“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,” Dan sputtered. “Wait, wait.” He said he needed to get his camera operational, go find Bruce. No, the biker said he wasn’t going to wait.
“Well, what’s your name?” Dan asked.
“Call me ‘Moon,’ ” he said.
“Is that your name?”
“No, but you can call me Moon.” Moon then spun on his heel and walked out of the library.
From then forward, our search unfolded in a rush. Through the obit registry at the Journal, we found Marcy’s father and mother, Reinhold and Edith Bachmann, who had died in the ’90s. The old man had run a hobby shop in downtown Flint, The Hobby House. The family had lived in the west end of town. We also learned that Marcy now resided in Hawaii, of all places, and that she had four children. Via Google satellite, we zeroed in on their house, a big-looking spread outside Waikiki. Could Marcy be a well-off matron? Was a trip to Hawaii in the offing? Piña coladas in a Tiki hut, watching the curlers roll in? We felt like dancing a jig.
There was still daylight left to Saturday, so we drove out to Marcy’s old house to film the street for background, and talk to whoever was now living there. It was a white bungalow, surrounded by a chainlink fence, looking forlorn in the dirty snow.
I went up and knocked on the storm door while Dan shot me from the sidewalk. Deep-throated barking exploded from within the house, and a large-ish, middle-aged woman appeared, shouting at the dogs to stay back. She had glasses and a head of curly brown hair, and was smiling inquisitively. I told her we were looking for someone named Bachmann who had lived at this address a long time ago.
“Well, I’m a Bachmann,” she said.
“You’re a Bachmann,” I said, uncomprehending.
“Yes, I’m a Bachmann. I’m Margaret Bachmann.”
“Margaret Bachmann? You mean . . . you’re Marcy?!”
“Yes, I’m Marcy.”
Speechless for a second, I quickly recovered and told her I was the guy who’d written the Newsweek story so many years ago, about her running away to New York, did she remember? Did she remember! She immediately lit into me as if she’d been waiting all these years for that guy to show up at her door. That was an awful, awful thing I did to her, taking advantage of a young girl, how painful it was, how horrible it made her feel, and how it had so upset her family, how embarrassing with friends and neighbors reading it. And she was 19, not 17 like I’d written, and she didn’t even know what STP was, although she did admit to a liking for LSD.
After agreeing that I’d done a terrible thing and apologizing a dozen times, I told her this man with the camera who was coming up the walk right now was my associate, Dan Loewenthal, and that we were here to do a film about the consequences of such careless and thoughtless journalism, hoping to make amends and be forgiven. And on and on.
Eventually she relaxed, and invited us into her living room, now a little crowded, what with us and her large rescue dogs, including a boisterous Rottweiler she’d acquired to scare away criminals. Speaking in a voice you could probably hear several houses away, she ran briefly through her life after being dropped off that day at the Jersey Turnpike. She and her friends hitched to Haight-Ashbury, she worked as a waitress, attended and then dropped out of college, knew Country Joe and the Fish and Timothy Leary, was present at Altamont. She then moved to Hawaii, where she got married and had three boys and a girl, made and lost a lot of money in real estate and the restaurant business, and, after getting divorced, moved back to Flint in the late ’90s. She bought out her sister’s share of her parents’ house, and was now settled into a quiet retirement, living on her Social Security check and tending her organic garden.
As it grew dark, we said we had to go, but made a date for lunch the next day. It wasn’t until we reached our motel that I realized I’d forgotten to tell her about the story that was running tomorrow on the front page of the Sunday Journal. Thanks to the digital age, it would include not only the reporter’s interview with Dan and me, but also the original Newsweek story, as well as the radio interview on WNEW. All of Flint would now listen in as Steve Young slid that old phone over to the clueless flower child and asked in his unctuous fashion: “Would you like to call your parents?”
It was as if I’d never learned a thing. Oh, Marcy, I thought, I’ve done it to you all over again!