Thursday, 11 December 2008

11 December 2008

lowed them awhile. We had to sleep: Helen Hinkle was out of the question. Neal knew a railroad brakeman called Henry Funderbunk who lived with his father in a hotel room on 3rd street. Originally he’d been on good terms with them but lately not so, and the idea was for me to try persuading them to let us sleep on their floor. It was horrible. I had to call from a morning diner. The old man answered the phone suspiciously. He remembered me from what his son had told him. To our surprise he came down to the lobby and let us in. It was just a sad old brown Frisco hotel. We went upstairs and the old man was kind enough to give us the entire bed. “I have to get up anyway” he said and retired to the little kitchenette to brew coffee. He began telling stories about his railroading days. He reminded me of my father. I stayed up and listened to the stories. Neal, not listening was washing his teeth and bustling around and saying “Yes that’s right,” to everything he said. Finally we slept; and in the morning Henry came back from the Bakersfield run and took the bed as Neal and I got up. Now old Mr Funderbunk dolled himself up for a date with his middleaged sweetheart. He put on a green tweed suit, a cloth cap same material, and stuck a flower in his lapel. “These romantic old brokendown Frisco brakemen live sad but eager lives of their own” I told Neal in the toilet. “It was very kind of him to let us sleep here.” “Yass, yeass” said Neal not listening. He rushed out to get a Travel Bureau car. My job was to hurry to Helen Hinkle’s for our bags. She was sitting on the floor with her fortunetelling cards. “Well goodbye Helen and I hope everything works out fine.” “When Al gets back I’m going to take him to Jackson’s Hole every night and let him get his fill of madness. Do you think that’ll work Jack? I don’t know what to do.” “What do the cards say?” “The ace of spades is far away from him. The heart cards always surround him - - the queen of hearts is never far. See this jack of spades? - - that’s Neal, he’s always around.” “Well we’re leaving for New York in an hour.” “Someday Neal’s going to go on one of these trips and never come back.” She let me take a shower and shave and then I said goodbye and took the bags downstairs and hailed a Frisco taxi-bus, which is an ordinary taxi that runs

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