Entropy - Thomas Pynchon part 1 . . . I wake up reluctantly. I am still tired.
It is the sort of fatigue that sleep does not remedy— not that I am sleeping well anymore. For sixty days I have held on restlessly to an idea that will not take shape. Each time i put my hand out to touch, it melts away through my fingers in a flutter, like a breeze through late summer leaves. From my bed I hear the sound of my super, dragging garbage from the basement onto to the sticky sidewalk. I am fully awake now, and conscious of a decision that I have made the night before. As I drag myself out of bed I realize that I have let too much time pass, and that I will have to push to get the gears back in motion. The thought does not discourage. What else is there anyway, but the endless struggle to capture pleasant bits of time and stretch them as far as possible, knowing that the inevitable snap will again tear the respite apart, but resigned to the effort all the same. I leave the apartment with a purpose, thinking of a face that exists no where in this world. I have to get downtown to meet the guy. part 2 . . . The 4 train is running slow, some kind of long needed rehab is finally taking place. I stare at the people on the train, catching some staring back at me in turn. I compulsively order each of them in my mind according to career and relevant details. The guy in the bland suit, with the the too short pants works for a hedge fund. He is unhappy that morning because his wife forgot to wake him up when she left for work. The other guy has a nicer suit and a good tie. He's in sales. He is separated and has a girlfriend who lives out of town. The woman across from me is a student at Pace. She is worried about a test she has later that day. I go on until everyone has been neatly put into place. It's a mental exercise that distracts me from thinking about other, less pleasant things. As the train pulls toward 14th street a man in the station removes his Breguet watch, places it carefully on the the nearest bench, and walks slowly toward the edge of the platform. part 3 . . . It happens too fast for anyone to react. He just walks to the edge of the track and takes another step. Whatever sound his body makes on impact is inaudible, buried beneath high-pitched grind of the brakes as the train shudders to a stop. If there is blood no one sees any, nor is there a mark where the body hits.
but only as far as a kid from Nebraska can feel pressed. I think about the subway conductor. as if they are running late for some appointment or other. part 4 . I stare out the window at the sweaty peds.
. The watch is already gone. The host sounds irritated by something. Most of them looked pressed. The guy just sort of vanished from sight—like some tired magic trick. I read the driver's license posted on the plexiglass divider in front of me. When I read about the whole thing in the paper later I note that no one had seen the man's face." I fall into the guy next to me when the train stops short. Most of us wait our entire lives for people who never show up anyway. It's hot outside: The kind of heat that can only build up in New York City in mid-summer." she thinks. . Last name first. Manuel is listening to some sort of French talk show on the radio. . part 5 . The subway attendant hardly looks up from the pile of ones she is counting. I am going to be late now . Some kids dance around in excitement. or maybe that's just how he always sounds. The cab inches its way downtown in a typical glut of city traffic. Maybe he didn't even see him. . "Stupid people. and every trade wears our sharp edges down a little more until we can no longer cut through the life around us and escape through the hole we've made.The people on the platform look at each other as if to confirm that what they have just witnessed has actually happened. . even if he is a little annoyed that I am late. "Everyone's gotta be inconvenienced now. even success. There must be a mess somewhere but none of us see anything. I am pressed for time. . perhaps he was looking down at his own watch and just heard the sound of steel and flesh coming together. I hop in a cab and read the address to the driver . and what sort of look flashed across his face when he saw the guy walk off the platform. Everything comes with a price. . . probably before the body hit the train: In some kid's pocket out on the street by now. I decide to go with the assumption that he is irritated. Men in expensive dark suits pull sticky collars off of their necks and think wistfully of their younger days on beaches along the Jersey Shore. The guy will still be there. It seems a safe bet: If he had no conflict there would be little reason for him to pontificate over the airwaves. A woman holds her hand over her mouth. just that something is wrong. We don't know what is happening. By the time they get us off the train the police are already there. Pascal Manuel. Air conditioners drip endlessly and push stuffy air into the streets. . It's hard to tell when you can't understand the language.
" His response seems to indicate that he disagrees with my assessment . "This is good. . years ago.I came to the conclusion. I plan on grabbing the W." I make my way south down Bowery. resolution is a tough go: Entropy is always present. Angry drivers are leaning out windows and
. . so I am left wanting." the cab driver pulls to the corner still muttering into his phone and I push a ten into his palm. She is not of this world. I would call at this point had I bothered to save his number: It was a careless of me not to bother. I do not have a chance to see her eyes before she turns a corner. I step over the back wheel of his bike onto the sidewalk and leave him with a "You'll live. I open the door at the same moment that a bike messenger decides to take a shortcut between my cab and the sidewalk. The eyes are everything in trying to figure out motive. part 7 . I become conscious of an erratic movement on the sidewalk to my right." I look at him a little sideways and can't help but smile. As I listen to the driver mutter endlessly into his cell phone. I figure I can walk about as fast as the cab is moving and I am beginning to get impatient with the traffic. I stare at the messenger for a calculated moment before responding. "HEY. but because I really don't believe it is in his best interest to bother. . . I stop and stare at shopping cart lady. Canal street—time to head west. FUCK YOU!" I'm not in the mood to bite . I turn my head to see a woman with a shopping cart ramming a path through the crowd. I should kick your ass. It has been bobbling in the corner of my eye for a moment. I make it about two blocks when I notice the woman with the shopping cart pushing her way through traffic on Canal. and therefore does not feel obliged to follow its social customs. not because I don't think he has a chance of said asskicking. . that communication is nothing but a series of little conflicts that can only hope to be resolved by the conscious goodwill of the involved parties. we don't stand a chance. ready to bring down a house over the most irrelevant misunderstanding. Even then. "That's not even a lane man. but I am careless sometimes. "Fuck you bitch. Without a good deal of luck. weaving around slower peds. part 6 . She bullies her way along the sidewalk leaving a bruised and irritated public in her wake. It will get me there sooner than walking. with the best of intentions and a practiced patience. and try to guess how irritated the guy will be when I finally arrive. . . I'll get out here. .
Most likely she has worn braces as a kid. No luck. or you might find yourself an exile. I go over and gather her things. put the cart upright. . straight. You might be rewarded for your honesty and insight.screaming at her. but of course I am not done. It is lying on canal with it's contents half spilled out. I want to focus on the lady. but she makes no sound. At this point I would have to call it a draw. Her cart has rattled off into the intersection and flipped over onto its side. If she had waited another 5 seconds she would have gotten the walk sign. hoping that she will nod when I find what she is looking for—if she is looking for anything at all. maybe 30. I have gone too far on more than one occasion. I'm not sure what I expect to find. He has the green light. Going too far in life is the biggest gamble. and I am still uncertain as to whether I have gained or lost for my efforts. Her teeth are nice. . I dial 911 and tell them the situation and intersection. threatening. Her mouth is moving. I wait for the light to change and cross over to her side. packing bags in the middle of the night. something a little magical. They try to keep me on the phone but I hang up. She has obviously gone too far and I want to know what has freed her. She just stares blankly at us as we stare at her. and not unattractive—dirty. . and roll it near her. cold eyes. The driver jumps out of the truck looking more pissed off than worried. I stare at her eyes. Shopping cart lady is tricky to follow—I slip into her broken wake and try to keep pace. they are of the palest blue—eerie. but that we follow on social custom. or perhaps she figures it will give way: She is jammed under the front bumper when I catch up to her. or expelled her as the case may be. . If she is in pain she makes no indication. I really just want one good look at her face. something that might comfort her. She is young. Everyone comes from somewhere and I am curious. or something that will help explain why this woman exists as she does . she just stares blankly at each item as I hold it up. but running over pedestrians is always a touchy legal affair. yes. I want to reach down and touch her hand but there is a loud guy yelling at us to keep back: The old "give her air" theory that no one can prove works. He and a few of us stand over the lady to assess the situation. but in her mind she must figure that she has earned the right of way indefinitely. I pull my eyes away from hers and look over at the cart. She points to the cart and her mouth moves. Shopping cart lady doesn't see the truck. There is hidden treasure out there and I have every intention of unearthing it even if I have to break some irrelevant set of rules. I can hear the sirens now .
. She has pushed her way across Canal and is back on the sidewalk now—plowing a jagged path through the sweaty crowd. I point at different items in the cart.
and yet so few leave any sort of impression. exchanged in hollow breaths of a long-stoked malice and practiced self-loathing. We hope that what is left benefits us. ingrained. . lost in thoughts of shopping cart lady and her cold blue eyes. probably in good shape for his age. I make my way north looking for the address and wonder what the guy looks like. . I get off at Whitehall and pull the guy's business card out of my pocket. So many people come in and out of our lives. He sounded a little squeaky on the phone. and no gaping puncture to nurse. Part 8 ." The security guard looks up from his magazine and points toward the elevator. . One Whitehall Street: It is a short glass building. I picture him on the short side. His face is flushed purple and he is sweating profusely through his shirt. I thought to myself as it came to an end. a closed circuit. What sort of collisions has shopping cart lady endured in her life. slowly focusing on the physical presence of hate hovering between us. I have recently experienced a different kind of collision. Eyes grown wide. thousands of them. some learned knowledge or acquired trait that gets us one step closer to where we want to be. I walk west. "Hi. In the most rare and special cases they collide into us with such force that they leave a part of themselves with us. She seems so removed from this world. I walk down the steps into the blistering heat of the subway hoping that the train will be waiting for me. One Whitehall street. I nod at him and make a comment about the heat. and probably balding. "Fourteenth floor. Perhaps people have just bounced off her.The cops are here now—the sirens and the noise. and she has gone through life untouched. Something from nothing leaves nothing. leaving no trace. I'm here to see Ken Birkman. this is a dangerous mistake. Nothing of value left behind. it's pulling up as I pass through the turnstile. Too far gone. He wipes his face nods back in agreement." His eyes drop quickly back to his
. Just a slow draining of vitality and muddling of instincts. one of those types you find in the city that look as if they were designed to be taller than they ended up—a skyscraper with a thyroid condition. I sit down across from a businessman who looks as if he is about to have a heart attack. one that fell in to neither category. I wonder. Sometimes though the collision leaves nothing but a jagged hole— a painful setback and a reminder that people are not as generous or kind as we had hoped. The touch of cold words. right hand elevator. I get lucky. I wander away from the scene with less information than I had hoped to get. . part 9 .
it's a nice office." As I ride the elevator I notice that there is no thirteenth floor. I believe that you should assume you are going to win the race before it starts and you should say it out loud to anyone within earshot. Once I'm done looking around I begin to notice that there is something strange happening. I sit down and flip through a magazine. You can't. "Oh. . "No.magazine. trying to make out the conversation. I smile. . I'm a little late. In about five minutes the receptionist comes out. had some trouble with the subway. it doesn't matter that I'm late." She looks exasperated. something happened. I wonder who will take the guy's place. The doors open right away—the car has not moved since I got off. I am the person in the car who says "it's great that we haven't seen any cops out here. but I find it charming how many others are. "Mr. I turn and walk slowly toward the elevator. I stare at her back until she disappears through a doorway. There is no one at the reception desk and I can hear a panicked sounding conversation coming from somewhere down the hall. She doesn't notice me at first. "I can reschedule with him. She heads to her phone and starts dialing before she sees me. . He's dead. I don't believe in jinxes.
." when the driver is doing 85 with a beer in his lap. As I ride down to the lobby. I am not a superstitious person. Fourteenth floor. I'm here to see Ken Birkman. something about cars." I get up from the chair." My first reaction is relief. she looks back down the hallway before responding. . "Hi. I figure I've gotten lucky." She turns away and walks back down the hallway. There was an accident . "Thanks. At some point I think I just started saying things like that to get a reaction out of people. tasteful." She is distracted. Birkman isn't in . sorry to hear that. There are real plants in the corners of the reception area and real art hanging on the walls. Motor Trend perhaps—Sleek expensive toys that rich men play with and poor men daydream about.