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[BAND PLAYING JAZZ]
In the early 1950s, the nation recognized in its midst a social movement called the Beat Generation.
A novel titled"On the Road" became a best seller, and its author, Jack Kerouac, became a celebrity, partly because he'd written a powerful and successful book, but partly because he, uh, seemed to be the embodiment of this new generation.
So here he is, Jack Kerouac.
[APPLAUSE FADES, MUSIC PLAYING]
JACK: 3,000 miles from Long Island.
It's the first trip I've taken away from my mother's house since the publication of "Road" three years ago.
All over America, high school and college kids thinking Jack Kerouac is 26 years old and on the road all the time hitchhiking, while there I am almost 40 years old, bored and jaded.
The book that made me famous and, in fact, so much so, I've been driven mad for three years by endless telegrams, phone calls, requests, mail, visitors, reporters, snoopers.
I was surrounded and outnumbered...
and had to get away to solitude again or die.
So Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote and said, "Come to my cabin in Big Sur.
"No one'll know."
Although Lawrence and I exchanged huge letters outlining how I would sneak in quietly into the West Coast, I'd ruined my secret return to San Francisco by getting silly drunk and marching forth into North Beach to see everybody.
Everyone recognized me.
I'm telling you.
[JAZZ PLAYING, OVERLAPPING CONVERSATIONS]
MAN: Hey, everybody, the bloody king of the beatniks is back in town.
JACK: Two days of that, including Sunday, the day Lawrence Ferlinghetti is supposed to pick me up at my secret skid row hotel and drive me to Big Sur woods.
One fast move, or I'm gone.
You say I'm alone, and the cabin is suddenly home only because you made one meal and washed your first meal dishes.
The flies retreat like polite Emily Dickenson flies, and when it's dark, they're all asleep in the trees.
Maybe the bees got a message to come and see me, all 2,000 of 'em, which seems to happen like a big party once a week.
No booze, no drugs, no binges, no bouts with beatniks and drunks and junkies and everybody.
What I do now next? Chop wood?
Long nights simply thinking about the usefulness of that little wire scour, those little yellow copper things you buy in supermarkets for 10 cents, all to me infinitely more interesting than the stupid and senseless
"Steppenwolf" novel in the shack, which I read with a shrug, this old fart reflecting on conformity of today, and all the while, he thought he was a big Nietzsche.
Because on the fourth day, I began to get bored and noted it in my diary with amazement, "Already bored?"
Even though the handsome words of Emerson would shake me out of that, where he says in one of those little red leather books and is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best.
Yet I went crazy inside three weeks.
In me and in everyone, I felt completely nude of all poor protective devices, like thoughts about life or meditations under trees and the ultimate and all that...
In fact, the other pitiful devices of making supper or saying, "What I do now next? Chop wood?"
I see myself as just doomed, an awful realization that I have been fooling myself all my life thinking there was a next thing to do to keep the show going, and actually I'm just a sick clown, not even really any kind of common sense, animate effort to ease the soul in this horrible, sinister condition of mortal hopelessness.
I hate to write.
All my tricks laid bare, even the realization that they're laid bare itself laid bare is a lot of bunk.
The sea seems to yell to me, "Go to your desire. Don't hang around here.
"Why not live for fun and joy and love
"or some sort of girl by a fireside?
Why not go to your desire and laugh?"
But I ran away from that seashore and never came back again without that secret knowledge that it didn't want me there, that I was a fool to sit there in the first place.
The sea has its waves.
The man has his fireside, period.
It's time to leave.
I'm so scared by that iodine blast by the sea and by the boredom of the cabin.
I'm tired of my food, forgot to bring Jell-O.
You need Jell-O after all that bacon fat and cornmeal in the woods.
Every woodsman needs Jell-O or Cokes or something.
But before I go, I realize this isn't my own cabin.
Here's the second signpost of my madness.
I have no right to hide Ferlinghetti's rat poison as I'd been doing, feeding the mouse instead, so like a dutiful guest in another man's cabin, I take the cover off the rat poison, but compromise by simply leaving the box on the top shelf.
I go dancing off like a fool from my sweet retreat, rucksack on back, after only three weeks and really after only three or four days of boredom and go hankering back for the city.
I figure I'll get a ride to Monterey real easy and take the bus there and be in Frisco by nightfall for a big ball of wino yelling with the gang.
I feel, in fact, Lew Welch ought to be back by now, or Neal Cassady will be ready for a ball, and there'll be girls and such and such, forgetting entirely that only three weeks previous, I'd been sent fleeing from that city by the horrors.
This is the first time I've hitchhiked in years, and soon I begin to see that things have changed in America.
You can't get a ride anymore, but, of course, especially on a strictly tourist road like this or coast highway with no trucks or business.
But the tourists, bless their hearts, after all, they couldn't know, only think I'm having a big, happy hike with my rucksack, and they drive on.
[CABLE CAR BELL RINGS]
If you should ever stop using that smile, how could the world go on?
We were gonna come down to see you this weekend.
You should have waited. Your mom wrote.
She said your cat died.
I'll go get the letter.
JACK: My relationship with my cats has always been dotty.
Some kind of psychological identification of the cats with my dead brother Gerard, who taught me to love cats when I was three and four and we used to lie on the floor on our bellies, then watch them lap up milk.
The death of a cat means little to most men, but to me, it was exactly-- and no lie and sincerely-- like the death of my little brother.
What the hell?
Why bother grown-up men and poets at that with your own troubles?
Maybe you should go back to the cabin for a couple of weeks, huh?
Or are you just gonna get drunk again?
I'm gonna get drunk, yes.
You can go back soon, huh?
Did you write anything?
We can drink to that.
It's still a cat.
I know he meant a lot to you.
You know that's the way of things.
Hey, so by City Lights bookstore the other day, there was a workman out in the front, you know, hammering away with a jackhammer really loud.
"Yahh." Right in the street.
And the psychic above the studio leans out the window, and he says, "When are you gonna stop making all that racket down there?"
And the guy looks up, and he says, "You're the psychic, buddy. You tell me."
Did you write that?
No, I--I read it in the paper.
Herb Caen wrote it.
Here's to Tyke.
I'll go give Lew a call.
Yeah, Lew, this is Phil.
Listen, I'm down with Jack at the bar. Why don't you come down?
On the rocks, right?
Drinking any less?
Unless we're drinking.That we are.
Can I get one of what he's having, please?
Hey, go play a record or something.
Who's the kid?
Kid I met named Paul Smith.
He's a little scared of you, I think.
He's a little starstruck.
Janie.Yeah, you know.
Didn't know you were gonna be here.
Good to see you. Welcome back.
I'm glad to be back.We missed you.
So what are you doing back? What are you doing here?
I been hanging out at Big Sur.
Lawrence sent me down there.
You know where in Big Sur?
How was that?
[GLASS CLINKS]Thank you.
JACK: I realized the unbearable anguish of insanity.
Big ministers of states, bishops walking around with a dirty behind.
How uninformed people can be thinking insane people are happy.
[echoing] In America, they have these racks of dry-cleaned clothes, like you see on trips.
And advertising firms with their neckties and their...
A regular nuthouse actually and just exactly the image of what the journalists want to say about the Beat Generation.
Nevertheless, a harmless and pleasant arrangement for young bachelors and a good idea in the long run, because you can rush into any room and find the expert, like, say, Philip's room, and ask...
He said go ... yourself.
Make your mind like a wall.
Don't pant over outside activities, and don't bug me with your outside plans.
Or you go running into Lew Welch's room, and there he is sitting cross-legged on his mattress on the floor reading Jane Austen.
Ain't nothing but a well-cooked beef and onion stew that you let cool afterwards.
Then you throw in mushrooms and lots of sour cream.
I'll come down and show you as soon as I finish a chapter.
Or you go into Johnson's room and ask if you can borrow his tape recorder because at the moment, some funny things are being said in the kitchen by Michael McClure and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
There was Zen, jazz, booze, pot and all the works, but it was somehow obviated as a supposedly degenerate idea by the sight of a beatnik carefully painting the wall of his room in clean white with nice little red borders around the door and window frames.
WOMAN: Come on down, pal.
Let's go see Neal.
My God, what the hell has happened?
There's nothing but construction in the Valley now.
Looks like Los Angeles.Yeah.
Population explosion's gonna cover every bit of backyard dirt in America.
In fact, someday they'll have to start piling frigging levels of houses and others...
I think I see a flying saucer in the sky over Los Gatos.
It's five miles away.
Yeah. It's just the top of a radio tower.
JACK: We're anxious to see great Neal Cassady, who was always the major part of my reason for journeying to the West Coast.
I haven't seen Neal for several years, because mainly he just spent two years in San Quentin on a stupid charge of possession of marijuana.
Neal actually loves his home, paid for by railroad insurance when he broke his leg trying to stop a boxcar from crashing.
Loves his kids and especially his little son, Timmy John, partly named after me.
And then there's Carolyn.
She's got her mind on other things than taking care of the children, though all she really wants is to be alone with me and talk about Neal Cassady, which includes the fact of Billie, his mistress, who has threatened to take Neal Cassady away completely.
In fact, I can see it now, a great big four-way marriage with Neal and Carolyn.
It is-- [GRUNTS]
All right, you guys come by around 1:00 when the boss leaves, and watch me work, and keep me company a while, all right, before you go back to the city?
Neal doesn't like me drinking.
I don't like some of the things Neal does either.
We all have our something.
Neal's little something lives in San Francisco.
She might as well move in.
I'll be your something.
I always said I had two husbands.
You could have picked me.
You're nobody's fool, Jack.
I can see in Neal's eyes that he can see in my own eyes the regret we both feel that recently we haven't had chances to talk like we used to do driving across America.
JACK: Lew Welch now realizes why I've always loved Neal Cassady.
Expecting to see a bitter ex-con, he sees instead a martyr of the American night in goggles in some dreary tire shop at 2 A.M. making fellows laugh with joy with his funny explanations, yet at the same time, to a T performing every bit of the work he's being paid for.
And then had been reenlisted in the Army Reserves in active duty for the remainder of the war.
My God, he can do all that, then even explain it while he's doing it.
Who wants to give it a try?I'm good.
Come on, Jack. We know both know a little something about retreading.
No, no, no. I'm fine where I am.
JACK: Neal really loves me like a brother.
And more than that, he gets annoyed at me sometimes, especially when I fumble and bumble like with a bottle.
Far from my clean cot on the porch in Big Sur, no blue jays yakking for me to wake up anymore, no gurgling creek.
Waking up the next morning, groaning, of course, but this is the big day where we're going to visit poor Albert Saijo at the TB hospital in the Valley.
Lew perks me up right away bringing coffee or wine, optional.
Any drinker knows how the process works.
The first day when you get drunk is okay.
The morning after means a big head, but you can kill that easy with a few more drinks and a meal.
But if you pass up the meal and go on to another night's drunk and wake up to keep the toot going and then continue on the fourth day, there will come a day when drinks won't take effect, because you're chemically overloaded, and you'll have to sleep it off, but you can't sleep anymore, because it was the alcohol itself that made you sleep those last five nights.
So delirium sets in, sleeplessness, sweats, trembling, a groaning feeling of weakness where your arms are numb and useless, nightmares, nightmares of death.
She's a nudist, and, by God, she is gonna practice it.
JACK: She's a big, beautiful brunette in the line of taste you might attribute to every slaky, hungry sex slave in the world, but also is intelligent, well-read, writes poetry, a Zen student, knows everything, who is in fact just a big, healthy, Romanian Jewess who wants to marry a good, hardy man and go live on a farm in the Valley.
But I can't believe old Zen master Albert is going to allow his body to die.
He's in a bathrobe and looks up at us almost displeased.
He sighs, and the expression on his face says, "Well, ah, so you've come to see me because I'm sick, but what do you really want?"
You're gonna be all right, Albert.
I don't know.
I guess all that dharma talk about everything is nothing is sinking in my bones.
JACK: He really means, "I don't care."
And always warm and courteous with me, he now hardly pays much of ragged beatniks.
Do you remember those dancing girls in St. Louis?
How about the nurses here, huh?
JACK: But Albert doesn't care anymore, and, anyway, it's time to leave.
The other kids are all back at the car wondering what's keeping me.
What's keeping me is that I know Albert will get better and live and teach the joyful truth, and Albert knows I know this.
That's why he's playing the game with me, the magic game of glad freedom, which is that Zen or, for that matter, the Japanese soul ultimately means I say.
And someday I will go to Japan with Albert, I tell myself, because I've heard the supper bell, right?
And knowing Albert's fantastic appetite, I don't want to hang him up.
Though he nevertheless does one last trick.
I lost that tire job.
Because we were there? Nah, nah, nah.
He's got to lay off some men.
Everything's all ... up down here, Jack.
loan me $100, will you?
I'll be right down and give you $100.
Ah, listen. Listen.
You can just loan it to me, but if you insist.
How you gonna get down here and give me that money then, huh?
I'll have Lew drive me down.
Really? Yeah, you'll do that?
[CHUCKLES] Ah, listen, I'll pay the rent with it right away.
It's Friday, right?
Or what day is it, Thursday? Yeah, it's Thursday, so I don't need to be looking for a new job till Monday, so you and me, we can hang out and talk like we used to do, and I will demolish you at chess.
Maybe even go see a baseball game, maybe go sneaking into town and see my-- see my pretty little baby. What do you say?
All right, I'll see you soon.
I ask Lew, and, yes, he's ready, and, yes, he's ready to go any time.
He's just following me, like I often follow people myself, and so off we go again.
The idea suddenly comes to me for Lew and me and Neal to go to the cabin and spend a big, quiet, crazy weekend, but when Ferlinghetti hears this, he'll come, too.
In fact, he'll bring his little Chinese buddy, Victor Wong, and we'll catch Michael McClure at Santa Cruz and go visit Henry Miller, and suddenly another big, huge ball has begun.
I'll just spend a couple days with Jack and the gang and look for a new job Monday.
Bye.There you go.
The air's so good.
Here we go.Thank you.
Not that I'm talking about us or anybody in particular.
I wouldn't even dare that.
Must be awful at night.
Reminds me of the old Colorado, by God.
It's like they say. It's like a cathedral of redwoods.
This is the kind of place where you should really be alone, you know.
There's such a sad sweetness to these trees, as though yelling would insult them.
Hey, over here, Lawrence!
McClure is the handsome young poet who's just written the most fantastic poem in America called "Dark Brown," which is every detail of his and his wife's body described in ecstatic union and communion and inside out and every which way, and not only that, he insists on reading it to us.
But I want to read my sea poem, too.
"Let me be a torch to myself.
"Oh, heart-sick, burn strive past the drift-ease
"to the depth within, making a film of the gene over the surface.
Say meat hand the hand black in the deed as this damned pleasure!"
You are beautiful!
JACK: Too many people now want to talk to us and tell us their stories.
We've been hemmed in and surrounded and outnumbered.
The circles closed in on the old heroes of the night.
That's what he told me last week.
Oh, what was it?
JACK: I've gotten the idea in my head I'm the leader of a guerilla warfare unit, and I'm marching ahead, the lieutenant giving orders.
With all our flashlights and yells, we come swarming down the narrow path, going hup, one, two, three, and challenging the enemy to come out of hiding.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
Hey, Jack! Jack.
Whoo! You got to see this, man.
The night ending with everybody passing out exhausted on cots, in sleeping bags.
Outside, McClure goes home with wife.
Victor and I by late fire keep up, yelling spontaneous questions and answers right till dawn like.
Circles momentarily complete the balance of forces lying together into love that never have slipped out.
I kiss your shoulder, and it reeks of lust.
Well, Jack, I didn't get a chance to talk to you yesterday or last year or even 10 years ago when I first met you.
You know, I can remember being so terrified when I first met you and Neal.
You looked like a couple of bank robbers or car thieves.
You know, all this sneery stuff they've written against us, against San Francisco, against Beat poetry writers, that's because none of us really look like that.
We don't look like writers or intellectuals or anything.
I--I must say that you and Neal, well, you look pretty awful in a way.
I--I must say that, you know, well, let's just say you've seen better days.
Man, you ought to go to Hollywood and play Billy the Kid.
What I'd rather do is go to Hollywood and play Rimbaud.
Well, you can't play Jean Harlow.
You know what I really want?
I want to get "Dark Brown" published in Paris.
So, if ever possible-- I don't know-- a word from you to Gallimard or Girodias, it--it would help.
I don't know.
You know, when I first read your book of poems, "Mexico City Blues,"
I turned around, and I started writing completely differently.
Everything changed, man.
That book... it enlightened me.
That's nothing like what you do.
In fact, it's miles away.
I'm a language spinner, and you're an idea man.
I used to do this in a work gang in southern Arizona.
Who's got the chops?
Lawrence, show 'em how it's done!
No tree was left alive.
JACK: I realized you can always study the character of a man by the way he chops wood.
Ferlinghetti took neat, little, short-handled chops.
Whereas old Whalen slogged away, I guess, the way he learned in Oregon, getting his job done silently, not a word.
Little Victor thereupon tried his luck, but gave up after five strokes.
The ax was likely to carry him away anyway.
I'm really happy for the first time in three years.
Then Lew Welch demonstrated with big, easy strokes, and in no time, we had five huge logs to use.
Neal's fantastic, fiery character showed in the way he went at that log with horrible force.
When he brought down that ax with all his might and holding it far at the end, you could hear the whole tree trunk groaning the whole length inside.
He brought that ax down so hard, his feet left the Earth when it hit.
It was like an example of vast, but senseless strength.
He chopped off his log with the fury of a Greek god.
♪ Whop, de-doo whop, whop, de-doo whop... ♪ Now it was time to get in the cars.
McClure had rearrived, and we go driving south down the Coast Highway to a hot springs bathhouse down there, which sounded good to me at first.
The boys reassure me the hot springs bath will do me good.
They see I'm gloomy, now hungover for good.
Look, there's a dead otter down here.
But when we arrive, my heart sinks again as McClure points out to sea from the balcony of the outdoor pools.
And sure enough, it is a dead otter, I guess, a big, brown pale lump floating up and down mournfully...
It's just an otter.
...with the swells in the ghastly weeds.
"My otter. Why did he die?"
I ask myself in despair. Why do they do that?
What's the sense of all this?
I borrow McClure's yellow bathing suit and get in.
It's very typical of me and Neal that we won't undress in this situation.
We were both raised Catholics, supposedly the big sex heroes of our generation.
Not to mention that when somebody informs me this bathhouse is owned by the young writer Kevin Cudahy, whom I knew very well in New York.
I ask one of the young strangers, "Where's Kevin Cudahy?"
He doesn't even deign to reply.
Thinking he hasn't heard me, I ask again.
No reply. No notice.
I ask a third time, it all adds up to the confusion that's beginning to pile up in my battered drinking brain anyway.
The constant reminders of death, not the least of which was the death of my peaceful love of Bixby Canyon now suddenly becoming a horror.
All right, ready?
No, you play for me.
It looks like everybody else, um, took off.
Is it all right if I stay?
I couldn't think of any way to reject his request in a harmless way, so said yes.
I--Yeah, I don't really have a ride, so...
So when they all left suddenly, I was alone with this mad beatnik kid, singing, "All I want to do is sleep."
You want some salami?
I mean... yeah, I don't really have a ride.
But I've got to make the best of it and not disappoint his believing heart, because, after all, the poor kid actually believes that there's something noble and idealistic about this Beat stuff, and I'm supposed to be the king of the beatniks.
A dead mouse.
Hey, you got to watch out for snakes, huh?
Never can tell which kind it's gonna be.
NEAL: Happy birthday, Jack!
Oh, I have good news for you.
I have brought Carolyn and Emily and Gaby and Timothy, because all of us are so grateful and glad because of your $100.
I have the most fantastic story to tell you.
Come on. Let's get him outside and tell the story.
Come on, get up!
Come on, get up!
Here, take him. Take him. Take him.
So I have to have my old good buddies push it down the road for me, and this guy, he had this perfect gem of a Cadillac.
A Cadillac, mind you, with a new radio-- get in-- and new headlights and a this-a and that-a down to the new set of tires.
Oh, and the color, the color that'll knock you out.
And a new job.
Jack, I got a new job along with a new Cadillac, a new job in downtown Los Gatos, where I don't even have to drive.
I don't even have to drive.
It's a half mile, Jack. I can walk.
Listen to that.[JAZZ PLAYING]
That is it.
Ah, that is it.
Carolyn: Go, girls! Get him!
NEAL: I tell you, being away from the men, I lost time, brother.
I lost more than time.
I lost a piece of soul, but I'm getting it back!
Neal has gotta learn to control the enormous forces that run inside of him.
You speaking to me?
What are you doing, Jack?
You see that grove there?
Once in a while, you'll be surprised out of your shoes to see the mule quietly meditating...
[LAUGHS] with locks of hair like Ruth's over his forehead, a big biblical mule meditating.
But up here, look at that bridge.
Yeah.Now, what do you think of that?
A man needs truth like a machine needs oil.
Well, then there's Neal.
He just manicures his little white lies so much that they turn into black ones.
I don't know.
Oh, you will.
Yeah, you will.
[RADIO PLAYING MUSIC]
You and me, we're gonna go-- we're gonna go flying down that Bayshore Highway and go rubbing shoulders into that city.
Then we're going to go popping up into my sweet little baby Wilhelmina.
I'm gonna leave you two little lovebirds days on end alone so you can just live and enjoy that gone little woman, because, I tell you, I want her to dig every possible thing you have to tell her about what it is that you know, you hear?
'Cause she is my-- you know, she's my soul mate, my confidante, my mistress, and I want her to learn, to be happy.
What's she look like?
She's all right.
She's got a gone little body, I'll tell you that.
But in bed, oh, she's the first and only and last possible greatest thing.
♪ Ah, ah, ah ♪
♪ Ah, ah, ah... ♪[PANTS]
You're here! [LAUGHING]
JACK: It's Lucien.
My God, it's Lucien.
Neal hates Lucien, and Lucien hates Neal.
You look like Lucien, but you're not Lucien, and on top of that, you're a woman. How goddamn strange.
So I'm gonna go back to Los Gatos and get some sleep before I have to work.
Poor Neal Cassady. Yet, you see, I've already explained why actually subconsciously this is what he really wants to happen, but he won't admit it ever and always invents reasons around this to get mad at me and call me a bastard.
I even see in my drunkenness a little worried flutter in Neal Cassady's eyes.
I'll come back tomorrow.
Her voice is the main point.
Here we go.
Lots and lots of milk, right?
There you go.
I feel myself skidding.
At night, Billie comes home, and we pitch into love again like monsters who don't know what else to do.
And by now, I'm too blurry to know what's going on anyway, though she reassures me everything is all right.
We're already going to get married and fly away to Mexico in a week.
In fact, I can see it now, a great big four-way marriage with Neal and Carolyn.
I feel myself skidding also because, during the following week, I keep sitting in the same chair by the goldfish bowl, drinking bottle after bottle of port like an automaton worrying about something.
Ferlinghetti comes to visit, McClure, almost everybody.
So Neal's secret is public, huh?
JACK: They call to me dashing up the stairs, and we have long, drunken days talking, but I never seem to get out of that chair and never even take another delightful warm bath reading books.
You should only drink white wine, Jack.
That'll kill you.
Are you gonna come back and get me here?
I'm feeling like I'm hiding the weapon.
In a few days. Just stay there.
Have you heard about that?
There's this strange group of, uh, beatniks or whatever.
A-And they wear the most--the most dandy clothes, you know, or they'll turn around a-and have these fancy pants, unpressed, of course, with torn sneakers.
LEW: Jack, you know what Lenora and I did the other day?
We went and saw "The Wizard of Oz."
Lenora after the movie thought it would be fun if we maybe had sex with a midget or something or a munchkin or--you know.
I don't know, though. I've never had sex with a midget or a munchkin.
You know what's freaking me out are those fish.
I don't understand that their world is-- their world is so small. It's just right in there, and then they can't really go anywhere, and their world is just encompassed in this little space.
Do you ever think about that?
I think about that a lot.
I think that their world is so small and our world is so big.
But our world is getting smaller, too, because now Hawaii is a state, and Alaska is a state.
We went from 48 to 50...
I realize it's just a little family home scene, and I'm just a nut in the wrong place.
Meanwhile, Neal has completely disappeared.
This chair that you've been sitting in for days, have you noticed the bottom is falling out of it?
Jack, you need some sleep.
How long have you been sitting in that chair?
I've been, um, sitting here,
waiting for Billie to come home.
Well, my God, let's go outside, and sit by the water.
Only if we get another bottle.
Hmm. I have one right here.
So Philip and me, we made our city hike over to the bay, where there is sound that harkens slightly up to Sur that I had abandoned in betrayal.
Ah, Philip, I'm sorry I ruined our day by sleeping like this.
You needed to sleep. I told you.
How long was I sleeping?
Why should you be sorry?
I love you anyway.
Was I snoring?
You were snoring all day, and I've been sitting here all day.
What a beautiful day.
It's been a beautiful day.
I smoked a whole package of Edgewood.
It's been a very strange day.
Are you sad I didn't talk to you?
Not at all.
In fact, I'm glad.
JACK: Watching life.
Maybe we don't know all that we think we know.
Where's she going?
Does she has some secret sailor lover?
She only gonna finish her typing after hours in the office?
What if we knew, Philip, what every one of these people going by is headed for?
Some door, some restaurant, some secret romance?
You sound like you stored up a lot of energy and interest in life out there in the woods.
What did you do all day?
I was with Philip Whalen and slept by the water.
Here are your vegetables, honey.
Billie, what are we gonna do?
We'll get married and fly to Mexico with Elliott.
Billie, I don't want to get married, I'm afraid.
I want to go home and die with my cat.
what have I done wrong?
I'll tell you what you've done wrong.
You withhold your love...
from a woman like me.
And previous women... and future women like me.
can you imagine all the fun we'd have being married?
Going out to hear jazz?
Or even taking planes to Paris suddenly and all the things I have to teach you and you teach me?
I'm a creepy, strange guy you don't even know.
Creepy, strange guy... that I love.
We could go live in an old log cabin in the hills, never say anything for years.
Let's leave the city and take Elliott with us and go to Ferlinghetti's cabin in the woods for a week, for two weeks, forget everything.
Jack, I love you.
I'll call Lew Welch, and he'll drive us to Big Sur cabin.
We'll be alone in the woods at least.
I'm telling you that's what I want to do.
Hello, Lew? There you are.
Know what I'm calling you about?
Listen, pal, take that big brunette Lenora, that Romanian madwoman, and pack her in Willie and come down to Billie's here and pick us up.
We'll pack while you's en route.
Honey's on, and we'll all go spend two weeks of bliss in Ferlinghetti's cabin.
What's the purpose of all this?
Just to see you, and we can talk about purposes anywhere.
Oh, Lew, I--I wanted to stop by, uh, Neal's.
JACK: It always starts out good like that, the bad moments.
Nothing is gained or lost also by the fact that I insist we stop at Neal Cassady's en route so I can pick up some clothes I left there, but secretly I want Carolyn to finally come face-to-face with Billie.
He always wants to drive my car.
It's my Willie.
LENORA: I'll settle things with you.
Billie's out in the Jeep.
Of course it was you who was destined to bring her here.
What's Neal so worried about?
Oh, you're just spoiling all his chance to be real secretive.
He hasn't come and seen us for a whole week.
That's in a way what happened.
Just left me stranded there.
Well, why don't you bring her in?
Honey, you should probably get her a drink.
What can I get you to drink?
Eh, the usual.
I just love the color of these walls, Carolyn.
What do you call that color?
Carolyn, did you know that Billie has a lovely little boy called Elliott?
Asks a whole bunch of questions, really charming.
Neal never mentioned that.
Well, what a great idea this was.
Let's toast, um--
Let's toast Neal.
Across the meadow and back to the haunted cabin.
I begin to feel extremely low as soon as last night's alcohol wears off.
I can't chop wood for fear I'll cut a foot off.
I can't sleep. I can't sit. I can't pace.
I keep going to the creek to drink water till finally I'm going down there a thousand times, making Lew Welch wonder, as he's come back with more wine.
I'm hungry. Lew is hungry.
Are you starving?I'm through starving.
What shall we eat?
Tell you what, I got an idea.
I am now gonna go out surf casting for a grab bag of fish for a marvelous supper.
Lenora, you get a salad ready, whatever else we need, or you can--
Oh, no, no.
♪ Oh doh doh doh doh doh ♪ Mm-hmm.
We're gonna leave the two of you alone now, okay?
Why don't we go to Nepenthe and private our grief tonight?
And drink Manhattans?
Or go see Henry Miller?
I'm so exhausted, I can't do anything or see anybody.
Already feeling awful guilt about Henry Miller anyway.
We've made an appointment with him about a week ago, and instead of showing up at his friend's house in Santa Cruz at 7:00, we're all drunk at 10:00, calling long distance.
And poor Henry just said, "Well, I'm sorry
"I don't get to meet you, Jack, but I'm an old man, "and at 10:00, it's time for me to go to bed.
You'd never make it here till after midnight now."
His voice on the phone just like his records, nasal, Brooklyn, good-guy voice, and him disappointed in a way, because he's gone to the trouble of writing the preface to one of my books.
Though I suddenly now think in my remorseful paranoias, "Ah, the hell with it.
"He was only getting in the act, "like all these guys write prefaces So you don't even get to read the author first," as an example of how really psychotically suspicious and loco I was getting.
I'd begun to realize in my soberness that this thing had come too far, that I don't love Billie, that I'm leading her on, that I made a mistake dragging everyone here, that I simply want to go home now, that I'm just plumb sick and tired, just like Neal, I guess.
I suddenly wonder if she's going to horrify the heavens and me, too, with a sudden suicide walk into those awful undertows.
I see her sad blonde hair flying, the sad, thin figure alone by the sea, the leaf-hastening sea.
"You are my last chance," she said, but don't all women say that?
Can it be I'm withholding from her something sacred just like she says?
Or am I just a fool who will never learn to have a decent, eternally minded deep-down relation with a woman and keep throwing that away for a song and a bottle?
Ladies and gentlemen, what we are having is a sacrificial banquet with all kinds of goodies laid in a regal spread around one little delicious fish, so that we may pray to that fish and take tiny, little bites.
Now, there's only about four bites apiece, okay?
But there's all kinds of different parts of the fish where the bites are even more significant or substantial or beneficial.
But let me tell you, however, the real way to properly fry a fish...
Flipping the fish, now!
We're having fish, Jack.
Here you go, Jack.
You gotta eat, Jack.
I whispered love into every orifice of that bite.
Oh, Lew, that looks beautiful.
Let us pray.
This is the fish that we're now gonna partake of and feed us so that we shall be stronger.
Thank you, fish people.
Thank you, fish god. Thank you, moon, for giving us our light tonight.
This is the night of the full moon fish...
which we are now going to consecrate with our first delicate bite.
JACK: That fish has all the death of otters and mouses right in it.
And that first bite is for Jack.
It's just a tiny, little bite, Jack.
Just chew it very slowly.
You just chew it really slowly.
Is he chewing?Oh.
Yes, my drink.
I'll have that piece.Okay.
If I try to turn over, the whole universe turns over with me.
It's no better on the other side of the universe.
You got me all wrong.
I wouldn't be any good for you.
I know that now.
You're just tired of life, and you want to sleep, and in a way, that's what I want to do, too.
Only, I've got Elliott to worry about.
Could take both our lives and solve that.
You, creepy talk.
You told me the first night you loved me, that I was the most interesting, that you hadn't met anyone you liked so much, and then you just went on drinking.
I really can see now what they say about you is true.
You keep groaning about how sick you are, and you really don't think about others enough, and I know you can't help it, but you are really ratty sometimes.
But even that, I know you can't help.
Why can't you follow through with what your heart knows is good and best and true?
You give up so easy to discouragement.
And I guess, too, you don't really want me.
You want to go home and resume your own life with Louise.
No, I couldn't with her either.
I'm just bound up inside like constipation!
I can't move emotionally, like you'd say emotionally as though that were some big, grand, magic mystery!
Everybody's saying, "Oh, how wonderful life is!
How miraculous! God's made this, and God made that!"
How do you know he doesn't hate what he did?
He might even be drunk and not noticing what he went and done!
Though, of course, that's not true.
Maybe God is dead.
No. God can't be dead, because he's the unborn!
You have all these philosophies and sutras you keep talking about.
But don't you see?
They've all become empty words!
I realize I've been playing like a happy child all my life with words, words, words in a big, serious tragedy!
JACK: I've never screamed in my life.
It's the first time I'm not confident I can hold myself together, no matter what happens.
The devils come after me tonight.
The creek will give me water that will clear away everything.
Suddenly the water in the creek tastes different...
as though somebody's thrown gasoline or kerosene in it.
The unbearable anguish of insanity.
There's a tightening around the head that hurts.
There's a terror of the mind that hurts even more.
[HEART BEATING SLOWLY]
I feel evil forces gathering down all around me from her, the kid...
the very walls of the cabin...
and the trees.
Even the sudden thought of Lew Welch and Lenora is evil.
They're all coming now.
Love me... please.
Even--Even if we never see each other again, let this last night be beautiful.
JACK: I'm carking in my canyon.
Can you just do that for me...
Everything is death.
For the both of us?
They all look dead.
I'm with you, Jesus, for always, but there's a battle somewhere, and the devils keep coming back.
Why can't you?
I see the cross.
It stays a long time.
My whole body fades away to it.
I don't want to scare Billie or anybody with my death scream.
So I swallow the scream and just let myself go into death.
I can't possibly stay here another minute.
You gotta drive us all back to town.
Okay, but I sure wish we could stay another week like Lenora wants to do.
Well, you drive me and come back.
Heh. I don't know if Lawrence would like that.
We already dirtied up the place aplenty.
In fact, we gotta dig a garbage pit to get rid of all the junk.
I'll do it.
It's exactly the size fit for putting a little dead Elliott in it.
We've all read Freud sufficiently to understand something there.
Want to finish the job yourself?
What do you mean?
Well, I said I'd dig the garbage pit, and I've done that.
Aren't you supposed to do the rest?
I'll dump earth over it and tamp it down.
No, no, no, no!
What's the matter with this kid?
Is he a cretin?
Come on, Elliott.
you are so ... neurotic.
The hell with this madness.
Just a golden wash of goodness has spread over all and over all my body and mind.
All the dark torture is a memory.
I know now I can get out of there.
We'll drive back to the city.
I'll take Billie home. I'll say goodbye to her properly.
She won't commit no suicide or do anything wrong.
Billie will go on being golden one way or the other.
The little boy will grow up and be a great man.
Lenora's life will go on. Old Lew will manage somehow.
I'll forgive them and explain everything.
And Neal Cassady and Albert Saijo and ravened Michael McClure and perfect, starry Philip Whalen, they'll all pass through one way or the other.
I'll stay with Ferlinghetti at his home a few days, and he'll smile and show me how to be happy a while.
We'll drink dry wine instead of sweet and have quiet evenings in his home.
Ferlinghetti will say, "That's all there is to it.
"Take it easy. Everything's okay.
"Don't take things too serious.
"It's bad enough as it is without you going the deep end over imaginary conceptions, just like you always said yourself."
I'll get my ticket and say goodbye on a flower day and leave all San Francisco behind and go home across autumn America, and it'll all be like it was in the beginning, simple, golden eternity, blessing all.
Nothing ever happened, not even this.
There'll be farewells and smiles.
My mother will be waiting for me glad.
The corner of the yard where Tyke is buried will be a new and fragrant shrine, making my home more homelike somehow.
Something good will come out of all things yet, and it will be golden and eternal just like that.
There's no need to say another word.