Readers, having followed the adventures of Cletus and Zeke over these last few weeks now have a greater insight into the counterpoint-cadenza of how Cletus and Zeke confront adversity. In fact, the reader's understanding surpasses the understanding of any of the people in Cletus and Zeke's background with the exception of their families.
The reader might be curious, "How does somebody like Cletus or Zeke come into existance?"
That is an unanswerable question because every person who enters our life, no matter how fleeting, leaves a mark. However, it is possible to see some inflection points where what could have been becomes what is.
Cletus was the second oldest boy of the Thelen family. His brothers, Linus, Clement, Sixtus and Cornelius became an accountant, an engineer, a doctor and a lawyer respectively. Linus still did Cletus's taxes...which often took some creative thinking.
As a young man, Cletus could run with any of his brothers academically so one can be forgiven for being curious as to why he had no home or wife to call his own while his brothers are pillars of their respective communities.
Not surprisingly, it started with romance and a lust to travel.
Between his junior and senior year, Cletus worked as a "carny". The county fair was one of the earliest in Michigan in his county. His parents agreed to let him follow the carnival as long as he was back when football practice started.
Cletus had a bit of a problem with impulse control and with keeping his opinions to himself. It is not an uncommon failing with young men.
He found himself paired with an old Cajun working the Whirly-gig. The ride was a death-trap waiting to happen. Motors were tired. Brakes gasped for breath. Hydraulics leaked like the Whitehouse. Welds were cracked and grease leaked all over. But that is what Cletus was working on.
Growing up on a farm, Cletus had firm opinions on how things should be maintained. The older gentleman's priorities were elsewhere. He had a pint of Popov vodka squirrelled away and he got really tired of Cletus's bullshit.
It was a case of two different worlds colliding. Cletus really could have found somebody who would reweld the gussets that were cracking. He had the skills to find brake-pads that would fit and replace the metal-on-metal pads that were grinding in the brake mechanism.
Cletus's downfall is that he pushed faster than the senior member of the team could tolerate.
Cletus had found a can of glossy, white spray paint in one of the shed and had sprayed one of the welds that was cracking after the crowd had gone home. He wanted to see if the crack was growing. To get to the cracked gusset he had ridden a car to a point fifteen feet above the ground.
Then Cletus asked the old man to jog the ride to bring him back down to ground level.
Te old Cajun was chomping at the bit to get back to his pint. The old Cajun jogged the mechanism and then stood on the brake.
Friction material does more than provide friction between pad-and-disc. It provides predictable friction. Metal-on-metal is not predictable. Usually it slides, which is why the Cajun stood on the brake. Sometimes it welds solid, which is what it did in this case.
Cletus was pitched out of the cab and landed on his head after launching six feet up, into the air.
At a minimum, had he gone to a hospital, he would have been diagnosed with an extremely severe concussion. Untreated, portions of his brain died.
An athlete who had the size and athleticism as a junior to be recruited by Division I Universities was a major disappointment as a senior. The ghost who could juke and shimmy and hit could barely run as a senior.
The scholar whose scalpel-like wit left his victims realizing, five minutes afterwards, that they had been eviscerated...he searched for simple words to finish sentences.
Over time, Cletus compensated. He found unconventional ways that leaned heavily on the portions of his brain that had not been damaged while avoiding those areas that were dark.
Cletus's wanderlust never left him...but the future he could have had did.