DIAMOND ON THE ROAD

JACK KEROAUC, 1951:

In the Virginia wilderness suddenly we saw a man walking on the road. Neal zoomed to a stop. I looked back and said he was only a bum and probably didn’t have a cent. “We’ll just pick him up for kicks!” laughed Neal. The man was a ragged bespectacled mad type walking along reading a paperbacked muddy book he’d found in a culvert by the road. He got in the car and went right on reading; he was incredibly filthy and covered with scabs. He said his name was Herbert Diamond and that he walked all over the USA knocking and sometimes kicking at Jewish doors and demanding money. “Give me money to eat. I am Jew.” He said it worked very well and that it was coming to him. We asked him what he was reading. He didn’t know. He didn’t bother to look at the title page. He was only looking at the words, as tho he had found the real Torah where it belonged, in the Wilderness. “See? see? see?” cackled Neal poking my ribs. “I told you it was kicks. Everybody’s kicks, man!” We carried Diamond all the way to Rocky Mt North Carolina. My sister was no longer there, she had just moved to Ozone Park with my mother before I left. Here we were back on the long bleak street with the railroad track running down the middle and the sad sullen Southerners loping in front of hardware stores and Five and Tens. Diamond said “I see you people need a little money to continue your journey. You wait for me and I’ll go hustle up a few dollars at a Jewish home and I’ll go along with you as far as Alabama.” Neal was all for it. Suddenly I remembered that Alan Temko had relatives in Rocky Mt., Jewish relatives, jewellers in the town. I told Diamond to find and hit the Temko jewelery store. His eyes lit up. He rushed off. Neal was all beside himself with happiness; he and I rushed off to buy bread and cheese spread for a lunch in the car. Louanne and Al waited in the car. We spent two hours in Rocky Mt. waiting for Herbert Diamond to show up; he was hustling for his bread somewhere in town but we couldn’t see him. The sun began to grow red and late. It occurred to us Diamond would never show up. “What happened to him? Maybe Temko’s relatives took him in; maybe he’s sitting right in front of the fireplace right now telling about his adventures with crazy people in Hudsons.” We remembered the time Temko had thrown us out of the party in Denver, the night of the nurses and the night I’d lost my key. We rolled all over the car laughing. Diamond never showed up so we roared out of Rocky Mt—“Now you see Jack, God does exist, because we keep getting hungup with this town, no matter what we try to do, and you’ll notice the strange biblical name of it, and that strange biblical character who made us stop here once more, and all things tied together all over like rain connecting everybody the world over by chain touch…” Neal rattled on like this; he was overjoyed and exuberant. He and I suddenly saw the whole country like an oyster for us to open; and the pearl was there, the pearl was there.

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