Saturday, July 27, 2013

Night Squad by David Goodis (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard 1961)

The custom-built Spanish automobile made a U-turn and went south to Addison gliding along while various Swamp citizens yelled hello to Grogan. Through the open car window, he waved back. Then the car headed away from the Swamp, climbing along the arc of the bridge, high above the river. Grogan turned on the radio and got a ball game. The car came off the bridge and joined the slow-moving Saturday afternoon traffic on the six-lane highway that bordered the river. They were moving past factories and coal yards and freight yards. In this area the river was scummy. There was a half-sunken barge near the riverbank and some boys in swim trunks were using it for a diving board. The traffic heading north gradually thinned out. It was a residential section the Street lined with expensive apartment houses. Then it was just the green of the municipal park and some statues of Revolutionary War generals, a few of the generals saluting, one of them brandishing a sword. At the base of that statue, under the shadow of the sword, an old colored man was sleeping peacefully on the grass. Heading further north along the highway, going through the park at the side of the river, the aquarium came into view; then the immense art museum designed like the Parthenon. It had cost the city some thirty million dollars and it was used mostly as a nesting place for pigeons and flocks of nine-year-old boys who came at night to play hide-and-seek in the labyrinth of marble columns. Past the art museum there was a traffic circle, then the highway curved in very close to the river. There were some people on the banks angling for catfish and carp, some park guards on horseback and a few men wearing sweat suits practicing for walking races. Further ahead some very old but solidly constructed and well-kept houses appeared and pennants were flying above their roofs. These were the boat clubs, the members all rowers or former rowers and the boats were racing shells. In this area, the river water was clean and there were fences preventing fishermen and swimmers and any trespassers. The city was very proud of the boat clubs, some of which boasted rowers who'd made the Olympics. Also, many of the members were from families whose names were a tradition in the city, the lineage going back to the Seventeenth Century. The fences made certain that only the properly qualified got in. A blueblood could get in. A ditch digger could get in provided he was a first rate rower, capable of winning silver cups. There was no way for a man to buy his way in. In the city there were multi-millionaires who'd been trying for years to get in and never would. On very rare occasions a man got in because he had something on one of the bluebloods. Like a photograph showing the blueblood in an off-beat situation. That was how Grogan got in, some twelve years back. The photo had been taken at night in the zoo, and it showed the blueblood involved with a full-grown zebra.

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