By Jim Ganley

Jack met Biff McAllister for the first time in the YMCA weight roomduring the summer of 1968. Biff was in town on leave from a tour in VietNam with the Marines, and at that time was masquerading as a 'good old boy'from the South, one of several disguises he would successfully employ inthe years to come.

Weighing about 220 lbs. at just over six feet tall, Biff had apowerfully hulking appearance that made the other lifters at the 'Y' wonderabout the type of workouts he had been following to become so scarylooking. With heavily muscled shoulders and club-like arms, Biff's closely cropped, sandy colored hair gave him anappearance similar to that of a grapefruit mounted atop a refrigerator.Most thought that Biff McAllister appeared incredibly fir for someone whohad just returned from the thick of jungle warfare. True, there may havebeen no visible scars of combat on Biff's 'Mr. America' physique, butunknown to anyone at that time, there were many buried deeply within histroubled mind.

"Y'all been down to that Derryfield Hotel?" Biff inquired of Jack andthe others with whom he was training, Bob Talbot and Frank Frickland. Biffwas referring to the now defunct Derryfield Hotel and Lounge that waslocated over on Concord St., two blocks away from the 'Y'. "That place is agoddamn WHORE house!"

Because none of the weight room crew had ever seen Biff before, andbecause none of them were old enough to have been admitted to the notoriousnight club, they listened in awe as he elaborated.

"I went there last night to put away a few cold ones, when this lewdwoman came up and GRABBED MY HOG! She says to me, she says, 'Come with me,stud,' an' I wound up PERFORMIN' on her ALL NIGHT LONG! .......FUCK ME!!"

Neither Jack Benson nor his two friends were accustomed to this sortof talk and, consequently, they were all a little apprehensive. Thisstranger to the weight room seemed to be some kind of maniac.

"Now that lewd lady had a boyfriend," Biff continued, "One o' themthere greasy motorcycle fellas, an' at 'bout six in the mornin' he startsbangin' on the door to her hotel room, askin' who's with his old lady. Igets all pissed off, and says, 'C'mon, stud.......I mean, gimme a break an'let me git my rocks off 'cuz yo old lady's blowin' me, you product ofincest!' But just then he knocks down the door an' hits me over my headwith a pool cue, so I had to kick ass on the cretin! I got me some beaucoupgood rock 'n roll last night......Sheeit!"

Then Biff grabbed the 205 lb. barbell resting there on the floorbefore him and did repetition clean and presses. From the noises he wasmaking it was impossible to tell whether he was coming or going.

Bob Talbot, in addition to having been a state champion high schoolgymnast, was also the strongest lifter at the 'Y'. On that particularafternoon he was doing curls with a pair of 65 lb. dumbbells, showing offas he had a habit of doing. You can imagine his surprise when Biff camealong side of him and began curling with the 75s.

"Say, Bobby, is this here a good exercise for buildin' arms?" Biffcackled, hoisting the weights with ease.

Bob put down those 65 lb. dumbbells and just listened as Biff went offon a monologue.

"I'm so sick and tired of bein' over there in the crotch with a bunchof pussy lieutenants tellin' us what to do. You guys and me could reallykick some ass on them gooks!"

Biff was attempting to explain the frustration that affected most ofthe combat troops who had served in Viet Nam. In many ways frustration waswhat the Viet Nam war was all about, the frustration of feeling as thoughyou were little more than a pawn in a game of geopolitical chess where youand everyone of your buddies were losers, the frustration of having nocontrol over your life, the frustration of not knowing whether or not youwould be coming home in one piece or, for that matter, if you would becoming home at all. Frustration and fear were emotions that could drive youcrazy, but you had to learn to live with them in order to survive.

The war had been an exercise in frustration if nothing else. Mostdistressing of all was the apparent lack of a coherent game plan. When theViet Nam veterans returned to the States, it wasn't as heroes to parades,marching bands, and accolades from the American public. Rather, they camehome alone, broken, and without fanfare. No sooner had they arrivedStateside than they were hit from both sides. They were condemned by theintellectuals of The New Left for aiding and abetting the war machine. Theytook even more criticism for the rednecks on the Right for not having wonthe war, a misfortune totally beyond their control, the result of amilitary strategy conceived and orchestrated by politicians, specialinterest groups, and multinational corporations. Those in power had sentthe poor, uneducated, and disinherited on their behalf to defend theinterests of American business. Anyone with enough money or influence wasable to avoid the military, combat, and the pervasive frustration.

On that balmy afternoon at the 'Y' in the summer of '68, Biff was inhis glory, lecturing before a receptive audience.

"I'm goin' back there to Nam," he declared to one and all, " I signedon fo' one more tour! Force Recon all the way! Me an' my boys gonna drivethose yellow zipperheads clear up that Ho Chi Minh trail and into China!Then I'll be comin' back home, my friends, an' we'll start a squad oflifters.......searchin' out an' destroyin' all those pukes, pussies,faggots, and drug ridden creatures! Rest assured I'm not jivin' you, myfriends!"

Before he left the weight room, Biff shook hands with everyone there,swearing an allegiance as he did so. "For God and Country.......Semper fidelis.......Always faithful, myfriends!"

Then he sprinted up the stairs and out of the weight room, on his wayback to Viet Nam.

It would be at least six months before anyone at the 'Y' would see Biffagain. Some time in February of '69 Jack was in the weight room finishing abrutally difficult set of bench presses when he became distracted by Biff'sstentorian voice urging him on. "C'mon, my friend! One more rep! Ram that cocksucker!"

After Jack had finished the set and racked the weight, he had anopportunity to speak to Biff.

"Hey, how are ya? Didn't you work out here last summer?"

As if zapped by 250 volts of electricity, Biff jerked himself toattention and began shouting to everyone present.

"Hell, yeah! This man remembers! He remembers me before I took mysecond tour in the crotch and got my head all fucked up!"

"I'm sorry," Jack interjected, chalking his hands in preparation forhis next set of bench presses, "but I don't think I ever got your name."

Biff grew more calm and looked toward Jack. " can call meBiff. Biff McAllister's my name."

"Jack Benson's mine......Nice to see that you made it back in onepiece."

Jack's comment seemed to reagitate Biff to the extent that he appearedto be teetering on the brink of a psychotic break as he once more shoutedto the rafters.

"Come back in ONE PIECE, you say? My old man was prayin' for me to becomin' home in a plastic bag!"

Then Biff began babbling incoherently and laughing uncontrollably ashe went on to relate some of the goriest combat stories that Jack and theothers had ever heard.

"......An' when we found the rest of my group.......they were 7 clicksdown the Mekong River from where we'd last seen 'em, an'....Ha! Ha!Hee-hee!.....They had.....They were in the deep jungle tied to treeswith.....Haw! Haw!......They had their dicks an' nuts cut off an' jammeddown their goddamn throats!" Biff stopped and weeped softly for a bitbefore continuing.

"When my men and I caught up to the slopes who'd done this to 'em, Iturned them slant eyed cocksuckers over to some o' my Black buddies an'washed my hands o' further responsibility the way Pontius Pilate did withold J.C............I'll tell ya, my friend.....I was able to hear thosegooks screamin' from a mighty long way off almost until the sun came up."

Jack was in shock and didn't have very much to say at all.


But Biff persisted with the shocking revelations which bore noresemblance whatsoever to what had been broadcast on the CBS Evening News.He had been the first Viet Nam War veteran with whom Jack had spoken andwas telling a tale far different from what the American public had come tobelieve about the war. Jack was thankful for his own student deferment.

"North Vietnamese Regulars surrounded my unit....." Biff explainedbetween gasps of labored breathing attributable to severe emotional stress,"an' a Chi-Com grenade took out three o' my tightest buddies while beaucoupAK-47 rounds and mortar shells took out the rest! A fuckin' Soviet rocketor some other kind o' weapon that packed a wallop exploded directly over myhead an' put me out to lunch.......I still don't hear right from that one!That was one fuckin', rock 'n rollin' firefight, my friend!"

When Jack mentioned that he had not known that the North Vietnamesehad sent troops into South Viet Nam, Biff very authoritatively set therecord straight.

"North Vietnamese?!" he howled, " I've seen goddamn Chinese troopstakin' turns ballin' N.V.A. nurses! You folks don't her that stuff backStateside, but I swear it's goin' on! Worst of all, we have these wetbehind the ears lieutenants fresh outta Quantico sending us into V.C.ambushes at least twice a month! I'll tell ya,, just betweenme and you....."

Biff glanced furtively from side to side as if to ascertain that no oneelse was listening.

"I personally fragged one o' those cunt lieutenants by heavin' agrenade into his tent."

"Yeah," Jack replied, agreeing out of fear, "setting you up for anambush is unforgivable."

Without batting an eye Biff revealed his motive.

"Fuck the ambushes! That's part of combat! I did in that turkey forturnin' in me an' some o' my boys fo' smokin' dope! Now that's what I callunforgivable!"

Biff McAllister, as Jack was discovering, was a master ofcontradiction. First he would declare war on all "dope ridden, potsmokers", the next minute, he would be rolling himself a cigar-sized jointof Colombian gold. Jack was also to learn that drugs were not the only issue on which McAllister's ideas were capable of fluctuating.

Looking concerned, Jack shook his head and asked, "You smoke marijuana,Biff? Isn't it addicting?"

"Fuck, no," snarled Biff, "We all smoked weed over there in the crotch!Plenty guys were droppin' acid an' shootin' smack too! I like grass.....itsort of mellows you out, an' helps take your mind off of all the killin'goin' on all around you. But when the shit hits the fan an' you find yourself in a fire fight, my'll sober up really quick because you an' your buddies' lives are on the line. Y'know what I'msayin', Jack?"

With the completion of this last soliloquy, Biff picked up an empty Olympic bar and mimicked firing an M-16 carbine as he went into convulsionsof hysterical laughter.

"I've blown beaucoup Js......beaucoup times! Many times have I inhaledthe fumes of the burning hemp plant! Hey, Jack, my friend......if you want,I can get you some of the good stuff! I mean real ass kickin' reefer, too!"

Jack put down the 60 lb dumbbells he had been using for inclinepresses and explained, self righteously, "No,thanks. I'm not into drugs."> Then Biff seemed to turn bitter.

"Neither was I, but it helps calm my nerves. Y'know, Jack.......noone ever asks about what good I did over there. They only want to know howmany men I've killed."

Five years older than Jack, twenty four year old Biff McAllister haddone it all, or so it seemed to so an impressionable a teenager as JackBenson. Biff's stories were absolutely outrageous. Sent away to VirginiaMilitary Institute Prep School at age fourteen, he had been a standout athlete in track, football, baseball, and boxing. After having enlisted inthe Marine Corps, he was assigned to Force Recon and been trained in underwater demolition......dropped out of planes and released off enemy shoresfrom submarines. He had travelled all over the world from the Mediterraneanto Southeast Asia, and had led the kind of life that was usually relegatedto action/adventure movies.

In time Jack learned the full story behind this disturbed thoughlikable character from, of all sources, his father. The way Jack's dadexplained it..... Biff, born Bernard Alloysius McAllister III, had beentrouble to his parents from an early age. Mr. Benson had worked with Biff'sfather at The Travelers Insurance Company, and had often listened patientlyto the elder McAllister's domestic travails.

The most egregious incident took place in February of 1965 while Biff'sparents had gone away on vacation to Florida and left him home alone inremote Deering, New Hampshire. Despite the fact that he had been forbiddento use the family car, Biff had taken it and driven to Manchester where hehad gotten drunk, picked up a middle aged bar fly and, while trying tonegotiate a curve in the road, had cracked up his father's new Oldsmobilejust a stone's throw from the family homestead. As luck would have it, Mr.& Mrs. McAllister arrived home earlier than expected the next morning, andfound what was left of their new car wrapped around a nearby oak tree.Worse still, they went into the house and caught young Biff in bed with theolder woman. Trouble with a capital T.

Mr. McAllister gave Biff two choices: Go to jail, or join the Marines.Biff had chosen the latter, fortuitiously enough, just as the Viet Nam Warwas heating up. After Biff's second tour in combat had been completed, hewas snatched from the midst of the jungles and rice paddies and flown backto the relative calm and quiet of New Hampshire where he was expected tolive and behave as a normal, civilized person. Biff's transition tocivilian life was a rough one, however. It was an urban legend aroundManchester that a bus had backfired on Elm Street and Biff reacted bydiving head first through a store front window. He was that excitable.

There were other exacerbating problems as well. For starters, hisfather wouldn't let him back in the house for more than a brief visit,complaining that his hope was for Biff to have died in action. Next, hisfiancee, whom he had proposed to between tours, had broken off theirengagement and taken up with a dashing Marine lieutenant. Biff had taken ajob with a collection agency in Manchester, but had been fired because ofhis tendency to lose his temper with clients who had failed to make theirscheduled payments. The last straw here was when he threw a client out ofthe office and down the stairs; not good for business. For a time Biff hadbeen placed for observation in the Veteran's Administration PsychiatricHospital in Bedford, Massachusetts.

All of the above incidents had served to harden Biff in his resolve to break out of the rut into which he had fallen. Biff McAllister, the 24 year old ex-marine grunt who had stalked the dangerous terrain of Viet Nam,would soon carry his personal vendetta against society's enemies into thebars, back alleys, and parking lots of Manchester, New Hampshire. Not a week went by when he wasn't involved in at least four of five fist fights. On occasions too numerous to mention he was observed beating gangs of bikers into submission and, as a result of his fighting expertise, soon became a cult hero throughout the Manchester area.

By the autumn of 1969 Biff had enrolled as a freshman at St. AnselmCollege with plans to study political science. Having been wounded in combat, he was receiving a substantial stipend from the government as wellas having the major portion of his tuition, books, etc. covered by the G.I.Bill. For extra cash and to carry on his one man battle against the forcesof social decadence, he worked as a bouncer in nearly all of the local barsat one time or another.

It was a Thursday night at 10 o'clock in August of 1971 when Biffbarged into The Zodiac Room. Two years of college had changed Biff, or atleast that's what he wanted people to believe. He was now wearing hornrimmed glasses and smoking a pipe. Absent was the Southern drawl andcontinual talk about the atrocities of war. He appeared to have anintellectual air about him, at this point speaking with an affected Harvardaccent, discussing the existential philosophers and classical composers. Biff explained that he had just completed a summer internship working outof Congressman Louis C. Wyman's Washington office. The strategy here was toget some practical experience with the political process and ultimately gointo law and politics.

On that particular night at The Zodiac, however, Biff was in no mood to discuss philosophy or classical music.

"Where's the lewd women, my friend?" he said, flashing a sinister grinas he surveyed the immediate area.

When Jack volunteered that he hadn't gotten so much as a phone number,much less connected physically with any hot women, Biff dispensed a fewpointers.

"C'mon, Jack! You, my friend, are the bouncer! You're a good looking guy with an education, so you should be making out like a bandit in here!"

But Jack was skeptical.

"Yeah, Biff?"

Biff leaned up against the juke box, lit his pipe, and then adjustedhis glasses.

"I'll tell ya, Jack.......This is how it is. Y'see, a woman wants to feel protected. More importantly she also wants to have a male companionwho possesses a sharp intellect and keen sense of humor. It helps if youcan discuss cultural pursuits, but it's imperative that you know how todance well. Permit me to demonstrate."

At that moment Biff reached out and buttonholed a buxom brunette on her way back from the ladies' room. Her name was Rhonda. Biff put his arm around her, dropped down on one knee, and began the most outrageous soliloquy that Jack had ever heard.

"By the gods!" Biff shouted, at this point cradling her face in hishands and staring longingly into her eyes, "Is this the face that launched a thousand ships? Fair Helen, grant me thy ultimate favor and permit me tobask in the radiance of your sensuous smile!"

But Rhonda just giggled nervously and smiled at him. She claimed tohave no idea what Biff was talking about. Then she asked if he wanted todance.

Faster than you could say Fred Astaire, Biff whisked her out onto thedance floor and began twitching and wildly flailing away in ersatz rhythmto the house band's version of Walk Away. This was nothing new to Jack.Biff had made this dance up and termed it 'devil dancin', a series offunky, wild, intricate gyrations performed with orgiastic abandon. Crossinghis eyes and rapidly maneuvering all over the dance floor, it appeared asif electricity were running through his body. By the time the song wasover, Biff was rolling around on the floor like a fish out of water. Themost amazing thing of all about this production was the fact that Biff wascompletely sober. Rhonda, by now embarrassed by all of the attention he wasattracting, stepped aside to watch him perform his one man show.

As she and Biff came off of the dance floor, she was grabing hismassive arms as she commented loudly to him, "Oh, Biff......You're so bigand strong! What a hunk you are!"

Biff walked with her over to Jack's post near the door. He took herhand, kissed it, and said to her, "You're a very special person, Rhonda.Do you think I could have the honored privilege of manipulating yourclitoris?"

Rhonda giggled once more and again claimed that she had no idea what hehad meant by that statement. A moment later she and Biff walked out thedoor, arm in arm. And as the two of them pased through the exit, Biffturned around and gave Jack the 'thumbs up' sign. Jack Benson had just beengiven his first lesson in how to score with women.

The very next day he received a phone call at home and Biff was on theother end of the line.

"Yes, Jack......It was a superb evening, my friend! I performed intothe wee small hours of the morning!"

Jack wasn't too impressed. "Biff, you mean to tell me that youactually got laid using that cornball approach?"

"Cornball approach?" Biff replied, sounding provoked, "I'll have youknow I had a very lewd confrontation, my friend! I got reamed, steamed, anddrycleaned!"

He went on to explain that since having moved back to Manchester fromhis summer job in the nation's capital, he had found an apartment locatedon the fourth floor over Caesar's Pizza on the corner of Bridge and ElmStreets. He and Rhonda were planning to drive up to the White Mountains onSunday morning for a picnic and that Jack should get a date so that theycould double. Jack, however, was unsure of his ability to get a date onsuch short notice.> "I dunno, Biff," Jack murmurred into the telephone, "I don't thinkI'll be able to get a date so soon."

But Biff would have none of Jack's excuses.

"Gimme a fuckin' break, Jack! You saw how I operated last night! Youcan do the same! Guys like you and I are different from those turkeys whohang out at The Zodiac Room! With all you have goin' for you.......Christ!You should be getting your hog flogged by beautiful women every night! Getout there and grab for the gusto! You must perform, my friend! Your day iscomin', and you had better know what to do!"

That night at work at The Zodiac Room Jack was thinking over what Biffhad done the night before, as well as what he'd had to say to Jack duringtheir telephone conversation. Biff's ideas made sense, but Jack was so shythat he couldn't envision himself putting on a masterful performance asthis older, more experienced friend of his had done.

Jack was attracted to a young woman named Marylou Morton who used tofrequent The Zodiac. His plan was to ask her to double date with Biff andRhonda on Sunday, but by the time Marylou arrived at The Zodiac Room he wasa bundle of nerves. Having recalled Biff's line about Helen and thethousand ships, Jack was planning to make up an original line of his own,but was so strung out from nervousness that he was capable of little morethan mumbling a curt hello to her.

Marylou just smiled seductively and walked on by to her table. Jack,not yet about to let her get away, called out to her.> "Oh, uh.....Marylou! I, uh.....was wondering if you'd like to go on adouble date to the mountains this Sunday."

Marylou turned to face him, smiled, and said, "Why, I'd love to, Jack!"

This had gone far easier and turned out far better than Jack hadanticipated. He told her to meet him at Biff's apartment at 8:30 on Sundaymorning.

Proud of his achievement, Jack mentioned it to some of his liftingbuddies from the 'Y' occupying a table near the door. One of these guys,Ron Dupa, expressed an interest in tagging along on Sunday if he could geta date of his own. Ron was an unusual guy. Only 19 years old, he had beenusing false identificaion to sneak into the nightclubs and bars for thelast two years. Sporting a long, flowing, blond 'shag' haircut, his tastein clothing ran toward the bizarre. Ron's typical attire for a night on thetown consisted of a tailored, form-fitting turtleneck jersey to display hismuscular torso, blue velvet hot pants with red, white, and blue suspenders,white bucks with red knee socks, and some sort of shoulder bag resembling awoman's purse. Known to his friends as 'The Wizard', Ron Dupa's personallife was shrouded in mystery.

The Wizard never worked, yet he always seemed to have enough money todress expensively and carouse every night. This is the prime reason why hewas continually surrounded by rumor and controversy. There were storiesbandied about that Ron Dupa was an eccentric millionaire. Some swore up anddown that he was a gay prostitute or narc. Whether or not these rumors weretrue, Ron loved being in the limelight of controversy and did nothing todispell them.

Not ten minutes later, he walked up to Jack and mentioned that he'dlined up a date for Sunday with Patti Holmes, one of The Zodiac'swaitresses. Attracted to Patti's wholesome good looks, Ron was all smilesas he boogeyed on out the door singing to himself like Billie Holliday.Even without the wild rumors and hearsay stories, most found Ron to besomewhat eccentric because he always seemed to have been bopping around,snapping his fingers, and singing to himself. Biff explained suchflamboyant behavior as attributable to cheap dental work. For, as he statedmore than once, "The man's mouth is full of cheap fillings that act like aradio receiver! That's why he hears music that no one else can hear."

Sunday morning was no exception. Last one to Biff's, Ron announced hisarrival by performing a song and dance routine down the hallway leading toBiff's apartment. He was singing Boogaloo Down Broadway , and sounded justlike The Fantastic Johnny C., who had originally done the song back in the'60s. Ron's musical productions were so involved that he most assuredly hadpracticed them for hours. Patti, Marylou, and Rhonda were impressed bythese theatrics, but both Jack and Biff had witnessed so many of hisproductions that they merely seemed irritated and wanted to leave for themountains as soon as possible.

Biff's car was in rough shape. A faded, metallic blue, '65 FordCustom with a six cylinder engine, most of the time it started;occasionally it didn't. Though of the times when it didn't start, most ofthose were because Biff had run out of gas. After a fill-up at a nearbyservice station, the three couples headed up Route 93 North and settleddown for the hour and a half trip to New Hampshire's North Country. Therural scenery that brilliant August day was inspiring. Though from Jack'sperspective the view within the vehicle was far more stimulating. Sittingin the back seat beside Marylou proved to be a real eye opener for him. Shewas wearing bright yellow hot pants that appeared to have been painted on,while her beautiful breasts were straining the fabric and nearly burstingthrough her satin, low-cut, tight-fitting blouse. Jack wondered if she wasuncomfortable.

In an attempt to hide his nervousness, he tried to start aconversation.

"So, uh.....whaddya do for work, Marylou?"

Marylou finished applying a coat of pale colored lipstick to her fulllips before answering.

"I work at American Electronics in Bedford," She explained.> Jack, unable to take his eyes off her chest, mumbled, "Yeah? I workthe door at The Zodiac Room."

"I know," Marylou replied drolly, giving him a puzzled look.

Meanwhile Biff was gazing into the rearview mirror trying to signalhim to shut up.

Next, Jack reached out and tried to hold her hand, but noticed that shewas wearing a diamond ring and wedding band.

"Hey," he blurted out in surprise, "are you MARRIED?"

Biff mumbled something unintelligible and shook his head from side to side as Marylou explained that she'd been married for the past three years.Then she pried her hand out of Jack's grasp and whispered, "You aren'texpecting sex, are you? I agreed to go with you because you seemed likesuch a nice guy. You're not gonna try to take advantage of me now, areyou?"

More surprised than he was hurt, Jack just said, "No, uh....Imean......I thought that.......oh, never mind."

He spent the rest of that ride to the mountains wondering how Biff wouldhave handled this situation. Biff, he concluded, would probably haveinitiated a discussion on the sanctity of matrimony and likened the bondbetween husband and wife to that between Christ and the Church. And as hewas telling her this, he would have been deftly unfastening her bra. Thatwas Biff. Jack Benson, at this point in our story, lacked the nerve for sobold an approach.

The group had been cruising along The Kancamangus Highway for sometime when Biff pulled off to the side of the road and ordered everybodyout. Beneath the highway overpass coursed a mountain stream over rocks,running off into the distance, and terminating in a small waterfall thatran into a deep basin. This, Biff explained to the group, would be the bestlocation for their picnic. It didn't take long at all for everyone to tote all of their food,alcohol, backpacks, and blankets to the water's edge near the basin by thewaterfall. A moment later Biff, Jack, and Ron had gone upstream and takenride after ride downstream, along the slippery rocks, over the waterfall,and into the basin. The only obstacle to a good time here was the women. Asit turned out, none of them had brought bathing suits, having choseninstead to have dressed as though they had been invited to a cocktail partyand apparently had no intention of joining their male escorts in suchfrivolity. They considered themselves too sophisticated to partake of suchchildish antics.

"Why don't you guys act your age?" Rhonda remarked in a condescendingtone. Then, after having taken a drag on one of her Virginia Slims 100s,observed, "You're just a bunch of silly little boys in gorilla costumes.That's no way to have fun."

Biff was quick on the uptake as usual.

"Hey, Rhonda.......take your pants off and I'll show you the best wayto have fun! Those cigarettes are bad for your 'bout Igive you a pink cigar with blue veins to smoke instead? C'mon, hon......Imean, do ya smoke the rope or not?" Laughing heartily, he dove into the water.

Rhonda had nothing to say,but just stared silently at him with a 'death ray' gaze. Biff emerged from the water, went over to his back pack and pulled out aplastic box containing several funny looking cigarettes.

"If you must smoke," he told the group, "Smoke one of these!" A look of apprehension illuminated Jack's eyes. "Hey, Biff.......I mean, isn't that a marijuana cigarette?" Biff roared with laughter, lighting one up.

"Yes, my friend, Colombiangold! I've got some of the good for a hit?" "No, thanks," Jack told him, running back up stream for yet anotherrun over the falls, "I don't think I could handle it."

Perhaps five minutes later Jack pulled a half gallon bottle of Spanadawine out of his back pack and proceeded to drink himself half blind. He hadnever really indulged in alcohol before, and at almost 22 years of ageconsidered himself long overdue for this adolescent right of passage. Itdidn't take much to get him into an obvious stupor. Four large cups wasmore than adequate. Not about to be outdone, Biff took out two half gallons of RhineGarten white wine. He chugged the first one and then let out a belch thatsounded like cannon fire.

"Awwww," he muttered with enthusiasm, "I like that."

At this point Rhonda, Marylou, and Patti were huddled together beneatha tree as if in a defensive posture, fearing for their lives. Then Biffpulled a camera out of his back pack and told Patti to take some pics.

"In the basin! Rhonda, Marylou........c'mon, let's get a picturetaken!" And as the young women cautiously made their way into the basin, Biffwinked and then whispered to Jack, "Get ready for a good one."

Before anyone knew what was going on, Biff swept Rhonda off her feetand tossed her, velvet hot pants and all, into the ice-cold basin. Shequickly exitted its frigid waters looking like a drowned cat. There wasmake-up and eye shadow streaked all over her face, and she was furious,blasting Biff and anyone else within earshot with a string of blisteringobscenities. This, however, only served to encourage Biff's sarcasm.

"Aw, c'mon, hon! It's only mountain spring water.......It's supposedto be good for ya. It'll clear all your clogged pores of that greasymake-up."

"Oh, no!" Rhonda squealed, horror stricken and tugging at her shorts,"My hot pants are shrinking!"

Biff called out, "No problem Rhonda! We'll get those pants off yet,Sugarbuns! Hey......anybody got a CROWBAR? Ha! Ha! Ha!" There was no middle ground as far as people's feelings for BiffMcAllister were concerned. He was either loved or he was hated, withnothing in between. One group that particularly disliked him was the localchapter of The Highway Fiends Motorcycle Club. At some time in the recentpast he had tangled with several members of The Fiends, having put severalof them in the hospital with blunt trauma injuries and exotic jawfractures. The Manchester chapter had decided to put out a contract on himand had hired several members of the New York chapter of The Highway Fiendstake him out. They had been stalking him for the past week, followed him upThe Kancamangus Highway, and were now moving in to finish the job.

The leader of this New York gang was a large, bloated man named ClintLacroix, who done time in prison at Attica for armed robbery and rape.Weighing in the vicinity of 250 lbs. at a height of six foot four, his headwas completely shaved except for the long, thick braid sprouting from thecrown of his glistening skull. Attired in grease-laden denim and clubjacket, Clint's smile was memorable because of the missing teeth. A thickcoat of stubble covered his face, and a razor scar disrupted the continuityof his pockmarked forehead. As hideous as he looked, Clint might have beenthe best looking one his group. The others, Josh, Moondog, Squirrelly, Chico, and Chopper were smalltime hoodlums, having all done jail time for offenses ranging from arson toaggravated assault. Connoisseurs of jewelry, they sported rings or bonesin their noses and/or ears.

At the time of the outlaw bikers' arrival near the stream, Biff wasdown by the basin in rare form. Having smoked a couple of 'jazz cigarettes'all by himself, he had gone on to down at least a gallon and a half ofwine, and by this point was somewhat less than coherent. Perched atop amassive boulder, he was lecturing a chipmunk on the dichotomy between thephilosophies of Plato and Socrates. As he stood there discussing TheAllegory Of The Cave as presented in The Seventh Book of Plato's Republic,his message was made more poignant by the machete and wine bottlebrandished in each hand.

Jack and Ron found Biff's impromtu, philosophical dissertation to behilarious. The girls were simply annoyed. Laughing loudly, Jack happenedto gaze up toward the overpass and was surprised by the visage of the sixugly Fiends astride their chopped Harleys. They had been silently observingBiff's antics for a few minutes and appeared uncertain of their strategyunder these circumstances. Ron had grown concerned by this most recent development.

"Hey, Jack........Now what do you suppose is up with those bikers?" Biff, still atop the boulder, had his back to the overpass as he facedhis friends and continued to expound upon Plato's Republic. Consequentlyhe failed to notice that the bikers were now descending toward the basinarmed with chains and clubs, fully intending to violently disrupt Biff'slate summer reverie. Biff pivoted and suddenly was made aware of the trouble heading hisway. And, as if a switch had been thrown, he shifted back into the shellshocked Marine whom Jack had originally encountered in the YMCA weight roomin the summer of '68.

"C'mon down, my friends!" Biff commanded these bikers as he brandishedthat machete and poured the remainder of the wine over his head, "We'llhave a great time! C'mon, boys! Let's rock 'n roll an' mix it up, youmuthas!"

Then he started hammering the empty wine bottle against his skullwhile cackling maniacally. The aura projected by Biff standing astride theboulder with his eyes crossed and machete in hand was absolutelyincomprehensible. As he projected his voice toward these adversaries, heappeared to grow in stature before everyone's eyes. With chilseled, tannedmusculature rippling under the late afternoon sun, he resembled an avengingTeutonic god about to cast these interlopers out of Valhalla. The Manchester Chapter Highway Fiends had not prepared Clint Lacroixfor anything like this. He and the other Fiends had become so intimidatedby Biff's unexpectedly aggressive reaction to their presence that they wereall figuratively sweeping the ground with their chins in open mouthed awe.At this point they had called off their advance and were now justapprehensively standing there perhaps 20 yards away, trying to appraisethis rather unsettling development.

Clint turned to the other Fiends and remarked, "Shit! These guys arenuts......That McAllister dude with the machete looks like he's fromanother planet! He's gotta be the craziest fucker I've ever seen......Let'sget the fuck outta here!"

And in an instant The Highway Fiends sprinted back up to the overpass,onto their bikes, down the highway, and out of sight, most probably settingroad and track records during their departure. Ron Dupa was nearly speechless. What the?......How cou....could? Biff sc....scared away those bikerswithout having to throw a single punch!"

"Unbelievable," Jack muttered, apparently dumbfounded by what he andhis friends had just witnessed. Biff, however, had not yet finished with his philosophical treatise,and now, sitting half submerged in the basin, carried on with the lecture. "The concept of absolute and relative good as postulated byAquinas......"

He continued to expound upon these esoteric topics as if nothing hadhappened. Sometimes even Biff's closest friends wondered if he wascompletely in touch with reality or not. It had been a great day, but nowit was over. Biff and his pals and their dates made it back to Manchesterwithout incident. Rhonda, Marylou, and Patti were never asked out again.Though even if they had been asked, it's unlikely that they would haveaccepted.

(C)opyright 2007 Jim Ganley All Rights Reserved

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