Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/303

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II. Nickelodeon

A nickel before midnight buys tomorrow . . . holdup headlines, a cup of coffee in the automat, a ride to Woodlawn, Fort Lee, Flatbush. . . . A nickel in the slot buys chewing gum. Somebody Loves Me, Baby Divine, You're in Kentucky Juss Shu' As You're Born . . . bruised notes of foxtrots go limping out of doors, blues, waltzes (We'd Danced the Whole Night Through) trail gyrating tinsel memories. . . . On Sixth Avenue on Fourteenth there are still flyspecked stereopticons where for a nickel you can peep at yellowed yesterdays. Beside the peppering shooting gallery you stoop into the flicker A Hot Time, The Bachelor's Surprise, The Stolen Garter . . . waste basket of tornup daydreams. . . . A nickel before midnight buys our yesterdays.

RUTH PRYNNE came out of the doctor's office pullthe fur tight round her throat. She felt faint. Taxi. As she stepped in she remembered the smell of cosmetics and toast and the littered hallway at Mrs. Sunderlands. Oh I cant go home just yet. "Driver go to the Old English Tea Room on Fortieth Street please." She opened her long green leather purse and looked in. My God, only a dollar a quarter a nickel and two pennies. She kept her eyes on the figures flickering on the taximeter. She wanted to break down and cry. . . . The way money goes. The gritty cold wind rasped at her throat when she got out. "Eighty cents miss. . . . I haven't any change miss." "All right keep the change." Heavens only thirtytwo cents. . . . Inside it was warm and smelled cozily of tea and cookies.

"Why Ruth, if it isn't Ruth. . . . Dearest come to my arms after all these years." It was Billy Waldron. He was fatter and whiter than he used to be. He gave her a stagy hug and kissed her on the forehead. "How are you? Do tell me. . . . How distinguée you look in that hat."