Disco Donn Demands Deliverance
You take your life in your hands when out there in the great beyond on the highway. It’s a place beyond the reach of the law. Lawless people drive the highways looking for excitement and adventure. Lawless people put their thumbs out for the same reason. The driver never knows who’s getting in the car; the hitchhiker never knows who’s driving.
Al, who had introduced himself, looked all right but that could change pretty quickly. Hitchhikers disappear all the time. Donn, hesitated, reluctant to put his fate in the old man’s hands.
‘It’s all right, son. You’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m not queer.’
‘Sure.’ D0nn said with an ironic smile, accepting both out of trust and weariness. ‘I’d be grateful.’
They wheeled into Richland crossing the great Columbia River then down to Pasco and across the snake at the confluence of the two rivers, then east toward Eureka in the orchards and farmlands.
‘You know, son, religion can be a cover for real moral anarchy. A lot of people forget that morality is the whole reason for religion not politics. If you can’t do a kindness for your fellow man then your religion don’t mean a thing. Love is the law and I don’t mean mere sex. It’s a simple answer, it’s a trite answer, it’s an ignored and overlooked answer. The answer runs at cross purposes to most men’s inclination. It’s an answer that has to be told over and over from generation to generation. It’s an answer that should be in every book ever written. If you ever write a book promise me you’ll put it in yours, Donn.’
‘Sure. If I ever write a book, I will.’ Donn glibly answered. What else could he do. What an odd request.
‘Love,’ the old boy went on, somewhat tediously, ‘By love I mean charity. Not alms giving, but goodwill toward your neighbor. Charity in the old fashioned sense of the word. It is true what Jesus said: A man must have faith, hope and charity. The greatest of these is charity. For if a man hath not charity his voice will be as the sounding brass. It’s true. Without kindness your words merely rasp and buzz. No one will listen to you. So, love your neighbor, son.’
‘I’ve done that before.’ Donn said with a smirk, turning to look out the window.
By now Donn was hoping the lecture was over. He saw the validity of the lecture but he could find no application in his past, present or future. He smiled at the old geezer and shook his head. At least this guy was better than Zadok and Amirah.
Al pulled off the highway a couple miles past Eureka to drive about five miles toward the Snake. There was the neatest, prettiest little farmstead Donn had ever seen. The square, frame house stood on a little rise surrounded by small trees and bushes. The house reflected the kind gentility of Al Martin. As within, so without.
Within the hour Donn had washed, shaved and was between clean sheets drifting off into oblivion.
Donn was too exhausted to sleep soundly, He woke two or three times during the night, his mind too numbed to rouse himself from bed, his thoughts too crowded to separate into strands he could analyze. Morning found him seated at the breakfast table dazed, listless and despondent.
Al Martin studied him intently from across the kichen. He said: ‘You know Donn, keeping this place up isn’t easy for a man my age. I got a whole bunch of chores needs doin’. If you help me out you can stay for a week or so till everything gets done. Can’t offer you more than room and board, but…’
Donn shook his head yes: ‘Yeah, Al, that would be great. I can do that. What needs to be done?’
Donn pitched in with good will. Over the week he worked on his problems while he worked, rather than whistled, for Al. As he had his last breakfast with Al the worst of the numbness was gone. He had toughened a little but the future still dismayed him casting a dark pall over his mind. He had identified Maggie as the culprit. A growing powerless hatred began to envelope him.
Al drove him back to the highway, thanked him and dropped him off as the morning heat began to build.
Al Martin had been a solitary ray of sunshine piercing through the great black storm clouds over Donn. The respite Al had given Donn served him well; his nerves were strengthened and he had time to make some necessary adjustments to his psyche from his fall from grace. Grimmer events were now to occur. The hammer blows of his destiny would not allow him to rise but his descent to beyond the depths of despair would be slower.
Donn had been out there for a couple hours. The morning sun had turned to an afternoon bake, god almighty hot. Blistering. The blacktop wasn’t bubbling but it looked like it was about to boil any minute. The stuff actually moved beneath Donn’s heel. Donn still wearing his Disco clothes was drenched.
‘Hey, Cowboy, need a ride?’
It wasn’t a beautiful woman in a Cadillac, it was four Mexican braceros in a beatup old ’61 Chevy. The question had a sinister tone to it.
‘I’m looking for a ride to St. Louis.’ Donn said ludicrously, declining the ride.
His response was met by raucous laughter.
‘Hey, there aint’ no St. Louis around here, man.’
One of the men, they were all eighteen to twenty-three, got out of the back and motioned Donn to sit in the middle. In the middle surrounded on both sides and vulnerable from the front. Not a good hitchhiking situation.
‘No, man, no. Thanks, but I mean St. Louis, Missouri.’ In hitchhiking terms this was a virtual insult.
‘Hey, you muchachos hear of this place, St. Louis, Missouri?’
The query was answered by a chorus of noes and ‘there ain’t no such place as St. Louis, Missouri, man. There ain’t no such place as Missouri.’ More raucus laughter.
‘Get in, man. We give you ride.’ The guy holding the door open smiled, the other three doors cracked open as if the occupants were going to get out.
Donn got in. This was not the worst thing he could have done. Had he not they might have made short work of him with tire irons, knives and whatnot, conversely he might have outsprinted them across the burning desert. When you’re way out there without hope or friends in alien territory you just naturally have to make difficult decisions. Donn’s hope was not unjustified. Nor did he behave abjectly to deal with this difficulty.
Once in the car the Mexicans became verbally abusive of him. They called him blondie, ridiculed his mustache and insulted his sexual prowess.
Then the passenger in the front seat, Juan Perez, who was somewhat vain of his pysique flexed his biceps saying: ‘Hey, man. See that arm? I can knock you out with one punch, man.’
As Juan said so, the driver, Pedro Martinez, swang onto a dirt road leading into the hills. Donn felt a chill in the un-air-conditioned car but didn’t flinch. He’d gotten his opening.
‘Yeah, man? Maybe, but you’d never get to land a punch. I was scientific (he threw the word in for effect) boxing champion at SMU.’
‘SMU? What’s that?’ Juan said, overawed by something he didn’t know.
‘Scientific Mangling University. You want to go a round or two with me, stop and car and I’ll show you some real science.’
Juan was frightened by unfamiliar terms like science and SMU and became apprehensive. He didn’t want to go a couple rounds but he wanted Donn to show him some of his moves.
The driver pulled over; they all got out. Donn and Juan squared away. As Donn had predicted Juan couldn’t come close to landing a punch. The Mexicans were duly impressed. After Donn had shown them a few moves Juan said: ‘Hey man, for a gringo you’re alright. Then they piled back into the Chevy amidst more raucus laughter leaving Donn standing among the heatwaves in the field.
In that heat it was an hour and a half walk back to the highway. Donn caught a number of short rides. As the sun was setting he was dropped off just past Tucannon a couple miles from Fort Kwakiutl. He decided to walk into town. Fort Kwakiutl was a small town, barely on the map, but it did host a Starlight Motel, a restaurant, a bar and a couple gas stations. Spoiled by his stay at Al Martin’s Donn decided to stay at the Starlight.
He checked in, cleaned up and went to the restaurant to eat. He was relatively relaxed and hungry. He had a lot of money so he ate heartily. Ed Quigley sat at the bar watching him. ‘That hobo’s got some money.’ Ed thought darkly. ‘I bet nobody knows where he’s at or why.’
Quigly was a big beefy man. Though much out of shape, big paunchy belly, he thought he could handle a little guy like Donn. He moseyed over inviting himself to Donn’s table. He plunked his beer down on the table.
‘Saw ya walkin’ inta town. You a ‘knight of the road.’
Donn laughed amiably. ‘Let’s just say I’m passing through.’
‘Oh yeah? Must be hitchhiking?’
‘Yes, I am.’ Donn replied.
‘Say, listen, buddy, I gotta proposition for ya. I’m goin’ inta Boise tomorrow. If you got twenty for gas I’ll take ya along.’
Donn thought a minute. He was weary of the road. He’d been at it for a couple weeks and he still wasn’t out of the state of Washington. By now he felt a little more confident. He was anxious now to get to St. Louis. He didn’t dare say he was broke because Quigly could see the remains of his dinner.
‘I’ve blown just about everything I have here tonight. Bummed it along the way. It’s a good chance though. Could you take ten? He didn’t want to give the idea that he could afford more. A few more miles down the road of life and Donn would understand how transparent he had been.
Quigly looked at him, seemed doubtful, then said: ‘Yeah, sure, OK. Ten’s better than nothin’.’
‘It’s a deal.’ Donn smiled.
‘One thing,’ Quigly said. ‘I’m leaving early, four in the morning.’
‘OK.’ From Donn. ‘Where are you going to be?’
‘There’s a big oak tree two miles outta town. It’s the only tree that size out there. Can’t miss it. Meet me there. In any case I’ll drive slow so I won’t miss you.’
Donn was up trudging through the night to his four o’ clock rendezvous. Quigly was waiting for him.
Injuring our fellow man is quite akin to sexual intercourse. You work yourself up in pretty much the same way. As they sped up Hwy. 12 through Delancy Donn had intuited from Ed’s rutting manner what was up. There was no surprise when Quigly swung into a side road moving between two hills by an arroyo.
Ed left the motor running. ‘Alright, Cowboy, now I know ya got money. Ya don’t eat like that and stay at the Starlight if ya don’t. Ya can give it to me peacefully or I can beat it out of ya. It’s up to you; it’s your choice, you call it, what’s it gonna be?’
Donn opened his door and jumped out.
Still leaving the engine of his beater running Quigly got out huffily, ‘Alright, son-of-a-bitch, if that’s the way you want it.’
Quigley’s confidence caused him to over expend his energies too quickly. Donn played him like a trout on a line util Quigly, breathless, held up a hand for Donn to wait while he caught his breath. Donn had a different role for himself than in Quigly’s fantasy. He moved in giving Quigly everything he had. Quigly unprepared for the response, caught between gasps, rolled onto the ground.
As he did something snapped in Donn. He wanted vengeance for everything; his rape, football, boxing, Maggie’s treatment, everything. As Quigly fell Donn leaped on him picking up a big rock and bringing it down repeatedly on Quigly’s head until the corpse was nearly headless.
As Donn came to himself there was no remorse. He was both sickened and relieved. He was no killer but the release had been very satisfying. In any case he had no cause for self-recrimination as he had killed Quigly in self-defense. His conscience was clear, but as a drifter, the preponderance of proof was his, he didn’t have any.
Acting quickly he dragged Quigly’s nearly headless body over to the arroyo and threw it in. Fate was on his side as the body rolled under a ledge and wedged in out of sight. Quigley’s precaution of leaving early lest he be seen with Donn worked to Donn’s advantage. No one had seen them.
Quigly’s old beater was still running. Donn got in behind the wheel, turned the old buggy around and got out on the highway to Boise and beyond to Salt Lake City.
Mentally Donn tried to sweep the killing of Quigly into the dust bin of his memory as he had his reprehensible sexual relations that he detested.
He wanted to believe that he had only witnessed the killing but his conciousness rejected the falsehood. Forced to deal with reality he came to the right conclusion- he had killed in self-defence. Quigly’s unlucky day. But justly or not he knew that as a drifter and with the suit back in Portland and assigned to a public defender he was lost.
It then dawned on him also that in the eyes of the law he was driving a stolen car. And what a car! The big beast was a favorite of urban desperadoes; a huge old carcass of a ’63 Olds. The immense rusty hood stretched out before him to eternity. The vinyl top was ragged and torn. The giant trunk lid was held down by a wire. The worn tires made 100% constact with the road; the tread was gone. Quigly was no mechanic. The engine roared around faint rattles coming from diverse places.
The interior was trashed, the glove compartment hanging open; seats and roof lining torn, butts all over the floor and even on the seats. Quigly had customized it to reflect his inner malaise. As within, so without. Gradually Donn realized what he was driving. These were no cosmic wheels; this was no astral vehicle.
The realization drove all other thoughts from his mind. His brow knitted; he put the first two fingers of his right hand to his lips and gazed about in dismay. He sat back and tried to look cool. Revulsion overcame him. He realizied how low he had sunk.
‘There must be some way out of here.’ He thought.
He made Boise the next morning. Disgusted with himself and his situation; embarrassed now by the Disco Donn facet of his personality he bought a levi jacket, jeans and a couple sweaters to adapt to his new situation. Tennis shoes for walking. In fact Donn shed all the facets of his multi-faceted personality but one. His multi-facets could only be supported by prosperity. He reverted back to the Texas gold old boy personality he had when he entered Portland.
Don began to be really apprehensive about driving the big beast but he wanted to make Salt Lake before he aband0ned it. To make matters worse a patch on the radiator gave way about Brigham City. He began to make frequent stops at gas stations to fill up the radiator in hopes of cooling the engine well enough to make Salt Lake City. He steamed through Odgen and into the suburbs of Salt Lake as a blistering heat wave through the fire wall roasted his feet and legs.
He wheeled into a side street.
Guilty Of the Shame
We know there’s a dark side
To the moon that we see;
But what’s a little darkness
To the likes of you and me.
Donn stepped out of the steaming heap looking at it in vengeful disgust to turn his steps back to the highway. As he did a pair of blue eyes watched him approach. The eyes, all the luster having departed, belonged to Sandy Tyler. Sandy, now well into her thirties, was a refugee from the dolorous broken dreams of the sixties. Trapped in a state of arrested adolescence, her mind inundated by drugs, she was arrayed in the symbols of the mock poverty of the late sixties.
She had once been a very beautiful young woman. While she sought desperately to retain the vestiges of that beauty against the ravages of drugs and despair only mere glimmers of her former freshness remained. Superb bone structure prevented her face from dissolving into sheer ugliness. Beneath her T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of some indiotic post-1975 heavy metal band her once firm high breasts sagged braless down to her belt loops. Her jeans had the obligatory tears across each knee. There was a tear beneath each cheek of her derriere which exposed white skin no longer firm or translucent. Her jeans were tucked into brown suede boots, calf high, turned down. A certain pride of former glory still clung to her presence.
One might well blame Sandy for a wasted life but the shame was not hers; it belonged to American society. She had been dragged down completely innocent and against her will with no menfolks to defend her degradation. In circumstances which you in your comfort would dismiss with a comment like: Oh well, life’s not fair.
Sandy had come from Cincinatti, Ohio. She had come from well-to-do parents who had raised her to be the model of decorum. She had breeding. She had been blond and pert with a beautiful figure. Psychologically she had been as well balanced as one of twenty can be. Her expectations were those that one would associate with her background.
She had married Bert Tyler who she had met and fallen in love with at the University Of Ohio. Upon graduation Bert had taken a job with Standard of California and moved to San Francisco. This was in 1964 when the subterranean rumbles of massive change could be heard and experienced if not understood. The times were changing at incredible speed as they usually are when you’re in the middle of them. Intelligence and precaution were not enough to save you; you had to play dodgeball with the juggernaut and win. Luck was of the greatest importance. Luck was not with Sandy Tyler.
Sandy’s husband was something of a rake. Unresolved wildness lived in his soul. He wasn’t ready to settle down to middle class respectability. He suggested that he and Sandy take up residence in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, that wicked, wicked city of transients. Tourists ooh and aah over Baghdad By The Bay. But beneath the charming exterior of the Bay and cable cars of the City all is sour and corrupt. The spirit of Tom Mooney and Harry Bridges hovers over the City. There is a seething hatred and class envy which negates the charms of the location. All San Francisco is a suberb of Chinatown. It is no accident that Beatniks and Hippies flourished there.
The Sixties seethed and boiled with unremitting vigor. Contrasted to the glitter of the scientific accomplishments of the times, cities decayed into ruin before your eyes. The Maelstrom whirled all around you. One had to learn to navigate its currents to survive. It was wise to avoid the use of drugs in a city of drug proliferation. Heroin was the least of your worries. Only junkies used heroin and they are a class unto themselves. One can look at a junkie and realize immediately that junkieism is a trap to be avoided. Cocaine, which has a long history of societal use beginning with its first pusher, Sigmund Freud, was nowhere prevalent at the time. Cocaine didn’t become common until the seventies. Marijuana was not yet everywhere but was indispensable to the Underground. Exotica such as peyote and mescaline and mushrooms were still of a semi-legendary character.
The man made drugs were prevalent. Amphetamines, barbiturates and LSD were everywhere. Stanford University advertised in the papers for ‘psychological’ subjects. As it turned out the subjects were wanted for drug experimentation. They were given massive doses of LSD. This gave a certain legitimacy to their use. After all, the high priest of acid was a defrocked professor from Harvard, Timothy Leary.
The world of drug use was being popularized and glamorized by the evangel of the generation- the phonograph record. The psyche of the era cannot be understood without a thorough knowledge of the recorded music and comedy of the era, comedy may have been as important as the music. The phonograph record was the single most important factor in the lives of the generation except for, perhaps, the psychologically inert. The generation was raised on records.
To understand the music, which is to say songs, you have to start with the incoherent shouting and strumming of a black blues shouter by the name of Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbettor and follow the chain through the various white blues singers until you end at the Kingston Trio. From thence Ledbettor’s songs and stylings entered the main stream. Thus the mind of the sixities generation was conditioned by an outsider’s slave and prison mentality. Let that Midnight Special shine its ever loving light on me.
At the same time a group of men were setting about to create the ‘rucksack revolution.’
Here comes a no-no in American letters. We’re going to discuss imigration in a realistic rather than romantic fashion. This group of men who sought to influence and undermine American civilization were, with one exception, the sons of immigrants who were reacting to the inconveniences of being foreign elements integrating into an existing social structure. Jack Kerrouac was a Catholic French Canadian, Allen Ginsberg was a Jew from the Pale, William S. Burroughs was the descendent of the inventor of the calculator who apparently rejected logical thinking in favor of anarchy, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were Italians.
An Anglo view of the group can be found in John Clellon Holmes autobiographical novel ‘Go.’ They all grew to maturity between the wars when the conflict between Anglo-American society and immigrant society was most intense. The Anglo-American demand that the immigrants shed their ethnic beliefs and characters created an intense reaction. Carl Witte epitomized the struggle in his early forties book: We Built America.
As the immigrant population equaled or exceeded that of the Anglo-Americans it was perhaps inevitable that they should triumph. In any event they did. By 1950 all the trappings of Anglo culture were being torn down to be replaced by symbols that either asserted other ethnic origins or pointedly and often violently rejected Anglo symbols.
Where formerly immigrants had been rejected and reviled by the Anglos the immigrants now quickly turned the tables. While the sons and daughters of the Anglos had been brought up to believe in the incredible homogeneity of American society the sons and daughters of the immigrants sought to bring the Anglos down. The humiliation of Sandy Tyler was the result of those feelings.
The Beat writers, as these men have been called, represented the grossest materialism. They were all drunks, perverts and drug addicts. They sought to impose those values on America. The onslaught was led by Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerrouac. Both had done time in the bughouse or insane asylum. Oddly enough the whole group was exposed for what they were long before they became effective by John Clellon Holmes. Holmes’ premonitory warning was not understood. Why should anyone worry about a bunch of bums.
Kerrouac glorified the subculture in ‘On The Road’, ‘The Dharma Bums’, ‘The Subterraneans’ and other novels. Ginsberg contributed an insane chant called ‘Howl.’ Through their success from 1956 to 1959 they were able to get Burroughs’ scream of hatred ‘Naked Lunch’ published. He followed this by the influential ‘Soft Machine’ and ‘Nova Express.’
The Beat writers were well received by the Underground. Evidences of their cultural impact were obvious in San Francisco and the Bay Area in the early sixties. They were not so obvious and understandable to the larger society which had heard little of the Beat writers. As Bob Dylan expressed it: ‘…there’s something happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you…?’
Dylan himself, who as a recording artist, was a major influence on the sixties, appears to have drawn so much inspiration for his middle period from Kerrouac and Burroughs that he can be described as a post-Beat writer.
The Beat writers originally tried to oerganize the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco but the Beatniks themselves, who came from an earlier period uninfluenced by Beat writers chose North Beach as their headquarters.
While the Beatniks dominated North Beach the Hippie culture was being formed in the Haight-Ashbury at the same time. This culture found expression in the music of the San Francisco Sound. Marty Balin, no one knows which two swords he carried, and the Jefferson Airplane musical group were establishing the Matrix nightclub while the rock clubs would supplant the jazz clubs of the Beatniks and transfer the focal point of the scene from North Beach back to the Haight-Ashbury.
In addition to the Anglo-Immigrant conflict the old struggle between the Black Folk and the White Folk was assuming new dimensions. The Blacks were demanding social equality- whatever that is. One doesn’t want to generalize excessively where the Blacks are concerned because theirs is also a society of many diverging opinions and attitudes, nevertheless in a sizable majority of Blacks ‘social equality’ involved what is known as ‘the Payback.’ Blacks feel that they are owed something for the indignities placed on them by White Society. This opinion is shared by a not unsizable group of Whites, so long as some other Whites pay the bill.
Racial memories are not obliterated in a moment, a generation or even several generations. Whites seem to have the inexplicable notion that the memory of unjust deeds can be removed by an apology, or checks drawn on someone else’s account. Whites seem to think that things are thereby cured and resentments will disappear. Blacks who have suffered grievous injuries with marvelous equanimity don’t believe so.
One of the most humiliating indignities Black women had to endure during the slave era was to be at the beck and call of any White man. Literally, a White male could take any Black woman by the arm and lead her off to minister to his sexual needs at any time. If she were the wife of a Black man there was absolutely nothing he could do about it but endure the shame. So, the Payback involves White women. Black men demand the same privilege with White women that White men had with Black women. Everything in life gets down to a sexual offence.
As there was no social apparatus to suport their hopes and ambitions as their had been for White men, Black men had to enforce their desires surreptitiously.
Thus, of a foggy overcast midday, nearly all days are foggy and overcast in San Francisco, Sandy Tyler was walking down Grant St. in North Beach on the way to the laundromat. She was the epitome of a what a young White woman should be. She was beautiful. All eyes turned. She was innocent. She walked the streets of North Beach as though they were the streets of her upper class neighborhood in Cincinatti.
Among the Beats and degenerates, the Blacks and Italians of this very Italian neighborhood her very Anglo dress and style stood out like Jane in Tarzan’s Africa. Deep racial instincts stirred at the sight of her. She had been trained to believe that assimilation in America had been complete. All people were kind. It is still a myth that most adhere to.
Sheldon Washington, a drug dealer and a huge Black man stood talking on the corner before the The Gate Of Wine Coffee House. The Gate was a quintessential Beatnik Coffee House of the era. Despite its name, which came from the Gilgamesh, no liquor was served. Each night local poets, writers, thinkers and simple complainers held forth from the podium to the assembled multitude. Unlike the Hippies, the Beatniks were well educated and much intelligent discourse could be heard at the Gate.
Unfortunately complainers like the said Seldon Washington also inflicted themselves on the audience. Sheldon had bent the ears of the audience for fifty-three minutes twenty-two seconds the night previous complaining about how a Spade Cat couldn’t walk down the street with a Honky chick without drawing stares. His argot was so new that half the audience picked up Spade Cat as spayed cat and had no idea what a Honky Chick was. Perhaps a spayed cat and an honky chick should be stared at.
But at this moment that Sandy chose to walk by, the Man was being being waited on by his Honky heroin addict. The addict, thin and unkempt, stood holding his money in his hand eagerly pressing it on Sheldon who was in no hurry to hand him his balloon. In fact he didn’t have one on him. the junkie would have to wait a little longer.
Sheldon stood drawing out the wasted junkie’s agony when Sandy entered the intersection drawing his attention. Now, Sheldon was one of those Black giants at six-four, two-eighty whose muscalature was concealed beneath the immense smooth expanse of his biceps and chest. If he just raised his arm and let if fall on your back he could knock you down. He was wearing a black Italian undershirt over his dark brown body.
Sheldon was so enchanted that he let out an involuntary long low whistle. A girl of White breeding, Sandy ignored it as she properly should. Breeding was unknown in North Beach where other standards applied. Indignant at what he considered arrogance, Sheldon bellowed: ‘Say mama, that was a compliment to your beautiful booty.’
Well, Sandy seldom answered to ‘mama’, never acknowledged strange men on the street, let alone Black men, and had she known that ‘booty’ referred to her ass she would have been indignant. But then, that was Cincinatti, this was North Beach. Sandy responded by sticking her nose in the air pointedly ignoring Sheldon.
Washington’s attitude changed abruptly. Washington belonged to the Black Brotherhood and associated with the Junkie Brotherhood. In both the individual identity is submerged in the collective identity. One is immediately on familiar terms with every other member of the Brotherhood. There are no interfaces. Thus had Sandy been a Black woman she would have smiled, perhaps shook her booty as a token of appreciation and returned some compliment as to the probable size of Sheldon’s ‘thing.’ That she didn’t angered Sheldon. He had a very big voice which he now raised to its loudest putting the threat of direct physical violence into it.
‘Say Woman,’ he bellowed, ‘where you manners? When a brown eyed handsome man compliments a pretty woman that woman better appreciate it or she gonna have big troubles in this man’s neighborhood. You dig?’
Sandy stopped dead in her tracks, terrified, as she had every reason to be. At the sound of Sheldon’s voice the Junkie had nearly fallen to his knees groveling before the Big Black. Other White boys along the street stared lasciviously at the beautiful girl hoping to get some of whatever Sheldon left. Their eyes silently encouraged her to acquiesce. Alone and small, never before confronted with such brutal customs, the White girl turned to face Sheldon’s wrath with wide staring eyes.
‘I sayed you got a beautiful ass, mama.’ Sheldon bellowed louded than a bass drum.
‘T-thank-you.’ Sandy stuttered, terrified, embarrassed and not knowing how to respond to retain her dignity as a married woman.
That’s better, mama.’ Sheldon said attempting to console and command at the same time. ‘Now you run along and don’t ever pull that haughty shit again, hear?’
The White boys on the street snickered confident that Sheldon, the Spade Cat, would take what he wanted and leave the rest of the Honky Chick to them.
‘That’s tasty,’ each thought, ‘I’m really going to enjoy fucking that bitch.’
The promise of America was no promise at all, it was a perverted curse.
A week later Sandy was walking down Grant on the way to the laundry. She didn’t know how to preserve her own boogie in The Land Of The Thousand Dances. She walked close to the buildings rather than curbside. The Grant St. Grocery lay on her line of march. The grocery was one of those shallow stores with no back room; rather a section running from front to rear was walled off as a storage room. Some ten feet or so from the store entrance was an unobtrusive door through which deliveries were made.
As Sandy was passing this door a hand shot out grasping her by the throat and pulling her in. Taken completely by surprise she was not consciously aware of anything till she lay gasping and sobbing against the shelves where Sheldon Washington had discarded her.
The scene would haunt her dreams, transformed into symbolism she could not understand, but which would shield her from some of the shame although the terror had hypnotized her into a different person. Sheldon, who was a very big man, wanted to teach the Honky Chick a less in humility. Blue eyes would not secure her immunity; on Grant Street brown eyes ruled. His method was direct action, straight terror; his intellect was of the crudest but no less effective on that account. He had merely grabbed Sandy off the street. Picking her up, she was only 5’3″, 110 pounds, he had shoved his pelvis forward and dropped Sandy on his penis, jiggling her up and down until he climaxed. He had then just thrown her against the shelves where she fell in a heap.
The street which had been empty in anticipation of the deed silently filled as the White boys stepped from doorways, alleys and from behind telephone poles where they had been inconspicuous. Faces came to windows, eyes staring fixedly on the side door of the grocery.
‘Now let that be a lesson to you, bitch. When some brown eyed handsome man give you compliments you give him his reward and don’t give me none of that cheap assed marriage shit neither. You learn to treat a man right and he’ll treat you right.’
After this lecture in ethics Seldon’s mind turned to business, for after all a man has to eat, and Sheldon’s other business was pimping.
‘Say, bitch, you know you got a tight little ass. You should put that cute money maker to work for me. I show you how to live right and tight. You be wearing diamonds and minks; you dump that Honky cat and come with me. I show you how to shake that money maker; you don’t be walkin’ so stiff assed down the street no mo’, walk like a righteous woman.’
Anyone looking for a good time of any kind could always get what they wanted from Sheldon.
Sandy let out a few incoherent howls through clenched lips as she cautiously rose to her feet not sure of what was yet in store for her. Her mute rejection was enough for Sheldon. He turned to the clerk who had been watching through the beaded curtain and gave him a farewell acknowledgment with the shake of a finger. Then proudly puffing out his chest for the street people he stepped out into the dim damp gloom of Grant St. and sauntered away humming ‘White Port and Lemon Juice.’
Sandy stumbled out on shaky legs turning back toward Telegraph Court leaning on the wall for support. Although she could not see them, the White boys slipped unobtrusively back into their holes while the faces in the windows slid back into the shadows.
Sandy’s life irrelevant of subsequent events was shattered. Her sense of purity and personal integrity was gone to be replaced by a sense of defilement and consuming guilt as though she had been the perpetrator rather than the victim. A knowledgeable psychiatrist might have been able to help her if she had gone immediately, but probably not for she would have been unable even to tell him the sequence of events. She couldn’t remember what happened even though she knew what had happened.
Angelo Toretti spoke quietly to Bert Tyler from behind a cracked open door as Tyler walked from the bus stop on Columbus to his apartment.
‘You better watch that little filly of yours, man. she’s got eyes for that dark meat.’
‘What?’ Tyler said, turning in the direction of the voice.
‘Ask her who Sheldon Washington is.’ Toretti said with a low chuckle pushing the door shut.
Tyler was possessed of honky cool. He had no idea of what the threatening words of Toretti meant. He was mildly apprehensive. He gripped his brief case more tightly but he continued on at his normal pace.
He fund Sandy lying on her back, skirt above her waist, with tears streaming down her cheeks.
‘What did you do?’ He began oblivious to the implied condemnation in his words.
Sandy’s response was to increase her sobs and sense of humiliation to the point where her slender body was so wracked by shaking and pain that it is a wonder she survived.
Tyler was twenty-two, born in ’42. He had grown up in the bosom of a prosperous family. He had been taught that the world was his oyster. Raised in his upper class neighborhood, he had been advantaged from the cradle to the present. At six feet, sandy haired and handsome he had received favored treatment through high school and the U.ofO. While his manners were too fine for his present neighborhood they were much appreciated at the office.
His marriage to Sandy had seemed a perfect blending of family, looks and brilliant future. But beneath the handsom exterior Tyler had a rotten core. He was self-centered to the point that he was contemptuous of others. This included Sandy. She was desirable to him as a showpiece that demonstrated to the world his impeccable good taste and good fortune. He was not prepared to drag damaged goods around with him.
He should have known that North Beach was no place for a respectable woman. But because of his favored youth he thought himself and his possessions beyond the reach of the arrows of fortune. In college he had used marijuana, LSD and barbituates along with the ever present examination companion, amphetamines. As he thought himself beyond, or rather, above the dangers that drugs posed, so many of his class did, he had been fearless in their use.
It is probable that Sandy would never have taken drugs on her own but as Tyler was the guardian of her virtue she had followed his lead trustingly. She still considered the drugs naughty and dangerous but she was already familiar with pot, LSD and downers. Living dangerously, out on the edge, had been the attraction of North Beach to Tyler.
Now that he had reaped the fruit of his daring he stood staring down at Sandy. He was unfeeling and obtuse. He sensed that his position had been violated, he believed he had been humiliated. He wasn’t far wrong.
Remembering Toretti’s words his narrow vision could only conceive that he had almost walked in on Sandy and Sheldon and that whe was sobbing because she had almost been caught.
‘Who is Sheldon Washington?’ He asked.
The question was greeted by additional shaking and sobbing. Tyler had to make an effort to calm his wife. It was not easy. Several hours later, well into the morning Tyler had gleaned the notion that Sheldon Washington had had his wife. His first thought as a red blooded American boy was to go looking for Sheldon Washington. He did so the following day having called in to work sick.
His queries after Sheldon alerted the Spade Cat that the Honky Cat was looking for him. He arranged to be found. He ensconced himself in an alley on Montague Street. There with some white junkies for effect, a couple of Black hepcats around him, he sat on a garbage can waiting.
Tyler was directed to Sheldon’s throne room. He marched resolutely into the alley. As he entered Sheldon rose, hitched up his pants and flexed both arms as though he were stretching. Both his Black confederates cleaned their nails with switchblades. The White boys stood around snuffling and grinning.
‘I hear you lookin’ for me, boy. Whachoo want?’
This was urban warfare for which Tyler was unprepared. This was not a man to man confrontation which, given the size of Washington he would not have undertaken anyway, but was rather a confrontation of the big battalions against his puny one. A quick vision of himself lying face-up beaten, cut and bleeding among the garbage cans flashed before his eyes. He opted out. He turned and walked away amidst chuckles, laughter and catcalls.
Nor should he be blamed. The rules had been changed. Tyler had not been informed. His only recourse would have been to stalk Washington and blow his brains out. This was not feasible to Tyler in his present state of mind. While Washington’s position in North Beach society protected him from identification, there would be no witness come forward to identify him in the event of a complaint, Tyler would be quickly identified. A jail cell was waiting for him if he tried.
Unable to endure the humiliation to his wife and his own subsequent humiliation Tyler transferred the blame to Sandy. Then by shedding her he was able in his mind to shed the double humiliation. At least he thought he had.
‘Did that nigger actually put his dick in you?’ He brutally asked Sandy.
While White boys profess a complete lack of prejudice toward Black Folk, this is only in the social sense. In 1964 Tyler couldn’t endure the idea that his wife had been penetrated by a Black man qua Black man.
‘I didn’t do it, honey.’ Sandy protested weakly.
‘All I want to know is wether he put that black dick up you?’
‘I- I think so.’ Sandy replied, her mind reeling beneath the horror of the thought of her rape.
‘I think so! I think so! God, you must know that. I think so! Well, that’s good enough for me. He did. Well, I can’t stay with a woman who’s been defiled by a nigger. I’m leaving. The rent’s paid till the end of the month then you’re on your own. My lawyer will send the papers by. I think so!’
Thus life pitilessly took away Sandy Tyler’s hopes and joys. She became the victim of social forces of which she was not even aware of in their true form. She had been lied to by society. The American Dream! What a pack of lies. Shamed beyond psychological recognition she didn’t inform her parents. A stranger in San Francisco she drifted into the drugs and demi-monde of North Beach.
She avoided heroin and actual prostitution but she was heavy into barbiturates and marijuana. The leering immigrant descendants gleefully passed the Anglo girl from man to man; gleefully taking out the frustrations of sixty years of humiliation at the hands of Anglos on Sandy’s body.
The Scene shifted from North Beach to the Haight-Ashbury; from the Beatniks to the Hippies; from Cal Tjader to the Grateful Dead; from junk to junk.
The Hippie Movement was the realization of the materialism that Kerrouac and Ginsberg had been pushing. History may to a very accurate extent be characterized as the war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. The ascendance to spiritual perfection being the direction of the Sons of Light while the Sons of Darkness seek a return to the pure materialism of the untutored savage, the feral nature of man. Materialism is as much a religion as spirituality but over the course of time all visible churches became of the spiritual kind.
Because of Jewish opposition to the presence of Christianity in public schools the doctrine of the separation of church and state has been interpreted to mean that no spiritual beliefs can be taught in public schools. This means in practice that no positive ethics can be taught.
Thus while all eyes are trained on Catholics and Protestants for violations of the doctrine the Jews under the guise of preaching tolerance push their program through the schools. At the same time the materialists have a free hand preaching materialism as no one understands its nature as the religion of the Sons of Darkness.
Under the guise of helping the young student understand his sexual nature, courses, which are religious in intent, on ‘Human Sexuality’, undermine spiritualist precepts. Spiritualists reject the indiscriminate indulgence of the senses while materialists embrace it.
Thus one has the concept of ‘the varieties of sexual experience.’ These include everything from homosexuality to child molestation. All forms of sexual expression are considered legitimate expressions of ‘human needs.’
So, while those who preach self-control in order to create a better world are silenced in the name of ‘freedom’, the classrooms are turned over to materialists who seek to make life hell on earth. Women are prostituted and men perverted in the name of ‘sexual freedom.’
The media, movies and TV in particular have been taken over by the materialists who exclude spiritualists from employment in those industries. Black list. On Big Screen and Small Screen they preach total self-indulgence at the expense of all other people.
As a consequence crime and illiteracy increase geometrically. The poor befuddled citizenry talk of ‘wars on crime’ which will never succeed as long as materialism is the dominant religion. Take the religion of materialism out of the schools and replace it with a spiritualist doctrine seeking the curbing of self-indulgence. Then crime will diminish. The war is not a war on crime but a war of moral attitudes. The war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.
Needless to say, crime will never disappear. Crime and criminals have existed since the dawn of time. Even then the war of the Sons of Light and Darkness commenced. Anglo-Americans were governed by the Chivalric notion of Shame. Not that they didn’t commit crimes but the sense of shame forced them to repent or move out of society. During the great period of European immigration Jews opposed the notion of Shame with that of Chutzpah. Chutzpah can be defined as simply the shameless attempt to achieve one’s desires against the will of others by surprising them with extravagant audacity. If bold enough you may overwhelm their opposition, if not, oh well, you can always ‘apologize.’
Leaving Kerrouac aside for the moment, William S. Burroughs lived in New York City. NYC has been described as ‘that great factory of criminals.’ The description has been given with good reason. For the city was invaded by the post-Great Revolution society of criminals organized around the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade. Crime has a philosophical basis in the modern world. ‘Ending poverty’ would have no effect on crime. It is not just a matter of illegal activity to satisfy one’s needs. Burroughs combined this criminal philosophy with the docrines of anarchy which were also prevalent in the Big Apple. Burroughs’ doctrine leads to complete oblivion. In form he continues the Jewish Chutzpah by which he was definitely influenced, as NYC is, or was, a Jewish city, into the equation of: Wouldn’t you?
I mean, he asks, wouldn’t you kill a little old lady and take her purse if you needed money for a heroin habit. Wouldn’t you? Who wouldn’t? Of course you would if you were a heroin addict, as Burroughs was, needing a fix. Thus Burroughs in ‘Naked Lunch’ brought the definition of morality down to what the individual needs at any given moment. If you felt the need the for sex wouldn’t you rape an eight year old girl. Who wouldn’t? It was inconceivable to Burroughs that anyone wouldn’t. If one said one wouldn’t then the logic is that your need wasn’t great enough or you would. Who wouldn’t? Thus Burroughs propounded a very destructive version of the materialistic religion of the Sons of Darkness.
Like syphilis the first outburst of the disease was evident in the Hippie movement on Haight-Ashbury. The sores have disappeared but Burroughs’ philosophy has been spread throughout the social system. The deteriorization of mankind was very noticeable by the late seventies to the artistic temperament. At that time a rock band by the name of Devo made the point perfectly clear. They asked the musical question: Are we not men? and answered it: No! We are Devo. The point being that mankind had stopped evolving and was retrogressing into devolution. Devo hit the nail on the head. Materialism was rapidly destroying the fabric of society. We were, in fact, returning to our savage origins. J.G. Frazer’s ‘civilized veneer’ was wearing off. Or as W.B. Yeats put it: And what rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born? The hippies embraced Wouldn’t You wholeheartedly. They took to drugs like an alcoholic to drink. Drugs are the antithesis of morality. Lying and stealing become one’s nature. A druggie’s word isn’t worth a broken syringe.
Sandy drifted into this environment as she moved over to the Haight-Ashbury. Now, she came from a strong Episcopalian background. She had an affluent past. The Hippies bubbled up from the urban depths. They had no strong anything except for the desire to get, to exploit. As drug addicts they had no chance of succeeding at anything but total failure. They succeeded at that. The worst weren’t even human.
Sandy moved from crash pad to crash pad as soon as the toilets filled up and wouldn’t flush anymore. Filthy rooms filled with filthy mattresses and filthy people. Toilets stopped up overflowing with excrement. As there were no sexual barriers or restraints she was used by any derelict passing through. She deadened her sensitivities by pretending to revel in the ‘new freedom.’ Drugs and music were exhilarating accessories. They could turn night to day, black to white.
But the Hippie scene with no other ethic than sex and drugs and Rock and Roll continued to deteriorate. Unbridled sex with anyone and anything was the norm. There were no limits. Homosexuality forced itself into the breach as legitimate. Then as the Disco music of the homosexuals came to dominate in 1977-78, Rock music died on the vine. Without the impetus of music Sandy looked around to find nothing but barrenness.
Somehow, through the years of degradation she had clung to the ghost of the vision of her past. No matter what clothes she wore she wore them with a certain stylishness that betokened a nearly forgotten pride. She had never abandoned her bourgeois dreams. Now looking over the wreck of Haight-Ashbury her thoughts turned to rehabilitating herself. As this was impossible in San Francisco she thought to find a refuge in some other part of the country. Her rape by Sheldon Washington was never out of her mind. She had had other unpleasant experiences with Black men so she looked for a place where she thought there wouldn’t be any. For this reason she selected the Mormon capitol because of their alleged aversion to Blacks. So she had moved to Salt Lake City in the late seventies. The Mormons are an exclusive people, they don’t take kindly to non-Mormons in their midst. Sandy once again found herself an outsider. Rather than kicking drugs as had been her intent she continued to find solace in them.
During all this time Sheldon Washington prospered. He had prospered with a clear conscience. He even considered himself a benevolent figure in the community, which, compared to some others in his line, he was. Sheldon considered that he as a Black man was only getting back the Black Folk’s own. ‘As ye sow so shall ye reap.’ he was fond of saying, referring to White Folks. True. You must be careful of the seeds you sow. Whether Sheldon was merely reclaiming his own is left to subtler minds than mine. Sheldon was strewing his own field with the seeds of hatred no matter how justified he felt. His victims were not the White Folk that may have oppressed his ancestors they were living people.
Shortly after Sandy left town a junky with sandy hair and very dark glasses began showing up in North Beach. At least he had the appearance of a junkie. He quickly made the connection with Sheldon Washington for his heroin.
Over a few weeks Sheldon accepted him as just another junkie who had been around forever. He abused him as he did all his junkies. On this particular occasion Sheldon made appointments with this junkie failing to keep each. Someone at each assignation point directed the junkie on to the next. The junkie resignedly went from place to place. He was finally directed to go the alley off Montague. The junkie took longer to get there than he might have for he stopped off at his pad first.
As he turned into the alley Sheldon sat alone on a garbage can. The Black confederates were gone. The White junkies were out of sight. As the junkie approached, Sheldon observed that his walk was rather stiff but as he was a junkie, what was new? The reason the junkie’s walk was stiff was because a crowbar was suspended from his belt down his left pants leg. A revolver was stuck in his belt beneath his moth eaten sweater. His eyes glowed hatred beneath his very dark glasses. He was not really a junkie; he was an impostor.
Like a junkie he had his money ready in his hand. He thrust it at Sheldon holding out his other hand for the baloon.
‘Not so fast, my man, not so fast.’ Sheldon said. ‘I mean, man, like man, money ain’t everything. I mean, I am the most important man in your life. I want you to acknowledge that.’
The junkie shrugged indicating: What?
Sheldon unzipped his fly flopping his member out. He looked at the junkie emitting only a low chuckle. The junkie understood. He began to go down on one knee. His right hand moved beneath his sweater. Sheldon had just time to focus on the hole in the blue-black barrel before his brains flew out to mingle with the rest of the garbage.
The junkie unbuckled Sheldon’s pants and pulled them down rolling the huge inert form unto its stomach as he did so. Removing the crowbar from his pants he rammed it far up Sheldon’s ass until the tip rested just below Sheldon’s heart. Throwing the shades aside and discarding the moth eaten sweater he walked out of the alley and was never seen in North Beach again.
The police were baffled but unconcerned. After all Sheldon hadn’t really been murdered. He was dead but he was only a casualty in the urban warfare. Only another soldier who had given his life for the cause. A casualty in that urban warfare that raged beyond police jurisdiction and control. A warfare that was beyond the law; one that operated on laws of its own. All that can be said is that he who lives by the rod dies by the rod.
All across the universe the stars stayed the clacking dice of Magic Sam in his hand to look down on such insanity and say: They ain’t nothing but a heartache and you know they’ll never get over it. Then, with a shrug, they returned to their games. Roll the dice with a sound like thunder.
The junkie, his own heart broken beyond repair blew a kiss from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. Just another boogie in The Land Of A Thousand Dances.
Sandy watched Donn as he came up the street. She recognized someone, who like her, had lost his place in the world. A hope sprang up in her breast, she was beyond being able to think, that perhaps he and she might find comfort in each other reclaiming in some small degree their place in the world.
‘Hi there. What are you doing?’
Donn paused to appraise her. He recognized that about her that spoke of a declassee. As he had no interest in women he attempted to dismiss her.
‘I’m going to get something to eat.’ He said brusquely.
Undaunted Sandy said: ‘Oh, I know all the good places. I’ll take you there.’ She said clasping his hand impusively, leading him away.
Donn could no longer go to the type of restaurant he favored. He thought that perhaps Sandy knew of some hippie hangouts where the food would be filling and maybe passable. He allowed himself to be led away.
They walked for several blocks. Sandy babbled on along the way hoping to win Donn over. A strip mall hove in sight. There was an Albertson’s grocery store at one end. Donn spotted a restaurant in the middle of the mall. When they reached the corner of the Albertson’s Donn began to continue down the front but Sandy pulled him along the side and toward the back. Donn was confused but thought Sandy was aware of another entrance.
When they reached the back Sandy pointed proudly at the dumpster and said: See.
Donn looked at the huge garbage can puzzled.
‘See what?’ He asked Sandy who was still holding his hand.
‘Well, see,’ She said giving his hand an affectionate squeeze. ‘Nobody ever has to go hungry in America. They throw away tons of good food just because it’s a day or two old. See.’ she said, grabbing at some limp brownish lettuce, ‘This lettuce is perfectly good to eat. It’s just a little old. And it’s free, it doesn’t cost anything.’
‘All kinds of places are this stupid. If you want I’ll take to Cheesy Burgers later. At midnight they throw out all the burgers they’ve prepared but haven’t sold. Wrapped and everything. We’ll have to get there early though because everyone wants those.’
Donn listened incredulously, rudely pulling back his hand. He wasn’t familiar with underground ‘survival’ techniques. He wasn’t aware that Abbie Hoffmen had published a whole book full of ideas and scams, all as good as this one. But he was not yet so low that he would search through garbage cans for food.
‘God, that’s absolutely disgusting.’ He said.
‘No, it’s not. Everybody does it.’ Sandy replied speaking for her crowd.
‘Well, I don’t eat out of garbage cans and I think anyone who does is absolutely disgusting.’ Donn replied angrily. ‘You! Get away from me, you filthy slut. No, don’t touch me.’ He said brushing away Sandy’s imporing hands which sought to hold his again. ‘Get away.’ He said angrily, turning on his heel.
Sandy’s rejection by Donn was the last thing that it took to bury her poor heart completely out of sight. As she stood in the moonlight she sank beneath the burden of accumulated woes of nearly twenty years. All the crimes perpetrated against her rose up to engulf her sense of decency. Her last shred of worthiness disappeared. The world’s guilt entered her soul as her own. She considered herself evil. She went through life as an empty shell. But she was not Guilty of the Shame. Oh no! It was society’s shame. It was our shame. Repeat aloud: I (insert your name) am Guilty of the Shame.
Donn found his way to the highway East. He found a spot to doze a few hours. Daylight found him alongside US 40. ‘Denver, here I come.’ He whistled, praying for the best. This was not Donn’s moment for the best. He was over a day getting to Fruitland, an interminable number of short rides and long delays. His spirits sank again. He had his thumb out just outside of Fruitland when a fifty-eight Chevy pulled over.
‘Hi! I’m Kirk Douglas Strachan.’ The driver said extending a soft flabby hand. He was wearing a black cowboy hat, had a soft pudgy face with black horn rimmed glasses, black cowboy shirt with white piping and black Can’t Bust ‘Ems over black cowboy boots.
‘Uh, yeah,’ Donn replied, ‘I’m Phil Brown.’
‘Nice to meet you Phil.’ Strachan said eyeing him like a side of beef.
This was about ten o’ clock at night. Strachan was a practiced hand. He got right to the point.
‘Now, Phil, I’m going to tell you how it is,’ he began with the authoritative tone of a movie tough guy, ‘I like men. I’m really a tough guy. Did you get my name, Kirk Douglas Strachan? Kirk Douglas was a movie tough guy.’ he said, overlooking the fact that Kirk Douglas was still alive. ‘My mother wanted me to be tough so she named me after him. I am tough. Now, it’s your choice, you can either live or die. Your second choice is obvious, we don’t have to discuss that. Now, if you want to live you’re coming home with me and you’ll be my sex slave for a week or two. Now, if you’re good at that I’ll reward you by driving you up to Vernal. If you’re not you’ll join the rest of my boyfriends. Got it! Well, get it, my man!’
Donn was staring at him incredulously, his mouth agape. Donn looked at this soft flabby creep wondering where he got the notion he was tough except from his mom. Kirk Douglas Strachan mistook incredulity as a sign of fear. Strachan was a murderous fiend. The ‘boyfriends’ he sarcastically referred to were all buried out in his garden patch beneath the turnips. There were fifteen in all. Some he had just blown away with a shotgun others had died lingering deaths.
Strachan’s mother had named him after Kirk Douglas. Strachan had studied all the actor’s films. Except that he was short, pudgy and effeminate Strachan had his Kirk Douglas act down. He had the same buzzsaw whine that came from the back of his head. He had even had a cleft surgically made in his chin. Needless to say it looked ridiculous with his moon faced pudgy head.
Emboldened by Donn’s open mouthed wonder Strachan continued: ‘Terrific. You’ll have a great time too. Now, I need a down payment right now. See that knoll just up there. I’m going to pull behind it. You’re going to give me a great blow job, then I’ll take you to the ranch.’
‘I was boxing champ three years running at SMU.’ Donn said quietly in the Texas manner brushing imaginary lint from his fly.
Oh, a John Wayne type, huh? Well I’m going to make you get out right here.’ He said skidding to a stop. He pressed a button, the door flew open and Donn sneeringly got out. Strachan copped a U and raced back toward Fruitland. John Wayne trumps Kirk Douglas every time.
Donn dropped his bag, placing his hands on his hips while he looked up and down the dark road.
‘Over here. Hey, buddy, over here.’ A loud booming voice cried from the wilderness.
‘Over here, buddy, I’m over here.’
Donn peered out into the darkness. He could see nothing.
‘Come on. I’ll guide you in.’ The voice cried.
Donn started walking into the darkness. As he stumbled along it seemed to him like he walked on an on.
‘Man, that guy must have a voice like a foghorn.’ He thought.
Then he perceived the glow of a fire.
‘Keep coming. I’m right over here.’ The voice coaxed. ‘All right, all right. If I hadn’t been out taking a leak I would have missed you.’
A hand came out of the darkness grabbed Donn’s hand and shook it.
‘Hi! I’m Dharma Bum.’ Bum said proudly.
‘You can call me Jack.’ Donn said, taken back by Dharma Bum’s strange name.
Bum led him back behind a small rise where a fire burned in the darkness.
‘Dharma Bum?’ Donn asked. ‘Did I hear you right.’
‘Dharma Bum, that’s right.’ Bum replied. ‘I’m out here seeking enlightenment.’
Dharma Bum was quite an apparition in the barren mountain night. He was about six-four high. Thin but not slender. He wore a pair of knee high boots, medium platforms with two and a half inch heels, laced all the way up to his knees fitting over form fitting jeans that gave Bum the appearance almost of walking on stilts. The jeans buttoned with the buttons showing on the outside. A pink, or dusty plum, flowered vest covered a lavender flowered shirt with enormous billowing sleeves. It was an outfit modeled after John Hall of Hall and Oates.
Bum’s face was fleshy, all the features being large. He wasn’t handsome, plain verging on homely, but carried himself with real leading man verve. He was topped by a mane of black hair streaked now with silver combed straight back, en brosse, falling to his shoulders.
He was a child of TV, records and movies. He invariably saw himself as Batman and others as his Robins. He had developed the authoritative way of talking which in the movies leaves the bit actors gasping in astonishment at the sagacity and sheer manliness of the lead. In the same manner Bum tried to impose himself on reality. Reality not being the movies, Bum had been, as it were, rejected by life. He was undaunted; New Day, New Script. As Jim Morrison of the Doors replied when being urged to hurry lest he be too late to catch his flight: ‘You can never be too late for your own movie.’ Whatever happens is in the script.
Besides money wasn’t a real problem for Bum. He just wired home to Dad to pay the card. He was covered for medical and dental care. Unlike most bums, or homeless, he was in excellent health and his teeth were good. He was actually cooking baked beans in the can held over the fire with a forked stick, just like in the movies.
‘I’d offer you some but I wasn’t expecting company.’ He said with an authoritative chuckle indicating that he knew Donn would understand as he reacted to gasps of astonishment from Donn in the theatre of his mind. Bum always played to an SRO audience. Each movement, each word was done and spoken in a stagy manner. Often there was no necessity for a reply. Bum merely waited the appropriate time for the reply in his mental script then continued his next lines. Not infrequently he overrode the speaker or completely ignored, in fact, didn’t hear, the reply.
‘Jack, huh? Jack?’ Bum said with a wink.
‘What?’ Donn said uncertain whether to be apprehensive or puzzled.
Bum had taken his name from Jack Kerrouac’s novel ‘The Dharma Bums.’ He thought Donn was making a sly joke on Bum’s self-introduction.
‘Yeah. Ya know Jack understood me real well. Yeah. Ha, ha. He wrote my life before I even began to live it.’
‘Jack? Jack who? Me?’
‘Jack Kerouac!’ Bum cried incredulously.
‘Jack Kerouac? You mean the guy who wrote ‘On The Road?’ Donn said fishing for the sense as his head swam trying to understand Bum.
‘Oh, ho. You do know Jack then?’ Bum beamed.
‘I read ‘On The Road.” Donn said.
He had read it out of curiosity in college where it had been a life style manual for a certain crowd. He had detested the book. It represented everything he despised. Donn, then as now, wanted the good life, the high life. He didn’t think hanging around with petty grifters and small time thieves in sleazy bars equated the good life. Even if you camouflaged your sleaziness with intellectual pretense.
‘Great book, isn’t it? I read ’em all. That, the Dharma Bums, Desolation Angels, terrific stuff. I just don’t know how he anticipated my life though. Eerie, don’t you think?’
‘Is that how you got the name Dharma Bum?’
‘No. I am Dharma Bum. Jack wrote the book about me.
‘Didn’t Kerouac write it before you hit the road?’ Donn said unpolitically.
‘What the hell you talking about?’ Bum said glaring across the fire suspiciously at Donn. ‘Didn’t I just say Jack wrote my life?’
‘My mistake.’ Donn said wryly, realizing that Bum had only just been beamed down from the saucer.
‘Damn right it is, fella.’ Bum said in his best John Wayne style. Then his face formed a reverie as he began talking. The speech was one he had prepared for the inevitable Time or TV interviewer. He thought they would catch up to him sooner or later to get his story.
‘Yes.’ He began in f0nd reminiscence. ‘I must have crossed this great big beautiful land a hundred times or more. God bless this crazy topsy-turvy unbelievable US of A. Yes, from that fabled Golden Gate of old San Fran to the New York Island, from the tropical shores, actually sub-tropical, he,he, of Key West to the Mesabi iron range up on Lake Superior, I’ve loved it all. My feet have led me to the tops of the highest mountains, and I mean literally, the tops, I’ve been above Cripple Creek, and down into the depths of amazing valleys, my feet have washed in gorge of the Grand Canyon. In one day I’ve been to the top of Mt. Wilson and to the depths of Death Valley, the highest and lowest places in the lower Forty-Eight in one day. I’ve stood with my feet in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Now, what do you think of that?’
He stopped with a big quizzical Will Rogers smile seemingly looking into Donn’s eyes but actually nearly oblivious of his existence. Donn was fearful that this night might go on forever. He cleared his throat loudly speaking piercingly to blow his way into Bum’s consciousness.
‘Why did you start doing this? Why are you out here?’
This was almost the question Bum had scripted for the Time Magazine interviewer. He heard and shifted into second gear.
‘What am I doing out here?’ Bum said with a rueful shake of his head accompanied by several musing snarls. ‘Well, I’ll tell you why I’m out here. I’m a victim of capitalist oppression.’
‘How’s that? Well, let me tell you how the system really works. Or, doesn’t work. Ya know, a guy goes to work for some jerk in good faith, promised that if things work out he’ll be taken care of. He gives the best he’s got, which in my case was pretty damn good, puts in the best period of his life. Then he makes the business big and successful for this jerk. The more money you make for this jerk the more he starts reneging on the deal. Then when he figures he’s got it made and doesn’t need you anymore- Bingo! you’re gone. Oh yeah, I know all about capitalism. Tell that to your readers.
What a jerk the guy is. If you ever run into him dump on him. His name is Dewey Trueman. I’m a Jew you know.’ Bum added with a significant arch to his eyebrows.
A the mention of readers Donn thought that Bum somehow knew who he was, or had been, a music reviewer. The mention of Dewey Trueman threw him off his heels. He was totally mystified.
‘Dewey Trueman?’ Donn said. ‘Where abouts in this great land of ours did this take place?’
‘Out on the coast. Eugene, Oregon.’
‘What does your being a Jew have to do with it?’
‘Huh! Anti-Semitism of course. It’s always the Jew gets it in the neck. Always been that way. Need a scapegoat, get a Jew. I should have known, I suppose.’
‘You say this guy Trueman promised you part of the business?’ Donn asked, his curiosity really aroused.
‘Yeah. That’s right.’ Bum said ruefully.
‘So. What? You worked for him for five or six years then?’ Donn was familiar with Trueman and to some extent his store.
‘Well, it wasn’t quite that long.’
‘How long then?’
‘Well, let’s see.’ Bum began manipulating his fingers and drawing in the dirt. ‘Maybe five or six months.’
‘Months?’ Donn said incredulously.
And well he should have for Bum had created a verstion of the events that completely rewrote the facts.
Bum’s real name was Norm Barsky. He was from St. Louis. he had been brought into Eugene to take possession of the business Dewey Trueman had built up. A record store in Eugene that was very successful. For the size of the city tremendously successful. In a small pond the record store had been a big splash. Trueman was a Hippie. He therefore succeeded against the wishes of the town fathers. A couple attempts had been made to assassinate him. When the last attempt to kill him on the highway by bogus Hell’s Angels had failed the town fathers were at a loss of what to do. At the same time they, or at least Harry Grabstein, realized that the store was a valuable money maker. It should be preserved but put into righteous hands. Grabstein undertook to resolve the matter. He would appropriate or, in other words, steal the business.
So as to evade the appearance of being himself involved he called an acquaintance in St. Louis, Art Barsky. Art’s son Norm, had just finished school at the University of Chicago, was married, new baby, and could use a good income. Norm, wife and child were sent to Eugene to receive his inheritance.
It was not to be expected that Trueman would just hand over his business to Norm so a certain deception and ruse had to be practiced. Norm was schooled by his father while refresher points would be supplied by Harry Grabstein. The method was quite simple and well tried. The only obstacle in the way could be the victim’s character. That was the only variable that couldn’t be controlled. As Grabstein thought Trueman a despicable Hippie with no character he perceived no problem in bringing him down.
One may ask why these Jews thought themselves entitled to another man’s property. The problem was not in the capitalist economic system as Bum sincerely thought but in the Jewish religious system and culture which he would have denied. A quick survey of the three great crucial periods in Jewish history should provide the intellectual justification.
Jewish history is a closed field, permitted only to those who have been properly vetted. As the editor of the Cambridge History of Judaism puts it: But as the study of Judaism is peculiarly open to emotive interests and unconscious influences which make it highly susceptible to hurtful misinterpretations, no effort to get rid of the blinkers of traditions and prejudices may be deemed superfluous.
In other words if you don’t see it their way you have no right to be heard. Nevertheless the truth must be pursued. The objectivity of historical facts cannot be allowed to be skewed to the advantage of one party to the hurt of another. Neither valid history or sociology can be approached in such a manner to obtain preconceived results. Any conclusions are always subject to discussion. Just as the Constitution of the United States decrees the separation of church and state it also decrees absolute freedom of expression whether a subject is peculiarly open to emotive interests or unconscious influences or not.
Messianism is the backbone of the Jewish belief system. The belief is that the natural order of things was overturned when Cain slew Abel. All of history since then has been the promise of God to bring the Jews into their rightful place as arbiters of the nations thereby reversing the decision of history or, reality. The redemption of Israel is the purpose of all ‘History.’ There have been three great periods of redemptive or messianic expectations. On these pivots the Jewish character was formed.
The first great period was from c. 188 BC to 135 AD. The second centered around the messiahship of a man called Sabbatai Zevi in the years around 1640-1700 AD. The third with the Revolution of the Messiah around the years 1913-28. In all three the Jews were brutally disappointed.
As the smaller and weaker portion of the greater society the Jews have always felt abused and suppressed, especially as they believe they are the bearers of the true god. Thus when Israel is redeemed and the roles are reversed all the wealth of the world will belong to the Jews; and the gentiles will be their slaves.
The initial confrontation was begun between the Hellenes and Jews expanding into a war between the entire Greco-Roman world and the Jews. Initially the Jews were successful against the Hellenes. the Roman world proved too much for them. In a series of tremendous wars from 66-70 AD when the Temple was destroyed through the amazing uprising in 116-18 to the final destruction of the Jewish state in the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135 AD, the Jews were all but exterminated. In the hopes of ending the confrontation and destroying the locus of what, by then was the center of perpetual disturbances, Jerusalem was leveled while Jews were forbidden to enter the city.
Thus in the wars which the Jews characterize as anti-Semitic persecution but which were actually a contest for the dominion of the Roman world, redemption for the Jews was postponed, while Rome was prostated.
For approximately 1500 years the Jews longed for the appearance of the true Messiah, both Jesus and Bar Kochba having failed them. After fifteen hundred years of various disasters culminating in the expulsion from Spain and the Cossack rebellion against Poland in 1648 a new Messiah, Sabbatai Zevi appeared in the Asia Minor governed by the Turks. Sabbatai is the pivot of Jewish history. Israel quivered in the expectation of deliverance. As in the 116-18 uprising of the Roman period Europeans from the Pale to England were to be slaughtered. True, the means were lacking but the will was there. Once again the wealth of the world was to accrue to the Jews.
End of II-2. Proceed to II-3 for the continuation.
At this point the story consists of Part One: Disco Donn Does Deep Elum and Part II, clips 1 and 2.