By Portia Bennett
Introduction: What is discovery? Perhaps it’s finding something that you didn’t know existed. Maybe it’s finding a hidden treasure. Maybe it’s finding out something about yourself that many were aware of but you just didn’t know it.
Manfred Argerich grew up with a single mother. They had a great life, and as it would turn out his uncle helped his mother out quite a bit. There was a lot that Manfred didn’t really pick up on for quite a while. They never wanted for anything. Steve Chavez was Manny’s roommate at Humboldt State University for four years. Now the adventure was about to begin. Each was about to venture out into the cold, cruel world to conquer the unconquerable. Steve was joining Greenpeace to conquer the environmentally evil industrial world. Manny had a little less adventurous goal. He was going to work at a winery in central Arkansas. Each had something to discover.
This work is copyrighted by the author and any publication or distribution without the written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is coincidental.
“Well, Manny, I guess this is it. You know, it’s been a great four years,” Steve Chavez said as he zipped his garment bag.
“It certainly has, Stevie,” Manny, Manfred, Argerich answered. “We made it. We didn’t set the academic world on fire, but we made it.
“I have to ask again. You are going to work for Greenpeace. It’s not just a joke?”
“It’s no joke. I told you that last year,” Steve replied. “You know how I feel about the environment. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer; however, I think I can make a difference. I know there’s no money in it, but right now that doesn’t matter. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit the lottery or a rich uncle will pass away leaving his fortune to me.
“I don’t think that’s much crazier than your going to work for that winery.”
They were an interesting pair. Steve, actually Stefan, Chavez, pronounced CHA-vess, was as Anglo in appearance as they came. He was about 6’ 2”, athletic, and looked like he might have been born in northern Europe. His appearance wasn’t that unusual as most of his relatives were European. He’d been born in Buenas Aires; however, his parents had moved to the US when he was less than a year old.
The same could be said for Manfred. His mother was a fair skinned woman of Norwegian heritage from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’d been to Santiago, Chile on a church mission. She met Alfredo Argerich and the hormones took over. They married a month later and little Manfred made his appearance about a year after that. By that time his mother had fled to North America and divorced his abusive, chauvinistic, hyper-jealous father. Fortunately, someone put a bullet between his father’s eyes before he could act on his threats. The word had been that he was coming to North America to ‘take care’ of his mother like any self-respecting man would.
Manfred favored his mother in many ways. His hair was almost blond and his skin was fair. He was about 5’ 10” and might have weighed 145 pounds soaking wet.
His mother hadn’t made it to the graduation ceremony. She was in ill health, and didn’t feel up to making the trip from San Antonio. Manny wouldn’t have even attended the graduation ceremony but for the fact Steve asked him to. Steve’s parents were there and it probably would be a long time before they ever saw Steve’s best friend again.
“Speaking of crazy, I can’t believe you traded in your car for that Harley.”
“I have what I need. I’m going to take a road trip. Go to a few places I’ve never been to before. I have an uncle up in North Dakota that I want to visit. I’d like to spend some time with him before I head south to see Mom. Then it’s off to central Arkansas and the winery.”
“Shit, I can’t believe they actually have wineries in Arkansas. I thought the only thing they were good for there was moonshine.”
“Their wine’s okay. It’s not up to California standards by a long shot. I’m going to have a bunch of jobs with them, mostly on the agricultural side of things. I want to learn more about making wine. I might try moving to the wine area in Texas, or come back to central California. I like the climate out here. Then I’d be closer to you.”
“Hell, I’ll probably be all over the world with Greenpeace.”
They spent the next hour loading their belongings before bidding farewell to Humboldt State, their academic home for the last four years. Manny had purchased a small trailer to go with his Harley, and it would carry everything he needed for his journey.
The Harley had been one of those spur of the moment things. He’d been thinking about trading in his 10 year-old Taurus for a newer model ‘previously’ owned car. He’d stopped at a local dealer to see what might be available. There wasn’t anything available that suited his needs. Then he spotted the Harley lined up with several other Harleys and other motor cycles.
“Tell me about that Harley,” Manny said while pointing to the first one in the row.”
“That’s an interesting one,” the salesman said. “A fellow decided he wanted a motorcycle, and that’s the top of the line Rushmore model. I mean it has bells and whistles that I haven’t even found yet. He said he knew how to drive a motorcycle. Foolishly, I let him drive it. I let him drive it around the lot before letting him drive it around the block. Well, he made it only to that light. A high school kid turned left in front of him. The guy laid the bike down. Needless to say he didn’t want it. It’s got a few scrapes, but it’s all cosmetic. I’ll sell it to you at cost, and I’ll even replace that front cowling.
“What ya say? I’ll let you test drive it if you like; that is if you can operate one.”
“I grew up with them in Texas. I was riding on a dirt bike when I was 10,” Manny replied.
Manny never expected the financing to go through as quickly as it did, but four days later he was the proud owner of a new but slightly damaged Harley-Davidson. It had 23 actual miles on it. The dealer even found a used trailer that was in a matching maroon. He added a hundred bucks to the sales price.
"Well, I still can’t believe you bought it,” Steve said as he inspected the only slightly damaged vehicle. It was almost if each was delaying saying goodbye to the other. “So, for your first road trip you’re going all the way to North Dakota. I hear the only thing separating it from Canada is a barbed wire fence, and it blew down.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard it all. It’s not really that bad. I’m going to visit my Uncle for a few days. I haven’t seen him since I was about ten. He owns several thousand acres. Some of it’s agricultural and some of it’s wild. He’s got a bunch of those pothole lakes and ponds. He’s also leased a bunch of land to the US Government. There are several missile sites. There’s even one of those launch facilities where those guys hole up. I guess that’s where they push the button.”
“God, I hate that shit,” Steve answered. “But with those crazies in Russia and Iran, I guess we don’t have any choice. At least we’ve never had to launch one.”
“If we did, it would probably be bend over, grab your ankles and kiss your ass goodbye. My political science professor said there would probably never be a limited nuclear war unless it was a jointly sponsored or approved attack on North Korea. The guy was pretty antiwar, and he was a retired Air Force Colonel. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail. Of course, some of those guys running for president sound as if they’d just as soon nuke ‘em until they glowed. Of course, we’d all probably be glowing, and those that survived would go back to living in caves. Maybe that would be better. I sure hope we never come to that point.
“Well, let me know what’s going on. I’ll be in Arkansas in about two weeks, looking for a place to live in. I dread to think what I may have to resort to. The folks at the winery said there were a number of options available.
“Well, I guess this is it,” Manny said while giving his roomie a hug. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”
“Yep, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
“I gotta roll. I want to be in Grants Pass before dark, and it’s mountains all the way.”
Steve watched as Manny donned his helmet; his long pony tail hanging out and over his collar. A push of the button and he was off to join up with US 101 before heading east on California 199 out of Crescent City.
Shaking his head, Steve got in his car to head south. He’d stay with his folks for a few days before joining up with his new employer. He certainly wasn’t going to be getting rich.
Each is going off on their little adventures. It will be quite a while before they run into each other again, and they definitely will. Some things will have changed. Other things never will.
The core of this story is based on a late 19th century play and an early 20th century opera. The trouble with operas is that often there is a lot of background information that has to be explained in the libretto. In this case it will take seven chapters to set the background for the portion that follows, the opera. Because this story takes place in the 21st century rather than the 19th century some changes were necessary. If you think you know what the story is, give me a PM. I don’t think it will be obvious until Chapter 8.
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