I arrive in LA surrounded by crazy cars. Everywhere is someone who wants to kill me in some innocent act of abject stupidity. I need space. I’d be crazy mad but Santa Margarita is with me, leaving her residual joy even as Jack comes crawling back from the place he’s been, shabby and mad, with his dark Word from beyond: “Wow!”
I was early to the boat, and the others weren’t there yet. I drove around the marina area for a while, stopping off at Ralph’s to buy a bunch of gatorade to quench the powerful thirst I had accumulated on the trip north. I sat in the parking lot at the grocery store, sweat and sunscreen combining to make me clammy and shiny as I give my body what it’s thirsty for. Noam Chomsky was on the radio, trying to convince people that causing change requires hard work. I opened a second bottle and spilled electrolytes and glucose down my beard onto my shirt. Then it hit me. I could be in a bar.
Minutes later I was at Edie’s, settling onto a chrome stool with red vinyl upholstery. Plan A, beer, quickly gave way to Plan B, Margarita. They had a nice big one with decent tequila and I was all over it. While I waited for the preparation I opened up the old Kerouac and found my place. I fear his joy, I fear his power even as I covet it. I fear he will swallow me, and I’ll be just another imitator. But even as I fear losing my voice to his I know I am too afraid and too tiny and too foolish to move people like that or to be moved like that. No, my demons are less exuberant and have their own vocabulary if I can find it. The margarita lived up to it’s promise. Yes, miss, I’ll have another.
Now I’m in the car again; the music is loud and I’m joining in, wondering in a joyous wonder whatever became of the singing voice I once thought I had, it’s gone now and good riddance, silly big-head thing that it was. The other drivers want to kill me and I want space. There’ll be space out at sea, I know.
We show up for dinner, the family and me, Gilligan, at a trendy little place filled with thin beautiful people eating cheesecake. I am the madman in my shaggy beard and smudged shirt and smelly feet and I can see the women look me over with distaste as I look them over. My grin is fierce and manic, and for once I am not afraid of these artificial creatures because tonight they are afraid of me in some kind of superior way. Ha! They move about and they wonder who this disheveled prophet is and my jokes are funny tonight and my eye is keen and I’m seeing everything and knowing everything and they orbit and leave me space but I am the madman and my gaze carries knowlege they are not ready to learn.
Back on the boat we all stay up far too late and drink too much beer and talk too loud, our voices echoing over the still water. It is nice out, a little cool and I’m not sleepy and my enthusiasm seems to have infected the others except Pat who proves he is the smartest of us by turning in while it is merely late instead of ridiculous. Finally I have to give up or I’m going to be watching the sunrise, and the next day is going to be a long one for sure. My berth is the forward stateroom; I lie in state with my toes in the pointy bow of the ship. I plug in the laptop, thinking I’d write a little more while the madness is upon me, but I am fooling myself and soon I’m gone.