The love for my childhood friend, Bill Arnold, is the most profound love of my life, for two very young artists, found each, after coming to believe no one on earth would ever own a clue who we were. It was an instant recognition, a love at first sight. Bill was thirteen, and I was twelve. Bill was killed by a train at a crossing twenty minutes past my eighteenth birthday.
Before there was a war in Vietnam, there was the famous war Bill waged with his father, retired Lt. Colonel Bryan C. Arnold. Bill’s protestations should be studied, so America can alas own a clue on how to topple Military dictatorships all over the world, such as the succesful toppling of Ghadafi in Libya.
Here are sketches of Bill that I retrieved from the internet. They are the crux of my novel ‘Artist’. I found the words at the top in my mother’s treasure box, along with these, written when I was in my twentues. Its time to bring the war in Vietnam to a close. We American men are no longer needed to gift Liberty to others, for a boy has shown us how.
“I am sorry I did not become a man,
but only ask “What is a man?”
I’m sorry I am not dead, but,
the truth has killed me.
Oh father I have gone to war!
And I wish I was home again!”
When I met my best friend, Bill Arnold, we became fast friends, for
he too was an Artist, Poet, and Playwrite. William Arnold emulated
Jack London and the Beat Poets. At thirteen Bill and I founded a
Bohemian Club amongst our friends, and after school we used to visit
a house where Beat Artists lived. Lawrence Ferlinhetti discribed
Sterling as a “leashed Swinebrune”. Swinburne wrote a play and a
poem about Fair Rosamond, and Rosamund ‘Queen of Lombards’.
Sterling was a suicide, as was London according to some accounts. It
is suspected my dear friend Bill also was a suicide, he being hit by
a train as his car sat on a railroad crossing in Utah, it coming to
a stop there twenty minutes past my eigteenth birthday. Rosamond did
a painting of tradgedy titled ‘The Crossing’.
George Sterling is a founder of the Bohemian Scene of Carmel where
Rosamond established her Art Gallery. As to the whereabouts of the
photo of our Bohemians in the Redwood Grove, the executor of
Rosamond’s artistic legacy sold the gallery and aspects of our
family history to the current owner of the gallery, ignoring my
claim to this history that is destined for the Oakland Museum – at
least – with all the parisites un-attached.
In the un-authorized biography that the owner of Rosamond gallery
commisioned a Ghost Writer to write, Stacy Pierrot dare alow the
suggestion to be written that I could have saved my best friend’s
life if I had passed to him a message from Christine. The truth will
break your heart. Here is what Jack had to say, he in poor health;
“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent
glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man
is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste may days in trying to
prolong them. I shall use my time.”
The California Writers Club has recently planted another grove of
redwoods in the Oakland Hills. The ‘Writer’s Memorial Grove’ is
forever honoring Joaquin Miller, London, Sterling, and Dashiel
Hammet, who used to sail out to the Anacapa Islands with my
grandfather, Royal Rosamond, the author of five novels, and many
short stories that appeared in several California magazines, ‘Out
West’ and ‘Love Story’. Royal taught Earl Stanely Gardner the
rudiments of writing. He and Dashiel were members of the literary
guild the ‘Black Mask’.
Royal’s two beautiful daughters, Lillian and Rosemary were good
friends of the actor Errol Flyn, and spent time with him and his
friends, playing tennis, swimming, and doing all those other golden
things Californians are known for. When Flynn and his good friend
tried to sneak in Lillian’s window earlu one morn, my grandmother
Mary chased him away with a broom, she in her long white flannel
nightgown, her long hair trailing after her in the moonlight as she
raised her broom to strike the infamous Swashbuckler.
We Presco children would call up Joaquin’s daughter on the phone and
get advice, she known as ‘The White Witch’ of Oakland. Our home was
filled with children, many of them staying the night, or living with
us outright. We were a commune full of bright creative beings that
had a divine love and respect for each other without equal.
It is a shame that there are pretenders in the world. Those Bohunks
in the redwood grove, were the real thing. I am a Son of the
Bohemian Brotherhood, and an authority on ‘The Grove’ that was found
outside the Temple in Jerusalem, and know the Tree Alphabet of the
Druids and Celts. You can say I wear the Antlars of the White Stag,
and am a ‘Bard of the Bohemians of Oakland’.
I Flew Over Billie’s House Yesterday
Yesterday I looked at my childhood friend Bill’s house with the satellite map. I
saw his house and the addition in the back where Bill’s bedroom was. Using my
cursor, I comforted my friend. I protected him once again as he slept. I saw
myself asleep in that room in another military issue bed. We were twelve years
old. In 1986, Bill’s sister, Vicky, told me Bill’s father beat her brother
almost every night in order to break his will. When I spent the night, these
beatings did not happen. I was Bill’s innocent protector. Bill was six foot
three inches tall, a blonde with Norwegian roots. Bill was my beautiful friend
who I loved dearly.
Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Brian C. Arnold was insane. He had no life after he
left the Army, and thus he never left the Army even though he was a civilian. He
had one person under his command, his beautiful blue eyed son. He would wake
Bill at six in the morning splashing water in his face with a toothbrush. If
Bill did not get up fast enough, he would drag him out of bed and throw him in
the ice cold bath that awaited for him where he was forced to sit for an hour
with the window wide open.
As I see it, this boy is behind the Peace Demonstration against the War in
Vietnam. He smoked pot, once, before he drove his car onto a railroad track and
killed himself on my eighteenth birthday. When I saw the hard evidence Bill was
beat up, I asked him why he did not fight back. Bill said; “I love my father,
and, this is not your concern.”