Wednesday, February 23, 2022

the last book I ever read (Harlem Shuffle: A Novel by Colson Whitehead, excerpt three)

from Harlem Shuffle: A Novel by Colson Whitehead:

They got two more calls about the banging. It was loud, rebounding on the vault walls, vibrating in the very bones of the building. The excuse about the broken elevator came about after they decided to keep the operator on ice in the office. How many people would call for the elevator between 4:00 and 4:20 a.m.? Maybe none, maybe plenty. How many would take the stairs down and be ushered by Pepper in his gentle way into the office with the other captives? Just one it turned out, at 4: 17, a certain Fernando Gabriel Ruiz, Venezuelan national and distributor of handcrafted crockery, who would never visit this city again, after what happened last time and now this, fuck it. And how many guests knocked on the front door to be let into their rooms? Also one—Pepper unlocked the door and marched Mr. Leonard Gates of Gary, Indiana, currently staying in room 807 with its lumpy bed and the hex from the guy who’d had a heart attack, into the back with the rest. Plenty of room in the manager’s office. Stack them like firewood or standing room only if need be.

Given that only two souls had intruded on their scheme, Miami Joe said, “Keep going,” when Arthur told him twenty minutes was up.

He wanted to push their luck.

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