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87 Ron Overton 26. While touring the studios of the TV network, a woman in a flowery hat is shocked. "This is where we produce our quality dramas," the guide notes. But beyond the glass you can see a woman in a filmy gown you can see right through. Not even a gown, more like a tunic, because it leaves several important places uncovered. "This is our special program on life in Roman times," the guide adds, moving the group to a cross-section model of a TV demonstrating how broadcasting in color is achieved. The woman is concerned. She has heard more rumors this morning on the radio about the dangers of synthetic vitamins. It's hard these days to know what to believe. There was a frontpage story of a boy trapped in a well. As it turned out, he had devised a way to lower himself in a bucket using a clever arrangement of ropes and pullies. A plight that arrested her mood and even drew a tear from her eye ended up being a science project. They are walking through corridors of a peculiar green. Experiments and surveys indicate that such a color is best for putting people at ease. Outside one of the doors there is a flashing ON THE AIR sign. She thinks of the air full of swarming signals. She thinks of the nearly naked actress swimming out now on the air, her tunic fluttering off, her limbs dissolving, her breasts ballooning away, bits and pieces of her scattering across the continent, dispersing like smoke from a gangster's cigar. 74. It's a hot hardboiled May Friday night, and the traffic half a mile away seethes and slurs like trouble barely expressing itself. The star directly over the house has hung there all week, the only steadfast thing. Even the new leaves are restless, lightly applauding, impatient, wanting more action. There's a pulse to the 88 the minnesota review night—a dog yaps, a car door slams, then the laughter of beer. It's cologne and perfume, the thump of a car radio at a red light, the bass turned up, air rich with exhaust, the wail of a Mustang peeling out. They still peel out of here, the V-8 is still the standard, bored and stroked this week after work with a meticulous eye you wouldn't waste on your job, and the beat is a piston, now let loose on the street, now slamming up and down, precise and hard, like the hammer against the phone book against the junkie's muddled head. 56. The train moves across the nightscape, a delirious snake curling and straightening, wrapping around harbors, plunging through mountains, a kind of dumb life narrowed to the one idea of destination. It is indifferent to what passes—smug billboard grins, gutted hotrods, barmaids asleep, squalling infants getting teeth, burning eye of owl and lynx, cascade of moonlight among vines, shadows stumbling home.... It goes past, a trance of pure motion—not hearing the voice of the dead father, not seeing the honeysuckle retake the field. Its only dream is the dream of getting there. What it rides on are called sleepers. ...


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pp. 87-88
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