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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

By

R.E. Prindle

Books V and VII have already been published on reprindle.wordpress.com

If fortune has removed you from the foremost position in the State, you should nevertheless stand your ground and help with your words, and if someone stops your mouth you should nevertheless stand your ground and help in silence.  The service of a good citizen is never useless; by being heard and seen, by his expression, by his gestures, by his stubbornness and by his very walk he helps.

–Seneca:  Tranquility Of Mind

Prologue

The Sins Of Satan

     A lonely young man sits on his seabag at the head of the pier.  He sits contemplating a ship.  The Ship was a Destroyer Escort.  The Ship was the USS Teufelsdreck, DE 666.  The young man had been assigned to serve aboard it.

The young man thus sat because an Old Salt had told him that as he was about to spend an undetermined time aboard it that he should take time to evaluate it so that he could confirm himself as to its character so as to make the best of the time he must serve aboard it.

The young man sought to follow this very good advice although he had none of the skills requisite to use as this was his first tour of duty.  Nevertheless he sat and stared.  As he did elements of his fate were coming together.  Other young men assigned to the Teufelsdreck were picking their way across the Naval Station toward it.

Two other men stood on the port wing of the boat deck idly observing the young man on his seabag.  The drama was about to begin.

The Navy

     The Navy may be the last surviving feudal organization in the world, along with the other branches of the military.  This is that society in equilibrium that certain social historians waxed eloquent as the perfect social structure in which the competitive anxiety of modern times was replaced by the bliss of everyone knowing a place and knowing where his was.  And, one might add, be quite content to stay there.

If those historians really believe that let them explain the hyper-violent reaction called The French Revolution  In the Navy most men just took their discharge papers as soon as they were able and walked away.  Only a certain type of person could endure it.

As a practical society based on voluntary, if temporary, association the Navy was a truly amazing organization.

It would be very easy in the author’s hatred of it to merely revile it.  But that would be to willfully fail to understand an essential and admirable unit of society.  As the Navy must exist it could exist on no other basis.

Unlike a business enterprise the Navy had unlimited access to money whether it succeeded or failed.  The chiefs of staff realized that they would never have access to the best and brightest.  They would have to recruit from the least successful ranks of society.  But, they had access to unlimited manpower.  One must also bear in mind that this was the military; in times of war any unit was subject to sudden depletions of manpower.  In manning ships this had to be taken into account.  Thus at some time in the past all tasks had been reduced to their minutest component elements.

Even though one man might be able to perform several elements by himself a man was assigned to perform each segment.  Thus, where a crew of three might suffice, ten were employed.

The tasks were devised in such a way that a man of minimal intelligence or experience could perform them without stretching his mind.  While this was brilliant organizational strategy it also reduced the quality of men who would tolerate such stultifying tasks.  Career men tended to be the dullest of men.  In fact men who couldn’t make it on the outside.

Bu, now, notice a curious effect.  The Navy was an alchemist which could turn men of lead into men of gold over a period of twenty years.  In the first place after twenty years at the young age of thirty-eight you were discharged and given a life time pension of half your wage.  And then, these men, mostly released as Chief Petty Officers, were eagerly sought after by employers as great catches.  Thus men who were unemployable twenty years before became especially desirable.  Amazing, huh?  Believe me they weren’t any smarter twenty years after than they were twenty years before.

The organization of the Navy was of the simplest.  At the top was the Captain of the ship.  He was a king, there was no disputing his word.  He was the law.  There was a code he had to follow but the rule was do as you were told first, complain later.  Later it was a moot point so the code was ineffectual; the captain was the law.  Theoretically if he told you to jump over the side you could be court-martialed for disobeying the order.

The ship belongs to the captain.  He spoke of the ship as ‘my ship.’  He spoke of the crew as ‘my men.’  He wasn’t wrong either.  His executives were his fellow officers aboard ship.  Each was assigned a single task that left them thirty-eight hours of leisure during a forty hour work week.

Below Captain and Officers were ‘the men.’  They are the backbone of the Navy.  All a ship needs to function is a Captain and men.  The officers were a superfluous caste whose only function was as a training ground to become captains.

The ship was run by the Chiefs.  They alone had the knowledge to make it function.  They alone had the time in rank to understand the tasks.  The officers in training who were ignorant of how things worked were forced to defer to the Chiefs almost as equals, although the Chiefs were still enlisted men.  If a division officer couldn’t get along with his Chief he was in deep trouble.  Thus once again the Navy turned inferiors into superiors.  The Chiefs knew everything but did nothing.  Except for certain formalities and emergencies their time was their own.

The First Class Petty Officers actively supervised the men with the assistance of the Second Class Petty Officers.  The title ‘Petty Officer’ means exactly what it says; they were minor officers but without executive status.  Being minor they had no real dignity.  Neither First nor Second Classes actually did any work but it was their duty to instruct.

Third Class Petty Officers and Seamen did the work.  One entered the Navy as a Seaman Recruit and issued forth from boot camp a Seaman Apprentice.  One took a test to become a Seaman but it was in reality a mere formality.  For payroll purposes these ratings were styled E (for Enlisted) 1-7.

By rotating Sailors every couple of year or whenever it suited the Navy the Regulars became familiar with many different ships, each other and most contingencies.  Although it was possible to spend one’s entire enlistment on Tin Cans, that is say Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts with breaks of Shore Duty, by the time you were on the way out you had been around the Navy.

At this time the difficulty of Navy life was compounded by the division of the fleet into Regular Navy and Reserve Navy.  In 1955 the Naval Reserve Act was amended.  Up to that point a Reserve signed on for eight years with no obligation to go active.  After August of 1955 the term was reduced to six years but you were obligated to spend two years on active duty.

Most men joined the reserves in high school.  It then made sense to take your two years of active duty directly after high school.  So beginning at about this time the Navy had a surfeit of eighteen year old recruits.  The fleet was very very young.

Also at this time the Old Guard which had served way back before the Gods were born during the Big One were leaving the service.  Their psychology, formed in the teens and twenties was quite different from the psychology of the Reserves, both officers and men, formed in the forties and fifties.  Thus not only did the old timers have expectations which the Reservists couldn’t understand but the Reservists were despised as not being Regular Navy thus creating a serious dichotomy in the souls of the boys in blue.

The frictions were intense.  What interest the Reservists might have had was destroyed by the attitude of the old timers and Regulars.  They said things were falling apart; the Reservists thought the Navy was stupid as it had nothing to do with them.  The result was disintegration.

It should also be borne in mind that the men came from the least successful segments of society.  They came pretty much from the lower half of their high school classes.  It might be an unpleasant fact but it is true, they no visible prospects outside.  There were many intelligent men amongst them but on the whole they were not the best and brightest.  Many were fleeing from unpleasantness at home.  Perhaps a pregnant girl friend they didn’t want to marry.

At the time it was the custom for first offenders to be offered the alternative of jail or the service so not a few of the men were criminals on the lam.

The differences between the expectations of the Officers and the Men were so pronounced that the officers, who were supervising only the dregs of society, where not unwarranted in mis-believing they were gods among mortals.  They acted like it, especially those who were Reservists, and they paid for it.  At least aboard the Teufelsdreck.

The Ship

     The Teufelsdreck was in 1957 fourteen years old.  Commissioned during the war it had survived a number of campaigns out among the islands.  It was no longer young but it was still a grand old specimen of the shipbuilders art.

It was not only no longer young but was now obsolete.  The march of progress and rendered it nearly useless.  This time was the cusp of the transition from the armaments of The War to modern rocketry and electronic warfare.  They would try to update the old ship but it was just too small for the upcoming modern Navy.

The Teufelsdreck was an example of the smallest warships afloat.  It was only three hundred six feet long, twenty-five at the beam.  It wasn’t even big enough to assume life, to develop sinews, or circulate the life blood of the small ship it was.  It had no majesty.

Its bigger companion, the Destroyer at four hundred twenty five feet, assumed the real majesty of a man of war.  The DE was just a toy ship.  Its whole purpose was to intercept torpedoes destined for the real ships.  When the flotilla was on the Main it rode the waves in three rings.  The carriers which needed all the protection they could get were in the middle.  The Destroyers flanked the carriers while out on the perimeter the DEs flanked the Destroyers.  Enemy subs flanked the DEs.

The main armament of the Teufelsdreck was it K-guns and Hedgehogs, both powerful anti-submarine weapons.  The K-guns lined both side of the fantail, while two long racks were positioned to drop depth charges off the end of the ship.

The K-guns were K shaped mortar-like devices designed to throw a depth charge a hundred or three hundred feet or so from the ship.  The depth charges could be set for depths up to several hundred feet before they detonated.  Whether they sank a sub or not they destroyed all marine life within a couple hundred yards.  It was really something to see big fish boil up from the depths exploding from the bubble into the air.

The Hedgehogs were on the forward boat deck.  They were so named because they were placed in a bank of three rows of five grenades each.  They were a contact explosive.  The grenades, much like the WWI German hand grenades in form, were like a gallon wine jug set on a stick.  Placed on electric prods they blew out in a pattern a hundred feet across.  If they hit anything on the way down they exploded.  Woe to any passing whales.

Legend had it that a DE fired off its Port bank, then, turning under the barrage nearly had its bow blown off.  But, then, that may have been only apocryphal .  It hardly seems possible; but, then, the Navy had an amazing ability to foul up.

If you’ve seen old WWII movies, and who hasn’t, you’ve seen twenty millimeter guns in action.  As part of modernization the twenty millimeter guns had already been removed from the Teufelsdreck.  The twenties were those big shoulder harness machine guns you see in the movies where the valiant sailor appears to have two barrels poking out of his chest as he tries to bring the Jap planes down.

Thus, as you looked at the beautiful contours of this man made wonder the first gun tube was empty.  Behind it was the gun tub of one of the two three inch guns.  The other was on the fantail.  The three inch was the last caliber fired in the open air.  The next size up, the five inch, required a protective turret.  The five inch also had a separate bullet and propellant.  The  three inch was a single shell over two feet long.

The forward mount was considered the prestige battle station.  Both the Bos’n Mate Chief and the Gunner’s Mate Chief supervised its action.  The First Lieutenant supervised the Chiefs.  There was quite a crowd up there.

All the guns were great fun but the three inch was a sight to see.  It required a rammer and four loaders in addition to the complement of overseers.  The loaders took a shell out of the storage bin, cradled it in the right arm holding the base in the left hand.  They ran around the tub under the barrel to hand the shell to the rammer.  This prestige job was the prerogative of the leading seaman.  As the gun fired, the recoil brought the breech down exposing the barrel tube.  The shell was then rammed into the tube with the heel of the hand to release the breech which snapped into place with incredible force ready to fire.  You had to watch your fingers.

The report of the three inch was incredibly loud and sharp.  Even with ear plugs if you were passing under the barrel when it went off you were jerked off your feet flying a foot into the air, feet splayed.

In the last few months of its existence the Teufelsdreck was outfitted with automatic threes.  The sound was so intolerable they couldn’t be worked.  Plus they tore up the decking with their rapid recoil.

The final little bit of armament, the jewel in the lotus, was the quad forty millimeter gun mount.  Ah, now there was a toy.  In the movies they are the four barrels recoiling at different times in a remarkable rhythm.  God loved the forties.

The sailors, those who had the capacity, always wondered why the structure above decks was called a superstructure.  Super is merely the Latin, meaning above, that structure above the structure.  This was the boat deck and the bridge.  Altogether a very stylish ship.

Book 1, Clip 1b. Posted 6/04/12

The Locale

     There are three magnificent land locked seas on the West Coast; Puget Sound on the Canadian border, San Francisco Bay midway between Puget Sound and the southern terminus on the Mexican border, San Diego.

Puget Sound is home to the naval base at Bremerton.  San Francisco has Mare Island near Vallejo, Hunters Point dry docks in South San Francisco, Treasure Island , an artificial fill adjacent to Yerba Buena Island and the Alameda Naval Air Base and docks next to Oakland.  There is, or was, some trifling Navy at Long Beach and then you have the true home of the Pacific fleet in all the complexes of San Diego.

The Pendleton Marine Base was just north of San Diego.  The West Coast boot camp was in San Diego.  San Diego Bay debouches to the North between a narrow peninsula and the main land.  Entering the bay North Island Naval Air is on the west side while the San Diego airport was on  the east.  Jets took off and landed constantly on both sides all day long.

Further up the bay on the main land were the Broadway Piers, a long row of moorings, since gone I’m sad to say.     At those you would step off the ship and be in downtown San Diego at the terminus of Highway 101.  These berths were given for good behavior and ostentatious purposes.  Much more visually impressive was the long string of buoys in the middle of the bay.

At some were the massive Destroyer and Submarine tenders.  Huge floating machine shops with dozens of lathes and other tooling equipment.  They were six hundred feet long with a fifty or sixty foot beam.  They sat high out of the water with many decks.

Nested next to those were four or five Destroyers or Escorts.  Half a dozen submarines were along side the Sub Tenders.  Strung out along the other buoys were dozens of Destroyers, Escorts and other ships of the line.  Ships were coming and going at all times.  The sense of power and majesty was overwhelming.

Turning East up the bay the north side was lined with Naval establishments for miles.  Row after row of berths.  Huge traveling cranes, gigantic buildings.  The transition from 1900 when the area was virtually undefended to the present huge Navy was a remarkable transformation.

The Navy was everywhere.  It is not unfair to say that at the time if there had been no Navy there would been no San Diego.  San Diego belonged to the Navy.

Paradise was an armed camp.

From the Grapevine to the Border is what is known in California as the Southland.  The land of Disney Girls and Playboy Bunnies; golden haired surfer boys with shaggy, shaggy hair and fantasy land movie hopefuls.

The sun never stops shining.  It never gets so cold you need more than a T-shirt.  So long as you’re near the water the temperature is always between seventy and eighty with a pleasant inspiring breeze that is better than any artificial stimulant.  As soon as you’re away from the water you’re in an unbearably hot desert.  If you’re not sensitive to heat it still isn’t bad.

The coastal areas from San Diego to LA provide the finest climate in the world.  The only tragedy is that so many people realize this truth.  In 1958 the population density was tolerable.  There were enough people so that you were rarely alone but not so many that you felt oppressed.

This area from San Diego to Los Angeles was all Navy ground.

The Times

     There has never been a time when America stood still.  Change has always swept through the country like a tornado through Kansas.  There has never been a time to stop, look and evaluate what was happening.

In order to deal with the cascading torrent of events America has always resorted to convenient lies.  Americans became pious liars.  Unpleasantness was glossed over or denied.  Facts were rearranged to suit desires.  An official version was given that was perilous to deviate from.  But any structure based on false premises will sooner or later become top heavy and come crashing to the ground.  There is no use to lie and so I won’t.

The generation coming of age had been brought up on a fabric of lies since they were born.  Deceit and hypocrisy had been all they had known.  They would begin a generation long revolt against hypocrisy that would be severely suppressed and punished by their elders.

The problem lay between the contrasts of the ideal and reality.  We were all made to believe that our elders were inherently good and decent people.  The rest of the world was corrupt but our clean, decent and honest parents were above all that.

Contrasted to that was the situation in Havana.  There in Cuba a Communist named Fidel Castro was attempting to overthrow the government and expel the American influence.  They wanted to oust the American criminal cartels that had taken over Havana establishing a regime of degeneracy, gambling and prostitution.

It is nearly impossible to describe the vile entertainments devised to amuse the American tourists.  Dirty, foul sex acts, real degeneracy that befouled the imagination.  True, we were encouraged to look down on the Cubans who provided this perverted entertainment but who were the people paying for and enjoying this filth.  Our parents.  Those same people who had created the purest Republic in the world.

And who were these American gangsters.  Shhh.  This is part of the big lie that no one of us is supposed to acknowledge.  They were part of the ‘wretched refuse of Europe’s teeming shore.’  The quote comes from the plaque placed on the base of the Statue of Liberty written by the Jewish poetess, Emma Lazarus.  The quote referred to the Jews arriving from Eastern Europe.

Nothing is more distorted by historians than the history of immigration.  It may be appropriate to point out that this gift of the French people, the Statue of Liberty, was originally built to place at the Caribbean side of the projected French enterprise of the Panama Canal.  It was to have been entitled ‘The Statue of Commerce’ in that capacity.  When the Panama Canal company went bust the statue was redundant.  The French, with no hint of a smirk sent it to America as the ‘Statue of Liberty’.  The Jews affixed the plaque welcoming their nationals and the statue, plaque and all, became an expression of the ego of America.

When these immigrants reached American shores they blamed their defects on the United States and arrogated their virtues to themselves.  The criminals operating in Havana were all Jewish and Italian.  Their claim was that conditions in America made them criminals.  They said there was something in the American air that bred criminality.  If so this air had not influenced the English, Poles, Germans and what have you to the excesses displayed by the Jews and Italians.  Not that every people doesn’t have its share of crooks but we’re talking about systematic, organized criminality in which murder forms an essential element.  A concept of crime that sought legitimation for criminal behavior as just another business activity.  They sought to make it just another economic activity.  Thus, not only was Havana developed as a criminal and degradation center by these two nationalities but they conspired to undermine morality on American soil by spreading the blight of gambling, prostitution and degradation to Las Vegas and from thence back to New York City and its environs.

Thus, as Castro closed down Havana, Sin City in Nevada a couple hundred miles from San Diego was beginning its tremendous corrupting influence.  The degradation of Havana moved north to the Big Apple.

Organized crime, the direct product of immigration, cast a pall over the world view of the generation.  We were all expected to accept responsibility, guilt, for American criminality which was in reality the activity of two immigrant nationalities.  At the same time we were forbidden to declare our innocence because to do so was to cast obloquy on Jews and Italians which was taboo.  One’s mind churned, madness bubbled up.  Do you wonder why crime has spread to be such a problem in America?

This problem was added to the race issue.  No generation can be responsible for the actions of those who came before.  The sins of the fathers do not belong to the children.  But because previous generations had enslaved Negroes and then forced them into a Jim Crow existence, the Negroes, finally emerging from their subordination expected our generation to recompense them for what had happened to earlier generations of Negroes.  It was not enough for them to be equal, they in their turn wanted to subordinate Whites.

This is not an unexpected psychological reaction.  Nothing could be more normal.  But because they desired it is no reason it should be done.  True, it was a difficult psychological problem that they would have to be helped to get over but that was no reason to punish an innocent generation for the actions of their forefathers.  Nevertheless the entire generation was brutalized for the acts of their fathers.

The brutalization was done in some interesting ways.  One was the reverence for the Negro culture.  America has no sense of culture so this reverence was introduced from England that does.  Rock and Roll traveled from America to England where it was combined with Negro Blues music to form British Blues.  This music was adopted by America and expanded into White Blues.  Thus a people raised on freedom adopted the mentality of slaves through the medium of song.  Real conditioning.  It was a remarkable transition to watch.

The race problem was compounded by the Atom Bomb.  As we all know the Atom Bomb was dropped on Japan.  This fact was portrayed, never mind the Japanese attacked us first, as an act of blatant racism.  Somehow the act of using the A-bomb transformed Americans into vicious aggressors.  All the lost American lives were forgotten when we dropped the Big One.  Some of the Japanese survivors were brought to the US for medical treatment as though they had been innocent victims.  It was forbidden to celebrate our victory over Japan.  Our victory was portrayed as a regrettable act of racism.

Combined with the A-bomb had been the removal of the Japanese in the Western Defense Command of the US to detention camps.  Anyone who has studied the issue knows that this was warranted.  But it was portrayed as another example of White bigotry.  Another load of guilt for White boys.

At one and same time we were expected to be perfect Americans who had brought to the world the only light it has ever seen while having perpetrated the only crimes the world has ever known.  The attitude would be epitomized a few years later by the Jewish writer Eugene Burdick in his novel ‘The Ugly American.’  Mr. Burdick assured us that although we were giving away millions of tons of food the natives despised us because we misunderstood the spirit of giving.  Having been softened up for years Americans went for the image hook, line and sinker.

Also savaging our minds was the great social revolution being led by the Communists.  Publishing is controlled by the Reds then as now so criticism of the Revolution has always been discountenanced.  Never mind the savage repression of liberty in Russia, we were told it couldn’t happen here.

Well, there were many of us who did think it could happen here so we fought valiantly to make sure it wouldn’t.  From 1917 to 1954 the war was waged in open terms.  The last wave of resistance went down to defeat in 1954 when Joe McCarthy failed us all.  He did manage to take the old Red apparatus down with him.  So in the period of 1957-59 the New Left was regrouping, forming a coalition that would be known as Political Correctness but it was only the Revolution having adapted to American ways.  They just changed the name from Communism to Political Correctness.

There was the amazing hedonism of Hugh Heffner and Playboy to be dealt with; the silliness but social destructiveness of Walt Disney who was now to so profoundly alter American consciousness.  Everyone was about to become a Disney boy or girl,

All these psychological challenges ripped the minds of the young.  All required decisions to be made.  Is it any wonder that America turned to drugs.  Unsure of who they were or what was right or wrong or what was expected of them the young of America turned to popping pills for relief.

Drugs were not a problem that developed in the late sixties  Drugs were a problem that became obvious in the late sixties; that is to say the problem couldn’t be denied any longer.  The problem developed in the late forties and through the fifties.  The chief problem was not marijuana, cocaine or Heroin.  The chief problem was the endless supply of pills turned out by the American pharmaceutical industry.  Uppers and downers were and always had been America’s drug problem.

By 1957-59 drugs were endemic in the Navy.

These were the major problems we all wrestled with at the time.  Some didn’t wrestle, some gave in and ‘went with the flow.’  But some of us wrestled.  We were called social misfits.

The Man- Dewey Trueman

     A man expresses the truths and myths that he holds of himself in the ephemera of his life.  It is by way of songs, the snatches of poetry, street doggerel, sayings, movies, TV shows, novels and stories, slogans and folk images that a man characterizes himself to himself.  It is through the archetypes of song and legend that he fits himself into the scheme of things.  Having adopted a persona a man usually lives up to it.  America has always been the home of the ‘Ramblin’  gambling’ , man.’

For many men that is the only self-respecting role they can find for themselves.  ‘The Roving Gambler.’

I am a Roving Gambler,

I’ve gambled all around,

I’ve gambled out in Washington,

I’ve gambled over in Spain,

Now I’m on my way to Georgia

To knock down my last game.

     The Roving Gambler archetype formed a substratum in Dewey’s psyche.  The self-destructiveness of the role was such that Dewey had to fight to suppress it or transform the image into something manageable.

The main image by which he perceived himself was found in another old American folk song titled ‘Nobody’s Child.’  The song quite literally encapsulated a phase of his life, a phase that formed his identity.  The child of the song is an orphan.  One verse was identical to a situation of Dewey’s:

Oh yeah, they say they like my

Curls of gold.

Oh yeah, and they like my

Eyes of blue.

But they always take

Some other child,

And I’m left here

With you.

Book I, Clip 1c, posted 6/05/12

Dewey, too, had been in the orphanage.  He had had hair of gold and eyes of blue but those qualities which society says it admires so much were a curse rather than a blessing.  Rather than joy they brought him pain and sorrow.  He was, also ‘A Man Of Constant Sorrow’.  Rather than a reason for acceptance they became a cause of rejection.

This image which was to stay with him for decades was also as negative and self-defeating as that of the Roving Gambler.  Dewey had a lot of psychological detritus to remove.

When he left the orphanage it was to spend eight years in an insane home environment.  Dewey had been what is known as a good boy.  He had always been honest and obedient.  These qualities known by society as virtues brought him only scorn and revilement.

Unappreciated at home and relentlessly persecuted at school because of self-assertion against the ruling clique in kindergarten, Dewey had had his self-confidence slowly crushed out of him.

But as the husk is intact the man lives on; he cannot die or levitate himself to a better existence.  By the time Dewey had been driven from his home town he had nothing to keep himself on his feet but inertia.  Except for the fact that life says:  ‘Keep on, keep on, keep on moving.’  Dewey would have been a shapeless heap of rubble by the roadside.  His identity had been compressed into a dot no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.

What we see sitting on his seabag at the head of the pier then is a man faced with the daunting task of remaking himself from less than nothing into something which he can admire and respect.  The dot will have to decompress itself in such a subtle way that like one of those tiny sponges contained in a capsule it will expand into a complete entity.

Dewey will not complete the transformation in this volume.  This volume is only the beginning of the rebirth of Dewey Trueman.

Part One

Permission To Come On Board

     Dewey Trueman sat on his seabag eyeing the Teufelsdreck.  His advice had been good.  It was a wise thing to take the measure of your new assignment.  Dewey was inexperienced.  He had no way to evaluate the ship.  This was the first one he had ever seen.

What he did see was not very promising.  The Teufelsdreck had just returned from an Asian tour of duty.  The ship, even to an inexperienced eye, looked like a wreck.  The ship was dirty, paint was peeling, even the numbers were disfigured, the men were loose and unkempt.  The ship appeared to be devoid of discipline.

“How am I supposed to fit into that?’  Dewey thought with a sinking feeling.

As he sat watching he too was being observed.  Lt. Bifrons Morford stood leaning on the railing of the boat deck talking to his Yeoman, Teal Kanary.  Both were new to the 666.  Indeed half the old crew was being transferred.  Dewey was one of seventy new faces coming aboard.

‘What’s wrong with him?’  Morford asked idly, unaware of Dewey’s good advice.  Good advice often seems ignorant to uninformed minds.

‘Must be afraid to come on board.’  Kanary joked.

‘Well, then he’s not totally lacking in good sense.’  Morford jibed back.

As Dewey sat and Morford and Kanary joked a number of seamen were wending their way across the Naval Station in search of the Teufelsdreck.  Just then a bright eager face hove into Dewey’s view.

‘Hi!  Are you going aboard the Teufelsdreck?’  He cheerfully asked Dewey.

‘Uh, yeah, I am.  You?’  Oh yeah?  My name’s Dewey Trueman.’

‘Hi, Dewey.  I’m Dennis La Frenniere.  I’m going to be on the Deck Force.’  He said with evident pride that betrayed his ignorance of what that meant.

‘Yeah, me too.’  Dewey replied as another sailor named Don Tidwell showed up to join the party.  They were joined by others swelling the party to seven.

Soon they were all joking and laughing.  You couldn’t find seven merrier guys.  They were such a jolly group and so pleased with each other that each figured fate had done them a neat turn.  Laughing and shouting they moved down the pier past the peeling numbers of the 666 by Bifrons Morford  and Teal Kanary to the gangway across which was the quarterdeck of the USS Teufelsdreck, DE 666.

It would have been better had Dewey ignored his good advice and gone on board alone.  He would have slipped aboard more inconspicuously.  But now this shouting laughing mass of recruits only aroused the antipathy of the ‘old hands.’   Many of them were only awaiting replacements so they vented the frustrations of their long Asian tour on the new men.  There was nothing serious but it set a tone among the new men that was to last.

Morford, who was Officer Of The Day, came down from the boat deck to examine them more closely.  Jack Cornford who was the Petty Officer Of The Watch collected the papers and directed the recruits, who were all deck hands, to First Division quarters.

‘Welcome aboard.  Capt. Descartes is only to happy to have you.  I’m sure we’ll all get used to you too.’

Cornford pronounced the name Dess Cartes.  Blaise Descartes had been captain for fourteen months but the crew still didn’t know how to pronounce his name.  Unfortunately for Dewey he did.

There was a little sign hanging on the bulkhead that announced that the Teufelsdreck was under the command of Blaise Descartes.

‘Does he pronounce the name Dess Cartes or Day Cartes?’  Dewey asked giving the name the French pronunciation and the same that Descartes himself used.

Cornford tapped the sign.  ‘Read it, Sailor, if you can, that is.  DESCARTES, Dess Cartes.’  Cornford looked at Trueman sharply thinking him completely stupid.

‘Yeah, but in French that’s pronounced Day Cartes.  Like the philosopher Rene Des Cartes.’  Dewey said apologetically.

‘Uh huh.  Well, in case you ain’t noticed this ain’t France.  These here are the United States Of America.  You are aboard the USS Teufelsdreck, DE 666.  It’s pronounced Dess Cartes.’

‘Oh yeah?  What did they do, suspend the law of gravity on the Teufelsdreck as well as the rules of pronunciation?’  Dewey tried to joke while maintaining his position.

Cornford wasn’t having any of it.  ‘You got a…what’s your name?  Trueman, uh huh…you got a college education there Mr. Trueman?  No?  Well then you’re just like us so don’t get smart with me.  Alright now, Sailors, go back to the fantail,  Back there in that direction there’s an open hatch, go down the ladder there and you’re in the First Division.  Take this wiseguy Trueman with you too.  Savvy him up a little.’

The incident was trivial enough.  It could have been righted quite easily by someone with a little social sense.  Dewey didn’t have social sense so he inflated it to mega proportions.  He thought he was ruined.  All his fears and anxieties coalesced around this incident to form a giant core of resentment in his mind.  He developed a bad attitude that he was never to lose.

The next few days of transition into the society of the ship was extremely difficult both for Trueman and the rest of the new men.  The cheerful laughing group of men who had requested permission to board the Teufelsdreck in a spirit of high adventure would all sour in one form or another.  The spirit of the new men was converted to a seething, sullen mood of rebellion.

Once below deck the new men were subjected to the hazing of the old crew.  Simple requestd for information were treated as occasions for abuse.  The simple act of locating a vacant bunk was turned into excruciating torture that lasted for over an hour.

Dewey finally obtained an upper bunk on the inboard side of the starboard hatch.  Even that cost him a certain diminution of respect.  The bottom bunk in the row had been available.  Most sailors prefer the bottom bunk but  Dewey wanted the top bunk.

‘That bottom bunk’s taken, sailor.’  Some voice commanded even though the bunk was made up as empty.

‘I don’t want it anyway, I want the top bunk.’  Dewey replied as civilly as he could to the bestial snarlings.

‘I said you can’t have the bottom bunk.’  Was offered  as a non-sequitur.

‘You’ve got it big fella.  I don’t want it.  Keep it.’  Dewey replied firmly.

Probably Dewey should have replied with a blunt:  Because this is what I want.  Socially the Navy is only a step up from prison.  If this had been prison the sailors would probably have resolved the situation by making him fight or go under but prison rules were modified to a more orderly method in the Navy; fighting was not allowed.  As usual nonetheless Dewey made the mistake of being civil.  Civility in American society, as has been often remarked is interpreted as weakness.  Real men eat raw meat and spit it in your face.

‘If you’re on the bottom you always have to get up to let people use their lockers; if you’re in the middle you’ve got someone above and below, if you’re on top you’re above everyone.’  Then Dewey threw in:  ‘Is that simple enough for you?’  just to show he was tough.

The old hands interpreted the remark as disdain which they resented rather than toughness.  Dewey’s English was also too good for them.  They didn’t want anyone putting on airs making them think they were inferior.  They wanted you down in the hole where they were.

‘Above it all, huh?  Up there is where the fart smells go.  Haw, haw, haw.’

‘Aw, Christ this going to be fun.’  All seven new men thought as they lifted the lids to the lockers to stow their gear.

Dewey stood up from time to time in disgust.  A sailor’s personal space aboard ship was a three by three square two feet deep.  Everything you owned had to be stashed in there.  Of course every time you moved all your possessions had to fit into your seabag.  A seabag over fifty pounds was a real burden so it behooved you to stay light.  As Dewey would find there was more than room enough.

As he stood contemplating his gear he looked around to orient himself.  There were six tiers of bunks stretched across the compartment.  Each tier was three bunks doubled end to end.  All told there were about sixty bunks in First Division with those located in nooks and crannies included.  The lockers were beneath each tier.  There was a hatch on each side leading forward through the Engineering compartment and another aft leading to after steering and the barber shop.

First Division was composed of the Deck Force, Gunner’s Mates and Sonarmen.  In the hierarchy of intelligence Deck was at the bottom.  The Gunner’s Mates next to the bottom preferred to look down on the Deck Apes.

In the old Navy this might have been true but every man coming aboard was a Reservist.  They raised the tone of the whole Navy let alone the Deck Force.  In the rapid fire banter going around Dewey quickly picked up the drift of things.  Not only was his English better but he had a sharp mind with a well honed edge.

After settling in and having a dinner of rudely cooked and evil tasting food Dewey climbed into his bunk.  If he couldn’t organize his new reality in a day perhaps he could shut it out by a trip to dreamland.

Six o’ clock reveille and the routine began.  Dewey once again was revolted.  He grabbed his douche bag to go up and wash.  What a sight.  There were nine wash basins for over a hundred men.  Since about ten men never washed the ration was actually a little better.

The place was jammed with men fighting for basins so Dewey decided to eat first.

The mess hall was forward underneath the bridge superstructure.  Dewey got in the line which extended up the ladder and out on the deck.

‘Better get used to it buddy, this is the way it is.’  A resigned friendly voice said noticing Dewey’s impatience and irritation.

Dewey turned to look at the voice.

‘Hi.  I’m Kerry Maclen, Sonarman.  I just came aboard eight days ago when this bucket got back from Wespac.  I haven’t been here much longer than you but I’ve got some things figured out.  One of ‘ems it doesn’t get any better than this.’

Dewey calmed down and began chatting with Maclen as the line moved slowly forward  through the hatch, then standing on the steps of the ladder.  Finally grabbing a tray, mug and silverware he started moving down the line accumulating a tray full of what passed for food.

The stuff looked bad and tasted worse.  Prison fare was probably better.  Dewey looked at the tray as he realized that he wouldn’t be gaining any weight aboard the Teufelsdreck.  He couldn’t eat that ‘chow.’  At least the Teufelsdreck had the sense not to refer to the crap as food.  He couldn’t even stand to look at the ‘chow.’

In desperation he grabbed four slices of bread, looked for mold and checked to see whether the spread was butter or oleo.  Thankfully the Navy thought enough of the men to provide real butter.  As they were not so thoughtful as to provide jam Dewey carefully spread a thin layer of mustard over the butter.  This was to be his breakfast for the next three months until he had a reaction to the mustard.

Our Lady Of The Blues Book I, clip 1d, posted 6/06/12

‘Quite a breakfast.’  A voice seated next to him commented.

‘You don’t expect me to eat that garbage, do you?’  Dewey replied contemptuously.

‘Plenty good enough for me.’  The other gruffed stuffing his face.

‘I guess I haven’t been deprived of food long enough like you.’  Dewey said popping the last piece of bread, butter and mustard into his mouth as he got up to go wash up.

As he threw his douche bag on the ledge above one of the sinks and thrust his face into the mirror the half-crazed demon possessed reflection that stared back at him made him realize that he had made the mistake of his life.  Not that he hadn’t realized it much earlier.  Not that he hadn’t had misgivings when he stood in line with fifty other suckers to be sworn in.  Also it wasn’t that the Navy didn’t realize that every sucker in line would repent of his oath.

The Navy had experience, and how.  They knew all the objections; they countered all the arguments.  The Navy knew who they were dealing with too; they weren’t delicate.

‘If you show up later and say you didn’t move your lips, forget it.  There is no mental evasion or reservations that will do you any good,  It’s all been tried before.  It won’t work, you’re all sworn in.’

How Dewey resented the fact that he hadn’t stepped out of line and left before the oath was administered.  As he thought back he was sure that he hadn’t raised his right hand but there was no way to prove that now nor would it matter if he could.  He was in.

He knew he had made a mistake when he had obediently bent over and spread his cheeks so the Navy MD could study the fine sight of his asshole.

God, what a spiffy job; spend your whole life walking down lines of buttocks deciding on that basis whether a man could be a sailor or not.  There were a couple of men excused from service on the basis of failing the asshole test.  Even then the Navy doctor was so stupid he passed three out of ten he shouldn’t have.  Thirty per cent of the guys aboard were queers.

Dewey heaved a sigh, oh, lord,  he didn’t heave a sigh, the life’s breath fled out of him but he couldn’t die; he was in the Navy.  In?  In big.  His wild staring eyes studied the reflection that he would see for the duration.  His sink was the middle one on the left bulkhead.  Three sinks aft, five sinks port bulkhead, three sinks forward bulkhead.  The smell of over a hundred men assailed his nostrils.  Over a hundred had been there before him this morning as they would every morning for the duration.  The stench of a hundred urinating, shitting, stinking men.  Four pissoirs, four stools, four showers, eleven sinks.  Dewey dry retched into the sink.  Jesus Christ! What had he done?  The only thing worse could be prison.

Having sworn in had been bad enough but then being a Reserve and having already completed boot camp between eleventh and twelfth grades, the Navy had sent him to the Receiving Station at Philadelphia.  Lor’ what an education that had been.  Already better than half crazed by his home environment he had blown through the bottom; under every seeming basement there is yet another depth.  He had blown through the bottom of the bottom; hell, he had found new depths that had never been explored.

Every new man at the Receiving Station had responded to that new and hostile environment better than he had.  Dewey had entered a limbo that it is surprising that he survived.  A reality he had never suspected became an unavoidable apparition of disgust.

Caught somewhere between a free life and a prison environment Dewey had not known how to respond.  The homosexual threat was rampant.  Unprepared to respond to such open aggression on the part of homosexuals Dewey had responded by only showering rarely and then only at times when the showers were unused.  Even then gayboys showed up to check the action, stand and inspect his dick.  His timidity hadn’t gone unnoticed.  Always preying on the ignorant and timid he had been assailed in the showers and had had to fight his way out rather than submit.

As he looked over at the shower stalls on the starboard side an involuntary shudder went down his spine.  Three more fucking years of this shit!  He thought.

The criminal degradation of the Receiving Station had truly blown his mind.  The thievery was incessant.  The cons and cheating were all the time.  Drug addiction!  Dewey had never seen it before.  Then, at muster they lugged a First Class out on a stretcher.  He was ‘sick.’  He was suffering from a heroin overdose.  As they carried this son-of-a-bitch past Dewey the bastard shot out a projectile of vomit all over him.  The horror  of it was more than Dewey could stand.  He brought both fists down on that sick degenerate bastard’s stomach, knocking one of the bearers aside and spilling that idiot First Class out on the pavement.  Dewey moved in to stomp that ignorant bastard to death but was quickly restrained by a couple sailors who got some of that diseased puke all over themselves.  Several hours passed before Dewey regained a semblance of composure.

‘Jesus,’ he thought, ‘What is this?  What is this?  Is there no refuge?’

In truth there wasn’t, neither on the base or ashore.  Who knows who they were but everywhere he went it seemed he was being followed.  The Navy was on tight security because of the Cold War, but was it necessary to follow a sailor when he wandered down to look at the mothballed Cruisers or was it just some queers on the make.

It seemed like everybody was out to tear every other body apart in one way or another.  Every way he turned faggots were waiting to batten on him.

Standing in the subway one night at one in the morning he looked across the tracks to the top tier of that multi-tiered structure to see some faggot staring at him as the queer masturbated at his sight.  ‘My god,’  he thought, ‘Don’t these guys have any self-respect.’  If the truth were told, no they don’t.

Another night he was walking down Broad to the base, avoiding the subway, when a worker type pulled up offered him a ride back to the base as he was going that way himself.  Naively Dewey believed him.  Seething with anger Dewey had finished his walk back to the base after having repulsed the queer’s advances.  Back at the base the Marine sentry was giving him a bad time mistaking what Dewey thought was politeness for timidity.

The face looking back at Dewey reflected the horror of all these incomprehensibilities.  He had been assigned  West.  Somewhere between Philly and San Francisco or, perhaps, after his visit to the Navy dentist, he had toughened up, put on a hard face, a mean face, a face that said:  ‘Up yours.’

The dentist had been a lunatic, a madman.  He did more damage to Dewey’s mouth in an hour than the A-bomb had done to Hiroshima.  Dewey learned his lesson; he never visited another Navy dentist or doctor during his enlistment.  He’d rather pay for good attention than be mutilated for free.

Dewey looked in the mirror again and found that he was panting.

“Yeah, I don’t like it either.’  Came from a voice from across the area.  ‘Nobody does.  But there’s nothing we can do about it now.’

Dewey focused on the present to see a sailor fourth sink, port bulkhead shaving and watching him mirror to mirror.  Shaving!  Aaaargh.  Dewey let out a long anguished mental scream that still seemed to emit from the face in the mirror.  Shaving!   Shaving was a private act.  It was between you and the mirror.  Only faggots watched other men shave.  Guys invited hopeful conquests  into the head to watch them shave.  Bulls showed off for catamites in that way.  Now, here was some guy speaking to him while he shaved.

‘Yeah, this is pretty hard to get used to.’  Dewey replied rather than get a reputation for being difficult but still hoping not to encourage further conversation.  Fortunately the other guy was finishing up, it was getting close to muster and he left with a hurried:  ‘Keep it together.’

‘Keep it together?’  Dewey was already blown apart.  He would have to bring it together.  He not only had to organize and overcome his childhood traumas he would have to survive this new madness.

Still, there was no way out but deeper in.  He would have to go out the other side.  He threw his douche bag- douche bag- Jesus Christ- into his locker, squared his hat, passed through the Engineering compartment to climb the ladder to the main deck, stepped through the starboard hatch into the light to see the men of First Division lining up for muster.

The line that separated Dewey from insanity was the physical world.  Having stepped from the encasing steel of the ship, the delightful climate of waterfront San Diego embraced him.  The strong sun enveloped him.  The fresh invigorating sea breeze wafted around him wrapping him in sensual delight.

Then his eyes fell on Chief Dieter, First Class Gunner’s Mate Emmanuel Ratman, and First Class Bos’n’s Mate Blaise Pardon.  They were eyeing him with idle curiosity as the last arrival.  In his state of mind he took it as hostility and snarled back.

Muster!  He saw two lines of sailors standing at parade rest.  He walked down to the end of the line and took a place.

‘You there.’

‘Yeah?’

‘You’re Deck, right?  Back down in this group.’

Dewey noticed there had been a break in the line.  He had apparently lined up with the second group- the Gunner’s Mates.  He moved back down the line to the other end to take a position in the back rank.  He extended the line by one person.

‘Step forward to the front rank.  Looks better.’

Dewey stepped forward, but his teeth ground.  He knew he had to obey the order but as he looked at the three Petty Officers he felt innately superior to them.  He was.  Ratman, the Gunner’s Mate, was an illiterate stupido.  He was even incapable of reading the muster.  How he had ever been able to pass the written tests to become a First Class was open to conjecture.  The Navy takes care of its own.  They probably read the questions to him pointing to which box to mark after he gave the his answer.  That he had been in eighteen years and hadn’t made chief told against him.

Ratman had a brownish open pored complexion and eyes that betrayed neither intelligence nor stupidity.  They were just kind of blank and unseeing.  Nothing seemed to register.  He had the habit of holding his mouth open and flicking his tongue up and down, projecting it in and out.  Rats might not have the same characteristics but the habit seemed to fit his name.

Blaise Pardon, the First Class Bos’n’s Mate, was a decent sort.  He was only interested in getting through the day with the least conflict possible.  That was a positive virtue.  He was another eighteen year man but Deck was a closed rating, the fact did not count against him.  It was nearly impossible to advance your rating in Deck.

As the rating was the least demanding in the Navy and as it was much more secure than trying to earn a living on the outside more career men were in Deck than anywhere else.  Even the Gunner’s Mates was relatively open compared to Deck.  You were guaranteed to make Chief in twenty.  Even a mutant like Ratman would be given his Chief’s outfit as a gift on his way out.  Maybe he even deserved it, who knows?

All of the ratings that required intelligence were wide open.  To take Electronics Technicians as an example.  A man could easily make First Class within a four year enlistment.  This was actually too fast on a cultural basis.  There were cases of ETs making Chief within four years.  This was absolutely destructive to Navy morale.  There may have been no question that the man had learned his rating that well; however he had not absorbed Navy culture to any extent.  He was not yet Navy.  He had no investment in the tradition, no esprit de corps, no veneration for the career.  Most of them became ego maniacs destroyed by their rapid advancement.

Angus Dieter, the Chief Bos’n’s Mate was everything a career Navy man should be.  He had been in seventeen years.  He wore his uniform with all the assurance and aplomb of a man born to the station.  He was overweight but by just the right amount.  His bulk was actually magnificent in his dress blues and in his khakis, which he wore during work hours.  He certainly distinguished his uniform.  Even his hat seemed as though it had been molded expressly for his head.

As the guns of the Teufelsdreck didn’t warrant a Chief Gunner’s Mate Dieter was Chief for the entire First Division, which he relished.  It gave him additional  importance which he wore well.  He was especially resplendent in the golden sunshine and the soft caressing uplifting air.  Dewey still didn’t like the way Dieter had commanded him to step forward.  The war was on.

After the names had been called and all found present the day’s tasks were assigned.  The two Sonarmen, Maclen and Hubie Blake, left for the Sonar shack below the Mess Hall.  The old hands were sent off to their tasks.  The seven new men were taken on an orientation tour by Pardon.  This would ordinarily have been done by the Second Class, Norm Castrato, but he had gone to sick bay that morning along with the Second Class Gunner’s Mate Lion Ratfield.

Before the tour Dieter delivered a talk about nomenclature.  Nomenclature is, of course, important but perhaps Dieter in his attempt to establish his authority was a bit overdone.  The seven reservists had all been developing hostile reactions since they had first stepped aboard.  Everything about shipboard life repelled them.  They would all display their repulsion in different ways but a little wave of revulsion greeted Dieter’s speech.

‘Now, I know you boys come from soft family backgrounds where you’re used to having your own way.  Well, you’re in the Navy now.  There’s only one way in the Navy and that’s the Navy way, no ifs ands or buts.  Screw with us and you’ll never see the highway again.  If you don’t want to do it our way there ain’t no way you’re going to enjoy your sojourn among us.  Do I make myself clear?  Alright.

Now, in the Navy all the things have different names than in civilian life- learn them or else.  For instance your are not standing on the floor- you are standing on a deck.  That why you are called Deck Hands.  That behind you is not a wall, that is a bulkhead.  There are no walls aboard ship, only bulkheads.

That thing with steps you see there attached to the bulkhead is not a staircase, it is a ladder.  That thing on the fantail leading below- not downstairs- below- is also a ladder even though you might think it looks more like stairs than a ladder.  The opening in the bulkheads you go through are called hatches.  All such openings are hatches whether as in the officer’s quarters they look like doors or not.  You do not go to the toilet or washroom you go to the head.  On that note, I’ll leave you where you belong, in the head.  Ha ha ha.  Pardon will show you around the ship.  By the way, you may call me Dieter or Chief or Chief Dieter at your discretion.  Do not call me Sir, Angus or Hey You.  I am not an officer and first names do not exist in the Navy.’

Our Lady Of The Blues Book I, clip 1e posted  6/07/12

‘Also call you asshole‘ seemed to arise from the seven but I doubt if a tape recorder would have picked it up.

Pardon then took them in hand and conducted them on a tour of the ship in much the same manner as you were introduced to it in the  prologue with the addition of details that will appear later.  This tour destroyed any illusions the seven may have had.

Dennis LaFrenniere, who was from Tempe, Arizona was taken back.  His illusions about a big adventure had been completely destroyed  There was an unforgiving brutal reality about the day that bore him down.

‘What did you think of it, monsieur?’  He civilly asked Dewey.  Trueman had taken to Dennis immediately and like what appeared to be a carefree devil may care attitude.  He was surprised by the somber depressed manner of the question.

Dewey was unaware of the edge the day had given to his own attitude.  He was resentful and agitated as Dennis was somber and depressed.  He realized only too well that, as Dieter had said, it was the Navy way or no way.  Trueman’s teeth were on edge.  The Navy would have to give to get what he had to offer.

‘I don’t think this is going to be any fun at all, Dennis, but we’ve got to get through it.’

LaFrenniere turned his troubled distraught eyes to the deck.  He couldn’t face it as himself.  A future of days like today was quite beyond his mind to handle as himself.  A film closed over his mind as he began to leave Dennis LaFrenniere aside and assume the identity of- Frenchy.

For the rest of his tour he would answer only to the name of Frenchy.  He would retreat into that identity and not come out until he was discharged and safely back in Tempe.  He became temporarily insane.

Dewey passed Don Tidwell coming back from evening chow but Tidwell’s gloomy withdrawn lips passed by without a word.  Tidwell, too, had taken a dim view of Navy life.  He was from Phoenix, Arizona.  Like Trueman and LaFrenniere he had a high score on the General Intelligence Test.  He took his score more seriously than he should have.  He had come from a literate family too, thus feeling himself above, not only everyone in First but everyone on ship.  He retreated within himself into a blue funk from which he would never emerge until he took his discharge papers in hand.  Even then his life’s outlook had been altered for good.

Dewey sat in mess hall looking at what it pleased the Navy to call food on his tray.  He couldn’t eat it.

‘Whatsa’ matter?  This is pretty good chow.’  The man next to him said, looking at him curiously.

‘Oh god, this stuff is garbage.’  Dewey said in disgust.

‘I’ve eaten a lot worse, I can tell you, when I could get it.’

‘No kidding?’’  Dewey replied incredulously.

‘You can bet on it.  I’ve gone without supper many a time.  When you’ve done that, you’ll eat anything.’

‘Hmm.  Well, I haven’t ever done that and if I had it wouldn’t make any difference to me.’  Dewey said, picking up his tray and shoving it through the opening into the scullery fully loaded on his way back to Deck.

Passing out of the port hatch he had to step around the cook who was blocking his way.  Bocuse was a First Class Cook, that is his rating was First Class.  He was slovenly, unshaven, dirty and fat.  He was an alcoholic who was never sober.  He was dirty minded, mean, lowdown and hateful.  He could cook better than he did but he was venting his ill-will toward humanity on the crew of the Teufelsdreck.  He was inventing a new cuisine; he was turning edible food into garbage.

‘In your way?’  He snarled at Dewey.

‘You the chef?’  Dewey replied, noticing his dirty apron.

‘I’m the cook, Navy doesn’t have chefs.’  Bocuse snarled.

‘I stand corrected.’ Dewey snarled back.

Bocuse didn’t get the insult until breakfast next morning when with he start he flipped an egg off the overhead.

‘Gonna do something about that son-of-a-bitch.’   Dewey thought as he entered the compartment.

The horrors of showering in Philly he hoped were behind him.  Dewey, as well as the other new men, was a modest fellow.  None of them saw any reason for walking around in the nude.  Hence Brant Crowson and Dant Ralston and Dewey went up to the showers together.  Crowson and Ralston were from Memphis.  They all put on their shoes leaving their undershorts on, carrying their soaps and towels.

As usual they were greeted by a long line.  As they took their places at the end they were greeted by sniggers and hoots.

‘What now?’  Ralston asked, resentful of being in the ‘wrong’ again.

‘Oh god, I don’t know.’  Trueman grimaced, waiting for the news.

‘Well, what have we here.  Three prima donnas?’  Came a voice from up ahead somewhere.

Dewey. Brant and Dant looked at each other unwilling to ask the obvious question.

After a repeat of the taunt and a pause Dewey turned to the man in front of him asking quietly  hoping for a quiet answer:  ‘What’s happening, man?’

The man was considerate:  ‘It’s your undershorts.  Look around.  Everyone’s nude.’

‘Yeah…but…so what?  Does this mean we all have to do it?

‘Well, it’s the way things are done. See?  You have to go with the flow.’

Dewey turned to Brant and Dant:  ‘Uh, none of these guys has underwear on.  I guess we aren’t supposed to either?’

‘Why not?’

‘’Cause that’s the way they want it, I guess.  We’re supposed to ‘go with the flow.’

The three of them returned to their compartment and took off their shorts.  Still unwilling to let it all hang out they independently adopted the same expedient; they wrapped their towels around them.

Trooping back to the end of the line they were greeted by the same voice:  ‘What do we have here now; three girls in skirts?’

They bowed to the inevitable removing their towels to stand immodestly displaying their wares for those who were most interesting in seeing.

‘How do you keep from getting athletes foot standing in those dirty showers?’  Brant asked.

The next guy in line offered the suggestion:  ‘Well, you see, you get a pair of these thongs…’ He said holding up his foot for the three to see.  ‘…and then you don’t take them off.  You shower with them on.’

‘Oh yeah?  Where do you get those?’

‘You can buy a pair at the ship’s store tomorrow.’

‘Yeh.  Where’s the ship’s store?’

‘It’s the compartment right ahead of the showers.  The door opens on the passageway on the other side of the hatch.’

‘Oh yeah?’

‘Yeah.  Good prices.  Cigarettes and candy are cheap.  No taxes.  They only have essentials.’

‘Oh, thanks man, we appreciate it.’

‘No problem.’

The new men inched up the line.  As their turn came up the voice grabbed a shower stall to check out their ‘hardware’ as he called it.  The voice was Paul Duber.  He was more or less openly known as a queer.  He was of a certainty, but in Navy etiquette unless you openly chose to be a queer, in which case you would be discharged, no one would dare to openly challenge you.  Duber was the least discreet of all the queers aboard.  He acted manly but did his best to let you know he was available.  He was actually criminal in his desire.  He drew a very thin line between seduction and rape.  He was the leader of the homosexual contingent that set the tone of the ship.

The first men into the showers in the evening turned the showers on.  They ran continuously until the last man left.  Thus, as you entered you only checked the temperature to make sure your predecessor hadn’t left you a scalding joke.  A good share of the men were vicious and delighted in hurting others.

The four stalls were arranged in pairs opposite each other.  Duber grabbed the rear forward stall so as better to ogle the new men.  There is nothing so exciting to a queer than a dick.  They study each one as a rare work of art.

‘Don’t drop your soap, honey, I might not be able to control myself.’  He snickered from his corner.  He jested but his jest carried an actual threat.  There was no disguising his meaning.

‘If you want my bar, here it is.  Jam this up your ass.’  Brant said insolently.

Duber was delighted.

‘O, he he.  A guy with a sense of humor.  I like that.  How about you two too.’

‘Here’s my bar, too.’  Dant said.

‘Awright.  How about you?’  Duber said leering at Trueman.

‘Go sit on an anchor fluke.’  Dewey replied with overflowing disgust.

‘Say, what’s wrong with your friend here.  Talks like a real tough hard ass.’

Dewey who was wasting no time gave himself a final rinse and stepped out of the shower without another word.

‘Goddamn those queers.’  He muttered beneath his breath slipping into his shoes, grabbing his towel, stalking off drying as he went.

Memories of Philadelphia flooded his mind causing indescribable pain to him.  Maybe others had greater facility in going with the flow but in Dewey’s darkened psyche the queers presented an insurmountable problem.

His mind was in angry agitation as he self-consciously pulled on his shorts  feeling the other men’s eyes on his ass.

‘Say, I’d be a little more careful bending over like that in front of us.  You might get a surprise.  ‘Course you’d probably like it.’  One of the old hands said hopefully.

‘Pretty skinny little ass.’  Came with a laugh.

‘Kiss it.’  Dewey snapped.

‘Ooh, hoo hoo.’  Came back with jeers and guffaws.

Dewey angrily hauled himself into his upper bunk, pulled his blanket over his head and turned his back on the others cursing them under his breath.  He wasn’t good at mental adjustment.  The Navy life was going to take some real mental adjustment.  Dewey could have made it a lot easier on himself with a more pliant attitude.  None this had to be so serious.  But, locked in the cage of his experience Dewey was quite incapable of moving out of himself a little to adapt to these new challenges.  His response were definitely inadequate.

As in all unstable social situation the lowest elements of society were able to grab a disproportionate share in shaping the morality of shipboard life.  Creating the flow, as it were.

To an experienced hand the process was simple.  You had to oppose the lower morality and impose your own higher morality.  This was not as simple as it seemed.  But by your level of opposition you at least prevented an actual criminal environment from developing.

The same thing happened in high society as well as in low society.  The Teufelsdreck was definitely low society.  Let me quote- or, actually reproduce in its entirely- a little book by one Samuel N. Ordway, Harvard Class of ‘21 entitled ‘Little Codfish Cabot At Harvard.’  Ordway at least liked his environment while few except the lowest liked the Teufelsdreck but the process of shaping the mind to the new environment is the same.

Little Codfish Cabot was born into the precincts of the Harvard Yard.  His father was a Cabot and his mother was a Cod.  The fish part is generic.

While still very young he was sent to a New England Church School but not before he had been soaked with atmosphere- which left him a little fuzzy because he was so young.

At boarding school he learned to weather teasing- and to fight- and not to be shocked by naughty stories and swearwords- and to be a man- and to play baseball.  The boys all called him Cod and he had to go to Chapel twice every day.

But he did not learn anything.

So he had to go to the Widow’s where he was crammed through the examinations and practiced living in the way he had learned at school life should be lived- when you get the chance.

Thus Codfish Cabot became a Freshman at Harvard.  His class was welcomed at Phillips Brooks House by Dean Briggs who spoke on ‘College Life.’

He persuaded his father to give him an automobile in which he drove chippies riding on the river bank; and, when he grew tired of that, to Revere Beach.

Once or twice he went to a Friday Evening.

He bought Rabelais and Boccaccio, and two weeks later paid thirty dollars for James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’.  It was a bargain.

He went with a Sophomore whom he met in English to a Copey’s Monday Evening.  Later, he took the Freshman from Passaic who lived across the hall.

He shot on the Freshman Rifle Team because he like to be considered an outdoorsman- and made the business board of the Red Book by getting ads from his father.

He took Miss Holland Saltontail to the Freshman Jubilee and because he told her that Boston Society must not show itself inferior to New York they both got drunk.  It was Miss Saltontail’s first experience.

Cod was no cad, and in his Sophomore year they elected him to the Dickey.  After stripping him to the waist and running him through the mill they slid  him into a tank of water and asked him if he was moral.

When he said he was, they ducked him for a liar.

Not because he wasn’t a cad, but because he was a Cod they elected him to the Porcellian.

Thereafter he got on probation and lived like a normal Harvard student.

His father gave him some more ads, and by receiving two permanent full pages, he became an editor of the Lampoon.

They made him lean out of the window on the corner of Plimpton Street and the Gold Coast at midnight and yell ‘Help, help, help, – don’t shoot-  I’ll marry the woman!’  (That is what you have to do when you make the Lampoon.  It is perfectly proper.)

Because he also made the Phoenix, and the Stylus, and the Hasty Pudding, and the Liberal Club- the last to show he was democratic and an independent thinker- his father had to double his allowance to pay dues.

He went to all the mass meetings and smokers- and always lent his voice in the defeat of the Eli.

He ceased going to Brattle Hall dances.

He learned to refrain from donning his hat prematurely in English 2.

After three and a half years, he had attended one of Prexy Lowell’s teas, – and had eaten once at Memorial Hall,- when he decided to leave Harvard and go into business.  (After going to chapel three thousand, two hundred and sixty times in six years at school, he had not attended since, nor pursued the Bible further; there was now no time to acquire needed knowledge for divisionals.’

But this did not preclude his taking part in the Class Day exercises with his class, nor becoming engaged to Miss Holland Saltontail on that day.

 

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

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 11

     The cop had pointed down Main to the bus station and told Dewey that he didn’t want to catch him on the road again.  Dewey had been stupified by the distance into Claremore.  He had also been conscious that they had been no other cars on the road.

     He was so turned around that, as in Berdoo, he didn’t know the right road.  Actually Main was the highway but as the highway took a left as it entered town from Tulsa Dewey had put his thumb out on a street to nowhere.  Fascinated by Claremore Saturday Night he didn’t even try to evaluate his situation.  Perhaps his thumb went out automatically as he stood there.  At any rate the kids noticed him.  He smiled when a car full of girls pulled up beside him.  One of those good looking Claremore chicks leaned out the window and breathed in what she thought was the most sultry of voices:  ‘Hey Sailor, want a ride?’

     She was sultry enough for Dewey but he knew he was being put on.  The dream of what might have been charmed Dewey so much that rather than hurt her feelings he played along.

     ‘Sure.’  He said reaching for the door.

     The girls pulled away rapidly as he knew they would.  At the same time the boys who had toyed with him on the highway noticed him.  The one shouted out:  ‘There’s the murderer.’  Dewey thought it best to step on down to the bus station.

page 1761.

     The bus station was also known as the Claremore Hotel.  The Hotel was a big ramshackle houselike affair.  The waiting room, sales office and checkin desk was like a big living room.  There were some half dozen men and women sitting around.  As in OK City some folks in Claremore considered the bus station and hotel a social gathering place.  They must have been looking for action because none of them subseqently got on the bus.

     Dewey stood silently while both sides looked each other over.  Then he walked over to buy a bus ticket to St. Louis where he could have been found the next morning if you looked quick.  The attendant who also owned the hotel ran a judicious eye over the Sailor.

     Dewey was running on adrenalin and he had that weary look about him.  His head was thick from lack of sleep.

     ‘I’ll take a ticket to St. Louis.’ Dewey said, incautiously opening his billfold in front of the hotelier to take out a twenty while revealing the sheaf of ten twenties.

     The eyes of the hotelier lit up.  Why should he not have all the money?  He looked at Dewey more closely.  It was apparent that Dewey had been on the road for days.  The exhaustion his excitement concealed from himself plainly showed.

     The hotelier put the ticket he had half withdrawn back into the drawer.

     ‘I’m afraid I can’t sell you a ticket.  We close this window at ten o’ clock.  It’s now eleven thirty.’  He said pointing to a clock on the wall over his shoulder.

     ‘What am I going to do?  I have to keep moving.  Get on that bus.’

page 1762

     ‘Here’s an idea.’  The hotelier said more slyly than he intended.  ‘This is a hotel, you know.  I’ve got rooms.  You look like you could use a good rest, shave and shower.  A room is only five dollars.  You’ve got plenty.  Why not stay for the night and catch the bus in the morning.  There’ll be another bus along.  There always is.’

     Dewey wasn’t going to lay over five minutes if he could help it besides a deja vu vision flashed through his mind of someone entering his room as he slept and stealing his money.  A deja vu is merely a mental projection of an interpretation of impressions.  The hotelier had merely been so obvious that Dewey’s subconscious had been able to ascertain the hotelier’s intentions and telegraph them to his conscious mind.  The projection had been so strong that it created not only a deja vu but a false memory.

     All his life Dewey would have a memory of the visual impression of laying asleep as a person entered his room and rifled his pockets.  He could see himself the next morning complaining to the hotelier.  He could see himself standing on the street without a dime in his pocket or a way home.  He saw no reason to make such a false memory a reality.

     The hotelier had a key in his hand pushing the registration book at Dewey while placing a pen in his hand.

     ‘No thanks.’  Dewey said.  ‘I’ll pay the driver.’

     The bus pulled in on time.  Dewey stepped up; the driver asked for his ticket.  Dewey explained why he didn’t have one and offered to pay cash.  The driver explained that he wasn’t authorized to accept cash telling him to go back into the hotel to get a ticket.  Dewey said this time that the ticket window closed at ten 0′ clock.

page 1763.

     ‘That’s news to me.’  The driver said getting out of the bus to check.

      ‘Hey, Bill.’  He said once inside.  ‘How come this sailor doesn’t have a ticket?  What’s this about closing the window at ten o’ clock?’

     ‘Oh, that guy, Bob.  He just doesn’t have the money.  He’s been hitchhiking.  The State Police brought him in and told him to get on the bus and keep moving.  I’d be happy to sell him a ticket.  He just doesn’t have the money.’

     The hotelier made a last effor to keep Dewey off the bus hoping to rent him a room.

     ‘He says he’ll sell you a ticket.’  Bob said getting in his bus.

    ‘Well, he wouldn’t and I’m not going to try again.  I’ll just pay you.’

     ‘I’m not allowed to take cash.’  Bob said closing the door in Dewey’s face.

     Dewey watched the tail lights disappear in the distance.

Bad Motorcycle With The Devil In The Seat

     As Ollie said to Stan:  ‘This is a fine kettle of fish you’ve got us in.’  Dewey put his hands on his hips watching the receding tail lights as he wondered what he was going to do next.  Hitching was impossible while he was not going to rent a room.

page 1764.

     The revelers of Claremore Saturday Night had all gone home with the exception of a few stragglers who gathered loosely around to watch the stange oddity of a sailor.  Dewey had been pacing up and down for a half hour or so when with a roar a big customized Harley Davidson crashed down the drag, chrome forks way out in front.  The rider pulled up in front of Dewey.

     The rider was a big burly guy with a face that looked like Iwo Jima after the Naval bombardment.   The guy must have been through a couple wars because nature never in the history of mankind had made a face that way.  He had a World War II German helmet on his head while the back of his jacket proclaimed that he was one of the Screamin’ Demons.

     He placed his size fourteen engineer’s boot neatly at the toe of Dewey’s shoe.  If Dewey hadn’t been so groggy he might have looked frightened but his reflexes were so delayed he was cool as a summer breeze.

     The biker stood surveying him for a minute or so with his mouth half open as though he were about to laugh.  Finally Dewey flipped his chin up by way of acknowledgment.

     ‘Hi.  I’m Rodeo Frank Danesworth.  I heard ya was in town.’

     Dewey took that to mean that someone had told Frank that there was a sailor lounging around on Main.

     ‘Hi.  Dewey Trueman, Frank.’  Dewey shouted over the burps and blats of the motorcycle of which Frank had apparently removed the muffler.  ‘Yeah. Passin’ through.’

page 1765.

     ‘Miss your bus?’  Frank asked giving the gas hand a couple of twists that created a roar that shook the ground beneath Dewey’s feet.

     ‘Guy in the hotel refused to sell me a ticket.  Said the window was closed.  Driver woudn’t take cash.  Here I am.’

     ‘Tell ya what.  If you want to ride on my hog I’ll take ya into Joplin where ya can buy a ticket.  How’s that?’

     A man standing in the heart of darkness with only one way out no matter how questionable ought to take the chance.  Rodeo Frank had a terrifying aspect but a terrifying aspect can conceal a heart of gold.  As Dewey always repeated:  There’s time enough to bid the devil good morning when you meet him.  He bit his lower lip as if ruminating.  Which he was.

     ‘The bus has got over a half hour head start.  Do you think you can overtake him?’

     ‘Put your hat in your pocket and hop on.’  Rodeo Frank replied making his hog sound like a 707 lifting off.

     Dewey placed his bag between he and Frank and got into the seat behind the Screamin’ Demon.

     Frank popped the clutch and with a slight rear the mean machine plunged down Main and the darkness at the edge of town.

     Frank was not a cautious rider.  If Dewey thought you were overdriving your headlights in a car the little headlight on the Harley was practically useless except as a signal for oncoming traffic of which there wasn’t any.  Frank ran his hog up to ninety miles an hour which was the same as driving blind.  Maybe Frank could see the road ahead of him but Dewey could see only where the asphalt joined the shoulder.

page 1766.

     The noise was deafening.  Mile after mile wore away.  There were no cars on the road coming or going.  After twenty minutes a huge semi passed rocking the bike while creating terror in Dewey’s heart.

     Then far in the distance the glow of tail lights could be discerned.

     ‘We got him now.’  Rodeo Frank roared.

     Frank closed with the bus rapidly.  As time to pass it approached the lights of sixteen wheeler came towards them in the other lane.  Dewey thought that Frank would slow down until the semi passed but Frank hadn’t earned that face by backing down.

     He goosed that hog up to a hundred.  He started around the bus just as the semi closed with it.  Eyes wide in terror Dewey made the mistake of shifting in his seat.  That loosened the tails of his raincoat allowing the wind to enter pulling the skirts loose where they streamed out behind him snapping in the wind.

     The enraged truck driver let loose with a deafening blast of his air horn as the din of the bike reverberated off the sides of the bus and semi.  In a space no more than five feet wide Rodeo Frank Danesworth let out an exultant scream of ‘yahoo’ which flew back past Dewey’s ears.  Dewey was just screaming in terror which fortunately did not carry forward over the speed and din of the three vehicles.

page 1767.

     An angry Bob driving the bus looked down to recognize Dewey as the bike sped past rapidly disappearing in the black of the night covering Joplin.

     Frank wheeled through the parking lot of the station stopping smartly in the front door.  I don’t mean in front of the door; I mean half in and half out.

     ‘How was the ride?’  Frank shouted as Dewey tremblingly climbed off, carefully trying to sense whether his pants were loaded or not.

     ‘That was terrific Frank.  You’re quite a rider.  How much do I owe you?’  Dewey asked politely knowing or at least hoping Rodeo Frank wouldn’t want anything.

     ‘Hey, I was glad to do it, pardner.  I was in the service myself.  Korea ’52.  Good luck Buddy.’  Frank said revving the bike wildly making the whole building shake as he backed his bike out.

     ‘Korea ’52.  Must have been where he got that face.’  Dewey thought as all eyes were riveted on him as he walked to the ticket counter.

     The Joplin station was never empty.  Joplin was a major crossroads; buses came in all night long.  The cons were thinned out but they sat and waited.

     One nudged the other:  ‘See that guy?  Remember him?’

     ‘No.  Who is he?’

     ‘Came through here summer last year.  He was real rude to some nice guys.  We should fix him.’

     ‘Think we oughta?  Know who that guy on the Harley was?’

page 1768.

     ‘No.’

     ‘That was Rodeo Frank Danesworth.  He’s with the Sccreamin’ Demons.  If this guy is a friend of Rodeo Frank’s I’m not messin’ with him.’

     ‘I’ll find out how well he knows him; might be a chance acquaintance.’

     Dewey was sitting on a bench reliving the passage between the bus and the Semi when the con approached him.

     Dewey recognized him from last summer too.  Not in the mood to talk Dewey replied in a curt manner that seemed as tough as Rodeo Frank looked:  ‘Back off.’

     Thinking Dewey was maybe that tough through his association with Frank the country con backed off.

     While he and his friend stood a ways off studying Dewey Bob wheeled his big Grey Dog into the station.

     Heaving a sigh of relief Dewey climbed aboard.

No Relief

     ‘Say, ain’t you the guy on that motorcycle that come near to scaring me to death back there?’

     ‘I don’t know.’  Dewey said trying to evade the issue.

     ‘There was only one bike out there from Claremore to here.’

     ‘Must have been us then.  We were out out there.  Me and ol’ Rodeo Frank Danesworth.’

     ‘He’s one of those Screamin’ Demons, ain’t he?’

     ‘If you can believe the logo on the back of his jacket.  I’m not one of them.  The guy was decent enough to get me to Joplin which is what you should have done in the first place.’

page 1769

     ‘Didn’t have a ticket.’

     ‘Well I do now so I’m going to sit down.’

     Dewey found an empty bench halfway back sliding into the window seat where he propped himself up to sleep into St. Louis.

     No sooner had he dozed off than he was awakened by a hot weight pressing against his left shoulder.  Opening his weary eyes he looked to determine the cause.  He found himself looking into a pair of bulging eyes.  He knew what they meant.

     Gathering his failing wits about him Dewey pushed the man back.

     ‘Get over in your half.’

     ‘My name’s Lyle.  I need some companionship.’

     ‘Not in my seat you don’t.  Get away from me.’

     ‘You don’t understand.’

     ‘That’s what you think.’

     ‘No you don’t.  See, I work in a top secret government project.  I spend three weeks at a time in rooms seven levels underground.  I work all alone one hundred feet below the surface.  I never see the sun.  I don’t have any companions.  Every third week I get out and then I just have to have some companionship.  This isn’t just for tonight.  I have a whole week off.’

     ‘They don’t have any buildings seven levels underground in Joplin.  There isn’t even any government in Joplin.’

     ‘You don’t know.  I do.  There are dozens of super secret installations all across the country.  I should know.  I work in one, don’t I?’

     ‘I don’t care if there’s a super secret installation every square mile.  Get back in your seat.’  Dewey said giving Lyle another shove.

     But Lyle needed companionship and was not to be so easily dissuaded.  He continued to pester Dewey until raising his voice in exasperation Dewey disturbed the other passengers.  they complained to Bob.

     Bob stopped the bus.  He walked back authoritatively to Dewey’s seat and said:  ‘Oh, you again.’

     ‘Why me again?  This guy won’t stay in his seat.  He wants mine.  Make him move.’

     ‘I’ll tell you what, Sailor.  Why don’t you move?  Here, come sit in this seat behind me or get off the bus.’

     Dewey didn’t want to do it but to resist the injustice meant that he would be thrown off the bus.  The lesser of the two evils was to accept the seat behind the driver.  He got up and moved.

     He now sat next to a little old lady who eyed him suspiciously.  Dewey felt the futility of trying to explain so he just shut up.

     There was a faint glow on the horizon.  He asked Bob how far to St. Louis.  Told it was about sixty miles he sat glumly having been forced to give up his sleep.  Rosy fingered Dawn illuminated St. Louis as the bus headed for the terminal.

page 1771.

THE OTHER SIDE OF BIG RIVER

East St. Louis Toodle-pp

     Dewey stumbled down out of the bus glad for the opportunity to leave Lyle behind him.  Having put off his weariness for three days he was not conscious that he had been up that long.  The trip had become a mania.  He should have taken the bus directly to the Valley but the notion of hitchin’ had become an idee fixe.  He couldn’t shake it.  His judgment had become a little cloudy and confused.

     Oklahoma would be the last State that would provide reasonable weather.  The route up through Missouri had been the transition into the cold of winter.  Northern Illinois, Indiana and Michigan were in the grip of a cold front of which Dewey had no knowledge because he hadn’t the foresight or interest to buy a paper and find out.  It couldn’t have mattered; facts couldn’t have influenced his fantasy anyway.

     Stuck in the bus station in St. Louis he didn’t know how to get to the highway anymore so he determined to buy a ticket to East St. Louis across the Mississippi to begin fresh from there.

     Dewey did not know that East St. Louis was a completely Black town- Little Africa.  Nor would the racial ethos of the nation allow the information to be published warning Whites for fear of antogonizing Blacks.  The Urban Aristocracy like to condemn Southern Whites as bigots.  They pretend that the North welcomes Blacks.  In fact when Blacks fled the South in numbers during and after the Great War their entry into the North had been deeply resented and stoutly resisted.

page 1772.

     While the North had no experience in disciplining Blacks they nevertheless tightly restricted Black residence to a certain area which they were only allowed to leave for certain purposes.  This caused a great deal of resentment among the Blacks which resulted in several extensive and bloody race riots in the years around 1920   You can read that ‘Race War.’

     One of the worst had been in East St. Louis where it became celebrated in song:  The East St. Louis Toodle-oo.  As a result the Blacks won the town.  Thus Dewey was preparing to get off the bus in what was in fact a Negro city state.  In the era of integration no Whites were allowed, day or night.  Whites were not only expected to get out of town by sundown, there was no excuse for them to be there during the day.

     Naturally in the American way this fact was not acknowledged in public nor spoken of openly as that would have been ‘racism.’

     America conceals this sort of secret well.  Dewey was unaware of what he was doing.

     ‘I’ll take a ticket to East St. Louis.’  He announced to the woman in the ticket booth.  She evinced some surprise at this destination.

page 1773.

     ‘Do you know where you’re going?’  She asked, taking his uniform into consideration.

     Dewey merely thought she was questioning his sense of direction.

     ‘Yeah, sure, of course I do.  Why?’

     ”It’s just that not too many ‘people’…’ She meant White people.  ‘…go to East St. Louis..’

     ‘Oh well, I’ve just got to get across the Mississippi.’  Dewey said nonchalantly.

     The ticket seller began a remonstration but then thought better of it, not wanting to appear ‘racist’ and justified herself with the thought that Dewey was on the lam and had to get out of Missouri.  She said no more.

     Not feeling too tiptop Dewey stepped off the bus in the little East St. Louis station.  The driver made an involuntary move to restrain him, throwing in arm in front of him looking at him as though he were a madman.  Dewey gave him a strange look and brushed past.  He was surprised to find that everyone was Black, even the ticket seller.  He’d never seen a Black in that position before.  He noted the looks of astonishment he received on their faces so he smiled politely but didn’t know what to make of it other than that few people got off the bus in East St. Louis.

     ‘Now I’ve got to find the highway.’  He grumbled to himself as wide eyes watched him leave the station while three youths got up to leave through the back.

     He stepped outside to find numerous highway signs.  It seemed that every highway in America converged on this station.  There were several.  Not having looked at a map while being very groggy Dewey had no idea which highway he needed.  Just as well.  He picked a number with a shield around it indicating a US route which required him to cross the street.

page 1774.

     Dewey’s appearance on Black Main Street snapped heads around.  Several pairs of Black eyes glared darts of hatred at him.  They were hungry for white meat.  While Dewey was studying the signs a big Black guy 6/3, 280 brushed by him forcing him from the sidewalk into the gutter.  ‘Better keep movin’ White Boy.  Don’t want your kind in my town.  Better be gone by sundown, if you know what I mean.’  The man said with barely stifled rage and hatred that not only implied but stated danger.

     All innocence, Dewey looked after the departing Black man.  ‘Wow!  Pretty aggressive, I’ve never heard of that before.’  Dewey said without too much concern, especially as the guy was three times his size.

     Tired and turned around Dewey stuck his thumb out on a East Bound highway.  The three Black youths who had circled around him from the bus station drifted up to stand uncertainly around behind him on the sidewalk eyeing him with obvious malicious intent.  Dewey’s little pearl handled Japanese knife would have been no match for their shivs which they fondled in their pockets as they worked up the nerve to attack.

     Dewey got lucky, very, very lucky.  It was the shortest wait for a ride he ever had.  As soon as the driver of the ’58 Chev saw him from a block away reading the situation very accurately he sped up then screeched to a stop in front of the sailor.  Flinging the door open he shouted:  ‘Get in, get in, hurry.’

     Dewey was aware that he was about to become dead meat as the youths edged slowly closer as Dewey inched out to middle of the street which is where he was when the driver stopped.  Dewey was not loath to leap in the car but he thought that a sudden movement would break the spell of the snake like weaving of the Blacks so he as casually as he could got in the car.

     ‘Push down that lock.  Hurry. Don’t waste time.’  The man appeared to be terrifed reaching past Dewey to slam down the lock post.  He was not a moment too soon because a black hand was already on the door handle.  It was possible that they might have pulled Dewey out.  The driver floored it nearly taking the Black’s hand off.

page 1775.

     ‘Are you crazy?’  The driver chastised him.  ‘What in hell are you doing hitchhiking there?  Did some bastard drop you off?  Man, this is East St. Louis, I don’t even like to drive through it.’

     ‘Well.’  Dewey began mystified.  “Im hitchiking home for Christmas and I just got off the bus from St. Louis.  It seemed the easiest way to get across the Big River.’

     ‘Wow, are you ever lucky I came along at the right time.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Why’s that?  I mean, thanks for the ride but why am I luckier than that?’

     ‘You really didn’t know where you were?’

     ‘Yah.  East St. Louis.’

     ‘East St. Louis toodle-oo.  That’s where you you were.  White men don’t live long in East St. Louis.  That’s a Black town.  They hate White people.  They kill them.  Back in the twenties Blacks started to take over the town and they had one of the worst race riots the country has ever seen.  Bloody fighting in the streets.  Since then the Blacks have taken over and White man’s life isn’t worth a plugged nickel.’

     ‘Aw, they wouldn’t have killed me, would they?’  Dewey asked incredulously.

     ‘Listen another five minutes and those three Black guys near you would have sliced you to pieces right there on the street.  Didn’t you see them?  Next thing you’d be body surfing down the Mississippi to New Orleans.’

     ‘Wow.  Driftwood on the river.’  Dewey said, thinking back to the hatred on the face of the guy who had shoved him into the gutter but still incredulous unable to believe that such a thing could be true in his own country.

page 1776.

     ‘Uh huh.  Discrimination may be a terrible thing but it cuts both ways.  Black guys may be charming and OK when they’re outnumbered in a White environment or one on one but a White guy in where he’s outnumbered and discrimination takes on a whole new meaning.  Shoot man, you might as well have been standing in the middle of the South Side of Chicago.

     Or one of those white hoboes who got in the freight car car with those eight Black guys.  Ever hear of that?’

     Dewey racked his nearly addled brain:  ‘You mean the Scotsboro Boys?’

     ‘Yes.  You don’t think they weren’t really guilty do you just because some Commies and Liberals decided to go to bat for them to embarrass the Southerners, do you?’

     ‘Jeez, I don’t know.  I just thought maybe they were and maybe they weren’t.’

     ‘Well, think about it.  You were dead meat back there among all Blacks.  Now, picture a White woman and two White Boys getting into a box car and finding eight Black guys there.

     I’m not saying she was a virgin but how much proof has been offered that she was a prostitute as the Commies claim.  Even if she was that doesn’t make it ‘all right’ for the Black guys to rape her.

     Eight guys to two with a White woman involved and hatred shooting out of the yes of both Blacks and Whites?  Come on, those Black guys saw their opportunity and took it.  Innocent my ass.  I don’t think the first judgment was a miscarriage of justice but I think the second one was.

page 1777.

     I mean…’  The driver couldn’t get over it.  ‘…you don’t know how lucky you are that I came along at that moment.’

     Dewey didn’t realize how lucky he was but he took the driver’s word for it as he watched him shiver and shake in his stead.

     Dewey began to muse on this as he carried on a desultory conversation.   Then looking out the window he saw a sign on the highway that read:  Louisville, 160 miles.  Turning to the driver he said:  ‘Louisville?  Louisville? Is that the same Louisville as in Kentucky?’

     ‘Yes, that’s where I thought you were going.’

     ‘Oh well, you know what?  I’m going the wrong way.  I’m trying to get to Michigan.  I don’t mean to be a nuisance but could you stop and let me out?’

     ‘Oh sure.’  Said the driver who was a genuinely decent man.

     Dewey hopped out crossing to the other side of the highway.

     Once again he didn’t have to wait very long.  A blue and yellow ’55 Buick pulled over.

    ‘How far you goin?’  Dewey asked as he climbed in.

     ‘Chicago.’  Said Black Jack David Drainsfield who was driving.

Black Jack David Came Down From The Hills

…rather drink muddy water

and sleep in a hollow log,

Than hang around Mobile

And be treated like a dirty dog.

Trad.

Ain’t I A Dog?

-Ronnie Self

page 1778.

     ‘Great.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘I’ll ride right through East St. Louis.’

     ‘Hi.’  The driver said amiably almost apologetically.  ‘I’m Black Jack David Drainsfield and the lady in the back seat with you is Dixie Darlin’ and this is my wife up front, Dixie Belle.  We’re traveling from Mobile to Chicago and you’re welcome to ride with us.’

     ‘Thank you very much Black Jack Davy.  I’m Dewey Trueman and I’m on my way from California to Michigan on Christmas leave.  Your lift is very much appreciated.’  Dewey replied in kind amazed at the florid politeness of Drainsfield while looking curiously at the Dixie Darlin’ and the Dixie Belle.’

     As can be told from their monikers the trio was having a difficult task adapting to the rigors of getting on in the world.  When one’s own name seems to be be an inadequate entree into one’s world one adopts a pseudonym that one imagines adds luster to one’s person.  It was on that basis that David Hirsh renamed himself Yehouda Yisraeli which might be translated something like the Quintessential Jew of Israel.  The trait is quite common in Jewish circles where one finds such names as Israel Israelson.  One young Jewish lady in the US in the early nineteenth century named herself Suzy American and actually functioned under that name.

page 1779

     Dewey too was under pressure to escape into an alternate identity but his were were all so grandiose that he lacked the chutzpah to adopt them.  One which would later be used by Peter Fonda in the movie ‘Easy Rider’ was based on the comic book character Captain America.  One has to credit the Rovin’ Gambler with the good sense not to fall into that trap.  Even in the movie Easy Rider Fonda as Capt. America cut a laughable figure.

     As it wa Dewey knew the sources of the name Black Jack David, Dixie Darlin’ and Dixie Belle so he knew immediately their psychological history.  All three names came from songs.  Black Jack David or Davy depending on the version was the hero of an old Scottish ballad.  David comes down from the hills feelin’ so gay and merry.  There, although he is a pauper who can offer his beloved nothing but a pallet on the ground, he meets, woos and wins the wife of the Lord of the Manor on nothing but his manly vigor.  Dewey knew Drainsfield’s whole history in that moniker.

     The two women took their pseudonyms from a hillbilly song called Dixie Darlin’:  ‘She’s my Dixie Darlin’; She’s my Dixie Belle.’  So, Dewey knowing who he was with relaxed.  Not of hillbilly origins himself he had an aunt who married one of the hill folks who had migrated to Michigan to work in the auto plants.  That aunt had doted on Dewey so through his Uncle Paul he was acquainted with the mental rhythms of Hillbillies not to mention the fact that his early eyars had been lived with his ear glued to every Hillbilly radio station in the Midwest.

page 1780

     Those were a considerable number because the great Midwestern basin in the US has no mountainous obstruction for over an area of a couple thousand miles wide and a couple thousand in depth.  At night signals from the super powerful Mexican stations run by Americans in such places as the legendary Del Rio, Texas that had a signal big enough to beam to Mars and maybe Jupiter came in crystal clear.  The great hillbilly stations in Tennessee, Shreveport, Louisiana, Waterloo, Iowa, WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia and WCKY in Cincinatti, Ohio were all favorite stations.  The CKY obviously stands for Cincinatti/Kentucky.

     Dewey was with his people.

     ‘Comin’ up from Mobile, huh?’

     ‘Yep.’

     ‘How long have you lived down there?’

     ‘Only a couple years.  How’d you know I wasn’t from there?’

     ‘Well, you call yourself  Black Jack David and Davy came down from the hills feelin’ so gay and merry so I assume you’re from the hills somewhere.’

    ‘The Smokies.  Yeah, it got too hard to make a livin’ up there so my folks moved down to Mobile trying to better themselves.’

     ‘How’d they do?  Got a new car anyway.’

     ‘Tsha.  No thanks to them.  Got this in Chicago.  Man, people in Mobile treat hill folk like dirty dogs.  I wasn’t going to stand for that.  Not me and not my wife and not my sister.’

page 1781.

     ‘No, sir.’  Dixie Darlin’ who playing solitaire with funny looking cards on the seat beside Dewey piped up.  ‘Not no way.  I’m better than them curs anyway.  I’d a left without him.  I ain’t no White Trash.  I don’t care what they say.’

     Much is made of the migration of the Southern Negro to the North but there were actually two streams of internal migration following the Drinking Gourd to ‘freedom.’  Of the two peoples the most despised were the men and women known down South as Poor White Trash.

     Except for the fact that they were White the Hillbillies were as culturally different if not more so than the Blacks.  Even in their home country they were an odd lot.  The immigrants who accupied the hill regions of Amrica were what is known as Scotch-Irish or the Border people of England and Scotland.  Rob Roy types.  They were a quarrelsome, feuding, illiterate lot on their arrival on these shores.  Their customs and attitudes were markedly different from the Puritans who occupied New England, the Cavaliers of Virginia and Midlands Quakers who took up a midland location in America in Pennsylvania.

     Isolated in the hills their culture was reinforced by their insularity.  While immigrants flowed into the midstates and the Northeast thence West to Michigan and Chicago to create the smarmy culture of the North they bypassed the Eastern mountain spine of America.  Thus the Hill Folk developed in a pure unblended fashion which made them stranger than any blending immigrant group.

     Not given to learning on the Border they sought little education in their hills.  Thus, in addition to their singularity they became a synonym for ignorant bumptiousness.  The Urban Aristocracy degraded them below the Negro in social status.

page 1782.

     It is said that the Hatfield-McCoy feud of Kentucky gave them this obnoxious character.  It may be true that the most celebrated feud in history tainted the entire people but I doubt it.

     Making their living the coal mines all down the line added more to their character than the Hatfields and McCoys.

     No.  Immigrants slandered them more than any legendary feud.

     The nature of immigration into the United States is purposely misunderstood and misrepresented by the Urban Aristocracy for their own ends.  They are willing to sacrifice the hill people to their goal.  You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet; just hope they are not your eggs and somebody else doesn’t end up with the omelet.

     Emigration is never easy whether from East Europe to West Europe of from North to South in Europe.  Sicilian migrant laborers in Northern Europe during the nineteenth century were treated no differently than in the US.  Eastern European migrants to West Europe were often expelled and sent back to where they came from.  Such cultural clashes were unwanted by the native peoples.

     Immigrants and first generation offspring made up half of the US population during 1900 to 1950.  When they arrived they were often treated worse than the Negroes; certainly cruelly exploited economically.  They were stripped of their language while their customs were treated contemptuously.

page 1783.

     This was to be expected.  Nowhere else in the world would they have been treated differently of perhaps as well.  After all the majority prospered immediately and certainly within twenty years of their arrival.  Once acclimated they were treated with a respect that would not have been accorded their social castes, which were nearly all proletarian, in their homelands.

     Nevertheless, the rhetoric of the US is that of liberty here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Many of the immigrants were as well as or better educated than most Americans.  It galled them for Americans to adobt superior attitudes while treating them as stupid or ignorant simply because they spoke with foreign accents.

     They looked around for someone else to belittle while justifying themselves.  There was always the Negro but they were unsatisfactory simply because they were Negroes.  Looking further afield they found the Hillbillies who, they felt, fit their needs admirably.  So they pointed the Hill people out as evidence that Americans weren’t all they were cracked up to be.

     Great agitators arose.  Among them was a vindictive, demented but effective person name H.L. Mencken.

     Now, in 1914 the Great War came along.  The War interdicted immigration more effectively than the legislation which followed the war in 1920 and 1924.

     Once again the Urban Aristocracy misrepresents the unity of America during the war.  It is true that Anglo-Americans had the ascendancy which allowed them to bring America in on the side of the Allies.  They controlled the newspapers but opinion was more evenly divided than that.  The Central Powers always counted on their people to influence American policy in ways in which they proved unable.

page 1784.

     At the time of the war there were millions of German and Austro-Hungarian immigrants in the United States.  In addition the Irish favored the Central Powers because both peoples were fighting the English.  The Jews favored the Central Powers over the Allies because the Powers were fighting the Jews’ arch enemy the Russians.  The Jews did not become pro-Ally until after the Bolshevik Revolution at which point they rushed millions of dolars in loans in aid of what they believed was their cause.

     All of these peoples acted as foreign nationals and not as American citizens.

     The people of the Central Powers who had emigrated to the United States were treated as disloyal citizens.  All things German were castigated.  Germans were treated in a manner that made the treatment of the Japanese in World War II look mild.

     The War ended.  H.L. Mencken was a German who deeply resented the way he and other Germans had been treated during the War.  Muzzled by wartime censors, when the struggle was over he went on a psychological rampage, castigating America, Americans, the Anglo-Saxon race and all it’s ideals.

     Allied with a journalist of the Jews, George Jean Nathan, he created the then influential magazine, The American Mercury.  The alliance with the Jews was important.  In the pre-Hitler days the Jews proudly carried the banner of German culture as well as their own.  They had hailed the German victory in Russia as one of their own.

page 1785.

     Mencken himself adopted and popularized many Yiddish words and phrases which were in fact neologisms to his goyish readers.  Yiddish was still thought of by the Jews as their native language.  It was only after the Second World War that the use of Yiddish atrophied to the point of uselessness.  In Russia the Jews were plumping for an autonomous Jewish people with Yiddish being one of the official languages of Russia.

     In the wild enthusiasm of the Bolshevik victory the introduction of Yiddish phrases was probably thought of as an opening salvo for the creation of an autonomous Jewish people in the United States with Yiddish as a second official language.  Never forget that the Jewish Cultrual Revolution was to last from 1913 to 1928.

     By the use of Mencken it was thus that the Jewish counter-culture might begin to flow into the dominant culture to subvert thought toward the idea of an autonomous Jewish people.

     Mencken’s attacks on the Hill folk, Anglo-Saxonism and the Boobocracy of America as he termed it had the effect of dividing the Urban Aristocracy from a major constituent and pitting it against it.  Divide and rule.

      This attitude was abetted by the formation of the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith in 1913, which was the opening year of the Jewish Revolution.  The ADL began immediately to attack it’s list of ‘known’ anti-Semites which further divided ‘good’ goys from ‘bad goys.’  In an effort to show that they were not prejudiced against Jews the ‘good’ goys turned viciously on their own people and against their own best interests.  Always ask this question:  Is it good for the Jews?

page 1786.

     The crowning blow against the Hill People was delivered in 1932 by a semi-literate Communist by the name of Erskine Caldwell.  Caldwell comes across in his writing as a vicious bigot.  Tobacco Road, his most famous and infuential novel, appeared in ’32 followed by God’s Little Acre in 1933.  Both books sold in unprecedented millions in the heart of the Depression penetrating so deeply into the consciousness of America that for decades there was no one who had not heard of Tobacco Road and believed in its excistence.

     In the Communist manner it was Caldwell’s intent to demean the Hillbilly below the status of the Negro in which he succeeded.  This would not be the last time that the elevation of the Negro would be attempted by lowering the status of the Whites.

     In an introduction to the novels written in the latter years of the twentieth century a Negro writer describes the pride of place he felt when after reading the two tracts he realized or hoped he would never sink as low as Hillbillies.

     The fear of Tobacco Road plagued White youth for at least two generations to be later replaced by the image of Archie Bunker of TV fame who was created by a Jewish writer.  It was no coincidence that one of the early anthems of the Folk Rock era was a song called Tobacco Road.  In it the writer notes that he is not going back to the Tobacco Road he has escaped.

page 1787.

     Thus by the late forties Hillbillies had been thoroughly ‘niggerized’ taking their place on the bottom rung of the ‘minority’ ladder below the Negroes.  It no longer mattered what they might believe individually as a whole ethos had been projected on them by the Urban Aristocracy and the Negroes.

     In the post war years this vision of Hillbillies as a quaint stone age people was furthered by such comic strips as Snuffy Smith and the tremendously influential ‘L’il Abner’ by the Jewish writer, Al Capp.

     Although convicted of child molestation at the end of his career destroying a fine reputation Capp was revered in the forties and fifties by an audience that did not reflect on what he was up to.  Capp was able to infuence fashion and change American social mores.  Girls and women embraced the styles of his heroine, Daisy May, down to the off shoulder blouse and cut off jeans.  He called the name of this hillbilly haven he invented, what else?, Dog Patch.  Following some of these themes through can be an amazing experience.  One of the customs of Dogpatch was the tradition of women asking men out.  The custom was strictly forbidden in real life.  His character who did this was called Sadie Hawkins.  By mid decade in the fifties every school in America was holding Sadie Hawkin’s days where the girls could ask the boys for a date.

     Capp’s influence peaked in the sixties when Dogpatch moved to Hollywood in the TV series ‘Beverly Hillbillies.’  After that the hills were filled with Urban Cowboys while Archie Bunker replaced the Beverly Hillbillies.  Same tune, different words.

page 1788.

     Capp’s efforts in the forties were seconded by several Jewish film writers among whom was the semi-literate Red, Lester Cole.  He keenly felt the ridicule immigrants endured before 1920 so he wrote scripts where he invented an ignorant Hill dialect that assuaged his tortured feelings although it made him a bigot.

     Thus having fled his Dogpatch for Mobile, Black Jack David Drainsfield was treated like a dirty dog by the Southern Aristocracy in that Dixie metropolis.  Unable to endure such treatment he did what all self-respecting Whites and Blacks did.  He headed up North to ‘freedom.’

     He found the same reception up river as did the Negroes.  He was ridiculed and despised as a sub-human.  Like the Blacks he was driven mad by this savage treament.  He was young so he had the strength to resist but at the stage of entering life he was driven from pillar to post.  Caught in an existence from which the only escape was transformation he was at a stage of indecision.  Unable to assimilate easily into the smarmy culture of Chicago he sought refuge from time to time by returning to Mobile.  Once there he realized the impossibility of enduring life as a dirty dog from Dogpatch so he returned to Chicago which he was doing now.

     Like the Black Folk of Richard Wright’s novels he asked repeatedly:  ‘Are we just dogs to be treated so?’

     Well, Al Capp thought so or he wouldn’t have named his Hillbilly Nirvana Dogpatch.  The Urban Aristocracy thought so or they wouldn’t have projected the character of Dogpatch on them.

page 1789.

     Thus from H.L. Mencken through Erskine Caldwell to Al Capp the true source of the Hillbilly character is derived.

     Drainsfield like all people who fled this character to be derided, which he certainly was, both in Mobile and Chicago, was at great pains to establish his integrity.  It was not his intention to travel through East St. Louis up 66 but to take an alternate route up the Indiana line.

     He was extremely fearful that Dewey might distrust him so he went to great lengths to assure Dewey that his route was a better way to Chicago.

    ‘This is just as good a road but it saves a lot of miles.  We bypass East St. Louis which is the last place in the world I’d want to break down.  It is still the road to Chicago so don’t worry that we’re taking you somewhere else.’

     ‘It’s alright Black Jack.  I can read the signs on the highway.  Don’t worry.’

     Now heading up the Indiana line they all settled back for the long haul to Chicago.  Pleased with the nice hop Dewey had again reconciled himself to hitchhiking.  He turned his attention to the Dixie Darlin’ who, as she played her game of solitaire quietly sang the lyrics of an old Hawkshaw Hawkins’ tune:

Don’t want no warmed over kisses

Or yesterday’s sighs;

I want everything fresh

Even brand new lies.

If you don’t have what I want

Another boy may,

If it ain’t on the menu

There’s another cafe.

page 1790

     Hawkshaw Hawkings had already been all but forgotten so Dewey was pleasantly surprised to hear one of his favorites.

     ‘Oh wow.  You know Hawkshaw Hawkins?’

     ‘Of course.  I know everybody in both kinds of music.  I like them all.  Every one.  Do you know Cowboys Copas?  And Floyd Tillman?  And Ernest Tubb? and Ferlin Husky?  And Rex Allen? And Montana Slim?  They’re all Western singers.  Do you know them?’

     ‘Oh yes.  I do.’  Dewey replied.

     ‘How do you?  You don’t talk like us; you talk real Yankee like.’

     ‘Uh, I am from Michigan which is why I talk Yankee but some of my family were hillbillies from Kentucky and I’ve listened to hillbilly music all my life.’

     ‘You mean Country music, don’t you?’  Darlin’ had already been taught to be ashamed of her origins.  The term Hillbilly came across to her like ‘nigger’ would to a Black.  In fact Hillbilly was used by the Aristocracy in exactly the same derogatory sense as nigger but acceptable to them because Hillbillies were White hence they could be defamed at will.  There was no Hillbilly Anti-defamation League.

    ‘No, Dixie Darlin’, I mean hillbilly as in the Carter Family, Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff.  I mean Hillbilly as in American music expressing American ideals and not this smarmy immigrant Tin Pan Alley garbage.  I have my Hillbilly roots and I’m not ashamed of them, nor should you be.’

page 1791.

     ‘Well, we get treated real bad because we’re from the mountains both in Mobile and Chicago.  Why’s that?  We didn’t do nothin’ to nobody no time.”

     ‘That is no reflection on yourselves; merely the ranting of narrow, bigoted persons who are beneath your dignity to recognize although you still have to deal with them.  Just stand up for your rights and turn their own evil back on them.  They are low, not you.

     Just a second Darlin’, you said you like both kinds of music.  Do you mean Tin Pan Alley and Hillbilly or what?’

     ‘No.  I mean both Country and Western.  I will not use the word Hillbilly and I would appreciate it if you didn’t too.’

     ‘No.  That’s all right Darlin;.’  Black Jack David said.  ‘I think he’s one of us.’

     Dewey had never considered Country and Western as separate but he now stood corrected.  The corpus of these singers formed a large part of the ephemeara of Dewey’s intellect.  Ephemera are the most important part of one’s identity.  Songs, movies, radio shows, ads, newspapers and magazine articles that are forgotten by history almost as soon as they are voiced but are carried in the memories of individutals throughout their lives is the stuff of the personality.

     With the exception of Ferlin Husky one of the Bakersfield hillbillies and not a Western singer who was contemporary, the rest of her list of favorites were all of the late forties and early fifties and now all but forgotten.

page 1792.

     As ephemeral as they were to society at large they formed a great deal of Dewey’s outlook on the world.  He knew dozens of songs by them.

     ‘I really liked ‘Signed Sealed And Delivered’ by Hawkshaw Hawkins.’  He said knowingly, meaning to impress Darlin’ with his encyclopedic knowledge.

     ‘That was by Cowboy Copas.’  She corrected.  ‘You can’t fool me.  I know just about everything there is to know about music.’

     Dewey nearly took her correction as a reproof since he was rather vain about his knowledge of music.  Instead he chose to deflect the conversation.

     ‘Well, all those are good but really old.  Do you like anybody new like Elvis Presley?’

     ‘I liked Elvis when he was a hill…Country singer.  After he went mainstream he changed and this Army Elvis is something else again.’

    ‘Yeah, but Elvis is a hero.  Before Elvis there was nothing and now there’s a chance for everyone.  You know how they say that Elvis sings like a Black guy?  Does he sound that way to you?  I don’t get it.’

     ‘Me and Belle saw Elvis at the fairgrounds in 1955 before ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ came out.  I didn’t think there was anything Black about him at all.  Wouldn’t have liked him if there was.  Sounded a lot like Bill Monroe to me.’

     What in musicology are known as the Sun Years was the decisive period in post 1950 music.  Sun was a record label formed by a man named Sam Phillips.  Originally Phillips scouted out Black singers and either sold the masters or issued the songs on Sun Records.  The Black artists were a small and not very lucrative market in the early fifties.  Phillips is reported to have always said that if he could find a White man who could sing Black he would make a million dollars.

     Presley according to Phillips was the genuine article.  He sold his contract to RCA for $37,000.’

     Society with its guilt complex about Negroes has accepted the judgment that Presley sang like a Black man without question or reservation.  I, as the author, was a teenage bronkin’ buck in 1954, ’55 and ’56 and to this day I cannot fathom what Phillips might have meant.

     Black men sang in a variety of styles none of which Presley sounded like.  Black styles ranged from Billy Daniels, the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, James Brown, Hank Ballard and Little Richard to name only a few.  Presley’s style bore no resemblance to any of those.  In fact any White man copying them would have sounded so ludicrous he would have been laughed off the stage.

     Phillips himself discarded his Black stable as soon as Presley attracted a stable of White hillbilly artists.  None of Phillips White artists sounded remotely Black from Elvis to Johnny Cash to Roy Orbison.  They were all hillbillies and the music they created was immediately known as Rockabilly which to my mind says all.  The same people that hated Hillbilly hated Rockabilly as well.

     Actually Darlin’ was correct.  The early Presley Sun recordings all sound like jumped up Bluegrass a la Bill Monroe.  The flip side of Elvis’ first ’45 was even Monroe’s Blue Moon Of Kentucky which begins in the traditional style that Presley interrupts with the statement:  ‘Hold it man, that don’t move me.’  Then they jump it and do the song Rockabilly fashion.

page 1794.

     Nor did Phillips’ Sun label have much impact in the ’50s.  The affection for the music and style is a latter day romantic movement.  At the time I was the only person I knew who had the records and one of the very few who had heard of them.

     I had no affinity for Black music.  I probably would have rejected Elvis if he had sounded Black.  The record store used to order Sun releases for me.  If a release was by a Black artist I gave it back; if Rockabilly I bought it.

     It was not that I was prejudiced against Blacks but their music didn’t ‘move me’ and that includes that sacred cow ‘gospel music.’  The stuff was far too ethnic  to appeal to White ears.  Only in the late ’50s when the Black edge was taken off Negro singers could Whites tolerate the stuff- except for Little Richard and Fats Domino of course.

     Whatever you may think of Berry Gordy he and his Motown label really put the Black singer into White ears.

     The basis of Phillips’ statement remains a mystery to me.  Like most Americans he probably deluded himself that he respected Black culture while he actually rejected it.

     Black Jack David whose real name was Derek had been intrigued with Dewey’s identification of himself with Hillbillies.  He relaxed a little and began to converse with Dewey person to person instead of across a great divide.

page 1795.

     ‘They sure make it hard on us in Chicago though.  Almost as bad as in Mobile but different.  They laugh at us for our music which is real American but they claim to really like Negro music which just sounds noisy and illiterate to me.  You have to be dumb to sing the blues.  Like the Carter’s say:  Stay on the sunny side of the street.’

     Dewey was still ignorant about the Blues and didn’t know a lot about the sunny side of the street either.  He had heard a fair amount but he couldn’t identiy the structure of the Blues.  The stuff just dounded like a lot of repetitious moaning to him.

     It was a phenomenon that White Folk in general professed a high regard for Black music, although they didn’t buy much of it, while they shunned Southern White Music like the plague.

     White Southern singers were basic folks without a lot superfluous education but there was still a higher level of musicianship than with Blacks while their lyrics were, how shall we say, less earthy than those of the Blacks.  No White person would have been allowed to write much less sing a song in mixed company called ‘Drop Down Mama.’  Yet White people would listen to a Black man sing the sexually explicit lyrics and ooh an aah at the sensual freedom of Black Folk.

     Well, you know, what was a wide awake guy to do but shake his head and wonder.

     Just as Sun was establishing Rockabilly music out of Memphis by the early  and mid-fifties the corpus of songs and the stable of Blues performers that would carry through the century had already been defined and recorded by Marshall Chess of Chess/Checker records in Chicago.  The most influential of the early rock n’ rollers, Chuck Berry, also came from Chess.  Marshall Chess seemed to know a lot more about Black music than Sam Phillips.

page 1796.

     Elvis Presley kind of steamrollered Chuck Berry when he broke with Heartbreak Hotel but Berry established the archetype of Rock n’ Roll music in ’55 with his hit Maybelline.

     Thus by the late fifties both streams of migration from the South were entrenched in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and points North.

     Black Jack and Dixie Belle had met and married in Mobile leaving for Chicago for the first time shortly thereafter.  They migrated for the same reason their Black counterparts did.  Not considered ‘niggers’ they were deemed ‘Poor White Trash.’

     Black Jack didn’t want to remain poor, he didn’t object to being called White but he definitely hated the trash part.  He was no fool.  He could see at a glance that he was as good or better than the so-called Urban or Southern Aristocracies but he also realized that he would never be able to escape the stigma of Poor White Trash.  Skin color isn’t the only stigma.

     He couldn’t go back to the hills so the only escape was North.  Blackjack, Dixie Belle and Dixie Darlin’ followed the drinkin’ gourd ending up on the South Side of Chicago across the street from the Black South Side.

     The change was momentous; as much a cultural shock as that of Country Blacks seeing the big city for the first time.  The Hillbillies ‘pure’ English ways clashed with the smarmy hybrid immigrant culture that had developed in Chicago.  They were almost as obvious as the Black Folk.

page 1797.

     A comparable situation would be the invasion of Los Angleles by the Arkies and Okies of the 30s.

     Twenty years after, a term of opprobrium in LA was to call someone an Okie even as his culture was transforming LA.  Fifty years later a Mafioso bigot by the name of Quentin Tarentino would portray the type negatively in his movie ‘Pulp Fiction.’  Actually he made fun of Anglo-Saxons in all his movies.

     Still, the only reason that LA had a Country music scene is because there were so many Okies in the Basin; there and in the Bakersfield/Fresno area.  The Okies still stuck out in LA like Blacks and were treated the same or worse.

     Black Jack David, then still know as Derek, felt himself in a desperate situation.  He knew his own worth.  He was sure of his value as a human being; he wasn’t about to stay and be treated like a dirty dog.  Everywhere he turned he was derided.  He had little formal education.  His manners, while not worse than, were not the manners of immigrant Chicago.

     He was laughed at and derided as though he had been a Negro.  Not naturally offended by Blackness he nevertheless developed a resentment towards them or, rather, passed the resentment he felt at his treatment to them.  The Blacks considered him as though emigrants from Tobacco Road feeling free to despise him.

     Needing to escape the Chicago environment from time to time he made frequent trips to Mobile.  As a mirror decoration instead of a pair of fuzzy dice or a garter he had an upside down cross.

     ‘Uh, I notice your cross is upside down.’  Dewey stated.  ‘Why? did you get it cheaper because they put the hole in wrong end?’

     The Dixie Belle turned in her seat to smile at Dewey:  ‘My husband is a fully ordained minister in the Church of the Second Coming of The Golden Dawn.’

     There was a mouthful of religion.  It shut Dewey up.  He turned to look out the window at the racing landscape.

This Land Is Your Land

     They were moving rapidly into the grip of the Northern cold front.  The softer features of the barren prairie landscape were being turned into cold hard features by the frost.  What should have been land promising of the rebirth of vernal pleasures looked merely like an industrial resource waiting once again to be exploited.

     Americans had no love of their environment; even on a scientific level ecology had no meaning for them.  They had always come to rape the land converting it into a dollar value that could either be taken back to Europe or, if necessary, lavished on a home establishment.

     Initially the ability to rape had been severely inhibited by the limits of ‘human resources.’  The phrase is another attempt to substitute money for people.  But as technology improved in the nineteenth century the ability to rip the land asunder to ‘develop’ the country increased.  Alfred Nobel, the man in whose honor all those grandiose prizes are awarded, provided the penultimate means of maiming the environment when he invented TNT or dynamite as it is otherwise known.

page 1799.

     This enabled man to blast into the solid rock at Cripple Creek in pursuit of a handful of yellow dust or open the rich coal seams across this continent of ‘unlimited’ resources.

     Nobel might justly be characterized as a demon but the devil arrived in the disguise of a man called LeTourneau.

     Like so many monsters LeTourneau was a smallish man given to a certain amount of flab but the man’s imagination was of gigantic diabolical proportions.

     Small  himself his diseased imagination caused him to create earth moving machines of what might be called indescribable dimensions if they hadn’t been hatched on a drawing board.  Still the behemoths stagger the mind.

     Rather than tunnel into the earth, a concept known as ‘strip mining’ was devised and employed a few miles away in the coal fields of Southern Illinois.  Huge shovels bigger than the biggest building of ninety percent of American towns with a shovel capacity of 100-150 tons were built.  Le Tourneau chipped in his two tons worth by building gigantic trucks capable of transporting a shovelful.  Then raised their load capacity to two hundred and three hundred tons.  Three hundred and sixty ton trucks are said to be on the horizon.

page 1800.

     Thus the ‘overburden’ could be scooped off and dumped somewhere else.  The ‘money’ hidden beneath the earth could easily be gotten.  The ‘resource’ could be consumed in a trice.  Having gotten the money out the operators left a huge gaping scar on the landscape on one hand and vast mounds of debris on the other.  The money had been gotten, the land was now worthless.

     There was no thought of even attempting to repair the damage.  There was no concern for the beauty of the landscape or the quality of life for the remaining ‘human resource.’

     As bad as that was let us follow Mr. LeTourneau’s creation to the twenty-first century.  By this time his trucks are bigger than most houses being twenty-seven feet wide and twice and long.  the trucks themselves are three stories tall while appearing as toys beside the monster shovels.

     Now, there was still a lot of coal in the Appalachian seams but the operators said it couldn’t be economically ‘recovered’ by conventional methods.  As always the environment meant nothing, or less than nothing, to Americans.  This means you and not just a class of evil exploiters.  You would have done the same.

     Combining the contributions to human happiness of both Nobel and LeTourneau the operators came up with a simple solution.  They merely planted enough dynamite to blow the mountain tops off several miles at a time.  As they had to have someplace to dump the ‘overburden’ they moved the ‘human resources’, the descendants of the Hatfields and McCoys , out of their ancient homes in the valleys or hollers or bottoms, and using Mr. LeTourneau’s magnificent machines they dumped the mountain tops down into the valleys.  And they did this with their eyes wide open.

page 1801.

     The child is father to the man.  The mines of Illinois were a concept in embryo which Dewey recognized but his mind could not conceive the horrible denouement which insanity would perpetrate.

     The premonition apparent in his mind he heaved a sigh turning back to Dixie Belle and her pride in her husband who was a fully ordained minister in the Church Of The Second Coming Of The Golden Dawn.

Black Jack David In Chicago

     ‘When was the First Coming Of The Golden Dawn?’  Dewey asked.

     ‘You’ve never heard of Aleister Crowley?’  Belle asked.

     ‘No.’  Dewey said flatly.

     ‘Well, my husband knows all about him.’  Belle said.  ‘This is my  man, Black Jack David.’  She added superfluously but with infinite pride.

     Dewey had never heard of Aleister Crowley.  Since neither David nor Dixie Belle was going to mention him again contrary to Dewey’s expectations suffice it to say that he was a psychotic drug addicted sex therapist cum magician of a Theosophic stamp although the Theosophists rejected him.

     In the last quarter of the nineteenth century a guy named MacGregor Mathers started a group called the Golden Dawn in England.  The Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, who wrote a poem called ‘The Second Coming’, was its most famous member.  We may presume that Black Jack combined the poem with the sect to come up with his own variation.  Obviously he fully ordained himself.

page 1802.

     Crowley became a member of the original Golden Dawn and managed to steal their Arcana thereby appropriating the sect to himself.  The original followers went their separate ways.  Crowley turned the sect into a sex and drug cult whose motto, like that of the Abbey of Thelema was:  Do What Thou Wilt.

     Crowley and the sect underwent vicissitudes.  Crowley died in 1947.  The sect ended up, as things of this nature will, in LA.  In fact, their publishing house was located in Barstow.  The house Dewey had been taken to in Pasadena, in the story he related to the Darrels, had actually been a coven of the Golden Dawn.

     Black Jack David was unaffiliated with any other known group.  He and the Dixies were the entire congregation of the Second Coming Of The Golden Dawn.  Black Jack David like Napoleon had ordained himself.  They did have a couple of almost converts in Chicago.  Always a believer in omens Black Jack had immediately recognized Dewey as the lieutenant he needed, miraculously provided by God.

     Black Jack’s program didn’t make much sense.  It was a crude amalgam of Protestant Christianity, the Golden Dawn and general Rosicrucian Theosophy.  Black Jack had picked up most of it on the streets but he had done some desultory unsystematic reading.  The principal incredient of his system was the ‘magick’ Black Jack thought he needed to save his life.  He too was looking for a miracle.

page 1803.

     As all these things are, the Second Coming was merely a projection of the psychological  needs of Derek Drainsfield.  He felt completely rejected and scorned.  He sought salvation.  More than that he had what it took to create it.

     ‘Why is the cross upside down?’  David asked rhetorically finally getting around to Dewey’s question.  He eyed Dewey anxiously as he wanted to make a good impression on the disciple the Lord had provided.  ‘Well, I’ll tell you.’

     ‘Uh huh.’  Dewey said with weary expectancy.

     ‘Justice and decency are overturned in this world.  The Christ has been displaced in this orb of despair by evil, vile and materialististic men.  That cross will remain upside down until those men are defeated and the Rose of Sharon is restored to its rightful place.’

     Dewey was suitably impressed.  The explanation was better than he had expected.  ‘What kind of magic do you have to do that?’  He asked facetiously.

     ‘The right kind.’  Black Jack triumphed.  ‘Did your magick have a K at the end?’

     ‘What magic?’

     ‘That magick.’

     Dewey paused for a moment to seek Black Jack’s direction.

     ‘I spell it M A G I C.’

     ‘Aha.  The wrong kind of magick.  Add a K to that and you’ve got the right kind of magick.’

page 1804.

     Dewey was baffled.  Black Jack was retailing Crowley’s self-help system contained in a book called: ‘Magick: Theory and Practice’ or, in other words, how to become what you would like to be as an act of will.  Magic is important to Christian and Theosophic systems but is discredited by materialist and scientific approaches.  Hence Crowley put a K at the end of magic in the hopes of making the notion credible.

     ‘Oh.  the only kind of magic I know of that will achieve what you want is the A-Bomb and then only because it wipes everyone, evil or not.’

     ‘How did you know about that?’  Black Jack asked startled as though Dewey had divined the secret.

     ‘How do I know about the A-Bomb?’  Dewey asked equally incredulously.

     ‘Yes.  It’s in Chicago you know.’

     ‘I know the atomic pile was in Chicago but how is the A-Bomb in Chicago?’

     ‘The missing one.’  Black Jack pressed on assuming Dewey knew what he was talking about.  ‘It’s somewhere in the nigger district on the South Side.’

     ‘What missing one?’

     ‘The one that disappeared from the stockpile a few years ago.  It’s in Chicago, I know.’

     ‘An A-Bomb disappeared?  How’s that?’

     ‘A patriot named James Burnham published a book in 1954 called ‘The Web Of Subversion’ in which he says that an A-Bomb has been stolen from the stockpile.  He thinks that it’s in private hands somewhere in America.  I’ve got it figured out where.’

     ‘There’s a missing A-Bomb?  Why do you think it’s on the Black South Side?’

     ‘Where else would it be?  Chicago’s the center of the country.’

     Dewey was stopped.

     ‘Well, OK, but why in Darktown?’

     ‘Well, come on.  Where’s the last place in Chicago you would look for it?’

     ‘Uh. I’m not too familiar with Chicago.’

     ‘Well, that’s it.  It’s in the basement of some building right in the heart of Niggerville.’

     ‘In that case you can be sure I’m not going to look for it.’  Dewey said laughing.

     ‘Black Jack’s not afraid.  He goes in there lots.’  Belle reproved.

     ‘Why not?  We’ll need it.’  Black Jack said excitedly thinking that he’d already recruited Dewey.

     ‘Need it for what?’

     ‘I thought you understood.  It’s the magick we need to turn the cross around.  You said it.  First we get the bomb and then we send a note to the President and the Mayor and the Chief of Police telling them that we are holding Chicago as hostage.  Unless all our ransom is met we’ll destroy Chicago.’

     ‘What’s the ransom?’  Dewey asked curiously.

page 1806.

     ‘We want all the malefactors of great wealth and men of evil disposition delivered unto us.  Then we’ll execute them and save the world.  Then the cross will be upright again.’

     Dewey saw that he was in the presence of the ultimate do-gooder.  Was it the boldness of the plan or the absurdity of the premiss that took his breath away?

      ‘Personally I hope the bomb goes off and kills everyone of those of those niggers.’  Suddenly burst from Darlin’ who had been playing quietly with her deck of  ‘funny looking’  Tarot cards.

     ‘I swear I’m going to carry a gun and the next nigger that lays a hand on me is going to get his head blowed off.’

     ‘Amen.’  Dixie Belle intoned.

     ‘Something’s got to be done about that too.’  Added Black Jack David.  ‘Don’t you think so.’  He aggressively asked Dewey.

     Dewey didn’t know what to reply.  The great sweep of Black rebellion was moving across America.  Freedom Riders were active in the South.  Pent up hatreds were erupting in the North and West.  In less than ten years cities from California to New Jersey would go up in flames as Blacks revolted against their situation.  Americans minimized the destruction because it happened here but the hundreds of square miles that were burnt over was topped only by the destruction in bombed over German of World War II.

     True the Blacks fired their own neighborhoods but Dewey would be able to understand that.  After all, if you can’t get away from what is hateful to you it has to be destroyed.  As Dewey knew in his case; to heal oneself psychologically the old self has to be destroyed in order to replace it with the new.  Black frustration, the revolt of the dogs in their kennel, the desire to bit their leash in two, was comprehensible to Dewey.

page 1807.

     The period was one of great transition for Black people as well as America.  If the history of the Blacks can be divided into three periods:  The Slavery Period, the Jim Crow Period and the Self-Awareness Period, then the Blacks were transiting from the Jim Crow Period to that of Self-Awareness.  the transition was fraught with great danger.

     The musical transition was from Rhythm and Blues to Soul music.  (Do you like soul music? No?  Well, then do the Trouser Press, baby.)  In progressing from R&B to Soul music the Blacks acted out the central problem of their existence.  They had a hole in their soul.  Not a criticism, not their fault, just a fact; they had and have a damaged psyche.  It’s bad too.  We always complain about what hurts us the most.  Furthermore the hole can be accurately identified and described.

     The man who put his finger on it was the old vaudevillian by the name of Bert Williams.  Bert performed in the years around the beginning of the twentieth century.  Thus he was the legatee of the Reconstruction Era.  History may be abstract but those who suffer through it have to deal with painful psychological realities.  Life may be a cosmic joke but it is not funny to be the butt of it.

     Bert Williams was a very perceptive guy and an excellent poet in the popular style.  He embodied the Black dilemma in a Coon Tune that is still sung today titled ‘Nobody.’  I will reproduce the lyrics in full in a moment but first let’s discuss the evolution of the Black pysche as evidenced in its musical stages.

page 1808.

     One of the most wonderful descriptions of the development in American of William’s period is the Irishman Mark Sullivan’s truly magnificent six volume social history titled ‘Our Times.’

     Sullivan was an especially acute observer of musical trends.  He says more about Black culture and history in a few pages than most authors get into multi-volumes.  As well as being concise he is perceptive and accurate.

     He was quick to understand that a change in a people’s music represents a change in their psychical attitude; something that Goldwater reactionaries should have picked up on in relation to their White offspring.  Thus one can accturately trace the psychological history of America, also know as the Land of the Thousand Dances, by understanding its popular music.  If you follow the bouncing ball  and don’t get hung up on your preconceptions you won’t have any trouble.

     thus as Black music developed after emancipation a first phase was the era of Darky Songs when Blacks were fresh from the Plantation.  That’s what the White Stephen Foster built his reputation on.  This was followed by the era of Coon Tunes.  There is a different psychology in each.  The permutations of Ragtime and Jazz came through the twenties and thirties followed back out into the Urban Blues, Doo-Wop and the Rhythm and Blues of the forties and fifties.  R&B merged into Sould and Soul disappeared into Rap.  Each musical expression represents a distinct psychological reaction.  Blacks substituted the term Soul for Psyche.

page 1809.

 

 

    

    

    

 

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 Short Story

Who’s Fooling Who?

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     So, about the time I hit graduate school at the UofO the faculty is becoming excerised about drug use.  For some reason, perhaps because my hair is a little long and I wear love beads they fix on me as a prime drug user.

    Nothing can be more ridiculous as any sharp eyed judge of character can easily see, as I never use drugs, in point of fact being of the opinion that America is a drugged out nation.  You see, I can’t figure out where these guys come from.  I mean, you sit in class looking at these guys ant they are flashing green tongues at you, purple tongues, pink tongues and what have you.

     Now, in 1966 we’re still pretty innocent about drugs, not meaning absolutely clean, but you don’t have to be an addict to know barbituate traces.  Half these guys have got spittle between their lips that stretches with the opening of the mouth but never snaps.  Drives you crazy.

     Of course, these people do not think they do drugs because they have a prescription from a doctor while drug abusers get theirs on the street.  That makes the street types dopers  while they take ‘medicine’ to help them get through their very trying days.  It’s the stress of living, you know.

    One can’t talk to them about it either.  I try on more than one occasion to tell them that America is a drug dependent nation.  I mean, Americans believe in their drugs.  You get a little nutty and they drug you to death.  Pills are the only reality they can respect.  You givethem a sugar pill and their mental outlook improves so long as you don’t disabuse them.

     When Tuli Kupferberg says that America is insane; he knows what he talks about.  For extra bucks I serve as a guinea pig over in the Psychology Department.  If these people are not in outer space they are winging through the upper reaches of the ozone layer asking is there land down there.  They have access to everything.  Sometimes it seems like I talk to aliens from a transverse universe.  That’s like a parallel universe except cross ways; makes it harder to jump back and forth.

     Professor Laybont, an MD, psychiatrist, who runs the department is in open rebellion against Depth Psychology.  He is a firm believer in chemical imbalances as the cause of psychological disorders.  He rejects the notion of psycho-analysis.  He does not tolerate any difference of opinion either.  It’s like he takes so many drugs that he is in a perpetual rage, like his subconscious is a red spot in the middle of his forehead.  His movements and gestures are always violent.  He doesn’t walk he lurches.

     For some reason he chooses to believe that psychic trauma have nothing to do with mental disorders; he believes that it is the cause of  ‘chemical imbalances.’  I am not in the department so I can be a little freer in my comments.  I always am of the opinion that if chemical imbalances do exist then cause is the psychic effect of the orginal trauma.

     Maybe I am not clear as may be but I try to explain to him that first you have the trauma, the insult to the Animus or Ego, then you have the psychotic reaction.  In order for the  mind to create the affect in response to the trauma it is necessary for the mind to suppress the secretion of certain chemicals if in fact there are chemical imbalances.

     Laybont fairly shouts at me gesturing in that violent way of his with his fist as though he poinds spikes through railway ties at one blow that it is not true because when you give patients drugs that restore the chemical balance the affects go away restoring the patient to normality.

     I try to explain that the chemical drugs merely temporarily bridge the chemical deficiency but the patient is not returned to normal, that the effect is only a disguise, the mental trauma remains unaffected.  When the drugss wear off the affect returns.

     I mention Freud which he reads as Depth Psychology , this sets off his pile driving gestures again but I try to get through, as I am one patient guy, that if you exorcise the fixation that causes the affect that the chemical imbalance restores itself immediately and the affect disappears.  I try to tell him that the chemical imbalance is a symptom not a cause.

     ‘Shut up!’  He thunders.  He makes gestures to hammer me into the ground.  ‘You are not even in this department.  What can you possibly know?  We do not want you around here anymore, you are no longer a subject.  All your data is unreliable anyway.’

     I lose some easy money as well as my respect for Laybont.

     Boy, it does not pay to be an independent investigator anywhere at the UofO.  Probably Laybont is  laying for me because we have a major disagreement on the cause of homosexuality.  For a guy who rejects Depth Psychology he has this silly notion that homosexuality is caused by the inherent bisexuality of the human.  Naturally he thinks there are chemical imbalances which tend to either maleness or femaleness.  Not male or female but -ness.

     I try not to laugh, I put on my serious face, I try to tell him that homosexuality is a psychotic reaction to emasculation.  Either a boy is molested as a child and reacts by becoming homosexual or that in a major confrontation with another male is defeated so that if one cannot compete as a male one tries to be attractive to males an an effeminate male.

     He shouts violently at me that no that was the bisexual femaleness predominant.  He says it is proven by the fact that when males are surgical emasculates and have chemical female hormone drugs they are actual women.

     My serious face gives way at this inane remark because as I say to him genetics are against this idea.  I argue that a woman is a woman because she has two X chromosomes while a man is a man because he has an X and a y.  No amount of surgery or drugs can possibly alter this fact.

    He looks me square in the eyes and says:  ‘What about Christine Jorgenson?’ 

    ‘Well, what about Christine Jorgenson?’  is the only reply I can make.

     ‘I’ve had the pleasure of making her acquaintance.’  He says with a grotesque wink.  ‘I can tell you she’s all woman.’

     I am not going to tell Laybont that if he makes it with a surgically altered male then I think he is queer but a little later something interesting happens.  This is abou the time I end my academic career sometime in April, May of 1968.

     Things change dramatically the next year when homosexuals come out after the Stonewall Riot but still in 1968 only the most psychically damaged openly demonstrate this state of being.  Even the Doctrine Of Diversity is not well defined at this time; The Doctrine Of State Of Being has not yet even been defined.  So-called transsexuality is burgeoning nonetheless.  The legacy of Christine Jorgenson is growing at an exponential rate.

     A couple of years earlier a pair of Mexican homos undergo that cruel cut together.  They are significant others before who decide to undergo emasculation together so they can find greater opportunites as a pair in their manhunt.  They like to do it at the same time with different men.

     These guys call themselves transsexuals, I suppose as a euphemism, because they do not trans  anything.  Women genetically have two X chromosomes while men have an X and a y.  The only way one can trans the sexes is if doctors can surgically remove your y chromosome  to replace it with an X from a female donor who may be in need of a y.  Even then that would have to be a spermatic X.

     The X in a male is the passive ovate X of the mother so if you take an ovate X from the female donor giving a male two passive ovate Xs you have outdone Mary Shelley in creating a monster.

     Imagine the monsters you create.  Suppose you remove the ovate X from a male to replace it with another y then bound them together with female hormones.  Wow, huh?  Imagine if you put two y chromosmes in a female bound together with female hormones.  It would be to watch the wolfman metamorphose from a human to a wolf.   You can film the whole thing and have a non-pareil porn flick.  The transformation is terrifically entertaining.  You can give the Thing say, twenty or twenty-five thousand dollars as compensation for undergoing the operation and film it then put It on exhibit at twenty dollars a pop and make a fortune.  Where are those sexual entrepreneurs when you need them.

     But back to reality, such as it is.  When you surgically mutilate a male removing this and those, replacing them with a tuck and fold job that will make an automobile upholsterer green with envy you merely have a male with a tuck and fold job.  It’s sort of like putting a Chevy body on a Ford Chassis.  You still have a car but neither one nor the other.  When Laybont says that Christine Jorgenson was all woman that says more to me about his masculinity than Chrises femininity.

     So, these two Mexican converts show up at the UofO in the Spring of ’68.  There use no deceit in obtaining their employment.  They are quite proud of their emasculation.  They do insist that the UofO hire them as, not a pair, but a unit.  Rhymes with eunuch, I think.

     The absurdity that ‘pals’ go job hunting as a unit aside, a concession is made for their ‘State of Being.’  Now hirees they also allow these guys to determine the terms of their employment.

     They are maintenance ‘its.’  They insist, get this, that they clean the men’s toilet, pisser, shitter, whatever you want to call it.  The incongruity of women that clean the men’s toilet is indicated, they counter that as former men they are used to being in the men’s head.  So these ‘women’ go to work to clean the men’s toilets.

     You can take the homo out of the toilet but you can’t take the toilet out of the homo.

     As I understand it they work all over campus but where I learn about it is at the library on the second floor.  I do not participate myself, there are limits to my sexual liberation.  Besides, the mystifying thing to me is the homosexual preference for the toilet.  It’s not really mystifying, after all that’s where the boys are, all those swell masculine aromas of urine and feces.  Umm, adds a piquancy to sex.

     In the seventies after Stonewall when the insanity is growing like a fungus Homos take over public restrooms to make them hazardous if not dangerous places but pre-Stonewall some discretion is obligatory.

     These two guys set up shop in the library toilet.  Things do not so much as get clean as smeared around so that those deligtful aromas assault the olfactory sense with equal intensity from every part of the toilet.

     Now, the question is if you avail yourself of the services of these two guys do you get it from a man or a woman.  I mean these guys make any orifice available plus a couple of their own invention.

     These guys, in this land of unparalleled opportunity as we see demonstrated here and there, create an ideal situation for themselves.  More than ideal, they do not even try for female impersonation.  A lot of these guys work really hard to impersonate women; these guys just clump along like a couple of navvies while they make no effort at a female tone or inflection.  Where is the illusion of femininity; it is like a male with a plastic box between his legs.

     As I am about to have my academic option lapse news of this paradise is officially kept from me but, you know, all you need is a pair of eyes.

     So there I am up in the library watching  a steady stream of my fellow graduate students and professors bound for the toilet door with that eager look and bound of a man who gets his ashes hauled.

     While my fellow academics are denying me the pleasures of the toilet, as they think, I have a good laugh at their expense.  Who was fooling who?

     You know, Tuli Kupferberg was right.  The inmates are taking over the asylum

Finis

 

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 Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Part VII

by

R.E. Prindle

The Heart Of The Matter:

Back In The USSA

 

My dear fellow, said Sherlock Holmes, as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.  We would not dare to concieve the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence.  If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, and see in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions, most stale and unprofitable.

And yet I am not convinced of it. (Watson) answered.

-A. Conan Doyle

 

     Dewey arrived on the fo’c’sle as the ship was passing Lindhberg Field.  Joining the others he stood at parade rest as the ship turned up bay to the Naval Station where the Dependents gathered on the pier in the homecoming ritual that is such a vital part of Navy life.

page 1279.

     Mrs. Irene Pardon was there quietly talking to Inez Dieter.  A passel of others strung out along the length of the pierside either unwilling or afraid to make the acquaintance of the others.  Quite apart and aloof standing in the imperial majesty of convinced Communists were James and Elizabeth Kanary there to welcome back their precious son.

     Standing back in the shadows was the form of Yehouda Yisraeli, Our Lady Of The Blues, not to greet Dewey Trueman, but to feast his eyes on the man he hoped to make his victim.

     The Wild Bunch had lost their last best chance, if they had had one, of killing Trueman during the abandoned Honolulu layover.  Their last chance had been the previous evening.  The spell of the tropics had been broken.  As Dewey ambled up he was greeted by guilty, embarrassed glances.  He had no idea how to interpret them as he was unaware of what was going on and who was involved.

     If he thought about it he saw it merely as a contest that he had won.  As usual there was so much happening tha there was little time to think about it.  The pageantry of the homecoming immediately absorbed his interest.

     Irene Pardon gave a dutiful wave to Blaise.  The early arrival had upset some of her plans.  As Dewey looked at the woman he thought to himself that Blaise’s dream of tramping the world was a fantasy.  This woman was not going to spend her life on tramp steamers.  Mabye as a tramp in bars but not on a tramp steamer.

page 1280.

     She was dressed in a brown suit, nicely tailored for a woman of her social status; her makeup was elaborate and good.  Her hair was arranged in braids wrapped around her head which women seeking to project respectability so often employ.  Dewey was quite right in thinking that fidelity to her man was not uppermost in her mind.  Her meal ticket had come home.

     Inez Dieter was even coarser.  As the prow edged in toward the dock she ran alongside yelling up to Dieter:  ‘Angus, Angus.  How come you’re back early?’

     ‘I’ll tell you later.  Later.’ Dieter said visibly embarrassed by his wife’s gaucheness.

      Indeed all the Dependents had had to quickly change their plans when they learned the Teufelsdreck would return three weeks ahead of schedule.  Perhaps the turnout might have been larger if the ship had returned on schedule.  No Black dependents showed up.

     There was one Dependent who stood out from all the rest.  She was most conspicuous in her oriental finery.  She was very eager to please her occidental husband.  As Dewey eyed her he was almost ready to fall in love himself.  She was the epitome of the song ‘My China Doll’ except that she was Japanese.

     She wore a gorgeous gold brocade kimono with an intricate design that her fellow prostitutes in Yokosuka had presented her as a wedding present with a wonderful obi encircling her tiny waist.  Her makeup was immaculate as was her hairdo done up in the traditional bun with the chop sticks sticking out all over.  Everyone had forgotten her up till then.

page 1281.

     Including her husband Lane Vincent.

     He, as well as most of Operations, was standing on the boat deck drinking in the excitement when Lane spotted this very beautiful apparition awaiting him on the dock with an overflowing heart of love for her man who had brought her eight thousand miles to be his bride.  Poor, poor lovely thing.

     ‘Hey, look there’s a Japanese girl on the dock.  A real knockout too.’

     ‘Yeah.’  Mike Deasy said with some bitterness, for he understood Lane Vincent quite well.  ‘That’s your wife.’

     Lane had forgotten.  It had been so long ago, so far away.  For him his marriage had just been a fantasy of the moment.  He hadn’t even thought of it as real, certainly not as real as the clap he had picked up in Hong Kong.  The memory had faded with every mile that separated him from his bride.  Now, as he looked at this quite gorgeous creature, he realized that she was one of those little yellow Japanese people.  He realized that his White friends would have nothing to do with her.  He was horrified at what he had done and shamed by the reality.

     The Captain was on the bridge guiding the little subkiller to its mooring.  Lane could not be responsible for his conduct;  someone else must be.

     Beginning to shake uncontrollably he rushed up the ladder to the bridge.  Maddened and hysterical he screamed at the top of his lungs so that his voice carried over the ship from stem to stern as well as out on the dock:  ‘Why did you let me do it?’

     Lane had truly lost control.  The bridge was crowded with every officer aboard ship as well as the watch.

     Captain Ratches, who had tolerated more than any man should, looked at Vincent in disbelief.

     ‘What are you talking about, Sailor?  What did I let you do?’

     ‘Control yourself, Vincent.’  Morford sternly admonished.

     Vincent couldn’t hear him.

     ‘Look at that, you bastard.’  He screamed pointing to his lovely bride on the dock.  ‘You let me marry her against regulations.’

     Still taken back, Ratches tried to defend himself:  ‘I didn’t let you marry her, Sailor, you demanded the right as a free born American man.  Remember?

      ‘Don’t give me any of that horseshit, buddy.  Navy regulations required you to dissuade me from marrying a Japanese p-p-prostitute.  that’s all she is you know.  You didn’t do your duty, you son-of-a-bitch.’  And then, and this is incredible beyond belief, Vincent punched a Captain in the United States navy as he stood on the bridge of his own ship doing his duty.

     The reaction was instantaneous.  Morford seized Vincent by the neck casting him to the deck while the other officers took up positions in front of the Captain.  Out of his mind with grief at his actions Vincent had no idea or even knowledge of what he had done but his concentration was broken as he hit the deck.

     Leaping to his feet he slid down the ladder to the boat deck nearly leaping from there to the main deck.  He vaulted over the lines clearing the three feet from the ship to the deck.

page 1283.

     Racing up to his poor wife, who mistakenly thought he was very eager to see her, he stood in a half crouch screaming into her face:  ‘Get away from me you filthy whore.  You goddam prostitute.  Go back to where you came from but get out of my life.’

     May such a thing never happen to a poor innocent thing again.  The poor woman backed away from the onslaught still clutching her bouquet of flowers as her dream was blasted to smithereens just like Hiroshima.  The import of Vincent’s actions hit her hard.  She backed, staggered and then tried to run but there was no where for the poor little girl to run.  She was alone and unwanted in a place she had never been before among an alien people.

     The hurt surrounded her like a garbage compacter.  Her pain would never cease.

     Neither would Lane Vincent’s although he deserved it.  A couple of Firsts and Seconds followed him over the lines at Morford’s command.  They seized Vincent to take him back aboard for his Court Martial.  You don’t hit the Captain of your ship and walk away scot free.

     Within a couple days they hauled Lane Vincent off to the brig.  What happened to his wife is unknown.

     Lane Vincent, the free American man.  He was so typical of the common man.  He was free and tough when he wanted to do something but it was somebody elses fault when he learned the error of his ways.  The Captain couldn’t stop him in Yokosuka but it was still the Captain’s fault when he realized the error of his ways.

page 1284.

      The shame was that he destroyed the psyche and life of this innocent girl.  Lane Vincent deserved more than he got as bad as that was.

     As the ship was secured Trueman was interested by the fact that Kanary had somehow dragged the Captain out on the dock to talk to his parents.  Having just been struck by one of his own sailors poor old Ratches had to put up with catering to the Kanarys.  Truly there are no jobs without indignities attached.

     The Kanarys were an odd couple.  He was five-three while she was a diminutive four-eleven.  They had a fussy, precious appearance and manner.  One might have thought that Teal was adopted.

     As they talked to the Captain both stood on their tiptoes leaning in toward Ratches gazing up sharply with birdlike expressions on their faces.

     ‘We have only two days to be here with this fine boy, our son, Captain.  He has informed us of how important he is to the running of your ship.  We know that there is a great deal of paperwork connected with your return, but really Captain couldn’t you let us have him for this one evening.  Surely you could spare our wonderful son for one evening.’

     Ratches realized that rather than say Teal had been Court Martialed and restricted it was best to let it pass for the moment. Teal had explained himself as being required by duties to remain aboard.  Ratches was always too kind.

page 1285.

     ‘Well, just for this one evening.’  He said looking reprovingly at Teal.

     So Kanary weaseled out of his restriction as his kind always knows so well how to do.

     Trueman read this exchange quite correctly as with a smile the Kanarys settled back on their heels.

     Trueman didn’t see the eyes of Yisraeli burning a hole through him from the shadows as he slipped down the port side to get dressed for liberty.

     ‘Uh, uh, Trueman.  You’re not going over.’

     ‘What’s your problem now, Laddybuck?  Since when do you tell me whether I can go over or not?’

     ‘I’m telling you now.  We all got restriction and the only reason you don’t is because you’re too chicken shit.  If you go over and we can’t you’re gonna regret it.’

     ‘Up yours, Ifrit.  The only reason you’re restricted is because you’re a stupid crook.  How could anyone be dumb enough to take double pay and not realize they wouldn’t get caught.  You don’t really think I’m going to do time for a crime you committed, do you?’

     Dewey was insulting Laddybuck Ifrit but his comments applied to over a hundred other men who were similarly restricted.

     As one of the few honest or intelligent men on board Trueman now became the victim of the criminality of the others.  With a shipload of criminals they all considered it unfair that the honest men could go on liberty.  Just as when crossing the equator the inmates were once again in charge of the asylum.

page 1286.

     Trueman disregarded Ifrit looping his scarf over his head and heading for the Quarterdeck.  The Blacks were disappearing down the pier when Dewey crossed the gangway.  Some few others straggled down the pier as those restricted lined the deck to watch arms folded grimly across their chests.

     The divisional officers were sitting around the breakfast table the next morning.

     ‘There’s a great deal of unrest among the men, Captain.’  Sieggren said.

     ‘About what?’  Ratches idly inquired.

     ‘Well, they’re in an ugly mood.  I mean a really ugly mood because now that we’re back in the States they can’t go over for a month.’

     ‘What then?  They were clearly guilty and justly sentenced.  What do they want?’

     ‘They want their restrictions lifted, Sir.’

     ‘Lifted?  Why?  They committed a serious offence, I could have sent all of them to the brig.  Why shouldn’t they be restricted now I’d like to know.’

     ‘You’re quite right, Sir, that the sentences were justified but as a politic move, if the restrictions aren’t lifted there is liable to be some very ugly violence before the thirty days are up.  They are already threatening the men who weren’t restricted.’

     ‘What are you suggesting, Lance?’

     ‘Sir, we’re already in hot water with the Commodore.  If several men are seriously injured or even…uh…killed, I don’t think your command, our ship, will ever recover.  We would go down in infamy.’

page 1287.

     ‘Killed?  What do you mean?’

     ‘I mean I’m certain there will be some not so subtle accidents and possibly some men might be beaten to death.’

     Lt. Sieggren understood the temper of the ship very well.

     Ratches quietly reflected nibbling at a strip of bacon held perpendicular with his teeth.  ‘What do you suggest, Lieutenant?’

     ‘As much as I’m opposed to it, Sir, I think we would be very wise to remit the last twenty-seven days.  Change the restrictions to three days and let them go ashore the day after tomorrow.

     Ratches rechewed the bacon breaking it down into very small pieces and swallowing hard to get it down.  He thought his sentence was just, really too lenient.  They should all have gone to the brig.  It was too late to send them there now, however.

     With a cloudy face he growled at Sieggren:  ‘Do what you think best.’

     The restricted men were released two days later.

     Hostilities were defused but not eliminated as the crew streamed off the ship for the gates.  Trueman found himself walking beside Mike Deasy and just behind Kayo Kreskin who was lugging forty pounds of heroin to his father waiting anxiously across from the gate.

     The bag sagged heavily as Kreskin tried his best to keep his shoulders light and level to conceal the weight of his burden.

page 1288.

     As Deasy and Trueman walked along they both looked at each other.  The friendship forged overseas melted away.  Trueman had no use for a friend as dull witted as Deasy while back on the soil of the US Trueman’s difference and strangeness became repellent to Deasy.  Without a word they dissociated themselves from each other.

     ‘There goes Kreskin with his heroin.’  Deasy sneered.

     A cold shiver went down Kreskin’s spine as he heard.

     ‘Really!  Heroin?’  Dewey said in awe.

     ‘I’m going to have to check that bag.’  The Marine sentry said reaching out for it.

     ‘What kind of bullshit is this?’  Duber said.  ‘We’re all one here, you don’t check any bags.’

    ‘It’s alright.  That’s my son.’  The very respectable looking Soter Kreskin said from the other side of the gate.

     The sight of Soter intimidated the sentry who stepped back letting Kayo pass.

     Dewey followed Kayo and Soter across the street where Soter threw the bag into the trunk of his Caddie with a sigh of relief.

     ‘Everything go alright?’  Soter asked superfluously.

     ‘Great. Fine.’  Kayo said as they both watched Trueman gawk into the trunk as he walked past.

How Now, Young Sailor?

     Trueman gave the Kweskins a wondering glance as he passed on the way to the bus stop.  Their guilt made his interest seem sinister to them but in truth Trueman was eyeing the sartorial splendor and magnificent carriage of Soter while noting the fifty-nine Cadillac which was the first he had seen.

page 1289.

     The fifty-nine GM cars were indeed of singular design.  The very apogee of American self-confidence.  Some things are truly unique.  Even though the fifty-nines were the culminating year in the style begun in 1955 so they were so extreme in their styling as to dissociate them from their predecessors.

     The fifty-nine GMs were the most forward looking cars ever designed; they seemed to catapult you into a blissful future.  Short stubby engine compartments flowed back toward the long line of the fins rising ever higher into a mad desire to fly.

      Furthermore they represented a crisis in American confidence.  There was never anything like them again.  The following year the design changed to an unimaginative prosaic functional design which was the height of timid bourgeousie.  The close of the fifties disappeared into the silly Corvair in response to pressures from the more timid who now began to control American society.  Wars against smoking and the speed limit now commenced.

     Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs was to shortly proclaim that America was insane.  While he was certainly projecting, regretfully it seems that he was right.  All the stresses proved too much for the American mind.

     But for Dewey on his bus ride downtown the astonishing changes that had taken place in less than six months as reflected only in the car designs was mind boggling.

page 1290

     He was now half way through his enlistment.  For anyone to think he would re-up was laughable.  He knew he would never go back to the midwest; its whole atmosphere seemed oppressive compared to the West Coast.  The bright dazzle of Southern California clashed with the dark inner recesses of his soul.  He much preferred the dark overcast skies of the San Francisco Bay and its surly blue collar mentality which matched more closely the turmoil of his own soul.

     Had he been thinking he would have realized that before plunging into the thick of life he needed a period of time to recuperate to gain a semblance of balance.  He should have used his time to explore rural settings along, perhaps, Highway 49 with its old mining sites like Angel’s Camp where with his savings he could have rented a cabin at reasonable rates and sat out a year to gain a sense of direction.

     Instead, prompted by P.J. O’Rourke in Hong Kong, he was bound and determined to get a college degree in order to make himself a first class citizen.  He saw himself as the equal if not the superior of any officer he had ever seen.

     California with its well developed college system was cheap and available to any applicant who cared to apply.  The murk and gloom of the Bay Area was most congenial to his general depression.  He bethought himself of his friendship with Roque Da Costa who lived in Oakland.  Da Costa had been lucky enough to escape the brig in Guam; Dewey now decided to press him into introducing him to his family and Oakland.

     Thus would begin a period in Dewey’s life which condensed into one of its most meaningful periods.  The next few months might be said to be the core of Dewey’s entire life.  The coming future memories would embrace the whole of his Navy career and spil over both backward and forward.  The mere twenty-six weeks would be as a thousand years in his sight.

page 1291.

     For now, Dewey got off the bus to walk up to Broadway and the corner of the El Cortez.  The long cruise had changed all his sensibilities.  The long days and nights at sea had slowed his perceptions.  All was orderly at sea.  There had been no need to rush or hurry.  The pace of life had even been slower in the ports of call.  Entombed in the long slow shuffling strung out mass of humanity in Hong Kong he had been compelled to  move at less than a snail’s pace.

     Back in San Diego which had always seemed leisurely to him everything seemed to be rushing and hurrying.  Cars raced by at seeming blinding speed.  It seemed as though he would have to reorient himself just to cross the street.

     The pedestrians seemed to fly by him.  Dewey had always been the fastest of walkers passing everyone on the street but now he would have to train himself to even keep up with the flow.

     As he stood on the corner peeping timorously into the traffic of Broadway Marcia Mason whizzed by him on the way to her job in the record store.  She recognized him immediately giving him a disdainful look.  Dewey, whose psychology gave him little capacity for remembering names and faces had only a faint glimmer of recognition which passed as soon as it appeared.

page 1292.

     Abashed by the tumultuous activity Dewey entered a drug store bought a copy of Time and Newsweek, spurning US News And World Report and retired to the Y to sit quietly reading his magazines.

    The world, as usual, was in flux.  Fidel Castro was in full revolt in Cuba.  Even though it was apparent to the least informed reader that Castro was a Communist, the Revolutionary writers of that supposedly conservative Time magazine were in a quandary as to whether he was merely an agricultural redistributor or perhaps only a fellow traveler using the Communists for his own ends but certainly not a Communist.  It never seemed to bother these pundits that whether in China, Cuba or elsewhere no land was ever distributed.

     ‘Boy, if Joe were still around there wouldn’t be much confusion on that issue.’  Dewey thought as his attention slipped over to an article on growing tension in Lebanon.  Nasser was stirring the Middle East.  As important as Castro’s declaration of Communism would be after the turn of the year for the United States it would have no effect on Dewey, however the growing tension in Lebanon which burst into flame in the summer of ’58 would.

     As Dewey flipped back to the book reviews which he found more absorbing than the news accounts which in the Time style were little more than fictional he failed to fix his attention on a man now about forty years old who arrived to sit in a chair three or four away from him.

     The man hadn’t removed his hat, wore dark sunglasses, had a thick bushy mustache and wore a suit that looked like it might once have belonged to someone else.

page 1293.

     Dewey read quietly a review of a book by Lederer and Eugene Burdick called The Ugly American.   Little did Dewey realize that this book by two Jews would completely unsettle the American psyche.

     Until this time Americans had considered themselves as decent, righteous, beautiful people.  They saw themselves as generous to a fault.  It was that generosity that Lederer and Burdick turned into a vice thereby making Americans see themselves as dirty and vile.  The notion of being ‘ugly’ Americans became an article of faith that it was impossible for them to shake.  Any denial of its truth would bring forth a violent reaction of affirmation.  Curiously they enjoyed thinking of themselves as ‘ugly’ Americans. 

     Time Magazine in the future would devote feature articles denouncing us as ‘ugly Americans.’  We were vile because even though we broadcast our resources wholesale over the ‘poor little yellow-brown people’ of South-East Asia for nothing but altruistic purposes we did so with ‘strings attached.’  We wanted their affection and gratitude.  It is truly said ‘You can’t buy love.’ and the US didn’t get any for its generosity.

     On the question of was it good for the Jews it should be noted that the Jewish state of Israel was sponging off the US for hundreds of millions a year.  Perhaps using the technique of shaming Americans in one place would free the Israelis of any obligations to affiliate their goals with those of the United States.  Or by making us feel ashamed perhaps the simple Americans would give Israel more.  Just because you made their state viable didn’t mean they owed anything to you.  The Israelis wanted no strings attached.  Thus Lederer and Burdick were really acting as subversive Israeli agents posing as American citizens.  Always look for the ulterior motive where Jews are concerned.

page 1294.

     Dewey read and watched in disgust as the US, his people, himself, was reviled and insulted for the generosity it gave Southeast Asia and the world.  He saw the flaw in the reasoning of the elected representatives of the people in Washington  but as only one of the multitude he could do nothing about it.  Indeed, when the people embraced the notion of the ‘Ugly American’ they almost demanded to be taken advantage of and they were.

     The attitude would end in the folly of the Viet Nam debacle which was then appearing sporadically in the back pages of Time.

     Fifty-eight was also the year of Philip Marlowe’s last caper.

     Heaving a sigh, even then angry at the concept of the Ugly American Dewey got up to head back to the base intent on a confab with Roque Da Costa.

     As he got up he became aware of the heavy breathing of the man in the hat.  Dewey gave him a glance figuring he must be a queer or something who haunted the Y to look at men then walked out into the sunshine to catch a bus.

Replacement Troops

     While Da Costa and Trueman had had a troubled friendship in mess cooking Trueman had not been that friendly toward him since then.  They hadn’t gone over together once while overseas.  Trueman did not consciously think of such things for indeed had he tried to analyze his feelings about his treatment overseas he would have gotten nowhere but subliminally he resented the fact that Da Costa had never given him any warnings as to the intents of Dieter and Deck nor had he ever openly sided with Dewey.

page 1295

     Nevertheless as these were times that were trying his soul he believed he had no choice but to impose himself on Roque if he were to get his post-Navy life in order.

     Da Costa for his part was unconcerned with Trueman or his welfare.  As Trueman got all the dirt jobs there was no real value to his friendship thus whatever friendly feelings were left over from mess cooking had worn pretty thin.

     Still, as Trueman had an Anglo name he was considered, as it were, pure blooded English.  Da Costa carried the stigma of being a Portogee, as he called it, hence having an inferiority complex versus the Anglo.  So, even if Trueman was at the bottom of the pecking order in Deck he was socially above Da Costa.  Roque was therefore somewhat intimidated causing him to defer to Trueman.

     He wasn’t anxious to let Trueman go home with him on a weekend but Trueman with the subtlety of the proverbial sledge hammer bludgeoned him into acceptance.

     This feat had just been achieved as Trueman sat on his locker to shine his shoes.  He was giving a good rub to the second application of Shinola when a ruckus on the Quarterdeck could be heard all the way in First.

page 1296.

      ‘We got five new guys coming down, Trueman.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Lucky us, lucky them.  See if the like it any better than we do.’

     Now half way through his enlistment Trueman following the universal pattern found any new people an imposition.  He was no longer interested in forming relationships.  Guam had gutted the ship of most of the familiar faces.  Transfers and expirations would keep the crew in perpetual flux.  Except for those in Deck Trueman wouldn’t even know the names of new men in other divisions.  Of the men in Deck they would merely be bodies filling positions.

     The five new deck hands streamed noisily through the hatch half carrying half dragging their sea bags  in a juvenile eighteen year old manner.  They were all fresh out of boot camp and had the wild eyed excited look of beginning the great adventure.  That attitude would last one day.  Well, they weren’t mistaken but they weren’t going to get the magnificent Pacific tour of duty the Teufelsdreck had just aborted.  Navy life was big adventure but not necessarily a pleasant one.  Just a big one.  Somehow, someway in the constricted environment of a steel ship three hundred six feet long, twenty-five feet wide midships something new, startling and dramatic seemed to happen every day.   This day was no exception.

     Dewey was shining away.  The seers who ran the Navy apparently believed in the old adage:  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. so they insisted on spectacular shoeshines.  By mixing a little water in the polish and rubbing for hours one could actually shave by one’s reflection in one’s shoes.  It was a feat quite equaling Einstein’s creation of relativity; important to the Navy but stunningly irrelevant to any swabby.  Still neatness counts.

page 1297.

      Laboring patiently away he was ignoring the newcomers when an unfamiliar super eager grinning face shoved into his:  ‘Are you Dewey Trueman?’

     Trueman pushed the unfamiliar face back a little looking at it in a quizzical manner:  ‘Yeah. So what?’

     ‘I really wanted to meet you.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Who are you and where have you heard of me?’

    ‘My name’s Tory Torbrick.  I’ve been wanting to meet you.’

      ‘Yeah?  OK, Torbrick.  So where, when or how have you heard of me?’

     ‘Oh.  I don’t know.  Just around.  I think we’re going to be good friends.’

      Dewey put on his shoes to go up on deck to relieve the watch.  He gave Torbrick an acknowledgment walking off  mystified by where Torbrick could possibly have heard of him.  He was disturbed by Torbrick’s reluctance to tell him how he had heard of him.  Torbrick always evaded the issue in the future so Dewey never did learn why Tory was so ardent to befriend him.

     Dewey elected to avoid Torbrick as he was suspicious of him.  But the ship was small.  Torbrick was a deck hand who slept in the same compartment so there was no way to avoid him.  Torbrick simply forced himself on Trueman with the subtlety of a load of horse puckey.

page 1298.

     Torbrick was following his father’s orders.  Shortly he would ask Trueman to spend a weekend at his home in Long Beach as his father began his plan to commit Trueman to Atascadero.

North To Oakland

     Trueman disregarded Torbrick avoiding him as much as possible but he pushed the reluctant Da Costa into inviting him to Oakland on their first forty-eight.   Weekend passes from Friday afternoon to muster on Monday morning were called forty-eight hour passes.

     Trueman was disappointed that Da Costa wouldn’t travel with him but chose to go separately.  Actually Trueman felt this keenly but faced with a future with no guideposts he swallowed his pride concentrating only on the necessity.

     Oakland was six hundred miles from San Diego.  The Navy required a sailor to get an out of bounds pass to travel beyond one hundred miles.  LA was technically out of bounds by a few miles but those miles were officially disregarded.

     Trueman had to suffer the humiliation of asking Kanary for an out of bounds request form.  The officious little Yeoman asked impertinent questions rather than just handing over the form.  That was why the Communists demanded the Yeoman rating.  They learned whatever was going on and what everybody was doing.  What was now to become Trueman’s habit of going to Oakland was learned and passed on, in this case to Our Lady Of The Blues.  Trueman cringed as he gave evasive or incomplete answers finally just blurting out:  ‘C’mon Kanary, just give me the form; I don’t have to answer any questions of yours.’

     Having filled out the form Trueman had to present it to the Executive Officer Lt. Lance Sieggren for approval.  If Kanary was an impediment Sieggren was an obstacle.  Trueman’s hatred of the officers left him all but tongue tied in their presence.  It was all he could do to keep his hostility in check.

     Repairing to the wardroom he stood before the seated Sieggren who gave him the third degree before reluctantly approving the request.  Seething with anger at having to submit his manhood to a man he couldn’t respect Trueman choked out a thank-you but was unable to conceal the disgust and resentment he felt in his facial expression.

     Downtown in the Greyhound station the realities of life began to hit him.  He had always envied the California kids who could escape the degradation of Navy life by going home on weekends.  Some could even do it overnight.  He hoped that going to Oakland would offer him that respite as well as preparing him for civilian life.

     As he paid for his roundtrip ticket he realized that he wouldn’t be able to make the trip as often as he liked.  Bus tickets weren’t that cheap.  As he stood around the station waiting for the bus to leave he realized in addition that bus stations were very unpleasant places.

     San Diego wasn’t too bad.  So much of the traffic was Navy that the undesirable elements were not too prominent and they put the Navy men in a different category and didn’t bother them as much.  Yet the young ne’er-do-wells that habituated bus terminals were still unpleasantly conspicuous.

page 1300.     

     They were nothing compared to LA.  It seemed that the City Of Angels had more evil angels than good ones.  So many young men and women flocked to LA that the station was full of not not only ne’er-d0-wells but predators.

     The LA station was large but not nearly as large or as well organized as Chicago or even the much smaller town of Joplin, Missouri.  The building was single story with few amenities.  Pimps, thieves and sexual predators congregated and operated openly in numbers unseen in other bus stations.  Perhaps the lure of Hollywood brought so many naive young bumpkins into town that the pickings were as plentiful as schools of carp around a sewer.

     The predators were not timid either but behaved in a feeding frenzy as each bus disgorged its bevy of young innocents.

     The scene must have approximated that at Castle Gardens or the landing from Ellis Island in the old days as the acclimated Jews and Italians or whatever gathered to prey on their exiting greenhorn landsmen and paisanos.  In many ways the situation was the same.  Whether the old immigrants were as transparently criminal as the predators in LA isn’t known to me.

     Dewey had a layover of over an hour in LA as he had to transfer buses.  As his bus rolled to a stop inside the terminal a bevy of predators gathered at the very door of the bus to glom onto any newcomers.

     ‘Welcome to LA.’  In an eager friendly voice that came from a seedy looking guy of twenty-one or twenty-two.

page 1301.

     ‘Thanks.’  Dewey said in a startled voice.

     ‘Whadya come for, the movies?’

     ‘No, man.  I’m just passing through.’

     ‘Well, you got a little layover, let’s talk.’

     ‘How do you know I’ve got a layover?’

     ‘That’s the bus from Tucson.  It just runs back and forth between LA, San Diego and Tucson so if you’re passing through you’ve got to change buses, have a layover.  Always takes at least half an hour.’  The guy said, pleased with himself for his knowledge of the schedules.

     ‘Yeah?  Well, thanks, but I’m just going to look over the town a little while I’m waiting.’

     ‘Great.  I’ll go with you.’

     There was no shaking the guy short of violence so Dewey was compelled to suffer his company.

     At that time LA still had a vital downtown.  The streets were lined with more and bigger stores filled with more unusual and expensive merchandise than Dewey had ever seen before even in Detroit.  It made his mouth water.

     This was LA and that meant something.  No other city in the world could then compete with LA in style.  OK, so maybe the LA style did tend to the gauche in some ways but who’s to say which standard of judgment is correct.  It was a choice between stuffy or open.  The style may have been a little more blatant but it was vital and exciting just like the sun and sand of the Southland.  London, Paris, New York were all shrinking violets compared to the bumptious, in your face confidence of LA.  The City of Angels didn’t care what you thought.

page 1302.

     Dewey’s attention was arrested by a display of men’s shirts in one of the windows.  His mouth dropped open at their sight while in quick succession his face screwed up in revulsion at their unfamiliarity.

     The shirts merely had striped bodies surmounted by a solid white collar and cuffs.  But rather than seeming fashionable they just seemed outre to Dewey.  In truth the fashion never really caught on.

     His companion who, believe it or not, called himself ‘Flash’, mistook Dewey’s look for admiration thinking it time to make his move:  ‘You’re never going to be able to afford shirts like that, unless…’

     ‘I wouldn’t wear one if I could afford it.’

     ‘Hey?  Bullock’s is a very nice department store.’  Flash said indignantly.  As his taste was determined by where an item was purchased he considered anything from Bullock’s primo.

     ‘I know how you could make the money to wear those shirts.  I’ve got the right contacts.’

     Dewey’s year and a half in the Navy had been well spent.  He knew what was coming next.

     ‘I know how to get money if I need it.’  He replied scornfully.

     ‘Everybody knows how to get a few bucks but I know how to get lots and have a good time doing it.’

     ‘Yeah?  Well I don’t flip it up for anybody.’

     ‘Ha!  Whadayou?  One of them goody goodies?’

page 1303.

     ‘I’m no faggot.’

     ‘Watch who you’re calling names.  I’m not either.  I just know a thing or two.’

     ‘Who cares?  Get lost.’  Dewey said turning to walk back to the bus station.

     Flash followed along behind Dewey heaping abuse on him with the effrontery of the recruiter unwilling to let his prey escape him.  Back inside the terminal Flash quieted down taking his place against the wall with the other predators and grifters who were waiting for new buses to arrive.

     Some crud was chatting up a young girl at the entrance to the waiting room promising to help her if she would just trust him.  It was then Dewey realized who and what all these guys were.

     Rather than realizing that Flash had approached him just because he had gotten off a bus Dewey took his indecent proposal as a personal affront.  He began to spout off not only at Flash which he had a right to do but at the whole clusters of pimps and hustlers.

     The crowd was listening to him in dumb astonishment when a bus attendant called him over:  ‘This is none of my business, Friend, but I’d advise you not to antagonize those guys.  They’re dangerous when riled.’

     ‘Who cares about them?’  Dewey said indignantly and loudly.  ‘They’re nothing but cons and cheats.’

     ‘I know, I know.’

     ‘Then why don’t the cops run them out?’

     ‘They’d just come back.  They’re an unpleasant fact of life.  We don’t like them but we have to tolerate them.  My advice to you given in all friendliness is to brush this off but don’t antagonize them.’

page 1304.

     Dewey was saved the trouble of dealing with them further by the announcement of his bus but the damage had been done.  The pimps and hustlers marked him well.  The next time he came through, even if years later, they would remember him and be waiting for him.

     The police who say they are powerless to find criminals without informers allowed these criminals to operate openly in a public place of business.

     Dewey’s bus pulled out headed over the Grapevine for the cities of the Central Valley of California.  Called the Central Valley, the San Joaquin and the Sacramento it’s all the same thing, one long dry desert made productive by irrigation.  The slopes of the Valley were lined with man made reservoirs coming down from the Sierra Nevada.  The big Shasta Dam at the headwaters of the Sacramento was still in construction but when it was finished there would be enough water to flood the Valley.

     Dewey had caught a local so when the bus pulled into Bakersfield on the other side of the Grapevine a lean, thin faced, hawk beaked man who appeared to be looking for a fight got on.  Dewey threw his feet up on the empty seat beside him to preempt it.  This was all the challenge that Dean Moriarty needed.

     ‘Move your feet.  I want this seat.’

     ‘There’s plenty of other seats use one of them.’  Dewey said amiably.

page 1305. 

     ‘No.’

     Moriarity went for the bus driver.  It has been said that your physiognomy is your destiny.  Whatever that means it always seemed that the faces were applied against Dewey.  If he had asked the driver for the seat the driver would have told him to take another.  Now he sided with Moriarty.  However personality determines fate whatever was in Dewey’s face never did him any good.  Maybe it was the pimples.

     ‘Look.  You’re going to have to move your feet, buddy.’

     ‘OK.’  Dewey said getting up to move to another empty bench sliding in against the window.  Moriarity followed him sliding in beside him.

     Dewey shoved him over complaining to the driver:  “Hey, Driver, make this guy go back to the seat he wanted.’

     ‘I can sit where I please.  I’ve paid my fare.’  Moriarty said self-righteously.

     ‘There’s nothing I can do about it, buddy.’  The Driver groaned more than familiar not only with Moriarty’s type but Moriarty himself.  Moriarty was so cranked out that he rode back and forth from Bakersfield to Sacramento seeking such confrontations.  Yes, it is a form of homosexuality.  Dewey had to endure the crank.

     The bus had been rolling down 99 toward Fresno for an hour before Moriarty spoke to a thoroughly irritated Trueman.

     ‘You look like the type who’s never cracked a book in his life.’

     These guys are nearly always astute psychologists who know just which button to push.  Dewey should have kept his mouth shut but unfortunately he had been raised to be courteous.  An onerous curse in itself.

page 1306.

     ‘I’ve cracked a book.’  He mumbled as low as possible so as to obey the rules of courtesy but discourage conversation.

     ‘What’s that?  Have the courtesy to speak up.  Don’t you have any breeding?’  It was Moriarty’s purpose to have Dewey thrown off the bus.  What twist had been given him by whom can only be guessed at, but he was more successful at raising ire than not.

     ‘Yeah.  I read.’  Dewey replied miserably.

     ‘Name one author you’ve read other than tripe like Mickey Spillane.’  Moriarty said contemptuously.  ‘I mean real literature.’

     Mickey Spillane had written some gory sex-filled detective stories with Mike Hammer as his hero which had been popular a few years before.  Dewey hadn’t read them but Moriarty had.

     Dewey lit a cigarette, looked at Moriarty resignedly then blew smoke in his face.  ‘Kipling.’  He replied.

     ‘Driver.  Driver.  For Christ’s sake, I’ve got asthma.  Make him put out his cigarette.’

     ‘If he’s got asthma, buddy, put out your cigarette.’

     ‘Better yet, Driver, I’ll move away from him further back.’  Dewey rose to move back but Moriarty jammed his knees against the back of the forward seat refusing to let Dewey pass.

     ‘No.’  Moriarty said self-righteously and indignantly.  ‘I don’t have to do what you want me to do.  I’m not your slave.  You can climb over the seat.’

page 1307.

     ‘C’mon Driver.  Make him let me out.’

     ‘Look buddy, just put out your cigarette.’

     ‘No.  I won’t.  If he won’t let me out then he’s giving me permission to smoke.’

     ‘I’ll stop the bus and put you off if you don’t put that cigarette out as I say.’

     ‘I’ll testify he’s trying to start a fight.’  Moriarty rapped out.

      Faced with the possibility of being expelled from the bus Dewey put out his cigarette.  Chalk another one up for the gay guy.  His chest swelled at the realization of his power to make another man do what he didn’t want. 

     ‘You’ll learn not to mess with me, mister.’  The twisted Moriarty said with satisfaction.  He was a past master at starting and winning disputes of this nature.  He now returned to Dewey’s answer to his question to keep the agiatation of his perverted mind in motion.

     ‘Kipling was the spokesman of colonialism.  what he and those bigoted English did to the Indian sub-continent was criminal.  If you like Rudyard Kipling then you share the guilt of the English.  I’m not sure I can continue sitting beside you.’

     ‘I did try to leave but you wouldn’t do what I told you jerk.  ‘Sides the English didn’t do anything to India nearly as bad as what the Indians did to themselves.’

     ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

     ‘The caste system for one thing.  The very idea of making a huge part of your fellow man ‘untouchable’ while putting red dots on the foreheads of others to give them special privileges should make any decent man puke.  If you back that system, then you’re just as screwed up as they are, probably worse.  Kipling was a good and decent man.’

page 1308.

     ‘What the Indians chose to do with each other is their internal affair; what invaders like the English do is criminal.’

     ‘You’re twisted, man, you’ve got a mental disease.’

     ‘Did you hear that everybody?’  Dean Moriarty said turning to address everyone on the bus.  This ‘person’ here advocates criminal behavior.  That makes him a criminal himself.  We should all be ashamed to be on the same bus with him.’

     By this time the bus had entered and left Fresno.  The next stop was Merced toward which they left the highway.  The driver had not responded to this latest outburst of Moriarty.  The pervert played his next card.

     ‘As a matter of fact I won’t stay on this bus with you another minute.  I will get off here at Merced and await for the next bus to continue my journey to Sacramento.’

     ‘OK.  Great man.  You’re not hurting my feelings.’

     As the bus stopped the twisted tortured pervert that was Dean Moriarty stood at the door reviling Trueman until the driver closed the door to pull out even then trying to hold the door open.  Moriarty knew his act so well that everyone on the bus looked at Dewey in disgust.

      As it was now quite dark Dewey just sat there ignoring the world.  ‘Damned if I’ll take the bus again.’  He groaned.

     Another short hop brought to bus to Modesto from which they left 99 to take the Manteca cutoff bypassing Tracy over to Oakland across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.  It was now three in the morning.

page 1309

     The San Francisco bus station was deserted that early in the morning.  Dewey grabbed his bag to walk up the deserted street to Market, the main drag of San Francisco.  The dark night glistened in twinkling patent leather black against the lights of Market.  As Dewey looked down Market he was relieved to see the street deserted.

     He took no more than three steps than simultaneously down the entire length of Market a person or two stepped into the street from every doorway on both sides of the street.  Each looked hopefully in his direction eager to be chosen for whatever adventure he might propose.

     There were winos, homos of every description, men who looked like women and women who looked like men.  There were even lonely women hoping for any kind of companionship.  As Dewey walked along Market there was a delicious shiver of anticipation for the habitues of this midnight obsession.  What was in his bag?  Which one would he choose?

      Sneers of indignation were launched at Dewey’s back as he passed each hopeful leaving them crushed and rejected.  They spat hatefully at his heels.  Block after block Dewey passed them by as he walked down Market.

     When he turned to make his way to the Key Systems terminal for the ride over the Bay Bridge to Oakland a wave of pain washed over him as the injured devastated souls sank back into their doorways to stand in the withering night in hopes that a car might pull up to select one to make his life meaningful.  But the sun would come up driving them back to their lairs before a redeemer would arrive.  Today there is no salvation.

page 1310.

     ‘Man, what a town.’  Dewey said as he climbed the steps to the trains.  The arcades were all closed.  Only a couple sailors on the way back to Treasure Island waited for a train. 

     Da Costa lived out on E. 86th Street about five blocks off East 14th which was the North-South drag of Oakland.  East 14th was the longest street Dewey had ever seen stretching from the bay all the way to the future Fremont over four hundred blocks long.

     Da Costa, who had just arrived let him in without having to knock which was well because Roque’s father was a cranky old soul.

The Heart Of Oakland

     Pietro, or Pete, Da Costa had emigrated to the United States as a young boy with his parents.  He was now sixty-three.  He was a widower who had sired four offspring: three girls and Roque.  The two older sisters were both married and out of the house.  Roque’s younger sister, Terry, at seventeen was fifteen years younger than the oldest sister.

     Oakland had a substantial Portuguese population.  They were a clannish lot who believed that they had suffered serious discrimination at the hands of the Anglos.  They were very sensitive about being confused with Mexicans, who they considered inferior, because of the similarity of the names.

     Gomez and Rodriguez were not to be confused with Gomes and Rodrigues.  The final S designated a Portuguese while the Z was emblematic of the Mexican.

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     Pete Da Costa but illy concealed his rage that his son had brought an Anglo home.  He let Dewey know that he was not welcome in his home.

     Rather than face his father’s anger Roque whisked Dewey out of the house.  ‘He’s kinda living in the past.’  Roque lamented the first generations traditional lament.  ‘Still hasn’t left the old country in his heart.  A lot of the old guys are still fighting battles from years ago.  Come on, I’ll show you the stomping grounds.’

     Roque was able to borrow his father’s car which he headed down East 14th toward the cannerys and the heart of Portuguese Oakland.  In the old days the immigrant Italians and Portuguese had staffed the cannerys such as the big Del Monte plant that backed onto High Street.  High Street led across the channel to the city of Alameda.  Oakland itself is the seat of Alameda County.  Adjoining it to the West is the City of Alameda on Alameda Island with its huge Alameda Naval Air Station.  The big carriers like the Kearsarge home based at Alameda.

     As the boys drove up to the Big Top Drive In just east of the cannerys what the Bay Area called the ‘high fog’ still obscured the sun.  The high fog was responsible for giving the city its dull dark cast.  Anyone else would have called the ‘high fog’ cloud cover.  The fog or clouds formed out over the ocean during the day then as the temperature dropped in the evening the moisture laden air condensed into clouds which were drawn through the Golden Gate by winds created by the cooling land.  The East Bay and San Francisco were the most affected areas.  Contra Costa county which is actual desert was either unaffected or burned off early.  The Peninsula West across the bay from Oakland was usually bright and sunny.  Santa Clara County with San Jose at the South end of the bay was usually covered over to East San Jose.  That cover usually burned off about noon.

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     Oakland was kept perpetually cool by the cloud cover…and gloomy.  Gertrude Stein was once quoted as saying of Oakland:  There’s no there, there.  That isn’t entirely correct, there’s plenty of there there, they just don’t know what to do with it.  It seems like only the dullest mentalities chose to live in Oakland.  It is their lack of interest in everything that makes it appear that there is no there there.

     In San Francisco the mix of races and nationalities created an exciting cosmopolitan atmosphere but in Oakland the same mix as working class folk thuds along like a ruptured inner tube and just lays there.

     They were perpetually at war with themselves and society.  They accepted the cannery jobs as fate with no appeal.  Many of them never left the several square bocks of their neighborhood nor did they have any desire to.  For entertainment they had contests with the police.

     The High Street Bridge was the nightly scene of high speed chases between themselves and the police.  In those day municipal police had no jurisdiction beyond their community limits.  the middle of the bridge was the ending of the jurisdiction of the Oakland police and the beginning of those of Alameda.

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     If any of the Wild Boys saw flashing red behind them they immediately took off for the High Street Bridge hoping to get over it before they were hauled off.

     High St. lay athwart the Black enclave of West Oakland to the North and East Oakland to the South.  The blacks who were a fairly recent phenomenon being brought West only in the forties were still resented by the Whites who kept them in what Iceberg Slim called the Stockade.  By keeping them out of sight the Whites tried to ignore their presence.  William Knowland who ran the most boring newspaper in the world ever exposed to the light of day, The Oakland Tribune, made the mistake of his life by trying to pretend they didn’t exist.

     The Blacks liked Oakland perhaps for the reason that Gertrude Stein detested it.  They seemed to fit Oakland like the proverbial hand and glove.  At the time they were approaching 30% of the population.  Within a few short years they were to be over 50%.  As Knowland excluded Black affairs from the pages of the Tribune they had no reason to read the paper.  So the distribution of the Tribune shrank daily as Blacks displaced Whites.  Any Whites who didn’t want to be bored to death read the San Francisco Chronicle or Examiner.  Those newspaper cats ran exciting stories like:  Why Doesn’t San Francisco Have Good Coffee?’  And it wasn’t that there wasn’t excitement in the world at the time either.

     That’s how boring the Tribune was, they couldn’t even think up exciting leaders about coffee.  On the other hand, who cared whether Oakland had good coffee or not.  The lack of good coffee kind of complemented the lack of there there.

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     Historians concerned with Black history all seem to think that the doings of Mike King down in Birmingham jail were representative of Blacks all over the country.  Yes, friends, Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most successful name changes in history, comparable to that of M. Arouet who changed his name to Voltaire.  Marty King’s real name was Mike.  That also means that he as a Jr. his father was also Mike.

     The South was only one part of Black society.  The more adventurous Blacks, or those who didn’t mind cold weather, split the South for the North and West.  Once freed of the danger of lynching they changed their whole attitude quickly.  White culture toward Blacks outside the South was repulsion tinged with indifference.  Without developed mechanisms to intimidate Blacks they allowed themselves to be intimidated by Blacks.

     One of the most notable civil rights figures of the sixties was then residing in Soledad Prison.  Eldridge Cleaver had been one of those who wasn’t going to take it anymore.  He honed his raping skills in the Stockade on Black girls then crossed East 14th to prey on White women.  He would have been in Soledad a lot longer except for the civil rights movement that made egregious crimes into legitimate social protest.

      West Oakland or the Flatlands as the Blacks called it in opposition to what would soon be White enclaves in the hills was a very lovely area.  The trees were old and stately; the lots were all level and spacious.  But in the Black intellect whatever Whites will let them have must be of no value or they woudn’t let them have it so they despised what were, in fact, the choice lands of Oakland.

     Further South in East Oakland where the burgeoning Black population was expanding with geometric force a lot of conflict was occurring down along the interface with displaced Whites.

     People didn’t understand the nature of the Black/White confrontation.  Because the movement of the Blacks was within the borders of the United States the Black immigration into Oakland was seen as internal movement whereas it was in reality an invasion of an alien people.  It was fortunate that there was no large scale warfare as in New York, Chicago, East St. Louis, LA and other places where Blacks had migrated in large numbers.  After all half the city would turn Black.

     The absorption of so many aliens ill adapted to life in a foreign situation would have been next to impossible if they were White and wanted.  Many were country folk unused to city ways, most were illiterate or barely literate.  Frankly, they didn’t know how to act.  The police force which was all White didn’t understand them and didn’t react properly to their alienation.

     The Blacks reacted badly to the p0lice whose harassment they believed was directed especially at them.  This was not true.  The Oakland police force was a savage repressive force of vulgar beasts without the class or shine of the LAPD.  The OPD pulled cheap suit crap the LAPD would have sneered down their noses at.

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     The crudos of of the OPD had no qualms about stopping female drivers and demanding sex.  They had no qualms about stopping men with their dates and demanding the men allow them to have sex with their dates.  They had no qualms about demanding sex from men.

     They would write you up for doing ninety down a city street when you were safely within the speed limit to negotiate the speed down depending on whether you would accede to their wishes.  The CWBs in Oakland were truly Criminals With Badges.  It had nothing to do with whether you were Black or not.  If you were Black they may have called you a nigger; if you White they called you White Trash.  The guys they called White Trash had no recourse and never made the papers; the guys they called niggers could get the people who called other Whites White Trash to act on their behalf.  Racism in America?  You bet.

     In 1966 the Black resentment would erupt into the Black Panther Party led by Huey Newton who attended Oakland City College at the same time Dewey did.  It was a strange coincidence that Roque Da Costa would be a victim of the Panthers.

     Roque returned to work at Lucky Stores on his discharge.  He had worked his way up to manager by 1968.  One day a Panther came in demanding that Da Costa cash his stolen check.  He refused to show Roque any ID so Da Costa rightly refused to cash it.  The Panther accused him of racism rather than good business practices.  Da Costa waved him off.

     The next morning when Roque was out emptying the trash the enraged Panther drove by and shot him dead.  Maybe Roque would have been better off at Safeway  than Lucky.

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     At the time Blacks were not often seen outside the Stockade so even though they were nearing a majority of the population in 1958 the segregation was nearly complete except for adventurous sorts like Eldridge Cleaver.

     Thus the drive in hangout of Da Costa and his crowd even athough virtually surrounded by Blacks was completely White.  The Anglo influence was nil; the patronage was entirely of South Mediterranean provenance.

     This was a fairly rough crowd.  Toughness was at a premium compared to the more genteel Anglo hangouts.  They had their own problems too, don’t get me wrong.

      ‘OK, Dewey, now it’s really improtant to act like you’re ready to fight.  It’s all just show and push and shove unless you act chicken and then they’ll really come after you.  So just do your strut now.’

     ‘OK, man.’

     As they walked up they were greeted by an acquaintance of Da Costa’s.

     ‘Hey, Roque.  Where ya been; haven’t seen you ya around lately.’

      ‘Hi, Sam.  I just got back from Hong Kong.  Been gone for a while.’

     ‘Just got back from Hong Kong!  Get outta here.  You’re talking to Sammy boy, Roque.’

     ‘I really did just get back from Hong Kong, Sam.  I’m in the Navy now and we just returned from a Pacific tour.  I’ll be around a little more now but I’m stationed in San Diego.’

     At the mention of the Navy Sam noticed Dewey who doing his tough act, with his long sour face, it was a pretty good imitation of mean looking.  Sam had been around some of the Navy bars near the Air Station.  Tough Navy bars were legendary in California.  Sam went into defensive posture.

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     ‘Oh yeah, Navy, huh?  Anybody want to fight?  C’mon.  We’ll choose up sides and smell armpits.’  He said clowning a pose where he lifted his arms and strutted left and right.

     Sam got a good laugh, Dewey was accepted as Da Costa’s buddy.  But the longer he talked to the Da Costa crowd the more Dewey was repelled.  Dewey had nothing in common with the negative immigrant attitude.  He didn’t understand how these guys could be so down.  Coming from the Children’s Home Dewey had more reason for despair than these guys yet they had no hope, no ambition, no desire to improve their situation.

     Dewey watched a Wild Boy dash past on the way to the bridge running a red light followed by a squad car as he wondered what he exactly hoped from Oakland.  His mind was made up to make this place home so he pondered thoughtfully as Da Costa drove back to 86th. Street.

     As luck would have it Dewey picked up a racking cough somewhere on the way North.  It was one of those uncontrollable dry things.  Coming at night as it did Dewey wasn’t able to buy cough drops.  As everyone turned in, try as he might, Dewey couldn’t stop coughing but hacked away non-stop all night.

     Already enraged at having an Anglo in the house the cough was sufficient grounds for complaint against Trueman’s visits.

     By noon the next day it was time for Trueman to leave if he was going to get back in time.  On the bus ride to the Key Station the cough disappeared as quickly as it had begun.  One can only guess that Trueman’s subconscious was trying to tell him something.

     The thugs hanging around the bus station zeroed in on Trueman as he was their age.  Bus stations always have a group of low class thugs hanging around because the people who ride buses usually come from the least affluent levels of society.  Trains still took a better class while the affluent types clustered in the airports.  Fighting the toughs off Trueman boarded the bus for the trip back.

     Whereas San Francisco had been deserted at three in the morning when he’d arrived the pimps and hustlers still filled the LA terminal at one AM when the bus pulled in.  They recognized Trueman from the previous Friday.  The layover was short but Trueman realized they had his number.

     The bus had taken much too long.  It had also been very unpleasant.  As Dewey wended his way back through the Naval Base at four-thirty in the morning he thought there had to be a better way.

The Wages Of Sin

     Dewey got every other weekend off.  While he was waiting for the next forty-eight to come up the rest of the squadron returned from their magnificent seven day layover in Honolulu.  Dewey was put out at his fellows who had been so stupid as to accept pay advances they should have known would get them into trouble.

      Even though they had sacrificed Hawaii his shipmates were too dull to regret it.  Mostly they lamented that being on half pay for their durations diminished their enjoyments.  Many tried to make up their pay shortages by other means.

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     The first such casualty of the over payment scheme was Trueman’s overseas pal, Parsons.  Practical morality is largely the fear of censure by one’s fellows.  While one might never disappoint the expectations of family and friends in one’s home town the same rules of behavior are not necessarily followed in a different milieu.

     On the one hand Parsons felt he had no reputation to lose in San Diego while on the other for less serious crimes the civil authorities simply remanded the transgressor to the justice of the Navy.  As before noted the Navy was tolerant of the deeds of its wayward boys.

     Relying on the leniency of the Navy, Parsons tried to augment his reduced income by burgling a San Diego store.  He was so unfortunate as to be caught in the act on his first attempt.  His expectations were not disappointed; the San Diego police simply turned him over to the Shore Patrol.  Ratches gave him a stern lecture about holding up the strict standards of the Navy and the remarkably lenient sentence of seven days restriction.

     Disappointed at the failure of his burglary Parsons was nevertheless satisfied with the results of his apprehension.  He had not however counted on the reaction of his shipmates.  Most labeled him for what he was, a criminal.  He was surprised to find himself rejected by his fellows with the exception of Screw, Easy, McLean, Kayo Kreskin and the criminal cadre aboard.

     Parsons was stunned when Trueman reluctantly advised him that he could no longer associate with him.  Parsons was incapable of understanding.  He had worked out all the consequences but one, the reaction of his shipmates.

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     Parsons considered that his crime was no different than being AWOL for a few hours or even minutes.  He took his seven days restriction considering the matter closed.  The rejection of Trueman and the crew struck his self-conception like a sledge hammer.  He was forced to hang out with the criminal element although he did disavow his criminal ways when he was once again safe with family, friends and hometown.

     A more corrosive effect was made by Kayo Kreskin.  The effect of the forty pounds of heroin on the finances of his father was explosive.  The return was so sensational that Soter’s appetite for the easy money was increased accordingly.  The land of opportunity for Soter and Kayo lay close at hand just South of the border.

     Soter bought Kayo a fifty-eight Edsel, setting him up to make bi-weekly runs from the border to the Bay.  Soter saw no reason to put his son at risk with border crossings so he arranged for delivery of the stuff to be made to a lawyer friend in the yacht harbor of Coronado where Kayo picked it up.

    Trueman with his need to include everyone he liked in his schemes soon included Joe McLean in his weekend jaunts to Oakland.  While there McLean ran into Jim Chance who was continuing his criminal career burgling warehouses in Oakland from his base at the airport.

     In an effort to increase the take Soter persuaded Kayo to recruit some mules.  There was no more likely candidate than Joe McLean.  Joe, who was also feeling pinched on his reduced wages, was delighted to drive for Kweskin.  The couple hundred he received for each trip more than made up for his loss in wages.

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     As he had no car, to his further delight the Kreskins bought him a fifty-one Buick convertible.  McLean was in hog heaven.  Teal Kanary also flew a few kilos up to the Bay Area on his fequent trips home.  There may have been other mules as well but in any event Soter Kreskin blossomed as a social lion with his few found means.  He too was in hog heaven though of a different quality than Joe McLean’s.

     His next weekend Dewey chose to fly to San Francisco as were a number of men of  greater means than his own.  At the time Southwest Airlines was the industry phenom.  They were running cattle cars between San Diego, LA and San Francisco at incredibly low prices.  They packed you in like sardines but most people found the resulting frotage sexually exciting.

     This was the beginning of the heyday of sexual promiscuity.  The stewardesses were young, beautiful and wanted the same sexual freedom as men.  This was somthing like saying that nails could have the same freedom as hammers.  Whatever gets used gets abused.  Strangely it took women several decades to discover that all the physical and psychic wear and fell on them.  Then they turned viciously on men to make them pay for their own stupidity.

     That consequence was far in the future.  For the time being the stewardesses seemed willing even eager to be groped amongst the party atmosphere provided by the airlines.  It was as though being able to fly made them giddy.  Through it all the morose and angry face of Dewey Trueman shone like a dirge at a wedding.  Everything in Dewey’s past conspired to exclude him from this merriment.  The high spirits even seemed  an intended affront against him.  For Dewey it hurt so good to feel so bad.

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     Not only had Dewey spent more than he could afford for the flight but upon disembarking he discovered that the airport was a long way from where he wanted to be.  San Francisco airport then as now was halfway down the Peninsula between San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley.  The trip over to Oakland consumed another three hours and more expense than Dewey was willing to absorb.

     Although old Pete Da Costa was no less happy to see him Da Costa’s sister Terry had decided to take an interest in him.  As with so many Southern and Eastern European immigrant women the Da Costa girls had sought to avoid the stigma of inferiority by marrying men with English names.

     By coincidence both of Roque’s older sisters had married men named Clark although Earl spelled his name Clarke with an E while Alton didn’t.  Trueman seemed an eminently suitable English name to Terry.

     Dewey had no interest in her.  Call it what you will but Terry was of a deep olive complexion as was the rest of the family which Dewey disliked.  Then too there was that about the Da Costa style of living which was distasteful to Dewey’s sensibilities.  It bespoke an intellect which was foreign to him and to which his intellect could never adapt.  It may be said, however, that both Mary Clarke and Estelle Clark kept a much more Anglo style of housekeeping although Mary was incomparably the better of the two.

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     So Dewey idly passed the weekend flying back to San Diego with time to spare.  He realized that if he had to pay to travel to Oakland that he wouldn’t be able to afford more than one trip a month.  He was so desperate to get away every week that he made a decision that would forever declass him in his own mind.

     He remembered how he had felt pity for his high school pal, Jerry, who used to hitch everywhere.  He had felt then that Jerry had declassed himself and felt pity for him because it always made Jerry inferior in his eyes.

     But now, faced with the horror of not being able to get away from both ship and San Diego he made the fateful decision to put out his thumb.

An E With A Hashmark

     The Commodore was exceedingly wroth with the Teufelsdreck.  Not only was Ratches ruining his own career but the unusual proceedings on board the Teufelsdreck were affecting his own reputation as squadron commander.  The unexplainable logic of the payroll advances abord the Bucket T had been the last straw for the Commodore.  He wanted nothing better than to himiliate Ratches and his ship as he felt he was being humiliated.  See how they liked it.

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     Thus the Monday after Dewey’s flight back from the Bay Area the squadron put out to sea for gunnery exercises.  The complement of the Teuf was not yet up to full strength thus the Commodore believed that with a number of green hands and short of men the Teuf would not be able to defend its pants.

     Chief Dieter had not relaxed his animosity toward Trueman.  If anything it had deepened.  Trueman had been assigned some mopping up work on the fo’c’sle.  He was beginning to lose his enthusiasm for working hard although he still did good work.  Rather than hurrying to get the job done he was sitting in front of the 20MM gun tub leaning with his back against it while leisurely scrubbing some discolored area of the deck when he heard the voices of Dieter and Morford discussing him.  Dieter had apparently forgotten the task he had assigned Trueman.

     ‘The guy’s a tough nut to crack.’  Morford said still rueful about his failure to break Trueman over the rammed supply ship incident.

     ‘I know.  But I think if we can break his will his ass is ours.’

     Trueman should have lain quietly and listened instead he stood up to indignantly exclaim:  ‘It’ll be a cold day in hell when you guys will ever break my will.’

     Both men looked at him in surprise.  Without a further word they parted, walking around opposite sides of the superstructure.

     Perhaps in an attempt to break Trueman’s will he was taken off the forties for which he had expressed a liking to be sent up to the Hedgehogs as exercises began.

     As they were not to be fired for gunnery practice Dieter called him down to handle shells for the three inch.

     The forward three was the prestige gun aboard ship.  Dieter, Ratman and Pardon, all three, stood around to supervise.  Premier Seaman Cracker Jack Driscoll, who, by the way, was so devoted to the navy that he had refused the payroll advances, had the prestige job of ramming the shell into the breach.  While not dangerous the task was not without hazards.  When the shell was rammed the breech snapped up with speed and force.  The trick was to not wrap your fingers over the flange of the shell which was a half inch wide but to keep your fingers straight and ram with the heel of your palm fingers extended.

     It was on this day that Cracker Jack Driscoll failed to follow instructions.

     As mentioned before, Boatwain’s Mate was a closed rating.  It was virtually impossible to make Third Class even.  However Dieter liked Cracker Jack Driscoll.  He spent long hours tutoring the man; he moved heaven and earth, pulled every single string that existed to get his man a Third Class chevron.  He had succeeded.  Two weeks after the Teufelsdreck returned Driscoll’s promotion came through.

     One would have thought Driscoll would have been overjoyed but he wasn’t; he was in awe.  As a cracker back in Georgia he had accepted everyone’s opinion that he wasn’t worthy as fact.  Thus as he’d sewn his chevron on his blues he felt he was unworthy of having achieved this insignficant distinction.

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     It my be argued that he simply forgot to remove the middle finger of his right hand from the breech but, in fact, he subconsciously wanted to disqualify himself from what he thought was umerited distinction.

     Trueman had raced under the barrel cradling the three inch shell in his arms anticipating the devastatingly sharp crack from the three inch barrel overhead when he was met instead by a scream of pain.

     When he got around to the breech he found Cracker Jack Driscoll attached to the gun by his middle finger.  The accident was so unexpected that neither Dieter, Ratman nor Pardon had made a move to lower the breech manually.  There Driscoll stood with his finger up to the second knuckle inside the barrel behind the shell.

     The pain was excruciating.  Cracker Jack let out peal after peal that was heard all over the ship.  Finally the Petty Officers recovered to grapple the breech down.  Driscoll’s finger wasn’t severed but the finger was definitely hanging by the skin.

     To Trueman’s consternation the first intelligible words out of Driscoll’s mouth were an anguished:  ‘This doesn’t mean I’ll have to leave the Navy does it?’  Then his gaze fixed on Trueman’s wondering eyes who always ridiculed Cracker Jack because he found distinction in being in the Navy.

     Dieter followed his glance to say reprovingly:  ‘Go back to the forties Trueman, you’re not wanted here.’

     In one day Trueman manned the Hedgehogs, a three inch and the forties.  Not many could claim that.

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     ‘What happened up forward, Trueman?’  Bent Cygnette demanded.

     ‘Nothing.  Cracker Jack forgot to remove his finger from the barrel before the breech snapped back up, that’s all.’

     ‘Is he hurt?’

     ‘Well, if you think being able to put the first two knuckles of your middle finger in your shirt pocket is being hurt I should think so.’

     The order for the forties to fire terminated the conversation.

     Morford and Kanary were both looking for ways to get Trueman in trouble.  As he walked a narrow line he would have to be induced to commit an indiscretion that could be escalated into a crime.  Having watched Van Wye throwing the spent cartridges overboard during the last exercizes Morford encouraged him to do it again, as if he needed it, but to get Trueman involved so he could be written up.

     One might think that Van Wye was placing himself in jeopardy but the rules can be selectively applied.  Even if Trueman objected that Van Wye also was discarding the cartridges it would be argued that Van Wye was not the one on the carpet, Trueman was, and Trueman was guilty.  He would be told that Van Wye would be dealt with later which he wouldn’t be.

     Thus while Trueman clipped his cartridges to put them back in the cannisters Van Wye threw them over the side.

     ‘C’mon, Trueman, don’t be a simp; just chuck them over the side.  The Navy can afford more.’

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     Waste was not Trueman’s way while he also looked up to the bridge where he saw Morford and Kanary eyeing him intently.  He fluffed Van Wye off continuing to clip the shells.  Thus he saved himself a fair amount of trouble.

Whitening The Teufelsdreck.

     Whatever tests the Navy was conducting with the sixteen Black sailors must have been completed.  As the Blacks were put aboard just before the Pacific Tour and removed just after its completion perhaps the notion had been to see how they would react to foreign locales or how the foreigners would react to them.  If that was the case the results were inconclusive as the Blacks had been too terrified to go ashore.

     As no one ever knows what is in store for him from day to day the transfer of the whole contingent could be taken in stride although the situation was certainly unusual.  Unfamiliar with such procedures the Blacks had little idea what transfer meant.

     There was a great deal of discussion as to its meaning and signficance.  The agitated mind of Tyrone Jackson whose preoccupation had always been the imagined insult to Blackness made by Trueman in the laundry room evolved a notion that now that they were to be transferred any crimes committed on the Teufelsdreck would remain a transgression of that ship’s laws and would remain on that ship.  As Tyrone reasoned it he could murder Trueman, then, once having crossed the gangway, he would be beyond the ship’s jurisdiction.  Blacks must have thought that if you committed a crime in Chicago then lammed to LA you only had responsibility to the LA police until you committed a crime there alhtough you couldn’t go back to Chicago.

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A Short Story

Highway 101

by

R.E. Prindle

     After the death of his son Michael, David Hirsh lost control of his mind.  In a fit of anguish he abandoned his wife, daughter and aged father Solomon.  He fled to the West Coast where he settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Montecito.  There, quite mad and unbalanced he joined the Hasidic synagogue with Frankist leanings.

     The echoes of Frankism that believed that the Messiah would come only when all the evil had been expended from humanity still reverberated.  David Hirsh changed his name to Yehuda Yisraeli, sinking into a life of depravity.  He entered the pornography business.  At that time the business was primarily still photos.  While Yisraeli did some work with women he specialized primarily in men and young boys.

     From the border below San Diego to LA is a mass of military camps.  The great naval bases at San Diego alone housed tens of thousands of sailors.  The Marines owned the area of Pendleton.  Lesser bases were in Long Beach and LA.  All these men, far from home, open to whatever adventure might come their way, were a happy hunting ground for Yisraeli.

     It was while he was cruising downtown San Diego looking for prospects that he spied Dewey Trueman standing on a corner.  Dewey had been an object of hatred for Yisraeli and his son in Michigan.  When his son died Yisraeli had tried to kill Trueman who was then known as Farley Gresham.  Trueman had graduated from high school then fled the Valley going North.  He, in turn, was driven mad by Yisraeli’s persecution in the Valley.

     He had been fortunate to be taken in by Angeline Gower, a waitress in Grand Traverse.  There after a year and a half he recovered sufficiently to strike out on his own.  His recovery was incomplete.  Unable to bear the reality of existence he disappeared in the woods of the Upper Peninsula to resurface in Milwaukee.  Undirected and still unable to function he reluctantly joined the Navy.  The Navy shipped him West to San Diego.

     When Yisraeli spotted Trueman his heart churned with joy.  As Dewey had never actually known him there was no chance that he would be recognized; yet as he knew Dewey, he leapt back against the wall of the El Cortez Hotel.  His act was so outre that Dewey noticed him.  Yisraeli was petrified, sure that Trueman would leap on him.  Not recognizing him, Dewey dismissed him as just another queer, the plague of the sailor.

     Yisraeli had rapidly built up a roster of men who posed for him.  Through these he was able to locate Trueman’s ship, appropriately named the Teufelsdreck.  Then he had been able to play tricks on Trueman anonymously.  But tricks are only tricks, he wanted to avenge the death of his son on Trueman.  He saw no reason for Trueman to live when his own beloved son was dead.

     His attempt to have Trueman incarcerated in an insane asylum had failed.  He now concocted a plan to lure Trueman to his death.  Trueman had been hitchhiking up to San Franciso every weekend for some time.  The customary route lay up 101 to LA and then up I5, at that time Highway 99, to Modesto and across to the Bay Area.

     As these roads were heavily traveled they afforded no certain way to obtain possession of Trueman.  But, Yisraeli reasoned, if he could get Trueman to take 101 all the way, that less traveled road would give him the opportunity he needed.

     Homosexuals not being stupid go where the boys are.  The boys are in the Navy.  The Navy has a high percentage of homosexuals.  At one time the aircraft carrier the Kearsarge was so heavily infested that it was known as the Queersarge.  Open warfare existed between the straights and queers, instigated by the queers, don’t misunderstand me.  Mess halls and passageways became battlegrounds.  The Navy in desperation brought the Kearsarge into Alameda took off the old crew and placed an entire new one aboard.

     While the Teufelsdreck was fairly heavily infested the queers still remained less open than on the Queersarge.  The Teufelsdreck was a closet ship.  Yisraeli, who had become a source of income for many men had contacts aboard.  They put the bug of 101 in Trueman’s ear.  It was a hard sell.  One o one did not have a good hitchhiking reputation.  At that time above Santa Barbara the highway was nearly vacant.  Still there was a streak of curiosity in Trueman.  He wouldn’t mind seeing the length of the fabled 101.

     Prodded once again he decided to give it a try.  Yisraeli’s system was alerted.  Among Trueman’s friends aboard ship was a Sonarman by the name of Joe McLean.  Joe or Mac as he was alternatively known was devoid of morals.  Back in Texas he had been given the opportunity by a judge to choose either the Navy or prison.  Between a rock and a hard place McLean chose the Navy.

     The lack of morals is not always clear and obvious in the military.  Always on the make Joe had been recruited for a photo session with Yisraeli.  He would be Trueman’s cicerone.  The hit was plotted between San Luis and Paso Robles in the wild Coast Range.

     Trueman wasn’t clear why he took Mac along.  Hitching is tough enough alone let alone two at a time.  Perhaps it was the newness of the route.  The two took the bus to the end of the line in San Diego then got out on the highway.  It was imperative to get a ride immediately at the end of the line  before the cops or Shore Patrol got to you.  The Navy frowned on hitching, it was imperative to get out of town fast.

     On this, the first leg of that strange trip luck was with them.  They were dropped off at the end of the freeway in LA in one ride.  In those days, 1958, the northern extensions of the freeways were not yet built, so that a hitcher was usually dropped off at the end of the freeway.  If on 99 this meant a difficult hitch up Lankershim Boulevard through North Hollywood to the Grapevine.  On a Friday night this meant beating your way through thousands of territorially minded cruising teenagers.  One of the great spectacles of the era.

     If 101 then you had to beat your way up Sepulveda Blvd. out to Ventura and Oxnard.  This route was even less attractive than North Hollywood.  At that time the Age of Concrete had not yet taken full possession of the soul of LA.  The city was filled with marvelous plaster cast buildings in imitation of every famous building in the world.  The whole city looked like a huge movie set.

     LA was a very exciting place of light airy corruption.  Nothing and nobody was for real, everyone was there to be used and discarded.  Sunset Strip was still one of the most dynamic party streets in America, probably the best, although the seeds of its demise could be found on the odd lot where Beatniks held forth; not real Beatniks but LA movie style poseurs.  LA could never be quite as gritty as SF.  Still, the evil was apparent amid the glitter.

     Dewey and Mac beat their way up Sepulveda, between the canyons, not yet filled with garbage, out toward Oxnard.  The canyons on either side of what would become the freeway were literally filled with garbage and then covered with earth.

     Midnight found them standing on the LA side of Oxnard.  There appeared to be little hope then a car pulled over.  If it weren’t for queers in LA a sailor would never get a ride.  Both Dewey and Mac piled into the back seat.  Dewey, always tired, wanted to get some sleep.  The driver protested, demanding that at least one ride up front.  Joe, who was never tired, readily volunteered.  Dewey lay down and went to sleep.  He was awarkened shortly after by the lack of motion of the car.  Only half conscious it became clear to his muddled mind that they were parked and that Joe and the driver were engaged in sex.

     ‘What if he wakes up?’  The driver said.

     ‘It’ll be too damn bad for him.’  Joe replied.

     Dewey chose not to emerge from his sleepy haze going back to sleep.  He was awakened by the bright California sunshine as the car sped down the highway.

     ‘Where are we?’  He asked sleepily.

     ‘Just left Santa Barbara.’  Mac replied.

     ‘Santa Barbara!’  Dewey shouted.  ‘Hell, we should be in San Francisco by now, if we drove all night.  What’d you guys do, stop somewhere?’

     ‘No man, we’ve been driving all night.’

     ‘Must have been ten miles a goddamn hour.  We’re not even up to San Luis Obispo.’

     ‘San Luis is just up ahead.  I’ll buy you guys breakfast then drop you off.  I’m not going any further.’

     Dewey usually drove straight to his goal, nothing diverted him, so he was really angry that they weren’t any further.  Was he being disengenuous about the stopover or did he truly imagine that he had no idea why they hadn’t gotten further?  Even with Trueman’s phenomenal capacity to shuffle unpleasant situations into the dungeon of his subconscious I am really hardpressed to explain his dissimulation.  Perhaps he was making the best of a bad situation; perhaps it was the better alternative to admitting that his friend was not the type of person he wished to associate with.  Friends are always hard to come by, even moreso in the Navy.

     San Luis was an incredibly beautiful little city at the time.  Even amongst the sere hills of summertime California the city sparkled.  The restaurant the driver chose was so spotless it glittered, this was America the way Americans like to think of it.  But for Dewey the dark remembrances of the previous night cast a pall over his mind.  The intuition that his friend was queerish disturbed him.  Accepting breakfast from a queer was impossible.

     Dewey refused the driver’s offer of breakfast grousing mightily while the other two ate.  His black mood and the heavy dark burden of his past contrasted sharply with the bright cheerful character of his surroundings.  He wanted away.  On the one hand the beauty was such that he could not participate in it as much as he admired it.  On the other hand the thought of the corruption seated across from him amdist the spotless splendor, blithefully ignoring it, crossed his mind as such a severe contradiction that he couldn’t handle it.  He groused even more violently until the driver gave him an uncomprehending look and left his breakfast half eaten.

     Dewey savaged him even further as he paid and left.  The other patrons looked at this dark visage hoping that he would leave.  Dewey wouldn’t let Mac eat either, driving at him until he got back out on the highway.

     Joe was now angry.

     ‘I think we should go back.  By the time we get to Frisco we’ll have to turn around and come back anyway.’

     ‘Hell, no.  I don’t know why it took us over six hours to get from Oxnard to this side of Santa Barbara but whatever you guys were doing cost us a lot of miles.  You go back.  I’m going on.’

     ‘We weren’t doing anything Dewey.  The road was torn up so we had delays.’  Joe pleaded making it up as he went along.  The technique had always worked except for that one time with the judge.

     ‘Yeah, right.’

     About that time a ride came along.  They both piled in.  The heat had not built up yet so that the day was gloriously beautiful.  It was so beautiful that it even penetrated the impenetrable gloom of Dewey’s mind, casting aside the scales ever so much.  The air sparkled.  As the rolled along the Coast Range narrowed the valley so that it came  up alongside the road.  As they entered the mountains the driver dumped them out completely in the middle of nowhere.

     One o one was no ninety-nine.  Still a two lane highway the cars were few and far between.  Dewey continued to grouse at Mac who retreated into himself to avoid Dewey’s reproaches.  Then a driver stopped.  The strangeness of the stop alerted Dewey’s suspicions.  Once you’ve hitchhiked enough, like anything else you become sensitive to the unusual.  Normally a car overdrives the hitchhiker by at least a hundred yards making him run for his ride.  It’s a form of fare, really.  This guy  rolled up slowly and stopped in front of them as though he had been looking for them.

     Even more peculiarly the driver insisted they get in the back seat.

     ‘It’s my turn to sleep now.  Get up front with the driver.’  Joe whispered.  Dewey acquiesced.

     ‘I’ll ride up front and talk to you.’  Dewey volunteered.

     ‘No. No.  Both of you get in back.’  The Cowboy said.

     The driver’s always right but the act placed him in so much jeopardy that it caused Dewey to wonder.

     ‘When it gets stranger than I am, it’s time to get out.’  He thought to himself.

     The driver, a cowboy, was a real nice guy but he seemed to be inviting disaster, encouraging it.  Then up the road along which the cowboy was ambling, he was a real slow driver, he spotted two more guys hitchhiking.  Further they were city boys, looking cocky beyond endurance, definitely out of place.

     ‘This is wrong.’  Dewey thought.  ‘Everything is out of place.  Something’s going down here.’

     ‘I’m going to stop and give these two guys a ride, too.’  The cowboy announced.

     ‘No!’ Dewey almost shouted.  ‘Let them go.’

     ‘Why?’  The driver asked complacently.  ‘I gave you guys a ride.’

     Premonitions are impossible to explain.  Dewey wasn’t able to do it.

     The Cowboy stopped.  ‘Hop in, boys.’

     They didn’t even ask how far he was going.

     ‘Wrong, wrong, wrong.’  Dewey thought.

     When they fixed their eyes on him Dewey knew that it was all wrong but he had no idea what.

     They were arrogant Wild Boys dressed in a manner that implied they had never been out of LA.  They were too good looking, sporting a confidence that was not born of the moment.  Dewey thought that they should have cars of their own.  There was no reason for them to be by the side of the road.

     Dewey looked around and picked up on the car that stayed carefully half a mile behind.  The car was driven by Yehuda Yisraeli.  It was up to the Wild Boys to get the Cowboy’s car off the road behind the hills where Dewey could be killed.  Mac who had not been let in on the full story was scheduled to die also.

     The scene could have been the basis of an episode of the TV series Bus Stop or, with shotguns, a Peckinpah movie.

      ‘There comes a time in everybody’s life to die.’  Wild Boy Bill said laconically.

     ‘Yeah.’  Said Wild Boy Jim when no one responded.

     ‘Sometimes you die naturally, sometimes you have a little help.’

     No response.

     ‘You ever killed anyone?’  Wild Boy Bill asked Dewey.

     ‘Are you kidding?’

     ‘We could kill this stupid driver here.  Make him take a side road into the hills.  Out here no one would ever know.’

     ‘So?  What’d he ever do to you?’

     ‘He was stupid enough to pick up wild guys like us.  No one should ever offer help two guys like us who don’t need it.  You think he’d know better.  That merits death.  Besides I like to kill.  It’s a real kick.  Let’s do it.  Turn up that road, Cowboy, let’s kill you.’

     All of a sudden the idea appealed to Joe.  ‘Yeah, OK, let’s do it.’

     ‘No!’ Dewey shouted.  ‘Don’t turn down that road or let me out.’

     The driver sort of coasted past the road indecisively.

     The gig was up.

     ‘Let us out here.’ The Wild Boys said.

     ‘Who the hell gets out in the middle of nowhere.’  Dewey thought, not realizing that he, not the Cowboy, was intended as the victim.

     Then as he looked back the Wild Boys got in the car which had been following.  Yisraeli did a uey and headed back to LA.

     Dewey sat there puzzled unable to figure it out.

     The plan had simply been to get Dewey off the road behind the hills and kill him.  They had hoped to disarm him by getting him excited at the prospect of killing the Cowboy.  In Yisraeli’s mind torn by hate and prejudice he projected his state of mind on Dewey and thought Dewey would jump at the chance of killing someone, anyone.

     The Cowboy was involved.  Behind a couple payments on the car, Yisraeli’s offer had been to bail him out.  When Trueman was aroused to commit murder they were all to turn on him.  Yisraeli was to drive up, set up a movie camera and make a porn snuff film out of it.

     It was a good plan.  No one would ever find Trueman and McLean’s bodies.  When they failed to show up for muster it would be assumed that they were AWOL.  Thirty days later someone would show up on their parents doorstep to see if they were in their homes.  Then the search would be over.  Of course Yisraeli hadn’t thought about the consquences of selling his snuff film.  Sent out to every corner of the earth Trueman or McLean might be recognized, but, even so perhaps nothing would ever come of it.

     But Dewey refused the bait and plan came to nothing.  Virtue is indeed often its own reward.

     The Cowboy went about five miles further before letting them out as he turned into the sunbaked barren hills.

     ‘That guy doesn’t know how lucky he was that I was here.’  Dewey thought, completely unaware that he had saved his own life.

     Dewey tried to get his amazement across to Joe but Mac merely said matter of factly,  ‘We should have done it.  It would have been a lot of fun.’

     Dewey was so shocked he just shut up until a driver dropped them off in Paso Robles a  couple hours later.  If you like desert Paso Robles was a pretty little town.  By this time the temperature was 105.  The Navy Blues were getting a little toasty.  Even in the heat the town didn’t look bad, just hostile.  Like all those little towns the people distrusted strangers passing through.  Frequently the townspeople could become dangerous.

     The oaks, after which the Pass of Oaks took its name were strewn over the hills across the highway.  Paso Robles Union High sat among them.

     Dewey’s mind was reeling from the discovery of Joe’s homosexual proclivities and his ready acquiescence to the murder of the Cowboy.  Dewey began to rag on Joe pushing him to explain himself.  Joe couldn’t and didn’t want to: if Dewey couldn’t undertand, he thought, then Dewey sould shut up and let it pass.  Dewey felt hurt and betrayed by his misjudgment of Joe’s character;  he continued to demand explanations.

     Joe as if to keep Dewey away from him was standing around him ike a basketball player with his hand stretched out to Dewey’s hip to direct his activity.

     ‘You boys passing through, I hope.’  Said the Highway Patrolman amiably as he leaned across the seat of his air conditioned squad car.

     ‘Not only a free country.’  Dewey snarled.  ‘But see these clothes, Navy uniforms.  We’re out of your jurisdiction.  Give us trouble and you’ll be talking to the Admiral.’

     ‘Now, don’t get smart with me boys.  I just asked a civil question.’

     ‘Well, we might go over and have a coke at that drive-in.’  Dewey said.  ‘Hot.’

     ‘No.  Don’t even do that.  The only thing keeping me from running you boys in is those uniforms.  You see we’ve been having a little trouble on this stretch of highway.  People have been disappearing.  Those guys over at that drive in are a little edgy.  They’d like nothing better than to get you guys into a fight and stomp your ass.  I’m trying to do you a favor if you’ll let me to keep you out of trouble.  Just keep passing through.  Any problem?’

     ‘Who’d want to stay in a place as hot as this?’  Dewey said sarcastically.

     ‘I’ll take that for a yes.’  The Patrolman smiled driving away.

     ‘Man, you didn’t have to be so rude, Dewey.’  Joe, who had been remanded to the Navy from the court, admonished.

     ‘Really?   You were ready to kill a guy for kicks and you have the nerve to criticize me for being rude to a cop who’s running us out of town?  Strange world isn’t it?’

     A rock skidded past their feet.  Looking toward the drive in Joe and Dewey saw a group of four young men shaking their fists at them.

     ‘Move along or tne next rocks will brain you.’  The leader shouted.

    ‘Maybe 101 wasn’t such a good idea.’  Dewey said as he and Joe moved another couple hundred yards down the road.

     It was hot.  The cars were few and far between.  Whenever a car hove into view Dewey uttered a little prayer.  They were all going unanswered.  Then from a distance of a couple hundred yards Dewey saw a car coming along with two obese men, the passenger with his arm around the driver and sitting close to him.  Dewey looked closely; the two men seemed familiar.  As they drew abreast the passenger gave a little start and pointed to Dewey.  The driver sniffed acknowledging what he said.  As the car passed both threw their noses in the air.  It would be a while before Dewey could remember who they were.

     In December of ’58 when he had hitchhiked back to Michigan he had been picked up by these two men in Amarillo, Texas and dropped off in Tulsa.  The men who had introduced themselves as Darrel and Derold patrolled the highway from Amarillo to Tulsa picking up and killing hitchhikers.  Something misfired with Dewey so after giving him his ride they decided to abandon Oklahoma for San Francisco.

     Now, some four months later they had chosen 101 to continue their predations.  While Dewey didn’t place the pair something clicked in his mind that associated their appearance with the murders the Highway Patrolman had mentioned.  Speaking almost to himself in reference to Oklahoma Dewey ejaculated:  ‘Look at those two old fairies.’

     Joe not understanding Dewey’s reference point took umbrage at his contemptuous exclamation.

     ‘I’m embarrassed for you Dewey.  I think affection between any two living creatures is the most wonderful thing in the world.  You should apologize to them here and now, even if they can’t hear you.’

     Dewey looked at Mac with some wonderment.  The term ‘two living creatures’ didn’t escape him as he correctly divined that Joe would take a sheep if he could but he could only deal with one of the conflicting thoughts he had at one time.  A contempt for Joe boiled up in his mind that quickly subsided but Dewey said mockingly:  ‘Aw, Joe, aren’t you the guy who always says what you don’t know won’t hurt you?’

     ‘I don’t know what you mean.’

     ‘Sure, you do.  Those guys don’t know what I said so their feelings can’t be hurt.  Why should I apologize to someone I haven’t offended?’

     ‘This is different, Dewey.’

     ‘No, it isn’t, Joe.  It’s all the same.’

     As their eyes met the reality of this trip down 101 shown clearly in their eyes.  For a brief moment the truth of their feelings for each other was apparent but the light flickered out and the deceit of their situation on Joe’s part and the hope of Dewey’s once again became the reality.

   Neither spoke to each othere for the duration of the hitch that was long and slow.  Arriving in Oakland as the morning sun came up there was litle to do but turn around to make the loop down 99 back to San Diego.

     Dewey and Mac split up each going his separate way.

 The End

     ‘

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues:

From Gaia To Maia

Part V

by

R.E. Prindle

V-10 and Last

     ‘I wasn’t the only one.  Others did it too.  Cygnette took advances, so did Kanary too.  Why aren’t they here too.  Ensign Shaffer said it was alright.  Why do I have to go alone?’  Proud Costello shrieked as they hauled him away.

     ‘The sins we commit two by two we must pay for one by one.’  Trueman laughed quoting Kipling’s Tomlinson again.

     ‘Be quiet or go below Sailor.’  Ratches said sternly as Trueman was violating manly protocol by not standing quietly and reverently.

     Snapping off a loose salute Trueman moved back to between the K-guns to watch the pageant.  Red Hanrahan was perched on his Depth Charge.  ‘I told ’em so.’  He said rather matter-of-factly.

     Trueman looked at Hanrahan in surprise.  ‘If anyone would have been dumb enough to take advances I would have thought Hanrahan was.’  He said to himself.

     Just goes to show, you can’t never tell.  Hanrahan thought Trueman would have been dumb enough too.

     Giving Hanrahan a wondering sidelong glance Trueman slipped down the hatch into First.

Not Til The Fat Lady Sings

     Teal Kanary was in virtual shock.  The purity of this self-called Brahman was in serious jeopardy.  Not only had he gotten his second Captain’s Mast within three months but he had gotten his first Court Martial.  Most significantly Trueman had come away unstained while a few others the Yeoman despised had fared better than he.  The tour of duty he had tried so hard to prevent Trueman from taking was turning out to be a nightmare of very disturbing proportions.  Further as he projected his hatred of Trueman back on himself from Trueman he believed that his humiliation was being thoroughly enjoyed by his imagined enemy.  Actually Trueman was uninterested in Kanary.  He paid scant attention to him.  Any triumph such as the Subic debacle passed almost immediately from his mind before the fast onrush express train like sequence of events.  Kanary simply projected his own inner state on innocent people; he was drowned in the sea of his subconscious.

page 1251.

     Nevertheless as his sense of purity was based on the notion that other people recognized it too his self-conceit was seriously undermined by these impure situations which he mistakenly thought everyone dwelt on as much as he did.  But, for a man proficient in papering over cracks in his persona the elimination of external evidence would be relatively simple.  The evidence of his legal actions would simply be misplaced thus leaving no record in his file.  If there’s no record it never happened.  It was the smallest of the benefits garnered from the criminal misuse of his position.

     The real problem was that in effacing his purity he placed himself in a position of inferiority to other men.  He had covered the shame of his own homosexuality by this highly developed sense of purity.  As his sense of purity weakened the reality of his homosexuality surfaced.  To have had to admit his homosexuality to himself would have destroyed his really rather fragile identity.  He would have been a blue Kanary.

page 1253.

     Kanary had witnessed Proud Costello’s outburst over Trueman on the gangway.  He understood fully what it meant.  It meant that Costello’s manhood had been fully demeaned beneath Trueman’s.  Costello had become permanently inferior to a man he despised.  It would be something that would possess him for life.  Kanary’s shaken powers of self-delusion would soon reassert themselves on the conscious level but he felt the threat of being submerged beneath Trueman.  The thought threw him into a state of panic.  It was absolutely necessary that Trueman be convicted of something/anything and removed from his sight.

     The Teufelsdreck was still in a state of shock the next morning.  All normal operations had been in suspension since the debacle began.  Even muster had been neglected.  The crew had been milling around without any sense of direction.  The removal of the forty-three men created a lot of extra space which Trueman was enjoying.

     When the going gets tough in the Navy the tough shine their shoes.  He was sitting on his locker so employed wondering when normal discipline would return but not caring if it didn’t.  The Teuf, if it ever had been, would never be normal again.  Its destiny was in the hands of Maia.

     Teal Kanary rushed through the hatch to Trueman where he sat:  ‘There’s three checks been stolen worth twenty thousand dollars Trueman.  Where are they?’  The lack of logic on Kanary’s part was astounding.  One would have had to think his outburst crazy, which it was, had one not known the desperate strain his psyche was under.  Both as a homosexual and a Communist his reasoning faculties were always engulfed by the waters of his subconscious; his intellect was always outrageously distorted but now he was completely overwhelmed by Maia; he was no longer responsible for his actions.

page 1253

     Strangely enough Trueman who was barely able to keep his head above the psychic waters himself, although he had not anticipated such an attack, was not caught unawares.  The thing just fit in the course of events.

     ‘I don’t know anything about any checks.  You’re the Yeoman, if the checks were in your control you know where they are.  Accusing me of stealing them is absurd.’

      ‘You were seen hanging around the Yeoman’s shack just before they disappeared.’  Kanary shrieked hysterically.  Then he jumped up on the lockers.  Reaching over to the I beam beside the upper rack of Trueman he snatched the missing checks from the lower lip where he had concealed them.

     ‘Here!  See!  I’ve found them! Here they are hidden by your bunk.  That proves you stole them.  You’re on the way to the brig now, buddy boy.’

     ‘Kanary, if you found them in my locker that would only prove that you picked my lock.  Everyone knows how you guys operate; you’ve got the combinations to a lot of guy’s locks in your files.  Now get out of here or I’ll polish you up and try to make you look good which would only be wasted labor.’

page 1244.

     ‘Oh, I’m leaving now, Trueman.  But I’ll be right back and when I am you’ll be very, very sorry.’

     Kanary ran screaming to Ratches:  ‘Captain, Captain I’ve found the missing checks.  Trueman stole them and hid them on the I beam by his rack.  Give him a Captain’s Mast and Court Martial and send him to the brig; he goes with the rest of them.’

     Kanary was unaware of the ridiculous figure he cut.  His intent was patently obvious.  Ratches was disgusted with the behavior of the ratty little Yeoman who was apparently unaware of his own poor record.  Ratches was unaware of the depth of Kanary’s guilt in the advances.  He didn’t know that the shifty Yeoman had taken a cut of each advance.  Had he known Kanary would have been gone.  The Yeoman had only been spared so far because there were no Yeoman replacements on Guam.

     ‘Tell your story to Mr. Morford.  I’ll deal with this through him Yeoman.’

     ‘Yes, Sir.’

     Kanary’s ploy was so transparent that even Morford didn’t bother to burden the Captain with the details.

     Bifrons sent the new Supply Officer, Meigrane Vogt, to question Trueman.  Dewey sneered both Vogt and Kanary down.  ‘Wasn’t it amazing,’ he said, ‘That Kanary didn’t even have to search for the checks; he just knew exactly where they were.  Leapt right up there and grabbed them.  Now, who do you think put the checks there in the first place?  Kanary.  Kanary’s your thief, lock him up.’

page 1255.

     Meigrane Vogt was innocent in more ways than one.  Caught in a situation he had no way of understanding he received Trueman’s insulting contempt personally shook it off transferring it to Kanary where it belonged.

     An hour later Deasy came back to tell him that it was alright, he wasn’t under suspicion.

     ‘No kidding.’  Dewey replied giving a last lick to his shoe.

     The consequences of the payroll scheme were only beginning to unfold.  As the ship prepared for the six thousand mile run straight back to San Diego weeks ahead of the other three ships in the squadron Joe McLean sat on his locker.  The young criminal had ceased being Kerry Maclen one day too soon.  The first day of the rest of his life as Joe McLean had been as big a disaster as his old life.

     His ‘bud’ Hubie Blake had written him up.  He believed that Trueman had betrayed him by not sharing his fate.  He’d had two Captain’s Masts and a Court Martial on the same day.  He had to pay back over a thousand dollars in less than fifteen months before his discharge.  He suddenly realized the injustice of having to repay the half that had gone to the perpetrators.

     As certain people never accept responsibility for their action he blamed everything on Trueman.  Dewey wanted him to room with him?  If it ever came to that Trueman would have to pay.

page 1256.

The Urban Spaceman

     If there ever had been a ship that died of shame it should have been the Teufelsdreck.  But the sailors of the Teufelsdreck were real Americans; high ideals and no principles.  The old passions raged out of control.

     Teal Kanary found it absolutely necessary for his mental stability that Trueman should be arraigned for a Captain’s Mast and Court Martial.  His whole concept of his purity was at stake.  If those he considered impure were morally superior then Kanary’s mind must give way.

      The question was how to bring Trueman down?  He had so far been impervious to all ploys and ruses.  It seemed to Kanary that some guardian deity protected him.  But homosexuals are proficient in breaking down resistance to their advances.

     It was possible, thought Kanary, by a series of injustices to make Trueman give an overt reaction which could be used against him.  He could be made to commit a punishable offence.  As with all clever provocateurs the incitement would be cleverly concealed so that only the reaction would be visible, not the provocation, and that as a completely irrational act.

     Kanary had considerable power as the ship’s Yeoman.  He scheduled all the watches  Abingdon law prevailed in the Navy.  With a third of the crew absent Deck was required to stand watches four on and four off.  This is exhausting over a fourteen day period.

page 1257.

     Using his connection with Chief Dieter he made sure that Trueman would be given no rest during daylight hours.  Thus Trueman could get only a maximum of four hours rest a night.  By manipulating the dinner watches Trueman’s inner clock could be completely unsettled while in many nights his rest could be cut to three hours.

      Thus as Trueman tried to settle into a regular four on four off rhythm Kanary would switch dinner watches on him so that after having stood the morning twelve to four one night his sequence of watches was reversed for the next.  The twelve to four was critical because getting off watch at midnight you had to shower if you wished to stay clean getting to bed at twelve thirty and then wakened again at three thirty.

     If Trueman complained he would still be required to stand the watches first.  As Kanary was authorized to schedule the watches and as no one would take the time to listen to his complaint until San Diego Trueman would be compelled to suffer no matter what.  Thus he was effectively under a Seaman Apprentice’s authority.  The homosexual sadistically pressed his advantage.

     As it was, Trueman didn’t catch the ruse but suffered patiently becoming quickly exhausted and disoriented.

     The ship raced across the waves passing Hawaii without a nod.

     The Teufelsdreck was one day from San Diego with Trueman hanging on for dear life.

page 1258.

     He had gotten off the evening eight to twelve, taken his shower, settled into his bunk mentally preparing himself for the four to eight when Brant shook him, not out of his sleep, but out of his lethargy:  ‘Trueman, wake up, you’re wanted on the bridge.’

     ‘What are you talking about Brant?  I just got off watch.’

     ‘I know, but there’s been a collision at sea and some sailors are overboard, they want you to double up the watch to look for them.’

     ‘Gaa, why me?’  Trueman grumbled as he dressed again for watch.

     He was greeted by Morford as he mounted the bridge:  ‘There’s been a collision at sea Trueman.  A seaman is unaccounted for.  Double up on starboard and keep a sharp eye out.  If you go to sleep you’ll get a Captain’s Mast.’

     So this was it.  His benumbed brain grasped the set-up.  Having had almost no rest since Guam he would be kept up a full twenty-four hours to see if they could get him for sleeping on watch.  Now I know why they call them faggots, he thought.

     There had been no collision.  The ships were doing routine maneuvers off San Diego.

     ‘What makes you think someone’s in the water just because he’s not accounted for.  What was anyone doing on the fo’c’sle at night anyway.  Nobody’s up but the watch.’

     Morford was caught by surprise by the sharp logician’s mind of Trueman.  He stammered out:  ‘The crash broke into the forward bunking area.  He was tossed from his bunk, probably.’  Morford was projecting the configuration of the Teufelsdreck on the supply ship.

page 1259.

      ‘Which ship is it?  That supply ship of some kind over there?  Hell, the bow doesn’t even look damaged.’  Trueman said staring into the darkness through his glasses.  ‘Even if it was the damage  doesn’t go back to any compartments.  Besides on those big supply ships all the crew sleeps aft above deck in the superstructure.   Nobody’s washed over, Morford, let me go back to bed.  I’ve got to stand the the four to eight.’

      ‘What did you say, Trueman?’

     ‘I said nobody’s washed over, let me go back to bed.’

     ‘You addressed me as plain Morford, not as Lieutenant or Mr.’

     ‘Not possible, Sir.  I would never do that.’  Trueman didn’t know whether he had or hadn’t but Morford let it drop figuring he’d be asleep before long and he’d get him then.

     Trueman was dog tired.  He had trouble focusing his eyes and was almost too weary to stand.  He leaned back against the compass and concentrated on keeping his eyes open.

     At four Brant his double left him alone on lookout.  No one replaced him.

     ‘Hey, Lieutenant, who’s going to double with me?’

     ‘No one.’

     ‘Well if it was so important to have two men before why isn’t it now?’

     ‘Your job is to follow orders, Trueman, not ask questions.  Shut up and keep your eyes peeled.’

page 1260

     If the situation hadn’t been clear before Trueman grasped it firmly now.  He was securely in the hands of his enemies; he had no recourse.  Resistance was out of the question he could only endure.

     His concentration was good enough to keep his eyes open but his vision was gone.  The horizon diracted into some discordant version of a Vorticist painting.  The intermediate plane broke into three dimensions of its own which confused and dazzled Dewey’s mind.  Finally he just went blind.

     ‘Your eyes better be open, Trueman.’  Morford whose hatred was so intense he was standing two successive watches to get his man, intoned.

     ‘Oh yeah, my eyes are open, Sir.’

     ‘What ship is that at 35 degrees?’

     ‘No idea, Sir.  Can’t see it.’

     ‘You said your eyes were open.’

     ‘Yes Sir, but I’ve been up so ong I can’t see anything anyway.’

     Morford came over to starboard, leaning in he looked into Trueman’s open, unblinking, unseeing eyes.  Doing a double take at thee punishment the man was enduring without complaint he returned to the upper bridge.

     Trueman’s relief for the eight to twelve was purposely kept late by Dieter so Trueman would miss breakfast.  It mad no difference to Trueman who was incapable of eating.  His mind was made up.

     As he cam down from the endless watch Dieter was waiting for him by Bocuse’s kitchen to deliver the coup de grace.

page 1262.

     ‘Good news, Trueman.  They found the missing seaman.  He wasn’t thrown overboard after all.  They found him sleeping in a spare bunk.  There wasn’t any need for you to stand that extra watch after all.’

     ‘Oh yea, Deiter.’  Trueman said truculently.  ‘Well, my bunk is where you’re going to find me.  I’ve been up for twenty-four hours straight and I’m going to get some rest and you’d better not say no.’

     Dieter was quite surprised at Trueman’s aggression and his guilt was such that he quickly acceded.  ‘Yeah, sure, Trueman, go ahead.  You’ve got my permission.’

     Treuman went back and climbed into his bunk.  Before he drifted off he saw the slimy little homosexual, Kanary, glide past his bunk.  The Yeoman wasn’t about to have his work undone now.

     Dieter was honest enough to tell him that he had given Trueman permission when the homo finked to him that Trueman was in his bunk.

     Returning to the Yeoman’s shack he fund Birons Morford staring out into space.  ‘The Shit is in his bunk sleeping.  Dieter gave him permission.’

     Morford lowered his gaze reflecting some disappointment when Norm Castrato, the Second Class Bos’n’s Mate climbed the ladder on his way to the bridge.

     The thought came naturally to Morford.  ‘Hey, Castrato, Trueman’s back in his bunk.  Why don’t you go get him on his feet.’

page 1262.

     ‘Yeah.  OK.’

     ‘Oh, by the way, wake him up by hitting his bunk hard llke this.’  Morford demonstrating the jolt that Trueman had been commanded by an officer to give his.

     Castrato, if you remember, back a scant nine months ors, had been humiliated by Trueman whe the latter had engineered the former’s stepping into a paint can in mess cooking.  Castrato also a master grudge nurser had never forgotten although Trueman had.  He would take great pleasure in disturbing Trueman’s sleep.  He knew that Dieter had authorized it but the order from an officer overrode that.  Castrato who was something of a legalist was within his rights.

     Going down the aft hatch he passed the head of Trueman’s bunk giving it a slam.  ‘Get up.  These are work hours.’

     ‘Shove it, Castrasto, Dieter said I could sleep.’

     ‘Oh, sorry.’  Castrato said with a malicious smile.

     But Trueman’s rest was disturbed, he couldn’t get back to sleep again.  At twelve they came to get him up as the ship passed North Island Naval Air.

     After six eventful months the Teufelsdreck was back in the USSA.  Trueman had survived what in many ways was a perilous voyage.  He was ragged but he was alright.

  End of Part V:   Our Lady Of The Blues.

I have some other things I want to post before I begin Parts I-IV.