“Maybe I could love you. But I wont. The grinding streets awaited me.”
“And the fierce wind is an echo of angry childhood and of a very scared boy looking out the window—remembering my dead dog outside by the wounded house as the gray Texas dust gradually covered her up—and thinking: It isnt fair! Why cant dogs go to Heaven?”
“And the next moment the fierce wind comes screaming, whirling the needle-pointed dust, stifling all hope. And you know then that what has not happened will never happen. That hope is an end within itself. And the fierce wind is an echo of angry childhood and of a very scared boy looking out the window—remembering my dead dog outside by the wounded house as the gray Texas dust gradually covered her up—and thinking: It isnt fair! Why cant dogs go to Heaven?”
“He had made much the same protest against the unfairness of the labels thrust at that world—a protest echoed over and over in that life . …”
“Isnt it possible that wanting to be wanted … or ‘loved’ … could be as much an aspect of what you call ‘love’ as actually loving back?” I said. “I mean, in choosing someone to ‘love’ you—to be loved by—while that other person chooses you to ‘love’—doesnt one complete the need of the other?”
“And now, it seems, they are all here: the handsome masculine ones desired alike by men and women; the gushing swishes, hands aflutter like wings; the few stray women secure among the men who will idolize them but not love them; and as in any group of homosexuals and those lured for whatever reason to them, there is here a mood of superficial good humor, of euphoria bordering on hysteria. So”
“I read many books, I saw many, many movies. I watched other lives, only through a window.”
“It’s too late. It’s too late. Through the open door of the bathroom I see a watersoaked bag on the floor.”
“From the street, I looked up into the apartment buildings, into the naked windows of the tiny cubicle-rooms. More haggard faces peering blankly; skinny, maimed bodies of uncaring women in slips; men without shirts. All have the same look: the look of nolonger-questioning, resigned doom. The world on its knees. …”
“Pursuing ghosts on Clark Street. … Panorama of ripped sights along the rows of ubiquitous loan shops, poolrooms, “bargain” centers, billiard halls, cheap moviehouses. Zombies in a ritualistic hungover imitation of life. Men staring dumbly at nothing. A body hes unnoticed in a heap by a doorway. An epileptic woman totters along the block . … Staring startled eyes. Mutilated harpies wobble along the street—past crippled bodies. A man beats a woman ruthlessly as the man’s two husky friends stand guard over the scene.”
“Hybrid of all the tarnished fugitives of America. From a tiny improvised stage a mustached round man announces: “The Amateur Talent Show!” … First prize: Five Magic Dollars! It can buy much magic wine. … A woman who looks like Mrs Haversham of Great Expectations sits woodenly like an elaborate stuffed bird with open eyes. On the stage a gravel-voiced man tries to sing: “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” A tramp nods, agreeing. A skinny old woman sits at the bar, sticking out her tongue at the world. A drunk man shoves a woman through a door with a sign that says PRIVATE KEEP OUT. She doesnt come out.”
“Against a wall a faded blonde woman—an exiled angel, the hints of beauty still lingering on her palewhite face—sits with blackoutlined eyes burning into the bar.”
“And I see: Dominating the skyline, at the top of a tall building, a giant searchlight scanning the city. It glides eerily, swirls over the black water. It floats, soars above the skyline, encircles the nightcity. And crazily excited I wonder suddenly if that spotlight swirling nightly is not trying somehow to embrace it all—to embrace that fusion of savage contradictions within this legend called America And I know what it is I have searched beyond Neil’s immediate world of sought pain—something momentarily lost—something found again in the park, the fugitive rooms, the derelict jungles: the world of uninvited, unasked-for pain … found now, liberatingly, even in the memory of Neil himself. And I could think in that moment, for the first time really: It’s possible to hate the filthy world and still love it with an abstract pitying love.”
“The quavering, sensual voice of Elvis Presley is coming from the juke-box in lonesome, sad, sustained, orgasmic moans: The bell-hop’s tears keep flowing The desk clerk’s dressed in black. …”
“Neil made a face of supreme disgust, and I felt anger mushrooming inside of me. “Things like that—which people cling to as memories,” he said, “it’s those things that keep men from realizing their True Nature.”
“In a few years he’ll be old,” Sylvia said, “and hes the kind that should stay Young. No brains. Just goodlooks—and an instinctive understanding of so many things. I guess no one can blame him for anything,” she said, as if to herself. “Something—something tossed him out!” she said fiercely. An intense silence. Then: “Maybe it would have been better for him if he’d fallen off the damn trapeze,” she said brutally. I looked at her, at the harsh, saddened face, and I realized how violently, at that moment, she hated the world of this bar she owned.”
“Her family threw her out, years ago; they even offered to pay her to stay away.” She added proudly: “But Kathy wouldnt take their money. Shes lived in a little hellhole in the Quarter ever since then—on her own . … Those blackouts she has— … Shes dying,” she said abruptly.”
“No, no! Youre not supposed to care!”
“In this room, the world is flaunting before me what could, if tested and found false, be its most deadly myth … love … love which, even at the beginning, was revealing itself as partly resignation; perhaps offering only the memory of an attempt to touch … implying hope of a miracle in a world so sadly devoid of miracles. Surrender to a myth constantly belied (a myth which could lull you again falsely in order to seduce you—like that belief in God—into a trap—away from the only thing which made sense—rebellion—no matter how futilely rendered by the fact of decay, of death)—belied, yet sought—sought over and over—as this man himself has searched from person to person … unfound.”
“It's that magnificent interlude in New York between winter and spring, when you feel the warmth stirring, and you remember that the dreadful naked trees will inevitably sprout tiny green buds, soon. Everyone rushes into the parks, the streets--and you even forget that, very soon , summer will come scorchingly, dropping from the sky like a blanket of steam...”
“I discovered the jungle of Central Park—between the 60s and 70s, on the west side. In the afternoons, Sundays especially, a parade of hunters prowled that area—or they would sit or lie on the grass waiting for that day’s contact.”
“But there are no real accidents, only decisions that feel like accidents, one after another, that take you down a certain road and take on a momentum that can't be reversed.”
“You brought my son back and turned him into a beautiful thing. I expect you’ll take the same care with that ol’ Hoss.”
“Asking isn't what I had in mind,” Sicarius said.
“Yes, I can see that.” Amaranthe planted a hand on his chest, fingers splayed. “Why don’t you give Yara and me a few minutes alone to discuss this? I’ll brief you on whatever we decide to do before we do it. And you can loiter nearby in case anything goes wrong.”
His face didn't soften exactly—and he gave that hand a long look before meeting Amaranthe’s eyes— but the hostility he’d been oozing did seem to lessen. “Assassins don’t loiter,” he said.
The comment startled Evrial, and she wondered if she’d heard it correctly. The man hadn't uttered much that could be classified as humor, not with her around anyway. Maybe he was simply feeling indignant.But Amaranthe smiled. “What do you call it?”
“His presence makes me feel thin. Not model slender. But worn, like an old cotton housedress. Thin like a specimen pressed between two plates of glass. Like a bug squashed beneath the marching boot of a soldier.
Thin and worn and silence like I've never known.
This is how I know he is not a Tick.
They are as pitiable as they are inhuman. They are fear personified. Their emotions and minds given over to rage and hunger. They are all noise. He is none.
If he is not a Tick, does that make him a Tock?”
“Truth, I have learned, differs for everybody. Just as no two people ever see a rainbow in exactly the same place - and yet both most certainly see it, while the person seemingly standing right underneath it does not see it at all - so truth is a question of where one stands, and the direction one is looking in at the time.”
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