"The Pelican Talks to Jack"
John Graham
pastel, graphite, dry brush on paper
35"W x 44"H

Of all the work I did regarding my time in El Fornio, the least practical was likely "The Pelican Talks to Jack." Many people know about the story of Jack Kennedy. I talked to some people who claimed to have known him and worked at the gas station with him across the street from the high school where a lot of the story took place. I figured that at least one piece I did had to be based on this story.
   Here I have taken an episode described to me by Mike Goodman, who worked at the gas station with Jack. Jack, when he was in an “episode,” which meant that his body was changing or some such thing, would hide out in a dry sewer vault he used as a kind of escape area. One afternoon, a local homeless man named Elihu Targuman, well know in the community, was said to have given him a concoction of datura and Gatorade—unbeknownst to Jack. This was Targuman's idea to introduce Jack to the more cosmological aspects of his situation. It was said that Targuman fancied himself a kind of mentor to Jack. Targuman had actually gone to the high school as well, according to records. The datura made Jack confused and he cut his foot on the glass that had held the concoction. The pelican is really Sean Heaney, a dwarf in costume who performed as the North High Pelicans mascot. As I heard it, Targuman put Mr. Heaney up to the task of showing up in the sewer vault while Jack was high, the idea being that Jack would think it was a real pelican talking to him. The pelican has a long mythological history which I won't go into here. Long story short, Jack took it to be a real pelican and told several people before he figured out the truth.
  In 1996, the literary journal Spectrum published part of a long story I wrote about Jack Kennedy and other goings-on in El Fornio, California, from "The El Fornio Story Cycle." Click here to read excerpts from the story cycle.


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