He is a small, dark, intense looking boy with hooded dark brown eyes and olive-sallow skin. He has a sharp nose with a bright red pimple.
Before joining the long walk, Gary didn't have any friends in high school. In fact, most people disliked him and he even carried a switch blade for protection.
Garraty turned his head. It was a small dark, intense-looking boy with the number 5 pressed to the collar of his jacket. Garraty couldn't remember his name. "Concentration?" he said.
"Yes." The boy moved up beside Garraty. "The Major has said it is very important to concentrate on calmness at the beginning of a Long Walk." He pressed his thumb reflectively against the end of his rather sharp nose. There was a bright red pimple there. "I agree. Excitement, crowds, TV later. Right now all we need to do is focus." He stared at Garraty with his hooded dark brown eyes and said it again. "Focus."
"All I'm focusing on is pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down," Olson said.
5 looked insulted. "You have to pace yourself. You have to focus on yourself. You have to have a Plan. I'm Gary Barkovitch, by the way. My home is Washington, D.C."
"I'm John Carter," Olson said. "My home is Barsoom, Mars."
Barkovitch curled his lip in contempt and dropped back.
"There's one cuckoo in every clock, I guess," Olson said.
But Garraty thought Barkovitch was thinking pretty clearly-at least until one of the guards called out "Warning! Warning 5!" about five minutes later.
"I've got a stone in my shoe!" Barkovitch said waspishly.
The soldier didn't reply. He dropped off the halftrack and stood on the shoulder of the road opposite Barkovitch. In his hand he held a stainless steel chronometer just like the Major's. Barkovitch stopped completely and took off his shoe. He shook a tiny pebble out of it. Dark, intense, his olive-sallow face shiny with sweat, he paid no attention when the soldier called out, "Second warning, 5." Instead, he smoothed his sock carefully over the arch of his foot.
"Oh-oh," Olson said. They had all turned around and were walking backward.
Stebbins, still at the tag end, walked past Barkovitch without looking at him. Now Barkovitch was all alone, slightly to the right of the white line, retying his shoe.
"Third warning, 5. Final warning."
There was something in Garraty's belly that felt like a sticky ball of mucus. He didn't want to look, but he couldn't look away. He wasn't conserving energy whenever possible by walking backward, but he couldn't help that, either. He could almost feel Barkovitch's seconds shriveling away to nothing.
"Oh, boy," Olson said. "That dumb shit, he's gonna get his ticket."
But then Barkovitch was up. He paused to brush some road dirt from the knees of his pants. Then he broke into a trot, caught up with the group, and settled back into his walking pace. He passed Stebbins, who still didn't look at him, and caught up with Olson.
He grinned, brown eyes glittering. "See? I just got myself a rest. It's all in my Plan."
"Maybe you think so," Olson said, his voice higher than usual. "All I see that you got is three warnings. For your lousy minute and a half you got to walk three... fu**ing... hours. And why in hell did you need a rest? We just started, for Chrissake!"
Barkovitch looked insulted. His eyes burned at Olson. "We'll see who gets his ticket first, you or me," he said. "It's all in my Plan."
"Your Plan and the stuff that comes out of my as**ole bear a suspicious resemblance to each other," Olson said, and Baker chuckled.
With a snort, Barkovitch strode past them.
Olson couldn't resist a parting shot. "Just don't stumble, buddy. They don't warn you again. They just..."
Barkovitch didn't even look back and Olson gave up, disgusted.
At thirteen past nine by Garraty's watch (he had taken the trouble to set it back the one minute), the Major's jeep breasted the hill they had just started down. He came past them on the shoulder opposite the pacing halftrack and raised a battery-powered loudhailer to his lips.
"I'm pleased to announce that you have finished the first mile of your journey, boys. I'd also like to remind you that the longest distance a full complement of Walkers has ever covered is seven and three-quarters miles. I'm hoping you'll better that."
The jeep spurted ahead. Olson appeared to be considering this news with startled, even fearful, wonder. Not even eight miles, Garraty thought. It wasn't nearly as far as he would have guessed. He hadn't expected anyone-not even Stebbins to get a ticket until late afternoon at least. He thought of Barkovitch. All he had to do was fall below speed once in the next hour.
"Ray?" It was Art Baker. He had taken off his coat and slung it over one arm. "Any particular reason you came on the Long Walk?"
Garraty unclipped his canteen and had a quick swallow of water. It was cool and good. It left beads of moisture on his upper lip and he licked them off. It was good, good to feel things like that.
"I don't really know," he said truthfully.
"Me either." Baker thought for a moment. "Did you go out for track or anything? In school?"
"Me either. But I guess it don't matter, does it? Not now."
"No, not now," Garraty asked.
Conversation lulled. They passed through a small village with a country store and a gas station. Two old men sat on folding lawn-chairs outside the gas station, watching them with hooded and reptilian old men's eyes. On the steps of the country store, a young woman held up her tiny son so he could see them. And a couple of older kids, around twelve, Garraty judged, watched them out of sight wistfully.
Some of the boys began to speculate about how much ground they had covered. The word came back that a second pacer halftrack had been dispatched to cover the half a dozen boys in the vanguard... they were now completely out of sight. Someone said they were doing seven miles an hour. Someone else said it was ten. Someone told them authoritatively that a guy up ahead was flagging and had been warned twice. Garraty wondered why they weren't catching up to him if that was true.
Olson finished the Waifa chocolate bar he had started back at the border and drank some water. Some of the others were also eating, but Garraty decided to wait until he was really hungry. He had heard the concentrates were quite good. The astronauts got them when they went into space.
A little after ten o'clock, they passed a sign that said LIMESTONE 10 MI. Garraty thought about the only Long Walk his father had ever let him go to. They went to Freeport and watched them walk through. His mother had been with them. The Walkers were tired and hollow-eyed and barely conscious of the cheering and the waving signs and the constant hoorah as people cheered on their favorites and those on whom they had wagered. His father told him later that day that people lined the roads from Bangor on. Up-country it wasn't so interesting, and the road was strictly cordoned off-maybe so they could concentrate on being calm, as Barkovitch had said. But as time passed, it got better, of course.
When the Walkers passed through Freeport that year they had been on the road over seventy-two hours. Garraty had been ten and overwhelmed by everything. The Major had made a speech to the crowd while the boys were still five miles out of town. He began with Competition, progressed to Patriotism, and finished with something called the Gross National Product-Gar racy had laughed at that, because to him gross meant something nasty, like boogers. He had eaten six hotdogs and when he finally saw the Walkers coming he had wet his pants.
One boy had been screaming. That was his most vivid memory. Every time he put his foot down he had screamed: Ican't. I CAN'T. I can't. I CAN'T. But he went on walking. They all did, and pretty soon the last of them had gone past L. L. Bean's on U.S. 1 and out of sight. Garraty had been mildly disappointed at not seeing anyone get a ticket. They had never gone to another Long Walk. Later that night Garraty had heard his father shouting thickly at someone into the telephone, the way he did when he was being drunk or political, and his mother in the background, her conspiratorial whisper, begging him to stop, please stop, before someone picked up the party line.
Garraty drank some more water and wondered how Barkovitch was making it.
They were passing more houses now. Families sat out on their front lawns, smiling, waving, drinking Coca-Colas.
"Garraty," McVries said. "My, my, look what you got."
A pretty girl of about sixteen in a white blouse and red-checked pedal pushers was holding up a big Magic Marker sign: GO-GO-GARRATY NUMBER 47 We Love You Ray "Maine's Own."
Garraty felt his heart swell. He suddenly knew he was going to win. The unnamed girl proved it.
Olson whistled wetly, and began to slide his stiff index finger rapidly in and out of his loosely curled fist. Garraty thought that was a pretty goddam sick thing to be doing.
To hell with Hint 13. Garraty ran over to the side of the road. The girl saw his number and squealed. She threw herself at him and kissed him hard. Garraty was suddenly, sweatily aroused. He kissed back vigorously. The girl poked her tongue into his mouth twice, delicately. Hardly aware of what he was doing, he put one hand on a round buttock and squeezed gently.
"Warning! Warning 47!"
Garraty stepped back and grinned. "Thanks."
"Oh... oh... oh sure!" Her eyes were starry.
He tried to think of something else to say, but he could see the soldier opening his mouth to give him the second warning. He trotted back to his place, panting a little and grinning. He felt a little guilty after Hint 13 just the same, though.
Olson was also grinning. "For that I would have taken three warnings."
Garraty didn't answer, but he turned around and walked backward and waved to the girl. When she was out of sight he turned around and began to walk firmly. An hour before his warning would be gone. He must be careful not to get another one. But he felt good. He felt fit. He felt like he could walk all the way to Florida. He started to walk faster.
"Listen, I got off on the wrong foot with you guys. I didn't mean to. Shit, I'm a good enough guy when you get to know me, I'm always gettin' off on the wrong foot, I never had much of a crowd back home. In my school, I mean. Christ, I don't know why. I'm a good enough guy when you get to know me, as good as anyone else, but I always just, you know, seem to get off on the wrong foot. I mean a guy's got to have a couple of friends on a thing like this. It's no good to be alone, right? Jesus Christ, Garraty, you know that. That Rank. He started it, Garraty. He wanted to tear my ass. Guys, they always want to tear my ass. I used to carry a switchblade back at my high school on account of guys wanting to tear my ass. That Rank. I didn't mean for him to croak, that wasn't the idea at all. I mean, it wasn't my fault. You guys just saw the end of it, not the way he was...ripping my ass, you know..."
"It's all part of the Plan. You remember when I told you about the Plan? Didn't believe me. Olsen didn't. Davidson neither. Gribble neither. Garraty, I daaanced on their graves!"
|The Long Walk|
| James Baker | Collie Parker | George Fielder | Bill Hough | Rattigan | Scramm | Pearson | Travin | Fenter | Toland | Aaronson|
Abraham | Arthur Baker | Gary Barkovitch | Curley | Davidson | Ewing | Fenter | Roger Fenum | Percy | Raymond Garraty | Gribble
Harkness | Klingerman | Larson | Peter McVries | Hank Olson | Stebbins | Tressler | Wayne | Marty Wyman | Yannick | Zuck
|The Major | Mrs. Garraty | Janice |Cathy Scramm | Priscilla | Jimmy Owens|