The sun already hung low as they hoofed it through cooling, damp air in the general direction of Fisherman's Wharf. Larry sprinted a half-step ahead, a sidewalk comet towing Milo irresistibly in his tail.

A dozen blocks north of the bookstore by Milo's breathless count, they drew up at a squared-off building with a pyramid hip roof that reminded him unaccountably of an Amish barn. Larry seemed to know his way around it. Slipping through a slitted-open emergency exit, he towed Milo toward another, interior, door, pulled it and blew them as if on compressed gas into an outlandish milling crush of people.

"Where the hell are we?" Milo panted, wide eyed.

He gawped around a medium-sized room with an indefinable backstage feel, caught himself at it, felt like a hick rube. But half-aware of the ghostly sense of channeling some filament of his own forebears stretched through him from the midwest, he ironically acknowledged a hitherto-undiscovered inner retired Illinois hog farmer, gasping at his first sight of the true Rockies.

"We're at Trips! I can't believe your good timing! Look! There's Cassady..."

Larry flapped his arm hard, like an cowpuncher hazing a human stampede. He seemed to be aiming at the eye of a particular skinny fellow wearing a headband, among an entire herd of such.

"Neal, baby! Meet someone! This is Milo Pavlov. Milo, Neal Cassady... a brother in arms."

Not knowing what else to do, Milo politely proffered his right hand. Cassady caught it up firmly in his own and, with a steely grip, raised their clasped fists to his cheek and shook hard. Neal's gaze was lit up for Christmas and he laughed uncontrollably.

Milo was baffled until his stoner radar caught the blip. Neal was eight miles high, uncoordinated pupils unfocused on a spot a thousand yards behind Milo's head.

"Good to meet ya, man! Chick-a-doo, chick-a-doo, chick-a-doo..."

Neal continued chugging as he meandered back into the mob. He gestured for them to follow him through the roiling Brownian motion. Milo exchanged Larry's gravitational pull for Neal's and, seconds later, realized that he had lost Larry altogether.