The following is a list of significant events that affected Carl's plan to go to Winslow.
Events that had a significant impact on either the Winslow Saga or Carl's life have
the dates in boldface. Major turning points in the saga are
denoted by three asterisks (* * *) before the date.
With the exception of "Carl", all names in this story have been changed.
For your convenience, if you've read part of this story before, you may click on one of these links to skip to a particular year:
With the exception of "Carl", all names in this story have been changed.
Carl walks to Jan & Joe's Liquor Store at the Santa Monica/West L.A.
city line, and buys a snack and the new Weekly Inquisitor. It's been a long work day at the KALT Corporation (his summer job) and when he gets home he
sits down to enjoy good food and fiction.
On page five of the Inquisitor is a story about a young girl named Denise Gottlieb. Born with a rare disorder, she has defied doctors' predictions and lived to be 17. The Inquisitor dubs her "America's Little Princess".
The article gives her home town as Winslow, Arizona -- near a route Carl will take on a July trip to Canada with two friends, Craig Martin and David Henry. Captivated by her story, Carl immediately begins devising a plan to meet her. From the sound of the article, she's a girl who might genuinely appreciate his company.
Carl sets out on the Canada trip with Craig Martin and David Henry,
in Craig's yellow 1981 Toyota Starlet. The trip is scheduled to include two
stops in Arizona: Tucson and Prescott. Then it's on to the Grand Canyon,
Four Corners, Colorado, Wyoming, and Banff National Park. They arrive at
the home of author Morgan Fredericks late in the afternoon.
The trio arrive in Prescott, where both Craig's uncle and David's
grandparents live. Winslow is 235 km away. Carl has told them about
Denise Gottlieb weeks in advance but they think that trying to meet her
would be a foolish idea.
After the Grand Canyon, Carl again requests to be taken to Winslow, but
Craig persists. Even though the town is towards the general direction of
Four Corners (from where they are), Craig insists that it's too far out of
the way. They steer clear of Winslow (but do, curiously enough, stop in
The trio arrive back in Santa Monica. Carl is no closer to meeting
Denise, but keeps the Inquisitor article on his wall as a reminder.
Carl begins his junior year at Ichabod College. At a meeting nine days
later, he officially becomes Music Director of the college's radio station,
KRCL. He is given a key to the station.
Sitting in the lounge at the college's Beta Hall, Carl meets up with
a friend of his and two girls. The four go out to eat at Denny's in Agoura.
Later they return to the campus and Carl unlocks the door to KRCL so they
can listen to music.
One of the girls takes a shine to him. Her name is Jennifer Appling, and she is the daughter of a Lutheran minister. A fair-haired girl, she instills in Carl a confidence like he never had before. The two hit it off and become very close, and for the next five days Carl is on cloud nine. All this is coming too fast for Jennifer, and the afternoon of the 23rd she informs him that she just wants to be friends. Carl is devastated. He spends the next seven weeks trying to patch things up.
Carl calls Jennifer's room and learns from her roommate that she now
has a boyfriend. Hurt and bitterness overwhelm him, and he vows not to speak
to her for the rest of the year. Six days later, his friend Andrew Gear begins to
arrange for him to meet a young lady from Westlake Village, whose older
sister Andy is dating. Carl finally goes out with her just before Christmas
to see John Belushi's last film, Neighbors. His preparations for the
date, however, have been a disaster, and he falls flat on his face.
In the Student Union Building, Carl meets somebody he can rebel with:
a freshman drama major from Hawaii with the unlikely name of Hercules
Simpson. He, too, has had his share of problems. The two become buddies.
Around this time, Carl is reflecting on his failed Christmas date and
Jennifer's flake out. His thoughts begin to turn once again to Denise
Gottlieb. Craig and David come up with an idea. They invite Carl to go
on their next Prescott trip, and he can take a bus from there to Winslow. (Carl's only means of transportation is a beat up, unpredictable 1965 Rambler -- and he's not about to take that across the desert!)
Carl goes to the AAA office and picks up a Tour Book for Arizona. He pins the Inquisitor article up on his dorm room wall.
Carl, Craig and David go to Prescott with David's mother in Craig's
new 1982 Isuzu I-Mark. The following day, Craig takes Carl to the bus
station. A ticket to Winslow costs $14.95, but Carl is so tight on funds that
he can't afford a room at any of the motels listed in the tour book. He does
not buy a ticket.
Stopping by the Prescott Library immediately afterward, Carl gets hold of a Winslow phone book and finds several other motels not listed in the tour book --- among them, a Motel 6.
JULY 2-5: Having earned some money working a temporary job in Santa Monica, Carl
tags along for another trip to Prescott with Craig Martin, David Henry and David's mother. On Saturday, July 3, Craig drives
him to the bus station. This time, Carl buys a ticket to Winslow and gets on the bus.With the scrapped Memorial Day trip still
fresh in his mind, Carl arrives better prepared.
At the outset, morale is high. Carl
is finally going to Winslow, after over a year of hoping and dreaming. As
the bus pulls out of Prescott, his heart is filled with anticipation.
The bus passes small wide spots in the road with names like Twin Arrows and Two Guns. As time goes on, reality slowly creeps back in. Carl only has enough money for a motel and a bite to eat. Nothing for emergencies. And what if he misses the bus back to Prescott?
Maybe he isn't as ready for this as he thought. Carl has this uncomfortable feeling as he gets off the bus. Here he is in a small town where he doesn't know anybody -- and nobody knows him. Although he's just come to check the place out, he can't shake this awkward feeling inside.
Bells ring on a nearby church steeple. It's obviously just a recording; the bells sound warped and uneven, almost as if the machine is trying to break down. The warped tape sound adds an extra eerieness to the whole scene.
Carl heads west facing the sun as two small Indian boys walk past him going the other direction, each carrying a tiny kitten. He passes a Motel 6, advertising a $14.45 price, but the SORRY sign is on. Finally he gets a $12.95 a night room with a sliding door.
He spends most of the night in his motel room watching TV: a Starsky & Hutch episode, Fantasy Island, Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy talking about his new movie 48 HRS. Carl only leaves the room once to go to Burger King. The sounds of nearby train whistles lull him to sleep.
The next morning, he boards the bus. A guy going to Phoenix strikes up a conversation with him. Carl has the Inquisitor article in his pocket, and almost tells the guy why he's here, but loses his nerve. When he gets back to Prescott, Craig and David are not the least bit surprised.
Carl's parents finance a new 1982 Toyota Tercel for him. He now has a
reliable car, but still not enough money for a second trip to Winslow.
Carl receives a notice in the mail from Ichabod College: his room
assignment for his senior year has been changed; he will now be living in
Sutton Hall's east wing with Hercules Simpson. Simpson has arranged the
deal himself with the college's director of housing. He stays at Carl's
house a week before school starts.
Carl and Hercules Simpson move into room 331 of Sutton Hall. Jennifer
Appling attends a junior college up north.
It's like putting a frog in a pot of water and gradually turning up the heat. By the time it's boiling, it's too late for the frog.
As time passes, Hercules Simpson begins to flex his muscle and exert
more and more influence over Carl. His morale damaged by his failures of the
previous year, Carl is easy prey for Simpson.
On his way to class on this very rainy Monday morning, Carl cuts through
the west wing of Sutton Hall. As he nears the exit, the door to room 401
opens and out comes Nicole D'Amato -- whom Carl has admired from afar. She
offers to share her umbrella with him, and he accepts. They walk down the
road chatting away. It is the year's best moment.
Shortly thereafter, Carl begins to notice that 1983 is out of kilter. By now, Nicole is spoken for. He reasons that if Hercules hadn't changed the room assignment, and left him assigned to the west wing of Sutton Hall, Carl would have noticed in time just what a gem Nicole really is. But alas, it is too late now. Simpson's actions of August 1982 have knocked history off its axis. Carl spends the rest of the year pining away for the lost opportunity of winning Nicole's heart. He keeps Winslow in the back of his mind, however.
Hercules applies for a job with Ichabod Summer Playhouse. He pressures
Carl into going in for the same interview. Carl does not want to work there;
he wishes to spend the summer away from him. At the interview, Carl answers
questions like he's unsure of what he's talking about. The strategy is
a success: Hercules gets the job at ISP; Carl does not. Carl heaves a
sigh of relief.
By the time the school year has wrapped up, Simpson's verbal abuses and
belittlements toward Carl have begun to turn physical. He's got Carl right
where he wants him -- scared to death. Carl looks forward to the summer,
when he can be at home in peace.
Carl kicks off his video collection by recording the "International Day" show
of Late Night with David Letterman..........800 kilometers away, Denise Gottlieb
graduates -- at age 19 -- from Winslow Junior High School. As she accepts her
diploma, she receives a standing ovation.
Hercules Simpson's constant phone calls to Carl really put a damper on
any plans for another trip to Winslow. He always wants something, and by
leaving some of his stuff at Carl's house, Carl has been made to feel
obligated to him. The summer isn't turning out to be what Carl hoped for,
but he soon looks back on May and June as the good old days.....
After spending the weekend at Carl's, the two drive back to the
headquarters of Ichabod Summer Playhouse. Simpson receives notice that due to
his lack of concern for the group, he is being fired.
Efforts to get the boss to reconsider are unsuccessful. In spite of all the grief Simpson has caused him, Carl just can't leave him out in the cold like this. Simpson spends the summer at Carl's house. The next two months are hell on earth.
Getting punched or hit becomes an almost daily occurrence. No one asks why Carl is wearing long-sleeve shirts in the middle of summer.
In one of the summer's few bright moments, Carl is at a supermarket in
Venice with his mother and Simpson, and flips through the August 2 issue
of the Inquisitor. Towards the back of the tabloid is a new article on
Denise Gottlieb, telling all about her graduation. With Simpson taking
advantage of Carl at almost every turn, it's a miracle Carl has enough
money to buy a copy. He has wisely kept Simpson in the
dark about Winslow, and has no intention of changing this policy.
The article gives Carl a ray of hope during one of the worst periods of his life.
Carl finally gets another job! He starts working at Road Runners
Messenger Service, and is now able to spend the daytime hours away from
SEPTEMBER 4-22: Things start to turn around for Carl as various events put the brakes on Hercules Simpson's reign of terror.
SEPTEMBER 23: Encouraged by the love and support he received back east, Carl says goodbye to Hercules Simpson for what he hopes will be the last time. At 9:30 a.m., he drives away. The last person he notices as he drives away is Nicole D'Amato, walking up a hill by the Regents' Building and wearing a beautiful dress.
SEPTEMBER 24-29: Carl's parents help him arrange to go back to New York, possibly to work. One day they go to the Auto Club to get the route mapped out. The man at the Auto Club routes the first leg of the trip down Interstate 40 -- right through Winslow, Arizona.
SEPTEMBER 30: Carl departs for New York. He stays at a friend's home outside of Anaheim.
---> THE SECOND TRIP: SEPTEMBER 30 - OCTOBER 1:
After a visit to Las Vegas, Carl arrives in Winslow that evening. He
stays at the Winslow TraveLodge. The next day, he calls Craig Martin,
then checks out of the room and visits Meteor Crater. He returns to Winslow
in the afternoon.
Now, Carl has to make sure that the Inquisitor story is true; he certainly doesn't want to be trying to meet someone who doesn't exist. He's checked a Winslow phone book and sure enough, there's a couple of Gottliebs there. He looks up the street on a map and heads that way. He slows down as he passes her house, and -- it looks just like the one she's standing in front of in the 1981 article! Of course, Carl doesn't get out of the car. He's got more sense than that.
OCTOBER 8, 1983 - FEBRUARY 29, 1984:
Carl lives with his Aunt Jane and Uncle Ron in Rockland County. His uncle
has arranged for him a job interview with UPS in Manhattan.
They look over his driving record and tell Carl it has to be squeaky clean. The deal falls through. His cousin Anne's boyfriend Jack gets him a job working security at Nyack Hospital for $4.25 an hour.
Almost five months in New York fail to get Carl a girlfriend or a decent job. He arrives home on February 29. The first person he visits at home is David Henry.
Carl returns to work at Road Runners. Concrete plans for another trip
to Winslow have yet to be formulated.
MAY 18: Carl is driving down Pico Blvd. past a loading dock as an 18-wheeler is slowly backing out. He misjudges his timing and doesn't pass the truck in time. It backs into the right rear of his car. He's not injured, but there is a gash above the right passenger window.
Shortly after 3:00 in the morning Carl is awakened by a ringing phone.
He answers "Hello?" and gets no response, only people talking in the background.
He repeats "Hello?" and again gets nothing. The third time he says "Hello?" a
voice sounding like Hercules Simpson comes on the line and says, "You're dead."
and hangs up. Carl gets in his car and re-parks it a quarter of a mile away,
outside Doug Craighead's house.
Later that day, Greg James asks if he can borrow the car to cruise around with Craig Martin and Mike Bonham. Carl says okay; he's not going anywhere.
They return the next morning and tell Carl that someone ran them off the road while they were up in the mountains, and the car got rolled. Carl goes to Craig's house to retrieve the car.
Craig, Greg and Mike are uninjured. The car is totaled. Strangely enough, the engine starts right up. Carl drives the car on its last trip: home. Winslow? Not this summer.
MID SEPTEMBER: Carl and his parents take a weekend company-paid trip to Phoenix. His father works at Hughes Helicopters, and the company is planning to move his father's division to their Mesa plant. They tour the plant and look at various homes. A move to Mesa is highly probable at this point.
NOVEMBER: Carl switches to Pronto Messenger Service after talking with one
of their drivers and learning they pay more.
Carl wonders why he hasn't seen hide nor hair of Nicole D'Amato. He soon learns that she is spending the second half of her education at UC Santa Clara.
MARCH 8: After seeing Missing In Action II: The Beginning with
Greg James and Tony Navarro, Carl decides to take them to a USA gas station where
his friend Rich Scott works, two miles from Ichabod. The Portuguese Bend damage hasn't
been completely mended, though; there's been a very slow oil leak. Just as they
are getting off the freeway, the engine seizes up and the car dies, a little less
than 2 km from
the USA gas station. Carl walks there and buys oil from Rich while Greg and
Tony stay with the car. They spend the night in an open room called The New Earth,
located on campus.
The car suffers further damage a few days later when Carl, Craig and Greg are towing it back to Santa Monica. It stays in the body shop for over a month while insurance is worked out. Then it is taken across the street to the mechanic.
APRIL 29: As the Corolla Diesel is undergoing a test run after engine repair, it throws a rod through the block. Despite Carl's pleading, the shop refuses to fix it. Carl considers suing them, but he doesn't have the money for court costs and Craig points out that it may be months before the case would even come up. The car is taken back to Carl's parents' garage, and plans for going to Winslow are shelved for yet another summer.
* * * AUGUST 28: Carl and his mother move to Mesa. His father stays in California until October 11.
On To Part Two