Thursday, 7 August 2008

27 July 2008

the necessary routine and to my surprise the bastards hired me. I was sworn in by the local police Chief, given a badge, a club, and now I was a special policeman. I wondered what Neal and Allen and Burroughs would say about this. I had to have Navy blue trousers to go with my black jacket and cop cap; for the first two weeks I had to wear Henri’s trousers; since he was so tall, and had a potbelly from eating voracious meals out of boredom, I went flapping around like Charley Chaplin to my first night of work. Henri gave me a flashlight and his .32 automatic. “Where’d you get this gun?” “On my way to the coast last summer I jumped off the train at North Platte Nebraska to stretch my legs and what did I see in the window but this wonderful little gun which I promptly bought and barely made the train.” And I tried to tell him that North Platte Nebraska meant to me---buying the whiskey with the boys---and he slapped me on the back and said I was the funniest man in the world. With the flashlight to illuminate my way I climbed the steep walls of the south canyon, got up on a highway streaming with cars in the night Frisco-bound, scrambled down the other side almost falling, and came to the bottom of a ravine where a little farmhouse stood near a creek and where every blessed night the same dog barked at me for nights. Then it was a fast walk along a silvery dusty road beneath inky trees of California---a road like in the Mark of Zorro and a road like all the roads you see in the Western B movies---I used to take out my gun and play cowboys in the dark. Then I climbed another hill and there were the barracks. These barracks were for the temporary quartering of overseas construction workers. Then men who came through stayed there waiting for their ship. Most of them were bound for Okinawa. Most of them were running away from something---usually the law. There were tough groups of brothers from Alabama, shifty men from New York, all kinds from all over. And knowing full well how horrible it would be to work a full year in Okinawa they drank. The job of the special guards was to see that they didn’t tear the barracks down. We had our headquarters in the main building, just a wooden contraption with panelwalled offices. Here at a rolltop desk we sat around shift-

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