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He opened his eyes on Space/Time Employment Agency, down on lower Broadway, near Fulton Street. Bad choice, he thought. It meant 15 cents for the subway. But a deal was a deal. On the Lexington Avenue downtown he saw a bum lying across the aisle, diagonal on the seat. Nobody would sit near him. He was king of the subway. He must have been there all night, yo-yoing out to Brooklyn and back, tons of water swirling over his head and he perhaps dreaming his own submarine country, peopled by mermaids and deep-sea creatures all at peace among the rocks and sunken galleons; must have slept through rush hour, with all sorts of suit-wearers and high-heel dolls glaring at him because he was taking up three sitting spaces but none of them daring to wake him. If under the street and under the sea are the same then he was the king of both. Profane remembered himself on the shuttle back in February, wondered how he’d looked to Kook, to Fina. Not like a king, he figured: more like a schlemihl, a follower.
—from V. (1963)


Photograph “Tunneling Deep In Rockaway Beach, 2008″ by Amber Tides, courtesy of Caz Dolowicz.

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