Friday, February 3, 2012
the last book I ever read (Ragtime, excerpt two)
from E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime:
After the bombing of the Municipal Fire Station, when Coalhouse's picture was published on every front page in the country, he sat down with a sheet over his shoulder and permitted one of the young men to shave his head and his neat moustache. The change in him was striking. His shaven head seemed massive. Younger Brother understood that whatever its practical justification this was no less than a ritualistic grooming for the final battle. A day or two later one of the band brought in the daily papers with photographs of the Model T raised from the pond. This tangible proof of the force of Coalhouse's will made them all feel holy. By the time they received news of Willie Conklin's flight and sat down to discuss the proper response, they were so transformed as to speak of themselves collectively as Coalhouse. Coalhouse gone to that coal and ice yard, one of them said, Willie be a dead man now. We missed our chance. Naw, Brother, another said, he better to us alive. He keeping Coalhouse in the folks' minds. He a plague. Now we going do something so terrible bad in this town, no one ever mess with a colored man for fear he belong to Coalhouse.