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Part One Chapter 13
For the next fifteen days we were together for better or for worse. When we woke up we decided to hitchhike to New York together; she was going to be my girl in town. I envisioned wild complexities with Dean  and Marylou and everybody--a season, a new season. First we had to work to earn enough money for the trip. Terry was all for start- ing at once with the twenty dollars I had left. I didn't like it. And, like a damn fool, I considered the problem for two days, as we read the want ads of wild LA papers I'd never seen before in my life, in cafeterias and bars, until my twenty dwindled to just over ten. We were very happy in our little hotel room. In the middle of the night I got up because I couldn't sleep, pulled the cover over baby's bare brown shoulder, and examined the LA night. What brutal, hot,  siren-whining nights they are! Right across the street there was trouble. An old rickety rundown rooming house was the scene of some kind of tragedy. The cruiser was pulled up below and the cops were questioning an old man with gray hair. Sobbings came from within. I could hear everything,  together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there's a feeling of wacky comradeship some- where in some streets. LA is a jungle.
South Main Street, where Terry and I took strolls with hot dogs, was  a fantastic carnival of lights and wildness. Booted cops frisked people on practically every corner. The beatest characters in the coun- try swarmed on the sidewalks--all of it under those soft Southern Cali- fornia stars that are lost in the brown halo of the huge desert encamp- ment LA really is. You could smell tea, weed, I mean marijuana, float- ing in the air, together with the chili beans and beer. That grand wild sound of bop floated from beer parlors; it mixed medleys with every kind of cowboy and boogie-woogie in the American night. Everybody looked like Hassel. Wild Negroes with bop  caps and goatees came laughing by; then long-haired brokendown hipsters straight off Route66 from New York; then old desert rats, carrying packs and heading for a  park  bench  at  the  Plaza;  then  Methodist  ministers  with  raveled sleeves, and an occasional Nature Boy saint in beard and sandals. I wanted to meet them all, talk to everybody, but Terry and I were too busy trying to get a buck together.
We went to Hollywood to try to work in the drugstore at Sunset and Vine. Now there was a corner! Great families off jalopies from the hinterlands stood around the sidewalk gaping for sight of some movie star, and the  movie star never showed up. When a limousine passed they rushed eagerly to the curb and ducked to look: some character in dark glasses sat inside  with  a bejeweled blonde. "Don Ameche! Don Ameche!" "No, George Murphy! George Murphy!" They milled around, looking at one another. Handsome queer boys who had come to Hol- lywood to be cowboys  walked around, wetting their eyebrows with hincty fingertip. The most beautiful little gone gals in the world cut by in slacks; they came to be  starlets; they ended up in drive-ins. Terry and I tried to find work at the drive-ins. It was no soap anywhere. Hol- lywood Boulevard was a great,  screaming frenzy of cars; there were minor accidents at least once a minute; everybody was rushing off to- ward the farthest palm--and beyond that was the desert and nothing- ness. Hollywood Sams stood in front of swank  restaurants, arguing exactly the same way Broadway Sams argue at Jacob's  Beach, New York, only here they wore light-weight suits and their talk was cornier. Tall, cadaverous preachers shuddered by. Fat screaming women  ran across the boulevard to get in line for the quiz shows. I saw Jerry Co- lonna buying a car at Buick Motors; he was inside the vast plate-glass window, fingering his mustachio. Terry and I ate in a cafeteria down- town which was decorated to look like a grotto, with metal tits spurt- ing  everywhere and great impersonal stone buttockses belonging to deities and  soapy Neptune. People ate lugubrious meals around the waterfalls, their  faces green with marine sorrow. All the cops in LA looked like handsome  gigolos; obviously they'd come to LA to make the movies. Everybody had come to make the movies, even me. Terry and I were finally reduced to trying to get jobs on South Main Street among the beat countermen and dishgirls who made no bones about their beatness, and even there it was no go. We still had ten dollars.
"Man, I'm going to get my clothes from Sis and we'll hitchhike to New York," said Terry. "Come on, man. Let's do it. If you can't boo- gie I know I'll show you how.'" That last part was a song of hers she kept singing. We hurried to her sister's house in the sliverous Mexican shacks somewhere beyond Alameda Avenue. I waited in a dark alley behind Mexican kitchens because her sister wasn't supposed to see me. Dogs ran by. There were little lamps illuminating the little rat alleys. I could hear Terry and her sister arguing in the soft, warm night. I was ready for anything.
Terry came out and led me by the hand to Central Avenue,which is the colored main drag of LA. And what a wild place it is, with chickenshacks barely big enough to house a jukebox, and the jukebox blowing nothing but blues, bop, and jump. We went up dirty tenement stairs  and came to the room of Terry's friend Margarina, who owed Terry a skirt and a pair of shoes. Margarina was a lovely mulatto; her husband  was  black  as  spades  and  kindly.  He  went  right  out  and bought a pint of whisky to host me proper. I tried to pay part of it, but he said no. They had two little children. The kids bounced on the bed; it was their play-place. They put their arms around me and looked at me with wonder. The wild humming night  of Central Avenue--the night of Hamp's "Central Avenue  Breakdown"--howled and boomed along outside. They were singing in the halls, singing from their win- dows, just hell be damned and look out. Terry got her clothes and we said good-by. We went down to a chickenshack and played records on the jukebox. A couple of Negro characters whispered in my ear about tea. One buck. I said okay, bring it. The connection came in and mo- tioned me to the cellar toilet, where I stood around dumbly as he said, "Pick up, man, pick up."
"Pick up what?" I said. 
He had my dollar already. He was afraid to point at the floor. It was  no floor, just basement. There lay something that looked like a little brown turd. He was absurdly cautious. "Got to look out for my- self, things ain't cool this past week." I picked up the turd, which was a brown-paper cigarette, and went back to Terry, and off we went to the hotel room to get high. Nothing happened. It was Bull Durham tobac- co. I wished I was wiser with my money.
Terry and I had to decide absolutely and once and for all what to do. We decided to hitch to New York with our remaining money. She  picked up five dollars from her sister that night. We had about thirteen or less. So before the daily room rent was due again we packed up and took off on a red car to Arcadia, California, where Santa Anita racetrack is located  under snow-capped mountains. It was night. We were  pointed  toward  the  American  continent.  Holding  hands,  we walked several miles down the  road to get out of the populated dis- trict. It was a Saturday night. We stood under a roadlamp, thumbing, when suddenly cars full of young kids roared by with streamers flying. "Yaah! Yaah! we won! we won!" they all shouted. Then they yoohooed us and got great glee out of seeing a guy and a girl on the road. Dozens of such cars passed, full of young faces and "throaty young voices," as the saying goes. I hated every one of them. Who did they think  they were, yaahing at somebody on the road just because they were little high-school punks and their parents carved the roast beef on Sunday afternoons? Who did they think they were, making fun of a girl re- duced to poor circumstances with a man who wanted to belove? We were minding our own business. And we didn't get a blessed ride.
We had to walk back to town, and worst of all we needed coffee and had the misfortune of going into the only place open, which was a high-school soda fountain, and all the kids were there and remembered us. Now they saw that Terry was Mexican, a Pachuco wildcat; and that her boy was worse than that.
 With her pretty nose in the air she cut out of there and we wan- dered together in the dark up along the ditches of the highways. I car- ried the  bags. We were breathing fogs in the cold night air. I finally decided  to  hide  from  the world one  more night  with  her,  and the morning be damned. We went into a motel court and bought a com- fortable  little  suite  for  about  four dollars--shower,  bathtowels,  wall radio, and all. We held each other tight. We had long, serious talks and took baths and discussed things  with the light on and then with the light out. Something was being proved, I was convincing her of some- thing, which she accepted, and we concluded  the pact in the dark, breathless, then pleased, like little lambs.
In the morning we boldly struck out on our new plan. We were going to take a bus to Bakersfield and work picking grapes. After a few weeks of that we were headed for New York in the proper way, by bus. It was a wonderful afternoon, riding up to Bakersfield with Terry: we sat back, relaxed, talked, saw the countryside roll by, and didn't worry about a thing. We arrived in Bakersfield in late afternoon. The plan was to hit every fruit wholesaler in town. Terry said we could live in tents on the job. The thought  of living in a tent and picking grapes in the cool California mornings hit me right. But there were no jobs to be had, and much confusion, with everybody giving us innumerable tips, and no job materialized. Nevertheless we ate a Chinese dinner and set out with reinforced bodies. We went across the SP tracks to Mexican town. Terry jabbered with her brethren, asking for jobs. It  was night now, and the little Mextown street was one blazing bulb of  lights: movie marquees, fruit stands, penny arcades, five-and-tens, and hundreds of rickety  trucks  and  mud-spattered  jalopies,  parked.  Whole  Mexican fruit-picking families wandered around eating popcorn. Terry talked to everybody. I was beginning to despair. What I needed--what Terry needed, too--was a drink, so we bought a quart of California port for thirty-five cents and went to the railroad yards to drink. We found a place where hobos had drawn up crates to sit over fires. We sat there and drank the wine. On our left were the freight cars, sad and sooty red beneath the moon; straight ahead the lights and airport pokers of Bakersfield  proper;  to  our  right  a  tremendous  aluminum  Quonset warehouse. Ah, it  was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night,  and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heavengoing. This we  did. She was a drinking little fool and kept up with me and passed me  and  went right on talking till mid- night. We never budged from those crates. Occasionally bums passed, Mexican mothers passed with children, and the prowl car came by and the cop got out to leak, but most of the time we were alone and mixing up our souls ever more and ever more till it would be terribly hard to say good-by. At midnight we got up and goofed toward the highway.
Terry had a new idea. We would hitchhike to Sabinal, her ho- metown, and live in her brother's garage. Anything was all right with me.  On  the road I made Terry sit down on my bag to make her look like a woman in distress, and right off a truck stopped and we ran for it, all glee-giggles. The man was a good man; his truck was poor. He roared and  crawled on up the valley. We got to Sabinal in the wee hours before  dawn.  I had finished the wine while Terry slept, and I was proper stoned.  We got out and roamed the quiet leafy square of the little California town--a whistle stop on the SP. We went to find her brother's buddy, who would tell us where he was. Nobody home. As dawn began to break I lay flat on my  back in the lawn of the town square and kept saying over and over again,  "You won't tell what he done up in Weed, will you? What'd he do up in Weed? You won't tell will you? What'd he do up in Weed?" This was from  the picture Of Mice and Men, with Burgess Meredith talking to the  foreman of the ranch. Terry giggled. Anything I did was all right with her. I could lie there and go on doing that till the ladies came out for church and she wouldn't care. But finally I decided we'd be all set soon because of her brother, and I took her to an old hotel by the tracks and we went to bed comfortably. 
In the bright, sunny morning Terry got up early and went to find her brother. I slept till noon; when I looked out the window I sud- denly saw an SP freight going by with hundreds of hobos reclining on the flatcars and rolling merrily along with packs for pillows and funny papers  before  their  noses,  and  some  munching  on  good  California grapes pickfed up by the  siding. "Damn!" I yelled. "Hooee! It is the promised land." They were all coming from Frisco; in a week they'd all be going back in the same grand style.
Terry arrived with her brother, his buddy, and her child. Her brother was a wild-buck Mexican hotcat with a hunger for booze, a great good kid. His buddy was a big flabby Mexican who spoke Eng- lish without  much accent and was loud and overanxious to please. I could see he had eyes for Terry. Her little boy was Johnny, seven years old, dark-eyed and sweet. Well, there we were, and another wild day began.
Her brother's name was Rickey. He had a '38 Chevy. We piled into that and took off for parts unknown. "Where we going?" I asked. The buddy did the explaining--his name was Ponzo, that's what every- body called him. He stank. I found out why. His business was selling manure to farmers; he  had a truck. Rickey always had three or four dollars in his pocket and was happy-go-lucky about things. He always said, "That's right, man, there you go--dah you go, dah you go!" And he went. He drove seventy miles an hour in the old heap, and we went to Madera beyond Fresno to see some farmers about manure.
Rickey had a bottle. "Today we drink, tomorrow we work. Dah you  go, man--take a shot!" Terry sat in back with her baby; I looked back at her  and saw the flush of homecoming joy on her face. The beautiful green countryside of October in California reeled by madly. I was guts and juice  again and ready to go.  "Where do we go now, man?" 
"We go find a farmer with some manure laying around. Tomor- row we drive back in the truck and pick it up. Man, we'll make a lot of money. Don't worry about nothing."
"We're all in this together!" yelled Ponzo. I saw that was so--everywhere I went, everybody was in it together. We raced through the  crazy streets of Fresno and on up the valley to some farmers in back roads. Ponzo got out of the car and conducted confused conversa- tions with old Mexican farmers; nothing, of course, came of it.
"What we need is a drink!" yelled Rickey, and off we went to a crossroads saloon. Americans are always drinking in crossroads sa- loons  on  Sunday  afternoon;  they  bring  their kids;  they  gabble  and brawl over brews; everything's fine. Come nightfall the kids start cry- ing and the  parents are drunk. They go weaving back to the house. Everywhere in America I've been in crossroads saloons drinking with dull; whole families. The kids eat popcorn and chips and play in back. This we did. Rickey and I and Ponzo and Terry sat drinking and shout- ing  with  the  music;  little  baby  Johnny  goofed  with  other  children around the jukebox. The sun began to get red. Nothing had been ac- complished. What was there to accomplish? "iMananai" said Rickey. "iMananai, man, we make it; have another beer,  man, dah you go,idab you goi!"
We staggered out and got in the car; off we went to a highway bar.  Ponzo was a big, loud, vociferous type who knew everybody in San Joaquin Valley. From the highway bar I went with him alone in the car to find a farmer; instead we wound up in Madera Mextown, dig- ging the girls and  trying to pick up a few for him and Rickey. And then, as purple dusk descended over the grape country, I found myself sitting dumbly in the car as he argued with some old Mexican at the kitchen door about the price of a watermelon the old man grew in the back yard. We got the watermelon; we ate it on the spot and threw the rinds on the old man's dirt sidewalk. All kinds of pretty little girls were cutting down the darkening street. I said, "Where in the hell are we?"
 "Don't worry, man," said big Ponzo. "Tomorrow we make a lot of money; tonight we don't worry." We went back and picked up Terry and her brother and the kid and drove to Fresno in the highway lights of night. We  were all raving hungry. We bounced over the railroad tracks in Fresno and  hit the wild streets of Fresno Mextown. Strange Chinese  hung  out  of  windows,  digging  the  Sunday  night  streets; groups  of Mex  chicks  swaggered around  in  slacks;  mambo blasted from jukeboxes; the lights were festooned around like Halloween. We went into a Mexican restaurant and had tacos and mashed pinto beans rolled in tortillas; it was delicious. I whipped out my last shining five- dollar bill which stood between me and the New Jersey shore and paid for Terry and me. Now I had four bucks. Terry  and I looked at each other.
"Where we going to sleep tonight, baby?" "I don't know."
Rickey was drunk; now all he was saying was, "Dah you go,man--dah you go, man," in a tender and tired voice. It had been a long day. None of us knew what was going on, or what the Good Lord ap- pointed.  Poor little Johnny fell asleep on my arm. We drove back to Sabinal. On the way we pulled up sharp at a roadhouse on Highway 99. Rickey wanted one last beer. In back of the roadhouse were trailers and  tents and a few rickety motel-style rooms. I inquired about the price and it was two bucks. I asked Terry how about it, and she said fine because we had the kid on our hands now and had to make him comfortable. So after a  few beers in the saloon, w............
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