Friday, 29 August 2008

29 August 2008

sopping up the brew. I was through with my chores in the cottonfield. I could feel the pull of my own life calling me back. I shot my mother a penny postcard and asked for another fifty across the land. We drove to Bea’s family’s shack. It was situated on an old road that ran between the vineyards. It was dark when we got there. They left me off a quarter-mile up and drove to the door. Light poured out of the door; Bea’s six other brothers were playing their guitars and singing. The old man was drinking wine. I heard shouts and arguments. They called her a whore because she’d left her no good husband and gone to L.A. and left Raymond with them. But the sad fat brown mother prevailed, as she always does among the great Fellaheen peoples of the world, and Bea was allowed to come back home. The brothers began to sing gay songs. I huddled in the cold rainy wind and watched everything across the sad vineyards of October in the Valley. My mind was filled with that great song “Lover Man” as Billy Holliday sings it. “Someday we’ll meet, and you’ll dry all my tears, and whisper sweet, little words in my ear, hugging and a-kissing, Oh what we’ve been missing, Lover Gal Oh where can you be…” It’s not the words so much as the great harmonic tune and the way Billy sings it, like a woman stroking her man’s hair in soft lamplight. The winds howled. I got cold. Bea and Ponzo came back and we rattled off in the old truck to meet Freddy. Freddy was now living with Ponzo’s woman Big Rosey; we tooted the horn for him in rickety alleys. Big Rosey threw him out. Everything was collapsing. That night Bea held me tight, of course, and told me not to leave. She said she’d work picking grapes and make enough money for both of us; meanwhile I could live in Farmer Heffelfinger’s barn down the road from her family. I’d have nothing to do but sit in the grass all day and eat grapes. In the morning her cousins came to get us in another truck. I suddenly realized thousands of Mexicans all over the countryside knew about Bea and I and that it must have been a juicy, romantic topic for them. The cousins were polite and in fact charming.. I stood on the truck platform with them as we rattled into town, hanging on to the rail and smiling pleasantries, talking about where we were in the war and

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