Tuesday, 30 December 2008

31 December 2008

known it and that it was entering a new and horrible stage of jails and iron sorrows, such as Egyptian kings must know in the drowsy afternoon when the fight is up in the reeds of the mires. But the cruiser was our taxi and from that moment on we flew East and had to. At the Travel Bureau there was a tremendous offer for someone to drive a 47 Cadillac limousine to Chicago. The owner had been driving up from Mexico with his family and got tired and put them all on a train. All he wanted was identification and for the car to get there. I showed the man- -a squat Italian Chicago baron---my papers and assured him everything would come off right. I told Neal “And don’t fuck up with this car.” Neal was jumping up and down with excitement to see it. We had to wait an hour. We lay on the grass near the church where in 1947 I had passed some time with panhandling hoboes after seeing Ruth G. home and there I fell asleep from sheer horror and exhaustion with my face to the afternoon birds. But Neal hustled right around town. He drew up a talking acquaintance with a waitress in a luncheonette and as of yore, when he had her alone outside, persuaded her the sun and moon and she innocently accepted and must have been an impulsive girl. In any case Neal made a date to take her driving in his Cadillac that afternoon, and came back to wake me with the news. Now I felt better. I rose to the new complications. When the Cadillac arrived Neal instantly drove off with it “to get gas” and the Travel Bureau man looked at me and said “When’s he coming back. The passengers are all ready to go and waiting.” He showed me two Irish boys from an Eastern Jesuit school waiting with their suitcases on the benches. “He just went for gas. He’ll be right back.” I cut down to the corner and watched Neal as he waited for the waitress, who had been changing in her room on the corner of 17th and Grant, in fact I could see her from where I stood in front of her mirror primping and fixing her silk stockings and I wished I could go along with them. She came running out of the hotel and jumped in the Cadillac. I wandered back to reassure the TB boss and the passengers. From where I stood in the door I saw a faint flash of the Cadillac crossing Cleveland Place with Neal, T-shirted and joyous, fluttering

30 December 2008

West Kansas and the birds sang above Denver. Where were the old Denver Birds, the ones I understood? Horrible nauseas possessed Neal and I in the morning. First thing he did was go out across the cornfield to see if the car would carry us East. I told him no go but he went anyway. He came back pale. “Man, that’s a detective’s car and every precinct in town knows my fingerprints from the year that I stole five hundred cars. You see what I do with them, I just wanta ride man! I gotta go! Listen, we’re going to wind up in jail if we don’t get out of here this very instant.” “You damned right” I said and we began packing faster than our hands could go. Dangling neckties and shirt tails we said quick goodbyes to our sweet little family and stumbled off towards the protective road where nobody would know. Little Nancy was crying to see us, or me, or whatever it was, go---and Johnny was courteous, and I kissed her and apologized. “He sure is a crazy one,” she said “he reminds me of my husband that run away. Just exactly the same guy. I sure hope my Mickey don’t grow up that way, they all do now.” Micky was her son, the one in delinquent school. “Tell him not to steal coca cola cases” I said “He told me that’s what he was doing and that’s the way he’ll innocently start till the cops start beating him up.” And I said goodbye to little Sally who had her pet beetle in her hand, and little Billy was asleep. All this in the space of seconds, in a lovely Sunday morning dawn, as we stumbled off with our wretched baggage across the nauseas of the night before. We hurried. Every minute we expected a cruising car to suddenly appear from around a country bend and come sloping for us. “If that woman with the shotgun ever finds out we’re cooked” said Neal. “We MUST get a cab” I said “Then we’re safe.” We tried to wake up a farm family to use their phone but the dog drove us away. Every minute things became more dangerous, the coupe would be found wrecked in the corn by any early-rising country man. One lovely old lady let us use her phone finally and we called a downtown Denver cab but he didn’t come. We stumbled on down the road. Early morning traffic began, every car looking like a cruiser. Then we suddenly saw the cruiser coming and I knew it was the end of my life as I had

29 December 2008

which I had walked many and many a lost night the previous months of the summer, singing and moaning and eating the stars and dropping the juices of my heart drop by drop on the hot tar night, Neal suddenly hove up behind us in the stolen Plymouth and began tooting and tooting and crowding us over and screaming. The cabby’s face grew white. “Just a friend of mine” I said. Neal got disgusted with us and suddenly shot ahead ninety miles an hour and we watched his sad red tail-light vanishing towards the unseen mountains throwing spectral dust across the exhaust. Then he turned in at Johnny’s road and almost filled the ditch and took another right and pulled up in front of the house; just as suddenly took off again, U-turned and went back towards town as we got out of the cab and paid the fare. A few moments later as we waited anxiously in the dark yard he returned with still another car, a battered coupe, stopped it in a cloud of dust in front of the house and just staggered out and went straight into the bedroom and flopped dead drunk on the bed. And there we were with a stolen car right on our doorstep. I had to wake him up, I couldn’t get the car started myself and dump it somewhere far off. He stumbled out of bed wearing just his jockey shorts and we got in the car together---while the kids giggled from the windows---and went bouncing and flying straight over the corn-rows at the end of the road till finally the car couldn’t take any more and stopped dead under an old cottonwood near the old mill. “Can’t go any further” said Neal simply and got out and started walking back over the cornfield, about a half mile, in his shorts. We got back to the house and he went to sleep. Everything was in a horrible mess, all of Denver, Clementine, cars, children, poor Johnny, the livingroom splattered with beer and cans and I simply went to sleep myself. A cricket kept me awake for sometime. At night in this part of the West the stars, as I had seen them in Wyoming, are big as Roman Candles and as lonely as the Prince who’s lost his ancestral home and journeys across the spaces trying to find it again, and he knows he never will. So they slowly wheeled the night and then long before the ordinary dawn the great red sun appeared far over entire territorial areas of dun land towards

Sunday, 28 December 2008

28 December 2008

his arms around Neal and moaned in his face and Neal went mad again with sweats and insanity, and to further the unbearable confusion Neal rushed out the next moment and stole a car right from the driveway and took a dash to downtown Denver and came back with a newer better one. Suddenly in the bar I looked up and saw cops and people were milling around the driveway in the headlights of cruisers talking about the stolen car. “Somebody’s been stealing cars left and right here!” the cop was saying. Neal stood right in back of him listening and saying “Ah yass, ah yass.” The cops went off to check. Neal came in the bar and rocked back and forth with the poor spastic kid who had just gotten married that day and was having a tremendous drunk while his bride waited somewhere. “Oh man, this guy is the greatest in the world!” yelled Neal. “Jack, Johnny, I’m going out and get a real good car this time and we’ll all go and with Albert too” (the spastic saint) “and have a big drive in the mountains.” And he rushed out. Simultaneously a cop rushed in and said a car stolen from downtown Denver was parked in the driveway. People discussed it in knots. From the window I saw Neal jump into the nearest car and roar off., and not a soul noticed him. A few minutes later he was back in an entirely different car, a brand new Plymouth. “This one is a real beaut!” he whispered in my ear. “The other one coughed too much---I left it at the crossroads…saw that lovely parked in front of a farmhouse. Took a spin in Denver. Come on man let’s ALL go riding.” All the bitterness and madness of his entire Denver life was blasting out of his system like daggers from his poors. His face was red and sweaty and mean. “No, I ain’t gonna have nothing to do with stolen cars.” “Aw come on man! Albert’ll come with me, won’t you Albert?” And Albert---a thin dark-haired holy-eyed moaning foaming lost soul---leaned on Neal and groaned and groaned for he was sick suddenly and for some odd intuitive reason he became terrified of Neal and threw up his hands and drew away with terror writhing in his face. Neal bowed his head and sweated. He ran out and drove away. Johnny and I found a cab in the driveway and decided to go home. As the cabby drove us home up the infinitely dark Alameda boulevard along

27 December 2008

knew these people from before and they trusted me enough to quiet down a bit. I took Neal by the arm and back we went over the moony corn-rows. “Woo-hee!” he yelled. “I’m gonna git drunk tonight.” We went back to Johnny and the kids. Suddenly Neal got mad at a record little Nancy was playing and broke it over his knee: it was a hillbilly record. There was an early Dizzy Gillespie there that he valued- -I’d given it to Nancy before- -and I told her as she wept to take it and break it over Neal’s head. She went over and did so. Neal gaped dumbly. We all laughed. Everything was all right. Then Johnny wanted to go out and drink beer in the roadhouse saloons. “Lessgo!” yelled Neal. “Now dammit if you’d bought that car I showed you Tuesday we wouldn’t have to walk. “I didn’t like that damn car!” yelled Johnny. Little Billy was frightened: I put him to sleep on the couch and trussed the dogs on him. Johnny drunkenly called a cab and suddenly while we were waiting for it a phonecall came for me from Clementine. Clementine had a middleaged boyfriend who hated my guts, naturally, and earlier that afternoon I had written a letter to Bill Burroughs who was now in Mexico City relating the adventures of Neal and I and under what circumstances we were staying in Denver. I wrote: “I’m staying with a woman and having a right good time.” I foolishly gave this letter to the middleaged boyfriend to mail, right after the fried chicken supper. He surreptitiously opened it, read it, and took it at once to Clementine to prove to her that I was a conman. Now she was calling me tearfully and saying she’d never want to see me again. Then the triumphant middleaged boyfriend got on the phone and began calling me a bastard. As the cab honked outside and the kids cried and the dogs barked and Neal danced with Johnny I yelled every conceivable curse I could think over that phone and added all kinds of new ones and in my drunken frenzy I told everybody over the phone to go to hell and slammed it down and went out to get drunk. We stumbled over each other to get out of the cab at the roadhouse---a hillbilly roadhouse near the hills---and went on and ordered beers. Everything was collapsing, and to make things inconceivably more frantic there was an ecstatic spastic fellow in the bar who threw

Friday, 26 December 2008

26 December 2008

many states we’ve been in together?” I got all joyful and began telling them the stories. I rejoined Neal in the late afternoon and we started out for Okie Johnny’s, up Broadway, where Neal suddenly sauntered into a sports goods store, calmly picking up a softball on the counter, and came out popping it up and down in his palm. Nobody noticed, nobody ever notices such things. It was a drowsy hot afternoon. We played catch as we went along. “We’ll get a Travel Bureau car for sure tomorrow.” Clementine had given me a big quart of Old Granddad Bourbon. We started drinking it at Johnny’s house. Across the cornfield in back lived a beautiful young chick that Neal had been trying to make ever since he arrived. Trouble was brewing. He threw too many pebbles in her window and frightened her. As we drank the bourbon in the littered livingroom with all its dogs and scattered toys and sad talk Neal kept running out the back kitchen door and crossing the cornfield to throw pebbles and whistle. Once in a while Nancy went out to peek. Suddenly Neal came back pale. “Trouble, m’boy. That gal’s mother is after me with a shotgun and she got a gang of hi school kids to beat me up from down the road.” “What’s this? Where are they?” “Across the cornfield m’boy.” Neal was drunk and didn’t care. We went out together and crossed the cornfield in the moonlight. I saw groups of people on the dark dirt road. “Here they come!” I heard. “Wait a minute” I said “What’s the matter please?” The mother lurked in the background with a big shotgun across her arm. “That damn friend of yours been annoying us long enough---I’m not the kind to call the law---if he comes back here once more I’m gonna shoot and shoot to kill.” The hischool boys were clustered with their fists knotted. I was so drunk I didn’t care either but I soothed everybody some. I said “He won’t do it again, I’ll watch him, he’s my brother and listens to me. Please put the gun away and don’t bother about anything.” “Just one more time!” she said firmly and grimly across the dark. “When my husband gets home I’m sending him after you.” “You don’t have to do that, he won’t bother you any more, understand, now be calm and it’s okay.” Behind me Neal was cursing under his breath. The girl was peeking from her bedroom window. I

Thursday, 25 December 2008

25 December 2008

arranged to meet me and Neal for an afternoon talk. He drove up in his frantic Oldsmobile with the powerful spotlight and stepped out, Panama-hatted and Palm-Beach suit, and said “Well well well, Happy New Year.” With him was Dan Burmeister a tall curly headed college boy who despised Neal and knew him from years back. Neal and Brierly met face to face for the first time since the evening in New York when Allen Ginsberg had bowed to his poetry. “Well Neal you look much older” said Brierly over his shoulder. “What have you been doing with yourself.” “Oh same old thing, you know. Now I wonder if you could drive me to St. Luke’s hospital so I could have this thumb looked after and you can have yr. talk with Jack.” “Why that’s fine” said Brierly. The idea had been for all of us to talk---and the idea of the thumb was new to me. Neal just didn’t want to bother, nor did Brierly. Child and master had come to the end of their road. Neal whispered in my ear “Have you noticed he has to wear dark glasses now to conceal those awful rings under his eyes, and how pale and watery they’ve become and sort of red and sickly?” I sat in my neutral position. When I was alone with Burmeister and Brierly they began dissecting Neal and asking me why I bothered with him. “I think he’s a great guy- -I know what you’re going to say---You know that I tried to straighten out my family---“ I didn’t know what to say. I felt like crying, Goddamit everybody in the world wants an explanation for your acts and for your very being. We switched the subject and talked of other things. Ed White was still in Paris, so was Bob Burford who’d sent for his Denver sweetheart to come and marry him there, and so was Frank Jeffries. “Jeffries is in the South of France living in a whore house, you know and having a very wonderful time. Of course Ed is amusing himself in the museums and elsewhere as ever.” They watched me keenly wondering what I had to do with Neal. “And how is Clementine?” they asked, slyly. “Someday Neal will prove himself to be a great man or a great idiot” I said. “My interest in Neal is the interest I might have had in my brother that dies when I was five years old to be utterly straight about it. We have a lot of fun together and our lives are fuckt up and so there it stands. Do you know how

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

24 December 2008

a lot of Mexican girls too and one amazing little girl about three feet hi, really a midget, with the most beautiful and tender face in the world who turned to her companion and said “Man let’s call up Gomez and get out.” Neal stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of her. A great knife stabbed him from the darkness of the night. “Man I love her, I love her..” We had to follow her around for a long time. She finally went across the hi way to make a phonecall in a motel booth and Neal pretended to be looking through the pages of the directory but was really all wound towards her. I tried to open up a conversation with the lovely-doll’s friends but they paid no attention to us. Gomez arrived in a rattly truck – just like Dah-you-Go Freddy in Freddy in Fresno- -and took the girls off. Neal stood in the road clutching his breast. “Oh man, I almost died..” “Why didn’t you talk to her?” “I can’t, I can’t…” We decided to buy some beer and go up to Okie Johnnie’s and play records. We hitched on the road with a bag of beercans. Little Nancy Johnny’s 14-yr-old dotter was the prettiest girl in the world and was about to grow up into a gone woman. Best of all were her long tapering sensitive fingers that she used to talk with. Neal sat in the furthest corner of the room watching her with slitted eyes and saying “Yes, yes, yes.” Nancy was aware of him; she turned to me for protection. Previous months of that summer I had spent a lot of time with her talking about books and little things she was interested in and to be utterly truthful the mother was harboring our marriage in her mind in a few future years. I would have liked the idea, too, the only thing wrong with it being I felt responsibility towards the whole family and of course I didn’t have the money to undertake any such mad scheme---the end would have been driving around the country in a trailer and working and my having a more mature relationship with the mother and a lovey-dovey one with the daughter. I wasn’t quite ready for the strain of real abysmal drowning in the pit of night which it would have been. Nothing happened that night; we went to sleep. Everything happened the next day. In the afternoon Neal and I went downtown Denver for our various chores and to see the Travel Bureau for a car to New York. I called Justin W. Brierly and he

Monday, 22 December 2008

23 December 2008

Then he made inquiries after Louanne, since she’d been in Denver recently. I sat over a glass of beer remembering Denver 1947 and wondering. Then Jack Daly arrived---a wiry curly-haired man of thirty five with work-gnarled hands. Neal stood in awe before him. “No,” said Jack Daly “I don’t drink any more.” “See? see?” whispered Neal in my ear “he doesn’t drink any more and he used to be the biggest whiskeyleg in town; he’s got religion now, he told me over the phone, dig him, dig the change in a man.. my hero has become so strange.” Jack Daly was suspicious of his young stepbrother. He took us out for a spin in his old rattly coupe and in the car first thing he made his position clear as regards Neal. “Now look Neal, I don’t believe you any more or anything you’re going to try and tell me---I came to see you tonight because there’s a paper I want you to sign for the family. Your father is no longer mentioned among us and we want absolutely nothing to do with him, and I’m sorry to say with you either any more.” I looked at Neal. His face dropped and darkened. “Yass, yass” he said. The brother condescended to drive us around and even bought us ice cream pops. Nevertheless Neal plied him with innumerable questions about the past and he supplied the answers and for a moment Neal almost began to sweat again with excitement. Oh where was his raggedy father that night? The brother dropped us off at the sad lights of a carnival on Alameda blvd. at Federal. He made an appointment with Neal for the paper-signing next afternoon and left. I told Neal I was sorry he had nobody in the world to believe him. “Remember that I believe in you. I’m infinitely sorry for the foolish grievance I held against you yesterday afternoon.” “Allright man, it’s agreed” said Neal. We dug the carnival together. There were merrygorounds, sad ferris wheels, popcorn, roulette wheels, sawdust and hundreds of young Denver kids in Levis wandering around. Dust rose to the stars together with every sad music on earth. Neal was wearing extremely tight Levis and a T. Shirt and looked suddenly like a real Denver character again. There were motorcycle kids with visors and mustaches and beaded jackets hanging around the shrouds in back of the tents with pretty girls in Levis and rose shirts. There were

22 December 2008

know what I was doing. Neal and I shook hands on the corner and made a meet for eight o’clock in the Glenarm bar, the old hangout near the poolhall. I went back to Clementine and told her I was leaving for NY that night. She made a tremendous fried chicken dinner and for desert strawberry pie with vanilla a la mode. I liked this woman and you can see why I owed her some attention. She was wise, too. “If you’re not really leaving for NY tonight come back any time and we’ll have a drink.” I rushed off guiltily. Things are so hard to figure when you live from day to day in this feverish and silly world. Neal was very excited that night because his brother Jack Daly was meeting us at the bar. He was wearing his best suit and beaming all over. “Now listen Jack, I must tell you about my brother Jack---he’s really my stepbrother, my mother’s son before she married Old Neal in Missouri.” “By the way have you looked for your father.” “This afternoon man I went down to Jigg’s buffet where he used to pour draft beer in tender befuddlement and get hell from the boss and go staggering out- -no, not there---Old fellow told me he thought he was- -Imagine!- - working in a railroad cookshack for the BOSTON & MAINE in New England! But I don’t believe him, they make up fractious stories for a dime. Now listen to hear. In my childhood Jack Daly my stepbrother was my absolute hero. He used to bootleg whiskey from the mountains and one time he had a tremendous fist fight with his other brother that lasted two hours in the yard and had the women screaming and terrified- --We used to sleep together. The one man in the family who took tender concern for me. And tonight I’m going to see him again for the first time in seven years, he just got back from Kansas City.” “And what’s the pitch?” “No pitch man, I only want to know what’s been happening in the family---I have a family, remember---and most particularly, Jack, I want him to tell me things that I’ve forgotten in my childhood, I want to remember, remember, I do!” I never saw Neal so glad and excited. While we waited for his brother in the bar he talked to a lot of younger Glenarm Denver downtown hustlers of the new day and checked on new gangs and goings-on.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

21 December 2008

at the woman’s house and drinking Scotch.) Neal immediately took over the responsibility of selecting and naming the price of the car, because of course he wanted to use it himself so as of yore he could pick up girls coming out of high school in the afternoons and drive them up to the mountains. Poor innocent Okie Johnny was always agreeable to anything. The following afternoon Neal called up from the country and said “Man I don’t want to bother you but I swear and swear my shoes are no longer wearable, I absolutely need another pair of shoes, what shall we do?” By a wonderful coincidence I had a pair of old shoes sitting around Clementine’s closet. I said to her, holding the phone, “Listen Neal absolutely needs shoes- -I’m going to give him the old pair. How about letting him come over and pick them up?” “No, definitely no” she said and how forewarned can you get but we agreed that I could meet him on the corner down the street and hand them over. “Yass, o yass” said Neal sensing all this, and he hitched in from the country and met me half an hour later on the corner. It was a beautiful warm sunny afternoon. I had also been dispatched to get a quart of vanilla ice cream for Clementine’s supper party with friends and came to Neal, whom I found playing baseball with a bunch of kids while he waited, carrying an old pair of shoes in a brown paper bag and a quart of vanilla ice cream. “There you are man---oh yes, oh yes vanilla ice cream, lemme taste.” I put the ice cream on the ground and began firing hard ones at the kid catcher, then I took over the catcher’s mitt and squatted by the lubrication pit of the gas station and Neal fired some in. We were having a great time. We showed the kids how to fashion curves and make them drop. Then we played high flies and Neal went scattering among the traffic of 27th St. with his thumb stuck breast-high like a shield and the glove upheld for the flyball that dribbled down through branches and leaves of high old trees. Suddenly I noticed the ice cream was melting. “Say Neal what am I, a con man? I think I’ll move in with you and Johnny tonight.” “Why of course man, what did you do it in the first place for?” “I thought I had some loyalty I owed Clementine---she gave me money to go to Frisco. I don’t know.” I didn’t

Saturday, 20 December 2008

20 December 2008

been neighbors of mine. The mother was a wonderful woman in jeans who drove trucks to support her kids, five in all, her husband having left her years before when they were traveling around the country in a trailer. They had rolled all the way from Indiana to LA in that trailer. After many a goodtime and a big Sunday afternoon drunk in crossroads bars and laughter and guitarplaying in the night the big lout had suddenly walked off across the dark field and never returned. Her children were wonderful. The eldest was a boy, who wasn’t around that summer but in a camp for delinquent kids in the mountains; next was a lovely 14-yr.-old daughter who wrote poetry and picked flowers in the fields and wanted to grow up and be an actress in Hollywood, Nancy by name; then came the little ones, little Billy who sat around the campfire at night and cried for his “Pee-tater” before it was half roasted and little Sally who made pets of worms, horny toads, beetles and anything that crawled and gave them names and places to live. They had four dogs. They lived their ragged and joyous lives on the little new-settlement street where my house had been and were the butt of the neighbor’s semi-respectable sense of propriety only because the poor woman’s husband had left her and because they littered up the yard like humans. At night all the lights of Denver lay like a great wheel on the plain below, for the house was in that part of the west where the mountains roll down foothilling to the plain and where in primeval times soft waves must have washed from sea-like Mississippi to make such round and perfect stools for the island-peaks like Berthoud and terrible Pike and Estes mount. Neal went there and of course he was all sweats and joy at the sight of them especially Nancy but I warned him not to touch her, and probably didn’t have to. The woman was a great man’s woman and took to Neal right away but she was bashful and he was bashful. The result was uproaring beerdrinking in the littered livinroom and music on the phonograph. The complications rose like clouds of butterflies: the woman, Johnny everyone called her, was finally about to buy a jalopy as she had been threatening to do for years, and had recently come into a few bucks towards one. (Meanwhile, remember, I was lolling

Friday, 19 December 2008

19 December 2008

suddenly Neal’s eyes grew tearful and he got up and left his food steaming there and walked out of the restaurant. I wondered if he was just wandering off forever. I didn’t care I was so mad---I had flipped and turned it down on Neal. But the sight of his uneaten food made me sadder than anything in years. “I shouldn’t have said that…he likes to eat so much…he’s never left his food like this..What the hell. That’s showing him anyway.” Neal stood outside the restaurant for exactly five minutes and then came back and sat down. “Well” I said “What were you doing out there?” Knotting up your fists, cursing me, thinking up new gags about my kidneys.” Neal mutely shook his head. “No man, no man, you’re all completely wrong. If you want to know, well---“ “Go ahead, tell me.” I said all this and never looked up from my food: I felt like a beast. “I was crying” said Neal. “Ah hell you never cry.” “You say that? Why do you think I don’t cry?” “You don’t die enough to cry.” Every one of these things I said was a knife at myself. Everything I had ever secretly held against Neal was coming out: how ugly I was and what filth I was discovering in the depths of my own impure psychologies. Neal was shaking his head, “No man, I was crying.” “Go on, I bet you were so mad you had to leave.” “Believe me, Jack, really do believe if you’ve ever believed anything about me.” I knew he was telling the truth and yet I didn’t want to bother with the truth and when I looked up at him I think I was cockeyed from cracked intestinal twistings in my awful soul. Then I knew I was wrong. “Ah manNealI’m sorry, I never acted this way before with you. Well now you know me. You know I don’t have close relationships with anybody much.. I don’t know what to do with these things. I hold things in my hand like they was pieces of turd and don’t know where to put it down. Let’s forget it.” The holy con man began to eat. “It’s not my fault! it’s not my fault!” I told him. “Nothing in this lousy world is my fault, don’t you see that? I don’t want it to be and it can’t be and it WON’T be.” “Yes man, yes man. But please harken back and believe me.” “I do believe you, I do.” This was the sad story of that afternoon. All kinds of tremendous complications arose that night when Neal went to stay with the Okie family. These had

Thursday, 18 December 2008

18 December 2008

or stay a few days for kicks and look for his father: we decided this. My idea was for Neal and I to live at the house of the woman who had given me the money to go to Frisco. But Justin Brierly knew we were coming through together and had already warned her against “Jack’s friend from Frisco” and so when I called on the phone first thing (from the gas station where we left off) she immediately made it known to me she wouldn’t have anything to do with Neal in her house. When I told Neal this he instantly realized he was back in the same old Denver that had never given him any quarter, for in Frisco at least he had found himself a hometown where he was treated like everyone else. In Denver his reputation was too much. I racked my brain fro what to do. I finally hit on the idea of having Neal stay at the home of some Okies I knew out on Alameda Blvd. where I had lived briefly with my family, and I would stay with the woman. A darkness came across Neal’s face, and from that moment on in Denver he reverted to his youthful days of violence and bitterness. It was him against Denver as long as we were there. When I finally understood this I left the woman’s house and went to live with Neal at the Okie woman’s house and even then my watchfulness had little effect. First things first: we decided before I went to the woman’s house to eat and have a last brief talk in a restaurant. We were both exhausted and dirty. In the john I was taking a leak in a urinal and stepped out before I was finished and aimed to the other urinal, momentarily halting the flow and saying to Neal “Dig this trick.” “Yes man it’s a very good trick but awful on your kidneys and because you’re getting a little older now everytime you do this eventually years of misery in your old age, awful kidney miseries for the days when you sit in parks.” It made me mad. “Who’s old? I’m not much older than you are!” “I wasn’t saying that, man!” “Ah shit,” I said “you’re always making cracks about my age. I’m no old fag like that sonofabitch, you don’t have to warn me about MY kidneys.” We went back to the booth and just as the waitress set down the hot roast beef sandwiches---and where ordinarily Neal would have leaped to wolfe the food at once---I said to cap my anger “And I don’t want to hear any more of it.”---and

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

17 December 2008

sleeping. His face was down on his good hand and the bandaged hand, automatically and dutifully remained in the air. The people in the front seat sighed with relief. I heard them whispering mutiny. “We can’t let him drive any more, he’s absolutely crazy, they must have let him out of an asylum or something.” I rose to Neal’s defense and leaned forward to talk to them. “He’s not crazy, he’ll be allright, and don’t worry about his driving, he’s the best in the world.” “I just can’t stand it” said the girl with a suppressed hysterical whisper. I sat back and enjoyed nightfall on the desert and waited for poorchild Angel Neal to wake up again. He woke up just as we were on a hill overlooking Salt Lake City’s neat patterns of light (the tourists wanted to see a famous hospital up there) and opened his eyes to the place in this spectral world where he was born unnamed and bedraggled years ago. “Jack, Jack, look, this is where I was born, think of it! People change, they eat meals year after year and change with every meal. EE! Look!” He was so excited it made me cry. Where would it all lead? The tourists insisted on driving the car the rest of the way to Denver. Okay, we didn’t care. We sat back and talked. In any case they got too tired in the morning and neal took the wheel in Eastern Colorado desert at Craig. We spent almost the entire night crawling cautiously over Strawberry Pass in Utah and lost immeasurable time. They went to sleep. Neal headed pell-mell for the mighty wall of Berthoud Pass that stood a hundred miles ahead on the roof of the world, a tremendous Gibraltarian door shrouded in clouds. He took Berthoud Pass like a duck on a June bug---same as Tehatchapi, cutting off the motor, floating it, passing everybody and never halting the rhythmic advance that the mountains themselves intended, till we overlooked the great hot plain of Denver again---as I’d first seen it after Central City with the kids---and Neal was home. It was with great deal of silly relief that these people let us off the car at the corner of 27th and Federal. Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. Now we had a number of circumstances to deal with in Denver and they were of an entirely different order than 1947. We could either get another TB car at once

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

16 December 2008

remonstration, and now we really traveled. We left Sacramento at dawn and were crossing the Nevada desert by noon after a hurling passage of the Sierras that made the fag and the tourists cling to each other in the backseat. We were in front, we took over. Neal was happy again. All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road. He talked about how bad a driver Bill Burroughs was and to demonstrate---“Whenever a huge big truck like that one coming loomed into sight it would take Bill infinite time to spot it, cause he couldn’t SEE, man he can’t SEE—2---“he rubbed his eyes furious to show----“And I’d say whoop, lookout, Bill a truck, and he’d say ‘Eh? What’s that you say Neal?’ ‘Truck! truck!’ and at the VERY last MOMENT he would go up to the truck like this”---and Neal hurled the Plymouth head-on at the truck roaring our way, wobbled and hovered in front of it a moment, the truckdriver’s face growing white before our eyes, the people in the backseat subsiding in gasps of horror, and swung away at the last moment- “like that you see, exactly like that, that’s how bad he was.” I wasn’t scared at all: I knew Neal. The people in the backseat were speechless. In fact they were afraid to complain: God knows what Neal would do, they thought, if they should ever complain. He balled right across the desert in this manner, demonstrating various ways of how not to drive, how his father used to drive jalopies, how great drivers made curves, how bad drivers hove over too far in the beginning and had to scramble at the curve’s end, and so on. It was a hot sunny afternoon. Reno, Battle Mountain, Elko, all the towns along the Nevada road shot by one after another and at dusk we were in the Salt Lake flats with the lights of Salt Lake City infinitesimally glimmering almost a hundred miles across the mirage of the flats, twice-showing, above and below the curve of the earth, one clear, one dim. I told Neal that the thing that bound us all together in this world was invisible: and to prove it pointed to long lines of telephone poles that curved off out of sight over the bend of a hundred miles of salt. His floppy bandage, all dirty now, shuddered in the air; his face was a light---“Oh yes man, dear God, yes, yes!” Suddenly he collapsed. I turned and saw him huddled in the corner of the seat

Sunday, 14 December 2008

15 December 2008

to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, a false really false expression of concern and even dignity and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that TOO worries them NO End. Listen! listen! ‘Well now’ he mimicked ‘I don’t knaow---maybe we shouldn’t get gas in that station, I read recently in a Petroleum magazine that this kind of gas has a great deal of GOOK in it and someone once told me it even had LOON in it and I don’t knaow, well I just don’t feel like it anyway…’ Man you dig all this”---he was poking me furiously in the ribs to understand. I tried my wildest best. Bing, bang, it was all Yes Yes Yes in the backseat and the people up front were mopping their brows with fright and wishing they’d never picked us up at Travel Bureau. It was only the beginning too. After a wasted night in Sacramento the fag slyly bought a room in a hotel and invited Neal and I to come up for a drink, while the couple went to sleep at relatives, and in the hotel room Neal tried everything in the books to get money from the fag, submitting finally to his advances while I hid in the bathroom and listened. It was insane. The fag began by saying he was very glad we had come along because he liked young men like us, and would we believe it but he really didn’t like girls and had recently concluded an affair with a man in Frisco in which he had taken the male role and the man the female role. Neal plied him with businesslike questions and nodded eagerly. The fag said he would like nothing better but to know what Neal thought about all this. Warning him first that he had once been a hustler in his youth, Neal proceeded to handle the fag like a woman, tipping him over legs in the air and gave him a monstrous huge banging. I was so non-plussed all I could do was sit and stare from my corner. And after all that trouble the fag turned over no money to us, tho he made vague promises for Denver, and on top of that he became extremely sullen and I think suspicious of Neal’s final motives. He kept counting his money and checking on his wallet. Neal threw up his hands and gave up. “You see man, it’s better not to bother. Give them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.” But he had sufficiently conquered the owner of the Plymouth to take over the wheel without

14 December 2008

going east; we were excited. “Let me tell you more” I said “and only as a parenthesis within what you’re saying and to conclude my last thought…As a child lying back in my father’s car in the back seat I also had a vision of myself on a white horse riding alongside over every possible obstacle that presented itself: this included dodging posts, hurling around houses, sometimes jumping over when I looked too late, running over hills, across sudden squares with traffic that I had to dodge thru incredibly…” “Yes! yes! yes! breathed Neal ecstatically “only difference with me was, I myself ran, I had no horse, you were a eastern kid and dreamed of horses, of course we won’t assume such things as we both know they are really dross and literary ideas, but merely, that I in my perhaps wilder schizophrenia actually RAN on foot along the car and at incredible speeds sometimes ninety making it over every bush and fence and farmhouse and sometimes taking quick dashes to the hills and back without losing a moment’s ground..” We were telling these things and both sweating. We had completely forgotten the people up front who had begun to wonder what was going on in the beackseat. At one point the driver said “For God’s sakes you’re rocking the boat back there.” Actually we were, the acr was swaying as Neal and I both swayed to the rhythm and the IT of our final excited joy in talking and living to the blank tranced end of all particulars that had been lurking in our souls all our lives. “Oh man! man! man!” moaned Neal “And it’s not even the beginning of it…and now here we are at last going East together, we’ve never gone East together Jack, think of it, we’ll dig Denver together and see what everybody’s doing although that matters little to us the point being that we know what IT is and we know TIME and we know that everything is really fine.” Then he whispered, clutching my sleeve, sweating: “Now you just dig them in front..They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there…and all the time they’ll get there anyway you see. But they need to worry, their souls really won’t be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions

Saturday, 13 December 2008

13 December 2008

was a kid and rode in cars I used to imagine I held a big scythe in my hand and cut down all the trees and posts and even sliced every hill that zoomed past the window. “Yes! yes!” Yelled Neal. “I used to do it too only different scythe - -tell you why. Driving across the west with the long stretches my scythe had to be immeasurably longer and it had to curve over distant mountains slicing off their tops and reach another level to get at further mountains and at the same time clip off every post along the road, regular throbbing poles. For this reason---O man I have to tell you, NOW, I have IT, I have to tell you the time my father and I and a raggedy bum from Larimer street took a trip to Nebraska in the middle of the depression to sell flyswatters. And how we made them, we bought pieces of ordinary regular old screen and pieces of wire that we twisted double and little pieces of blue and red cloth to sew around the edges and all of it for a matter of cents in a Five and Ten and made thousands of flyswatters and got in the old bum’s jalopy and went clear around Nebraska to every farmhouse and sold them for a nickel apiece- -mostly for charity the nickels were given to us, two bums and a boy, apple pies in the sky and my old man in those days was always singing Hallejuh I’m a Bum, Bum Again. And man now listen to this after two whole weeks of incredible hardship and bouncing around and hustling in the heat to sell these awful makeshift flyswatters they started to argue about the division of the proceeds and had a big fight on the side of the road and then made up and bought wine and began drinking wine and didn’t stop for five days and five nights while I huddle and cry in the background and when they were finished every last cent was spent and we were right back where we started from, Larimer street. And my old man was arrested and I had to plead at court to the judge to let him go ’cause he was my Pa and I had no mother, Jack I made great mature speeches at the age of eight in front of interested lawyers and that’s when Justin Brierly first heard of me because then he was just beginning to take interest in founding a special juvenile court with particular humane emphasis on the problems of beat children in and around Denver and the Rocky Mountain district…” We were hot; we were

12 December 2008

a regular route and you can hail it from any corner and ride to any corner you want for about fifteen cents, cramped in with other passengers like on a bus but talking and telling jokes like in a private car. Mission street that last day in Frisco was a great riot of construction work, children playing, whooping Negroes coming home from work, dust, excitement, the great buzzing and vibrating hum of what is really America’s most excited city---and overhead the pure blue sky and the joy of the foggy sea that always rolls in at night to make everybody hungry for food and further excitement. I hated to leave; my stay lasted sixty odd hours. With frantic Neal I was rushing through the world without a chance to see it. In the afternoon we were buzzing towards Sacramento and eastward again. The car belonged to a tall thin fag who was on his way home to Kansas and wore dark glasses and drove with extreme care; the car was what Neal called a “fag Plymouth,” it had no pickup and no real power. “Effeminate car!” whispered Neal in my ear. There were two other passengers, a couple, typical halfway tourists who wanted to stop and sleep everywhere. The first stop would have to be Sacramento which wasn’t even the faintest beginning of the trip to Denver. Neal and I sat alone in the backseat and left it up to them and talked. “Now man that alto man last night had IT---he held it once he found---I’ve never seen a guy who could hold so long.” I wanted to know what “IT” meant. “Ah well” laughed Neal “now you’re asking me im-pon-de-rables - -ahem! Here’s a guy and everybody’s there, right? Up to him to put down what’s on everybody’s mind. He starts the first chorus, he lines up his ideas, people yeah, yeah but get it, and then he rises to his fate and has to blow equal to it. All of a sudden somewhere in the middle of the chorus he GETS IT---everybody looks up and knows; they listen; he picks it up and carries. Time stops. He’s filling empty space with the substance of our lives. He has to blow across bridges and come back and do it with such infinite feeling for the tune of the moment that everybody knows it’s not the tune the tune that counts but IT---“ Neal could go no further; he was sweating telling about it. Then I began talking; I never talked so much in all my life. I told Neal that when I

Thursday, 11 December 2008

11 December 2008

lowed them awhile. We had to sleep: Helen Hinkle was out of the question. Neal knew a railroad brakeman called Henry Funderbunk who lived with his father in a hotel room on 3rd street. Originally he’d been on good terms with them but lately not so, and the idea was for me to try persuading them to let us sleep on their floor. It was horrible. I had to call from a morning diner. The old man answered the phone suspiciously. He remembered me from what his son had told him. To our surprise he came down to the lobby and let us in. It was just a sad old brown Frisco hotel. We went upstairs and the old man was kind enough to give us the entire bed. “I have to get up anyway” he said and retired to the little kitchenette to brew coffee. He began telling stories about his railroading days. He reminded me of my father. I stayed up and listened to the stories. Neal, not listening was washing his teeth and bustling around and saying “Yes that’s right,” to everything he said. Finally we slept; and in the morning Henry came back from the Bakersfield run and took the bed as Neal and I got up. Now old Mr Funderbunk dolled himself up for a date with his middleaged sweetheart. He put on a green tweed suit, a cloth cap same material, and stuck a flower in his lapel. “These romantic old brokendown Frisco brakemen live sad but eager lives of their own” I told Neal in the toilet. “It was very kind of him to let us sleep here.” “Yass, yeass” said Neal not listening. He rushed out to get a Travel Bureau car. My job was to hurry to Helen Hinkle’s for our bags. She was sitting on the floor with her fortunetelling cards. “Well goodbye Helen and I hope everything works out fine.” “When Al gets back I’m going to take him to Jackson’s Hole every night and let him get his fill of madness. Do you think that’ll work Jack? I don’t know what to do.” “What do the cards say?” “The ace of spades is far away from him. The heart cards always surround him - - the queen of hearts is never far. See this jack of spades? - - that’s Neal, he’s always around.” “Well we’re leaving for New York in an hour.” “Someday Neal’s going to go on one of these trips and never come back.” She let me take a shower and shave and then I said goodbye and took the bags downstairs and hailed a Frisco taxi-bus, which is an ordinary taxi that runs

10 December 2008

in the tenements in the back of Howard. His wife was asleep when we came in. The only light in the apartment was the bulb over her bed. We had to get up on a chair and unscrew the bulb as she lay smiling beneath us. She was about 15 years older than Walter and the sweetest woman in the world. Then we had to plug in the extension over her bed and she smiled and smiled. She never asked Walter where he’d been, what time it was, nothing. Finally we were set in the kitchen with the extension and sat down around the humble table to drink beer and tell the stories. We told Walter to tell us his story. He said he was in a whore house in LA where they had a monkey at the entrance that you had to place a bet with and if you lost the monkey gave it to you up the back. If you won the girl was yours for free. He insisted this was a true story. “That monkey” he said “ain’t never seen such a monkey. Place the bet in the cage, you know and monkey roll the cage and dice come out. Man lose a bet to that monkey and gets himself britched. I ain’t telling you no lie. That’s the monkey.” Neal and I were delighted with the story. Then it was time to leave and move the extension back to the bedroom and screw back the bulb. Walter’s wife smiled and smiled as we repeated the thing all over again. She never said a word. Out on the dawn street Neal said “Now you see, man, there’s a REAL woman for you. Never a harsh word, never a complaint, her old man can come in any hour of the night with anybody and have talks in the kitchen and drink the beer and leave any old time. This is a man, and that’s his castle.” He pointed up at the tenement proudly. We stumbled off. The big night was over. A cruising car followed us suspiciously for a few blocks. We bought fresh buns in a bakery and ate them in the gray ragged street. A tall bespectacled well-dressed fellow came stumbling down the street with a Negro in a truckdriving cap. They were a strange pair. A big truck rolled by and the Negro pointed at it excitedly and tried to express his feeling. The tall white man furtively looked over his shoulder and counted his money. “It’s Bill Burroughs!” giggled Neal. “Counting his money and worried about everything, and all that other boy wants to do is talk about trucks and things he knows.” We fol-

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

09 December 2008

Francisco alto man who waited with me while Neal made a phone call in a saloon to have Bill Tomson pick us up. It wasn’t anything much, we were just talking, except that suddenly we saw very strange and insane sight. It was Neal. He wanted to give Bill Tomson the address of the bar so he told him to hold the line for a minute and ran out to see, and to do this he had to rush pell-mell through a long bar of brawling drinkers in white shirts, go to the middle of the street and look at the post signs. He did this, crouched low to the ground like Groucho Marx, his feet carrying him with amazing swiftness and came out of the bar like an apparition with his balloon thumb stuck up in the night and came to whirling stop in the middle of the road looking everywhere above him for the signs. They apparently were hard to see in the dark and he spun a dozen times in the road, thumb upheld, in a wild anxious silence. So anybody coming along the street would see this: a wild-haired person with a ballooning thumb held up like a great goose of the sky spinning and spinning in the dark, the other hand distractedly inside his pants. Ed Saucier was saying “I blow a sweet tone wherever I go and if people don’t like it ain’t nothing I can do it about it. Say man, that buddy of yours is a crazy cat, looka him over there” ---and we looked. There was a big silence everywhere as Neal saw the signs and rushed back in the bar practically going under someone’s legs as they came out and gliding so fast through the bar a second time that everybody had to make double to see him. A moment later Bill Tomson showed up and with the same amazing swiftness Neal glided across the street and into the cardoor without a sound. We were off again. “Now Bill I know you’re all hungup with your wife about this thing but we absolutely must make Thornton and Gomez in the incredible time of three minutes or everything is lost. Ahem! Yes! (cough cough) In the morning Jack and I are leaving for NY and this is absolutely our last night of kicks and I know you won’t mind.” No, Bill Tomson didn’t mind: he only drove through every red light he could find and hurried us along in our foolishness. At dawn he went back to bed. Neal and I ended up with a colored guy called Walter who invited us to his home for a bottle of beer. He lived

Monday, 8 December 2008

08 December 2008

audience (which was just people laughing at a dozen tables, the room thirty by thirty feet and low ceiling) and he never stopped. He was very simple in his ideas. Ideas meant nothing to him. What he liked was the surprise of a new simple variation of a chorus. He’d go from…”ta-tup-tader-rara…ta-tup-tade-rara”…repeating and hopping to it and kissing and smiling into his horn---and then to “ta-tup-EE-da-de-dera-RUP! ta-tup-EE-da-de-dera-RUP!” and it was all great moments of laughter and understanding for him and everyone else who heard. His tone was clear as a bell, high, pure, and blew straight in our faces from two feet away. Neal stood in front of him oblivious to everything else in the world with his head bowed, his hands socking in together, his whole body jumping on his heels and the sweat, always the sweat pouring and splashing down his tormented collar to literally lie in a pool at his feet. Helen and Julie were there and it took us five minutes to realize it. Whoo, Frisco nights, the end of the continent and the end of doubt, all dull doubt and tomfoolery, goodbye. Lampshade was roaring around with his trays of beer: everything he did was in rhythm: he yelled at the waitress with the beat: “Hey now babybaby, make a way, make a way, it’s Lampshade coming your way” and he hurled by her with the beers in the air and roared through the swinging doors in the kitchen and dance with the cooks and come sweating back. Connie Jordan sat absolutely motionless at a corner table with an untouched drink in front of him, staring gook-eyed into space, his hands hanging at his sides till they almost touched the floor, his feet outspread like lolling tongues, his body shriveled into absolute weariness and entranced sorrow and what-all was on his mind: a man who knocked himself out every evening and let the others put the quietus to him in the night. Everything swirled around him like clouds. And that little grandmother’s alto, that little Allen Ginsberg hopped and monkeydanced with his magic horn and blew two hundred choruses of blues each one more frantic than the other and no signs of failing energy or willingness to call anything a day. The whole room shivered. It has since been closed down, naturally. On the corner of Fifth and Howard an hour later I stood with Ed Saucier a San

Sunday, 7 December 2008

07 December 2008

didn’t care. He smiled joyously into space and kept the beat, tho softly, and with bop subtleties, a giggling rippling background for big solid foghorn blues the boys were blowing unawares of him. The big Negro bullneck drummer sat waiting for his turn. “What that man doing?” he said. “Play the music!” he said. “What in hell!” he said. “Shh-ee-eet!” and looked away disgusted. Freddy’s boy showed up: he was a taut little Negro with a great big Cadillac. We all jumped in. He hunched over the wheel and blew the car clear across Frisco without stopping once, seventy miles per, right through traffic and nobody even noticed him he was so good. Neal was in ecstasies. “Dig this guy, man! dig the way he sits there and don’t move a bone and just balls that jack and can talk all night while he’s doing it, only thing is he doesn’t bother with talking, he lets freddy do that, and Freddy’s his boy and tells him about life, listen to them, O man the things, the things I could---I wish---O yes…let’s go, let’s not stop, Go now! Yes!” And Freddy’s boy wound around a corner and bowled us right in front of Jackson’s Hole and was parked. A cab pulled up: out of it jumped a skinny withered little Negro preacherman who threw a dollar at the cabby and yelled “Blow!” and ran into the club pulling on his coat (just come out of work) and dashed right through the downstairs bar yelling “Go, go, go!” and stumbled upstairs almost falling on his face and blew the door open and fell into the jazzsession room with his hands out to support him against anything he might fall on, and he fell right on Lampshade who was reduced to working as a waiter in Jackson’s Hole this season, and the music was there blasting and blasting and he stood transfixed in the open door screaming “Go man go!” And the man was a little short Negro with an alto horn that Neal said obviously lived with his grandmother just like Jim Holmes, slept all day and blew all night and blew a hundred choruses before he was he was ready to jump for fair, and that’s what he was doing. “It’s Allen Ginsberg!” screamed Neal above the fury. And it was. This little grandmother’s boy with the taped up alto had beady glittering eyes, small crooked feet, spindly legs and he hopped and flopped with his horn and threw his feet around and kept his eyes transfixed on the

Saturday, 6 December 2008

06 December 2008

we were dealing with the pit and the prunejuice of poor beat life itself in the Godawful streets of man, so he said and sang it, “Close---your----” and blew it way up to the ceiling and threw to the stars and on up---“Ey-y-y-y-y-y-es” and staggered off the platform to brood. He sat in the corner with a bunch of boys and paid no attention to them. He looked down and wept. He was the greatest. Neal and I went over to talk to him. We invited him out to the car. In the car he suddenly yelled “Yes! ain’t nothing I like better than good kicks! Where do we go?” Neal jumped up and down in the seat giggling maniacally. “Later! later!” said Freddy. “I’ll get my boy to drive us down to Jackson’s Hole, I got to sing. Man I live to sing. Been singing Close Your Eyes for two weeks- -I don’t want to sing nothing else. What are you boys up to?” We told him we were going to New York in two days. “Lord, I ain’t never been there and they tell me it’s real jumping town but I ain’t got no cause complaining where I am. I’m married you know.” “Oh yes?” said Neal lighting up. “And where is the darling tonight.” “What do you mean” said Freddy looking at him out of the corner of his eye. “I tole you I was married to her didn’t I?” “Oh yes, Oh yes” blushed Neal. “I was just asking. Maybe she has friends? Or sisters? A ball, you know, I’m just looking for a ball.” “Yah, what good’s a ball, life’s too sad to be balling all the time” said Freddy lowering his eye to the street. “Shh-eee-it!” he said. “I ain’t got no money and I don’t care tonight.” We went back in for more. The girls were so disgusted with Neal and I for gunning off and jumping around that they had left and gone to Jackson’s hole on foot; the car wouldn’t run anyway. We saw a horrible sight in the bar: a white hipster fairy had come in wearing a Hawaiian shirt and was asking the big drummer if he could sit in. The musicians looked at his shirt suspiciously. “Do you blow?” He said he did, mincing. They looked at each other and said “Yeah, yeah, that’s what the man does, shh-eee-eet!” So the fairy sat down at the tubs and they started the beat of a jump number and he began stroking the snares with soft goofy bop brushes, swaying his neck with that complacent Reichianalyzed ecstasy that doesn’t mean anything except too much T and soft foods and goofy kicks on the cool order. But he

Friday, 5 December 2008

05 December 2008

to understand more and much more than there was, and they began duelling for this; everything came out of the horn, no more phrases, just cries, cries, “Baugh” and down to “Beep!” and up to “EEEEE!” and down to clinkers and over to sideways echoing horn-sounds. He tried everything, up, down, sideways, upside down, horizontal, thirty degrees, forty degrees and finally he fell back in somebody’s arms and gave up and everybody pushed around and yelled “Yes! Yes! He blowed that one!” Neal wiped himself with his handkerchief. Then up stepped Freddy on the bandstand and asked for a slow beat and looked sadly out the open door over people’s heads and began singing “Close Your Eyes.” Things quieted down a minute. Freddy wore a tattered suede jacket, a purple shirt, cracked shoes and zoot pants without press: he didn’t care. He looked like a Negro Hunkey. His big brown eyes were concerned with sadness, and the singing of songs slowly and with long thoughtful pauses. But in the second chorus he got excited and grabbed the mike and jumped down from the bandstand and bent to it. To sing a note he had to touch his shoe-tops and pull it all up to blow, and he blew so much he staggered from the effect, and only recovered himself in time for the next long slow note. “Mu-u-u-u-sic pla-a-a-a-a-a-ay!” he leaned back with his face to the ceiling, mike held at his fly. He shook, he swayed. Then he leaned in almost falling with his face against the mike. “Ma-a-a-ake it dream-y for dan-cing”---and he looked at the street outside with his lips curled in scorn---“while we go ro-man-n-n-cing” he staggered sideways----“Lo-o-o-ove’s holi-da-a-ay”---he shook his head with disgust and weariness at the whole world----“Will make it seem”---what would it make it seem?---everybody waited, he mourned--- “O---kay.” The piano hit a chord. “So baby come on just clo-o-oose your ey-y-y-y-y-yes”---his mouth quivered, he looked at us, Neal and I, with an expression that seemed to say “Hey now, what’s this thing we’re all doing in this sad brown world”---and then he came to the end of his song, and for this there had to be elaborate preparations during which time you could send all the messages to Garcia around the world twelve times and what difference did it make to anybody because here

Thursday, 4 December 2008

04 December 2008

was raising himself from a crouch and going down again with his horn, looping it up in a clear cry above the furor. A six foot skinny Negro woman was rolling her bones at the man’s hornbell, and he just jabbed it at her, “Ee! Ee! Ee!” He had a foghorn tone; his horn was taped; he was a shipyard worker and he didn’t care. Everybody was rocking and roaring. Helen and Julie with beer in their hands were standing on their chairs shaking and jumping. Groups of colored guys stumbled in from the street falling over each other to get there. “Stay with it man!” roared a man with a foghorn voice, and let out a big groan that must have been heard clear out in Sacramento, ah-haa! “Whoo!” said Neal. He was rubbing his chest, his belly, the sweat splashed down from his face. Boom, kick, that drummer was kicking his drums down the cellar and rolling the beat upstairs with his murderous sticks, rattlety boom! A big fat man was jumping on the platform making it sag and creak. “Yoo!” The pianist was only pounding the keys with spreadeagled fingers, chords, at intervals when the great tenorman was drawing breath for another blast, Chinese chords, shuddering the piano in every timber, chink and wire, boing! The tenorman jumped down from the platform and just stood in the crowd blowing around; his hat was over his eyes; somebody pushed it back for him. He just hauled back and stamped his foot and blew down a hoarse, baughing blast, and drew breath, and raised the horn and blew high wide and screaming in the air. Neal was directly in front of him with his face lowered to the bell of the horn, clapping his hands, pouring sweat on the man’s keys, and the man noticed and laughed in his horn a long quivering crazy laugh and everybody else laughed and they rocked and rocked; and finally the tenorman decided to blow his top and crouched down and held a note in high C for a long time as everything else crashed along and the cries increased and I thought the cops would come swarming from the nearest precinct. It was just a usual Saturday night goodtime, nothing else. The clock on the wall quivered and shook; nobody cared about that thing. Neal was in a trance. The tenorman’s eyes were fixed straight on him; he had found a madman who not only understood but cared and wanted

03 December 2008

about it. “Ah man don’t worry, everything is perfect and fine.” He was rubbing his belly and licking his lips. The girls came down and we started out on our big night, once more pushing the car down the street till we had it running so fast it got away from us and the girls didn’t come back till they hailed a car willing to push them back to us wandering around laughing in the dark. “Wheeoo! let’s go!” cried Neal, and we jumped in the back seat and clanked to Howard Street, meanwhile hiding so the fellows who were pushing the girls and had come around the corner to find them again would push us all the way to Howard street thinking they had a chance for dates. They were disappointed when the motor started up and Julie made a few fast turns and got us to Howard street minus the boys. Out we jumped in the warm mad night hearing a wild tenorman bawling horn across the way going “EE-YAH! EE-YAH! EE-YAH!” and hands clapping to the beat and folks yelling “Go, go, go!” far from escorting the girls into the place Neal was already racing across the street with his thumb in the air yelling “Blow, man, blow!” A bunch of colored men in Saturday night suits were whopping it up in front. It was a sawdust saloon, all wood, with a small bandstand near the john on which the fellows huddled with their hats on blowing over people’s heads, a crazy place, not far from Market street, in the dingy back of it, near Mission and the big bridge causeway; crazy floppy women wandered around sometimes in their bathrobes, bottles clanked in alleys. In back of the joint in a dark corridor beyond the splattered toilets scores of men and women stood against the wall drinking wine-bolly-olly and spitting at the stars. The behatted tenorman was blowing at the peak of a wonderfully satisfactory free idea, a rising and falling riff that went from “EE-yah!” to a crazier “EE-de-lee-yah!”and blasted along to the rolling crash of butt-scarred drums hammered by a big brutal Negro with a bullneck who didn’t give a damn about anything but punishing his tubs, crash, rattle-ti-boom crash. Uproars of music and the tenorman had it and everybody knew he had it. Neal was clutching his head in the crowd and it was a mad crowd. They were all urging that tenorman to hold it and keep it with the cries and wild eyes; and he

02 December 2008

knowing? He tried all in his power to tell me what he was knowing, and they envied that about me, my position at his side, defending him and drinking him in as they once tried to do. Then they looked at me. What was I, a stranger, doing on the West Coast this fair night. I recoiled from the thought. “We’re going to Italy” I said; I washed my hands of the whole matter. Then too there was a strange air of maternal satisfaction in the air, for the girls were really looking at Neal like a mother looks at the most dearest and errant child, and he with his sad thumb and all his revelations knew it well and that was why he was able, in breathless silence, to get up from the chair, stand a moment, and walk out of the apartment without a word, to wait for us downstairs as soon as we’d made up our minds about TIME. This was what we sensed about the ghost on the sidewalk. I looked out the window. He was alone in the doorway digging the street. Bitterness, recriminations, advice, morality, sadness, it was all behind him and ahead of him was the ragged and ecstatic joy of pure being. “Come on Helen, Julie, let’s go hit the jazz joints and forget it. Neal will be dead someday. Then what can you say to him.” “The sooner he’s dead the better” said Helen, and she spoke officially for almost everyone in the room. “Very well then” I said, “but now he’s alive and I’ll bet you want to know what he does next and that’s because he’s got the secret that we’re all busting to find and he’s got splitting his head wide open and if he goes mad don’t worry it won’t be your fault but the fault of God.” They objected to this; they said I really didn’t know Neal; they said he was the worst scoundrel that ever lived and I’d find out someday to my regret. I was amused to hear them protest so much. Bill Tomson rose to the defense of the ladies and said he knew Neal better than anybody, and all Neal was, was just a very interesting and even amusing conman, and Ah but that was a bit too thick for me because if you’re going to be respectable be so, and if not, don’t be so, and make no halfway bones about it, and this I sought to say. It was a dig at their shoddy routines and cons, past and present, which fortunately they didn’t get and where did I stand but on the verge of the moon, why talk? I went out to find Neal and we had a brief talk

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

01 December 2008

she wants you back, she said she never wanted to see you again and she said it was to be final this time. Yet you stand here and make silly faces and I don’t think there’s a care in your heart.” This was not true, I knew better and I could have told them all right there. I didn’t see any sense in trying it. These accusations were the same that had been levelled at me many a time in my own life in the east. I longed to go and put my arm around Neal and say “Now look here all of you, remember just one thing, this guy has his troubles too and another thing he never complains and he’s given all of you a damned good time just being himself and if that isn’t enough for you then send him to the firing squad, that’s apparently what you’re itching to do anyway..” Nevertheless Helen Hinkle was the only one in the gang who wasn’t afraid of Neal and who could sit there calmly, with her face hanging out, telling him off in front of everybody. There were earlier days in Denver when Neal had everybody sit in the dark with their girls and just talked- -and talked- -and talked---with a voice that was once hypnotic and strange and was said to make the girls come across by sheer force of persuasion and the content of what he said. This was when he was fifteen, sixteen. Now his disciples were married and the wives of his disciples had him on the carpet for the sexuality and the life he had helped burgeon---this may be a little thick. I listened further. “Now you’re going east with Jack and what do you think you’re going to accomplish by that? Carolyn has to stay home and mind the baby now you’re gone---how can she keep her dentist job---and she never wants to see you again and I don’t blame her. If you see Al along the road you tell him to come back to me or I’ll kill him.” Just as flat as that. It was the saddest and sweetest night. Then a complete silence fell over everybody and when once Neal would have talked his way out, he now just fell silent himself, but standing, in front of everybody, in full sight, ragged and broken and idiotic, right under the lightbulbs, his bony mad face covered with sweat and throbbing veins, saying “Yes, yes, yes” as though tremendous revelations were pouring into him all the time now, and I am convinced they were, and the others suspected as much and were frightened. What was he

30 November 2008

at the starter. I heard them giggle about me “Jack’s just come in from a long trip---he has to be relieved.” We went to Helen’s and there everybody sat around---Julie, her daughter, Helen, Bill Tomson, Helena Tomson---all sullen in the overstuffed furniture as I stood in a corner neutral in Frisco problems and Neal stood in the middle of the room with his balloon-thumb in the air breast-high, giggling. “Gawd damn” he said “we’re all losing our fingers…hawr hawr hawr.” “Neal why do you act so foolish?” said Helen. “Carolyn called and said you left her. Don’t you realize you have a daughter.” “he didn’t leave her, she kicked him out!” I said breaking my neutrality. They all gave me dirty looks; Neal grinned. “And with that thumb what do you expect the poor guy to do.” I added. They all looked at me: particularly Helena Tomson lowered a mean gaze on my flesh. It wasn’t anything but a sewing circle and the center of it was the culprit, Neal---responsible perhaps for everything that was wrong. I looked out the window at the buzzing night-street of Mission; I wanted to get going and hear the great jazz of Frisco, and remember this was only my second night in town, everything had happened aheap. “I think Louanne was very wise leaving you Neal. For years now you haven’t any sense of responsibility for anyone. You’ve done so many awful things I don’t know what to say to you.” And in fact that was the point and they all sat around just looking at Neal with lowered and hating eyes and he just stood on the carpet in the middle of them and giggled---he merely giggled. He made a little dance. His bandage was getting dirtier all the time, it began to flop and unroll. I suddenly realized that Neal was by virtue of his enormous series of sins becoming the Idiot…the Imbecile…the Saint of the Lot. “You have absolutely no regard for anybody but yourself and your damned kicks. All you think about is what’s hanging between your legs and how much money or fun you can get out of people and then you throw them aside…Not only that but you’re silly about it. It never occurs to you that life is serious and there are people trying to make something decent out of it instead of just goofing all the time.” That’s what Neal was, the HOLY GOOF. “Carolyn is crying her heart out tonight but don’t think for a minute

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

29 November 2008

“Paris---“. I took one last look at Marin City and I knew there was no sense trying to dig up the involved past; instead we decided to go see Helen Hinkle about sleeping accommodations. Al had left her again, was in Denver, and damned if she still didn’t plot to get him back. We found her sitting on the Oriental-type rug of her fourroom tenement flat on upper Mission crosslegged with a deck of fortune cards. I saw sad signs that Al Hinkle had lived here a while and then left out of stupors and disinclinations only. “He’ll come back” said Helen “that guy can’t take care of himself without me---it was Jim Holmes who did it this time.” She gave a furious look at Neal and Bill Tomson. “All the time before he came Al was perfectly happy and worked and we went out and had wonderful times. Neal you know that. Then they’d sit in the bathroom for hours, Al in the bathtub and Holmes on the seat and talk and talk and talk---such silly things.” Neal laughed. For years he was the chief prophet of that gang and now they were learning his technique. Jim Holmes had grown a beard and his big sorrowful blue eyes had come looking for Al Hinkle in Frisco; what happened, he (actually and no lie) had his small finger amputated in a Denver mishap and collected a goodly sum of money. For no reason under the sun they decided to give Helen the slip and go to Maine---this too is no lie, Portland Maine, where apparently Holmes had an aunt of some kind. So they were now either in Denver going through or already in Portland. “When Jim’s money runs out Al’ll be back” said Helen looking at her cards. “Damn fool…he doesn’t know anything and never did. All he had to do is know that I love him.” Helen Hinkle looked like the daughter of the Greeks with the sunny camera as she sat there on the rug, her long hair streaming to the floor, plying the tellingcards. I got to like her. We even decided to go out that night and hear jazz and Neal would take a six foot blonde that lived down the street, Julie. “In that case may I leave now?” said Tomson sassily, and we told him to go ahead but be ready for the next day. And that night Helen, Neal and I went to get Julie. This girl had a basement apartment, a little daughter and an old car that barely ran and which Neal and I had to push down the street as the girls jammed

Saturday, 29 November 2008

28 November 2008

for me to fetch Edie and make up my mind about her once and for all. Neal claimed he no longer needed Louanne tho he still loved her. We both agreed he would make out in New York and as it turned out he did and got married again: but more of that after 3,000 miles and many days and nights. We stashed our gear in a Greyhound bus locker for ten cents, Neal put on his pinstripe suit with a sports shirt, and we took off for Bill Tomson’s who was going to be our chauffeur for 2-day Frisco kicks. Bill Tomson agreed over the phone to do so. He arrived at the corner of Market and 3rd shortly thereafter and picked us up. Bill was now living in Frisco, working as a clerk and married to a pretty little blonde called Helena. Neal confided in me that her nose was too long---this was his big point of contention about her, for some strange reason---and her nose wasn’t too long at all. This must have reached back to the days when he stole Carolyn from Bill in the Denver hotel room. Bill Tomson is a thin dark handsome kid with a pinsharp face and combed hair that he keeps shoving back from the sides of his head. He has an extremely earnest approach and a big smile. But evidently his wife Helena had wrangled with him over the chuffering idea- -and determined to make a stand as the man of the house (they lived in a little room) he nevertheless stuck by his promise to us, but with consequences. His mental dilemma resolved itself in a bitter silence. He drove Neal and I all over Frisco at all hours of day and night and never said a word; all he did was go through red lights and make sharp turns on two wheels and this was telling us the shifts to which we’d put him. He was midway between the challenge of his new wife and the challenge of his old Denver poolhall gang leader. Neal was completely pleased and of course unperturbed by the driving. We paid absolutely no attention to Bill and sat in the back and yakked. The next thing was to go to Marin City to see if we could find Henri Cru. I noticed with some wonder that the old ship Adm. Freebee no longer stood in the bay; and then of course Henri was no longer in the second-to-last compartment of the shack in the canyon. A beautiful colored girl opened the door instead; Neal and I talked to her a great deal. Bill Tomson waited in the car reading Eugene Sue’s

27 November 2008

thing clicked in both our souls. In mine it was suddenly concern for a man who was years younger than I, five years, & whose fate was wound with mine across the passage of the shrouded years; in his it was a matter that I can only ascertain from what he did afterwards. He became extremely joyful and said everything was settled. “What was that look?” I asked. He was pained to hear me say that. He frowned. Rarely Neal frowned. We both felt perplexed and uncertain of something. We were standing on top of Russian Hill on a beautiful day in San Francisco; our shadows fell across the sidewalk. Out of the tenement next to Carolyn’s house filed eleven Greek men and women who instantly lined themselves up on the sunny pavement while another backed up across the narrow street and smiled at them over a camera. We gaped at these ancient people who were having a wedding party for one of their daughters probably the thousandth in an unbroken dark generation of smiling in the sun. They were well dressed, and they were strange. Neal and I might have been in Cyprus for all of that. Gulls flew overhead in the sparkling air. “Well” said Neal in a very shy and sweet voice “shall we go?” “Yes” I said “let’s go to Italy.” And so we picked up our bags, he the trunk with his one good arm and I the rest, and staggered to the cable-car stop; in a moment rolled down the hill with our legs dangling to the sidewalk from the jiggling shelf, two brokendown heroes of the western night and more to go. First thing, we went to a bar down on market street and decided everything---that we would stick together and be buddies till we die. Neal was very quiet and seemed a little subdued and preoccupied looking at the old bums in the saloon that reminded him of his father. “I think he’s in Denver…this time we must absolutely find him, he may be in County Jail, he may be around Larimer street again, but he’s to be found. Agreed?” Yes, it was agreed; we were going to do everything we’d never done and had been too silly to do in the past. Then we promised ourselves two days of kicks in San Francisco before starting off, and of course the agreement was to go by Travel Bureau in share-the-gas cars and save as much money as possible for what we were going to do across the land. We were also going to Detroit

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

26 November 2008

“Why did Carolyn throw you out? what are you going to do?” “Eh?” he said. “Eh? Eh?” We racked our brains for where to go and what to do. I had a fairly good career underway in NY and I realized it was up to me to help Neal. Poor, poor Neal---the Devil himself had never fallen further; in idiocy, with infected thumb, surrounded by the battered suitcases of his motherless feverish life across America and back numberless times, an undone bird, a broken turd, name your price and take your change. “Let’s walk to New York” he said “and as we do let’s take stock of everything along the way---yass.” I took out my money and counted it; I showed it to him. 2x “I have here” I said “the sum of eighty three dollars and change and if you come with me let’s go to New York---and after that let’s go to Italy.” “Italy?” he said. His eyes lit up. “Italy yass---how shall we get there, dear Jack?” I pondered this. “I’ll make some more money, I’ll get another thousand dollars. We’ll go dig all the crazy women in Rome, Paris, all those places; we’ll sit at sidewalk cafes; we’ll catch up with Burford White and Jeffries and live in whore houses. Why not go to Italy?” “Why yass” said Neal and then realized I was serious and looked at me out the corner of his eye for the first time, for I’d never committed myself before with regard to his burdensome existence, and that look was the look of a man weighing his chances at the last moment before the bet. There was triumph and insolence in his eyes, a devilish look, and he never took his eyes off mine for the longest time. I looked back at him and blushed. I said “What’s the matter?” I felt wretched when I asked it. He made no answer but continued looking at me with the same wary insolent side-eye. I tried to remember everything he’d done in his life and if there wasn’t something back there to make him suspicious of something now. Resolutely and firmly I repeated what I said- -“Come to NY with me, I’ve got the money.” I looked at him; my eyes were watering with embarrassment and tears. Still he stared at me. Now his eyes were blank and looking through me. It was probably the pivotal point of our friendship when he realized I had actually spent some hours thinking about him and he was trying to place that in his tremendously involved and tormented mental categories. Some-

25 November 2008

waves. Once again I saw his pitiful huge battered trunk with socks and dirty underwear sticking out: he bent over it throwing everything he could find in it. Then he got his suitcase. This suitcase was the beatest suitcase in the U.S.A. It consisted of paper with designs on it making it look like leather and suspicious-looking hinges of some kind pasted on. A great rip ran down the top: Neal lashed on a rope. Then he grabbed his seabag and threw things into that. I got my suitcase, stuffed it, and as Carolyn lay abed in the room saying “Liar! Liar! Liar! We leaped out of the house and struggled down the street to the nearest cable car---a mass of men and suitcases with that enormous bandaged thumb sticking up in the air. That thumb became the symbol of Neal’s final development. He no longer cared about anything (as before) but now he also cared about everything in principle, and that is to say, it was all the same to him and he belonged to the world and there was nothing he could do about it. He stopped me in the middle of the street. “Now man, I know you’re probably real bugged, you just got to town and we get thrown out the first day and you’re wondering what I’ve done to deserve this and so on---hee hee hee!---but look at me. Please Jack, look at me.” I looked at him. He was wearing a T-shirt, torn pants hanging down his belly, tattered shoes; he had not shaved, his hair was wild and bushy, his eyes bloodshot, and that tremendous bandaged thumb stood supported in midair at heart-level (he had to hold it up that way) and on his face was the goofiest grin I ever saw. He stumbled around in a circle and looked everywhere. “What do my eyeballs see? Ah---the blue sky. Long-fellows!” He swayed and blinked. He rubbed his eyes. “Together with windows---have you ever dug windows? Now let’s talk about windows. I have seen some really crazy windows that made faces at me and some of them had shades drawn and so they winked.” Out of his seabag he fished out a copy of Eugene Sur’s “Paris---” and adjusting the front of his T-shirt began reading on the streetcorner with a pedantic air. “Now really Jack let’s dig everything as we go along…” He forgot about that in an instant and looked around blankly. I was glad I had come, he needed me now.

24 November 2008

morning Carolyn threw the both of us out baggage and all, right out on the street. It began when we called Bill Tomson, old Denver Bill in the afternoon and had him come over for beer, while Neal who couldn’t work on account of his hand, minded the baby and did the dishes and the wash in the backyard but did a sloppy job of it in his excitement. Tomson agreed to drive us to Marin City to look for Henri Cru. (Neal never gave cute names to perfectly normal drab pursuits.) Carolyn came in from work at the dentist’s office and gave us all the sad and dirty look of a harassed woman’s life. I tried to show this woman that I had no mean intentions concerning her homelife by saying hello to her and talking as warmly as I could but she knew it was a con and maybe one I’d learned from Neal and only gave a brief smile. In the morning there was a terrible scene: she lay on the bed sobbing and writhing and in the midst of this I suddenly had the need to go to the bathroom and the only way I could get there was through her room. “Neal, Neal” I cried “where’s the nearest bar!” “Bar?” he said surprised; he was washing his hands in the kitchen sink downstairs. He thought I wanted to get drunk. I told him my dilemma and he said “Go right ahead, she does that all the time.” No, I couldn’t do that. I rushed out to look for a bar; I walked uphill and downhill in a vicinity of four blocks on Russian Hill and found nothing but Laundromats, cleaners, soda fountains, beauty parlors, habberdasherers and hardware. I rushed back to the crooked little house determined to save my soul. They were yelling at each other as I slipped through with a feeble smile and locked myself in the bathroom. A few moments later Carolyn was throwing Neal’s things on the livingroom floor and telling him to pack. To my amazement I saw a full length oil painting of Helen Hinkle over the sofa. I suddenly realized that all these women were spending months of loneliness and womanliness together chatting about the madness of the men. I heard Neal’s maniacal giggle across the house, together with the wails of his baby. The next thing I knew he was gliding around the house like Groucho Marx with his poor broken thumb wrapped in a huge white bandage sticking up like a beacon that stands motionless above the frenzy of the

Sunday, 23 November 2008

23 November 2008

told her to kill me. She held the gun in her hand the longest time. I asked her for a sweet dead pact. She didn’t want. I said one of us had to die. She said no. I beat my head on the wall. She talked me out of it.” “Then what happened?” “That was months ago---after you left. She finally married one of the sailors, dumb sonofabitch has promised to kill me if he finds me, if necessary I shall have to defend myself and kill him and I’ll go to San Quentin, ’cause Jack one more rap of ANY kind and I go to San Quentin for life---that’ll be the end of me. Bad hand and all.” He showed me his hand. I hadn’t noticed in the excitement that he had really suffered a terrible accident with his hand. “I hit Louanne on the brow on Feb. 26 at six o’clock in the evening the last time we met and the last time we decided everything. Now listen to this: my thumb only deflected off her brow and she didn’t even have a bruise and in fact laughed, but my end, my thumb got infected and a poorass doctor made a bad job of fixing it and finally I had a touch of gangrene in it and they had to amputate a cunthair tip off the end.” He unwrapped the bandages and showed me. The flesh, about half an inch, was missing under the nail. “It got from worse to worse. I had to support Carolyn and Cathy Ann and had to work as fast as I could at Goodyear tire company hauling big hundred pound tires from the floor to the top of the cars. I could only use my good hand but I kept banging the bad one. I broke it and they reset it and stuck a pin in it and it’s getting all infected and swoled again. All these heebyjeebies!” he laughed “and I’ve never felt better and finer and happier with the world and to see little lovely children playing I the sun and I am so glad to see you my fine gone wonderful Jack and I know, I KNOW everything will be allright.” He congratulated me on my thousand dollars, which was no more now. “We know life, now Jack, we’re growing older each of us little by little and are coming to know things. What you tell me about your family I understand well, I’ve always dug your feelings and now in fact you’re ready to hook up with a real great girl if you can only find her and cultivate her and make her mind your soul as I have tried so hard to do with these damned women of mine. Shit! shit! shit!” He yelled. And in the

22 November 2008

peeked down through her mail-shot which opened up on the bed. There he saw Louanne sprawled in the mornings with a boy. He trailed her around town. He wanted absolute proof that she was a whore. He loved her, he sweated over her. Finally he got hold of some bad s- - t, as it’s called in the trade, green uncured marijuana, quite by mistake, and smoked too much of it. “The first day” said Neal “I lay rigid as a board in bed and couldn’t move or say a word. I just looked straight up with my eyes open wide. I could hear buzzings in my head and saw all kinds of wonderful technicolor visions and felt wonderful. The second day everything came to me, EVERYTHING I’d ever done or known or read or heard or conjectured came back to me and rearranged itself in my mind in a brand new logical way. Yes, I said, yes, yes, yes. Not loud. Just yes, real quiet and because I could think of nothing else to say. These green tea visions lasted until the third day. I had understood everything by then, my whole life was decided, I knew I loved Louanne, I knew I had to find my father wherever he is and save him, I knew you were my buddy, I knew how Great Allen is. I knew a thousand things about everybody everywhere. Then the third day I began having a terrible series of waking nightmares and they were so absolutely horrible and grisly and green that I just lay there doubled up with my hands around my knees saying Oh, Oh, Ah, Oh…The neighbors heard me and sent for a doctor. Carolyn was away with the baby visiting her folks. The whole neighborhood was concerned. They came in and found me lying on the bed with my arms stretched out forever. Jack I ran to Louanne with some of that tea. And do you know that the same thing happened to that dumb little cunt---the same visions, the same logic, the same final decision about everything, the view of all truths in one painful lump leading to nightmares and pain. Then I knew I loved her so much I wanted to kill her. I ran home and beat my head on the wall. I ran to Al Hinkle, he’s back in Frisco with Helen, I asked him about a brakeman who has a gun, I went to the brakeman, I got the gun, I ran to Louanne, I looked down the mailslot, she was sleeping with a sailor, I came back in an hour, I barged in, she was alone---and I gave her the gun and

21 November 2008

“I didn’t think you’d actually do it. You’ve finally come to me.” “Yep” I said “Everything fell apart in my family. How are things in yours?” “Not so good, not so good. But we’ve got a million things to talk about. Jack the time has FI-NALLY come for us to talk and get with it.” We agreed it was about time and went in. Now my arrival was somewhat like the arrival of the strange and most evil Angel in the home of the snow-white fleece, as Neal and I began talking excitedly in the kitchen downstairs and this brought forth sobs from upstairs. Everything I said to Neal was answered with a wild whispering shuddering “Yes!” Carolyn knew what was going to happen. Apparently Neal had been quiet a few months; now the angel had arrived and he was going mad again. “What’s the matter with her?” I whispered. He said “She’s getting worse and worse, man, she cries and makes tantrums, won’t let me out to see Slim Gaillard, gets mad every time I’m late, then when I stay home she won’t talk to me and says I’m an utter beast.” He ran upstairs to soothe her. I heard Carolyn yell “You’re a liar, you’re a liar, you’re a liar” I took the opportunity to examine the very wonderful house they had. It was a two-story crooked rickety wooden cottage in the middle of the tenements right on top of Russian Hill with a view of the Bay; it had four rooms, three upstairs and one immense sort of basement kitchen downstairs. The kitchen door opened onto a grassycourt where washlines were. In back of the kitchen was a storage room where Neal’s old shoes still were caked an inch thick with Texas mud from the night the Hudson got stuck at Hempstead near the Brazos River. Of course the Hudson was gone, Neal hadn’t been able to make further payments on it. He had no car at all now. Their second baby was accidentally coming. It was a horrible tragedy to hear Carolyn sobbing so. We couldn’t stand it and went out to buy beer and brought it back to the kitchen. Carolyn finally went to sleep or spent the night staring blankly at the dark. I had no idea what was really wrong except perhaps Neal had driven her mad after all. After my last leaving of Frisco he had gone crazy over Louanne again and spent months haunting her apartment on Divisadero where every night she had a different sailor in and he

20 November 2008

scheme and fired me without saying as much, as I made my feelings apparent and said I would never come back. Then I staggered to Larimer street with my eleven dollars and got drunk in Jiggs’ buffet bar across the street from the Windsor Hotel where Neal Cassady had lived with his father Old Neal Cassady in the depression Thirties. And as of yore I looked everywhere for the father of Neal Cassady. Nowhere to be found. Either you find someone who looks like your father in places like Montana, or you look for a friend’s father where he is no more, that’s what you do. Then in spite of myself, the morning disclosed a woman’s bare leg wrapped in silk stockings, and in that stocking was a hundred dollar bill, and she gave it to me and said “You’ve been talking of a trip to Frisco; that being the case take this and go and have your fun.” So all my problems were solved and I got a Travel Bureau car for eleven dollars gas-fare to Frisco and zoomed over the land to Neal. Two fellows were driving this car; they said they were pimps. Two other fellows were passengers with me. We sat tight and bent our minds to the goal. As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge sunburning clouds above the desert and they seemed to say to me “The day of wrath will come.” Ah well, alackaday, I was more interested in some old rotten covered wagons and pool tables sitting in the Nevada desert near a coca Cola stand and where there were huts with the weatherbeaten signs still flapping in the haunted shrouded desert wind, saying, “Rattlesnake Bill lived here” or “Brokenmouth Annie holed up for years.” Yes, zoom! In Salt Lake City the pimps checked up on their girls and we drove on. Before I knew it, once again I was seeing the fabled city of San Francisco stretched out on the Bay in the middle of the night. I ran immediately to Neal. He had a house on Russian Hill now. I was burning to know what was on his mind and what would happen now, for there was nothing behind me any more, all my bridges were gone and I didn’t give a damn about anything at all. I knocked on his door at two o’clock in the morning. He came to the door stark naked and it might have been President Truman knocking for all he cared. He received the world in the raw. “Jack!” he said with genuine awe.

19 November 2008

lars poorer. I never dreamed I’d have a thousand dollars anyway. It was all gone in a matter of weeks. I stood poised on the great western plain and I didn’t know what to do. I said to myself “Well I might as well go be mad again” and I made preparations to go get Neal in San Francisco and see what he was doing now. I tried honest ways to get the money together for the voyage to the Coast. One morning at three A.M. I got up and hitch hiked down from my house out of Alameda Boulevard Denver six miles into town; only thing is I didn’t get any rides and I just plainly hiked it. I arrived at the Denargo Fruit Wholesale Markets before daybreak, dogtired. This was the place I had almost worked in 1947 with Eddy my roadbuddy. I was hired immediately. There then began a day of labor that I shall never forget. I worked from 4 o’clock in the morning clear to six o’clock in the evening, and at the end of the day I was paid eleven dollars and some change. And the work was so hard that I quickly developed Charley Horses in my arms and almost had to scream to go on. Of course I was soft compared to the Japanese fellows who worked side by side with me; their muscles were attuned to this onerous business of dragging a fruit wagon loaded eight crates high and having to balance it and pull it with arms outstretched and if you make one mistake you ruin a whole load of fruit and do it on your own poor head. I cut around all day with these muscular Nisei and swore and swore. At one point we had to stick a gadget under the wheels of a great boxcar and advance it down the tracks at the rate of half-an-inch a yank on the lever---a hundred foot down the line. I myself unloaded a boxcar and a half of fruit-crates in the entire day, interrupted only by one trip to the Denver wholesale houses where I lugged watermelon crates over the icy floor of a boxcar into the blazing sun of an ice-splattered truck and developed a mean sneeze. It was okay with me once again I wanted to get to San Francisco and what for? In God’s name and under the stars what for? For joy, for kicks, for something burning in the night. The other fellows each loaded three boxcars apiece and I was half as fast, consequently the boss felt I was not a fit prospect for his profitable