Sunday, 12 October 2008

12 October 2008

him to take off on wings. I heard his mad laugh all over the boat---“Hee hee hee hee he!” Louanne was with him. He covered everything in a jiffy, came back with the full story, jumped in the car just as everybody was tooting to go and we slipped off passing two or three cars in a narrow space and found ourselves darting through Algiers. “Where? where?” Neal was yelling. We decided first to clean up at a gas station and inquire for Bill’s whereabouts. Little children were playing in the drowsy river afternoon; girls were going by with bandanas and cotton blouses and bare legs. Neal ran up the street to see everything. He looked around; he nodded; he rubbed his belly. Big Al sat back in the car with his hat over his eyes, smiling at Neal. Then we went to Bill Burroughs house outside town near the river levee. It was a road that ran across a swampy field. The house was a dilapidated old heap with sagging porches running around and weeping willows in the yard; the grass was a yard high, old fences leaned, old barns collapsed. There was no one in sight. We pulled right into the yard and saw washtubs on the back porch. I got out and went to the screendoor. Joan Adams was standing in it with her eyes cupped towards the sun. “Joan” I said. “It’s me. It’s us.” She knew that. “Yes I know. Bill isn’t here now. Isn’t that a fire or something over there.” We both looked towards the sun. “You mean the sun?” “Of course I don’t mean the sun---I heard sirens that way. Don’t you see a peculiar glow.” It was towards New Orleans; the clouds were strange. “I don’t see anything” I said. Joan snuffed down her nose. “Same old Kerouac.” That was the way we greeted each other after four years; Joan used to live with my wife and I in New York. “And is Helen Hinkle here?” I asked. She was still looking for her fire; in those days she ate three tubes of Benzedrine paper a day. Her face, once plump and Germanic and pretty, had become stony and red and gaunt. She had caught polio in New Orleans and limped a little. Sheepishly Neal and the gang came out of her stately retirement in the back of the house to meet her tormentor. Helen was a Greek girl from Fresno. She was pale and looked like tears all over. Big Al pas’t his hand through his

No comments: