Chapter 7

Tim Duncan stormed through the hotel, trying to find the secret smoke filled room where the fate of his territorymen was being taken apart like a piece of string cheese in the hand of a seven year old who wants to see just how finely he can defiber it. But we will leave him behind, while we instead focused on the red-bottomed Mike Gravel, who is now staggering for other reasons. For the first time ever, he had been invited to a political event, and he was glad, because there might be free food. And also, clicky pens. Even though he didn't really like writing too much, he liked the click-click-click of a clicky pen, but right now, he needed some food, if only a plate of triscuits.

The triscuit crumbs entered his beard, joining other crumbs. He wondered briefly, as many have before, why they are called triscuits, when they are obviously NOT triangle shaped.

He got up, trying to find a podium to stand on, but could only find a folding chair. He was about to launch into an epic speech, where his rhetorical powers would tie together, in a poetic yet lucid fashion, the inner struggles of the past generations of Americans with his platform for changing the world. The crowd waited expectantly, which means one person looked up at Mike, and was afraid of the flimsy chair skidding out underneath him. But just as he was gathering together his breath to making his epochal speech, he glanced across the hotel lobby and saw the site he was seeing of.

He ran across the lobby, where dozens of delegates and hangers on milled, aware of the chaos swirling around him. He didn't see them, all he saw was

MICHELLE” Mike Gravel yelled, seeing his long-lost childhood companion, standing forlornly in a pantsuit. The romantic girl who had dressed in flowing white gossamer robes, even in the middle of Inuvik's endless winters, was replaced by a more hard bitten, worldly woman, who had seen too many victories that were not wholly in vain, but were still pretty sucky. But when Mike fixed his eyes on her, and her on him, the years faded away, and they were once again listening to The Loving Spoonful on a transistor radio behind the general store, on a balmy March day. But while innocent as a dove, he was still as wary as a serpent, and all his life lessons were still there. He wanted to tell her.

And so, at this late confusing hour, Mike finally told Michelle all she needed to know. Since that CAPS is annoying, I will sum it up: Mike told Michelle all the things that men believed that if they could phrase correctly, would immediately communicate the limpid depths of their soul to women, giving them strategic transcendence, and allowing some confusing combination of hyphens, together with the word “self” and “other”, shaken up and stirred and then slowly congealed into something sensical, like the sauce of a remaindered box of Hamburger Helper after it has been sitting in the fridge all night, to basically give a new reality to their Relationship, and yes, Mike was man enough to capitalize that word, even if he didn't capitalize all words, all the time, all the way through. To wit: Mike told Michelle that he believed that each of us was born into an ephemeral yet glaring state where the reality of all around us so illuminated us, that we forgot what it was, and out of that forgetfulness, came all the difficulties we put on ourselves and on others, and that if a single person could remind us for just a moment of how great our forgotten heritage was, it would inspire us all to live as better people, for ourselves and others, and that every movement and sigh of Michelle made Mike remember what he wanted to be. And as he explained all of this to Michelle, the years slipped away, and cynicism went to use the rest room, and they both remembered what it was like, to be in the town square, looking up at the stars in June.

Mike Gravel to the Edge of Panic: Chapter 6

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