Sunday, 18 January 2009

18 January 2009

generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done…whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was. “What do you want out of life?” I wanted to take her and wring it out of her. She didn’t have the slightest idea what she wanted. She mumbled of jobs, movies, going to her grandmother’s for the summer, wishing she could go to New York and visit the Roxy, what kind of outfit she would wear---something like the one she wore last Easter, white bonnet, roses, rose pumps and leather gabardine coat. “What do you do on Sunday afternoons?” I asked. She sat on her porch. The boys went by on bicycles and stopped to chat. She read the funny papers, she reclined on the hammock. “What do you do on a warm summer’s night?” She sat on the porch, she watched the cars go by in the road. She and her mother made popcorn. “What does your father do on a summer’s night?” He works, he has an all-night shift at the boiler factory. “What does your brother do on a summer’s night?” He rides around on his bicycle, he hangs out in front of the sodafountain. What is he aching to do? What are we all aching to do? What do we want?” She didn’t know. She yawned. She was sleepy. It was too much. Nobody could tell. Nobody would ever tell. It was all over. She was eighteen and most lovely, and lost. And Neal and I, ragged and dirty like as if we had lived off locust, stumbled out of the bus in Detroit and went across the street and got a cheap hotel with the bulb hanging from the ceiling and raised the brown torn shade and looked out on the brickalley. Right beyond the furthest garbage pails something awaited us…Two gone women in slacks ran the place. We thought it was a whore house. Rules were printed and tacked on every slatwall in the joint. “Have consideration for fellow tenants and don’t hang wash in here.” Don’t do this, don’t do that. Neal and I went out and ate a meatloaf meal in a bum cafeteria and started walking to my wife’s house five miles up Mack Avenue in the vast Detroit dusk. I had called her and she wasn’t in yet. “We’ll wait for her if necessary all night on the lawn.” “Right man, now I’m following with you and you lead the way.” At ten o’clock that night we were still wrapped in conversation when a cruising car pulled up and two cops got out with

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