IV. Fire Engine
Such afternoons the buses are crowded into line like elephants in a circusparade. Morningside Heights to Washington Square, Penn Station to Grant's Tomb. Parlorsnakes and flappers joggle hugging downtown uptown, hug joggling gray square after gray square, until they see the new moon giggling over Weehawken and feel the gusty wind of a dead Sunday blowing dust in their faces, dust of a typsy twilight.
THEY are walking up the Mall in Central Park.
"Looks like he had a boil on his neck," says Ellen in front of the statue of Burns.
"Ah," whispers Harry Goldweiser with a fat-throated sigh, "but he was a great poet."
She is walking in her wide hat in her pale loose dress that the wind now and then presses against her legs and arms, silkily, swishily walking in the middle of great rosy and purple and pistachiogreen bubbles of twilight that swell out of the grass and trees and ponds, bulge against the tall houses sharp gray as dead teeth round the southern end of the park, melt into the indigo zenith. When he talks, forming sentences roundly with his thick lips, continually measuring her face with his brown eyes, she feels his words press against her body, nudge in the hollows where her dress clings; she can hardly breathe for fear of listening to him.
"The Zinnia Girl's going to be an absolute knockout, Elaine, I'm telling you and that part's just written for you, I'd enjoy working with you again, honest. . . . You're so different, that's what it is about you. All these girls round New York here are just the same, they're monotonous. Of course you could sing swell if you wanted to. . . . I've been crazy as a loon since I met you, and that's a good six months now. I sit down to eat and the food dont have any taste. . . . You cant understand how lonely a man gets when year