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Bay Ridge Autumn

the wine dark sea?The boy leaps from the slippery edge of the pier out toward the scow tied up alongside it. He’s done this dozens of times over the past few years, timing the slow heave and slide of the clumsy vessel as the swells carry it toward the pier and then away from it, but this time he misjudges and, in midair, his arms outstretched and his legs pistoning, realizes that he won’t land on the deck. His left foot touches the gunwhale, but the scow is riding away from him on the water, glassy with oil. Some other boys stand in momentary silent terror, still, on the pier in the anemic sunlight and brisk wind of the October afternoon, knowing the that their friend’s foot has not gained purchase. He falls between the hull and the pier just as the scow reaches its maximum distance from the pier, and is held, wholly still, by its huge, splintery hawsers. As the boy surfaces, the scow lifts and begins its terrible slide toward him, the swell carrying it silently, calmly, toward the pier. A deckhand hears the screaming of the boys on the pier and emerges, half-drunk, from a makeshift cabin of planks and tarpaper on the deck, and knows, instantly, what has happened, and that there is nothing to be done. He stands at the gunwhale and looks into the space between the hull and the pier, sees the boy’s small, tough face white with shock and fear, and yells, in a voice high with rage and anguish, in a near-cominc Norwegian accent, that the focking goddamn kid is focking goddamn crazy and to get the focking goddamn hell out of there, and then the boy is a soft crack and an explosion of gore and, weirdly, makes no sound as he is crushed to his filthy death. — Gilbert Sorrentino, from Little Casino (2003)

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