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An Extended Table of Contents

This page lists the first complete phrase of V.'s chapters, sections and subsections. It is indicated when a section does not start with a Roman number.

chapter one.
In which Benny Profane, a schlemihl and human yo-yo, gets to get an apocheir
i Christmas Eve, 1955. 9
ii Where they ended up finally was an apartment in Newport News, inhabited by four WAVE lieutenants and a switchman at the coal piers (friend of Pig's) named Morris Teflon, who was a sort of house father. 17
iii Profane slept that night at Pig's place down the old ferry docks, and he slept alone. 21
iv As it turned out, the New Year's party was to end all yo-yoing, at least for a time. 31
iv.2 Rachel caught up with him in the bus station in Norfolk. 34
v So in January 1956 Benny Profane showed up again in New York. 36
chapter two.
The Whole Sick Crew
i Profane, Angel and Geronimo gave up girl-watching about noon and left the park in search of wine. 44
ii The party, as if it were inanimate after all, unwound like a clock's mainspring toward the edges of a chocolate room, seeking some easing of its own tension, some equilibrium. 52
ii.2 Outside the V-note a number of bums stood around the front windows looking inside, fogging the glass with their breath. 58
chapter three.
In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations
[no number] As spread thighs are to the libertine, flights of migratory birds to the ornithologist, the working part of his tool bit to the production machinist, so was the letter V to young Stencil. 61
i As the afternoon progressed, yellow clouds began to gather over the Place Mohammed Ali, from the direction of the Lybian desert. 63
ii Yusef the factotum, temporarily on loan from Hotel Khedival, dashed through the falling rain, across the street to the Austrian consulate; darting in by the servants' entrance. 66
iii The Fink restaurant was quiet: not much doing. 69
iv The Alexandria and Cairo morning express was late. 77
v The desert creeps in on a man's land. 82
vi Three in the morning, hardly a sound in the streets, and time for Girgis the mountebank to be about his nighttime avocation, burglary. 85
vii The bierhalle north of the Ezbekiyeh Garden had been created by north European tourists in their own image. 88
viii The corridors runs by the curtained entrances to four boxes, located to audience right at the top level of the summer theatre in the Ezbekiyeh Garden. 93
chapter four.
In which Esther gets a nose job
[no number] Next evening, prim and nervous-thighed in a rear seat of the crosstown bus, Esther divided her attention between the delinquent wilderness outside and a paperback copy of The Search for Bridey Murphy. 95
i Schoenmaker, being conservative, referred to his profession as the art of Tagliacozzi. 97
ii Esther met him, oddly enough, through Stencil, who at the time was only a newcomer to the Crew. 101
ii.2 Next week she arrived, punctual: guts tight, skin sensitive. 104
iii That would have been all: except for Esther. 108
chapter five.
In which Stencil nearly goes West with an alligator
i This alligator was pinto: pale white, seaweed black. 111
ii Gouverneur ("Roony") Winsome sat on his grotesque espresso machine, smoking string and casting baleful looks at the girl in the next room. 123
chapter six.
In which Profane returns to street level
i Women had always happened to Profane the schlemihl like accidents: broken shoelaces, dropped dishes, pins in new shirts. 134
ii Profane's worries about Fina turned real and ugly, soon enough. 146
chapter seven.
She hangs on the western wall
[no number] Dudley Eigenvalue, D.D.S., browsed among treasures in his Park Avenue office/residence. 152
i In April of 1899 young Evan Godolphin, daft with the spring and sporting a costume too Esthetic for such a fat boy, pranced into Florence. 155
ii In front of a wine shop on the Ponte Vecchio sat Signor Mantissa and his accomplice in crime, a seedy-looking Calabrese named Cesare. 159
iii Miss Victoria Wren, late of Lardwick-in-the-Fen, Yorks., recently self-proclaimed a citizen of the world, knelt devoutly in the front pew of a church just off Via della Studio. 166
iv The eighth floor at Piazza della Signoria 5 was murky and smelled of fried octopus. 173
v Earlier that day, the Venezuelan consulate had been in an uproar. 175
vi When old Godolphin awoke it was to a wash of red sunset through the window. 182
vii The Englishman who had questioned the Gaucho was named Stencil. 188
viii Around Italian circles the latest joke was about an Englishman who cuckolded his Italian friend. 195
ix Adjoining the prison which Evan had recently vacated, and not far from the British consulate, are two narrow streets, Via del Purgatorio and Via dell'Inferno, which intersect in a T whose long side parallels the Arno. 198
x Scheissvogel's Biergarten und Ratskeller was a nighttime favorite not only with the German travelers in Florence but also, it seemed, with those of the other touring nations. 203
xi That march from Via Cavour was the most splendid the Gaucho could remember. 207
xi.2 Lugging the tree, Signor Mantissa and Cesare staggered through the "Ritratti diversi," while the Gaucho guarded the rear. 209
xi.3 They scurried down a narrow street to the Lungarno. 212
chapter eight.
In which Rachel gets her yo-yo back, Roony sings a song, and Stencil calls on Bloody Chiclitz
i Profane, sweating in April's heat, sat on a bench in the little park behind the public library, swatting at flies with rolled-up pags of the Times classified. 213
ii Winsome had left work early. 217
iii Profane returned to the Space/Time agency convinced that if nothing else Rachel was luck. 222
iv That night, April 15, David Ben-Gurion warned his country in an Independence Day speech that Egypt planned to slaughter Israel. 225
chapter nine.
Mondaugen's story
i One May morning in 1922 (meaning nearly winter here in the Wambad district) a young engineering student named Kurt Mondaugen, late of the Technical University of Munich, arrived at a white outpost near the village of Kalkfontein South. 229
ii Thus began Foppl's Siege Party. 235
iii But his own musical commentary on dreams had not included the obvious and perhaps for him indispensable: that if dreams are only waking sensation first and later operated on, then the dreams of a voyeur can never be his own. 254
iv "Kurt, why do you never kiss me anymore?" 274
chapter ten.
In which various sets of young people get together
i McClintic Sphere, whose horn man was soling, stood by the empty piano, looking off at nothing in particular. 280
i.2 Slab and Esther, uncomfortable with each other, stood in front of an easel in his place, looking at Cheese Danish # 35. 282
i.3 Roony and Rachel sat at the bar of a neigborhood tavern on Second Avenue. 283
ii Next evening, Profane was sitting in the guardroom at Anthroresearch Associates, feet propped on a gas stove, reading an avant-garde western called Existentialist Sheriff, which Pig Bodine had recommended. 284
iii The next weekend there was a party at Raoul, Slab and Melvin's. 287
iii.2 "I don't hate the Jewish people," Mafia was explaining, "only the things they do." 287
iv McClintic Sphere had been reading fake books all afternoon. 291
iv.2 "You are beautiful," Schoenmaker was saying. 294
iv.3 While at Anthroresearch Profane listened with half an ear to the coffee percolating; and carried on another imaginary conversation with SHROUD. 295
iv.4 While Slab lounged meticulous about his canvas, Cheese Danish # 41, making quick little stabs with a fine old kolinsky brush at the surface of the painting. 295
iv.5 In the past few days Esther had become more and more impossible for Schoenmaker to get along with. 296
iv.6 Eigenvalue the soul-dentist had even given Schoenmaker counsel. 297
v McClintic, back for a weekend from Lenox, found August in Nueva York bad as he'd expected. 298
v.2 Charisma and Fu crashed into the room, drunk and singing English vaudeville songs. 300
chapter eleven.
Confessions of Fausto Maijstral
[no number] It takes, unhappily, no more than a desk and writing supplies to turn any room into a confessional. 304
[no number] Of Fausto's return to life, little can be said 345
[no number] Stencil let the last thin scribbled sheet flutter to bare linoleum. 345
chapter twelve.
In which things are not so amusing
i The party had begun late, woth a core of only a dozen Sick. 347
ii Esther had indeed her ass in a sling. 352
ii.2 Pig, evil-minded Pig, inferred right for once. 353
ii.3 Rachel, out looking for Esther, didn't arrive at the party till late. 355
iii Profane arrived at Winsome's to find Mafia wearing only the inflatable brassiere and playing a game of her own invention called Musical Blankets with three beaux who were new to Profane. 357
iv Winsome came awake from a dream of defenestration, wondering why he hadn't thought of it before. 359
v At Idlewild was a fat three-year-old girl who waited to bounce over the tarmac to a waiting plane —Miami, Havana, San Juan— looking blasé and heavy-lidded over the dandruffed shoulder of her father's black suit at the claque of relatives assembled to see her off. 362
vi Patrolman Jones and Officer Ten Eyck, disdaining the elevator, marched in perfect unison up two flights of palatial stairway, down the hall towards Winsome's apartment. 364
vi.2 Maybe the only peace undisturbed that night was McClintic's and Paola's. 365
chapter thirteen.
In which the yo-yo string is revealed as a state of mind
i The passage to Malta took place in late September, over an Atlantic whose sky never showed a sun.  
i.2 Next day, hung over, he yo-yoed on the Staten Island ferry, watching juveniles-in-love neck grab, miss, connect. 371
ii All things gathered to farewell. 379
ii.2 Profane, whose nights were now free, decided he could afford to frequent the Rusty Spoon and the Forked Yew without serious compromise. 380
ii.3 That night at the Spoon, things were louder than usual, despite Mafia's being in stir and a few of the Crew out on bail and their best behavior. 385
chapter fourteen.
V. in love
i The clock inside the Gare du Nord read 11:17: Paris time minus five minutes, Belgian railway time plus four minutes, mid-Europe time minus 56 minutes. 393
i.2 Her room was hot and airless. 396
i.3 Tonight there would be a magic-lantern show. 398
i.4 Mélanie dreamed 401
i.5 Itague was bored. 402
ii The next day the same clouds were over the city, but it did not rain. 403
ii.2 The night of the performance arrived 412
chapter fifteen.
i Sunday morning around nine the Rollicking Boys arrived at Rachel's after their night of burglary and lounging in the park. 415
ii Stencil, Profane and Pig made a flying visit to Washington, D.C., one weekend: the world-adventurer to expedite their coming passage, the schlemihl to spend at last liberty; Pig to help him. 418
iii Now there was a private going-away party, just Profane and Rachel, about two weeks later. 422
chapter sixteen.
i Now there was a sun-shower over Valetta, and even a rainbow. 424
ii Of their dash across the Continent in a stolen Renault; Profane's one-night sojourn in a jail near Genoa, when the police mistook him for an American gangster; the drunk they all threw which began in Liguria and lasted well past Naples; the dropped transmission at the outskirts of that city and the week they spent waiting its repair in a ruined villa in Ischia, inhabited by friends of Stencil —a monk long defrocked named Fenice who spent his time breeding giant scorpions in marble cages once used by the Roman blood to punish their boy and girl concubines, and the poet Cinoglossa who had the misfortune to be both homosexual and epileptic— wandering listlessly in an unreasonable heat among vistas of marble fractured by earthquake, pines blasted by lightning, sea wrinkled by a dying mistral; of their arrival in Sicily and the difficulty with the local bandits on a mountain road (from which Stencil extricated them by telling foul Sicilian jokes and giving then whisky); of the day-long trip from Syracuse to Valetta on the Laferla steamer Star of Malta, during which Stencil lost $100 and a pair of cufflinksat stud poker to a mild-faced clergyman who called himself Robin Petitpoint; and of Paola's steadfast silence through it all, there was little for any of them to remember. 443
iii Two days later Maijstral arrived at the lodging-house to find Profane dead drunk and slaunchwise on the bed. 451
i Winter. 456
ii But the second meeting had to wait on the coming of a kind of false spring, where smells of the Harbour drifted to the highest reaches of Valetta and flocks of sea birds consulted dispiritedly down in the Dockyard country, aping the actions of their human co-tenants. 476
iii Events began to shape themselves for June and the coming Assembly. 488
iii.2 Early on the morning of 10 June 1919, Mehemet's xebec set sail from Lascaris Wharf. 492