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From there, we continued on to the DiAngelo farm, where he and his family were waiting for us. We got out of the truck, approached the slight, elderly man and his three adult children, and introduced ourselves.
"Thank you for agreeing to deliver my mushrooms. I didn't know how we were going to survive. This harvest will bring enough money to pay for the farm loan this year", Mr. DiAngelo explained to us. "This farm is my life, it pulses with my blood. I could never sell it. Without it, I am a shell." Mr. DiAngelo told us that he and his two sons and daughter stay on the farm out of love of the land, not merely for profit. "How could Compton Development tempt me off of my land by simply throwing money at me. What use is money to an old man like me, who would die without the soil between his fingers. I'll die soon enough, then my children can do what ever they wish with the farm. The others call me a fool and are angry with me because, without my land, Compton will not buy their land. They think selling out will bring them happiness. I foresee that it will bring only misery to them all."
Cool Breeze and I agreed that it was dishonorable for the other growers to attempt to force Mr. DiAngelo off of his land. We promised to see his mushrooms delivered to the market so that he would be able to pay his farm loans this year. With that said, his children, Cool Breeze, and I loaded the mushrooms into the trailer.

Lucius helps load the contraband mushrooms

Resting with a snack after the labor is finished
Shortly after we finished loading the truck, we learned from one of the grandchildren who had been keeping an eye on the men at the blockade that the men had brought in a truck to block our return passage. We all agreed that it would be foolhardy to attempt to crash through a truck.
"Is there another way off the farm?" inquired Cool Breeze.
"There's the old way around back, but it hasn't been used since before I was born", stated Vincent, one of Mr. DiAngelo's sons. "There's a bridge you'd have to cross, and I don't know if you'd make it over. It's in sorry shape", he continued.
"Well, it's worth a try, since we know we won't be getting out the front", replied Cool Breeze. With the decision made, Cool Breeze and I reentered the truck and started down the fallow path at the back of the property. Victor and his siblings led the way in their jeep until we approached the bridge. We had dodged potholes and overgrowth on the path behind us, but when the bridge came into view, I knew it was the pinnacle obstacle. The bridge was roughly twice the length of our truck and spanned a deep ravine. Although the bridge was covered, half of the roof had caved in and the other half was well-weathered and beginning to rot. Through several holes in the flooring of the bridge, I could see the ravine below. It was not an inspiring sight.
Victor approached the truck. "If you can make it across, the path will connect with a proper road about a half-a-mile down. Take that road west until you hit the highway. I can't say that I think it's a good idea, though. I don't know how much weight this old bridge will hold."
Cool Breeze and I got out of the truck and examined the bridge. After a few mental calculations, we concluded that we should take the risk. "Thank you again", said Victor, "you are truly saving our father's life by saving his farm."
"Don't thank us until the mushrooms are at market, friend", stated Cool Breeze. We then got back into the truck and waved good-bye to our new friends. Cool Breeze slowly drove the truck forward. The wooden planks groaned under the weight of the cab's front wheels. As we moved further onto the bridge, we could feel it shudder. Dust and wood rot fell onto the truck from the decaying roof above us. Soon we were half way across the bridge and the entire weight of the truck was being supported by the bridge. Suddenly we heard a loud snapping sound, followed by the sensation of the truck dropping slightly. We could tell that some of the flooring boards had given way and that one of our wheels was stuck. Cool Breeze carefully applied pressure to the accelerator in order to free the wheel. Cool Breeze's cautious maneuvering was successful and we started forward once again. At three-quarters of the way across we began to relax. However, the bridge again shuddered and lurched slightly to the right. We knew we did not have much more time before the bridge collapsed. At that, Cool Breeze began to accelerate the truck. It felt as though the bridge was disintegrating beneath us. The front wheels of the truck hit solid ground on the other side of the ravine, and were soon followed by the rear wheels of the trailer. Cool Breeze let out a whoop as he accelerated away from the bridge. In the rear-view mirrors, we could see various chunks of the bridge fall into the ravine.

Lucius chats on the CB during a pit stop
"Well let's hope that this was the most difficult part of the journey", I said to Cool Breeze as the truck kicked up a cloud of dust behind us, "I had no idea that mushrooms were such a hazardous commodity!"
Fortunately my hopes came to fruition and the remainder of our journey to Chicago was unremarkable. We had outwitted the growers association and we had survived the hazards of the road.
We pulled into the Chicago Terminal Market and waited as the cargo of mushrooms was unloaded. "Cool Breeze, I am quite glad that we were able to deliver these mushrooms, but this one load will not save the DiAngelo's farm forever. I feel that we have only delayed the inevitable for one more year. I wish there was some way that we could provide a more permanent solution."
Dear reader, as I said these words, an idea began fermenting in my mind. "Cool Breeze, I have an idea. However, it will require me to leave you for a couple of weeks. Would it be possible for you to pick me up again in New Jersey in two weeks?" Cool Breeze assented to my wishes and I bid him a temporary farewell. I quickly found my way back to New Jersey via ultralight (an aside which I shall impart another day) where I spent the next two weeks with the mushroom growers association and with Mr. DiAngelo. When Cool Breeze returned to recoup my company, I invited him to a growers association meeting where he was surprised to find Mr. DiAngelo and the rest of the association carrying on as good friends.
"What happened here?" asked Cool Breeze.
"Well, in the first few days, I convinced the members of the growers association of the economic benefits of creating a mushroom co-op and pooling costs and profits versus the current method of individual farms. Via a prospectus estimating increased profits which will dwarf Compton Development's offer in three years, I also showed them the detriment of a one time pay out from Compton. Then, during my remaining time, I instructed them in experimental hydroponic, certified organic, low impact farming solutions which will increase the mushroom crop yield while significantly lowering overhead. I also shared with them a special fertilizer recipe which I acquired while doing research in Bhutan. I think they will be quite shocked at the quality of mushrooms which will be produced by this mixture! I am also slightly abashed to say, I tampered with their heart strings by prophesying of the changes that would be wrought by an amusement park in their midst", I explained to Cool Breeze.
"Evidently, my pitch was successful", I continued, "and now they seem to look at Mr. DiAngelo as a hero who saved them from their own rashness. I must say, I could not be more pleased with the result of this situation."
"Lucius, you are something else", Cool Breeze said to me while he shook his head. I just shrugged and smiled as we headed back to Cool Breeze's Kenworth. I do not care for loose ends, and I was simply satisfied that I was able to aid in tying up this particular set of ends.

Lucius prepares to embark after his fulfilling adventure