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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 46 | volume IX | January-February, 2006



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 46January-February, 2006

The Road to Los Angeles

(excerpt from the novel)

p. 1
John Fante


I had a lot of jobs in Los Angeles Harbor because our family was poor and my father was dead. My first job was ditchdigging a short time after I graduated from high school. Every night I couldn't sleep from the pain in my back. We were digging an excavation in an empty lot, there wasn't any shade, the sun came straight from a cloudless sky, and I was down in that hole digging with two huskies who dug with a love for it, always laughing and telling jokes, laughing and smoking bitter tobacco.
    I started with a fury and they laughed and said I'd learn a thing or two after a while. Then the pick and shovel got heavy. I sucked broken blisters and hated those men. One noon I was tired and sat down and looked at my hands. I said to myself, why don't you quit this job before it kills you?
    I got up and speared my shovel into the ground.
    “Boys,” I said. “I'm through. I've decided to accept a job with the Harbor Commission.”
    Next I was a dishwasher. Every day I looked out a hole of a window, and through it I saw heaps of garbage day after day, with flies droning, and I was like a housewife over a pile of dishes, my hands revolting when I looked down at them swimming like dead fish in the bluish water. The fat cook was the boss. He banged pans and made me work. It made me happy when a fly landed on his big cheek and refused to leave. I had that job four weeks. Arturo, I said, the future of this job is very limited; why don't you quit tonight? Why don't you tell that cook to screw himself?
    I couldn't wait until night. In the middle of that August afternoon, with a mountain of unwashed dishes before me, I took off my apron. I had to smile.
    “What's funny?” the cook said.
    “I'm through. Finished. That's what's funny.”
    I went out the back door, a bell tinkling. He stood scratching his head in the midst of garbage and dirty dishes. When I thought of all those dishes I laughed, it always seemed so funny.
    I became a flunkie on a truck. All we did was move boxes of toilet tissue from the warehouse to the harbor grocery stores in San Pedro and Wilmington. Big boxes, three feet square and weighing

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