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Book VI

Our Lady Of The Blues

A Novel

The Shadow Knows

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Fighting his own battles far from San Diego another threat to Dewey’s wellbeing was going forward in the mind of Yehouda Yisraeli, Our Lady Of The Blues.

Many things had happened for Yisraeli in the five months the Teufelsdreck was overseas. When the ship left he had his porn business and the Faux Playboy Club. When it returned he had added two more sleazy bars- the Diamond Horseshoe and the Tropical Vista- as well as having laid the groundwork for his own record label- Michael Records.

Yehouda had no ear for popular music but his sidekick, Showbaby Zion did. Showbaby, who was another Jewish ‘expatriate’ from reality, had come west from Baltimore. On the way he dropped the name Irving Cohen in favor of Hoveve Zion. Hoveve was an alternate spelling of Choveve and from that his moniker was corrupted to Showbaby.

He was a follower, quite content to play Robin to Yisraeli’s Batman. Even though he was twice as intelligent as Yehouda and had all the ideas he couldn’t function without a leader.

It was he who suggested Yisraeli pick up the Diamond Horseshoe as a lead in to the record business. The Horseshoe was northwest of Escondido in an unincorporated area. It was one of those nondescript bars offering exotic dancers backed by a hot piano player. In those far off days before Playboy, Hustler, the Sexual Revolution and the abolition of censorship had freed the base desires of man from all restrictions of expression the Horseshoe was a barely licit business catering to only the crudest elements of society.

The girls were not allowed to dance nude or to engage in the grossest ‘dance’ steps. They had to wear bottoms if only a G-string and pasties over their nipples. Most preferred long tassels dangling from the pasties.

These slightly less than topless bars were the successors of burlesque. By 1958 the longstanding traditions of burlesque had been banished from society. If the last burlesque house had not yet been closed its demise was only a few months away. American had convinced itself that vice could be abolished by an act of will. All the Red Light districts in the country had been abolished at the turn of the decade. California’s most famous, the Barbary Coast of San Francisco, had been closed at that time. The well meaning but not very bright moralists who demanded the closure of these districts had no idea that they were merely transforming American society into a pit of immorality by dispersing these illicit areas throughout the population.

In San Francisco the resident of the Barbary Coast merely moved a few blocks west up to lower Broadway and recreated the center of Sin City in that area. Subsequently the whole of San Francisco has been corrupted.

Hank Williams commemorated the change in his song about how the displaced whores who still remained whores destroyed the decent girls when they brought their illicit mores to decent neighborhoods when they were expelled from the Red Light districts.

Thus we allow well meaning but stupid reformers to corrupt our lives in the name of decency. The Horseshoe was one of many clubs that opened in formerly clean areas. Men like Yisraeli who bore a grudge against society were thus given means to undermine the society they hated.

For Showbaby the main attraction of the Horseshoe was a Black pianist and singer name William Morris. Zion had great hopes for the pianist but they were not to be realized as the player had been shorn of all will and hope. Young, too, only twenty-eight.

Forced to turn elsewhere for talent for their fledgling label Showbaby was open minded enough to see the potential of the developing Surf Music groups. At the time Surfboarding was brand new in California. The excitement of the pastime gripped the imaginations of White youth. Surfers were a wild party loving group. They wanted something new and different in music. Thus arose the style known as Surf Guitar. Dick Dale and the Deltones would emerge as the premier Surf group. Confined mainly to the Southland they were not especially well known outside Surf circles.

Showbaby latched onto a group known as Con Crete and the Rebars. They were never to become that famous but they had a following and sold enough records in the Southland to form the basis of Yisraeli’s small but lucrative label.

For Yisraeli the label was merely another means to undermine society. A man of some intellectual reach he realized the limitations of male porn to corrupt general morality. The clubs were effective solvents also but their appeal was limited to an audience that was in search of such entertainment hence already corrupt.

Yehouda wanted something that would invade the entire space of his victims. Their homes, their cars, their minds, the very air they breathed. Records such as the salacious ‘Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box and Hank Ballard’s ‘Work With Me Annie’ and its sequel ‘Annie Had A Baby’ showed him the way to corrupt the very mind of the world. The airwaves could used in a corrosive way.

‘Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box’ with its very suggestive title devolved into a clever denouement in which ‘Box’ was not the woman’s pudenda but her piano stayed within permissible lines but still got the corrosive point in. The singer had essentially said over the radio ‘Baby, I want to fuck you’ which everyone got but still stayed within barely acceptable limits. The same was true of ‘Work With Me Annie’ which described the sexual act also in ambiguous terms.

But the piece de resistance for Yisraeli would be the tune ‘My Boy Lollipop.’ Yehouda had an oral fixation. ‘My Boy Lollipop’ for all of us not too dumb to see through its obvious meaning was a story of fellatio. Even the chorus of ‘lol, lol, lollipop, lol, lol was the very simulation of the tongue movements of the act. And the Girl Group got away with singing it to prepubescent girls over the radio. Of course, the girls were Black to further camouflage objections.

At the same time there was a great horror of oral sex which inexplicably dissolved to become the accepted norm in a very few short years. Perhaps Lenny Bruce helped. ‘My Boy Lolllipop’ probably had its share in dissolving the horror. The horror was so great at the time that the most celebrated criminal case of the era involved Caryl Chessman who had been given the death sentence for forcing women to suck him off while on dates. At the time murderers were walking after serving a mere two or three years so the severity of Chessman’s death sentence demonstrates the detestation in which oral sex was held.

Yisraeli along with Lenny Bruce and other malcontents thus wanted to convert the US into a nation of cocksuckers. Suffice it to say, they succeeded. Thus, while his sidekick, Zion, was trying to produce successful records Yisraeli would seek out the most subversive lyrics.

In the name of social justice he would also seek to promote Black acts. While appearing benevolent he was really trying to stick it to the goyim by making them do what they didn’t want to do. Besides in racist America Blacks were indulged by letting them get away with indecencies that Whites weren’t. No White artist could possibly have gotten away with a recording called ‘Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box’ but nobody was going to call a Black on it. Thus, while appearing to be the progressive agent of change Yisraeli indulged his most criminal proclivities. The role of the Negro in the record business was very much that of the hope of White entrepreneurs to leap frog over the backs of Blacks to fortune.

There was a certain type of beaten down White man whose only hope was to exploit someone more beaten down than he. Thus, his natural prey was the Negro. White women loved to sleep with Negroes because it was the ultimate in sinning. It transgressed the ultimate taboo.

White people thought Blacks were mysterious, inexplicable, living in a mysterious uninhibited primitive consciousness that was the ultimate in freedom. The White entrepreneurs who were as denied and repressed as the Blacks they exploited found excitement in robbing these people who while taboo like themselves were yet so free to express themselves.

Yisraeli was of this White school. He both hated and loved the Black man but mostly he despised him. In his own way William Morris exemplified the Black man to Yisraeli. He was immensely talented yet so weak that he drowned himself in liquor. He thus made himself despicable to Yisraeli’s immense satisfaction. Yehouda was both disappointed and pleased that Morris failed him.

Then too, the record industry was inherently dishonest. The record labels cheated the artists, stole from songwriters and generally refused to disburse any money they didn’t have to. Blacks thought they were singled out but this was not true; the labels cheated everyone. They viewed the artist as a resource for exploitation, something like a gold mine, to get the maximum return. You didn’t share the revenues with the gold mine hence the artists were treated like dirt.

The labels believed that they did all the work from production to distribution to promotion. The artist provided nothing but the inspiration which had cost him nothing. They could see no reason why he should be paid. If he wanted to make money then as they had made him famous for nothing he could cash in on his celebrity by getting up on the stage and shaking it around. They really wanted a cut of the artists performance money too but they couldn’t figure out how to get it. Oh well, the performances were free publicity for their records.

This aspect of being able to cheat and steal was very appealing to Yisraeli’s damaged psyche. No artist was ever to get a dime in royalties out of Our Lady Of The Blues.

On this particular night Yehouda and Showbaby were sitting around the Horseshoe sipping their ginger ales, yes, ginger ales, both men were too astute to become drunks, talking over prospects when it occurred to Yisraeli that Trueman should be coming back soon. This was in late February 1958 just before the payroll bomb burst on the Teufelsdreck.

‘He’ll be back soon.’ Yisraeli said moodily out of the blue.

‘Who?’ Zion said reflectively tossing peanuts in his mouth.

‘Who else? Dewey Trueman.’ Was Yisraeli’s moody reply.

‘Oh, yeah. Him.’ Zion said with just a hint of disgust.

‘I don’t know why you let that guy bother you so much. Try to think about business.’

‘He killed my son.’

‘Umm. I forgot.’ Zion said who, as many times as he had asked, could never get a satisfactory answer as to how Trueman had killed Michael.

‘Well, I haven’t. That sort of thing has got to be punished.’ Yisraeli growled as he got up to make a toilet run.

‘The past is the past.’ Zion thought to himself as Yehouda walked away. The he raised his eyes as the door opened and a man pushed through. A big fellow. Six-four with the girth of a two hundred eighty pounder. Taking a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the sleazy bar the man saw William Morris at the piano, a slatternly white woman doing some ‘sensuous’ gyrations on the stage above the bartender and Zion sitting on a stool at the round of the bar.

‘Busy tonight.’ He jeered to himself.

Bert Torbric was a meeter and greeter. He operated on the principle that the more people you knew the better the chances of latching onto something good. He had had one such success several years previously, as he told it, when he had been at a session with a couple composers. On that evening they had come up with ‘Melancholy Baby.’ Torbric had made a couple unwanted but accepted phrasing suggestions for which he demanded and received one third credit, although unacknowledged on the records, hence, even though his name didn’t appear, he considered himself a composer.

That was the extent of Torbric’s talent, however, never forgetting that success he was always on the alert for an opportunity in the music biz.

As his eyes focused he recognized Showbaby Zion sitting alone on his stool. Sitting down beside him he joked: Showbaby! Out slumming?

Showbaby laughed good naturedly. All the bar habitues humored each other.

‘This place is too good for slumming, I can show you places Bert. What’s a high society type like you doing down here?’

‘Oh, you know. I was in the neighborhood.’

Bert ordered a double Jack Daniels on the rocks and was swapping comments on the crusty old bird swinging her tassels in figure eights when a figure with the faint odor of the toilet swooped up ghostlike and silently slid onto the stool beside Torbric.

‘Mr. Show.’ He said around Torbric.

‘Hello, Yehouda.’ Showbaby said, getting the drift. ‘By the way, this is a guy I know- Bert Torbric.’ His introduction and tone indicated Bert wasn’t to be taken seriously.

But, Yehouda Yisraeli was a crafty guy who always had his eyes out for the main chance. As he put it: ‘You never know when a guy might turn up useful.’ Still, he noted Showbaby’s opinion.

He gave Bert a warmer hello then the introduction warranted. As it was, both Showbaby and Yehouda were right but for different reasons. Yehouda, who always ferreted out as much information about an acquaintance as he could threw out a polite: ‘How’s the wife and kids?’

Jackpot!

Bet didn’t wear the ring but he answered: ‘Great. Just great. You know, my oldest son just got out of boot camp. I’m pretty darn proud of him. That kid’s going to have a great career in the Navy.

‘Just out of boot camp? You don’t say.’

‘Yeh. We aren’t losing him though; his ship is based down in San Diego so he’ll be home at least on most weekends.’

‘What did he get, one of those big carriers?’ Asked Yehouda who knew more about the ships of the fleet than the Secretary of the Navy.

No, he got one of the smaller ones, which is OK, they’re easier on a kid than the big ones, a Destroyer Escort, DE 666, the USS Teufelsdreck. Strange name.’

Yehouda’s lip froze to his glass, his color rose, his temples throbbed as he recognized opportunity. ‘Did you say the USS Teufelsdreck?’

‘Yeh, yeh. My boy’ll be home for weekends.’

‘Well then, so will mine.’ Yehouda said to himself in a sarcastic undertone. ‘The lord has delivered my enemy unto me and I will smite him hip and thigh.’

‘You didn’t ask me about my son.’ He interrupted Bert who was launching into his ‘Melancholy Baby’ story.

‘…had a hand…you have a son? How is he?’

‘He’s dead.’ Yisraeli blurted out for dramatic effect but came across as a macabre comic. ‘I had a son, past tense, I no longer do. He was murdered by a pervert.’

‘You don’t say. Sliced him up; shot him?’

‘No, worse than that. He was forced off the road at high speed. It was horrible. His head was buried up the shoulders in the mud of the ditch.;

‘Oh, horrible.’

‘Yes. He was the only son I had.’

‘Well, his killer is probably rotting in jail now.’

‘No. It was a deserted road and the lousy cops said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring the son-of-a-bitch to justice but I know.

‘You know what?’

‘You mean who. It was this dirty little pervert by the name of Dewey Trueman.’

‘You mean he was a pervert because he ran your son off the road?’

‘Oh, no, no. No! This guy is bad seed all the way. Insanity has been in his family for generations. I’m sure. His old man is rotting in the Michigan hospital for the criminally insane at this very moment. I helped put him there. Everybody knew Trueman was going to do something we just didn’t know what or when. Kids from broken homes are all like that anyway. They’re just bombs ticking away. You will hardly believe how depraved he is. He was caught in the act of giving a row of guys blow jobs outside a roller skating rink.’

Bert Torbric was horrified as he well should have been.

‘Umm, a monster and a pervert at the same time. He should be put away, in an insane asylum, like his father. I agree with you that stuff is hereditary.’

‘Yes. He should be put away.’ Yisraeli said seizing on the idea. Knowing his own mental anguish it would, the thought, be a great balm to his emotions if he could know that Trueman was serving his time as a surrogate.

‘You won’t believe this Bert.’ Yisraeli said in his most heartfelt tone. ‘But, he’s not only in San Diego but your son will be contaminated by serving on the same ship he’s on.’

‘You can’t…the Teufelsdreck?…mean that!’

‘I can and I do. There must be some way you could help me punish him and save your son from contamination at the same time, isn’t there?’

‘Gee, I don’t know what I could do…wait a minute…maybe there is something.’

‘What?’ Yisraeli’s eyes glistened with hope.

‘Well, a fellow I went to school with, Gerry Godwin, got a Ph.D in psychiatry. He’s got the right job. Asylum for the criminally insane at Atascadero…’

‘Oh, yes.’ The idea took Yisraeli’s breath away. It would be better than killing Trueman. He knew his own mental turmoil, felt his anguish every minute of every day, there might be considerable balm if he could put Dewey away in an insane asylum. Just as Yisraeli was trapped in his own blighted mind and couldn’t get out, Trueman would be trapped in an insane asylum with dangerous maniacs unable to get out. It would be a living hell…and…Yisraeli would know exactly where Trueman was every minute of every day and be able to dwell on it. It was too perfect.

‘…but, even if you got him in, he would be AWOL and the Navy would just come and get him out.’

‘That’s not necessarily so. Nobody need know where he is except for us. He gets put in under a different name, maybe if he did come visit my family…’ Bert said, projecting a scenario, ‘but, he left, say on Saturday, never returned and we haven’t seen him since. He’s just AWOL. Who could ever find him? They wouldn’t know where to look.’

‘Ohhh, yeah. Yes. That would be a perfect crime.’

‘Crime? I thought you said he deserved it.’

‘That’s what I meant, the punishment would perfectly fit his crime. Can I count on you to do that?’ Yisraeli asked eagerly.

Up to this point Bert Torbric had just been talking. He now realized how serious Yisraeli was. If there is money in it he thought, I’ve got a windfall worth more than ‘Melancholy Baby, ever was.

‘Sure. It could be done, but there’s expenses involved, you know. I can’t spend my own money for your benefit.

‘It would be for your son’s benefit too. Well, listen.’ Yisraeli said trying to first get something for nothing. ‘I’m starting a record company. Showbaby will be with me and I could use a guy knowledgeable in music like you. There might be a good paying job in it for a guy like you.’

‘Might be a job, but the expenses are certain, Yehuda. I might be interested in helping you direct this record company that you might start but I would have to cover my expenses.’

‘How much do you think your expenses would be?’

‘Oh, I don’t know.’ Torbric said studying Yisraeli’s potential. ‘I would think two thousand dollars.’

‘Two thousand dollars? What would you have to do other than drive up to Atascadero and back?’

‘Say! Listen, Yehouda, I got the contact, I got to ask for a big favor, maybe it’s a big favor, I don’t know. Besides it takes planning for Chrissakes. I can’t just collar this bozo, throw him in a car and take him up there. That’s kidnapping. He’s gotta volunteer. I gotta involve my son. Rome ain’t built in a day.’

‘Uh, huh, well, you know, I’m starting this record company on a shoestring. How about a thousand?’

‘No. I’ll need a thousand for me and five hundred for my boy.’

‘Oh geez.’ Yisraeli said, rocking back and forth on his stool in agony. ‘You’ve got a point. I don’t say you don’t have a point. But gosh, how about twelve-fifty. I don’t know how I can come up with more than that. I don’t even know how I can come up with that much.’

Tory Torbric wasn’t going to get anything anyway so Bert assented. Twelve hundred fifty dollars to put a man in an asylum for the criminally insane for life. What a bargain.

The men shook hands as Bert studied Yisraeli in an effort to determine if he was for real. Ascertaining that he was he sat back deciding to await the issue.

Yisraeli shortly after excused himself to drive home in an exaltation of pleasure to work out the details for Trueman’s incarceration.   He would be there on the pier when the Teufelsdreck was welcomed back to the States by the dependents.

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Our Lady Of The Blues

Book I, Clip 2

by

R.E. Prindle

Our Lady Of The Blues: Book I, Clip 2a. Posted 6/08/12

He even swam in the fountains in the yard afterwards, and though he did not get very wet, that night his eyes were moist at the thought that the best part of his life was at an end.

Thus Ordway describes the ‘happiest time of his life.’  So it was lived in the politest of societies.  But there still came a time in his life when the ideals he had been taught as a child came into conflict with the ideals of an older broader corrupt society.

Cabot was asked whether he was moral to which he answered yes.  He was then held under until he learned to answer ‘not more nor less than anyone else.’  In other words he descends to a lesser level of morality and he is corrupted by a lower standard.  The question then becomes who determines the level of corruptness and how low do we go.

In American society at large the Judeo-Italian notion of criminality had been lowering the standards of society for six decades.  American society had been unprepared to deal with the level of corruptness brought into American life by the immigrants.  The country had neither laws nor attitudes to resist this incredible degree of criminality.  Indeed, the politicians demanded that society turn a blind eye to this behavior lest Jews and Italians be offended.

Even the greatest crime buster in the history of the world, J. Edgar Hoover, Chief of the Federal Bureau Of Investigation, leader of the G-men, denied the existence of organized crime until after this period.  The renowned crime fighter had built his reputation on defeating lone cowboy desperadoes like John Dillinger, Lester Gillis alias Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and the Barker Gang, but he did not have one single achievement against  the urban Judeo-Italian gangs.  Even the arrest of Lepke Buchalter of Murder, Inc., had been arranged by his fellow gangsters to get him out of the way.

In a couple of years the Kennedy family would employ Mafia muscle to swing the presidential election to themselves.  Thus, in sixty years the vilest criminal elements had come to an accord with the US government.  Further the US government would employ criminals in a plan to assassinate the man who had dispossessed the mob of their criminal enterprises- Fidel Castro.

Thus the descent into corruption from Ordway in 1921 to Kennedy in 1960 was incredible.  Obviously at the time of this story the lowest elements of the underworld were determining the moral level of the United States.  If it was OK for them, if the law would tolerate the murderous crimes of the underworld, then would the rest of the people of the country expect less for themselves?  No.

While Ordway was of a very privileged class nevertheless Dewey Trueman and the majority of his shipmates had enjoyed a variation of Ordway’s life until his dunking.  But now the adjustment the crew of the Teufelsdreck would have make to their dunking was much greater.  The gangland focus was shifting from Havana to Las Vegas.  Boomtimes in the desert with its gambling, prostitution and corruption would undermine morality in the fleet.

As Dewey lay with his back to his shipmates attempting to deal with the homosexuality and crime that he intuited aboard the ship his mind reeled.  What was he to do?  Could he let them duck him and come up saying he was no moral than they?  Should he accept the conditions and ‘go with the flow’ which might cost him all of his self-esteem or resist, fight the corruption, and suffer the consequences of his ‘arrogance.’

Could he endure as someone who couldn’t respect himself?  Dewey already suffered from low self-esteem inflicted on him in his childhood.  It was recovering this self-esteem that was the central battle of his life.  Rather than sacrifice his own identity on the altar of conformity, of ‘going with the flow’ in whatever direction that might lead he had better resist.  Better to be battered shapeless than to knowingly assume the position.  Thus, when he awoke the next morning his will was armored for a fight to the finish.  He would attempt to sink no lower than had Ordway.

Mustered the next morning Dewey was given a work assignment.  Life aboard ship began in earnest.  Having just returned from an Asian tour of duty the ship was in deplorable condition.  It appeared that no work had been done for at least six months.  It was as though they were beginning from scratch.  Yet the miracle was that this bunch of uncaring misfits would have the Teufelsdreck shipshape within ten days attributable to the genius of Navy organization.

Dewey was assigned to repair damage to the peeling numbers on the bow.  He and an old hand, Lester Peebles, were assigned the task.  Peebles was to be transferred shortly so there is no need to give his description except to say that he was short, weasel faced, slovenly and of low moral order.

Dewey, young and naïve, believed it was his duty to work as fast and as well as circumstances allowed.  Peebles, who had been around, knew that one worked as slowly as possible and caused as many obstructions as possible.  He knew that the standard was that a four hour job should take a minimum, a bare minimum of two days.  He accurately reflected shipboard standards so it was also his job with a new man to condition him to reality.

You will see how brilliantly the Navy organized to overcome this inherent sabotage which could not be avoided.  Central to the Navy’s success of course was that the work force could not walk off the job and quit.  Without that coercion even the Navy must have failed.

The bow of the Teufelsdreck was about fifteen feet above the waterline thus one man would work over the side while the other tended him.  The roles alternated  after lunch.  Dewey as new man was the first to go over.  A wooden board called a stage was lowered over the side to stand on.  At the lowest point the stage was only inches from the water.  The bow curved out at the top so the stage was three or four feet away from the side at the bottom.  There are several metal rings welded to the bow of a ship if you look closely.  A smaller line passed through a loop, snugs the stage up close to the side to facilitate work.

Even so work is not easy.  You have to hold onto a stage line with one hand and paint with the other while balancing on a wobbling board.  It can be done however.

Dewey went over the side and slid down the stage line.   He snugged up, examined the numbers up close and took his wire brush out of his back pocket to begin to scour the numbers clean.

Up to this point the process had consumed the whole morning so Dewey climbed back up the line to go to lunch.

Lunch over at one, it took Peebles till one-thirty-five to find his way back to the fo’csle.  It took him another full forty-five minutes to get over the side.  This was quite clearly a four or five day job.  It took seven.  Like Penelope unweaving the work of the day at night, Peebles managed to undo what Trueman had done so that Trueman had to do it over.

Over that period of time Peebles filled Dewey in on shipboard gossip.  He preferred to speak to Dewey when Dewey was on the stage.

‘Yeah, Descartes is a pretty good old boy.  He’s a man’s man.’

‘Isn’t that pronounced Day Cartes?”

‘Is it spelled Day Cartes?  Peebles looked at Trueman suspiciously.  Seemed pretty clear cut to Peebles, nor was his logic wrong.

‘Yeah, but it’s French, like Rene Des Cartes.  I’ll bet he pronounces it Day Cartes himself.’

Peebles had dropped out school in the ninth grade.  He had no way to even follow Dewey’s argument.  He spelled the name out in his mind and could find no other pronunciation than DessCartes.  He looked down hard at Dewey wondering how stupid or troublesome the guy would be.

‘Uh, doesn’t matter.  You call it what you want and I’ll call it what I want.’  Peebles tried to regain his thought.  ‘Anyway the Captain is an alright guy.  He understand how to manage men.’

‘Right.  How’s that?’

‘He doesn’t try to enforce silly rules.  You know, if something important comes up and you can’t get back to the ship for two or three days he doesn’t even give you a Captain’s Mast.  You don’t know Stan Casien but he’s been gone three weeks now.’

‘Three weeks?  Isn’t that AWOL?’

‘Will be if he doesn’t come back.  But, that’s just it, if he doesn’t come back then he must have a good reason.  The Captain will understand that.’

‘Well, don’t you think he would have to be tried for desertion?’

‘Not if he’s got a good reason.  You see, Captain De…the Captain would understand that.  That’s why he’s a man’s man.’

In fact Capt. Descartes was not only tolerant he was lax.  He so desired the esteem of the men that, in certain cases, he let them get away with so much and ran such a loose ship that he was about to be transferred to shore duty.  When Stan Casien did return after more than a month AWOL Capt. Descartes scandalized the squadron by giving him only seven days restriction although, contrary to Peebles’ expectations, he did give Casien a Captain’s Mast.

The lenience of the sentence was such that discipline aboard the Teufelsdreck evaporated completely.  The lack of order nearly drove Trueman mad.

‘You met Bent Cygnette yet?’  Peebles asked giving the stage line a twitch which sent the stage swinging wildly as Dewey overcompensated to regain his balance.  His brush swiped wildly smearing the white of the number over the gray of the side.

‘Come on, Peebles, knock it off; you made me smear the paint.’

‘Yah.  You’re pretty clumsy.  Ha ha ha.  Ah, just a little extra work that’s all.   We’ve got plenty of time.  You do understand that don’t you?  We got all the time in the world.  Keep your cool.  Cygnette?  Know him yet?’

‘No.  Who is he?’

‘Gunner’s Mate.  Seaman.  Gonna be Third Class before too long though.  Real tough nut, him and his sidekick, Kunkle.

‘Oh yeah?  Real fighter, huh?’

‘Don’t say I said it ‘cause I don’t want no trouble but I kinda wonder about his reputation.  I mean, you know, a lot of his fights are done this way.  He and Kunkel go to a bar.  Cygnette picks a fight, Kunkel goes outside first, Cygnette leads the guy he picked a fight with outside.  Kunkel waits beside the door, then pops the guy as he comes out and then Cygnette lets him have a couple.  Fight’s over.’

‘Not a fair fighter, huh?’

Let’s just say he likes to have the percentages on his side.  A real follower of Casey Stengel.  He’s a good puncher though.  Good man.  I don’t want to get in his way.  I seen him once coming back from liberty.  There’s this drunk sailor in a phone booth.  Cygnette hauls him out and whales on him.  I think he’s tough alright but all his fights I heard of are like that.  Got everybody on board scared though.’

‘Oh Yeah.  Bent Cygnette.  Hmm.  I’ll look for him.’

At the end of the seven days orders came for the Teufelsdreck to put to sea for gunnery practice.  By this time the ship, although not shipshape had been pretty well cleaned up.  As Dewey looked about it was possible to take some pride in the steel beast.

Gunnery practice was one of the highlights of shipboard life.  Here was high fun on the high seas.  When a ship had gunnery proficiency it was allowed to paint a large white E on the smokestack to announce to the fleet that a crackerjack crew was on board.  If awarded your efficiency grade for two or three years in succession a hash mark was painted below the E for each year.  The Teufelsdreck had a bare stack when it left port but on its return the old bucket was entitled to wear an E.  Hashmarks would be awarded for the two successive years.

Exercises for the four ship squadron were held day by day so for four days the Teufelsdreck steamed out every morning to return every evening.  The ship was reassigned from the Naval Station to the Buoys.

There was always a war going on in Dewey’s mind between the forces of Dark and Light.  In other words he had a split personality or, in still more other words, he did not have an integrated personality.  It is highly doubtful whether he was more or less disintegrated than those about him but as he was not interested in impressing them, as they were with each other, he did little to conceal his disorder.

He would have expressed matters in the light that he was exploring the parameters and trying to rectify the situation, in other words, integrate his personality.  On the good ship, the Golden Vanity, everyone is his own prince thus Dewey’s shipmates tended to see themselves as the epitome of perfection while all others were wallowing in the slough of despond.  Dewey understood that his will and actions were not correlated which he saw as a deficiency but at the same time he saw no one better off.  His pride was offended when others treated him, as they did, as less than themselves.  Or, perhaps, he was over sensitive and tended to project his deficiencies on others.  He knew that his perception of reality was off center.

Patient virtue must suffer so he dismissed everyone else as irrelevant.  Nevertheless his depression sat on him as the great Alaskan Depression swirls around that gulf and never leaves.  His sunny days were merely a relaxation or shift in the depression.  But even though always under a low pressure system he could see and appreciate the glorious light of the adjoining high pressure system.

Thus even as the Deck Force gathered on the fo’c’sle to cast off the lines, each member trying to increase his own stature by bringing the others down, Dewey contrasted their dark presence with the radiance of the glorious Southern California sunshine.

During the preceding week the Naval characters of the seven sailors had solidified.  Tidwell was darker and more withdrawn than ever.  Dennis La Frenniere had been thoroughly terrified into the character of Frenchy.  He now spoke with a terrible French accent addressing everyone as Meeshur.  Brand and Dant formed a close Damon and Pythias solidarity and bore up rather well with each other’s support.  Kind of a little Memphis Mafia.

‘Cracker Jack’ Driscoll, who was a real cracker from Waycross, Georgia, while responding to Trueman’s cynicism  was gradually realizing he had found a real home in the Navy.  Driscoll had been thoroughly beaten down in his home town.  He had been denied any prospects whatsoever, tormented at school, denied on the streets and belittled in his home.  He had been forbidden to have aspirations.  The only prospect before him had been degradation and inferiority.  There would have been no way for him to rise from the bottom of the barrel had he stayed in Waycross.

Driscoll was a very good looking kid.  His face was a cross between Clark Gable and Sam Ketcham.  Six foot, exquisitely proportioned, his intelligence had it not been inhibited by his emotional turmoil would have been more than adequate.  His will, while not paralyzed was so severely inhibited that the Navy appeared to him the only way to realize any dignity in life.  For him the Navy was a giant step up.

His self-esteem and will had been so severely depressed that he never thought to seek a rating with quicker advancement possibilities and more dignity.  He was a cracker and he could only have cracker ambitions.  He would merely apply himself with deep intensity to being a Bo’sn’s Mate.  The rating was closed but by superhuman effort, the good will of the Petty Officers and the manipulation of rules and regulations he would actually attain the rating of Third Class Bos’n’s Mate within two years.  This was almost, heck, it was unheard of.

Our Lady Of The Blues: Vol I, Clip 2b

Trueman’s own malaise and rebelliousness had drawn the attention of the Petty Officers to him.  Handled correctly he might have been as bright an addition to Deck as Driscoll.  But Dieter and Parsons and Castrato were but ordinary deck types and responded to problems in ordinary ways.  Driscoll was eager so they rewarded him appropriately in opposition to Trueman who was angry and rebellious so they sought to break him.  Had they tried to understand him and bring him along they would have had a second jewel in their crown.

By attempting to break him, which it was vanity to attempt, they only aroused his ill-will.  Trueman’s powers of will and resistance were only aroused by persecution.  Trueman’s powers of will and resistance were greater than theirs of persecution.  In addition he was not stupid.  He was the brightest and the best on the Deck Force.  He understood the futility of bashing your head against a brick wall thus his resistance would never be so open as to give them a legal hold on him.

Trueman’s resistance was to men and not to things.  This was a trait he shared with Negro culture.  Thus while others showed their disdain for authority by malingering and destroying property Trueman showed his by insulting authorities and doing quick good work and respecting the ship and its accoutrements.

Now, as the ship was casting off Dieter took the opportunity to harass Trueman by giving him peremptory and conflicting orders.

‘Trueman, come up to the forward bollocks.’

‘Aye, aye, Daddyo.’  By calling the Chief Daddyo, which was in no way so disrespectful as to warrant censure, Trueman craftily undermined Deiter’s authority and safely showed his contempt for him.  Dieter, not being a fool, understood Trueman’s intent and method.  At the same time he didn’t know what a Daddyo was.  He was not only of a much earlier generation but the Navy insulated him from social change.  He had no notion what made these younger men tick.

No sooner had Trueman taken a place by the forward lines than Dieter ordered him to go back to the aft lines and stand against the bulkhead of the boat deck.

‘Aye, aye, Catman.’  Dewey said cheerfully as  he stepped back to the aft lines.

Dieter was as mystified by Catman as he had been by Daddyo.  Lest he allow himself to be cursed surreptitiously  he turned to Pardon.

‘What the hell is a Daddyo or Catman?’

Pardon mused for a minute before replying.  He was naturally a kind hearted man who sought his repose in all things.  He didn’t want any problems to get out of hand.  Things got so messy and unpleasant when they did.

‘Ah, Chief, It’s just the way these kids talk nowadays.  I don’t think it’s insulting.  Actually, it’s kind of complimentary.  I mean a Cat is a real cool guy that’s gone in every way, as they would say.  So, really, Trueman is just being familiar.  I don’t think he understands your position yet.’

‘Well, I think I can help him understand that, right now.’  Dieter said, trembling with rage lest even Pardon was putting him on.  Nevertheless, the Chief was all-Navy so he behaved in an all-Navy way.

Concealing his anger as best he could he descended on Trueman.  Assuming a standard authoritarian pose he placed his right foot on a bollock, placed his elbow on his knee, placed his left hand in his right and addressed Trueman thusly:  ‘Listen, Trueman.  It’s like this, you can call me Chief or Chief Dieter in any combination you choose and I will respond.  But, don’t ever call me Sir, I’m not an officer, and also, unless you are looking for trouble, don’t ever call me Daddyo or Catman.  Am I clear?’

‘Oh sure Chief Dieter, I just though you were a real cool cat gone in every way  but if you’re not, you’re not.  If I was wrong I admit it.  I apologize.  I’m big that way.  Please accept my apologies, Chief Dieter.’

Dieter sensed that there must have been half a dozen taunts in Trueman’s brief respectful reply but if so he would have had to sacrifice his dignity to reach them.  You don’t get to be a Chief by being caught out so easily.  Dieter nodded sagely and retired.

The lines cast off, the squadron steamed slowly West in the bay turning North to steam past the Broadway Piers into the channel.  There were four ships in the squadron.  In addition ot the Teufelsdreck their was the USS Deviant, DE 667, The USS Purverse, DE 668 and the USS Desade, DE 669.  The Deviant was the flagship with the Commodore aboard.

The four ships made a beautiful sight as they steamed past the buoys with their big Tenders.  Then they moved into the narrow channel that separated the mainland from North Island.  The channel was barely wide enough to let two Destroyers pass each other.  A constant topic of conversation in the fleet was that all an enemy had to do to trap the fleet in San Diego harbor was to sink a barge athwart the channel.  Probably would have worked; the channel was not very deep either.  Aircraft Carriers couldn’t enter the Bay.

Out of the channel the squadron turned West and made for the open sea.  It was a day of days.  The weather was, of course, perfect and the sea was nearly as smooth as glass.  There were no little choppy wavelets disfiguring the great flat swells.  At times the bottom was clearly visible.

About thirty miles out the ships hove to waiting for the targets.  The Deviant was the first to fire as a concession to the Commodore.  Nothing ever happens on schedule in the Navy so it was about three before the drone and sleds showed up and the klaxon for battle stations was sounded.

Dewey, who had been introduced to that marvelous institution, the Watch, was on Port lookout when the alarm went off.  Now, when the alarm goes, you literally drop everything and race to your battle station.  If your pain brush was in mid-stroke you actually dropped the brush on the deck and took off.

Dewey, not realizing this, was standing around waiting to be relieved when the Officer of the Day admonished him.

‘To your battle station, Sailor.’

‘Uh, well, I’m waiting to be relieved Sir, don’t want to abandon my post.’

‘You are standing in someone else’s battle station, Sailor.  Don’t wait to be relieved.  Get to your battle station.’

From his position on the bridge Dewey could see everyone else’s response so he dropped his glasses, scurried down the ladder to the boat deck running aft into the gun tub of the forties to which he had been assigned.  The containers holding the Mae Wests and helmet had already been broken open.  A set found its way into his hands.

Donning his helmet and cinching his Mae West was fairly exciting stuff straight out of the comic books,  Don Winslow and all that.  When all were properly attired they all stood looking at each other.  As the Deviant was up, there was time to distribute the tasks.  One half of the crew was new to the forties.  The necessity for drill in the Navy never ceases.  The constant changes in personnel always means tasks have to be reviewed.

The forties required ten men.  One to elevate and lower the barrels, one to rotate the platform, four loaders and four ammunition handlers.  The guns were manned by Deck and Gunnery combined.  The Gunners naturally took the most prestigious tasks but then it was their job, they were entitled to them.

Bent Cygnette took the task of elevater while his sidekick, Art Kunkel, rotated the platform.  Two Gunners and two Deck were loaders while four Deck were handlers.  Dewey was a handler.

The loaders stood on the platform and rammed the shells into the breach.  The shells came in a clip of four.  The handler passed a clip up to the loader who dropped it into the hopper.  Only the first clip had to be rammed, that is pushed down into the breach.  After that firing was automatic.

The clips were kept four to a canister, The canisters lined the side of the tub.  The handlers grabbed a clip and passed it up.  The expended casings were ejected out on the deck of the tub.  Thus, after a hundred rounds  or so had been fired off, the roll of the ship combined with a flooring of round casings made the task exacting to say the least.

Tasks assigned and explained, nomenclature cleared up, the crew settled down to watch the Deviant in action.  All DEs are named after enlisted heroes.  Thus one ship was named the Sullivans after the famous brothers who all went down to Davy Jones locker together.  No histories were extant of the four remarkably named men, Teufelsdreck, Deviant, Purvurse or Desade.  It’s probably just as well.  They were probably four of the biggest foul-ups in the fleet.

The squadron was put into sort of a line as the Deviant prepared to exercise its guns.  The forties were always exercised first and then the threes.

‘There it is.’  Someone shouted as they spotted the drone.  The drone was an unmanned airplane that towed a sleeve the size of a fighter plane.  The gunners were expected to put a few holes in the sleeve.  After the run the sleeve was pulled in and the holes, if any, counted.

The firing began by the crew of the Deviant’s forties underscored once again the need for constant drill.  The drone flew by.  The gunner depressed the barrels as far as they go instead of elevating them.  The sea was spattered by forty millimeter shells.  Another couple inches and the gunner might have sunk his own ship.  They were not in a straight line; the Teufelsdreck was ahead of and turned at an angle to the Deviant.  All of a sudden it seemed possible that the Deviant could just as well have opened up on the Teuf.

Everyone swallowed hard as they realized that gunnery practice could be serious.  The Deviant wasn’t going to get an E for Excellence for that barrage.  The sled was brought up for practice with the threes.  A sled was a barge with a tall sail on it.  The idea was to hit either the barge or put a shell through the sail.  The sled is pulled by a harbor tug on a very long leader.

Boy, you know, when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll.  The Deviant’s three inchers opened up on the tug by mistake.  Fortunately for the tug the Deviant’s three inch gunners weren’t any better than those on the forties.  Nevertheless the tug boat crew returned to port properly relieved and several pounds lighter.

In addition the entire crew of the Teufelsdreck were so amused they couldn’t stop laughing all the way back to port.

The Deviant, being the flagship, had the honor of tying up to the buoys first which was a tedious job.  The other three ships nested next to her with the Teufelsdreck on the outside.  For reasons that were never clear the Teufelsdreck was considered the bad boy of the squadron.

What made it the bad boy was unknown.  The ship and personnel obtained the only E in the squadron and held it for three successive terms.  The seamanship of the crew was better than the rest.  For whatever their faults the two captains of the Teufelsdreck were better commanders than the others.  The Chiefs were sharper, the crew was more effective.  They were no worse at inspection than the other crews.  Maybe the officers, crew and ship looked too good and did things too well.  Whatever the reason the ship and crew were kept at a distance.  Of course, most of the crew were bad boys, unorthodox, rebellious; things happened on the Teufelsdreck that didn’t happen elsewhere.  Serious things.

Exercises were finished late in the day.  The cruise back into the harbor would end about seven when liberty would be declared.  Hence dinner was pushed forward a little bit while the crew cleaned up preparatory to donning their dress blues.

Dewey had not been ashore since coming aboard.  He hadn’t wanted to combine the stress of acclimating himself to shipboard life while undergoing the additional stress of finding his way through a strange city.  This night he decided he would to look San Diego over.

Although standing naked before twenty-five or thirty men was repugnant to him, he was determined to stay as clean as possible.  He, therefore, swallowed his pride and trooped up each night for his shower.  Not all men did, some were conspicuous by their absence; some managed on the Saturday night rotation.  One could always be sure of seeing mostly the same group of men each night.

Conspicuous by his presence was always the queer Storekeeper, Paul Duber, who made showers the social event of his day.  He, with a couple others could always be seen lounging on the fore side of the showers, the line forming to the aft.  While in reporting these things everything is stark and clear, at the time Paul’s presence was not understood by everyone nor with shipboard tolerance was there any reason to be overly critical.  This night as all night’s  he stood leering in penis and ass heaven wisecracking and making knowing comments.

Duber spotted Trueman when he entered the line.  He stood waiting for him.  Most everyone in line stood around self-consciously trying not to  appear that way.  The indignity of it tore at their minds as well as at Dewey’s.  Dewey never could suffer in silence; he had to spout off.  He had to visit his own humiliation on someone else.

One of the great masters of complacency was a Fireman by the name of Ragnar Ock.  This man was, or had been in civilian life, a body builder.  He was a very fine specimen of the art, although a trifle short at 5’ 8” and a bit too square. But he was not overbuilt.  He was quite perfect.

Like all body builders he reveled in his appearance; indeed, why would one go to all that bother if one didn’t?  Also like all body builders he was exceedingly mild in manner.  No intellect but a very pleasant guy.

While most men held their towel in the middle drooping from the right hand like a rag, half stooping to conceal their embarrassment, Ragnar stood erect and tall with a far away dreamy unconcerned look in his eyes.  Unlike the others he very neatly draped his folded towel over his right forearm which he held level like a waiter taking orders.  His soap dish lay in an upright palm at the end of his straight wrist.  Well, you know, it was a very legitimates solution to the problem.

Dewey found it indescribably funny.  His own shame and torment was visited on the docile, mild mannered Ragnar Ock.  Dewey was offended both by the man’s build and his towel.  Neither could be attacked directly.  Indeed, discretion was of the essence.  Dewey didn’t transgress the bounds but he trotted right down on the line.

Dewey hated to be spoken to as he stood there with his dong hanging out be he didn’t hesitate to speak to Ragnar Ock.

‘You must be a body builder.’  Dewey stated with perhaps more admiration than he acknowledged to himself.  After all, Dewey had read the Charles Atlas ads in comic books for years.  He was a skinny little kid who got sand kicked in his face on the beach.  He had even sent for Atlas’ body building kit.  Ragnar had achieved what Dewey secretly yearned for, Trueman didn’t think anymore of him for that.  Envy.  One of the few times in Dewey’s life.

Our Lady Of The Blues: Vol. I, Clip 2c

  ‘Yes.’  Ragnar replied with becoming modesty, flattered by the attention.  ‘I work out, or did, in Los Angeles.’

‘Oh, wow!  Muscle Beach?’

‘I’ve been there, but I don’t hang out there.  I have to work for a living so I’m afraid I haven’t been able to develop myself to that extent.  Also I want only to look strong and trim.  I don’t want those huge muscles.’

‘Well, you look huge enough.’  Dewey said, once gain his admiration getting the best of him.

‘Thank you.’  Ragnar replied with an appreciative blush.

‘How are you going to maintain yourself aboard ship?’  Dewey asked with feigned innocence.

‘Oh, I go ashore and work out at the gym every night I have liberty.’

‘Well, yeah, but when we go out to sea that’ll be hard to do.  What then?’

‘I guess I won’t be able to work out then.’

‘No. Well, what happens when you don’t work out?  Does everything just turn flabby and sag?’  Dewey asked with inexcusable cruelty.

That was a very unpleasant thought for Ragnar.  It excited fears he tried hard to repress.  His countenance clouded.

‘Well, I hope that won’t happen.’  He said miserably.

Throughout the conversation Dewey noticed that Ragnar spoke with a faint accent.  He spoke slowly and deliberately but correctly but Dewey who had a keen ear picked up faint traces of a Swedish accent.

‘Uh, you speak very well, but it seems that you have just a trace of what?  A Swedish accent?

Ragnar brightened up again.  ‘Yes, I’m a Swedish citizen, but I’m living in Los Angeles.’

‘You’re a Swedish citizen?  Why are you in the US Navy then?  What jurisdiction does the US have over Swedish nationals.?’

‘Well, I was drafted so I had to go.’

That didn’t make any sense to Dewey nor did he think it likely.  He was searching for a possible question when Ragnar volunteered:  ‘Yes.  I was drafted in Sweden too and had to do two years in the Army.’

Dewey was thunderstruck at the injustice of being drafted twice.  It mattered little to him where else one might have been drafted; one disruption of one’s life was enough,; two tours was incomprehensible.  Dewey stood actually trembling in sympathy with his mouth hanging open.

‘That’s not right.’  Finally escaped from his lips.  ‘You oughta complain.  Wow, I’ll help you.  We’ll go see the Captain as soon as possible.  It isn’t right you should have to go through this twice.’

‘No.  Thank you.  But it’s alright.’  Ragnar said with engaging forbearance.

‘No it’s not alright.  It’s criminal.  We’ll complain, get you out of here.’  Dewey exclaimed imagining that everyone would be as indignant as he was.  He envisioned the whole crew petitioning the Captain.

‘No. It tell you it’s alright.  It’s just the way things are.  One has to accept  these things, do as one is told.’

Heresy, heresy screamed through Dewey’s mind but Ragnar was so firm that Dewey had no choice but to desist.  Still, he never had respect for the man again.  The idea of accepting things without fighting against them was foreign to Dewey.

By this time he was at the head of the line where Paul Duber stood waiting for him.  Duber stood with some two or three other men who hung out naked around the showers every night.  Some three or four other regulars lounged in the wash room where some other men were shaving preparatory to going ashore.

Duber and his buddies had been quietly discussing the equipment of the various men as they did every night.  They loved it.  They were kind of like potheads who, while they are toqueing, run through mental catalogs of all the grass they’ve smoked comparing the virtues of each.

The Teufelsdreck had an exceptionally good looking crew.  With the exception of a few old sods like Paul Duber, fat and out of shape, the men were young, slender and well proportioned.  Some were sturdy, some Apolline, some lean and willowy like Dewey.  Looked at from a homosexual perspective there was reason for Duber’s gravid mouth, inflamed lips and thick stiff tongue.

‘This is great stuff…’  Duber was saying for the umpteenth time.  ‘…but you know I’m enraged there aren’t any big ones.  They’re all smallish like on those Greek statues.  I mean, where are those big honkers you read about?’

‘Well, they’re all flaccid.’  Peter Grinch, a Second Class Disbursing Clerk replied.  ‘Ya can’t really tell about a dick unless they’re hard.  I remember one really remarkable transformation…’

‘Pssst..  Here he is.’

Duber looked hard at Trueman.  Duber thought Trueman had really violated etiquette on the previous occasion by disdainfully walking off.  According to Duber’s rules men were required to engage in badinage with him in lieu of sex.  If you can’t screw ‘em in the ass you get to screw ‘em some other way.   Homo rules.  The other two men had spoken up for themselves, only Trueman hadn’t.  What was wrong with him?

Duber had felt humiliated and rejected.  For Christ’s sake Trueman might just as well have come out and called him a queer, he thought.  He now wished to visit his own failure on Trueman.  Although Duber’s intentions at the head of the line were vaguely understood by most and clearly understood by a few, Duber could not be open in solicitation or could others openly censure him for perversion with out risking raising the ire of the Homo Mafia.  There was an unwritten rule that homos were to be tolerated so long as they stayed closeted.

The homos kept up a constant pressure to be allowed to function more openly, while heteros kept up the pressure to make them contain their libidinous desires.  A ship is a self-policing entity.  Everything is kept in check by the knowledge of one’s own limitations.  Fights were prevented only by mutual consent.  Theft was rampant but would have to be flagrant to merit censure.  To openly condemn homosexuality would be to incur the wrath of homosexuals.  If you were outspoken things would happen to you.  Letters might be withheld, packages smashed, laundry disappear, slander and backstabbing; all the things that went on anyway but organized and intensified.  There was always tension and an uneasy truce.  Woe to the wary straggler.

Thus while Duber wished to pick a fight with Trueman he couldn’t mention his real reason, that his homosexual sensitivity had been violated.  He had to select a specious reason.

‘Ha…’ He snarled.  ‘…so you’re the wise guy who’s so dumb he thinks that Capt. Desscartes pronounces his name Day Cartes.  Huh?  That you?’

Dewey was taken back by the man’s violence.  He hardly thought that a difference of pronunciation was a cause for such vituperation.  Dewey was unaware of Duber’s true motivation.  He looked at Duber like he was crazy.

‘Well, pal, Descartes is French.  The French philosopher Rene Des Cartes is pronounced Day Cartes so I see no reason that Capt. Descartes isn’t too.’

‘French philos…hey…you got a college education?’

‘No, but I’m not stupid either.’

‘Don’t go putting on airs with us, Trueman.  You’re just like us.  You ain’t got no college education so don’t go talkin’ over your head or we’ll put you in your place.’

‘It may be over yours but it’s not over mine.  So I guess you’re already in your place.’  Dewey said with sullen resentment.  He was supremely sensitive about his educational status.  With or without a degree he considered himself the equal of any college graduate.  If he hadn’t studied he at least considered himself as intelligent as anybody.  He was not about to be censored by some queer buffoon.

‘Oh yeah?  Well listen smart ass…’  Duber was now pushing his luck, not only with Trueman but the self-policing sentiment of the crew present began to take sides in Trueman’s favor.  ‘…you didn’t happen to see the name of the ship just forward of us today, did you?’

‘You mean the Deviant?’  Dewey asked with unconscious humor.  He hadn’t paid attention to which ship was in front of them.

‘No, I don’t mean the Deviant, Mr. College Professor.  I mean the DESADE.  I suppose you pronounce that Day Ade, huh?  Well, that ship is the Des-ade.  Anybody here will tell you that.’

‘Oh, for Christ’s sake.’  Dewey said stepping into a shower stall.  ‘That’s not even comparable.’

‘Not comparable.  Listen to this asshole talk.  Not comparable.  Nobody talks like that.  You mean, it’s not the same.’

Duber appealed to the crewmen for their support with that statement.  He was met by cold stares and stony silence.  He had over stepped the bounds.

‘What do you think of that?’  He roared at his pals.

‘Aw, you’re right, but forget it Duber.  The guy ain’t worth it.’

‘The guy ain’t worth it.  That’s for sure.’  He roared in Dewey’s direction.

‘Go suck an orange.’  Dewey snapped stepping out of the shower.

‘Oranges ain’t his favorite.’  Came a laughing voice from the washroom.

Duber turned to look,  In the interval the situation passed.

Cleaned up and anxious for liberty Dewey gathered on the foc’sle with the rest of the Deckapes to tie up alongside the Purverse.  Fortunately for the crew of the Teufelsdreck the Commodore demanded preference for the Deviant and that vessel was given the more unpleasant task of securing the ship to the buoys.  Lines had to be secured both fore and aft to prevent the nest from swinging around a single buoy.

The task of dropping fenders to keep the Teufelsdreck and Purvurse from bumping directly against each other and passing lines back and forth was easily accomplished.  As they were at the buoys there was no reason for the Deviant to put up rat guards.

By the time Dewey changed into dress blues and got to the Quarterdeck the number of sailors going ashore was huge.  The method of transport from ship to shore was by landing craft.  If you’ve seen movies of Marines storming the beach of some tropical Japanese held island in WWII the craft was identical to that used by the Marines.

There was a large space for about thirty men to stand.  The sides of the craft were six feet high to conceal the occupants from enemy fire.  The landing craft were provided for both the Deviant and the Teufelsdreck so each outside ship transported the sailors of two ships.

There was no hope of crowding aboard the first craft and not much for the second.  By the time the craft returned the third time to load the sun was very low on the horizon.  It would a short liberty.

The ride took a short fifteen minutes as the blunt bow of the craft did not exactly cleave the waves.  It was flat bottomed and stable.

The craft pulled into a slip at the Broadway Piers.  Rather than fight to get up the ladder Dewey preferred to wait until everyone was out and he could get up at his leisure.  As last man he bid farewell to the pilot turning to get his first glimpse of San Diego.

Stepping past the phone booths that were crowded with sailors anxious to make calls Dewey emerged into the fading light.  In those days Highway 101 was the most fabled highway in America along with Route 66.  Both highways figured large in the imaginations of American youth.  Looking out Dewey emitted an amazed laugh.  It seemed impossible but he was standing on the dead end corner of Highway 101 and Broadway.  He might as well have received a five pound box of chocolates for his birthday.

The vision was one that completely went beyond his imagination.  This was the actual location, the very spot that 101 began.  You had to turn left off 101 and go down Broadway, right to head up to LA.  Dewey turned to look up Highway 101.  It was really a beautiful sight.  In those days before maniacs with bulldozers sculpted and shaped the land to their insane specifications, in those days before concrete was used to fossilize their ideas and encase both nature and the human in rigid straight-jackets things were left more or less in their natural state.  There was some room to move.  Things were real and not totally artificial and phony.  There is a space from the bay to the first range of hills of about a mile.  This is all sandy.  In those days the builders didn’t cut into the landscape to form the roadbed  but just laid the bed on the land following the natural contours of rise and depression.  Highway 101 with its sandy shoulders looking all natural, lovely and mysterious began its northward journey to the Canadian border.  Dewey himself all new and young seeking mystery and adventure gazed up the road in open mouth wonder as though at a miracle.

‘It’s just a highway.’  A voice beside him said dispelling his enchantment with its lack of wonder.

‘I suppose so, but it’s still Highway 101 and this very spot we’re standing on right here is where it all begins.’

Dewey looked at the shoulder patch of the man who spoke to find he was from the Teufelsdreck.  The insignia told him the man was an ET and his chevrons read Seaman.  His face showed him to be decent and intelligent, if unimaginative.  He was about 6’2”.  He appeared OK to Dewey.

‘You’re an ET on the Teufelsdreck?’  He stated rather than asked.

‘Um hmm.  I’m Dart Craddock.  I was on the cruise to the East.  You’re a new deckape, aren’t you?

‘Yeah, name’s Dewey Trueman.  I’m from Michigan.’

‘Oh yeah?  I’m from Idaho.  Coeur D’ Alene.  First time ashore?’

‘Yep.  First Time.’

‘Welcome to San Diego.  What a dump.’

‘Well, I don’t know.  Just got here.’

‘You’re not going to like it.’  Craddock said as they began the walk down Sailor’s Row into town.  ‘This place has got a bad name.’

‘Well, it looks alright.’  Dewey said complacently ignoring the offensive sailor dives lining lower Broadway.  ‘If you’ve ever seen Philadelphia this can’t be all that bad.’

‘What were you doing in Philadelphia?’

‘Receiving Station.  That’s where I was introduced to this bilge.  Saddest day in my life, then it just keeps getting sadder.’

Craddock laughed.  ‘I know what you mean.  But at least it’s only a temporary contact with this crap.’

‘Temporary contact, permanent damage.’  Dewey retorted in a disgruntled but philosophically resigned manner.

Craddock was impressed with Trueman’s discourse.  It must be remembered that Deck was the most despised division aboard ship.  Even Wipers in the engine room borrowed some dignity from the machines they wiped but Deck’s chores were considered menial.  The other ratings raided Deck for any men of promise.  The ETs were already eyeing Tidwell.  Craddock looked approvingly at Trueman.

Our Lady Of The Blues: Book I, Clip 2d

‘Philadelphia was that bad?’ 

‘Even worse.  I don’t see what’s so bad about San Diego, weather’s a lot better than Philly.  Doesn’t look so old and dirty.’

‘I guess I’m prejudiced for personal reasons.  My grand pop was tortured here, almost murdered, just barely escaped with his life.  Had scars he could show.’

‘Oh yeah.  What’d he do rob a bank.  Why was he tortured?’

‘No.  He was an honest man.  It was done for political reasons.’

Dewey was stunned.  This surely couldn’t have happened in the American history he’d been told about, freedom of opinion and all that.  Of course, childhood history never told of anything but the heroic exploits of the Revolution, War of 1812, Andrew Jackson and the Civil War.  Oh right, let’s not forget Mad Anthony Wayne.  Dewey had never been in a history class that got beyond the Civil War, wouldn’t have mattered if he had, some things are too embarrassing to mention.  He’d read Huck Finn with its tarring and featherings but had only understood it through the eyes of a child and that was as close to the mention of torture he’d gotten.

‘Tortured?  Nobody in America’s ever been tortured.’

‘You child, you.  That’ what you know.  If you were from Idaho you’d know better.  You probably don’t know Coeur D’ Alene but we’re way up north on the Canadian border not far from Spokane.  That’s across the State line in Washington.

We used to be a big mining area, you know, at the turn of the century, and those mine owners were cruel men, sons-of-bitches.  They didn’t just want your labor for nothing, they wanted your blood for free.’

Craddock’s voice trembled as though he had actually lived through those times.  All this had been so impressed on him by his grandfather that the memory was more real than anything that had happened to himself.

‘The men tried to organize, formed the Western Federation Of Miners, but the mine owners fought them with guns, goons and dynamite.  When my grandfather and the men fought back with guns and dynamite the mine owners called in the Pinkertons and the State called in the Army.

Who they didn’t kill, they crushed.  We had to go to work for them like slaves, just to survive.  We had some good leaders like Big Bill Haywood and they got Governor Steunenberg who betrayed his own people.  They arrested them but we got Bill Haywood off, too.  They thought they had him good but they couldn’t find a jury in the State of Idaho that would convict them.  Besides they didn’t really have any proof of who got Steunenberg anyway, they just wanted to hang the leaders of the WFM.

Then Big Bill formed the Wobblies.  The IWW.  The Industrial Workers Of The World.  Ever heard of ‘em?’

‘Not unless they fought in the Civil War.’  Dewey joked.  But finding his joke inappropriate, no doctrinaire has a sense of humor about his hobby horse, Dewey quickly covered:  ‘No.  This is all really new to me, Dart.  I never heard of any of this before.’

‘Well, it’s all true.  Anyway, when my granddad helped form the IWW that really scared the daylights out of all the bloodsuckers in the Northwest.  West Coast.  They slandered us terrible, told lie after lie.  All we wanted was a fair wage and human dignity.  Was that too much to ask?  Hell yes, from them.

After doing every single thing they could do to destroy us finally in Spokane they told us to get off the streets, we weren’t allowed to even recruit members or tell our grievances.  Well, we set up soap boxes anyway and harangued anyone who would listen.  Then they started arresting us because we were speaking our minds.  In America, the land of free speech, just for saying what we thought.

Well, Big Bill put out an APB and called in Wobblies from all over the country.  We descended on Spokane by the thousands.  They couldn’t arrest us fast enough.  They had to improvise new jails.  And we still kept coming, speaking and singing our minds.

Damn ‘em.  In the middle of winter they turned off the heat in those jails and turned fire hoses on those men, and some of ‘em was women, people froze to death, murdered by the bastards, and lots more were completely broken in health, total wrecks, never the same again.

But, we won, damn ‘em, we won. They had to let us say what we wanted.  That gave us courage, confidence, then we thought we could make ‘em back down on the entire West Coast.  We did it some other places.  But they treated us like enemies even though we were as good a citizens as themselves- better, like we was an invading army or something.  They even made a pact in Portland that the police could brutalize us at will and no lawyer would represent us in court.

Well, some of us were miners and a lot us were migrant workers.  In those days we harvested the crops but when no White man would suffer the indignities those SOBs put on us why they sent and got Mexicans who would, that’s why the crops are all harvested by braceros today.

Well, we came down to help out the harvesters and invaded Fresno.  There was another terrible struggle there but we won that one too.  The next place we were going to break was San Diego- Imperial Valley out here, you know.  By that time they had enough experience with us and they were mean enough and criminal enough to take us on.  Before the main guard got here some guys tried to speak right here on this street.  Those guys were dragged off and beaten.  Then others chained themselves to these lampposts right here with chains so they couldn’t be dragged off.  They’d have been further ahead to let themselves be dragged off.

All the Wobblies rode the rods.  That was the way they traveled.  So they knew we’d be coming in on the freights.  There was only one line into San Diego and that came down from LA.  They knew exactly where we’d be.  Well, the bulls let us board in LA, told them and they was waiting for us.’

Craddock’s emotions overcame him.  He stopped in his tracks, his legs trembling beneath him.  His voice broke but he recovered his emotions enough to check his sobbing.  He continued his narrative but with a look in his eyes as if he had actually been there.  Dewey was amazed at his apparent ability to relive events that happened to someone else and fifty years before.

‘Well, the guys came off the top, spilled out of the cars and slid of the rods boiling up from beneath the cars all confident and exuberant when they were met by an army of men with baseball bats and steel pipes.    The San Diego bastards laid into them without restraint or mercy.  There was nothing the Wobblies could do.  If they defended themselves they would be arrested for resisting arrest.  If they didn’t they’d be killed or worse.  What could they do?  They had to eat shit.  They broke and ran, hightailed out of San Diego County and dept running until their legs collapsed under them.

Not everybody escaped.  Some got caught my grandpa among them.  They weren’t going to jail us because it cost too much money.  Nearly broke Fresno to house and feed us.  That’ why they gave up.

First they just beat the hell out of everybody with their bats then they took the men out in the fields where they had fires going.  They were heating branding irons in the fire.  They made the men strip then they branded a big red IWW right on their ass.’

Dewey gasped.

‘If that wasn’t enough,’ Craddock’s voice went surly, ‘If that wasn’t enough then they tarred and feathered them.  Put tar right over my grandpa’s burn.  The they hit ‘em another couple times and told them to get the hell out of San Diego county.

They had to run barefoot and hurting for a long ways until they could slow to a walk.  There was my grandpa with this big brand, naked under his tar and feathers, no clothes for when he got it off.  He either doesn’t know what happened after or he won’t tell.  He didn’t go insane but he might as well have.  He was never the same forever after.  He never got over it.  Used to tell me about it all the time.’

‘You’re not kidding me?  They actually branded him with a red hot iron like a cow?  IWW, wow.’

‘That’s right.’

‘Wow oh wow or double wow.  I can’t hardly believe it.  Right here in America?  San Diego?’

‘That’s right.  Everytime I hear them talk about the Nazis like they’re some kind of unique devils I just have to shake my head and wonder.  The way I see it anybody who has the power to enforce his will on his enemies will do so and in whatever violent way appeals to his imagination.  This is no innocent nation.  I didn’t mean to rant to you but every time I even think of this place I get angry.’

‘O boy, no problem.  I never knew these things before.’  Dewey said politely.  He still didn’t know about these things.  His prejudices formed by his schooling precluded such things ever happening in America.  While he didn’t necessarily wish to call Craddock  deluded he thought that he had probably been victimized by his granddad who undoubtedly told a good story.  But Craddock had it right.  That’s the way it happened.

‘Yeah, wow, well I guess we didn’t have any Wobblies in Michigan.’  Dewey said innocently.

‘Oh sure you did.  Wobblies were all over the country.   We were trying to organize industrial unions, you know, as opposed to the Craft Unions of the AFL.  We wanted everybody in an industry to belong to the same union, then all the unions would syndicalism into one big union.’

‘Sounds like the CIO.’  Dewey mused.  He was no union man and despised the CIO and UAW member. Walter Reuther.

‘Exactly.  A Congress Of Industrial Organizations.  When the Wobblies were destroyed in WWI people changed their tactics a little, changed the rhetoric and kept working.  Then with Roosevelt and the Wagner Act we got the break we needed.  With the government behind us changing the rules in our favor we were quickly able to bring the really big industrial organizations like auto and steel to their knees.’

‘Oh yeah?  UAW.  Those guys are all Commies aren’t they?’  Dewey said becoming suspicious of Craddock and his Wobbly tales.

‘No. No. They aren’t.  the Communists are something entirely different.  They’re a foreign organization trying to impose a foreign ideology.  We’re Americans and we want American justice for the workers of the world.’

Dewey picked up on workers of the world and became wary of Craddock?’

‘You’re not Reds then?  Huh?’

‘Well, they call us Reds but we’re not.  You know how it is, they call everybody that won’t be industrial slaves Reds.’

‘Oh yeah.’  Dewey said, but still polite.  He believed that all unions were controlled by Reds or Mafia.  ‘So, how about IWW in Michigan?’

‘Hmm.  OK, there was a splinter IWW in Detroit.  You see, the big industrial car plants in Detroit were ideal for industrial unions so the IWW was very active in Detroit.  You may not know this but Henry Ford only doubled wages to take the wind out of our sails.  We were doing great in his plants until he did that.’

The idea boggled Dewey’s mind.  ‘How’s that?’

‘Well, we were working hard to organize Detroit, and Ford too, and then old Ford doubled wages and really set us back temporarily.  We taught him a lesson, though.’

Dewey had never heard anything like this and being anti-union he didn’t approve.  Craddock’s Wobbly hard luck story was being undermined by what looked suspiciously Red to Dewey.

‘How’d you take care of him?’

‘Well, like I say, Ford was the first company the UAW tried to organize.  That guy wasn’t going to tell us what to do, we were going to tell him what to do.  But earlier, it took us a few years but by 1920 we had sown enough dissent in the workplace to make life damn hard for him, the old bugger, work slowdowns, sabotage, things of that sort.  He dropped all that altruistic bull roar pretty quick.  Trying to pass himself off as some kind of friend of mankind.  We exposed him.  After we got through with him he was just like anybody else.  Turned him hard and erratic.  Ruined his mind.’

‘Just a minute now.  You implied that you were involved in that Commie march on Ford where they were going to occupy River Rouge and smash the machinery?’

‘I don’t know nothing about that.’  Craddock who had been very well informed a moment before backtracked.

‘Yeah, well, when that Commie Reuther and those rats marched on Ford, in 1935 or so, right?, they weren’t after worker rights they were on the way to take over the government.  Those guys are always dumb enough to think that workers can rule the world, they’re so dumb they thought they’d start with River Rouge.  Now, what do you say the Wobblies had to do with that?’

‘Well, we were fighting Communist influence.  I told you they were foreign and we’re American.

Dewey had listened attentively.  Craddock’s later statements undermined the sympathy he had created with his grand father’s misfortunes.  Dewey had a difficult time separating the Wobblies from the Commies.  Comparing the march on Ford with the invasion of San Diego he now thought that the San Diegans had acted in self-defense, although if what Craddock had said was true, with unnecessary violence.  They had indeed repelled an invading army that meant them harm.  Still, he was insufficiently informed of what Craddock was talking about.  Rather than say anything more he nodded sagely, filing this information away in his mind for future reference.

‘Well, you certainly are well informed.’

‘Oh, with my granddad around I should be.  He’s got quite a library of stuff and besides they hurt him so bad that he’s always pulling his pants down to look at that IWW brand.  So what do you want to do?’

By this time they were all the way downtown across from the El Cortez Hotel.  Everywhere you looked there was an ocean of blue with bobbing white caps.

‘Geez, I don’t know.  What is there to do?  I mean, I’m not old enough to drink.  Are you?’

‘No.  I’m just going to turn twenty.  You’re still eighteen.  Hmm.  Well we could go to a movie.’

‘Yeah.   I suppose we could always do that.’  Dewey said without enthusiasm.  ‘What’s playing?’

The two of them walked up a side street to a decent if not first run theater.

‘Hi, hey, look.  Brigette Bardot.  She’s hot.  What do you think?’

‘I don’t know.  What’s the second feature?  ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man.’  Looks like some kind of science fiction thing.  Probably something mutated by atomic vapors.  Sure, OK.’

‘Boy, that Bardot is something isn’t she?’

‘Yeah, something else, hot enough for me.  Man that scene where she was in bed and tucked the sheets between all her private parts right up to her box!  Wow!  Not much of a movie otherwise.  I really think it was immoral.  The Incredible Shrinking Man was better.  What a concept.  The guy goes through a cloud of atomic vapor and it reverses his growth so that he starts shrinking.’

Our Lady Of the Blues, Book I, Clip 2e, posted 6/13/12

‘Aw, who’d ever believe that.;  Craddock said with the lack of imagination that characterized those ideological enthusiasts even though what they believe is even more preposterous.

‘Yeah, but just imagine the guy’s anguish as he gets smaller and smaller and finally gets so small he just falls between the molecules of dirt and disappears to the center of gravity.  What a trip, huh?’

‘Yeah, well, it just couldn’t happen, that’s all.’

‘Sure.  It’s impossible, but you know it’s kind of like being put in the orphanage where you get pushed further and further back in society until you become so inconspicuous that nobody notices you and you just kind of disappear.’  Dewey said making a personal connection that was not very obvious to anyone else.

‘What?  What are you talking about?  I’ve never been in an orphanage.’

‘Maybe some one else has.’

‘Who?  You?  Have you been in an orphanage?’

‘Oh gosh, I don’t know.  I’ve been so many places I have trouble remembering where I’ve been.  Well, this is one exciting liberty.  Hope they’re not all like this.  I mean, I like movies, but…’

‘If you want some real excitement you can spend a night there.’  Craddock said laughingly pointing with his thumb at the YMCA, another ‘hotel’ on Broadway.

‘What?  The Y?  How do you spend a night there?’

‘That’s a hotel too.  They’ve several floors of rooms.’

‘Cheap?’

‘Oh yeah.  Dollar and a half.  ‘Course all the toilets are common and you don’t want to have to use one of those at night.’

‘Why not, how’s that?’

‘Nearly everyone that stays there is queer.  After midnight they take over the halls and if you aren’t one of them you’ll get initiated real quick if you leave your room.’

‘Aw, you’re kidding me, that can’t happen.’  Dewey drawled.  He began to doubt Craddock’s Wobbly stories now.

Arrived back at the Broadway Piers they had to wait an hour for the landing craft which they had missed by a minute before turning in to await another day on the firing range.

Casting off from alongside another ship was an unmitigated delight.  As easy as a cream puff.  The Teufelsdreck led the squadron out to sea, The Deviant bringing up the rear.  The Commodore shepherded his flock after the Deviant’s humiliating performance on the preceding day.

The sea was choppier with medium swells as was the norm off San Diego.  As they steamed out Dewey received the port watch again.  Out at some distance, say ten miles, an aircraft carrier surrounded by its Destroyers was drilling its pilots on take off and landing.  The planes were thrust off the bow by the catapults into the wind, circling and landing again.  Dewy was breathlessly enthralled keeping his glasses glued to his eyes.

As he watched a pilot came across the bow on his return who seemed a little high to Trueman.  Sure enough, the pilot missed the wire but rather than roaring off he just plopped down rolling toward the stern.  Reaching the stern he just kept right on rolling and plummeted into the ocean, making Davy Jones richer by millions.

‘Wow, did you see that?’  Trueman asked the bridge in awed tones.  ‘Did you see that?’  The guy missed the carrier and fell in to the ocean.’

Captain Descartes leaned over the divider separating the bridge from the lookouts.

‘What’s that you say, Port Lookout?’  He asked dryly.

Dewey became more restrained.  Holding his glasses in his left hand he pointed in the direction of the carrier.  ‘The pilot just missed his landing and fell in the ocean, plane and all.’

‘What carrier would that be, Lookout?’

‘What carrier?  Why that one right over there.’

‘Right over there.  As port lookout it is your duty to report any sightings you might make to the bridge.  I don’t recall that we’ve had the pleasure  of hearing you report any aircraft carriers to the bridge.’

‘Well,’  Dewey said in his naivete.  ‘It’s right over there, anybody can see it.’

‘That isn’t the point, Sailor.  I might be preoccupied or involved in something else consequently missing it.  We all have our tasks here.  In your present capacity yours is to watch and report to me.  Mine is to receive not only your reports but those of everyone else, collate the information, make the requisite decisions and keep the ship on an even keel.  That’s a pretty good system, don’t you think?’

‘Oh, yes Sir.  I certainly do.’

‘Well then, Lookout, do your job.’

‘Yes, Sir.’

‘Well?’

‘Well what, Sir?’

‘Report what you see.’

The Carrier was direct abeam so there was no need for Dewey to consult his compass but in his nervousness he preferred to read the numbers.  ‘Uh, aircraft carrier and Destroyers at 270, distance, uh, two miles Captain.’

‘Thank-you Lookout, I noticed its presence some time ago but it is nice of you to call it to my attention.  Be a little more prompt in the future.’

Descartes droll manner sent the bridge a tittering.  They had a good laugh on Dewey but he learned his lesson.  One might even say he learned it with a vengeance.  Like so many things that happen to us we do not respond on the moment but the insult or indignity or whatever festers in our subconscious to erupt at a later date.

Dewey was beginning to relax in his task when the battle station klaxon sounded.  He did not hesitate as he had the previous day but dropped his glasses, dropped down to the boat deck and scampered back to the forties.

The Purvurse was up today so the forties crew assumed their stations and lolled around the gun tub.  Dewey was still excited by the jet dropping off the end of the carrier.

‘You should have seen it Frenchy.’  He excitedly exclaimed.  ‘The pilot missed the wire and just rolled off the stern.  The DDs immediately put out boats but it didn’t look like they found him.  Wow, think of that, the guy kills himself and dumps millions of dollars worth of plane into the ocean and it’s only practice.’

‘Gosh, no kidding…’   Frenchy began.

‘Aw, that’s nothing.’  Happens all the time.’  Bent Cygnette sneered from his perch by the gunsight.  He sat there legs crossed sneering down at the gun crew.  He came across as a real obnoxious tough guy but in fact he wasn’t.  He was a real marshmallow inside, which is not meant as an insult, so to conceal his own insecurity he adopted a tough guy persona to get by.  He was very successful; everyone on the ship, officers and all, treated him with deference.

‘Baloney.’  Dewey retorted.  ‘If it happened all the time there wouldn’t be that many planes on the carrier.’

‘Happens all the time.’  Cygnette reaffirmed indicating his displeasure at not being acceded to.

‘Oh yeah?’  Dewey challenged not wishing to be cheated of the wonder of the thing.  ‘How many times have you seen it personally?’

‘Lots.’

‘Bull. How do you see it?  You don’t stand lookout.’

‘Hey, listen Trueman, or whatever your name is, you may be new but you watch how you shoot off your mouth…’  Bent was beginning when he was interrupted by the sound of the Purverse’s forties erupting.

Eyes shot up to the clouds in search of the sleeve.  The Purvurse was able to keep its shots out of the water but as it turned out the Deviant had better success hitting the water than the Purvurse hitting the sleeve.

The gunners of the Purvurse were sadly out of practice because the three inchers had even less luck with the sled.  With two out of three ships out of the running a current of confidence ran through the gun crews that the Teufelsdreck would win that E.

‘You going over, Dewey?’  Frenchy asked.

‘I don’t know.  Maybe.  You going?’

‘You’re not going, Trueman.’  Al Spirin, an old hand, soon to be transferred, barked.

‘Oh yeah?  Why not?’

‘Check the bulletin board, dunce, you’ve got the twelve to four.’

Dewey looked at Spirin coldly but thought he’d better check the board.  The bulletin board was in the passageway in front of the head and across from the ship’s store.  Rather than push past a line of naked men waiting for showers, Dewey exited by the after hatch using the outside deck to enter above the showers.

He stepped up to look at the watch list as the Yeoman, Teal Kanary, was posting information about the next day.

‘Darned if I don’t.’  Dewey reflected.

As he turned away his and Kanary’s eyes met.  There was an audible crackle on both sides.  Dewey saw ‘toady’ written all over Kanary while the latter read ‘nice ass.’  Neither spoke.  Dewey brushed past Kanary to return below to clean up at his leisure, hop into his bunk and wait for his eleven-thirty wake-up call which came soon enough.

Yale Cataloge, a First Class Radarman was Petty Officer of the Watch.  He was nearing the end of his first enlistment but satisfied with his lot he intended to ship over.  He accordingly was assuming an Old Navy persona.  Since he had signified his intentions he was admitted to the ranks of career men.  He had adopted the knowing, condescending way of Old Navy.

The manner, done properly, was very attractive.  Cataloge was a very decent guy, one might say he was born to the manner.  As he was possibly only a hair away from being a Chief there was no need to befriend him but he and Trueman  always had a very cordial relationship.

The other member of the watch was Dart Craddock who Dewey had met the previous evening.  Craddock gave Trueman a good introduction to Cataloge so that the two got off on the right foot.  In the course of the conversation Trueman asked who the Officer of the Day was.

‘Lieutenant Junior Grade Bifrons Morford is OD.’  Cataloge replied, his elaborate sarcastic introduction proclaiming his distaste for the officer.

‘Bifrons?  His mother named him Bifrons?’  Dewey queried.  He had already met Morford as he was the Operations officer.  Morford had questioned him about a couple details of his record, as short as it was.  The Yeoman’s Shack was under his supervision.

Well, I guess his mother was classically oriented.’  Cataloge said with a little smirk.  ‘In Latin it means two faced.  Suits him too.’

‘Just like the god Janus, face in front, face behind, no taking him by surprise.’

Cataloge raised his eyebrows.  Knowledge of Janus might be considered useless knowledge in Deck and subject one to ridicule but such learning merited respect in the forward compartment.

As they were talking Dewey looked out over the bay to see the landing craft approaching.  Alone, standing in the middle of the craft he saw Bifrons Morford.  The Lieutenant had all the appearance of having had an extended tete a tete with Jack Daniels.

Dewey was shocked.  ‘Isn’t that Lt. Morford there?’  He asked Yale Cataloge.

‘Yeah, sure is.’  Cataloge drawled back.

‘I thought you said he was OD.’

‘I did.’

 

‘Well, that looks like he’s coming back with a little lubrication to me.’

‘The good Lieutenant explained to our predecessors that as there was no need for him aboard ship that he would be stepping ashore for a few minutes.  A few minutes seems to have turned into a number of hours.’

‘He can’t do that, he’s on duty.’

Yale gave Dewey a long suffering look of the magus to the neophyte.

The craft maneuvered alongside.  The Teufelsdreck didn’t have a captain’s ladder, the Teuf just suspended a metal ladder over the side.  Morford had had such a long and friendly chat with JD that he missed his grasp tumbling back down into the craft.  He managed to pull himself up on deck on his second attempt.  Dewey and Dart moved over to tie up the craft but the pilot waved them off and immediately pulled away.

All three men of the watch were totally offended by Morford.  None was more offended than Dewey who was quite puritanical in certain matters.  None of the others were prepared to be quite as self-righteous as Dewey.  They threw up a feeble half-hearted salute per regulations but Dewey stood judgmentally  with is thumbs hitched in his guard belt.  It is impossible to describe the look of hauteur that clutched his countenance.

Morford would have been much further ahead to have ignored the slight, he almost did, he had already turned to walk away when the affront to his dignity as an officer and drunken gentlemen penetrated his alcoholic haze.

‘Get your thumbs out of your belt, Sailor, and salute your officer who is come aboard.’

‘Ah, that’s alright, you won’t remember tomorrow.’  Now, according to Navy regulations there was no excuse for Dewey’s insolent and impertinent reply.  However there were more than two witnesses to Morford’s patent breach of regulations not to mention his obvious drunkenness on duty.  Considering himself to be of overpowering manhood Morford decided to brazen it a little further.

‘What’s that Sailor?’

Morford had transgressed all the bounds of responsibility in Dewey’s mind, as he had in fact, so Dewey was not inclined to give an inch.

‘I say when you go tilting at windmills it’s better to tilt them than to be tilted.  Ha ha ha.’  The little laugh at the end did not dull the edge of the riposte.

Morford had felt the affront and now the unrepentant insolence of Trueman tore  at his sense of dignity, such as a man in his condition could feel.  A cold rage rose in it.  JG Morford checked it in the nick of time; he was not so inebriated that he had lost his own sense of danger.  He struggled to form a retort that would put Trueman in his place.  He seized at the reference to Don Quixote.  Like all the officers but in an exaggerated manner Morford thought all enlisted men were a different species from the officers.  They allowed them only animal skills considering intellectual endeavors beyond them.  Assuming Trueman had not read Don Quixote he said:  ‘You bear a great resemblance to a certain half of Don Quixote’s fair mistress Rozinante.’

 

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of  The Blues

Book VII

The Heart Of The Matter

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     The Souls of Black Folk had taken definite form when Bert Williams captured the essence  in his magnificent song: ‘Nobody.’

When life seems full of clouds and rain

And I am filled with naught but pain,

Who soothes my funkin’ bunkin’ brain?

Bert In Blackface

Nobody.

And when winter comes with snow and sleet

And me with hunger and cold feet,

 Who say: Yars a quarta boy, now ya’ll go and eat?

Nobody.

Refrain.

Now I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody

And I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody

no time.

Until I get somethin’ from somebody sometime

Well, I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody

no time.

Then summer comes all cool an clean

And all my friends see me drawin’ near,

Who says:   Come on over  here, man, and have a beer?

Nobody.

Last Christmas Eve, ’twas about daybreak,

I was in that railroad wreck.

And who pulled the en-jine off my neck?

Not a livin’ soul.

Now, I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody

And I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody

no time.

Until I get somethin’ from somebody sometime

Well, I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody

no time.

     An excellent version of the song is available by the musicologist Ry Cooder on his disc: Jazz.

page 1810.

     Williams’ lyrics accurately portray the despair of the maltreated Negro in the heart of the Jim Crow period.  The formation of the psychic block that forms the ‘hole’ in the Black soul is also apparent in the frustration of being abused without recourse.  Dewey knew what Williams’ was talking about; he suffered from the same problem.

     The intense anger which could not be safely expressed during the era is suppressed and sublimated into a festering resentment.  At the end of the Jim Crow period and the beginning of the Self-Wareness Period this hurt, anger and resentment erupted in the Black revolt of the Long Hot Summer of ’67.

     Politically the result took the form of Affirmative Action:

And I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody no time

Until I get somethin’ from somebody sometime

Well, I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody

No time.

     Thus Affirmative Action is an attempt to get somethin’ from somebody at the expense of someone else.  It is important to deprive a White person of something for no good reason to compensate Blacks for being denied and deprived for no good reason earlier.  As the slang has it:  What goes around, comes around.  But the resulting injury created against Whites will have to be compensated by Blacks later along.  What goes around just keeps coming around. So, hey, hey, baby take a whiff on me.

page 1811

     On the social level the attitude is reflected in the phenomenally high crime rate among Black  youth.  Rather than work which would be doin’ somethin’ for somebody, most likely White employers, a large percentage of Blacks prefer to do nothin’ for nobody no time.

     The problem considered in the abstract is, however quite different than dealing with it in the concrete.  Actual personalities are much differerent than hypothetical situations.  Whoever said:  In order to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs was not talking about his own eggs.  One only talks so blithely about breaking eggs when they belong to someone else and you’re going to eat the omelet.  The question was a serious one for White women who lived down along the interface where they were prey to Black men.

     ‘All those Black bastards want is our women.’  Black Jack thrust in demandingly while Dewey searched for an approach to an answer.

     Dewey had had little experience with Black people, and that all bad, as he had been fortunate enough to have been brought up in an entirely White environment.  this was so even though just across the River at Valley High the juxtaposition of the two races caused innumerable conflicts.  In many ways there was open racial warfare.

page 1812.

     A girl he had known and had a crush on in Junior High had transferred to the East Side where she had been raped by a Black guy and had his baby thereby destroying her life. Society looked at it as her fate as an inevitable sacrifice, especially as the egg broken wasn’t one of theirs.  But, you know, omelets.  That’s the way it goes.  Dewey had taken it personally.  Society forbade him to mention the race of the Black guy but his subconscious was not so easily intimidated.  You can shut a man up buy you can’t keep his brain from working.

     Dewey was not an integrationist.  He was opposed to miscegenation.  His notions on these issues were separate from his notions on equal opportunity and fairness.  His talents had been shunted aside to provide greater opportunity for the elite.  Even among whites the Aristocracy favored itself over the Other Half.  Fairness was not a concern of the Aristocracy.

     Thus Dewey did not oppose denying the Negro opportunity.  The reason d’ etre of the United States, officially at least, was fair play.  But you had to know how to get it.

     On the other hand any advance of the Blacks could only be done at the expense of Whites.  In order to raise Blacks Whites would have to be denied opportunity.  And we know which Whites.  The Aristocracy would not have to pay.  All the expenses would be borne by the Other Half of the social order where both Dewey and Black Jack Davy were.

     Dewey understood how Black Jack felt.  His mind went back to that dance at Castlemont when he had seen and overheard the girls talking.  The riots and battles down South had their effect on him.  While the Blacks might be fighting for ‘justice’ they were also creating injustice.  Affirmative Action meant that they would be given preferential treatment over Whites who had worked hard to prepare themselves and would now be denied.

page 1813.

     Dewey didn’t know the answer but he saw no reason to offer up his body as a sacrifice to appease Blacks and gratify the guilt of the Urban Aristocracy.

     ‘Well, I know it’s a problem out in California.  I spend a lot of liberty time in Oakland which is almost half Black.  I know that in high schools like Castlemont any girls that don’t clear out immediately after school are considered fair game for Black guys who scour the halls looking for the late ones.  The girls don’t even complain if they do get raped.  It’s just assumed they were asking for it or they would have cleared right out.  Boy, I don’t know what to do about it.  The best thing you can do is get as far away from the Black areas as possible.’

     ‘That may be the only answer.  They pull knives on girls in Chicago.  You have to watch out all the time so they don’t get the jump on you.  I know a couple girls who got the big thrill while a knife point was buried in their throat.  Cops won’t listen to you in Chicago either; at least not where we live.’  Dixie Darlin’ said matter of factly while she comtemplated the card of the Hanging Man.

     ‘That’s just it.’  Black Jack said.  ‘There’s a double standard operating here.’

page 1814.

     ‘Yeah, I know.  This is a country of double standards, triple standards, heck, quadruple standards.  Everything depends on who you are; there’s nothing honest in America.  What’s a virtue in one case is a fault in another.  No consistency.  Some go to jail some walk.  One guy kills somebody, he walks; another guy kills somebody he gets the chair.  Lots of duplicity all the time.  Doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with money either.’

     Black Jack didn’t want to drift from his theme so he brought the conversation back.

     ‘The Second Coming Of The Golden Dawn deals with all those problems.  It’s a modern religion for modern times.  It  won’t be too long before we’re more important than the Catholics.  We’re going to revitalize and rejuvenate America; bring it back to the ideals that made it great.  And you’re going to be in the middle of it as my lieutenant.

     Dewey was about to frame a reply when Black Jack spotted a wreck on the highway.  The crack up was a fairly serious one.  One car must have wandered over the meridian hitting  the other head on.  The cars were really nothing more than twisted metal.  The bodies lay around on the ground in sickening postures.  A number of cars had stopped leaving groups of people either milling or standing around.

     Dewey hoped that Black Jack would just drive through as the sight of mangled and torn bodies had no appeal for him but as a minister Black Jack thought his services might be needed.  The three Chicagoans bored in close to get a good look.  Dewey hung back disgusted and revolted.  Two Black men and a woman stood not too far away.

     ‘Say man.  You dig who that White guy in the plaid jacket is?’ One man asked.

     ‘I know him.  Tha’s that crazy peckerwood who’s walkin’ around the Stockade in black face, ain’t he?’  The other said.

     ‘Black face? Wha’s he do that for?’  The woman asked.

     ‘Nobody kin figure it out.  Funny dude, man.  Acts like we don’t know he’s white with burnt cork on.  Shit, he so dumb he even put blacking on the palm of his hands.’

    ‘No.’  The woman said laughing.

     ‘Shit yes.  Nobody kin figure what he be doin’.  He be tryin’ to get funny stuff on us he better be careful or the laugh is goin’ to be on him.’

     ‘I don’t know what else he kin be doin’.   Kin you?’

     ‘Hell no.’

     Dewey’s chest heaved as he suppressed the laughter welling up inside him.  He got back in the car where he could laugh in safey.  If those Black Folk had known the real reason they wouldn’t have known what to think.  Black Jack in black face; Dewey giggled away.  Then with a masterful effort he suppressed his laughter as Black Jack and the girls came back to the car.

     ‘I just can’t believe it.’  Black Jack lamented.  ‘I just can’t believe it.  A terrible crash on the highway like that and I didn’t hear nobody pray.’

     ‘Didn’t hear nobody pray?’  Dewey asked thinking that the last thing he had thought about.

     ‘No.  there was whiskey and blood mixed together in the glass where they lay but I didn’t hear nobody pray.  I was the only one who had the sense to call down the mercy of the Lord on those poor mangled souls.’

     Mercy of the Lord on those poor mangled souls.’  Dewey repeated in wonder at what mercy those poor mangled souls could expect.  They’d had little mercy in this world and in the next they were on their own.

     ‘Amen, brother.’  Black Jack intoned.  ‘We’re going to get along just fine.’

     Then Black Jack and Dewey came to that old fork in the road.  Black Jack said:  ‘Now, right up here we have to turn left to go into Chicago; if you go straight that will take you up into Gary.  Like I say:  I need you in Chicago to build the Second Coming Of The Golden Dawn and save America and probably the world.  What say, are you made of the right stuff?’

     ‘Uh, no, Black Jack.  I can’t.  I’m in the Navy.  I have to get back or they’ll courtmartial me.’

     ‘They can’t courtmartial some one who isn’t there, Dewey.  What’s wrong with you?

     ‘Sure, Black Jack but it would ruin my life.  They would come and get me.’

     ‘Oh, sheez.  No one’s going to come after you.  They wouldn’t even know where to begin looking.  You’d be like that A-Bomb in Darktown.  Why would they think you were in Chicago?’

     ‘Because it’s the center of the country?  Aw, come on, Black Jack, when I get a driver’s license or apply for jobs they’d get me right away, besides, let me tell you something you don’t know;  Chicago is no California.

     ‘Just change your name…’

     ‘Aw, Jesus, change my name!  I’m not going to Chicago with you Black Jack.  Now, let me out here.’

     Black Jack was a very disappointed guy because he had convinced himself that Dewey had been sent by God to be his lieutenant.  Providence had failed him or, perhaps, he had misinterpreted the signs.  Dewey’s wanting to depart seemed to Black Jack a betrayal on the order of the kiss Judas gave Jesus.

     He continued to half remonstrate with and half excoriate Trueman as he got out of the car.  Dewey took it all in good measure because, after all, he had been given a handsome and entertaining ride and besides, as screwy as he considered most of Black Jack’s ideas he liked him.

     Dewey knew what longing and frustration were.  He knew what it meant to be reviled and rejected for no good reason.  He took Black Jack’s raging as just the raving of an injured psyche.  If the wounds were aggravated then society would just have to pay the price of its sins whatever that price might be.  That was only just.  If the wounds were allowed to heal then Black Jack would probably be a pretty decent guy.

     In fact, Black Jack, or rather, Derek Drainsfield, as he did resume his original identity, turned out straight.  He was able to move away from the Interface as Dewey suggested.  As his women were no longer in danger from Black predators the pressure on his psyche decreased and as his mind cleared he once again realized that fear and revulsion were not bases for religion.

page 1818.

     He turned to a gospel of love and wealth.  He shed most of his repulsive majick elements of his approach leaving Aleister Crowley behind while miving closer to Rosicrucian Christianity.  he remained a preacher.  He was seeking to be respectable.  He attained his goal.  He had a congregation that varied between five and six hundred.

      They were well satisfied with him while he was content with tending his flock.  Circumstances required him to take a compassionate stand on race relations which he did but the misgivings he had acquired down on the Interface never left him.  As, why should they?

     ‘Good luck finding that A-Bomb, Black Jack.  Good bye Dixie Darlin’- Belle.’  Dewey said politely shutting the door.  ‘Thanks for the ride.’

     More hurt than angry Black Jack drove away muttering about the guy’s ingratitude under his breath.

Hitchhiking Is No Picnic

     ‘Christ, it’s cold.’  Dewey thought as the heat from the car left him.  A cold blast of wind whistled down across Lake Michigan to rattle his teeth.

     ‘Oh, not again.’  Dewey said to himself as a cop car pulled to a stop in front of him.  There was Navy on the Great Lakes so he wasn’t such an oddity to the Illinois State Police as he had been to those in Oklahoma.

page 1819.

     The cop was one of those tall big men of limited mental resources who really like to lord it over other men.  Maybe he was just amusing himself.  Taking Dewey’s leave papers and ID he sat for fifteen minutes in his car leaving Dewey to shiver in the cold.

     He got back out offering a few sneering comments then dropped Dewey’s papers to the ground and drove off.  That good strong North Wind caught Dewey’s leave papers sending them off like an eagle taking wing.  There was little sense in chasing them so Dewey stood watching as they wafted back down the highway.

     ‘Oh well, I probably won’t need them anymore.  Boy, cops must all be cut from the same mold.’  Dewey thought as his resentment against the police grew.  ‘And they wonder why everybody despises them.’

      It’s not so much that they receive the same education in police academies as that they all do come from the same mental approach to life.  They’re just bullies with badges made safe from retaliation.

     The sun was going down.  The temperature was dropping.  Once out of his face Dewey had other things to think about than coppers although he was acquiring a bitter understanding of the attitudes of men like John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw.

     A couple rides later he was dropped off in front of a service station in Gary, Indiana.  Named after Judge Gary.  Night had fallen on the lakeside city.  A superb lake effect snowstorn was in progress from Gary up to Benton Harbor from which point Dewey intended to shunt East across Michigan to the Valley.

page 1820.

    Gary was not yet the Black town it would be.  Eventually it would become another East St. Louis.  For the present Dewey was safe from racial harassment.

     He took up a position under the lights of the station sign where he could really be seen.  It was a pitiless night.  No one would stop.  Every time a semi went by, which was every other vehicle, the big rigs swirled the snow wildly burying Dewey in the rearranged drift.  The hours passed.

     Finally a big rig pulled to a stop.  The tractor was a nice new cab over but the driver was crossing over to Cleveland.

     The driver seemed decent enough, tried to explain to him that there would be no traffic heading North.  He told Dewey that it would be better to cross over beneath Detroit and go North from there where there would be a lot more traffic.

     Dewey feared Detroit for a number of reaons of which race was one, while the time involved crossing then heading up the Dixie seemed excessive.  That coupled with the fact that his mind was slowing from lack of both sleep and nourishment determined his decision.  He had no idea that the highway would have less traffice than the Claremore road if possible.

     Without being aware of it Dewey had become quite dehydrated.  Suddenly his thirst hit him.  He looked over to spot the Coke machine in the gas station.  Really discouraged he walked over and drained five bottles of Coke in a row.  They were the old 7 oz. size.

page 1821.

     This gave the attendant who had been watching him an excuse to talk to him.

     ‘Wow.  You must really be thirsty.’

     ‘Yeah. I was anyway.’

     ‘How come you didn’t take the ride that trucker offered?’

     ‘Oh, he was going East to Cleveland.  Offered to drop me off below Detroit but gosh, that’s several more hours and I’ve been on the road forever.  This was supposed to be a forty-eight hour trip.'[

     ‘How long you been on the road?’

     ‘I don’t know.  I started last Thursday.’

     ‘Where you going?’

     ‘The Valley in Michigan.  Thought I’d cut over at Benton Harbor.’

     ‘Oh man, that’s a tough one any night.  Very little traffic.  In this storm there probably won’t be any at all.  Sunday night too.  You should have taken that trucker’s offer.  Tell you what I’ll do for you.  I’ll ask any driver going North if they’ll give you a ride.  You can stand out there if you want.  I’ll call you over if I find someone.’

     Dewey thanked him kindly but was so discouraged he forgot about it immediately.  He was digging himself out of the umpteenth snow bank when the attendant called to him.

     ‘Hey, hey Sailor, come on.  I’ve got a ride for you.’

     Dewey couldn’t believe his ears but he stepped smartly over.

     ‘He’s going to St. Joe.  Says he’ll give you a ride.’

     Dewey thanked the attendant but didn’t offer the tip he was obviously expected to give and hopped in.

Four Strong Winds

     As the saying goes:  Dewey was running on empty.  There weren’t even any fumes left.  He was going simply because he was going.

     There were several towns they had to pass through on the way to Benton Harbor not to mention the good sized city of South Bend but all Dewey would ever be able to remember was big white snow flakes falling from a patent leather sky and the blazing white snow banks illuminated by the headlights.  The night had the surreal aspects of the Hopper picture ‘Nighthawks At The Diner.’

     Terry Gaste, the driver, was the first respectable looking person Dewey had seen for days.  He was a pleasant looking man of about twenty-seven.  Plump, even quivering with baby fat, delicate, well dressed, well groomed, impeccably mannered, he was meticulously cared for.  Every hair of his dark head had a well defined place for which it occupied.  He looked like he had just shaved.  He had an air of refinement.  In fact, he was a high school English teacher at Benton Harbor.  Even out in the boonies Benton Harbor had more cachet than its twin city St. Joseph so Terry Gaste lived in St. Joe where rents were cheaper.  Hard to believe.

page 1823.

     If Dewey hadn’t been grappling to keep his grip on reality he would have thought that Gaste was a very creditable guy.  Having been five days on the road he mainly noticed that Gaste seemed very effeminate.

     ‘I offered you a ride because in this terrible weather I thought I might need your help if I got stuck.  You would help me if that happened wouldn’t you?  You wouldn’t just abandon me?’

     ‘No.’  Dewey said.  ‘That’s a very fair exchange.  This is a lot of snow.  We don’t get snow like this up in the Valley.  Cold, but no snow.’

     ‘We get a lot of snow here.’

     ‘I always noticed that.  There’s a strip right across Southern Michigan that always gets a lot of snow.  I mean look at these snowbanks, four or five feet high.  Couldn’t have been any worse than that storm in Flagstaff.  What are you doing out so late in this weather?’

     ‘I’m returning from Chicago.  I live in St. Joseph but I teach English in Benton Harbor.  My girl friend lives in Chicago and I visit her every weekend.  I make this trip every week.’

     Dewey’s mind was about to go free form.  It was about to take the same relationship to his body that the Milky Way takes to Earth.  Fortunately he still had enough control not to express an unasked for opinion of Terry Gaste.  His own thoughts were that Gaste was gay but he had enough sense to stay in the closet in Benton Harbor.  Dewey thought that he probably went to Chicago on weekends for sex.  Heaven was merciful to Trueman; he kept his speculations to himself but converted his opinions into a series of malicious comments.

page 1824.

     ‘Wow, that’s a long way to go to see your girl firend.’

     If Dewey’s mind had been functioning he might have reflected on that statement.  Gaste was driving only two hundred miles round trip.  Dewey thought nothing of an over night jaunt from San Diego to LA which was about the same distance.  He regularly traveled twelve hundred miles round trip to San Francisco on a weekend.  And then he had to hitchhike more often than not.  But in Michigan a hundred miles seems like a great long trip.

     ‘I don’t mind.  We’re in love.  She’s worth it.’

     ‘Really?  I don’t know if I could do that.  I’d get a girl in Benton Harbor.’

     Then Dewey egan to talk about things that, had he been rested, he wouldn’t have mentioned.  But under that patent leather black and white environment of shimmering snow flakes and dazzlingly white snow banks an inchoate fear seized his vitals causing unnamed specters to be released from the right side of his brain.  Perhaps his subconscious flooded his conscious mind.  No, that wasn’t it.  It was the right side.

     ‘I’m quite happy this way actually.’  Gaste said trying to edge off the subject.

    ‘Boy, I’d be afraid she’d be cheating on me.’

     ‘Oh no.  I have absolute trust in her.’

     ‘Oh, I don’t know.  Do you call her weekdays.’

     ‘Yes.  We talk.’

page 1825.

     ‘Is she always there?’

    ‘Well, no.  Not always.’

     ‘See.’

     ‘See what?  She can’t always be home.  That doesn’t mean she’s out with someone else.’

     Dewey’s emotional development had been arrested by the sharp break in his routines caused by entering the Navy.  He still had a teenage notion of fidelity.  Thus his fears now amounting to a panic kept him on the subject even though he could see the discomfort he was causing Gaste.

     He liked Gaste and could see his error but he couldn’t get his mind out of its rut.  He insisted to the point of being obtuse.  Gaste, who was kind and considerate to a fault was being driven to his wit’s end.  Perhaps for that reason his concentration wavered.  The car lost traction and slid up against the snowbank.

     Gaste couldn’t regain traction.  The tires spun uselessly.

    ‘I think you’re going to have to get out and push.’  Gaste said tersely fearful that Trueman wouldn’t keep his end of the bargain.

     ‘Oh well.  Nobody rides for free.’  Trueman replied with mock ruefullness, thankful for the intrusion into his feeling of nauseating panic.

     Pushing was out of the question.  Gaste’s De Soto, the marque of the car wasn’t mentioned but his was the last model year of De Soto, ’58 if I remember correctly, blue and white, was a heavy car but even had it been lighter Dewey’s feet would have slid out from under him.

page 1826.

     Dewey had no intention of being stranded for hours, there must be a way out.  He noticed that as slick as the road was and as high and firm as the snowbank was it was possible to perhaps wedge himself between the snowbank and the car and push the car sideways back into the road.

     ‘There’s no way I can push it, Terry.’  He ssid speaking rhough Gaste’s open window.  ‘This road’s too slick.  But we can try this.  I’ll wedge myself in between the car and the snowback, when I shout  Now! give it the gas and I’ll push sideways with my foot.  That might get it out of the groove it’s in and back in the road where the wheels won’t be in slick ruts.’

     ‘You don’t think you will hurt my car, do you?’

     ‘What do you mean?’

     ‘If you push with your foot on the fin the metal might cave in.’

     ‘Terry, in a contest between me and steel I’ll bet against myself every time.  You should too.’

     ‘Well, I suppose it’s worth a try.’

     ‘Sure it is.’

     Dewey got into position and shouted to Gaste to give it the gas.  Belying his apparent timidity Gaste gunned the engine mightily.  Dewey pushed.  Almost perfect; the DeSoto left the ruts and shot out into the middle of the road straight as an arrow as Dewey slid down the snowbank with a painful bump.

     There was a moment of anxiety for Dewey as he feared Gaste might drive off without him.  Such was not the case.

     1827.

     In the first place Gaste was much too decent a guy to even think of abandoning Dewey even though Dewey’s chatter had him running up walls.  Also if he spun out once he could spin out twice; why take chances, still he thought Dewey might have dented his car.

    ‘You didn’t dent my car.’  He asked Dewey as the sailor, smiling at his success, slid back in the seat.

     ‘No.  It worked perfectly, Terry.  We’re even pointed straight down the road.  I was afraid it might to into the opposite snowbank.  Let’s go.’

     ‘I’m going to check.’

     ‘It’s alright Terry, don’t check.  Let’s go before we lose traction again.’

     Gaste hopped out  to run around the car like a ferret to check Dewey’s word.  Finding the fender without a dent he got back in the car much relieved.  Easing the car forward slowly they regained traction.

     In the time he had been able to divert Dewey’s rattling chat Dewey had revealed some rather remarkable details of his journey.  He wasn’t aware yet of the effect of the trip on himself but Gaste was amazed even horrified at the details Dewey had given him.  The motorcycle ride with Rodeo Frank had made quite an impression.

     Now determined to keep Dewey off subjects offensive to himself, Gaste had a line of converstaion ready when he got back in the car.

page 1828.

     Dewey himself had had a transformation out in the cold.  Still obsessed with the legendary snowstorm in Flagstaff he could hardly  believe that that storm was worse than this one.  He therefore dismissed the story as some writer’s hyperbole thereby putting to rest a piece of ephemera that had bothered him for years.

     The combination of white snow and black sky blew through his mind like a gale.  The extreme black shininess of the deep browed sky seemed to him like Mother Space while the cold white flakes came down like bits of bone white death.

     The reason that the car had slid was that a snow plow had preceded them turning the road into a white carpeted path of packed snow which added to the sharp contrast accentuated by the ricocheting light from the headlamps.

     Dewey’s mind was overwhelmed by the white and black as he half slid and half skated back to the car.

     His despair caused him to conceive his situation as one of death in life.  A quiet panic festered in his mind.  His fatigue began to swirl his mind as though it were the center of four strong contending winds, like the great swirl of the Milky Way sliding backwards from the center of the Big Blast through space.  The white and black seared his mind.

     As the conversation developed Dewey made connections and expressed opinions that would have been blocked by a rested and conscious mind.  He expressed opinions and analyses he never knew he had.  He could never have repeated them on the spot nor could he have remembered them after rest.

page 1829.

     Meaning to seize the initiative Terry Gaste used the key that opened Dewey’s mind to a flood of opinion that Gaste had not expected.  There had been nothing said to this point that gave any indication of Dewey’s intellectual depth.  Indeed, his pimpled face and cold staring expression indicated just the opposite.  Gaste had expected to toy with him and dazzle him with his brilliance.

     Gaste was impressed by the idea of Dewey having hitchhiked all the way across country from San Diego.  Like many others in his class Gaste repressed such desires but greatly romanticized them.  He had also read Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ that had been out for over a year now.  He imagined there was some similarity between Kerouac’s and Trueman’s experience.

    ‘Have you read that new book ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac?’  He asked expecting that Dewey had never heard of it.

     ‘Yes.’  Dewey replied.

     ‘You have?’  Gaste said raising the pitch of his voice in surprise.  Before he went on he sought to know how as he imagined not without reason that Dewey would have been cut off by Navylife from more recent literary developments.  ‘Umm, do you read a lot?’

     ‘Actually quite a bit.’  Dewey replied.  ‘That book you mentioned was one they passed aound.  I had to read it, as it were, I didn’t like it but it has made a terrific impression aboard ship.  They talk about it all the time.’

     ‘You had to read it?  Why’s that?’

page 1830

     ‘Well, being aboard ship is a pretty peculiar way to live.  There’s a whole big difference between what is called the  ‘officers’ and the ‘men.’  I’m obviously of that part called ‘the men.’  Being in the Navy is like being in the orphanage or in prison.  They don’t allow for a lot of individuality.  It’s very easy to be thought weird.  They don’t want you to know anything they don’t.  If you do that makes them feel insecure and inferior.  They don’t want you read, become familiar with literature like, oh say, Victor Hugo or John Dos Passos, so certain books are passed around that you are expected to be familiar with or not.  They don’t care if you don’t read the books; they do allow for greater ignorance than theirs.’

     ‘What kind of books?’

     ‘Well, mostly they’re kind of dirty, soft corn porn, you might say.  Although some have a quite serious side and even have a backhanded moral or, at least, lesson you have to a fringe person to get it.  One of them was about a guy who got knocked over the head, had amneisa, and becomes a criminal under an assumed name, naturally, as he can’t remember his own.  Happened to me I’d use the name of the guy who lived kitty corner from me, mess up his reputation.  His wife goes in search of him.  In the pursuit she becomes a prostitute because, even thought this course is repugnant to her, she believes this is the only way to find her beloved.  It goes on like that.  Some guy cornholes her and we get a description of  her patting her rectum back into shape.  Stuff you need to know to get through life.  In the end the boy gets his memory back but instead of being angry with his wife he cherishes her because she made this great sacrifice of her virtue just for him.  So crime is kind a natural part of life is the moral.  It kind of keeps your mind off the stars and in the muck so you don’t get to thinking you’re better than the scum you live with.  That’s what the French call ‘egalite.’

     ‘Do you mean as in the slogan of the French Revolution: Liberte, egalite, fraternite?

     ‘That’s it.  What egalite means is than anyone who tries to excel is put down.  Therefore egalite cancels liberte  and makes fraternite impossible because who would want to associate with such a bunch of bums.  Ha ha ha.’

     ‘But what was the moral of this book about the woman who became a prostitute?’

     ‘The argument goes that you would forgive your wife if she became a prostitute to save you, wouldn’t you?  Of course you would, is the correct answer.  And then, by extension, that if you would forgive her for screwing other guys to save your life then it is ridiculous to be jealous of your wife if she is screwing other guys for pleasure.  So you should just let anybody who want to screw her screw her and just shut up.  Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so, see?  My argument was that it may work well when you’re screwing the other guy’s wife but you aren’t going to be so tolerant when it happens to you.  I asked if they thought I should be jealous if any of them were screwing my wife, should I have one,  and they said no.  Then I asked how they would they feel if I were screwing their wife and to a man they said they would stomp my ass into dust.

     Anyway if you approve prostitution or promiscuity for one reason then it can’t be wrong for any reason.  So the tendency of these books including ‘On The Road’, seems to be in inculcate a tolerance for criminality.  Besides which all these guys are all hypocrites.’

page 1832.

     ‘Do you know how these books are selected?  Who does it?’

     ‘Not exactly.  But control seems to be coming from the midships area.  I tried to get a couple books inserted in the rounds but they were coldly rejected so I have to believe the books were selected for a political purpose.  Pretty undemocratic censorship, hey?’

     ‘What books did you try to insert?’

     ‘Well, from the content of the books I’ve seen passed around it wouldn’t do any good to try for books you English teachers think are literature, but, you know, there is much more pertinent writing than guys like Mailer, Roth or Herman Wouk going around.

    I mean they even gave a Pulitzer prize to that piece of crap, ‘The Caine Mutiny.’  What an impossible story.  I doubt if  Wouk was even ever aboard ship.  But then other stuff doesn’t get a chance with major publishers.  Actually ‘On The Road’ is an exception.  That book is outside the acceptable tradition of polite literature, what you might call ‘outlaw.’  It’s about the same mental caliber as this book called ‘Junkie’ that was passed around.

     There’s a couple of very interesting publishers who put out this kind of stuff in Kerouac’s style.  One’s Ace and the other is Gold Seal.  Ever heard of them?  No?  You’ve probably seen them on the paper back racks.  One despises them because they only come out in paper back, no hard cover.  Turned up your nose and walked away, eh?  I had to get over the prejudice myself.  Broaden out, it won’t hurt you.

page 1833.

     Gold Seals’s got one, out of several I’ve read, that’s particularly interesting called ‘I Am Legend.’  I tried to get this one in.

     (This book was later made into a distorted movie verson that completely betrays the impact of the novel, called ‘The Omega Man’ starring Charlton Heston.  This story was converted into a version acceptable to the Revolution.  It was again released as ‘I Am Legend’ after the turn of the century as the story of  Black and White race issues.)

     It’s about a world in which vampires start out as a small persecuted group, somewhat like the early Christians or present day Commies, but gradually enlarge in numbers until there are more of them than us.  Finally there is only one regular guy left, everyone else has been turned into a vampire.  Technically the vampires cannot suck each other’s blood without dying out as there is no fresh blood left but if that were allowed, no story.

     Finally there’s only one guy left.  He goes around by day killing as many vampires as he can find.  they turn around and persecute him by night.  They assault him in his impregnable, apparently fire proof wooden fortress all night long.  Never could figure when he got any sleep, must have been a bundle of nerves.

     There’s a real stalemate until the vampires learn how to survive in daylight.  Then they put on tanning lotion, must have been left over on some drugstore shelf, on the most beautiful of their women.  In my book she must have been fair of face, 40D, 25, 38.  Like them proportions?  But the author was vague.

page 1834.

     She infiltrates this guy’s lair, betrays him and he ends up being on the gallows.  The last sane man left alive, hence he is legendary.

     I don’t know why my shipmates rejected it unless it was resistance to the end.’

     That was part of it.  The book was interpreted as an anti-Communist allegory.  Dewey was correct in sensing that control of the books came from midships.  The Revolution’s agent on board was Teal Kanary and the Yeoman’s office was midship.

     At this time the Navy was very sensitive to Communist infiltration.  All swabbies were supposed to be on lookout for Communist agents and report them.  The Navy only understood the problem in terms of espionage not as social attitude.  The Revolution accordingly disparaged the notion of espionage but Russian agents did exist.

     The author was once stopped at gunpoint on Treasure Island because he had inadvertantly strolled into an unmarked restricted area at night.  The Navy didn’t post warnings so that attention wouldn’t be called to the area.  The Russian spies adopted the perfect camouflage; they were among the officers supervising the area.  Navy arrogance was such that they thought officers could do no wrong.  Any such spies were above suspicion.  It was ‘the men’ you had to look out for.

     The Communist Party was only the political arm of the Revolution.  the Revolution exists on many different fronts.  It is wrong to assume that the Revolution is interested only in armed revolt.  That method will succeed only under very special conditions which have been present merely two times in the last three hundred years: 1789 and 1917.  The better method is to bore from within.

page 1835.

     The Revolution takes place more effectively in literature, movies and records where White standards are systematically undermined and replaced by Red ideals.  Hence the books passed around the ship were subversive to White morality.  ‘I Am Legend’ was subversive or Revolutionary objectives.  Thus, the book was thrown back in Dewey’s face.  So much for the slogan of liberty, equality and fraternity except as double speak.

      ‘Well.’  Terry said, trying to get back on ground he understood.  ‘But, didn’t you think ‘On The Road’ was a terrific read?’

     ‘It bothered me.  I saw just a bunch of petty grifters involved in theft, drugs and illicit sex.  Have you heard of this guy Allen Ginsberg?’

      This was getting onto ground forbidden to Terry Gaste.  It might be OK to have heard of Ginsberg amongst the academic community but certainly not to be familiar with his work.  Ginsberg had after all used the word ‘fuck.’  In these antediluvian days before Lenny Bruce had made the seven forbidden works commonplace the use of the f word was enough to disqualify anyone from consideration.  Gaste had read Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’, even recently, but the knowledge was carefully concealed by the high school English teacher.  However here in his car with the heater going in a freezing snowstorm with Dewey he felt safe to talk freely.  He didn’t think Dewey would ever be able to turn him in.

     ‘You mean the poet who wrote ‘Howl?’  Terry said with awe of both Ginsberg and Dewey who he would never have thought would have ever heard of the ‘poet’ Ginsberg.  Terry didn’t seem to realize that the poem was directed at precisely the social class of Trueman and not at polite culture.

     ‘Poem?  Oh yeah, maybe.  I think the title, Howl, is the whole message.  He could have skipped the verbiage.  This guy is supposed to be the poet type guy in ‘On The Road.’  He was Kerouac’s friend.  He’s the model and in Howl he has this line about how he has seen the best minds of his generation driven insane of something to that effect.  If these guys in ‘On The Road’ are the best minds of his generation I think we should all check into the asylum right now.’

     In fact, one of the best minds, Neal Cassady, model for Dean Moriarty in the novel, had set up a major marijuana smuggling operation in San Francisco surpassing that of the Kreskins.  He, however, had been caught.  He was at this time undergoing trial and about to be sent to San Quentin.

     ‘You feel that strongly?’  Terry said, feeling disappointed. 

     ‘Sure.  the book is just another example of ephemeral fruits to my way of thinking.’

     The term was so unexpected in this little capsule inching along the frozen slippery path in the snowstorm behind the snow plow which they had overtaken but couldn’t pass that Gaste had to laugh.  ‘Ephemeral fruits?’

pare 1837.

     ‘Yeah.  It’s like so much happening today.  It doesn’t have any intellectual value.  I mean, they got this guy in San Francisco by the name of Lenny Bruce whose whole pitch is dirty words.  I mean, you know, his whole act seems to be to introduce the words Fuck and Cocksucker into parlor conversation.  The guy’s disgusting yet he’s a hero to some of these guys aboard ship.  I mean, that’s really something to strive for, isn’t it?  Really betters humanity, doesn’t it?

     All the things we’re doing, filling our minds with, are just shallow entertainment so-called, perhaps entertaining but actually demeaning.  After all a mind has only so much time a day for something to be put into it.   When all that is put in is nothing but stupid movies and crusades to say Fuck in normal conversation, that’s not very intellectually nourishing, don’t you think?  We’re just gorging ourselves on sterile information.’

     ‘What do you mean by ephemeral fruits?  Is this a term you’ve conceived.’

     ‘Who me?  No.  It’s something I picked up in Mrs. Hicks’ English class in twelfth grade.  Stuck in my mind.  I like the sound of it:  Ephemeral fruits.  You should know it being an English teacher and all.’

     ‘Evaline Hicks at Valley Melville?’

     ‘Mrs. Hicks is all I know.  One doesn’t inquire into the first names of old broads and English teachers; but yes, I went to Herman Melville in the Valley.  Valley Melville as you guys down here refer to it.’

page 1838.

     ‘Yes.  Now what about ephemeral fruits?’

     ‘Well, it comes from a Greek myth, she was big on Greek myths, King Arthur, Roland and all that, where the monster Typhon takes on Zeus, beats him up, takes out his tendons and leaves them in a sack somewhere.

     Then to help out Zeus in his exremity some nymphs feed Typhon with ephemeral fruits that look good but contain no nourishment so that the more Typhon gorges himself the weaker he gets.  you see the comparison I’m making, right?’

     ‘Yes, I do.’

     ‘Yes.  Well, Mrs. Hicks had this theory about Typhon.  She didn’t call it a theory, I think she said it was an hypothesis.  You have to take responsibility for theories but you can get away with hypotheses.  It’s kind of like a  joke.  Anyway, you’ve heard of the island of Thera?  Exploded some time way back when?  Bigger than Krakatoa, bigger than the H-Bomb to hear people talk who weren’t there.

     So, she figures if this happened that it would make such a huge impression on everyone that it would have to be mentioned in Greek mythology, but it doesn’t appear to be.  But, she says, it has to be.  So she thinks that maybe the story of Typhon and Zeus is a mythological account of the explosion of Thera.  but, uh, I don’t know.’

     ‘I’m sure I don’t either.  Evaline, uh, Mrs. Hicks has been injudicious enough to mention her, uh, hypothesis at a couple conferences I’ve attended.  I think she’s a delightful lady but she lost credibility over this issue.’

page 1839.

     ‘How’s that.’

     ‘Well, no one’s ever heard it before.  There’s no authority for it.’

     ‘Well, yeah, but she only said there must be a reference to Thera and I think there must and that Typhon might possibly be it.’

     In fact as subsequent events have shown the author, there is every reason to believe that the explosion of Thera is accounted for by the myth of  Hera, Zeus and Typhon.  Let us consider it a moment, especially as the myth would eliminate Thera as a place for Atlantis.

     At one time Zeus ingested the goddess Metis but found her not entirely digestible.  She gave him a great headache.  This was relieved when he gave girth to Athene through his forehead.  This birth without female aid made Hera very envious.  In a fit of rage she gave birth to the monster Typhon without the aid of a male.  Typhon had roots deep into the earth while his head touched the stars.  Great wings sprouted from his shoulders which hid the sun.  His name has been interpreted to mean stupefying smoke or hot wind.  He was said to emit great boulders from his mouth as well as belching fire.  Sounds like a volcano to me.

     There are some who say the thrashing of his tail roused great tidal waves.

     Zeus stared bugeyed when he realized that this giant was invading his realm of the sky.  The earth monster of the Earth goddess Hera was attacking the Lord of the Sky.  The Great One was not keen on battle but to battle he must.  The skies flashed and roared from Zeus’ thunderbolts as he hurled them against the wasting hot breath of Typhon.

page 1840

     The mighty monster brought the Great One down, crushing him as though a matchstick.  Zeus being immortal could not be killed so Typhon stripped the body of the tendons rending Zeus immobile.  Then Typhon put the tendons in a leather sack which he hid in a cave in Cilicia, a nation on the coast of Anatolia.  The body he chucked away leaving Zeus an immobile hunk on the ground.

     Typhon would have emerged triumphant except that the great gods Hermes and Pan located the sinews and restrung the inert Father of the Gods.  As they were doing so the Fates fed Typhon with basket loads of Ephemeral Fruits.  The more the monster ate the weaker he got, thus Zeus returning to battle was able to defeat Hera’s creation returning the cosmos to normal.

     The myth on the surface of it appears to be merely a pretty tale.  When Herodotus, the father of historians hence a father of mine, was in Egypt he told the priests the story of Phaeton and Helios.  The priests advised him that the myth undoubtedly concealed an historical event, as in their opinion, all myths did.

     The myth of Phaeton concerns his desire to drive the horses of the sun across the sky.  He approached his father Helios who reluctantly consented.  Phaeton was unable to control the great beasts so the sun wobbled in its course coming so close to earth that the resulting fires nearly destroyed mankind.

     One would have been hard pressed to give a natural explanation to that one until the Summer of 2000 when a scorching heat wave in Greece drove the temperatures up to 120 degrees igniting the dry brush into great fires burning out of control.  Such a season might be described by people with meager meteorological knowledge as the sun wobbling off course close to earth.

page 1841.

     Let us suppose the ancient Egyptians to be right.  Let us suppose that the myth of Hera and Typhon is based on an actual event.  The myth is, of course, undated.  It merely happened once upon a time.  The myth does however perfectly describe the eruption of a specific type of volcano.  Thera was a dormant volcano of the type of Krakatoa, St. Helens and Mazama.  Both St. Helens and Mazama are in the Cascade Range of the Western United States.

     World famous Crater Lake is located in the crater created by Mt. Mazama when it exploded in prehistoric times.  Mazama was a big one of 12,000 to 14,000 feet which is apparently about as big as the type of volcano gets.  The mountain of Mazama was bigger than the island of Thera.

     The author was present when Mt. St. Helens exploded in the 1980s.  He was about sixty miles to the South in Portland, Oregon.  The rupture occured nearly at the summit.  The explosion sent rocks flying for miles as though hurled from Typon’s mouth.  The hot pyroclastic blast of gases rolled down the Northeast slope flattening tens of thousands of acres of forest.  The volcano vented gases and ash for two or three days which rose billowing up to 40,000 feet or better until they flattened out like a thunderhead drifting with the prevailing wind which was a Zephyr.

page 1842.

      The falling ash blocked the sun in Yakima, Washington about fifty miles East where ash accumualted to a depth of about eighteen inches.  A terrifying situation even when you knew what was happening..  Spokane, three hundred miles away received several inches.

     Mt. St. Helens was a nine thousand foot mountain before it exploded and about 6000 after the eruption.  The missing three thousand feet was not blown away by the explosion but worn away the venting ash and gases.

     St. Helens and Thera appear to have been about the same size so there is no reason to believe that Thera was a more cataclysmic disaster than St. Helens.

     People who imagine a fantastic disaster say that Thera exploded with a force of hundred hydrogen bombs.  This is so much nonsense.  St. Helens didn’t go off with even the force of one hydrogen bomb.  Such a disaster is geologically impossible.  What must have happened at Thera was what happened in Washington State in the nineteen eighties, a very impressive eruption but nothing equating a hundred hydrogen bombs.

     Hera being an earth goddess was assigned the parentage of Typhon because she represented Gaia, or Earth.  The eruption must have been terrifying to people without knowledge of volcanic causes so the event was interpreted as Hera challenging Zeus, the sky god, through her creation.  As Zeus’ sinews were hidden in a cave to the East of the eruption that means that the Zephyr was blowing the ash East at the time.  The great billows of ash would be interpreted as blocking the sun.  The thunderhead would interpreted as the head of Typhon reaching to the stars.

     There is no chance that the ash covered Greece to the West or Egypt to the South.  The ash would have streamed East in a fairly narrow band.  Thus Cilicia would have corresponded to Yakima in Washington State.  Further to the East the Hittites have a myth quite similar to Hera and the Typhon.  Their relationship to the explosion would have been approximately that of Spokane, Washington so their myth lacks the terror of the Greek myth.  The Hebrew Yahweh may also be based on the eruption.

     Initially the Sky God was overpowered hence his sinews were deposited in a cave in Cilicia where the ash fall was undoubtedly the heaviest.  Caves are representative of Gaia, so one may say the sinews were buried in the Earth.

     The Fates feeding Typhon Ephemeral Fruits merely means that after a couple days the repressed gases were vented and the vented ash had worn away the mountain sides creating present day Thera, or Santorini.   The ash stopped and Typhon died.

     Mrs. Hicks’ hypothesis cannot be conclusively proven although as indicated above it must be true.  It must also be true that there is a thick layer of ash in Cilicia that can be dated back to 1600 BC or so when Thera erupted.  Comparatively however the eruption of Thera could not have been of greater magnitude than St. Helens.

     Dewey added to the explanation of Mrs. Hicks’ theory:  ‘But I don’t know whether she’s right or not.’

     ‘I’m sure I don’t.’  Terry assented.  ‘I think it was very foolish of Evaline to give voice to her opinion in public; that is something that can’t be done.  All people are hypocrites on that score.  Any crowd of people can find comfort only in a trite acceptable explanation of something.’ 

page 1844.

     Gaste cast a sideways glance at Dewey who was so exhausted his eyes were spinning.  Terry thought to himself that now was the time to vent all those opinions boiling inside him that he could confide to no one without risking his reputation.  He was positive that what he had to say would never go beyond the confines of his car.

     ‘I don’t mean to say that I personally thought ill of Mrs. Hicks for having a controversial opinion but I certainly had to side with the majority to protect my career.’  Terry cleared his throat.  ‘I’m certainly familiar with controversial opinions; I have one or two myself which I wouldn’t dare mention in public.’

     ‘I guess I was right all along.’  Dewey said to himself preparing to push Gaste’s hand off his knee without offending him so much that he would make him get out into the swirling snowstorm.

     ‘First, let me give you a little background on myself so you will know how I come by these opinions.  I was born in Battle Creek and grew in up in Grand Rapids.  Of course I have a sound academic education from Wesleyan but my real education began, as it were, at my mother’s knee.’

     Dewey relaxed.  It was clear to him that Terry was not going to approach him.  As the English teacher appeared to be off on a long explanation Dewey put his brain in overdrive just letting Gaste’s story flow around his mind like the the light from a distant star around our own sun.

page 1845.

     ‘My mother was almost, well, she was really an obsessed woman.  She drove my father away when I was five when she declared to me that I would be the little man of her life; a man who would never leave her.  Strange that we no longer speak, wouldn’t you say?

     We were inseparable.  She took me along with her everywhere.  She made me her assistant and trained me in her researches at a quite early age.  She was obsessed with Astrology and by reference to the so-called Occult.  the Occult is merely a counter religion without its own pope; there is nothing inherently evil about it.

     She actually supported us in relatively decent tyle by casting horoscopes.  You would be amazed at the number of people who use Astrology.  Wealthy successful people too.  I was never able to develop the gift of gab that is necessary to be successful as an Astrologer but my mother could reel off these incredible analyses that were quite often correct: past, present and future.

     She wouldn’t admit that she was superstitious so she clothed her interest in scientific dress.  She learned enough about Astronomy and mathematics so she could pinpoint one’s natal horoscope.  She became quite learned in Greek, Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology and consequently so am I.  That’s why I’ve always liked Evaline so much.

     My mother’s patter as a consequence of this really substantial learning was very impressive.  Her clients really got their money’s worth.  She astounded them with revelations of their past and present which gave credence to her predictions for the future.  You might think that she researched her clients but she didn’t.  She had a remarkable ability to read a person’s character from their appearance.  She used to say that a person carried their whole history about them in their physiognomy, posture and dress.  Every fold of the clothes, every drape, every gesture and twitch, every line of their face tells who they are and what’s happened to them she used to tell me.   Vocabulary and speech patterns also give one away, the tone of the voice.  She was as remarkable in her way as Sherlock Holmes in his.  I once saw her identify a man as having gradutated from Ohio State on verbal clues which have always escaped me and I still think about it almost every day.

     She considered herself a genius but she couldn’t differentiate between academic standards and Occult methods.  She was always hurt because the academics not only rejected her but wouldn’t even listen to her.  She was right in thinking she was more learned too.

     When we were in Grand Rapids she cultivated a relationship with Cornelia Steketee Hulst.  Have you heard of her by any chance?  No.  Well, she was a very learned woman in Ancient History, gone now, but she lost her academic standing when she sided with an out of favor group of scholars who believe that a period of Matriarchy preceded the Patriarchal society in which we live today.  They are opposed and derided by the controlling Patriarchal academics who take a very narrow view of Greek history and mythology.

page 1847.

     They project a vision of the Greeks which fills their emotional needs but isn’t supported by the facts.  They willfully disregard many salient points so as not to damage the fabric of their beliefs.  But being numerically superior they succeed.

     At any rate Mrs. Hulst no longer had official standing.  Her very intelligent studies were published by what amounted to her private press ‘dedicated to freedom of speech.’

     My mother and I learned a great deal from her.

     So, now you know how I know what I know.

     Now I’m going to lead into a very controversial subject through the story of the Great Flood.  This is strictly my own opinion.  It has little relationship to the thought of either Mrs. Hulst or my mother.  As Mother was into Astrology I had a lot of time to study and think about the Zodiac.

     No. No.  I know Astrology as a means of predicting the future is a lot of hooey but, remember, the Zodiac is a historical fact having had a great influence on hstory as I hope to show you.  Poor old Mother couldn’t even get the academics to admit the Zodiac was an historical fact.

     The question is, did the Flood really occur and, if so, how and when did it happen.  I’m not talking about the version in the Bible but about the earlier Sumerian account on which the Bible story is based.  Have you ever heard of that?  No.  Well, the story is related in an epic poem called the Gilgamesh.  It precedes the Biblical story by thousands of years.

     My researches have led me away from a riparian explanation.  Scientific studies tell us that the planet was in the grip of an ice age that ended something like ten thousand years ago.  During the ice age the seas are thought to have been several hundred feet lower than they currently are when untold millions of tons of water were stored in glaciers and ice caps.

page 1848.

     Back in those ante-diluvian times it was said that a civilization existed that was known as Atlantis.  No. No. Please, just listen.  This civilization was referred to by the Egyptians and hinted at by the Mesopotamians.  The myths of the Greeks and Hebrews do not share this ancient tradition but merely reflect it as they are much too recent on the stage of history to have authentic traditions.    

     I hesitate to mention some of these things because some of the people who hold some of these views or views like them have been so discredited.  But my Mother was influenced by people like Edgar Cayce and Madame Blavatsky.  You know the names but that’all…well, they were privy to a lot of knowledge which is not academically accessible or acceptable.

     I say this confidentially, but in the light of our present knowledge of evolution and such matters if you compare the discredited Madame Blavatsky with an academic scholar like J.G. Fraser I think you will find in certain areas that Madame B. was light years ahead of Fraser and he was on the academic cutting edge, barely acceptable in his time.

     Madame B’s ‘Isis Unveiled’ came out thirty years before Frazer’s ‘Golden Bough’ but her understanding of the the meaning of Genesis is so much more profound than Frazer’s that she sounds modern while he sounds archaic.  Reputations are such that the two roles will never be rectified.

page 1849.

     As I say, my Mother was exposed to opinions of which very very few people are aware.  There are people who actually believe that the Sphinx was carved during the Zodiacal Age of Leo.  At the time the Greek legislator Solon was in Egypt the priests told him that Atlantis had existed some nine thousand years previously.  That would be under the sign of Leo the Lion.  The Sphinx was carved in the form of a lion.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  But let us go over to Mesopotamia and examine some of their legends.

     I don’t know how much knowledge you have Dewey but some of the names I’m going to mention may be unknown to you.  If they are don’t let that bother you.  You won’t need specialized information to understand the import of what I’m saying.

     Now, in the Gilgamesh epic of Sumer Gilgamesh lives during the reign of the Fifth King after the Deluge circa two thousand BC.  We have tended to disregard such information as mere fancy or fable.  If that were true it would mean the Ancients were just talking from the backs of their necks for no other reason than to amuse themselves.  I don’t think that’s true.  I think they’re talking sense but we just don’t know the frame of reference.

     The fifth king?  What can that mean?  Well, if we interpret each Age or Sign of the Zociac as a king and move back four signs from the Age of Aries which was just dawning in the period of Gilgamesh one finds Taurus, Genini, Cancer…and Leo.  So the Egyptians say that Atlantis disappeared under the sign of Leo and the Mesopotamians say that the Great Flood occurred during the reign of King Leo.

page 1850.

     This means that the Zodiac as a means of time reckoning is very old indeed.  It also indicates that the system had an existence before the Flood being inherited from a predecessor people.  it is interesting that the Mesopotamians said that the Gods existed before the Flood.

     The Gilgamesh epic itself on one level depicts the transition from one ‘king’ to another.  The transition is from the Age of Taurus to the Age of Aries.  The mind of man depicts the transit as one of conflict between the two signs.  For instance, Gilgamesh rules in the guise of Taurus while his successor, Enkidu, although the story seems garbled by later redactors who didn’t understand, is named a Wild Man living beyond the pale of civilization who is drawn into civilization where he serves his apprenticeship as a shepherd, a function of Aries, before going to Ur to challenge Gilgamesh, the representative of the old Age in a wrestling match.  There are differing outcomes to the match but I’m sure the version that has Enkidu triumphing is the original.

     In fact, after becoming friends, Gilgamesh and Enkidu combine their efforts to kill the ‘Bull of Heaven.’  What can this mean but that the Age of Taurus has been replaced by the Age of Aries.

     Thus a shepherd ushers in the Age Of Aries the Ram just as Christ ushered in the Age of Pisces becoming a Fisher of Men.

page 1851.

     Consider Greek mythology.  We know that Zeus did not always exist.  We are given the details of his birth.  We are further told that he will not rule forever but will be replaced by one of his sons.

     We know that Zeus did not survive the transition from Aries to Pisces.  When exactly was Zeus born?  It must have been two thousand years earlier.  In other words Zeus was an Arien god who could not survive the transition into the Age of Pisces.  A different age requires a different archetype.  He had replaced his Taurean father, Cronus.  Being immortal Zeus merely slid back a notch in the Zodiac until Aries returns twenty three thousand years later. 

     The period around two thousand BC was also a time of troubles in Egypt.

     The Jewish god, Yahweh, was also an Arien god.  Is it a coincidence that in the transition from Aries to Pisces that Jewish religious fanatics believed that the ‘End of Days’ was transpiring and that in the new world order they were to come into their own?  Is it possible that the terrible Jewish wars were based on Astrological motives?

     Why the Jews should have become so inflamed at that precise moment is a question to be investigated as it appears that no other people took the changing of the Ages quite so seriously.

     Judaism therefore is a survival of an Arien religion into the Age of Pisces and will even survive into the Age of Aquarius.  This makes the religion an anachronism and a real curiosity.  Could Jewish problems in the Age of Pisces be related to their refusal to accept the archetypes of the New Age?

page 1852.

     The rest of the world accepted the Piscean gods but not without travail.  By the time of Constantine the Piscean religion of Jesus the Christ had triumphed.  We can look for a major change in relgious outlook when the Aquarian archetypes replace the Piscean ones of Jesus and Mary.

     May I be so bold as to offer a prediction as to the nature of those archetypes?  The character of Jesus is a strange one.  He is curiously effeminate.  He is also a god of bread and wine as is indicated at the Last Supper when he offers the disciples a wafer as the flesh of his flesh and wine as the blood of his blood.  By that act he associates hemself with the rites of Eleusis, hence connecting himself with the Greek god, Dionysus.

     In later years the wine god Dionysus was connected with the rites of Eleusis where he was associated with the bread of Demeter.  Jesus is related only to the gentler effeminate side of Dionysus who was nearly half man, half woman.  Thus only half of Dionysus was associated with the Piscean incarnation of Kyrios Christos.  the other orgiastic wild nature side of Dionysus was absorbed by the Medieval creation of the Green Man.

     The Green Man is eternal resurgent nature.  Now, Aquarius is the the water bearer.  His rule in the Olympian Zodiac is Hera the goddess of Earth.  The Age of Aquarius is almost upon us so I predict that when the archetypes of the Piscean religion are replaced by the Aquarian, those archetypes will be the Green Man and Hera in the person of Gaia.  Remember, you heard it here first.

page 1853.

     But I digress.  Nor was the influence of Astrological beliefs, as distinct from the Zodiac, limited merely to the replacement of Aries by Pisces.  As you may have noted if you read the astrological column in the newspaper the sign of Pisces is two fish facing in the opposite directions connected by a cord.  One is male, one is female.

     Now, this is really extraordinary.  The first thousand years is ruled by the male, Jesus, while rulership reverses in the second half of Pisces to the female, Mary.  This actually happened.  Beginning sometime after the year one thousand the importance of Christ in the Catholic Church was superseded by Mary so that during the last half of Pisces the female spirit has been uppermost.  This is most extraordinary.

     Does this make sense to you so far?’

 

     (Terry, while adept in Greek mythology and astrology was not versed in Arthurian lore.  If he had been he would have noticed the supersession of the male principle in even more dramatic form.  Merlin, who had been the magician of the first thousand years of Pisces falls in love with Vivian, The Lady Of The Lake.  She induces him to transmit his lore to her.  Merlin knows what his fate is to be but he makes no attempt to avoid it.  When Vivian has obtained the lore, she imprisons Merlin in the female Earth under a great rock where he remains today, alive and expecting release.  One may assume that he may be assimilated to the Green Man and that his release will occur during the Age of Aquarius, the seventh king from the deluge.

page 1854

     There are probable other evidences of this remarkable change in direction in mid-Pisces.  What is outstanding is that the course of history is being influenced by subterranean currents which are not visible and do not appear to be directed by known secret societies.

     Further the entombment of Merlin was recorded by Church figures.

     This mystery is not imaginary but actually occurred and continues into the Age of Aquarius.  Ask yourself why the song ‘The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius’ was placed in the musical ‘Hair’ which song heralds the actual dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  Consider the relatively intense interest in the Green Man who appears to be emerging as the male archetype of the Age.  Consider the emergence of the cult of Gaia who is the female archetype.  The days of the Piscean archetypes are indeed numbered.  Who directs or how such movements are directed is a mystery and well worth investigating.)

 

     ‘Sure it make sense but I’m sure I don’t have enough knowledge to judge whether it’s true or not.’

     ‘I’m sure I don’t know whether it’s true nor not either but this is where my thoughts are leading me.  Now, Mrs. Hicks’ notion of Thera being accounted for by the myth of Hera and Typhon is satisfying because it eliminates Thera as a possible site of Atlantis.  There is no need to have two myths do the same thing besides which the myth of Atlantis is not integral to Greek culture.  The myth only makes its appearance in Greece from six hundred to three hundred BC when Solon brings it back from Egypt and Plato popularized it.

     Besides Thera couldn’t have made an impression so far South as Egypt.  There is no evidence of the explosion in their mythology.  At least I haven’t found any.

     If we accept the evidence of the Sphinx and the idea that the ‘five kings’ of Mesopotamia represent astrological ages then it follows that the Zodiac was operative before the Flood.

     Some other people or civilization devised it.

     The Mesopotamians also list epochs of thousands and tens of thousands of years before the Flood.  Because of the influences of the Hebrew Bible with its absurd chronology these epochs have been dismissed as hyperbole.  Folk myths.  As I think the notion of the five kings makes sense as Astrological ages then probably too do these eons which add up to about a hundred thousand years.

     What happened in those hundred thousand years?  I reason that the Zodiac originally represented the story of the terrestrial year.  After all the signs mean nothing in the celestial Zodiac but the signs accurately represent the progress of the terrestrial year.

     Now, the celestial Zodiac is imagined as a belt of astral constellations that surround the horizon.  what it means when we say that we are in the Age of Pisces is that the constellation of Pisces is in the due East position of the Zodiac so that the Sun rises in it.  When the year two thousand or so arrives as a result of precession Pisces will appear to have moved back while Aquarius will appear to slide into the sun position.  Thus as the Age of Taurus was slain by the Age of Aries, Aquarius will flood out Pisces.

page 1856.

     Yes.  Precession.   The Precession of the Equinoxes is a term that describes the effect of the Plane of the Ecliptic.  Yes.  The planet is off center or tilted by about twenty-three and a half degrees.  On the vernal equinox one might expect the sun’s ray on the equator to strike the same spot every year.  This is not the case because of the ecliptic.  The ray actually strikes several hundred yards behind the previous year’s place so that  a period of twenty-five hundred years or so passes before the Sun’s ray strikes at the beginning point.

     This immense period is known as the Great Year.  The notion with the Ancients is always as above, so below.  It therefore follows that as the Zodiac applies to the terrestrial year so also must it apply to the Great Year.

     The Hermetic philosophy is a belief system that evolved out of the collapse of the Egyptian belief system after the Persian conquest.  Its characteristic saying was as above, so below and vice versa.  Thus the concept of as above, so below may appear to be much later than the origin of the Zodiac but just as the embryo contains the individual from birth to old age so every idea man has or ever will have is contained in the seed of his origins.

page 1857.

     As a teacher we are taught that the word educate is from the Latin term ‘e-ducere’ which means to lead from.  thus every idea leads from or is developed from its seed at the beginning of time and can be traced back to it.  It may be that no Atlantean ever used the words as above, so below but the translation of the Zodiac from Earth to the sky proves the concept was in his mind.

     Where was I?  Oh, yes.  The celestial Zodiac progresses backward or counter-clockwise through the Great Year.  A circle is of three hundred sixty degrees now as then so that it takes seventy-two years to pass through a single degree which would be scarcely noticable to the small number of priests who lived as long so I don’t believe any one priest was so quick as to note one degree of movement, extend that out to the whole process and formulate the concept so that his fellows could accept it, understand it and pass it on.  That’s rubbish.

     So I think the phenomenon of the Great Year had to be observed at least four times.  The first time to notice it, the second to formulate it, the third to prove it and the fourth to establish it.  That amounts to about a hundred thousand years which coincides with the Mesopotamian dates.

     The purpose of the celestial Zodiac was obviously as a counting and mnemonic device.  By noting the position of the celestial Zodiac immense notions of time could be kept.  Before writing, events of importance could be associated with each degree of an age while previous ages were visible with their memories attached.  For instance, the Flood is said to have occurred five ages back.  Had it happened in the previous Great Year it would be said that it happened seventeen kings back.  Twelve plus five.  Or, alternatively, thirty-five thousand years ago.

page 1858

     So much for the origins of the celestial Zodiac.  The signs we use to represent the ages of the Zodiac go no further back than the Greeks.  Still the notions behind the signs are undoubtedly identical to the notions of the originators.  As the embryo grows in form it changes but the genetic identity remains the same.  Do you see what I mean?

     Science has always been present in the world but its idea has to be drawn from point to point in sense of e-ducere.  That’s why it is ridiculous to compare the nineteenth century views of primitives with Mediterranean mythology.  The Med mythology is an education of a hundred thousand yeawrs in the most active speculative area on Earth with results obtained no where else.

     Idea after idea was drawn from previous thought in the clash of opinions leading to intelligence.  In backwaters like Australia there was no real means of advancing thought so the society stagnated.  One might think of e-ducere as cross fertilization.

     The discovery of fire was not scientific because as the Ancients say, it was the ‘gift’ of the gods.  Fire hardening a stick to make a spear is science no matter how primitive.  However the greatest scientific advance of  early man was the development of the ability to measure the length of the actual solar year.

page 1859.

     Possibly early man used the moon as his first calendar.  If so, however long it took him to discover it, he learned much more quickly that the moon had little value as a timekeeper.  He needed something better which he recognized in the solar year.

     Once again I am extrapolating Greek mythology back in time.

     The first thing man noticed was the two halves of the solar year.  In one half the days lengthened with his hopes while in the other half the length of the days diminished increasing his fears.  Thus in Greek mythology you have the myth of Castor and Polydeukes or by his Latin name, Pollux.

     In the Greek myth Zeus coupled with an Earth goddess named Leda when he assumed the form of a swan.  Leda then laid two eggs.  Out of one emerged the two halves of the solar year, Castor and Polydeukes.  Castor was mortal while Polydeukes was immortal.

     Castor who was a trainer of horses represents the first half of the year from December twenty-first to June twentieth.  He is probably associated with horses because one has the impression that the first half of the year passes so quickly and horses are so fleet.

     Polydeukes rpresents the second half of the year as a boxer.  He was a boxer because, as I read it, he fights the shortening of the days while battling against the Hydra to prevent the Unconquerable Sun from being extinguished.

     Castor is mortal because his half of the year is terminated when the days begin to shorten.  Polydeukes is immortal because in his battle to defeat the Hydra he is successful in that the days begin to lengthn at the end of his term.

page 1860

 

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII: The Heart Of The Matter

Clip 9

by

R.E. Prindle

     Yisraeli had made contact with one of them with whom he was having breakfast while hoping for Trueman and Zion to show up.  His pretext for the meeting was market research. 

     The homo, Lips Carmody, was spilling out all his repressed needs to Our Lady who he thought would immediately go back to Escondido and fill them when Yehouda spotted Trueman on the other side of the highway as Showbaby drove into the lot.

     ‘Oh my god!’ He ejaculated.

     ‘What?’ Lips asked.

     ‘Do you see that sailor over there?’

     ‘Yes.”

     ‘He…he is one of the most savage homosexual baiters in San Diego.’

     ‘You don’t say?’

     ‘I do say.  You would do the brotherhood a big service by keeping his weeny moving right out of Barstow.’

     ‘I will.’  Lips said getting up to match his action to his words.

     He passed Showbaby on the way out.  Show had delayed entering on a signal from Yisraeli.

     As Carmody went out to hustle Trueman through town Yisreali and Showbaby went out to alert Dagger who was standing by his car.

     ‘That’s him in the sailor suit, Dagger.  Here’s your other five hundred.  I’ll send the rest to you in Bay City.’

page 1681.

     ‘Five hundred?  Supposed to be a thousand.’

     ‘I was in a big hurry since you weren’t organzied.  I must have grabbed five hundred by mistake.’  Yehouda stuffed five one hundred dollar bills into Dalton’s shirt pocket contemptuously.  One might understand Our Lady’s wish to appear the Big Man but it was a mistake.

     Dalton considered himself a man among men and he didn’t consider Yehouda a man.  Dalton wouldn’t be belittled by a mere twit.  Hadn’t he decked his sergeant, who was a real man, and done time in the brig like a man the Marines couldn’t handle?

     Dalton spilled the bills back out of his pocket as contemptously as Yisraeli had put them there.  At the same time he seized Our Lady by the throat lifting him off the ground.  It might have been an interesting experience for Yehouda if Zion hadn’t been there.

     Quickly scooping up the bills before the desert wind wafted them into the hills Show did everything he could to soothe Dalton.  He didn’t want a scene in a parking lot that might bring the police.  He added fifty dollars he had on him to the five hundred talking smoothly and rapidly.  Always keep the other guy’s mind occupied by a ceaseless drone of bull patter.  They listen rather than acting.

     While Showbaby was pattering on Lips was harassing Trueman.

     ‘You better get out of town right now, buddy.  We don’t want your kind around here.’

     ‘What kind is that?  Sailors?’  Dewey asked dumbfounded by this guy’s hostility.

page 1682.

     ‘Don’t get cute with me.  You know what I mean.  I’ve heard about you.’

     ‘Dewey turned and walked a hundred yards away in an attempt to get away from Carmody.  Lips pursued, still berating him.  This happened several times until Dewey had traversed the little town and was near its Eastern limit.  He had all but gotten out of town.

     Somewhat satisfied Lips said:  ‘You better be outta here, buddy.  If i come back in an hour and you’re not gone I’ll have you arrested as a vagrant.’

     ‘A vagrant?  You gotta be nuts.  You can see I’m in uniform; therefore I have visible means of support.’

     Men of Carmody’s stamp are not influenced by facts or logic.

     ‘An hour, wise mouth.  You hear!  One hour.’

     Trueman didn’t believe him but he couldn’t account for his unbounded hostility either.  And he was vulnerable.  These were the times when sheriffs had little fiefdoms which they culd run without regard to law or outside interference.  Many ran speed traps where hapless motorists were fleeced of large sums of money and sent packing.  Not infrequently they never made it out of town under their own power.  The Interstates would change all that in a few years, people shot through bypassing these petty tyrants.

     Dewey did have the two hundred dollars on him.  If picked up the bunko artists called cops would get it all.  He would probably spend a couple days in jail then be sent back to San Diego and billed exorbitantly for the expense.  No recourse either.  Dewey became very alert to the fact that he was living on his wits.  Not to mention his thumb.

     Back at the motel, mutual threats having been exchanged Dalton took the five hundred fifty.  Shaking his fist menacingly at Yehouda he shouted:  ‘You better get the rest to me pronto or I’ll come back here and kill your shifty ass.’

     A few minutes later he stopped in the middle of the highway throwing the door open:  ‘Get in.’  He leered in menacing tones.

    Hyperion To A Satyr

     Dagger had a scary aspect.  Dewey didn’t like his looks.  He thought he recognized him from the motel parking lot where he had heard the ruckus and seen Dagger grab Our Lady by the throat.  He decided to decline the ride even though certain arrest was awaiting him.  But, out there on the highway etiquette requires a good reason for refusing a ride.

     ‘How far are you going?’  Dewey asked hoping for a short distance so he could decline.

     ‘Bay City.’  Dagger said with a confidential smile.

     ‘Bay City?’  Dewey thought, utterly taken back.  Bay City, Michigan?  He couldn’t imagine another Bay City out there in the desert so he got in.

     ‘Bay City, Michigan?’  Dewey asked incredulously.

     ‘That’s right.’

     ‘I’m going to the Valley.’  Dewey replied awestricken at this good luck.  At least, he thought, it would be a forty-eight hour trip from here.

     ‘I know.’  Dalton replied mysteriously.

page 1684.

     Dewey, taken aback, looked sharply at Dalton:  ‘What do you mean, you know?’

     For answer Dalton rudely reached over and pushed down the lock.  Accelerating sharply he said:  ‘Don’t try to get out of the car if you don’t want to get hurt.’

     Dewey pondered this remark thoughtfully.  First the guy in Barstow says he’s heard of him and now this guy says he knows he’s going to the Valley.  Strange, but following his own maxim that there’s nothing to worry about until it’s time to worry about it or, as the Irish proverb has it:  There’s time enough to bid the devil good morning when you meet him.  Dewey didn’t panic but as it was clear that push might come to shove he began to take stock of Dalton and his situation.

     As he now studied the driver he saw a relatively good looking but crude, fellow.  Not handsome in a gorgeous Cary Grant way but handsome enough to pass muster.  However his features were brutish betraying not only a lack of education but a lack of sympathy for refinement or benevolence of any sort.  Dalton did look like a murderous criminal which is why Dewey hesitated in the first place.

     A pair of black motorcycle boots rested on the pedals topped by a pair of black denim trousers.  Hoodlum tough guy dress.

     A peculiar short sleeved canned pea green shirt with a pierced embroidery design on the sleeve ends covered a good but not overly developed torso.  What, Dewey wondered, did that really very feminine shirt mean?  Indecision he decided.  When Dalton had grabbed Yisraeli by the throat standing at his full six foot three inches his presence had been enough to throw the fear of God into Our Lady.  Dewey didn’t think he could win a face to face confrontation with such ferocity but that pea green shirt with the frilly cuffs showed Dagger could be manipulated.

page 1685.

      Neverthless Dalton looked like the self-centered single minded ruffian he was.

     Fortunately for Trueman Dalton was a brute, a mere belly with arms and legs.  It’s not so much that he didn’t have mental capacity but he had been brought up to despise intelligence, education, study and diligence.  He was what Daddy Dagger called a natural man.  One would be tempted to say that he couldn’t read or write but he had passed the Navy intellegence tests to get into the Marines.  Probably his recruiter gave the box A key.

     It is certain Daddy Dagger couldn’t read or write; he was a real natural too.

     That wasn’t because the Daggers were incapable but because they didn’t want to.  They despised all the accoutrements of civilization except, of course, cars, guns and beer.  They were the equivalent of the primitive man.  The men of the Golden Cronian Age.  They were what the Revolution aspired to turn all men into in an orgy of ‘equality.’

     Equality.  The central thesis of the Revolution is worth looking into.

     As I said before the Cronian or Revolutionary consciousness is one of the four principal approaches to life.  The other three being the Matriarchal, Patriarchal and Scientific.  They have all existed coterminously from the beginning.  The trails are quite clear if you’re attuned to following them.  The central and uniting symbol of the Cronian consciousness is the Phrygian Cap.

page 1686

     The origin, history and meaning of the Cap has never, to my knowledge, been investigated.  Its meaning is so obscure that there seems to be no handle with which to begin discussion.  Nevertheless I will at least offer some tentative suggestions.

     The cap is invariably red which is the color of stern justice as well as blood.  There is no sterner justice than the shedding of blood.

     In form the cap is a visorless cone bent in the middle so that the top or bell inclines toward the forehead.  The cap was a characteristic of the ancient Phrygian people.  Phrygia was the area of Anatolia between the coastal settlements of Troy and the North of the inland Hittite Empire.

     The Phrygians were either expelled from or left the southern Danubian region to cross the Dardanelles settling in Anatolia.  Although the knowledge of the Phrygians themselves if the sketchiest it is probable that they settled in Anatolia just before or during the hegemony of the Hittites.  Most certainly displaced by the great migrations of the Aryans taking place at that time.

     The evidence indicates that they were a people antecedent to the introduction of agriculture which they rejected preferring a reactionary existence as hunter gatherers.  It may be conjectured that the agriculturists drove them from the Danubian Basin much as the sodbusters outsted the cattlemen in the US.

page 1687.

     Once in Anatolia they continued their Cronian ways rejecting all the appurtenances of civilization.  That may have included a rejection of Anatolian religious practices.  A rejection of religion remaining a Cronian tenet to the present.

     As to the origin of the Phrygian cap.  The cap of divintity amongst the Hittites was a tall conical rimless cap.  There is evidence that the Phrygians had a hand in the destruction of the Hittite Empire.  As a gesture of contempt it is possible that the Phrygians wore the cap broken and bent forward as a sneer or rejection of divinity.

     The earliest mention of the Phrygian cap that I know of occurs in the story of the Phrygian King Midas with his asses ears which occurs in Greek mythology.

     One must remember that the Greek myths of the Bronze Age only began to be written down with Homer and Hesiod in perhaps the eighth century which was a full 300-800 years after the events they record.  the rest were recorded mostly from 100 BC to 300 AD or even later so it may be assumed that not only did their recorders not have direct knowledge but that they had lost the key to their meaning.  That means that they changed or edited the myths so that they had meaning for themselves.

     Midas himself was the son of a Satyr and a goddess; thus his origins are definitely Cronian; couldn’t be clearer.  In the myth, Marsyas, a Satyr challenges the God Apollo to a musical contest in an access of pride.  Naturally Apollo won although he had to cheat to win.  In the first face off Marsyas was judged the equal of Apollo.  Apollo then challenged Marsyas to turn their intruments upside down and play a round that way.  Well, as Apollo was playing the harp and Marsyas was playing the pipes it is not difficult to see who won that one.

page 1688.

     As the penalty for his presumption Marsyas was flayed alive by Apollo.

     During the contest Midas had taken the side of Marsyas for which Apollo punished him by giving him the ears of an ass.  Thoroughly embarrassed by his condition it is said that Midas invented the Phrygian cap to conceal his ears.

     Concealed beneath his cap the only person who knew Midas had asses ears was his barber.  Midas swore him to absolute secrecy.  The barber was bursting with his secret and had to tell somebody.  He dug a hole by the river bank and sticking his head deep in the hole he whispered that Midas had asses ears.

     He covered the hole up and walked away much relieved.  However with the spring floods reeds grew over the hole and thus learned the secret.  When the wind vibrated the reeds just right they could be heard to sing:  King Midas has asses ears.  Well, the secret was out, there was nothing left for Midas to do but kill himself which he did.

     It seems clear from the myth that the Greeks considered the Phrygians spiritual competitors.  The Trojans had been material competitors and they had been eliminated by the Trojan War.  Spiritual competitors cannot be eliminated by physical means so the Greeks concocted a myth in which higher civilization as represented by Apollo destroyed the Cronian society in a spiritual contest.

page 1689.

     To perpetuate the Greek victory the Cronians were characterized as asses and their key symbol the Phrygian Cap was belittled as a mere means of concealing the asses ears which they all had.

     The rejection of civilization for some impossible golden age was silly in the eyes of the Greeks and has remained so to rational people down to the present time.  There are many deprecating references to these impractical people in the literature of the ages.  There are Roman references in which the Cronians are ridiculed for pursuing an impossible dream.

     Nevertheless the attitude persisted clandestinely until the Revolution erupted in France in 1789.  The Cronian day appeared to have come, they stepped out of the shadows.  The French figure of Liberty wears a Phrygian Cap perched jauntily on her head.  The Cronians have been very active since then around the world, not only in Europe.  In America, in the form of the Masonic Illuminati, they were perceived as a serious threat in the years around 1800.  The Civil War caps of the enlisted men are merely Phrygian Caps with the bell truncated and replaced by a flat surface to disguise their true nature.  Thus one may assume that the Revolution was active in the War Between The States.

     The Phrygian Cap played a role in the Revolution of 1917 in Russia.  the ideals continue in various Red groups in existence today.

     Their concept of absolute equality is as ridiculous today as it was in the early Stone Age.  It is inherent in the genetic makeup of the male of the species to wish to dominate his fellow man.  A man always feels he is entitled to a jot more than his fellows.  Thus the competition starts to make sure one is not surpassed.  Thus it has been, thus it is, thus it will always be.  The problem is always who will be the first among equals.

page 1690

     People will not be absolutely equal.  if we consider the two men in this car speeding across the desert floor, while they are of the same economic and political background one is superior to the other as Hyperion to a Satyr but the Satyr would never accept that decision.

     In ancient Greek art the Cronians are portrayed as roving wild men wandering the glens and glades of the mountains depicted as Satyrs and Centaurs.  They at that time and Duelin’ Dalton Dagger here were half man and half animal.  Not that they were physical hybrids but their minds hadn’t developed enough to separate them from their bestial habits.  They were animals with untrestrained bestial appetites and no mental self control.  In the sense of Apollo’s doctrine of Everything in Measure, Nothing In Excess, and Know Thyself they were outside the pale.  Like Midas they chose the inferiority of Marsyas’ efforts over the superior music of Apollo.  They were goat men with or without the ass ears of Midas.

     The Satyrs were not men in the original state like Dalton Dagger.  They had more or less advanced with civilization, something like the American Indians versus the Whites.  Their modern equivalents were good with guns, decent with cars, but only decent, and could swill an ocean of beer.  From the outside to a not very discriminating eye they looked like ordinary men and women.  But they had to be handled with discretion.  Yisraeli hadn’t known the difference.  Had it not been for the self-effacing discretion of Showbaby he would certainly have been severely beaten if not stomped to death.  Dalton would have escaped too; the lines of guilt were too clearly drawn for anyone to turn him in.

page 1691.

     It would also have taken a discriminating eye to have noticed the profound differences between Dalton and Trueman.  Dewey was everything that Dalton should have been.  But having been pushed down from childhood by people no better than Dalton but better dressed he was rising from the depths that concealed his true nature.  Dewey was deeply imprinted in his face and posture with the brutalization of his youth.

     Apart from the pimples which plagued him and repelled everybody there was a wild staring violence coupled with a doe like timidity to his countenance.

     If physiognomy is destiny Dewey should have spent a few hours before a mirror adjusting his outer appearance to his inner reality.

      It was that rising bubble syndrome.  Dewey was in a state of slow becoming.  If Dalton was the finished equivalent of a satyr Dewey was the developing equivalent of Themistocles, Pericles or ever Hyperion.  Dewey’s mind aspired to the stars.  Dalton’s was mired in his physical reality.  Dewey revered all the attainments the Dagger family despised.

     Disenfranchised, a lamb driven from the fold, a saint wandering in purgatory, an exile on Main Street, he nevertheless believed that by dint of application, hard work and honesty he could succeed not only in the material sense but attain an honored place in society.  In other words, he was drunk on hope.  His big disappointment would be to discover that society is not honorable.  The pillars of society were made of India rubber.  The really big men were merely Dalton Daggers in Brooks Brothers suits.

page 1692.

     The utopian philosophers of the nineteenth century who filled many long and weighty tomes of sentimental ruminations about the causes of crime being poverty and degradation would have been startled if they had seen the objects of their pity come into their own in the twentieth century.

     The causes they had ascribed to crime had all but disappeared but crime had grown exponentially.  In those far off days they imagined that the ‘working man’, they saw as a distinct economic species, unoppressed by the need to slave long hours for low wages would emerge from that cocoon like a butterfly to flit about the libraries and museums in ardent longing to be equal with the refined speculators of thought.

     In the prsent, fully able to indulge their ardent longing for refinement ‘working men’ long only for beer, popcorn, pornographic television and snow mobiles.  Football, basketball and sports in general is the ‘culture’ the ‘working man’ aspires to.

     Now that the ‘working man’ has time and money for museums and libraries they remain empty.  Their only visitors are the same small minority that always inhabited them.

page 1693

     Zola, Hugo and Sue wouldn’t have known what to make of our Duelin’ Dalton Daggers.  These redhots would have thrown their model into disarray.  All their maunderings would turn to ashes in their mouths.  All their compassion and pity for those innocents turned into criminals by a heartless society would be wasted.  All those innocents weren’t turned into criminals they were criminals posing as innocents.  Javert is the true hero of the nineteenth century not Jean Valjean.

     If Dalton had wanted to read ‘Les Miserables’ or ‘Germinal’ or been capable of it, he would have recognized his fellow savages and broken down laughing at the maudlin descriptions of them.  Hugo and Zola may have been well meaning fellows but their evaluation of mankind was hopelessly askew.

     They should have known that a criminal ethic existed.  They should have known that there were doctrinaire criminals just as there were doctrinaire liberals.  Dalton Dagger was not a criminal for any other reason than that he saw the role as the accurate view of life.  No other view made sense to him.  Only fools could hold another view in his opinion.

     The Good Father was wrong; there is such a thing as a bad boy.  There are badmen and badwomen, bad families, even bad societies.  They will never reconstruct themselves; it is a waste of time trying to reconstruct them.  Henry Ford ruined his empire by benevolently giving ex-prisoners jobs; allowing them into his work force.  They corrupted his workers turning Ford Motors nearly into a criminal organization.  Tolerating them corrupts society.

page 1694.

     There can only be political equality of the one man, one vote sort; there can be no absolute equality.  The Revolution chases a chimera.  The very nature of the masculine physical animal precludes such a possibility.  The Animus demands precedence; it demands that all others be subordinate to it.  The only thing that prevents its expression is the jealousy of other men.  No one has the power to enforce dominance over his fellows so each man is compelled to seek the cooperation of others to achieve his goals.  If not he will be defeated hand to hand or by the sabotage of the united group.

     The Revolution only despises rewards for personal initiative which makes them feel inferior.  As a defensive measure against inadequacy they seek to control the benefits of society and distribute the good things of this world on the basis of favoritism rather than initiative.  That is the only way they can succeed.  Equality for the Revolution is merely a Red Herring to delude the masses.  Remember the very term ‘masses’ is a Red invention.

     Dewey eyed this monster, this Dalton Dagger, for monster he was, trying to think of the best opening to penetrate his mind.

     Dalton helped him along:  ‘I’m Duelin’ Dalton Daggerze.’  He said out of the left side of his mouth facing full forward over the steering wheel while eyeing Dewey askance to the right.  He had a way of pronouncing, or rather mispronouncing his name so that he andded an extra ZE as in Daggers-za.

Page 1695.

     ‘How do you spell that?’  Dewey asked trying to organize the sounds in his mind.

      ‘Anyway I choose.’  Dagger said, evidently trying to establish physical intimidation.

     ‘Oh, to be sure.’  Dewey replied contemptuously matching the pea green shirt to the personality.  Dalton though a non-entity in Dewey’s mind became manageable.  ‘But, I mean, how did you spell it on your driver’s license?’

     ‘How do you know I got one?’  Dagger said stupidly, trying to evade a direct answer to a direct question which was common to his class.

    ‘Oh gee, I don’t know, will they sell a car to you without a driver’s license?’  Dewey replied nonchalantly, feigning picking something off the tip of his tongue then appearing to flick it into Dagger’s face.

     Trueman was a little too cool for Dagger.

     ‘I told the Marines to spell it DAGGER.’  Dalton said still evading a direct answer in order to preserve his imagined superiority.

     Dewey looked at his driver closely, eyed his haircut, there was that of the Marines about Dagger.  Within a few weeks it would have disappeared completely but it was still there.

     ‘You don’t pronounce that Dagger?’  Dewey asked not trying to conceal his contempt.

     ‘I pronounce it Daggerze or any goddamn way I want.  I’ll pronounce it Smith if it pleases me.’

     ‘Oh yeah, probably have to.’  Dewey sneered.  ‘So tell me Daggerzzze.’  Dewey said insultingly, loathing the ignorance of the man.  ‘You’re going home on leave to Bay City?  That’s it?’

     Dewey was jousting for intellectual preeminence to counter Dagger’s physical superiority which he keenly felt.

     ‘No!  That’s not it!’ Dagger said in exaggerated tones.

     ‘What is it?  You’re not patrolling the highway to help errant sailors.  Are you?’

     Dalton had expected to instill trembling fear into Dewey who was after all slight and unprepossessing.    He didn’t like the parody and disrespect with which Trueman spoke to him.

     ‘I got me a dishonorable discharge from the Marines.’  Dalton said with as much pride as though he had engineered Grand Coulee Dam.

     This was a completely unexpected reply.  Dewey was flabbergasted.  A DD was cause for shame and regret in his mind.  He thought Dalton was using bravado to cover his himiliation.

     ‘A Dishonorable Discharge?  They don’t just give those things out for no reason.  What did you do?’

     Getting a DD was not the easiest thing to do as Ponzi’s case showed.  For the Navy to give up on a guy was a very serious matter.  There were all kinds of discharges before you got to the bottom rung of Dishonorable.

     ‘I stomped the hell out of my Sergeant.  Damn near killed him.  When they asked if I had remorse I said hell no I wasn’t sorry.  If I had the chance I’d do it again and finish the job.’

page 1697.

     ‘You stomped him?  Why?’  Dewey now took Dalton seriously.  He realized that he was in a car with a certified psycho.  ‘Put me on, Dagger.  You have to be crazy as hell to punch a Petty Officer.’

     ‘I didn’t punch him.  I beat the hell out of him.  Stomped the son-of-a-bitch after I knocked him down.  Broke his nose and jaw for him and he probably sported black eyes for a month.’  Dagger grinned with fierce pride.  ‘I would have killed him but they pulled me off.’

     Dewey involuntarily shrunk within himself.  He wasn’t sure that Dalton was telling the exact truth but if he was Dewey realized that he was in a car with a dangerous maniac who was, in effect, holding him prisoner.

     ‘Wow!  They must have sent you directly to the brig.  No passing GO there.’

     ‘Damn right they did.’  Dalton replied once again with a savage pride.  ‘Just got out.  That’s why I’m on my way back.  My old man thinks I finally made the grade.’

     ‘You sound like it’s a good thing to go to the brig.  I always thought the brig was a pretty rough place.’

     ‘Damn right it is.  You gotta be tough.  You gotta be a real man.  You wouldn’t last a minute.  Real men go to the brig rather than put up with the chicken shit crap they shovel at you.’

     ‘Guess I’m not a real man by your standards.’  Dewey laughed.

     ‘No, you’re not.’  Dalton said complacently.  ‘Not many guys are.  Hell, the Marines advertise they’re looking for a few good men but when they get ’em…’ He said jamming his thumb into his shirt to indicate himself.  ‘…they don’t know what to do with ’em.  So I showed ’em.  I’ll take brig time and a DD any day than follow rules from some stupid Sergeant that I can stomp to shit.’

page 1698

     ‘Yes, indeed!  Hallelujah!’  Dewey thought.  ‘There is something authentic in this guy’s manner.  This guy is a total whacked out psycho.’

     ‘I guess you’re lucky he didn’t die.’  Dewey said lethargically so as not to arouse Duelin’ Dalton.

     ‘How’s that?’  Dalton asked maliciously.

     ‘Well, I mean you would have murdered him.  They would have put you away for life.’

     ‘There ain’t a prison in the world that can hold Duelin’ Dalton Daggerze if he wants out.  You ain’t never killed a man?’  Dalton asked suddenly remembering that Yisraeli had said that Dewey had killed his son.

     ‘Who me?  Hell no, Dagger, why would I want to kill anybody?’

     There was something authentic in Dewey’s tone that gave Dalton pause.  He intuitively believed the sailor casting a pall of irresolution over his determination.

     ‘I have.’

     ‘You have?  You killed some one Dagger?  When was that?’

     ‘Couple weeks ago.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Who and what for?’

page 1699

     ‘The brig guard.  He was a real asshole.  Always used to go around shocking me with this electric cattle prod.  Taught him though, didn’t I?’

     Dewey stared out the side window thoughtfully.  He remembered the story of the guy found in the surf in Tijuana.  He dimly remembered that something had been stuck up the guy’s rectum.  Dalton’s story could be true.  He reflected on how Kanary had talked him into hitchhiking.  He thought of a couple strange rides he’d gotten on his way to San Bernadino.  He thought of the guy who had picked him up in the desert as though he had been looking for him.  He remembered the very peculiar attitude of the stranger who had threatened him across Barstow; how Dalton had said ‘I know’ when Dewey said he was going to the Valley.  Dewey had seen the contretemps in the parking lot between Yisraeli and Dagger and now he thought he recognized Dagger as the aggressive one.  An aggressor who was now trying to keep Dewey prisoner in his car; kidnapping him in effect.

     Dewey couldn’t know about Yisraeli or about what was happening in the Field to threaten his well being.  He didn’t know that Dalton held a contract on his life.  All he could do was Respond to the Challenge he saw before him.  He thought he had better belittle Dalton a bit.

     ‘Yeah?  What did you do blindside him when he wasn’t looking?  Same as the Sergeant?’

     Dalton came unglued.  He seized the wheel convulsively looking menacingly at Dewey:  ‘Blind sided him?  Blind sided him?’  He shouted vehemently.  ‘Duelin’ Dalton Daggerze don’t never blind side nobody.  I stepped right out of ranks and popped that Sergeant.  I invited I.P. Rivers down to Tiajuana for a carouse after I got out to show him I had no hard feelings, drove him out in the flats and challenged that faggot to a fight and beat him fair and square.  I gave him a shock with the cattle prod where he wanted it most.  Blind sided him?’

page 1700.

     Dagger took his right hand off the wheel and shook his fist in Dewey’s face.  ‘You better take that back.’

     At the mention of the cattle prod Dewey clearly remembered the story of the sailor they found bumping up against the rocks in the surf with the cattle prod up his ass.  He couldn’t believe that the killer had picked him up but he felt the danger.

     ‘OK, OK, OK.  So if I’m wrong, I’m wrong but I’m not taking anything back.  So you’re a mean motor scooter.  Don’t pop a vein on me and run off the road.’

     ‘I’m a man not a coward,’  Duelin’ Dalton screamed.

     ‘No.  No.  Hell, no.  You’ve got to be a tough guy to kill somebody, Dagger.  No doubt about it.’  Dewey stared at Dalton in disbelief but showing no fear.  There was no longer any doubt in his mind that Dagger was telling the truth.  Now his mind dwelt on how Dagger had slammed down the lock.  His thoughts took a turn toward self-preservation.  In defiance of Dalton he flipped the post up.

     ‘You better not be thinking of getting out.’  Dalton shouted.

     ‘I seldom jump out or cars doing eighty miles an hour Dagger but if I want out you sure as hell aren’t going to stop me.  Give me land, lots of land:  Know what I mean?’  Dewey sneered.

page 1701

     They had been racing across the Mojave’s bleak sere landscape.  It was now late afternoon nearly forty-eight hours had passed and Dewey reflected that he hadn’t even yet cleared California.

      They now approached the Highway Patrol checkpoint at Needles.  At that time you had to be checked in and out of the Promised Land.  If you had fruits or vegetables coming in you had to surrender them to the HWP.  The notion was that California was light on bugs.  They didn’t want to let any new ones in.

     Going out they were checking for nuts, I pesume, and wanted to send them on their way.

     ‘Awright now, when we come to the this Highway Patrol station you better not try to get out and you better not try to signal to the cops.  I’m warning you.’  Dalton menaced.

     Dalton was projecting his designs on Dewey but Dewey was mystified by Dalton’s singular behavior.

     ‘Oh yeah.  I’m going to get out and start hitchhiking right in front of the cops.  I’ve got a ride but I’m going to get out and get arrested?  I’ll tell you what Dalton, just keep heading East at eighty per and I’m with you all the way.’

     Dewey was way behind time.  He wasn’t worried about Dalton because he knew beyond question that Dalton wouldn’t attack him awares.  Even though Dalton could have swept the desert with him he knew the man would not make a frontal assault.  Even though Dalton’s words gave the impression that he had designs on Dewey he had no idea Dalton was commissioned to kill him.

page 1702.

     Dalton gave the correct answers to the Highway Patrolman and they were excused form California.  They sped across the line into Arizona.  Dalton began to prepare Dewey for a demand for gas money.

     ‘Listen to the way this baby purrs.’

     ‘Yeah.  Sounds good, Dagger.  Real quiet.’

     ‘You don’t think this ’53 Olds came that way when I bought it do you?’

     ‘Don’t know.  Are you a mechanic?’

     ‘Damn right I am.  The best.  There ain’t nothing I can’t fix in a car.  Nothin’.’

     ‘Guess you take care of all the loose ends; nothin’ you don’t know?  You’re a magno expert no doubt.’

     ‘I am.  Oh sh…, look at that guage.’

     ‘Oh, you can read guages too?’

     ‘You bet, buddy.  This one tells me I’m going to have to stop for gas pretty quick.’

     ‘OK.  Go ahead, you’ve got my permission.’

     ‘I don’t gotta have your permission but I gotta have five for gas.  Give me five for your share.’

     ‘Give you five for my share of what?’

page 1703.

     ‘Five dollars for your share of gas, wise ass.’  Dalton said indignantly.

     ‘There’s something you probably failed to notice when you picked me up, Mastermind, I’m a hitchhiker.  I don’t have five dollars and I don’t share expenses.  If I wanted to pay I would be on a bus and I wouldn’t have to put up with you.  You had a chance to get rid of me back in Needles but you like my company so much you threatened me if I got out of the car.  If you’re tired of me I’ll get out at the gas station.  OK?’

     ‘You got to have money.  Two hundred dollars.  In know it; where is it?’

     Dewey was struck with Dalton’s reference to the two hundred dollars but he didn’t betray it.  The mystery of the last several hours just got deeper.

    ‘Two hundred dollars?  You think I would hitchhike with that much money with guys like you on the road?  Hell, I could fly if I had that much.  Sorry Dagger, no money, I’m broke.’

     ‘How are you going to eat?’

     ‘I’m not.  I thought I could get back in forty-eight hours so there wouldn’t have been any need to eat but it doesn’t look like I’m going to make it.  I’ll probably be half dead before I get back.’

     Dalton smiled, looked out the driver’s side and muttered half under his breath:  ‘You’re going to be all dead.’

     Dalton had been told that Dewey would have two hundred dollars and that it would be his.  He considered it already his.  In his mind Dewey had an obligation to him for the money.

page 1704.

     ‘Where you got it?  In your shoe?’  He said as he eased the Olds back on the highway.

     ‘Don’t got it anywhere.’

     Dalton looked at Dewey warily.  Maybe the guy wasn’t such a chump after all, he thought.  Dalton had all the arrogance of the criminal mind.  No matter how many times they lose they think they’re smarter than all other brains combined.

     Yisreali had told him Dewey would have the money.  Dalton never questioned how Yisraeli would know, which of course, Yisraeli actually didn’t.  He was only guessing.  Convinced that the money was there which, as it turns out it was, Dalton wanted to know where he had it.

     It is a peculiarity of thieves that they must see the object of their desires before they can actually go after it.  Thus if Dalton actually saw the money and where Dewey kept it his mind would have been at ease.  There would be no possibility he couldn’t find it when he wanted it.

      Dewey who was no man of the world and not in the least bit devious kept his money where any self-respecting man kept it, in his billfold on his hip.  But Dalton, who, while not a man of the world but very devious, imagined the money was sewn into the lining of Dewey’s coat, pinned in some inaccessible place or concealed in a money belt or a shoe.  For Dewey there was only one place his money could be; for Dalton dozens including a false bottom to Dewey’s duffel bag.  Dalton just didn’t know where to start looking.  Well, nobody said that just because thieving was dishonest it would be easy.

page 1705.

     As Dalton was devising phrasing less obvious than:  ‘Where’s the money?’ they arrived at a fork in the road.  As the inimitable Mr. Berra said:  ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’  The boys fully intended to do that but there was the question of which tine to follow.  The signs on the highway indicated that if they went left they would reach the town of Flagstaff; Phoenix lay at the end of the right tine.

     As Dalton was planning Dewey’s murder which ever way they went he thought generously to offer him the choice of roads.

     ‘Which way do you want to go?  Phoenix or Flagstaff?’

     As much as a turn to the left distressed Dewey he had seen enough desert in the Mojave so that the prospect of hundreds of miles more was not very appetizing.  The very name of Flagstaff had so much romantic appeal for him that there was really no contest.

     In his youth he had written a story centered around his imagined concept of the town.  Later he had read a great story in one of the Western pulps of a guy stuck in a cabin in Flagstaff during a snowstorm of such magnitude that it made Noah’s flood look like an April shower.

     This guy had the misfortune to have to go potty during this twenty or thirty footer.  No indoor plumbing obviously but the guy had been brought up well.  Rather than let fly out the back door into the snowbank where his impropriety would have melted with the Spring thaw he felt obligated to trek out to the outhouse which miraculously had somehow not been buried beneath the drifts.

page 1706.

     Here’s the tough part of the story.  Although he could see through the driving snow well enough to find his way to the outhouse he somehow couldn’t find his way back to the cabin.  Perhaps his mission had been more urgent on the out trip than on the return.

     Overcome by God only knows what exhaustion, altitude sickness, whatever, he falls to the ground where he turns into a solid block of ice instantaneously.  When the snow did melt that Spring they found the poor sod with his head only inches from the threshhold.  There had been a heavy moral to the story but Dewey lost it in the welter of details.

     You know how it is, some inconsequential stories live on vividly in the memory.  Dewey wanted to see a legendary snowstorm.  This was the middle of December so he imagined or hoped that one was raging at this very moment.  Without hesitation he said:  ‘Flagstaff.’  and thereby for reasons irrelevant to his situation made the decision as will become clear that saved his life.

     ‘Do you believe in fate?’  Dalton asked portentously.

     Just at that moment the voice of Tex Ritter burst from the radio.  Tex had a voice that commanded attention so conversation was suspended for a moment.

Tex sang:

If the ocean was whisky

And I was a duck,

I’d dive to the bottom

And never come up.

But the ocean ain’t whiskey

And I ain’t a duck.

So I’ll play Jack O’ Diamonds

And trust to my luck.

page 1707

     ‘That’s what I believe.’  Dewey said pointing at the radio.

     ‘You’re a drinker?’  Dalton asked thickly for whom the conditional was an incomprehensible mystery.

     ‘Aw, Dalton.  I think you’re missing the philosophy of the thing.’

     ‘What’s that?’  The Mastermind asked stupidly.

     Dewey could see the man was hopeless; he decided to shine him on a little.  ‘Old Philosopher.  Good Bourbon label, don’t you think?’

     ‘Uh, no, I drink Jack Daniels, Black.’  Dalton replied proudly.  ‘There ain’t nobody doesn’t think JD ain’t the best bourbon.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Well, Jack Daniels isn’t bourbon; it’s Tennessee Sour Mash sippin’ Whiskey.’

     ‘It’s bourbon.’

     ‘Doesn’t make that claim on the bottle.  Read it.’

     As they began the climb to Flagstaff night was coming on.  As they climbed and night fell it grew colder and colder.  Dalton turned on the heater.

     He continued to question Dewey about his money.  As the time came closer to the moment he had decided to act he became more proprietary toward his intended sacrifice.  Like many a murderer he thought his intended victim belonged to him.  He was foolish enough to let it show.

page 1708.

     Dewey had no notion that Dagger actually intended to murder him but it seemed clear that Dalton intended to rob him and leave him standing by the side of the road.  Dewey thought a show of force might be beneficial so he reached in his pocket to withdraw his pearl handled Japanese knife with the long thin blade.

     Dalton watched eagerly thinking Dewey was going to show him the money.  The pin on the blade was so worn that in one motion Dewey withdrew the knife and flipped it open like a switchblade.

     Dalton thought it was one.  He developed a pensive brow.  He didn’t like it but he saw it merely as an obstacle requiring greater caution.

     A sign on the highway pointed to Flagstaff.

     ‘Oh darn.’  Dewey said.  ‘I hoped we would go through Flagstaff.  I wanted to see it.  I guess it’s off the highway.’  Then he said something incomprehensible to Dalton.  ‘Shucks, there isn’t even any snow on the ground.’

     Dagger decided it was time to act.

     Now, if you believed Dalton back there in the Mojave when he said he fought the Sergeant and Rivers fair and square you were just as gullible as the rest.  Dalton was as fond of the bushwhack as any American male.  He had blindsided the Sergeant and bopped Rivers over the head from behind.  He didn’t intend to give Dewey a chance either.

     ‘Oh, I’m so tired.’  Dalton said stifling a false yawn.

page 1709.

     ‘What say we pull off on a side road and get some sleep.’

     So long as they were heading East at eighty per Dewey was content fo humor Dalton complacently so that Dalton thought Dewey was a very placid harmless sort of guy.  At his suggestion of stopping it was Dewey’s turn to fly into a rage.

     ‘Oh no you don’t.  Are you crazy, Dagger?  What the hell are you talking about, pull over?  I’m already fifty-eight hours on the road.’  He said bitterly thinking of Teal Kanary.  ‘I’m not going to stop.  You leave the road and you let me out here or, by god, you’ll learn the reason why.’

     Dalton was startled by the outburst, even intimidated.

     ‘I’m getting too tired to drive.’  He whined.

     ‘Then pull over and let me behind the wheel.  I’ll drive and you can get in the back to sleep.’

     ‘You don’t have a license.’

    ‘Since when does a guy like you worry about laws, eh, killer?  You don’t need a license to drive, old desperado, you only need a license to show a cop.  I haven’t seen a cop since the Needles.

     ‘I’m not going to let you drive my car.’

     ‘Then shut up, keep driving and turn on the heater, it’s cold in here.’  Dewey said flipping out his knife for emphasis.

     ‘The heater is on.’  Dalton whined who, they both realized, had been shivering in his short sleeve canned pea green shirt for some time.

     ‘Then why is it so cold?’  Dewey asked drawing his coat about him.

page 1710

     ‘I don’t know.’  The master mechanic wondered.

     ‘Oh, hey, wow, look at that.’  Dewey said noticing an elevation sign.  ‘We’re at seven thousand feet.  I didn’t know Flagstaff was up that high.’

     ‘Oh my god.’  Dalton gasped as he realized why there was no heat.

     ‘Oh my god, what?’  Dewey replied nonchalantly.

     ‘Oh Jesus.’ 

     ‘Oh my god, oh Jesus what?  Come on, if you’re cold get a jacket out of your trunk and let’s keep going.’

    ‘My car’s froze up.’

     ‘What do you mean your car’s froze up?  What does that mean?  How could that be?’

     ‘Damn you.  You wanted to come this way.  it’s all your fault.  If we’d gone by way of Phoenix this wouldn’t have happened.  At seven thousand feet it’s probably zero outside.’

     ‘So what?’

     ‘My radiator froze.  That’s why there’s no heat.’

     ‘How could that be Dagger?’   It’s not so cold that anti-freeze freezes.’

     ‘I don’t have any anti-freeze.’  Dalton said sheepishly.

     ‘Dewey was flabbergasted.  ‘No anti-freeze?  Why not?’

     ‘It wasn’t cold in LA.  I didn’t need it.’

     Dewey sat back.  He knew it was too good to be true.  What a miracle it had seemed to get a ride straight through.  He now saw himself back out on the highway.

page 1711.

     ‘Hey Dalton.’  He said with false warmth in his voice.  ‘Let me get this straight.  Number one, you’re a master mechanic who knows everything there is to know about a car.  Number two, you’re from Bay City, you grew up there, you know it’s colder than an ice cube at the North Pole and you tell me that because it’s warm in LA, even though you’re going to Bay City in December that you don’t put anti-freeze in your car?’

     ‘Oh man, I was trying to save money.’

     ‘Boy, you’re a lot more stupid than I thought.  So what’s going to happen?  Is the car going to stop running?’

     ‘No.  It’ll be OK until it warms up and melts, then the radiator and probably my block will burst and it will overheat.  Then we’ll stall.’

     ‘My advice  then is to turn North.  Keep it frozen and we’ll be alright.’  Dewey said facetiously and maliciously.

     ‘Don’t be facetious.’  Dalton said.

     ‘Oho, don’t be facetious.  The desperado, Duelin’ Dalton Dagger knows a polysyllabic big word.’

     Dalton, now that he realized there was no possibility of heat realized he was very cold.  He also didn’t want to murder Dewey in this circumstance.  He might be stuck out there alone.  Dewey’s desire to see Flagstaff had saved his life.  Thanks to a story in a pulp magazine read seven years before he was still alive.

     ‘God, I’m cold.  Let me have your coat to wear.’

     ‘Why would I do that?  Then I’d be cold-er.’

     ‘You’ve got that wool shirt.’  Dalton said referring to Dewey’s middie.

page 1712.

     ‘Well, Dagger, just stop and get a jacket out of the trunk.’

     ‘I don’t have a jacket in the trunk.  I don’t have anything in the trunk.  This shirt is all I’ve got.’

     ‘What?  You’re going to Michigan in the dead of winter and all you’ve got to wear is that short sleaved pea green shirt with the frill on the sleeve?  It’s even a terrible color.  I wouldn’t have mentioned it otherwise.’  Dewey said in disbelief.

     ‘Yes.  I thought the heater would keep me warm.’

     ‘Without anti-freeze?  OK.  Given your intelligence or lack thereof, I guess I can accept that.’

     ‘You going to let me wear your coat?’

     ‘Hell no, Dagger, you’ll have to freeze.’

     Dalton stared glumly ahead as he drove shiveringly through the night.  Fortunately the radiator freezing didn’t affect the radio so as they rolled down the mountain in the black starlit night the voice of Hank Snow warmed the atmosphere if not the temperature as he sang with seeming sardonic intent:

The Last Ride.

In the Dodge City yards of the Santa Fe

Stood a freight made up for the East.

And the Engineer with his oil and waste

Was grooming his great iron beast.

While ten cars back in the murky dusk

A boxcar door swung wide.

And a hobo lifted his pal aboard

To start on his last ride.

A lantern swung and the freight pulled out

The Engineer gathered speed.

The Engineer pulled his throttle out

And clucked to his fiery steed.

Tens cars back in the empty box

The hobo rolled a pill.

The flare of the match

Showed his partner’s face

Stark white and deathly still.

As the train wheels clicked 

Over the coupling joints,

A song for a Rambler’s ear,

The hobo talked to the still white form

His pal for many a year.

(Spoken)

For a mighty long time we rambled Jack

With the luck of men that roam,

With the back door stoop for a dining room

And a boxcar for a home.

We dodged the bulls on the Eastern route

And the cops on the Chesapeake.

We traveled the Leadville narrow gauge

In the days of Cripple Creek.

We drifted down through Sunny Cal

On the rails of the old SP,

Of all that you had through good and bad

a half always belonged to me.

You made me promise Jack,

That if I lived and you cashed in,

To take you back to the old churchyard

And bury you there with your kin.

You seemed to know I would keep my word,

For you said that I was white.

Well, I’m keepin’ my promise to you Jack,

‘Cause I’m takin’ you there tonight.

I didn’t have the money to send you there

So I’m takin’ you back on the fly.

It’s a decent way for a ‘bo to go

Home to the bye and bye.

I knew that fever had you Jack,

But that doctor just wouldn’t come.

He was too busy treatin’ the wealthy folks

To doctor a worn out bum.

(Sung)

As the train rode over the ribbons of steel

Straight to the East it sped.

The Engineer in his high capped seat

Kept his eyes on the rails ahead.

While ten cars back in the empty box

The lonely hobo sighed.

For the days of old

And his pal so cold

Who was taking his long Last Ride.

page 1715.

     Dewey had been listening with concentration so he didn’t hear Dalton when at the line ‘Takin’ you back to the old churchyard’ Dagger turned to the window to mutter ‘except you ain’t goin’ to see no churchyard.’

     ‘Boy, don’t you think that’s great.’  Dewey said in wonder.

     ‘What’s so great about it?’  Said the dull witted uncomprehending sluggard.

     ‘Well, I mean, there’s the romance of it.  All those fantastic references to the Leadville narrow gauge in the days of Cripple Creek…’

     ‘What’s a Leadville narrow gage doin’ in a Cripple Creek?’  Dalton asked suspiciously fearful Dewey might know something he didn’t.

     Dalton was on pretty safe ground because although Dewey knew what a narrow gauge railway was and he knew Leadville was in Colorado the rest was pretty well encompassed by romance.  It sounded sensational to him.  He ignored Dalton’s question.

     ‘…well, you know, what I mean is it’s the romance of the rails.  Besides Hank Snow can get more words into a three minute song than anyone I know.  The guy who wrote that song is easily as good as Robert Service or Thayer.  I mean, that’s just a nice verse story.’

     ‘Shut up.’  Dalton said unceremoniously.

     Little did Dewey know he was rolling down the great divide between the old America and the new.  The railroad song was already a thing of the past; next up were truckin’ songs about the great Interstates.

     And so the driver with the man in the passenger’s seat pierced the night with their bright head lights while they bid the coast goodbye without a sigh to head for the old Northwest.  They sped on down the mountainside to a destiny on the other side.

     The faint flimmer of pre-dawn light rose to reveal a desert covered with sage brush.  As the light increased the ribbon of highway called 66 was visible as a narrow line far below.  As rosy fingered dawn revealed the earth in all its glory far in the distance perhaps a hundred miles away, or maybe more, the city of Albuquerque was revealed against the opposing mountain range.

     ‘Must be in New Mexico.’  Dewey said in awe just to pronounce the sacred name of a State.

     ‘Must be.’  Dalton said between clenched shivering teeth although the temperature had risen significantly with the desert and the dawn.

     They rolled on down to rejoin Highway 66.

     Dalton had developed a cold throbbing hatred for Dewey over the last six frigid hours.  While Dalton was still throwing off the chills in his canned pea green short sleeved shirt with the frilly cuff Dewey had been comfortable  for hours in his rain coat.

     As Dalton warmed so did his engine.  The needle of his heat gauge rising inexorably toward the red.  Dalton lamented the impending loss of his car but worse still he deeply lamented his failure to put anti-freeze in the radiator which allowed Dewey to justly call him stupid.  He felt stupid.  He hated Dewey even more because he knew he was stupid.  But as with all people who are foiled in their hopes by an able opponent he felt grudging admiration for Trueman.  Dalton felt that it was a shame he had to die.

page 1717.

     Dalton glimmered that his best opportunity had passed up on the mountain.  He hoped his car might not be so damaged that it couldn’t be repaired for not too many dollars.  If that came about then, he thought, it would be a matter of who could stay awake the longest.

     As the sun levitated up the sky the bitter cold of night left Dalton’s limbs.  Dalton bitterly resented that Dewey hadn’t lent him his coat.  Dewey couldn’t believe that anyone going to Michigan in the winter wouldn’t have the foresight to provide himself with the proper gear.  Dewey substituted the word ‘foresight’ for ‘stupid’ and used it with enough emphasis to irritate Dalton.

     Dalton redoubled his efforts to discover where Dewey had concealed his cash.

     Entering Albuquerque he devised a ploy.  He needed gas but he knew Dewey wouldn’t give him money for that.  A little grocery store sat across the street from the gas station he selected.

     ‘I’m hungry.  While they’re gassing me up let’s go over to that grocery store to get something to eat.’

     ‘Go ahead.  Get something for me.’

     ‘OK.  Give me the money.’

page 1718.

     ‘I don’t have any money.  I just thought it would be a nice gesture if you bought something for me.  Kind of show your appreciation for my pleasant company, you know what I mean,  after all we’ve been through together and all that.  I’d think you were an OK guy.  That’s worth something isn’t it?’

     ‘Not that much and I’m not that OK.  Go hungry.’

     Dalton crossed to the grocery store.  As he did Dewey stepped to the side of the highway to put his thumb out.  Futile gesture as there was no morning traffic.

     Dalton emeged from the store to become enraged.  He saw his two hundred dollars trying to escape.

     ‘Hey Trueman, get your ass back in the car.’  Dalton shouted sternly to the astonishment of various loungers and attendants.

     ‘Listen Dagger, your car’s finished.  I’m catching another ride.

     ‘Oh no you’re not.’  Dalton said shifting his food to his left hand and doubling up his right threateningly.  ‘Get back in the car.’

     ‘Even you aren’t stupid enough to get in a fight in a strange town.  Or are you Dagger?  Cops’ll put you right back in the jug you stupid jarhead; only a psycho would answer an ad for a few good men.  That you got sent to the brig doesn’t mean that you’re a better man it means that you’re even more stupid and psycho than the rest.  Dig it!’

     Dalton was hurt.  Strangely instead of getting angry he broke out in a little pout thrusting his lower lip out and bringing his eyebrows down over his eyes.

page 1719.

     Seeing Dewey’s contempt it began to dawn on him that the hothouse atmosphere begun in Barstow the previous day had evaporated.  He didn’t want to admit that he had lost the opportunity but he realized that conditions had changed.

     ‘My car still runs good.  We’ll get there.  Come on.  Hop in.  It’s OK.’

     ‘Well, there’s water dripping out under there.  You’ll probably overheat and die on the highway.’

     ‘No, I won’t.  It’s OK.  Honest.  Come on.’

     Acting on the premise that a sure ride is better than a potential ride Dewey got back in the car.

     Surprisingly the damage to the car wasn’t that bad, which is to say, it was a slow leak rather than a rapid drain.  Dalton kept it at eighty per through Tucumcari and into the Panhandle of Texas.  As the day warmed up out on the Texas plains the car slowly pegged in the red.

     By the time they reached Amarillo Dalton had slowed to fifty for the last seventy miles or so.  Even then the engine wasn’t that hot; there was no blast of heat coming through the fire wall.  The car could be repaired very cheaply.

     As they passed through Amarillo Dalton became increasingly concerned.  Tired of and Dalton and his incessant clamoring to know where his money was Trueman informed the ex-Marine that if he couldn’t do eighty he was getting out.

     Thinking of Trueman only as an additional twenty-five hundred Dalton didn’t know which to lament more the loss of his car or Trueman’s price.

1720. 

     Just on the East side of Amarillo a combination auto repair and junkyard appeared on the North side of the road.

    ‘Better pull in there Dagger.  Once we’re out of Amarillo there won’t be any better places.’

     Incoherent with despair Dalton pulled in.

     The Olds was a very good looking car for a ’53.  The body was sound.  The engine was great.  Dalton had an excellent choice is a used car.  Actually the only think wrong with it was a couple seals had burst.  The mechanic’s eyes lit up as Dalton bounced steaming unto their lot.  They gave him two choices; overpay or leave the car.

     Like all men who work cars for a living they pretended that they didn’t know what was wrong with the car.  Could be next to nothing could be the engine.

     ‘It’s the radiator.’  Dalton said with assurance.  ‘I know all about cars; more than you guys do.  How much for a used one?’

     ‘Hmm.  ’53 Olds.  We don’t have a junker on the lot just now.  We’d have to check around for a rebuilt one.  Hmm.  Might take a couple days to find one.’

     ‘Couple days!;  Dewey cried, slapping Dalton on the shoulder of his pea green shirt.  ‘I’m in a hurry.  Thanks for the lift Dalton.  So long.’

     Dewey crossed the highway with a sense of relief to put his thumb out.

    ‘Hey…hey…you…can’t…come back.  You can’t do that.’

     Dewey was worth twenty-five hundred to Dalton while the war was only worth a couple hundred so he quickly opted for Trueman.

page 1721.

     ‘What are you doing, trying to get away?  You listen to me.’

     While Dewey had always suspected his danger he now realized the extent of that danger.

     ‘Trying to get away?  What the hell are you talking about Dagger?  Your car’s dead and I’m not waiting two days to fix it.  Screw you.’

     ‘Yeah?  Well, listen Trueman, we’re together.  From here on we’re hitchin’ together.’

     ‘What? Are you crazy Dagger?  Nobody’s going to give two guys a ride.  I’m not going to spend weeks out here just because your car broke down.  Didn’t even break down.  You’re so stupid you didn’t put anti-freeze in it because it was warm in L.A.’

     Dalton knew Dewey had a good argument; no one would pick both of them up.  He tried a last expedient.

     ‘Well, OK. Now listen, I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do.  You’ve got your uniform on so it’s going to be a lot easier for you to get a ride than me.  So, I’m going up ahead of you by a couple hundred feet and when anybody stops to pick you up if you don’t tell them to pick me up too when I get to the Valley I’m going to look you up and kill you.’

     Dewey did believe Duelin’ Dalton Dagger.  He was convinced that Dalton would try to kill him but he mistakenly believed Dalton would never be able to find him.  His mother had divorced and remarried so that even if Dalton knew his name he didn’t know his mother’s.  By that time Dewey thought Dagger was really psycho and might a way anyway.

page 1722.

     ‘Oh yeah, sure Dagger, no problem.’  Dewey promised as Duelin’ Dalton Dagger took up a position up road.  He stood there glaring menacingly at Trueman poised to run after him should the sailor try to run the other way.

     No sooner had they taken up position than a ’48 Hudson pulled over to pick Dewey up.

     Dewey wasn’t worried that Dalton would find him in the Valley but there was many a mile yet between him and his destination.  It was entirely possible Dewey surmised that Dalton might overtake him further up the road.

     This presented a danger for while Dewey had the foresight to realize the consequences of his actions Dalton didn’t.  Therefore, Dewey reasoned, if Dalton overtook him and Dewey wouldn’t cooperate the idiot was liable to start a fight and maybe get them both arrested.  He thought it expedient to attempt to appease Dalton.

     As he got in the back seat of the Hudson he was relieved to find most of the seat was already taken up by boxes of various description.  The two guys in front were so big there was no room for the ex-Marine.

     ‘Say, could you do me a favor and let the guy up there know there isn’t room for him?’

     ‘We’re not going to stop.’

     ‘I know.  Just shrug your shoulders and hold up your hands helplessly or something so he’ll know I tried.

page 1723.

     Killers On The Highway

     Dewey settled back in his seat and began to take note of himself.  He began to examine what now appeared to be a pile of junk beside him while the passenger reached his left hand over the seat clutched like he was picking up an old rag:  ‘I’m sorry we couldn’t pick up your friend but we’re moving and there’s only room for one.’

     ‘Thanks for stopping.  That guy wasn’t any friend of mine.  His car burnt out.  If you can believe it he’s going to Michingan and didn’t put anti-freeze in his car because it was warm in L.A.  Car froze up in Flagstaff last night.  Threatened to kill me if I didn’t ask you to stop.’

     ‘Kill you?  My, that’s violent.  Do you think he would have?’

     ‘I think he’d try.  Wouldn’t get very far with me though.  How far are you going?

page 1724.

     ‘We may take you as far as Tulsa.’

     ‘Oh great.’  Dewey said having no inkling of how many miles that was.

     ‘Yes.’  Said the man in the passenger seat whose name was Daryl.  ‘But.’  Daryl added significantly.  ‘We’re going to leave the highway here soon and take an alternate route.  We will drop you off here if you like or you can ride with us on the side road.’

     Dewey heaved a sigh at this sinister note.  His intuition told him to get out.  They had put him in the back seat which might have meant only that they thought three in the front seat of the huge Hudson might be crowded or it could be meant as a sign of disrespect.

     Daryl had shaken hands with his left which in common parlance meant ‘left hand to a nigger or inferior.’  Now they were to take a less traveled road giving him the option to extricate himself or by staying giving permission to do with him as they liked.  Dewey had hitched enough to read signs either on or off the highway.  There was danger with the homos before and danger behind him in the person of Dalton Dagger.

     If he got out of the car on 66 there was the real risk that Dalton might overtake him in a matter of minutes.

     ‘Christ.’  Dewey thought.  ‘Dagger would give up his ride just to get me.’

     Dalton had threatened to kill him while these guys hadn’t although as a pair of queens, big strong ones at that, anything was possible.

page 1725.

     ‘Well, you’re still going to Tulsa?  I mean, you know, the road…’

     ‘Oh yes, the road we’ll drive crosses 66 in Tulsa.’

     ‘Well, OK.  I’ll ride along with you.

     It will be noticed that Daryl didn’t ask Dewey how far he was going.  That was because he thought he knew how far Dewey was going and that was one hundred miles short of Tulsa.

     Highway 66 was a not very wide two laner before the Interstate and the new road was narrower and rougher than that.  As Darrel, the driver, eased the car North of the highway into this cowpath Dewey had misgivings.  He didn’t know it but by not getting out he had given the Darrels permission to kill him.  In their mind they had given Dewey his chance to live or die.  They were fair men.  Since he hadn’t gotten out he had consented to acquiesce in the homos’ plan.

     As it was Dewey was completely disoriented.  He had been up so long that, while the nervous tension of the journey prevented his being drowsy, his reactions were somewhat impaired.  In addition the novelty of his surroundings completely threw him.  He had lost a sense of time and place.  He knew it was daytime because the sun was shining but that was all.

     He was unaware that he had been given a princely lift but it was about four hundred miles from Amarillo to Tulsa which is not a ride to sniff at.  Dewey had a good map of the United States in his head.  He knew where Tulsa was in relation to Chicago and back to L.A. but he had no real notion of mileages.

page 1726.

     He hadn’t even looked at a map before he left San Diego so he had little idea of the physical realities of distances between cities.  He had known where California was and he knew where Michigan was so he just put his thumb out.  In a lot of ways Dewey was a boy wonder.

     Looking again at the pile of junk beside him he noticed that there were some things piled on top a large box that was covered with a black cloth.  He rapped the box with his knuckles; it seemed to be made of wood and empty.

    ‘Hmmm, the box is empty.’  He mused apprehensively to himself.  Why would anyone who was moving transport an empty box?’

     Recalling him from his reverie Daryl said:  ‘You’re real lucky to get a ride in Oklahoma.  You will have a real difficult time East of Tulsa.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  How’s that?’

     ‘Just a few days ago a family- mother, father, brother and sister- picked up a hitchhiker.  I guess they liked him because they took him home, fed him and everything.  What do you think he did?’

     ‘I don’t know.  Passed gas?’  Dewey snickered in a feeble attempt at humor.

     ‘No, silly.’  Daryl laughed slapping the air at him.  ‘He murdered the whole family and threw them down a well.’

page 1727.

     ‘Oh wow!’  Dewey said disbelievingly.  ‘Did they catch him?’ 

     ‘I don’t think they have yet.  He’s still a killer on the loose.’  Daryl said rolling the phrase on his tongue as though to make its flavor last.

     ‘Likely story.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘Just my luck to be passing through at this time.’

     ‘Well, I’m not going to kill anyone kind enough to give me a ride.’  Dewey said thinking to reassure them in case they were worried.

     ‘No.  I should think not.’  Daryl continued.  ‘But it isn’t only people that pick up hitchhikers that get killed.  Lots of hitchhikers get killed too.’  Daryl turned a flabby cheek toward Dewey over the back of the seat and looked at him signficantly.

     There was that hint of violence again.  All the details were pointing to something sinister.

     ‘Gosh, what is this?’  thought Dewey.  ‘Why is my life constantly hopping out of the frying pan into the fire?’

     He began to study the two Ds more attentively.

     He was in a precarious situation at the same time more or less dangerous than his situation with Dalton Dagger.  In point of fact the Darrels cruised this stretch of highway from Amarillo to Tulsa picking up hitchhikers who were subsequently never heard from again.

     They had explained the pile of junk beside Dewey as belongings they were transferring to a new address.  Thinking they were pitiful small belongings for two such large men Dewey had said noting but he was still wondering why they were transporting an empty box.

page 1728.

     Dewey had been right in his surmise that they were two old queens.  The men were deeply psychically injured.  As Homosexuals it was almost a miracle they had found each other because both had been injured in exactly the same way at exactly the same age and both had reacted in exactly the same way even to physical type.  They were like Tweedledee and Tweedledum except their names were spelled Daryl and Darrel.

     Both were large men; six foot three, husky running to fat and very strong.  They had huge arms; they could bend an iron bar.  Their prissy manner contrasted with their apprearances.  Their affectation of the feminine was grotesque in their persons.  They might have passed as twins but they had only gone to the same school in different places.

     Both had been sexually abused by their fathers while still in their cribs.  They had been only sixteen months old.  There was no possibility that they had a conscious memory of it but they had subconsciously processed the information and as they grew their subconsciouses had directed them in the same way.

     They keenly felt their violations as a breach of trust.  Thus they had cruised the highway of a weekend for the last two years looking for hitchhikers who would be grateful and trusting.

     When they found the right person they would activate the central childhood fixation of their violation.  Both men possessed two distinct minds.  A very powerful subconscious and a feeble conscious mind.  When they murdered the subconscious mind was in control.  Unlike Richard Speck who was aware but unconcerned at what he was doing the Darrels had no conscious memory of their crimes.  You could have questioned them to doomsday on a conscious level and they would truthfully have denied any knowledge of the murders.

page 1729.

     But, if you had known the symbols n which their subconscious minds dealt with their activities there is no chance that they wouldn’t have told you all in symbolical language.  After all, subconsciously they did not know they were doing wrong.  They were only doing symbolically to others what had been done to them.  For if they had had their trust betrayed in an identical manner and no one had been punished for wrongdoing why should they?  And there is a symbolic death and even an actual psychological death or murder in the violation of one male by another.  After one’s symbolic murder the whole of one’s life becomes an extended effort to ressurect oneself at the expense of others.  Not only others but preferably innocent others just as one’s self had been innocent.

      The most brilliant literary evocation of the homosexual dilemma is in the final scene  of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

     In that scene which takes place on the great wide bosom of the ocean, or feminine symbol of the unconscious Capt. Ahab has confronted the great white whale of homosexuality and lost.  Now, Moby Dick is a story of a man’s or, several different men’s, struggle with their homosexuality which takes place on many levels.  Ahab himself has lost a leg, a substitute for his penis, to the great white penis, Moby Dick, which is a symbol of the cause of his homosexuality.

page 1730.

Next

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Vol. VII, Part 8

The Heart Of The Matter

by

R.E. Prindle

   

     The formerly complacent mien of the First Class Bos’n’s Mate took on a troubled air.  He walked around the ship with knitted brow.

     And then he caved in to his desires.  If he would never bunk in the Chief’s quarters he could at least create a Petty Officer’s section in First.  The other Petty Officers were enthusiastic for the idea so they decided to requisition the port tiers of bunks for themselves.

     Pardon called Trueman out of muster: ‘You come along too, Frenchey.’

     Both men stepped out of ranks to follow Pardon.  Trueman was somewhat surprised because he was usually told where to go over the side and dismissed.

     Pardon had dissimulated his longings for far too long.  In his own mind he had always considered Trueman as his man just as Dieter had his favorites.  He now meant to set up his own little establishment with Trueman as his man.  He was going to train Trueman in the fine art of overseeing.

     In all his previous work parties Trueman had insisted on equality.  No one had ever overseen him nor had he overseen anybody.  The work load was shared.  He had accepted criticism only from the Petty Officers and that of Castrato only resentfully.

     Dieter had trained several of his favorites in the art of overseeing.  The overseer has the job of supervising the work making sure paint lines are staight and paint is scaled and applied accurately.  He does not participate but stands around observing.  An observer is necessary but the act was not part of Trueman’s psychology.

page 1631.

     ‘OK, you two follow me below into the Deck compartment.’

     Dewey stepped in behind Pardon.  Frenchey made no effort to move.  Always of a sullen mood the attempt on his and Trueman’s lives on the smokestack had made him even more reluctant to participate in shipboard life.

     Dewey went back and took Frenchey by the arm to lead him below.

     ‘Zees ees no going to be, oh, how you say eet in Eenglish, hard, ees eet, Dewey?’

     By that Frenchey meant was this going to be another attempt on his life.  Trueman didn’t comprehend the meaning.

     ‘This is the deck force, Frenchey, no rocket scientists allowed.  Nothing can be too hard.  For Chrissakes this is the Navy; they break everything down so everything can be done by the lowest intelligence.  Everything in the Navy is, Frenchey.  Then they print manuals that explain everything so that even if you didn’t have anyone to tell you what to do you wouldn’t have to make decisions, difficult or easy.  Come on La Frenniere loosen up, we just have to get along in this asshole environment for a few more months.  We’re both under a year.

 

     ‘Mon nom est Frenchey, Meeshur.’

     Trueman was growing weary of that game too.

     ‘So it is, Frenchey, so it is.  My apologies.’

page 1632.

      ‘OK, Trueman, this job is important, take as long as you need to get it right.  Can you do it?’

     ‘Oh, come on, Pardon, of course I can do it right.  But…’  He stepped closer and whispered in Pardon’s ear.  ‘…why don’t you take Frenchey and give him something else:  Come on, don’t make this harder for me than it has to be.’

     Pardon igorned Trueman.  “OK, Trueman, you’re in charge of the work detail.  Frenchey you take orders from Trueman, OK?’

     ‘Oui, Meeshur.’

     ‘Uh, Pardon, I usually work with someone as a team.  No one’s in charge.’

     ‘Things have changed.  You’re in charge on this job.  I want you to oversee.’

     Trueman groaned inwardly but for once was wise enough not to argue.

     They were standing in the new Petty Officer’s quarters on the port side.  The Seamen had been relocated to make room for the Petty Officers.

     ‘This is a pretty simple task and I’m counting on you to do it right Trueman.  I got the best man for the job.’  Pardon’s humor was unintentional but Trueman smiled anyway.

     ‘Oh yeah.  Thanks, Pardon.’

     ‘You see these footlockers?  I want you to paint numbers on them one throught twenty-six.’

     ‘What for?  You guys can’t find your footlockers without numbers?  Nobody else has numbers.  You see, there’s three of these under each tier of bunks.  Top bunk get this one on the left, middle-middle, lower, right.  No disrespect intended to a man of your seniority Pardon but that’s how it’s been done.’

page 1633

     ‘I see you’ve grasped the general principle brilliantly as usual Trueman but I want them numbered, OK?  You’ve got the principle down now work on following orders.’

     ‘A good sailor can geet keeled following zee orders, Meeshur.’  Frenchey put in sullenly.

     Pardon ignored Frenchey while Trueman rolled his eyes.

     ‘Well OK, you want numbers you get numbers.  Who’s got the supplies?’

     ‘Everything is ready for your use, Trueman.  Number stencils.’  Pardon said placing his finger on them.  ‘Paint.’  He held up two little cans of cream colored paint.  ‘And brushes.  Now, Trueman explain how you’re going to do this so I know you understand.,’

     This detail may sound ridiculous but in the Navy one assumes nothing and even then you’ll be wrong.  If there is a way to mess it up, and there always is, it will be messed up.

     ‘Well.’  Said Trueman.  ‘First tell me where number one goes and where I’m supposed to end up.’

     ‘Nice eye for detail.  Alright.  This is number one.’  Pardon said placing his hand on a locker.  ‘And you end up opposite.  Down this side and up the other.’

     ‘OK.  Up this row to the hatch we cross over and come back here.’

     ‘Right.’

     ‘OK.  So these locker lids are each twenty-six inches wide.  So I put the single digit numbers exactly in the middle so the numbers are centered right?  Double digits one number on each side of center.  You don’t want them on the left or right corners?’

page 1634.

     ‘Excellent, Trueman, excellent.’

     ‘Uh huh.  So far I’m doing all your work for you, Pardon.  You’re supposed to be giving me the instructions.  And how far back from the edge do you want this?’

     ‘One inch.’

     ‘OK.  If I have any questions I’ll call you Pardon.’

     ‘I know i’ve put the job in the right hands.  Fall to, Trueman.’

     ‘Right, Pardon.’

     As Pardon walked away Frenchey said sullenly.  ‘I do not like thees, Meeshur Dewey.’

     ‘What do you mean?’

     ‘I do not see why these Monsewer Petty Officers have to have a separate location.’

     ‘I know what you mean, Frenchey.  I don’t like it either.  It seems like they’re really trying to create a class structure.  The idea of Third Classes lording it over Seamen really makes me angry.  Everyone has always been equal while this arrangement makes them think they’re superior to us but we’ve put in our objections now there’s nothing we can do about it.’

     ‘Oui, Meeshur.’  Frenchey said with profound seriousness.  ‘But I am Sailor.  I am not servant.  Cleaning ze toilays ees for others.  Eef they wan’ to have numbers on their lockers then that ees their personal preference.  No one else having ze numbers.  They can do eet themselves.  I do not clean zee toilays and I do not paint zee numbers.  We do not have to do thees personal service.’

page 1636.

     ‘I understand your point, but I don’t know how we’re going to get out of it, Frenchey.’

     ‘I weel appeal to zee Capitaine.’

     ‘I’m not sure he would listen to you on this one, Frenchey.  I agree it’s a personal service but I’m not sure that would matter to anyone else.’

     ‘Eet ees clearly so.’

     ‘To us, Frenchey, but I don’t think it’s so clear cut that the rules wouldn’t be interpreted against us.  You know they want to hang us and you know they won’t stop at murder.  Right or wrong I think they would nail us hard if we refused.’

     ‘Well, we don’ hav’ to do eet well.’

     ‘C’mon man, I always do my work right.’  Trueman said eyeing Frenchey with apprehension.  Deep resentment flowed from Frenchey’s eyes.  His justified sense of injury and wrong was dangerously near the surface.  Trueman decided to be cautious.

     ‘Here, you mix up this can of paint, Frenchey, I’ll be right back.’

     Trueman went off to find a pencil.  When he returned Frenchey was still standing with the paint can in his hand.

     ‘You go ahead and mix that up.’  Trueman said as he walked over to locker number one.  Frenchey sullenly popped the lid, stirring the paint slowly.  Trueman carefully numbered each locker in pencil.  Then he checked each one counting off the numbers.  He wanted no mistakes.

page 1636

     Frenchey had stirred the paint and set the can down.  He was going to insist on being told each move.  Trueman heaved a sigh as he realized that Frenchey was going to sabotage the job even if his best friend was sabotaged along with it.

     ‘OK, Frenchey, now measure the locker and put his number one exactly in the middle.  See.  I put each number in pencil so you can’t make a mistake.’

     ‘Thees is too deeficult for a mere Deck Ape, Meeshur Dewey.’

     ‘Uh, why don’t you go find Pardon and tell him the job is too complicated for you.  Maybe he’ll relieve you.’

     Frenchey went in search of Pardon.  An hour or so later he was back fuming and muttering to himself.

     ‘Well?’

    ‘He say I am to shut up and do as I am told.’

      Trueman looked at Frenchey closely.   The man was walking the edge.  His sense of the injustice of his treatment aboard ship was reaching the breaking point.  Trueman had no idea what to do.  He just said:  ‘Here Frenchey, I’ll show you how.’

     Frenchey knew very well how.  He could have done the job standing on his head but he wasn’t going to do it.

     Dewey demonstrated the method to Frenchey who stood with clenched lips quivering with rage.  The job was too much like a personal insult for his sensibilities.  He thought that if Petty Officers wanted numbers they could paint them themselves.  He was a sailor not a servant.  He had his point.  He remembered only too well having had to clean the head.  Perhaps Castrato and Ratman had prevailed on Pardon to have Trueman and Frenchey do personal service.

page 1637.

     Trueman sympathized fully with Frenchey but he could also sense a trap.  Just as on the smokestack he knew how to deal with it.

     Having explained the task to Frenchey Trueman stepped back to oversee in the prescribed manner.  While Trueman worked fast impatient of obstruction or delay just wanting to get the job done Frenchey was a master obstructionist.  He was quite prepared to take so much time as to make this job the last he would ever do in the Navy.

     He looked up at Trueman watching him:  ‘You are a Seaman just like me, Meeshur, Dewey.’

     For Trueman this was an irrefutable argument.  He certainly would not have stood still for Frenchey’s overseeing himself.  Perhaps this was the trap.  Neither he nor Frenchey knew how desperately Blaise Pardon yearned for the dignity of the Chief’s quarters.  Trueman had no notion that Pardon considered him his fair haired boy nor did Frenchey realize that he and Trueman were considered a pair.  Pardon from his point of view had every reason to believe Frenchey would cooperate with Trueman.

     Trueman got Frenchey’s point.  If he oversaw the job would never get done.  If he chipped in and checked Frenchey’s work the job might get done but he couldn’t work and supervise Frenchey’s work at the same time.  His anxiety to get the job done won out.

     ‘OK, Frenchey, I’ll take one through six and the opposite side.  You take from the break and that opposite side but you can’t dally.  I want to get this job done.’

page 1638.

     ‘What you say ees fine, Meeshur.’

     Dewey and Frenchey went to work.  Dewey wanted to please Blaise so he gave his best effort carefully centering the numbers one inch from the edge.  He gave a quick check on Frenchey from time to time who seemed to have the job right although intentionally a little sloppier.

     The morning had been wasted while only half the afternoon was used effectively.  The job was less than half done at knocking off time.

     That the job was one that would allow the Petty Officers to lord it over the two Seamen became apparent after dinner.  Frenchey bunked closer to the Petty Officers so he was first insulted.

     Bent Cygnette, who was only a Third Class called Frenchey over.

     ‘Hey, Frenchey, goddamn it, look at this.  This is pretty sloppy work.’

     Frenchey who was ready for them refused to budge.

     ‘I am not ze one to talk to, Meeshur.  I am only humble servant.  Messhur Dewey he ees zee overseer.  Talk to heem.’

     Cygnette called out to Trueman.  Trueman feared Cygnette but was alerted by the appeal to Frenchey.  He was not going to let a miserable Third Class anything attempt to boss him especially on off hours.

     ‘What do you want, Cygnette.’  He called over from the starboard side.

page 1639

     ‘Get your ass over here and look at this Trueman.’

     ‘Get your ass over here and explain yourself, Cygnette.’

     Cries of ‘ooh, hoo hoo’ rose from several throats.

     ‘Trueman’s asking for it now.’  The seamen got up ready for a confrontation.  But as tough as he acted Cygnette was never ready for a direct confrontation.  He always found a way out while seeming to be tough.

     “If you’re looking for trouble Trueman I’m your man but this isn’t the time or place.  Get over here and look at this workmanship.’

     ‘I don’t take orders from Gunner’s Mates during hours, Cygnette, and I sure as hell don’t take orders from one after hours.  If you’ve got a complaint take it up with Pardon who’s standing right next to you there.  He’s your man, I’m not.’

     ‘You’re a damn mouthy sailor, Trueman.’

     Trueman really didn’t want to push it given Cygnette’s reputation as a brawler but he had to speak back.

     ‘If you’ve got a problem with anybody in deck, Cygnette, take it up with Pardon.  I’m sure he’ll be able to help you.’

     ‘Fuck!’  Cygnette expleted noncommitally.

     ‘I told you thees ees to humiliate us Meeshur Dewey.’  Frenchey said the next morning as they were back on the job.

     ‘It’s not like I disagree with you Frenchey but there isn’t anything we can do about it.  Let’s just finish the job and get it over with.’

     Frenchey made no more demurs and they did finish the job.  The numbering looked good.  Dewey had returned the tools to the paint locker when Frenchey came up behind him.

page 1640

     ‘There ees a problem, Meeshur Dewey.’  The master saboteur said defiantly.

     ‘What kind of problem, Frenchey?’

     ‘I have make zee mistake.  I have paint zee same number two of zee times.’

     ‘Frenchey, how could you do that?  I numbered the lockers in pencil to prevent that.’

     ‘I do not know how eet happens, Meeshur, but I know eet ees so.’

     After the first day Trueman had approached Pardon to be relieved of Frenchey.  He had explained that he could do it better and faster without him.  Pardon had been adamant that Frenchey stay on the job.

     Trueman assumed that Frenchey had used the same number on either side of the passageway.  Now the prospect of stripping half the numbers to repaint them was too much for Dewey.  He had no idea of the vindictiveness of the Arizona sailor.  Trueman made one of the stupidest mistakes of his life.

     ‘Aw, just forget it Frenchey, those guys are so dumb they’ll never catch on.’

     The anger seething in Frenchey’s soul drove him on.  He managed to be in the area when Castrato spotted the error.  Technically Frenchey was not responsible as Trueman had been appointed overseer but as Frenchey had rejected an overseer he was actually responsible but so what.

page 1641.

     ‘Here, look at this, two of the same number.  What gives?’

     ‘I am only ze ‘umble deck hand, Meeshur, I am following zee orders.’

     ‘You were ordered to use the same number twice?’

     ‘Messhur Dewey, my overseer, say Petty Officers too dumb to notice.’

    Heads snapped around.  Pardon stalked over to Frenchey.

     ‘Trueman said we’re too dumb to notice that?’

     ‘Oui, oui Meeshur.’

     Pardon walked stiff legged across the compartment in high dudgeon.

      ‘Trueman.’  He began with as much emotion as he had ever been know to exhibit.  ‘You’ve got two of the same numbers over here.  Come over here and look.’

     Trueman, believing the identical numbers were on opposite sides of the aisle was prepared with a humorous patter but he was surprised the Petty Officers, who he sincerely believed were too dumb to notice, had noticed so quickly, walked over to take a look intending to be amazed.  When he was shown the lockers nine and ten side by side both with nine stenciled on them but clearly marked nine and ten in pencil he was dumbfounded.

    ‘And you thought we would be too dumb to notice that?’

    Dewey looked at the double dyed perfidious Frenchey standing smugly with his arms folded across his chest.  He ceased at that moment to exist for Trueman.

     ‘Hey, Pardon, I didn’t realize they were next to each other, I thought they were on opposite sides of the passageway.

page 1642.

     ‘Oh, so you didn’t think we were too dumb to notice them side by side but we’re still dumb enough not to notice them across the aisle?’

     That was what Trueman believed but he couldn’t say it.  Why, he thought, hadn’t he checked Frenchey’s work out first.

     Trueman was hurt.  Deep down hurt.  Not only had be been betrayed by Frenchey but he had earned the disrespect of the only man aboard that he had respect for and that because he had assumed that he knew what Frenchey had done.  The loss of Pardon’s respect was more than he wanted to lose; given his own personality there was no chance now that he had been criticized by Pardon that any raprochement could take place so he threw the relationship to the winds.

     ‘What the hell did you expect, Pardon?  I told you to give La Frenniere another job.  I told you he wouldn’t work.  He couldn’t accept an overseer and I don’t blame him.  I couldn’t accept him or any other asshole deckhand.  He simply would not move a finger unless I worked too.

     Look at that penciled number, Pardon.  There is no possible way that he made a mistake.  He hates you; he did it on purpose.  Furthermore he hates you with a good reason.  Numbering these lockers isn’t Deck work.  If you guys wanted numbers it was your responsibility to number them yourselves.  We aren’t your personal servants.

     Plus you tried to kill him by sending him up on the stack.  Why wouldn’t he hate you?  You could have stopped that Pardon, you could have intervened but you didn’t.  You’re just as guilty of attempted murder as Dieter and that asshole Castrato.’  Trueman perorated pointing a finger at the Second Class.

     Having finished he slunk out of the area chagrined at this ruptured relationship with Pardon but subconsciously seething in anger at the First Class because he had permitted the attempt on both La Frenneire’s and his own life.

     ‘Zat was very well said, Meeshur.’  La Frenniere said following Dewey.

    ‘Oh shut up La Frenniere, shut up.  You asshole.  I don’t care how much you hate someone else, I don’t care how justified it is but you never fuck yourself.  Get that stupid, you never fuck yourself.  And also you never fuck your friends.  You’re so stupid, La Frenniere, that you did both.  Now get away from me and don’t ever speak to me again.’

     ‘But, Meeshur…’

     ‘And cut that phony French crap, La Frenniere.  You’re not French; you’re from Arizona.’

     La Frenniere had hurt Dewey.  He had breached Dewey’s defenses against the indignities of having to associate with men he considered beneath him to whom he would now be open to justified ridicule.  Doing his job right had always justified Dewey in his mind against his slovenly deck mates.

     Now he took his vengeance out on La Frenniere.  The little spell La Frenniere had thrown over the ship to make them call him Frenchey had been dispelled.  He had been identified once again as Dennis La Frenniere.   He now stood naked before his shipmates just as he had denuded Trueman.  No one ever called him Frenchey again.  He had to deal with the indignities he felt in his own identity.

     His pain at having to face Navy life without his screen as Frenchey was more than he could bear.  His personality began to unravel before everyone’s eyes.  He took to standing and weeping quietly.  It was not his intention to go on a hunger strike but he stopped eating just the same.

     He was transferred while Dewey was on leave.  Discharged it would take several years before he would be able to function again.  You know it ain’t easy; some have to fall by the wayside.

     Trueman recovered as best he could but as he had managed to insult everyone in First in his defensive tirade he noticed a definite pressure drop.

Tory Torbrick Redux

     Finding a circle is never easy.  Cast aside by Trueman Torbrick who was no hail fellow well met was either unwanted by the other sailors or rejected them.  The Navy was a tough life.  Just as at sea there was water everywhere but none of it was fit to drink so in close proximity to a couple hundred men there were very few with whom one wished to associate.

     Guilt bound Torbrick to Trueman so even though Trueman wouldn’t speak to him he ingratiated himself with Roque Da Costa, McLean and Whatley.  Soon he was making the trip North with them.  Trueman was forced once again to associate with him.

     Still convinced that Trueman was insane he continued to behave in a deprecating manner toward him as though he were a technician handling dangerous materials which Trueman found distasteful.  Having succeeded in forcing himself on Trueman Torbrick then wanted Trueman to ride in his car rather than theirs.

page 1645.

     Dewey had had problems with McLean.  Joe in his hatred of Trueman, which is to say himself, always gave preference to Da Costa  and Whatley and even Torbrick.  After the accident the convertible top had been sprung letting in copious amounts of air which at high speed at night even in Southern California was brisk enough to be uncomfortable.

     The cold air overwhelmed the capacity of the heater.  The only way to stay warm was to crouch down on the floor in front of the heater.  McLean always gave the front seat to Da Costa or Whatley having Trueman ride in the back.  Now that was chill.  In an effort to keep warm Trueman to McLean’s delight had to lean over the front seat to catch warm air from the heater.

     In the blindness of his friendship Trueman was incapable of seeing McLean laughing in delight at his discomfort.

     As much as he hated to favor Torbrick the prospect of another November drive in the very nearly open car of McLean of which the top was shredding was too much for Trueman.  He took the ride.

     As a special reward for some reason the Navy gave the men a Friday off.  Thus Trueman and Torbrick set off at five AM for the trip North to take full advantage of the long weekend.

     In order to get someone in trouble, to get them to show their ‘true character’ it is necessary to place them in harm’s way.  If Trueman having been lured to Tijuana and its whorehouses, had been led into a fight, he would undoubtedly have been taken by the gendarmes to the legendary Tijuana jail.  Thus his ‘true character’ would have been revealed.

page 1646.

     For the rest of his life he would have had to lie when asked if he had ever been arrested or in jail or defame himself by admitting it no matter in how comical or deprecatory a manner.  The key to defaming a person is to create a criminal record for him.

     Thus, even though Trueman didn’t have a driver’s license Torbrick insisted that he drive.  This even though Trueman freely admitted that the only time he had ever driven a car was the few miles in San Juan Capistrano when he had been hitchhiking.

     Driving without a license is a relatively serious violation of the Motor Vehicle Code.  Especially so if your driving could be interpreted as dangerous or reckless.  If Trueman had considered he would have refused to drive but he was eager to drive so he took the opportunity.

     Torbrick had a ’56 Ford.  Hard to tell where his old man got the money for that.  It was a good driving car.  Without being expert Trueman quickly got the knack.  By the time they passed the towers of Disneyland he was negotiating the five lanes if not with the relaxed aplomb of the Marine, Bill Baird, at least adequately.

     Torbric during the whole journey sat with his back to the door staring at Trueman as though he were some artefact on display at a museum.  He had the habit of talking to Trueman as though he were a psychiatrist examining a real psychological oddity which transcended normal experience by too far and a half.  Trueman found this exasperating and offensive.

page 1647.

     By the time they got through the Stack the smog in LA was biting.  LA was perhaps the first city in America to have a real smog problem.  They were to have smog alerts in which they were warned to not breathe deeply.

     As an interesting aside the hippy cartoonist of the LA Free Press, Ron Cobb, always used to ridicule the LA airport by having all his characters standing around in gas masks.  Gasmasks certainly would have been useful at certain times.  The restaurant outside the terminal took revenge on him by inventing the Cobb salad.  Actually a very tasty salad the ingredients were chopped up into small particles and blended together as they wished they could do to Ron Cobb.  It’s really quite funny if you dwell on it a while.

     The smog was intense and biting on that day although not hazy but clear.  The sun sliced brightly through the air but the acid really smarted causing the eyes to tear.  In an effort to avoid blinking Trueman narrowed his eyes into little slits that reduced the area of exposed eyeball.  To Torbrick leaning against the door looking at him it looked as though Trueman was driving with his eyes shut.

     ‘Open your eyes, Dewey.  You can’t see the road with your eyes closed.’

     ‘My eyes are open, Torbrick and I can see the road.  If I open them wide it hurts so much I can’t see the road.’

page 1648.

     ‘N-n-no.  You’ve got your eyes closed.  I can see it.  Open them please.’  Torbrick thought there was no insanity that was beyond Trueman.  As unreasonable as it was to suppose that Trueman was driving the Hollywood Freeway with his eyes closed Torbrick persisted in his belief.

     ‘Look Torbrick, if you’d rather drive I’ll stop the car right here and you can take over.’

     ‘Oh god, Dewey, you can’t just stop, there’s no place to pull over.’

     ‘I can stop and I will if you don’t shut up and leave me alone.’  Dewey said in exaperation but not conviction.  The threat was enough to silence Torbric who thought Trueman was crazy enough to do it.

     Although Trueman enjoyed driving, the trip was the most exasperating and boring that he would ever take.  Torbrick was the most commonplace of minds.

     They got into Oakland early Friday afternoon.  School was not yet out so Trueman dumped Torbrick to go up to Castlemont High to suprise Louise and walk her home.

     Castlemont only two years before had had only a few Black students but the Blacks continually arriving from the South had pushed deep into the forty and fifty blocks and were rapidly appropriating the sixties so that in a scant two years Castlemont had become half Black.  You want to talk about stresses.

     A lot of attention has been paid to White resistance to Black inroads in their neighborhoods but it should be remembered that those Whites were displaced from familiar and loved areas to have to go seek new roots elsewhere.  It is wrong to think that Blacks wanted them in the neighborhood.  The Blacks felt much more comfortable among their own.

page 1649.

     A great many White lives were disrupted as high school students had to try to integrate themselves into new school environments which is an impossible thing to do.  The social costs were perhaps higher for the Whites who were displaced than for the Blacks who displaced them.

     Dewey had gone to an all White school so he was startled to see so many Black faces.  Although he had thought he would walk Louise home, once inside the school he realized that he had no means to find her.  Fortunately he ran into Donna Popp who lived up the block from Louise.

     Donna was a very nice girl but afflicted with extreme hairiness.  Not the light downy kind but the long black hairs that made her resemble a female Wolfman.  She overcame this liability by being quite a wonderful person.

     ‘Oh, Dewey.  I’m so glad you’re here.  No, Louise skipped school today.  She’s not here but don’t leave me, Dewey.’

     ‘Uh, OK, but why not, Donna?’

    ‘Gosh, I was late getting out of class.  If I don’t get out right away with the rest of the girls the Black guys will rape you.’

     ‘You’re kidding me.’  Dewey replied, astonished as he looked down the hall at the dozens of Black boys standing around with hungry eyes like tigers lurking in the jungle.

page 1650.

     ‘They can’t get away with that, Donna.’

     ‘Oh yes they can.  It’s happened to two friends of mine already and Louise had a close call.’

     ‘But why weren’t they arrested?’

     ‘Because they’re Black and if they get arrested they’ll cry discrimination and start a riot;.’

     The Black guys stared hungrily in Dewey’s and Donna’s direction not sure whether to attempt it or not.  Dewey put on his toughest Navy look and stance which established the relationship as he and Donna hurried out.

     ‘Are you and Louise going to the dance tonight?’

     ‘I don’t know.  Is there a dance tonight?’

     ‘Uh huh.  The homecoming dance.’

     ‘I’ll ask Louise when I get there.  Want me to carry your books?’   

     ‘Sure, thanks.’

     Dewey dropped Donna off at her door continuing up the block to the house of Louise.  Louise was busy but said that yes they were going to the dance.  Dewey wandered off to return later.

     Louise and Dewey with a gaggle of her friends entered the gymnasium where the dance was sparsely attended.  The transition from a White school to a Black school was apparent in racial tensions that Dewey had never experienced.  The Blacks sat on one side of the gym while the Whites sat on the other.  The Blacks glared intense hatred and resentment across the basketball court while the Whites rendered impotent by their parents of the Greatest Generation sat and cringed in guilt.

page 1651

     The music was provided by a phonograph.  Each side seemed to have a preference for specific records; the Blacks preferring a down home primitive sound while the Whites preferred a more sophisticated Rock and Roll.  There may be voices of dissent that Black music was coarse, primitive and really unmusical but then if you haven’t listened to ‘White Port And Lemon Juice’ what can you really have to say?  Records were alternated as neither side would take the floor with the others on it.

     Dewey watched fascinated unable to envision the tensions that existed in the classrooms.  The Blacks, many of them fresh up from ‘Bama had been placed in classes by age not by ability so the quality of education must have suffered severely.  Some may say that I am unfairly characterizing the preparation of the Negroes but if you’re going to argue that the quality of education depends on the amount of money spent and that the amount spent on Black schools in the South was much less than that spent on White schools then it logically follows that the Black students fresh from points South had inferior educations and weren’t qualified for their grade years.  I mean, really, you are bound to honor your own arguments.  Logical consistency has been thrown overboard for racial interests since those times but it never hurts to have a reality check from time to time.

      Several of the girls behind Dewey on the bleachers stared anxiously across the gym at some of the Black boys as they discussed them with a mixture of fear and awe and anticipation that they might soon be raped by them with no recourse. 

     ‘See that one; that’s Bobby Thomas.  You got to watch him.  He’s really after me.  I have to get out real quick or he’ll grab me.  He’s always got four or five guys around him.  You know how it is when they surround you so nobody can see while one of them does it to you.  God, right there against the lockers, standing up.’

page 1652.

     ‘I know, it hasn’t happened to me yet but my friend Marsha got it a week ago.  She’s really feeling bad, poor kid, not much you can do about it though.  You’ve just got to learn to live with it.’

     ‘Yeah, but it’s bad enough to get pregnant and have a white baby, who wants a Black one?  How do you explain that to anyone?’

     ‘I know.  No one will believe you got raped.  They’ll say you asked for it.  I can’t even begin to convince my mother how bad it is.  She and my dad go on about he fought the Nazis so people could be free.  Some freedom.  Which people is it that he was trying to make free and which was he trying to enslave?  They just tell me not to be prejudiced.  They’re just like us they say.’

     ‘Yeah, except if a White guy raped you you could put his ass in a sling.’

     Dewey listened to this with, if not unbelieving ears, astounded ears.  He had no idea as yet that life had become a war zone with the advantage on the other side.  To make any complaint was to brand oneself as a racist.

     In a few years he would learn that a hell on earth had been created by the Founding Fathers and enforced by the Greatest Generation.  Trouble was coming everyday, indeed.

page 1653.

     Dewey dropped Louise off with a sense of amazement, compassion and pity.  Dewey wondered how he would have been able to put up with it.

      Louise and her parents were gone on Sunday so after putting around all day with Torbrick they got on the highway at six for the trip back.

     About midnight Torbrick began to worry Trueman about staying awake.

     ‘Look Torbirck I’ve been doing this for months and I’ve never had any trouble staying awake, see?  You don’t go to sleep when you’re in someone else’s car.’

     ‘I know, but tonight might be different.  I’d just feel better if you took a couple of these bennies.’ Torbrick said producing a box.

     ‘I don’t take drugs.’  Dewey snarled.

     ‘I know, I know.  I’m not asking you to take drugs but if you don’t take a couple of these to stay awake you might crash the car and never wake up.’

     Dewey gave Torbrick a sharp look, offended that he would try to get Dewey hooked on drugs while posing as his friend.

     ‘I don’t want to get hooked on drugs, Torbrick, if you’re worried you drive.’

     ‘You can’t get hooked one time, Dewey.  I’d feel better with you driving.  C’mon, it’s important to stay awake.’

page 1654.

     Dewey reluctantly swallowed one of the pills to shut Torbrick up.  The bennie didn’t so much keep him awake as dull his mind and slow his reflexes.  The pill didn’t dull his mind so much that he didn’t see the red light of the Highway Patrol flashing behind him.  He knew he wasn’t speeding so he didn’t know what it could be.  His task now was to make it look like Torbrick was driving.

     Tory suppresed a little glee sure that Trueman was in trouble.  He made the mistake of getting out of the car when Trueman did.  As usual the cop took a long time getting out of his car.

     Trueman had walked back towards the police car, Torbrick meeting him behind the Ford.  Trueman put the keys in Torbrick’s hand stepping over to the passenger side of him.

     The cop got out doing a casual cop power stroll up to the car.

     ‘Know why I stopped you?’  The cop demanded.

     ‘Speeding?’  Torbrick said hopefully not realizing that he now appeared to be the driver with keys in his hand.

    ‘No.  You’ve got a taillight out here.’  The cop said tapping the light on the driver’s side which was indeed broken  out.

     ‘Oh,  It’s his car.’  Dewey said swiftly getting into the passenger’s seat.

     Well, I’m not going to give you a ticket this time but you better get that fixed right away.’

     ‘Yes, I will officer.  Thank you.’

     ‘By the way, let me look at your driver’s license while I’m here.’

     After a quick review Torbrick slid into the driver’s seat.

     ‘That was pretty slick, Dewey.  He didn’t even know you were driving.’

     ‘I didn’t think it was too bad myself.  Home, Torbrick.’

     They both laughed.  Dewey had avoided danger while Torbrick glanced at him admiringly but this was the last time Dewey elected to ride with Torbrick.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have a driver’s license which was a risk he could accept but he deeply resented Torbrick’s having forced the bennie on him.  If he hadn’t known before he now knew that Torbrick was not a true friend.

     He wondered who had broken the taillight which had been intact in San Diego.  It didn’t occur to him to suspect Joe McLean who would be the author of that little trouble and many another woe.

     The two men walked aboard the Teufelsdreck while it was still pitch black.

page 1656.

THIS SIDE OF BIG RIVER.

A Journey Of Twenty-five Hundred MIles Begins With A Single Step.

     Our Lady had hired his assassin but in his excitement he had forgotten to arrange for Dewey to be out on the highway; a small detail but an essential one.

     By now Yisraeli had a pretty good psychological profile on Trueman.  As he hadn’t gauged the conflicts raging in Dewey’s mind but dealt only with external manifestations Our Lady found him unpredictable.  He had discerned Trueman’s predilection for novelty and he had found his enemy easily suggestible.

     He had Kanary and a few of his confederates plant the notion of hitchhiking across country in Dewey’s mind.  Hitching across country is no light matter; hitching is always dangerous; nobody knew that better than Trueman so he turned a deaf ear to the notion.

     Time was of the essence as the lawyers say.  Dewey had to be gotten off the bus quickly.  If Trueman had little cash on him he still had two years of allotments sent to the bank in the Valley.  He could have afforded to fly without any difficulty.  Cursed by his mother of the Steel Womb he had been persuaded by her to allocate half his wages against the future.  As J.P. Morgan once said:  People always have two reasons for going anything; a good reason…and the real one.

page 1657

     Had Dewey sat down and reasoned the matter out he would have realized that even the good reason for foregoing his present wasn’t good enough.  He wasted three years punishing himself by extreme poverty for no good reason.  Three of the best years of his life which he should have been enjoying were thrown into a steel womb.  But then that wasn’t his mother’s real reason.  The real reason was that she would never stop punishing him for not having been a girl.

     If questioned she would have said she wasn’t aware of it but that would have been nonsense too.  There is no unconscious.  In the way of the psychotic she just didn’t consciously acknowledge her motives to herself.  And so Dewey scrubbed his best interests to buy a ticket for a bus ride he knew he wouldn’t be able to tolerate.

     That’s where Our Lady got his leverage.

     He kept the pressure on.  Thus while his confederates were extolling the virtues of hitching Dewey was ruminating on the horrible prospect of that bus ride.

     His fellows kept up a patter about fabulous hitchhiking feats.  One lucky guy had caught a non-stop ride to New York City a few seconds after he put his thumb out.  By alternating as driver he made it back in forty-eight hours.  Forty-eight hours!  Now there was incentive.

     It was even proved, as it were, that by using some mathematical formula by dividing the speed of light by the retrograde motion of Mars that you could actually be in New York before you had debunked in San Diego.  Dewey’s interest had been piqued but he had already bought the bus ticket.

page 1658.

     Kanary reported the situation disconsolately to Yisraeli.  Our Lady instructed Kanary to deal directly with Trueman himself taking him by the hand if necessary to get a refund on the ticket and then to lead him to the highway.  Kanary protested that Trueman would never trust him.  Kanary made the mistake of projecting his perception of their relationship on Trueman believing Trueman hated him as much as hated Trueman.

     It was true that Trueman distrusted Kanary but Yisraeli had divined that Trueman’s desire to be liked would easily overcome a feeling of distrust by a display of apparent friendship.  Kanary did as he was instructed.  His guilt and hatred was such that he was not able to project much friendliness.  Trueman remained suspicious but as he really did want to be liked he lowered his guard.  Kanary took him to the bus station he get his refund.

     Kanary then told him that he knew an excellent location to begin.  Here there is no accounting for Trueman’s stupidity.  He knew there was only one highway East out of San Diego.  He knew that Kanary flew to San Francisco and never hitchhiked anywhere so there was no reason for him to know a good place to stand heading East.

     Another remarkable thing in Trueman’s conduct is that he never consulted a map or carried one.  he had an excellent general notion of the layout of the country; he knew where all the cities were in relation to the othr cities so he always knew the general direction he wanted to go.  That was good enough for him.

page 1659.

     A journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step but the problem remains where the first step will be taken.  Yisraeli himself had a crazy scheme that shouldn’t have worked but it almost did.  This was really a case of dumb and dumber.

     Yisraeli’s plan was to send Trueman North out of San Diego through San Bernardino and Barstow.  Somewhere in that distance his agent, Dalton Dagger, was supposed to murder Trueman leaving the body out in the desert for the rodents to gnaw.

     Dewey knew 99 thoroughly  and was familiar with 101 but he had never been East or gone North up 395.

     Highway 101 runs border to border on the West side of the Coast Range while 99, now Interstate 5, runs from border to border between the Coast Range and the ranges of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades.  Highway 395 which ran from border to border on the East of the Sierras and Cascades was uncharted territory.

     Dewey knew the lay of 395 in San Diego because it ran down the length of Balboa Park.  From that knowledge he knew there was no good hitchhiking access.  Kanary said he would show him where.  That was such a nice little service on Kanary’s part for a a man he didn’t like that it should have made Dewey go back to the bus station for his ticket.  But it didn’t.

     On the morning of December 13th Dewey and Kanary could be seen picking their path through the traveling derricks toward the gate of the Naval Station.  In a peculiar homosexual ritual Kanary carried his wallet and personal effects held chest high in his two hands like the talisman of a princess conducting the victim to the place of execution.

page 1660.

     Trueman was amazed that Kanary could leave the ship on a weekday morning but then that’s why Yeoman is such a sensitive post.  Not only does all correspondence pass through their hands but they have great discretionary latitude with their time.  Describing Kanary’s Naval career would be another large branch of this story containing much revealing detail.  But as the sage said:  That’s another story.

     As they walked through Balboa Park Kanary was no longer able to conceal his disgust and hatred.  He kept three paces behind Trueman as though he were herding a sheep to the slaughter.

     They came to an overpass above a deep thirty foot cut with steep ivy covered embankments and no shoulder.  Dewey was incredulous.

     ‘You got to be kidding Kanary.  I thought you said you knew a good access place.  That’s dangerous.  It’s high speed and there’s no place for a car to pull over.  Jesus, I’m liable to be picked up by the cops before I get a ride.’

     ‘Well.’  Said Kanary with ill concealed scorn.  ‘You can always take the bus.’

     ‘Yeah, but I’d waste a whole day now.’

     ‘That’s the way it is.’  Kanary sniggered.  He now considered his self made enemy as good as dead.  ‘So long.’  He said holding his purse up breast high with a little bow.  ‘If I never see you again it will be too soon.’  He turned casting a hateful glance over his shoulder at Trueman and walked away.  Teal Kanary had been quite successful in darkening his own world.  He thought the impending doom of Trueman would be a lightning flash to illuminatie it.

page 1661.

     Dewey was perplexed.  He wasn’t clear yet that he was heading North but the highway was not propitious for hitchhiking.  He looked up the highway but he couldn’t see a better place to start.  Grumbling to himself he crossed the overpass scrambling down through the ivy of a very steep embankment.  The curb was abutted to the roadbed so there was no place for cars to pull over.  Standing with one foot in the ivy while the other was propped up nearly chest level on the embankment he surveyed the old concrete cracked two lane road, one each way, as he put his thumb out.  The cars whizzed by; there seemed no propect for a ride.

     ‘Oh god, I’ve been set up.’  He realized belatedly.  ‘If the cops get here first so much for my leave.’

     The psychological necessity for the perpetrator is to see the victim entangled in his mesh.  They will always come to see.  The fellow you know who stands to watch you in your toils is the man who set you up.  If they are really devious they will send a decoy as a scapegoat to draw your attention if they think you’re hep.  Then they come along second or stand further in the background but they always come to watch.  There are some devious people out there.

     As Dewey stood there the car bearing Yisraeli, Beverly and Anne was speeding toward him.

page 1662.

     Both Beverly and Anne had entered the plot with glee.  Beverly who was still reeling under the blows of fate was only too glad to pass her torment on to another.  Move that monkey along.  Like so many deluded folk she though she could liberate herself by putting that monkey on someone else’s back.

     Anne, who had been told that Dewey was her brother’s murderer, was only too glad to see the victim before ‘justice’ was done.

     Dewey like any good hitchhiker made eye to eye contact with every passing driver.  Thus for a hundred feet he watched the occupants of the oncoming car seeming to laugh and point at him.  Our Lady drew his finger across his throat as they passed as an indication that Dewey was to be terminated.

     Drivers sometimes did strange things as they passed.  This was one of the strangest.  Dewey noted it because of its strangeness.  The only interpretation he could make of it was that a cop was close behind.

     Yisraeli’s plan was not overly complicated but it had a number of uncontrolled variables.  Dalton Dagger was supposed to be right behind Yisraeli to pick Trueman up.  Yisraeli, who was not without a sense of humor, wanted to joke with Trueman.  Aboard ship when Yisraeli’s confederates had told the story of how the hitcher’s first ride had been coast to coast they were setting Dewey up.  Thus when Dewey would ask how far Dalton Dagger was going his very first ride would a non-stop to the Valley.  Then when Dalton murdered Dewey on the highway to Barstow, Our Lady would have a great laugh.

page 1663.

     However Dalton was not that reliable.  Punctuality and Dalton spoke only from a distance over a great chasm so he wasn’t even close to beginning.  Yisraeli’s plan was already getting sketchy.

     By some miracle the car behind Yisraeli did stop to pick up the sailor.  Trueman blessed his luck while a line of cars piled up behind his ride who obviously had to stop in the middle of the single Northbound lane.  Even though the car had stopped almost in front of Trueman by the time he slammed the door there were ten irate drivers behind.

     ‘I’m only going as far as Escondido.’

     ‘That’s alright.  Thanks for getting me out of that spot.  I’m amazed you stopped, especially since all those driver’s got so angry.’

     ‘Ahh, nothin’.  I do what I want.  I’m king of this or any other road.  If they don’t like it let ’em suck my exhaust pipe.  I stop where I damn well please.’

     Dewey was always too concerned about the rights of others.  He both admired and condemned the driver’s self-centered attitude but he could have used a little of it.

     Yisraeli had noticed Trueman being picked up in his rear view mirror so he kept his eye on the car until he could swing off the highway and come back on the on ramp and get behind it.  Thus when Trueman took up his position in Escondido he was amazed to see the same people laughing and pointing at him again.

     There were not nearly so many traveling to Riverside and San Bernardino as there re were to LA so three hours later he was still in the same place as the local traffic passed him by.  He began to reflect that this was the 13th.  Not superstitious but wary of superstitions he began to wonder why he would have picked a day like the 13th to begin.  Of course he hadn’t.  He’d been managed into it by Yisraeli through his surrogate Kanary but Dewey had forgotten or never noticed.  Our Lady always was a joker.

page 1664. 

     The sun was going down when a car pulling an airstream stopped to pick him up.  Dewey thought they were merely an exuberant couple as they headed up the highway.  But then as the car and airstream swerved across the lane into oncoming traffic Dewey realized that they were not only exuberant but exceedingly drunk.  He tried to keep his cool as the distance between the drunks and the oncoming car closed.

     ‘Don’t you think you should change lanes?’  He politely inquired as the grille of the oncoming car loomed in exquisite detail in his vision.

     ‘Arrr, you’re not one of them goddamned nervous nellies are you?’  The driver jocularly asked as the car and airstream drifted back across the line as the whites of the oncoming driver’s eyes loomed large in Dewey’s sight.

      ‘Say, why don’t you come up to the cabin and loosen up and have a good time with us?’

     ‘Oh now, I’d like to, you know, but I’ve only got a two week leave and I’m going back home.’

     ‘Awww, screw home.  Forget it.  Come on and spend a couple weeks with us.’

page 1665.

     ‘That’s a terrific offer but I think I’ll go home.  It’s been a long time.’

     All this time the car and airstream were weaving across the line.  Dewey began to curse Kanary wishing he’d taken the bus instead.  There was no doubt in his mind that he was going to die on that highway.  But then the road to Lake Elsinore appeared on the left.

     ‘Come with us.’  The driver iterated.

     ‘No.  I’ve got to get out.’

     The driver feinted a turn then let Dewey out into a twilight in which the sun had already disappeared.

     ‘Good luck in the dark on this road, honey.’  The driver’s wife gloated maliciously as Dewey shut the door.

     Dewey became apprehensive as night did indeed follow.  But then, miraculously, a car stopped in front of him.

     ‘I’m not going very far.’  The driver who was a young guy of twenty-five said.

     He was a malicious fellow.  He drove Dewey down the highway another twenty miles then dropped him out in the blackness in the middle of nowhere.  Then he continued on down the highway to San Bernardino with a sour laugh.

     Dewey began to lament the error of his ways.  The night was pitch black.  There were no streetlights or light of any kind.  He was dressed in his blues with his dark blue raincoat.  The hat on his head was his only light colored garment.  ‘Aw, Jesus.’  He lamented.  ‘Nobody is going to be able to see me.  I’ll probably still be here in the morning.’

page 1666.

     The road was no 101 much less a 99; there were very few cars passing by.  In the dark of the night and his own mental gloom Dewey lost all track of time imagining that it was much later than it was.  Only a couple cars passed by over the space of two hours as Dewey stood back by the side of the road.  Gradually he realized he couldn’t even be seen.  He had no chance.  His only hope was to stand out in the highway like a specter, jumping back out of the way as the cars passed.  He did this a couple times over the space of an hour until he felt the danger of the maneuver when a car swerving to the side of the road to avoid him nearly took him out.  Cursing his decision to hitch for the stupidity it was he had resolved to wait it out till morning not realizing how early it was when, standing off to the side as he was without even his thumb out, a car passed screeching to a stop a quarter mile down the road.

     Dewey was sure they’d drive off when he got to them so rather than run he began a leisurely stroll.

     ‘Come on. Hurry up.  Run.  We stopped for you didn’t we?’

     Dewey did run and he was not disappointed.

     ‘How far are you going?’  Dewey asked.

     ‘Berdoo.’

     ‘Oh way, all the way to San Bernardino?’  Dewey said with relief.  ‘Thanks a lot.’

     ‘Why didn’t you run sooner?’  The driver’s girl friend asked.  ‘We wouldn’t have waited forever.’

     ‘I didn’t even think you’d see me as dark as it is and all.’  Dewey replied apologetically.

     ‘You’re darn lucky we did in those dark clothers.  You should have worn your white suit.’

     ‘Good idea but I can’t.  Dress blues are the traveling uniform.’

    They dropped him off at the main intersection of San Bernardino.

     San Bernardino was the birth place of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club.  As such Dewey had always avoided the place.  Berdoo was a tough working class city situated on the East edge of the LA megalopolis with Mt. Whitney, the highest place in the then United States to the northwest and Death Valley the lowest place in the US to the East.

     Now Dewey was thoroughly disoriented.  Because of the long duration of the short trip of only a hundred miles from San Diego he imagined that it was three or four in the morning while it was not yet midnight.

     He was astonished to see the drag full of dragsters on a Thursday night.  ‘God, they must never let up in San Bernardino.’  He thought.  And in truth they didn’t.

     As the raucus dragsters rolled thorugh the intersecition Dewey became completely turned around.  In his turmoil he imagined it must be Friday night.  That put the dragsters in the proper perspective but Dewey had lost a day.

      As he stood at the intersection his confusion increased.  He began to wonder why he was going North when he sould be going East.  Thus he made the mistake of turning East into San Bernardion.  He soon found that it wasn’t easy to walk along the drag in uniform.  Not only were the dragsters less civilized and more abusive than on Lankershim but the worst of his fears was realized when a cop car braked to a stop across his path.

page 1668.

     Dewey began to curse Teal Kanary because this cop could terminate his leave by sending him back to the base.  If that happened the Navy would still consider him on leave so he would be unwanted while he had wasted precious time making it impossible to go on.  As he had no money or at least not enough to pay for two weeks ashore he began to suspect that Kanary had done him an intentional disservice.

     The LAPD might have been mean but at least they were slick with a fine sense of style.  San Bernardino could compete with Oakland for klutzes.  The cop was young, not more than twenty-three or twenty-four.  He was the worst.  He hoped to make the LAPD from Berdoo but it was a hopeless wish.  The distance between a criminal and a cop is as narrow as an attitude.  Like the criminal the cop had been on the short end of the stick through high school.  Unlike the  CWOB the CWB is not willing to sacrifice his well being to get back at society.  CWBs are sadistic; CWOBs are masochistic.  So the CWB joins the force where he can get away with bullying citizens.  Young cops especially like bullying young men.  This one had just gotten out of the Navy so he carried a grudge against sailors.

     Dewey held his breath.

    ‘You hitchhiking son?’  How they love to demean a man by calling him son.

page 1569.

     ‘Well, yeah.’  Dewey said apologetically, not having the chutzpah to deny an obvious fact.  ‘I’m going home on leave for Christmas and I’m just passing through.’  It was a chance Dewey thought he had to take.  If the cop sympathized he would wave him on , if he were hard nosed Dewey would be in the squad car.

     ‘You’re out of bounds, bub.’  Every CWB ignored the out of bounds rule.  This guy sounded like he was going to enforce it.

     ‘I don’t need an out of bounds pass, I’ve got my leave papers.  I’m going back to Michigan for Christmas.  Dewey said, humbling himself to death.

     ‘Let’s see ’em.’

     Dewey flipped open his raincoat and indicated the papers in his inside pocket.  He didn’t want to hand them over to the cop because once he gave them up the CWB might not give them back.  These guys, always nasty, could be quite vicious; they could get mean enough to hurt without any reason.  Psychocops on the loose.

     ‘Hand them to me and your ID too.’  There was a rude peremptoriness in his tone that dared Dewey to either give it back or eat dirt.  Well, you couldn’t expect a decent person to take the job, could you?

     Dewey forked over his leave papers and Navy ID.

     ‘I want your driver’s license too, boy.’

     ‘Don’t have one.’

     ‘What do you mean you don’t have one?  Everybody’s got one; don’t lie to me boy.  I can make you wish you never did.’

page 1670

     ‘I don’t have one.  My step-father wouldn’t let me drive and since I don’t have a car I don’t need one.  If I had a car I wouldn’t be standing here now, would I?’  Dewey said showing more irritation than he should have.  Any show of spirit drives this type of cop mad.  The CWB looked at him sharply but as he thought Dewey had previously been suitably humble if not obsequious the cop threw Dewey’s ID and leave papers at his feet.

     ‘Here’s what I can’t figure; if you say you’re going to Michigan what are you doing on this road?’

     ‘Well, this is going East isn’t it?’

     ‘This is East alright boy, but you’ve got to go North if you want to go East.  All this road will do is lead you up to Arrowhead.  Go back to the intersection and take a right.  If you do that I won’t take you in.  But remember, if I come back in a couple hours and you’re still hitchhiking I’m going to take you in.  Now, get going.’  He commanded.

     Dewey stooped to pick up his ID while cursing the cop under his breath.  On the bright side the CWB had probably saved him several hours from going the wrong way.  On the other hand he would have missed his rendezvous with Dalton Dagger and might have had a relaxing time at the lake.  Not Dewey, he wasn’t that flexible.

     Back on the highway Dewey stood for an hour until a car pulled over.  The driver had no sooner opened his mouth than Dewey groaned inwardly.  Another one.

     In point of fact the homo was justified in thinking Dewey was out for some action.  The highway over the pass was virtually unused from sundown to sun up.  Dewey was standing in the middle of a strip of bars; logically what other reason could he have for hitching there.  If time was of the essence Dewey was wasting his.  One can only assume that Our Lady was having the laugh of his life.  How was this for a joke?

page 1672.

     ‘What’s a good looking sailor like you doing out by the side of the road at one in the morning?’  The dark visaged homo asked.

     ‘i’m on leave; trying to get to the East.’

     ‘Oh yes, to be sure.’  The driver lisped.  ‘Short a little money?  Well, it’s awfully hot in here.  My heater is extremely efficient, if you get my drift.  Open up your coat.’  He commanded obviously eyeing Dewey’s crotch.  Dewey realized this was going to be a short ride.

     ‘That’s alright.  I’m comfortable.’  Dewey replied.

     ‘You mean you’re not going to open your coat?’

     ‘No, I’m not.’

     ‘Well, listen Mister, let me explain the facts of life to you.  Nobody rides for free.’

     ‘Well, then, let me out.  I don’t want to pay the fare.’

     ‘I certainly will let you out you prick teasing bastard.’

     Dewey was dropped a hundred yards or so outside the Berdoo city limits.  He was beginning to feel desperate.  He was not crossing the country at a forty-eight hour pace.  Heck, he wasn’t even crossing the country.  He was still going North.

     The cop who had harassed him passed slowly by.  On the other side of the city limits the cop knew Dewey was beyond his jurisdiction, but, oddly enough, there are no greater lawbreakers than the police; they have immunity.  Maybe, the cop reasoned, Dewey would resist arrest whereby he could be charged with that.

page 1672.

     In hesitating the cop had driven by.  Dewey was in a state of panic as he watched him turn around.  But as the cop was pulling up opposite Dewey a huge tractor and double bottom drew between to offer Dewey a ride.  Dewey thankfully heaved his bag up in preparation to scrambling in the cab while Abe Griswold, the driver, grinned down insolently at the SBPD.

 A Rolling Stone On The Lost Highway

I was totin’ my bag

Along that dusty Berdoo Road

When along came a semi

With a high and canvas covered load.

‘If you’re goin’ ‘cross the mountain pass

With me you can ride.’

So I climbed up in the cabin

And settled down inside.

He asked me if I’d ever seen a road

With so much dust and sand.

And I said:  ‘Listen Bud,

I’ve traveled every road in this here land.

I’ve been everywhere, man

I’ve been everywhere,

Across the deserts bare, man

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man

Of travel I’ve had my share, man

I’ve been everywhere.

-Hank Snow ‘I’ve Been Everywhere.’

page 1673

     Abe Griswold wasn’t really that generous a character; he just really enjoyed thumbing his nose at authority.  Like many truck drivers he had no place in the structure of society.  His place was no place so he was continually in motion and always at home.

     He was quick.  From his perch high above the road he had seen the little drama unfolding as the CWB circled back to harass Trueman.  Having foiled the cop he laughed down at him with a sneer as the CWB shook his fist at him.

     An added incentive for Abe was the novelty of seeing a sailor hitching on this highway so he not only had the privilege of thwarting authority but he was going to have a laugh at Trueman’s expense too.

     His cab was one of those huge old monsters.  Maybe a White or a Freightliner, no cab over, the snout extended out in front of the windshield to the horizon.  You could have played football in the cabin it was so big.

     The truck roared unmercifully;  the noise was deafening, the vibrations set your teeth rattling.

     Abe wanted to talk.  Through practice he had adjusted his hearing and vocal projection so that he could both hear and speak over, or rather, through the terrific din.  Dewey’s voice was light and high.  While he tried to comply with Abe’s wishes his voice wasn’t strong enough to stand the strain.

page 1674.

     He managed to explain to Abe that his destination was Michigan which raised Abe’s eyebrows and brought a suppressed smile to his lips at what he considered rightly an eccentric route.  He decided Trueman must be a real original.

     Abe explained that he would drop him off at the foot of the pass on the desert floor.  Abe picked up gravel on the other side of the moutains hauling it back to Riverside.  His bottoms were empty at the time.

     He advised that he wouldn’t hit the desert floor until surise offering to let Dewey use his fair sized sleeping quarters behind the seat.  Abe seemed to be somewhat reminiscent of the satyr so rather than be at his mercy alseep Dewey chose to stay awake.

     The big rig having passed through the gears, which are something like ten or fifteen, it labored up the pass.  Abe did have designs on Dewey but he was more the rapist than the seducer so Dewey was alright so long as he stayed awake.  The main road led straight over the pass but there was a long loop to the North that Abe took hoping to outlast Dewey, taking him while he was asleep.  Then he could dump the sailor out of the cab a million miles from nowhere.  It might be a couple days before Dewey reached civilization if he ever did.

     Dazed by the noise and the incredible bumpiness of the ride which shook his internal organs in fifteen different directions there was no chance Dewey would go to sleep.

page 1676.

     Having completed the loop the big rig crested the summit.  Abe just let that big double bottom screech on down the mountain side.  What little Dewey could see of the mountain in the headlights was bleak and sere.  Bare rock climbed sheer outside the windows giving the impression they were in a chute or very narrow canyon.

     As Dewey watched with eyes wide Abe didn’t even touch the brakes he just guided that monster missile down the grade.  The scream of the engine seemed to increase to match the roar of the wind howling by.  The canvas covers of the bottoms flapped and whistled while the sides of the empty bottoms began alternate concave and convex fluctuations with a deep bellow.

     Dewey’s eyes opened wide as terror began to show on his face.  As he stared out the windshield he could see that Abe was overdriving his headlights by a considerable distance.  The light from the headlights was still on the canyon walls as they flashed by.  Dewey thought Abe had lost control.  Laughing like a madman Abe enjoyed Dewey’s terror.

     They rolled through the pitch darkness for what seemed like hours until disgorging unto the desert floor they arrived at the crack of dawn.

     The transition from mountain pass to desert floor was complete in a moment.  It seemed as though the mountain range was set on the level desert floor without any intervening hills or grades.  Abe finally touched the brakes bringing that huge twenty wheeler to a stop.

page 1676.

     ‘I take a right here.  Get another load of mountain from the East side and drive it over to the West side.  Moving mountains is what I do for a living.  Just keep going on this highway and it’ll take you East.  Watch out for the coppers now.  So long pal.’

     Dewey thanked Abe, jumped down and watched him drive off laughing madly.

     Dewey wondered what the joke was.  Then he began to look aorund as rosy fingered dawn lighted up the desert landscape.  On taking stock of his situation he realized what a diabolical old jokester Abe was.  All life was just a quip in the cosmic comedy to him.

     Dewey took a full half hour to orient himself on the deserted highway.  He wasn’t very successful.  He had been up a full twenty-four hours now.  His nerves were tingling from the terror of the ride with Abe Griswold.  He had covered a couple hundred hundred miles due North away from his goal.  Not a propitious start; he could give up his forty-eight hour hopes.

     As he was dwelling on his misfortune rosy fingered dawn disappeared and the sun blazed up in the East like a big red rubber ball.  Dewey had become so disoriented he thought the sun was rising in the West and thought nothing of it.

     Every where he looked he saw nothing but bare ground.  No grass, no bushes, no trees.  He was in the desert; nothing but rocks and dirt.  He looked back to where he had come.  The mountains rose abruptly from the Mojave floor.  The highway disappeared into the slot of the defile from which the truck had emerged so that it appeared that the road ended abruptly at the mountain side.  The mountains rose up sere; nothing green was visible.

page 1678.

     Dewey turned slowly around.  Everywhere he looked there was nothing but yellowish-redish-brownish dirt.  Way off across the valley foor in the distance another even more sere mountain range rose.  If more sere was possible, and it was.

     ‘Jesus Christ.’  Dewey thought.  ‘This is the desert.’

     Dewey had been standing for an hour without a single car passing as the reality rather than the nature of desert pressed itself on his mind.

     ‘Not exactly a well traveled road.’  He observed to himself trying to make light of his situation.

     Then he began to feel warm enough to take off his coat.  As he did he remembered that deserts were hot, dry unforgiving places as in the song Cool Water:  Keep a movin’ Dan, he’s a devil not a man, and he spreads the burnin’ sands with water.’  It occurred to him that he could dehydrate and die by the side of the road with a glass of ephemeral water in his hand.  After all he’d had nothing to drink since breakfast the previous day.

     Anxiety seized him as he thought he understood what Abe was laughing about.  Dewey was the cosmic joke.  Two hours after he arrived he was still waiting for the first car to pass.

     As of three o’ clock the previous day Yisraeli hadn’t realized that Dalton Dagger had not yet left.  When Showbaby told him that Dagger was still fiddling with his car Our Lady panicked.  His heart was set on Dewey’s death at this time in this way.  He threw caution to the winds and made further contact with Dalton.  That was of course Dalton’s wish.  Dagger was not a passive instrument in Yehouda’s hands; he had his game too.

     He’d already spent the thousand he’d been able to collect.  Even though he’d accepted it in lieu of half payment he felt he’d been cheated which he had and would be.  Now confronted with his employer he obstinately held out for his other thousand.

     Yisraeli replied that as he hadn’t even left yet he would only give it to him in Barstow because he had jeopardized if not destroyed the Porn King’s plans.

     Yisraeli was desperate.  He knew that it would be extremely difficult to get rides on the Berdoo road so he surmised or hoped that Dewey wouldn’t have passed through Barstow before he could get there.

     He placated Dagger by promising, Our Lady Of The Blues, was a great promiser, the additional thousand if and when he got Dewey in his car.  Dagger laughed out loud when Yisraeli said he wanted his thousand back if they missed Trueman.

     Yisraeli took first things first and bundled Dalton into the latter’s car and drove straight through to Barstow where Our Lady passed the night in a motel while Dalton nursed his grudge against Yisraeli in his car as he had no money for a room.

     Yisraeli called Showbaby instructing him to cruise the highway in the hopes of locating Trueman.  Showbaby had gotten as far as San Bernardino the previous night when he actually spotted Trueman getting into Griswold’s truck.  An inquiry told him the probable destination of the gravel carrier.  He took a room in a motel rising with the sun as he began a slow cruise over the pass hoping to spot the victim.

page 1679.

     By eleven o’ clock two cars had passed Dewey both going the other way.  At eleven-fifteen Abe returned from the gravel pit to honk at him as he turned for the pass.  Shortly thereafter a car emerged from the defile to the Mohave floor.  This was Showbaby.  He couldn’t miss Dewey as he was the only spot of color moving in the desert within miles.  The temperature was rising and Dewey was getting desperate.  Still, he couldn’t help noticing the leisurely pace of Showbaby’s car and the manner in which he stopped before him as though he were looking for him.  Dewey slid in.

     Showbaby treated Trueman to the cool detestation which is the lot of the victim.  Zion drove at a very leisurely pace as they passed through Victorville toward Bartsow.  He neither spoke nor acknowledged Trueman’s presence.  He never said how far he was going.

     Annoyed by what seemed to be a sinister attitude and the slow pace Trueman was about to ask to be let out when Barstow hove on the horizon.

     ‘This is as far as I’m going.’  Showbaby said indicating with a thrusting forefinger that Trueman was to get out.

     Then he turned into the lot of the motel and to Yisraeli and Dagger who were waiting.

     Yisraeli who mailed his porn everywhere had a few customers in Barstow.  Generally speaking his customers revered him as a porno saint.  They little knew that he was merely a businessman who really had scant respect ofr them.

page 1680.

 

    

    

 

 

 

 

The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

From The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams Collection

by

R.E. Prindle

Chapter I

Unemployed in Camelot

 

     Dewey sat down.  California- God, what a climate.  Here it was November and the weather was still delicious.  Was still?  It never ended.  Storm clouds were merely a break in the sunshine, scarcely noticeable, even welcome.  Even in dark San Francisco the sun shone brighter, the air was more clear, more fresh, more balmly than anywhere.

     It was almost a delight to be unemployed as Dewey took a seat on the bench to wait for his two o’ clock interview.  Almost a delight but not quite.  Dewey’s career, his assualt on the world, was going nowhere.  He knew his situation was very precarious.  The worst was that the persona he projected was not well received.  He sensed that there was someone, a part of a group, that defamed him wherever he went.  He was conscious of being stalked but that could be overcome if people liked him, if he knew how to ingratiate himself.  But he didn’t.  The blows of his childhood had made him a cross between servile and obsquious combined with an attempt to assert his self-worth that came across as arrogant.

     Even now as he sat on the bench on Montgomery just off Market a man stood across the square staring at him steadily.  He was waiting to follow Dewey wherever he went.  He would then report Dewey’s whereabouts, a phone call would be made and whatever chance Dewey had would be dashed.

     There was no sense approaching the guy, he would only retreat before Dewey leaving Dewey in the awkward and humiliating position of chasing him down the street.  All Dewey could do was endure him.

     Dewey opened his copy of  ‘Troubled Sleep’ by Sartre so as not to waste valuable time while he waited.  His copy was from the Bantam series of World Classics.  A fine collection of titles that he bought wherever he found them.  He gazed up from his book from time to time to wonder who the guy came from.  Dewey thought he must either report to Capt. Leon Douglas of Ocean Services or Barney Dolittle from Statistical Tabulating.  Those were Dewey’s last two employers.

     He knew that Douglas was following him because he had seen him enter Statistical Tabulating during lunch break.  Did the dirty work himself which was somewhat unusual.  But if you do want the job done right, do it yourself.  The attitude toward himself at STC had changed after the visit.

     Dewey could guess what Douglas had been about.  He had had several hints that he was being slandered from various employment agencies.  No one openly accused him but he was treated as though they assumed he was a thief.  The companies he had been sent to were also of low quality, not career opportunities.  Dewey had been forced out of Ocean Services when he had discovered a major graft scheme, they were now turning around the charge of theft in self-defense.  Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars were being systematically plundered from Ocean Services.  Dewey, who was a Jr. Accountant, had stumbled across it while auditing invoices.

     Ocean Services ran a fleet of tankers on a triangular trade from Peru to Japan down to Indonesia and up to San Francisco and back to Peru; iron ore from Peru to Japan, oil from Indonesia to San Francisco.  The seamen employed were Japanese; thus supplies were appropriate to Japanese tastes.  As he audited the invoices Dewey thought from the amount spent that the seamen must be getting luxury goods.  He didn’t know what the supplies were as the terms were Japanese and the prices were in yen but they converted into hefty sums in dollars.  These guys were eating one heck of a lot better than Dewey had in the Navy.  Then one day Dewey came across an item for cathartics at $10.00 U.S. per tablet.  Dewey stared at the item.  Cathartics?  He knew he was right but he checked the dictionary to be sure.  He was right.  The firm had been charged $10.00 for an Exlax tablet.

     When he presented the discovery to Capt. Douglas, the president of the company, he had expected to be congratulated.  Instead he had been informed that it was his job to merely extend the lines not to analyze them.  He was told to get back to his desk and forget about it. 

     Shortly thereafter it was made apparent to him that he was not only superfluous but unwanted.  They tried the classic ruse of transferring him to another company that would be more suitable to him.  As he had only been on the job six months job changing would be a perilous undertaking.  Although he had held his previous job for two years, leaving to better his prospects, his employability would be suspect on leaving Ocean Services.  If he were released from the successor job shortly after being hired which he suspected was their intent he would be unemployable.  Ocean Services had a prestigious location at Kearny and California.  Dewey wasn’t going to be sent to any more prestigious locations.

     He had then taken a job at STC which as it turned out was owned by a Mafioso from Chicago.  The staff had all been sent out from St. Louis.  Dewey’s luck was still bad.  His boss was Barney Dolittle.  Dolittle had been fired as a young man just after he had married and was with a pregnant wife.  Dewey married in September of 1963.  A week later he was back on the street.  Dolittle had been very upset that Dewey’s wife wasn’t pregnant.  He had vowed to keep Dewey from getting another job.  Dewey thought that the guy staring at him might be from Dolittle.  He wasn’t, he was from Capt. Douglas.

     Even though Dewey didn’t know it he was the possessor of a dangerous secret.  He knew of the corruption at Ocean Services.  He didn’t know what Douglas thought he did.  Dewey thought the culprit was the purchasing agent, Dean Mangeon.  He wasn’t aware that everyone in the company was in on the take, nor that Douglas was receiving the lion’s share.  Douglas in his guilt gave Dewey too much credit.  Dewey was still too inexperienced to understand the pervasiveness of corruption in society.  The Captain to protect himself found it necessary to hound Dewey out of Baghdad By The Bay.  Douglas had quietly become a millionaire, he would to to great lengths to protect his ill-gotten gains.

      Dewey looked down to see a Chronicle on the bench beside him that wasn’t there when he sat down.  It was folded to the want ads.  An ad was circled in red pencil.  Stanford University was advertising for psychological subjects for testing.  Dewey read it.  The pay was very good.  He thought that he might be able to pick up some money and also learn something about himself.  But then he decided that it would interfere with his job hunting.  Had he answered the ad and been accepted he would have been destroyed.  Like Harvard, and over over at UC in Berkeley, Stanford was doing drug experimentation.  In this case they were shooting subjects full of methamphetamines- the very best and purest speed- just to see whether the subjects would flip or flop.

     Dewey laid the paper down.  The clock opposite said five to two.  His appointment was just across Market.  He slipped ‘Troubled Sleep’ into his inside breast pocket.  The building was a great Art Deco piece from the 30s.  It looked better from the outside.  The marble inside was OK but the entire core of the building was a lattice work iron cage.  The elevators even were iron cages pulled up and down on the exposed steel cables.  The building would give him nightmares for decades.

     He was made to wait half an hour.  He saw his prospective employer hang up the phone.  ‘The job’s already been filled.’  He called from his desk.  ‘Sorry.’

     As Dewey left he saw the guy from the square enter the elevator.  ‘Just as Well.’  Dewey thought as he cruised around the floor for a better look.  ‘I don’t think I could work in this place, much too spooky and weird.’

     How much difference in your life can half an hour make?  As the elevator reached the ground floor the building erupted into surrying activity.  Office doors opened, people ran out staring at each other in disbelief.  ‘Oh, my god!  The President’s been shot.’  November 22, 1963.  An old world when Dewey went up the elevator, a brave new one when he came down.

     Jack Kennedy had been shot.  A great weight lifted from Dewey’s shoulders.  The shooting didn’t come as a surprise.  He had been expecting it.  Hoping for it?  Ah well, Jack Kennedy aroused deep antagonism.  And then there had been the Bay Of Pigs.  Half the country had been sullenly resentful.  The air of oppression had lain heavy on the nation.  Now it was over.  Dewey heaved a sigh of relief.  But he felt guilty about it.  His attitude was so complicit that he almost feared discovery as an accomplice.

     Things had changed, now the darkness was not all below the top of his head.  He had been given new life.  As he moved out the door in slow motion it seemed that above his eyebrows all was light while below he moved in darkness.  How strange.  The killing of Kennedy had freed his conscious mind from the control of his subconscious.  He was on his way to freedom.  How strange.  Yet it was true not only for himself but for the country.  The pall that had descended on the nation with the anti-Communist struggles beginning in the forties had been lifted.

     He passed through the revolving doors to flatten himself against the wall slipping down Market like a fugitive.  Auto traffic had stopped and loose paper was swirling in eddies down the street.  People were running every whichaway shouting:  ‘Hey, President Kennedy’s been shot.  They killed Kennedy.’  The mood was not one of dejection but one of elation.  Kennedy was gone.  The land was free again.

     Dewey looked up at the blue November sky, felt the warm bright California air walking up toward Powell and the center of things.

     All the street characters for which San Francisco is so justly famous were running, jumping, shouting:  ‘Hey, they did it, they shot him.  Kennedy is dead.’  So they had.  Many walked as though zombies stunned that the President had been shot.  Dewey, too, was amazed.  His belief that the United States was too civilized for assassinations was disproved.  The last time a president had been shot was at the turn of the century.  Even then the assassin had been a crazy foreign anarchist.  Now Dewey would have to reassess his country.  He would find that it wasn’t even civilized and becoming worse every day.

     There was no doubt in Dewey’s mind, he didn’t even ask himself why, that Kennedy had been killed by the conservatives.  Ask who?  He wondered why it had taken them so long.  Threats had been heavy in the air for months.  Hadn’t Kennedy been warned not to go to Dallas?  Hadn’t the threat been, stronger than an implication, that the cowboys would kill him if he went?  Hadn’t he publicly said that he would not be deterred by threats?

     As Dewey looked around he saw shock on the peoples’ faces but he didn’t see dejection.  He even saw men shaking hands in deep satisfaction.  ‘Hey, didja hear Kennedy, the President’s been shot?’  Having heard Dewey walked wonderingly down to the Embarcadero to catch a bus home.

     The ride to Larkspur in Marin County was unusually quiet.  Everyone seemed lost in their own reflections.  Dewey himself, was breathing heavily.  A great and oppressive weight had been lifted from him.  ‘Free at last.’  He thought.  Free at last.  God almighty, I’m free at last.’  He was premature but at least the stone had been rolled away and he was free to be born again.

Chapter 2.

As In A Dream

     ‘Hi, Honey.  You don’t have the TV on, you haven’t heard?’

     ‘Haven’t heard what, Dewey?’

     ‘They shot him.  They killed Kennedy.’

     ‘Who shot him?’

     ‘I don’t know.  Them, you know, his enemies.  Turn on the TV.  We gotta see this.’

     See this they did.  The coverage was non-stop and in living color.  The TV reporters were agog.  They even interviewed demented drunks who claimed they were the good friends of John F. Kennedy.  The reporters of the various channels were actually shocked when they discovered a guy on a barstool who claimed to know Kennedy was a fraud.  Unless you consider ‘He was a real good guy’ as proof of acquaintanceship.  Oh well, it was the first time; the reporters would get a lot of practice in the ensuing years.

     ‘Wow!  I wonder why he was riding in an open car?’

     ‘Why, Dewey?’

     ‘Well, he was warned not to got to Dallas because they were going to shoot him.  Jackie pleaded with him not to go.  Everybody knew he was going to get it.  Why make it easy?’

     ‘Why did they want to shoot him?’

     ‘He’s a Catholic.  He betrayed the American ethos.  We hate him.’

     ‘What do you mean he betrayed the American ethos, Dewey?  What’s that got to do with being Catholic?  America’s a land of religious tolerance, isn’t it?’

     ‘Well, Honey, it’s a land where Protestant Anglo-Americans tolerate everyone else but they don’t tolerate us.  Where to start?

      First off, Kennedy’s a liar and a cheat.  Second, he’s got an unholy alliance with the news people.  I couldn’t stand the way he tricked and lied to the people to get their votes when he was nominated and then blatantly and openly betrayed them.  Not only that but the newspeople justified his chicanery as just politics.  Since his election, and there’s people that say that was rigged too, they have been singularly uncritical.  They even treat his failures- really gross imcompetent failures- like the Bay Of Pigs and the Missile Crisis in Cuba- as successes somehow.  Anybody else they’d fry.

      Then they started this Camelot thing- that stupid song The Impossible Dream- as symbolical of some fabulous new era he was inaugurating.  Some kind of Irish King Arthur come again in triumph over the bad Anglo-Saxons.  For Christ’s sake the guy was the Grand Inquisitor- a new Torquemada.  That’s why I say they shot him because he was a Catholic.  Not because he was a member of the Catholic Church but because he acted to enforce the same kind of orthodoxy rather than freedom of conscience.  He thought like a Catholic, he thought like a Pope.  Anyone who didn’t back his program was a heretic.  Not just misinformed or even wrong, but a heretic.  Outside the pale.  There was no room for discussion or another opinion.

     That’s the real reason Americans have never wanted a Catholic president.  The fear was always that he would be more loyal to papal ideas than to the American Constitution.  That’s exactly what he did.  That’s what he had to do.  You can only do what is in your brain.  If you think in terms of freedom of conscience then you can’t help but act on the basis of freedom of conscience.  It’s the way your mind is organized.  If you think in terms of orthodoxy and heresy then you cannot help but act that way.  You must act out your education, your brain is organized to think that way.  You can’t will such thoughts out of your mind.  Kennedy was Catholic; he was orthodox and if you didn’t agree with him you were a heretic.  I’ve been living in fear for four years.

     You never understood why I got so upset about General Walker- you remember him- they were grooming him as the conservative presidential opposition, but, at the time I thought it was that they were imitating the Russians in saying anyone who didn’t agree with them was crazy.  That wasn’t it.  They weren’t imitating the Commies; the Commies and the Catholic Church treated the problem of freedom of conscience in the same way.  If you’re not orthodox you’re a heretic or, as the Commies put it, you’re insane.  Same thing.  So what does Kennedy do?  Since the newsboys are his dogs they portray General Walker as being insane.  They destroyed him with stupid pictures that could have been taken of anybody.  Walker was an American.  He just disagreed with them which was his God given American right.  But Kennedy said:  If you’re with us you’re OK; if not, you’re insane.’

     I couldn’t explain my reaction at the time.  Then, right after that, they announced that they were going to let the crazy people out of the asylums and establish a house on every block where the crazies would have to report.  You didn’t take that serious either but all that meant was that if you weren’t orthodox you would be crazy and everyone in the neighborhood would know it.  That way the opposition would be isolated and rendered ineffective.  They were crazy.  You would have to go along with the program or else.  Very Jesuitical.  The Spanish Inquisition would then be established in America.

      You know who the busybodies are that would have empowered.  No, I’ve been living in fear and that’s gone.  I’m not for killing people but now that it’s done it’s the best thing that could have happened to the country.  I’m glad.  The son-of-a-bitch deserved it.  I could never be orthodox.  Anyway that’s why they killed him because he was a Catholic inquisitor.  Not because he was a member of the Chruch but because he wanted to install the inquisitorial attitude over that of freedom of conscience.  The Inquisition is part and parcel of Catholicism.’

       ‘Oh, they just arrested the guy.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Who?’  Dewey asked, who had already guessed the course of events.

     ‘Some guy named Oswald.  Lee Harvey Oswald.  Oh, wow, I guess you were wrong Dewey.  He’s a Communist.’

     ‘A Communist, huh?  Boy, that’s convenient, isn’t it?  Next thing they’ll say Khruschev sent him.’

     ‘He was in Russia for a while.  Left here, went there and then came back.’

     ‘What’d they say they picked him up a mile or so from this book store where they think the shot came from?  How’d they know it was him?  Did he just look like the kind of guy who would shoot a president?  Now, that’s rigged; too convenient.  I’ll bet they kill him before he ever gets a chance to say anything.

     No.  No Communist did it.  Why would they want him dead?  He was giving them everything they wanted.  He was just a big talking back peddler.  Did you ever read about their father, Joseph P. Kennedy?  I mean, Jack’s not the first one they got; they killed his first son, Joseph Jr. during the war.  the Old Man has lots of enemies.  The guy’s a crook.

     He makes his fortune during prohibition in the liquor business.  Gives him the advantage of having connections on both sides of the law, I guess.  Twice as many places to make enemies.  So after prohibition he tries to go legit.  He even gets the Superdip, Roosevelt, to make him ambassador to England.  Roosevelt sends an Irish Catholic as ambassador to Protestant England.  So what does Kennedy do?  As an Irishman he hates the English so he’s pro-Nazi and openly anti-Semitic.  Boy, the soul of descretion.  England’s at war with Germany and Hitler’s killing millions of Jews and this guy’s a pro-Nazi and anti-Semite ambassador to England.

     So, at this point, it’s not who doesn’t like this guy but who does?  Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. is a flier.  He has a mission to fly over Germany.  Just like Jack people tell him not to fly because he wont’ come back.  He flies it anyway.  What happens?  His plane blows up just after take off.  Nazis got him, right?  Maybe the load wasn’t properly balanced.

     Anyway the warning was clear.  Joe Sr. wasn’t welcome in society.

      Look at the place he lives, a compound.  The whole family has to live behind a fence.  They need a lot of security.  Why?  Because a lot of people must want to see them dead.  Who lives behind walls?  Criminals and orphans, that’s who.  The Kennedys weren’t orphans.  So he’s told to lay low and he makes his son the first Irish Catholic president of the United States.  Who wanted to kill Jack Kennedy?   Lots of people.  Probably if they discovered who killed Joe Jr. they might discover who killed Jack.  And if Bobby knows what’s good for him he’ll lie low too.  Cause if he runs for president they’ll kill him too.’

      The world doesn’t stop, not even for dead presidents.  Dewey was out looking for a job the next day.  He returned home to turn on the evening news.  What to his wondering eyes should appear but the assassination of the supposed assassin.  Who shot Lee Harvey Oswald?  The super-patriot, Jack Ruby.

      ‘Well, imagine that.’  Dewey said to Angeline.  ‘Imagine that.  A Jewish low life criminal shot Oswald.  If you don’t dislike him because he’s Jewish you can hate him because he’s a criminal.  Now, watch this, if Ruby doesn’t die of food poisoning or some such, they’ll certify him as insane so they can discredit whatever he says.  Jeez, this is embarrassing.

     But, what do I care?  I’ve got to get a job, we’ve got to pay the rent.’

Chaper III

Living Water In A Stagnant Pool

      If Dewey hadn’t realized it before he now quickly grasped that he was not going to be referred to top flight companies or even good jobs.  He saw that he was never referred to a single major company of which, it goes without saying, San Francisco was full of.  The realization gradually dawned on him that he had been demoted from the first rank of employability.

     None of the agencies would tell him so but as he saw inferior people sent out on interviews denied him he had to alter his attitude.  Talking did him no good; thus when he was handed an address with a shrug of the shoulders that said:  You can have this or nothing, he accepted the interview.

      He was sent to a mortgage banking firm called Lowell, Smith and Evers.  Mortgage banking firms contracted with lenders to manage their properties.  The big money was still in the East.  The terrific expansion in California was financed by them.  In California entire cities were thrown up overnight or so it seemed.  When the City of Fremont consolidated its five burgs an entire metropolis sprouted within a few years.  Giant tracts of hundreds of house were financed from back East.

     In order to sell the houses quickly the builders took in anyone whatever his qualifications.  Thus the first few years of a tract was a sorting out process.  Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t meet their payments were eliminated to be replaced by those who could or would.  The result of such building and selling was chaotic.  The mortgage banking firms in an attempt to keep the deliquencies low hired people to go in and bully the mortgagees into paying.  This is the job destined for Dewey.

     Dewey considered himself an accountant.  He wasn’t.  He didn’t even have an inclination for it.  Even in Jr. College night school he veered away from business courses as soon as he thought he had enough, which was too soon by far.

     He saw this job for what it was; an undesirable position which could only be filled by the desperate.  He was aware that he wasn’t going to make it in a highly structured office.  He’d been in three now.  He’d been a social success in none of them.  Further, he knew it was impossible for him to be a social success; he was too unbending in his moral views.  He couldn’t tolerate the petty thieving that formed the basis of that society.  He worked too hard; wanted to get ahead too much and didn’t realize that socializing was more important that working hard.  He was too deficient in office politics.  He was in a quandary.

     If Lowell, Smith and Evers was a step down for Dewey he was a prize to them.  He was much better than what they usually got.   Whatever else was said about him he never missed work nor was he ever late.  He dressed well, talked and acted knowledgeably.

      He was interviewed by Bill Masters to whom he would be responsible.  Art Carson sat in on the interview.  As Dewey never saw Carson again he never learned his function.  It was apparent from the beginning that he was going to get the job.  Masters was selling hard, Dewey was a plum to him.  Dewey was against the wall; he had to accept.

      The financial terms were quite good although the job would lead nowhere.  Four hundred eighty was a good salary  for the time plus he was given a ’63 Chevy to drive which was always in his possession.  That was probably worth a hundred dollars a month extra.  Still he was acutely aware that he’d not only been exiled but cast out.

     He took his exclusion as a door closed.  There was no way back in.  He did not take it as a reflection on himself.  If the others thought little of him he thought less of them.  For him to have felt rejected he would have had to have respected the others.  He didn’t find them admirable; he found them contemptible.  Still, they occupied the citadel and he didn’t.

     At work the next morning Masters introduced him to his cicerone, Darby Ramme.  Ramme was another plum for Lowell, Smith and Evers.  As incredible as it may sound Ramme was a graduate of Stanford University, a year younger than Dewey.  He was only five-eight but he had a cheerful, bright countenance.  Stocky and bouncy he had an open and direct manner which belied his sneaky and malignant self.

     As yet unaware of his negative side Dewey thought that they might become friends.  This was not to be as Darby had a rather exalted notion of himself.  What flaw in his character led him to this job was difficult to discern.  Darby had majored in Political Science at Stanford.  College education in America is little more than vocational training thus upon graduating Darby found that he had a BS degree and no vocational training.  The only jobs available to him were sales jobs.

     Darby expected better having his sights on rising to the presidency of, perhaps a bank.  He was of good family, got a degree from one of the top universities within the alloted four year period, looked good and had excellent manners.  He was brutally disappointed.  He was compelled to accept a job selling coffee in Chicago.  The job paid well but was a terrific blow to Darby’s pride.  He was a Stanford graduate and here he was going from supermarket to supermarket having to talk to managers respectfully who maybe or maybe not hadn’t graduated from high school even.  Darby felt, rightly or wrongly, that their manners were atrocious.  He very likely was right.  He also suspected that to be accepted he would have to jettison his own excellent manners and adopt theirs.  He was probably right about that, too.  His mind revolted at the idea. 

     Darby didn’t actually have to stock the shelves himself, but even going into the markets, having to greet the clerks and all; it was a shattering blow to his self-esteem.  Not to mention that as a West Coast boy he hated Chicago.

     Darby chucked it all, came back West to take a job dunning delinquent mortgagees at Lowell, Smith and Evers.  Dewey sympathized with Darby but as he soon found out, he was placed in a class beneath the supermarket managers.  Darby had made a positive impression on Dewey which he now destroyed.  Dewey turned his back on him.

     Where he had listened attentively he now became critical.  Darby gave him much to criticize.  Darby’s psychological reaction to his coffee job was to work at Lowell, Smith and Evers so he could work off his frustration on the mortgagees.  He carried on vendettas with them.  In addition he spent half his time spying on the junior collector.

     The job was an emotionally tough one.  The mortgagees hated you.  They were openly resentful.  If you were susceptible, the treatment could be very demoralizing.  It had been to the fellow Dewey replaced.  He had been unable to perform the work.  Darby had tracked him down to a movie theater one afternoon.  The delighted joy Darby related in catching him and having him sacked offended Dewey.

     Darby explained the job to Dewey:  ‘We’re dealing with a lot of deadbeats.  These people just don’t want to pay their rent.’  He said, with obvious relish.  ‘So our job is simply to remind them that they haven’t made two monthly payments.   We don’t collect anything; we don’t take any checks; we just tell them they haven’t paid.  That happens after the tenth of the second month.

     The company manages thousands of houses all over Northern California but expecially here in the Bay Area.  On the eleventh of each month we get a stack of computer cards of the delinquent mortgagees and then we go to work.

     The Bay is divided into several areas.  Right from the start, no arguments, I get Contra Costa.’

      ‘Concord, Walnut Creek and all that?  You can have it.  I don’t like it out there.  Too dry and hot for me.’

     ‘All right.  You get Santa Clara County and Tropicana Village.  You get the East Bay and I get the Peninsula.’

      Stanford is on the Peninsula.

     ‘Wait a minibite.  You live in Berkeley so I can see why you want Contra Costa County but the East Bay’s a natural for you.  I live in Marin…’

      ‘You live in Marin?  County?  Really?  That’s a nice area, I wouldn’t have thought that.’

     ‘Uh huh.  We like it.’  Dewey said resenting the implication that he wouldn’t live in a nice area.  Dewey began to think there was more to fine manners than just manners.

      ‘I live in Marin,’  Dewey continued, ‘so why don’t I take Marin and Sonoma, the Peninsula and Santa Clara.  You can have the rest, which isn’t much.’

     ‘No.  I’ll take Contra Costa, Marin and the Peninsula and you can have the rest.’

     The question was moot to Dewey.  He just wanted to show he couldn’t be pushed around.  Within a couple months he would end up with everthing except Contra Costa County itself anyway.

     ‘All right, why don’t you go home for the day.  Come in tomorrow.  We’ll get organized and I’ll start showing you the ropes.’

Chapter IV

Lunch Without Nourishment

     Capt. Douglas now lived in fear of exposure.  His feeling of guilt was immense.  The extent of the corruption he controlled was virtually worldwide.  It involved dozens of people in the home office, Japan, Indonesia and Peru.  Douglas was negotiating for Chinese crews from Hong Kong for which the amount of graft was even greater.  Even if he didn’t go to jail his loss of prestige would kill him.

     The Old Sea Dog’s connections in the sleazy maritime world would be destroyed as well as the reputation he was busily constructing in San Francisco society.  His own vision of himself as an international mastermind would vanish like smoke on the water.  His carefully cultivated facade of respectability would look like a bad con job. He would no longer be a fixture at the brokerage house that Charles Schwab was establishing just down the street.

     His guilt drove him to deplorable lengths.  His fears were baseless.  Trueman had no intention of making a fuss.  Capt. Douglas’ criminality, if Dewey had suspected it, was no concern of his.  It was bad enough that he had lost a good job.  It was worse that his future had been made uncertain.

     What could Dewey hope to achieve by accusing Douglas?  There was no case for the police.  The situation was beyond their concern or even jurisdiction.  Dewey might go to the parent company, Marcona Mining, but what would that effect:  They would undoubtedly consider him sour grapes because he hadn’t been able to cut it if they they weren’t in on it.  Was Douglas afraid of blackmail?  No, Dewey had nothing to warrant suspicion for interfering with Douglas.  It was simply that Dewey knew and by knowing prevented Douglas from glossing over his crime to himself.  He couldn’t give it another name; he stood exposed to himself for what he really was- a thief.

     The Kennedy assassination set a train of thought in motion that made murder a viable solution to dilemmae.  Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King would be eliminated as political problems over the next few years.  People were murdered on all social levels.  Richard Speck and Charlie Whitman would appear in the summer of ’66.  The Zebra killings shortly thereafter.  Serial murderers became commonplace.  Had this been the seventies Dewey would undoubtedly have had an accident.  He might have been run down by a car going the wrong way down a one way street.  Perhaps a brick might have fallen on his head as he walked down the street.

     Or perhaps, once the Black Zebra killer started shooting White people in drive by shootings on street corners, Dewey might have been dispatched by  a hired Black thug.  A mugging, innumerable ruses could have been employed.  But this was 1963.  America had not yet been turned into a nation of murderers who solved their problems with guns and bombs. Or even insane weirdos like George Carlin who advocated gunning down anyone who disagreed with you on his TV show.

     So long as Dewey remained in San Francisco he remained visible evidence of Capt. Douglas’ guilt.  In the Captain’s eyes an honest Dewey remained a symbol of Douglas’ dishonesty.

     At present Douglas saw no way to expel Dewey from the City, but perhaps he could reduce Dewey’s moral superiority beneath his by inducing Dewey to commit a crime and actually go to prison.  Douglas thought that then his status would be restored in his own mind.

     Dewey turned up for work the next day.  Darby Ramme whiled away the morning showing Dewey some of the ropes.  Dewey was a quick learner, he was able to readily understand things.  This disturbed Darby whose need for superiority required less intelligent people not more.  Like all such people in such circumstances he had becoma an obscurantist.  He gave out conflicting explanations to as to confuse issues allowing himself to appear superior as he had to explain details over again.

     Dewey who had been dealing with difficult accounting problems for three years saw through the whole thing.  He just patiently let Darby go through his paces.  When lunchtime came Darby, to show his disdain for Dewey, airly dismissed him to have lunch by himself as it appeared it would be beneath Darby’s dignity to lunch with him.

     Dewey had no problem with this.  Darby had revealed his identity to Trueman.  If Darby didn’t like him, he was not offended.  As he saw it Darby had started with all the advantages.  If a guy with a degree from Stanford could sink from a job selling coffee to supermarkets to badgering mortgagees for payment then that meant to Dewey that the guy had nothing going for him.  He wasn’t offended by Darby’s attitude.

     Other problems concerned him; he believed, not incorrectly, that he was being exiled from San Francisco.  He found San Francisco a delightful, pleasant place.  It hurt him to be kicked out.  True, he would report in every Monday for news and assignments but that was no compensation at all.

     As he considered this his last day in Baghdad By The Bay he wanted to make the most of his lunch hour.  There was a little hamburger bar down on Kearny and Market that he had found while working at STC.  The place was run by a North Beach Italian guy who really knew how to cook a hamburg.  With a heart full of nostalgia for a lost paradise, Dewey walked up Market to Kearny.

     Capt. Douglas had not let him out of his sight.  He had known Dewey had gotten the job almost before Dewey.  As the job was a serious demotion from what Dewey had been doing the employment agencies believed they had done their job; he had been removed from socially acceptable employment.   Captain Douglas was still not content.

     When Dewey had gotten the job he realized that he would not be content to merely have Dewey out of town.  Dewey had to be a lower criminal than himself.  As said before the Captain had friends on the waterfront.  ‘Captain’ was not an honorary title for Douglas, he had commanded ships at sea for twenty years before assuming the presidency of Ocean Services.  He knew corruption as only those who have worked the waterfronts of the world can know corruption.  He had been complicit if for no other reason than if he hadn’t he would never have had a cooperative crew.  Accidents would have happened; thing just wouldn’t have gone well for him.

     Thus having conceived his plan he had no trouble finding an agent to implement it.  As Dewey was a dutiful husband and respectable citizen abjuring the nightlife where he would have been more vulnerable the Captain would have to catch him on the fly.

     As Dewey left his building his Shadow followed his movements.  At that time lower Market was a semi-slum.  All the condos and modernization was yet to begin.  The streets were virtually deserted at any time of day.  As soon as Dewey entered the diner a phone call was made and the plan was put in operation.  The Shadow stationed himself outside the diner on the curb to keep control of the situation. 

     Dewey had eaten there many times while at STC.  Jim Solieri who owned and operated the place knew him at sight.  He was interested in Dewey but had never struck up a conversation.  But as Dewey hadn’t been around for a couple months he thought he would have a chat.

      A peculiarity of Solieri’s place was that he refused to make french fries.  As some form of compensation he always placed a couple Italian pepperoncini on the plate.  Pepperoncini are not hot peppers but it is necessary to cultivate a taste for them.  For a while Dewey had disdainfully left them lying on the plate.  But then one day by some magic of the chemistry between pepperoncini, the hamburg and his taste buds the little peppers had really hit the spot.  From that point on Dewey had asked for seconds; he even bought a jar for home.

     Today he took a big bite from his hamburg, following it with one of his two pepperoncini with obvious relish.

     ‘I remember when you sneered at those things.’  Solieri offered.  ‘Now look at you, can’t get enough.  I knew you’d come around.’  He flipped a couple more on Dewey’s plate.  ‘Haven’t seen you for a little while.’

     ‘No.  I had to get another job.  Haven’t been in the area.’

     ‘Another job, huh?’  Solieri said appraising Dewey from another point of view.

     ‘Yeh.’ Dewey said ruefully.  ‘Be my third in little over a year.  Fourth in three years.  Damn.’

     ‘I know what you mean.  Been there myself.  Maybe you’re just not the corporate type.’

      ‘Maybe.  But, you know, what am I going to do.  I mean, you know, I’m somebody too.  I’m at least as good as they are, maybe better.  I gotta lotta talent, I think, abilities, you know, I don’t want to get left behind.  You can dig that, I suppose.’

     ‘I can.  And I’m not putting you down, as you can see I’m flippin’ burgers.  Of course, I own the stand.’  He added defensively.  ‘Didn’t start out that way.  I used to be like you.  Don’t know what it is but I just didn’t fit in.  I’m thirty.  Went from job to job, no offense and I’m guessing, but just like you they kept getting worse and worse until I couldn’t stand it anymore.  So I went off on my own.  Started a nice little Italian restaurant.  Good food, well prepared, nice place.  But, you know, I just couldn’t manage the employees.  Like a lot of guys I thought that employees acted up because they had bad bosses.  Well, I’m a good guy so I didn’t think I ‘d have any trouble.  Boy, was I wrong.  You give ’em an inch and they’ll take the whole hundred yards.  Any boss is their enemy; they just resent working for anybody.  In point of fact you gotta know how to be tough to make them do their work.

     How much detail you want?  As you can see this is a one man operation’

     ‘Really, huh?  Well, um, do you make enough money here.’

     ‘How much is enough?  I do OK.  You’d be surprised what kind of profit a place like this can turn out.  But, no, I don’t make enough.  I live comfortably but frugally.’  Solieri was actually cheap.  ‘Invest as much as I can.  Done OK there.  So if I keep it up by the time I’m fifty I should be OK.  Just in case I reach fifty.  But, you dig, I have to work for myself.  You might have to do the same.’

     ‘Might have to do something.’  Dewey said reflectively.  Notions were already circulating through his mind as he apprehensively viewed the blight placed on his career.  But as he wished to raise himself in his own estimation as well as the world’s his thoughts gravitated more toward attainments in the scholarly world.  He aspired more to the dignity of the college professor than the merchant prince.

     ‘You’ve got a good thing going here but I think I’d rather get a PhD and be a college professor.’

     Solieri smiled indulgently:  ‘How much chance is there for that?’

     ‘Well, I don’t know.  I’m going to night school at Junior College.’  Dewey confessed, naively raising a silent laugh from Solieri.  ‘I’d have to find a way.  Don’t have one now.’

     ‘So, you learning anything in Junior College?’  Solieri asked sarcastically.

     ‘Oh, sure, hard to believe you’re getting anywhere sometimes but it’s all required classes so what do you do?  I read a lot on my own, too.’

 

     ‘Oh yeah?  You got any great wisdom you can share.’  Solieri was one of those who considered books one of the worst things in the world.

     ‘Well, I’ve got a theory on the origins of the solar system you might like.’

     ‘Sure, shoot.’

     ‘Um.  You ever heard of a guy called Immanuel Velikovsky- ‘Worlds In Collision?’

     ‘I saw the movie.’

     Dewey laughed:  ‘Naw, that was ‘When World’s Collide.’  Good movie though.  No.  Velikovsky’s got some pretty weird ideas.  Hard to believe a lot of it.  But he makes an issue between the gasseous planets like the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn and the five rocky inner planets.’

     ‘Only four aren’t there.’

     ‘He includes the asteroid belt as an exploded planet.  To explain the rocky planets he thinks that a live intelligence ejected them from Jupiter.  Well, I don’t think there’s live intelligence on Jupiter but I think it’s possible that the planets were ejected by natural causes.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  How’s that?’

     ‘Well, I’ve never heard a good explanation where the gaseous planets or the rocky planets came from except that the solar system was once a huge swirling mass of gas that formed the three gaseous planets but you have to take the view that all matter is one.  For instance, the Sun the Earth and Jupiter although they exhibit different external characteristics are all made of this same material.  The external differences are only the result of size and gravity.  The sun being huge, the gravitational force pressing in on the center makes it incandescent.

     Jupiter being very large but nowhere near as large as the sun must have a core that is more than molten but less than incandescent so that the heat produced combined with gravity vaporizes its outer matter into various densities of gases.  OK?’

     ‘Yeah, I’m following you.’

     ‘Now, the Earth being smaller yet has a molten core but the gravitational pressure in relation to its size allows the exterior layers to cool forming a crust.  So all three are of identical composition but different form.

      So, if that’s clear then your next problem is how the planet got here from Jupiter.  Like I say, Jupiter has various layers of gases moving, I hypothesize, at different speeds.  So, as these various layers rub together globules of solid matter form, kind of like a pearl in an oyster.  When they get large enough they are ejected by centrifugal force.  Like, there’s actually an asteroid belt on either side of Jupiter.  Why would a planet explode on either side of Jupiter and nowhere else?  So, I don’t think these are exploded planets but smaller ‘pearls’ ejected over the eons.

     Really big ‘pearls’ are developed and they were ejected with enough velocity to enter the sun’s gravitational pull where they find orbits far from Jupiter.  Probably the moon was ejected too but was captured within Earth’s gravitational pull.  It’s supposed to be moving slowly further from Earth so probably the Sun’s attraction is greater than Earth’s.  So what do you think?’  Dewey asked, fearing a burst of derisive laughter.

     ‘Not bad.  Not bad.  I don’t know whether it’s true of course.  But it’s at least  as good as the cosmic dust theory I’ve heard.’

     ‘Oh yeah.  That’s the official scientific theory, that the solar system was filled with dust and then the dust particles were attracted to each other bonding into ever bigger agglomerations until the rocky planets as we know them were formed.  Hard for me to believe too.  Sure hope the magnetic polarity isn’t reversed or we’ll all become comets.’

     ‘One problem though, so why isn’t their life on Mars or Venus?’

     ‘Oh, Venus probably because it’s too close to the sun, way too hot.  Although since it’s about the same size as Earth it should have a molten core.  Mars is too small for a molten core to sustain itself.  Probably just warmish in the center.  Same with the moon.’

     ‘Sounds like you really thought that one out.’  Solieri began when a Beatnik type burst through the door.  He was the agent from Capt. Douglas.  The two best ways to destroy a man’s reputation are sex and drugs.  If it’s possible to project a man as a homosexual he will lose all credibility.  For that reason the charge of homosexuality is projected on nearly all great men from Caesar and Napoleon on down.  Great men can survive the charge, lesser men may not be able to do so.  The charge of drugs destroys a man’s respectability entirely.  When a man is free of either curse then the possibility of entrapping him in overt acts or the appearance of such acts exists.  A charge of homosexuality would reduce Trueman to a station far below that of Captain Douglas, allowing him to reassert his own sense of dignity.  A charge of drugs which at that time meant marijuana or heroin would result in a prison sentence, especially if Capt. Douglas came forward to put the bug in the ear of the police with his claim of theft.  Capt. Douglas would do anything to reclaim his self-esteem.

     As far fetched as his plan may appear, more far out plans have been attempted and succeeded.  There is only one thing that can protect a person from the assaults of stalkers and that is character.  Things happen so fast and come from such unsuspected quarters that only a firm set of ideals can save one.

     The guy who had burst through the door was Job Seth, the agent of the agent selected by Capt. Douglas to place temptation in Dewey’s path.  Having made Trueman his enemy Capt. Douglas had assigned what to him was the most despicable character he could think of- a Beatnik- a hipster.  Douglas who was dapper nineteenth century style with a pencil thin mustache from the thirties projected the lifestyle on his opposite member- the Beatnik- on Dewey.

     Job Seth was of course an imposter.  His impersonation of a Beatnik was hilarious.  Not being part of the culture he chose as his role models the Maynard Ferguson character from the Dobie Gillis TV show and Jughead from the Archie comic book series.  He didn’t wear Jughead’s beanie but he mussed his hair up for the disheveled Beatnik look.  But he was careless so that it was easy to see that a single combing would give him a conventional appearance.  He had on the black vest, the horizontally striped T-shirt, black and white, and a dark pair of baggy cotton pants actually secured be a rope for a belt.  He wore the obligatory Beatnik sandals with the wide leather straps and studs.  But, not only was he wearing socks but they were socks no self-respecting Beatnik would own, the black ribbed knee stocking of the middle class employee.  Even as the bell was still jangling above the door both Dewey and Jim Solieri exchanged an amused and knowing smile.

     ‘Check this out.’  Solieri said from the corner of his mouth.

     ‘Seth wasn’t clear as to which diner was his target.  He first rushed to a diner at a side table, looking out the window at Dewey’s shadow for confirmation.  The man shook his head and pointed at Dewey.  Both Dewey and Solieri caught the motions.  They gave each other signficant glances.

      There was a stool empty beside Dewey.  Seth rushed over in what he thought was the best hipster style plunking himslef down leaning bodily against Dewey.

     ‘Hey, man.’

     Dewey shoved him over. 

     ‘Hey, man.  Didja hear me?’  He said leaning over the counter so as to look directly in Dewey’s face.

     ‘You talking to me?’

     ‘Hey, man, like, I’m looking ya right in the eye, ain’t I, man.’

     ‘Say what and git.’

     ‘Like, don’t get sharp, man.  Like, maybe I got something to say you might want to hear.  Be cool.’

      ‘I’m so cool ice cream wouldn’t melt in my hand, man, but, like, you know, like this, I’ve got my own thing going.  Somehow you’re not part of it.  So, buzz off.’

     Solieri interrupted:  ‘What’ll ya have?’

     ‘Hey, don’t bug me, man.   Like, I’m talking to this guy here.  Alright?  What’s your name, man?’

     ‘You can call me Jack, Joe.’  Dewey said, realizing he’d have to humor this guy until he finished his hamburg or just leave it.  His situation wasn’t so prosperous he could just get up and leave it.

     ‘Like, man, like what do you think of this Viet Nam war thing.’  Seth said, launching into what he considered a hep topic which he projected as a major concern of Dewey’s.

     ‘Little.’  Dewey replied, hoping to shuck Job off.  Out of the corner of his eye he was watching the Shadow who stood in rigid attention leaning forward on his toes.

     ‘Aw, man, how about the way Diem treats those Buddhist monks.  Disgraceful.  You call that freedom?  So bad they have to pour gasoline on themselves and burn to cinders.  Huh, man?’

     ‘Yeah, well, like they better pray the Commies don’t get them or they’ll find out what.  Did you ever notice there aren’t any monks in North Viet Nam?  I wonder why.’

     ‘Yeah, man, well, maybe you’re right.  Why trouble your head about some gooks.  We got problems right here, right.  I mean, like, good thing there’s some escape routes, right?’

     Dewey was munching fast on his hamburg, in a hurry to get away.  He tried to ignore him.  Job grabbed his arm, Dewey pulled away.’

     ‘Like, what I got is something you won’t ever have to worry again.’

     Dewey was down to a couple bites glancing at Solieri who was staring down at Seth with a contemptuous glare.

     Seth leaned over whispering into Dewey’s ear:  ‘I got a couple high tension reefers in my pocket.  Let’s go up to my place and ingest ’em.  My old lady and her girl friend are waiting.  Come on, man, let’s go, you ain’t got nothing better to do.’

     ‘You’re right I don’t have anything better to do but I gotta go to work.’  Dewey said, washing down his last bite with a slug of coffee.  ‘Late already.  Gotta go.’  He waved to Solieri.

      ‘Hey man, don’t be square, be cool like me.’  Job yelled.

     ‘I’m too cool to fool pal.  See ya around.’

     Dewey’s shadow had disappeared as Dewey emerged into the street.  The Captain’s rather far fetched plan had been to give Dewey the two numbers and let him into an apartment where a naked eight year old boy waited.  The police would burst in immediately leaving Dewey with a lot of fast talking to do.

     As Dewey hurried back he passed a drug store with one of those columns of mirrors on all four sides.  A sullen, morbid face met his.  He started back in disgust then realized that he was looking at his own reflection.

     He was quite startled because for a moment he had seen the image that he was projecting to others.  His conscious image of himself was nowhere apparent.  Instead the face that he had been given by his tormentors stared back at him.  Seth had activiated the morbid loathing of Dewey’s subconscious self.  Of the two Dewey’s, the worst, was what people were seeing, the bright cheerful Dewey was not visible.

     Trying not to be conspicuous Dewey took a  moment to brighten up his countenance and tried to stroll back nonchalantly rather then aggressively marching.

     Rather than going out as promised Darby dinked the afternoon away then told Dewey to meet him the next morning at his house in Berkeley.

Chapter 5

The Medium Is The Message

And The Mediator Is Its Prophet

      Dewey got up on the San Rafael Bridge for the drive to Berkeley and his appointment with Darby Ramme.  The sight of himself in the mirror on the previous day had had an unsettling effect on himself.  He knew the poisons that had entered his mind from childhood.  He knew how potent they were and he knew where they came from but he couldn’t identify the fixation of his life hidden behind a massive wall of fear.

     Dewey was aware that his actions were controlled from his subconscious.  He was perpetually at war with himself trying to impose his conscious rational goals on his subconscious opinion of himself; an opinion that had been imposed on him from outside evil forces.  In the terms of hypnosis, the suggestions given him.  The evil force of ill-wishers and his mother.

     The evil forces had inundated his youthful consciousness.  He had been too young to reject or manage their influence.  He had been trying to break free since he left home at eighteen and realized the hole he had been placed in.  He had actually made wonderful progress but he had begun from such a low level that his progress was scarcely discernible to himself, let alone others.

     Dewey had never sought professional help but he had taken to reading various tracts of Freud.  His understanding of Freud was that the individual himself was sick, that is, that the pathology came from within.  It seemed that Freud believed that the individual was responsible for his own malaise.  Dewey didn’t think that was necessarily so.  This was tantamount in his mind to saying that a small fish gulped down by a larger fish had the fish eating disease.  To Dewey this ignored the Field itself as well as the fact that the smaller fish obviously was not prepared to face the dangers inherent in the Field.  Properly informed the smaller fish would have been able to avoid the larger fish.  No, Dewey knew he was an innocent man.  He knew that he was responding to something that had been done to him but he didn’t know what.

     He had come to terms with his mother’s contribution to his malaise.  As far as he knew there was nothing in their relationship subconsciously concealed.  He did not love or respect her.  He considered that the crimes she had committed against him were the result of ignorance.  She just wasn’t a responsible mother, not every woman can be.  All women have the physical apparatus to become mothers but not all women have the emotional requirements to actually mother a child.  As someone put it:  Some girls just want to have fun.  That had been Dewey’s mother.

     She had been a silly woman.  She had never understood the worthlessness of men.  Rather than devote herself to her two sons who should have been her treasures she was always willing to sacrifice their interests for men who had no respect for her.  Miserable luck to have gotten her, Dewey thought, but the luck of the draw.

     Of the two influences he was most concerned with those who had given him his face and his body language.  He had somehow to eliminate their influence.  He could not, under any circumstances, allow them to triumph over him by accepting the character they had tried to impose.  Unable to free up his subconscious he could only resort to Emile Coue’s autosuggestion.  Suggest to yourself a course of behavior and then let your mind bring your actions in line with your wishes.

     As he pulled up in front of Darby’s house he was a little disappointed.  The Bay Area, especially Berkeley, was filled with romantic, quaint, secluded houses and apartments.  Dewey’s flat in Larkspur was one such, nestled against the hillside of Mt. Tamalpais.  Darby lived on one of the those straight avenues well West of the California campus.

     The street was all rentals, filled either with students or the innumerable campus hangers on.  Darby was in the latter class.  Unable to accept the consequences of his graduation and the disappointment of his first job Darby had retreated to the security of the college atmosphere where he had done so well and found so much contentment and happiness.  In so many words, he had retreated to the security of the womb.

     Luckily there was a parking space right in front of the house.  Dewey eased his big ’56 two tone green Chrysler into the space.  The used car salesman had had a field day with him.

     Dewey often wondered why he had bought the car, other than that he needed a car, of course.  It didn’t seem to represent him at all.  It might have been that he had been a push over for the salesman but, no, he had been drawn to the car.  Consciously he would have chose a ’56 Chevy, he really did love the ’56 designs.  The ’56 Chevy was a fantastically good looking car.  He had always loved the extravagant two tone coloring of the year.  The Chrysler had a light green top with a dark green body.  Like all the cars of that year it had enormous fins.  Perhaps that was it.  The Chrysler had fins that swelled up from the body like the belly of a reclining woman from the Mound of Venus.  An additional echo of the motif was repeated in a quiet reverberation contained within the two strips of chrome.  The light green of this strip across the dark green of the body was enclosed in a graceful swell of chrome strips repeating the swell of the fin of the fender.  Perhaps Dewey had been seduced into buying a sexy car.

      Not least of the subconscious appeal had been the Chrysler ads of those years in which a busty woman opened the driver’s side door and thrust her enormous breasts into the viewer’s face.  The ads had certainly gotten the attention of the male population of the country.  Anyway the car was a good buy; it had never given him any trouble.

     Darby let him into the house.  The place was done up in admirable minimalist taste.  Not what Dewey had expected.  Maybe there was something in the location of the place he didn’t know about.  On a table sat a bowl with what looked like a couple dozen aspirin tablets in it, blue on one side.

     ‘What are those?’  Dewey asked curiously thinking that they couldn’t be candy.

     ‘Oh, you can have one if you want.’  Darby said with a mischievious smile.

     Darby’s wife, Selene, bustled busily into the room.  She was a very attractive tall slender woman.  She had a very superior attitude as they all did.

     After introducing them Darby said mysteriously:  ‘See. Didn’t I tell you so.’

     Selene muttered something, then banged out the door.

     Dewey and Darby followed.  The company had given Darby a ’64 Chevy to drive.

     ‘Is that your car?’  Darby said pointing to the Chrysler.  I wouldn’t have thought it.’  He said to Dewey’s reply.

     ‘I wouldn’t have either.’  Dewey replied, himself mystified by his choice.  As he spoke an image of a laughing big busted woman thrusting her bosom from behind the wheel flashed through his mind.  The ad had apparently imprinted itself on Dewey’s mind because he would buy Chrysler products the rest of his life as the image flashed across his mind.

     ‘I’m from Chevy country,’  Dewey continued, nevertheless looking at Darby’s Chevy disapprovingly, ‘back there they’d string you up for buying anything else.  I hated them.’

     Obviously there was a conflict in Dewey’s mind.  the mind is a funny place to live.  The pain of growing up back in Chevy country had contributed to his rejection of General Motors’ cars.  He always felt vaguely uncomfortable in them.  He sought to remove himself from his past by rejecting Chevys, even though he thought fifties Chevys the best looking cars on the road.  But, heck, Louis Chevrolet couldn’t even pronounce his name right.  He said:  Louie Chevrolay.

     As they headed into the tunnel from Alameda County to Contra Costa County Dewey remembered the pills in the bowl.

     ‘How come you keep aspirin in a bowl in your living room.’  He asked bluntly.

     Darby smiled enigmatically:  ‘Oh, those weren’t just aspirin.’  He tried to change the subject but Dewey brought him back.

     ‘Well, Dewey, there’s a lot happening in the world these days and, well, I think it’s just beyond you.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Well, you offered me one and if I’d taken it, it wouldn’t be beyond me now, would it?’

     ‘I suppose not.’

     ‘It’s gotta be some kind of pill, what is it?’

     ‘Lysergic acid diethymalide.’

     ‘Oh, that’s all.  LSD?’

     ‘You’ve taken it?’  Darby asked incredulously.

     Darby thought he was on the cutting edge.  Even though LSD had been relatively common for at least ten years by 1964, (It was actually isolated in 1938) the academic crowd seemed to believe it had just been discovered.  Dewey now understood at least one of the reasons Darby and his wife believed themselves so superior.  While the Beatniks and Hippies were wallowing in the stuff the college elites treated LSD like a sacrament.  Having once taken it they invariably thought they had been raised above and cut off from the rest of humanity- a new chosen people.  They were amusing to watch if you knew what was happening.

     Darby had gotten his tabs from a psych major, or rather his wife had, who was involved with the experimental program at U.C..  Stanford and Berkeley as well has Harvard had extensive government funding to test the psychological effects of the various pharmaceutical drugs for military applications.  Timothy Leary had been a wild card at Harvard who the system had not been able to control.  Media attention had blown his situation out of all proportion.  It turned that he was only the fall guy.

     ‘No, I’ve never taken it.  I don’t believe in drugs.’  Dewey said.

     ‘How could you possibly know about LSD then.’  Darby asked in wonder.

     ‘What do you mean how could I know about it.  I read TIME magazine for Christ’s sake.  How In do you have to be to do that?  They’ve had big write ups of the Leary guy at Harvard.  How secret can it be?’

     Darby’s pride of place insulated him from what he considered the lower classes.  There was no reason for him to be surprised at Dewey’s knowledge.  ‘You know about Leary, too?’

     ‘Well, Darby, none of this stuff is new.  I wrote an essay on drugs in high school that included a reference to LSD and that was in 1955.  I mean Peyote buttons…’

     ‘How do you know about Peyote?’  The manner in which Darby emphasized ‘you’ offended Dewey.

     ‘Well, Jesus, Darby, I was in the Navy.’

     What’s being in the Navy got to do with it?’

     ‘Jeez, Darby, there were guys into everything.  We had it all- morphine, heroin, speed, peyote buttons, all kinds of little pills that I couldn’t even identify.  I mean, one time I was hitchhiking down on 101 outside San Diego and this Marine from Camp Pendleton picked me up loaded on all kinds of things that he freely offered me.  I refused it, of course.  For Christ’s sake we even had to stop for road blocks between San Diego and LA where they were checking for marijuana smugglers from Mexico.  You should have seen it.  A couple cars even jumped the meridian, turned around and went the other way.  What did they have in their cars, I wonder?

     So, anyway, this Jarhead is telling me about all the drugs they’re using at Pendleton.  He named a whole bunch of stuff, maybe LSD was in it, but he’s telling me about this guy at camp who ingested a whole bunch of Peyote buttons and got way up there, as he said.  Well, the guy thought that was pretty alright so the next time he ingested twice as many.  The driver turns to me with a smile and says:  ‘He’s still up there, he hasn’t come down yet.  Maybe he doesn’t want to.’  Good story, huh?

     The driver himself was loaded.  101 was bumper to bumper, wall to wall that day and this guy is cool and relaxed, he’s just slipping back and forth from lane to lane trying to inch ahead a little faster.  He’s slipping into gaps no bigger than his car.  Everybody on the freeway is staring at us open mouthed.  So, I am, quite seriously, a nervous wreck.  I can see myself a corpse by the side of the highway.  I’m hoping they say something kind in the note they sent to Mom.

     He looks at me with a very benign smile and says:  ‘What’s the matter?  Why are you so nervous?’

     I mean, while he’s looking at me to the right, he slips into a car length gap in the left lane.  Am I nervous?  I am terrified.  So he reaches into his pocket and hands me a black triangular pill.

     ‘Here, take this,’ he says, ‘you’ll feel better.’

     ‘Well, I don’t take it.  The guy was crazy anyhow.  Well, but that’s another story.  But, we had this guy, I used to ride with him up to the Bay Area alot.  He had a car.  He lived in Marin, still does apparently, I saw him, believe it or not, the other day.  He was still loaded.  This guy was a heroin addict, a morphine addict, plus he took everything else there was to take.  Didn’t interfere with his functioning at all.  I’d have been dead.

     I mean, this guy could probably have saved Leary hours of research on LSD or anything else.  He probably tripped from here to the moon before Leary ever heard of LSD.  So, I mean, this stuff is new?’

      Darby was stunned at this difference between the street and the academy.

     ‘How come you haven’t taken it?  It’s awe inspiring.  You can see God.  It’s a tremendous religious experience, a sacrament.’

     ‘Aw, really?  Well, if that’s what you saw, that’s what you saw.  Here’s the catch, there isn’t any God to see.  If you saw him, he was of your own devize.  All you’ll do is mess up your own mind.  You can’t get out of it what isn’t in it, and you can’t put anything in it with a pill.  So, the way I see it you have to organize what’s in it, if you can, then add only the information that’s going to be the most beneficial, if you can, but that’s hard work.’

     ‘You don’t think you can expand your consciousness with drugs?’

     ‘No.  I don’t even know how you can expand your consciousness, whatever that means, unless you mean by adding experience you broaden your understanding.  The only other thing you can hope to do is absorb your subconscious into your conscious; that is to strip away the debris hiding your subconscious motivations from your conscious mind.  Thus instead of being of two minds, you become of one mind.  Beyond that I don’t there’s anything.  Period.’

     Darby had never heard anyone talk this way.  The ‘greatest minds’ of his generation were sold on the efficacy of drugs.

     ‘Have you ever tried any drugs?’  Darby asked caustiously.

     ‘I had something called Nembutal last year when I had a couple wisdom teeth pulled out.  Shouldn’t have done it.’

     ‘Bad trip?’

     ‘No.  I mean the wisdom teeth.  There wasn’t anything wrong with them.  All I did was gratify a dentist’s greed.  Hmmm.  The Nembutal.  No, it wasn’t a bad trip for me.  I might have been for the other patients in the office though.  How so?  Well, man, all my inhibitions went out the window.  I became totally self-centered.  I didn’t respect any social conventions.  I was just looking through people, bobbing and weaving, telling them what was on their minds, explaining them to themselves.  No data, I just knew.  No, I didn’t have a bad trip; I really enjoyed myself, you know, but there wasn’t anything there, no reason to go back, you know what I mean.  You ever read ‘Troubled Sleep?’

     Darby pulled up in front of a house in Concord.  One can only imagine the effect on a housewife when a new white Chevy pulls up and two guys in suits get out holding clipboards and gesticulating toward the house.  It’s amazing that anyone opens the door just because there’s a knock on it.

     Darby’s style was magnificent.  He exuded warmth and compassion while keeping the edge of a threat in the background.  He chatted the woman up with a style Dewey envied.  He explained that there was no problem with Lowell, Smith and Evers that the payment of the rent couldn’t cure.  He inquired about her and her husband’s financial condition.  Oddly enough she told in some detail.  He was affability itself.  Then he admonished her to get the payment in and bid her a cheery adieu. 

     Dewey was astounded.  He couldn’t believe this was the same guy.  Suddenly Dewey realized how uptight he himself really was.  He couldn’t even relax his vocal chords; he barely opened his mouth to speak, releasing his words through clenched teeth.  A wave of admiration rushed from him to Darby.  He would have given his other two wisdom teeth to be so affable.

     ‘Wow. That was terrific.’  He said admiringly.

     ‘Thank-you.’  Darby said with sincerely felt complacency.

     ‘You’ve got to know how to talk to these deadbeats.’  He said with the self-satisfaction of innate superiority.

     ‘Boy, I’ll say.  I don’t know if I can do it like that.’

     ‘Oh, you may be able to learn.  Just watch me.’

     Darby, to put it on the positive side moved deliberately.  On the negative side, as Dewey saw it, he wasted a lot of time.  For the whole morning they only made three calls.  Nor did Darby move systematically or in a straight line.  He seemed to have some mystical way of selecting a card, shuffling though his deck until the right one popped out somehow.  While engaged in this he was lost in absorption.  Dewey sat silently observing him.

     After having driven all over Contra Costa to make the three calls it was time for lunch.

     ‘Why don’t we get a sandwich and drive to the top of Mt. Diablo and enjoy it there?’  Darby asked with the amiability with which he approached ‘deadbeats.’

      ‘You mean go all the way up Diablo to eat lunch?’  Dewey asked incredulously.

     ‘Sure, Dewey.  Great view.  You’ll love it.’

     As Dewey was to learn Darby knew how to make his days as delightful as possible.  He knew the most interesting way everywhere.  He found rusticity in the midst of the concrete Californians love so well; even the concrete took on rustic dimensions when Darby drove through it.  He didn’t even have to point it out to Dewey; it just appeared.  Darby’s whole day was a magic carpet ride; he was just relaxed and paying atttention.  Compared to him Dewey felt as tightly wound as a baseball without a cover.

     Darby drove ten miles to seek out a little deli he had found somewhere in the depths of Concord.  The place was charming, the people were terrific and the sandwiches were unbelievable.  As they walked out Dewey looked back to see nothing that would distinguish the shop.  All he saw was another sandwich shop in another shopping strip.  As he sat in the car he studied the shop trying to see what Darby obviously saw.  He couldn’t see it.

     He studied Darby in a new light as they wound their way up Diablo.  Locating what was apparently his favorite spot, Darby eased the Chevy into a parking space and they sat gazing out over Contra Costa County to the North.

     Diablo is a low mountain rising alone in the middle of Contra Costa.  The county begins in the Oakland hills in the West, bordering the Bay in the North and against the San Joaquin River on the East.  From the relatively lush hills of Walnut Creek it turns into the hot burning desert of Byron.   It was all laid out before them.

      As this was in January the weather outside was frightful but inside the car the radiation from the sun through the windows made it warm and cozy.  Darby was in to the mood to impart lore and instruction.

     From the look on Darby’s face he might as well have been in heaven.  Smiling is not the right word. He, beaming beatifically, so at peace with the world that the notion of unpleasantness didn’t exist for him.  The notion that he was high on LSD didn’t occur to Dewey, but Darby was.  Dewey just thought that he had to learn this attitude.

     Despite his beatific appearance he began the conversation with a ‘deadbeat’ story.  ‘Very few of these deadbeats have a college education.  They’re ignorant people.  They don’t think.  Some of the things we’ve come across are scarcely believable.  There was this fellow in Sacramento.  Never paid.  He let it go to the max every time then caught up.  By max I mean the full six months.  Finally he slipped past the limit and we got to foreclose on him.  Naturally he just abandoned the house.  I’m surprised how many people will do that.  Instead of selling the house, which in nearly every case has appreciated a little, they just walk away.  Not very intelligent.  You wouldn’t believe what this guy did, except that it’s me telling you.  His garage was connected to the house and in order to save money, I suppose, he just opened the kitchen door and chucked the garbage into the garage.  Garbage was piled higher than your head.  The entire garage was full.  Gosh, there were rats as big as beavers.  It cost several hundreds of dollars to haul the stuff away.  You wouldn’t believe how some of these people live.’

     ‘Jeez, I guess I’m about to find out.’

     ‘Uh hum, you sure are.  Now, listen Dewey.’  Darby said in his warm patronizing tone.  ‘We’ll get your car to you tomorrow morning, so take the bus to the office.  One good thing about this job is that, if you’re careful, you’ll never have to buy your own gas.  You can buy gas anytime during the week with no problem.  But never buy on the company credit car on the weekends.  Always fill up the last thing Friday night wherever you’re working and then the first thing on Monday morning.  You’ve got to do it this way or you’ll ruin it for all of us.  If they ever say anything just shrug your shoulders and pretend not to understand.

     One other thing.  Once a year you have to go down to Fresno and again up to Ukiah.  You have to stay overnight.’

     ‘Oh no.’  Interjected Dewey.  ‘I can leave early in the morning and make it back by night.  Neither of those places are that far.’

      ‘No.  No.  You’re not listening to me.  You have to pay at least fifteen dollars for your room.  My first time, with my love of the extraordinary I searched out this place in an old mill by a stream outside Ukiah.  They only wanted a dollar and a half.  I split the difference with them up to fifteen dollars.  You can’t ruin it for the rest of us; you have to do these things this way or else.’

     ‘Yeah. Yeah.  OK.  How did you find the mill for a dollar and a half?  That sounds wonderful, sound of water running by and all.  Did someone tell you about it?’

     ‘Oh, uh uh.  When you get to know me, Dewey, you’ll find that I have a real nose for the picturesque.  We better get going now.  Did you enjoy your lunch?’

     ‘Oh yeah, Darby.  This was terrific.’

     ‘Too bad you don’t have a degree.  Stanford was terrific.’

     ‘Been on the campus.  Liked it a lot myself.’  Dewey replied, as they wound back down Diablo after an hour and half lunch.

     ‘That’s one of the good things about the job you can set your own pace.’

     They made three more calls that afternoon.  At four Darby turned the car homeward.

     ‘You’re off work at five o’ clock so always leave early enough so that you’re in your driveway by five.’

     ‘Not so bad.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘You don’t have to knock on doors before ten and you’re back home at five.  An hour and half lunch.  I might be able to dig this.’

     Quite unaware of himself Darby had become a role model for Dewey.

 

    

A Short Story

From The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams Collection

All The Way From China

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Ruby lips above the water

Blowing bubbles soft and fine

But, alas, I was no swimmer…

Trad.  Clementine

 

     Dewey roused himself in bed, propping himself up on the pillows.

     ‘Where are you going today, Dewey?’ Asked his wife Angeline.

     ‘Nowhere actually.  I’m supposed to work Marin here.  Not a lot to do really.  Just a dozen houses but they’re far apart.’

     ‘I thought you weren’t supposed to do Marin?’

     ‘I’m not but Ramme sends me into his areas every so often.  Must be someone he’s afraid of or unpleasant for him.  Maybe he just doesn’t feel like driving over from Berkeley today.  I don’t know.  He’s an odd duck.  He’s got this Stanford degree and he’s doing the same job I am.’

     ‘Where are you going first?’

     ‘Just over the freeway here in Larkspur.’

     ‘You mean Corte Madera?’

     ‘Yes, Angeline, just over the freeway here. I think it’s one of those houses built on stilts over the tidal flats; you know, out there on the mud.’

     ‘Really?  They’ve got houses out over the bay?’

     ‘Yeah.  I guess they’re fairly defensive.  Some guy told I wouldn’t dare go out there to collect or they’d chuck me over the side, beat me up or something?’

     ‘Really?  Would they do that?  Are you going to go?’

     ‘Sure.’

     ‘Why?  If Ramme doesn’t want to do it why should you?’

     ‘Well, my dear, I’ve never been there before.  Looks pretty strange.  I’d like to see it from the other side.’

     ‘What if they hurt you?’

     ‘Oh, they aren’t going to hurt me.  Nobody has yet.  Nobody’s even tried although I have had a few threats.  What’s to worry?  Just talk ’em out of it, that’s all.  They threaten me and I’ll threaten to burn ’em out at high tide or foreclose on ’em, that’s all.  What do you think of that?’

     ‘You wouldn’t do that.’

     “If I had to pay to get my suit cleaned I might.’

 

     The mud flats Dewey referred to were at the mouth of Tamalpais Creek out into the San Francisco Bay.  At low tide a strand of a couple hundred feet was exposed.  Several houses connected to shore by walkways were built out over them on piles.

     Dewey rolled up about ten to make his call.  His house was not part of the main cluster but was an isolated structure North and East, closer to the creek.  Tamalpais Creek at one time was navigable for small ships but over the years civilization had reduced it to a trickle.  Now it could barely be spotted as it oozed into the bay.

     A parking area about three cars wide was cleared in a little copse of trees and foliage.  Romantic spot, really, which is why the tenant lived there.  A wooden walkway extended about fifty feet from the the shore to the house.

     As Dewey got out of his car he noticed motorcycle tracks in the gravel. 

     ‘What a weird situation.’  He thought.  ‘I’ll bet that house isn’t even on land.  I’ll bet that’s property that belongs to the State.  I’ll bet nobody can own land on the tidewater.  These people must be some kind of squatters.  I wonder how they got a loan on the house?’

     As he stepped out on the walkway he looked over at the main cluster.  ‘I’ll bet you Darby was afraid to make this call so he gave it to me.  What a chicken.’  But he didn’t like the look of those motorcycle tracks.  ‘Might me those damn Hell’s Angels.’

     ‘How strange, how strange.’  Dewey thought as he turned to look back at the shore.  ‘Very picturesque though, very romantic.’

     ‘Come in.’ Floated out the open door before he’d even had a chance to knock.  What a beautiful melodious female voice, spoken in such a languorous sensual tone.

     Dewey stepped inside.  A delightful array of scents caressed his nostrils.  Colors ovewhelmed his senses making his brain tingle.  There seated in a chair by a window looking out over the bay was the most beautiful woman.

     She was beside a table on which sat a large basket of funny looking squat orange fruit, not an orange, not a tangerine.  Dewey had never seen them before.

    ‘Hi, honey.  Have a seat.’  She said with a warm curiosity interested to see what fate had cast up on her shore.

     There was something so voluptuous, so eternally female in her voice that Dewey for the second time tingled.  A strange enervating glow radiated from the top of his spine into his brain leaving him almost euphoric.

     ‘My name’s, Suzanne.  What’s yours?’

     ‘My name?’  Dewey said astonished and surprised.  ‘Um, Dewey.  But I’m from…’

     ‘Oh, we can get into that later Dewey.  Let’s get acquainted first.  Let’s get to know each other.  Wouldn’t you like that?  Would you like an orange?’

     Dewey looked at the basket.  ‘Those are oranges?  I’ve never seen them before.  What kind?’

     ‘Those are Mandarin oranges, Dewey.  They came all the way from China.  Peel me one.  Will you be so kind?’

     ‘Huh?’

     ‘Peel me an orange, Dewey.  You look like you have good hands.’

     ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’  Dewey picked up an orange to peel as he looked around taking stock of where he was.

     Suzanne had a real hep pad; she was a real hep chick.  The genuine article.  The location was too exotic.  The house was small, one room really, with partial dividers setting off the kitchen, the living room and the bedroom.  The delicious Marin air wafted through the house through windows open and looking out in every direction.  Off to the West San Quentin Prison was visible across the black mud extending to the Eastern edge of the water.  The house was now high and dry as the tide was out.

     ‘The tide makes a wonderful sound when it come creeping back in, lapping against the piles.’  Suzanne breathed in that wonderful voice.

     ‘Um.’

     The house was sparsely furnished Zen style with just the right number of peices of undecorated but classically correct furniture, no more than necessary, no less.  The walls were draped in Indian bedspreads or tapestries.  One covered the central part of the ceiling over the exposed central light bulb.

     A turntable, speakers and amplifier were arranged on boards supported by cinder blocks on Suzannes’s left.  Dewey had never seen separate components before.  He easily recogized the phonograph for what it was.  All of a sudden his portable Webcor seemed like trash.  In an instant he had never wanted anything more than a component phonograph system.  Dewey could identify several records lying about.  Suzanne was a real folkie of the old school.  Records on the Topic label by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bob Gibson and Bob Camp were there.  A couple Leadbelly sides and a Josh White, Odetta.  Old Weavers records and a Pete Seeger.  The most current stuff she had was the Kingston Trio, Chad Mitchell Trio and Judy Henske.  The two Trios were of the hippest political stuff.  Both were considered dangerous, especially the great Chad Mitchell Trio.

     She kept the place immaculate.  A few books were artfully strewn about.  ‘The Book Of Tea’, ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’, ‘Steppenwolf’, ‘Light From The East.’

     Some of the singer’s names Dewey had only heard of, some were completely unknown to him, they were already part of the past.  ‘The Book Of Tea’ and ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ he owned himself in those picturesque little Charles Tuttle editions.

     His swung back to Suzanne herself.  She was a very beautiful woman.  She was the epitome of femininity, completely woman, no equivocation if you know what I mean.

     She was sitting on the chair, barefoot with her legs tucked up.  Her feet were beautifully formed, her ankles the neatest.  She wore a rose colored blouse with a darker rose colored vest laced across her midriff.  The vest raised her stunning breasts as if offering them to the world.  Stunning?  My god! They were truly melons, slightly elongated resting on and pressing against the sides of the vest.

     Dewey nearly swallowed his teeth.  She wasn’t wearing a bra.  Very unusual in 1964.  Nipples the size of fifty cent pieces raised, it seemed, a quarter inch above the surrounding flesh pink beneath the rose material.  Dewey bit his lip as he tremblingly peeled the Mandarin orange.

     Looking up he saw that she was still beautiful with a gorgeous full mane of long dark chestnut hair.  She an an enchanting line of freckles across his cheeks and nose. The ample but not overly full lips were drawn back in a half smile.

     ‘Wow!  Dimples on her elbows, dimples on her knees.  A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one.’  Ran through Dewey’s mind.

     But, Suzanne, Dewey noted, was past her prime.  She was probably close to or over forty.  She had the look of experience, of having been passed around.  Her skin showed the ravages of drug use.  The flesh was slightly dry and wrinkling from excessive exposure to the California sun.  Too much skiing, water-skiing and boating.  Too much of being the good sport.  Too much enjoying the pleasures of being a party girl.  Suzanne was at the stage where she had been superseded by younger and fresher looking women.

     ‘Finished yet?’  She cooed as only a San Francisco Mama can.  She gathered her hair in that languorous sensual way, looking inquiringly at him.

     ‘Yes.  I am.’  Dewey replied as coolly as possible.  ‘Do you want me to split it in half for you, or…’

     ‘Of course, silly boy.  Keep half for yourself.  We’ll share it.  Some for me, a little for you.’

     ‘Uh…OK.  I’ve never had one of these before.  They really come from China?’

     Suzanne nodded, smiling at Dewey’s awkwardness and apparent simplicity.  Suzanne, who knew very few men who wore suits had guessed who Dewey was.  She couldn’t make her mortgage payment, the money wasn’t there.  Perhaps she could wheedle a payment out of him or at least divert his attention so that she could avoid the embarrassment of admitting she didn’t have the money which would have killed her.

     ‘Tell me, Dewey…’

     ‘Oh god,’  thought Dewey, ‘I hope she isn’t going to go into the sound of one hand clapping or if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to here it, does it make a noise.  Boy, I’ve had enough of that.’

     ‘…which do you think is more important, money or relationships?’

     ‘Well, I think you can have both, Suzanne.’

     ‘Yes, of course, Dewey, but which do you think is more important if you could have only one.  Money or relationships?’

     Another guy might have risen to the bait and Dewey saw it there silhouetted on the water but, besides being married, his instincts revealed the hook in the fly.  Somehow he could sense trouble so he took the question as one to be dealt with intellectually.

     ‘Well, Suzanne, that’s a tough one.  Relationships are important of course.  But they are all based on expediency.  When the reason for them disappears so do the relationships.

     Hence in all relationships there is the user and the used.  My wife’s family owns a nursing home and even in the parent-child relationship, which should be enduring, children dump their parents off and never think of them again.  They keep the money.  At least if you have money in the bank, you can always pay the rent.’

     The last remark was made thoughtlessly.  Dewey had no intention of making Suzanne uncomfortable.  She nevertheless felt the sting which disheartened her in her rather perilous situation.  She rose to offer Dewey a cup of tea, subconsciously attempting to arouse him.  It had worked with men so many times before.

     She rose to lean over Dewey breathing in his ear would he like a cup of tea.  Her marvelous breasts swung left and right dazzling Dewey’s eyes.  the magnificent nipples nearly brushed Dewey’s lips.  He could have…it would have been so easy.  Her intoxicatingly wonderful scent nearly loosened his mind from its anchors.  As Suzanne sat back down rolling her breats around Dewey nearly fainted from delight.

     ‘Really, Dewey?’  She breathed in that husky suppressed sexuality.  ‘I’ve found that my relationships have always been the most rewarding things in my life.  Friends are more important to me than anything.’

     ‘Uh huh.  Well, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.’  Dewey thought to himself.

     He didn’t respond directly.  As beautiful as Suzanne was Dewey could see that she was past the age of desirability.  She had been displaced by younger women.  But Dewey liked to talk and Suzanne was venturing into areas he had thought about.

     ‘Well, Suzanne, I’m not from here.  I grew up in Michigan.’

     ‘Oh, really, Dewey?  I’m from Waterloo, Iowa.’

     ‘Wow.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘Waterloo’s loss was San Francisco’s gain.’  He continued:  ‘Waterloo, hmm.  and most of the people in California, like me and you, come from somewhere else.  Close friends are hard to make; everyone seems suspicious of everyone else.  I’ve concluded therefore that once out of childhood it’s impossible to make any real friends.  Even in childhood the friendships are based on relative status which only seems natural in childhood because you grew up with it.  You can see people fly apart after graduation when those distinctions change.

     After childhood, it seems to me that all relationships are built on expediency.  People can be friends only while it is worthwhile to know each other.  Even then there is a sharp struggle for status and social place.  One party has to be dominant.  The struggle for leadership is the most important thing.  If one party won’t go under the relationship can’t exist.

      Everyone wants to be superior to the other.  The concept of equality is only important for the low man on the totem pole.  In a static society maybe a rough sort of equality might obtain but I don’t think so, everyone would just know their place.

     The ability to consider other people as equals is also being seriously undermined by TV.  If you watch the shows you will notice that it is always the story of the mastermind and his stooges.  Some guy, for no apparent reason, thinks he is a leader.  He has no credentials.  He isn’t even successful in a conventional way; he has no training; he is even uneducated if not illiterate.  But he has charisma.  For some reason, brash over confidence, I suppose, we are to believe that this guy possesses the answer that nobody else can find.  Everybody recognizes this take charge guy’s superiority.  His response is always:  I don’t know the answer, but let’s try this.  He never knows anything but he always succeeds.  Everyone hastens to assist him.  Superbly educated scientists subserve him; he commands generals who have been trained to leadership and they leap to obey his commands.

     The TV image creates the reality or, at least, a very large body of imposters trying to assume the image.  I have known all kinds of guys trying to assume that image.  They can’t.  And when you refuse to accord them the dignity, you deny their fantasy, they hate you.  They think you’re the arrogant upstart.

     These guys are going to get really frustrated, twist; in the not too distant future after repeated denials of their omnip0tence; some of these guys are going to crack.  They’re going to show up with guns and just start shooting everybody down.  TV is really being misused.  TV is evil.  None of those guys is ever going to be around when you need them, and they’re users, so I’d rather be sitting cozy with a bundle in the bank rather than trying to cultivate them.’

     ‘You’ll notice I don’t have a TV.  I certainly agree with you about that.’  Suzanne replied who really liked this type of discussion.  ‘But still my friends have been a great help to me.  They give me things and I learn lots from them that I might otherwise not know.  I mean,’  she leaned forward breathlessly, ‘I think you will understand this, because of them I have seen and talked to God.’

      ‘Oh yeah?  How’s that?’  Dewey said trying to conceal his contempt of anyone who claimed to have talked to God.

     ‘Well, my friends are pretty hep.  They know about things lots sooner than other people.’  She said nodding in the direction of the records.  ‘Have you ever hear of LSD Dewey?’

      ‘Uh…no, what is it?’  Dewey lied.

     ‘It’s this new hallucinogen that you take and it opens up your doors of perception so you can see God and have really truly mystical experiences.’

     ‘What’s a hallucinogen, some kind of drug like heroin?’

     ‘No, it’s not a drug, it’s entirely different.  It makes you see things in a way you’ve never seen them before and better, more clearly, with total reality.  I’m an entirely different person.  I feel like a real god compared to people who haven’t taken it.’  She reached out and touched his arm by way of apology for having distanced herself so much from him.  But she spoke the truth.  she now felt in a world, a class apart, they all did.

     Suzanne belonged to the folk half of the post-war period.  She had passed through the whole period but on a level above the Beatniks but below Society.  She had in fact been what would have been known as a groupie for the folk musicians.  she had met and knew most of them and had loved them all.  They all enjoyed her.  She had been a fixture at the ‘hungry i’, that preeminent San Francisco folk nightclub.

     She had never had to work.  Gifts had come her way.  She had never questioned them.  She gave freely of the love she genuinely felt in her heart, the heart of a good loving woman, and she saw nothing amiss in what she considered the outpouring of love in the form of gifts from her admirers.  Perhaps they saw it that way too.  She should have been a little more mercenary requiring something more substantial than what only amounted to baubles.  She would not then have been delinquent in her mortgage payment.

      She was so beautiful, so lovely, so the eternal woman that she could have chosen men with discrimination.  Even in her choice of folkies she chose well if not lucratively.  The folkies were a bunch of great guys.  They had their limitations of course but a more decent group of men never existed.

     Suzanne had been the belle of their balls.  She had presided as queen at all their get togethers.  Of course, she had to be supported, that is, until she got old.  Now, not only was Suzanne superannuated but the whole folk scene was vanishing.  This year was the year of transition from the folk half to the rock half of the post-war era.  The next generation was about to transform the music into folk-rock and blues based electric rock.  There was to be no place left for the acoustic folkies.  The amplified hand held bass guitar destroyed them.

     If any year was crucial to the transition from the old to the the new 1964 was it.  Timothy Leary had lent Harvard’s imprimatur to experimentation in drugs.  The Beats had spread Marijuana throughout the Bay and now LSD and the other hallucinogens would lend Harvard’s credibility to the weed.

     Musical groups like the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company were already destroying the folk scene.  The ‘hungry i would be replaced by the Matrix and electric music.  Within just a couple years the rock musical sensibility would sweep all other musical forms from the charts.

     The Beat writers who emerged in 1959 were changing the consciousness of the youth.  Marshall McLuhan, that incredible master of nonsense, that twentieth century Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll rolled into one, was about to publish his book ‘Understanding Media.’   Everything but the premiss was wrong, but it was found to be true that the Medium is the Message.  Carlos Casteneda was relating the absurd adventures of Don Juan and J.R.R. Tolkien had woven the fantasy of the Hobbits and their Ring.  All the elements for the rock half of the post-war world were in place waiting to take effect.

     News may travel fast but it penetrates slowly.  As Dewey and Suzanne sat by the river in the warm California sun eating the oranges that came all the way from China neither had an inkling of what was happening.  It was as though a Japanese farmer looking up from his fields toward Hiroshima and noticing  the funny mushroom shaped cloud asked:  ‘What’s that?’

     Suzanne was too old to make the change.  that very lovely woman was about to lose all.  Dewey would catch the wave and ride the crest into shore.  Neither knew they were sitting on opposite sides of the same abyss.  Suzanne’s implicit faith in friends who gave her drugs saddened Dewey.  From his male point of view he could see what had happened and what would happen to Suzanne.  She was totally lovable as the eternal female.  As such he had fallen in love with her at sight.  But, as the eternal female he knew that men were irresistable to her.  She loved to much and too well.  He could never respect such a woman and could love her only from a distance.

     Out of love for Suzanne, at the risk of humiliating himself, he thought to tell here what any woman less a woman than Suzanne must surely know.  Dewey heaved a great sigh, then began:

     ‘As a token of friendship they gave you dugs?  Now, Suzanne one can never get out one’s mind what isn’t in it.  The only way to break on through to the other side if such a thing can be done is by analyzing your own mind.  Drugs will only mess you up, even new stuff like LSD.  All drugs are bad.  Men are peculiar animals!  I love everything about the way you live Suzanne.  I don’t know about a lot of the artists you listen to and I haven’t read a lot of these books you have.  I hate to admit it but I haven’t even heard of a lot of them.  But I’ve done a lot of reading, you know, all kinds of things, I like ancient history a lot.

      And, you know, there was a time when mankind didn’t know about procreation.  The female of the species was the source of increase so Man woshipped the Great Mother.  Women were available to all men, in theory at least, or as a woman might put it all men were available to her.  But then Man discovered paternity.  He learned that he was the inseminator.  In his vanity he became the Creator.  The Great Mother became the passive receptacle of his creativity rather than the source of all things.

     With the knowledge of paternity came the desire for immortality by creating a son in his own image much as God created Man in his own image.  That’s why all men think they’re gods Suzanne.  The Great Mother cult was unrestrained in its sexuality and orgiasm which runs counter to self-control and reason.  Man was also becoming more conscious of who he was and his surroundings, hence he left the Garden and entered the World.

      Now the Great Mother had to be destroyed for those two reasons.  Reason had to supplant unreason and women had to become the property of men so that paternity could, hopefully, be assured.  Beyond that men have no real use for women.  But men like them and want them because they are beautiful and desirable.  But men don’t want responsibilities so if they can get what they want without obligations so much the better.  You dig?

     Men have been good to you because you are beautiful and I suspect, because you know who you are and how to manage them.  But, you know Suzanne, everything changes.  There comes a time when the incoming tide washes away the magnificent sand castles built on the strand.  We have to retreat further inland and start a new life.  Do you get my drift?’

     ‘I think I do, Dewey.’  Suzanne said with a tear in her lovely eye.  No mascara ran down her cheek because she didn’t wear makeup.  She was hep to the bone.  ‘I think what you’re saying is that I should find a harbor for my craft.’

      ‘Well, yes.  In your shoes, I suppose I would leave the well traveled roads and look for that Mansion On The Hill, put the past behind me and look to the future.  You have had the best of lives.  Looking at your records, Suzanne, I can tell by the covers that they’re all old.  I mean, I like folk music too but I’ve never heard of half those people.  You don’t have any Limelighters or Glenn Yarborough, no Christy Minstrels or any new stuff.  Even then Folk has just about run its course.  It’s really turning trite and sappy.

     You don’t look like you could do Jazz and you’re too old for Rock n’ Roll.’  Dewey bit his tongue.  ‘So I’d look to those new vistas opening on the horizon there.’

     Suzanne looked at him long and pensively.  The changes he was talking about clicked through her brain in successive images but she couldn’t retain any of them long enough to form a sentence.  She intuited the truth of what he had said even admired the way he had said it but she liked men, not a man, men.

     She liked the intoxication of feeling universally desired.  What would she do to get that?  No.  The die was cast.

      Dewey really liked Suzanne but now it was time to go.  She had that quality; he wanted to do something for her.  Unfortunately his money was in his billfold, one of those clunky things that made it look like a man had tumor on his buttock.  He didn’t want to stand there and ostentatiously withdraw money to give her.

     ‘Um, I have to go Suzanne.  May I use your bathroom?’

     In the bathroom Dewey took a five out of his billfold, a lot of money to him at the time, put it in his front pocket and went back to Suzanne at the table with the oranges on it.

     ‘Well, Suzanne, I have to leave.  I’ve got work to do but, look, here’s five dollars.  I want you to have it, you know, I mean, uh, keep it.’

     ‘Oh, Dewey, I couldn’t take your money.’

     ‘Sure, just consider it a loan.’

     ‘How would I ever be able to pay you back?’

     ‘Oh, if not me then loan it to somebody else sometime.’

     ‘Here, here Dewey take some oranges.  They come all the way from China.’   She said thrusting three oranges at him.

      ‘Thanks.  I love you, Suzanne.’

      Then Dewey walked out into the sunshine across the causeway.  He got into his car, backed out and was half a block away when the air was split by the roar of two motorcycles.  Fat Tony and Stig wheeled into the parking space.

     ‘Who the fuck was that, Stig?’  Fat Tony roared.

     ‘I don’t know Ton’ but only bill collector’s wear suits.’

     ‘Come ’round here and we’ll stomp his ass good.’

     ‘Damn right.’

     ‘She’s ours now.  Wait’ll you see her.  Cans out to here.  That folk singer guy told me about her.  I was here last night and wooee.’

     Four black engineer’s boots thundered across Suzanne’s walkway.

     ‘Say mama, I’m here, and look who I brought, my friend Stig I told ya about.  Say, who was that guy I saw drivin’ away.  Don’t want to see him no more.  You ours now, Mama.

     What the hell do you call these, bitch?’  Fat Tony said pointing to the oranges.  ‘Why the hell don’t you get some American oranges that look like oranges should.’  So saying Fat Tony pitched the basket of oranges out the window.  The orange balls rolled out across the black mud flat where they would soon be bobbing on the incoming tide.  Some would be left clinging to the foliage on the bank, some would be swept out to sea through the Golden Gate perhaps to return all the way to China.

     ‘Come on, Bitch, get outta those rags and get on your hands and knees me and Stig wanna fuck.  We’re horny as hell.’

     Dewey got on the freeway speeding on down to Mill Valley for the next call.  He looked over at the three oranges on the seat where he had placed them.  Picking them up he tossed them out the window into the middle of the freeway where they rolled down the fast lane.  Sploot, sploot, tires shot the juice into traffic.

      Dewey forgot that he had ever met Suzanne.

 

 

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

by

R.E. Prindle

 Clip 4

     ‘Nothing, unless you’re buying.  No money.’

     ‘I’m not buying.’

     ‘I’m not eating.’

     ‘You’re going to have a cup of coffee at least.’

     ‘Don’t have a dime.’

     Stan looked at Dewey.  He admired his strength of will but he was sure Dewey was lying which of course Dewey was.  He had that twenty but he wasn’t about to show it.

     They got back into the yellow VW to continue on in the brilliant yellow sunshine bursting almost into song over the Great Valley of California.  Zippity do dah.

     Stan probed insistently as they drove past the outskirts of Bakersfield.  He was going to get that twenty.  Had it been a pre-beating Stan he might very well have but with his stuffing missing Stan lacked real nerve.  He could be hit in a couple places where it still hurt.  It would have to be a sucker punch on Dewey.  He tried another ploy.

     There is no natural water in the San Joaquin but clever Californians had built and were building massive dams that provided irrigation water.  Large amounts of that water were used to irrigate cotton fields in the Kern County desert.  Bakersfield is actual desert.  As they were driving past the budding cotton a plane was flying ground level dusting the cotton for boll weevils or whatever.

     Stan brought the VW to a halt by the side of ninety-nine.

     ‘Look they’re crop dusting.  Let’s watch for a while.’

     ‘Uh, I’m in a hurry man.  Why don’t I get out?

page 1431.

     ‘Relax.  Just watch.’

     Dewey doubled his fist keeping his eyes on Leland, ready to defend himself because he realized his danger.  He would have to be knocked out or killed for Stan to get his twenty.

     Stan’s right arm draped over the seat to feel for a wrench on the floor but he needed surprise also.  He needed Dewey to look the other way but Dewey’s tenseness indicated he wasn’t about to.

     With a sigh Stan put the VW in gear but now he was sore.

     ‘You aren’t a nice guy.’  He said with a pout.  ‘You don’t deserve to ride in this People’s Car.  You’re not real people.  Get out.’

     ‘Thanks for the ride anyway, man.’  Dewey said opening the door before the car came to a complete stop.  ‘Sorry about the twenty.’

     Dewey had to turn away to keep from laughing in Stan Leland’s face.  Leland had maybe carried him sixty miles which represented twenty cents in gas.  Did Leland really think Dewey was going to fork over twenty dollars for a quarters worth of fuel when Leland had to use the same amount of gas anyway?

     Leland drove off in a huff cursing Trueman’s back.

     Dewey focused his eyes before him.  He was standing in front of a strip mall.  One of those glitzy but commonplace California restaurants was in front of him.  Inside he could see the owner or manager hopping around anguished at the sight of him.

     Dewey turned around to survey the Great Central Valley of California.  It was bright and it was hot.  The highway structure was an immense pre-asphalt love affair.  A divided highway of concrete led in two lanes each way, the center strip itself was two lanes wide.  A two hundred mile long row of oleander bushes obstructed the glare of oncoming headlights at night.  The oleander, which is a very beautiful flowering bush, is drought resistant which is an essential quality for the Valley.  They are poisonous to cattle but that seemed to be of little consequence in the middle of the highway, although everyone always mentioned it.  They grow maybe ten feet high.

page 1432.

     Highway 99 had a paved shoulder which increased its width as well as an unpaved shoulder.  Another ten feet was kept bare before a chain link fence seprarated 99 from what was called a frontage road which allowed locals to get from place to place without entering the highway.  So all in all there were six lanes and spare.  The whole complex was two hundred fifty feet wide.  The road was the old fashioned kind that was just laid on top of the ground rather than dug in.

     When they built the concrete rollerball chute called Interstate 5 a couple decades later they set it over by the concrete canals carrying water from Shasta.  They built 5 on the same principle as the canals except the channel carried cars and trucks instead of water.  The highway games played on 5 were real live rollerball.

     But 99 was a more humane road.  It bypassed all the towns from the Grapevine to Modesto.  For whatever reasons 99 was the main street of Modesto.  The wide apron made it a very good hitchhiking road; cars could stop easily and safely.

page 1433

    The temperature was building up as Dewey looked back in the restaurant to find the manager with his nose pressed to the glass violently gesticulating at him.  Finally he ran to the door opening it a crack to shout at Dewey:  ‘Move along.  Move along.  Hitchhiking’s against the law.  We don’t want you around here.’

     Dewey looked at him in some wonder then thought that maybe buying a cup of coffee might placate him.  Dewey had no sooner opened the door than the little man shouted at him:  ‘Get out. Get out.  No service for you.’

     Dewey was mystified giving an uncomprehending shrug.  What the heck, he was in uniform, Uncle Sam’s own Blues.  Even a couple customers intervened for him.  ‘Take it easy, Mel.  What’s the problem?  He’s only a sailor, for Chrissakes, he’s serving the country.  Because of him you can sleep more securely at nights.’

     ‘If he’s an example of what is serving the country I won’t be able to sleep at all.’

     Dewey gave him the look anyone would give a looney as he stood half in and half out.

     ‘I want you out of here or I’ll call the police.’  The man named Mel raved hysterically.

     Dewey left stepping back to the highway.  Mel called the police anyway.

     Ten minutes later a Bakersfield Police car, not the California Highway Patrol, pulled up in front of him.  He was accompanied by a young civilian of nineteen years who stared at Dewey silently.  The CWB got out of the car approaching Dewey:  ‘Are you hitchhiking?’  He half said, half challenged in the CWB manner.

page 1434.

     Dewey had stepped back on the grass so as to give credence to the notion that he was not hitchhiking but just taking the air but then thought better of it.

     ‘Yeah.  I am.’

     ‘You know it’s against the law.’

     ‘No, I didn’t know that.  You see so many guys hitchhiking.’

     ‘Yeah.  Well, it is.’

     Mel stuck his head out of the door:  ‘That’s him officer, that’s him.  Arrest him.’

     In point of law, which is irrelevant to the CWBs, Dewey was outside the Bakersfield city limits and hence beyond the jurisdiction of the CWB.   The cop looked at the civilian  who hadn’t taken his eyes off Dewey:  ‘Is that him?’

     The boy solemnly shook his head no.

     ‘I’m not going to take you in this time, Sailor, but you better be gone if I come back.’

     ‘I certainly hope to be.’  Dewey smiled.

     ‘Arrest him.  Arrest him.’  Mel screamed.  ‘That’s him.’

     The CWB waved Mel off.  Mel in his hysterical fear locked his door causing problems with people who wanted out and preventing people from entering.

     Dewey was looking at him shaking his head whan a car stopped in front of him.

     ‘Get in man.’  Came a voice with an unmistakable Mexican accent.

page 1345.

     Dewey turned to find a ’56 Chevy with five Mexicans in it looking aggressive.  Dewey may have had to get away from that spot in a hurry but not that big a hurry.  He’d rather take his chances with the CWBs.

     ‘I’m going all the way to Oakland.  You’re just going up ahead a ways, right?’

     ‘Yeah.  That’s right man.  Get in, man, we give you a ride anyway.’

     ‘That’s alright.  I’ll wait for a longer hop.’

     ‘Get in the middle.’  The guy on the right back said holding the door open for him.

     A very dangerous situation it was.  Shotgun in front was cleaning his nails with a stileto.  The other guy in back had his hand on the door ready to leap out.  The restaurant was locked.  It would take five guys with knives about thirty seconds to finish him.  Dewey decided to trust to his charm as limited as that was, he got in the middle in the back.

     Martin Luther King the apostle of non-violent resistance was heading for his mountain top from whence he proclaimed that White Americans were bred in the bone racists.  Black Folk claim that King was the greatest man America ever produced but he was nothing but a back country screeching pastor of a patriarchal consciousness thing.  True, the cause was just; true, there were egregious wrongs that had to be corrected but King himself was a weak reed who left his wife at home while he panted after White women in the pursuit of his notion of justice.  That he was any kind of spokesman for the cause at all was an accident of fate.  Even his own people were beginning to repudiate him before he died.

1436.

     The overblown rhetoric of his speeches would have been laughed at in the mouth of the most respectable White preacher.  ‘I have been to the mountaintop’ spoken seriously is such pompous nonsense that Whites should be ashamed of themselves for even pretending to revere such bull roar.

     However King was the harbinger of the emerging Black Revolution.  A Revolution which would do the inevitable of dividing Americans into a group of more or less autonomous peoples held loosely together by economics.  Just as the Black gangs which coalesced from the riots of ’67 into an incipient form of Black government by the end of the century so these Mexicans flooding across the border could have a complete disregard for the United States that meant nothing more to them than hot Chevy cars, money and a more affluent style of living than was possible for them to create for themselves South of the Border down Mexico way.  Heck, it was even bad form to call  them Mexicans in the United States, their nationality being a form of insult to them on this side of the border; one had to call them ‘Hispanics.’  They might ridicule Americans and Gringos but they were nothing but a joke closely resembling the caricatures of themselves that appeared in US magazines and newspapers.

     Now Dewey sat between two giggling Mexicans while the Shotgun sneered at him over the seat:  ‘Hey may, we give you a ride you never forget.’

page 1437.

     ‘Oh yeah?  I remember every kindness never done to me.’  Dewey replied sarcastically to show he was in control with a forced smile that he hoped looked fearless.

     The car went down 99 about ten miles then the driver turned left towards the coast range onto a dirt road.  The car began to lurch through the dusty fields.

     ‘Better let me out here.  I’m going North.’

     ‘Hey, Gringo, you going where we want you to go.  We let you out when we want to let you out, man.  Only then and not before.  Sabe?  We goin’ to have some fun withchu.  Whatchu think of this stinking America, man.  I think it smells very bad, whatchu think?’

     ‘Seems to be good to you.’  Dewey returned feebly slowly putting both his hands in his pockets to disguise that he was reaching for his long thin Japanese pocket knife.

     ‘Good for us, man, you fool.  What we doin’, we workin’ for the man plantin’ and harvestin’ his potatoes while he  driving around in his El Dorado Cadillac.  You call that good.’

     ‘I see what you mean.  America does suck.’  Dewey agreed adding sotto voce:  ‘…to allow dicks like you in this country.’

     ‘That uniform you wearing, man, it only makes you look stupid.  Your Navy sucks, too, man.’

     ‘I agree with you wholeheartedly there ,man.’  Dewey said with true sincerity.  ‘But I want out now.’

      So saying he pulled his knife out flipping the loosely hinged blade out and clapping it to the throat of the driver.

page 1438.

     ‘Stop the car.’

      The Mexicans had been taken by surprise as Dewey’s apparent resignation had implied no resistance.  The driver didn’t think about it, he just brought the car to a smooth stop trying to avoid the potholes.

     ‘Open the door and let me out.’  Dewey told the Mex on his left.

     Dewey reversed the blade drawing the blunt edge across the driver’s neck as a warning as he brought the point to bear on the Mex standing in the door.  He backing up as Dewey pushed the knife forward as he got out.

     ‘Fuck Pancho Villa.’  Dewey snarled as he moved back toward the highway.

     ‘Puto.’  The Mex spat out.

     ‘Dildo.’  Dewey called over his shoulder.

     Dewey didn’t know what puto meant and the Mexican didn’t know what dildo meant so they were even on that score.

     Dewey thought they might try to run him down but they drove off through a cloud of dust.

     The highway was a good mile and a half distant which was a long walk through what was now blazing heat in his heavy woolen blues.  Dewey slowed his brisk walk into a leisurely stroll so as not to soak his uniform through giving him a heck of a stench.

     White guilt prejudice prevented Dewey from correctly analyzing his encounter with the Mexicans.  It was considered bad for Whites to see racial matters in their true light.  Thus even though these Mexicans did not consider themselves Americans or have any respect for the country they sucked off, White prejudice required Dewey to dismiss the true situation from his mind replacing it with the fiction that these were oppressed people who had fled despotic conditions for a better life in an America Whites had created.

     What bullroar.

     They were just grubbers who realized that Mexico would never amount to anything in the hands of Mexicans while the good life worth sponging off lay across the border with the despised Gringos.

     Twenty minutes later Dewey was back by the side of the road warm but not sweating;  He’d managed to walk in some style.  The thermometer was edging over a hundred.  The sun rays crashed down on him in unrelenting bombardment.  Dewey’s mind began to drift.

     There were many stories of aliens abducting people in their flying saucers at the time.  While Dewey refused to believe them his disbelief was not so strong that he ruled out the possibility.  He did watch the night sky for unidentified flying objects.

     As he looked up into the dazzling blue glare he thought this might be a good time to be abducted.  He was ready to volunteer.  He could imagine a saucer hovering above him shooting down a ray of light separating his molecules into a vapor to beam him aboard.

     ‘They might even serve me some cosmic cookies and a glass of intergalactic mile.’  He was musing as a car slowed to a stop just ahead of him.

page 1440.

      ‘Ah, air conditioning.’  He smiled as he slid into the shotgun of a ’58 Buick Roadmaster.  ‘Better than a flying saucer.’

     ‘Have you had an experience?’  Wally Reid, the driver, asked as he slipped back into traffic. 

     ‘I’m heading for Oakland.’  Dewey said.

     ‘Uh huh.  I’m going to Sacramento.  Drop you off at the Manteca cutoff.  How’s that?’

     ‘Couldn’t be better.’

     ‘What’s this about a flying saucer?’

     ‘Oh nothing.  I was just fantasizing about being beamed up and given cookies and milk.’

     ‘Strange you should say that.  That’s happened.’  Reid began taking the comment at face value.  ‘My sister-in-law had a terrible experience with a flying saucer.’

     ‘Your sister-in-law was abducted?’  Dewey said in astonishment.

     ‘Word of honor.  She wouldn’t lie to me or Chuck, my brother.’

     ‘No.  What happened?’

     ‘This happened just a couple weeks ago.  They kept her for two whole days.  She was driving home from work, worked late, when a saucer zoomed over her and beamed her up like inside a giant flashlight beam, car and all.’

     ‘No!’

     ‘Oh yea.  There were about fifteen of them.  Zoomed back out into space.  You should hear her description of what Earth looks like from out there.  A big blue marble.  They wanted to know how Earthlings have sex.  So she says that for two days they worked her over.  They poked and fondled and did her up.  Felt her tits all over.  She says they were really mystified by the nipples.  She had to explain everything to them.  They had this device they put in her mouth that translated everything she said into their language.

page 1441.

     Once they understood how to put it in after she explained it to them she says each guy took a turn or two on her.  They weren’t gentle either, probably because they didn’t have any experience with screwing Earth style.’

     ‘Jeez.  What did they look like?’

      ‘Just like you’d expect.  Green with these giant heads and bulging eyes.  You know, like they don’t do any physical work, just cerebral stuff, so they’re all brain and no brawn, muscles just withered away, opposite of us.’   Wally said with unintended humor which was nevertheless caught by Trueman who suppressed a smile.  ‘Skinny thin bodies and arms with long thin peckers, twice as long as ours but she says they felt like worms, you know,  they could bend and twist like corkscrews.  Kept at her for two whole days.’

     ‘Wow.  Did they give her any cosmic cookies or intergalactic milk?’

     ‘No.  They fed her with tubes.  She’s still got some needle marks on the inside of her arms.  Then after they finished with her they beamed her back down but they weren’t too careful about it either.  They bashed the car up pretty bad.  Bonnie didn’t look too good either.’

page 1442.

     ‘How’s that?’

     ‘Well, they were aliens so I guess they did weird things.  They chopped her hair up something terrible.  They could have at least cut it off even but they cut it short in uneven lengths and cut clumps out here and there.  Not only was her hair a mess but she was black and blue all over from the rough treatment plus those puncture marks on her arms.

     Wasn’t all bad though.’

     ‘No?  What was good?’

     ‘Heck, can you imagine what it will look like?  This kid’s going to be a real freak, half human, half alien.  Chuck and me figure our fortune is made.  We’ll be able to exhibit it for millions.  Everybody will want to see it, don’t you think?  Wouldn’t you?’

     ‘I sure do.  I’d like to see it I’m sure of that.’

     Trueman and Reid chatted away merrily in this vein through Modesto to the Manteca cutoff.

     ‘So long, Dewey.’

     ‘So long, Wally.  Thanks for the ride.  Good luck with the alien baby.’

     Dewey crossed the highway to take up a position on the cutoff.  He got his thumb out and then broke down in laughter.    It was good rich deep throated laughter, straight from the belly.

 page 1443.

     ‘Those guys actually believe Bonnie’s going to have an alien baby.  Ha ha.  Cracked the car up when they carelessly beamed the car down.  Ha ha ha.  Boy, that Bonnie must have the gift of gab.  Wonder what they’ll do when the alien baby looks just like some guy Bonnie knows.’

     Dewey struggled to control his laughter as he got funny looks from a couple of drivers.  He still had a big smile on his face when a ’56 Ford Fairlane with two men and two women motioned for him to hop in.

     The back door opened so Dewey got in the back; safer when there was someone in the back seat anyway.  If the Mexicans had made him get in the front Dewey might not have been able to control the situation.

     ‘You look as happy as though you’ve embraced the spirit of Jesus.’  John Ahrens, the driver, said in the sepulchral tones of the lay preacher.

      That took the smile off Dewey’s face.  The next largest group after the homos in the habit of picking up hitchhikers were the religious nuts.  In a lot of ways they were worse and actually more dangerous than the homos.

     Dewey forced a laugh out of his throat:  ‘That too; but my last ride was telling me about how his sister-in-law was abducted by flying saucer aliens…’

     ‘That happened to her too.’  Susan Strable exclaimed from the front seat.

     A smile flickered out on Dewey’s face.  ‘Happened to you too, hey?’

page 1444

     ‘No.  But it happened to Jack.’  She said indicating Ahrens.  ‘They flew away at tremendous speeds and took him to seventh heaven and he had a long talk with Jesus and Jesus sent him back to establish the true church of God.’

     Four very serious, very critical sets of eyes fixed themselves on Dewey watching his reaction.  Dewey sobered up immediately.  This was no laughing matter; he was in with religious nuts.

     ‘I heard somebody else did that too.  Let me think.  Oh yeah, a while back a guy name Mohammed flew up to Seventh Heaven on a horse.  I forget the horse’s name.’

     ‘In Greek it was Arion.’  Ahrens extolled who didn’t know the name of Mohammed’s horse either but rather than admit it resorted to a circumlocution that nobody could check or deny.

     That had Dewey stumped since he couldn’t remember the Arab name he was in no position to question Ahren’s assertion.  Ahrens was quick and plausible.  He hadn’t flunked out of the seminary for nothing.  He hadn’t so much as flunked out as been thrown out.  His answers may have sounded plausible but they were invariably wrong.  Nevertheless Ahrens would defend them with violence if necessary.

     Rather than tolerate his madness he had been thrown out.  He hadn’t taken that well either.  He had been on his way back to the President’s office with a 12 gauge under his arm when he had been intercepted by the police.  With the certitude of the righteous Ahrens had been marching down the middle of the street like Gary Cooper at high noon.

page 1445.

     The Christian gentlemen of Mt. Larynx Theological Seminary declined to press charges on condition that Ahrens to far away and stay there.  Oakland was some distance from St. Larynx.

     ‘But the Moslems are full of baloney.’  Susan Strable continued.  ‘No horse can fly as fast as a flying saucer.’  Dewey nodded in agreement.  ‘Besides Jesus told Jack that Mohammed was just a big fibber and wasn’t even there.  At least he didn’t talk to Jesus.’

      ‘Oh well, Mohammed went to talk to a different god, Allah.  Maybe Jesus was out to lunch at the time.’

      ‘There is only one god, the Moslems got that right, but his name isn’t Allah.  The real name of God is too sacred to repeat to the profane so you’re not going to hear it from me.  Suffice it to say, the truth resides in me.’  John Ahrens intoned majestically.

     ‘Boy, that’s for sure.’  Susan affirmed.  ‘But Jack found out for sure that those athiests are all nasty liars.  God isn’t dead.  And the reason people can’t see heaven anymore now that we’ve had our own space things, sputniks or whatever, heaven is retreating from earth at one second less than the speed of light each year.  So while it’s sure going to be hard to get there you can make it if you try.’

     ‘Amen, Susan.’  Ahrens said approvingly.

     ‘So now Jack’s the head and founder of the Intergalactic Church of Christ Immersed In The Extraterrestrial Blood.  We’re going to be bigger than the Catholics and Billy Graham put together.  What do you think of that?’

page 1446.

     ‘Where are you based?’

     ‘Oakland, California.’

     The car had exited the Manteca cutoff entering Highway 80 for the run across the Altamont.  Dewey was beginning to get uncomfortable.  the thought of any church being Immersed In Extraterrestrial Blood, whatever that was, threw the fear of God into him.  Space traveler or not Dewey knew that the Intergalactic Church was rooted in the viciousness of Genesis as they all were.  Judaism was the religion of blood.

     ‘Well, I certainly wish you luck in overtaking the Pope and Billy.  I think you’ve got a long haul in front of you though.’

     ‘We were hoping you’d join us.’  Ahrens sort of commanded.

     ‘No-o-o.  I’m in the Navy.  Can’t do that.’

     ‘Why not?  You must be based in the Bay Area.  You’re returning now.’

     It was getting to close to 5:00 PM on Saturday night so Ahrens wasn’t completely out of line in his surmise.

    ‘No. I’m from San Diego.  Have to be back tomorrow.’

     ‘Humph.’  Ahrens ejaculated, thinking to himself that Dewey was a liar.  ‘That’s not very probable.  You may not even be in the Navy.  I’ll bet you’re just using that uniform to make it easy to get rides.

     ‘You better come along.’  Susan said.  ‘You don’t want to get Jack mad.’

     ‘I suppose not.’  Dewey sighed.  ‘But, I’m not going along anyway.  Let me out at the MacArthur overpass.’

page 1447.

     ‘I think he’s OK.’  The other man spoke confidentially to the back of Ahren’s head.

     ‘We’re not letting you out.’  Ahrens said with a nod.  ‘You’re coming with us.’

     ‘Ooh.’  Susan cooed, seizing Dewey’s hand.  ‘What an honor.  They’re going to sacrifice you.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Right on.  Just let me out.’

     Susan’s head bobbed up and down affirmatively as she tucked her lower lip into her mouth.  ‘Jesus needs blood to keep the world on its axis, he told Jack.  So far we’ve only used the blood of the neighbor’s cats and dogs.  But now we’re going to move up to people because dog and cat blood isn’t keeping the axis too steady.’

     ‘You let me out.  Now! Or you’ve got big trouble Jack.  Screw you and your Intergalactic Church.’

     Ahrens cast an angry glance back at Dewey but the determined look on Dewey’s face made him think twice.  He slammed on his brakes skidding up over the curb with a jolt:  ‘You’ve got five seconds.’  He commanded.

     Dewey didn’t waste any of them.  If he hadn’t had to bend down to pick up his bag he would have made it.  Ahrens squealed back on the highway throwing Dewey into the ivy.  Dewey got up.  He was half a mile from the MacArthur off ramp.  He decided to walk it.  Hitchhiking in what he now considered his hometown was repugnant to him so he walked down to 86th which was a considerable hike.  By the time he reached Da Costa’s, Roque and McLean had already gone out for the night taking Terry with them.

page 1448.

     Pete Da Costa refused admittance to the house.  Not knowing what else to do Dewey sat down on the porch step to wait.  Luck was with him.  Roque came back to pick up an item Terry had forgotten.

     ‘What took you so long?’

     ‘I’ll tell you when we have the time.’

     ‘OK. Come on along.’

      Da costa was none too happy with Trueman.  He felt, quite reasonably that Trueman had attempted to use him throwing himself over for Torbrick.  Trueman’s story was different and right also but it would have taken a demon judge to find for him.

     Terry’s friends were throwing a party.  Thus Trueman was introduced into a circle of high school seniors.  It was there he met Louise Tricka.  Louise was another who was drawn to the misfits.  She liked Trueman a lot, possibly because she too was a square peg in a round hole.

     But for tonight Dewey returned with Da Costa, McLean and Terry.  McLean whose hatred for Trueman since Guam had grown not abated had moved into his place quietly defaming him to Da Costa.  Terry had now cast her net for McLean but he wasn’t anymore interested than Trueman.

     ‘I don’t know how to tell you this Dewey, but my father doesn’t want you in the house.’

     ‘Yeah, he already told me, Roque, but I don’t have any place to stay.  I could sleep in the car, couldn’t I?’

page 1449.

     ‘Yeah, I suppose you could do that.’

     McLean snickered shrugging his shoulders with a broad smile.

      Dewey who saw more sunrises than he cared to remember pulled himself erect with the rising sun.  Unshaven and feeling grungy he sat glowering into the rear view mirror until McLean and Da Costa showed on the porch at 9:30.

     Da Costa suggested they go down and look at the grocery store he worked at.  Trueman didn’t care to meet anyone in his condition so he was all for it.

     Under the law your employer had to guarantee a reservist his job when he was discharged so Roque was technically still employed by Lucky Stores as a check out clerk.

     He worked for a nice store down in the Lake Grove district.  Trueman and McLean were properly appreciative.

     Considering that it had taken Trueman a full twenty-four hours to get to Oakland it might seem that he was overly optimistic in leaving for San Diego at 4:00 Sunday afternoon.  In fact, if things didn’t go completely wrong there was just enough time to make it back, if not for reveille, at least for muster.  Trueman cut it close but he always cut it as a hitchhiker.

      Da Costa and Mclean had flown up so Trueman got Roque to drive him up to the Altamont from which he always commenced his return journey.

     Yes, it’s the same Altamont Pass where the Rolling Stones had their disastrous concert which brought the psychedelic era to an end in 1969.  The Pass is a low hill a few hundred feet high leading into the San Joaquin past Tracy into Stockton.

page 1450.

     There was a certain amount of apprehension in Trueman’s mind.  He was taking the word of someone he couldn’t remember that this was possible.  At this point he wasn’t sure that he wasn’t crazy.

     Life is full of delights…and subsequent disappointments.  Dewey hadn’t been standing on the Altamont long before a green ’58 Plymouth pulled to a stop.  The Plymouth hadn’t yet been nudged out of the low price race with Chevy and Ford but it was fading fast.
     ‘Goin’ to Anaheim.’  The driver Jake Rawlins said.  ‘How far you goin’?’

     Dewey’s heart leapt to this throat as his face broke out into a big smile; maybe there was a god in heaven after all.

      ‘Alright.’  Dewey chirped.  ‘Luck is a lady tonight.  I gotta get back to San Diego.  Thanks for the ride.’

     Dewey bounced against the back of the seat a couple times in delight.  As Jake Accelerated to seventy per Dewey figured he’d be in Anaheim in at least six hours.

     Jake was a real nice guy.  Like most normal people he was only almost normal, not quite there.  Unless you’re in an environment like the Navy which requires apparent rigid conformity everyone has their ways.  Jake’s eccentricity was that he was an advocate of steam powered cars.  In fact, he was an expert, a foremost world-wide authority on steam, so he said.  He communicated with other experts on steam power in autos all over the world, especially in Australia.

page 1451.

     The rest of society wasn’t too interested in steam as compared to the internal combustion gasoline engine so Jake was used to a lot of ridicule.  But like all compulsives he had to talk about his fetish.

     Dewey would have laughed but as he was getting a plum of a ride for free, you could tell Jake wasn’t going to ask for anything but an audience, he displayed reasonably good manners.

     ‘Well.’  Dewey said amiably.  ‘Alright.  So why does your Plymouth have an internal combustion engine?’

     Jake was coughing around an answer about corresponding with his contact in Australia about a particularly difficult problem when he spotted another hitchhiker.  It was a Second Class Gunner’s Mate with three hashmarks on his sleeve.

     ‘Career man.’  Dewey thought.  ‘All those guys are pricks.’

     ‘You’ll be sorry if you pick him up.’  Dewey objected.  ‘All those career guys are arrogant.’

     But nice guys always trip over their own nicety; it goes with the territory.  Jake pulled over.  Dewey tried to get out to let Lee Nelson, the Gunner’s Mate, into the middle but Nelson really wanted the end, he kept pushing Dewey back in.  Unable to win that way Dewey said:  ‘I’ll get in the back.’

     ‘No.’  Jake said.  ‘Stay in front.’

     Dewey groaned to himself at Nelson’s triumphant smile.  He knew there was trouble ahead but he just didn’t know what.

     Nelson turned out to be just as arrogant as Dewey expected.  As Jake continued to rattle on about steam power Nelson guffawed at the very notion of steam power ever becoming popular.  There was no question that he was right but he was betraying Rawlins’ generosity.  As Rawlins continued on in his dotty way Nelson began to become abusive.  You never knew when one of these guys might explode.

     ‘Hey, man, be a little more polite.  You’re riding for free.’  Trueman exhorted.

     ‘You don’t believe this dipshit and his steam power crap do you, you simp?’

     Dewey was thrown on his most tactful approach:  ‘Steam powered cars are an accomplished fact.  The Stanley Steamer is a very famous car.  Everything he says about steam is a fact.  Who knows but they may be able to replace the internal combustion engine with steam if it’s improved.’

      ‘You don’t really believe steam is going to replace gas?’

     ‘Perhaps not in my lifetime but I say that it’s an open question that Jake knows a lot more about than you or me.’

     ‘Shee, you’re as dotty as he is.’

     Nelson at least shut up saying nothing further.  Jake and Dewey carried on the conversation or, rather, Jake rattled away.

     Jake was no slouch behind an internal combustion engine.  He sped through the turns of the cutoff slowing down to pass through Modesto.  Modesto was the story of the law in America, the triumph of pragmatism.  The posted speed limit was twenty-five.  But in order to facilitate passage through town signs proclaimed that the stop lights were timed for thirty-two miles an hour so you were encouraged to speed through town to catch all the lights.  Good laughs were had over that one.

page 1453.

     Outside Modesto Jake really barreled.  He kept the plunger in for ninety per.  The old Plymouth was barely making contact with the road.

     Ninety-nine was not a freeway but a limited access highway.  That meant that there were periodic crossings.  The wide meridian made it difficult for drivers to dart across; you needed a little space to make it.

     Just North of Fresno there was a dangerous crossing.  There were no lights and as the East side of the highway was about ten feet higher a car’s headlights shone down rather than across the highway.  The crossing was one of the most dangerous spots on the highway.

     About a mile away Dewey, whose night and distance vision was exceptional spotted an old double front ended Studebaker sitting on the meridian sloping down from the Northbound lane.  Call it deja vu, call it paranoia, call it prescience but the driver’s obvious indecision made it clear that trouble lay ahead.

     ‘Watch that guy up there, Jake.  Watch that guy, change lanes, slow down, this guy’s dangerous.’

     Nelson was one of those loud mouthed First Division jerks:  ‘Aw, for Christ’s sake, relax.’  He said outshouting Dewey.  It was one of those times when all the world seemed to conspire against one’s better judgement.

     The Studebaker just sat there like a spider waiting for the fly.  Then about a third of a mile away it seemed that the driver just took his foot off the brake and slowly coasted out into the fast lane.  If Dewey had gotten Jake to change lanes they would have missed him.  A quarter mile away Jake jammed his foot on the brake.  The Plymouth which now would never know steam turned into a rocket sled but it slid straight down the highway.

page 1454.

     ‘Goddamn you, Nelson.’  Dewey shouted as the distance closed.  By that Dewey meant that if it hadn’t been for picking up Nelson they would have been beyond the crossing by then and Dewey wouldn’t be stuck in the middle with nothing to hold on to, nor would he have been crazy enough to needle a very excitable driver.  Dewey laid off the whole blame on Nelson although Nelson was too stupid and self-centered to understand his complicity.

     Dewey saw certain death before him.  He went limp as a ragdoll and hoped for the best but he saw his broken crushed body on the highway.  The Plymouth slid into the Studebaker at seventy per midway between the bumper and the cab.

     The collision drove the Studebaker fifty feet down the highway where it sat in the middle of the fast lane pointing South.  The Plymouth was totaled.  Dewey bounced around the seat, first against Jake, then his head caromed off the windshield which miraculously didn’t break, then he slammed against Nelson finally sprawled over both.

      Incredibly no one was hurt.  Dewey sat quietly panting.  He reached up to touch his head where it banged into the windshield.  He didn’t even have a bruise.

     The driver of the Studebaker, an old man of ninety years paced the highway between the two cars dazed, a trickle of blood oozing down from his left temple.

page 1456.

     ‘Look at that old fart.’  Jake cried.  ‘He probably isn’t anymore dazed now than he was before.  You guys are going to stick around to give a police statement for me, aren’t you?’

     Nelson already had his thumb out.

     ‘Give the police your own statement you dumb son-of-a-bitch.  All you had to do was change lanes to avoid the accident.  That’s what I’ll tell the police.’

     Incredibly enough a car screeched to a halt between the wreckage and the roadside to give Nelson a ride.  Nelson was either generous enough or guilty enough to motion Dewey to get in but Dewey wasn’t about to ride the middle with Nelson again.  He was shaken up enough to feel bad.  He passed.

     The two thirty year old men who had been in the Studebaker with the ninety year old driver rushed up to Jake demanding his insurance agent.  The accident was nothing less than an insurance scam.  It had been planned that way.

     The police were slow in arriving.

     ‘Hey Jake, I really gotta go or I’m going to miss muster.’   If Dewey had been thinking flexibly, as Van Wye would have done, he would have had himself taken to the hospital, phoned in and had himself a couple days off.

     ‘No, wait.  You’ve got to give me a statement.’

     As he was pleading the CHP drove up.

     Dewey wrote a statement which the CWB didn’t seem to care about snickering like something was going on and he knew what it was.  Dewey flipped his statement to him then stuck out his thumb.

      Luck, as it were, was still with him, a Ford truck pulled over.  Dewey leaped in.  After the obligatory explanation of what had had happened the driver introduced himself.

     ‘Hi, podna, I’m Clint Hartung, known as the Hondo Hurricane.  I’m originally from Hondo, Texas.  How far you goin’?’

      Dewey eyed Clint over.  Clint was a big man, maybe six-four or six-five, built like the proverbial brick outhouse.  Gentle looking though.  He was dressed in some sort of quasi-western fashion.  A big hat, buckskin jacket with fringes, even before the mid to late sixties.  Kind of a checkered cowboy shirt with pearl buttons and black Can’t Bust ‘Ems over engineer boots.  Dewey figured he was going to be stranger than Jake which he was but in a good kind of way.

     Just by way of making conversation Clint started talking movies.  He was a big Western fan which came as no surprise.  Matt Dillon ran through Dewey’s mind as he looked at Clint and listened to him speak.  He had that slow deliberate way of talking that is supposed to indicate no-nonsense manhood.  Pretty good job too.

     As might be expected John Wayne was Clint’s hero. 

     ‘Really, John Wayne, hmm?’  Dewey mused.

     ‘Sure, he’s the greatest living American. You don’t think so?’

      ‘Wayne?  Hmm.  Well I thought you resembled say James Arness,Matt Dillon, more or maybe the wagon master, Ward Bond, more along those lines rather than Wayne.’

     Clint was flattered at the comparison, especially the Arness bit as that was a major part of the persona he had adopted.

     ‘Yeah, those guys are good but John Wayne he just captures the essence of what an American is don’t you think?’

      Dewey didn’t like John Wayne at all even though he was the number one male hero for nearly every man in America.  But, he was used to giving his opinion when asked for it.

     ‘Well, I’m not a big fan of Wayne.  Seen him in lots of movies of course but he always comes across to me like a card board cut out.  It not so much that he portrays the idea of a man but imitates it.  He doesn’t seem natural.  They try to make him too big putting him on small horses so that his feet drag and give him that small rifle that looks like a toy gun in his hand.   Like in Hondo, speaking of the Hondo Hurricane, he seems to be too much bigger than life to be real.’  Dewey almost said that Wayne appeared to him as a fag but then thought better of accusing the guy considered the most manly man in America of being gay.  Still the guy could have played himself in the Village People with that mincing hip twisting walk.  Especially the one he used in Hondo.

     ‘Yeah, I liked Hondo a lot better than Shane although Shane was another good book ruined by the movie.’

     ‘I thought Audie Murphy made a good Shane.’ 

     ‘I thought maybe that was Alan Ladd rather than Audie Murphy.’

     ‘Um, yeah, I guess you’re right.  For me he was too jumpy, nervous and in drawn.  I though Shane was a lot more confident than that.  Besides that bit at the end when he rode off wounded into the sunset and the kid calls out ‘Mom wants you, Shane, Dad wants you and I want you too.’ was too much.  I nearly laughed myself to death.  Hondo was the real thing.  Louis L’Amour could turn out to be a heck of a writer.  I read a couple other of his things but they weren’t anywhere near Hondo.’

      ‘Well, I really like your tastes in literature but I’m not too sure of your interpretation.’  Clint replied ponderously.  The guy was like an elephant walking off a heavy dinner.

     ‘By the way, I’m Dewey Trueman.  Uh, The Michigan Kid.’  Dewey said in a lame attempt to match the Hondo Hurricane.  ‘How far are you going?’

     ‘I’m on my way to Superstition Mountain.  Ever heard of that?’

     ‘Oh yeah.  Sure. Of course.  Dutchman’s gold.  there’s supposed to be a lost gold mine.  Flying Dutchman or something like that.  Guy had it, went down the mountain and couldn’t find it again, right?’

     ‘That’s close, Kid.  I’m a goldminer.  Got my sluice and pans in back.’

     ‘Right.  Where are your claims and mines.’

     ‘I don’t mine properly speaking.  I pan for it or set up my sluice and wash the gravel.  I been up on 49 around Placerville working the streams around there.’

     ‘I thought that was all played out.’

     ‘Sure ain’t like it was in forty-nine but you never know when you might find a crack or crevice that’s loaded.  No luck of that kind yet but I’m always hopin’.’

      Why do you do it if you don’t find gold?’

     ‘Oh, I find plenty of gold, just not a big cache yet.’  Clint groaned out like a Henry Kissinger in slow motion.  He produced a prescription plastic container half filled with gold.

      ‘That’s gold.’  He said with satisfaction flipping it to Dewey.  Dewey looked at the sand and small nuggets with fascination.  He was disappointed.  Somehow he expected ‘gold’ to be more.  This may have been gold alright but without the capital G.  It was just sort of gold and not a lot of it.

     ‘How long did it take you to pan this out?’

     ‘That’s about three-four weekends worth.’

     ‘Where did it come from?’

     ‘That’s from up on the Tuolmne but I’ve been everywhere for gold.  Alaska, the Yukon, haven’t been to the Australian fields yet but I’m on my to Superstition Mountain now.’

page 1458

     Dewey was so impressed with the Hondo Hurricane that he dropped his usual sarcastic manner.

     ‘Wow, this old pickup really flies along I wouldn’t think it could go so fast for so long.’

     ‘My old Ford here?  I put a ’58 Chevy V8 in it.  Now it’s an all American car.  Best both Ford and Chevy have to offer.  Never know when you’ll need the power when you’re a gold prospector.  Lot of claim jumpers out there and of course you never know when you’re trespassin’ on someone else’s claim until it’s too late.’

     Dewey laughed merrily as the eclectic Ford-Chevy truck raced the moon across the Grapevine through the starry starry night.

     Dewey had assumed that Clint would be passing through San Diego on his way to Superstition Mountain so he was both surprised and disappointed when Clint Hartung pulled over to the side to let him out.

     ‘I take the Lancaster turn off here and take the desert route from here, Kid.  You’re welcome to come along if you like but I hate big cities, always avoid ’em when I can.’

     ‘Well, I think I’m better off where there’s lots of traffic so I have to stay on this road.  Thanks for the ride Hondo, and good luck on Superstition Mountain.’

     Clint was flattered to be called Hondo.  He gave the Kid, er…Dewey, a desert hat salute and roared off honking his horn a couple times in acknowledgment of Dewey’s compliment.  Needless to say he didn’t have any luck on Superstition Mountain or anywhere else gold might be found but he lived the kind of life so many men only dream about.  Maybe he’s updated his old Ford truck with a newer engine by now and is still out there gunning the engine for the vanishing point.  I sure hope so.

page 1459.

     One uneventful ride dropped Dewey off at the head of Lankersheim Blvd.  Cruising was still in progress on Sunday night.  Dewey had made good time notwithstanding the wreck on the highway.  At midnight the cruisers had thinned out but were still plentiful.  Three fruits and two fundamentalists brought Dewey to the on ramp of the Hollywood Freeway which was the way he ought to have come if the Marine, Bill Baird, hadn’t driven him astray.

     A red and white ’56 Chevy pulled over for him.

     ‘Going back to the base, I suppose.’  the driver, Al Pscholka mused.

     ‘Yep.’

     ‘Where might that be, if I might be so rude to ask?’

     ‘I’m based in San Diego.  How far are you going?’

     ‘I could be going not too far; or, on the other hand, I could drop you off at the gate in San Diego.  The choice is yours.’

     ‘O-o-oh.  No kidding.’  Dewey replied grasping the situation.

     Acquiring the rudiments of the road doesn’t require long and patient study, especially as your attention is so concentrated.  Dewey was also grasping the concept of keeping them talking as long as possible without getting to the point.

page 1460.

     ‘You must be a traveling salesman or something.’ He volunteered.

     ‘No.  I’m an accountant.  I add up figures.  I know the score.’  Pscholka said with knowing double entendre.

     He was a good looking fellow of about six-two, slender but muscular.  There was a vicious mean spirited look to him.  His shame at his homosexuality made him fairly brutal toward his conquests.  Otherwise he had a mean derogatory attitude.

     ‘Accounting huh?  That must be interesting.’

     ‘Cut the crap.  You know what I want.’

     ‘Who me?  No, I’m not sure I do.’

     ‘You going to give it up or not?’

     ‘I’m not queer if that’s what you mean.’

     ‘I don’t care if you’re queer or not.  I am.  What I’m saying is we can go somewhere and have a good time and I’ll get you back to the base for muster or you can take your chances on the highway.’

     ‘Pull over and let me out then.’

     ‘Did you hear what I said?’

     ‘Only too well.  Did you hear what I said?’

     At this time they were going through the Stack.  There is a hill in LA where five freeways are stacked one above the other.  This is a very impressive sight.  Dewey was trying to take it in with awestruck eyes while still trying to deal with Al Pscholka.

     Pscholka started to edge over when a light went on behind his eyes.  ‘It wouldn’t be right to let you out here just because you won’t suck my dick.  I’m a nicer guy than that.  I’ll take you to a better place.’

page 1461.

     ‘If it’s a question of right or wrong, in my opinion it would be right to let me out here.  I don’t want to inconvenience you any further.’

     ‘No inconvenience, buddy.  Sit tight.’

     At seventy per Dewey had no choice but to sit tight.  At this point he thought that Pscholka was going to drive him off somewhere that he would have no idea where he was or how to get back.  Pscholka didn’t seem to be carrying a weapon so Dewey had full confidence in his Japanese pocket knife.

     But Pscholka was both much more devious and malicious, devious, malicious and knowledgeable at that.  He haunted these roads every Sunday night.  Since he actually would drop sailors off at the gate his shtick had enough appeal to be successful quite often.

     Still, Dewey was astonished when he made the turn down to Anaheim and kept on going toward the Disney towers.  Somewhere along the way Dewey began to notice a very long line of sailors.  Miles of them spaced one to a hundred feet.  Dark blue blobs with white hats topmost merging with the night under the streetlights.

     ‘God, how are they all going to get rides?’  Dewey mused out loud.

     ‘Yes.  How are they?’  Pscholka laughed quietly pulling over to let Dewey out.  ‘Last chance.  This or the gate?’  He leered. 

     Dewey got out.

     He looked to the right horizon to see hundreds of sailors strung out as far as the eye could see.   He looked to the left to see the same sight.  He looked at the sailor in front of him with a quizzical look on his face.

page 1462.

     ‘I know, man.  Just walk down the highway between me and the next guy and put your thumb out.’

     Dewey walked down and stepped in line.  As he did so the sailor on either side stepped away until they were about one hundred feet apart.  Those adjacent to them did the same until a giant wave effect rippled through the line of sailors for miles and miles.  This happened repeatedly for the two hours Dewey was there.  As a sailor dropped off the ripple kept eddying back and forth.  Dewey moved to and fro as though tossed by an invisible current.

     Trueman lost all anxiety as he pondered the situation.  It seemed hopeless.  There didn’t seem to be enough cars on the road to accommodate this portion of the fleet let alone drivers to pick them up.  There wasn’t even any reason to put your thumb out.

     ‘Probably if you do get picked up.’  He thought.  ‘It will be another queer trying to cut a deal or else.’

     He watched the cars pass with drooping spirits.  Suddenly a car traveling the fast lane at a terrific clip caught everyone’s attention from a mile away.  It was a red and white ’55 Chevy.  While everyone had their attention riveted on the car the driver whipped almost at a right turn across all three lanes of traffic to screech to a stop in front of Dewey Trueman.

     Dewey was astonished beyond belief as adjacent sailors looked in envy.  ‘Why me?’  Dewey thought.  ‘What signals am I transmitting, what criteria were those guys using to select me?’

page 1463.

     The door flew open.  ‘Hop in.’  Said the guy in the passenger’s seat getting out.  ‘Ride the middle.’

     It was a messy car.  The back seat was jammed with clothes and household goods.  A Louisville Slugger lay conspicuously in the space between the front and back seats atop some junk with the brand name up.  Dewey looked across at the driver.  Both guys were lean and wiry, probably not queer, but either high or jacked up on some emotion.  They were obviously out joy riding.  Dewey tried to opt out.

     ‘Hey, thanks for stopping guys but I think I’ll pass.  Wait for something else.  Thanks anyway.’

     ‘Aw, hey now, man, you definitely do not want to hurt our feelings.’

     Dewey followed his gaze down to the Louisville Slugger.  He looked behind him out across the plowed fields that would be houses the next time he passed by.  He wasn’t a fast runner anyway.  The guy could bring him down from behind with the baseball bat as he ran.

     ‘Well.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘Maybe I can talk faster than they can.’

      ‘Hurt your feelings?  Aw, no man,  I didn’t realize it was like that.  But, hey, since I’ll be getting out first why don’t I sit on the outside?  Save you some trouble down the road.’

     ‘No, I’m athletic.  Get in the middle.’

page 1464.

     Dewey slid in.  The door slammed shut; the driver accelerated to the fast lane.  The driver, Dave, who did not introduce himself, got right to the point.

     ‘We need your opinion, man.  I got a real difficult situation here.’

     Dewey didn’t like the depth of that quagmire.  ‘Oh yeah?  My opinion wouldn’t be worth much.  Gee, I just turned twenty.  I don’t have much experience at all.’

     ‘You got enough for me, man.  Here’s the problem.’

     All the time Dave spoke the car was going eighty miles an hour.  The seemingly endless line of sailors to the right ebbed and flowed and danced to the right and left like some giant conga line.  The phenomenon was surely one of the most spectacular sights the world had to offer.  By daylight all those sailors would be gone.  Nearly all of them would make it back in time for muster.  This phenomenon happened every single Sunday night for those who had eyes to see and the intellect to understand.

      ‘Ya see, it’s like this.  I used to be married to this woman, beautiful woman, high school sweetheart.  We were very happy but I wasn’t making much money.  Then this guy comes along.  A coal miner.’

     ‘Coal miner?  In LA?’

     ‘Yeah.  So this guy is making a lot of money; coal miners get paid real good.’

     ‘They do?’

     ‘Sure.  They gotta work underground where the coal is which is real dangerous work.  You wouldn’t do it for the minimum wage would you?’

page 1465

     ‘I wouldn’t do it for a lot of money but there aren’t any coal mines in LA.’

     ‘Shut up and listen.  So my high school sweetheart and wife falls for this guy’s bucks.  That’s all she could see was his money, divorces me and goes to him.   This was a couple years ago.  So I become very distraught.  I don’t know what to do, so I join the Army.  While I am in the Army now I meet this very wonderful girl who loves me only for myself, she doesn’t care whether I have money or not.  I married her last month.’

     ‘Where is there an Army base in LA?’

     ‘There is one.  I’m stationed there, OK?  I know.  Now shut up and listen.  So right after I marry my present wife there is a terrible cave in at the mine and my wife’s new husband is killed.’

     ‘Boy, I never heard about that.  Where are those coal mines in LA?’

     ‘Listen, they have steel mills in LA, don’t they?’

     ‘Maybe.  OK.’  Dewey didn’t know but they did.

     ‘Well, you need coal to make steel don’t you?’

     ‘Coke.’  Dewey corrected.

     ‘Coke?’

     ‘Yah.  Coke.  You coke the coal and use the coke.  It burns hotter.’

     ‘What, are you a wise guy?  So you coke the coal, the point is you need coal to make steel, don’t you.  So where there’s steel mills there must be coal mines.  Get it?’

page 1466.

     ‘Boy.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘There’s a stretch in logic.’  But it wasn’t his car and he was in the middle.

     ‘So the mine roof drops on this guy’s melon and he’s got accidental double indemnity life insurance for twenty-five thousand dollars.  So now my ex is got twenty-five thousand dollars and no husband to spend it with.  So now after I’m married to my current wife my ex wants me to come back to her and the twenty-five grand.  What would you do?’

     So this was the trick.  Dewey thought that if he answered one way they would beat him to death with the baseball bat; if he answered the other way they might let him go.  He wasn’t sure what kind of guys they were.  Dave sounded like he was more interested in the twenty-five Gs than in a good woman but it could be a trick.

     ‘Gosh.’  Dewey tried to equivocate.  ‘That’s a tough one; I don’t know how to call it.’

     ‘Call it anyway.  I gotta know because whatever you say determines what I will do.’ 

     That was what worried Dewey.

     He looked right at Dave’s partner, Jack, who was looking at him expectantly, then back at Dave who was urgently demanding an answer.

     Dewey desperately wanted to give the right answer but he was having a hard time reading Dave.

     ‘Funny I didn’t hear about this coal mine cave in.’  He countered.  ‘You think it would have been on the news.’

     ‘Forget the cave in; you were out at sea.  It happened.  Give me your decision.’

page 1467.

     Dewey grasped that how he answered would determine how he was to be disposed of.  Unable to read Dave he decided to go with his own morality and trust to his luck.

     ‘Umm.  I’d stay with your current wife who loves you for what you are, whatever that may be, and is true to you even in the Army which is really saying something.’

     ‘Really?  Yeah, but my ex is a better looker.  Lots better than my current wife.’

     ‘Well, looks are transient and only skin deep.  Fidelity is worth lots more.’

     ‘Sure.  But what about the twenty-five thousand dollars?  That’s a lot of money.’

     Dewey could nearly count the number of twenty dollar bills he’d seen in his life.  If you laid them all out in a row they wouldn’t reach across the dash board.  He had no concept of money but even in the late fifties it was becoming common to speak in terms of millions of dollars so 25,000 didn’t sound like much,  except maybe to a banker calling a loan.  Dewey could see himself spending it in no time.

     ‘Well, she’s left you once for money and twenty-five thousand won’t last long.  Once it’s gone she’ll probably leave you again.  This is Hollywood.  There’s lots of guys with lots of money, lot more than twenty-five thousand.  If she’s that good looking she’s liable to get some taste and get one of those.’

     The unconscious insult slipped past Dave.

page 1468.

     ‘Say, you know, I think you’re right.  You’ve helped out a lot.  I think I’ll stay with my current wife.’  So saying Dave whipped over to the side of the road, shoved Dewey out and sped off.

      ‘Wow.  That was a close one.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘I thought I was going to die for sure.  Coal mines in LA!’

     Dave had dropped him off way at the end of the line of sailors just where 101 jogged off the freeway through San Juan Capistrano.  A couple of disconsolate sailors were standing in front of the rich black loam of the plowed fields.  They were soon picked up leaving Dewey alone.  His anxiety increased as it was getting late.

     A car pulled over.

     ‘Listen, I’ve been driving all day and I’m bushed.  If you can drive and let me sleep, OK.  Otherwise no ride.’

     ‘Of course I can drive.’  Dewey said who had only been behind the wheel once in his life.

     ‘Do you have a license.’

     ‘Are you kidding?  I’ve been around cars all my life.’  Dewey said, artfully avoiding lieing.

     ‘OK.  But I’m really tired and need to sleep.  Get in on the driver’s side.’

     Dewey ran over to the driver’s side and hopped in.  As he got behind the wheel he realized that he was somewhat hazy about shifting.  Fortunately the car was an automatic.

     ‘Do you usually drive your car in D1 or D2.’  He asked what he hoped would be taken as a polite question and not a betrayal of his ignorance.

page 1469.

     ‘I put it in Drive, of course.  Say, do you really have a license?’

      ‘Does Carter have little liver pills?’  Dewey slipped it into D1 and lurched off.

     ‘You can go to sleep now.’  He announced.

     ‘I’m going to watch you a little, make sure you know how to drive first.’  But he drifted off to sleep immediately.

     The night was very dark.  Dewey was driving very tentatively.  He didn’t always see the Stop signs in San Juan in time to stop, driving through them.  There were no other cars on  the road so that didn’t matter.  Past San Juan he was driving very tentatively, barely fifty miles an hours.  He was not only timid himself but emotionally exhausted by a most adventurous trip thus he wandered over onto the shoulder for a moment.  The driver awakened immediately.

     ‘Jesus Christ!  What’s happening?’

     ‘Nothing. I just ran over a narrow part of the road.’

      ‘Narrow part of the road!  Say, you don’t have a license do you?’

     ‘I know how to drive.  They just didn’t make this part of the road very wide, that’s all.’

     ‘Answer my question directly.  Do you have a driver’s license?’

     ‘Not today.  I’m going to get one tomorrow.’

     ‘Just what I thought.  Stop the car.  Get out.’

     ‘Wait a minute.  I can at least talk to you to keep you awake.  C’mon, give me a ride into San Diego.’  Dewey said stopping the car.

page 1471

     ‘Nobody rides for free.  Can’t drive, can’t ride.  Get out.’

     The driver drove off in a frenzy leaving Dewey in the dark by the side of the road at four in the morning but it was really tight now.

     Rosy fingered dawn shone faintly on the horizon before he caught another ride.  He lamented his situation to the driver who was decent and sympathetic.

     ‘I’ll get you back in time.  It’s going to be close but I was in the service myself.  I know how it is.’

     The man did drop Dewey off at the gate.  Dewey gave him a heartfelt thanks.  Past the gate he broke into a run then raced back to the ship.  They were just about to call roll with Dewey stepped into line in full dress blues.

    ‘Trueman.’

     ‘Yo.’

     ‘You’re late, Trueman.’  Dieter glowered.

     ‘Whadya mean I’m late, Chief?  You called Trueman and I said yo.  Sounds like I’m here to me, I can hear myself talking to you, doesn’t it sound like I’m here to you?  I’m talking to ya.’

     ‘Wise ass.  Don’t push your luck with me.  You’re not in dungarees.  You work in that uniform and you go over the side to paint the fo’c’sle.  Get moving.’

     Dewey wasn’t happy about that trying to find a way around it.  On the fo’c’sle he took off his middie folding it up on deck in what he hoped was a secure place.  There was nothing he could do with his pants but he hoped to dink around all morning so he wouldn’t get paint on them.

page 1471.

     Dieter showed up on the fo’c’sle to torment him followed by Blaise Pardon.

     ‘You’re out of uniform, Trueman.  Put that middie back on.’

     ‘Go down and change, Trueman.’  Pardon countermanded.

     Dieter gave him a dirty look but let the matter slide walking aft.  That was one the reason the old salts had no use for Pardon;  he was too reasonable.

Dazed And Confused

     Life moved along at a pace that was beyond bewildering.  There was no time to ingest the stream of happenings let alone digest their significance.  Dewey experienced life like a leaf blown by a storm, every touch down was too brief and fleeting to leave a sense of meaning.  Whatever understanding he had took place on the subliminal level.  He was way too busy just staying alive; catching his breath was out of the question.

     His nervous excitement was such that he was unaware that he wasn’t even getting enough sleep.  On the weekends he got no more than six hours.  During the week he got not much more.

     His agony was such that he preferred to be away from the Navy as much as possible at whatever cost.  Two weekends a month was not enough; he wanted all four.  The only chance he had to do this was to find a stand-in.  In this he was in luck.  The ET who replaced Dart Craddock was called Corey Wells.  His situation was that he wanted liberty on all weekdays while the weekends meant nothing to him.  He was willing to swap the one for the other.

page 1472.

     The two sailors were brought together and an agreement was struck.  The question remained whether both men would honor the terms.  Even on such a small ship as the Teufelsdreck where one would think it rash to incur enmity the men betrayed each other without a second thought.  No one seemed to worry about their reputation.

     It was always possible that either man would refuse to honor his obligation.  If that happened the other was AWOL and not available for his watch.  Thus, initially at least, it was necessary for Trueman to have a backup.  Trueman took Wells’ duty first so Wells had a friend in reserve which proved unnecessary as Trueman always kept his word.  Trueman, whose friends were all leaving for the same weekend, agreed to pay Laddybuck two dollars a day to stand his watches in addition to Laddybuck’s own, who had duty, if Wells defaulted.  Trueman and Wells were grateful to find someone who was honest and whose needs were complementary.  Thus Trueman had every weekend free for the next several months.

     Kanary tried to interfere by shifting watch times but he found he was messing with more than Trueman being compelled thereby to keep his hands off.

     Trueman’s other problem was eating.  Navy food as prepared by Bocuse was intolerable to him.  He could eat only one out of three breakfasts so he filled up on toast.  Lunches were tolerable but the soggy green beans that accompanied every other dinner meant that he ate sparingly.  On the weekends he ate little if at all.  Needless to say a toothpick cast a bigger shadow than he did.

page 1473.

     Nervous excitement masked any sleep or nutritional defects Trueman might have had.  He had a strong consititution.  However the general trend of events was very unsettling to his mind.  The question of who had tried to commit him to the mental institution was worrisome.  That Tory Torbrick was the agent of someone was obvious but it seemed impossible that the Navy should have assigned him to the Teufelsdreck with that object in mind and he had known who Dewey was when he came aboard.

     Without knowledge of Yisraeli Trueman was mystified.  He indirectly associated the attempt with Kanary from whom he felt the pressure of discrimination but he could assign no cause.  He ruled out Captain Ratches and he refused to give Dieter the credit of enough intelligence to conceive or execute such a plan.

     However his suspicions seemed confirmed during the year’s K-gun exercizes.  On the day the U.S. Marines went ashore in Lebanon the squadron took to sea to further the Navy’s apparent attempt to rid the sea of tuna fish or any other living matter.

     First Division gathered around the Depth Charge racks and K-guns to perpetuate their skill at sowing the seas with high explosives.  Trueman took his former position at the second starboard mortar.  Dieter stood looking at him as the bile rose to his face to give him that liverish complexion.

     His mind roved longingly back to his attempted entombment of Trueman in the Depth Charge locker.  Snarling inwardly he ordered Trueman to go below during the exercizes.  Trueman was in no position to debate or disobey so he stepped down the after hatch to First.

page 1474.

     Dieter walked over and dropped the hatch on him.  As Trueman sat alone in the compartment his ubiquitous nemesis the queer Kanary dogged down the port hatch then crossing over to starboard, glowering menacingly as though he were actually executing Trueman, he dogged the starboard hatch.

     The fantastic Dieter having failed to destroy Trueman in the Depth Charge locker now dreamed that he was blowing Trueman up in First.  The aft charges were exploded with little more than a distant rumble.  But then the K-gun charges fired to the side began to report.  The first charges were deep but you could still hear the displaced water rushing up to the side of the ship followed by a dull thud as the pressure hit the side.

     The mad Bos’n’s Mate was nearly insane with rage at Trueman’s lack of reverence or interest in his exploits as the Hero of Saipan.  As the exercise progressed the charges were set for shallower and shallower depths.  The thuds became clangs as the displaced water crashed against the hull followed by the plate rattling concussion.

     Becoming more enraged as the charges become shallower Dieter ordered the next at sixty feet down two hundred feet out.  The force increased considerably.  The plates not only clanged but rattled as the sound reverberted up and down the hull.  The force rocked the ship a little but it didn’t heave out of the water as it had the previous year.

page 1475.

     Dieter slipped into another world.  He was about to order the next charge at the shallowest and closest in.  The charge at that speed,depth and distance might have burst the plates.  Dieter was so far gone in his chagrin as to sink his ship in an attempt to trap Trueman below.  From Saipan to sinking his own ship.

     However the last charge had brought the Captain to his feet.  Standing in the starboard lookout with his glasses trained on Dieter he had the bridge talker call Dieter to the phone.

     ‘That’s enough for today, Chief.  Pack it in and clean it up.’

     ‘Yes, Sir.’  Dieter replied as his mind slowly returned from its nether regions.

     The sailors who had it figured out blew out a sigh of relief.  The Mad Chief was derailed from committing a crime of the first magnitude.

     The after hatch was propped up as the Gunner’s came down to replenish their Depth Charges.  Dieter followed them down to gaze first lovingly into the hold he had wanted to place his nemesis and then over at Trueman as though he wished him there.

     Trueman did not consciously process the information entering his brain.  It went directly into his subconscious where it worked like yeast in bread.  He had a little over a year to go; he knew he must be very wary.

     His mental malaise was exacerbated by the subsequent discharge of the men of low I.Q.  As in Guam over fifty men left the ship at one time.  They received their orders on the same day streaming off the Teufelsdreck at a happy gallop.  As Trueman looked at Dieter he thought ruefully that the fat mad Chief should join them.  Trueman was wrong though, Dieter wasn’t that dumb he was the proud possessor of a score of thirty-three.

page 1476.

     As the ship had never been fully replenished after Guam in addition to the departure of the Black sailors the crew was very depleted.  First was nearly half empty as a couple dozen bunks were left unused.  Trueman who had been spitefully moved from his favorite bunk to a middle bunk in the starboard center tier now took the opportunity to move back to his former bunk announcing that anyone who didn’t like it could kiss his ass.  As no dissenting voices were raised it may be assumed that all were unpleased with the opportunity to kiss Trueman’s ass.

     The pleasure of the unwonted roominess was destroyed as the replacements began to come aboard.  The amazing thing was that the low I.Q. sailors had been the most objectionable men on board.  However the replacements, if of a higher I.Q., were even worse but in different ways.

     These were all men of the high school class of ’57.  Now it is a fact that the class of ’56 had the highest ever scores on the scholastic aptitude tests.  Beginning in ’57 the scores began a long decline that to my knowledge hasn’t ended yet.

     The causes of the decline in the way of society are debated with no results but it must be true that years subsequent to ’56 did not digest the material if they received it.

     This fact was evident to the perplexed members of the crew.  The new men’s reactions to Navy discipline were even more deplorable than those arriving with Dewey.  The new men even made Frenchey seem like a stellar performer.  Frenchey had always gone through the paces but the new men refused even to do that.  Worse, they even seemed incapable.

page 1477.

     The class of ’56 seemed to be different than earlier years but intermediate between those and subsequent years.  Somehow they were neither of the Depression mentality or the Affluent mentality.  They were neither as solemn and dutiful as the earlier years nor as flighty and irresponsible as the subsequent years.

     The education and expectations of the younger men seemed entirely different from what had gone before.

     The difference of a single year had changed their expectation toward affluence.  Born in ’39  they had come to an age of awareness in the post-war years.  Too young to have a memory of the Depression or War years they knew only the boom years of the late forties and fifties.

     Having begun high school in ’55 and ’56 they were all of the Rock and Roll generation.  The class of ’55  had missed the Rock and Roll influence completely.  In that respect their tastes were those of the preceding generation.  The class of ’56 had been mixed in its influence.  Half had rejected Rock and Roll completely while a quarter accepted it as part of what was happening; another quarter, to which Dewey belonged, had embraced the music wholeheartedly.  Still, Dewey had little in common with the new men on that score.

      In addition the new men, while not of the TV generation, had grown up with it during their teen years thus identifying completely with the tube while Dewey had only known TV for about three years before leaving high school.  It is to be assumed that the classes before ’56 had less TV time than that or none.  So that while the new men had been absorbed into the TV phenomenon, earlier men saw TV as a phenomenon not part of their psychic organization.

page 1478.

     Howdy Doody, Kukla Fran and Ollie and the Mickey Mouse Club were alien to the older men.  The importance of the Mickey Mouse Club especially should not be under estimated.  The World War II vets like Dieter had no inkling of the emerging consciousness.

     In addition and most importantly the new men had attended high school while the civil rights movement was gearing into full swing.  The resultant uproar was very disquieting as the schools began to move from educational institution into Thought Management systems.  Learning became subsidiary to attitude formation.

     Black-White relations were managed by a small percentage of Whites concentrated in the universities, the press, publishing, entertainment and like influential areas.  They were and are a self-righteous group of people who will use any excuse to belittle others and magnify themselves.  They consider their opinion paramount to the law or perhaps more accurately they equate their opinion with the law.  They have been in control from the times of Reconstruction to the present.  They assume that they are pure and all others are foul and evil.

     They assumed that all other Whites were and are incurable bigots.  They assumed that all others had to be tightly controlled and beaten into submission.  They moved from individualism into collectivism.  They were censorious; they would tolerate no discussion of the problems and difficulties except on their own terms.  Hence, while claiming to be pure democrats they imposed an authoritarian system not less severe than Hitler or Stalin punishing by expulsion from the community of anyone who dissented from their explicit viewpoint for any reason.

page 1479.

     Small violations were met with draconian punishments.  A sportscaster using the word ‘nigger’ in private conversation would be stripped of not only his livelihood but his self-respect.  These criminal demons would actually equate such a person with Hitler.  In a word they had been driven insane by their self-righteousness.

     In their efforts to punish other Whites by making them consort with Negroes they wantonly insulted Black Folk by denying that they were capable of educating themselves.  They completely destroyed the Black educational infrastructure turning an entire cadre of educators out on their ears from satisfying and rewarding careers to menial tasks.  These Whites didn’t look forward and they didn’t look back.  They weighed and evaluated nothing they merely acted out of their self-righteousness.

     No consideration was taken of either the Negro intellect or the White intellect.  No attempt at psychology was made.  Thus with no preparation of either Blacks or Whites, Blacks were thrown into what Blacks considered a hostile environment.

      Now, the image of this little Black girl in her cute little pink dress being escorted down the walk by the Army in Little Rock is a very effective piece of propaganda but cute little Black girls would never be the problem.  Big Black boys with knives and razors bent on vengeance would be.

page 1480.

 

 

    

    

A Short Story

The Voice Of The Turtleneck

from the

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams Collection

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     Dewey whizzed South on the Nimitz down to the Santa Clara Valley in the bright shining California sunshine down around Milpitas.  On this day he was working the West side of the Valley.  The City of Santa Clara itself.  One of the ritzier areas of the West side but still in the flats not yet up in the hills or the class of Saratoga.  Leaving the Nimitz near Tropicana Village he crossed over under the morning fog banks hovering over the West Valley.  The sun came later on the West side of the Bay; either that or the fog was stronger than the sun over there.

     In the San Francisco Bay area a fog creeps in every night that mitigates the terrific heat during the day.  Usually it dissipated by noon or one.  In the Santa Clara Valley it was never strong enough to reach the dry barren toast colored East side.  The contrast between East and West was quite striking.

     Dewey muttered his line a few times as he drove past Santa Clara University on the way to call on Thom Nelson Turner.  ‘Hi, Lowell, Smith and Evers.  I’m making a courtesy call to remind you that your mortgage payment is two months overdue.  If it’s not in by the end of the month the house will go into automatic foreclosure proceedings at the end of the third month.  It’s in the computer, I don’t have anything to do with it.’

     He delivered his line in a cold metallic way that was more impersonal than the machine he referred to.  Although his line and manner were dictated by his extreme shyness and fear he had hit upon a most effective approach.  He had been on the job less than six months.  Delinquencies had plummeted by seventy percent.

     He found his street which led into an unusual cul-de-sac.  A block down the street he entered a square about two blocks long.  There was even a median about twenty feet wide with a street on either side.  Trees embowered the median and the house fronts.  There was only one entry.  Dewey who had become somewhat of an expert on streets, roads and highways had never seen anything quite like it and never would again.  Under the dreary overcast the wooded square took on a paranoic defensive cast.

     In fact sullen eyes peered out at him from windows and even from behind a bush.  In the few months he had been covering the Valley his legend had spread.  The white ’63 Chevy he drove had become known as the  White Spook.  Dewey had no idea that he was known so well.  He was just doing his job.  As far as he was concerned all anyone had to do to avoid his call was keep the mortgage payment current.  A mortgage payment was better than rent and it was one or the other.  You couldn’t avoid it; you had to live somewhere.

     The psychology of the homeowners was different.  They all thought he could do them a favor, not come by.  They didn’t want to be embarrassed before their neighbors by having the Spook call on them.  Lowell, Smith and Evers couldn’t wait for their money on the whims of their debtors.  They were quite pleased with Dewey’s performance.

     In comparison with Tropicana Village on the East side where the houses sold for ten thousand dollars, on the square in Santa Clara the houses went for thirty or forty thousand dollars.  Unbeknownst to any of the residents as well as to any pundit or seer within ten short years these same houses would be selling for a half million dollars.  All these people had to do to become rich was to hold on.

     Holding on was their greatest fear, their sincerest hope.  They had fought their way into one of the finer neighborhoods.  As they were all jobholders their continued success depended on the whims of other men.  The fear lurked in their minds that they might be looking for another job at any time just as Thom Turner was now.  While they denigrated each other on the square a shudder had gone down their collective spine when Turner’s misfortune reached them.  Now the visible evidence of Turner’s fate was cruising slowly down their street.  A wave of fear and loathing washed over them.

     Unconsciously Dewey had a sinister way of locating his addresses.  When  he entered a street he cruised slowly looking left and right leaning at an angle so that he could see the numbers through the passenger’s side.  He appeared to be peering in windows as though he were a burglar casing the neighborhood.

     Darby Ramme who had instructed Dewey drove smartly up to the address stopping with a seeming purpose.  Turner’s house was on the corner lot at the far end of the street.  Dewey turned and backed into a space in front of the house.  Getting out he stepped around to the passenger’s side to adjust his clipboard while surveying the house.  The place had been well maintained, easy maintenance style.  The yard was ablaze with pink iceplant as ground cover rather than lawn.  There was a large wooden plaque at the top of the yard facing the blaze of the iceplant that read Thom Nelson Turner.  The three initials were very large in red while the rest was smaller in white, blue background.  ‘TNT’ thought Dewey.  ‘Dynamite.  I must be dealing with a powerful explosive personality here.’

     Inside Thom Nelson Turner stood behind a curtain studying Trueman, making his own evaluation.  Turner had been raised by the women of his family to think of himself as a leader of men.  His family had been lower middle class with a blue collar background.  They thought of themselves as some of Nature’s elite.  Thom had been a big fairly good looking kid.  His family had elevated him to handsome deciding that while other richer families had a greater claim to prominence Thom was a ‘natural’ leader.  The whole family had assiduously promoted him throughout childhood as a leader of men.  They had had moderate success.

     Thom himself had had difficulties assuming the role.  He had felt uncomfortable in it.  He was not, in fact, a leader.  As he grew older the notion that he was fixed itself in his mind.  As a young teenager when his womenfolk were trying to build him up there had been one boy from a still lower social level who had jeered at his pretensions refusing to accept his claims as a ‘natural’ leader.  The boy had refused to take his place causing Thom to doubt himself.  As Turner studied Dewey there was either something about him that reminded Thom of this earlier boy or else in his dejected frame of mind he projected his needs unto Dewey.

     Turner had never had the qualities of a leader.  True he was big and goodlooking but his was not a commanding presence.  His stance lacked a certain stolidity, there was that which was tentative in his manner.  His confidence which had never been supreme had been cracked in college.  His mother had pampered her darling excessively.  Turner had never had to do anything for himself.  His mother insisted that he didn’t, as she adored picking up after him.  She had even flushed the toilet after him.  Turner had never learned to flush.

     This was the cause of his first embarrassment in college when his brothers at the Theta Upsilon Gamma took offense at the unflushed toilet.  Turner was tracked down and severely reprimanded.  He also found it more difficult to command in college causing some self doubt.  He married in the summer before his Junior year so that he would have someone to pick up after him.  Audrey, his wife, also learned to flush the toilet after him.

     After all Thom was big and handsome; he had a lot of big talk about his future success.  Audrey bought into his program revering him almost as much as his mother.

     If Thom found it difficult to command at school he could compensate at home thereby maintaining his self image.

     Turner graduated from Arizona State, Tempe to find a job with the bluest of the blue chips, Big Blue itself.  His job was in the Bay Area.  Turner had neither the intelligence or the drive to play  the role his mother had assigned him.  There were bigger bulls at IBM than Thom.  His behavior as he sought to affirm his role against the competition was seen as aggressive and boorish.  It was not easy to get rid of him but now five years later he had been eased out in the classic manner.

     A recruiter had approached him saying that Thom’s reputation had reached him, the recruiter was authorized to offer him a job at another firm, smaller but growing more rapidly offering more opportunity for rapid advancement.  The salary was significantly better.  Thom took the bait.  Whereas IBM would probably never have fired him his new firm which felt no obligation to him dumped him within a month.  Thom never was sharp enough to understand the ploy.

     Thom Nelson Turner had been devastated.  His facade cracked but he was now unable to let go of the notion that he was a natural born leader of men.  He had been silly enough to go back to IBM for ‘his job.’  Rebuffed there he signed on with various employment agencies.  They knew how to read the signs better than Turner.  He had been searching for five months not yet realizing that he had been declassed.  He would now have to accept a lesser position.

     He had not reduced his standard of living when he was released as he, unaware of the ruse used on him, expected to be reemployed immediately at an even higher wage.  He had gone through his savings.  The painful result was that Dewey Trueman was now at his door.

     Thom Nelson Turner now made the mistake of his life.  He decided to try to humiliate Trueman; to vent his spleen on him.  Had he merely responded by saying, ‘OK, I’ll take care of it.’ which was all he had to do his life would have been much different.

     Dewey rang the bell poising his pen to check off the name and leave.  ‘Lowell, Smith and…’  he began as Turner presented himself at the door.

     ‘Yes, yes, I know who you are.  Step inside.’  He commanded imperiously.

     Thom had been informed by the grapevine what to expect.  Word had already gotten around which days Dewey would be where in the Valley.  Turner had been expecting him.

     Dewey was surprised.  On the one hand he mainly dealt with the woman of the house and only rarely made any kind of personal contact.  There was no need for it; there was nothing at his discretion to do for anybody.  Still Dewey always had a curiosity about how people lived; when he was asked in he enjoyed looking at the different life styles.

     Dewey stepped into the house of TNT closing the door behind him.  At work Thom wore his tie and white starched shirt.  At home he liked to be what he called casual.  This meant he substituted a white turtle neck shirt for the tie and starcher.  He wore a blue sport coat with grey pants.  His aging wing tips contrasted inconguously with the turtle neck shirt.  He took up a stance a few feet from Dewey assuming a pose somewhat like Charles De Gaulle in all his majesty.

     The living room and dining room occupied the front of the house; the kitchen and the living quarters were behind the two rooms.  Dewey could see Audrey and the two kids cautiously watching from behind a bedroom door.

     The living room was sparsely furnished.  A green overstuffed corduroy couch was faced by two overstuffed green corduroy chairs.  A medium sized rectangular walnut stained wooden table separated the two units of furniture.  The table rested on a beige throw rug which covered a hardwood floor.  A nondescript floor lamp was between the two chairs; another was behind the couch.  There were no pictures on the walls, but arranged in staggered suspended shelves against the back wall were several bound sets of books.  Dewey smiled when he saw them.  A set of Collier’s Encyclopedia reminded him of when he had responded to an ad seeking men with executive talents.  Selling those things wasn’t easy; he wondered who the lucky guy had been.  There was also a set of Great Books, more door to door stuff.

     Dewey stared in wonderment at the last set.  It was a complete set of the Oxford English Dictionary.  ‘For Chrissakes’ he thought, ‘this guy must think culture comes in look alike bindings.’  Still Dewey understood because he had a similar weakness.  If he’d had the money he might have had the same things, except for the Collier’s.

     Then Dewey looked at Turner.  He froze.  He recognized the persona at once.  As Turner had been bedeviled by a boy who wouldn’t accept his leadership so Dewey had had a ‘natural’ leader attempting to foist himself on him.  It was deja vu all over again, twice, both sides.  Dewey looked at the turtleneck.  He hated turtlenecks.  There was no more pretentious shirt in the world to him.  He despised men who wore turtlenecks.  He thought they were all pretentious nerds.  He noticed that a thick role of fat was developing around Turner’s waist.  Dewey who was himself pencil thin despised people who allowed themselves to get fat.  He noticed that Turner had been given a good haircut and his clothes fit properly.  Barbers wouldn’t give Dewey decent haircuts and clerks in men’s stores always seemed to botch his tailoring.  Things just didn’t fit him the way they should.  Dewey held this against Turner also.  They stood and bristled at each other. 

     ‘This time’ thought Dewey.  ‘I’ve got the Force with me.  I win.’

     ‘Your name?’  Turner said with insulting dryness.

     ‘What’s that?’  Dewey sparred.

     ‘Your name.’  Turner admonished as though to a child.

     ‘Oh, I’m from Lowell, Smith and Evers.’  Dewey said, mockingly avoiding answering the question.

     ‘Don’t try my patience, my man.  Give me your name.  I think you’re probably obligated to.’

     ‘What?  You mean my own name?  No, I’m not obligated to.  But, since you ask so politely, Dewey Trueman.  Why?  Do you think you know me?’

     ‘No, of course I wouldn’t know you.  I just like to know who your masters have sent.  Dewey Trueman?  Is that a real name?’

     ‘Sure.  Why not?’

     ‘Did your mother name you after the Dewey-Truman presidential race?’

     ‘Oh, I don’t think so.  That was in ’48.  I was born in ’38.  Our name is Trueman.  Can’t help that.  Perhaps she named me after that crime busting D.A.  I don’t know.  By the way, how do you pronounce your name T-om or Th-om?  Dewey said pronouncing the H.

     ‘I don’t think you’re in a position to taunt me, son.  I can report you to your masters.’

     ‘I don’t think you’re in a position to complain.  Another month and you’re out of here.  You haven’t made your mortgage payment two months running.  Naughty, naughty.’

     ‘I always wondered who would do work like this.’  TNT sneered.  ‘Now I know.  Do you enjoy betraying your fellow man?’

     ‘Oh well, I do have a job and my rent is paid which yours isn’t and you don’t appear to have any prospects for a job.  But don’t despair.  You know, I’m going to quit this job to go to college this fall.  I’ll put in a good word for you.  You can have this job.  At least you’ll be able to make your house payment.’

     ‘I want you to take a message back to your masters.’  Turner said imperiously.

     ‘I don’t have…’  Dewey began to add masters.

     Turner interrupted him.

     ‘Tell them that they have nothing to fear…’

     ‘Oh, I don’t have to tell them anything.’  Dewey interrupted in turn, riding over Turner’s upraised finger and twisted manhood.

     ‘What’s important here is that payment is two months delinquent.’  Turner stuttered a beginning.  Dewey raised his voice continuing.  ‘If we receive the payments by the end of the month the matter is closed.  No harm done.  Foreclosure proceedings will begin at the end of three months if payment is not received.  It’s all in the computer.  There’s nothing that can be done about it.  You will have an additional three months to make good all deliquencies, if that is not done you will be evicted.’

     ‘Now see here…’  Turner fumed wounded to the soul to be talked to, no, not even to, at by this seeming evil apparition from his childhood.  It seemed that that earlier boy’s hand had reached out from the past to grab Thom’s throat wreaking a decades long vengeance for the past insult.  Turner began coughing as though he were being choked.

     Dewey showed no outward emotion although glowing inwardly as though avenging that decade old insult to himself by a different Thom Nelson Turner who had gone by another name.  Dewey who had been badly hurt had also learned how to hurt.  He continued on in his finest mechanical drone trying to project the notion that he dealt with thousands of deadbeats and Turner was just one of them.

     ‘Of course you have the right at any up to eviction to remedy the default by paying it.  Lowell, Smith and Evers encourages it as they would much rather recover their loan than reclaim your house which is a nuisance to them unlike what you might think.  And I would too.’  Dewey added unctiously.

     ‘I am not used…’ Turner began to say, being treated this way.

     ‘I have said all that I am authorized to say.’  Dewey broke in.  I hope you’ll excuse me but I’ve got other dead…uh, people to call on.’  Dewey gave Turner his blandest look, reaching for the door.

     ‘I am not authorized to say this.’  Dewey said, thinking in his conscious mind to be helpful while his subconscious mind sought to twist the knife, ‘but if this house is too much for you, you might check to see if they would swap you one of our properties in Tropicana Village.  We foreclose on those all the time.’

     ‘Tropicana Village?’  Turner ejaculated, stung to the quick.  The distance between his notion of his dignity here in Santa Clara and Tropicana Village was more than a few miles.

     ‘Yeah.  Tropicana Village.  It’s over on the East Side.  Houses go for about ten thousand.  You should have enough in this one to maybe even just pay for one of those outright.  All you’d have to worry about is taxes.

     ‘Tropicana Village, indeed.’  Almost with tears in his voice.  He thought that Dewey might as well have asked him to pitch a tent in the county dump.  Tropicana Village wasn’t that bad, a definite comedown from Santa Clara, however.  But heck, even those houses would be selling for over a hundred thousand in the not too far distant future.  Nelson should have taken Dewey’s advice.  Things would have worked out.

     ‘I demand…’ Turner said tensing his whole body and shaking his finger at Dewey.  ‘I demand to talk to your superiors.  I’m going to report your insolence.’

     ‘I don’t have any superiors, Mr. Turner, I’m actually a free agent.’  Dewey replied.  ‘But here’s a card with the office number, ask for Bill Masters; although all you have to do is make your payment on time and you’ll never have to see me again.  I wasn’t insolent, I was just giving you good advice.  Just make your mortgage payments.’

     Turner couldn’t meet his obligation.  He couldn’t make the payment and he had foolishly allowed a person he considered beneath his contempt to exercise power over him.  His mother’s teaching had been his downfall.  He had nothing to gain by attempting to intimidate Trueman.  His ‘natural’ authority had not extended that far.  A man who hasn’t made his mortgage payment has no choice but to be humble.  It hadn’t even been necessary for him to have been humble.  All he had to do was say:  ‘I’ll take care of it.’ and shut the door.  At that point Dewey and done his job and the thing was over in his mind.

     Now Turner was completely humiliated.  His leadership over what he considered a very inferior person had been rebuked.  That role was forever gone from him.  He now learned it for the first time.  A new future arose before  his eyes.  He had been driven from the Garden as he had driven that boy from the Garden long ago.  Now TNT was an outcast.

     ‘You’ll have to flush the toilet for yourself from now on.’  Audrey said, coming from the bedroom to walk in front of him as he stood silently sobbing.  ‘Neither I nor my children will do it again.’

     Audrey had been watching.  So long as Thom had been her knight in shining armor she had been willing to be subservient to him.  She didn’t approve of it but she could understand his being unemployed.  She accepted his story that he had to be careful in accepting another job which, after all, was not only true but prudent.  She didn’t know where the mortgage payment was going to come from but she had faith that he would provide it.

     But she knew her husband and she understood something about symbols.

     She knew very well that Turner had not considered Trueman worthy.  It was as clear to her from her husband’s voice and bearing as it had been to Trueman.  While she herself had seen nothing objectionable in Dewey, she saw the signs of the lack of respect of other men for him.  Signs that Trueman was not even aware of.  His hair was his own idiosyncrasy but being long and unruly might have been because barbers refused to give him a good haircut.  She took it that way.  She also noticed that whoever had altered his suit had raised the buttons enough so that the bottom of his jacket swung open bumpkin style instead of hanging straight and svelt.  She also noticed that one or two buttons had been removed from the sleeves.  The two buttons that remained had been spaced apart to produce a foolish effect.

     She surmised that all that had been necessary to send Dewey on his way was some vague assertion.  Thom had displayed a serious lack of judgment.  Combined with the job and the rent she realized that Turner was not the man she had thought him to be.

     Thom’s daughter Joanie uncertain by her mother’s demeanor what to do came out and stood between her mother and father.  Thom’s five year old son, Thim, not knowing what was happening but afraid for and sympathetic with this father stood by his side and took his hand.  A fatal move on Thim’s part.

     Turner became immobilized.  It seemed to him as though Thim was pitying him.  Suddenly he realized that his son might become more of a man than he could now hope to be.  At some time in the not distant future his son would likely surpass him.  He couldn’t let that happen.  Thom’s subconscious began to well up into his conscious mind flooding and overwhelming it.  He passed into a fugue state.  Thom’s next actions were subconscious, committed in a dream state.  It wasn’t that he didn’t know what he was doing but he wasn’t conscious of it and would always deny, had he been asked, that he did it.  He didn’t consciously think this but in his totally subconscious state he feared that Thim would despose him when he reached manhood.  He couldn’t let that happen.

     He gave Audrey a sickly smile that begged her permission and forgiveness.  Audrey would never admit that she knew what happened.  She sure did but in commiseration for her husband’s misery from the depths of her unaware subconscious being she gave Turner permission.

     Joannie, who sensed the tension but had no idea what was happening ran to throw her arms around her mother.  She would be haunted all her life by a fear of impending disaster.

     ‘Come along, Son.  Forgive me, my child.’

     Taking Thim into his bedroom he lowered the child’s pants and sodomized him.  ‘I’m sorry, Son, but, you see, I had to do it.  Maybe you’ll undersand some day.  You’ll never be a better man than me now.’

      The entire episode passed into the subconscious of all the family.  The situation was mythologized differently in the dreams of each.  They would all be plagued by troubled sleep for the rest of their lives.

     While the two children would forget the Field of Action and even the Challenge to their consciousness their parents would be able to remember the Field and Challenge but they would be unable to associate their Response to it.  They would attach guilt to that mortgage guy and loath him accordingly.

     In terms of psychology Challenge and Response is what conditions our personality.  A weak Response to Challenges blights our life forever unless the conflict is resolved.

     Turner, his self-conception already under stress from his recent reverses, had pitted his manhood against that of Dewey Trueman.  The Force was with Trueman.  The only way Turner could have won was if he could have intimidated Trueman into not accessing the Force, thus abdicating his manhood and transferring it to Turner.  Trueman had used the Force, laughing at Turner in the process.  Turner could not stand the resulting belittlement.

     Totally defeated by the Challenge he had foolishly made, Turner had then to Respond to it.  He was old enough and he had, or should have had, enough education to intellectualize the defeat.  Failing that, since he considered himself Trueman’s better, he could have laughed it off, gone out and kicked some cans.  But as his manhood, his sense of being a ‘natural’ leader of men, was under siege by powerful forces he could not control, he capitulated his manhood.  He buckled, he surrendered to the Challenge.

     Nor did he ever develop the psychological resources to recover.  His wife who was then as dependent on him as he was on her did not leave him but toughed out all the years until Thim turned twenty-five.  At that time Thim confessed to his father that he was a homosexual.  His father, not conscious of the real reason why, accepted the confession without a murmur embracing his son.  Audrey who had extended her permission to Thom but not her forgiveness then exercised her reserved right to divorce Thom.

     Turner during those years unable to excercise leadership in his chosen arena relapsed into ‘leading’ all manner of charitable causes from the anti-nuclear movement to the spotted owl.

     Trueman, on his part, experienced a subconscious feeling of great triumph.  He wouldn’t have been able to explain his actions but once outside he lingered for perhaps a half an hour.  He took possession, as it were, of Turner’s path to the front door standing legs apart as though over a dead lion fiddling with his clipboard which it seemed for reasons of its own wouldn’t slip into place.

     Then he decided to survey the neighborhood which while attractive wouldn’t have had the same charms for him under other circumstances.  He paraded up and down in front of Turner’s house so as to advertise his triumph over Turner to an imaginary assembled mankind.  The neighbors, who were the only spectators reacted accordingly although Trueman had no idea how he had antagonized them.

     Dewey was the product of weak Responses to overwhelming Challenges.  The Challenges had come as a child when there were as yet no support systems developed to allow him to deal successfully or strongly to the Challenges.  To say that we are responsible for our character is ridiculous.  If one survives destructive Challenges as a child then one is responsible for making right decisions subsequently.  Surviving one’s childhood is a matter of luck.  Be not too critical of one’s fellow man, unless you’re a novelist, then, as Old Harry said:  Give ’em hell.

     Before considering Trueman’s background let us consider the cases of two others- Jacques Casanova and William S. Burroughs.  Casanova devoted five thousand pages to a discussion of his problem without even attempting to understand its cause.  Casanova was an eldest child.  For some reason his mother chose to put him and only him of her children in a foster home.  As will be seen with Trueman this was an impossibly difficult Challenge for Casanova.  He was a good boy.  Put into an intolerable home he was able to implore his mother to find him a better place and she did.  Being a good boy Casanova did not respond to the Challenge by becoming a serial killer.  But the injury entered his subconscious.  Just as Casanova’s innocence had been violated and destroyed by a mother who should have been loving so Casanova turned to his efforts to destroying the happiness of young female virgins by betraying their love.

     Casanova’s memoirs are phenomenal.  All five thousand pages are dedicated solely to relating his adventures with women.  No other aspect of his life is related or examined.  Sometimes in a masochistic mood he allows women to take advantage of him in repetition of his mother’s act.  Significantly these women are the basest of prostitutes.

      Just as Casanova never discovered the cause of his actions which was in fact so subtle and well hidden that it would have been a miracle if he had  so, curiously, William S. Burroughs never found his cure.  Burroughs, the American Beat writer, was born in 1913 and as of 1996 was still alive.  He wrote ‘Naked Lunch’ and similar tripe.     

     Burroughs was aware at once of his Field, the Challenge and his Response but was unable to intellectualize it.  As a homosexual he was unusual in that he sought female sex from time to time.  His betrayal and violation was also unusual which explains his Response.  Burroughs grew up in St. Louis where he had a nanny.  As frequently happens with this type of employee she was an evil woman.  Burroughs loved and trusted her a great deal.  One day she took him to visit her boyfriend.  She asked Burroughs to do her boyfriend a favor.  Here Burroughs blacks out.  He thrusts the next few moments into his subconscious where he absolutely refuses to acknowledge it.  Release was so near and yet he could never grasp it even under extensive psychoanalysis.  As Burroughs cannot remember what happened next one can only conjecture.  It is, or should be, clear that Burroughs was sexually violated. His mouth was forced over the penis of the boy friend.  As in later life he chose to sodomize young boys but had an abhorrence of oral sex despising homosexuals who were ‘cocksuckers’ it is clear what he blocked out.

     The event turned Burroughs queer and eventually made him a junky but left him with ambivalent feelings toward women and strong desires for boys such as had been.  On the one hand he loved the nurse and found it impossible to let that love go, on the other hand she had basely betrayed his trust so that he transferred that hatred to all women.

     Burroughs says that he can’t understand the things he has done.  There is little reason to doubt him.  In the forties he took up with a woman who, signficantly was a floozie and hence not respectable.  She became his common law wife.  With her Burroughs led a life of total degradation.  Finally in the early fifties he blew her brains out.  He insists it was an accident.  It is certain that it was not his conscious intent to kill her.

     Burroughs loved guns.  He had a reputation for being an excellent marksman.  During a drinking bout with friends he suggested that she and he do a William Tell number.  At a distance of six feet he missed the whiskey glass she had placed on her head and drilled her between the eyes.  Given a conscious choice between hitting the glass or killing his wife he certainly would have hit the glass as he had done many times before but he subconscious paid back the nanny in the person of his wife.

     Burroughs had nothing to do with women after that although he thought he should.  In keeping with his emasculation by the boyfriend he remained homosexual.  Thus although Burroughs understood all the elements of his problem his pain and degradation were such that he couldn’t face or resolve them.  His response was homosexuality on the one hand and the subconscious murder of the nurse surrogate on the other.  Nor should he have been held responsible.  As a five year old child he had no means of intellectualizing his nanny’s deed thus the symbolism passed into his subconscious where its forms emerged years later much as Zeus swallowing the goddess Metis who he found indigestible had her emerge from his forehead in the altered form of Athene.

     The character of Dewey Trueman was the result of a combination of events combining elements of the situations of both Casanova and Burroughs.

     Elements of heterosexuality and homosexuality were warring in his mind.  His subconscious was the dominant element of his mind at this time although a very powerful remnant of a conscious mind kept him from insanity and on a productive course.

     Trueman had had a very difficult childhood.  the whole is described in Far Gresham:  Childhood and Youth. As a very young boy, less than three, he had been sodomized by a next door neighbor.  The man had taken him on the dirt under his porch.  Now, in the right circumstances, a boy can only take such attention as an act of love.  Having no experience or knowledge of such things, properly persuaded there is no reason to say no.  Unable to evaluate the act there is no reason for guilt.  The fixing of shame comes when the lover reacts.

      In Trueman’s case there was no shaming immediately after the deed.  But, evil is the heart of man, the neighbor had done it to depress Trueman’s chances in life and elevate those of his own son.  A short time later, these were primitive times in 1940 on the poor side of town, both he and his neighbor’s son were at the neighbor’s house.  The neighbor had a galvanized tub in the basement that he used for a toilet.  Both boys were urinating in it.  Now, among homosexuals the penis is the big thing.  Having been introduced to homosexual sex Dewey was remarking on the appearance of his friend’s penis.  At that point the neighbor, who had apparently been waiting for just such a moment, said:  ‘Son, I don’t want you to associate with that little queer again.’

     An apporpriate response was impossible for the undeveloped intellect of Trueman.  Dewey took the statement as an act of betrayal comparable to that of Burrough’s nanny.  He suppressed the memory of the seduction but never forgot the betrayal.  Thus two forces contended in his mind.  There were grounds for homosexuality on the one hand but such a strong hatred of men that Dewey swore they would never get him again.

      A little later his mother would treat him in much the same manner as Casanova’s mother had treated him.  Mrs. Trueman divorced her husband.  Unwilling to let her offspring interfere with her social life she put them in a foster home.  Dewey had a brother by then.  Dewey was able to handle the first abandonment and even a second in another foster home.  But then Mrs. Trueman placed he and his brother in the Municipal Orphanage.  This abandonment created so subtle a reaction in Dewey’s subconscious that no one knows what his response to women might have been.

     As it was Mrs. Trueman’s deed was unwittingly repeated by Dewey’s first girl friend.  Dewey was fifteen when his sweet Ange implored him for his love.  Ange was young, only thirteen, but she knew she wanted Dewey.  What she demanded of him was in essence marriage.  She demanded all his future from him.  He was a young boy and very reluctant but he agreed.

     Ange was a young girl, she was not in control of her destiny.  She lived with her grandmother, her family being in Waterloo, Iowa.  It was just after Thanksgiving she asked for his love.  Dewey thought this would mean no separation.  He looked forward to the Christmas holidays with Ange in anticipation.  But then, having given his heart, Ange informed him that she had forgotten to tell him that she had to go back to Waterloo for Christmas vacation.  Dewey’s heart turned cold.  this was the same thing his mother had done to him, although he did not realize it on a conscious level.  He concluded subconsciously that all women were alike.

     His response to the challenge caused both he and Ange untold anguish.  His subconscious retaliation against both his mother and Ange was to cut Ange cold.  He kissed her goodnight after a date and never spoke to her again.

     Ambivalent about men, Dewey now responded by becoming abivalent toward women.  Just as Casanova responded to his Challenge by taking the virginity of women, Dewey was to develop a manner of treating all women as totally desirable.  He wooed all women.  When, as it might chance, they responded to his overtures he coldly turned his back on them leaving them in the lurch.  Just as Casanova sought to deflower his victims Trueman denied them his favors.  Of course it was necessary for him to make exceptions as his self respect, bred in the fifites, required him to have his own woman at all times.  Dewey and Anges’s story is described in the Angeline Constellation.  

     As these events entered Dewey’s subconscious and never resurfaced he was aware of his attitude but able neither to control nor understand it.  His treatment of Ange was a complete mystery to him.  He was aware of the Field with his mother and Ange but unaware of the Challenge.  His Response was beyond his understanding and beyond good and evil.

     His sexual makeup was further complicated by certain events which controlled both his consciousness and subconsciousness.  These events completely terrorized him preventing any effective social intercourse, hence he was shy and awkward.

     As recounted in Far Gresham David Hirsh and his son Michael developed a hatred for him on specious grounds.  They harassed him trying to force submission to them.  Unable to do so Michael and some friends raped Dewey in the fourth grade.  The complex of acts by the Hirshes was completely suppressed, Filed, Challenge and Response.  But what is in the subconscious must be expressed in one’s actions much the same as Zeus and Metis.

     In Dewey’s case he acted with a dark foreboding that constrasted with a chipper optimistic nature.  This coupled with the fact that the torments which continued all his youth left him with a guilty, furtive manner and an overanxious desire to please presented a strange persona to the world.

     Dewey was aware of his mental problems as, even though he knew the right way to act and wanted to, his subconscious sabotaged all his efforts much as when the delivery of fuel cuts off in a car when you step on the pedal too sharply.

     Dewey  was seeking very had to understand himself.  The brutality of his youth had been such, he had been pushed down so far, that he had already gone far to master his subconscious with no apparent results.  The distance to go was still enormous and would eventuate in the complete disintegration of his existing persona.  He would, in effect, have to die and be reborn.  Fortunately he would be able to create and impose on himself an entirely new persona successfully.

      His encounter with Thom Nelson Turner was a small turning point in his effort to understand himself.  The understanding was not on the conscious level but subconsciously the overtaut pressure on the springs and cogs of his mind was released a little.  He had at least subjugated or gotten back his own from the ‘natural’ leader of his youth.  Such is life.  Pyschic debts are always being repaid by people who didn’t incur them.  Thom Turner’s loss was Dewey’s gain.  Of course Turner was himself only repaying an earlier offense.  A certain justice had been obtained.

     As Dewey got back in his car there was a complacent psychic satisfaction that he had got back some of his and Turner had paid the price.  The situation had fit perfectly into Dewey’s scheme of things.  He had done nothing to Turner, the consequences were all the result of Turner’s own actions.  Thom Nelson had punished himself.  Dewey Trueman remained an innocent man.

     As Dewey looked down the square he could sense the hostility of the neighbors.  His strutting about before Turner’s house had convinced the neighbors that he really enjoyed his job.  Even though they spent all their time devising ways to humiliate each other so that none might gain an ascendancy they resented and feared an outsider with power.

     Dewey eased the Chevy along the other side of the square studying the houses as was his wont.  As he rounded the corner to enter the egress street a tomato skidded across his hood.  At the same time an egg smashed against the window behind him sliding down the door.  There was no one visible, there never is, never will be; there was no reason to stop.

     As he approached the corner to turn left up Sunnyvale a school bus blocked his exit.  This was fortuitous for Dewey as he had the bad habit of running stop signs when the way was clear.  Now that he had been on the job so long people were devising ways to get back at him for what they considered intolerable humiliation.  Someone always knew someone on the police force.  They were learning Dewey’s driving habits.  When Dewey showed up at Thom’s a cop was called who had stationed himself where Dewey could be given a ticket.  They were moving violations and Dewey already had too many of them.

     As Dewey stopped he spotted the cop off to his left.  The bus pulled away.  Dewey pulled into the opposite lane watching the cop anxiously.  He knew that law and order meant nothing to the cops.  Just because he hadn’t run the stop sign didn’t mean that the cop wouldn’t give him a ticket anyway.  The cop’s word was taken at court every time.

     The cop stayed in place as Dewey drove by.  Dewey noted that the cloud cover, pardon me, high fog was retreating West.  Up ahead to the North patches of sunshine were dissipating the fog behind the lead line.  He drove toward Sunnyvale with a red streak on his hood, egg dripping down the side of his car and a warm spot in his heart.

                                          End.