Thursday, 30 October 2008

29 October 2008

was the worst winter in Texas and Western history, January 1949, when cattle perished like flies in great blizzards and snow fell on San Francisco and LA. We were all miserable. We wished we were back in New Orleans with Al Hinkle who at that very moment was sitting on Mississippi levees talking to old men with white hair instead of looking for an apartment and a job, typical of him. Louanne was driving, Neal was sleeping. She drove with one hand on the wheel, and the other reaching back to me in the backseat. She cooed promises about San Francisco. I slavered miserably over it. At ten I took the wheel---Neal was out for hours---and drove several hundred dreary miles across the bushy snows and ragged sage hills. Cowboys went by in baseball caps and earmuffs, looking for cows. Comfortable little homes with chimneys smoking appeared along the road at intervals. I wished we could go in for buttermilk and beans in front of the fireplace. At Sonora I again helped myself to free bread and cheese while the proprietor chatted with a big rancher on the other side of the store. Neal Huzzahed when he heard it; he was hungry. We couldn’t spend a cent on food. “Yass, yass,” said Neal watching the ranchers loping up and down Sonora mainstreet, “everyone of them is a bloody millionaire, thousand head of cattle, workhands, buildings, money in the bank. If I lived around here I’d go be an idiot in the sagebrush, I’d jack off, I’d lick up the branches, I’d look for pretty cowgirls---hee hee hee hee! Damn! Bam!” He socked himself. “Yes! Right! Oh me!” We didn’t know what he was talking about any more. He took the wheel and drove the rest of the way across the state of Texas, about five hundred miles, clear to El Paso, arriving at dusk and not stopping except once when he took all his clothes off, near Ozona, and ran like a jackal through the sage yipping and leaping. Cars zoomed by and didn’t see him. He scurried back to the car and drove on. “Now Jack, now Louanne, I want both of you to take all your clothes off---now what’s the sense of clothes---and sun your bellies with me. Come on!” We were driving west into the sun; it fell in through the windshield. “Open your belly as we drive into it.” Louanne took her clothes off: I decided not to be a fuddy and did likewise. We sat in the front seat.

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