Tuesday, 9 September 2008

09 September 2008

blacktar roads that curve among the mournful rivers like Susquehanna, Monongahela, old Potomac and Monocacy. This experience thoroughly shattered me; that night in Harrisburg bore me the punishment of the damned, and ever since. I had to sleep in the railroad station on a bench; at dawn the ticketmasters threw me out. Isn’t it true that you start your life a sweet child believing in everything under his father’s roof, then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and with the visage of a gruesome grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life. I stumbled haggardly out of the station; I had no more control. All I could see of the morning was a whiteness like the whiteness of the tomb. I was starving to death. All I had left in the form of calories were the last of the coughdrops I’d bought in Preston Nebraska months ago; these I sucked for their sugar. I didn’t know how to panhandle. I stumbled out of town with barely enough strength to reach the city limits. I knew I’d be arrested if I spent another night in Harrisburg. Cursed city! Bad morning! Where were the mornings of my boyhood vision? What’s a man going to do? Life is one irony after another, because the ride I then proceeded to get was the ride of a skinny haggard man who believed in controlled starvation for the sake of health. When I told him I was starving to death as we rolled east he said “Fine, fine, there’s nothing better for you. I myself haven’t eaten for three days. I’m going to live to be one hundred and fifty years old.” He was a ghost---a bag of bones---a floppy doll---a broken stick---a maniac. I could have gotten a ride with an affluent fat man who’d say “Let’s stop at this restaurant and have some porkchops and beans.” No, I had to get a ride that morning with a maniac who believed in controlled starvation for the sake of health. Somewhere in New Jersey he grew lenient and took out bread and butter sandwiches from the back of the car. They were hidden among his salesman samples. He was selling plumbing fixtures around Pennsylvania. I devoured the bread and butter. Suddenly I began to laugh. I was all alone in the car waiting for him as he made business calls in Allentown, N.J., and I laughed and laughed. Gad, I was sick and tired

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