Monday, 11 August 2008

11 August 2008

Sunday. A great heat wave descended; it was a beautiful day, the sun turned red at three. I started up the mountain at three and got to the top at four. All those lovely California cottonwoods brooded on all sides. I felt like playing cowboys. Near the peak there were no more trees, just rocks and grass. Cattle were grazing on top of the Coast. There was the Pacific, a few more foothills away, blue and vast and with a great wall of white advancing from the legendary Potato Patch where Frisco fogs are born. Another hour and it would come streaming through Golden Gate to shroud the romantic city in white, and a young man would hold his girl by the hand and climb slowly up a long white sidewalk with a bottle of Tokay in his pocket. That was Frisco; and beautiful women standing in white doorways, waiting for their man; and Coit Tower, and the Embarcadero, and Market street, and the eleven teeming hills. Lonely Frisco for me then---which would buzz a few years later when my soul got stranger. Now I was only a youth on a mountain. I stooped, looked between my legs, and watched the world upside down. The brown hills led off towards Nevada; to the South was my legendary Hollywood; to the North the mysterious Shasta country. Down below was everything: the barracks where we stole our tiny box of condiments, where Dostioffski’s tiny face had glared at us, where Henri had me hide the toy-gun and where our squeaking yells had transpired. I spun around till I was dizzy; I thought I’d fall down as in a dream, clear off the precipice. “Oh where is the girl I love?” I thought, and looked everywhere, as I had looked everywhere in the little world below. And before me was the great raw bulge and the bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across gloomy crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and empty-souled---at least that’s what I thought then. I’d learn better later. Now it was time to pursue my moon along. In the morning Henri and Diane were asleep as I quietly packed and slipped out the window the same way I’d come in, and left Marin City with my canvas bag. And I never spent that night on the old ghostship, the Admiral Freebee it was called, and Henri and

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