Come to the War by Leslie Thomas

By Leslie Thomas

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I did not talk to him about it because just then I did not want to. In any case I was fascinated by that silver ribbon of street. It was like all avenues of the world, all the warm streets I had ever known; Paris, Rome, Budapest, Rio, brimming with sounds and moving people. Eventually, as we drove, the lights dimmed and decreased, almost as they do in an auditorium, and then it was quieter and the tepid air that came into us turned dark; we left the resounding street behind and drove away from the city.

He sniffed but did not retaliate. ' I got in after them, and in the confined cubicle of the lift found myself segregated from them once again by the broad face of the mirror. ' one of the invisible men called to me from the other side of the glass. The button panel was on their side. 'Five,' I answered. ' We stopped at five but I could not get out. The mirror was at an angle in the doorway and I could not squeeze by. I did not call over to them because I can be very reasonable at times and I thought it was best to wait until they had taken the mirror out at their required floor and then I would go back down to five.

There were many people in opened shirts; people with brown necks and moving faces. And among all these a few men and women in fine, formal evening dress. They made a collective noise like all the hens of hell. From behind the curtains their voices came at me; hundreds all talking at the same time, shaking hands and recognizing friends and calling to them, settling themselves down and then theatrically getting up to attract somebody else. It looked more like a market than a concert hall. When the orchestra went out the people applauded; they cheered and jumped like children.

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