Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Turncoats

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Turncoats

Article excerpt

Between them the bums can speak and/or understand Turkish, French, Erse, Japanese, Latin, American, Javanese, German, British, Italian, Hebrew, Dutch, Spanish, Yiddish, and even Ladino, that lovely little language which the Sephardim invented after they were kicked out of Spain a few times ago.

But none of these has worked. The bums are lost in a big city, and no one has any idea what they are trying to say, it's a bad dream.

They make a hand gesture which they believe is the international sign for being lost, for distress, but from every person in this city to whom they perform this gesture all they get in return is the bite of the thumb, a gesture they do not understand a fig.

It is not understand a fig.

What is then, Schmartie?

It's give a fig.

What does it mean?


The old bums are lost, they are lost and tired. They are lost and tired and hungry. They are lost and hungry and thirsty and tired.

Fooled you, didn't I?


Fooled you, didn't I?

You just said that.

You expected a certain order based on expectation in the last run of sentences, didn't you? I'm tired.

I am tired and thirsty.

We're lost.

The bums sit on a bench. What a lovely city, a small city somewhere, it looks like the western Argentine. What a lovely city, a small city somewhere in the Argentine, or in the Crimea, or in the Persian Alps. …

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