Off and On the Road
How I Got Stoned and Became a Literary Junky
[Author’s note: this is an old piece, written about 7 years ago. I recently re-discovered it and decided to post it in its entirety, and unchanged, i.e. unrevised.]
Lee blew into his hands and rubbed them together, trying to breathe life into his fingers. Scrunching his shoulders, he pulled his coat collar up and and squeezed the opening at the base of his throat, tightening the collar around his neck. A smile had attacked his face earlier and it refused to retreat, and he bared his teeth as breath escaped his nostrils and slipped out of his mouth. He looked beside him, at Ray, and his smile widened.
Ray had a way of smiling with his eyes that seemed to inform his entire way of thinking, his entire worldview, and when he smiled at Lee, grimacing without showing his teeth, his eyes curled upward and mimicked what his mouth would have done—should have done—if he wasn’t so self-conscious. Ray shiver-stomped and jogged in place, half warding off the wind, half dancing in anticipation. Then he glanced at me and laughed. I was standing between them—if viewed from above we would have formed an asymmetrical triangle—and crossed my arms at my chest, burying my hands in my armpits, struggling, fighting, praying for heat to engulf me, to inject colors other than red into my hands and face.
“Man,” Lee said, “this is going to be awesome.”
We stood between two houses, Lee’s and Ray’s, and looked to our right, toward the street, and to our left, toward the back alley. But no one showed up.
Not one fucking person.
We were waiting for Juan, Ray’s half-brother, to deliver our pizza, as we called it, but he was late. And I was worried.
“He’ll be here,” Ray said.
It was cold, and I was tired of waiting. I could, I knew, back out and that would be that. I could simply walk away. Sure, they’d bust my balls, but I’d be lying on my bed in my warm bedroom watching television or fantasizing about being someone other than me—which was something I often did in those days; it’s something I do now, on occasion, though not as frequently as I once did. But I had the most to lose—fifteen dollars—and I had initiated this experiment, put into motion the overwhelming sense of curiosity that had led us to stand between two houses at nine o’clock at night on a weekend in the middle of a Midwestern winter.
Lee, still smiling, preempted my complaints by reading my eyes and laughing.
“He’ll be here,” he said. “Chill out.”
“It’s fucking cold,” I said. “I’m tired of waiting.”
“Bitch, bitch, bitch,” Ray said. “That’s all you do.”
“I fucking hate waiting for people. I’ve got shit to do.”
I didn’t say. It didn’t matter.
The wind whipped us and beat us for ten more minutes before Juan showed up. He delivered our ‘pizza’ in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag and flicked his wrist and unfurled the bag, revealing a quarter ounce of bright green bud. Smiling, playing the role of wise old sage, Juan opened the bag and held it out to us. We each took the bag and inhaled and commented on its smell, on how good and strong and powerful it smelled, though the three of us knew nothing about marijuana.
That summer, the summer of 1994, director Robert Zemeckis released Forrest Gump, a schmaltzy, syrupy, overwrought film designed to manipulate audiences and to win awards. I had seen the film with my family on opening night. At the end of the film, as the audience stood to stroll into the lobby and out of the building, women sniffled and men breathed through their noses, some trying to hide the fact that they were crying, others angry and annoyed that their girlfriends had so easily talked them into seeing such an appalling piece of shit.
I followed my family out of the theater, baffled, unable to comprehend or understand how people had so blatantly submitted to such a manipulative film. Even as a fifteen-year-old kid, I smelled the horseshit Zemeckis and company peddled, and I was disgusted and offended that so many people—an entire fucking auditorium—had eaten that shit with smiles on their faces.
About Lee’s house:
The entire upstairs had recently been remodeled and converted into one large bedroom. Lee and his brothers—one younger, one older—shared it. His brothers were gone and his parents were in their bedroom—his parents were always in their bedroom—and Lee, Ray, and I sat on the couch upstairs trying to assemble a bong made out of a 20- ounce plastic Pepsi bottle. After he’d delivered our ‘pizza,’ Juan had told us how to build a bong. We’d asked him to roll us a few joints but he had no zigzags, so we were forced to fend for ourselves.
With half-assed recollections of his instructions, the three of us sat around on the couch watching as the other tried his hand at building the bong. The contraption was a relatively easy machine to construct, but the filtering system stumped us. We 69’ed two bottle caps and glued them together, then we drilled a hole through them and screwed our Frankenstein lid onto the bottle. That innovation filled us with pride. It was, we thought, revolutionary; here was a homemade bong slapped together by three newcomers, and it was, we thought, although we didn’t really know, as good as any bong—homemade or store bought.
With the bong built, we broke up the bud—as Juan had instructed us to do—and stuffed it in the lid, but someone, I don’t remember who, stopped the fun and prolonged our anticipation by suggesting that we needed some kind of filter to insert between the bud and the bottle caps. This freaked us out for a minute, but it was resolved when Ray suggested that we cut a small circle from a window screen and use that as a filter. This, we agreed, was the perfect solution.
I’d bought my father a copy of the Forrest Gump soundtrack for his birthday. Even though the movie was atrocious, purchasing the soundtrack was a sound decision because my father was a baby boomer who’d turned twenty-one during the summer of love, and music from his youth filled the soundtrack, music he loved.
I came from a poor family and, even though this was the mid 90’s, no one in the house could afford a CD player, or CDs, so when I bought the Forrest Gump soundtrack, I bought it on cassette.
My father had listened to it once or twice before loaning it to me. But I was young and, I thought, hip and intelligent, and I wanted nothing to do with hippy music. Hippy music was, I thought, full of bullshit slogans and crybaby chants. I wanted real music, music that spoke to me. I wanted grunge.
I’d long been obsessed with the notion of getting fucked up. I’d been drinking since I was twelve, and I’d huffed gas on more than one occasion, infrequently but more frequently than any sane person should, since I was ten years old. To me, when I was younger, the notion of getting trashed was a foreign one. I remember as a kid hearing a news report about a man who’d gotten drunk and did this thing or committed that crime and I wondered what it was like to get drunk. More often than not, people accused of vicious crimes while under the influence play the blackout card and claim to have little to no memory of the atrocities of which they are accused. This thought intrigued me. Did one, while drunk or stoned, simply cease to exist? Did he or she become a different person? I tested this theory first with gas, then with booze, but neither put me in the state of mind I’d hoped they’d put me in. I was looking for a chemical or a concoction to send me into another state of mind. I was looking for a reaction that would eliminate the Daulton I was because I wanted to know the Daulton those chemicals or concoctions unleashed. So I tried gasoline and I tried alcohol, but neither offered the solution I wanted.
Pot was, in a way, for me at least, a last ditch effort. Gas and booze didn’t stifle the old Daulton, but, I’d hoped, perhaps marijuana would provide me with the relief I so desperately wanted.
I so desperately wanted to stifle that Daulton because he was a geeky neurotic who usually had things figured out before others kids. This, he often thought, made him a drag, and he wanted nothing more than to be able to shut off his brain and partake in the kind of fun kids his age were supposed to have.
That, I know, was a long-winded way of saying I was too smart for my own good.
This, I know, is a long-winded way of talking about Kerouac. But trust me: I’m getting there.
Seeking out and scoring pot was my idea, so I took the first hit.
I coughed and choked. It tasted strange—pot is the only thing I can think of that tastes exactly like it smells, if that makes any sense—and it burned my lungs and tickled and scratched my throat.
Lee and Ray laughed as I coughed and choked and fought through hit after hit. Then I passed the bong around and laughed as they in turn coughed and choked and fought through hit after hit.
The high kicked in before we finished the bowl. It came on fast and I hadn’t recognized it until I started laughing. I started laughing because the world became hazy yet perfectly clear. I diagnosed this peculiar ailment when, taking another hit, passing the bong back to Lee, I turned my head, slightly, and noticed that my eyes moved slower than my head, and that my brain moved slower than both my eyes and my head. This, I thought, was strange. Something was wrong. So, eyeballing the carpet, I craned my neck and swung my head to the right. The same thing occurred: the world slowed and pumped fog into the room; yet everything moved as it always had and the room was clear and free of fog. So I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Soon, Ray and Lee were laughing at me, and then we all laughed for reasons none of us understood.
Here’s the thing about being a disillusioned young cynic:
You always want to get fucked up; you seek out ways of becoming another you. Everything you do is a means to that end. Young freaks either become burnouts or writers or painters or filmmakers or musicians. The techniques may vary but the results, the intentions, are always the same: to eliminate the part of you the public reproaches and to become a newer, better you. To simply express oneself isn’t a valid reason to explore drugs or art or sex. Expressing oneself is easy, and, superficially, it does exist; read poetry or prose written by teenage freaks and you’ll find plenty of self-expression; but the thread running through all such writings is a desire to become someone else; not to become normal, whatever the fuck that means, but to become a heightened, slightly exaggerated version of you—a version of you accepted by society. That, I think, is the goal. Certainly it was my goal. I was a dark kid. My mind leaned toward thoughts of death and decadence. That is simply who I became, how I developed.
In short: I was looking for a way out.
Hence the gasoline and alcohol. Hence the marijuana and, later, the literature.
Suffice it to say:
We got fucked up that night.
We giggled and cackled our way through another bong load, and then I headed home. It was late and Lee’s parents rarely allowed his friends to stay too late, so Ray and I hit the road, so to speak, before offering Lee’s parents the opportunity to kick us out—even though they stayed in their bedroom most of the time, Lee’s parents had a preternatural instinct for determining who was in the house, and they always managed to sneak upstairs and surprise us.
So Ray and I sat on his front porch, cackling and staring at the ground, trying to stifle our mania. Ray couldn’t take it, the waiting, the giggled, so he went inside and hid in his bedroom. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was an ailment that would afflict us all, some more frequently than others, over the coming years: we’d smoke pot and hide in our rooms to enjoy the euphoria alone—though not always: I have plenty of stories about being young and fucked up and living dangerously, but that is not the point of this little number.
Kerouac is the point.
So I suppose now is as good a time as any to explain how I discovered Kerouac, and how he gave birth to my love of literature.
I’ve got to finish the Forrest Gump thread.
If you’re still reading this and sighing, thinking, “Fuck, man, get on with it already, for fuck’s sake. Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck,” fear not: the Kerouac thread eventually intersects with the Forrest Gump thread.
So shut up already, you damn impatient bastard.
Christ. Attention spans are an increasingly rare commodity these days. If a man or woman, adult or child, isn’t delivered the point now now now and on a fucking silver platter with cardboard signs attached to the sides portraying giant fucking arrows gesturing to the point of any given film or book or poem or article, people don’t want it. Most people would rather gag on the spoon feeding them than enjoy the fruits of the labor—if I may use such an ugly cliche, a phrase that hits the ear with a thud.
Here I am bitching about peoples’ attention spans while my attention is seemingly all over the map.
So … as I was saying:
I left Ray’s house after he went inside and stumbled to my house and somehow made it into my bedroom without having to sneak past my parents. The thought of trying to communicate with them and pretend that I was a-okay had troubled me, and nearly killed my buzz, but when I reach my bedroom, unnoticed, I flopped onto my bed and closed my eyes and dug the high.
At first the sensations were intense, and somewhat nauseating: a million pinpricks seized my arms and back, as though I’d been groped by a four-armed monster whose arms were made out of acupuncture needles. The pinpricks massaged me, then they pulled me back, back, back, and it felt as if I were flying through a tunnel.
The sensations amazed me. I’d never felt or even conceived such sensations. Occasionally they made me laugh. More often than not, however, they sucked me into a void so fully and completely devoid of thought that I simply hovered over the mattress, consumed by the drugs devouring me.
But soon the void cracked, and I instinctively understood that there was only one way to fill that crack. Music. Music, I knew, was the calk used to erase cracks in euphoric, marijuana voids. How did I know this? I didn’t know. I only knew that it was the most sensible and obvious solution to my problem.
So I rolled onto my side and reached for the boombox beside my bed. My head still hollow and floating toward the ceiling. I turned on the boombox and slammed the play button on the cassette deck. Grunge music blasted from the speakers. It was loud and metallic and disturbing. So I popped out the cassette and, rushing, looked through my box o’ tapes, as I called it, and couldn’t find anything comforting or soothing. Then I found it. I found that goddamn Forrest Gump soundtrack. Dad had loaned me, and I more or less shuffled it away. Only it wasn’t so god-damnable now that I was stoned. I suspected the soundtrack, something I’d balked at for weeks, would prove to be the ultimate in weed-void repairs.
Most of the music on those cassettes was as I’d expected: lame hippy shit.
But the songs were mellow and sonic and sent my head into orbit, so the tape stayed in the deck.
Then the song began, a song that would change my life: Break on Through by The Doors. My body jolted as the rhythm pulsed and Jim Morrison’s crooning shouts leaped from the speakers and into my ears. The song sent me into the atmosphere, into the stratosphere, across the galaxy and back again. As soon as it ended, I rewound the tape and listened to it again. And again. And again. I listened to that song until my high wore off. And then I listened to it again.
I was desperate to hear more music by the,, so I rummaged through my father’s cassettes, but he didn’t have any tapes by The Doors. Still desperate, and forever broke, I looked in an old cabinet long abandoned by the family. The cabinet, a large wooden box with midget legs and sliding doors, housed my parent’s respective LP collections. I dug through the hundreds of LPs and set a few aside, albums by Hendrix, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, and then, digging through the final dozen or so, I hit it big: among my father’s albums I found not one, not two, but four Doors LPs: their self-titled debut, the Soft Parade, LA Woman, and Other Voices.
Other Voices was crap. It was a post-Morrison catastrophe that I won’t even bother to get into here, but the other albums, oh, the other albums had a permanent effect on me. Here were collections of songs running the gamut from enigmatic—The Crystal Ship, Riders on the Storm—to dark, brooding tours de force—The End, LA Woman, The Changeling.
I listened to those albums over and over, both sober and stoned. While stoned, they affected me psychically; I could feel my brain turning, my thought processes stretching, adhering to the band’s rhythms, copying and retaining Morrison’s imagery and poetics.
At this point in the narrative, I’m sure you’re yelling, saying, “Get the fuck on with it, dickwad. How the fuck did we get onto The Doors, for fuck’s sake? I thought this thing was supposed to be about Jack Kerouac. We’re already more than halfway through this story and you still haven’t hit on Kerouac.” To which I will respond: “My newfound love and passion for The Doors and Jim Morrison led me to attempt to read my first book, No One Here Gets Out Alive, a biography of Jim Morrison by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman.”
In the book, as it detailed young Morrison’s development, it traced his literary influences and detailed how the young Morrison responded to each book and author he devoured. Of these books, one stuck out. It was On the Road by Jack Kerouac—a book I’d never heard of by an author whose surname the fifteen-year-old Daulton didn’t know how to pronounce.
According to Hopkins and Sugerman, Morrison consumed On the Road vociferously, and even took to imitating Dean Moriarty, even down to his cackle.
This, of course, intrigued me. So I abandoned No One Here Gets Out Alive—to this day that book remains mostly unread, even though I still own that copy—and located my old library card—something virtually unused by me up to that point—and rushed to the local library and checked out the book. Although I’d read about it, I still wasn’t certain what it was about. I knew that it was about a man taking a road trip across the country, but I wasn’t familiar with Kerouac or his style, nor did I know that a man could have published what would become a monumental novel that is seemingly devoid of plot.
I had a surplus of free time because I’d recently dropped out of school for reasons I won’t explain other than to say that school was something others did while I was out getting fucked up. So I devoted much of my time to On the Road.
The opening of the novel failed to grab me. Even though this was my first exposure to literature and one of the first real books I tried to read outside of school, I somehow sensed that the first chapter felt hurried and wasn’t fleshed out. Characters’ names were dropped without context or introduction, and the prose flowed in an unusual cadence—it read less like ‘literature’ and more like oral storytelling. I now recognize that Kerouac’s voice in On the Road is closer to Homer than to Hemingway or to Fitzgerald. What Kerouac has in common with Homer is that both authors’ works are meant to be spoken and broken as the reader—also, in Kerouac’s case, the writer—breaks out into impromptu riffs. But then it felt slow, and I wasn’t certain where he, Sal Paradise, the narrator and Kerouac’s avatar, was taking me. Then Sal hit the road. He dared to dream and left, but his dream wasn’t well thought out. He’d intended to take Route Six across the country in a single bound, from New York to Denver to California, but his plans disintegrated and he was stranded beneath an awning hanging over an old gas station in the rain. His plans forced him to take a bus, and he lamented his stupidity. Then the actual road trip began, and this is where Kerouac won me over. As Sal comes into his own as a traveler, the prose switches gears from fragmented exposition to raw energetic proclamations. As Sal traveled and befriended fellow travelers and fell in love and found himself stuck in ruts working shitty jobs trying to get by, I felt what he felt, felt the raw, intense yearning for life, the desire to break the mold, to do something different, to dream, and not to give a fuck about what others—authority figures—thought about my dreams.
I grew increasingly excited as I plowed through the book. The energy of his prose seized me, filled me with dreams similar to Sal’s. I didn’t necessarily want to hit the road at first, but I did want to find myself. I wanted to find myself because, even then, I realized that I was nothing. I had little ambition. I’d always wanted to do something, to be something; at that time I’d dreamt of becoming a world-renowned comic book artist, but Kerouac and his lust for life, and the energy and excitement his prose exuded, changed that. No longer dreaming of becoming an illustrator, I wanted to become a writer. I wanted to live life according to my rules and to live to write about it, to stop living my life only to document what I’d already experienced.
1994 was the most crucial year in my life, and the number fifteen will forever inspire and haunt me. In that year, I lost my grandmother—the first person close to me to die—and developed a fear and obsession with death; I dropped out of school; I began to read and to write; I became an obsessive Kerouac and Jim Morrison freak; and I discovered the wonders of weed. Most of my friends were dropouts or naïve waifs like me, and on any given night you could find us roaming around town, shoplifting or spraying graffiti on walls, mugging other kids and doing whatever it took to score cash to buy some weed. We were always doing something, sometimes stupid and criminal, sometimes more or less innocent, and I’d developed an already-strong memory into a recording device. And when I had downtime—when I was home during the day or night in which my friends and I didn’t get together—I set down on paper, Kerouac-style, our life and crimes and adventures.
I read others in those days but I always came back to Kerouac. I read and re-read On the Road and soon discovered his other books—The Dharma Bums, Tristessa, Big Sur, Desolation Angels, Old Angel Midnight, Lonesome Traveler, to name a few—and devoured all of them, but none affected me the way On the Road affected me. His later novels lacked the energy and the desire to live that made On the Road the novel it is today. The novel still inspires because it is pure and inspired; it expressed more than any of his other works the pre-“King of the Beats”-Kerouac’s unequivocal lust for life.
I tried to convince Lee and Ray to read Kerouac but they were more interested in getting stoned than reading, so our friendship devolved to the point where I couldn’t be around them unless I was stoned. We still had great times together, but I was quickly bouncing past them. I was devouring every book I could get my hands on; I was yearning, like Kerouac, to live, live, live. I didn’t want to sit around and smoke pot. I wanted to smoke pot, don’t get me wrong; I just wanted to go out and experience new things while I did it. I wanted to express my lust for life with as much energy as Kerouac had put into his prose.
My friend Bill Simmons, a kid my age but who was infinitely more experienced than me—he moved and acted and lived and even slightly resembled Neal Cassady, and I often expressed that in amazement—had come back to town after famously disappearing—Bill always disappeared in those days, sometimes for days, sometimes for months or even years, and when he came back he rarely talked about where he’d been or what he’d done.
Bill was, I knew, the moment he returned, my perfect ally: he was intelligent and always desperate to learn and do new things. So I turned him onto The Doors and I turned him onto Kerouac. He and I became best friends and we’d get stoned and read aloud from On the Road and daydream about leaving, about striking out on our own and living life as Kerouac and Cassady, Sal and Dean, had lived.
But something came up. As we aged and made plans to leave, something catastrophic always blew our way and derailed our plans.
In 1999, when Bill and I were twenty-years-old, we sat around talking one night and finally made definitive plans to leave. Stoned, we talked for hours, cramped in his tiny room listening to music, flipping through my beat-up, dog-eared copy of On the Road, and we dreamed.
I was smart enough, or fortunate enough, whatever the case may be, to have scribbled down some of Bill’s conversation that night, on old paper I still have. In addition to writing—sometimes shorthand—what he was saying, he and I typed out a pact and signed it, agreeing to leave that summer, to finally follow Kerouac’s lead—other than writing; to live, live, live.
“its adventure jus u & friends
sittin back cruisin radio blastin friends
lookin behind you watchin your back
jus go—s’pose it does work—s’pose
it is great & you’re afraid to go—imagine
the poetry—& I’m not sayin gone forever
just a bit—if we don’t like it—come
back—but what if we do like it? What
then (looking for atlas)
“my friend daulton the big shit talker
talkin shit all day (finds cigarette pack w/
roach in it, pink floyd playing in bckgrnd.) Aww
man. Aw man! Will you look at that (presents
roach; leaves) I’ll be back (seconds later;
enters) writin somethin good (pause) Hurry
up an write—I wanna talk to you
“I’m jus sayin you got u’r family
you can go home right? Feel like
I’m being dictated…listen…listen look man
Look u know what I did one time
I made a woman cum in my hands—
By convincing her she was somewhere else—
I wanna go—u wanna go—you’re scared—
I’m scared—but guess what (throws a
copy of On the Road) is that true or bullshit
is it—its true in his mind—he was
scared shitless—you’re a puss—not
a bitch—a puss—scared” (leaves)
July 15 1999
Bill & Daulton
On a search
To find the true
I am still intoxicated
We never left.
I found these a few days ago and felt a flutter in my stomach as I read them. It’s been nearly a decade since Bill and I made that pact. In that decade a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. I sometimes wonder if I did Kerouac a disservice by doing as he said—devoting my life to writing—and not as he did—striking on out my own to find my life, to live by my rules.
It’s been years since I’ve read Kerouac, or really even thought about him. On the Road has been in the press lately because this year is the 50th anniversary of its publication. To commemorate its 50th year, Viking published a hardcover commemorative edition and finally released the unedited Scroll Version. So, inspired partly by my rediscovery of my pact with Bill, I’ve decided to re-read Kerouac for the first time in at least seven years. I fell out of favor with Kerouac when I discovered Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Joyce, Lethem and Eggers and Chabon and Foster Wallace. To me, then, having read the masters of old and the current crop of future masters, Kerouac wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. His spontaneous prose method was, I thought, a waste of time and a squandering of the man’s natural talents. But now as I re-read On the Road, I remember who and where I was when I was fifteen, when I first discovered the book, what I thought and what I felt, and simultaneously, I feel that same sense of wonder, of energy and excitement, and even occasionally stop to wonder where my life would be now had Bill and I hit the road. Perhaps we would have failed and wound up back home a few days later. But what if we had succeeded?
Much hype has been given to On the Road over the years, and most of it centers on Dean Moriarty, and how Sal Paradise is simply running around to catch up with his model for a new American hero. As I read the book now, I realize that Dean Moriarty is, at least to me anyway, the least interesting character in the book.
At its heart, On the Road is a classic bildungsroman, a novel about a character, in this case Sal Paradise, coming into his own—spiritually, intellectually, morally. This isn’t a novel about a disparate group of wanderers searching for meaning in a post-war generation generally thought to be devoid of meaning; instead, it’s a novel about a man searching for a simpler life, learning to exist on his own merits and to appreciate the world around him, and to appreciate his place in it. Too, it’s about fun, about living as wild and varied a life as one can live in the time each of us has been allotted on this quivering wheel of meat conception—if I may plagiarize a Kerouac phrase.
The novel won’t change me now as it once did, but it has renewed my appreciation for Kerouac, and it’s renewed my appreciation for my own squandered youth. Every decision I made back then was a bad decision. And for years I’ve dismissed everything I did. Back then, to me, the present meant everything. I didn’t look to the future or consider consequences. I lived for the moment. Inspired by Kerouac, I wanted to hear, taste, and see it all, and while fear and inhibitions prevented me from truly hearing, tasting, and seeing it all, I realize now that the things I missed out on aren’t relevant; only the things I did—for good or ill—matter. Back then, of course, this was a moot point to me. I lived in the moment because the moment was all I had; my future was, as it is with every teenager, an abstraction. But now that the future is here, and now that I look back at my teenage years, as seen, finally, through the lenses of Kerouac’s On the Road, I’m not as ashamed as I should be. So I owe my passion for literature and my desire to write to Kerouac, and it is for that, if nothing else, that I am thankful.
 All names have been changed to protect the innocent.
 Although non-fiction, it should go without saying that all dialogue is simply an approximation of what was actually said. These are old memories and some of them are hazy. I’m doing the best I can, folks.
 This story. There will be others. Consider this the first chapter of a memoir in literature, of sorts.
 A title Kerouac hated.
 Name also changed.
 Perhaps. At least one of the latter four will be remembered as such. Maybe not a master, per se, but an author of classic proportions.