Thursday, September 26, 2013

Literary taste Test - No. 2

Novel C or Novel D?

Novel C

It was one of those mixed blocks over Central Avenue., the blocks of which were not yet all Negro. I had just come out of a three-chair barber shop where an agency thought a relief barber named Dimitros Aleidis might be working. It was a small matter. His wife said he was willing to spend a little money to have him come home.

I never found him, but Mrs. Aleidis never paid me any money either.

It was a warm day, almost the end of March, and I stood outside the barbershop looking up at the jutting neon sign of the second floor dine and dice emporium called "Florian's". A man was looking up at the sign too. He was looking up at the dusty windows with a sort of ecstatic fixity of expression, like a hunky immigrant catching his first sight of the Statue of Liberty. He was a big man but no more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck. He was about ten feet away from me.  His arms hung loose at his sides and a forgotten cigar smoked behind his enormous fingers.

Novel D

"You watch your step, Herzog, Moses. Your mother thinks you'll be a great lamden - a rabbi. But I know you, how lazy you are. Mother's hearts are broken by mamzeirim like you! Eh! Do I know you Herzog?  Through and through."

The only refuge was the W.C. , where the disinfectant camphor balls dwindled in the green trough of the urinal, and old men came down from the shul with webby eyes nearly blind, sighing, grumbling, snatches of liturgy as they waited for the water to come. Urine-crusted brass, scaly-green.  In an open stall, pants dropped to his feet, sat Nachman playing his harmonica, "Its a long way to Tipperary" "Love sends a Little Gift of Roses". The peak of his cap was warped. You heard the saliva in the cells of the tin instrument as he sucked and blew.  The bowler hatted elders washed their hands, gave their beards a finger combing. Moses observed them.

Almost certainly, Nachman ran away from the power of his old friend's memory. Herzog persecuted everyone with it.  It was like a terrible engine.

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