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Northern Lights

Автор:
Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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‘And these molars, my Lord! Look at ’em. All rotten and infected. Open up now.’

‘That’s enough,’ Perry said.

‘Ha.’ Harvey held her mouth open. ‘I must have a beer. Will you get me a beer, young lady?’

The girl fiercely nodded.

‘All right then. And will you stop by on Tuesday? Make an appointment with my assistant here?’

The girl nodded.

‘Very well then. Very well. Just bring me my beer.’ He released her and the girl went for the bar.

‘She loves me,’ Harvey grinned.

‘You were a little rough.’

‘She loves me. You see? He waved and the girl waved back. ‘You see?’

‘All right.’

‘You see?’

Someone unplugged the juke box.

‘Franzie!’ Harvey got up and clapped. ‘Nothing ever changes.’

‘Getting older.’

Everyone started clapping. Franz came out in knickers and a hiking cap. A monstrous accordion was strapped around his neck. ‘What you wanna hear?’ he called and everybody kept clapping, so he smiled and played a song and everybody got up to dance polkas. The crowd whooped and Perry leaned back, feeling swallowed in all the fun. Addie was there in the centre of the crowd, dancing with one of the Silver Bay boys, and the wood floor and walls bounced and the crowd whooped and stomped and the room was brightly lighted. The young waitress took Harvey to the dance floor. Everyone cheered him and Harvey did a deep bow.

Perry stepped outside.

He stood very still. Music strained like lost Old World through the walls and rose to the forest and floated away in a single resonant chord that slowly swallowed itself. He could not get into it. He lit a cigarette. Old Addie, he thought. Addie could get into it.

He stood quietly. In the grass there were crickets and the air was warm and soggy. Down the road, out of sight, the lights of the town were eaten by fog. Old Addie. He smelled methane and ammonia. Mosquitoes, Junebugs. He urinated against the foundation of the old tavern and Bishop Markham came out and peed beside him. ‘That Harvey is some rascal,’ Bishop said.

‘That he is.’

‘He’s having a helluva time. No bitterness there. Wolff was worried he’d be bitter.’

‘Not Harv.’

‘A hard charger.’

‘That he is.’

Markham went inside and Perry smoked another cigarette, listened to the music. He flipped his butt into the gravel parking lot and went through the doors.

Addie waved. A Silver Bay buck had her tight, they were reeling, half polka and half two-step, Du, Du, liebst mir im Herzen, Du, Du, liebst mir im Sinn, Du, Du … the Black Forest, the Magic Forest, back and forth, the great camp-fire, tribal rhythms. Perry watched them all dance. Addie was hot and wet and brown. There were red callouses on her heels where the sandal straps rubbed.

‘Come on,’ she called, ‘dance, dance.’

He grinned, shook his head. He was a little drunk.

‘Dance!’ Harvey called.

Bishop Markham hollered something and waved. Herb Wolff, holding a big woman, also waved. Franz beamed and played the accordion.

When the song ended, everyone clapped and Addie’s friends thumped the accordion player and bought him a beer.

Harvey sat down. It was too noisy to talk and they drank their beers and watched people.

In a while, Addie joined them. She could be very gay.

‘You should dance more,’ she said, sitting down, ‘It makes everyone happy when they dance. Is this your hero brother?’

‘This is the monster.’

‘You look something like a pirate. Do you know what the reason is?’

‘Everyone says that.’

‘This is Addie.’

‘She looks like a bloody Indian.’

‘Everyone says that, too. Actually I’m from New Guinea.’

‘Really? No shit? I plan to go there someday.’

‘Look up my relatives,’ she said.

Perry found himself grinning. ‘Addie-works in the library. She’s a kind of assistant librarian or something. She saves all the good books for me.’ He wrapped his hands around the bottle and squeezed. It was a great blur.

‘You look just like an Indian,’ Harvey said. ‘Sure you’re not Indian? You could make a very classy Indian.’

‘Sure,’ she said.

‘She is part Indian, Harv.’

Addie was very gay. She talked about dancing and swimming and people. Harvey became quiet. Franz came out again with his accordion and Harvey asked her to dance and Perry sat alone and watched them, and when they came back he felt tired.

‘You must learn to dance,’ she said. ‘A great picker-upper. All my friends have to dance.’ Addie moved beside him. ‘Here, I’ll show you how. You can’t be watching all the time, come on. I’ll show you a tricky polka.’

He put his glasses on the table. It was a long, exhausting dance. He was out of shape. Over her shoulder, he saw Harvey watching.

Afterwards he went outside to pee. It was a ritual that the men peed outside and the women peed in the women’s room. He breathed some fresh air.

Inside again, Harvey and Addie were dancing. The Hamms beer sign was revolving. She was bright and fun and she danced on her heels. He got a beer and watched Harvey and Addie and Bishop Markham and the others.

Jud Harmor came in, took a stool at the end of the bar, refused a beer, and pulled his straw hat down. People gave him lots of room.

Harvey held Addie, whooping on the dance floor, and the old timbers were rocking.

When the dance ended, the young waitress took Harvey back to the floor.

Addie was wet and smiling.

‘He’s a real pirate,’ she said. ‘He can dance.’

‘I was watching.’

She touched his arm. ‘Peeping Paul.’

‘Yeah. Ol’ peeping Paul peeped a peck of pickled trouble.’

‘So clever.’
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