|Eddie carelessly threw the 3 bucks on the counter and whistled as he walked out with the magizine under his arm. It was about noon. At that same moment, Alice was walking deliberately up the broad stone steps of the church. It was still a few minutes short of the twelve o'clock rendezvous as Gus waited in the doorway of the smoke shop---each second an agony of desire, each moment a vile eternity until the sweet hour of deliverance when his pasied hands would exchange the crushed one hundred dollar bill for a small package of cocaine.|
It was about that time Joe bought a drink for the house at the Horse Shoe Saloon; around the same time, too, that Nellie was walking up to the ticket window at the Savoy. It was almost noon and, as everybody knows, the world is very busy at that time. There are so many things that people must do, women must wash clothes, farmers must plant fields, carpenders cut boards, engineers draw plans, laborers dig ditches, there are a million things that must be done everyday to maintain life on a rational basis, and most of these things are being done as a matter of course at noon.
When certain individuals pause in the course of there normal functions and attempt to escape from the realities of life, they do not realize it, perhaps, but the world stops for them. Change is constant but it will always change with an objective. So that when a ditch digger pauses in his work to wipe the sweat from his brow and sits down to a cold beer, nothing happens. Life remains the same. The ditch will be dug; the laborer will return to his work.
The objective will be accomplished. But when the ditch digger looks to the sky; when he realizes that the way is not barred to him should he decide to climb the ramp to a smoother highway; when he begins to day dream and to see himself in a dinner suit and with the leisure hours and pleasures, there is an evolution that the world had contemplated. There is a jar at its axis. There is cessation. The ditch has been left undug. There must be new thought; an other code; a new conception of ethics. And the burden of life, which someone must always bear, it is to be shifted to other shoulders.
These thoughts did not occur to Eddie as he started to read his magazine. He was improving his mind. He was not rejecting the realities of existence but accepting them. He would in truth, make things easier for people. And Gus , as he feverishly tore the paper from his little package..... What did his battered hulk matter to the world? Driftwood, cluttering up the passages, getting in the way of real traffic.... he wouldn't hold up the world. And Joe, as he held up his glass, and Nelly, as she breathed with rapture in the balcony. What could philosophical mysteries signify to people such as these? They responded to inpulses; they obeyed desires; they lived for the moment, and the minute beyond.
For is man commanded to dig tunnels in the sand, like blind ants, which the laughing winds shall blow away? Or must he be his own provider and, therefore, his own guide and should he seek, then, that which his eyes tell him is lovely and which mouth tells him is sweet? But even humans know the answers to there own problems. And Alice, as she knelt and clasped her hands, walked up the ramp, too, and saw the beautiful highway and yearned for the horizon where the mortal road ended in the glory of the sun and the sky.
Eddie, who would use his brain; Gus, whos life was agony; Joe, who wanted to forget in any way he could; Nellie who wanted only simple pleasures, they all discovered the means of climbing the ramp, of finding a moment of relief in a day of care, Peace, comfort, surcease from bodily pain and ills, freedom from earthly worry, happiness eternel, they all saw the glorious highway in those fleeting glimpses. But only Alice, among them knew the simple truth: they would never walk it on mortal legs.