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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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Early Dusk

By Richard Avedon
Illustrated by James Plunkett

The Magpie, Spring 1940, v. 24, n. 2, p. 36.

BUT Freddie went over to the dock anyway, and Marge looked at him and thought. "Nothing will ever happen to Freddie. It's impossible. He's like a god that no water and no storm can kill." And he was like a god as he pushed the boat off, a bright god against the screaming spray.

* * * *

They found the boat rammed into Hedda Cliff. The sail was gone and the stem split wide, but they never found him.

* * * *

Marge is in the library, and she can hear the sea biting at the sand. She can feel the wind whipping against her cheek like the wind that must have cut against his: and she can touch his picture on the desk and see his book still resting on the arm of the chair, but she'll never hear, and never feel, and never touch him again, or see his slow walk. And she runs sobbing out of the house down to the dock and beats her hands on the salt soaked wood. And they say that Marge is going mad without him.

* * * *

Tad walked past the boathouse and stopped for a moment to light a cigarette. He watched the match choke and turn cold and he thought of Freddie. Funny how everyone loved that boy. When they were children, even in the midst of their worst fights, Tad would beat the stuffings out of anyone who had said the smallest word against Freddie. It was hard to believe that he was gone. Tad thought of how Freddie had sat behind the oak tree reading Green Mansions. He worshiped the book and read it for endless hours, stopping only when a leaf fell from an overhanging branch onto his page. A pair of long grey flannels, a book, and a crop of soft red hair—that was Freddie. And Tad bit his lip and crushed the match to pieces and walked on towards the house.

* * * *

Mrs. Hornel sat on the edge of her bed and thought of her son. Thought of the day he was born, and how she had looked at him and smiled and said, "I'll call him Fred, Fred Hornel, because it sounds like life and music—Fred, Fred, Freddie," and she cried bitter tears from her overflowing heart. He was life for her. She lived for him. And she thought of the time that his girl, Ann, had eloped with a fellow at school and how he came to her with a sick, hurt look in his eyes and cried like a baby on her lap. Mrs. Hornel walked to her dressing table to look at a picture of her son. Her clenched hand accidentally tore the string of pearls he had given her. She gasped as she saw them roll to the corner of the room and then she cried bitter tears from her shattered heart.

* * * *

But Freddie went over to the dock anyway, and he pushed the boat off and let it slip out onto the maddened waters. He headed for Horn Island, with the cruel wind slapping at his face.—And he wouldn't go to them again. All his life there had always been someone—someone to lean on—someone to stand behind, someone to cry to. First it was mother and Tad and then Marge; but he wouldn't be weak again. He swore it. When he was younger he used to cry on his mother's lap, and then would go back to his room and hate himself for his weakness. He used to tell Tad how a fellow at school had torn his shirt, and Tad would fight his battle for him while he sat in his room loathing and loathing himself for his damned weakness. But he'd never be weak again and he swore it, as he guided his boat toward the cliff. And his red hair shone like a flame against the green sea, and he shut his eyes.

* * * *

They found the boat rammed into Hedda Cliff, the main sail gone and the stern split wide, but they never found him.




The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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