Did he ever--try?'Mingus shrugged. 'He was like you.'What's that mean?'Means he tried.'Of course. The ring was not a neutral tool. It judged its wearer: Aaron Doily flew drunkenly, and Dylan flew like a coward, only when it didn't matter, at the Windles' pond. So if had attuned to Robert Woolfolk's chaos.Don't tell me,' said Dylan. 'He flew sideways.'Mingus left it vague. He'd always made it his habit to protect their honor against one another--Dylan, Arthur, Robert. To say nothing.
We knew it was holy. Every sentence we cherished was sturdy and Biblical in its form, carved somehow by hand-dragged implement or slapped onto sheets by an inky key. For sentences were sculptural, were we the only ones who understood? Sentences were bodies, too, as horny as the flesh-envelopes we wore around the house all day.
The voices may propel you to warble along, or to dance, they may inspire you to seduction or insurrection or inspection or merely to watching a little less television. The voices of Barrett Rude Jr. and the Subtle Distinctions lead nowhere, though, if not back to your own neighborhood. To the street where you live. To things you left behind.And that's what you need, what you needed al along.
Fifth grade was fourth grade with something wrong. Nothing changed outright. Instead it teetered. You'd pushed futility at Public School 38 so long by then you expected the building itself would be embarrassed and quit. The ones who couldn't read still couldn't, the teachers were teaching the same thing for the fifth tim now and refusing to meet your eyes, some kids had been left back twice and were the size of janitors. The place was a cage for growing, nothing else. School lunch turned out to be the five-year-plan, the going concern. You couldn't be left back from fish sticks and sloppy joes. You'd retain at the least two thousand half-pint containers of vitamin D-enriched chocolate milk.Two black guys from the projects, twins, were actually named Ronald and Donald MacDonald. The twins themselves only shrugged, couldn't be made to agree it was incredible.
Eighth grade's a distant rumor, a tabled issue, and Dylan knows from experience that the summer between might change anything, everything. He and Mingus Rude too and even Arthur Lomb for that matter are released from the paint-by-numbers page of their schooldays, from their preformatted roles as truant or victim, freed to an unspoiled summer, that inviting medium for doodling in self-transformation.
If. If Mingus Rude could be kept in this place, kept somehow in Dylan's pocket, in his stinging, smudgy hands, then summer wouldn't give way to whatever came after. If. If. Fat chance. Summer on Dean Street had lasted one day and that day was over, it was dark out, had been for hours. The Williamsburg Savings Bank tower clock read nine-thirty in red-and-blue neon. Final score, a million to nothing. The million-dollar kid.Your school wasn't on fire, you were.
Insomnia is a variant of Tourette's--the waking brain races, sampling the world after the world has turned away, touching it everywhere, refusing to settle, to join the collective nod. The insomniac brain is a sort of conspiracy theorist as well, believing too much in its own paranoiac importance--as though if it were to blink, then doze, the world might be overrun by some encroaching calamity, which its obsessive musings are somehow fending off.