Thursday, September 30, 2010
From "Another Country," by James Baldwin
He got off at the station named for the bridge built to honor the father of his country.
And walked up the steps, into the streets, which were empty. Tall apartment buildings, lightless, loomed against the dark sky and seemed to be watching him, see,ed to be pressing down on him. The bridge was nearly over his head, intolerably high; but he did not yet see the water. He felt it, he smelled it. He thought how he never before understood how an animal could smell water. But it was over there, past the highway, where he could see the speeding cars.
Then he stood on the bridge, looking over, looking down. Now the lights of the cars on the highway seemed to be writing an endless message, writing with awful speed in fine, unreadable script. There were muted lights on the Jersey shore and here and there a neon light advertising something somebody had for sale. He began to walk slowly to the center of the bridge, observing that, from this height, the city which had been so dark as he walked through it seemed to be on fire.
He stood at the center of the bridge and it was freezing cold. He raised his eyes to heaven. He thought, You bastard, you motherfucking bastard. Ain't I your baby, too? He began to cry. Something in Rufus which could not break shook him like a rag doll and splashed salt water all over his face and filled his throat and his nostrils with anguish. He knew the pain would never stop. He could never go down into the city again. He dropped his head as though someone had struck him and looked down at the water. It was cold and the water would be cold.
He was black and the water was black.
He lifted himself by his hands on the rail, lifted himself as high as he could, and leaned far out. The wind tore at him, at his head and shoulders, while something in him screamed, Why? Why? He thought of Eric. His straining arms threatened to break. I can't make it this way. He thought of Ida. He whispered, I'm sorry Leona, and then the wind took him, he felt himself going over, head down, the wind, the stars, the lights, the the water, all rolled together, all right. He felt a shoe fly off behind him, there was nothing around him, only the wind, all right, you Godalmighty bastard, I'm coming to you.
For Tyler Clementi