Sunday, 12 October 2008

11 October 2008

her. We were suddenly driving along the blue waters of the Gulf for the fair and at the same time a momentous mad thing began on the radio: it was the Chicken Jazz n’Gumbo disc jockey show from New Orleans, all mad jazz records, colored records, with the disc jockey saying don’t worry ’bout NOTHING!” We saw New Orleans in the night ahead of us with joy. Neal runned his hands over the wheel. “Now we’re going to get our kicks!” At dusk we were coming into the humming streets of New Orleans. “Oh smell the people!” yelled Neal with his face out the window sniffing. “Ah! God! Life!” He swung around a trolley. “Yes!” He darted the car into the traffic of Canal Street. “Wheee!” He staggered the car and looked in every direction for girls. “Look at her!” The air was so sweet in New Orleans it seemed to come in soft bandanas; and you could smell the river, and really smell the people, and muds, and molasses and every kind of tropical exfoliation with your nose suddenly removed from the dry-ices of a northern winter. We bounced in our seats. “And dig her!” yelled Neal pointing at another woman. “Oh I love, love, love women! I think women are wonderful! I live women!” He spat out the window; he groaned; he clutched his head. Great beads of sweat fell from his forehead from pure excitement and exhaustion. We bounced the car up on the Algiers ferry and found ourselves crossing the Mississippi river by boat. “Now we must all get out and dig the river and the people and smell the world” said Neal bustling with his sunglasses and cigarettes and leaping out of the car like a jackinthebox. We followed. On rails we leaned and looked at the great brown father of waters rolling down from mid-America like the torrent of broken souls---bearing Montana logs and Dakota muds and Iowa-vales and every cundrum clear to Three Forks where the secret began in ice. Smoky New Orleans receded on one side; old sleepy Algiers with its warped woodsides bumped us on the other. Negroes were working in the hot afternoon stoking the ferry furnaces that burned red and made our tires smell. Neal dug them hopping up and down in the heat. He rushed around the deck and upstairs with his baggy pants hanging halfway down his belly. Suddenly I saw him eagering on the flying bridge. I expected

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