Tuesday, November 15, 2016
more in pain than wrath
"[A] little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." - T. Jefferson, 1787
~~ John Boehner on Twitter
Next on our "Books Recommended" List for America's President-Elect is the Robert Penn Warren novel, All The King's Men, 1946, Harcourt.
(It is going to be huge...)
Excerpt 1 -------------------------- "I have endorsed Callahan," the Judge said. He didn't flicker.
"I maybe could give you the dirt," the Boss said speculatively....He looked up at Judge Irwin's face, squinting, studying it, cocking his own head to one side.
The grandfather's clock in the corner of the room, I suddenly realized, wasn't getting any younger. It could drop out a tick, and the tick would land inside my head like a rock dropped in a well, and the ripples would circle out and stop, and the tick would sink down the dark.
For a piece of time which was not long or short, and might not even be time, there wouldn't be anything. Then the tock would drop down the well, and the ripples would circle out and finish.
The Boss quit studying Judge Irwin's face, which didn't show anything. He let himself sink back in the chair, shrugged his shoulders, and lifted the glass up for a drink. Then he said, "Suit yourself, Judge.
But you know, there's another way to play it. Maybe somebody might give Callahan a little shovelful on somebody else and Callahan might grow a conscience all of a sudden and repudiate his endorser.
You know, when this conscience business starts, ain't no telling where it'll stop, and when you start the digging--"
"I'll thank you, sir--" Judge Irwin took a step toward the big chair, and his face wasn't the color of calf's liver now -- it was long past that and streaked white back from the base of the jutting nose -- "I'll thank you, sir, to get out of that chair and get out of this house!"
The Boss didn't lift his head off the leather. He looked up at the Judge, sweet and trusting, and then cocked his eyes over to me. "Jack," he said, "you were sure right. The Judge don't scare easy."
"Get out," the Judge said, not loud this time.
"These old bones don't move fast," the Boss murmured sadly, "but now I have tried to do my bounden duty, let me go." Then he drained his glass, set it on the floor beside the chair, and rose. He stood in front of the Judge, looking up at him, squinting again, cocking his head to one side again, like a farmer getting ready to buy a horse.
I set my glass on the shelf of the bookcase behind me. I discovered that I hadn't touched it, not since the first sip. Well, to hell with it, I thought, and let it stand....
Then, as though he had decided against buying the horse, the Boss shook his head and passed around the Judge, as though the Judge weren't a man at all, or even a horse, as though he were the corner of a house or a tree, and headed for the hall door, putting his feet down slow and easy on the red carpet. No hurry.
For a second or two the Judge didn't even move his head; then he swung round and watched the Boss going toward the door, and his eyes glittered up there in the shadow above the lamp.
The Boss laid his hand on the doorknob, opened the door, and then, with his hand still on the knob, he looked back. "Well, Judge," he said, "more in pain than wrath I go. And if your conscience decides it could gag at Callahan, just let me know. In, of course" -- and he grinned -- "a reasonable time."
Then he looked over at me and said, "Let's haul ass, Jack," and started on down toward the front door, out of sight.
Before I could get into low gear, the Judge swung his face in my direction, and focused his eyes on me, and his upper lip lifted under that nose to form a smile of somewhat massive irony, and he said, "Your employer is calling you, Mr. Burden."
"I don't use any ear trumpet yet," I said, and pulled off toward the door, and thought to myself: Christ, Jack, you talk like a snot, Christ, you are a smart guy.
I had just about made the door, when he said, "I'm dining with your mother this week. Shall I tell her you like your work?"
Why don't he lay off? I thought, but he wouldn't, and that lip lifted up again.
So I said, "Suit yourself, Judge. But if I were you I wouldn't go around advertising this visit to anybody. In case you changed your mind, somebody might figure you had stooped to a low political deal with the Boss. In the dark of night."
And I went out the door and down the hall and out the hall door and left it open but let the screen door slam.
God damn him, why hadn't he laid off me?
But he hadn't scared.
------------------------------ [Excerpt 2] ------------------------ I read on down through the editorial. It said that our state was a poor state, and could not bear the burden thus tyrannically imposed upon it. That was an old one....
This is a poor state, the opposition always screamed. But the Boss said: "There is a passel of pore folks living in it and no mistake, but the state isn't poor. It is just a question of who has got his front feet in the trough when slopping time comes. And I aim to do me some shoving and thump me some snouts."
And he had leaned forward to the crowd, with the shagged-down forelock and the bulging eyes, and had lifted his right arm to demand of them and of the hot sky, "Are you with me? Are you with me?" And the roar had come.