Sunday, 19 October 2008

17 October 2008

bars are insufferably dull.” I said “There must be some ideal bars in town.” “The ideal bar doesn’t exist in America. An ideal bar is something that’s gone beyond our ken. In 1910 a bar was a place where men went to meet during or after work and all there was was a long counter, brass rails, spittoon, player piano for music, a few mirrors and barrels of whisky at ten cents a shot together with barrels of beer at five cents a mug. Now all you get is chromium, drunken women, fags, hostile bartenders, anxious owners who hover around the door worried about their leather seats and the law; just a lot of screaming at the wrong time and deadly silence when a stranger walks in.” We argued about bars. “All right,” he said, “I’ll take you to New Orleans tonight and show you what I mean.” And he deliberately took us to the dullest bars. We left Joan with the children; supper was over; she was also reading the want ads of the New Orleans Times Picayune. I asked her if she was looking for a job; she only said it was the most interesting part of the paper. You could see her point---a strange woman. Bill rode into town with us and went right on talking. “Take it easy Neal, we’ll get there, I hope; hup, there’s the ferry, you don’t have to drive us clear into the river.” He held on. Neal had gotten worse since Texas, he confided in me. “He seems to be headed for his ideal fate, which is compulsive psychosis dashed with a jigger of psychopathic irresponsibility and violence.” He looked at Neal out of the corner of his eye. “If you go to California with this madman you’ll never make it. Why don’t you stay in New Orleans with me. We’ll play the horses over to Graetna and relax in my yard. I’ve got a nice set of knives and I’m building a target. Some pretty juicy dolls downtown too, if that’s in your line these days.” He snuffed. We were on the ferry and Neal had leaped out to lean over the rail. I followed, but Bill sat on in the car snuffing. There was a mystic wraith of fog over the brown waters that night, together with dark driftwoods; and across the way New Orleans glowed orange bright, with a few dark ships at her hem, ghostly fogbound Cereno ships with Spanish balconies and ornamental poops, till you got up close and saw they were just old freighters from Sweden and Panama. The ferry-fires glowed

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