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

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