Why do I have to frig around with all this chickenshit stuff? I didn't want their dimes. I wanted to see if I could take them. Jesus, the only thing you can depend on is your brains!
In the coach, under the dimmed lights, the crowd of carnival performers and concessioners sprawled, huddled, heads on each others' shoulders; some had stretched themselves on newspapers in the aisles. In the corner of a seat Molly slept, her lips slightly parted, her head against the glass of the black window.
How helpless they all looked in the ugliness of sleep. A third of life spent unconscious and corpselike. And some, the great majority, stumbled through their waking hours scarcely more awake, helpless in the face of destiny. They stumbled down a dark alley toward their deaths. They sent exploring feelers into the light and met fire and writhed back again into the darkness of their blind groping.
— from Nightmare Alley, by William L Gresham.
I didn't mean to be reading this book now, yet, but in sorting through my stack I happened to open this one, and I saw "the stubble on the deputy marshal's chin was white — like a white fungus on a dead man," at which point I had to start at the beginning, and I couldn't put it down.