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They squealed and creaked. The dark shape out there, skimming along obscuring
Roosevelt Island, was heading south downriver. He decided to pace it. He might
have gone straight ahead till
Schurz Park ended, then crossed the John Finley Walkway over the East River
Drive traffic, but the dark shape out there fascinated him. As far as he could
tell, he had no connection with it, in any way, of any kind. Utterly
uninvolved with the shape. It meant nothing to him; and for that reason,
chiefly, it was something to follow.
At 79th Street, the park s southern boundary behind him, East End Avenue came
to a dead end facing the side of the East End Hotel. To his left, where 79th
Street s eastern extremity terminated against the edge of Manhattan Island,
worlds-end, a low metal barrier blocked off the street from the Drive. He
walked to the barrier. Out there the black shape had come to rest on the
river.
Cars flashed past like accelerated particles, their lights blending one into
another till
chromatic bands of blue and red and silver and white formed a larger barrier
beyond the low metal fence blocking his passage. Passage where? Across six
lanes of thundering traffic and a median that provided no protection?
Protection from what? He stepped off the curb and did not realize he had
climbed over the metal fencing to do so. He stepped off into the seamless,
light-banded traffic.
Like walking across water. He crossed the uptown-bound lanes, between the
cars, walking between the raindrops, untouched. He reached the median and kept
going. Through the downtown-bound bands of light to the far side.
He looked back at the traffic. It had never touched him; but that didn t seem
strange, somehow. He knew it should, but between the now-blistering headache
and his feeling of being partially disembodied, it was inconsequential.
He climbed the low metal barrier and stood on the narrow ledge of concrete.
The East
River lay below him. He sat down on the concrete ledge and let his legs
dangle. The black shape was directly across from him, in the middle of the
river. He lowered himself down the face of the concrete wall till his feet
touched the black skin of the East River.
He had met a woman at a library sale two years before. The New York Public
Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue had been clearing out excess and
damaged stock. They had set up the tables in tiny Bryant Park abutting the
library on the 42nd Street side. He had reached for a copy of Jos Ortega y
Gasset s
The Revolt of the Masses in the 15th anniversary
Norton edition, just as she had reached for it. They came up with the book
together, and looked across the table at each other. He took her for coffee at
the Swiss Chalet on East 48th.
They went to bed only once, though he continued to see her for several months
while she tried to make up her mind whether she would return to her husband;
he was in the restaurant linen supply business. For the most part, Brubaker
sat and listened to her.
 The thing I most hate about Ed is that he s so damned self sufficient, she
said.  I
always feel if I were to vanish, he d forget me in a week and get himself
another woman and keep right on the way he is.
Brubaker said,  People have confided in me, and they ve been almost ashamed of
saying it, though I don t know why they should be, that the pain of losing
someone only lasts about a week. At least with any intensity. And then it s
simply a dull ache for a while until someone else comes along.
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 I feel so guilty seeing you and not, uh, you know.
 That s all right, he said,  I enjoy your company. And if I can be of any
use, talking to me, so you get your thoughts straight, well, that s better
than being a factor that keeps you and Ed apart.
 You re so kind. Jesus, if Ed were only a fraction as kind as you, we d have
no problems. But he s so selfish!
Little things. He ll squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle, especially a
new one, and he knows how that absolutely unhinges me, and he ll spit the
paste all over the fixtures so I have to go at them a hundred times a week -- [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]