EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
Austin poked at his boiled carrots with a fork and cocked his head. "You know," he said. "I've
been listenin' to your sermons all my life, and I never really thought about 'em much. But I just
started wonderin' 'bout some stuff I cain't figure out."
"Well, like... Was Adam and Eve what they call... Neanderthals?"
"Whatta you talkin' 'bout?"
"Well, in school, we seen these pictures of the earliest people. And they looked kinda like half
ape and half human, and they lived in caves and wore animal skins'n all."
"Oh, them!" said Barney. "That was niggers. See, when Adam'n Eve was casted outta the
Garden of Eden, I 'speck they did have to live in caves for awhile 'cause The Lord, he said
they'd hafta live by the sweat o' their brow. But see, after Cain kilt Abel The Lord cursed him
and turned him black and run him off to the Land o' Nod. That there was what we call Africa.
So them ape men you talkin' 'bout is all descendants of Cain. But us white folks come directly
Austin thoughtfully digested this information and scratched his head. "Well then what about
dinosaurs?" he asked. "Where'd they come from, and where'd they go to?"
"Well," shrugged Barney, "The Lord made 'em durin' creation week, like all the others, I
reckon. And they was a big problem too," he said, warming to his subject. "Ol' Adam, he'd
plant hisself a garden and them dadgum dina-sewers would git into it and go stompin' 'round
and eat it all up. But, o'course, they all got drownded in the flood."
"But how come they got drowned?" asked Austin. I thought Noah saved all the animals."
"Well, not all of 'em," said Barney. "See, them dina-sewers wuz too big to git on the boat. And
some other animals wuzzn't worth savin' anyways. So that's whut all them bones is that you
see pictures about that they call 'extinct.'"
"Well if Noah only saved the good animals, how come he saved all the rats'n flies'n 'skeeters'n
roaches with all them disease germs'n all that stuff?" Austin countered.
Barney took another bite of pie and chewed it thoughtfully. "Well, see, while Noah was tendin'
to the good animals, some o' them other'ns snuck aboard while he wasn't lookin'. The ol' devil
tol' 'em there was a flood a-comin', so he helped to save 'em. And once the ship was a-floatin',
they come out, an' you shoulda saw ol' Noah," laughed Barney. "He was runnin' around with a
broom swattin' at them roaches'n stuff, fit to be tied."
"Ok," said Austin. "So where'd all that water come from and where'd it go to?"
Barney was beginning to lose patience. "It come from The Lord, of course. The Lord, he just
said let it rain to beat the band for forty days and forty nights, and it done so."
"You mean the entire planet was nuthin' but solid water?" asked Austin.
"'At's right," Barney sniffed, taking a sip of coffee. "'At's how come you got all them fish
bones'n sea shells up on mountain tops."
"So where'd all that water go?" Austin pressed.
"Well it jist 'vaporated, of course," said Barney, beginning to frown.
"You mean it evaporated from above the highest mountains down to the present sea level in
just a few days and then stopped?" asked Austin.
"If the Lord wants it to 'vaporate, it 'vaporates! When he says, 'That's enough!' then it stops!"
said Barney, the top of his head beginning to redden.
Ada Sue was looking nervous and beginning to hiccup and belch as she started clearing the
table. But Austin was becoming more enthusiastic about his subject. "Well how'd all them
animals git from Mount Ararat all the way to America and Australia and all?" he asked.
"I reckon they swam!" Barney glowered between clenched teeth.
"But a kangaroo cain't swim across the ocean," Austin protested.
Barney stood up and pounded the table. "If the Lord tells a kangaroo to swim to Australia, by
dog he better start learnin' the Australian crawl!" shouted Barney. "Now you jist forgit about all
this stuff you been askin'. This here's too deep fer a kid like you to be worryin' y'head about.
You jist gotta have faith, you understand?"
Austin blanched and said he did. He was dying to ask how Negroes survived the flood, if
everyone had been killed except Noah's family, but he decided that henceforth he'd better
keep such questions to himself.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER THREE
As they walked toward the bedroom, Austin noticed that the apartment was now jammed with
people earnestly discussing art, music, literature, philosophy, and politics. He felt rather
intimidated, but very excited as he wandered about, straining his ears to eavesdrop on various
Sitting in the window seat, and entertaining several people on cushions in front of him, was a
scruffy young man who was holding forth about a hitchhiking trip he'd just completed from
coast to coast. He was an amusing storyteller and Austin listened for several minutes before
deciding he needed to go to the bathroom. When he returned, the man was gone. He found a
girl who had also been listening and who was now gazing down at the passing traffic. "That
guy who was sitting here," Austin asked, "where'd he go?"
"Oh, he had to leave. Said he'd promised Alan Ginsburg to attend one of his poetry readings
across the bay."
"Aw shucks, I wanted to talk to him. He was really interesting. Who is he anyway?"
She shrugged. "Nobody. Just a would-be author. He thinks he's gonna write a book about
that hitchhiking trip," she snickered. "Gonna call it 'American Hobo' or 'Hit the Road'...
something like that. Can you imagine the squares wanting to read about the life of a bum?"
"Hmm," Austin nodded. "You're probably right. Did you catch his name?"
She frowned and took a sip of wine. "Let's see... it was something weird. Ker... Kerry... It
reminded me of those little boats the Eskimos use."
"Yeah... Kerouac! That was it: Jack Kerouac."
"Hey, sailor boy," said Naomi, putting her hand on his shoulder. "You havin' a good time?"
Austin turned and beamed at her. "Most fun I ever had in my life!"
"Well, c'mere. Dere's sump'm I wanna ask you about." She backed him into a corner, rubbing
her breasts against his arm. "I need to know: How do you feel about Japanese people?"
"The Japanese?" he stalled, trying to guess what she might have in mind; but in view of his
earlier conversation concerning their obvious influence on her artistic taste, he deemed it wise
not to say anything negative even if that's how he felt which, fortunately, he did not. "Well I'm
intrigued by their philosophy of Zen Buddhism," he ventured.
"Oh yeah? You've studied Zen?" she asked, eyes lighting up.
"I've read a little about it," he shrugged nonchalantly.
"Den you aren't pissed off wit' 'em 'bout d'war?"
"No, that would be stupid. You can't blame one person for what somebody else did just
because they're from the same country."
"A lotta people do, you know."
"Yes. I've discovered there are a lot of stupid people in the world."
She kissed him on the cheek. "I'm really glad you said dat, 'cause I got somebody I wantcha to
meet. I guess he's probably our best friend, but he's nervous around strangers 'cause dere's
still so much prejudice, so he calls himself Charlie Fong and tells everybody he fought wit'
She took Austin's hand and led him toward the flying purple table, where a short man in a white
suit was pouring a drink. "If dere's anything about Zen you wanna know, he's d'guy to ask."
She touched the sleeve of his Palm Beach coat. "'Scuse me, Charlie," she said. "Dere's
somebody here I wantcha to meet. Dis is Austin Adams from Texas." As they shook hands
she looked around to be sure no one was listening then added in a low voice, "But he's cool.
He's not like a regular Southerner, so I told him. I hope you don't mind. Why don't youse guys
go back in my studio where youse can talk privately."
The Oriental man with a high forehead and pony tail looked around suspiciously, then leaned
forward and shook Austin's hand more firmly, as he said almost too quietly to hear, "Mister
Adams? Very grad to meet you. I am Shinichi Yamamoto. Would you like a little sake?" He
held out the bottle.
"Sure, why not!" Austin agreed, picking up a glass from the table. "I'll try anything."
They took their drinks back to the studio and unfolded a couple of canvas-backed stools,
facing them toward the west window, through which they could see over the roofs to the
twinkling lights across the bay.
[Patience... there's more to come!]
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