Friday, 18 July 2008

18 July 2008

what he liked---thousands of people milling, and he the director of it. Dancingmaster Death indeed. But I liked him, I always liked J.W.Brierly. He was sad. I saw him threading through the crowd in loneliness. Everybody knew him. “Happy New Year,” he called, and sometimes “Merry Christmas.” He said this all the time. At Christmas he said Happy Halloween. There was an artist in the bar who was highly respected by everyone; Justin had insisted that I meet him and I was trying to avoid it; his name was Bellaconda or some such thing. His wife was with him. They sat sourly at a table. There was also some kind of Argentinian tourist at the bar. Burford gave him a shove to make room; he turned and snarled. Burford handed me his glass and knocked him down on the brass rail with one punch. The man was momentarily out. There were screams; Ed and I scooted Burford out. There was so much confusion the sheriff couldn’t even thread his way through the crowd to find the victim. Nobody could identify Burford. We went to other bars. Temko staggered up a dark street. “What the hell’s the matter? Any fights? Just call on me.” Great laughter rang from all sides. I wondered what the Spirit of the Mountain was thinking; and looked up, and saw jackpines in the moon, and saw ghosts of old miners, and wondered about it. In the whole eastern dark wall of the divide this night there was silence and the whisper of the wind, except in the ravine where we roared; and on the other side of the Divide was the great western slope, and the big plateau that went to Steamboat Springs, and dropped, and led you to the Eastern Colorado desert and the Utah desert; all in darkness now as we fumed and screamed in our mountain nook, mad drunken Americans in the mighty land. And beyond, beyond, over the Sierras the other side of the Carson sink was bejewelled bay-encircled nightlike old Frisco of my dreams. We were situated on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess---across the night, eastward over the plains where somewhere an old man with white hair was probably walking towards us with the Word and would arrive any minute and make us silent. Burford exceeded all bounds; he insisted on going back to the bar where he’d fought. Ed and I didn’t like what he did but stuck to him.

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