Sunday, January 27, 2019

the last book I ever read (Kent Haruf's Plainsong, excerpt five)

from Plainsong by Kent Haruf:

Inside Shattuck’s, country music was playing from the ceiling speakers. The young red-haired mother at the other table had finished with the chili and was smoking a cigarette. She was jiggling her foot to the music, her loose shoe half off. From the speakers overhead a girl’s voice was singing, You really had me going, baby, but now I’m gone. The woman’s foot moved with the music. Then suddenly she jumped up from the table and cried, Oh, Jesus Christ. Oh, my God. What is wrong with you? She jerked the smaller of the two girls by the arm, lifting the little girl out of her chair, and stood her violently on her feet. Couldn’t you see that was going to happen? There was a pool of chocolate milk spreading across the table from an upended glass, the dark milk spilling off the edge like a little dirty waterfall. The small girl stood away from the table watching it, her face was as white as paper and she began to whimper. Don’t you dare, the woman said. Don’t you even start that. She grabbed napkins from the dispenser and swiped at the table, spreading the mess around, then she dabbed at her hands. Shit, she said. Look at this. Finally she snatched up her purse and rushed out of the room. Behind her the two little girls clattered in their hard shoes across the tiled floor, calling for her to wait.

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