Sunday, July 31, 2016

the last book I ever read (James Baldwin's Another Country, excerpt nine)

from Another Country by James Baldwin:

“When we saw Rufus’s body, I can’t tell you. My father stared at it, he stared at it, and stared at it. It didn’t look like Rufus, it was—terrible—from the water, and he must have struck something going down, or in the water, because he was so broken and lumpy—and ugly. My brother. And my father stared at it—at it—and he said, They don’t leave a man much, do they? His own father beaten to death with a hammer by a railroad guard. And they brought his father home like that. My mother got frightened, she wanted my father to pray. And he said, he shouted it at the top of his lungs, Pray? Who, pray? I bet you, if I ever get anywhere near that white devil you call God, I’ll tear my son and my father out of his white hide! Don’t you ever say the word Pray to me again, woman, not if you want to live. Then he started to cry. I’ll never forget it. Maybe I hadn’t loved him before, but I loved him then. That was the last time he ever shouted, he hasn’t raised his voice since. He just sits there, he doesn’t even drink any more. Sometimes he goes out and listens to those fellows who make speeches on 125th Street and Seventh Avenue. He says he just wants to live long enough—long enough----.”

Vivaldo said, to break the silence which abruptly roared around to them, “To be paid back.”

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