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Category Archives: Saginaw

God’s Own Singer Of Songs Goes Home

A Short Story

by

R.E. Prindle

 

When Earth’s last picture is painted

And the tubes are twisted and dried,

When the oldest colours have faded,

And the youngest critic has died,

We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it

-Lie down for an aeon or two,

Till the Master of all Good Workmen

Shall put us to work anew.

And those that were good shall be happy;

They shall sit in a golden chair;

They shall splash at a ten league canvas

With brushes of comet’s hair.

They shall find real saints to draw from

-Magdalene, Peter and Paul;

They shall work for an age at a sitting

And never be tired at all!

And only the Master shall praise us,

And only the Master shall blame;

And no one shall work for money,

And no one shall work for fame.

But each for the joy of the working

And each in his separate star

Shall draw the Thing as he sees it

For the God of Things as they are.

  1. Kipling

 

I was on my hands and knees with the paper opened out before me on the floor when I came across a startling news item. Darius Trued had committed suicide. It was July 24, 1949. I remember the date clearly. The news blip said he had blown his head off with his step-father’s shotgun. I was speechless. How could somebody I knew commit suicide? By coincidence we had met in the public library just two weeks before where he told me his story since leaving the Orphanage.

If you remember, Darius was the little boy who had nearly hemorrhaged to death after his tonsil operation. I didn’t mention it then but as a result of ‘having saved his life’ Darius felt an obligation to me and we had to become friends.

He was something over two years younger than me, he was only nine when he tubed it, and so for the first part of my sojourn in the Orphanage he’d been down in the infant’s quarters. This was a very terrible pace; I have no idea what effect it had on his plastic young mind. God only knows what horrors were impressed on him down there. The horrors of the Orphanage were not the sort that you would find that obvious. The place wasn’t exactly like the death camps of Auschwitz or Dachau, there wasn’t killing and beating going on. It was more subtle than that but the effect was the same, if you came out, you came out with a different view of humanity. If you had been given a tour you would probably have said: This is really OK…for them. But not for you.

But we were young and impressionable, we needed positive reinforcement. We needed something to bolster our self-respect. As bad as it was up above in the older boy’s dorm it was a lot worse in the infant’s quarters. I would never go in there so I don’t know how many kids there were, I imagine thirty from the sound of their continual yowling and screaming. There were only two or three women to deal with those thirty infants. They were all demanding attention every minute of the time. It’s not that the women were not of the kindest disposition, it’s not that they didn’t try, but you can only spread one woman so thin. It was impossible to give each child the attention they needed so they just lay around and screamed. Once one got started they all began in sympathy. The cacophony was horrendous and very emotionally disturbing.

After a year of that they sent Darius upstairs with us Big Boys. I must have been nine at the time so Darius was maybe seven, probably sixish. Downstairs they had told Darius that I had saved his life so when he came upstairs the first person he wanted to meet was me.

When a new boy came in it was quite a thing so we were all gathered around to evaluate this new kid. The difference of two years between seven and nine is immense. The housemother came leading this little kid up to me by the hand. He had this big happy grin on his face like I don’t know what he expected. Maybe he was just happy to get out of the infant’s quarters. Maybe he thought I was going to be his big brother, I don’t know, I didn’t even care.

I do know that I didn’t need any little kid hanging on me all the time. I was alone and had withdrawn pretty far into myself. I didn’t want to come out for anybody. I was no longer looking for the ‘human’ touch; I’d had enough of that. I was trying to avoid it.

The woman led this little guy right up to me and introduces me as the guy who saved his life. Give me a break! All I did was open the door to the infirmary, look at all the blood spattered on the walls and went and got help. That wasn’t as easy as it sounds either; it was hard to get their attention. And then they made fun of me like I was always inventing things. I had to endure that humiliation for the little bastard. So now I was saddled with him.

You know…you know…all I knew up to this point were heart-rending stories of tragic situations. Darius’ story wasn’t any exception. I was too young to understand then but I knew something funny was going on. It all came together in later years. You see, the reason that Darius was in the Orphanage was because his mother was a prostitute. She put him in the Orphanage so he would be out of the way.

She hadn’t come around all the time Darius was in the infant’s quarters but she began popping in every couple weeks or so after he came upstairs. She always gave Darius a couple bucks so that between that which Darius was only too willing to share with the guy who ‘saved his life’ and this pop bottle money and whatever else I was able to scrounge we were the financial elite of the Orphanage.

You can feel the guilt building up, can’t you. I took from him and I didn’t quibble.

Now, Darius had a couple problems. He had some sort of skin ailment where his whole left arm from just above the elbow to his finger tips was crusted and thick kind of like sandpaper. I don’t know what it was and it wasn’t his fault. Everyone accused him of being unclean and not washing but that wasn’t true. They all ridiculed him and it was very hard on the kid. What can I say, everyone made fun of me too, everyone made fun of everyone else. I made fun of everyone in self-defense.

I was no slouch at giving insults either. It wasn’t just the Orphanage either; everyone in society is busy tearing the other guy down. I’m afraid I wasn’t very sympathetic which hurt Darius a lot but I had saved his life so he thought we were pals for life.

There wasn’t anyone in the Orphanage that could be called a happy soul. You already know my story there. I was one of the gang. We were all pretty dark but I wasn’t mean and nasty and neither was Darius. Darius expressed his distraction by composing little songs. He had a very sweet voice and could hit and sustain notes, stay in key, carry a tune and all those musical things. I’ve never been able to do those things, as much as I’ve wanted to. That was the only time I’ve ever known envy in my life.

I’m not going to try to reproduce any of his songs although I do remember lines of two or three but they wouldn’t make any sense now and without his plaintive sorrowful voice and despairing gestures the effect wouldn’t be the same. They were all sad songs anyway. The kid could improvise for hours. I don’t know how anybody with such a small vocabulary could express so much in so many different ways.

So, alright, so the kid is God’s own singer of songs and I wasn’t. So, what do I care. On top of my own problems his songs might as well have been hosing me down with acid. How much pain can anyone bear? Fortunately this only lasts for a year before I leave and coincidentally so does he. I went to the Wardens but his mother remarries some monster of a prick, as Darius told me, and takes him out of the Orphanage.

Before she does however she took Darius to this place where she lived and Darius insists that I go along. Why me? What did I ever do to anybody? Saving lives is perilous work, I would have thought twice if I’d known what was going to happen. The place his mother stays is not exactly a whore house. The place was merely the house out of which the women worked. I know what was going on there although I was too young to understand the implications then. It is only much later that I am able to reconstruct it and make sense of it. How much Darius understood of it I can’t say although he never discussed the visit or his mother with me again.

I only learned the nature of the place by accident. As it happened one of these women took a shine to me. She was a real beauty too. She must have been a real sensualist who wanted to induct a young boy like me into the mysteries. She had this beautiful room just filled with this enormous bed. Her colors were blue and white, everything in a becoming disarray; there were mountains of comforters, sheets and pillows. I was thoroughly enthralled. She could have done anything to me she wanted and I wouldn’t have been afraid.

She was leading me into this paradise when Darius’ mom spotted us. She hurried over and broke it up; acted real sanctimonious about it too. Too bad for me; I’m sure I would have been given a new slant on life that I would surely have appreciated. It might even have made a different man of me, so to speak.

Well, the madam, or house-mother, took the woman and Darius’ mom aside in my hearing admonished them. She told them that under no circumstances were men to be allowed in the house. For her thing to work, she said, there had to be an absolute appearance of propriety. The girls would have to have their ‘dates’ pick them up at the door and then do their business elsewhere.

The two women objected that Darius and I were only little boys but the Madam interjected that boys grew into men and no boys or men were allowed. Darius and I were not to be brought back. Darius’ mom wasn’t ready to leave so were sent out in the back yard to play.

You can be sure that the neighbors had a pretty good idea of what was going on so Darius and I were given the cold shoulder, anybody who was outside their house went in. I had had enough of rejection so I was only irritated the more. I took it out on Darius. I could say I wasn’t aware of what I was doing but if I did you would have little reason to believe me as I would you. Of course, we all know what we are doing but it’s not exactly like we willed it. It’s more like we just hoped that it would happen.

We were playing catch. I could hear this ferocious sounding German Shepherd in the yard behind Darius. I managed to throw the ball over the hedge into the nextdoor yard. Naturally it was Darius’ responsibility to retrieve it. He came back with wide open eyes to tell me that a giant ferocious German Shepherd was standing over the ball. Well, this Alsatian was not a meek dog. But just as everybody in the Orphanage was suffering from more hurt than they needed or deserved, the addition to Darius’ store of pain was perilously close to the top. I mean how much more could any of us stand, not that we stopped inflicting it on each other.

Then I really did it to Darius. I betrayed his trust in an unforgiveable way. You know, really, the unkindest cuts of all are those that don’t look like much to anybody else. You’ve got to remember that we all lived in the House of the Distraught, fourth floor.

I had a high school teacher who used to put these maxims on the blackboard. One of them was: When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. That guy was a homosexual so you know he knew what he was talking about. Well, I was kind of Darius’ knot; I was all there was between his holding on and his losing his grip. So when I failed him he fell.

No big deal really. I mean I lost the end of my rope too. The irony is that there is no place to fall. You just end up standing on your feet but living in a different reality that is inhabited by the same people but who look like other people. Who needs ‘em anyway? But then my reaction may not have the same as Darius’.

Darius and I went out and bought a goldfish and a bowl, his money. Cost a quarter each. We kept them on top of the bookcases down in the library where no one ever went but me, and now Darius. That way nobody would kill the goldfish.

Just as Darius wanted to be my friend more than I wanted to be his I wanted to be friends with the Darwan’s son Skippy more than he wanted to be friends with me. As he was the son of the Orphanage administrator everyone else avoided him and his brother Cappy. The Darwens had no use for me so I was actually toadying up. I could only expect from them what happened.

When you’re at the bottom you, or at least me, will do anything to acquire some respectability. Once again I knew what I was doing but as, on the same level that love is blind, I didn’t care.

I tried to hang around with the younger Darwen, Skippy, who was my age or maybe a year older. He took advantage of me but thought it was his due for tolerating me. He was a sadistic little bastard. He used to catch frogs then lay in his bed with one of those spring guns that shot suction cups and try to blow the frogs up. This was a really low point in my life. I used to retrieve the suction darts for him so he could try again. That was a long time ago and I only did it once, maybe twice. I stopped trying to hang around with him after that.

What caused this incident with Darius was that there was this movie about this wonder horse who, as this movie made you believe, single hoofedly defeated the Japs on some tropical South Pacific island. I either wanted to go or was made to believe I wanted to go. Skippy and Cappy were biking it down and I was allowed to go with them. Most expensive trip I’ve ever taken.

That I was allowed to go along with them indicates that some sadistic dirty trick was involved. That I went with them knowing that dirty tricks against we orphans was their stock in trade show my level of desperation. I knew better. All I can say in my defense is that I was trusting to my luck. My luck wasn’t trustworthy.

They had bikes and I didn’t. I was at an immediate disadvantage. To begin with Skippy suggested I hold onto the back of his seat and trot along beside him. Even I recognized the humiliation of that. Being of a resourceful turn of mind I suggested I ride on his back fender. Skippy vetoed that but suggested I ride on the crossbar. I thought that it would be possible that others could confuse me for his little brother; I declined so I could avoid humiliation. Riding the crossbar is a painful thing, especially when Skippy was taking every bump as hard as he could.

I soon objected to that.

Then Skippy suggested I could sit on the handlebars and rest my feet on the lugnuts of the front wheel. This was much more easy in the planning than the execution. The nuts were only about a quarter inch wide so no firm purchase was possible. As my feet continually slipped off as I tried to balance on the bars it was inevitable that my heel got caught in the spokes. I tore the heel off my shoe, breaking four spokes of Skippy’s wheel.

We were downtown, two blocks from the Temple theater when it happened. Skippy wobbled the bars, my feet came loose and I broke three or four spokes and well as taking the heel off my shoe. Skippy was mock irate and said I would have to pay for the damage. He calculated the damage to his bike and said I owed him five dollars. Five dollars was a lot of bottles at two cents each. While a dollar bought a lot in kid terms, five dollars was equivalent to the national debt. I had to tell him that I didn’t have five dollars and didn’t know where I could get it. He said I could owe it to him.

But, when we got to the Temple he took my seventy-five cents admission saying that I now owed him only four twenty-five. I had to walk back to the Orphanage alone crying in my heart over the impossible figure of four twenty-five.

Well, Skippy hounded me for the money every day. Darius was mad at me over the German Shepherd so he wouldn’t loan me any money at all. It’s slow work accumulating bottle money when you need a lot. Skippy suggested that I could offset the debt with some of my meager possessions. Needless to say he took them at less than ten cents on the dollar. So I was down to some few cents left to pay. Under Skippy’s constant hectoring I was desperate to pay him off. I had already given him my gold fish and bowl when in desperation I thought of Darius’ gold fish and bowl to discharge my so-called debt.

And then I didn’t have the guts to just come right out and tell Darius what I had done. I let him discover it. I didn’t think a twenty-five cent gold fish was too high a price for saving a guy’s life but in the orphanage where they’ve even taken away your pride whatever you do have assumes an exaggerated importance. Or maybe it was the principle of the thing.

Darius was hurt beyond all belief. He was really hysterical. To be honest I felt so ashamed. I knew I had done something really wrong. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Here we both were, despised by the outside world, outsiders within our own world falling out with each other. It was all my fault too. I couldn’t lay off even a particle of blame on someone else. It is true that Skippy was a sadistic scumbag but I knew that before I debased myself by forcing myself on him to go to the Temple. Every way I turned for a way out I found a closed door. The only refuge I had was that I’d saved his life, as Darius kept telling me, and I figured his life must have been worth a quarter.

That was what I figured. Darius thought I had betrayed his sacred trust. So, well, we all make mistakes. I was just miserable.

That all transpired in the fall of 1947 when my whole world was spinning so crazily I couldn’t even tell it was spinning. Like I said; when you let go of the rope you enter a new reality. Darius wouldn’t speak to me anymore while I put a big X on Skippy. Old Man Darwen got fired for embezzlement that spring, while in June 1948 Darius and I both left the Orphanage.

I went to the Warden’s of course while Darius’ mom remarried and he was taken to live with them.

I had no sooner walked away from the Orphanage when all that became a closed book that happened in another lifetime. The gold fish thing is one of those things that bothered me on a daily basis then as now but I forgot Darius.

 

-II-

 

I was living another life when I ran into Darius at the public library. The Wardens and I were down there for some reason, I don’t know, maybe they wanted to check out a book, when Darius touched my shirt in the most timid manner from behind.

I turned and around and actually didn’t recognize him. In only a year this kid had been beaten to a psychological pulp. He was totally distracted. He no longer had any personal identity left. He wasn’t even breathing the same air everyone else was. It wasn’t pleasant for me to be reminded of my own past so I was about to brush him off but with eyes that could no longer see outside his mental trauma he implored me in this strange birdlike voice to come with him as he had something to tell me.

My god, I saw into his anguished mind and could not refuse him.

Only a year, only a year had elapsed since we had left the Orphanage but our lives were so crowded with debilitating incident that it might as well have been three or four lifetimes. Things were moving so fast that I had no time for reflection to make some sense of it. Everything was just scenery passing by a train window. For Darius that year had been all the time he needed to complete his education in this world.

Darius, who then only nine, took me by the hand and led me into the children’s story telling room and holding both my hands he began telling me the story of his life since leaving the Orphanage. He didn’t really tell it to me but he sang me his adventures in that high birdlike twitter he was using in a series of sort of poetic lay. Darius had a real gift for putting his thoughts in poetic form. It was as though he had three of the Muses on his shoulders singing the words to him while he merely repeated them in a trancelike fashion.

I don’t know what a distracted picture I might have presented to him but Darius was no longer looking at the world through his windshield. He was completely withdrawn within himself. His eyes were turned inward. I’m sure he saw me and his surroundings but only in the most passive manner, sort of like seeing the reflection of the world inside of the train window at sixty miles per.

As before he spoke or sang in this high twitter through pursed lips as though he were whistling. He held me firmly but gently telling me he had to tell me this as I was his only friend. Only I would understand. I guess he’d forgotten the gold fish. I didn’t want to listen because Darius was an unwelcome intrusion from a past I did not want back in my life. I’m probably the only guy who could understand what he was talking about and be able to even partially sympathize. As he was holding onto me firmly and gently even imploringly I had no choice.

Darius’ mother remarried with full intentions of giving up her former profession but the guy she married didn’t have much character. He didn’t exactly mistreat Darius but there was a cold indifference in his attitude that dashed any hopes Darius had of having a decent family life.

Part of this Darius told me and part of this I conjecture. His step-father ran up some gambling debts that he didn’t have the money to pay. He turned to his wife for help suggesting that she ply her old trade. Following the precepts of her former Madam Darius’ mom had come through her experience without too much damage to her reputation. People knew but because of the Madam’s precautions not as many as you might think. Mainly her patrons. She had learned the lesson and was reluctant to practice in the Valley. So in that very summer he was released Darius’ family took a working vacation in Toronto, Canada.

Darius was unaware of the true situation as it unfolded. The truth only dawned on him later. Too bad for him, I would have suppressed it. The three of them checked into a motel. Darius’ mother walked over to the side of the road to begin soliciting right there and then. Darius saw this and was somewhat mystified as to what his mother was doing. Well, the motel manager was not mystified, he knew exactly what she was doing. He wasn’t going to have any of that done out of his motel either.

He accosted Darius’ mother and her husband in the courtyard. As Darius was standing by he informed his mother that he couldn’t have prostitutes working out of his motel. Darius had no idea that his mother had been or was a prostitute, so he became very angry with the manager, taking it as a personal insult, laying into him with both his little fists screaming that the man couldn’t call his mother a prostitute.

The manager was a pretty decent guy and when he realized that Darius was innocent of his mother’s and step-father’s doings he relented rather than humiliate the little boy. He said they could stay but to practice her trade somewhere else than in front of his motel.

My heart nearly broke at this story but it was only a preamble to a worse. The sequel made clear to Darius his mother’s true past. The poor little guy just couldn’t handle it. Of course, who knows how his mind was affected down in the hell hole of an infant’s dormitory. Dormitory? Heck, there was so much noise going on all the time down there who could sleep? The poor guy had probably been awake a whole year before he came upstairs, that certainly would have weakened his resistance.

There was a big change in the way Darius told the second story too. He had sung the first story in the first person. Strangely he never looked directly at me but off to the right with his head down.

In the second half he switched to the third person like he was telling about someone else. I guess it was too much for him to bear. I read a story by Jean Genet once in which five or six guys gang raped him. He tells the story as though he stood by watching some other get sodomized. You see, when it all bets bad enough in order to protect your sanity you just step outside yourself and let them do whatever they will to your body but you don’t let them touch your mind but you still have to live with the results. Darius did that although he wasn’t capable of actually maintaining the lie. Given enough time he would have suppressed the memory into his subconscious where it would have made him schizophrenic or maybe worse sometime later on.

Or, maybe he might have been able to turn it into something else like maybe his father dying. Or, who knows, maybe he’d have been able to manage his way out. Life is funny, you can’t never tell. Of course, also, maybe he might have become a serial killer, teach everyone a lesson.

Here the story gets really incredible. It took me years and years to figure this out but I finally did. I probably will not be believed but as Mark Twain said, of course truth is stranger than fiction, the truth doesn’t have to be plausible. How true that is. The finest stories in the world can’t be told because they require too great a suspension of belief.

Now, Darius didn’t know who David Hirsh was but he got the name right. I knew who David Hirsh was but a mental block prevented my dealing with him on a conscious level. So I didn’t know to whom Darius referred at the time but he gave me a very accurate physical description which I did remember and was able to connect up decades later.

Hirsh apparently had visited the house out of which Darius’ mother worked. Whether or not he had anything against Darius’ mother or his step-father, Hirsh’s perversity apparently followed diverse and devious channels so it’s difficult to figure. He must have had some strange variant of homosexuality that, while he didn’t violate little boys directly, he literally screwed their minds. You know my history with Hirsh. Hirsh now came after little nine year old Darius. Aww, didn’t Hirsh have anything else to do? Didn’t he have enough money to entertain himself in other ways?

As I said, Hirsh was seen around the Orphanage so perhaps he saw Darius there, or maybe Darius’ mom had mentioned him to Hirsh on a ‘date.’ Perhaps he took a perverse delight in adding to the torments of a disadvantaged child. Perhaps he was saying that as a little Jewish kid he had felt tormented by others. Maybe he felt he had been in the exact same situation and no one had taken pity on him. Perhaps he thought he was just passing it on. Madness lasts a lifetime and takes many forms.

The setup he organized was incredibly elaborate but he was able to control all the variables to make it work. I’m sure he saw himself as a man of consummate genius, some sort of Einstein of perversity.

First, unknown to Darius, of course, he went to Darius’ mom to proposition her. She declined at first because she was sincerely trying to go straight. But, as Hirsh pointed out to here it wasn’t like he was asking her to do what she had never done before. One more time wouldn’t hurt. The pay was good and he wanted her to be sure to bring her son along.  I’m afraid I can’t tell about golden hearted prostitutes, Darius’ mom had no scruples to overcome, she was only too glad to do it. She just asked the details then went along.

There was an old decrepit amusement park just North of Bay City called Winona Beach. The place was within a few months of shutting down. On weekdays there was virtually no one there, they didn’t even operate the rides.

This was a Wednesday, Darius’ mom showed up at Winona Beach with Darius in tow. The day itself was sultry and overcast threatening a rain shower which it didn’t deliver. There was literally no one in sight when Darius and his mom arrived save for a few employees. The merry-go-round was still and there was no mirth in the Fun House.

Following Hirsh’s instructions Darius was left on the boardwalk. It was a real boardwalk elevated about twelve to fifteen feet above the beach forming the midway. Darius’ mom entered a door to the side of the Fun House, mounting a flight of stairs leading to a room over the Fun House where Hirsh awaited her. Darius was told to wait outside.

Doing this in an amusement park over the Fun House was a capital joke for Hirsh’s mad criminal mind as he was having fun in so many ways at someone else’s expense. He was really a shameless guy.

He brought along his son Michael and that gang to torment Darius. Even though I was outnumbered by them in my encounters I was at least he same age but at nine they were much bigger and more savvy than he. Hirsh had no business turning big kids like that loose on a nine year old kid. Hirsh had already demonstrated his shamelessness and would again but he was so base in this that my mind just boggles. It’s like he wasn’t human and if he was he had found ways to distort ‘human’ out of all recognition.

Darius said, or rather sang, that they didn’t lay a hand on him but butted and jostled him with their shoulders hoping he would fall off the boardwalk. Of course, Hirsh was watching from his window over the Fun House with Darius’ mom making her laugh at Darius’ plight. How perverse do you have to be to take pleasure in making a boy’s mother laugh at his tortures? Shameless whore that she was she respected Hirsh’s power more than her son’s welfare and laughed heartily.

Then one of the Hirshes suggested that people often dropped money through the boardwalk to the sand below. Sid Cohen showed Darius seventy-five cents he said he found down there. As much to get away from them as anything else Darius went down below the boardwalk. Then as a big joke all the Hirshes stood over him and peed on him through the gaps in the slats. As they did they looked up at Hirsh’s window where they were rewarded with peals of laughter from Hirsh and Darius’ mom.

Darius had no idea why he was being treated so badly by complete strangers. There was no way he could get away from them. When he went back up they hustled him into the dance hall. The hall was adjacent to the Fun House. The owners had built a viewing place behind some slats like a venetian blind high up so they could monitor activity on the dance floor from above the Fun House. You know, either keep fights to a minimum or watch their stooges start them. Darius was by now thoroughly unhappy. As he was trying to escape the taunts and jostling of the Hirshes the bartender, or whatever he was, big burly guy, charged at him shouting get out of here you little bastard, we don’t want your kind around here.

Darius almost broke down when he had to tell how frightened he was as he fled the place while the little Hirshes rolled on the floor laughing at him. Darius actually told me that he heard his mom’s voice laughing but as he told it he seemed to edit it out so that he seemed to forget, or suppress it, as he told it. It was bad enough that I had betrayed his trust over the gold fish; his mother’s betrayal was so much worse. I guess he had to go through some pretty deep denial to keep his mental balance, such as he had. Even then he hadn’t seen the worst yet.

So, this fat old bartender comes out and shouts at him that he couldn’t be much of a boy or he wouldn’t have scattered like that. Did Darius think, he said, that he would actually hurt him? Well, Darius did think that and I don’t blame him. The Hirshes didn’t follow Darius outside so he sat on this bench around a big oak tree next to the merry-go-round looking down the boardwalk wondering when this nightmare was going to end and feeling like he really was a failure because he ran from the big fat bartender.

Now, the boardwalk curved along the beach in a manner that Darius was looking directly at the window behind which Hirsh, delirious with delight at Darius’ distress, was screwing his mother for a few dollars. Whether it was a happy inspiration or Hirsh’s devious projection of reality actually happening, as Darius watched the blinds were pulled up where Darius could see his mother facing him on her hands and knees while Hirsh worked her behind doggy style. Maybe she was embarrassed finally and didn’t know what to do but she laughed out loud at Darius, stuck out her tongue and wagged it at him.

I don’t know for sure that Darius was even aware of what he was telling. I mean, I don’t know how much he consciously remembered and much was just welling up from his subconscious where it would return unremembered by Darius’ conscious mind. I mean, the kid was hurting so bad that I didn’t want to be near him let alone share in his terrible anguish.

Shortly after his mother came down the stairs motioned to him to get in the car telling him they were finished and were going home. They were finished! Who were they? Darius and his mom or the Hirshes and Darius’ mom. Finished at what? Demolishing the poor little kids sanity?   He then said that he told his mom that he didn’t want to know her anymore.

I had listened in shocked silence but that sent me through the floor. I was immobilized by the end of his story. Darius then actually kissed my hands and said I was the only friend he’d ever had. Just about that time Jack Warden shows up and orders me out to the car. ‘What are you queer?’ he says in the most derogatory way. ‘No, I’m not queer.’ I say, not even knowing what queer was at that time. I didn’t know what it was but I knew if it was bad I couldn’t be it.

So, I left Darius standing there.

If I was Darius’ best friend he was in sadder shape than either of us knew because I couldn’t use his distress. I had enough of my own. If I had added his to mine it would have broken me. I just couldn’t do it, he would have to fend for himself. Life was just as hard for me too. I dismissed him from my mind, didn’t think about him at all until two weeks later I read that he’d solaced his mental problem with a load of buckshot.

A shotgun. Wow! The kid sure as hell had a lot more nerve than I did. But, you know, I’ve thought about it and I don’t really think he was trying to commit suicide. This may sound funny but I think he was just trying to put his eyes out. Somehow he didn’t think the buckshot would go any further than that; it would stop short of taking his head off.

That’s what I think. His eyes had seen too much. His intellect and will had been totally emasculated. It was something like George Bernard Shaw who thought his peculiar vision of the world was the result of being able to see more accurately than other men, or Jackson Brown who makes the same complaint in his song Doctor, My Eyes. Darius’ reaction was much the same as that of Oedipus who put out his eyes with the clasps of if his mother who was also his wife’s brooches when he could no longer deal with the reality that he had married his mother. A little further in and he too would have committed suicide. The minds of both he and Darius were incapable of resolving their mental dilemmas. So I suppose you could say Hirsh murdered Darius. It was a good law and order crime. At the time I knew nothing of Hirsh’s involvement. I couldn’t recognize Hirsh. I had my own eyes and mental emasculation to worry about.

In way I was almost relieved that Darius had done it because I had no room for his troubles and my own. Saving his life hung over me. How did I even know he wanted his life saved. I mean, he had every reason to believe that he had been deserted by his mother, he was down there in that infant’s hell hole, alone and deserted. How fearful he must have been of his tonsil operation. When he passed me in the hall he did say that he had to go and die now. So, maybe he had a death wish. Maybe he’d already had enough then. Maybe subconsciously he was taking advantage of an opportunity so his subconscious mind made him hemorrhage. Maybe I ruined his chance to change this world for the next and so he made me responsible for the rest of his life. It sure seemed like he thought I owed him something. I didn’t care. I didn’t want any part of it. I was just being a good scout, that’s all.

I stood on my knees with my hands on my hips for some few minutes before I closed the door on that one and moved on to the next. There were lots of news items I hadn’t read yet and besides I hadn’t even gotten to the funnies

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Far Gresham And His Angeline

A Short Story

 

Pages wrung from the Memoirs of Far Gresham

7/4/76’

Edited by R.E. Prindle

 

As I have told you I have never had the blues. But, as the weather system of the planet is characterized by a system of highs and lows, tropical low pressure systems being the most intense of lows, so, while I have never had the blues I have flirted with the blues while evading the depths of the blues comparable to those feared tropical lows. So, it was on the evening in question. A Pacific low pressure front was passing through, bringing with it the steady splash and drips of its persistent precipitation. The drops hit the skylight and roof with two distinct tones, answered by drops pelting the windows and the gurgle of the drainpipe.

I stood in the dark looking out the windows at my own reflection suspended like a phantom on the glass. The vision of myself stirred up memories from my past that haunted my mind just below the limes separated from conscious memory by an invisible but impenetrable barrier. There lay those troubling skeletons of the past that I had spent my life trying to exhume. The suppressed memories, those most painful episodes in a troubled life that dominated my consciousness from the beyond and directed my energies into unfruitful channels.

Loosing the spectres of the past was my preoccupation. I had long studied Freud and De Sade, self-analysis of my psyche had often nearly driven me mad, but how could, how can I desist. Our minds are on the same beam of the same wave length so I can tell you this without overt shame or embarrassment.

Reading, my usual refuge and solace, had failed me on this particular evening. I had replaced on their shelves, Athenian Propertied Families, 600-300 B.C., Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, as well as Robertson Smith’s Religion of the Semites.

I opted for a bottle of scotch and some old phonograph records instead. Now, I’m not what you would call a drinker, and you know I’m not, but this night as I saw the Blues sitting on my couch batting her eyelids at me, I thought I’d fortify myself against the rain with some protection and possibly open a door on one of those troublesome memories. Aiming for lighter hearted frivolity I got out some old Louis Prima records and tried to lift my spirits. Oh, of course I was amused by Josephina Please No Leana On Da Bell and Louis Prima’s other amusing fripperies, but as I sipped at my scotch I found a need for more ineffable sadness. Thus, just as Prima was swinging into Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I Don’t Want To Leave The Congo, I levered the tone arm up and began digging through my collection for someone giving voice to the Hurt. I passed up Hank Snow and his Nobody’s Child and Webb Pierce singing Pass that bottle over here because they don’t reach the area I was reaching for, although both are great singers of sad songs.

Reaching down into the section labeled ‘Moaners’ I pulled up Jesse Winchester’s first LP and Mickey Newbury’s It Looks Like Rain. Mick and Jesse knew enough about rain to satisfy my desires. My bottle was half empty as my brain fogged over and the notion of lying down occurred to me. The rain was still descending as I weaved toward the bedroom with the lyrics of Winchester’s Yankee Lady and Newbury’s plea for his sweet Angeline dancing around in my brain. I had hopes, even in my sodden state, that my memories would be jostled around and one might come up. One did, but I wish now that it never had.

I stood for a moment clutching the door jamb while trying to relocate my balance. I had wanted to connect links with suffering humanity and I had. I was feeling lower than a catfish on the bottom of the mouth of the Mississippi way down South in New Orleans. I oriented myself in the direction of my bed and gave a shove. With a deftness unplanned and of which I would not have thought myself capable I caught the covers up and in my fall slid between the pale blue lower sheet and the light pink upper sheet. I didn’t have wait for Morpheus, where did I read that? let’s just say Sleep for Sleep took my head and slammed it into the downy white pillow case. I disappeared into the abyss of oblivion.

Sometimes, most of the time, sleep is never so deep that you’re unaware of your blood circulating or your hair growing or any one of a number of physiological matters, but this night, probably because of the alcohol or possibly also because of psychic exhaustion I slipped below the level of the abyss of oblivion where the sun has never penetrated. It there had not been a bottom I would probably be falling yet.

My exhaustion was psychical rather than physical. After a couple of hours of amnesia, my body sated with rest, the alcohol in my blood stream diminished, but not yet dissipated, set off discharges in my mind that lifted me from the pleasure of oblivion to the threshold of pain. I lay there flickering in and out of consciousness until I reached a state of half waking half dozing.

I didn’t dream, but my liberated sub-conscious sent up images from my subliminal reservoirs faster than I could grasp them. Just as I was about to recognize an image it fled before my mental grasping. And then, I can’t explain it, it’s only happened twice in my life, my inner being, my doppelganger, my alter ego, that image of myself that was in the rain splattered window, that phantom who may be more real than myself, perhaps he is the guardian of my sanity, he who suppresses and hides my most painful memories, puts them in a place where they can’t harm me, transweaves the unpleasantnesses of my life into a fabric that makes my life presentable, who didn’t, can’t make himself known, seemed to say, although nothing could be heard: ‘Alright, you want to see, look.’

Then somewhere along the limes where my conscious and unconscious meet, a hatch, a skylight, opened up and I was shown, I don’t say remembered, I was shown the worst moment of shame and sorrow I have ever known. The guilt of a thoughtless and callous man rose up and took possession of me. I let out a low moan. It was too late to turn away.

Don’t think badly of me. It was my fault but I wasn’t entirely responsible. There were mitigating circumstances. I’m sure you will agree once you know. Let me tell you the story. I’m sure you will find mitigation to soften your censure into a compassionate pity, empathy, or even sympathy. Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

I was eighteen, no nineteen, when I committed a despicable act. But let me begin the story much earlier so that you can understand much better. No man can be understood without a knowledge of his childhood. My own was not imbued with the vibrant and cheerful colors of happiness. No, my friend, it was quite the reverse. Nor do I seek your pity although I will not reject your sympathetic attention. I have always been of the opinion that one must accept the situation in which one finds oneself and try to convert that dross into gold. To shed your past like a caterpillar sheds his skin and emerges transformed into a newer, better creation, or at least a more attractive one. I hope that when my life is over, when my trials are done, when my sorrows have ended, will not have failed in this task.

I am not an orphan, per se, but I was abandoned by my mother when I was seven. She left me on the steps of the Municipal Orphanage and I never saw her again. My life in the Orphanage is not germane to this story, but you must know the social hardships which orphans must endure. Orphans are social outcasts. Just as a man without a country has no place to rest, so the child without a parent is an unsanctified outcast of society, driven to the fringes of the sanctified. Forced to the edge of the pale, if not, out side it. He becomes a species of outlaw who has committed no crime. Nobody’s child, a child with no protector. A wanderer in a desert with no boundaries while always being its geographical center. He is despised and victimized by adult and child alike. He is compelled to wear the badge of inferiority just as the Jews in Medieval times were required to display their yellow Mogen David. The orphan wears his like the Negro wears his skin.

In our case we were dressed in oversized or undersized clothes. We were compelled at various times to wear mismatched socks or shoes. Oversized shoes and socks that were more hole than sock. Shirts so large that the sleeves had to be cut back to expose our hands, the ragged edges flapping at our wrists. Our hair was cut with cowlicks sprouting every which way. We were made to look ridiculous and we were sent to public school that way.

I have often envied Blacks and Jews their solidarity. Despised though they may have been they could find solace, or at least as much as humankind will allow, in each other. We, while in a world of our ostensible peers, despised each other as we were despised. At school we were not allowed to win, often not allowed to compete, and were denied any success. The gates of Christian charity were closed to us, although by a misconstruction of the world charity, the ‘decent folk’ distributed largesse, which they misconstrued as charity, to inflate their self-esteem, to us in the form of small conscience offerings at Christmas and, perhaps, also Easter. It was demanded that we be the hewers of wood and carriers of water for out betters with the parents. But the worst was yet to come.

When a child turned ten he was no longer welcome at the Orphanage. Orphaned or abandoned he was even rejected by the custodians of the damned. At ten the Angels of Charity arrived to claim their due. Our prospective foster parents arrived to claim their due. Our foster parents came to pick up a means of livelihood and a slave for the house. I was either selected by or assigned to, I don’t know which, the Wardens. The Wardens did not really need the money they were sent for my care each month, or, that was not their prime motivation, although precious little of it was ever spent on me. What they wanted was a clown.

The Wardens were much less than successful. Jack Warden, or Mr. Warden as I was compelled to call him, had delusions of grandeur based on some sort of imagined connection to the royalty or nobility of ancient England. He even kept a collection of coats of arms on the wall. He would point to this particular one and say, ‘Yeh, that’s the one. That’s the one right there. That’s the one all right.’ Just like it was his, but I knew it wasn’t. He was white collar over at Malleable Iron so that he could maintain his dignity over the blue collar workers.

The Wardens lived in a decent house on Bay Street which was O.K. but beneath his supposed dignity. Anne Warden, Anne as she said had been the queen of England, affected manners which she thought were the immaculate reflection of the ‘well born.’ But, I shouldn’t complain because those affected manners have stood me in good stead. They had two sons, Skippy and Cappy. Cappy was two years older than I was and Skippy was four. Neither boy was amounting to anything. The townsfolks’ opinion of the Wardens was much less exalted than their own. The status of Skippy and Cappy was therefore not of the highest. The Wardens were not totally oblivious to reality. While they were masters of delusion they were also acutely aware of the disparity between their illusions and reality. They could not levitate their sons over the children of more affluent and successful people. They could invent innumerable reasons for themselves but the neighbors rebuked them when they made exorbitant claims for the lads.

I was the solution to their problems. On the one hand they could demand credit for their charity from the neighbors and on the other society paid them to keep a fool for their boys. What radio beam I followed to keep me on track I’ll never know. I suppose religion had something to do with it. I had been compelled to attend church since a small boy. I knew the Baptists, the Methodists, and non-sectarians, whatever their fantasy might be. Now, as the Wardens were very sanctimonious, I found the Presbyterians. I was always revolted by both the Bible and its devotees, but as the Bible is the dream story of a despised and ineffectual people whose lives are irradiated by an irrational hope, I identified with that strange peoples’ desperate situation and seized the only life raft that fate had to offer me. I embraced hope as a fat man embraces a full refrigerator at midnight. I made hope my own. It was all there was between myself and psychic desolation. For the Wardens drove me further and further into a mental zone that was very far from normal. As my childhood progressed I became aware of two existences. The one, the despicable clown that I was compelled to be and the other, the real me, that stood aside and watched and doled out encouragement and hope to the wretch who walked in my shoes.

As society would not honor Skippy and Cappy in the manner they thought was their due, I was to give them that status in their eyes. I was denied and ridiculed. I was placed in impossible situations so that I might perform badly, while Skippy and Cappy would then show their superiority by ‘doing the job right.’ One time I was made to mow the lawn with a dull mower and compelled to watch in silence and mortification while Skippy ‘did the job right’ with a sharpened mower. But it’s more important that you see what I was forced to become.

While the boys were dressed well, I was made to look shabby and unkempt. Just as at the orphanage my clothes never fit. I had to wear Skippy’s worn out shoes. Cappy’s old clothes, although I actually outgrew him. By high school I was flopping around in big shoes and a pair of too small grey gabardine pants with a shiny behind. High in the leg and the crotch pulled up tight between my legs. The pocket openings were all frayed and the pockets all worn out. You could see your reflection in the seat of the pants the cloth was so shiny. Girls wouldn’t even look at me.

Then after Skippy and Cappy graduated it was even worse. Neither went to college as was expected. Both just kind of bummed around. The Wardens turned on me savagely in their disappointment. They wanted me to be even more ridiculous as they now thought their sons had failed them. I don’t like to drink because sometimes the memory of it drives railway spikes through my brain.

I don’t know when it started but I know that it was the result of the accumulated opprobrium, ridicule and denial that I had endured all my life. It became an especial burden as I became old enough to understand, even if in primitive outline, what was being done to me. I rejected all accusations of unworthiness and knew in my heart and grasped intellectually that I was as good as my detractors. Nevertheless the weight of their scorn and hatred, which they of course denied, bore down heavily on me. As my various neuroses and eccentricities developed in relation to my ostracization I began to hear a sound in my ears, a roar as mighty as Niagara. It stood as a barrier between myself and the world, or rather the world from me. I had to listen to people around it, with an especially attentive ear. I was afraid.

I held myself together through high school but upon graduation, abandoned by everyone, ridiculed and laughed at by the Wardens, I fell apart. I became ineffective. I had difficulty tying my clown shoes. I often had to make two, three or four attempts before I could succeed at that simple task. Once while receiving change from the paper boy I turned my hand sideways just as he released the change which clattered to the floor. I was mad with anguish and self-criticism. The hope that had sustained me fled and I was hopeless.

Throughout the summer I knew not what to do. When the days began to shorten and daylight began to flee, I, by association, thought that I must flee. I had some few dollars that I had manage to save and putting on my clown shoes, my shabby grey pants with the short legs and high crotch, an old white T-shirt, and a too small denim jacket that I had inherited from Cappy, I walked out the Warden’s house for the last time. I can still hear the slam of the screen door. The tongue and groove on the green painted porch numbered ten. I can see them all as my shoes passed over them.

I wanted to get far away. As I had never been far away before I thought in short distances. Primary in my mind was to leave the Valley. I rejected going to Detroit and the South because I knew I couldn’t deal with that many people. I thought of going out in the Thumb but the Wardens had relatives in Caro and I didn’t want to be close to them at all. For, probably psychological reasons I decided to head up north the Grand Traverse, the Great Crossing. A divide, that once crossed would divide me forever from a hated and hateful childhood. As my mother had abandoned me I would symbolically abandon her. Not that she cared. I had never heard from her.

Blinded by my desperate urgency I walked out of that house of the distraught and just kept walking. I wouldn’t have spent the money anyway but it never occurred to me to take the bus. It never occurred to me to put out my thumb; I just walked along listening to the roar in my ears which seemed to be intensifying, to be getting louder, it seemed to be engulfing my brain. I don’t remember much of my flight. I remember passing the multitudinous churches of Midland. That city was dominated by large chemical plants and a chemical stench constantly hung over the whole city. In my distracted state I imagined that that oppressive smell was emanating from that army of churches. No love had I even known from sanctimonious hypocrites of God.

After Midland the roar in my ears seemed to affect my vision. I saw and registered nothing. The tears repressed for eighteen years began to flow and I walked and walked, sobbing and sobbing.

I don’t even know whether I stopped to rest or not. I just kept picking those big clown shoes up and laying them down. Because of the size of the shoes I had to lift my knees high to bring my foot forward. I was oblivious to the catcalls of passing drivers appalled by the sight of the strange apparition that I was. At night, local boys drove by and threw beer cans at me. One reached out the window and tried to hit me with his fist. I grabbed at his arm and pulled it back. I escaped their wrath for playing ‘unfair.’

As I say, I walked on and on until my woes engulfed me, until my body and mind separated and we existed in two different worlds. As my body trudged on my mind descended by stages into a hell of despair. Oblivion overwhelmed me, nothingness became my reality. I don’t know what happened.

When my senses returned, when the terrible fog lifted and dissipated and became a mere haze I found that I must have left hell and gone directly to heaven. My overall impression was white but I was surrounded by the most heavenly colors. White, a delicate pink and the palest of blues. My head was resting in billows of soft, clean, white pillows, the cases of which I had never seen the like. My body was covered by the sheets, pink and blue and a down slightly darker blue comforter. Above, the white underside of a blue canopy glowed cheerily back at me. It was daylight but still semi-dazed I lay there drifting in and out of consciousness. Then just as the sun was going down I heard a door open and shut. I looked over to find her smiling down at me. It was Angeline, my redemptress.

A feeling of security warmed my heart and saying nothing I slipped off into unconsciousness for the night. When I awoke sometime before dawn she was lying there beside me, sleeping peacefully. Not daring to move I lay there quietly studying her. She began to stir. I pretended to be asleep and she, solicitous for my welfare, dressed quietly and left for work. As I tried to rise I found I couldn’t and spent the morning fitting my mind into my body. The reunion was difficult and imperfect. I would spend decades trying to match the edges.

I found myself weak and lethargic, unable to concentrate or even to grasp my situation. Sometime in the morning, feeling the pangs of hunger I compelled myself to rise and seek nourishment. During the process of alimentation I surveyed my surroundings. My shelter, and it was little more than that, was a one room shack. It was small and mean but immaculate. The lovely bed, although bed is an inadequate description of the little paradise in which Angeline reposed for her slumbers, was in one corner. A bathtub was adjacent to it. On the other side of the room where I now sat, were her kitchen facilities. Dressers and a table with chairs occupied the front of the room. In the middle of the front wall was the door.

After eating, still exhausted, I lay down again to rest.

It was as though I had received a great injury, suffered a debilitating illness for as the fall turned into winter I remained faint and listless. As the approach of spring became imminent my mind began to regain its sharpness and my body its vitality.

Angeline was very patient with me, neither pressing me nor hurrying me. In those few months, even in my depressed state I came to appreciate and love her. She was twenty-five and had also had a difficult childhood; which fact I only surmise as she never talked about her past nor complained about her present. She sought complete self-sufficiency and within reason did everything for herself. She eschewed radio and television and even never bought magazines or newspapers. She wanted to create her own perfect world without obtrusions from an unsympathetic and hostile reality. In the time I knew her I never saw her with another person.

My own laughable wardrobe had disappeared and she had tailored new clothes for me. She knew how to do everything. Where she learned I don’t know. Even my oversized shoes were gone, replaced by a pair of moccasins Angeline had sewn. For the first time in my life I was dressed in clothes that fit. Clothes that were meant to dignify me not ridicule me. Clothes that signified manhood not foolhood.

Angeline worked as a waitress in town. What town I can’t remember except that it was on the South side of Lake Michigan near the Grand Traverse. It was a small town which I never had occasion to visit. Angeline’s cabin was on the rise looking out over the cool blue waters of Lake Michigan, over the Grand Traverse separating the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The place where Lake Michigan without any discontinuity or break changed its name to Lake Huron.

On those cold wintry days I often sat on a stump looking out over the Great Crossing, the Grand Traverse, that might someday separate me from the past; that might lead to a new and better life on the other side.

Angeline was always cheery, what cheeriness I know I learned from her. Much cheerier she was than I. I was not the best company that winter and I often wondered why she didn’t turn me out. She didn’t. Angeline had the capacity to make the best of everything. She would warm up the coldest night and cool off the hottest day. She could make the darkest corner bright. She was able to nurse me back to health.

So my winter of recuperation passed in the heaven created by Angeline. Recovering by day, fed by a divine cook in the evenings and passing my nights beside the loveliest incarnation of womankind. Angeline would have been no-one’s cover girl but there was no woman more beautiful than she.

As Spring came on my strength and energy returned. My psyche began to repair itself and I attempted to recover the mental balance that I had always been denied. As the days grew longer and daylight appeared between Angeline’s return and nightfall we began to take long walks through the woods and down to the lake shore. There were delightful little streams in the woods, there was an abundance of wild flowers. The air was sweet and fresh. The skies were clear and blue. Berries as summer progressed. There was nothing more a man could want-except escape from a hateful past that lay too close behind.

As I began my slow recovery I felt the need to tell the world of the way it really was, to save it from doing to others what it had done to me. I began to write about my pain in little stories. I sent them to magazines but they all came back. The world was not interested in my pain, or perhaps my pain was so fresh that the jagged edges terrified whoever my readers may have been. Angeline encouraged me and urged me on, so that I never quit trying.

The roaring in my ears had continued and continually distracted me. I was compelled to be patient with it for there was no way to avoid it. But then, one night that summer during my sleep that mighty Niagara ceased to flow. When I awoke that morning I was aware that something was different but I didn’t know what. Something was missing, it was so quiet. And then when Angeline spoke to me it was as though I could hear her voice clearly for the first time. It was then I realized that the roaring had ceased. The very worst part of the pain must have dissipated. My joy suffused by body and the look of love and gratitude with which I embathed Angeline brought a flush of pleasure to her cheeks. Whatever happiness I was able to give her, she enjoyed it then. I could never understand what pleasure Angeline could find in me. I wanted to be pleasant and charming to her and I tried very hard to be so, but I know that my injuries were so grievous, my self-absorption so complete, that I couldn’t have been.

We spent the summer and fall roaming over our little paradise, dipping our feet in the cool streams and exploring the lakeside. And then came the winter once again. We still walked in the woods on Angeline’s days off and it was there on that cold January day that we came on our portent of disaster. We discovered a deer that had been injured by a bow hunter. The arrowhead and the broken shaft of the arrow were still lodged in the deer’s foreleg. The wound had festered and the deer was in great pain limping pitifully. If it had been healthy it would have run away before Angeline could have charmed it. Perhaps Angeline could have charmed it anyway; she was that spontaneously wonderful. The deer, with the trust and docility of one bereft of hope, subordinating its fear out of desperation to his pain, submitted to Angeline’s graces and the two of us guided the poor beast to Angeline’s little cabin.

She lavished attention on the deer; with all the care of a loving and open heart she began to nurse him back to health.

I am ashamed. It wasn’t jealousy. It wasn’t envy. I too had enough compassion to help the deer. It was a feeling of foreboding. My own pain had been so great, indeed its dissolution had only a year earlier just begun, that I had been unable, it had not occurred to me till then to ask Angeline how it was that she had found and brought me to her home to mend. I wish I had not thought to ask myself that terrible question then. I certainly could not have been a prize. My face must have mirrored the distraction of my mind. I was wearing those ridiculous clothes, dirty from I don’t know how many days of tramping along the highway. I was grateful to Angeline then; I’m even more grateful today, but I couldn’t help comparing myself to that deer on which she lavished as much love and attention as he had lavished on me.

I didn’t really think about it, I didn’t consciously dwell on it, but my past, just behind me, began nipping at my heels. As I stood outside her door and gazed out toward the Grand Traverse, escape from that past seemed possible and necessary. Without really thinking about the notion of flight, or leaving Angeline behind, the notion began to take shape in my mind.

As winter passed once more and the beauties of April and May arrived the deer, now healed, walked away, looked back at us, nodded a goodbye one morning and disappeared into the woods. I stood by Angeline and watched him leave saying nothing. That April and May I enjoyed her company as never before while I, myself, grew more sad and morose.

Then one day in May we were out walking through the woods, I with my head down absorbed in my depression when in an effort to cheer me she said: ‘Oh, Greshie, look up, look at the sky, isn’t it beautiful?’ And it was. It was a sky such as only happens in Michigan. The clouds were drifting in majestic rows from the northwest. Each wisp was bigger than a cream puff. Each separated from its neighbors by an equal distance; each row separated from the other rows by an equal opening. These serried battalions of fluffy white clouds marched on in endless succession across the blue of a fading day. Each cloud was tinted with overtones of pink. Pink, white and blue. Angeline’s colors. The colors of happiness with which she surrounded herself, surrounded us each night in her arbor of bliss. She pointed this out to me glowing and joyous. Of course I shared her joy, but I also noticed a dark grey band forming behind each of the thousands of clouds.

When we returned to the cabin, the blue of the Grand Traverse was still visible in the fading light of a perfect day. It was then, I think, that I knew that I would be leaving soon.

Now, I didn’t think any of this out at the time and perhaps I’m only making excuses for myself now, but Angeline was on this side of the Grand Traverse at the end of my childhood and my life lay on the other side. Perhaps if I had made the crossing and she had found me on the other side things would have been different. As part of my future rather than my past, I might never have had to leave her. I was once again numb. How could I tell her. What could I say. How could I find words to say it. What right did I have to leave the savior of my life. There were no answers that came to my mind. There were no answers. None.

And this is my shame. That deer had more compassion than I had. He at last gave Angeline a nod goodbye. With me, Angeline just came home to an empty cabin and an empty bed. Oh God, I’m so ashamed of myself. How could I be so cruel and heartless. I who knew what cruelty and heartlessness were. How could I….

Still, as the ferry pulled from the slip heading out across the Grand Traverse, I was aboard it. As the ferry glided across the water I stood looking back along the shoreline hoping to sight the scene of my salvation. It was already too far away, around a bend in the coastline which I would never be able to find again. It had vanished from this earth as far as I was concerned. My Eden existed for me in memory alone and I had forgotten that.

I became conscious, as with tear blurred vision I gazed outward, of the twitters of other passengers around me. Not knowing what to think I cautiously and discretely looked about me. They were laughing at me. Dismayed I searched for a reason. Then I discovered that the moccasins and clothing that had been so perfect in the House of Love were not appropriate for the vulgar wide world. No matter, they were crafted with love by the loveliest woman the world had ever known. They were men’s clothes not fool’s clothes. I knew the truth and it was sufficient for the day. Tears of gratitude coursed down my cheeks.

My tears ran over my cheeks, past my ears and onto the pillow as I awoke to the reality of the present. Still partially intoxicated I sat up on the side of the bed elbows on knees head in hands, trying to calm my aching heart. What had I gained and what had I lost? At the Wardens I used to spread the Sunday Funnies on the floor to read them. On the masthead had been a picture of Puck bearing the legend: Oh, what fools ye moral be.

Exuent.

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

The Heart Of The Matter

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 15 and End.

     The two made a terrific team during the turbulent sixties and the degenerate seventies.  Guy was known as a hanging judge while having a somewhat disreputable style.  Meggy balanced that off magnificently with her seeming rectitude.  Either alone might have been a bit too much  but together they were a terrific combination.  Many women having such relationships with judges adopt the appearance of a kept woman, I almost said prostitute, while having a number of psychologically dependent young women attached to them.

     Meggy had a cadre of loyal young women to scout and research any rumors but any rumors about her and Guy were definitely false.  Carrying her psychic scars from her accident Meggy inadvertantly aided and abetted Judge Pascal’s social hatreds which were directed against the Anglos.

     Notwithstanding Top Cop Hoover’s protestations to the contrary the Mafia and organized crime did exist and right there in theValley.  Whatever motives the Top Cop had for denial, every schoolboy understood the influence of the Mafia.  During WWII when the Mafiosi had refused to serve this ‘great country’ those connected had all the gasoline and restricted commodities they wanted while law abiding Anglos and others dutifully went without.  Naturally the wiseguys considered themselves ‘smart’ while others were stupid.  Today, at least, they have the self-respect and decency to gloat over their success rather than resort to hypocrisy as the Anglos do.

page 1961.

     Their wartime successes made them bold too.  When the government went to the incarcerated criminal, Lucky Luciano, to ask his help on the NY waterfront from prison, mind you, to facilitate shipping from the Mob controlled docks of the East, Italians knew they had it aced.  With the end of the war they issued forth from their Little Italies in force.  The Mafia divided the country into zones just like the post office divided it into area codes.

     I don’t know if they gave the zones numbers but the Pasquales got the Valley from below Flint to Bay City.  It was like there were two different governments non-Italians had to deal with.  You had the legally constituted authorities on the one hand and the illegal Mafia on the other.  One could crush you legally while the other could break your legs with impunity.  Officer De Cicco of the VPD might not be interested in pursuing Sicilian buddies while Officer Walker knew better than to.

     These were the days of Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters who were adjuncts of the Mafia and Sam Giancana and the Chicago Outfit.  For some reason reason Northern and Western Michigan seemed to be Chicago territory rather than Detroit’s.

     These guys were arrogant.  When they were in town you got out of their way.  Hoffa and the Mob used various locales in the Upper Peninsula as hideouts for hot lamisters.  When they were in town life was uncomfortable for the locals.  More than uncomfortable, unpleasant, it was like sewage that you daren’t clean up had infested the town.  Top Cop Hoover boasted that he gunned down John Dillinger while Al Capone ran Chicago but I would rather sit down to dinner with a John Dillinger than share the same public john with Al Capone.  Apparently a Top Cop felt differently.

page 1962.

     The Pasquale clan was connected with the Giancana led Mob of Chicago.  Jimmy Hoffa was unpleasant enough but Sam Giancana was terrifying.  In dark glasses and pulled down hat with that contemptuous smile on his lips he exuded evil from the seventh level up.  In the years after 1958 he was coming into his own.  With the rise of the son of the old mobster Joe Kennedy Sam Giancana thought he was to have a lifeline to heaven.  Joe Kennedy played Sam just right to get his son Jack elected president.  It seems fairly clear at this point that Sam spents lots of plundered money on Jack while stuffing Illinois ballot boxes to swing the election to JFK.

     After his election in the year of Kennedy’s victory Judge Guy himself had been introduced to the Mafia chieftain.  Sam knew how to treat a paisano on the Bench.  He regaled Guy with the tales of how he fled the Federales through the brambles and woods of Appalachin in 1957 when ‘proof’ of organized crime was made evident to everyone except J. Edgar.

     Sam, who had been raised on the concrete of Chicago laughingly asked Guy if he knew that wet leaves were slippery on a downslope.  In his mad flight from the cops Sam hadn’t taken that into account having fallen on his ass a couple times as he ran.  He still got away but he couldn’t get over how slippery wet leaves were.

     He confided the inside story to Guy about how the Chicago Mob got Jack Kennedy elected and the terrible doublecross when Bobby Kennedy turned on the Outfit.  But, he said, the Outfit still had an in with Dick Nixon so that the Sicilians were going to be in with the In Crowd; hang in there.  And then after that there was Ronnie Reagan.

     Guy had been flattered to get the inside scoop directly from one end of the horse or the other.  He had his own sources that indicated the growing power of Sicily through crime.  He turned the screws on Anglos brought up before him.

     First the Mob brought the dope into the Valley, then sold it to the Anglos;  then the cops busted the Anglos for possession of a joint sending them up before the hanger, Judge Pascal.

     The judge with Meggy’s approval gave Draconian sentences of five, ten and even fifteen years in the penitentiary, the Big House, for the possession of one joint.  The Penitentiary!  Not even the county farm, the Big House.  True, marijuana was illegal but to criminalize a whole generation and more for the uncontrollable situation was unconscionable.  It wasn’t like the Mafia wasn’t importing heroin and whatever by the ton while escaping prison sentences altogether.

     It wasn’t like the Pasquale clan wasn’t the biggest importer of grass into theValley.  They were.  But Judge Guy, that impartial soul, was in a position to punish or favor.  He chose to favor his Pasquales while taking vengeance for Giangiacomo’s humiliation on the Anglos.  Having inside information he could in most cases warn his family.  If arrested when they came before him, the legal fiction of the name Pascal versus Pasquale was maintained to appear impartial.  He found some technicality to get them off.

     Marijuana was profitable but when cocaine came in Judge Pascal, as well as many another judge and cop, improved his standard of living materially.  People wondered how he could manage so well on his salary.  ‘Private investments.’  Judge Guy explained.  ‘Private investments.’

     Meggy Malone saw all but she closed her eyes to Judge Guy’s peccadilloes so long as he let her have hers.   These were changing tumultuous times on the personal level as well as the social.  The feminism Meggy ingested in Mrs. Hicks’ class became institutionalized in the years following the publication of Betty Friedan’s ‘Feminine Mystique’ in 1964.  Meggy saw herself as the Fulfilled Woman.  The notion of the Matriarchy which came to dominate the sexual theory of the times gave a focus to Meggy’s notion of men.  She had always intimidated the men in her life but after her accident she dominated them to the point of emasculation.  Her feminism all but made them impotent in her presence.

     This dovetailed nicely with her relationship with the Black miscreants brought up before Judge Pascal.  They farmed the Blacks just like they had segregated them and look out for its physical manifestations.

page 1965.

     The Whites had successfully kept the Blacks on the East Side.  Melville had remained White.  The Whites had come up with all kinds of maneuvers to keep schools segregated.  Rightly so in my opinion but the Urban Aristocracy thought differently.  Meggy was now an important member of the Urban Aristocracy.

     Thwarted in their aims to mingle the races the Aristocracy now sat down to come up with the insane plan of busing  Black students to White schools and White students to Black schools.  If  ‘bigoted’  Whites thought they could thwart the desires of the Aristocracy they were wrong.  Democracy be damned.  No vote was taken but now long lines of buses traveled from the East Side loaded with Negroes to attend Melville regardless of what anyone thought, White or Black.

     As usual the Aristocracy paid no attention to the evolution of Black psychology.  It was no longer 1958 when they began the busing.  Black ball players had been shaking their roots in the face of White America for a decade and nothing happened.  The Honkies sat respectfully and sucked it all in.

     LA had gone up in ’65 and nothing happened.  The Steppin Fetchets of the thirties and forties had become more militant.  They were more angry.  By the time of busing they were seething.  These militant angry young Black men were turned loose in high school hallways of White America while White Americans were told they would go to jail if they offered the least defense of their rights.

     Violence escalated in the halls.  Weapons developed from knives and spring blackjacks to pistols, machine pistols, machine guns and bombs.  The Urban Aristocracy just shook their heads over kids nowadays.  The only way to stop the violence, they said, was to eliminate any vestige of liberty, a total lock down of the Whites.  The schools must be run as concentration camps.  By eliminating freedom for Whites you restored order.  Anyone who read the Protocols of Zion will recognize the game plan.  Thus spake the Greatest Generation, the men who had fought the arch demon, Hitler,  to make the world free.  Free?  They only made it over  into the image of Hitler’s concentration camps.

page 1966.

     You’d better go along if you want to get along was their motto.

     On her feminist side Meggy exaggerated the integrity of women.  Like all feminists she believed that women could do no wrong, they were always in the right.  Since she used her influence and power to crush the manhood out of any men she knew she could only despise them for being effete.  Reminiscent of the young sailors aboard the Teufelsdreck who thought that college men and officers were too mentally developed to be good sex partners Meggy thought that only men with no attainments had real sexual drive.  Driven by her male desire which she had inadvertantly clothed with a ‘low class’ image she could only find sexual release in what she considered the lowest of humanity.  At this time she would have slept with Dewey Trueman, her archetype of low class had he been there and willing.

     Sex is where Meggy went wrong.  Judge Guy over the years had watched her anxiously from the bench.  Pascal was a very jealous man.  If Meggy was to give it to anyone he had better be first in line or there would be hell to pay.  Judge Guy hadn’t wrestled with his X chromosome and come up triumphant yet.  Meggy was not so discreet that her sexual activites escaped the watchful eye of the Sicilian judge.

page 1967.

     There was only one bike club in the Valley.  The Valley Varmints.  As they are quite primitive fellows in their social relationships that directness appealed to Meggy.  Low class, violent and sexually charged.  Meggy went for the gold.  She insinuated herself into the club as a part time mama.  She would spend a weekend with her boys from time to time.

     She had gained her introduction through her job when one of Dalton Dagger’s cousins had been brought up on dope charges.  The evidence had conveniently disappeared from police storage.  Some said the cops sold it but Meggy had discreetly let it be known that she had been responsible.  Devon Dagger had taken it from there.

     Judge Guy Pascal quietly raised his eyebrows.

     A woman of Meggy’s importance was eminently useful so the club treated her as she liked excusing her the worst abuses with which bikers treat their women.

     Meggy should have known that secrecy is impossible in our society.  What secrets you don’t have people will invent for crying out loud.  The eyes of envy soon ferret out all secrets.  After all the bikers had to get their dope through the Pasquales.  How sharp did Meggy have to be to think of that?

     It was never clear that Judge Guy Pascal ordered the raid that precipitated Meggy’s humiliation but it is certain Meggy’s doings came to his attention.  Guy Pascal had made passes at the ‘fast Mick broad’ which she had rebuffed with offended purity.  Nothing offends a man’s amour propre more, especially a powerful self-important man like Judge Guy Pascal.  More especially when his outrage was created by the excesses of Meggy’s doing.

     When word reached him of Meggy’s proclivities he was not only insanely jealous but shocked while at the same time being disgusted and pleased.

     The raid came as a complete surprise to Meggy who was usually apprised of everything.  Sometimes things even Judge Guy didn’t know.

      When the cops burst into the biker house they found Meggy naked on the floor surrounded by bikers waiting their turn while Fat Tony Frankenheimer was pumping oil from her well at 78 RPMs.

     She didn’t know, nobody could have guessed, but this was the result of ‘summoning’ Dewey Trueman to her bedside twenty years earlier.

     Meggy was a justified sinner.  It was impossible to besmear her own notion of her purity.  The mind is a strange thing.  Meggy did not ‘believe’ astrology but like the rest of us she read the newspaper column regularly and sometimes bought the Virgo booklets at the grocery store check out stands.  For Meggy was a Virgo, the Virgin.  Now, in the Olympian Zodiac Virgo is ruled by Demeter the mother of terrestrial growth.  Her daughter is Persephone the wife of Hades and the symbol of the virgin growth of Spring.

page 1969.

     Meggy had studied her Greek mythology in the feminine branch of Mrs. Hicks’ instruction.  With the girls Mrs. Hicks had paid special attention to the goddess myths.  The most important of all women being that of Hera and her ability to restore her virginity.  Meggy couldn’t have articulated it but she had put together the meaningof Virgo-Demeter and Aqarius-Hera.   Thus no matter her sexual adventures she always remained a virgin in mind and hence in appearance and attitude.

     Given her position in the courts her embarrassment never reached the papers but because the records showed the cops bagged a ton of amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana Judge Guy Pascal thought it wise for Meggy to resign her position in his court.

     It is true that the bikers insisted that the house was clean, which in fact it was, but when the representatives of the law say they bagged the dope on the premises who’s going to believe a bunch of greasy bikers?  It was a good joke but the bikers weren’t the ones laughing.

     Just as Meggy was always a virgin she didn’t need any proof to know that Judge Pascal was behind the whole raid.   Vengeance, you know, the Lord…people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  Meggy’s people believed Meggy’s protestations of innocence.  Judge Guy should have kept his in his pants too; he had messed with the wrong party.

     Meggy Malone knew some secrets of her own while she knew people who continued to think very well of her on the force and in the DAs office.  Those guys always know more than they’re telling too.

page 1970.

     A shipment of cocaine to Rocco’s Pizza Parlor was intercepted at the back door.  Rocco’s was a distribution front for the Pasquales so the whole clan was now exposed as the city’s premier dope dealers.  Documents found their way into the hands of the police and DA as well as the Valley news which clearly implicated the austere hanging judge, Guy Pascal.  It was now ‘discovered’ that Guy Pascal was really Guido Pasquale.

     Several of the Pasquales found their way to the State pen while the Judge who was able to evade conviction left town to begin a new legal career for the Outfit in Chitown.

     Satisfied that she was avenged Meggy followed on his heels out of town unable to bear the wagging tongues of gossips.

     Meggy’s first move was down to ‘Bama.  But those Southern Whites have no love for Northern carpetbaggers.  Meggy’s advocacy of Blacks did little to endear herself down in Dixie.  She found actual contact with the race less pleasant than her long distance affection for them.  Unable to live with the Whites with her attitude but unable to move in with the Blacks Meggy had no choice but to move on.

     Her next choice was Bozeman, Montana.  This was not her final destination.  After a couple years she left for Boise.  She didn’t like life in the desert.  She heard the hills calling so she packed her bags again for her final destination, Coeur D’Alene.

     She had at last outrun the rumors but time had taken its toll on Meggy’s psyche.  Her troubled mind drove her in predictable directions.

page 1971.

     The demon who governed her dreams changed his character.  He became a real Rider On The Storm.  Her dream changed so that she rode on a bad motorcycle behind the devil in colors.  They were racing down a long bowling alley at ninety miles an hour toward eight foot chrome plated steel pylons shaped as penises which formed the ten pins.  Meggy with her arms tightly around the devil’s neck flapped in the breeze behind him to the cracking of bones broken so long ago on that icy Motown street.

     She never hit the pins but the very notion of sleep became such a terror to her that she could no longer go to bed.  She sat up night after night recalling herself from dozes lest she dream that terrible dream.

     It was then that she began to seek some form of penance.

     Penance for what what she wasn’t concious of but her subconscious knew and showed her the path.  She began to search for some hillbilly beau with whom to form an alliance.  Her path happened to cross that of Dart Craddock.

     When Dart had been sent to the brig at the beginning of  ’58 in Guam he accepted his fate with resignation.  He received his discharge in 1959 at which time he returned to Northern Idaho.  Dart was really a raw mannered guy.  In the environment of the Navy where everyone came from the other half some really raw manners passed unnoticed in the general milieu.  Dart wasn’t really raw in the sense of basal crudity but he come from mining stock which had fought the wars of the hard rock miners around the turn of the century.

     As noted earlier his grandpop had been with Big Bill Haywood and the Western Federation of Miners.  I suppose Big Bill is pretty much forgotten now except with specialists but his autobiography is worth reading.  Coeur D’ Alene had been a terrific battleground where the hard rock miners of the WFM put up a stout fight.  The memories of those days still lived on in the Idaho hills.  The hard feelings still existed.

page 1972.

     When Big Bill Haywood had been run out of the WFM he became part of the Industrial Workers Of The World.  Dart’s grandpop had followed Bill into the IWW.  The biggest battle of all Wobbly battles had been fought in Spokane a few miles to the West.  Then the battles raged down the coast until grandpop had gotten the IWW branded on his lower cheek down in San Diego.

     Dart still carried the chip on his shoulder from that the same as he had in San Diego.  As Meggy’s subconscious adjusted her conscious mind to her new perspective Dart Craddock became exceedingly attractive to her.  Especially when she learned that he lived out of town on a mountain hillside in what was close enough to a hillbilly shack to suit her psychic needs.

     Dart was already a two time loser; he didn’t see the need to take a third hitch.  Meggy thought it over a little and decided to humble herself by showing up on Dart’s porch with her suitcases in hand.  She set the suitcases down to look imploringly in his eyes.  Dart gave her a hard serious look for a few mintues then opened the door to admit her while he picked up the suitcases and placed them inside.  Meggy had found a home.

     She became a real mountain mama, bought herself some combat boots, a couple Ma Kettle looking outfits for the winter and Daisy Mae cutoffs for the summer and settled down in her own personal little Dogpatch.

     The life was good for her too.  Dart thought he’d acquired a real lady.  He didn’t know about Meggy’s biker days while she projected eternal chastity of sorts.  Dart was a big fellow by this time.  His six-four frame having filled out to two hundred sixty pounds.  This was the kind of bull Meggy’s male need wanted.  She was more than happy with her hillbilly beau.  Thus it seems to be true that there is a boy for every girl and a girl for every boy.  Sometimes the way to each other is a little roundabout, that’s all.

     As she settled into this hillbilly existence as penance, over the months much of her guilt was allayed so that her dreams became manageable.  She could sleep once again.

     She and Dart went to town on a Saturday night in his old beat up pick up truck; the kind she wouldn’t have gotten into back in the old days.  She sat as proudly beside him as though he were driving a Mercedes-Benz.  As they drove back of an early Sunday morning after a night in the honky-tonks the lights of Dart’s truck as they turned the corner shown on the street sight that announced:

TOBACCO ROAD.

The Man Who Had Life Made At Twenty

     Dewey’s caustic treatment of Meggy Malone in the hospital confrontation had grievously offended LeBaron Briscoe.  It was inconceivable to him that someone who,  from his point of view, had barely been tolerated in his own group should even attempt to defend himself before a girl of the stature of Meggy Malone.  He should have taken whatever abuse she offered him.

page 1974

     Briscoe was familiar with the Hirsh side of the details of the situation in kindergarten and second grade.  Nearly everyone involved had given the details to each member of the eating club in their campaign to discredit Dewey before his fellows.  Briscoe wouldn’t have excused Dewey if he thought he had been wronged back then which he didn’t.

     Meggy was Meggy and Dewey was Dewey.  She had value and he had none.  Briscoe had even gratuitously clued Dewey into McDonald’s and Dewey hadn’t even enough sense to grasp it.  There was no way a guy like that could insult Meggy Malone and get away with it.

     Briscoe had called Buzz Barrett to lament in shocked tones how Dewey had treated Meggy.  Buzz had been one of the members of Dewey’s eating club as well as Briscoe and Denny Demwitter.

     Because of the kindergarten and second grade incidents involving Dewey in which Meggy participated Hirsh/Yisraeli had determined to destroy Dewey.  The registration of Dewey at Melville Trade and the attempted expulsion from Mrs. Hicks’ class are an indication of the extremes which Hirsh was willing to employ.

     When Dewey established himself as a social presence in the eleventh grade with his eating club Hirsh had at first scoffed.  By the end of the eleventh grade however the eating club was challenging Michael Hirsh’s circle for preeminence.  Something would have to be done in twelfth grade.

page 1975.

     Various attempts were made to discredit Dewey but he survived them all.

     Then Hirsh got Michael’s friends to badmouth Dewey relating to the incident in second grade in which they depicted Dewey as a coward who timidly obeyed orders.  Dewey’s group listened but between groups of boys they refused to act lest they appear to be doing other boy’s bidding.

     Then Hirsh got Meggy to work using LeBaron Briscoe, who worshipped her, as a lever.  With only six other members in the club of which half were loyal to Dewey she had scant success obtaining only the votes of Briscoe and Buzz Barrett.

     As Dewey was searching for three new members to round the group out to ten, Hirsh determined to undermine the club by getting members of his own choosing.

     Dewey had known better than to include hs secret arch enemy and neighbor Ward Sonderman in his club.  At Hirsh’s instigation Sonderman formed a city league touch football team which included every member of the eating club including Dewey.  Thus by December  Sonderman had been selected bringing in a tenth member selected by Hirsh while Dewey brought in the ninth member.

     Hirsh, Meggy and the others now had enough latitude but the year was too far advanced for Dewey’s expulsion to mean anything so as graduation neared the club just fell into desuetude.  Dewey was spared the humiliation of being expelled from his own club.

page 1976.

     Nevertheless the deed had been consummated in the hearts of seven of the other nine members including Demwitter, Briscoe and Barrett.  Dewey’s replacement had even been hanging around the club ready to slip in.  He was a fellow by the name of Jerry Kramer.  Dewey had wondered why he was always about but never figured it out.

     Meggy had woven in and out of this situation.  They all thought she was top drawer.  Indeed because of the hatred felt toward Dewey by the elite most the club was associating with people far above their social status which they found most flattering.  Dewey could not be allowed to insult Meggy without a response.

     Buzz Barrett hung up after talking to Briscoe immediately calling Denny Demwitter to discuss the situation.  Although he had been too busy to have anything to do with the man who had been his closest friend in high school Denny now found time on the twenty-third for he and Dewey to call on Buzz.

     Denny and his girl friend picked up Dewey for the drive to Buzz’s home.

     ‘When’s the last time you saw Buzz, Dewey?’  Denny asked.

     ‘Oh gosh, I don’t know.  When did we have our last dinner?  March?  April?  Maybe at Klutz’s graduation party if he was there.’

     ‘Yeah.  All three of us were there.’

     ‘Must have been it, then.’

     Dirk Klutz had been the tenth member admitted to the eating club.  As Hirsh’s appointee he had been hostile to Dewey from the start.  As the newest member he had been the last house at which they were to have eaten in April.  He had refused to honor his obligation thus bringing the club to an end and Hirsh a small triumph although April would have been the last month anyway.

page 1977.

     Klutz had had a graduation party to which he invited the club to make up for his lack of observance for which he did come under criticism.  Dewey was not invited but told as an after thought that he could come if he felt like it.  He had swallowed his pride and attended only to find himself being ridiculed by the whole Hirsh crowd.  He fled in confusion with visions of the second grade dancing before his eyes.

     ‘Boy, Buzz has really got it made now.’  Denny enthused.

     ‘Oh yeah?’

     ‘Yeah.  He got married eight months ago.  First one of us.  Beautiful girl.’

     ‘Ya?  Anybody I know?’

     ‘Probably not.  She went to Lacramae Sacre.  Did you know the Catholic crowd?’

     ‘I knew some of them in grade school and Junior High but once they dropped out of public school they always thought they were getting a better education than us so we never talked.  What school did you go to, Carol?’  Dewey asked Denny’s girl.

     ‘I just moved to the Valley a year and a half ago.  I went to Grand Rapids Catholic Central.’

     ‘Anyway, like I was saying about Buzz, he’s really got it made for life.  You remember the deal he had with Mel Larsen, don’t you?’

page 1978.

     ‘Sure.’

     Mel Larsen had been the owner of Larsen’s Sporting Goods  downtown.  Like a lot of store owners do to stabilize their employees he had made a deal with Buzz when Buzz was only a part time worker in high school in tenth grade that if he would stay and work hard Mel would will him the business when he died.  Buzz had been easily seduced by the offer.  He had worked well and hard for Mel for what was now five years.

     ‘What do you think happened?’

     ‘Mel got on that train bound for Glory?’

     ‘What do you mean, train bound for Glory?’

     ‘Mel died.’

     ‘Yeh, he did.  How did you know?’

     ‘Guessed from something in your manner, Denny.  So he really did leave the business to Buzz.  That’s almost impossible but I suppose it does happen.  I was sure Larsen was leading Buzz on.’

      ‘All the details aren’t known yet but Buzz knows for sure that he’s mentioned in the will.  Here we are.’

     Buzz’s wife Melanie opened the door.

     Buzz was seated on his sofa in the attitude of the grand seigneur ready to greet his vassal.  At the age of twenty he had come into the fullness of life.

      They hadn’t planned how they were going to chastise Dewey for having been rude to Meggy they just thought that some general humiliation would ensue.

page 1979.

     ‘I guess you heard the news, Dewey?’

     ‘What?  You mean about Larsen?  Denny said you were mentioned in the will.’

     ‘That’s right.  You remember how you used to laugh at me because you thought Mel would cheat me in the end?’

     ‘I didn’t laugh at you Buzz.  I just don’t think Mel’s word was worth relying on.  I still don’t.  I still think you should have quit him and gone to college since you could have.’

     ‘Well, I think it’s clear that you’re wrong now, hey Dewey?’

     ‘If it turns out well I’m really happy for you Buzz.  I just don’t think employers keep their word on these things very often.’

     ‘Yes.  Well, you went in the Navy and just look at you now.  I took an honorable man’s word and now I’ve got it made for the rest of my life and I’m only twenty years old.  I’ve got everything and what have you got, another year to go?  Look, my wife Melanie here.  What do you think of this couch?  It’s mine.  New.’

     Dewey saw a repulsive overstuffed couch that he wouldn’t have sold his soul for but he complimented Buzz on it.

      ‘What do you think of my new combination TV/Stereo in genuine simulated Walnut finsh?’  He said pointing to a huge piece of furniture against the opposite wall four feet away.

     Dewey couldn’t believe his ears.  Did Buzz say ‘genuine simulated?’  Dewey thought back a couple years when he and these guys had been the coolest heads around, or thought they were.  How they had laughed at old folks who had been sucked in to flim flam like ‘genuine simulated.’  And now here, a mere two years later one of his group, hell, throw Denny in too, had fallen into a trap they had all despised.  Dewey said nothing but Buzz and Denny slipped over the edge of his earth.

     ‘Mel an I are going to get a genuine reproduction of a Renoir to put above it.  Every hear of Renoir?  French expressionist artist.  Know what a stereo is?  Mel, put the demonstration record on to show Dewey what a stereo is.  New.’

     Mel put the record on the changer and let the tone arm drop.

     Dewey smiled at the sound of the ping pong ball being slapped from left to right and back again.  The effect was something you never really got over.  Almost beat the hell out of the Sputnik.

     ‘Amazing isn’t it?  Ever heard anything like that before?’  Buzz demanded while Melanie took a seat on the arm of the sofa draping herself around Buzz giving a vacuous but beautiful smile to Dewey.

     ‘I was at a party maybe a month and half ago in Oakland, that’s in California, Buzz, and the guy had the same demonstration record only he had a setup that makes your combo look primitive.  He had a whole professional radio type setup with a control room and everything.  Half a dozen speakers.  Then there were these couple of guys there with bongos who got this multi-phasic rhythm going with the ping pong ball which had an absolutely mesmerizing effect.  You shoulda been there.’

     Both Buzz and Denny involuntarily drew their chins in at this unexpected display of knowledge.  They not only didn’t know what bongos were but they didn’t understand the word mesmerizing.  They let the latter pass.

page 1981.

     ‘What’s bongo?’  Buzz asked.  Apparently bongos hadn’t yet made their appearance in the Valley.

     ‘Bongo drums?  Well, they’re these two little drums attached to each other, one bigger, one smaller.  Sort of like upsided down tambourines that you play between your knees.’

     ‘Oh, bongo drums.  Why didn’t you say bongo drums I would have understood.  Just bongos I didn’t catch.  Heard anything from Jerry Kramer?’  Buzz asked referring to Dewey’s projected replacement in the eating club.

    ‘Jerry Kramer?  At West Point?  Me?  No.  Why would I have heard from him, we weren’t even friends.’

     Buzz was just trying to hurt Dewey because of Dewey’s knowledge of stereo  thwarting the intent of Buzz had been received like a slap in the face.  Buzz was relying on private knowledge about Kramer between he and Denny to return the slap.

     After the last question things lapsed into a prolonged embarrassed silence.  They all stood staring at Dewey with him staring back at them.

     ‘I’d probably better go Buzz.  Leave you and your lovely wife, sofa and combination TV/stereo to your Christmas.  All this stuff didn’t leave room for a Christmas tree I guess.   Good luck with the will and take care of that genuine simulated walnut finish.  Bye Melanie.  you want to drive me back, Denny?’

     ‘No. You go on ahead.  Carol and I have something to talk over with Buzz and Mel.’

page 1892.

     ‘You making me walk home alone?’

     ‘There’s the phone.  You can call a cab.’

     ‘I’ll walk.’  Dewey said with a glower.  ‘See you guys around.’

     The closest he came to seeing any of them again was when Denny and Carol drove slowly by him as he walked back to Grandma’s house in the ocld.  Denny politely tooted the horn in acknowledgment as he passed.

     Mel Larsen’s will was opened and read.  The good news was that he had left the business to Buzz.  The bad news was that he also left it to four other employees.  He had made each the same promise enjoining each to secrecy.  Strangely none of the five suspected the outcome.

     Mel’s profit divided five ways was a nice addition to their income but hardly enough for Buzz to have it made at twenty.  Besides that, as  businesses can’t be run by five equal partners, somebody had to be in charge.  After a year of constant bickering the store burned down in the middle of the night.  The insurance was split five ways.  Now without a job Buzz received his share bitterly.

     The year since the reading of the will had been a humiliating one for Buzz now left without a means of support.  He was devastated.  He did feel that he had been put upon by Mel Larsen.

     Buzz sat and drank and brooded for a month then divorced his lovely wife Mel for no other reason than that her name reminded him of Larsen.  He had to gag every time he used his wife’s name.

page 1983.

     Shortly thereafter the house he was living in burned to the ground along with Buzz’s sofa, combination TV/Stereo and the genuine Renoir reproduction that hung above it.

     Then Buzz packed his sorrows in his old kit bag and moved far far away.

     For Dewey as he walked back it seemed that he could hear doors being slammed behind him all over town.

That Sad Old Wintry Feeling

     Baffled by the cold treatment by guys he thought of as his best friends Dewey stepped out the next morning to take what he knew would be his last stroll around town.  The only door that still seemed to be open was the exit.

     As happens when the subconscious takes control Dewey’s steps led him to the corner where Susan Doughty lived.  In the manner of the subconscious it blocks out all detail irrelevant to its needs.  Dewey was unaware of where he was standing so he was suprised when a voice behind him said:  ‘I turned you in.’

     Dewey turned to look into the eyes of Susan Doughty.  He was astonished that she wasn’t wearing a coat.  Unaware of where he was he didn’t realize she had just stepped out her front door.  Had he any consciousness at all he might have looked up to see the Spider Woman watching him from the dining room window.

     It had been a little over a year since he had seen Susan on his leave of the summer of ’57.  Life had been so densely packed with adventure since that time that he had forgotten that she had been back.  Or, rather, he had been so distanced that he hadn’t had time to think about it.  As he had digested nothing of the time he had only disjointed and isolated memories of it.

page 1894.

     He remembered how she had invited him to that party and gotten him drunk.  In his resentment his reaction to her was very, very cold.  She didn’t notice as she felt no warmth toward him.

     She, on the other hand, remembered the last time they had seen each other on the porch after returning from the swimming party in the Bay.  She thought he had been rude but he had only shown more backbone than either she or her mother had expected.

     ‘I turned you in.’  She repeated.

     ‘Turned me in for what, Susan?’

     ‘For those rapes.’

     Dewey looked at her closely.  He was mystified.

     ‘What rapes are you talking about Susan?  You aren’t saying I raped you, are you?’  He said inquisitively, searching hopefully for some attempt at humor.

     In fact, she did think he had raped her.  When he had walked off the porch in disgust his rejection of her in her mind had been translated to rape.  She had mentally converted his reaction into images of rape.  Subconsciously she knew he hadn’t touched her, but she wanted him punished for outraging her sensibilities anyway.

     ‘There was a guy reported in the newspaper who brutally raped four innocent girls in a row six months ago then disappeared.  I know it was you.  So I turned you in.’

page 1986.

     ‘But, Susan, I wasn’t even in town six months ago.  I was in San Deigo.’

     ‘Doesn’t matter.  I don’t know how you did it but it was the kind of thing you would do to innocent girls like me.’

     Dewey looked Susan in the eyes.  He wondered how he could ever have had a crush on her.  Memories are always synthetic.  The synthesis always supports one’s own point of view.  The fact that Dewey considered himself OK was irrelevant, in her own way she was right.

      He had shown a great deal more interest in Susan than she had for him.  An impartial observor would have testified that in his ardor Dewey had forced his attention on her.  He had been sixteen, she had been fourteen.  She had said no she didn’t want to see him.  She didn’t have the know how or impoliteness to drive him away.  So they had had a very cold unpleasant relationship.  She had grounds to claim that Dewey was her misfortune, still, he was the only boy who had ever seen worth in her.

     When she did turn Dewey away in the eleventh grade she had done so in such a brutal unfeeling way that Dewey had been crushed down below where the lilies grow.  Oh boy, did he remember that; even score, or least.  Since he was vaguely aware of how much she had always resented his attentions he bore her no grudge but he insisted on a clean break.  She had violated that condition by approaching him in the summer of ’57.  He no longer felt any obligation toward her.

page 1986.

      Life isn’t that clean.  She obviously couldn’t get him out of her mind.  Thus Dewey was unaware of how painful his presence had been to her for her to have converted his love for her into a series of rapes.

     ‘What did the police say, Susan?’

     ‘They said they thought it was impossible.’

     ‘I should think so.’

     Dewey wanted to say something cruel but all he could remember was the vision of loveliness that had appeared before his eyes on this very corner, indeed, this very spot, what? only four years previously?  Only four years in a world without time, a clock with no hands.  The vision must have taken place on another planet in a different universe, far away beyond the thick dark veil of space.  How could time have so little coherence?

     How could Dewey remember everything but none of it have any meaning to him.  Susan had existed but not in the flesh and blood.  To him she was like ‘Pinkie’ a portrait in a gallery lined with pictures on both sides stretching toward infinity.  Each picture had some relationship to his life but distant and drawn by others.  He could walk the gallery admiring the portraits and pictures relating intimate details that only he knew but they meant no more to him than that.

     There was no organic connection.  He was he and they were they.  He had lived each scene from the outside with no closer involvement than as a patron in the gallery.

page 1988.

     He sat down to Christmas dinner a stranger at the table.  Gone were the big family gatherings of past years.  Some were dead all had dispersed  the year he graduated.  He had been the glue that held them all together in some mysterious way.  His grandmother was no more than a cutout cardboard figure.  His half-brother ate silently beside him.  He finished a second piece of pumpkin pie, got up, put on his hat, grabbed his bag and walked out the door to the bus station for the return trip.  Neither his grandmother nor his brother said goodbye to him nor did he say goodbye to them.  He merely walked down the front steps and out of the picture.

     The last door slammed shut behind him.  As he boarded the big Grey Dog he rode away from a past of which the back cover of the book closed behind him.  He now knew no one.  His course was all his own.  His youth was fled.  The rump end was nine remaining months in the Navy before he could begin his new life.  Actually his new life had already begun.  All else was memory.

     Like Salvador Dali’s brilliant painting, The Persistence Of Memory, handless clocks melted across branches of leafless trees while the luxurious landscape he had known faded into a bleak desert punctuated by the decomposing corpses of old memories.

     In compensation Dewey created a fantasy of high school that would last for twenty-five years.  The more unpleasant realities took shape in his dreamlife where they formed a stable of nightmares that was also to last for twenty-five years.

     He looked back but the last buffalo had fallen on the plane of consciousness never to rise again.  The future lay ahead.  A future dominated by Dr. Queergenes whose story begins in Vol. IV of City On The Hill,

If they gave gold statuettes

for tears and regrets,

I’d be a legend

in

my

own

time.

-Don Gibson.

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

The Heart Of The Matter

Clip 14

by

R.E. Prindle

     Rather than being awakened to a grim reality Dewey slept soundly until Sunset.  Then, opening his eyes to Darkness while still exhausted he wove in and out of consciousness the night through until daylight brought the world back.  It wasn’t fun but it was unavoidable.

     He had to take three baths and shave twice before he felt clean.  He had no time to reflect on what had been a momentous experience for him.  Each segment of his trip was seared across his memory but the scars were too fresh for examination.  It would be very late in life before he made any attempt to understand.

     For now he was only interested in, as the saying goes, carpeing the diem.  Having finally ggotten back he wanted to get out and relive his past.  Unfortunately the past can only be relived on paper such as this.  His past in any real sense was gone forever.  He now learned that you can never go home again.  I forget who said it but they said:  The past is a foreign country.  They do things different there.  How true.  Not only do they do things differently there, like puppets they can be made to form any pose, assume any attitude, express any opinion and then change them completely when viewed from a different perspective.  The truth is hard to capture but whatever is captured is part of the truth.

     It was at this moment that Dewey, how shall I say, intuited the fact that the past was a sealed book.  What had happened had happened; what had been done was over.  It was all over; the fat lady had warbled.  He didn’t think about it; he didn’t understand it but he knew it.

page 1911

     Still worn out he sat around all day trying to think of where to begin.  As he thought it seemed that his last leave had all but severed his relations with anyone he had known.  He had walked out on Denny Demwitter, still he didn’t know who else to call.  Denny naturally was at work.  His mother said he would call back.

     Louis on return from school had stopped by Caterina to pick up the mail.  There was a letter from Red Hanrahan.  Dewey tore it open and fourteen dollars fell out.  The loan had been paid along with a sanctimonious note adving Dewey of the evil of charging interest.  Dewey pocketed the money throwing the sentiments in the trash.

     Denny returned his call that evening.  He advised Dewey that this was Christmas; he had a girl and their plans were set but he would see if he could include Dewey in something.

     That was that as far as Dewey was concerned.  Now he had to figure out what to do with his remaining days.

Social Dynamics

 

     He got up the next morning with a feeling of despair not knowing what to do.  Coming back for Christmas now seemed the least wise thing he could have done.  Feeling lackluster he decided to wander on down to Trinkow’s Drug to look over the pulps and magazines as in days of yore.

     The days of yore were just that.  The pulps had all but disappeared, a victim of the TV screen.  The number of interesting magazines was thinning fast too.  Since his mohter’s house was locked up he couldn’t even get his civilian clothes.  He was condemned to walking around in his sailor suit which displeased him greatly.

     As Dewey idly searched the magazines he was noted by John Dickman who also was standing around.  Dickman didn’t have a steady job.  He considered a steady job for fools only.  He didn’t want one.  He had been able to put his busybody proclivities to economic use which made his habits legitimate in his eyes.

     He earned an adequate amount of as an informant or sort of researcher cum private eye for a number of attorneys.  He could always immediately provide some background on nearly anyone in town while being able to come up with an in depth report within a matter hours.  When every you talked to him you were providing him with valuable information.

     Trueman knew who Dickman was from seeing him at Melville but he had never spoken to him during those three years.  He wouldn’t have recognized him now.  Dickman accosted Trueman:

     ‘How…uh…how do you know the Daggers.’  He asked carefully avoiding using Dewey’s name as he considered himself better than him.

     ‘How’s that?’  Dewey asked turning to meed him.

     ‘I asked how you know the Daggers.  That’s simple enough isn’t it?’  It was simple; it was also rude and vulgar but since Dickman considered himself above Trueman it was imperative to speak down to him.

page 1913.

     ‘Who are you and what are daggers?’

     ‘You remember me.’  Dickman said softening a little at the truculent tone of Trueman.  ‘John.  John Dickman.  I went to school with you.  Don’t be coy.  The Daggers from Bay City.  One of them was in here yesterday looking for you.’

     Now Dickman was giving out valuable information rather than receiving it which he was always loath to do.

     Dewey stared at Dickman hard.  He understood.  ‘Duelin’ Dalton Dagger was in here looking for me?’  He said, concealing his alarm.

     ‘Yes.  He seemed to know you very well.  He wanted to know where you lived.  I took him over to your parent’s place but you weren’t there.’

     ‘You…took…over…’  Dewey began and stopped.  He wondered how or why this guy he barely recognized knew where he lived and how he knew Dagger.  Dewey looked at him again in one intense but brief study then without answering turned and walked out.

     ‘Geez, what a busybody.’  He thought, flushed from a haunt where he had intended to stay for a couple hours.  Now secure in his mind that Dagger wouldn’t be able to find him Dewey still had the full day before him.  He decided to wander over to Melville to relive old memories.

Darktown Strutters Ball

     One says he decided to wander over but in fact Dewey was compelled to revisit the scene of his failed hopes and spoiled dreams.  He was drawn to this scene of ruined expectations.  His mind lowered istself into a half conscious, half subconscious state where his motivations were separated from his volition.

page 1914

     He loved this vale of regrets, this Herman Melville High School, but it was a love built on sadness.  The solidity of the old pile impressed him as he approached.  There was a sense of dignity in the old building so unlike the frivolous nature of modern construction.  The grandfathers had built it with the reverence due to a temple of learning.  Its traditions were the traditions of modesty yet with the merited pride of achievement.

     His familiarity with this temple of learning on Bercilak as entered was as fresh as the day he left it.  He had no idea what he was going to do as he entered but the old wounds ever fresh from his subconscious directed his steps to the second floor wing containing Mrs. Hicks’ classroom.

     His arrival coincided with the change of classes.  Just as he reached the second floor landing the bell rang releasing the charging streams of students.  There was a changed quality in their manner from his day.  Back then he remembered that they had strolled, emerging cockily and moving leisurely like young lords of the manor down the hall challenging anyone to do something about it.

     These students seemed to run from class scurrying down the hall as though in a mad dash for the safety of the next classroom.  This year’s Seniors had been sophomores the year he graduated so he might possibly know but few of them and none of the Juniors and Sophomores.  As luck would have it, sticking out like a sore thumb in his uniform, nearly everyone he did know saw him.

page 1915.

     Ange, his first sweetheart, turned to scuttle away so as not to be noticed.  Susan Doughty, her replacement, saw him from a distance and went the other way.

     His brother, Louis, spotted him, coming over to say a few words with shining eyes.  Dewey was troubled by rising subconscious motifs so he was not too communicative.  While they were bandying a few words Diane Dever came rushing up.

     Diane had had a crush on Dewey ever since he had delivered papers to her door in eleventh grade.  She had desperately tried to stay in touch when he left for the Navy.  Dewey had written to her during his first year but having no real affection for her he had discontinued writing when the Teufelsdreck went overseas.

     Besides he had been so beaten down by his enemies, so reviled and belittled that he couldn’t see how any girl could love him.  He didn’t feel he could hold his own against his fellows so he didn’t want to be humiliated in front of any girl he might love.

     From Diane’s behavior now her cruch seemed to be true love.  Her plans for Dewey had seemed realizable when he had been writing to her but then he had just stopped answering her letters.  Perhaps, she thought, it was something she said.  Perhaps she had been trying to impress him with her virtue too much.  As with many women who aren’t getting the attention they want she thought she could win Dewey with sex or perhaps in her desperate love she threw caution to the winds hoping to get his attention with promises.

page 1916.

     she rushed up excitedly overjoyed to see him.  The halls were thinning as she spotted him.  Melville had been all White when Dewey had attended but he noticed the presence of Black Boys in the crowds as they came out of the rooms.  Now he understood why the Whites had all seemed to be running to the safety of their next classroom as the Black Boys took up threatening positions in the middle of the halls, somewhat like hall monitors, to harass White stragglers.

     As Diane greeted Dewey she subconsciously straddled his leg rubber her vulva up and down.  She may have meant nothing but a mating call but she caught the Black Boys attention.  Nothing their looks Dewey quickly said he would call her, which he never did, but she was satisfied and scurried off in that scooting run now characteristic of White students.

     Louis gone, Dewey drift4d down the hallway toward Mrs. Hicks’ room with the intent of looking in.  HIs memories were conflicted further by the sight of the Black Boys eyeing him wonderingly.  Two years earlier and there would have been Whites leisurely jousting their way down the halls but now with two full minutes to go before classes only an occasional straggler came down the hall closely hugging the lockers along the side so as to get the greatest distance between them and the Black terrorists in the middle of the hall.  It was a form of respect the Black Boys could appreciate.

page 1917.

     Some half dozen Blacks were in Mrs. Hicks’ class which caused surges in Dewey’s mind that, while he couldn’t have explained them, would have been impossible to explain had he been fluent rather than inchoate.

     Ah, discrimination.

     None of these Black Boys had experienced the discrimination he had.  It made Dewey angry when people spoke of discrimination against Blacks when he had experienced worse and without the comfort of sympathetic fellows who felt as he did.

     As related in the Sonderman Constellation when Dewey had left Junior High Hirsh/Yisraeli had secretly enrolled him at Melville Trade School rather than Melville High so as to get him out of the sight of son and friends.

     When Dewey showed up at Melville for tenth grade he was told that there was no place for him, he should trot over to Trade School and assume the position.  Dewey had refused, sitting around the office for three days until Hirsh and the administration capitulated.  After all the Law required that all youths be given the opportunity for a high school education, Black or White.

     Next Dewey elected for college prep courses.  Hirsh and the administration refused, wanting to put him in the Business Curriculum.  They told him he wasn’t entitled for what he was asking.  He had to brush aside their objections that he would never be going to college.  How they knew what he might or might not do was anybody’s guess but as Dewey looked at these Black Boys in Mrs. Hicks class he smilingly wondered how many of them would be going to college except on an athletic scholarship in which intellectual abilities might be a liability.

page 1918.

     In a truly desperate attempt to intimidate him into taking the less prestigious business curriculum, while showing their hatred for him, he was assigned to Mrs. Hicks’ college prep class which contained Michael Hirsh as well as most of his friends.

     Evaline Hicks had been the instructor of the elite of the Valley since the late thirties when she arrived from State.  She had a spectacular aura of respectability about her as well as being a top notch scholar.  She epitomized all the Western Civilization hoped to be.

     When Dewey presented himself in her class the Hirshes as a body rose from their seats to force him back driving him back by main force out of the room into this veryhallway on the very spot he now stood where his subconscious steps had led him.  Then several girls from the Business English class across the hall came out like the sirens of Greek mythology to entice him with sexual promises, I did you not, into their classroom.  Whoever came up with the notion that girls were chaste in the fifties must never have been there.  Perhaps it is the same girls speaking now as mothers trying to impress their daughters with their former virtue.  It’s not like they weren’t wonderful just the same.

     Informed once again that he would never go to college he replied that he would and fought his way back into the classroom.  After Mrs. Hicks had restored order he was grudgingly allowed to take a seat.  How’s that for discrimination?

page 1919.

     None of the Black boys in Mrs. Hicks class would ever go to college but they were now given seats in her sacred grove on a silver platter that they could not apprecieate.  Dewey laughed to himself as he watched them wondering what a sailor was doing in school as these memories and comparisons surged around his subconscious.  Animosity and hatred glowed from their eyes as the last White straggler scurried past them protected y the presence of Dewey.

     The Whites had learned their lesson well and quickly.  A full thirty seconds before the bell rang there wasn’t a White fact to be seen in the halls.  Much different than when Dewey had attended Melville.

     A few Blacks had attended Melville the past year as clumps of Negroes breached the Eastern Defenses crossing over from the East Side into Carroltown Township, just North of the Valley, that fed into Melville.  Larger numbers had crossed after N-Day so now there were now two or three hundred Black students out of twenty-eight hundred.

     The Blacks were unwelcome across the River, just as Montagues would have been amongst Capulets.  Think social rather than racial.  The defense lines would be reformed forcing them back across the River to the East Side during the year.  They were told to stay on the East Side.  Melville would be White again the next year.  For a while.

     No one understood how the Black population grew so fast.  The flood of newcomers moving North from the South was an unrecognized fact.  The Valley News never tried to explain or acknowledge it.  They didn’t understand either.  the subject then as now was taboo.

page 1920

     Originally contained in the First Ward until the ward was literally bursting the Blacks were now spilling out into the adjoining wards on the way to taking over the Northeast and Central East Side.  The Whites were pushed South and further East reclaiming swampy lower ground where they were joined by the incoming White hillbillies hoping for the same unskilled factory jobs as the Blacks.

     Much has been made concerning the low scores of Blacks on the Scholastic Achievement and IQ tests but the scores were pre-ordained.  It should be noted that West Side White scores were also consistently higher than East Side White scores.  The tests were culturally weighted toward an upper class White standard.  West Side families were more likely to have magazines and books in their homes than the factory workers and Hillbillies of the East Side.  Melville also sent a much higher percentage of its students on to college than Valley High of which the West Side was very proud.

     The Blacks simply had not come into contact with the achievements of Western Civilization while actually despising them.  Mrs. Hicks class was a model of the problem of educating Blacks to White or Western Civilization standards.  Western Civ quite naturally excluded all things Black from discussion.  Education was a White world; Whites had made the world from the fifteenth century on.  Just a fact.  They now had to be made ashamed of their achievement ‘to redress the balance.’

page 1921.

     A surprising number of teachers at Melville had Masters degrees.  Mrs. Hicks not only had onee but she was only a few credits from obtaining her PhD.  As per the discussion between Dewey and Terry Gaste in the De Soto Mrs. Hicks was a serious scholar.

     She was not exactly a feminist or perhaps Feminists were not yet known by that name but she took her Sex seriously while also having lesbian tendencies.  She was well developed in all areas of English literature.  She was deep into Medieval studies.  Her accomplishments were such that it must be said that the West Side was repaid handsomely for whatever salary they gave her.

     She was in advance of her times by giving a slightly different course of instruction to the girls over the boys.  The girls were privately instructed in the Romance of Tristan and Isolde with its stress on platonic love.  Perhaps in our misguided coeducational fantasy it is necessary to somehow impart the duties, hopes and aspirations of each sex apart from the other.  Co-education may be a fantasy.  Anything would be better than the smutty environment we’ve created now.

     Now, as to the psychology of the Blacks.  You don’t have to read a lot of Black literature to find what is missing in Black education.  There are no references to White literature or history in Black literature.  From Richard Wright to Iceberg Slip you are given a picture of reality devoid of literary references.  Apparently Blacks don’t read White literature.  Their lack of interest in White matters is part of their inability to respond to White education.

page 1922.

     This is not a question of money.  Those Blacks who had grown up in theValley attending grammar schools, Junior Highs, and High Schools had as much money spent on them as White kids.  Black kids migrating from the South didn’t but there was no difference between these two Black groups in scholastic achievement.

     The problem was not one of money but culture.  In their daily lives the Black kids did not spend a lot of time reading anything.  They were all functionally illiterate.

      The layering of psychologies was such that Blacks had the burden of a couple layers of psychology than Whites.  Both groups had to deal with their personal psychologies.  They had to maintain their self-respect vis-a=vis their communities.

     That done the Whites faced integration into a White society in which they were more or less accepted and knew their way around.  The Blacks had to relate their personal and community psychologies to the structures of the alien White community, a community that traditionally had rejected and supressed them on every level.

     This led to the development of different possibilities and ultimately a completely separate and antagonistic culture.  What goes in Black Culture may be a crime by White laws.  Conversely what may be seen as a crime in Black eyes might not to White eyes.  There is a terrific conflict in standards.  Also irreconcilable.

     This is nowhere more evident than in the relation between the sexes.  The Pimp was a culture hero in the Black world.  In the White world he had no status.  In the Black he had money’; he knew how to shine.  Thus Black men tended to look on women as a means to wealth.  Nor was this different than their situation in Africa.  When they saw a woman they saw a potential prostitute or in their slang a hole or ho.  John Lennon of the Beatles was indeed very rude to ask how many holes it took to fill Albert Hall.  If you had a few holes in your stable you were set up.

page 1923.

     This attitude was reflected in their music, which is say, everyday psychology, in such songs as ‘Shake Your Moneymaker.’  If you don’t know what a ‘moneymaker’ is it’s that ‘thang’ between a woman’s legs; ‘Jimmy Mack’  is another name for a pimp.  Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee.  When Little Richard burst onto the scene screaming ‘Long Tall Sally sure likes to ball’ you may be sure that not one in a hundred White Folks knew that ‘to ball’ was not a verb meaning ‘to party’ but one meaning ‘to fuck.’  Thus Little Richard was screaming, if you’ve never heard Little Richard I mean he was actually screaming: Sally sure likes to fuck.  Probably for money.

     It didn’t take long for fast Whites to learn what that meant.  Now imagine a little five year old girl who had heard the song on the radio shaking that ‘thang’ as she shouts:  Long Tall Sally sure like to ball.  It happened, my friends, and her parents thought she was cute.  The cultural differences were immense.  Blacks and Whites used the same words but didn’t speak the same language.

     Now, imagine a corps of young Black pimps released into a White hen house where the girls had never even seen a prostitute, Black or White.  Consider that these girls had been raised on the ideals of virtue as contained in the Romance of Tristan and Isolde.  ‘Tight ass White girls’ as the Blacks would say.  It will be seen that their defenses agains Black ho recruiters were minimal unless the distance between the two cultures was maintained.  Instead they were told that there were no cultural differences between Blacks and Whites and that they were evil if they ‘discriminate’ against Black Boys.  In those days Black men ran Black stables of holes; today they are mixed.  Pimps aren’t nice to their holes either; read Iceberg Slim’s book ‘Pimp.’

     In those days the pimp was a Black culture hero, today the role is shared by White men acting Black.  In the year 2000 Hollywood produced an animated cartoon in which one character was a tow headed White seven year old pimp.  What was the cute little guy selling?  His sister or mother?  What a difference forty years makes.

     Then there was the racial warfare to take into accunt.  Except to the blind it was already evident on the playing fields of America.  Let’s face it.  Blacks had to be careful or they might be beaten without recourse.  Blacks attending Melville had to traverse the entire White West Side.  In those days students were not routinely bussed to school, although it was around the corner, only the rural students were.  Everyone else had to find their own way.  thus the Blacks had to walk across town or pay for the city bus.

     Whether they were set on or not the apprehension was real.  Blacks felt in physical danger at Melville which they countered with a pre-emptive terrorism of their own on the principle that a good offense is the best defense.

page 1925.

     Coming from the East Side which was economically inferior the Blacks had to traverse the whole of the West Side which was forbidden to them at all other times.  Dewey had grown up without ever seeing a Black face on the West side of the River and very few South or East of the First Ward.  While the physical appearance of the rest of the town wasn’t significantly different from the First Ward it contained all the mysterious wonders of the White world.  the true differences in life styles was heightened in the Black imagination.  There were White women in those houses.

     These supposed splendors were also joys and delights that were seemingly forever denied to them and that on the unfair basis of color, as opposed to what?  Social caste?  Weren’t they treated as dogs.  Dogs.

     The arrogant Urban Aristocracy was either cruel or inexplicably unaware of the consequences of their actions.  Weren’t they after all educated people?  They treated their orphans worse than they treated the Blacks.  When Dewey was in the orphanage the children would occasionally be taken to the home of some well-to-do ‘benefactor’ for lunch.   There they saw all the things money could buy including the luxurious mansion and acreage.  When they were taken back to the orphanage the house mothers carefully explained to them that they would never be allowed to enter such a desirable life style.  Such was only for their ‘betters’ and betters was heavily emphasized.  Orphans too were ‘niggers’ who were to be forever denied.  What is discrimination?

1926.

     The effect on Blacks was much the same.  If it wasn’t said it was understood that they would never be allowed to live int he same style much less among the Whites.  If you don’t think Blacks and orphans experienced some bitterness, you’re mistaken.  The big difference and this caused Dewey some bitterness too was that the racial lines allowed Blacks security as a group while the orphans were isolated individuals within the White society without support.

     Still the orphans were not cut off from education by color discrimination, just discrimination.  Once the Blacks entered the classrooms their minds had never been prepared to digest the material presented to them while they believed it was impossible for them to participate as social equals.

     White minds had been prepared in varying degrees to ingest and digest the material while at the same time they knew or hoped they could apply apply the material by assuming places of stature in society where the information would be useful.  Class lines couldn’t stop the demand for educated workers in an expanding economy.

     At least for some of the Whites.  The Whites had already been divided into three classes.  Those Whites destined to be useful to the Urban Aristocracy by making things for them had been separated out and sent to Herman Melville Trade.

     Those not destined for the manual trades and been organzied in the Business Curriculum which was inferior to the elite of the College Prep Curriculum in which those destined for success were enrolled.  The elite of the College Prep was assigned to the most prestigious English teacher, Mrs. Hicks.

page 1927.

     The second division of the elite went to the class of Miss Mattie Crump.  Miss Crump was an adequate teacher but she had none of the flair and imagination of Mrs. Hicks.  Evaline Hicks, by the way, had never been married.  The Mrs. was as honorary a title as a Kentucky Colonel.

     Once in Mrs. Hicks’ class you were usually there for the three years of high school.  Dewey had braved his way into Mrs. Hicks’ tenth grade class; Hirsh in a rage had him exiled to Miss Crump’s class in the eleventh grade.

     Dewey had immediately recognized the difference in quality.  He had appealed to Mrs. Hicks to be transferred back to her class but she was either unable or unwilling to do so.  She promised to take him back in twelfth grade which word she honored much to Hirsh’s chagrin.

     Thus while Dewey fully appreciated Mrs. Hicks’ skills he had been discriminated against, kept from her class in the eleventh grade  by prejudice.  Now these Black Boys who completely negated the talents of the teacher, who were unable to appreciate what she could have done for them where given preferential treatment over the likes of the White Deweys.  The sailor could only sneer at the Whites and laugh at the Blacks.

     So the Urban Aristocracy treated the Blacks as a unit the same as they treated the Jews as a unit.  the two ‘minorities’ were given defferential and preferential treatment outside and independent of the class distinctions of the Whites.  Every Black and every Jew who was willing and able could have a shot at the Golden Ring as adjuncts of the White elite while two thirds of the Whites were placed beneath Negroes and Jews and the lower half of that over at Herman Melville Trade being taught to be useful servants.

page 1928

         The Jews knew what to do with their boon while the Blacks would take decades to make any progress at all and that was given to them on a silver platter hand fed with a silver spoon.  For now these angry Black kids were incapable of competing with the Whites except on a physical basis.  Hence they emphasized the physical.

      Now came the great change in so-called American education.  The shift was from education to inculcation.  As the Blacks couldn’t increase their abilities fast enough the Whites had to be brought down to their level in the interests of  ‘equality.’

     The notion of education as a bringing forth as explained by Terry Gaste had to be discarded.  Mrs. Hicks having a classical education naturally taught the same.  Learning don’t come easy.  Doesn’t matter whether you’re Black or White learing is work.  She had set herself the task of drawing fortth her students step by step so that they could decipher for themselves what had previously been undecipherable.  After all the learning process is a continual pushing to enlarge the envelope.

     In Dewey’s time, as before his time and after for a while, Whites had to struggle through the Greek ;myths, the Song of Roland and excerpts from Mallory’s Morte d’ Arthur in the fifteenth century dialect.  Talk about stretching your mind; it hurt.  There were many Whites, even then, who objected to learning the antiquated language.

page 1929.

     In the intellectual climate of the times the only relevance of the Greek myths was as didactic pretty stories used as figures of reference in literature.  Showed you were educated if you knew a bunch.  Thus it helped to know who Apollo was to understand what was meant when some guy other than yourself was being described as a real Apollo.  It always seemed to be the other guy, too.  There was nothing too intellectually challenging there, just some memory work.

     Roland and Arthur while being more linguistically demanding were still in the realm of  fairy tale therefore not really challenging except for the language.  By the time you got to Shakespeare, that’s where your heartaches began.  The Whites had to study and think to have their intelligence drawn out while the Blacks just shined it on.  Fuck it.

     This transition from Ghetto to Melville was more than a few miles; it was the transition from the limitations of the Negro dialect to the full glories of the modern English language.  The two peoples were nearly speaking two languages.  The Whites used English the Blacks had never heard while the Blacks used words and phrases like ‘to ball’ that had no or different meanings to Whites.

     Besides the very word ‘English’ stuck in the Black craw.  The Blacks hated the English by which they meant their old owners.  If you have listened to Harry Belafonte on his Carnegie Hall LP you will get a very genteel feel for the hatred and anger the Blacks have against the ‘English.’

1930.

     The transition from Black Culture to White Culture was difficult to impossible for the Blacks which none of the Urban Aristocracy educator took into account.  The Blacks were now asked to deal with a despised twice or thrice removed foreign English Culture as an ideal expressed in terms five hundred years old or more.  I mean, for Whites a gloosary is real hand if not essential to understanding Shakespeare.

     Imagine Black or teen Whites presented with these examples of the Bard’s artistry:

…the Sun ariseth in his majesty;

Who doth the world so gloriously behold

That cedar tops and hill seem burnish’d gold.

Venus salutes him with this fair good morrow:

‘O thou dear god and patron of all light,

From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow

The beauteous influence that makes his bright…

or

The senat house of planets all did sit,

To knit in her their best perfection.

or

Be Mercury, set feathers to they heels,

And fly like thought from them to me again.

     Kind of makes you wish you’d paid better attention to those Greek myths, eh?

     The strangeness of the the Shakespearian idiom compared to the Black idiom infuriated Black Folk.  The polite disdain of Harry Belafonte was joined by the rage of the Southern Negro Preacher, Jesse Jackson.

page 1931.

     The Blacks sat in the class dumbly, angry at the Whites who seemed to hand the material so easily although they were struggling to learn the material themselves.  Even Mrs. Hicks didn’t know  what ‘The senate house of the planets all did sit’ really meant.  She and Smyrna Gaste, Terry’s mother, whould have had to have been friends for her to learn that.  Freedom on conscience has its limits.

     In retaliation for being made to feel really stupid the Blacks disrupted the class.  ‘Charlie Brown, he’s a clown’ as one popular song put it.

      Mrs. Hicks’ favorite book for tenth graders was George Eliot’s ‘Silas Marner.’  How much George Eliot’s being a woman writing under a man’s name influenced her decision can never be known but it seems that there is a concealed feminism there.  The idea of George being a woman created a minor sensation in Dewey’ class.

     She lost half of Dewey’s elite alla White class with old Silas while half of the half hacked their way through Eliot’s choppy jumpy class conscious style.  The last quarter of the class claimed to enjoy the book.  The phone country dialect was a real treat as Eliot subdivided class from class to arrive at the bottom of the social structure which was, however, above that of the Blacks.  Even Thomas Hardy was exasperated by her style while Anthony Trollope thought there was little chance of Eliot’s books surviving time.  You never can tell.  No one was ever assigned a Trollope novel to read even though he is far superior to Eliot.

page 1932.

     Two years after Dewey there wasn’t a Black guy in class that even cracked a book.  They just sat seething and getting angrier and angrier while feeling more inferior each session.

     Harry Belafonte’s mild rejection would burst forth in an angrier denunciation a few years later when the volitilce Jesse Jackson, successor to Martin Luther King, Junior stood up at Stanford University and shrieked in that emotional Southern Black churchy manner:  “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civilization has got to go.”  Niftly little phrase maker he; he wanted to throw out the baby and the bath at the same time.

     Strangely enough in that bastion of the Urban Aristocracy’s elite his White listeners agreed with him.  Mencken was right after all.  they chucked the likes of Shakespeare and George Eliot out the window embracing the semi-literate, half educated Black psychologist from Martinique, Frantz Fanon.  Fanon was passed off as ‘French.’

     But by then the ‘e-ducere’ was a thing of the past as educators pounded all kinds of  inferior literature from William Golding’s puerile ‘Lord Of The Flies’ to Chaim Potok’s racist ‘The Chosen’ into the heads of  their charges.  The idea was no longer to educated students but to inculcate them with the prevailing prejudices.  Theprocess was much the same as the conditioning given the Jews over the Haman shriek.  You either responded correctly to cue words or you were excommunicated from the flock, kicked out of school and denied employment that might lead to influence.  THEY called you a bigot.

page 1933.

     The Whites had so lost the ability of intellectual discrimination that they embraced the ephemeral fruit of Fanon’s novel ‘The Wretched Of The Earth’ as though it were the Holy Bible.  Once can understand a Black Panther like Huey Newton walking around with the book in his pack pocket but required reading for the Urban Aristocracy at Stanford?

     Made to feel inferior in the classroom the Blacks turned to aggression in the halls; and what agression.  Rapes and beatings escalated the level of violence to unheard of proportions.  Even in the post-Blackboard Jungle days when White Boys attempted the same things the crimes were not allowed to become institutionalized.  The administration had moved to break up the White gangs.  The Black gangs were immune because of their race.  The administrators sat quietly in their offices with their hands folded; to discipline them would have been an insult to the Black race.  ADL, NAACP, they were all hoping to create an incident, get involved, make things happen.

     So the test scores just continued to drop.  The Blacks didn’t any smarter; the Whites just dumbed down.  The Blacks got bolder; the Whites put more time into evasive measures than study.  Tricks were turned in the toilets.  Twenty years later the streets would be filled with ‘the homeless’ who didn’t even exist in 1958.

     Black influence functioned much as the influence of the barbarian Germans functioned in ancient Rome.  The Germans flooded in surveying Roman marvels that they had no ability to understand.  The difference in capabilities was such and so insurmountable that the Germans just destroyed rather than trying to emulate.

page 1934.

     So with the Blacks.  Just as they felt they were being defaced they defaced the physical plant at Melville.  Nearly pristine after forty years of use by Whites things began to be chipped and broken just like at Black dominated new Valley High.  Unable to understand the English of the classroom the Blacks invented a script that was incomprehensible to Whites and scrawled it as grafittie over every blank surface.

     The Urban Aristocracy never did catch on and hasn’t to this day.  the notion of Blacks having a distinct psychology is just as foreign to them today as it was then.

     Just before the bell rang, the Whites, who learned the new guidelines quickly, had flet to class leaving Dewey and a file of Black Boys eyeing each other.  As Dewey looked down the line he reflected that each and every one of these children of supposed poverty were dressed better than he had ever been.  they wore expensive slacks and costly shirts.  Their belts were not ordinary leather.  they wore their clothes well too.  Unable to compete intellectually they could at least look better than their White counterparts, if anybody could look better in that shade of green pants.  Just as in the Navy, they looked sharp.

     Dewey was older and in uniform so they fidgeted restlessly unsure whether to harass him or not.  Finally their minds made up they began a show of power by strolling past him with one of their peculiar walks which are meant to show how cool they are.

page 1935.

     They hip hopped toward Mrs. Hicks’ door with a walk so leisurely that Dewey would have fallen over unable to balance himself at such a slow pace.  The entry was delayed by a full three mintues as they increased the volume of their noise as they pomped through the door with a contemptuous smirk at the Whites.

     Another full five minutes were taken to seat themselves.  Remember that photo of that cute little Black girl in the pink pinafore being escorted down the walk by those big White National Guardsmen in Little Rock a scant year previously?

     There was no establishment photographer around to catch this shot of her big Black Northern brothers.  Nor would such a photograph have been published.  The last ‘blood’ to enter stopped with his back to Mrs. Hicks.  Facing the class he coolly unzipped his fly spreading his trouser tops ostensibly to tuck in his shirt.  He was wearing no underwear.  Being sure to give the White girls a sight of his shaft he smirkingly zipped up then hip hopped to his seat.

     Willie had stuck it in the face of the White Folks just as his counterparts in professional baseball were doing every time they stepped to the plate.  Jackie Robinson in 1948 had been instructed to be humble, to endure whatever insults the Whites might give him.  Ten years later the table were turned.  Every Black player who stepped to the plate reached down to grab his root and shake it in the face of White America.  Back to their roots.

     White Americans sat respectfully and watched the Black ballplayers shake that thang.

page 1936.

     Not to be outdone in Mrs. Hicks’ class another North of the Ohio Emmett Till leaned over to a White girl, who was just as cute as that little Little Rock pink pinafore, saying loud enough to be overheard:  ‘Say, honey, you too beautiful to be walking around in those rags.  Let me teach you how to shake that thang, put that money maker to work.  Man, you go with me and you be walkin’ around in silks and furs.  Don’t give me no answer now, think about it.  Dig you later.’

     The White girl sat paralyzed not so much from fear as from being unable to respond properly for fear of being called prejudiced.  Black Boys and Girls tittered and giggled pleased at their unopposed success at putting a couple over on the White Folks.  Emmett Till laughed from his river bottom.

     The flower of Western Civilization sat grimly behind her desk watching the degradation.  All that wonderful education had come to this.  Another couple years and George Eliot would be chucked out in favor of that obscene parody of literature written by an arrested adolescent:  The Lord Of The Flies.

     Thus while not only disrupting the class the Blacks incited disrespect for discipline which the White Boys would quickly learn to imitate.  If it’s good for a black gander it’s good for a white one.  The standard of education disappeared as mere indoctrination replaced it.  Test scores sank and sank year after year.

      What did you think was going to happen?  There were other ways of handling the situation but the Urban Aristocracy wouldn’t hear of them.  Society would accept their point of view or else.

     You won’t read any of this in history books which are censored to eliminate it because to merely relate the truth is bigotry to these ‘democrats.’

     The memory of these momentous events to Dewey became a compressed pellet if information in his mind as he walked out the door indisgust, shame and fear for his people.  He knew what he knew but he couldn’t tell it.  Decompressing the pellet into its elements so he culd express what he understood would take decades.  Even then it was forbidden knowledge.

Detroit City Once Again

     When Dewey graduated form high school in the recession year of 1956 about half the men in his class went into the service.  of the other half about half toughed it out at home while the remaining quarter of the whole trekked off to college.  About half of Dewey’s eating club went to college.

     Among those was LeBaron Briscoe.  The University and State were the favored home State colleges.  The third most popular college in the State was Wayne State University in Detroit.  Detroit was in Wayne County.  No doubt it was named after Mad Anthony Wayne the famed Indian fighter.  An early day Custer if I remember correctly.

     LeBaron attended Wayne State with a Melville alumna by the name of Meggy Malone.  Meggy had been in a terrible car accident the week before finals which had broken most of the bones in her body.  she was laid up at Wayne State Hospital.  Several girls from the Valley were attending her around the clock.  People had seen Dewey enter town.  A news of sorts, the information was learned y Meggy’s attendants, from them to her as gossip.  For reasons to be explained she expressed a desire to see Dewey.

page 1938

     Meggy knew all the members of Dewey’s eating club quite well.  She was an especial friend of LeBaron Briscoe who had been in Dewey’s eating club.  LeBaron agreed to drive Dewey up to Detroit to see Meggy.  So a request was make to Denny Demwitter who called Dewey to inform him that he had found something for Dewey to do.  How would he like to drive up to Detroit with Briscoe?  Alright with Dewey.

     LeBaron Briscoe picked Dewey up at eight for the long drive to Detroit.  The drive was only a hundred miles but it took a lot longer to get there than it did between San Diego and LA.

     The morning was a frosty 10 degrees above zero.  LeBaron and Dewy had known each other well without ever becoming close friends or even real friends.  In a way the trip was a means of getting to know each other.  Dewey was discussing the changes to the Dixie Highway as the road to Detroit was called.  In Dewey’s day it had been a two lane road but was now four lanes; what they called a freeway in Michigan but the cars stopped to enter the highway rather than having on ramps and integrating themselves into traffic as in California.  Dewey was chatting about this to LeBaron’s uncomprehending ears when the highway before them to the extent of a mile appeared as a solid sheet of ice.

page 1939.

     Not being a driver Dewey was unaware of the extent of the danger.  LeBaron who did exercised what caution he could but he was on the ice before he could slow down; there was no longer a chance of applying the brakes.  Then in the middle of the sheet a strong wind gusted across the highway.  Fortunately the wind pressure was equal the length of the car so it didn’t spinout nor did they break traction but the car drifted eerily from the slow lane into the fast lane.  The lane was empty but then a fresh gust pushed the car out onto the divider toward the oncoming traffic.

     There was no barrier, the divider wasn’t even built up; the sheet of ice ws level into an adjoining field.  LeBaron was adept.  He kept the car headed forward which required great skill.  Dewey became a little panicked demanding that LeBaron pull back across the highway.  In his anxiety he came close to breaking LeBaron’s concentration.  The car continued to slide toward the oncoming traffice but then the gust died down allowing LeBaron to pilot the big sled back into a lane just as they reached the edge of the ice sheet.

     Dewey’s breath exploded outward in relief as the tires hit concrete.

     ‘What did you get so exicted for Dewey.  What did you think I could do?’  Lebaron asked.

     ‘Geez, Bare, I’m sorry.  I don’t know.  I don’t have a driver’s license and it never freezes in California so I mean, I’ve never been in anything like that before.  I’m glad you stayed so cool, kept your presence of mind.’

page 1940.

          When they got to Detroit LeBaron drove Dewey to a McDonald’s hamburber stand for lunch.  McDonald’s was brand new at the time; Dewey had never heard of it.  The sign said that only three million had been sold; that’s how new the chain was.  The first three million had been sold Without Dewey noticing a single one. 

      ‘Let’s stop and get a bag of burgers.’  LeBaron said.

     ‘Yeah, sure.’  Dewey replied wondering why LeBaron said a bag rather than ‘a’ or a couplc.

      They pulled into a rather grotty parking lot.  Dewey sat there waiting for the carhop.  Up to that time all drive ins had means of taking your order from the car.  They either had female carhops wearing funny demeaning sexual uniforms or a speaker phone on a pole like at drive in theaters.

     ‘C’mon, let’s go.’  Lebaron said.

     ‘Go where?  Where’s the speakers so we can order?’

     ‘We have to go up to the window to order, this is different.  Better.’

     ‘Not only better but more inconvenient too.’  Dewey quipped.

     The little dump was busy, long lines stretched back from the two windows into the cold.  There was no indoor seating just lines of people at the windows buying hamburgs.  The stand was pretty grungy looking too.

     ‘Two hamburgs and ries, mustand and onion only.’  Dewey ordered.

     ‘There isn’t no mustand and onion only; they come with everything.’

page 1941

     ‘Just hold the rest of everything and give me mustard and onions.’

     ‘If you don’t want to order just get out of line and let the other people up.’

     ‘They only come one way Dewey.  Just ask for burgers and fries.’

     This was the beginning of the American tradition of our way or the highway.  Dewey did order but he wasn’t happy.

     Back in the car Dewey opened his bag to take out two quarter dollar sized tidbits.

     ‘What are these, bite sized?’  Dewey asked puzzled.

     ‘You should have got a dozen like I did.  They’re small but they only cost fifteen cents.’

     ‘Yeah, well, so what?  It looks like ;you end up with a lot of bread and ‘everything’ but little beef.  Why don’t they make ’em for sixty cents and give you something to eat?’

     ‘McDonald’s is the coming thing, Dewey.  They’re going to have thousands of these everywhere in the country.’

     ‘Not if they don’t make their hamburgers bigger they won’t.’

     ‘Oh yes they will.  They’ve researched the market carefully and I’ve researched them carefully, McDonald’s is going to be big.  I’m buying stock as soon as it’s offered.’  LeBaron said with that gut wrenching tone that says you’ve made a momentous decision with life and death consequences.’

     ‘Stock?  You mean shares like on Wall Street.  You mean this dump is listed?’

page 1942.

     ‘It sure will be.  A thousand shares that’s what I’m buying.’

     ‘A thousand shares?  Look at this dump Bare.  You can’t even go inside.  This is just a stupid little hut that could blow away in the wind.  They don’t even sell anything but these stupid dinky little jerkburgers, fries and  Cokes.  Where’s that at?’

     ‘And milk shakes.  You’re missing the fine points, Dewey.  I’ve really studied this.  Look at the arches on either side of the building.

     ‘Yeah.  Bigger than the building.  Hot stuff.’

     ‘See, but at a distance the arches form an M for McDonald’s.’

     ‘Wow.  They still got dinky hamburgs.’

     ‘That’s the beauty of psychologically.’  LeBaron said with breathless fascination at the immensity of the idea of tiny hamburgers.  ‘You think you’re getting a lot for just a little money.  Promotion is more important than the product.  I’ve taken a few classes.’

     ‘I didn’t.’

     ‘You’re not representative of the sample, Dewey.  Take my word for it this is going to be big.  If you’ve got any money buy stock now.  You’ve got enough for a couple hundred shares don’t you?  That’s all it will take.’  LeBaron said throwing two tiny burgers into the hopper at once.

     ‘Well, if the price will be what you say I could buy a hundred, but jeez, Bare, look at this dump.  These things aren’t even going to be worth anything.’

page 1943.

     So much for Dewey as a financial prognosticator.  Had he bought he would have more than doubled his money by the time he got out of the service.  LeBaron did all right over the next forty years with his thousand shareds.

     ‘I appreciate your financial advice, Bare.  But you didn’t come up to Detroit just to show me this dump did you?’

     ‘No.  You know who’s in the hospital.  Margaret Malone.  We should drop over to see her.’

     ‘Who’s Margaret Ma…you don’t mean Meggy Malone do you?’  Dewey asked in horror.

     Dewey remembered  Meggy Malone from high school where he had despised him. constantly interfering with him.  Dewey didn’t remember her from kindergarten and second grade but she was on of the group of Michael Hirsh that had given him his central childhood fixation, nor did he know of the influence she had had onl his eating club.  Dewey thought she hated him but he didn’t understand why.

     ‘You know Meggy Malone, Bare?’  Dewey asked astonished.

     ‘Sure.  Margaret’s one of the most terrific people I’ve ever known.  If any of us are ever going to amount to anything she’s the one.’

     ‘Really?  I didn’t know that.  Did you know her in high school?’  Dewey asked who realized for the first time that there may have been a lot he didn’t know about his friends.

     ‘Oh yes.  Our families were very close.’

    ‘No kidding?  Well, you know, Bare, Meggy and I didn’t get along very well at all.  I don’t have any choice but to go with you but if I’d known you were going to see her I wouldn’t have come so when we get there I’ll just wait in the car.’

page 1944 

     LeBaron started the car with a smile heading in the direction of Wayne State.

     Dewey looked back at the arches to see whether they mad an M.  They did.

     ‘I still wouldn’t waste my money.’  He thought.

The Ballad Of Meggy Malone

     There is a school of thought that says there is no such thing as an accident.  As a categorical the notion must surely be false; however in the general psychological sense it must be true.  Nearly every ‘accident’ in my life could have been avoided by either forethought, conscientious attention to detail or awareness of  other people’s intent.  At anytime the subconscious take over you may be sure the action was directed.

     Had LeBaron not been intent on avoiding an accident, had he been the least bit suicidal, the ice slick might easlily have been the death of them both.  On another level even driving in those conditions was to ‘invite’ an accident.

     Meggy Malone would never have admitted that she had caused her accident to happen.  Caught in a miasma of depression her subconscious sought an accident in an attempt to avoid a painful reality.  To have taken that curve under freezing conditions at the speed she did was deliberate death seeking.  Her story varied until she got it right.  At first she said she absent mindedly took the turn at that speed but it all came out the same; she oped to crash and crash she did.  She headered into a metal light pole as she skidded off the road and rolled the car three times down the embankment.

page 1945.

     Thrown under the dash by the crash with enough force to crush several bones the successive rolls finished the job.  She had to be torched out of her near coffin to be rushed to Wayne State Hospital which was nearby the campus.

     It took several days to straighen out a number of multiple fractures while toward the end those which were already knitting had to be broken again.  Now with her conscious mind in control she felt ‘lucky’ to be alive.

     Psychologists would have described Meggy’s pre-accident state of mind as ‘complicated.’  The only thing complicated abut it was that the psychologists would have lacked all the pertinent details to evaluate it.

     Meggy wasn’t complicated at all.  She had simply been brought up to believe the world was her oyster and that she was the knife to crack it open.

     Her parents and their circle of friends were intellectual leaders in the Valley.  They thought highly of themselves while they all wanted their children to exceed them.  This would prove that excellence was not a personal achievement but a genetic superiority that placed them above their fellows.

     Unknown to Dewey, LeBaron and Meggy’s families had been very close.  LeBaron’s father was head of the Social Studies Department at Melville while Meggy’s father was recently elevated to Superintendent of Schools in the Valley.

page 1946.

     Financially inferior to the business types the families nevertheless enjoyed greater prestige.  Within this tight circle of very proud people Meggy’s parents had relentlessly developed the notion that Meggy was to be treated as the crown of creation presumably because her combination of genes was superior.  Within that restricted environment Meggy was equal to the task.  By the time she reached high school everyone within the elite deferred to her.

     Backed by her parents attainments she believed herself to be a superb intellect because of her genes and this treatment.  She wasn’t stupid but she wasn’t all that bright either.  Some more discriminating eyes would have noticed a few genetic deficiencies.  Still, she graduated with a 4.0.  The grade was nevertheless specious.  On more than one occasion Meggy had received a B or even once a C.  On each occasion she had indignantly stormed up to the teacher to demand that her grade be changed to an A on the basis that she was an A student, always received As and if she hadn’t this time there was something wrong with the teacher.  In each instance the teacher had changed the grade to an A.

     Dewey had watched her do this the first semester of tenth in Mrs. Hicks’ splendid English class.  Dewey had drawn a B which infuriated the Hirsh crowd.  He snickered as Meggy stormed about being an A student.  Meggy had fixed a hateful eye on him exclaiming:  ‘You aren’t even supposed to be in this class.  You Hillbilly.’

page 1947.

     There probably was some basis for her belief is his origins because a this time Dewey had a raucous vocal style in an attempt to gain attention.  Mrs. Hicks explained the importance of modulating his voice to him.  He always respected the teacher so he learned to speak in more even tones.

     Meggy in her way insisted that he had cheated in benefiting from Mrs. Hicks’ instruction.  She was even more unrelentling in her persection of him after that.

     Still, she did graduate with a 4.0 while being the cynosure of the class and hence the West Side.  She prepared to enter the wide world to repeat her success after graduation.

     A student of Meggy’s apparent stature should have selected the most prestigious University over Wayne State.  The subconscious knows what the conscious mind rejects.  Perhaps Meggy’s confidence had been undermined by one too many temper tantrums to obtain an A.  Perhaps subconsciously the fear of failure gnawed at her confidence.  Not that Meggy feared flunking our but in the big pond of the U she knew she could never be more than a small fish.

     She sensed that without the support of her circle things would not be so easy.  At any rate her worst fears had been realized in her first term.

     She didn’t draw a 4.0 nor could she intimidated anyone into changing here Bs and Cs into As.  She wasn’t the cynosure of the university nor was it possible for her or anyone else to be.  She also realized that after college if she did realize the fantasy of who she thought she was the effort would take years and years during which she would have to struggle as a non-entity.  Meggy was no Amazon warrior.

page 1948.

     As her Junior year began she experienced a continual sinking in her stomach, a swooning sensation in her head as her subconscious drove hom her fears.  A persistent depression sat in as she sought a way out.  Quitting was impossible as was flunking out.  An apparent suicide was disreputable.  An ‘accident’ was possible but it would have to be so serious that if she didn’t die an aborting of her ‘future’ was possible.  That way it wouldn’t be quitting, it wouldn’t be suicide and it wouldn’t be her fault.

     Thus Meggy lay in bed in hospital over Christmas having missed first term exams while she would be laid up long enough to be unable to finsh her Junior year on schedule.  Full recuperation could be stretched out to two years.  Meggy could return home to resume her life as cynosure without a sense of shame.

     Even attended by her coterie of maidens a la Isolde she felt low.  She needed to talk to someone beneath her to levitate her spirits.  when one of her maidens had scornfully told her that Dewey Trueman was in town she had a girl call her dear friend and admirer LeBaron Briscoe.

     LeBaron sincerely worshipped the ground on which Meggy trod.  He would do anything for her.  In her despaire at Wayne State he had counted on LeBaron for that unstinting admiration which he alone at the college could give.  Thus he pulled into the hospital parking lot with Dewey aboard.  What a coincidence that Dewey should return on leave just after Meggy had her accident.  Life is funny that way.  It couldn’t have been planned.

page 1949.

     Dewey had been nervous all the way from McDonald’s to Wayne State.  He couldn’t remember that Meggy had been on of Michael Hirsh’s friends who had trapped him in that semi-circle in second grade which had afflicted him with his central childhood fixation.  He didn’t know how Meggy had been trying to have him thrown out of his own eating club; in fact he had no specific memories of Meggy because he blocked all that unpleasantness out but like a dark shadow he knew she had been behind a lot of unpleasantness toward him.  He knew she hated him.

     ‘Listen Bare, you go on up alone.  I’ll just wait here in the car.’

     ‘Oh no,m Dewey, you’ve got to come up.  Margaret want to see you.’

     ‘Meggy Malone wants to see me?’  Dewey asked incredulously.  ‘How long has she been calling herself Margaret.’

     ‘Ever since we started at Wayne.  Come on, Dewey.  It’s the polite thing.’

     ‘That’s what you think.’  Dewey muttered under his breath.  Then:  ‘Bare, me and Meggy never got along.  She despises me; she called me a hillbilly in tenth grade.  She was always in my hair at Melville.  Always belittled me.  I can’t believe she wants to see me.’

     ‘Dewey, Meggy is the most wonderful girl I’ve ever met.’  By which LeBaron meant that it was an honor for Dewey to be despised by Meggy.  ‘I would ask her to marry me except she’s too good for me.  I only wish I was worthy of her.  You’ve got to come up; I promised her.  For the sake of the dinner club if nothing else.  Come on.’

page 1950.

     Dewey drew in his breath, compressed his lips and flipped the sun visor up and down a couple times.

     ‘She’d better be decent.’  He said getting out of the car.

      They do things so much differently in the big city.  The hospital was disguised to look like a spiffy new ranch style building even though four stories tall.  The upper floors were set back from the front line of the building giving it that neat clean construction that made Americans feel that they had solved all life’s more difficult problems.  That confidence is gone now.  Now buildings all have a fortress like quality.

     Meggy had a swell new private room.  If you had to be laid up this was the right place.  She was immobile on her back arms and legs in casts.  She was able to move nothing but her neck and head and she had to be careful about that.  Any other movements sent racking pains beyond the limits of the painkillers to kill.  She still had bruises and inner injuries.

     Meggy was secure in her prejudices.  She thought Dewey shared her opinion of him.  She thought he accepted the position of imploring inferior.  She though Dewey would consider it an honor that she had asked for him.  She had projected that feeling on her maidens who snickered playfully as Dewey entered, prepared to fun him a little.

     Dewey caught their mood flinging it back at them while he grasped Meggy’s projected understanding of their relationship with contempt.

page 1951.

     As LeBaron and Dewey entered the room Dewey gasped as LeBaron went down on his knee beside Meggy’s bed.

     ‘Please don’t shake the bed, Lee.’  She said sweetly at this sign of obeisance.

     She called him Lee.  In a flash Dewey realized that so did the rest of the guys in the eating club except when he was around.  Crushingly Dewey realized his own crowd had always treated him as an outsider.

     ‘Oh gosh, Margaret, I’m so sorry to see you this way.’

     ‘These things happen, Lee.’  She said magisterially.  Then looking at Dewey she asked regally as thought Isolde to her serf:  ‘How have you been, Dewey?’

     Dewey’s mental teeth ground as his stomach rolled over in revulsion.  How dare this woman who got grades by demanding them act superior to this ‘hillbilly.’

     ‘As good as can be, Meggy.’  He said between his teeth.

     ‘It was good of  you to answer my summons.’  She said with maternal condescension.

      Did she say ‘summons’?  Dewy thought as he watched her haughty mien seconded by the giggles of her maidens.  ‘Does she think I’m a peon?’

     ‘Well, uh, Lebaron had to come up to Detroit and he asked to come along so I did.’  Dewey replied sotto voce as thought twisting his hat in his hands.

     LeBaron was commiserating with Meggy’s condition when Dewey decided to ask for a point by point description of her accident.

page 1952.

     ‘Well, I was driving along just off campus when the accelerator got stuck.’

     ‘You mean that the gas pedal jammed down by itself somehow?’

     ‘Yes, if you wish to put it so crudely.  Then it continued to accelerate until the car was out of control.  The car was speeding when I went into the turn.  Then the car went out of control and it hit the lightpole.’

     ‘Then what happened?’

     ‘The force threw me off the seat under the dash which was painful enough but they told me it saved my live.  If I had remained in the seat or been thrown out of the car I would be dead.  I’m lucky I guess.’

     ‘The gas pedal stuck all by itself?  How come?  I’ve never heard of that before.’  Being ‘summoned’ plus the preposterousness of the story rankled Dewey.

     ‘I don’t know how it happened, it just did.  I don’t know that they have explained it yet.’

     Dewey’s plan cleared in his mind.  He had warned LeBaron of his relationship with Meggy while Meggy certainly knew before she ‘summoned’ him.  Dewey started cracking one liners.  Meggy tried to restrain herself but she finally had to start laughing.  Her laughter ground her broken bones together which sent her well past the threshhold of her painkillers.

     Dewey let it settle down.  Just as he was preparing a second barrage LeBaron caught Meggy’s eye signal suggesting they leave.

page 1953.

     ‘Come on, Dewey.’  LeBaron said deprecatingly taking his arm.

  Dewey was more than willing to leave while he had no intention of saying goodbye.  Meggy could have let it lie but as LeBaron and Dewey approached the door she said icily:  ‘It won’t be necessary for you to come back to see  me again, Dewey.’

     Between being summoned and dismissed Dewey found it more than he could bear.  His seething hatred caused by subconscious memories and the conscious memories of the demeaning manner Meggy had used toward hi  in school burst through with the vengeance felt by a Richard Speck.

     ‘Do you see this uniform I’m wearing, Meggy?’

     ‘Yes.’

     ‘Well, this uniform means I’m in the Navy.  If the Reds start shooting I’m there to protect even you.  I’ve got another three days of leave.  If you had any smarts you’d know it wasn’t necessary to say anything.  If I had nothing to do I would still have better things to do than visit you.  I don’t know why you ‘summoned’ me anyway because you never liked me.  I’m real sorry you got hurt so bad.  I hope you’re not crippled for life.  Goodbye Meggy.  I don’t think you’ll ever see me again because I’m not coming back to theValley when I get out and if I ever do I won’t look you up.’

     Meggy’s maidens gasped slapping the air at Dewey while LeBaron eyed him mournfully and reproachfully.

    ‘What did you think was going to happen LeBaron?  I told you she didn’t like me and I’d wait in the car.  Is that what you brought to Detroit for?  To answer Meggy’s summons?  then take me and show me where she had her accident.’

page 1954.

     Strangely LeBaron was only too willing to show Dewey this consecrated tragic spot.  He had sat gazing at it mournfully on a couple occasions.  As I said they do things on a different scale in the big cities.  In the Valley this stretch would have been merely functional but in Detroit at the great Wayne State University this avenue that led into the University was quite grand.  The roadbed was immense.  While ostensibly only four lanes generous aprons made it seem very large.  As Dewey suspected Meggy must have been driving at a suicidal speed, seventy or eight, to force the accident.  He didn’t believe the gas pedal story.

     This time he kept his mouth shut.  The two men had little to say to each other on the drive back.   They parted never to speak to each other again.

     Meggy was not so lucky.  Had she known the consequences of ‘summoning’ Dewey into her presence she would have shuddered at her folly for that summons became a pivotal point in life.  Perhaps she had been seeking to triumph over Dewey in the second grade at Emerson when in answer to Michael Hirsh’s and her set’s request she had taken part in Dewey humiliation.

     she had been proud to march out of class with the feeling she was part of a powerful group.  When she stood in the semi-circle around Dewey, second from Michael Hirsh to the left of his keystone glaring hatred at Dewey she had felt the power and the glory.  When at Michael’s command Dewey had begun his step forward and frozen in mid-step at Michael’s further command she had had a prepubescent climax.  When Dewey remained frozen in that position for the entire recess she had giggled and giggled with electric pulses at the joy of humiliating another.

page 1955.

     She little knew that the scene had been so humiliating that Dewey had blocked her and it out of his consciousness.  But the Shadow knows.  In her way she had sought to repeat the situation to alleviate her misery on his hospital bed.  the Shadow of the Past in Dewey’s mind had risen to crush her in her folly.  ‘Summons’ indeed.

     The mind is an amazing thing.  Acts of arrogance or vengeance have serious consequences for the perpetrators.  ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’, and ‘vengeance is mine, saith the Lord’ are excellent maxims.  Mind your own business.  The conscious mind thinks it can handle the situation in an objective manner but the subconscious mind knows that subjectivity controls the microcosm.

     Meggy’s accident was too fresh in her mind for her subconscious to have digested it.  When, three year later, her subconscious had constellated the incidents associated with the accident her encounter with Dewey had most unfortunate results.

     The contellation included bits and pieces ofher past only related circumstantially with the accident.  Her mind brought up guilt for the second grade induced by the pain caused by her summoning of Dewey.  It was too late.  Both situations constellated as the central motif of her accident.  One of guilt and one of fear.

page 1956

     Subconsciously Meggy had caused the accident in order to retreat from a most painful reality.  In typical female fashion she refused responsibility insisting that the accelerator stuck increasing ‘the car’s’ speed.  Her subconscious refusing to accept responsibility grasped for another explanation so it passed responsibility to Dewey Trueman.

     Now the female subconscious is XX.  As both chromosomes are X they must be clothed by females.  But the longing for the missing y chromosome is translated into a longing  for the male; particularly his penis or ego.

     Thus when the contellation was completed and took its final form in the dream life of Meggy Malone three years later she relived the terror of the accident in this way:  As she was driving a male demon’s foot came down on top of hers forcing the pedal to the floor.  As the ends of her broken bones clattered together causing her to relive the pain she hurtled toward a giant open mouth representing the maw of death.  Just before she entered the mouth snapped shut exposing concrete teeth.  Just before the crash she would awake screaming falling out of bed.

     She no longer recognized Dewey, of course, but the demon assumed the low class hillbilly characteristics she projected on him.  This dream was only the beginning, verse one of the Ballad Of Meggy Malone, as it were, as her interesting sequel will show in verse two, same as the first.

     Meggy went back to the Valley where for two years she recuperated.  The events of her accident constellated in her subconscious while consciously she brooded about how she was to realize the expectations of her childhood.  It wouldn’t be right to say that she didn’t want to marry but she just couldn’t find anyone who merited her favors.  Not only had her parents exalted her beyond human limits but the notions of chivalry and Tristan and Isolde she had picked up in Mrs. Hicks’ class made her yearn for a knight in shining armor who just didn’t exist.

pare 1957.

     During her convelescence from 1959 to 1961 the racial scene continued to heat up.  Meggy was always on the right side.  Now that the right side had clearly shifted in favor of Blacks Meggy was wholeheartedly in sympathy with the Negro plight.  She didn’t bother to learn anything about the distince Black psychology, the existence of which she would have denied, but she knew what was right.

     Her new attitude required a revisdion of her past history and beliefs but that was done without effort on the plane of consciousness.  She simply turned the past inside out.  Whereas Dewey had been punished in second grade for interfering with his group’s social policy toward Negroes in kindergarten she merely changed so that Dewey was justly punished for having discriminated against the Black kids that year.  The solution was simple and neat nor would she have been able to be budged from her new story; it was set in concrete.

     Having absolved herself from her part she turned to her future.  She needed a job but the employment, as she referred to it, would have to increase her dignity while allowing her to help ‘the poor Black people.’  It also had to carry its own prestige to elevate Meggy from her depressed conditions.

page 1958.

     The years of inactivity had benefited Meggy’s appearance rather than hurt it.  She gained weight but she gained it the right way.  From a rather spindly girl she became a solid square built woman whose appearance alone commanded respect.  As her face filled out her homeliness rounded into a kind of beauty.  Her weight was evenly distributed on her torse; square shoulders and nicely rounded hips.  Even her skinny legs added the weight right.

     Having a tasteful conservative notion of dress her clothes and manner as she looked in the mirror just before leaving to apply for the job gave her a pleasant surprise.  This was the Meggy who always should have been.

     She had settled on the Law courts as the scene fromw hich she would do good in the world.  She didn’t want to become a legal secretary to an attorney because an attorney to her was a mere moneygrubber.  She decided to become a secretary and legal aide to a judge.  There, withher ability to project soldity and integrity, she was accepted at her own valuation eventually assuming an almost judgelike preeminence.

     She was attached to the court of a newly elected judge by the name of Guy Pascal who was beginning what was a long and seemingly illustrious career.  This appointment was not to be entirely fortuitous for either party.

     Judge Pascal had been born Guido Pasquale.  As this sounded too Sicilian for him he dropped the final E and changing the QU for a C while shortening Guido to Guy he became ‘Americanized.’  Guido Pasquale when he left for the U, he returned as Guy Pascal.

page 1959.

     Guido Pasquale was the son of Giangiacomo ‘Jack’ Pasquale.  For those of you who have read Vol. I of the City On the hIll Jack Pasquale was the man Dewey had seen harassed for being an immigrant on a street corner in 1947.  One of the boys harassing Jack had been Dennis Malone who was Meggy’s older brother.

      The past has a way of rearing its head.  Jack Pasquale was not a forgiving man.  Vengeance was part of the way of life to the Sicilian.  Jack memorized the name of each of the boys who had harassed him vowing eternal hatred.  He damn well meant it, too.

      As the leader of a large family Jack inculcated his hatred into this numerous progeny.  Now some twelve years later Guido had insinuated himself into a position to take vengeance no only on the Anglos as a whole but on the Malone family in the person of Meggy.  He would.  It would cost him his position and reputation but he would do it.  One should always understand vengeance belongs to the Lord; let him have it.

     Now when it come to ‘discrimination’ the notion only applies to Anglos.  It is forbidden to Anglos to use terms like Wops and Micks but it is not forbidden for ‘minorities’ to have such feelings and use such terms.  The Italians indulge themselves.  Read the literature.  The Italians really like fast Mick and Polack girls.  If you’ve seen some of those Italian mamas you can understand why Italian men may marry them but they don’t want to sleep with them.  Guy sought to make Meggyhis mistress from the start which in itself would be vengeance on the Malone clan.  He soon found out she wasn’t fast but was morally stout as a brick wall.  She rebuffed him with all the dignity of a medieval queen to an upstart admirer.  Guy was put in his place where he was to stay for the duration.  However he vowed that if she ever gave it to another man she was going to get it from him one way or another.

page 1960

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

The Heart Of The Matter

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 13

     Now, Leda gave birth to two eggs.  The other egg contained the female twins, Clytemnestra and Helen, she of Troy.  Thus the two women represent Spring and Autumn, or the Equinoxes, while the males  represent Winter and Summer or the Solstices.  Helen, of course, is Spring the ever beautiful while Clytemnestra is the hag at the end of the year.

     These four  divisions were obvious facts.  The cross in the circle represents the four turning points of the year. The problem was to know exactly where you were in the year so you could regulate farming or take advantage of the migrations of animals.

     The answer is really quite simple. All you need to do is establish a starting point and begin counting. Of course, you have to learn to count first.  The easiest point is to determine the shortest day of the year on December 21st.  Once you have determined that then all you have to do is count the days till it returns.  So, except for the puzzling phenomenon of Leap Year you know exactly how long the year is and where each day will fall.  So mankind had located itself in relation to a complete cycle of days.  Yes, there were competing systems. 

     I believe that the Atlanteans discovered the principle of the solar year over one hundred thousand years ago.  It is also impossible that language for transmission of the idea should have been very advanced that long ago.

     The next question is how do you retain the knowledge or, in other words, pass the information from generation to generation when language is so primitive.  First you need a group of scholars or priests whose function is to keep the archives.  They pass the information on as a story in pictographs.  Hence the story of the year was created; it was entitled the Zodiac, at least by the Greeks, the ancient title or titles we cannot know.

page 1861.

     But we do know that the story had been fully developed for tens of thousands of years simply because the celestial Zodiac which must have developed after the terrestrial was established when the disruption in civilization occurred during the Age of Leo as is proven by the Egyptian and Mesopotamian evidence as well as the modern scientific evidence of the ending of the ice age.  All at the same time.

     The Greek Zodiac divides the signs into quarters of three related signs as well as symbols outside of, but related to, the Zodiac such as Castor and Polydeukes and the Hydra.

     The Dioscuri represented each half of the solar year while the twin girls represented the Equinoxes.  We will disregard the Equinoxes.  The two most important signs of the Zodiac are hence Sagittarius and Cancer.  Each sign concerns itself with a solstice or turning of the year.

     Sagittarius the Archer of December twenty-first is shooting an arrow.  It is not obvious where the target is but it must be the heel of Cancer in the person of Polydeukes the Sun King, who begins his boxing exploits on June twenty-first.  The arrow is as fleet as the horses of which Castor is the master.

     The next sign, Capricorn, represents the return of hope as the waters of northern rivers begin their rise.  In the Olympian Zodiac Capricorn is ruled by Hestia, the goddess of the hearth as families cluster around the central fires for warmth.

page 1862.

     Half goat, half fish the meaning is probably that the goat represents life as he is often seen in Mesopotamian mythology nibbling the leaves of the tree of life.  The fish no doubt represents the repletion of the finny denizens which provide a food supplement through the lean months.

     After Capricorn Aquarius the water bearer brings back the purifying and fructifying waters of life that irrigate the fields preparing them for virgin growth.  Thus it is that Hera can be matron and virgin at the same time.Thus Mary bears Jesus in virgin birth.  In the Olympian Zodiac Aquarius is ruled by the Earth goddess Hera.

     The water bearer is thought by many to be Ganymede the cupbearer of Zeus.  Why Ganymede isn’t clear.  Other than the most peautiful youth on Earth who so appealed to Zeus that he was  translated to Heaven on the wings of an eagle, as the sign is ruled by the Earth goddess Hera it would make sense to associate him with Attis, Adonis or any other of the Great Mother’s annual consorts.  Ganymede’s ascension is associated with Troy.  That war was fought between the Matriarchal and Patriarchal points of view.  Aphrodite, as Great Mother, was the patroness of the Trojans so with the defeat of the Matriarchy at Troy the Eternal Youth may have been abducted into the Patriarchal scheme to emasculate the Matriarchy, so to speak.   Without a male consort the Great Goddess must wither away.

     At any rate Ganymede is obviusly fertilizing the Great Mother for another annual cycle.

     Next Pisces reprented by twin fish swimming in opposite directions, male and female represents the fecundity of the coming Spring season.  The symbolism of the Male and Female going in opposite directions but still connected may represent the fact that while men and women are very different they are still phyiologically connected.  Christian mythology should be considered seriously in this context as Pisces is the sixth ‘king’ since the deluge.

page 1863.

     Aries the Ram butts the budding plants from the ground.  First growth seems very slow so it needs encouragement.  Another Greek image is that of Persephone rising from the underworld while gods with hammers and tongs crack away the crusted earth to bring her forth.

     Taurus who is ruled by Aphrodite in the Olympian Zodiac is nearly as self-explanatory as Leo.  The Great Mother and her greatest consort, the immense raging bull.  Having been released by Aries the crops burst forth with wild energy.  Compare the lusty look of the Rose as it shoots.

     Gemini, the next sign which includes the end of May and the first two thirds of June, is a very orderly sign.  Placed after the wild excesses of Aries and Taurus it is followed by the torrid destructive signs of Cancer and Leo.  Gemini is appropriately governed by Apollo whose mottoes are:  Everything in measure and Nothing in excess.

     Castor and Polydeukes reappear as the twins or Dioscouri passing the year from one of dearth to one of plenty.

     Cancer, which follows, is one of the two important axes of the year.  The Unconquerable Sun reaches the apex of its power on the first day of Cancer but then begins its slow decline.  the mythology of Cancer the Crab is especially rich.

     The arrow shot by Castor or Sagittarius now comes to Earth lodging in the heel of the valiant Sun King, Polydeukes.

     In the earlier traditions in all probability the Sun King was not able to cut off the immortal head of the Hydra.  The Greeks in mortal combat with the Matriarchy implausibly have Heracles, who they substitute for the Sun King, succeed in killing the immortal head of the Hydra.

     The Greeks added a lot of complications to the story but I will attempt to eliminate them with Heracles only in his role as the Sun King.

     The Hydra, which dwelt in the Lernean swamps near Argos in Greec, was a monster with seven heads.  Six were mortal while the seventh was immortal.  The battle had to be fought anew each year.  Heracles, in legend, was said to have killed the immortal head of the Hydra but this is not borne out by the subsequent history of the world nor, indeed, was it possible.

     The six mortal heads are quite obviously the six months between the two solstices which the Sun King destroys one by one until he victoriously passes the torch to Castor on December 21st.

     Like the axis of the Unconquerable Sun in the December position the seventh head of the Hydra represents the opposite axis of the solar year and cannot be destroyed.  Indeed, no sooner does the Sun King cut off the mortal heads than the Hydra grows six more.

page 1865.

     The meaning of the Crab isn’t entirely clear but the Crab is thought to walk backwards or sideways which it does.  Thus by seizing the Sun King by the heel it drags him slowly back into the swamp causing the days to shorten.  Probably it was felt necessary to cause  the Sun King to be drawn back as he destroyed the six monthly heads.

     Thus Sagittarius and Cancer fully explain the two halves of the year.

     The sign of Leo is self-explanatory.  The raging lionof the heat of mid-summer lays waste the fields returning them to their virgin condition.

     Hence Leo is followed by Virgo the Virgin to lie fallow until Aquarius reimpregnates the Earth.  The myth was told of Hera that she knew of a secret spring in which she bathed once a year to restore her virginity.  This is another way of saying that the Earth is renewed each year by the Spring rains.  Virgo and Aquarius are the meaning of the myth.   The Virgin Mary is probably associated with the myth also.

     Libra bearing the scales of justice marks the fall equinox when the seasons tip from the third quarter into the fourth quarter.  She is the balance between the two halves of the second half of the year.

     Scorpio is not clear to me except that scoprions get into the sandal and bite the heel.  The heel is a convenient symbol of death in Greek mythology.  As Scorpio is governed by Ares in the Olympian Zodiac the notion of senseless killing is reinforced.  Ares was a violent thug who fought and killed for the pleasure of fighting and killing so Scorpio may represent the mad assassin of the old year.

     That brings us back to Sagittarius when the Unconquerable Sun triumphs and the Archer fires off the arrow for the new year which lands we now know where.

     In relation to Scorpio it is signficant that Sagittarius is facing toward the new year rather than back toward the old.  So Scorpio may in fact represent merely the death of the old year.

     The symbols are of recent Greek origin but the story must have been formulated early in ante-diluvian times.  Especially so since the Zodiac has only a celestial existence in Greek mythology but not a terrestrial one.  At what time the Zodiac was translated to the sky can probably never be known for sure but I think we may be sure that the six kings previous to Leo had alredy completed at least one full circuit.

     Logically it must be true.

     Now, the question is, who formulated the Zodiac so long ago.

     For want of a better name it could only have been the people of the land the Egyptians called Atlantis.

     All the evidence points to the existence of a civilization antecedent  to the Great Flood.  The Flood was the point of discontinuity.  Thus the Flood and Atlantis may represent the same event.  After the Flood the world entered a long dark age emerging only with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

page 1867

     But, while the evidence of the earliest known civilizations, those of Egypt and Mesopotamia survive, the question is why not the remains of this earlier civilization.

     In Egypt the flooding of the Nile is a blessing so they could not consider a flood disastrous.  However earthquakes occur in the Delta causing submersion of coastal lands so the Egyptians depicted the disappearance of Atlantis as falling beneath the waves because of a great earthquake.  Floods were less benign in Mesopotamia so a Great Flood submerged the previous civilization.  Both versions agree that the big event occurred during the Age of Leo and involved submersion.

     Well and good.

     Now, modern science postulates that a great ice age existed prior to Leo that had endured for something like a hundred thousand years.  During this ice age so much water was impounded that ocean levels dropped by several hundred feet.  I quote science.  Thus the entire continental shelves of the world would have been exposed and habitable.  Huge areas of the Asian Pacific would have been exposed.  Scientists say that the Bering strait was several miles wide.  Most of the Mediterranean Basin would have been above water.

     One assumes that prior to the onset of this Ice Age that those same shelvings had been under water.  Thus as the waters receded it follows that flora and fauna, including man, would exist where they had never existed before.

     Emigrants are usually those least able to compete successfully at home.  The successful are quite content to remain in possession at home.

page 1868.

     Those displaced persons who are faced with new challenges often come up with new answers.

     There are many drawbacks, or unsolved probelms, with the theory of evolution.  More adaptable variants of the same species often exist in competition with less adaptable variants.  But the less adaptable may have more physical vigor than the more  adaptable leaving the latter at a competitive disadvantage.  For instance you and I might be more adaptable than Jack Dempsey but in a fist fight with him we’re going to get lumped and not him.

     Thus Neanderthal man may have existed side by side with Cro-Magnon man but in primitive technology he had the upper hand.  Thus as the shelves became available for habitation it is probable that the weaker Cro-Magnon moved away.

     At any rate the shelves must have been inhabited.  These weaker but more adaptable people used their intelligence to create a civilization rather than using mere brawn to wrest a living from Nature.

     In the Mediterranean the Southern shelf opposite Malta and Gozo would have been an excellent place to found a city state.  The upland ranges surrounding the Basin must have been an astonishing sight of rivers cascading down from the uplands.

     The islands must have been imposing awe inspiring sights towering out of the water as mountains.  The coastal Atlantean undoubtedly learned to build boats to cruise the placid waters of the long narrow sea.

     The majesty of the Nile cascading from what would then have been the first cataract at Giza to the sea in full flood must have been unimaginably awesome as also the mighty roar of water descending from the Black Sea.

page 1869.

     And then, apparently within a couple hundred years the ice caps melted returning the seas to their former levels.  The achievement of this civilization disappeared beneath the waves as the flood rose, yea verily, even to the mountain tops or as the Egyptians put it, fell into the sea.  The evidence of this civilization disappeared beneath the waters.

     However there is no reason to believe that the waters rose so fast that the people were destroyed also.  No.  They undoubtedly fled the rising waters scattering to the margins of the sea or to the uplands of the world.

     Some undoubtedly fled into sub-Saharan Africa where over the course of a few centuries they became melanized blending in with the native population.   Some formed the Berber tribes.  The similarity of Negro mythology to Mediterranean mythology is not accidental but a result of diffusion.  The similarity was added to  in later centures when exploratory parties from Libya crossed the Sahara.

     Man is and always has been an inveterate traveler.  Various other bands of Atlanteans penetrated into the uplands of Europe, Asia Minor and the Nile Valley.  Some traveled to India and some farther afield to China.

     By far, most settled on the margins of the new sea level around the Basin.

     Agriculture began simultaneously in every part of the world.  Are we to believe that yokels all over the world individually decided to farm at the same time or was the notion diffused by the forcible ejection of farmers from the same area?  I leave it to you to make your own decision because argument is useless; nothing can be proven at this time.

page 1870.

     My own opinion is that agriculture must have been practiced by the Atlanteans and was diffused in their flight from the inundation.

     The largest part of the displaced Atlanteans quite naurally retreated up country to the African littoral occupying that coastal strip incuding the developing area of the Nile Delta where they became known as the Libyans.

     The Libyans were always extremely intellectually well developed being ahead of both the ancient Upper Egyptians as well as the later Greeks.  Lower Egypt before the unification must then have been an Atlantean kingdom.  Where else could the legend of Atlantis come from?  Certainly not from the land bound Upper Egypt.

     There is an example of attempted agriculture in Upper Egypt at this time but it was abandoned.  Why?  Certainly not because the proper conditions were lacking.  I surmise that a colony of Libyans made the attempt.  I think that the novel concept of plowing the ground so outraged the Upper Egyptians that they either killed or drove the Libyans back to the Delta.

     It is possible that the Atlanteans developed a system of writing which is reflected in Egyptian hieroglyphics.  The followers of Edgar Cayce believe that an ante-deluvian deposit of books lie beneath the paws of the Sphinx in some subterranean passageways.  I don’t know that it is true but I don’t find the notion absurd.  It is quite possible that the Atlantean priesthood fled with all their sacred writings, if any.

page 1871.

     At the same time they most likely carved the image of Leo on the rock outcropping where it sits in a manner akin to Mount Rushmore.  So matters stood while the ‘kings’ changed posts in the sky until the Delta Libyans were conquered by the Upper Egyptians about thirty-three hundred BC.  The Upper Egyptians remained dominant through the first three dynasties.  Then a Libyan dynasty succeeded to the throne.  The Red Crown of the Delta was triumphant.  Immediately the pent up energies of several thousand years exploded in a building frenzy which we call the Pyramids.  The Pyramids must duplicate some notion of the world order of the Atlanteans.

     Actually the Pyramids are only the half of the world order that has survived.  Just as important as the City of the Dead was the City of the Sun or Heliopolis or the Holy City of On across the Nile to the East.  Its monuments were less durable than those of the West and have been all but obliterated by the religious jealously of  later Asian conquerors.

     Someday it will be found that the whole complex is a great bit of magic meant to preserve earth from another disaster like that which happened to Atlantis.

     How do you like that for a strange notion, Dewey?’

     ‘I never heard anything like it.’  Dewey said for the words had blown through his staggering mind like the Boreas from the North Pole, making the same impression.  The notion had little relevance for him as his mind was unprepared to receive it.  The requisite foundation of knowledge was not there.  Mental preparation is the key.  However he was still alert enough to check the logic of the story.  There was nothing absurd in the presentation of facts while Gaste seemed to be informed on his subject so he saw no reason to take objection.

page 1872.

     ‘I have thought a great about what I have just told you, Dewey, and while I have no proof that academics would consider incontrovertible yet something did happen for which no explanation has ever been offered.  All lines of inquiry lead to the edge of the water whether Egyptian, Mesopotamian or modern science.  You are the only person I have ever told this to.  I would never present it to a body of educators.  It’s always best to be careful about introducing new and unusual notions that no one has ever heard before.  Even J.G. Frazer who was a very careful academic using tried and true methods was attacked.  I couldn’t endure that.  I couldn’t stand the way my mother and I were treated because of her beliefs.  I mght ultimately be proved right on my main theses but I would be attacked on details that couldn’t be verified.  I would rather have less honor than to be totally reviled.’

     ‘Sure, but if everybody thought that way I don’t know how progress would be possible.  If Galileo hadn’t advanced the theory that the Earth went round the sun where would we be?’

     ‘Well, exactly where we are, but yes.  Galileo paid a heavy price for speaking in advance of his times.  And that price wasn’t in ephemeral fruit either.  Ha, ha, ha.’

page 1873.

     ‘Yes, but I think Mrs. Hicks was right.  I’d rather be Galileo any day.  I mean, what’s this society going to be like after a lifetime of football, baseball and sports and TV shows that don’t have any logic?’

     ‘You mean you don’t think there’s anything of value in American culture?  You think it’s all ephemeral fruit?’

     ‘No.  I think some things of value are happening but because they have value, because they are substantial fruit they have to slink around in the shadows where only outriders of ephemera can find them.  You gott be out there riding those fences.’

     ‘OK.  Where’s that?’

     ‘Well, you know, I make the midnight run up to San Francisco most Fridays and back again on Sundays.  They only let them play silly love songs on daytime radio.  But at night you can pick up stations with really maverick outlaw DJs that play some real good music with some real cutting edge meaningful social criticism.

     Now, don’t get me wrong, because I think they’re really good and it shows what a high wire balancing act they’re doing but the Kingston Trio gets on daytime radion because rather than criticism they make wry or cute observations.  The Kingston Trio have the real genius, don’t get me wrong, but songs like Tiajuana Jail like all pop music is meant to  please everyone and offend no one.  ‘Tom Dooley’ the same way.  They take out the social criticism and give it the real folk ballad flavor and it almost cuts it.  You know the Kingstons are biting their tongue though.

page 1874.

     At night you get the real stuff, after midnight, by guys like the Chad Mitchell Trio and Tom Paxton.  Guys with sharp eyes and witty tongues.  So they keep them off daytime radio and these guys are actually lucky to be alive.  If it weren’t for freedom of speech you’d find those guys floating down the river.’

     ‘What?  Are you serious?  This is America.  You can’t do that.’

     ‘Oh, yes you  can.  It’s done all the time.  Look at this.  They didn’t have any room for me in the Navy when I wanted to join.  I had to wait seven months for a place to open up.  but they make a spot for Elvis Presley just to destroy his career.  Then they assign him to the tank corps.  How long do you think he’s going to last when the Russkies charge over the line?  I think the estimate is seven minutes..

     I mean they’re destroying Jerry Lee Lewis.  And Little Richard threw all his Jewels in the ocean, gave up rock n’ roll and took to the minstry to escape persecution.  I think they would have killed him if he hadn’t.  Black or not.’

     (In just a couple months Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper will be killed in a small plane crash, the favored form of assassination.  Thus the first wave or rock n’ rollers was decimated.  the rest of them got the hint.)

     ‘Who’s this ‘they who’re doing this?’  Gaste asked with the tinge of contemptuous disbelief that people show when they find something distasteful.

page 1875.

     ‘Oh, you know, Barry Goldwater, John Tower, the John Birch Society, all the social reactionaries that fell out of the McCarthy thing.’  Dewey had no cause to mention McCarthy or even the Conservatives; the reaction to Rock and Folk was very broadly based and included large numbers of so-called Liberals and educated people.

     ‘Yes, they’re a pretty nutty group.’  This was a strong political opinion for Terry Gaste to express but as a Liberal he considered Conservatives as Neanderthals living in the nineteenth century at best.

      ‘I wouldn’t go that far.’  Dewey protested.  ‘Conservatives are usually right while Liberals are always wrong.’

     Terry Gaste scoffed.

     ‘You bet.  I’m a Conservative but I”m younger than the guys who fought the war for ‘freedom’ but can’t accept the consequences so I can accept modern tastes as natural where they think it’s evil, like, for instance, rock n’ roll.  But since they reject the inevitable they’re just old and in the way.  They’re still defending the old ideals in an antiquated obtuse way.

     When Mighty J…um…McCarthy went down…’  Dewey almost committed a social faux pas by treating McCarthy as a valid person and not a demon but corrected himself in time.  After all Freedom of Conscience has its limits even in America.  ‘…these guys were all turned out in the Wasteland.  They were overwhelmed, they don’t know how to get there from here; so they persecute anyone who dares to criticize their point of view either explicitly or implicitly, friend or foe.  They would kill these folksingers if they weren’t college graduates and they thought they could get away with it.  They’re destroying their careers already or, at least, trying to inhibit them.’

page 1876.

     (Barry Goldwater would actually force Chad Mitchell out of the business because of a very funny parody of him called ‘Barry’s Boys.’  Anyone with a conflicting opinion walked on gilded splinters.)

     ‘Well, we Liberals aren’t wrong on the ideal.  But Conservatives agree on the ideal.  After all there are reactionaries allied to the Conservatives just as radicals go hand in glove with Liberals.  Reactionaries and Radicals disagree on what should be done; Conservatives and Liberals disagree on how it should be done.

     There is no question that Blacks have not been given equal opportunities  but that is all they’re entitled to.  The question is at bottom a social question not a racial one.  White guys from the other side of the tracks have been denied equal opportunity too so the problem is how to take down the barriers for everybody not to keep sanctions on the White underclass while releasing the Blacks.  That’s what the Liberals want to do.

     What will happen is that discrimination won’t end it will just shift.  You Liberals will make the White guys from the other side of the tracks pay the whole price of integration and call that fair.  You will take from them to give to the Blacks but you won’t give up one smidgen yourselves.  Even then you completely reject Black culture.

     You say you can’t understand the lyrics of Little Richard because he doesn’t articulate but really you can’t understand him because he speaks in the Black idiom.  You will admit only those Blacks who will play your game by your rules, adopt your styles and manners, your way of talking.  They ain’t no ghetto eight rock ever gon’ be admitted to polite White society.  So there’s going to be a big blow up.’

     ‘I think you’re wrong there.  Black people want what we want.  I think they’re intelligent, decent people who will find it is their best interest to adopt better manners and improve their speech and they will do so.  I see a smooth assimilation.’

     ‘Won’t happen.  It’s not in the interest of Blacks and guys from the other side of the tracks to play your game because you control the game and your rules are always you win, outsiders lose.  You will only give on humiliating terms.  Therefore Blacks will have to riot to get any respect at all.  Has to happen.  Trouble coming every day.

     Besides, nobody’s saying that Blacks are stupid or mean and nasty.  Liberals always assume that if you don’t believe exactly as they do that you believe the opposite of their views.  They demonize you into beliving all kinds of atrocious things.  You guys all think that your beliefs are virtuous and that you are therefore virtuous.  Anyone who disgrees with you is not.

page 1878.

     Besides, it doesn’t matter whether Blacks are intelligent or not; that’s just one of  your smokescreens.  My point is that you won’t accept them unless they imitate you and abandon Black culture.  They have to become off color White to pass among you.  Some will do that.  But they’re going to be an awful lot can’t or won’t know how or want to.  Then it is inevitable that Conservative or reactionary Blacks will reject the whole notion of becoming intellectually White anyway.  They’ll probably come up with some such slogan as ‘Black Is Beautiful And White Isn’t.’

 

     Needless to say the trends Dewey was percipient enough to anticiapate had been developing in the Black community since they migrated from the South to Harlem and Chicago.  They would lead to some very interesting twists on the ‘minority’ scene.

     The discontent expressed in the ‘Back to Africa’ movement of Marcus Garvey in the teens and twenties would go through many transformations and end up as the Nation of Islam which was the conservative direction Dewey knew must happen.  The process was already happening although Whites didn’t understand it or report it properly in their newspapers and journals.

     Looking ahead, in the eighties and nineties the movement was headed by Louis Farrakhan.  He was a decent sort who took the right approach of trying to put things into an historical perspective.  Education for Blacks in short.  The Black perspective must necessarily step on White Folk’s toes.  They simply must interpret their history in their own way regardless of White people’s opinions.  Something in the Constitution about freedom of speech.  One can only assert oneself at someone else’s expense.  As Farrakhan was organizing an independent Black analysis of history he was naturally rejected by the so-called Liberal community.  One of those ‘anyone but him’ type things.

page 1880.

     In 1958 the word ‘bigot’ was rarely used.  ‘Prejudice’ was more usual but understanding the difference is essential to understanding the temper and tone of subsequent decades.

     Traditionally a bigot was one who had an unreasoning belief in the rightness of his own point of view.  Thus during he Enlightenment Catholicism was always referred to as bigoted because it wouldn’t, and still can’t, tolerate another religious point of view.  this is true of any faith whether Judaism, Nazism, Comunism, Moslemism or what have you.  Infidels, unbelievers, anti-Semites, the part of the world that is not of your faith can be despised and reviled.

     Beginning about this time, 1958, the word ‘bigot’ began to take on a different coloring.  It began to mean a White Christian who was unwilling to  bend the knee to other races, religions or creeds.  In other words, a Christian could a bigot but a Jew couldn’t; a White could be a bigot but a Black couldn’t.

     It was not enough for White Christians to be tolerant; one was compelled to assert that all other races, creeds and religions were more worthy than your own and more pointedly, you.  ‘Hey, hey, ho,  ho, Western Civilization has got to go became the war cry.  One was constrained to accept such absurdities as voodoo or fetish worship as respectable religious expressions.  People even demanded that animal sacrifices be legalized.

page 1880.

     Thus the freedom of religion clause of the Constitution was used to overturn reason.

     In this conception of bigotry two groups, for certain, claimed exemption from bigotry, the Blacks and the Jews.  Vis-a-vis White Christians (which includes the Scientific Consciousness) this could cause no problems as Whites were willing to abdicate their identity to Blacks and Jews.

     Then the unthinkable happened.  The minority coalition turnout to be not so monolithic.  Analyzing their history the scholars of the Nation of Islam began to say uncomplimentary things about their erstwhile allies, the Jews.

     In reviewing history Louis Farrakhan and his Minister of Culture found that Black Folk had been exploited by the Jews.  The Nation of Islam declared this and were promptly branded as infidels or, anti-Semites.

     What now?  How to deal with intra-minority conflicts in the Haven of the world?

     In 1870 there were not many Jews in the US.  Then the transfer of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe began.  By 1920 there were four million Jews in the US.

     The Jews have always blamed America the Beautiful for the transformation of Jewish culture that apparently happened on these shores.  In truth there was no transformation.  The changes already begun in the Old Cuntry were accelerated.

     The International White Slave Trade was the first unit of organized crime.  That business was called into existence by the wholesale emigration of Europeans to not only the United States but to all of North and South America, South Africa, Australia and diverse points, Shanghai for instance.  There were millions of men without women.

page 1881.

     The Jews rushed to fill the void by supplying the women.  This in turn created gangsterism as we know it.  Jewish gangs were thus not a creation of the New World but had already developed in the Pale even as they now dominate Jewish society in Israel.

     When the Jews emigrated to New York, the home of the scientific consciusness, they already had a history of socialism and gangsterism.  The loss of traditional values was only exacerbated by the opportunities to be found in the New World.

     Jewish gangsters dominated the New York criminal scene giving the city a criminal tincture epitomized in the movie ‘Guys And Dolls.’  These criminals were no lovable Nathan Detroits either.

     One of the most notorious was a psychopath by the name of Arthur Flegenheimer who as a nom de guerre assumed the name of Dutch Shultz.  Flegenheimer was of such a social disposition that in the course of a conversation he inserted the barrel of his pet .45 into the mouth of his acquaintance and pulled the trigger.  Oh sure, the gun was loaded.  Whether you took it as a joke or not depended on which end of the barrel you was at.  Flegenheimer laughed.

     Foibles such as this can make a man’s reputation.  The boy’s act was so much admired that you see its replication in movie after movie today.

page 1882.

     This Flegenheimer was in the numbers racket.  He worked Harlem.

     Now, Harlem from the turn of the century until a few years before 1920 had been a Jewish colony.  In anticipation of the rush uptown from the Lower East Side Jewish developers had outsized the rush by a large number of excess apartments.  You see, immigration was a very large industry, considered to be a growth industry by some.

     The growth was choked off by the Great War placing the developers in a position developers don’t like to be in.  Bankruptcy loomed.  The internal migration of the Blacks which began about then was a godsend.  That’s why Harlem is Black.

     The Black Folk migrated from the Deep South where they had a rural existence.  They were bumpkins in the White sense.  They had also been held in political subjection, denied education and economic opportunity.  Thus Black Folk faced a terrific psychological dilemma.  They not only moved from one State to another and from one culture to another but from one era to another.  Their migration South to North was actually the equivalent of moving from Europe to America, from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.  Even their language was different.

     Not only was there geographic displacement but they moved up a couple ratchets of time ways into a burgeoning technological twentieth century that even the Whites who were creating it didn’t understand.  Whites were desperately trying to acclimatise themselves to this new environment; Blacks were a good generation and a couple light years behind.  In addition Blacks were still treated as subhuman in New York.  They were still denied equal opportunities but their expenses climbed dramatically.  Only the lowest jobs on the ladder were open to them.

page 1883.

     In those days Whites could exhibit their racial pride in ways that are no longer open to them.  No one is any longer accorded the scope of referring to Blacks as monkeys, apes or subhumans.  Flegenheimer and Jewish gangsters were children of their times.  They did refer to Blacks in those terms as they fleeced the poor devils of the hard earned by the numbers racket.  Just because you win don’t mean you get paid.

     We’ll probably never know how many Blacks were murdered for complaining and similar offences to their betters.  One may assume that a real guy who was capable of inserting the barrel of .45 automatics into mouths during the course of a normal conversation was not overly nice in running his complaint department.

     These were real injuries suffered by Black people as a race at the hands of the Jewish people.  Mr. Farrakham according to the mores of our times had a right to request an apology as well as a cash indemnity of a substantial size from the Jews.

    Oh, but the Jews, it may be argued, can’t be condemned as a whole people for the actions of one man.

     Here’s where we get into some real hair splitting: this is where the faithful and the infidels separate.

     Well, but, Mr. Farrakham might argue, according to Jewish rules you can.  Certainly the German people by this logic could not be held responsible for the actions of this individual named Adolf Hitler.  But the Jews do say the whole of the German people are responsible.  Postwar Germans have sent billions of dollars in reparations to Israel, a State the did not exist during the Second World War.

page 1884.

     Certainly the Jews of New York were well aware of Flegenheimer’s activities; they were splashed across the front pages of every New York daily.  Mr. Farrakham might easily have demanded a few hundred millions indemnity from Israel to the Nation of Islam neither of which had been in existence in Flegenheimer’s time.

     Logic, naturally enough, has nothing to do with faith.  An act can easily be right for oneself but wrong for another.  I don’t know what principle of law that might be applied but I’m sure one can be found or created.

     Now, here’s an interesting point.  Jews had suffered in Europe.  Blacks had suffered in the United States.  Thousands of Black had been killed since Emancipation; Jews never had.

     Blacks had suffered at Jewish hands; Jews had never suffered at Black hands; not only in Harlem.  Jews had been the dominant people in the slave trade.  Jews had ridden out with the first Ku Klux Klan.  It is possible to quantify Black suffering.  Blacks were psychologically defenseless.  They had been stripped of all security on coming to the New World.  So much of their abuse had been on the psychological level.  Blacks were compelled to accept the White opinion of themselves that they were stupid, shiftless and no account.  Denied the right to decent employment and the self-respect that brings, perhaps the conclusion was inescapable, even to themselves.

page 1885.

     Black women were less of a threat than Black men so Black men suffered the double injury of being comparatively less effective than White men while being subjected to their women who found it easier to get work.

     Hence what appears to be a bizarre psychological reaction by Black men to difficult if not impossible circumstance.  Liberals of Terry Gaste’s stamp cannot even begin to understand the Black man’s place in American society.

     The ability to assert one’s identity has to come from within it cannot be enforced by an assumed attitude.  For that reason Louis Farrakham organized the million man march on Washington.  The march had a salutary effect on the pride and self-assurance of Black men.

     The idea was not unreasonable but the reaction to all those Black men gettig uppity was.  Efforts were renewed to discredit Farrakhan.

     Now, the Jews had never suffered oppression in the United States.  They were more offending than offended against.  The Jews glory in a four thousand year history of oppression.  Judaism never forgets nor can it make a reasonable allowance for its own reprehesible actions.

     Young Jews go through an intense psychological indoctrination.  The notions are not a matter of education but inculcation.  They are stamped into the brains of the youths.  About twenty-five hundred years ago a man acquired a very bad reputation among the Jews.  That man was called Haman.  He was a man who became a symbol.  During one of the Jewish holidays a story is read.  At every mention of the name Haman the congregants break out into a wild orgy of hate filled screaming and shrieking.

page 1886.

     Receiving this Pavlovian training against Haman at the mere mention of the name an automatic reaction is conditioned.  Thus if it were said, as it was, that Henry Ford was another Haman every Jew could and did turn toward him with concentrated hatred beaming from their eyes.  Louis Farrakham became the Black Haman.

     The question became which minority was going to have to bend the knee to the other.  There could be only one group of champion sufferers.  Which was going to be the top sufferer?  The Blacks had been suffering for only three hundred years in the United States; the Jews, not the same Jews as in the United States, but the generic entity called Jews, had been suffering for four thousand years, sometime, somewhere in the world.  That’s a pretty good record for suffering, still if you’re going to get sentimental abut suffering one can negate the Jewish claim and say that suffering is the lot of mankind. If you’ve got a higher trump, let’s see it.

     The Jewish organization was more powerful than the Nation of Islam.  Louis Farrakham and his Minister of Culture were held up to ridicule as anti-Semites.  This powerful and authentic voice of his people was driven from the counsels of his country.

     The President should have had tete-a-tetes with him for he represented a formidable component of American minorities, which is to say, all American peoples.  But Louis Farrakhan is called an anti-Semite.  He is therefore considered subhuman.  Now we’re back to Arthur Flegenheimer and the apes.

page 1887.

     What will come of this?

     Historically no very promising results are in the offing.

     The Jewish role in history has been one of appalling destruction.  The Jews always claim to be innocent victims while the rest of the world are savage beasts.  They have been quite successful in convincing the world it is so.  Don’t hate me for being a dissenter; after all truth is on my side, not faith, but truth.

     Take it back to that allegory of Jesus on the cross.  Apart from modern theorizing, what the story says and what the world has always believed is this:  J.C. comes bringing the light of love into the world.  As the son of God he brought a new Dispensation from God invalidating the Old Dispensation between He and the Jews.  Travel or something like it had broadened God’s view.  Formerly the tale had been told that God especially loved his chosen people the Jews.   But it is now written that God so loved the WORLD that the sent his only begotten to redeem not the just the Jews but everyone in the whole world.  He’s got the whole world in his hands.

     This notion was a frontal attack on Judaism.  Had the Jews accepted the notion they would have been no more than any other ethnic component of the world.  For in rendering unto Caesar that which Caesar’s and unto God all that was God’s all national distinctions would have been erased.  One world, one people.  Pretty communistic, eh?

page 1888

     Threatened in the worst possible way by what they considered a false messiah their religious authorities complained to Caesar, denounced Jesus as a criminal thus rendering to Caesar that which was Caesar’s.  I think there’s actually a joke in there.  In terms familiar to the Catholic Church which derives its basis from Judaism the spiritual authorities tried Jesus first, finding him guilty of heresy.  In a term of the Catholic Inquisition they then ‘relaxed’ Jesus to the civil authorities for execution.

      The religious are supreme hypocrites.  They do not kill on their own account they ‘relax’ victims to be killed by others.  By this means they think to wash their hands of blood guilt.  Thus Pilate washes his hands of the blood of Jesus as a pointed gesture to the untainted hands of the religious authorities.  His hands will be no bloodier than theirs.  The Catholic Church employed this method from beginning to end of the Inquistion.  The concept is a very important one which must be understood.

      On this principle the Jews can say with a certain plausibility that the Roman killed Jesus and not themselves.

     The result of the execution of  Jesus was the horrible wars between Jews and Romans that shook the foundations of the world.  The Jews were nearly exterminated while the Empire began its decline.  This sort of provocation and result has continued down through history.

     A quite similar occurrence took place in the United States in 1953.   The Jewish Rosenbergs were accused of having given the secrets of the Atom Bomb to the Soviets, which they had.  As with Jesus the Rosenbergs were tried in a Jewish court of law.  They had a Jewish judge and a Jewish prosecutor and were defended by a Jewish lawyer.  None of the officials operated independently of the ADL and the AJC.  So, one may say the Rosenbergs were tried by the Sanhedrin- Jewish spiritual authorities.

      Found guilty they were condemned to death, just as Jesus had been, then ‘relaxed’ to the American civil authorities for execution.  Today the Jews can and do claim the Rosenbergs were unnecessarily and unjustly executed by Americans in a wanton display of anti-Semitism.

      An age old principle finds its way down through the ages into modern times.

     So, this brings us down to Haman Louis Farrakhan who has been tried and condemned by the Jewish spiritual authorities as an arch anti-Semite.  They demand he be placed outside the Pale, cut off from human society.  Whether Jewish, Catholic or any other faith the heretic must be denied communion with the faithful.  He must be placed ouside the law.  That’s what outlaw means.

     But, Louis Farrakhan is the leader of a very numerous ‘minority.’  A minority which is essential to both the physical and spiritual well being of the United States.  After all they are ‘native sons.’  Whereas the President ought to be conferring with Mr. Farrakhan about the problems of Black Folk he is spurned by the White House.  It is certain that were he invited the Jews would begin the Haman shriek disturbing us all.

page 1890.

     This is unjust.

     What is Mr. Farrakhan to do?

     What he has done is hold conferences with the arch enemies of the United States such as Saddam Hussein.  This is regrettable even deplorable.  However he has been declared an outlaw in his own country by his own people.  He has been politically lynched as an anti-Semite.

     There are forty-five  million Black folk dispersed throughout the United States.  Acts of Islamic terrorism have already occurred in America.  What if, by a union of Arab and Black terrorists, the United States is turned into a bloody battlefield?  What if America’s enemies destroy America from within as, say Iraq, was destroyed from above?  What good will stealth bombers do against domestic terrorists?

     What will the Jews who will have brought this situation about say then?  Farrakhan had been ‘relaxed’ to the civil authorities and the result was America’s own fault and not theirs.  What is worse the Government who listened to them and heeded or themselves?  Thus the Government elevates one ‘minority’ over another.  This is sort of like Congress establishing a religion which it is forbidden to do.    

     Is this the result of a liberalism that will accept Negroes only on its own terms?  Dewey had every reason to believe that Conservatives were more practical in their understanding and resolution of problems.

page 1891.

      ‘I don’t think it will happen that way.’  Terry mused.

     ‘Liberals are always wrong but time will tell.  Besides, Terry, Blacks don’t have any idea what the game is or how to play it.  They’ve always been kept so far outside that the rules don’t make sense to them; they’ll have to make their own.  Then you Liberals will feel betrayed.  The problem is just too difficult for an easy resolution.  There has to be trouble.  Watch out.

     So Conservatives understand problems as well as Liberals do but Conservatives have an accurate understanding of the issues, human nature and results and Liberals don’t.’

     ‘Humph.’

     Although he disagreed with Dewey down the line Terry Gaste found this conversation more gratifying than Dewey’s earlier discourse on his love life.  Now that they were getting close to Benton Harbor he began to be concerned that Dewey still intended to hitchhike across Michigan.

     ‘You know, you really ought to think about taking a bus from Benton Harbor.  There is almost no traffic at night.  You’ll have a very difficult time getting a ride and it’s so cold.  You might freeze to death, literally.’

     Dewey’s resolve to hitch collapsed at Gaste’s  words.  He caved in.  He’d been out there much longer than those forty-eight hours he’d planned on.

     Gaste was kind enough to drop him at the Greyhound station in Benton Harbor even though he would have to drive back to St. Joseph.  As chance would have it Dewey arrived just as a bus was about to leave.  A few minutes later Dewey was bouncing in a near empty bus across the last stretch into the Valley.

page 1892.

Ain’t No More Cookies In This Cookie Jar

     Seated on the bus vague shapes seemed to pass before his eyes in the sepulchral darkness until the dull light of the northern winter entered his eyes as the bus passed through St. Charles.  Rosy fingered Dawn was hidden behind the low thick clouds.

     Dewey was very, very tired by this time, worn out, mentally exhausted by his last effort at conversation with Terry Gaste.  His mind wasn’t wandering or anything of that sort but it had no fixed point of concentration.  Terry’s words seemed to ricochet through his mind without making an impression.

     As tired as he was, nervous energy was driving him as though he were in the pink of condition.  He had now been on the road with no sleep for five days.  Had he taken the bus in San Diego as intended he would have arrived forty-eight hours earlier.  That was when he’d told his mother he’d be there.  He had forgotten to tell them he was going to hitchhike or, rather, he believed he would have been there in forty-eight hours.  It would have been a surprise.

     Now, groggy from hunger and lack of sleep on the bus his mind had slipped.  He believed he was on his original plan.  Thus as he stepped off the bus he expected to be met.  His disappointment was bitter.  He never did realize why no one was there and he never forgave them.

page 1893.

     He had carefully arranged himself, clothes, face and attitude on the bus.  He was not an effusive guy but now he planned a warm greeting.  He planned to throw his arms around his mother- it was Christmas.

     He wore a silly little smile on his face as he stepped off the bus.  He kept it there for several minutes as he walked around the small bus station looking for her.  Rather than keep his despair to himself he walked over to the ticket window to ask the attendant if anyone had been waiting for him.

     “Has anyone left a message for Dewey Trueman?’  He asked hopefully.

     ‘No. No one.’ The attendant said looking up briefly with the wry smile of someone who’s been through this before and hopes the answer will suffice.

     Desolated, Dewey accepted the answer.  Then he noticed how cold it was.  Ten degrees Fahrenheit, but above zero, thank god.

     Along with the atmospheric cold enveloping his body, psychological cold enveloped his mind.  The demons of the past oppressed him.  Perhaps coming back hadn’t been such a good idea; perhaps he should have hung around Lake Arrowhead.

     He would have to walk home.  The walk didn’t bother him, walking was what he did best, but he felt  the taunting eyes of his enemies staring out from windows or driving by with silent smiles.

     He needn’t have worried.  Over half his class in the recession of 1956 had gone into the services.  None of them were around and if any were they were on leave themselves, too busy to concern themselves with him.  Some classmates had hightailed it out of town at their first opportuniy in an attempt to escape the oppression.  Those who had gone to college were either not home yet or not coming home.  Nevertheless his progress down Melmoth Avenue was noted; the busybodies are never still.

1894.

     As he walked he began to grow visibly weaker.  By the time he reached the house on Caterina he was clenching his teeth.  He wanted to go to bed.  Usually the back door was unlocked but when he turned the knob he found himself locked out.  He pounded on the door although he knew no one would be home, searched for a hidden key.  No answer, no key.  He went around to the front door hammered and rang the bell.  No answer.  He rang the bell unmercifully in wild desperation.  Still no answer.

     He walked around the house a couple times like the moron in the story who, having found himself locked out, ran around the house until he was all in.  Finally in desperation he was standing in the back yard with his hands on his hips glowering angrily at the windows of the back porch turning to a truly desperate frame of mind.

     Big boys don’t cry.  Dewey was too exhausted to cry although a tear tried to form in either eye.  As he stood thus in the freezing air not knowing what to do and incapable of examining his alternatives Alicia Ikestead stepped out of her back door the second lot over and called to him:  ‘Dewey, Dewey.’

     Dewey looked over.  He was horrified that he would have to speak to an Ikestead.  The ends of his mind were already flapping wildly, snapping in the hurricane of disjointed emotions released by his abandonment.  Now the demons contained in the right side of the brain in that dead spot above the ear were partially released blending with the shame and fear of the blighted hopes of the past.  Visions of mortifications danced before his eyes like stars caused by a concussion to the back of the head.

page 1895.

     His breathing, if breathing it was, came fitfully and hard against the frigid air or was suspended while he struggled for control of his being.

     The Ikesteads, for no fault of their own that Dewey had ever been able to discover, had always been the most despised family on the street.  No one would ever have thought to speak to them.  Dewey, against all the principles he held sacred, had acquiesced in this prejudice.  Indeed, as he had sought to secure his own self-respect against the batterings of society he had kept them beneath him to ensure his own sense of worth.  Even then his self-esteem had been badly shaken.

     The Ikesteads, like all those held in contempt, had turned their rejection against themselves.  Tormented by others, feeling the pangs of worthlessness they had in turn mercilessly tormented each other.

     As a justification of Dewey’s contempt for them he always remembered that Alicia had chased her brother out this same back door from which she was now addressing him brandishing a carving knife.  He alone had witnessed the scene but he projected knowledge of it on everyone.  As he knew of nothing else to soundly establish their inferiority the scene had been the cornerstone of his contempt.

page 1896.

     If the Ikesteads were held in contempt it was also true that Tuistad and his mother, he and his brother were held in little regard.  This was a matter of deep chagrin for in Dewey’s inner sanctum he held himself in high regard and rightly so.  His home life under Tuistad and his mother had been very distressful and unhappy reinforcing the unhappiness of his life in society to the point of insanity.

     At one dinner, which was always the focal point for creating frustration in him by Tuistad, he had laid his fork down to exclaim to the infernal gods:  “Life can’t always be this bad.’ but it always was or worse.

     Louis, his brother, suffered all plus bore the brunt of Dewey’s despair.  Thus in one of their ceaseless fights Louis grabbed a knife and chased Dewey out the back door.  The scene had been witnessed.  The effect had been catastrophic on Dewey.  The interface between he and the Ikesteads had been breached.   Dewey’s self-respect was jeopardized.

     Shortly thereafter he witnessed Daryl Sonderman chase his brother Ward out of their house kitty corner to Dewey’s.  Daryl had been wielding a knife.  Dewey’s arch enemies, the Sondermans, had witnessed the same scene between himself and Louis and were parodying or ridiculing Dewey as he had felt toward the Ikesteads.

     They made a mistake.  For while Dewey recognized that they were attempting to ridicule him their parody could be taken at face value;  Dewed did so defusing their joke.  The Sondermans in their hatred unconsciously made Dewey a gift of his self-respect which they would never have done consciously.

page 1897.

     As the Sondermans considered themselves part of the elite the effect was that Dewey could raise himself considerably.  The effect was also one of obliterating the basis of the contempt of the Ikesteads that he held.

     Dewey had never ever consciously thought of the three incidents but as his contempt of the Ikesteads had been breached by the incident of the Sondermans he was able to speak to Alicia now.

     Dewey didn’t even know the girl’s first name.  Startled he turned with his customary contempt to see what she wanted.  Thoroughly beaten down Alicia did not question or appear to resent Dewey’s unjust attitude.  He had been gone for two years; he would never again be part of this scene.  As by a miracle all those prejudices were dispelled from his mind.  He softened his contempt then let it fall from him as no longer relevant.  He suddenly saw his former attitude as an evil that had been forced on him by the contempt of others for him.

    ‘What…what is it?’  He elided a crab to a coo.

     ‘Well, Dewey…’ Alicia said very pleased to have an excuse to talk to someone she considered superior.  ‘…your mother asked me to tell you that they’ve gone to Waukegan and won’t be back till after New Years.’

     Dewey was stunned.  Twenty-five hundred miles, five days on the road, dirty and exhausted and he was now less at the end of his journey than when he began.  His exhausted weary mind flapped in the North wind.

page 1898.

     ‘Gone to Waukegan?’  He croaked.  ‘In Illinois?’

     ‘Yes. Your father’s gotten a promotion.  They’re going to move there.’

     Dewey’s mother hadn’t seen fit to tell him.  This was news.  Dewey’s tired mind was unable to rationalize his situation.  His conscious and subconscious minds were comingled while the right side of his brain released a steady stream of demons sometimes also known as voices.  All his repressed thoughts and emotions shot up into his conscious mind which was unable to digest or control the molten lava of his soul.

     ‘They gave a message to me.’  Alicia said stringing out her information so as to prolong the delicious sensation of talking to someone other than her family.

     Dewey just stared at her dumbly unable to form a sentence in reply to her.

     ‘They said you were to go over to your grandmother’s and she would take you in.’

     She would take you in.   The words caromed around Dewey’s brain amid the centrifugal and centripetal explosions of his mind whirling end over end inside and outside his brain.

     She would take him in.

     How many times would his mother put him out to foster homes?  This was the last.  He would give her no more opportunities.

     At least he had some idea of what to do other than head back.  He thanked the girl with as much civility as he could muster.

1899.

     He gathered his remaining wits about him, picked up his bag and trudged off through the cold to grandma’s house.  She wasn’t even his real grandmother; she was his step-father’s mother.  She had given him no reason to care for her and now he developed an unreasoning dislike of her.  Both she and his mother not to mention his mother’s mother.  What a group of cold unloving women they were.  There was nothing of the mother about any of them.

     This was the final rejection by his mother that he could take.  First she had put him in foster homes, then into the municipal orphanage.  After that she had driven him into the Navy.  Now, she didn’t even have the decency to inform him that she wouldn’t be home when he got there.

     Perhaps Alicia Ikestead had not used her exact words but maybe she had.  Maybe that was exactly what his mother meant.  He was not of her; his grandmother would take him in.  Twenty years of fobbing him off on other people and now his grandmother would take him in.

     And then, my god, she insulted him by using the Ikesteads to tell him.  What kind of calculated insult was that?  Did she hate him so much that she chose someone he considered beneath him to tell him.  Since when had she spoken to the Ikesteads?  Never in his memory.

     Was she telling him that that twenty year old girl she had been when she gave him birth had resented her pregnancy so much that she could not cease punishing her child?  If so, he didn’t think much of her either.

page 1900.

     Dewey neither hated nor resented he only condemned.  He now condemned his mother to the seventh layer of hell as coldly and dispassionately as any judge in court.  He struck her from his mind, so to speak.  She was no longer among the living.

     Walking along, breathing heavily as he labored against his fatigue he worked up what little rage he could.  then, like an arrow shot in the air in California on a trajectory seemingly designed to hit him here the memory of Dalton Dagger pierced his mind.

     Dagger said he would find him in the Valley.  Dewey knew he would try.  Dewey wasn’t afraid so much but he did want to avoid unpleasantness.  He didn’t want to give Dalton the twenty dollars that he thought he expected but if you called the police on a guy like Dagger who had no fear of consequences, if fact, didn’t recognize them, there was no telling what he might do.

     So Dewey’s mind drew on the tangled skein of emotions as he covered the fifteen blocks to grandma’s house.  Finally he stood on the sidewalk before her door.

     ‘She’d darn well better be here.’  He spoke out loud in audible despair.

     In truth he would have collapsed on the spot and frozen to death if the door hadn’t opened.

     His brother Louis opened the door.  ‘Dewey.  Boy, what took you so long.  We expected you a couple days ago.’

     ‘Yeah, well, what a trip.  I came up route sixty-six.’  He said savagely, angry with himself for the debacle of the last five days.

page 1901.

     ‘What happened?’  Louis asked excitedly astonished at Dewey’s appearance.

     ‘I’ll have to tell you later Louis.  I haven’t had any sleep since San Diego and I’m really tired.’  Dewey had lost track of time completely.  He had no idea how long exactly he’d been on the road.

     ‘By the way if someone named Dalton Dagger comes to the door don’t open it.  Tell him I never showed up.’

     Dewey staggered upstairs.  As there was no room for him in the sacred room formerly occupied by his step-father and his step-uncle and his aunt’s room was occupied by his brother an army cot was set up in the hallway for Dewey.

     Too tired to protest he wrapped a blanket around his clothes and all and fell into the army cot asleep.  As he flopped down his hat fell off rolling across the floor.

The Green Green Grass Of Home

     While Dewey slept Dalton Dagger rolled into town.  He was only four hours behind Dewey.  In fact if Dewey had elected to hitchike from Benton Harbor Dalton would have overtaken him to roll up alongside him in the dark.  Had that been the case then Dewey would most probably have been found at the bottom of a ditch when the snow melted.

     When Dewey had disappeared into Oklahoma Dalton’s interest had immediately shifted to his car.  In his peculiar thought processes he believed that the Amarillo mechanics owed it to him to fix his car at their most reasonable rate.  It was the same as his belief that Yisraeli owed him the balance of Dewey’s death price whether he killed him or not.  Likewise Dalton believed that Dewey belonged to him because he had a contract on his life.  Dalton was very good at forming indissoluble unilateral bonds.

page 1902.

     Thus the intensity of his demand that Dewey ask the Darrels to give him a ride had been so compelling that Dewey had acted against his own will in the matter.  Yisraeli had still to learn that the man he was dealing with was not as disposable as a pair of infant’s diapers.  Thus when Dalton strode back into the garage grounds the mechanics gave him all their attention.  Wisely so.

     When I say Dalton strode I mean that he walked with the assertive self-confidence of a man who had shown the Marines what one of the few good men really looked like.  There was definitely no diffidence in his walk; John Wayne would have gotten out of the way.  He had the confident walk of a lion who was not to be denied.  As the poet put it:  The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold.

     The mechanics still thought they had the upper hand but they were mistaken.

     ‘Alright fellas, how long is it going to take to fix up my car.  I’ve got to get back on the road in a hurry.’

     ‘Well…’  Saul Grampas the owner and chief mechanic began in that drawling manner that betrays that the mechanic has no intention of telling you the truth about anything and is going to steal every dime he can.   ‘…we can’t be sure how bad the damage is, you know, the block is sure to be cracked.  Radiator’s definitely shot.  I don’t know how long it’ll take us to find one for this…what is this?…’53 Olds, uh huh.  If we can’t get a new one and the dealer might not have one in stock anyway, might have one, might not, you know, it might take, oh I don’t know, maybe three or four days to get one down here from Denver.’

     ‘You’re full of shit, man.  You can fix this thing in a couple hours.  If you don’t have a radiator here you can get one right away or youcan jury rig another one.  I have to be on the road right away so stop jawing and get the cork out.  I’ll help you.  Come on, hurry up.  That other stuff can wait.’

     ‘Now, just a minute, fella.’  Saul said stepping forward intimidatingly.

     ‘Uh uh, no just a minute.’  Dalton said stepping into Saul and raising his fist with a look of conviction on his face that said Saul was a dead man.

     Saul’s assistant, Slim Weazel, picked up a monkey wrench and glared at Dalton.  Slim lacked the concentrated force in his gaze that was needed to give his actions conviction.

     Dalton seized a four foot iron bar that was leaning against a stack of tread bare tires, held it before him grasped in the middle so he could thrust or club.  Dalton was a very formidable guy.  At six-two he was still compact and sturdy as a statue.  That combined with an eager demonic light that came into his eyes made the mechanics who were less committed to a savage set-to quail.  Saul didn’t take a step back but he rocked on his heels.  As he did Dalton gave a nearly imperceptible sardonic smile and, while without actually moving, intimated his intent to smack Saul with the right end of the iron bar.  Saul’s eyes involuntarily fixed on it.

page 1904.

      ‘I can call the police?’  Slim said shakily, involuntarily making it a question, his eyes fixed on Dalton’s iron bar.  Put into this form of a semi-question the statement confirmed Dalton in his conviction that he was the winner.

     ‘Go ahead and try.  You’ll never reach the phone.  Both you guys’ll be laid out here.  Besides what’re you going to tell them?  You’re trying to cheat me out of my car?’

     ‘If you hurt us you’ll go to jail.’  Slim said wealkly, capitulating.

     ‘So fuckin’ what?  I just got out.  You’ll still be dead.  Is my going to jail worth that?’  Dalton replied with a fiendish grin.

     Dalton’s bravado worked.  When he showed no fear of the consequences of violence Saul thought it best to just fix the damn car and get this lunatic out of there.

     With Dalton’s help they did.  Dalton even remembered to put anti-freeze in this time.  Thus in two hours Dalton was back in shape.  He even cut his own deal on the repair bill forcing Saul to settle for half of what he asked.

     Then hunger and drowsiness overtaking him, he first had a good substantial T-bone then holed up in a motel for some rest.

      At twelve-thirty in the afternoon as Dewey lay sleeping he entered the Valley.  Dalton and his family were known quantities to certain people in the Valley even thought the Daltons were from Bay City.  their character was feared and despised.  Dalton did not know he was that well known so unbeknownst  to him the rules of the road changed to the rules of reputation.

page 1905.

     Anyone with intelligence might have found it difficult to locate Trueman’s address not knowing his parents’ name.  But Dalton knowing Dewey lived on the West Side using a certain illogic that worked obtained directions to the major intersection of  Court and Melmoth.  Once there he went into Trinkow’s drug store and loudly demanded if anyone knew where Dewey Trueman lived.

      His method may appear crude but his results were concrete.  As it happened a busybody named John Dickman who had been in Dewey’s class at Melville was present.  He looked up.

     ‘Dewey Trueman’s not here.  He left town two years ago.’  He said eyeing Dagger with curiosity.  Without necessarily being famous the Dagger family was notorious to those who dealt in histories of this fashion.  The majority of the residents in the Valley had never heard of the Daggers yet they were very well known in certain circles, the police for instance.

     As noted Dalton was of a species of savage wild man.  The family was not unknown within prison walls.  There was usually at least one member of the family inside at any given time.  Dickman, as a busybody, knew many arcane facts about many obscure people.  He cherished any story that brought another man or woman below his level.  He lived to despise others.  He was not unuseful to the authorities.

page 1906.

     ‘Yeah, he is.’  Dalton grunted, menacing the world before it menaced him.  ‘I’m a Navy buddy of his.  He’s on leave and I’m supposed to meet him here.  I lost his address.’

     Dickman thought itover quickly as he sized up Dalton.  He had never seen Dagger but with sure intuition he guessed who he was merely from his manner.  Dickman bore goodwill to no man; they all fall sooner or later as he put it.  Dickman had pissed on the best of them.  He craved excitement at the expense of others.  He thought Dagger might provide some amusement for him.

     ‘His family lives not too far from here.  Here let me show you.’  The guy had the instincts of a natural born reporter; first on any scene.

     Dickman led Dalton to the house on Caterina St.  Fortunately for Dewey they only went to the front door.  Had they gone around to the back there is no question but that Alicia Ikestead would have helpfully sent them to grandma’s house.  They would  have been at Dewey’s door.

      No one answered nor was any movement visible inside so Dalton dismissed Dickman.  He didn’t thank him; he dismissed him, much more than Dickman deserved.

     Dalton, who now thought Dewey owed him two hundred dollars for the expenses incurred in Amarillo as well as his life hung around town until six-thirty when he went back to the house a second time.  Disappointed again he drove on up to Bay City intending to come back on the weekend.

page 1907

     Dalton was not a man to waste time.  At eight-thirty he was on the phone to Yehouda Yisraeli.  Yehouda was stunned.  Like all men who think they are clever he thought everyone he dealt with was stupid.  He believed he was dealing incognito with Dalton because of the aliases and blinds he had put up.  Dalton had his own file on Yisraeli, including his phone number.

     There is a criminal network too.

     ‘Where’d you get my number?’  He stammered incautiously.

     Dalton ignored him.

     ‘Alright, the job’s done.  I fulfilled my end of the deal so get my twenty-five hundred wired to me immediately, first thing.  I’ll pick it up at Western Union, twelve sharp, tomorrow.  It had better be there.’

     ‘You’ve fulfilled the contract?’

     ‘That’s right.  Send the money.’

     ‘How do I know?’

     ‘Because I said so.  Send the money.’

     ‘I have to be sure.’

     ‘Well, I can come back there and plant you under the same cactus, Alligator.  You dig that?’

     There was a pause then Yehouda said firmly:  ‘Alright.  The job’s done, the money will be there.’

     ‘It better be if you know what’s good for you.’  Dalton threatened slamming down the receiver.

     Yisraeli believed Dalton.  He rejoiced that his enemy was dead.  He had no intention of sending Dalton twenty-five hundred dollars.  Yisraeli was shrewd.  Being from the Valley and having been influential there he was able to place Dagger firmly when the latter was back in his home environment.

page 1908.

     ‘Oh, those Daggers.’  He said to himself.

     He reasoned that Dalton had just gotten out of the brig, took pride in his dishonorable discharge, and violent as he undoubtedly was it wouldn’t be long before he was back in jail.  He mused a while about what it would take to set  Dalton off.  Just shorting him would do it but the crafty Yisraeli wanted to make sure Dalton would do something drastic.

     He decided to send only five hundred dollars thinking that would unbalance Dalton but give him enough money to tie one on.  Yehouda’s hopes were more than justified.  Angrily looking at the five hundred dollar check he went into a towering rage.  He was spoiling for a fight.

     That night he and a couple friends drove out to the Hillbilly Heaven roadhouse near Mt. Pleasant.  If you’re looking for a fight there is no better recommendation than a hillbillybar.  This particular bar was frequented by a bunch of guys for whom no outing was complete without a fight.

     Dalton got his fight.  His rage at Yisraeli was so great that he actually killed his man.  Stomped him to death.  Thus after only a few days home Dalton was downtown in the can awaiting trial for manslaughter.  He got five years, which was a lot for those times when first degree murderers might only serve three.  He would have been out in the early sixties but he was a very troublesome inmate.  His release was delayed until 1969.  At that time he was once again a free and roving man.

page 1909

     Yehouda when he heard the news felt entirely justified in withholding the other two thousand.  Dewey knew nothing of it but when Dalton didn’t show up at Grandma’s house the next morning his apprehensions for the future were allayed.

     Yehouda in his excitement passed the word to Kanary that Trueman was dead.  Kanary spread the word aboard the Teufelsdreck.

Days Of Future Passed

     How many of us really know what’s going on?  The Field is vast, we are small.  Historical motifs affect us.  Economic motifs affect us.  Political motifs affect us.  While Dewey slept now soundly, now fitfully the drama of Duelin’ Dalton Daggers swirled around his existence.

     Trueman’s mother had not informed him she would not be home.  She had done him a disservice and a psychological injury but had she been in town what might have been the result?  She and her husband Tuistad would have been at work.  Louis would have been at school.  If, groggy from being roused from his weary sleep Dewey had been confronted by the madman Duelin’ Dalton Dagger at his door what might have been the result?

      It is one of those questions that can never be answered.  Suffice it to say the result would not have been pleasant for Dewey.  Thus by a peculiar twist of fate Dewey avoided the necessity of a Response to what would have been a very difficult Challenge.

page 1910.

    

 

 

 

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII: The Heart Of The Matter

Clip 9

by

R.E. Prindle

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

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

     ‘Oh my god!’ He ejaculated.

     ‘What?’ Lips asked.

     ‘Do you see that sailor over there?’

     ‘Yes.”

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

     ‘You don’t say?’

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

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

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

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

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

page 1681.

     ‘Five hundred?  Supposed to be a thousand.’

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

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

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

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

     While Showbaby was pattering on Lips was harassing Trueman.

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

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

page 1682.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hyperion To A Satyr

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

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

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

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

     ‘Bay City, Michigan?’  Dewey asked incredulously.

     ‘That’s right.’

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

     ‘I know.’  Dalton replied mysteriously.

page 1684.

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

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

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

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

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

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

page 1685.

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

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

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

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

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

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

page 1686

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

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

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

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

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

page 1687.

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

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

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

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

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

page 1688.

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

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

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

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

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

page 1689.

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

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

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

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

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

page 1690

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

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

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

page 1691.

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

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

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

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

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

page 1692.

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

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

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

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

page 1693

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

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

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

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

page 1694.

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

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

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

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

Page 1695.

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

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

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

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

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

     Trueman was a little too cool for Dagger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

page 1697.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

page 1698

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

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

     ‘How’s that?’  Dalton asked maliciously.

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

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

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

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

     ‘I have.’

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

     ‘Couple weeks ago.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Who and what for?’

page 1699

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

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

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

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

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

page 1700.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

page 1701

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

page 1702.

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

     ‘Listen to the way this baby purrs.’

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

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

     ‘Don’t know.  Are you a mechanic?’

     ‘Damn right I am.  The best.  There ain’t nothing I can’t fix in a car.  Nothin’.’

     ‘Guess you take care of all the loose ends; nothin’ you don’t know?  You’re a magno expert no doubt.’

     ‘I am.  Oh sh…, look at that guage.’

     ‘Oh, you can read guages too?’

     ‘You bet, buddy.  This one tells me I’m going to have to stop for gas pretty quick.’

     ‘OK.  Go ahead, you’ve got my permission.’

     ‘I don’t gotta have your permission but I gotta have five for gas.  Give me five for your share.’

     ‘Give you five for my share of what?’

page 1703.

     ‘Five dollars for your share of gas, wise ass.’  Dalton said indignantly.

     ‘There’s something you probably failed to notice when you picked me up, Mastermind, I’m a hitchhiker.  I don’t have five dollars and I don’t share expenses.  If I wanted to pay I would be on a bus and I wouldn’t have to put up with you.  You had a chance to get rid of me back in Needles but you like my company so much you threatened me if I got out of the car.  If you’re tired of me I’ll get out at the gas station.  OK?’

     ‘You got to have money.  Two hundred dollars.  In know it; where is it?’

     Dewey was struck with Dalton’s reference to the two hundred dollars but he didn’t betray it.  The mystery of the last several hours just got deeper.

    ‘Two hundred dollars?  You think I would hitchhike with that much money with guys like you on the road?  Hell, I could fly if I had that much.  Sorry Dagger, no money, I’m broke.’

     ‘How are you going to eat?’

     ‘I’m not.  I thought I could get back in forty-eight hours so there wouldn’t have been any need to eat but it doesn’t look like I’m going to make it.  I’ll probably be half dead before I get back.’

     Dalton smiled, looked out the driver’s side and muttered half under his breath:  ‘You’re going to be all dead.’

     Dalton had been told that Dewey would have two hundred dollars and that it would be his.  He considered it already his.  In his mind Dewey had an obligation to him for the money.

page 1704.

     ‘Where you got it?  In your shoe?’  He said as he eased the Olds back on the highway.

     ‘Don’t got it anywhere.’

     Dalton looked at Dewey warily.  Maybe the guy wasn’t such a chump after all, he thought.  Dalton had all the arrogance of the criminal mind.  No matter how many times they lose they think they’re smarter than all other brains combined.

     Yisreali had told him Dewey would have the money.  Dalton never questioned how Yisraeli would know, which of course, Yisraeli actually didn’t.  He was only guessing.  Convinced that the money was there which, as it turns out it was, Dalton wanted to know where he had it.

     It is a peculiarity of thieves that they must see the object of their desires before they can actually go after it.  Thus if Dalton actually saw the money and where Dewey kept it his mind would have been at ease.  There would be no possibility he couldn’t find it when he wanted it.

      Dewey who was no man of the world and not in the least bit devious kept his money where any self-respecting man kept it, in his billfold on his hip.  But Dalton, who, while not a man of the world but very devious, imagined the money was sewn into the lining of Dewey’s coat, pinned in some inaccessible place or concealed in a money belt or a shoe.  For Dewey there was only one place his money could be; for Dalton dozens including a false bottom to Dewey’s duffel bag.  Dalton just didn’t know where to start looking.  Well, nobody said that just because thieving was dishonest it would be easy.

page 1705.

     As Dalton was devising phrasing less obvious than:  ‘Where’s the money?’ they arrived at a fork in the road.  As the inimitable Mr. Berra said:  ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’  The boys fully intended to do that but there was the question of which tine to follow.  The signs on the highway indicated that if they went left they would reach the town of Flagstaff; Phoenix lay at the end of the right tine.

     As Dalton was planning Dewey’s murder which ever way they went he thought generously to offer him the choice of roads.

     ‘Which way do you want to go?  Phoenix or Flagstaff?’

     As much as a turn to the left distressed Dewey he had seen enough desert in the Mojave so that the prospect of hundreds of miles more was not very appetizing.  The very name of Flagstaff had so much romantic appeal for him that there was really no contest.

     In his youth he had written a story centered around his imagined concept of the town.  Later he had read a great story in one of the Western pulps of a guy stuck in a cabin in Flagstaff during a snowstorm of such magnitude that it made Noah’s flood look like an April shower.

     This guy had the misfortune to have to go potty during this twenty or thirty footer.  No indoor plumbing obviously but the guy had been brought up well.  Rather than let fly out the back door into the snowbank where his impropriety would have melted with the Spring thaw he felt obligated to trek out to the outhouse which miraculously had somehow not been buried beneath the drifts.

page 1706.

     Here’s the tough part of the story.  Although he could see through the driving snow well enough to find his way to the outhouse he somehow couldn’t find his way back to the cabin.  Perhaps his mission had been more urgent on the out trip than on the return.

     Overcome by God only knows what exhaustion, altitude sickness, whatever, he falls to the ground where he turns into a solid block of ice instantaneously.  When the snow did melt that Spring they found the poor sod with his head only inches from the threshhold.  There had been a heavy moral to the story but Dewey lost it in the welter of details.

     You know how it is, some inconsequential stories live on vividly in the memory.  Dewey wanted to see a legendary snowstorm.  This was the middle of December so he imagined or hoped that one was raging at this very moment.  Without hesitation he said:  ‘Flagstaff.’  and thereby for reasons irrelevant to his situation made the decision as will become clear that saved his life.

     ‘Do you believe in fate?’  Dalton asked portentously.

     Just at that moment the voice of Tex Ritter burst from the radio.  Tex had a voice that commanded attention so conversation was suspended for a moment.

Tex sang:

If the ocean was whisky

And I was a duck,

I’d dive to the bottom

And never come up.

But the ocean ain’t whiskey

And I ain’t a duck.

So I’ll play Jack O’ Diamonds

And trust to my luck.

page 1707

     ‘That’s what I believe.’  Dewey said pointing at the radio.

     ‘You’re a drinker?’  Dalton asked thickly for whom the conditional was an incomprehensible mystery.

     ‘Aw, Dalton.  I think you’re missing the philosophy of the thing.’

     ‘What’s that?’  The Mastermind asked stupidly.

     Dewey could see the man was hopeless; he decided to shine him on a little.  ‘Old Philosopher.  Good Bourbon label, don’t you think?’

     ‘Uh, no, I drink Jack Daniels, Black.’  Dalton replied proudly.  ‘There ain’t nobody doesn’t think JD ain’t the best bourbon.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Well, Jack Daniels isn’t bourbon; it’s Tennessee Sour Mash sippin’ Whiskey.’

     ‘It’s bourbon.’

     ‘Doesn’t make that claim on the bottle.  Read it.’

     As they began the climb to Flagstaff night was coming on.  As they climbed and night fell it grew colder and colder.  Dalton turned on the heater.

     He continued to question Dewey about his money.  As the time came closer to the moment he had decided to act he became more proprietary toward his intended sacrifice.  Like many a murderer he thought his intended victim belonged to him.  He was foolish enough to let it show.

page 1708.

     Dewey had no notion that Dagger actually intended to murder him but it seemed clear that Dalton intended to rob him and leave him standing by the side of the road.  Dewey thought a show of force might be beneficial so he reached in his pocket to withdraw his pearl handled Japanese knife with the long thin blade.

     Dalton watched eagerly thinking Dewey was going to show him the money.  The pin on the blade was so worn that in one motion Dewey withdrew the knife and flipped it open like a switchblade.

     Dalton thought it was one.  He developed a pensive brow.  He didn’t like it but he saw it merely as an obstacle requiring greater caution.

     A sign on the highway pointed to Flagstaff.

     ‘Oh darn.’  Dewey said.  ‘I hoped we would go through Flagstaff.  I wanted to see it.  I guess it’s off the highway.’  Then he said something incomprehensible to Dalton.  ‘Shucks, there isn’t even any snow on the ground.’

     Dagger decided it was time to act.

     Now, if you believed Dalton back there in the Mojave when he said he fought the Sergeant and Rivers fair and square you were just as gullible as the rest.  Dalton was as fond of the bushwhack as any American male.  He had blindsided the Sergeant and bopped Rivers over the head from behind.  He didn’t intend to give Dewey a chance either.

     ‘Oh, I’m so tired.’  Dalton said stifling a false yawn.

page 1709.

     ‘What say we pull off on a side road and get some sleep.’

     So long as they were heading East at eighty per Dewey was content fo humor Dalton complacently so that Dalton thought Dewey was a very placid harmless sort of guy.  At his suggestion of stopping it was Dewey’s turn to fly into a rage.

     ‘Oh no you don’t.  Are you crazy, Dagger?  What the hell are you talking about, pull over?  I’m already fifty-eight hours on the road.’  He said bitterly thinking of Teal Kanary.  ‘I’m not going to stop.  You leave the road and you let me out here or, by god, you’ll learn the reason why.’

     Dalton was startled by the outburst, even intimidated.

     ‘I’m getting too tired to drive.’  He whined.

     ‘Then pull over and let me behind the wheel.  I’ll drive and you can get in the back to sleep.’

     ‘You don’t have a license.’

    ‘Since when does a guy like you worry about laws, eh, killer?  You don’t need a license to drive, old desperado, you only need a license to show a cop.  I haven’t seen a cop since the Needles.

     ‘I’m not going to let you drive my car.’

     ‘Then shut up, keep driving and turn on the heater, it’s cold in here.’  Dewey said flipping out his knife for emphasis.

     ‘The heater is on.’  Dalton whined who, they both realized, had been shivering in his short sleeve canned pea green shirt for some time.

     ‘Then why is it so cold?’  Dewey asked drawing his coat about him.

page 1710

     ‘I don’t know.’  The master mechanic wondered.

     ‘Oh, hey, wow, look at that.’  Dewey said noticing an elevation sign.  ‘We’re at seven thousand feet.  I didn’t know Flagstaff was up that high.’

     ‘Oh my god.’  Dalton gasped as he realized why there was no heat.

     ‘Oh my god, what?’  Dewey replied nonchalantly.

     ‘Oh Jesus.’ 

     ‘Oh my god, oh Jesus what?  Come on, if you’re cold get a jacket out of your trunk and let’s keep going.’

    ‘My car’s froze up.’

     ‘What do you mean your car’s froze up?  What does that mean?  How could that be?’

     ‘Damn you.  You wanted to come this way.  it’s all your fault.  If we’d gone by way of Phoenix this wouldn’t have happened.  At seven thousand feet it’s probably zero outside.’

     ‘So what?’

     ‘My radiator froze.  That’s why there’s no heat.’

     ‘How could that be Dagger?’   It’s not so cold that anti-freeze freezes.’

     ‘I don’t have any anti-freeze.’  Dalton said sheepishly.

     ‘Dewey was flabbergasted.  ‘No anti-freeze?  Why not?’

     ‘It wasn’t cold in LA.  I didn’t need it.’

     Dewey sat back.  He knew it was too good to be true.  What a miracle it had seemed to get a ride straight through.  He now saw himself back out on the highway.

page 1711.

     ‘Hey Dalton.’  He said with false warmth in his voice.  ‘Let me get this straight.  Number one, you’re a master mechanic who knows everything there is to know about a car.  Number two, you’re from Bay City, you grew up there, you know it’s colder than an ice cube at the North Pole and you tell me that because it’s warm in LA, even though you’re going to Bay City in December that you don’t put anti-freeze in your car?’

     ‘Oh man, I was trying to save money.’

     ‘Boy, you’re a lot more stupid than I thought.  So what’s going to happen?  Is the car going to stop running?’

     ‘No.  It’ll be OK until it warms up and melts, then the radiator and probably my block will burst and it will overheat.  Then we’ll stall.’

     ‘My advice  then is to turn North.  Keep it frozen and we’ll be alright.’  Dewey said facetiously and maliciously.

     ‘Don’t be facetious.’  Dalton said.

     ‘Oho, don’t be facetious.  The desperado, Duelin’ Dalton Dagger knows a polysyllabic big word.’

     Dalton, now that he realized there was no possibility of heat realized he was very cold.  He also didn’t want to murder Dewey in this circumstance.  He might be stuck out there alone.  Dewey’s desire to see Flagstaff had saved his life.  Thanks to a story in a pulp magazine read seven years before he was still alive.

     ‘God, I’m cold.  Let me have your coat to wear.’

     ‘Why would I do that?  Then I’d be cold-er.’

     ‘You’ve got that wool shirt.’  Dalton said referring to Dewey’s middie.

page 1712.

     ‘Well, Dagger, just stop and get a jacket out of the trunk.’

     ‘I don’t have a jacket in the trunk.  I don’t have anything in the trunk.  This shirt is all I’ve got.’

     ‘What?  You’re going to Michigan in the dead of winter and all you’ve got to wear is that short sleaved pea green shirt with the frill on the sleeve?  It’s even a terrible color.  I wouldn’t have mentioned it otherwise.’  Dewey said in disbelief.

     ‘Yes.  I thought the heater would keep me warm.’

     ‘Without anti-freeze?  OK.  Given your intelligence or lack thereof, I guess I can accept that.’

     ‘You going to let me wear your coat?’

     ‘Hell no, Dagger, you’ll have to freeze.’

     Dalton stared glumly ahead as he drove shiveringly through the night.  Fortunately the radiator freezing didn’t affect the radio so as they rolled down the mountain in the black starlit night the voice of Hank Snow warmed the atmosphere if not the temperature as he sang with seeming sardonic intent:

The Last Ride.

In the Dodge City yards of the Santa Fe

Stood a freight made up for the East.

And the Engineer with his oil and waste

Was grooming his great iron beast.

While ten cars back in the murky dusk

A boxcar door swung wide.

And a hobo lifted his pal aboard

To start on his last ride.

A lantern swung and the freight pulled out

The Engineer gathered speed.

The Engineer pulled his throttle out

And clucked to his fiery steed.

Tens cars back in the empty box

The hobo rolled a pill.

The flare of the match

Showed his partner’s face

Stark white and deathly still.

As the train wheels clicked 

Over the coupling joints,

A song for a Rambler’s ear,

The hobo talked to the still white form

His pal for many a year.

(Spoken)

For a mighty long time we rambled Jack

With the luck of men that roam,

With the back door stoop for a dining room

And a boxcar for a home.

We dodged the bulls on the Eastern route

And the cops on the Chesapeake.

We traveled the Leadville narrow gauge

In the days of Cripple Creek.

We drifted down through Sunny Cal

On the rails of the old SP,

Of all that you had through good and bad

a half always belonged to me.

You made me promise Jack,

That if I lived and you cashed in,

To take you back to the old churchyard

And bury you there with your kin.

You seemed to know I would keep my word,

For you said that I was white.

Well, I’m keepin’ my promise to you Jack,

‘Cause I’m takin’ you there tonight.

I didn’t have the money to send you there

So I’m takin’ you back on the fly.

It’s a decent way for a ‘bo to go

Home to the bye and bye.

I knew that fever had you Jack,

But that doctor just wouldn’t come.

He was too busy treatin’ the wealthy folks

To doctor a worn out bum.

(Sung)

As the train rode over the ribbons of steel

Straight to the East it sped.

The Engineer in his high capped seat

Kept his eyes on the rails ahead.

While ten cars back in the empty box

The lonely hobo sighed.

For the days of old

And his pal so cold

Who was taking his long Last Ride.

page 1715.

     Dewey had been listening with concentration so he didn’t hear Dalton when at the line ‘Takin’ you back to the old churchyard’ Dagger turned to the window to mutter ‘except you ain’t goin’ to see no churchyard.’

     ‘Boy, don’t you think that’s great.’  Dewey said in wonder.

     ‘What’s so great about it?’  Said the dull witted uncomprehending sluggard.

     ‘Well, I mean, there’s the romance of it.  All those fantastic references to the Leadville narrow gauge in the days of Cripple Creek…’

     ‘What’s a Leadville narrow gage doin’ in a Cripple Creek?’  Dalton asked suspiciously fearful Dewey might know something he didn’t.

     Dalton was on pretty safe ground because although Dewey knew what a narrow gauge railway was and he knew Leadville was in Colorado the rest was pretty well encompassed by romance.  It sounded sensational to him.  He ignored Dalton’s question.

     ‘…well, you know, what I mean is it’s the romance of the rails.  Besides Hank Snow can get more words into a three minute song than anyone I know.  The guy who wrote that song is easily as good as Robert Service or Thayer.  I mean, that’s just a nice verse story.’

     ‘Shut up.’  Dalton said unceremoniously.

     Little did Dewey know he was rolling down the great divide between the old America and the new.  The railroad song was already a thing of the past; next up were truckin’ songs about the great Interstates.

     And so the driver with the man in the passenger’s seat pierced the night with their bright head lights while they bid the coast goodbye without a sigh to head for the old Northwest.  They sped on down the mountainside to a destiny on the other side.

     The faint flimmer of pre-dawn light rose to reveal a desert covered with sage brush.  As the light increased the ribbon of highway called 66 was visible as a narrow line far below.  As rosy fingered dawn revealed the earth in all its glory far in the distance perhaps a hundred miles away, or maybe more, the city of Albuquerque was revealed against the opposing mountain range.

     ‘Must be in New Mexico.’  Dewey said in awe just to pronounce the sacred name of a State.

     ‘Must be.’  Dalton said between clenched shivering teeth although the temperature had risen significantly with the desert and the dawn.

     They rolled on down to rejoin Highway 66.

     Dalton had developed a cold throbbing hatred for Dewey over the last six frigid hours.  While Dalton was still throwing off the chills in his canned pea green short sleeved shirt with the frilly cuff Dewey had been comfortable  for hours in his rain coat.

     As Dalton warmed so did his engine.  The needle of his heat gauge rising inexorably toward the red.  Dalton lamented the impending loss of his car but worse still he deeply lamented his failure to put anti-freeze in the radiator which allowed Dewey to justly call him stupid.  He felt stupid.  He hated Dewey even more because he knew he was stupid.  But as with all people who are foiled in their hopes by an able opponent he felt grudging admiration for Trueman.  Dalton felt that it was a shame he had to die.

page 1717.

     Dalton glimmered that his best opportunity had passed up on the mountain.  He hoped his car might not be so damaged that it couldn’t be repaired for not too many dollars.  If that came about then, he thought, it would be a matter of who could stay awake the longest.

     As the sun levitated up the sky the bitter cold of night left Dalton’s limbs.  Dalton bitterly resented that Dewey hadn’t lent him his coat.  Dewey couldn’t believe that anyone going to Michigan in the winter wouldn’t have the foresight to provide himself with the proper gear.  Dewey substituted the word ‘foresight’ for ‘stupid’ and used it with enough emphasis to irritate Dalton.

     Dalton redoubled his efforts to discover where Dewey had concealed his cash.

     Entering Albuquerque he devised a ploy.  He needed gas but he knew Dewey wouldn’t give him money for that.  A little grocery store sat across the street from the gas station he selected.

     ‘I’m hungry.  While they’re gassing me up let’s go over to that grocery store to get something to eat.’

     ‘Go ahead.  Get something for me.’

     ‘OK.  Give me the money.’

page 1718.

     ‘I don’t have any money.  I just thought it would be a nice gesture if you bought something for me.  Kind of show your appreciation for my pleasant company, you know what I mean,  after all we’ve been through together and all that.  I’d think you were an OK guy.  That’s worth something isn’t it?’

     ‘Not that much and I’m not that OK.  Go hungry.’

     Dalton crossed to the grocery store.  As he did Dewey stepped to the side of the highway to put his thumb out.  Futile gesture as there was no morning traffic.

     Dalton emeged from the store to become enraged.  He saw his two hundred dollars trying to escape.

     ‘Hey Trueman, get your ass back in the car.’  Dalton shouted sternly to the astonishment of various loungers and attendants.

     ‘Listen Dagger, your car’s finished.  I’m catching another ride.

     ‘Oh no you’re not.’  Dalton said shifting his food to his left hand and doubling up his right threateningly.  ‘Get back in the car.’

     ‘Even you aren’t stupid enough to get in a fight in a strange town.  Or are you Dagger?  Cops’ll put you right back in the jug you stupid jarhead; only a psycho would answer an ad for a few good men.  That you got sent to the brig doesn’t mean that you’re a better man it means that you’re even more stupid and psycho than the rest.  Dig it!’

     Dalton was hurt.  Strangely instead of getting angry he broke out in a little pout thrusting his lower lip out and bringing his eyebrows down over his eyes.

page 1719.

     Seeing Dewey’s contempt it began to dawn on him that the hothouse atmosphere begun in Barstow the previous day had evaporated.  He didn’t want to admit that he had lost the opportunity but he realized that conditions had changed.

     ‘My car still runs good.  We’ll get there.  Come on.  Hop in.  It’s OK.’

     ‘Well, there’s water dripping out under there.  You’ll probably overheat and die on the highway.’

     ‘No, I won’t.  It’s OK.  Honest.  Come on.’

     Acting on the premise that a sure ride is better than a potential ride Dewey got back in the car.

     Surprisingly the damage to the car wasn’t that bad, which is to say, it was a slow leak rather than a rapid drain.  Dalton kept it at eighty per through Tucumcari and into the Panhandle of Texas.  As the day warmed up out on the Texas plains the car slowly pegged in the red.

     By the time they reached Amarillo Dalton had slowed to fifty for the last seventy miles or so.  Even then the engine wasn’t that hot; there was no blast of heat coming through the fire wall.  The car could be repaired very cheaply.

     As they passed through Amarillo Dalton became increasingly concerned.  Tired of and Dalton and his incessant clamoring to know where his money was Trueman informed the ex-Marine that if he couldn’t do eighty he was getting out.

     Thinking of Trueman only as an additional twenty-five hundred Dalton didn’t know which to lament more the loss of his car or Trueman’s price.

1720. 

     Just on the East side of Amarillo a combination auto repair and junkyard appeared on the North side of the road.

    ‘Better pull in there Dagger.  Once we’re out of Amarillo there won’t be any better places.’

     Incoherent with despair Dalton pulled in.

     The Olds was a very good looking car for a ’53.  The body was sound.  The engine was great.  Dalton had an excellent choice is a used car.  Actually the only think wrong with it was a couple seals had burst.  The mechanic’s eyes lit up as Dalton bounced steaming unto their lot.  They gave him two choices; overpay or leave the car.

     Like all men who work cars for a living they pretended that they didn’t know what was wrong with the car.  Could be next to nothing could be the engine.

     ‘It’s the radiator.’  Dalton said with assurance.  ‘I know all about cars; more than you guys do.  How much for a used one?’

     ‘Hmm.  ’53 Olds.  We don’t have a junker on the lot just now.  We’d have to check around for a rebuilt one.  Hmm.  Might take a couple days to find one.’

     ‘Couple days!;  Dewey cried, slapping Dalton on the shoulder of his pea green shirt.  ‘I’m in a hurry.  Thanks for the lift Dalton.  So long.’

     Dewey crossed the highway with a sense of relief to put his thumb out.

    ‘Hey…hey…you…can’t…come back.  You can’t do that.’

     Dewey was worth twenty-five hundred to Dalton while the war was only worth a couple hundred so he quickly opted for Trueman.

page 1721.

     ‘What are you doing, trying to get away?  You listen to me.’

     While Dewey had always suspected his danger he now realized the extent of that danger.

     ‘Trying to get away?  What the hell are you talking about Dagger?  Your car’s dead and I’m not waiting two days to fix it.  Screw you.’

     ‘Yeah?  Well, listen Trueman, we’re together.  From here on we’re hitchin’ together.’

     ‘What? Are you crazy Dagger?  Nobody’s going to give two guys a ride.  I’m not going to spend weeks out here just because your car broke down.  Didn’t even break down.  You’re so stupid you didn’t put anti-freeze in it because it was warm in L.A.’

     Dalton knew Dewey had a good argument; no one would pick both of them up.  He tried a last expedient.

     ‘Well, OK. Now listen, I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do.  You’ve got your uniform on so it’s going to be a lot easier for you to get a ride than me.  So, I’m going up ahead of you by a couple hundred feet and when anybody stops to pick you up if you don’t tell them to pick me up too when I get to the Valley I’m going to look you up and kill you.’

     Dewey did believe Duelin’ Dalton Dagger.  He was convinced that Dalton would try to kill him but he mistakenly believed Dalton would never be able to find him.  His mother had divorced and remarried so that even if Dalton knew his name he didn’t know his mother’s.  By that time Dewey thought Dagger was really psycho and might a way anyway.

page 1722.

     ‘Oh yeah, sure Dagger, no problem.’  Dewey promised as Duelin’ Dalton Dagger took up a position up road.  He stood there glaring menacingly at Trueman poised to run after him should the sailor try to run the other way.

     No sooner had they taken up position than a ’48 Hudson pulled over to pick Dewey up.

     Dewey wasn’t worried that Dalton would find him in the Valley but there was many a mile yet between him and his destination.  It was entirely possible Dewey surmised that Dalton might overtake him further up the road.

     This presented a danger for while Dewey had the foresight to realize the consequences of his actions Dalton didn’t.  Therefore, Dewey reasoned, if Dalton overtook him and Dewey wouldn’t cooperate the idiot was liable to start a fight and maybe get them both arrested.  He thought it expedient to attempt to appease Dalton.

     As he got in the back seat of the Hudson he was relieved to find most of the seat was already taken up by boxes of various description.  The two guys in front were so big there was no room for the ex-Marine.

     ‘Say, could you do me a favor and let the guy up there know there isn’t room for him?’

     ‘We’re not going to stop.’

     ‘I know.  Just shrug your shoulders and hold up your hands helplessly or something so he’ll know I tried.

page 1723.

     Killers On The Highway

     Dewey settled back in his seat and began to take note of himself.  He began to examine what now appeared to be a pile of junk beside him while the passenger reached his left hand over the seat clutched like he was picking up an old rag:  ‘I’m sorry we couldn’t pick up your friend but we’re moving and there’s only room for one.’

     ‘Thanks for stopping.  That guy wasn’t any friend of mine.  His car burnt out.  If you can believe it he’s going to Michingan and didn’t put anti-freeze in his car because it was warm in L.A.  Car froze up in Flagstaff last night.  Threatened to kill me if I didn’t ask you to stop.’

     ‘Kill you?  My, that’s violent.  Do you think he would have?’

     ‘I think he’d try.  Wouldn’t get very far with me though.  How far are you going?

page 1724.

     ‘We may take you as far as Tulsa.’

     ‘Oh great.’  Dewey said having no inkling of how many miles that was.

     ‘Yes.’  Said the man in the passenger seat whose name was Daryl.  ‘But.’  Daryl added significantly.  ‘We’re going to leave the highway here soon and take an alternate route.  We will drop you off here if you like or you can ride with us on the side road.’

     Dewey heaved a sigh at this sinister note.  His intuition told him to get out.  They had put him in the back seat which might have meant only that they thought three in the front seat of the huge Hudson might be crowded or it could be meant as a sign of disrespect.

     Daryl had shaken hands with his left which in common parlance meant ‘left hand to a nigger or inferior.’  Now they were to take a less traveled road giving him the option to extricate himself or by staying giving permission to do with him as they liked.  Dewey had hitched enough to read signs either on or off the highway.  There was danger with the homos before and danger behind him in the person of Dalton Dagger.

     If he got out of the car on 66 there was the real risk that Dalton might overtake him in a matter of minutes.

     ‘Christ.’  Dewey thought.  ‘Dagger would give up his ride just to get me.’

     Dalton had threatened to kill him while these guys hadn’t although as a pair of queens, big strong ones at that, anything was possible.

page 1725.

     ‘Well, you’re still going to Tulsa?  I mean, you know, the road…’

     ‘Oh yes, the road we’ll drive crosses 66 in Tulsa.’

     ‘Well, OK.  I’ll ride along with you.

     It will be noticed that Daryl didn’t ask Dewey how far he was going.  That was because he thought he knew how far Dewey was going and that was one hundred miles short of Tulsa.

     Highway 66 was a not very wide two laner before the Interstate and the new road was narrower and rougher than that.  As Darrel, the driver, eased the car North of the highway into this cowpath Dewey had misgivings.  He didn’t know it but by not getting out he had given the Darrels permission to kill him.  In their mind they had given Dewey his chance to live or die.  They were fair men.  Since he hadn’t gotten out he had consented to acquiesce in the homos’ plan.

     As it was Dewey was completely disoriented.  He had been up so long that, while the nervous tension of the journey prevented his being drowsy, his reactions were somewhat impaired.  In addition the novelty of his surroundings completely threw him.  He had lost a sense of time and place.  He knew it was daytime because the sun was shining but that was all.

     He was unaware that he had been given a princely lift but it was about four hundred miles from Amarillo to Tulsa which is not a ride to sniff at.  Dewey had a good map of the United States in his head.  He knew where Tulsa was in relation to Chicago and back to L.A. but he had no real notion of mileages.

page 1726.

     He hadn’t even looked at a map before he left San Diego so he had little idea of the physical realities of distances between cities.  He had known where California was and he knew where Michigan was so he just put his thumb out.  In a lot of ways Dewey was a boy wonder.

     Looking again at the pile of junk beside him he noticed that there were some things piled on top a large box that was covered with a black cloth.  He rapped the box with his knuckles; it seemed to be made of wood and empty.

    ‘Hmmm, the box is empty.’  He mused apprehensively to himself.  Why would anyone who was moving transport an empty box?’

     Recalling him from his reverie Daryl said:  ‘You’re real lucky to get a ride in Oklahoma.  You will have a real difficult time East of Tulsa.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  How’s that?’

     ‘Just a few days ago a family- mother, father, brother and sister- picked up a hitchhiker.  I guess they liked him because they took him home, fed him and everything.  What do you think he did?’

     ‘I don’t know.  Passed gas?’  Dewey snickered in a feeble attempt at humor.

     ‘No, silly.’  Daryl laughed slapping the air at him.  ‘He murdered the whole family and threw them down a well.’

page 1727.

     ‘Oh wow!’  Dewey said disbelievingly.  ‘Did they catch him?’ 

     ‘I don’t think they have yet.  He’s still a killer on the loose.’  Daryl said rolling the phrase on his tongue as though to make its flavor last.

     ‘Likely story.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘Just my luck to be passing through at this time.’

     ‘Well, I’m not going to kill anyone kind enough to give me a ride.’  Dewey said thinking to reassure them in case they were worried.

     ‘No.  I should think not.’  Daryl continued.  ‘But it isn’t only people that pick up hitchhikers that get killed.  Lots of hitchhikers get killed too.’  Daryl turned a flabby cheek toward Dewey over the back of the seat and looked at him signficantly.

     There was that hint of violence again.  All the details were pointing to something sinister.

     ‘Gosh, what is this?’  thought Dewey.  ‘Why is my life constantly hopping out of the frying pan into the fire?’

     He began to study the two Ds more attentively.

     He was in a precarious situation at the same time more or less dangerous than his situation with Dalton Dagger.  In point of fact the Darrels cruised this stretch of highway from Amarillo to Tulsa picking up hitchhikers who were subsequently never heard from again.

     They had explained the pile of junk beside Dewey as belongings they were transferring to a new address.  Thinking they were pitiful small belongings for two such large men Dewey had said noting but he was still wondering why they were transporting an empty box.

page 1728.

     Dewey had been right in his surmise that they were two old queens.  The men were deeply psychically injured.  As Homosexuals it was almost a miracle they had found each other because both had been injured in exactly the same way at exactly the same age and both had reacted in exactly the same way even to physical type.  They were like Tweedledee and Tweedledum except their names were spelled Daryl and Darrel.

     Both were large men; six foot three, husky running to fat and very strong.  They had huge arms; they could bend an iron bar.  Their prissy manner contrasted with their apprearances.  Their affectation of the feminine was grotesque in their persons.  They might have passed as twins but they had only gone to the same school in different places.

     Both had been sexually abused by their fathers while still in their cribs.  They had been only sixteen months old.  There was no possibility that they had a conscious memory of it but they had subconsciously processed the information and as they grew their subconsciouses had directed them in the same way.

     They keenly felt their violations as a breach of trust.  Thus they had cruised the highway of a weekend for the last two years looking for hitchhikers who would be grateful and trusting.

     When they found the right person they would activate the central childhood fixation of their violation.  Both men possessed two distinct minds.  A very powerful subconscious and a feeble conscious mind.  When they murdered the subconscious mind was in control.  Unlike Richard Speck who was aware but unconcerned at what he was doing the Darrels had no conscious memory of their crimes.  You could have questioned them to doomsday on a conscious level and they would truthfully have denied any knowledge of the murders.

page 1729.

     But, if you had known the symbols n which their subconscious minds dealt with their activities there is no chance that they wouldn’t have told you all in symbolical language.  After all, subconsciously they did not know they were doing wrong.  They were only doing symbolically to others what had been done to them.  For if they had had their trust betrayed in an identical manner and no one had been punished for wrongdoing why should they?  And there is a symbolic death and even an actual psychological death or murder in the violation of one male by another.  After one’s symbolic murder the whole of one’s life becomes an extended effort to ressurect oneself at the expense of others.  Not only others but preferably innocent others just as one’s self had been innocent.

      The most brilliant literary evocation of the homosexual dilemma is in the final scene  of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

     In that scene which takes place on the great wide bosom of the ocean, or feminine symbol of the unconscious Capt. Ahab has confronted the great white whale of homosexuality and lost.  Now, Moby Dick is a story of a man’s or, several different men’s, struggle with their homosexuality which takes place on many levels.  Ahab himself has lost a leg, a substitute for his penis, to the great white penis, Moby Dick, which is a symbol of the cause of his homosexuality.

page 1730.

Next

 

A Review Of The Novel

The Sonderman Constellation

by

R.E. Prindle

Review by David A. Adams

The Sonderman Constellation by R. E. Prindle, 210 pages iUniverse, 2008.  14.95.

 

     Sooner or later we all have the task of reconciling our childhood pasts with an adult present.  Most do it by living through the ordeals, then promptly forgetting the painful slings and arrows, or, as Freud would have it, by burying the past in a more or less comfortable neurosis we learn to live with this side of a more destructive psychosis.

     In “The Sonderman Constellation,”  R.E. Prindle manages to pull us through the ordeal of childhood and early manhood kicking and screaming at each of the forces that somehow make us what we are.  The novel is a Bildungsroman that drives full speed through a Freudian slash Jungian analysis of his early years in a fictional account of what made the man who he is today.

     Even though the author disclaims a direct relationship the various personas found between the lines, the masks are familiar ones, which makes the story ring true.  Even though the canvas is framed within the terms of the various psychologies of both Freud and Jung, the picture is a a large one, showing a subtle mind at work.

     At times, I wish that Prindle had simply told us the story without the constant battering of Jungian terminology.  It is a compelling story that could stand on its own without psychoanalyzing each step of the way.  Hesse did this over and over again in each of his novels, even though he was writing within a similar Jungian framework.  However, it does give us an interesting account of a strong self-analysis that is quite remarkable.

     Yet, I must admit the story is more than a simple case-study.  The fictional writing is strong enough to overcome what might seem to be an uncomfortable dragging by the hooks of psychological terminology.  The “Constellation” of the story is what one might call in Jungian terms, a “complex” – all those events of a life that center around a certain problem, or in this case a person, who happens to be the “Sonderman.”

     Sonderman is an obsession of sorts, a boy, and later a man who both truly is and truly symbolizes a constellation about which the narrator’s life circles.  There are other “constellations” or personas in this story, all all of them meet and sometimes collide like wandering stars as the story turns upon its fictional orbits.  We are drawn along by the gravitational vortices of these lives and hopefully come out the other end of this intergalactic worm-hole through a life of a novel the better for the ride.

 

Availabe from amazon.com, Barnes And Noble, Alibris, abebooks and other online sellers.

The Sonderman Constellation

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Foreword

 

A dream. A recollection. Dreams and thoughts. Dreams and thoughts expressed as symbols. The individual human mind being a part of society and an historical continuum seeks symbols to express an unutterable reality, thus a common set of symbols expresses the common problems that humans have. Isn’t that what Jung’s collective unconscious really is, just a common dreamscape where everything is commuted into universal symbolism? I think so.

What is the greatest repository of psychological symbolism in the world? Don’t you think it’s Greek mythology? There is certainly no lack of interest in the Greek myths. Greek mythology is one of the most active topics on the internet; not only are there many sites but many active sites, sites constructed with loving and reverent care. And why not? Greek mythology is the largest repository of psychological symbolism in the world and by far the most profound. The significance of the Bible pales in comparison.

The Sonderman Constellation is placed within the framework of that body of profound thought. The ordinary events in a boy’s life take on cosmic significance.

The construction of the Sonderman is somewhat unusual. As the novel is meant to present a reality from within the mental workings of one mind and one mind only the logic it follows is personal but intelligible. The narrator has an identity only in his own mind. In that state he is trying to make contact with yours. That is what a good novel does; flow from one mind to another. Cast in the form of a memoir the story is valid even though decades and even generations separate the story from the present.

The Unknown Narrator gropes for a way to make his life make sense to himself and you. You are he- he is you. Hence the prefatory motto ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ The Delphic credo: Know thyself. The two quotes delineate the story.

The second chapter- The Pyschonautica- is the most significant of the book. It is through the Greek foundations of psychology that the actions of the protagonists the Sondermans and the Hirshes become intelligible. It is through mythological symbolism that their minds are explored. Perhaps that is what Jung means by his term the collective unconscious.

Regardless of what the reader may think the author is not the Unknown Narrator. No matter how much the author envisions the past through his own lens he is not the Unknown Narrator, he who narrates things not exactly as they were but as they may have been. The persistence of memory is strong but it is impossible to recreate the reality. One might bear in mind the song: ‘Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away.’

Things suffer sea changes and become distorted by memory and yet it is still the sea and still memory. The narrator is narrating universal symbols and not specifics although specifics form the content of the symbols. This is a story of the collective unconscious.

The story elements are meaningful only in that context. The narrator in the first chapter attempts to give the story a setting within the framework of personal psychology and the manner in which the personal psychology relates to and incorporates the external world into his own mind; hence the chapter title: The Psychogenesis. The beginning of the psychosis.

The narrator is not the protagonist. His antagonists the Hirshes and Sondermans are. The narrator is just driftwood on the river buffeted by currents that he cannot resist.

The story will progress through to the full blown psychotic reactions of both the Narrator and Sonderman. No matter what crimes or nonsense are going on in the outside world the action is in the mind of the narrator and hence yours since he is carrying on a dialogue with you.

The second chapter- The Psychonautica- places the story within the context of the mythos, the collective unconscious. This is the key chapter of the book and the most popular as evidenced by the hits to my website: reprindle.wordpress.com.

Once the first two chapters provide the necessary background for the reader to properly evaluate the action, the last two chapters narrate the consequences, the development of the psychoses.

The story is played out in detail in Chapters III and IV. Chapter III -The Psychodramatica- tells of the Narrator’s preposterous journey through Junior High, the absurd adventures with Sonderman that end up with their apparent estrangement mid ninth grade.

The last chapter- The Psychoses- details the mad adventures in High School during which as the narrator develops intellectually he separates the external from the internal reality.

While the story takes place during 1950-56 the memories of the unconscious range back into the distant past and into the recent past that also shape the development of the Narrator’s mind while incorporating future events that show how his indoctrination finds expression. Dream waiting to be dreamt having been ordained by the psychological traumas of the past, present and future of both the Narrator and the collective.  There is nothing but memory within the collective unconscious.

The good news is that the story has as happy an ending as was possible; the bad news is that it was hell getting there.

When reading just let your mind drift through the story. Let the details add up until they form one continuum. By the second or third reading you will be learning the song and the tune.

As a musical reference, as I was writing, as a model for the story, I bore Pauline Olivero’s electronic piece titled I of IV in mind. It’s early electronic. I don’t recommend it; it’s not for everyone, but you can try it if you want. Steve Reich’s ‘Let the Bruise Blood Come Out’ is on the same record. Might have been an influence on the story too. We’ll never know.

Go to Chapter One of The Sonderman Constellation

 

A Short Story

Angeline Gower

by

R.E. Prindle

     As I have told you I have never had the blues.  But, as with the weather systems, tropical low pressure systems are of the most intense low pressure systems, so while I have never had the blues, I have flirted with the blues.  So it was on the evening in question.  A Pacific low pressure system was passing through bringing with it the steady splash and drips of its persistent rains.  The drops hit the skylight and roof with two distinct tones, answered by the drops pelting the windows and the gurgle of the runoff down the drainpipe.

     I stood in the dark looking out the windows at my own reflection suspended like a phantom on the glass.  The vision of myself stirred up memories from my past that haunted my mind just below the limes separated from conscious memory by an invisible but impenetrable barrier.  There lay those troubling ghosts that I had spent my life trying to exhume.  The suppressed memories, those most painful episodes in a troubled life, that dominated my consciousness from the beyond and directed my energies into unfruitful  channels.

     Loosing the spectres of the past was my preocupation.  I had long studied Freud and De Sade, self-analysis of my psyche had often nearly driven me mad, but how could I, how can I desist.  Our minds are on the beam of the same wavelength so I can tell you this without overt shame or embarrassment.

page 1.

     Reading, my usual refuge and solace, had failed me on this particular evening.  I had replaced on their shelves Athenian Propertied Families 600-300 B.C., Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds as well as Robertson Smith’s Religion Of The Semites.

     I opted for a bottle of scotch and some old phonograph records.  Now I’m not what you would call a drinker, and you know I’m not, but this night as I saw the Blues sitting on my couch batting her eyelids at me, I though I’d fortify myself with some protection and possibly open a door on one of those troublesome memories.  Aiming for lighter hearted frivolity I got out some old Louis Prima records and tried to lift my spirits.  Oh, of course I was amused by Josephina Please No Leana On Da Bell and Prima’s other amusing frivolities but as I sipped away at my scotch I found a need for more ineffable sadness.  Thus just as Louis was swinging into Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don’t Want To Leave The Congo, I levered the tone arm up and began digging through my collection for someone giving voice to their hurt.  I passed up Hank Snow and Webb Pierce because they don’t reach the area I was reaching for, although both are great singers of sad songs.

     Reaching down into the section labeled ‘Moaners’ I pulled up Jesse Winchester’s first LP and Mickey Newbury’s It Looks Like Rain.  Mick and Jesse knew enough about rain and pain to satisfy my desires.

     My bottle was half empty as my brain fogged up and the notion of lying down occurred to me.  The rain was still descending as I weaved toward the bedroom with the lyrics of Winchester’s Yankee Lady and Newbury’s pleas for his Angeline dancing around in my brain.  I had hopes, even in my sodden state, that my memories would be jostled around and one might come up.  One did.  I wish now that it never had.

page 2.

     I stood for a moment clutching the door jamb while trying to relocate my balance.  I had wanted to connect links with suffering humanity and I had.  I was feeling lower than a catfish on the bottom of the mouth of the Mississippi way down South in New Orleans.  I oriented myself in the direction of my bed and gave a shove.  With a deftness unplanned and of which I would not have thought myself capable I caught the covers up and in my fall actually slid between them.  I didn’t have to wait for sleep for Sleep took my head and slammed it into the pillow.  I disappeared into the abyss of oblivion.

      Sometimes, most of the time, sleep is never so deep that you’re unaware of your blood circulating or your hair growing or anyone of a number of physiological matters, but this night, probably because of the alcohol or possibly because of psychic exhaustion I slipped below the level in the abyss of oblivion where the sun had never penetrated.  If there had not been a bottom I would probably be falling yet.

     My exhaustion was psychic rather than physical.  After a couple of hours of total amnesia, my body sated with rest, the alcohol in my blood stream diminished but not yet dissipated set off discharges in my mind that lifted me from the pleasure of oblivion to the threshold of pain.  I lay there flickering in and out of consciousness until I reached a state that was half waking, half dozing.

page 3.

     I didn’t dream, but my liberated sub-conscious sent up images and images from my subliminal reservoirs faster than I could grasp them.  Just as I was about to recognize an image it fled before my mental grasping.  And then, I can’t explain it, it’s only happened twice in my life, my inner being, my doppel-ganger, my alter ego, that image of myself in the rain splattered window, that phantom who may be more real than myself, perhaps he is the guardian of my sanity, he who suppresses and hides my most painful memories; puts them in a place where they can’t harm me, transweaves the unpleasantnesses of life into a fabric that makes my life presentable, who didn’t, can’t make himself known, seemed to say, athough nothing could be heard:  ‘All right, you want to see?  Look!’

     Then, somewhere along the limes where my conscious and unconscious meet, a hatch, a skylight opened and I was shown, I don’t say I remember, but I was shown the worst moment of shame and sorrow I have ever known.  The guilt of a thoughtless and callous man rose up and took possession of me.  I let out a low moan.  It was too late to turn away.

     Don’t think badly of me.  It was my fault but I wasn’t entirely responsible, there were mitigating circumstances.  I’m sure you’ll agree once you know.  Let me tell you the story.  I’m sure you will find mitigation to soften your censure into a compassionate pity, empathy, or even sympathy.  Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

     I was eighteen, no, nineteen, when I committed that despicable act.  But let me begin the story much earlier so that you can understand much better.  No man can be understood without a knowledge of his childhood.  My own was not imbued with the vibrant and cheerful colors of happiness.  No, my friends, it was quite the reverse.  Nor do I seek your pity although I will not reject your sympathetic attention.  I have always been of the opinion that one must accept the situation in which one finds oneself and try to convert that dross into gold.  To shed our past like a caterpillar sheds his skin and emerge transformed into a newer better creation.  I hope when my life is over I will not have failed in this task.

page 4.

     I am not an orphan but I was abandoned by my mother when I was seven.  She left me on the steps of the Municipal Orphanage and I never saw her again.  My life in the orphanage is not germane to my story, but you must know the hardships which orphans must endure.  Orphans are social outcasts.  Just as a man without a country has no place to rest, so the child without a parent is an outcast of society.  An orphan child has no protector.  He is a wanderer in a desert with no boundaries.  He is despised  and victimized by adult and child alike.  He is compelled to wear the badge of inferiority just as the Jews in medieval times were required to display their yellow Star of David.  He wears his as the Negro wears his skin.

     In our case we were dressed in oversized or undersized clothes.  We were compelled at various times to wear mismatched socks or shoes.  Oversized shoes and socks that were more hole than sock.  Shirts so large that the sleeves had to be cut back to expose our hands, the ragged edges flapping at our wrists. Our hair was cut with cowlicks sprouting every which way.  We were made to look ridiculous, so that others might appear normal.  We did look ridiculous and we were sent to public school that way.  I have often envied Blacks and Jews their solidarity.  Despised though they may have been they could find solace together, or at least as much as humankind will allow from each other.  At school we were not allowed to win, and were denied any success.  The gates of charity were closed to us although the ‘decent folk’; gave us small conscience offerings at Christmas.  It was demanded that we be hewers of wood and carriers of water for our masters with the parents.  But the worst was yet to come.

page 5.

     When a child turned ten he was no longer welcome at the Children’s Home.  Orphaned or abandoned he was even rejected by the custodians of the damned.  The Angels of Charity arrived to claim their due.  Our foster parents arrived to pick up a means of livelihood and a slave for the house.  I was either selected by or assigned to, I don’t know which, the Wardens.  The Wardens did not really want the money they were sent for my care each month, or, that was not their prime motivation, although precious little of the money was ever spent on me.  What they wanted was a clown.

     The Wardens were much less than successful people.  Jack Warden, or Mr. Warden as I was compelled to call him, had delusions of grandeur based  on some sort of imagined connection to the royalty or nobility of ancient England.  He even kept a collection of coats of arms on the wall.  He would point to this particular one and say, ‘Yeh, that’s the one right there.  That’s the one all right.’  just like it was his, but I knew it wasn’t.  He was white collar over at Malleable Iron so that he could maintain his dignity over the blue collar workers.

     The Wardens lived in a decent house on Bay Street which was OK, but beneath his supposed diginity.  Geli Warden, Angelica, his wife, affected manners which she thought the immaculate reflection of the ‘Well born.’  But, I shouldn’t complain because those manners have stood me in good stead.  They had two sons, Skippy and Cappy.  Cappy was two years older than I and Skippy was four.  Neither boy was amounting to anything.  The townsfolks’ opinion of the Wardens was much less exalted than their own.  The status of Skippy and Cappy consequently was not the highest.  The Warden’s were not totally oblivious to reality.  While they were masters of delusion they were also acutely aware of the disparity between their illusions and reality.  They could not levitate their sons over the children of more affluent and successful people.  They could invent innummerable reasons for themselves but the neighbors rebuked them when they made exorbitant claims for the lads.

page 6.

     I was the solution to their problems.  On the one hand they could demand credit for their charity from the neighbors and on the other society paid them to keep a fool for them and their boys.  What radio beam I followed to keep me on track I’ll never know.  I suppose religion had something to do with it.  I had been compelled to attend church since a small boy.  I knew the Baptists, the Methodists and non-sectarians , whatever their fantasy may be, now, as the Wardens were very sanctimonious I found the Presbyterians.  I was always revolted by both the Bible and its devotees, but as the Bible is the dream story of a despised and ineffectual people whose lives are irradiated only by an irrational hope, I identified with that strange peoples’ desperate situation and seized the only life raft that fate had to offer me.  I embraced a vain hope as a fat man embraces a full refrigerator.  I made it my own.  It was all there was between myself and psychic desolation.  For the Wardens drove me further and further into a mental zone that was very far from normal.  As my childhood progressed I became aware of two existences.  The one, the despicable clown that I was compelled to be and the other, the real me, that stood aside and watched and doled out encouragement and hope to the wretch that walked in my shoes. 

     As society would not honor Skippy and Cappy in the manner they thought was their due, I was to give them that status in their eyes.  I was denied and ridiculed.  I was made to mow the lawn with a dull mower and compelled to watch in silence and mortification while Skippy ‘did the job right’ with a sharpened mower.  But it’s more important that you see what I was forced to become.

     While the boys dressed well I was made to look shabby and unkempt.  Just as at the orphanage my clothes never fit.  I had to wear Skippy’s worn out shoes.  Cappy’s old clothes, although I actually outgrew him.  By high school I was flopping around in oversize shoes and a pair of too small grey gabardine pants.  High in the leg and the crotch pulled up tight between my legs.  The pocket openings were all frayed and the pockets were all worn out.  Girls wouldn’t even look at me.

page 6.

     Then after Skippy and Cappy graduated it was even worse.  Neither went to college as was expected.  Both just kind of bummed around.  The Wardens turned on me savagely in their disappointment.  They wanted me to be even more ridiculous as they now thought their sons had failed them and I had been a bad influence.  I don’t like to drink because sometimes the memory of it seems to drive railway spikes through my brain.

     I don’t know when it started but I know that it was the result of the accumulated opprobrium, ridicule and denial that I had endured all my life.  It became an especial burden as I became old enough to understand, even if in primitive outline, what was being done to me.  I rejected all accusations of unworthiness and knew in my heart and grasped intellectually that I was as good as my detractors.  Nevertheless the weight of their scorn and hatred, which they of course denied, bore down heavily on me.  As my various neuroses and eccentricities developed in relation to this ostracization I began to hear a sound in my ears, a roar as mighty as Niagara.  It stood as a barrier between myself and the world.  I had to listen to people around it, with an especially attentive ear.  I was afraid.

     I held myself together through high school but upon graduation, abandoned by everyone, ridiculed and laughed at by the Wardens, I fell apart.  I became ineffective.  I had difficulty tying my clown shoes.  I often had to make two, three or four attempts before I could succeed at that simple task.  Once while receiving change from the paper boy I turned my hand sideways just as he released the change which clattered to the floor.  I was mad with anguish and self-criticism.  The hope that had sustained me fled and I was hopeless.

     Throughout the summer I knew not what to do.  When the days began to shorten and daylight began to flee I, by association, thought that I too must flee.  I had some few dollars that I had managed to save and putting on my clown shoes my shabby grey pants with the short legs and high crotch, an old white T-shirt and a too small denim jacket that I had inherited from Cappy, I walked out of theWarden’s house for the last time.

page 7.

     I wanted to get far away.  As I had never been far away before I thought in short distances.  Primary to my mind was to leave the Valley.  I rejected Detroit and the South because I knew I couldn’t deal with that many people.  I thought of going out into the Thumb but the Wardens had relatives in Caro and I didn’t want to be close to them at all.  For probably psychological reasons I decided to head up North to the Grand Traverse, The Great Crossing.  A divide that once crossed would divide me forever from a hated and hateful childhood.  As my mother had abandoned me I would symbolically abandon her.  Not that she cared.  I had never heard from her.

     Blinded by my desperate urgency I walked out of that house of the distraught and just kept walking.  I wouldn’t have spent the money anyway but it never occurred to me to take a bus.  It never occurred to me to put out my thumb; I just walked along listening to the roar in my ears which seemed to be intensifying; to be getting louder, it seemed to be engulfing my brain.  I don’t remember much of my flight.  I remember passing the multitudinous churches of Midland.  The chemical stench of the place corresponded exactly in my mind with my opinion of the parishioners of those churches.  No love had I ever known from those sanctimonious hypocrites of God.

     After Midland the roar seemed to affect my vision.  I saw but registered nothing.  The tears repressed for eighteen years began to flow and I walked and walked sobbing and sobbing.

     I don’t even know whether I stopped to rest or not.  I just kept picking those big clown shoes up and laying them down.  Because of the size of the shoes I had to lift my knees high to bring my foot forward.  I was oblivious to the catcalls of passing drivers appalled by the sight of the strange apparition that I was.  At night, local boys drove by and threw beer cans at me.  One reached out the window and tried to hit me with his fist.  I grabbed at his arm and pulled it back.  I escaped their wrath for playing ‘unfair.’

page 8.

     As I say I walked on an on until my woes engulfed me completely, until my body and mind separated and we existed in two different worlds.  As my body trudged on my mind descended by stages into a hell of despair.  Oblivion overwhelmed me, nothingness became my reality.  I don’t know what happened.

     When my senses returned, when the terrible fog lifted and dissipated and became a mere haze I found that I must have left hell and gone directly to heaven.  My overall impression was white but I was surrounded by the most heavenly colors.  White, a delicate pink and the palest of blues.  My head was resting in billows of soft clean pillows, the cases of which I never seen the like.  My body was covered by the sheets, pink and blue and a downy blue comforter.  Above, the white underside of a blue canopy glowed cheerily back at me.  It was daylight but still semi-dazed I lay there drifting in and out of consciousness.  Then just as the sun was going down I heard the door open and shut.  I looked up to find her smiling down at me.  It was Angeline, my redemptress.

     A feeling of security warmed my heart and saying nothing I slipped off into unconsciousness for the night.  When I awoke, sometime before dawn she was laying there beside me, sleeping peacefully.  Not daring to move I lay there quietly studying her.  She began to stir.  I pretended to be asleep  and she, solicitous for my welfare, dressed quietly and left for work.  As I tried to rise I found I couldn’t and spent the morning fitting my mind back into my body.  The reunion was difficult and imperfect.  I would spend decades trying to match the edges.

     I found myself weak and lethargic, unable to concentrate or even to grasp my situation.  Sometime in that morning, feeling the pangs of hunger, I compelled myself to rise and seek nourishment.  During the process of alimentation I surveyed my surroundings.  My shelter, and it was little more than that, was a one room shack.  It was small and mean but immaculate.  The lovely bed, although bed is an inadequate description of the little paradise in which Angeline reposed for her slumbers, was in one corner.  A bathtub was adjacent to it.  On the other side of the room, where I now sat, were her kitchen facilities.  Dressers and a table with chairs occupied the front of the room.  In the middle of the front wall was the door.

page 8.

     After eating, still exhausted, I lay down again to rest.

     It was as though I had received a great injury, suffered a debilitating illness for as the fall turned into winter I remained faint and listless.  As the approach of spring became imminent my mind began to regain some of its sharpness and my body its vitality.

     Angeline was very patient with me, neither pressing me nor hurrying me.  In those few months, even in my depressed state I came to appreciate and love her.  She was twenty-five and had also had a difficult childhood; which fact I only surmise as she never talked about her past nor complained about her present.  She sought complete self-sufficiency and within reason did everything for herself.  She eschewed radio and television and even never bought magazines and newspapers.  She wanted to create her own perfect world without obtrusions from an unsympathetic and hostile reality.  In the time I knew her I never saw her with another person.

      My own laughable wardrobe had disappeared and she had tailored new clothes for me.  She knew how to do everything.  Where she learned I don’t know.  Even my oversize shoes were gone, replaced by a pair of moccasins Angeline had sewn.  For the first time in my life I was dressed in clothes that fit.  Clothes that were meant to dignify me and not ridicule me.  Clothes that signified manhood and not foolhood.

     Angeline worked as a waitress in town.  What town I can’t remember except that it was on the Lake Michigan side of the Grand Traverse.  It was a small town.  Angeline’s cabin was on the rise looking out over the cool blue waters of Lake Michigan, over the Grand Traverse separating the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  the place where Lake Michigan without any discontinuity or break changed its name to Lake Huron.

     On those cold winter days I often sat on a stump looking out over the Great Crossing, The Grand Traverse, that might someday separate me from my past, that might lead to a new and better life on the other side.

page 9.

     Angeline was always cheery, what cheeriness I know I learned from her.  Much cheerier she than I.  I was not the best of company that winter and I often wondered why she didn’t turn me out.  She didn’t.  Angeline had the capacity to make the best of everything.  She could warm up the coldest night and cool off the hottest day.  She could make the darkest corner bright.  She was able to nurse me back to health.

     So my winter of recuperation passed in the heaven created by Angeline.  Recovering by day, fed by a divine cook and passing my nights beside the loveliest incarnation of woman ever made.  Angeline would have been no-ones cover girl but there was no woman more beautiful than she.

      As Spring came on my strength and energy returned.  My psyche repaired itself and I attempted to recover my balance or perhaps I began to seek a balance I had always been denied.  As the days grew longer and daylight appeared between Angeline’s return and nightfall we began to take long walks through the woods and down to the lake shore.  There were delightful little streams in the woods, there was an abundance of wild flowers.  The air was fresh and sweet.  The skies were clear and blue.  There was nothing more a man could want-except escape from a hateful past that lay too close behind.

     As I began my slow recovery I felt the need to tell the world of the way it really was, to save it from doing to others what it had done to me.  I began to write about my pain in little stories.  I sent them to magazines but they all came back.  the world was not interested in my pain, or perhaps, my pain was so new and fresh that the jagged edges terrified whoever my readers were.  Angeline encouraged me and urged me on so that I never quit trying.

page 10.

     The roaring in my ears had continued and continually distracted me.  I was compelled to be patient with it for there was no way to avoid it.  But then one night that summer during my sleep that mighty Niagara ceased to flow.  When I awoke that morning I was aware that something was different but I didn’t know what.  Something was missing. It was so quiet.  And then when Angeline spoke to me it was as though I could hear her voice clearly for the first time.  It was then that I realized that the roaring had stopped.  The very worst part of the pain must have been dissipated.  My joy suffused my body and the look of love and gratitude with which I embathed Angeline brought a flush of pleasure to her cheeks.  Whatever happiness I was able to give her she enjoyed it then.  I could never understand what pleasure Angeline could find in me.  I wanted to be pleasant and charming for her and I tried very hard to be so but I know that my injuries were so grievous, my self-absorption so complete that I couldn’t have been.

     But we spent the summer and fall roaming over our little paradise, dipping our feet in the cool streams and exploring the lake side.  And then came the winter once again.  We still walked in the woods on Angeline’s days off and it was there on that cold January day that we came on our portent of disaster.  We discovered a deer that had been injured by a bow hunter.  The arrowhead and the broken shaft of the arrow were still lodged in the deer’s foreleg.  the wound had festered and the deer was in great pain, limping badly.  If it had been healthy it would have run away before Angeline could have charmed it.  Perhaps Angeline could have charmed it anyway; she was that spontaneous and wonderful.  The deer, with the trust and docility of one bereft of hope, subordinating his fear out of desperation in his pain submitted to Angeline’s graces and the two of us guided it to Angeline’s little cabin in the woods.

page 11.

     She lavished attention on the deer and with all the care of a loving and open heart began to nurse it back to health.

     I am ashamed.  It wasn’t jealousy.  It wasn’t envy.  I too had enough compassion to want to help the deer.  It was a feeling of foreboding.  My own pain had been so great, indeed its dissolution had only a year earlier just begun, that I had been unable, it had not occurred to me till then, to ask Angeline how it was that she had found and brought me to her home to mend.  I wish I had not thought to ask myself that terrible question then.  I certainly could not have been a prize.  My face must have mirrored the distraction of my mind.  I was wearing those ridiculous clothes, dirty from I don’t know how many days of tramping along the highway.  I was grateful to Angeline then, I’m even more grateful today, but I couldn’t help comparing myself to that deer on which she lavished as much love and attention as she lavished on me.

      I didn’t really think about it, I didn’t consciously dwell on it but my past, just behind me, began nipping at my heels.  As I stood outside her door and gazed out toward the Grand Traverse, escape from that past seemed possible and necessary.  Without really thinking about the notion of flight, or leaving, leaving Angeline behind, the notion began to take shape in my mind.

     As winter passed once more and the beauties of April and May arrived, the deer, now healed, nodded a goodbye one morning and disappeared into the woods.  I stood by Angeline and watched him leave saying nothing.  That April and May I enjoyed Angeline’s company as never before while I, myself, grew more sad and morose.

page 12.

      On a day in May Angeline and I were out walking through the woods.  I had my head down my mind dwelling on myself, Angeline and the deer.  Thinking me sad, in an effort to cheer me Angeline exclaimed:  ‘Oh, Greshie, look up, look at the sky, isn’t it beautiful?’  And it was.

     It was a sky such as I’ve only seen in Michigan.  The clouds were drifting in majestic rows from the Northwest.  Each wisp seemed no bigger than a cream puff.  Each was separated from its neighbors by an equal distance; each row separated from the others equally.  These serried battalions of fluffy white clouds marched on in endless succession with absolute precision across the blue of a fading day.

     Each cloud was tinted with overtones of pink.  Pink, white and blue.  Angeline’s colors.  The colors of happiness with which she surrounded herself, surrounded us, me too, each night in her arbor of bliss.  She pointed this out to me glowing and joyous.  Of couse I shared her joy but I also noticed a dark grey band forming behind each of the thousands of clouds.  I said nothing.  An answering ominous shade formed in my own mind.

     When we returned to the cabin the deep blue of the Grand Traverse was still visible in the fading light of a perfect day.  It was then I think that I first saw the path across the water.  I didn’t think any of this out at the time and perhaps I’m only making excuses for myself now, but Angeline was on this side of the Grand Traverse at childhood’s end. 

     Perhaps if I had made the crossing and she had found me on the other side things could have been different.  There was no hope on this side and there was on the other.  As part of my future rather than my past I might, I might never had had to leave her.  Perhaps.  I can’t be sure.

     How could I tell her; How could I explain?  How could I possibly find the words to say it?  What right did I have to leave the savior of my life?  There were no answers that came to my mind.  There were no answers.

     And this is my shame.  That deer had more compassion for Angeline than I had.  He had a deeper sense of gratitude.  He at least gave Angeline a nod good-bye.  With me Angeline just came home to an empty cabin and an empty bed.  Oh god!  I am so ashamed of myself.  How could I be so cruel and heartless?  I who knew what cruelty and heartlessness was.  How could I…

     As the ferry pulled from the slip leading across the Grand Traverse toward St. Ignace and the Upper Peninsula I was on it.  Across the water lay escape and freedom or so I thought.

     Once across the Traverse I had no idea what to do.  So I just started walking down the highway toward Sault Ste. Marie.  I had walked for a day and night; I was out there somewhere when I was overwhelmed by despair again but not so bad as last time.  I threw myself down on my back in the middle of the road spreadeagled.  I don’t know how long I lay there, perhaps five minutes, perhaps a couple hours.  Maybe I thought a truck would run over me and my problems.  None did.  There wasn’t even a car came by, either way. 

     I had no choice but to get up, I couldn’t lay there forever.  Once on my feet I looked off to the West over a mile of cutover ground.  Away in the distance the forest began again.  With shaking steps that slowly grew firmer I walked off to the woods into which I disappeared…

Finis.

A Novel

Far Gresham

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 10

     ‘William C. Durant?  Never heard of Billy Durant?’

     Give me a break.  ‘No, not until now, anyway.’

     ‘Well, Billy Durant put General Motors together.  Built it all from the ground up, then lost it.’  He went on speaking of Durant familiarly as Billy as we entered downtown Flint.  ‘And there’s the bowling alley he ended up managing after he lost G.M.  Quite a drop isn’t it?  From GM to that scuzzy bowling alley?’  He said taking obvious pleasure in Durant’s drop.  The Duke had had no success in life at all, unless you wanted to call the Patricians successes, but he laughed and chuckled over Durant’s fall as though he himself had gone on to greater success.

     The bowling alley really was a scuzzy old affair.  Warden said the bankers sold Durant out at ten cents on the dollar which still left him with twenty million in 1920.  Hard to believe a guy could go through twenty million to end up running a measly bowling alley answering question like:  ‘How’s it going auto magnate?’  Warden merely showed me how small he really was.

     The Valley if flatter than a board while Flint is situated among pleasant rolling hills.  Warden’s relatives lived out on the South-west edge of town in a house with the steepest pitched roof I’ve ever seen.  The thing had the angle of a church steeple.  the back yard had a gigantic weeping willow.  Two blocks down the street was a corner grocery store.

     I had been there two days when I was asked to go down to the store to pick up a loaf of bread.  Did Michael have nothing better to do than watch my movements?  Did he just know that I would be getting a loaf of bread at that time?  When I walked in he and a few of his young female relatives were waiting for me.

page 451.

     We must have been poor in the Valley because the store in Flint was bigger, cleaner and better maintained than the ones in the Valley although it was still surrounded by huge trees with a bare yard.

     When I walked into the store all I could see was the area behind the counter.  As I stood looking for the bread bins Michael Hirsh strolled out from the far aisle while the girls moved into view.  My mind was rigidly divided into the conscious and subconscious.  Thus it was as though there was a veil before my eyes preventing me from recognizing Michael while the image registered in my subconscious.  While I didn’t know who he was I could make responses from my subconscious bypassing my conscious that betrayed knowledge of his identity.

     He strolled out in an intimidating manner which I noted but ignored.  He gave a sardonic smile and snort which I also ignored.  He quite obviously thought I was intentionally rejecting him as well he should.  I spotted the bread and went to get a loaf.  I was conscious of the girls crowding around me but thought little of it and was actually pleased by the frotage.

     Michael had learned something from out previous encounter, but not enough.  While the girls had crowded around me one had slipped a Baby ruth into my right back pocket.  As I emerged from the stacks, Michael moved up, this time he didn’t take the candy bar from my pocket but merely pointed saying:  ‘What’s that in Gresham’s back pocket?  Hey, look, he’s stealing a Baby Ruth.’  The girls giggled and made Shame Shame gestures with their fingers.

page 452.

     ‘I didn’t put the candy bar in my pocket.’  I said.  ‘I wouldn’t be stupid to leave it half hanging out.’

     ‘Oh, so then you do steal.  You know all about how to do it?’  Michael said interpreting my rather too casual denial against me.

     ‘No.  I don’t Hirsh, you pulled this same trick at the Children’s Home.  It didn’t work then, it won’t work now.’

     Calling him by his name afater ignoring him when I entered convinced Hirsh that I had arrogantly ignored him when I entered which increased his frustration.  I was completely unaware I had used his name and would have denied it if he had accused me of using it.

     I flipped the bread and change up on the counter.

     ‘You buying the candy bar?’  The grocer asked.

     ‘No.  You can get Hirsh here to pay for it.’

     ‘Then give it to me.’

     ‘Have Hirsh give it to you.  I didn’t put it in my pocket and I’m not taking it out.’

     The Grocer sighed, reached around and removed the Baby Ruth.  I didn’t even like Baby Ruths.  I liked Mounds.

     I took my bread and left.  Michael failed again; but far from the Valley he felt more secure in harassing me.  He had a tighter control of opinion whereas I had none.  During the rest of the stay whenever I went to the store I was assaulted by Hirsh and several of his pals.  The first couple times I was able to fight my way through but then they made it so difficult I had to give up going to the store.

page 453.

     At the beginning of my story my father had flattened David Hirsh as a Sunday ice cream social in the park in the Valley before his betrothed, Beverly.  David Hirsh had deserved it for an unwarranted meddling in my father’s relationship with his future wife, my mother.  As he lay on the ground, David had muttered:  The sins of the father…’  Michael had been thwarted at the grocery store yet once again, but the following Sunday presented an opportunity for David to settle old scores and new.

     Perhaps David organized the social, perhaps he merely took advantage of an existing situation, I don’t know.  Word was gotten to the Wardens that the social would be taking place.  They were urged to come and especially to bring their youngest boy.  Geli coolly explained that I was no relation to them.  The faux pas almost cost Hirsh his opportunity.  The Wardens reacted to the seeming preference to me by dropping me off while explaining they had a prior engagement.

     The contrast between the grim and grimy affairs at the Children’s Home was startling.  Everyone was dressed so nicely and shone so brightly that I was as entranced as though I had been deposited for a gala with the wee folk.  All my resistance melted as my heart danced.  I was especially invited.  Everyone was smiling at me,  I was welcomed with open arms.  A little girl was enthroned as the little queen of the social.  I was urged to go up to her to do obeisance and present myself.  How could I refuse?  I was delighted to offer my fealty.

page 454.

     As I approached her to introduce myself Michael Hirsh darted from the crowd gave me a cold look, whispered something in the girl’s ear, then disappeared once again into the crowd.

      ‘Him again.’  I thought.  ‘Why does he always show up?’

     As I approached the girl, she looked away from me refusing to acknowledge me.  There were a few laughs from the crowd; the parents gathered their young and all departed leaving me alone in the park to socialize with myself.

     The little play was over.  David Hirsh had revenged himself on me for my father’s act.  Hirsh’s evil mind which had given the first offence to my father had visited his vengeance on the father’s son.  Michael had acted his part.  the revenge betrayed a weakness in conception, a misunderstand of what had happened so long ago.  David had observed from the slope across the way.  He was satisfied in a grudging way but Michael had not yet been clearly vindicated.

     The part was a lovely park.  I returned to it the next day.  There were some boys there with whom I struck up an acquaintance and we began to play.  Word was carried to David Hirsh that I was in the park.  David and Michael thought this was an ideal time to bring me to heel.  Michael and a few friends and relatives entered the park.  I was brought to stand before him.  In Michael’s mind he had suffered so many defeats from me, so many well thought plans had gone agley, he had broken his lance on my shield without unhorsing me, that his confidence now wavered.  He stood before me as a half broken warrior.

 page 455.

     Michael had every reason to believe I knew who he was; I had used his name thrice in the grocery store.  If I had recognized him I would never have associated him with any of the scenes from the past.  His memory existed only in my subconscious.  In my conscious mind he was only a mysterious stranger who interfered in my affairs for no good reason.  His repeated appearance strangely excited no interest in me to learn who he was.

     We stood looking at each other.

     ‘Well!’  He said.

     ‘Well?’  I said.

     He had no choice but to interpret the confrontation as a contest of wills.  We stood looking at each other for several moments.  Michael’s brow furrowed, his lips quivered as they moved in response to his minds grasping to find words to express his meaning.  He couldn’t.  He raised his right his right arm and slapped at the air in frustration; a sob emerged from his throat that almost sounded like ‘You’re…’;  he turned on his heel followed by his friends out of the park.  As he reached the sidewalk he turned through tear blinded eyes with large sobs coming from his heart to shake his impostent fist at me.

     For my part I had no idea what was happening.  I suppressed the momory os this incident into my subconscious atop the other memories of Michael Hirsh which were too terrible for me to face.  For the rest of my stay no one would play with me.  Indeed, when I showed up the park emptied.  Even the adults whomanned the office by the tennis courts were exceptionally rude to me.  I was a twelve year old boy.  What could I possible have done to warrant such treatment?  I could understand kids but I couldn’t understand the adults.

page 456.

     The incident was a greater victory for David Hirsh than he realized.  For at that time I lost a great treasure.  My male force was taken from me.  The virility required to make your way among men was hidden behind the altar of David’s hate.  I became almost feminine in my desires to please.  In the eyes of others I was willing to be their doormat.  The only that saved me was the duality of my mind.  My mind converted everything into symbols that allowed me to survive yet in no way affected my rationality.  I led two lives.  One daytime reality, the other a dream life at night that was no less real to me.  I lived both lives at all times; my real me entering my dreams’ my dream me directing my daytime life.  Yet both lives remained separated and compartmentalized.

      David and Michael Hirsh’s victory had, however, been a pyhrric victory.  What to them was my stubborn resistance cost Michael his self-respect.  He had been unable to defeat me in direct confrontation.  He had repeatedly humiliated himself before his friends.  His and his father’s dreams of dominion in the Valley had been dashed to the ground.  My mental condition had my real status from me; Michael had nothing to protect him.  His self-image crumbled to dust.  He gained nothing by emasculating me as, in the process, he had emasculated himself.

page 457.

      Had David and Michael had powers of reflection, had they been able to rise above the primal state, their lives would have continued to shine.  But like the savage of ten thousand years ago who set a whole forest ablaze to avenge himself on a root over which he had stumbled, the Hirshes destroyed their lives to avenge imaginary or self-caused wrongs.  I was not the only grudge David was pursuing.  His mind had the capacity to identify and catalog tens, hundreds, even thousands of so-called injuries.  He was capable of following each case in his case book daily, devoting his life, as it were, to indulging his passions.  The juice of the poison red berries worked on his mind constantly.  He led his boy deep into the berry patch.

     The primitive mentality lay exposed in Dvid.  Ten thousand years of subsequent experience and development left no mark on him.  Judaeo-Christian beliefs could not affect his mind.  Reason left him unmoved.  David had a primitive belief in his rights.  He was one of the elect of Judaeo-Christian theology; he was nature’s nobleman before whom all should bow.  I envied David and Michael’s conception of reality which was seemingly so much better than my own.

     Yet, my heart was pure.  The agonies I endured were the agonies of an unjust persecution.  Their agonies for different reasons were no less than my own.  The story has hnot yet been told, the depths to which I had yet to descend were too much for a knowing mind to bear.  Like the cat in the trap I complacently preened myself looking back from time to time to see if the trap still gripped my ankle.  Worse agonies were in store for David and Michael Hirsh.

End Vol. I