Tuesday, 19 August 2008

19 August 2008

because her sister wasn’t supposed to see me and like it. Dogs ran by. There were little lamps illuminating the little rat alleys. I could hear Bea and her sister arguing in the soft warm night. I was ready for anything. Bea came out and led me by the hand to Central Avenue, which is the colored main drag of L.A. 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 Bea’s friend, Margarina, a colored girl, who owed Bea a skirt and a pair of shoes. Margarina was a lovely mulatoo; 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 nights of Hamp’ Central Avenue Breakdown---howled and boomed along outside. I thought it was wonderful, every bit of it. They were singing in the halls, singing from their windows, just hell be damned and lookout. Bea got her clothes and we said goodbye. 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. The connection came in and motioned me to the cellar pisshouse, where I stood 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. I looked everywhere; he motioned with his head 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 myself, things ain’t cool this past week.” I picked up the turd, which was a brownpaper cigarette, and went back to Bea and off we went to the hotel room to get high. Nothing happened. It was Bull Durham tobacco. I wished I was wiser with my money. Bea and I had to decide absolutely and once and for all what to do: we decided to hitch to New York with our remaining monies. 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

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