A Confederate General from Big Sur(12)

By: Richard Brautigan



Those bees did not know what to do after their hives had been blown up by the soldiers. ‘The Sacred Republic of the Bees’ was reduced to nothing but anarchy and tatters. The bees circled and died in the air.

That’s what’s happening in my stomach, a rather torn landscape. I’m looking for a way out. Please excuse this rather maudlin letter, but I’m in bad shape.

Yours,

Jesse

The Reply

1

Great! Why don’t you come down here? I haven’t got any clothes on, and I just saw a whale. There’s plenty of room for everybody. Bring something to drink. Whiskey!—As always, Lee Mellon.

The Letters of Arrival

2

Lee Mellon

General Delivery

Big Sur

California

Dear Lee Mellon,

I’m in love with this girl and it is just plain hell with onions on it. I certainly would like to go down to Big Sur. I’ve never been there before.

What’s this about your not having any clothes on, and the whale?

Yours,

Jesse

The Reply

2

Just what I said – no clothes on and a God-damn whale! Can’t you smell that sweet sagebrush-by-the-ocean air of Big Sur? Have you no feelings, sir? Do I have to draw you a nostril picture? Tell the broad to take a flying at the moon and come down here with that whiskey and let’s catch some abalone and piss off a cliff.—As always, Lee Mellon

The Letters of Arrival

3

Lee Mellon

General Delivery

Big Sur

California

Dear Lee Mellon,

I’ve got to get rid of this girl. It just isn’t any good. She has drifted over from my stomach to attack my liver.

Is there any shelter down there against the elements? I mean, is there a roof over your head, fella?

Yours,

Jesse

The Reply

3

Oh, shit! Don’t make a martyr out of yourself. You know what my philosophy about women is – fuckem/shuckem. Sure there’s God-damn shelter down here. What do you think I’m living in, a burrow? That business in Oakland was something else. A man needs the proper atmosphere to read the Russians. There are four houses down here and only one Lee Mellon. This morning I saw a coyote walking through the sagebrush right at the very edge of the ocean – next stop China. The coyote was acting like he was in New Mexico or Wyoming, except that there were whales passing below. That’s what this country does for you. Come down to Big Sur and let your soul have some room to get outside its marrow.—As always, Lee Mellon

The Letters of Arrival

4

Lee Mellon

General Delivery

Big Sur

California

Dear Lee Mellon,

There are no words to describe the grief this girl is causing me. She’s been at it all week.

‘The Sacred Republic of the Bees’ flows off toward the sea.

I never thought this would happen to me. I feel hopelessly lost. Do any of those cabins have stoves in them?

Yours,

Jesse

The Reply

4

Sure they have stoves! Every one of them has a dozen stoves. Make up your mind about that broad. Don’t let her tan your balls and make a wallet out of them. Just tell her to take a flying at the moon, and tell her you’re going down to Big Sur to let your soul rejoice in its freedom in the coyote camp. Tell her you’re going to live in a cabin that has a dozen stoves that all burn whiskey until heaven freezes over.—As always, Lee Mellon

The Letters of Arrival

5

Lee Mellon

General Delivery

Big Sur

California

Dear Lee Mellon,

The girl and I are patching things up. These last few days have been delightful. Perhaps I’ll bring her down with me when I go to Big Sur.

Her name is Cynthia. I think you’d really like her.

By the way, your last letter shows strong evidence of a budding literary style.

Yours,

Jesse

The Reply

5

Literary style up your style! My stomach is full of deer steak, biscuits and gravy. Cynthia? Come off it, asshole! Cynthia? You’ve been writing these crybaby epistles about Cynthia? You really think I’d like Cynthia, huh? I can see it all now – Cynthia? Yes, Lee? It’s your turn to slop the abalone. Is it really my turn, Lee? (Fear and disgust in her voice.) Yes, Cynthia, the abalone are calling. They need slopping. Oh, Lee! No! No! No!—As always, Lee Mellon

The Letters of Arrival

6

Lee Mellon

General Delivery

Big Sur

California

Dear Lee Mellon,

I don’t know why you are bitter about Cynthia. You’ve never even met her before. She is actually quite a girl and would easily adapt herself to any kind of life, besides, what’s wrong with the name Cynthia? No kidding, I think you’d really like her.

Yours,

Jesse

The Reply

6

I’m positive I would like her! After all ¾ of the English teachers, ⅔ of the librarians and ½ of the society dames in America are named Cynthia. What’s another Cynthia more or less, you poor fart-up. The frogs are croaking in the frog pond. I’m writing by lantern because there is no electricity down here. The wires stop five miles away and I think it’s nice of them. Who needs electricity anyway? I did OK in Oakland without electricity. I read Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Gogol, Tolstoy – the Russians. Who needs electricity, but remember when you come down here don’t forget to bring Cynthia. I can hardly wait to meet her. Does she have a small mustache? I met a librarian once who was from BM, Battle Mountain, Nevada, that is. She had a small mustache and her name was Cynthia. She came all the way to San Francisco on the bus to give her cherry to a genuine poet. She found one, too. Me! Who knows, it might be the same broad. Ask her something about Battle Mountain, to tell the secrets of BM, like BM Anthology. BM! BM!—As always, Lee Mellon

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