Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/90

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IV. Tracks

The rumpetybump rumpetybump spaced out, slackened; bumpers banged all down the train. The man dropped off the rods. He couldnt move for stiffness. It was pitchblack. Very slowly he crawled out, hoisted himself to his knees, to his feet until he leaned panting against the freightcar. His body was not his own; his muscles were smashed wood, his bones were twisted rods. A lantern burst his eyes.

"Get outa here quick yous. Company detectives is beatin through de yards"

"Say feller, is this New York?"

"You're goddam right it is. Juss foller my lantern; you kin git out along de waterfront."

His feet could barely stumble through the long gleaming v's and crisscrossed lines of tracks, he tripped and fell over a bundle of signal rods. At last he was sitting on the edge of a wharf with his head in his hands. The water made a soothing noise against the piles like the lapping of a dog. He took a newspaper out of his pocket and unwrapped a hunk of bread and a slice of gristly meat. He ate them dry, chewing and chewing before he could get any moisture in his mouth. Then he got unsteadily to his feet, brushed the crumbs off his knees, and looked about him. Southward beyond the tracks the murky sky was drenched with orange glow.

"The Gay White Way," he said aloud in a croaking voice. "The Gay White Way."

THROUGH the rainstriped window Jimmy Herf was watching the umbrellas bob in the slowly swirling traffic that flowed up Broadway. There was a knock at the door; "Come in," said Jimmy and turned back to the