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that evening he did return, driving a '58 Chevy pickup in great condition with a brand new set of tires. Next to him on the front seat sat a stunning redhead with long, full hair and skin the color of ivory. She was Flame all right and she soon became Brooks's old lady, living with him in another storefront on Webster S~treet in the Fillmore.

The pickup truck almost became a serious problem. Since it was registered to a nonexistent person, everyone wanted to drive it and make believe it was theirs. Emmett put an end to all that by taking the keys and either driving it himself or only allowing someone like Butcher Brooks to use it to take care of Digger business. The need was too great and it was too valuable in those terms to be squandered on tripsters who wanted to drive around Haight Street pretending they were hot-shot characters in a B movie. The truck was used as a free bus, however, picking up passengers along the streets who didn't have the fare for a regular one. This was done whenever it wasn't being used for something more important to the community as a whole. In fact every time the Diggers moved the vehicle, it was filled either with people, or stuff to be given away--it was never empty.

In the rear of the Frederick Street Free Frame of Reference was the free store, brimming over with liberated goods to be shared with whoever needed them. In the front of the place was a large space kept clear of furniture and made available as a lounge or hangout for the casualties of the so-called Love Generation. Kids who were beaten down by the mean streets or the cold, wet, foggy, San Francisco climate. Doctors would come by almost every evening to examine lines of them for things like hepatitis and bronchial disorders, sending them to the S.F. General Hospital when they showed symptoms of a serious illness. The Free Food continued to keep everybody from malnutrition except for the heavy dopers who stonerefused to get next to anything nutritional--so they died. Emmett had to be cautious about stealing meat because of his probation, and therefore the stew was usually made from a poultry stock. He met some right guys in a halfway house, however, who had just been released from Folsom and San Quentin, and they fingered some easy food scores for him. For a while things picked up, but only for a while.

It was at this same halfway house that the Quakers offered Emmett a ten-thousand-dollar-a-year job to do the same work he was doing, but as a member of their organization. They balked, how [end page 266]

 

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