Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/393

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The Burthen of Nineveh


Seven minutes. Do you know how long the Lord God took to destroy Babylon and Nineveh? Seven minutes. There's more wickedness in one block in New York City than there was in a square mile in Nineveh, and how long do you think the Lord God of Sabboath will take to destroy New York City an Brooklyn an the Bronx? Seven seconds. Seven seconds. . . . Say kiddo what's your name?" He dropped into his low purring voice and made a pass at Joe with his drumstick.

"Joseph Cameron Parker. . . . We live in Union."

"An what's yours?"

"Antonio Camerone . . . de guys call me Skinny. Dis guy's my cousin. His folks dey changed deir name to Parker, see?"

"Changing your name wont do no good . . . they got all the aliases down in the judgment book. . . . And verily I say unto you the Lord's day is at hand. . . . It was only yesterday that Gabriel says to me 'Well Jonah, shall we let her rip?' an I says to him, 'Gabriel ole scout think of the women and children an the little babies that dont know no better. If you shake it down with an earthquake an fire an brimstone from heaven they'll all be killed same as the rich people an sinners,' and he says to me, 'All right Jonah old horse, have it your own way. . . . We wont foreclose on em for a week or two.' . . . But it's terrible to think of, folks, the fire an brimstone an the earthquake an the tidal wave an the tall buildins crashing together."

Joe suddenly slapped Skinny on the back. "You're it," he said and ran off. Skinny followed him stumbling along the narrow path among the bushes. He caught up to him on the asphalt. "Jez, that guy's nuts," he called.

"Shut up cant ye?" snapped Joe. He was peering back through the bushes. They could still see the thin smoke of their little fire against the sky. The tramp was out of sight. They could just hear his voice calling, "Gabriel, Gabriel." They ran on breathless towards the regularly spaced safe arclights and the street.