Thursday, 12 March 2009

12 March 2009

and rotten jungle all over from hair and face to feet and toes. Of course I was barefoot. To minimize the sweat I put on my bug-smeared T-shirt and lay back again. A huddle of darkness on the blacker road showed where Neal was sleeping. I could hear him snoring. Frank was snoring too. Occasionally a dim light flashed in town and this was the sheriff making his rounds with a weak battery and mumbling to himself in the junglenight. Then I saw his his light jiggling towards us and heard his footfalls coming soft on the mats of sand and vegetation. He stopped and flashed the car. I sat up and looked at him. In a quivering almost querulous and extremely tender voice he said “Dormiendo?” indicating Neal in the road. I knew this meant sleep. “Si, dormiendo.” “Bueno, bueno” he said to himself and with reluctance and sadness turned away and went back to his lonely rounds. Such loveley policemen God hath never wrought in America. No suspicions, no fuss, no bother: he was the guardian of the sleeping town, period. I went back to my bed of steel and stretched out with my arms outspread. I didn’t even know if branches or open sky was directly above me, and it made no difference. I opened my mouth to it and drew deep breaths of jungle atmosphere. It was not air, never air, but the palpable and living emanation of trees and swamp. I stayed awake. Roosters began to crow the dawn across the brakes somewhere. Still no air, no breeze, no dew, but the same Tropic of Cancer heaviness held us all pinned to earth where we belonged and tingled. There was no sign of dawn in the skies. Suddenly I heard the dogs barking furiously across the dark and then I heard the faint clip clop of horse’s hooves. It came closer and closer. What kind of mad rider in the night would this be? Then I saw an apparition: a wild-horse, white as a ghost, came trotting down the road directly towards Neal. Behind him the dogs yammered and contended. I couldn’t see them, they were dirty old jungle dogs, but the horse was white as snow and immense and almost phosphorescent and easy to see. I felt no panic for Neal. The horse saw him and trotted right by his head, passed the car like a ship, whinnied softly, and continued on through town bedeviled by the dogs and clipclopped back to the jungle on the

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