Excerpt of Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
(Page 7 of 12)
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Boos, taunts, every known loud expression of vilification rained down from the people packed against the railings of the bridge.
The man looked down at him in an anxious way and said, "¿Como?" trying to sort out what Nestor has said.
Maddening was what it was!
climbed sixty feet up a rope without using his legsbut he couldn't make himself understood. He needed to get closer. He started climbing the rope again, hand over hand. He glances up at the poor drowned rat. His face is
aghast. How can he tell him he's not coming up to arrest him? He can't think of the words! So he stops climbing and wraps his legs around the rope to free his right hand to give a reassuring signal. But what signal? All he can think of is the peace sign
He spreads his index finger and his middle finger to form a V. The man's face, now no more than four feet above Nestor, changes from aghast
to terrified. He starts to rise from the bosun's chair. Jesus Christ, what does he think he's doing? He's up on top of a seventy-foot mast with nothing to support him but a tiny bosun's chairand he wants to stand. He tries to anchor his feet on the pulley housing. Now he's out of his seat, teetering in a crouched position atop a mast that's pitching on a choppy sea
Nestor can see the worst about to happen. He climbs seventy feet up a ropehand over hand, without using his legsonly to cause a poor refugee to fall to his deathand whose fault is it? Nestor Camacho's! Who has made the Miami Police Marine Patrolhell, the entire forcelook like the brutal, heedless persecutors and killers of a poor man whose only sin was trying to put one foot on American soil! Who has committed this heartless crime? Nestor Camacho, infamy incarnate!
With two furious hand-over-hand hoists he reaches the bosun's chair and tries to catch the man's legor even his foottoo late! The man pitches forwardto his death! A ferocious fire erupts inside Nestor's skull
No! The man has pitched forward onto the cable. He's trying to slide down it backward
This poor skinny emaciated gray-brown slurry rathe'll kill himself! The cable runs at a steep angle from the mast to beyond the bow to the bowsprit
more than a hundred feet. Nestor crouches in the bosun's seat
For an instant he can see the mob on the bridge. He's level with them now
three, four, five deep
Sunbursts! Sunbursts! Sunbursts! Sunbursts! They're exploding off cameras! Heads are jumping up to get a better view of the show
a sign! One of them has a crude signfrom where?
COPS FIDELISTAS TRAIDORES
never been hated by so many people. He looks down
makes him dizzy
like standing on the edge of the roof of a ten-story building. The water's a sheet of blue-grayish steel with sunbursts dancing all over it. Boats!
small boats around the schooner
from out of nowhere!
a boata sign. Can it really say what he thinks it says?
all of this in an instant
Guilt! Fear! Horror!
but the greatest of these is Guilt! Must not let their hero die before their eyes! He swings down onto the cable
no use trying to catch up with him by sliding
Instinctively, in the mode they used in training camp, he starts swinging from the cable by his hands, heading down swing by swing, keeping his eyes on his slurry gray-brown quarry
His arms, his shoulders, the palms of his handsagony! He's going to tear apart
only two swings away from the guy. The guy's body is still on top of the cable, but it's yawing this way and that
not strong enough for this
lifts his head, looks Nestor right in the face
worse than terrorutter hopelessness comes over the poor bastard
he's had it!
the poor devil yaws so sharply he can't stay on top of the cable
feebly hanging by his hands for one final moment. Now or oblivion! For the poor bastard! For Nestor Camacho! He reaches the poor bastard with two swingsto do what?
Only one thing possible. He wraps his legs around the scrawny rodent's waist and locks them at the ankles
the poor little bastard lets go of the cable and collapses. The dead jolt shocks Nestor
the dead weight! ::::::My arms torn off my body at the shoulder sockets!:::::: Can't believe he's still herean organism composed of sheer pain from his burning hands to the sartorius muscles of his locked legs
sixty feet above the deck
to support this much weight by one hand while he swings the other to descend the cable
but if he doesn't¡Dios mío!he'll be fucking up! And not just fucking up
fucking up on television
Fucking up before thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions
might as well be billions
since one is all it would take, one officious mierda-mouth Americano sergeant namedbango!
Excerpted from Back to Blood
by Tom Wolfe. Copyright © 2012 by Tom Wolfe.
Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.