Outside the window, there slides past that unimaginable and deserted vastness where night is coming on, the sun declining in ghastly blood-streaked splendour like a public execution across, it would seem, half a continent, where live only bears and shooting stars and the wolves who lap congealing ice from water that holds within it the entire sky. All white with snow as if under dustsheets, as if laid away eternally as soon as brought back from the shop, never to be used or touched. Horrors! And, as on a cyclorama, this unnatural spectacle rolls past at twenty-odd miles an hour in a tidy frame of lace curtains only a little the worse for soot and drapes of a heavy velvet of dark, dusty blue.
White folks have controlled New Orleans with money and guns, black folks have controlled it with magic and music, and although there has been a steady undercurrent of mutual admiration, an intermingling of cultures unheard of in any other American city, South or North; although there has prevailed a most joyous and fascinating interface, black anger and white fear has persisted, providing the ongoing, ostensibly integrated fete champetre with volatile and sometimes violent idiosyncrasies.
Sarah Lynn strides out of the stairwell. Lawrence watches her go. The door slushes shut behind her, and he turns to me with a tightened jaw. I want to tell him: No, no, you've got it all wrong. I don't care if you kiss a white girl. I don't care if you love a white girl. I just wish you'd chosen a white girl worthy of your love.Lawrence's Adam's apple jerks up and down, and I realize that in addition to whatever else he's feeling, he's scared. He's in love with the darling of the school, Sarah Lynn Lancaster, ad he's afriad I'll expose his secret. I give a tiny shake of my head, wanting him to know he has nothing to fear, not from me.
Black is the absence of all color. White is the presence of all colors. I suppose life must be one or the other. On the whole, though, I think I would prefer color to its absence. But then black does add depth and texture to color. Perhaps certain shades of gray are necessary to a complete palette. Even unrelieved black. Ah, a deep philosophical question. Is black necessary to life, even a happy life? Could we ever be happy if we did not at least occasionally experience misery?