Tuesday, April 9, 2024

the last book I ever read (Black Wings Has My Angel (New York Review Books Classics)) by Elliot Chaze, excerpt two)

from Black Wings Has My Angel (New York Review Books Classics) by Elliot Chaze:

That night we stopped at a barbecue stand where some kind of engine turned the beef ribs over and over, like a bloody Ferris wheel, over the charcoal fire. We ate slowly, washing down the greasy roasted meat with stingingly cold beer, and then we smoked and were quiet. I wanted some more potato salad and when we got it we decided to split it and get some more beer. The beer lasted longer than the salad. While we were finishing it, she moved over against me and I kissed her a long time, her lips cold and fresh and soft. She kissed the way an expert dancer follows the lead, giving and taking at exquisitely the right moment, and getting across the idea that she had a lot in reserve and this was only a sample. I’m not lying when I say I think that kiss lasted a quarter hour. But I still planned to leave her in the ladies john of some filling station. Because you can’t kiss your way out of prison and I knew that for sure. For dead sure. And even as I kissed her I remembered ’way back in the dim part of my brain how it had been in solitary at Mississippi’s Parchman. In solitary they shove your food to you through a hinged slit in the bottom of the door, and you don’t get to see anybody, not anybody at all. I used to kick the tray back out through the slit and curse them, hoping they’d come in and beat me. Anything to break the monotony. But they didn’t come. I’d shadow-box to kill time. There was no window, only the yellow light bulb with the juices of bugs on it, and I never knew if it was day or night or rain or shine or Sunday or what. You can’t kiss your way out of a place like that, and there’s no barbecue, no cold beer in there.

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