by: Mark Arbour
Before you read this story, there are a few things you should consider:
It contains graphic descriptions of sex between men. There may even be some sex with women in here. Fortunately, there is no sex with animals.
Be aware that the effects of inflation have been profound. A good rule of thumb is to consider that $1 in 1968 is probably similar to $10 in 2008. So just add a zero at the end of any number.
This is a sequel to “Chronicles of an Academic Predator.” You don't have to read CAP before this story, but it will give you a deeper insight into the characters and their pasts.
July 14, 1968
Jeff was dead. I should be sadder, but I wasn't. I should have tears flowing down my face, but I didn't. He'd been slowly killing my feelings for him over the past eight months. What little concern I had for him after Paris, he'd blown with his blackmail stunt. He had so much potential. The man he used to be was a truly special person. The man he had become was twisted.
I went out to the patio where we'd all been hanging out. Sam knew something was wrong as soon as I returned. So did Stefan. “Jeff was found dead in his house yesterday from a heroin overdose.”
Sam jumped up and hugged me, but I didn't cry. Neither did Stefan. I looked past Sam's shoulder and into Stefan’s eyes. There was a general consensus between us. We didn't want to say “good riddance,” but the feeling was there. “I'm going to go tell Isidore. I'll be right back.”
I knocked on Isidore's door and didn't get an answer so I gently opened the door. She was in her bed alright, but there was someone on top of her. Two cute little butt cheeks were working like crazy as the guy pumped into her. I should have left, but I was too curious to see who it was.
I walked up next to the bed. They hadn't noticed me until then. It was Mike. I hid my laughter. He freaked out and made to jump up but I physically put my hand on his back to stop him. “It's OK Mike.” I couldn't resist running my hand down over his cute little ass... “Come see me when you're done, OK?” Isidore nodded.
I went back to the porch and started laughing hysterically. The pot I'd smoked didn't help. Sam looked at me like I was a monster. “Jeff is dead and you're laughing?”
“No, I'm not laughing about that. Isidore was with Mike and I kind of interrupted them.” Then the other three laughed too. So there we were, laughing our asses off, when Isidore emerged.
“Sorry to interrupt you dear,” I said, and cracked up again. She glared at all of us, but soon a smile broke out on her face too.
“You were not sorry; you are making fun of me. Why can I not find a man to satisfy me like the rest of you?”
I took her hands lovingly. “You are absolutely right dear. You have every right to find a man.”
She relented. “So what did you want?” I told her about Jeff and she reacted the same way Stefan and I had.
“We should go to the funeral,” I said. If I had announced to a bunch of rats that the ship was sinking, I couldn't have found more people heading for cover. No one wanted to go. Everyone decided that the kids most definitely should not go, so Isidore used that as an excuse to bow out. I kind of expected Sam to want to go, just to be there to support me, but he was doing everything he could to avoid it. In the end I decided that I’d just go by myself. It would probably be easier that way.
July 15, 1968
I landed in Columbus where my father was waiting for me. It was a 50 mile drive to Claremont, but he was probably in Columbus for business anyway so he didn't mind. My father was so well known in Ohio he was basically free to speed at will. He always had a blue Cadillac, and the cops knew him and left him alone. So we flew to Claremont at breakneck speeds.
My mother was there to greet us both, gracious as always. “The wake is tomorrow, and the funeral will be on the 17th. It is such a tragic loss.”
“Yes it is,” I agreed. I wondered how I'd do when I saw him lying in his casket.
Tonto and Barry and Billy's kids came up for dinner. It was good to see them. Billy's two other kids seemed pretty tight with each other, and pretty happy. They didn't ask about Brad once.
“How is Brad doing?” Tonto asked, cornering me when we were alone.
“He's doing really well. He and Ace are inseparable. He asked me if Billy was his real father,” I told her. “He said he heard that he wasn't.”
“Oh dear. Who told him?”
“His brother and sister,” I said, hiding my irritation with them. They were just kids after all.
“How did he take it?” she asked.
“I showed him a letter Billy sent me before he went out to sea for the last time. He said in the letter that of all the kids, he loved Brad the most, even though he wasn't his biological son. That seemed to heal a lot of the wounds.”
Tears fell out of Tonto's eyes. She never was good at hiding her feelings. “That was just like Billy. He would have looked out for Brad just that much more.”
“Billy also told me the name of Brad's biological father. Tragically and ironically, he was killed when the Scorpion sank a few months ago.”
Tonto looked at me, aghast. “How did Brad handle that?”
“Actually, he handled it well. It was one more thing that he and Ace have in common. Both of their fathers were heroes. Tonto, come visit. You'd like it in California, and you'd get to see Brad in a happy environment. It would make you feel good.” She just nodded.
After they left I headed into the kitchen to see Vella. I knew I had to talk to her about Sammy. “Hi,” I said as I walked in, making sure she knew I was there to talk to her.
“Hi JP. I heard you saw Sammy in New York.” She seemed irritated.
“Who told you that?”
“I hear things,” she said mysteriously.
“It wasn't much of a visit Vella. He wasn't exactly happy to see me.” I remembered his irritation at Jeff and me showing up, how he really didn't want us around at all.
“You sayin' he was rude and ungrateful?” she said defensively.
“Yeah Vella, actually he was. But these are tough times, and he's passionate about his causes, so I didn't really let it bother me.”
She turned on me, angry. “That's not what I heard. I heard you was so mad at him you was gonna cut off his money.” What? What was she talking about? Jeff. This had to be Jeff. Why would he tell her that?
I was pissed off. Really pissed, more at Jeff than Vella, but she got the brunt of it. “Did Jeff tell you that?” I spoke to her loudly and firmly, and that alone told her she'd really crossed a line with me. “Vella, that's really not fair to me, and quite frankly, I'm offended that you'd even believe that. I thought you knew me better than that, and I thought our relationship was closer than that. I made a commitment, pledged my word, and even though Sammy was a jerk, I never thought about not paying for his bills.”
I could tell from her reaction when I mentioned Jeff's name that he was the one that had poisoned her mind. Where was all this venom coming from? Why had he done this to me? “When did Jeff tell you all these lies?” I demanded.
She looked at me and could sense that I was really irritated with her. “He told me a few days before the Festival. Said you left him stranded in Paris, that you'd turned your back on everyone. I'm sorry JP. I should have known better. I can't believe I questioned you after all you've done for Sammy.” She started crying. I rarely saw Vella cry.
I got up and hugged her. “It's OK Vella. Jeff was back on drugs, and he was a messed up guy. This emotional roller coaster you're on, it's the same one I've dealt with for a long time. I didn't leave him stranded in Paris, he tried to leave me trapped there, totally dependent on him. I was relying on him to call my father to help get me out of there. He told me that he had, but he never did. He really changed Vella.”
“I'm sorry Sammy was rude to you. I'll smack him good when I talk to him. 'course that doesn't happen much. He's so mad all the time. So angry. It scares me.” Her only son, out of control as she saw it, was really taking its toll.
“He'll come around Vella. He'll come around.” I held her while she cried, for Jeff and for her son.
Lying in my bedroom that night, I found that the emotion that I felt more than any other was confusion. I looked over to my sliding door, the door Jeff had used to sneak into my room to have sex with me. I couldn't bring myself to call it “making love,” even though it had been. What had happened to him? Why did he hate me? Why did he hate himself? I'd been there for him through every crisis, every trauma, and I'd always been willing to give him love and support. The only thing I'd done is break off our relationship, but even then I was still intimate with him, and not just sexually. I didn't have the answers, and I probably never would.
July 16, 1968
Based on my conversation with Vella, I approached the wake with a lot of trepidation. I wondered how many other people he'd spread his lies to. I wondered what he'd told Frank. Fortunately, my parents were going so I just went along with them. I felt like a big pussy, needing my parents to make sure no one was mean to me. But no one in Claremont would dare to bother me when Jack and Marie Crampton were around.
We got to the church and his parents were there at the front, crying like they'd loved him. My parents exchanged pleasantries with them, but I just gave them a dirty look, daring them to as much as talk to me. They didn't. The most surprising thing about them was how amazingly sober they were. Bet they wouldn't be later tonight.
I headed to the front of the church to where his coffin was placed. Jeff looked so serene there, and it was so easy to visualize his ready grin and happy go lucky manner. At least that's what the Jeff of old used to be like. I felt a tear on my cheek, mourning the Jeff I used to know, the Jeff I used to love. I moved to the pew in front to let others walk by. I wasn't ready to leave him yet, but I didn't want to make a scene.
Suddenly I felt a hulking presence beside me and I turned to see Frank Hayes sitting there.
“I didn't know if you'd make it,” Frank said, and not all that nicely.
“Jeff was an important person in my life Frank. You know that.”
“Not according to him. He had lots of stories about how you treated him badly.” I knew Frank, and I could tell he really didn't believe that.
“You know better than that Frank. Those fucking drugs ruined him. They ate him up from the inside out. I worked so hard with him to get him off of them, but in the end he just couldn't kick them.”
He looked at me carefully. “I know JP. I was pissed at you at first, but then I realized that he was full of shit. He was talking shit about everyone.” He looked around furtively. “My parents took all the stuff in his house. They were like locusts. But I found this.” He handed me an envelope with “JP” written on it.
“Thanks Frank,” I said, and actually hugged him. He hugged me back. I walked back up to the casket and touched Jeff’s face; it felt like wax. Then his hair, his dark blond hair that I had found so sexy.
“You got no reason to be up here pretendin' you care about him after the way you treated him,” a voice said to me. It was his mother. She looked older than ever. She was truly a horrible person.
“Why not? You're up here pretending that you loved him. Everyone in this town knows what a shitty mother you are, so don't think you're fooling anyone.” She hissed at me like a snake, and I turned on my heel and left the church, waiting out front for my parents.
By the time they walked out of the building, all I felt was sadness, tempered with my true disgust for Jeff’s parents. We went back home and I excused myself, seeking the sanctuary of my room. It was still the refuge it had always been. I took out the letter Frank gave me and held it for a few minutes. I was worried about what darts he may throw at me from the grave. What additional pain would he inflict on me? I sighed and opened the letter.
July 4, 1968
You may not believe this, but it was great to see you today. I'm sorry I'm being such a dick, but I am. I am a total dick. I've become evil and I can't stop myself. All I can do is take drugs to kill the pain. It seems that the more I hate you, the more I blame you for my problems, the better I feel. That's why I'm writing you this letter, so you'll know that I didn't really mean it. I'm such an awful person, a terrible person. People like me shouldn't be allowed to live.
I knew after Paris you'd never be able to forgive me so I took Stefan's money and ran all over Europe. The more I ran, the more I hated myself, and it was easy to slip into heroin again. I'm sorry I isolated you like that. I guess it was the only way I could ever have you back again, all to myself.
I want you to know two things. In the past, I can remember us loving each other and being happy. Those are the only memories that make me smile anymore. And that thing I told you in the Commons about your secrets, I never could have told anyone that stuff. Ever.
The only thing I have left in this world that's worth a shit is the car you gave me. You can keep it if you want, you probably already have. If I had my choice, though, I'd have given it to Frank. In the end, he was the only one in my family who was nice to me.
I'm sorry for everything, and I know you, know that you'll forgive me because deep down you still do love and care for me. I won't be long in this world, but that thought has given me peace.
I put the letter in my briefcase and took a shower. We were all somber at dinner; I guess I was setting the mood. After dinner, I decided to do something I hadn't done in a long time. I headed down to Dino's with a mission to get really drunk.
I'd been there for a few hours, well on my way to getting trashed, when I saw Frank Hayes stagger toward me. “JP!” he said, slurring. I jumped up and hugged him. He reminded me so much of Jeff, he even smelled like him. I probably hugged him for too long, but he didn't break it off either.
“I've got a present for you Frank,” I said.
“You gonna blow me?” he joked.
“Besides that,” I said, and we laughed. “There's a Cadillac in my garage that's yours. I'll have it shipped back to you.”
“Really? What kind?” I told him all about it and he got pretty excited. “You bought it for Jeff with your money though. You should keep it.”
“He wanted you to have it. He said so in the letter that you gave me. And I want you to have it too.” After that we just sat there and did shots until we were totally blasted.
We staggered out to our cars and Frank stopped to pee in the parking lot. I laughed, but I couldn't help staring at his dick. Jeff said Frank was the biggest of the Hayes brothers, and it certainly looked that way. Drunk as he was, he still caught me staring and got an evil grin on his face.
“Come on,” he said, and guided me to his car. “I'll drive you home.”
“You're drunker than I am. Let's get a cab,” I said.
“OK, but I need to sit here for just a minute.” He looked over at me and his hand fell to his crotch and squeezed. “For a guy, you're pretty cute,” he said. I knew where this was going, but I was too drunk to be strong.
“You think so?” I said coquettishly.
“Yeah. I remember there were times in high school when I caught you looking at me in the locker room and I was tempted to see if I could talk you into sucking my dick.”
“Why didn't you?”
“You mean you would have?”
I laughed. “If I was drunk enough, maybe.”
“Like now?” he said, and he got serious and quiet.
“Yeah, like now,” I said, looking purposefully at his crotch. He unbuttoned his pants and unzipped his zipper, pulling them down to reveal an almost hard cock. It was nice, just like Jeff's, only bigger. I bent over and took him in my mouth, inhaling his musky odor, the odor of a man who hadn't showered since the morning. He moaned, and leaned back to focus on the pleasure I was giving him.
I put all my skills to use, working him with my tongue, fondling his balls with my finger, really putting my all into it, but he was too drunk and I wondered if he'd ever be able to cum. Then I got a wild idea and moved my finger down his perineum to his hole. His sweat acted like natural lube and I slipped my finger up his ass. He squirmed a bit, tried to move away, but in the end, he let me probe him. Then I found his spot and gently worked it. Suddenly my oral ministrations really seemed to be working. Suddenly his erection was straining at its full length, and he was panting like crazy, moving his hips frenetically like he was trying to fuck my mouth, my finger or both. Finally he blew a massive load in my mouth and I swallowed it all. I pulled my finger out of his ass and sat up, wondering if he'd kick my ass.
“Damn. That was fucking amazing. Wife won't blow me anymore, and when she does, she sure doesn't do it that well.” I smiled.
“I'm pissed,” he said. Uh oh. Here comes the anger. “All these years, especially in high school when I was horny as hell, and here you were with these hidden talents.” I smiled even bigger. Then he leaned over and kissed me. That really shocked me. I got out of his car and he drove home, and I told myself that his load had sobered me up enough to do the same. Luckily, I was right.
The funeral service was at the Baptist Church, and it contained a sermon about sin and thunder from on high. It would have been offensive if it weren’t ridiculous. I was there with my parents and the Schluters, which made me feel secure. I was still enveloped by my family, immune to the wrath of Fred Hayes and his shrew of a wife. After the hell and damnation sermon, we went to the cemetery for a graveside vignette. Jeff's brothers were the pallbearers, which was ironic since he hated all of them except Frank. It was somber and hypocritical, with the Hayes family pretending to be sad. Only Frank seemed to be crying real tears. He caught my eye from across the grave and winked at me.
I felt a presence next to me, close enough to bump my shoulder, and I turned to see Willie Jackson, tears rolling down his cheeks, staring at the casket as it was lowered into the grave. I put my arm around him affectionately, and he leaned into me.
The graveside service broke up and Willie and I walked away silently, heading toward my car. “It's good to see you Willie,” I said.
“Thanks JP. It's good to see you.” He paused. “I'm so sorry this happened. The last year must have been hell.”
“It was definitely challenging. How about you? How are you doing?” I needed to change the subject. I didn't want to relive the events of the past few months.
“I'm doing great. Tom's still teaching at Vanderbilt, and I'm going to med school. I'm gonna be an anesthesiologist.”
“That's fantastic. When are you heading home?”
He looked at me and shrugged. “I've got a flight out tomorrow.”
“Where are you staying?”
“I'm heading to Columbus. I figured I'd grab a hotel near the airport.”
“Nonsense,” I said. “You're staying with us.” We'd gotten to my car and I opened the door, almost forcing him in.
“You don't have to do that,” he said.
“I know, but I want to. It will be good to spend time with you, and you can tell me all about Tom.” The mention of Tom made him smile, which was really cool.
My parents went out of their way to make Willie feel at home, and Vella made a great dinner. We ended up, just the two of us, in the living room, drinking beer and bullshitting. It seemed like Willie and Tom were really in love and happy; I had learned the hard way that those didn't always go hand in hand.
Willie yawned so I led him back to the guest room. We got to the door and he looked into my eyes. “I'd really rather not be alone tonight.”
I smiled. “Me either.” I led him to my room instead, and we both shyly stripped naked by the bed. I giggled when he pulled off his underwear and his cock sprang up, hard as a rock. We met in the middle of the bed and Willie showed me how much he had evolved as a lover over the past five years.
I caught a flight back home the next night. The roller coaster ride had given me one last dip, but now it was over.
July 21, 1968
After my visit to Claremont, I'd gone through Jeff's room and sorted through his things that were still there. His diploma, his watch, all of his trophies, I loaded them all up in the Eldorado and had it shipped to Frank. He deserved it. He'd broken out of the East Side like Jeff was expected to.
Sam and I had been really really busy. The book had come back from the publisher, and we'd exchanged final drafts until it was finally done. “Why We Can't Win the War in Vietnam” by JP Crampton and Sam Carbone. Sam argued with me about getting joint author status, but I insisted. So here we were, finished with this labor of love, exhausted. We needed a getaway.
I got everything all packed up for both of us in the Corvette before Sam woke up. He was lying in bed so peacefully. What a hunk. I bent over his groin and inhaled his scent, exhaling on his plump cock. The airflow stimulated him, making him hard in no time. I swallowed him whole and heard him moan while still asleep. I worked him, wondering if he would wake up before he came. A gentle hand on my head, massaging my hair and encouraging me, told me that he did. Not long after that he shot his load. A nice breakfast, I thought to myself.
“Thanks. What a great way to get up,” he said, stretching.
“I have a surprise for you,” I said. “Get up. Time to shower.”
He looked at me, a question on his lips, but he shrugged, got up and got ready.
We drove over highway 84 and then down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. It wasn't a long drive in miles, but the road was curvy and mountainous, perfect for the Corvette. I had a blast, driving like a race car driver, but Sam was a little green by the time that we go there.
“So your surprise was to drive me to the beach to puke?” he asked. I giggled.
“No, my surprise was to take you to the beach to enjoy the view for a few days.” I found a small little inn on the coast and we got a cozy little room. It was perfect. We opened the windows, and with the cool sea breezes making the heat of summer disappear, we made love for the rest of the day.
We strolled through the quaint city, enjoying the culture that inherently pervades California beach towns. The ocean breeze, the laid back atmosphere, the sound of the waves on the beach, I felt the tension evaporate away. I could see the same thing in Sam. We walked past a real estate office with ads posted out front and paused to look. My eyes froze when I got to one listing. It was a ranch house on seven acres of land adjoining the coast just north of Santa Cruz. Zoned for horses, right on the coast, it was perfect.
Sometimes things happen for a reason. I'd just sold the Chicago condo so I was flush with cash. That made this property affordable. Our visit to the coast had shown me the healing power of the sea. By the end of the day, on a spur of the moment decision, I was the owner of a beach-front ranch.
The house itself was cute but outdated. I'd turn Isidore loose on it, but in the meantime, it was just fine. Three bedrooms and two baths, situated on a cliff with panoramic view of the Pacific. It was perfect. I called Isidore from the town since we wouldn't have a phone installed until later in the week. She packed up the kids and Betty and headed over to see our new real estate. The kids loved the beach, even though the house was crowded. They had a blast. Sam and I spent our days in the waves with the kids; Isidore spent her time planning to transform the house into a home, one that would work for us.
August 21, 1968
The Republican convention had come and gone, and Richard Nixon would be their candidate for President. I instinctively didn't like him, but I liked Humphrey even less. I'd poured money into the McCarthy campaign, even though I knew in my heart it was a losing battle. That, combined with the amazing success of our book, had secured me an invitation to the Democratic National Convention at the end of the month. I'd spent the whole morning trying to find a hotel room there.
Meanwhile, Sam and I had just finished a promotional tour for our book. I thought it would be fun, but I was wrong. It was exhausting. We spent a week going from city to city on the East coast, and then another week in the Midwest, and finished up with a stint on the West coast. The book made the best seller list, blowing our minds, and was making us a bunch of money. I split the profits with Sam, glad to see him with his own money. I used half of my money to expand and refurbish the beach house, and the other half I sent to Exode. They had become pretty effective, but it cost money to run an organization like that. I'd also carved some cash out for Deke since it had originally been his idea.
So here we were, off the road, enjoying a little quality time with the kids at the beach. Sam had taken them down to the shore while I pored over the newspaper. I sipped my coffee and gazed out at the powerful Pacific Ocean. If ever a body of water was misnamed, it was this one. I turned back to the paper. Sam teased me that I just read it to depress myself, and he may be right. Today certainly wasn't a happy day.
There had been some hope in the West that Czechoslovakia's reforms might bring about a lasting thaw in the cold war, at least between that country and NATO. Some even hypothesized that such reforms might even spread throughout the Warsaw Pact. That hope was dashed last night when 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 2000 tanks, most of which were Soviet, rolled into Czechoslovakia and easily took control. The “Prague Spring” was over and so were the reforms. Totalitarian Communism was restored.
I looked out the windows to see Sam playing with the kids. I kept looking for flaws in Sam, weaknesses that would destroy our relationship like Jeff's drug habit had ruined the one that he and I had, but I couldn't find anything. Sure he was quirky, and I probably teased him way too much. And sometimes his crass Italian background would collide with my more patrician upbringing, but these were minor things, little nitpicks that we worked around. I kept wondering if the stability and calm that he gave to our relationship would end, but it didn't. I found that the lack of conflict and excitement made things just a bit boring, but infinitely more happy.
I'd told the kids that Jeff had died, and they cried a little but moved on quickly. He'd been so unreliable for them, so inconsistent in his presence and attention that they'd gotten used to him not being there. When Sam and I got back from our book tour, Ace called him “papa,” the name they'd always used for Jeff, and the other kids followed suit. Sam was thrilled, and Isidore and I, after a few pangs, were too
I found myself smiling out at the beach and the ocean, a smile of pure happiness, and I put the poor Czechs out of my mind. I'd been through my own tragedies, and it was time to enjoy some, well, joy.
August 25, 1968
Chicago was chaotic, as you might expect with a convention in progress. There was absolutely no room at the Hilton, but I'd secured a junior suite at the Drake for Sam and me. McCarthy's people had gotten me a floor pass, and even though I wouldn’t be speaking, they had managed to give every delegate a copy of our book. My job was to be around to talk to people who may have questions about the war.
I took the opportunity of a lull in the activity to wander around outside. The tension was unbelievable, worse than in Paris this May. There were about 10,000 protesters in the city, while Mayor Daley had assembled a force of some 23,000 police and National Guardsmen to maintain order. It seemed excessive, it looked excessive, and it was excessive. I didn't wander far from the convention center, but I did meet Jerry Rubin, the Yippie activist, and Pigasus. Pigasus was the pig the Yippies had nominated for President and had become quite a celebrity. I got my picture taken with him. So far, things seemed pretty calm and orderly.
August 28, 1968
The convention had been a total sham. McCarthy had squared off against Humphrey, even though Humphrey hadn't run in a single primary. Humphrey was just Johnson with a different accent, but he had the party honchos behind him. They maneuvered and schemed, and in the end the party chose Humphrey. It was a travesty that he was nominated. Fully 80% of primary voters had cast their votes for anti-war candidates, yet these party hacks had seized control and handed the nomination to a pro-war Humphrey. I found myself considering a vote for Nixon, scary as that seemed.
I was so disgusted that I just left the convention hall. Sam stuck with me the whole time. Sam had an air of masculinity that was as strong as it was intoxicating, but the downside of that was that he sometimes let his anger and rage get ahead of him. I thought about the animalistic and primal sex we had, and decided that it was worth the trade off. We grabbed a cab downtown. The cab got totally stopped in traffic around Grant Park, where a large crowd had gathered. Exasperated, I paid the cabbie and got out to walk. We'd just have to trudge up Michigan Avenue or take the El.
The park had become ground zero for the protesters. We walked through the groups, and even got high with a few yippies who struck up a conversation with us. We certainly didn't look like the typical protesters in our suits, still spiffed up from being at the convention. A few people asked us who we were, and after they found out we'd authored the book on Vietnam, we gained immediate celebrity status. We were hanging around chatting with a crowd when a commotion attracted our attention. My audience headed over there at top speed, we approached more cautiously.
There was a boy, just a mere boy, who was hauling down an American Flag. This gesture aroused the police, and they moved in with batons to beat the poor kid. What was this? He was just a boy! I thought back to the scenes in that village in Vietnam, where women and children had been slaughtered, and wondered if soon we'd kill our own children here. It seemed like one minute it was a peaceful gathering, and the next it had turned into a riot. Only it wasn't the protesters rioting, it was the police.
They looked like machines with their riot gear and gas masks. Canisters of tear gas arrived as I noticed this and I felt the stinging in my eyes and fled like everyone else. Tom Hayden, one of the protest leaders, got on his megaphone and told the protesters to head for the city itself, that way if they gassed us they'd end up gassing regular citizens too. We fled as fast as we could, most of the protesters heading west, while Sam and I headed north. A group of cops came upon us and saw our suits. They must have figured that we were either organizers, or big wigs, so instead of beating us they sprayed us with mace. I fell to the ground in pain, the mace searing through my eyes, stinging like the tear gas hadn't come close to doing.
The police swarmed past us while we writhed on the ground, a few of them taking a second to kick us. I'd have some bruises to be sure. But in the end, we were relatively unhurt. The police had formed a line and marched ahead, chanting “kill, kill, kill.” It was chilling. The only equivalent I could think of was a group of SS troops marching in Nazi Germany.
We got back to the hotel and took a shower, trying to eradicate the mace and tear gas from our bodies. We were too upset for any extracurricular activity in the shower. The television showed the same things we had seen, plus the confrontation with the police in front of the Hilton Hotel. It was rumored that so much tear gas was used it had irritated Johnson's eyes at his suite at the Hilton Hotel.
I looked at Sam. “This is bullshit. I'm out of here. I can't support this party, not with this kind of corruption and cruelty.” We packed our bags and headed for O'Hare. It seemed that no matter what we did, no matter how many people lashed out at this war, the government was not going to change its course. Maybe we should give Nixon a chance. It couldn't be any worse, could it?