"killer nutball I'm fucked sue me! The liable sucker who gets sued's me! Raving maniac never saw before picks me!"
The Sergeant brought both hands up to his chest, palms up and out in the Whoa, back off mode. "Slow down! This is your boat?"
"Yes! And I'm the one"
"Just hold it. What's your name?"
"Jonathan. The thing is, like, soon as I"
"You got a, like, last name?"
The great lubberly pussy looked at the Sergeant as if he, the Sergeant, had lost his mind. Then he said, "Krin?" It sounded like half a question. "K, R, I, N?" Being a member of the first generation that used no last names, he found the notion archaic.
"Okay, Jonathan, whyn't you"the Sergeant gave his palms three little pumps down toward the deck, as if to say, Calmly, without getting all excited"tell me how he got there."
It seemed that this portly, but perfectly portly, young man had invited his mates to come along for a cruise up Biscayne Bay to the house and marina of a friend on a celebrity-heavy waterfront enclave aptly known as Star Island. He saw no reason why he couldn't ease the schooner's seventy-five-foot mainmast underneath the eighty-two-feet-high bridge on the causeway until they got close to it and it began to look maybe dangerous, what with the wind and the choppy water and swells that were causing the schooner to pitch a bit. So they dropped anchor sixty feet from the bridge, and all eight of them went to the bow to study the situation.
One of them happened to turn around, and he said, "Hey, Jonathan, there's some guy back there on the deck! He just came up the ladder!" Sure enough, there was this thin, stringy, soaking-wet, sodden mess of a little man, breathing heavily homeless, everybody thought. He had somehow come up the ladder on the stern used for slipping into and out of the water. He now stood still, dripping, on the aft deck, staring at them. He started toward them slowly, warily, gulping for air, until Jonathan, in his capacity as owner and captain, yelled at him, "Hey, hold on, whattaya think you're doing?" The guy stopped, began gesturing with both hands, palms up, and jabbering, between gulps of air, in what they took to be Spanish. Jonathan kept yelling, "Get offa here! Go! Fuck off!" and other unfriendly commands. With that, the bum, as they all took him to be, started running jacklegged, stumbling, careening, not away from them but straight at them. The girls began screaming. The bum looked like a wet rat. Half his hair seemed to be plastered across his face. His eyes were bugged wide open. His mouth was wide open, maybe just because he couldn't get his breath, but you could see his teeth. He looked psychotic. The guys started yelling at him and waving their arms in the sort of crisscross pattern football referees use to indicate that a field goal kick is no good. The bum keeps coming and is only a few yards from them, and the girls are screaming, making a hell of a racket, and the guys are screamingby now their yells have turned into half-a-screamsand flailing their arms over their heads, and the bum wheels about and dashes to the forward mast and goes up it, to the top.
"Wait a minute," says Sergeant McCorkle. "Back up a second. Okay, so he's on the deck back there, and then he comes all the way from there to up here. Did you try to stop him? Did anybody try to stop him?"
Jonathan averted his eyes and took a deep breath and said, "Well, the thing is he looked like a psycho. You know? And maybe he had like a weaponyou know?a revolver, a knife. You couldn't tell."
"I see," said the Sergeant. "He looked like a psycho, and maybe he had a weapon, you couldn't tell, and you didn't try to stop him; nobody tried to stop him." He said it not as a question but as a recitation in a form of deadpan mockery cops like.
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.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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