This is a continuation of a story that began at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/teaser-to-a-novel/
Part 2 can be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/novels-teaser-part-2/
Part 3 can be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/novels-teaser-part-3/
Part 4 can be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/novels-teaser-part-4/
Part 5 can be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/novels-teaser-part-5/
Part 6 can be found at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/novels-teaser-part-6/
Part 7 can be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/novels-teaser-part-7/
Part 8 can be found at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/novels-teaser-part-8/
Part 9 can be found at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/novels-teaser-part-9/
The American “Nig” has returned after a year abroad at a strict school in Scotland, and is writing the South African “Kaff”, using a shorthand the two teenagers devised which allows them to write with the speed of their frenetic thoughts.
Nig has been dismayed by changes that have occurred in the USA while he was away, and at this point is telling Kaff he has decided to make a lot of money selling lyrics for hit songs, and to buy a plot of land he calls “The Party Woods.” He plans to form a commune of his boyhood friends, but needs to convince his friends the scheme is possible.
What Nig is attempting to do is to figure out how to “get the gang together”, but his friends have gone in different directions and the unity the gang once had seems lost. Nig is attempting to end this divorce by being an amazing psychiatrist who can solve all problems with a single session. He imagines he makes progress in the magical atmosphere of the “Party Woods”, but that out in the world he faces opposition to the unity of a commune..
At this point in Nig’s description he has concluded a discussion with Ham and Franks, who are two brothers who have become ardent communists, and he now is talking with his boyhood best-friend Durf, who has lost faith in society and practices a sort of self-centered epicureanism at a commune of his own in the city.
July 30, 1971 Later
Bit of an interruption there. Eve called. She wanted to know what I was doing. I said I was writing. She asked about what.
Eve had a sort of tone of voice like she didn’t really want to know. Sometimes my writing is the same as my watching a baseball game on TV: Eve actually thinks hitting a silly ball with a silly bat is a waste of time, but she asks me what the score is anyway. What she really wants is my attention, but my attention’s on the game. I don’t want to fight, so sometimes I don’t even tell her I’m watching the game, and try to watch the game while talking to her on the phone, but she can tell I’m not paying attention, especially when I exclaim about a play in the game. She’ll say she’s bored of Weston, and I’ll say, “Wow! Incredible!” cos I see an incredible play on TV. So she’s annoyed.
Of course, I’m not watching a game on TV; I’m watching a game in my head, which is even worse in a way. But she gets it out of me that I’m not writing about her, and instead am writing about Durf and the gang and getting a commune together. Not that she’d be happy if I was writing about her. She would feel nervous about what I was saying. But at least she’d be getting attention. In any case she gets real silent.
I can never figure out why someone calls up and gets real silent. You can’t even see her face, so I can’t even guess what she’s on about. It is pretty gruesome, and I’m in no mood for that. So I just say I am getting back to work, and will see her tomorrow. The silence goes on, so I hang up.
Now how the heck am I supposed to get back on track? I have this speedy and sick feeling in my gut.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Ham ‘n’ Franks had just left, and I’m sitting out in the Party Woods with Durf.
Durf was pretty indignant about Ham being a GG, as soon as the peacock plume bobbed out of sight and they were out of earshot, but I was in no mood for bad-mouthing, and changed the subject. (GG is short for Grass Grubber, and is our slang for someone who is always there to smoke your pot, but never seems to have any pot of his own for you to smoke.) Instead I was interested in why Durf had chased me down.
I figured Durf must want a ride out to Riverside, cos he was a lot cleaner than he’d been the past week, when he was only hiding out at his parents. He’d backslid to the dirty Durf I knew as a boy, with a sweaty T-shirt and grubby jeans, but now his hair was washed and tidy, combed out long and straight with a beaded headband, and he wore his newest, bluest jeans, and his T-shirt smelled of laundry detergent. And, if Durf really was heading back into the city, I figured he must have money for rent, or at least have the money to buy a pound of pot to push to pay his rent. So I was curious how he got the money. But I didn’t ask, figuring he‘d tell me when he was ready, and instead scuffed through the leaves at the campsite, remembering stuff that happened last summer, and telling Durf how happy remembering that stuff made me feel.
I was seeing it all through rose-colored glasses, but Durf had different memories than I did. And he told me so, in a pretty grumpy tone. He remembered one night he was trying to pick up a beautiful girl and teach her about free love, but she didn’t want to learn, and the next morning she went home and told Bugsy’s mom, and it turned out the girl was Bugsy’s cousin, and she was only thirteen. Moms talked to Moms, and Fred got in some sort of trouble, which seemed dumb to him because the girl was stacked and dressed to show it and didn’t look thirteen, and anyway, he hadn’t even made it to second base.
I said Durf had made it: He’d made it impossible for Eve to go into the woods at all, once her Mom and Dad heard what went on in those woods, but Durf just grimaced and said it all went together into something that proves that Weston is a stupid town where a guy can‘t do what a guy wants to be free to do. And, if I wanted to be free, I should leave Weston.
I said it might be a stupid town, but it was my home. I didn’t want to be booted out like some Cherokee onto some Trail of Tears. I reminded him of a song I wrote which he liked, about Cape Cod being wreaked by people running away from the city, and sung him that part of that song that goes, “Why bulldoze up these beaches? It seems we might as well turn our cities into heaven and not beaches into hell.” I said you could switch the word Weston for the word beaches, and the song still made sense.
He just shook his head and said the parents wouldn’t go for it. I told him I didn’t care. I was going to make a lot of money and buy these woods, and make a farm where the teenagers didn’t get thrown out and the poor people didn’t get thrown out and the old people didn’t get thrown out. I was going to make a commune like the pub Ben Bhraggie in Golspie. I’ve told Fred about that pub a lot, and he’s pretty sick of hearing me go on about it, but I said Weston’s got problems and when your town has problems you shouldn’t run away. You should fix them.
Then he said my poetry wouldn’t make a nickel and I was dreaming. He’d spent a year in college already, and knew the ropes, and he knew most poets either starved or got stuck in colleges being professors, and professors had to kiss ass all day and were stuck teaching depressed losers who wouldn’t know a real poem if it bit them. I said they probably said the same thing to Art Garfunkle and Rod McCuin, and if he didn’t think I could do it, he’d better stand back and watch.
Durf just looked at me, shaking his head, and then suddenly he smiled and laughed. I see that smile too little these days, and it was good to see.
Durf said I was crazy but he wished me luck, but he reckoned I was a Country Mouse and he was a City Mouse, and he’d best be getting back to the world he was going to change, as I stayed in the world I was going to change. Then he asked me for the ride I expected him to ask me for, and I told him I’d see if Halsey was using the Fossil’s car. As we walked out of the clearing I could see he had his problems solved and a spring in his step and a determined set to his jaw, and I felt good because I felt I’d inspired him somehow. That’s the thing about the Party Woods. You never come out the same way you went in.
As we came out of the woods Spook and Duke were still behind their barn working on Spook’s old Rambler. The oldest brother Zeck and youngest brother Zooks had joined them. I was glad to see the bunch, but I could tell Durf wasn’t, because he slowed and looked to either side, almost as if he wanted to cut through the shrubbery and pass unseen.
Zooks looked up first as we neared and was all jovial like usual, but Spook looked even more scared and paranoid than he usually looks. Zeck and Duke started nudging Spook forward as we approached, murmuring stuff I couldn’t hear into each of his ears.
I had no clue what was up, but it didn’t take me long to figure it out: Durf owed Spook money, and Spook was scared to ask for it back, but he steeled his nerve and did, and Durf had to say he was flat broke and was going to have to hustle like crazy to come up with money for his share of the rent in Boston. Spook said he needed the money really badly for a new coil for his Rambler, and Durf said he’d do his best. Then we only chatted briefly before Durf said he had to get back to Boston. As we walked away Durf grumbled that Spook never paid for the gas when Durf drove, but wouldn’t forget a lousy twenty-five bucks.
Just as we started down the road Zooks came hustling up from behind and asked me if I’d come back later, cos Spook was in one of his moods. (Spook’s subject to bummers, and it’s hard work talking him out of them, so it wasn’t anything I was happy to hear.) I told Zooks I’d try. Zooks smiled and thanked me, and then jogged back towards the barn, and after he was out of sight Fred groused that Spook was just bummed out cos his car wouldn’t run. Spook’s fifty-dollar junker hardly ever ran, and was always broken down, which meant Spook was always bummed out, so I ought just give Spook a slap and tell him not to be such a downer, according to Durf.
My whole mood was spoiled. That’s what bugs me, ever since I got back. There’s always some sort of trouble, either about money or a girl, which is making a hassle happen between my friends. Then I get stuck in this position between two guys I like. I like Fred and I like Spook, and want to make things right, but when I say anything I sort of get told to shut up.
Halsey was playing the piano instead of heading to Boston like he’d planned, so I could use the Fossil’s car to drive Durf out to Riverside to take the trolley to town. I noticed Durf didn’t offer to pay for the gas, even as he went on and on about Spook never paying for his, and Durf doesn’t even have a car.
As Durf went on about Spook I got a glimpse of some situation I missed when I was at Dunrobin: Spook’s car was broken down at Audley Bine’s commune, and Durf was visiting with his Dad’s Cadillac, and wound up driving Spook all over to get auto parts.
As Durf went on I gathered he helped Spook way back in January, in a terrible cold wave. January seems a long time ago, and it seemed to me like Durf did a nice thing, but was sort of holding it over Spook’s head like a club. It spoils the good of being nice when you do that, but I didn’t know how to tell Durf that. When I tried he got real shrill, saying spoiled kids from Weston didn’t know what real life was like in the city, and expected everything to get handed to them on a silver platter. So I shut up. I figured maybe he was worried about how he was going push the pot to come up with his share of the rent, but he said he wasn’t worried.
I was curious about Audley Bine’s commune, because I keep hearing bits and pieces about it, but Durf just said it was a bunch of spoiled Weston brats sitting about and whining about how terrible the world was. We had gotten to Riverside by then, and I was afraid I wouldn’t hear much more, but the orange trolley was just squealing and shrieking away around the sharp curve in the rails, and there’s a good, long wait for the next trolley at that time of day, so we just sat in the car and shot the bull, waiting.
The haze was thickening and you could feel the humidity creeping up and I felt all sweaty in the car in that hot parking lot, but I practically shivered, cos we were back in the bitter cold of January as we talked. Durf had flunked out of college due to that asshole teacher, but hadn’t gotten around to telling his parents. He planned to tell them, coming home for the weekend, but Durf couldn’t find the right words, so his Dad hadn’t hit the roof and didn’t mind loaning Durf his Cadillac, to go over to Audley’s.
Durf only visited Audley’s commune cos Audley hadn’t stopped selling drugs yet, and was selling the best hashish around. Spook was staying at the commune cos his mother had gotten strict about him bringing his girlfriend Motey home, and she said he wasn’t allowed to listen to music in the barn with Motey, and she said that right in front of Motey, and that embarrassed the hell out of Spook, so he ran away from home over to Audley’s. Spook had his own car and was actually working a job after school, to help pay Audley’s rent, and was doing yoga and trying to make Kundalini go up his spine, to make Audley happy, and also was doing all this sensitivity-stuff, also to make Audley happy.
Durf said the sensitivity-stuff was all sort of sickening. You were supposed to remember stuff and bawl your eyes out about it. You’d pretend pillows were your parents and punch them, saying how mad you were, and then bawl some more.
Durf said to see Spook trying to do that stuff was stupid. For a Lasaumille to be all mushy and sensitive is sort of like a nail trying to be a flower petal. One reason the Lasaumille boys are always annoying their Mom is because they are all tough like their Dad, and seem to side with him even though they don’t; they actually don’t much like how their Dad never spoiled them cos he never spared the rod. (I’ve never actually met their Dad; he got thrown out of Weston like mine did; but they make it sound like he would have gotten along great with Major Ridgeway, rowing across the Atlantic. He probably would have contributed money to starting Dunrobin to teach boys that hardship brings out the man in you, and all that rot, which is about as opposite sensitivity-stuff as you can get.) Their Mom got fed up with all the Dad’s macho stuff, cos she’s not a man, and she divorced the macho man, but fate didn’t give her a single daughter. All she got was the toughest boys in town. So now it’s sort of like she’s trying to get a divorce from the sons.
What’s going down in Spook’s house is all weird and bizarre, but I can understand it, cos my Dad’s a surgeon and Mother’s a nurse, and surgeons are like drill sergeants who try to boot you out of bed and make you run ten laps, while nurses want you to lie back down and be comfortable and sleep. When the light is shining down doctors and nurses are on the same page, cos they’re focused on the patient and on healing, and exercise and rest get balanced, but soon as they get all stubborn and selfish like my parents did, they rip the page right in half. The patient gets booted out of bed and told to run ten laps, and then hurled back into bed and told to not budge, and then booted out, and then hurled back, until the patient either dies of bruising, or tells both the doctor and the nurse to go to hell. And in a divorce the patient is the kid, so I know what a weird and bizarre home is like, and how Spook feels.
Anyway, Durf walks into this bizarre situation where a Lasaumille is trying to be sensitive, and do Yoga, while at the same time being wicked tough by not dropping out of school and instead getting up early to do homework cos he couldn’t do it the night before cos he stayed up late to work a job to pay Weston-rents even though he hasn’t even graduated from high school. That’s tough, Lasaumille tough, but Spook’s trying to also be all tender hearted and girlie as Durf walks in. Durf keeps his opinions to himself, because all he wants is a Kilo of hashish, but it turns out he is twenty-five dollars short, and Audley won’t budge on his price.
Durf really, really wants the hashish, cos it is so strong you can sell half-grams as grams, and nobody will complain, and that doubles your profit, but the only one at Audley’s who isn’t flat broke, including Audley, who Durf can possibly borrow twenty-five from, is Spook. But Spook can’t get to work cos his Rambler’s water-pump got busted cos he had too little antifreeze in the radiator for the cold wave. Durf figures he won’t be able to borrow the twenty-five dollars if Spook can’t get to work, so he drives Spook around in his Dad’s Cadillac looking for a cheap water pump, and helps Spook fix his car in weather so cold your skin sticks to the metal, even before he asks for the loan. Spook can’t really afford to loan Durf the money, but loans it cos Durf assures him he’ll pay back as soon as he sells the hash, and also Spook’s grateful to Durf for the help.
And that’s where my glimpse of Audley’s commune ended, cos Durf was in no hurry to go back to Weston, once he had the hash. The hash was so good it got its own name, “Zombie Ha-Ha,” and Durf had no problem selling half grams as grams and made a huge profit and was wicked popular and had a girl on either arm, and was Big-man-on-campus even though the school had kicked him out for flunking.
It really does go to your head, when you’re selling pot or hash. I know cos I did it some in high school. It’s like everyone is your friend and they all want to be with you, and your pocket’s full of cash. I was always wicked generous with the free samples cos I liked being the center of a happy party, but Durf had a score to settle with the guy who got him flunked out, and used being a Big-man-on-campus to organize a revenge.
He got to know the last three girlfriends of the asshole English Professor, and they joined up with Durf and the other two guys who the asshole had flunked out, and all six got busy driving the bastard nuts.
All they did was to figure out where the asshole ate out, and then just happened to be at the same place, when he was trying to impress his next sucker girl-student, or even to just eat breakfast alone. They’d just happen to walk by the table.
They didn’t need to do anything but look at him. Fred must have taught the others to accuse with their eyes the way he does.
They didn’t have classes to go to, so they could devote lots of time to just happening to pass him as he walked to his car, or to his apartment, or to a class. Mostly only one would pass him, but sometimes the girls would pretend to be a couple of friends walking and laughing, but soon as they saw him they’d go silent, and just stare. He got jumpy, and one time, when Durf snuck into a class he was teaching before he walked in, and hid down behind a desk in the back until he’d walked in and started his lecture, and only then sat up and put his head on his elbows and gave him both eyes of that accusing look, the guy went white as a ghost, and his lecture rambled through incoherence to a halt, and then he got very red and started to scream, but by the time most of the other students had turned to see what he was screaming at, Durf had slipped out the door.
Just the way Durf talked about it, sort of gloating, I could see he had a blast driving the guy crazy. The neat thing about the revenge was they never lifted a finger or spoke a word. Yet they hadn’t even started.
The girls got to be friends with secretary of the department the professor worked in, in order to find out what his schedule was, and it turned out she was pissed off at him too, so she told them he was such a wreck he was seeing a psychiatrist, and also where the psychiatrist’s office was, and when his appointments were. So even when the asshole went to get his head on straight, he’d walk out from the psychiatrist’s office, and all the people he’d screwed-over would just happen to pass him on the street, and he’d have to turn around and run back to get his head re-screwed. In the end he couldn’t take it, and had to take a sabbatical. They drove him right out of the school.
With Durf so busy in Boston, Spook had no chance to see him and collect the twenty-five, until today. But Durf wasn’t avoiding Spook as much as avoiding his own Dad. His Mom figured out he had flunked out, cos some money she’d sent to pay for his tuition came back in the mail, but she didn’t tell his Dad, cos his Dad’s a Navy man and is big on throwing drunken sailors in brigs, when he isn’t on leave himself.
Durf didn’t want to talk about Spook or his Dad. That was the old world, and he was all caught up in a new world where he was sort of taking over the college. He’d driven the bad teacher out and in a way wound up with all the women the bad teacher once had. He had a feeling of power and wanted it to keep going on.
I annoyed Durf by saying revenge didn’t sound much like Peace, Love, and Understanding to me, and it sounded to me like Durf was wrecking without building. He might have gotten rid of the teacher, but he didn’t get the paper going again, did he?
Durf looked at me like he was disgusted, and said he was a chump to work so hard on that paper; he’d resolved he’d never be a chump again. He’d never, ever again work hard and make a newspaper that won awards. He’d just party hearty, and take acid, and sleep with beautiful women, and raise hell, and occasionally hustle up the rent. And so far he’s done good at doing that. Of course, he gets so blitzed that sometimes he doesn’t notice a month has passed and it’s time to come up with the rent, and then he has to hide out at his parent’s without his Dad finding out he actually isn’t going to college, but Durf says it is all worth it.
I reckon even his Mom’s a bit worried, cos she wouldn’t loan him money this time. He had to get it off his little sister. He blushed just a little, confessing that part to me. But he’s all-fired determined that this time he’ll pay people back, cos it’s his little sister’s money, this time.
I told Durf I wanted him to bring his poems out to Weston and talk poetry and Stinedu with me, like we used to, and he said he really hates to come back to Weston. He said it’s too much like selling out; it’s too much of a compromise. So I asked if I could bring my poems in to him, and he said maybe we could try that, but he felt I had gone pretty straight at Dunrobin. I asked him what he meant by that. He said he now got the best Stinedu tripping in the arms of sexy babes, and my songs were pretty poor, compared to tits and LSD. He said it in a joking way, but it clapped my mouth shut and a silence fell for a bit.
I felt weirdly shrunken, (like Franks looks talking to Ham,) but I finally protested Durf hadn’t even seen my songs. How could he know? Durf laughed he didn’t know, but did know its hard work to see poems in grubby ink, but real easy to see poetry in a couple of nipples.
All I could think to say to that is that all he is going to have to look back on, at the end of his life, is thousands of nipples like the Great Plains. That made him laugh like crazy. I then said the purpose of poetry is to share Stinidu with others, so they see life can be poetry, and not boring. I asked him what the world would have lost if Shakespeare cared only for nipples, and didn’t work hard to write. How are people to understand Stinedu is no one shows them? Durf stopped laughing and looked thoughtful, and then said, “Maybe that’s why all people have two nipples of their own.”
Up ‘til this point I thought he was talking about women’s nipples, but now I suddenly saw he was talking about his own. I was sort of incredulous, and thinking, “You think your nipples are better than Shakespere?” But what came of my mouth was, “I don’t know what the bloody hell you are talking about!”
Durf just said, “I know” with his eyes laughing in a sort of “Touche’” way, like I’m a dumb virgin and don’t know anything, and then he seemed to feel like the talk was over. I went on a bit about how Stinedu isn’t merely physical, but I felt like I was talking to a dead telephone. Durf was already looking ahead to all the fun he was going to have, being the pusher with the good pot and the Big-man-on-campus and paying his rent, and his eyes were full of elation. I can’t argue with that elation, and to be honest I don’t much want to. The next orange trolley was screeching around the curve and into the station, and he was opening the car door, so I said goodbye.
As Durf got out he paused, and then pointed west. A distant thunderhead was billowing up, fifty miles away towards Worchester. Durf said the only thing he honestly missed about Weston was the thunderstorms. In the city they were always petering out, as they came down from the Weston hills, and also city building’s thick walls made the rumbles seem far away, like bombs inside a bunker. Then he just shrugged, tossed his hair out of his face and shot me a smile, and ran for the trolley. I sure did feel lonely, driving back to Weston.
TO BE CONTINUED at https://wordpress.com/post/44117707/9274