Tuesday, February 7, 2012

the last book I ever read (Ragtime, excerpt four)

from E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime:

About two hours later Coalhouse Walker Jr. came down the stairs of the Library with his arms raised and started to walk across 36th Street to the brownstone. This was according to the negotiated agreement. The street had been cleared of all observers. Facing him on the opposite sidewalk was a squad of New York's Finest armed with carbines. Lined up from one sidewalk to the other were two troops of mounted police facing each other at a distance of thirty yards, the horses shoulder to shoulder, so that a kind of corridor was formed. Coalhouse was therefore not visible to anyone looking on from the intersections at Madison Avenue or, more remotely, Park Avenue. The generators on the corner made a fearsome roar. In the bright floodlit street the black man was said by the police to have made a dash for freedom. More probably he knew that all he must do in order to end his life was to turn his head abruptly or lower his hands or smile. Inside the Library, Father heard the coordinated volley of a firing squad. He screamed. He ran to the window. The body jerked about the street in a sequence of attitudes as if it were trying to mop up its own blood. The policemen were firing at will.

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