Monday, 16 June 2008

16 June 2008

been in this town before. It was years ago, during the fucking war, at night, late at night when everybody was sleeping, I went out on the platform to smoke, and there we was in the middle of nowhere and black as hell and I look up and see that name Preston written on the watertank…bound for the Pacific, everybody snoring, every damn dumb sucker, and we only stayed a few minutes stoking up or something and off we went. Damn me, this Preston! – I hated this place ever since!” And we were stuck in Preston. As in Davenport Iowa somehow all the cars were farmer-cars; and once in a while a tourist car, which is worse, with old men driving and their wives pointing out the sights or poring over maps, and sitting back like they do in living rooms all over America looking at everything with suspicious faces. The drizzle increased and Eddie got cold; he had very little clothes. I fished a wool plaid shirt from my canvas bag and he put it on. He felt a little better. I had a cold. I bought cough drops in a rickety Indian store of some kind. I went to the little two-by-four post office and wrote my mother a penny postcard. We went back to the gray road. There she was in front of us, Preston, written on the watertank. The Rock Island balled by. We saw the faces of Pullman passengers go by in a blur. The train howled off across the plains in the direction of our desires. It started to rain harder. But I knew I’d get there. A tall, lanky fellow in a gallon hat stopped his car on the wrong side of the road and acme over to us; he looked like a sheriff. We prepared our stories secretly. He took his time coming over. “You boys going to get somewhere, or just going?” We didn’t understand his question and it was a damned good question. “Why?” we said. “Well I own a little carnival that’s pitched a few mile down the road and I’m looking for some old boys willing to work and make a buck for themselves. I’ve got a roulette concession and a wooden ring concession, you know, the kind you throw around dolls and take your luck. You boys want to work for me you can get 30% of the take.” “Room and board?” “You can get a bed but no food. You’ll have to eat in town for that. We travel some.” We thought it over. “It’s a good opportunity,” he said and waited patiently for us to make up our

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