Friday, 15 August 2008

15 August 2008

boy!” I said. The bus arrived in Hollywood. In the gray dirty dawn, like the dawn Joel McRea met Veronica Lake in the picture Sullivan’s Travels in a diner, she slept in my lap. I looked greedily out the window: stucco houses and palms and drive ins, the whole mad thing, the ragged promised land, the fantastic end of America. We got off the bus at Main street which was no different than where you get off a bus in Kansas City or Chicago or Boston, redbrick, dirty, characters drifting by, trolleys grating in the dawn, the whorey smell of a big city. And here my mind went haywire, I don’t know why. I began getting the foolish paranoiac idea that Beatrice---her name---was a common little hustler who worked the buses for a guy’s bucks, and that she had regular appointments like ours in L.A. where she brought the sucker first to a breakfast place, where her pimp waited, and then to a certain hotel to which he had access with his gun or his whatever. I never confessed this to her. We ate breakfast and a pimp kept watching us; I fancied Bea was making secret eyes at him. I was tired. Goofy terror took over my soul and made me petty and cheap. “Do you know that guy?” I said. “What guy?” I let it drop. She was slow and hungup about everything she did; it took her a long time to eat, and smoke a cigarette, and she talked too much; I kept thinking she was stalling for time. But this was all utter nonsense. The first hotel we hit had a room and before I knew it I was locking the door behind me and she was sitting on the bed taking off her shoes. I kissed her meekly. Better she’d never know. To relax our nerves I knew we needed whisky, especially me. I ran out and fiddled all over twelve blocks of town till I found a pint of whiskey for sale at of all places, a newsstand. I ran back all energy. Bea was in the bathroom fixing her face. I poured one big drink in a waterglass and we had slugs. Oh it was sweet and delicious and worth my whole lugubrious voyage. I stood behind her at the mirror and we danced in the bathroom that way. I began talking about my friends back east. I said “You ought to meet a great girl I know called Vicki. She’s a sixfoot redhead. If you came to New York she’d show you where to get work.” “Who is this sixfoot redhead?” she demanded suspiciously. “Why do you tell me about her?” In her

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