Miss Lonelyhearts and the Cripple
As I write in ALIVE INSIDE THE WRECK: "For eveyone there is an El Centro--a last moment, a last place." N West's El Centro, his last place, is pictured here.
"Miss Lonelyhearts dodged Betty because she made him feel ridiculous. He was still trying to cling to his humility, and the further he got below self-laughter, the easier it was for him to practice it."
"Before Miss Lonelyhearts could reply, he beckoned to someone standing at the other of the bar. The signal was answered by a little cripple, who immediately started in their direction. He used a cane and dragged one of his feet behind him in a box-shaped shoe with a four-inch sole. As he hobbled along, he made many waste motions, like those of a partially destroyed insect."
"Oh, I forgot," Doyle said, "the wife asked me, if I bumped into you, to ask you to our house to eat. That's why I made Jake introduce us."
"Miss Lonelyhearts was busy with his smile and accepted without thinking of the evening he spent with Mrs. Doyle."
"The cripple had a very strange face. His eyes failed to balance; his mouth was not under his nose; his forehead was square and boney; and his round chin was like a forehead in minature. He looked like one of those composite photographs used by screen magazine in guessing contests."
Doyle gives Miss L a letter to read, his own cry for advice. It includes..."...I want to no what is this business for."
"While Miss Lonelyhearts was puzzling out the crabbed writing, Doyle's damp hand accidentally touched his under table. He jerked away, but then drove his hand back and forced it to clasp the cripple's. After finishing the letter, he did not let go, but pressed it firmly with all the love he could manage. At first the cripple covered his embarrassment by disguising the meaning of the clasp with a handshake, but he soon gave in to it and they sat silently hand in hand."