Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/339

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Revolving Doors


His face flushes purple, he sits upright in his chair banging with his fist on the corner of the desk. "Now you're getting me all excited. . . . Bad for my stomach, bad for my heart." Phineas Blackhead belches portentously and takes a great gulp out of the glass of bicarbonate of soda. Then he leans back in his chair again letting his heavy lids half cover his eyes.

"Well old man," says Mr. Densch in a tired voice, "it may have been a bad thing to do, but I've promised to support the reform candidate. That's a purely private matter in no way involving the firm."

"Like hell it dont. . . . How about McNiel and his gang? . . . They've always treated us all right and all we've ever done for em's a couple of cases of Scotch and a few cigars now and then. . . . Now we have these reformers throw the whole city government into a turmoil. . . . By the Living Jingo . . ."

Densch gets to his feet. "My dear Blackhead I consider it my duty as a citizen to help in cleaning up the filthy conditions of bribery, corruption and intrigue that exist in the city government . . . I consider it my duty as a citizen . . ." He starts walking to the door, his round belly stuck proudly out in front of him.

"Well allow me to say Densch that I think its a damn fool proposition," Blackhead shouts after him. When his partner has gone he lies back a second with his eyes closed. His face takes on the mottled color of ashes, his big fleshy frame is shrinking like a deflating balloon. At length he gets to his feet with a groan. Then he takes his hat and coat and walks out of the office with a slow heavy step. The hall is empty and dimly lit. He has to wait a long while for the elevator. The thought of holdup men sneaking through the empty building suddenly makes him catch his breath. He is afraid to look behind him, like a child in the dark. At last the elevator shoots up.

"Wilmer," he says to the night watchman who runs it, "there ought to be more light in these halls at night. . . .