Chapter 6

Been so long since I've been gone,
But look out now, I'm 'bout to hook out home
Becuase I miss y'all, yeah, I miss y'all, hey I miss y'all
Woo . . .
Going to the land of the plentiful lips
Where those beautiful women swing their hips
Back down where I can come to grips, and
quit going off on all 'a them trips
And all . . .
yeah, I miss y'all . . .

The YEAR 1969 FOLDED INTO 1970 in a grass/tobacco/beer/gin/Jack Daniels/pizza/musical instrument/hamburger/donut haze.

“Man, I can’t do another Christmas in this sumbitch,” Butch said. “Last year liked to kill me. It’s already the seventeenth, and you wouldn’t even know it was December to look around here.”
“It’s not exactly like we have a white Christmas at home, you know,” Johnny answered.
“Yeah, but at least people feel like it’s Christmas, and sometimes it gets cold. Here it’s just the same goddamn thing every day—74 degrees and sunny. This is trippin’ me out. Let’s go, man.”
“Well, I told Ferd I’d work through the twenty-second and that’s next Tuesday, so I can’t leave until at least Tuesday night.”
“Well, fuck that, I’m hitchhiking home,” Butch said, and he let fly an empty bottle of Miller High Life, which hurtled end over end until it clanged the rim of the white trash can in the corner of the small bedroom on Romaine Street. They were each lying on a twin mattress on the floor on opposite sides of the room. “And I’m tired of living like fuckin’ hippies,” he added. “At least at home I can sleep in a bed.”
“If you were a little better shot with your empties, we wouldn’t have beer bottles all over the fucking room, and don’t do me any favors about waiting for me ’cause I know the way home too, you know.”
“Well, fuck it then, I’m gonna smoke a joint and hitchhike home this afternoon.”
“Man, just wait ’til in the morning,” Johnny said. “You can get up early and get a fresh start. I’ll ask Ferd if I can leave on the afternoon of the twenty-first, and I’ll be home on Christmas Eve. I’ll meet you at the Southdowns Lounge. I’ll be sitting at the bar.”
“OK, hoss, that sounds like a good plan,” Butch said. “So what are we doing tonight?”
“Bonnie’s got a folk gig at a little club in Reseda, so I’m driving her there.”
“Reseda? Man, that’s the opposite direction from where I’m going. That’s north; I wanna go south.”


Johnny worked until the twenty-second, just as he’d promised. Ferd let him take off early so he got on the road out of L.A. about two in the afternoon. Butch had been gone for four days and was probably home by now, but Johnny hadn’t heard from him. He decided to take the southern route back to Baton Rouge through San Antonio and Houston. That way he could listen to XERF in Del Rio for at least twelve hours. He’d made the drive before in thirty hours, so his plan was to take a “Black Molly” about fifteen hours out, say about three in the morning of the twenty-third. That way he’d be good to go for the rest of the fifteen-hour pull and get to Baton Rouge about nine or ten in the evening. Perfect. And with XERF he got Wolfman Jack and great blues and R&B to distract him. XERF gave its city of license as Del Rio, Texas, but the tower and transmitter were actually in Mexico. The Mexicans didn’t regulate tower height or power so there were a couple of monster stations on the Mexican side of the border. The stations were on a clear channel, and with their 100,000-watt transmitters and 1,500-foot towers, you could hear them all the way to Canada. Just east of Phoenix, he began listening to the Wolfman. The Wolfman played great records—“It’s All Over Now” by the Valentinos, and records by the Kelly Brothers, Nappy Brown, and occasionally Elvis—and he howled like crazy when he played “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper. Johnny loved it, and the drive time flew by. When he crossed the New Mexico/Texas border he was in great spirits and wide awake. The “Molly” had kicked in, and combined with the coffee it made him feel alert and excited. He made a mental note not to grit his teeth.