Aftermath and Conclusion

The small crowd that had stood witness to Jim's recitatation of The Declaration of Independence shuffled back to the bar and wherever else they'd come from but not before one particularly sensitive young lady, seeing how the afternoons events had parched us, offered he and I a nice, crisp ten-dollar bill and her best wishes, both of which were appreciated. The best wishes were filed away with the host of "good lucks", "gitterdones", "God blesses" and other unspendables one collects on the streets and the ten-spot was employed in the aquisition of a pint of Taaka and a pouch of Bugler, two things one never seems to have enough of on the streets. Don't misread me here, a sincere best wish is priceless and can move me to tears under some circumstances but it seems, perhaps because we are so driven by our carnivorous, animal natures, that something you can crinkle in your hands, something you can pour down your throat, something you can watch burn and draw smoke from of is more immediately satisfying than something you can turn over-and-over in your heart like a delightful little flame on a cold night, and besides, me and Jim were alcoholics, remember? So we mulled-over the well wishing as we stumbled from the liquor-store headed for...someplace.
On the far end of the Roasting Company parking-lot is the pedestrian-bridge slash freeway overpass that crosses State Street just this side of the train station. If you are minding your pees-and-cues you can stand there beside the steps and drink to your hearts-content without fear of being caught and that's exactly what we had in mind until a civilian on a bicycle came whizzing over the bridge and caught us by surprise and we realized that if that person had been a bicycle-cop we would have been caught with our pants down around our ankles and our rectums greased , in a manner of speaking and no amount of oratory was likely to get us out of our second fix of the day, nope. It would take some sacrifice on our part to insure our safety, especially since passing out was probably the next thing on our agenda and that is when a bum is at his most vulnerable. We needed to walk to a more private location and so that's what we did, down the stairs to State and up to the train station; across the train station to the side of the free-way and then through the hole in the chain-link to the bushes and relative safety. We sat there and drank and smoked and talked. That's when James told me about how his eye had been burned out and, I say this with an almost inexpressable sorrow, how it had not occurred in the war as I would have thought but right here on the streets of Santa Barbara.

People run in gangs for only one reason and that is fear. The "rugged individualism" for which our country is, or was, famous unravelled very quickly in the cities that sprang up in the wake-and-travels of the rugged individual himself. The frontier is where the wolf and the lion trod, the cities, even the small ones, were often left to the rats: Rats like the ones who burned my friends eye out...I hope they're reading this.

Next: A quick conclusion and rats.

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