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IN BOMBAY / David Ray On the way back to the hotel that night a rat kept pace, turned the corner when I turned, beneath the palm, then paused just when I did, though I meant to let him go on, sniffing the wall. He looked back, waited, as if to offer what those of two legs had, opium and girls, "homosex," and black market money, disease no doubt, and naked dancers, and a good jazz band, "here from Holland." When I went on, he did too, waddling, a hairy well-fed rat, quite at home in his city of Bombay. He led me as if he were my pet, sniffed toward a family sleeping on the sidewalk, his choice of what to show me. The woman's arm sprawled across my path, as if she needed some injection from a doctor. She was lovely as a bride. Next to her, her husband was turned against the wall, and her naked child lay between them. The rat smelled her thumb. She sighed in sleep. I was impressed by how these sleepers trusted us, the rat and me, and all the others who would stroll by in the night. Next day a poet told me there's a wall across the beach, a kind of barricade behind which these pavement-dwellers go two by two to make their love, conjugal love allowed, like that in well-run prisons, on the sand in moonlight, police-patrolled, while the sea laps near with mournful music, eager to clean their bones. 84 ยท The Missouri Review ...


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