T. C. Boyle (b. 1948, Peekskill, New York, USA)

Written by T. C. Boyle

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The Tortilla Curtain, 1995

"Can I help you?" Delaney breathed, gesturing futilely, wondering whether to reach down a hand or not — should he be moved? Could he? "I mean, I’m sorry, I — why did you run out like that? What possessed you? Didn’t you see me?"

Flies hovered in the air. The canyon stretched out before them, slabs of upthrust stone and weathered tumbles of rock, light and shadow at war. The man tried to collect himself. He kicked out his legs like an insect pinned to a mounting board, and then his eyes seemed to sharpen, and with a groan he struggled to a sitting position. He said something then in a foreign language, a gargle and rattle in the throat, and Delaney didn’t know what to do.

It wasn’t French he was speaking, that was for sure. And it wasn’t Norwegian. The United States didn’t share a two-thousand-mile border with France — or with Norway either. The man was Mexican, Hispanic, that’s what he was, and he was speaking Spanish, a hot crazed drumroll of a language to which Delaney’s four years of high-school French gave him little access. "Docteur?" he tried.


© 1995 T. C. Boyle; New York: Viking Press

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