Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/219

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Fire Engine

207

I couldn't handle your case. The firm wouldnt stand for it," he whispered fiercely. Then he said aloud in his usual voice, "Well how's the wife, Gus?"

Outside in the shiny marble hall, Joe O'Keefe was whistling Sweet Rosy O'Grady waiting for the elevator. Imagine a guy havin a knockout like that for a secretary. He stopped whistling and let the breath out silently through pursed lips. In the elevator he greeted a walleyed man in a check suit. "Hullo Buck."

"Been on your vacation yet?"

Joe stood with his feet apart and his hands in his pockets. He shook his head. "I get off Saturday."

"I guess I'll take in a couple o days at Atlantic City myself."

"How do you do it?"

"Oh the kid's clever."

Coming out of the building O'Keefe had to make his way through people crowding into the portal. A slate sky sagging between the tall buildings was spatting the pavements with fiftycent pieces. Men were running to cover with their straw hats under their coats. Two girls had made hoods of newspaper over their summer bonnets. He snatched blue of their eyes, a glint of lips and teeth as he passed. He walked fast to the corner and caught an uptown car on the run. The rain advanced down the street in a solid sheet glimmering, swishing, beating newspapers flat, prancing in silver nipples along the asphalt, striping windows, putting shine on the paint of streetcars and taxicabs. Above Fourteenth there was no rain, the air was sultry.

"A funny thing weather," said an old man next to him. O'Keefe grunted. "When I was a boy onct I saw it rain on one side of the street an a house was struck by lightnin an on our side not a drop fell though the old man wanted it bad for some tomatoplants he'd just set out."

Crossing Twentythird O'Keefe caught sight of the tower of Madison Square Garden. He jumped off the car; the momentum carried him in little running steps to the curb. Turning his coatcollar down again he started across the