William Gay: Time Done Been Won't Be No More

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William Gay Time Done Been Won't Be No More
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    Time Done Been Won't Be No More
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    wild dog press
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    Современная проза / на английском языке
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Time Done Been Won't Be No More: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Time Done Been Won't Be No More: Collected Prose by William Gay is a collection of short stories, essays, memoirs and an interview. William Gay is well known for his fiction but he is also widely published with his essays, mostly dealing with music, and his memoirs. This is the first collection that includes his nonfiction prose. The elegant use of language that his readers have come to expect is as evident in his collected prose as it is in his novels.

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William Gay

Time Done Been Won't Be No More



HIS DREAMS WERE SERENE PASTORAL images, white picket fences, old log barns silver in the moonlight. An ornamental tin sun set high in the eaves of a farmhouse, tinstamped rays fanning upward. When the light subtly altered he saw that the pickets were stakes sharpened for impaling, something stirred in the strawstrewn hall of the barn, and there was a persistent ringing beyond the serrated treeline the illogic of dreams imbued with dread. Then he became aware of Beth’s leg flung across him in sleep, the smell of her hair, the ringing of the telephone, and he realized where he was, and that he wasn’t a child after all.

He wondered how many times it had rung. Here in these clockless hours past midnight.


It must have rung several for the voice was harsh and preemptory. I’ve got to have some help over here, she said.

What is it? He could hear the ragged hasp of her breathing.

I’m having some kind of attack. A heart attack.

All right. I’m on my way.

He was fumbling for his shoes. He found one sock, the other seemed to have vanished. Beth arose and he heard her stumbling toward the bathroom. Water running. He gave up on the sock and was hauling on his pants.

Your grandmother?


Another heart attack.

He looked up. She was standing naked on the threshold of the bathroom, her face enigmatic in the dark bedroom, backlit by the bathroom light. Framed so against the yellow rectangle the light was a nimbus in her fair hair, and she seemed to be in flames.

Do you need me?

Stark and depthless against the light she looked like erotic statuary. Something in her hipslung posture lent her words an ambiguity he couldn’t deal with just now, everything about her lately seemed subject to various interpretations.

I’ll be back when I get back, he said. He slid his wallet and cigarettes into his pocket and went out.

He pushed the door back open. Lock the door, he told her, but she didn’t say if she would or she wouldn’t.

He drove out toward the farm, off the blacktop onto a cherted road so bowered by trees the moonlight couldn’t defray the darkness, the road descended like a tunnel of black velvet, like a cleft in the earth itself he was driving off into. A whippoorwill swept up in the headlights, dark wings enormous, eyes wild and red as blood. Mailboxes, sleeping watch dogs, darkened houses shuttered against the night. Then the row of cedars, the lit farmhouse beyond them.

She was in the bentwood rocker. She sat twisted in agony. Her head in her hands, her breathing a thin panting.

Do you need an ambulance?

I’ve called it already. It should have been here.

Well, he said. He couldn’t think of anything to say. It’d all been said before. Somewhere a clock ticked, a series of clocks deafening in the silence that stretched, stretched to a thin sharp wire. A tall grandfather clock whirred into life, gave three solemn and measured bongs.

I can’t breathe. I’ve got to have some oxygen. Why won’t they hurry up?

I think I hear them, he lied.

She was clutching her chest like a parody of agony. I’m on fire in here, she said. Behind the thick glasses her near colorless eyes were stricken, afraid. He felt a detached and impotent pity.

Is there anything I can do?

Get me a glass of orange juice. Maybe my sugar’s gone down, I’m having some kind of attack.

He took a carton from the refrigerator and poured a glass of juice. He carried it to her. When she had drunk from the glass, he asked, Are you feeling any better?

Maybe a little.

Are you sure you want to go to the hospital? It never accomplished anything before. I can hire a nurse. I can stay myself.

I’ve already called it, she said. Something has got to be done. I’m not putting up with this.

He went out onto the porch. Where the porchlight tended away the yard lay silver in the moonlight, it glittered as if viewed through a veil of ice. Beyond it lay darkness, a veritable wall of insect sounds. From the ebony trees nightbirds called, cries so lost and forlorn he wondered what the configurations of such birds might be. Far up the road he could hear the whoop of the ambulance. Closer now homing down the walls of night. Its lights pulsed against the bowering trees like heat lightning. He lit a cigarette and waited.

The ambulance backed to the edge of the porch. An attendant leapt out and threw open the rear door and hauled out a gurney. Everything seemed rehearsed, every movement preordained, they’d been here before. Déjà vu all over again, he thought.

She needs oxygen, he said.

The driver came around and helped with the gurney. The paramedic took out a chromium oxygen bottle, a mask appended by a thin transparent tube. They seemed to have divined something unsaid from his face for their movements had become less hurried, more studied. He held the door open and they went into the living room with the gurney.

She seemed reassured by such an authoritative presence. The paramedic was kneeling at her feet adjusting gauges. The other had immediately commenced monitoring blood pressure, heartbeat. She was reaching for the mask. He could hear a thin hissing. Here you go, Mrs. Wildman, the attendant said. You just relax now. She grasped the mask greedily the way a baby grasps its bottle, a drowning man a straw. As if the very essence of life itself had been distilled and concentrated in this chromium bottle, the ultimate spraycan.

They were already gently helping her onto the gurney, adjusting straps. Hand me my bag, she told Wildman. When he laid it beside her she clutched it possessively with a thin ravaged arm. They were rolling her through the doorway. I’ll see you early in the morning, he said. The door creaked to on its keeperspring. Gurney wheels skirling across the oak porch. After a moment the rear door of the ambulance closed. The ambulance pulled away, siren shrieking, parti-colored lights pulsing through the window, the wall across flickering in crimson neon. The wails grew faint and fainter and then he could hear whippoorwills calling one to the other.

Wildman sat in the room where he’d been a child. Where he’d crawled about the floors amongst his playthings. Images of himself at various ages adorned the walls, the table. He leant to study one. From across time the face seemed to be studying him back. Dark calm child with disaffected eyes. In the end time waylays you, he thought. It can outwait you, what does it care, it’s got you outnumbered. There is just so damn much of it.

The room was begarbed with knickknacks, geegaws and ceramic cats and statuary he couldn’t fathom the source of. They’d just accumulated with the years, so many years, had settled like dust motes out of time. Across the room a bookcase where she kept the highschool annuals. She’d been a teacher and she’d saved them all the way a traveler might save maps of places he’d been. Suddenly the room was claustrophobic, the walls were sliding inward on oiled tracks, he couldn’t breathe. He put his cigarette out in a coffee cup and arose and went out into the night. Where the moon was a washedout ghost of itself and the sky was already faint with rosecolored light, the day lying somewhere east of him.

She’s a hypochondriac, Beth said.

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