At the end of the summer of 68 I am up in Portland where BJ is living in a big old house next to a railroad yard, and I have got to get down to LA to start school. I have no car, and I don’t remember why but there’s a guy there I know and he has a car and he is going down to LA… I think this guy’s name was John and he was preparing to go into the Peace Corp in a country called Botswana.
He was a pretty funny guy and somehow he had got warts on his penis. He is talking about his problem, and when I show doubt, having never heard of such a thing, he flops it out and the poor flaccid, sick looking sucker has, warts all over it. A good half dozen anyway. Later he goes to a doctor and they burn the fuckers off, if you can imagine, and they wrapped his cock up and all the time he gets the bandages stuck in his fly. He says he has learned his lesson because these warts are a venereal disease.
So we get in John’s car and start driving. That’s the last time I ever see BJ. It’s a pretty long way from Portland to LA. I always forget how much California there is above San Francisco. We drive from dawn and hit San Francisco about dusk. The car is a pretty late model job but it has a problem. A couple of times before Frisco, the electricity in the car cuts out as you are driving and without electricity a car just stops. So mostly we drive in the right lane in case this happens. Sometimes it cuts out for just a few seconds and before you coast to a stop, it kicks back in again and off you go. But when we stop to get something to eat we can’t get the car started again unless you lay a screw driver across both poles of the alternator and that gets the electricity going again.
For some reason John is stoned and fucking tired and a little after Frisco he says, do you mind and crawls into the back seat and goes to sleep. I say I don’t because I have some Dexedrine and the radio. I wait to hear “Take a load off fanny, take a load for free, take a load off fanny and put the load right on me.” But the central valley is so empty in spots you can’t get anything on the radio when all of a sudden something comes in like from Utah or something like that, like from outer space, and a song comes on and then disappears. Somewhere in there I get pulled over for weaving in my lane. I don’t know what the fuck cops have to do with themselves. I am weaving in my lane and there is nobody in any of the others, so what the fuck. The cop tells me to get some sleep. OK, I say and drive on.
As dawn approaches we hit the grapevine. And—what the fuck—all of sudden we have two lanes and the right hand, slow lane, is jam packed with a caravan of trucks, one after the other, filling the right lane and going about 30 miles an hour. So I get in the fast lane, and what the fuck but the electricity cuts out. I got trucks to the right and some car bearing down on me fast and I am driving a dead car. So I check the mirror and swing sharply to the right and swing right between two trucks, by inches, and like a race car driver I am swinging up a pretty steep dirt embankment, so I am out of immediate danger. But just as the car is slowing to a stop, what the fuck but the electricity goes back on and rather than waste the opportunity I floor that fucker kicking up dirt and gravel and swing back onto the road, just missing another truck, and get into the left lane, and maybe twenty minutes later as I cross the pass into LA, I suddenly realize I could have fucking killed myself.
And all the time John is asleep in the back snoring and drooling on himself.