Charles Plymell
    He turns into the driveway at 1403 Gough St., San Francisco in his 1939 Pontiac. Anne was always mad at him for something. He grabbed her and carried her across the doormat which i-r-o-n-i-c-a-l-y (as he liked to emphasize literary words) had a Swastika and Star of David superimposed on it. The flat had always been a little strange; the seemingly very respectable live downstairs, like in a world detached, as if not noticing that the flat upstairs had been a notorious meth factory. Everyone had lived in the large upstairs flat and the two apartments above it. I, myself, in the back one on several different occasions, and in the front, two dykes who typed all night---or was the sound coming from the other room? Was someone putting down everything that was said? No one knew. Except years later, the last occupant who threw a fit at redevelopment when the meth-head souvenir collectors stole the front door--HE scored a new house on Post St., and in the basement was a lot of holes in the walls like telephones had been yanked out and the words I had written at Gough St. were painted on the walls--The poem I thought was going to be another "Howl" began like, Hey man when you're swinging, way out there alone doing the bip de bop in wilderness.
    After depositing Anne and the brown grocery bag full of black mota weed in the kitchen and ordering her to make coffee, he was back to the car in a flash.
    "Charley, watch the car for me, you know there's dopesters in the area. I don't want them to steal my car. It has no brakes, ha, ha, they might scoot down one of the hills, if you know what I mean."
    "Sure Kid. You need some help?"
    "Na, I'll be moved in in a minute, but my starter's out, so I'll shut off the car and put this block under the wheel, and later, after coffee and we toke up a little and uh umm., I got some little goodies that will keep us up all night, we can back it up and push it around, I'll shove it in second or high...high gets the compression going. It's a good steep hill. We'll move it later."
    Jock they called her, the cowgirl upstairs, who also fucked some trade when money was gone, leaned out of her window and whinnied like a horse which shocked two fairies walking beneath the window holding hands in the San Francisco fog. The Kid unloaded his belongings which consisted of two large boxes held under each hand. From them reeled tapes of his past lives that the fat medium in Palo Alto told him he lived, and several belts he used on Anne when she got out of line...well, only in sex, he claimed if she sunk her fingernails too deep, then..he'd have to get out the belts. "Just like Lash Larue, eh Charley. Here pick up that tape that's unreeling, would you please? That's where my medium says I was running along side Christ when he was carrying the cross. I tried to help him but the fuzz pushed me back, actually I wanted to tell him I had stolen something, and I wanted to return it, you know, got to settle all the scores while we're here."
    We got the boxes and a pair of extra penny-loafers and jeans out of his car and parked down the street. In the long hallway was a stepladder where I had been painting the ceiling. Anne occasionally wore a dress or full skirt, cotton print, or sometimes pleated. She was one of the few "sweater-girls" left. She used to be a cheerleader and wanted to become an actress, but her career was always thwarted, of course, by the Kid. He was always two-timing her, sometimes going back to his wife, or Jack, or Ginzy, or dozens of other women. Somewhere in her mind she had the typical girl and boy next door relationship. She THOUGHT that everything was the way she imagined it. In fact, she thought the Kid was her husband to be and she was always talking about the wedding bands, and the date of the marriage, and how that would interfere with her acting career. In fact one time I went to the S.F.V.D. Clinic with her because she thought she had the clap. In one of the great understatements of the generation, she told the doctor that she thought her husband was promiscuous.
    She had meanwhile quite naturally perched herself atop the stepladder in a cover-girl pose exposing her legs. She had a perfect firm cheerleader butt and nice skin and thighs she tried to keep tanned and smooth. Her pubic hairs were a perfect V and she didn't wear panties so she held her skirt between her thighs so as to not expose everything at once. The Kid skidded under the ladder like a slapstick clown making the motions of jerking off.
    "Just like Playboy Magazine, eh Charley?"
    The ceilings were very high at Gough St. He saddled Anne's thighs around one shoulder and carried her to the kitchen. She plopped in a chair with her legs outstretched and her hands cupping her crotch, reprimanding the filthy-minded guys.
    The Kid took out a shoe box and put a couple handfuls of weed from the grocery bags in it.
    "Yes, I had a couple of these bags full when they busted me. I used to sit over there at Foster Fuds and roll 'em before I went to Quentin. Foster Cafeteria, you know a couple blocks over. I lived above it in the Hotel Wentley. Anne used to fuck sailors in my room."
    "MY ROOM, and he was a friend, and I was not fucking him. Besides You were out with Allen and all those poetry people."
    "Well Ginzy's gonna help me with my book and we're going to take a ride up to Bolinas tomorrow to see some of Charley's friends, and I want you to be nice. Where is Ginzy?"
    "He went down to Fosters with his painter friend who just won some kind of prize. He said he'd be back after supper. We had a long day yesterday. We went down to Baez's ranch in Monterey. On the way Ginzy wanted to stop at this person's house he had known in Tangier. He was supposed to have known something about a hex that was put on Bill B. He had to get all that straightened out and that took a half day of mental shit in La Dolce Vita venue. There was plenty of weed, good booze, and lots of young ass around. I stayed away from it. Jack said he had a dark mind. You know how he likes to get mental behind those big horned-rimmed glasses. He likes the spook business."
    "You know his mother was out there too. His father is a normal old guy, a poet too. But you know, they're New Jersey urban/provincial- -fucked their kid up too when he brought home a black pussy on a date. Flipped 'em all out. The mother thought the FBI was watching, the old man probably thought his teaching career was in jeopardy, you know the New Jersey types. Bugged out. I mean all the lad wanted was a girl, he didn't know black from white. He didn't know everyone would go crazy. No wonder he had to come to S.F. to howl free."
    "Well what can you expect from someone whose MENTOR is William Carlos Williams...anyway? But he's anal oriented you know, you got to watch him."
    "I even have to compete with HIM," Anne pouted. "And you only go with him when you need money for grass."
    "Now, now, I was taught to be good. I was a choir boy in Denver y'know after the fathers took me in."
    "Yeah , that's probably where you learned it."
    "Hey Kid, I got this book here on Butch Cassidy. He looks just like you. You sure you ain't his kid, or grandkid? He used to be around Denver?" The Kid never answered. I knew I had intruded in an orphaned world. Neal's fierce blues eyes turned gray.
    "Aw Hell Neal, we're all orphaned in this world, and you got family everywhere."
    Neal started smoking and talking about his favorite subject: race car driving. It was hard to get a word in now. His words were like race cars. Fast associations making the quickest time, jockeying for space, almost defensive, but I managed to wind up the events of my day by referring to Baez's Jaguar. Now there's a car.
    "But there we were, arriving in a ragged green '51 Ford Convertible that Peter had scrounged up. It was a dusty trail to her Ranchero, and there she was perched on the fence like the dark lady of Shakespeare, except she acted like no court musician, but rather the Queen herself, queen of song, queen of the hacienda, the shrinks, the Sephardim, and leader of the cause. There was supposed to be some kind of peace meeting. She looked down from he perch and referred to us as the "entourage." We had to sit for 20 min and meditate before we talked. Then lunch was served and we were asked to pay 65 cents for a half a sandwich. Was this so that she wouldn't feel people were taking advantage of her? I didn't know the reason, but a with shrink on each of her arms, a walk around the grounds was proposed. Everybody seemed to like this kind of goony mental ordered activity except me. I embarrassed everyone by being unpeaceful and got in Peter's Ford an revved it up telling her to move her Jaguar, because Peter was taking me to town, where I could jump on a "Hound to get me back to my cheap room in Frisco around some winos, where everything was real, but not beautiful."
    Ginzy came in late with his painter friend and they talked for hours about how they used to live at this flat and were both onto Peter. Ginzy, of course, had the most to offer and won over the manly Peter. His friend, the painter, called me into a room and swore that a certain psychiatrist had told him that Ginzy had told me to make a reference to his (the painter's) nose. Somehow this had something the do with the love triangle, diluted greatly from Shakespeare's problems; I knew that I was living in San Francisco.
    Activities never ceased, the ghost typewriter kept clicking, perhaps Jack's; the nights were long. Ginzy asked me onto his mattress. He said he had seen me in bed with my Ann. There were two Anns, Neal's Anne, with the nice round ass, and my Ann with the boyish ass. His Anne pretended that Neal should never catch her and me fucking because that would end her long-awaited marriage to him should he ever get a divorce from his wife. My Ann didn't care who I dragged in bed with us as long as she got as much sex as possible. Both of them were insatiable. This lead to Neal's claim that he had to carry whips to beat her off him sometimes when she got too demanding.
    "Look at her Charley!" He would point out to me her expression many times. "That's how she looks when she's on top of me fucking me. Her mouth starts becoming lupine. Her lips become white and tighten around her teeth. She draws blood with her sharp nails. And her eyes get very dark brown and glazed. I have to hit her, and sometimes I have to use my belt."
    Ginzy was telling me that he had watched me fuck my Ann and was wondering what we were doing since neither of us was on top of the other. I told him you didn't have to do it in any particular position, and asked if he had never done it with the black girl he brought home for his folks to meet. I said I liked to fuck girls from behind. He understood how the penis can engage the asshole from behind, but how could it reach the vagina?"
    "Can you really fuck girls from behind?" he asked.
    "Sure, I'll show you next time."
    The we heard loud cussing and fighting from Neal's room. We went to the door and tried to peek in the keyhole, but we couldn't see much. The slapping sounds grew louder.
    "Is he actually HITTING her?"
    "Sounds like it."
    We retired back to the mattress.
    "Would you like some caviar?"
    "I hate that stuff."
    "Have you ever had sex with a male?"
    "Well it was pretty common back where I came from. We used to call it cornholing or buttfucking. Adolescent boys are afraid of girls you know and they stay over night with each other and get a hard-on and try to poke each other."
    "Well I mean as a grown-up."
    "Well there used to be this queen back in Kansas who'd take on the whole basketball team. Actually there were always men who were trying to get boys to fuck them or let them suck them. It was, I guess normal in the sense that the priest, the coach, the babysitter, the person who had money and position to lure the young and horny into some kind of sex. This guy back home had a whole in his shorts. He was an actor sometimes in Hollywood. Very rich. His father was an oil man. In fact I saw him here in San Francisco not long ago. He came up from Hollywood--was staying at the Y...said he had a place in Palm Springs. He was still very handsome in the old glamour ways. He resembled Victor Mature. He may have been him. Who knows, plastic faces and all..sometimes it's hard to tell the composite from the companion."
    I could see he was getting an erection but he was very small and not circumcised.
    "Let me try to put it in. It won't hurt. Just relax and make like you going to move your bowels."
    "I don't think that's going to get in far enough to hurt anyway, maybe you could just suck on this."
    He got very exited with the task at hand and forgot about the ass; he finally made grunts of satisfaction and put his head on my chest and took deep breaths and went to sleep.
    I slipped out of his arms and crawled onto the mattress with Ann who sleepily curled her ass up against me. Her's was a perfect back door.
    The next morning Neal was up early and had begun smoking and rolling enough weed for the trip, and Anne was fixing him a big breakfast. He counted his little white pills and told Anne she might have to score before we left because he was getting low. I checked my shelves to see what I had in stock. It was a typical San Francisco morning. The landlord and his wife were getting ready for church. The dykes or whoever typed all the time were hitting the keys. Maggie, a woman I had known in Kansas had moved into the back upstairs apartment and was hanging out her clothes. The odd thing about the house was that it seemed totally stratified. Since the days of the famous "Howl" reading and the painter living there with Allen fighting over Peter, to the days it was a Methedrine factory, to then having been occupied by a filmmaker from Kansas whose housemates had just got back from Mexico with a suitcase full of Panama Red. I told him just throw it in Maggie's VW and drive across the border with her and the baby; they'll never check you. They don't have enough resources to keep families in jail in Mexico. I had plenty of weed to keep all the visitors high, since by now, it seemed all of San Francisco was showing up at the door, some now from L.A. too. Filmmakers, artists, artists' and poets' old ladies trying to score for money for their old men, poets, publishers, etc. I checked my cupboard. Two bottles of pure Mescaline from Light Laboratories in England. I'd have to re-order soon. It took a long time to get a box of six bottles in the mail. There was partial carton of vials of Lysergic acid from Sandoz laboratories..hmm those were going fast. I'd have to scrounge up some money to re-order soon. Those fucking shrinks coming around wanting some for their experimentation. They don't have enough smarts to order it on their own. Then that fucking dumb-ass academic, Leary, was soon to hit town and spread word, knowing nothing, having these flocks of culture vultures and stupid flower kids following him around. Let's see.. a few Owsley vitamin pills..just as good as Sandoz, but ugh bad taste... much better to just snap the top of the vial and drink it down. It was getting hard to figure out the supplies. Neal's reefer smoke was bellowing down the hall.
    Neal and Anne were already arguing about something. The usual argument was about his slipping into bed with Allen, or making up stories to get away for part of the night to fuck some of the society women out to get down, or the old standby of his getting a job and leaving his wife in Palo Alto. How else would they live a normal life, she would ask, and when would she be able to devote more time to her theater career? After the landlord left, Neal had gone to get his car and leapfrogged over a couple parking meters to assure everyone he was in good shape. He then pulled into the driveway in his old grey 1939 Pontiac 4 door and opened the doors making sweeping comic gestures like coachman to royalty.
    "This is one of the first overheads. It'll outrun most of the cars today, but I think the master cylinder is going and I don't have any put the brake clear to the floor can't get up.. up..maybe an inch..shouldn't complain though Charley..any inch you can get eh?"
    "Do you know the way to Bolinas?"
    "Yeah, go over the Golden Gate and down the shoreline. We have some rough curves but this Pontiac can take them. I can downshift to second at 45, but over that it's just me and the steering."
    We got on the mountain road and started downhill about 60. Anne was bitching about last night, saying that's all Neal wanted her for, just a lay, and that he didn't have a job, etc. Neal was saying how he had applied at the tire place on Van Ness Avenue for a job. Finally Neal slapped her across the face and as he hit her he missed second gear. She began to cry and Allen put his camera away as we started flying around in the back seat...the tires squealed around the curve, Neal grabbed Anne with one hand and then the wheel to keep us from going over the ravine; finally a rise in the road and he was able to hit second. We finally rolled in to the flat land at Bolinas at my friend's house. Neal stopped the car by jerking down to first gear and pulling on the emergency brake. My old love from Kansas who played us Dylan for the first time any of us had heard him, fixed us lunch. Neal saw a copy of "On The Road" and began reading to us the parts about himself, and then started reading some poetry from magazines that were lying around the table, impressing everyone with his dramatic reading. We went back into town at a little convenience store to buy some more beer. Everybody was feeling better, and I asked Neal and Anne to stand at the cash register while I took a snapshot. Allen and I went down to the beach and he lay there reciting some Whitman and wanted me to put my head on his chest.
    A week or so passed and Neal got the job at the tire place. The Pontiac was getting fixed and I took him to work on my Honda, one of the first models to be imported. He carried a pocket watch and had it down to the minute at what time to leave the house to be at work at the exact time. This was practiced down to the second with Neal warning me against any pot holes or railroad tracks that might slow us down. He had the stop lights timed so that we wouldn't be late, and he always pulled out his pocket watch to check the time. He said, Once a railroad man..always a railroad man. He worked for a while, then asked me if I wanted to drive back to Kansas with him because he was making a run back to New York to see Jack for a few days. He was gone for about ten days. Allen and I got on my motorcycle and went down to the Monterey Jazz Festival. He was practicing his calming OMM and we were making up jazz poems from found words on the signs we passed, yelling pieces of scat, riff and bop making poetry as we rode. When we got down there he said we should go see Monk. We went back into his dressing room and Allen asked him if he remembered him at a party. Monk was way out in space and answered in sounds rather than words. Allen said you remember, I gave you my book. HOWL. Monk made a little more gracious sounding sounds. He introduced me, and I shook his large warm hand. Then Allen said you know, I gave you that LSD. Then Monk lit up and said, "Yeah Man! Hey you got anything stronger?"
    Neal returned from his marathon trip driving a red and white Plymouth Fury. He said he had it up to 120 MPH and made the round trip in record time. He went to find Anne to score a script for speed and pulled up in front of Gough St. where he showed how fast he could speed shift, though he was pissed because the car had a push-button shift. Later in the week I was tripping and went over to Phil's. He held my head toward his flowers and made me look a them until I came back. Neal wanted me to go to the MVD with him to straighten out his driver's license. He was very paranoid about the bureaucracy. Later Phil asked Ann and I to come up to North Beach and have some Cappucino with Larry. I had some drawings of Bob's and Dion's to show Larry in case he wanted to publish them. We went back down to the bookshop where someone took our picture. Later Allen took me up to Larry's house to ask him to publish some of my work. Allen said he was a great friend but not that great a poet. I started to say neither are you, but held my tongue. Larry was in bed when we arrived, and we sat around the bed, them talking about literature. I suggested Larry come over sometime and listen to Neal read from his autobiography, which he did, but Neal couldn't get into reading as well as he usually could. Instead, he started bitching about Jack and everyone using him as an errand boy to go get beer and cigarettes while they discussed literature. Neal didn't have a literary background and was sometimes mocking when he talked about them or literary or textual material.
    I was sitting around the front room of the Gough St. flat when Neal and John, from the L.A. Free Press came running in. "Charley, turn on the tube, the president's been shot."
    We watched the happenings and Neal and I said simultaneously: "Oswald's a patsy. It's a conspiracy. Ann and I went for a walk. San Francisco was dark and gloomy for several days. Lew came by in a limousine one day to take us to some kind of happening across the Bay put on by a filmmaker. The chauffeur had a pack of Bull Durham tobacco he rubbed on the windshield saying that it would keep the fog and film off of it. Lew was paranoid and said he had to get out of S.F. while he could. There was only one way out by land and if they blocked that....
    Originally published in GRIST On-Line #2, November, 1993.
    (c) copyright 1993 Charles Plymell
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    Other works by Charles Plymell:
    Six by Charles Plymell SPEW ALLEY (for uncle Bill)
    Interview with Charles Plymell