Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/133

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Steamroller

121

Customhouse, Jim Herf turns and stares long up the deep gash of Broadway, facing the wind squarely. Uncle Jeff and his office can go plumb to hell.

Bud sat on the edge of his cot and stretched out his arms and yawned. From all round through a smell of sweat and sour breath and wet clothes came snores, the sound of men stirring in their sleep, creaking of bedsprings. Far away through the murk burned a single electric light. Bud closed his eyes and let his head fall over on his shoulder, O God I want to go to sleep. Sweet Jesus I want to go to sleep. He pressed his knees together against his clasped hands to keep them from trembling. Our father which art in Heaven I want to go to sleep.

"Wassa matter pardner cant ye sleep?" came a quiet whisper from the next cot.

"Hell, no." "Me neither."

Bud looked at the big head of curly hair held up on an elbow turned towards him.

"This is a hell of a lousy stinking flop," went on the voice evenly. "I'll tell the world . . . Forty cents too! They can take their Hotel Plaza an . . ."

"Been long in the city?"

"Ten years come August."

"Great snakes!"

A voice rasped down the line of cots, "Cut de comedy yous guys, what do you tink dis is, a Jewish picnic?"

Bud lowered his voice: "Funny, it's years I been thinkin an wantin to come to the city. . . . I was born an raised on a farm upstate."

"Why dont ye go back?"

"I cant go back." Bud was cold; he wanted to stop trembling. He pulled the blanket up to his chin and rolled over facing the man who was talking. "Every spring I says to myself I'll hit the road again, go out an plant myself among