Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/331

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Revolving Doors


stumped back to the table. "We eat good here, eh Meester Erf?"

The young-man got to his feet wiping his mouth on his forearm. "Got a nickel Congo," he said doing a double shuffle with his sneakered feet. "Here go Johnny." The girl followed him out into the dark outer room. In a moment a mechanical piano started tinkling out a waltz. Through the door Jimmy could see them dancing in and out of the oblong of light. The chugging of the motorboat drew nearer. Congo went out, then Cardinale and his wife, until Jimmy was left alone sipping a glass of wine among the debris of the dinner. He felt excited and puzzled and a little drunk. Already he began to construct the story in his mind. From the road came the grind of gears of a truck, then of another. The motorboat engine choked, backfired and stopped. There was the creak of a boat against the piles, a swash of waves and silence. The mechanical piano had stopped. Jimmy sat sipping his wine. He could smell the rankness of salt marshes seeping into the house. Under him there was a little lapping sound of the water against the piles. Another motorboat was beginning to sputter in the far distance.

"Got a nickel?" asked Congo breaking into the room suddenly. "Make music. . . . Very funny night tonight. Maybe you and Annette keep piano goin. I didnt see McGee about landin. . . . Maybe somebody come. Must be veree quick." Jimmy got to his feet and started fishing in his pockets. By the piano he found Annette. "Wont you dance?" She nodded. The piano played Innocent Eyes. They danced distractedly. Outside were voices and footsteps. "Please," she said all at once and they stopped dancing. The second motorboat had come very near; the motor coughed and rattled still. "Please stay here," she said and slipped away from him.

Jimmy Herf walked up and down uneasily puffing on a cigarette. He was making up the story in his mind. . . . In a lonely abandoned dancehall on Sheepshead Bay . . . lovely blooming Italian girl . . . shrill whistle in the dark.