Norman Allan
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Short Stories







Suits and Hippies (working title)

We were talking, here at Millennia’s end, about "hippie". We were reflecting on the Summer of Love and the Counter Culture, and Annie said, Annie asked, "Do you think that you flower children defined a generation?"

"Yes," I said. "But while we were defining the generation of sixties and the seventies, the suits were putting a lock on the eighties and the nineties." And that got me thinking about Suzy. Suzy Knell.

Suzy was a hippie. She wore long cotton prints, flowing skirt, flowery blouses. No bra, of course. She walked round campus accompanied by Space, her one-eyed Harlequin Great Dane. This was nineteen seventy. I was the long-haired post-doc on campus, so Suzy singled me out to supervise her self-directed project. It was on feminism (and this is before feminism, just before feminism, I think), and it was great, her project. A+. She was thorough, dedicated, and bright.

As we worked together, I learned her story

In 1969 Suzy had been studying liberal arts at "Oakland University" in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Oakland was a liberal, nay, a progressive school, by policy half black and half white. Suzy and her boy friend, Mark, were politically active, as were their best friends, a black couple, Cathy and Franklin. Franklin was involved, peripherally, with the Panthers. Oh, there was revolution in the corridors, and parties every evening. But everything came apart, one day, when Suzy was taken hostage… literally.

She was taken hostage, held at gun point by a black person, probably not a student, and probably a little demented. She was held at gun point one summers day on campus, by a road side. For two hours she talked to her assailant, human to human. After two hours the perpetrator’s attention wandered and she threw him over the hood, the bonnet of a car parked where they were standing. He landed heavily, awkwardly on his back, was incapacitated and was taken away in an ambulance.

Things went from bad to worse, however, when Franklin started putting Mark down as less than a man for failing to avenge Suzy, a revenge he couldn’t very well execute as Suzy refused, just for that reason, to give anyone any information. Well, with the best of friendships coming apart in this unpleasant manner, Suzy decided she had had as much as she could take of macho America. She decided to come up to a quieter Canada to finish her studies. And she bought herself a Great Dane, Space.

But what reminded me of Suzy Knell, when speaking of the suits taking advantage of our playing around in the sixties to buy up and corner the world, was an incident that happened in Canada that winter that I was supervising her project. Suzy was up just north of Toronto at a ski lodge. She was leaving, in the parking lot getting in to her beat up VW van. A young business man, getting out of his BMW, looked her and one-eyed Space up and down and said, "We’ll win you, you know. We are going to beat you." And that in our kinder, gentler Canada too.

Moral? I’m not sure. But they will be taking care of business, you can be sure.