In the Hand of Dante - Nick Tosches

read by Johnny Depp

Audiobook, Penguin, June 2002


“Downstairs, on West Twenty-sixth Street, he stood awhile in the night. It was the dead of August, that time in New York when the daylight sky was an oppressive lowlying glare of white, and the dark of night was a haze of starless ashen pallor. Louie felt at one with it. He lighted a cigarette and drew smoke. It was late. But not for him.

Humidity and his own sweat began to gather on his skin. He looked at the moist glistening amid the hair of his bare forearm. He looked longer at the hand that held the cigarette. He didn’t know which was worse, the traces of his own detested bodily fluid or the slime of that bitch’s tongue. This would clean him, he told himself, feeling the gathering of humidity and sweat increase. All he needed now was a good breeze from the river. That would be nice. He began to walk. He had not tucked his shirt into his trousers, and he had not buttoned his shirt, and he did not do these things now. He carried his jacket of fine, fine cotton and fine, fine silk, the one that he had paid two grand for in Milano. It had been made for him, by whatever the fuck his name was. It was the color of the deep blue-green sea, and was almost weightless; but as he carried it, he could feel the sag of weight in one pocket.

It was his favorite jacket. It was like wearing nothing, and you could wear it with anything, and only a guy with class would see it for what it was. And it was the color of his eyes. Broads loved his eyes. Even now, even now that he was an old fuck, the broads still loved his eyes. Some were scared of them, but some loved them.

Louie paused a moment when he reached the corner of Sixth Avenue. He lighted another cigarette. He turned downtown. He kept on walking.

Yeah, sixty-three fucking years old last May. And here he was, walking down the avenue like a kid. He liked to walk, at night, alone, even in this heat. It was nice. These nigger punks passing him by in the street: they got nothing on me, he told himself. It was true. It really was.”

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