Disco Donn Demands Deliverance
Turkish spies amongst the Jews learned of their Messianic hopes, one hesitates to call them intentions as there was little hope of success. Sabbatai was called to Adrianople where the Sultan resided and there he apostasized to Mohammedanism. He put on the white turban of the Moslems. Thus redemption of Israel was once again placed in the indefinite future. God wasn’t willing to forgive the transgressions of his people just yet.
The future began to take shape in the wake of the great reorganization of society known as the French or Great Revolution. In that great attempt to strike down all racial, national and class barriers the social disabilities of the Jews, at least, were struck down. The Jews were incorporated into the various states as full citizens. This is known by the Jews as the emancipation of the Jews. The difference being a matter of loyalties. The states expected that the Jews would give their undivided loyalty to the appropriate State, much as the Catholics and Protestants did. But the highest loyalty of the Jews remained Israel.
The failure of Zevi had taught the Jews a lesson. They saw the futility of relying on one man as a redeemer. Henceforth the redemption would depend on the whole people. The notion of Redeemer was transferred to the that of the Revolution. Thus the Jews began working toward redemption through a revolution. The Euroamericans gave this new millennial urge the name of the International Jewish Conspiracy.
As the idea took shape in the mind of Israel, the Messiah of the Revolution would come in the years 1913-28. Their plan was revealed time and time again. There were intelligent sociologists in every State that recognized the plan. They were apparently unable to explain the process satisfactorily in the face of Jewish obfuscation. The Jews were able to denounce them as diseased, unbalanced, wacko anti-Semites.
Thus the Jews made great progress during the nineteenth century ending in the seizure of the Russian State and the nearly successful takeover or all central and eastern Europe. Every action creates a reaction which explains the intense reaction throughout the world toward the Jews during the years 1920-46.
Lacking a territorial base or an army the Jews had to work by devious means. The method was early exposed but on the surface is so risible as to appear ridiculous. European sociologists said they were trying to get all the money through Capitalism while seizing control of the labor force by socialism or unionization. No adequate explanation was offered so the sociologists became the butt of jokes.
Several decades later the process is clear. In fact Howard Sachar, a Jewish historian, explains it. Here are two examples. These are pertinent to the story because Norm and Art Barsky attempted the ruse against Dewey Trueman.
IN 1859 the Italians wished to drive the Austrians from Italy. At the time the Rothschilds and other Jewish financiers were at the apex of their success. If they didn’t control the money markets they didn’t miss much. Modern financial methods for raising money by the States did not yet exist so they were dependent on loans from the Jewish financiers. Austria was especially dependent on the Rothschilds for loans.
Thus while dissension was fomented in Italy, the Rothschilds refused to loan money to Austria. With no money above the line the Austrians were unable to deal with dissension below the line. Thus Jews controlled the politics of the situation through finances. The Austrians were forced to retire from Italy. The Jews were able to direct the course of European history to their own advantage unobtrusively from behind the scenes.
The second instance involves the First Russian Revolution. A war between the Jews and the Russian State had been going on for decades. Industrialism had created a proletariat in Russia. Russia was engaged in a contest for Manchuria with the Japanese. The Japanese were unable to pursue their goals for lack of money. A man called Jacob Schiff in the United States raised hundreds of millions of dollars of American money for the Japanese. His efforts were abetted by the Jewish consortium of Europe.
At the same time Schiff and others prevented loans being made to Russia.
With the economic situation under control the Jews fomented strikes and rebellion on the labor front. The result was that the enemy of the Jews, Russia, lost the war with Japan and had to change the structure of the government to placate the Jewish rebels.
This procedure is known as getting the victim between the upper and nether jaws of the vice. Once pinioned the victim can be filed into any shape at leisure.
The Jews of course denied everything and still do. But just as the sociologists saw what was happening so did certain politicians. Jewish history had been well studied by both the Germans and the Russians. They were quite aware that a slaughter of the peoples would follow a Jewish victory as indeed did happen in Russia in the years following 1917. Once again denied although as obvious as the Nazi death camps to anyone who wants to study the period.
Nineteen-seventeen to nineteen-twenty-four or so was the high tide of the redemption period. Success seemed imminent. The reaction however created two very strong personalities in Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
There were many signs that were to proclaim the Redemption. Among them was the notion of Gog and Magog, great cataclysmic armageddons. This prophecy was fulfilled by the two great wars bracketing the twenties and thirties. Hitler’s contention was always that the Jews caused the wars. He was probably correct.
At any rate the Jews believed that they had isolated and surrounded the last great anti-Semite. Stalin’s activities in Russia had not sunk in yet.
In the United States the redemption was in full swing. In 1899 the the founder of Reform Judaism in the United States, Isaac Meyer Wise, had predicted that the redemption would occur within twenty-five years. The massive immigrationof Jews from the Pale gave the Jews an ample power base in the United States. From 1913 to 1945 in a line of politicians from Woodrow Wilson through Al Smith to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Jews created the coalition they hoped to direct. They did attain a position of great influence.
Thus while Hitler and Stalin were tightening the screws on the Jews in Europe, in the United States the Jews were isolating all American nationalists and devout Christians under the names of Facscists and ‘anti-Semites.’ The only serious opposition to their program came from Henry Ford in the twenties. He, in his American naivete, thought he could persuade the Jews to end their historical confrontation with Euroamerican society. He was mistaken. He was isolated and ostracized by his fellow Americans.
There was not much active opposition to the Jews in the United States; after all Americans had always considered themselves neo-Hebrews.
Nevertheless all dissident religious or nationalist voices were identified and isolated in an aggressive program of vilification. In 1943 as Hitler and Stalin were destroying the Jews, those in America were calling for concentration camps to isolate the ‘anti-Semites.’ This is true. In a country that had always prided itself on the separation of church and State the Jews were calling for laws outlawing dissenters from their religious views, or as they called them, anti-Semites.
No one could have foreseen the extermination of Eastern and Central European Jewry. Thus the Revolution as Redeemer failed as disastrously as Bar Kochba in Roman times and Sabbatai Zevi at the end of Medieval times.
In the twenties and thirties the Jews believed that they were to come into their own in ‘America, my home sweet home.’ In the land of plenty, the plenty was to be at their disposal. Everyone else would be their servant or slave. A life of indolence and ease analogous to that enjoyed by the post-war Kuwaitis would be theirs.
Louis Barsky, Art’s father, exulted in the hope. He implanted the expectation in Art who had been born in 1923. Art grew up filled with the hope. He was aquiver with hope as the war against the Axis began. He really believed he would begin that life on V.E. day. The stage was certainly prepared in the United States.
In 1948 the ancient Jewish hope would be realized when the head and tail of Ouroboros were put in place as Israel became a Jewish State.
One can only imagine the horror of the realization that the main body of the Ouroboros was crushed in Germany and the East. Redemption had failed yet again. The Revolution as Messiah was a bust.
Art Barsky looked out on the world through tears of bitterness. There was no life of ease for him. He would have to work for a living unable to enjoy the plenty that he thought was rightfully his. He had to work. Oh, he did well enough. He made a lot of money selling women’s nylon stockings. But every year his bitterness and rage mounted. He had his son Norman, the young lord. Norm had graduated from college, married and fathered his own son in one fell swoop.
Art had communicated his and Louis’ attitude to Norm. But there seemed no way for Norm to realize his heritage. Thus when Harry Grabstein called Art with his proposition concerning Dewey Trueman it was a godsend.
Norm was briefed and sent West with his shiksa and child to claim his inheritance. As Trueman didn’t realize that his business rightfully belonged to Norm some deception was required.
Getting hired was no problem. Retail sales is an entry level position for high school dropouts and malcontents who can’t hold a job elsewhere. Record stores in general draw the dreamy types, separated and withdrawn from objective reality. As the term then was- spaced out.
The recorded word has a tremendous appeal to them. It is as though the voice of god speaks from the groove. A standard story was of the guy who dropped a couple hits of acid, turned Black Sabbath’s album ‘Paranoid’ up to ten and saw god.
The bands and singers were certainly thought of as oracles or prophets, super prescient people who understood the whole of the entire. Thus singers told them truth directly. Spoke to them through their stereos. Ras le bol was one of the primary messages- screw it all. Consequently these people didn’t stay on the job too long while they did as little work as possible while there. Getting to work on time? Who would buy that load of bullshit?
Thus Norm, wearing the same outfit as in the mountains except that he had the de rigeur leather jacket of the times instead of the flowering vest and shirt, presented himself for employment. He literally burst noisily into the store. He asked for a job letting it be known that he wouldn’t take no for an answer. If Trueman hadn’t had an opening at the time he soon would have. Norm Barsky presented a bizarre persona but it was a time of bizarre personas. Trueman was curious as to his story.
Norm had more ambition than the listless drifting types Trueman normally saw. He wasn’t creative but told what to do and how to do it he was capable of not only doing it one time but being able to repeat the action without repeated istruction.
He quickly acquired greater responsibility, soon becoming Dewey Trueman’s manager. This was all done within two months. Things move fast in the the record business. Tomorrow will soon be yesterday. Sell them hits while they’re hot.
Norm had began to organize the employees around himself and against Dewey as soon as he had been hired. In fact he had the floor functioning smoothly for nearly the first time in the store’s history. Trueman himself handled the buying and all the other chores but was unable to supervise the floor full time. He was pleased with Norm’s performance.
At the same time he noticed the alienation of the personnel from himself as Norm sought their loyalty. When he became manager he could speak with the authority of ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it with Dewey.’ Thus as the store was actually his in his own mind he began to give liberties to the crew. He allowed them to take records home gratis. He gave Rolfe Kusinen money from the till to buy, or rather, upgrade, as it was known, his new stereo system. Then, as Rolfe’s old records were scratched he allowed him to bring them back and exhange them for new records. Norm backed his car up to the back door and loaded a few boxes in to pick up some pocket ‘change.’ Nor did he think he was stealing. In his mind he already owned the store, Trueman was working for him. Stealth was necessary because Trueman was not yet aware of the new arrangement.
Norm quietly nudged aside Trueman’s influence with the sales reps. He represented his assumption of power as an accomplished fact but urged them to keep it quiet as Trueman was sensitive to the fact.
By early November he believed he was in the position for a takeover or, as he expressed it, ‘a palace revolution.’
He told Dewey that his father was coming to town and that as, next to his father, he admired Dewey most of all he would like Dewey to meet his father.
Thus as the nether jaw of the vice was prepared the upper jaw would hopefully soon be screwed down. Dewey, by this time, was aware that Norm’s facade concealed some misdoings. Intimations of difficultes were coming from both the floor and from the sales reps. While nothing was said, different attitudes were projected. He was beginning to have real difficulties adapting himself to the role of ‘Norm’s ’employee’ which role Norm unconsciously assumed.
Out of consideration to Norm he agreed to meet his father. They met over lunch at the Willametter River Inn. Norm and Art arranged a late lunch so as to be undisturbed by other diners. They sat in the far corner looking out over the river. Dewey had his back to the restaurant. Harry Grabstein drifted in to watch from an obscure position.
Art Barsky now fifty was an embittered man. Being a salesman is one of the toughest jobs in America. One’s manhood and dignity are constantly being insulted. There is no attitude except complete servility that will protect you from the slings and arrows. If you’re completely servile you’re a failure as a salesman.
Art Barsky had taken refuge in a carney’s attitude. He viewed his customers as stupid suckers while he was a wise manipulator. The attitude meshed neatly with his disappointment in the failure of the Redemption. His attitude was beginning to interfere with his salesmanship. His best years were behind him.
The face he presented to Trueman was quite similar to Lee J. Cobb in ‘Death Of A Salesman.’ Trueman had an intuitive dislike of the man. He also now understood Norm Barsky better.
Art began by talking down to Dewey. Trueman responded coolly and laughingly showing his contempt for Art. Barsky was not subtle enough to pick up on it. Besides the script was already written. All Trueman had to do was act his part. Thus Art very nearly waived aside any civilities getting straight to the point.
‘I’ve got to have my boy here established.’ He said bluntly.
‘Well, if has to quit…’ Dewey began.
‘No, not quit.’ Art sort of bellowed. ‘But I can’t have him just working for you.’
‘Well, if has to quit…’ Dewey began again.
‘No. Not quit.’ Barsky interrupted again. ‘The way I see it is he’s indispensable; you can’t get along without him. He needs something of a permanent nature.’
‘Well, if he has to quit…’ Trueman began a third time.
‘No! Not quit, damn you.’ Barsky blundered on oblivious to objective reality. ‘If he’s going to make your business for you he should have an interest. Say, one half…’
Dewey stared in disbelief. Norm, who had been watching him intently took the look for one of fear and acquiescence. Dewey wasn’t an actor in their movie but they didn’t realize it. Norm kicked his father under the table to indicate they were on the right track.
Trueman took Barsky for a fool. His expression turned to a sardonic smile as he tittered a little laugh.
‘Oh yeah? What kind of deal do you have in mind?’ He asked curiously.
‘Well we figure the business is worth ten thou but we also figure we’ll really make it boom with our expertise. We’re Jews you know. We don’t want you to be unhappy so we’ll give you a bonus making the business worth twenty-five thou but you’re going to have to take a salary cut. Maybe half.’
Dewey couldn’t believe his ears. He valued the business highly perhaps exaggerating its worth but he wouldn’t have taken less than two hundred thousand and would have balked at that. He had his own expansion plans based on his own expertise which up to this point had been considerable.
His eyebrow shot up. ‘Twenty-five thousand? Cash or check?’ He said derisively.
Norm’s face lit up. He thought he was in. He reached over and patted Dewey’s arm.
‘We’ll give you a note.’ the Old Con Man barked authoritatively.
Dewey involuntarily blew air through his compressed lips giving the mistaken impression he was giving a bronx cheer. A little spittle got on Art’s face.
‘Well, buddy,’ Dewey began derisively, ‘why don’t I just give you an interest? You’re going to give me a note. All that means is that you’ll pay me out of my own profits. Since I’ve already got a hundred per cent of them do you really think I’ll settle for half and lose my salary by half at the same time?’
Art stared at him viciously. The audacity of this goi to balk a Prince of this Earthly Realm. How long will we have to suffer these indignities he thought bitterly projecting every nuance of his thought into his facial expression.
‘I gotta go now. See you back at the store, Norm.’
The upper jaw of the vice was not to descend. As in the macrocosm so in the microcosm the Redemption was balked.
Norm looked questioningly at his father. His father was stunned. It wasn’t so much that they thought so little of their quarry, Trueman, it was just that like all con men they thought that they were so damned clever.
‘That guy’s a real prick.’ Art exclaimed defensively.
‘I told you so.’ Norm nodded.
Prick or not they had lost the initiative. All they could do was attempt to intimidate Trueman on the labor front; he couldn’t use their ‘captital.’
Once in, of course, they would have used law suits and legal means to harass Trueman. As Grabstein could control the judges, the town fathers wanted Trueman gone anyway, all decisions would have gone against Trueman. Within a year he would have been locked out while the business accrued to Norm and Art for essentially nothing.
The two were victims of their own fantasies. They really believed that Norm was indispensable. They really believed that the success of Trueman’s business was due to Norm. The fact that the business had been a success before Norm got there was disregarded. Such inscrutable obtuseness is scarcely to be believed, yet it is a normal state of affairs.
Art and Norm devised a plan where the entire staff would quit on New Year’s Day. Faced with the loss of the indispensable Norm and his crack crew Trueman would have to capitulate. The palace revolution would be a success. Trueman would have to deal with them on their own terms. In order to get the Indispensable One back he would have to actually give them ownership.
Norm’s ease in manipulating the crew reassured them of his abilities. The Christmas season was begun. This is the worst time for labor troubles in retail. Dewey wanted to fire Norm or, at least get rid of him, but it was the wrong time. He thought that the season might produce a gross of fifty thousand dollars. He decided to tolerate Norm. Norm and the crew, who thought the profit margin was much higher than it was, in the record business of the time the margin was only twenty to twenty-five percent, Dewey was at thirty, thought that Dewey would make ninety thousand or God only knows how much.
Norm encouraged them to think that they were the reason for the store’s success. He pressed Trueman hard for large bonuses.
Trueman, cursed with the orphan’s need to be loved, wanted to do what was right. Like most nouveaux riches he felt guilty about his success. The times were propitious to augment that feeling.
It would appear from the narrative that Trueman was rolling in money but this wasn’t true. He was being driven by a load of debt. He had started with no money at all. He had received no bank loans. The growth had been very rapid. The rate of expansion had him financially against the wall. He was perpetually behind in his bills. He really couldn’t spare the money but he allowed himself to be coerced into giving large bonuses.
Norm took full credit with the crew which, indeed, was his right in this instance. Now convinced that there were millions to be had he guaranteed the crew that he would double their wages if they followed him. They readily consented.
At closing on December 31 Norm delivered his ultimatum; either all wages were to be doubled, his tripled, or they would quite en masse none showing up for work on January second.
The season was behind him. January and February were slow months. Trueman just said goodbye and had the locks changed. he had a new crew by week’s end.
Norm was incredulous. Unbelieving. Actually stunned as though running full tilt into a goal post. But he thought that as he was indispensable Trueman would capitulate and call him back. The fantasies that corrupt one’s mind.
Norm’s failure destroyed his relationship with his shiksa wife. She had been won mainly by by Norm’s tall talk of his abilities and future success. She had been led to believe that she would be moving into Dewey’s mansion on the hill. Now she lost faith in Norm completely. When, two months later, it became apparent that Norm was not going to be called back; she packed her bags and took their son and moved back to LA where she had come from.
Forced to accept reality, Norm’s sense of grandeur prevented him from accepting just a job. Electric vehicles were a big topic then so Norm obtained a loan and opened a lot selling electric motor scooters. Well, an idea whose time had come or not, no one bought them.
The bank called Norm to discuss his lack of payments on the loan. Norm always heeded fantastic solutions to any problem. He had read an article about some guy who had been called in to make good a loan. This guy, so the story went, stared coolly back into the banker’s eye and said: Either you give me time to make the loan good which I will do, or you can have the business and you can’t run it.’ In the story the bank capitulated, the guy made good and everyone laughed about it later. Real chutzpah. I mean, wouldn’t you?
Incredibly Norm tried this act. The banker laughed, foreclosed and threw Norm out into the street. Norm thought he had obtained the loan himself but naturally unbeknownst to him his father had co-signed for it through the good offices of Harry Grabstein. The banker thought he was secure but he was never able to collect from either Art Barsky or Harry Grabstein. So much for high finance in Norm’s life. And for Art the Revolution as Redeemer sank into the sands like the Rhine before the ocean. For him the third great messianic attempt became a sour, bitter, excoriating experience. Goddamn everybody and everything, he thought.
Norm was still the unabashed hero of his own movie. He had not only read ‘On The Road’ but most of Kerouac’s novels. In a college town like Eugene they were especially popular. If he couldn’t succeed in the business world, Norm could succeed as a bum. There is no success like failure and failure is no success at all. Norm could be part of the ‘rucksack revolution.’ He embraced the notion behind Kerouac’s novel: The Dharma Bums. Don’t you just love Kerouac. Norm became Dharma Bum.
Somehow Donn sensed the real story behind Bum’s story of woe in capitalist society. There was that about Bum that bespoke delusional fantasy.
Having finished his beans, Bum rolled himself what he called a splif from what he said was Thai-stick tea. A splif is a Jamaican marijuana joint as big as a cigar; Bum’s spliff was slight larger than a pencil lead. As with the beans he didn’t offer Donn any. As he talked and smoked he unbuttoned his fly. As he had no underwear on his dong flopped right out.
Finishing one ‘spliff’ he rolled himself another.
‘This Thai shit is really potent.’ He said.
‘Let’s see.’ Donn said reaching out his hand.
‘Uh uh.’ Bum said pulling the joint back. ‘I’ve got a different number for you to suck on.’ He said, indicating his penis in his best John Wayneish movie tough guy talk.
Donn just sat there looking at him in wonder. Who does this guy think he is? He thought.
Dharma Bum, in fact, thought he was faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, hold back freight trains by main force. But since he couldn’t find a job as a brain surgeon or bank president because of the stupidity of capitalism he had chosen the life of the wandering mystic. The Holy Bum who though he appeared to be beneath society was actually superior to it.
‘Assume the position.’ He commanded with quiet authority, taking a long toke on his ‘splif.’
Donn looked steadily back and shook his head no.
‘Assume the position, damn it! Bum bellowed.
Donn didn’t move.
‘Don’t try to balk me son-of-a-bitch. Assume the position.’ Bum half commanded, half whined. At the same time he grabbed a stick and began to belabor the sitting Contrales.
Donn leaped to his feet beneath the stinging blows to land a stiff right on Bum’s outhrust chin. Dharma Bum fell to the ground unconscious. He flew over backwards striking his head on an outcrop. He was dead as he settled to the ground.
Donn in his agitation bent over with his hands on his knees to collect his senses. As he did he noticed that Bum didn’t seem to be breathing. Yes, Donn ascertained, Bum was dead. Donn had killed two men in one week. Serial killer. Once again it was self defense, but who would believe him. All of the circumstantial ‘evidence’ would be against him. There would be no one to believe his story. He felt a rising sense of panic, of fear and loathing, as he looked down on the dead body of Dharma Bum.
The outcropping was a ledge between which and the ground, between the upper and nether jaws of the vice as it were, there was a gap almost big enough to admit a man’s body. In frustration and anger Donn grabbed Bum’s body, backing up a couple steps he ran forward thrusting the head and torso into the opening. The body jammed at the chest. Try as he might he could force Bum’s body in no further. Totally frustrated he delivered three sharp kicks to Bum’s dead ass.
‘Back under the rock you crawled out from you goddamned bum.’
Then, as the first light of dawn illuminated the mountain tops Donn dusted himself off as best he could to catch another ride to take him a little further down the road.
In what must have been a reenactment of Cain and Abel, this time when Abel’s blood called out there was no answering voice from heaven. Bum just lay there and rotted until his skeleton was shrouded in flowery rags.
Donn became depressed at the thought of the two killings which he now thought of as murders. He presented a wild disheveled appearance beside the road. Still he got rides but they were short and the duration between them was long. Three days later found him in a gas station on the east side of Graig, Colorado lonely, forlorn and despondent. It wasn’t so much that his head ached or that his body throbbed in pain. Donn was hurting mentally even more.
Donn walked across the lot of the gas station to use the toilet. He entered, washed and shaved. As he was drying off the door opened and a smashing older gent entered. He was tall, lean, athletic looking. He had hair half grey amidst the dark blonde strands. He had one of those long headed chisel faces that represented manly beauty to Donn.
Rather than despising him he gave him a warm smile. Then some small gesture conveyed the message the gent was in the mood. Donn didn’t prefer the catamite role but in his lonely desolation any affirmation of worthiness was enough. He entered the stall followed by the gent.
Wordlessly they went about their business. For some reason, perhaps an unconscious need to be discovered the gent hadn’t latched the door. Suddenly the latrine door burst open as three men, two with cameras and tape recorders rushed in. Donn’s heart stopped.
The latrine doors were forced open as cameras whirred and clicked.
‘Well, Senator, what do we have here?’ The first man sneered.
Donn who believed he was the target was puzzled by being called Senator, then the truth dawned on him.
‘Senator Richard Walker, is this the kind of secret life you lead?’
Donn saw that they were paying him scant attention so scooting across the floor while trying to get his pants up he fled the scene.
He picked up a copy of the Coloradan next afternoon to discover a picture of State Senator Walker pulling up his pants in the toilet of the gas station. Donn was clearly recognizable. Apparently Dick Walker, unable to bear the pressures and humiliations of public life had been relieving his stress in this manner over the past several months. His enemies had finally caught up to him. Not unrelieved, he quietly disappeared from public life.
Donn finally found himself in Denver after the most adventurous trip. He’d had too much adventure. He wanted to be in St. Louis safe as a TV anchorman. Considering that he believed himself a wanted man it hadn’t occurred to him that a major city TV screen was not the best of hiding places.
As bad as Donn was he was no worse than his fellows so that there is no reason not to extend him a little sympathy. Within the context of his society he was suffering grievously for a minor peccadillo. His state of mind was severely darkened by the sequence of events since leaving Portland. He was struggling to keep his mental equilibrium. At odd moments he had to struggle to keep back the tears. His physiognomy increasingly showed the strain he was under. Stress lines appeared where none had been before.
By the time he reached Denver despair of the present and the hope of the TV job in St. Louis, which had now become a fixation in his mind, drove him from the road. He couldn’t take it anymore. The bus or the train would have been cheaper but Donn wanted to get above it all while recapturing for a blissful moment his past glory. He decided to fly.
He spent the night in a motel to rest and cleanup before he went into the airport to buy a ticket. He expected to just walk on. He was somewhat stunned when he was told the price was four hundred dollars. As he stood open mouthed blinking in astonishment the clerk said: But if you wait two days I can sell you a ticket for sixty-eight dollars or a non-refundable ticket for forty-two..
Donn’s motel room was only eighteen dollars. He could stay two days, eat frugally and save a lot. He decided to do that. He foolishly gave the clerk his real name.
He left the airport in a confused state of mind. ‘For a twenty dollar discount they lay claim to the whole fare. What kind of Ever Ever Land dealing is that? How does anybody get away with claiming they get paid for nothing if you don’t show because they gave a discount on nothing?
Something had happened in American thinking; Donn was right about that, but he didn’t know the half of it. He was too troubled in mind to wonder why a walkon ticket should cost four hundred dollars whan an advance reservation dropped down to sixty dollars. How had the airline’s costs been reduced by a two day delay on boarding? Obviously the authorities wished to limit free and unrestricted travel. Most people pay by credit card giving advance notice of who will be on what plane. Although Donn had paid cash he he had given his right name.
Due to the wonders of computerization his name was flagged in a nationwide memory bank. Even though he had done nothing wrong- the charges against his name had been shelved- there were those who wished to know his doings. Thus Maggie, who was watching the flags carefully, picked up Donn’s movement the same afternoon. Donn’s flight originated in Portland. Maggie put a man on board in the seat next to Donn’s. A little spoonful of his excrement was given to the flight attendant to put in Donn’s food along with instructions to be out of whatever his first selection was, whatever he requested they were to give him something else. These games get incredibly petty. Twenty-two years of schooling and you’re still a psychotic moron.
Donn did little the two days but lay around his motel room, rolling about trying to fight his way out of the despondency which was saturating his mind like black ink diffusing through clear water. Everything showed on his face but even looking in the mirror Donn was unable to discern it.
He was too preoccupied to notice the glow of anticipation in Maggie’s man, Wally Reid’s eyes. Reid was there to fid out Donn’s plans and torment him.
Donn didn’t want to talk but Reid amiably persisted. Beyond the fact that he was bound for St. Louis Reid got nowhere. As Donn despised airline food he declined his tray foiling Maggie’s plan of special nutrition. Maggie correctly thought that Donn thought he was a fugitive from justice so he had Reid tell stories of fugitives being betrayed by some inconsequential quirk and caught. He even explained the flagging system to Donn.
By the time the plane landed Donn was aquiver with anxiety. He expected to be arrested when he disembarked. When he wasn’t he half dismissed Reid’s chatter, while making plans for job hunting.
Psychology is difficult to account for. Donn had the most sanguine hopes of landing the job as news anchorman. He still hadn’t figured out that anonymity and a TV personality don’t go together. In order to be successful in his job hunt he believed, quite rightly of course, that he would have to make a good appearance. Maintaining the appearance for any length of time would deplete his resources, but counting on landing a job quickly Donn went ahead with style.
He checked into a good hotel, better than he needed, and bought himself a very nice suit, also better than he needed, shirts, shoes and ties. He made appointments for interviews. These were all delayed a couple days to give the stations time to check up on him. The flag came up.
The manager of the first station, who was only a member of the Old Boy network, figured he had enough troubles of his own without adding Donn’s so he declined politely sending Donn on his way. The manager of the second station was a member of both the Jewish and Homosexual networks but not the Old Boy. Maggie got in touch with him. He arranged to be in the studio when Donn was there.
This interview went very smoothly. Wesley Cohn expressed great interest in Donn. He asked him to come back in two days for a screen test. Informed that there would be an opening and he was a very good possibility Donn was delighted. He bounced out of the studio muttering Eureka! under his breath.
Maggie who knew how much Donn had withdrawn from the bank intended to string him along till it was gone. If Maggie hadn’t had contacts at UNB he had his own hacker who could penetrate any system. Imagine passing laws against such things. One might as well pass laws against the sun setting in the West.
Donn showed up for the test. He was actually very good. He had the looks, he projected a confident, affable, knowledgeable image. The studio workers were very impressed. Donn, watching anxiously, was sure they were sincere. He was told to call back in a couple days. Then he was invited to dinner with the manager, the news director and his assistant. They went to the best restaurant in St. Louis. After a friendly, jovial dinner full of many yaks it came time for the bill.
Cohn slapped his pockets a couple times saying: ‘Donn, you know what? I left my wallet at home. Say, Donn, you couldn’t…’
Everyone watched with suppressed mirth as Donn gulped and his face fell. But they were surprised. Donn waxed indignant: ‘You don’t have have an account here? Why at the Daily Assassin, he said giving himself away somewhat, ‘we had accounts at all the best restaurants. We just had to sign for it. That’s the way it’s done in professional circles. That’s how any company that knows does it. Mingo wouldn’t have any problem.’
Mirth fled their faces as they shook their heads and uttered low ‘ummms.’
‘Right. Of course I can sign. I forgot about that.’ Cohn replied.
Out on the street he said: ‘That was a test too, Donn, you’re doing fine. Call you in a couple days.’
Donn’s funds were running low. He could no longer afford to wait. He called the next day to be informed that although he was perfect they were bringing in a Black woman from Detroit. They thought she would give the station the proper social balance.
Well…now Donn was both down and out.
Off The Track
How is it that I have come up to here
And I’m still fallin’
I deplore brutality he said. It’s not efficient. On the other hand prolonged mistreatment, short of physical violence, gives rise, when skillfully applied, to anxiety and a feeling of special guilt.
-William S. Burroughs
Donn now didn’t know which way to turn. He could call his dad down in Waco but that would be truly a last resort, admitting defeat. Besides maybe even his dad would stiff him after the manner in which he had left. Donn was at a loss. He didn’t know why but he got out on the highway heading North through Iowa. Keokuk, Waterloo and up the Mississippi.
Maggie had a man pick him up to learn his plans if possible. He dropped Donn off halfway to Keokuk using his CB to inform Maggie who was about five miles behind. When Maggie sighted Donn he edged to the side of the road forcing Donn to step back. He averted his face as he passed laughing a vengeful laugh.
Donn couldn’t be sure, of course, but there had been no mistaking that gold hair. Donn still hadn’t analyzed the implications of that computer that had sat on his desk. If he had he would have realized that there is no such thing as paranoia in the modern world. It’s all true. Stalking is a way of life.
Hitching a ride in suit clothes and fine shoes is the toughest kind of hitching of all. After all why would a guy who could afford good clothes hitchhike unless he was just godawful cheap? The only reason to hitch is if you’re down and out or in the Service. Donn had a terrible time getting rides. When he did the drivers were all disrespectful. Hence he found himself in Keokuk way out on Johnson St. Road miles from downtown. Everything is always funny when it happens to someone else. Donn had always found stories such as this amusing but now that it was happening to him he lamented the fact that others would have the laugh. Other people elsewhere were having a good chuckle. So life goes on.
Donn oriented himself tothe East and began walking toward the Mississippi. The evening was sultry and warm. Great billowy clouds, white on the edges passing through symphonies of greys sailed proudly across the bright blue sky. The trees and grass shown green. Natural beauties abounded. Donn’s gloomy frame of mind turned all brown and seer.
But a bit of good fortune fell on him. As he trudged up the road he approached the house of Phineas Elonginus Pillbender. Phineas had suffered a terrible childhood. He had been in foster homes and an orphanage. Although life had kicked him about much more severely than he or anyone else deserves he had never given way to self-destructive impulses.
Against all odds he had constructed the type of life he most admired. His spirit was epitomized in the almost surrealistic beauty of his house and grounds. He had an acre and a half, his house standing on a little rise in the middle of the lot. It was painted the strangest color blue, the numerous shutters white. The house sparkled, as he washed it frequently. A white picket fence enclosed his yard. The edges of the pickets were also painted blue. The fence too shone splendidly. The impossibly well kept lawn with the medium sized apple tree caused many a passerby to stop and stare.
A red brick walkway curved up to the house from the mailbox which was painted blue with a little border of flowers across the bottom and Phineas Elonginus Pillbender inscribed in quaint lettering, having a Land of Oz effect.
The driveway leading to the garage was carefully constructed to look natural. The concrete slab was sunk three inches below the surface being carefully graveled and cindered to look rural. Pillbender raked it three times weekly.
He was too perfect for his neighbors. A big gash invariably disfigured his driveway while one or two pickets were always hanging loose. Pillbender left them after having learned he must make at least this concession to his neighbor’s envy. They had no intention of maintaining their property so carefully nor were they about to be made to look sloppy by their own fastidious neighbor.
Farmer Pillbender stood, corncob pipe in the mouth of a face surrounded by an Abe Lincoln beard, in the red brick walkway leading to his front door. His thumbs were stuck in the straps of his overalls. He wasn’t really a farmer, it was a pose he affected. He actually worked as a tool and die maker in town.
He saw Donn Contrales in his fine pants carrying his jacket under his arm coming down the road. Rather than having been embittered by his life experiences Farmer Pillbender was a kindly if brittle man. His workmates called him ‘prickly.’ Like many who had borne a heavier cross than his back could support he passed his burden on to Jesus. He was a serious and good Christian. He often hummed: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our griefs and sins to bear, as he went about his chores.
He mistakenly sized Donn up as a good man who’d gotten a tough break. Pillbender hailed Donn at his gate. After a few minutes palaver he invited Donn in for supper and a bed for the night.
As the outside of Pillbender’s house shone so was the inside glorious. The hardwood floors were radiant. The colonial style early American furniture was immaculately kept. The fire place floor was freshly scrubbed. The grate had been sanded and painted.
As one’s eyes moved up the fireplace front to the mantle a large sign, six feet long, eighteen inches high proclaimed in red, white and blue bunted letters:
F U C K C O M M U N I S M
Above it was a large plain white cross. One knew where Farmer Pillbender stood.
Donn arose the next morning which as hot as an oven, humid as hell, grateful for at least a chance to rinse off and shave. He thanked Farmer Pillbender and took his leave. As the neighbors had seen him enter the house the night before they now stood at their windows or in their yards to look him over. A number of childred stood in the street.
Among them was Billy Treska. Billy was eight. He had been violated by a big neighbor kid a week before. The seduction had been rude, verging on rape, while the subsequent rejection had made him feel contemptible. He was in the throes of emotional distress unable to adjust to his emasculation. The sight of Donn, forlorn and forsaken, awoke feelings of kinship in his tortured mind. As Donn walked by Billy slipped his hand in Donn’s in a love gesture.
Billy didn’t know what he was doing or why. His act was unconscious while his motives were unknown to him. In the way of homosexuality he was seeking affirmation of his worth by seeking a surrogate of the lover who had seduced and rejected him. Donn looked down in shock as he recognized the meaning of the gesture. While Donn had never had an inclination for little boys, now, conscious of his own identity and the eyes of the neighbors about him, he jerked his hand rudely away whereas at another thime he might have been more sympathetic.
Billy, unable to understand his own motives or Donn’s rejections took the move as a further indication of his worthlessness. He was completely shattered and crushed. He ran from Donn howling and crying, causing dismay in the spectators. In later life Billy would end up a curbstone cutie in San Francisco with silicon breasts.
As the boy turned sobbing and ran away the whole scene was misinterpreted by Mrs. Elizabeth Anderson. She believed and would swear that Donn had made an attempt to abduct the boy, possibly for ransom. That Donn was a bum, albeit a well dressed bum with really nice shoes, was proof sufficient.
As Donn walked downtown slowly in the heat Mrs. Anderson tracked him at a distance. As he stood at the corner of Seventh and Main aimlessly plotting his next move, perhaps even getting a job somewhere in town to gather his senses and accumulate a few dollars, Mrs. Anderson with a policeman by the arm pointed him out to the cop saying: ‘That’s him.’
Fearful of being picked up on the charges he thought were pending in Oregon Donn blanched a whiter shade of pale acting extremely guilty. The officer who had nothing on Donn except Mrs. Anderson’s confused story hesitated. As he did so an officious self-righteous townsman announced in a stentorian voice: You better move on.
The police officer and the crowd automatically acquiesced in the sentiment of the speaker. They stepped back to make room for Donn to move on.
Donn’s motor responses were affected by the repetitious humiliations that are impossible to bear with equanimity no matter how cool the victim may appear. Donn moved off not smartly but with a shambling gait. The pavement seemed so uneven that Donn couldn’t raise his feet high enough to keep from scraping over the pavement. As he reached the other side of the street he tripped over the curb and turned to look back at the faces sternly set against him. Unconciously he hunched over, back curved, and with one hand clumsily hitched up his pants, confessing to his feeling of emasculation. He had fallen far but he was still far from the bottom.
As he hitched up the road to Waterloo he realized for the first time that he was penniless. He hadn’t the means to buy a meal; he had no place to sleep but in the jungles with other bums, under overpasses, wherever those off the track congregated. That was pain that Donn couldn’t face. Even though with the proper attitude and his boxing skills he could easily have dominated any such crowd. He could have been King of the Jungles.
Thus Donn avoided those places although he soon learned where they would be.
Maggie had fixed his location. There was a transmitter in the heel of Donn’s spiffy shoes. Thus even as Donn entered a town he was surprised to find that it seemed as though he was expected. It seemed as though everyone knew him already. The police seemed to be waiting for him, members of the various networks were on the forces. Donn was arrested. He was, of course, anxious that the Portland charges would be brought against him. Of course they never were which Donn attributed to good luck. Donn was held overnight and released the next afternoon with the advice that he’d better move on; he’d better keep going.
Thus Donn’s psyche was further impaired as he became familiar with jail cells and the rough jail crowd. He began to wonder what he had done to deserve such cruel treatment. By so doing he made a wrong turn. He should rather have asked who is doing this and why. It should have been obvious to him that he actually was recognized and that someone was stalking him. Instead he took the blame on himself. The notion began to flicker through his mind that perhaps he actually had wronged Maggie by not admitting him on that night.
While his mind toyed with the notion his former life became distant and unrecognizable to him but the memory of which he cherished. As he wandered hungry and friendless he remembered the lesson that Sandy Tyler had taught him. He began scrounging the dumpsters for discarded food. As this was a necessity he didn’t consciously take it seriously but subliminally his whole being revolted at the practice.
Thus one night in Waterloo he was scrounging a Kroger dumpster when an extraordinary thing happened. As he leant over into the dumpster to seize some half rotten bananas it seemed as though his cherished old existence, the real Disco Donn Contrales, slid over his back, down his arms off into the garbage. Donn was astonished, realized he was losing his former self and lunged after it as it disappeared into the bottom of the dumptser.
He upended himself, his torso in the dumpster half immersed in the garbage while his feet threshed the air. The door beside the dumpster opened to reveal the grocery manager.
‘Hey, what you doing there?’ The manager yelled, laughingly attempting to stuff Donn further into the dumpster.
Donn was horrified to be caught scrounging in the dumpster. Claxons went off in his mind at the humiliation. He kicked free scrambling from the dumpster, lettuce and produce spilling off him, his hands clutching the squashed bananas oozing through his fingers.
As he ran it seemed as though his body crusted and cracked apart leaving a smaller replica of Donn running through the night. Then it happened again and yet once more. Thus when Donn stopped running two or three miles down the road while his stature was the same as before, psychologically Donn was a much smaller man. He felt only two feet tall while remaining five-eight. The effect was invisible to all but the discerning eye.
There Donn stood amidst the faint smell of decaying vegetable matter, bits of garbage clinging to his hair and clothes, his hand oozing banana slime. Humiliation and shame engulfed his being. His shame would not allow him to use a service station toilet to clean up; he might have to ask for the key. He cleaned his hands as best he could on some leaves. Then he set out to find some stream in which to clean up.
He was so ashamed, so in shock, that he would no longer walk the highways for fear that someone might offer to pick him up. Instead he sought the railway tracks. Following them he came to a trestle over a small creek. He scrambled down the embankment in hopes of washing the corruption from him.
As chance would have it this was the spot chosen by the Mankato Kid for his resting place for the evening. Just as Donn was about to begin his ablutions a snarling voice cursed at him.
‘Hey, son-of-a-bitch, what do you think you’re doing using my creek. Get the hell out of my face. This my place, my place. Get out!’
Donn turned toward the voice to see a spectral form lurking on the far side of a small fire. The image matched the voice. The form was turned sideways, stooped, its head tossed and bowed like a beaten cur who still had the spirit of resistance in him but had been cruelly taught the futility of expressing it.
Donn was still in the thrall of his experience at the dumpster. His mind was paralyzed. He had not yet begun his rebound from the experience of having lost his former self and feeling so small, perhaps two feet high. He knew that this was no man to intimidate him yet his confidence was gone. Nevertheless he answered bravely, if shakily: ‘This is a free country, buddy, I’ve got just as much right to be here as you.’
‘Free country? Free country is it?’ the Kid roared, or attempted to roar in his snarling defensive manner. ‘Well, you’re full of shit, Jack. Free country is it? I’ll tellyou how free it is. No freer than Nazi Germany. No freer than Communist Russia. We’re just niggers working on the Man’s plantation here. If you’re not born to it they won’t let you have it. Take your ‘free’ country and shove it up your ass.
The only difference between the Nazis and the Commies and us is the style. We just do it different. Here they make you think you’re free but it’s all on credit from the company store. You’re free to work for the company so you can make money for them. Then you have to give all your earnings back to the company store to pay off your credit. Then without money you go into debt with more credit from the company store. That song sure was right: You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.
If you’re man enough to protest they kill you. They shot down the hardrock boys of the WFM (Western Federation of Miners) in Colorado just because they didn’t want to be in debt to the company store. Shot ’em down. Open warfare. Never was nothing like in Germany or Russia. Then just because the Wobblies tried to organize the Stiffs they got really mean. Drove us out of our houses at Holly Grove then turned machine guns on us while we slept in our tents. Burned our wives and children live at Ludlow. And laughed about it, the dirty bastards. Dumped hundreds of miners out in the desert without water at Bigby (Bisbee, Arizona) and told ’em to keep movin’ on, the heartless bastards. All because we wanted a living wage. Free country! Look at what happened to me…
As though reminding himself of what they had done to him the Mankato Kid appeared to see a vision. Anger flooded his heart obscuring his vision. He began punching the air in a violent shadow boxing match. His snarling roar boomed and bleated out: Leave me alone you bastards. Get out of here, go on, get out of here.’
Even if Donn had been himself there would have been no reason to stay but diminished as he felt, reacting to the horrors of the past several weeks more than through fear of the Kid Donn turned and fled. He skipped over the shallow creek on the stepping stones placed there by the bums, or homeless as they are now known.
The Mankato Kid punched away at the air for a few moments before his crazed mind resettled allowing him to sit. There he continued to grumble his compaints into the fire. Unlike so many bums who had never had the stature to make a serious attempt at life the Kid had been seriously wronged.
He actually came from Mankato which is in Minnesota. He was now in his fifties. He had been driven out of Mankato just as he was turning thirty. He had spent all those years circling Mankato, the city of his dreams. He never went further and he never came closer. he never got saner and he never got crazier. He was just shadow boxing his life away.
His parents had been Polish immigrants who had drifted out to Mankato. His father had been a square little man of five-five. His mother had been a big buxom, very good looking woman with peasant manners. They had given birth to the Kid and an older child, a daughter, Mary. As Poles they differed in religion, speech and manners from the Swedish population. In those days Northern immigrants considered the Eastern and Southern European immigrants as Untermenschen. No, that’s not too strong. the attitude was quite similar to the Nazi attitude toward non-Germans. Immigrants were reviled, beaten and chased from pillar to post. They were subject to massive displays of contempt.
When the Kid was twelve his father was bullied into a fight in a bar and killed. Murdered might not be too strong a word although technically he was given the opportunity to defend himself in a fight. Still, he was impeded by the jeering circle of spectators while his Anglo adversary was assisted. His death was termed accidental. No one ever stood trial. Nor was the knife wound in his kidney ever explained or even acknowledged. He was just Polack dirt.
Ballard Quincy, one of the big men in town, sought to solace the Kid’s mother in her distress. She advanced on Quincy with a frying pan, able only to deliver a glancing blow off his retreating shoulder.
Ballard Quincy did not take rejection kindly. Like many of his kind rather than attack her he sought revenge on her children. They became the targets of ‘polite’ society. Mary who was more attractive even than her mother was easily seduced by the boys from the right side of the tracks. She became the school whore.
Efforts were made to train the Kid to think ill of himself. He was offered a dollar a customer to steer them into a house of which Quincy had a rake off in the red light district of Mankato. There he was allowed shots of whiskey. He, as a boy of character, quickly perceived that he had been misled. he abondoned the ‘job’ with a fit of indignation.
The damage had been done. He had been associated with that ‘element.’ He had defamed himself. He fought gallantly to remove the taint, but the best families led by Quincy had irrevocable set their faces against him. He was denied and interfered with all through high school, which he completed. His sister’s reputation was constantly thrown in his face.
But he believed in the myth of America, of Horation Alger, of luck and pluck. He had been taught that life was what you made it and if you didn’t make it you had no one to blame but yourself, if things didn’t go your way it was your own fault. So he kept his chin up, braved the ridicule heaped on him and kept hoping for the main chance such as it was in Mankato. And then it happened. In the post-war years TV came onto the scene. As with any new item business peopled looked at it, decided it wouldn’t last and left the field open to outsiders.
As Henry Kaiser’s cement trucks rolling down the East Bay proudly proclaimed: Find a need and fill it. The Kid saw the need and rushed to fill it. He opened a TV sales and repair shop. He did well. He could see his rise in society. He proceeded to develop an open and generous character. But at the first glimmer of prosperity the better people sprang into action against him. He was slandered, sabotaged and not allowed to prosper. He fought on. Driven out of TV he tried a couple other lines but he was boycotted. No one in that small town would buy from him. Driven half mad by the abuse and injustice he had experienced he took to the road which is where Donn encountered him.
Donn had scrambled up the bank fleeing across country. In his terror he crashed through the brush and across fields. Then tearing wildly through a wood his foot slipped. He tumbled over falling down a slope into a sort of pit or sinkhole. He slid and tumbled down about twenty feet coming to an abrupt stop.
‘Well, good evening.’ Said a mellow voice. ‘Nice of you to drop in.’
In his agitated state of mind the sudden fall into the hole, or rather, head of a ravine, he was completely disoriented. He stumbled about dizzily for some several moments attempting to determine up from down. Finally getting his behind on the ground his eyes peered out in the sky above the narrow rim of the ravine. As he accommodated his senses to his situation all across the universe the stars roared and popped. Had one been able to hear and see the incredible noise and heat of the incandescent firestorms sweeping their surfaces one would have been astounded. As the huge balls of fire hurled incandescent streamers far out into space to be retracted by their gravity with a report sharper than the sharpest report of a whip magnified thousands of times. The released light went spreading through the black oblivion on an endless chase through space. Losing its heat through the eons of space travel, the light from far distant stars now seemed to twinkle merrily as the laughing stars played with Magic Sam’s laughing dice.
The light sped past the bright marigold of the full moon reflecting the light of this system’s solar furnace past the man made debris circling the earth, down past the great mainliners escorting smiling people across the skies eight miles high. The light passed the light planes and birds to penetrate dimly into the hole that Donn and the Roving Gambler were in.
‘Allow me to introduce myself,’ the voice said with exquisite manners and a BBC English accent, ‘I am the Roving Gambler, at your service.’
Donn, still dazed, grunted something that could be taken for a greeting.
‘And you are Donn Contrales.’ The Gambler continued laughingly.
Donn gave a start at the novelty of being recognized by a man he had never seen in a hole he’d never been in before. Involuntarily he began to rise to flee.
‘Oh, no no. No! My goodness. Sit down Donn and let me explain. You are talking to, or rather, listening to a very extraordinary man. You are surprised that I recognize you, yet your picture appeared daily in the Oregon Assassin. I spend much time in libraries pursuing my various studies. While there I leaf through the papers of the whole country plus foreign nations. I have a very good memory for names and faces plus I have fabulous, I might say, total recall. I recognized you immediately even before you ceased that infernal tumbling.’
Donn, mouth open, tongue out stared at the Gambler stupidly. His mind was only beginning to stop swirling. What he saw was the slender (imperially slim, as the Gambler would say) tall figure of a man lounging against a rock before a small fire reading, or at least holding, a newspaper in front of him. He was dressed in cream colored pants, cream colored buccaneer cut shirt with a red and blue paisley ascot. His long rectangular face was surmounted by a wavy shock of blond hair which fell to his shoulders. His high expanse of forehead would have excited envy in those who take such things as indication of nobility. A blond mustache was placed between his fine aquiline nose and lips neither too thin, too thick, too wide or too narrow. In short the Roving Gambler was a strikingly handsome man. As he put it he was one of nature’s noblemen, too good for this world.
The Gambler’s vanity was the source of his discomfort with the world. He came from Virginia where his ancestry could be traced back to the Cavaliers of 1660 in an unbroken line on both father’s and mother’s sides. He had been an outstanding student at the University of Virginia. Thus one might say he had had everything propitious for a great start in life- looks, family, training. Unfortunately for the Gambler he thought because of these assets that he was entitled to a place at the top. Refused the job of bank or corporate presidency fresh out of school he was indignant that if would be required of him to work his way up, albeit from a reasonably good starting point. Consequently, rather than be a ‘peon’ he took to the road immediately after graduation where he had been ever since. He was now fifty-three.
The Gambler was extremely vainglorious and boastful. He delighted in the incongruous. The creation of the juxtaposition of extremes was his joy.
‘Here my boy, would you like a taste of my champagne?’ He said, handing Donn the bottle. ‘Some pate, perhaps? and some caviar?’ He flipped Donn a can of tinned pate, then handed him a ‘biscuit’ covered in caviar. Donn who was quite hungry wolfed everything down.
‘Oh, ha ha, you thought perhaps I was an ordinary bum. No, no, no. Au contraire, mon petit. I am quite an extraordinary bum. You will never see my like again. Once in a million years, my boy, once in a million years. I greet you by name, hmm?
Yes, I solved the riddle of life long ago. You may think you’re talking to a penniless bum. Well, you’re not. I happen to be a very pennied bum. I have thousands- modestly forbids I meantion how many thousands- of dollars in dozens of banks throughout the country. I have a portfolio of stocks and bonds that would excite the envy of many a speculator.
Ah, you stare in disbelief. Well, I’m used to it. All of these bindlestiffs think the same. They have no imagination, no skills, no art. I am gifted. When out of Virginia they refused my due I knew I would be as rich as they and much more free, unbeholden to anyone, as it were, as it is.
My solution was just to demand they give me the money, and so they did. I merely approach and say: Give me money. And they do. I’m extraordinarily successful. You may be sure it’s true when I tell you that in one three day stretch in Chicago I once took in over two thousand dollars. Two thousand, ninety-eight dollars to be exact, forget the small change. I put it all in the bank, of course. One hundred to three hundred dollars a day is normal to me.
I studied the career of Death Valley Scotty and discovered his secret. Hmm? Oh, Scotty was a legend in LA between the wars. He was absent for long stretches then would show up to buy everyone drinks and distribute his largesse. He said he had a secret gold mine in Death Valley that he worked for a stretch then brought his diggings to town. He didn’t worry about money because he said he could always dig up some more.
They tried to follow him to his mine but he always gave them the slip. I reasoned therefore that there was no mine but that Scotty was either a thief or a master panhandler. Rather than being absent in Death Valley, I reasoned, he was off panhandling in some distant city. Probably shaved his beard so no one would recognize him.
Well, between Scotty and The Man With The Twisted Lip I put my act together. I, however, have no interest in distributing largesse. I am not only handsome, as you can see, but I have a genius IQ. When the weather gets cold I haunt all the finest libraries in America. The Houghton, Universities of Michigan and Illinois, Stanford, U.C., Berkeley, occasionally down to Santa Cruz because I like the weather, I don’t want to bore you with a list, suffice it to say that I have pursued my studies in the finest institutions, North, East, South and West.
As you can see I am quite distinguished looking. I have suits of clothes in several cities. With my appearance I can get in…’ While everything the Gambler said was true he perceived a look of bored disbelief on Donn’s face. Actually Donn was still half stunned. the Gambler’s words were just washing over him but the drone of his voice was comforting to him. ‘…anywhere without any difficulty.
I have written the tentative results of my studies down. I have hidden them in unfrequented nooks and crannies. Thus it may be said that my work is in all the best libraries.’
The Gambler was quite serious. He had an inexhaustible line of chatter. He could go on for hours at a stretch whenever he had a chance. But he liked full attention. He now chose a different topic. As Donn was a music reviewer he chose a topic that wowed the homeless in the jungles but was ill suited for the more discriminating intelligence of Donn.
Donn had finished his tin of pate which he flipped into the fire. The Gambler tossed him another.
‘Elvis is not dead, you know.’
‘I had a long conversation with him myself. I can’t tell you where he lives because he obviously wishes to remain incognito. But we had a long chat. He said the pressure was just too great for him. He had to excape. He told me some interesting details you won’t hear anywhere else, Donn. Of course in the beginning he was only interested in getting girls. But then when he began to get famous he enjoyed that. When the money began to really flow in he was ecstatic. But his success was too far beyond his ability to cope, perhaps anyone’s. He became the first great postwar folk hero. Something like the movie stars of the first decade of the talkies. Genuine stars, not hyped into prominence. But, you see, he hadn’t been vetted. He didn’t perform in a manner acceptable to the arbiters of culture. He was raw. He dressed atrociously by their standards. He was, in fact, no better than a White nigger.
As such he wasn’t supposed to have money. But he got quite a lot, actually. More than most of them. As a cultural icon he stood far above the actual power brokers of the world both straight and criminal. They couldn’t stand that. They tried to to kill his career by putting him in the Army. Regardless of their denials it was a political move. The resulting publicity campaign by RCA in order to preserve its investment against their machinations made him Elvis Presley, the singer, into the pop icon, Elvis. We’ll probably never know exactly how Colonel Parker fit in there, Elvis doesn’t. He became not only bigger than life but bigger than fantasy.
He said he was in constant fear of his life. He couldn’t go anywhere, certainly not without bodyguards. He became it was as though, he told me, that he was under house arrest. The fruits of his talent and success turned to ashes in his mouth.’
The Gambler, who had been speaking from behind his paper now lowered it for a dramatic effect as he came to his most thrilling revelation of what ‘Elvis said.’ Donn, at about this time began to regain his mental composure so that he actually heard what the Gambler was saying.
‘But this wasn’t enough for them, Elvis told me. They wanted more. They wanted to humiliate him completely, to emasculate him, to render him sterile, neutered. What did they do? They offered him, or at least Colonel Parker, large sums to perform in Las Vegas. On their home turf they could get away with anything.
Up to that time Elvis had been disciplined and under self-control. He was relatively blithe, youthful and slim. After that his personality disintegrated.
He told me that he was invited to the master suite. As he was Elvis, commanding a large sum to make them even larger sums, he assumed that they only wanted to meet him. That was fine with him. As a boy from humble origins he was proud to meet them as equals, nay, even as a superior.
He said that when he entered he was greeted by the cold derogatory stares of five angry men. Three were big time criminals, one was a famous show biz personality, singer, and one was a very well known conservative politician. I can’t tell you his name because if word got out my life wouldn’t be worth a blind man’s view of Mt. Rushmore.
Elvis was taken aback immediately when the toughest customer behind his dark sunglasses greeted him with a venomous: Hello. Big Shot.
Well, as Elvis said, he was quite taken back by the hostile reception. As he looked from face to face the expressions were hard, harder and hardest. Now, Elvis came from the humblest circumstances. Having been denied power as a youth he sought to conquer by love rather than force. He thought since he, as he expressed it, was going to make these men lots and lots of money they would value him accordingly. He was shocked to find that they viewed themselves as masters and himself as a plantation slave; someone to toil for them and be abused.
“So you think you’re really something, hey?” The criminal continued. “Well, I got news for you, sonny boy. You ain’t nothin’ to us. There’s dozens more where you came from. We can manufacture a dozen a day. There’s dozens more where you came from. There’ll be dozens more after you’re gone. You’re the dogshit I scrape from my shoes. What have you ever done but shake your pelvis? Nothin’. You ain’t never built a magnificent club like this. You never had to meet a payroll in your life. You never had to knife or be knifed. You’re nothin’ but a puke assed kid in diapers. We give you money you couldn’t earn any other way. We earn it. We did the work. Without this club you wouldn’t have anyplace to shake your ass. We, all of us, are men who fought and clawed to get where we are. You’re a pansy. All you’ve ever done is get up on stage show ’em your blue suede shoes and shake your skinny ass. Elvis the Pelvis! Is that any name for a man to be known by? Hell, no. You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog. Well boy, we’re goin’ to separate the boys from the girls right here and now.”
At this point in his story Elvis began to choke and sob as the horrible memory overwhelmed him but he felt compelled to tell me the story. He needed to relieve himself to someone. I felt honored to be the one.
He said that they all unzipped and flipped their dick out. He was told to get down on his knees and suck each one off in series.
He was indignant. He told them to kiss off. But they all produced weapons, waving them under his nose. The criminal said: “Don’t think you’re so big that we can’t off you and get away with it. Bigger fish than you have been thrown into Ma Bates’ pond. All that’ll happen is we’ll claim some deranged fan waited in your room and shot you. We got guys who are dying to be famous. The man who shot Elvis Presley! They’ll take credit. Then what? We dose some crazy broad with drugs give her a gun and make it easy for her to kill your killer. We clap her in solitary confinement for the remaining months of her life. She dies. The secret goes to the grave with her. Now you know how it’s done pussy boy.’
At this point Elvis said the guy actually shoved the barrel of his gun in his mouth.
“On your knees pussy boy, and let’s see some action.”
Well…Elvis said the criminal actually worked the barrel back and forth in his mouth a couple times cocking the hammer as he did so.
Elvis was shaking uncontrollably as he told me this. He couldn’t articulate the next bit by by signs and simulations he indicated that he sank to his knees and did them all. He had to go on just a few hours later. You can imagine his mental condition. The set was actually taped by the vicious bastards. They show it on TV every now and again. About halfway through Elvis can’t deal with it. He leans forward half kneeling in that stance of his and simulates fellation on the microphone saying: Suckee, suckee. Then he shrugs his shoulders as if to say: No big thing. Later in the show he rushes from the stage into the audience seeking affirmation. Then at the cameras filming as he leaves backstage he flips a thumbs up sign as if to say: Fuck You.
But the thing took its toll. Up to then Elvis had been thin and under self-control. Now he started to gain weight. He started doing bizarre things like shooting out TV screens in his room when he played Vegas. His costume became more outre as he sought to recover his manhood. He started wearing that stupid little Captain Marvel cape. His whole outfit became patterned after that of Captain Marvel.
To spite them and reaffirm himself he tried to be bigger than even the fantasy giant he was. He did the spectacular satellite Live from Hawaii beamed simultaneously all over the world. Now that was bigger even than Las Vegas. It showed them how big he was and how small time they were.
But, it wasn’t enough. His ego, always fragile because of his cracker origins, was crushed. He just couldn’t go on. He staged his death on the shitter because they had turned his life to shit. Then he just disappeared to where I met him. No, don’t ask. I’m honor bound not to tell.
I will say this though. Elvis never had any idea of what he got himself into when he got into show biz. Of course, how could he know that he would come to represent the transition from the prewar immigrant culture to the post -war more or less synthetic culture, the union not only of the European nationalities but also the Negro culture.
As a symbol of the synthesis the Anglo rear guard would hold him responsible for the change. A race traitor if you will. Then again he represented the the democratic upwelling of the under classes as a result of the post-war prosperity. He didn’t adopt the cultural norms of the overclass. Not because he rejected them as they thought but just because he didn’t know any better.
And the, and this is most important, the phenomenal reverence and awe paid him was so far in excess of their own masculinity and manhood that they felt Elvis had emasculated them. Chirst, their wives were throwing their panties at him. They felt diminished so that in order to reassert their manhood they had to diminish Elvis below themselves.
Now, Man is homosexual by nature. He must either be a man and dominate or be a girl and be dominated. Hence the innate viciousness of the male. Obviously he who dominates every other male is King. Elvis was styled the King hence it was incumbent on him to dominate every other male. But, until his own emasculation at the hands of those jerks he was just a big friendly goof. He learned too late, but he did learn. Watch how he treats the musicians in the Live from Hawaii special. You’ll see it.’
End of clip II-3. Go to continuation at clip II-4.