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"their leader" set Emmet apart from his three brothers, not as a matter of his choice, but rather theirs.

Billy Landout thought that Emmett's underground-superstardom as an invisible American cultural hero was mildly hilarious. "They've already got you in the Hipsters Hall of Folklore Fame, and they don't even know what the fuck you look like! You're just hearsay, Emmett. Just a whole lotta hearsay." Then, Tumble suddenly became sullen toward Emmett and showed signs of remaining glum for the entire last lap of the journey. The Hun was predictably bitter at so outrageous an assault on his ego. After all, he was one, too, wasn't he? He even began to make insinuations that Emmett had been using "him" and "his" Free Store all along and was further conspiring to employ "him" and "his" thing as the main rung in the ladder that he was planning to climb to success and fame !

Emmett remained jocular about the whole absurd affair, assuming that his brothers knew it was all a ridiculous matter and he had nothing consciously to do with a media image which he himself had done the most to liquidate. "I mean, look! They were just a bunch of kids who are still a year behind in history and haven't heard yet that I don't really exist. That's all!" But when the Hun went on to insist that "No!" that wasn't all, with his wild-eyed, paranoid, conspiracy-against-him fantasy, Emmett felt like an asshole apologizing for something he could only control by dying.

So he blew it, and started over the front seat for the Hun, to maybe slap some sense into him or at least crack him in his mouth, but Tumble grabbed him, pulling him back down into the rear just as Billy almost lost control of the ninety-mile-per-hour speeding car, driving it along the metal guard rail for a few yards before being able to swing it back into the lane and down on the highway. All of them knew at once that very little was ever going to be the same between them again, and Emmett, especially, felt it was the beginning of the end for their always more or less tenuous solidarity as brothers, and for the name "Diggers"--just a word meaning "Free" --which had somehow already gotten out of hand and onto the charts.

The proof of this pudding came in its eating early the next morning, when the four men pulled into a service station alongside the Route 80 Freeway that bypasses Sacramento. This was to be their last stop, because they were in the home stretch with only eighty-five [end page 407]


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