Thursday, 9 October 2008

09 October 2008

buck off her.” “Right! Fine! Let’s go!” We were in Dunn in an hour, at dusk. We drove to where the kid said his aunt had the grocery store. It was a sad little street that dead-ended at a factory wall. There was a grocery store but there was no aunt. We wondered what the kid was talking about. We asked him how far he was going; he didn’t know. It was a big hoax; once upon a time, in some lost backalley adventure, he had seen the grocery store in Dunn, N.C., and it was the first story that popped into his disordered feverish mind. We bought him a hotdog but Neal said we couldn’t bring him along because we needed room to sleep and room for hitch hikers who could buy a little gas. This was sad but true. We left him in Dunn at nightfall. This wasn’t the only young kid with an aunt owning a grocery store that we were going to find this trip; there was another haunting our track two thousand miles along the road. I drove through South Carolina and all the way beyond Macon Georgia as Neal, Louanne and Al slept. All alone in the night I had my own thoughts and held the car to the white line in the holy road. What was I doing? Where was I going? I’d soon find out. I got dogtired beyond Macon and woke up Neal to resume. We got out of the car for air and suddenly both of us were stoned with joy to realize that in the darkness all around us was fragrant green grass and the smell of fresh manure and warm waters. “We’re in the South! We’ve left the winter!” Faint daybreak illuminated green shoots by the side of the road. I took a deep breath; a locomotive howled across the darkness, Mobile bound. So were we. I took off my shirt and exulted. Ten miles down the road Neal drove into a filling station with the motor off, noticed that the attendant was asleep at the desk, jumped out, quietly filled the gastank, saw to it the bell didn’t ring, and rolled off like an Arab with a five-dollar tankful of gas for our pilgrimage. Otherwise we would never have made it to New Orleans and Bill Burroughs’ rickety old house in the Algiers swamps. I slept and woke up to the crazy exultant sounds of music and Neal and Louanne talking and the great green land rolling by. “Where are we?” “Just pas’t the tip of Florida, man, Flomaton it’s called.” Florida! We were rolling down to the

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