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Monthly Archives: April 2008

 Our Lady Of The Blues

Vol. VII, Clip 7

by

R.E. Prindle

 

      Dewey too had caught the Big Chief at a moment of psychic crisis.  The Hero Of Saipan had come to realize and accept that the past had irrevocably slipped away.  The grads of ’57 and ’58 had no interest in his heroism, in fact, they scoffed at it.  The grads of’ ’59 would just see him for what he was; a fat old man in a blue suit.

     The Chief turned to walk out of the rope locker leaving his seamen behind.  As he walked he seemed to visibly shrink.  Whereas before he had filled his Chief’s suit to bursting from then on it just seemed to fit him.  He still filled it with distinction but it was no longer the suit of the Hero Of Saipan; Dieter had become the Navy equivalent of the Man In The Grey Flannel Suit.  An heroic era had ended.  Let us bow our head for a moment in prayer to the memory of his noble deeds in yesteryear.

Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

     Trueman’s act of open defiance had defused Dieter’s hatred of him.  The big Chief now had a grudging admiration of him but he had no way to bridge the gulf between them so he more or less ignored the sailor.

     There were others to take up the slack.  The Second Class, Norm Castrato, when he realized the chief had lost interest in Trueman determined to do something but as he was not a man of action he would only wait for direction from others.

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     An other was Brant Crowther.

     Brant had entered into an area of extreme psychological stress.  The defloration of his bride had been the determining psychic trauma of his life.  The proof of his wife’s virginity had been so central to his identity that he had failed to consult his bride’s needs as well as his own.  His feeling of  triumph as he leapt from the nuptial bed with arms upraised had been as complete as that of Richard Speck on his ritual murders of the nurses to be followed by an equal plunge into the very abyss of despair.

     His young wife did not share his elation at the proof of her virginity.  She had anticipated the pain of defloration and had prepared herself for it but she could not endure the humliation of being penetrated before witnesses.  Nothing in her life had prepared her for such an experience.  She considered Brant to be a perverted monster.  She had boarded a bus back to Memphis before Brant had a hint she was leaving.

     When his bride related the story of his perfidy to her family their sense of injury was just as strong.  Both Brant’s mother and father-in-law had called to revile him in no uncertain terms.  It was quite plain to him that if he ever returned to Memphis it was at his own peril.  Brant became a Californian on that day.

     He had also not thought out the reception his boasted act would receive amongst his fellow sailors.  Rather than being applauded for having proved the virginity of his wife he was derided.  Trueman, who never learned to keep his opinions to himself had been obvious in his horror and contempt of Brant’s deed.

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     Brant now loaded his shame on Trueman as his own scapegoat.  His shame was so great that suicide while not out of the question was impossible to him but a surrogate sacrifice seemed appropriate.  While consulting with his friends, Castrato, who was standing near suggested Trueman as an appropriate surrogate.

     Per the evidence Brant was prone to act first and think later.  He and his cronies set about to devise a plan for killing Trueman.  Castrato, who understood appearances, suggested that they make it look like an accident.

     Brant was of somewhat limited imagination while being more attuned to direct action than subterfuge.  Thus while the ship was at sea on maneuvers Castrato, Brant and his friends came up with a notion.

      The Teufelsdreck had a mast quite similar to a giant cross.  The mast was secured fore and aft by one inch steel cables that were secured by buckles the forward one anchored to the deck just aft of the bridge superstructure.  The upper end was attached to the end of the cross bar which extended a foot beyond the boat deck.  The steel buckle itself weighed ten pounds.  Castrato determined that if they disconnected the buckle and let the cable swing free it would hit Trueman emerging from the hatch on the head with enough force to ‘accidentally’ crack his skull.

     Letting the buckle swing free was no problem.  The difficulty arose in getting Trueman to exit the hatch at the appropriate moment.  Brant executed this as clumsily as he had the defloration of his wife.  He asked his fellow Memphian, Dant, to ask Trueman to step through the hatch.  Dant did as he was bid.

     Some call it paranoia, some call it alertness.  Trueman called it learning to be wary.  When Dant gave him the very specific instructions Dewey was wary but curious.  Dant preceded him stepping through the hatch first then standing opposite looking up toward the Yeoman’s shack.  He might as well have given Trueman a diagram.

     Standing just inside the hatch Trueman turned his gaze toward the Yeoman’s shack.  There he saw Brant standing holding the buckle in his hands waiting for him to emerge.  Trueman grasped that they intended to hit him with the buckle but he couldn’t credit his guess.

     At any rate he knew that the buckle should have been released in the expectation of his exiting the hatch.  Curious to see if his guess was right Trueman stepped through the hatch.  As he did so Brant released the buckle.  In the three or four seconds it took to descend Trueman was across the deck.  The buckle swung harmlessly past him.  Brant was no genius.

     ‘I can’t believe how stupid you guys are.’  Trueman spat out contemptuously as he explained how they should have done it.

     Brant while no genius was neither bright.  He had made no provision for after Trueman was hit or what to do in the event he wasn’t.  Now his position was as exposed as when he had deflowered his wife.  He had compounded his guilt with devastating effect on both his character and his reputation.

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     Meanwhile the buckle was swinging free.  The first swing had been in a more or less straight line but the motion of the ship on the swings caused it to circle.  The buckle slammed into the bulkhead on the port circumference rebounding crazily several feet from the bulkhead still swinging fore and aft.

     Once adapted to the motion of the ship the buckle may as well have become a loose cannon.  Castrato who had been watching like a voyeur at a sorority house stepped out shouting:  ‘Secure that buckle, Trueman.’

     ‘Up yours, Castrato.  I didn’t let it loose; get them to secure it.’

     ‘Yeah, but…’  Castrato began but then realizing the damage the buckle could do he rushed down from the boat deck to try to seize it.  This was an extremely dangerous task on the rolling and pitching ship.  The buckle appeared to have assumed a life of its own seeming to consciously avoid Castrato’s grasp as he fought to keep his balance while grappling for it.  He might easily have been decked by the loose buckle but he managed to seize it on the fourth try.

     He and Brant refastened the buckle in place.

     If the attempt on his life had consequences for the psyche of Brant the effect on Trueman was no less profound.  Any other attempts on his life had been covert; they could have been accidents.  Indeed, Trueman did not consciously attribute Dieter’s attempted entombment in the Depth Charge locker as an attempt on his life; he didn’t dwell on those aspects while he was on the Buoy in Hong Kong Harbor; in his own muddle headed way he could place a different construction on the situations.  Thus, while his reaction to the other attempts was wholly in the subconscious, Brant’s attempt had to be managed on the conscious level.  No sublimation was possible.

page 1585.

     To say that Trueman was pushed over the edge would be an exaggeration nevertheless his psychology was not so developed that he had the means of dissipating the effect.  In a way he did go over the edge but in a manner that allowed him to dissociate himself not only from the circumstance, but his Navy life.

     Some of the boys of First had made contact with some version of Schopenhauer’s notion of the world as will and idea.  This led to earnest discussions as to whether the world existed at all or whether it was a projection of the individual mind.  Trueman had been asked directly how he knew he was really living the life he seemed to be leading.  Isn’t it possible, he was asked, that he had been hit on the head and was unconscious merely dreaming his life from a hospital bed.

     At the time his reply had been that if he were dreaming it those guys wouldn’t have been in his dream and he wouldn’t be in the Navy.  There may have been some way to prove this wasn’t true but it had been beyond Trueman’s capacity to do it.  Now, unable to deal with such savage antipathy for which he had no explanation, he, prompted by the attempt to brain him, now began to wonder whether it might not be true that he was unconscious on a hospital bed.

     If all this were a nightmare he could tolerate it in the hope that he might wake up making it all go away.  As luck would have it this was real and no projection; there would be no waking up.  However for the next couple months he had displaced reality so much that he believed that it might be, probably was, true.  The feeling lingered with him for a decade and a half.

     The feeling of a projection was dispelled by a leave he decided to take in December.  His original notion had been to acrue leave for his enlistment receiving payment in lieu on discharge.  As he had broken in the summer of ’57 he now broke againapplying for Christmas leave.

     As always the application had to go through Kanary.  The Yeoman quickly passed the information on to Our Lady for whatever it might be worth to him.  Yisraeli did find the information useful.

I Will Smite Mine Enemy Hip And Thigh

     At this time Our Lady Of The Blues found it expedient to hold open house in his ‘studio’ across from the faux Playboy Club in Escondido.  Showbaby Zion had successfully launched the Michael label with his first recordings of Con Creat and the Rebars called ‘Hanging Ten Forever.’  The rather unimaginative but effective cover, effective is always better than imaginative, depicted a large close up of comic toes curled around the front edge of a surf board.

page 1587.

     The record was what is called a regional hit.  Few copies made it out of the Southland while the record was unheard of even in such close proximity as the San Francisco Bay Area.  In fact the record was barely known five miles from the beach front in the Southland but within those five miles close to twenty-five thousand surfing enthusiasts rallied to the surf and sex anthems of Con Creat and the Rebars.

      Most of the sales were done in eighteen months so Yisraeli realized a tidy sum.  Production costs were less than two thousand dollars.  Con and the Rebars had strolled into the studio at eleven never having to return from lunch at twelve.  It was rough but it sounded live and man did it have drive.

     Manufacturing costs for record and cover came in at thirty-five cents per.  There were no promotion costs and you may be sure Yehouda Yisraeli collected every dollar of the three-fifty-four wholesale price.

     In addition Showbaby got free air play from the beach stations for ‘Hanging Ten Forever’ and ‘Beach Banging’ with its slightly, did I say slightly, risque lyrics.  The two forty fives sold in excess of fifteen thousand each so Yehouda got a lot of bang for his bucks.

     Con had an abbreviated career as, with all those wild boys trying to live life to the max, he terminated from the seat of a Harley going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street.  If he hadn’t died he might have been as big as Dick Dale and the Deltones.

     Showbaby was hot on the trail of similar acts of which there were many so the future looked bright, as indeed it would prove to be, for Our Lady.  With legitimate financial success, however legitiamte success in the record business may be, before him, Yisraeli began to lose his taste for selling pictures of men in obscene poses.  His mind began to phase out criminal porn.

     For the time being however he carried on.  He was standing in the kitchen holding on a desultory conversation with various boys when the kitchen door opened revealing Teal Kanary with a glowing face.

     He immediately blurted:  ‘I don’t know what it’s worth to you Yehouda but that guy you don’t like very much is going home for Christmas.’

      ‘What?  He’s got leave for the holidays?”

      ‘Holiday, not holidays.  I’ve limited him to just Christmas.  He’s got to be back the twenty-eighth.’  Kanary chuckled over his cleverness.  Trueman had applied for the fifteenth of December through the second of January but the evil mind of Kanary ever seeking to inconvenience anyone he didn’t like or who wouldn’t cater to him had on his own initiative declared that New Year’s was out and Trueman would have to be back on the twenty-eight.

     ‘Ha. Ha.  He’ll have to get up from Christmas dinner to catch the bus back.’  Kanary chuckled with a glee that only a perverted mind could appreciate.

     ‘He has to leave Christmas day to get back in time?  Oh, that’s rude, who thought of that?’

     ‘I don’t know what you mean, Yehouda.’  Kanary giggled girlishly.  ‘He got the only dates available…for him.  He was lucky to get that.  Otherwise he might not of been there for Christmas dinner.’  Kanary broke down in hysterics at the thought of Trueman getting up from Christmas dinner to catch the bus.

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     Yehouda let out a couple loud guffaws in sympathy.  His mind began running through possibilities but came up blank.  Heaving a sigh he walked into the adjoining room to pick up a cigarette.

     ‘Yeah, we got this real hard case in now.  He’s a real gas.’  I.P. Rivers was talking.  I.P. was with Shore Patrol.  He was serving on the staff of the brig.

     ‘Hm. Yeah.’  I.P. said swigging his beer.  ‘This guy’s real tough if you can believe it.  His name is Dalton Dagger.  Marine.  He’s in for insubordination.  Slugging his Sergeant.  The guy’s a real card.  He says the recruiters are full of shit.  He says they say they want a few good men but that no real man would put up with the horseshit.’

     There were a couple mutters of approval.

     ‘Well, I don’t know, I’m sure, but the guy’s got a real mouth, whew, won’t let it alone.  I got this electric cattle prod…every time he isn’t looking I give him a jolt.  You oughta see the prick jump.’

     Murmurs of disapproval.

     ‘He’s always talking gay guys down.’  I.P. added hastily.  ‘He either thinks I’m gay or because we accept the discipline we must be and he can’t so he calls us all faggots.  Hates fags.’

     Murmurs of unconcern for his fate.

     ‘Where’s he from?’  Yehouda asked idly.

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     “Bay City, Michigan.  They must take a lot of pride in him.  When he gets out, if it’s not feet first, in a couple weeks he says he can’t wait to get back.  I’ll bet they can.’

     Yehouda thoughtfully tipped his can into his mouth.  Bay City?  Dalton Dagger?  Not one of the notorious Daggers was he?  The Daggers were well known in official circles in the Valley.  They were quite a family of wild people.  A light went off in Yehouda’s head.  ‘Do you think he’s that mean?  Do you think he’d kill anybody?’

     ‘He says so.  I mean, he put the Sarge in the hospital; beat him up bad, might have killed him if they hadn’t pulled him off.  He thinks he’s a real bad motor scooter.  He’s always warning us what he’s going to do to us when he gets out.  I think killing us has come up once or twice.’

     ‘Yeh?  Aren’t you afraid?’

     ‘Aw, Yehouda, those guys are all talk.  Soon as they get out they’re so glad they get as far away as possible.  Besides it becomes their life, they’re going to be in and out until the day they die.  We’re the law.  They like us guards as much as they hate us.  You know, and this guy is going to be back to Bay City, Michigan and who knows where I’ll be.  I get out in five months.’

     I.P.  would get out a lttle sooner.  It would have been better for him if Our Lady had not overheard him talking about Dalton Dagger.  In early December they would find his body in the surf bumping up against the rocks with an electric cattle prod up his ass south of the border down Tijuana way.

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      They found dead sailors down there on a fairly regular basis.  The Navy didn’t worry about it either.  What was there to investigate?  Boys will be boys.  The Navy thought all its sailors were big boys who could take care of themselves.  They sort of believed in natural law.

     The appearance of Law and Order was necessary on base and aboard ship but even then you were expected to take care of yourself.  They just sent a letter to I.P. River’s mom with their condolences.

     Yisraeli received the information from I.P. without a blink but it set the back of his mind in motion.

     He went to find Showbaby.

     ‘There’s a guy in the brig by the name of Dalton Dagger.  He’s due out in a couple weeks on a DD.  Find out what you can about him before he gets out.  If he checks out have him meet me at the Horseshoe.  I may have a deal for him.’

     The pieces were beginning to fall in place for Our Lady.  ‘Oh, my god.’  He thought.  ‘Deliver mine enemy unto me and I will smite him hip and thigh.’

From A Buick 8

     Soter Kreskin moved fast.  Within the week Joe McLean had himself a car gassed up and loaded with marijuana ready for the San Diego to Oakland run.

     McLean wanted a luxury car of sorts so he got a ’51 red convertible Buick.  Buicks were a status car back where he came from and, indeed, throughout the country.  Buick was one of the earliest successful cars.  At one time a competitor for Ford selling as many cars the company fell behind when the bankers took over the company from William Durant.  Ford then shot way ahead.

     Buicks were the beginning of GM’s luxury lines.  Those who had arrived and wanted people to know it drove Cadillacs.  Those who were almost there and hoped people would notice drove Oldsmobiles.  Those who had reached a comfortable status in life and didn’t hope for much more drove Buicks.

     These distinctions were quite clear cut in those days unlike today where you drive an expensive car or a less expensive car but they all look alike.

     At the boot of GM’s lines were the Pontiac and Chevy.  During the fifties the two cars were almost indistinguishable although Pontiac was the ritzier of the two.  Chevy was for the common folk but by the late fifties with the Impala and the later 409 Chevy was pretty much in a class by itself.

     The ’51 Buick still had the air holes in the hood although they were being phased out as the fifties ended and the sixties began.  The fifty-ones had big round chrome covers with a scoop at the back to draw the air through.  The Buick air hole whether simulated or real was a distinctive touch.

     McLean was ecstatic about his Buick.  The car was a good clean tight model.  On top of it all it was a convertible which for McLean was making it.  He couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.  The maiden voyage included McLean, Trueman, Da Costa and Dennis Whatley.  Da Costa rode shotgun with Trueman in the middle because he wouldn’t sit in the back with Whatley.

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     McLean was in hog heaven as he raced the Buick V8 up the highway to LA at seventy per.  His elation was brought up short when a highway patrolman pointed a finger at him from the side of the road indicating he was to pull in to the police roadblock a half mile ahead.

     ‘Oh damn.  This is it.’  He said quietly to himself.

     ‘This is what?’  Dewey asked.  ‘What’s going on?’

     ‘It’s the cops.   They set up these road blocks to pull over cars to check for dope running.’  McLean explained.  ‘There’s tons of dope being driven up from Mexico.  They’re trying to intercept it.’

     ‘Well, why pull us over?  We don’t have any.’  Dewey said with full innocence.

     ‘Just a spot check.’  McLean lied as he pulled up before a half dozen officers.

     ‘Alright.  Out of the car boys.’  A cop intoned.

     Just as at Tijuana they all got out to stand roadside as the cops went over the car.  They must have thought the weed would be sitting on the seats because they gave the car only the most cursory inspection at most feeling up into the wheel housings.

     ‘I’m sure this is the car we had the report on.’  One cop said in a frustrated tone.

     ‘Aw, why don’t you guys go out and look for crooks rather than stopping decent people like us?’  Dewey griped.

     ‘Yeah.’  McLean chipped in who had stepped over beside Dewey assuming his pose just as Kreskin had at the Mexican border.

     ‘Alright,  Get the hell out of here.’  The cop snarled.

     The boys needed no second bidding but piled back into the car whipping into traffic while McLean’s face relaxed into a big grin of relief.  Still, he had heard the cop say he was sure this was the car.  If they were already unto him he feared he might get nailed the next time.

     He had little to worry about.  Already the wheels were in motion.  The American Civil Liberties Union had already filed suits before Soter sent them a few hundred to keep up the good work while offering his own professional opinion.  The ACLU took the money while tossing Soter’s opinion into the circular.  They had enough opinions of their own and they prevailed.  By the next week the ‘illegal search and seizures’ had been discontinued.

     The ACLU always seemed to be there to block law enforcement procedures.  In the name of ‘civil rights’ they constantly narrowed the range of law enforcement practices while enlarging the scope for criminal activity.  Thus the drugs flowed unimpeded into LA and points North while the rift between the people and the police widened in an ever increasing vicious circle.

     Dennis Whatley was chattering in the back seat about how an accident was inevitable because of the law of averages when about a mile ahead Dewey saw a semi jackknive at right angles to the trailer turning over across all four lanes.

     McLean was watching the cars ahead of him and didn’t see it.

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     ‘Bring it to a stop Joe quick.  That semi up there rolled over.’

     Already you could hear the crashing metal as the cars closest to the semi began crashing into each other.  Fortunately McLean caught the drift bringing the speeding car down while angling across the freeway from the slow lane to avoid the cars piling up.  the din of four lanes of cars crashing was terrifying.

     The car in front of them had just nudged into its leader when McLean brought the Buick to a stop inches from the bumper.

     Everyone was heaving a sigh of relief when the car filled with light.  Taking a quick look behind Dewey saw the headlights bearing down on them at a fast speed.

     Turning forward he said ‘Aw, Christ.’  going limp which he had heard was a good way to avoid injury.  The car slammed into them snapping Dewey’s head backward against the seat top.  The force of the crash drove the Buick into the car in front of it although Dewey came through it unhurt.

     McLean made a move to get out of the car but Trueman grabbed him saying:  ‘Wait till there are three or four cars behind us.  At that moment a car sliced to a halt beside the Buick stopping with its rear fender opposite the Buick’s front door.  Another came up behind that until the highway was filled with cars as far back as the eye could see.

     The sailors got out of the car.  Trueman exercised his neck, felt his back coming the conclusion he was unscathed.

     Miraculously the Buick was not demolished.  The front end had been pushed into the rear of the car in front bumper to bumper.  The forward car was more damaged than th Buick.

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     The front end of the following car had been nosed down as it was braking so the grille had cracked into the Buick bumper.  The Buick was not caved in although the integrity of the car was shattered.  Both bumpers were loosened to the point of rattling while the body was loosened.  The fastenings of the convertible top had been sprung so in the future the car had to be driven with the top down.

     The radiator of the following car had been punctured and pushed back into the engine.  Billows of steam rose as boiling water cascaded onto the pavement.  The car was undriveable.

     ‘Why the hell didn’t you guys pull up further?’  The driver truculently demanded.  ‘And you wouldn’t have got hit.’

     ‘Why were you going so fast; you must have seen the cars stopped from a mile back?’  Trueman exploded.

     ‘Why were you in front of us?  If you hadn’t been there you wouldn’t have got hit.’  The man replied with sanguine illogic as though he had made an irrefutable point.

     ‘I sure hope you’ve got insurance.’  McLean half blurted half whined chagrined because his erstwhile tight little ’51 now looked like he bought it from Jeeter Lester on Tobacco Road.

     ‘Not only don’t have insurance; I ain’t got a dime.’  The driver said jutting out his jaw in defiance.  ‘So sue away.’

     That left McLean in tears.

     Hundreds of people were now out milling around on the highway wondering what to do next in this monster crack up as the four lanes of cars stretched from Anaheim back to San Juan Capistrano.

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     It took three hours to get the toppled semi off the highway then the HWP began sorting through the massive pile up distributing tickets.

     By the time they got to the Buick and pulled it to the side of the road the lanes were clear releasing the enormous pent up stream of cursing drivers.  Due to the intricacies of the law McLean was cited for hitting the car in front even though he had been pushed into it from behind.  When the driver asked for his insurance company McLean merely repeated what the guy behind him had said:  ‘I don’t have any insurance; furthermore I don’t have a dime.  Go ahead and sue.’

     McLean was given no argument.  So when the dust had settled and the smoke had cleared the four men from the Buick and the three men from behind who had been in a ’54 Ford stood glaring at each other.

     ‘You guys going North over the Grapevine?’  Sal Veniti, the driver asked.

     ‘Yeah.’  McLean grunted.

     ‘Well, so were we before you guys got in our way.’  Veneti snarled.  ‘You at least owe us a ride.’

     ‘Bullroar.’  Da Costa exploded.

     ‘Put me on and strut down the runway.’  Trueman sneered.

     ‘How about it?’  Veneti demanded from McLean.

     ‘Well, OK.’  McLean assented.  ‘I guess we owe you that.’

     McLeans’s stupidity was greeted by a chorus of noes as each sailor remonstrated with McLean.

     ‘What are you going to do with your car?’  Trueman queried.

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     ‘Just leave it.  It’s just junk now.  The Highway Patrol will tow it away.’

     Trueman was standing mouth agape that anyone would abandon the car, but, in fact, Veneti was a practical guy.  He couldn’t have paid the towing bill nor could he have redeemed the car from the compound nor having done those things was it worthwhile to repair it.  He would incur the minimal amount of expense by letting California claim it.  He did.

     ‘So how about it?’  Veneti pleaded belligerently.

     McLean was nodding his head yes when Da Costa interjected:  ‘We might as well go back; it’s past midnight already and we haven’t even hit LA.’

     None but McLean knew of his secret cargo.  It was imperative to him to go on and the inane argument that the ’54 wouldn’t have been destroyed if the Buick hadn’t been in front of it carried weight with McLean.  To the disgust of the others he insisted of giving the four additional people a ride.

     ‘How are we going to do that Joe?  We’ve got six seats and nine guys.

     ‘Somebody can sit on somebody’s lap.’  Mclean muttered idiotically.

     ‘None of us are going to that.’  Veneti threatened.

     ‘Don’t look at me.’  Trueman and Da Costa said together.

     ‘Somebody could lay down in the convertible top well.’  McLean suggested.

     When the top was up a large space capable of holding a man was behind the back seat.

page 1599.

     Everyone was shaking their head no when Dennis Whatley said:  ‘Ill do it.’

     ‘That won’t work.’  Trueman said trying to avoid giving the four men a ride.

     ‘Watch this.’  Whatley said leaping into the space.  ‘See, it’ll work like a charm.’

     Without waiting the four from the ’54 piled into the back seat.

     McLean got the Buick back out on the highway where it took ten or fifteen fminutes for everyone to get used to all the rattles and the wind gushing through the top but the car ran fine.

     The four new passengers proved to be a real handful.

     ‘You were really stupid to stop where you did.  If you’d a moved over a lane where that other was we’d a been OK.’

     ‘Oh baloney.’  Trueman said really riled up.  ‘You were going so fast you’d a hit a car three up.’

     ‘How’d you like a knuckle sandwich, meathead.’  Veneti asked hitting the back of the seat.

     Strangely McLean took all this in stride while Trueman and Da Costa set up cries to put the four intruders out.  Amidst this vituperation the voice of Dennis Whatley emerged from the convertible top well:  ‘You guys want to pull over to the side a minute.’

     Stopping was anathema on these trips.  The whole run was made with no more than a stop for gas.  If you had any problems of nature that was the time to take care of them.  Besides no one but a hick like Whatley would be seen standing by the road taking a leak.

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     ‘What for Dennis?’  Da Costa asked who was Whately’s patron in the group.

     ‘I gotta take a leak.’

      At this time they had just passed through the Stack and were whizzing down the Hollywood freeway.

     ‘You’re going to have to hold it Dennis; there’s no place to pull over.’

     The four intruders kept up their abusive patter threatening not only Trueman but Da Costa and Mclean.

     ‘Let those guys out of here Joe.’  Trueman demanded seconded by Da Costa.

     Still McLean was dragging his feet.  As he had so often before caused trouble then vanished when it materialized, having given these guys a ride he was now intimidated by their threats preparing to endure abuse rather than face actual combat.

     In the meantime Whatley was making repeated calls to pull over.  Finally at the foot of the Grapevine McLean was prevailed upon to throw the three out.

    ‘Hey, you sons-of-bitches can’t throw us out.  First you assholes wreck our car and now you won’t give us a ride.  You owe us, man.  Stop this car and we’ll beat you to a bloody pulp.’

     ‘Pull over, these guys are out of this car.’

     The last threat had thoroughly intimidated  McLean but the request of Trueman and Da Costa had been equally forceful.

     As the car pulled to a stop Da Costa jumped out followed by Trueman to allow the others out of the back seat.  Having taken the men literally both were ready for a fist fight.

page 1601.

     ‘Get out!’ Da Costa commanded.  Then:  “Alright Dennis if you have to go now’s the time.’

     ‘That’s alright.’  Dennis’ voice came from the well.

     ‘C’mon Whatley, if you gotta go, go now.’

     ‘Naw, I already went.’  Dennis said.

     The three intruders guffawed as they got out of the car stepping well clear of Trueman and Da costa.

     Their leader rather than stepping up moved well back, saying:  ‘You guys better hope we don’t catch you down the road or you’ll be sore for weeks.’

     Trueman and Da Costa got the drift scoffing as they got back in the car.  Mclean had not left the wheel having been prepared to drive off if fighting began.

     ‘What do you mean you already went Dennis?  Where?’

     ‘Just where I am.’

     ‘Oh my god.’  Trueman muttered.  ‘That idiot is laying in a pool of piss.’

     ‘You can get out of there now, Dennis.’  Da Costa said.

     While Whatley was climbing out Trueman remonstrated with McLean.  ‘I told you not to give those jerks a ride Joe.  Jeez, they wreck your car and then you give them a ride?’

     ‘Well, I was in their way.’

     ‘Whadya mean we were in their way?  They had more time to stop than we did.  Aftr I spotted the wreck and told you stop we did it.’  Trueman said hoping for some thanks for enabling them to avoid the serious damage that would have ensued otherwise.  It might have been interesting if being towed away the load of weed had been discovered.  McLean owed more to Trueman than the dolt would ever realize.

page 1602.

     ‘I saw it.  I didn’t need you to tell me.’  McLean retorted unwilling to be indebted for any reason to the man he hated.

     Trueman let it lapse but, as he was to learn, ingratitude was characteristic of Mclean.

     The Buick rattled on into Oakland as rosy fingered dawn appeared behind them obviating the need to sleep.

     The group of men no longer hung out together.  Mclean spent the weekend with Chance and the criminal element.  Now that he was delivering his first load of contraband like the smugglers of old he was especially eager to be away where he could be with men with whom he could share his exploit.

     Whatley who was now courting Teresa and would eventually marry her stayed with Da Costa.  Trueman who was now able to spend all his time with Louise wandered over to Alton Clark’s to spend a couple hours until a reasonable time for showing up at Louise’s.

     Walking is virtually a punishable offence in California but as Dewey had no car he had to walk to Louise’s.  He always felt foolish and consipcuous walkng down her street to her house.

     On this evening he found that they were to attend a party.

     Admitted to the house of Jeremy Snyder they found the party in full progress.  Snyder was an audio nut, one of the first of his breed.  He not only had a component stereo system but had installed a full fledged broadcasting quality control room in his basement complete with dual turntables, theater type speakers and behind his glassed in control room thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment.   As stereo had only recently been introduced he had a complete collection of stereo records, true stereo,  as well as thousands of forty-fives which included every top one hundred hit since 1955.

page 1603.

     He had all the stereo test records.

     This was the time that the Bohemian Beat style was reaching its apogee.  Herb Caen of the SF Chronicle had not yet dubbed the epigoni of the Beats, Beatniks but the descendants of the original Beats were already prominent.  The Beatnik was actually an intermediate step between the Beats and the Hippies.  The real Beats came out of the late forties and early fifties.  Dewey who admired the style was too young to be an actual Beat.  He would have had to become a Beatnik, which he never did.

     One of the marks of the Beatnik was the ubiquitous Bongo Drum.  The drums were a set of one larger and one smaller drum bound together.  They were placed between the knees of a seated person.  The rhythms were beaten out with thumb and fingers.  There were three aspiring young Beats at the party with their Bongos.

     To entertain his guests between records for dancing Jer broke out an RCA test record in which two men were playing ping pong.  The effect, new at the time, was awe inspiring; a complete novelty as the ping came from the right speaker seemed to hit a table between the speakers a second later, rebounding to the left speaker where with an answering pong it was hit back.   Responding to the slow rhythm of the ball one of the Bongo players accentuated the rhythm producing an intriguing beat.  The other two Bongo players melded in.  the sound elaborated into a symphony led bythe bouncing ball to the delight of everyone.

     Snyder who had a couple reel to reel tape decks in his control room captured the whole thing on tape.  He was especially delighted with it.

     As the music began again Louise produced a blanket which she threw over herself and Dewey.  While Louise was not particularly amorous in private she was a demon in backseats and parties or anywhere there was an audience.

     She and Dewey occupied a corner where they began kissing.  Louise heated up pretty quick.  Wiggling around under the blanket she didn’t wait for Dewey to loosen her bra but unsnapping it she then slid the straps down the arm of the sweater.  Quickly removing the bra she stuffed it in Dewey’s pocket.  Without actually guiding his hand she somehow bumped his arm to her chest where his hand seized her breast beneath her sweater.

     The shock was electric.  Dewey had been wondering how to get a chance to try but the breast, as it were, jumped into his hand.  Dewey became oblivious to the scene while Louise smugly conned the room trying to call attention to them.  She artfully fluffed the blanket up to give the impression that more was going on than was.  But she was ready while Dewey wasn’t.

     Dewey could handle making out in public; petting was already extreme for him, but actually doing it terrified him.  Louise threw her leg over him to make it easy at the same time seeming to accidently stroke his penis but the act was beyond the young man.  Besides he didn’t want to get her pregnant.  That particular hell could wait.

page 1605.

      The romance began to unravel that night   because he failed to live up to Louise’s expectations.  She would have been quite smug thinking she had done it in front of all those people.  Dewey, three years older than herself, had failed her.

     Dewey didn’t understand.  He began making plans to find a private place.  Private places were not where Louise was at.

     The party over Dewey took Louise home.  He spent the next day with her not noticing his lackluster reception.

     The trip back was less than exciting.  None of the other three had any of the flash or fire of Kayo Kreskin being rather a boring lot.  But they got back with time to spare.

Remember The Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man?

     It is always better for a man to incriminate himself.  However you have to stand around waiting for a very long time as he may never do it.  A better approach is to lead him into temptation.

     Bifrons Morford happened to be in the mess hall one daywhen he saw Judge Easy and Lawyer Screw examining a punch board, discussing it earnestly.

     ‘You fellows know those are illegal, don’t you?’  He said with a piercing nonchalance.

     ‘What’s that?’  Lawyer Screw said hastily putting the punch board in his pocket.

page 1606.

     ‘Punch Boards…’  Morford began but then stopped as an idea hit him.  ‘I could write you guys up right now but I’ll overlook it this time if you sell that to Trueman.’

     ‘Yeah, sure, no problem.’  Screw mumbled.

     Both he and Easy went in search of Trueman.

     Dewey looked up to see the Gold Dust Twins ambling down the port side.  They had a peculiar shambling walk that expressed dejection and criminality at the same time.  Dewey was surprised they had escaped the brig in Guam.  He couldn’t remember having seen them since that night in mess cooking when they’d tried to lure him into a card game.

     ‘Trueman, hey, see what we’ve got.’

     ‘What’s that?’

     ‘A way to make a pot of money.’

     ‘Uh huh, but what is it on the one hand, and I’m not giving it to you, on the other.’

     ‘A punch board.  Haven’t you ever seen one of these before?’

     ‘No.  Heard of ’em, haven’t seen one.’

     ‘This is it.  Could be yours.’

     ‘Why would I want it?’

     ‘Make money.  Here take a look.’

     ‘Aren’t these things illegal?’  Trueman said as he took the punch board.

     ‘Only if you get caught.’  Screw said easily.

     The punch boards were a quarter inch thick of layered papers with about fifty holes that were stuffed with wads of paper.  When you punched out the wads it told whether you’d won money or not.  The first buyer immediately punched out the winning numbers which were coded on the back.  The boards were so notorious for cheating that people who had never seen one, like Dewey, knew their reputation.

     ‘These things are all rigged besides half the holes on this one have already been punched out.  Probablythe good ones so who’d want to play even if they weren’t rigged.  No thanks.’

     Trueman remembered only too well how Screw and Easy had cleaned him at cards; he had no use for them but convention required him to tolerate them.

     ‘You got the wrong idea.’  Lawyer said.  ‘We’re not trying to sell you a chance, we’re selling you the whole punch board.’

     ‘Why would I want it?’

     ‘We’re only asking five dollars.  At half a dollar a chance you’ll make that back easy.’

     ‘I wouldn’t buy a chance for a dollar; probably neither would anyone else.’

     ‘Two fifty.’

     ‘Naa, everybody would see me coming.’  Trueman said looking pointedly at the Twins.

     ‘Last offer.  A buck.’

     ‘No, but I appreciate your thinking of me.’  Trueman replied sardonically.  His sarcasm was wasted on those two.

     ‘OK, only because it’s you Trueman, a quarter.’

     ‘Twenty-five cents?’  Dewey brightened.  For a quarter he could get his money’s worth in fun just punching out the holes which made a great sound and unrolling the wad.  Just looking at each result would while away an hour.

page 1608.

     ‘Sure.’  Dewey said flipping Screw a twenty-five cent piece.

     ‘We’ll even be our first customer.’  Screw said producing a dollar while eagerly siezing the punch board.

     Dewey was too leery of the Gold Dust Duo to be lured into that trap.

     ‘That’s alright.  I just bought it for a toy.’  Dewey said dismissing them.

     Now the proud owner of his own personal punch board Dewey leaned up against a K-gun and studied his acquisition.  Masterworks of psychology the punch boards were intriguing.  The message on each one was of that type of salesmanship that was exciting and masterful in its approach to the credulous, every bit as good as Charles Atlas and AMORC ads and lots better than Joe Weider’s efforts.  Even the combination of dull colors on the manila stock was artfully done in a kitsch sort of way.

     Dewey was studying the back where it gave the list of winning numbers checking each to see if it was punched out.  Number thirty-six paid ten dollars, the only good number left.  Dewey chuckled at the thought that he had outwitted Judge and Lawyer who obviously hoped to get back ten dollars and twenty-five cents for their dollar.

      ‘Those are illegal, Trueman.’  Morford said standing menacingly before the sailor.

     ‘No they’re not.’   Trueman said with an easy command of legal principle.  ‘Not any more than dice or cards.  Gambling only becomes gambling when money changes hands.  I’m not offering chances and I’m not taking any.’  Dewey replied with a smile.  ‘I’ll sell you the whole punch board for fifty cents.  Whadya say, Lieutenant?’

page 1609.

     Dewey had bobbled the J.G.  ‘Your number is going to come up Trueman and when it does…’  Bifrons snarled walking angrily away.

     Dewey returned to admiring his toy when Red Hanrahan walked over from the gun mount he’d been working on, snatching the punch board from his hands.  ‘All you got to do to get a winning number is read the list of numbers on the back here, a smart guy like me would clean you out in no time.’

     ‘Oh, well, in that case you can punch any number but thirty-one.’

     ‘See what I mean?  Lookit here.  Thirty-one pays ten dollars.  I coulda cleaned you out Trueman but I’m not that kind of guy.’  Hanrahan said not having paid attention to Dewey’s previous remark.  Smart guys never do.

     Dewey thought better than to argue.  He nodded sarcastically.  ‘I see what you mean.  I guess I owe you one, Hanrahan.’

     The Gunner’s Mate was so full of himself he failed to notice the sarcasm.  As an additional fillup of generosityhe gave Trueman what he thought was a bit of privy information.

     ‘Lieutenant Sieggren’s leaving next Wednesday, you know.  Getting discharged.’

     ‘No Kidding.’  Trueman said, who hadn’t heard.

page 1610

So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You

     Sieggren crossed the gangway with the same solemnity that he had performed his duties.  The Quarterdeck was thronged with sailors pushing to bid him goodbye.  Dewey had stationed himself on the bridge to get a good overview.  Unwilling to honor any officer in any way he pretended to be wiping the barriers.

     Sieggren had been a most respected officer.  He had in fact been scrupulously fair and incorruptible.  He never allowed himself to become involved in inter-personal shenanigans but had maintained an objective distance.  At the same time he had projected a bluff sensitivity that seemed to indicate that if he hadn’t known his duty he would have been sympathetic to your cause.

     His reward was this outpouring of what was really love and affection.

     Gonzo Lewis waited at the wardroom door like a lovesick girl as Sieggren took leave of his fellow officers to fawn over him all the way to the gangway.

     No one gave him presents but then he wasn’t an outgoing Captain.  With a stylized wave and a stiff upper lip concealed beneath his bushy blonde mustache Sieggren stepped ashore to walk smartly away without a backward glance.

     No replacement was sent.  Even though not a full lieutenant Bifrons Morford was made temporary Exec.

page 1611

On Top Of Old Teufelsdreck

     Brant had failed in his attempt to murder Trueman.  A certain shame and distress succeeds failed evil.  The deed had already been completed in the mind; the failure breeches the act of closure producing a malaise.  One has shown the real self.  Plus, there is a fear of retaliation.

     A twenty-four hour a day guard of alertness was undertaken by Brant’s friends.  When Trueman made no attempt to avenge the attempt on his life or even spoke to Brant about it he was thought a pansy.

     A second attempt was determined on.  Rather than risk failure by springing a trap or incur blame as the first attempt had it was desirable to get Trueman to accede to the attempt.  They wanted him to volunteer for a dangerous assignment.  Norm Castrato provided the means.

     The same cable that had been used in the attempt to brain Trueman required greasing to protect it from the elements every so often.  This was a tricky job and very undesirable.  Considered very dangerous no one was assigned to the job, a request for volunteers was taken.

      The job required a sailor carrying a bucket of grease to climb the mast, crawl over the crossbar, straddle the one inch cable on his belly, then lower himself down while greasing the cable with the rags.

page 1612.

     As dangerous as that was it was even more important to have thoroughly trustworthy people tending you at the buckle.  Hatreds aboard ship being what they were if an enemy had been assigned to tend the greaser a judicious snap or two of the cable or the accidental disengagement of the buckle could send the greaser plunging to his death.  For this reason the greaser was allowed to select his own tenders from close friends.

     No one could be assigned to the task.  Tradition required volunteers.  Brant and his friends chose the Tom Sawyer fence painting ruse to try to get Trueman to volunteer.  Brant just kept trying demonstrate his stupidity.

     Jimmie ‘the Weasel’ Swindell of Brant’s group had been the man to volunteer to grease the cable.  The trick now was to induce Trueman to relieve Swindell of the onerous duty.

     The previous incident with the indentical cable being very fresh in Trueman’s mind he was naturally wary.

     He stood studying the situation.  There was no chance that he would volunteer.  As he saw it the critical point was the buckle.  His men might be standing there to guard it but if Dieter called them away they would be expected to obey first and complain later.  Once away Brant could unfasten the buckle.  Trying to hold onto the cable with greasy hands as it swung perpendicular would be impossible.  Trueman saw it as a shabby attempt to injure if not kill him.

     ‘Somebody has got to do this job, Trueman.’

     ‘So what’s the problem?  You already have Swindell.’

     ‘Well, he’s willing to give up the job if you want to volunteer.’

page 1613.

     ‘If you expect me to volunteer, I won’t.  Let the Weasel do it.’

     ‘Aah, you chicken-shit, Trueman.’

     ‘Take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.’

A Last Dip South Of The Border

     Parsons who was now compelled to associate with the criminal element aboard was given directions to lure Trueman into the life.  The only opening available was to induce him into a pattern of vice in Tijuana as he could not be induced into possible places of ill repute above the border.

     Parsons only recourse was to go South.  But Trueman didn’t like Tijuana.  Nevertheless after a fair amount of coaxing he was induced to go South with Parsons and three other men.  At this point their names are irrelevant.  The turnover in the crew had been extensive while Trueman had no interest in getting to know the new men.  Faces became a blur to him.

     Tijuana was less crude and vulgar on that night than it was on any other night.  All the other men with the exception of Trueman wanted to find a good whorehouse.  Trueman was of the opinion that there wasn’t any such thing expecially after his last experience.

     They were standing around on the street discussing the next move when they were approached by a cab driver trying to drum up business.

     It is a sad town where cab drivers don’t know all the vice dens.  To be sure, this cab driver knew of a wonderful place but he would have to be trusted because it was some distance from town out on the plateau.

page 1614

     The news of I.P. Rivers body having been washed up on the rocks off the Tijuana coast had just become known.  Rivers was only one of several bodies found over the last few weeks.  Trueman had no idea of the significance of Rivers’ death for himself as all extraneous events are shrouded in clouds but he was next on Dagger’s list.  Trueman had no use for Tijuana and wanted to leave; he was overruled.  He went along.

     The cab driver headed out over the large flat plateau for several miles until all signs of human habitation had disappeared.  There was nothing but daunting desert.

     The boys were getting fairly anxious as nothing passing for a whorehouse was in sight.

     Trueman, every ready to expect the worst, could see them all rolling in the surf.  The cab driver left the road driving out onto the plateau stopping before a deep arroyo which began a couple miles back toward Tijuana broadening out into a wide deep gully at the mouth of which could be seen the broad Pacific Ocean.

     The others remained trusting but Trueman thought the time for action had come, expecially as the cab driver flashed his lights as a signal.

     ‘All right, you guys.  This guy takes us back to town right now or else.  I’ll punch him in the back of the head while one of you guys opens the door and shoves him out.  Get behind the wheel and let’s get out of here before anyone else shows up.

     Now, take us back, Cabbie.’

 page 1615.

     The driver swallowed hard hoping his confederates would appear.  He wasn’t ready to give up.  He said he thought he had the wrong place.

     ‘No, senors.  That’s alright.  I thing I got the wrong place.  Further up…’

     ‘No.  Not further up.  Back to Tijuana now if you want to get back alive.’  Trueman threatened.

     The driver was all brass; he appealed to the others over Trueman’s head but by this time most had realized the driver’s game.  Still attempting to persuade them of his mythical whorehouse he drove protesting all the way back to town.

     ‘Enough for me; I’m leaving.’  Trueman said matter-of-factly as they got out of the car.  ‘I’ve had enough of this place, I’m not coming back.’

     From the Roses Of Old Japan to an empty field in Tijuana Dewey had seen as much of whore houses as he would ever see.  The first had been the best.  From then on it had been a progressive slide to nothing.  Enough was enough.  Nor could Trueman ever be persuaded to go South again.  Attempts were made to get him to down to Ensenada, fifty miles down the coast where ‘the real Mexico’ was but he could see himself getting stranded in Ensenada too far from the border for safety.  He wasn’t a drinker and he wasn’t a brawler; he left Mexico to the desperadoes.

page 1616.

Banker Trueman

     The opportunity to implicate Trueman in illegal activities presented by Screw and Easy and their punch board had set Morford’s mind to working.  His recent elevation to acting Executive Officer expanded his opportunities.  There was one less check on him.  With the integrity of Sieggren removed he felt more confidence in being able to manipulate Captain Gabriel Ratches.

     There was a practice common throughout the Navy that was frowned on but seldom acted against.  This was the practice of banking or loan sharking depending on which side of the fence you were.

     The least provident of the sailors who had spent their pay but wished to revel in the space between when their cash ran out and the next payday would borrow at what appeared to be sensationally exorbitant rates.  Six for five was prevalent throughout the fleet but on the Teufelsdreck the going rate was seven for five.  In other words if you borrowed five dollars three, two or even one day before payday you undertook to return seven.

     As with all weak willed persons the borrowers reviled the lenders.  To become a banker to some extent was to become a pariah.  Nevertheless wherever there are borrowers willing to make such a seemingly generous return there are sure to be lenders.

page 1617.

     Dewey was aware that there were one or two bankers aboard but as he husbanded his resources carefully to get from payday to payday he had no need for their services nor did the inclination to reward them so handsomely appear desirable to his mind.

     But now interested parties showed up to encourage Trueman to undertake the role of banker.  He was adverse to the proposal.  He was the sort that felt guilty when he didn’t pay his debts but having observed his shipmates carefully for nearly two years he had come to the conclusion that he was unique.

     He wasn’t big enough and tough enough to act as his own enforcer and he wasn’t going to share his earnings, if any, with anyone who was.

     Besides he wasn’t stupid.  To enforce is to engage in violence or the threat of violence.  To his observation anyone who did so sooner or later ran afoul of the law.    But beyond his ken the thing became somewhat of a joke others trying to lure him into it for reasons of their own.

     He was assured by various and sundry that collecting would be no problem because anyone who didn’t pay wouldn’t be able to borrow again.   This was true and persuasive to Trueman who didn’t follow the reasoning to the end that having burned him once they would willingly forfeit the chance to cheat him twice.

     Nevertheless he was given good advice:  Always lend to the chronically improvident.  They have to pay because they know they will need the service again.  Good advice but seed that falls on unprepared ground never returns a good crop.  Dewey’s mind wasn’t attuned to the niceties of banking nor did he know who the least provident were.

page 1618

     He had no fear of incurring the displeasure of those who were already displeased with him.  And, once again, as he looked around he saw only firendships of convenience while nearly everyone seemed to despise everyone else.  He didn’t care whether they liked him or not.

     With the optimistic vision that was characteristic of him his mind turned the twenty dollars he was willing to venture into returns of hundreds of dollars within a few short months.  That could have been done but not by Dewey.

     While the other bankers were very discreet about the services they offered Dewey was blatant.  He saw nothing immoral with it as, indeed, there wasn’t.  He therefore saw no reason to disguise his activity.

     He loaned out twenty-five dollars in all.  Two of the loans went out to the terminally improvident which prompthly returned him fourteen dollars.

     One of the men in on the joke was Van Wye, another was Red Hanrahan.  Dewey was reluctant to lend to Van Wye who he knew much better than to trust, but he reluctantly gave in.  He also didn’t want to lend to Hanrahan who was among the toughest men on board, if not the toughest.  Dewey saw no possiblity of collecting if Red didn’t want to pay.  Red took ten.

     As he feared, Van Wye refused to pay, that is put him off.  Red Hanrahan also had excuses why he needed the money longer.  He refused to add the extra two dollars for the additional paydays.

page 1619.

      Now the joke got into full swing.  Without enforcement, collecting was reduced to a form of begging wihich was both comic to his detractors and uncomfortable if not humiliating to himself.  Displeased with the figure he was cutting to himself he terminated his career as Banker.

     Van Wye was transferred for discharge leaving Trueman high and dry with the promise that he would send him the money when he got back to San Francisco.  That was five dollars lost.

     Hanrahan kept putting him off until it was time for Dewey’s leave on December 13 when he took Dewey’s address and said that he would mail the money to him at home.

     So, as of December 13th Dewey had loaned out twenty-five and recovered fourteen.  Not a good record for a banker nor was the money he had loaned covered by the seemingly exorbitant rate of interest.  On the other hand his early discouragement  had kept Morford from being able to adduce loan sharking against him.

     There was more to it than that.  Morford would have to seek other opportunities.

     Bifrons himself was walking a narrow line.  Once back in the States he had taken up his gambling career in Las Vegas.  The high wild life had allure for him.  He was spending nearly every weekend in Vegas gambling, employing some really beautiful women for his pleasures, while watching Atom Bombs being exploded out in the desert at four in the morning through the windows of his hotel room.

page 1620

     The irony was that while he was trying to set Trueman up for loan sharking he was leaving a mounting debt of IOUs with the Mafia loansharks of Vegas.  Those guys were much more effective enforcers than Trueman would ever have dreamed of being.

Duelin’ Dalton Daggers Rides Again

     Showbaby Zion following his boss’s orders had checked out the desperado, Dalton Dagger.  The man was found to be a gun for hire.  Yisraeli had instructed Showbaby to have Dagger meet him at the Diamond Horseshoe.  Not content to merely bring Dagger to the Horseshoe, Yehouda arranged to have one of his homo accomplices bring Trueman on the same night so he could be pointed out to Dagger.

     Our Lady considered himself a clever and powerful man.  Oddly he didn’t adopt the role of Mastermind he only thought himself very smart.  Then as now there was a fairly sizable group of unsuccessful men who pulled strings behind the scenes as Masterminds.  They would try to control the floor of, say, a supermarket, directing the employees for their own ends against the interests of the successful men who ran the market.  Or they might control a ring of ‘operatives’ to harass and injure anyone they had developed a spite for; perhaps to break down a man or woman so that the victims would have sexual relations with the Mastermind to get rid of him.

     Yisraeli and Showbaby were sitting at a table against the wall so as to have a clear vision of the door.  The door opened to disclose a ferocious looking Trueman accompanied by Yisraeli’s appointed cicerone, Yale Hardy.  Both were dressed in civilian clothes.  Trueman had on his charcoal flannels and light grey lamb’s wool sweater pulled over a pink butttoned down Oxford cloth shirt; just as though he were back at high school in his home town.

     On his feet he had his Pat Boone white bucks.  They had now been so stretched by the repeated clandestine use of Joe McLean that they were three sizes too big for him, flapping loosely and ludicrously around his feet.  They had now been smudged and discolored to the point where the powder sachet would no longer obliterate the discoloration.  He should have thrown them out but even though a Privileged White Boy he didn’t have the money for a new pair.

     Although well meaning men from Operations had explained to him why the shoes were stretched and discolored but Dewey refused to believe that his friend, McLean, would so such a thing although they had no reason to lie to him.  In fact they were trying to wake him up to protect himself.

     Trueman’s so-called friend, Joe McLean, had observed the combination of Dewey’s lock and routinely wore whatever of Trueman’s that fit while Trueman was aboard.  As a criminal McLean disregarded Trueman’s rights having had the shoes stretched to fit his own feet.

page 1622.

     What another man would have considered friendship and loyalty, McLean considered simplicity.  He could barely restrain himself from laughing at Trueman whenever he was around him. 

      Thus Trueman’s attitude was exacerbated by these absurd shoes which he had trouble keeping on his feet.  He had been unwilling to come all the way to Escondido for an evening but Yale Hardy had promised him that the Diamond Horseshoe was quite a place.

     Trueman was immediately enraged when he realized that he had been brought to a low class strip joint.  As Yisraeli watched with bright and glowing hatred Trueman turned on Hardy:  ‘This is nothing but some degenerate strip joint, Hardy.’  Trueman said much too loudly.  ‘The broad’s not even good looking.  Look she’s skinny as a rail with sagging boobs.’

     Overhearing this, the piano player slowed to a pale tinkle; the fat bartender glared at him balefully while the stripper flipped him the bird.

     ‘Hah! To you too.  C’mon Hardy drive me back.’

     Looking at Yisraeli Hardy saw him shake his head no.

     ‘You’ll have to make it back on your own Trueman, I’m staying.’

     ‘Bull, man.  You got me out here to this godforsaken place, now get me back.’

     ‘Uh uh.’  Hardy hummed shaking his head no.

     ‘Well, don’t bother to ask me to go anywhere with you again.’  Trueman said stepping back into the night to find his way to San Diego as best he could.

page 1623.

     Hardy shrugged his shoulders at Yisraeli stepping to the bar  ordered a drink.  His Tom Collins had just been placed before him when the door of the Horseshoe was flung violently open.  The usual sparse crowd looked up in anticipation.  The bouncer stood erect.  For a moment no one entered as everyone waited with bated breath.  Then a savage form stepped over the threshold in a belligerent posture.

     ‘Duelin’ Dalton Daggerz is here.’  The form announced in a defiantly abrasive brazen manner as if to challenge everyone in the place on the spot.  No one got up to answer the challenge.

     Yisreali and Showbaby who had been talking over their drinks stared in disbelief.  The guy might be more than Our Lady had bargained for.  Yisraeli lowered his dark glasses for a moment to get a surer fix on this phenom then stood up and called him over.

     ‘Hello, Duelin’ Dalton Dagger,  I’m Barry.  I think you know this fellow he said indicating Showbaby.  He had forgotten the name Zion had used in his interview with Dagger.

     ‘Hi.  Morrie.’  Showbaby reintroduced himself covering for Yisraeli.

     Dagger grunted derisively.

     ‘Is your name Dagger or Daggers as you announced upon your entrance.  Perhaps I’ve been incorrectly informed it was in the singular.’

     Yisraeli’s question was both too poiitely put and too literate for the illiterate ex-Marine.  Dagger failed to understand it so he snarled defensively:  My name is whatever I say it is, Jack.’

     ‘To be sure, uh, to be sure, Duelin’ Dalton Daggers.’  Our Lady said in wonderment, looking sideways at Showbaby.

     ‘What’ll you have Dalton?  I’m buying.  Morrie and I have to go to the toilet.  Back in a minute.’

     ‘Damn right you’ll buy.  I’m only here because you asked me to.  I’ll have  two JD’s on the rocks.  Pronto!’

     ‘OK, why not just have a double?’

     ‘Double, hell, give me a triple.’

     ‘Al, a triple JD on the rocks for our friend here.’  Yehouda called across to the bartender with a wink.

     As Yisraeli and Showbaby disappeared into the toilet they could hear Dalton shouting at the exotic dancer:  ‘Hey, nice tits, honey.  Do a couple turns clockwise and then a couple the other way.  Better yet get each one going in the opposite directions for me.’

     She was delighted at Dalton’s manner, quickly shimmying each one in different directions to Dalton’s hooting delight.

     ‘Oh my god.  You didn’t tell me we were dealing with a wild man.’  Yisraeli gasped to Showbaby.

     ‘Well, my god, he was rough when I talked to him but I didn’t have any idea he was like this.  My god, what a ridiculous entrance.’

     ‘What I mean is, do you really think we can use him?  It would be disastrous if anything came back to us?’

     ‘Sure, Yehouda, but we aren’t going to find a ‘gentleman’ to do this.  You kind of have to take them as they come.  Besides, if everything goes right they won’t be able to trace it back to you.  We use phony names, pay him in cash, he does the job somewhere out on the highway.  Years pass before it’s discovered, if at all, and we’re home free.  I say he’s perfect just because he is so crazy.  Who whould ever believe him?  Who can believe him?  I don’t right now.’

page 1625

     ‘Yeah.  Well, all the other considerations are too perfect and won’t come around again so it’s take this guy or miss the chance.  Maybe you’re right.  Let’s go.’

     ‘I put another triple on your tab, bud.  By the way, what’s your name again?’  Dalton said belligerently and provocatively testing Yesraeli to see if he could come up with the same name two times running.  Yisraeli was rattled and couldn’t.

     Yisraeli shook his head.  It was like this guy had just come in and they would have to start over.  Yisraeli made a classic mistake.  He had overestimated himself and underestimated Dagger.

     ‘OK.  Let’s start over.  Cornelius, Mr. Dagger, John Cornelius.  If you didn’t get Bill’s last name it’s Chrovane.  He’s Italian.’

     ‘Italians suck.  What do you want with me?’

     Yisraeli was taken back by the bluntness of Dalton’s observation.

     ‘Say, you’re a pretty tough guy.’  Yehouda said.

     ‘You don’t know the half of it, Bird.  Look in the dictionary under tough and you’ll find a little picture of me beside it.’  Dalton gave a knowing leer expecting laughter to follow his trite cleverness.  It did.

     ‘Just how tough are you, Duelin Dalton Daggerz?  Ever backed down in a fight?’

     ‘Hey…’  Dalton raised a fist at Yisraeli.

     ‘Just a question, Dalton, just curious.  It’s important that we know, if we employ you.  We have to be sure that you’re tough enough to be our man.’

     ‘Hell no, I ain’t never backed down in a fight.  I just got out of the brig for damn near stompin’ a sergeant to death.  Didn’t I?  Crane here knows that, I thought that was why you wanted to see me.’

     In his egocentricity in testing Dagger, Our Lady, as usual in these cases assumed that he was intelligent and Dalton stupid.  Thus he failed to notice that he failed Dagger’s test in failing to correct him in misstating Showbaby’s pseudonym.  In fact Dagger had kept a log of the various name changes.  He now knew he was dealing with duplicitous men who couldn’t be trusted.  In other words, they might double cross him before he could double cross them.

     ‘Yes, of course, that’s it.  You say you almost beat the sergeant to death?’

     ‘Yeah.  I would have if they hadn’t pulled me off of him.’

     ‘You think then that you could really kill a man?’

     ‘Yeah, I could.’  Dagger said with a mysterious mocking smile as though intending Yisraeli to assume that he already had.

     ‘I mean…uh…in cold blood?  Not in the heat of the moment but…I mean…with cool calculation?’

     ‘I make my own heat wherever I go.’  Dagger spat out contempuously.  ‘I’m not stupid.  I know what you mean.’

     Yisraeli should have heeded the meaning behind the I’m not stupid.  Dalton looked Our Lady in the eye, his lower lip drooped and he said:  ‘I could kill you right here, right now and it wouldn’t bother me a bit.’

     There was a certain sincerety in Dagger’s tone that reduced Yehouda to silence.

     Showbaby picked it up saying less insultingly and more diplomatically:  ‘Do you think you could kill someone for money?’

     ‘Special for money.’  Dagger’s eyes lit up at the thought of being a hired gun.  In his own perverted way he saw himself as Shane or Hondo.

     ‘Well, maybe we can work things out.’  Showbaby replied.

     ‘Maybe.  You got the money, I got the time.’

     ‘When I talked to you last you said you were from Bay City, Michigan and you were going back, right?’

     ‘You callin’ me a liar?’  Duelin’ Dalton said fixing an eye on Showbaby.

     ‘Hell no, I’m not calling you a liar.  You just said your name was whatever you said it was so I just figured you’re from wherever you say you are.  I was just checking to see if you still came from the same place, that’s all.  Simmer down.’

     ‘Yeah, OK, you’re right.  So what?’

     ‘There’s somebody that’s been giving me trouble for a long time.  I want to put a stop to it.  Yisraeli reentered.

     ‘So?’

     ‘He’s from the Valley, fifteen miles before you get to Bay City.  He’s in the Navy here and he’s going back home on leave real quick.  I think he’s been talked into hitchhiking back.  If someone picked him up on the highway, snuffed him and burried his body somewhere out there no one would ever know and it would be worth something to me.’

     ‘How much something?’  Dagger demanded in a knowingly belligerent way.

     Yisraeli as usual was going to try to finesse something for nothing so he said:  ‘How much do you think would be right?’    He expecterd Dagger to mention one or two hundred dollars.

     Dalton didn’t hesitate:  ‘One hundred thousand dollars.’

     ‘A hun…no, no man.  Nobody gets paid a houndred thou for this sort of thing.’  Showbaby remonstrated.

     ‘I do.’  Dagger said hopefully.

     ‘No, Dalton, listen to me.  If this guy were important and difficult to get to, maybe, ten thousand.  But we’re going to set this whole thing up for you.  All you have to do is pick him up drive him into the desert and off him.’

     ‘If he ain’t important to you why you want him killed?’

     There was a certain powerful logic to Dalton’s question.

     ‘He is important to me, but only to me.  Listen Dalton, three Gs is tops.’

     Dalton sat silently for a moment.  He was torn between a desire for a lot of money and the feeling of superiority that comes from taking another man’s life; you’ve fucked him and you’ve fucked him for good.

     ‘I want five thousand dollars cash on the barrelhead, son.’  He said subdued and sullen.

     ‘I’ll give you four Dalton.  Two down and two when you’ve finished it.’

     ‘Yeah.  But, see, I’m the one goes to the chair if I get caught.’

     ‘Who’s going to catch you, Dalton?  Middle of the night you pull into a side road, szzzt, bury the body and that’s it.’  Yisraeli had an inspiration.  ‘Besides, he’s going on leave.  He’s sure to have a couple hundred extra on him.  Take it.  It’s all yours.  We don’t want any of it.’

     ‘Couple hundred? ‘  At the thought of plundering his victim Duelin’ Dalton’s savage brain forgot the big money and concentrated on the change.  ‘Yeah?  Well, maybe…’

     ‘Done.  It’s a deal.  Right?  Shake, buddy.’

     Dalton shook on it, downed another triple.  He walked out forgetting to get his two grand down.  Our Lady chuckled sure he could chump Dalton out of all but a fraction.

Painting By The Numbers

     The February discharge date of Blaise Pardon was looming largely on his horizon.  Pardon concealed his desire but he desperately wanted to make Chief before he left.  What the hell, they were going to retire him as a Chief, what difference would it make if he was made Chief for his last couple months just to flatter him?  His yearning to bunk in the Chief’s quarters became a burning desire now that he knew it could never be attained.

 

     

    

 

  

    

    

 

 

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 6

 

     The pimp stood against the wall at the head of the narrow staircase.

     ‘Get out of here.’ He cried slapping Dewey weakly on the shoulder.

     Dewey wasn’t about to start anything in that crowd so he brushed past him half running half falling down the stairs.

     Once at the bottom his rage overflowed.

     ‘Get your ass down here you goddamned pimp.  Come on and act tough down here limp dick.’

     The pimp preferred acting tough in a secure situation, he wasn’t about to come down the stairs.  At the sounds of Dewey’s angry voice a couple denizens of the alley moved toward Dewey with seeming hostile intent.

     Dewey was steaming:  ‘Get back into your holes unless you’re really looking for trouble.’  Dewey sternly ordered.

     Parsons stepped up to back him up while McLean as usual hung back.  The Mexicans retreated.

     ‘How was it?’  McLean asked with a knowing smile.

     ‘Considering she used her hand, terrific.’

     ‘Used her hand?’  McLean said continuing to smile.  ‘No wonder you’re mad.’

     ‘No, it wasn’t that.  She probably saved me from a dose; it was that obnoxious pimp trying to push me around while I was inconvenienced.  Reminded me of you, Joe.’  Dewey said with a laugh slapping an uncomfortable McLean on the back.  ‘Where the hell is Kreskin anyway?”

page 1531.

     ‘He’s in that bar right there.’  McLean said pointing to a building which curiously enough to Dewey was only a few paces away.

     ‘You go ahead.  Me and Parsons are going to look for some nooky.’

     ‘Don’t bother with whore upstairs.’  Dewey called over his shoulder as he opened the door to the bar.

     The bar was empty save for Kreskin and the bartender.  The bar had the frontier look common to Tijuana.  The place was an entrepot for pillheads.  Kreskin was now a full fledged heroin addict supplementing his addiction with a variety of downers.  The pills also helped him over anxious moments when it was inappropriate to shoot his heroin aboard ship.

     Kreskin was no longer seen in the shower line where his tracks openly betrayed his habit.  Affluent from his share of the drug money he went over most nights to stay at a hotel.

     Trueman took a seat to wait out the time for the return.

     ‘What’ll you have?’  The bartender called across the room.

     ‘Nothing.’  Dewey replied sitting patiently with hands crossed in his lap.

     ‘What’s wrong with your friend?’  The bartender crossly asked Kreskin.  ‘This isn’t a library; he can’t just sit there.’

     Kreskin, who for a guy on downers was very restless, came over to Trueman.  ‘Bartender thinks you should order something.’

     ‘I told you I wasn’t going to spend any money, Kreskin.’

     ‘You could spring for a drink.  You’re going to be saving money this weekend.’

page 1532.

     ‘How am I going to be saving money this weekend?’

     ‘I’m going to give you a ride up to Oakland so you’ll save whatever you would spend on the road.’

     ‘You’re giving me a ride up to Oakland?  Oh, I did not know that.’

     Trueman unknown to himself had created quite a stir aboard ship by taking the long hike to Oakland.  Twelve hundred miles on a weekend is in fact a long way to go but Trueman in his anxiety to get away had only considered the feasibility not the distance.  Screw and Easy had actually given odds on his ability to cover the dinstance on time the first trip.  Most people wanted to bet he wouldn’t.  So, as the house, the Golddust Twins had to bet he would.  Although everyone thought they were fools they had given two to one and in some cases three to one odds.  Needless to say they had cleaned up in a modest way.  Even Bifrons Morford, the inveterate gamble, dropped a five.

     Trueman’s success had excited a lot of speculation on how far you could hitchhike over a weekend.  Trueman’s repeated trips got Kayo and Soter involved in the notion of weekly dope runs.  The money was very good.  Thus Kayo was in Tijuana setting up a marijuana purchase.  Fearing the border after the first close call Soter had arranged with a lawyer friend of his dad’s with a pirate mentality in Coronado to take delivery by boat in Coronado transferring the load to Kayo’s Edsel.

     As Kayo considered Trueman as his personal good luck charm he intended to have him ride along.  Not that Trueman was a good luck charm but one was certainly needed on the run from the border to LA.  There were numbers of desperadoes running marijuana from T town to LA.  A lot of it traveled up 101.  In a bid to intercept the traffic the police set up roadblocks heading north where cars were stopped and searched indiscriminately.  During the first sweeps the cops literally stopped every car on the road.  This held up traffic to the point where the complaints overrode the utility.  Subsequently cars were stopped apparently at random.  Thus Kayo had need of a good luck charm.

page 1533.

     ‘Yeah.  I havn’t told you yet but I watched you hitch to Oakland for the last few weeks; you seem to think it’s worth it so I figure why don’t I go home on weekends.  How long does it take?’

     ‘Without delays for catching a ride?  Oh, I don’t know.  Twelve hours non-stop.  You going to give me a ride back too?’

     ‘Sure. Of course.  What time is best for leaving the Bay Area?

     ‘Well, I leave at four on Sunday which just barely gives me enough time to get back so depending on how long it takes you to get from Mill Valley I would say you wanted to be out of Oakland no later six or six-thirty.’

     ‘That’s not bad.  So are you going to buy a drink?’

     ‘No.  You see Kreskin I don’t spend any money on the road so I won’t be saving any.’

     ‘You make the whole trip without spending a dime?’

     ‘Sure.  Unless something comes up I never spend more than maybe three dollars all weekend.’

page 1534.

     Kreskin’s eyes bugged out.  ‘You can’t even eat on that much.’

     ‘Not much anyway.  I have a hamburg and fries on Saturday afternoon and that’s it.’

     ‘Jesus.’  Kreskin said in astonishment shaking his head.  ‘Here.  Let me buy you a drink.’

     ‘OK.  Coke.’

     ‘How about a whiskey?’  Kreskin called.

     ‘Don’t drink, not going to start.  Smoking’s bad enough.’

     Kreskin brought the Coke over.

     ‘Oh yeah.  Smoking.  That’s something some of the guys wanted me to talk to you about.  They say you never have your own.  You’re always bumming and they’re tired of it.’

     ‘Oh, gee.  That’s too bad.’

     ‘That’s too bad?  Is that it?’

     ‘Look, Kreskin, let me tell you how it is.  That ship is nothing but a bunch of thieves, cheats, crooks and leeches.  You can tell them I said so if they don’t already know.

     The only reason I smoke is because Dieter won’t give you the work breaks you’re entitled to because he thinks they’re called smoke breaks so you have to smoke.  OK?  I was forced into doing what I didn’t want to do.  I smoke.

     Now, I’m the kind of guy that likes his own so every payday I bought a carton of Pall Malls.  the same guys who are calling me a leech used to bum packs, not cigarettes, full packs from me on payday on the way to my locker.  Then, they said a good guy would let them have a pack.  I used to get to my locker with only four or five packs left out of a carton.

     Then when I asked them to let me have a pack they just laughed up their sleeves at me, or rather, down their collar.  This went on for several paydays until I got tired of it.  Now I don’t buy ’em, I bum ’em.  I figure I’ve given out maybe thirty packs.  At seven for five I’m due forty two packs plus a penalty.  Until I get those back you can forget me buying my own.  The way I see it the ship’s debt won’t be paid until four months after my enlistment ends so forget me buying my own.  Tell them that.’

     ‘Sounds like bullshit to me, Trueman.’

     ‘Doesn’t matter to me what it sounds like to you.  It’s god’s own truth.  If they learn to be honest those guys will be treated honest.’

     The door opened admitting McLean and Parsons.  They all left.  To Trueman’s immense relief there was no trouble at the border.

Riding In Style

     Having a ride up to Oakland didn’t mean as much to Trueman as having a secure ride back.  It mattered little at what exact time he arrived in the North but it mattered a great deal at what precise moment he returned.  He had been getting back in time by just one uncomfortable hair.

page 1536.

     Trueman was not an adept at recognizing drug users but the fuzzy hazy manner of Kreskin as they entered the parking lot to get in the Edsel made him wonder what was wrong with Kreskin.

     Kreskin pulled into a gas station on the city limits to gas up.  Gas was plentiful and cheap in the late fifties.  The joy of freedom a car gave people who might not have been able to afford a car a few years earlier made everyone careless of gas.  Gas station lots were covered with it.  Attendants activiated the pump before they got the nozzle in the tank splashing some down the side of the car and out on the ground as they finished.  Nearly every car had a gas streak from the cover down the fender.  These were high old times, for those who had eyes to see, with or without drugs.  It is hard to describe how high expectations were.  A car made one totally independent of control; being able to waste the means of that independence gave one an exhilarating feeling.

     Kreskin, who had told Trueman he was better that he in Yokosuka, still believed it and wanted Trueman to acknowledge his superiority.  Trueman in his turn had looked down on Kreskin since Hong Kong; he had no intention of assuming an inferior role now.  Kreskin tried to get an edge in his mind on Trueman before the trip began.

     In an attempt to display some scientific knowledge, as the car was fueled, he knelt down and extended his little finger and thumb between the pavement and bumper saying:  ‘Look how heavy this gas is.  It lowers the car this far.’

page 1537.

     As Kreskin spoke, Trueman, who was as ‘scientific’ as anyone let his eye rove over the other cars in the lot of which there were several.  This was a big station with twelve double pump islands.  Comparing Kreskin’s car with the others it was obvious that Kayo’s car was several inches lower than any other.

     ‘Yeah, but why is it so low, Kreskin?’

     Looking up and over from his kneeling position contemptuous of Trueman’s intelligence in his superiority Kreskin replied:  ‘Gas is just that heavy, Trueman.’

     Trueman caught the superior tone:  ‘Sure gas is heavy Kreskin.  But why is your gas heavier than anyone else’s?’  Look at that Chevy that just filled up; the rear end doesn’t sag like yours and this is a new car too.’

      Then Trueman displaying some ‘science’ caught on.  ‘What else do you have in the car Kreskin?’  You must already have something as heavy as the gas or your rearend wouldn’t sag so much.  What is it?’

     His mind dulled by drugs and arrogance Kreskin was caught off guard as his finger and thumb seemed to weld to their contacts.  He slowly got up.

     ‘Nothin’.  C’mon, let’s go.  Get in.’

     Thankful for the ride, Trueman didn’t persist nor did he wonder long.  He leaned back to enjoy his rocket ride through the night.  As with his life Kreskin pushed the Edsel to the limit maintaining a steady ninety to a hundred per.

     The towers of the recently built addition to Disneyland flashed by on the left.  They flew over the Stack amidst a dazzling display of lights racing up the Hollywood Freeway to Lankerhshim Boulevard.  It was a pleasure for Dewey to cruise along with elbow out the window like he was dragging the strip rather than mooching rides.

page 1538.

     Once on the Grapevine Kreskin eased out and let that Edsel roll.  This was the era when the horsepower race shifted into high gear.  In the late forties and early fifties the engines had been small and not machined to the point where they could sustain high speed or great distances.  The modern car really began in ’55 when prosperity was so assured that people would buy the big V8s rather than in line sixes.  They could afford all the extras and the gas that went with them.  The cars themselves became gargantuan while the engines that propelled them became immense moving out of the two hundred horsepower range through the three hundreds all the way to four-oh-nine.  The common man was given unlimited power but not the freedom to enjoy it.  The speed limits denied the use of the power but still, it was said, i’ts there if you need it for passing.  More aggressive types longed for a US autobahn on which there were no limits.

     The Edsel was a marvel as it raced up a nearly vacant 99.

     ‘If you’re going this fast why don’t you use the fast lane?’  Trueman asked.

     Kreskin gave him a superior look as he condescendingly explained:  ‘The cops think that if you’re in the fast lane you must be going fast whether you are or not.  If you’re in the slow lane no matter how fast you’re going they think you’re going slow.  So, when there’s no traffic drive fast in the slow lane.’

page 1539.

     ‘Aw, c’mon, the cops aren’t that dumb.’

     ‘Maybe not but that’s the way the system works.’

     Trueman nodded condescendingly but sneered inwardly at the simplicity of Kreskin’s belief.  In later years Trueman would learn to his cost that Kreskin did know what he was talking about.  The cops were that dumb.

     Kreskin had been following the car ahead of him for the last fifty miles or so to take advantage of his headlights.  In the night time at high speeds you overdrove your headlights all the way.  Being behind someone gave you relief from the stress of anxious alertness.  For those accustomed to the rules of the road the cars alternated every fifty miles or so.  The former lead car could then relax a little.

     Kreskin pulled out to pass the lead at which the driver fell back to let Kreskin take the lead.  The two cars sped through the night in tandem alternating until the other driver turned off at Merced giving Kreskin the high sign through his open window.

     ‘Wow.  This is really some car for being so ugly.’  Dewey said impressed by the speed and ride.

     ‘This piece of crap?’  Kreskin replied.  The better things got for people the more they complained.  That was the paradox of 1958-74, the greatest era the world ever knew.  ‘I wouldn’t drive it if I didn’t have to.  I’d get me a nifty little red MG and show some class.’

page 1540.

     ‘MGs can’t cost more than this Edsel.’  Dewey stated thinking price was holding Kreskin up.

     ‘It’s not the money, it’s…’  Kreskin began thumbing toward the back then catching himself lapsed into a silence that lasted until he dropped Dewey off on East 14th.

     ‘Now, you’re going to be right here around six to six-thirty.  I can count on it.’  Dewey admonished.  ‘Otherwise I can’t get back on time.’

     ‘You can count on me.’  Kreskin said as he drove away to enter the Nimitz Freeway leading to the Bay Bridge, through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Waldo Grade tunnel and into Mill Valley.

      Mill Valley is really in a valley surrounded by high hills.  It was actually a mill town until they cut the Redwoods down.  It was the prestige place to live in Marin County and the equal of any other prestige place in the Bay Area.  If you lived in Mill Valley you weren’t on the way you were already there.  The road in forms a cul-de-sac at the end of the valley.  Soter lived three quarters of the way up the hill in a house that cost him seventy-five thousand dollars in 1954. Today the house would be worth three to five million.

     The advent of dope money had increased Soter’s standard of living incredibly.  He could now have all the appurtenances of money he craved.  Import cars did not yet dominate the market.  Anyone who had a Mercedes would have been an eccentric who preferred German automobiles.

      If available at all the cars of the Japanese invasion which took Detroit by such surprise was just beginning.

page 1541.

     Thus Soter and Guinevere had brand new matching Cadillac El Dorados which was the most expensive car money could buy in America.  They were kind of gawdy.  They were the car of choice for African Americans.  Americas are so bigoted that they always place Blacks in a separate racial category rather than including them in a social category.  This attitude complicates simple matters making them difficult to discuss.

     As the Blacks were lower on the economic scale of success like a numerically larger segment of Whites they tended to covet the appurtenances of wealth that they could ill afford just like lesser affluent Whites.  They went for big diamonds, jewels, clothes and cars of the most conspicuous and flashy sort.

     Blacks had always cherished Cadillacs but beginning in 1954, I believe, when Caddies had the upturned fins at the end of the back fender the Caddies seemed to be tailored to appeal to the most nouveau of the nouveau riches which is why the body styles of the ’50s reflected those needs.

     The ’55s and 56s really blossomed but they were still small cars relative to the 58s and 59s.

     I can tell you that these were mind blowing models at the time.  When you first saw one your moth gaped open like the Grand Canyon.

     By ’58 they were monsters a block long loaded with chrome, sporting gigantic fins.  the ’59 had the biggest fin of all with the double globe taillights perched up on the fins like pairs of gonads.  The nouveaux had never been treated so well.

page 1542.

     The gawdier they became the more the Blacks loved them.  By the ’59 model it seemed that three out four Cadillacs were driven by Blacks.

     Thus they came to epitomize Black taste almost as if they were designed especially for them.  Thus a lot of people thought Caddies were ‘nigger’ cars which no self-respecting White person would drive.  They couldn’t say it just that way though.

     There is nothing racially or socially comparable today.  You really had to have been there to appreciate it.  The rise of the German Mercedes was the result of affluent Whites shifting their allegiance from Cadillac to something not linked with Negroes, although they like to deny it now.

     Soter wanted the top of the line and if Cadillac was it he didn’t care who else drove it.  He was a nouveau riche himself.

     Soter was on a buying binge.  Some signficant artists had replaced the former pictures on his walls.  Soter wanted to be modern so he had many pitures he neither understood nor liked by people like Pollock, Johns and Warhol.  He got the originals cheap but, boy, did he make out like a bandit as time went by.

     His library too had expanded into a great, not magnificent, but great collection of leather bound books.  They were more to satisfy a psychological need because Soter’s law practice obviated any time he had for reading.

     Of course he had all the gadgets but compared to the enormous range of gadgets today that amonted to very little although he did have the top of the line component phonograph.  No microwaves, no computers, hand held devices, no electronics.  All that started arriving in the late seventies.

page 1543.

     Soter had the biggest TV money could buy but that didn’t go by the size of the screen, 21″ was maximum, but the size of the cabinet.  Soter and Kayo were seated before it on Saturday night in earnest conversation concerning the roadblocks on 101.

     As they talked a documentary on the Nazi death camps flickered across the screen.

     ‘You mean they just stop cars at random or all the cars?’  Soter asked as the screen showed a huge mound of emaciated naked dead bodies.

      ‘I haven’t actually seen one but I’ve been told that they seem to have tips and wave certain cars over.’  Kayo explained as a bulldozer pulled up behind the mountain of bodies plowing into them twisting and crushing limbs into pulp.

     ‘A.  I don’t think that’s constitutional and B. If you get stopped I couldn’t protect you with the evidence on you.  I couldn’t stand seeing you sent to prison on the one hand while the trail of evidence would lead back to me on the other.’

     A big black plume of smoke belched from the stack of the bulldozer as it met the resistance of the massed bodies.

     ‘They probably won’t stop me; the Edsel’s a new car.  Most of the runners drive clunkers.’

     ‘Yes, but you might look too young to own a new car, so they might stop you anyway.  What about this fellow who rode up here with you?’

page 1544.

     The huge mass of bodies began to slide forward as some were heaped up from below while others gyrated off the top tumbling down the human slope or rolling off to the side as the bulldozer bored in.

     ‘Trueman?  No.  First he’s a simp who would blow everything at the first stress and second he’s absolutely anti drugs.  I conceal that I use from him.’

     Soter sat thinking for  a moment as the bulldozer toppled the bodies into a huge pit already filled with the mangled emaciated remains of people.  The driver rode out over the bodies tamping them down and leveling out before backing over those he missed to back them up against the blade as he shoved them toward the pit.

     ‘How about this other fellow that assisted you on the tuck and roll job?’

     ‘McLean?  Crooked as a snake but trustworthy for that reason.  Why?’

     Another mass of bodies bearing twisted limbs the size of sticks loomed up before the bulldozer.

     ‘There’s no reason for us to take risks when we can get suckers to take them for us.  We could use him for a mule, he’s expendable.’

     ‘Yeah, but he’s broke.  Doesn’t have a car.’

     ‘For two hundred he can get himself a ’50- ’51.  We’ll front him the money against payment for muling, shift the danger to him while I check to see if the ACLU is already working on this.  I’ll join and give them a few hundred to look into it if they aren’t already.’

page 1545.

     The scene on TV  cut from the buldozer and mounds of dead people to a long line of drooping emaciated figures with a bar of soap in their hands waiting in the snow for their turn to take a shower.

     ‘I’d always thought the ACLU was a pain in the ass until I see something outrageous like this.  The idea of stopping cars with no probable cause.  I’ll make sure that’s stopped before too long you can bet on that.  When I do you can resume deliveries but until then let this McLean fellow take the risks.’

      The announcer came on.  ‘Those are Jews.’  He said heavily accenting the word Jews.  ‘Those are Jews.  This was the greatest crime ever committed and simply because they were Jews.’

     ‘Poor bastards.’  Soter said popping a few peanuts in his mouth.

     ‘Yeah.  I feel sorry for ’em.’  Kayo said belching and blowing a fart as he got up to get another beer.

     ‘I don’t know that it makes great TV though.’  Soter said flopping back on the recliner to doze.

     Across the Bay Trueman threaded his way through the dark to Alton Clark’s house.  With the addition of Dennis Whatley to the group Trueman had begun to distance himself from Da Costa.  He had been introduced to the Clarks finding both of them suitable for friendship.  Having no place to sleep he cadged the use of Alton’s garage.  As it wasn’t used for the car Trueman had constructed a little pallet.  He let himself into the side door stretching out for a little rest before the sun came up.

page 1446.

     Dewey’s relationship with Louise Tricki was not yet so developed that he could spend his time with her but she was almost at the stage where in his high school days he would be ‘going steady.’  The term was now out of date.

     Dewey was the type of guy who needed a woman.  Not in the sexual sense alone but in the psychological sense of a living representative of his Anima.  Completeness involved the companionship of the feminine to complement his masculine.  The absence of the feminine in his life had been debilitating.

     His attentions to Louise were not honorable.  He did not see her as a life partner but he did want to have sexual relations.  Louise was by no means a virgin.  She was a troubled young girl who already had a past.

     She was not beautiful but not unattractive.  She had a taut well rounded body topped by a round Slavic face that was pleasant but couldn’t be called beautiful.

     Now a Senior she had as a Junior run away with a twenty-seven year old pervert.  She had been retrieved from Sacramento by her parents but not before the pervert had introduced her to a variety of sado-masochistic practices.  The results were devastating for Louise’s character.  Whether her elopement caused or only contributed to her malaise she was now burdened by a sad perversity.

     If Dewey had not had a reverence for the sanctity of womanhood he might easily had led her anywhere a man would want to go.  Without being wanton, she even encouraged him to do so.  She perhaps even wanted to be abused.

page 1547.

     As usual the causes could attributed to her parents, not her boy friends.  She was in rebellion against them.

     When Dewey arrived at the Tricki hom, Dick and Marti Tricki were seated at the kitchen table drinks before them watching TV.  The house was modest, merely a thousand square feet out toward 98th on the East side of East 14th on Merlin Street.  The street was five blocks long of these depressing little houses without trees or flowers in front.  The barren yards perfectly reflected the barren minds of the people who lived in them.

     The Tricki’s were equally depressed and depressing.  Between them, Louise and Dewey it was a pretty depressing group.

     Dick Tricki owned a little bar downtown.  The bar provided a decent living but more importantly Dick got his liquor cheap.  He and Marti were full blown alcoholics.  Every waking moment was spent with a drink before them.  The two of them spent their time as they did this evening:  sitting motionless in their kitchen chairs looking silently at each other while the TV set flickered in front of them to the quiet drone of the announcer.

     Dewey had not yet met Louise’s parents so after chatting for an hour or so on the tiny concrete porch Dewey was taken in and introduced.  Dewey always tried to be cheerful  and actually believed he was.  His degree of cheerfulness may be compared to the third step from the bottom leading out of the basement.  Even as depressed as the East Bay was Dewey made it look good.

     He was  offered a drink.

page 1548.

     ‘I’m only twenty; besides I don’t drink.’

     ‘Twenty is old enough for us and you will drink when you find out what life is really like.’

     ‘Plenty of time for that.’  Dewey said diplomatically.

    ‘When you do, let me give you a tip.  Always drink Scotch.  A man can drink Scotch all his life and it will only make him stronger.  Gin, Vodka, Bourbon none of them have any value.  Believe me, I own a bar and I’ve watched the effect of various liquors on a lot of people.  Scotch is the ticket; the others will lay you in your grave.  Believe me.

      So you’re in love with Louise.  I hope you can do better than we have.  She’s always been a problem.  A sweet problem, a good problem, but a problem.  Our real name is Trickieski.  We’re Polish but teachers and her playmates had a hard time pronouncing it which distressed her so we shortened it to Tricki for her.’

     ‘Trickieski is not so hard to pronounce.  I’m Polish too and I ‘ve seen some really tough ones.  My grandmother’s name was Spunyak,  that’s spelled SEPANIAK.  That’s one of the easy ones.  I wouldn’t change my name for anything.’  Dewey responded righteously.

     ‘You’re Polish?’  Dick Tricki asked as the huge mounds of string thin bodies in Poland appeared on the screen.

     Marti stirred to the depth of her alcoholic haze rose quickly to flick the channel from ABC.  The same images appeared on NBC.  Oakland only had two of the three major networks at the time so she found that she was covered.  The Jews were determined that America, man, woman and child, were going to watch their degradation in the death camps.  All three networks were controlled by Jews; they had conspired to make sure that Americans could not escape the vision of their dismal plight.

page 1549.

     In those early days of TV there were usually only the three channels of the major networks, if that, unlike today where it is possible to have hundreds, so Mrs. Tricki’s alternative was to turn off the TV or watch mountains of dead emaciated bodies.  She chose to leave the TV on as it was the only content of her mind.  When she turned off the TV she turned off her mind.

      The depression of the Jews blanketing the United States of America added to the depression of the East Bay and intensified that of the Trickies and Dewey Trueman.  In this household at this time the depression was among the top ten depressing moments of all time.  The place was more depressing even than Auschwitz.

     It is not clear what the point was for the Jews to advertise the past to an American that didn’t care to see it.  The Jews themselves ran these movies to their youth every sabbath in the shules of their synagogues.  A whole generation of Jewish youth was brought up seeing these despicable movies that should have been for specialists only, every week of the year.

     The vision of mountains of dead bodies had a disturbing effect not only on Dewey but on all America.  His life was changed at that moment.  The effect was not what the Jews imagined it would be.  Dewey did not see Jews.  He saw people, that they may have been Jews was only incidental.  This was only another testimonial of man’s inhumanity to man.  Further he blamed the Jews, quite rightly, for making him watch what was better not seen.

page 1550.

    The effect was numbing.  The movies completely blunted his sensibilties but inured him to brutality.  While some others expressed their horror at mass murders and serial killers Dewey observed them complacently even enjoying some the better ones like Richard Speck, Charlie Whitman or Ted Bundy.  Manson he considered crude and vulgar.  He was offended at the clumsiness of Charlie Starkweather and the insane brutality of Pol Pot, but he was astonished.  He’d aleady seen it.  He was, in a manner of speaking, a connoisseur.

     The Jews were training a whole nation to be blase about atrocities of any kind.  In subsequent years their own reaction to viewing these movies constantly was reflected in the movies coming out of Hollywood.  Movies that were devoted to senseless killing and mass destruction.  The violence escalated as people were blown away, cars went up in fireballs, cities were blown up, the White House was a mass of splinters blowing in the wind.  Movies became nothing but murder and mayhem to reflect the Jewish soul nurtured on a past that had never happened in America or to or by Americans.

     In defense the movie makers claimed that all this destruction was ‘entertainment.’  They claimed that the movie going public would watch nothing else.

     Nor was the American public as horrified as the announcer who agonizingly said:  ‘These are Jews.  These are Jews.’  Dewey saw only bodies, the bodies of people.  He saw only man’s inhumanity to man which is an age old story, and he didn’t appreciate the Jews for showing it to him.

page 1551.

     Anyone with a foundation in Jewish history as all Christians have, being instructed in the Jewish writings from infancy, knows that the Jews are an erring people who have to be chastised by their God from time to time to keep them in line.  It’s just their nature.  Several historical figures who had done damage to the Jews had been described right in the sacred writings as Scourges of God.  In that long four thousand year history who was not to say that God had once again sent Hitler as a Scourge for his erring people.  Perhaps the man Hitler wasn’t guilty at all.  Perhaps Hitler was merely God in human form doing what He felt must be done.

     Why, Dewey asked should he suffer because of the willful conduct of others.

     ‘How does he know those are all Jews?’  Dick Tricki asked.  ‘Hitler killed as many Poles.  One whole branch of my family was wiped out, right on Polish soil too.  The bastard built all those detestable crematoriums on good Polish soil because he thought his Germans were better than Slavs.  Well, Stalin showed that bastard a thing or two, not that he was alive to enjoy to it.  Sheez, both channels too.’

     The caperings of the Jews and Nazis brought the depression to an insufferable low.  Dewey was compelled to go back to his pallet in the garage earlier than he liked.

     He had several hours on Sunday with Louise in which they cemented their relationship.  Dewey could consider Louise his girl.

page 1552.

     Kayo pulled up to the curb on East 14th St. at six-ten.  The way Kayo drove they had plenty of time to get back.

     Kayo nosed the car out on the highway as the sun went down in the West.  The Altamont was history before Dewey had settled in his seat.

     Kayo was complete of his species.  He knew who he was and sought the margins of existence on every head.  Dewey was much less focused and more eclectic.  He was more of a dilettant than an aficionado.  He never concentrated on any one thing long enough to become thoroughly knowledgeable about it.  Kayo immersed himself totally in his life style.  There was little about the drug culture that he wasn’t aware of.  The drug culture was affiliated to the criminal world, marginal politics and sub-cultures like the Beats.  Kayo was conversant with them all.  He was an underground kind of guy.

     The night time is the right time where the underground flourishes.  The authorities were content to keep the radicals off daytime radio.  They couldn’t stop rock and roll which they considered silly pimple music but they were ardent in containing the subversive Folkies.

      Perry Sparkman had no chance of getting a job even at night in the major markets of the Bay Area and LA but down in the Valley somewhere around Turlock, but not Turlock, God knows that place was as conservative as anywhere, I forget the station letters, he had a clear signal of 20,000 watts directionally North and South in the San Joaquin.  As soon as they made the Manteca cutoff Kayo, who had heard Perry, twirled the dial until the signal came in as clear as a bell.

page 1553.

     He leaned back and studied the road as the most astonishing songs Dewey had ever heard flooded the car.  The Folkies were all college boys sharp as tacks and tuned into the politics their parents loathed but which carried their teaching to one of its logical limits.  ‘Let Freedom Ring.’ was the main theme of the Folkies and it was the main fantasy of the Greatest Generation.  The facts are clear, you see, it’s the interpretations of the facts that cause dissension.

     Now the Folkies and Perry Sparkman existed only at the sufferance of the Greatest Generation and only if they were content to stay in the shadows.  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed because they wanted to be center stage.

     Sparkman would be driven off the air and out of employment shortly while folk singers like Tom Paxton, Chad Mitchell and many others were squashed and driven deeper into the bowels of the earth; kind of an under underground.  Like Bob Dylan would sing:  If it hadn’t been for freedom of speech I would have wound up in the swamp.

     Kayo had hoped to offend Dewey with the music; he was surprised to see him not only enjoying but ecstatic.

     ‘Do you know what that is?’

     ‘Yeah, Folk Music.  But I’ve never heard this stuff before.  I never even heard of any of these guys.’

page 1554.

     ‘There’s a lot you don’t know.  I’m surprised you’re so politically aware that you can understand it.’

     ‘What do you mean politically aware?  I read TIME don’t I?’  Dewey asked who saw the lyrics as literature or poetry that handled a topic in a pertinent manner not requiring political allegiance.  Besides, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to do.  There’s all kinds of ways of looking at these things.

     ‘Well, I mean the songs have a particular political point of view that I didn’t think you understood or shared.’  Kayo continued in his demeaning manner as the excited voice of Perry Sparkman broke through the music to excitedly announce some news of the Black rebellion in Birmingham.

      The South was a bubbling cauldron of Black discontent.  If there was anyone aboard the Teufelsdreck who disagreed with the Black rebellion they certainly kept their mouth shut.  Current histories portray activist Blacks and a small cadre of White sympthizers as being the few attuned to the revolt but in fact, outside the South, there was seeming universal acceptance of Black goals.

      Indeed, who could dissent with the stated goals.  Dewey firmly believed that no one should be denied equal oportunity, including himself, not that he’d had much as yet and would be soon denied his rights in favor of Blacks.  He also saw that opportunity wasn’t going to be equal; the roles would just be reversed.  He also knew who was going to have to pay the bill and it not the kids from the right side of town.

     ‘Goddamn.  Good for those Black people, I’m sick of this injustice, aren’t you?’  Kayo demanded of Dewey.

     Dewey looked at Kayo in amazement.  He saw a guy who definitely thought he was better than himself, better than any of his shipmates and by extension better than any Black person alive.  This superiority was based on nothing.  Although Dewey was unaware of it he was sitting in a car with one of the most significant criminals in California.  The forty pounds of heroin Kayo brought ashore in San Diego and his father had distributed had gone a long way to corrupt the morals of the Bay Area.  The couple hundred pounds of marijuana he had just transported to his home in Mill Valley would do the same.  Some of it was even distributed by Neal Cassady of Beat Fame.  A couple of joints of one these shipments put him in jail.

      He and Soter’s palatial life style was built on the destroyed lives of multitudes.  The Edsel, the Cadillacs, the little red MG were all being purchased out of the miseries of others.  Injustice!  The most that could be said about Soter and Kayo was that their poisons were sold to Black and White without discrimination.  The results all came back one color- green.  Kayo and Soter should have been in San Quentin.

     ‘What do you mean by injustice?’  Dewey asked directly but clumsily.

     ‘What do I mean by injustice?  Don’t you know what’s going on down South?’  Kayo asked apparently oblivious to conditions in Oakland.  ‘Haven’t you heard of Emmet Till?’  Kayo continued indignantly.

     Dewey thought for a moment:  ‘He’s some Black guy that got killed somewhere down South, wasn’t he?’

     ‘Do you know why that young man was murdered?’  Kayo went on.  He had his terminology down.  Even though Emmet Till had been a teenaged boy, Blacks were sensitive about being called boys  that while Whites in their twenties and early thirties were referred to as ‘boys’ by the Greatest Generation both pre and post pubescent Black boys were accorded the dignity of  ‘young man.’

page 1556.

     ‘If I remember right he gave a wolf whistle to a White woman in a grocery store.’

     ‘Is tthat all?  Do you think it right to kill a Black man because he looks at a White woman?’

     ‘Kayo, of course I think violence of any kind is bad, unlike yourself, I think killing should always be avoided.’  Dewey began trying to collect his thoughts to express what he really wanted to say.  ‘I have a Christian background, although I’m not Christian, so I do not believe in hating anyone.  Love is the answer.  I don’t believe in hating those who hate because you always end up becoming what you hate.  Thus even the Nazis who were certainly hateful cannot be hated because if you devote your life to hating them you will inevitably end up being one.  One becomes what one fixes one’s thoughts on.  Besides hating those who hate only means that you hate those who disagree with you because only people who disagree with you hate, you have your reasons.  That entitles those who disagree with you to hate you because they too have their reasons.  So by hating for any reason you make yourself hatefull.

     Now, the injustice.  Yes, I think it is unjust to kill a person because he whistles at a woman.  But, I put it into a social context and not a racial one.  Emmett Till was killed not because he was Black but because he was considered socially inferior.  If he had been a White boy from the other side of the tracks whistling at an upper crust woman in a grocery store, which is considered ill mannered by White people, he might have been killed too.’

     ‘That’s nonsense:  that couldn’t happen.’

     page 1457.

     ‘It isn’t nonsense and it does happen except when  White boys are killed nothing is said about it but that they probably had it coming.

     Let me give a couple of examples.  I was in the orphanage in the the fourth grade.  We were considered sub-Negro in class.  Blacks were given better treatment than we were.  We were not even allowed to speak to girls from parented homes.  So you say Emmett Till was discriminated against because he was Black?  I say, so what?  Black?  Orphan? Why is it a greater crime to discriminate against a Black person than a White orphan?

     So, in defiance I developed a crush on Elaine Webster.  She was the creme de la creme of the parented girls.  They threw rocks at me.  They waited on the sidewalk to thrash me to within an inch of my life, it’s possible they would have taken the last inch.  I had to take the back way home for weeks until they forgot about it.  They didn’t forget about it; I always had to take the back way.  If we had been in the twelfth grade at the time they probably would have killed me.  If they had they wouldn’t have made a fuss about it like Emmett Till.  They would have forgotten it on the spot.’

     ‘Why didn’t you stay in your place?’   This man most interested in justice asked.

     ‘Why didn’t Emmett Till?’

page 1558.

     ‘That’s not the point.  Emmett Till was Black.’

     ‘So, what you’re saying is Blacks have more rights than certain Whites.  It’s OK to kill Whites who don’t know their place but not Blacks?’

     ‘You weren’t killed.’

     ‘Well, wait a minute.  Now, in the Valley when upper class boys wanted to get laid they went into lower class neighborhoods and seduced those girls without thought to moral considerations and no moralists arose among the old folks to condemn the practice.  Their fathers had done the same thing.  Same thing as in the slave South where Whites went to Black woman for easy nooky, right?

     On the other hand if the kids from the poor side tried to cruise the nice areas they were driven away.  So, there was this one nineteen year old kid who didn’t know his place chasing after this rich girl, she wasn’t rich but that’s how everyone talked, who was warned away two or three times but insisted he was as good as anyone else, certainly as good as Emmett Till.

     One day he wan’t seen around town anymore.  People said he’d gone West.  But he hadn’t gone West he went North.  He’s now at the bottom of Higgin’s Lake.  I watched him loaded into the boat where he was taken to the middle of the lake and dropped in.

     So, he went West.  Nobody looked for him; nobody cared.  He should have known better than to chase someone out of his class.  Do I consider the killing of Emmett Till injustice?  Sure.  Do I consider his killing more outrageous than the killing of the White Boy?  No.

     Emmett Till was given justice after death; the guy at the bottom of Higgin’s Lake hasn’t and never would have, if, even in the presence of a dead body, people hadn’t denied he was even dead.  So what does race mean to the dead guys?’

     ‘It’s wrong to discriminate against Black people and I’m surprised you can’t see the difference, Trueman.’

     Dewey was going to say more on the meaning of discrimination but realizing the futility of it he decided to clam up.

     ‘I’m going to stop here for something to eat?’

     Kayo left 99 making a couple turns Dewey couldn’t follow to pull up in front of a place called the Kopper Kettel.  How Kayo knew about it was a mystery to Dewey as Kayo had never been there before.  Dewey had to admire Kayo because he always seemed to home in on the hippest things.

     The Kopper Kettel was a Mexican restaurant.  Ordinary on the outside the inside was like a magic shore.  The waitress and cook was the most beautiful Mexican girl Dewey had ever seen.  She was tall, shapely and fair of face.

     Dewey ordered a couple of tacos.  Made fresh they were cooked in a way Dewey would never see them cooked again.  The woman formed a pocket or belly in the bottom of the tortilla which she filled with hamburger then deep fried them together added the vegetables and cheese on removal from the grease.  Dewey would never have such a taco again.

     Back on the highway Kayo resisted all attempts to get him to explain how he knew about the place preferring a mysterious silence.

page 1560.

     The silence lasted until they pulled into a truck stop pavilion just on the North outskirts of Bakersfield.  These things were already huge constructions at the time although some are now like little cities.  Rows of double bottoms and tractor trailers lined up in the dark.  Numbers of cars were parked around as these places were great scenes of night action.

     Kreskin pulled into a pump.  While they waited for service Dewey checked out the huge restaurant to see what they looked like.  A large percentage of the tables were taken by truck drivers while many more were filled by thrill seekers hoping for some action.

     As Dewey entered he was bowled over at the sight of a figure clothed in a purple suit with purple suede wing tips.  A pink string tie dangled over a ruffled white shirt.  Over the suit was a purple Capt. Marvel cape, pink lined, with a pink draw string in front.  As if this were not enough to catch the attention of anyone the guy had a six inch platinum blonde bouffant topping one of the palest faces ever seen.  The back of his hair disappeared beneath the collar of his cape.  Easily the longest hair this side of Hollywood.

     Truckers sat staring at him with forks suspended in air, mouths gaping.  Some had faces contorted into grimaces of anger and disgust.  Several looked as if they wanted to get up and pound the guy on general principles.  He made it easy for them.

     ‘What the hell kind of a place is this dump?’  He shouted out with a leering grin.  ‘Ain’t any of you pansies looking for action?’

page 1561.

     Several of them pansies were; they rose to their feet advancing toward the phenom who with wobbling hips and mincing steps strolled for the door pointing out to the back.

     Dewey gave them a wide berth allowing them to disappear around the corner before he followed them out.  The guy in purple and pink was no blowhard.  He’d apparently done this before.  He was holding his own when Dewey with wide open eyes headed back for the pumps.

     On the way past the restrooms, gas stations always have restrooms rather than toilets, an over dressed matron carrying a lap dog exited indignantly followed by a seventeen year old girl with her right fingers to her lips giggling madly.

     When Dewey got back to the pump an eighteen year old kid was talking to Kayo.  The young girl walked up and joined him.

     ‘Hey, Dewey, we’re giving these two a ride into LA.’

     Dewey groaned.  He hated to give hitchhikers rides.

     The young girl still giggling pointed to the matron with the dog who was about to get into her car.

     ‘See that woman.’  She said giggling.   ‘She was in the can and was having her lap dog lap her box.  Getting licked by a pooch in the john.’

     Dewey, who took everything much more seriously than need be was indignant.  Kayo gave a laugh and they all piled into the Edsel to take on the Grapevine.

     ‘Boy, we sure are broke.’  The boy said.

     ‘Tell me.’

page 1562.

     ‘Who isn’t?

     ‘We could sure use a couple bucks.’

     ‘Who couldn’t?’

     ‘Allie sure is cute, ain’t she?’

     The idea was clear.  Dewey once again indignant while Kreskin was blase.  Neither was interested in bought stuff this side of the border.

     Kayo dropped the traveling pimp and his prostitute off on Lankershim Boulevard.  The Edsel sped through the night arriving at four A.M., two hours ahead of time.  Perfect.

The Battle Of The Coral Sea

     Some enterprising Jewish film maker in Hollywood hoping to make a few bucks from the trials and tribulations of Amerika decided to make a movie entitled:  The Battle Of The Coral Sea.  It would have been much too expensive to film on location so the battle was refought off the San Diego coast.

     This author has a very low opinion of movies and film makers.  The only way the producer could economically make the movie was if he could cadge the Navy into contributing its ships and crews gratis, that is, free of charge.

     The Navy was only too happy to cooperate.  Although there was no advertising value and few people know the what the tag line at the end of movies- the producers would like to thank the Navy for its cooperation- really means.  The Brass somehow felt that a return in ‘goodwill’ was involved.  What nonsense.

page 1563.

     The upshot was that the US taxpayers financed the movie while all the profits, if any, went to the film makers.  One can’t expect the Admirals to be good businessmen as well as warriors but they should always try to get their share of the profits.  Of course, given Hollywood accounting methods, even though the companies never go broke their films never show a profit on paper.

     The Teufelsdreck was now assigned to assist the movie company in the manufacture of ‘The Battle Of The Coral Sea.’  The little subkiller was given the indignity of posing as Japanese; fly the Rising Sun and everything.  Dewey was incensed but was learning to curb his tongue so he said little, almost nothing.

     Chief Dieter was eager to comply.  Had Dewey been more aware of the Chief’s designation as the Hero of Saipan he would have laughed himself to death pleasing Dieter mightily.  As it was the joke was not entirely lost among the old hands in Deck.

     The thought of men like Dieter who had carried war from the Coral Sea to Japan now posing as Japs was just too funny for words.  The only old warrior who got it was Ratman, the dullest of the lot.  He had actually been present at the Coral Sea so perhaps that piqued his resentment.

     As the old Bucket T was to be Japanese the number 666 on the prow had to be effaced because it was argued the Japanese didn’t number their vessels that way.  How anyone in the movie audience was expected to know that wasn’t explained.

     So it was that Dieter grabbed Trueman and told him to paint over the numbers in gray.  Trueman had spent several days alongside the Lewis repainting the numbers in white.  He was especially pleased with this particular effort; they hadn’t always gone off as well.  He wasn’t about to paint over his fine work.

page 1564.

     ‘You aren’t disobeying an order are you, Trueman?’

      ‘No, I’m not disobeying an order Dieter but discussing the best method for a job isn’t disobeying.  There isn’t anything in the code that says you can’t discuss methods.’

     Once again Trueman had never read the code but his argument seemed reasonable to himself.

     ‘Always the sea lawyer, hey Trueman?’  Dieter replied, who had never bothered to study the code either.  ‘Alright, let’s hear it.  What’s your suggestion?’

     Trueman hadn’t really thought of a suggestion but placed on the spot he came up with one.

     ‘Well, Chief, we could tape over the numbers, paint the tape gray and then just strip the tape off when these bozos are finished.’

     Pardon who had come up during the discussion gave a little grunt of approval.

     ‘That won’t work.’  Dieter protested.  ‘The tape will work off at sea exposing the numbers.’

     ‘Ah it won’t either, Chief, ‘sides these movie jerks can just cut those frames out of the movie.’

     ‘Naw, paint over the numbers, Trueman.’

     ‘C’mon Chief.  I just painted the numbers; that’s a lot of work.’

page 1565.

     Pardon interposed.  ‘I think he’s got a point Chief.  The tape’ll hold.  There’s no reason for us to knock ourselves out for these movie people.’

     Dieter gave Pardon a long cold look then walked of muttering:  ‘Go ahead, do what you want.’  He felt betrayed by Pardon.  The First Class was always siding with the men he thought.

     The nest broke up as the squadron put to sea.  You may be sure that the Desade and the Commodore played Americans and not Japanese.

     Just opposite North Island the ship slowed to allow a boat alongside carrying the actors playing the Japanese officers and crew, thirty men in all.  Thirteen years after the war the Japanese commandeered an American ship of war in San Diego harbor.  A Japanese ‘Captain’ stood on the bridge of the little subkiller, the USS Teufelsdreck.  DE 666.

     For three days the film maker commanded a fleet of nine US warships including two aircraft carriers of which one carried an Atomic bomb in its hold.

     The sailors of the Teufelsdreck were ordered to take their hats off so as to look Japanese.  Apparently the Emperor’s lads didn’t wear hats.  Ordered to their battle stations First spent three days lounging around the gun mounts.  They had to stand so as to be visible.

     At lunch time on the first day the Japanese ‘enlisted’ men filed into the mess hall.  The Japanese ‘officers’ taking their roles a little too literally filed into the wardroom to lunch with Captain Gabriel Ratches and his brother officers.

page 1566.

     Ratches exploded in rage.  He might be imposed upon to have a Japanese ‘Captain’ on his bridge but he was not going to have Japanese  ‘officers’ at his table.

      The War was still too fresh in the minds of these men who fought it for them to feel that comfortable having Japanese ‘officers’ and ‘crew’ aboard their ship.  The country might have been asked to forget the ‘Day of Infamy’ sixteen years after but it wasn’t that easy for the men who swept the islands.

     The Japanese-Americans posing as Japanese nationals fled the wardroom in haste spilling down the ladder in the mess hall to the laughter and merriment of the crew most of which felt that some sacred trust was being violated.

     Having wheeled around for three days at enormous cost to the taxpayers the fleet of movie moguls broke up to return to port.

     As Dewey had known when he went over the side to strip the tape off the numbers the tape had weathered the seas just fine.  The tape was off in jig time saving Dewey several days work.

I Wonder Where You Are Tonight

     Isaac Sheyer had returned home in a pensive mood.  He believed himself under obligation to inform Solomon Hirsh, Yisraeli’s father, of his son’s whereabouts.  Sol Hirsh was very well thought of in the synagogue being considered somewhat of a scholar, which is to say by Judaic standards, that he studied the Talmud.  But as Sheyer quite rightly thought that Yisraeli had no desire to be found he was reluctant to advise the old man.  Yet, as he had found Yehouda, or David as he was formerly known, with so little trouble he reasoned that someone else would too.

page 1567.

     Old Sol thanked him for his information but as his son had seen no reason to contact him he preferred to ignore the information.  He did give the information to Beverly Webster Hirsh who had been living in distraction since her son’s death and her abandonment by her husband.

     Taking nothing with her but her daughter, Anne, she got in her car and headed West.  For some reason she chose to go through Memphis across the Mississippi Bridge Chuck Berry sang about then West across the sprawiing continent.

     As she crossed the Bridge the radio blared out the words of a Webb Pierce song:

I wonder where you are tonight,

I wonder if you are alright,

I wonder if you think of me

In my lonely misery.

     The words increased her emotional pitch such that she neither needed sleep nor took it.  She drove non-stop straight through with the words of Webb’s song echoing in her mind.  Monday afternoon found her parked in front of the house across from the faux Playboy Club which was the address Isaac Sheyer had been given.

     Once there her nerve failed her.  She suddenly realized that Yehouda probably hadn’t been thinking of her at all or he would have sent for her.  He knew where she was.  The horrible realization that she might be turned away was paralyzing.  She was sitting behind the wheel panting and staring fixedly ahead when Yisreaeli emerged from the faux Playboy Club.

page 1568.

     His eyes swept the street in practiced manner as befit one of his profession.  The dusty Buick caught his attention.  He looked twice.  Startled by what he thought he saw he crossed the street coming up behind the car to check the plates.   Confirmed in his suspicion he placed his hands on the open window sill leaning in to say softly:  ‘Beverly, is that you?’

     Beverly looked up with stark terror in her eyes as she sobbed:  ‘Yes.  How have you been, David?’

     ‘Oh fine, Bev, just fine.  How did you find me?’

     ‘Ikey Sheyer saw you in LA.  He told dad and dad told me.’

     ‘Good old Ike.  Who’d of thought it?’

     ‘Is this where you live David?’  Beverly said hinting at being turned away.

     ‘No. No, this is a business address.  Slide over, I’ll drive.’  Yehouda said opening the door.

     ‘Y-you’re not going to send me away?’  Beverly sobbed in high anxiety.

     ‘No, no.  Of course not, honey.’  Yisraeli replied resignedly to the mother of his dead son, accepting the fact that she had found him.

     As he turned the motor over Anne, who had been sitting uietly in the back seat threw her arms around Yehouda’s neck, saying:  ‘Hi, Daddy.  Have you missed me?’

page 1569.

     ‘I sure have Sweetheart, I sure have.’  Yisraeli lied.  With Michael gone his daughter meant nothing to him.

     Our Lady pulled grimly away from the curb as Beverly slumped exhhausted against the door.

Give ‘Em Enough Rope

     The incident in Guam had been more fateful for the Tuefelsdreck than anyone imagined or realized.  The removal of those fifty sailors plus the Blacks on return plus the discharge of the low I.Q. sailors meant there were two distinct crews aboard.  Those who had returned from overseas and the hundred or so replacements.  The enlistments of the old crew all expired between the present and the next year.

     Dewey, who was beginning to hold on by the skin of his teeth had applied for an early release to attend college.  The Navy was fairly lenient in such matters so his request had been granted.  His release date was moved up from November 22, 1959 to September 23.  So he was now looking at one year more.

     As the old crew were all pretty much short timers they had no interest in making friends with the new men.  The new men couldn’t understand why the old crew were indifferent to them which in turn produced bizarre psychological stresses.  The new men adopted bizarre personae such as the old crew had never exhibited.

     Many of the new men just took to their bunks as Dewey had in mess cooking lying there in desperate loneliness.

page 1570.    

     A new man called Trig Pelisse adopted the persona of Jerry Lewis in a desperate attempt to ingratiate himself.  He could be seen stalking around the deck in various spastic postures in imitation of the Meningitis Poster Kid or interjecting himself in conversations with twisted face and nasal twang.

     Their malaise affected some of the older men.  Gonzo Lewis became especially obnoxious possibly to compensate for his weekend panhandling trips to LA.  If anyone other than Dewey knew of them neither had they nor he ever mentioned it.

     It became necessary for Gonzo to prove that he was better than everyone else.  His expedient was to believe that he was capable of conversing with anyone in any station of life high or low.  He could be seen striking up conversations with the various officers, the Chiefs, the First Classes, Operations men, Snipes and occasionally to better prove his point of being able to converse with high and low he made it back to First.  There he approached Trueman.

     ‘Hi, Trueman.  Say, I hear you applied for an early discharge to go to college.’

     ‘Not only applied, I got it.  I am now over two months closer to getting out.’

     ‘Nice ruse.’

     ‘Whadya mean nice ruse?’

     ‘C’mon, Trueman.  You know and I know you’re not going to college.’

     ‘What you know and what I know are two different things.  Don’t give yourself too much credit for knowing what I know, if you know what I mean.’

page 1571.

     ‘C’mon, you’re in First.  Guys in First don’t go to college.  Man, you just don’t have what it takes.’

     ‘Yeh?  You going to college when you get out?’

     ‘Who me?  No.  I got a good job waiting for me; besides I got the gift of gab, I can talk to anybody; that’s all you really need, contacts.  The rest is all bushwa.  You learn by doing.  I can talk to anybody unlike you.  Nobody will talk to you.  There isn’t anybody high or low I can’t converse with.  I’m like that…’ Crossed fingers, ‘…with Lt. Sieggren.  I talk to him all the time and he is one intelligent guy.  I understand every word he says and that guy’s studied the dictionary.  See what I mean?  High or low.  Here I am talking to you.  See what I mean?’

     Dewey took offence at being included with the low.

     ‘You aren’t talking to me you’re talking at me.  I’m not listening so I guess that disproves your notion you can converse with anyone.’

     ‘Who’d want to talk to you, anyway.’  Gonzo Lewis said getting to his feet.

     ‘Hey.’  Dewey said with a sardonic smile.  ‘Got any spare change?’

     ‘Not for you.’  Lewis said not realizing the import of Dewey’s question.  Gonzo went off to converse with Blaise Pardon, a man of intermediate intellectual stature.  Dewey went up to take the watch.

     The POW was Carlovic.  The Damage Controlman was up for discharge in two months.

page 1472.

     ‘Hey Carlovics.’

     ‘Carlovic, Trueman.  How many times do I have to tell you?’

     ‘Uh, one more, Carlovic.’

     ‘You got the watch?’

     ‘I’m not up here just because I like your company, although, quite honestly, there is no one I would rather stand watch with.’

     ‘Thank God I won’t have to put up with you much longer.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  You got someone to stand in for you?’

     ‘No.  I’m getting discharged in two months.’

     ‘Hey, great.  Why don’t you put in a good word for me and get me discharged in two months too.  What strings did you pull?’

     ‘I didn’t pull any strings, idiot, my time’s up.  I’m going back to Philadelphia.’

     ‘You’re from Philly, huh?’

     ‘Yes.  Not that they appreciate a man of my talents back there.  They don’t know a good man from a hole in the gound in Philadelphia.’

     ‘What do you mean?’

     ‘Do you realize that I am a Second Class Damage Controlman in this man’s Navy?’

     ‘If you go by the chevron on your sleeve.’

     ‘You know how valuable and important my skills are to the Navy?  I am able to control damage to this shiip even in the event of an Atom Bomb attack.  Do you know what this chevron is worth in Philadelphia?’    

     ‘Probably, nothing.’

     ‘That’s right, nothing.  Not a thing.  How did you know?  Man, they appreciate me in the Navy.  I’m something here.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  What?’

     ‘What?’  Carlovic retorted beligerently.  ‘I’m a Second Class Damage Controlman, that’s what.’

     ‘What’s so special about that?’

     ‘What’s so special?’  Carlovic fairly shouted.  ‘Why, do you know that if a bomb hits this ship I know how to control the damage?  I can use a suicide nozzle to break up the center of the flames and I know when to use a flood nozzle to drown it.  That’s what’s so special.’

     ‘Yeah.’  Trueman said unimpressed.  ‘Well, if Kanary keeps throwing those nozzles over the side like he is you’re going to have to know how to piss on a fire to put it out.’

     ‘Is that what’s happening to those nozzles?’

     ‘That’s it.  I’m going to take a round of the ship.  If you need a letter of recommendation for Philly, let me know.’

     ‘This is a serious matter, Trueman.’

      ‘I am serious.  Let me know.’  Dewey said heading for the foc’sle with a laugh.

     Dewey was laughing less these days and worrying more.  The attempt to entomb him in Atascadero weighed heavily on his mind.  Since the smokestack incident he thought that maybe Dieter and Kanary were involved.  The incidents on the Matthew Lewis troubled him as they seemed planned and  connected.  He knew he would have to walk wary to make his discharge.

     Up to this point his psychology had remained intact even improving from his high school days.  While his childhood psychology kept on slowly improving his temporary shipboard psychology began to twist and deviate.  Prevented from venting his despleasure in an overt way he began to subconsciously search for a clandestine way.  As sabotage or sneakiness was out of the question for him something symbolic was needed.

page 1574

     An opportunity presented itself the next day.  Mad Chief Dieter was sinking into a quiet despair.  His glorious past had become meaningless in Cold War America.  If Trueman and his fellows had ignored the Chief and his stories the new men laughed at him.  The Second World War was ancient history to them.  Old war stories meant nothing, besides by this time stories of the Hiroshima Maidens were more important than the Day Of Infamy, Tarawa, Guadalcanal and Saipan combined.  None of the new men had even heard of Saipan much less seen it.  they had been taught that the dropping of the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasake had not only negated Japanese war guilt but transferred the guilt for the most infamous act in American history to themselves.  They didn’t even know why the Pacific War had been fought, possibly so the Marines could have fun storming those beaches.

     A lonely and disconsolate Dieter was a stranger in a strange ship.  Even his arch pal Cornell Roberts was gone.  He hardly knew the men who remained.

     In a pique of desperation he called what was left of his old pals up to the rope  locker along with Trueman.  He didn’t understand why he called Trueman up too.

     ‘So this is the infamous rope locker.’  Trueman said looking around.

page 1575.

     In his despair Dieter had no idea why they were there.  He just wanted a little reflection of his old glory but he didn’t know how to ask for it.

     Dewey was looking around marveling at being in the very bow of the ship when he noticed the small hatch in the middle of the deck.

     ‘What’s down there?’  He asked.

     ‘The cord and small lines.’  Princeton Warwick replied.

     Dewey lifted up the hatch gazing down at the bales of cord and lines heaped across the lower compartment.  There was a strange resemblance to somewhere he had been before.

     Something either snapped or coalesced in his mind.  He knew how to express himself.  The waters of oblivion rose up from his subconscious to engulf his conscious mind.  His subsequent action in no way resembled insanity and yet he was incapable of resisting the impulse so he was in fact ‘out of his mind.’  Indeed, the impulse was a just symbol of retaliation against his oppressors.

     The same thing would hapen to Richard Speck in Chicago eight years later.  Richard Speck was not of evil intent but an opportunity for a symbolic act of retaliation presented itself.  Richard Speck took it without an instant’s reflection.

     Speck was subsequently portrayed as a monster but his monstrosity was only a reflection of the society that created him for the purpose of committing an egregious act of violence.  You will scoff but it is true that from childhood he had been programmed to murder those nurses or someone just like them.  It was hoped, expected, even demanded of him.

page 1576.

     Dewey, when it happened, felt a deep kinship with Richard Speck for he too had undergone the same indoctrination.  He felt sorry for Speck because he had succumbed to the temptation.  At the base of Speck’s act was the specter of his mother.  It was at bottom the hatred or resentment of her that caused his crime.  The details of the mutilation of the women was not released but I would imagine that their wombs were ripped out.  If so this was Richard Speck’s ritual vengeance against his bitch and whore of a mother from whose womb he had sprung.  That she was a whore is made explicit by Speck’s adoption of the role of his mother in prison.

     He somehow contrived to develop his torso into a grotesque version of women’s breasts.  he then made himself the whore of the Black inmates.  This indicator points to the notion that his mother was expecially fond of Black men.

     As he was inordinately shy and ‘soft’ the indications are that he was denied his place in society from infancy on; probably the result of his mother’s conduct.

     Some people assert that he became a whore to atone for the murdering of the nurses.  That is nonsense.  Speck undoubtedly felt no guilt for his killings.  In his mind they had it coming.  As he told his Black inmates when asked why he killed them:  It just wasn’t their night.  Quite right.  Speck would have felt no guilt whether they had been a hundred or even a thousand.  All the previous nights had been his nights so on that night Richard Speck got back his own.

      As he walked down that street on that night, laden like the Scapegoat with all the sins and evilty of those who wished him ill he looked in the open window, which should have been shaded, why didn’t the nurses draw the shade, the waters of oblivion rose up from his subconscious to engulf his conscious mind.  ‘Go ahead.  Do it.  We want you to.’ echoed from a thousand tormentors down through the years.  ‘We want you to.  Go ahead. Do it.’  Fully conscious of what he was doing as though he had done it a thousand times before, yet no longer in conscious control of his will nor able to resist the impulse Richard Speck knocked on the door.  Yes, he knocked on the door.  The door was opened and he entered, then systematically began the slaughter of innocence.  He had been shown how to slaughter innocence many, many times.  His innocence had been slaughtered in just the same way.  Six student nurses lay dead.  he left the seventh one behind to tell the story.

     Did he forget her or leave her?  No one knows, of course, no one bothered to ask, but in the control of his subconscious the numbers six and seven and their sum thirteen were probably signficant to his mind.

     Then he left as quietly as he came.

      He had done as he had been done by society.  He became all that society detested in itself.  He had taken their monkeys on his back.  Now they could point and say ‘How detestable, not us, but him, he’s the one.’  That’s why they call them scapegoats.

     An interesting fact is that only the most self-righteous took the crime viscerally.  Mrs. Tuistad, Dewey’s mother who had done her best to make her son into a Richard Speck was horrified.  Perhaps she saw her image in those mutilated women; hers like the evil womb that poisoned Richard Speck’s life just as she had her son’s.  Yehouda Yisraeli, he who made his perverted living from male porn would rage and storm against the Chicagoan.  Teal Kanary took obvious pleasure in the mutilated female bodies but for different reasons.

page 1578.

     Thus as Dewey slipped down into the steel hold through that narrow aperture of the subconscious which, like his mother’s vulva had been at birth, was just large enough to admit him a strange alchemy took place in his brain.

     ‘Hey, Dieter, when I knock let me out, OK?’

     Dieter’s eyes bulged like a madman.  The daring of this man Trueman made his hair stand on end.  All Dieter had to do to entomb his man as had been his desire for so long was flip a bolt into place to hold the hatch down, order everyone out, turn out the lights nd leave and he would have his heart’s ease.  Caught off guard all he could do was shiver and shake with starting eyes.

     To say that Trueman did or thought or had any idea of the symbolism would be to mistake the facts.  He didn’t.  He was in the grip of his subconscious.  He was not responsible for his action.  He knew what he did and he always remembered it but the symbolism and reason was beyond him.

     Whereas Speck, if he did, had ripped out his mother’s symbolic womb six successive times, Dewey was entombed in his mother’s steely womb.  Once he was enclosed in the steel of her womb he opened his fly, took out his tool and masturbated on the lines of the lower rope locker.  Did they represent the umbilical cord to him?  If Dieter and the others wanted to fuck him, well, they and his mother could take this fucking from him, would have been his thoughts if he had been thinking.  One shudders at the thought of a man masturbating in his mother’s womb.  Dewey’s mother had it coming too but the sanctity of motherhood prevented Dewey’s injuring her except symbolically just as Speck’s anger at his mother was visited on six surrogate women.

page 1579.

     The mothers of the world will claim that they can’t be held responsible but the cold hard facts are that mothers are indeed responsible for it all.  Frued was right.  It is in the mother that existence takes place; it is the mother that gives birth and the mother who is responsible for nurturing her child.  It is to the mother that the child looks.  Fate may have placed an unfair burden on the women of the world, not all women are capable of being mothers although all women are capable of bearing children, but the cold hard fact is that mothers create their children in their own image.

     Having completed his futile symbolic act of resistance Dewey poinded on the hatch wondering whether Dieter would seize the moment or let him out.  At that moment Dewey was ready to die just as Speck had been ready to follow the nurses to hell.

     Dieter’s already bulging eyes bulged further.  His breath came in short gasps, then his knees began to buckle.  Perhaps as much to cover his buckling knees as anything else Dieter knelt and flipped the hatch up.  Dewey looked at Dieter with eyes of quiet triumph then hoisting himself up through the hatch, shall we say, he was born again.

page 1580.

A Short Story

The Hole In The Sky

Pages Lifted From The Memoirs Of Far Gresham 9/21/83

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     As you are well aware I am of that happy cheerful disposition and inquiring and curious mind that dispels despair and boredom.  I have never really known the blues, but I would be less than human knew I not my highs and lows.  The very weather system of our planet is based on highs driving out lows and lows supplanting highs.  I too am one with the universe as are you, my friend, so you will not be surprised that at the end of the day as I sought to keep at bay those twin demons, Despair and Boredom, late in the evening at the time at which the raven comes knocking, I was reading.  Not a novel or poetry, although I dearly love both, but in desperation I had sought that which requires greater concentration, more or a firewall between me and the demons.  A history.  Not a popular history but that research that passes into the limbo into which only the specialist and the terminally bored enter.  Stimulation so rare that only the elect are allowed to participate.  It was the Cambridge Ancient History.  I had considered and rejected such topics as the Tethys and the midworld fold belt and the Afro-Asian (Hamito-Semitic) Family and settled on the early monarchy of Egypt.

     The author was facing a knotty problem.  He saw a faint glimmer of light of evidence to indicate, not prove, but indicate that the first Dynast of Egypt may or may not have been, the past was so distant and the light so dim that nothing could be made out but had anything to be made out it would probably have been that a man whose name was not known but who represented by the hieroglyph Scorpion, was the first Pharaoh of Egypt.

     It was late, I was tired and perhaps my comprehension was inadequate, but as I lay the book down and stumbled off to bed I was dumbfounded that anyone could work so hard for such little recompense.  It was as though in a desert one saw or thought one saw a faint glimmer of light out of the corner of an eye.  It might have been from a campfire several dunes away; it might have been faint distant lightning; it might have been merely an electrical discharge in one’s own eye.  But looking out into the dark desert night it was impossible to know.

     I marveled at man’s desire to know as I threw the cover over me and gazed out into the blackness of my room, waiting for sleep to come.  It came, and in its bosom was a dream.  I do not fear dreams, I welcome them.  They come with secret knowledge which cannot be seen when one’s eyes are open.  They bring a balm to relieve the mind of the burdens of a troubling past and a confusing present.

     They appear as the picture appears on a television screen after the power has been turned on.  First it is dark, and then, in media res, the story appears.  And so as my dream began I was standing beside an open manhole at the intersection of Despair and Despond, as the street signs read.  I had apparently, like some modern day Jean Valjean, just emerged from the sewer as the manhole cover was just ceasing to quiver.  I looked back down into the hole and nothing there was familiar; I had no memories of sewer life; it was as though I had just been born.

     As I lifted my gaze from the sewer to the corner on my right, I noticed what must have been an apartment house.  It had the very strange name of the House Of The Distraught.  Who would want to live in a place like that I thought.  As I gazed in wonder I noticed for the first time that a man was standing on the sidewalk in front of it, motioning impatiently for me to come over and join him.  I took a few hesitant steps in his direction, for the firt time I could hear him saying to me:  ‘Come on, my wife ran off with an Italian and I have to go correct them.’

     An Italian I thought, How did he know it was an Italian?  He answered me.  He could read my mind, but the telepathy was only one way, I could not read his.  ‘How do I know?  Don’t be stupid.  He wore one of those ribbed under shirts with shoulder straps and scooped neck and back so the hair shows and not the collar of the T-shirt.’  I elected not to further show my stupidity and said nothing.

     We began walking down Despair Street leaving Despond behind.  As I looked at him I noticed that there was a considerable resemblance to myself.  He was my height and weight, had my hairline, eyebrows and eyes.  I was astonished.  As I looked around me the asphalt was shiny black and wet as though from a recent rain.  The buildings were dismal five story apartment buildings with dreary looking shops on the ground floor.  They were stained and crusted with the dirt of time and city excrecences.  A dark grey sky lowered overhead.  The lifeless windows reflected ourselves fleeing down the lifeless street.  There was no one to be seen but ourselves, nothing moved.  There were no leaves rustling because there were no trees.  There was no soughing of the wind as the air was still and breathless.

      In answer to my unspoken thought he said:  ‘Oh, just down the street here a ways, I know where they are.’

     But, I thought, why is there no one else around?

     He stopped short, stepping in front of me to block my progress.  Looking intently into my eyes, he asked querously:  ‘You mean you don’t know?’  Somewhat taken aback by the irritation he showed I replied defensively:  No.  ‘Well there are,’  he said, ‘the street is teeming with life, the shops are full, the windows are filled with domestic scenes.  It’s not that there is no life, it’s that you won’t or can’t see it.’

     ‘Why not, why can’t I?’

     ‘Well, my God, man, this is the street you chose when you came up from the sewer, this is Despair St.; 

     ‘But I didn’t have a choice.’  I blurted.

     ‘Perhaps not, but this is where you are and this is where you’ll be until you find a way out.’

     ‘Well, why can’t I see and hear all these people you say are there?’

     ‘They’re on different channels, or different wave lengths.  Some are party people walking down Happy Feet St. and they can’t see you.  Some are devoutly religious and walking down the Via Dolorosa but you don’t exist to them either as you are not one of them.  Why do I have to tell you this?  Don’t you know who I am?’

     In my anguish at being alone on this teeming street or streets I didn’t hear his question.  But why are these people having a better time than I am, I thought, as I looked up and down the dingy dirty deserted street.  ‘Don’t be silly, they aren’t.’  He said.  Each one is trapped in his own reality, just as you are.  Each is seeking salvation, just as you are.  Each in his own way.  Party people never get closer to humanity and religious people never get closer to their god.  Each is as desperate as you are.  Today, there is no salvation.  Each merely gives this same street on which everyone lives a different name and despises all others.  You are doing what you want you are just as happy as anyone else.  Don’t you think that the party people envy the pleasure and satisfaction you get from your silly books full of knowledge that almost no can use?  Of course they do.  Look at you, you look satisfied with yourself.  That’s what the world sees at least.  But they, like you, are trapped or either live in their channel, travel along their own wavelength.  Live and let live.’ 

     ‘Well, has anyone ever changed channels, found a different wave length?’ I thought.

     ‘Stories abound.’  He said.  ‘Stories abound but I’ve never seen it myself.  Once your locomotives on the rails there’s only one direction to go whether you do it backwards or forwards.  That’s what I like about you, you’ve get enough sense to go forward.’

     We had begun walking again earlier in the conversation and now he came to a sudden halt.  ‘Wups, here we are.’  He said stopping before an apartment building.  I looked up and saw the name Norsex Manor.  Someone had puttied in the R.  Jokers exist even in dreams.  My own mind which had been set racing by the peculiar earnest scornfully delivered conversation of this other person was sobered by the reflection.

     ‘This is it.’  He said, his tongue flicking out between his parted and drawn lips.  ‘Come on, I’m going to get them.’  He flung open the front door in a masterly way and strode into the vestibule.  After a moment’s orientation he pointed to the left and said:  ‘It’s down this hall.’

     The building was one of those older apartment buildings that had made a stab at white collar grandeur circa 1890 but was now seedy but not yet slummy.  Halfway down the hall, what appeared to be a theatre ticket booth jutted a foot into the hallway.  ‘That’s it.’  He said.  ‘Watch this.’

     So saying he placed his back against the wall and inched toward the ticket window.  Through the glass his wife and her Italian lover could be seen sitting at a table large enough only for two.  It was the only furnishing in the room.  She was facing the window, hair in curlers, frowsy bathrobe, and run down slippers.  The Italian had wing-tipped brown shoes, black socks, brown pants, black belt and he was sitting in his undershirt which was ribbed with shoulder straps, scooped neck front and back with an abundance of chest hair showing.

     ‘Hmm.  Must be Italian.’  I though to myself sardonically.  ‘Yes, yes, he is.’  The man whispered reading my unguarded thought.  ‘See, they all wear those undershirts.’  Moving down the wall, he squatted beneath the ticket window.  I watched with great curiosity wondering what he was going to do.  Then he did it.  He jumped up, stuck his thumbs in his ears, gobbled like a turkey and then ran down the hall and crouched behind a column.

     The Italian got up, came to the ticket window and asked, ‘What was that?’

     ‘Oh, nothing honey.’  She answered her lover.  ‘Probably just that crazy husband of mine.’

      ‘Well, why doesn’t he act like a man?’

     ‘He’s not you, honey.’  She said rubbing her foot on his ankle.

     I walked over to the column where he was giggling uncontrollably. 

     ‘Did you see that?’  He said.  ‘Did you see that?’

     ‘See what?’  I thought.  ‘That was stupid.’

     ‘Oh, well.  Then I know what to do.’  He said.  ‘Follow me.’

     He bolted out into the dismal street with me behind him.  He walked very rapidly down dingy, dirty, lonely Despair.  I was half running, half walking trying to keep up with him.  As we were both the same height I couldn’t understand how he could walk so fast.

     His eyes were started in desperation, he was obviously contemplating an extreme act.  After his last performance I was almost laughing in anticipation.  I shouldn’t have been.  Soon we were at the corner of Despair and Despond.  The manhole through which I had emerged into this homely world was still agape in the middle of the intersection.  I looked up at the strangely named apartment building:  The House Of The Distraught.

     ‘Do you live here?’  I suddenly thought to ask him.

     ‘Yes, on the fourth floor.  But I’m not going there now.  I’m going up on the roof.  You can come into this building and you will be able to leave but no one who goes up on the roof can ever come down.’  Now as I looked at him there seemed something strange about him.  As I looked around trying to understand what was happening I noticed that the House Of The Distraught was the tallest building around.

     ‘Ten stories.’  He said.  ‘All the others are five or six.’

     Not sure what to do I looked at him again.  Then I noticed that his teeth had the same form as mine.  My mind reeled but then I saw that he had a scar on his left hand between the thumb and forefinger which I didn’t have, so that suspicion left my mind.

     Not knowing what to do I suggested that I would accompany him to the tenth floor and see him off.  He studied me for a moment, a little wry smile flickered across his lips.  ‘Follow me.’  He said with a little laugh.

     We entered The House Of The Distraught.  I had never seen an apartment building like this before.  All the apartments, no bigger than prison cells, were arranged around the walls.  The center was an atrium which soared up through the center of the entire building.  The atrium had a floor of red Spanish tiles with a huge fountain containing an inch of water in the center of the floor.  In the middle of fountain rising up twenty feet was a spire that resembled a penis.  Residents, I almost said prisoners, ringed the balconies looking down on us.  They were a strange looking lot.  Their faces all betrayed strong inner emotions, their eyes looked but saw only what was happening in their own minds.  They could hear only the conversations going on in their own heads.  All their replies were consequently non sequiturs.  If they had been obsessed by apples and saw an orange they would have sworn that they had seen an apple.  Objective reality had ceased to exist for them.  I was terrified to walk by them but as we passed they all retreated into their rooms, or cells, glaring at us as we passed them, emerging from their holes to spit at our heels.  He wealked by as though they didn’t exist.  I have never shuddered in my life and I never will, but the hair growing on my head became very apparent to me.  Floor after floor was passed, the fountain, the spire, the floor became more distant.

     Finally we stood on the tneth floor which appeared to be unfinished, like an attic or something.  Up above a bright blue spot shown through the end of what appeared to be an inverted funnel.  It was the first color I had seen since I had emerged from the manhole.

     ‘Well, this is it.  This is as far as you can go or you won’t be able to come back.’ 

     It was then that I realized that this guy was crazy or at least suffering from some sort of abnormal psychology.  I thought I knew why HE couldn’t come back but since I wasn’t crazy I didn’t see why I couldn’t come back besides which I had never been in a situation I couldn’t get out of.  I laughed smugly to myself.  He smiled serenely down his nose at me.

     ‘Follow me.’  He said.

     A ladder appeared as if by magic, swinging loosely beneath the opening. 

     ‘Come on.’  He said, leaping unto the ladder and scrambling up it.  ‘I know where I’m going.’

     Grabbing hold of a rung I ascended into the opening.  It was breathtaking.  After the grey skies, dirty besmudged buildings, foul streets and dour surroundings I emerged into a beautiful clear, bright, cerulean sky.  I stood bedazzled for a moment on an immaculate dazzling white floor, for several minutes or for who knows how long.  Then I began to see things.

     The roof was very densely populated.  All the people were preoccupied with their own problems.  None seemed to interfere with anyone else.  Unlike downstairs there was no evident hostility, no fear, no hatred.  All was placid.  I looked around for him but my cicerone had disappeared.  Then I noticed that my left hand had a scar between the thumb and forefinger that had not been there before.  I looked up at the sun which was a bright yellow disk immobile in the sky as time had stopped and no longer had any meaning.

     The air was terrific, my lungs gratefully inhaled the fresh invigorating air, so different than the fetid fumes below.  I felt good.  As my gaze lowered from the disk of the sun I saw two men holding a giant knot on a pole.  I immediately recognized it as the problem of my life.  That part of my existence which had been troubling me but for which I could find no solution;  there was my central childhood fixation. 

     The two men looked directly at me, firmed and steadied the huge knot, at least six feet in diameter, looked at me and shook their heads at me in expectation of my undoing the knot.

     In my moment of consternation, I knew not what to do, but then looking down I spotted a pair of scissors lying on the roof.  I knew the sweetest moment of elation I have ever known.  There was my problem held steady for me and there was my solution lying on the floor needing only to be picked up and put to use.  I let out a merry laugh of enjoyment and anticipation and leaped for the scissors, overjoyed that I had come up on the roof.  But as I reached for the scissors they grew to enormous size, perhaps fifteen feet in length and the handles fit under my arm like a crutch.

     I had wrestled the scissors into a position where I could open them but they were too big and too heavy for me to manipulate.  Try as hard as I might I could only open them a few inches, but, even then, they were so heavy I couldn’t slide them forward to get at the knot of my problem.  It was impossible.  But having my problem and its solution in my hands I, in my eagerness for salvation labored long and hard at this impossible task.  I looked to the two helpers for assistance, but each time I did they merely held the knot for me more firmly.  In my excitement at being so close to the realization of my desires I was trying to tell them that I didn’t need help with the knot but with the scissors.  But they didn’t seem to hear and no matter what I said they merely steadied the knot.

     Finally I flung my left arm over the handles and stood leaning there for I don’t know how long trying to figure out what to do.  No matter how I figured it my columns of figures would never total into sums.  Finally I laid the scissors down, disappointed, and looked for the way out.

     Stepping over the hole in floor up which I entered, I was surprised to find the ladder gone.  Even though I had been told that once up I could not get down I had not believed it. 

     As I said the opening was in the shape of an inverted funnel, the sides sloped sharply away from the end of the funnel down which I looked.  There were no hand holds possible.  On the ground floor I could see the fountain with its inch of water in it.  It was a long way down.  I had read of circus performers that could dive from heights into shallow water.  I had even heard of a performer who was able to dive into a damp spunge and survive.  An inch of water seemed very possible to me.  But directly in the middle below me was the spire.  If I dove straight down I would impale myself on the spire.  It was possible I could twist and turn and miss the spire but then I might not be able to straighten out and hit the water just right and level out my dive.  The situation gave me pause to reflect.  I walked over to the edge of the roof of the House Of The Distraught and looked down on the corner of Despair and Despond.  Despair went on forever in either direction as far as I could see.  Despond was a short street deadending only two or three blocks in either direction.  Even if my dive were successful I would still be coming out of the House Of The Distraught at the corner of Despair and Despond.

     In a quandary I gazed inthinkingly, seemingly so, for some time at the intersection of recent unpleasant memory.  Then an association congealed in my mind.  I had emerged from a round opening of the sewer into what must surely have been a better, if still despicable world than the sewer.  Emerging through the hole in the roof of the House Of The Distraught I had left the dark, malodorous world of Despair, the Via Dolorosa of other times, and entered into a bright, pleasant, sweet smelling, fresh world above it all.

     I looked up at the disk of the sun shining eternally, unmoving in the beautiful blue sky.  Perhaps, I thought, that, as the manhole and the opening in the floor were entrances to better worlds, perhaps if I passed through this hole in the sky I would enter an even better world.  I stood transfixed, meditating on the possibility of such a seeming absurdity.  By some mathematical legerdemain I equated the distance from the sewer to the manhole and from the street to the top of the House Of The Distraught and from the top floor to the sun as proportional distances.  As I stood musing I began to pay more attention to my surroundings.  As I said, the roof was very thickly populated.  I began to covertly examine the various inhabitants.  Oddly, it seemed that they had all arrived at the same conclusion I had concerning the sun.  They all seemed to be in a state of anticipation.  Once more I looked over the side of the building.  Could it be, I thought, that I, and all these people, have passed from the sewer to the street of Despair through the House Of The Distraught to the- and then the idea flashed on me in rays of transcendent beauty- Plateau Of Hope.  Ah, there was Hope then.

     In a state of mental excitement I began to pass through the assembled multitude.  It became apparent to me that they had all assumed immobile stations of expectation.  I began to understand what was necessary for me to do.  They all seemed so serene, so complacent, that I had no objection to joining them.  I didn’t want to stand while waiting for the sky to open to receive me so I looked for a place to sit.  What to my wondering eyes should I see just a couple steps from me but a chimney pot, or something of the sort.  Before I sat I looked at my immediate surroundings.  To my right was standing what I thought must be the Eternal or Wandering Jew.  He was standing facing the sun, staff in hand, arms outstretched in supplication.  He was resplendent in a coat of rainbow colors.  Very pretty, I thought, I hope he doesn’t leave soon.

     In front of me was a fellow in a blue suit, a very interesting face with his hand inside his shirt scratching his belly.  To my left was a group of businessmen throwing dice.  Each member of the group had different colored dice:  Transparent, blue, red, yellow, green, clear, and also Ivory, gold and silver.  The dice diffracted and reflected the brilliant light in a scintillating manner.  Ah, I thought, I think I’ll just sit here.  So thinking I sat down.  Then I began to wonder whether it was possible to prove that Scorpion was the first Dynast of Egypt.  I wondered whether that flash of light was from distant lightning or from a campfire only two or three dunes away.  I put my elbow on my knee and my chin on my closed fist and was about to sink into a reverie when I heard what seemed like distant thunder.

     My eyes opened in the darkness of my room.  Sleep with his dream had departed.  I got up to investigate the source of the sound.  I flicked the light on in the living room to see my little albino cat, Antonio, with his strange red eyes staring at me. 

     If I didn’t know that cats can’t laugh I would swear that he was laughing at me.  On the white carpet where he had pushed it off the table lay my history book.  It had fallen open to the page about Scorpion.  Antonio’s grin seemed to broaden.  Impossible, I thought, but Antonio still seemed to be sitting there laughing at me.  Impossible…