my dis-ease

by Susie Applegate

I keep thinking about those uniformed men at the park back in May, and on my trip to Joseph, and stories I hear around town about military-type excersizes out in the desert. I was chatting with Donnie Wicker just the other day, down at the Germaine Cafe, when he mentioned seeing a convoy of Hummers, complete with mounted guns driving the backroads of Harney County. When I questioned him further, he told me that he had been out “messing around” with Zach Sweet, cruising the hundreds of miles of rough dirt and cinder roads that criss-cross the Eastern Oregon prairie lands.
    Of course, I immediately think about drugs when the name Zach Sweet comes up. The sheriff’s son has been in and out of jail since the age of sixteen, mostly for things one associates with drugs and drug addiction. I have to say, I was disappointed in Donnie. He has a lot going for him, and associating with a young punk like Sweet won’t help him achieve his potential. And I just can’t see Donnie as the older brother figure, trying to help out a troubled youth.
    “I gotta go,” he said to me suddenly, and awkwardly. “I just remembered something…something I have to do.”
    Was it embarrassment at having revealed too much that caused Donnie to run from me like that? Was Donnie involved with Zach Sweet in some drug business?
    I thought about the piece Dad ran back in April about a drug bust up by Nine-Mile Creek. Sometimes I just can’t get my mind around the changes that are taking place in Wilbur County. Murder, drug-runners, anarchists, secret military maneuvers, and federal agents in our midst. What is going on here?
    And, of course, there is Al and Suzanne and the incident at the Restin’ Easy. It had something to do with drugs, or terrorists, or spies. Otherwise, why are the Arlingtons in a government protection program? I’m betting that that something is still going on, and it is at the center of my dis-ease.
    I’ve been putting it off, but tomorrow I will definitely go see Harlan McCoy. If anyone can shed some light on this, it’s Harlan.

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