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Dave
Ron West's Queer Chicken Dinner, pages 49-54


14

Kerouac gives an eloquent description of his bus ride back across the USA (on his mom’s fifty dollars), demonstrates an awareness of American history, feels terribly sorry for himself (whines) while a little hungry and having to hitch-hike the last 300 miles home.

End of Part One

Part Two

1

Let the lies begin (again.) Kerouac has finished a manuscript (with his mom looking over his shoulder, no doubt) in the past year at home. It is the end of 1948. Cassady rolls back into Kerouac’s life together with his wife LuAnn Henderson (‘Marylou’ in the book) and ‘along for the ride’ Al Hinkle (‘Ed Dunkle’) in a brand new Hudson.

At first glance it would seem Cassady is still married to Henderson, his cheating with 2 other women, one (Carolyn Robinson, ‘Camille’ in the book) he has promised to marry (and had been making love with Ginsberg, who is advising him on these matters throughout), the divorce talk of a year ago, all this appears to have been put on ‘hold.’ But it is all very much more complicated and criminal as one reads on..

Kerouac asks Cassady where he come up with a new car and Cassady claims he’s paid cash for the car, having made $400 a month over the past year working for the railroad. A basic new Hudson in the 1949 model year costs over $2,000 and an unskilled railroad worker makes less than $1.50 per hour, do the math. If we made Cassady a ‘brakeman’ (his later in real life job), earning a bit over $200 a month in base salary, the numbers still won’t add up, considering his penchant for partying, not to mention having to eat and maintain a roof overhead.

Unless, of course, he has actually acquired the new car through financing and now will be running off with the car without paying for it, stiffing the bank.

Alternatively, the car perhaps has been paid for with proceeds stemming from some criminal enterprise. This thought is buttressed in the following pages of part two, chapter one, when it turns out actually Cassady has abandoned Robinson and their new infant, apparently in big hurry to leave San Francisco, meanwhile Hinkle has hustled his girl into coming along for the ride because she has some money, Cassady picks up first wife Henderson in Denver along the way, convincing her everything has been a mistake, and they abandon Hinkle’s girl at a hotel in Tucson without a dime or so much as letting her know she is about to be dumped out of the picture. By the time they’ve arrived on the east coast and picked up Kerouac, Cassady is behaving like a speed freak (likely Benzedrine), with telling behaviors clearly indicating more than a hyper-nervous felon on the run. Having driven pretty much non-stop in a mad, speeding (or ‘speed’) journey across the country, this is the freak show Kerouac will now proudly join and pursue with his chronicles.

I’d just returned from a journey of madness to Egypt, India and Nepal. It was winter in Montana and Freda’s Bar in West Glacier had already been long closed for the season. Not wanting to adjust to a Montana winter, just returned from the ‘Yin and Yang’ café in Katmandu, where I’d actually found a pack of authentic ‘made in the USA’ Camel non-filter cigarettes, an amazing score, better than hashish in my thinking, I packed up my VW bug, collected a Chippewa friend, Dave, with nothing better to do, and we headed west and then south. First we drove out to Seattle and went up the Space Needle just to have had the experience, and then drove down the coast. Cutting inland from the Bay Area, we unwittingly retraced Kerouac’s route, out of San Francisco.

Not turning towards LA after Bakersfield, but continuing south towards and beyond Tehachapi towards Blythe (Kerouac’s more sensible route if he’d not lied about the circumstance surrounding his bus trip and hustling Bea Franco), we were driving through the Mojave Desert in the middle of the night under a starry sky in December.

Of the three hallucinogens I’d experimented with more or less extensively, Psilocybin, Mescaline and LSD (and never having had a bad ‘trip’ with any of them), Psilocybin was my hands down favorite. We’d been driving straight through and I had a supply of Psilocybin on hand, to stay awake, by far preferable to any of the amphetamines. With Psilocybin, you can ‘graduate’ the level of the drug based on consumption, and your state of consciousness as well, from merely ‘alert’ to full-blown ‘cartoon.’ We’d been lightly nibbling the stuff, time to time, over the hours, I was mesmerized to the tuned VW engine in the desert night at 55 mph, Dave was mildly high and zoned on music with a set of head-phones.

Now, in this state of awareness, the most logical decisions can go wrong and descend into spontaneous cartoon madness, and we experienced one of these events, when I’d decided to have a snack while at the wheel. Not wishing to disturb Dave, I’d reached between and behind the bucket seats of the little bug, into a groceries sack and felt around for something to eat. I came up with a jar of feta cheese in brine and decided to have at it. Placing the jar between my knees and clamping it there with leg pressure, minding to keep my eyes on the road and one hand on the wheel, with my other hand I’d unscrewed the jar’s lid. What happened next, was pretty bad. The old VW bugs have a floor level heater vent close behind to where the left foot rests while cruising, it was cold out and the air cooled engine’s heater was on full blast. The feta cheese jar slipped from between my knees when the lid came free, the jar was full to the top with brine and as it happened, the jar dropped and landed on its side in such a way most the brine had poured direct into the heater vent and instantly the little car was filled with a STRONG aroma, closely resembling puke.

Having been through a war and many back alleys in the 3rd world, I have a pretty strong stomach, plus I had the cognitive understanding the source of the aroma was actually NOT puke but Dave was caught unawares, his headphone came ripping off, eyes bulging and his gag reflex was set off like crazy, not cognizant of what’d happened. “DAVE! DO NOT PUKE IN THE CAR! Was my instant shouted reaction, Dave rolled down his window, stuck his head outside but the initial look on his face had me in hysterics, no cartoonist could draw it without winning a Pulitzer Prize.

What happened next is priceless.

Dave could not keep his head out the window for more than a few moments because at 55 mph, 25 degrees Fahrenheit in the wind turns your entire head into the excruciating pain resembling ice-cold water on a bad tooth. Dave would involuntarily have to bring his head back in with its incredible expression of ‘what is happening’ combined with the most realistic desperation I’d ever seen on any man’s face, his gag reflex would set off again, I would repeat, having to force it out while laughing “DAVE! DO NOT PUKE IN THE CAR! Dave’s head would go back out the window, and it all kept cycling in animated cartoon that had me somewhere near one hair short of helpless with hysterics, trying not to pee myself, all the while keeping a steady clip of 55 mph.

At long last the gods had pitied Dave, as it dawned on my hallucinogen warped mentality I could pull over to the side of the road and stop, whereupon Dave had instantly leaped out of the car and I became a helpless bag of dissolving, laughing hysteria behind the wheel..

Dave’s cognitive dissonance must have been incredible, his subliminal reflex acting on primitive instinct when one pukes, everyone should puke, likely an evolutionary hand-me-down from ancient hominids having experienced eating bad carrion, but he can cognitively see I am not puking, and am telling him NOT to puke in the car (where instinct tells him puking has occurred.)

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