Forrest Gump Chapter Ten
I did not have no address for Jenny cept a post office box, but I did have her letter with the name of the little place where she said she was playin with her band, The Cracked Eggs. It was called the Hodaddy Club. I tried to walk there from the train station, but I kep gettin lost, so I finally took a taxicab. It was in the afternoon an there was nobody in there but a couple of drunk guys an bout a half inch of beer on the floor from the night before. But they was a feller behin the bar say Jenny an them will be there bout nine o’clock. I axed if I can wait, an the guy say, “Sure,” so I set down for five or six hours an took a load off my feet. Directly, the place begun to fill up. They was mostly college-lookin kids but was dressed like geeks at a sideshow. Everbody wearin dirty blue jeans an tee shirts an all the guys had beards an wore glasses an all the girls have hair that look like a bird gonna fly out of it any secont. Presently the band come out on stage an start settin up. They is three or four fellers an they has got all this huge electric stuff, pluggin it in everwhere. It certainly is a far cry from what we done in the Student Union building back at the University. Also, I do not see Jenny Curran noplace.
After they get the electric stuff set up, they start to play, an let me say this: them people was loud! All sorts of colored lights begin to flash an the music they is makin sound sort of like a jet airplane when it takin off. But the crowd lovin it an when they is done, everbody begin to cheer an yell. Then a light fall on a side of the stage an there she is – Jenny hersef!
She is changed from the way I known her. First, she is got hair down to her ass, an is wearin sunglasses inside, at night! She is dressed in blue jeans an a shirt with so many spangles on it she look like a telephone switchboard. The band start up again an Jenny begun to sing. She has grapped hole of the microphone an is dancin all aroun the stage, jumpin up an down an wavin her arms an tossin her hair aroun. I am tryin to understan the words to the song, but the band is playin too loud for that, beatin on the drums, bangin on the piano, swattin them electric guitars till it seem like the roof gonna cave in. I am thinkin, what the hell is this?
After a wile they take a break an so I got up an tried to get through a door that go backstage. But they is a feller standing there who say I cannot come in. When I go walkin back to my seat, I notice everbody is starin at my Army uniform. “That is some costume you has got on there,” somebody says, an somebody else say, “Far out!” an another one say, “Is he for real?”
I am beginnin to feel like a idiot again, an so I gone on outside, thinkin maybe I can walk aroun an figger things out. I guess I must of walked for haf an hour or so, an when I get back to the place they is a long line of people waitin to get in. I go up to the front an try to splain to the guy that all my stuff is in there, but he say to go wait at the end of the line. I guess I stood there a hour or so, an listened to the music comin from inside, an I have to tell you, it sounded a little better when you got away from it like that.
Anyway, after a wile, I got bored an went down a alley an roun to the back of the club. They was some little steps an I sat down there an watched the rats chasin each other in the garbage. I had my harmonica in my pocket, so’s to pass the time, I got it out an started to play a little. I could still hear the music from Jenny’s band, an after a wile I foun mysef bein able to play along with them, sort of usin the chromatic stop to get half out of key so it would fit in with what they was playin. I don’t know how long it was, but it didn’t take much afore I was able to make runs of my own, way up in C major, an to my suprise, it didn’t soun half bad when you was playin it – so long as you didn’t have to listen to it too.
All of a sudden the door behin me bust open an there is Jenny standin there. I guess they had taken their break again, but I wadn’t payin no attention an had kep on playin.
“Who is that out there?” she say.
“It’s me,” I say, but it is dark in the alley an she stick her head out the door an say, “Who is playin that harmonica?”
I stand up an I am kind of embarrassed on account of my clothes, but I say, “It’s me. Forrest.”
“It is who? ” she say.
“Forrest? Forrest Gump! ” an suddenly she rush out the door an thowed hersef into my arms.
Jenny an me, we set aroun backstage an caught up on things till she had to play her nex set. She had not exactly quit school, she had got thowed out when they foun her in a feller’s room one night. That was a thowin-out offense in them days. The banjo player had run off to Canada rather than go in the Army, an the little band had broke up. Jenny had gone out to California for a wile, an weared flowers in her hair, but she say them people is a bunch of freaks who is stoned all the time, an so she met this guy an come with him to Boston, an they had done some peace marches an all, but he turned out to be a fairy, so she split up with him, an took up with a real serious peace marcher who was in to makin bombs an stuff, an blowin up buildins. That didn’t work out neither, so she met up with this guy what teached at Harvard University, but it turned out he was married. Next, she went with a guy that had seemed real nice but one day he got both their asses arrested for shoplifting, an she decided it was time to pull hersef together.
She fell in with The Cracked Eggs, an they started playin a new kind of music, an got real popular aroun Boston, an they was even gonna go to New York an make a tape for an album nex week. She say she is seein this guy that goes to Harvard University, an is a student in philosophy, but that after the show tonight, I can come home an stay with them. I am very disappointed that she has got hersef a boyfrien, but I don’t have noplace else to go, so that’s what I done.
Rudolph is the boyfrien’s name. He is a little guy bout a hundrit pounds or so, an has hair like a dustmop an wears a lot of beads aroun his neck an is settin on the floor when we get to their apartment, meditatin like a guru.
“Rudolph,” Jenny say, “this is Forrest. He is a friend of mine from home, an he is gonna be stayin with us a wile.”
Rudolph don’t say nothin, but he wave his hand like the Pope when he is blessin somethin.
Jenny ain’t got but one bed, but she made up a little pallet for me on the floor an that is where I slept. It wadn’t no worse than a lot of places I slept in the Army, an a damn sight better than some.
Next mornin I get up an there is Rudolph still settin in the middle of the room meditatin. Jenny fixed me some breakfast an we lef ole Rudolph settin there an she took me on a tour of Cambridge. First thing she says is that I have got to get mysef some new clothes, on account of people up here does not understan an will think I am tryin to put them on. So we go to a surplus store an I get me some overalls an a lumber jacket an change into them right there an take my uniform in a paper bag.
We is walkin aroun Harvard University, an who does Jenny run into but the married professor she used to date. She is still friends with him, even tho in private she like to refer to him as a “degenerate turd.” Doctor Quackenbush is his name.
Anyway, he is all excited on account of he is beginnin to teach a new course next week that he thunk up all by hissef. It is called the “Role of the Idiot in World Literature.”
I pipe up an say I think it sounds pretty interestin, an he say, “Well, Forrest, why don’t you sit in on the class? You might enjoy it.”
Jenny look at both of us kind of funny-like, but she don’t say nothin. We gone on back to the apartment an Rudolph is still squattin on the floor by hissef. We was in the kitchen an I axed her real quiet if Rudolph could talk, an she say, yes, sooner or later.
That afternoon Jenny took me to meet the other guys in the band an she tell them I play the harmonica like heaven itsef, an why don’t they let me set in with them at the club tonight. One of the guys axe me what I like to play best, an I say, “Dixie,” an he say he don’t believe he has heard what I say, an Jenny jump in an say, “It don’t matter, he will be fine once he’s got a ear for our stuff.”
So that night I be playin with the band an everbody agree I am makin a good contribution an it is very enjoyable, gettin to set there an watch Jenny sing an thow hersef all over the stage.
That nex Monday I have decided to go ahead an set in on Doctor Quackenbush’s class, “Role of the Idiot in World Literature.” The title alone is enough to make me feel sort of important.
“Today,” Doctor Quackenbush says to the class, “we has a visitor who is gonna be auditing this course from time to time. Please welcome Mister Forrest Gump.” Everbody turn an look at me an I give a little wave, an then the class begin.
“The idiot,” Doctor Quackenbush say, “has played an important role in history an literature for many years. I suppose you has all heard of the village idiot, who was usually some retarded individual livin in a village someplace. He was often the object of scorn an mockery. Later, it become the custom of nobility to have in their presence a court jester, a sort of person that would do things to amuse the royalty. In many instances, this individual was actually an idiot or a moron, in others, he was merely a clown or jokester….”
He go on like this for a wile, an it begun to become apparent to me that idiots was not jus useless people, but was put here for a purpose, sort of like Dan had said, an the purpose is to make people laugh. At least that is somethin.
“The object of having a fool for most writers,” Doctor Quackenbush say, “is to employ the device of double entendre, permittin them to let the fool make a fool of hissef, an at the same time allow the reader the revelation of the greater meaning of the foolishness. Occasionally, a great writer like Shakespeare would let the fool make an ass out of one of his principal characters, thereby providing a twist for the readers’ enlightenment.”
At this point, I am becomin somewhat confused. But that is normal. Anyhow, Mister Quackenbush say that to demonstrate what he has been talkin about, we is gonna do a scene from the play, King Lear, where there is a fool an a madman in disguise an the king hissef is crazy. He tells this guy named Elmer Harrington III to play the part of Mad Tom o’Bedlam, an for this girl called Lucille to play The Fool. Another guy called Horace somebody was to be crazy ole King Lear. An then he say, “Forrest, why doesn’t you play the role of the Earl of Gloucester?”
Mister Quackenbush say he will get a few stage props from the drama department, but he want us to get up our own costumes, just so the thing would be more “realistic.” How I got into this deal, I do not know, is what I am thinkin.
Meantime, things is happenin with our band, The Cracked Eggs. A feller from New Yawk have flown up an listened to us an says he wants to get us in a recordin studio an make a tape of our music. All the fellers is excited, includin Jenny Curran, an me, of course. The feller from New Yawk, Mister Feeblestein is his name. He say if everthing go well, we could be the hottest thing since the invention of night baseball. Mister Feeblestein say all we got to do is sign a piece of paper an then start gettin rich.
George, the guy who plays keyboard for us, has been teachin me a little bit of how to play it, an Mose, the drummer, is also lettin me beat on his drums some. It is kind of fun, learnin how to play all them things, an my harmonica too. Ever day I practice some, an ever night the band play at the Hodaddy Club.
Then one afternoon I come home from class an there is Jenny settin by hersef on the couch. I axed her where is Rudolph, an she say he has “split.” I axed what for, an she say, “Cause he is a nogood bastid like all the rest,” an so I says, “Why don’t we go out an get ourselfs some supper an talk bout it?”
Naturally, she does most of the talkin, an it is really jus a string of gripes bout men. She say we are “lazy, unresponsible, selfish, low-down lyin shits.” She is goin on that way for a wile an then she start to cry. I says, “Awe, Jenny, don’t do that. It ain’t nothin. That ole Rudolph didn’t look like the kinda feller for you no how, squattin on the floor like that an all.” An she say, “Yes, Forrest, probly you is right. I’d like to go home now.” An so we do.
When we get home, Jenny begun takin off her clothes. She is down to her underpants, an I am jus settin on the couch tryin not to notice, but she come up an stand in front of me an she say, “Forrest, I want you to fuck me now.”
You coulda knocked me over with a feather! I jus set there an gawked up at her. Then she set down nex to me an started foolin with my britches, an nex thing I knowed, she’d got off my shirt an was huggin an kissin me an all. At first, it was jus a little odd, her doin all that. Course I had dreamed bout it all along, but I had not expected it quite this way. But then, well I guess somethin come over me, an it didn’t matter what I’d expected, cause we was rollin aroun on the couch an had our clothes nearly off an then Jenny pulled down my undershorts an her eyes get big an she say, “Whooo – lookit what you got there!” an she grapped me jus like Miz French had that day, but Jenny never say nothin about me keepin my eyes closed, so I didn’t.
Well, we done all sorts of things that afternoon that I never even dreamt of in my wildest imagination. Jenny shown me shit I never could of figgered out on my own – sidewise, crosswise, upside down, bottom-wise, lengthwise, dogwise, standin up, settin down, bendin over, leanin back, inside-out an outside-in – only way we didn’t try it was apart! We rolled all over the livin room an into the kitchen – stove in furniture, knocked shit over, pulled down drapes, mussed up the rug an even turned the tv set on by accident. Wound up doin it in the sink, but don’t axe me how. When we is finally finished, Jenny jus lie there a wile, an then she look at me an say, “Goddamn, Forrest, where is you been all my life?”
“I been aroun,” I says.
Naturally, things are a bit different between Jenny an me after that. We commenced to sleep in the same bed together, which was also kind of strange for me at first, but I sure got used to it. When we was doin our act at the Hodaddy Club, ever so often Jenny would pass by me an muss up my hair, or run her fingers down the back of my neck. All of a sudden things start to change for me – like my whole life jus begun, an I am the happiest feller in the world.