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“My brother’s in the Coast Guard,” Lee told him. “That’s why we’re here. He’s stationed in Ellis Island. Port security it’s called.”

“My brother’s in Korea now.”

“My other brother’s in the Marines. They might send him to Korea. That’s what I’m worried about.”

“It’s not the Koreans you have to worry about,” Nicky Black said. “It’s the fucking Chinese.”
—Don Delillo, Libra

***

“Brothers, push these bandits over and tie them up. We’ll tell them to confess, to see if they are thieves or experienced bandits.”

“But we have no ropes!” said Sha Monk. Pilgrim pulled off some hairs and blew his immortal breath on them. At once they changed into some thirty ropes. All the brothers worked together: they pushed over the bandits and hog-tied them. Then Pilgrim recited the spell of release, and the bandits gradually regained consciousness.

Pilgrim asked the T’ang monk to take a seat above them before the three brothers, each holding his weapon, and shouting at the thieves, “Clumsy thieves, how many of you are there altogether? For how many years have you engaged in this business? How much stuff have you plundered? Have you killed anyone? Is this the first transgression? The second? Or the third?”

“Fathers, please spare our lives,” the thieves cried.

“Don’t yell!” said Pilgrim. “Make an honest confession.”

“Venerable Father,” said the thieves, “we are not accustomed to thievery, for we all sons of the good families. Because we are stupid enough to drink, gamble, and sleep with prostitutes, we have completely squandered our inheritances and properties. We have neither abilities nor money for our livelihood.”
Journey To The West, translated by Anthony C. Yu

***

You recall our previous dealings, of course? You handled my Uncle Maurice’s will back in ’81. We fought side by side against Bobbie and Maxine, my psycho aunts. But then, after the big victory, Mum and me had to wait nearly a year to get the house!! You said the same thing then: ‘slow process,’ ‘have patience,’ blah blah, but of course what you’re really saying is ‘Hey Prendergast, we want a piece of the action.’ All right, Mr. Reynolds. IF you can guarantee to get the bulk of the green to me safe and sound ASAP you can take your cut. Within reason. If any only if. Fair? In the meantime what I need from you is an immeditate cash fuel inection, maybe 4 or 5 grand. Something to tide my over till my ship coms in. I have to tell you my current financial situation is nothing short of desperate. My savings are nonexistent. A pack of fags over here costs an arm and a leg. Because I’m perpetually BROKE and IN DEBT I’ve had to let a number of VERY IMPORTANT ARTISTIC PROJECTS rind to a halt.”
—Meredith Brosnan, Mr. Dynamite

***

Diomedes frowned and looked at him and said:

“As I see it, you need not hold this thought
of slipping through our hands, now you are in them,
accurate though your facts may be. Suppose
we let you go, or let you go for ransom?
Later, by god, you’ll come down on the ships
to spy again, or to make open war!
Resign your life at my hands.
You make no further trouble for the Argives.”

Even as he spoke, the man leaned forward, reaching
to touch his chin, beseeching; but he brought his sword-blade
in a flash down on the nape
and severed the two tendons. In the dust
the head of the still crying man was muffled.
Now they pulled off his cap of weasel skin,
his grey-wolf jacket, javelin and bow,
and Lord Odysseus held these trophies high
to Athena, Hope of Soldiers.
The Iliad, translation by Robert Fitzgerald

***

Tony took the lump of money from his pocket and they counted it. Not bad eh, Tral? 250 clams. Yeah. How about giving me 50 now. What for? You aint going no where now. She shrugged and they went to bed. The next afternoon they went to the Greeks for coffee and two detectives came in and told them to come outside. They searched them, took the money from their pockets and pushed them into their car. The detectives waved the money in front of their faces and shook their heads. Dont you know better than to knock over a bookie drop? Huh? Huh, huh! Real clever arent you.
—Hubert Selby, Jr, Last Exit To Brooklyn

***

Brian Berger’s HiLoBrow.com tribute to Harry Belafonte appeared on Mr. Belafonte’s birthday, March 1. Robert Ryan, one of my favorite actors, was in fact a leftist and staunch champion of civil rights; his role as Harry Belafonte’s reluctant partner in Odds Against Tomorrow must be seen in that light. — Caz Dolowicz

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