Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/249

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

VI. Five Statutory Questions

They pair off hurriedly. Standing Up in Cars Strictly Forbidden. The climbing chain grates, grips the cogs; jerkily the car climbs the incline out of the whirring lights, out of the smell of crowds and steamed corn and peanuts, up jerkily grating up through the tall night of September meteors.

Sea, marshsmell, the lights of an Iron Steamboat leaving the dock. Across wide violet indigo a lighthouse blinks. Then the swoop. The sea does a flipflop, the lights soar. Her hair in his mouth, his hand in her ribs, thighs grind together.

The wind of their falling has snatched their yells, they jerk rattling upwards through the tangled girderstructure. Swoop. Soar. Bubbling lights in a sandwich of darkness and sea. Swoop. Keep Your Seats for the Next Ride.

Come on in Joe, I'll see if the ole lady kin git us some grub."

"Very kind of you . . . er . . . I'm not . . . er . . . exactly dressed to meet a lady you see."

"Oh she wont care. She's just my mother; sit down, I'll git her."

Harland sat down on a chair beside the door in the dark kitchen and put his hands on his knees. He sat staring at his hands; they were red and dirtgrained and trembling, his tongue was like a nutmeg grater from the cheap whiskey he had been drinking the last week, his whole body felt numb and sodden and sour. He stared at his hands.

Joe O'Keefe came back into the kitchen. "She's loin down. She says there's some soup on the back of the stove. . . . Here ye are. That'll make a man of ye. . . . Joe you ought to been where I was last night. Went out to this here Seaside Inn to take a message to the chief about somebody tippin him off that they was going to close the market. . . .