My choices were (a) aimlessly to go walking the night-time streets and boulevards of Cancerland, or (b) go back to my quarters to scratch out another of these dispatches to cast upon the waters in a bottle. I actually chose (a) but was forced back to my quarters by the Hallelujah Man.
I hate myself for hating him, but that is what it has come to.
I did not hate him at first. At first I thought him interesting, and deserving of my love and sympathy because visibly and audibly God-drunk. He is sweet-seeming (till he opens his mouth), a Caribbean black by the looks of him, who wears a white suit and Panama hat in the summer and a dark suit and fedora in winter, and has in all seasons a heavy satchel on his shoulder, full of pamphlets, one of which he holds perpetually in front of him like a shield as he walks, while bellowing — bellowing! — Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God loves you! Hallelujah! God loves you! Believe it! Believe it! Hallelujah!
He does this for hours, late in the evening, while going forward at a processional pace, so that it takes him a very long time to make any progress at all. As a result, if you are anywhere nearby, you can hear him long into the night: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! He speaks every syllable of that word, with exactly equal emphasis: Ha lay loo yah! Ha lay loo yah! God loves you! Believe it! Believe it! This is all he says, ever, over and over and over again. He approaches no one, engages no one, no one approaches him, he only just goes slowly forward like a clockwork thing, screaming in a night-ripping voice Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Believe it! while pushing on, canted forward as if wading through chest-deep water. I have seen him in Upper Cancerland, and then, having myself travelled a good distance south on Cancerland Public Transport, seen him again directly upon emerging from the metro, though there has not been time for him to wade all that way on the surface. I don’t know how he does it.
Anyway, I could not go on my own evening walk with that voice in my ear, that booming hammer-on-an-anvil voice, that goddamn voice with which he assaults all the rest of us for half the night with his God-drunk keening.
So I came back to my quarters, to hate myself in writing for hating him.
Which I do, sorry to say.
Believe it! Believe it!