent weeks announced to the Western press that American forces were operating in Laos with the full approval of the Laotian government. Even so, Morris, in his newspaper readings, had observed that the Laotian theater of war was largely ignored and still treated as an insignificant matter compared to the theater of war in Vietnam.
       U. S. Air Force fighter bomber pilots operating out of the Khorat and Takhli bases in Thailand, as in the prior six months (since the end of the Rolling Thunder campaign on October 31, 1968), were divided between two campaigns, the Steel Tiger campaign of interdiction along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and the Barrel Roll campaign in support of the Hmong and Royal Laotioan forces in the Plain of Jars. In April, the previous month, the pilots had flown about 13,000 Steel Tiger sorties and about 1000 Barrel Roll sorties.
       Col. Estes Collard, the blond, articulate officer who had appeared at Takhli on several occasions in Morris’s time there, noted in a briefing on a rainy morning (on Thursday, April 24), that he expected Steel Tiger to decline by as much as 1000 sorties a month, with those resources being shifted to Barrel Roll. The reason, he said, was because the military situation in the Plain of Jars had become more tenuous.
       “As you are all aware, we have this see-saw thing going in Jars,” the colonel said. “It has been going a long time, and the Pathet Lao have been the big winners. They are now in control of the entire plain and our friend, Gen. Vang Pao, the Hmong leader, is, as you can imagine, feeling a little nervous, with the plain no longer serving as a buffer between the Communist forces and his headquarters in Long Thieng, on the southwest perimeter of the plain. As you’re also aware, the Communist forces we’re referring to here include North Vietnamese regular army units. We estimate the North Viets have about three full divisions -- that is, about 60,000 troops, -- either on the plain or nearby in the northeastern provinces of Phong Saly and Sam Neua, which the Communists regained control of after routing Vang Pao in 1963.” 
       Morris and his friend, Maj. Tom Pitt, after having encountered one another at squadron headquarters, attended this session together, sitting side by side. Pitt had walked over from his new apartment, just off base, where he had moved with his bride, Souphana, an arrangement readily okayed by the squadron commander since Pitt was doing his second tour of combat duty in Thailand.
       “Another situation you’re probably all aware of, to some extent, at least,” the colonel continued, “as fighting men intent on victory, is what we might call the great irony of Laos. The great irony, if I can put it in a nutshell, is this. On the one hand, all of the major powers involved in this picture, including Russia, China, North Vietnam, and we, the United States, have (for different reasons, of course) a shared strategic goal, which is for Laos to remain neutral with no American forces on the ground. On the other hand, despite this mutual interest in maintaining the status quo, the ground war continues and continues to get fiercer. That is the great irony, that no one wants any change, everyone wants the status quo, and yet the civil war goes on.
       “So what is the cause of this irony? The cause, if I can attempt another nutshell, is this. You have people there, on both sides, who have never accepted the status quo concept of the major powers. On the western side, you have the old loyalist, rightist factions that supported the right wing government of Prince Buon Oum, the die-hards of the so-called FRG, the “Forces Armee Royale,” and, of course, you have the Lao Soung, the Hmong, a society of warriors. They don’t intend to relinquish their freedom, or their poppy trade, either. On the Communist side, you have the zealots who compose the Pathet Lao, the successors of the freedom fighters who beat the French at Dien Bien Phu. These people on both sides have one thing in common: they want to win.
       “So that’s the great irony of Laos in a nutshell, or two nutshells, gentlemen, a war the major powers are determined to not allow to be won, fought by people on both sides who want to win, and who keep trying to win. These people ‘mean’ this war, and they are going to still be meaning it a long time after the likes of us are gone."

Brandt gets stoned in the family farm barn trying to understand his heritage (this is in Chapter 162):
       In his stoned state, the gambrel roof struck him as being a marvel of construction. It was an open structure, made up of simply the rafters, each rafter composed of four sections secured with a triangular collar at each junction to hold the sections at the correct angle with respect to one another. The truss, as a totality, was held in place, mainly, by its weight pressing down. A marvelous structure, Matthew thought, -- though, of course, not on the scale of the monuments he had seen in his adopted new home of Washington D.C., -- but this was something put into place by people on ladders working with simple hand tools.
       That reflection led him in another direction, with a chasm of time seeming to intervene again from his previous reflections. He thought of the framed photo that sat on a bookshelf in the living room, showing him as a boy of about age four, lugging a man-sized toolbox. That had been his first tool box, bought at a garage sale after he had begged for it. He recalled being lifted to the workbench by his father to pick a tool for his tool box from the tools hanging on the wall.
       That had been quite a time, Matthew thought as he leaned forward on the hay pile to light his second joint. Another memory came to him as he drew on the joint, forcing the smoke into his lungs. He was a boy of four, that same summer with the big toolbox, going out of the house and across the yard to the crew hired that year to “straighten” the barn. The men had pretended to take seriously his offer to be of help. They had set him to work with a shovel, throwing concrete into the wooden forms built for footings about 50 feet out from the wagon doors of the barn.
       Other details of that project came to his mind. It had been man’s work, certainly, he thought, stretching the half-inch chains across from the eight-foot-deep footings to a ten-ton winch. From the winch, two other chains had been routed, through drilled holes, to a 2 by 12 inch, 30-foot-long plank, positioned at floor level, on the outside of the barn, to catch both the girt and the stud plate on that side. 
       Spoken directions of the time came back to him, too. “Every now and then, maybe once or twice a day, you come out here and give the winch one full pull,” he recalled the straightener telling his father. “That will bring the whole thing across maybe one sixteenth. You wouldn’t think it would do that, you know, but that cellar wall is poured concrete, and poured concrete will bend.” 
       He recalled completing the last task in the project with his father and brother, installing washers and nuts, big enough for a tractor, to the one-inch-diameter, 50-foot-long rods extended between the cellar wall and the concrete footings to hold the barn plumb. 
       With his second joint completed, he jumped down from the hay pile, feeling like he had been thinking hard for a long time about the repair of the barn. He looked out the window toward the pine trees by the pasture. The twilight sky was purple with pink fissures in the clouds above the dry run where he knew at the moment a creek was rushing through that would be there for a few days only. The frog chorus at the pond had become more intense.
       He felt that, on some level, he had understood something about his boyhood home he had never understood before. It had to do with the barn as the center of what his family was. It had to do with tools and simplicity of talk and, most of all, with connecting through physical work with the scene around him.

Morris watches the Apollo 11 moonlanding (this is in Chapter 167, the centerpoint of the novel):
       An event of national interest on July 20, 1969, captured Capt. Jim Morris’s attention: Cmdr. Neil Armstrong of America’s Apollo 11 mission, looking like a sea diver in a space suit and shielded helmet, disembarked from the Apollo 11 landing module to become the first human being to set foot on the moon.
       Morris witnessed the event life thanks to a special video feed set up in the base exchange. The landing occurred where he was, -- in Takhli, Thailand, -- at 9:56 A.M on July 21, twelve hours later on the Greenwich clock than the 9:56 P.M., CST, Houston time of the landing. 
       Morris listened with the others and gave a thumb’s up gesture when Armstrong said the prescribed words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He sat up in his seat and nodded when Col. Edgar M. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. planted an American flag on lunar soil.
       An audience estimated at 720 million had watched the event life via a network of geosynchronous satellites positioned around the globe, Morris heard that same day. An announcer in the program that conveyed that fact compared television coverage of the moonwalk with radio coverage of the Battle of Britain in August 1940. That first-time-ever, blow-by-blow news reporting of a war had brought the nightly Nazi bombings of London into the living rooms of millions of Americans, the announcer said, preparing the American public for acceptance, a year and a half later, of the declaration of war on the Axis Powers on December 7, 1941.
       “In this case, however,” the announcer said, “the preparation is for something else. The preparation is for a new generation, a new sensibility, that looks to space as the next frontier.” 
       Morris was proud to be a pilot, hearing that. He experienced an uplifting of morale such as he had not experienced since being plunged into despondency following the death of his friend, Maj. Tom Pitt, two months before.
       In those two months since Pitt’s death, Jim Morris had continued in his normal duties, even turning down the two weeks of time off offered by his squadron commander (though a lull had come anyhow due to recent heavy rains). He had completed his 97th mission, with only three missions left to the magic number 100, when he would be able, at last, to return home to his darling Ellen. He should have felt happy about that, he had told himself many times. But he didn’t feel happy. He never felt happy anymore. He no longer went into town to the old haunts like the Vue en Rue where he had gone with Pitt. His only social outlet of any kind had been several visits to Pitt’s widow, Souphana, trying to help her sort out her affairs. He had helped her arrange for benefits she had coming from the Air Force for herself and for her and Pitt’s child. She was in a worse state mentally, Morris had observed, than he was himself.
       That night, about a half hour after midnight, with the moon landing still in his thoughts, Morris headed back to the base exchange, along a sunset-colored path pooled with the runoff of a downpour just ended, to listen in as the landing module took off from the moon surface to rendezvous with the orbiting mother space ship.
       “TIG minus two,” said a voice from the screen as Morris entered the room where a dozen or so other space enthusiasts, including both officers and enlisted men, were already gathered.
       “Just in time, sir,” someone said.
       Morris maneuvered for a seat in the dark, watching the screen view of the long rows of computers at the control center in Houston. As he sat down, the screen view changed to a moonscape transmitted from the camera in the landing module.
       “Roger,” came back the voice of Aldrin, the lunar module pilot. “Guidance steering in the AGS,” then, after a long pause, “Okay, master arm, on... DSKY blanks... Got that ascent card?”
       Someone else said, “Yeah.”
       “9, 8, 7, 6, 5, Abort Stage, Engine Arm, Ascent, Proceed...”
       There was a burst of static followed by some garbled words and then the audible words, “...shadow. Beautiful. 26, 36 feet per second up.” Static again. “... for the pitchover... Pitchover... Very smooth. Balance couple, off... Very quiet ride... There's that one crater down there...”
       “Eagle, Houston,” the earth-based controller said. Eagle was the call name of the landing module. “Request manual start override.” 
       “Eagle, Houston. One minute and you're looking good.”
       “Roger... A very quiet ride, just a little bit of slow wallowing back and forth. Not very much thruster activity.”
       So it went on, with many technical details, the familiar chatter of pilots back and forth that Morris was used to from his own experience. Now and then, there was a reference to a lunar landmark, as human beings, for the first time in history, took off from the moon.

Downed pilot Morris plans his evasion route in Laos (this is in Chapter 169):
       Jim Morris woke up the next morning at the first light of dawn and looked out of his hideout to see that the valley extending below his ridge was filled throughout with a cloud of fog, leveling off at about a hundred feet below his position. The fog gave the valley the appearance of a mist-covered mountain lake, with the higher elevations, within and around the fog, appearing like thickly wooded islands and outpoints of shore, edged with limestone cliffs.
       The sun was still below the horizon, Morris noted, but a localized glow in the gray clouds on his left marked the spot where it would rise. That spot would be slightly south of due east, as he recalled, being, as he was, only about a hundred miles south of the Tropic of Cancer and only a month removed from the summer solstice, when the sun rose at exact due east at that latitude. Based on this, Morris adjusted his mental due-east marker about 15 degrees southward along the horizon, where he found a dent in the tree line to serve as a point of reference. Then, reaching for the map he had set out the night before to dry, he tried to pinpoint on the map the land features floating in the lake of fog.
       The most prominent feature was a peak located about 30 degrees left of the dent in the tree line. Morris set an angle on that and set that off against the approximate course of Route 4, as remembered from the evening before. The peak had to be the one identified on the map as Phou Pha Tao, elevation 6240 feet, he concluded. If that was the case, there would be two other peaks, unnamed on the map, with elevations of 4285 and 5130, located to the south of the first peak. He found their silhouettes relieved against the dawn sky.
       A quick check of his general location on the map confirmed what he had already known, though with less detail. The ridge he was on was about 15 miles west of the ARVN depot on the Nam Ou River at Ban Bak Pac. Looking in that direction, he could see the 5130-foot peak there, checkable by its steep southern slope, which was shown on the map as dropping from 5100 to 1630 feet in less than a half a mile. If that was the case, then the long valley he had noticed the evening before, the valley presently covered in fog, extended southwest, parallel to the river, to a town called Ban Poy Lo, about 40 miles south, where the river curved to the west. There the valley and river converged. Route 4, the road he and his flight-mates had bombed, followed the valley for about 20 miles. It then turned to the east and crossed the river at Ban Pin Mot. From there the road continued east toward Sam Neua.
       Sam Neua, the Pathet Lao stronghold, site of the caves where POWs just dropped out of sight for years... If capture would come, better to be captured by the North Vietnamese, the ARVN, Morris thought. At least, with them, there was hope of some word of his status getting back home. Even with the ARVN, though, there would be a chance of torture. Better not to think of capture at all. Better to keep focused on what he needed to do to avoid capture and get back to his own forces.
       He knew already what his only possible evasion route could be. He would have to travel southwest through the valley -- to get away from the depot -- then across it to the river, which was about ten miles from the valley center. South was the only possible direction. North and west led to China. East led to North Vietnam. All of the territory between was in the hands of either the Pathet Lao or the ARVN.

The Steward’s work in an anti-poverty program in West Virginia (this is in Chapter 186):
       They stopped in again to visit the Locke’s and this time Rachel was home and invited them in.
       “I got some coffee brewing,” she said.
       In the house, they sat at the kitchen table with their coffee cups before them while Rachel stood at a black stove holding her own cup with both hands. From here it was possible to talk across to Ray Locke in the other room; the house had no physical divisions, just the one large room divided into the two areas of living room and kitchen.
       Both of the older boys had never been able to speak, Rachel Locke told her visitors. “They just can’t learn. They don’t go to school. They help around, though, best as they can.”
       The older boys’ names were Ray Jr. and Clarence, Rachel said. The young boy’s name was Ronald. The boys had all come in to listen as their parents talked. Ray Jr. and Clarence listened with open-mouthed smiles. Ronald had a thoughtful expression; he watched the visitors’ eyes to see what they were looking at and he looked at the same thing himself.
       Ray Locke talked about his mining accident, leaning forward as he gestured with both hands: “It was just this white light, and it got all dark. I thought the mine opening was blowed, you know, ‘cuz it got all dark, but it was my eyes wasn’t working.”
       “Oh, that must have been so scary!” Kris remarked.
       “Yes, ma’am, it was.”
       Stacked in the kitchen were bags of flour, beans, and rice, marked as surplus commodities. The house had no running water and no electricity. Kerosene lanterns, placed around, were the sources of light. The black, cast iron stoves in each room were the sources of heat.
       The nature of the situation was obvious to see. Mrs. Locke was the only one able to meet the family’s main needs. She did that by constant industry, combining physical chores such as cooking and washing with trips by foot to places like Reedsville to secure items and carry them home in her bag. That was why the bag was so important.
       People came at night, she said, knocking around on the outside of the house when her family was in bed.
       “I don’t know who it is,” she said matter-of-factly.
       “Who would do such a mean thing?” Kris exclaimed.
       “I don’t know, ma’am,” Rachel replied.

The Steward’s and Brandt’s take part in the 1969 Moratorium Against the War in Washington D.C. (this is in Chapter 194):
       Following the stage presentation, the lead elements of the march assembled near the base of the obelisk. Police cars with blinking lights moved out first onto Constitution Avenue. Behind them were three young men with drums. Then came a dozen or so groups of youths bearing black wooden coffins.
      An announcer on the stage explained that these coffins contained the cards carried in the candlelight march the night before with the names of soldiers killed in the war. Behind the coffins stood a man with a giant wooden cross. Then came marchers holding a streetwide banner saying, “Silent Majority for Peace.”
       Hundred of marshals with blue and white armbands took up position along Constitution Avenue, linking arms in a continuous line on both sides of the streets.
      “Not taking any chances,” Houghten remarked to Mary.
      “Oh, no. They want this to go right,” Mary replied.
       The police cars moved forward with blinking lights. The drummers, following the police cars, began a funereal roll. Then came the coffins, the banner, and the first of the marchers, arranged by the marshals into streetwide rows of about 17 people.
       At the head of the marchers were recognizable notables. Among them was Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose two brothers, John (the former president) and Robert (the former senator) had both been victims of assassination. Not far from him was Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Also at the front were Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, the folk singer Arlo Guthrie, son of Woody, and the black comedian Dick Gregory.
       “All we are saying is give peace a chance,” people in the one part of the crowd began singing. The song spread through the crowd as more and move voices joined in.
       Two hours passed before the group of eight, including Tom and Kris Steward, Matt and Mary Brandt, Dennis Kelly, Darren Houghten, Gail Martin, and Jane Larue, reached the obelisk to be routed into the march.
       Counter-demonstrators with signs stood here and there behind the marshals. “America is worth saving,” said one sign. “Communism is the total enemy of freedom,” said another. A low-flying plane trailed a banner: “Will Vietnam satisfy the Reds?”
       The counter-demonstrators seemed insignificant, however, compared to the great river of people filling the street from side to side. At the corner of Constitution and Pennsylvania, where the marchers turned around the northwest corner of the enclosed grounds of the White House, the wide column of marchers could be seen stretching a half mile back to the Washington Monument and a quarter mile east up Pennsylvania to the point where the parade route bent south again back to the mall.
       The group of eight friends, marching side by side, locked arms as they passed the White House, chanting “Peace Now” with the crowd around them. Further up the street, another chant sprung up at the same time: “Ho, Ho, Ho! Ho Chi Minh!”

Steward’s move to Masontown, West Virginia (this is in Chapter 199):
      With the coming of winter weather in December, 1969, life for Tom and Kris Steward became increasingly grim and increasingly complicated by money problems. This was the case despite a betterment in their everyday situation brought about by their move from the farmhouse where they had lived for three months to a mobile home in Masontown.
       Compared to the solitary setting of the farmhouse, the little town to which they had moved seemed a hub of activity. It had a filling station with an attached convenience store, a hardware store, railroad tracks with trains passing by, coke stoves that glowed red beside the railroad tracks, and cars and trucks passing by on Route 7, the highway between Morgantown and Kingwood, which was also the main street of the town and visible from the living room of the Steward’s new home. When the long dark nights of December brought blowing snow, it was reassuring to see an open road so close at hand and the arc lights shining above the filling station and hardware store.

Morris is moved out of Sam Neua (this is in Chapter 234):
       From Sam Neua, the group that included prisoner of war James Morris headed southwest, so far as he could determine from occasional glimpses of the sun through the canopy of leaves above the road on which the caravan was traveling. Then the shield of leaves dropped away briefly and Morris saw that the wagon was moving along on a road about 400 feet above a town with narrow streets and Chinese-style pagoda roofs. Some of the buildings were demolished and others were in flame.
       “That is Sam Neua, the actual town,” the third passenger informed. 
       “Where was the camp then?”
       “Place called Xanthon. Just a few miles away.”
       “The damage here is from bombing?”
       “Yes, American planes.”
       “You’re a soldier?” Morris asked. 
       The man was an American, Morris had already decided, based on the easy informality that he had learned set Americans off from other English-speaking people overseas.
       “No, I’m a clergyman. Catholic priest.”
       “Is that so?”
       “Yes. I’ve been working up in the mountains north of Long Thiueu for about five years. My name is Leonard Blair.”
       “Well, pleased to meet you, Father. I’m Jim Morris of the U.S. Air Force. And this here is Bryan Zastrowski of Air America.”
       “Pleased to meet you boys.”
       “How long have you been a captive?”
       “For just about a month.”
       “How did that happen?”
       “Group of soldiers came through the area I was working in. Guess they figured me for a spy.”
       “Well, that was not a good day!”
       “No, it was not.”
       “You speak Lao, I take it.” 
       “I speak Lao Hmong,” the priest answered. “As I’m sure you know, there are a whole slew of Lao dialects. In most of the others, I can stumble around.”
       “How about this one here?” Morris inquired, nodding toward the two soldiers next to the wagon who at the moment were talking.
      “I more or less understand them and I can get a point across if I really need to, you know."
      “Well, tell them I said to get fucked then," Zastrowski interjected.

The Steward's travel west on the day after the Kent State shootings (this is in Chapter 231):
       All that day and through the next, as the Steward’s traveled across the flat mesa of eastern Arizona, with its buttes and tables of rock, and past the mountains of central Arizona by Flagstaff, which could first be seen a hundred miles away, a similar feeling continued of the dissipation of the news from Ohio and the whole war conflict in the vastness and sun-wash of the immense open spaces. Little towns along the road, with their motels, gauche signs, and inane tourist attractions, and their night-time neon signs of restaurants and taverns, located on both sides of the two-lane highway, brought further dissipation in a sense of the multiplicity and gaudery of an American culture that cared little for seriousness of any kind.
       For Steward, however, these scenes, far from repelling him, brought an intimation of a new and unknown world to take in and understand. These were industrious people along the highway, he thought, trying to make an honest buck in the old American way. They had no interest in the disputes of students a thousand miles away. They would deplore what had happened, but would then go on with their lives. In the areas of the towns removed from the highway, Steward observed these lives in sidewalk interactions seen in passing. He noted that the main roads of town extended into the unfenced country all around.
       In western Arizona, as the route from Flagstaff to Needles brought the long descent from the mountains to the desert, Steward looked out from an elevated bend of the highway, over a vista that he figured spanned 30 or 40 miles; and he saw, in the twilight, the colored lights of a country fair, with the red and blue lights of a ferris wheel circling beside the ordered white lights of a little town. The sky above was a high tumble of clouds etched with the red and orange afterglow of the sunset just past. Lightning flashed from a horizon rimmed with mountains. This was their life. He saw no fault in it at all.

Bill O'Rourke serves as a combat medic (this is in Chapter 238):
       In late June of 1970, Spec. 4 Bill O’Rourke began hearing warnings that the units of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) operating in the dense mountain jungle around his current location, at Fire Support Base Ripcord, were planning a full-scale attack on the base itself.
       “They say a full regiment’s out there,” 2d Lieutenant Kevin “Cubby” Klein said to the former coxswain turned medical corpsman as they stood within a circular chest-deep howitzer pad on top of the western-most hill of the three hills of the firebase.
       From where the two men were standing, facing south, at an elevation of 2800 feet above sea level, they could see over two southeastern-flowing rivers, the Rao Trana and the Khe Doana, that ran almost in parallel about 1500 feet below them. Beyond these two rivers, about two miles directly in front of them, was a wooded ridge, called Ko Va La Dut, from which mobile NVA units sometimes fired mortar rounds, moving to a new position before their location could be fixed. Ko Va La Dut, at about the same elevation as the firebase, extended east to west along the entire east-to-west axis of the firebase, then dipped down about 600 feet and bent around toward the north, to the base of a steep summit called Coc Muen, located west of the firebase. Coc Muen, at an elevation of 4000 feet (1200 feet higher than the firebase), towered over the whole scene. Also, in view, above the lower section of the ridge, on the southwest, were three hills, -- Hill 902, Hill 805, and Hill 1000, -- that were often referred to in tactical discussions and that were known to many of the men firsthand as the site of past skirmishes and, in some cases, as a place where one or more of their comrades had lost their lives. 
       The closest of these hills, Hill 902, located about a mile and half away from the hill on which O’Rourke and Klein stood, had lately been of special interest to their unit, -- Charlie Company of the 2d Battalion of the 506th Infantry Division, which, at present, under the aegis of the 101st Airborne, had responsibility for the firebase as a whole. A plan had been discussed for Charlie Company to strike out at once to occupy Hill 902 if the firebase was attacked. Responsibility for the base would then, in the same general operation, be transferred to Delta Company, who would be flown in from their current field location. With Hill 902 secured, there would be no high ground adjacent to the base from which the NVA could fire. There was also high ground at Coc Muen and Ko Va La Dut, of course, but Coc Muen was regarded as too steep for NVA units to climb with heavy weapons and the Ko Va La Dut ridge was right across from the base’s big guns.
       Even with Hill 902 secured, Mount Coc Muen would still serve as an observation point for the NVA, and that function of Coc Muen, O’Rourke had heard, had been known and accepted at the time of the initial decision to locate Ripcord on the three hill tops to its east. The site of Ripcord had been selected despite that knowledge, O’Rourke had heard, because it was regarded as the most defensible site from which to monitor NVA movement through the valleys below toward the coast and Hue.
       “If we do go to 902, we will be at partial strength,” Klein said to O’Rourke, nodding toward the thickly wooded slopes. “3rd Platoon is here, but they just got back for rest. They won’t go with us. It will be just three platoons: us, the 1st, and the post platoon, the heavy rifle guys. And everybody’s down in strength. We’re talking 60 guys.”

Steward travels to a concert with his wife’s brother’s band (this is in Chapter 243):
       The caravan, led by the equipment truck, headed out on the Barstow freeway. Just behind that, two vehicles ahead of Steward’s car, was the pickup truck with several of the more outrageously dressed people sitting in the open bed in back. Among them was a young man with a great mane of frizzy hair and a beard arranged into long braids with red bows. Next to him was a busty brunette in a cut-off T-shirt who was not wearing a bra, as was evident when her large nipples stuck up below the cloth. She had hairy armpits that she seemed proud to display.
       As the caravan moved along, Steward could see the blonde head of his wife in the back seat of the mini-van. She was clearly the center of the conversation as she bounced around and gestured with her hands. Now and then she touched the shoulders or arms of those around her.
       Steward just wanted the portion of the trip over where his wife was riding in the van. But, after a stop at which she didn’t make the transfer from one vehicle to the other, he realized she intended to remain in the van all the way to Bishop.
       The country turned to a desert of sun-cracked basins rimmed with brown mountains. One of the riders in Steward’s car took over the radio and the trip continued with a musical backdrop of pop tunes and ads.
       “What have you and Kris done since you got married?” the rider asked as he punched through the radio stations.
       “We were working out in West Virginia, in a poverty program,” Steward replied, “in the Appalachian Mountains.”
       “Hillbillies, kind of?”
       “Yea, I guess you could say that.” 
       “Far out!”
       In a small town, the caravan stopped for gas, creating a sensation for the young teens at a nearby playground.
       “Must be a hippie commune,” Steward heard one of them say as he stood at the pump.
       “Where are you all going?” another one asked.
       “Just on down the road,” one of the young men that were riding with Steward answered with a flick of his head.
       “They’re posing,” Steward thought to himself, but he didn’t blame them really. They were just kids showing off.
       Out on the road again, in a deserted stretch of desert, the people in the back of the pickup started passing around a joint while they kept looking up and down the road to watch out for cops.
       A green sign of the standard type announced the town border and a population of 3192 people. The caravan rolled in with the self-importance of a traveling circus. The fellow with the braided beard and the brunette with the hairy armpits shouted hellos and flashed peace signs at anyone who would look in their direction.    
       Not all who watched the caravan pass did so with approval, Steward noticed. A gray-haired minister by a church viewed the group with alarm. Several businessmen in suits, in the parking lot of a restaurant, shook their heads in disapproval.  
       It was the culture war all over again, Steward thought to himself, deliberately provoked not for the sake of any lofty purpose like the end of the war but simply for the thrill of defiance and shock. There was a self-righteous quality in it, an attitude of contempt of common people that he did not like.

O’Rourke at the Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord (this is in Chapter 246):
       O’Rourke didn’t say what he was thinking, that the wounded soldier was in danger of fainting from loss of blood. If that happened, he would carry him, he thought to himself.
       There was intensified fire, by this time, from the trees below, he noticed. A flare went up, providing another starkly shadowed illumination of the chaotic scene of battle. He waited for the light of the flare to die out and moved out with the wounded soldier for the hundred yard crawl to the center position of the hill.
       “O’Rourke, we got another here,” the former coxswain heard as he headed out.
       “I’ll be right back,” he answered.
       O’Rourke assisted the man to the center of the hill and observed a medivac zigzagging in to elude hostile fire.
       “I’m out again,” he yelled to his friend Klein as he dashed into the darkness, heading toward the same general location, where he already knew the second wounded soldier to be, but by another route figured out the previous evening.
       This time, as the former coxswain came near the string of foxholes, amidst exploding shells and sprays of fire, he felt a sharp jolt to his left leg and went down in a tumble. He looked and saw a piece of flesh had been ripped off from the lower thigh as with a butcher knife. He huddled in the dark in a natural depression of the ground and with a tourniquet managed to stop the flow of blood.
       He tried to raise himself up but, unable to place his weight on the injured leg, he continued toward the foxhole by dragging himself along on the ground.
       Reaching the second foxhole, he found a man on his stomach with a hole in his back in the midst of a shirt drenched with blood. The man was dead, he had been dead since the moment of impact, he thought. A second man was wounded through the shoulder. O’Rourke applied a bandage, set up a line, and set it up on the first man’s rifle. A third man, watching over the foxhole for approach of enemy soldiers, now and then turned to O’Rourke as the medic worked.
       “Think he’ll make it?” he asked.
       “Yes, he could. If we get this battle under control, he needs to be carried right away to the landing zone.”
       “Looks like you got hit yourself.”
       “I’m doing fine.”

Morris as a POW in Laos (this is in Chapter 256):
       The Laotian “wet season” of 1970 had brought a number of changes for prisoner of war Major Jim Morris, most disturbing of which had been his sudden transfer out of Ban Hatbay, the Lao Theung village where he had spent about a month after leaving Sam Neua. From there, the downed pilot had been moved to and kept captive in various, usually rain-soaked places on the Plain of Jars or in the adjacent mountains, sometimes as the only prisoner, sometimes in the company of other Americans. All these places had brought their own contributions to his grim experience of captivity. Throughout this entire time, however, Ban Hatbay had remained at the center of his thought.
       The always self-appraising pilot had taken note of the importance the village had acquired in his mind. He had no doubt as to why this had happened. Ban Hatbay, alone among the places he had been held in since his capture, had offered an open view of earth and sky and the observation of the daily life of the village people. Also, in Ban Hatbay, Morris had had more meetings of eyes with Mayral and Soutsada, the mother and son he had noticed in his first week in the village. These interactions had remained with him as strongly as the village itself.
       Mayral, he had noted, was the first woman since his wife Ellen to have assumed a strong presence within him. She was no competitor to Ellen, surely, on a romantic plane; but the dark eyes that had met his gaze had seared an image into Morris’s mind. When he dwelled on that image, he felt something he needed greatly. What was it anyhow, he had asked himself. A sense of the beauty of life, maybe, a hope of regeneration. A sense of himself as still a human being worthy of human acceptance.
       Soutsada’s face and eyes, so like his mother’s, had burned within Morris’s mind, also, the downed pilot knew. They were the bright, almost shining face and eyes of boyhood idealism, Morris had observed to himself. Maybe a face such as his own had been at that same age, he thought, the young Jim Morris.

Morris as a returned POW (this is in Chapter 288):
       Following this first sexual failure, understood and forgiven though it was by his wife, in her tenderness toward him, Jim Morris commenced a period marked by a succession of small failures of a similar kind, each bringing a new level of humiliation and a new level of powerlessness at preventing the demise of the position of pride and competence that he had previously enjoyed in his marriage.
       Ellen, in an almost angelic manner, with a sweet voice and beatific countenance, sought to reassure him that she did not regard his problems as indicating weakness of any kind. In Morris’s mind, however, that was the greatest humiliation: to have to accept, -- and not only to accept but  to need, -- her reassurance. He could see the love in her eyes, surely, but not the look of being truly attracted to him physically and truly trusting in his self-confidence that he had once seen in her eyes and wanted so much to see there again.
       Soon upon this, also, Morris learned about the abortion that Ellen had obtained two years before, after returning from his and her vacation in Bangkok, Thailand.
       Ellen did not disclose the abortion with a show of spitefulness or with a hint of criticism of any kind, but rather as an illustration of the extent to which she was willing, -- and had been willing, -- to allow her love of him to overpower her own wishes.
       “I wanted that baby, Jimmy,” she said softly. “I wanted that baby so much! But you told me how important it was to you to not have the possibility of leaving behind another baby without a father, as you were. So I went against my own inclinations.”
       “Well, it was meant to be, I suppose,” the major replied.
       This was a new trend for him, to respond in this fatalistic manner, and he was aware that the effect on his wife was to confuse and discourage her. Even so, he could not prevent himself from bringing this dispirited attitude into his conversations with her, which, with each passing day, were becoming more flat and desultory.
       With himself, in his inner dialogues, Morris was no less gloomy. He had settled on the notion that he bore some guilt for the horrors of the war. He criticized himself in his thoughts for every conceivable reason, real and imaginary, connected with his conduct in the war; and he thought often of the New York Times picture of the Mylai slaughter, the similar pictures shown to him by Maj. Xuan Than, and the image that remained in his mind of the dead bodies he had walked amidst on the morning of his escape from the village of Ban Hatbay.
       Morris tried at times to defend himself, as before a jury; but he had found that he had an inner prosecutor as well as a defender, and that the prosecutor was more passionate and persuasive in presenting the case. The case was not for outright guilt, Morris knew. The case was for guilt through complicity, guilt for having allowed himself to be a cog in the machinery of destruction.
       None of this inner dialogue, however, did Morris share with Ellen. He never talked about the war, and he never talked with her in any detail regarding the abortion of the fetus that he felt surely, without factual basis, would have been his son. He did, indeed, regard it as fate, or as poetic justice of some kind, that he had lost his son through his own petition while participating in the war. 
       “How many sons have I killed?” he remarked at times to himself out loud. “I didn’t see them, but I killed them.”

Mary Brandt in Cuba (this is in Chapter 303):
       After her long day with Xavier Cortez, Mary Brandt had been almost convinced of the argument he had presented, that free speech needed to be constrained in Cuba in order to prevent big money interests from undoing the Revolution through a campaign of misinformation. As the time drew near for her return to the United States, however, Mary felt more and more uneasy about having accepted this argument, to the extent that she had, and more and more dissatisfied with her inability to identify what she felt so uneasy about.
     In addition, though Mary had initially felt good about her personal interaction with Xavier Cortez, on that same day, she began feeling uneasy about that, as well, as a reconstruction of what had happened between her and him formed in her mind. She had not compromised herself in any manner. She had not even flirted with him or touched him in any way. But she had allowed him to ask questions about her marital status, and had explained to him that she and Matthew had agreed to allow open relationships with the other sex, on both sides, -- in effect, giving the impression that she was fair game. She felt that she should have said simply that she had no interest in any kind of relationship, with him or any man, other than Matthew, except for friendship alone.

Morris travels home to commit suicide (this in Chapter 313):
       From Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, Jim Morris headed east, determined to dispatch his familial duty of finalizing the sale of the family house and disposing properly of mementos and possessions left behind by his mother. Meanwhile, the inner mantra of his failures continued: his failure in the war (as he saw it), his failure with Ellen, his failure to find a life he believed in, a life worth living.
       “What is left of me, Dad?” he said, speaking to his father, as he did by habit, without really believing that his father was listening or capable of listening. “Nothing is left of me. I’ve been chipped away to nothing.”
       That notion (arising out of nowhere, seemingly) settled in, in his mind, and wore on him as the long miles brought successive scenes. Places of business, bridges, isolated buildings, little towns, loomed far in the distance, then came near, then passed; a nameless retreat, falling back into the emptiness of the prairie behind him.

After the breakup of the Cranston farm collective (this is Chapter 315):
       The setting and mood were oddly tribalistic, considering that the six people waiting were all sophisticated in their understanding of the world and had all been to college. They gathered together in the fragrant silence of the evening, punctuated by the chirping of insects, not feeling entirely in harmony or at peace with one another, but yet as a definite group bound by their common living situation and fortunes, waiting for this other group, their former cohabiters, who were now coming like adversaries to press their own interests against them. 
       The first sign of the former cohabiters was a motor sound from beyond the apple tree in the pasture. It was the steady, purring sound of an expensive, well-tuned motor. A black sedan, soon recognizable as an Oldsmobile 88, brand new and polished, then came into view. Inside of it were Mark and Alison Payton, dressed plainly in their “country style” clothes, but fashionably also. Presumably they had driven from Burlington, Vermont, where Alison’s well-to-do parents lived. 
       The six by the hay wagon watched as the black car pulled up at the shed. Then Mark emerged from the driver side door and went around the car to open the door for his wife. He and she stubbornly persisted in these old style gallantries.
       Turning together, they came across the dirt road, Mark in his usual collegiate sweater and pressed slacks, Alison in one of her full, pleated skirts. She was wearing knee-high blue socks and earth shoes and walked, as usual, slightly behind her husband. 
       “Mark, hello, my man!” said Darren. “Welcome back.”
       “Glad to see you all.”
       “We’re glad to see you, too.”
       Next to arrive, and not so classy in engine sound or appearance, were the scruffy friends, Larry Holmgren and Kurt Granvolt, in Granvolt’s old pick-up with peace signs on the window. 
       They both had beards covering a portion of their faces with stubble grown up on the other portion. As they came out of the truck, one on each side at about the same time, and turned around toward the group, they gave the impression of being drunk or stoned and, in addition, ill-spirited and angry. They had apparently driven up all the way from D.C. in one sitting and they had a look of that, also, as if stale from the road and sick of the whole business. 
       “Kurt and Larry! Nice to see you again,” Darren chimed once more in his gentle voice, imbued with his customary diplomatic niceness, but his greeting drew no verbal response just sullen nods.
       They all then stood in their two distinct groups, on either side of the hay wagon, as all eyes turned toward the Prince Hal figure of Darren Houghten. With his ever pleasant and obliging demeanor, and his middle position in the group socially, he was assumed to be the one who would attempt to take a middle ground.
       “Well, you are all my friends,” Darren began. -- Indeed, he was the only one in the group who could say this to all of the others. -- “And I can just say, for myself, I’m so sorry we have to meet in this way about such a division between us.”

Steward hitches around (this is in Chapter 320):
      “Looking for America” -- it was a theme and personal ambition that Thomas Steward had thought of many times since seeing the movie Easy Rider in Charlestown, West Virginia, in December of 1969; and he thought of it again, early on Tuesday, August 25, 1971, as he took a long last look at Gallup, New Mexico, before running, with his orange backpack slung over his left shoulder, to the passenger side door of his first ride of his next hitchhiking trip, to St. Paul, Minnesota.
      “Where you headed?” the driver asked.
       “Albuquerque, then up through Santa Fe.”
      “I can take you as far as Albuquerque.”
      “Sounds great. Thank you.”
      The red cliffs of the little town of Church Rock followed after that, then miles of the wide open mesa, dotted with sage and pinyons, with often a view of a distant road curving up over a hill or around a solitary outgrowth of rock or down into a jagged canyon and then out of sight, while Steward’s mind went on.
      Had he found America? All of it, surely not. But he had seen a vast section of it, at least, in his journey up through Utah and Nevada to the Bay Area then down the coast to L.A. and from there back to Gallup; and in that section he had observed, from his vantage point on the open road, that the immense land the pioneers had encountered was still there, and that their history was still all around, though fading off, just as his own history was fading off, as he had learned in San Francisco.
      “Even at this moment, the history is here, and new history is being created,” Steward said to himself.

Steward leaves the farm and heads home to Minnesota (this is in Chapter 331):
       Tom Steward, surprised by Mary Brandt’s lingering kiss, looked back once as she drove away. She glanced at him with a smile and a final wave. Her earnest eyes looked troubled, the eyes he had learned to trust as the outward sign of her inner world of reason and common sense.
       “That’s one more crazy thing I’ll never figure out,” he thought to himself as he headed up the onramp to the highway. “Why did she kiss me like that?”
       He thought about Mary Brandt a great deal as his journey took him slowly across Vermont. That night, as he slept in an empty semi-trailer, in a truck lot in Troy, New York, he dreamed about her, also. He dreamed that she had given him an apple to eat, like a modern day Eve, and that she had kissed him again, more passionately, with her tongue swishing around inside of his mouth.
       For the first time, thinking of that, Steward admitted to himself that, had it not been for Matt and loyalty to an old friend, he would have had a romantic interest in Mary Brandt. He wondered where that interest would have gone under different circumstances.
       For the first time, also, he allowed his sexual fantasies to focus on Mary Brandt. It was intriguing to think that a female animal was there, beneath the reasoned, articulate façade. He had no doubt that that would be so. She would bring to sex the same intensity that she brought to all her other endeavors.
       From that item of interest, his thoughts went on to another, as he continued his journey that same day, along interstate I-90 through upper state New York: why, after years of not allowing the notion even to enter his mind, had he all of a sudden allowed himself to contemplate sex with Mary Brandt? Why had his loyalty to Matthew all of a sudden broken down? Why hadn’t it stood in the way as it had before?  
       “Well, I know the answer to that,” he remarked to himself. “Matt is gone. Let’s just face it. Matt is gone. I tried to stop it. I did my best. There was nothing else I could do.”
       He recalled how he had used the phrase “speak to” in talking to Matt and how Matt had responded with such scorn and with the same hidden anger as had erupted in the last days of the farm. 
       That had been the heart of the conflict, Steward thought: Matt wanting to throw off the refinement and intellectualism of the past years. Matt had come to see him as part of what he wanted to throw off. Matt was directing that anger to him as an example of someone given up to the convolutions of thought he hated. It was as simple as that. He and Matt would never be friends again. 
       By the same token, Steward had a feeling that more had ended in his leaving the farm than just that particular experience. Not only the farm but his whole experience in the so-called Movement had ended. He felt that distinctly, and he felt that it was true in general, that the Movement was coming to an end, not just for himself but for many people. It was in the air somehow, a changing of the guard.
       “‘Spirit of the times,’” he pronounced aloud.
       He observed to himself later, continuing along in this same train of thought, that he couldn’t think of anyone who had better represented the Movement, for the best it had been, than Mary Brandt. Now the Movement was fading from his life, and she was fading from his life, also. 
       Mary had said she would write, and he would write if she did, but he doubted it would continue for long, despite the intensity of her kiss of farewell. He didn’t know why. He just felt that, too. Jane would maybe write, also, but he doubted that that would go on for long, either. He was amazed at how the passion of hours before was fading. The farm was gone, he thought; there was no going back.
       There would be no going back for the Movement, either, he concluded in his mind. What was there, anymore, for it to go back to? The Movement had been taken to its logical end. It had gone down in the throes of that same logic, torn apart by the clash of odd partners it had drawn in.  

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