In response to Simon Morris’s “Getting Inside Jack Kerouac’s Head”, I marathon retyped all of Jack Kerouac’s The Subterraneans on Friday, November 30, 2012. Typos were edited only if noticed during the performance. All conditions were at the mercy of the technology.
from the Bromberg weekend—something is caught in both our throats, I don’t know what, she does. “Baby I’m going to tell you something and it I tell it to you I want you to promise nevertheless you’ll come up to the movie with me. “—”Okay.”—And naturally I add, after pause, “What is it?—I think it has something to do with “Let’s break up really and truly, I don’t want to make it, not because I don’t like you but it’s y now or should be obvious to both of us by now—” that kind of argument that I can, as of yore and again, break, by saying, “But let’s, look, I have, wait—” for always the man can make the little woman bend, she was made to bend, the little woman was—so I wait confidently for this kind of talk, to feel bleak, tragic, grim, and the air cold.—”You know the other night” (she spends some time trying to order confused night of recent—and I help her straighten them out, and have my arm around her wait, as we cut along we come closer to the brittle jewel lights of Price and Columbus that old North Beach corner so weird and ever weirder now and I have my private thoughts straight about it as from older scenes in my San Francisco life, in brief, almost smug and snug in the rug of myself—in any case we agree that the night she means to tell me about is Saturday night, which was the night I cried in the railyards—that short sudden as I say crying, that vision—I’m trying in fact to interpose and tell her about it, trying also to figure out if she means now that on Saturday night something awful happened that I should know—). “Well I went to Dante’s and didn’t want to stay, and tried to leave—and Yuri was trying to hang around—and he called somebody—and I was at the phone—and told Yuri he was wanted” ( as incoherent as that) “and while he is in the booth I cut on home, because I was tired—baby at two o’clock in the morning he came and knocked on the door—” “Why?”—”For a place to sleep, he was drunk, he rushed in—and—well—.” “Huh?” “Well baby we made it together,”—that hip word—at the sound of which even as I walked and my legs propelled under me and my feet felt firm, the lower part of my stomach sagged into my pants or loins and the body exprieneced a sensation of deep melting downgoing into some soft somewhere, nowhere—suddenly the streets were so bleack, the people passing so beastly, the lights so unnecessary just to illumine this… this cutting world—it was going across the cobbles when she said it, “made it together,” I had (locomotive wise) to concentrate on getting up on the curb again and I didn’t look at her—I looked down Columbus and thought of walking away, rapidly, as I’d done at Larry’s—I didn’t—I said “I don’t want to live in this beastly world”—but so low she barely if at all heard me and if so never commented, but after a pause she added a few things, like, “There are other details, like, what—but I won’t go into them—like,” stammering, and slow—yet both of us swinging along in the street to the show—the show being Brave Bulls (I cried to see the grief in the matador when he heard his best friend and girl had gone off the mountain in his own car, I cried to see even the bull that I knew would die and I knew the big deaths bulls do die in their trap called bullring)—I wanted to run away from Mardou. (“Look man,” she’d said only a week before when I’d suddenly started talking about Adam and Eve and referred to her as Eve, the woman who by her beauty is able to make the man do anything, “don’t call me Eve.”)—But now no matter—walking along, at one point so irritable to my senses she stopped short on the rainy sidewalk and cool said “I need a neckerchief” and turned to go into the store and I turned and followed her from reluctant ten feet back realizing I hadn’t known what was going on in my mind really ever since Price and Columbus and here we were on Market—while she’s in the store I keep haggling with myself, shall I just go now, I have my fare, just cut down the street swiftly and go home and when she comes out she’ll see you’re gone, she’ll know you broke the promise to go to the movies just like you broke a lot of promises but this is enough—I feel stabbed by Yuri—by Mardou I feel forsaken and shamed—I turn to look in the store blindly at anything and there she comes at just that moment wearing a phosphorescent purple bandana (because big raindrops had just started flying and she didn’t want the rain to string out her carefully combed for the movies hair and here she was spending her small monies on kerchiefs.)—In the movie I hold her hand, after a fifteen-minute wait, not thinking to at all not because this time to take her hand in the movieshow, like lovers—but I took her hand, she was warm, lost—ask not the sea why the eyes of the dark-eyed woman are strange and lost—came out of the movie, I glum, she businesslike to get through the cold to the bus, where at the bus stop, she walked away from me to lead to a warmer waiting place and (as I said) I’d mentally accused her of wanderingfoot. Arriving home, where we sat, she on my lap, after a long warm talk with John Golz, who came in to see her, but found me too, and might have left, but in my new spirit I wanted at once to show him that I respected and like him, and talked with him, and he stayed two hours—in fact I saw how he annoyed Mardou by talking literature with her beyond the point where she was interested and also about things she’d long known about—poor Mardou. So he left, and I curled her on my lap, and she talked about the war between men—”They have a war, to them a woman is a prize, to Yuri it’s just that your prize has less value now.” “Yeah,” I say, sad, “but I should have paid more attention to the old junkey nevertheless, who said there’s a lover on every corner—they’re all the same, boy, don’t get hung-up one one.” “It isn’t true, it isn’t true, that’s just what Yuri wants is for you to go down to Dante’s now and and the two you’ll laugh and talk over and agree that women are good lays and there a lot of them.—I think you’re like me—you want one love—like, men have the essence in the woman, there’s an essence” (“Yes,” I thought, “there’s an essence, and that is your womb”) “and the man has it in his hand, but rushes off to build a big constructions.” (I’d just read her the first few pages of Finnegans Wake and explained them and where Finnegan is always putting up “buildung supra buildung supra buildung” on the banks of the Liffey—dung!) “I will say nothing,” I thought—”Will you think I am not a man if I don’t get mad?” “Just like that war I told you about.” “Women have wars too—” Oh what’ll we do? I think—now I go home, and it’s all over for sure, not only is she bored and has had enough but has pierced me with an adultery of a kind, has been inconstant, as prophesied in a dream, the dream the bloody dream—I see myself grabbing Yuri by the shirt and throwing him on the floor, he pulls out a Yugoslavian knife, I pick up a chair to bash him with, everybody’s watching … but I continue the daydream and I look into his eyes and I see suddenly the glare of a jester angel who made his presence on earth all a joke and I realize that this too with Mardou was a joke and I think, “Funny Angel, elevated amongst the subterraneans.” “Baby it’s up to you,” is what she’s actually saying, “about how many times you wanted see me and all that—but I want to be independent like I say.” And I go home having lost her love. And write this book.
(through with my baby!), rushed up to Adam and Frank’s, woke them up again, wrestled on the floor, made noise, Sam tore my T-shirt off, bashed the lamp in, drank a fifth of bourbon as of old in our tremendous days together, it was just another big downcrashing in the night and all for nothing… waking up, I, in the morning with the final hangover that said to me, “Too late”— and got up and staggered to the door through the debris, and opened it, and went home, Adam saying to me as he heard me fiddle with the groaning faucet, “Leo go home and recuperate well,” sensing how sick I was tho no knowing about Mardou and me—and at home I wandered around, couldn’t stay in the house, couldn’t stop, had to walk, as if someone was going to die soon, as if I could smell the flowers of death in the air, and I went in the South Francisco railyard and cried. Cried in the railyard sitting on an old piece of iron under the new moon and on the side of the old Southern Pacific tracks, cried because not only I had cast off Mardou whom now I was not so sure I wanted to cast off but the the die’d been thrown, feeling too her empathetic tears across the night and the final horror both of us round-eyed realizing we part—but seeing suddenly not in the face of the moon but somewhere in the sky as I looked up and hoped to figure, the face of my mother—remembering it in fact from a haunted nap just after supper that same restless unable-to-stay-in-a-chair or on-earth day—just as I woke up some Arthur Godfrey program on the TV, I saw bending over me the visage of my mother, with impenetrable eyes and moveless lips and round cheekbones and glasses that glinted and hid major horror that I might shudder at, but it didn’t make me shudder—wondering about it on the walk and suddenly now in the railyards weeping for my lost Mardou and so stupidly because I’d decided to throw her away myself, it had been a vision of my mother’s love for me—that expressionless and expressionless-because-so-profound face bending over me in the vision of my sleep, and with lips not so pressed together as enduring and as if to say, “Pauvre Ti Leo, tu souffri, les hommes souffri tant, y’ainque toi dans le monde j’va’t prendre soin, j’aim’ra beaucoup t’prendre soin tous tes jours mon ange.”—”Poor little Leo, poor Little Leo, you suffer, men suffer so, you’re all alone in the world I’ll take care of you, I would very much like to take care of you all your days my angel.”—My mother an angel too—the tears welled up in my eyes, something broke, I cracked—I had been sitting for an hour, in front of me was Butler Road and the gigantic rose neon tne blocks long BETHLEHEM WEST COAST STEEL with stars above and the smashby Zipper and the fragrance of locomotive coalsmoke as I sit there and let them pass and far down the line in the night around that South San Francisco airport you can see that sonofabitch red light waving Mars signal light swimming in the dark big red markers blowing up and down and sending fires in the keenpure lostpurity lovelyskies of old California in the late sad night of autumn spring comefall winter’s summertime tall, like trees—the only man in South City who ever walked from the neat suburban homes and went and hid by boxcars to think—thought and the Good Lord or whatever’s put me here to suffer and groan and on top of that be guilaty and gives me the flesh and blood that is so painful the—women all mean well—this I knew—women love, bend over you—you’d as soon betray a woman’s love as spit on your own feet, clay— That sudden short crying the railyard and for a reason I really didn’t fathom, and couldn’t—saying to myself in the bottom, “You see a vision of the face of the woman who is your mother who loves you so much she has supported you and protected you for years, you a bum, a drunkard—never complained a jot—because she knows that in your present state you can’t go out in the world and make a living and take care of yourself and even find and hold the love of another protecting woman—and all because you are poor stupid TI Leo—deep in the dark pit of night under the stars of the world you are lost, poor, no one cares, and now you threw away a little woman’s love because you wanted another drink with a rowdy fiend from the other side of your insanity.” And as always Ending with the great sorrow of Price Street when Mardou and I, reunited on Sunday night according to my schedule (I’d made that week thinking in a yard tea-reverie, “This is the cleverest arrangement I ever made, why with this thing I can live a full love-life,” conscious or Mardou’s Reichian worth, and at the same time write those three novels and be a big— etc.) (schedule all written out, and delivered to Mardou for her perusal, it said, “Go to Mardou at 9 in the evening, sleep return following noon for afternoon of writing and evening supper and aftersupper rest and then return at 9 P.M. again,” with holes in the schedule left open on weekends for “possible going out”) (getting plastered)—with this schedule still in mind and after spending the weekend at home steeped in that awful—I rushed anyway to Mardou’s on Sunday night at 9 P.M., as scheduled, there was no light in her window (“Just as I knew it would happen someday”)—but on the door on a note, and for me, which I read after quick leak in the hall john— “Dear Leo, I’ll be back at 10:30,” and the door (as always) unlocked and I go in to wait and read Reich—carrying again my big forwardlooking healthybook Reich and ready at least to “throw a good one in her” in case it’s all bound to end this very night and sitting there eyes shifting around and plotting—11:30 and she hasn’t come yet—fearing me—missing—(“Leo,” later, she told me, “I really thought we were through, that you wouldn’t come back at all”)—nevertheless she’d left that Bird of Paradise note for me, always and still hoping and not aiming to hurt me and keep me waiting in the dark—but because she does return at 11:30 I cut out, to Adam’s, leaving message for her to call, with ramifications that I erase after a while—all a host of minor details leading to the great sorrow of Price Street taking place after we spend a night of “successful” sex, when I tell her, “Mardou you’ve become much more precious to me since everything that happened,” and because of that, as we agree, I am able to make her fulfill better, which she does—twice, in fact, and for the first time—spending a whole sweet afternoon as if reunited but at intervals poor Mardou looking up and saying, “But we should really break up,we’ve never done anything together, we were going to Mexico, and then you were going to get a job and we’d live together, then remember the loft idea, all big phantasm that like haven’t worked out because you haven’t pushed them from your mind ut into the open world, haven’t acted on them, and like, me, I don’t—I’ve missed my therapist for weeks.” (She’d written a fine letter that very day to the therapist begging forgiveness and permission to come back in a few weeks and advice for her lostness and I’d approved of it.)—All of this unreal from the moment I walked into Heavenly Lane after my crying-in-the-railyard lonely dark sojourn at home to see her light was out at last (as deeply promised), but the note, saving us awhile, my finding her a little later that night as she did finally call me at Adam’s and told me to come to Rita;s, where I brought beer, then Mike Murphy came and he brough beer too—ending with another silly yelling conversation drunk night.—Mardou saying in the morning, “Do you remember anything you said last night to Mike and Rita?” and me, “Of course not.”—The whole day, borrowed from the sky day, sweet—we make love and try to make promises of little kinds—no go, as in the evening she says “Let’s go to a show” (with her pitiful check money).—”Jesus, we’ll spend your money.”—”Well goddamnit I don’t care, I’m going to spend that money and that’s all there is to it,” with great emphasis—so she puts on her black velvet slacks and some perfume and I go up and smell her neck and God, how sweet can you smell—and I want her more than ever, in my arms she’s gone—in my hand she’s as slippy as dust—something’s wrong.—”Did I cut you when I jumped out of the cab?”—”Leo, it was baby, it was the most maniacal thing I ever saw.”—”I’m sorry.”—”I know you’re sorry but it was the most maniacal thing I ever saw and it keeps happening and getting worse and like, now, oh hell—let’s got to a show.”—So we go out, and she has on this little heartbreaking never-seen-by-me before red raincoat over the black velvet slacks and cuts along, with black short hair making her look so strange, like a—like someone in Paris—I have on just my old ex-brakeman railroad Cant Bust Ems and a workshirt without undershirt and suddenly it’s cold October out there, and with with gusts of rain, so I shiver at her side as we hurry up Price Street—towards Market, shows—I remember that afternoon returning
n.—But I feel that because Jones does not move from his couch he really doesn’t want to talk to me and probably wishes secretly I’d leave, when Mardou roams back again to my bed of shame and sorrow and hidingplace, I say, “What are you talking about in there, bop? Don’t tell him anything about music.”—(Let him find out for himself! I say to myself petishly)—I’m the bop writer!—But as I’m commissioned to get the beer downstairs, when I come in again with beer in arms they’re all in the kitchen, Mac foremost, smiling, and saying, “Leo! let me see those drawings they told me you did, I want to see them.”—So we become friends again bending over drawings and Yuri has to be showing his too (he draws) and Mardou is in the other room, again forgotten—but it is a historic moment and we also, with Carmody, study Carmody’s South American belak pictures of high jungle village and Andean towns where you can see the clouds pass, I notice Mac’s expensive good-looking clothes, wrist watch, I feel proud of him and how he has an attractive little mustache that his maturity—which I announce to everyone—the beer by now warming us all up, and then his wife Phyllis begins a supper and the conviviality flows back and forth— In the red bulblight parlor in fact I see Jones alone with Mardou questioning, as if interviewing her, I see that he’s grinning and saying to himself ‘Old Percepied’s got himself another amazing doll’ and I inside yearn to myself, “Yeah for how long”—and he’s listening to Mardou, who, impressed, forewarned understanding everything makes solemn statements about bop, like, “I don’t like bop, I really don’t , it’s like junk to me, too many junkies are bop men and I hear the junk in it.”—”Well,” Mac adjusting glasses, “that’s interesting.”—And I go up and say,”But you never like what come from” (looking at Mardou).—”What do you mean?”—”You’re the child of Bop,” or the children of bop, some such statement, which Mac and I agree on—so that later when we all the whole gang troop out to further festivities of the night, and Mardou, wearing Adam’s long black velvet jacket (for her long) and a mad long scarf too, looking like a little Polish underground girl or boy in a sewer beneath the city and cute and hip, and in the street rushes up from one group to the one I’m in, and I reach out she reaches me (I’m wearing Carmody’s felt hat straight on my head like hipster for joke and my red shirt still, now defunct from weekends) and sweep her littleness off her feet and up against me and go on walking carrying her, I hear Mac’s appreciative “Wow” and “Go” laugh in the background and I think proudly “He sees now that I have a real great chick—that I am not dead but going on—old continuous Percepied—never getting older, always in there, always with the young, the new generations—.” A motely group in any case going down the street what with Adam Moorad wearing a full tuxedo borrowed from Sam the night before so he could attend some opening with tickets free from his office—trooping down to Dante’s and Mask again—that Mask, that old po mask all the time—Dante’s where in the rise and roar of the social and gab excitement I looked up many times to catch Mardou’s eyes and play eyes with her but she seemed reluctant, abstract, brooding—no longer affectionate of me—sick of all our talk, with Bromberg re-arriving and great further discourses and that particular noxious group-enthusiasm that you’re supposed to feel when like Mardou you’re with a star of the group or even I mean just a member of that constellation, how noisome, tiresome it must have been to her to have to appreciate all we were saying, to be amazed by the latest quip from the lips of the one and only, the newest manifestation of the same old dreary mystery of personality in KaJa the great—disgusted she seemed indeed, and looking into space. So later when in my drunkenness I managed to get Paddy Cordavan over to our table and he invited us all to his place for further drinking (the usually unattainable social Paddy Cordavan due to his woman who always wanted to go home alone with him, Paddy Cordavan of whom Buddy Pnd had said, “He’s too beautiful I can’t look,” tall, blond, big-jawed somber Montana cowboy slowmoving, slow talking, slow shouldered) Mardou wasn’t impressed, as she wanted to get away from Paddy and all the other subterraneans of Dante’s anyway, whom I had just freshly annoyed by yelling again at Julien, “Come here, we’re all going to Paddy’s party and Julien’s coming,” at which Julien immediately leaped up and rushed back to Ross Wallenstein and the others at their own booth, thinking, “God that awful Percepied is screaming at me and trying to drag me to his silly places again, I wish someone would do something about him.” And Mardou wasn’t any further impressed when, at Yuri’s insistence, I went to the phone and spoke to Sam (calling from work) and agreed to meet him later at the bar across from the office—”We’ll all go! we’ll all go!” I’m screaming by now and even Adam and Frank are yawning ready to go home and Jones is long gone—rushing around up and down Paddy’s stairs for further calls with Sam and at one point where I am rushing into Paddy’s kitchen to get Mardou to come meet Sam with me and Ross Wallenstein having arrived while I was in the bar calling says, looking up, “Who let this guy in, hye, who is this? how’d you get in here! Hey Paddy!” in serious continuation of his original dislike and “are-you-a-fag” come-on which I ignored, saying, “Brither I’ll take the fuzz off your peach if you don’t shut up,” or some such putdown, can’t remember, strong enough to make him swivel like a soldier, the way he does, stiff necked, and retire—I dragging Mardou down to a cab to rush to Sam’s and all this wild world swirling night and she in her little voice I hear protesting from far away, “But Leo, dear Leo, I want to go home and sleep.”—”Ah hell!” and I give Sam’s address to the taxidriver , she says NO, insists, gives Heavenly Lane, “Take me there first and then go to Sam’s” but I’m really seriously hung-up on the undeniable fact that if I take her to Heavenly Lane first the cab will never make it to Sam’s waiting bar before closing time, so I argue, we harangue hurling different addresses at the cab driver who like in a movie waits, but suddenly, with that red flame that same red flame (for want of a better image) I leap out of the cab and rush out and there’s another one, I jump in, give Sam’s address and off he guns her—Mardou left in the night, in a cab, sick, and tired, and me intending to pay the second cab with the buck she’d entrusted to Adam to get her a sandwich but which in the turmoil had forgotten but he gave it to me for her—poor Mardou going home alone, again, and drunken maniac was gone. Well I thought, this is the end—I finally made the step and by God I paid her back for what she done to me—it had to come and this is it—ploop.
Isn’t it good to know winter is coming— and that life will be a little more quiet— and you will be home writing and eating well and we will be spending pleasant nights wrapped round one another—and you are home now, rested and eating well because you should not become too sad—and I feel better when I know you are well. and Write to me Anything Please stay well Your friend And my love And oh And Love for You MARDOU Please
BUT THE DEEPEST premonition and prophesy of all had always been, that I walked into Heavenly Lane, cutting in sharply from sidewalk, I’d look up, and if Mardou’s light was on Mardou’s light was on—”But some day, dear Leo, that light will not shine for you”—this a prophesy irrespective of all your Yuris and attenuations in the snake of time.—”Someday she won’t be be here when you want her to be there, the light’ll be out you’ll be looking up and it will be in dark in Heavenly Lane and Mardou’ll be gone, and it’ll be when you least expect it and want it.”—Always I knew this—it crossed my mind that night when I ran up, met Sam in the bar, he was with two newspapermen, we bought drinks, I spilled money on the floor, I hurried to get drunk
(through with my baby!), rushed up to Adam and Frank’s, woke them up again, wrestled on the floor, made noise, Sam tore my T-shirt off, bashed the lamp in, drank a fifth of bourbon as of old in our tremendous days together, it was just another big downcrashing in the night and all for nothing……
n.—But I feel that because Jones does not move from his couch he really doesn’t want to talk to me and probably wishes secretly I’d leave, when Mardou roams back again to my bed of shame and sorrow and hidingplace, I say, “What are you talking about in there, bop? Don’t tell him anything…
—but now in my hurt hate turning the other way and so walking down Price with her every time I see a Mexican girl or Negress I say to myself, “hustlers,” they’re all the same, always trying to cheat and rob you—harking back to all relations in the past with the—Mardou sensing these waves of hostility from me and silent. And who’s in our bed in Heavenly Lane but Yuri—cheerful—”Hey I been workin’ all day, so tired I had to come back and get some more rest.”—I decide to tell him everything, try to form the words in my mouth, Yuri sees my eyes, senses the tenseness, Mardou senses the tenseness, a knock on the door brings in John Golz (always romantically interested in Mardou in a naiver way), he senses the tenseness, “I’ve come to borrow a book”—grim expression on his face and remembering how I’d put him down about selectivity—so leaves at once, with book, and Yuri in getting up from bed (while Mardou hides behind screen to change from party dress to home jeans—”Leo hand me my pants.”—”Get up and get ‘em yourself, they’re there on the chair, she can’t see you”—a funny statement and my mind feels funny and I look at Mardou who is silent and inward.
The moment she goes to the bathroom I say to Yuri “I’m very jealous about you and Mardou in the backseat last night man, I really am.”—”It’s not my fault, it was her started it.”—
“Lissen, you’re such—like don’t let her, keep away—you’re such a lady-killer they all fall for you”—saying this just as Mardou returns, looking up sharply not hearing the words but seeing them in the air, and Yuri at once grabs the still open door and says “Well anyway I’m going to Adam’s I’ll see you there later.” “What did you tell Yuri—?” —I tell her word for word—”God the tenseness in here was unbearable”—(sheepishly I review the fact that instead of being stern and Moses-like in my jealousy and position I’d instead chatted with nervous “poet” talk with Yuri, as always, giving him the tension but not the positiveness of my feelings in words—sheepishly I review my sheepishness—I get sad to see old Carmody somehow— “Baby I’m gonna—you think they got chickens on Columbus?—I’ve seen some—And cook it, see, we’ll have a nice chicken supper.”—”And,” I say to myself, “what good is a nice domestic chicken supper when you love Yuri so much he has to leave the moment you walk in because of the pressure of my jealousy and your possibility as prophesied in a dream?” “I want” (out loud) “to see Carmody, I’m sad—you stay here, cook the chicken, eat—alone—I’ll come back as later and get you.”—”But it always starts off like this, we always go away, we never stay alone.”—”I know but tonight I’m sad I gotta tremendous sad desire and reason just to—after all I drew his picture the other day” (I had drawn my first pencil sketches of human figures reclining and they were greeted with amazement by Carmody and Adam and so I was proud) “and after all in drawing those shots of Frank the other day I saw such great sadness in the lines under his eyes that I know he—” (to myself: I know he’ll understand how sad I am now, I know he has suffered on four continents this way).—Pondering Mardou does not know which way to turn but suddenly I tell her of my quick talk with Yuri the part I’d forgotten in the first report (and here too) “He said tome ‘Leo I don’t want to make your girl Mardou, after all I have no eyes—’.” “Oh, so he has no eyes! A hell of a thing to say!” (the same teeth of glee now the portals where pass angry winds, and her eyes glitter) and I hear that junkey-like emphasis on the ings where she presses down on her ings like many junkies I know, from some inside heavy somnolent reason, which in Mardou I’d attributed to her amazing modernness culled (as I once asked her) “From where? where did you learn all you know and that amazing way you speak?” but now to hear about that interesting ing only makes me mad as it’s coming in a transparent speech about Yuri where she shows she’s not really against seeing Yuri again at party or otherwise, “if he’s gonna talk like that about no eyes,” she’s gonna tell him.—”O,” I say, “now you WANT to come to the party at Adam’s, because there you can get even with Yuri and tell him off—you’re so transparent.” “Jesus,” as we’re walking along the benches of the church park sad park of the whole summer season, “now you’re calling me names, transparent.” “Well that’s what it is, you think I can’t see through that, at first you didn’t want to go to Adam’s at all and now that you hear—well the hell with that if it ain’t transparent I don’t know what is.”—”Calling me names, Jesus” (shnuffling to laugh) and both of us actually hysterically smiling and as tho nothing had happened at all and in fact like happy unconcerned people you see in newsreels busy going down the street to their chores and where-go’s and we’re in the same rainy newsreel mystery sad but inside of us (as must then be so inside the puppet filmdolls of screen) the great tumescent turbulent turmoil alliterative as a hammer on the brain bone bag and balls, bang I’m sorry I was ever born… To cap everything, as if if it wasn’t enough, the whole world opens up as Adam opens the door bowing solemnly but with a glint and secret in his ey and some kind of unwelcomness I bristle at the sight—”What’s the matter?” Then I sense the presence of more people in there than Frank and Adam and Yuri.—”We have visitors.”—”Oh,” I say, “distinguished visitors?”—”I think so.”—”Who?”—”Mac Jones and Phyllis.”—”What?” (the great moment has come when I’m to come face to face, or leave, with my arch literary enemy Baliol MacJones erstwhile so close to me we used to slop beer on each other’s knees in leaning-over talk excitement, we’d talked and exchanged and borrowed and read books and literalized so much the poor innocent had actually come under some kind of talk and style, mainly the history of the hip or beat generation or subterranean generation and I’d told him “Mac, write a great book about everything that happened when Leroy came to New York in 1949 and don’t leave a word out and blow, go!” which he did, and I read it, critically Adam and I in visits to his place both critical of the manuscript but when it came out they guarantee him 20,000 dollars an unheard of sum and all of us beat types wandering the Beach and Market Street and Times Square when in New York, tho Adam and I had solemnly admitted, quote, “Jones is not us—but from another world—the midtown sillies world” (an Adamism). And so his great success coming at the moment when I was poorest and most neglected by publishers and worse than that I was hung-up on paranoiac drug habits I became incensed but I didn’t get too mad, but stayed black about it, changing my mind after father time’s few local scythes and various misfortunes and trips around, writing him apologetic letters on ships which I tore up, he too writing them meanwhile, and then Adam acting a year later as some kind of saint and mediator reported favorable inclinations on both our parts, to both parties—the great moment when I would have to face old Mac and shake with him and call it quits, let go all the rancor—making as little impression on Mardou, who is so independent and unavailable in that new heartbreaking way. Anyway MacJones was there, immediately I said out loud “Good, great, I been wantin’ to see him, “ and I rushed into the living-room and over someone’s head who was getting up (Yuri it was) I shook hands firmly with Balliol, sat brooding awhile, didn’t even notice how poor Mardou had managed to position herself (here as at Bromberg’s as everywhere poor dark angel)—finally going to the bedroom unable to bear the polite conversation under which not only Yuri but Jones (and also PHyllis his woman who kept staring at me to see it it was still crazy) rumbled, I ran to the bedroom and lay in the dark and at the first opportunity tried to get Mardou to lie down with me but she said “Leo I don’t want to lay around in here in the dark.”—Yuri the coming over, putting on one of Adam’s ties, saying whispering rapport now way from them in the parlor—all’s forgeive
!”—I wish I had some sympathetic way to tell Bromberg, “Every time I come here there’s something wrong with me, it must seem like some awful comment on your house and hospitality and it isn’t at all, can’t you understand that this morning my heart is broken and out the window is bleak” (and how explain to him the other time I was a guest at his place, again uninvited but breaking in at grau dawn with Charley Krasner and the kids were there, and Mary, and the others came, gin and Schweppes I became so drunk, disorderly, lost, I then too brooded and slept in fact on the floor in the middle of the room in front of everybody in the height of day—and for reasons far removed from now, tho still as tho an adverse comment on the quality of Bromberg’s weekend)—”No Austin I’m just sick—.” No doubt, too Sand must have hipped him quietly in a whisper somewhere what was happening with the lovers, Mardou also being silent—one of the strangest guests ever to hit Bromberg’s, a poor subterranean beat Negro girl with no clothes on her back worth twopenny (I saw to that generously), and yet so strange face, solemn, serious, like a funny solemn unwanted probably angel in the house—feeling, as she told me, later, really unwanted because of the circumstances.—So I cop out, from the lot, from life, all of it, go to sleep in the bedroom (where Charley and I that earlier time had danced the mambo naked with Mary) and fall exhausted into new nightmares waking up about three hours later, in the heartbrakingly pure, clear, sane, happy afternoon, birds still singing, as if I was a spider waking up in a dusty bin and the world wasn’t for me but for other airier creatures and more constant themselves and also less liable to the stains of inconstancy too— While sleeping they three get in Sand’s car and (properly) drive out to the beach, twenty miles, the boys jump in, swim, Mardou wanders on the shores of eternity her toes and feet that I love pressing down in the pale sand against the little shells and anemones and paupered dry seaweed long washed up and the wind blowing back her short haircut, as if Eternity’d met Heavenly Lane (as I thought of it in my bed) (seeing her also wandering around pouting, not knowing what to do next, abandoned by Sufferin Leo and really alone and incapable of chatting about every tom dick and harry in art with Bromberg and Sand, what to do?)—So when they return she comes to the bed (after Bromberg’s preliminary wild bound up the stairs and bursting in of door and “WAKE up Leo you don’t want to sleep all day we’ve been to the beach, really it’s not fair!”)—”Leo,” says Mardou, “I didn’t want to sleep with you because I didn’t want to wake up in Bromberg’s bed at seven o’clock in the evening, it would be too much to cope with, I can’t—” meaning her therapy (which she hadn’t been going to any more out of sheer paralysis with me and my gang and cups), her inadequacy, the great now-crushing weight and fear of madness increasing in this disorderly awful life and unloved affair with me, to wake up horrified from hangover in a stranger’s (a kind but nevertheless not altogether wholeheartedwelcoming stranger’s) bed, with poor incapable Leo.—I suddenly looked at her, listening not to these real poor pleas so much as digging in her eyes that light that had shined on Yuri and it wasn’t her fault it could shine on all the world all the time, my light of love— “Are you sincere?”—(“God you frighten me,” she said later, “ you make me think suddenly I’ve been two people and betrayed you in one way, with one person, and this other person—it really frightened me—”) but as I ask that, “Are you sincere?” the pain I feel is so great, it has just risen fresh from that disordered roaring dream (“God is so disposed as to make our lives less cruel than our dreams,” is a quote I saw the other day God knows where)— feeling all that and harkening to other over awakenings in my life, feeling now, “Boy, this is the real beginning of the end, you can’t go on much further, how much more vagueness can your positive flesh take and how long will it stay positive if your psyche keeps blamming on it—boy, you are going to die, when birds get bleak—that’s the sign—.” But thinking more roars than that, visions of my work neglected, my well-being (so-called old well being again) smashed, brain permanently injured now—ides for working on the railroad—O God the whole host and foolish illusion and entire rigamarole and the madness that we rect in the place of onelove, in our sadness—but now with Mardou leaning over me, tired, solemn, somber, capable as she played with the little unshaven uglies of my chin seeing right through my flesh into my horror and capable of feeling every vibration of pain and futility I could send, as , too, attested by her recognition of “Are you sincere?” as the deepwell sounded call from the bottom—”Baby, let’s go home.” “We’ll have to wait till Bloomberg goes, take the train with him—I guess—.” So I get up, go into the bathroom (where I’d been earlier while they were at the beach and sex-phantasized in remembrance of the time, on another even wilder and further Bromberg weekend, poor Annie with her hair done up in curlers and let her face no makeup and Leroy poor Leroy in the other room wondering what his wife’s doing in there, and Leroy later driving off desperately into the night realizing we were up to something in the bathroom and so remembering just for the sake of a little bit of sate for that worm and snaked called sex)—I go into the bathroom and wash up and come down, trying to be cheerful. Still I can’t look at Mardou straight in the eye—in my heart, “O why did you do it?”—sensing, in my desperation, the prophecy of what’s to come.
As if not enough this was the day of the night of the great Jones party, which was the night I jumped out of Mardou’s cab and abandoned her to the dogs of war—the war man Yuri wages gainst man Leo, each one.—Beginning, Bromberg making phonecalls and gathering birthday gifts and getting ready to take the bus to make old 151 at 4:47 for the city, Sand driving us (a sorry lot indeed) to bus stop, where we have quick one in bar across street while Mardou by now ashamed not only of herself but me too stays in back of car (tho exhausted) but in broad daylight, trying to catch a wink—really trying to think her way out of trap only I could help her out of if I am to hear Bromberg going right on with big booming burbling comments on art and literature and even in fact by God queer anecdotes as sullen Santa Clara Valley farmers guzzle at rail, Bromberg doesn’t even have consciousness of his fantastic impact on the ordinary—and Sand enjoying, himself in fact also weird—but minor details.—I come out tell Mardou we have decided to take later train in order to go back to house to pick up forgotten package which is just another rinaroundtherosy of futility for her, she receives this news with solemn lips—ah my love and lost darling (out of date word)—if then I’d known what I know now, instead of returning to bar, for further talks, and looking at her with hurt eyes, etc., and let her lay there in the bleak sea of time I’d have gone in and sat down with her, taken her hand, promised her my life and protection—”Because I love you and there’s no reason”—but then far from the act of thinking I was climbing out of my doubt about her we got in, and rode to the city—through South San Francisco and past my house, facing one another in coach seats, riding by point out a kicked boxcar ramming a hopper and you see the inscrap shuddering far off, wow—but most of the time sitting bleakly under either stare and saying, finally, “I really do feel I must be getting a rummy nose”—anything I could think of saying to ease the pressure of what I really wanted to weep about—but in the main the three of us really sad, riding together on a train to gayety, horror, the eventual H bomb. —Bidding Austin adieu finally at some teeming corner on Market where Mardou and I wandered among great sad sullen crowds in a confusion mass, as if we were suddenly lost in the actual physical manifestation of the mental condition we’d been in now together for two months, not even holding hands but I anxiously leading the way through crowds (so’s to get out fast, hated it) but really because I was too “hurt” to hold her hand and remembering (now with greater pain) her usual insistence that I hold her in the street or people’ll think she’s a hustler—ending up, in bright lost sad afternoon, down Price street (O fated Price Street) towards Heavenly Lane, among the children, the young good-looking Mex chicks each one making me say to myself with contempt “Ah they’re almost all of ‘em better than Mardou, all I gotta do is get one of them… but O, but O”—neither one of us speaking much, and such chagrin in her eyes that in the original place where I had seen that Indian warmth which had originally prompted me to say to her, on some happy candelit night, “Honey what I see in your eyes is a lifetime of affection not only from the Indian in you but because as part Negro somehow you are the first, the essential woman, and therefore the most, most originally most fully affectionate and maternal”—there now is the chagrin too, Some lost American addition and mood with it—”Eden’s in Africa,” I’d added on timei