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March 22, 1941 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1941-03-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

P E R S P E C T I V E7 Q

Paire~~

K-'AX x4; , AI .cv age ze
THE GA yE OF SOLITAIRE.
by William Kehoe

el

ERNIE SAT SHUFFLING and re-
shuffling a well-worn deck of
cards. The design on the cards
was a simple one, a white sail
against a blue sky above a green sea.
The blue was the vibrant shade it had
always been, and the green too; but
the white was now a smudgy gray.
Bernie cut the cards and shuffled them
leisurely once more and then set them
aside.
"Nothing else to do, Bernie?" Mrs.
Hutt asked from behind the lunchroom
counter. "Didn't Ed want you over at
the merry-go-round right after supper?"
"Not tonight. Wednesday night trade
is always bad, and all he wants me to
do is tend the rings and collect tickets."
"Tend the rings, eh? Seem like a
grown boy like you could do more than
that. There's Ed so tired and every-
thing. Seems like you could sell the
tickets for him and tend the rings too."
From across her counter she looked
sharply at him where he sat at one of
the fly-pockmarked lunchroom tables.
He avoided her gaze the way a dog
turns away from the threatened admon-
ishing blow of a stick. He sat drumming
his fingers upon the table. This ner-
vous salvo ceased when Mrs. Hut spoke
again.
"Take those flies. How about swat-
ting a few for me? The place is a mess.
How can we get customers with it look-
ing the way it does?" She reached for
a tattered green swatter from under the
counter and held it out to him. "Here,"
she said simply,
He took the swatter. Indifferently
he flapped it against the table-top. The
flies vanished with an annoyed buzz, all
except one which lay in a black smear
upon the table.
"Here," Mrs. Hutt said again, throw-
ing him a damp cloth. He brushed the
table with it and waited for his next
victim.
Mrs. Hutt stood watching him as he
waited for the flies to alight. Her ex-
pression, like this, was solemn and ag-
gressive. She was a large woman, well
on in her fifties, her hair dyed a waxy
black, her lips chapped beneath their
hint of lipstick and her cheeks freckled
beneath their blotchy dabs of rouge,
Her dress was a cheap cotton print, and
her stockings were well supplied with
runs.
"Bernie," she said abruptly.
"Yes, Mrs. Hutt," he answered. Al-
though she was his aunt he had always
called her that. Indeed, in the five years
during which he had lived with her
and Ed Hutt she had never asked him
to call her anything else. Five years ago
from last spring that was, when his
own father, Hutt's brother, had died in
a train crash.
"After you get them all, I want you
to take those cases of empty coke-bottles
out. Put them so's the feller can get
them easy in the morning but so's no
one can see them and run off with them
tonight. Understand? In the corner be-
yond the gas-pumps'd be a good place,
I guess."
He nodded slow assent, and she
turned away from the counter. With the
same solemn, aggressive expression she
began to arrange the boxes of candy-
bars upon the shelves. The boxes were
like bricks in a cardboard wall, and she
pushed back any which jutted from the
orderly arrangement of the others. Her
surveying glance strayed to other shelves
stacked with breakfast food and bread
and many sizes of cans. The lunchroom
was more than just a place to buy cokes
and sandwiches of stale bread and thin
cheese-wedges. In it Mrs. Hutt sold a
little of everything from behind the
counter, cooked in the square kitchen,
and used as a bedroom one of the small
rooms adjoining that. Bernie slept in
the other.

Bernie continued to swat the flies.
He was a tall boy for sixteen, and a
gangling one for any age. Seeing him,
one might easily have imagined that
he had been made up of the oddest
assortment of remnants and put to-
gether by many seams. His features were
not very unusual in themselves, but
made into the one being that was Bernie
Hutt, each of them seemed out of place.
The shock of tawny hair did not go
with the slightly dark eyebrows. The
large knuckles were not meant for the
slim fingers. The eyes clearly did not
match in color, and the nose was too
long for the thin, almost colorless lips.
But such was Bernie Hutt, all these
features and the fact that he could
not hear too well with one ear. He him-
self thought that was the result of has'-
ing to listen to the banging, jangling
music of the merry-go-round for so
long. During three of the years which
he had lived with the Hutts it had been
his duty to tend the rings on the con-
cession which they owned at this lake
.resort. Night after night it was his duty

He took the boxes, one at a tine,
from the small lunchroom, holding the
screen door open with each as he went
outside and down the two rickety steps.
Carefully he placed them beyond the
pumps. which stood likesaged 'sentinels
in the half-light. The last box set dowvn,
he stood silently and stretched his lank,
lean form. He was suddenly alive and
wanted to do something. He glanced at
the road leading to the lake. The sky
was still a translucent blue in the west;
the lights in the cottages showed that
most of the families were still eating.
The merry-go-round, he knew, would
nsot begin for some time.
fE WALKED to the north towards the
lake. Bluer than any sky it was, and
quite as translucent. Ripples were lap-
ping steadily on the shore. They were
the last reminders of the storm of yes-
terday, when huge waves had lathered
themselves on the beach. Now all was
quiet still. The air, the water, the ap-
preaching night were mingled in the
stilliess.

ouoe 3 filte Countryj
Stones walk down strips of grass where mongrels mate,
each stone a step where stepping centuries
of brittle men have fathered vine and flower
and women posed with roses at their knees.
The positives of grace move in this clime,
peace caters to the laughing bird and on
all paths of stone a virtuous sun shall print
memorials to calm, mind out of time.
But in this garden seven planned a war,
an eighth collected on his shares of steel,
a ninth gave love to clinch a foreign deal;
and while a world in bombs lay mourning self
and monstrous walls came tumbling on a child,
a tenth drew tea, and sipped, and sipped, and smiled..
-Jacques

as completely as possible; and when he
had swum faster, going as far into the
depths as he could, he felt it become
so great that he thought he could stand
it no longer. He forced himself to turn
quickly and float so that it would not
seem so great.
Thus, floating, he could see how soft-
ly and swiftly the evening had come,
The sky had lost its clear blue hue and
was now a rich velvet shot with low
diamond-stars in the east. What had
been the cottages and the poplars along
the shore were now masses of deep
shadows, pierced here and there with
square, blunt patterns of yellow light,
Even the water now was a dull gray ex-
panse, and in the north the sky was
almost as dark as before the storm the
day before. The strange, intangible un-
easiness. He tried to feel the thrill of
its caress upon his naked body, but h
could not. The spell of the first deep
dive and of those first easy strokes was
gone. The sense of complete freedom,
too.Instead, he felt that strangeruneas
iness, wits the sky dark above him and
the water dark about him.
He went towards shore, ran through
the shallow ripples and quickly pulled
on his rumpled slacks and the tight
crew shirt. Standing beneath the pop-
lars and shivering slightly, he suddenly
felt despondent with loneliness, a sen-
sation somehow akin to the uneasiness
he had experienced in the deep water.
Loneliness pressed upon him, and try
as he could, he could not push it from
him. It was as troubled as the whimper-
ings of the ioplar trees. He felt it press
closer and closer as he walked up the
road to the merry-go-round.
MR. HUTT waited for him. He sat in
the ticket-booth, a stout, hunched-
over man in a black suit shiny not from
good care but from much use, a once-
white shirt without a tie, and a yellow,
bent-brimmed straw hat. His chin and
jowls were covered with a stubble like
the dirty ends of broom-whisps. His
eyes were unseeing in their cloudiness.
Bernie glanced at him and then hast-
ily at the merry-go-round. There war
no one else there as yet. He swallowed
thankfully.
"Bernie," Ed Hutt said, "you beer
swimming?"
"Uh-huh."
"Your aunt say she was finished with
you?"
"I guess so. She didn't say, I mean,
but she had me take the ... "
"Well, get busy here anyway. Here's
the rings." He drew an old cigar-box
from beneath the ticket-counter.
Slowly Bernie mounted the high wood-
en ring-device and filled the long shoot..
Third from the last ring went the sil-
ver one. Its gleam could attract no more
attention from him than did the others..
Dismally he sat at his place and wiped
his nose upon the neck of his crew
shirt.
He hated the loneliness he felt, hated
it fiercely and silently.
Soon Mr. Hutt started the merry-go-
round upon its weary revolutions. It was
an old concession in an old, unpainted
barn-like affair which shut out the sky
and the coolness of the night. The
horses were a crippled, sorry-looking
lot, extremely desirous of a new coat
of paint. The capricious twinkle in their
eyes, a minor miracle which a fleck of
gold paint had one achieved, had long
ago worn away. In fact, an entire new
coat of red, green, yellow and orange
would have improved the merry-go-
round immensely; gaudiness would have
been far better than dinginess.
Bernie did not notice the faded colors
of the merry-go-round or the dilapi-
dated creatures which rode it. He sat
staring, seeing nothing, brooding. He was
(Continued on Page 9)

to fill the wooden device with the many
rusty rings and the sole silver one and
watch the young customers from the
lakeshore cottages as they tried to
snatch the silver ring. Night after night
he had to collect their tickets and take
the silver ring from the rider who, by
snatching it, had won a free ride. Con-
stantly the raucous tunes dunned his
ears for attention.
"I found a million dollar baaabeeeee,"
he seemed to be hearing even now. "A
million dollar baaabeeeee in a five an'
ten cent stooore." He figured that his
one ear had grown so weary of that
music that it refused to register it and
all other sounds as clearly as it had once
done. Satisfied with his own explan-
ation, he tried to forget about his deaf-
ness.
He tugged at his striped, illfitting
crew shirt and rubbed at his nose with
the white band around its neck.
"Use your handkerchief, Bernie,"
Mrs. Hutt commanded.
Obediently he drew a soiled rag from
the pocket of his brown-bag slacks,
spilling the small collection of nickels
he had accumulated. They clattered to
the unpainted, unvarnished floor, and
he picked them up, one by one. Then he
stood and blew into the folds of the
rag and wiped his nose. The handker-
chief back in his pocket, he spied one
remaining fly. Swiftly he flapped the
swatter against the windowscreen.
"There, and now the bottles," Mrs.
Hutt said.

Bernie's bare feet were hardened to
the stones of the road. He walked with
a sort of ease, almost with grace, swing-
ing his legs as far forward as he could.
His was a free gait and yet a stealthy
one, like that of an animal. He felt the
way an animal must feel, very much
alive, lithe and free and content.
He reached the shore. With the pop-
lars lining it, the water seemed much
darker. The evening was slowly settling
upon the lakeshore. He gazed into the
slightly fretful depths of the water.
Surely no one would see him now if he
were to strip here on the shore and
go into the water.
He had little to take off, and in a
half-minute he stood at the edge of the
water. The ripples crept around his
ankles, enticing him. He dug his toes
into the sand and held them taut. He
stretched and held his whole body taut,
and then he ran as best lie could to
where the water was deeper and to the
-irst sandbar. He tried to keep running,
buv the water clung to his ankles, to his
knees, to his thighs, and about his waist.
He could only force his way slowly.
Finally the water was so deep that he
had to dive, one deep, invigorating dive,
so that he could. swim away from the
clutching waters near the shore. He
swam slowly and easily to where he
could not guess the depth, feeling the
water now as a caress. It was a caress
along his entire body and he reveled in
it. The caress of freedom. He had to
swim faster, he had to swim beneath
the surface, so that he could feel it

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