Book Excerpt: The Restored Edition
BY James Jones
June 21 2011 6:00 AM ET
“Shut up, Tommy,” Hal said narrowly. Prew swung on him. “If you guys like being queer, why don’t you be queer with each other? Instead of all a time trying to cut each other’s throat? If you believed that crap about true love you been putting out, why do you get your feelings hurt so easy? Somebody’s always hurtin’ your feelings. Why do you always pick up somebody who ain’t queer? Because if you’re with another queer, you don’t feel evil enough, that’s why.”
“Stop!” Hal said. “This quivering hulk of jelly can say whatever he wants to say. But I am none of these things. I stand as a rebel against society. I hate its falseness and I’ll never knuckle down to it. It takes courage to stand by what you believe.”
“I don’t like it very much myself,” Prew grinned. He could feel the warmness and the fumes, rising in his head, the urge, urge, urge, the smash, smash, smash, six o’clock, six o’clock, six o’clock. “It’s never done much for me, society. What has it given me? It ain’t done near as much for me as it has done for you. Look at this place, look at it.
“But I don’t hate it like you hate it. You hate it because you hate yourself. You ain’t rebelling against society, you’re rebelling against yourself. You ain’t rebelling against anything, you’re just rebelling.”
He stabbed at the tall man with his finger.
“And that’s why you’re like a priest. You got a gospel to preach. The true gospel. The only gospel. That’s all you got, a gospel. Don’t you know life don’t fit no gospels? Life makes gospels—afterwards. Gospels don’t make life. But you, you and all the fucking priests, you gunna make life fit your gospel. And nobody else’s. You wont even admit anything exists but what you say.”
He paused. The brightly lighted revelation was surging up now again, in his mind. He could see it. But how to say it? How to express? How to mold it and make it plain? Life was enough, in itself. All men should see life in itself was enough, was all, because it was there. Why did you climb the mountain, Mr Mallory? Because it was there. Life was there, it had been put there, for a purpose. That was enough. That was everything.
“If that’s courage,” he concluded lamely, subduedly, “maybe you got it, buddy. If that’s courage."