Sunday, 22 February 2009

17 February 2009

somewhere off the road in front of a campfire with Ginger and perhaps a handful of anthropologists and as of yore he too was telling his life story and never dreamed we were passing at that exact moment in the hiway headed for Mexico telling our own stories. Oh sad American night! Then we were in New Mexico and passed the rounded rocks of Raton and stopped at a diner ravingly hungry for Hamburgers, one of which we wrapped in a napkin not to eat till over the border below. “The whole vertical state of Texas lies before us Jack” said Neal. “As before we made it horizontal. Every bit as long. We’ll be in Texas in a few minutes and won’t be out till tomorrow night this time and won’t stop driving. Think of it.” We drove on. Across the immense plain of night lay the first Texas town, Dalhart, which I’d crossed in 1947. It lay glimmering on the dark floor of the earth fifty miles away. The land by moonlight was all mesquite and wastes. On the horizon was the moon. She fattened, she grew huge and rusty, she mellowed and rolled, till the morning-star contended and dews began to blow in our windows---and still we rolled. After Dalhart---empty crackerbox town---we bowled for Amarillo, and reached it in the morning among windy panhandle grasses that only a few years ago, (1910) waved around a collection of buffalo tents. Now there were of course gas stations and new 1950 jukeboxes with immense ornate snouts and ten-cent slots and awful songs. All the way from Marillo to Childress Texas Neal and I pounded plot after plot of books we’d read into Frank, who asked for it because he wanted to know. At Childress in the hot sun we turned directly south on a lesser road and continued across abysmal wastes to Paducah, Guthrie and Abilene Texas. Now Neal had to sleep and Frank and I sat in the front seat and drove. The old car burned and bopped and struggled on. Great clouds of gritty wind blew at us from shimmering spaces. Frank rolled right along with stories about Monte Carlo and Cagnes-sur-Mer and the blue places near Menton where darkfaced people wandered among white walls. Texas is undeniable: we burned slowly into Abilene and all woke up to look at it. “Imagine living in this town a thousand miles from cities. Whoop, whoop, over there by the tracks, oldtown

No comments: