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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.

Disco Donn Demands Deliverance

by

R.E. Prindle

Part II-3

     Turkish spies amongst the Jews learned of their Messianic hopes, one hesitates to call them intentions as there was little hope of success.  Sabbatai was called to Adrianople where the Sultan resided and there he apostasized to Mohammedanism.   He put on the white turban of the Moslems.  Thus redemption of Israel was once again placed in the indefinite future.  God wasn’t willing to forgive the transgressions of his people just yet.

     The future began to take shape in the wake of the great reorganization of society known as the French or Great Revolution.  In that great attempt to strike down all racial, national and class barriers the social disabilities  of the Jews, at least, were struck down.  The Jews were incorporated into the various states as full citizens.  This is known by the Jews as the emancipation of the Jews.  The difference being a matter of loyalties.  The states expected that the Jews would give their undivided loyalty to the appropriate State, much as the Catholics and Protestants did.  But the highest loyalty of the Jews remained Israel.

     The failure of Zevi had taught the Jews a lesson.  They saw the futility of relying on one man as a redeemer.  Henceforth the redemption would depend on the whole people.  The notion of Redeemer was transferred to the that of the Revolution.  Thus the Jews began working toward redemption through a revolution.  The Euroamericans gave this new millennial urge the name of the International Jewish Conspiracy.

     As the idea took shape in the mind of Israel, the Messiah of the Revolution would come in the years 1913-28.   Their plan was revealed time and time again.  There were intelligent sociologists in every State that recognized the plan.  They were apparently unable to explain the process satisfactorily in the face of Jewish obfuscation.  The Jews were able to denounce them as diseased, unbalanced, wacko anti-Semites.

page 101

     Thus the Jews made great progress during the nineteenth century ending in the seizure of the Russian State and the nearly successful takeover or all central and eastern Europe.  Every action creates a reaction which explains the intense reaction throughout the world toward the Jews during the years 1920-46.

     Lacking a territorial base or an army the Jews had to work by devious means.  The method was early exposed but on the surface is so risible as to appear ridiculous.  European sociologists said they were trying to get all the money through Capitalism while seizing control of the labor force by socialism or unionization.  No adequate explanation was offered so the sociologists became the butt of jokes.

     Several decades later the process is clear.  In fact Howard Sachar, a Jewish historian, explains it.  Here are two examples.  These are pertinent to the story because Norm and Art Barsky attempted the ruse against Dewey Trueman.

     IN 1859 the Italians wished to drive the Austrians from Italy.  At the time the Rothschilds and other Jewish financiers were at the apex of their success.  If they didn’t control the money markets they didn’t miss much.  Modern financial methods for raising money by the States did not yet exist so they were dependent on loans from the Jewish financiers.  Austria was especially dependent on the Rothschilds for loans.

     Thus while dissension was fomented in Italy, the Rothschilds refused to loan money to Austria.  With no money above the line the Austrians were unable to deal with dissension below the line.  Thus Jews controlled the politics of the situation through finances.  The Austrians were forced to retire from Italy.  The Jews were able to direct the course of European history to their own advantage unobtrusively from behind the scenes.

    The second instance involves the First Russian Revolution.  A war between the Jews and the Russian State had been going on for decades.  Industrialism had created a proletariat in Russia.  Russia was engaged in a contest for Manchuria with the Japanese.  The Japanese were unable to pursue their goals for lack of money.  A man called Jacob Schiff in the United States raised hundreds of millions of dollars of American money for the Japanese.  His efforts were abetted by the Jewish consortium of Europe.

     At the same time Schiff and others prevented loans being made to Russia.

     With the economic situation under control the Jews fomented strikes and rebellion on the labor front.  The result was that the enemy of the Jews, Russia, lost the war with Japan and had to change the structure of the government to placate the Jewish rebels.

     This procedure is known as getting the victim between the upper and nether jaws of the vice.  Once pinioned the victim can be filed into any shape at leisure. 

     The Jews of course denied everything and still do.  But just as the sociologists saw what was happening so did certain politicians.  Jewish history had been well studied by both the Germans and the Russians.  They were quite aware that a slaughter of the peoples would follow a Jewish victory as indeed did happen in Russia in the years following 1917.  Once again denied although as obvious as the Nazi death camps to anyone who wants to study the period.

page 103.

     Nineteen-seventeen to nineteen-twenty-four or so was the high tide of the redemption period.  Success seemed imminent.  The reaction however created two very strong personalities  in Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

     There were many signs that were to proclaim the Redemption.  Among them was the notion of Gog and Magog, great cataclysmic armageddons.  This prophecy was fulfilled by the two great wars bracketing the twenties and thirties.  Hitler’s contention was always that the Jews caused the wars.  He was probably correct.

     At any rate the Jews believed that they had isolated and surrounded the last great anti-Semite.  Stalin’s activities in Russia had not sunk in yet.

     In the United States the redemption was in full swing.  In 1899 the the founder of Reform Judaism in the United States, Isaac Meyer Wise, had predicted that the redemption would occur within twenty-five years.  The massive immigrationof Jews from the Pale gave the Jews an ample power base in the United States.  From 1913 to 1945 in a line of politicians from Woodrow Wilson through Al Smith to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Jews created the coalition they hoped to direct.  They did attain a position of great influence.

     Thus while Hitler and Stalin were tightening the screws on the Jews in Europe, in the United States the Jews were isolating all American nationalists and devout Christians under the names of Facscists and ‘anti-Semites.’  The only serious opposition to their program came from Henry Ford in the twenties.  He, in his American naivete, thought he could persuade the Jews to end their historical confrontation with Euroamerican society.  He was mistaken.  He was isolated and ostracized by his fellow Americans.

page 104

     There was not much active opposition to the Jews in the United States; after all Americans had always considered themselves neo-Hebrews.

     Nevertheless all dissident religious or nationalist voices were identified and isolated in an aggressive program of vilification.  In 1943 as Hitler and Stalin were destroying the Jews, those in America were calling for concentration camps to isolate the ‘anti-Semites.’  This is true.  In a country that had always prided itself on the separation of church and State the Jews were calling for laws outlawing dissenters from their religious views, or as they called them, anti-Semites.

     No one could have foreseen the extermination of Eastern and Central European Jewry.  Thus the Revolution as Redeemer failed as disastrously as Bar Kochba in Roman times and Sabbatai Zevi at the end of Medieval times.

     In the twenties and thirties the Jews believed that they were to come into their own in ‘America, my home sweet home.’  In the land of plenty, the plenty was to be at their disposal.  Everyone else would be their servant or slave.  A life of indolence and ease analogous to that enjoyed by the post-war Kuwaitis would be theirs.

page 105.

     Louis Barsky, Art’s father, exulted in the hope.  He implanted the expectation in Art who had been born in 1923.  Art grew up filled with the hope.  He was aquiver with hope as the war against the Axis began.  He really believed he would begin that life on V.E. day.  The stage was certainly prepared in the United States.

     In 1948 the ancient Jewish hope would be realized when the head and tail of Ouroboros were put in place as Israel became a Jewish State.

     One can only imagine the horror of the realization that the main body of the Ouroboros was crushed in Germany and the East.  Redemption had failed yet again.  The Revolution as Messiah was a bust.

     Art Barsky looked out on the world through tears of bitterness.  There was no life of ease for him.  He would have to work for a living unable to enjoy the plenty that he thought was rightfully his.  He had to work.  Oh, he did well enough.  He made a lot of money selling women’s nylon stockings.  But every year his bitterness and rage mounted.  He had his son Norman, the young lord.  Norm had graduated from college, married and fathered his own son in one fell swoop.

     Art had communicated his and Louis’ attitude to Norm.  But there seemed no way for Norm to realize his heritage.  Thus when Harry Grabstein called Art with his proposition concerning Dewey Trueman it was a godsend.

     Norm was briefed and sent West with his shiksa and child to claim his inheritance.  As Trueman didn’t realize that his business rightfully belonged to Norm some deception was required.

page 106.

     Getting hired was no problem.  Retail sales is an entry level position for high school dropouts and malcontents who can’t hold a job elsewhere.  Record stores in general draw the dreamy types, separated and withdrawn from objective reality.  As the term then was- spaced out.

     The recorded word has a tremendous appeal to them.  It is as though the voice of god speaks from the groove.  A standard story was of the guy who dropped a couple hits of acid, turned Black Sabbath’s album ‘Paranoid’ up to ten and saw god.

     The bands and singers were certainly thought of as oracles or prophets, super prescient people who understood the whole of the entire.  Thus singers told them truth directly.  Spoke to them through their stereos.   Ras le bol was one of the primary messages- screw it all.  Consequently these people didn’t stay on the job too long while they did as little work as possible while there.  Getting to work on time?  Who would buy that load of bullshit?

     Thus Norm, wearing the same outfit as in the mountains except that he had the de rigeur leather jacket of the times instead of the flowering vest and shirt, presented himself for employment.  He literally burst noisily into the store.  He asked for a job letting it be known that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  If Trueman hadn’t had an opening at the time he soon would have.  Norm Barsky presented a bizarre persona but it was a time of bizarre personas.  Trueman was curious as to his story.

page 107.

     Norm had more ambition than the listless drifting types Trueman normally saw.  He wasn’t creative but told what to do and how to do it he was capable of not only doing it one time but being able to repeat the action without repeated istruction.

     He quickly acquired greater responsibility, soon becoming Dewey Trueman’s manager.  This was all done within two months.  Things move fast in the the record business.  Tomorrow will soon be yesterday.  Sell them hits while they’re hot.

     Norm had began to organize the employees around himself and against Dewey as soon as he had been hired.  In fact he had the floor functioning smoothly for nearly the first time in the store’s history.  Trueman himself handled the buying and all the other chores but was unable to supervise the floor full time.  He was pleased with Norm’s performance.

     At the same time he noticed the alienation of the personnel from himself as Norm sought their loyalty.  When he became manager he could speak with the authority of ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it with Dewey.’  Thus as the store was actually his in his own mind he began to give liberties to the crew.  He allowed them to take records home gratis.  He gave Rolfe Kusinen money from the till to buy, or rather, upgrade, as it was known, his new stereo system.  Then, as Rolfe’s old records were scratched he allowed him to bring them back and exhange them for new records.  Norm backed his car up to the back door and loaded a few boxes in to pick up some pocket ‘change.’  Nor did he think he was stealing.  In his mind he already owned the store, Trueman was working for him.  Stealth was necessary because Trueman was not yet aware of the new arrangement.

pate 108.

     Norm quietly nudged aside Trueman’s influence with the sales reps.  He represented his assumption of power as an accomplished fact but urged them to keep it quiet as Trueman was sensitive to the fact.

     By early November he believed he was in the position for a takeover or, as he expressed it, ‘a palace revolution.’

     He told Dewey that his father was coming to town and that as, next to his father, he admired Dewey most of all he would like Dewey to meet his father.

     Thus as the nether jaw of the vice was prepared the upper jaw would hopefully soon be screwed down.  Dewey, by this time, was aware that Norm’s facade concealed some misdoings.  Intimations of difficultes were coming from both the floor and from the sales reps.  While nothing was said, different attitudes were projected.  He was beginning to have real difficulties adapting himself to the role of ‘Norm’s ’employee’ which role Norm unconsciously assumed.

     Out of consideration to Norm he agreed to meet his father.  They met over lunch at the Willametter River Inn.  Norm and Art arranged a late lunch so as to be undisturbed by other diners.  They sat in the far corner looking out over the river.  Dewey had his back to the restaurant.  Harry Grabstein drifted in to watch from an obscure position.

     Art Barsky now fifty was an embittered man.  Being a salesman is one of the toughest jobs in America.  One’s manhood and dignity are constantly being insulted.  There is no attitude except complete servility that will protect you from the slings and arrows.  If you’re completely servile you’re a failure as a salesman.

page 109.

     Art Barsky had taken refuge in a carney’s attitude.  He viewed his customers as stupid suckers while he was a wise manipulator.  The attitude meshed neatly with his disappointment in the failure of the Redemption.  His attitude was beginning to interfere with his salesmanship.  His best years were behind him.

     The face he presented to Trueman was quite similar to Lee J. Cobb in ‘Death Of A Salesman.’  Trueman had an intuitive dislike of the man.  He also now understood Norm Barsky better.

     Art began by talking down to Dewey.  Trueman responded coolly and laughingly showing his contempt for Art.  Barsky was not subtle enough to pick up on it.  Besides the script was already written.  All Trueman had to do was act his part.  Thus Art very nearly waived aside any civilities getting straight to the point. 

     ‘I’ve got to have my boy here established.’  He said bluntly.

     ‘Well, if has to quit…’  Dewey began.

     ‘No, not quit.’  Art sort of bellowed.  ‘But I can’t have him just working for you.’

     ‘Well, if has to quit…’  Dewey began again.

     ‘No.  Not quit.’  Barsky interrupted again.  ‘The way I see it is he’s indispensable; you can’t get along without him.  He needs something of a permanent nature.’

page 110.

     ‘Well, if he has to quit…’  Trueman began a third time.

     ‘No! Not quit, damn you.’  Barsky blundered on oblivious to objective reality.  ‘If he’s going to make your business for you he should have an interest.  Say, one half…’

     Dewey stared in disbelief.  Norm, who had been watching him intently took the look for one of fear and acquiescence.  Dewey wasn’t an actor in their movie but they didn’t realize it.  Norm kicked his father under the table to indicate they were on the right track.

     Trueman took Barsky for a fool.  His expression turned to a sardonic smile as he tittered a little laugh.

    ‘Oh yeah?  What kind of deal do you have in mind?’  He asked curiously.

     ‘Well we figure the business is worth ten thou but we also figure we’ll really make it boom with our expertise.  We’re Jews you know.  We don’t want you to be unhappy so we’ll give you a bonus making the business worth twenty-five thou but you’re going to have to take a salary cut.  Maybe half.’

     Dewey couldn’t believe his ears.  He valued the business highly perhaps exaggerating its worth but he wouldn’t have taken less than two hundred thousand and would have balked at that.  He had his own expansion plans based on his own expertise which up to this point had been considerable.

     His eyebrow shot up.  ‘Twenty-five thousand?  Cash or check?’  He said derisively.

     Norm’s face lit up.  He thought he was in.  He reached over and patted Dewey’s arm.

     ‘We’ll give you a note.’  the Old Con Man barked authoritatively.

page 111

     Dewey involuntarily blew air through his compressed lips giving the mistaken impression he was giving a bronx cheer.  A little spittle got on Art’s face.

     ‘Well, buddy,’ Dewey began derisively, ‘why don’t I just give you an interest?  You’re going to give me a note.  All that means is that you’ll pay me out of my own profits.  Since I’ve already got a hundred per cent of them do you really think I’ll settle for half and lose my salary by half at the same time?’

     Art stared at him viciously.  The audacity of this goi to balk a Prince of this Earthly Realm.  How long will we have to suffer these indignities he thought bitterly projecting every nuance of his thought into his facial expression.

     ‘I gotta go now.  See you back at the store, Norm.’

     The upper jaw of the vice was not to descend.  As in the macrocosm so in the microcosm the Redemption was balked.

     Norm looked questioningly at his father.  His father was stunned.  It wasn’t so much that they thought so little of their quarry, Trueman, it was just that like all con men they thought that they were so damned clever.

     ‘That guy’s a real prick.’  Art exclaimed defensively.

     ‘I told you so.’  Norm nodded.

     Prick or not they had lost the initiative.  All they could do was attempt to intimidate Trueman on the labor front; he couldn’t use their ‘captital.’

     Once in, of course, they would have used law suits and legal means to harass Trueman.  As Grabstein could control the judges, the town fathers wanted Trueman gone anyway, all decisions would have gone against Trueman.  Within a year he would have been locked out while the business accrued to Norm and Art for essentially nothing.

page 112

     The two were victims of their own fantasies.  They really believed that Norm was indispensable.  They really believed that the success of Trueman’s business was due to Norm.  The fact that the business had been a success before Norm got there was disregarded.  Such inscrutable obtuseness is scarcely to be believed, yet it is a normal state of affairs.

    Art and Norm devised a plan where the entire staff would quit on New Year’s Day.  Faced with the loss of the indispensable Norm and his crack crew Trueman would have to capitulate.  The palace revolution would be a success.  Trueman would have to deal with them on their own terms.  In order to get the Indispensable One back he would have to actually give them ownership.

     Norm’s ease in manipulating the crew reassured them of his abilities.  The Christmas season was begun.  This is the worst time for labor troubles in retail.  Dewey wanted to fire Norm or, at least get rid of him, but it was the wrong time.  He thought that the season might produce a gross of fifty thousand dollars.  He decided to tolerate Norm.  Norm and the crew, who thought the profit margin was much higher than it was, in the record business of the time the margin was only twenty to twenty-five percent, Dewey was at thirty, thought that Dewey would make ninety thousand or God only knows how much.

     Norm encouraged them to think that they were the reason for the store’s success.  He pressed Trueman hard for large bonuses.

page 113.

     Trueman, cursed with the orphan’s need to be loved, wanted to do what was right.  Like most nouveaux riches he felt guilty about his success.  The times were propitious to augment that feeling.

     It would appear from the narrative that Trueman was rolling in money but this wasn’t true.  He was being driven by a load of debt.  He had started with no money at all.  He had received no bank loans.  The growth had been very rapid.  The rate of expansion had him financially against the wall.  He was perpetually behind in his bills.  He really couldn’t spare the money but he allowed himself to be coerced into giving large bonuses.

     Norm took full credit with the crew which, indeed, was his right in this instance.  Now convinced that there were millions to be had he guaranteed the crew that he would double their wages if they followed him.  They readily consented.

     At closing on December 31 Norm delivered his ultimatum; either all wages were to be doubled, his tripled, or they would quite en masse none showing up for work on January second.

     The season was behind him.  January and February were slow months.  Trueman just said goodbye and had the locks changed.  he had a new crew by week’s end.

    Norm was incredulous.  Unbelieving.  Actually stunned as though running full tilt into a goal post.  But he thought that as he was indispensable Trueman would capitulate and call him back.  The fantasies that corrupt one’s mind.

     Norm’s failure destroyed his relationship with his shiksa wife.  She had been won mainly by by Norm’s tall talk of his abilities and future success.  She had been led to believe that she would be moving into Dewey’s mansion on the hill.  Now she lost faith in Norm completely.  When, two months later, it became apparent that Norm was not going to be called back; she packed her bags and took their son and moved back to LA where she had come from.

page114.

     Forced to accept reality, Norm’s sense of grandeur prevented him from accepting just a job.  Electric vehicles were a big topic then so Norm obtained a loan and opened a lot selling electric motor scooters.  Well, an idea whose time had come or not, no one bought them.

     The bank called Norm to discuss his lack of payments on the loan.  Norm always heeded fantastic solutions to any problem.  He had read an article about some guy who had been called in to make good a loan.  This guy, so the story went, stared coolly back into the banker’s eye and said:  Either you give me time to make the loan good which I will do, or you can have the business and you can’t run it.’  In the story the bank capitulated, the guy made good and everyone laughed about it later.  Real chutzpah.  I mean, wouldn’t you?

     Incredibly Norm tried this act.  The banker laughed, foreclosed and threw Norm out into the street.  Norm thought he had obtained the loan himself but naturally unbeknownst to him his father had co-signed for it through the good offices of Harry Grabstein.  The banker thought he was secure but he was never able to collect from either Art Barsky or Harry Grabstein.  So much for high finance in Norm’s life.  And for Art the Revolution as Redeemer sank into the sands like the Rhine before the ocean.  For him the third great messianic attempt became a sour, bitter, excoriating experience.  Goddamn everybody and everything, he thought.

page 115.

     Norm was still the unabashed hero of his own movie.  He had not only read ‘On The Road’ but most of Kerouac’s novels.  In a college town like Eugene they were especially popular.  If he couldn’t succeed in the business world, Norm could succeed as a bum.  There is no success like failure and failure is no success at all.  Norm could be part of the ‘rucksack revolution.’  He embraced the notion behind Kerouac’s novel:  The Dharma Bums.  Don’t you just love Kerouac.  Norm became Dharma Bum.

     Somehow Donn sensed the real story behind Bum’s story of woe in capitalist society.  There was that about Bum that bespoke delusional fantasy.

     Having finished his beans, Bum rolled himself what he called a splif from what he said was Thai-stick tea.  A splif is a Jamaican marijuana joint as big as a cigar; Bum’s spliff was slight larger than a pencil lead.  As with the beans he didn’t offer Donn any.  As he talked and smoked he unbuttoned his fly.  As he had no underwear on his dong flopped right out.

     Finishing one ‘spliff’ he rolled himself another.

     ‘This Thai shit is really potent.’  He said.

     ‘Let’s see.’  Donn said reaching out his hand.

     ‘Uh uh.’  Bum said pulling the joint back.  ‘I’ve got a different number for you to suck on.’  He said, indicating his penis in his best John Wayneish movie tough guy talk.

page 116.

     Donn just sat there looking at him in wonder.  Who does this guy think he is?  He thought.

     Dharma Bum, in fact, thought he was faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, hold back freight trains by main force.  But since he couldn’t find a job as a brain surgeon or bank president because of the stupidity of capitalism he had chosen the life of the wandering mystic.  The Holy Bum who though he appeared to be beneath society was actually superior to it.

     ‘Assume the position.’ He commanded with quiet authority, taking a long toke on his ‘splif.’

     Donn looked steadily back and shook his head no.

     ‘Assume the position, damn it! Bum bellowed.

     Donn didn’t move.

     ‘Don’t try to balk me son-of-a-bitch.  Assume the position.’  Bum half commanded, half whined.  At the same time he grabbed a stick and began to belabor the sitting Contrales.

     Donn leaped to his feet beneath the stinging blows to land a stiff right on Bum’s outhrust chin.  Dharma Bum fell to the ground unconscious.  He flew over backwards striking his head on an outcrop.  He was dead as he settled to the ground.

     Donn in his agitation bent over with his hands on his knees to collect his senses.  As he did he noticed that Bum didn’t seem to be breathing.  Yes, Donn ascertained, Bum was dead.  Donn had killed two men in one week.  Serial killer.  Once again it was self defense, but who would believe him.  All of the circumstantial ‘evidence’ would be against him.  There would be no one to believe his story.  He felt a rising sense of panic, of fear and loathing, as he looked down on the dead body of Dharma Bum.

page 117

     The outcropping was a ledge between which and the ground, between the upper and nether jaws of the vice as it were, there was a gap almost big enough to admit a man’s body.  In frustration and anger Donn grabbed Bum’s body, backing up a couple steps he ran forward thrusting the head and torso into the opening.   The body jammed at the chest.  Try as he might he could force Bum’s body in no further.  Totally frustrated he delivered three sharp kicks to Bum’s dead ass.

     ‘Back under the rock you crawled out from you goddamned bum.’

     Then, as the first light of dawn illuminated the mountain tops Donn dusted himself off as best he could to catch another ride to take him a little further down the road.

     In what must have been a reenactment of Cain and Abel, this time when Abel’s blood called out there was no answering voice from heaven.  Bum just lay there and rotted until his skeleton was shrouded in flowery rags.

     Donn became depressed at the thought of the two killings which he now thought of as murders.  He presented a wild disheveled appearance beside the road.  Still he got rides but they were short and the duration between them was long.  Three days later found him in a gas station on the east side of Graig, Colorado lonely, forlorn and despondent.  It wasn’t so much that his head ached or that his body throbbed in pain.  Donn was hurting mentally even more. 

page 118.

     Donn walked across the lot of the gas station to use the toilet.  He entered, washed and shaved.  As he was drying off the door opened and a smashing older gent entered.  He was tall, lean, athletic looking.  He had hair half grey amidst the dark blonde strands.  He had one of those long headed chisel faces that represented manly beauty to Donn.

     Rather than despising him he gave him a warm smile.  Then some small gesture conveyed the message the gent was in the mood.   Donn didn’t prefer the catamite role but in his lonely desolation any affirmation of worthiness was enough.  He entered the stall followed by the gent.

     Wordlessly they went about their business.  For some reason, perhaps an unconscious need to be discovered the gent hadn’t latched the door.  Suddenly the latrine door burst open as three men, two with cameras and tape recorders rushed in.  Donn’s heart stopped.

     The latrine doors were forced open as cameras whirred and clicked. 

     ‘Well, Senator, what do we have here?’  The first man sneered.

     Donn who believed he was the target was puzzled by being called Senator, then the truth dawned on him.

     ‘Senator Richard Walker, is this the kind of secret life you lead?’

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     Donn saw that they were paying him scant attention so scooting across the floor while trying to get his pants up he fled the scene.

     He picked up a copy of the Coloradan next afternoon to discover a picture of State Senator Walker pulling up his pants in the toilet of the gas station.  Donn was clearly recognizable.  Apparently Dick Walker, unable to bear the pressures and humiliations of public life had been relieving his stress in this manner over the past several months.  His enemies had finally caught up to him.  Not unrelieved, he quietly disappeared from public life.

     Donn finally found himself in Denver after the most adventurous trip.  He’d had too much adventure.  He wanted to be in St. Louis safe as a TV anchorman.  Considering that he believed himself a wanted man it hadn’t occurred to him that a major city TV screen was not the best of hiding places.

     As bad as Donn was he was no worse than his fellows so that there is no reason not to extend him a little sympathy.   Within the context of his society he was suffering grievously for a minor peccadillo.  His state of mind was severely darkened by the sequence of events since leaving Portland.  He was struggling to keep his mental equilibrium.  At odd moments he had to struggle to keep back the tears.  His physiognomy increasingly showed the strain he was under.  Stress lines appeared where none had been before.

     By the time he reached Denver despair of the present and the hope of the TV job in St. Louis, which had now become a fixation in his mind, drove him from the road.  He couldn’t take it anymore.  The bus or the train would have been cheaper but Donn wanted to get above it all while recapturing for a blissful moment his past glory.  He decided to fly.

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     He spent the night in a motel to rest and cleanup before he went into the airport to buy a ticket.  He expected to just walk on.  He was somewhat stunned when he was told the price was four hundred dollars.  As he stood open mouthed blinking in astonishment the clerk said:  But if you wait two days I can sell you a ticket for sixty-eight dollars or a non-refundable ticket for forty-two..

    Donn’s motel room was only eighteen dollars.  He could stay two days, eat frugally and save a lot.  He decided to do that.  He foolishly gave the clerk his real name.

     He left the airport in a confused state of mind.  ‘For a twenty dollar discount they lay claim to the whole fare.   What kind of Ever Ever Land dealing is that?  How does anybody get away with claiming they get paid for nothing if you don’t show because they gave a discount on nothing?

     Something had happened in American thinking; Donn was right about that, but he didn’t know the half of it.  He was too troubled in mind to wonder why a walkon ticket should cost four hundred dollars whan an advance reservation dropped down to sixty dollars.  How had the airline’s costs been reduced by a two day delay on boarding?  Obviously the authorities wished to limit free and unrestricted travel.  Most people pay by credit card giving advance notice of who will be on what plane.  Although Donn had paid cash he he had given his right name.

     Due to the wonders of computerization his name was flagged in a nationwide memory bank.  Even though he had done nothing wrong- the charges against his name had been shelved- there were those who wished to know his doings.  Thus Maggie, who was watching the flags carefully, picked up Donn’s movement the same afternoon.  Donn’s flight originated in Portland.  Maggie put a man on board in the seat next to Donn’s.  A little spoonful of his excrement was given to the flight attendant to put in Donn’s food along with instructions to be out of whatever his first selection was,  whatever he requested they were to give him something else.  These games get incredibly petty.  Twenty-two years of schooling and you’re still a psychotic moron.

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     Donn did little the two days but lay around his motel room, rolling about trying to fight his way out of the despondency which was saturating his mind like black ink diffusing through clear water.  Everything showed on his face but even looking in the mirror Donn was unable to discern it.

     He was too preoccupied to notice the glow of anticipation in Maggie’s man, Wally Reid’s eyes.  Reid was there to fid out Donn’s plans and torment him.

     Donn didn’t want to talk but Reid amiably persisted.  Beyond the fact that he was bound for St. Louis Reid got nowhere.  As Donn despised airline food he declined his tray foiling Maggie’s plan of special nutrition.  Maggie correctly thought that Donn thought he was a fugitive from justice so he had Reid tell stories of fugitives being betrayed by some inconsequential quirk and caught.  He even explained the flagging system to Donn.

     By the time the plane landed Donn was aquiver with anxiety.  He expected to be arrested when he disembarked.  When he wasn’t he half dismissed Reid’s chatter, while making plans for job hunting.

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     Psychology is difficult to account for.  Donn had the most sanguine hopes of landing the job as news anchorman.  He still hadn’t figured out that anonymity and a TV personality don’t go together.  In order to be successful in his job hunt he believed, quite rightly of course, that he would have to make a good appearance.  Maintaining the appearance for any length of time would deplete his resources, but counting on landing a job quickly Donn went ahead with style.

     He checked into a good hotel, better than he needed, and bought himself a very nice suit, also better than he needed, shirts, shoes and ties.  He made appointments for interviews.  These were all delayed a couple days to give the stations time to check up on him.  The flag came up.

     The manager of the first station, who was only a member of the Old Boy network, figured he had enough troubles of his own without adding Donn’s so he declined politely sending Donn on his way.  The manager of the second station was a member of both the Jewish and Homosexual networks but not the Old Boy.  Maggie got in touch with him.  He arranged to be in the studio when Donn was there.

     This interview went very smoothly.   Wesley Cohn expressed great interest in Donn.  He asked him to come back in two days for a screen test.  Informed that there would be an opening and he was a very good possibility Donn was delighted.  He bounced out of the studio muttering Eureka! under his breath.

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     Maggie who knew how much Donn had withdrawn from the bank intended to string him along till it was gone.  If Maggie hadn’t had contacts at UNB he had his own hacker who could penetrate any system.  Imagine passing laws against such things.  One might as well pass laws against the sun setting in the West.

     Donn showed up for the test.  He was actually very good.  He had the looks, he projected a confident, affable, knowledgeable image.  The studio workers were very impressed.  Donn, watching anxiously, was sure they were sincere.  He was told to call back in a couple days.  Then he was invited to dinner with the manager, the news director and his assistant.  They went to the best restaurant in St. Louis.  After a friendly, jovial dinner full of many yaks it came time for the bill.

     Cohn slapped his pockets a couple times saying:  ‘Donn, you know what?  I left my wallet at home.  Say, Donn, you couldn’t…’

     Everyone watched with suppressed mirth as Donn gulped and his face fell. But they were surprised.  Donn waxed indignant:  ‘You don’t have have an account here?  Why at the Daily Assassin, he said giving himself away somewhat, ‘we had accounts at all the best restaurants.  We just had to sign for it.  That’s the way it’s done in professional circles.  That’s how any company that knows does it.  Mingo wouldn’t have any problem.’

     Mirth fled their faces as they shook their heads and uttered low ‘ummms.’

     ‘Right.  Of course I can sign.  I forgot about that.’  Cohn replied.

page124.

     Out on the street he said:  ‘That was a test too, Donn, you’re doing fine.  Call you in a couple days.’

     Donn’s funds were running low.  He could no longer afford to wait.  He called the next day to be informed that although he was perfect they were bringing in a Black woman from Detroit.  They thought she would give the station the proper social balance.

    Well…now Donn was both down and out.

IV.

Off  The Track

 

How is it that I have come up to here

And I’m still fallin’

-The Byrds

I deplore brutality he said.  It’s not efficient.  On the other hand prolonged mistreatment, short of physical violence, gives rise, when skillfully applied, to anxiety and a feeling of special guilt.

-William S. Burroughs

     Donn now didn’t know which way to turn.  He could call his dad down in Waco but that would be truly a last resort, admitting defeat.  Besides maybe even his dad would stiff him after the manner in which he had left.  Donn was at a loss.  He didn’t know why but he got out on the highway heading North through Iowa.  Keokuk, Waterloo and up the Mississippi.

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     Maggie had a man pick him up to learn his plans if possible.  He dropped Donn off halfway to Keokuk using his CB to inform Maggie who was about five miles behind.  When Maggie sighted Donn he edged to the side of the road forcing Donn to step back.  He averted his face as he passed laughing a vengeful laugh.

     Donn couldn’t be sure, of course, but there had been no mistaking that gold hair.  Donn still hadn’t analyzed the implications of that computer that had sat on his desk.  If he had he would have realized that there is no such thing as paranoia in the modern world.  It’s all true.  Stalking is a way of life.

     Hitching a ride in suit clothes and fine shoes is the toughest kind of hitching of all.  After all why would a guy who could afford good clothes hitchhike unless he was just godawful cheap?  The only reason to hitch is if you’re down and out or in the Service.  Donn had a terrible time getting rides.  When he did the drivers were all disrespectful.  Hence he found himself in Keokuk way out on Johnson St. Road miles from downtown.  Everything is always funny when it happens to someone else.  Donn had always found stories such as this amusing but now that it was happening to him he lamented the fact that others would have the laugh.  Other people elsewhere were having a good chuckle.  So life goes on.

     Donn oriented himself tothe East and began walking toward the Mississippi.  The evening was sultry and warm.  Great billowy clouds, white on the edges passing through symphonies of greys sailed proudly across the bright blue sky.  The trees and grass shown green.  Natural beauties abounded.  Donn’s gloomy frame of mind turned all brown and seer.

page 126.

     But a bit of good fortune fell on him.  As he trudged up the road he approached the house of Phineas Elonginus Pillbender.  Phineas had suffered a terrible childhood.  He had been in foster homes and an orphanage.  Although life had kicked him about much more severely than he or anyone else deserves he had never given way to self-destructive impulses.

      Against all odds he had constructed the type of life he most admired.  His spirit was epitomized in the almost surrealistic beauty of his house and grounds.  He had an acre and a half, his house standing on a little rise in the middle of the lot.  It was painted the strangest color blue, the numerous shutters white.  The house sparkled, as he washed it frequently.  A white picket fence enclosed his yard.  The edges of the pickets were also painted blue.  The fence too shone splendidly.  The impossibly well kept lawn with the medium sized apple tree caused many a passerby to stop and stare.

     A red brick walkway curved up to the house from the mailbox which was painted blue with a little border of flowers across the bottom and Phineas Elonginus Pillbender inscribed in quaint lettering, having a Land of Oz effect.

     The driveway leading to the garage was carefully constructed to look natural.  The concrete slab was sunk three inches below the surface being carefully graveled and cindered to look rural.  Pillbender raked it three times weekly.

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     He was too perfect for his neighbors.  A big gash invariably disfigured his driveway while one or two pickets were always hanging loose.  Pillbender left them after having learned he must make at least this concession to his neighbor’s envy.  They had no intention of maintaining their property so carefully nor were they about to be made to look sloppy by their own fastidious neighbor.

     Farmer Pillbender stood, corncob pipe in the mouth of a face surrounded by an Abe Lincoln beard, in the red brick walkway leading to his front door.  His thumbs were stuck in the straps of his overalls.  He wasn’t really a farmer, it was a pose he affected.  He actually worked as a tool and die maker in town.

     He saw Donn Contrales in his fine pants carrying his jacket under his arm coming down the road.  Rather than having been embittered by his life experiences Farmer Pillbender was a kindly if brittle man.  His workmates called him ‘prickly.’  Like many who had borne a heavier cross than his back could support he passed his burden on to Jesus.  He was a serious and good Christian.  He often hummed:  What a friend we have in Jesus, all our griefs and sins to bear, as he went about his chores.

      He mistakenly sized Donn up as a good man who’d gotten a tough break.  Pillbender hailed Donn at his gate.  After a few minutes palaver he invited Donn in for supper and a bed for the night.

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     As the outside of Pillbender’s house shone so was the inside glorious.  The hardwood floors were radiant.  The colonial style early American furniture was immaculately kept.  The fire place floor was freshly scrubbed.   The grate had been sanded and painted.

   As one’s eyes moved up the fireplace front to the mantle a large sign, six feet long, eighteen inches high proclaimed in red, white and blue bunted letters:

F U C K  C O M M U N I S M

     Above it was a large plain white cross.  One knew where Farmer Pillbender stood.

     Donn arose the next morning which as hot as an oven, humid as hell, grateful for at least a chance to rinse off and shave.  He thanked Farmer Pillbender and took his leave.  As the neighbors had seen him enter the house the night before they now stood at their windows or in their yards to look him over.  A number of childred stood in the street.

    Among them was Billy Treska.  Billy was eight.  He had been violated by a big neighbor kid a week before.  The seduction had been rude, verging on rape, while the subsequent rejection had made him feel contemptible.  He was in the throes of emotional distress unable to adjust to his emasculation.  The sight of Donn, forlorn and forsaken, awoke feelings of kinship in his tortured mind.  As Donn walked by Billy slipped his hand in Donn’s in a love gesture.

     Billy didn’t know what he was doing or why.  His act was unconscious while his motives were unknown to him.  In the way of homosexuality he was seeking affirmation of his worth by seeking a surrogate of the lover who had seduced and rejected him.  Donn looked down in shock as he recognized the meaning of the gesture.  While Donn had never had an inclination for little boys, now, conscious of his own identity and the eyes of the neighbors about him, he jerked his hand rudely away whereas at another thime he might have been more sympathetic.

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     Billy, unable to understand his own motives or Donn’s rejections took the move as a further indication of his worthlessness.   He was completely shattered and crushed.  He ran from Donn howling and crying, causing dismay in the spectators.  In later life Billy would end up a curbstone cutie in San Francisco with silicon breasts.

     As the boy turned sobbing and ran away the whole scene was misinterpreted by Mrs. Elizabeth Anderson.  She believed and would swear that Donn had made an attempt to abduct the boy, possibly for ransom.  That Donn was a bum, albeit a well dressed bum with really nice shoes, was proof sufficient.

     As Donn walked downtown slowly in the heat Mrs. Anderson tracked him at a distance.  As he stood at the corner of Seventh and Main aimlessly plotting his next move, perhaps even getting a job somewhere in town to gather his senses and accumulate a few dollars, Mrs. Anderson with a policeman by the arm pointed him out to the cop saying:  ‘That’s him.’

     Fearful of being picked up on the charges he thought were pending in Oregon Donn blanched a whiter shade of pale acting extremely guilty.  The officer who had nothing on Donn except Mrs. Anderson’s confused story hesitated.  As he did so an officious self-righteous townsman announced in a stentorian voice:  You better move on.

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     The police officer and the crowd automatically acquiesced in the sentiment of the speaker.   They stepped back to make room for Donn to move on.

     Donn’s motor responses were affected by the repetitious humiliations that are impossible to bear with equanimity no matter how cool the victim may appear.  Donn moved off not smartly but with a shambling gait.  The pavement seemed so uneven that Donn couldn’t raise his feet high enough to keep from scraping over the pavement.  As he reached the other side of the street he tripped over the curb and turned to look back at the faces sternly set against him.  Unconciously he hunched over, back curved, and with one hand clumsily hitched up his pants, confessing to his feeling of emasculation.  He had fallen far but he was still far from the bottom.

     As he hitched up the road to Waterloo he realized for the first time that he was penniless.  He hadn’t the means to buy a meal; he had no place to sleep but in the jungles with other bums, under overpasses, wherever those off the track congregated.  That was pain that Donn couldn’t face.  Even though with the proper attitude and his boxing skills he could easily have dominated any such crowd.  He could have been King of the Jungles.

     Thus Donn avoided those places although he soon learned where they would be.

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     Maggie had fixed his location.  There was a transmitter in the heel of Donn’s spiffy shoes.  Thus even as Donn entered a town he was surprised to find that it seemed as though he was expected.  It seemed as though everyone knew him already.  The police seemed to be waiting for him, members of the various networks were on the forces.  Donn was arrested.  He was, of course, anxious that the Portland charges would be brought against him.  Of course they never were which Donn attributed to good luck.  Donn was held overnight and released the next afternoon with the advice that he’d better move on; he’d better keep going.

     Thus Donn’s psyche was further impaired as he became familiar with jail cells and the rough jail crowd.  He began to wonder what he had done to deserve such cruel treatment.  By so doing he made a wrong turn.  He should rather have asked who is doing this and why.  It should have been obvious to him that he actually was recognized and that someone was stalking him.  Instead he took the blame on himself.  The notion began to flicker through his mind that perhaps he actually had wronged Maggie by not admitting him on that night.

     While his mind toyed with the notion his former life became distant and unrecognizable to him but the memory of which he cherished.  As he wandered hungry and friendless he remembered the lesson that Sandy Tyler had taught him.  He began scrounging the dumpsters for discarded food.  As this was a necessity he didn’t consciously take it seriously but subliminally his whole being revolted at the practice.

    Thus one night in Waterloo he was scrounging a Kroger dumpster when an extraordinary thing happened.  As he leant over into the dumpster to seize some half rotten bananas it seemed as though his cherished old existence, the real Disco Donn Contrales, slid over his back, down his arms off into the garbage.  Donn was astonished, realized he was losing his former self and lunged after it as it disappeared into the bottom of the dumptser.

page 132.

     He upended himself, his torso in the dumpster half immersed in the garbage while his feet threshed the air.  The door beside the dumpster opened to reveal the grocery manager.

     ‘Hey, what you doing there?’  The manager yelled, laughingly attempting to stuff Donn further into the dumpster.

     Donn was horrified to be caught scrounging in the dumpster.  Claxons went off in his mind at the humiliation.  He kicked free scrambling from the dumpster, lettuce and produce spilling off him, his hands clutching the squashed bananas oozing through his fingers.

     As he ran it seemed as though his body crusted and cracked apart leaving a smaller replica of Donn running through the night.  Then it happened again and yet once more.  Thus when Donn stopped running two or three miles down the road while his stature was the same as before, psychologically Donn was a much smaller man.  He felt only two feet tall while remaining five-eight.  The effect was invisible to all but the discerning eye.

     There Donn stood amidst the faint smell of decaying vegetable matter, bits of garbage clinging to his hair and clothes, his hand oozing banana slime.  Humiliation and shame engulfed his being.  His shame would not allow him to use a service station toilet to clean up; he might have to ask for the key.  He cleaned his hands as best he could on some leaves.  Then he set out to find some stream in which to clean up.

page 133.

     He was so ashamed, so in shock, that he would no longer walk the highways for fear that someone might offer to pick him up.  Instead he sought the railway tracks.  Following them he came to a trestle over a small creek.  He scrambled down the embankment in hopes of washing the corruption from him.

     As chance would have it this was the spot chosen by the Mankato Kid for his resting place for the evening.  Just as Donn was about to begin his ablutions a snarling voice cursed at him.

     ‘Hey, son-of-a-bitch, what do you think you’re doing using my creek.  Get the hell out of my face.  This my place, my place.  Get out!’

     Donn turned toward the voice to see a spectral form lurking on the far side of a small fire.  The image matched the voice.  The form was turned sideways, stooped, its head tossed and bowed like a beaten cur who still had the spirit of resistance in him but had been cruelly taught the futility of expressing it.

     Donn was still in the thrall of his experience at the dumpster.  His mind was paralyzed.  He had not yet begun his rebound from the experience of having lost his former self and feeling so small, perhaps two feet high.  He knew that this was no man to intimidate him yet his confidence was gone.  Nevertheless he answered bravely, if shakily:  ‘This is a free country, buddy, I’ve got just as much right to be here as you.’

page 134.

     ‘Free country?  Free country is it?’ the Kid roared, or attempted to roar in his snarling defensive manner.  ‘Well, you’re full of shit, Jack.  Free country is it?  I’ll tellyou how free it is.  No freer than Nazi Germany.  No freer than Communist Russia.  We’re just niggers working on the Man’s plantation here.  If you’re not born to it they won’t let you have it.  Take your ‘free’ country and shove it up your ass.

     The only difference between the Nazis and the Commies and us is the style.  We just do it different.  Here they make you think you’re free but it’s all on credit from the company store.  You’re free to work for the company so you can make money for them.  Then you have to give all your earnings back to the company store to pay off your credit.  Then without money you go into debt with more credit from the company store.  That song sure was right:  You load sixteen tons and what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt.

     If you’re man enough to protest they kill you.  They shot down the hardrock boys of the WFM (Western Federation of Miners) in Colorado just because they didn’t want to be in debt to the company store.  Shot ’em down.  Open warfare.  Never was nothing like in Germany or Russia.  Then just because the Wobblies tried to organize the Stiffs they got really mean.  Drove us out of our houses at Holly Grove then turned machine guns on us while we slept in our tents.  Burned our wives and children live at Ludlow.  And laughed about it, the dirty bastards.  Dumped hundreds of miners out in the desert without water at Bigby (Bisbee, Arizona) and told ’em to keep movin’ on, the heartless bastards.  All because we wanted a living wage.  Free country!  Look at what happened to me…

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     As though reminding himself of what they had done to him the Mankato Kid appeared to see a vision.  Anger flooded his heart obscuring his vision.  He began punching the air in a violent shadow boxing match.  His snarling roar boomed and bleated out:  Leave me alone you bastards.  Get out of here, go on, get out of here.’

     Even if Donn had been himself there would have been no reason to stay but diminished as he felt, reacting to the horrors of the past several weeks more than through fear of the Kid Donn turned and fled.  He skipped over the shallow creek on the stepping stones placed there by the bums, or homeless as they are now known.

     The Mankato Kid punched away at the air for a few moments before his crazed mind resettled allowing him to sit.  There he continued to grumble his compaints into the fire.  Unlike so many bums who had never had the stature to make a serious attempt at life the Kid had been seriously wronged.

     He actually came from Mankato which is in Minnesota.  He was now in his fifties.  He had been driven out of Mankato just as he was turning thirty.  He had spent all those years circling Mankato, the city of his dreams.  He never went further and he never came closer.  he never got saner and he never got crazier.  He was just shadow boxing his life away.

page 136.

     His parents had been Polish immigrants who had drifted out to Mankato.  His father had been a square little man of five-five.  His mother had been a big buxom, very good looking woman with peasant manners.  They had given birth to the Kid and an older child, a daughter, Mary.  As Poles they differed in religion, speech and manners from the Swedish population.  In those days Northern immigrants considered the Eastern and Southern European immigrants as Untermenschen.  No, that’s not too strong.  the attitude was quite similar to the Nazi attitude toward non-Germans.  Immigrants were reviled, beaten and chased from pillar to post.  They were subject to massive displays of contempt.

     When the Kid was twelve his father was bullied into a fight in a bar and killed.  Murdered might not be too strong a word although  technically he was given the opportunity to defend himself in a fight.  Still, he was impeded by the jeering circle of spectators while his Anglo adversary was assisted.  His death was termed accidental.  No one ever stood trial.  Nor was the knife wound in his kidney ever explained or even acknowledged.  He was just Polack dirt.

     Ballard Quincy, one of the big men in town, sought to solace the Kid’s mother in her distress.  She advanced on Quincy with a frying pan, able only to deliver a glancing blow off his retreating shoulder.

    Ballard Quincy did not take rejection kindly.  Like many of his kind rather than attack her he sought revenge on her children.  They became the targets of  ‘polite’ society.  Mary who was more attractive even than her mother was easily seduced by the boys from the right side of the tracks.  She became the school whore.

     Efforts were made to train the Kid to think ill of himself.  He was offered a dollar a customer to steer them into a house of which Quincy had a rake off in the red light district of Mankato.  There he was allowed shots of whiskey.  He, as a boy of character,  quickly perceived that he had been misled.  he abondoned the ‘job’ with a fit of indignation.

     The damage had been done.  He had been associated with that ‘element.’  He had defamed himself.  He fought gallantly to remove the taint, but the best families led by Quincy had irrevocable set their faces against him.  He was denied and interfered with all through high school, which he completed.  His sister’s reputation was constantly thrown in his face.

     But he believed in the myth of America, of Horation Alger, of luck and pluck.  He had been taught that life was what you made it and if you didn’t make it you had no one to blame but yourself, if things didn’t go your way it was your own fault.  So he kept his chin up, braved the ridicule heaped on him and kept hoping for the main chance such as it was in Mankato.  And then it happened.  In the post-war years TV came onto the scene.  As with any new item business peopled looked at it, decided it wouldn’t last and left the field open to outsiders.

     As Henry Kaiser’s cement trucks rolling down the East Bay proudly proclaimed: Find a need and fill it.  The Kid saw the need and rushed to fill it.  He opened a TV sales and repair shop.  He did well.  He could see his rise in society.  He proceeded to develop an open and generous character.  But at the first glimmer of prosperity the better people sprang into action against him.  He was slandered, sabotaged and not allowed to prosper.  He fought on.  Driven out of TV he tried a couple other lines but he was boycotted.  No one in that small town would buy from him.  Driven half mad by the abuse and injustice he had experienced he took to the road which is where Donn encountered him.

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     Donn had scrambled up the bank fleeing across country.  In his terror he crashed through the brush and across fields.  Then tearing wildly through a wood his foot slipped.  He tumbled over falling down a slope into a sort of pit or sinkhole.  He slid and tumbled down about twenty feet coming to an abrupt stop.

     ‘Well, good evening.’ Said a mellow voice.  ‘Nice of you to drop in.’

     In his agitated state of mind the sudden fall into the hole, or rather, head of a ravine, he was completely disoriented.  He stumbled about dizzily for some several moments attempting to determine up from down.  Finally getting his behind on the ground his eyes peered out in the sky above the narrow rim of the ravine.  As he accommodated his senses to his situation all across the universe the stars roared and popped.  Had one been able to hear and see the incredible noise and heat of the incandescent firestorms sweeping their surfaces one would have been astounded.  As the huge balls of fire hurled incandescent streamers far out into space to be retracted by their gravity with a report sharper than the sharpest report of a whip magnified thousands of times.  The released light went spreading through the black oblivion on an endless chase through space.  Losing its heat through the eons of space travel, the light from far distant stars now seemed to twinkle merrily as the laughing stars played with Magic Sam’s laughing dice.

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     The light sped past the bright marigold of the full moon reflecting the light of this system’s solar furnace past the man made debris circling the earth, down past the great mainliners escorting smiling people across the skies eight miles high.  The light passed the light planes and birds to penetrate dimly into the hole that Donn and the Roving Gambler were in.

     ‘Allow me to introduce myself,’ the voice said with exquisite manners and a BBC English accent, ‘I am the Roving Gambler, at your service.’

     Donn, still dazed, grunted something that could be taken for a greeting.

     ‘And you are Donn Contrales.’  The Gambler continued laughingly.

     Donn gave a start at the novelty of being recognized by a man he had never seen in a hole he’d never been in before.  Involuntarily he began to rise to flee.

     ‘Oh, no no.  No!  My goodness.  Sit down Donn and let me explain.  You are talking to, or rather, listening to a very extraordinary man.  You are surprised that I recognize you, yet your picture appeared daily in the Oregon Assassin.  I spend much time in libraries pursuing my various studies.  While there I leaf through the papers of the whole country plus foreign nations.  I have a very good memory for names and faces plus I have fabulous, I might say, total recall.  I recognized you immediately even before you ceased that infernal tumbling.’

page 140.

     Donn, mouth open, tongue out stared at the Gambler stupidly.  His mind was only beginning to stop swirling.  What he saw was the slender (imperially slim, as the Gambler would say) tall figure of a man lounging against a rock before a small fire reading, or at least holding, a newspaper in front of him.  He was dressed in cream colored pants, cream colored buccaneer cut shirt with a red and blue paisley ascot.  His long rectangular face was surmounted by a wavy shock of blond hair which fell to his shoulders.  His high expanse of forehead would have excited envy in those who take such things as indication of nobility.  A blond mustache was placed between his fine aquiline nose and lips neither too thin, too thick, too wide or too narrow.  In short the Roving Gambler was a strikingly handsome man.  As he put it he was one of nature’s noblemen, too good for this world.

     The Gambler’s vanity was the source of his discomfort with the world.  He came from Virginia where his ancestry could be traced back to the Cavaliers of 1660 in an unbroken line on both father’s and mother’s sides.  He had been an outstanding student at the University of Virginia.  Thus one might say he had had everything propitious for a great start in life- looks, family, training.  Unfortunately for the Gambler he thought because of these assets that he was entitled to a place at the top.  Refused the job of bank or corporate presidency fresh out of school he was indignant that if would be required of him to work his way up, albeit from a reasonably good starting point.  Consequently, rather than be a ‘peon’ he took to the road immediately after graduation where he had been ever since.  He was now fifty-three.

page 141.

     The Gambler was extremely vainglorious and boastful.  He delighted in the incongruous.  The creation of the juxtaposition of extremes was his joy.

     ‘Here my boy, would you like a taste of my champagne?’  He said, handing Donn the bottle.  ‘Some pate, perhaps? and some caviar?’ He flipped Donn a can of tinned pate, then handed him a ‘biscuit’ covered in caviar.  Donn who was quite hungry wolfed everything down.

    ‘Oh, ha ha, you thought perhaps I was an ordinary bum.  No, no, no.  Au contraire, mon petit.  I am quite an extraordinary bum.  You will never see my like again.  Once in a million years, my boy, once in a million years.  I greet you by name, hmm?

     Yes, I solved the riddle of life long ago.  You may think you’re talking to a penniless bum.  Well, you’re not.  I happen to be a very pennied bum.  I have thousands- modestly forbids I meantion how many thousands- of dollars in dozens of banks throughout the country.  I have a portfolio of stocks and bonds that would excite the envy of many a speculator.

     Ah, you stare in disbelief.  Well, I’m used to it.   All of these bindlestiffs think the same.  They have no imagination, no skills, no art.  I am gifted.  When out of Virginia they refused my due I knew I would be as rich as they and much more free, unbeholden to anyone, as it were, as it is.

page 142.

     My solution was just to demand they give me the money, and so they did.  I merely approach and say:  Give me money.  And they do.  I’m extraordinarily successful.  You may be sure it’s true when I tell you that in one three day stretch in Chicago I once took in over two thousand dollars.  Two thousand, ninety-eight dollars to be exact, forget the small change.  I put it all in the bank, of course.  One hundred to three hundred dollars a day is normal to me.

     I studied the career of Death Valley Scotty and discovered his secret.  Hmm?  Oh, Scotty was a legend in LA between the wars.  He was absent for long stretches then would show up to buy everyone drinks and distribute his largesse.  He said he had a secret gold mine in Death Valley that he worked for a stretch then brought his diggings to town.  He didn’t worry about money because he said he could always dig up some more.

     They tried to follow him to his mine but he always gave them the slip.  I reasoned therefore that there was no mine but that Scotty was either a thief or a master panhandler.  Rather than being absent in Death Valley, I reasoned, he was off panhandling in some distant city.  Probably shaved his beard so no one would recognize him.

     Well, between Scotty and The Man With The Twisted Lip I put my act together.  I, however, have no interest in distributing largesse.  I am not only handsome, as you can see, but I have a genius IQ.  When the weather gets cold I haunt all the finest libraries in America.  The Houghton, Universities of Michigan and Illinois, Stanford, U.C., Berkeley, occasionally down to Santa Cruz because I like the weather, I don’t want to bore you with a list, suffice it to say that I have pursued my studies in the finest institutions, North, East, South and West.

page 143.

     As you can see I am quite distinguished looking.  I have suits of clothes in several cities.  With my appearance I can get in…’  While everything the Gambler said was true he perceived a look of bored disbelief on Donn’s face.  Actually Donn was still half stunned.  the Gambler’s words were just washing over him but the drone of his voice was comforting to him.  ‘…anywhere without any difficulty.

     I have written  the tentative results of my studies down.  I have hidden them in unfrequented nooks and crannies.  Thus it may be said that my work is in all the best libraries.’

     The Gambler was quite serious.  He had an inexhaustible line of chatter.  He could go on for hours at a stretch whenever he had a chance.  But he liked full attention.  He now chose a different topic.  As Donn was a music reviewer he chose a topic that wowed the homeless in the jungles but was ill suited for the more discriminating intelligence of Donn.

     Donn had finished his tin of pate which he flipped into the fire.  The Gambler tossed him another.

     ‘Elvis is not dead, you know.’

     Donn burped.

    ‘I had a long conversation with him myself.  I can’t tell you where he lives because he obviously wishes to remain incognito.  But we had a long chat.  He said the pressure was just too great for him.  He had to excape.  He told me some interesting details you won’t hear anywhere else, Donn.  Of course in the beginning he was only interested in getting girls.  But then when he began to get famous he enjoyed that.  When the money began to really flow in he was ecstatic.  But his success was too far beyond his ability to cope, perhaps anyone’s.  He became the first great postwar folk hero.  Something like the movie stars of the first decade of the talkies.  Genuine stars, not hyped into prominence.  But, you see, he hadn’t been vetted.  He didn’t perform in a manner acceptable to the arbiters of culture.  He was raw.  He dressed atrociously by their standards.  He was, in fact, no better than a White nigger.

page 144.

     As such he wasn’t supposed to have money.  But he got quite a lot, actually.  More than most of them.  As a cultural icon he stood far above the actual power brokers of the world both straight and criminal.  They couldn’t stand that.  They tried to to kill his career by putting him in the Army.  Regardless of their denials it was a political move.  The resulting publicity campaign by RCA in order to preserve its investment against their machinations made him Elvis Presley, the singer, into the pop icon, Elvis.  We’ll probably never know exactly how Colonel Parker fit in there, Elvis doesn’t.  He became not only bigger than life but bigger than fantasy.

     He said he was in constant fear of his life.  He couldn’t go anywhere, certainly not without bodyguards.  He became it was as though, he told me, that he was under house arrest.  The fruits of his talent and success turned to ashes in his mouth.’

page 145.

     The Gambler, who had been speaking from behind his paper now lowered it for a dramatic effect as he came to his most thrilling revelation of what ‘Elvis said.’  Donn, at about this time began to regain his mental composure so that he actually heard what the Gambler was saying.

    ‘But this wasn’t enough for them, Elvis told me.  They wanted more.  They wanted to humiliate him completely, to emasculate him, to render him sterile, neutered.  What did they do?  They offered him, or at least Colonel Parker, large sums to perform in Las Vegas.  On their home turf they could get away with anything.

     Up to that time Elvis had been disciplined and under self-control.  He was relatively blithe, youthful and slim.  After that his personality disintegrated.

    He told me that he was invited to the master suite.  As he was Elvis, commanding a large sum to make them even larger sums, he assumed that they only wanted to meet him.  That was fine with him.  As a boy from humble origins he was proud to meet them as equals, nay, even as a superior.

     He said that when he entered he was greeted by the cold derogatory stares of five angry men.  Three were big time criminals, one was a famous show biz personality, singer, and one was a very well known conservative politician.  I can’t tell you his name because if word got out my life wouldn’t be worth a blind man’s view of Mt. Rushmore.

page 146.

     Elvis was taken aback immediately when the toughest customer behind his dark sunglasses greeted him with a venomous:  Hello. Big Shot.

     Well, as Elvis said, he was quite taken back by the hostile reception.  As he looked from face to face the expressions were hard, harder and hardest.  Now, Elvis came from the humblest circumstances.  Having been denied power as a youth he sought to conquer by love rather than force.  He thought since he, as he expressed it, was going to make these men lots and lots of money they would value him accordingly.  He was shocked to find that they viewed themselves as masters and himself as a plantation slave; someone to toil for them and be abused.

     “So you think you’re really something, hey?”  The criminal continued.  “Well, I got news for you, sonny boy.  You ain’t nothin’ to us.  There’s dozens more where you came from.  We can manufacture a dozen a day.  There’s dozens more where you came from.  There’ll be dozens more after you’re gone.  You’re the dogshit I scrape from my shoes.  What have you ever done but shake your pelvis?  Nothin’.  You ain’t never built a magnificent club like this.  You never had to meet a payroll in your life.  You never had to knife or be knifed.  You’re nothin’ but a puke assed kid in diapers.  We give you money you couldn’t earn any other way.  We earn it.  We did the work.  Without this club you wouldn’t have anyplace to shake your ass.  We, all of us, are men who fought and clawed to get where we are.  You’re a pansy.  All you’ve ever done is get up on stage show ’em your blue suede shoes and shake your skinny ass.  Elvis the Pelvis!  Is that any name for a man to be known by?  Hell, no.  You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.  Well boy, we’re goin’ to separate the boys from the girls right here and now.”

page 147.

    At this point in his story Elvis began to choke and sob as the horrible memory overwhelmed him but he felt compelled to tell me the story.  He needed to relieve himself to someone.  I felt honored to be the one.

     He said that they all unzipped and flipped their dick out.  He was told to get down on his knees and suck each one off in series.

     He was indignant.  He told them to kiss off.  But they all produced weapons, waving them under his nose.  The criminal said:  “Don’t think you’re so big that we can’t off you and get away with it.  Bigger fish than you have been thrown into Ma Bates’ pond.  All that’ll happen is we’ll claim some deranged fan waited in your room and shot you.  We got guys who are dying to be famous.   The man who shot Elvis Presley!  They’ll take credit.  Then what?  We dose some crazy broad with drugs give her a gun and make it easy for her to kill your killer.  We clap her in solitary confinement for the remaining months of her life.  She dies.  The secret goes to the grave with her.  Now you know how it’s done pussy boy.’

     At this point Elvis said the guy actually shoved the barrel of his gun in his mouth.

     “On your knees pussy boy, and let’s see some action.”

     Well…Elvis said the criminal actually worked the barrel back and forth in his mouth a couple times cocking the hammer as he did so.

     Elvis was shaking uncontrollably as he told me this.  He couldn’t articulate the next bit by by signs and simulations he indicated that he sank to his knees and did them all.  He had to go on just a few hours later.  You can imagine his mental condition.  The set was actually taped by the vicious bastards.  They show it on TV every now and again.  About halfway through Elvis can’t deal with it.  He leans forward half kneeling in that stance of his and simulates fellation on the microphone saying:  Suckee, suckee.  Then he shrugs his shoulders as if to say:  No big thing.  Later in the show he rushes from the stage into the audience seeking affirmation.  Then at the cameras filming as he leaves backstage he flips a thumbs up sign as if to say:  Fuck You.

page 148.

     But the thing took its toll.  Up to then Elvis had been thin and under self-control.  Now he started to gain weight.  He started doing bizarre things like shooting out TV screens in his room when he played Vegas.  His costume became more outre as he sought to recover his manhood.  He started wearing that stupid little Captain Marvel cape.  His whole outfit became patterned after that of Captain Marvel.

     To spite them and reaffirm himself he tried to be bigger than even the fantasy giant he was.  He did the spectacular satellite Live from Hawaii beamed simultaneously all over the world.  Now that was bigger even than Las Vegas.  It showed them how big he was and how small time they were.

     But, it wasn’t enough.  His ego, always fragile because of his cracker origins, was crushed.  He just couldn’t go on.  He staged his death on the shitter because they had turned his life to shit.  Then he just disappeared to where I met him.  No, don’t ask.  I’m honor bound not to tell.

page 149.

     I will say this though.  Elvis never had any idea of what he got himself into when he got into show biz.  Of course, how could he know that he would come to represent the transition from the prewar immigrant culture to the post -war more or less synthetic culture, the union not only of the European nationalities but also the Negro culture.

      As a symbol of the synthesis the Anglo rear guard would hold him responsible for the change.  A race traitor if you will.  Then again he represented the the democratic upwelling of the under classes as a result of the post-war prosperity.  He didn’t adopt the cultural norms of the overclass.  Not because he rejected them as they thought but just because he didn’t know any better.

     And the, and this is most important, the phenomenal reverence and awe paid him was so far in excess of their own masculinity and manhood that they felt Elvis had emasculated them.  Chirst, their wives were throwing their panties at him.  They felt diminished so that in order to reassert their manhood they had to diminish Elvis below themselves.

     Now, Man is homosexual by nature.  He must either be a man and dominate or be a girl and be dominated.  Hence the innate viciousness of the male.  Obviously he who dominates every other male is King.  Elvis was styled the King hence it was incumbent on him to dominate every other male.  But, until his own emasculation at the hands of those jerks he was just a big friendly goof.  He learned too late, but he did learn.  Watch how he treats the musicians in the Live from Hawaii special.  You’ll see it.’

page 150.

End of clip II-3.  Go to continuation at clip II-4.