Wednesday, 18 June 2008

18 June 2008

up right outside the town of North Platte, where he left me off. And I wasn’t thinking much but the greatest ride in my life was about to come up, a truck, with a flatboard at the back, with about already five boys sprawled out on it and the drivers, two young blonde farmers from Minnesota were picking up every single soul they found on that road---the most smiling cheerful couple of handsome bumkins you could ever wish to see, both wearing cotton shirts and overalls, nothing else, both thick-wristed and earnest, with broad howareyou smiles for anybody and anything that came across their path. I ran up, said “Is there room?” They said “Sure, hop on, ‘s’room for everybody.” So I did. I was amazed by the simplicity of the whole ride; I wasn’t on the flatboard before the truck roared off, I lurched, a rider grabbed me, and I sat down some. Somebody passed a bottle of rotgut, the bottom of it. I took a big swig in the wild lyrical drizzling air of Nebraska. “Whooee, here we go!” yelled a kid with a baseball cap, and they gunned up the truck to seventy and passed everybody on the road. “We been riding this sonofabitch since Omaha. These guys never stop. Every now and then you have to yell for a pisscall otherwise you have to piss off the air and hang on, brother, hang on.” I looked at the company. There were two young farmer boys from North Dakota in red baseball caps, which is the standard NODakota farmer boy hat, and they were headed for the harvests: their old men had given them leave to hit the road for a summer. Then there were two young city boys, from Columbus Ohio, high school footballplayers, chewing gum, winking, singing in the breeze, and they said they were hitchhiking around the US for the summer. “We’re going to LA!” They yelled. “What are you going to do there?” “Hell, we don’t know. Who cares?” Then there was a tall slim fellow whose name was Slim and he came from Montana, he said, and he had a sneaky look. “Where you from?” I asked; I was lying next to him on the platform, you couldn’t sit without bouncing off; it had no rails. And he turned slowly to me, opened his mouth and said, “Mon-ta-na.” And finally there was Mississippi Gene and his charge. Mississippi Gene was a little dark guy who rode the freight trains around the country, a 30 year

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