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White Noise - A Novel by Don DeLillo

White Noise - A Novel by Don DeLillo

Author:Don DeLillo [DeLillo, Don]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: prose_contemporary
Published: 2011-03-21T01:33:23+00:00


III Dylarama

22

The supermarket is full of elderly people who look lost among the dazzling hedgerows. Some people are too small to reach the upper shelves; some people block the aisles with their carts; some are clumsy and slow to react; some are forgetful, some confused; some move about muttering with the wary look of people in institutional corridors.

I pushed my cart along the aisle. Wilder sat inside, on the collapsible shelf, trying to grab items whose shape and radiance excited his system of sensory analysis. There were two new developments in the supermarket, a butcher's corner and a bakery, and the oven aroma of bread and cake combined with the sight of a bloodstained man pounding at strips of living veal was pretty exciting for us all.

"Dristan Ultra, Dristan Ultra."

The other excitement was the snow. Heavy snow predicted, later today or tonight. It brought out the crowds, those who feared the roads would soon be impassable, those too old to walk safely in snow and ice, those who thought the storm would isolate them in their homes for days or weeks. Older people in particular were susceptible to news of impending calamity as it was forecast on TV by grave men standing before digital radar maps or pulsing photographs of the planet. Whipped into a frenzy, they hurried to the supermarket to stock up before the weather mass moved in. Snow watch, said the forecasters. Snow alert. Snowplows. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain. It was already snowing in the west. It was already moving to the east. They gripped this news like a pygmy skull. Snow showers. Snow flurries. Snow warnings. Driving snow. Blowing snow. Deep and drifting snow. Accumulations, devastations. The old people shopped in a panic. When TV didn't fill them with rage, it scared them half to death. They whispered to each other in the checkout lines. Traveler's advisory, zero visibility. When does it hit? How many inches? How many days? They became secretive, shifty, appeared to withhold the latest and worst news from others; appeared to blend a cunning with their haste, tried to hurry out before someone questioned the extent of their purchases. Hoarders in a war. Greedy, guilty.

I saw Murray in the generic food area, carrying a Teflon skillet. I stopped to watch him for a while. He talked to four or five people, occasionally pausing to scrawl some notes in a spiral book. He managed to write with the skillet wedged awkwardly under his arm.

Wilder called out to him, a tree-top screech, and I wheeled the cart over.

"How is that good woman of yours?"

"Fine," I said.

"Does this kid talk yet?"

"Now and then. He likes to pick his spots."

"You know that matter you helped me with? The Elvis Presley power struggle?"

"Sure. I came in and lectured."

"It turns out, tragically, that I would have won anyway."

"What happened?"

"Cotsakis, my rival, is no longer among the living."

"What does that mean?"

"It means he's dead."

"Dead?"

"Lost in the surf off Malibu. During the term break. I found out an hour ago.



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