Breakfast at Kerouac’s
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
“Yeah, yeah, yeah” the guy with the faded orange t-shirt nodded enthusiastically as his tablemate pulled out a shiny new paperback and set it on the table between them, barely missing the rings of cold coffee and spilled sugar. “Oh yeah! I mean Kerouac. Love that guy, love him!”
The paperback’s owner, somewhat surly in a black flannel and a couple days worth of stubble, took in the Kerouac fandom with a defeated air. The slight frown and barely perceptible eye roll told you what the he was thinking, ““Everyone thinks they’re so original for loving On The Road.”
“I mean, wow…yeah…such a cool guy right?,” asked orange-shirt, apparently oblivious to his table mate’s disdain.
“I told you about that time with the Woody right? Kerouac’s Woody.”
That got the tablemate’s attention. The slightly obscene question delivered in a sincerely naïve tone struck a note of absurdity that made the sullen man smile. The gesture encouraged the speaker, who began gesticulating wildly as he related his tale of the aforementioned Woody.
“Yeah, yeah…so my dad? You know, he was neighbors with this guy…um…shit, I can’t remember his name,” orange-shirt paused and stared off into the distance for a beat.
“Yeah, yeah….not going to remember his name. Anyway, this neighbor guy was an old time surfer dude from Norcal and he had this great old Woody. You know, with the wood paneled doors and everything. The real deal, for sure.”
“So my dad buys it off him for real cheap – he was having issues with his ex-wife or the IRS or something – so he needed to sell all his shit. Kinda shady now that I think about it.” He rubbs the back of his neck and smiles dubiously before continuing.
” But anyway, so my dad buys the Woody and the guy tells him it used to belong to Jack Kerouac. That he bought off him when he used to live up in Big Sur. Probably bullshit, right?”
Black, melancholy-flannel man gives a slight nod of agreement, and so the monologue continues without the need to debate the veracity of the tale of the beatnik surfmobile.
“So yeah. My dad buys the car and then realizes it needs a lot of work and decides to give it to me. And I’m, like, super stoked! So I call my friends up, and we decide to take it out to this nice little cove that had a great break, and have us a nice, beer soaked, test run.
“We load up all of our boards in the back – it was me, my buddy Jeremy and this dude Niles, who was this hilarious foreign exchange student that was staying with Jeremy’s family. Niles had never surfed before – he was from England or Scotland or the UK or something – so we loaded up some old long boards and told him we’d give him a lesson. We brought a twelve-pack too, cos, right?” He leans back and takes a sip of coffee, grinning with mischief.
“So we’re heading out to the beach, and it’s this kinda curvy, narrow road,” He mimicks the curves with both of his hands, and across the table black-flannel leans back, anticipating the spilled drink that doesn’t quite happen.
” We didn’t plan it very well,” says the Woody owner, shaking his head ruefully, ” ‘cos it’s late afternoon and we’re probably not even going to get much surfing in. But we’re having a blast, so what the hell?
“About…I don’t know…fifteen minutes into our drive, I hear this clunk sound. My buddy Jeremy starts cracking up, he’s like ‘dude…things are falling off your car man.’ And I look out the back window and, sure enough, there some carburetor or fan belt or some shit just sitting in the road. But the car’s still running so I’m all like, whatevs, we’re doing this.
“But then there’s another clunk. And another. And the things just start falling off fast and faster. Then we smell something burning – probably oil – and the car’s temperature gage is going nuts and finally the whole thing just sort of shutters and shuts off.” He emphasizes the last point with a sweeping gesture that barely clears the tops of the coffee cups and extends all the way out into the aisle, almost touching the elbow of the girl at the next table.
“So we’re sitting there, like 20 miles from the house. With parts of my car all over the road and the sun’s setting and it’s getting cold and all the beer’s gone. And man, we were all getting kinda bummed, you know? Especially when we realize we were going to have to walk home. I mean, we figured we could try and hitchhike, but we really couldn’t leave the boards in the car and that road to the beach is pretty quiet during the off season. So we just start walking.
“Then all of the sudden, we hear this car coming up fast. I mean, we can hear the driver shifting and the motor gunning and we had, like, seconds to clear out into the bush on the side of the road before this convertible comes screaming past us. We almost got killed man! Niles is looking all pale and shit,” he begins to chuckle at the memory of the hapless Niles, “this was so not the Surfin’ USA adventure he’d been hoping for.
“And my buddy Jeremy’s all… ‘do you guys know who that was man?’ And we’re all like, ‘um….yeah…the guy that almost killed us?’ And Jer’s all, ‘dude…that was Truman Capote man!”
“Of course we had no idea who the fuck he was talking about, but it turned out he was right. Truman Capote lived like right up the way or something, and he was known for speeding around those country roads. Probably drunk off his ass if you ask me.
“So yeah, man…like I totally dig Kerouac. On the Road and shit fucking rocks.”
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