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Authors: Jack Kerouac

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Maggie Cassidy

BOOK: Maggie Cassidy
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PENGUIN BOOKS

MAGGIE CASSIDY

 

 

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922, the youngest of three children in a Franco-American family. He attended local Catholic and public schools and won a football scholarship to Columbia University in New York City, where he met Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. He quit school in his sophomore year and joined the Merchant Marine, beginning the restless wanderings that were to continue for the greater part of his life. His first novel,
The Town and the City
, appeared in 1950, but it was
On the Road
, first published in 1957 and memorializing his adventures with Neal Cassady, that epitomized to the world what became known as “the Beat generation” and made Kerouac one of the most controversial and best-known writers of his time. Publication of his many other books followed, among them
The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans
, and
Big Sur.
Kerouac considered them all to be part of “one enormous comedy,” which he called The Duluoz Legend. “In my old age,” he wrote, “I intend to collect all my work and reinsert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books there, and die happy.” He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969, at the age of forty-seven.

BY JACK KEROUAC

THE LEGEND OF DULUOZ

V
ISIONS OF
G
ERARD

D
OCTOR
S
AX

M
AGGIE
C
ASSIDY

V
ANITY OF
D
ULUOZ

O
N THE
R
OAD

V
ISIONS OF
C
ODY

T
HE
S
UBTERRANEANS

T
RISTESSA

T
HE
D
HARMA
B
UMS

D
ESOLATION
A
NGELS

B
IG
S
UR

S
ATORI IN
P
ARIS

 

POETRY

M
EXICO
C
ITY
B
LUES

S
CATTERED
P
OEMS

P
OMES
A
LL
S
IZES

H
EAVEN AND
O
THER
P
OEMS

B
OOK OF
B
LUES

B
OOK OF
H
AIKUS

 

OTHER WORK

T
HE
T
OWN AND THE
C
ITY

T
HE
S
CRIPTURE OF THE
G
OLDEN
E
TERNITY

S
OME OF THE
D
HARMA

O
LD
A
NGEL
M
IDNIGHT

B
OOK OF
D
REAMS

L
ONESOME
T
RAVELER

G
OOD
B
LONDE AND
O
THERS

P
ULL
M
Y
D
AISY

T
RIP
T
RAP

P
IC

T
HE
P
ORTABLE
J
ACK
K
EROUAC

S
ELECTED
L
ETTERS
: 1940–1956

S
ELECTED
L
ETTERS
: 1957–1969

A
TOP AN
U
NDERWOOD

O
RPHEUS
E
MERGED

Maggie Cassidy

Jack Kerouac

PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

First published in the United States of America by

Avon Books, 1959

Published in Penguin Books 1993

 

30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23

 

Copyright © Jack Kerouac, 1959

All rights reserved

 

The lyrics appearing on pages 26 & 27 are from
Deep in a Dream
copyright © Harms, Inc., 1938. Used by permission.

 

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA

Kerouac, John, 1922–1969.

Maggie Cassidy.

I. Title.

ISBN 9781101548790

PZ3.K4596Mag 1978 PS3521.E735

813′.5′4 77-25167

 

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

1

It was a New Year's Eve, it was snowing in the North. The fellows were staggering down the snowy road arm in arm supporting a central figure who all alone was singing in a cracked sad broken voice what he had heard the cowboy sing in the Gates Theater Friday afternoon, “
Jack o diamonds, Jack o diamonds, you'll be my downfall
,” but not knowing the downfall part of it, just
Jack o
where it broke and yodeled in a western-type twang. This was G.J. Rigopoulos singing. His head hung low like a drunk's as they dragged his shoes through the snow, arms limp and hips hanging out like an idiot's in a tremendous display of complete didnt care attitude that had all the others struggling and slipping in the snow to hold him up. But from his brokendoll neck came the plaintive notes,
Jack o diamonds, Jack o diamonds
, as great thick snowflakes dropped straight on their heads. It was the New Year 1939, before the war, before anyone knew the intention of the world toward America.

The boys were all French Canadian except the Greek lad G.J. It had never occurred to any of them, the others, Scotty Boldieu, Albert Lauzon, Vinny Bergerac and Jacky Duluoz, to wonder that G.J. had spent his entire boyhood with them instead of with other Greek boys for close companions and soulmates of puberty, when all he had to do was walk across the river and see a thousand Greek boys or go up the Pawtucketville hill to a fair-sized Greek neighborhood and find many friends. It might have occurred to Lauzon that G.J. never ended among the Greeks, to Lousy who was the most sympathetic and thoughtful of the gang; but since everything occurred to him, he never mentioned any part of it—yet. But the love that went out from all four French boys to this Greek boy was fantastic, true-volumed, bleakfaced and innocent of other things in the world and completely serious. They hung on him for dear life, twitching to see each new joke he might choose next in his role as King's Comedian. They were walking under immense beautiful dark-limbed trees of black winter, dark arms twisted and sinuous from sidewalk up; they overtopped the road, Riverside Street, in a solid roof for several blocks past phantasmal old homes with huge porches and Christmas lights buried deep in; real-estate relics of when to be on the river meant and called for expensive building. But now Riverside Street was a hodgepodge running from a tiny brownly lit Greek variety store at the edge of a sand field, with riverward bungalow streets going down; from it to a sandlot baseball field more or less the scene of overgrown weeds, foulballs breaking windows, and October night fires of hoodlums and urchins of the town, to which category G.J. and his gang had, and still belonged.

“Give me a snowball, men,” said G.J. snapping out of his drunken act, staggering; Lauzon leaping to the issue handing him the snowball with an expectant giggle.

“What you gonna do, Mouse?”

“Gonna belt that poor poss bowling around!” he snarled. “Make revolutions swim around! Burpers'll raise big legs to poop on southern shores, Palm Miami Beach—” and he threw his snowball with a vicious long whip of his arm at a passing car and popped right in the front a soft plopping exploding snowball that left a star shining in the glass and in their eyes as they all heaved to laugh and throw themselves slapping on their knees, the pop had been just loud enough to attract the attention of the motorist, who was driving an old loud-motored Essex with a load of wood in the back and a Christmas tree and a few logs and a few more in front with a little kid holding up against them, his son, farmers from Dracut; he just turned and glowered briefly and drove on grimly toward Mill Pond and the pines of old tar roads.

“Ha ha ha did you see the expression on his face?” yelled Vinny Bergerac with shuddering eagerness jumping up around the road and grabbing G.J. to haul and push him in a wild laughing hysterical stagger of joy. They were almost falling in a snowbank.

A little to the side, and quiet, walked Scotty Boldieu, head bent in thought as if he were studying a cigarette's tip alone in a room; bulky-shouldered, short, hawkfaced and sleek, a little dark, brown-eyed. He turned to throw a little inward-thinking and courteous laugh with the others in their general uproar. At the same time in his eyes there was a twinkle of disbelief in their antics at his somber side, grave and surprised recognition of them, a kind of leadership of the silent sailing soul in all of them, so Lousy seeing him thus interior-bemused away from the hilarity leaned his head on his shoulder a second in an old sister's laugh and shook him to see: “Hey Scotty didnt you see El Mouso hurl that apple right on the guy's window, just like when he threw his ice cream at the screen in the movie about the foreclose mortgage at the Crown? Cheez! What a maniac! Zeet?”

Scotty just waved his hand and nodded, biting his lip, and took a deep brooding drag on a Chesterfield cigarette, probably his thirtieth or fortieth of a new lifetime, seventeen years old and bound to sink down to his work in slow, heavy, relaxed degrees, tragic and beautiful to see the snow bedeck his eyebrows and hatless well-combed head.

Vinny Bergerac was as skinny as a stick, screaming all the time, happy; his father's name must have been Joy; inside his crazy-flapping coat of activities and yells with the gang his little thin, wasted body swiveled on inexistent hips and long, white, tragic legs. His face was thin as a razor, sharply handsome, cut with a fingernail file; blue eyes, white teeth, shining, mad eyes; his hair was wet, combed forward to a roll, slicked back with a brush, smooth and dark under his white silk scarf; his eyebrows stood out somewhat like Tyrone Power eyebrows of conscious perfect good looks. But he was a scatterbrained madman from the word go. His laugh crashed and shrieked all over the silent snowy road of huddled holiday workers bending to their work with bottles and packages, noses sniffling in the night. Snow dropped on his head and through the wild streams of his cries. G.J. had risen from his grave of snow, where “That ga-dam rat” he'd fallen, it being soft he sank shudderingly in the cold; now, coming up white, he had Vinny under the belt on his shoulder giving him the whirlaround airplane throw they'd all seen in wrestling matches at the Rex and the CMAC and in their own backyards promoted by themselves—wild, yelling, they danced around the inevitable climax in proud flapping topcoats of adolescence.

They hadn't even begun to drink.

G.J. and Vinny collapsed together in the snowbank, sank, everybody danced and howled; the snow flew, some fell from shivered branches in the high night; it was New Year's Eve.

2

Albert Lauzon turned his sad eyes on Jack Duluoz, who was unexpectedly pensive beside him.

“Hey Zaaaagg didja see him? Mouse giving him the old flying wedge tackle—what do you call that hold Zagg? Zeet?” This was a convulsive little fizzle giggle in his teeth. “That crazy Vinny had him down did you see that sneaky rat sink him in five miles deep in the zeet? Hey Zagg?” and grasping Zagg by the arm to shake him and make him see what had just happened. But some distant hung-up recollection or reflection had taken hold of the other boy's mind and he had to turn around and look carefully at Lousy to understand what reaction was expected of him at that moment when he had been dreaming. Lauzon's sad eyes he saw, set somewhat close on each side of a long strange nose, something shrouded and hidden beneath a large brown felt hat, the only one in the gang wearing a hat; and revealing nothing but an expectant laugh blazing wildly with youth in the closeup eyes, the long jaw, long mouth drawn to wait and see him. A twinge, a flicker of something, barely touched the corner of Lauzon's mouth as he saw Zagg's long hesitation returning from his own thoughts; some disappointment had come and gone forever in his study of the other boy; and in his own mind Zagg Duluoz had only been thinking of the time when he was four years old and in the red May late afternoon he had thrown a rock at a car in front of the firehouse and the car stopped and the man got out with a great worried expression and the glass was broken, so seeing the flick of disappointment in Lauzon he wondered if he should tell him about the rock of four years old but Lauzon was ahead of him. “Zagg you missed seeing the great Mouse being downed by skinny boy Vinny Bergerac it's sensational!” And Lauzon was giving him hell. “No kidding you was off a million miles then, you didn't see, it'll never be forgotten: imagine the one and only G.J.—look what he's doing now! Zagg you crazy! Zeet!” slapping him and pulling him and shaking him. It was all forgotten in a second. The perturbation bird had flown in, and sat on pearly souls, and gone again. At the edge of the gang trudged Scotty, still alone, still inside.

G.J. nicknamed Mouse and born Rigopoulos, or probably Rigolopoulakos and shortened by his hard-working parents, was now up and unjokingly or trying seriously if possible gravely to brush the snow off his new coat thinking just then of his mother who'd so proudly given it to him last week Christmas. “Easy boys, lay off, my old lady just gave me this cashmere coat here, the price tag was so abnormable I had to put my own immemoriam sign—” but suddenly his vigor and vitality leaped out of him again with the force of an explosion, his interest in everybody was so absolutely boundless it was like a compulsive drunk's leap to rush, to begin anew, exhaust the world, kiss the foundations of the world—“Zagg hey Zagg hey! what's that immemorious word you told me on the Square not on the Square right in front the City Hall the other night, you said you read it in the encyclopediac, Zagg, the word with the monument—

“—immemor—”

“Immemorialamums—Hayee!” screamed Mouse leaping at Zagg across the arms of the gang and grabbing him with a feverish anxiety. “The immemorials of the world war monuments—six million memorials of the—Wadworth Longfellow—long far—Zagg what is that word? Tell us
what
 . . .
that
 . . .
word
 . . .
is
!” he yelled with great urgency pulling and pulling at him to show him to the others, with a frantic act of being so excited and so “blafferfasted” as he said that at any moment he would fly into the air from inpent unkeepable explosions of suspense. It was, in his charade, a matter of such great importance that to say the least—“This man must be beheaded at once, call the Tower, twelve sixty-nine, calling the lines in the desk, calling the moon, we got him on our blockheads ready to go, this man refuses to tell us, Boris Karloff and company and Bela Looboosi and us vampires and everybody connected with Frankenstein and . . .” with a sly whisper—“the . . . house . . . of . . . Muxy Smith . . .” At which everybody reared back exploding with laughter and amazement; only a few weeks ago they had carried an old drunk of Pawtucketville home to his house far down Riverside Street, and it happened to be a 175-year-old unpainted Colonial house crumbling from hearth to doorstone in its sad sunken field just off a fork of roads to Dracut and Lakeview; it was spooky, night; they stumbled the little old man into his kitchen, he flopped, mumbled; said he heard ghosts all the time in the other rooms; as they were leaving the old man stumbled on a rocking chair and fell and hit his head and lay on the floor moaning. They helped him dragfooted to a couch; he seemed to be all right. But they heard the wind in the eaves, the unused attic upstairs . . . they all hurried home. And the nearer they got home the more G.J., talking excitedly even then, became convinced Muxy Smith was dead, had killed himself. “He's on that couch pale as a sheet and dead as a ghost,” whispered, “I'm telling you . . . from now on it's going to be the ghost of Muxy Smith”; and so that in the morning, a Sunday, they had all looked with apprehension at the newspaper to read and see if Muxy Smith had been found dead in his haunted old house. “I knew that moon was out when we met him on that Textile sidewalk—bad sign, we should never taken him home the old guy is half dead,” G.J. kept saying at midnight. But in the morning no news to the effect that a bunch of boys had slipped away from a house, leaving a dead man bruised with a heavy object; so they visited each other after church, the French Canadians going to Sainte Jeanne d'Arc on the Pawtucketville hill, and G.J. across the river with his dark-veiled mother and sisters to the Byzantine Greek Orthodox church near the canal, and were reassured. “Muxy Smith,” G.J. whispered in the New Year's Eve snow, “and his immemoriam jazz band is coming on the sheets up there. . . . But what a word! Hey Lousy didja hear that word? Scot? IMMEMORIAM. Forever and ever in stone. That's what it means. Only Zagg could have discovered such a word. Years he studied in his room, learning . . . IMMEMORIAM. Zagg, Memory Babe, write some more words like that. You'll be great. They'll make you honorary chairman of the burper's convention of general farts in the motors division of the superintendents of Wall Street. I'll be there, Zagg, with a beautiful blonde, a flask, an apartment waiting for your convenience . . . ah gentlemen I'm tired. It was a wrestling match that—how can I dance tonight? How can I go and jitterbug now?” And once again, everything else exhausted for the while, he sang
Jack o diamonds
in that way he'd just learned, sad, incredibly sad like a dog act, or like men singing, floating broken and prophetic in the snow of the night,
Jack o diamonds
, as arm in arm they all scuffled to the New Year's Eve dance at the Rex Ballroom, their first dance each one, their first and last future before them.

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