Disco Donn Demands Deliverance
The Stars Play With Magic Sam’s Laughing Dice.
Roll the dice
And it sounds like thunder.
Roll the dice,
Hit the bottom
And you feel no pain.
Roll the dice
And it sounds like thunder,
Ain’t it the truth,
It’s a fool’s game.
-Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel
Donn Contrales was at the apex of his success. He was only a hair away from the beginning of his nadir. Donn had just about everything he wanted within his grasp. Since the accession of his computer he felt himself a free man for the first time. In his role as pop and classical record reviewer for the Daily Assassin Donn no longer went into the office, he sent his reviews over the phone lines.
By so doing Donn had fallen into the trap set for him by Jose Wellspring who sold him the computer at a very advantageous price. Wellspring hadn’t really done Donn a favor, the computer was used, it had been repossessed. Both Jose Wellspring and Donn Contrales were homosexuals. Donn had offended Jose by not inviting him to a record party for the pianist, Clement Coxe. Coxe was himself a homosexual. Jose had thought of a plan to punish Donn. He knew of Donn’s desire to be ‘free’, of his aversion to going to the office. Jose understood that failure to do so would subject Donn to competitive pressures whereby he might lose one or the other or perhaps both his posts. He very slyly planted the thought in Donn’s mind that the computer would free him of the necessity of reporting the office on a daily basis.
Donn had taken the bait. Now, in February 1980 he had made only brief appearances at the Assassin since November of the previous year. He arrived at his apartment in a bustle to get dressed for a speaking engagement with the Women’s Westside Auxlliary. He breezed through his door casting a glance over at his computer noticing that he had an email. It was from Mingo Miybriy, the editor of the Assassin informing him that he had been relieved of his pop music duties. Those reviews, the communique read, had been transferred to a younger man who was, presumably more in touch with contemporary youth.
This news made Donn angry, he was insulted, nobody was more in touch with contemporary youth than he. But he failed to give this premonition of disaster the consideration he should have. Donn was much too confident of his fate, of his own importance in the web of destiny.
‘I’ll have to send an email telling Mingo to get rid of the guy. That’s my territory. There’s no one more in touch with youth than me.’ Donn thought, ‘But first I have to go shine on these society bitches.’
Donn, was a cocaine habitue, he would have rejected the term addict, as the stuff was recreational rather than compulsory; he was living his life in a euphoric haze. He had become entirely divorced from reality. In his vision of himself as an all powerful deity he had alienated many people. Some were too inconsequential to hurt him in his prosperity. Some, one in particular, he should have taken care not to offend. That one was a man by the name of Maggie Spingold.
Maggie was a very powerful man, not only in Portland, Oregon which is where this story begins, but on the entire West Coast. He was even influential in certain national circles.
Like Donn he was a homosexual. He was one of the five or ten most powerful individuals in the Gramercy Club. The Gramercy was composed of two hundred of the most successful men in Portland. This was still 1980 and women had not yet forced entry into these men’s preserves.
Maggie’s real name was Edward G. Spingold. He was descended from immigrants from the Jewish Pale who had emigrated in the 1890s. Spingold was not the original family name but his family of Uroffskys were assimilatively inclined, they wanted a name that was more American sounding than Uroffsky. When the Jews of the era took ‘American’ sounding names they invariably chose names that implied success or high standing. Thus the many Golds, Goldbergs, Goldwaters, Goldschmidts, Goldens, Silvers and Silvermasters. Goldberg actually incorporaes two success images- Gold and Mountain- or perhaps Mountain of Gold or God, or a high peak of inestimable value and purity.
Spingold to the Uroffskys implied the ultimate of success, the ability to make gold. The oddity of the name to ‘Americans’ was never obvious to them. When their baby boy was born in 1920 they named him Edward for the line of kings of England, Edward VII having just died, and G for a seemingly superfluous Gold. Although Gold in this instance was to imply the purity and magnificence of God, Gold being the color of the sun, the emblem of God. Thus Maggie’s real name was Edward Gold Spingold. If ever a name was prophetic it was for the Spingolds in general and Maggie in particular. They and he were adepts at acquiring lucre.
The ‘Maggie’ by which Maggie was known, behind his back, was not a diminutive of Margaret but rather a familiarization of the ‘Magus.’ Maggie had fostered the reputation that he was an adept in the Jewish Kabbalah. this was somewhat of an exaggeration as there were any number of mystical adepts in town, both goyish Theosophists and Jewish Kabbalahists who could run circles round him. But wealth and chutzpah can befuddle many minds; Maggie had sufficient quantities of both. He had the reputation of being a Magus.
Maggie belonged to all three of the great networks. He was important in the Old Boy Network and paramount in both the Jewish and the Homosexual Networks. He was a silent founder of the Homosexual Anti-Defamation League and a power in both the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee. In his capacities in the Homosexual and Jewish groups Maggie had a direct interest in censoring and controlling how and what the Daily Assassin reported on both groups.
Thus he passed an occasional hour at the Daily Assassin updating Mingo Miybriy on any changes on how the Jews wanted to be represented and deploring the terrible homophobia which marred American society. He had seen Donn’s reviews in the paper which had done nothing for him but the sight of Donn had electrified him.
Donn was blond and just this short of being really handsome while actually epitomizing the macho man. His black brush of a mustache contrasted dramatically with his blond hair. His air of oblivious self-confidence made him doubly attractive to Maggie. The little gold earring in Donn’s left ear conveyed the necessary information to Maggie.
He shoulder jousted Donn in the hallway giving him the excuse to apologize and strike off an acquaintance. Donn, who knew a love bump when he received one was extremely flattered by the attention of such an important man. Maggie took Donn’s effusiveness as a declaration of love, not that that mattered.
Maggie found Donn’s address and subsequently showed up at Donn’s door at three o’ clock in the morning ready for sex.
Maggie had chosen a Saturday night, or rather, Sunday morning. Between Donn’s drug (or perhaps substance abuse, he also used alcohol) use and sexual exertions on the previous evening he was thoroughly exhausted. Besides he had just arrived home and virtually collapsed on his cot. This evening though Maggie had quietly said through the door: ‘It’s me, Eddie. Ed Spingold.’ The name hadn’t registered in Donn’s disorderly mind. Even if it had he would have arrogantly dismissed him. As it was he testily said: ‘I don’t a give a f- who you are. It’s three o’ clock in the morning. Get the f- out of here.’
Maggie thought that Donn owed him at least to open the door, admit him and then courteously explain his incapacity. Donn, on his part, knew that once in it was impossible to get one out. Maggie had taken the slight badly. He had begun to plot revenge as he turned from the door. He was a powerful man; his resources were many. Donn would find a surprise in his emails on his return from the Westside Ladies, while his response from the women would be out of synch with his previous experiences.
But for now he entered his apartment in breezy spirits to hurriedly don his Classical Donn attire. He quickly grabbed a black gabardine suit and threw it on the cot. He plopped his patent leather pumps on the floor while seizing a pair of hose to replace his socks. The hose were a most elegant sheer black nylon that rose over his calf to rest just below the knee. He quickly rolled the tops down, washed his face, splashing it with Royall Spice after shave to please the ladies. He changed into a white shirt draping a red paisley tie around his neck as he suited up. His Windsor knot was fine but not impeccable as he closed the door behind him.
Unbeknownst to Donn Maggie Spingold had placed him on the blacklist. Naturally any society denies the existence of a blacklist but only a fool takes such denials at face value. Previously all doors had been open and all welcomes for Donn had been warm if not hot. Now the ponderous machinery of society was being activated to exclude him. Donn found fewer Westside Ladies in attendance than he expected. Many of the leading lights were missing leaving him to address secondaries and fillers.
Donn knew next to nothing about classical music and even less of its history. Today his address contained banalities about the aging of the old guard soloists and the lack of emerging new performers. Usually he was met by rapt attention as his good looks, fine presence and prepossessing form solicited, but today two of the ladies coughed continuously while one in the back row, where those in front couldn’t see her, stifled yawn after yawn repeatedly. In their way they were breaking up the lecture, a little more politely than the Communists used to do to the Fascists and vice versa.
Donn was puzzled but he finished his lecture and opened the discussion. After a rude comment from the yawner, Peggy Belton had, not so much a question but a point.
If Donn knew little about Classical music, with a couple exceptions, his auditors knew even less. Classical music is less a group of afficionados than a cultural club. The classics represent a social ideal to them of cultural superiority rather than musical appreciation. Most have never heard of, say, Buxtehude, Fux or Hummel and for that reason would never buy a record of their compositions. The average classicist has heard of little but the three Bs.
Most of them think that Chamber music is a form like a fugue or a sonata; nor can they be educated except by an authority figure. Peggy Belton was at the bottom of this class.
She began: ‘Donn. Donn. Tell me, what can you do about this horrible man, Dewey Trueman?’
As the question was so inappropriate Donn had to stifle a laugh.
‘Dewey Trueman? Dewey Trueman? Do you mean that fellow who runs that record store downtown, Peggy? That Dewey Trueman?’
‘Yes! That’s him. The very one. What are you going to do about him?’
‘Well, but, Peggy, what does he have to do with the old guard or emerging talent?’
‘That’s just it. I bought a record in there two weeks ago by the classical composer, Ludwig Beethoven. Have you heard of him? He’s a wonderful composer. I hope he writes lots more. And I bought his Seventh Symphony. It was a faulty recording. I still have it because that man wouldn’t give me my money back.’
‘Beethoven wouldn’t give you your money back, Peggy?’
‘No, not Beethoven. Stop your giggling girls. Dewey Trueman wouldn’t give me my money back. He told me that’s how it’s supposed to be.’
‘How’s that, Peggy?’
‘Well, first off the music is terribly noisy like Mr. Beethoven would never have composed it. Then, you know what? It starts off really quietly than builds up until it’s just terribly deafening then all of a sudden it gets real quiet again. One can’t even listen to it. Do you know what that man said when I took it back to him? He said that those were crescendoes and dimuendoes and that was the way Mr. Beethoven intended it. He must have thought I’m totally ignorant because he was smiling all the time. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I want my money back and I want to know what you’re going to do about this Trueman fellow?’
Most of the women were giggling in their handkerchiefs. Some covered up their mirth by saying: ‘That terrible man. That terrible man.’ Donn hadn’t actually listened to the Seventh as it is one of Beethoven’s least popular symphonies so he had little idea what Peggy was talking about. Taking his cue from the others he pretended to stifle his mirth.
As the question really called for no discussion of the Seventh he attacked this fellow Trueman, who was littled loved by the Daily Assassin as he didn’t advertise in it. Donn had previously written an article deploring Trueman’s classical selection as being too large to examine while extolling the other store for having ‘manageable’ selections.
‘Well, there’s little we can do directly to that fellow you mentioned Peggy, but I can assure you that everything is being done indirectly that can be. All I can advise you to do is not to purchase from him again and maybe he’ll go back to wherever he came from, if any will actually claim him. Hopefully that place is not on this planet.’
‘Yes, but Donn, he’s got the best selection of classical music in town.’
‘Yes, Peggy, but its very virtue is its defect. Its size is just too unmanageable for the average intellect. So that’s my advice, shop elsewhere.’
As there were no further questions and someone had forgotten refreshments the meeting dispersed. It was mid-afternoon when Donn returned to his apartment to find a new message on his computer. Having lost his pop music position he was now suspended as classical reviewer. He was ordered to report to Mingo Miybriy immediately.
‘Tomorrow will be soon enough.’ Donn said to himself as he flopped down on his cot to mull over the significance of the message.
…all of them, like children of the night,
everywhere wild, everywhere lost,
everywhere loveless, faithless, homeless.
All with some terrible flaw
Against which even nature rebelled.
-John Clellon Holmes, ‘Go.’
Maggie Spingold was a powerful man. He was a vindictive man. He avenged anything that he considered a slight. He was open to affronts, encouraged them, invented them when they weren’t there. He never acknowledged an alleged affront or slight or openly complained. He never openly avenged an alleged affront, imitating his god he worked in mysterious ways.
When Donn refused him admittance at three in the morning this was what he considered not only a slight or an affront but a violation of homosexual law, of which it was the last. For him to offer his love was, in his mind, a gift of incomparable, not value, but worth. Its refusal was incomprehensible and subject to stern judgment with no remission of mercy. Donn was to get the back of Maggie’s left hand.
Donn’s dismissal from his duties as pop critic was merely the first of a series of steps of increasing severity. All events are foreshadowed. Had Donn perceived his reception by the Westside Ladies correctly he might just as well have left town then.
As it was he got up the following morning. Ten o’ clock sharp found him climbing the third floor stairs to Mingo’s corner office looking out at the University. Normally there was little delay in his getting access to Mingo. Today at eleven-thirty he was just getting up to leave when Mingo breezed into the ante-room in that pert assertive manner that ‘strong’ women then used as though she were just getting into the office.
‘Hi, Mingo. You wanted to see me?’
‘Donn. Donn Contrales.’ Mingo said as though he had returned after a long absence which was not far from the truth.
‘How long have you been waiting?’
‘Oh, hour and a half, Mingo.’
‘Gary,’ Mingo said to her Black male secretary, ‘why did you leave Donn sitting there like that. You knew I would’t be in till now.’
Gary smiled and shrugged his shoulders. All three knew that Mingo was prevaricating. When Gary had flashed her that Donn was about to leave she had slipped out the other door of her office to enter the anteroom.
‘No harm done, Mingo. What was it? Just that I’m fired?’
‘Step into my office Donn, it’s more serious than that.’
Donn was intent on Mingo as they spoke, he didn’t notice that her other door was ajar. Behind the door, listening gleefully was Maggie Spingold. He wanted the fruits of this stage of his revenge.
Mingo reached into her lap drawer, picked up a little folded packet and flipped it across the desk at Donn.
‘What’s this, Donn?’
Donn was mystified. He’d never seen it before, he was canny enough not to pick it up. But he did recognize what it was.
‘I don’t know, Mingo. What is it?’
‘By the way Donn, don’t be so familiar. Call me Ms. Miybriy.’
‘Am I fired?’ Donn asked.
‘Yes.’ Mingo sniffed.
‘Then, Mingo, I’ll call you what I please.’ Donn said asserting his independence.
‘Open it up, Donn.’
‘Mr. Contrales to you Mingo, and no, I’ve never seen it before. I don’t know what it is. What is it?’
‘For someone who’s never seen it before, it came out of your desk.’
‘Whether it did or didn’t, my desk is in the newsroom. It’s accessible to anyone.’
‘That happens to be a packet of cocaine, Donn. It came out of your desk. We know you use it and sell it. We believe you left it in your desk by mistake.’
Donn saw through the set-up. They weren’t going to get him on this one.
‘You can believe what you want Mingo, but I didn’t put that packet in my desk and you can’t prove I did. Besides since you just handled it it’s got your fingerprints on it.’
Mingo blinked realizing her error but continued on doggedly: ‘The circumstantial evidence is strong against you Donn.’
‘You may have circumstantial evidence but not against me, Mingo. I saw you take that packet out of your drawer, not mine. That’s all the circumstantial evidence I see. I have no reason to believe that was ever in any drawer but yours. You have no evidence against me.’
Maggie coughed on the other side of the door as a signal for Mingo to give it up. Donn leaped to his feet to pull open the door. As he grabbed the knob he heard the outer door in the room slam. By the time he got that door open the hallway was clear. When he tried to reenter Mingo’s office he found the door locked.
He stormed around to the anteroom only to find that door locked with Gary staring through the glass door at him placidly. There was nothing for it but to make a fool of himself or leave quietly so he left quietly. He passed two police officers on the way down the steps who had been called in anticipation of the arrest.
The fact of the matter was that the seventies were over. The eighties had begun. AIDS had put a scare into the hard partying orgiastic homosexual community. The large orgies were being discontinued, the bathhouses were closing down. Consequently consumption had fallen. The wide open drug dealing of the seventies had suddenly become conspicuous. The loading dock station of the Daily Assassin had been discontinued. Maggie had had shares in the traffic. The station had received some notoriety. The thought was to give the police some credibility by breaking up that ring. Donn was to have been the scapegoat. There would have been no end of ‘witnesses’ and plenty of ‘evidence.’
Maggie had been disappointed by Donn’s unexpected presence of mind but he was a resourceful man. He knew more tricks than Houdini. Before he played his next card however he gave Donn three or four months to suffer. Needless to say there was no job in Portland for Donn save menial tasks. Actually there was nothing comparable in Donn’s mind for what he had lost. The only suitable job in his mind was as a TV news anchorman. He probably would have made a good one too. He had the looks, he had the style. Obviously he couldn’t get in.
Cocaine dealing was off limits to him now and not knowing what else to do he began living off his savings. Pride kept him from the unemployment line. As always a capable wheeler dealer he was able to score a couple of deals. But as the slander machine got into high gear he found those opportunities dry up.
Doors closed all over town. Having lost his status he lost his immunity. He began to have flat tires on that wonderful Porsche. His windshield was cracked. Ordinarily he would have had it replaced immediately, now he was compelled to drive around advertising his shame.
Other homosexuals who remembered him from his high flying days spat at his feet continually. He was slammed into from behind only to turn and find no one there. Guys shoulder jousted him on the street trying to pick a fight. No more love bumps. Donn wasn’t used to it. He didn’t know what it meant to be an outlaw. His confidence began to disintegrate. He took to walking defensively. With these evidences of malaise Maggie chose to strike his killer blow.
All events cast a shadow before them if one can only recognize it. At three o’ clock in the morning Maggie knocked on Donn’s door. Donn who hadn’t been sleeping well lately was lying on his cot, head deep in his pillow scowling at the ceiling. At the sound of the first rap he raised his head to scowl at the door wondering who in the heck that could be.
‘Who is it?’ He said through the door.
‘It’s I.’ Maggie said expecting Donn to recognize his voice from their last encounter months before.
‘Who the hell is I?’ Donn said irritably.
‘Me. Ed.’ Maggie said pointedly, in his mind, dropping the diminuitive to indicate to Donn that they were no longer on intimate terms.
‘Ed, who?’ Donn demanded crossly.
‘Ed. Ed Spingold.’ Maggie said indignantly.
This time Donn thought he had better open the door. They had never actually met except for the love bump, but by now Donn understood who Maggie Spingold was. He was sorry he hadn’t let Maggie in the last time.
Maggie stepped into the apartment like a Captain stepping aboard ship, with a deprecatory nod at Donn. Donn flicked on the light to reveal Maggie in all his splendor. Maggie was prissy edging toward precious in his appearance and mannerisms. He was sixty years old at this time. His golden hair had thinned uniformly so that standing close one could see through the sparse follicles but from a few feet away his hair looked more full. While Maggie was thin his face had the sallow soft pudginess of the aging homosexual. It would be wrong to say he had jowls yet there was a perceptible sag to his cheeks. His nose was straight and moderately fleshy. His pursy mouth had a pronounced red-black color. His face was powdered slightly, no lipstick.
A vain man, Maggie had a wardrobe two or three times as extensive as Donn’s huge collection of clothes. Maggie shopped all the clothiers from Rome to Beverly Hills. Today he was wearing an outfit from a now defunct clothier in Beverly Hills by the name of Eric Ross. His personal salesman, Bonford, had put him in a fitted jacket with brass buttons. Bonford had described the color of the jacket as ‘aubergine.’ Aubergine is an eggplant but the color was not so purple, more of a medium burgundy. He had a light grey shirt with a cream colored tie. Tan gabardine pants. His shoes were a peculiar combination of styles, loafers with tassels with a wing tip. Maggie must have wished to project a hard and soft image at the same time.
As he didn’t wish to disfigure his appearance with unsightly bulges he carried his personal effects in a little leather pouch. He bent his little finger through the strap loop, holding the bag in his right hand just below his heart.
Maggie coldly appraised the room. This was not the first time he had been in it. In fact he was intimately familiar with it. He had a key. While Donn was out he had often come to lounge around the apartment lovingly touching each thing. He had even put on Donn’s underwear so that a part of his essence would be next to Donn’s private parts. He knew the computer, the records, the video on Donn’s TVs. He had even discovered a dark secret beneath Donn’s pile of undershorts. His love had compelled him to even make excuses for that even though he had misunderstood its meaning.
They stood eyeing each other; Donn with a cold hostility at being disturbed at three by a man who Donn’s sixth sense told him boded him no good; Maggie with the hot indignation and hatred of a scorned lover whose sense of majesty had been offended. Maggie could never forgive Donn for having turned him away. Turned him away not only against the rules of homosexual mores but he, Edward G. Spingold, the self-proclaimed Magus, a scion of the House of Judah and a power in the Old Boy Network. In a word, the prize queen of his the subculture.
He carried a book under his arm as a gift for Donn. He presented it.
‘What’s this?’ Donn asked.
‘That’s a copy of a book you should be acquainted with. It’s by a Frenchman. Jean Genet.’
‘Our Lady Of The Flowers?’ Donn read the title uncomprehendingly.
‘Yes.’ Maggie went on. ‘It’s about his prison adventures. You may be able to put it to good use.’ He finished with a sly wink.
‘What’s that to me?’ Donn replied blinking uncomprehendingly.
‘Oh well, it’s about his gay adventures too.’
There was something in Maggie’s manner that irritated Donn. Without making a move his posture gave the impression that he was about to slug Maggie. Acting solely on intuition Maggie stiffened, standing erect, chin out to receive the blow like a true masochistic martyr.
Had Donn punched him it would have changed the course of events for punching is a surrogate for intercourse. Maggie would have forced a spat but their relationship would have been cemented. Maggie would have thought Donn cared and further that he was a real man. But Donn knew who Maggie was. Fear of his power made Donn hold his punch. The initiative passed to Maggie.
He chose a pompous, almost irrelevant lecture as a response. America is a lawless society. The only law is satisfying one’s desires at any cost. Yet in some zany way the law is revered. Maggie had interpreted Donn’s desire to hit him as the resort of the lawless. This set him off on a lecture in which he made a lengthy quote from the autobiography of Ralph Chaplin. Why he would have bothered to memorize it is anybody’s guess. He said to Donn: ‘You know Donn, the law is a valuable thing as well as a sacred thing. We Jews know that only by curbing our instincts that a better society can be created. Thus we hedge all our actions by the 613 prescriptions of the Law. Even your people have belatedly realized this. Let me quote to you from the autobiography of Ralph Chaplin: ‘Remember the old days, when we talked so much about freedom?’ Bugs asked me. ‘Well we had freedom on that Godforsaken Metacombe- freedom from everything but our own cussedness. It added up to something that we didn’t like and couldn’t take. This is how it happened. We received our regular checks from the government and, having nothing to buy with our dough, we gambled. There was no law, no church, no jail. We even refused to build our own latrines. We were free men- rebels, by God! Soon menial work was beneath our dignity. We got into the habit of fighting after dice and card games, first with our fists, afterwards with clubs or knives. Killing became common. No one’s life or money was safe. Prostitutes from the islands, greedy for our dough, swarmed in upon us. After that we fought over women. There were more killings.
When the hurricane reached us, some were glad; others didn’t give a damn. They were too far gone with rotgut booze and syphilis. Maybe it’s better to live under the laws of God and man, after all- what do you think?’
‘Well, what do you think, Donn?’
‘What? What’s all that supposed to mean, Ed? I don’t even know who the hell this Ralph somebody is.’
‘You don’t get it? Well, show me around then.’ He commanded. Maggie’s brain was filled with a vision of a perfect world governed by the laws which he himself was incapable of observing.
‘Well, look left and right, it’s a small place, Ed.’ Donn said standing in his T-shirt and shorts.
This was no answer to Maggie who had on previous occasions spent more than an hour over each item let alone making a tour of the apartment.
‘No, Donn. Show me around.’
‘W-well, Ed. This is it.’ Donn stammered mystified.
‘No. Start with the computer and show me around.’
Donn moved hesitantly to the computer. Looking at Maggie intently and uncertainly he said: ‘This is my computer.’
‘Do you like it?’
‘Oh yes, very fine.’ Donn said moving to the stereo and records in response to Maggie’s indication.
‘Uh, Ed. This is my stereo and records.’
‘Do you have any favorite songs?’ Maggie asked severely, aware of the answer.
‘Yes. Several.’ Donn replied moving toward the bathroom door.
‘No. I mean what is your favorite song. Don’t you like something called Interstellar Overdrive by Pink someone?
‘Y-yes, I do.’ Donn said surprised that Maggie would know.
‘Play it for me.’ Maggie commanded.
Watching Maggie intently Donn selected the record and moved the needle over to the last cut.
Maggie nodded approvingly.
‘What kind of video do you have on your TV set?’ Maggie asked coyly.
‘Oh, nothing really.’ Donn evaded.
‘Turn them on.’ Maggie commanded.
Donn snapped the living room TVs on.
‘All of them.’ Maggie said forgetting himself as he moved into the bedroom while his eyes filled with tears and a pout took possession of his face.
He thought forlornly about things that could no longer ever be.
Donn was very surprised that Maggie knew he had four TVs but it was possible that he had seen them as he looked around the apartment. While Donn was flipping on the TVs Maggie walked over and fingered the support of the cot that hid Donn’s stash.
‘Hmm. Looks a little worn here.’ He said musingly, concealing a threat.
Donn looked around sharply, alarmed. Then as he looked at the cot the support did look a little worn.
‘Um, yeah, the cot fell apart a couple times. I’ve been meaning to get a new one.’
Donn paused a moment looking at Maggie, then he shrugged: ‘Well, Ed, what do you want?’ Donn meant what kind of sex.
‘Do I want?’ Maggie replied. ‘I want nothing. What do you want?’
‘Well, Ed, when somebody comes by at three in the morning…’
‘It’s not the first time I’ve been here at three in the morning. Do you have time for me today? You didn’t before. Do you think I’m some tramp, or whore who show’s up at men’s doors begging for sex?’
‘Oh, no. Of course not, Ed. I never thought that. It’s just that I’d just got home. I was out all night. I was hung over and exhausted. I wouldn’t have been any good anyway.’
‘You should let me be the judge of that.’ Maggie said, his voice quivering, his cheeks shaking and tears beginning to run down his nose.
Donn reached out to draw him to himself but Maggie petulantly twisted away like a sixteen year old girl.
‘No. It’s too late now you bastard. When I wanted you you didn’t even have the time of day for me. I wanted to be in your arms and listen to the night. I thought you had certain charms and I thought the time was right but you couldn’t spare me a little, not even a little bit of your love. Maggie sobbed, closely following the the lines of a song he had heard only once and with divided attention. Remarkable. ‘Now, you’re going to be sorry for it. You’ll come to me on bended knees before it’s all over and beg my forgiveness.’
Then with all four TVs silently simulating fellation on their screens to the sounds of Interstellar Overdrive Maggie marched out slamming the door behind him.
Donn was astounded. Now thoroughly awake he knocked the cot apart to get his cocaine. He sniffed a couple lines spending the rest of the night sitting before his computer staring out the window for the rising sun wondering what it was all about. The next day would be the first day of the rest of his life.
Half dazed and uncertain of what he was doing Donn finally got out of his apartment at ten. As his head was still swimming from the visit of Maggie he decided to walk over to the University Station for his mail. Donn kept a box as he didn’t want anyone to know his address.
Donn wouldn’t have noticed them anyway but in his condition he was totally oblivious to everything. But if had been aware he would have noticed the plain clothes police in the lobby. As usual they stood out like sore thumbs wearing their clothes like disguises peering out from their skulls as through bushes.
Donn grabbed his mail. As he did so the clerk said: ‘Oh, Donn, we’ve got a package for you.’
Donn went to the counter absent mindedly taking the plain manila envelope with no return address tucking it under his arm.
‘You’re under arrest.’ One of the cops said taking him by the arm.
‘Under arrest?’ Donn said. ‘For what?’
‘For this.’ The officer said tearing open the envelope to show Donn a child pornography video and a child snuff film.
Donn’s being sank to his shoes. He actually did turn a whiter shade of pale.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t order those.’
‘Tell it to the judge, my boy. Come on, we’re going downtown.’
Once again Maggie was placed advantageously to watch Donn booked and jailed.
‘The ignominy is yours, you bastard.’ He thought, thinking how he had transferred his shame at being refused back onto Donn.
Donn spent the night in jail. He was released the next day on his own recognizance to find a lawyer.
Dazed and wearied by the preceding events Donn forewent climbing the stairs two at a time as was his wont standing disconsolately in the elevator instead. As he emerged from the elevator he was stunned to see his apartment door standing open. Already dazed, his mind reeled as with churning stomach he entered his apartment. The police would blame it on ‘vandals.’ All of Donn’s possessions had been destroyed. His TV screens had been broken out. His computer looked as though it had been hit with a sledge. His records had been overturned spreading across the room. The Pink Floyd record was on the turntable but neat little crosses had been ingrained with a chalky substance at precise intervals which made the cut unplayable.
As he entered the bedroom he noticed a scorched band across his wardrobes. Perversely it was all wearable but with the equivalent of a black armband on the exposed sleeve indicating that he was a dead man. His shoes had been broken. His cot too had been smashed. The end stood loose, the cap of this stash projected. But when Donn withdrew it it was empty.
Then Donn saw the secret that had been hidden under his undershorts. It was a picture of Adolf Hitler. It was lying on the floor with a knife driven through the nose at precisely the place Donns penis would have been as he lay on the cot.
Donn was mystified. It seemed like a strange thing to do. Maggie who had desecrated what had formerly been a shrine to him had completely misunderstood the significance of the picture. He, of course, attributed the possession of the photograph to anti-Semitism. Like all Jews he exaggerated the thought gvien to Jews by the goyim. Actually Donn never thought of Jews. He was unaware even that Maggie was a Jew. While Hitler stood as the symbol of the anti-Semite to Maggie, to Donn he was the symbol of the god of destruction representing the turmoil in Donn’s own soul. Hitler represented to him the ability to destroy the world that had destroyed him. So Donn in the nether reaches of his mind wished destruction on those who had made him what he was. There was no vengeance for that too awful.
Donn’s rape by his uncle had completely destroyed his self-respect. It had meant the destruction of his world forever. It stood as comparable in his mind to the saturation bombing of Hamburg or Dresden. After his rape his soul resembled to him the shattered and twisted rubble of Europe after the Nazi defeat. Donn’s soul thrilled at the notion that Hitler had had Paris wired to be blown to bits. He was glad the order hadn’t been carried out but in his mind’s eye he could see Paris in ashes. It was this about Hitler that thrilled him. The man had almost done it his way. He had almost overturned the evil that the world had placed on him. And he was doing it in a constructive way by ridding the world of Communism. Failing that he had wreaked havoc on those who had wreaked havoc on him. It would have been so easy for them to go along with his plans in the East. How perverse France, England and the US must have seemed to him. It was that in Hitler that Donn appreciated, revered, adored. That he kept Hitler’s picture under his undershorts was no coincidence. No more a coincidence than that Maggie should find the picture as he chose a pair of Donn’s shorts to put next to his weenie. The connection between the penis and the brain is a mysterious one.
Thus Maggie, to whom the rest of mankind was inconsequential, saw in Hitler only the instigator of Jewish destruction. Even though Maggie shared Donn’s innate fear and loathing, he was able to turn the destruction of his people to a sort of positive use while Donn suffered only its negative effects.
Dumbly, acting instinctively he released the picture from its pinion to destroy it before the police arrived. The police had only shrugged when they arrived, for what could they do as they said. Under the best of circumstances they stood little chance of locating the culprits; now to do so would be inconsequential.
Closing the door behind them, Donn stretched wearily on the canvas of his army cot on the floor, pushing the stuffing back into the slashes on his pillow, he flipped it over and lay down his weary head.
God, he thought, what did I do wrong?
Donn’s life had been completely shattered. His mind reeled beneath the blows coming from whence he knew not. For the nonce he couldn’t imagine who had set him up with the child pornography. He could understand how the goods may have been sent in his name by anyone but he couldn’t understand the knowing leer on the face of the clerk or the presence of the police.
He would have lain around in his despair for weeks but the pressing need to find a lawyer to keep himself out of jail drove him from the apartment. The days were reaching their apex in length as he went forth. He knew Jerry Lang of Lang, Ingalls, Adams, Rank and Smith. Lang’s was one of the most prestigious firms in the city. Donn knew the importance of image, he had no desire to go to some unafilliated ‘nice guy.’
The receptionist’s smile turned to a frown as the reply came back from Jerry Lang. She coldly motioned Donn to a seat saying the Mr. Lang would be out shortly. Donn wasn’t used to the freeze out. Within five minutes he was on his feet.
‘Which one is Jerry’s office, I’ll just pop in.’
‘When Mr. Lang is ready he will come for you.’ The receptionist said coldly, aw heck, icily. ‘Please remain in your seat.’
‘Oh, Jerry and I are friend…’ He began.
The receptionist pointed coldly to the chair.
Time passed slowly. Rebuffed again after fifteen minutes Donn thought to storm out but then the numbing realization of his predicament robbed him of volition. He sat and sat. After a full hour Lang strode into the waiting room with that solicitous, overly sympathetic manner of the put-on artist. He was a consummate lawyer.
‘Sorry to keep you waiting Donn buddy, but I…well, you know? What can I do for you Donn?’ He said with the air of one who already knows the situation as he slid behind his desk.
As was usual in knowledgeable attorney’s offices he had one chair beside him behind the desk and another chair in front of his desk. Normally he would offer his client the choice of either. If the client took the confidential chair beside him then the interview would be conducted in a more sympathetic manner; if the client took the confrontational chair opposite him the interview would be more businesslike.
Donn didn’t know the protocol but it didn’t matter, Lang motioned him into the confrontational seat. Donn’s problem, which was news in Lang’s circle, was already a hot topic with him. Maggie had spread stories of Donn’s TVs so that Lang was predisposed by these rumors. Donn wasn’t aware of how the Networks actually operated even though he had been a peripheral of them.
‘I’ve got a serious problem.’ Donn began. ‘I was arrested two days ago. I was charged with receiving child pornography through the mail.’
‘Really? What kind of pornography?’
Donn frowned and winced, ‘Child snuff films.’
‘You mean the kind where they actually kill children before the cameras?’
Donn nodded yes. He shouldn’t have. He didn’t know what was on those videos. He had never seen them. He hadn’t even seen the titles or cover pictures as the envelope had been confiscated before he had had a chance to open it. But as he knew what snuff films were he only assumed that that is what they were. He’d temporarily forgotten Terry Roberts had gone to jail for ten years for buying baking soda.
‘Oooh, that’s very bad, Donn.’
‘Oh, hey, I didn’t do it. You don’t think I’d do something like that?’
‘Well, it was mailed to you?’
‘Yeah, but anyone could do that.’
‘Yes, I know, but when we checked- nothing personal, but we’d have to investigate this thoroughly Donn- when we checked the manufacturer the next thing you know we’d have your credit card number and the order in your handwriting.’
‘That’s impossible…’ Donn flustered.
‘Well, we’d have to see, Donn. You know, this is not the kindof case I really like to handle, but I’d do it for you, Donn. You know, they’ll want to make an example of you to stop this sort of thing. They’re going to throw everything at you. This is going to be very expensive. I’d guess forty or fifty thousand dollars maybe more. Possibly lots more. Do you have that kind of money, Donn? Can you give me a twenty thousand dollar retainer?’
Donn very nearly went into shock. His face drained of color as his jaw went slack. He breathed stertorously as his head slowly wobbled back and forth in indicate, no. The indication wasn’t even meant for Lang. It was more like a silent scream for help.
‘Well then, Donn, I can’t help you. I’d like to but I can’t. I don’t work for nothing.’
Lang held his open palm to the door showing Donn the way out.
What the hell are friends for? Donn thought as he stumbled out into the unseasonable ninety-eight degree heat. He was about to learn the meaning of friendship.
He had to control the feeling of convulsions as he the full nature of his predicament hit him. Tens of thousands of dollars for something he hadn’t done? Donn’s nervous agitation plus the heat soaked his clothes through.
His body drained of strength. His reflexes disappeared as he drove back to his apartment. His ankles shook uncontrollably as he walked across the garage. Unable to do the stairs even one at a time he rode the elevator.
His mail for the last couple days lay on his smashed computer unopened. To allay his despair he picked them up. The top piece was his Visa bill. He remembered what Lang had said. With bated breath he tore open the envelope. And there…there before his eyes was the charge slip from Ace High Publications. Someone had charged the videos to his account. An involuntary sob broke from Donn’s chest as he reached for the phone book.
He knew Don Barger who worked for Carter, Harley, Exner, Agatson, Turner and Snyder. The firm didn’t have quite the same cachet as Lang’s and Barger wasn’t a partner but he was good. Donn made an appointment.
A microphone had already been concealed in the mouthpiece of Donn’s phone by Maggie. It transmitted to a voice activated tape recorder in Maggie’s possession. It not only recorded Donn’s phone conversations but picked up any conversation in the room or even any monologues Donn might have with himself.
As in keeping with custom the receptionist took his name and number and advised that they would call him back. The firm then checked around to find Donn’s status before they called him back.
Thus that evening when Barger dined out with his family at the Multnomah County Country Club he happened to run into Maggie. While it was common but unspoken knowledge that Maggie was a homosexual, Don Barger, in the obtuse socially acceptable manner was ignorant of the fact. Barger was privately opposed to homosexuality. As it was not politic to avow such an opinion he discreetly kept his silence. He was also the father of a twelve year old girl and an eight year old boy. He was frantic to protect them from baleful influences. He was a sworn enemy of drug users and sex abusers.
In the course of their brief converstation Donn’s scandalous arrest was mentioned. Maggie, who was aware of Don Barger’s opinions let out that Donn was a homosexual and the nature of the videos. Barger’s smoldering reaction let Maggie know he had hit his mark. Maggie bid him a pleasant goodnight.
Donn never knew what hit him. He was ushered right in but Barger had his arm up finger pointed toward the door before Donn had said a word, nor was he even offered the confrontational chair.
‘I’ve seen the arrest report. I’ll need a retainer of fifty thousand dollars to handle the case. You don’t have it?’ He said without pausing for an answer. ‘Then I’m afraid I’ll have to bid you a good day.’
Donn was dumbfounded. Frozen in his tracks, his mind reeled. He intuited the impossibility of finding decent representation even if he did have the money.
He gasped: ‘But I have to have representation. How will I get it?’
‘I’d check our Charlie Pooter.’ Barger said. ‘He may be able to do something for you. Once again, good day.’ All the time with his finger pointing to the door.
Donn stumbled out of the office, down the hall and out before the elevators. ‘Charlie Pooter?’ He thought. Charlie Pooter? That guy doesn’t even defend people, he just negotiates for the lowest possible sentence.’
Indeed, Pooter for years had been taking the petty drug cases, guys busted for a joint or two or a gram or less. It was agreed between he and the court that he wouldn’t defend his clients but settle for whatever sentence the judge wished to impose. Now Donn was being shunted to him for sentencing. Donn could see clearly which way the railroad ran.
The elevator deaccelerated to stop with thump which was how Donn felt. He’d hit bottom. He stepped out of the elevator to cross the lobby. As he approached the doors, as if by chance, Warren Mogulson accosted him. Mogulson worked for the Assassin. He was a nasty little man. His brow was perpetually knitted in advance recognition of the little indignities the world would inflict upon him. He carped at everything. He began the next day’s griping in his dreams. Sunny or wet, the day’s weather was a matter of grief to him. His shorts were either too tight or too loose. Living in a food paradise in which fresh strawberries were available six months of the year, frozen ones year round, Warren complained that there wasn’t an adequate choice of food. He had a choice between range fed, corn fed, or chemically fed beef but he still beefed on endlessly. Gripe, gripe, gripe, grind, grind, grind,gnash, gnash, gnash, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly.
His mind was tied in knots, none of his thoughts could proceed in a straight line. He lived to inflict his grief on others. Any little sneaky injury he could do, he did. He did it for pleasure. It was he that Maggie has used to place the cocaine in Donn’s desk.
Maggie liked him. They had somewhat the same conception of self. They both had a prissy conception of being well dressed. Warren wore high waisted pants with those belts of a matching fabric with the little brass grommets. They both tried to wash their psychological dirt by being overscrubbed. Warren usually made a good first impression.
Today Maggie sent him to gather Donn’s reactions and intentions.
‘Oh, Donn, imagine meeting you here. What are you doing these days…now that you’re no longer with the Paper.’ He couldn’t resist the dig.
‘I, oh, I, had to see someone.’ Donn said evasively trying to brush Mogulson off. Donn had no use for him; being of a euphoric temperament himself Mogulson only brought him down.
‘I’ll bet I know.’ Warren burbled on. ‘You were seeing a lawyer about that little trouble you had.’
‘Well, yeah, I…’ Donn began in a sickly troubled manner.
‘Come on, Donn baby, let’s go have a cup of coffee and get some of this off your chest.’ Warren always had more than enough time to glory in other people’s troubles.
Donn wanted to split but unaccustomed to the pressure, he needed to talk to someone.
‘I didn’t do it.’ Donn said weakly as they walked up to the nearest national burger chain, which also passed for a restaurant.
‘Of course you didn’t, Donn. At least you didn’t do anything wrong, at least I don’t think you did. After all, it’s all genetics. We’re only realizing our destiny. Why shouldn’t it be filmed? Don’t you just hate those homophobic bigots? What right do they have to interfere in another man’s pleasures? God knows those nasty heterosexuals have their faults. They’re not perfect either.
Don’t they know what damage they do to themselves when they repress genetic needs? The fuss they make about eight year old boys realizing their destiny. Don’t they know nature’s bounty? There’s a million more in the womb at any given time. God!
Warren was talking loudly so others could hear.
He was trying to give Donn the character of a child abuser. Those who heard would transfer his expressed sentiment to Donn. Warren was talking sincerely for himself at the same time however. As a pederast he favored young virgin boys.
‘I mean, after all, our third sex is genetic. One is born a homsexual whether one realizes it or not. A man’s real nature is imprisoned by a lot of blathering social expectations. It’s part of the the heterosexual plot against us to keep us from realizing our true nature, from enjoying life as only we know how.
After all, all we are doing is freeing the true child when we accept their love. After all , isn’t freedom what America’s all about? Freedom from that Medieval moral claptrap? I liken it to sculpting. I mean, how would anyone have even known those four presidents were concealed in Mt. Rushmore if they hadn’t been blasted out? It’s like that marvelous sculpture of the Christ by Da Vinci in which the Christ in the stone is only half released. The real man has to be full sculpted. Why shouldn’t boys be affirmed in their true nature and be educated as one of their own sex. The third sex.
I mean…’ Warren was capable of going on for hours in this manner but Donn interrupted him: ‘Enough, Mogulson, enough. Stop. I don’t want to hear it. Everybody is listening.’ Donn got up to leave, Warren pulled him back down.
‘Alright. Don’t be rude. So what are you going to do?
Grief at his predicament overwhelmed Donn. In a moment of anguish he made up his mind and blurted out his intention.
‘I don’t know. I guess I have to leave town. They’re going to put me in jail.’
‘When will you leave?’ Mogulson asked eagerly overjoyed at this success.
‘Right away.’ Donn said, wiping a tear away. ‘I’ll leave tomorrow.’
‘Where are you going?’ Mogulson persisted.
‘Oh god, I don’t know. Leave me alone, Mogulson, get away from me with your obscene chatter.’
Warren scurried away with a hateful backward sneer at Donn. He had partially succeeded, he could report back to Maggie that Donn was going to jump. He smiled a smile of satisfaction at Donn’s discomfiture.
Dismissing Mogulson from his mind Donn raged over his legal predicament. He was innocent of this charge but unable to defend himself for lack of cash. Even then why should he have been required to spend cash, enormous sums, to clear himself. Disco Donn Contrales who had never worried about fairness before lamented that it wasn’t fair.
Well he had to leave, that was clear. Perhaps if he were to be caught in another state, he thought, the evidence against him wouldn’t be so compelling; perhaps he could exonerate himself that way without the enormous expense. But he didn’t want to be caught. Too chancy, besides he knew these guys all hung together.
With fair presence of mind he had withdrawn his savings of several thousand dollars issued in travelers checks. He threw his credit cards away so his movements couldn’t be traced from them. Then he went back to his apartment to pack his few undamaged belongings and rest.
As the morning sun streamed through the window Donn had made up his mind to head North to Seattle to plan his further course. In addition to his cash he still had his cosmic wheels, the Porsche, which he thought he would be able to sell for a good price if he ran out of money. Such thoughts as renewing his expensive insurance in the future hadn’t occurred to him.
Donn’s spirits lifted somewhat as he sat behind the wheel of his magnificent car that expressed less than the real Disco Donn Contrales as a specious imitation of him. He threaded his way across town to take 205 at the Everett access. His apprehension was acute as he joined I5 and inched along in the morning traffic toward the Interstate Bridge. He scanned the highway for police constantly. He felt a sense of relief as he touched down in Vancouver on the Washington side of the bridge. The Vancouver traffic thinned out as he forced his way through North. Then after Mill Plain he was able to open the throttle some until the open highway to Seattle beckoned.
On The Road
Get your motor running,
Get out on the highway,
Born to be wild,
Born to be wild.
The highway is for gamblers.
The French homosexual, Marcel Proust, spent several thousand pages in an attempt to prove the superiority of homosexual lust over heterosexual love. His thesis was that heterosexuals surrender their personalities to a lifelong bondage in exchange for doubtful sexual privileges while homosexuals retain full autocracy while satisfying their lust in brief encounters in back alleys or wherever convenient.
Proust was a great student of ritual. He described with great clarity of detail the means and methods of homosexual encounters but he lacked psychological depth nor was he ever able to explain the origins of homosexuality. In his eyes homosexuals lived carefree unfettered lives. I’m sure homosexual marriage would have been incomprehensible to him.
Disco Donn was now learning what the denial of one of those casual carefree encounters could mean. Because of his denial of one such demand he was being pursued and driven to the depths of despair by a disappointed applicant. Donn had known the law of the lawless brotherhood; open the door and assume the position. He hadn’t the power to refuse while Maggie Spingold had the power to make him repent his arrogance.
Now, behind the wheel of his cosmic vehicle, his astral wheels, as he imagined, safe out of Oregon, Donn relaxed behind the wheel snuggling into his seat, lulled into a euphoric state by the exhilaration of his purring engine and the open road. He didn’t notice the bear in the air keeping pace with his progress down the highway. Washington at that time kept at least one helicopter patrolling I5. One of these now followed Donn up the highway. It was aided by the transmitter placed on the bumper by Maggie’s hitman. A car trailed Donn about five miles back. The car had a shortwave. Its code name was Next Year.
Donn’s agitation was slowly subsiding when a large blotch of crankcase oil spewed out behind the speeding Porsche. With earsplitting noise the pistons cracked and shot out the block. Donn’s astral wheels rolled to a stop right here on Earth. They would never wheel him down the Betelgeuse Bridge no more.
The Bear transmitted the news to Next Year who pulled to a stop to receive further instructions. Donn understood his situation immediately. He had been sabotaged. He no longer had transportation and his cash reserve was thereby destroyed. He would have to leave many thousands of dollars on the apron of the highway.
Men don’t cry and Donn didn’t, at least not externally. Inwardly he spent five minutes in total grief before he got control of himself and disgustedly grabbed his bag to get out on the highway with his thumb out. As luck would have it the car had coasted to as stop at the Mossyrock exit, US 12.
Donn, who was faced with a quick decision abandoned his notion of going to Seattle preferring to get off the main highway. He walked the offramp up to Twelve to stand in glum expectation of a ride. Twelve isn’t the best hitchhiking road in America. It leads across the Cascades between Mts. Ranier and St. Helens into the deserts of central Washington. There was only one good highway across the state to Spokane and Idaho. The only other good road led back to Oregon. Donn didn’t know and he wouldn’t have cared if he had known. His only thought at the moment was to avoid being picked up by the police.
He thought he was being pursued. In fact the charges would be quietly shelved. Maggie’s objective had been attained. A trial might possibly have exposed the frame which might lead to who knows where. The police would not pursue Donn but his disappointed lover would.
There he stood in his grey silver toed boots, grey pants, waiter cut grey jacket, shades and grey flat hat. Out of his element he cut a ludicrous comic figure by the side of the road. He was oblivious of the fact. Donn’s heart nearly stopped when a black Porsche identical to his own came off Interstate 5 to stop in front of him. Maggie was truly vicious. The door accommodatingly flew open.
‘Hop in.’ Said a smiling voice.
‘Yeah, thanks.’ Donn said.
The shining Porsche splashed out on Twelve. The driver smiled over at Donn.
‘You ever driven one of these? Great car. You’d love it. Just point it in the direction you want to go and it’ll go there. Incredible suspension.’
‘Yuh, I’ve ridden in one.’ Donn said ruefully.
‘I’m taking this little buggy to New York. How far are you going?;
Donn should have given an evasive or false answer but his hammered state of mind and joy at his luck prevented his seeing the obvious ruse. He hadn’t known where he was going but with the prospect of a through ride things clarified themselves.
‘St. Louis.’ Donn said.
‘St. Louis? No kidding? How lucky can you get?: Why St. Louis? What are you going to do there?’
‘TV anchorman.’ Donn replied matter-of-factly not realzing how ludicrous that sounded coming from a hitchhiker in what now could be seen only as very eccentric garb.
Donn, not yet used to his status of knight of the road, leaned back unaware of his preposterousness. In any other driver it would have raised a smile but his host, the same as had been following him, Next Year, took it all in seriously as he was acquiring the information he had been sent to obtain. It no longer made any difference what Donn did on his way to St. Louis, his reception would be prepared when he got there. Nor is it likely that had there been an opening for a TV news announcer in St. Louis Donn would have been refused; he was good looking, confident and personable. Personable to the extreme when he turned it on.
The driver having now obtained the information he needed became amiable. He and Donn got along famously. The car climbed into the mountains, Ranier on the left, the stump of St. Helens on the right.
The lake at Mossyrock slipped by as the afternoon warmth was negated by the air conditioning. A few miles beyond Packwood the driver suddenly realized that he had failed to turn off the sprinkler.
‘Oh, damn, I’m going to have to go back to do that.’ The driver smiled ruefully at Donn. ‘Sorry, buddy, you’ll have to get out. Sorry ’bout that, old pal.’
The car made a U leaving Donn by the side of the road away out there. You don’t know how far out that is until you’re standing beside an inhospitable road with your thumb out. The afternoon heat still shown on the mountain crests. The scenery was stunning there in the woods, but Donn didn’t notice it. He stared glumly up and down the road. There isn’t that much traffic on Twelve and what there is is mainly short hops.
The sun went down on Donn as he stood away out there, solitary, silent and glum. When one wonders how alone you can get; Donn’s situation was a fair approximation. No matter how hot the day it gets pretty cold up there at night. The sparse traffic ceased completely. Cold and disconsolate he shouldered his bag and started walking just to keep warm.
Donn’s boots weren’t made for walking. It didn’t take long for his feet and legs to start howling. In despair Donn threw down his bag, sat on it, put his head in his arms and roared and bellowed.
He sat in the pitch black night for hours oblivious of time. He heard the roar of an engine in the distance laboring uphill. It sounded like a big eighteen wheeler, an old one.
Even though the truck had been some distance away when he first heard it he had just gotten to his feet when its headlights penetrated the darkness of the uphill slope on which he stood. Donn edged out into the roadway the better to be seen. As luck would have it the driver was lonely and pulled to a stop.
It was an old, old rig. Not a cab over, its long snout protruded before the windshield. It might have been a White or Mack but any identifying insignia had disappeared long ago. The color was either rust or brown. The driver was pulling two empty gravel bottoms.
Donn gratefully leaped in. Putting the truck through its innumerable gears the driver regained momentum. The truck roared so loudly you couldn’t hear yourself think. The driver wanted to talk. Donn was obligated to do so. Groggy from lack of sleep, exhausted by anxiety he tried to shout over the engine. Unable to be heard he had to scream.
As the driver came down the mountain he let the big rig roll. It was the most terrifying ride of Donn’s life. The sides of the bottoms flapped and banged behind him. The truck careened down the highway at breakneck speed seemingly pushed by the bottoms beyond anything but the driver’s ability to steer it.
‘How do you stop this thing if you have to?’ Donn screamed at the driver.
‘Don’t know. Never had to.” The driver shouted back with a complacent smile enjoying some kind of trucker humor.
‘Jesus. Can’t.’ Thought Donn.
Donn heaved a sigh of relief as the driver pulled over just after leaving the Douglas Wilderness Area to let him out.
Beat and tired he stood by the side of the road trying to collect his thoughts. Then he grimly realized where he was. He was standing in this burning desert with the sun rising. July in the desert is no picnic. This was where the Wobblies had been packed into sealed rail cars in July to be transported hundreds of roasting miles across the central desert of Washington and Oregon. They hadn’t had any water then; Donn hadn’t had anything to drink since noon the previous day.
Hands on hips Donn stood looking up and down the highway kicking dust all over his beautiful grey boots with the silver plates. Suddenly he realized how quickly one got seedy away out there. His boots were dusty, his clothes rumpled. By the end of the day he would be smelly, if he lived. For the first time he realized how ridiculous his outfit was. He wished he had regular clothes. He looked around for some sign of running water but found nothing but scorched desert.
At ten he began to get uneasy. At eleven, as the heat began to build he got desperate. Just at that moment a car appeared in the shimmer to pull over. It wasn’t a mirage. The back door flipped open. The car was an old jalop. Some big huge sedan dating back to the thirties, possibly a Ford V8. The car was enormously roomy. Donn could stretch his legs all the way out without touching the front seat. There was just enough room on the seat for him. The other side was piled high with junk.
Donn pushed his bag into it staring at the assortment of articles with wonder. He had been engaged in this for two or three minutes when, mouth open, he turned his eyes forward. His eyes were met by a ragged leering countenance.
‘Hi! I’m Zadok, this here’s Amirah. We’re Cristins.’ Zadok said from deep in his throat. ‘How about you?’
‘I’m dying of thirst. You wouldn’t happen to have a drink of water, would you?’ Donn croaked, holding out his hand in anticipation.
‘Water? You need ‘living’ water. All I gots still water.’ Zadok said meaning that he couldn’t give Donn the spiritual ‘living’ water of Jesus. Donn thought he meant that he didn’t have carbonated Perrier.
‘That’s alright. It’ll do.’ He said, motioning for the water.
‘Hand me the water. I’m dying of thirst.’
Zadok paused then passed back a full half gallon jug.
‘Ya always gotta have this kinda water out here, especially further out, ya never know when ya might break down.’
Donn gulped a couple slugs, skull aching from being up all night. His feet were killing him.
‘Well?’ Zadok pressed.
‘Uh, oh yeah, excellent water. Thanks.’ Donn nodded.
‘Well, ya gonna answer or not?’
‘Answer what?’ Donn said, having forgotten the question.
‘Well, you Christin’ or not?’
Donn wobbled. He hadn’t felt the need of the grace of god since perhaps he was twelve; on the other hand he had never formally rejected the notion of god in his mind. He really didn’t know for sure in the circumstances.
‘Not a very devout one.’ He replied equivocally and prudently.
‘Well, ya better git devout.’ Zadok said thrusting his jaw at him. ‘And right away. Do ya know what’s gonna happen?’
Donn will be excused for taking the sally as some kind of threat. Actually Zadok was just a blunt speaker. He and Amirah were pretty crude guys. His speech concealed reams of suppositions and explanations left unspoken. Donn not understanding the notions behind the question sat erect, compressed his lips and shook his head ‘no’ ready for anything.
‘He’s comin’ back real soon. You’re gonna get left behind if ya don’t shape up.’
‘Oh yeah, when?’ Donn said comprehending and disgusted at his momentary apprehension.
‘Real quick.’ Zadok said vaguely. ‘Me’n Amirah here is real Bible students, we got it all figured out. We got ourselfs a commune of like believers. We live out in the Rattlesnake Hills where it is His comin’ back spot. Wanna join our commune?’
Both Amirah and Zakok were rough, mean, ignorant boys who kept moving from the center of society to the fringes. Partially by inclination, partially because they were forced out. They had had a fair chance, coming from the bottom half, but they wouldn’t take the chances offered them and they rejected the discipline necessary to take advantage of them. Somehow they, or Amirah at least, had learned to read well enough to puzzle through passages of the Bible. Apparently only a minimum reading skill is necessary.
As they were unable to function in the complexities of society they had gradually found their way out into the desert when no one else wanted to be. Each was convinced that he was destined to make a mark on the world. Through movies and TV they projected themselves on all the leading tough guys and men of action. Their lives were lived through a haze of movie euphoria.
Along the way they had picked up several women by whom each had had a passel of children. These plus a couple male hangers on formed their ‘commune.’
These guys were rought tough men given over entirely to the gratification of their vices. Interpreting the Bible in such a way that they personally had dominion over the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. As the anointed of god all men, women and children were subject to their use and abuse. Consequently they indulged their sexual fantasies with any of the women, children and men of the commune. Zadok and Amirah were pretty vile guys. But… Holy.
Donn had all the trappings of culture. These guys revolted him. He wasn’t afraid but he should have been more wary. He decided to play with them.
‘Hey, Zadok, you know that you use ‘ain’t’ improperly?’
‘So! I ain’t no snob. So what?’
‘No. No. I don’t mean you shouldn’t use ain’t; I mean you use ain’t improperly.’
‘What the hell you talkin’ about? Ain’t’s aint.’
‘No, it ain’t.’ Donn sparred on. ‘Ain’t is a contraction of am not. Therefore it can properly be used in I ain’t but it is improper to say you, he, we or they ain’t. Just a small point. I thought you’d like to know.’
Zadok and Amirah had no idea what Donn was talking about but any display of learning they didn’t have was a put down to them.
‘I told you so…’ Amirah whistled under his breath.
Zadok nodded. ‘Yeah?’ He said to Donn. ‘Well argue with this son-of-a-bitch.’ Zadok snarled flopping a big .45 pistol over the seat back, cocking the hammer as he did so.
Donn was from Texas. He didn’t flinch. This fact made a big impression on Zadok.
‘Hey, put that thing down, man. I was just trying to help. It was just small talk. Relax man.’
‘I’ll relax when a anti-Christ like you is outta my car.’
‘I heard that.’ Amirah said as he found a dirt road leading to god knows where.
They had already gone through Yakima and were out on the Rattlesnake Hills road when they turned off. They dropped off several miles out into the desert hills and left him. Fortunately for Donn he held onto the water jug. The sun was blazing down. Donn decided to wait for nightfall to walk out. He got down into the shade of an embankment and waited.
By nightfall Donn, who had been dozing on and off was too weary to move. He was too weary to make a decision so he sat there cold and miserable throughout the night. It wasn’t sleep but it was rest. He was alerted to the coming of day as the advance glow from the sun’s rays mingled with inspissated gloom of night. The light particles increased in force lifting and driving away the darkness like fog being absorbed by the air as it warmed.
Dispirited but thankful to be alive Donn finished off his still water, pushed himself to his feet and began the trudge back to the Rattlesnake Hills road; fortunately he hadn’t encountered any rattlesnakes.
Those boots troubled him mightily. By the time he reached the road his feet pained him greatly. Luck was with him this morning. He had barely put his thumb out when a clean obviously well maintained but old car pulled over to offer him a ride.
‘Terrible place to hitchhike son. Whatever possessed you to take this road. There ain’t nothing on it for fifty mile or more. You could die out here easy. This heat’n all, no water.’
Donn sat there trying to come up with a plausible answer.
‘I don’t know. I had a ride and this is just the place they dropped me off.’
‘Not very Christian folk were they?’ The driver, Al Martin, commented.
‘Well, they said they were, but I guess not.’ Donn smiled ironically.
‘You just goin’ up to the Tri-Cities?’ Al asked.
‘Hmmm. You know why I stopped to pick you up, son?’
‘Christian charity, I suppose.’
‘That’s no joke, son, and that’s part of it. No, there was just something about you that said you were a fine boy who’d had a streak of bad luck. Am I right?’
‘I’m hardly a boy, sir.’ Donn responded somewhat testily.
‘Well, son, I’m seventy-six years old and I hope you’ll allow me some of my fantasies I’ve entertained since I was a boy. I always wanted to be kind and fatherly.’
‘Oh yeah, sure.’
‘You look pretty beat. You look like you could use a break today. I got a place up here in Eureka, that’s on the other side of the junction with the Snake. You can stay for the night, clean up, get some rest if you like.’
Go to continuation at Part II-2, Disco Donn Demands Deliverance.