Hugh van Skyhawk

Out of Beaux Arts

And we'll all get in the car again and head for the Beaux Arts to see what's happening, and Bonnie and Linda and Sharen and Patty and Jeanie and Annie and Laura and Celeste and Joni take turns in front of the mirror of my mind putting on their far-out silky clothes and patchouly, and we're making love again in the green grass at Palmetto Point and driving through the night to Sunset Beach to jump into the storm waves with our clothes on, and Stuart Solomon is passing me a joint and turning me on to Fever Tree ("Out there it's summer time, milk and honey days, O San Francisco girls with San Francisco ways..."),

and we stop at a traffic light in Lakeland and a face comes out of the crowd and asks "Have you seen my daughter?". And Jordan says "She's hiding in the trunk of the car", and we speed away. And Tom is showing a film of Kafka's "Trial" with Anthony Perkins, and I see Mescalito coming toward me out of Sue's wide-open eyes and I say Yes, Yes, Yes I will, Yes.

But you are not sure, and so we go upstairs and leave Mescalito on the couch with Joseph K. And there is truth in your sweet breasts and soft thighs, and for a time we are allies and accomplices.With colours flashing I remark "How beautiful your clothes look scattered on the floor with mine", and your sudden kiss sends tremors through a thousand incarnations when we were lovers and I knew your secret name.... 

- Hugh van Skyhawk

Two Sketches of Kerouac, circa 1968

I remember a heart to heart talk with Jack, on the roof of my house on the lake north of Tampa on a balmy night sometime in 1968, shortly before his departure from this world. He suggested that we climb up on the roof to smoke a joint, as this was a relatively sure way of not being surprised by 'unexpected visitors'. As we looked out onto the full moon rising over the moss hung water oaks Kerouac began talking about the similarities and differences between the beat generation and the hippies. At one point he looked me squarely in the eye and said: "It doesn't matter how good you are. They're going to get you in the end." "They" meant the forces of "law and order" and "you" meant all those who dared to live outside the established order (beats, hippies, artists, bohemians, homos, dharma bums, etc.). As you see I remember his words to this day.

The second story is in a lighter vein. Not long after that we met at a party somewhere in north Tampa. I remember Kerouac's friend Clifford Anderson taking me there. Kerouac himself came a bit late and in the company of a young woman who worked as a waitress in a local diner. (I believe it was a "White Castle".). After a while he and his woman companion retired to one of the bedrooms in the apartment, and the party went on without them. After some time I became aware of the loud laughing of a woman. But no one in the room was laughing. The laughter continued and then I heard Kerouac's voice shouting from the bedroom "But I am Jack Kerouac! And I do write novels!" which was answered by the woman's voice interrupted by uncontrollable laughter: "You're not Jack Kerouac! You're just an old drunk!". Thereupon Kerouac came charging out of the bedroom and shouted to Clifford Anderson "Tell her I'm Jack Kerouac!" which Clifford did but to no avail. The woman just couldn't stop laughing. I am sorry I don't know how the encounter ended. But at some point Kerouac went back into the bedroom and closed the door, and eventually the woman stopped laughing. I admit that the anecdotes are ephemera and neither central to Kerouac's life nor to his literature. But I thought you might enjoy them.

- Hugh van Skyhawk

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