Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница

". . . I want to try to reveal a part of reality that is most important to you—but I warn you, it's going to hurt. No, let me finish," he said, touching my knee lightly and quickly removing his hand as I shifted my position.

"What I want to do is done very seldom, and, to be honest, it wouldn't happen now if I hadn't sustained a series of impossible frustrations. You see—well, I'm thwarted . . . Oh, damn, there I go again, thinking only of myself . . . We're both frustrated, understand? Both of us, and I want to help Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница you . . ."

"You mean you'll let me see Mr. Emerson?"

He frowned. "Please don't seem so happy about it, and don't leap to conclusions. I want to help, but there is a tyranny involved . . ."

"A tyranny?" My lungs tightened.

"Yes. That's a way of putting it. Because to help you I must disillusion you . . ."

"Oh, I don't think I mind, sir. Once I see Mr. Emerson, it'll be up to me. All I want to do is speak to him."

"Speak to him," he said, getting quickly to his feet and mashing his Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница cigarette into the tray with shaking fingers. "No one speaks to him. He does the speaking —" Suddenly he broke off. "On second thought, perhaps you'd better leave me your address and I'll mail you Mr. Emerson's reply in the morning. He's really a very busy man."

His whole manner had changed.

"But you said . . ." I stood up, completely confused. Was he having fun with me? "Couldn't you let me talk to him for just five minutes?" I pleaded. "I'm sure I can convince him that I'm worthy of a job. And if Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница there's someone who has tampered with my letter, I'll prove my identity . . . Dr. Bledsoe would —"

"Identity! My God! Who has any identity any more anyway? It isn't so perfectly simple. Look," he said with an anguished gesture. "Will you trust me?"

"Why, yes, sir, I trust you."

He leaned forward. "Look," he said, his face working violently, "I was trying to tell you that I know many things about you—not you personally, but fellows like you. Not much, either, but still more than the average. With us it's still Jim and Huck Finn. A number Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница of my friends are jazz musicians, and I've been around. I know the conditions under which you live—Why go back, fellow? There is so much you could do here where there is more freedom. You won't find what you're looking for when you return anyway; because so much is involved that you can't possibly know. Please don't misunderstand me; I don't say all this to impress you. Or to give myself some kind of sadistic catharsis. Truly, I don't. But I do know this world you're trying to contact Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница—all its virtues and all its unspeakables—Ha, yes, unspeakables. I'm afraid my father considers me one of the unspeakables . . . I'm Huckleberry, you see . . ."

He laughed drily as I tried to make sense of his ramblings. Huckleberry? Why did he keep talking about that kid's story? I was puzzled and annoyed that he could talk to me this way because he stood between me and a job, the campus . . .

"But I only want a job, sir," I said. "I only want to make enough money to return to my studies."

"Of course, but surely you suspect Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница there is more to it than that. Aren't you curious about what lies behind the face of things?"

"Yes, sir, but I'm mainly interested in a job."

"Of course," he said, "but life isn't that simple . . ."

"But I'm not bothered about all the other things, whatever they are, sir. They're not for me to interfere with and I'll be satisfied to go back to college and remain there as long as they'll allow me to."

"But I want to help you do what is best," he said. "What's best, mind Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница you. Do you wish to do what's best for yourself?"

"Why, yes, sir. I suppose I do . . ."

"Then forget about returning to the college. Go somewhere else . . ."

"You mean leave?"

"Yes, forget it . . ."

"But you said that you would help me!"

"I did and I am —"

"But what about seeing Mr. Emerson?"



"Oh, God! Don't you see that it's best that you do not see him?"

Suddenly I could not breathe. Then I was standing, gripping my brief case. "What have you got against me?" I blurted. "What did I ever do to you? You Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница never intended to let me see him. Even though I presented my letter of introduction. Why? Why? I'd never endanger your job —"

"No, no, no! Of course not," he cried, getting to his feet. "You've misunderstood me. You mustn't do that! God, there's too much misunderstanding. Please don't think I'm trying to prevent you from seeing my—from seeing Mr. Emerson out of prejudice . . ."

"Yes, sir, I do," I said angrily. "I was sent here by a friend of his. You read the letter, but still you refuse to let me see him, and now you Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница're trying to get me to leave college. What kind of man are you, anyway? What have you got against me? You, a northern white man!"

He looked pained. "I've done it badly," he said, "but you must believe that I am trying to advise you what is best for you." He snatched off his glasses.

"But I know what's best for me," I said. "Or at least Dr. Bledsoe does, and if I can't see Mr. Emerson today, just tell me when I can and I'll be here . . ."

He bit his lips Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница and shut his eyes, shaking his head from side to side as though fighting back a scream. "I'm sorry, really sorry that I started all of this," he said, suddenly calm. "It was foolish of me to try to advise you, but please, you mustn't believe that I'm against you . . . or your race. I'm your friend. Some of the finest people I know are Neg—Well, you see, Mr. Emerson is my father."

"Your father!"

"My father, yes, though I would have preferred it otherwise. But he is, and I could arrange for you Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница to see him. But to be utterly frank, I'm incapable of such cynicism. It would do you no good."

"But I'd like to take my chances, Mr. Emerson, sir . . . This is very important to me. My whole career depends upon it."

"But you have no chance," he said.

"But Dr. Bledsoe sent me here," I said, growing more excited. "I must have a chance . . ."

"Dr. Bledsoe," he said with distaste. "He's like my . . . he ought to be horsewhipped! Here," he said, sweeping up the letter and thrusting it crackling toward me. I took it, looking into his Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница eyes that burned back at me.

"Go on, read it," he cried excitedly. "Go on!"

"But I wasn't asking for this," I said.

"Read it!"

My dear Mr. Emerson:

The bearer of this letter is a former student of ours (I say former because he shall never, under any circumstances, be enrolled as a student here again) who has been expelled for a most serious defection from our strictest rules of deportment.

Due, however, to circumstances the nature of which I shall explain to you in person on the occasion of the next meeting of the board Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница, it is to the best interests of the college that this young man have no knowledge of the finality of his expulsion. For it is indeed his hope to return here to his classes in the fall. However, it is to the best interests of the great work which we are dedicated to perform, that he continue undisturbed in these vain hopes while remaining as far as possible from our midst.

This case represents, my dear Mr. Emerson, one of the rare, delicate instances in which one for whom we held great expectations has gone grievously astray, and who in Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница his fall threatens to upset certain delicate relationships between certain interested individuals and the school. Thus, while the bearer is no longer a member of our scholastic family, it is highly important that his severance with the college be executed as painlessly as possible. I beg of you, sir, to help him continue in the direction of that promise which, like the horizon, recedes ever brightly and distantly beyond the hopeful traveler.

Respectfully, I am your humble servant,

A. Herbert Bledsoe

I raised my head. Twenty-five years seemed to have lapsed between his handing me the letter and Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница my grasping its message. I could not believe it, tried to read it again. I could not believe it, yet I had a feeling that it all had happened before. I rubbed my eyes, and they felt sandy as though all the fluids had suddenly dried.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm terribly sorry."

"What did I do? I always tried to do the right thing

"That you must tell me," he said. "To what does he refer?"

"I don't know, I don't know . . ."

"But you must have done something."

"I took a man for a drive Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница, showed him into the Golden Day to help him when he became ill ... I don't know

I told him falteringly of the visit to Trueblood's and the trip to the Golden Day and of my expulsion, watching his mobile face reflecting his reaction to each detail.

"It's little enough," he said when I had finished. "I don't understand the man. He is very complicated."

"I only wanted to return and help," I said.

"You'll never return. You can't return now," he said. "Don't you see? I'm terribly sorry and yet I'm glad Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница that I gave in to the impulse to speak to you. Forget it; though that's advice which I've been unable to accept myself, it's still good advice. There is no point in blinding yourself to the truth. Don't blind yourself . . ."

I got up, dazed, and started toward the door. He came behind me into the reception room where the birds flamed in the cage, their squawks like screams in a nightmare.

He stammered guiltily, "Please, I must ask you never to mention this conversation to anyone."

"No," I said.

"I wouldn't mind, but my Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница father would consider my revelation the most extreme treason . . . You're free of him now. I'm still his prisoner. You have been freed, don't you understand? I've still my battle." He seemed near tears.

"I won't," I said. "No one would believe me. I can't myself. There must be some mistake. There must be . . ."

I opened the door.

"Look, fellow," he said. "This evening I'm having a party at the Calamus. Would you like to join my guests? It might help you —"

"No, thank you, sir. I'll be all right."

"Perhaps you Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница'd like to be my valet?"

I looked at him. "No, thank you, sir," I said.

"Please," he said. "I really want to help. Look, I happen to know of a possible job at Liberty Paints. My father has sent several fellows there . . . You should try —"

I shut the door.

The elevator dropped me like a shot and I went out and walked along the street. The sun was very bright now and the people along the walk seemed far away. I stopped before a gray wall where high above me the headstones of a church graveyard arose like Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница the tops of buildings. Across the street in the shade of an awning a shoeshine boy was dancing for pennies. I went on to the corner and got on a bus and went automatically to the rear. In the seat in front of me a dark man in a panama hat kept whistling a tune between his teeth. My mind, flew in circles, to Bledsoe, Emerson and back again. There was no sense to be made of it. It was a joke. Hell, it couldn't be a joke. Yes, it is a joke . . . Suddenly the bus jerked to Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница a stop and I heard myself humming the same tune that the man ahead was whistling, and the words came back:

O well they picked poor Robin clean

O well they picked poor Robin clean

Well they tied poor Robin to a stump

Lawd, they picked all the feathers round from Robin's rump

Well they picked poor Robin clean.

Then I was on my feet, hurrying to the door, hearing the thin, tissue-paper-against-the-teeth-of-a-comb whistle following me outside at the next stop. I stood trembling at the curb, watching and half expecting to see the man Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница leap from the door to follow me, whistling the old forgotten jingle about a bare-rumped robin. My mind seized upon the tune. I took the subway and it still droned through my mind after I had reached my room at Men's House and lay across the bed. What was the who-what-when-why-where of poor old Robin? What had he done and who had tied him and why had they plucked him and why had we sung of his fate? It was for a laugh, for a laugh, all the kids had laughed and Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница laughed, and the droll tuba player of the old Elk's band had rendered it solo on his helical horn; with comical flourishes and doleful phrasing, "Boo boo boo booooo, Poor Robin clean"—a mock funeral dirge . . . But who was Robin and for what had he been hurt and humiliated?

Suddenly I lay shaking with anger. It was no good. I thought of young Emerson. What if he'd lied out of some ulterior motive of his own? Everyone seemed to have some plan for me, and beneath that some more secret plan. What was young Emerson's plan Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница—and why should it have included me? Who was I anyway? I tossed fitfully. Perhaps it was a test of my good will and faith—But that's a lie, I thought. It's a lie and you know it's a lie. I had seen the letter and it had practically ordered me killed. By slow degrees . . .

"My dear Mr. Emerson," I said aloud. "The Robin bearing this letter is a former student. Please hope him to death, and keep him running. Your most humble and obedient servant, A. H. Bledsoe . . ."

Sure, that's the way it was, I thought, a Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница short, concise verbal coup de grace, straight to the nape of the neck. And Emerson would write in reply? Sure: "Dear Bled, have met Robin and shaved tail. Signed, Emerson."

I sat on the bed and laughed. They'd sent me to the rookery, all right. I laughed and felt numb and weak, knowing that soon the pain would come and that no matter what happened to me I'd never be the same. I felt numb and I was laughing. When I stopped, gasping for breath, I decided that I would go back and kill Bledsoe. Yes Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница, I thought, I owe it to the race and to myself. I'll kill him.

And the boldness of the idea and the anger behind it made me move with decision. I had to have a job and I took what I hoped was the quickest means. I called the plant young Emerson had mentioned, and it worked. I was told to report the following morning. It happened so quickly and with such ease that for a moment I felt turned around. Had they planned it this way? But no, they wouldn't catch me again. This time Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница I had made the move.

I could hardly get to sleep for dreaming of revenge.

Chapter 10

The plant was in Long Island, and I crossed a bridge in the fog to get there and came down in a stream of workers. Ahead of me a huge electric sign announced its message through the drifting strands of fog:

KEEP AMERICA PURE

WITH

LIBERTY PAINTS

Flags were fluttering in the breeze from each of a maze of buildings below the sign, and for a moment it was like watching some vast patriotic ceremony from a distance. But no shots were fired and no bugles Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница sounded. I hurried ahead with the others through the fog.

I was worried, since I had used Emerson's name without his permission, but when I found my way to the personnel office it worked like magic. I was interviewed by a little droopy-eyed man named Mr. MacDuffy and sent to work for a Mr. Kimbro. An office boy came along to direct me.

"If Kimbro needs him," MacDuffy told the boy, "come back and have his name entered on the shipping department's payroll."

"It's tremendous," I said as we left the building. "It looks like Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница a small city."

"It's big all right," he said. "We're one of the biggest outfits in the business. Make a lot of paint for the government."

We entered one of the buildings now and started down a pure white hall.

"You better leave your things in the locker room," he said, opening a door through which I saw a room with low wooden benches and rows of green lockers. There were keys in several of the locks, and he selected one for me. "Put your stuff in there and take the key," he said. Dressing, I felt Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница nervous. He sprawled with one foot on a bench, watching me closely as he chewed on a match stem. Did he suspect that Emerson hadn't sent me?

"They have a new racket around here," he said, twirling the match between his finger and thumb. There was a note of insinuation in his voice, and I looked up from tying my shoe, breathing with conscious evenness.

"What kind of racket?" I said.

"Oh, you know. The wise guys firing the regular guys and putting on you colored college boys. Pretty smart," he said. "That way they don't have Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница to pay union wages."

"How did you know I went to college?" I said.

"Oh, there're about six of you guys out here already. Some up in the testing lab. Everybody knows about that."

"But I had no idea that was why I was hired," I said.

"Forget it, Mac," he said. "It's not your fault. You new guys don't know the score. Just like the union says, it's the wise guys in the office. They're the ones who make scabs out of you—Hey! we better hurry."

We entered a long, shed Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница-like room in which I saw a series of overhead doors along one side and a row of small offices on the other. I followed the boy down an aisle between endless cans, buckets and drums labeled with the company's trademark, a screaming eagle. The paint was stacked in neatly pyramided lots along the concrete floor. Then, starting into one of the offices, the boy stopped short and grinned.

"Listen to that!"

Someone inside the office was swearing violently over a telephone.

"Who's that?" I asked.

He grinned. "Your boss, the terrible Mr. Kimbro. We call him Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница 'Colonel,' but don't let him catch you."

I didn't like it. The voice was raving about some failure of the laboratory and I felt a swift uneasiness. I didn't like the idea of starting to work for a man who was in such a nasty mood. Perhaps he was angry at one of the men from the school, and that wouldn't make him feel too friendly toward me.

"Let's go in," the boy said. "I've got to get back."

As we entered, the man slammed down the phone and picked up some papers.

"Mr Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница. MacDuffy wants to know if you can use this new man," the boy said.

"You damn right I can use him and . . ." the voice trailed off, the eyes above the stiff military mustache going hard.

"Well, can you use him?" the boy said. "I got to go make out his card."

"Okay," the man said finally. "I can use him. I gotta. What's his name?"

The boy read my name off a card.

"All right," he said, "you go right to work. And you," he said to the boy, "get the hell out of here before I give you a Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница chance to earn some of the money wasted on you every payday!"

"Aw, gwan, you slave driver," the boy said, dashing from the room.

Reddening, Kimbro turned to me, "Come along, let's get going."

I followed him into the long room where the lots of paint were stacked along the floor beneath numbered markers that hung from the ceiling. Toward the rear I could see two men unloading heavy buckets from a truck, stacking them neatly on a low loading platform.

"Now get this straight," Kimbro said gruffly. "This is a busy department and I Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница don't have time to repeat things. You have to follow instructions and you're going to be doing things you don't understand, so get your orders the first time and get them right! I won't have time to stop and explain everything. You have to catch on by doing exactly what I tell you. You got that?"

I nodded, noting that his voice became louder when the men across the floor stopped to listen.

"All right," he said, picking up several tools. "Now come over here."

"He's Kimbro," one of the men said.

I watched Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница him kneel and open one of the buckets, stirring a milky brown substance. A nauseating stench arose. I wanted to step away. But he stirred it vigorously until it became glossy white, holding the spatula like a delicate instrument and studying the paint as it laced off the blade, back into the bucket. Kimbro frowned.

"Damn those laboratory blubberheads to hell! There's got to be dope put in every single sonofabitching bucket. And that's what you're going to do, and it's got to be put in so it can be trucked out of here before Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница 11:30." He handed me a white enamel graduate and what looked like a battery hydrometer.

"The idea is to open each bucket and put in ten drops of this stuff," he said. "Then you stir it 'til it disappears. After it's mixed you take this brush and paint out a sample on one of these." He produced a number of small rectangular boards and a small brush from his jacket pocket. "You understand?"

"Yes, sir." But when I looked into the white graduate I hesitated; the liquid inside was dead black. Was he trying to kid me?

"What's wrong?"

"I don Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница't know, sir . . . I mean. Well, I don't want to start by asking a lot of stupid questions, but do you know what's in this graduate?"

His eyes snapped. "You damn right I know," he said. "You just do what you're told!"

"I just wanted to make sure, sir," I said.

"Look," he said, drawing in his breath with an exaggerated show of patience. "Take the dropper and fill it full . . . Go on, do it!"

I filled it.

"Now measure ten drops into the paint . . . There, that's it, not too goddam fast Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница. Now. You want no more than ten, and no less."

Slowly, I measured the glistening black drops, seeing them settle upon the surface and become blacker still, spreading suddenly out to the edges.

"That's it. That's all you have to do," he said. "Never mind how it looks. That's my worry. You just do what you're told and don't try to think about it. When you've done five or six buckets, come back and see if the samples are dry . . . And hurry, we've got to get this batch back off to Washington by 11:30 . . ."

I worked Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница fast but carefully. With a man like this Kimbro the least thing done incorrectly would cause trouble. So I wasn't supposed to think! To hell with him. Just a flunkey, a northern redneck, a Yankee cracker! I mixed the paint thoroughly, then brushed it smoothly on one of the pieces of board, careful that the brush strokes were uniform.

Struggling to remove an especially difficult cover, I wondered if the same Liberty paint was used on the campus, or if this "Optic White" was something made exclusively for the government. Perhaps it was of a Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница better quality, a special mix. And in my mind I could see the brightly trimmed and freshly decorated campus buildings as they appeared on spring mornings—after the fall painting and the light winter snows, with a cloud riding over and a darting bird above—framed by the trees and encircling vines. The buildings had always seemed more impressive because they were the only buildings to receive regular paintings; usually, the nearby houses and cabins were left untouched to become the dull grained gray of weathered wood. And I remembered how the splinters in some of the boards were raised from the Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница grain by the wind, the sun and the rain until the clapboards shone with a satiny, silvery, silver-fish sheen. Like Trueblood's cabin, or the Golden Day . . . The Golden Day had once been painted white; now its paint was flaking away with the years, the scratch of a finger being enough to send it showering down. Damn that Golden Day! But it was strange how life connected up; because I had carried Mr. Norton to the old rundown building with rotting paint, I was here. If, I thought, one could slow down his heartbeats and memory Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница to the tempo of the black drops falling so slowly into the bucket yet reacting so swiftly, it would seem like a sequence in a feverish dream . . . I was so deep in reverie that I failed to hear Kimbro approach.

"How's it coming?" he said, standing with hands on hips.

"All right, sir."

"Let's see," he said, selecting a sample and running his thumb across the board. "That's it, as white as George Washington's Sunday-go-to-meetin' wig and as sound as the all-mighty dollar! That's paint!" he said proudly. "That's paint Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница that'll cover just about anything!"

He looked as though I had expressed a doubt and I hurried to say, "It's certainly white all right."

"White! It's the purest white that can be found. Nobody makes a paint any whiter. This batch right here is heading for a national monument!"

"I see," I said, quite impressed.

He looked at his watch. "Just keep it up," he said. "If I don't hurry I'll be late for that production conference! Say, you're nearly out of dope: you'd better go in the tank room and refill Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница it . . . And don't waste any time! I've got to go."

He shot away without telling me where the tank room was. It was easy to find, but I wasn't prepared for so many tanks. There were seven; each with a puzzling code stenciled on it. It's just like Kimbro not to tell me, I thought. You can't trust any of them. Well, it doesn't matter, I'll pick the tank from the contents of the drip cans hanging from the spigots.

But while the first five tanks contained clear liquids that smelled like Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница turpentine, the last two both contained something black like the dope, but with different codes. So I had to make a choice. Selecting the tank with the drip can that smelled most like the dope, I filled the graduate, congratulating myself for not having to waste time until Kimbro returned.

The work went faster now, the mixing easier. The pigment and heavy oils came free of the bottom much quicker, and when Kimbro returned I was going at top speed. "How many have you finished?" he asked.

"About seventy-five, I think, sir. I lost count."

"That Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница's pretty good, but not fast enough. They've been putting pressure on me to get the stuff out. Here, I'll give you a hand."

They must have given him hell, I thought, as he got grunting to his knees and began removing covers from the buckets. But he had hardly started when he was called away.

When he left I took a look at the last bunch of samples and got a shock: Instead of the smooth, hard surface of the first, they were covered with a sticky goo through which I could see the grain of Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница the wood. What on earth had happened? The paint was not as white and glossy as before; it had a gray tinge. I stirred it vigorously, then grabbed a rag, wiping each of the boards clean, then made a new sample of each bucket. I grew panicky lest Kimbro return before I finished. Working feverishly, I made it, but since the paint required a few minutes to dry I picked up two finished buckets and started lugging them over to the loading platform. I dropped them with a thump as the voice rang out behind me. It was Kimbro.

"What Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница the hell!" he yelled, smearing his finger over one of the samples. "This stuff's still wet!"

I didn't know what to say. He snatched up several of the later samples, smearing them, and letting out a groan. "Of all the things to happen to me. First they take all my good men and then they send me you. What'd you do to it?"

"Nothing, sir. I followed your directions," I said defensively.

I watched him peer into the graduate, lifting the dropper and sniffing it, his face glowing with exasperation.

"Who the hell gave you this?"

"No one Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница . . ."

"Then where'd you get it?"

"From the tank room."

Suddenly he dashed for the tank room, sloshing the liquid as he ran. I thought, Oh, hell, and before I could follow, he burst out of the door in a frenzy.

"You took the wrong tank," he shouted. "What the hell, you trying to sabotage the company? That stuff wouldn't work in a million years. It's remover, concentrated remover! Don't you know the difference?"

"No, sir, I don't. It looked the same to me. I didn't know what I was using Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница and you didn't tell me. I was trying to save time and took what I thought was right."

"But why this one?"

"Because it smelled the same —" I began.

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Документ Winner of the National Book Award for fiction. . . Acclaimed by a 1965 Book Week poll of 200 prominent authors, critics, and editors as "the most distinguished single work published in the last 12 страница