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The People I Meet—Dan and Fitz.


Left to right: Dan and Fitz


Yesterday, Donald Trump Jnr, the 45th president of the United States, was indicted on four counts in federal court in Washington, DC, for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. I listen to the headlines repeatedly on the news as I drive from Ten Sleep to Cody, Wyoming,


I detour from my planned route and stop in Thermopolis because I feel like bathing in mineral water. Entrance to the State Baths at Hot Spring State Park is free—a simple, well-maintained outdoor pool fed by hot natural springs, followed by a shower.


Feeling peckish, I wander into the village and follow the signs to the Black Bear Cafe and Coffee Shop, where I meet Dan and Fitz, who are on their way to the Sturgis Rally. Both are ex-US military veterans. Dan is shy and defers to his extroverted and flirtatious friend Fitz, who invites me to ride on the back of his bike and tries to squeeze in a hug.


Fitz tells me he was stationed in Iran during the 1979 hostage-taking. He was posted to hotspots, including Beirut, serving as a US Marine until he was given his papers and sent home, his voice catching in his throat. “That was tough,” he says, “it's still tough. Three operations later,” his hand crisscrosses his body.


The coffee is excellent, the toasted cheese and tuna sandwich slimy and tasteless, and the coleslaw sharply sour. I stare at a bear splatted against the wall like a squished fly. He looks surprised and embarrassed by his predicament and clings to the wall with his big paws.


We go outside to see the bikes. “That’s what I’m talking about.” He points to a picture of an eagle weeping on the back of his motorcycle. The message is obscure.


“Safe travels,” I say, heading across the wide, empty street. “Ma’am,” Fitz calls after me. I turn to acknowledge him. “Welcome to America,” he says. He is the first person to welcome me to his country.




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