Tuesday, 30 September 2008

30 September 2008

tered at us. Since the Dakar Doldrums he had finally gone through a terrible period which he called the Holy Doldrums, or Harlem Doldrums, when he lived in Harlem in midsummer and at night woke up in his lonely room and heard “the great machine” descending from the sky; and when he walked on 125th street “under water” with all the other fish. It was a riot of crazy ideas that had come to occupy his brain. He made Louanne sit on his lap and commanded her to subside. He told Neal “Why don’t you just sit down and relax. Why do you jump around so much?” Neal ran around putting sugar in his coffee and saying “Yes! yes! yes!” At night Al Hinkle slept on the floor on cushions, Neal and Louanne pushed Allen out of bed and went to it, and Allen sat up in the kitchen over his kidney stew mumbling the predictions of the rock. I came in days and watched everything. Al Hinkle said to me “Last night I walked clear down to Times Square and just as I arrived I suddenly realized I was a ghost---it was my ghost walking on the sidewalk.” He said these things to me without comment, nodding his head emphatically. Ten hours later in the midst of someone else’s conversation Al would suddenly say “Yep, it was my ghost waling on the sidewalk.” Suddenly Neal leaned to me earnestly and said “Jack I have something to ask of you---very important to me---I wonder how you’ll take it---we’re buddies aren’t we?” “Sure are, Neal.” He almost blushed. Finally he came out with it: he wanted me to lay Louanne. I didn’t ask him why because I knew. He wanted to test something in himself and he wanted to see what Louanne was like with another man. We were sitting in Ross Bar on Eighth Avenue when he proposed the idea; we’d spent an hour walking Times Square looking for Hunkey. Ross Bar is the hoodlum bar of Times Square; it changes names every year. You walk in there and you don’t see a single girl, even in the booths, just a great mob of young men dressed in all varieties of hoodlum cloth---from red shirts to zoot suits: it is also the hustler’s bar, the boys who make a living among the sad old homos of the Eighth Avenue night. Neal walked in there with his eyes slitted to see every single face. There were wild Negro queers, sullen guys with guns, shiv-packing seamen, thin

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