Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/28

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Manhattan Transfer

Drowsy from the smell of lather and bayrum and singed hair that weighed down the close air of the barbershop, Bud sat nodding, his hands dangling big and red between his knees. In his eardrums he could still feel through the snipping of scissors the pounding of his feet on the hungry road down from Nyack.

"Next!"

"Whassat? . . . All right I just want a shave an a haircut."

The barber's pudgy hands moved through his hair, the scissors whirred like a hornet behind his ears. His eyes kept closing; he jerked them open fighting sleep. He could see beyond the striped sheet littered with sandy hair the bobbing hammerhead of the colored boy shining his shoes.

"Yessir" a deepvoiced man droned from the next chair, "it's time the Democratic party nominated a strong ..."

"Want a neckshave as well?" The barber's greasyskinned moonface poked into his.

He nodded.

"Shampoo?"

"No."

When the barber threw back the chair to shave him he wanted to crane his neck like a mudturtle turned over on its back. The lather spread drowsily on his face, prickling his nose, filling up his ears. Drowning in featherbeds of lather, blue lather, black, slit by the faraway glint of the razor, glint of the grubbing hoe through blueblack lather clouds. The old man on his back in the potatofield, his beard sticking up lathery white full of blood. Full of blood his socks from those blisters on his heels. His hands gripped each other cold and horny like a dead man's hands under the sheet. Lemme git up. . . . He opened his eyes. Padded fingertips were stroking his chin. He stared up at the ceiling where four flies made figure eights round a red crepe-paper bell. His tongue was dry leather in his mouth. The barber righted the chair again. Bud looked about blinking. "Four bits, and a nickel for the shine."

ADMITS KILLING CRIPPLED MOTHER . . .