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May 10, 1958

The Dodge bounced down Route 82 the next afternoon like a squeaky supernova. Liz was half turned next to me, getting an earful of Kerouac from the back seat and sharing his bottle of cheap chablis. I did all the driving because as Jack put it, “I’d rather watch someone at the wheel than use one.” Either way, we were off to find the “it” of our murder case.

“I can tell you things and show you things,” Kerouac told us last night after the Co-Existence Bagel poetry party. He was jazzed about helping us with the murders, but downright bebopped over my made-up baseball poem. It made sense. Jack was a huge baseball fan, and a few years ago created a whole fantasy game using hand-drawn cards and fictitious teams. I know this because he pulled a set out of his coat and showed them to us while we were driving. “I’m partial to the Boston Fords, but I think the New York Chevvies will edge out the Philly Pontiacs for the pennant,” he said. Now a made-up fantasy baseball game has to be the nuttiest thing I’ve ever heard of, but Jack could sure write so I cut him some slack.

Liz didn’t have that much interest in the cards, goo-goo-eyeing him the whole way and purring over and over how much she dug On the Road.

“Got a new one coming out this October,” he said. “Not sure what I’m calling it yet, but I kind of like The Dharma Cats. Liz then made the mistake of asking what dharma was, making the next 20 miles a traveling Kerouac seminar on all things Buddhist. I finally interrupted to ask where the hell we were exactly going.

“Faith in time, brother. Faith in time.” He handed me the last wine glug, told me to stop at the next liquor store we saw. I wasn’t too keen on that, said as much, and he sulked a bit until we got onto Highway 101.

“Yeah! All be humble now. We’re on royalty!”
“We’re on what?”
“El Camino Royal! The Royal Road. Connects every mission from Sonoma all the way down San Diego way. Didn’t you see the sign and the little bell over it? Used to be over 450 of those little ding-dongs.”
“Again…Where are we going?”
“See the way I sauce it, your killer-man’s gotta be wack-crazy, right? Definitely not cool enough for ‘Frisco.”
“Trust me, Jack,” said Liz, “There’s plenty of crazies in that city.”
“Friendly ones, maybe. Ones without beds, without coins, without food, happy to lay under the Dippers surrounded by gutter piss and drink their lives down the toilet, all the time wishing they’d done that thing, that supreme thing that could’ve saved them, saved them from watery soup and holy garments of stink, saved them from—”
“HEY!” I shouted, “Where. The hell. Are we going?”
He looked at me with a blank face for a moment, then just shrugged, waved a hand at the windshield. “Down 101 about 60 miles. Got a feeling about a place.” He winked and grinned at Liz, who I was convinced would follow him to Death Valley and under the sand if he asked her.

* * *

We got off Highway 101 past Redwood City. Headed up a twisty mountain road in the direction of the Pacific. “He’s an isolated guy, right? Has to be. Probably likes it. Makes me think he’s up in the wild here.”
“Oh,” spoke up Liz, looking a little green on the narrow road. “So you’re saying we’re going to wherever, just because you have a hunch.”
“My hunches are always worth it, baby.”

We stopped for early dinner at a mountain eatery that served buffalo burgers. Kerouac gobbled down two. Liz and I ate chicken sandwiches real slow to settle our innards, and then we hit the road again. It was getting dark. After another 45 minutes of hairpin turns Jack finally said we should stop at the next trail sign.

“The answer’s up here. It’s always up here.”
“So you’ve been on this trail?”
“Hell no.”

I’m about as comfortable in the woods as a lobster in a pot, but the route to the top of this peak was certainly a nice change from the smell of the sidewalks. Besides, it was Liz’s crackbrained idea to take Kerouac up on this little day trip in the first place. Meaning at least I could blame it on her later.

The sun had just set when we reached the top. Our new friend pointed out Half Moon Bay off to the north, slightly covered in evening fog. Stars were filling the sky overhead, an absolute planetarium just for us. Kerouac was ecstatic. Pulled a bottle of Hiram Walker out of his back jean pocket we didn’t even know he had. took a big sip, handed it off to Liz and lit a cigarette.

“Figure it out yet?”
“Huh?”
“Your baseball-killer. Know how to get him?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“We thought you were showing us where he was, Jack. We thought you knew something, maybe even a Save the Pointer. You sure as hell told us as much.”

“No sir I didn’t. I said I know things. And I do know things. I’ve been to more places on this heavenly continent than the two of you could ever dream of. I know what makes men cry and wail and bleed and screw and yeah, even kill. It’s the darkest of dark places and there’s always a reason, Snappy. Always a reason. Feel that dark soul of his the way this sky and these stars and that ocean down there’s feeling you, brother. Crawl inside that evil skin of his and find that evil reason and you got him stone cold, yes sir you do…Okay! Let’s head back.”

He pocketed the brandy, started back down the trail. Liz and I wanted to put on our evil skins and kill him right there.

A half hour later, we took a wrong turn and got helplessly lost. The fog shot over the mountain making the trail all but vanish. We had to find a shallow cave to spend the night freezing and cursing in. Kerouac just slept like a baby, cradling his brandy bottle.

“Look at it this way,” said Liz, her teeth chattering. “If we make it down the mountain alive, I’ll have a hell of a story for the Examiner.”

THE SKINNYS

L.A. 003 020 000 – 5 9 1
S.F. 210 023 00x – 8 8 0
W-McCormick L-Birrer HRS: Neal, Demeter, Kirkland GWRBI-Kirkland
Can’t believe I missed this game to call in sick, skip town and get lost on a trail with a crazy flash in the pan writer. The Dodgers come back again, take the lead on a homer by Snider-sub Don Demeter, before Koufax crumbles and Babe Birrer serves up a Willie Kirkland meatball with two aboard in the 8th.

CHI 000 140 200 1 – 8 13 1
STL 111 000 301 0 – 7 10 1
W-Elston L-Martin HRS: Thomson, Musial-2, Moon GWRBI-Thomson
Sam Jones is putt-putting along with a 3-0 lead when the Cubbies get a Bobby Thomson grand slam in the 5th to take the lead. Wally Moon ties it with a pinch blast off Elston in the 9th but Thomson strikes a game-winning triple in the 10th. These Cubbies are proving to be far more lethal than anyone expected, and they’ve tied the Braves for first!

CIN 100 000 200 – 3 5 0
MIL 000 000 010 – 1 3 0
W-Schmidt L-Willey HRS: Bailey, Roach GWRBI-Crowe
Two straight for the Redlegs over the first-placers! This time Willard Schmidt bamboozles the Milwaukeeans, and Ed Bailey’s 2-run shot in the 7th ices it.

PHI 000 000 000 – 0 3 0
PIT 000 220 01x – 5 8 0
W-Kline L-Roberts HRS: Hall, Skinner, Clemente GWRBI-Hall
Power from three sources and suffocating pitching by Ron Kline give the Bucs a nice bounceback win.

WAS 000 000 001 – 1 6 0
NYY 001 203 00x – 6 9 0
W-Larsen L-Kemmerer HRS: Aspromonte, Mantle, Siebern GWRBI-Larsen
Yawn.

BOS 000 000 000 – 0 3 2
BAL 000 040 00x – 4 7 1
W-Portocarrero L-Bowsfield GWRBI-Portocarrero
He throws shutouts, and now he’s singling in runs. The amazing Arnie Portocarrero spins his third whitewash of the year and drops his ERA down to a league-leading 0.42. Boston can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a Studebaker right now, drop percentage points below Cleveland into sixth place.

K.C. 010 100 010 – 3 8 1
DET 021 001 02x – 6 8 0
W-Hoeft L-Garver SV-Susce HRS: Smith, Lopez, Harris GWRBI-Harris
Lots of bad pitching by both sides, but the A’s hurlers are badder. Frank Bolling’s 2-run triple in the 8th starts the winning festivities at Michigan and Trumbull.

CLE 310 031 001 – 9 15 0
CHX 000 000 103 – 4 12 1
W-Narleski L-Wynn HRS: Doby, Wertz-2, Avila, Ward, Phillips GWRBI-Doby
Only a 9th inning collapse by Narleski keeps this from being a total rout. Early Wynn goes to bed early as the Tribe wampums him for three of their five jacks in five innings of “work”.

National League through Saturday, May 10

Chicago 13 10 .565
Milwaukee 13 10 .565
Pittsburgh 13 12 .520 1
Philadelphia 11 11 .500 1.5
San Francisco 12 12 .500 1.5
Los Angeles 11 13 .458 2.5
Cincinnati 10 12 .455 2.5
St. Louis 9 12 .429 3

American League through Saturday, May 10

New York 18 7 .720
Baltimore 17 8 .680 1
Chicago 13 11 .542 4.5
Detroit 13 13 .500 5.5
Cleveland 13 14 .481 6
Boston 12 13 .480 6
Kansas City 9 16 .360 9
Washington 6 19 .240 12
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