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A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII: Clip 10

The Heart Of The Matter

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     Ahab has been cruising the wide ocean in search of this one particular whale in an effort to destroy his homosexual compulsion.  He finds him and the Great White Penis destroys Ahab, his ship and all hands except for Melville/Ishmael.  That is death dealing on a massive scale.

     The ship represents the bark of life.  Ahab’s has just been destroyed by his obsession with his penis.

     Melville/Ishamel alone is left bobbing and gasping amongst the waves of the great subconscious ocean with no hope of surviving until the coffin stored on deck breaks loose and rising like a rocket shoots up through the waters from the depths bursting through the plane of the conscious and subconscious in a decidedly phallic image.  Melville/Ishmael climbs into the coffin where cut off from all mankind he drifts as one of the living dead on the plane of consciousness.  Life in death; Bartleby the Scrivener without a job in the dead letter office.

     So living life as ones of the dead Daryl and Darrel sought to find life through death.  They had already committed twenty-four murders.

     This particular stretch of highway that ran four hundred miles and passed through no significant town; this lonely and desolate stretch of forest which reflected the grim lines of the ballad:  ‘In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines.  for they always seemed to be in the pines as they glided over hill and dale, this was their personal cemetery or, more properly speaking, their ‘nursery.’

page 1731.

     

     Their method, their ritual was this.  In their subconscious language they thought of their murders as putting the lovely innocent baby to bed.  They took their victims off into the pines and stangled them there.  Then they folded the bodies up to fit the rather small box and stuffed them in.  Their strength came in handy here.

     There was some humor in the victim sitting beside his ‘cradle’ as they cruised along.  As mentioned they were prissy, precious and fastidious.

     Taking a couple shovels out of the trunk they dug a neat professional hole six feet deep just like real gravediggers.  Depositing the box draped in the black cloth in the hole they very carefully and neatly filled the hole effacing the signs of newly dug earth with the expertise of legendary Indians.  Then they sang ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’ over the place:  Rock-a-bye baby in the tree tops, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks the cradle will fall, down will come baby, cradle and all.

     At the phrase ‘bought breaks’ they placed a stick on the grave and tip toed away so as not to wake baby.

     It would have taken a sharp and careful eye to spot this disturbed soil in those wild unfrequented haunts.

     Having put the baby to bed where it would never have anything to fear again they had temporarily assuaged their feeling of injury.  As said, they would never in their conscious minds have admitted to murder nor were they aware that they were serial killers.  But they talked about their murders constantly in code.  The allusions were cryptic but if a careful investigator had gotten their trust and asked where the cribs of their darlings were the two Ds would proudly have taken him out and pointed out all twenty-four ‘cradles’ where their darlings slept.

page 1732.

     Now that they had Dewey in the car and their subconscious yearnings were aroused they had to establish the precondition for activating their subliminal desires.  It was absolutely necessary that Dewey should trust them like a baby.  Unlike most of their victims Dewey was not a lost highway child running away from home to look for love in all the wrong places.  His mind was riveted on a set purpose.  He also, while not a man of the world, was a man of vast experience in certain areas.  He was in one of his milieux now.

     Psychologically compelled to talk of their activities, although in disguised terms, Daryl asked:  ‘Do they have trouble with hitchhikers being killed in California?’

     ‘I’m sure they do.  A lot of people are killed in California every day but I don’t remember hearing of any sensational crime recently like the one you mentioned.’

     ‘The one I mentioned was where a hitchhiker killed the family not where the hitchhiker was killed.’

     ‘As far as I’m concerned it’s all pretty much the same.  I don’t know what the circumstances were in the case you mentioned but from my experience it’s just as possible that members of the family took the hitchhiker home to kill him and he was more than they bargained for.  I’ve been picked up by some real crazy people in my time.;

page 1733.

     A little twinge went through the Darrels as they quietly assumed Dewey must be referring to them.

     ‘Have you ever been in such a situation?’  Daryl asked with feigned dryness and disinterest.

     ‘Well, yes.  I unfortunately have to hitchhike a lot in California to save money.  I regularly hitch from San Diego to San Francisco and back on weekends.  That’s about twelve hundred miles round trip.  Out of hundreds of rides I consider myself to have been in actual jeopardy maybe thirty times.’

      ‘Where you might be put to sleep?’

     ‘Put to sleep?  That’s a delicate way of saying it.  Yeah.  Where If I hadn’t presented the right attitude and aggression they would have thought they could have taken advantage of me.’

     ‘Really?’

     ‘Well, yeah.  Over half my rides come from queers.  They’re a murderous lot.  You’ve got to watch them all the time.  You can’t ever trust them.  It’s always a test of wills.’

     ‘I think the proper term is ‘homosexuals’, isn’t it?’  Daryl said reprovingly.

     Both Ds were of course homosexuals.  But they were in such a heavy state of denial that even though they slept together they had terms that evaded the consequences.  In those days no one in his right mind would admit to being homosexual but the Ds were not into concealment, they were into denial.  They had been raised to believe that homosexuality was the worst evil a man could commit and hence they would have been overwhelmed with shame if they thought they were homos.

pag1734

     At the same time in their blend of reality and fantasy they professed a disinterested concern for those ‘poor men.’  As they denied their own state they didn’t see why those men should be persecuted since they weren’t hurting anybody and everyone needed ‘divine’ love.  The contrast between their conscious utterances and their subconscious doings was more than heavy irony.

     ‘You mean.’  Dewey replied.  ‘You think homosexual a more accurate term than queer?  Oh no.  Queers aren’t queer because of their desire for men alone.  That’s only an expression of it.  They’re queer because they’re twisted.  Psychologically distracted.  Besides they call themselves queers among themselves.  Trust me.  I’ve got more field research than any psychologist.’

     Both Darrels huffed loudly.

     ‘I hardly think they’re any more twisted than heterosexuals and I don’t think you have the educational background to make any intelligent comments.’  Daryl fumed.

     It may be perceived that what Daryl meant was that Dewey didn’t have a Phd. in Psychology.  This was certainly true but if Dewey could have organized his thoughts, as his data was very profuse, he would have said that as his experience was acquired in the field in real life situations it was more accurate and valuable than any self-serving information given to psychologists by homosexuals in clinical situations.  Dewey wasn’t guessing about anything.  He knew whereof he spoke.

page 1735.

     ‘Well, all I can tell you is this.  I’ve been given rides by hundreds of queers (including you guys, he said to himself) and they’re the only ones who have put me in fear of my life.’

     ‘Homosexuals wouldn’t kill you.’  Both Darrels said simultaneously.

     ‘Not all of them of course; but they all have the same death wish.’

     Both Ds began huffing like they had the whooping cough.

     ‘Let me give you a couple examples.’  Dewey expanded hoping to defuse the situation.  He slid into a manner of speaking called the historical present so attractively used by Damon Runyon in his stories.  ‘Like, this one time I hitch on the Pasadena Freeway.  I do not know where I am on this road; I never go this way… (Teal Kanary had put the suggestion in his mind) …because it is a terrible road to hitch on.  But I am here.  I am on the freeway for the first time.  This highway is a narrow two lane canyon with a concrete bed.  Some guy leaves me off in the narrowest part in the middle of an underpass.  I mean I got about four inches to stand.  I do not even dare to take the chance of turning my back on traffic to get out of the underpass.  The concrete is all broken up like a boxer’s nose; the cars actually lurch over it.  I mean, I have dust marks on my clothes because I am wiping off fenders the cars pass me so close.  I mean, I figure I am a sure gone goose and I mean gone as in permanent.  I do not mean gone like in real gone; I mean gone, as in across the bar, Red Sails In The Sunset unless I can levitate myself out of this place.  Just as I think this in very anguishing terms a ’59 Cadillac El Dorado puts its back door right in front of me.  All I have to do is open it and climb in which I do with the utmost alacrity.  It is like the word hesitation is not yet coined by this old time bird Adam of first name fame only.

page 1736.

     If I am not in such a desperate hope impairing situation I do not do this because when drivers want to put you in the back seat this is very dangerous to one’s person.  I do not do real justice to a blood spattered uniform as I am much better looking whole and entire.  Usually they insist you take up residence in shotgun because then you can’t bop them on the head from behind or take them by the throat or some such other type of foul play.  When they put you in back they have some devious ruse in mind.

     This Caddie does not have a voluptuous blonde behind the wheel as in every sailor’s dream; these are two young guys maybe twenty-five and not too bad looking but what is that to me.  They are in fact nice and respectable looking but still I ask myself how do two such young guys have this spanking new Cadillac El Dorado with such huge fins which as everyone knows is not picked up by showing two nickels and a crumpled stick of chewing gum.  Right away I know these are guys with rounded corners, if you catch my meaning, because in very authoritative tones they tell me what I am going to do to please them.  Dead giveway to being addicted to certain sexual practices which I do not discuss at this time.

page 1737.

     ‘Homosexuals always tell you what you what you’re going to do?’  Daryl said accurately getting the drift.

     ‘Perhaps not tribewide.  There are many types but when they start taking that domineering tone with you you know you are now dealing with queers no matter what they look like.  They are mostly comical clowns because since they are emasculated they don’t have the moral force they try to impersonate.

     So anyway, the guy riding shotgun is telling me how I am not to attempt to get out of the car.  They are to drive me to someplace in Pasadena and I am to take part is some sex show.

     So they proceed to leave the freeway and drive me somewhere into the Pasadena hills into this very expensive neighborhood indeed.  I mean monster lots set a hundred or two hundred feet back like millionaires.  Long, long walkways with borders of flowers.  The kind of place people without no money dream about.  I am astonished to learn they are filled with perverts.’

     The Ds were panting:  ‘What did they make you do?’

     ‘I come to that.  I come to that.  Let me give you good advice:  Patience is a paramount virtue.  You will get to the place when the place arrives.  As it turns out they don’t make me do anything which they can’t anyway.  They can’t.  They can’t. Ain’t nobody gonna steal my jellyroll.  Nobody jumps down my slide.  After telling me again that I am going to be a sexual object, as in ‘thing’, they pull up in front of a house and they must check something with someone inside.  I am not to try to escape or it will go very hard for me.

     What kind of test is this I say quietly to myself.  I figure this must be some kind of neighborhood if this goes on right on the street.  I mean, Imagine the scene as I try to escape and these guys are wrestling with me on the ground in front of all the neighbors while I scream Help! Murder! Police! at the top of my lungs.  Crazy, right?  Real crazy, man.  Crazy words, crazy tune.  I go nearly out of my mind.

page 1738.

     As I have no idea where I am all I know is if I walk downhill sooner or later I get on the flats of East LA.  Even then I do not know what kind of neighborhoods possibly injurious to my health I pass through or where I am when I am where I figure I arrive at the spot I am thinking is there.  As I believe there is always time to bid the devil good moring when I meet him, I sit tight.

     Pretty soon these two young guys come out and say my services are not required after all so they drive me back to the freeway and drop me off.  By this time it is not worth going on to San Francisco so my weekend in shot.’

     ‘Do you really think they would have had their way with you and then snuffed you?’  Daryl asked breathlessly.

     ‘Most certainly.  They find bodies afloat in the surf from LA to Tijuana every day many of them bearing the marks of ritual murder.  There is a lot of witchcraft and sorcery stuff in LA.  You know, where somebody is a sacrifice to the devil goes on more than people think.’

     ‘Gracious?  California must be some place.  Have you ever been involved in such things/’  Darly asked wide eyed.

     ‘I am present at ceremonies but not at sacrifices.  No. No.  I never involve myself.  So, anyway as I say another night I am heading South, Sunday night, naturally, when I am picked up by this gay guy in Bakersfield.  They must call it Bakersfield because it is hotter than an oven there.  Trust me.

     This one guy I am riding with dumps me out in front of this bar on the South edge of town.  There is a bar by the ramp so as I am watching through the bar window this guy spots me, tosses down his beer and rushes to his car in the parking lot.  He wheels onto the freeway and stops right in front of me.  ’48 Frazer if you can believe it.  Buffalo logo on front, I only see one other in my life.  I am very leery of this ride but I get in anyway.

     This guy is so queer it is embarrassing, probably even to his mother who loves him very much in spite of herself as mother’s are prone to do.  Right away this flake starts telling me what I am going to do if I am to continue residence among the living.

     He tells me there is this knoll up ahead which he is to drive behind and I am getting out, undress and dance for him.  Then I am to blow him, then he is to glide in my slide and then if he is abundantly satisfied with my performance he is to give me the gift of my life.’

     ‘You did it then:’  The Ds asked with their right hands pressed to their chests, eyes wide in wonder.

     ‘No, I do not.’

     ‘Well, you’re still here.  What happened?’

     ‘Listen up, I tell you.  You do not believe me but I am psychologically attuned to the workings of the queer mind.  I know how susceptible they are to sexual bushwa.  So I tell him something like this: I say,  Hmmm.  Well, you know, I understand your desires very well but I think you must be very, very disappointed with me for I am constitutionally unable to be of service to you.

page 1740,

     The word ‘constitutionally’ is very impressive to this guy and snaps his head around.  So I say this word to him again.  I say further, in explanation, that this is because I am never able to mature sexually, which is to say in vulgar terms, I cannot get a hard on.

     He looks at me incredulously.  I smile wanly and explain further.  Yes, this is true.  It is true all my life, even as I speak.  There comes a time in my young life when it is apparent to me that I am somewhat different than anybody I know for they all talk of boners, hard ons, getting stiff, erections and suchlike while I am incapable of getting the drift of their talk.  I have too much embarrassment to ask them but I tell them:  What is it you talk about.

     They explain and I am aghast, whatever a ghast may be, I realize there is this short coming in me.  Since, I say, I do everything in my power to achieve this state but I always come up short.  I tell him that I try everything: boys, girls, young girls, pubescent boys and girls, women, grandmas, animals, masturbation, holes in fences, lard cans…’

     ‘Lard cans?’

     ‘Yes, even lard cans.’ Dewey repeated trying to suppress a smile.

page 1741.

     ‘How lard cans?’

     ‘Well, I read somewhere, I am a voluminous reader, that there is this guy somewhere who takes a fresh can of lard and drives his dick in it.  By the time he gets it in he is already giving the lard his own peculiar flavor.  But as I say I tell this guy that I am physiologically incomplete.  A freak.  I tell him by the time I give up on the lard can the only thing that changes in me is that the whole front of me is smeared white with lard.

     He listens to me with an expression of horror.  HIs mouth gapes wider than the crack of dawn and twice as lubricious.  Then as I finish the result is more than I expect.  He slams on his brakes right in the fast lane of a four lane highway and says to me:  ‘Well, you are of absolutely no use to me.  We’d better let you out right here.’

     ‘I am compelled to get out of this fag’s car while it sits in the fast lane.  Luckily this is late at night and there is no other car on the road or who can be sure what happens.

     Then he pulls a U-ey and bumps over the meridian speeding back into Bakersfield just like he has met the devil but does not even say good morning.  What a guy!

     So, you see, homosexuals are not only dangerous but out of control.  This is the end of my true story.  Finis, as they say at the end of books.’

     There was a moment of silence while these stories sank into the minds of the two Ds.  Dewey ostentatiously took his Japanese pearl handled clasp knife out of pocket and began to pare what remained of his nails.  Who was it?  TR, I believe, who said:  ‘Speak softly and carry a clasp knife.’

     Then Daryl said incredulously:  ‘And he believed you?’

     ‘Why not?  It may be true but I am too ashamed to admit it, perhaps.’

     Both Darrels blew breath between their compressed lips in derision.

     ‘Oh yeah?’  Dewey responded confident that he had this situation under control.

     Then Dewey said the words that, if not his life, may have saved him from considerable annoyance:  You can trust me more than you can those guys.  They aren’t trustworthy at all.’

     ‘You don’t trust us?’  Breathed Daryl unconsciously giving away their identity.

     ‘Well, as far as that goes I sure as hell wouldn’t trust youse with my life.’

     All things considered the Darrels decided that this baby wasn’t worthy to be put in his cradle by them.

     ‘It’s his own fault.’  Daryl said cryptically to Darrel’s ear.

     Darrel nodded emphatically.

     Things were allowed to lapse into silence after that exchange.  They rolled silently through the pines and the little crossroads that appeared periodically.  As they passed one, two men were standing by the road in front of a garage.  The two men watched them approach from some distance.  Both Darrels and Dewey fixed their gazes on them from the same distance.

page 1743.

     ‘See that car, Earl?’

     ‘What?  You mean this Hudson automobile comin’?’  Earl replied neatly displaying his profound knowledge of makes while identifying the only car passing within the last half hour.

     ‘Yeh.  That’s the one.  Notice anything funny about it?’

     ‘Well, the paint job’s not too shiny.’

     ‘No, that’s not what I mean.  That car’s been coming by here every Sunday for over a year.  There’s always those same two fat guys in front while there’s always a different guy in the back seat.  Something’s happening here and I think I know what it is.’

     Both Darrels and Dewey saw this conversation and thought they had psychically overheard it.

     ‘No kidding, Doug?  Well, what do you think is goin’ on?’

     ‘I think they gettin’ they dick sucked.  That’s what I think.’  Doug said from under lowered brows.

     Doug wasn’t queer but he like getting his dick sucked and he wasn’t oo particular about who did it.  He wouldn’t have approached a man but the thought of somebody getting something he wasn’t tweaked his Animus.

     ‘Somebody’s got a real long dick with two heads.’  Earl said unable to imagine how three men sitting so far apart could be so engaged.

     ‘Aw, you silly…’ Doug began and then let it drop as the car flowed past.

     The two Darrels thought they heard a conversation in which their dear babies were discussed causing them uneasiness as they feared Doug might sic the cops on them.  They exchanged significant glances.

page 1744.

    Darrel had an amazing foot as Daryl pointed out to Dewey for his adulation.  During the whole trip the speed never varied by more than one mile off fifty up hill or down.  Dewey would rather they had driven faster but didn’t find himself in a position to say anything.  Heck, forty-eight hours had passed long ago.  He was wondering if he’d get there before he had to come back.

     Then, just as the sun slipped below the horizon behind them the towers of Tulsa rose to the left of them.  They rejoined Highway 66.  The Darrels were excessively polite as they crossed the highway to let Dewey out.

     ‘This is Tulsa.  Just keep going East although we think you will have a very difficult time getting a ride because those murders were committed just northeast of Tulsa.  As you can see whe have kept our word with you.  We said we would get you to Tulsa and here you are.  You see, we are trustworthy,’

     And then the Darrels continued on.

     Dewey stepped to the side of 66, put his thumb out and reviewed his situation.

If Nine Was Seven

     As the Darrels drove away Daryl said to Darrel with a musing laugh:  “Have you ever heard anyone talk like that in your life?  And gracious, what words.’

     ‘Oh, I know.  ‘Ain’t nobody gonna steal my jellyroll.’ and ‘Glide in my slide.’  What can they mean?  And he just prattled on forever in that strange dialect.  Oh, lands sake, what an amusing place that California must be.  An exotic’s paradise.  Some divine Atlantis that hasn’t fallen into the ocean yet.’

     ‘Yes.  Light years ahead of us.’

     Then Darrel turned to Daryl simultaneously and said together:  ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’

      Giggling incontrollably Daryl said:  ‘Yes.’

     ‘When?’ Giggled Darrel in return.

     ‘Well, the New Year is a time for new beginnings, don’t you think?’

     ‘Well then, we’ll go to San Francisco and dance the Grizzly  Bear there on New Years Eve.’

     And so the Darrels prepared to get their act out of Oklahoma and take it to Highway 101.

     

     The first three cars whipped by Dewey.  Oklahoma was a far cry from California.  66 was no 99.  These people weren’t used to seeing endless lines of sailors along the highway.  The cars passed him by; the passengers gave him dirty looks.  There were  not even the usual sexual predators to move him on down the line.  He might has well have been rooted to the spot.

     After an hour of indifference, obscene signs and catcalls Trueman thought he’d better further his cause by walking along.  As night fell Dewey was apprehensive of trying to hitch in the dark.  This place was extremely uncalifornia.

     Dewey walked and walked.  As he had had nothing to drink or eat since Thursday and this was now Saturday night he began to feel his thirst although anxiety dispelled his hunger.  His stomach was tight.  Before this section of highway became an integral part of the Superslab 66 was a four lane road with a half mile apron on Dewey’s side.

     Looking around in some despair Dewey noted a restaurant or some such thing to which people were going in numbers.  He noticed that the men were wearing tuxedos and the women evening dresses but no matter.

     Dewey had no idea how his appearance had deteriorated.  He wasn’t aware that he didn’t look quite as sharp as when he left San Diego.  He certainly wasn’t living on Tulsa time.  He now had the dust of five states on his clothes and shoes.  His uniform no longer had a press; he had a three day growth of scraggly youthful beard.  To add to which his mental strain showed on his face.

     As he approached he could see what appreared to be a coffee bar to the left side.  The building was designed to resemble a Greek temple with a long high set of steps leading to the doors.  He mounted the steps when a body appeared in front of him on the landing and a voice sternly announced:  ‘You can’t come in here.’

     Here was a clash of cultures.  Dewey focused his eyes on this spot from where the voice came down.  There he saw a buffoon in a ten gallon hat, tuxedo and long pointy toed yellow snakeskin cowboy boots with silver tips.  This apparition was claiming to be better than him.

page 1747.

     Must be dress boots.  Thought Dewey.  Definitely not the outfit in which the West was won.

    Suppressing his mirth Dewey asked:  ‘Why not?’

    ”Cause you can’t.’  The apparition growled.

     Dewey looked again at the people arriving in their evening clothes.  Was that it?  Well, he had the best argument in the world ready.

     ‘Oh, ;you mean because they’re wearing tuxedos.  Well, I’m wearing a Navy tuxedo.  When I went in the Navy they told me this uniform was just as good as a tuxedo anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  Pardon me, Pardner.’

     The ‘gentleman’ cowhand put up a hand as though to thrust Dewey down the steps.

     ‘I said you can’t come in here.’

     ‘Is this a private club?’

     ‘No.’

     ‘Well, then, step aside, I want a cup of coffee.’

     ‘No, you can’t come in here.’

     The thought of something liquid began to dominate Dewey’s mind.  Consciously demeaning himself he asked if he could go around to the kitchen to get a glass of water.  The cowboy in this most patriotic of states, perhaps he was even from Muskogee, showed no respect for the uniform of his country.  He coldly turned Dewey away.  As in Hong Kong Dewey learned that he was classed with the ‘niggers.’

     Forcing the issue could only work to Dewey’s disadvantage.  The ‘genteel’ cowhand was much bigger than he was while occupying a stronger strategical position.  If Dewey were thrown down the stairs into the dirt he would only be humilated which didn’t matter too much to him in this land of boors, but his clothes might be torn or soiled.  Wouldn’t look good further down the line.  Still he was thirsty, he persisted.

page 1748.

     ‘Listen, I’m in the service.  I’m defending the country.  The only reason you can sleep well at night is because I’m in the front lines.  Now move aside, I want a cup of coffee.’

     The hybrid clodhopper couldn’t suppress a smile:  ‘If you’re the reason for my safety I won’t be able to sleep.  Move on.’

     ‘Yeah?  Well, if you’re what I’m defending then I’m really wasting my time.  I hope you choke on your food.’

     Dewey tramped back to the highway in what was now full darkness.  There weren’t many cars and they weren’t interested in giving him a ride.  Uncertain as to what to do Dewey walked down 66 with his thumb out thirsty and dispirited.  Cursing Kanary and the situation he had been led into Dewey was presented with a new and insurmountable barrier.

     He pproached the toll gates of the Will Rogers Turnpike.  The highway was no longer open.  Nobody rides for free took on a new meaning; you had to pay to drive this road.  Halfway across America a barrier had been placed that stopped his progress.  He could advance no further.

     A chain link fence bordered the Turnpike.  The fence was connected to the toll booths.  Dewey looked at the barrier for a while his mind full of indignation.  First these people wouldn’t let him buy a cup of coffee and now they had closed the road to him.  Then he stepped through an unused tollbooth to take up a position on the side of the Turnpike.

page 1749.

     ‘Hey.  Hey you, Sailor.’  Shouted an attendant.

     ‘Yeah.  What’s that?’  Dewey shouted back.

     ‘You can’t do that.  There’s no hitchhiking allowed on the Will Rogers Turnpike.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Says who?’  Dewey said developing a distaste for Tulsa.

      ‘I’m only trying to help you, buddy.  The cops will pick you up in a minute.’

     ‘What am I supposed to do?  I gotta get to Michigan for Christmas.  This is the road.  You can’t prevent me using the highways of America.’

     ‘I know, I know.  But the police will get you in a minute.  Come over here.  I’ll tell you what I’ll do.’

     ‘What?’  Dewey replied walking over to the booth.

     ‘Just stand here but don’t put your thumb out.  That won’t be against the rules.  I’ll tell people you’re going to Michigan and ask them if they’ll give you a ride.  You don’t say anything.’

     ‘Alright.  That sounds good.  Thanks.’

     Dewey stood for an hour while the attendant did his best to get him a ride.  When the Drivers looked back at Dewey now with wear and tiredness making his pimpled face look fiercer then ever especially as Dewey didn’t even try to look ingratiating, the drivers fearfully shook their head no.  The later it got the fewer cars came up to the gate.  Certainly once past midnight traffic would be non-existent.

page 1750.

     Dewey had noticed anoher road that turned North off 66.  North was an acceptable direction.

     ‘What’s that road over there?’  Dewey asked his benefactor.

     ‘Oh, that road.  It goes to Claremore.  People that don’t want to pay the toll take that one.’

     Dewey preferred to keep moving.

     ‘Maybe i’ll take that road.’  He said.

     ‘Naw.  I wouldn’t do that.  If you don’t think they’re many cars here there won’t be any there.  Believe me, you’re better off waiting here.’

     ‘Yeah.  But you get off at twelve and the next guy might not be willing to help me like you.’

     ‘That’s possible.’

     ‘So I think I’ll take my chances over there.  At least I can keep moving.’

     ‘Do what you want, but I think you’re making a mistake.’

     ‘Thanks for everything.’  Dewey said trudging the distance to the Claremore road.  The attendant was right.  What had seemed like traffic to Claremore was a mirage.  Unable to bear the sight of the tollbooth that proclaimed his error Dewey compounded the error by walking down the road into the enshrouding darkness.

     He walked along disconsolately.  No cars passed.  He walked and walked.  In his mind getting more confused after being up for seventy-two hours Dewey had imagined that Claremore was just a couple miles away.  Too late to turn back.  Dewey stood blinking by the side of the road.

page 1751.

     There had been no cars pass since he had been on the Claremore road.  Then a group of high school kids roared by him.  they were obviously drinking and in a hell raising mood.  The memory of the murder of the family down the well was still fresh in the minds of the locals.  The spirit of indignation and outrage still rode high.

     Dewey had dismissed the story told him by the two Ds as so much flim flam.  The story was true while it had happened not too far from Claremore off this very road.  A hitchhiker in the area in the light of these murders all but took his life in his hands.

     One member in the car that had passed Dewey had known the murdered family.  At his insistence the car doubled back.  Dewey watched it pass on the other side of the road then slide through a U like a bootlegger before a roadblock and come toward him again.  He thought of stepping off the road but it was so dark he couldn’t examine the foliage behind him to see if it concealed a barbed wire fince or whether the  ditch had water in it or how much.

     His hope was that as they were drinking they might be too drunk to stand or run in which case they probably wouldn’t go too far from the car.  They might try to run him down but as the shoulder was soft and narrow beside the ditch he didn’t think it likely.

     The boys came back again.  The boy who had known the victims emerged from the back window to the waist to shout incoherently at Dewey.  Trueman was amazed at the indiscretion of the boy.  All anyone had to do was hold up their fist to deliver a mortal blow utilixing the momentum of the car at thirty miles an hour.

page 1752.

     Dewey watched apprehensively as the car turned for another pass.  This time they screeched to a stop in front of himl  Dewey tensed.

     ‘Want a ride?’  the kid in the passenger seat asked derisively.

     It would have been to Dewey’s advantage to relax and try to engage them in conversation.  He was an exotic in Oklahoma thereby holding great interest but Dewey was always too withdrawn and self-interested to turn situations like this to his advantage.

     ‘Doesn’t look like you’ve got enough room for me.’  He said tersely, watching closely.

     ‘Hop in.’  The boy taunted.

      From the tone of his voice Dewey knew they would drive off if he reached for the door.  He extended his hand; he was right.  The driver revved and popped the clutch laying a fifteen foot strip of rubber.

     The driver immediately squealed to a sdtop a hundred feet down the road.

     ‘Hey, we’re sorry; thought you were in.  Come on, we’ll give you a ride this time.’

     Dewey knew they were playing with him but he also saw the danger of his situation.  Rather than risk antagonizing them he thought it might be prudent to let them think they had made a fool of him one time.  He began to walk slowly toward the car.

page 1783.

     ‘Come on, hurry up.  Run.  We can’t wait forever.’  Screamed the kid.

     In compliance Dewey broke into a slow trot.  As he approached the driver put his foot into it to lay another strip once again screeching to a stop.  This was the critical point.  if  Dewey followed them again and yet a third time they would think him a fool attacking him on that basis.  If he declined the second invitation they might respect his knowhow or they might decide to attack him anyway.

     Dewey had hitched tens of thousands of mile and survived them all.  He though he would be OK if he refused to follow so he didn’t.  He was alarmed when the driver put it in reverse and peeled back three quarters of the distance.  This could be serious.  Dewey grabbed his bag determining to pass in front of the car as it backed across his path surprising the boys by the unespected move while disappearing into the the brush across the highway where he could see where he was going.

     This was not necessary because the fiend of the victims merely leaned out the window to shout:  ‘You dirty murderer.  Killer of innocent people.’

     ‘What a strange experience.’  Dewey thought, having forgotten the Darrels’ story.  ‘Murderer of what?  Those guys must be holding a lot of beer.’

     The boys raced into Claremore to telephone the Oklahoma State Police that they had passed the killer on the highway.  A car with two officers was despatched to investigate.  Without realizing it the boys had done Dewey an immense favor; nor did Dewey realize it when the back door of the police car obligingly swung open for him.

     ‘Get in.’  Commanded Officer Daniel ‘Duke’ Deakins of the Oklahoma State Police.

page 1734.

     Dewey complied grumbling to himself:  ‘That’s something fags and cops have in common; they always want to tell you what to do.’

     ‘Well, well, well.  What do we have here?’  Deakins exclaimed, absolutely sure that had captured the killer.  Dan was young, twenty-three, exhilaratingly new to the Force, eager and anxious to prove himself.  Catching a killer so notorious would be a brilliant start to his career.  Evaluating Dewey he thought that his uniform might be some sort of ruse to disarm drivers.

     He was reaching but there was some justification for his thinking.  Knowing Claremore road as Dewey didn’t he asked himself what a sailor would be doing hitchhiking on it on a Saturday night.  Why Saturday night, eh?  This was not the Turnpike which was the reasonable place for a through hitcher to be.  If a half dozen cars used the road before moring that would be a traffic jam.  But perhaps late at night Deakins reasoned Dewey thought some unsuspecting family might take pity on him, then, bingo.

     That may have been how a killer might reason but Dewey wasn’t a killer although he had no idea how stupid he had been to leave the tollbooth of the Will Rogers Turnpike.

     ‘Well, what are we doing all the way from the base on this Saturday night?’  Dan asked thinking Dewey was stationed at the Naval Air Station at Norman just outside Oklahoma City.

     ‘Well, uh.’  Dewey replied uncomprehendingly.  ‘This Saturday night I’m trying to get home to Michigan for Christmas.’

     ‘Not a very likely road for that is it, Son.’

     ‘Well, it wasn’t very promising but it goes in the right direction.  I hadn’t seen but one car before you guys came along.’

     No.  I should think not.  Well, if you’re going from Norman to Michigan you must have leave papers, eh, my lad.”

     ‘Norman?  You mean the Naval Air Station.  I’m not from Norman; I’m from out in California in San Diego.’

     ‘All the way from California?  What did you do?  Surf all the way?’

     Dan thought that an enormously funny joke taking a few minutes to laugh over it.  ‘Hand over the papers, my boy.  Thank-you.  You must have Navy ID?  Yes, that too.  Driver’s license?  No.’

     Deakins was trembling with excitement, overjoyed that he would bring in the killer on the highway.

     ‘You realy like to throw people down wells, eh?’

     ‘Easy, Duke, easy.’  Said his older more experienced partner, Dawkins.

     A light went off in Dewey’s head.  ‘Wells, wells?  Oh, you think I’m the guy who killed that family and dumped the bodies down the well?’

page 1756.

     ‘OH, you know about that then?’

     ‘These two guys who gave me a ride from Amarillo to Tulsa told me about it.  They said I’d have a hard time getting a ride out here too and they were right.’

     ‘Oh, two guys told you, did they?’  Dan was sure Dewey was making this up.  He was sure he had his man; his hands were trembling so bad the papers rattled.  He was so excited he couldn’t focus on the letters.

     ‘We got him.  Let’s take him in.’  Duke muttered to Dawkins.  ‘

     ‘No. No. just a minute Duke, look at his papers.  They seem to be in order.  Hold still for a minute.  See, he only left San Diego on the thirteenth.   The murders took place on November thirtieth.’

     ‘Oh, these could be phony.’  Deakins said in desperation.  ‘We can always pick him up as a vag to hold him for questioning.’

     ‘Aw, jeez, Duke.  The guy’s tring to get home for Christmas.  Hey, buddy, where were you two weeks ago?’

     ‘Where was I two weeks ago?  Aboard ship in San Diego.  Where else would I be?’

     ‘You’re really hitchhiking all the way from San Diego?  Why?  Why not take the bus, cheaper and faster.’

     ‘Oh man, tell me about it.  I should have. Oh man.’  Dewey said with genuine anguish in his voice.  ‘I let this Yeoman talk me into hitchhiking because he said it was possible to make it in forty-eight hours.’

     ‘Forty-eight hours?  You’re just a little behind scedule.’  Dawkins said stifling a laugh.

     ‘Yeah, I know.  Go ahead and laugh.  Really stupid, hey?  It took me over forty-eight hours to get to Amarillo which is exactly in middle of nowhere.  Not as nowhere as Tulsa, but nowhere.’

     ‘This isn’t the guy, Duke.’

     ‘Let’s take him in anyway, as a vag.’

     ‘No. No.  He’s in the Navy; he’s got visible means of support.  Let’s do ourselves a favor and not make fools of ourselves.  Taking him in will be more paperwork than it’s worth.  They’ll hate us.  Let him get home for Christmas.  What do you say, pal?’

     Deakins was crushed.  His dreams of glory evaporated.  He threw Dewey’s papers over the back of the seat onto the floor and snapped off the dome light.

     ‘Thanks a lot.  Could you leave the light on for a second so I can find my ID?’ Then he muttered under his breath:  ‘What?  Do all you cops go to the same school?’

     ‘We’re going to do you a favor boy.’  Duke Deakins said ignoring Dewey or not even hearing him in his self-preoccupation.  ‘We’re going to ake you into Claremore here where they got a Greyhound office.  A bus comes in at one-thirty bound for St. Louis.  You better be on it.  Savvy?’

     ‘Savvy?’  Dewey said surprised at the use of the word.  ‘Oh yeah.  Uh huh.  I can savvy.  Savvying is one thing I do pretty well.  Can you dig that?  Can you dig as well as I can savvy?

page 1758.

     ‘Don’t get smart with me boy.  We can take you in on vag charges.’  Deakins was disappointed and meant now to take it out on Dewey by dominating him.  Dewey realized this and shut up.  Least said soonest mended.

     ‘You’re damn lucky we’re taking you into Claremore because you could be standing on the road till doomsday and never catch a ride.

     The miles passed by then Dewey saw a sign that said Claremore twenty-five miles.  As he realized the magnitude of the ride which they didn’t have to give him his hostility slowly turned to gratitude.  Thus when Dan and Dick let him out on the corner of Main he was appropriately respectful.

     He shook his clothes in order then looked around.

     Claremore Saturday Night!

     The fities was the golden age of the drag strip.  It was the place you went to see and be seen.  The strip was bigger than church.  Humiliation games were the reason d’ etre for the parade.  To be shown up on the strip was to be mortified before all your peers on the only place on earth where it counted.

     The car was the thing.  With you were king; without it you were nothing.  Drag racing was the ultimate test of manhood.  Why manhood?  It was like two gunfighteers shooting it out at high noon.  A man in a rattletrap had no chance against a man in a new car.  Chopped, lowered, dual mufflers and supercharged was better than a new car.  Perhaps that you could afford a new car or better yet, a customized one proved you were the better man.  No notion of equality among the Revolutionaries of the strip.

page 1759.

     The drag race was the bane of policemen and a danger to society.  The practice of lining two cars up in front of a stop light and peeling out when the light changed led to that other phenomenon of the fities, the actual Drag Race Strip where professional drivers and custom made muscle machines fueled with exotic mixtures vied to set new records in the quarter mile.

     Even the length of the race was determined by the couple of city blocks before the race was over.  From zero to sixty in a quarter mile;  advertising campaigns were  based on the notion.  Big Daddy Don Garlitz even devised a characteristic art for the  sport that eventually limited its appeal.  The art was effective but too vulgar for general consumption.

     Claremore weas an especial sight because the number of participants was just right for the size of the strip, wide with no curbs.  Rather than passing in review bumper to bumper at two miles an hour like on Lankershim there was room to really hoot and holler and carry on.  There was an especial charm because this was all these yokels had to look forward to all week.  I mean Claremore was no Tulsa and Tulsa would have to take lessons from the Sunset Strip of LA.  Now there was a social scene.

     These kids were clean and happy as well as rambunctious.  To add to which they were mean as hell.

     As Dewey watched this parade by he was not a little envious and impressed.  At twenty he was young enough to yearn to relive the experience but too old to join in.  there was a little ache in his heart as he watched.  He hae too many cares to be that carefree.

page 1760.

    

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