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Category Archives: Our Lady Of The Blues

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

by

R.E. Prindle

 Clip 4

     ‘Nothing, unless you’re buying.  No money.’

     ‘I’m not buying.’

     ‘I’m not eating.’

     ‘You’re going to have a cup of coffee at least.’

     ‘Don’t have a dime.’

     Stan looked at Dewey.  He admired his strength of will but he was sure Dewey was lying which of course Dewey was.  He had that twenty but he wasn’t about to show it.

     They got back into the yellow VW to continue on in the brilliant yellow sunshine bursting almost into song over the Great Valley of California.  Zippity do dah.

     Stan probed insistently as they drove past the outskirts of Bakersfield.  He was going to get that twenty.  Had it been a pre-beating Stan he might very well have but with his stuffing missing Stan lacked real nerve.  He could be hit in a couple places where it still hurt.  It would have to be a sucker punch on Dewey.  He tried another ploy.

     There is no natural water in the San Joaquin but clever Californians had built and were building massive dams that provided irrigation water.  Large amounts of that water were used to irrigate cotton fields in the Kern County desert.  Bakersfield is actual desert.  As they were driving past the budding cotton a plane was flying ground level dusting the cotton for boll weevils or whatever.

     Stan brought the VW to a halt by the side of ninety-nine.

     ‘Look they’re crop dusting.  Let’s watch for a while.’

     ‘Uh, I’m in a hurry man.  Why don’t I get out?

page 1431.

     ‘Relax.  Just watch.’

     Dewey doubled his fist keeping his eyes on Leland, ready to defend himself because he realized his danger.  He would have to be knocked out or killed for Stan to get his twenty.

     Stan’s right arm draped over the seat to feel for a wrench on the floor but he needed surprise also.  He needed Dewey to look the other way but Dewey’s tenseness indicated he wasn’t about to.

     With a sigh Stan put the VW in gear but now he was sore.

     ‘You aren’t a nice guy.’  He said with a pout.  ‘You don’t deserve to ride in this People’s Car.  You’re not real people.  Get out.’

     ‘Thanks for the ride anyway, man.’  Dewey said opening the door before the car came to a complete stop.  ‘Sorry about the twenty.’

     Dewey had to turn away to keep from laughing in Stan Leland’s face.  Leland had maybe carried him sixty miles which represented twenty cents in gas.  Did Leland really think Dewey was going to fork over twenty dollars for a quarters worth of fuel when Leland had to use the same amount of gas anyway?

     Leland drove off in a huff cursing Trueman’s back.

     Dewey focused his eyes before him.  He was standing in front of a strip mall.  One of those glitzy but commonplace California restaurants was in front of him.  Inside he could see the owner or manager hopping around anguished at the sight of him.

     Dewey turned around to survey the Great Central Valley of California.  It was bright and it was hot.  The highway structure was an immense pre-asphalt love affair.  A divided highway of concrete led in two lanes each way, the center strip itself was two lanes wide.  A two hundred mile long row of oleander bushes obstructed the glare of oncoming headlights at night.  The oleander, which is a very beautiful flowering bush, is drought resistant which is an essential quality for the Valley.  They are poisonous to cattle but that seemed to be of little consequence in the middle of the highway, although everyone always mentioned it.  They grow maybe ten feet high.

page 1432.

     Highway 99 had a paved shoulder which increased its width as well as an unpaved shoulder.  Another ten feet was kept bare before a chain link fence seprarated 99 from what was called a frontage road which allowed locals to get from place to place without entering the highway.  So all in all there were six lanes and spare.  The whole complex was two hundred fifty feet wide.  The road was the old fashioned kind that was just laid on top of the ground rather than dug in.

     When they built the concrete rollerball chute called Interstate 5 a couple decades later they set it over by the concrete canals carrying water from Shasta.  They built 5 on the same principle as the canals except the channel carried cars and trucks instead of water.  The highway games played on 5 were real live rollerball.

     But 99 was a more humane road.  It bypassed all the towns from the Grapevine to Modesto.  For whatever reasons 99 was the main street of Modesto.  The wide apron made it a very good hitchhiking road; cars could stop easily and safely.

page 1433

    The temperature was building up as Dewey looked back in the restaurant to find the manager with his nose pressed to the glass violently gesticulating at him.  Finally he ran to the door opening it a crack to shout at Dewey:  ‘Move along.  Move along.  Hitchhiking’s against the law.  We don’t want you around here.’

     Dewey looked at him in some wonder then thought that maybe buying a cup of coffee might placate him.  Dewey had no sooner opened the door than the little man shouted at him:  ‘Get out. Get out.  No service for you.’

     Dewey was mystified giving an uncomprehending shrug.  What the heck, he was in uniform, Uncle Sam’s own Blues.  Even a couple customers intervened for him.  ‘Take it easy, Mel.  What’s the problem?  He’s only a sailor, for Chrissakes, he’s serving the country.  Because of him you can sleep more securely at nights.’

     ‘If he’s an example of what is serving the country I won’t be able to sleep at all.’

     Dewey gave him the look anyone would give a looney as he stood half in and half out.

     ‘I want you out of here or I’ll call the police.’  The man named Mel raved hysterically.

     Dewey left stepping back to the highway.  Mel called the police anyway.

     Ten minutes later a Bakersfield Police car, not the California Highway Patrol, pulled up in front of him.  He was accompanied by a young civilian of nineteen years who stared at Dewey silently.  The CWB got out of the car approaching Dewey:  ‘Are you hitchhiking?’  He half said, half challenged in the CWB manner.

page 1434.

     Dewey had stepped back on the grass so as to give credence to the notion that he was not hitchhiking but just taking the air but then thought better of it.

     ‘Yeah.  I am.’

     ‘You know it’s against the law.’

     ‘No, I didn’t know that.  You see so many guys hitchhiking.’

     ‘Yeah.  Well, it is.’

     Mel stuck his head out of the door:  ‘That’s him officer, that’s him.  Arrest him.’

     In point of law, which is irrelevant to the CWBs, Dewey was outside the Bakersfield city limits and hence beyond the jurisdiction of the CWB.   The cop looked at the civilian  who hadn’t taken his eyes off Dewey:  ‘Is that him?’

     The boy solemnly shook his head no.

     ‘I’m not going to take you in this time, Sailor, but you better be gone if I come back.’

     ‘I certainly hope to be.’  Dewey smiled.

     ‘Arrest him.  Arrest him.’  Mel screamed.  ‘That’s him.’

     The CWB waved Mel off.  Mel in his hysterical fear locked his door causing problems with people who wanted out and preventing people from entering.

     Dewey was looking at him shaking his head whan a car stopped in front of him.

     ‘Get in man.’  Came a voice with an unmistakable Mexican accent.

page 1345.

     Dewey turned to find a ’56 Chevy with five Mexicans in it looking aggressive.  Dewey may have had to get away from that spot in a hurry but not that big a hurry.  He’d rather take his chances with the CWBs.

     ‘I’m going all the way to Oakland.  You’re just going up ahead a ways, right?’

     ‘Yeah.  That’s right man.  Get in, man, we give you a ride anyway.’

     ‘That’s alright.  I’ll wait for a longer hop.’

     ‘Get in the middle.’  The guy on the right back said holding the door open for him.

     A very dangerous situation it was.  Shotgun in front was cleaning his nails with a stileto.  The other guy in back had his hand on the door ready to leap out.  The restaurant was locked.  It would take five guys with knives about thirty seconds to finish him.  Dewey decided to trust to his charm as limited as that was, he got in the middle in the back.

     Martin Luther King the apostle of non-violent resistance was heading for his mountain top from whence he proclaimed that White Americans were bred in the bone racists.  Black Folk claim that King was the greatest man America ever produced but he was nothing but a back country screeching pastor of a patriarchal consciousness thing.  True, the cause was just; true, there were egregious wrongs that had to be corrected but King himself was a weak reed who left his wife at home while he panted after White women in the pursuit of his notion of justice.  That he was any kind of spokesman for the cause at all was an accident of fate.  Even his own people were beginning to repudiate him before he died.

1436.

     The overblown rhetoric of his speeches would have been laughed at in the mouth of the most respectable White preacher.  ‘I have been to the mountaintop’ spoken seriously is such pompous nonsense that Whites should be ashamed of themselves for even pretending to revere such bull roar.

     However King was the harbinger of the emerging Black Revolution.  A Revolution which would do the inevitable of dividing Americans into a group of more or less autonomous peoples held loosely together by economics.  Just as the Black gangs which coalesced from the riots of ’67 into an incipient form of Black government by the end of the century so these Mexicans flooding across the border could have a complete disregard for the United States that meant nothing more to them than hot Chevy cars, money and a more affluent style of living than was possible for them to create for themselves South of the Border down Mexico way.  Heck, it was even bad form to call  them Mexicans in the United States, their nationality being a form of insult to them on this side of the border; one had to call them ‘Hispanics.’  They might ridicule Americans and Gringos but they were nothing but a joke closely resembling the caricatures of themselves that appeared in US magazines and newspapers.

     Now Dewey sat between two giggling Mexicans while the Shotgun sneered at him over the seat:  ‘Hey may, we give you a ride you never forget.’

page 1437.

     ‘Oh yeah?  I remember every kindness never done to me.’  Dewey replied sarcastically to show he was in control with a forced smile that he hoped looked fearless.

     The car went down 99 about ten miles then the driver turned left towards the coast range onto a dirt road.  The car began to lurch through the dusty fields.

     ‘Better let me out here.  I’m going North.’

     ‘Hey, Gringo, you going where we want you to go.  We let you out when we want to let you out, man.  Only then and not before.  Sabe?  We goin’ to have some fun withchu.  Whatchu think of this stinking America, man.  I think it smells very bad, whatchu think?’

     ‘Seems to be good to you.’  Dewey returned feebly slowly putting both his hands in his pockets to disguise that he was reaching for his long thin Japanese pocket knife.

     ‘Good for us, man, you fool.  What we doin’, we workin’ for the man plantin’ and harvestin’ his potatoes while he  driving around in his El Dorado Cadillac.  You call that good.’

     ‘I see what you mean.  America does suck.’  Dewey agreed adding sotto voce:  ‘…to allow dicks like you in this country.’

     ‘That uniform you wearing, man, it only makes you look stupid.  Your Navy sucks, too, man.’

     ‘I agree with you wholeheartedly there ,man.’  Dewey said with true sincerity.  ‘But I want out now.’

      So saying he pulled his knife out flipping the loosely hinged blade out and clapping it to the throat of the driver.

page 1438.

     ‘Stop the car.’

      The Mexicans had been taken by surprise as Dewey’s apparent resignation had implied no resistance.  The driver didn’t think about it, he just brought the car to a smooth stop trying to avoid the potholes.

     ‘Open the door and let me out.’  Dewey told the Mex on his left.

     Dewey reversed the blade drawing the blunt edge across the driver’s neck as a warning as he brought the point to bear on the Mex standing in the door.  He backing up as Dewey pushed the knife forward as he got out.

     ‘Fuck Pancho Villa.’  Dewey snarled as he moved back toward the highway.

     ‘Puto.’  The Mex spat out.

     ‘Dildo.’  Dewey called over his shoulder.

     Dewey didn’t know what puto meant and the Mexican didn’t know what dildo meant so they were even on that score.

     Dewey thought they might try to run him down but they drove off through a cloud of dust.

     The highway was a good mile and a half distant which was a long walk through what was now blazing heat in his heavy woolen blues.  Dewey slowed his brisk walk into a leisurely stroll so as not to soak his uniform through giving him a heck of a stench.

     White guilt prejudice prevented Dewey from correctly analyzing his encounter with the Mexicans.  It was considered bad for Whites to see racial matters in their true light.  Thus even though these Mexicans did not consider themselves Americans or have any respect for the country they sucked off, White prejudice required Dewey to dismiss the true situation from his mind replacing it with the fiction that these were oppressed people who had fled despotic conditions for a better life in an America Whites had created.

     What bullroar.

     They were just grubbers who realized that Mexico would never amount to anything in the hands of Mexicans while the good life worth sponging off lay across the border with the despised Gringos.

     Twenty minutes later Dewey was back by the side of the road warm but not sweating;  He’d managed to walk in some style.  The thermometer was edging over a hundred.  The sun rays crashed down on him in unrelenting bombardment.  Dewey’s mind began to drift.

     There were many stories of aliens abducting people in their flying saucers at the time.  While Dewey refused to believe them his disbelief was not so strong that he ruled out the possibility.  He did watch the night sky for unidentified flying objects.

     As he looked up into the dazzling blue glare he thought this might be a good time to be abducted.  He was ready to volunteer.  He could imagine a saucer hovering above him shooting down a ray of light separating his molecules into a vapor to beam him aboard.

     ‘They might even serve me some cosmic cookies and a glass of intergalactic mile.’  He was musing as a car slowed to a stop just ahead of him.

page 1440.

      ‘Ah, air conditioning.’  He smiled as he slid into the shotgun of a ’58 Buick Roadmaster.  ‘Better than a flying saucer.’

     ‘Have you had an experience?’  Wally Reid, the driver, asked as he slipped back into traffic. 

     ‘I’m heading for Oakland.’  Dewey said.

     ‘Uh huh.  I’m going to Sacramento.  Drop you off at the Manteca cutoff.  How’s that?’

     ‘Couldn’t be better.’

     ‘What’s this about a flying saucer?’

     ‘Oh nothing.  I was just fantasizing about being beamed up and given cookies and milk.’

     ‘Strange you should say that.  That’s happened.’  Reid began taking the comment at face value.  ‘My sister-in-law had a terrible experience with a flying saucer.’

     ‘Your sister-in-law was abducted?’  Dewey said in astonishment.

     ‘Word of honor.  She wouldn’t lie to me or Chuck, my brother.’

     ‘No.  What happened?’

     ‘This happened just a couple weeks ago.  They kept her for two whole days.  She was driving home from work, worked late, when a saucer zoomed over her and beamed her up like inside a giant flashlight beam, car and all.’

     ‘No!’

     ‘Oh yea.  There were about fifteen of them.  Zoomed back out into space.  You should hear her description of what Earth looks like from out there.  A big blue marble.  They wanted to know how Earthlings have sex.  So she says that for two days they worked her over.  They poked and fondled and did her up.  Felt her tits all over.  She says they were really mystified by the nipples.  She had to explain everything to them.  They had this device they put in her mouth that translated everything she said into their language.

page 1441.

     Once they understood how to put it in after she explained it to them she says each guy took a turn or two on her.  They weren’t gentle either, probably because they didn’t have any experience with screwing Earth style.’

     ‘Jeez.  What did they look like?’

      ‘Just like you’d expect.  Green with these giant heads and bulging eyes.  You know, like they don’t do any physical work, just cerebral stuff, so they’re all brain and no brawn, muscles just withered away, opposite of us.’   Wally said with unintended humor which was nevertheless caught by Trueman who suppressed a smile.  ‘Skinny thin bodies and arms with long thin peckers, twice as long as ours but she says they felt like worms, you know,  they could bend and twist like corkscrews.  Kept at her for two whole days.’

     ‘Wow.  Did they give her any cosmic cookies or intergalactic milk?’

     ‘No.  They fed her with tubes.  She’s still got some needle marks on the inside of her arms.  Then after they finished with her they beamed her back down but they weren’t too careful about it either.  They bashed the car up pretty bad.  Bonnie didn’t look too good either.’

page 1442.

     ‘How’s that?’

     ‘Well, they were aliens so I guess they did weird things.  They chopped her hair up something terrible.  They could have at least cut it off even but they cut it short in uneven lengths and cut clumps out here and there.  Not only was her hair a mess but she was black and blue all over from the rough treatment plus those puncture marks on her arms.

     Wasn’t all bad though.’

     ‘No?  What was good?’

     ‘Heck, can you imagine what it will look like?  This kid’s going to be a real freak, half human, half alien.  Chuck and me figure our fortune is made.  We’ll be able to exhibit it for millions.  Everybody will want to see it, don’t you think?  Wouldn’t you?’

     ‘I sure do.  I’d like to see it I’m sure of that.’

     Trueman and Reid chatted away merrily in this vein through Modesto to the Manteca cutoff.

     ‘So long, Dewey.’

     ‘So long, Wally.  Thanks for the ride.  Good luck with the alien baby.’

     Dewey crossed the highway to take up a position on the cutoff.  He got his thumb out and then broke down in laughter.    It was good rich deep throated laughter, straight from the belly.

 page 1443.

     ‘Those guys actually believe Bonnie’s going to have an alien baby.  Ha ha.  Cracked the car up when they carelessly beamed the car down.  Ha ha ha.  Boy, that Bonnie must have the gift of gab.  Wonder what they’ll do when the alien baby looks just like some guy Bonnie knows.’

     Dewey struggled to control his laughter as he got funny looks from a couple of drivers.  He still had a big smile on his face when a ’56 Ford Fairlane with two men and two women motioned for him to hop in.

     The back door opened so Dewey got in the back; safer when there was someone in the back seat anyway.  If the Mexicans had made him get in the front Dewey might not have been able to control the situation.

     ‘You look as happy as though you’ve embraced the spirit of Jesus.’  John Ahrens, the driver, said in the sepulchral tones of the lay preacher.

      That took the smile off Dewey’s face.  The next largest group after the homos in the habit of picking up hitchhikers were the religious nuts.  In a lot of ways they were worse and actually more dangerous than the homos.

     Dewey forced a laugh out of his throat:  ‘That too; but my last ride was telling me about how his sister-in-law was abducted by flying saucer aliens…’

     ‘That happened to her too.’  Susan Strable exclaimed from the front seat.

     A smile flickered out on Dewey’s face.  ‘Happened to you too, hey?’

page 1444

     ‘No.  But it happened to Jack.’  She said indicating Ahrens.  ‘They flew away at tremendous speeds and took him to seventh heaven and he had a long talk with Jesus and Jesus sent him back to establish the true church of God.’

     Four very serious, very critical sets of eyes fixed themselves on Dewey watching his reaction.  Dewey sobered up immediately.  This was no laughing matter; he was in with religious nuts.

     ‘I heard somebody else did that too.  Let me think.  Oh yeah, a while back a guy name Mohammed flew up to Seventh Heaven on a horse.  I forget the horse’s name.’

     ‘In Greek it was Arion.’  Ahrens extolled who didn’t know the name of Mohammed’s horse either but rather than admit it resorted to a circumlocution that nobody could check or deny.

     That had Dewey stumped since he couldn’t remember the Arab name he was in no position to question Ahren’s assertion.  Ahrens was quick and plausible.  He hadn’t flunked out of the seminary for nothing.  He hadn’t so much as flunked out as been thrown out.  His answers may have sounded plausible but they were invariably wrong.  Nevertheless Ahrens would defend them with violence if necessary.

     Rather than tolerate his madness he had been thrown out.  He hadn’t taken that well either.  He had been on his way back to the President’s office with a 12 gauge under his arm when he had been intercepted by the police.  With the certitude of the righteous Ahrens had been marching down the middle of the street like Gary Cooper at high noon.

page 1445.

     The Christian gentlemen of Mt. Larynx Theological Seminary declined to press charges on condition that Ahrens to far away and stay there.  Oakland was some distance from St. Larynx.

     ‘But the Moslems are full of baloney.’  Susan Strable continued.  ‘No horse can fly as fast as a flying saucer.’  Dewey nodded in agreement.  ‘Besides Jesus told Jack that Mohammed was just a big fibber and wasn’t even there.  At least he didn’t talk to Jesus.’

      ‘Oh well, Mohammed went to talk to a different god, Allah.  Maybe Jesus was out to lunch at the time.’

      ‘There is only one god, the Moslems got that right, but his name isn’t Allah.  The real name of God is too sacred to repeat to the profane so you’re not going to hear it from me.  Suffice it to say, the truth resides in me.’  John Ahrens intoned majestically.

     ‘Boy, that’s for sure.’  Susan affirmed.  ‘But Jack found out for sure that those athiests are all nasty liars.  God isn’t dead.  And the reason people can’t see heaven anymore now that we’ve had our own space things, sputniks or whatever, heaven is retreating from earth at one second less than the speed of light each year.  So while it’s sure going to be hard to get there you can make it if you try.’

     ‘Amen, Susan.’  Ahrens said approvingly.

     ‘So now Jack’s the head and founder of the Intergalactic Church of Christ Immersed In The Extraterrestrial Blood.  We’re going to be bigger than the Catholics and Billy Graham put together.  What do you think of that?’

page 1446.

     ‘Where are you based?’

     ‘Oakland, California.’

     The car had exited the Manteca cutoff entering Highway 80 for the run across the Altamont.  Dewey was beginning to get uncomfortable.  the thought of any church being Immersed In Extraterrestrial Blood, whatever that was, threw the fear of God into him.  Space traveler or not Dewey knew that the Intergalactic Church was rooted in the viciousness of Genesis as they all were.  Judaism was the religion of blood.

     ‘Well, I certainly wish you luck in overtaking the Pope and Billy.  I think you’ve got a long haul in front of you though.’

     ‘We were hoping you’d join us.’  Ahrens sort of commanded.

     ‘No-o-o.  I’m in the Navy.  Can’t do that.’

     ‘Why not?  You must be based in the Bay Area.  You’re returning now.’

     It was getting to close to 5:00 PM on Saturday night so Ahrens wasn’t completely out of line in his surmise.

    ‘No. I’m from San Diego.  Have to be back tomorrow.’

     ‘Humph.’  Ahrens ejaculated, thinking to himself that Dewey was a liar.  ‘That’s not very probable.  You may not even be in the Navy.  I’ll bet you’re just using that uniform to make it easy to get rides.

     ‘You better come along.’  Susan said.  ‘You don’t want to get Jack mad.’

     ‘I suppose not.’  Dewey sighed.  ‘But, I’m not going along anyway.  Let me out at the MacArthur overpass.’

page 1447.

     ‘I think he’s OK.’  The other man spoke confidentially to the back of Ahren’s head.

     ‘We’re not letting you out.’  Ahrens said with a nod.  ‘You’re coming with us.’

     ‘Ooh.’  Susan cooed, seizing Dewey’s hand.  ‘What an honor.  They’re going to sacrifice you.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Right on.  Just let me out.’

     Susan’s head bobbed up and down affirmatively as she tucked her lower lip into her mouth.  ‘Jesus needs blood to keep the world on its axis, he told Jack.  So far we’ve only used the blood of the neighbor’s cats and dogs.  But now we’re going to move up to people because dog and cat blood isn’t keeping the axis too steady.’

     ‘You let me out.  Now! Or you’ve got big trouble Jack.  Screw you and your Intergalactic Church.’

     Ahrens cast an angry glance back at Dewey but the determined look on Dewey’s face made him think twice.  He slammed on his brakes skidding up over the curb with a jolt:  ‘You’ve got five seconds.’  He commanded.

     Dewey didn’t waste any of them.  If he hadn’t had to bend down to pick up his bag he would have made it.  Ahrens squealed back on the highway throwing Dewey into the ivy.  Dewey got up.  He was half a mile from the MacArthur off ramp.  He decided to walk it.  Hitchhiking in what he now considered his hometown was repugnant to him so he walked down to 86th which was a considerable hike.  By the time he reached Da Costa’s, Roque and McLean had already gone out for the night taking Terry with them.

page 1448.

     Pete Da Costa refused admittance to the house.  Not knowing what else to do Dewey sat down on the porch step to wait.  Luck was with him.  Roque came back to pick up an item Terry had forgotten.

     ‘What took you so long?’

     ‘I’ll tell you when we have the time.’

     ‘OK. Come on along.’

      Da costa was none too happy with Trueman.  He felt, quite reasonably that Trueman had attempted to use him throwing himself over for Torbrick.  Trueman’s story was different and right also but it would have taken a demon judge to find for him.

     Terry’s friends were throwing a party.  Thus Trueman was introduced into a circle of high school seniors.  It was there he met Louise Tricka.  Louise was another who was drawn to the misfits.  She liked Trueman a lot, possibly because she too was a square peg in a round hole.

     But for tonight Dewey returned with Da Costa, McLean and Terry.  McLean whose hatred for Trueman since Guam had grown not abated had moved into his place quietly defaming him to Da Costa.  Terry had now cast her net for McLean but he wasn’t anymore interested than Trueman.

     ‘I don’t know how to tell you this Dewey, but my father doesn’t want you in the house.’

     ‘Yeah, he already told me, Roque, but I don’t have any place to stay.  I could sleep in the car, couldn’t I?’

page 1449.

     ‘Yeah, I suppose you could do that.’

     McLean snickered shrugging his shoulders with a broad smile.

      Dewey who saw more sunrises than he cared to remember pulled himself erect with the rising sun.  Unshaven and feeling grungy he sat glowering into the rear view mirror until McLean and Da Costa showed on the porch at 9:30.

     Da Costa suggested they go down and look at the grocery store he worked at.  Trueman didn’t care to meet anyone in his condition so he was all for it.

     Under the law your employer had to guarantee a reservist his job when he was discharged so Roque was technically still employed by Lucky Stores as a check out clerk.

     He worked for a nice store down in the Lake Grove district.  Trueman and McLean were properly appreciative.

     Considering that it had taken Trueman a full twenty-four hours to get to Oakland it might seem that he was overly optimistic in leaving for San Diego at 4:00 Sunday afternoon.  In fact, if things didn’t go completely wrong there was just enough time to make it back, if not for reveille, at least for muster.  Trueman cut it close but he always cut it as a hitchhiker.

      Da Costa and Mclean had flown up so Trueman got Roque to drive him up to the Altamont from which he always commenced his return journey.

     Yes, it’s the same Altamont Pass where the Rolling Stones had their disastrous concert which brought the psychedelic era to an end in 1969.  The Pass is a low hill a few hundred feet high leading into the San Joaquin past Tracy into Stockton.

page 1450.

     There was a certain amount of apprehension in Trueman’s mind.  He was taking the word of someone he couldn’t remember that this was possible.  At this point he wasn’t sure that he wasn’t crazy.

     Life is full of delights…and subsequent disappointments.  Dewey hadn’t been standing on the Altamont long before a green ’58 Plymouth pulled to a stop.  The Plymouth hadn’t yet been nudged out of the low price race with Chevy and Ford but it was fading fast.
     ‘Goin’ to Anaheim.’  The driver Jake Rawlins said.  ‘How far you goin’?’

     Dewey’s heart leapt to this throat as his face broke out into a big smile; maybe there was a god in heaven after all.

      ‘Alright.’  Dewey chirped.  ‘Luck is a lady tonight.  I gotta get back to San Diego.  Thanks for the ride.’

     Dewey bounced against the back of the seat a couple times in delight.  As Jake Accelerated to seventy per Dewey figured he’d be in Anaheim in at least six hours.

     Jake was a real nice guy.  Like most normal people he was only almost normal, not quite there.  Unless you’re in an environment like the Navy which requires apparent rigid conformity everyone has their ways.  Jake’s eccentricity was that he was an advocate of steam powered cars.  In fact, he was an expert, a foremost world-wide authority on steam, so he said.  He communicated with other experts on steam power in autos all over the world, especially in Australia.

page 1451.

     The rest of society wasn’t too interested in steam as compared to the internal combustion gasoline engine so Jake was used to a lot of ridicule.  But like all compulsives he had to talk about his fetish.

     Dewey would have laughed but as he was getting a plum of a ride for free, you could tell Jake wasn’t going to ask for anything but an audience, he displayed reasonably good manners.

     ‘Well.’  Dewey said amiably.  ‘Alright.  So why does your Plymouth have an internal combustion engine?’

     Jake was coughing around an answer about corresponding with his contact in Australia about a particularly difficult problem when he spotted another hitchhiker.  It was a Second Class Gunner’s Mate with three hashmarks on his sleeve.

     ‘Career man.’  Dewey thought.  ‘All those guys are pricks.’

     ‘You’ll be sorry if you pick him up.’  Dewey objected.  ‘All those career guys are arrogant.’

     But nice guys always trip over their own nicety; it goes with the territory.  Jake pulled over.  Dewey tried to get out to let Lee Nelson, the Gunner’s Mate, into the middle but Nelson really wanted the end, he kept pushing Dewey back in.  Unable to win that way Dewey said:  ‘I’ll get in the back.’

     ‘No.’  Jake said.  ‘Stay in front.’

     Dewey groaned to himself at Nelson’s triumphant smile.  He knew there was trouble ahead but he just didn’t know what.

     Nelson turned out to be just as arrogant as Dewey expected.  As Jake continued to rattle on about steam power Nelson guffawed at the very notion of steam power ever becoming popular.  There was no question that he was right but he was betraying Rawlins’ generosity.  As Rawlins continued on in his dotty way Nelson began to become abusive.  You never knew when one of these guys might explode.

     ‘Hey, man, be a little more polite.  You’re riding for free.’  Trueman exhorted.

     ‘You don’t believe this dipshit and his steam power crap do you, you simp?’

     Dewey was thrown on his most tactful approach:  ‘Steam powered cars are an accomplished fact.  The Stanley Steamer is a very famous car.  Everything he says about steam is a fact.  Who knows but they may be able to replace the internal combustion engine with steam if it’s improved.’

      ‘You don’t really believe steam is going to replace gas?’

     ‘Perhaps not in my lifetime but I say that it’s an open question that Jake knows a lot more about than you or me.’

     ‘Shee, you’re as dotty as he is.’

     Nelson at least shut up saying nothing further.  Jake and Dewey carried on the conversation or, rather, Jake rattled away.

     Jake was no slouch behind an internal combustion engine.  He sped through the turns of the cutoff slowing down to pass through Modesto.  Modesto was the story of the law in America, the triumph of pragmatism.  The posted speed limit was twenty-five.  But in order to facilitate passage through town signs proclaimed that the stop lights were timed for thirty-two miles an hour so you were encouraged to speed through town to catch all the lights.  Good laughs were had over that one.

page 1453.

     Outside Modesto Jake really barreled.  He kept the plunger in for ninety per.  The old Plymouth was barely making contact with the road.

     Ninety-nine was not a freeway but a limited access highway.  That meant that there were periodic crossings.  The wide meridian made it difficult for drivers to dart across; you needed a little space to make it.

     Just North of Fresno there was a dangerous crossing.  There were no lights and as the East side of the highway was about ten feet higher a car’s headlights shone down rather than across the highway.  The crossing was one of the most dangerous spots on the highway.

     About a mile away Dewey, whose night and distance vision was exceptional spotted an old double front ended Studebaker sitting on the meridian sloping down from the Northbound lane.  Call it deja vu, call it paranoia, call it prescience but the driver’s obvious indecision made it clear that trouble lay ahead.

     ‘Watch that guy up there, Jake.  Watch that guy, change lanes, slow down, this guy’s dangerous.’

     Nelson was one of those loud mouthed First Division jerks:  ‘Aw, for Christ’s sake, relax.’  He said outshouting Dewey.  It was one of those times when all the world seemed to conspire against one’s better judgement.

     The Studebaker just sat there like a spider waiting for the fly.  Then about a third of a mile away it seemed that the driver just took his foot off the brake and slowly coasted out into the fast lane.  If Dewey had gotten Jake to change lanes they would have missed him.  A quarter mile away Jake jammed his foot on the brake.  The Plymouth which now would never know steam turned into a rocket sled but it slid straight down the highway.

page 1454.

     ‘Goddamn you, Nelson.’  Dewey shouted as the distance closed.  By that Dewey meant that if it hadn’t been for picking up Nelson they would have been beyond the crossing by then and Dewey wouldn’t be stuck in the middle with nothing to hold on to, nor would he have been crazy enough to needle a very excitable driver.  Dewey laid off the whole blame on Nelson although Nelson was too stupid and self-centered to understand his complicity.

     Dewey saw certain death before him.  He went limp as a ragdoll and hoped for the best but he saw his broken crushed body on the highway.  The Plymouth slid into the Studebaker at seventy per midway between the bumper and the cab.

     The collision drove the Studebaker fifty feet down the highway where it sat in the middle of the fast lane pointing South.  The Plymouth was totaled.  Dewey bounced around the seat, first against Jake, then his head caromed off the windshield which miraculously didn’t break, then he slammed against Nelson finally sprawled over both.

      Incredibly no one was hurt.  Dewey sat quietly panting.  He reached up to touch his head where it banged into the windshield.  He didn’t even have a bruise.

     The driver of the Studebaker, an old man of ninety years paced the highway between the two cars dazed, a trickle of blood oozing down from his left temple.

page 1456.

     ‘Look at that old fart.’  Jake cried.  ‘He probably isn’t anymore dazed now than he was before.  You guys are going to stick around to give a police statement for me, aren’t you?’

     Nelson already had his thumb out.

     ‘Give the police your own statement you dumb son-of-a-bitch.  All you had to do was change lanes to avoid the accident.  That’s what I’ll tell the police.’

     Incredibly enough a car screeched to a halt between the wreckage and the roadside to give Nelson a ride.  Nelson was either generous enough or guilty enough to motion Dewey to get in but Dewey wasn’t about to ride the middle with Nelson again.  He was shaken up enough to feel bad.  He passed.

     The two thirty year old men who had been in the Studebaker with the ninety year old driver rushed up to Jake demanding his insurance agent.  The accident was nothing less than an insurance scam.  It had been planned that way.

     The police were slow in arriving.

     ‘Hey Jake, I really gotta go or I’m going to miss muster.’   If Dewey had been thinking flexibly, as Van Wye would have done, he would have had himself taken to the hospital, phoned in and had himself a couple days off.

     ‘No, wait.  You’ve got to give me a statement.’

     As he was pleading the CHP drove up.

     Dewey wrote a statement which the CWB didn’t seem to care about snickering like something was going on and he knew what it was.  Dewey flipped his statement to him then stuck out his thumb.

      Luck, as it were, was still with him, a Ford truck pulled over.  Dewey leaped in.  After the obligatory explanation of what had had happened the driver introduced himself.

     ‘Hi, podna, I’m Clint Hartung, known as the Hondo Hurricane.  I’m originally from Hondo, Texas.  How far you goin’?’

      Dewey eyed Clint over.  Clint was a big man, maybe six-four or six-five, built like the proverbial brick outhouse.  Gentle looking though.  He was dressed in some sort of quasi-western fashion.  A big hat, buckskin jacket with fringes, even before the mid to late sixties.  Kind of a checkered cowboy shirt with pearl buttons and black Can’t Bust ‘Ems over engineer boots.  Dewey figured he was going to be stranger than Jake which he was but in a good kind of way.

     Just by way of making conversation Clint started talking movies.  He was a big Western fan which came as no surprise.  Matt Dillon ran through Dewey’s mind as he looked at Clint and listened to him speak.  He had that slow deliberate way of talking that is supposed to indicate no-nonsense manhood.  Pretty good job too.

     As might be expected John Wayne was Clint’s hero. 

     ‘Really, John Wayne, hmm?’  Dewey mused.

     ‘Sure, he’s the greatest living American. You don’t think so?’

      ‘Wayne?  Hmm.  Well I thought you resembled say James Arness,Matt Dillon, more or maybe the wagon master, Ward Bond, more along those lines rather than Wayne.’

     Clint was flattered at the comparison, especially the Arness bit as that was a major part of the persona he had adopted.

     ‘Yeah, those guys are good but John Wayne he just captures the essence of what an American is don’t you think?’

      Dewey didn’t like John Wayne at all even though he was the number one male hero for nearly every man in America.  But, he was used to giving his opinion when asked for it.

     ‘Well, I’m not a big fan of Wayne.  Seen him in lots of movies of course but he always comes across to me like a card board cut out.  It not so much that he portrays the idea of a man but imitates it.  He doesn’t seem natural.  They try to make him too big putting him on small horses so that his feet drag and give him that small rifle that looks like a toy gun in his hand.   Like in Hondo, speaking of the Hondo Hurricane, he seems to be too much bigger than life to be real.’  Dewey almost said that Wayne appeared to him as a fag but then thought better of accusing the guy considered the most manly man in America of being gay.  Still the guy could have played himself in the Village People with that mincing hip twisting walk.  Especially the one he used in Hondo.

     ‘Yeah, I liked Hondo a lot better than Shane although Shane was another good book ruined by the movie.’

     ‘I thought Audie Murphy made a good Shane.’ 

     ‘I thought maybe that was Alan Ladd rather than Audie Murphy.’

     ‘Um, yeah, I guess you’re right.  For me he was too jumpy, nervous and in drawn.  I though Shane was a lot more confident than that.  Besides that bit at the end when he rode off wounded into the sunset and the kid calls out ‘Mom wants you, Shane, Dad wants you and I want you too.’ was too much.  I nearly laughed myself to death.  Hondo was the real thing.  Louis L’Amour could turn out to be a heck of a writer.  I read a couple other of his things but they weren’t anywhere near Hondo.’

      ‘Well, I really like your tastes in literature but I’m not too sure of your interpretation.’  Clint replied ponderously.  The guy was like an elephant walking off a heavy dinner.

     ‘By the way, I’m Dewey Trueman.  Uh, The Michigan Kid.’  Dewey said in a lame attempt to match the Hondo Hurricane.  ‘How far are you going?’

     ‘I’m on my way to Superstition Mountain.  Ever heard of that?’

     ‘Oh yeah.  Sure. Of course.  Dutchman’s gold.  there’s supposed to be a lost gold mine.  Flying Dutchman or something like that.  Guy had it, went down the mountain and couldn’t find it again, right?’

     ‘That’s close, Kid.  I’m a goldminer.  Got my sluice and pans in back.’

     ‘Right.  Where are your claims and mines.’

     ‘I don’t mine properly speaking.  I pan for it or set up my sluice and wash the gravel.  I been up on 49 around Placerville working the streams around there.’

     ‘I thought that was all played out.’

     ‘Sure ain’t like it was in forty-nine but you never know when you might find a crack or crevice that’s loaded.  No luck of that kind yet but I’m always hopin’.’

      Why do you do it if you don’t find gold?’

     ‘Oh, I find plenty of gold, just not a big cache yet.’  Clint groaned out like a Henry Kissinger in slow motion.  He produced a prescription plastic container half filled with gold.

      ‘That’s gold.’  He said with satisfaction flipping it to Dewey.  Dewey looked at the sand and small nuggets with fascination.  He was disappointed.  Somehow he expected ‘gold’ to be more.  This may have been gold alright but without the capital G.  It was just sort of gold and not a lot of it.

     ‘How long did it take you to pan this out?’

     ‘That’s about three-four weekends worth.’

     ‘Where did it come from?’

     ‘That’s from up on the Tuolmne but I’ve been everywhere for gold.  Alaska, the Yukon, haven’t been to the Australian fields yet but I’m on my to Superstition Mountain now.’

page 1458

     Dewey was so impressed with the Hondo Hurricane that he dropped his usual sarcastic manner.

     ‘Wow, this old pickup really flies along I wouldn’t think it could go so fast for so long.’

     ‘My old Ford here?  I put a ’58 Chevy V8 in it.  Now it’s an all American car.  Best both Ford and Chevy have to offer.  Never know when you’ll need the power when you’re a gold prospector.  Lot of claim jumpers out there and of course you never know when you’re trespassin’ on someone else’s claim until it’s too late.’

     Dewey laughed merrily as the eclectic Ford-Chevy truck raced the moon across the Grapevine through the starry starry night.

     Dewey had assumed that Clint would be passing through San Diego on his way to Superstition Mountain so he was both surprised and disappointed when Clint Hartung pulled over to the side to let him out.

     ‘I take the Lancaster turn off here and take the desert route from here, Kid.  You’re welcome to come along if you like but I hate big cities, always avoid ’em when I can.’

     ‘Well, I think I’m better off where there’s lots of traffic so I have to stay on this road.  Thanks for the ride Hondo, and good luck on Superstition Mountain.’

     Clint was flattered to be called Hondo.  He gave the Kid, er…Dewey, a desert hat salute and roared off honking his horn a couple times in acknowledgment of Dewey’s compliment.  Needless to say he didn’t have any luck on Superstition Mountain or anywhere else gold might be found but he lived the kind of life so many men only dream about.  Maybe he’s updated his old Ford truck with a newer engine by now and is still out there gunning the engine for the vanishing point.  I sure hope so.

page 1459.

     One uneventful ride dropped Dewey off at the head of Lankersheim Blvd.  Cruising was still in progress on Sunday night.  Dewey had made good time notwithstanding the wreck on the highway.  At midnight the cruisers had thinned out but were still plentiful.  Three fruits and two fundamentalists brought Dewey to the on ramp of the Hollywood Freeway which was the way he ought to have come if the Marine, Bill Baird, hadn’t driven him astray.

     A red and white ’56 Chevy pulled over for him.

     ‘Going back to the base, I suppose.’  the driver, Al Pscholka mused.

     ‘Yep.’

     ‘Where might that be, if I might be so rude to ask?’

     ‘I’m based in San Diego.  How far are you going?’

     ‘I could be going not too far; or, on the other hand, I could drop you off at the gate in San Diego.  The choice is yours.’

     ‘O-o-oh.  No kidding.’  Dewey replied grasping the situation.

     Acquiring the rudiments of the road doesn’t require long and patient study, especially as your attention is so concentrated.  Dewey was also grasping the concept of keeping them talking as long as possible without getting to the point.

page 1460.

     ‘You must be a traveling salesman or something.’ He volunteered.

     ‘No.  I’m an accountant.  I add up figures.  I know the score.’  Pscholka said with knowing double entendre.

     He was a good looking fellow of about six-two, slender but muscular.  There was a vicious mean spirited look to him.  His shame at his homosexuality made him fairly brutal toward his conquests.  Otherwise he had a mean derogatory attitude.

     ‘Accounting huh?  That must be interesting.’

     ‘Cut the crap.  You know what I want.’

     ‘Who me?  No, I’m not sure I do.’

     ‘You going to give it up or not?’

     ‘I’m not queer if that’s what you mean.’

     ‘I don’t care if you’re queer or not.  I am.  What I’m saying is we can go somewhere and have a good time and I’ll get you back to the base for muster or you can take your chances on the highway.’

     ‘Pull over and let me out then.’

     ‘Did you hear what I said?’

     ‘Only too well.  Did you hear what I said?’

     At this time they were going through the Stack.  There is a hill in LA where five freeways are stacked one above the other.  This is a very impressive sight.  Dewey was trying to take it in with awestruck eyes while still trying to deal with Al Pscholka.

     Pscholka started to edge over when a light went on behind his eyes.  ‘It wouldn’t be right to let you out here just because you won’t suck my dick.  I’m a nicer guy than that.  I’ll take you to a better place.’

page 1461.

     ‘If it’s a question of right or wrong, in my opinion it would be right to let me out here.  I don’t want to inconvenience you any further.’

     ‘No inconvenience, buddy.  Sit tight.’

     At seventy per Dewey had no choice but to sit tight.  At this point he thought that Pscholka was going to drive him off somewhere that he would have no idea where he was or how to get back.  Pscholka didn’t seem to be carrying a weapon so Dewey had full confidence in his Japanese pocket knife.

     But Pscholka was both much more devious and malicious, devious, malicious and knowledgeable at that.  He haunted these roads every Sunday night.  Since he actually would drop sailors off at the gate his shtick had enough appeal to be successful quite often.

     Still, Dewey was astonished when he made the turn down to Anaheim and kept on going toward the Disney towers.  Somewhere along the way Dewey began to notice a very long line of sailors.  Miles of them spaced one to a hundred feet.  Dark blue blobs with white hats topmost merging with the night under the streetlights.

     ‘God, how are they all going to get rides?’  Dewey mused out loud.

     ‘Yes.  How are they?’  Pscholka laughed quietly pulling over to let Dewey out.  ‘Last chance.  This or the gate?’  He leered. 

     Dewey got out.

     He looked to the right horizon to see hundreds of sailors strung out as far as the eye could see.   He looked to the left to see the same sight.  He looked at the sailor in front of him with a quizzical look on his face.

page 1462.

     ‘I know, man.  Just walk down the highway between me and the next guy and put your thumb out.’

     Dewey walked down and stepped in line.  As he did so the sailor on either side stepped away until they were about one hundred feet apart.  Those adjacent to them did the same until a giant wave effect rippled through the line of sailors for miles and miles.  This happened repeatedly for the two hours Dewey was there.  As a sailor dropped off the ripple kept eddying back and forth.  Dewey moved to and fro as though tossed by an invisible current.

     Trueman lost all anxiety as he pondered the situation.  It seemed hopeless.  There didn’t seem to be enough cars on the road to accommodate this portion of the fleet let alone drivers to pick them up.  There wasn’t even any reason to put your thumb out.

     ‘Probably if you do get picked up.’  He thought.  ‘It will be another queer trying to cut a deal or else.’

     He watched the cars pass with drooping spirits.  Suddenly a car traveling the fast lane at a terrific clip caught everyone’s attention from a mile away.  It was a red and white ’55 Chevy.  While everyone had their attention riveted on the car the driver whipped almost at a right turn across all three lanes of traffic to screech to a stop in front of Dewey Trueman.

     Dewey was astonished beyond belief as adjacent sailors looked in envy.  ‘Why me?’  Dewey thought.  ‘What signals am I transmitting, what criteria were those guys using to select me?’

page 1463.

     The door flew open.  ‘Hop in.’  Said the guy in the passenger’s seat getting out.  ‘Ride the middle.’

     It was a messy car.  The back seat was jammed with clothes and household goods.  A Louisville Slugger lay conspicuously in the space between the front and back seats atop some junk with the brand name up.  Dewey looked across at the driver.  Both guys were lean and wiry, probably not queer, but either high or jacked up on some emotion.  They were obviously out joy riding.  Dewey tried to opt out.

     ‘Hey, thanks for stopping guys but I think I’ll pass.  Wait for something else.  Thanks anyway.’

     ‘Aw, hey now, man, you definitely do not want to hurt our feelings.’

     Dewey followed his gaze down to the Louisville Slugger.  He looked behind him out across the plowed fields that would be houses the next time he passed by.  He wasn’t a fast runner anyway.  The guy could bring him down from behind with the baseball bat as he ran.

     ‘Well.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘Maybe I can talk faster than they can.’

      ‘Hurt your feelings?  Aw, no man,  I didn’t realize it was like that.  But, hey, since I’ll be getting out first why don’t I sit on the outside?  Save you some trouble down the road.’

     ‘No, I’m athletic.  Get in the middle.’

page 1464.

     Dewey slid in.  The door slammed shut; the driver accelerated to the fast lane.  The driver, Dave, who did not introduce himself, got right to the point.

     ‘We need your opinion, man.  I got a real difficult situation here.’

     Dewey didn’t like the depth of that quagmire.  ‘Oh yeah?  My opinion wouldn’t be worth much.  Gee, I just turned twenty.  I don’t have much experience at all.’

     ‘You got enough for me, man.  Here’s the problem.’

     All the time Dave spoke the car was going eighty miles an hour.  The seemingly endless line of sailors to the right ebbed and flowed and danced to the right and left like some giant conga line.  The phenomenon was surely one of the most spectacular sights the world had to offer.  By daylight all those sailors would be gone.  Nearly all of them would make it back in time for muster.  This phenomenon happened every single Sunday night for those who had eyes to see and the intellect to understand.

      ‘Ya see, it’s like this.  I used to be married to this woman, beautiful woman, high school sweetheart.  We were very happy but I wasn’t making much money.  Then this guy comes along.  A coal miner.’

     ‘Coal miner?  In LA?’

     ‘Yeah.  So this guy is making a lot of money; coal miners get paid real good.’

     ‘They do?’

     ‘Sure.  They gotta work underground where the coal is which is real dangerous work.  You wouldn’t do it for the minimum wage would you?’

page 1465

     ‘I wouldn’t do it for a lot of money but there aren’t any coal mines in LA.’

     ‘Shut up and listen.  So my high school sweetheart and wife falls for this guy’s bucks.  That’s all she could see was his money, divorces me and goes to him.   This was a couple years ago.  So I become very distraught.  I don’t know what to do, so I join the Army.  While I am in the Army now I meet this very wonderful girl who loves me only for myself, she doesn’t care whether I have money or not.  I married her last month.’

     ‘Where is there an Army base in LA?’

     ‘There is one.  I’m stationed there, OK?  I know.  Now shut up and listen.  So right after I marry my present wife there is a terrible cave in at the mine and my wife’s new husband is killed.’

     ‘Boy, I never heard about that.  Where are those coal mines in LA?’

     ‘Listen, they have steel mills in LA, don’t they?’

     ‘Maybe.  OK.’  Dewey didn’t know but they did.

     ‘Well, you need coal to make steel don’t you?’

     ‘Coke.’  Dewey corrected.

     ‘Coke?’

     ‘Yah.  Coke.  You coke the coal and use the coke.  It burns hotter.’

     ‘What, are you a wise guy?  So you coke the coal, the point is you need coal to make steel, don’t you.  So where there’s steel mills there must be coal mines.  Get it?’

page 1466.

     ‘Boy.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘There’s a stretch in logic.’  But it wasn’t his car and he was in the middle.

     ‘So the mine roof drops on this guy’s melon and he’s got accidental double indemnity life insurance for twenty-five thousand dollars.  So now my ex is got twenty-five thousand dollars and no husband to spend it with.  So now after I’m married to my current wife my ex wants me to come back to her and the twenty-five grand.  What would you do?’

     So this was the trick.  Dewey thought that if he answered one way they would beat him to death with the baseball bat; if he answered the other way they might let him go.  He wasn’t sure what kind of guys they were.  Dave sounded like he was more interested in the twenty-five Gs than in a good woman but it could be a trick.

     ‘Gosh.’  Dewey tried to equivocate.  ‘That’s a tough one; I don’t know how to call it.’

     ‘Call it anyway.  I gotta know because whatever you say determines what I will do.’ 

     That was what worried Dewey.

     He looked right at Dave’s partner, Jack, who was looking at him expectantly, then back at Dave who was urgently demanding an answer.

     Dewey desperately wanted to give the right answer but he was having a hard time reading Dave.

     ‘Funny I didn’t hear about this coal mine cave in.’  He countered.  ‘You think it would have been on the news.’

     ‘Forget the cave in; you were out at sea.  It happened.  Give me your decision.’

page 1467.

     Dewey grasped that how he answered would determine how he was to be disposed of.  Unable to read Dave he decided to go with his own morality and trust to his luck.

     ‘Umm.  I’d stay with your current wife who loves you for what you are, whatever that may be, and is true to you even in the Army which is really saying something.’

     ‘Really?  Yeah, but my ex is a better looker.  Lots better than my current wife.’

     ‘Well, looks are transient and only skin deep.  Fidelity is worth lots more.’

     ‘Sure.  But what about the twenty-five thousand dollars?  That’s a lot of money.’

     Dewey could nearly count the number of twenty dollar bills he’d seen in his life.  If you laid them all out in a row they wouldn’t reach across the dash board.  He had no concept of money but even in the late fifties it was becoming common to speak in terms of millions of dollars so 25,000 didn’t sound like much,  except maybe to a banker calling a loan.  Dewey could see himself spending it in no time.

     ‘Well, she’s left you once for money and twenty-five thousand won’t last long.  Once it’s gone she’ll probably leave you again.  This is Hollywood.  There’s lots of guys with lots of money, lot more than twenty-five thousand.  If she’s that good looking she’s liable to get some taste and get one of those.’

     The unconscious insult slipped past Dave.

page 1468.

     ‘Say, you know, I think you’re right.  You’ve helped out a lot.  I think I’ll stay with my current wife.’  So saying Dave whipped over to the side of the road, shoved Dewey out and sped off.

      ‘Wow.  That was a close one.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘I thought I was going to die for sure.  Coal mines in LA!’

     Dave had dropped him off way at the end of the line of sailors just where 101 jogged off the freeway through San Juan Capistrano.  A couple of disconsolate sailors were standing in front of the rich black loam of the plowed fields.  They were soon picked up leaving Dewey alone.  His anxiety increased as it was getting late.

     A car pulled over.

     ‘Listen, I’ve been driving all day and I’m bushed.  If you can drive and let me sleep, OK.  Otherwise no ride.’

     ‘Of course I can drive.’  Dewey said who had only been behind the wheel once in his life.

     ‘Do you have a license.’

     ‘Are you kidding?  I’ve been around cars all my life.’  Dewey said, artfully avoiding lieing.

     ‘OK.  But I’m really tired and need to sleep.  Get in on the driver’s side.’

     Dewey ran over to the driver’s side and hopped in.  As he got behind the wheel he realized that he was somewhat hazy about shifting.  Fortunately the car was an automatic.

     ‘Do you usually drive your car in D1 or D2.’  He asked what he hoped would be taken as a polite question and not a betrayal of his ignorance.

page 1469.

     ‘I put it in Drive, of course.  Say, do you really have a license?’

      ‘Does Carter have little liver pills?’  Dewey slipped it into D1 and lurched off.

     ‘You can go to sleep now.’  He announced.

     ‘I’m going to watch you a little, make sure you know how to drive first.’  But he drifted off to sleep immediately.

     The night was very dark.  Dewey was driving very tentatively.  He didn’t always see the Stop signs in San Juan in time to stop, driving through them.  There were no other cars on  the road so that didn’t matter.  Past San Juan he was driving very tentatively, barely fifty miles an hours.  He was not only timid himself but emotionally exhausted by a most adventurous trip thus he wandered over onto the shoulder for a moment.  The driver awakened immediately.

     ‘Jesus Christ!  What’s happening?’

     ‘Nothing. I just ran over a narrow part of the road.’

      ‘Narrow part of the road!  Say, you don’t have a license do you?’

     ‘I know how to drive.  They just didn’t make this part of the road very wide, that’s all.’

     ‘Answer my question directly.  Do you have a driver’s license?’

     ‘Not today.  I’m going to get one tomorrow.’

     ‘Just what I thought.  Stop the car.  Get out.’

     ‘Wait a minute.  I can at least talk to you to keep you awake.  C’mon, give me a ride into San Diego.’  Dewey said stopping the car.

page 1471

     ‘Nobody rides for free.  Can’t drive, can’t ride.  Get out.’

     The driver drove off in a frenzy leaving Dewey in the dark by the side of the road at four in the morning but it was really tight now.

     Rosy fingered dawn shone faintly on the horizon before he caught another ride.  He lamented his situation to the driver who was decent and sympathetic.

     ‘I’ll get you back in time.  It’s going to be close but I was in the service myself.  I know how it is.’

     The man did drop Dewey off at the gate.  Dewey gave him a heartfelt thanks.  Past the gate he broke into a run then raced back to the ship.  They were just about to call roll with Dewey stepped into line in full dress blues.

    ‘Trueman.’

     ‘Yo.’

     ‘You’re late, Trueman.’  Dieter glowered.

     ‘Whadya mean I’m late, Chief?  You called Trueman and I said yo.  Sounds like I’m here to me, I can hear myself talking to you, doesn’t it sound like I’m here to you?  I’m talking to ya.’

     ‘Wise ass.  Don’t push your luck with me.  You’re not in dungarees.  You work in that uniform and you go over the side to paint the fo’c’sle.  Get moving.’

     Dewey wasn’t happy about that trying to find a way around it.  On the fo’c’sle he took off his middie folding it up on deck in what he hoped was a secure place.  There was nothing he could do with his pants but he hoped to dink around all morning so he wouldn’t get paint on them.

page 1471.

     Dieter showed up on the fo’c’sle to torment him followed by Blaise Pardon.

     ‘You’re out of uniform, Trueman.  Put that middie back on.’

     ‘Go down and change, Trueman.’  Pardon countermanded.

     Dieter gave him a dirty look but let the matter slide walking aft.  That was one the reason the old salts had no use for Pardon;  he was too reasonable.

Dazed And Confused

     Life moved along at a pace that was beyond bewildering.  There was no time to ingest the stream of happenings let alone digest their significance.  Dewey experienced life like a leaf blown by a storm, every touch down was too brief and fleeting to leave a sense of meaning.  Whatever understanding he had took place on the subliminal level.  He was way too busy just staying alive; catching his breath was out of the question.

     His nervous excitement was such that he was unaware that he wasn’t even getting enough sleep.  On the weekends he got no more than six hours.  During the week he got not much more.

     His agony was such that he preferred to be away from the Navy as much as possible at whatever cost.  Two weekends a month was not enough; he wanted all four.  The only chance he had to do this was to find a stand-in.  In this he was in luck.  The ET who replaced Dart Craddock was called Corey Wells.  His situation was that he wanted liberty on all weekdays while the weekends meant nothing to him.  He was willing to swap the one for the other.

page 1472.

     The two sailors were brought together and an agreement was struck.  The question remained whether both men would honor the terms.  Even on such a small ship as the Teufelsdreck where one would think it rash to incur enmity the men betrayed each other without a second thought.  No one seemed to worry about their reputation.

     It was always possible that either man would refuse to honor his obligation.  If that happened the other was AWOL and not available for his watch.  Thus, initially at least, it was necessary for Trueman to have a backup.  Trueman took Wells’ duty first so Wells had a friend in reserve which proved unnecessary as Trueman always kept his word.  Trueman, whose friends were all leaving for the same weekend, agreed to pay Laddybuck two dollars a day to stand his watches in addition to Laddybuck’s own, who had duty, if Wells defaulted.  Trueman and Wells were grateful to find someone who was honest and whose needs were complementary.  Thus Trueman had every weekend free for the next several months.

     Kanary tried to interfere by shifting watch times but he found he was messing with more than Trueman being compelled thereby to keep his hands off.

     Trueman’s other problem was eating.  Navy food as prepared by Bocuse was intolerable to him.  He could eat only one out of three breakfasts so he filled up on toast.  Lunches were tolerable but the soggy green beans that accompanied every other dinner meant that he ate sparingly.  On the weekends he ate little if at all.  Needless to say a toothpick cast a bigger shadow than he did.

page 1473.

     Nervous excitement masked any sleep or nutritional defects Trueman might have had.  He had a strong consititution.  However the general trend of events was very unsettling to his mind.  The question of who had tried to commit him to the mental institution was worrisome.  That Tory Torbrick was the agent of someone was obvious but it seemed impossible that the Navy should have assigned him to the Teufelsdreck with that object in mind and he had known who Dewey was when he came aboard.

     Without knowledge of Yisraeli Trueman was mystified.  He indirectly associated the attempt with Kanary from whom he felt the pressure of discrimination but he could assign no cause.  He ruled out Captain Ratches and he refused to give Dieter the credit of enough intelligence to conceive or execute such a plan.

     However his suspicions seemed confirmed during the year’s K-gun exercizes.  On the day the U.S. Marines went ashore in Lebanon the squadron took to sea to further the Navy’s apparent attempt to rid the sea of tuna fish or any other living matter.

     First Division gathered around the Depth Charge racks and K-guns to perpetuate their skill at sowing the seas with high explosives.  Trueman took his former position at the second starboard mortar.  Dieter stood looking at him as the bile rose to his face to give him that liverish complexion.

     His mind roved longingly back to his attempted entombment of Trueman in the Depth Charge locker.  Snarling inwardly he ordered Trueman to go below during the exercizes.  Trueman was in no position to debate or disobey so he stepped down the after hatch to First.

page 1474.

     Dieter walked over and dropped the hatch on him.  As Trueman sat alone in the compartment his ubiquitous nemesis the queer Kanary dogged down the port hatch then crossing over to starboard, glowering menacingly as though he were actually executing Trueman, he dogged the starboard hatch.

     The fantastic Dieter having failed to destroy Trueman in the Depth Charge locker now dreamed that he was blowing Trueman up in First.  The aft charges were exploded with little more than a distant rumble.  But then the K-gun charges fired to the side began to report.  The first charges were deep but you could still hear the displaced water rushing up to the side of the ship followed by a dull thud as the pressure hit the side.

     The mad Bos’n’s Mate was nearly insane with rage at Trueman’s lack of reverence or interest in his exploits as the Hero of Saipan.  As the exercise progressed the charges were set for shallower and shallower depths.  The thuds became clangs as the displaced water crashed against the hull followed by the plate rattling concussion.

     Becoming more enraged as the charges become shallower Dieter ordered the next at sixty feet down two hundred feet out.  The force increased considerably.  The plates not only clanged but rattled as the sound reverberted up and down the hull.  The force rocked the ship a little but it didn’t heave out of the water as it had the previous year.

page 1475.

     Dieter slipped into another world.  He was about to order the next charge at the shallowest and closest in.  The charge at that speed,depth and distance might have burst the plates.  Dieter was so far gone in his chagrin as to sink his ship in an attempt to trap Trueman below.  From Saipan to sinking his own ship.

     However the last charge had brought the Captain to his feet.  Standing in the starboard lookout with his glasses trained on Dieter he had the bridge talker call Dieter to the phone.

     ‘That’s enough for today, Chief.  Pack it in and clean it up.’

     ‘Yes, Sir.’  Dieter replied as his mind slowly returned from its nether regions.

     The sailors who had it figured out blew out a sigh of relief.  The Mad Chief was derailed from committing a crime of the first magnitude.

     The after hatch was propped up as the Gunner’s came down to replenish their Depth Charges.  Dieter followed them down to gaze first lovingly into the hold he had wanted to place his nemesis and then over at Trueman as though he wished him there.

     Trueman did not consciously process the information entering his brain.  It went directly into his subconscious where it worked like yeast in bread.  He had a little over a year to go; he knew he must be very wary.

     His mental malaise was exacerbated by the subsequent discharge of the men of low I.Q.  As in Guam over fifty men left the ship at one time.  They received their orders on the same day streaming off the Teufelsdreck at a happy gallop.  As Trueman looked at Dieter he thought ruefully that the fat mad Chief should join them.  Trueman was wrong though, Dieter wasn’t that dumb he was the proud possessor of a score of thirty-three.

page 1476.

     As the ship had never been fully replenished after Guam in addition to the departure of the Black sailors the crew was very depleted.  First was nearly half empty as a couple dozen bunks were left unused.  Trueman who had been spitefully moved from his favorite bunk to a middle bunk in the starboard center tier now took the opportunity to move back to his former bunk announcing that anyone who didn’t like it could kiss his ass.  As no dissenting voices were raised it may be assumed that all were unpleased with the opportunity to kiss Trueman’s ass.

     The pleasure of the unwonted roominess was destroyed as the replacements began to come aboard.  The amazing thing was that the low I.Q. sailors had been the most objectionable men on board.  However the replacements, if of a higher I.Q., were even worse but in different ways.

     These were all men of the high school class of ’57.  Now it is a fact that the class of ’56 had the highest ever scores on the scholastic aptitude tests.  Beginning in ’57 the scores began a long decline that to my knowledge hasn’t ended yet.

     The causes of the decline in the way of society are debated with no results but it must be true that years subsequent to ’56 did not digest the material if they received it.

     This fact was evident to the perplexed members of the crew.  The new men’s reactions to Navy discipline were even more deplorable than those arriving with Dewey.  The new men even made Frenchey seem like a stellar performer.  Frenchey had always gone through the paces but the new men refused even to do that.  Worse, they even seemed incapable.

page 1477.

     The class of ’56 seemed to be different than earlier years but intermediate between those and subsequent years.  Somehow they were neither of the Depression mentality or the Affluent mentality.  They were neither as solemn and dutiful as the earlier years nor as flighty and irresponsible as the subsequent years.

     The education and expectations of the younger men seemed entirely different from what had gone before.

     The difference of a single year had changed their expectation toward affluence.  Born in ’39  they had come to an age of awareness in the post-war years.  Too young to have a memory of the Depression or War years they knew only the boom years of the late forties and fifties.

     Having begun high school in ’55 and ’56 they were all of the Rock and Roll generation.  The class of ’55  had missed the Rock and Roll influence completely.  In that respect their tastes were those of the preceding generation.  The class of ’56 had been mixed in its influence.  Half had rejected Rock and Roll completely while a quarter accepted it as part of what was happening; another quarter, to which Dewey belonged, had embraced the music wholeheartedly.  Still, Dewey had little in common with the new men on that score.

      In addition the new men, while not of the TV generation, had grown up with it during their teen years thus identifying completely with the tube while Dewey had only known TV for about three years before leaving high school.  It is to be assumed that the classes before ’56 had less TV time than that or none.  So that while the new men had been absorbed into the TV phenomenon, earlier men saw TV as a phenomenon not part of their psychic organization.

page 1478.

     Howdy Doody, Kukla Fran and Ollie and the Mickey Mouse Club were alien to the older men.  The importance of the Mickey Mouse Club especially should not be under estimated.  The World War II vets like Dieter had no inkling of the emerging consciousness.

     In addition and most importantly the new men had attended high school while the civil rights movement was gearing into full swing.  The resultant uproar was very disquieting as the schools began to move from educational institution into Thought Management systems.  Learning became subsidiary to attitude formation.

     Black-White relations were managed by a small percentage of Whites concentrated in the universities, the press, publishing, entertainment and like influential areas.  They were and are a self-righteous group of people who will use any excuse to belittle others and magnify themselves.  They consider their opinion paramount to the law or perhaps more accurately they equate their opinion with the law.  They have been in control from the times of Reconstruction to the present.  They assume that they are pure and all others are foul and evil.

     They assumed that all other Whites were and are incurable bigots.  They assumed that all others had to be tightly controlled and beaten into submission.  They moved from individualism into collectivism.  They were censorious; they would tolerate no discussion of the problems and difficulties except on their own terms.  Hence, while claiming to be pure democrats they imposed an authoritarian system not less severe than Hitler or Stalin punishing by expulsion from the community of anyone who dissented from their explicit viewpoint for any reason.

page 1479.

     Small violations were met with draconian punishments.  A sportscaster using the word ‘nigger’ in private conversation would be stripped of not only his livelihood but his self-respect.  These criminal demons would actually equate such a person with Hitler.  In a word they had been driven insane by their self-righteousness.

     In their efforts to punish other Whites by making them consort with Negroes they wantonly insulted Black Folk by denying that they were capable of educating themselves.  They completely destroyed the Black educational infrastructure turning an entire cadre of educators out on their ears from satisfying and rewarding careers to menial tasks.  These Whites didn’t look forward and they didn’t look back.  They weighed and evaluated nothing they merely acted out of their self-righteousness.

     No consideration was taken of either the Negro intellect or the White intellect.  No attempt at psychology was made.  Thus with no preparation of either Blacks or Whites, Blacks were thrown into what Blacks considered a hostile environment.

      Now, the image of this little Black girl in her cute little pink dress being escorted down the walk by the Army in Little Rock is a very effective piece of propaganda but cute little Black girls would never be the problem.  Big Black boys with knives and razors bent on vengeance would be.

page 1480.

 

 

    

    

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A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 3

     And so Cracker Jack tried to work himself back in.  It proved to be impossible as his finger prevented his working while complications kept him going back and forth to hospital.  In the end the Navy had to discharge him.  The tragedy was that because of his frail self-esteem caused by his brutalization back in Georgia he was prevented from ever realizing his potential.  He eventually became an odd job and handyman.

     Torbric sat down by Dewey amid the hubbub of Cracker Jack’s return.  Tory was all chutzpah; he had no shame.

     ‘Hey, Dewey.’

     ‘Torbrick, what in the world could you possibly want with me?’

     ‘Hey, I don’t know what you’re so touchy about, Dewey.  I just wanted to see if you’d like to come up to Long Beach this weekend.’

     ‘What?  Are we going to Atascadero again?  Dewey sneered, amazed at Trobrick’s lack of conscience.

     ‘No.  My pop and me thought you would like to meet Beverly Warnack.’

     ‘Who’s Beverly Warnack?’  Dewey asked, forgetting Torbrick’s mention of the psychiatrist at the hospital for the mentally disturbed.

      Dewey’s lack of violence precluded Atascadero, Bert thought maybe a regular asylum would do.

     ‘Is that all you know, psyciatrists?’  Dewey asked.  Having narrowly escaped confinement on the grounds he wasn’t violent Dewey was in no mood to give Bert and Tory another shot at him where violence wouldn’t be the issue.

page 1382.

     ‘Yeah.’  Torbrick laughed self-consciously in answering the question.  ‘I guess so.’

     ‘Listen Torbrick.  I don’t ever want you to speak to me again.  Understand?’

     Torbrick walked away but he didn’t understand.  Guilt now bound him closely to Trueman.  As good as his word Trueman ignored Torbrick completely.  Unable to break down Trueman’s defenses Torbrick did an end run ingratiating himself into Trueman’s clique; in that manner he succeeded in forcing himself on Dewey again.

     For now Dewey finished his shoes.  Unable to bear the expense of transportation he had made a momentous decision.  He decided to begin hitchhiking to Oakland.

On The Road Again

     The best and bravest are dead.  All that are left are the scum- the liars and cheats, the dancers wallowing in the fat of the land.

-Homer

     To undertake hitchhiking was a difficult decision for Trueman.  The desperateness of his situation is indicated by his decision to do so.  Dewey had always considered hitchhikers as semi-desperadoes.  Men who lived on the edge of the abyss of despair.  When his high school friend had become a hitchhiker around town Dewey was able to quell his dissatisfaction only with the utmost effort.  He had believed Larry had become declassed.  He was now willing to join the ranks of the declassed in order to escape the oppressiveness of the Navy.  His life was changed the moment he put his thumb out.

page 1182.

     In total he hitchhiked to Oakland no more than a dozen times but those dozen times made such an impression on him that he always believed that he had hitched all three years for tens of thousands of miles.  Each and every trip was packed with adventure and rare experience.  His life and well being were frequently on the line.

     The distance itself was staggering.  San Diego to Oakland was over six hundred miles in distance, thirteen hundred miles round trip.  While faster than the bus he was on the road for a minimum twelve hours each way.  The trip wasn’t worth it but he made it anyway.  The most that can be said was that he learned a lot about life and people.  Too much of nothing, as one poet put it:  ‘I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.’

     From the beginning he abandoned the policy of obtaining an out of bounds pass.  He found it humiliating to petition Sieggren on one hand while on the other it was a very minor offence that the California police couldn’t do anything about  anyway.  In a State full of desperadoes of the most desperate description what is a sailor without an out of bounds pass?

     Part of Dewey’s position was that his steps were being dogged in San Diego.  Our Lady was not about to let up on him.  Dewey had no idea why he was dogged but he knew it was so.  His weekly flights to Oakland took Our Lady by surprise.  While a man on the road is an open target by the time Yisraeli got organized his opportunity was almost over.

page 1383.

     Dewey took the bus, perhaps No. 30, out to the end of the line on Highway 101.  The San Diego CWBs would pick up sailors for hitchhiking in San Deigo so when you took up your position on the sand beside 101 your prayer was to get a ride from someone before the cops nailed you.

     Saying goodbye to his past Dewey stepped to the side of the road to put out his thumb.  Sailors always hitched in uniform as Uncle Sam’s blues were a sure guarantee that you would get easy rides.  There were many people who had sympathy for servicemen.

     Putting out your thumb is no lightweight matter.  Your style determines whether you will get a ride and who will give it to you.  Some guys hold their thumb up over their shoulder pointing down the road; some stick their arms straight out from the shoulder with the thumb held horizontal.  Some stick their thumb straight up in the air but that is guaranteeing you’ll be picked up by a fag.

     Dewey emulated his high school friend, Larry, by holding his arm down at waist level palm up, fingers closed, thumb pointing down the road.  It helps to jab it toward the centerline when a car passes to remind the driver what you’re after.  Other then that wear your most respectable face and stand up straight.

     A lot of guys find it necessary to insult a driver who seems to be passing them by bringing the thumb up in an arc ending with the middle finger erect.  Dewey was not of this frame of mind besides which many drivers do not make their decision until abreast of you or past you having looked you over carefully.  Both hitcher and driver are taking real chances.  Lotta crazy people in this world.

page 1384.

     Dewey had just put out his thumb when a local pulled over to pick him up.

     ‘I’m just going down the road a couple miles but it’ll at least get you out of the normal range of the police.’

     Dewey thanked him getting out a couple exits down the road.  The first ride in San Diego was frequently of this nature.  Locals who would not ordinarily pick up hitchhikers would at least move a sailor far enough our of range of the police to prevent his being picked up and returned to base.

      Rides were easy to pick up on 101 from San Diego to LA.  You seldom stood around long nor did you have to deal with homosexuals until you passed Anaheim.  After that every ride through LA would likely be a fruit.

     A couple short hops got Dewey above the Marine Base at Camp Pendleton.  Cpl.  Bill Baird picked him up.

    ‘Hi.  Bill Baird, Lubbock, Texas.’

     ‘Hi.  Dewey Trueman, uh, The Valley, Michigan.’  Must be the way the Marines do it, Dewey thought.

     ‘Havin’ a good time in your enlistment?’  Bill asked in the most relaxed laid back manner Dewey had ever seen.

     ‘Not so much I’m going to reenlist.’  Dewey replied in the usual sarcastic manner he considered wit.

page 1385.

     ‘I can follow you down that rabbit hole.  I’m taking the medical.’  Bill volunteered.  ‘How about you?’

     ‘You mean the under 30 and out?’

     ‘Yeh.’

     ‘I don’t qualify, otherwise I would.’

     ‘Well, I qualify and I’m taking it.  Bunch a guys are.  I can’t take this chicken shit outfit anymore.  We got some pretty crazy hombres, I can tell you.’

     ‘Yeah.  Know a few myself.’

     ‘We had this guy, Dalton Dagger?  This was somethin’ else.  He’s over in the brig now.  He was always touchy as hell, crazy as a loon.  He’s over in the brig now.  A couple of months ago he stepped out of ranks and just whaled into the Sergeant.  Stomped his ass bloody and royal, I can tell you.  Not that the bastard didn’t have it coming.  Lucky he didn’t kill the bastard.  Whatsa’ matter?  Why you so tense?’

     ‘No particular reason.’  Dewey replied.  ‘You’re one of the most confident drivers I’ve ever seen.’

     This was a particularly busy day on 101.  As the car moved into traffic above Anaheim the cars were bumper to bumper four lanes across.  Traffic was moving at fifty-five while Bill was moving at sixty-five.  Laid back and casual Bill slid his car into spaces no bigger than his automobile steering across all four lanes at a time always pursuing a zig-zag course but never slackening speed.

     Dewey was almost rigid and he gasped at some of spaces Bill slid his car into and out of.  Out of was almost more impressive than in.

page 1386.

     Aw man, relax, relax.  I know what I’m doing.  Here take one of these you won’t have no worries at all.’

     ‘What is it?’

     ‘Just a mo-o-o-d controller.  Tranquilizer.  Take it, make you feel real good.’  Bill handed Dewey a triangular black pill.

     ‘Drugs?  Uh, no thanks.’

     ‘Suit yourself.  Everybody at Pendleton’s doin’ somethin’.  Some really far out stuff too.  Man, there’s stuff nobody’s ever heard of.  We got this one guy, Jim Alexander?  Got some peyote buttons.  You know peyote?  Never heard of it?  Well, there’s this cactus grows down in Mexico, close to the ground, has these little buttons on ’em, you eat those and you get high.  Bitter as hell, get you sick.  After you eat ’em, if you can get ’em down, you throw up, after you throw up you get high.  Don’t like ’em myself.

     So anyway, Alexander ate a bunch of ’em, got real high, way up there; havin’ quiet conversations with the Architect of the Universe, know what I mean, really wiped his windows clean in that celestial gas station, opened the doors of perception for him.  Ever know that book Doors Of Perception by Elvis Harley, you will.

     So, ol’ Jim liked that so much about two weeks ago he ate twice as many, got way up there, high as you can go, he’s up there yet.  Still hasn’t come down.  I bet he’ll have stories to tell if he ever makes it back.’

     We…well, don’t you think he may have damaged his mind permanently?’

page 1387.

     Naw. why would he do that?  He just probably likes it up there, talkin’ to God and everything, wouldn’t you?  Wish I could.’

     ‘Well, I mean, how’s he do his work?’

     ‘Work?  He don’t have to work no more.  They got him under observation.  He’ll have some stories, I bet.  I’m tellin’ you everybody’s high on somethin’, or lots of different somethins. too.  Boy, the things I’ve taken.  Mushrooms, go-o-o-d.  Ever heard of LSD?  You have?  No kiddin’.  Man, get some of that right away, G0-o-o-der.  Rearrange your priorities right away.’

     Dewey was doing his best to relax.  He looked around hoping a cop would stop Bill so he could get out but the CWBs are never there when you need them.

     ‘You know I like you.’  Bill said.  ‘Don’t know why, there’s just something about you.  Dig this.  Know where I’m going?  Gotta get married.  Knocked this chick up.  Pissed me off, she shoulda been more careful. I’d walk but her mother got this phone in her hand, police on the other end.  Chick’s only fifteen, you see my problem?  No, you don’t.  No money, nada, not a sou.  Gotta go through with it though or it’s off to the hoosegow with me.  You could probably help me out.  You see, back in Lubbock I got this girl that’s hot for my dick, she can’t get enough, almost afraid for my health to go back, wouldn’t, but her old man’s got millions in the bank and wells pumping in the fields, you followin’ me?

     So, I get my medical and I go back to Lubbock and sit around humpin’ the bird with a bottle in one hand and joint in the other the rest of my days.  Betterin’ than those talkin’ to God blues, don’t you think?  That’s where you can help me out, dig?’

page 1388.

     ‘How’s that?  You want me to take the swing shift, give you a break?’

     ‘Ha, ha.  No. No.  You know what you could do for me?  You could marry my little chiquita here, satisfy her mother, know what I mean?  Get me off the hook, she doesn’t like me anyway.  Chiquita’s a hot little number soon as she drops her loaf.  Can’t get enough.  What do you say?’

     ‘Um, Bill, you know I’m not really in the marryin’ mood today.’

     ‘Hey, Dewey, this is buddy talkin’.  You won’t help a buddy out?’

     ‘Bill, helpin’ buddys is what I do best but I’m not going to get married.  I’m on my way to Oakland.’

     ‘You ungrateful son-of-a-bitch.  I give you a ride and you won’t even do me a favor?  Get out.  Get out.’

     The car was at the end of the freeway at Sepulveda Blvd.  They might easily have flown off the end if Dewey hadn’t refused to get married because relaxed Bill Baird was paying more attention to Dewey than the road.  As it was he slammed on the brakes pulling to the side of the off ramp by coincidence.  Cars nearly piled up behind him.

     ‘Get out, goddamn you, you ungrateful son-of-a-bitch.’

     Dewey wasted no time getting out of the car.  Shaking his fist at him Bill Baird rammed the pedal to the metal spinning down the ramp without even checking the traffic.  Jim Alexander must have been interceding with God for him.

     This left Dewey on foot in LA with little idea where he was or how to get North.

Pressure Gonna Drop On You

     Dewey was from the midwest.  Californians by which midwesterners generally meant Southlanders, were considered actual lunatics by midwest standards.  They were considered humanity stood on end.  The dichotomy was current in California in the LA-San Francisco rivalry.  The Southland was preeminently the home of nuts.  It was considered quite appropriate that LA was the home of Looney Tunes.

     As a midwesterner this attitude was part of Dewey’s intellect.  He was not alone.  Literature is replete with contempt for the Wasted Angels.  Why the Angels should be humanity turned upside down is not really all that complex a problem.  Anyone with an ounce of understanding however would have placed his money on the Wasted Angels for the future of mankind.

     It is strange that in this earthly paradise people at one and the same time should be both so happy and so unhappy.

      There is really no physical environment on earth like LA.  By LA I mean from the Grapevine in the North to the Southern border of Orange County and from the Beaches in the West to San Bernardino, Lake Arrowhead and Palm Springs to the East.  That is an immense and diverse piece of land with nearly every inch of it inhabited.  It includes the sweltering basin floor and the areas of Big Bear in the mountains.  Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower forty-eight, rises in those same mountains.

page 1390

     The weather is the finest that you can find in the world.  There is never a time when more than a T-shirt is needed for warmth day or night, unlike the French Riviera.  The ubiquity of asphalt and concrete means that there can be some very hot days when the heat is reflected back up but the humidity is low.  It is never as uncomfortable as Miami, Hawaii, Washington D.C. or New York City.

     In addition to the fabulous weather there is no form of natural or manmade entertainment that isn’t available.  There are other pleasant spots in the world like the Riviera and there are other spots for entertainment like Las Vegas but for my money there isn’t anything you can do in either place that can’t be done better in LA.

     The weather gives people a buoyant, ebullient, upbeat bounce but is countervailed by the squalor of the city.  Not that the city isn’t affluent and attractive because it is, or was at the time, but the exuberant expectations of an overly hopeful populace can never be met by reality.  There is an air of anxious desperation that lays over LA like its persistent smog.  In the bright sunshine there seems to be a low pressure system hovering like the Alaska Low to the North.  It wobbles from side to side but it never goes away.   The eye of the system lies over Watts.

     Strangely in this land of religious sects ranging from bizarre witchcraft cults like Aleister Crowley’s Golden Dawn through Rosicrucians, Theosophists, Manly Hall’s Philosophical Research Society, Garner Ted Armstrong’s Ambassador College, the Vedantists and what not to all the Protestant sects and the Catholic Church, there is so little spirituality.  There is only the crassest materialism.  Everyone believes salvation comes from the barrel of a pen and a check book.  Drugs are as commonly consumed as water.  Nor is drug consumption a recent phenomenon but goes back to the teens and twenties and even earlier.

page 191.

     Nor is there any social homogeneity.  LA is a layered construction of immigrants from all over the United States as well as the world.  Like Dr. Petiot they were all the kind of people who like to bring their baggage with them.  This is what gives the place its flavor.  At the beginning of the twentieth century the Anglos controlled the psychological atmosphere but that changed as the century wore on as other ethnic groups began to dominate.  They all have their neighborhoods where they congregate.  Little Thises and Thats.

     The Blacks, the leading subculture in America, invaded the area during and after the War.  As the influx continued during the fifties and sixties they spread over South LA from Watts.

     The increase in the Black population of California of over eight hundred percent during this period was not spread evenly over the State.  The major portion was in the Bay Area and LA which means that those areas increased by a thousand percent or better so that pressure on formerly White areas was rapid and instense.  This huge unassimilable immigration bearing the various Black intellects of Dixie was extremely disappointed on its arrival.  Nowhere else so much as in LA was the promise of the golden life in the Golden State so little realized.  If Whites were disappointed in their pursuit of material salvation the Blacks were enraged.

page 1392.

     As in Chicago and Oakland Blacks were not expected to venture forth from the Stockade without a pass.  They had to have a good reason to be anywhere else.  The Black writer, Iceberg Slim, says that he didn’t leave the Stockade willingly to drive across town for fear of police harassment.  It is to be imagined that he knew what he was talking about.

     It is true that you could travel all over the highways and byways of California without seeing a Black unless you went into one of their areas.  That was an unadvisable thing for a White to do.  In the time Dewey hitchhiked he saw only one Black family not only on the highway but driving any city street.

     In this brooding state of anxious depression amidst the state of hoped for material gratification there is no wonder that the Blacks of LA have erupted into destructive rages on occasion.

     The same anxious tension was endemic to the area but when Whites riot it is not called a justified rebellion to intolerable conditions and retribution is swifter, surer and harsher than any Black will ever experience regardless of what they think.

page 1393.

     I hope I will be excused for having no more than passing sympathy for the Black plight.  Whites are murdered and plundered by the police and nothing is or ever will be said or done about it.  Racism or whatever you want to call it is not just Whites oppressing Black folk.  It is rich against poor, the acceptable vs. the those they have made unacceptable; discrimination is the very fabric of our or any other society here or in Africa.  So Whites know better than to riot.  They resort to crime, vandalism and sabotage and take their punishment piecemeal.  It’s almost a blessing that Blacks don’t know how to do it right.

     In the beginning LA sold itself as a retirement center.  I haven’t seen the statistics but it is said that midwestern farmers sold out the farmstead to luxuriate in the warm California sun.  Iowans are always specifically mentioned with some contempt as though they were inferior to whatever passed for acceptable Wasted Angels.

     On top of them came the Jews.  Everyone knows better than to say anything derogatory about the Jews so they have never been criticized although they form the corrupt core of the LA intellect.  The Southland today is the second largest Jewish area in the US and probably larger than any location in Israel.

     They are so numerous and influential that they have been able to name the giant intersection of San Vicente and Wilshire after the founding Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion.  As covert objection is apparently taken to this coup you have to look twenty-five feet up the lamp post to see the sign where it has been placed out of reach of dissenters.

page 1394.

     During the Dust Bowl of the thirties Okies and Arkies and Texans who gave up their farms flooded into LA in numbers equaled only by the Negroes of the forties, fifties and sixties.  Unprotected by a condemnation of bigotry their invasion was less welcome than the Blacks and lacking a Hillbilly Anti-Defamation League they were criticized in terms that would have generated successful lawsuits from Jews.  Even in 1958 they were synonymous with total ignorance and treated in a discriminatory manner, usually having to accept jobs in service stations.  They gave LA a pronounced Hillbilly flavor.

     The Italians and Jews of organized crime came in with a rush as the decade of the thirties closed.  They quickly established their presence in their particular manner giving their own peculiar flavor to the business and social situation.  If you want a neat before and after comparison check out the first four novels of Raymond Chandler as compared with the last three.

     There was a substantial Chinese and Japanese population dating back to the nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth.  After the Asia Exclusion clause of the Immigration Act was eliminated in 1965 at the insistence of the Jews huge numbers of Far Eastern and Islamic peoples arrived.

     Why were the Jews anxious to revoke Asian restrictions?  Well, it was good for the Jews.  If you look at the map you’ll see that Asia stretches from the Pacific to the Mediterranean.  that means Israel is in Asia so no Jews could have legally emigrated to the United States from there.  It is a Jewish principle that no restrictions be placed on them as God’s chosen people.  Thus the Asian exclusion was eliminated to benefit them.

page 1395.

     The huge herogeneous population- LA is the second largest city in the US- had to have employment.  There was little hope that prosperity could be induced and maintained by selling lots to Iowa farmers.  Layers of industry like the layers of ethnic groups began to arrive.  As industry in LA is distributed throughout various communities over a vast area it is quite possible to miss the significance of LA as an industrial center.  Indeed, Dewey did.

     After 1914 the burgeoning new movie industry moved West from New York and environs to locate in LA.  The basic la la land reputation of LA arises from the movies.  Actors themselves are considered unstable people subject to subconscious whims.  Their excesses and style gave the city a much different flavor than say, Pittsburgh, where industrial executives indulged in the same excesses but with a more sedate style.

     The movies themselves brought in droves of hopefuls whose dreams could not be realized.  But the hopefuls were generally good looking and energetic.  They were looking for opportunities and they probably created a good many not only for themselves but for others.  Being an unstable lot the human wreckage was enormous creating an atmosphere of human exploitation.

     The movie industry from the start was the preserve of Jews.  There was no way you could work in the movies unless you kowtowed to Jewish desires.  That meant that all the scripts served Jewish ends.  After the forties the Mafia influence on the film industry increased dramatically.  Soon every fat ugly Italian mobster had a gorgeous Anglo sexpot dragging along behind him.

page 1396.

     The movies followed the discovery of oil.  First in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs then in a number of places.  Thus the basis of industrial prosperity was laid.  As an anti-union city LA was able to attract one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of industry in the country.  With the addition of the crown jewel of aero-space there was no stopping the prosperity.

     Climate, easy money, and sunshine; what more could anyone ask.

     However as people transformed LA, LA transformed people.  Back in their hometowns in settled conditions it was very important to maintain a respectable facade founded on an Augustinian style Christianity.  Activities that might tend to rend that facade were consigned to the basement rather than the light of day.  Then people suppressed their ‘Freudian instincts’ in favor of ‘normality’ and ‘morality.’

     In the feeding frenzy of LA where everyone became anonymous, being the indentity they chose to create for themselves on any given day, Augustinian mores were thrust aside in favor of subliminal Freudian desires.  Chutzpah became more important than morality or polite manners.  Crudeness was applauded.

     In a remarkable switch deplorable Freudian subconscious desires were more or less released into the light of day.  The casting couch morality became the norm while chaste sexual behavior was condemned.  The activities of the basement were elevated to the first floor while Augustinian morality was relocated to attic storage as useless baggage.

page 1397.

     Morality became a catch as catch can affair monitored by the eccentrics rummaging around in the moral attics.  You were only punished if you didn’t have the chutzpah to pull your crimes off.  Everyone was on the make.  If you weren’t strong or quick enough to make you became one of the made.  It was the triumph of American pragmatism.  The only thing that counted was if your scheme succeeded.  Success was morality and if you didn’t succeed you whined on over to your lawyer and filed a lawsuit.  Whether the Wasted Angels needed Freud or anyone else to teach them this is debatable but it was Freudianism in action.

     The tenor of morality was controlled by the Italian Mafia in conjuction with the Hollywood Jews but the style was more of a Protestant or Arthurian sort.  Open and brazen.

     The most important element of the LA mix was the movies.  Now, it is a fact that the movies were and are a Jewish enterprise.  Anything that doesn’t please the Jews isn’t going to make it to the screen.  In the early days the Jews felt constrained to cater to Anglo-Saxon tastes thus Jewish desires and needs were sublimated.  the axis of taste and style shifted however.  An Anglo-Saxon intellect like D.W. Griffith was subtly edged out of the stream or as they say, ‘marginalized.’

     Marginalization is the PC way of saying censored and discriminated against, blacklisted.  As in the old days Jews and Negroes were not welcome now the ‘marginalized’ are discriminated against.  This is called ‘Democracy.’

page 1398.

     Only gois like Cecil B. DeMille who honored Jewish dictates were allowed to survive but they were kept on a short tether.  Chastised for his early portrayal of Jesus as King of Kings De Mille was forced to  turn to the Old Testament epics that glorified Hebrews in expiation.  Thus in the history of the movies you will find many more Old Testament epics than you will find Christian ones.

     The chaste Arthurian heroines of Griffith like Lillian Gish were replaced by big hipped, big busted loose acting women like Jean Harlow and Mae West.  Nice girls couldn’t make it in the movies.

     The Second World War put an end to all that had gone before.  The old Hollywood died.  Television has been given credit for destroying the movies but that is absolute nonsense.  At the end of the century amidst much fiercer competition for the entertainment dollar than in the immediate post war years the movie industry is more successful than in its heyday.  The truth of the matter is that the prewar world of Anglo-immigrant conflict on which the content of the movies had been based had disappeared.  the industry languished in the search for a new ethic which also coincided witht the introduction of TV.

     The Jews of Hollywood formed the new ethic and they formed it in their own image.  They no longer felt the need to cater to Anglo-Saxon tastes.  The movie ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ which was about a goy posing as a Jew seeking to create anti-Semitic reactions when they didn’t exist was the opening salvo of the Jewish campaign.

     Interestingly enough this tradition of sensitivity was continued forty years later in a movie by the Jewish producer Steven Spielberg by the title of ‘Men In Black.’

     In this movie an organization based on the ADL has a world wide organization not unlike the International Jewish Conspiracy called the Men In Black.  They seek anti-Semite ‘creeps’ who are all so disguised that a person of reasonable sensitivity could never recognize them.  It takes the highly developed sensitivity, otherwise known as paranoia, of these covert ‘saints’ to recognize them.  In other words the so-called ‘witchhunt’ of the McCarthy era has been sanitized into a holy way of life but with potentially anti-Semitic targets rather than Judaeo-Communists.

     Needless to say the Men In Black were clones of the Man In Black needed to purify the country as sung by the Kingston Trio and the attempt to live it by Johnny Cash.

     Thus by controlling the content of movies the Jews had progressed from ‘entertaining’ the goys to showing them up in ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ to controlling them in ‘Men In Black.’  This was a very remarkable achievement in more or less fifty years.

     The Jews did have to make concessions to the brutal methods of the Italian Mafia.  Originally cast as brutal oafs with Anglo-Saxon names in the gangster movies of the thirties the Mafiosi emerged as brutal oafs with Italian names in the post-war years.  The difference was that they made brutal oafishness acceptable.  Movies like ‘The Godfather’ legitimized their methods in turn brutalizing the rest of the population.

page 1400.

     Two other groups shaped the form of the post-war movies.  The ubiquitous Revolution and the Homosexual community.  All four groups functioned quite harmoniously together.  All four wished to sap the Anglo-Saxon government they despised.

     The Revolution was quite subtle.  In movies like The Ugly American they made the charity, kindness and good intentions of the American native seem like the grasping, mercenary moves of a sexual predator.  As in all Revolution movies the Soviets or Chinese Communists come off as the good guys.  In movies like Dr. Strangelove the Soviets and the Red/Liberal government of America seemed to be opposed by an industrial military complex controlled by lunatic Anglo-Saxon Hillbillies.

     The Reds also seized on the novel by Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe to defame and revile the Anglo-Saxon.  Discrimination against those of English ancestry was quite common as the century drew to a close.  Defamation was frowned on unless the English were being defamed.

     In the most recent movie version of Robinson Crusoe the colonial peoples get their revenge as Friday make a fool of Robinson Crusoe.  The question is asked what if Friday grabbed the sword first?  Why then savagery would have reigned triumphant, what else?  It would be as in Africa when the English left, one tribe massacring the other.

     So also was the trend to glorify homosexuality.  Homos and Lesbians were always portrayed sympathetically while homosexual sadistic brutality became the normal mode of expression.  More and more movies began to appear in which brutal murders or shootouts took place in public toilets, a sure sign of homosexual influence.  The most favorite scene was when the shooter thought he had his man trapped in the ‘shitter.’

page 1401

     The target always places his shoes and pants to look like he’s on the throne while he has climbed above the stall.  There is only a moment for the obligatory puzzled look on the shooter’s face as he gazes into the empty stall before the shitter descends on him from above like a load of shit.

     A criminal attitude toward life became the standard outlook.  Hollywood called it ‘entertainment.’

     All things conspired in LA to create an unruly atmosphere.  Naturally control of such an unruly lot required a strong police force; nearly an occupying army.  Enter the LAPD.  Los Angeles had the most feared law enforcement agency on either side of the Gestapo or KGB.  The only real difference between the LAPD, the Gestapo and the KGB was a matter of style and that was narrow.

     The Black Folk might like to think they were singled out for rough treatment but in their insularity they just don’t know.  A late century criminal like Rodney King might be able to start a riot by resisting arrest and getting beaten for it but for every Rodney King there are dozens of nameless Whites who are beaten, crippled or killed with no recourse to ‘discrimination.’  A dead White man is only a dead White man who had it coming.  It is only the concept of racism that makes a Black man killed by the CWBs a crime.

page 1402.

     Members of the Gestapo or KGB are fearsomely portrayed in the movies but you don’t know what fear is until you’ve had a jack booted, jodhpured, helmeted, dark visored, CWB with a Dick Tracy array of gadgets and guns belted to his midriff walk up to you with the full intent of knocking you to the ground with his leaded billy if you show impertinent curiosity as to his intent, let alone, spirit.  You better be Black if you want to file a complaint because they throw White boys out on their ear.

     The LAPD walked mean and talked mean with the uncompromising full support of not only the legal system but the financial and political power behind them.  No action would be taken against a CWB no matter what he did or why.  There were corrupt, vicious, criminal and big with a license to kill before .007 made the scene.  They were often used as hit men by the powers that be.

     No one but the terminally insane like Rodney King ever messed with them.  Being Black is a very poor excuse.  There was no question that if you fought the LAPD the LAPD won.  It was a suicide mission.  One tried not to be seen with them even standing next to them.  How could anyone Black or White sympathize with a fool like Rodney King?

     All those bad ass Blacks, wild Hillbilly Boys and assorted desperadoes didn’t pay the LAPD no mind. The Mafia and ADL were greased of course so the LAPD didn’t pay them no mind.  In its relaxed way LA was the toughest city in the world.

     Now, as an innocent at large Dewey Trueman was dropped off in the dark at the end of the freeway on Sepulveda Blvd. with no idea where he was or how to reach the Grapevine.  Dewey scuffed the pavement with frustrated kicks wondering what to do next.  He spotted a gas station a block away where he hoped to receive good information.

page 1403.

     The worst of it might be that some joker would send him down to Watts where he would have one hell of a time of it.  The first major eruption in Watts didn’t occur until 1965 but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of little tremors first.  White was not a popular color in Black Watts.  Even high yellows had to take care down there.

     Luck was with Dewey.  He had developed a good tough scowling Navy walk.  You have to act so tough to get by in America.  A term of approbation during the fifties was ‘that’s tough, man.’ meaning that’s a cool shirt, for instance.   They even wrote a lilting tune called ‘So tough’ to celebrate the condition.  Toughness will get you further than politeness any day.

     The attendant eyed him up.  Respect for the uniform and attitude got Dewey correct directions.  The attendant advised him to go over a couple blocks to La Cienega then North toward the Hollywood hills to Lankersheim Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley, or just the Valley, thence to the foot of the Grapevine.  A formidable forty miles or so through uncharted territory.  Being young and dumb was a big asset to Dewey, otherwise he would have had to think twice.

     Hitchhiking through LA meant running a seventy mile gauntlet of queers.  Dewey was psychologically unprepared for this although common sense should have told him that anyone standing by the side of the road soliciting rides could be construed as being ‘lonely’ and desiring company.  He was concentrating on his own needs which were to get from point A to point B.  Nevertheless the highway is the proper place for sexual adventures.

page 1404.

     As usual the homos were out in numbers so there was no dearth of rides.  Homosexuality was still against the law but the make or made attitude of LA drove large numbers of defeated men into homosexuality in an attempt to regain some masculinity.  If you lost yours you could hope to suck or siphon it out of someone else.

     It always seemed strange to Dewey that these homos were out patrolling the highways.  As many as there were, he thought, you’d think they could find some way to get together or identify each other.  Eventually they did when they created Disco.  However at that time there were few obvious homosexuals.  The closet was the right place to be.  Mostly they relied on hand signals to identify each other like moistening the eyebrow with the little finger.

     In reality they rejected their own as sexual objects preferring virgins instead.  That was where the real manhood was.  Either that or they preferred the danger of strangers in the dark.  There was no difficulty in rolling a gay.  They actually invited beatings being sado-masochistic.

     If you were game for a homosexual adventure or led them on they drove you to secluded spots of which they knew plenty even in the middle of the city.  Most of them wanted to blow you so a crack on the head with a blackjack while they were down there presented no difficulty.  It’s a wonder more of them weren’t killed.

page 1405.

     Most of them got straight to  the point resulting in a two block hop.  Some were more discriminating taking a mile or so to make up their minds.  Dewey’s luck was a succession of two block hops all the way up La Cienega to Wilshire.

     Dropped off on the South side of Wilshire Dewey crossed the street to find himself in a wonderland by night.  Change comes swiftly in LA.  La Cienaga from Wilshire to Santa Monica at the time was a glitzy restaurant row for tourists.  The street was at its apex.  Seemingly imperishable in the bright lights at the time all but Lawry’s would be gone within ten years or so.

     Like Lawry’s these were all mammoth restaurants seating hundreds.  Any one of them would have seated the patrons of all the restaurants in the Valley of Michigan on any given night.  The bustle was gorgeous and immense.

     Much to the amusement of the car parkers and doormen of which each restaurant seemed to have dozens Dewey gawked like any red dirt Georgia farm boy on his first trip to the city.  He yearned to be part of the scene.  Twelve years later when he came back having no other choice but Lawry’s he ate there.  It was a good restaurant but like a bottle of wine promised more than it could deliver.

     For now, heedless of time, Dewey walked slowly up to Santa Monica Blvd. taking it all in.  He stopped before the windows of Zeitlin and Ver Brugge an excellent book store to ogle their fine display.  He would one day shop there but it too followed the restaurants into oblivion.

page 1406.

     He was lucky enough to catch a ride from Santa Monica to Sunset with a foursome enjoying LA to the fullest.

     Like La Cienega Sunset was if not actually in decline on the verge of decline.  This was the time of the TV series 77 Sunset Strip. Raymond Chandler complains of the Mafia and its hold on restaurants.  So organized crime had run the restaurant scene for some time although it was nowhere so obvious as in Dean Martin’s restaurant,  Dino’s, which naturally commanded the central spot on the strip.  Unlike the tourist traps of La Cienega Sunset was where the LA glitterati went to shine.

     The Eve of Destruction lurked on the North side of the street tucked behind the glitter against the hills.  Strangely Dewey found his way there.  Just as the jive talking parking lot attendant of 77 Sunset Strip,   Ed ‘Kookie’ Byrnes, represented the obverse side of hip culture the Beat character Maynard Ferguson would have frequented the coffee shop called the ‘Eve Of Destruction.’  He didn’t stay long.

     As with everything in Hollywood the Wasted Angels sought out the essence of a thing and turned it into a movie set.  If you wanted an authentic coffee house you had to go to San Francisco.  If you wanted artificial people playing at being Beats in movie set coffee houses you went to LA.  In San Diego the scene was like someone who had heard of Beats and setting up a coffee house on that hearsay.  They completely missed the point by called a coffee house:  ‘Socrate’s Prison.’  Really strange.

 page 1407.

     At the time Dewey was rigorously authentic.  As an outsider of society he was quite familiar with hip jargon and Beat attitudes if unfamiliar with them in context.  He was not only offended at the phony coffee house, but the tough Mafioso who regulated admittance of the clientele took offense at his appearance.

     Unlike the later Studio 54 of New York the coffee house couldn’t select its clientele from a long line of hopefuls but it could deny entrance to those it considered unsuitable.  The tough young criminal found Dewey objectionable about the same time Dewey was revolted by what he saw.

      Dewey was already leaving when the bravos moved toward him to drive him out.  Therein lay the corruption of LA.  The Anglo-Saxons were an inclusive people.  Having inhabited America they invited all the peoples of the world to come on over too.  But many of the peoples of the world like the Italians and the Jews were exclusive peoples.  They were narrow and discriminatory.  They only wanted to admit people who met their circumscribed standards of acceptability.

      Clubs may be exclusive but restaurants cannot be.  As the Mobsters drove out people they found objectionable the clientele diminished in proportion to the number of tough acting, though talking Mobsters who thereby dominated the clientele.  As the regular clientele disappeared there were only a bunch of criminals sitting around insulting anyone who walked in.  The Mob restaurants all went out of business one after the other.  They should have formed clubs.  But without any outsiders to impress with their tough tough ways there was no joy in that.

page 1408.

     Their attitude may have worked well in economic backwaters like Sicily and the Pale but in a booming expansive economy the attitude is counter productive.  Of the pool of potential customers the number of rejected is always much greater than those who are acceptable.

     As the Jews and Italians always want to be in the high profile areas the acceptable are too few to meet expenses hence the restaurants always go out of business.  Dino’s was the opening wedge in the destruction of Sunset Strip.  The hammer that drove the wedge in was across the street.  The Beats, who were not a respectable intelligencia were soon to evolve into the Hippies who were neither respectable nor intelligencia.  There was something happening here but no one understood.  By the mid-sixties all the glamor was gone from Sunset Strip.  the Mafia and the Hippies had driven everyone away.

     Rather than put his thumb out amidst the glitz Dewey walked on down to the corner of Laurel Canyon to begin there.  It was one of the longest walks of his life.  Once again his uniform availed him nothing; if anything it marked him as an inconsequential person to be ignored.  Ignored he was; the self-important people intent on entering a Mafia dive like Dino’s blinded by their desire to appear ‘in’ walked right over Dewey as if he weren’t there.  Women as well as men.  They didn’t brush by him they walked right through him.  Dewey was not aware of slipping out of their way but he must have as no physical contact was made nor was he knocked aside.  He saw men and women standing near the entrances looking in his direction and laughing but he never knew why.

page 1409.

     Continuing up Sunset through lights so bright the headlights of cars seemed dim Dewey found his way to the corner, crossing over Laurel Canyon to put out his thumb.  He was picked up immediately.  His ride wasted no time.

     ‘Unzip your fly.’  The homo commanded before the car had reentered the stream of traffic.

     ‘Zip your lip.’  Dewey commanded reflexively in turn.

      That was a fairly witty exchange but the fruit was not in the mood for witty repartee; he wanged to the curb at the first opening.

      ‘Put out or get out of my car.’  He demanded.  ‘Nobody rides for free.’

     ‘That’s right, Jack, and you ain’t got enough to pay the fare.’  Dewey sneered as he slid out of the car.

     He was pulling his middie down and arranging his scarf when a car pulled up before he’d even put his thumb out.  He got in.

     ‘He there, Sailor.  You’re a likely looking guy.’

     ‘For what?’  Dewey asked.

     ‘You can drive?’  His ride asked.

     ‘Are you kidding?’  Dewey sneered.  He’d been behind the wheel once a couple years previously.  He hadn’t done too well but he figured that was his first time.  The next time he’d be a regular Barney Oldfield.

page 1410

     ‘OK.  I’m going to pull up in front of a liquor store up here.  When I get out slide over into the driver’s seat.  I’m going to be coming out of the liquor store in a hurry.  When I do don’t even wait for me to slam the door; have it is gear and just get the hell out of there.

     OK.  Here we are.  See this corner here?  Go up to the next one and turn right.  Don’t let anyone slow you down.  Run ’em over if you have to.’

     The driver took a huge .45 automatic out from under the seat dramatically snapping a clip into place.

     Dewey quickly came up with the sum of four.  they both opened their doors at the same time as Dewey stepped out.

     ‘No, no, man.  Just slide over.’

     ‘This is where I wanted to get out.’  Dewey said politely walking away.

     ‘Aw, chicken shit pansy.  Nobody rides for free.’

     Where have I heard that before?  Dewey asked himself.

     Undeterred by Dewey’s defection his ride entered the liquor store exited in a hurry, got back in his car and shook his fist at Dewey as skidded around the corner.

     A block later the CWBs pulled up.  A pair of jackboots and dark visors grabbed him by the arms.

     ‘Just a second, Sailor, we want to have a few words with you.’  the voice of an anonymous Gestapo figure admonished from under his crash helmet behind the dark visor and dark glasses.  ‘We don’t like swabbies comint to our town and committing robberies.’

page 1411.

     ‘I wouldn’t either.’  Dewey said without thinking.

     ‘You getting smart with me, son?’  The officer said pushing Dewey backward across the other CWB’s extended foot.  Dewey crashed to the ground.

     Now if Dewey had been as stupid as Rodney King he would have come up cursing and swinging.  The CWBs would have made no bones about breaking his.  Sitting downtown in the can Dewey would have no recourse but the suffer the indignity and its accompanying jail term.  He would have been just another no account loud mouthed White Boy who deserved no considerations.  No riots for Dewey.

     ‘Now, you were seen getting out of the car of the man who just robbed that liquor store back there.  What’s your story?’

     At least they were nice enough to ask back in those days.

     ‘Uh, no story.  I was…’ Dewey was about to say hitchhiking then thought better of it.  ‘…in a bar back on the Strip and met the guy and we were going to somewhere else when he turned out to be queer.  He pulled over and I got out.  That’s all I know.’

     ‘What bar was that?  Your ID says you aren’t twenty-one yet?’

     ‘Coffee bar.  It was a coffee bar.  The big one back there across from Dino’s’  Dewey corrected himself.

     The CWB leaned close but could smell no liquor.

     ‘That’s it?’

     ‘Yeah.  Of course that’s it.  I’m no crook.’

     The cop had no real reason to hold Dewey, not that he needed one, so he gave indications of letting him go.

page 1412.

     ‘Teufelsdreck, hey?  Where’s your base?  San Diego?  You got an out of bounds pass?’

     ‘This is only LA.  Don’t need one.’

     ‘Maximum’s a hundred miles from San Diego, isn’t it.  Used to be when I was in.’

     ‘Just barely.  They told us LA is OK without a pass.  Exec doesn’t want to be bothered.’

     ‘Oh, ‘they’ did, did ‘they’?  Well, watch your step, bud.  Stay out of trouble.’  The CWB said throwing Dewey’s ID at his feet which seemed to be SOP for CWBs everywhere.

     Dewey let them drive off then put out his thumb.  A car wheeled across traffic from the other side of the street where the driver had been watching.

     ‘What was that all about?’  He demanded, his curiosity shooting out in blue flames.

     Nobody rides for free.  Dewey thought and nobody gets my story for nothing.

     ‘It’s a long story.’  Dewey replied laconically.

     ‘I got time.’  The driver said eagerly.

     ‘Yeah.  Well.  I’m trying to get to Lankersheim Boulevard in the Valley.  You heading in that direction?’

      ‘As a matter of fact, I am.’

     He made all the right turns weaving through the Hollywood Hills as Dewey spun his story out as long as he could beginning with ride from the Marine, Bill Baird.  He had just finished his story when the car descended the hills unto Lankersheim beside Universal Studios in North Hollywood.

     ‘Cops are a bitch.’  The driver said as Dewey got out.

     ‘Sure are.  Thanks for the ride.’

page 1413.

Love Letters In The Sand

     Lankersheim was the heart of the run through LA to the Grapevine.  It was one twenty mile gut through the Valley.  On Friday nights the street was vital as a drag strip.  It may have been the finest drag strip in the nation, wide enough for micro contests of bravado and long enough to exhaust your strength.

     The entire gut was thronged with high schoolers from all over LA.  Thousands of cars inched North while thousand more crawled South.  Boys hung out of cars hooting at girls.  Girls gave them that look promising everything if only they could get together across the throng.

     Cries of ‘Turn the car around, dammit, she wants me.’  abounded on all sides.  The girls knew they were safe but the vanity of the boys made them believe the impossible.  No car could turn around although some daredevil might try from time to time but this only resulted in traffic jams and cursing from the other boys.

     Boys hurled deadly insults to other boys knowing they were safe within the glacial flow of traffic.  In the anonymity of this melange of high schoolers drawn from hundreds of square miles of LA there was a slim chance anyone would ever see anyone else again.

page 1414.

     At strategic points self-appointed marshalls sat on their cars identifying and cataloguing cars they’d seen before.  With little else to do but interfere in other people’s business they plotted and schemed to control this incredible galactic happening that occurred every Friday night.  In whatever manner they worked they were able to determine who could and who could not take part in the parade.

      When they found someone they didn’t like the wheels went into motion and the Lankersheim version of the ADL or Mafia sprang into action.  the car was isolated by the organization; the driver either proved himself or found his safety very uncertain.

     This tremendous show was kids from the classes of ’59, ’60 and ’61.  Their conception of morality had changed drastically from the crowd of ’54,’55 and ’56.  There hadnot been too many saints around in the latter years but by ’58 concepts of the permissable had deteriorated drastically.

     There was scant respect for people or property.  Moral considerations had been swept aside.  Decency was a thing of the past.  More than ever if you couldn’t out tough the toughs there were no social or moral supports to restrain anyone.  Aleister Crowley’s moral: The whole of the Law shall be: Do as thou wilt was but a fact.  The only restraint was outraged public opinion and that worked but slowly.

     Even the, if convicted, and the scope of restriction on evidence was constantly made more difficult, the sentences were minimal.  As heinous as Caryl Chessman’s actions were it was ridiculous he got the death penalty when actual murderers were serving three years or even less.  For many men aboard the Teufelsdreck it was worth three years to murder someone they didn’t like.

page 1415.

     All over LA the youth were committing egregious crimes.  They burgled houses in broad daylight.  If caught they beat up the homeowners laughing them to scorn.  They had the strength to perpetrated while the homeowners didn’t have the strength to resist.  Crowley was taken literally.

     The Old Fuds couldn’t figure out what was going wrong.  Here these kids had everything and they were satisfied with nothing.  This wasn’t the Depression when things had been tough, the Old Ones lamented, these were prosperous times.  But still the kids ran wild in the streets.  Still, as they laughed at their elders and pushed them from sidewalks as they passed.

     The results of immigration and racial strife had come home to roost but nothing could be done about it so the Old Folks made plans to retire behind fences and walls in ‘planned’ communities.  They really thought they could distance themselves from problems in that way.  Crazy world.

     As Dewey looked down Lankersheim he gritted his teeth.  On the one hand all these dragsters meant that it would be difficult to get rides, while on the other it meant that it would have to tough it out to avoid fights.  If he had to fight his uniform would almost certainly be torn necessitation a return to the Base.

     Grimly he put out his thumb.  Here at the beginning of the gut things were at their mildest.  Mingled in all these kids were a myriad number of fruits.  Perhaps they found the gut a happy hunting ground for the young stuff.  At any rate a couple of them moved Dewey a couple miles into the center of things.

page 1416.

     He attracted a fair amount of attention from the dragsters who didn’t see many sailors on their strip.  Dewey fielded threatening comments from the marshalls sitting on their cars and laughed at the goofs hanging out the windows.  He only wished the girls blowing him kissers were half sincere.  In any event he wasn’t about to make a fool of himself by responding to them.

     then his gaze strayed across the street.  To he surprise he spotted Gonzo Lewis in front of a drug store.  Lewis was too preoccupied to direct his attention across the street so he didn’t notice Dewey.  Lewis was in uniform and he was panhandling.  Whether he was doing it to make for his lost income because of the advances or whether it was just a Man With The Twisted Lip routine couldn’t be determined but he appeared to be doing well.

     He stood with a forlorn expression which elicited more of a response than one would think.  People would ask what the matter was.  Lewis explained that he had had his pocket picked so that he no longer had the money to get back to the hsip.  People pressed money into his hands, not only change but folding cash.

     Gonzo was doing OK.  LA was the perfect paradise for him.  He pulled his stunt regularly, a different location each time so he wouldn’t become obvious.  Pasadena one time, Riverside another, Anaheim the next.  Disneyland was a terrific location especially as the clientele of tourists was never the same.  Gonzo was good too, he had his look and act perfected.  he more than made up for however much he had to repay the Navy.  Heck, he collected more each month than the Navy thought he was worth.

page 1417.

     ‘Oakland.’  Dewey said in response to the question of how far he was going as he opened the door.

     ‘Why Oakland?’

     ‘Know some people.’

     ‘On leave?’

     ‘Naw.  Just a forty-eight.  Weekend.  Gotta be back Sunday night.’  Meaning Monday morning but it was understood.

     ‘Already near midnight.  You’ll have to turn around and come back as soon as you get there.’

     ‘Think so?’

     ‘Sure do.  Seems like a waste of your time.  You should stay in the Valley and relax.’

    ‘Sure, but I don’t know anyone.  I can’t afford it.’

 

    ‘You know me.’

     ‘Not very well.  Just met.’

     ‘Time will remedy that.  What say you stay at my place.  We’ll party a bit then maybe I’ll drive you back to the base Sunday night?’

     ‘Aw, gotta get to Oakland.’

     ‘You’re short of money?  I could let you have some.’

     ‘Thanks a lot, but it’s Oakland or bust.’

     ‘You might as well get out there then, you’re wasting my time.’

     ‘OK.  Don’t say it:  Nobody rides for free, right?’

page 1418

      Several fruits later Dewey was standing at the foot of the Grapevine left by a not very considerate driver.  It was now one-thirty in the morning.

     The wise thing would probably have been to turn around and go back but that would probably have taken him all night anyway so he decided to go on.

     The heavy traffic of Lankersheim had disappeared.  It didn’t seem as though anyone was using the Grapevine this late at night.  The worst that could happen had happened, Dewey was on the Grapevine at night.

     The Grapevine was a fifty mile stretch of highway that led over the range of hills joining the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada.  The Grapevine itself, the highway, twisted and turned through this barren moonscape.  Things could and did happen up there.  If anyone cared to look they would find burial grounds.

     The wisest thing to do was to refuse all rides that didn’t get you completely over the Grapevine down into Bakersfield.  Dewey was too new to understand that so he took a ride that dropped him off where 126 to Ventura to the West split off.

     There Dewey stood in the dark night with the star spangled sky above him.  Navy blues are not a good outfit for hitchhiking in the dark.  Only that white hat stands out.  It didn’t matter too much because traffic had shut down for the night.  He arrived after two.  Only a couple cars passed between then and four thirty when he caught a ride.

page 1419.

     To amuse himself he stood out in the middle of the road daring a car to come along and hit him.  Even more daringly he sat in the middle of the road daring a car to come along and run him over.  He wandered from side to side standing for long minutes with his head tilted back on his shoulders gazing up at distant galaxies too far for the naked eye to see.  It was then his mind slipped into a different mode.  It wasn’t a dream and it wasn’t a day dream it was as though an automatic door opened allowing Dewey to step down a corridor into a house on the beach.  The house was exceptionally clean, neat and orderly, tastefully and sparingly decorated.  A fresh innervating breeze wafted through the open doors and windows.

     Dewey’s first real vision was entering the kitchen.  There was a woman he couldn’t see clearly standing to the left as he entered and another very beautiful woman seated against the far wall in a sort of high chair.  She was immobile, her face impassive, her eyes glazed and fixed; perhaps she was staring into the same invisible galaxy of the same distant super cluster into which Dewey was staring.  Perhaps their eyes met in that distant space.

     Dewey was delighted to find himself in what appeared to be his home as every nerve tingled with delight.  He spotted the sink, picked up a glass to draw some water and burst into song.  Strangest thing of all it was a Pat Boone song.  In the strong mellow unconstrained baritone he only wished he could command he sang:  ‘It was on a day like today, when…’  As he began ‘when’ the woman on the high chair came to life.  The glass and water disappeared.  In a happy joyful demeanor she appeared in his arms joining her voice to his in a soaring soprano.  ‘…we passed the time away, writing love letters in the sand.’

page 1420.

     ‘I thought you’d never come back.’  She exclaimed ecstatically.  ‘I’ve kept myself for you all this time.’

     Dewey was overjoyed to find his lost beauty again although he wasn’t aware she had been lost.

     He was about to say:  ‘Yes, Darling, I’ve yearned for you for so long.’  While leading her outside into the glorious blue of the sky, the buff of the beach and the innervating breeze.  He would have sat with her with the surf rolling in writing actual love letters in the sand.  But the other woman broke in to say what a miracle it was as Dewey’s Anima hadn’t spoken a word since she was thirteen.

     And then the Sheriff walked into the room demanding in a loud stern voice.  ‘What’s going on in here?’

     The stars appeared once again before Dewey’s eyes.  He had lost that beautiful buxom darling once again.  Nor could he find a trace of her as his eyes searched all across the universe from end to end.  The epiphany was over.

     The active memory faded from his mind immediately as his conscious mind descended into the Life in Death Hades of his daily existence.  Only the faint light of her glow remained out where his sight couldn’t see.  She was a hostess on a big mainliner out behind a cosmic cloud his vision couldn’t penetrate.  Where oh where could she be?

     Actually she was where she would ever be, only in his heart and in his mind.  Dewey didn’t have the psychology to understand his epiphany nor if Freud had been there did he have enough to explain it either.  While Freud put the understanding of dreamwork on a scientific basis he himself lacked the science to really develop his notions.  He understood the principle but he was never able to penetrate the veil.  All of his dream explanations in his dream book are less than superficial; at no time does he have an inkling of the true meaning of the symbolism.

page 1421.

     He was too preoccupied with Jewish political problems to actually probe the science of this subject matter.  If dreams can be considered the poetry of the psyche then daydreams are its prose.  Both dreams and daydreams deal with the same psychic traumata.  Both are seeking the same solutions.

     Daydreams since they originate in the subconscious and are manipulated by the conscious are in many way more important than dreams.  As a sort of novel they can be written down exactly as they occur if you are aware enough to capture them.

     With a catalog of a dozen or so the nature of your problem can easily be ascertained.  With that level of interference out of the way your conscious mind is free to probe further while your subconsicous is forced to send up fresh matter.  After a while you’ll bore yourself to death if you’re not careful, ending all your problems.

     Dewey’s experience was neither a dream nor a daydream but an actual ephiphany and a very pleasant one.  His subconscious mind had processed a mass of information so he actually believed rather than corrected for his tastes as one might in a daydream.  Daydreams have to be let flow without hindrance to show their full content.  Unfortunately the tendency is to correct them to bring them into consonance with conscious needs or fears.

page 1422.

     The meaning was quite simple to an analyst with the necessary information.  All of the information didn’t come from within the mind.  In those days there was a real controversy over Pat Boone vs. Elvis Presley.  Boone was the clean cut hero of the upper half of society while Presley was the common, vulgar hero of the other half.  At least that’s how the upper half perceived it and how the other half accepted it.

     As a member of the other half Dewey consciously passionately embraced the cause of Elvis but as he was never one or the other of anything, he shared characteristics of both.  Now, as his psyche, that is to say, his whole mind, processed the data concerning Boone and Presley in light of his own experience it dealt with all the details and not just the ones Dewey consciously dwelt on.  Thus his psyche came to different conclusions than Dewey’s intelligence.

     Dewey’s psyche did know how repressed he actually was.  Since his intelligence and psyche both admired the same thing his psyche fought to show his intelligence the way to freedom.

     Elvis as a member of the suppressed other half sang of their hopes and despairs as in such pre-Army songs as That’s All Right Mama, Mystery Train    and Heartbreak Hotel.  Dewey consciously related to both the despairing content of the songs and the hurt repressed style of delivery.

page 1423.

     On the other hand he sneered at the confident, expansive assertive style of Pat Boone’s  Love Letters In The Sand although he recognized the wholeness of the sound.  The open handed unimpeded baritone delivery from the deep chest was where he really wanted to be.

     The repressed high pitched wailing of the early Presley was where he actually was.

     It should be noted that something happened to Presley in the Army because when he came out he changed his hysterical frantic delivery for a more controlled baritone although not with the contented unrepressed openness of Boone.  It should also be noted that the Army never felt the need for the upper class Boone’s services.  Somehow he slipped through the draft even as an officer candidate.

     So the symbolism of Dewey’s epiphany was quite clear.  The house represents the self so Dewey had exchanged the prison of earlier dreams for a bright, airy, pleasant edifice.  the kitchen is the room of transformations, rebirth as in the loaf in the oven.  It too was impeccably clean.  The glass and water are symbols of the Anima or female.  The ocean and beach outside the windows is clear.  It should be noted that the windows were open to let in the fresh air.

     The woman on the stool who was about the same age as Dewey was quite obviously his Anima which had been repressed at the same time as Dewey’s Animus had been.  Thus as he bursts into song realizing the relaxed full chested baritone style of Pat Boone his Animus and Anima have been made whole again.  The glass and water coalesce into his Anima as she immediately comes back to life embracing his Animus in reunited bliss.

page 1425.

     They would have gone outside to write love letters in the sand had not the Sheriff of Dewey’s censorship  invaded the ephiphany to destroy it.  the Sheriff rlated to an incident in Dewey’s infancy when a real sheriff had just walked into the back door of the house saying the exact same words in his response to hier mother’s telephone call.

     One may presume that the woman who rejoiced at the Anima’s revival was somehow related to Dewey or it may have been the Terrible Mother aspect of his Anima.  Another form of censor.

     In any event the range of information of which Dewey was aware or unaware used by his psyche was both enormous and extremely subtle.  It is truly amazing that Freud with his pinch chested mentality never went beyond the level obtained in his dreambook which was indeed minimal.

     The epiphany vanished from Dewey’s conscious mind.  He had no idea what it meant he only knew he desired it.

     Still basking in his glow he moved back out of the middle of the road as he saw headlights approaching.  The laboring of the vehicle and the clanking of its bicycle chain identified it as a Volkswagen.  Caught between the despair and hope that not getting a ride leaves you with, Dewey just kind of flipped his thumb out in a hopeless gesture.  The little yellow Bug slowed to a stop.  Dewey didn’t have to take more than a half dozen steps to sardine himself into the little Beetle.

     Stan Leland was behind the wheel.  Stan was a desperate character.  He was prepared to kill the hitchhiker for the twenty dollars or less that he assumed Dewey had.  He was convinced the hitchhiker had twenty dollars on him.  That was why he stopped.

page 1425.

     Leland was twenty-five years old.  He had once been a strapping young man but his straps had been snapped for him.  Stan had attended Hollywood High.  He hadn’t come from the rich families but he had been allowed to hang around with them.  Not having the grace of legitimacy he had made up for it with the bravado of the interloper.  Having to be deferential to his group he made up for it by tormenting others.  He didn’t really torment them but he didn’t make any friends either.

      Graduation left Stan stranded.  His group melted away into the universities while he had to find a job.  Stripped of his social status he took up the pose of an aspiring actor.  He was only middling good looking although a lithe six foot two.  His brash self-confidence turned his middling looks into a species of handsomeness.  He thought he was good looking and therefore he was.

     Stanford tried to make up for his loss of social status with an aggressive brashness that tended to alienate rather than endear.  People tended to endure him rather than challenge him.  And then Stan turned twenty-0ne.

     He had secured a couple walk-ons in the movies, you know, carrying a rifle in buckskins along the wagon train and in one he spoke a line but it was cut out.  These successes convinced him of his future, increasing his aggressive demand for status.

page 1426.

     At twenty-one he went up to the Strip to celebrate.  Three or four drinks later his attention was caught by a cute little blond thing serving as a pendant to Fat Tony Carmino’s ego.  Stan compared himself very favorably to Fat Tony in an attempt to lure this worthless slut, but good lay, his way.

     Fat Tony, and he was not without friends, took exception to brash young Stan’s advances to his frail.  Stan didn’t fully appreciate the difference between the people he usually balked and the men of the Mob.  Fat Tony and a couple of guys who didn’t appreciate Stan’s mouth took him outside, drove him to a quiet place and practiced drop kicking him against a wall to see how far he’d rebound.  Stan wasn’t resilient enough to be much fun so they left him in a heap driving back to the strip and Fat Tony’s frail.

     Stan Leland’s body healed but his mind never recovered.  He had had the bravado kicked out of him.  He had lost his brash self-confidence having nothing left but his middling good looks and a slight stoop.  Where he had previously stood tall, almost with a back lean, he now walked, slightly bent and without any real elasticity to his step.  He was cowed.  His movie career was over.  He made money by cons and grifts that occured to him on the spot.

     ‘How far are you going?’  He asked.

     ‘Oakland.’

     ‘I can take you part way.  I’m going to Turlock.’

     ‘Great.  Thanks.’

     The VW clanked into action.  Dewey had never been in one.  While not new to the scene, in 1958 they hadn’t been around all that long.  The air cooled rear engine with its bicycle chain drive sounded strange coming from behind him.  The VWs had low horse power.  They went from 0 to 60 in 60, minutes that is.  Any rise in the ground slowed them to a crawl.  A Chevy would be in the next county before a VW crested the hill.

page 1427.

     ‘Really noisy.’  Dewey said.

     ‘My little Bug?  People’s car.  That’s what Volkswagen means.  People’s car.  Did you know that?’  Stan would never have driven a VW before Fat Tony and the Mob cut him down to size.

     ‘Volkswagen?  Folk’s wagon.  People’s car?  No, I never translated it; never thought about it.’

     ‘Ya.  It was designed by Hitler.  Did you know that?’

     ‘No.  I didn’t know Hitler doubled as a car designer.’

     ‘Designed might be incorrect but it was made by his orders.  People may talk bad about Hitler but he gave the Germans work.  Built the Autobahns for them to drive their Beetles on.’

      ‘Oh, wow.  Quite a guy.’

     ‘Yeah.  I’ve read everything there is on him.  History’s giving him a bum rap.’

     ‘Oh well, if you’re going to start wars you better be prepared to be criticized.’

     Stan thought back to Fat Tony and winced a little.  He’d always considered his treatment unfair, even criminal.  It was, of course, but society had given the Mafia a license to act that way while Anglos were supposed to be above all that and walk around Italians.  Stan’s interest in Hitler had begun on his hospital bed as his mind groped to deal with his pain.

     ‘Hitler gave Henry Ford a medal, did you know that?’

     ‘No.  A medal for what?’

     ‘A lot of people think he gave it because Henry Ford was an anti-Semite but that didn’t have anything to do with it.  It was because of this, the Bug.’

     ‘Uh, Ford financed the Bug?’

     ‘No.  But he made the first People’s Car, the Model T.  That’s really why Hitler admired old Heinrich Ford, because of his production methods and the Tin Lizzie.  That’s why he kept a life sized portrait of Ford not because of some silly Jews.  Those people always exaggerate their importance.  If nobody’s thinking of them they stand up and shout:  ‘Pay attention to us.’

     Ford was criticized for accepting the medal but I think he did the right thing.  Ford might have been run out of Germany if he’d declined the honor.  They made Model Ts for fifteen years and they’re still making the identical Bug over twenty years later.  That’s an achievement worth a medal.  His own country didn’t appreciate him enough to give him one.  What do you think of that?’

     ‘Never thought of it.’

     ‘How much money do you have on you?’

     Dewey turned his head sharply to watch Leland:  ‘None.’

     ‘Nothing?  No money?  Come on, how are you going to eat?’

     ‘I’m not until I get to Oakland.’

     Whether Stan believed it or not Dewey was telling the literal truth about eating.  He never ate or drank on the road.

page 1429.

     ‘Oh come on.  You’ve got to have a twenty on you.  You guys always do.  Nobody rides for free.  You can chip in a little for gas.’

     ‘What?  So far you haven’t even used up a gallon of gas.  These things must get about thirty miles or more to the gallon.  What do want a dime?’  Gas was twenty or twenty-five cents a gallon in those days.

     ‘Where do you keep it, in your shoes?’

     ‘No money.  I don’t have any.’

     Leland decided on a ploy.

     ‘I’m getting hungry.  Why don’t we stop for breakfast in Grapevine here.  Here’s the Grapevine Cafe.  Good food.  I’ve been here before.’

     ‘I’m in a hurry, man.  Go ahead.  I’ll just get back on the road.’

     ‘Hey, you ingrate.  I pick you up in the middle of the night on a deserted road and you’re in too big a hurry to eat with me?’

     ‘It’s not that, man.  But look it’s daylight already.  I’m way behind time;  I should be in Oakland by now.’

     ‘We are having breakfast.’

     Stan had touched Dewey’s guilt.  Dewey was a nice guy, he tried to appreciate what others did for him.  Also he reasoned that he might still be standing outside the Grapevine Cafe when Stan left.  He went along.

     ‘What’re you going to have?’  Stan asked amicably but craftily.

page 1430