Thursday, November 19, 2009

Golden Gate, Golden Slumbers. Dozey Navvie.

Dunno why I threw in a Beatles song title, just seemed to fit.  Anyways apologies to those who've been ignored by myself.  Sorry folks, things get a bit fractured at times but I do still enjoy reading your blogs.  Enough of the soppy crap, back to the U.S.

On the L.A. - Frisco Greyhound I was sat veside some salesman guy.  I quote here from a journal I was keeping at the time.  Remember we're back in 1986, there's no intermaweb, no mobile telephony and the closest you get to a PS3 is a game of Space Invaders in a pinball parlour. From the journal:
"The first bus, LA to SF and I had the misfortune to sit next to a salesman who was forever resorting to cocaine.  The shiftless myopia of his character was adorned by his sojourn in the bus toilet where he relieved his stomach of its dreadful junkfood contents. Throughout the night I was given an account of his recent adventures in Mexico where he managed to make fourteen dollars on a double-handed currency exchange."
Makes me kind of glad I took notes during my travels.  Was I being harsh on this bloke?  Nup.  No way.  I trusts me first impressions and original account.  Okay so I entered the world of Greyhound which I was to frequently dip into over the next few months.  I figured out later that the salesman guy was really doing crack.  It must have made him very ill 'cos he was forever hitting the bus dunny (toilet, loo, crapper).  I managed to saw some logs during the night and as the sun came up I noticed we were passing a wind farm.  There were acres of these wind turbines, a bounceback effect from a globally warmed future.
"Further north the welcome sight of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay drew closer and it was with feelings of relief that I left the coach."  Thanks Mr Journal.
I had a few nights pre-booked at the Holdiay Inn so that's where I went, via taxi.  I checked in just in time for breakfast.  I didn't really feel very hungry so I ordered the smallest meal item, scrambled eggs with bacon.  Once again the portions were generous to a fault.  Back in my room I unpacked, sat Jack next to the TV so I could keep an eye on him and tried to think of what to do next.  My head cold was barely alive so I threw down a tablet and a slug of Jack as a farewell gift for it.  Then I zoned out and sawed logs for a couple of hours.  When I awoke it was mid morning and time for a shower.  After that I wandered around and jumped on a cable car.  This was going to be a fun city.  I checked out the financial district before cable carring back up and then around and down to Fisherman's Wharf. The Bay area reminded me in some ways of Sydney Harbour.  I sort of felt home.  Frisco had a different vibe to L.A.  Its like comparing a decent beer to Coors, or a nasty box wine to a fair Merlot, say a 2006 from the Barossa Valley.  Frisco was mighty fine.
The rest of the day I spent tooling around the city, just drinking it in.  I found myself a cheap pizza joint as a dinner option and on the way back to my hotel visited a liquor shop to get some reinforecements for Jack who'd been looking pretty much used up.  That night I zooed out in front of the teev, nursing the newly replenished Jack, but made an early night of it.  I was knackered.

The morning saw me full of beans, no hangover, head cold or other illnesses so I burst downtown again and sent off letters to a couple of Candian frineds, warning them of my intention to invade their Canuck strongholds and take on Messrs Molsen and Labbatts.  I cheked out the Amex letter drop service to no avail and went on one of those city bus tours again.  The Bay was magnificent this day, a really sparkling sun drenched body languidly resting itself against a contented city in a marriage for the ages.  I ended up downtown in a ribs joint, feasting on flesh and talking to a group of Dutch and Germans.  We talked the usual travellers' talk, swapping notes, places we've been, hints and suggestions and an analysis of beers.  We pretty much agreed that the mainstream American beer like Bud or miller were drinkable, went down easily but they didn't have much kick.  So we adjusted, as any traveller should.  No use dissin' the local brew, just live with it.  Onve again I felt tired and headed back to my hotel, getting an early kip.  I figured out that a combination of jet lag, head cold and my subsequent medications had taken a slight toll on my stamina.

My stamina felt fine when I woke up so I bored into the breakfast buffet and feasted. American breakfasts can be the best in the world and these buffet jobs were well set out.  I had one night left at the Holiday Inn, my last ever proper hotel before I ventured once again into the world of youth hostels.  Once again I jumped cable cars, buses, walked and spent my time checking the place out.  The gardens with their crazy zig-zag road looked very appealing.  If only I had a car.  I rested up in thehotel for an hour or so before hitting the night.  Pizza again then I went bar hopping, or so I thought.  A couple of blocks away from thehotel was a string of bars.  As I looked at one of them something started ringing in my head.  As I approached it a vision of Oxford Street Sydney sprung into mind.  I'd found the gay bar sector of Frisco.  I asked thebouncer at the first one where the gay strip ended and the straight bars could be found.  all this maongst a swirl of pretty boys dressed with gay abandon, frills, make-up and the usual badges of gaydom.  Thebouncer was cool, pointed me in the direction of an English style pub a couple of blocks away.  So that's where I went for a few pints.  It was okay as far as faux-English pubs are concerned and I struck up a conversation with a couple of Melbournians.  They were married and were on the back end of a U.S. holdiay.  Four weeks in a hire car and they'd had a blast.  They'd bridged things up a bit, staying in a mix of good hotels and cheap motels.  They'd spent more in four weeks than my budget  was for four months.  I'm glad they ahd cash because they wouldn't let me pat for a drink.  Thanks Jo, thanks Mick. I hit a couple of more bars on my way back to thehotel but didn't quite get the zoom feeling I was after in a nightspot.  I walked into the hotel, grabbed my room key and wlaked past a hallway with bars on either side.  The first one was dead, the one down the end was slightly more alive so I sat my sorry arse down and ordered a double Jack with a dash of Coke.  I noticed there were a few couples dotted around the place, some were slow dancing to cool vibes, others just keeping each other entertained.  There were also a few singles scattered around but I didn't expect to be cutting up fine in this joint.  I sat back watching a ball game, munching on some pretzels and ordered another Jack, having a casual chat with the barman who quizzed me about Oz.
"I might like one of those".  I turned around to see a curvy, comfortably overweight (not yet in the gross range) African American lassie looking with hopeful eyes at my JD.  What to do?  Was she a hooker or a player?  Oh well, one way to find out.
"Another of those thanks mate" to the barman and
"Allow me" to the girl as I pulled a stool out for her to perch on and make goo goo eyes at me.
Well, she didn't make goo goo eyes but did enjoy the JD and coke.  By the time we'd finished another I'd learned she was divorced, had just moved to Frisco and was a teacher, landing a job in the Fall term, whatever that meant.  Well, what it did mean is that she had plenty of spare time and did some part time work helping organise seminars and doing some minor presenting jobs at places like the Holiday Inn.  A few of that day's participants were at the bar and had invited her for drinks.  At one stage she'd heard an odd accent and decided to find out more about it.  This it was that we were sufficiently introduced and fuelled to start thetouchy stuff.  I rested a hand on a knee (not mine) and felt some fingers lightly dance across my inner thigh.  Ah yes, the call of the wild.
"How about we continue our drinks in a place where I can show you my collection of Drop Bear claws."
"You invitin' me up to your room cowboy?" she caught on quick
"No, we're going down to Selinas and see Mental As Anything." whoosh, straight over her head
"You talk crazy. Let's go to see this mentalist or whatever it is."
Well, we went upstairs where my bar stocks came into their own.  Diane felt like a beer, which was fine.  I had my Millers chilled and ready.  We semi undressed and lay on the bed, draping around each other, slurping on beer, groping to a background of motown classics on the radio and Letterman on the TV.  Hell, I even found some salty snacks which we nibbled off each other.  This gal was fun, especially nekkid. We romped, played chasings, laughed,  sang along to the music, did some slow dancing,  and now and then simply screwed. Bythe time we crashed out we'd gone through a couple of beers each, a half bottle of Jack and a months worth of sex.

In the morning when we woke I used the bathroom and had a shower.  Ended up Diane wanted a shower at the same time.  We made ourselves clean and dirty at the same time.  Back in bed we collapsed again, grinning at each other.  Then I remembered I  had to check out that morning.  When?  I was laready past ten o'clock check out.  I called up the desk and booked in for another night.
"That's the last of your voucher entitlement sir, enjoy the rest of your stay."  Woo hoo!  I'd miscalculated my voucher. I wouldn't have to pay for the extra night.  You bloody little ripper!  I excalimed my delight and rolled on top of Diane to celebrate my good fortune.  We eventually were interrupted by room service who wanted to clear our mess.  Win on top of win.  I could steer Diane out for a while and come back to a clean room with fresh sheets.
After we got our clothes on we walked outside.  We went to a nearby cafe and sat down to talk.  She was going to Sausalito later that day for a few days with some relatives, so we only had a few more hours together, if I felt like the company.  I thought back to the previous night and the fun we'd had, especially the laughter so I told her yes, company would be a fine thing.
She left close to dinner time so I mournfully made my way to a local pizza place and had a quick bite before hitting the same bart again.  I wlaked in and the barm,an asked me how I'd gotten on so I told him "until about an hour ago".  I loaded up with a JD, had a beer chaser and checked out tonight's attractions.  All of a sudden it seemed sleazy and dull.  There was no laughter, just a few people looking around, waitying for something to happen.  I downed my beer, feeling tired, cheap and in need of a good sleep.  back in my room Diane's scent still lingered.  Jack still sat next to the teev, inviting me to have one more.  Okey dokey, slurp, ice , more slurp and a dash of coke.  And a baseball game!  Win.  Watched a few innings then crashed, smiling.

Okay,  time to demolish breakfast, pack up , check out and head to the hostel.  I really tried to out eat my fellow diners but by jingies they were good on the fang.  I was outclassed even though I though I was a good eater.  These people would get a large stack of panckaes, have french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and hash browns.  I dipped me lid after a more chaste serving of, short stack, eggs and bacon and ojay.  i was stuffed.  Then it was a cab out to the hostel overlooking the Bay and reserve a room.  Did all that then saw a notice on the board asking for people to share a hire car and go on a tour of the Napa Valley winereies the next day.  That was me straight in.  What a brilliant idea.  I check out the names on the list - Marion (Melbourne) and Caroline (U.K.).  Yep, could be interesting.  But that was the next day so I wenty down to Fishermand Wharf and chilled out in the sun.  I was really getting a groove on for Frisco, it was like a lost relative who suddenly crops up and they end up being an immediate hit with all of their cousins, part of the family crew and an automatic invitee to the family gigs.

In the early evening I ventured out of the hostel and to a pub called the Rose and Thistle.  I encountered a bloke from Cronulla who was in the final days of his three month backpacking jaunt around North America so Idecided to help him celebrate his survival.  We talked the usual crap and I updated him on how the Cronulla Sharks were crap and The Canterbury Bankstoiwn Bulldogs were aces.  We didn't come to blows but we quickly had to find common ground so that was the generakky crap nature of the Australian cricket team.  It was a fine old night but we had to get back so as not to break curfew and I hadn't done any research on how to crack the place open after hours.

After breakfast our intrepid crew which now included Alan (Irish but living in SF) ventured to Rent A Wreck to get a Dodge Colt.  My thinking was that Caroline, the organiser was going to be the driver.  Nup, not old enough.  Neither was Marion and Alan simply dodged the issue.  Fucking dozey navvie.  This was to be the first time I ever drove in North America.  On. The. Wrong. Side. Of. The. Road.  After signing the forms which absolved wrent a wreck of any guilt in my murderous attempt to drive a left had drive car on the right hand side of the road in the midst of a big fucking city like Frisco.  I took a couple of deep breaths, thought longingly of my bottle of Jack sitting hiddne at the hostel, lit up a Winston and jumped in the car.  Then got out and went around to the driver's seat. this was frightening.  But hell, its just a car, has a steering wheel , brakes, accerator, auto shift, radio and two fine looking girls to impress (plus one dozey fucking navvie).
I started her up, drove out the car lot and onto the rright hadn side of the road;
"See, no worries ladies.  Smooth as silk."  At the next corner I had to turn right.  Yikes!  Into the right hand side you buffoon!
"Just foolin' yez!  No danger.  Someone look up the map, we need to head over the Golden Gate and you'll need to direct me onto the correct exit."  Always delegate tasks, makes you look as if you know what you;re doing.  In the meantime I was simply sticking behind other cars with minimal lane swapping.  We made it over the Golden Gate and I got the right exit for heading to the Napa Valley.  Fuck I needed a drink and as we passed through some really picturesque countryside we were abuzz.  Except for the dozey fucking navvie.  We did a tour of half a dozen vineyards, me tasting as much as I could to make the drive back as painless as possible.  Sure, it might get a bit swervy but my nerves would be fine.  It was a grand day and the girls were great company.  Alan, the fucking navvie, was a total waste of space.  No spark, just dullard demeanour and dozey attitude.

On the way back we stopped in at Mini Wood which had the vestiges of the original Red Wood forest including one of those big fuck-off trees, the sort you could live in if you felt so inclined.  Should have left Alan in one of them.  We toured back through Sausilito, a pretty little fishing village which was at the time housing one Diane.  I drove around trying to catch a glimpse but it was a forlorn hope.  The girls were interested in what I was up to and thought it quite romantic.  Good, I'd have to play on that later.  We got back to Frisco and I drove down the gardens on that crazy zig zag street.  Fuck it was fun, trying to gun a Colt down a zig zag track.  We then headed around to Fishermans Wharf and had beer and pizza.  By this stage I had early hangover symptoms and was feeling the stress of my first day driving on the wrong side.  My bad side came out and snapped at Alan.  Called him a couple of things like being a dozey, needy navvie.
He got upset, the girls got upset and I piled them all into the car and drove Alan home.  He didn't even invite us in for a coffee or a beer.  Dozey fucking navvie.  I drove thegirls back to the hostel where I accosted them in the lounge room over illict JD in coffee mugs.  Uncivilised I know.  They both gave me a hug and a kiss, with Caroline starting to warm things up before pushing away, looking at me and asking about the girl in Sausilito.  Duck me fed, things get complimicated at times don't they?  We walked outside and did a bit of canoodling but that's all that happened.  She felt a bit unnerved by the whole thing.  I jsut reckon it was all the fault of The Dozey Fucking Navvie!  If he'd driven I could have made some moves.  Dozey. Fucking. Navvie.

Next time we venture further north, via Eel River.  See yez round like a rissole!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

LA Cockleroaches and Cheap Dives

L.A. is a great big freeway.
Put a hundred down and buy a car.
In a week, maybe two, they'll make you a star
Weeks turn into years. How quck they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas

Thanks Dionne, how true.

I packed up my gear and vacated the Holiday Inn and caught a bus to the inner east of L.A.  The area was cheap, well suited to my budget.  The hotels were even cheaper.  The first one I scoped out of a budget guide to the U.S. was, from a faded and failing memory, about ten bucks a night.  I went up to the guy at the desk and asked to see a room.  He handed me a key so off I trudged.  The hotel may have been something good at some stage of its life but it was a busted up slut of a place when I visited.  The room I checked out was mainly clean, had an ensuite bathroom, TV and fridge.  Sounds great dunnit?  Well folks I walked into the bathroom, the toilet was clean as was the shower recess. But. The. Wall.  There'd been a pretty fucked up paint job over some bloodsatins. Nasty fuckin' drippy, pooly, splatty things which probably once spelled out Redrum.  Cool you say?  Yeah, very cool as were the three Balmain Butterflies playing with each other in the corner  They were having a fantastic time measuring me up for sustenance.  They weren't as big as the roaches you get in Sydney but they looked nastier.  They looked like the sort of insects which carry switchblades and know blokes called Guido Garotte and Sammy Sawnoff.  I thought it would be great to look back on having stayed there, fantastic recollections of my time in sleazeville but I wasn't really into making grunge memories a happenin' thang.  Not at that stage anyway.  I went back and handed the desk drummer the key with a "No thanks" thrown in.  He asked me why so I told him about the three freeloaders in the bathroom not paying any rent and the botched up paint job.  Or was it just art?  Nup, it was a dodgy fix in a dodgy hotel and it weren't my style of dodgy thanks very much.

The next on the list was a few blocks away and was listed as having a supermarket attached.  Sounded okay so I walked in.  This time the clerk was pretty cool, took me to a room and pointed out the basics.  It looked clean, no roaches and had the requisite bathroom, TV, fridge and a fair bed.  A hunnert for the the week. I looked around, the supermarket had closed down a few months before due to being squeezed out of business.  The lobby was respectable, there was a dining room but no bar.  I handed over an Amex Travellers cheque for the ton, grabbed my key and said hello to my new home for the week.  Uncle Jack was still half full so he sat on the sideboard next to a good sized tumbler.  I unpacked, set myself up, threw down a few cold tablets, the sort which had pseudo-ephidrine and washed them down with a good slug of Jack. Zingedy zing-zing, we're back in town!  Next item on the menu was food.  I went out for a brisk stroll, feeling the medication zap me well and good.  A block away I found a market, grabbed some food things, a six-pack of Miller, some Coke, salty snacks, ojay, and a pack of Camel filters.  Lickety split back to divedom where I unloaded my shopping, took another slug of Jack and a cold tab and headed out looking for a feed place.  Not too far away was a Greasy Joe's which advertised steak dinner for four bucks.  I ordered and was pleasantly surprised by how it hadn't been badly cooked.  The fries were generous and the salad stuff fresh.  Not bad.  I made a mental note to give Joe's brewakfast a go the next morning.  For there to be a morning after there has to be a night before so I went looking for a watering hole.  The first one I walked into was full of Latino guys looking macho and watching a soccer game broadcast on a Spanish speaking channel.  A lot of surly looks in my direction led me to  pretend that the door was a revolving one.  A block or so further up was a cheaper than Cheers type place and when I walked in I only got a couple of dirty looks.  Well, that was good enough for me so I parked my self at the bar and ordered a draught, asking to run a tab, putting a ten buck note down in front of me. The bar guy nodded sagely with the hint of a smile as he pushed the glass onto a beer mat and slipped a piece of paper on the counter below serving level, where he made the first of many marks.

There was a lot of curiosity about how the fuck an Aussie tourist was sitting in a cheap bar in East L.A. watching soccer on TV and sprouting all sorts of crap.  The silly barman had asked where I was from, thinking I was a Limey.  He'd then started asking me about the Wide Brown Land and a few of the other bar flies chipped in with their own inquisitions.  Tweren't long before I was teaching them our native lingo, Strine, and checking out their wimmin folk. I had to slip into my faux American accent a few times to be understood and found that it was becoming easier to speak like that the more I heard them talk.  The TV was tuned into a baseball game before too long and the barman brought out some bar snacks.  Happy Hour kicked in and my head was soon kicking off.  Too many cold tablets.  I was drinking Miller so I wasn't getting hammered at all.  Their regular strength beer seemed about half the strength of Aussie brews so it was smooth sailing. The  bar crew I'd joined up with was Eddy, Steve, Felipe, Jean, Roberta, and Alissa.  The singles were Alissa, Steve, Eddy and myself.  The odds were two to one against but I started pitching anyway.  To straighten out my noggin I switched to Jack, me old mate.  Cheers boys and gals!  After a couple of those free pour style I'd settled into a nice little fugue.  Well, Brain had anyway, I was still pitching at Alissa.  Despite my best drunken Aussie efforts she left on her own.  Jean gave me a tip,
"Be here on Friday night, handsome."  The guys shook their heads and laughed in that rueful way practiced by blokes who recognise hit and miss tactics when they see them.  Through the enveloping mist of L.A. bar life I realised that I hadn't tipped since the first round.  I asked the bar bloke to add up my tab and pulled a couple more twenties to show I meant business.
"Fifteen bucks."  I looked amazed which he took the wrong way, frowning.  I quickly interjected,
"Thought it'd be more like fifty."  I'd been wrongly thinking that drinking in cheap places in the U.S. would still cost plenty.  I was wrong,  very, delightfully, wrong.
I laid a twenty on the bar covering the tab and the tip and told him I'd see him again real soon.  Eddy and Felipe came outside with me, making sure there no undesirables around.  To me, that was for show, but I appreciated it.  These people were the real deal.  Working stiffs who enjoyed a boisterous drink, a ball game and salty snacks.  They didn't bullshit too much and had given me some good tips about their country.  Particularly about bars.  If people are mainly drinking bottled beer, stear clear of the draught.  If there's a lot of good bar snacks on offer then tip extra.  Don't use overly crap lines on chicks in bars, in fact with my accent, they'll probably be the start up pitchers anyway.  Thanks guys, see ya on Friday.  Now where the fuck did I leave my hotel room?  Must be back at the hotel.  But where the fuck was that?  L.A.  Thanks Therbs, nice answers but stop being a fucking smart arse and sort yourself out.  I looked up the road and then down the road, only to see Steve having a chuckle at my expense.
"You lost, buddy?"
"No mate, but my hotel is.  The fucker was here a moment ago and now its fucked off.  Bastard of a thing!"
"I wouldn't walk back there guy, a cab'll cost you five bucks at most with tip.  Don't give the fucker any more than that."
"Cheers Steve, thanks mate.  I'll buy you a beer on Friday."
"See ya, buddy.  Sleep well."
I hailed the next cab, showed him the key tag with the hotel name and pointed straight ahead.  Which meant that we then did a u-turn and within a short drive I was in front of cheapsville USA.  I handed the cabbie a fiver and waved bye-bye.  He said thanks and drove off.  Back in my room I turned on the TV and found Letterman.  He was crash testing appliances off the top of a building.  This was back in his early years when he was younger, rougher, took more risks and had fewer interns to Clintonise.  Jack was looking at me from the sideboard, teasing me, challenging me in that playful way I knew so well.
"You're a real fucking charmer aren't you Jack?  Well there's gonna be less of you now."
I poured a healthy slug into the tumbler on top of some chunks of ice.  Then added another slurp.  Topped it off with some Coke and tasted it.  Yes.  Perfection.  I got into my shorts and t-shirt and slouched on the bed, watching Letterman go through his paces. It was the first time I'd seen him and was impressed.  I then started thinking about where I was and what I should really be doing.  Sightseeing.  Yeah, sure.  I'll do some tomorrow, starting off with the greasy Joe's breakfast, followed maybe by a visit to Rodeo Drive or Hollywood.  That was enough thinky shit for that night.  I went to sleep well pleased with myself.  I was boozed up, had met some decent folk and maybe had a chance at one of the local beauties on Friday night.

Greasy Joe's breakfast special was a small stack (butter and maple syrup) with a side order of bacon, toast, ojay and coffee for three-fiddy.  Once again the small stack required the hire of a scaffolding gang to hold the thing up so I fed well, stacking it on to save on lunch.  My cold symptoms were prettyuu much reduced to an occasional sneeze.  I like to thank the likes of Jack Daniels or Bundaberg Rum for my epic cold cures.  I was proven right again.  Its a case of attacking the thing with generous amounts of good spirit and maybe some ojay.  Another ingredient is greasy food.  You also need to make sure you drink enough water to let your innards clean out the bad stuff.  After breakfast I caught a bus downtown and lobbed onto a sightseeing bus.  L.A. in a day seemed good enough to me.  It was one of those voucher jobs where you jump on and off as you please, the voucher lasting the day.  It gave me a good opportunity to see all the main things like, Hollywood,  Rodeo Drive, Sepulveda, the studios, the Hollywood sign, the walk of fame with all the dabs of the stars set in concrete and all that sort of shite.  Glad I saw it but wasn't going to explore it too much.  I did eventually go back to Rodeo Drive and do some people watching but Hollywood was a bust.  Was not impressed.  I did like "The Ol' Chinne Thee-ate-er" as one old gent called it.  The Red Carpet wasn't out so I was going home.  I spent a few days like this, getting on buses and checking shit out but just never quite got into the L.A. vibe.  Another visit out to the beach was fun but it still seemed unreal, fake.  Before I left L.A. I had one Friday night back at the bar.

After having sold my soul to a few different bars around L.A. I went back to the first and in my mind the best.  The others were mix'n'match, sterile sorts of places for businessmen having a sharpie on the way home.
The Bell Bar seemed like home away from home.  Steve, Felipe, Jean, Eddy. Alissa and Roberta were there on Friday night when I walked in freshly showered with clean (and pressed) clothes.  They cheered me all the way to the bar where I set up a tab.  The barman, Jeff, pulled out a cold Corona for me.  First time for everything so I downed half of it, held  up the bottle and sang,
"Mah mah mah mah mah mah My Corona!"
Just call me cheap and cheesy 'cos that what I was.  I got a few laughs but I knew not to push it too much.  I asked Jeff about the Corona and he told me that he got it cheap from some guys he knew.  Fair ebloodynough.  He was charging the same as  a mug of draught for it and it was heaps better.  It also seemed to have a familiar kick to it, like the beer I'd been brought up on.  Good.  I now knew what I was dealing with and it was tasty.  It was a grand night.  We played darts, watched some baseball, danced to some old kickin' rock classics and I even twirled Alissa around the floor to "L.A. Woman."  Not really relevant except in the title.  Alissa wasn't alone and she didn't have the blues.  I s'pose I wasn't "Mr Mojo Risin'" either.
I was still being quizzed a lot about Australia and then about Europe so I told them about some of the things which happened when I'd been ratsacking around in previous overseas sorties.  They were disappointed in how Americans were viewed by other people and I went into how us Aussies as tourists aren't necessarily the best ambassadors for our country either.  Some of the crap dished up by my fellow countrymen to various cities around the world is best left hidden under the carpet if at all possible.  At the last, just deny all knowledge.  Say it was most likely a bunch of Kiwis or Seth Efrikens.  This bit of ratting on drunken bogans didn't seem like treason at all to me.  I thought it may feel like it but, nup.  An idiot is an idiot no matter the language they speak or the accent they drape it in.  At this stage I was draping mine in a big boxing kangaroo.  There was one important point as well to this laying bare of the national soul.  It got Alissa hooked in.  By the time I'd settled my tab (thirty bucks including tip) she was hooked onto my arm.  I said my goodbyes to the gang with a promise to see them the next day before heading north.  North to San Francisco and beyond.  Via Greyhound.  That was going to be fun.  Not.

So I asked Alissa if she wanted to come and stay the night at chateau de sleaze.  She agreed.  We cabbed it there and by the time we ended up in my room our clothes were flying in all directions.  It was like some sort of sexual washing machine action.  After a little while we settled down and stopped acting like excited teenagers.  I poured a couple of tumblers of my ice, Jack ' coke throat soother, lit up Winstons for two and we stretched back on the bed, still slightly clothed but comfortably bound together by intertwined limbs.  It was a mighty fine evening.

We slept in till about ten, well sort of slept anyway.  I took her to Joe's for the day's breakfast special - a big plate of ham and eggs with french toast on the side.  Outside of Joe's we said a passionate but temporary goodbye.  I had to pack, reserve a seat on Greyhound and hit the Bell Bar one last time.  I did all that.  The farewells were fine and fond, but Alissa's was a bittersweet moment.  I'd had these before and knew what was coming so I braced myself with a pre-poured double slug of Jack.  Before long I was a little misty eyed as a cab took me from the bar to the Greyhound depot. It was getting dark as the driver pulled up and as I settled the fare plus tip he advised,
"Don't stop, don't walk slow just move quickly into the main terminal.  Holy shit!  Look at these whackos will ya?  Jesus!"
That sounded really encouraging and as I stepped out and hitched my pack I noticed what he meant.  Outside the Greyhound terminal was a pack of scurvy looking sharks waiting for some fresh meat. I strode purposefully forward, not looking askance, and ignoring any pleas for money, smokes, change, food, whatever.  I got inside with twenty minutes before drive-off, checked in, got a seat assignment and waited.  I had to get used to this 'cos I there were a few more months of it to go.  But first, San Francisco here we come!