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which had been forwarded halfway around the world before finally arriving in Georgia, enclosed in an envelope from his mother. He had copied her phone number from the letter into his little book, and now he called and told her to change the sheets because he would be there early the following evening.

The next day on the plane, he felt good about his move to the West Coast and more than confident that his time in the service was nearly over. The flight took about five hours, and he phoned Rhea from the airport. She was waiting for him when the coach pulled into the air terminal in downtown San Francisco.

Kenny hadn't seen Rhea for two years, and then he had only known her for a couple of months. But when he saw her standing on the sidewalk--all slender, firm, tall and beautiful with her chestnut hair full like a mane--he gave her a long-lost-lover embrace and the kind of kiss he felt the woman who was going to remove the celibate state which he had endured since returning to America, deserved. She was glad to see him, too. He left his duffel bag in the trunk of her car, and they had something to eat in a Chinese restaurant before retiring to her North Beach apartment. There they made love in a hard, solid, tender, active expression of life, until they felt it beautiful to stop and sleep in each other's arms--no longer anxious about being alone.

They spent the week together and it went by much too fast. Kenny liked the North Beach section of the city and he only left it to watch the sun set from the beach over the Pacific Ocean. He'd heard a lot about the area from the poets who had been turning him on with their books for years now. The Co-Existence Bagel Shop was gone, but the bars were still there, as was the only tangible evidence of the San Francisco Beat Renaissance during the late fifties--the City Lights bookstore. It remained open till two every morning with Ferlinghetti and his partner Shig competing against the topless clip joints along Broadway for a piece of the street action, and simply by its presence, giving notice to whomever it may concern in the tourist crowd that there were other poets in America besides Robert Frost who had miles to go before they slept.

City Lights published a series of paperbacks called Pocket Poetry and Kenny bought one entitled Gasoline by Gregory Corso, and several others which he took with him on the two-hour bus ride to Fort Ord. His processing began when he arrived that Wednesday and was completed by midafternoon Friday. The unit he was assigned to wouldn't be made up till the following Monday, so he was [end page 223]


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