Those Left Behind

She thought of other, immobilized freight cars, where the kids sat on the floor planking and sang back, happy as fat, whatever came over the mother’s pocket radio; of other squatters who stretched canvas for lean-tos behind smiling billboards along all the highways, or slept in junkyards in the stripped shells of wrecked Plymouths, or even, daring, spent the night up some pole in a lineman’s tent like caterpillars, swung among a web of telephone wires, living in the very copper rigging and secular miracle of communication, untroubled by the dumb voltages flick­ering their miles, the night long, in the thousands of unheard messages. She remembered drifters she had listened to, Americans speaking their language care­fully, scholarly, as if they were in exile from some­where else invisible yet congruent with the cheered land she lived in; and walkers along the roads at night, zooming in and out of your headlights without looking up, too far from any town to have a real destination. And the voices before and after the dead man’s that had phoned at random during the darkest, slowest hours, searching ceaseless among the dial’s ten million possibilities for that magical Other who would reveal herself out of the roar of relays, monotone lit­anies of insult, filth, fantasy, love whose brute repeti­tion must someday call into being the trigger for the unnamable act, the recognition, the Word.

Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

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