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Part Two Chapter 5

I left everybody and went home to rest. My aunt said I was wasting my time hanging around with Dean and his gang. I knew that was wrong, too. Life is life, and kind is kind. What I wanted was to take one more magnificent trip to the West Coast and get back in time for the spring semester in school.  And  what a trip it turned out to be! I only went along for the ride, and to see what else Dean was going to do, and fi- nally, also, knowing Dean would go back to Camille in Frisco, I wanted to have an affair with Marylou. We  got  ready to cross the groaning continent again. I drew my GI check and gave Dean eighteen dollars to mail to his wife; she was waiting for him to come home and she was broke. What was on Marylou's mind I don't know. Ed Dunkel, as ever, just followed.There were long, funny days spent in Carlo's apartment beforewe  left.  He  went  around  in  his  bathrobe  and  made  semi-ironical speeches: "Now I'm not trying to take your hincty sweets from you, but it  seems to me the time has come to decide what you are and what you're going to do." Carlo was working as typist in an office. "I want to know what  all  this sitting around the house all day is intended to mean. What all this talk is and what you propose to do. Dean, why did you leave Camille and pick up Marylou?" No answer--giggles. "Mary- lou, why are you traveling around the country like this and what are your womanly intentions  concerning the shroud?" Same answer. "Ed Dunkel, why did you abandon your new wife in Tucson and what are you doing here sitting on your big fat ass? Where's your home? What's your job?" Ed Dunkel bowed his head in genuine befuddlement. "Sal-- how comes  it you've fallen on such sloppy days and what have you done with Lucille?" He adjusted his bathrobe and sat facing us all. "The days of wrath are yet to  come. The balloon won't sustain you much longer. And not only that, but it's an abstract balloon. You'll all go fly- ing to the West Coast and come  staggering back in search of your stone."
In these days Carlo had developed a tone of voice which he hoped sounded like what he called The Voice of Rock; the whole idea was to stun people into the realization of the rock. "You pin a dragon to your hats," he  warned us; "you're up in the attic with the bats." His mad  eyes  glittered  at  us.  Since  the  Dakar  Doldrums  he  had  gone through a terrible period which he called the Holy Doldrums, or Har- lem Doldrums, when he lived in Harlem in midsummer and at night woke up in his lonely room and heard "the great machine" descending from the sky; and when he walked on 12 5th Street "under water" with all the other fish. It was a riot of radiant ideas that had come to enligh- ten his brain. He made Marylou sit on his lap and commanded her to subside. He told Dean, "Why don't you just sit down and relax? Why do you jump around so much?" Dean ran around, putting sugar in his coffee and saying, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" At night Ed Dunkel slept on the floor on cushions, Dean and Marylou pushed Carlo out of bed, and Carlo sat up in the kitchen over his kidney stew, mumbling the predic- tions of the rock. I came in days and watched everything.Ed Dunkel said to me, "Last night I walked clear down to Times Square and just as I arrived I suddenly realized I was a ghost--it was my ghost walking on the sidewalk." He said these things to me without comment, nodding his head emphatically. Ten hours later, in the midst of someone else's conversation, Ed said, "Yep, it was my ghost walking on the sidewalk."
Suddenly Dean leaned to me earnestly and said, "Sal, I have something to ask of you--very important to me--I wonder how you'll take it--we're buddies, aren't we?"
"Sure are, Dean." He almost blushed. Finally he came out with it: he wanted me to work Marylou. I didn't ask him why because I knew he wanted to see what Marylou was like with another man. We were sitting  in Ritzy's Bar when he proposed the idea; we'd spent an hour walking Times Square, looking for Hassel. Ritzy's Bar is the hood- lum bar of the  streets around Times Square; it changes names every year. You walk in  there and you don't see a single girl, even in the booths, just a great mob of young men dressed in all varieties of hood- lum cloth, from red shirts to zoot suits. It is also the hustlers' bar--the boys who make a living among the sad old homos of the Eighth Ave- nue night. Dean walked in there with his eyes slitted to see every sin- gle face. There were wild Negro queers, sullen guys with guns, shiv- packing seamen, thin, noncommittal junkies, and an  occasional well- dressed middle-aged detective, posing as a boo............

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