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their friends in the media, and calls began coming in, asking for interviews with Emmett or inviting him to be a guest on radio and TV talk shows. One prime time television show was particularly persistent in their efforts to get Emmett to appear, phoning three and four times a day. He finally accepted their offer after he dreamed up a scheme for dealing with them.
The program was the Metromedia talk show moderated by Alan Burke, a backbiting, venom-tongued carper who was the New York version of L.A.'s TV personality and evil-speaking knocker, Joe Pyne. Both of these stupid sarcastic interviewers relied heavily on insulting their usually dumb or eccentric guests to amuse their studio audiences and to get home viewers to watch their programs. Emmett's plan was to dress Natural Suzanne up in his recognizable clothes and IRA cap and have her appear on the show as the mythical and legendary "Emma Grogan." The Hun was more than willing to accompany "Emma" on the program and act as a Digger spokesman, while Fyllis and Lacey Pines were to perform their walkon roles in the "guerrilla theater" piece, as members of the studio audience, using lime and cherry pies as their props.
The show was being taped, of course, but everyone had been assured that no matter what happened it would be televised, because the point of the whole program was to make people look ridiculous, even Alan Burke himself. The taping was to begin at 6 P.M. that Sunday evening, and an hour before, the three giggly, nervous women and the Hun, who was musing over the possibilities of his television appearance, entered the Channel 5 studio wi~:h a suitcase filled with melting custard pies and phoned Emmett, who remained back at the pad, to tell him everything was going as planned.
When it was showtime, Alan Burke smugly introduced "Emma Grogan" and "her shaggy Digger sidekick," the Hun, as his guests for the evening, not knowing that it was going to be the last time he would have the upper hand or, for that matter, any control for the rest of the program. The Hun immediately stole the show away from the not-too-bright Burke, after he made some rather stupid and derisive remarks regarding the questionability of "Emma's" sex. The interviewer was upset by the Hun's quick-witted comebacks and sharp counterattacks which ultimately destroyed him by capturing the attention and applause of the audience and even the admiration of the technical staff. The Hun was coming up seven and eleven every time, and Alan Burke finally tried making friends with him, which Fyllis and Lacey Pines took as a personal affront to their
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integrity. So one of them ran up and pelted him swoosh! in the face with a cherry pie, while the other bombarded the audience, flinging pies every which way from the stockpile in the now open valise.
The scene was chaotic with a fat lady running around screaming, "My dress! You've ruined my dress!" and Alan Burke slumped stunned in his chair trying hard not to choke s~n the cream filling his mouth--unable to talk or see because of it--and children picking up lumps of cream from the floor or the backs of the seats and eating it or throwing it around the room, and the Hun rising from his chair and masterfully commanding the cameramen to follow him as he walked toward the exit, delivering a monologue and directing the camera work: "I am in a box looking at you through a box. And you are in a box, watching me through a box. I am leaving my box and the things which make up my box. I've made my decision. What are you going to do about the box you are in?" And he walked toward the door marked Exit, directing the attention of the different cameras to the rafters of lights and to the various other things which were part of the studio,--and then centering them on a closeup of himself as he opened the door and walked out in silence, leaving the sound of chaos behind him and the camera focused on the slowly closing door. The picture on the home screens faded to a commercial station break.
Afterwards, the "motley group of Diggers" trouped over to a Broadway cafeteria to get something to eat, and Natural Suzanne phoned Emmett to give him a brief account of what happened, saving the blow-by-blow description for later. While he was waiting for them to return to the pad, Emmett got another call. This one was from John Gruen, a reporter at that time for the World Journal Tribune and a devotee of East Village bohemia, who wanted an interview. Emmett told him no, but made the mistake of not hanging up immediately, giving Gruen enough time to ask him what he was doing interfering in the affairs of the Lower East Side community when it was really none of his business.
Emmett fell into Gruen's trap by getting angry and asked him what the fuck he was talking about! The reporter shot back that there was all sorts of talk all over the East Village of how Emmett was butting his nose into things that didn't concern him and how he was causing trouble between the different neighborhood groups who got along fine by themselves until he showed up. Emmett caught on, but it was too late. He had already lost his temper. "Man, that sort of jive talk only comes from those East Village marketeer
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ing hip-huckster friends of yours and nobody else. Now don't bother me! I'm just a pimp for the kids!" And he slammed down the receiver, angry with John Gruen for baiting him, but more angry with himself for blowing his cool and giving the reporter words to spot quote.
The gang returned to Candy Sand's place full of descriptions of their "Alan Burke Special Performance" which they wouldn't view until it was televised the following weekend. Sure enough, early the next day the newsstands of the city carried the Worl d Journal Tribune with Gruen's article discrediting Emmett under the banner headline "Hero Hogan Grogan Stirs Up Lower East Side!" The story named all of the neighborhood groups with whom Emmett had been working and claimed that he was pitting them against each other without citing any reason why he would want to, except that he was a pimp for the kids!
He wondered for a moment where he came up with the certainly Freudian symbol of himself as a pimp, and furthermore why he ever slipped it to the reporter. But he'd been doing too much wondering lately, so he quit it and got angry instead. "Will you look at that! The East Village power punks are trying to impress me with their contacts! That guy turned everything neatly around and made it all come out backwards to make me look like some nitwit troublemaker! He's probably got half the Lower East Side believing it, too! The power of the press! A real slick trick! A real cutie! I wonder where he lives?"
By midafternoon the phone was steadily ringing with people calling to ask Emmett if he saw the "Hero Hogan Grogan" story, and reporters looking for follow-up stories of their own. Even the police captain of the neighborhood precinct, Captain Fink, called, asking whether Emmett would like to come into the station house to talk things over. Fink, like all the other callers, was told that no one at Candy's number knew of any "Emmett Grogan," and when he and the rest were asked where they got the unlisted phone number, there was a momentary silence, then the usual "I don' know. Somebody just gave it to me, I guess . . ." The New York Times was particularly pressing since they had been beaten to the story by a rival city newspaper, and Emmett finally agreed to meet with their only black staff reporter, Earl Caldwell. But he had no intention of revealing his true role in the neighborhood or retracting any of the twisted facts of Gruen's piece with statements of his own. No, he was
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simply going to let the matter die, helping it along a bit by boring it to an early death.
It was easy. A few days before, Emmett had smoked some DMT with the LSD Bear, and some other psychedelic luminaries who gathered for a party at a Tibetan-decorated pad on Mulberry Street. Among the small throng was Leary's sidekick, Richard Alpert, who gave Emmett his phone number and invited him to call whenever he felt the psychic need to do so. And that was now! He phoned Alpert and asked him to meet with him the following morning at the ~3rd Street office of Inner Space, a psychedelic periodical that wasn't destined to last very long.
He told Earl Caldwell to meet him at the same place, and the following morning he showed up with Alpert only a few minutes behind him. Emmett sat next to Alpert on a funky couch facing Caldwell, who was braced in a straight-backed chair with his pad and pencil all ready. He asked Emmett some sort of lead question about the Gruen article, but instead of answering, Emmett wound Alpert up by asking him to expound on the metaphysics of the psychedelic reality of the Lower East Side, and leaned back into the soft cushion of the sofa, watching as Caldwell began to stop jotting down notes and lifted his head, uncertain about what was going on. He eventually looked back to Emmett and was about to interrupt the good doctor's rambling, but Emmett gestured for him not to and to continue listening, nodding his head with a facial expression that suggested, "Dig Alpert, man! He knows what's happening! He'll tell you what you want to know! Pick up on his vibes, man!"
Earl Caldwell must've sat there for forty minutes trying to figure out why he was there on an assignment, while Richard Alpert went on and on about esoteric philosop~ies only he knew of, and Emmett sat silently in mock awe of the man whom he had introduced to the reporter as his guru. When Alpert stopped for a moment to ask the publisher of Inner Space magazine, who was religiously recording every hollow sound of his voice on a tape recorder, for some water, Caldwell saw his opportunity and took it, splitting from the office with the haste of a man fleeing a fire. Emmett laughed as he watched him run down the stairs like a thief and out of the building.
After Richard Alpert was given his glass of water, he continued his rap into the tape recorder, and Emmett returned to Candy's place where he laid out the scene for the Hun and the others.
Emmett had played it right, and nothing appeared in the Times,
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and the phone suddenly quieted down. By using Richard Alpert and his psychedelic logorrhea, he got himself dismissed as a cracked pothead, and nobody was writing stories about them this late in the game, giving Emmett the pass he wanted and needed to take care of his business.
But it already seemed too late. His name was the only name the straight press knew that was connected with the Diggers, and they were going to keep on using it whenever their stories referred to the "mystery-shrouded group," no matter how much he played the psychedelic buffoon. A flood of articles began to appear in the New York press about the San Francisco Diggers, using the Ram parts portrait of Emmett as their "well-known figure" profile and putting imaginary quotes in his mouth without even pretending to have met him.
It was really getting him down, "all this image bullshit!" and he decided it was mainly because he was separated from the reason-- the work in San Francisco--which made necessary the Salvation Army cover, and he became anxious to get back, to return to the unshakable reality of Free Food and, at the same time get away from all the image-persona hustle of New York where talk was substituted for action and people were measured by their list of credits.
By now he had given away all of the acid he brought with him from Frisco, and had gone to so many meetings on the Lower East Side where he saw the same faces, that he began to feel that meetings had replaced relationships and organizations had replaced the community. He no longer went to them, but rather casually toured the neighborhood visiting the friends he made in the few weeks he had been there.
It was during one of these late afternoon walks that Emmett was invited by a friend to accompany him to the Theater for Ideas, "for a look at the city's star intellectual radicals, as they sit in a salon, like a forum, and discuss the chosen topic, 'The Enemy Is the Liberal.' " Since he had nothing really better to do, Emmett went to the studio apartment that evening to gawk at the gathering of New York's chic circle of radical superstars. But it backfired on him because he became the star attraction and center of attention and got himself dumped on and hissed at by the glib, pompous audience.
There were about seventy-five persons sitting on rows of wooden, folding chairs facing a dais where a panel of Ramparts editors sat behind a cloth-covered table with a pitcher of water and glasses. One of them was old one-eye himself, Warren Hinckle III, and Emmett
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immediately got his fur up. He should have simply left, but he didn't. Instead he sat there and listened as the panel and the audience had a thoroughly good time patting themselves on the back for their unswerving radicalism, and at the same time condemning the "liberals" as the enemy because of their fearful acquiescence to the establishment political party system. He listened to that kind of selfcongratulatory rap for nearly three quarters of an hour before it and the stuffiness of the room and the people who were in it caused him to stand up and accuse the assembled themselves of being the "real enemy," while the liberal was just a patsy and anybody's pawn.
"You're the real enemy because you extend the present system of American society, deluding yourselves with words while paying tribute to the state with taxes, and making believe you're in solidarity with the blacks in Harlem and the peasants in Vietnam from the top-floor windows of your deluxe apartments and East Hampton estates! Who the fuck are you kidding? You're the real enemy! The liberal will always follow whoever's winning, because he usually knows no better or is too frightened! But you people know better, don't you! You know which side you're on in some cocktail conversation like this, sure you do! But when you're in your stockbroker's office, whose side are you on then, huh? Certainly not mine--not for all the crumbs you could ever feed me from your tables! To talk about the liberal as being the enemy is like kicking a dead dog! Talk about yourselves as being the enemy to all those people whose side you claim, you insist, is the same side you're on. Talk about it because you're not on the same side. Talk about it because you're the real enemy, and not the liberal ! "
The audience immediately burst out with someone shouting that "the Diggers were merely the Salvation Army in disguise!" and someone else charging that Emmett "was just creating rest camps for teenagers!" Warren Hinckle III jumped in and described Grogan as a "visionary who has the cunning of an Army Supply Sergeant in a B movie." It all added up to "what right does that scraggy hippie social worker have putting us down! Where does he get off, anyway, knocking radicals like us around!"
Then came the clincher that was supposed to prophesy Emmett's co-option by the society he claimed to have dropped out of. Paul Jacobs, who led those Berkeley "Community for New Politics" radicals in that demonstration months before to protest the HaightAshbury curfew during the "San Francisco Riot," started screaming from in back of the audience that "like it or not, Grogan, you and
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the Diggers are going to be exploited because of the fantastic capacity of this country to absorb new ideas and attitudes! Macy's will soon be selling Digger dresses and some company'll put out a candy bar named after you people before long, and they'll put up promotion posters proclaiming, "Eat a Digger!"
The audience laughed and applauded. Paul Goodman, the sixtyyear-old author and self-professed "community anarchist," tried to gavel the meeting back to order by declaring, "I'm a Roman senator, not a Digger!" And Emmett got up to leave with Natural Suzanne. There was just no use in wasting energy, and he walked out of the Theater for Ideas, remarking to the crowd that "There are eight million stories in this Naked City, and you people know every goddamn one of them!"
Two days or so later, an article about the meeting appeared in the Village Voice under the headline, "A View from the Left," and described him as a "tall, lean and scraggy twenty-three-year-old exBrooklynite," and went on to say that " 'The Diggers,' according to Grogan, collect free food from merchants or grow it themselves and dispense it free to whoever desires it. They also collect used clothes and give them away,' he said."
It was a good thing Emmett was at the airport when he read the news story, because as soon as he saw that "he said" crap about collecting free food from merchants, he wanted to go and commit some mayhem on the person who wrote the lie. " 'He said!' The guy who wrote this bunk has been reading too much of the Daily News!" And he tossed the paper with its "Eat a Digger!" quotes and radical-liberal gibberish into a waste can as his flight was called.
Before he finally left the city, however, he had done one very important thing which he felt he had to do if he really wanted his name to be erased from the files of the mass media. He gave it away. Gave away his name in the same manner he gave his identity to Natural Suzanne for her appearance on the Alan Burke show. He didn't change his name, he just gave it away to whoever wanted to use it, whenever, as had been advertised in Realist magazine by Paul Krassner: "The leader of the Diggers doesn't exist, and his name is Emmett Grogan, a hoax unwittingly played upon you by the underground press and the establishment press. Even Ramparts was tricked into using the photo of a member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Emmett Grogan is the generic term for an existential hero of our time." The name quickly found popular usage among the street kids who started a make-believe game called "Will the Real
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Emmett Grogan Please Stand Up!" It got to a point on the West Coast where no one would even believe Emmett was Emmett, until he got corroboration from someone he knew personally. He was even able to identify himself to reporters--especially in California--and not be believed. Even the San Francisco Chronicle ran a paragraph in one of its stories on the Haight-Ashbury that said, "Whenever a Digger identifies himself as 'Emmett Grogan,' it means nothing since all Diggers call themselves Emmett Grogan on the general principle that anything which confuses the straight world can't be all bad." It was a fantastic success.
However, when it was all over and his name seldom if ever appeared in the media and everything got private once again, Emmett felt a strange uneasiness about the thorough success of his feigned nonexistence, a feeling that maybe he'd been too successful in convincing the media he was only a myth and the name "Emmett Grogan" nothing but a hoax.
He didn't exactly understand why he felt this way. He just did, that was all. But after a while, he decided that it was probably because he was just disappointed in how easy it was to accomplish; bitter at how incredibly easy it had been to dupe the media, and resentful at how quickly they accepted the lie. Emmett finally concluded that he was basically upset about all of it because his ego was insulted. His two cents apparently meant very little to the world.
The Hun returned to San Francisco ten days before, having spent only a few days in New York and leaving right after his appearance on the Alan Burke show. Emmett didn't understand why he came East in the first place, but decided that the Hun had gotten himself a round-trip ticket somewhere and just felt like taking off for a while. The girls, on the other hand, had come to visit their folks. Fyllis' mother had been ailing and Lacey Pines hadn't seen her sisters for what seemed like a long time to a girl just turned eighteen. Natural Suzanne, of course, had wanted to be with Emmett, stopping to see her family on the way to New York. She had been Emmett's old lady now for nearly six months and had grown much older than her eighteen years. She was a tall, beautifully proud-featured girl with a deep-felt shyness which stemmed from a tragic accident that occurred when she was a child.
It happened on her ninth birthday toward the end of a party her family gave her. She was all dressed up in a colorful, chiflfon birthday dress and had pinned the tail on a donkey, had dunked for apples, and had popped some balloons, happily enjoying her party,
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when she brushed by the homemade birthday cake resting on a patio table, and one of the lighted candles fell against her dress, setting it aflame. Her mother turned when she heard Suzanne's screams, and seeing her child about to become immolated by her burning dress, ran for the garden hose, and dowsed the flames with sprays of cold water--the worst thing she could have done because as soon as the cold water came in contact with the child's scorched flesh, it instantly scarred her hips, thighs, and waist.
Because of this scarred portion of her otherwise beautiful body, Natural Suzanne developed a fear of ever being seen without clothing, which made certain activities like swimming and lovemaking impossible for her to enjoy. But when she met Emmett, he was fortunately able to get her to overcome that fear that kept her locked away from the joys of a full life. It was easy.
The first time he returned with her to his Fell Street pad to make love, she said "No," and he asked "Why?" and she replied that she'd been scarred by fire as a child and she was certain he wouldn't want to see the scars because they were ugly. Emmett didn't say anything. He just quietly undressed her in the pale light of a small, broken Tiffany lamp, and when he finished and was standing naked himself, he slowly examined the broad solid lines of Natural Suzanne's South Sea Island girl-like body with its small, round, firm breasts and perfectly shaped brown nipples, and he asked, "What scars?" Then they made sweet love, with him slipping in and out and all over her silky flesh--made satin-smooth by the surplus oils that were transferred to the rest of her body from the patches of slick, dead skin that had no use for nutrients. That night Natural Suzanne began to make up for what she might have missed, and, from then on, she's done whatever she pleased with her body, even gone swimming in a film star's Hollywood pool surrounded by starlets. Whenever anyone asks her how she came to get those scars, Natural Suzanne always answers, "What scars?" and goes on living her life the way people are supposed to.
Emmett arrived in San Francisco on the second Sunday of April with Natural Suzanne, and the two of them moved into a makeshift guest room in the rear of the Webster Street storefront leased by Butcher Brooks and his old lady, Flame. The next day the United States Supreme Court denied a thirty-seven-year-old black Californian's plea for commutation, and Ronald Reagan gave the nigger to his voters as a gift for their electing him governor of the state. Two days later, on April 12, 1967, Aaron C. Mitchell became the
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195th man to die in the gas chamber and the solst man to be executed in the recorded history of California, and, hopefully, the last.
The most important lesson Emmett learned from his trip east was that whatever happens to America doesn't necessarily have to happen first to New York, as that city's inhabitants like to believe. The obvious proof was the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury district's acknowledged position as the birthplace and growth center of the American youth counterculture and the expansion of human consciousness that was going to overwhelm the rest of the country with an astounding energy of awareness in the next few years.
But Emmett could see that Haight-Ashbury was already deep in the throes of a critical dilemma and was quickly approaching disaster with the hordes of arriving runaway youths overburdening the Digger operations which were struggling to meet the needs of these kids and the community.
Brooks, Slim Minnaux, Tumble and, of course, the women, had maintained the daily supply of Free Food for the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park where a growing number of newcomers were gathering to eat at four o'clock every afternoon. The Trip Without a Ticket Free Store was still being managed by the Hun and everything was under control, but the pickings were slim and getting slimmer. There were a whole new string of crash pads which were constantly being closed by the cops, but regularly reopened by young people who called themselves Diggers, whom Emmett had never met.
Emmett returned to his work with Free Food and trucking goods around to be given away at the free store. There hadn't been a party or any kind of free celebration in Haight-Ashbury since he left six weeks before, and he felt lil~e organizing some kind of an event that would put fun back into the streets. So he did. First he got a permit from the Park and Recreation Commissioner because he wanted it to be at night, and he knew that if he planned some sort of happening in the park to take place after dark without legal permission, the cops would vamp on the people who gathered and a lot of heads would be broken because of him. So he got the permit and began putting together the first and only free rock and roll party ever held in a San Francisco public park by the people at night.
The Diggers got together and worked hard, hustling money for the pair of eighteen-foot, flatbed trucks to be used back-to-back as the stage, and for two giant spotlights, like the ones used at movie
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premieres, to be played on the dew-laden leaves of the park's trees as a light show. The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, and Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company were invited to play, and they said they would. More different-colored lights were arranged to be strung throughout the area, and someone came forward with a half dozen strobe lights to be played on the people as they danced.
All through the organizing, Bill Graham, who let Emmett use a storefront warehouse below his Fillmore dancehall to stash materials and several boxes of fruit for the event, insisted that the nighttime rock and roll party, which was called the "Outlaw Mutation Boogie" among other things, was never going to come off the way it was planned, because he felt the people were incapable of achieving that kind of organization themselves, and he kept telling Emmett that, every time they met during those few days prior to the free dance-concert, adding that he was prepared to pay the Beatles any amount to book them for a free concert which he himself wanted to present in Golden Gate Park. Graham asked Emmett how he felt about the idea of him presenting the Beatles free, and Emmett replied that it would be terrific, but if he really wanted it to be free, totally free, he should leave out the "Bill Graham Presents" part and just let it happen without anyone knowing who was responsible.
Anyway, the Panhandle Park Dance was a phenomenal success, with the giant spotlights lighting up the trees and glistening the tiny dewdrops on the leaves into a sparkling rainbow of a light show, drawing thousands of people towards the strobe-lit area where they danced and hollered and laughed and had a good time. Soon after everything got started and was well under way, working smoothly, Bill Graham showed up with some of his Fillmore auditorium staff and gave out apples to the crowd and helped Emmett and the other Diggers inflate balloons which were being strung around the stage and told them that it was obvious now, and he could see, that he underestimated the people and their power to get it on without professional help and he was glad they were successful. Bill Graham's straight that way.
The park permit read that the gathering had to be dispersed by 11:30 P.M. or be subject to arrest by the police who had been assembling in force two blocks away since nine o'clock that evening, obviously hoping that the permit would be ignored so they could wade in with their nightsticks and incite a riot and fill their empty paddy wagons with bloodied longhairs. Emmett was fully aware of this, as
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were the rest of the Diggers, and at about twenty minutes after eleven he got up on the stage and stood to one side as the last of the three bands, the Grateful Dead, finished the sixth or seventh number of their set. When they had, he told Jerry Garcia that the next song had to be the last because they only had a few minutes to wind things up before the cops vamped and someone got hurt. Then he told the crowd who were really into partying by this time that the next number would be the last and the music started up before the shouts of disapproval from the audience could be heard.
After the band finished, Emmett stepped up to the microphone once more and told everyone to go home because it was all over now and "Good night!" And they did. The crowd moved quickly and quietly out of the Panhandle Park in all directions, and a police captain, standing next to a squad car that had pulled up to one side of the stage only moments before, stopped the Hun and Coyote and asked them the name of the guy who just spoke over the microphone, and they told him it was just somebody from the crowd, that's all. The captain didn't go for it and asked some more people because whoever the man was, the captain was later overheard telling his sergeant-chauffeur, he was too powerful to remain unknown to them. It doesn't take anyone special to incite a crowd he figured, but it certainly takes someone particular to tell twenty-five or thirty thousand enthusiastically partying people to go home--and be instantly obeyed. The name of the man who could do that they had to know, but no one they asked could tell them, and Emmett left as soon as Coyote and the Hun tipped him off about the inquiries.
It was shortly after that Friday night's Outlaw Mutation Boogie that Emmett began receiving gifts of weapons from his brothers, who felt that his life was now in danger. They sensed that he had exposed himself as a much too popular and powerful figure in the Haight when he stepped up to that microphone and that he was now someone recognized as a dangerous person, not only by the police and other government agencies, but also by the many underground-underworld cabals who didn't want their positions of control in the Haight community jostled or usurped by the likes of him or anyone else.
In fact, Emmett's comrades believed he was dangerous to someone right at that moment, and when you're dangerous enough to someone, they usually try to kill you. So one of his brothers gave him a British Webley revolver and two full boxes of .38 ammunition and a twenty-five-minute-rap which was apparently supposed to fill him
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with alarm because, "You made yourself a target the other night, Emmett. Put yourself right on the spot for anyone who feels threatened by you or who just doesn't like your looks to draw a bead on you, brother. Yep, you made yourself the number one target around here the other night when you got up on that stage and showed everyone just how much of a heavyweight you really are in the eyes of the people, and you better get used to the idea and get used to it fast, because from now on, you're it!" That was just the kind of comforting encouragement Emmett wanted to hear.
Someone else left a rusted World War II Italian Berretta wrapped in newspaper on the front seat of the Digger pickup, just after Emmett had jumped out of the truck for a moment to buy a can of Ballantine Ale at the Haight Street Liquor Store. When he returned and found the loosely packaged automatic pistol in the cab of the truck, he immediately pulled off the main thoroughfare and quickly parked alongside the curb of an inconspicuous, vacant side street where he read the hastily scribbled note that was stuck into the barrel of the Fun:
TO EMET GROGON
Theres been lots a storys going round about hpw your in danger Some evil persons dont like zvhat you do for us and they been spreading bad vibes on Haight Street about what is going to happen to you So we thought you can use this Its all we had and we know it don't look like much but we thought you can clean it up and its better than nothing if you dont have nothing else Anyway we want you to have it because it may help keep you safe and we wanted to show you that we are behind you 100% on account of we love you
From all of us who need you and hang out on Haight
Street and at the Do-nut shop
SIGNED — ANONYMOUS
The sincerity of the note and the trouble the person or persons had gone to in explaining their offering to him convinced Emmett that there was indeed some heavy shit going down on the scene concerning him, and the anonymous chicken-scratched missive and rusty-gun gift did more to put him on edge than anything. It made him feel that there was really something he didn't know about himself or someone or something which was already common knowledge on the street, Dut which for some fucking reason was unapparent to him!
Or was it just a fucking put-on, a prank someone played on him
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to make him paranoid? By the time he started up the truck and pulled down to the corner of Fell Street, Emmett didn't care about it anymore and dumped the paper-wrapped rusted automatic, which probably would never have worked anyway, down the sewer and tore the note up into fine, little squares, letting them flutter out his window like a handful of confetti. He geared the truck onto the entrance ramp and along the freeway to North Beach and Tumble's pad without the slightest intention of ever telling anyone about the anonymous package left on the front seat of the pickup or the note that accompanied it, offering a little help from some friends.
It was at Tumble's pad that afternoon that Emmett met Larry Little Bird, a Pueblo Indian who had been raised on the Santo Domingo Reservation near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Little Bird was twenty-five years old and thoroughly maintained his Indianness; a black-pearl-eyed man who was as graceful and strong as a birch tree dancing in the wind. He quietly studied Emmett over a can of malt liquor and within less than thirty minutes of their having been introduced, Larry Little Bird invited Emmett to return with him to New Mexico, because he had the look of a man who could learn what every man needs to learn about himself and what every Indian like Little Bird knows.
Strangely, and to some perhaps selfishly, Emmett didn't have one hesitating thought about leaving with Little Bird that evening for New Mexico, and it would be a month before he'd realize why he went to the wilderness without ever seriously considering his responsibility to his charge--the streets of Haight-Ashbury. The Communication Company issued a handbill the next morning, announcing that "Emmett Grogan has gone for a while," and everyone wondered why, with the promised cataclysmic "Summer of Love" drawing near. So did Emmett Grogan.
It was dawn when they drove up to the comfortable, wood-stove cabin set deep in the woodline on the outskirts of a village called El Rito in the northern part of the state. It was here that Natural Suzanne was to stay with Little Bird's tall, Kentucky-born woman, Cease, while Emmett went into the forests to be taught without words the lessons he had come there to learn.
He had absolutely no money, but Little Bird had a bit and staked Emmett to a short, eighty-pound-pull Bear bow, sleeved in camouflage cloth, and a dozen aluminum-shaft target-and-hunting arrows, as well as a .22 single-shot Magnum, which is treated like a boy's toy by the American Rifle Association, but in reality is a weapon that
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can bring down the largest game if the person squeezing the trigger is equal to his quarry. They also bought a pair of brown woolen secondhand trousers, a dark green wool shirt, and a pair of low-cut Converse sneakers, which are sturdier and do the same job as moccasins for a man who plans to walk softly in the woods. In fact, all the clothing was bought with the silence of the hunt in mind, and Little Bird painted the sneakers green and brown and spotted the same colors on the pants and shirt to make them blend even more with the background of the springtime forest, as their wool texture would soundlessly harmonize with the quiet of the brush.
Emmett seldom spoke with Little Bird. He simply followed him into the hills every morning after sunrise and coffee, and watched his every quick but careful movement, learning as much as his Indian brother wanted to teach him, until dusk fell and they returned from the woods to the cabin in El Rito where they ate dry bread, deer jerky, and a thick, bean-paste stew and smoked the only tobacco of the long day before undressing in separate rooms and Iying down on the matted floor with their women and talking softly with them, while making love for an hour or so until it was beautiful to stop and fall asleep to dream of what the next day might bring.
Emmett followed Little Bird's eyes during their first week together in the New Mexican hills bordering Colorado, and saw the many different creatures who lived there, who sensed their presence but were not alarmed because of their quiet way and the scent Little Bird spread on their camouflaged clothing--a scent that came from tiny sacs of liquid found above the hind hooves of deer. Little Bird had acquired and saved this liquid from the many deer he had slain over the years. It was Little Bird's knowledge of the ways of the wilderness and Emmett's careful attention to his teacher's planned style of movement that allowed them to approach and get within yards of the splendid animals of the land.
Emmett flashed on his past experience in the wilderness of the Italian Alps, but he felt more of a closeness here with the earth and the life which lived from it. He was especially awed by the delicate nearness he was permitted by the animals. The cottontails and jackrabbits, the skunks and raccoons, the feathered tribes of birds perched by their nests at the base of the hills by the cabin in El Rito. And higher up toward the range of mountaintops where the wilderness was truly unspoiled, it was the same. Snowshoe rabbits gave them a glance, porcupines eyed them from the underbrush;
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flocks of wild turkeys trooped by them, always being led by a tough old gobbler; a brown bear lumbered along after being assured he was in no danger; a herd of antelope enjoyed the vegetation along the edge of a woodline fencing in an open meadow and curiously gazed for a moment at the frozen-still duo; the proud, antlered bucks stood tall and strong, surrounded by their yearlings and the does whose bellies were just beginning to swell with their unborn fawns. Each one of those magnificent stags was strikingly individual and solely responsible for his small herd--and the sight of them charged Emmett with a deep feeling that one of them was to be the answer to the question that brought him to New Mexico.
At night after eating his food and salad of wild onions picked from the ground and before Iying down to talk with Natural Suzanne, Emmett would sometimes stand alone outside under the stars and listen to the howling of the coyotes and the whistling of the elks' mating calls and understand that whatever it was he was about to discover, it would be soon. This made him feel warm and open to the smells carried by the brisk, dark air, but nervous, that there was so much to manhood and being a man.
It was ten days after he arrived at El Rito that the meat was finished and more was needed for the women to make a new stew. Little Bird told Emmett over coffee that morning that today they would go for rabbit, and they went out of the cabin and walked into the hills with the morning sun warming their backs like always, but with a feeling inside them that was different from the other times they left together for the woods. Of course, they had always carried their weapons with them on their walks, but even though they sometimes had been only a few feet away from an animal, Little Bird had never used his bow or Emmett his rifle, because no meat had been needed for their table. However, now there was a need, and the rabbits they had only been watching they now were hunting.
Emmett had practiced a couple of hours every day at twilight with his bow, but it would take a while yet before he would be sure enough with it to make a clean kill. So he left it behind, carrying only his .22 Magnum rifle and some shells when he climbed into the hills with Little Bird, who cradled his Bear bow and ported a pouch of arrows slung across his back.
One thing Emmett quickly understood about the spirit of hunting: you only took what you went in after, and not just anything that you might happen across. Today they were hunting snowshoe
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rabbits, so Little Bird carried only blunt-tipped arrows to stun and Emmett steel-jacketed bullets to pierce, eliminating the possibility of mangling the meat of the animals with soft, hollow-point shells or thick, razor-edged arrows.
The sun was still low in its dawn, and the air was still chilly and wet with the last moments of night, when Emmett and Little Bird came upon the bunch of snowshoes, nibbling on the underside of a large berry bush right where they knew they would be at that early time of the day. As the rabbits continued eating their morning meal, Little Bird slipped next to a birch tree to break the outline of his figure, and Emmett followed his comrade's example, halving the shape of his image behind the thin, moist trunk of a young sapling, while slowly raising his rifle to his shoulder and bracing his left forearm against the rough bark to fasten his leverage and steady his aim. Little Bird had already eased an arrow from his pouch and stood poised with the shaft resting across his bow and the two fingers of his right hand pinching it in position with the still-relaxed string.
There were three rabbits, and the men were on both sides of them with Emmett closest to a pair and l,ittle Bird not more than ten yards from the pudgiest. Emmett had a bullet already in thc chamber, and a five-shot clip. He would hit the brace nearest him while Little Bird stunned the outsized one who was eating alone. Emmett kept both eyes open as he took bead on the tip of the nose of the snowshoe farthest from him, and watched Little Bird pull back his bowstring with one swift, silent motion. Emmett began to squeeze his trigger when he saw the blunt arrowhead nearing the shaft of his Indian brother's bow and returned his attention solely to his target.
The arrow and bullet shot through the air simultaneously with the crack report of the rifle overwhelming the clean sound of the snapped string--and the sweet whistle of the feathered arrow's flight was lost in the resounding echo of the gun blast. Emmett rapidly ejected the casing of the spent shell and bolted a fresh round into his chamber, and Little Bird unsheathed another arrow and quickly placed it flat across his bow, but Emmett's bullet tore into the bone above the third rabbit's twitching nose before Little Bird pulled taut his string. His unsheathed arrow did not go unused, however, because Little Bird's alert black eyes caught sight of another snowshoe leaping from beneath a bush some twenty yards away toward the protective cover of a large patch of underbrush. Emmett also saw the rabbit racin~ frantically, and he bolted another
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round into the chamber of his rifle, but waited, calmly leading the running snowshoe with the blackened sight of his barrel.
He could have dropped the rabbit four times while Little Bird was smoothly pulling back on his waxed string and bending his bow to its full arch, but he didn't, because no one had to tell him that the first shot belonged to his Indian friend and brother who spotted the animal begin his frightened dash, before Emmett. This time the sharp twang and the soft swoosh of the arrow's release and its swift flight and its thumping contact with the body of the rabbit was not drowned out by the unnatural sound of exploding gunpowder. Little Bird had stun-killed the animal with a direct blow above his tiny heart just as he was about to escape into a hole over thirty yards away.
Both men stood still for a moment, making sure that there was no more activity in the area before moving towards their catch. Emmett placed the safety on his rifle while Little Bird made sure both his hits were dead by breaking their necks. Emmett's pair, of course, had been killed instantly, and there was only a small inedible portion missing from the front of each of their heads where his bullets had ripped away some bone. If he had hit the rabbits anywhere else, there would have been very little left to eat. But he hadn't, and so now he had his first clean kills as a hunter.
They gathered the four rabbits together, and Little Bird made a slight incision in each of their stomachs to check their livers for spots which would mean they had some springtime or early-summer disease and could not be eaten. But there were no spots on any of them which was not unusual, because they were rather high up in the hills where the temperature seldom rose to the type of sultry heat which supposedly abets such disease in rabbits.
Emmett watched with a certain amount of amazement as Little Bird deftly moved his fingers around the insides of the rabbits, examining their innards and skillfully handling their entrails, searching for some trace of disorder. His amazement was caused by the obvious excitement that Little Bird was experiencing as he dealt with the warm bodies of the freshly killed animals. His eyes were wide and alive with a sort of spiritual enthusiasm, and in fact his whole body seemed involved in a climaxing orgasm that wasn't sexual, but rather religious. Sweat poured out of him and his muscles trembled and his mouth watered and his face jumped and twitched, while his whole body shook with the death experience. No
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words passed between them, but Emmett began to understand part of what he was there to learn by sensing the enormity of Little Bird's reaction to the kill. The words of an Indian hunting song which Little Bird had translated to him one evening started to beat their message into his brain: "I aim my golden bow; I pull on my golden string; I let fly my golden arrow; and it strikes the heart of the target, and I fall dead. For I am the target. And the target is me."
There were many more snowshoes, cottontails, and jackrabbits, and three wild turkeys taken during the next two weeks, and each time the animals were treated with the same respect that both men would have had for themselves had they been the targets of their own weapons. Also, during that time, Emmett became more and more one with the creatures he hunted and soon Little Bird could see that his pupil--who was only a bit more than two years his younger--was now ready to learn what he brought him there to teach.
One morning, the two men did not leave together for the usual walk in the northern hills. Emmett left alone, to hunt the three-yearold buck he chose to be his first deer when he saw him standing proud against the waters of a rain brook in the light of a falling sunset. He picked the buck from dozens he saw on his walks with Little Bird through the woods, because there was something about the stag that told Emmett it was him.
It was a three-hour walk to the place in the forest where Emmett knew the buck had eaten his dawn meal and bedded himself down on pine needles to sleep away the sunlight in the shade of the tall, thick cover of a thousand trees. When he reached the outside of the young buck's territory, Emmett knelt quietly against a birch and slowly checked every inch of the area with eyes that were now trained to see what they had been blind to a month before. He remained frozen, moving nothing but his eyes and, ever so carefully, his head, for a timeless hour, before relaxing the stiffness of his muscles against the soft, dew-moist earth.
Emmett could sense the presence of his buck nearby, and his eyes showed him at least a dozen places where he might be Iying, but gave no definite hint as to which of them was the actual resting place of his deer. Emmett had learned well not to be anxious, and so he waited motionlessly for some sign that would bring the stag to him. He was downwind, and it was a brisk one, rustling the leaves
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and covering any sound of his humanity or his rough asthmatic breathing.
He would do absolutely nothing to startle the buck to his feet and spook him out of whichever shadow he was lying in. He didn't want it to be that way. He wanted to hit the animal as he calmly rose from his sleep, so that the kill would be the cleanest of kills, and the deer would not even have to suffer a moment's shock of apprehension. Emmett loved this stag he had come to hunt. He had seen him three or four times, and the buck was always alone by the watering hole or pulling buds from the oak brush. That may have been the main reason Emmett chose to hunt him as his first deer: he always saw him alone. This was curious because he was obviously a young, strong buck who should have been followed by at least a brace of does and a yearling or two.
But Little Bird had pointed out that it wasn't that odd, because his mates might have recently been hunted by the handful of Indian men who ventured this far north "out of the white man's hunting season," or else they might have fallen prey to the many predatory cats who roamed this particular area. Either of Little Bird's observations could be true, and Emmett wondered whether animals like his young buck felt loneliness in some way at all. He didn't feel silly in supposing that they did sense something similar to man in their instinct toward life, and he looked up at the clouds and watched them roll and lumber around the blue sky for what seemed like hours until a formation appeared in the mass of white billow and separated itself from the rest of the cumulus puffs to stand alone and apart--a cloud shaped like his antlered stag deer.
Emmett was stunned when he lowered his eyes and saw rising up in front of him, not more than a few yards to his left, the buck he had come to hunt. He blinked his eyes to clear them of the sky and swung his rifle slowly around the trunk of the tree, until the barrel was aimed at that sharp, smooth surface of hide-covered bone alongside the buck's right ear which showed no sign of alarm or fear. He was magnificent, with a strong, handsome face and taut-muscles beautifully framed in a hard body. His legs were long and he casually shook the stiffness of sleep out of them and muffle-pounded his razor-edged hooves on the ground, snorting himself awake.
As Emmett began to squeeze off the round with both his eyes open, the refrain of the Santo Domingo Pueblo hunting song played on the rhythms of his mind and the beat of his heart. The .22
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Magnum explosion momentarily blurred the vision of himself falling gracefully, but hard, dead to the ground, the target of the bullet he had just fired. For he was the target, and the target was him.
Emmett fought to keep from trembling at the sight which now lay only a few feet away on the ground, twitching the last nerves of life from his body. He looked at the buck and saw himself, and watched as the animal's spirit left the creature still, and saw how it would be when the time came for him, and he waited silently and allowed the splendid buck to unsufferingly die in peace and in private.
The hollow-point bullet exploded inside the creature's brain and killed him instantly, but that instant was eternal for Emmett. He moved slowly toward the downed buck, after he was satisfied that the magic of his death had ended. Now kneeling beside him, Emmett sensed an overwhelming oneness with the deer.
He slit the animal's belly neatly open and gutted him like a young surgeon performing an abdominal operation on a live body for the first time. Then he tied first the front and then the hind legs of the deer together as he'd been told to do by Little Bird, using some stringy, cordlike sinew he removed from the stomach along with the rest of the entrails. He paused for a moment to look again at the strong beauty of the buck and to let the poetic harmony of the song he learned from his Pueblo Indian brother beat throughout his being.
The past month he spent stalking in the woods and climbing in the mountain forests had strengthened his body to a point where he could feel the difference in himself. By using all of this built-up strength and by exerting all of his pent-up energy, Emmett was able to hoist the slain stag onto his shoulders. He stood calmly for a moment afterwards to adjust the weight on his back and to achieve a snug one-to-one balance with the two-hundred-pound animal he now had to carry all the way back down to the cabin in El Rito. When he was satisfied with the way the deer sat on his shoulders, he picked up his .22 and slid it through both the pairs of corded legs, resting his forearms over the butt and barrel ends of the rifle to apply just enough easy pressure on the coupled legs which were folded over his round, bony shoulders and down against the upper part of his heaving chest. With his arms hanging loosely in this position, Emmett felt he would be able to keep the animal braced easily in place and maintain the even distribution of its weight across his back.
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He flexed and rolled his shoulders one final time to see if the deer would shift on him, and when it didn't, he began the way back to El Rito, sure that his burden would stand the test by staying put for the entire walk down through the quiet, wooded foothills of the Carson National Forest and Tierra Amarilla.
Once he found the proper and comfortable rhythm for his stride, Emmett settled into the march and walked with the silent and stern, but graceful, determination of a man in a footrace with darkness and fatigue. He instinctively knew that if he began to take rest stops along the way, his body would tempt him to lengthen each respite until he gave up the agony of his effort. So he didn't stop at all during the next three hours, refusing to acknowledge the ache, while stepping quickly and carefully along the damp ground, cautiously choosing every spot before planting his feet with a firmness that might have been mistaken for anger by someone who was unaware of the enormous energy which Emmett Grogan had discovered within himself that seemingly timeless afternoon. A vital, spiritual energy which surged through his body, filling him with an invisible physical strength from the moment he aimed his rifle at the wilderness within himself and fired on the target of his own animality.
It was dusk when Emmett stepped out of the woodline and made it across a dusty, dry, fiat field and the rest of the way to the cabin on the outskirts of El Rito. Little Bird stood in the shadow of the back wall and came forward to greet his friend, student, and brother with a strong, silent, calm look of love, and helped him remove the deer from his back which was now screaming with a pain that was only overcome by the ecstasy of Emmett's triumph over himself.
They laid the magnificent buck softly down on a large piece of canvas tarpaulin which Little Bird had spread on the earth at the rear of the house a good hour before Emmett emerged from the forests. Then Emmett stood straight and watched from above as Little Bird checked the inside of the belly of the slain stag for anything that might have been missed and which, if left in the deer much longer, might have spoiled the obvious quality of the meat. But there was nothing, and Little Bird was privately proud that his white brother had cleaned out the innards so well, and he quickly completed his examination of the rest of the animal, pleased with the single, small round hole on the side of the noble head where the .22 bullet had struck and which he knew had felled the deer instantly and painlessly.
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After Little Bird satisfied himself about the cleanness of the kill, he rose and stood alongside Emmett and silently regarded the magnificence of the buck with the man he now knew he had taught well. They remained standing there together for a solid five minutes before Little Bird spoke the word Emmett badly wanted to hear. "Good," was all he said.
Cease and Natural Suzanne appeared out of the rear door of the cabin with a piece of fry bread and a single bowl of stew, which they laid down on the canvas next to the buck's proud, antlered head. He would eat the same food they were going to eat that evening so his spirit would not go hungry on its voyage to the ethereal hunting ground in which the Indians believe. The women also stood with their men for a few moments, silently regarding Emmett's splendid buck in the last minutes of twilight before darkness. They, too, were proud of Emmett for he was now a hunter--which was what his being there was all about.
As soon as they finished their supper and Emmett briefly relieved his body's exhaustion with two soothing hand-rolled cigarettes, he and Little Bird went back outside where they carefully skinned the buck and sectioned up his meat to be cooked later as steaks, or thinned and hung to dry as jerky, or used in stew. It was exacting work and it was nearly midnight before Little Bird salted down and buried the skin in the earth, and Emmett scooped out and jarred what was left of the buck's brains for use in the future tanning of the skin.
When they were finished cleaning down the animal and had sliced most of the meat up for jerky, Natural Suzanne and Cease quick-fried several small but delicately delicious steaks taken from the backbone of the deer, and they ate what Emmett considered the finest meat he had ever tasted. Afterwards, each couple went to their section of the cabin's divided main room where they lay down together. Emmett was too completely exhausted to talk with his woman, but she understood and kissed him with her juice-filled mouth, softly raising his cock hard with her lips and her tongue, easing forth an ejaculation that burst full-loaded wet against the inside of her cheeks, splashing like a hot wave down her slender throat and sedating Emmett into the slumber of a long, deep sleep.
He didn't wake up until the uncommonly late hour of nine o'clock the next morning. He felt a strange urge swelling up inside of him, even before he came fully awake and opened his eyes. Little
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Bird's younger brother had driven to El Rito earlier that morning to visit, and the two of them were out on the huge prairie field, picking wild onions, potatoes and other green vegetables to be used in the stew, and Cease and Natural Suzanne were already boiling down the deer's bones for stock over the wood-burning stove in the kitchen.
Emmett pulled on his dungarees and went out back to take a good, healthy shit in the outhouse and get some well water to wash himself awake. As he splashed the water on his face and scrubbed the sleep from his eyes, the sensation got stronger and stronger, pulling him away from the dry New Mexican earth where he was standing and setting him down on the concrete sidewalks of San Francisco. It was a powerful feeling rather than a stubborn thought, which was priming his instincts and telling him to move on, to leave the country for the city, to get back to the place he came from. The towel flapped against his face, as the energies he acquired the day before joined with his old primal instinct to overwhelm him with a force that made his whole body tremor and understand that it was time to go. To go to the place and the people that were flashing in visions behind the lids of his closed eyes. The place and the people he left to come to the mountain by himself. The mountain where Little Bird showed him all there was to see and where Emmett Grogan, for one split second of eternity, became a magnificent, buck deer.
He spent all the time he needed to spend on the mountain and had learned what he needed to learn. Now it was time to return to the valley where the earth was covered with cement and where the people lived their lives hoping for a moment's relief, and show his brothers and sisters what he saw, simply by returning.
The women were still busy in the kitchen, and Natural Suzanne poured Emmett a large tin cup of strong, black coffee sliced with chicory when she saw him coming. But Emmett didn't stop to drink it after he entered the back door. In fact, he wasn't conscious even of having crossed through the kitchen on his way to the section of the cabin's main room where his belongings were neatly stacked. There was nothing in his thoughts but the knowledge that it was time.
He moved like a man possessed but unfrantic, and within a few minutes he had packed his few things into a knapsack, sleeved his bow in its case, bound his arrows together and strapped them onto the side of the pack. He decided to leave the .~22 in the corner of the room where it was leaning against the wall next to a couple of boxes
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of shells, a pair of shotguns and two Colt .45s. He stood up straight and quietly for a second, swinging the backpack over his right shoulder and loosely clutching his bow in the fingers of his left hand. When he was satisfied that he had made no mistakes in picking and choosing what to leave behind and what to take with him, he looked slowly around the room for what he knew would be the last time, and nodded his head at a robin that was winking at him through the only window.
Emmett walked out the front door of the cabin and down the dusty dirt road to El Rito where he would begin his long hitchhike back to the city of Saint Francis. He never said a word to Natural Suzanne or to Cease, nor did he search out Little Bird to say goodbye. He didn't have to.
It took him four days and all of the eighty-five cents he had in his pocket to get back to Frisco with only the heavy deer scent on the Black Bear, Rain-tite jacket Little Bird had given him to protect his senses from the immediate, hard, cold, unnatural assault of the city and its streets. Emmett kept one of the lapels tucked near his nose, using the perfume of the wilderness to defend himself against the industrial smell of progress and modern civilization. At first he felt weird in the midst of the rush-hour city, like he felt those few times he was released from the slow pace of the jails and prisons where he had been forced to sit out too much of his life. It was almost the same way now, returning from the mild, casual environ of the forests to the rapid, nonsensical, heated game of the city.
Instead of hitching rides, he walked through the downtown area and across to the Fillmore district where he knew Coyote would be in the large bottom floor of a house in which he was living with his woman, Sam, and a number of other people. Emmett walked because he wasn't tired and because he wanted to let the feel of the city work him over and massage him back into the shape he would need if he was going to pick up where he left off.
It was the first week of May, and while Emmett was walking toward his brother's pad with a bow in his hand and arrows on his back, Bobby Seale, twenty of his brothers, and six of his sisters, were walking around the Capitol in Sacramento with guns pointed straight up in the air or straight down to the ground, propagandizing to the urban blacks and to all the low-money people who live in the cities of America that the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives them the right to bear arms for their own self-defense--a right Ronald Reagan and his state legislature
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were, at that moment, attempting to infringe by passing a bill called the Mulford Act which was aimed at keeping the lower classes disarmed and powerless, while at the same time increasing both the firepower and the repressive investigative powers of the police agencies throughout California.
The Mulford Act meant a lot at the time because, as the Panther Party mandate stated that day in the Capitol at Sacramento, the bill pending before the legislature ". . . brings the hour of doom one step nearer. A people who have suffered so much for so long at the hands of a racist society, must draw the line somewhere . . . to halt the progression of a trend that leads inevitably to their total destruction." It doesn't really matter what eventually happened to that act any longer, whether it's still pending, was shelved or passed. It's just another fucking bill to pay, and that's the way it's always been, until it isn't anymore.
Emmett walked heavy through the city, smelling himself as much as possible to prolong his taste of the mountain. Coyote was glad to see his brother looking so raw-meat wild, and his old lady, Sam, gave Emmett a plate of food, a beer, and made ready a place for him to crash the weariness of the four-day journey out of his system with a good sound sleep, alone.
No one in the house asked him any questions he might not want to answer, and he told them little because his had been a private voyage, and he came back smelling good and that was enough.
Coyote and Communication Company Claude told him all the news he needed to know and within two days he was back v~Tith Tumble and Brooks and the women and Slim, delivering food and stealing meat and whatever else wasn't nailed down. Billy Landout even returned from wherever he had been, settling on the outskirts of San Francisco in Daly City with a family he formed along his way and getting back into Free Food again with the others.
Thirty days of solid, hard, relentless work came and went for Emmett like a flash. The food was now rolling once more after it lagged for a while, and there were thousands of kids coming into town from all over with flowers in their eyes and bellies to be filled with hot Digger stew and Super-Spade grass. It was getting very crowded around the Haight and the glint-glimmer of the summer of love fast faded for those who came, wanting what was never there.
Besides the physical labor of trucking around free food for the people and all sorts of free goods for the Trip Without a Ticket free store and checking every once in a while on the rapidly opening and
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closing Haight-Ashbury crash pads, and taking doctors around on their evening runs and transporting loads of piled-up garbage to the dump and getting busted on charges that were always dismissed, and trying to see and oversee that every one of his brothers and sisters had what they needed for doing what was necessary. Besides being overactively involved in all of that and more, Emmett also began to write about things which he understood and which concerned the people toward whom he felt a responsibility. The Communication Company would print his writings as single papers and distribute them throughout the city, and instead of signing his name at the end of each piece, Emmett drew [symbol] which is the universal signature of primitive man.
The first paper he wrote was:
THERE lS A GREAT DEAL TO BE SILENT ABOUT
Contemporary history is a money conspiracy--the key to the atom. The facade of present seeming normalcy shows signs of weathering. Each day the cement crumbles a little more and the consequence is an increasing self-division. Portents of chaos everywhere as we grow aware of our own nakedness and impotence. Time is shrinking into itself; only the present seems to hold possibility. We are no longer the heroes of history.
Long-term goals and institutions have lost their relevance. Work is time spent in thrall. Now is an accumulation of ends with all goals immediate. Children are tearing away the false front of dignity and status. They are entering existence knowing that today is the first day in the rest of their lives. They want an authentic identity. A new barbarian race flashing on pagan energy, searching for rituals and tribal touch. As they fly from banality and approach the essence of horror.
New determination to pursue experience to its farthest limits. Mad exuberance and hunger for sensation are a constant goad. A demonic circle. A response to existence in last century, at the bottom of personality looking up. Efforts not wasted in games which kill time, deaden awareness and brutalize feeling. Masks thrown off and one enters the inescapable truth and squalor of own being. Beyond the reach of compulsion. Beyorld the possibility of defeat. Ideology of failure.
Flow with real tides of existence which reach into an underground beyond guise, hate, or love. All contacts immediate and intense. All real things are to be faced in all moments of agony and joy. Everything else is a deception. Politics is an arena where words are juggled in a gigantic hoax. Sharpen senses to continue and improve dialogue with existence. Meaning only found beyond experience. Basic impulse always religious, a cold light on our own incompleteness. Like a debauched child's face.
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Another news sheet of Emmett's had to do with another Human Be-In that was proposed by the editors of the San Francisco Oracle, the HIP merchants' association, and the Leary-like community shamans dressed all in white. These brilliant wizards wanted to gather 500,000 people on a reservation near Gallup, New Mexico, to celebrate the summer solstice of June 21, 1967. They had already gone to speak with the Hopi Indians who lived there about it, but were given no answers to questions they had just begun to ask, when the reservation's Indian sheriff and his deputies threw them off the land because of their total disrespect and utter arrogance toward the elders of the tribe. For a group of some thirty-year-old hippies who purported to have an enormous regard for the Indians, they did all they consciously could to insult and disturb them.
Fancy, spangled-dressed HIP merchants committed sacrilege after sacrilege by entering the sanctity of hogans and coming back out with the secret, traditional masks of dancers they ripped off the walls and exposed to crowds of uninitiated children who gathered outside the doors of the huts and tepees, startled by what the hippies with their "Santa Claus" beards were doing in the face of thousands of years of spiritual tradition. Longhaired couples flung off their clothes and quick-fucked and gangbanged one another on ground the Indians considered holy, as an expression of the freedom they found by dropping out and as a symbol of their unfailing love for and solidarity with the Indian and his culture. But the Indians didn't see it quite that way. In fact, most of them got plenty goddamn mad at all the hippie men and women running around naked and copulating in the dirt in front of the Indian men, women and children. Some of the stray white women even tried to seduce a few of the young Indian bucks which brought a swift reaction from their wives and wives-to-be.
On top of all of this banality, marijuana and LSD were given to the children. This was the final outrage to the Hopi who had not even invited these "Indian lovers" to be their guests. So they kicked them off their land and told them never to return, no matter how much money the E~aight merchants insisted the Indians could rake in behind a Human Be-In. It was shortly after the hippies had driven away in their VW buses that the elders of the tribe discovered that several masks and other spiritual ornaments and accessories were missing--stolen by children born of the same race of people who once before robbed the Indian of everything and left him with nothing.
[end page 381]
Emmett's piece about the self-appointed, Haight-Ashbury community leaders' meeting with the Hopi Indians was much different from the account that had been reported to the people of San Francisco by the hippies who were there, and it went on to point out the mercenary absurdity of having a "Be-In" at Gallup, New Mexico, in the first place--because of things like the 120 degree heat, the lack of food or water, the antipathy of the Indians and all residents of the area who would surely, with the cops on their side, violently resist an invasion of hippies.
This tight, two-page report regarding the proposed event was picked up and spread around the underground press and turned out to be enough to cancel all the shopkeepers' plans for a Grand Canyon blast. The marketeers' dream of another West Coast Human BeIn got what it deserved.
The [symbol] series of papers were becoming well-known editorials among the underground, and speculation was high as to who was writing them, with Emmett taking every precaution against his being discoverecl as their author. He wrote several more of these articles on the attitude New Mexico and its people had towards the longhairs, informing persons who were thinking of migrating to that state about an entrenched animosity the Indians had for almost everyone and the Chicanos had for the Anglos, especially the hippie Anglos.
There has always been a smoldering resentment on the part of the Chicanos against Anglos, because the cities they once dominated in New Mexico, like Albuquerque, were taken from them by Anglo immigrants who had been moving there since 1940 to work for the federal government. It was the atom bomb and these federal payrolls that made Albuquerque a more or less major city, a center for atomic weaponry, increasing its population by almost 800 percent in three decades, from 40,000 to 320,000, and thereby drastically changing the culture of the whole state from Spanish to Anglo.
This tension between the Chicanos and the Anglos skyrocketed with the arrival of the longhairs, who began traveling to the state for its high altitude and desertlike climate, which made it something of a health resort for them. The gap between these money-fromhome-counter-all-cultures Anglo immigrants and most of the state's poverty-stricken, unemployed Mexican-Americans was immediate and deep. The longhairs treated the land as a giant playpen, run
[end page 382]
ning around drugged and naked in a false spirit of liberation andgoofing on the dirt-eating-poor Chicanos whom they considered "unhip." These same impoverished Chicanos--their live-down-theroad neighbors--who tried to scratch a living out of the earth, the earth that mocked their labor in the same way that the frivolous, wasteful behavior of the Anglo hipsters mocked their back-breaking lives, watched what they considered the hippies' debauchery and grew very angry.
This anger continued to smolder within, until it was given a chance for release by the fundamentalist Protestant preacher Reies Tijerina, who came from Texas to lead the first Brown Power uprising of the desperately poor in northern New Mexico during that summer of '67. This seizure of a whole county of land from the Anglos by Tijerina and his Alianza brothers and sisters gave the state's Chicano population a new pride in themselves as a people, and with that pride came a strong desire to strike out at these "young, white, longhaired punks" who taught the Chicano children to disrespect their parents and betray their Mexican-American traditions with talk of rock and roll music and free love.
The many tension-filled spots throughout the state suddenly exploded in a series of violent incidents in which the solitary were murdered and the together were raped and beaten. The situation continued and grew into an open war with the governor of the state publicly saying, "Yes!" to the Chicanos, giving them the Go sign to attack the longhairs for their arrogant life-style which was "bound to make anarchists of their Chicano young anyway." It went on like that until the longhairs armed and began defending themselves, and the war against the "outsiders" reached the stalemate it remains at this day. Only one or two incidents occur each year that ever make the front pages of the big city Albuquerque newspapers, which only thirty years ago were printed in Spanish.
Emmett wrote strongly in these articles about the then-developing situation in New Mexico, and through them tried to temper the arrogance of a group of transient white children who thought flowers were lovely and poverty still an adventure. He never knew if any of the things he wrote had any effect on the migration of longhairs to the Southwest, but he did discover that the Chicanos who lived in the Mission district of San Francisco responded favorably to his reports, and it was eventually through those very sanle few words he wrote on white pieces of paper that he met and joined some of the
[end page 383]
emerging young radical street leaders in their fight against the poverty and hard-drug epidemic in that Spanish community of the city.
Every night Emmett would try to piece together some message to himself and anyone who cared to read and understand. He attacked the lackadaisical hedonism of the Haight by shouting over and over that ". . . the point of life is not rest, but action. Death is rest! And everyone will have enough rest for eternity. Now is the time for action, because the world must be seen clearly . . . Western society has destroyed itself. The culture is extinct. Politics are as dead as the culture they supported. Ours is the first skirmish of an enormous struggle, infinite in its implications." And on and on, every chance he got, Emmett tried to smack awake those people who he felt were being duped to death by themselves and others.
Who the fuck are you, anyway! Sitting there in lotus and desperately suffering Anglo Entertainment Syndrome. Hungry for rituals and tribal touch. Lack of elders to initiate you into the magic of yourselves. You are starving! Most of you would be soldiers if not acid. Dig the lack of sensitivity to the Indian thing, obvious on its face; murder all over again. First: the physically meat bodies of Indians gunned down all over the place. Second: the treatment of Indians as property by the Haight Independent Proprietors' attempted wipe-out of the Indian soul simply by camping on it. You're all romantically Indian struck! Witness the horror of HIP Oracle newspaper staff sitting on Third Mesa in Hopiland, chanting Anglo, Super-Culture Prostitution of Hari Krishna to uninitiated children. Nervous status maneuvers! The timeworn, white-man arrogance of a million questions with backup answers. The Indian message to mankind is simply, "Go with silence and closed eyes." Stop looking into another man's world! Turn onto yourself! Don't consume someone else! Eat yourself and kiss the now with full-blown lips! Courage is implicit!
One day Emmett found a hand-lettered poem taped onto the steering wheel of the pickup truck. He had just stepped out for a moment to buy a can of Ballantine Ale:
IF I AM DOING IT
AT ALL, IT'S FOR
LOVE NOT FOR OIL.
I LOVE CRUSADERS
WHOES GOT THE GRAIL?!
IF IT'S FULL OF OIL
[end page 384]
THERE S A BETTER ONE MADE.
IT'S NEW AND IT'S
THEOREY, BUT MAYBE
WE CAN GIVE IT AWAY
SO THAT THIS TIME
THE SECRET IS A
It was signed with the same ancient swastika marking with which Emmett had been ending all of his Communication-Company-published material, and he folded it up and put it in his pocket, understanding that he was never going to be able to use that mark as a pseudonym again, because he just wanted to sneak all the way, and that's all there was to it!
June came up fast, and, a few weeks before the country's schools were scheduled to close and release their students to take part in the invasion of the Haight-Ashburys of America in search of a highly prepublicized "Summer of Love," the Diggers were invited by members of the East Coast national leadership of the Students for a Democratic Society to attend one of their annual weekend meetings in a woodsy campgTound in Michigan. Coyote was back acting with the San Francisco Mime Troupe in their free outdoor commedia dell'arte productions in the parks around the city and wasn't interested in the invitation. But the Hun had resigned his position with the company long ago and thought it would be a good idea to catch a breather from the free store guerrilla theater before the hordes of flower children descended on the Haight. The formal invitation was mailed to the Diggers at the Trip Without a Ticket on Cole Street, and the Hun, therefore, was given first notice of the conference.
Emmett and Billy Landout found out about it a couple of days later when Coyote mentioned that he wouldn't be going. Soon afterwards, the Hun had a meet at his house with Emmett, Billy and Tumble, and the four of them decided they'd go to the conference for the specific purpose of disrupting it--calling the white radicals' bluff which hadn't been done since the days of civil rights when the integration ne plus ultra of all integration promised to the black people had turned out to be their integration into one of the most absurd systems of isms in the modern world of commodities, universally based and dependent on class conflict for its survival.
Anyway, the four men felt that a five- or six-day drive to and from the heartland of America would be a refreshing break from the
[end page 385]
heavy routine of their daily Digger activities. Also, the "Digger phenomena," as it was called in the media, had begun to sprout up in other areas of North America in all sorts of shades, shapes and sizes. Emmett thought it was about time something was revealed to separate the heavyweight life-style of the San Francisco Digger family from the lightweight dilettantism of the credit-card-carryingChristian-do-gooders in Los Angeles, the do-nothing, ideologically rhetorical "digger Provos" in Berkeley, the hip-social workers of Toronto--and above all the New York diggers, who were publicly led around by Abbot Hoffman and his publicity-seeking cronies.
Emmett didn't like all of that nonsense very much and neither did the rest of the San Francisco Digger people, who felt put down by all the vaudeville clowning that was being carried on in their name, while they themselves actually were overburdened with real, unfunny slave labor, trying to begin the construction of a world where you didn't haz~e to laugh anymore! So that Thursday morning the four of them climbed into the Hertz car rented with a finderskeepers-losers-weepers credit card and began their long drive to Michigan with intent, as well as with jugs of whiskey and wine, cans of beer, and plenty of amphetamines to get them there nonstop the next afternoon.
It was one hell of a run with the four men taking turns behind the wheel to maintain an average speed in excess of ninety miles an hour, and the tires blowing out one, two, three, four, five, six times on the salt-hot, flat stretches of highway from Nevada to Nebraska --where in the town of North Platte the local, fat-bellied sheriff pointed out Buffalo Bill's house as he escorted them out of his limits with a "Be on yer way an' don't you never think 'bout comin' back this town again, specially after the sun go down. You understan' my meanin' or do I have to spell it out more plain for you freaky fellas, huh?" And on into Kalamazoo, Michigan, the next day at about five in the evening where a giant, lime-colored, neon sign was screaming Insulin! Insulin! Insulin! in the front window of a country drugstore, flooding the dim dusk of the main street with its loud green message and advising them to pull over 'cause it was time to sponge up the two days' booze with a hot supper before continuing on to Denton and the conference.
They pulled into a space along the empty curb in front of a barrestaurant-grill that looked small-time hokey-light from the outside, but was huge, bigtime, country-heavy on the inside, which they discovered on entering the place and walking right smack into the
[end page 386]
jowls of a giant, loose, Friday-evening-crowd of one hundred steel workers, spending the lid off of the wages they had just been paid at the town's mill before bringing the rest home to their old women.
Emmett walked through the front door first, and the laughing, yelling, loud-talking, bulk-muscled, short-sleeved, polo-shirted, white workmen fell into a stone-faced silence the instant they saw him and his long hair hanging below the shoulders of the canvas, Rain-tite jacket he always wore. The silence grew louder and colder as each of his brothers stepped inside behind him and followed him the thirty or so feet past a pair of pocket pool tables toward the long, walnut bar along the back wall, where room was quietly made for them by men who were standing with their feet on the rail.
As he moved forward, Emmett could see that none of the seventy or eighty tables in the place was empty, and his quick glance also told him that the burning sensation he felt flushing at the base of his neck was the glare of the one hundred or so pairs of clean, midwestern eyes seated in the jungle of chairs around those tables, deadpanning their shaggy clothes and two-day auto grime. When he got to the bar the bartender was waiting, and the man seemed a little frightened about what Emmett guessed he figured was going to happen after the silence broke. "He must be the owner, and that's why he's worryin'. He don't care nothin' 'bout us, it's only the damage to his place that he's feelin' anxious 'bout," thought Emmett, as he looked into the man's eyes and ordered what they had been drinking for the past two days on the road. "Four double Four Roses rye whiskies 'n four bottles of Budweiser beer, please."
No one moved except the man behind the bar, as he set up the order and asked with his voice cracking if there'd be anything else. The menu vvas written in chalk on a blackboard above the bar, and Emmett glanced at his brothers about what they were going to eat, and back up at the board, then down again into the worried ovvnerbartender's face that was all rosy pink from capillaries broken by booze and said clearly, "Four hot beef stews 'n plenty of bread and butter, please." Emmett calmly tucked the corner of a twenty-dollar bill under his still-full bottle of beer, so the man could see that no matter what might go down, he would get paid.
Whispers began to break through the quiet, and as they grew louder the men closest to the four of them returned to whatever they'd been talking about, minding their own business. The jokes about beatniks and hippies quickly followed, but never loud enough to become a challenge, and the laughter came back into the strong
[end page 387]
bellies of the crowd of hard-working men who lived what was left of their lives only on weekends.
Everything looked like it was going to be all right, when the Hun, for some singular, absurd, irrational reason of his own, walked brazenly over to the rack of pool cues along the side wall, took one out and returned to the bar with it in his hand. Emmett was just as surprised at the Hun's crazy move as most of the workmen who saw him make it. The food hadn't come yet, and it was going to be another five or ten minutes before it did, and then it would take the four of them about five or ten minutes more to eat it all which made it almost a solid half hour before they'd be leaving the place, and "What the fuck are you going to do, just sit here at the bar with that pool stick between your legs to be ready in case you have to beat away someone or somethin', huh! You goddamn, ignorant prick!" Emmett, Billy and Tumble didn't say any of that out loud to the Hun. They just looked at him that way and tried to let their eyes do the talking for them, but he didn't hear them, or wouldn't, being too busy out-hippin' himself which was his usual pose during tight situations.
Some of the men in the joint thought the Hun's action was funny, and they laughed uproariously. But some of the others didn't think his move was hilarious at all, and in fact seemed to consider it downright insulting to the "live and let live" hospitality they were willing to display. It didn't take long before one of them came over to the little, five-foot-eight-inch, l30-pound Hun to see whether he wanted to play out the move he'd just made.
The guy was about fifty with long, stringy muscles and white hair, and he already had half a bag on. He stood next to the Hun who was sitting on a stool at the end of the bar with the cue stick resting on his left leg, and Emmett standing by his right elbow. The guy had a mixed drink of rye and ginger ale in his hand, and he swayed a little bit as he stood looking at the pool cue, and finally lifted his head clumsily to ask, "Wha' you gonna do with that?"
Emmett felt he couldn't allow the Hun the chance to answer the dude with his usual flip-lip, because his answer would set off whatever was going to happen to all four of them. So Emmett slid between the guy and the Hun's back and politely, but soundly, answered that "he ain't gonna do nothin' with it, 'cause I'm gonna use it for what it was made to do. That's what my friend brought it over here for in the first place--to shoot a game of pool. But after he brought it over, he just realized how tired he really was from all the
[end page 388]
drivin' he done today, and I decided to play the game he ain't goin' to. Is that all right, mister?"
The white-haired, wiry guy looked at Emmett for a moment before walking away and back to the other end of the bar where he came from. A young guy picked up where the older man left off, however, by approaching Emmett and asking him if he cared to shoot a game with him. There was no animosity visible in the younger fellow's face, just a bit of curiosity maybe. So Emmett said, "Sure, but we'll have to make it a quick game of nine ball, 'cause my food'll be comin' up soon. That okay with you?" The cat said that it was, and Emmett racked the nine balls, using only his forearms and hands to shape them together, and everyone in the bar saw by the way he packed the balls into the difficult diamond formation without a wooden frame that Emmett knew what to do with a pool table.
They flipped a coin and Emmett won the toss. He shot the cue ball hard into the right side of the diamond pack, sinking the number three ball on the break and scattering the rest all over the table. He sank four more balls into the pockets with his next four consecutive shots before missing an easy bank into the corner, leaving the other guy to run off the last four neatly positioned balls on the table, including the nine ball which meant the game. Emmett paid off the dude with what they agreed to play for, a drink, and also thanked him for letting him shoot a quick game, shook his hand with a "much obliged," and then sat down on the stool at the bar where his hot beef stew had just arrived from the kitchen.
It was dark by the time the four of them left the bar with their bellies warm and full and their minds toying with the refreshing idea of a little sleep. Denton wasn't far, and Emmett said he'd drive the rest of the way to the campground. He had no idea how tired he was nor how juiced he'd gotten in the bar, and therefore had no reason to slow down from the ninety-mile-per-hour pace they maintained across more than half the country. There were very few cars on the road, and after he was at the wheel for about forty minutes he began to get the feeling they were lost.
The others were all sound asleep, so Emmett picked up the piece of paper from the dashboard that was the hand-drawn map the owner of the bar had given them to find their way to the camp in Denton, Michigan, and held it up in front of him, resting it on the steering wheel without slowing down, and shifting his eyes from the road to the paper and back.
[end page 389]
He traveled about five miles this way and had just taken another glance at the map, when the asphalt-covered side road he was whipping along suddenly opened onto and across a four lane highway. During the seconds Emmett was glancing at the map, his eyes missed the road sign which would have told him to stop for the intersection, so he didn't know to slow down or even what he was approaching until it happened. The car leaped across the interstate highway between a pair of oncoming trailer trucks whose drivers more than likely shat in their pants, and ended up on the other side of the crossroad that was paved only with gravel-dirt which couldn't handle the high speed of the car's wheels, sending it into a side spin that startled the other three awake just in time for them to see what Emmett's eyes were screaming about. The right side of the car was rapidly sliding toward a concrete road abutment with terrific, slowmotion, instant, fast energy, as if it were being drawn to it by some hidden magnetic force. Everyone jumped to the left side of the car, Billy literally climbing into Emmett's lap, to get away from the roaring, oncoming, concrete block. The split-fraction-of-a-second it went out of view, they all cringed, waiting for the impact that never came, because fate or whatever squeezed the car a hairbreadth past the deadly stone abutment and sent it jumping into the air where it floated still for a moment, before crashing down into the river on the left side of the road and breaking in half.
It all occurred, from start to finish, in about two, three, or four seconds' time, but it seemed longer--much longer. No one was hurt, only a few bumps and the after-shock of waking up into a nightmare and nearly dying. They stood in the thigh-high, quiet water of the small river for a while, each one silently musing to himself about what just happened, and all of them trying to come out of the stupor their brush with sudden death caused their systems. Billy Landout was sitting out of the water on top of the car's trunk; Tumble had his leg hanging over one of the front fenders; the Hun was standing a few feet from the cracked auto and checking out his eyeglasses to see whether or not they were damaged; and Emmett was leaning against the side of the car with his arms outstretched across the top of the roof, thinking the same thoughts as the others.
A farmer turned onto the road with his wife in the cab and his six or seven children in the rear of a tailgate pickup. He stopped, of course, and looked agape at the sight he knew he never would believe if he hadn't seen it with his own two eyes. The man gestured
[end page 390]
for his family to remain in the truck as he stepped out and approached the bank where he asked the four brothers, who were still standing in the middle of the river, whether he could oblige them in any way, like by telephoning the local sheriff's office or a garage or something.
There was a pleasant smile on the farmer's face which couldn't help show how amusing the outrageous spectacle seemed to him. Tumble asked the farmer to please use his phone in both the ways he mentioned and told him they would all wait for the police and garageman to show. Tumble closed with a sincere "Thank you," and the farmer headed back toward the cab of his truck, but he didn't climb into it. Instead, he leaned inside for a second and turned back around with what looked like a Brownie Hawkeye camera, complete with flash attachment, in his worn, hard hands.
He returned to the edge of the bank, holding the camera and shyly asked, "'Scuse me, fellas. I know it might seem downright impolite, but I jus' hadda ask you or I'd be kickin' myself for weeks if I didn't. You see, ain't nobody gonna believe it when I tell 'em 'bout you 'n the river 'n the car 'n all, 'n I would be much obliged if you let me take a snapshot of you 'n everything before I git on back to my house 'n make those phone calls you asked me to."
Tumble and the Hun whispered something like "Nothing doing!" to themselves under their breath with the latter going on to the others about how the photo could be used later to identify all of them, if anything happened at the conference or someplace else nearby. Emmett stopped him before he got himself and the others caught up in paranoia, cutting him off with logic. If the four of them didn't oblige the farmer with a snapshot that each of them could simultaneously blur with a bit of slight movement and closed eyes, the guy might become insulted enough not to oblige them with the necessary phone calls, and they'd be spending the whole goddamn night wet and cold.
All this discussion was done in quick whispers while paying unflinching attention to the farmer who was standing above them and returning their shit-eating-grins with an enthusiastic, hopeful smile. Billy Landout delighted the guy by yelling up to him, "Sure, it's all right for you to take a picture. But just make it no more than two, okay? 'Cause we're gettin' kinda cold here in this river, 'n we'd like to get on out and into some warm clothes. Just tell us when you're ready, so we can pose real nice for you, okay?"
The farmer got real happy very fast and clicked off the two photos
[end page 391]
with a polite, "Ready, aim," each time, cuing the four Digger brothers on exactly when to jerk their images slightly and guaranteeing that when the film was developed the farmer would have two pictures of four ghostlike blurs hanging around and on top of two halves of a car in the middle of the neighborhood river. He probably would say something like, "Shucks! They all moved!" But his evidence would be good enough to convince his cronies of the freakiest scene he had ever seen in his life.
The guy was overjoyed about what was obviously going to be a lively topic of conversation for months, and he got his whole family to wave excitedly "Thank you! And goodbye!" at the four subjects of the area's future gossip, before pulling on down the road a few miles to his home where he made the phone calls he promised plus several more to his buddies, a few of whom showed up along with the local sheriff and garage mechanic.
Tumble told the cop he was driving the car when it slipped off the road, because Emmett didn't have a valid license and was still a bit too obviously drunk. As it turned out, the sheriff believed everything Tumble said to him except the part about how fast he was traveling when he inadvertently put the car into a skid by trying to avoid hitting a rabbit. Tumble insisted that he had only been doing forty-five or fifty miles per hour, and the sheriff kept denying that it was possible to do all the things that were done to the car and make the kind of skidmarks that were clearly visible in the churned-up dirt road, without going at least eighty, if not ninety miles per hour. So he told Tumble he was going to have to take him into town before the justice of the peace where the matter would be settled, and he'd pay a fine.
Emmett, in the meantime, was talking with the garage guy about how Hertz would pay the expense of towing it out, and they'd have to pay his price, that is, if Emmett didn't call them first and tell them where it was now located on that back-country road. In return for not calling the Hertz Company until the next morning when it was too late, Emmett asked the not unfriendly young mechanic if he'd be kind enough to drive him and his brothers to the Denton campsite where they were supposed to have been hours before. The fellow said it'd be no trouble at all, and also thanked Emmett for the fifty-to-seventy-five-dollar job he just gave him by promising not to call.
The sheriff was writing something in his book when Emmett walked over to hear the Hun inquire of the cop, "What are the
[end page 392]
people like around here?" The stout fifty-year-old sheriff raised his head, so his eyes were level with the Hun's, staring into them with complete understanding of what the Hun meant. He wasn't angry or nothing; he simply wanted to let the slick-city Hun know he wasn't so goddamn smart or talking to no goddamn civil-servant fool either, and he waited for a moment before answering with a mild sense of his own country wisdom. "If you can generalize what all the people might be like 'round here by regardin' one individual, you might just as well use me as an example, or Hank, the garageman over there, 'cause I'm one of the people 'round here, mister, same's him 'n same's them other folks that stopped by here before. There ain't no difference 'tween them 'n me, 'cept the jobs we do, that's all. I'm one of 'em 'n have been all my life 'n will be till I die. Now, if that answers your question, you're welcome." Then he walked over to his car and told his office on the radio what happened and that he was taking the car's driver into town to stand before the justice and pay a fine.
Emmett talked it over with Tumble, and they decided that the best thing to do was for Emmett, Billy and the Hun to go to the meeting at the camp outside Denton, where there had to be a lawyer whom they could bring back to the justice of the peace's office to argue Tumble's case, if the fine was too stiff to pay. The other two agreed since there was very little else they could do.
The sheriff called Tumble over, and the two of them drove off with Tumble sitting next to the cop on the front seat. The others went with Hank, the garageman, who knew exactly where the summer camp was, and they were there in less than ten minutes. Hank also knew what was going on there, and after writing his name, garage address, and phone number down on a piece of paper for Emmett to phone in to Hertz, he split in a hurry.
The main cabin where the first of the organizational meetings was already under way, was all lit up inside with white light, and the three Frisco Diggers could see it was packed with the type of young and old people they expected to find at such a dry-crusted-dull shindig. The three of them looked at each other for a moment, smiled, and someone said, "Let's go get that lawyer."
Emmett opened the door and stepped inside first, right in front of a long table covered with mimeographed papers and lined up next to the knotty-pine wall on the right side of the room. It was the dais, and Thomas Hayden, a neatly middle-class-dressed, short-haired, pockmarked, college-graduate radical, political careerist and SDS
[end page 393]
leader, was in the middle of his welcoming address to his fellow delegates, who were all attentively seated on rows of wooden folding chairs that entirely filled up the rest of the room.
Hayden stopped speaking when Emmett moved to a spot directly between him and his audience and silently stood there for the moment it took the Hun and Billy Landout to enter the large rec room and plant themselves on each side of the open door. Everyone else was also quiet, probably startled by their curiosity as to who the three men were who interrupted their meeting.
Emmett's left side was facing the delegation, and his right side faced Tom Hayden and the other speakers seated at the platform, to whom he nodded a slight greeting before turning his back on them to full-face the audience. As soon as he did this, there was a yelp of recognition from the rear of the room where Abbot Hoffman was sitting against the back wall with his pseudo-Digger buddies Paul Krassner, Jim Fourat and Keith Lampe, all dressed up in their beaded, purple-colored hippie costumes and Mexican cowboy hats. Emmett gave them the same sort of nod with which he greeted Hayden and the dais.
"My name's Emmett, 'n that fella over there's the Hun, 'n the one next to him playing the flute is Bill Landout. We're here representing the San Francisco Diggers which we'll get around to later. First, we have to do somethin' more important. You see, we had an accident 'bout six miles from here, 'n one of us, our brother Tumble, was taken to town by the sheriff to stand before the justice. Now, to make sure he don't end up in the slam 'n to get him back here with us, we need a lawyer 'n someone with a car, unnerstand?"
Emmett waited, looking around the room for some sign of someone willing to volunteer. When he felt he waited long enough, which was about a minute, he took a different tack, and with extreme politeness asked one paunchy, bifocaled man in his mid-thirties whether he was a lawyer. The man said that he was and replied to the next question with, "Yes, I've got a car."
This was Emmett's cue to rip the fat guy from his seat and forcibly lead him outside to his car which they drove away with Billy Landout behind the wheel following the lawyer's directions on how to get to the town of Denton. Emmett soothed the very ruffled attorney by explaining that he should have identified himself as a lawyer immediately and volunteered, because "we've been on the road for two solid days now, 'n we're not in no mood to waste no time. Anyway, you're here to show how you're concerned for the
[end page 394]
people, ain't you? Well, just think of us as two fellows who're giving you an opportunity to exemplify your radicalism and responsibility to the people. Okay? Okay!"
The Hun remained behind to make sure that the meeting wasn't reconvened in the orderly manner in which it started. He accomplished this by simply stepping over to the speaker's platform behind the dais, pushing Hayden out of his way with a handshake and a "Thank you kindly," and swinging on the audience with an excited ramble-rap, the likes of which they never heard before and most of them probably never have again.
He poured it on them with his sweet 'n sour, white-nigger-hipster tongue, lashing out the Trip Without a Ticket message that "Property's the enemy and has gotta have its inanimate values destroyed by any means necessary. Which means that one has to begin by assaulting oneself--attacking all the conditioned misconceptions in one's own head first, before waging warfare against the various machines of the system. Organize your own goddamn heads! Get yourselves together! And quit all this make-believe bullshit! Bullshit, like organizing the teachers, the workers or this 'n that! Don't organize the motherfucking schools! Burn them down! Or just walk away from 'em and leave 'em alone, and they'll rot! Drop out of the system, 'cause you're only kidding yourselves if you don't, and your own children know that, and that's why they're leaving you alone, why they're running away from the lies that are your lives!"
On and on the Hun blazed about guerrilla theater and about Free! for all, because it's yours, and about how Moscow was more fucked up than Mississippi. All the young persons and all those in the audience who had any minds left were completely turned on and overjoyed. The older lefties, however, who had been wrapped in their make-believe, international Communist workers' game since the thirties, forties and Joe McCarthy fifties didn't want to hear it but had to, and were physically upset by almost every word. They came to that cabin-campground in Denton, Michigan, to continue the Workable Lie that allowed them to play with ideological rhetoric and join in harmless activities which didn't interfere with their private financial welfare, and here was the Hun, yelling at them, demanding that they drop completely out of the capitalist economic system and stop their kidding around. It disturbed them very much, because they didn't come to hear the truth.
As soon as Billy Landout pulled the lawyer's car onto the main street of Denton, Emmett spotted Tumble standing alone outside
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an empty bar with a brown-paper-bagged can of beer in his hand. He got into the car, and Billy turned it around and headed back toward the camp while Tumble told them the story of his appearance before the justice of the peace and his subsequent release with no fine, but with an open invitation to dinner and to spend the night in an empty bedroom in the wooden frame home which doubled as the courthouse. Tumble insisted it was true and that the judge just liked him, that's all.
They were all still laughing when they walked into the main cabin where the Hun was just ending his scattered speech, and the attorney sheepishly returned to his seat, glad to be back in the safe milieu of his not-so-serious comrades. The lawyer wasn't even brave enough to ask for the return of his own car keys, so Billy left them hanging in the ignition.
Billy Landout walked over to the far end of the dais table and sat down on top of it, crossing his legs in the lotus position and smiling. He continued playing a low-keyed melody on his flute--which was all he had driven more than halfway across the country to say to these persons assembled in Middle America, and it was beautiful.
The Hun finished, and an older man of fifty or sixty commented very loudly that what he said was negated by the simple and obvious fact that he'd never been a member of the proletariat working class, and therefore had never dropped out of anything because he had always been on the outside, whereas, the man went on, he himself spent the past thirty-five years or so as a rank-and-file member of the Auto Workers Union and had been, and still was, working goddamn hard every goddamn moment of that time to change the capitalistic mentality of his fellow workers and the structure of the union which, he concluded, was a goddamn more important revolutionary role for him to play "than to be sittin' on a table like that fella over there playin' with a toy flute!"
There was a boisterous round of applause by the majority of the assembled for the workingman's brief statement. When the handclapping and backslapping died down, Emmett held back the Hun from making a hip rebuttal, and Tumble stepped forward to take up the gauntlet.
All eyes were on Tumble, waiting for how he was going to answer the challenge, and watching as he removed two cards from his wallet. When he was ready, he struck a heavy stance and stabbed the old leftist dead with his black, shiny eyes.
"You see these two cards, fella? All of you, d'ya see 'em?! Well, a
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little less than a year ago these cards were me, and they'd been me for over twelve years before that or for just about one third of my life. I got them both at the same time and from the same man, when I was twenty years old and fresh out of a California penitentiary. This one here is the card that says I was a longshoreman on the San Francisco waterfront every day of those dozen years. And this one says I was a member in good standing of the American Communist party, when I was just that, up until I became twenty-four or five, and it didn't seem to make much sense for me to renew my membership. Now, both of these cards were given to me by the same man, or, I should say, by the associates of the same man--Mr. Harry Bridges, who I'm sure all you members of the working proletariat know to be the head of the San Francisco longshoreman's union, as well as a radical champion of all workers' rights.
"What I'm driving at is that neither of these cards is me anymore. Oh, they still have my name on them all right, but they ain't me no more--no way! The reason they no longer are, is a long, long story which I'll shorten by simply reachin' its conclusion for you. But I want you to all understand that I didn't jump to no quick conclusion then, when I actually canceled both of these cards out of my life forever. It was a goddamn long-drawn decision I made after tryin' to work within their confines for all those years of my youth. I didn't jump to no fuckin' conclusion! I thought about it slowly for a long time--too long!
"Anyway, the reason I gave up my card-carrying membership in both these organizations was I realized they were full of shit, and I didn't want to be a part of that shit. Part of the lie that says all socially relevant change is brought about through the power of the working class. You see, I really want to do something to change this goddamn system we got here, and when I realized that I really, really did want to do something relevant to change the miserable way most people live in this fuckin' world, I knew I had to stop kidding myself by going to monthly Party meetings, while at the same time earning over three hundred dollars in take-home pay every week. I mean, I had no real beef with anything, really, as long as the two hundred dollars for my thirty-five hours' work was coming in every week. And it was basically those wages that made me see that my involvement with the Communist Party, U.S.A. was nothing more than an elitist hobby that made me feel self-righteously good once a month, that's all, and did nothing for no one. One day, I just looked 'round at all my friends who were all playin~ the same
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make-believe union, party, workers-of-the-world-unite! game, and I could see that they were all comfortably fat, and so I decided that I was finished with all of that running-in-place bullshit, and I dropped out of the lie and into the truth of myself.
"Then I was lucky enough to meet my brothers here, and ever since I've been working with them to change things. To change things not by demanding that things be changed by protest marches or by demonstrations that ask that the changes be given to the people. No! But by changing things ourselves.
"It's as simple as that. We see a change that has to be made, we don't ask or demand that someone else make it happen. We just fucking well make it happen, and if anyone tries to stop us, then we're prepared to defend our right to make those changes that are relevant to our lives and the way we live them.
"I'm talking now about immediate, localized changes, like stopping poor kids from being hungry by getting food for them to eat, or letting a landlord know that he better fix his slum buildings up with heat and hot water in the winter, or we'll burn his own family's fucking suburban house down for him. And he understands, because we let him know that we know where he lives. You dig? And all sorts of real, actual, relevant things like that, like the Free Stores, where a poor person who can't afford something might find it, and not secondhand either, but brand fucking new, so's she or he can get a taste of what it could be like, if we worked together to change things, instead of just jerking off together, masturbating highfalutin' words all over each other--words that sound real good, but don't do nothin'! Nothin' for nobody, never! Like I done for those twelve years, those boxcar years of my life, when I tricked myself into standing still because I was getting good pay for it--for making believe, mister! For making believe that, because I was a worker and a Communist party member, I had the integrity of a true, revolutionary human being, when in reality I was a stone liar, lying to myself and everyone else and not even capable of gettin' a nigger a gig with my own union or any other union for that matter, except the janitors' union.
"I was just like you, mister! Like most of you people right here, playing trick-the-tricker, but only succeeding in tricking myself. I'd still be throwin' those same boxcars and crappin' out on history if I hadn't accepted the truth that I was doing nothing for nobody but my own goddamn selfish self, and if I hadn't met these men here who're now my brothers. This one's gonna speak to you next now,
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'cause that's what he came here to do. So you listen to him, 'cause he just might save some of your lives from never living and from never changing the routine limbo of the Workable Lie that's got you coming up boxcars every time and never changing nothing to do with even yourselves, much less history, for chrissake!"
The persons who clapped and hollered and yelled their approval at Tumble as he backed off from center stage were mostly the young who, within a couple of years, were going to drastically change the direction and focus of SDS, but not the basic motives for their involvement in the activities of the organization. Their personal motivations would remain the same as the Old Left's, even though the activities would switch from do-nothing ideological conferences to do-nothing terrorist tactics. Their motives would be just as selfishly personal and as deliberately unconcerned with the needs of the people. They would give vent to their own private frustrations with pseudo-guerrilla, war-game playing and romantic adventurism, and do about as much--these "weathermen"--for the liberation of the country's low-money people into a classless society as George Metesky, the Mad Bomber of New York, did. Nothing! Except some sensational headlines in the newspapers for the voyeurs to get a giggle over. And it's a shame.
Emmett moved forward between the rows of chairs and climbed up on a table in the back of the room, squatting down on top of it and making everyone turn around to see him. He picked up where Tumble left off, telling the crowd about the importance of anonymity to persons who seriously attempted to effect relevant changes in any social order and tried to achieve at least a token independence from the economic system, with the ultimate goal of course being autonomy. An individual and collective autonomy, a spiritual and material autonomy that would eventually lead to the long, hard struggle which would have to be fought to establish a post-competitive, comparative, classless society where all power would be decentralized and given to the people through a form of democratic socialism.
He then began to explain how the Diggers in San Francisco simply assumed their own freedom to serve the people by trying to get every brother and sister whatever they needed, to do what it was they had to do. It was this assumption of freedom, he continued, that caused the radical movement to falsely believe that the individual Diggers and their organization were anarchistic and led the straight establishment into believing that they were just a bunch of
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