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Part One Chapter 5
I was with Montana Slim and we started hitting the bars. I had about seven dollars, five of which I foolishly squandered that night. First we milled with all the cowboy-dudded tourists and oilmen and ranchers, at bars, in doorways, on the sidewalk; then for a while I shook Slim, who was wandering a little slaphappy in the street from all the whisky and beer: he  was  that kind of drinker; his eyes got glazed, and in a minute he'd be telling an absolute stranger about things. I went into a chili joint and the waitress was Mexican and beautiful. I ate, and then I wrote her a little love note on the back of the bill. The chili joint was deserted; everybody was somewhere else, drinking. I told her to turn the bill over. She read it and laughed. It was a little poem about how I wanted her to come and see the night with me.
"I'd love to, Chiquito, but I have a date with my boy friend." "Can't you shake him?"
"No, no, I don't," she said sadly, and I loved the way she said it. "Some other time I'll come by here," I said, and she said, "Any time, kid." Still I hung around, just to look at her, and had another cup of coffee. Her boy friend came in sullenly and wanted to know when she was  off. She bustled around to close the place quick. I had to get out. I gave her  a smile when I left. Things were going on as wild as ever outside,  except  that the  fat burpers were getting  drunker  and whooping up louder. It was funny. There were Indian chiefs wander- ing around in big headdresses and  really solemn among the flushed drunken faces. I saw Slim tottering along and joined him.
He said, "I just wrote a postcard to my Paw in Montana. You reckon you can find a mailbox and put it in?" It was a strange request; he gave me the postcard and tottered through the swinging doors of a saloon. I  took the card, went to the box, and took a quick look at it. 
"Dear Paw, I'll be home Wednesday. Everything's all right with me and I hope  the same is with you. Richard." It gave me a different idea of him; how tenderly polite he was with his father. I went in the bar and joined him. We picked up two girls, a pretty young blonde and a fat brunette. They were dumb and sullen, but we wanted to make them. We took them to a rickety nightclub that was already closing, and there I spent all but two dollars on Scotches for them and beer for us. I was getting drunk and didn't care;  everything was fine. My whole being and purpose was pointed at the little blonde. I wanted to go in there with all my strength. I hugged her and wanted to tell her. The night- club closed and we all wandered out in the  rickety dusty streets. I looked up at the sky; the pure, wonderful stars were still there, burn- ing. The girls wanted to go to the bus station, so we all went, but they apparently  wanted to meet some sailor who was  there  waiting for them, a cousin of the fat girl's, and the sailor had friends with  him. I said to the blonde, "What's up?" She said she wanted to go home, in Colorado just over the line south of Cheyenne. "I'll take you in a bus," I said.
"No, the bus stops on the highway and I have to walk across that  damn prairie all by myself. I spend all afternoon looking at the damn thing and I don't aim to walk over it tonight."
"Ah, listen, we'll take a nice walk in the prairie flowers."
"There ain't no flowers there," she said. "I want to go to New York. I'm sick and tired of this. Ain't no place to go but Cheyenne and ain't nothin in Cheyenne."
"Ain't nothin in New York."
"Hell there ain't," she said with a curl of her lips.
The bus station was crowded to the doors. All kinds of people were waiting for buses or just standing around; there were a lot of In- dians, who watched everything with their stony eyes. The girl disen- gaged herself from my talk and joined the sailor and the others. Slim was dozing on a bench. I sat down. The floors of bus stations are the same all over the country, always covered with butts and spit and they give a feeling of sadness that only bus stations have. For a moment it was no different from being in Newark, except for the great hugeness outside that I loved so much. I rued the way I had broken up the purity of my entire trip, not saving every dime, and dawdling and not really making time, fooling around with this sullen girl and spending all my money. It made me sick. I hadn't slept in so long I got too tired to curse and fuss and went off to sleep; I curled up on the seat with my canvas bag for a pillow, and slept till eight o'clock in the morning among the dreamy murmurs and noises of the station and of hundreds of people passing.
I woke up with a big headache. Slim was gone--to Montana, I guess. I went outside. And there in the blue air I saw for the first time, far off,  the great snowy tops of the Rocky Mountains. I took a deep breath. I had to get to Denver at once. First I ate a breakfast, a modest one of toast and coffee and one egg, and then I cut out of town to the highway. The Wild West festival was still going on; there was a rodeo, and the whooping and jumping were about to start all over again. I left it behind me. I wanted to see my gang in Denver. I crossed a railroad overpass and reached a bunch of shacks where two highways forked off, both for Denver. I took the one nearest the mountains so I could look at them, and pointed myself that way. I got a ride right off from a young fellow from Connecticut who was driving around the country in his jalopy, painting; he was the son of an editor in the East. He talked and talked; I was sick from drinking and from the altitude.  At one point I almost had to stick my head out the window. But by the time he let me off at Longmont, Colorado, I was feeling normal again and had even started telling him about the state of my own travels. He wished me luck.
It was beautiful in Longmont. Under a tremendous old tree was a bed of green lawn-grass belonging to a gas station. I asked the atten- dant if I could sleep there, and he said sure; so I stretched out a wool shirt, laid my face flat on it, with an elbow out, and with one eye cocked  at the snowy Rockies in the hot sun for just a moment. I fell asleep for two delicious hours, the only discomfort being an occasional Colorado ant. And  here I am in Colorado! I kept thinking gleefully. Damn! damn! damn! I'm making it! And after a refreshing sleep filled with cobwebby dreams of my past life in the East I got up, washed in the station men's room, and strode off, fit and slick as a fiddle, and got me a rich thick milkshake at the road-house to put some freeze in my hot, tormented stomach.
Incidentally,  a  very  beautiful  Colorado  gal  shook  me  that cream; she was all smiles too; I was grateful, it made up for last night. I said to myself, Wow! What'll iDenveri be like! I got on that hot road, and off I went in a brand-new car driven by a Denver businessman of about thirty-five. He went seventy. I tingled all over; I counted minutes and subtracted miles. Just  ahead, over the rolling wheatfields all gol- den beneath the distant snows of Estes, I'd be seeing old Denver at last. I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was "Wow!" The man and I had a long, warm conversation about our respective schemes in life, and before I knew it we were going over the wholesale fruitmarkets outside Denver; there were  smokestacks, smoke, railyards, red-brick buildings, and the distant downtown gray- stone buildings, and here I was in Denver. He let me off at Larimer Street. I stumbled along with the most wicked grin of joy in the world, among the old bums and beat cowboys of Larimer Street.

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