Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/170

This page has been validated.


Manhattan Transfer

the promise, no I may say the certainty of a very good position beginning Monday."

"I vait tree veeks . . . I not vait any more."

"But my dear lady I assure you upon my honor as a gentleman. . ."

Mrs. Budkowitz began to jerk her shoulders about. Her voice rose thin and wailing like the sound of a peanut wagon.

"You pay me tat fifteen dollar or I rent te room to somebody else."

"I'll pay you this very evening."

"Vat time?"

"Six o'clock."

"Allright. Plis you give me key."

"But I cant do that. Suppose I was late?"

"Tat's vy I vant te key. I'm trough vit vaiting."

"All right take the key. . . . . I hope you understand that after this insulting behavior it will be impossible for me to remain longer under your roof."

Mrs. Budkowitz laughed hoarsely. "Allright ven you pay me fifteen dollar you can take avay your grip." He put the two keys tied together with string into her gray hand and slammed the door and strode down the street.

At the corner of Third Avenue he stopped and stood shivering in the hot afternoon sunlight, sweat running down behind his ears. He was too weak to swear. Jagged oblongs of harsh sound broke one after another over his head as an elevated past over. Trucks grated by along the avenue raising a dust that smelled of gasoline and trampled horsedung. The dead air stank of stores and lunchrooms. He began walking slowly uptown towards Fourteenth Street. At a corner a crinkly warm smell of cigars stopped him like a hand on his shoulder. He stood a while looking in the little shop watching the slim stained fingers of the cigarroller shuffle the brittle outside leaves of tobacco. Remembering Romeo and Juliet Arguelles Morales he sniffed deeply. The slick tearing of tinfoil, the careful slipping off of the band, the tiny ivory penknife for the end that slit delicately as flesh, the smell of the wax match, the long inhaling of bitter