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The Pretty Little Brunette
Queer Ckicken Dinner by Ron West, pages 15-18

Now, Kerouac had got my dander up a bit, his having read a book by it’s cover, slandering Montana particularly with his character ‘Slim’, every state will have its nuisance characters, and puts down the West generally by reducing our heritage to a farcical ‘Old West’ celebration at Cheyenne, Wyoming. He’d not realized this ostentatious and admittedly ridiculous event is not representative of our character, but is deliberately catering to tourists. Just as easily as not, it could be entrepreneurs from LA or the East coast exploiting opportunity, will be behind these celebrations designed to gouge the middle class on vacation and separate them from their cash. But I’m going to, mostly, let that slide, for now. I could go on about Kerouac multiplying his depleted $50 like fishes and loaves, but that’d be beating on a dead horse. Instead, I’ll correct the record regarding a prank he describes as victimizing ‘Montana Slim.’

This begins with his ‘lucky ride’ .. a flatbed truck has picked up Kerouac, driven by a couple of Minnesota farm boys headed west, and they’ve been sweeping up every hitch-hiker along their route. I’ve no problem with this, George and I had a similar experience on our trip south to Baja (more on that in a bit.) One of the characters he finds himself riding with on the flatbed is his ‘Montana Slim.’ Now, according to Kerouac, Slim had to piss and the boys in the cab were not stopping, so Slim scoots himself to the edge of the flatbed to sit and piss off the back end of the truck. No sooner than Slim has his whang unleashed and is urinating, someone has knocked on the rear window of the flatbed’s cab, drawing attention to Slim’s act and (likely with hands imitating being on a steering wheel) suggests swerving the truck back and forth, which in fact the driver precedes to do. Slim has to fall onto his back to avoid going off the truck and is rolling side to side while (at this point probably involuntarily) pissing and everyone else is dying laughing. I have a problem with this.

Firstly, per the great Jim Croce’s lyrics ‘you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, don’t piss in the wind, you don’t take the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Slim’, there is no country boy in America who’d do that, because every one of us with an IQ of at least 70, and there could be such a thing as a country boy with an IQ of 170 (a frightening thought), would understand when you piss at high speed from the back of an open vehicle, your body creates a vacuum in the wind. Sit with legs off the left side of the flatbed and your piss will be fed into the vacuum spraying your left side, sit with legs off the right and the reverse is true. Now, sit with legs off the back of the flatbed in the wind at high speed and your piss will be spraying in your face.

Kerouac pinning this act on ‘Montana Slim’ can’t hold up because only a city boy would be naïve enough to commit this act of foolishness and in Montana there is no such thing as a city boy per se. Montana does not have any cities, not even a full hand of fair sized or ‘large’ towns and I’ll name those it had in Kerouac’s day: Billings, Butte, Great Falls and Missoula. You could not be from Montana and not have been exposed to a country boy ‘education.’

Clearly, what has happened here is, Kerouac recounts a prank that had been pulled off by the country boy from Montana and Kerouac himself had been the victim. Slim had suggested to Kerouac pissing downwind off the end of the truck as the only possible option in a desperate to urinate circumstance, I grew up with characters who’d suggest exactly that to the uninitiated, and Kerouac had been desperate enough to try.

Henceforth, in any following chapter, we cannot believe a word Kerouac writes about Slim, Kerouac hated him. His (some would consider ‘just’) revenge, was to reverse the gullible party in the prank, to denigrate the Montana character as a fool in perpetuity, immortalized in print.

It was on I-5, near Roseberg, Oregon, George and I had hit our lucky ride south, taking us a LONG ways towards Baja. A caravan of U-Haul rental trucks was approaching and the lead truck pulled out and over for us. The men in the cab called out the window “Got a driver’s license?” We both replied Yes! And they’d said “You’re in, climb in the back!” We ran with our packs to the rear of the truck, the cargo door was retracted and locked in the open position and there were another couple inside who explained what we were into. We were part of a caravan of U-Hauls being gathered up from rental agencies they’d been dropped at along the interstate and were being returned, to be redistributed to agencies in the greater Los Angeles region. The contractor heading up the operation was playing fast and loose with the rules .. and making a lot of money. The scheme he’d implemented was to sweep up licensed hitch-hikers along the route, put them into driving shifts so we could move the trucks south for him, all the while he was no doubt setting up a claim that would entail expenses covering having had to employ ‘short term’ contract drivers. When we stopped for fuel, or to pick up more trucks for our growing convoy, we’d change drivers and have a ‘picnic’ break where he’d break out sandwiches, chips and canned beverages like Pepsi and 7-Up. We were all advised to pocket extra food and drink for refreshment en-route, it was an ‘all you can eat affair.’ We made steady time to a large commercial UHaul yard in Orange County, south of LA, a big piece of our miles had been discharged, lots of road was behind us at one stroke of luck. My recollection is, this was my hitch-hiking distance record single ride, of those days.

Now, a lovely seeming circumstance arose that caught me by surprise. Both George and myself are veterans, George had been a heavy equipment operator for combat engineers in Vietnam. We might have looked like typical hippies in our twenties but really we were doing what we’d sorely wished we’d been doing at 19 years of age, instead of a combat zone. And we were from Montana. Now, being from Montana, we have respect for women, something that is inculcated in authentic country boys, and it happened that’d been noticed by a single and very pretty brown-eyed brunette who’d been picked up by the U-Haul caravan. Having arrived at the U-Haul commercial truck yard ending the ride after dark, we all were informed we could take shelter in the back of the trucks for the night and should clear out in the morning.

The pretty little brunette maybe glanced around once, and then strode without hesitation directly over to me and pointed, while saying “That’s our truck.” My jaw did not drop, I was a good-looking kid in those days and I’d had my fair share. George just walked away shaking his head, plumb disgusted, his problem was his likeness recalling Irving’s description of Ichabod Crane.

Now, once inside the truck with the girl, I do not recall her name, we sorted what was important in short order. She’d give herself to me if I insisted, but she’d prefer not to. I only held her, and was privileged to do that, and we slept through the night, no messing around. Come morning, she’d said to me, “you are really cool.”

George was beside himself, near green with envy and snapped over breakfast “you didn’t get any of that!” I kept my cards close to my chest, a smile was my only reply. I could tell it bugged him for days. But I also know if we’d been in reverse position, it’d have been the same outcome, we both have this thing, it’s called ‘ethics.’

Son of a Lesser God



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