Franny and Zooey and Glanton’s Gang.
In the deadwinter of nineteen seventy-eight Glanton and the kid and the judge rode up north through the night in the cold stillness and across the gray fields and icy swamps and frozen urine until they reached New Jersey. The darkness had given way to the head of a furious flaming phallus forcing its way up through the cracks in the dim skyline, painting the city in a glaze of bright red blood. As they prepared to ford the great river before them, Glanton noticed garish chunks of ice slashing through the dirtbrown water and so they decided to take the Holland Tunnel instead.
The riders clattered uptown to Park Avenue and they came to a stop in front of an apartment building that rose like a hoodoo from the gritty asphalt. The doorman asked can I help you.
The kid eyed the man up and down. You aint nothin, he said. The judge smiled. Glanton spat. I aint need no help with nobody he said. I dont imagine there might be someone in this place that couldnt be needin some help from me.
No horses allowed in the lobby, said the doorman. Glanton held up his pistol and threw down the hammer and the doormans blood splattered to the marble floor as he fell.
A man emerged from the elevator. I am the narrator, he said, but thats beside the point. My sister is having a nervous breakdown upstairs and I think its because shes spending too much time with her loser boyfriend at Yale.
The kid eyed the man up and down. You aint nothin, he said. The judge smiled. Glanton spat. We can do that, he said, and the man asked him what it was that he could do. We can bring you back the scalp of this man, said Glanton, you just tell us his name and how we can track him down. Track him down, the man said, thats hilarious, please do, please go up to New Haven his name is Lane he wears cashmere cardigans give him a good scare.
Glanton spat. Consider it done.
They traveled northeast through the parched wastes of Manhattan past street construction contraptions that rose like orange and white caterpillars from the asphalt into small parks where the cold hard dirt crunched under their feet like delicate bones. The kids horse stopped in the middle of the street and bent its great shaggy head low to lap up a puddle of water in the concrete but then it was run over by a dumptruck and they all decided to take MetroNorth instead.
They rode up along the coast and arrived in New Haven at old stale green at the middle of the town where a beggar had collapsed on a bench and a loud old woman was selling flowers for one dollar.
Glanton spat. I dont know how to find this man named Lane, he said.
The judge smiled. If you simply cast your gaze out across a wide enough range of the population, he said, the person for whom you are searching will most remarkably reveal himself to the rest.
At that moment, a stocky man in a cashmere cardigan entered the green. Are you Lane, said Glanton. Yes, said the man, but if you’ll excuse me I really am in a great rush. We been meanin to talk to you, Glanton said. I really mustnt talk to anybody right now, said the man, as I am very late to a meeting with my disgusting professor to discuss a paper I recently wrote on Flaubert and the whole thing is a sham I assure you, I dont see how he could possibly be wanting to publish this goddamn awful document and really I barely gave it any thought as I wrote it. The man stopped short.
You aint nothin, the kid said. The judge smiled. Glanton spat.
Then the judge rose up and enveloped Lane in his hideous and massive and terrible flesh and left him in a mangled pile in the center of the green, blood mingling with cashmere, seeping slowly into the cold hard ground. Suddenly the judge was naked, dancing and leaping and playing a fiddle. I never sleep, he said, and I will never die.
I wouldnt go in there said a passing tour guide trying to divert a group of prep school seniors but it was too late. That does it I’m going to Princeton instead, said one, I always heard New Haven was a hellhole.
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