Don't Ask Me, I'm Only Writing This Story


     Road payed Juan what he owed him, gave him Cid's money too and a little more ~ for Cid's family ~ 'cause Juan wanted to carry the body into Mexico ~ afoot.  Don't ask me why.  But he did.

     Poncho and Memo and Tulip and Road crossed the border in the truck.  Road bought for 600 dollars from Pedro Mendez another cannon, a bigger cannon than the Howitzer, and they came back with it.

     Don't ask me how they got by the border patrol station this time.  But they did.

     Don't ask me how they mounted the U-Haul trailer frame around this bigger cannon, a 24-pounder smooth-bore model 1839.  But they did.

     All I know is a week after Little Cid was shot dead, the furry lower lipped pretty Tulip and the soiled Road were riding in the cab of a purple ex-milk truck overwhelmingly stuffed with books, and that towed a U-Haul trailer frame concealing a big left-over cannon from the Civil War, and the two wetbacks, Poncho and Memo, bounced along in the trailer with the cannon, and they all were headed for Louisiana.

     Don't ask me how two weeks later they made it there.  But they did.

     Don't ask me how Road manages to ride into and out of cities and towns, robbing a bank, robbing a wedding, robbing a book store, crossing the border while towing cannons.  But he does.

     I guess it might be he gets away with it because, figurtively speaking, he's holding in one hand, the hand of Lady Gutter, and in the other hand, the hand of Lady Luck.

     But that's only a guess.

     And don't ask me about too many other details, such as how the chain on Tulip's ankle got off that day while Road lay unconscious on Highway 94, or I'll tell you something like this:



The Duck Of Freedom


     While Frank, the cop, was with his fists n' boots mutilating his comrade in arms ~

     A white duck, lost, and in love with being lost, and loving freedom too, without a back pack but with a quack quack was waddling along the highway side.  The duck's beady eyes, which were stinging the scenery every which way, caught sight of the steel chain around Tulip's ankle.  He kind of grunted, like some ducks do, waddled up and quacked the chain into little pieces.

     After he did this, Tulip rubbed her raw but now gratefully free ankle with her hand, and very pleased, told him, "Thank you, Mr. Duck."

     The duck ducked his head as if dodging this acknowledgment by Tulip and in his best English replied, "I'm a goose."

     But he was really a duck ~ and waddled away, quacking.

     This happening created a supplementary addition to Tulip's beliefs.  She now believed in miracles.

     "Quack!  Quack!" she cried joyously to the retreating white speck out yonder as it disappeared around the highway bend.



Proposition Road


     On the trip to Louisiana a few incidentals occurred that should be related.

     The first incidental worth relating occurred at a highway rest stop in the Mojave Desert of California.

     At this rest stop the little outlaw band of book pirates and the beautiful captive hot-sauce queen were going to take their rest for the night.

     Road, by himself, unloaded all the stolen college books out of the truck and piled them next to it.  He figured this was a gallant display of his affliction for Tulip, who he wanted to make love with in the back of the truck, and sleep with.

     She said no.

     Road, trying to act the part of a gentleman who was worth making love to and sleeping with, let Tulip have her way, and slept under the truck with one eye open, in case she try to make a getaway.  The next night he would try again.

     So ~

     The next night, in a dirt lot by a telephone booth on the outskirts of a small Texas town called Fabens, Road, by himself, unloaded all the stolen college books out of the rear of the truck, piled them next to it, and Tulip said no.

     Road slept under the truck, with one eye open, while Tulip slept in it, by herself.

     This happened every night.

     "Aren't you afraid some one will steal the books, piling them outside the truck like that, Ralph, oops, I mean Road?" asked Tulip one night.

     "Nobody steals books," Road replied.

     "You do," said Tulip.

     Road smiled and chuckled at that, and crawled under the truck for his night's rest.

     But as the days passed, along with the miles, telephone poles, railroad tracks and hay stacks, Road's smile began to falter.  A flat tire didn't help ~ in the middle of no where.  Neither did a burn't up coil, wiped out spark plugs, a clogged up carberator, a dragging muffler, and a broken stearing column, and a bent valve, onery gas station attendents, rain, and a leak in the roof.  And of course, Tulip's no's.

     Pretty soon Road was always stumbling around with a frown on his mouth and a wrench in his hand.

     Poncho and Memo laughed themselves crazy day and night while Tulip smiled smugly and flirted with them.

     "You're nice boys," she would say ~ and Poncho and Memo would roll around slapping each other on the back and giggling ~ while Road frowned and cleaned the grease off his wrench by rubbing it in the dirt.

     Finally, one afternoon, in Houston, Texas, Road walked into a super market to buy a pack of cigars and a loaf of bread and some baloney.  While waiting in the where-you-pay line, the flabby old-lady cashier put her hand on his chest, and without saying anything, pushed him backwards so that she could move a grocery cart.

     Road shuffled out of the super market, super depressed about being pushed like that by an old lady ~ or by anybody.

     So ~

     That night, behind the super market in a big empty parking lot, after a few hours of heavy serious stoned-sober brooding, Road piled all the stolen books next to the truck, and he told Tulip, "Tulip, we sleep together tonight, and make love, or I'm chaining you, some way, to these books, when I give them to the poor slobs in Crockjaw Parish Prison."

     Tulip stopped her chewing on a baloney sandwich ~ but for only a second or two ~ and kept chewing.

     "Well," said Road.

     "Well," said Tulip ~ thru a mouth full.  "It's nice to finally know what you're doing with the books.  But what are you going to do with the cannon?"

     "The books, my dear, are being delivered thru the wall," said Road.

     "Why that way?" chomped Tulip.

     "'Cause that's my way of educating this fuckin' country," was Road's reply.  He added, "If you don't sleep with me tonight, you're going with them.  Incidently, you'll be delivered naked, 'cause I'll want my pants and shirt back, and 'cause the poor slobs in that prison, and I mean poor, would die for the sight."



Ramon In Mexico City


     The legend of Ramon traveled faster than he did.  Many of his "better" educated countrymen wanted to catch him, dissect him, to see what gave him such a divine freak power to roll like a super log.  But traps and blockades he broke thru with ease as he chanted, barely audible now, those strange words, "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo."

     Across river bottoms, over bridges, crashing thru village walls, he rolled nonchalantly onward.

     He rolled into Mexico City.

     Buses and trucks crashed, women screamed, daring children tried but failed to ride him.

     Police men shot at him.  The bullets splattered and stuck to his unrecognizable skin 'til he was covered from head to toe with a coat of lead armor.

     A man on a bull dozer tried to scoop him up.  But the bull dozer was twisted to pieces as Ramon rolled thru it.

     Ramon rolled into an open street drain, disappeared in the underground maze of Mexico City sewers ~ and rolled out of another street drain.

     Finally he rolled up the steps of one of Mexico City's court houses, crashed thru a wall or two, thru a door, up an aisle in a crowded court room.  He crashed thru and shattered into splinters a big desk in front of the meanest judge on the planet, rolled over the judge's face.  That killed the judge.

     And Ramon disintegrated.



Crockjaw Parish Prison


     A prison trustee is an inmate in a prison, who runs up and down in the halls doing the dirty work for the guards, the dirty work for the prisoners, in exchange for the meager liberty of running up and down in the halls while all 'de others gotta stay pinned.

     Jesse "Slim Finger" Jenkins, a prison trustee extraordinaire, skinny, black, stooped shoulders, too young, living well as he could at the bottom of the barrel, sat on a concrete step of a porch, inside the night light bright handball court size courtyard of little cramped and over crowded Crockjaw Parish Prison in Louisiana...


Crockjaw Parish Prison 


     He pulled a carefully horded marijuana joint out of his sock, which had been passionately rolled with delicate reverence two days earlier.

     He was watching for the sunrise to appear thru the barbed wire a top the east prison wall.

     Jesse "Slim Finger" Jenkins had an odd feeling that this morning's sunrise would be a good one.  There was something sort of divine in the air, whispered hard hitting, almost fearful love songs to his soul.  He couldn't understand it.  But for this sunrise he would smoke thee joint.

     He began to look around ~ peered up at the guard in the guard tower.  The guard was faking his duty, reading a cheap paperback novel.  The guard was old Winthrop, the only guard in the whole place who wouldn't care if Jesse smoked a joint now ~ as the rest of the prison slept.  They would both pretend it was an ordinary cigarette.

     Some pink sky peeked thru the barbed wire that topped the east wall.

     Jesse "Slim Finger" Jenkins struck a stick match against the concrete porch, was about to light the joint that dangled from 'tween his lips, when a great boom sounded forth and the middle of the east wall across the courtyard, made of stout thick brick, crumbled to the ground.

     A cannon ball rolled across the concrete courtyard, came to a halt about 2 feet in front of Jesse's foot.

     Jesse stared with round eyes at the cannon ball, then at the double door sized hole in the wall.

     Broken brick dust in slow motion drifted upward.  Jesse, eyes still resembling full moons ~ but with eyeballs ~ stared into the floating dust 'til it cleared.  Soon enough he saw, barely able to be seen, on the edge of the prison's lighted no-man's area, a big wood crate as tall as himself and five times wider.  On the crate's side was a white label that said in bold black letters, "BOOKS".

     The match went out in Jesse's hand.  The joint had already fallen to the concrete slab of step his feet rested on.  He smiled warmly.  "I'll be God damned," he said out loud to anybody.

     He stood up, swayed just a little like a fragile willow in the wind, and laughed.  "I'll be God damned," he said again.

     He hopped like a rabbit over the cannon ball and skipped like a rooster a few steps toward the wall, got a closer look at the crate ~ labeled "BOOKS".

     "I'll be God ~ "

     And Jesse "Slim Finger" Jenkins could talk no more ~ 'cause he couldn't stop laughing.

     He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet like a rocking chair, laughed like he'd never laughed before.

     He jumped up and down like a yo-yo, bubbled and gurgled like boiling soup (with onions).

     He did a somersault, ran around in a circle.

     Pretty soon he just lay down choking.  He couldn't even laugh anymore.

     Then he started crying, and with tears running down his cheeks he screamed, "He did it!  He did it!  Road said he was gonna do it ~ and Road did it!  That God damned son of a fuckin' white bitch!"

     Then, on his hands and knees, staring thru eyes squinted with red wet bliss as the sun inched higher and higher., Jesse froze still.

     His eyes full moon-ed up again.  Standing naked next to the crate, was a young beautiful dark haired woman.  Her hand chained to the crate.

     "God bless you, Road," whispered Jesse "Slim Finger" Jenkins.

     And Tulip was eaten alive by his eyes.



Tulip's New Clothes


     That afternoon ~

     Across the canal from Crockjaw Parish Prison's east wall with a hole in it, Rip Lincoln and two FBI agents stood next to a cannon hid in the bushes.  Police men, news men, and a merry crowd of onlookers had gathered.

     Tulip was driven up in a police car.  She was wearing prison inmate clothes ~ blue and white stripes.  All they had for her to wear.

     She opened the car door herself, stepped out, peered into the crowd.

     Out of the crowd walked Rip Lincoln, blond hair blowing briskly in the wind.  But he couldn't walk for long.  Soon he was running.

     Tulip was running too.  Her firm sweet apple breasts bounced out of the generous V neckline of her floppy prison wear.  But she didn't care.

     The two lovers, Tulip and Rip, collided in a flood of moans, tears, smiles, kisses, flash-bulb explosions from newsmen's cameras, and some very delectable grinding.

     Finally Rip Lincoln asked, "Did that bastard, Ralph, hurt you?"

     "No," said Tulip with a happy wet sniff.  She took Rip's offered hanky and used it.  "And his name's not Ralph.  It's Road."

     "Oh," said Rip Lincoln.  He carefully tucked Tulip's breasts behind her floppy generous V.  "Did, uh, Road mess with you?"

      Tulip gave Rip back his hanky.  "When I said 'no,' instead of raping me, he chained me to that box."

     "When you said 'no' to what?"

     Tulip's eye lids fluttered.  "Wouldn't you like to know."

     "Come on, let's go," Rip said with a gulp.

     "Okay, Rip," said Tulip.  "You silly boy."  She bumped him with her hip and let him take her hand



No Reward


     It was in New Orleens, under the moss-hanging trees of Audubon Park, where Road stepped with a crunch of park turf beneath his boot ~ out of his soft clutched, broken safety braked, burned out signal bulbed, electrical wire shorted here and there, broken glassed, dented, loose bolted, chipped paint and faded hunk of studymobile.

     He stood before the small lake in the park, surrounded by squirrels, black kids, and fishing poles ~ and he wondered where his reward was.

     He'd done it.

     And he'd done it for nothing ~ but, but for the blatant satisfaction of doing it?



     Stupid question.

     No reward rang in his ears.  No reward and no pay.  His shoulders sagged and his head ached.

     Poncho and Memo ~ gone their own ways now.  And payed.

     Tulip ~ humph!

     The cannon ~ the authorities could muse over it.

     The U-Haul trailer frame ~ discarded in some parking lot.

     The stolen college books would probably be returned to San Diego State University ~ never seen by any prison inmate.  The Crockjaw Parish Prison wall would be rebuilt.  Road would be hunted down and arrested.

     The giving was enough?  The giving was all?

     Road thought about how it had felt to touch the hot tip of his cigar butt to the cannon's fuse ~ how it had felt wading the box of books and Tulip sitting on top across the canal next to the prison ~ how it all felt ~ and now his shoulders sagged ~ and Road frowned grimly at nothing.

     Across the lake a man's glossy black Labrador Retriever dog splashed into the water and took after a now paddling madly white duck ~ probably with clipped park wings.  The dog's drooling jaws closed on the duck's tail, pulled out a mouth full of feathers.

     The duck quacked horrified ~ paddled for life.

     The dog ~ strong, well trained, well fed, splashed after him, almost on him ~ a matter of seconds now and the duck would be ~

     A dead duck.

     "Fuck" ~

     Said Road out loud as he watched the duck quack stupidly and paddle sloppily, in panic and too late, trying to out swim the big-dog jaws of death closing in over him.

     "No reward," said Road out loud to himself and thought about getting a job, as he watched ~

     The duck took to the air and left the big black dog floundering in the lake.

     The duck flapped his wet dripping and flashing white wings, defying all the laws of clipped-wing flight (mainly 'cause he'd got lost in a bush the day the wing clippers came by with their scissors).  He swooped thru the air past Road's nose.  And he practically knocked Road over with a screeching knock out squawk that not vaguely sounded like, "Fuck 'em all!"

     And the duck flew yonder, disappeared over the trees.

     Road thought about that cry ~ the cry of a wild goose for sure.  Fuckin' duck.  Yeah, Road thought about it.  Fuck 'em all!

     Who needed a reward?

     Road stepped with a sharp little bounce back into the doorless cab of his '56 Chevy ex-milk truck.



Closer Than Close


     About a month after the Crockjaw Parish Prison warden was presented with the delimma of what to do with a big crate full of stolen books and a naked girl, an unwanted too roughly hewn corridor in the east wall of the dinky courtyard, and too much publicity, Poncho silently layed his hand on a blond young lady's arm.

     It was Friday night ~ at a night club a few store fronts down Revolution Avenue from the Long Bar in Tijuana, Meh-hee-ko.

     He hadn't seen her for a long time.

     She hadn't seen him for a long time either.

     The blond young lady, 15 years old now and without a word, turned and looked at Poncho, took his hand and led him to the dance floor.

     It was a slow song.

     And if you think they danced close last time...


(Copyright 1974, 2010)