Thursday, 29 January 2009

29 January 2009

first order. I saw him wish a well-to-do-man Merry Christmas so volubly a fivespot in change was never missed. We went out and spent it in Birdland the bop joint. On a misty night we talked on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 49th , three in the morning. “Well Jack, damn, I wish you weren’t going, I really do. It’ll be my first time in New York without my old buddy.” And he said “New York, I stop over in it, Frisco’s my hometown. All the time I’ve been here I haven’t had any girl but Diane---this only happens to me in New York. Damn! But the mere thought of crossing that awful continent again…Jack we haven’t talked straight in a long time.” In New York we were always jumping around frantically with crowds of friends at drunken parties. It somehow didn’t seem to fit Neal. He looked more like himself huddling in the cold misty spray of the rain on empty 5th ave. at night. “Diane loves me. She’s told me and promised me I can do anything I want and they’ll be a minimum of trouble…You see man, you get older and trouble piles up. Someday you and me’ll be coming down an alley together at sundown and looking in the cans to see.” “You mean we’ll end up old bums?” “Why not man? Of course we will if we want to, and all that. There’s no harm ending that way. You spend a whole life of non-interference with the wishes of others including politicians and the rich and nobody bothers you and you cut along and make it your own way.” I agreed with him. He was reaching his mature decisions in the simplest direct way. “What’s your road, man?---holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where body how?” We nodded in the rain. This was kind sense. “Sheeit, and you’ve got to look out for your body. He ain’t a man less he’s a jumping man - -do what the doctor say. I’ll tell you Jack, straight, no matter where I live my trunk’s always sticking out from under the bed, I’m ready to leave or get thrown out. I’ve decided to leave everything out of my hands. YOU’ve seen me try and break my ass to make it and YOU know that it doesn’t matter and we know time…how to slow it up and walk and dig and just oldfashioned spade kicks, what other kicks are there? We know.” We sighed in the rain. It was falling all up and down the Hud-

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

28 January 2009

darted among fenders, leaped over bumpers, shot behind the wheel and roared off ten feet and humped the car dead-stop; got out, ran clear across the lot, moved five cars off the brickwall in twenty seconds; raced back maniacally, leaped into the offending bottleneck car and whirled it around the lot among zigzagged dead cars to a neat stop in an unobtrusive corner. When usually I came to visit him at dusk there was nothing to do. He stood in the shack counting tickets and rubbing his belly. The radio was always on. “Man have you dug that mad Marty Glickman announcing basketball games---up-to-mid-court-bounce-fake-netshot (pause) swish, two points. Absolutely the greatest announcer I ever heard.” He was reduced to simple pleasures like these. He lived with Diane in a coldwater flat in the East Seventies. When he came home at night he took off all his clothes and put on a hiplength Chinese silk jacket and sat in his easy chair to smoke a waterpipe loaded with tea. These were his coming-home pleasures: together with a dirty deck of cards. “Lately I’ve been concentrating on this deuce of diamonds, which depicted a tall mournful fellow and a lascivious sad whore on a bed trying a position. “Go ahead man, I’ve used it many times!” Diane his wife cooked in the kitchen and looked in with a wry smile. Everything was allright with her. “Dig her? Dig her man? That’s Diane. See, that’s all she does, she pokes her head in the door and smiles. Oh I’ve talked with her and we’ve got everything straightened out most beautifully. We’re going to go and live on a farm in New Hampshire this summer---station wagon for me to cut back to NY for kicks, nice big house and have a lot of kids in the next few years. Ahem! Harrumph! Egad!” He leaped out of the chair and put on a Willie Jackson record. This was exactly what he had been doing with Carolyn in Frisco. Diane called up the second wife on the phone repeatedly and had long talks with her. They even exchanged letters about Neal’s eccentricity. Of course he had to send Carolyn part of his pay every month for support or he’d wind up in jail. To make up lost money he pulled tricks in the lot, a change artist of the

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

27 January 2009

Venezualan poet, Jinny Baker a former lover of mine, Allen Ginsberg, Gene Pippin and innumerable others---“come over here man.” Neal came bashfully over. An hour later in the drunkenness of the party with which of course he had nothing to do he was kneeling on the floor with his chin on her belly and telling her and promising her everything and sweating. She was a big sexy brunette, as Villa said “Something straight out of Degas” and generally like a beautiful Parisian whore. The next day Neal was living with her; in a matter of months they were dickering with Carolyn in San Francisco by long-distance telephone for the necessary divorce papers so they could get married. Not only that, but another few months later Carolyn gave birth to Neal’s second baby, the results of a few nights understanding just before I got there. And another matter of months and Diane had a baby. Together with one illegitimate child in Colorado somewhere, Neal was now the father of four little ones and didn’t have a cent and was all troubles and ecstasy and speed as ever. Came the time when I finally went West alone with some new money with the intention of sinking down to Mexico and spending it there, and Neal---threw everything up and came to join me. It was our last trip and it ended among the banana trees that we always knew were at the end of the road.
As I say, I came into some new money and---once I straightened out my mother with rent for the rest of the year---nothing to do, nowhere to go. I would never have gone off again except for two things. One: a woman who fed me lobsters, mushroom-on-toast and Spring asparagus in the middle of the night in her apartment in NY but gave me a bad time otherwise. Two: whenever Spring comes to NY I can’t stand the suggestions of the land that come blowing over the river from New Jersey and I’ve got to go. So I went. For the first time in our lives I said goodbye to Neal in New York and left him there. He worked in a parking lot on Madison and 40th. As ever he rushed around in his ragged shoes and T-shirt and belly-hanging pants all by himself straightening out immense noontime rushes of cars. He

Monday, 26 January 2009

26 January 2009

him. He was reaching a pious frenzy. He sweated and sweated. The moment we were in the new Chrysler and off to New York the poor man realized he had contracted a ride with two maniacs, but he made the best of it and in fact got used to us just as we passed the Briggs Stadium and talked about next year’s Detroit Tigers. In the misty night we crossed Toledo and went onward across old Ohio. I realized I was beginning to cross and re-cross towns in America as though I was a traveling salesman---ragged travellings, bad stock, rotten beans in the bottom of my bag of tricks, nobody buying. The man got tired near Pennsylvania and Neal took the wheel and drove clear the rest of the way to New York and we began to hear the Symphony Sid show on the radio with all the latest bop and now we entering the great and final city of America. We got there in early morning. Times Square was being torn up, for NY never rests. We looked for Hunkey automatically as we passed. In an hour we were out at my mother’s new flat on Long Island where the Detroit man wanted to clean up, and she herself was busily engaged with painters who were friends of the family arguing with them about the price as we stumbled up the stairs from San Francisco. “Jack” said my mother “Neal can stay here a few days and after that he has to get out, do you understand me?” The trip was over. Neal and I took a walk that night among the gas tanks and railroad bridges and foglamps of Long Island. I remember him standing under a streetlamp. “Just as we passed that other lamp I was going to tell you a further thing, Jack but now I am parenthetically continuing with a new thought and by the time we reach the next I’ll return to the original subject, agreed?” I certainly agreed. We were so used to traveling we had to walk all over Long Island but there was no more land, just the Atlantic Ocean and we could only go so far. We clasped hands and agreed to be friends forever. Not five nights later we went to a party in New York and I saw a girl called Diane and I told her I had a friend with me that she ought to meet sometime. I was drunk and told her he was a cowboy. “Oh I’ve always wanted to meet a cowboy.” “Neal? I yelled across the party, which included Jose Garcia Villa the poet, Walter Adams, Victor Tejeira the

Sunday, 25 January 2009

25 January 2009

it. “Oh has she got the rock in the belly!” whispered Neal. She sped through a red light on Hastings Street and instantly a cruising car overtook us and ordered us to stop. Neal and I hopped out with our hands up. That’s how wretched we’d become by now. The cops immediately frisked us. We had nothing on but T Shirts. They patted us and felt everywhere and scowled and were dissatisfied. “Goddam it” Edie said “I never get in cop trouble when I’m alone. Listen here you guys do you know who my father is? I won’t have any of this bull!” “What are you doing with that case of beer in back of the car?” “It’s none of yr. good goddam business.” “It so happens you went through a redlight young lady.” “So?” You never saw anybody sassier with the cops. As for Neal and I we were completely inured to it. We followed the cops to the station house and gave ourselves over to the desk. Neal even got excited and told stories to the Sgt. Edie was making important phonecalls and getting all her relatives lined up behind her. She turned on me with fury. “Kerouac it’s always you when there’s cops, you and that damn friend of yrs. Look like a couple of 1st class hoodlums. I’ll have nothing absolutely nothing to do with you any damned more.” “That’s allright” I said “Yr. mother said I shouldn’t reopen any old wounds, she said I was a bum.” “And do you know she’s right?” Neal and I were delighted to be in the police station, it was just like home, we had a wonderful time. The cops were sort of pleased with us. Another step and we’d be getting the hose in the backroom and screaming with delight---maybe. Edie thoroly frightened the entire precinct with her socialite sassy insults and threats and we were all let free and went off to drink the case of beer. In a dizzy dream she left and went home and I’ve never seen her again. In the following afternoon Neal and I struggled five miles in local buses with all our beat gear and got to the home of the man who was going to charge us $4 apiece for the ride to NY. He was a middleaged blond fellow with glasses, with a wife and kid and a good home. We waited in the yard while he got ready. His lovely wife in cotton kitchen dress offered us coffee but we were too busy talking. By this time Neal was so exhausted and out of his mind that everything he saw delighted

Saturday, 24 January 2009

24 January 2009

would have to roam the entire United States and look in every garbage pail from coast to coast before he found me embryonically convoluted among the rubbishes of my life, his life and the life of everybody concerned and not concerned. What would I have said to him from my rubbish womb. “Don’t bother me, man, I’m happy where I am. You lost me one night in Detroit in August 1949. What right have you to come and disturb my reverie in this pukish can.” In 1942 I was the star in one of the filthiest dramas of all time. I was a seaman, and went to the Imperial CafĂ© on Scollay Square in Boston to drink. I drank 60 glasses of beer and retired to the toilet, where I wrapped myself around the toilet bowl and went to sleep. During the night at least a hundred sailors, seamen and assorted civilians came in and pissed and puked on me till I was unrecognizably caked. What difference does it make after all?---anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what’s heaven? what’s earth? all in the mind. Gibberishly Neal and I stumbled out of this horror-hole at dawn and went to find our Travel Bureau car. The end had come. There was nothing left but despair. After spending a good part of the morning in Negro bars and chasing gals and listening to jazz records on jukeboxes, we finally got our car and were instructed to go out to the man’s home with our gear and be ready to go. Neal and I sat in a park resting on the grass. Neal was looking at me. “Say man do you know you’re going to have trouble with your ears in a few years?” “What are you talking about?” “You’ve got brown in your ears, that’s a bad sign.” It wasn’t my fault, I wouldn’t even discuss it. “What do you want me to do about it?” I yelled. “Did I make the world? Did I perpetrate or even hint it?” Then I rubbed my small finger into my ear and noticed Neal was right. It was very sad. Everything was falling apart by degrees. We reclined in the grass and looked at the blue sky. Trolleys screeched all around us. In the afternoon we learned we’d have to wait another day, and that evening I called Edie again and this time she showed up with a case of beer in back of her car and we went out to hear jazz again. She had positively nothing to say about hanging us uop the night before; she hardly realized she’d done

Friday, 23 January 2009

23 January 2009

eyes many a time. His ghost haunted us. We’d never find him on Times Square again. We thought maybe by accident Old Neal Cassady was here too---but he was not. For 35c each we went into the beatup old movie and sat down in the balcony, till morning when we were shooed downstairs. The people who were in that allnight movie were the end. Beat Negroes who’d come up from Alabama to work in car factories on a rumor; old white bums; young longhaired hipsters who’d reached the end of the road and were drinking wine; whores, ordinary couples and housewives with nothing to do, nowhere to go, nobody to believe in. If you sifted all Detroit in a wire basket the beater solid core of dregs couldn’t be better gathered. The picture was singing cowboy Roy Dean and his gallant white Horse Bloop, that was number one; number two doublefeature film was Geo. Raft, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre in a picture about Istanbul. We saw both of these things six times each during the night. We saw them waking, we heard them sleeping, we sensed them dreaming, we were permeated completely with the strange gray Myth of the West and the weird dark Myth of the East when morning came. All my actions since then have been dictated automatically to my subconscious by this horrible osmotic experience. I heard big Greenstreet sneer a hundred times; I heard Peter Lorre make his sinister come-on, I was with Geo. Raft in his paranoiac fears; I rode and sang with Roy Dean and shot up the rustlers innumerable times. People slugged out of bottles and turned around and looked everywhere in the dark theater for something to do, somebody to talk to. In the head everybody was guiltily quiet, nobody talked. In the gray dawn that puffed ghostlike about the windows of the theater and hugged its eaves I was sleeping with my head on the wooden arm of a seat as six attendants of the theater converged with their nights’ total of swept-up rubbish and created a huge dusty pile that reached to my nose as I snored head down---till they almost swept me away too. This was reported to me by Neal who was watching from ten seats behind. All the cigarette butts, the bottles, the matchbooks, the come and the gone was swept up in this pile. Had they taken me with it Neal would have never seen me again. He

22 January 2009

happened? It’s never occurred to you that she has a boy, a lover in Detroit, he came to get her just now. You wait here you’ll wait all night” “She was never like that!” “You don’t get to know women even after a million years with them. It’s just like Louanne, man, they’re all whores---and you know that I mean by whore something entirely than what the word means. They just turn their minds away from you and like changing fur coats they don’t care any more. Women can forget what men can’t. She’s forgotten you, man. You don’t want to believe it.” “I can’t.” “You saw her with your own eyes didn’t you?” “I guess I did.” “She slipped off with him. Real bitchy too, she won’t even tell you the slightest what’s on her mind. Oh man, I know these women, I’ve been watching her these two days and I know, I KNOW.” Summer was over. We stood on the sidewalk in front of the bar---and what the hell were we doing in Detroit?---and it grew cold. It was the first cold dusk since the Spring. We huddled in our T-Shirts. “Ah man I know how you feel. And we’ve settled our lives on this grip---I’ve done with Carolyn, I’m long done with Louanne, and now you’re done with Edie. We’ll all go to NY and start all over again. I loved Louanne with every fibre in my bones, man, and I got the same treatment you’re getting.” Nevertheless I walked back to her house to see if she was there. Her mother was home now, I saw her in the kitchen window. This was an era in my life all washed up. I agreed with Neal. “People change, man, that’s what you gotta know.” “I hope you and I’ll never change.” “We know, we know.” We got on a trolley and rode to downtown Detroit, and suddenly I remembered that Louis Ferdinand Celine had once rode on the same trolley with his friend Robinson, whoever Robinson was if not like Celine himself; and Neal was like myself, for I’d had a dream of Neal the night before in the hotel, and Neal was me. In any case he was my brother and we stuck together. We couldn’t afford another night in the hotel room so we stashed our gear in a Greyhound locker and decided to stay up in an all night movie on Skid Row. It was too cold for parks. Hunkey had been here on Detroit skidrow, he had dug every shooting gallery and allnight movie and every brawling bar with his dark

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

21 January 2009

all that and had let herself fall into complete self-indulgence and uncare. But that old spark was still there. Only a matter of months earlier Hunkey had visited her in Detroit and left a whole passel of fine shirts in her house where he’d stayed a few days complaining until her mother threw him out. Hunkey was in Sing Sing now, stashed away for years among the bongo cans Puerto Rican prisoners make for sunset pleasures in steel halls. She gave me one of his shirts; my new wife wears it now; a beautiful fine shirt, typical of Hunkey. I wanted to make love to Edie for the last time but she wouldn’t have it. We drove to the lake, alone, leaving Neal at the hotel where the whore proprietors in slacks had refused letting Edie in for talk and beerdrinking (“We don’t run that kind of place!”) and Edie told them to go to hell. At the lake we sat in the car like ordinary lovers. I said “What about you and I trying it for the first time or the last time or whatever you want.” “Don’t be silly.” I got mad and jumped out of the car and slammed the door and went off to “brood” by the water. This had always worked before, she always followed and soothed me. But now she simply shifted to reverse, backed out and drove home to go to sleep, leaving me with seven miles of Detroit night to walk in because there wasn’t a bus running anywhere. I walked back four miles to the nearest trolley line. It was like the walks I had taken on dark Alameda boulevard in Denver when I used to beat my head on the tar that shimmered in the starlight. It was all over, Neal said we might as well go to NY. I wanted to give it one last try. We went to Edie’s the following afternoon and spent another goofy five hours with the crazy kids and devouring food from the icebox while her mother was at work. Then Edie told us to wait in the Mack Ave. bar same one with the inquisitive bartender, till she joined us there. Just as we rounded the corner I looked back and saw her waving at a car in the street and slipping from the front door into it. The car backed so as not to come our way and vanished. I said “What the hell is that? Was that Edie getting in that car? Isn’t she going to meet us here?” Neal was silent. We waited an hour and then he put his arm around me and said “Jack you don’t want to believe but don’t you see what

20 January 2009

again I want a maid this time.” That clinched it. “I don’t want to wash dirty dishes, let somebody else do it. “Ain’t you got a pretty soul?” “Soul don’t mean nothing to me Kerouac, cut that juvenile talk and talk facts.” “You can stuff your facts up.” “Ah-ha, same old fool.” This was our lovey-dovey talk. Neal listened and looked sharply. “You know the trouble with her?” he told me. “She’s got a rock in her belly, she got a weight in there that just pushes and vibrates against her stomach and won’t let her come down and talk. She won’t do anything for the rest of her life except goof and goof all the time and you’ll never get anywhere with her.” That was a pretty fair estimate. Still I had such regard for her from the past I didn’t want to leave Detroit right away. I wanted to have it out with her. That night she got a girlfriend for Neal, but the girlfriend couldn’t shake her own boyfriend and all five of us went out in Edie’s car to hear jazz in Hastings street Detroit colored section. It’s a sullen town. A group of Negroes passt us on the street and said “Sure is a lot of white people around here.” We were back East sure enough. Neal shook his head sadly. “Man, it ain’t nice around here. This is one hell of a town.” Detroit is actually one of the worst towns possible in America. Its nothing but miles and miles of factories and the downtown section is no bigger than Troy N.Y except the population is way up in the millions. Everybody thinks about money, money, money. But down on Hastings st. the boys were blowing. A great big baritone sax that Neal and I had seen actually before in Jackson’s Hole Frisco that winter was on the stand, but the stand was elevated over the bar, where the girls danced, and the whole idea was dance not music. Nevertheless old baritone blew and rocked his big horn on a fast blues. And poor Edie, she sat at the bar with her little hands knotted into childish fists, holding them up before her face with glee to hear it. And suddenly she said to me in the uproar “Hey! That Neal has a great soul.” I said “How did you know that?” Then I knew Edie was as great as ever but that there was something between us now and we’d never make it together. I was pretty sad. That something was the years apart---she had changed, changed friends, ways of spending evenings, interests,

Monday, 19 January 2009

19 January 2009

pads and told us to get up. There had been a complaint about two hoodlums casing a house from a lawn across the street and talking in loud voices. “You got us all wrong officer, that house is my former wife’s house and we’re waiting for her to come home.” “Who’s this fellow with you?” “That’s my friend. We come in from California on the way to NY and my wife is coming with us.” “I thought you said she was your former wife.” “The marriage was annulled but we may get married again.” Hesitantly the cops went off, but they told us to get the hell out of the neighbourhood. We went to a bar and waited there. The cops had already talked to the bartender and told him the whole story, so as to keep his eye on us. Neal went back to Edie’s house after an hour to check on what was happening and horror of horrors, the cops had knocked on the door and talked to her mother and told her what I was doing. She had no use for me. She had gotten herself a new husband, a middleaged paint manufacturer, and didn’t want any more trouble with the likes of my kind. She disclaimed all responsibility for what I might do in Detroit. Not only that they got her up out of bed. Neal and I decided to go back downtown and lay low. When Edie came back from somewhere in Detroit late that night she was amazed to hear the news. In the morning she herself was at the phone when I called. “You and that crazy friend of yours come on out right away. I’ll be waiting on the corner with the kids.” The kids turned out to be wild young rock-in-the-belly socialite juvenile delinquents, and here she was about 27 years old and still as goofy as ever. The moment I saw her I knew I’d never go back to her: she was fat, her hair was clippt short, she wore overalls and munched on candy with one hand and drank beer with the other. She paid no attention to Neal and I, her old trick, just talked and giggled with the kids. However she fed us well, her mother was out, we raided a roast for fair. Then we went rattling around in the kids’ hotrod for no especial reason. They were crazy kids: sixteen years old and already in trouble with the cops with speeding tickets and whatnot.. “What you come back to Detroit for Kerouac?” “I don’t know, I wanted to see you.” “Well if we’re gonna get married and all that stuff

Sunday, 18 January 2009

18 January 2009

generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done…whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was. “What do you want out of life?” I wanted to take her and wring it out of her. She didn’t have the slightest idea what she wanted. She mumbled of jobs, movies, going to her grandmother’s for the summer, wishing she could go to New York and visit the Roxy, what kind of outfit she would wear---something like the one she wore last Easter, white bonnet, roses, rose pumps and leather gabardine coat. “What do you do on Sunday afternoons?” I asked. She sat on her porch. The boys went by on bicycles and stopped to chat. She read the funny papers, she reclined on the hammock. “What do you do on a warm summer’s night?” She sat on the porch, she watched the cars go by in the road. She and her mother made popcorn. “What does your father do on a summer’s night?” He works, he has an all-night shift at the boiler factory. “What does your brother do on a summer’s night?” He rides around on his bicycle, he hangs out in front of the sodafountain. What is he aching to do? What are we all aching to do? What do we want?” She didn’t know. She yawned. She was sleepy. It was too much. Nobody could tell. Nobody would ever tell. It was all over. She was eighteen and most lovely, and lost. And Neal and I, ragged and dirty like as if we had lived off locust, stumbled out of the bus in Detroit and went across the street and got a cheap hotel with the bulb hanging from the ceiling and raised the brown torn shade and looked out on the brickalley. Right beyond the furthest garbage pails something awaited us…Two gone women in slacks ran the place. We thought it was a whore house. Rules were printed and tacked on every slatwall in the joint. “Have consideration for fellow tenants and don’t hang wash in here.” Don’t do this, don’t do that. Neal and I went out and ate a meatloaf meal in a bum cafeteria and started walking to my wife’s house five miles up Mack Avenue in the vast Detroit dusk. I had called her and she wasn’t in yet. “We’ll wait for her if necessary all night on the lawn.” “Right man, now I’m following with you and you lead the way.” At ten o’clock that night we were still wrapped in conversation when a cruising car pulled up and two cops got out with

Saturday, 17 January 2009

17 January 2009

the Cadillac to the owner, who lived out on Lake Shore drive in a swank apartment with the enormous garage underneath managed by oil-scarred Negroes who had to sleep nights to hold their jobs and couldn’t stay up all night with the bop. We drove out there and swung the muddy heap into its berth. The mechanic did not recognize the Cadillac. We handed the papers over. He scratched his head at the sight of it. We had to get out fast. We did. We took a bus back to downtown Chicago and that was that. And we never heard a word from our Chicago Baron about the condition of the car, in spite of the fact that he had our addresses and could have complained. It was simply that he had a lot of money and didn’t care what kind of fun we had with his car which might have been only one of many in his stable. It was time for us to move on to Detroit and conclude the final thing in our disordered life together on the road. “If Edie’s willing she’ll come straight back to NY with us. We’ll get an apartment in town and if that Beverly Denver girl of yurs. actually does follow you we’ll be all set with our women and go out and get jobs and eventually if I make any more money we’ll do exactly as we said in the trolley car, we’ll go to Italy.” “Yes man, let’s go!” We took a bus to Detroit, our money was now running quite low. We lugged our wretched baggage through the station. By now Neal’s thumb bandage was almost as black as coal and all unrolled. We were both as miserable looking as anybody could be after all the things we’d done. Exhausted Neal fell asleep in the bus that roared across the state of Michigan. I took up a conversation with a pretty country girl wearing a lowcut cotton blouse that displayed the beautiful suntan on her breast tops. I was on my way to see my wild former wife, I wanted to test other girls and see what they had to offer me. She was dull. She spoke of evenings in the country making popcorn on the porch. Once this would have gladdened my heart but because her heart was not glad when she said it I knew there was nothing in it but the idea of what one should do. “And what else do you do for fun?” I tried to bring up boyfriends and sex. Her great dark eyes surveyed me with emptiness and a kind of chagrin that reached back generations and

16 January 2009

unpacked and played till nine o’clock in the morning. Neal and I were there with beers. At intermissions we rushed out in the Cadillac and tried to pick up girls all up and down Chicago. They were frightened of our big scarred prophetic car. We rushed back, we rushed out again. In his mad frenzy Neal backed up smack on hydrants and tittered maniacally. By nine o’clock the car was an utter wreck; the brakes weren’t working any more; the fenders were stove in; the rods were rattling. It was a muddy boot and no longer a shiny limousine. It had paid the price of the night. “Whee!” The boys were still blowing at Neets’. And suddenly Neal stared into the darkness of a corner beyond the bandstand and said “Jack, God has arrived.” I looked. Who was sitting in the corner with Denzel Best and John Levy and Chuck Wayne the onetime cowboy guitarist? GEORGE SHEARING. And as ever he leaned his blind head on his pale hand and all ears opened like the ears of an elephant listened to the American sounds and mastered them for his own English summer’s night-use. Then they urged him to get up and play. He did. He blew innumerable choruses replete with amazing chords that mounted higher and higher till, the sweat splashed all over the piano and everybody listened in awe and fright. They led him off the stand after an hour. He went back to his dark corner, old God Shearing, and the boys said “There ain’t nothing left after that.” But the slender leader frowned. “Let’s blow anyway.” Something would come of it yet. There’s always more, a little further---it never ends. They sought to find new phrases after Shearing’s explorations; they tried hard. They writhed and twisted and blew. Every now and then a clear harmonic cry gave new suggestions of a tune that would sometime be the only tune in the world and which would raise men’s souls to joy. They found it, they lost it, they wrestled for it, they found it again, they laughed, they moaned----and Neal sweated at the table and told them to go, go, go. At nine o’clock in the morning everybody, musicians, girls in slacks, bartenders, and the one little skinny unhappy trombonist staggered out of the club into the great roar of Chicago day to sleep until the wild bop night again. Neal and I shuddered in the raggedness. It was now time to return

15 January 2009

his horn is held weakly against his chest and he blows cool and easy getout phrases and has given up. Here were the children of the American bebop night. Stranger flowers yet---for as the Negro alto mused over everyone’s head with dignity, the young tall slender blond kid from Curtis street Denver, Levis and studded belt, sucked on his mouthpiece while waiting for the others to finish; and when they did he started, and you had to look around to see where the solo was coming from, for it came from angelical smiling lips upon the mouthpiece and it was a soft sweet fairytale solo on an alto. A fag alto had come into the night. What of the others and all the soundmaking- -there was the bassplayer, wiry redhead with wild eyes jabbing his hips at the fiddle with every driving slap, at hot moments his mouth hangs open trancelike. “Man there’s a cat who can really fuck his girl.” The sad dissipated drummer, like our white hipster in Frisco Howard st., completely goofed, staring into space, chewing gum, wide-eyed, rocking the neck with Reich kick and complacent ecstasy. The piano---a big husky Italian truckdriving kid with meaty hands, a burly and thoughtful joy. They played an hour. Nobody was listening. Old No.Clark bums lolled at the bar, whores screeched in anger. Secret Chinamen went by. Noises of hootchykootchy interfered. They went right on. Out on the sidewalk came an apparition---a 16 yr. old kid with a goatee and a trombone case. Thin as rickets, madfaced, he wanted to join this group and blow with them. They knew him from before and didn’t want to bother with him. He crept into the bar and surreptitiously undid his trombone and raised it to his lips. No opening. Nobody looked at him. They finished, packed up and left for another bar. They were gone. The boy had his horn out, assembled it and polished the bell and no one cares. He wants to jump, skinny Chicago Kid. He slaps on his dark glasses, raises the trombone to his lips alone in the bar, and goes “Baugh!” Then he rushes out after them. They won’t let him play with them, just like the sandlot football team in back of the gastank. “All these guys live with their grandmothers just like Jim Holmes and our Allen Ginsberg alto” said Neal. We rushed after the whole gang. They went into Anita O’Day’s club and there

Thursday, 15 January 2009

14 January 2009

like a freckled boxer, meticulously wrapped inside his sharkskin plaid suit with the long drape and the collar falling back and the tie undone for exact sharpness and casualness, sweating and hitching up his horn and writhing into it, and a tone just like Prez Lester Young himself. “You see man Prez has the technical anxieties of a money-making musician, he’s the only one who’s well dressed, see him grow worried when he blows a clinker, but the leader that cool cat tells him not to worry and just blow and blow---the mere sound and serious exuberance of the music is all HE cares about. He’s an artist. He’s teaching young Prez the boxer. Now the others dig!!” The third sax was an alto, 18 year old cool contemplative Charley Parker-type Negro from High School---with a broadgash mouth---taller than the rest---grave---raised his horn and blew into it quietly and thoughtfully and elicited birdlike phrases and architectural Miles Davis logics. These were the children of the great bop innovators. Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge vigorous and virile blasting the horn for everything it had in ways of power and logic and subtlety---leaning to it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazzworld. Then had come Charley Parker---a kid in his mother’s woodshed in Kansas City, blowing his taped-up alto among the logs, practicing on rainy days, coming out to watch the old swinging Basie and Benny Moten band that had Hot Lips Page and the rest---Charley Parker leaving home and coming to Harlem, and meeting mad Thelonius Monk and madder Gillespie…Charlie Parker in his early days when he was flipped and walked around in a circle while playing. Somewhat younger than Lester Young, also from KC, that gloomy saintly goof in whom the history of jazz was wrapped: for when he held his horn high and horizontal from his mouth he blew the greatest; and as his hair grew longer and he got lazier and turned to junk, his horn came down halfway; till it finally fell all the way and today wearing his thicksoled shoes so that he can’t feel the sidewalks of life

13 January 2009

I shaved and showered, I dropped my wallet in the Hall, Neal found it and was about to sneak it in his shirt when he realized it was ours and was right disappointed. Then we said goodbye to those boys who were glad they’d made it in one piece and took off to eat in a cafeteria. Old brown Chicago with the glooms that shroud the Els and the sullen whores that cut along and the strange semi-eastern, semi-western types going to work and spitting: Neal stood in front of the cafeteria rubbing his belly and taking it all in. He wanted to talk to a strange middleaged colored woman who had come into the cafeteria with a story about how she had no money but she had buns with her and would they give her butter. She came in flapping her hips, was turned down and went flipping her ass. “Whoo!” said Neal. “Let’s follow her down the street, let’s take her to the old Cadillac in the alley. We’ll have a ball the three of us.” But we forgot that and headed straight for No. Clark street, after a spin in the Loop, to see the hootchikootchy joints and hear the bop. And what a night it was. “Oh man” said Neal to me as we stood in front of a bar “dig these old Chinamen that cut by Chicago. What a weird town---whee! And that woman in the window up there, just looking down with her big breasts hanging from her nightgown. Just big wide eyes waiting. Wow! Jack we gotta go and never stop going till we get there.” “Where we going man?” “I don’t know but we gotta go.” Then here came a gang of young bop musicians carrying their instruments out of cars. They piled right into a saloon and we followed them. They set themselves up and started blowing. There we were! The leader was a slender drooping curly-haired pursy-mouth tenorman, thin of shoulder, draped loose in a sports shirt, cool in the warm night, self-indulgence written in his eyes, who picked up his horn and frowned in it and blew cool and complex and was dainty stamping his foot to catch ideas and ducked to miss others---and said “Blow” very quietly when the other boys took solos. The leader, the encourager, the schoolmaker in the great formal school of underground American music that would someday be studied all over the universities of Europe and the World. Then there was Prez, a husky handsome blond

Monday, 12 January 2009

12 January 2009

every day, we offered a real strange sight: six unshaven men, the driver bare-chested, me in the backseat holding on to a strap and my head leaned back on the cushion looking at the countryside with an imperious eye---just like a California gang coming in to contest the spoils of Chicago, or at least, the young lieutenants and chauffeurs and gunsels thereof. When we stopped for cokes and gas at a smalltown station people came out to stare at us but they never said a word and I think made mental notes of our descriptions and heights in case of future need. To transact business with the girl who ran the gaspump Neal merely threw on his T. Shirt like a scarf and was curt and abrupt as usual and got back in the car and off we roared again. Pretty soon the redness turned purple, the last of the enchanted rivers flashed by, and we saw distant smokes of Chicago beyond the drive. We had come from Denver to Chicago, 1028 miles according to the Rand-McNally mileage chart, in exactly 23 hours counting the two hours we wasted in the Colarado ditch and at Ed Uhl ranch eating, and the hour with the police in Iowa, for a a mean total of 20 averaging 51 across the land with one driver, and 59 counting the extra 150 miles out of the way for Stirling. (or 1178 mis. in all). Which is a kind of crazy record in the night. The great metropolis of Chicago glowed red before our eyes. We were suddenly on Madison street among hordes of hoboes some of them sprawled out on the street with their feet in the curb, as hundreds of others milled in the doorways of saloons and alleys. “Wup! Wup! Look sharp for old Neal Cassady there, he may be in Chicago by accident this year.” We let out the hoboes on this street and proceeded to downtown Chicago. Screeching trolleys, newsboys, gals cutting by, the smell of fried food and beer in the air, neons winking- -“We’re back in the bigtown Jack! Whooee!” First thing to do was park the Cadillac in a good dark spot and wash up and dress for the night. Across the street from the YMCA we found a redbrick alley between buildings where we stashed the Cadillac with her snout pointed to the street and ready to go, then followed the college boys up to the Y where they got a room and allowed us the privilege of using their facilities for an hour. Neal and

Saturday, 10 January 2009

10 January 2009

seat. A strange pathetic accident took place. A fat colored man was driving his entire family in a sedan in front of us; on the rear bumper hung one of those canvas desert waterbags they sell tourists in the desert. He pulled up sharp, Neal was talking to the boys in the back and didn’t notice, and we rammed him at 15 miles an hour smack on the waterbag which burst like a boil and squirted water in the air. No other damage except a bent fender. Neal and I got out to talk to him. The upshot of it was an exchange of addresses and some talk, and Neal not taking his eyes off the man’s wife whose beautiful brown breasts were barely concealed inside a floppy cotton blouse. “Yass, yass.” We gave him the address of our Chicago baron and went on. The other side of Des Moines a cruising car came after us with the siren growling with orders to pull over. “Now what!” The cop came out. “Were you in an accident coming in?” “Accident? We broke a guy’s waterbag at the junction.” He says he was hit and run by bunch in a stolen car.” This was one of the few instances Neal and I knew of a Negro acting like a suspicious old fool. It so surprised us we laughed. We had to follow the patrolman to the station and there spent an hour waiting in the grass while they telephoned Chicago to get the owner of the Cadillac and verify our position as hired drivers. Mr. Baron said, according to our cop: “Yes that’s my car but I can’t vouch for anything else those boys might have done.” “They were in a minor accident here in Des Moines.” “Yes, you’ve already told me that---what I meant was, I can’t vouch for anything they might have done in the past.” No dope. Everything was straightened out and we roared on. In the afternoon we crossed drowsy old Davenport again and the low-lying Mississippi in her sawdust bed; then Rock Island, a few minutes of traffic, the sun reddening and sudden sights of lovely little tributary rivers flowing softly among the magic trees and greeneries of mid-American Illinois. It was beginning to like the soft sweet East again; the great dry West was accomplished & done. The state of Illinois unfolded before my eyes in one vast movement that lasted a matter of hours as Neal balled straight across at the same speed and in his tiredness was taking greater chances than ever. At a

09 January 2009

sped, Neal bare-chested, I with my feet on the dashboard, and the college boys sleeping in the back. We stopped to eat breakfast at a diner run by a white haired lady of the land who gave us extra large portions of potatoes as churchbells rang in the nearby town. Then off again. “Neal don’t drive so fast in the daytime.” “Don’t worry man I know what I’m doing.” I began to flinch. Neal came up on lines of cars like the Angel of Terror. He almost rammed them along as he looked for an opening. He teased their bumpers, he eased and pushed and craned around to see the curve, then the huge car leaped to his touch and passed and always by a hair we made it back to our side as other lines filed by in the opposite direction and I shuddered. I couldn’t take it any more. It is only seldom that you find a long Nebraskan straightaway in Iowa and when we finally hit one Neal made his usual 110 and I saw flashing by outside several scenes that I remembered from 1947---a long stretch where Eddy and I had been stranded two hours. All that old road of my past unreeling dizzily as if the cup of life had been overturned and everything gone mad. My eyes ached in nightmare day. “Ah shit Neal, I’m going in the backseat, I can’t stand it any more, I can’t look.” “Hee hee hee!” tittered Neal and he passed a car on a narrow bridge and swerved in dust and roared on. I jumped in the backseat and curled up to sleep. One of the boys jumped in front for the fun. Great paranoiac horrors that we were going to crash this very morning took hold of me and I got down on the floor and closed my eyes and tried to go to sleep. As a seaman I used to think of the waves rushing beneath the shell of the ship and the bottomless deeps thereunder---now I could feel the road some twenty inches beneath me unfurling and flying and hissing at incredible speeds and on and on across the groaning continent. When I closed my eyes all I could see was the road unwinding into me. When I opened them I saw flashing shadows of trees vibrating on the floor of the car. There was no escaping it. I resigned myself to all. And still Neal drove, he had no thought of sleeping till we got to Chicago. In the afternoon we crossed old Des Moines again. Here of course we got snarled in traffic and had to go slow and I got back in the front

Friday, 9 January 2009

08 January 2009

to a fanning dawn; we were hurling up to it. Neal’s rocky dogged face as ever bent over the dashlight with a bony purpose of its own. “What are you thinking Pops?” “Ah-ha, ah-ha same old thing, y’know---gurls gurls gurls. Together also with a flitting thought and vagrant dreams-bedeviled with broken promises- -hup! ahem!” There was nothing to say in a good boat like that. I went to sleep and woke up to the dry hot atmospheres of July Sunday morning in Iowa, and still Neal was driving and driving and had not slackened up his speed the least bit except the curvy corndales of Iowa at a minimum of 80 and the straightaway 110 as usual unless bothways traffic forced him to fall in line at a crawling and most miserable 60. When there was a chance he shot ahead and passed cars by the half-dozen and left them behind in a cloud of dust. A mad guy in a brand new Buick saw all this on the road and decided to race us. When Neal was just about to pass a passel he shot by us without warning and howled and tooted his horn and flashed the tail lights for challenge. We took off after him like a bird dog. “Now wait” laughed Neal “I’m going to tease that sonofabitch for a dozen miles or so. Watch.” He let the Buick go way ahead and then accelerated and caught up with it most impolitely. Mad Buick went out of his mind: he gunned up to 100. We had a chance to see who he was. He seemed to be some kind of Chicago hipster traveling with a woman old enough to be, and probably actually his mother. God knows if she was complaining but he raced. His hair was dark and wild, an Italian from Old Chi; he wore a sports shirt. There was probably an idea in his mind that we were a new gang from LA invading Chicago, maybe some of Mickey Cohen’s men, because the limousine looked every bit the part and the license plates were California. Mainly it was just road kicks. He took terrible chances to stay ahead of us, he passed cars on curves and barely got back in line as a truck wobbled into view and loomed up huge. Eighty miles of Iowa we unreeled in this fashion and the race was so interesting that I had no opportunity to be frightened. Then the mad guy gave up, pulled up at a gas station, probably on orders from the old lady, and as we roared by he waved gleefully and acknowledged everything. On we

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

07 January 2009

they’d really give it to me---I mean rubber hoses and the works and probably accidental death. I had to get rid of my joint clothes and sneaked the neatest theft of a shirt and pants from a gas station, arriving in LA clad as a gas attendant and walked to the first station I saw and got hired and got myself a room and changed name and spent an exciting year in LA including a whole gang of new friends and some really great girls, that season ending when we were all driving on Hollywood boulevard one night and I told my buddy to steer the car while I kissed my girl- -I was at the wheel, see---and HE DIDN’T HEAR ME and we ran smack into a post but only going twenty and I broke my nose. You’ve seen before my nose…the crooked Grecian curve up here. After that I went to Denver and met Louanne in a sodafountain that spring. Oh man she was only fifteen and wearing Levis and just waiting for someone to pick her up. Three days and three nights of talking in the Ace Hotel, third floor, southeast corner room, a holy memento room and sacred scene of my days---she was so sweet then, so young, so whorish, so mine. Ah man I get older and older. Hup! Hup! Look at those old bums by the track with a fire.” He almost slowed down. “You see, I never know whether my father’s there or not.” There were some figures by the tracks reeling in front of a woodfire. “I never know where to ask. He might be anywhere.” We drove on. Somewhere behind us or in front of us in the huge night his father lay drunk under a bush, and no doubt about it---spittle on his chin, piss on his pants, molasses in his ears, goo in his nose, maybe blood on his hair and the moon shining down on him. I took Neal’s arm. “Ah man, we’re sure going home now.” New York was going to be his permanent home for the first time. He jiggled all over he couldn’t wait fast enough. “And think, Jack, when we get to Pennsy we’ll start hearing that gone Eastern bop on the disc jockeys. Geeyah, roll old boat roll!” That magnificent car made the wind roar; it made the plains unfold like a roll of paper; it cast hot tar from itself with deference---an imperial boat. Long after we’d left the great sage spaces of the Sandhills it bruited its immense snout bearing the dust of same through dews of Nile-like valleys and early morn. I opened my eyes

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

06 January 2009

fell asleep and we talked and talked all night. It was remarkable how Neal could go mad and then suddenly the next day just calmly and sanely continue with his soul---which I think is wrapped in a fast car, a coast to reach, and a woman at the end of the road----as tho nothing happened. “I get like that every time in Denver now---I can’t make that town any more. Gooky, gooky, Neal’s a spooky. Zoom!” We went thru a ghostlike town and resumed. I told him I had been over this Nebraska road before in 47. He had too. “Jack when I was working for the New Era Laundry in Los Angeles 1945 I made a trip to Indianapolis Indiana for the express purpose of seeing the Memorial Day races hitch hiking by day And stealing cars by night to make time. I was coming thru one of these towns we passed with a set of license plates under my shirt when a sheriff picked me up on suspicion. I made the most magnificent speech in my life to get out of that---telling him I was torn between a vision of Jesus and my old habits of stealing cars and had picked up the plates only to weigh the issue in my hand, of course that didn’t work until I started crying and beating my head on the desk and I meant it, I meant it! That’s the point---real awful feelings possessed me and at the same time every moment wasted made me later and later for the races. Of course I missed them, damn it, they sent me back to Denver on probation and everything was cleared there. The following Fall I did the same thing again to see the Notre Dame-Ohio State game in South Bend Indiana- -no hitch that time and Jack I had just the money for the ticket and didn’t eat anything all the way up and back except for what I could panhandle from all kinds of crazy cats I met on the road and at the game and so on. How mad I was then!---I was probably the only guy in the world who went to so much trouble to see an old ballgame and trying to gun cunts along the way.” I asked him the circumstances of his being in LA 1945. “I was arrested in California, you know. The name of the joint won’t mean anything to you but it was___ ___absolutely the worst place I’ve been in. I had to escape---I pulled the greatest escape in my life speaking of escapes you see in a general way. Well I got out and had to walk across the woods with the fear if they caught me

Monday, 5 January 2009

05 January 2009

dead and gone. Neal hopped in his chair convulsively. “Well yes, well yes, and now I think we’d better be cutting along because we gotta be in Chicago by tomorrow night and we’ve already wasted several hours.” The college boys thanked Uhl graciously and we were off again. I turned to watch the kitchen light recede in the sea of night. Then I leaned ahead. In no time at all we were back on the highway and that night I saw the entire state of Nebraska unroll perceptibly before my eyes. A hundred and ten miles an hour straight through, an arrow road, sleeping towns, no traffic, and the Union Pacific streamliner falling behind us in the moonlight. I wasn’t frightened at all that night; it was the next day when I saw how fast we were going that I gave it up and went in the back seat to shut my eyes. Now in the moony night it was perfectly legitimate to go 110 and talk and have all the Nebraska towns---Ogallala, Gothenburg, Kearny, Grand Island, Columbus---unreel with dreamlike rapidity as we roared ahead and talked. It was a magnificent car, it could hold the road like a boat holds water. Gradual curves were its singing ease. But Neal was punishing this car and by the time we got to Chicago, not the next night but when it was still daylight, the rods were all but gone. “Ah man what a dreamboat” sighed Neal. “Think if you and I had a car like this what we could do. Do you know there’s a road that goest down Mexico and all the way to Panama?- -and maybe all the way to the bottom of South America where the Indians are seven feet tall and eat cocaine on the mountainside? Yes! You and I, Jack, we’d dig the whole world with a car like this because man the road must eventually lead to the whole world. Ain’t nowhere else it can go? Right? Oh and are we going cut around old Chi with this thing! Think of it Jack I’ve never been to Chicago in all my life.” We’ll come in there like gangsters in this Cadillac!” “Yes! And girls!---we can pick up girls, in fact Jack I’ve decided to make extra special fast time so we can have an entire evening to cut around in this thing. Now you just relax and I’ll ball the jack all the way.” “Well how fast are you going now?” “A steady one-ten I figure---you wouldn’t notice it. We’ve still got all Iowa in the daytime and then I’ll make that old Illinois in nothing flat.” The boys

Sunday, 4 January 2009

04 January 2009

that you wouldn’t be able to see till dawn. After knocking on the door and calling out in the dark for Ed Uhl who was milking cows in the barn I took a short careful walk into that darkness, about twenty feet and no more. Me seems I heard coyotes. Uhl said what I heard probably one of his father’s wild horses whinnying in the distance. Ed Uhl was about our age, tall, rangy, spike-teeth, laconic. Neal had made a great story in the car about how he used to bang Ed’s wife before he married her. He and Neal used to stand around on Curtis st. corners and whistle at girls. Now he took us graciously into his gloomy brown unused parlor and fished around till he found dull lamps and lit them and said to Neal “What in the hell happened to yore thumb?” “I socked Louanne and it got infected so much they had to amputate the end of it.” “What in the hell did you go and do that for?” I could see he used to be Neal’s older brother. He shook his head; the milk pail was still at his feet. “You always been a crack-brained sonofabitch anyhow.” Meanwhile his young wife prepared a magnificent spread in the big ranch kitchen. She apologized for the peach ice cream. “It ain’t nothing but cream and peaches froze-up together.” Of course it was the only real ice cream I ever had in my whole life. She started sparsely and ended up abundantly; as we ate new things appeared on the table. She was a well built blonde but like all women who live in the wide spaces she complained a little of the boredom. She enumerated the radio programs she usually listened to at this time of night. Ed Uhl sat just staring at his hands. Neal ate voraciously. He wanted me to go along with him in the fiction that I owned the Cadillac, that I was a very rich man and Neal was my friend and chauffeur. It made no impression on Ed Uhl. Every time the stock made sounds in the barn he raised his head to listen. “Well I hope you boys make it to New York.” Far from believing that tale about my owning the Cadillac he was convinced Neal had stolen it. We stayed at the ranch about an hour. Ed Uhl had lost faith in Neal just like Jack Daly---he only looked at him warily when he looked. There were riotous days in the past when they had stumbled around the streets of Laramie Wyoming arm-in-arm when the haying was over and this was

Saturday, 3 January 2009

03 January 2009

took one last look at the prairie rose, and drove off, slower now, till dark came and Neal said Ed Uhl’s ranch was dead ahead. “Oh a girl like that scares me” I said. “I’d give up everything and throw myself at her mercy and if she didn’t want me I’d just as simply go and throw myself off the edge of the world.” The Jesuit boys giggled. They were full of corny quips and eastern college talk and had nothing, positively nothing on their bird-beans except a lot of Aquinas for stuffing for their pepper. Neal and I paid absolutely no attention to them. As we crossed the muddy plains he told stories about his cowboy days, he showed us the stretch of road where he spent an entire morning riding; and where he’d done fence mending as soon as we hit Uhl’s property, which was immense; and where old Uhl, Ed’s father, used to come clattering on the rangeland grass chasing a heifer and howling. “Git im, git im goddammit!” He sounded as mad as Kells Elvins’ paretic father. “He had to have a new car every six months” said Neal “He just didn’t care. When a stray got away from us he’d drive right after it as far as the nearest waterhole and then get out and run after it on foot. Counted every cent he ever made and put it in a pot. A mad old rancher. I’ll show you some of his old wrecks near the bunkhouse. This is where I came on probation after my last hitch in a joint. This is where I lived when I wrote those letters you saw to Hal Chase.” We turned off the road and wound across a park through the winter pasture. A great mournful group of whitefaced cows suddenly milled across our headlights. “There they are! - -Uhl’s cows! We’ll never be able to get through them. We’ll have to get out and whoop ‘em up! Hee hee hee!!” But we didn’t have to do that and only inched along through them sometimes gently bumping as they milled and mooed like a sea around the cardoors. Beyond we saw the lonely lights of Ed Uhl’s ranchhouse. Around these lonely lights stretched hundreds and hundreds of miles of plains with nothing on them but twenty or so ranchouses like his. The kind of utter darkness that falls on a prairie like that is inconceivable to an Easterner. There were no stars, no moon, no light whatever except the light of Mrs. Uhl’s kitchen. What lay beyond the shadows of the yard was an endless view of the world

Friday, 2 January 2009

02 January 2009

divorce papers from Carolyn---everything’s jumping Jack and we’re off. Yes!” The faster we left Denver the better I felt and we were doing it fast. It grew dark when we turned off the hiway at Junction and hit a dirt road that took us across dismal E. Colorado plains to Ed Uhl’s ranch in the middle of Coyote Nowhere. But it was still raining and the mud was slippery and Neal slowed to seventy, but I told him to slow even more or we’d slide, and he said “Don’t worry, man, you know me.” “Not this time” I said “You’re really going much too fast.” And just as I said that we hit a complete left turn in the hiway and Neal socked the wheel over to make it but the big car skidded in the greasy mud and wobbled hugely. “Lookout!” yelled Neal who didn’t give a damn and wrestled with his angel a moment and the worse that happened we ended up backass in the ditch with the front out on the road. A great stillness fell over everything. We heard the whining wind. We were suddenly in the middle of the wild prairie. There was a farmhouse a quarter mile up the road. I couldn’t stop swearing I was so mad and disgusted with Neal. He said nothing and went off to the farmhouse in the rain, with a coat, to see for help. “Is he your brother?” the boys asked in the back seat. “He’s a devil with a car isn’t he?---and according to his story he must be with the women.” “He’s mad” I said “an yes, he’s my brother.” I saw Neal coming back with farmer in his tractor. They hooked chains on and the farmer hauled us out of the ditch. The car was muddy brown, a whole fender was cracked. With the speedometer already broken it was only the beginning. The farmer charged us five dollars. His daughters watched in the rain. The prettiest, shyest one hid far back in the field to watch and she had good reasons because she was absolutely and finally the most beautiful girl Neal and I ever saw in all our lives. She was about sixteen, and had a plains complexion like wild roses, and the bluest eyes, and the most lovely hair, and the modesty and quickness of a wild antelope. Every look from us and she flinched. She stood there with the immense winds that blew clear down from Saskatchewan knocking her hair about her lovely head like shrouds, living curls on them. She blushed and blushed. We finished our business with the farmer,

01 January 2009

his hands and talking to the girl and hunching over the wheel to go as she sat sadly and proudly beside him. They went to a parking lot in broad daylight, parked near the brickwall at the back (a lot Neal had worked in) and there, he claims, he laid her in nothing flat; not only that but persuaded her to follow us East as soon as she had her pay on Friday, come by bus, and meet us at John Holmes’ apt. on Lex avenue New York. She agreed to come; her name was Beverly. Thirty minutes and Neal roared back, deposited the girl at her hotel, with kisses, farewells, promises, and zoomed right up to the TB to pick up the crew. “Well it’s about time!” said the Broadway Sam TB boss. “I thought you’d gone off with that Cadillac.” “It’s my responsibility” I said “don’t worry”---and said that because Neal was in such obvious frenzy everybody could guess his madness and complete uncare. Neal became businesslike and coughing and assisted the Jesuit boys with their baggage. They were hardly seated, and I had hardly waved goodbye to Denver, before he was off, the big motor thrumming with immense birdlike power. Not two miles out of Denver the speedometer broke because Neal was pushing well over 110 miles an hour. “Well no speedometer, I won’t know how fast I’m going, I’ll just ball that jack to Chicago and tell by time.” It didn’t seem we were even going seventy but all the cars fell from us like dead flies on the straightaway hiway leading up to Greeley. “Reason why we’re going northeast is because, Jack, we must absolutely visit Ed Uhl’s ranch in Sterling, you’ve got to meet him and see his ranch and this boat cuts so fast we can make it without any time-trouble and get to Chicago long before that man’s train.” Okay, I was for it. It began to rain but Neal never slackened. It was a beautiful big limousine, the last of the old-style limousines, black with a big elongated square body and whitewall tires and probably bulletproof windows. The Jesuit boys---St. Bonaventura---sat in the back gleeful and glad to be underway, and they had no idea how fast we were going. They tried to talk but Neal said nothing and took off his T-shirt and just drove the rest of the way bare-chested. “Oh that Beverly is a sweet gone little gal---she’s going to join me in NY---we’re going to get married as soon as I can get