“Americans for the Preservation of the White Race”

Somewhere around in there I made it easier for Ginny to convince herself that I was at least going to be a writer someday by taking off to go get things to write about. Around the first week of July or so, I hitchhiked down to Mexico, over to New Orleans and up through Mississippi to New York, thinking I might find some stuff to write about along the way…so I could write some god damn books and get rich and famous like Scott Fitzgerald and Ginny could be Zelda to her heart’s content.

In Tijuana, I got thrown in jail along with some guy I’d gotten a ride from. We’d left his car and his wallet on the U.S. side and had walked across the border. He had a lot of money and a nice car — a little yellow Porsche. He was worried that his car might get stolen or he might get robbed. A cab driver was showing him pictures of naked Mexican girls. Plain clothes Mexican police arrested both of us. I was just standing there, not doing a darn thing. I barely got a glimpse of any of the pictures. We ended up in the Tijuana jail. There was feces all over the floor.

A drunk Marine from Camp Pendelton grabbed a drunk Mexican by the back of his shirt, picked him up from one of the benches and threw him into the shit on the floor. Then the drunk Mexican got up and grabbed the drunk Marine by the back of his uniform and threw him into the shit on the floor. That happened a few more times. They were both so wasted it looked like it was all in slow motion. As soon as the Mexican got comfortable on the bench, just as he was about to pass happily into oblivion, the Marine managed to pick him up by the back of his shirt and throw him down into the shit again. I leaned against a wall and watched.

After a while one of the guards let me out and walked with me down to an interview room. There were kids sticking their hands out toward me from between the bars of their cells — big-eyed Mexican kids who looked like they hadn’t done anything wrong, either. A Police Lieutenant threw my comb into a trashcan and turned me loose. I walked back across the border, found the guy’s car, got his wallet from under the seat, and went back to the Tijuana jail and bailed him out. He was grateful. I could have left him there. I had his car keys. I had his wallet. I could have taken them both and split. I didn’t. Whether that was worth writing about or not, I didn’t know.

I liked being on my own, being free — having no money and only what clothes I was wearing, standing in a hot desert as it was starting to cool off, with no cars coming from either direction and a huge orange moon rising above the horizon. The sun went down. The moon came up. A prairie dog barked. Nobody expected anything. I had no one to worry about but myself.

In Yuma, Arizona, I shoveled horseshit from one pile of horseshit to another pile of horseshit to make some money to get something to eat. In Texas, a trucker put his hand on my dick. I was asleep. I’d been having a dream about this cute little Mexican chick at the diner where I’d spent most of the money I’d made shoveling horseshit. She was going to come with me to New Orleans, but didn’t. Whether that was worth writing about or not, I didn’t know. Maybe so.

In Jackson, Mississippi, three guys in a red pickup thought I was a freedom rider. I wasn’t. They were members of an organization called “Americans for the Preservation of the White Race.” One of them held a shotgun under my chin. He held it steadily, like he’d done it before. I told them in my best Southern drawl that I was on my way up to Memphis, looking for work. I was all for Negroes being able to eat at white restaurants and drink from white drinking fountains and go to school with white kids and not get themselves lynched every five seconds, sure, but the way I figured it was that Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy were doing a fine job of fixing all that. I simply did not see how getting my head blown off would have helped. The guys in the pickup dropped me off at the north end of town. That might have been worth writing about, but I doubted it.