Jack was exhausted. He sat on the stage, under the heat of the blinding lights, trying his best to put on a good public face. But it was too hard. And come to think of it, he didn't care. What did he have to lose anyway? He looked over at his interviewer with teeth as bright as the lights, pale blue Italian blazer, and presidential hair... out of what womb are these men born? The interviewer was sharp, with edges that glistened, and a criss-crossing style that made mince-meat of Jack's empathetic groans. He knew they were killing him but he submitted like a Buddha fat from the harvest. Let them have their fun. I have exploded thousands of times above the horn rimmed glasses of the milk fed, letting my embers shower down over the picnic blankets and into the wet wine mouths of heated up high schoolers. I have made Americans in Iowa croon for the somnambulist sounds of Mizzipi and the walking dead of New York give credence to that ineffable garden out West. I gave them my years and I want nothing in return. What was, is now is, and that my friends..... is the best I'm gonna give ya. He skooched back in his chair and let the murmuring of the interviewer continue.
"Are a significant number of Americans precisely at an age when we enunciated the great society..."
That voice rattled in his head like a hangover. The shark was talking about Americans, hippies, this younger generation that moved along the streets of San Francisco with their placards, and their rights, and their demands. Communists. Most of em. But good kids. They want a just society and who can blame em? But they all have those peevish wimps leading them on, like Lawrence. Ironic really. The tight wads leading the flock and the world putting us together in a hot cross bun. A delicious bun. Maybe it was the great societies food? Paw! He laughed out loud. "No great society!" he guffawed to the shark.
"ie. the society that was actually going to produce politics as well as everything..."
Jack blurts out" As far as I'm concerned," but the shark cuts him off.
"are they disillusioned and does this have to do with the growth of the hippie movement?"
Disillusioned? Of course they are. Everyone is disillusioned. That's being an American. Sad and naff in the dew. Jack went on,
"In the first place, I think the Vietnameese war is nothing but a plot between the north Vietnamese and the south Vietnamese who are cousins to get jeeps in the country." He threw his hand up in the hair. Let them eat that bun. Lawrence. The audience laughed uncomfortably. Man, he was drunk. He knew his joke had a mean spirit in it and well, he felt mean. What was he doing up here anyway? He had written it all down. The words are there.
Sometimes, you just can't get them what they want. Sometimes, you know, you have to work. The spirit of America isn't there for you on a tv tray. You have to put some miles under your shoes, feel the rough skin of the the great lump between Cheyenne and Normal, and let the cold wind blowing from the back of a pick-up truck envelope you. There is a sweetness out there like that on a drunkards lips. Taste it if you can.
He felt himself nodding off.