Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The crowd is on its feet—the hats and the veils and the kerchiefs like flags in their hands. William fits his hand over his eyes to block the sun and looks to the tugs behind the rope lines, the crowds along the bridge, the carriages that have pulled up short along the river’s west bank. There’s not an empty back of granite in the cliffs, not an empty square in the stands, and when the holler goes out, Francis leans in close.
“Schmitt’s got the lead,” he says.
The sculls cut the river’s blue. They turn the bend, and the roar builds; the roar is a mighty wallop of sound as Schmitt and Street and Brossman and Lavens dig the river hard—Schmitt ahead and every single person yelling, every hand pumping the flag of something white or red or yellow or blue, so that it seems to William that an entire nation of birds has swooped in and is testing its plentiful wings. Francis yells loud as the best of them. He throws his broad, white hand to the sky like the finest bird of all, and now, beneath the Girard Avenue Bridge, Brossman and Street mangle their oars into each other's, and the crowd calls out, “Foul! Foul!”