Sunday, 19 October 2008

18 October 2008

in the night; the same Negroes plied the shovel and sang. Old Big Slim Hubbard had once worked on the Algiers as a ferry deckhand; this made me think of Mississippi Gene too; and as the river poured down from mid-America by starlight I knew, I knew like mad that everything I had ever known and would ever know was One. Strange to say, too, that night we crossed the ferry with Bill Burroughs a girl committed suicide off the deck; either just before or just after us; we saw it in the paper the next day. The girl was from Ohio; she might as well have come floating down to New Orleans on a log, and saved her soul. We hit all the dull bars in the Latin Quarter with Bill and went back home at midnight. That night Louanne took everything in the books: she took tea, goofballs, benny, liquor and even asked Bill for a shot of M, which of course he didn’t give her. She was so saturated with elements of all kinds that she came to a standstill and stood goofy on the porch with me. It was a wonderful porch Bill had. It ran clear around the house. By moonlight, with the willows, it looked like an old Southern mansion that had seen better days. In the house Joan sat reading the wantads in the kitchen; Bill was in the bathroom taking a fix, clutching his old black necktie in his teeth for a tourniquette and jabbing with the needle into his scrawny arm with the thousand holes; Al Hinkle was sprawled out with Helen in the massive master bed that Bill and Joan never used; Neal was rolling tea; and Louanne and I imitated Southern aristocracy. “Why Miss Lou, you look lovely and most fetching tonight.” “Why thank you, Crawford, I sure do appreciate the nice things you say.” Doors kept opening around the crooked porch and members of our sad drama in the American night kept popping out to find out where everybody was. Finally I took a walk alone to the Levee. I wanted to sit on the muddy bank and dig the Mississipi River; instead of that I had to look at it with my nose against a wire fence. When you start separating the people from their rivers what have you got? “Bureacracy!” says Bill; he sits with Kafka on his lap, the lamp burns above him, he snuffs. His old house creaks. And the Montana log rolls by in the big black river of the night. “T’aint nothing but bureaucracy. And Unions!

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