“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's
“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”
“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.”
“Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella.”
“His ear heard more than what was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.”
“Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em. ”
“Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.”
“We know what we got, and we don't care whether you know it or not.”
“I can still tend the rabbits, George? I didn't mean no harm, George.”
“We could live offa the fatta the lan'.”
“In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. KNOWING A MAN WELL NEVER LEADS TO HATE and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. TRY TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER!”
“Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
“George's voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before. 'Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to.”
“Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now."
"Sure right now. I gotta. We gotta.”
“Guys like us got nothing to look ahead to.”
“I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.”
“I ain't got no people. I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain't no good. They don't have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin' to fight all the time. . . 'Course Lennie's a God damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin' around with a guy an' you can't get rid of him.”
“At about 10 o'clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.”
“Says he foun' he jus' got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it was with the rest, an' was whole.”
“Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is.”
“Crooks stood up from his bunk and faced her. "I had enough," he said coldly. "You got no rights comin' in a colored man's room. You got no rights messing around in here at all. Now you jus' get out, an' get out quick. If you don't, I'm gonna ast the boss not to ever let you come in the barn no more."
She turned on him in scorn. "Listen, Nigger," she said. "You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?"
Crooks stared helplessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself.
She closed on him. "You know what I could do?"
Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed himself against the wall. "Yes, ma'am."
"Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny."
Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego--nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless.
For a moment she stood over him as though waiting for him to move so that she could whip at him again; but Crooks sat perfectly still, his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in. She turned at last to the other two.”
“A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.”
“Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones.”
“Lennie said quietly, "It ain't no lie. We're gonna do it. Gonna get a little place an' live on the fatta the lan'.”
“I see hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out there. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody never gets no land. It’s just in their head.”
“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment. Then gradually time awakened again and moved sluggishly on.”
“They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it.”
“I seen it over an' over—a guy talkin' to another guy and it don't make no difference if he don't hear or understand. The thing is, they're talkin', or they're settin' still not talkin'. It don't make no difference, no difference. [...] George can tell you screwy things, and it don't matter. It's just the talking. It's just bein' with another guy. That's all.”
“Lennie rolled off the bunk and stood up, and the two of them started for the door. Just as they reached it, Curley bounced in.
"You seen a girl around here?" he demanded angrily.
George said coldly, "'Bout half an hour ago maybe."
"Well, what the hell was she doin'?"
George stood still, watching the angry little man. He said insultingly, "She said--she was lookin' for you."
Curley seemed really to see George for the first time. His eyes flashed over George, took in his height, measured his reach, looked at his trim middle. "Well, which way'd she go?" he demanded at last.
"I dunno," said George. "I didn't watch her go."
Curley scowled at him, and turning, hurried out the door.
George said, "Ya know, Lennie, I'm scared I'm gonna tangle with that bastard myself. I hate his guts. Jesus Christ! Come on. There won't be a damn thing left to eat.”
“I released a breath I didn’t remember holding. Turned to Ben.
Found him looking at me, face inches from mine on Sewee’s deck.
Panic flared, white hot, paralyzing me as I lay beside him.
Our gazes met. I saw fear in his dark brown eyes. Indecision. Doubt.
Ben went rigid, his chest rising and falling like a bellows. Then something changed. His face relaxed, a small smile playing on his lips.
Before I could blink, his mouth covered mine.
We shared a breath. A tingle ran my spine.
Then I pulled back, breathing hard, unsure what either my mind or body were doing.
Ben’s unsure look returned. Then vanished.
He pulled me near again, his lips melting into mine. Strong, calloused fingers stroked the side of my face. His smell enveloped me. Earthy. Masculine. Ben.
Fire rolled through my body.
So this is what it’s like.
I broke away again, gasping slightly for breath. Reality crashed home.
I sat up and scooted a few feet away, rubbing my face with both hands. What was I doing?
His hand rose to cut me off. He leaned against the bench, face suddenly serious. “I’m not going to pretend anymore. One way or another, I’m going to say how I feel.” Ben snorted softly. “Make my case.”
We sat still in the darkness, Sewee rocking gently, the scene dream-like and surreal.
“You don’t have to make a case.” I stared at my shoes, had no idea where I wanted this conversation to go. “It’s just, things are—”
Our heads whipped in the voice’s direction. Ben scrambled to a crouch, scanning the silent bulk of Tern Point, as if just now recalling we were adrift at sea.
The voice called down again, suddenly familiar. “What, are you guys paddling around the island? I don’t have a boat license, but that seems dumb.”
“Shut up, Hi!” Ben shouted, with more heat than was necessary. Scowling, he slid behind the controls and fired the engine.
I scurried to the bow, as far from the captain’s chair as I could manage and stay dry.
You’ve done it now, Tory Brennan. Better hope there’s a life preserver somewhere.
A glance back. Ben was watching me, looking for all the world like he had more to say.
I quickly turned away.
Nope. Nope nope nope.
I needed some time to think about this one. Perhaps a decade?
“Where are we?” I asked, changing the subject.
Ben must’ve sensed that my “personal” shop was closed for business.”
“If you want the good, you can't give up.”
“My dad was never one of those dads you could ask for a quarter if you saw a gumball machine. Instead he had one of those black American Express cards not available to general public. Gumball machines didn’t have slots for those.”
“You must become your enemy to truly understand him.”
“But none of that really mattered. I had found my tribe. It felt like a family reunion for the family I'd never really known, a homecoming at the place where I was always meant to be nut hadn't known how to find.”
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