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Manhattan Transfer

his hat to the back of his head and cleared his throat with a loud barking noise. "Gentlemen, one of two roads lies before us . . ."

In the sunlight on the windowledge a fly sat scrubbing his wings with his hinder legs. He cleaned himself all over, twisting and untwisting his forelegs like a person soaping his hands, stroking the top of his lobed head carefully; brushing his hair. Jimmy's hand hovered over the fly and slapped down. The fly buzzed tinglingly in his palm. He groped for it with two fingers, held it slowly squeezing it into mashed gray jelly between finger and thumb. He wiped it off under the windowledge. A hot sick feeling went through him. Poor old fly, after washing himself so carefully, too. He stood a long time looking down the air-shaft through the dusty pane where the sun gave a tiny glitter to the dust. Now and then a man in shirtsleeves crossed the court below with a tray of dishes. Orders shouted and the clatter of dishwashing came up faintly from the kitchens.

He stared through the tiny glitter of the dust on the windowpane. Mother's had a stroke and next week I'll go back to school.

"Say Herfy have you learned to fight yet?"

"Herfy an the Kid are goin to fight for the flyweight championship before lights."

"But I dont want to."

"Kid wants to. . . . Here he comes. Make a ring there you ginks."

"I dont want to, please."

"You've damn well got to, we'll beat hell outa both of yo if you dont."

"Say Freddy that's a nickel fine from you for swearing."

"Jez I forgot."

"There you go again. . . . Paste him in the slats."

"Go it Herfy, I'm bettin on yer."