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jowls of a giant, loose, Friday-evening-crowd of one hundred steel workers, spending the lid off of the wages they had just been paid at the town's mill before bringing the rest home to their old women.

Emmett walked through the front door first, and the laughing, yelling, loud-talking, bulk-muscled, short-sleeved, polo-shirted, white workmen fell into a stone-faced silence the instant they saw him and his long hair hanging below the shoulders of the canvas, Rain-tite jacket he always wore. The silence grew louder and colder as each of his brothers stepped inside behind him and followed him the thirty or so feet past a pair of pocket pool tables toward the long, walnut bar along the back wall, where room was quietly made for them by men who were standing with their feet on the rail.

As he moved forward, Emmett could see that none of the seventy or eighty tables in the place was empty, and his quick glance also told him that the burning sensation he felt flushing at the base of his neck was the glare of the one hundred or so pairs of clean, midwestern eyes seated in the jungle of chairs around those tables, deadpanning their shaggy clothes and two-day auto grime. When he got to the bar the bartender was waiting, and the man seemed a little frightened about what Emmett guessed he figured was going to happen after the silence broke. "He must be the owner, and that's why he's worryin'. He don't care nothin' 'bout us, it's only the damage to his place that he's feelin' anxious 'bout," thought Emmett, as he looked into the man's eyes and ordered what they had been drinking for the past two days on the road. "Four double Four Roses rye whiskies 'n four bottles of Budweiser beer, please."

No one moved except the man behind the bar, as he set up the order and asked with his voice cracking if there'd be anything else. The menu vvas written in chalk on a blackboard above the bar, and Emmett glanced at his brothers about what they were going to eat, and back up at the board, then down again into the worried ovvnerbartender's face that was all rosy pink from capillaries broken by booze and said clearly, "Four hot beef stews 'n plenty of bread and butter, please." Emmett calmly tucked the corner of a twenty-dollar bill under his still-full bottle of beer, so the man could see that no matter what might go down, he would get paid.

Whispers began to break through the quiet, and as they grew louder the men closest to the four of them returned to whatever they'd been talking about, minding their own business. The jokes about beatniks and hippies quickly followed, but never loud enough to become a challenge, and the laughter came back into the strong [end page 387]


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