Last Updated January 4, 2023.
The narrator ran to Morningside, hearing shooting sounds that reminded him of fireworks. He saw throngs of people clashing with each other, rushing into storefronts, and running in all directions, and briefly lost his sense of time and space. Regaining his composure, he realized he’d been injured. Two men asked if he was all right, pointing out a head wound and handing him back his briefcase. Noticing the body of a nearby dead man, the narrator was struck by the realization that it could just as easily have been him.
Disoriented as the throngs continued to surge around him, the narrator listened to the yells of the crowd and heard rumors that the riots had been prompted by Ras the Destroyer, as a revolt against the state’s murder of Brother Tod Clifton. Someone asked the narrator if he was all right, noticing his head wound, and one of the men explained that he had been shot by the police.
The men started filling buckets with oil from the fuel drums at a nearby store, and the narrator joined them. Carrying the oil into the street, they approached a tenement building and prepared to set it alight. One of the men told the narrator that most of them lived there. The men called for all the remaining residents to be brought outside and started carrying the oil up the stairs to drench it from the inside. Once the building was vacant, a fire was set, and the men fled. As the narrator ran away, he saw that one of the men now had a spurting wound. Helping to secure a tourniquet, he told the man to see a doctor at once.
Realizing that this could only end in massive death and destruction, the narrator realized that this violent clash was what the Brotherhood committee had been secretly planning all along. By acquiescing to lure them into complacency, he had instead inadvertently cosigned this community-wide destruction.
Seeing Ras nearby atop a large black horse, the narrator donned his Rinehart glasses in an attempt to camouflage himself. Ras recognized him anyway, and the two began to shout as the narrator denounced the Brotherhood. When Ras ordered his men to catch him and kill him, the narrator threw a spear at Ras, hitting him, then punched someone with Brother Tarp’s chain link over his knuckles, and finally ran.
The narrator eventually settled somewhere calm and overheard a group of drunken people talking about a police attack on Ras. One spied the narrator, raising a baseball bat and demanding to know what was in his briefcase. Taking off running yet again, the narrator fell into an uncovered manhole. Hearing the gang still taunting him aboveground, he decided to hide there until they left.
Too tired to escape that evening and vaguely intent on finding his way back to Mary’s house, the narrator waited underground until morning. But without light, that morning never came—he remained underground, invisible, until he was awakened by hunger. When he did finally arise, a ladder out was nowhere to be found. Left with no better option, he burned the contents of his briefcase to light his way. Contemplating the events of the recent past, and the treachery of the Brotherhood, he realized he couldn’t go back to his life aboveground.