On June 1, 1983, it snowed, rain and snow in Milwaukee. It was not a true winter snow, fifteen feet of torturous snow that you dig your way out of like the trenches of Verdun. It was sickening slop. After six months of being cold all the time, seeing the sun rarely, you felt as though the ichor in your bones was frozen and your soul was industrial soot.
Lucowski felt radio waves of Morris Code in Spanish that adrenalized him. FL put some shit in his clutch. The Kerouac uniform: all cotton, polyester was way too fucking hot for Mexico. He used the same boy scout duffel bag with emblem, that he used when he left home at 15. It was a talisman and lucky charm.
FL had phobic fear of flying. He hated everything about flying. He hated the formality and ass kissing, the feeling of being a cow led to the slaughter-house. The air host & hostesses were like prison guards in his eyes. Worst of all was a the torture of getting a window seat next to the wing. On continent to continent flights over Atlantic or Pacific, when the plane would hit turbulence, Lucowski would gaze from his wooden overcoat at the wing and wonder how the rivets, as big as nails could keep the wings from busting up and falling into the sea.
And the safety bull (instructions before the Trans-Atlantic flight) he knew all the fucking inflatable tarps and life vest, barf bags, brave airline stewardess, skilled pilots couldn't save your ass if you went down in the middle of the Atlantic. "Tuck and cover," kiss your ass good bye. A half hour of highly pitched terror, last minute rights of passage and mea culpa unimaginable.
While everyone else was praying and posturing on the way down, FL imagined running to first class and securing a bottle of cognac, glomming on a raven haired, winsome and beauteous stewardess while draining the sauce, cascading to ground zero.
So, flying to Mexico City was out, and taking a Grey Hound bus to San Diego was in. Pearl would drive him to Chicago. She had a new boyfriend, Winchell Cromwell, a young bartender at "Skull &Bones" he also worked at "Killer Fuel Cafe". Pearl had long naturally white unpigmented hair which she wore in Sioux braids or up wrapped with a chopstick. She was a beatnik poetess who knew and corresponded with Allen Ginsburg on a regular basis. She lived with her daughter in a small room over " Killer Fuel Cafe." Her room was painted sea green, mother earth, "hip to the bone".
Pearl refused to take on his (Lucowski's) psychodrama any longer. She let FL drive her old Volkswagen while she sat shot gun, driving south on the Wisconsin Turnpike, they smoked skunk weed with the windows open. Pearl gave Lucowski a farewell blow job.
The Chicago Greyhound Bus Station was near Maxwell Street (where parts of the "Blues Brothers" were filmed), and near the Belushi family greek restaurant "Olympia". Pearl dropped FL off with little adieu. She hugged FL and said "ta-ta-ta" a Gary Snyder Zen beatism, put into words: a rose is a rose is a rose (or) first you see the mountain, then it disappears, then you see the mountain again. Lucowski could never seem to see the mountain at all.
The Greyhound Bus Station gave Lukowski the same feeling he would get in jail, grey. Most people riding buses couldn't afford to fly, being at the bottom of the food chain. Figaro had the usual first aid kit of dope and booze in his duffle bag. In the eighties you could ride a Greyhound with any kind of dope you wanted, because you weren't driving. The secret of successful Greyhound Bus riding was to keep your mouth shut, but be discerning when you did start up a conversation. You could keep a nice buzz on. Bring plenty of brown heroin, symmetrically snorted with gulps of Vodka. Lucowski would buy a can of King Edward snuff, empty it, and put heroin in.
(Goin south with the bus window wide open, blowing sweet air in your face, in reverie, fantasia and REM. Pleasing the mind, more than a plane ride on Nazi Airlines).
Ebony sisters were the sable queens of the bus line. I think it had to do with their marvelous pure-breed genes, look at Ray Charles's mother, she loved the blind child like a RAY of moonlight, raising him to take the edge off the world's heart, the blessed black Jesus. Lucowski at times would ride the bus for hundreds of miles, tweaking out on heroin, drinking vodka with sable sisters, even making out with and enjoying jasmine scent of sweet sisterhood.
FLs Greyhound reached Texas seven days later. For Lucowski the ride was so so: A Greyhound in hooplets that would expand slowly at a snails pace, navigating the United States. As he looked out the open window, blinded slightly in opium vapor, he was a white black man, RAY, feeling sable sisters wrist and loving, smelling desert and tropic air, seeing yellow haze and red Georgian mud outside, sometime his mind going deep inside, into creek and Song Hong River bed of glory amuse.
When the Greyhound bus reached Lubbock, Lucowski was junk sick and itching some, feeling heroin and diesel poison in his gut, nauseaum. Spewing his guts out in the nefarious and execrable bus toilet. He bought out the whole supply of Bromo-Seltzer from the bus station store. 427 miles to San Diego, the bus was full of young white guys, dumb yokel cowboys with pimples, on their way to Camp Lajun. His love, sable and jasmine soul sisters, long gone, exiting at Georgia and Arkansas. The young recruits rubbernecked the strung out Lucowski like, "Sid Vicious on a the subway in New York City" a vile, half conscious sick vermin. FL still had an ounce of skunk weed Pearl gave him, he made a quick trip to a liquor store and bought chocolate liquor and vodka to mix with canned milk. FL would go on the booze and weed maintenance program the next 427 miles. 2000 miles of hooplets expanding, yellow heroin, unveiling secrets of the soul and beautiful vision, in the end, opium beat the shit out of him every time.
77 miles outside of Lubbock the bus stopped in Honkeville. Lucowski went into a western shop and looked at cowboy boots and hats. He liked the straw style cowboy hat that your needed to role up, step on, rub in cow shit a few times before it was wearable. FL looked at some brown soft leather calf skin boots. He had done part time work one summer as a kid, on a ranch in Nebraska. FL loved riding fence for miles and miles, he could mend barbwire or string it, pound post, string wire over a creek. He loved being in nature alone on a horse or a dirt bike.
Ranching, raising cattle for sale, putting hamburgers on the plates of America was appalling to Lucowski. He can remember the sinking feeling he would get during round ups and branding. Fig would look in the cows eyes and see terror. He loved animals.When he asked the foreman if it bothered him that all these lovely animals were headed to the slaughter house, the old grizzled cowboy would spit some red man and say, "Son it's just commerce".
Lucowski worked the other end of animal slaughter as science fiction horror and commerce as well. He worked as a packer at a Swift Meats slaughter house on the South Side of Milwaukee. Figaro, at the end of the slaughter and commerce line, loading skinned and frozen half torsos, cattle carcass that should be buried with full rights, not eaten, into refrigerated semi-truck coaches. You could see the rivers of blood leading to and flowing from the killing floor.
As the Greyhound bus pulled out of Honkeville, FL left with a new straw cowboy hat that didn't smell real good, he left the "calfskin" boots at the cowboy store. He passed out in his seat, he smelled like shit, none of the Marine recruits would get near him. He drank himself into a backwash of unconsciousness to get through junk sickness.
The bus driver had to throw a few cups of water in Lucowski's face at the San Diego Greyhound station. He told FL that he thought he was bum, to go get some coffee. The driver told Lucowski he smelt like vomit: "fucking hippy take a bath" and "don't ever get on a Greyhound bus again". The recruits were long gone headed to Camp Death, Lajun. Lucowski thought to himself, those poor bastards (Marine recruits) don't know what they are getting into. As well as, what in the hell happened on this bloody bus? He could remember little of it?
A few blocks away from Greyhound FL was walking on the sidewalk with his duffle bag heading nowhere (erehwon). Figaro could feel "rays glorious" of sun light, smell papaya flowers, tropical air and ocean blue. He hitch hiked to Ocean Beach and wiggled his toes in the sand, stripping down to his boxer shorts, FL dived into the Pacific Ocean. Lucowski body surfed for hours, it was like being baptized, given a new life, no longer junk sick, headed to Mexico City. Figaro was screaming for joy inside, he had chicken skin, re-birthed and free at last from frozen tundra and factorium of the "Milwaukee Death Trap", Jesuit and socialist hell.
After swimming he cruised downtown San Diego on foot. FL ate bean burritos and rice, smoked a joint in the alleyway. He got a tattoo of a celtic cross embellished with a red heart on his forearm. He had his mothers name inscribed on a banner wrapped around the heart "Pauli Mae RIP".
That night he got a taste for mescal with the worm in the bottle. FL went into a Chicano bar under a beltway overpass. Hector's had one bartender, cantina music that was deafening. The place was packed with migrant workers, men and women in flannel shirts, green and khaki chinos. Dark skinned from working their fingers to the bone picking grapes or oranges in the sun. It was a friendly atmosphere and Lucowski got on well with the Mexicans. A colossus brown man, who was over 6 feet tall and weighed at least 330 pounds approached Figaro, sitting at the bar. He asked "gringo what are you doing here"? He had long hair down to his back and a "fu man chu" chops. It turned out he was a member of the Hells Angels, not wearing his colors. Lucowski rolled a joint and he and Chico went outside and got high in the alley. The two hit it off well, FL showed proper respect and didn't bullshit Chico. Talking, Figaro told Chico about his years working at Harley Davidson and in the Hash Oil factory in Milwaukee. At bar time Chico and FL were blasted. Chico said Lucowski could crash at his and his old ladies digs. FL put his duffle bag into the back of Chico's pickup.
Death metal turned up full volume, FL rolled a joint.
Chico's house was a typical Southern California stucco track style house. He kept his Harley and tool box in the garage. He had two kids and his wife worked as operator for Ma Bell. He was a Hells Angel, who rode with his chapter when the time came, but was a good family man. The next morning Chico's old lady made a Mexican breakfast and we talked with his two daughters until school time.
Chico thought it would be a good idea for FL to buy a cheap used car in San diego, cross the boarder, drive it till it died and dump it . Lucowski bought a 68 Dodge, ugly sepia color, the floor was rusting so bad that Chico and Lucowski had to saw and bolt pieces of plywood on ther rusted out floor, so your feet wouldn't fall through to the road. Chico asked Lucowski if he would give two farm workers a ride to Tijuana, a married couple. The three of us left from Chico's house at 9am on a Sunday Morning, San Diego time. The farm worker couple were sweet and appreciative to get the ride. Their names were Maria and Juan De Jesus. We loaded up the rusted out Dodge boot with FLs duffle bag Maria and Juan's cardboard grape boxes, wrapped in plain cord. God only knows what was inside, it could have been raw uncut Columbian blow for all Lucowski knew. We all gave our friend Chico a hand shake and gave him a pat on the back. He had his Hells Angels colors on. Chico's chopped Harley was on the front lawn, for a last minute check over before going to a meeting at the club house and on a ride up north.
Lucowski backed out of the drive and headed for Turnpike 666, heading directly south to Tijuana. The old Dodge moved pretty good, Juan sat shot gun with FL and Maria went to sleep on the back seat. We must have been a sight: two migrant farm workers and a gringo, driving slowly in the right lane. The old rusted out car needed new piston rings, it wouldn't rev faster than 79 rpm. Within a few hours we reached immigration at the Mexico border. The square jawed US Custom's dicks told us to pull over to the side. It was a peice of cake for the cretan imbeciles to check the floor board for dope, all they needed was a crescent wrench to take out the plywood flooring Chico and FL had put in. No dope or Mexican midget wrestlers hidden under the floor board. Figaro had a few unopened bottles and cans of chocolate liquor, vodka, evaporated milk and Bromo-Seltzer in his duffle bag. The Bromo-Seltzer had to be litmus tested. Reaching high water mark, the dicks saw the card board boxes in the boot of the dodge. Lucowski didn't know what was in the boxes and hoped it wasn't dope or severed heads in plastic bags. The Hells Angels had a bad rep to some. The dicks opened the boxes, Figaro crossed himself over his heart three times. The boxes were filled with pumpkin and watermelon seeds to be planted on Maria and Juan De Jesus's ranchero.
Once in Tijuana, Maria and Juan invited Figaro to stay on at their small ranchero? He gave the old Dodge to them. They all hugged each other, Lucowski said thank you, but he had "important business" to take care of in downtown Tijuana. He headed straight to the "Gringo Diabalo" cantina. FL's drink of choice in Mexico was mescal by the bottle, straight shots. He could see soft dark girly faces smiling from the shadows of the bar. Lucowski brought his drink and sat down next to a middle aged Mexican scarlet women. Her painted purple lips, ovoid, seductive, an open invitation for oral sex. FL could see a roll of tissue paper by her side. After getting off in Molly's mouth, he drank a few more shots of mescal and headed with his duffle back to the bus station.
Lucowski bought a third class bus ticket to Mexico City. He could drink openly on the Mexican bus. Weed and dope were out of the question for now. Mexican mafia dressed as cops could bust you for booze money. FL had to get to Mexico City to score dope. He loved the farmer buses, they were safer than deluxe buses, which were newer and faster. The deluxe Mexican coach drivers had big egos and drove at great risk on the winding mountain roads.
The 79 Chevrolet Sierra bus: with orange and red Santa Maria's on flat blue faded paint and yellow trim, not unlike the tour bus of the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon. Lucowski took a seat next to an old Mexican women with snow white hair, olive tanned skin and deep facial wrinkles. Her look was stoic and composed, a shaman who Lucowski knew to treat with the utmost respect and reverence. He offered her a drink of mescal from a flask, she pulled a Lime out of a straw basket and quartered it. They shared a drink together. She was 90 years old, a healer and seer called Jopheil (an angels name). The two new pals began to get wasted together, in a few hours it was night in the flat desert. Lucowski felt the lovely lady nudge his arm, she put a small woven sack filled with dried mescaline buds in his hand. The two friends ate the buds.
Lucowski and Jopheil never spoke more than three words to each other, listening to the sound of shifting gears and bus tires on the flat and cold desert roads. Lukowski and Jopheil began to tweak, astral traveling to the Upper Room, flying with angels, peeking on the mescaline buds. They were in pure white light energy together at Satan's tomb. Jopheil got off the bus at La Rosa Casa, a small Mexican town were the desert meets the hills of Antigua. Lucowski rolled up a US Thousand dollar bill and gave it to her.
When the bus reached the edge of Mexico City FL felt like he was on the edge of hell riding through a ring of fire. The city was a cavernous underworld. FL needed to rest and shake off the antecedent nights astral session with Jopheil. Figaro got in a taxi and told the driver "Plaza De Revolucion". At the Plaza Lucowski gave the driver 200 pesos, grabbed his duffle bag and started walking.
It was 9pm, Lucowski went directly to a large, 200 year old black stone and old brick antigua Catholic Church, "Santa Pedro". Figaro was a satanist who studied the occult teachings of Aleistar Crowley and astral projected on mescaline, but he never missed a chance to walk into a Mexico City church and "shake of the devil some". It gave him balance. The church terrace was full of women dressed in black, lights strung across the promenade, a festoon of orange, read and crimson flowers. Everyday Mexican people praying for a miracle to deliver them from their holdrum and hackneyed life.
Lucowski sat int the front pew, the air was adorned with the chanting sounds of low whisper praying in Spanish. He fell to his knees and kow towed before a beauteous and beatific Jesus on crucifix. He took out his flask and washed down a few left over mescaline buds in his pocket. Figaro stared at the face of Jesus, Jesus's lips started to move, Jesus lowered his head, Lucowski could feel heartfelt humanity. Lucowski elevated to the upper level of consciousness, sitting at a campfire with Jesus in a forrest. Jesus was chastened and self effacing reading from a book.
After church, Lucowski picked up a Mexican whore and spent the night with her in his hotel room in drunken reverie, on a whim he thought it would be nice if Jesus could come down off the cross and be entertained by a Mexican whore and enjoy some Tequila with Lucowski. Jesus always seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, stooped over, having to carry that heavy wooden cross for eternity. Figaro missed his pal Jopheil as well, maybe he would go back to La Casa Rosa tomorrow and find her, they could party some more.
FL got the feeling his "Pilgrimage to Mexico" had ended as it was supposed to.
~FL~ Saturday, June 5, 2010