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Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 17:03:17 -0500
To: elpolvo

Dear Dusty,

Steve introduced us there in the driveway and she looked so intensely into my eyes that I felt like she'd read everything in my hard drive files, organized it and already typed out a synopsis. Her look was so powerful I can still feel it, like a rush of adrenaline. It was an appraising look, but so direct and there was no defense against it, no looking away. I mean the gal has mucho power. She's a PI from Miami that Steve met on one of his working jaunts down there a month ago to put in air conditioning systems. She flew up to spend part of Christmas with him, meet his girls, Today he is finishing up putting in a new furnace for us. He started yesterday and planned to have it done by ten last night but the old boiler fell over while he was trying to talk it out of the area the new furnace was going into and it was so heavy it toppled. In trying to keep it from knocking over the 80 gallon electrical water heater he got his middle finger into the action and snapped the bone on the second joint. He went on working for a few hours but you know the body goes into shock after something like that and he finally left for home apologizing and promising to be back this morning. He was as good as his word, did a few hours work then went back to the store and picked up his friend to bring her back to be with him while he finished up. He says she loves the hugeness of this country, said a lot of people can't handle it, then told me this story about going in one cold and windy December day to Great Falls to pick up his mother. He'd fueled up there, gone to the airport where his daughter Jamie started getting really hot and there in the Suburban began breaking out in chicken pox. He said you could see the pustules growing on her chest, spreading to her arms and neck and face. His mother gets into the back, it's 60 below, she bundles up in a down bag, they head for Augusta 60 miles away, fighting a head wind. Anytime he has to slow down he has to use both feet, one to brake, the other to keep the rpms up because the caburetor is so iced it'll die if given a second or two. You get caught out in a blizzard at 60 below with no car heater and you're in deeeep snow. The engine is sucking in the gasoline straight, no sips, no chasers, just hogwild out of the keg, Steve says he can actually see the gas tank needle moving down. Gets into Augusta and as he pulls into his driveway the engine stops, tank dry, carb frozen. A leetle bit dicey, that. He says used to be a lot of weather out here but it's gotten mild the last ten years, once you'd get three feet of snow in two hours and temp swings from 60 above to 60 below in half a day were not unusual. Sure hope we get back to those good old days, this mild weather of hundred mile an hour winds and simpering 50 belows just don't cut it.

Talked with Ben in Grand Fork, BC where he's lived on this ranch high in the mountains outside town for the last two months. The woman who owns it has seven kids, three of them at home, maybe four, she invited Ben to spend the winter, gave him a cabin for a hundred a month, he ends up being houseboy to the family, there's these three hour shouting matches going on day after day, the kids refuse to do anything like work, it is up to Ben to make the peace, maneuver them into wanting to do some work, calming the mother, feeding the animals, cutting the wood, cooking dinner. He tells me over the phone a story of how Carlos Castaneda became a kitchen slave for five years after the success of his books, maybe to regain humility, keep from being overpowered by his fame, locked into one part of his life. But Ben has no fame to neutralize, no money to put aside while he washes dishes and mops floor, takes abuse from the boss, like Carlos; You slovenly hack writer philospher mystical pile of shit what in hell do you think you're doing there, grab that goddam mop with authority, move it in and out like this you nincompoop, Slap that head into the bucket, stomp that squeezer with authority, mess that head down along the tile, let's see you use those arms, clean that filthy floor and show me some balls or I'll slap shot your butt from here to Tlaxtitlan with this two by. I guess Ben took as much of his non-fame humility as he needed to overcome the wrecking ball of this past year and is moving today to the other side of the mountain to share a cabin with a couple he plays music with. He said he's interested in nannying the kids this winter if we want. Meantime Jon, M's boy who is an education major, will be be with them three weeks in January and we'll go look up some sun, maybe come see youse. When I told Ben about Jon he says, What?! I'm blood, why'd you call him? Well, last time I saw Ben he says he's going to be taking off around Christmas to go to see some friends in Portland and Miami and doesn't know when he'll be back to BC so I'd dropped that idea long time ago. You know, Ben was just fine before he took a young girl friend to Australia, they'd slaved away saving money to get over there, he was going to go to work in Byron Bay where he'd worked before, show her the country, he was in love, they get over there and everything falls apart, she ends up hanranguing him, and you see, his magic is letting life live him, letting things happen, and she is pressuring him to DO something, to save her from being so afraid, to take care of her in the way she knows and feels comfortable with, give her security. Things go from bad to very bad and they barely get back here, and split up the moment their feet touch shore. He's never been the same since. Still has the magic, but he absorbed some of the way she looked at him when times were tough and judges the way he is. His mother also has put the big push on him to get a job, do the nine to five, get respectable, she's married to a lawyer, they live in a fine home, she does volunteer work, one day last summer she's down delivering some charity to a mission in this little California town and she tells Ben that these guys waiting in line to be fed remind her a lot of him, the only difference in them is that they have a reason to be so beaten down and unemployed and rasty looking, something like that, and he goes What? and starts being a little cautious around her, like when they're together his soul goes to the bathroom and stays till they're through having their morality talk and pep seesion. Ben's 28 and his gift is himself, that's his genius, his vocation, his talent, he brings light into people's lives just by being himself, he doesn't need a job per se, a title, a slot, that's all for people who are too afraid to live life nose to nose, trust the forces that are shuttling them in the weave. His mother sees this, she's very smart, but there's this mother field that makes her take him on in an effort to build him into who he isn't in order to save his ass from danger. We all go through the Fall sooner or later, I did mine in my early thirties in NYC, he's doing his now.

Our concert is day after tomorrow over in the Community church. The kids do their concert the same night. Then we leave early the next morning to go to Calgary to get the kids on the plane to go see their mom. Jonnie comes the 24th and stays thru the 21st of January with the kids. I can't get that 6300 right now so I am thinking about having enough Simms put in so I have the 5 MBs to surf the Net. The 6300 reads PC's, and the 7200 reads and formats PC's and some others. When I buy I want that capability so  I don't have to go through a translator device or software. I want the computer to read whatever I shove into it, by God. I hate this being bossed around by bigoted machines. I think I'll just give up this idea that I need a goddam computer to get this information and go direct, cut the electrical coop out of the loop, Apple, IBM, Sony, just unhinge and become the Net, talk about the ultimate surfer!!

Harry Chesterfield, your valet and amigo in one.

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