" Hot nights filled with summer thunder. Heat lightning far and thin and the midnight sky becrazed and mended back again. Suttree moved down to the gravelbar on the river and spread his blanket there under the gauzy starwash and lay naked with his back pressed to the wheeling earth. The river chattered and sucked past at his elbow. He'd lie awake long after the last dull shapes in the coals of the cookfire died and he'd go naked into the cool and velvet waters and submerge like an otter and come up and blow, the stones smooth as marbles under his cupped toes and the dark water reeling past his eyes. He'd lie on his back in the shallows and on these nights he'd see stars come adrift and rifle hot and dying across the face of the firmament. The enormity of the universe filled him with a strange sweet woe.
She always found him. She'd come pale and naked from the trees into the water like some dream old prisoners harbor or sailors at sea. Or touch his cheek where he lay sleeping and say his name. Holding her arms aloft like a child for him to raise up over them the nightshirt that she wore and her to lie cool and naked against his side. "
82 " He heard the fireman clank shut the door and leave and he poured the coffee and stirred in milk from a can and sipped and blew and read of wildness and violence across the cup’s rim. As it was then, is now and ever shall. "
83 " One day coming up Market he caught sight of a crowd among which the maddest man of God yet seen had appeared electrically out of the carbonic fog. He was some two thirds of a man tall and heavily set and red all over, this preacher. He had red curly hair on the back of his balding and boiled looking head and his skin was pale red and splotched with huge bloodcolored freckles and he was delivering the word in such fashion as even the oldest codgers on this street long jaded to the crop with crazed gospelarity could scarcely credit. "
84 " The preacher scooped a bobbing turnip from the flood and held it aloft. He provideth, he said. He knelt, oblivious to all, offering up the turnip, the water boiling about his thighs and sucking down the storm sewer. He washed the turnip like a raccoon and took a great bite. Here’s where it’s at, he said, spewing chewed turnip. On your knees in the streets. That’s where it’s at. An old man mad as he knelt beside. The preacher passed him the turnip. He give out the loaves and the fishes, he howled. Therefore ast not what shall I put on. The turnip was going from hand to hand in search of communicants. "
85 " He was trudging out across the field with his chin down so that withdrawing in the firelight he looked like a headless revenant turned away from the warmth of men's gatherings. "
87 " You have no right to represent people this way, he said. A man is all men. You have no right to your wretchedness. "
" What you got in the sack son?
He peered from under the load at his inquisitor lounging in the open window of a halted cruiser. He shifted the weight a little higher on his shoulder. Bats, he said.
No, them little'ns. Flittermouses.
The policeman's face bore a constant look of tolerant interest. Set the sack down son and let's see what all you got there.
Harrogate rolled the sack from his shoulder and lowered it to the paving and spread the drawstring mouth with his thumbs. A musky smell rose. He tilted it slightly policeward. The officer thumbed his cap back on his head and bent to see. A prefiguration of the pit. Vouchsafed a crokersack vision of hell's floor deep with the hairy damned screaming mute and toothy toward the far and heedless city of God. He raised his head and looked at the waiting Harrogate and he looked at the bright sky above Knoxville and he turned to the driver.
You know what he's got in that sack?
What's he got?
89 " A small soul’s going. By floodlight through the universe’s renal regions. Pale phagocytes drifting over, shadows and shapes through the tubes like the miscellany in a waterdrop. The eye at the end of the glass would be God’s. "
90 " Suttree eased himself down on the arm of the sofa and sipped his beer. He patted J-Bone on the back. The voices seemed to fade. He waved away the whiskeybottle with a smile. In this tall room, the cracked plaster sootstreaked with the shapes of laths beneath, this barrenness, this fellowship of the doomed. Where life pulsed obscenely fecund. in the drift of voices and the laughter and the reek of stale beer the Sunday loneliness seeped away. "
" On a wild night he went through the dark of the apple orchards downriver while a storm swept in and lightning marked him out with his empty sack. The trees reared like horses all about him in the wind and the fruit fell hard to the ground like the disordered clop of hooves.
Suttree stood among the screaming leaves and called the lightning down. It cracked and boomed about and he pointed out the darkened heart within him and cried for light. If there be any art in the weathers of this earth. Or char these bones to coal. If you can, if you can. A blackened rag in the rain.
He sat with his back to a tree and watched the storm move on over the city. Am I a monster, are there monsters in me? "
93 " In my father’s last letter he said that the world is run by those willing to take the responsibility for the running of it. If it is life that you feel you are missing I can tell you where to find it. In the law courts, in business, in government. There is nothing occurring in the streets. Nothing but a dumbshow composed of the helpless and the impotent. "
94 " On Simm's hill they stood looking down at the lights of the city. While the starts scudded and the sedge writhed all about them in the dark. A niggard beacon winked above the black and sleeping hills. In the distance the lights of the fairground and the ferriswheel turning like a tiny clockgear. Suttree wondered if she were ever a child at a fair dazed by the constellations of light and the hurdygurdy music of the merrygoround and the raucous calls of the barkers. Who saw in all that shoddy world a vision that child's grace knows and never the sweat and the bad teeth and the nameless stains in the sawdust, the flies and the stale delirium and the vacant look of solitaries who go among these garish holdings seeking a thing they could not name. "
95 " He lay down in his blankets. It was growing dark, long late mid-summer twilight in the woods. He wanted to go down to the river to bathe but he felt too bad. He turned over and looked at the small plot of ground in the crook of his arm. My life is ghastly, he told the grass. "
96 " Suttree reached across the little space and took his uncle’s willowing hands and composed them. I dont blame you, he said. I just want to tell you how some people are. I know how people are. I should know. Why should you? You think my father and his kind are a race apart. You can laugh at their pretensions, but you never question their right to the way of life they maintain. "
" No one cares. It’s not important.
That’s where you’re wrong my friend. Everything’s important. A man lives his life, he has to make that important. Whether he’s a small town county sheriff or the president. Or a busted out bum. You might even understand that some day. I don't say you will. You might. "
98 " That’s where you’re wrong my friend. Everything’s important. A man lives his life, he has to make that important. Whether he’s a small town county sheriff or the president. Or a busted out bum. You might even understand that some day. "