"Right here, right in his thighs, that's where he had it."
"What a build."
"And what a sister!"
Laughter and the sounds of the men pouring themselves another round of drinks. Then Samaras's voice can be distinguished: "He wasn't, I don't know, he wasn't hungry enough. He wasn't the kind of guy who was real gung ho. He wouldn't hurt anybody."
A silent pause, the clinking of glasses.
"Apparently," someone says, "he wanted to be a writer."
"Had to be."
...although I also know everybody in the world's had his own troubles, you'll understand that my particular form of anguish came from being too sensitive to all the lunkheads I had to deal with just so I could get to be a high school football star, a college student pouring coffee and washing dishes and scrimmaging till dark and reading Homer's Iliad in three days all at the same time, and God help me, a WRITER whose very "success," far from being a happy triumph as of old, was the sign of doom Himself.
—Vanity of Duluoz
By the time Kerouac reached high school, he was torn in the way he would be until the end. He was driven to devour books and, as he wrote in Vanity of Duluoz, "to end up on a campus somewhere smoking a pipe, with a button-down sweater, like Bing Crosby serenading a coed in the moonlight." But another part of him bristled at the ridicule he got from friends for wanting to be different from them. The torment drove him to a priest.
The Rev. Armand Morissette recalls the first time he met Kerouac. It was in the same front room of St. Jean Baptiste Rectory in Lowell where Father Spike—as the 79-year-old priest has been called all his adult life—meets visitors today. He still writes a regular column for Le Journal de Lowell, Lowell's French-language newspaper, as he has for 50 years. He still speaks with a thick French accent. And he still takes people curious about Kerouac to the Rainbow Cafe, a bar around the corner, where Kerouac's picture hangs in a place of honor above the bottles.