Pages that I folded…
‘I’m scared, Myrt.’
‘Of what? When your time comes, it comes. And tears won’t save you’. She had observed that her mother had begun to shed a few. ‘When Homer died, I used up all the fear I had in me, and all the grief, too. If there’s somebody loose around here that wants to cut my throat, I wish him luck. What difference does it make? It’s all the same in eternity. Just remember: If one bird carried every grain of sand, grain by grain, across the ocean, by the time he got them all on the other side, that would only be the beginning of eternity. So blow your nose.’
Kenyon resembled neither of his parents physically; his crew-cut hair was hemp-coloured, and he was six feet tall and lanky, though hefty enough to have once rescued a pair of full-grown sheep by carrying them two miles through a blizzard – sturdy, strong, but cursed with a lanky boy’s lack of muscular coordination. This defect, aggravated by an inability to function without glasses, prevented him from taking more than a token part in those team sports that were the main occupation of most of the boys who might have been his friends.
You are a man of extreme passion, a hungry man not quite sure where his appetite lies, a deeply frustrated man striving to project his individuality against a backdrop of rigid conformity. You exist in a half-word suspended between two superstructures, one self-expression and the other self-destruction. You are strong, but there is a flaw in your strength, and unless you learn to control it the flaw will prove to be stronger than your strength and defeat you. The flaw? Explosive emotional reaction out of all proportion to the occasion. Why? Why this unreasonable anger at the sight of others who are happy or content, this growing contempt for people and the desire to hurt them? All right, you think they’re fools, you despise them because their morals, their happiness is the source of your frustration and resentment. But there are dreadful enemies you carry within yourself – in time as destructive as bullets. Mercifully, a bullet kills its victim. This other bacteria, permitted to age, does not kill a man but leaves in its wake the hulk of a creature torn and twisted; there is still fire within his being but it is kept alive by casting upon it faggots of scorn and hate. He may successfully accumulate, but he does not accumulate success, for he is his own enemy and is kept from truly enjoying his achievements.
There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin;
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of gipsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
But neither Dick’s physique nor the inky gallery adorning it made as remarkable an impression as his face, which seemed to be composed of mismatching parts. It was as though his head had been halved like an apple, then put together a fraction off centre. Something of the kind had happened; the imperfectly aligned features were the outcome of a car collision in 1950 – an accident that left his long-jawed and narrow face tilted, the left side rather lower than the right, with the results that the lips were slightly aslant, the nose askew, and his eyes not only situated at uneven levels but of the uneven size, the left eye being truly serpentine, with a venomous, sickly-blue squint that although it was involuntarily acquired, seemed nevertheless to warn of bitter sediment at the bottom of his nature. But Perry told him, ‘The eye doesn’t matter. Because you have a wonderful smile. One of those smiles that really work.’ It was true that the tightening action of a smile contracted his face into its correct proportions, and made it possible to discern a less unnerving personality – an American-style ‘good kid’ with an outgrown crew cut, sane enough but not too bright.