Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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My thumb was out and Interstate 86 out of Providence, Rhode Island was getting hot. Me and my St. Bernard, Roger, were thumbing across America. It had been a messy morning. Roger goes nuts when he catches the scent of women having periods. We just had a lift from such a woman, in a Volkswagen. By the time I was able to pull Roger off her (he was going crazy), there was tattered Kotex all over the car, and it had piled into a divider, its front end crumpled. I kicked Roger many times in the ass and told him “Roger, No. Roger, No.” This is what I was told to tell him in obedience school. And we were out on the road again. A brown Plymouth pulled up. I first thought it looked a little like a cop’s car, a detective’s car. But there was a man and a woman in it. Roger and I squeezed into the back seat.
The woman commented that my dog was nice. She asked if he wanted a Coca Cola. I said he might, and she held the bottle as Roger slurped it down. On the car radio the New York Philharmonic was playing a Fleetwood Mac tune. The man driving introduced himself as Fletcher Driscoll. “I am a gentleman chicken farmer,” he said. I had the feeling he was no gentleman chicken farmer.
“He’s an assassin third grade,” the woman piped up. “He works for the CIA.”
My jaw dropped in disbelief. I had never seen a CIA man in the flesh, as pasty as his flesh was. Driscoll had a paper thin nose, eyes of different colors. He was wearing weaved plastic slacks and a plaid jacket. “Actually, I’m in the hamster business,” said Driscoll.
“Bullshit,” said the woman, who introduced herself as Lorna. “This is a cover he always gives. He’s a CIA man.”
“It’s cool,” I said. I try not to be involved in current events too much. It gets me down. Lorna says that Driscoll is on a mission to undermine the Hartford, Connecticut chapter of Planned Parenthood.
“No shit?” I say.
Driscoll will only give a distant glare, but I can sense that the woman is telling me the truth. All of a sudden, hurtling down the highway alongside us — Roar!!!!!!!!!! Roar!!!!!!!! — is this Honda Civic. Roar!!!!!!! Roar!!!!!! It’s coming up fast and seems to be trying to cut our car off the road. I turn my attention to a door and start thinking that Roger and I might just have to jump out soon. Driscoll bashes his car against the Honda Civic. “Crashbangboosh,” goes the Plymouth sedan bumping into the Honda Civic. “Roar!!!!!!!!! Roar!!!!!!!!!!!,” retorts the Honda, still trying to edge in front of Driscoll’s auto. From his jacket Driscoll pulls a gun, an automatic with a foot-long silencer. He fires it through his front windshield. Splat, goes a bullet through the windshield. Splat, Driscoll lets another one fly. He shoots another and another. The windshield is getting cracked up in a million pieces and Driscoll has still somehow missed the Honda Civic. The cutting off and bumping continues. Driscoll keeps firing but keeps missing. Driscoll takes a free foot and kicks it through the shattered windshield. “I need a better view,” he says, as the remnants of a brisk Rhode Island off-shore breeze whips through our hair. Suddenly, the Interstate divides. The four goons and one ape man in the Honda don’t see it. They go ramming into a divider.
Driscoll floors his Plymouth and we fly down the road. We’re going 100 m.p.h. as we pass a sign saying Hartford, Connecticut 40 miles. “Narrow escape,” says Driscoll, spitting into the ash tray. “I’d say,” says Lorna, putting on a hat to shield her hair from the rushing wind.
“Who was that?” I ask.
“FBI,” says Driscoll. “They’re trying to muscle in on our case. And all they’re after is the publicity.”
“What’s the plan?” I ask.
Driscoll looks at me, sternly. “I shouldn’t be talking to you at all about this,” he says. “This material is on a highly restricted need-to-know basis.”
Q: Uncle Sam, Would you please tell me who America was truly named after? A.M., Jr., Levittown, N.Y.
A: Yes, this is a question frequently asked. In fact, America was named after a tree, The America tree. At the time America was discovered this was a very common tree, but later disappeared due to drought.
Q: Uncle Sam, please explain to me why George Washington and the other founders of this country had long hair which they sometimes tied bows in? J.H.G., Houston, Texas.
A: The earlier presidents of the United States were all gay. This is a well known, although seldom revealed, fact.
Q: Who, in your estimation, was the best president?
A : Carmine Spatarini.
On the road in America: the billboard screaming, CURE SCHIZOPHRENIA WITH GERITOL. The newspaper headlines blare, MASTURBATION AMONG U.S. COLLEGE PRESIDENTS. The TV show: Win 300 pounds of spaghetti!!!!!!!!! What has happened to you America? I know someone, a psychic, who says that America is the future. I know someone who says that America is the past.
Fletcher Driscoll had gone off to a Planned Parenthood meeting. I was back in the basic Bicentennial Suite at the Hartford Holiday Hostelry with Lorna and Roger. Lorna was commenting how Americans have a language pattern similar to chickens. “Birds can’t understand the elements of traffic safety,” I say. Lorna was mentioning how Lina Wertmuller is Johnny Weismeller’s sister.
I was asking Lorna how she got into government work. She said she began as a moll for the House Public Works Committee. She laughed about debased revelries on top the Washington Monument. “In Washington the Washington Monument is an inside joke,” she explained. Lorna told of having unnatural acts with the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff and an obscure senator, now the president, Phinneas Filcher. She said she then got a job with the CIA. “I got into a consciousness raising group,” she said, “and understood how I was being sexually misused.”
She said she became a provocateur for the CIA. “You met interesting people,” said Lorna, a thin lady but quite shapely, with pastel blue eyes and honey blonde hair cascading down her head. “But I decided to leave Washington,” she went on. “The heavy drinking got to me. Everybody’s always got a load on. In Washington they start boozing before lunch, they can’t see by 3 p.m.; and after a few pre-supper cocktail parties, they’re dead drunk by supper and spend their evenings, still boozing, in a stupor. The leadership of America is affected interchangeably by cirrhosis of the liver and chronic gonorrhea. Government in America functions at a perpetual drunk.”
She said she met Driscoll at the CIA when he was only a burglar. “He’s a go-getter,” said Lorna. “For a time he was a spy plane pilot. Driscoll sees pictures of Mt. Rushmore with his face on it.” Lorna said after Washington she went to New York and did PR for the Mafia for a while, and now was mostly traveling with Driscoll. Just then Driscoll came rushing in. “I did it,” he said.
Q: Chief, what is the best thing about America? C.M., Detroit, Michigan.
A: The nature, which is getting progressively ruined by those who now call themselves Americans. The native American population was kind to the land. Their ethic was based on harmony with environment — a most fitting philosophy for a land as delicate and as beautiful, as crushable as America.
Q: What about contemporary American culture? “Cosmo,” Berkeley, Calif.
A: American civilization, so called, has essentially become a market taken to the extreme: The Ultimate Shopping Center.
Q: Are you hopeful about modern America? G.X. II, Canal Zone.
A: Hopeful is beyond the point. They have covered their nation in a jumble of Interstate highways and commercial strips, gas stations and McDonald’s, Kentucky fried chicken and garbage, trailers and shopping centers. An idealistic democratic system has been warped and manipulated by a lunatic economic system. But any civilization is just a layer of a few inches on the crust of the planet — the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Romans. The way America is going, however, poisoning itself and the planet, it could end up to be the icing.
We were on the road again. Driscoll was explaining how the Hartford job went. “You see,” he began, “as part of the foreign aid program faulty IUD’s were sent to Pakistan — 30 million faulty IUD’s — because of a series of kickbacks. Well, the Pakistanis demanded that we take them back, and G.L.C., the multinational, agreed to recall the IUD’s and replace them with good ones for Pakistan if we could figure a way to distribute them.” I interrupted, “What are you, the Marines for the Multinationals?” I asked. Driscoll gazed at me sharply. “Bernard,” he said (that’s my name — Bernard), “be a man — sell out.” He wouldn’t say another thing. They drove me in their rented car to the Massachusetts line, where they let me out. Lorna flashed back a quick smile as they headed off. It was getting dark and Roger was getting tired. We were near Bash Bish Falls and headed up a trail to them. However, there was a sign: FALLS CLOSED. We slept for the night in a meadow where the Wambang Indians once camped. On the trail the next day I met a man who said he once had been a photographer for the Associated Press specializing in taking pictures of people jumping off buildings. He was wearing chicken bones around his neck and explained that he had only recently taken a holy name. Roger and I ate some blueberries from a bush. “Let us still the astral waters,” said the former photographer as we sat down on a decomposing log. “We’re all on a boat going down,” he said. “Each day the sun’s power fades a hair.”
“And America?” I asked.
“And America will go down as the first major mass producer of rocket ships. America makes good rocket ships. We must get ourselves a used one. I understood you can get a used Thor rocket, in good condition, cheap.”
Then he looks at me and says, “I never have a sexual relationship with anyone I have a personal relationship with and I never have a personal relationship with someone I have a sexual relationship with and I never have . . .” At this time, I knew it was time to move on. I yanked on Roger’s abundant tail and walked on. Later I met a lady who said she was looking for a mountain to jump off. She said she had been in love with her boa constrictor, but they had a falling out. She showed me color pictures. Farther up the trail, to my shock, a man had placed a sign — a rustic billboard — YOU NEED FEET, it said — and he was selling kites and shoes, “with cushy crepe soles,” he said. I bought a kite. “If it don’t fly bring it back,” he said. He also had some William McKinley Memorabilia but I didn’t buy that. And he told me “the soundest investment in America today are comic books. Save ’em. They’re valuable.” I decided to sit down by a tree, and with Roger, enjoy the sun while it was out.