Uit: Zelfportret met nijlpaard (Vertaald door W. Hansen)
“Kus op de mond? Dat zou me gewoon geleken hebben, omdat het vertrouwd was. Of kus links en rechts? En wie beslist dat? Wat als ik probeer haar op haar mond te zoenen en zij me haar wang toekeert? Moeten we elkaar een hand geven? We gaan elkaar toch zeker geen hand geven!
Dan maar beter helemaal niets. – Dus zeiden we: Hallo, hoe is het? En met jou? Wat moet ik zeggen? Je gelooft me toch niet.
Ik injecteerde het kalmeringsmiddel in de borst van de oehoe en daarna een verhoogde dosis narcoticum in de vleugelader, waarvoor ik de rechtervleugel uitspreidde, de ader was makkelijk aan de binnenkant te vinden. Judith bleef bij het dier totdat het dood was. Voordat ze wegging kwam ze nog één keer uit het andere vertrek om me te bedanken.
Ik vond het jammer dat ik de oehoe niet had kunnen helpen. Ik had graag alles goed willen laten aflopen. Eén ogenblik overwoog ik nog of ik me moest excuseren, ik voelde de overweldigende behoefte sorry te zeggen. Maar per slot van rekening was het niet mijn schuld.
Judith zei: ‘Ik hoop dat je hier gevonden hebt wat je zocht.’
Ik haalde onzeker mijn schouders op en knikte halfslachtig:
‘Zo’n beetje wel…’
Ze zei: ‘Het was goed dat we uit elkaar zijn gegaan.’
‘Zo zie ik het ook,’ antwoordde ik.
‘Ja, het was goed.’
‘Als ik erop terugkijk, ja.’
‘Ik hoorde dat je in Frankrijk hebt gezeten.’
‘In Parijs, twee jaar.’
Judith wilde iets zeggen, iets persoonlijks, dacht ik. Misschien onderbrak ze zichzelf doordat een verpleegster me aan mijn mouw trok en naar de röntgentafel wees, waarop een grote hond lag.
‘Nou, dan…’ zei Judith, ‘nogmaals bedankt.”
Arno Geiger (Bregenz, 22 juli 1968)
Uit: The Outsiders
“I about decided I didn’t like it so much, though, when I spotted that red Corvair trailing me. I was almost two blocks from home then, so I started walking a little faster. I had never been jumped, but I had seen Johnny after four Socs got hold of him, and it wasn’t pretty. Johnny was scared of his own shadow after that. Johnny was sixteen then.
I knew it wasn’t any use though—the fast walking, I mean—even before the Corvair pulled up beside me and five Socs got out. I got pretty scared—I’m kind of small for fourteen even though I have a good build, and those guys were bigger than me. I automatically hitched my thumbs in my jeans and slouched, wondering if I could get away if I made a break for it. I remembered Johnny—his face all cut up and bruised, and I remembered how he had cried when we found him, half-conscious, in the corner lot. Johnny had it awful rough at home—it took a lot to make him cry.
I was sweating something fierce, although I was cold. I could feel my palms getting clammy and the perspiration running down my back. I get like that when I’m real scared. I glanced around for a pop bottle or a stick or something—Steve Randle, Soda’s best buddy, had once held off four guys with a busted pop bottle—but there was nothing. So I stood there like a bump on a log while they surrounded me. I don’t use my head. They walked around slowly, silently, smiling.
“Hey, grease,” one said in an over-friendly voice. “We’re gonna do you a favor, greaser. We’re gonna cut all that long greasy hair off.”
He had on a madras shirt. I can still see it. Blue madras. One of them laughed, then cussed me out in a low voice. I couldn’t think of anything to say. There just isn’t a whole lot you can say while waiting to get mugged, so I kept my mouth shut.
“Need a haircut, greaser?” The medium-sized blond pulled a knife out of his back pocket and flipped the blade open.
I finally thought of something to say. “No.” I was backing up, away from that knife. Of course I backed right into one of them. They had me down in a second. They had my arms and legs pinned down and one of them was sitting on my chest with his knees on my elbows, and if you don’t think that hurts, you’re crazy. I could smell English Leather shaving lotion and stale tobacco, and I wondered foolishly if I would suffocate before they did anything. I was scared so bad I was wishing I would. I fought to get loose, and almost did for a second; then they tightened up on me and the one on my chest slugged me a couple of times. So I lay still, swearing at them between gasps. A blade was held against my throat.”
Susan Hinton (Tulsa, 22 juli 1948)
Scene uit de gelijknamige film uit 1983.
Uit: Serious Men
“The crowd on the Worli Seaface was swelling: it was now a giant colourless swarm. Pale boys with defeat in their eyes walked in horizontal gangs; they giggled at the aerobics of unattainable women. And they did not give way to the hasty girls. Ayyan loved this about the city-the humid crowds, the great perpetual squeeze, the silent vengeance of the poor. In the miserly lifts and stuffed trains, he often heard the relief of afternoon farts, saw scales on strange faces and the veins in their still eyes. And the secret moustaches of women. And the terrible green freshness when they had been newly removed with a thread. He felt the shoves and pushes and the heaviness of paunches. This unnerving constriction of Bombay he loved, because the congestion of hopeless shuffling human bodies he was born into was also, in a way, the fate of the rich. On the streets, in the trains, in the paltry gardens and sudden beaches, everybody was poor. And that was fair. The desperate lovers were still arriving and they quickly stole the gaps on the parapet between other fused couples. And then they, too, sat facing the sea with their backs to the great passing crowds, arranged their bodies and did their discreet things. Among these lovers were married people, some of them even married to each other. When night fell, they went back to their one-room homes, which were as large as a Mercedes, to rejoin their children, elders, siblings, nephews and nieces, all heaped under a single roof in gigantic clusters of boiling tenements. Like the BDD chawl, the mother hell. People who knew what BDD stood for were not the kind who lived there. But Ayyan knew such things, even though he was born on a cold floor there, thirty-nine years ago……He walked down the dim corridor of the third floor, which was the top floor. It was flanked by ageing pale-yellow walls with huge cracks that ran like dark river systems. There were about forty open doors here. Unmoving shadows sat on the doorways and gaped. Old widows calmly combed their hair. Children ran happily on the ancient grey stones of the corridor. He knocked on the only door on the corridor that was shut. As he waited, he felt the turbulence of all those open doors, and the milling shadows.”
Manu Joseph (Kottayam, 22 juli 1974)
Going Back To School
The boat ploughed on. Now Alcatraz was past
And all the grey waves flamed to red again
At the dead sun’s last glimmer. Far and vast
The Sausalito lights burned suddenly
In little dots and clumps, as if a pen
Had scrawled vague lines of gold across the hills;
The sky was like a cup some rare wine fills,
And stars came as he watched
— and he was free
One splendid instant — back in the great room,
Curled in a chair with all of them beside
And the whole world a rush of happy voices,
With laughter beating in a clamorous tide. . . .
Saw once again the heat of harvest fume
Up to the empty sky in threads like glass,
And ran, and was a part of what rejoices
In thunderous nights of rain; lay in the grass
Sun-baked and tired, looking through a maze
Of tiny stems into a new green world;
Once more knew eves of perfume, days ablaze
With clear, dry heat on the brown, rolling fields;
Shuddered with fearful ecstasy in bed
Over a book of knights and bloody shields . . .
The ship slowed, jarred and stopped. There, straight ahead,
Were dock and fellows. Stumbling, he was whirled
Out and away to meet them — and his back
Slumped to the old half-cringe, his hands fell slack;
A big boy’s arm went round him — and a twist
Sent shattering pain along his tortured wrist,
As a voice cried, a bloated voice and fat,
“Why it’s Miss Nancy! Come along, you rat!”
Stephen Vincent Benét (22 juli 1898 – 13 maart 1943)
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Main Street
Uit: Wild Ducks Flying Backward
“Getting back on course, beneath those baseball caps that advertise brands of beer or heavy equipment, under those genuine imitation Stetsons, there’re some rough ol’ hangovers being processed and some rough ol’ ideas being entertained. One simply does not approach a miner, a wrangler, a prospector, a gambler, a Stealth pilot, a construction sweat hog, or sandblasted freebooter and interrupt his thoughts about big, fast bucks and those forces—environmental legislation, social change, loaded dice, et cetera—that could stand between him and big, fast bucks; one simply does not march up to such a man, a man who lifts his crusty lid to no one, and ask:
“Sir, might you possibly direct me to the Canyon of the Vaginas?”
Should readers desire to make their own pilgrimage to the Canyon of the Vaginas—and it is, after all, one of the few holy places left in America—they’ll have to find it by themselves. Were one to inquire of its whereabouts at a bar or gas station (in west-central Nevada they’re often one and the same, complete with slot machines), the best that one could hope for is that a dude would wink and aim one at the pink gates of Bobbie’s Cottontail Ranch, or whatever the nearest brothel might be called.
In the improbable event that he fails to misinterpret one’s inquiry, and/or to take sore offense at it, a dude still isn’t likely to further one’s cause. For that matter, save for the odd archeologist, neither is anybody else. The population of Nevada arises every morning, straightens its hat, swallows a few aspirin, and trucks off to try to strike it rich without so much as a nervous suspicion that the Canyon of the Vaginas lies within its domain.
Your pilgrim learned of it from a Salt Lake City artist who has hiked and camped extensively in the high deserts of the Great Basin. The man drew me a fairly specific map, but I, in good conscience, cannot pass along the details. My reluctance to share is rooted neither in selfishness nor elitism, but in the conviction that certain aspects of the canyon are quite fragile and in need of protection.
Not that genuflecting hordes are likely to descend upon it: the canyon is remote; troubled, according to season, by killer sun, ripping wind, and blinding blizzard; and is reached by a road that nobody making monthly car payments should even think of driving. Still, there are plenty of new-agers with the leisure and energy to track down yet another “power center,” and plenty of curiosity seekers with an appetite for the exotic souvenir. Surely I’ll be forgiven if I’m ever so slightly discreet. »
Tom Robbins (Blowing Rock, 22 juli 1936)
Zie voor de schrijvers van de 22 juli ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.