Al Sullivan’s Journal
July 17, 1972
"Layla" by Derek and the Dominos plays again and again on the radio as we drive around.
It has become the unofficial anthem for the summer -- with Hank, Pauly and me humming along whenever it comes on.
Louise is long gone, fled back in May, and the song seems to soothe the part of me she left vacant.
Pauly says he feels trapped, too, living like a prisoner in the dank basement of his parents house in Pompton Lakes, claiming each time it rains the Nile rises out of the drains.
“Even when it doesn’t rain I have to wring my clothing dry in the morning from the humidly,” he tells us.
I live in a house full of crazy people, a white-trash-like family from the old neighborhood, their nuttiest threatening to send me back west -- despite my probation.
All we do is drive around listening to that tune, looking for new Woodstocks under every stone. Hank dragged me to a concert in the Pocono's where we sat in mud as the now older Woodstock generation fled to the cars to escape, he and high singing the Beatles "Rain" as if the song had been written for the occasion. I kept looking for Louise's face among the fleeing mob. I hoped for and yet dreaded an encounter, and was so confused I missed a chance to make love to one of two women Hank had picked up. He didn't miss his chance, and humped in the tent until dawn. I admired his stamina, though I knew some of it came from the LSD he'd ingested.
So today, we drive north, searching for a piece of real estate along the Canadian boarder, we hope we can call our future home.
Pauly is hoping Hank will supply the down payment. He says we need some turf away from the city and a place where we can spend our lives in peace.
Layla seems to accompany us the whole way, ending on one station onto to pick up on another as soon as we tune away.
Hank would play tapes, but his play screws up the tape and even when they don’t break, the music sounds wobbly.
Besides, Pauly knows Layla has become the theme song for the summer, and hums it as he drives the beat of the tires against the payment seeming to match the back beat of the drums.
Everything is sad and sweet at the same time.