Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/157

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Longlegged Jack of the Isthmus


you at 5:10. A hard lump caught in his throat; he's going to fire me. His fingers started tapping again:

From Glasgow, Dutch steamer Delft, Captain Tromp; 200 bales, 123 boxes, 14 kegs. . . .

Joe Harland roamed about the Battery till he found an empty seat on a bench, then he let himself flop into it. The sun was drowning in tumultuous saffron steam behind Jersey. Well that's over. He sat a long while staring at the sunset like at a picture in a dentist's waiting room. Great whorls of smoke from a passing tug curled up black and scarlet against it. He sat staring at the sunset, waiting. That's eighteen dollars and fifty cents I had before, less six dollars for the room, one dollar and eighty-four cents for laundry, and four dollars and fifty cents I owe Charley, makes seven dollars and eighty-four cents, eleven dollars and eighty four cents, twelve dollars and thirty-four cents from eighteen dollars and fifty cents leaves me six dollars and sixteen cents, three days to find another job if I go without drinks. O God wont my luck ever turn; used to have good enough luck in the old days. His knees were trembling, there was a sick burning in the pit of his stomach.

A fine mess you've made of your life Joseph Harland. Forty-five and no friends and not a cent to bless yourself with.

The sail of a catboat was a crimson triangle when it luffed a few feet from the concrete walk. A young man and a young girl ducked together as the slender boom swung across. They both were bronzed with the sun and had yellow weather bleached hair. Joe Harland gnawed his lip to keep back the tears as the catboat shrank into the ruddy murk of the bay. By God I need a drink.

"Aint it a croime? Aint it a croime?" The man in the seat to the left of him began to say over and over again. Joe Harland turned his head; the man had a red puckered face and silver hair. He held the dramatic section of the paper taut between two grimy flippers. "Them young actresses all dressed naked like that. . . . Why cant they let you alone."