A Cry of Angels

A Cry of Angels

Jeff Fields
Foreword by Terry Kay
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 392
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46nf3q
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  • Book Info
    A Cry of Angels
    Book Description:

    It is the mid-1950s in Quarrytown, Georgia. In the slum known as the Ape Yard, hope's last refuge is a boardinghouse where a handful of residents dream of a better life. Earl Whitaker, who is white, and Tio Grant, who is black, are both teenagers, both orphans, and best friends. In the same house live two of the most important adults in the boys' lives: Em Jojohn, the gigantic Lumbee Indian handyman, is notorious for his binges, his rat-catching prowess, and his mysterious departures from town. Jayell Crooms, a gifted but rebellious architect, is stuck in a loveless marriage to a conventional woman intent on climbing the social ladder. Crooms's vision of a new Ape Yard, rebuilt by its own residents, unites the four-and puts them on a collision course with Doc Bobo, a smalltown Machiavelli who rules the community like a feudal lord. Jeff Fields's exuberantly defined characters and his firmly rooted sense of place have earned A Cry of Angels an intensely loyal following. Its republication, more than three decades since it first appeared, is cause for celebration.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3863-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-2)
    Terry Kay

    When Jeff Fields was fourteen, nudging against fifteen, he left his home and moved into a boarding house in Elberton, Georgia. To provide for his needs, he took a job at the Elbert Theatre, first as usher, then as projectionist. It was a watch-and-be-wary, learn-on-the-go lifestyle.

    Thus, it is not a great surprise that his novel, A Cry of Angels, first published in 1974 by Atheneum, features a young man named Earl Whitaker, a fourteen-year-old orphan living in a boarding house operated by his great-aunt Esther.

    By his own confession, writing the book was, for Fields, a “correcting,” a way...

  3. [Prologue]
    (pp. 3-6)

    The storm broke and thrashed along the river in the summer darkness, with water slanting, leaves flying, trees bent and writhing in the wind.

    Beyond the metal crying of Dirsey’s beer sign, wrenching violently on its pole, behind the rattling windows of the rough board and tarpaper building crouched at the mouth of Twig Creek, work-stained men in clay-crusted brogans stood silently in the yellow light and watched the drunken Indian dance in the circle of beer bottles on the floor.

    Round and round he circled and swayed, a seven-foot giant in khaki clothes, his long hair brushing the flypaper...

  4. BOOK ONE
    • 1
      (pp. 9-22)

      “Earrr’uhl . . . Earrr’uhl . . .”

      The voice sang softly in my ear, wafting on the scent of Tube Rose snuff. It was Farette, the boardinghouse cook, waking me up.

      “Aw, Farette, no . . . please.”

      “I got a dipper of cold water,” came the voice coaxingly. “You set up and drink it, it’ll wake you up. You lay dere, and I’ll po’ it down yo’ back. Dat’ll wake you up too . . .”

      I pulled the pillow around me. “I was up late, Farette, I had to bring . . .”

      “I was up late...

    • 2
      (pp. 23-38)

      I took a deep breath and headed for the dining room.

      Places at the table were claimed by the boarders on arrival at Miss Esther’s, and held for life. With the exception, of course, of the transient Mrs. Porter. No place suited her, and no sooner was she seated than she was prevailing on someone to swap. The sun was in her eyes. Her chair had a bit of a “rick.” Or, couldn’t she sit near the hall, as she was expecting a telephone call.

      My place, when I was forced to take it, was between Mrs. Bell and Mr....

    • 3
      (pp. 39-45)

      True to his word, Jayell arrived promptly at seven o’clock.

      Gwen Burns swirled into the parlor in a crisp white dress, complete with hat and gloves. When she saw me waiting on the couch, all decked out in my sport coat and clip-on bow tie, she looked surprised but said nothing.

      When I followed them out and got in the back of the truck, she looked even more surprised—and said something.

      “All right, what the hell’s going on here?” “Oh, him?” said Jayell. “It’s all right, Miss Esther said he could go.”

      “Jayell! This is our first time together...

    • 4
      (pp. 46-55)

      “Come on, Em, somebody’s going to call the law!” The Indian tore loose from my grip and hurled himself back at the squeaking fence. In the glare of streetlight on the other side, the big collie dog was frenzied with fury, fangs bared, climbing the wire. Jojohn howled back at him, waving his arms, the great blubbery face taunting, tormenting. The dog leaped to bite and Jojohn reached over the fence, grabbing for the bristling neck. The collie snapped for the extended hand and the Indian snagged his collar and lifted high the startled animal, swinging around and holding him...

    • 5
      (pp. 56-67)

      The next morning, still shaken from her visit to church and the chaotic scene with Em, Gwen skipped breakfast, pleading a faculty planning session at the school, where she would be teaching eighth-grade English and civics. When Miss Esther asked me if she was satisfied with our Episcopal church, I had to admit that we went to Four Forks. That worried her. “How’d she take all that shoutin’ and jumpin’ around?”

      “Oh,” I said, “before it was over she was up and shoutin’ too.”

      Miss Esther seemed surprised, but greatly relieved. As soon as the breakfast dishes were cleared away...

    • 6
      (pp. 68-83)

      Lilly Waugh’s farm was located at the very top of Wolf Mountain, which rose out of the rolling foothills at the back of Quarrytown and overlooked the town and the Ape Yard.

      By driving back and forth between Quarrytown and Atlanta on the weekends during the summer he was at the college, Jayell had kept his construction business going as best he could. But the Waugh house, almost finished when he was called away, had been largely neglected. Building that house had been a pain. Since none of Jayell’s black shop boys were allowed up there, Jayell concentrated on his...

    • 7
      (pp. 84-89)

      August ended, and with it, the last of summer freedom. The day after Labor Day I dutifully greased down the sprigs of my new haircut, found a pair of socks that would stand exposure on the gymnasium floor for calisthenics in P.E. class, and with Gwen Burns beside me on that first day, walked over to College Avenue to enter the bewildering fracas of high school.

      In those days, we attended elementary school through the seventh grade, then moved up to high school as “sub-freshmen” in the eighth. Quarrytown High, the only white high school in town, was an old...

    • 8
      (pp. 90-99)

      From the first, the girl had been striking sparks at the boardinghouse. As we waited for Jayell to build them a house, she made her presence increasingly felt. She wrinkled her nose at most of Farette’s meals. She argued politics with the men, who knew nothing about politics, which accomplished nothing and took away the fun. She pointedly asked Mr. Woodall what brand of cigar he was smoking, and he took the hint and clumped to the porch. And she brought Mrs. Cline to the edge of a stroke by calling her favorite faith-healing evangelist a fraud. In a household...

    • 9
      (pp. 100-105)

      As it turned out, Jayell himself solved the problem. In a drunken tear, he abruptly announced, “Hell, I know what she wants is a plain old ordinary house, so by God, why don’t I just build her a plain old ordinary house! What’s she want, one of your Ranchero models, a Tara, a Magnolia Manor?” He ripped through the drawings and magazine clippings piled on his office desk. “All right, I’ll build her the ordinariest house—what do I care? She’s the one got to live in it, right? Ain’t that what the salesmen say? I’ll build such a box...

    • 10
      (pp. 106-115)

      “Jayell, you’re killing yourself.” Gwen spread the sand wiches and potato salad on a sawhorse trestle. Since it was Saturday, Jayell, for once, had let the shop boys knock off at noon, but he had asked me to stay and help him salvage a small barn after we finished painting on the Ledbetter house. “Why don’t you quit for the weekend? I never see you anymore.”

      “Promised to clear away a barn this afternoon.” Jayell ate silently, his eyes scanning the nearly finished house.

      “The Martins have offered us the use of their boat if we want to go down...

    • 11
      (pp. 116-127)

      When the Pollard County fair opened in November, Em and I were ready; we had saved our money for weeks.

      For entertainment, Quarrytown was about as well off as most small towns. There was the Tower Theater and traveling shows that still came through occasionally in those days, including a “science show” set up in a vacant lot by a man who stood on the tailgate of a pickup and did tricks with chemicals, then mixed up bread with a liquid he said was stomach acid, and blew up a balloon with it to show how his indigestion medicine worked;...

    • 12
      (pp. 128-137)

      By the first of March the house in Marble Park was finished, a fact that was obvious to everyone, it seems, but Jayell Crooms. He still had Em and the older shop boys on the premises from dawn to dark, and expected the rest of us to keep coming directly from school, although there was little to do but tap and scrape, carry bits of lumber from here to there, and try to look busy enough not to get yelled at. When Jayell did turn up a bit of real work, we fell on it like a pack of terriers...

    • 13
      (pp. 138-146)

      The wedding was set for the seventeenth of April, and it was to be a church wedding. Jayell wanted a quick civil ceremony, but since Gwen and her mother had conceded to his refusal to have the wedding in Atlanta, he felt he had to give in on that point.

      Gwen’s mother came to town a week prior to the wedding, and after one visit to the boardinghouse, put up at the Marble City Hotel and took her daughter with her. From the time she arrived, Mrs. Burns was completely in charge of the wedding plans. She was a butterfly...

  5. BOOK TWO
    • 14
      (pp. 149-156)

      One of the finest things to do on a dull Sunday afternoon was to go inner-tubing on the Little Iron River, and the Sunday following Jayell’s wedding seemed perfect. The day had all the markings: the heat, the sluggish stirrings, the musty smell, like yesterday called back for another shift. By midmorning even the clouds seemed to knock off and head home, dragging their shadows over the clothesline. When I went down after breakfast to wake Jojohn, he rubbed his soles on the blanket, scratched the insides of his thighs, opened one eye and hung a string of profanity across...

    • 15
      (pp. 157-161)

      I fell against the door, breathing hard. Miss Esther was sitting up in bed buttoning her gown. Dr. Breisner stood beside her in his baggy seersucker suit, shaking down what looked to be, in my excitement, a large black thermometer, but turned out to be his fountain pen. His heavy brows knitted in concentration as he tried to get it to write. Miss Esther was staring at me.

      “Mr. Whitaker, what is this commotion?”

      I tried to get my legs to stop quaking. “They said—what is it? How is she, doctor?”

      Miss Esther snorted. “You might as well talk...

    • 16
      (pp. 162-164)

      Vance and Lucille Cahill arrived on Thursday morning in a new station wagon with the eleven-year-old twins, Victor and Vanessa, asleep on a mattress in the back, and towing an aged bird dog in a U-Haul trailer. “Spider goes ever’where with us,” chuckled Vance proudly, lifting the bruised animal down.

      Vance was approaching forty now, with bulging neck and a thick stomach and a sweaty, blond crew-cut. The twins were perfect miniatures of their father. The girl climbed out crossly, rubbing sleep drool off with her wrist and complaining about the heat, and her brother clambered straight up the steps,...

    • 17
      (pp. 165-169)

      The Vance Cahills were in town only through the weekend, the time required to “get Miss Esther’s affairs in order,” which meant placing the house with a realtor and crating up the things that Lucille liked, and those that Miss Esther absolutely refused to part with, for shipment to North Carolina.

      On Sunday afternoon Mr. J. J. Bearden of Bearden Real Estate assembled everyone in the living room. Mr. Bearden was a humble, hunch-shouldered man with a confidential air who leaned close when he talked and breathed on you like a dentist. He greeted each of the boarders in turn,...

    • 18
      (pp. 170-177)

      By noon the next day the moving van had left, the station wagon was loaded, and the hired ambulance had arrived for Miss Esther. Vance had howled in protest over the extravagance until a hurried call to the insurance agent reassured him that it was covered by her major medical. But when the men arrived with a stretcher she shooed them out of her room and came down carrying her bag. She further flabbergasted her son by ordering one of the attendants into the back and crawling in beside the driver. “But, Mama,” spluttered Vance, “what’s the good of having...

    • 19
      (pp. 178-184)

      I awoke the next morning in a new world. It was raining, and water leaked through a crack beside the window and splattered on the sill. It took several moments to realize where I was, and then I lay on Em’s cot listening to the rain drumming and fighting the empty feeling inside me. I pulled the footlocker up to the window and sat looking up through the trees toward the boardinghouse. It sat still and gray in the rain, the warmth, the look of life still lingering. It wouldn’t be for long, I thought, without Miss Esther. I stood...

    • 20
      (pp. 185-194)

      That night Tio came struggling up the gulley with a slab of fatback, some flour wrapped in newspaper, and a small jar of molasses. We fried the fatback and crumbled molasses in it and I sopped it with shards of the hoecake he made in the skillet.

      “Did you go by the hospital?” I asked.

      “Yeah.”

      “How is he?”

      “I didn’t get to talk to him. They said he got to raisin’ so much hell the doctor had to knock him out again.”

      “Boy, what a mess,” I said.

      “That house for Ruben Johnson was the only one he had...

    • 21
      (pp. 195-200)

      “Leave me alone! Get away, you hear me? Get your hands off me!” In the loft, I wrestled him into the makeshift bathroom, dodging his flailing elbows. He fell heavily against the tin wall, shooting out cracks in the enamel, and he glared at me through a grotesque black mask of shoe polish. “What did you come back for?”

      “I might ask you the same thing.” I tried to unbutton his shirt and he pushed me away. I slapped his hands aside and he pushed me away again, then ripped off his shirt in drunken disgust and threw it at...

    • 22
      (pp. 201-207)

      Feeling better, Em decided he wanted a bath, and sat by the well singing softly to himself. I poured bucket after bucket of water over him and told him all that had happened, the cigarette in his mouth washing apart until only a strip of paper lay on his lip. He sat smiling and humming that wordless song as he watched the dawn drift in from the woods.

      “Not a thing to worry about,” he said, pulling on his clothes. “We’ll make out just fine. Damn, I’m hungry!”

      He walked up to pay his respects to the boarders (returning with...

    • 23
      (pp. 208-215)

      Cooper Corner was a shaded, windswept corner up near the fairgrounds, the gathering place for day laborers from the Ape Yard. We settled ourselves under the umbrella oak and waited, and for a while it seemed no one else was coming. Then, with the first gray tinting of the air they began emerging from the shadows of the hollow. They drifted up the winding paths and settled around us with a rustle of crusted work clothes, the soft scrapings of leather. They all looked tired and sleepy, and smelled of the sweat of yesterdays in the sun.

      “Good mornin’,” bellowed...

    • 24
      (pp. 216-221)

      As the days went by at Cooper Corner we learned not to be so quick to step forward, and when men of Hutchinson’s reputation came we watched the black people for the hesitation, the polite mutterings of work already promised, and let their trucks go by. It was good to be out early again and working. We bolted a quick breakfast at the bus station, the only place open at that time of the morning, and raced each other to the corner, shouting to hear our voices bounce off the darkened buildings.

      But it was a summer of mercilessly hard...

    • 25
      (pp. 222-226)

      The night was aglow behind Barton’s auction barn. The song was “The Old Rugged Cross.” And so strange to be crawling toward it through the weeds, toward that comforting old hymn trembling with fear, as though a monster might be calling in your mother’s voice.

      There were about a hundred people in the pasture, leaning against their vehicles, standing, squatting, singing, while a huge cross lapped its fire in the wind. On a flatbed truck a half-dozen men sat in metal folding chairs. They all wore white sheets and pointed hats, some trimmed in red, some in blue. A couple...

    • 26
      (pp. 227-235)

      With the coming of fall, work got scarcer at the Corner. There was never enough to go around, and by unspoken agreement Em and I sat still with the other younger men until those with children had found work, and then the elderly. Often as not that was all there was, and we returned home with nothing but hope for the next day. Finally school started and I was limited to whatever I could find in the afternoons. Most often I found nothing but Em sitting under the oak, still waiting. At last we gave up the Corner for good...

    • 27
      (pp. 236-243)

      Finally, we got a break. Jayell, no longer able to bear watching Gwen leave the house for work, and apparently having drunk his melancholic self-pity to the dregs, came tearing out of convalescence and took the job with Smithbilt Homes. They had no major projects going in Quarrytown at the time, only an occasional house or two contracted by individuals, but on those Jayell gave Em, the shop boys and me every hour of work he could. His new income also enabled him to reopen the shop for repairs and cabinet work.

      Jayell’s first assignment was the bogging Abbeville development,...

    • 28
      (pp. 244-251)

      Fall had dried fast into a rattling, brown October. It was Halloween night. The streets were filled with little trick-or-treaters in dime-store masks, pouring past the store—where Mr. Teague and Tio had laid in an extra supply of candy for them—and on up the hill to the boardinghouse. The boarders had pushed Ruby Lampham’s bed against the upstairs window and gathered round to watch Mr. Burroughs and Mr. Rampey, in sheets and horrible “dough-faces,” leap out of the hedges and scare hell out of the kids.

      It was freezing cold, and I was coming home from the picture...

    • 29
      (pp. 252-260)

      When Tio found out about the motorcycle he was beside himself. “That’s an old Harley 80 stroker!” he cried as Em lifted it out of the water. “She’ll bust the road wide open!”

      “Won’t be bustin’ nothin’ anymore,” observed Em, watching the mud and water drip. “Front tire’s gone, frame twisted. You got a piece of junk there’s what you got.”

      Tio was all over it, squatting, feeling, testing, pulling. “You don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, man; we take her apart and clean her up, touch up a little here and there, this mama bird’ll totally fly!”

      We dragged...

    • 30
      (pp. 261-272)

      “Damnit, hold still!”

      “You cut me!” I jumped off the stool and rubbed my stinging neck. My hand came away with blood on it. “Look at that! Would you just look at that?”

      “Jes’ a little nick. Set down.” Em grabbed my arm and pulled me back on the stool. “Never heard such carryin’ on over a little scratch.”

      “I’ll probably get blood poisoning. Whoever heard of cuttin’ hair with hedge shears anyway?”

      “Seventy-five cents for a barber—ain’t no sense in it. Tilt your head so I can wipe it off.”

      “Don’t use that towel, it’s dirty. Get the...

  6. BOOK THREE
    • 31
      (pp. 275-280)

      It was the first Saturday in the new year, Poncini Day, the official opening of the six-month-long centennial observance, and a thundering, hell-springing day in Quarrytown. Mayor Growler had made a proclamation speech from the courthouse steps. Poncini Park, a network of sidewalks and benches crisscrossing two acres of azaleas behind Galaxy Plaza, had been dedicated.

      The streets were jammed with people vying for bargains at the Poncini Day sales, people in newly sprouting beards, in derby hats and string ties and homemade grandma dresses; not altogether authentic maybe, but Old Timey.

      A square dance was in progress in Allie...

    • 32
      (pp. 281-289)

      Tio walked back and forth, calculating. Em and I sat shelling peanuts, watching him deliberate. The principle was sound, we all agreed on that. By rights the automatic potato bin should work like a charm.

      The manager of the Valley Farm store had grown so accustomed to seeing Tio hanging around studying his operations that he took the boy aside to give him advice from time to time. Always keeping your shelves and bins stocked was basic, he said; customers never liked to buy the last few items of anything. In shoe stores, he pointed out, didn’t they always bring...

    • 33
      (pp. 290-297)

      Nothing more was heard from the mayor or the granite association, but the very next day Doc Bobo began quietly buying the property around Mr. Teague. One by one the shacks were emptied, their occupants relocated in the cheap prefab little houses that began springing up along the south side of the hollow.

      “Let him clean ’em all out,” said Mr. Teague, “till I’m the only one left over here, just help to see the store better.”

      To the great relief of the boarders and myself, who had been on edge ever since we learned that our new landlord was...

    • 34
      (pp. 298-304)

      Mrs. Boggs’s funeral was held Sunday afternoon, a simple graveside service. Reverend Reese of Rehobath Pentecostal officiated. He didn’t know the Boggses, but Em pressed five dollars in his hand and he came. Phaedra stood with an arm lined in her father’s. Marvin Boggs, a scrawny little man with a brown suit coat over his overalls, stood rubbing his stringy hair in his eyes as he cried. There were just the three of us, besides the preacher. Em didn’t come, as I knew he probably wouldn’t. He told the preacher I would show him the way and disappeared.

      When the...

    • 35
      (pp. 305-308)

      It was more than two weeks before Em and Jayell were heard from again. One Thursday, at suppertime, Em came wandering up the steps. Alone.

      And to all questions about Jayell, or where they had been, he would only close one eye and answer, “Shhhhhhhh.”

      Phaedra Boggs must have been keeping a close watch on our place from her house, because Em was hardly in the door and scratching around for his supper before she came bounding in behind him.

      “Where’s Jayell?” she panted breathlessly.

      Em casually rummaged in the ice bucket and filled his tea glass.

      “Well—what did...

    • 36
      (pp. 309-312)

      The straggling exodus continued from the little tin-roofed houses on the sloping acreage surrounding Teague’s store. Once, sometimes twice a week one of the poor black families could be seen loading their belongings into a pickup or one of the trucks from Bobo’s mill and descending the winding dirt road to the raw, hastily constructed little shacks on the south side of the hollow, many of them merely shells, still unfinished on the inside when their occupants moved in.

      “I don’t like it,” said Em, as we stopped to watch Speck Turner, the black plumber, loading his household goods into...

    • 37
      (pp. 313-322)

      The boarders sat in the yellow light of the parlor lamps as Mr. Bearden talked, motionless, like waxen figures, staring at the floor.

      Mr. Bearden took his hat from the hatrack. “You may have all the time you need and, of course, I stand ready to help with arrangements in any way I can. My card is on the mantle. Please do feel free to call.”

      Finally, after he had gone, Mrs. Metcalf sighed and leaned forward. “Well, that’s it, then, isn’t it? That’s the end of the boardinghouse.”

      “By God,” mumbled Mr. Burroughs, “throwed out of one house, now...

    • 38
      (pp. 323-328)

      The next morning before light, Em and I were startled awake by a horrendous ruckus on the stairs. It was Burroughs, Rampey and Jurgen, all decked out in their work clothes, beating on the steps and shouting for us to get a move-on.

      “Will you sleep till they pull the place down around you?” hollered Mr. Burroughs.

      “Farette’s holdin’ breakfast, boys,” said Mr. Rampey.

      After we were stuffed with sausage, grits and eggs until we could hardly walk, we were herded into the bus with the other boarders, and enough box lunches to feed a regiment, and carted off to...

    • 39
      (pp. 329-335)

      The day work began on the Daniels house, a little farther up the slope to the right of the other two, more onlookers drifted up from the Ape Yard. Neighbors came to watch, to roam through the curious structures and tease Willie Daniels and his mother about the prospects of living in such a bizarre house.

      “Where’s the door, Sarah?” one asked Willie’s mother. “This it here?”

      “Mist’ Jayell don’t build no doors,” said another, “you got to climb in and out the winders.”

      “One thing sho’, nobody gon’ break in on you, Sarah, less’n they come down the chimbley.”...

    • 40
      (pp. 336-341)

      The next morning Em refused to budge from the loft. “Stay away from there, boy! We’re through with that place, you hear me!”

      “Speak for yourself,” I said, pulling on my clothes.

      “We done crossed Bobo now, can’t you get that through your head? We crossed Bobo!”

      “And he backed down, didn’t he?” I said, still feeling extra good about having busted him one.

      “He backed down ’cause he’s too smart to tangle with white people! But that jus’ means he’ll start workin’ through white people to get what he wants. You don’t know the power that man’s got!”

      I...

    • 41
      (pp. 342-347)

      “Get up, boy! Sump’n’s happened!” It was Em, standing silhouetted against the predawn blue of the window. When he saw I was awake he stepped through the window onto the roof of the shed. I jumped out of bed and followed him, and we stood looking down into the early shadows of the Ape Yard. I couldn’t make out anything unusual; there were a few people moving about, the headlights of cars on their way to the first shift at the mill, kitchen lights burning, the usual early morning stirrings in the hollow.

      “I don’t see anything. What is it?”...

    • 42
      (pp. 348-354)

      As soon as the men left, young boys who had been idling at the door went running. In a matter of minutes people were stopping each other in the street, calling up to porches, shouting across the creek.

      “Lemme through there, get out of my way!” Em bellowed at those already crowding to the door.

      “Where you going, Em?” I said, catching up to him.

      “Down the river. Leave me alone.”

      “When will you be back?” I asked anxiously.

      “When I’m drunk enough to stand gettin’ killed,” he said, and hove down into the road.

      The news of Mr. Teague's...

    • 43
      (pp. 355-363)

      Friday night I was alone in the loft eating supper. It was a beautiful, clear July night. Stars sparkled out the window, through which a cool breeze worried the flame of the lamp on the table.

      I would miss the loft. There could be no substitute at Wolf Mountain for its comfort, its smells. I looked around at it, with its splintery ribs, its stains, the empty fish tank, and recalled what it meant to me in those early days in comparison to the boardinghouse—that frightening boardinghouse with its strange rooms, its shadows, its curious old faces, the pomp...

    • 44
      (pp. 364-367)

      The Ape Yard stood waiting in the smoky, brick-red dawn. There had been rain in the night, and when the first hazy slivers of sunlight began to worm their way through the trees beyond the river, heavy black clouds still lay banked to the south. Silent lightning licked at the distant earth.

      Doc Bobo’s voice rang through the quiet. “Get ’em out! Get ’em all out here!”

      Tio and I stood beside him on the steps of the Rainbow Supper Club and watched the dog boys move from house to house, kicking in doors, snapping orders, herding people into the...

    • 45
      (pp. 368-373)

      Beyond the last houses on the upper ridge, a blobby shadow was descending through the red earthen light. Down the terra-cotta slopes he came like a charging primeval beast, jumping, bouncing, clearing the rain-gutted trenches, howling that inhuman cry.

      Heads poked out of the supper club’s windows. The dog boy on that end of the porch, recovering, raised his gun and braced it against the post. Doc Bobo was on him. “No shooting! No shooting!”

      On the Indian came, leaping from bank to bank, dead-on across the grassy knolls, sliding down the clay.

      “Stop him!” Doc Bobo shouted to the...

    • 46
      (pp. 374-376)

      I became aware of movement along The porch. The two dog boys who had been guarding the crowd were edging toward the other end, their frightened eyes darting. Suddenly they sprang over the far rail and took off down the road toward the river, knees high, pumping hard, their shoulders jerking as they ran.

      Doc Bobo stood in the yard, turning, looking at Fay, at Jojohn, at the figures disappearing down the road.

      There was a soft, rustling sound. He turned and looked up, and stood transfixed.

      They were pouring slowly down the hillsides, down the banks, filling the paths,...

  7. [Epilogue]
    (pp. 377-383)

    It was just after sunrise.

    Jayell, Phaedra and I stood before the nearly finished house the boarders would occupy and waited for them to finish their inspection. Mr. Burroughs, dressed in his best Sunday suit, lunged up and down the yard looking at his watch. Mr. Rampey dozed at the wheel of the loaded school bus.

    After a week, the Ape Yard was pretty much back to normal. The celebration that had gone on for three days, with crowds milling and carousing in the hollow under the watchful eyes of state troopers and national guardsmen, was over. The town itself...