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Hatchet man : an original novel Courchesne, Peter D. 1965

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THE HATCHET MAN — an o r i g i n a l novel by PETER D. COURCHESNE B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y of Western Ontario, 1962 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o the requ i r e d standard: THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1965 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I f u r t h e r agree tha t permission f o r extensive copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the author. I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department of V ) ^ f c y i M / N The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver 8, Canada Date ^\&A*^A^A^f.Hfc i i ABSTRACT The p l o t of The Hatchet Man i s derived from The  Canterbury Tales*. Each sub-section of the novel i s intended t o p a r a l l e l Chaucer's n a r r a t i v e i n d e t a i l and i n theme. I t i s intended t h a t much of the e f f e c t of the novel be dependent on the comparison that i s i n v i t e d w i t h the content of Chaucer's T a l e s . Chaucer's i n t e g r a t i n g framework, the journey of the p i l g r i m s t o the sh r i n e of Saint Thomas i n Canterbury, i s the source of a f u r t h e r p a r a l l e l . The characters i n The Hatchet  Man t r a v e l t o the sh r i n e of ab s t r a c t t r u t h , i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d as the u n i v e r s i t y . But, as w i t h Chaucer, the s t o r i e s themselves are the theme, not the pi l g r i m a g e . The p a r t i c u l a r provides the meaning; the ge n e r a l , the r a t i o n a l e . The attempt has been not so much to fragment the c o n t i n u i t y of p l o t and s t y l e , but t o avoid conglomerating i t . The a b s t r a c t depends on the p a r t i c u l a r i n a more s i g n i f i c a n t way than i t could f o r the C h r i s t i a n Chaucer. The no v e l can end i n " a f f i r m a t i o n s " r a t h e r than " r e t r a c t i o n s . " Hugh Simon and h i s f r i e n d s , u n l i k e Chaucer's f i g u r e s , do a r r i v e at the s h r i n e and f i n d that the meaning of the p a r t i c u l a r overwhelms the a b s t r a c t , that t h e i r Saviour hatchets the g e n e r a l i z e d whole and imparts t o i t the v i r t u e of independent e x i s t e n c e , a meaning derived from i t s own e n t i t y , not i t s i n t e r p r e t i v e v a l u e . THE HATCHET MAN Prologue — i n t hat season I t was September. Hugh Simon l a y on h i s c o t . He f e l t a l o n g i n g t o go that he would have f e l t i n A p r i l . In A p r i l , so i t runs, the earth i s bathed and the r o o t s are succoured by the r a i n , so He says, and the f l o w e r i s engendered... as he too was when a boy and he watched the s p r i n g coming; the snow slump and s l i n k away from the sun, making the house h u f f - p u f f s w e l l and l e a v i n g a t r i c k l e of i c i c l e s and water f i n g e r s . Dog yellowed i c e at the foot of telephone poles went overnight and l a s t year's grass w i l t e d and scented up and down the s t r e e t , and i f you burned i t , d r i f t e d n o s t r i l l o n g i n g as from some l i f e you l e f t ago come back to t e l l from f a r and l a r g e away. School out, a l l the f a m i l y wished to pack and take the f i r s t soon t r a i n t o summer camp where the whole world was, and they knew summer l a s t e d e a s i l y as long as count up s t a r s by n i g h t . I t was s t o r i e d and amazing to d i s c o v e r that clouds f l e w , but r e c a l l i n g now, the s t o r i e s , l i k e the c l o u d s , were fragments... some goon once t o l d him, some goon, mocking, that he perceived t h i n g s as a p r i m i t i v e A f r i c a n t r i b e d i d , t h a t , being shown a f i l m , had no i d e a of i t s content, except they 2 remembered a chicken i n the f i l m that no one el s e had seen. The goon, maybe a teacher, had s a i d Hugh concentrated on the i n c i d e n t a l , on the per i p h e r y , and l o s t the c o n t i n u i t y . He was embarrassed at i t . Though there was none there i n that t o r n , cloud engendered w o r l d , of: waking i n morning b i r d s w r i n k l i n g the a i r l i k e the p r i c k l e of strawberry bushes and buzz the bees hornets and d r a g o n f l i e s as the odour of cheese-cloth logs oakum and as the squeak of the pump f i l l i n g buckets i n barefeet p i c k i n g pinecones and driftwood f o r the f i r e and rowing back past Antoine's, an Indian with a goat that l i k e d i t s horns p i c k e d , and a prin c e s s wife who organ wooed the midnight i n t h e i r tarpaper a t t i c kerosene hearth and b o n f i r e shadows on the c e i l i n g over h i s c h i l d bed and i n the space between the world's words were envelopes of v e l v e t I t was s p r i n g and sun time always, and qu i t e s u r p r i s i n g to be t o l d the summer l a s t e d three months of the year, not t e n . Tomorrow he would leave again, as b i r d s do, i n s p i r e d by i n c i d e n t a l s , and though September, the only d i f f e r e n c e was i t was not the l i q u o r r a i n but beaked and s k i t t e r i n g leaves that f e l l on h i s t h i n r o o f , and a breeze t h a t d i d not f r o l i c , but s i f t e d s l o w l y as the hour g l a s s and slower w i t h a c h i l l that had no August toasted noses, and not the ni g h t a i r a l l of pouncing boughs and g o b l i n shadows and swooping w i t c h e s 1 brooms. They are what make the season, F a l l , and l i k e the b i r d s , because of them, he would leave tomorrow, heading south to London to study h i s strange c r a f t of mixtures d e l i c a t e and essences i n t a n g i b l e — o l d warped limbed codger edged over h i s coddled pot and brew of s w i r l i n g greens and browns, heady i n the f r o t h and gases of the formulae, hoping f o r the sp l e n d i d r e s i d u e , the pure and homo-geneous, the s i n g l e , u n i v e r s a l element. 3 — a t harry's i n n On Lakeshore Drive was Harry Wisdom's Lantern Inn i n h e r i t e d from h i s f a t h e r . That evening he went there w i t h C l a r k e Walters and Malcolm Brown, who they c a l l e d Monk. They knew Harry from childhood years, and o f t e n went over to h i s place i n evenings, a f t e r business slowed. Harry would t u r n on the *Uo Vacancy' s i g n and they would s i t around the e l e c t r i c f i r e p l a c e i n the l i v i n g r o o m , d r i n k i n g h i s beer. That room was l i k e an i n s t i t u t i o n . The w a l l s were g o t h i c , weighty and dark, with narrow windows blocked by i v y . A green rug s a i d plush and only whisper. The c h a i r s were arranged i n a formal manner, as though f o r a meeting, and Harry's seat was prominent, l i k e chairman. On the w a l l s the l a n t e r n s made the room a s i l l y s o r t of rosy, making v i s i b l e , i n the e x t r e m i t i e s , magnificent heaps of junk, a l t o g e t h e r out of p l a c e : c a r v i n g s , a toy cannon, a c u t l a s s , a s p i n n i n g wheel, and a phoney f u r -covered f i s h , c a l l e d ermine, supposedly because i t i n h a b i t e d c o l d depths. They hung w i t h cobwebs and Hugh thought each was a v i a l c a p t u r i n g the v o i c e s of some dialogue of the past. The evening s t a r t e d , as u s u a l , w i t h Harry t a l k i n g to the t o u r i s t s , laughing f u n c t i o n a l l y , and questioning about t h e i r c h i l d r e n , t h e i r home towns, and t h e i r j o b s . Clarke always had questions, wanting t h e i r o p i n i o n s , h i s head making l i t t l e c u r t s i e s , and h i s f i n g e r s , quick t r i p s to h i s c h i n , Harry's eyebrows s a i d 'Ahemi' w i t h i n t e r e s t , when Clarke spoke. When Monk: had asked how they l i k e d the f i s h i n g , beaches, r e s t a u r a n t s , and t h i n g s l i k e t h a t , he was f i n i s h e d and sat blowing spasms 4 i n t o handkerchiefs, which he punctuated w i t h "Ah, H e l l I " or " D i r t y I D i r t y 1" and winced h i s nose i n the t r a n s i t i o n t o g u z z l i n g h i s beer again. Hugh was kept busy answering questions, l i k e yes indeed, yes h i s name was Simon, yes what he was doing, t h i n k i n g 'what-uh-hey-huh-eh? 1, u n t i l the t o u r i s t s l e f t . Harry took them t o the door, good-nighting, thanking, if-you-need, w i t h s m i l e s , and returned to s i t and contemplate the c e i l i n g . H is arms crossed on h i s chest, he then began t o meditate aloud. I t was by the way of c a l l i n g the meeting t o order. He began by r e m i n i s c i n g , i n an o r a t o r i c a l manner, so that you knew he was l e a d i n g up to something, and maybe i t was that he thought the past was so much t r i v i a , t hat I t would serve t o emphasize the g l o r y of the present, i n which h i s own p o s i t i o n was most g l o r i o u s , being the p r o p r i e t o r of The Lantern Inn. He began t h i s night about the crooked shack they b u i l t when k i d s , w i t h the words slopped on i n p a i n t , P r i v a t e and Keep Out, and above these, The Sunset Hoods, because they l i v e d near Sunset Park. They had stayed up p l a y i n g B l a c k j a c k and Kings and L i t t l e Men a l l n i g h t , d r i n k i n g pop from shot g l a s s e s , pretending i t was whiskey. They s t o l e corn from the neighbour's garden, c u t t i n g a hole i n the chicken w i r e , w i t h a path r i g h t from the fence through the deep grass t o t h e i r shack door. They thought the neighbour would never know. They even s t o l e the stove t o cook h i s corn. What crooks'. Remember. The whole shack was b u i l t and furni s h e d w i t h s t o l e n goods. They had a l l thought Monk would be a famous gangster. C l a r k e could run the f a s t e s t , r e a l l y f a s t — h e had turned out •so the way they thought he would. Harry had come t o h i s p e r o r a t i o n 5 and was l e a n i n g a l i t t l e forward from the armchair. He was preparing to analyse t h e i r q u a l i t i e s and assess t h e i r f u t u r e . . . But Hugh remembered h i s f i r s t g i r l f r i e n d s , that he went w i t h i n those days, e s p e c i a l l y J i l l i a n , so sweet, who bought him presents, phoned him, always s m i l i n g and cuddly, whose pants were so hot f o r him, and he too young to know, and he l e f t her one n i g h t , i n f r o n t of her f r i e n d s , not saying good-night, because she l i k e d the w r e s t l i n g matches, and because her boobs were too s m a l l , never again g e t t i n g a chance to speak to her, and she'd ended up married t o some r a t f i n k . Monk laughed. Harry returned from the k i t c h e n w i t h more beer and continued that they were a l l very f o r t u n a t e , that the others were e s p e c i a l l y f o r t u n a t e t o be attending u n i v e r s i t y , that education was something they could never take away from you, t h a t they would a l l make names f o r themselves. "Who wants to p l a y cards?" Monk asked, muscularly, t w i t c h i n g , though plump and l o o k i n g amorphous, almost amphibious. "Yes," Harry s a i d , " I c e r t a i n l y wish I had the opportunity. You must get great s a t i s f a c t i o n from i t . " "Yes, we do." C l a r k e r a i s e d h i s elbow and looked at the h o l e i n h i s j a c k e t . "There i s very l i t t l e e l s e that allows such freedom from doubt and the need to j u s t i f y one's a c t i o n s . " "Well, I ' l l miss you again t h i s w i n t e r . I enjoy t a l k i n g t o you i n the evenings." "Who wants to play poker? Let's p l a y poker." Monk s h u f f l e d the cards. Hugh s a i d , "O.K." "Do you want to play poker?" Monk pointed at C l a r k e . 6 H i s weight moved i n t o the f i n g e r when he pointed. " I f everyone e l s e wants t o . " "Do you want to play poker?" i n d i c a t i n g Harry. "Not r e a l l y . " " I t ' s three against one." " I don't gi v e a shit'." Monk removed to the corner t a b l e to play s o l i t a i r e , moving the a s h t r a y s , cards, and necessaries i n d u s t r i o u s l y . He appeared always l i k e some crumpled animal s t r u g g l i n g i n a sack. " I t ' s the l a s t time I ' l l be seeing you f o r awhile. Can't we j u s t t a l k ? " "About what?" Monk ;snarled, "But go ahead. I can play and l i s t e n simultaneously." C l a r k e crossed h i s l e g s and Hugh reached another beer. "You know C l a r k e , " Harry s a i d , " I can see that education has had q u i t e an e f f e c t on you." "In what way?" s m i l i n g h i s mannequin s m i l e , a l s o h i s hand-shake s m i l e , when the e l a s t i c bands connecting the edges of h i s mouth w i t h the lobes of h i s ears, c o n t r a c t e d . "Well, you have a more mature a t t i t u d e toward t h i n g s , a b e t t e r understanding of t h e i r v a l u e . I'd say i t ' s what you were t a l k i n g about the other n i g h t : knowing the r e l a t i o n s h i p of the p a r t i c u l a r to the u n i v e r s a l . " "Ah, f a r t ! " s a i d Monk, beaverly gathering up the cards. He rapped them on the t a b l e , " P l a t i t u d e s . " —mug and foam Hugh's mug was f i l l e d again, and he sat down, t h i n k i n g 7 t o l i s t e n . . . s t i l l unresolved was what was s a i d b e f o r e , and, though face watching, he could not hear the l i p s and wished t o say of past and c l i n g i n g question of the Sunset. Hoods and l i t t l e g i r l s of boy's hug by the gate a l l b l a s t e d s t r a i g h t t o they would waste and gone t o what the h e l l there had been something. He bummed a c i g a r e t t e to catch the convers a t i o n . "Not me," he s a i d . "Not you what, f o r s h i t ' s sake?" Monk looked up, s h u f f l i n g . "Not me, I got no a h - t i - t u d e s . I don't know n u t t i n ' . Sometimes I t h i n k I do, and then I f e e l crummy." Monk put up an ace, and looked over the deck, oddly. "This i s only your second year," consoled C l a r k e , "Give y o u r s e l f a chance." Hugh s t i r r e d h i s beer w i t h h i s thumb and sucked i t and would have jammed i t up Clarke's ass i f i t might have taught him, but t h e r e , why go on l i k e t hat s i n c e there i s nothing to be taught, s i n c e there no longer was a Why soever l o n g , no longer was a question overwhelming, s i n c e the magnificence of a b i g Why was gone because the world had pissed i t a l l away and only p i d d l e d drops l i k e how?--how?-how?, shaking i t s pecker before i t zipped i t up f o r e v e r and they were cast f o r no good reason, dashed against the f i n e s o l i d i t y of the u r i n a l as where they would go to DOCTOR LEIGHTON, g h a s t l y b a s t a r d , who from Hugh's seat stood hand h i g h , s m a l l and smug and waxy h a i r e d , which dangled i n h i s eyes. He slouched, and w i t h one hand behind h i s back and 8 index f i n g e r on h i s nose, snearch-spoke and hawked f o r a l l of them, l i k e p e a r l s t o swine, "Pronultimate," s i l l y c h i l d c h i n pouted up, " . . . b i f u r c a t i n g . " H i s c i g a r e t t e dangled and there was a wooze of smoke b e l l y r o l l r e s t i n g on h i s b e l t , the t i e c l i p crooked and tongue i n cheek to such and mumble, " p e r i p h e r a l and t a n g e n t i a l , " looked at h i s white bucks and smiled g r a t u i t o u s l y down to answer and w i t h grand sweeping arms and s p a r k l e t e e t h and eyes s a i d to take "both to your bosom and your bed," and he was a sweet f e l l o w f r i e n d of Mr. C a l l , who pimple p i c k i n g would go arm i n arm t o the c a f e t e r i a where Monk sat seething once, hot to s l i t t h e i r t h r o a t s and s i p enjoyment of teensy d e t e s t a t i o n , s a i d Leighton was a swine, and w i t h h i s smile that was one-sided and showed h i s r e a r molars, t o l d how he sat at home dreaming up t h i n g s he'd l i k e to do, l i k e c u t t i n g out ads from c e r e a l boxes to tack on h i s o f f i c e door, as "Be A GeneralI Command Your Own Army!" because Leighton power p l o t t e d always h i s p o s i t i o n , l i k e the w r i t i n g on the w a l l i t would be, h o p e f u l l y t o b r i n g him down i n avalanche of s n i c k e r s , and g l a n c i n g at the t a b l e where Percy ate w i t h Hubert, s a i d he'd planned to put a t o i l e t bowl outside h i s o f f i c e because the products of h i s b r a i n s were l i k e those of the bowels when you had the crud... and PEED KNIGHT upri g h t s i t t i n g l i f t e d h i s tablespoon laden from the f a r l i p of the bowl and l e t i t s p u r t l e back i n t o the soup and then continued e a t i n g , h i s great hand on the spoon l i g h t l y as i t had turned the l e a f w h i l e Leighton raved of h i s report that the P r o f had e n t i t l e d f o r him: "The Exigencies of M a t e r i a l Related 9 t o Lacunae i n t h e L i f e and L i t e r a r y Accomplishments o f Thomas Moore (1779-1852)11 i n w h i c h F r e d o p e n l y a d m i t t e d no i n t e r e s t and t h o u g h t i t r a t h e r p o i n t l e s s , brought s q u e a k i n g response o f "not t o t h e s a t i s f a c t i o n o f " o r " i n c o n j u n c t i o n with' 1 t h a t ended w i t h t h e P r o f w h i n i n g t h a t i t was "the p o i n t of t h e l u d i c r o u s and t h e a b s u r d , " t h i s r e p o r t of F r e d ' s , "a fulsome and f a t u o u s d o g g e r e l d i s p l a y , " a f t e r w h i c h F r e d q u i e t l y c o n t i n u e d r e a d i n g t h e t h i n g , u n p e r t u r b e d , s a y i n g he would not c e a s e u n t i l p r o p e r l y and p o l i t e l y a d d r e s s e d — t o w h i c h a t h i n s m i l e and p u r p l i n g t w i t c h o f t h e f o r e h e a d v e i n s , and f i n a l l y , " W e l l , t h a t w i l l be f i n e , Mr. K n i g h t , " r e s u l t i n g i n F r e d ' s • g e t t i n g t h i r t y - t w o p e r - c e n t , though he was a worke r i n e v e r y c l a s s , n e v e r watched T.V. as t h e o t h e r b o a r d e r s , and s t a y e d up s t u d y i n g u n t i l two and t h r e e each n i g h t u n t i l B i g A l i c e charged him f i f t y c e n t s e x t r a f o r t h e ' e l e c t r i c ' . CHARLIE came t o o , F r e d ' s s t e p b r o t h e r . I t was a s u r p r i s e t h e y e v e r moved i n . Hugh saw them i n t h e dim l i g h t o f t h e p a r l o u r , w h i c h A l l i e c o n v e r t e d a t n i g h t i n t o h e r bedroom, every o t h e r c r a n n y of t h e house b e i n g r e n t e d out t o b o a r d e r s , i n c l u d i n g t h e woodshed. She ever y y e a r t a c k e d a new woodbox t o t h e house, c l e a n e d up t h e o l d and moved a s t u d e n t i n t o i t , o r knocked a n o t h e r dormer i n t o t h e a t t i c , t h e house l o o k i n g l i k e a g r e a t jumble of t o y b l o c k s , t h e w i n t e r c o l d s e i z i n g up each c u b i c l e a c c o r d i n g t o i t s own p e c u l i a r i t i e s so t h a t t h e r e was no l e n g t h of f l o o r space more t h a n e i g h t f e e t l o n g w i t h o u t some s t e p o r ramp t o be n e g o t i a t e d , such t h a t t h e b o a r d e r s l i v e d on p e r i l o u s s l o p e s under t h e c o n s t a n t t h r e a t of g l i d i n g t h r o u g h t h e n i g h t , bed and a l l , i n t o a n o t h e r ' s room, and spent a l a r g e p a r t o f 10 t h e i r existence c a r r y i n g a l l round and movable objects back to the upper reaches of the room, and anyway, Knight sat there on the q u i l t covered cedar chest t h a t served as sofa i n that H a l l -reception-bedroom-office nook, the cedar chest being too low f o r h i s h u l k i n g body, and s i n c e i f he'd s t r e t c h e d h i s legs out they'd been i n old A l l i e ' s l a p , he cramped them back, doubled up h i g h as h i s shoulders and grasped there w i t h h i s h a i r y hands, C h a r l i e not bothering t o s i t , and A l l i e was seated on her bed's edge, her cat eyes gleaming i n the dim l i g h t , and gave them t h e i r f i r s t i n t e r v i e w , wanting to know t h e i r age and n a t i o n a l i t y and r e l i g i o n , asking was Knight sure there was no German i n h i s f a m i l y , i t being too bad there was not as she l i k e d Germans and had a p i c t u r e of one by her bed, who was a past s t a r boarder, and a l s o P r o t e s t a n t s were b e s t , f o r which reason C h a r l i e s a i d he was Reformed B a p t i s t , p l e a s i n g her very much, and afterwards s a i d "Amen" i n answer to a l l things and questions, which a l s o pleased her, though he was the worst at b i t c h i n g behind her back about having to have t h e i r own soap and towels, and that he missed most b r e a k f a s t s , s i n c e they were served between eight and e i g h t - t h i r t y , according to the coo-coo c l o c k over the r e f e c t o r y t a b l e where they a t e , when i t coo-cooed i t s l a s t cook that was i t , so that one day he came down purposely i n nothing but a towel and she stood over him, her round body, w i t h an untrue frown so mighty i t squeezed the forehead up and gone and p u l l e d the c h i n t i g h t i n her red face a l l j o l l y b a l l s of f a t , h o l d i n g the b r e a k f a s t p l a t e c l o s e t o her medicine b a l l b r e a s t s , f r e e hand hard on the c h a i r , but 11 f e e d i n g him and soon a f t e r there appeared a new r u l e of the house posted under a l l the o t h e r s , that boarders would henceforth dress w i t h p r o p r i e t y and l i k e gentlemen, and these were a l l under the l i t t l e plaque that read: "As f o r me and my house, We s h a l l serve the Lord," f o l l o w e d by the s t i p u l a t i o n s t h a t there was to be no t y p i n g or r a d i o s after, s i x , no T.V. except f i v e F r i d a y and the same time Sunday, no t a l k i n g o r v i s i t i n g i n other rooms past seven, no d r i n k i n g and no smoking and l i g h t s o u t . a f t e r twelve which meant tha t they had to climb i n from the h a n d r a i l on the porch up to the porch roof and through Hugh's window a d i f f i c u l t t r i c k when corned and that they l e f t t h e i r b o t t l e s i n the manhole i n the s t r e e t one n i g h t , not p u t t i n g the cover on p r o p e r l y , so when the B i g G i r l came home w i t h shopping.bags f u l l i n each hand swaying from s i d e t o s i d e l i k e a seasoned s a i l o r on a r o l l i n g s h i p , she f e l l through the manhole to her w a i s t , b l a z i n g , "Almighty s t r i k e him down'. I t ' s the D e v i l ' s work, damn him." r a g i n g that she'd sue the town, or somebody i f her o l d hubby Ned were s t i l l a l i v e he'd know j u s t what to do as he'd spent the l a s t years of h i s l i f e i n h i s room u p s t a i r s reading lawbooks and watching a l l the neighbours f o r a chanee to sue them, which he'd managed twice and would have done more ofte n but he died of a heart a t t a c k one day when f i g h t i n g w i t h the S p i r i t u a l i s t s next door f o r l e t t i n g h i s k i d s 12 c l i m b o v e r h i s f e n c e u n l i k e s i l l y W i l l i a m who was chums w i t h them and w i t h everybody e l s e , i n c l u d i n g t h e Doc who brought an e a r l y end t o h i s c a r e e r as a h o u s e p a i n t e r , as you c a n ' t p a i n t houses w i t h o n l y one l e g . W i l l y ' d had a c r o o k e d l e g s i n c e he'd b r o k e n i t when a boy and l e t i t h e a l w i t h o u t r e s e t t i n g i t , w h i c h l e f t him s p r y as a t om-cat, u n t i l t h i s Doc got hands on him. W i l l y was u n c o n s c i o u s from a f a l l he'd t a k e n o f f h i s l a d d e r so t h a t t h e Doc thought t h e l e g had j u s t been b r o k e n and smashed i t up t r y i n g t o r e s e t i t . I t d i d n ' t do w e l l a f t e r t h a t d e s p i t e t h e y spent a few y e a r s b r e a k i n g and r e s e t t i n g i t u n t i l i t got gangrene and had t o be c u t o f f . Then he c o u l d n ' t p a i n t except sometimes h i s own house and t h e n e i g h b o u r ' s . A l l i e t o l d him n o t t o b u t he went r i g h t on w i t h i t , s a y i n g he'd be s i t t i n g most o f t h e t i m e and would be c a r e f u l . She t o l d him n o t t o and f i n a l l y he f e l l and t h i s t i m e k i l l e d h i m s e l f . The l a d d e r s t i l l hangs on t h e s i d e of t h e house. The Heavens were stormy and r i l e d up t h a t day, she s a i d , i t was a s i g n and what c o n v e r t e d h e r and she l i f t e d h e r s k i r t s above t h e knee t o show t h e s k i n n i n g she'd got i n t h e manhole. They s a i d , "No k i d d i n g . T h a t ' s t e r r i b l e . Something s h o u l d be d o n e l " W h i l e MILLER s l i p p e d out f o r t h e i r booze and when he came back and went c l i n k i n g , h i s arms f i l l e d w i t h b o t t l e s , up t h e s t a i r s , a d i f f i c u l t t h i n g t o do because each c u b i c l e had 13 i t s door, the house a heap of doors, you walked through l i k e a swimmer doing the overhead s t r o k e , but they ex p l a i n e d t h a t i t was F r e d d i e h i t t i n g h i s pipe on the a s h t r a y , f o r which l a t e r she gave him a l e c t u r e . M i l l e r came i n l i k e t h a t o f t e n , never b o t h e r i n g w i t h the window, c u r s i n g at the key h a l f an hour, t h e r e b e i n g two keyholes of which on l y one worked and the one t h a t worked d i d n ' t r e a l l y f i t the key, so t h a t he came i n c u r s i n g and banging h e r door, and once f e l l on h e r bed, so t h a t she woke with' a s t a r t and c u f f e d him. He grabbed h e r w r i s t the next time and pa t t e d h e r as s , he s a i d , and though he was the on l y one to smoke i n f r o n t of h e r , l e t t i n g h i s ashes drop on the rug, and b i t c h i n g when Johnny P a r i s h , who wouldn't l i v e t h e r e , b e i n g a s o r t of h e r m i t , c u r s i n g a l l t h i n g s , he went through the world w i t h a whip, but who stoked the furnace and worked around A l l i e n s p l a c e f o r h i s meals, P a r i s h b e i n g the onl y one A l l i e t r e a t e d l i k e an a d u l t , when she gave him a b i g g e r s e r v i n g M i l l e r b i t c h e d and she rapped h i s head wi t h a tablespoon, and though i t might have been a l o v e tap you couldn't b e l i e v e i t was t r u e t h a t he patted h e r ass a f t e r the day M i l l e r made the s i g n o f the c r o s s on a copper pot i n the k i t c h e n t h a t hung under a plaque that, began: " l o r d , b l e s s our pots and pans and t h i n g s . . . " and she, "What are you doing? Get out of my k i t c h e n , you fool'." and when he k i s s e d the pot took a f t e r him with a broom, swacking h i s b u l l neck, t h a t had a broom of i t s own, b l a c k h a i r a l l porcupine up t h i c k round h i s neck and down past the c o l l a r , eyes b u l g i n g , he tugged the broom t i l l she f e l l , h i t t i n g h e r head on the t a b l e l e g and r o l l i n g on the f l o o r , c l u t c h i n g h e r head, 14 s c r e e c h i n g . He ran ever, "Gee, are you O.K.?" embarrassed mostly, "Get up now, you're O.K." He bent over t o g i v e h e r h i s hand and she plowed him square on the nose. I t b l e d c o p i o u s l y on h i s white s h i r t while she scrambled f o r the broom agai n and l i t a f t e r him out the door, he ask i n g t o pack h i s t h i n g s , and o u t s i d e p u l l i n g c l o d s and weeds t o f l i n g at h e r u n t i l she made a f o r a y w i t h h e r broom and chased him down the b l o c k . He had made a study, M i l l e r , of r o l l i n g marbles down the network of s t o v e p i p e s , r a t t l i n g through the house, and would put crushed c i g a r e t t e b u t t s i n Knight's room, always bugging him, and a Playboy on h i s bed at the f o l d o u t , so A l l i e n e v er spoke t o Pred f o r weeks, and handed him h i s p l a t e w i t h h e r back turned, and once M i l l e r f i l l e d F r e d d i e ' s room w i t h crumpled papers, t o the c e i l i n g and the door, and when A l l i e came to c l e a n up, they b u r i e d h e r , so she threw Pred out by the ear, and C h a r l i e , and Hugh t o o , f o r some reason, probably because he laughed, though i t was j u s t f o r a time as he had paid i n advance, and they made i t up l a t e r . He spent t h a t time at CHAEMAIHE'S, d i d w e l l i n h i s exams, and perhaps she had, wit h the n i g h t window c u r t a i n b r e a t h i n g l a s t he saw h e r was then at h e r p l a c e w i t h h i s exams over and she h a v i n g one more to go, d r i n k i n g rum, smoke thought and s w i z z l e s t i c k , o f t e n s u g g e s t i n g work i n Borneo and such b l a c k matter, i f i t wasn't f o r snakes and i f i t wasn't f o r h e r t e a r eyes though not f o r him the t e a r s were on h e r cheek, maybe mostly t o wet a dark c o r n e r o f h e r h a i r , l o n g and calm as though n o t h i n g 15 c r i e d , and she, s m i l e d when f o r h i m s e l f and prove he wiped i t w i t h h i s palm below the thumb, she tugged h i s ear and s a i d she would see Hugh next f a l l , and t h a t was the a l l and l i t t l e way i t was between them. — t h e tenants Meanwhile the others were g e t t i n g drunk l i k e o l d gang of mine p a l s and f l a b - j a b b e r i n g had decided the f a u l t of a l l was f o r g e t t i n g f r i e n d s , so made a pledge, h o l d i n g t h e i r l e f t hands, w i t h the g l a s s e s i n t h e i r r i g h t , c r o s s e d under, t o a s t i n g . Hugh was s t i l l too much remembering to t o a s t not t o f o r g e t . Harry glowed w i t h the warmth of i t and s a i d he wished he c o u l d be going with them. "Say, why don't I d r i v e you down?" "You're t a l k i n g through your h a t , Harry. You can't do t h a t . " Monk shrugged h i s j a c k e t over h i s s h o u l d e r s . "That's a l l r i g h t , " C l a r k e s a i d , " w e ' l l make i t thumbing." "Well, you know I'd l i k e t o , but I can't l e a v e t h i s p l a c e . " "That's a l l r i g h t . " " I sure wish I had your o p p o r t u n i t y . " When they l e f t , H a r r y s a i d : "Say Hugh, get i n t o a f r a t t h i s year, boy. I t ' l l i n t r o d u c e you t o l i f e . " "Yum," he s a i d , but Hugh was doing a l i t t l e s h u f f l e , not l i s t e n i n g . "You t h i n k on i t . And C l a r k e , you keep s l u g g i n g . I want t o see you get ahead t h e r e . " " I ' l l do my b e s t . " "Ah, h e l l . " When they had gone a short way he c a l l e d 16 from the o f f i c e door. "Don't be d u l l J o h n n i e s , nowl" "We won't." I t was C l a r k e who answered. "As i f I needed t o t e l l you." The a i r was e v e r - f u l l and c o o l . Hugh l e p t , arms out, and bellowed. "Death to dimension I" "Hey, s h h h l " over the d i s t a n c e , " y o u ' l l wake up the t e n a n t s . " "Sorry, Harry, s o r r y . " "Good-bye a g a i n . " "Good-bye." Harry shook h i s head and c l o s e d the door. They went down the creek bed to Hugh's c a b i n and put an e x t r a mattress on the shack f l o o r f o r Malcolm. C l a r k e took the lower bunk, turned f a c i n g the w a l l , and p u l l e d the b l a n k e t s over h i s head. Hugh, by the n a i l s t h a t p i e r c e d the c e i l i n g , thought of h i t c h -h i k i n g tomorrow, and from h a b i t read from h i s c a l e n d a r with the s a y i n g s f o r each day, the one f o r the next, t h a t : "Beauty and f o l l y are o f t e n companions." F r a n k l i n had s a i d t h a t . People don't say t h i n g s l i k e t h a t nowadays, he thought, t h a t beauty maybe i s not i d e a l , thought of women,,: and s l e p t . 17 Departure — f r i e n d s a l o n g the way Hugh woke up, i t seemed immediately, at n i n e a.m. to the n o i s e of a thousand c h i r p i n g b i r d i e s and C l a r k e turn-turn and c l i c k i n g h i s tongue b e f o r e the m i r r o r , s t a r i n g at h i s comb from i n c h e s , running i t through h i s h a i r , P r i n c e t o n c u t , too short t o comb, f e e l i n g a h o l e i n h i s molar and then the h o l e i n the l e a t h e r patch on h i s elbow. Brown wasn't t h e r e and hadn't s l e p t on the m a t t r e s s . Hugh went down to the creek f o r a pee, s t i l l on weak l e g s and l e a n i n g on a scrappy p o p l a r t h a t he u s u a l l y watered i n mornings i n t h a t way, and found Monk, almost l e a k i n g on him. Monk l a y head down at the steep angle of the bank, h i s l e f t hand i n the water with a tadpole nudging i t . He looked he would launch any moment i n t o the creek. Hugh laughed, peeing the oth e r way, and k i c k e d Monk's f o o t t o wake him. Monk opened h i s eyes l i k e cocoons, l o o k i n g through webs at Hugh, and at h i s peeing; then got up and went t o the c a b i n . Malcolm and Hugh had packed the day b e f o r e , so while they waited f o r C l a r k e , Monk o f f e r e d a c i g a r e t t e and they smoked, s i t t i n g on the white-washed s t o n e s . In a row the stones were, l i n i n g the driveway, and Monk threw g r a v e l pebbles at the stones on the other s i d e . Then C l a r k e came, c l e a n l y cold-water ! shaven, h i s c o l l a r l o o k i n g l i k e i t had been shaven t o o , f r a y e d so threaded i t f l o a t e d l i k e l a c e as he walked w i t h a b l a c k s a t c h e l f a s t e n e d by a b e l t , and under h i s arm a c a r t o n of the new books he had bought t h a t summer. They caught the bus, w i t h C l a r k e s i t t i n g b e s i d e Hugh, 18 h o l d i n g h i s c a r t o n s t r a i g h t on h i s knees. Hugh t r i e d not t o l o o k at the ads above the window t h a t eyes are always drawn t o , except t h i s r i d e was so bumpy he was aided by an i n t e r e s t i n the s t u f f i n g coming out of the seat i n f r o n t of him and i n the g u r g l e , w i t h each j o l t , of Monk's c i d e r j u g , i n case they got t h i r s t y , u n t i l they were at Highway 11, and the road was paved. They got o f f at the j u n c t i o n , on the highway. A Dutchman r a n an e a t i n g p l a c e t h e r e , open a l l hours, and Malcolm f e l t he had t o have a b r e a k f a s t . The b u i l d i n g was of c o n c r e t e b l o c k s and had a pop s i g n r e a d i n g o n l y " E a t s " and a door t h a t banged behind them with a juke box on the r i g h t . Monk wanted f r i e d eggs and t o a s t and bacon, and Hugh had orange j u i c e t o f l u s h away the y e l l o w i n h i s mouth. The eggs s p l u t t e r e d and f a t smoked and t h e r e was grease and r u s t y t i n v e n t i l a t o r over wide assed madam cookee. There were two w a i t r e s s e s a l i k e young and t a r t as s t r a w b e r r i e s bouncing by and t w i s t i n g one w i t h a teamster f i s t e d y a c h t -h a t t e d guy who s w i r l e d and swung h e r o f f the f l o o r w i t h s k i r t r e d and orange t w i r l of c r i n o l i n e s . They bumped a t a b l e w i t h h e r bum and g i g g l e - l a r f i n g f e l l down on the s t o o l s , though one who slouched aslumber l i f t e d h i s head t o say, " C h r i s t : C h r i s t J e s u s C h r i s t i " : and slumped. At s t a l l back and below a window wash were f i v e : one middle aged w i t h t i e over h i s s h o u l d e r who paddle handed p u l l e d the ass buttocks to him of two cushy h i p f l a u n t out and j a u n t , rouge t i p p e d , h a i r ribboned sweetie t h i n g s , one which l i p quivered l i k e . r a w l i v e r w i t h l i t t l e t i t t e r i n g s and other, with f i r s t f i n g e r cleaned h e r ear and 19 s t u d i e d f i n g e r n a i l w h i l e f a t h e r proud head winked t i l t e d s a i d he c o u l d go no l e s s than s e v e n - f i f t y s ure, and the two men pretended t i l l he haggled. Three who were next Hugh, of moon s u r f a c e Sudbury, e a t i n g mouths of j e l l y donuts, s a i d they knew the pimp, as Monk's d u l l f o r k broke y o l k and a b l o o d spot ran and f l o a t e d i n the g r e a s e . They s a i d he s o l d h i s daughters to buy farm l a n d e s t a t e was n e c e s s a r y to l e a v e the e l d e s t son i n grander manner f a m i l y name, but one of these t h r e e had knowledge they weren't worth the p r i c e and took a donut b i t e l a u g h i n g so the crumbs blew through h i s t e e t h . Named Hans, Jack, and Tony, Jack s a i d " L i s t e n " q u i c k , and they doing, he l i f t e d up one s i d e h i s a r s e and l e t f l y a f a r t t o muster muckle l a u g h i n g then and i n s t a n t l y jumped, l e a n i n g on the counter, caught our c o t t o n aproned g i r l at unprepare-and tweaked h e r t i t , she l i p p e d "You" at him and f l i c k e d c o f f e e from h e r f i n g e r s , f a c e w i s e . Jack asked h e r go zooming south w i t h them, Why not? she had a boy f r i e n d , Don't you know! and c o u l d get tons l i k e him, and so s a y i n g k i t c h e n v a n i s h e d so t h a t Jack, b e l c h i n g , r o s e , and t a k i n g p l e n t y t o o t h p i c k s , plucked, and p a i d h i s b i l l . Monk asked how f a r they planned and they o f f e r e d a l i f t so gabble seated they mid c a r p a r t s and beer cases i n the b i g Yankee n i c k e l o d i a n u g l y f i f t i e s e ar i t was w i t h f e a t u r e s t i t s -on-a-board u s e l e s s , s t y l e d t o l o o k l i k e b r e a s t s and mighty p h a l l i c symbols s i l l i e d up i n s i d e with beaded c o r d , monkies on a s t r i n g , and a cardboard naked woman who scented pine sharp the i n t e r i o r . "Where the h e l l you guys g o i n 1 ? " and beer t h r u s t i n 20 Hugh's hand, Jack s a i d , "London! H e l l , w e ' l l take you t h e r e . We're goin' downta Vegas." Cla r k e sat i n the middle w i t h h i s legs spread round h i s c a r t o n of new books, and t r y i n g to use i t f o r a t a b l e , s p i l l e d h i s beer as the c a r went jogging swerve wheeze and zimming a l l was i n a tumble y e l l and whooping i n the f r o n t seat, Hans, Jack, and Tony, who had denims on, and t e e - s h i r t s . Hans i n the middle, up f r o n t , was youngest, and occupied w i t h opening up the beer, d i d i t w i t h Tony w i n d m i l l i n g swing and f l a p of arms and Jack d r i v e r g r i n n i n g and brake jamming swerves and f r o t h man i t was a l l the f u n , the w i n d s h i e l d dripped w i t h a l e . Jabber-nackey they a l s o constant and hundred miles long and joke l i k e one of woman c a r r o t masturbating through a h o l e i n the w a l l , who, when done, s l i c e d i t s n i c k e r o f f w i t h butcher k n i f e and a p t l y s a i d , "One, two, o f f w i t h you," which rhymed, w i t h punch l i n e coming that Tom peeping one day saw and s u b s t i t u t e d h i s i n the h o l e u n t i l she done s a i d , "One, two, o f f w i t h you," and that i t — a l s o other concerning Hubbard mother cupboard poor, who went f o r her poor dog t o get a bone, but when bent over, Rover drove her, since dog had h i s own bone. Gestures a l s o w i t h beer b o t t l e s to t h e i r chests or c r u t c h and h o l l e r , "Woo-woo! Look out l a d y ! Wow!" and looked back g r i n chuckle at them, speaking too of loves they had. Jack, i n the past month, had had a stacked twelve year o l d , a r i c h d i v o r c e e , and the mayor's w i f e and her maid together. They never asked how those i n the back seat had done. Hans passed out f o r the time being. Monk of f e r e d c i g a r e t t e s and then got t a l k i n g t o them. Tony s a i d , " I t e l l you Mack, we got i t made. We got the 21 w o r l d by t h e s h o r t h a i r s ' . 1 ' And J a c k , "Whoooppeeel" and d i d t h e Quebec heave from out t h e window, t h r o w i n g h i s b o t t l e o v e r t h e c a r t o p t o t h e d i t c h . They went sweeping down t h e road a t s e v e n t y p l u s , and t h e c a r was b u f f e t i n g . . "We been w o r k i n * a l l goddamn summer up N o r t h on c o n s t r u c t i o n , s a v i n g o ur dough, s e e . Now we're g o i n ' t o Las Vegas and make a f u c k i n * m i n t . We g o t t a p l a n s e e , and i t ' s a s u r e t h i n g , a s u r e t h i n g . " . "What p l a n ? " "Should we t e l l 'em J a c k ? " " S u r e , why n o t ? " "O.K. What p l a n , eh? T h i s Frenchman had t h e i d e a s e e . We go t o t h e r o u l e t t e w h e e l . We b e t on t h e r e d o r b l a c k , o r we b e t on t h e goddamn odds o r evens. I t don't m a t t e r cause t h e odds t o w i n a r e s t i l l f i f t y - f i f t y , s e e . Now, whatcha do i s , l i k e i f y o u r f i r s t b e t i s t e n b u c k s , t h e n i f ya l o s e ya b e t e l e v e n bucks t h e n e x t t i m e and i f ya w i n ya b e t n i n e . Now, ya do t h a t e v e r y t i m e . Ya b e t one more when ya l o s e and l e s s when ya w i n . I t works out s e e , i f you w i n f i v e t i m e s o u t t a t e n — y o u w i l l f o r s u r e — f i v e o u t t a t e n i s t h e odds. I t ' s a r i t h m e t i c . E v e r y t e n b e t s ya make h a l f what you f i r s t b e t w a s — f i v e b u c k s . You see t h a t ? " "That's n ot a l l . " J a c k added. "I'm t e l l i n ' i t . Yeah. The o n l y t h i n g can happen s e e , i f y o u're s h i t t e n u n l u c k y you can l o s e o v e r and o v e r s e e — l i k e say f i f t y t i m e s o u t t a f i f t y . W e l l , what we f i g u r e d out i s what we're g o i n t a do i s b e t on b o t h s i d e s a t once. Two guys. That 22 means we're winnin' t e n bucks every t e n times, and i f one guy l o s e s f i f t y times i n a row, the other guy wins. I betcha they s p i n the wheel about maybe once a minute we f i g u r e d . S i x t y times an hour. We win s i x times ten bucks a goddamn-Christly hour. S i x t y bucks an hour, eight hours, i s f o u r hundred and ei g h t y bucks a day. That's two thousand f o u r hundred bucks a week at f i r s t , see. We can make more a f t e r , but we got about two thousand bucks, so w i t h f i f t y d o l l a r bets and a one d o l l a r change each time, we can l o s e f i f t y times i n a row. That won't happen, though. Catch on what I mean? What d'you t h i n k ? " " Z o r t i And double 'A' c a l i b e r f a r t ! " Hugh s a i d . " S h i t ! " Tony g l a r e d , " I t ' l l work f o r sure!" He looked at C l a r k e . " I suppose so," Clarke moved a carburetor back behind the se a t . " I r e a l l y don't know anything about i t . " "No, I guess not. We'll make a m i l l i o n goddamn bucks. F i r s t I'm g o i n t a get a new set of wheels, ka-da-voom, w i t h a l l the e x t r a s . A whole set of c l o t h e s . A gold sports jacket w i t h my i n i t i a l s i n m a r o o n — r i g h t here. Can you see me walking down the s t r e e t , c i g a r , broad under each arm., 'Light me up, d o l l . ' and she l i g h t s my c i g a r . Another one to c a r r y a l i t t l e case w i t h booze i n i t . " "Hey boy!" He shook Hans. "Whattaya say to t h a t , eh?" "I'm a l l f o r i t boy. I'm a l l f o r i t . " "You can say that again." Jack s h i f t e d i n h i s seat. "Ber-u-ther! That's f o r me. No more workin'. S h i t ! i n the w i n t e r i t ' s dark when you go t o work and dark when you go home. Never see the sun. A i n ' t r i g h t . I ' l l take the beach w i t h a case 23 of b e er and a b i k i n i any day." C l a r k e p u l l e d h i s l e g s t o one s i d e of h i s c a r t o n of books; rubbed h i s c a l v e s . "You'd soon get t i r e d of i t . " "Whatta h e l l ! How'd you know?" "I know there'd be no s a t i s f a c t i o n i n i t . " "Sure t h e r e would," Tony s a i d , "we'd get a broad t o s a t i s f y us every n i g h t , eh, Jack." "Good enough,"Monk s a i d , and laughed. C l a r k e cleaned h i s g l a s s e s on h i s s h i r t t a i l . "Perhaps you're r i g h t Malcolm. I have never e x i s t e d i n such a s t a t e of s t u p o r . " "What's t h a t b u l l s h i t ! That's c r a p ! You're the k i n d a guy gets married and spends the r e s t a h i s l i f e hangin' onta h i s w i f e ' s ass t i l l he t h i n k s t h e r e a i n ' t n o t h i n g e l s e but h e r ass i n the world, and he's q u i v e r i n g s h i t every time he turns h i s back t h a t s h e ' s . g o i n t a get h e r s e l f banged." Monk laughed h i s s p e c i a l laugh f o r times l i k e when you were caught w i t h your f l y open, t h a t sounded l i k e a b a l l - b e a r i n g r o l l i n g , c l u n k , c l u n k , c l u n k , down h o l l o w s t a i r s , and made Hugh count to see how many steps t h e r e would be. "You don't have t o take i t so p e r s o n a l l y . " "You guys..." Jack swung wide around t o the back s e a t , l u r c h i n g the wheel so they missed the d i t c h by i n c h e s . G r a v e l c l a t t e r e d l i k e on a s t e e l b a r r e l . A d a n d e l i o n . He got back to t h e white l i n e . There had been one b i g d a n d e l i o n i n the d i t c h . I t a l i a n s p i c k these and eat them. "You guys are from u n i v e r s i t y , eh?" "Yes."-2k " I thought so. You guys give me a pain i n the ass. You know what I mean—no o f f e n s e — h u t t h a t ' s what I think." 1 Hugh drank t h e i r l a s t beer. He needed to p i s s . Beer made him need to p i s s a l o t . They were hungry too, so decided to go o f f the road at the next town. I t was a s m a l l town, the main s t r e e t only a few blocks l o n g . They parked, and walked down the sidewalk w i t h Hans and h i s f r i e n d s a few steps ahead. An o l d tramp came toward them, head down, dangling h i s arms. He muttered and limped and f l i p p e d a f a l s e l e g forward w i t h a c l i c k each step. He saw them and stopped l i k e walking i n t o a fence, t o t t e r i n g back and not muttering u n t i l they were a l o n g s i d e . Then he stepped i n t h e i r way, l i f t e d a f i n g e r of wood: "Say boys." "Get outta the way, ya o l d scarecrow." Tony went to push him, but he avoided i t , f a l l i n g or l e a n i n g backward at a marvelous angle. He took a p o s i t i o n on t h e i r f l a n k and c l i c k e d along with them. "You boys from town?" Hans answered, "No." "Just p a s s i n ' through, eh. W e l l , good l u c k f e l l o w s . " He took Hans' hand, shaking i t good l u c k . They stopped, and watched him look at them, limp shouldered, rubbing an ear up and down against h i s c o l l a r , as though t r y i n g to s t i m u l a t e some f e e l i n g . He stank. "Well, I want to wish you a l l the l u c k , boy," he hobbled toward Hugh, and put a carved hand on h i s shoulder, " a l l the l u c k . " 25 Hugh wished he would go. The tramp k e p t e y e i n g him, c o r n e r l y , s p e c u l a t i n g . He had a h a t , l i k e rummage, and he p u l l e d i t back on h i s head. One s o c k e t was e y e l e s s . There was no p a t c h — a b a r e h o l e — - a n d , i t l o o k e d g e l a t i n o u s and t o be m o i s t i f you t o u c h e d . Hugh t h o u g h t , i n s t e a d of h i s b e a r d , a g r e y c i r c l e — l i k e a n c i e n t of d a y s — i t was s t r i k i n g , and s t r a n d s c l u n g t o t h e mouth, s t u c k i n h i s t e e t h . He t o o k a s t e p b ack, s t i l l r e e k i n g . "You know, I a i n ' t had a b i t e a l l day. Say, have you g o t a q u a r t e r you c o u l d l o a n me?" J a c k s a i d : "You l o o k dead Mack. Why don't you go away and d i e ? " "Now i s t h a t any way t o t a l k ? I s t h a t any way?" "Who asked t o t a l k t o you, e h ? " No answer. " W e l l , g e t t h e h e l l o u t t a h e r e . " Monk asked what he wanted t h e q u a r t e r f o r . He was p u z z l e d , b l i n k e d h i s one eye. "You l o o k l i k e a good bunch of f e l l o w s . I can t e l l . " "What do you want t h e q u a r t e r f o r ? " "Do you know what?" "What?" He p o i n t e d down t h e s t r e e t , f e l l i n t e r e s t e d i n h i s f i n g e r a while_, t h e n : "Those damn guys. They k i c k e d me out."' "Out of where?" "What do you want t h e q u a r t e r f o r ? " "They th o u g h t I d i d n ' t have money. D i d n ' t even l e t me s i t down. You'd t h i n k t h e y ' d s e r v e you f i r s t , t o f i n d out i f 26 you had any money, f i r s t . I wanted a d r i n k i s a l l . They k i c k e d me out." "Out of the pub?" "Say f e l l o w s , i f I had some money I'd get i n t h e r e . I'd s i t down and get a d r i n k from those beggars." "Where's the b e e r p a r l o u r ? " asked Tony;; . "I'd get i n t h e r e a l l r i g h t . " "Where the h e l l i s the b e e r p a r l o u r ? " "Eh?" "The beer p a r l o u r ! You s t u p i d b a s t a r d ! " "Down the s t r e e t t h e r e . You can see i t . " Hugh gave him a q u a r t e r and t r i e d to walk o f f w i t h the o t h e r s . "Say," he had Hugh's arm, "thanks a l o t son. I want to say thanks a l o t . " ' "That's O.K." He h e l d on. "Say, c o u l d I t r o u b l e you f o r a c i g a r e t t e . I haven't had..." "I don't smoke."1 "That's too bad. I c o u l d use a c i g a r e t t e . " "Look. L e t ' s c a t c h up t o them." "You g o i n ' eh?" "Aren't you c oming?" "They won't l e t me i n there."" "Show them the q u a r t e r . " "Say, l i s t e n son." He squinted the one eye. "I used to do a l l r i g h t you know.. Had my own p l a c e j u s t o u t s i d e of Toronto." "Is t h a t r i g h t . W e l l , I have t o go." 27 "I'm too o l d f o r work now. I would, but they won't g i v e me work." "We l l , I'm g o i n g . Are you coming?" "Me? No.* He looked at the q u a r t e r i n h i s palm and Hugh got h i s arm f r e e and walked away. The tramp shouted: " Y o u ' l l get t h i s back m i s t e r . Y o u ' l l get t h i s back." When Hugh caught up, C l a r k e was t r y i n g t o get them to go t o a r e s t a u r a n t . They wouldn't so he took t h e i r orders and money b e f o r e they went i n and then asked Hugh t o c r o s s the s t r e e t i f they t r i e d t o l e a v e without him. The pub was i n a h o t e l c a l l e d the Old Pine Inn. The s i g n above the door t o the c o c k t a i l room read, The Bower. The c e i l i n g timbers showed and t h e r e were wagon wheels l a s h e d up w i t h l i g h t f i x t u r e s t o l o o k l i k e kerosene lamps. Two t r e e s grew through the room, the trun k s i n the room. There were f l o w e r s : i n b r a s s p o t s . Grass and d a i s i e s were p a i n t e d on the lower boards of the w a l l , and up h i g h e r , c l o u d s . Between the pine boards of the f l o o r t h e r e were c r a c k s t h a t the d i r t squeezed out of when you walked. There were no a i s l e s between the t a b l e s so th e y had t o z i g - z a g t h e i r way al o n g and Hugh t r i p p e d on.one of the b i g s t e e l f e e t of the t a b l e s and knocked some paper c o a s t e r s o f f t h a t had the s t u p i d d a i s i e s on them t o o . Hugh bought some c i g a r e t t e s from a machine, f o r t y c e n t s , a f t e r punching a l l the buttons and k i c k i n g i t , l i t a c i g a r e t t e and went to t h e i r t a b l e , n o t i c i n g h i s stomach f e l t f u l l of b o u l d e r s . The t a b l e was by one of the t r e e s . There was gum on 28 the trunk and he picked some o f f and looked at i t , t h i n k i n g t o chew i t mayhe, l i k e you do t a r , but o n l y s n i f f e d , i t reminded him of a p i e c e of amber he had seen i n geology c l a s s , red l i k e the eye i n the middle' of a god's forehead should be, w i t h a f o s s i l bug caught i n i t p e r f e c t and wings spread r e s t i n g ready to go l i k e a genie i n a b o t t l e o l d they say f o r g e t t i n g the number of years o l d e r than Adam. There was , gum a l l over t h e t r e e . The t r u n k c a s t a shadow, a heavy r e c t a n g l e a c r o s s t h e i r t a b l e and over t o and up the w a l l l i k e a stone. They were a l l hungry and ate p r e t z e l s and Hugh drank o n l y beer, c r a c k i n g p r e t z e l s and dunking them. Monk and they were t a l k i n g b a s e b a l l -he drank and they got on the t o p i c , t h i s Tony, of how at a b a s e b a l l game he met these t h r e e dogs but h i s pocket was shrunk or h i s hand s w o l l e n he c o u l d n ' t get i t i n i t i n had t o stand up d r i v e the c h a i r back Jack s a i d O.K., i t was h i s round put h i s money on the t a b l e the w a i t e r plunked i t down dogs w i t h a case of t h e u g l i e s Jack c a l l e d them eouldn't stand to l o o k at them Hugh's ass was wet and the seat hard t o f a l l i n t o l i f t e d h i s head to l i s t e n t o Tony missed i t was a l l over t o t e l l from the l a u g h t e r the w a i t e r came a l r e a d y he thought t o p i s s i t out as f a s t as he brought i t d i d he f o r g e t he had h i s n i c k e l now on the t a b l e t o f i n g e r w h i l e Monk was t e l l i n g when would C l a r k e come w i t h the sandwiches of once o n l y C l a r k e out w i t h Monk, double d a t i n g , h i s g i r l cheesed o f f , C l a r k e so lamb, u n t i l wine got him drunk f o r the f i r s t time not Hugh who i t o n l y made s l e e p y cheesed too and p r e t z e l s as C l a r k e ' s g i r l 29 making a Monk play t h i s guy by the wall alone drinking with a black hat on the table and ended i n her doing a s t r i p a babe on T.V. was contorting h i s n i c k e l i n beer Clarke l o s t h i s head ate a pretzel completely l o s t i t and went f o r her headless Monk finished Hugh needed to go and could walk a very straight l i n e indeed. — t h e time of the axe Hugh thought i t would be just a leak...but he stood at the thing three (3) weeks or four hundred times t h i s Giant next him head sepArate (Sp.) huGe went DinG 400 times l i k e a gas-pump when you f i l l i t up Haw! HawI h i s own head was l i k e a pumpkin-0 seeing "phosphoresence" l i k e (tight-shut-eyes) a f t e r sunlight...so he thought i f 'e could force a smile 'e would be Jack-o-Lantern he smiled, looking down, and feared i t might f a l l o ff and crack i n Humpty-Dump s h e l l chunKs HE, the Giant, slapped h i s back 'e thought better to s i t on the Can i t took two hands on the l a t c h but 'e locked - c l i c k - i t with h i s pants on the f l o o r Lord! 'e was asleep no with ' i s head and arms on ' i s knees because ' i s head was hollow and had a PoPulationa-bobble of i t s own of hoVering and daRting odds-and-thens with eyes closed, there was on bottom o l i v E coloURed Poam t h i s guy s t i l l slapped ' i s back with these BOOM steps SlaPPing the t i l e l i t t l e white heXagons of his head insid e the o l i v e foam sWelled BilloWed so that 'e concentrated uP where an iridescent f i s h slipped by on the PeripherY through nets and eyeballs swiveled follow "thro' a Land of Men & Women too" why are a l l cans ice cold? with windows open wide you smell 30 the urine Booming to follow at the corner fuchsia l e t t e r s marching by that spelled Trade Names and sleep the way home some guy looked over the top at 'im said "You keep i t . You're worse off than me." 'e saw puke on the f l o o r Booming ' i s pants were wet right where ' i s eyes were some guy had carved not the usual crap but a grave stone stupid ass R.I.P. Van Winkle you do rest a f t e r a piece the door banged a f t e r a piece booming and 'e saw brown oxfords (U.) under the panel clopping boots... feet farmer plow along his ox f i e l d road and hedge where on the other side a barefoot boy cracked nuts pup ate the s h e l l s a white f l e c k looking l i k e b i r d i n s i d e ' i s eye f a l l i n g to mud a scurry mole and wonder horsed knights courts f i n e l a d i e s and fat ones arrows amulets guitars and rooster miracled hooded figured sourcerers innkeeps and dusty m i l l s books prayers precipitous scales brass pots policementpleas and pardons written out of enchanted planet palaces and kings, giants dwarfs and rings, a l l c r e t i n healthy wretched j o l l y wasted, 'e thought the world was there where fireworks and applecores and f l i e s , a l l wanton i n whichness, fa n t a s t i c and confused, except he thought a minute saw perimeter e l l i p t i c a l and movement from the center out u n t i l at edge evaporating i n a swi r l of colours scented reappearing at the center metamorphosed, and with h i s head and arms on knees 'e saw t h i s HoRRoR guy 'e visionary saw sometimes at marble night waking dead to pee see leaning the v i s i o n of big Zero-truth usually abstract, no, Obtuse! the Relative Significance! Ooohh, i n a l l things, the Boom and the Fury How •e Lord HaTeD ' i t ' wake up quick so-fast, or 'e would put ' i s 31 head down i n the Pot f o r good not when awake down i n i t , Rather than never l i k e that s t r i d i n g Hamlet's Father's Ghost may be f o s s i l old Hallow no Hollow eyed pale-pale 'head' and straight on Ever l i k e CaTeRPillaR t r a v e l never turning Stare-mOUth Open i t said "UGH, UGH'." Booming'. What a Thing! C h r i s t ! i f 'e should die before 'e wakes, the can door, It walked through, to stop, Great Hands! l i k e primitive Clubs! before 'e wakes, Palms up AGAPE "GET THE HELL OUT OP HERE!" BOOMING!! Eye-Hollow, and emPty, God^Save me! He was going Ignorant right over me "with hear and see such dreadful things" dragging behind him red a-twit-twit wagon wheeled a minute c h i l d with .lenses numbering every nerve s i l l y wearing horns and r i d i n g with a host dark fiend of worshippers behind i n bands arrayed candles and lanterns bringing solemnly and gone Thank God Before 'e wakes . followed by tender woman breasted warm dressed i n dancing flame and raindrop showered a l l unquenched and v e i l e d dear so close why she 'e never saw who kneeled, prayed too, f o r him, before 'e wakes of sounds unheard though l i s t e n close close l i s t e n close sired by a whisper f r e s h l y close of tragedy and death to bleeding harsh bring for t h give b i r t h give b i r t h Good God! a Hammer Pisted c h i l d she gave b i r t h and axe-c a r r i e r Dashed to Wholeness a l l that i s created garlanded i n grapes oh what against a wall of d i r t y epigrams can be t h i s a l l i n one axe l o ! dear Oh 'e believes, yes, Hosanna! f a i r b l i s s f u l meek and excellent and pounding wee Leah son Hosanna 'e believes! h i s l i l y flowing healing-sword bearer come before 'e wakes there would be nothing f o r t h e i r sakes !e believes 32 What? gone stone head dear on h i s knees i s a l l he remembered the hours. — f r i e n d s l o s t along the way Clarke came into the can to help him out of there and i n the mirror Hugh saw as they passed, he was a straggling Hun i n A t t i l a ' s dust, with a hunk of h a i r l i k e mad horn from h i s head's side . Clarke helped him to the table by the tree that g l i t t e r e d golden l i g h t from beer spots, and re f l e c t e d carpingly the faces of the inner Hans, Jack, and Tony, now with two women i n t h e i r l a t e r t h i r t i e s lush, earnest, knowing one a l l t a l k and f l i t t i n g brows, a l l s t i r r i n g drinks and l i g h t i n g cigarettes and never stopping but the other of platinum h a i r smiled f o r Hugh, at his s i c k l i n e s s , saying how pale he was, that he should go to bed, and he r e p l i e d that i t was nothing, he looked l i k e that at a l l times. Then Tony explained that Hugh was just one of those they had picked up, univ e r s i t y kids, and she asked what was Hugh going to be. He said a bum, to be funny, but her eyes looked blue question seconds u n t i l Tony, asking, she guessed the number of the pints he'd had, which was twenty-seven, i t never bothering him and he never having had a hangover. Hugh noticed that she wore gold ear-rings. He had not thought of ear-rings, cup-shaped, and her ears were f i n e . Clarke had bought h i s hamburger long ago, though now Hugh didn't want i t , and the coffee was c o l d . She said she'd l i k e the burger. "Oh yes! May I?" a l l twinkled up, and ate i t f i n g e r -tippedly, and Jack's g i r l of arm length h a i r had b i t e s , her 33 face oak dark she spoke to say that she was starving. Jack said they should a l l go out to eat, h i s g i r l ' s red scarf round her neck, tucked by her dark veins, that made Hugh think off on gypsy c r u c i b l e grinding apothecary's p r e s c r i p t i o n , though she was not l i k e that she said s t r a i g h t l y they might go to t h e i r apartment and cook supper, which, pleasing Jack, God damn i t , sent d i r e c t l y Hans to get the money from the car and buy some bottles and steaks before the stores would close. Clarke turned from the T.V. to say maybe h i s group should leave as i t would soon be dark out, Monk asked i f Jack s t i l l meant to give them a ride and Jack said, " H e l l , relax, yes." He said they would be going i n an hour or so which was a long time without Hugh had a bed, just with closed eyes and l i s t e n i n g her laugh sometimes. Hans managed back soon with two brown paper bags and they a l l got up, f i n a l l y leaving the h a l l of d a i s i e s . Tony offered to take the bags and took the groceries, but wanted the booze too. Hans said f o r s h i t ' s sake he could carry i t . Tony repeated he'd take the booze and pulled at the bag again, but not succeeding he f i n a l l y said, "God damn i t , you can't come. There are only two broads, f o r Christ's sake! Can't you count!" and Hans counted. There were two. S t i l l he said he'd keep the whiskey. Tony shouldered him. They were a l l stopped and stupid round about and needing a i r . Tony wanted the money as well . "What?" "Gimme the money!" "Why?" 34 " I ' l l give you some to buy a b o t t l e . " He gave the parcels to Jack and reached inside Hans' pocket. It was t h e i r gambling stake. They struggled f o r i t . Hans f e l l , knocking h i s head on the yellow table d a i s i e s , and sprawling on the f l o o r . Jack looked a l l wonder close i f he was O.K., and thinking Yes, took the money and parcels and asked, "Would you guys take Hans to the car?" which Monk and Clarke did and Hugh said good-bye to the ear-ringed g i r l , and t i l l e y - v a l l e y - h o o , and got into the back seat car-parts, books, and c i d e r thinking how markable quiet Hans was to sleep i n fr o n t , and very next thing was they shook and got Hugh up and took t h e i r things, the gurgle c i d e r jug s t i l l . Hans was a l o g . They t o l d Hugh i t was three hours they had waited, dark now. They'd found the others, b l i n d stoned. Jack, who'd been sleeping i n a park across from where the car was, t o l d them they'd been r o l l e d , spat blood from a beating by some large chunk-muscle the g i r l s had pimping f o r them, when they t r i e d to break the god-damned door down. He would t e l l the cops, Jack s a i d . So Monk l e t him bum two bucks which need was not to be pinched f o r vagrancy. The cops f o r sure, but f i r s t he would have a snooze with Tony, and they l e f t them park sleeping there with a monument to the unknown s o l d i e r and walked, i n f i l e , out of that town. — t h e mighty tree there'd be They had walked too f a r from the i n t e r s e c t i o n where the town road met the highway, and now there were no l i g h t s . The moon was big and i t was fine f o r walking, but i t was not good 35 f o r h i t c h - h i k i n g . The night a i r , though, and the sleep, refreshed Hugh. He wished he had kept h i s hamburger. Monk led the way with h i s b o t t l e slung over h i s shoulder. "We'll never get a l i f t now. I t ' s too damn l a t e . " He thought they were too many to be hitch-hiking, so when the next car came Hugh hid i n the ditch before they thumbed. The car passed. "You cheap bugger!"! Monk yell e d through h i s cupped hands. "I c e r t a i n l y do wish," Clarke said, "they wouldn't pretend to be looking the other way." "Do you, c e r t a i n l y ? " " D e f i n i t e l y . " "Ho-hum." Monk r o l l e d h i s eyebrows up, baring his, i n c i s o r s . "Yeah, looking the other way," Hugh said. "It's as i f he had farted and was covering up." "These days every bloody bo-hick and snooty creep has a car." Monk chewed the words. "A few hundred years ago they'd a l l be starving peasants and never dream of owning so much as a horse. There's more cars per person than there were horses. And we'd belong to the c l e r i c a l estate, well fed and esteemed. I f we were hitch-hiking coaches-and-six with a load of a r i s t o c r a t s I could understand, being a simple slob, I wouldn't mind getting run down l i k e a Tale of Two C i t i e s Frenchman. Nowadays every arsehole i s h i s own royal family." He threw a stone at a road sign. "Say, why are we walking, anyway? There i s n ' t a l i g h t f o r miles." Clarke sat on his box of books. Hugh took out h i s 36 t r a n s i s t o r and tuned i n a l o c a l s t a t i o n . It was western music, doi-oi-a-doi-doi i n the night. Crickets were better. "Why don't we sleep here tonight?" "On the road?" Clarke demanded. "In the grass." Hugh was s t i l l s i t t i n g i n the d i t c h . "What a n i g h t i Twas on a night l i k e this...Does the night spin "That's a l l right mister, don't pick us upi" Monk continued. "What are you speaking about now, Hugh?" "Does the night spin?" "Race home to your l i t t l e nook of p i l e - i t - u p . Put not your f a i t h i n gold alone!" "Ho, that's not what I mean. I t ' s not that the night spins. I t ' s that the earth breathes. At night i t inhales." "Give up the love of family!" Monk was standing, making abrupt marches here and there. "Betray your f r i e n d s ! Lose i n d i v i d u a l i t y ! Porget p r i n c i p l e ! Honour! Paith. A l l f o r your crummy p i l e - i t - u p . " "Hey Clarke! Don't you f e e l 'er inhale? C'mon earth, give 'er h e l l ! " "Junk!" Monk screamed, th r u s t i n g h i s great f i n g e r at Hugh, so that he thought, "Ya got me." "That's what i s , junk. They grovel and die for t h e i r l i t t l e hole i n a box, encompassed to the roof with junk. Pack r a t s . Wish I had some of i t . " There was a s i l e n c e . "That was quite the company we l e f t behind," Clarke said Hugh caught a f i r e f l y . "Hey look." He climbed out of 37 the d i t c h . "Sort of funny, having an arse that glows i n the dark." He l e t the f l y go and i t blinked i t s way across the road. "Why does a f i r e f l y cross the road?" "Ah," Clarke pulled up h i s sock, "because there i s a whole new marvellous world on the other side." "Or may be." Malcolm rubbed his nose. "Off the road." Hugh added, "Go roadless West, young man." Another s i l e n c e . "Seriously," Clarke returned to h i s topi c , "I cannot comprehend how anyone can find s a t i s f a c t i o n i n a purchased sexual partner. It eludes me e n t i r e l y . " "You pay f o r i t one way or another," Monk sa i d . "I'm c e r t a i n I would loath that sort of sex." "Ridiculous." "Is a l l the l i t e r a t u r e of love r i d i c u l o u s ? " "Yes." "I f a l l i n love a l l the time," Hugh said, "indiscriminately. A face on a bus, a n i f t y bum at a dance, a g i r l eating across from me at a c a f e t e r i a , and I'm i n love. Usually I want to make my pecker a part of them, but there's d i f f e r e n t kinds, d i f f e r e n t flavours. I t ' s r e a l though; I r e a l l y want to get to know them." "Ridiculous." So Hugh said: "Geeze, remember old A l i c e . When she gave you porridge i n the winter she'd say, 'There, t h a t ' l l keep your pecker up*." "She couldn't figure out why we were laughing," Monk remembered. 38 "Usually though, i t ' s faces I f a l l i n love with." "Ah, love i s self-deception, an excess, e v i l . Like junk, an acquirement." "Faces." The clouds were s i l l y porridge. The wind was long i n the moon and tussle-lonely i n the wilderness forest of a gone age off the road. Glarke began a game that they had played that summer. You said a word and the other t r i e d to define i t i n a way h a l f true, but d i f f e r e n t . For instance, i f at that moment the Word was 'junk', the d e f i n i t i o n might have been, 'Our dearly beloved.' 'Tree' was the word Clarke chose. It was not a good word f o r the game, and Hugh said he would have to think. He thought f i r s t that: If a l l the trees i n the world were one tree, What a mighty tree there'd bei and said: " H e l l , I'm no good at t h i s game. I'm not quick thinking." "Well, t r y . " "I can think of things but they don't make any sense. Not t r i c k y l i k e they should be." "Oh, go ahead." "Ahhh!" He thought, and said: "O.K. then. A tree i s t r u e — o u r l i f e vein." He didn't say that he had thought t h i s up before, but that was f a i r . "We are f i l l e d with each other, the tree with me and I with i t . Tree i s l o v e l i e r , I think, than I s h a l l ever see a poem, because a l i v i n g poemness only p a r t i a l f o o l made by the godness, We. Treeness i s t a l l happy, or woodenly watching the flame. Treeness i s grandfather t a l e s 39 and f i r e c h e s t n u t s , and t o f a l l out of t r e e s , t o o , b r e a t h k n u c k l e d out of y o u . I t i s gr e e n e v e r young, o l d e r t h a n d y n a s t i e s . T r e e n e s s i s Washington-memory, C h r i s t - s o n c r u c i f i e d , Noah's A r k , f a m i l y t r e e s , r o o t s and s u c h , and more." — f u r t h e r "What t h e h e l l ? " Malcolm.;' p u l l e d a c i g a r e t t e out of h i s pack. "What a r e you? The a r t i s t - p o e t . A r e you p r e a c h i n g , t e a c h i n g , o r g e t t i n g p r e p a r e d t o p i s s ? A t r e e i s a woody p l a n t w i t h a main t r u n k t h a t g e n e r a l l y a t t a i n s a h e i g h t of a t l e a s t t e n f e e t . " He l i t t h e c i g a r e t t e w i t h a c l i c k of t h e l i g h t e r . " C l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s t h e b a s i s of knowledge," Clarke;. ; added. "Yes, of f a c t . P a c t i s God. Don't be h e r e t i c a l . That s i g n i s God! See t h a t s i g n ! " The s i g n r e a d : $50.00 FINE F o r Throwing T r a s h Oh- Highway "That i s the C h r i s t i a n commandment, my boy. I t i s e s s e n t i a l and r i g h t t h a t we l o v e t r a s h , f o r o u r economy, our w o r l d , i s based on t h e manuf a c t u r e o f t r a s h — a n d t h e g r e a t e r t h e p e r c e n t a g e of our produce i s garbage, t h e r i c ; h e r we a r e and t h e more work t h e r e i s , and you know i t i s " n o t o n l y unseemly, b u t u n c h r i s t i a n n o t t o work, w h i c h today bequeaths t o mankind t h e supreme l u x u r y , t h e r i g h t t o u n l i m i t e d w a s t e f u l n e s s . We ma n u f a c t u r e a r t i c l e s p lanned t o be soon a n t i q u a t e d , b r o k e n , d i s c a r d e d , o r u s e l e s s . " 40 "You mean," asked Hugh, " l i k e the l a t e s t rock-and-roll-hero-joe sweat s h i r t s and Piss-On-You-Maok towels made i n the U.S. of A." "Made right here." He pointed to the d i r t . "Mass produced trash aspirations and dreams s p e c i a l l y f i t t e d to sui t any shape head. In short, my boy, t h i s f i n e road i s a ribbon of divine garbage leading to a kitchen-midden answer to an archaeologist's prayer." Hugh wondered i f i t was t e c h n i c a l l y possible to be fined-i f some trash he was carrying i n his pockets, and he checked and found spme, happened to f a l l out when he was struck by a car. He said: " G r i l l i a ' s a poor place to hitch-hike. I've been stuck there h a l f a dozen times. Maybe i t ' s because there's always been a nut-house there and they think you've just escaped. People always asked i f you came from O r i l l i a , when they wanted to be clever about calling you crazy. They don't now. There are mental hospitals everywhere now." They had picked up t h e i r luggage and were walking again. Headlights approached and Hugh hid i n the d i t c h . The ear stopped. The d r i v e r was i n h i s s i x t i e s . He turned off the radio when they got i n . "What were you doing i n the ditch? Are you a l l r i g h t ? " "We thought there would be a better chance of a l i f t i f i t looked l i k e there were only two of us," Hugh told him. "Hal I saw you a mile back. You shouldn't do that. I thought there Was a f i g h t . Almost didn't stop." "We didn't r e a l i z e i t would have that e f f e c t , " Clarke 41 apologized. "Have you been on the road long?" "Since about nine. We're dead." "Where you going?" "London." "I'm going to Windsor. I ' l l drop you." "That»s great." "Do you want to sleep?" "I do," Monk sa i d . "Oh. I l i k e to t a l k when I drive. Keeps me awake." "Well, i f . . . " "No, no. I ' l l turn on the radio. W i l l i t keep you awake?" " I t ' l l put me to sleep," Hugh said, and put h i s head on the arm r e s t . Out the window, the telephone poles r u f f l e d by l i k e cards over a thumb. His stomach was s t i l l weak and i t made him dizzy. Eyes closed, he could hear the t i r e s , and when he t r i e d , the music. He wondered i f Charmaine was s t i l l i n London. Roundelay f o r Fowls —prump Time l a t e r , i t happened, i n London on Dundas, They thinking i t a how town now (though what that i s was uncertain) and forsaken, i t happened, that as erstwhile they were wont, Professor Leighton and good fellow C a l l , as they were wont of an evening, to make merry, though i t was d e v i l i s h d i f f i c u l t i n that non-jolly tavern, which Leighton bethought was i n s i p i d l y cleped The Barnyard, i n s i p i d l y , sure, sooth to say, t h e i r j o l l i e s were sparse i n the gleaning under such impediment as the d r i z z l e and Percy's olden tyme auto of England that was obstinately adverse to being properly parked, nevertheless and notwithstanding they would leave i t , and i f need be, move i t l a t e r . Such was the weight and the circumstance that evening, of t h e i r winter-cares which they came to o b l i t e r a t e , Percy and his drink-worthy comrade, C a l l , cherub-cheeked, who chuckle outwardly courted the damsel, Rena. Rena was her f i r s t name, Rena, and Leighton was at a loss to r e c a l l her l a s t . I t had f l e d h i s mind, though r i g h t l y he knew she was the Ph.D. student C a l l supervised. And he thought that she was not young, c e r t a i n l y . Hoi Ho! the gates, h a i l the stewart. Ahh, the display cases were decked with photos of breast-voiced l o v e l i e s where have they a l l gone? to picture books mayhap also and v e r i l y , said Percy to himself, he was e s p e c i a l l y proud that night of wifey newly won, but three months wed, sure, f a i r v i r t u e she, though a wee wanton with him nightwise which was as i t should be, d e f i n i t e l y He would have i t no other way. "Enter, my dear." Red green red neon green red carbuncle complexion of Master C a l l , and nose pendulous Ahh, but a fascinating ugliness and Rena's h a i r i s menstrual blood colour ...matching a good pa i r then. "You might have waited a moment, my dear, u n t i l I could help you off with your coat." he got a hat check yellow p l a s t i c tag with twenty nine f o r fob pocket not to lose track of nary a moment. "I was just t e l l i n g Helga what a becoming behind she has," said C a l l , grinning so that h i s nose puffed even more red, and the pimples even more white. "Indeed I f i n d i t so. Pinch-interesting." "Let's s i t here," said Rena. "Gee, what's the hurry Rena? I was just about to have my behind pinched." The arborite tables along the wall were bound by snake fences of old wood. Wood chips were on the f l o o r . They sat at one end of the table, facing the musicians. "Say, look who the drummer i s ! " "Who i s he?" Helga asked. "It's one of my students, my love. Charles Herald. He's i n the V i c t o r i a n section. I never knew he was a drummer boy. S t i l l , I suppose everyone i s capable of something." "I can think of something at which he looks capable." Rena's tongue protruded just a l i t t l e , "hmmm, yes." :"My, my. What i s that, Rena?" the professor asked. "I don't recognize him from anywhere," C a l l gaped. "He's i n the class you came i n on, Jack, remember. The one that asks such i d i o t i c questions t r y i n g to impress me. He chats with the g i r l s at the back of the room the entire hour and asks a question now and then to make me think he's l i s t e n i n g . " "No, I don't remember." "Lord! How could you miss? Well, perhaps, perhaps you could, yes. That's such a group of dolts that even he's not too conspicuous." . Helga leaned low across the table to her husband. "Do you have a l i g h t please?" "Heavens, I'm sorry,, my love." "Here." C a l l struck a match. "Ho. I want him to l i g h t i t . " "Now why i s that?" He withdrew the hat check and put i t on the table, a p a i r of f i n g e r n a i l c l i p p e r s , a p l a s t i c tube. "What the dickens i s that?" Rena poked the tube. "A coin tube. I'm a numismatist. I t ' s one of the best possible investments." "Yes." Helga nodded. "You know what a coin's l i k e when 45 i t ' s brand new?" "Uh-huh." "You keep looking f o r your l i g h t e r . " "I know I put i t i n my pocket when I came out." "That's c a l l e d b r i l l i a n t - u n c i r c u l a t e d condition. When a coin's l i k e that i t s value increases about a hundred per-cent per year. You keep them i n these tubes to protect them." "Oh." "I knew I had i t . Here you are." It didn't l i g h t . "Damn i t , out of f l i n t . " "Oh, f o r p i t y sake, Helga," C a l l pleaded, "why not use mine?" " A l l right then, thank you." "Oh no you don'Jb, love. Now you've put me through a l l t h i s you can wait u n t i l I f i n d a l i g h t . " The waitress came. She wore overalls and a straw bat. Her white blouse implied the f l e s h beneath i t . " I ' l l have vermouth." "A sidecar." "Rum and coke." "Tom-Collins, i f you don't mind." "Pine." Leighton took a notebook from h i s hip pocket and placed i t on the tabl e . A typewriter eraser. "I've got some matches. It was a book with a blue cover and two matches used. 'Ah, here." "Well, f i n a l l y . " "There you go, my love." He put the matches i n h i s breast pocket, n o t i c i n g the handkerchief. He straightened i t , 46 bringing the embroidered i n i t i a l well into view. "By the way Jack, I've been thinking, and I've decided i t ' s time someone did something about the need f o r a c l e a r and thorough guide to b i b l i o g r a p h i c a l methodology and the tools of research. The department i s absolutely without any sort of standardization. In the U.S. you know, t h i s sort of haphazard, eome-what-may attitude i s never allowed to e x i s t . We're decades behind. The departmental organization needs a complete revamping i n t h i s respect. At best i t ' s organized confusion. I always say that we are l i v i n g i n the geographical and c u l t u r a l hemorrhoid of America. But, be that as i t may, i f we could put something together along the l i n e s of the MLA and the Chicago  Style Manual with a super-abundance of exempla, and present i t to the department—wellI I t ' s just what we need f o r a s t a r t . I t could be applied right from the freshman l e v e l . And what a feather i n our capsl What do you think? I'd l i k e your assistance." "Sounds excellent, Percy." "Wo need to have i t done immediately, of course, but i f we could have i t ready by the beginning of the next school year." "Yes, c e r t a i n l y . " "Look. I've also been wanting to ask i f you'd drop i n on another lecture to see what improvement there's been." "Percy, Percy, you worry too much about that." "Do you think so?" "You've been at i t longer than I, haven't you." "Yes, but one needs the opinion of someone who i s capable of judging with negative capa... with detachment." 47 "I say you worry about i t too much." "Perhaps that's so." He puckered, holding h i s lower l i p , with an a i r of considering, but he was pleased. "Do you think you're having trouble?" "Trouble, uh, no. No trouble. Look," he took out a b a l l point and opened h i s notebook, " I ' l l just put you down f o r Wednesday next. You don't mind, do you? You're free Wednesdays? "Well, I have..." "A week a f t e r next?" "Uh, f i n e then." " A l l r i g h t ? " "Right." "Right i " The drinks came. "And we can.talk about the other then." "Oh n o i " C a l l clutched h i s head, "Don't look now, but guess who just came i n . " "Who?" "Prump." "Hubert? Where i s he?" "No, no. Don't turn around. H e l l , you don't want him here do you? I f he sees you h e ' l l be over right enough." "What have you got against him? I've thought him a l i t t l e odd, b u t . . . " "He's a quack, Percy 1 A bleeding l i t t l e snipe. A brown-noser. I'm sure he hasn't time f o r anything else. Every time you see him he's dwelling i n someone's asshole." "Is that so?" "Him and his coffee concession. He's i n charge of the 48 coffee, cream and sugar b i t i n the lounge, you know. You'd think i t was Romanoff's." "Oh, he's the one. The faculty lounge, you mean." "Yes. He keeps everything locked i n the cabinet. I always want a coffee around eight i n the morning, because I don't have breakfast. Rena never bothers with breakfast. So, when I'm desperate f o r a coffee, i t ' s a l l locked up i n h i s confounded cabinet." "Oh, that reminds me. I sometimes take the pennies out of the pot. I save a l l cents before 1956. I was digging through the money l a s t week and I noticed Hubert eyeing me rather aghast. But I always repay the pot, you know. I f there are three cents I want, I ' l l take out f i v e and put a n i c k e l i n . " "That's nothing, Percy. Wait t i l l I t e l l you. I f i n a l l y discovered a method of getting at the coffee. You know the cupboard on the lower l e f t , the one that conceals the sink pipes?" "Yes." "Well, there's nothing i n i t , so i t ' s never locked. Anyway, there are two screws holding the other cabinet door from s l i d i n g over the sink area. I suddenly realized that i f I took those screws out the whole door would s l i d e over and there'd be no need to unlock i t . So, I used the end of a tablespoon to take the screws out, s l i d the door over, and was bending down, taking out the coffee, when who should walk i n but Hubert Prump." "Oh, I can imagine." "Yes, he stopped i n hi s tracks, staring at me, speechless. 'I'm just getting some coffee,' I said, 'would you l i k e some?' 49 He was stari n g at the sink, down the drain, and he asked how I'd opened i t . When I started to t e l l him he flew into an absolute f i t , h urling the spoon into the sink and stomping out. Everyone stared at me as though I were a petty t h i e f . " "Ho! You're kidding." "I'm not kidding." "God!" "I'm t e l l i n g - you, he's r e a l l y pathological. He won't do a damn thing unless i t furthers h i s p o s i t i o n i n the department or his.opportunities to seduce his stud... I mean, i f he i s n ' t confusing h i s students I don't know why. You know what I mean." -"Oh, yes." Percy looked at Helga, who had been h i s student. "They're about to play," she s a i d . — C h a r l i e blows the song was Coo-coo-roo-coo-ree Pearl sang, and behind her, Charlie drummed. She was h i s would be number one g i r l , he thought Pearl a l o t Pearl she was plump of mother smooth limbed singing l i l t and azure throated l o l l y pearl Pearl but kni t one too i n her coo-cooing b i r d voice pecking l i k e knit at h i s pubic oh l o l l y pearl pleasing ascot s i l k and shimmer i n a blaze of blue f o o t l i g h t and song she was tremble treble lonely pulse of lover distant sympatico to drums i n syncopation as intrigue ear true i n distant foreign land pecked the v i o l , low, bass, v i o l come back plucked the guitar f o r him picked the notes oh, she 50 was favoured to sing, and he, Herald, he thought, was coming'in louder than he should f o r an under pulse lunge l i k e t r i c k y t i c k l e s t i c k manoeuvers twi t t e r i n g and s i z z l e on high symbol reading as music as rhythm slap the bass, s l i p , slap . mirrored a page of technicblour Scarlet ascot and golden vest brass buttoned Charlie wore, navy blue cut continental trousers, boots desert and a l l a b l u r beneath loose grey jacket capewise s w i r l i n company of movements blending t r a - l a - l o l l y cavorting i n the petal notes and blossoms f a l l i n g of Arden, l a - l o l l y automatically i n the Barnyard Paris p l a s t e r pigs grut a cow and one sheep splutted f o r atmos fear-me-not blue automatic Arden fears me, fears me not the f e a r f u l brood, the remainder of her brood, Pearl's, of wonder faces, fans, of farmer's widow's daughters the two twins being most wondrous ugly admiring him pester and t h e i r c i r c l e of stanzas tweedle-dee lunge i s a l l t h e i r worth more followers s t i l l he had signed, f o r f r e e , his autograph imagine image h i s autograph more ways than one rumble pleasant l i k e puncture bubble and knock the neck, base beating now f l i t t e r , twen-ty-two the high hat sat r i n g f a l l on a l l the base boom tunely rang and arms wide curtseyed Pearl low her breast cleavage show withdraw lunge he f o r the bar to go but Mannerly and Margery, the twins, arm hoved him, to bring to see the chatting c i r c l e rapidly of corn thoughts following i n abound with swing dad man oh clan f l a t t e r tongue gramma was better they a l l bows, beaus, ribbon knit your brow, Charlie the Disgruntled say so? dearie, the ribbon matches your h a i r finger Pearl meanwhile iand tug soft 51 they t i t t e r , clamour "Oh, w i l l you play?" lunge away "Pearl, get him to do a solo with you." that would he, Pearl and he, some solo withdraw "See you momentarily." "Adieu." How could she play without the soft soul of him to her? Well? the poodle cut one of the brood i s sweet as t u r k i s h delight He held back on Margery and Milk, f o r there was Leighton too l a t e "Good evening, S i r . I hope you are enjoying yourself." red with a woman long, red long, but who? and eyes of dawn black and cunning... "Certainly we are." "How often do you play?" her odd voice speaking to the back of h i s neck... "Very w e l l , indeed." "Yes." "Your drumming..." "Never t o l d us." "W i l l you... " f i n a l l y "Good-bye now." surely not C a l l and she? toothpaste face ugh squeeze ugly her thirty-two at least and l i k e l y s k i l l e d i n s l i p r i d i n g Pearl "After the show g i r l s . " "Oh Charlie, why can't we go?" "Really, there's the show to t a l k over." "Blarney!" but at l a s t free go speed thrust a l l carry ye ohSPearl be there at three, you are lovely summer haired g i r l ? "Your net stockings are sexy." "Hello." not Prump! he would! great time everybody hands Prump handsies "Oh yes Prump, S i r . " rings and rosies "You are quite adept, Charles." "Thanks. Do you know Pearl?" "Wo." pause eyed, old blow "No? Well, Doctor Leighton i s here, you know. There." "I see. Perhaps I should, urp, excuse. I should..." "We only have a moment." "Bye now." "Good evening." "Night to you." He loved h i s Pearl with darkness, wine and cigarettes and soft night hooded, how the hours are wide! —words Hood winked dinky W i l l y inky came Hubert "What. Hellow there a l l . May I s i t down?" He sat. "Must you?" asked C a l l . Rena looked, n o s t r i l s f l a r e d red, l i k e whiskers sensing. "What's that you say?" Helga smiled i n her compact. "Yes, s i t down," said Rena. "Yes. Ha. It appears I am, doesn't i t . Ha. Must excuse me. I'm f e e l i n g quite good already. Third zombie." "We're a l l doing rather well that way," the professor s a i d . "Aren't we Helga?" '-'What do you mean?" "Just joking, dear." 53 "Zombies cost two-eighty here, you know." "No. We didn't know," said C a l l . "S'glad I met you, you know. I've been wanting to t a l k to you. You too there Jack. I have a theory... urp...uh, excuse me. Ha. 's based on a reading, I'm a f r a i d quite s e l e c t i v e , however. On a reading of recent negro n o v e l i s t s . " The music commenced again, the guitar tinny. "Not so broad a reading as one would wish, you understand." "I dare say." "What?" "By the way, Percy," C a l l interrupted, " i s that Herald's mistress?" "I suspect so." "His taste i s commendable." "I suppose so." "What are you saying?" Prump was confused. "The g i r l . " "Pearl?" "Yes." "Yes, of course. Well, i t s t r i k e s me that these n o v e l i s t s are i n the process of creating a new myth about negro s e n s i b i l i t y . They, uh, as the former myth, you know, concerning t h e i r . . . urp, v i r i l i t y , and general all-around competence i n sexual matters. Which, now, they seem to be attempting to refute." " D e f i n i t e l y . " "Oh?" said Rena. "We're but of matches." "Yes. Well, they seem to be suggesting, and, uh, I believe 5k i t to be a remarkably new development, f o r some reason." "Where's the waitress?" "Of course, i t ' s the implications of the thing I'm interested i n . " "Does anyone have a l i g h t ? " "For some reason... oh yes, have one of mine. For some reason they are suggesting that the negro has an.innate s u p e r i o r i t y i n s e n s i t i v i t y . That sort of thing. Say, I haven't been introduced to...urp... l o , I know you of course, Helga. I meant t h i s d a r l i n g . " "No, I don't think you have, have you," C a l l scratched at a pimple on hi s chin. "I'm Rena Armoural." "Very pleased to meet you. Faculty?" "No. I'm doing my Ph.D." "Indeed. Good. Well, may you be the f i r s t to know, I think i t ' s a l l a l o t of nonsense." "I'm often i n c l i n e d to agree." "What do you think then, about innate s e n s i t i v i t y ? " "Oh] That!" "It's an i n t e r e s t i n g idea, beyond a doubt," Jack commented. "Not you now Jack, I was asking Rena." "I think... » "We take turns do we?" C a l l asked. The waitress came. Leighton thought i t was his round. "Oh no, I ' l l get i t . . Not at a l l . I i n s i s t . " Prump i n s i s t e d . "Well, I don't know. I think..." Rena was tentative. 55 "Thank you. That's f i n e . There's a t i p , There you go. Thank you." The waitress l e f t . They watched her undulations. "Wow then. I'm sorry. What were you about to say?" "I was about to say that I think perhaps i t ' s true. It may be a rather subjective judgement but I can't help f e e l i n g the negro i s more s e n s i t i v e . A l l that musical a b i l i t y , and dancing. A l l that s u f f e r i n g and centuries of rudimentary existence. Oh, but that's perhaps environmental, i s n ' t i t ? . I do believe i t though.' I t ' s a sort of c h i l d - l i k e d i v i n i t y they have. I t ' s hot what I would expect of you, f o r instance, Hubert." "Oh, you know my name. I say, I forgot to t e l l you." "You're more the mature, c i v i l i z e d type, I mean." "Well, thank you." "Don't take i t as a compliment Prump. Rena despises c i v i l i z e d types." "Never mind him, Hubert. I've known quite a few negroes and I found them a l l very empathetic l i s t e n e r s . I could t a l k with them about the most personal things without the least embarrassment. Usually embarrassment i s due to the fear that the other person won't understand, i s n ' t i t ? The fear of being laughed at. Perhaps laughter i s a c i v i l i z e d accomplishment." "That's rather a long-winded way of saying you don't agree." "look who's t a l k i n g about long-windedness. Why the d e v i l did you s i t here anyway? No one wants to l i s t e n to your boring ideas, you i d i o t 1 You're s p o i l i n g everyone's evening.".. "Is that so? Urp. I wasn't under that impression. 56 Excuse me...urp... won't you? Rena, would you l i k e to dance?" "Yes, thank you." ' "Rena. S i t down! I won't have you dancing with that p i g ! " "Don't get so upset." They l e f t the tabl e . "That bald twit.'" —blow the man down: part one Watching them dance, Leighton f e l t the music, and i t . . . Come, ooba-boo, and with a trim begin tonight raucous Yum-in fancy, Hand thee, sheathly tight Throwing k i s s of bun and YO-HO, just i n sight ye w i l l blow the old man up and leg out put thy right ye w i l l ye w i l l , the old man up, with they stockinged nylon toes well stacked and swell c l i n k e r s as maid grass conceal imaginings brass OOla-la-loo-la horns roar and bass throb f u l l motion as witch chords struck whack packed kluf l i k e a packet ship tacking on the f l o o r drone-role shiver of tambourines fast fetching assed swerve as scarves weave hi s wimper throat drum r o l l Charlie go s l i t h e r kneesies slap horn muted Rena pulled her dress down to cover the kneesies, twisting fond yea! s a i l o r , hey longlegged t i l sober over her upsohigh garters snap God oh lap What Expostu... Helga's eyes Hey! well say, why? oh he... "She's at i t again," C a l l blurted> "that dumb broad!" He's l e t her, thought leighton, Lord, SEE, see make not to "Have you the matches, Helga?" there, tone soft blouse she threw i t off wet back standing a l l watching who clapped at not he throng LOng WHACK. "That Goddamned Hubert's leading her on." "You'd better," Percy cleared h i s throat, "bring her down, Jack." "She can come on her own." "Oh." and simper she stopped to p u l l the s k i r t down again teaser knees v e i l e d harsh and stringent cover as gong RAM strong she knows too . Pound Helga's eyes diverted good now Whore comes off t h r a l l and knocker wonder w i l l she take i t Whack she w i l l ROD please, oh, and Clap asunder, plunder Plunge prod you s p l i n t What? symbols'. t h i n . . . and s i l v e r thunder, gleam, gold pleasel DA no DA-da-da please TA-TUM done she f e l l t i t -wise arms wide around Prump gone, damn... "Well, I'm c e r t a i n l y glad that's over." "Don't l e t i t bother you, Percy. She's insane, you know." "No, i t ' s . . . I mean," said Percy, "should we leave? Oh, here she i s . " "Don't s i t down. We're leaving." C a l l seized her arm. "What's the matter with you?" "Just l e t ' s g o i" •"Did you mind, Dr. Leighton?" "No. Not at a l l . Of course not." 58 "Me too," Helga said, "could you teach me?" "Yes, I'd l i k e you to dance l i k e that f o r me dear, but not i n p u b l i c . " "Oh, I'm sorry i f I embarrassed you." "Don't worry about embarrassing him!" "No, don't worry." "Yes, you were embarrassed." "No I wasn't. I enjoyed i t . We enjoyed i t , didn't we Helga?" "Yes."! "I hope you mean i t . " "Look, you must come over some Friday. I ' l l show you my c o l l e c t i o n . Perhaps y o u ' l l see I wasn't embarrassed." "Your coins?" "His pornography'." "Yes?" "Yes, f o r p i t y sake come over. He never shows me other-wise. He won't l e t me touch a thing. I t ' s so s i l l y . He has i t a l l under lock and k e y — a whole wall of i t . " "We'll make a point of i t . " "Some of i t i s quite f a n t a s t i c . A f a i r portion was microfilmed from the Vatican L i b r a r y — t h e pro-ultimate i n Fescennine l i t e r a t u r e and works of 'double entendre'." Percy pumped at the gas pedal. The car started poorly i n wet weather. He pumped... and i n those days of t r a v e l Percy was not married and could afford better, i t seemed trum-putter, AH, the engine commences i t was not so he had more now, of course... 59 "That w i l l he f i n e then." with them f o r d i n n e r and red wine and Rena's b r e a s t s over the p l a t t e r . . . n i g h t s of hone he c o u l d a f f o r d then, to buy wine by the v a t , and had to f o r Marianne, l i b r a r i a n , who co u l d c a r r y heavy, was i t ? Harrap's F r e n c h - E n g l i s h D i c t i o n a r y between h e r b r e a s t s t o f e t c h i t him who c o u l d consume t u b f u l s and s t a u n c h l y go to. bed, g o r i l l a g i r l , c u r l h e r s e l f about him c l u t c h so he cou l d b a r e l y move, except with bounce r e s i l i e n c e of h e r m i l k i n g cow gl a n d s . . . "What? Oh yes, i t ' s f a s c i n a t i n g ! There's a p l e t h o r a of t e x t u a l v a r i a t i o n s q u i t e i m p o s s i b l e t o account f o r . " p i l l o w b r e a s t s t o r e s t h i s head on, s i n k h i s hand i n t o , the f l e s h of any p a r t of h e r , and she would be as l e e p immediately he was o f f h e r , so p l a c i d and d i r e c t about i t t h a t h i s c o l l e c t i o n would not have i n t e r e s t e d h e r s l e e p i n g l a t e throughout the summer and coming t o the b r e a k f a s t t a b l e t e a he'd made, i n h e r e n t i r e nude, s i t t i n g pendulous, o r l e g s spread, h a i r f r a n k l y i n h i s f a c e . . . "I beg your pardon! I must be t h i n k i n g of something e l s e . You're r i g h t . A good d e a l of the m a t e r i a l i s supernumery, e r , e r a r y . " m u t t e r i n g who'd s a i d he mispronounced h i s words, .or was i t misuse he had overheard i t but i t was simply t h a t the l e v e l of h i s d i c t i o n was beyond them he would not lower h i m s e l f though i t i s c e r t a i n l y q u i t e d i f f i c u l t a s t r u g g l e one's v e r b a l a b i l i t y does adapt t o those most i n t i m a t e and she seldom spoke but with grunts l a c o n i c coming s t r a i g h t from a l l day i n the l i b r a r y ' s S p e c i a l C o l l e c t i o n s , p u t t e r i n g , would say t h a t i t was s w e l t e r i n g , would say, w i t h c l o t h e s on, and would shed them on the c l o s e s t c h a i r would say OK and G a l l o p to bed t o f l o u n d e r and t o knot h e r t a n g l e d h a i r around h i s 60 neck would afterwards snicker, want to play, slapping h i s stomach, p a i n f u l l y , which was the only place he f e l t i t when he said Good-bye and she trotted off to work a place to get free lodgings as a meal she took i t a s a t i s f a c t o r y arrangement, on the whole a r e l i e f to vacate, with everyone frowning from the pounding on t h e i r c e i l i n g s of the nights before... "No. It i s r e a l l y quite s u r p r i s i n g , because they carried with them the expectation, and i n many cases the demand of p u b l i c a t i o n . I t ' s i n t e r e s t i n g to c o l l e c t . Say, I mustn't forget your s t r e e t . The wipers aren't working properly. I t ' s around here, I know." "Turn right on Cheapside—the next corner." "Oh yes, i t ' s right along here. Now we have i t . How's that?" "Pine;" "You'll be over some Friday then?" w i l l have wine candle from a p l a t t e r and films and... "Yes, we w i l l . " Rena answered. squirm her legs i n the s k i r t What? oh... "Oh. Just a moment. You can get out t h i s way. Not so much bending over. Forgive me." backwards rump firm f i r s t pleasant awkwardness flanks and akimbo... "Watch your step." sink teeth i n the bounce of i t wiggle inches o f f groin what would happen i f ? no one would see one could one could she might say something no hand her there .pressly oh, what i f ? do i t ! SQUEEZE i t ' s done she's smiling... "You're a s l y one. Good-night to you." say, see she 61 smiles cool fingered stroke cold she would be alone sometime... "Good time... good night, I mean, a l l . " how to be? please how? now, toot her heels clack Helga never saw HA good-night i t would be sometime... "What did she do to you?" "Uh?" pricked me strung care! "Just now." . . . "Oh, she was just toying." "Yes, but what did she do? Tweak your chin?" "Yes." "She's a strange one, i s n ' t she." "Strange?" no but knock plunge material "Yes. I've never seen anyone that bold before. And she'd been so demure a l l evening." "Not demure." therenot true, i t seemed "Well, what would you say then? Retired, no, well mannered;" "Yes. She seemed well mannered." Pat had been demure but had opened her legs at the c l i c k of h i s fingers he had thought t h e i r a f f a i r a t o t a l secret "It's a wonder we didn't get thrown out." "We might have." ' throw i t i n Pat threw i t a l l ravaged starved eighteen Good God FORGET "Did you see her when she stepped from the platform onto the top of that front table? Her panties were showing." yesyes, "No. I mean, I didn't see tha t . " pubic h a i r out the corner of her panties slapped down on h i s desk right 62 i n h i s face and a l l the while she had been bragging to her friends about i t . . . "How could you miss?" Can'tean't be "Huh?" she must have planned i t she must have t o l d her parents to come "What would you do i f I'd done that?" was i t to marry me? "I?" farce b i t c h on the desk as he drove i t i n l i k e a s t e e l piston her parents walking i n oh, Forget "Yes, you, stupid." he? do you take t h i s . . . "Well, what do you expect?" say, what could she be ta l k i n g of? "Then why do you take her side?" "Who's taking her side?" "You are." "No I'm not." "Well, you sounded l i k e you were." "If she wants to act l i k e that, that's up to her. I'm not married to her." Pat cuddle bunny sweet oh Blast that ruined him to get tangled with ontop the desk Ho gadJ a student the elbow nudging and snickers when he was seen i n the h a l l s she spread i t a l l around behind that door they knew when the parents came i n the door faces tongues of l i t t l e b i t c h he had been innocent i n jumpers hitched up f l a s h l y i n black panties d e l i g h t f u l lace never l i v e . i t down Get Out of there OH Forget i t forget though she was a f u l l screw she d e f i n i t e l y was... "How old do you think she i s ? " 63 "How old? Uh... oh? How old! Oh, t h i r t y i s h . " "She looks old f o r her age, doesn't she?" "I don't know." too young and f o o l i s h "Oh yes. She looks as though she's l i v e d a rough l i f e . " "She looks mature, yes." "She told me she's had two children." "She's divorced." well practiced, so neophytes beware "Yes." what was the matter? that he was too? yes, i n Helga's face she thought that he had divorced Catherine thought he was embarrassed g i r l i s h what's to embarrass? that a good thing r i d of the f r i g i d however, she was a refined woman to be proud of but damn i t , once a month too seldom lady bah'. BAH1 driven stark to see her hard a foot long for her and she declining l i k e i t was tea he offered which forced him to sneak out, sneak, yes, to the washroom, sneak and p u l l i t f o r himself she would not because i t t i r e d her wrist and the seat cracking, and hearing, breathing, not to make a noise wrapping t o i l e t paper round h i s hand afterwards to sound l i k e wipe... "Do I look mature enough?" hiding "Of course, s i l l y . " he was a shameful boy sneak why worry? Lord he had hidden the books back deep i n the desk then had trouble getting them out without noise a l l torn, dogeared " used them so' s t e a d i l y incriminating f i n g e r p r i n t s she discovered where he held them so furious at being caught, g r i t , he forced her disgusting her perhaps i n t e n t i o n a l l y f o r the l a s t time... 64 "Are you f e e l i n g sexy?" Helga drawn close say i f "No, but I would l i k e being made to." " W i l l you show me some of the c o l l e c t i o n when we get home?" "Why the d e v i l do you want to see them?" she might too discover he was ca r e f u l now, however, with Kleenex, to avoid f i n g e r p r i n t s . . . "Why not? You l i k e them." "It's too much trouble. They're locked up." "Just a few?" • nonono "I've shown you some before, and you were disappointed." she was only curious to know i f he then to crush him afterwards show her? no... "Oh, that's not f a i r . Those were a r t ! " "It's a l l a r t . " yet, why be concerned with her knowing? smut, but smut l i k i n g . . . "But they weren't d i f f e r e n t at a l l . I'd l i k e to see something l i k e the photos you to l d me about." no i t ' s not true to catch him out no "Well, I'm sorry." again, why care? to l e t her know of him... "Oh, you're mean." "Why do you care so much?" "I've never seen anything l i k e that, that's a l l . I ' l l bet you think I'm too young." Ah, see! he was right she was only curious to catch him then nono "No such thing. The only reason I t o l d you about them was to s a t i s f y your c u r i o s i t y so you wouldn't go messing about with them. It r e a l l y doesn't matter to me. If you want to see them that badly I ' l l show them to you." yes she knew and could not the aghast b i t do with him that was best show her nothing disguised... "Never mind, i f that's the way you want to be about i t . " "What's the way I want to be?" "Secretive. I t ' s as though you were ashamed of them. I t 1 s stupid." " A l l right then!" "Oh, don't bother." "Damn i t . Don't be c h i l d i s h . I ' l l show you." show her she knew she could add i t up of him and i f she knew i t was more than c u r i o s i t y good, goodly, nothing better fondle while together... "Who's being c h i l d i s h ? " " A l l r i g h t . I said I'd show you." and would watch, as he did, her eyes and l i p s part, teeth hand on her stomach and hear voice words too would know i f she did. . . "Don't bother!" "What's the matter now?" "I wanted to see them to-night." "If you wish." "It's too much trouble." "I have some i n my desk. They won't be any trouble." "Have you?" "A few. I haven't f i l e d them yet." "Oh, good." yes, good a l l the better i t i s too child-like-ness 66 b e t t e r t o be over i t and enjoy f u l l y and b e t t e r she f u l l y knew h i s hard-on, l u s t pussy l o v e suck p l a y then b e t t e r t o have?- h e r down, take i t roundly l e g s over the bed monthly l i k e t h a t one, f o r i n s t a n c e i f she c o u l d do i t w e l l and... say,, he was hard good h u r r y the d r i v e "You open the house w h i l e I park the c a r . " h u r r y the damp garage o l d wood, musty oh, i n spread sheets s t r e t c h e d h u r r y No? the gra s s was wet h i s f e e t damn i t s l o w l y ,1 ignore i t l e t h e r l e a d up t o i t t h a t ' s i t I i g n o r e c a r e f u l l y hang the coat take galoshes o f f . . . "Show me the p i c t u r e s now. You promised." she asked as f o r candy as f o r a sucker "I w i l l . They're i n the drawer. Do you want to look at them here o r take them t o bed?" " I t doesn't matter, does i t ? I don't know." "Let's take them t o bed." her eyes h e r eyes as i f n a i v e she wouldn't Say 'Yes, take them' he must say i t i f j u s t once she would take the i n i t i a t i v e i t was t e d i o u s always to l e a d d r e s s i n g t h e r e b l a c k s h o r t i e s Ho "Unhook my b r a f o r me?" oh, yes t h e r e LArGE but the n i p p l e s were too brown i f o n l y f o r the n i p p l e s he looked i n s t e a d at the l e g s yes, yes, watch now c a r e ! i g n o r e and have h e r s t a r t then she c o u l d not the aghast b i t w i t h him take time "O.K. L e t me see." ah-ha, she h u r r i e d goodygood "Wait'11 I get i n bed." "Hurry, Let me see now." so! " A l l r i g h t then, here." r i p e t o go so s l o w l y 67 as though not p a r t i c u l a r watch watch ah-ha watch she stared transfixed mouth open a bomb to drop unheard f a c e f u l l eh? she turned i t no why? oh, but sure, surely that was pretense of detachm... so "Ooooohh, they're f i l t h y . They're f i l t h y , aren't they?" "I don't know. Which one are you looking at?" "This one." "Are they f i l t h y ? " "Aren't they?" "There's another one. Let me see. This one." i f she could do t h i s Weill "What do you think of i t ? " he saw her looking ha, i t was safe to s l i d e over oh, how f i t t e d oh, but care ignore she too involved to pay attention tease "They're a l l f i l t h y . Just a minute. I haven't seen that one." "They're fascinating though, aren't they?" fascinating, eh? fa s c i n a t i n g , eh? "Ha ha. They are, yes." yes they were glowed her sleek otte r eyes "Are these r e a l l y photographs?" "I think so." "I mean, are they r e a l l y doing that?" "Yes." they were yes and would she think what i t would be l i k e ? "Heavens! Look at t h i s couple!?" ' "What? The position?" "Her expression." "His!" 68 "Her boobies are b i g , aren't they?" "Look. They hold him away an inch or so." "Do they make you sexy?" "When I'm beside you they do. The nude i n art i s supposed to arouse you sensually, I think." "Turn out the l i g h t . " "No... why?" "Here, put them away." damn time waste but care slowly "They make he horny too. Let's do i t l i k e the picture." that's i t woman, l i f t there up knee he touched, grasped, sank, soft f l a p thrusted "Do you l i k e that?" eh? what? eh? "Oh yes." and that? and that? "Yes. Me too." and that? "Fuck me Percy. In, out, stroke i t . In, out. Oh. Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me. Oh Percy, w i l l you?" I am I am am am wait? what? "Are you ready?" "Hurry. Hurry." but' what? already? damn, stay, more, not yet, wait, Say!... "Ohhhh. That was good." s h i t ! "Yes, i t was." Ruined he'd thought i t would, t h i s time, l a s t , but scat... "Did you l i k e i t that way better?" "It's d i f f e r e n t . " anyway sniggle-odd-different Yum but, why so soon over? too much, perhaps, evoked no, no too young i t was too young and over too fast soon 69 "I l i k e d i t better." "That's good, dear." but s t i l l there was to be " I ' l l sleep well now." "Good. Good-night." "Good-night." ' f o r lord sake would she sleep? oh, what she knew was not at a l l l i k e Pat could show her they could demonstrate f o r her Por Her, ignoramus! then she'd see what, eh? h e l l , may as well be Catherine useless be locked i n the bathroom sleep, hurry, sleep and he waited, hard, waited f o r her to sleep why? 70 Wordes to Conforte — f o e s espyed: part one It was well into October. Hugh was lounging, wondering why he sat on the side lawn of University College under the pincherry tree, dropping cherries without b i r d s , seeing s k u l l cap beanies and purple jackets everywhere, f e e l i n g he had just come from f i e l d ' s of a day's disport to f i n d h i s house been burgled, the windows and the doors stove i n , the home ransacked by foes who swarm from unive r s i t y gothic, with cherries discarding down, as though some old george Axeman was knocking at the trunk, and plunked on h i s impervious s k u l l , a l l squishy, no r e s i l i e n c e to them, though good to f l i n g , with s p i t e , at the old grassed ground f o r ages up-supporting plodding feet to-fro taking heads of numb and t i z z y , GeezeJ Three boogie foemen i n ghastly black and s t a t e l y there, t h e i r features g r i s l y , hidden i n hoods, l i k e f o r instance the i r r a t i o n a l C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason, to which, imperiously, he said "PT00IE," and a stout fellow, bearing bundled tremendous, though never stooping, no slouches these, mind, bearing mostly tons of three by f i v e s , of yellow, pink, and blue, a l l p a r t i -coloured things, f o r f i l i n g , record, and cross-reference, or dig about and s t u f f , and f i n a l l y too, most t a l l , came s l i t h e r i n g but steadfast among shadows, trees and shrubs, elusive Purpose, crabbed and wanting, just a boogie, three b i g boogies, blocking a l l l a s t year's glee and fervour at a l l the kid-time f o o t b a l l c r a f t and cheer, and triumph s i l l y kicking joy, and best of a l l , so 71 grand i d e a s , f u l l u p . with t i n s e l t u s s l e of them, s l i p p e d o f f , l e a v i n g h o b - n a i l e d shod boogies t h e r e to w r e s t l e , what the h e l l . 1 "This bedamned Geezely p l a c e ! I hate i t ! " Hugh threw another c h e r r y . "I should q u i t . " "What f o r ? " Monk l i c k e d the f r o n t of h i s upper t e e t h . "To do something man! D r i v e ! R o l l ! " Monk sucked h i s t e e t h , hunched on the lawn. "In the e n t i r e world, t h e r e ' s sweet screw a l l worth doing." "Monk, you'd express y o u r s e l f best i f you c o u l d speak by f a r t i n g . Gr get bad b r e a t h . Smoke shredded j o c k - s t r a p s . " Monk laughed h i s laugh f o r the times when he was caught w i t h h i s own f l y down, sounding l i k e a s t i c k r a t t l e d a long r a i l i n g s . Hugh thought that maybe i t was h i s c a l l i n g t o be a f a r t e x t e r m i n a t o r . "Why d'you wanna q u i t though, Hughie?" Charmaine asked. She wore h e r h a i r l o n g e r than she had the year b e f o r e and i t t o s s e d about h e r head and b e f o r e h e r f a c e . "I dunno. E v e r y t h i n g seems phoney." "People make t h i n g s phoney. They s e l l out." "He's dreaming! C'mon, name one t h i n g you'd do i f you q u i t . " "Maybe I c a n ' t , but at l e a s t I l o o k f o r something b e t t e r . You hang around here and b i t c h . " "Ah yes, here we c r e a t e the world views, conceive the f a r c e s , but we don't enact them." " I ' l l be a f a r t exterminator," Hugh s a i d . "Sounds grand," s a i d Charmaine. "Let's get a c o f f e e . " 72 They went to the c a f e t e r i a , —sandwich matter The lineup was drawn along the terrazzo c l i c k i n g f l o o r , through the open plate glass door, aluminum framed, and became nasty at the sta i n l e s s s t e e l counter, chute-like f o r e f f i c i e n c y , with armament hardware-store-bright, metal smelling; u t e n s i l s f o r ingesting: fork-prongs, knives and such, barbed out from p l a s t i c pockets, straws p r i c k l e d , c a f e t e r i a trays, so-dandy popup napkins i n dispenser, bread chunks and butter p a l l e t s j o i l y i n the heat, 50 a piece, much to be masticulated ham sandwiches, or cheese, toasted or no, as pleased, c a l l e d g r i l l e d , a l l sanitized i n paper wax packages, c h i l l e d beverages, card-board cups of mush icecream, r i c e pudding, and, today, f r i e d potato f o r the many teeth involved i n fourhundred mouths per hal f hour, multiply and see, p i l e d coffee cups with sugar squares and then cash r e g i s t e r r i n g rang f i n e l y and much-called-clean. At the head of the l i n e were Peter M i l l e r and Roger. "You there! You never paid f o r the sandwich." Her eyes bugged and mouth was f r a n t i c . "I traded a cheese sandwich," Roger troubled to (explain, " f o r t h i s ham." "But you never paid f o r the cheese." "Yeah, yeah, but I tjraded a peanut butter f o r the cheese." "You never paid f o r the peanut butter neither." "You don't want me to pay fo r what I didn't get, do you?" "C'mon, smart guy. That's t h i r t y cents'." 73 "Thirty centsi Look, there's no meat." "Thirty cents please." "You overcharge about a dime. I've paid f o r the l a s t two I had, so I get t h i s one free." "You owe me t h i r t y cents." She pounded her f i s t s on the cash r e g i s t e r . "That's too damn much. I might as well buy one downtown." "Why don't you?" "Stupid gink! This place i s f o r students, not f o r the jerks who operate i t ! " "No one's forcing you to buy i t . " "O.K. Have your cruddy sandwich back." . "There's a b i t e out of i t ! " "So what! There wasn't any meat i n the b i t e I had." "What can we do with a sandwich with a b i t e out of i t ? " "How much i s toast?" "Toast? Ten cents." "Then put the meat back between new toast and I ' l l give you a dime." "Thirty cents!" "W i l l you get off the pot buddy!" Monk yell e d from the end of the l i n e . "You're holding up the works." "G'mon," said M i l l e r , "what's the use." " H e l l ! Here's your crummy t h i r t y cents." "Thank you." They sat. "Christ! T h i r t y cents. You should come to the f r a t f o r one of the suppers I cook." 74 "You cook the suppers?" "Sure. I get free room and hoard to cook. There's a party there to-night. Whyncha come? The r e a l cat's ass! P a r t i e s every weekend. Broads everywhere. What a place! Share and share a l i k e . You should j o i n . I haven't got the bucks f o r member-ship, but I'm i n on i t a l l anyway." "I might." — v i o l e t ' s and g a l l They sat at a table distant from Pete M i l l e r and Roger. Charmaine watched Hugh gaze at the melting of sugar cubes i n h i s spoon of coffee, watched Monk scowl at the nubile co-eds with t h e i r women-of-sin cigarettes and t h e i r meadow g i r l , c a f e t e r i a smiles, becoming, they no doubt supposed, and she thought that she may have had that smile, naive years ago, as though i t had been so long no, only recent years.ago before, as Hugh was doing, she too measured out her l i f e i n too many cups of coffee Unlimited prospects, and deserving pride, perhaps, at graduation i n Vancouver, under mountains opening to unknown promise, she l e f t to teach (to proselytize perhaps, why deny i t ? no shame i n that) of the precious thing man's soul i s , revealed, there are so many b i b l e s , ignorant censorship, oh they were pleased to get her right enough, but h o r r i f i e d at honesty, as at her concern f o r monster truth and love Yes, they were t e r r i b l y 75 shocked, and s i d e d w i t h one simple mother whose c h i l d read d a r l i n g Chaucer (whose name they mispronounced) due to i n t e r e s t she aroused by t a l k i n g of Medieval t a l e s "Did you put a book by someone named Cocker on your r e q u i r e d r e a d i n g l i s t ? " and when she f i n a l l y understood, "Oh, Chaucer. Oh. W e l l , he's been around a long time hasn't he?" and continued more o f f i c i a l l y , " T e l l me, i s t h e r e anything improper i n Chaucer?" t o which she r e p l i e d by a s k i n g i f he s e r i o u s l y wanted he r t o debate the q u e s t i o n of the moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of a r t "Well, was i t r e q u i r e d r e a d i n g ? " she s a i d t h a t i t wasn't "Did you g i v e him the book?" and was at a l o s s when she e x p l a i n e d i t had come from the s c h o o l l i b r a r y , as i f any of i t would have made a d i f f e r e n c e no, i t was q u i t e indecorous to be concerned with t r u t h of any s o r t and what-ever might be b e s t , one used t e x t s of the Adventures of the Dooley B r o t h e r s , and o t h e r gems, employing Socratean methodology, s o - c a l l e d , i n s u l t t o S o c r a t e s , whereby the p o i n t was missed e n t i r e l y s i n c e the r i g g e d answers proved anything but t h a t we know n o t h i n g , which i s a l l he proved and they t o o , the s t u d e n t s , would not b e l i e v e h e r , u t t e r l y a p p a l l e d t h a t C h r i s t c o u l d be anything but an a c q u i s i t i v e shop-keeper, t h a t a l l a u t h o r i t y could be a n y t h i n g but j u s t i f i e d by D i v i n e R i g h t , p u r i t y and r i g h t e o u s n e s s , 76 no, q u i t e i m p o s s i b l e one must teach p r i d e and greed, which they l e a r n i n s t a n t l y , t o l i v e u p r i g h t l y i n God's chosen democratic l a n d of s a i n t l i n e s s . — g l o r y s t o n e s The Charmaine t e a c h e r past devout and t i r e l e s s had t r i e d t o l i v e example of the v i r t u e s she wished t o i n c u l c a t e , f o r s a k i n g the most common comforts. She f o r the f i r s t time made h e r own c l o t h e s of rough c l o t h and simple, d e l i b e r a t i n g on h e r words and a c t i o n s , worrying of f a i l u r e s h o u r s l y , when need was, s a i d : "Keep f r e e . Don't s e l l out, keep f r e e . " When most i n t e n t she p h y s i c a l l y changed, body compacting from the supple, jaws<r squared, l i p s t h i n n e r , and h e r nose became Roman s t r o n g , without makeup she was blanched l i k e an almond, l i k e marzipan t o l o v e a v a i l e q u a l l y and mesmerizing, she made the rowdy meek, which was the one t h i n g the p r i n c i p a l commended, as he ate grapes one day at noon, but not the t r u t h , which, she f e l t , r e q u i r e d t a l k of e v o l u t i o n , at l e a s t to say i t took n o t h i n g from God and that t h i n g s do change now, don't they? and eskimos, she s a i d they were s u p e r i o r ( f r e e - l o v i n g never mentioned) i n f o u r d i m e n s i o n a l c o n c e p t i o n , which accounted f o r t h e i r t e c h n i c a l marvels, s e e i n g t h i n g s through time, i n movement, and through ear r a t h e r than eye, as s u r e l y i t i s odd t o say 'See what I mean' b a f f l i n g and they r e a c t e d with r e j e c t i o n , e s p e c i a l l y on the a b s o l u t e of s c i e n c e Unquestionable'. when she s a i d t h a t 77 g r a v i t y i s what you say i t i s , which equals question? and no one knows r e l e a s e a penny i t w i l l f a l l a g a i n , f o r cause e f f e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p i s a l s o q u e s t i o n A b s o l u t e l y NOT! t h e i r f a c e s s a i d which caused d i s c u s s i o n of meanings come t o s a n i t y and in s a n e , which she s a i d was mere d e v i a t i o n from the norm, the duty of democracy t o p r o t e c t , p s y c h o a n a l y s i s b e i n g the most v i l l a i n o u s of o p p r e s s i o n , s i n c e norm worship might be of s e n s e l e s s stone, might be wrong NO they answered which i s s u e s flamed h e r and when at l a s t h e r converts brought a host of parents down to h e r door, i n a p o o l of flame and ashes went a l l attempts, and wit h t h r e e c a r e f u l , p a r a l l e l pen st r o k e s she saw h e r name s t r u c k from the p a y r o l l though f i n a l l y because she was, they i m p l i e d , promiscuous, w i t h no d e n i a l made... — w o r d s "Satan," Monk spoke, i n t e r r u p t i n g h e r thoughts, and seeming f a t , i n d u l g e n t , proud, "the most m a g n i f i c e n t of f o o l s , took the clown d i v e o f f the s h e l f of our world. He d i d n ' t know t h a t the u n i v e r s e i s a c o l l e c t i o n of s h e l v e s , and God, a Prime Cabinet-Maker." Monk g r i p p e d a c i g a r e t t e between h i s t e e t h . "Which means n o t h i n g , " Charmaine s m i l e d . " E x a c t l y ! " h i s enormous f i n g e r i n h e r f a c e . "As wit h a l l t h i n g s . Now," he b i t the words o f f s h a r p l y , "where o l d sap Satan went wrong was i n t h i n k i n g t h a t the Grand Order pervaded 78 a l l t h i n g s j as on God's s h e l f , u n t i l he found h i m s e l f plummeting head f i r s t through chaos." "Dear me, sad t h i n g , " s a i d Charmaine. "A good t h i n g ! " s a i d Monk, " f o r Satan, i n h i s j e a l o u s y , e n t i c e d man to take of the Tree of Knowledge, which imparts awareness of chaos. So we a l l jump i n o f f the s h e l f , w i t h t h i s d i f f e r e n c e , t h a t we do i t knowing God i s c e n t r a l and i n d i v i s i b l e and t h e r e f o r e must be the most minute t h i n g imaginable, which i s a b s o l u t e z e r o . What i s so unchangeable as z e r o ! E d u c a t i o n should f a c i l i t a t e the approach t o z e r o . T r o u b l e i s , education's a s o r t of cabinet-making journeymanship. Everybody b u i l d i n g t h e i r own s h e l v e s , n a i l i n g e v e r y t h i n g down." "Things get b i g g e r , when they move toward t r u t h , " Hugh suggested. "In a way," agreed Monk. "No. I mean God i s n ' t z e r o . " "Damn i t ! What r i g h t have you got to c o n t r a d i c t me without e i t h e r debating the p o i n t l o g i c a l l y , o r q u a l i f y i n g i t as based on f a i t h ! " "The r i g h t of Satan!" "Yes, yes," s a i d Charmaine... — r e p r o a c h ...as w i t h a t o y f o i l , she made the r i p o s t e t h a t i f God was z e r o . . . and Hugh thought t h a t someone was screwy, he or Monk... then Satan, she s a i d , f l u n g h i m s e l f i n t o the l a p of God when he dove i n t o chaos... and Hugh thought, w h i l e they argued i t , t h a t these words of Monk's were o n l y to do w i t h s o c i a l 79 framework, which bumblely and a n t - l i k e maybe e q u a l l e d a l l of mankind's achievement, i n f a c t , which accounted the h a t r e d and f e a r of e c c e n t r i c i t y , as b e a r d l y he knew and sure, h i s l i f e t i m e l e a r n e d of p o v e r t y , what b l a c k men knew, the b i t t e r s i n of i t , and wickedness of beards, which was perhaps the same as t h i s of Monk's, meaning t h a t no account should be of i n d i v i d u a l and h e a r t and such, but only systems b u i l t . . . Yet, Monk had not s a i d t h a t , no, Zero was what he'd s a i d , and Hugh f e l t t h e r e was no, somewhere a no to t h a t , and wondered what the H e l l was i n between? — l a m e n t : one Between, he thought, the F a l l . i'ng a l l was t h a t he had to say p l u s something t o the e f f e c t (which a f t e r a l l , was not encouragement t o him, to say the l e a s t ) or maybe was? f o r he went from f e e l i n g s h i t l q u i t i t a l l the murk and jug of bub-B-les gUppy-mouthed t h a t o n l y i n s t u p i d i t y was t h e r e f e l i c i t y ( h i s c i g a r e t t e machine was no good r e a l l y , s i n c e , though c i g a r e t t e s were cheaper, i t took about an hour t o r o l l two packs and the tobacco a l l f e l l out the ends, limp, and ptoo-ptooing out some l o o s e b i t s of i t , Charmaine smiled at i t ) he was a l i t t l e odd boy. from f e e l i n g gUppy, to somehow the d e c i s i o n t h a t t o s p i t e him he would get educated o r maybe i t was Charmaine on Monk 80 spoke of o l d books t e l l Pop-Ping i t may have been t h a t low Satan, thou eanst never overcome t h y m i s e r i e s or because newly f o r Hugh he saw t h i s eye of Monk, knocking h i s l i g h t e r on t h e t a b l e , f a c e hard, as he swung about i n the c h a i r , l e g s c r o s s e d , the b a l d s k i n of h i s head t a u t , though Hugh had thought i t m o s t ly joke but i t was he meant i t what d i d i t make him then? f i e r c e from b e l i e f i n a b s o l u t e and f a i l u r e of r e a l i t y ? not c y n i c r e a l l y ? spoke on, of Brave New World c h o i c e admire f o r o l d Huxley v i s i o n c l a r i t y and i t s t r u c k Hugh t h a t f o r the f i r s t time man c o u l d see heaven coming on t h i s e arth t h a t i t was G h a s t l y B a s t a r d i z e d Inhuman... i n g r e a t p r o s p e r i t y were c a s t down from t h e i r h i g h degree i n t o c a l a m i t y and so they d i e d , Monk s a i d but see, Hugh thought otherwords though had thought, smash the b l a s t e d mes-s to b i t s which was r i g h t you see t h a t Heaven was an a n t i q u a t e d c o n c e p t i o n , o r t h o d o x l y , and would be i n t o l e r a b l e , and r e a l l y H e l l was best and a l l i n b i t s so when Monk s a i d t h a t a l l i n t e l l i g e n c e must l e a d t o one of c y n i c i s m , martyrdom, or o b l i v i o n i t maybe made Hugh mad to s p i t e i t Monk was begone of o l d woe f e l l o w s and l i f e ' s c u b i c l e n e s s and on t h a t genius i s marked by b r e a k i n g of c o n v e n t i o n a l approach i n such a way that makes conventions immediately seem s i l l y , as Alexander cut the Gordian knot when he was supposed to spend the day u n t y i n g i t 81 which never can be t a u g h t . . . w h i l e Hugh was thanking H e l l t h a t Adam shook the apple t r e e , c a u s i n g f a l l t o Man's s a l v a t i o n -l i m i t a t i o n or e l s e they would a l l have been damned i n s i p i d l y t o P a r a d i s e . . . C u r s i n g l y , Monk s a i d t h a t nut house c e l l s are f i l l e d w i t h men whose a c t s were d i f f e r e n t from genius o n l y i n t h a t they made themselves seem s i l l y t o the c l o t s , t h a t i s , who l o c k them up, and went on t h a t there was no r o l e f o r the g r e a t i n t h i s w o r l d , which s t a r v e s them, r e f u s i n g t h a t they do f o r i t , and one s t e p i n , they p e r i s h , l i k e Samson, f o r l o v e , and H e r c u l e s , who was s u c c e s s f u l when s e l f i s h , but l o v i n g , d i e d , and Caesar stabbed to p i e c e s i t was not so, Hugh thought Monk had t h i s about H i t l e r t o o , though hadn't brought i t up, f o r A d o l f ' s thoroughness and c o n s i s t e n c y , even to 'far-speak' f o r telephone the genius, he s a i d , of t h i s c e n t u r y i t was not r i g h t , somewhere, Hugh thought, though arguments t h a t so many others had done the dying f o r A d o l f , Monk would have s a i d i t was the same f o r Caesar t o o , e t c . , o r t h a t he d i d not l i k e the heaven the N a z i s would have g i v e n , Monk would have s a i d t h a t none the l e s s the world had now taken i t over to make f o r i t s e l f e a g e r l y . . . through a l l t h i s bunk, Hugh en j o y i n g the smoothness of the maple c h a i r , s a t o p t i m i s t i -c a l l y h a t i n g p a r a d i s e and f i n d i n g h i s dime and n i c k e l f o r the bus i n the bottom of h i s pocket, n o t , as he'd w o r r i e d , gone through the h o l e t h e r e , and he stood t o say so l o n g , and was t o ask Char-maine i f she was going out t h a t n i g h t , but with Malcolm t h e r e , d i d n o t . 82 Two on a Bus — f o e s espyed: p a r t two P e t e r M i l l e r got on the bus and sat w i t h Hugh, t a l k i n g , though Hugh seldom t a l k e d on buses, l i k i n g t o l i s t e n i n them, o r h a t i n g t o , l o o k i n g out the windows i t always d r i z z l e d out bus windows b e s i d e s , t h e r e was an a n g e l , or maybe a she d e v i l , t h a t got on the bus b e f o r e M i l l e r , with a good chance she would s i t by him, t h e r e being only t h r e e or f o u r s e a t s , and her eyes had l i c k e d him i f he would be s u i t a b l e to s i t b e s i d e , so he thought she would have, but w h i l e she decided, M i l l e r elbowed i n and l a r d e d down and she stepped f u r t h e r back so t h a t Hugh c o u l d not see h e r knee between the h i g h boots and the s k i r t but t h i n k i n g t h a t i t would be best to be l i k e Alexander, a l o o f from such t h i n g s , t a k i n g h i s women c o n v e n i e n t l y , as horses say, s t r i d i n g through mobs of swooning n u b i l e s , being q u i t e i n d i f f e r e n t r i d h i m s e l f of covetousness, as M i l t o n says, and meanness, i f he would be g r e a t , and not so soon be shepherd warm f o r g i r l s , impetuously, and not angry e i t h e r , though M i l l e r was a d u l l lump s t i l l , no matter, s i n c e the dud was impervious to i n s u l t s , and i t was he who l o s t by h a t i n g , sometimes t h i n k i n g a l l weirdo from i t , though he d i d at those times keep o p i n i o n s t o h i m s e l f , g l a d l y , f o r M i l l e r e s p e c i a l l y type would nod and say, "Sure," o n l y w i t h a l o o k so blank i t f l a t t e n s and l e t s out t h a t he gleebs about i t , c h u c k l i n g , a f t e r w a r d s , w h i l e l e a d i n g him to speak, with , "That's a good i d e a , " and c a r e f u l f l a t t e r , l i k e p r e t e n d i n g i n t e r e s t i n 83 Hugh's co u r s e s , and so on, though maybe i t i s M i l l e r i s a simpleton-, they are hard t o t e l l from f l a t t e r e r s , and cannot be' t r u s t e d , as Monk's a d v i c e , i t i s d i f f i c u l t , Monk might have planned i t a l l , the fox i t would be g r e a t a c t i n g had he? no he had meant i t w i t h Charmaine now, one c o u l d t e l l women were always so s e r i o u s w i t h t h e i r a d v i c e , should not be s e r i o u s , "Do not get s e r i o u s , " she'd s a i d they gave poor a d v i c e , not to be taken He had been s e r i o u s and yet accepted from h e r t h a t t h a t was the way she was f o r everyone, so s p r i t e l y l o v e l y , s i l v e r dash ever c a s c a d i n g from h e r , even when she was s t i l l , e s p e c i a l l y when s t i l l , h er eyes darted and thousands of e x p r e s s i o n s f i n e l y d i f f e r e n t she was never s t i l l , b u t t e r flow melt of l i g h t p l a y over areas of s w e l l and mystery, fathomless, p i e r c e w a f t i n g , a t once he despised h e r gorgeouses and d a r l i n g s to everyone loved t h a t of h e r f e l t d i minished to some p a r t i c l e (him) of unknown otherness a l l pike s t a f f p l a i n t o h e r and would mock them 'Dahlinks*, and say ' S o r r y 1 , not to be s e r i o u s , she was so s e r i o u s about i t , f l i g h t y only mothers' and wives* a d v i c e made sense they probably knew he never knew so c l o s e she. f i t t e d p r e c i s e the f o o l romance image g i r l of green and :s-f a r - p a s s i n g n e s s t h a t he chose by t h e r e was always t h a t nose they had t o have, a c q u i l i n e they say, and mouth l i k e r e f l e c t i o n , r a p i d s h i f t i n g i t was f a c e s mostly and the 'Dahlinks' b i t of hurry-be-my-love, now shadowly, r i g h t from h i s f i r s t Mary who was a good two f e e t t a l l e r and went t r o u t f i s h i n g up the f a l l s w i t h him, whose age he c o u l d not remember, when he was a g r a s s -hopper, u n t i l , she defriend.ed over one damn t r o u t he caught f o r 84 h e r and had to keep h i m s e l f h e r f a t h e r went around the crummy community p e t i t i o n i n g , and d e l i v e r e d to the o l d man t h e i r o p i n i o n t h a t he should not k i c k Antoine o f f the p r o p e r t y the o l d man s a i d , "No, i t had not c r o s s e d h i s mind," why should they do t h a t , d i r t y b a s t a r d s ! guy next door always b i t c h i n g he c o u l d not park i n the lane the o l d man paved, b e f o r e they found, at r e -s u r v e y i n g , t h a t i t was on the neigbour's p r o p e r t y and the time he took the whole paycheck to the corner s t o r e and p a i d the b i l l up, people a l l about, the g r o c e r s a i d no more c r e d i t , v e r y l o u d , too bad a r i s k , B u l l S h i t ! the o l d man would have d i e d b e f o r e he l e f t a b i l l unpaid, and as i t turned out he d i d , which was more tha n many a f f l u e n t c o u l d say, a man's worth what he owes stout god-parents greetous and p l u s h , suggested they take Hugh t o l o o k a f t e r , not t h a t they would undergo the expense, but the d i s p u t e was something to t e l l t h e i r neighbours, "No thank you," H e l l ! he should have booted t h e i r arses out not no-thank-your-g r a c i o u s n e s s e s but he always had r e s p e c t , the o l d man, f o r those who were b e t t e r o f f than he who promised of t h e i r own a c c o r d t o s i g n a l o a n f o r Hugh t o go to s c h o o l i n the P a l l , and Hugh went to the o f f i c e on the l a s t F r i d a y b e f o r e he had to l e a v e , waited h a l f the day while the b i g shot f r i t t e d , and when he f i n a l l y took him, Hugh t o t a l l y e x p e c t i n g , asked the l o a n , and what but god-parent, a l l a s t r u e k , c a l l e d him a bum or b e a t n i k , which was synonymous to him, because he had not worked t h a t summer, but s t u d i e d n i g h t s , a v o i d i n g TV and d i s t r a c t i o n s , s t a y i n g 85 up the n i g h t s god-parent s a i d , "Cut t h a t s t u p i d heard o f f ! " and ended, Hugh supposed, w e t t i n g h i s pants, hut he would c o n s i d e r s i g n i n g i f Hugh c o u l d prove t h a t he had done some work, and s a y i n g t h a t he would Hugh buggered o f f and found o l d S c o t t y , who knew him not from a ground h o l e , who made the l o a n r i g h t then. a l l the same, t h e r e was once at l e a s t t h a t he was smart enough t o r e f u s e t h a t t i t , the 1st Great O f f e r , t h a t he put Hugh through as an engineer, to l a t e r work f o r him, H e l l I what t h a t would have been I and god-parent chose the c o f f i n , though he would have had a p i n e box, "We have to be p r a c t i c a l , " he s a i d , and t h a t he would look a f t e r i t , though i n the end Hugh paid the two b i t ... R a t r a - t a t - a - t a t - a - s p i l l - y o u r - g u t s . . . "What's t h a t ? " good Godl "Just memorizing something." "What?" "By; r e p e t i t i o n . " none of h i s b u s i n e s s , t r y i n g to catch?' me out to mow them down i n smoke- and blood f o r dog meat ohhl so many damned f o o l himl and worst of a l l the time so f r a i d of b e i n g e x p e l l e d he t o l d the G o l i a t h p r i n c i p a l as h e l d him up by the neck t h a t they c o u l d not see h i s f a t h e r , Hugh s a i d t h a t he had none, t h a t he l i v e d w i t h h i s u n c l e s h i t ! oh s h i t ! what i d i o c y ! the o l d man was h u r t by t h a t , though the p r i n c i p a l thought i t common e l i m i n a t e the pest C h r i s t ! b l o t out a l l l i v i n g r e c o r d of the mess! bury him oohhh, what a sap! "What does the 'S' on your sweater stand f o r dad?" He answered, 86 "Sap." f e u d a l i s good, t o axe down those h u m i l i a t o r ones, or be axed down, and have i t over, no psychos then, they vented e v e r y t h i n g , they would have seen t h a t pip-squeak he was not so n o t h i n g simple t h a t ' s i t 1 i t would not be enough t o k i l l them, b e t t e r somehow to make them know, i f they c o u l d o n l y know, when dyin g , how t h e i r l i v e s added t o a f a r t how g l e e f u l , jumping at t h e i r death throe. v i s i o n of i t : Hugh behind a desk of t h i r t y f o o t mahogany r e f l e x i o n , coming t a t t e r e d i n long queues across a m i l e of c o r r i d o r , t o him, "Who's next, Miss Jones?" she s e x i l y says, "Him!" and Hugh says, "Say, don't I know you from somewhere, f e l l o w ? " "Oh son, I am your g o d f a t h e r . " "Is t h a t so? Heavens! W e l l . How are you doing these days? We must keep s l u g g i n g . Keep our heads above water, you know." "I've been doing d e s p e r a t e l y son, d e s p e r a t e l y . " "My, i s t h a t so? That i s too bad. But r e a l l y , t h e r e i s n o t h i n g we can do f o r you r i g h t now. Come back say i n a year or seven months or so and I ' l l t r y to keep you i n mind. Who knows, perhaps we may come up wit h something you can do, somehow." "We don't h i r e dogs," god-parent s a i d , when Hugh s a i d he would work l i k e one How do you answer t h a t ? i t i s no use t o be l e s s e r f o r i t , s e l f l y , C h r i s t - l i k e d i e , but t h a t ' s p a t h e t i c a l l y t o o , Hugh would go down i n flame and f l a s h i n g swords, t o have them know h i s s t e e l but they knew h i s , two thousand y e a r s , a l l p l o d d i n g a f t e r whether why or not, they f o l l o w e d , so he won out i n the end but even C h r i s t , t h i n k now, d i d nbt c o n c i l i a t e w i t h enemies, Whitehead says, i s d e s t r u c t i v e of moral candour i n d i s c r e p a n c y , he should be t r u e t o o n e s e l f , 87 then they never know, and i t would f o l l o w they must be f a l s e to every man s t i l l , they eould have t h e i r go he conquered dead on c r o s s h i s elbow on the window, c h i n i n h i s hand, t h e r e was i n k on h i s f i n g e r s from the l e a k y pen and he remembered he would f i l l h i s c a r t r i d g e with needle and s y r i n g e when he got home. — g r i s t » M i l l e r squirmed on the seat b e s i d e Hugh, He p u l l e d h i s t r o u s e r s up about the knees. The dampness was washing out the p r e s s . He r e i n f o r c e d i t , p i n c h i n g the c l o t h between h i s thumb and f o r e f i n g e r , t h i n k i n g . . . Uggh, damnI He mus' press 'em b e f o r e g o i n g t o the f r a t . The l i q u o r ' d cost a couple'a bucks. Ten-spot anyway. There was o n l y twelve i n h i s money box. He'd h a f t a s k i p the r e n t . A l b e r t could wait f o r Tuesday. M i l l e r ' d go to the bank then, when he got the chance. Nineteen d o l l a r s f o r them basement rooms was robbery, anyways. Always damp so near the r i v e r . Couldn't keep n o t h i n 1 p r e s s e d . I t ' s a wonder the whole house d i d n ' t f l o a t away with t h e s p r i n g r a i n s . Hear the p i s s y water a l l n i g h t long under the b r i d g e . Ruined h i s s l e e p . Impossible to get a decent p l a c e to l i v e . Pat A l i c e ' s was worse, with h e r s t u p i d house r u l e s . Took h a l f a y e a r to get p e r m i s s i o n to p l a y c a r d s . And no b e t t i n g . He'd get John and A l a n i n t o another game of poker. T h i r t y - f o u r bucks ahead l a s t time. The s t u p i d n i t s b l u f f themselves broke, b e t t i n g on every a r s e l - t a r t hand whether they get the cards or n o t . 88 The f i n k s at t h a t f a t woman's d i d n ' t want t o bet i f A l i c e would'a l e t 'em. Phonies. A r t s y - f a r t s y . Smart as s e s . L i k e Hugh Simon. M u t t e r i n g and d r o o l i n g over the seat i n f r o n t of him. A r g u i n g about the s u p e r i o r i t y of h i s s h i t t e n a r t s c o u r s e . With a B.A. he's got beansl What co u l d he doi In Business Admin. M i l l e r c o u l d count on g e t t i n g some p o s i t i o n . He was reminded t h a t t h e r e was an essay due on Monday. There'd be t i m e . G u l l some f o o t n o t e s from books l i s t e d i n a b i b l i o g r a p h y . A l i t t l e p l a g i a r i s m . A l o t of B.S. P l e n t y of "which i s s i m i l a r t o " , and "not u n l i k e " — i t wouldn't matter what. Fancied up w i t h the r i g h t l i n g o . Good f o r another t e n marks o r so. He'd heard t h a t some f r a t s kept essays on f i l e . The boys at the f a t one's would o b j e c t t o t h a t . Crazy snobs. A b i g d e a l j u s t g e t t i n g them to lend t h e i r n o t e s . Too cheap t o lend a f i v e cent stamp. He got them anyway. I t was s i m p l e . They were so stunned. That Knight was the p r i z e ass of them a l l . And C l a r k e . P r o f e s s i o n a l s t u d e n t s . Bumming t h e i r time away. Real s l o b s . Ashamed to b r i n g anyone to the house w i t h so many s c r e w b a l l s around. God, he was g l a d t o be out of t h e r e . They had the run of the house at A l b e r t ' s . Could w r e s t l e i n the l i v i n g room i f t h a t t w i t hadn't put h i s f o o t through the TV tube. Why should he pay h a l f of i t ? I f he'd put h i s f o o t through i t , i t ' d be d i f f e r e n t . Clumsy John was the one. Hayseed John, s i t t i n g on the r i v e r bank l i s t e n i n g t o the f i s h jump. What a r i o t I Banging the pans through the bushes to r o u t those c o u p l e s . They got dressed i n a h u r r y . M i l l e r s troked the top of h i s head. H i s b l a c k h a i r was l i k e w i r e . He h e f t e d h i s cheeks, and pushed on out with h i s 89 tongue, c l e a n i n g the gums. The cheeks were pendulous, p a t t y -c a k i n g h i s c h i n when he walked. The nose was broad and enduring between them; broken, pug, and s t a b i l i z i n g . 90 October 31st: Halloween — r e b u t t a l : one M i l l e r put h i s f o o t down h e a v i l y from the bus i n mud, contemplating l o a t h i n g of g r u e l , but as th a t day he had composed the menu, a n t i c i p a t e d g r i l l e d pork chops w i t h g a r l i c , onions f r i e d , potatoes baked, b u t t e r e d asparagus. I t was t e n a f t e r s i x — i n ' ; t i m e perhaps t o get some m i l k b e f o r e the others slopped i t up. The young pups sucked up to A l b e r t . John and A l a n shared the g a r r e t l e v e l , which had a c e n t r a l room they c a l l e d t h e i r S o l a r Room, with an immense, le a k y s k y l i g h t , r e t a i n i n g enough r a i n w a t e r t h a t i n wet seasons i t dr i p p e d p e r p e t u a l l y i n t o a c r o c k e r y pot. There were s m a l l , oddly shaped windows of s t a i n e d g l a s s , as t h e r e o f t e n are i n the obscure c o r n e r s of o l d b u i l d i n g s . In the dormers they were round, and at the house's ends, of c r e s c e n t shape. In d a y l i g h t the room was a geometry of forms, made by the l i n e s of l i g h t t h a t mostly f e l l upon a stone s u n d i a l r e s t i n g i n the middle of the room, l e f t i n the a t t i c s i n c e b e f o r e the r e n o v a t i o n s ; a l s o an a s t r o l a b e and t e l e s c o p e . They o f t e n s t u d i e d t h e s t a r s at n i g h t w i t h c h a r t s , s l i d e r u l e s , and instruments with which t o c a l c u l a t e . M i l l e r r a t t l e d the door open, took h i s toe-rubbers o f f , and hung h i s c o a t . He shook drops from h i s head, onto the m i r r o r . H i s c h a i r stood by i t s e l f on one s i d e of the t a b l e . They had begun without him. He tucked the napkin beneath h i s c o l l a r , c l e a r e d h i s t h r o a t , bent low, and c l o s e d h i s f i s t around the f o r k . He cut the pork chops, u s i n g j u s t the f o r k . I t g r i t t e d on the p l a t e . I t plunged the f i r s t chunk i n t o the mouth, w e l l 91 i n , back on the tongue. ._The t e e t h clamped down on the prongs and h e l d t h e r e while he scraped the f o r k out. He swept more i n , chomped down, c a t c h i n g sometimes f o r k f u l s h a l f - i n , with the u p t h r u s t of h i s jaw, the food d a n g l i n g momentarily, but he caught i t d e f t l y with a t a b l e s p o o n t h a t he h e l d ready i n h i s l e f t hand, and conveyed i t p r o p e r l y i n t o the r e g i o n s of the molars. The o t h e r s f i n i s h e d the main course and moved i n t o the l i v i n g room w i t h t h e i r c ookies and t e a . John turned on the t e l e v i s i o n . A l a n began to read the paper. A l b e r t c l u t c h e d the arms of h i s c h a i r and scowled at M i l l e r , whose p o s t e r i o r hung w e l l over both s i d e s of the c h a i r . M i l l e r ate more r a p i d l y , bent t o i t , the c u t l e r y c l a n k i n g on h i s t e e t h , a 1 p l o c k - s l o c k ' sound accompanying, as he chewed w i t h mouth open. A l b e r t winced. I t was l i k e a plunger i n a t o i l e t bowl. He made n a s a l sounds too: 'hnnnuuh, nnuuh,' r e m i n i s c e n t growls, as he a t e . A l b e r t c o u l d not eat h i s c o o k i e s . — g r i s t M i l l e r f i n i s h e d . He l i f t e d h i s ass s l i g h t l y , and, s t i l l . bent over, t h r u s t the c h a i r back. He s h u f f l e d i n t o the l i v i n g room wi t h h i s c o o k i e s and t e a . The arm c h a i r s were a l l taken. He would have to s i t on the s o f a . He l i k e d the b l u e armchair under the l i g h t . The s o f a made him i t c h y . "Goddamn i t i You got the paper a g a i n ! Why can't we take t u r n s h a v i n g i t f i r s t ? " "I got i t f i r s t , " A l a n s a i d . " S h i t ! You take hours to read i t . " 92 "Here. Have t h i s s e c t i o n . " "What? The f u n n i e s and ads 1 Who the h e l l wants them?" "I guess y o u ' l l have to wait then." "I guess I always have to wait around t h i s p l a c e . I don't see what the h e l l . . . " "Oh, be q u i e t , w i l l you? We want to l i s t e n . " A l b e r t nodded at the t e l e v i s i o n . "You watching TV?" "What's i t l o o k l i k e t o you, M i l l e r ? " "You watching t h a t c rap! What's t h a t program? M y r t l e ? " "Hazel, f o r C h r i s ' sake." " M y r t l e J o h n laughed, " M y r t l e ! " "That's what I thought. Watching that c r a p . Stupid s e r v a n t t e l l i n g everybody how t o l i v e . " " W e ll, l e t us watch i t , w i l l you," A l b e r t ' s f a c e was reddening. "What r i g h t has t h a t dumb twat to push everybody around? D i c t a t o r ! " "We l i k e i t . A l l r i g h t ? " "No, A l b e r t , i t ' s not a l l r i g h t . That's what I'm s a y i n g . " " J u s t shut up, w i l l you." "Can't t a l k around here now." "Dum-dum-de-dum." "Only t r y i n g t o make c o n v e r s a t i o n . How you coming with the paper? S t i l l on the f r o n t page?" "Geeze, here's something about a r i c h guy i n Mexico got married by c o n t r a c t . H i s f a t h e r arranged i t when he was two y e a r s o l d . He never saw the g i r l , i t says, u n t i l a week b e f o r e 93 the wedding." "So what? You always read the i r r e l e v a n t s t u f f — might as well give me the paper." "I didn't think they s t i l l did that kind of thing." "What the h e l l you mean? What's wrong with i t ? " "W i l l you two shut up! Go somewhere else!" Alan l i f t e d the paper and turned h i s head into i t . "Don't put your nose i n the paper.' I'm not f i n i s h e d . " "They're t r y i n g to l i s t e n to the TV." "Yes, be quiet!" Albert screamed. "Let me f i n i s h , w i l l you! What makes you think because you l i k e some broad one moment i t ' s a reason to say y o u ' l l l i k e her the next? H e l l ! You can pick up broads l i k e that any time." "Yes, and maybe i f you could, you wouldn't want your father to procure yours," Albert said, crossing h i s arms. "Albert, old man, I can get a broad any time I want. Anyway, I haven't been divorced yet." "There's no use. There's no use at a l l . You have to shoot your mouth off here with the TV. Well, stay here, w i l l you!" He went u p s t a i r s . "Old man Jones. Biggest Fudd i n town." "Hey Alan," John asked, "any good movies on? You f e e l l i k e going out?" "Yeah. I ' l l look and see." "I'm i n v i t e d to a f r a t party. You kids should come." "Say, that's O.K., l e t ' s go." Alan looked at John. "O.K." "I'm going to change my pants," M i l l e r said. " I ' l l just 94 be a minute." "Should we get dressed?" "No. I got some mud on my pants." A l a n took up the paper a g a i n . "Hey, are you going t o go with him?" "Might as w e l l . " "This i s gonna be h e l l . " He went t o the window. " I t ' s s t i l l r a i n i n g . Hey, why don't I go and shout down t h a t w e ' l l walk ahead?" "Why?" "Let's walk ahead. I ' l l shout down. O.K.?" " A l l r i g h t . " "Hey! Pete!" "What?" "Hey, w e ' l l walk a l i t t l e ahead and you c a t c h up, O.K.?" "What!" "We'll go slow." "Well j u s t a minute, w i l l you. I'm p u t t i n g my pants on now. I don't haveta take o f f my shoes." "Oh, O.K." John put h i s coat on and looked out the window. "This i s gonna be pure h e l l . " A l a n walked over t o him. "Not r a i n i n g too bad to walk, i s i t ? " "I guess n o t . " M i l l e r came up. "I'm ready. L e t ' s go. That d i d n ' t take l o n g , eh?" "No." 95 "You got a key?" "Yeah." "Say, what time i s i t ? " "Seven-fifteen." "A l i t t l e early. Let's go to the put) f i r s t . You got proof?" "John has, but I'm not twenty-one." "You're not twenty-one?" "No." "How old?" "Nineteen." "No kidding?" "Nope." "You look more than twenty-one 1 " "You think so?" "Sure. I t must be because you're t a l l . " "Hey, where you goin'?" "This way Johnnie-boy. There's a short cut." They went down a lane and walked along a levee on the Thames. . "See up there." M i l l e r pointed. "What?" "The bridge. That's B l a c k f r i a r ' s Bridge." "Oh." "See the girders up there?" "Yeah." "We used to get drunk, and comin' home we'd cross the bridge by walking over the girders up there." 96 "Yeah I" "You got t o he drunk f o r t h a t , " M i l l e r s a i d . The b r i d g e had a plank f l o o r and sounded wooden-echoing l i k e ogres might l i v e under i t . On the oth e r s i d e , a s t a i r c a s e w i t h two-by-four and h a n d - r a i l s and c l i n g i n g shrubs, ascended s t e e p l y . "Now. Wait'11 we come to the c o r n e r and loo k at the s t r e e t s i g n . " "Why?" "There, l o o k . We're on Hymen S t r e e t . " "Hymen S t r e e t ! Ha, ha! We'd b e t t e r not go any f u r t h e r . " "Hey, which pub we g o i n ' t o ? " asked John. "The Ceeps." "Where's t h a t ? " "The C.P.R.i" "Oh, yeah." "Sure, i t ' s g r e a t . " There was a tannery b e s i d e the beer p a r l o u r t h a t gave the are a a heavy b i t i n g s m e l l , l i k e fermenting dung. They went i n . M i l l e r : L e t ' s p l a y B u l l - S h i t Poker to dec i d e who pays. John: What's . B u l l - S h i t Poker? M i l l e r : Don't you know an y t h i n g ! Look, i t ' s the same as poker but you use the s e r i a l numbers on b i l l s and have more'n f i v e c a r d s . You got some b i l l s ? John: I've got two bucks. Two ones. M i l l e r : H e l l ! That won't be any good! How about you? A l a n : I got a f i n . M i l l e r : I got a t e n spo t . Here, gimme the f i n . I ' l l get 97 some ones. Say, they got pepperoni h e r e . I'm going t o get some. You want some? A l a n : You want some John? John: No. A l a n : No. Get some peanuts. M i l l e r : Peanuts. J u s t a minute. John': T h i s i s goinna be h e l l ! I haven't got the dough f o r t h i s . A l a n : I ' l l l o a n you some i f you need i t . J ohn: Oh, s h i t ! The T e l e v i s i o n : (slow and d e l i b e r a t i n g ) Here's the deed t o my ranch. John: Watch! Here he comes. M i l l e r : What's t h a t ? John: ' Huh,' what? M i l l e r : That guy. Him! A l a n : What about him? M i l l e r : He was l o o k i n g at you. A l a n : At me? Yeah? He l o o k s a g a i n , catches the eye of the i n d i c a t e d , t u r n s back. M i l l e r : You know him? A l a n : No M i l l e r : Why's he l o o k i n g a t you l i k e t h a t ? T e l e v i s i o n : (determined) I owe you twenty thousand d o l l a r s , not a cent more. M i l l e r : Are you going t o l e t him get away w i t h t h a t ? A l a n : What? 98 M i l l e r : Looking at you l i k e t h a t I A l a n : I t doesn't h u r t me any. Waiter: Three d r a f t ? He put them on the t a b l e . M i l l e r : Now lo o k ! We haven't played B u l l - S h i t y e t . Who's got change? A l a n : Here. M i l l e r : Not enough. Put t h i s with i t . Now, chug-a-lug. A l a n d r i n k s i t s t r a i g h t down. M i l l e r : Say, you d i d t h a t without g u l p i n g ! How d'you do t h a t ? A l a n : I don't know. I j u s t do i t . M i l l e r : I've always wondered how you do t h a t . How many d r a f t can you h o l d ? A l a n : About s i x . M i l l e r : S i x ! Is t h a t a l l . W e l l , t r y f o r e i g h t . Always t r y t o do a l i t t l e b e t t e r next time, o r what's a Heaven f o r ? A l a n : Yeah. T e l e v i s i o n : (a drawl) There's many bad men i n town, B i l l . M i l l e r : Now, B u l l - S h i t Poker. Where's your b i l l s ? John: You've got them. M i l l e r : What!' John: You've got them. M i l l e r : Me? Are you sure? John: Sure. I t h i n k so. Alan? A l a n : You've got them. M i l l e r : I was onl y k i d d i n g . How many do you get? A l a n : F i v e . 99 M i l l e r : F i v e I You had a two. A l a n : No. A f i v e . M i l l e r : I s t h a t r i g h t ? John: Yes. I had two ones. M i l l e r : I owe you two ones? John: No. I got them h e r e . I had them. M i l l e r : Aha! I thought so. A l a n : You owe me a f i v e . M i l l e r : Yes, y e s . Here. One, two, t h r e e , f o u r , f i v e . No, I've got a b e t t e r i d e a . G-ive them back. Look, w e ' l l put them i n a p i l e h e r e . Yours too John. Now, everybody draws one. Zeros are t e n s . Somebody s t a r t s and says what he t h i n k s the b e s t hand can be out of the t h r e e s e r i a l numbers. Then the next guy, c l o c k w i s e , has t o b e t t e r t h a t , or say ' B u l l - S h i t 1 . I f the hand you c a l l e d B u l l - S h i t t u r n s up, you pay. I f i t doesn't t u r n up, the one c a l l e d pays. I ' l l go f i r s t and say t h r e e f i v e s . A l a n : Three f o u r s . M i l l e r : No* no. What's wrong wi t h you? You've got to go h i g h e r . A l a n : Oh yeah. O.K., f o u r f i v e s . . ' * John: F i v e f i v e s . M i l l e r : B u l l - S h i t ! I've got no f i v e s . You? John: One. A l a n : Two. M i l l e r : You pay. You d i d n ' t have to s t i c k t o f i v e s , you know. You c o u l d have s a i d f o u r s i x e s . John: I know. M i l l e r : Waiter, w a i t e r ! Don't pass. Good. John, t i p 100 the guy. Look, drop another round on the way back. W e ' l l f i n i s h t hese i n a second. T e l e v i s i o n : ( t h r e a t e n i n g ) You haven't seen the l a s t of me. I ' l l be back with some of my boys. A l a n : Bottoms up. M i l l e r : Good. Say John, you got h a l f l e f t . H urry. Wow, B u l l - S h i t a g a i n . Quick, t o c a t c h him on the way back. John, you go f i r s t . John: Two aces. M i l l e r : Four s i x e s . A l a n : Four sevens. M i l l e r : Did you change your b i l l ? A l a n : Yes. M i l l e r : O.K. John: Four t e n s . M i l l e r : Four t e n s , eh. O.K., f i v e t e n s . A l a n : S i x t e n s . John: B u l l - S h i t i M i l l e r : How many you got? A l a n : Three. M i l l e r : One. John: One. M i l l e r : You l o s e . J u s t i n time. Pay the man. Good. H e ' l l be a minute t h i s t i m e. We can take i t easy. L e t ' s get the next round. L o s e r f i r s t . Change b i l l s . A l a n : Pour sevens. John: F i v e sevens. M i l l e r : . E i g h t sevens. 101 A l a n : JTor l o r d ' s sake, B u l l - S h i t ! M i l l e r : How many you got? A l a n : Three. John: Two. M i l l e r : And I have t h r e e , i s e i g h t . Ha, ha. You l o s e . A l a n : G-eeze, a g a i n ! M i l l e r : Ha, ha. T e l e v i s i o n : (booming and a u t h o r i t a t i v e ) You f o u r men go t h a t way. The r e s t uh yuh f o l l o w me. John: Expensive way to d r i n k . M i l l e r : What do you mean by t h a t ? Say, t h e r e ' s that guy a g a i n . He's l e a v i n g . Didn't stay l o n g . Must have been l o o k i n g f o r somebody. Was he l o o k i n g f o r you? John: Me? M i l l e r : No! Not you, s t u p i d . A l a n : I t e l l you, I don't know him. M i l l e r : He was l o o k i n g f o r somebody. John: Queer l o o k i n g guy, eh. A l a n : Odd. John: Strange. M i l l e r : Do you t h i n k so? John: W e l l . . . M i l l e r : Here's the w a i t e r . Quick, bottoms up. A l a n : I pay. T e l e v i s i o n : Ta-da-dum, ta-da-dum, ta-da-dum. M i l l e r : Aaahh, t h a t ' s good. O.K.,. B u l l - S h i t . John: l e t ' s n o t . L e t ' s j u s t take t u r n s on rounds. M i l l e r : Why? 102 A l a n : We haven't enough to r i s k l o s i n g too o f t e n . M i l l e r : You d i s a p p o i n t me. You're h o s t i l e . A l a n : I'm n o t . M i l l e r : Whose round?. Who's going to s t a r t the round? T e l e v i s i o n : Economy s i z e . A l a n : r I w i l l . M i l l e r : Say, y o u ' l l l i k e t h i s f r a t . Great p l a c e t o p i c k up broads. A l a n : You ever get one th e r e ? M i l l e r : What are you i n s i n u a t i n g ? Are you i n s i n u a t i n g I can't get a g i r l t h e r e ? A l a n : No. M i l l e r : Yes you a r e . A l a n : No. I j u s t meant... M i l l e r : You watch I t i Watch i t I A l a n : S o r r y . M i l l e r : That's b e t t e r . T e l e v i s i o n : Best buys. M i l l e r : Next round. Waiter: L o s t a g a i n , eh? A l a n : Yes ... No. M i l l e r : So you b e l i e v e i n t h i s love-mush s t u f f , do you? Do you b e l i e v e i n marriage? A l a n : Sure. M i l l e r : Why? A l a n : What the h e l l whyI M i l l e r : You l i k e k i d s ? A l a n : Sort o f . H e l l , get married t o l i v e t o g e t h e r . . 103 M i l l e r : . What about the o l d s a y i n g , 'Why buy the cow when you can get the m i l k f o r f r e e ? ' A Drunk: Wha' abou' dat? A l a n : You can't get the m i l k f r e e I Drunk: Sure ya can! Yu're c r a z y i Ya can so! M i l l e r : S i t h e r e . Drunk: Thank y a . Yu're a n i c e man. M i l l e r : That's O.K. Drunk: Yu're a v e r y n i c e man. M i l l e r : O.K. Drunk: Ha! Hal You can get the m i l k f r e e ! Gimme some m i l k . T e l e v i s i o n : ( f a s t and f e a r f u l ) C'mon. I a i n ' t gonna be bodered w i t c h a . C'mon. A l a n : Maybe you want more than j u s t the m i l k . John: Yeah. M i l l e r : Who asked you! Who asked you, s t u p i d ? Drunk: You can get the whole she-bang f r e e ! M i l l e r : G r a t i s . Waiter: D r i n k s ? Drunk: M i l k . M i l l e r : I t ' s John's t u r n . Drunk: Yu're s p o i l i n ' a p e r f e t l y good o l ' s a y i n ' . M i l l e r : Why you wanta do t h a t ? What's wrong w i t h you? T e l e v i s i o n : P t - t a n g . Pow! Powi P t - t a n g . Drunk: He s a i d whasrong witcha? M i l l e r : No r e s p e c t ! Drunk: Sumpin' wrong wit him. Dat's f e r s u r e . Dat's f e r 104 damn sure I M i l l e r : He t h i n k s I can't get a g i r l . Drunk: Noooo! M i l l e r : Yeah. Drunk: Dat's i n s u l t i n * , i t i s . M i l l e r : I n s e n s i t i v e . Drunk: Mean! M i l l e r : H o s t i l e . Drunk: D i r t y ! M i l l e r : U n f e e l i n g . Drunk: Snotty-nosed. M i l l e r : What? T e l e v i s i o n : ( p h i l o s o p h i c a l ) Somebody's g o t t a bury 'em, a i n t dey? M i l l e r : A l l r i g h t , I ' l l show you. W e ' l l go t o the f r a t . I ' l l take the money. C'mon. I ' l l show you. Good-bye buddy. Drunk: Gu-bye, n i c e man. — g r a c e C l a r k e wrote, s t r u c k out, d e l i b e r a t e d , f a b r i c a t i n g an essay. He s q u i n t e d - a t h i s h a n d w r i t i n g , f o c u s i n g h i s g l a s s e s . He wrote i n a m i c r o s c o p i c hand t o conserve paper, but the paper was cheap and absorbed the i n k , b l o t t i n g out l e t t e r s . The ' s ' , ' e 1 , .'b', and other c l o s e d l e t t e r s were p a r t i c u l a r l y h o p e l e s s . He determined t o buy b e t t e r paper, drew a l i n e , and recommenced. Now New paragraph Now Ah, yes. I t i s by no means We by no means should should no the p o i n t b e i n g no Now t h a t we are concerned w i t h m o r a l i t y and v i r t u e or, should 105 i t be, wit h m o r a l i t y and w i t h v i r t u e ? or simply, with m o r a l i t y ? w i t h v i r t u e w i l l do concerned w i t h v i r t u e comma i t i s e s s e n t i a l i m p e r a t i v e i m p e r a t i v e t h a t the d i s t i n c t i o n be made c l e a r i m p e r a t i v e t h a t i t be understood t h a t the d i s t i n c t i o n was made commonly made by many C h r i s t i a n i n the C h r i s t i a n i n the orthodox C h r i s t i a n d i s t i n c t i o n no, no, no im p e r a t i v e t o c l a r i f y the d i s t i n c t i o n how t o put i t ? commonly made by t h e o l o g i a n s p h i l o s o p h e r s of h i s time contemp...yes! made by h i s contemporaries p e r i o d dear, dear, dear Where was the b a l l p o i n t ? I t would s u f f i c e ahhh New sentence In the orthodox C h r i s t i a n view two l e v e l s of e x i s t e n c e and experience were reco g n i z e d yes, good! c o l o n the or d e r of n a t u r e and the order of grace grace and nature? no matter p e r i o d However comma However, h i s power was e x e r c i s e d H i s c a p i t a l 'H' H i s power was e x e r c i s e d over them i n d i f f e r e n t ways such t h a t What's t h a t knocking? I n a way s u f f i c i e n t l y d i f f e r e n t t o yes s u f f i c i e n t l y d i f f e r e n t to m a i n t a i n a d i s t i n c t i o n y e s ... "Boys! Oh, boys!" A l i c e c a l l e d up. Hugh came from h i s room i n t o C l a r k e ' s and opened the h a l l door. " C l a r k e ! " h e r v o i c e caught i n the wood of the b a n n i s t e r , the order of nature was "Yes" he answered. "Someone t o see you. I t ' s C h a r l e s . " 106 "Send him up," Hugh s a i d . " A l l r i g h t then." They heard, "Go up then." F o o t s t e p s up the s t a i r c a s e , and much l o u d e r , "I'm going now, boys." " A l l r i g h t . " "Boys, I'm going now'." Hugh opened the door. "Oooo-K." nat u r e was the p h y s i c a l world "Enjoy y o u r s e l f . " s e l f -e v i d e n t . . . "I won't be l a t e . " " A l l r i g h t . " "Good n i g h t . " the inanimate and animate o b j e c t s , i n -e l u d i n g man t h a t ' s important i n c l u d i n g man... C h a r l i e e n t e r e d . " H i . Where's she going? H i C l a r k e . " "Good Lord I What's w i t h you?" C h a r l i e wore cap and b e l l s , t i g h t s , white and red diamonded d o u b l e t , and had a mandolin s t r u n g over h i s s h o u l d e r . "I'm going t o a masquerade. Is she? D i d you see her? She's got boots on l i k e Minnie Mouse, a s c a r l e t dress l i k e a bush f i r e . And h a t , b i g as a t r u c k t i r e , w ith b i r d s and f r u i t s and v e g e t a b l e s and God knows whatJ" "Perfume you can s m e l l t h i r t y f e e t away?" "Yeah," C h a r l i e h e l d h i s nose. " I t ' s h e r n i g h t f o r the S e n i o r C i t i z e n s C l u b . That's perfume n i g h t . " "She a S e n i o r C i t i z e n ? " "Must be." " S t i l l goes on f l i n g s ? " ' 107 "I don't know." c o n s i d e r , c o n s i d e r b e i n g expressed i n the p h y s i c a l laws of n a t u r e and n a t u r a l e t h i c s yes and through grace man as a s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g . . . "You wanna go C l a r k e ? " Hugh asked. "Where?" w i t h a l l t h a t concerned h i s s a l v a t i o n . . . "To the masquerade. I f e e l l i k e g o i n g . How about i t ? " "I r e a l l y must complete t h i s essay." "Ahhrubles, c'mon. You've got a l l week-end." "I don't f e e l i n c l i n e d to i t . " "C'mon," C h a r l i e s a i d , " a l l work and no p l a y makes Jack a d u l l boy." "I would probably have only a d u l l time." "C'mon C l a r k e , l e t ' s go w i t h him." "Take your schnoz out of those musty papers. Come get t some n i c e d i r t y sex." He plucked the mandolin. "Do you guarantee t h a t I w i l l ? " "You won't h e r e , manI" "The change w i l l do you good," Hugh s a i d . "Sure. I t ' s Halloween, the w i t c h i n g n i g h t . " Chuck chanted, "Prom a l l the g h o u l i e s and g h o s t i e s and long-legged b e a s t i e s , dear l o r d , d e l i v e r us." No answer. "Never mind him, Hugh. C'mon." "Ooomm-grum. C l a r k e ? " "Well, i f you i n s i s t . Oh, not i f we need costumes." "No, no. J u s t the way you a r e . " " I ' l l go then." 108 "What about money?" " I t ' s the f r a t p a r t y ! J u s t t w o - b i t s per beer." — p o t p i e I t was more than October c o l d , and the n i g h t was a l l Halloween, with no s t a r s and mumble cloud s i n a b l a c k rush past the moon's eye f l a s h i n g l o o k s , t h e r e , t h e r e , and t h e r e . Noise bounded i n t o Cheapside S t r e e t from the f r a t e r n i t y l i k e armfuls of rubber b a l l s f l u n g at the road. The f r a t e r n i t y had: r u s t y gate, lawn grass uncut, t r e e s bare, orange j a c k - o -l a n t e r n over the porch l i g h t , paper w i t c h s c u t t l i n g up the b a n n i s t e r , door open, and a c l u s t e r of people t h e r e , b r e a t h i n g . The house was l i t by candles t h r u s t i n t o b o t t l e necks. In the den an incandescent was on, where.a band p l a y e d , and f i f t y o r more p i r a t e s , ghosts, cowboys and o t h e r , danced, t w i s t e d , squirmed. There was l i g h t t o o , i n the c e l l a r , where the bar was s e t up, p a t r o n i z e d by a scramble mad bramble of arms c l a n k i n g c o i n s on the c o u n t e r f o r d r i n k s , makeshifted w i t h much s p l a s h , s l o p , and snapping of b o t t l e t o p s . B o t t l e tops through the w h i t e -washed room adjacent t h a t hosted a boat r a c e : two rows of d r a f t g l a s s e s c l u t c h e d by k n e e l i n g f i g u r e s , huddled, ready, some s t r i p p e d t o the w a i s t , f l e s h i n . t h e candle l i g h t . The gun. G l a s s e s u p — i n the g l u t - r u s h the beer slopped round t h e i r c h i n s , t o t h e i r c h e s t s , s l i c k i n g the h a i r down. A g l a s s cracked, c u t t i n g the d r i n k e r ' s h a n d — b l o o d . The one next him h o i s t e d h i s t u r n on the r e l a y . Beer r i v u l e t s running to a room which, be f o r e , g a s , was a c o a l b i n , had m a t t r e s s e s , b o d i e s , sense of motion. The c e l l a r s t a i r s b u s t l e d , h i n dered by c l o t s of c o u p l e s , 109 t a l k , necked, noses, blocked, by a quartet t h a t r o l l i c k e d : "Don't you (crooned) r e a l l y , r e a l l y ( i n t e n t ) t h i n k , we should (quest-ioned) have another d r i n k ! Pause. C l i n k . D r i n k ! " They drank. No Roger R e v e l l e i n the k i t c h e n . Rye bread, salami; b u t c h e r k n i f e s l i c e d . A l a r g e mouth of t e e t h skimmed l e f t - o v e r r i n d s f o r the meat., a tub of apples was bobbed f o r . A r o t t e n one h u r l e d through the door. Another room, of c o n t o r t e d m u l t i t u d e s of l o i n s and elbows. A seated c i r c l e passed a b o t t l e , swigged. One on the piano d e l i v e r e d i n volume a stump speech to t h r e e l i s t e n e r s , female. Another poured a d r i n k on a blond permanent. D i s c u s s i o n s , earnest tongues; arguments, f i s t s pounding. A crap game b e i n g shot i n , the c o r n e r . . . "And on the f i r s t day," the stump speaker s a i d ... a great d e a l to be s a i d . . . I don't have the time... by f a r the g r e a t e s t percentage... "And on the second day..." ... what are you a f r a i d of?.... n o t h i n g c o u l d be f u r t h e r from the t r u t h . . . Make way, make way! ... "The t h i r d n i g h t a l s o he went down." ... Stop i t ! .... i t depends on your d e f i n i t i o n o f . . . I r e f e r you t o . . . f r e e l o v e ? c e r t a i n l y ! ... "He became what he b e h e l d , " the stump speaker s a i d . H a i r y l e g s on the s t a i r s , a p a i r of s h o r t s and an under-s h i r t chased a f l a p p e r . Two ascended, s e d a t e l y . The t o i l e t was a l s o u p s t a i r s . I t squealed lo n g , f l u s h i n g . The washroom w a l l s were papered w i t h p i n - u p s . A few had f a l l e n t o the f l o o r and were s o a k i n g . 110 — s n o r t and g r u f f John P a r i s h and Prank Middie took t h e i r beer t o a card t a b l e i n the bar-room, by one of the c a n d l e s . "You should s t a r t a p p l y i n g now," Prank s a i d . "Where t o ? " "Well, go to the Placement O f f i c e . " " I t ' s d i s g u s t i n g ! Wonderful o p p o r t u n i t i e s : i n v e n t o r y cruddy c l e r k , s a l e s - s t i n k i n g - m a n a g e r t r a i n e e . I walk out f e e l i n g c rummy." "You'd b e t t e r get s t a r t e d . You've got to do something." "Why?" • "Make a l i v i n g . " " U n f o r t u n a t e l y . " John drank from the b o t t l e . " I , " s a i d Prank, "have sent out t h i r t y a p p l i c a t i o n s a l r e a d y . " "Hurray." He drank a g a i n , g r i p p e d the b o t t l e i n both hands, t w i s t e d i t , w r i n g i n g the neck, and made 'pock* sounds with h i s thumb i n t h e mouth of the b o t t l e . "A couple of stunning, g i r l s are behind you t h a t don't seem t o be e s c o r t e d . " Prank nodded toward them. "One i s e s p e c i a l l y r a v i s h i n g . Take a l o o k . " "Who? In the green suede?" "Yes." "I know he r . " "What's h e r name?" "Charmaine C h r i s t e n s o n . " John burned some c e l l u l o i d i n the a s h t r a y . I l l " W ell, i n t r o d u c e me." "For what?" "I t h i n k she's g i v i n g me the eye." Two f r a t e r n i t y b r o t h e r s s t r u g g l e d through the door b e s i d e t h e i r t a b l e , h a l f c a r r y i n g Revelle^. h i s long arms d a n g l i n g , g o r i l l a - l i k e . "Watch out I" They stumbled on the bench. R e v e l l e c o l l a p s e d to the t a b l e , f a c e up. "Are you a l l r i g h t ? " one of the b r o t h e r s asked. Another elbowed up. " I t ' s t h a t goddamn R e v e l l e ! " s a i d the t h i r d b r o t h e r . "He's as white as a sheet." "He's not dead, eh?" "Heck no, l o o k . " The f i r s t b r o t h e r slapped him. R e v e l l e s n o r t e d p o w e r f u l l y . "He sounds l i k e a herd of p i g s , " grumped t h i r d b r o t h e r . "Pheeww! H i s b r e a t h ' s f o u l ! " s a i d f i r s t b r o t h e r . "God, he's white! No c o l o u r at a l l . " "Look," s l a p p i n g , " h i s jaw's s l a c k . " F i r s t brotha? was v e r y taken by i t . "Maybe you should c a l l a d o c t o r . That's what you gape l i k e when you're dead," suggested the second b r o t h e r . "Nah. Get him awake. I f you can get him awake h e ' l l be a l l r i g h t , " the f i r s t b r o t h e r knew. "Put him on the f l o o r , " commanded the t h i r d . "He weighs a t o n . " "Where the h e l l has he been a l l n i g h t ? He's supposed to 112 be l o o k i n g a f t e r the k i t c h e n . " "He was i n the w i n e - c e l l a r . " "Drinking the wine." "Yeah, through a p i p e t t e . " "No s h i t I " s a i d b r o t h e r t h r e e , s l a p p i n g . "Wake up, you ba s t a r d . " "HeyI Hey!" Roger was t e r r i f i e d . He s t a r t e d at brother t h r e e . "Are you the guy that turns words i n t o limburger. C h r i s t ! i t ' s f a l l i n ' a l l over. N i b b l e , geezly n i b b l e . " He c o l l a p s e d . M i l l e r a r r i v e d , w i t h John and A l a n . "Ts that Roger you've got there? What's wrong w i t h him?" "He's s t i n k i n ' drunk. That's what's wrong," said t h r e e . "The poor bugger. He needs a d r i n k to snap him up. You want a d r i n k , boy?" "Gimme." Roger stuck out h i s lower l i p f o r the b o t t l e . The booze s p i l l e d over h i s mouth, down h i s n o s t r i l s . He dropped the b o t t l e , choking. "Hee-hee. Your yap runneth over," c h o r t l e d M i l l e r . "Thanks Pete," sai d Roger, and vomited, burying the f i n e I t a l i a n shoe of the t h i r d b r o t h e r . "Get him the h e l l out of here! Por good t h i s time." "He's p r e t t y s i c k . " "Put him on the lawn. That ox w i l l p u l l , out of i t . " . "O.K. then." "Don't l e t him back i n here!" They c a r r i e d him out. "Prank. I'm c u t t i n g out." "Stay a w h i l e , John." 113 "I'm cutting out." " I ' l l see you home then." "See you." Middie turned. Charmaine was out of sight, --mandolin and l i p s Charlie got to the f r a t with Hugh and Clarke, and pushed through to the bar where they got drinks i n green glasses. They met up with Prank Middie, smoking his pipe i n the s l i t between the cheekbones that he looked out from at C h a r l i e . He did not know Charlie, asking questions, d e f i n i t e l y , and watching his face of lashes and l i p s , but Charlie went on from his asking about playing drums i n London i n the summer, rang h i s b e l l s , lapped h i s mandolin, drank, and went on that his summer was sun, a l l encompassed of brass was what he meant, l i k e that, mid the loud jargoning of that place, as i f they were clean chopped off from i t and were mead h a l l drinking chums of old i n some snug clannish den of things devised by cunning d e l i c a t e , of great surprises up-delivered and feasts consummated, his words, Hugh thought, l i k e bats blundering round t h e i r heads that shivered him as would the squeak of whetstone. — t h e comfy way Clarke excused himself a moment and went upstairs to watch the dancing. He had seen Charmaine. She knew him. She was on the f l o o r . He leaned on a b i t of wall space and looked across at some European t r a v e l posters. The music and Charmaine, the 114 dancer and the dance, embodied f e r t i l i t y . She performed regeneratively. The cabal of orgasm. The music ended. They could walk off the other way. They hadn't decided. They didn't move. The combo struck up and they danced again. She may have come with her partner. They broke and walked toward the d o o r — toward him. The male led the way. He was quite young. They were at the door. One could arrest them a moment. The music was strong. "Hi." "Hi. Oh, h i you Clarke!? She walked out. It was a monastery on a sheer point of rock, on the poster. An ancient f o r t i f i e d monastery i n Prance, with trees at the foot of the rock, and a v i l l a g e beyond... "Hi again!" She was back. "Having fun?" "Hello. Would you l i k e to dance?" "Well, i f you promise not to look as though i t were your l a s t request." "Wot at a l l . " "Come on then, don't dawdle." He took her i n the waltz po s i t i o n . "You can't hold me l i k e that i n here. There i s n ' t room. Gimme the body." "Fine. I was scheming to work up to i t . " He pulled her to him and she f e l l , arms around his neck. "Oh, you lug'. You don't dance, do you?" "What?" She l i f t e d her face, her chin touching h i s . "Don't take 115 i t so hard, d a r l i n g . Here, I ' l l lead a b i t . " " A l l r i g h t . " He watched her fe e t . "Oh, l e t ' s not mind i t I It doesn't matter how you do i t you know; just that you do i t together. I ' l l follow. Now you forget about i t . " "Yes s i r . " "That's better." It was better. He was moving with her, close to her. Her partner returned, bearing a drink i n each hand. "Here." "Hold a minute, d a r l i n g . I'm dancing." " I ' l l drink i t then." "Oh. I f I'm interrupting..." "You're not interr u p t i n g , Clarke." "He could have fooled me. Never mind." "Waif. Don't be angry, don't." She moved to him and touched h i s cheek. "Don't be angry. I think you're lovely too." He looked at her, and at Clarke. She drew h i s head down and hugged i t . He closed his arms about her, s t i l l holding the glasses. She whispered. "Your h a i r comb i s coming loose." "Ohi Tuck i t down, w i l l you... please?" He tucked i t down and l e f t . "The world i s tingling'." Laughing, she took the comb out and shook her h a i r down. "Now c'mon'. You've got to be cheery. Oh, you've got to be gorgeous'." "I can't. Not on command. I'd l i k e t o ' t a l k . " "You're i n a serious mood?" 116 "I'd l i k e to t a l k . " "Good! I don't l i k e f l i g h t y people." "You don't?" " ' "Yes I do!" "Oh." "You don't understand me, do. you?" "I understand no one."' "I think you're r i g h t . You're right!" 1 "Let's go. I t ' s too noisy here to t a l k . " She puckered. "Oo-kaay." "Where's your coat?" " r T s i n the bar." " I ' l l get i t . " "•No, no. I'm going with you. Me too. Let me go f i r s t . Here, hold me by the shoulders so I v/on't f a l l . Do you mind?" "Anything but mind." "Goody-goody-goody-good. Wow push!" They worked t h e i r way to the c e l l a r . "Hi-ya, Hughie baby." She ran and held Hugh's arm. "You're here! When d'ya come?" "I'm goin*. You're slow." "Heck, i t ' s early. Stay." "Hope." "I'11 walk you home." "Clarke's taking me." "Oh." "Oh! Bo! Boo to you." "I .just said, Oh?" "Oh?" 117 "Here's your c o a t . H i Hugh." "I thought you'd be gone j u s t a minute." "What? W e l l , l e t ' s go." "Good-night, a n g e l - h e a r t . " She waved to Hugh. "Part on a n g e l - h e a r t . " Charmaine knew a s h o r t way out by the c e l l a r door. "Which way do we go?" "Where's your coat I " Her hand covered a l i t t l e gasp. "I d i d n ' t wear one." " I t ' s c o l d i " " I t i s c o l d t o n i g h t . " "Yes, t o n i g h t i t i s . Here." "What?" "Put your arm through here." "I'm not going t o wear your coat.'" "No, ninny, j u s t the one arm." "Oh no." "I i n s i s t , I i n s i s t , I i n s i s t . " " Y o u ' l l r i p the c o a t . " "Nooeewww, i t ' s a b i g c o a t . I got i t b i g f o r t h i s , yu know. Here." "What i f we're seen wearing one c o a t ? " "I betcha i t ' l l b u t t o n . W e l l , one button anyway. Cosy?" "Cosy." "Comfy?" "Com..fy." "Wha..t?" "I'd l i k e to k i s s you." 118 "Dp, then,." He k i s s e d her, determinedly, and h e l d her, and rubbed h i s nose on h e r s . "Oh, ha-hai You rub n o s e s l Only n u t t y ones rub noses. Only k i d s rub noses. I rub noses." "Don't laugh." "Oh yes, we've g o t t a laugh. No, you s a i d you wanted to t a l k s e r i o u s l y . That's r i g h t . " " I f I wasn't s e r i o u s b e f o r e , I am now." "Let' s b e s e r i o u s not morbid'. '«*• "Why do you say t h a t ? " "Let's walk now. C'mon, l e t ' s walk. I l i v e t h i s way." They stumbled. " H e l l , I can't walk i n t h i s f a s h i o n . " "You must.' A b s o l u t e l y ! But don't worry, y o u ' l l get used t o i t . I t ' s a l l what you get used t o . Cheer up." "Let me put t h i s arm around you. I t won't be q u i t e so crowded." "Yes." "This w i l l take hours." "That's the i d e a . We c o u l d h i d e i n t h i s c o a t . I o f t e n h i d e i n t h i s c o a t . Ohhh. I t ' s you t o be s e r i o u s . Be s e r i o u s . " "Por a: s t a r t , you're f r u s t r a t i n g me." With h e r s l e e v e d arm waving she s a i d , "In what way?" "In b e i n g s e r i o u s . In b e i n g amorous." "That's sad." " I t i s . " "Ohhh. Yu' know what? You're cud d l y . " "I can't b e l i e v e a word you say." 119 Stamping h e r f o o t : "Yes you canl I mean every word I say. Has meaning. I do!" "That's something. I'm sure I don't." "When you're s e r i o u s you do?" "Yes." "That's d r e a d f u l . But you must be s e r i o u s t h e n . There's n o t h i n g e l s e t o be done. Next t o being c h e e r f u l you must be mea n i n g f u l . Do you hear me? . Be s e r i o u s . I won't i n t e r r u p t . " " S e r i o u s l y , I'm not conversant w i t h the p o l i t e j argon f o r s a y i n g these t h i n g s , but..." "May I i n t e r r u p t ? " "What?" "You are gorgeous." "Am I ? " "Yes. W e l l , go on." "No." "Why? Did I s p o i l i t ? " "Yes." "I'm s o r r y . I'm h o n e s t l y sorry.. That's c r u e l and s t u p i d of me." "Don't overdo i t . " "Oh, b e l i e v e me. I t ' s so important to say the t h i n g s we f e e l . The t h i n g s we're a f r a i d t o say. I t h i n k t h e y ' r e the only t h i n g s t h a t matter r e a l l y . " " I t wasn't your f a u l t . I might never have come out wit h i t . You t a l k . " "I don't t h i n k I have as much t o say as you." "What do you mean." 120 "At the moment." "What do you mean?" "Never mind. I ' l l t a l k anyway. We'll walk, t r o t - t r o t -t r o t , and I ' l l t a l k . L e t ' s see, I t h i n k . . . No, I'm s u r e — I yean-: j u s t f e e l i t i n s i d e . Tons and tons of l o v i n g , of l o v e wanting f r e e . But i t can't get f r e e and nobody knows why. I t ' s a mystery. The mystery has the l o v e chained down and i t s t r u g g l e s . Sometimes, though, I can f e e l i t grow, l i k e a l i f e i n my womb, onl y i n s t a n t l y ; and i t b u r s t s out, f l o o d i n g e v e r y t h i n g , and I want t o k i s s e v e r y t h i n g , and I want to gobble up e v e r y t h i n g l o v e l y , l o v e l y e v e r y t h i n g ; and everybody's l o s t i n i t t o g e t h e r . Whhheeee! t o the extremes of the u n i v e r s e ; and nothing's l e f t b e h i n d . Because i t ' s a l l i n i t you see, yousee. Stop d i d d l i n g w i t h mechanical ways of t r a v e l , because we w i l l be everywhere at once i n l o v e . Love i s the t r i c k . " "What do you mean by l o v e ? " "I've j u s t s a i d . " "Would you i n c l u d e c a r n a l l o v e ? " "Sex! Yes, sex i s l o v e . I l o v e sex. I t ' s a l l p a r t of i t . " "I assume you b e l i e v e i n f r e e l o v e . " "Yes. Love must be f r e e d . Freed f o r marriage. E v e r y t h i n g m a r r i e d . I t would be lovely'." "I b e l i e v e i t ! " "I l i v e h e r e . See, not f a r . With l o v e i t ' s over b e f o r e you know." "Let me get my arm out." "Aren't you coming i n ? I t ' s a w f u l l y e a r l y y e t . Heavens, you've j u s t got me g o i n g . " 121 " A l l r i g h t . " — a r o m a t i c a l l y Prank l i t h i s poker howl p i p e , a r o m a t i c a l l y . "You know Charmaine f a i r l y w e l l , Hugh?" "Yes." "What's she l i k e ? " "Why?" "She's damned a t t r a c t i v e . I'd l i k e t o meet her." "Her name's i n the phone book. Phone her! S h e ' l l be p l e a s e d . " "She w i l l ? How's t h a t ? What's she l i k e ? " "How the h e l l should I know! Women are too c a l c u l a t i n g f o r me to f i g u r e . " "You t h i n k Charmaine's l i k e t h a t ? " "They're a l l l i k e t h a t ! " "That's a l o t of hooey," C h a r l i e s a i d . "In my experience t h e r e ' s v e r y l i t t l e d i f f e r e n c e between men and women." "Oh, I t h i n k t h e r e are d i f f e r e n c e s . " Prank tapped h i s p i p e on h i s h e e l to knock some l o o s e ashes out. "In my o p i n i o n women are g e n e r a l l y more p r a c t i c a l , l e s s romantic and emotional. They make b e t t e r d o c t o r s , s c i e n t i s t s , machine o p e r a t o r s , choppers of wood and c a r r i e r s of water. They make l o u s y a r t i s t s , p h i l o -sophers, t h e o l o g i a n s . They're l e s s b e a u t i f u l too, I t h i n k , than men." "What do you mean t h e y ' r e not as b e a u t i f u l as men?" C h a r l i e asked. "They're l e s s b e a u t i f u l . The male of almost every s p e c i e s 122 i s more b e a u t i f u l than the female. Why should humans b.e an exception? A woman's body i s too thoroughly adapted to too l i m i t e d a f u n c t i o n , and a mundane one at t h a t — r e p r o d u c t i o n and c a r e of the c h i l d . A man's body i s adapted to more complex f u n c t i o n s — l e s s b a s i c ones." "Well, I s t i l l p r e f e r women,!" s a i d C h a r l i e . "So do I. What has t h a t to do w i t h i t ? " "I don't know," s a i d Hugh. "Broads c o n s t a n t l y c o n t r a d i c t t h e i r p r i n c i p l e s without a twinge of c o n s c i e n c e . They have screwy i d e a s about e v e r y t h i n g — l i k e soap operas. They t h i n k they got everybody f i g u r e d . B i g p s y c h o l o g i c a l m o t i v a t i o n a l e x p l a n a t i o n s , but n u t t y ones. Charmaine f o r i n s t a n c e— I ' m not j u d g i n g by h e r , she's an example—you asked about h e r — b u t she's l i k e that.. They deceive themselves, won't f a c e the r e a l i s s u e s . T a l k f o r e v e r about them, but a v o i d them. Don't t e l l h e r I s a i d t h a t . " "I thought you were f r i e n d s . " "Sure we a r e . I'd say i t t o h e r f a c e but she'd say I was j e a l o u s . That's what I mean. They come to screwy c o n c l u s i o n s . Oh, sure we're f r i e n d s . We're chums." — M a d e i r a Charmaine r e f i l l e d the wine g l a s s e s and served C l a r k e . "Have some Madeira, my dear." "Say, do you have t h a t r e c o r d ? " "Hope. No m u s i c a l accompaniment. Used t o , but I s o l d them a l l a l o n g "with the r e c o r d p l a y e r once when I was hard up." "I l i k e t h a t r e c o r d . " 123 "So do I . I t ' s so s i l l y . " " T h i s i s good wine." "Gladchya l i k e it.» " I t ' s something when I l i k e wine. I don't a p p r e c i a t e wine. G e n e r a l l y I d r i n k rye o r beer." "I have some rye I f you want some." "No. T h i s i s f i n e . " "Okey-doke." "You l i v e here a l l al o n e ? " "Uh-huh." She leaned sideways on the back of the s o f a , and h e r knees touched h i s t h i g h . "Have you a r a d i o ? " "Nope." " I t must get b o r i n g at times?" "I don't f i n d i t so." < "What do you do? Work p e r p e t u a l l y . " "No, you goof. I don't miss i t . I p r e f e r j u s t t a l k i n g . " "I see. I l i k e your apartment." " R e a l l y ? What do.you l i k e ? " She h e l d h e r head at an an g l e , l i k e a c h i l d . Her h a i r f e l l b e f o r e h e r . "The bamboo c u r t a i n s . The whole p l a c e . A l l the wood, and the browns and greys touched o f f by the reds, l i k e the lamp shade and a s h t r a y . I t ' s a t t r a c t i v e . " "Thanks. I t makes me f e e l hide-away. Ohi You've f i n i s h e d your wine a l r e a d y . You're supposed t o s i p i t . " "Oh. I'm s o r r y . " "I d i d n ' t mean i t th a t way. Have some more." "Thank you." 124 "Help y o u r s e l f . " "I w i l l . I t ' s good wine." "You're s t i l l nervous, aren't you?" "No, damn i t l What's to be nervous about?" "Being alone w i t h me." "I'm not nervous." "Sure?" He put h i s g l a s s down. "Come here. " He k i s s e d h e r . "That's b e t t e r . " She stroked h i s neck. They k i s s e d a g a i n and h e r l i p s were f u l l and she caressed with them. They were dark l i p s , he thought, l u s h w i t h c o n t a c t . "Mmmmm. That's good." " I t ' s wonderful," he s a i d . She r e s t e d the weight of h e r body on him. He supported i t at f i r s t , then lowered h i m s e l f , and she l a y over him. They k i s s e d and he h e l d h e r h a i r and p u l l e d at the back of h e r knee. Her b r e a s t s swelled a g a i n s t him as she breat h e d . He pressed on the knee, and rode h i s hand upward. "No," she s a i d . He sat up immediately, t a k i n g h i s g l a s s . "I'm s o r r y . " "No, no," she s m i l e d . "That's i t , you see. You're s o r r y . " " Well, I shoul d n ' t . . . " "You shouldn't have, only because you would be s o r r y . I don't mind, but you would be s o r r y . You wouldn't get as much out of i t as you'd l o s e . What's the p o i n t i n t h a t ? I don't know why you're t h a t way, but you are, aren't you?" "I don't know." "Yes, you a r e . You're an o l d fogey." 125 "Well, now th a t I f e e l t h oroughly embarrassed and nervous and i d i o t i c , I'm l e a v i n g . " " I t ' s h o r r i d . I t ' s turned out h o r r i d . " " I t ' s my f a u l t . I'm s o r r y . " "Don't always be b e i n g s o r r y , f o r God's sake 1 I'm j u s t as much to blame." "To h e l l with a l l t h a t ! Look, I simply don't t h i n k of i t the way you do, and... I'm l e a v i n g . " "You c o u l d l e a r n . " "I suppose." "I mean, g i v e me a chance. I don't want to leave you f e e l i n g the way you do about me." " I ' l l phone o r something. I ' l l see you. I t ' s not th a t bad." "Good." "Good-night." "Good-night C l a r k e . " He stepped out. She c l o s e d the door. — t a f f e t a and b e a s t i e s P a r i s h a r r i v e d home. He had taken a l o n g walk. On the l a n d i n g , he saw t h a t the l i g h t i n Prank's room was. not on. He went down t o the c e l l a r . The house belonged t o some f r i e n d s of h i s f a m i l y and they allowed him t o l i v e t h e r e without charge. H i s bed was i n a c o r n e r of the basement f u r t h e s t from the humming of the f u r n a c e . He had taken some boards from the backyard and n a i l e d them u p r i g h t . A g a i n s t these he had tacked 126 cardboard, f a s h i o n i n g a bedroom. Beside the bed was a k i t c h e n c h a i r t h a t he hung h i s c l o t h e s over. A k i t c h e n t a b l e , r i c k e t y , served as a w r i t i n g desk, p o s i t i o n e d between the cardboard w a l l •and the f u r n a c e . There was a s t o o l to s i t at the t a b l e . He turned on a f l o o r lamp. I t had no shade, and only one of the t h r e e sockets had a b u l b . A n e c k t i e hung over one of the s o c k e t s . The lamp was plugged i n t o an extension cord t h a t dangled from the c e i l i n g . An o l d t o a s t e r , w i t h s i d e s t h a t opened down, was on the t a b l e , a l s o plugged i n t o the extension c o r d . There was h a l f of a l o a f of bread and some m i l k i n a waxed c a r t o n . The p l a c e was strewn with notebooks and papers: open, shut, crumpled, t o r n ; w i t h c i g a r e t t e b u t t s , paper matches and match books; w i t h t o o l s : a hammer, a broken scythe, a s t a n d i n g rake w i t h a sweater on the h a n d l e . There were c a r t o n s of c l o t h i n g , a yellow sock, and a p a i r of jeans on the f l o o r . S o i l e d Kleenex was everywhere. He was a l l e r g i c t o d u s t . He c a r r i e d the lamp t o the door of h i s bed-corner. A cumulous cl o u d of cobwebs hung from the beams. A s p i d e r was suspended over the bed. He l a y h i s c l o t h e s on the c h a i r and p a t t e r e d b a r e f o o t over the c o n c r e t e t o t u r n the l i g h t out. Bundled i n bed, he s t a r e d a c r o s s the p i l l o w f o r a l o n g time, at the w a l l , and went l i k e s p i d e r s through the w i l d e r n e s s of t h i s world, s c u r r y i n g i n t o dens of comfort d a r k l y then g r e y l y c e r t a i n then c l e a r l y , d e f i n i t e came... The Most Amazing t h i n g you ever saw!! 127 w h i l e s t a n d i n g on a spot l a b e l l e d 'X' (Brand) from which i n the c e n t e r of a gymnasium a u d i t o r i u m c o l i s e u m supermarket? r o o f l e s s l i mit l e s s with.a stage a t one end an M.G. s t r o d e on wit h c o n i c a l cap and white cape, with j a r s of ointments, powders, herbs, r u s t i c c o n c o c t i o n s , v i a l s , a great sack of t h i n g s grey bearded 1 o n g f r i z z l e d EAT cruddy-bloody b a s t a r d AMTouncing: .•. , Marvel-maker f e l l o w s ! seven(7) bare chested f o l l o w e d i n t i g h t s . . . one on top of the o t h e r seven h i g h on each other's s h o u l d e r s f r o - l i c k - e d i n Great aPPlause ChEErs GooohhSi audience somewhere i n s e a t s ? eyes and many tongued or two r e p o r t , s h a r p l y , a n n u a l l y , the whole b i t . . . a d i v i n g board extended from the stage l e a p t i n t o consumer jowls neat rows of packagized and a n t i - h i s t a m i n e not f i v e f e e t from the sea f l o o r p i t boards seven on HigH JoOTCed s t i n k i n g drunk w i t h s o b r i e t y out Beaming somer S a u l t ed r h y t h - m i c - a l l y g y r o s c o p i c a l l y , planetarium-wise as a wAve r a d i a t i n g heat i n v e r t e d a l i g h t i n g 128 upper the one on the bottom How? (which mattered e x c r u c i a t i n g l y ) Wild aPPlausel ThunDering! c o n f e t t i . . . a u l t e d then S back somer back on the t e e t e r - t o t t e r springboard BackWardsl b a c k l e s s , t a t o o e d , deodorant... prudent? upper the was r e s t o r e d AstounDing! lower Weird? M o s t l y s i n c e why? they were so amazed? where the 'They'? a t i n y c o l i s e u m h o l e - s a l e h o u s e l a r g e s c a l e s u g a r d o n u t p r o d u c t i o n c e n t e r s i t u a t e d on *X' t h e a c r o b a t s tumblers Fauns carved a l o n g oaken t a b l e pondersome l i c k i n g of l o l l y pops mortar-boarded near the r o o f l e s s n i g h t s k y compound eyed, bug-eyed gleaming seven judgement behind the long t a b l e . . . J u p i t e r : M i s t e r Johnathan P a r i s h ! him: yes? J u p i t e r : You? him: yes J u p i t e r : No 1 him: yes J u p i t e r : Yes? him: yes J u p i t e r : Step Forward! him: s i r ? s o r r y with no shoes and d i r t y f e e t 129 J u p i t e r : ( P l a y i n g i n t e n t l y w i t h a rubber band, while 'X' quaked.) Johnathan, gave g i v e l o v e you have a l l o p p o r t u n i t y . Been ever-so, ever-so so p a t i e n t . Been beneeevoooolent, m e r r r c e e e f u l , f o r r r g i v i n g , ooopen-minded, d j - d j - d j j e e n e r o u s . We w-wh-wh... care how so you g e t - g e t . Jn-Joh-Johnathan I We wa-wa-wa... care which you t o do Applause, surged l i k e H e l l B e l l H e l l P e l l T e l l W e l l S w e l l , from the shadows, d r i n k i n g hot dogs down cat mouths open as b i r d b a t h s suspended on necks. Swollen Ogre: ( h u f f i n g ) There's no doubt You've been magnanimous, M i l o r d . Gnarled Ogre: (gnashing) No doubt at a l i i Very k i n d I L e n i e n t 1 f o r such a beggar. Red Ggre: ( b i t i n g ) Too much s o l I t ' s time we taught him a l e s s o n l Droopy Ogre: (droning) Perhaps ' t i s . Wizened Ggre: ( h i g h - p i t c h e d ) I t i s the case. Obese Ogre: ( a p a t h e t i c a l l y ) Of course. D r o o l i n g Ogre: ( s e l f - r i g h t e o u s ) Something must be done I Ogres leaned backward, g l a r i n g , t h e i r hands on the t a b l e , except Droopy Ogre, who sprawled forward, c h i n propped on h i s hand. They had one great eye each, green, luminous. Wide n o s t r i l s . Powdered wigs, except Wizened Ogre, b a l d . P r o t r u d i n g e a r s , p o i n t e d ears? pendulous ears? h o u n d - l i k e . Sky p i s t a c h i o w i t h red candy apple polka d o t s , c o t t o n candy c l o u d s and sunset of i n f a n t ' s b l o o d . J u p i t e r : We r e a - r e a - r e a l . . . know say i s have done now i s 130 a l l p a s t , Johnathan. We do so, i t ' s t r u e , a b s o l u . . . can sure you what t o be of each p o s s i . . . p o s s i b i l i t y , i n t h e, uh, h e n c e a f t e r . Great snowflakes. I ce hand wrote. L i t t l e b u t c h e r b a l a n c e s . Baked b r e a s t e d woman !suc;k:led. him: i'm a t . . . 1 J u p i t e r : ( l i g h t n i n g , s i l h o u e t t e , snap-shot) Hok! What! Red Ogre: Impudent c u r ! Gnarled Ogre: P i g ! F u n e r a l p r o c e s s i o n of animals mardi-gras gay: hamsters, hogs, dogs, r a t s w i t h t e n fo o t t a i l s , d i d the p i g - s t r u t p o l k a . A l l aahhhed, but J u p i t e r , who g i g g l e d behind h i s hand. him: s i r , i'm... Red Ogre: That's b e t t e r . J u p i t e r : Go on. Cease d r i v e l l i n g and go on. him: s i r , i'm at a l o s s . . . Wizened Ogre: What says he? Red Ogre: What d i d you say? Swollen Ogre: He s a i d he's l o s t . Gnarled Ogre: S t u p i d i d i o t . Serves him r i g h t I D r o o l i n g Ogre: Ho, he says he's been at some l a s s . Obese Ogre: Again? Gnarled Ogre: What, s t i l l ? Droopy Ogre: I n c o r r i g i b l e . him: no, no, no! i t ' s not f a i r at a l l at a l l at a l l (the 'X' churned i n t o chrome) Swollen Ogre: What's not f a i r ? Droopy Ogre: What does i t matter? 131 D r o o l i n g Ogre: Why does he bothe r w i t h h e r then? Red Ogre: I don't know. I can't make out a word the f o o l says. Gnarled Ogre: Who's not f a i r ? him: you're going too f a s t . . . Wizened Ogre: Watch your tongue young man! Gnarled Ogre: W e ' l l have none of t h a t h e r e . Red Ogre: (Standing and b e l l o w i n g red l i q u o r i c e t h a t turned t o macaroni.) Who's going too f a s t ! Obese Ogre: I t ' s a s i n . A l l f a s t i n g i s f e i g n i n g . him: what? J u p i t e r : (Clouds rammed, thundered, stuck, and went gooey.) S i l e n c e ! Oooohh, ohhh, from the shadows. J u p i t e r : Keep guw-hur... shut boy! Such b u r b g u r d l i n g goop, Hoop! i s humpish t o progomess y u l s a l i v a t - s l a v - s l a v - a t i o n at a l i i (He jug g l e d from h i s bag.) Now Johnny, We has pre...see might a l l whatchamacallit didum-up w e l l . (He dropped a j a r , p i c k e d i t up, s e i z e d i t to Him, looked about a p p r e h e n s i v e l y , put i t i n the sack, s t r a i g h t e n e d , and spoke.) Repent! B l a s t you! Must egre... r e g e t r e misspent gamefully or, s h a l l We say, 'wild oats' f r e s t f o s t e l e d Tree be Repent! (He was pleased w i t h t h i s . ) Green thumbs plumb r o o t , Regretcha, w i l l branch out. Yes, w i l l f l o u r e d , be shum b r a n c h e l l Admiss...admiss... G u i l t y ! i s pe-recker h a c k c e p t e r up udders. F r u i t see of such t r e e compris, kas k e t t l e - t e n t ment as 132 seed cum s u c c o u r t y sap f a c t o r y t i o n s e c r e t i o n , s t u f f l i k e t h a t . You seen f e l l o w won of swine I ass was a s t p r a y . P i s h you no so-so the thingamamankind. No hoot a-t i t t l e f o r accamblishments. T h i s i s bad! H i s s i n g from the audience. A s l i n g s h o t shot. M i s s e d . A b i r d plummeted i n t o bananas of *How you l i k e them?' Bury i t ? J u p i t e r : Shup ut t o u t l e s b o d y l Swollen Ggre: Yes, M i l o r d . Advice-wise, son, you're s e l f i s h . You a l s o s t i n k . Your k l o s are mere rags, unbekuming., i l l k u t , unkleen. P r o b a b i l i t y - w i s e , t h e r e ' s v i n e g a r i n your v e i n s . You're s l i n k y , boy, shy, remoteish. You got no f r i e n d s but s l o b s l i k e y o u r s e l f . You act as tho you'd f o r g o t t e n what you want. You're a h y p o c r i t e . D r o l l i n g Ogre: W e l l s a i d ! Gnarled Ogre: My t u r n , my t u r n ! Young man, be aware of your neighbour and h i s example. Do a f t e r others as they do b e f o r e you. I t i s the spur t o a c t i o n . Have you no p r i d e ? Red Ogre: (pounded and pointed) Prove them f a l s e . Show them who you a r e ! D r i v e on! Wait n o t ! Droopy Ogre: Don't be r a s h . . . Take thought... Pause t o c o n s i d e r . Wizened Ogre: P r o s p e r i t y w i l l b r i n g honour and g l o r y t o your name, which i s n i c e . Obese Ogre: You w i l l never be without sustenance. D r o o l i n g Ogre: You w i l l be be l u v e d . 133 Whereupon they metamorphosed i n t o midgets w i t h d e r b i e s and canes and went up s t i f f l y onto a wagon, f l a t - d e c k e d , h i g h l y d e c o rated, w i t h a canvas t o p , and l a u g h i n g , rode o f f , r a c i n g madly i n a chuckwagon c i r c l e and gone over the p l a i n , the M.Cee. d r i v i n g , who turned with the l a s t words: "Merry Christmas t o a l l . " l e a v i n g cactus and i n t e s t i n a l s a t i a t i o n . . . — v i o l e t s and g a l l : two Under a q u i l t , by the bamboo c u r t a i n , with h e r window open, the wind c u r l e d at the g l a s s pane and was c o l d , making runs a t Charmaine's cheeks and beyond, l i k e the s t i r of a queen who h u r r i e s through c o r r i d o r s , l i f t i n g h e r s k i r t s , so she hoped t h e r e would be a moment of mutual r e c o g n i t i o n , a word even, and something she might do t o h e l p , but the S u l t a n e s s passed s i g h t -l e s s on, doing q u i t e w e l l without her, and Charmaine c l o s e d the window. When they put an end t o h e r t e a c h i n g she had worked the r e s t of the year as a w a i t r e s s at the Green Rooster, and l i k e d t he green c h i n a , the r i n g of i t , and the dinnerware, and s e t t i n g the p l a c e mats j u s t so, but q u i c k l y , so she c o u l d gas up a l l those patrons she kept count o f , and they c o u l d go on a g a i n , f u n c t i o n i n g , except they, were not machines and should get a smile to o , o r something, l i k e you might wash the w i n d s h i e l d t h a t they c o u l d more e a s i l y see, and f i n d i n g the t i p s , l i t t l e round c o i n s , under saucers and p l a t e s , l i k e t r e a s u r e s , that she d i d n ' t spend u n t i l l o n g a f t e r she l e f t t h e r e , but kept i n h e r j e w e l r y box. I t was f u l l . 134 In the evenings t h e r e was l i t t l e to do and she read and thought she l e a r n e d more than ever b e f o r e . She went on a few dates w i t h patrons she knew who came r e g u l a r l y , t o movies and a l o c a l dance h a l l , they having enormous hands t o h o l d , and danced m o n o l i t h i c a l l y , and were s u l l e n or pouted when k i s s e d . When she went back t o s c h o o l she l i v e d w i t h Mary, Hugh's g i r l , and t h e r e was a r a p i d s e r i e s of t h i n g s Hugh was t h e r e every n i g h t i n the f r o n t room w i t h Mary. There would be t i n y n o i s e s and b r e a t h i n g f o l l o w e d by s e l f - c o n s c i o u s r a i s i n g of v o i c e s . Afterwards Mary would t a l k about i t . She s a i d they had never had i n t e r c o u r s e . Mary would t a l k about p r e - m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and they would d i s c u s s t h i n g s . Mary was s t r i c t about i t . I t began though, a f t e r a time, they would ask Charmaine t o p l a y cards w i t h them, o f t e n w i t h Lance, Charmaine's date, and Mary d i d n ' t review the events of the n i g h t as she had, b e f o r e going t o s l e e p . Hugh d i d n ' t s t a y as l a t e n i g h t s . Charmaine thought they might have been screwing, Lance wanted to. w i t h h e r , t r i e d each n i g h t , and one n i g h t so p e r s i s t e n t she l e t h e r s e l f be s t r i p p e d but wouldn't go f u r t h e r . Lance was angry, went i n t o Mary's room and was w i t h h e r and they l a t e r went out and d i d n ' t return, u n t i l the next day. He soon married Mary and they moved to Sudbury where he became a P.E. man. Hugh came to v i s i t h e r , not speaking sometimes f o r h o u r s . He brought h i s books and would read, and on F r i d a y s brought food and they would cook i t and do the dishes t o g e t h e r and then dance or j u s t l i s t e n t o music. 135 He took h e r out o f t e n and they were c r a z y then, running from one p l a c e t o another and plann i n g scenes they would make i n p u b l i c p l a c e s from a time i n a r e s t a u r a n t Hugh jumped up suddenly and smashed h i s g l a s s a g a i n s t the w a l l , then s a t down s a y i n g , "Who says t h e r e ' s no f r e e w i l l ? " He stayed overnight at h e r apartment, on the s o f a , and i n the morning made b r e a k f a s t and woke h e r . He was c h i p p e r at b r e a k f a s t . They would laugh and they laughed t o the p o i n t of choking over how Mary cooked and the b r e a k f a s t s she must then be having i n Sudbury. I t seemed funny. And when he wanted h e r she encouraged him and afterwards he would f a l l a s l e e p , as they were, l i k e a baby, and i n the morning say f i r s t t h a t he l o v e d h e r . He s a i d i t f r e q u e n t l y , a s k i n g i f she d i d him, but i t was not t o be s a i d t h a t o f t e n . She t r i e d t o t e l l him, and f l i r t e d w i t h o t h e r s . He would be f u r i o u s and when the y made l o v e would t u r n h i s back t o her, i t over, and not t a l k u n l e s s she coaxed him, so t h a t she had to s t a r t r e f u s i n g him, which he c o u l d not understand i f she lov e d him, and e s p e c i a l l y , though she hadn't y e t , t h a t she admitted she might enjoy i t wit h o t h e r s . He went, and never came back u n t i l the l a s t week i n May of l a s t year, l i v i n g i n the f r o n t room. He'd have t o be j u s t a f r i e n d , she s a i d , and he promised t o pretend t o be though he s a i d he would seduce h e r every n i g h t i n h i s dreams. He'd changed t o o , and worried w i t h h e r over h e r exams, t h a t she was not working. When she came home he was th e r e t o t a l k t o about what had happened t h a t day u n t i l t h e r e was n o t h i n g to say and i t was b e t t e r and she only cared t o study what she wanted t o , f o r g e t t i n g t h a t 136 Prump had c a l l e d h e r l a z y and j u v e n i l e . The n i g h t b e f o r e Hugh l e f t they had a p a r t y i n the f r o n t room, l i t a f i r e , and burned a l l the work and the notes she had done on h e r t h e s i s and she decided to w r i t e one about whatever she pleased so t h a t a l l the maimed and p e r v e r t e d t h i n g s on f i l e c a r d s went out of her dreams. I t would be h e r d a r l i n g , ruddy and sound of l i m b . — g r i s t : t hree At the f r a t e r n i t y , Pete M i l l e r s p i e d some g i r l s , a group of t h r e e , and d i r e c t e d John and A l a n over to them. He made the i n t r o d u c t i o n s , and put h i s arm over the shoulder of one who seemed the e l d e s t , c a l l e d Roberta. She had b r e a s t s l i k e f o o t b a l l s i n h e r sweater, and h i s hand r e s t e d on one. They sat a t a t a b l e and bench. I t was l a t e and t h e r e was space to s i t . Roberta was as much upon the t a b l e as on the bench. She wore a b l a z e r and grey s k i r t and a p l a s t i c s m i l e t h a t brought out muscles i n h e r t h r o a t and f o r e h e a d . The other two were s m a l l e r , but a l s o compact. Roberta had s a i d the others were Minnie and Maxeen and t h a t they had come from K i n g s t o n to v i s i t h e r t h a t week-end. Roberta's f a t h e r had made a f o r t u n e w i t h a t i t a n i u m mine that turned out to be w o r t h l e s s . He had gone to D e t r o i t t h a t week, t a k i n g h e r mother wi t h him, so she had i n v i t e d the g i r l s f o r company. M i l l e r s a i d h i s name was Goldburg. He came from south-west A l b e r t a where they had a f i f t y - t h o u s a n d acre ranch h i s f a t h e r wanted him to operate. Maxeen s a i d , " R e a l l y ? Ho k i d d i n g ? " Sure, 137 t h a t was why he was i n Business A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , though when he graduated t h i s year he d i d n ' t t h i n k he would go back, but might r e - e n l i s t i n the Mounties. He had worked i n counter-espionage, keeping tabs on commies. John came, back with the. news t h a t the b a r was c l o s e d so Roberta, nicknamed Bobby, suggested they go to h e r house. The g i r l s had t r a n s p o r t a t i o n . I t was a L i n c o l n C o n t i n e n t a l . M i l l e r s a i d he would d r i v e but Roberta thought n o t, and he had t o take a back seat w i t h A l a n and John, s a y i n g they would never make i t . The house was a s p l i t l e v e l with a double garage. They went i n t o the basement. There was a b i l l i a r d t a b l e and a l i q u o r c a b i n e t of mahogany. Roberta was g r e a t , s a y i n g t o h e l p them-s e l v e s while she and Maxeen made some sandwiches. The ca b i n e t was l o c k e d . M i l l e r had a j a c k - k n i f e and broke the l a t c h with i t , wo r r y i n g M i n n i e . They broke out some f i n e s c o t c h whiskey, and by the f i f t h q u a r t e r of bacon sandwich t h a t M i l l e r a t e , a quart of i t was gone. There was vodka t o o , and Roberta s a i d the o l d man would never miss i t . She turned on the s t e r e o , some f o l k s y music with a bounce, and M i l l e r drank from a t w e n t y - s i x e r w h i l e jumping w i t h Bobby round the p o o l t a b l e . They f e l l on the c h e s t e r f i e l d over .John. Maxeen poured d r i n k s f o r Pete and f e d them t o him while Bobby took h i s shoes o f f and t i c k l e d h i s s o l e s . John went i n t o the k i t c h e n t o the r e f r i g e r a t o r . There was not much to eat except some c h o c o l a t e cake. He gulped t h a t and went back. The g i r l s had taken Pete u p s t a i r s . A l a n changed the r e c o r d and waltzed w i t h M i n n i e . John f i n i s h e d h i s d r i n k and went u p s t a i r s . The bedroom 138 door was open. M i l l e r l a y on the bed. They were poking him t o keep him awake. He r o l l e d over and f e l l t o the f l o o r . They l i f t e d him, h i s head f i r s t , and while Maxeen h e l d t h a t end Roberta got h i s f e e t up, t i c k l i n g him. Maxeen unclasped h i s b e l t . He t r i e d t o r o l l a g a i n but she sat on him t h i s time and Roberta got h i s . p a n t s o f f , scrambled up and played w i t h him w h i l e Maxeen . k i s s e d h i s stomach. John went i n and p u t t i n g h i s hands under Maxeen 1s sweater, took h e r to h e r knees. M i l l e r r a i s e d h i s b l o c k head, moaning. John was i n the oth e r of the twin beds wi t h Maxeen. They t o r e each other's c l o t h e s o f f . Roberta bounded over and was the f i r s t under the c o v e r s . M i l l e r whispered, "I'm going t o d i e , Mommy, I'm going t o d i e . " — t h e g a l l a n t At B i g A l i c e ' s , Hugh's room adjoined C l a r k e W a l t e r s ' . "He's not home y e t , " Hugh s a i d , going through C l a r k e ' s room i n stoc k i n g e d f e e t . C h a r l i e f o l l o w e d in.Hugh's f o o t s t e p s , so the f l o o r wouldn't squeak. I t squeaked. They c l o s e d the door and turned the l i g h t on. "She's h a l f deaf," Hugh s a i d , "but i f you d i s t u r b , h e r damn c a t , i t jumps up on the bed and wakes he r . " They took the card t a b l e out and set i t up. "What'11 we p l a y ? " asked C h a r l i e . "Whist?" "That's good." 139 " I ' l l have to s i t on the bed," Hugh s a i d . "Gut f o r d e a l . You t h i n k C l a r k e ' s g e t t i n g anywhere with h e r ? " " P a r t i I don't know. I d e a l ? " "Yeah, you d e a l . You know the darndest t h i n g ! . . . t h a t happens t o me. Sometimes I go f o r some honey. She seems as b e a u t i f u l as a p o s t e r , and then, I see h e r i n the m i r r o r . The f i r s t time i t happened I was combing my h a i r a n d — i t was P e a r l — a n d P e a r l came t o comb h e r s and got i n f r o n t of me. When I was done I h e l d h e r round the b e l l y and looked at h e r i n the m i r r o r . I t was the damndest t h i n g — s u d d e n l y i n the m i r r o r she looked t e r r i b l e . L i k e a h o r s e . You'd t h i n k i t was one of those t r i c k m i r r o r s they have i n midways, but the r e f l e c t i o n of me hadn't changed any. She was u g l y as h e l l l A f t e r t h a t I kept s e e i n g t h a t u g l y p i c t u r e of her u n t i l i t was the only way I saw h e r . You ever have t h a t happen? I t happens t o me with every dame now. I'm a f r a i d t o l o o k i n m i r r o r s . " "•No, I never had t h a t happen." " I t ' s queer man, b e l i e v e me.'" "You want to p l a y c a r d s ? " "Oh, yeah. You've never had t h a t happen, eh? T h i s summer I must've met a dozen c h i c k s . I d i d n ' t care what developed w i t h them so I'd work i t t o see them i n a m i r r o r . What a t h i n g I I t happens every t i m e . I t ' s l i k e an h a l l u c i n a t i o n . " " D i f f e r e n t m i r r o r s each time?" "Well s u r e ! That's the t h i n g . . . " "Shhh. Not so l o u d . " "Oh yeah... t h a t ' s the t h i n g . F i r s t I t h i n k t h e r e must be iko something wrong w i t h the m i r r o r s . Then I t h i n k i t ' s me—that:.: everybody e l s e sees them the way I do the m i r r o r way, and I'm g o i n g around w i t h dogs and don't know i t . " Hugh laughed. "That's funny." " S e r i o u s l y , i t makes me wonder. Hugh, I bet everybody e l s e sees people t h a t way when they get t o know them. You don't n o t i c e i t w i t h guys cause i t doesn't matter. Can you see what i t ' d be l i k e i f you were married and suddenly she looked the m i r r o r way'." " I t ' s a problem I haven't run i n t o . " "You w i l l though. I bet you w i l l . Most guys aren't l o o k i n g f o r i t l i k e I am. They never get a good l o o k u n t i l the c h i c k ' s got the r i n g . T h i s engagement bus i n e s s i s f o r the b i r d s . I ' l l never buy a r i n g . " "No?" "No. You l o s e your sense of judgement. By the time you see the l i g h t i t ' s too l a t e . Marriage i s f o r some b l i n d j e r k who's never going to see t h a t m i r r o r f a c e of h e r . Love's e i t h e r temporary or i t h u r t s . Maybe t h a t ' s when i t ' s b e s t , when i t ' s l i k e a magic k n i f e i n the g u t s , l e t t i n g the t e n s i o n out. F i x e s you up while i t c u t s you up." "Shhh. What's t h a t ? He's home... i t ' s C l a r k e . " "So?" "Just a minute." Hugh opened the door i n t o C l a r k e ' s room. " H i . Did you have a good time?" "Why?" "Just wondering. How do you l i k e Charmaine?" "I'm not c e r t a i n . " 141 "Anything happen?" C h a r l i e asked. "No, n o t h i n g happened!" "Don't get your bowels i n a t u r m o i l . " "Shhhi" Hugh whispered. "Shut the door, w i l l you? I want t o go to bed." "O.K.," Hugh s t i l l h e l d the door open, "O.K." "What are you doing t h e r e ? " "Just t a l k i n g . " "Well, would you mind doing i t elsewhere? I want to s l e e p . " —mum at t a b l e : p a r t another In bed, C l a r k e thought t h a t i t was too l a t e f o r a f u l l n i g h t ' s r e s t . That meant a s t r u g g l e t o complete h i s essay on time. The r e g r e t t a b l e consequence of t h a t would be t h a t t h e r e would never be a r e s o l u t i o n between the order of grace and the o r d e r of n a t u r e . He had never, without e x c e p t i o n , been l a t e with an essay. I t was a matter of w i l l i n g the pen to move. When he s a i d , "Yes," i t never would say, "No." I t n e v e r , never would say "No." He was devoted t o the t i l l a g e of i n k . He might b e t t e r have squandered h i s l i f e i n the t i l l a g e of female channels, perhaps no more r e c k l e s s , probably more p r o d u c t i v e , o r r e p r o d u c t i v e . He d i d not know i f he would have r e g r e t t e d i t . How c o u l d Charmaine pretend to know t h a t he would? In h i s c a r r e l at the l i b r a r y someone had s c r a t c h e d the o u t l i n e of an obscene nude. The spine of h i s book, when he 142 propped i t a g a i n s t the w a l l , r e s t e d on the c r u t c h of the s k e t c h . He had l u s t e d f o r sexual s a t i s f a c t i o n , p h y s i c a l r a p p o r t . What was wrong wi t h t h a t ? Perhaps he lov e d h e r . Unless he was motivated "by a d e s i r e t o experiment. That c o u l d have heen why she s a i d t h a t he would r e g r e t i t . No. I t had developed too n a t u r a l l y t o have been an experiment, t o o . . . m e c h a n i c a l l y . She had i n i t i a t e d i t , f o r c e d i t . There c o u l d only be s c o r n f o r h e r d e n i a l . Scorn, e s p e c i a l l y , i f i t was intended to. impress him. I t might have been more accomplished t o rape h e r , d e s t r o y i n g h e r b l u f f , making h e r defense one wit h h i s w i l l . A fathomless and i n t r i c a t e endeavour! He went to the window. Opening i t a t t r a c t e d the a t t e n t i o n of Hugh and C h a r l i e on the porch. He whispered down. "Hugh! I'm s o r r y f o r b e i n g so short-tempered. I'm over-t i r e d . Do you mind?" "That's O.K. C h a r l i e , " Hugh s a i d . — g r i s t : aube A l a n h e l d M innie, f e e l i n g the touch of h e r cheek, but had not yet k i s s e d h e r . The rhythm from the s t e r o was i n t e s t i n a l . He r a i s e d h i s hand t o touch h e r l i p s . "Look!" Minnie s a i d , "the sun's up." "No! What time i s i t ? " "Twenty a f t e r seven." "What! I can't b e l i e v e i t , can you?" She looked at him, not answering. "Where has the time gone? L e t ' s c l o s e the b l i n d s . The l i g h t s p o i l s e v e r y t h i n g . Forget i t ' s daytime." She watched him c l o s e the b l i n d s . He r e t u r n e d . "You've made the time f l y . " She laughed. "You're a good dancer. But i t ' s not only t h a t M i n n i e . " "C'mon," she s a i d , l e d him by one hand f o r a few s t e p s , then broke and ran up the s t a i r s . "Where d i d everybody go?" In the bedroom, John was p u t t i n g on h i s shoes. "Let's get the h e l l out of h e r e , " he s a i d . "What's been going on?" A l a n asked. "As i f you d i d n ' t know." Minnie laughed and woke the o t h e r s , "C'mon A l , l e t ' s r e a l l y wake 'em up." "Hoi" "We're g o i n g , " John t o l d them. "What's your h u r r y ? " ' "I want t o get the h e l l out of h e r e . C'mon A l a n . " " I f you're going you can take t h a t f i l t h y s l o b w i t h you!" Roberta clambered out of bed. "I guess we'd b e t t e r . " "You'd b e t t e r c l e a n up h i s s t i n k i n g mess, t o o l " "Not at t h i s hour of the morning." "Don't l e a v e i t f o r us!" Roberta, naked, walked over to. the bed M i l l e r was on. Her body was square and tough, l i k e an odd machine, and out of h e r sweater, h e r b r e a s t s hung t h i n , l i k e water b o t t l e s . "Look what he's done t o the rug!" "Alan, h e l p me get him up." "What i s i t ? What i s i t ? " M i l l e r was s t a r t l e d . "Ohhh. Get me home John, get me home." "You c l e a n thisr: mess up s l o b . Eat i t i f you have t o , but c l e a n i t up I " M i l l e r threw up, puke t h r u s t i n g out of him, h i t t i n g t h e w a l l . He c o l l a p s e d to the bed a g a i n . "Eeehhhh! Good God I " "Damn i t . A l a n , l i f t him out of here. " "Get him out of here! " screamed Roberta. "Good-bye boys," Minnie s a i d . "Who's going t o c l e a n t h i s mess!" She f o l l o w e d them down the s t a i r s . " I t ' l l l e a v e a s t a i n . What'11 my f a t h e r say? What'11 I t e l l him!" They hauled M i l l e r out and John c l o s e d the door. "Get me home. P l e a s e get me home. I'm s i c k . Oh, help. me." "I'm not going back i n t o t h a t p l a c e , " John s a i d . "We'll have to walk t o a phone booth and c a l l a cab." "You have money f o r a cab?" " M i l l e r here must have some. He was going t o get a cab from the f r a t . " "I'm s i c k . . . Got t o s t o p . . . Oh, I'm going t o d i e . " "C'mon, you're too heavy t o h o i s t around. Get a move on." "Oh, h e l p me." They got a l i f t i n the milkman's van t o a c o r n e r phone, and waited t h e r e f o r a t a x i . 14-5 November: F i r s t S n owfall — u n d e r a l i c e ' s r o o f The day began b e a u t i f u l l y . The sun shone, came l i k e a l o v e r i n t o A l i c e ' s room. I t woke h e r , warm i n h e r h a i r . She shut o f f the alarm. The c a t l e p t up on the bed and c u r l e d . She propped h e r s e l f up wi t h the p i l l o w s , punching them r o u n d l y . W i l l y had always used t h r e e p i l l o w s . The c a t c u r l e d on the enormity of h e r b u s t . She ran a pudgy f i n g e r over i t s head. She enjoyed the sun's h e a t . The w i n t e r sun would soon b e a r no warmth. She l i k e d the summer, and s p r i n g , r o l l i n g i n the b l e s s e d f i e l d s of f r e s h g r a s s . In August the crops were so h i g h she c o u l d not f i n d the spot where they'd l a i n . The n i g h t s were c o l d , a l l the same, i n s p r i n g . She'd near caught h e r death i n the damp t h e r e , t h r e e n i g h t s i n a row. I t was i n the week b e f o r e she married Ned. They'd been r i g h t t h a t Ned was too o l d . Her e f f o r t s had a l l been wasted. She'd n e v e r had c h i l d r e n . She'd t r i e d , f o r sure . I t must have been Ned had done something wicked, c u r s i n g them. When he was muzzled u p s t a i r s -in h i s y e l l o w books, she'd worked at i t with a young scout o r two i n h e r time. That was a l l years ago. She missed W i l l i e . Heaven i s m e r c i f u l t o s i n n e r s . She rubbed the c a t ' s e a r s . I f W i l l i e c o u l d come back f o r . the Christmas h o l i d a y s , she could make him King f o r a time. A short time mind, she'd been the boss around her house. W i l l i e always d i d d l e d about 146 w i t h t h i n g s , l i k e the lawn mower, c l o s e so she c o u l d put h e r f i n g e r on him. Not much of a p r o v i d e r , hut she'd looked a f t e r t h a t end of i t j u s t f i n e . She got out of bed, h o l d i n g h e r l i n e n nightgown around h e r . She p u l l e d a trunk out from the w a l l , l i f t e d a s e c t i o n of baseboard and removed a c o l d cream j a r from a h o l e i n the p a r t i t i o n . On the l i d of the j a r was taped a b i t of paper. A row of f i g u r e s was s c r i b b l e d on i t , scored o f f , but f o r the l a t e s t , t h i r t y - f i v e seventy-five.* That i n c l u d e d the t h r e e - f i f t y she'd put t h e r e two n i g h t s b e f o r e , a l l i n q u a r t e r s . She stacked them, r e p l a c e d the l i d , and ret u r n e d the money among the t i n s and j a r s t h a t had l o n g been f i l l e d . She made the bed, t u c k i n g i n the p i l l o w s . Some of the t i n s had been t h e r e s i n c e W i l l i e ' s time. She never spent any of i t , and every cent came from h e r boarding money. Her l a d y f r i e n d s a t the S e n i o r C i t i z e n s s a i d they d i d n ' t know how she kept i t up. They brought i t up when someone showed a fancy f o r h e r , and more than one gentleman had done t h a t . They knew they c o u l d never do i t , they'd say, and they c o u l d n ' t . She brushed her h a i r and pinned i t up, a p p l i e d h e r rouge and powder. She'd never been l a t e i n s e t t i n g out a meal. She dressed and parted the- c u r t a i n s . The sky was a s a i l o r ' s warning. C l a n k i n g about i n the k i t c h e n , she remembered t h a t Johnnie would come to p i l e the wood i n the c e l l a r . He was a slow worker, but she c o u l d depend on him. She was s t r i c t with the boys, but they l i k e d h e r . They were even c l o s e , though she sometimes thought i n a strange way. They acted a b i t l i k e h e r o l d e r 147 b r o t h e r had done, b e f o r e she got m a r r i e d . She put the k e t t l e on. — w o r d s When M i l l e r woke h i s b e l l y was a wet d i s h t o w e l . The f l o o r wobbled and h i s f e e t were l o o s e . He d r e s s e d . "Damn i t , " he thought, "damn i t , damn i t I " He met John i n the k i t c h e n . "Well, how are you t h i s morning?" John asked. "Great! You p u l l e d through a l l r i g h t , eh." He punched John on the sh o u l d e r . John winced and went u p s t a i r s . "Whatsamatter? S t i l l p r e t t y weak, huh." M i l l e r went i n t o t h e d i n i n g room where A l b e r t was s e t t i n g a p l a c e b e f o r e him. "Hey A l b e r t , you shoulda been w i t h us l a s t n i g h t . What a n i g h t ! Eh, A l a n . " "Mmmm." * "We had these t h r e e broads. They were g r e a t . You shoulda seen the p l a c e they had. Swank. We got the ass screwed o f f us, eh A l a n . " "Shut up about i t w i l l you?" A l b e r t s a i d . "What's the matter? You j e a l o u s ? " "I don't know where you p i c k up a l l the h a r l o t s . " "Women screw. That's the way i t i s . " "Shut up!" "There i s n ' t a dame on t h i s e arth you can't screw i f you work at i t r i g h t . Old snerch has a whole harem of them. A l l l o v e l y as movie s t a r s t o o . He photographs them i n the nude. Gets them t o do something lewd and photographs them." 148 "Who's Snerch?" A l a n asked. " L e i g h t o n . " " P r o f e s s o r L e i g h t o n ? " "Sure." "Ah, baloney!" "No. I t ' s t r u e . I know the guy who s e l l s him the f i l m s and t h a t . He was t e l l i n g me how these babes go to h i s p l a c e a l l the time. They take i t as a compliment. He's got the technique, t h a t ' s a l l . They're a l l squirming a f t e r him." "Baloney." " H e l l ! I t ' s the t r u t h , I t e l l you. Don't you know about L e i g h t o n . He fu c k s h i s students t o o . " "Shut up! Shut up! Now I mean i t , " A l b e r t rapped the t a b l e , "I don't want t o hear t h a t t a l k around t h i s house. I'm s i c k of your d i r t y , f i l t h y t a l e s and s l a n d e r . Can't you t a l k about anything e l s e ! " "What's wit h you? I f you don't have anything t o do with women A l b e r t , they can't cheat you, i f t h a t ' s what you're worried about. Maybe you can f i n d an u g l y one. Nobody bothers w i t h them. You got an ug l y pussy tucked away somewhere?" A l b e r t threw h i s f o r k . — r e s o l v e , t h a t . . . "I'm t e l l i n g you to shut up!" A l b e r t g l a r e d a t M i l l e r , who ate h i s b r e a k f a s t t o a s t . "You're d i s g u s t i n g M i l l e r . You're a l l the time running o f f at the mouth w i t h f i l t h . I f you've got n o t h i n g b e t t e r t o say, keep your t r a p shut. You t a l k too much. You're j u s t a d i r t y l i t t l e g u t t e r s n i p e . I t ' s immaturity, you 149 know," he looked at A l a n f o r c o n f i r m a t i o n , "that makes people laugh a t f i l t h . D i r t y jokes w i t h no r e a l humour at a l i i A c c o r d i n g t o you the whole world i s a r o t t e n c e s s - p o o l . I'm s i c k of i t . I'm s i c k of a l l your t a l k about blow jobs and goosing and p u l l i n g your w i r e . I get s i c k i n the g u t s ! Do you hear? Every word you say i s v i l e . " He h e s t i t a t e d , "At your age you should have g o t t e n over t h a t adolescent a t t i t u d e . I enjoy women, but I don't go around the.whole day with a p i c t u r e of a g i a n t cock" i n my head." M i l l e r s n i c k e r e d . A l b e r t shook, and the b r e a t h h u f f e d out of him. He swallowed some c o f f e e . "Ah!" he walked i n t o the l i v i n g room and turned on the t e l e v i s i o n . A commercial was on, c l a i m i n g a product would keep you r i g h t on t o p . A l b e r t was t h i n k i n g about May, the g i r l who came to c l e a n up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thursday b e f o r e l a s t she had' wanted t o see what i t was l i k e between h e r f e e t , had cupped h e r f e e t f o r him, over and around i t . That was f o r him, when they were alone; t h a t was h i s and pa s s i o n a t e w i t h l o v e . T h i s other t h i n g was c a l c u l a t e d lewdness. — o v e r m a t c h C l a r k e was too l a t e f o r b r e a k f a s t . He p u l l e d a c h a i r t o the bed, to put h i s a s h t r a y on. O r d i n a r i l y he despised smoking b e f o r e having something on h i s stomach. E s s a y - i n - p r o g r e s s was on the desk. I n t e r l i b r a r y l o a n arrangement to be made. A money order f o r the book-club payment. At the lunc h b a r one s t r e e t over they poached eggs w e l l . He 150 c o u l d buy a b a l l r p o i n t o r a r e f i l l — b u t t h e r e was no h u r r y . There were o t h e r t h i n g s . He had r a t e d zero i n the b u s i n e s s of the n i g h t b e f o r e . He would have r a t e d zero with the most d o c i l e , simple-minded wench a v a i l a b l e . He had no time. I f it.was May he might r e l a x . Ho, i f i t was May he would inaugurate some study p r o j e c t t o l a s t the summer, w i t h d e a d l i n e s to be met and a t i m e t a b l e t o be f o l l o w e d . How does one f i t c h i l d - b i r t h i n t o a t i m e t a b l e ? Hugh came i n t o the room. "Dinner should be ready soon. Coming?" "Yes," C l a r k e answered, "wait f o r me." — C h a r l i e ' s dream At d i n n e r the phone rang f o r Hugh and C h a r l i e i n v i t e d him o v e r . C l a r k e asked who'd c a l l e d and a f t e r e a t i n g went with Hugh t o the apartment C h a r l i e shared with h i s s t e p - b r o t h e r , F r e d e r i c k K n i g h t . I t was a modern a p a r t m e n t — b r i g h t hardwood and p l a s t e r — an expensive one. Monk was t h e r e t o o , and they were watching f o o t b a l l on the s c r e e n . Fred went f o r b e e r s . Chuck, l a s t n i g h t , had had the damndest dream. He'd dreamed he'd stood b e f o r e the m i r r o r l o o k i n g at h i s f a c e and i t was h e a l t h y , young, and w e l l , he s a i d , i n the dream i t was b e a u t i f u l , a s o r t of boy Snow-white peaches and cream, and then he watched amazingly i t wizen dry and t u r n g r e e n i s h and l o o s e -appearing on the bones, w i t h b o i l s and pimples b u l g i n g up. H i s f a c e was knotted w i t h them, ' t i l a l l h i s eyes c o u l d see was one , p r i z e pimple t h a t he l o a t h e d . He was compelled to squeeze i t . 151 He put h i s f i n g e r s up, p r e s s i n g round the pimple. I t was a simple dream, and pus came out,, but what i t was, i t was p r e c i s e l y l i k e t o o t h p a s t e oozing from a tube. I t peeled, c u r l i n g out, and kept i t up l o n g , l o n g by yards t o measure. Then i t was gone, f e l l f ' o u t and c l e a n away. He f e l t i t was a l l c l e a n , h i s f a c e was c l e a r e d . There was a h o l e though, where the paste came out, but i t had a l l come out.and he had f e l t r e l i e v e d . "Ughh!" Hugh s a i d , "What a dreamJ " "Damn weird," Monk s a i d . " S i c k . " "How?" "Sounds l i k e you've got some g u i l t complex." "Perhaps you were merely r e l i v i n g some d i s g u s t i n g e x p e r i e n c e , " C l a r k e s a i d . . "Had you f e l t shocked o r d i s g u s t e d by an y t h i n g p r e v i o u s l y ? " "No. I can't remember anything l i k e t h a t . " F r e d e r i c k was back w i t h the b e e r . "Phooeyl Too much i s made of the s i g n i f i c a n c e of dreams." "The h e l l ! " Monk r e t o r t e d . "They bear a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n -s h i p to what's going on i n one's mind. They have t o . The m a t e r i a l f o r them must come from somewhere!" "Sure, but i t ' s j u s t a d i s t o r t i o n of some worry or f e a r of waking l i f e . " "So what?" "So, such a dream may be c r e a t e d out of something v e r y unimportant." "Worry and f e a r a ren't unimportant. That's s i c k ! " C h a r l i e turned o f f the t e l e v i s i o n . "Never mind* never mind. I don't want t o be analysed by you c h a r a c t e r s . What . 152 r e a l l y s t r u c k me was t h a t i t was so l u c i d . " — t o u r n a m e n t : one "Dreams and the mind," Monk s a i d , and he went on. F r e d e r i c k sat u p r i g h t i n the armchair, l e t t i n g h i s hands droop, l o o k i n g at C h a r l i e . S i l v e r and g o l d . H i s s t a r s were s i l v e r and h i s b r o t h e r ' s s t a r s were g o l d . They c o n t r a s t e d s h a r p l y on the b u l l e t i n board. Once, ye a r a f t e r y e a r , day a f t e r day gone by, i n a time b e f o r e C h a r l i e , t h e r e was a woman, Mother, and a b r o t h e r a l s o , Amy, of t h e self-same b l o o d . The b r o t h e r had i l l l u c k . He remembered l i t t l e of h i s f a t h e r i n those days. Mother s a i d t h a t he was busy i n the o f f i c e . L a t e r , they got d i v o r c e d , and the f a t h e r married C h a r l i e ' s widowed mother. They had l i v e d i n s t y l e i n a suburban b r i c k house on a s t r e e t where the constant t r a f f i c s t i r r e d up dust. Always t h e r e was a g r i n d i n g sense of dust s e t t l i n g i n the house. Hot a l l the Mother's c l e a n i n g and p o l i s h i n g c o u l d keep ahead of i t . She dusted each day u n t i l , d e s p a i r i n g , she would put the rags and mops and lemon o i l i n the cupboard, w h i s p e r i n g t h a t they must move I must move', must f i n d another house! He was one year younger than h i s b r o t h e r . They h u r r i e d back from s c h o o l . The f i r s t one home had the r i g h t t o t e l l Mother what had happened dur i n g the day, while they helped h e r cut f l o w e r s from the green house and arrange them f r e s h l y i n the v a s e s . Dust s e t t l e d even on the f l o w e r s . On Sundays they would dress the best they c o u l d and walk 153 through the park. Returning home, Mother would check the b u l l e t i n board, though they always knew ahead of time, and whoever had the most s t a r s won a q u a r t e r . On the l a s t day of the month t h e r e was a d o l l a r f o r winning the m a j o r i t y of columns. There was a h i s t o r y column, a math, and one f o r every s u b j e c t t h a t they s t u d i e d , and others f o r d i s c i p l i n e , promptness, c l e a n l i n e s s , e t i q u e t t e , and c h o r e s . A r n o l d won most columns, e s p e c i a l l y promptness and d i s c i p l i n e . H i s b r o t h e r complained, i n h i g h s c h o o l , s a y i n g h i s work was one year advanced and much more d i f f i c u l t , but a f t e r Christmas, when he was i n the eleventh grade, he got pneumonia and missed a good d e a l of the s c h o o l y e a r , so t h a t he f a i l e d and afterwards they were i n the same c l a s s . The Mother had to i n t r o d u c e new columns, designated r e c r e a t i o n a l achievement and e x t r a c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t i e s , because Amy s a i d i t wasn't f a i r t h a t F r e d e r i c k s t u d i e d w h i l e he spent time at s p o r t s and on the students' c o u n c i l . When they went to u n i v e r s i t y , Mother drove them down and found a f i n e apartment and f u r n i s h e d i t f o r them. She s a i d i t was a l o v e l y apartment. The dust would not be bad t h e r e . Perhaps she c o u l d get f a t h e r to change h i s mind and move t o London so the boys c o u l d l i v e at home. Before l e a v i n g she made them promise to l o o k a f t e r and h e l p each o t h e r , and not to n e g l e c t t h e i r work. I t happened, however, t h a t as the year ran out, A r n o l d d i d n e g l e c t h i s work. There was something m i s s i n g , he s a i d . He wanted t h i n g s and i t was time he had them. He got a job i n Feb-r u a r y , i n a s t e e l f a b r i c a t i n g p l a n t . He d i d not t e l l t h e i r mother. 154 — l a m e n t : two "I t e l l you C h a r l i e , " s a i d Monk, "you're l o s i n g your marbles. When you s t a r t having weird dreams l i k e t h a t , f e l l o w , you're on your way out. I t ' s not s u r p r i s i n g . Happens to a l l of us. I t comes from b e i n g cooped up a l l the time. Shaving and b r u s h i n g your t e e t h — t h e y get to be the b i g events i n your l i f e . There's some hope as l o n g as you r e a l i z e you're going o f f your r o c k e r . That's what cheeses me o f f : most of these queers who get s t r a i g h t 'A's'don't have the f a i n t e s t i d e a t h a t t h e y ' r e o f f the deep end. Arrogant r u n t s , a c t i n g as though they have t o i n d u l g e us. E i t h e r t h e y ' r e t h a t way or t h e y ' r e romantic screw-b a l l s wandering i n a bloody v o i d , n e u r o t i c , chewing t h e i r n a i l s , l o o k i n g out at the world through s q u i n t i n g , bloodshot eyes. They need the shock treatment. Confront them w i t h s e n s u a l i t y , l u s t , r u t h l e s s n e s s , f u t i l i t y . They're u t t e r l y i n c a p a b l e of a p p l y i n g t h e i r knowledge. What the h e l l k i n d of an education are we g e t t i n g i f students who are supposedly s u p e r i o r don't develop t h a t a b i l i t y . The bloody w r i t i n g on the w a l l they wouldn't see. "They go out of u n i v e r s i t y and d e t e r i o r a t e i n t o shadows t e n d i n g t r i v i a l i t i e s , or they take graduate courses o r become t e a c h e r s , t r y i n g t o r o l l back t i d e s , b u i l d i n g u n s t a b l e i v o r y towers, l i k e P i s a , ready t o f a l l . " "I get s t r a i g h t 'A's'," C l a r k e s a i d . — w o r d s "Come now, Malcolm," Pred broke the s i l e n c e , "You're a misanthrope." 155 "Ho! Like Swift, I l i k e i n d i v i d u a l s but hate mankind i n general." "Well, a pessimist then." "Someone said that pessimism i s a word that men of weak nerves give to wisdom."' "Is i t wise to provoke unhappiness?" "Maybe. Anyway, pessimism doesn't provoke unhappiness." "It seems to i n your case." " B a l l s ! " "Surely, Malcolm, i t ' s better to look on the bright side of things. There are things of value." "Shit man! we can ignore the bright side of l i f e . I f l i f e were continually pleasant we wouldn't think about i t . Trouble i s , l i f e doesn't add up to 'happily ever a f t e r ' . You've got to f i n d value i n the most c r u e l , most miserable things. Then.life's worth i t . Who cares about the j o l l y days?" "Isn't that simply concentrating on the brighter side of miserable s i t u a t i o n s ? " "No. We're doomed. The in e v i t a b l e end i s t r a g i c . Tragedy may be b e a u t i f u l , and therefore not miserable, but i t ' s not j o l l y . " "How do you define tragedy?" "As a f a l l from fortune." "No t r a g i c flaw? What kind of a tragedy i s i t i f i t ' s simply predestined?" " H e l l , doesn't the tra g i c flaw make the outcome in e v i t a b l e i n any event?" "But according to you everyone's l i f e i s tragic.. Surely tragedy i s e s s e n t i a l l y uncommon." 156 " E i g h t 1 Not everyone r i s e s t o f o r t u n e . The h e i g h t of t h e r i s e determines the i n t e n s i t y of the tragedy." "Just a moment. I've l o s t the development of your argument somewhere." "Happens t o the best of people." "Thank you. The importance of the t r a g i c flaw, to get back to t h a t , i s t h a t i t p r o v i d e s a m o t i v a t i o n f o r the tragedy, an area of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i f you w i l l , a cause, and t h a t i s where we can l a y t h e blame." "Blame, blame? Why the h e l l do you need t o blame anything? Look, see, you've got t h i s t y p i c a l i d e a of good and e v i l . The s i g n i f i c a n c e of anything i s i n i t s e l f , not i n i t s imagined r e l a t i o n s h i p t o t h i n g s beyond i t . " "You can blame the hero f o r not overcoming h i s f l a w . Tragedy i m p l i e s t h a t t h i n g s might have been b e t t e r . " "Por s h i t ' s sake, look'. P e r f e c t i o n i s u n a t t a i n a b l e . I t ' s l i k e the o l d s t o r y of a f r o g t h a t l e a p s toward a door. Every time he l e a p s he covers h a l f the d i s t a n c e to the door, but he s i m u l t a n e o u s l y s h r i n k s to h a l f h i s former s i z e . Say he's f o u r f e e t from t h e door. He l e a p s two f e e t but s h r i n k s t o h a l f h i s former s i z e and can only l e a p one foot,, then s i x i n c h e s , then t h r e e , and so on. Does he ever reach the door? No. The only d i f f e r e n c e i s t h a t the door seems more overwhelming t o him. I say t o h e l l w i t h the door! I say l e t ' s l e a p where we bloody w e l l p l e a s e . That's where we get a l l buggered u p — t h i s i d e a of p r o g r e s s i n g toward some g o a l d i s t i n c t from simply t h e jumping." "Your analogy i s not q u i t e f a i r . I t seems to me that the f r o g ' s l e a p i n g forward e n t a i l s an improvement of h i s c o n d i t i o n 157 i n l i f e , and he doesn't diminish i n s i z e . " "So!" "Never mind! never mind." "For C h r i s t ' s sake! you guys could go on forever," Hugh s a i d . — i t snows John Parish sat on a park bench before the band s h e l l by a cannon of p e t r i f i e d Boer brass i n the night dampness as the snow came f o r the f i r s t time that winter, f a l l i n g i n wet sullen f l a k e s , each of p a r t i c u l a r design, he thought no two a l i k e but at h i s feet dissolved on the grass just out of embrace t h e i r delicacy i f they were d e l i c a t e . He had that afternoon applied f o r a mailman's job, d e l i v e r i n g , which would take months f o r the outcome, being government. A postman walks i n snow and i n the r a i n . S q u i r r e l s , bigger than r a t s , black and grey, mutant ugly, unlike the red chatter ones of home, floundered over the cannon, awkward i n t h e i r blubber, t r y i n g to hurry, hoarding, mump-cheeked, a l l winter, a l l year, f o r a winter barreness that never was to come. His master rode a dappled s q u i r r e l , sweating .hard and blowing, excel l e n t l y fanged, racket hooved, galloping through snow clouds of buffet, threadbare gabardine cloak f l y i n g , pockets plugged with acorns of s i l v e r and of gold, knick-knack powers, wonders and blessings 'gainst portents of a rainy day, rode off from John and l e f t him unforbidden there, i f he could only.find to t e l l but Who? t e l l who? he thought, walking home. 158 Gossamer and the Snow M e l t s — a d e l i c a t e problem The b e l l r ang. Hugh was i n c l a s s . C h a r l i e sat two rows b e f o r e him, between P e a r l and h e r g i r l f r i e n d s . Rena came l a t e l y , t o a u d i t Prump's l e c t u r e s . She sat behind C h a r l i e , l e g s c r o s s e d , d a n g l i n g h e r shoe from h e r t o e . Prump entered, l a t e , as u s u a l , l u g g i n g an armload of books t h a t he dropped, c r a s h i n g , on the desk. Index f i n g e r on h i s lower l i p , he looked emptily over the room. H i s l e a t h e r ears t w i t c h e d , oddly f l a t on top and c u r l i n g out. He h e l d h i s c h i n i n the arch of h i s f i n g e r s , frowning. "Uh, uh, what's t h i s ? Oh y e s . J u s t a moment. One moment p l e a s e . I know what I'm d o i n g , you know. I know what I'm d o i n g . I was t h i n k i n g about my book. P u b l i s h or p e r i s h , you know.. P r e s t i g e f o r the f a c u l t y . How to d i s t r i b u t e the c r e d i t s e q u a l l y among t h i r t e e n f u l l p r o f e s s o r s . One must use t a c t . The Department Head i s coming out w i t h a work of h i s own and i t wouldn't be wise to s t e a l h i s f i r e , whereas and a l s o , a s c h o l a r at another i n s t i t u t i o n , which s h a l l remain nameless, i s t r y i n g t o p u b l i s h a work much l i k e my own. Haste i s i m p e r a t i v e . What to do? Uh... uh... uh-huh. W e l l , t h a t w i l l do. That w i l l have to do. Where were we?" " S i r , " s a i d an o l d e r woman i n the f r o n t row, t w i s t i n g h e r p e n c i l , "you s a i d you'd r e t u r n the essays to-day." "Essays? How l o o k , don't worry your l i t t l e heads about essays." He scowled. The c l a s s moaned. C h a r l i e continued the game of t i c - t a c - t o e w i t h P e a r l ' s f r i e n d s . Rena swung her f o o t , nudging C h a r l i e ' s c h a i r , P e a r l turned to regard h e r . 159 " P e a r l , my dear, why are you t w i t c h i n g ? I t becomes, uh... i t becomes, uh... i t becomes... F o r g i v e my b u n g l i n g . Are you i t c h y ? Have you something down your back? Would you l i k e me t o s c r a t c h your back, P e a r l ? " He took o f f h i s g l a s s e s and put them on a g a i n . "Well t h e n . Then, l e t us b e g i n . " He spread h i s notes on the l e c t e r n , r a n the f l a t of h i s hand over the page, f e l t the paper. He hummed magnanimously. "Notes on the R h e t o r i c i a n s . " He r a i s e d h i s r i g h t arm, w i g g l i n g the f i n g e r s . C h a r l i e leaned toward P e a r l . "Here comes the a c t . What's he want, we should throw pennies?" Prump tweaked h i s nose, removed h i s g l a s s e s , r e p l a c e d them. "There i s no doubt about, uh... about, uh... What am I t a l k i n g about? What am I saying? I know what I'm doing, you know. About the e l i p s e s , the e l i p s e s , the e l i p s e s here." He r a i s e d one f i n g e r and h i s v o i c e . "Is i t a mistake? No I I t i s not a mistake! Why?" Wiggled h i s f i n g e r s . "Something or o t h e r . . . " . No one knew. He f l a r e d . h i s n o s t r i l s , bared h i s t e e t h , drew i n the edges of h i s mouth to make deep c r e a s e s from the nose to the jaw. "And w h i l e we are on t h i s , however... on t h i s s u b j e c t , uh... " He s t r a i g h t e n e d the books on h i s desk. "Which reminds me. But never mind what i t reminds me of.*' He s a t , f o l d e d h i s arms, and leaned forward on the desk. "Pay heed and l e a r n . " He drummed h i s f i n g e r s . "We might examine," he l i c k e d two f i n g e r s t o t u r n the page, "at l e a s t grammatically, what might have been the main f l a w of the s t y l e . " He looked up m i n c i n g l y . "Any thought on t h i s prose s t y l e ? " No answer. " T h i s i s a f a i r l y , uh... a f a i r l y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e b i t . . . o r t h a t b i t where I l e f t o f f i s a f a i r l y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e b i t . " He ran through the page with 160 h i s f o r e f i n g e r . "Nowwwwl uh... l o o k w e l l . . I t c o u l d be that, they weren't seeking a f t e r s t y l e , and were not as p r i m i t i v e as may seem. But i t may i l l u s t r a t e . . . Bo you f o l l o w me?... a h y p o t h e t i c a l simple s t a t e . " — g r a p e s to sour C h a r l i e watched Prump, h i s f a c e , h i s mouth, which was a. o n e - r i n g c i r c u s , i t s j u g g l e r s , i t s a c r o b a t s , round now, p r e c i s e l y t h e s i z e of a t w e n t y - f i v e cent p i e c e , now drawn back to bare the t e e t h l i k e gnash, f l u n g open, pom-pom, l i k e surprise-a-drum, a music of e l a s t i c nightmares. C h a r l i e c o u l d p l a y f l a m - p a r a d i d d l e s , but not so smoothly, thought the s t i c k i n g out, and i t sounded m i l i t a r y i n h i s head when he wanted something e l s e . He had the i n t i m a t i o n of i t , l i k e a chug-boat, should be watery b e s i d e the waves, though he would f o r g e t b e f o r e c l a s s was out, had f o r g o t t e n i t a l r e a d y , and would not be a b l e t o remember when he wished'to. P e a r l would be no h e l p . She thought he was the b e s t . She was h o l d i n g h i s w r i s t , p l a y i n g over i t . She was never s t i l l . He t u s s l e d with h e r hand t o get i t p l a y f u l l y the h e l l o f f him, and turned h i s head t o the window. He needed t o p l a y with a group t h a t demanded more. He was growing s t a l e , f e e l i n g always he swung on f r i n g e s of the whole t h i n g and couldn't grasp. He had the c l u e , the s o u l t h i n g , but no grasp of what was music r e a l l y . . . red i n the c o r n e r of h i s eye was Rena eyes b u r n i n g - i n h i s cabbage head. She crouched t h e r e times he turned to e x t r i c a t e p l a y f u l l y h i s wrist, a g a i n , t h i n k i n g a good judo-chop t o the n e c k -would be e f f e c t i v e , and p o i n t e d at'Prump, and then had to pretend t o l i s t e n so that P e a r l would, but r e a l l y was a l l o w i n g Rena 161 crouched i n h i s cabbage head she was nudging h i s l e g with h e r t o e . Her shoe was o f f . I t teased him, a l o n g h i s c a l f . He s h i f t e d i n h i s c h a i r . She kept p r e s s i n g w i t h the b i g t o e . He turned a g a i n , windoward, and she saw him see h e r from the c o r n e r of h i s eye. She grin n e d and put h e r coat over h e r l e g s , non-c h a l a n t l y . He l e t h i s hand down, resting a g a i n s t h e r knee. Roodie-doo-doo. He grasped h e r l e g and under h e r s k i r t went up, but c o u l d only reach a l i t t l e above the knee, though plump-up enough a-doodle-dool Prump was l e a v i n g e a r l y . They were s t a n d i n g , P e a r l was s a y i n g . . . he saw Rena... he shoved P e a r l ' s b u t t o c k , t o go out. He had t o stand but could not have them see i t was s t a n d i n g b i g . Had t o get h i s overcoat. He had hung i t at the s i d e . He saw Rena, as p u t t i n g on h i s c o a t , wink, and he growled a b i t e of h e r blown ac r o s s the a i r . — d e n of the devout Hugh looked f o r C h a r l i e o u t s i d e the classroom. He saw him. t a l k i n g t o Rena Armbural. He wanted t o walk home anyway, and C h a r l i e was not much f o r w a l k i n g . The bus wi t h i t s crowd, a l l elbows and sweat and the sludge of t h e i r words. I t was e x c e p t i o n a l l y hot f o r w i n t e r , making s l u s h of the snow. I t would f r e e z e up tomorrow. To-day he would get h i s f e e t wet. I t was hot, and yet the sweat of h i s walking c h i l l e d him, l i k e Prump, h i s words hot, not flame o r v i t a l o r emotion, but soddenly, o p p r e s s i v e l y h ot, l i k e the jung l e maybe was, l i k e stagnant swamps i n the head, d i s e a s e ri'dden, i n f e s t e d w i t h swarm 162 of i n s e c t s b u z z i n g up from the most f e t i d h o l e i n the mess, hot and o p p r e s s i v e l i k e H e l l , and every o t h e r P r o f was j u s t as bad, Mr. C a l l was j u s t as bad, h i s constant sexual a l l u s i o n s , grew embarrassing, though the one about the seamen who knocked the b r a i n s out of the dumb dodo b i r d s he addressed the g i r l s w i t h , "Don't be a dumb dodo or y o u ' l l get knocked up by semen." And t h e r e was the time t h a t L e i g h t o n , walking i n t o c l a s s , n o t i c e d h i s f l y undone and shouted, "Look out the window!", while he zipped i t up, wit h a l l heads.turned, out the window two dogs were, screwing. And C a l l ' s goose-Mother s t o r i e s . No more! Oh, what an a s s ! No more. And then Hugh thought i t was h i m s e l f , that i t was probably he was a f o o l . — w o r d s Damn i t no! I t was not him. Admiral L e i g h t o n f o r i n s t a n c e . . . Commander of the V e s s e l , manned by hooded apes, h i s bloody hangers-on. H i s cargo t o o , a l l mutant apes, i n l o v e w i t h a j a c k - i n - t h e -box Cut him out of mind. Slam the door! Look, the sun was h o t . Up ahead someone was walking and she was the s t r a i g h t type s o r t domesticated, t i d y . He'd c a t c h up. She'd hear h i s f o o t s t e p s : -clomp, s p l a s h , clomp. There, she lo o k e d . To overtake. " H e l l o . I t ' s wet f o r walking, huh?" " I t doesn't b o t h e r me. I've got good boots on." "G-oom. You have t o o . Uh, do I take a c l a s s with you?" "No." "I've seen you b e f o r e though, haven't I ? " 163 "At A l b e r t ' s p l a c e . " "Yeah-yeah. The p l a c e where Pete M i l l e r l i v e s . " "Yes." "Never thought. My name's Hugh Simon. What's yours?" "May. You don't remember? I made the l u n c h t h a t n i g h t f o r the poker game." "Now I remember. Sure. May." "Good-bye." "What?" "I go t h i s way." "Oh. W e l l , bye." — t o p a z : the sea Now he saw h e r now she gone f a c e l i k e a f r y i n g pan funny way to make money, c l e a n i n g house looked t o s u i t i t though f a c e l i k e a pot not u g l y j u s t l i k e a pot was a l l , l i k e k i t c h e n , aprons and d i s h e s and t h i n g s , domestic not u g l y what's u g l y ? Prump was u g l y , L e i g h t o n , t h a t t h i n g a l l crawly i n s i d e l i k e made.in Japan the time Hugh s l i n g s h o t a r o b i n -doughty, i t s innards crawled w i t h worms was u g l y , r e v u l s i o n made him f e e l but made himi f e e l i s a l l he knew of L e i g h t o n not h i s g u i l t perhaps b e t t e r than vacuum, which maybe was u g l i n e s s o n l y degrees of beauty sure, tragedy was why, maybe always w i t h a s l i n g s h o t by h e r s e l f h e r pan face was not u g l y only i n c o m p a r i s o n — c l a s s i f i c a t i o n b e i n g the b a s i s of knowledge but what t h e h e l l ! a pot was not an apple, s o r t of t h a t i t ! e v e r y t h i n g the systems evaluate by a s k i n g of i t what i t ' s not so maybe i t was good enough, a l l t h i n g s b e i n g b e a u t i f u l , l i k e t h i n k i n g on the 16k f a r country days of Ant o i n e ' s P o i n t w e r e ' b e a u t i f u l as fragments b e a u t i f u l because they were as fragments sure, roaming wide wi t h s l i n g s h o t on h i s f a t h e r ' s l a n d i n the sun, bleached h a i r and p e e l i n g nose, with the t i e he always wore and Spanish cowboy bo o t s , g r e a t f o r t r a c k i n g down the f r o g s , j o s t l i n g , w r e s t l i n g a l l the day except when h i s f i r s t Mary l o v e and he crouched i n the woods i n t h e i r twig l e a n - t o bower l i k e Robin Hood, she was h i s queen, they fended o f f the monster chipmunks and h e r dragon dog S c o t t i e i n quest of w i t h h i s l a n c e and sword b o l d l y brave he would stand guard sometimes while p r i n c e s s slumbered i n t h a t dragon.fen t i l l on a day he k i s s e d h e r on a day and more they never went a g a i n and t h a t was maybe, maybe... Sure. — y o u n g wax May's f a t h e r watched from the k i t c h e n window as she came down the s t r e e t t o the house. I t was a red, four-room bungalow of i m i t a t i o n b r i c k . There was a s m a l l lawn i n the f r o n t and a garden i n the r e a r , enclosed w i t h i n a h i g h board f e n c e . Her f a t h e r , whose name was Jan, was seventy, and spent most of h i s time l o o k i n g out the k i t c h e n window, from which he c o u l d see both the s t r e e t and h i s garden. He watched h i s garden grow. I t grew p o o r l y , f o r beneath the i n c h or two of a r i d s o i l was a g r a v e l bed. C u l t i v a t i o n and the r a i n brought the stones to the s u r f a c e . H i s gardening c o n s i s t e d mainly of p l u c k i n g out these stones and throwing them i n t o a heap i n the c o r n e r , by a s i n g l e t r e e . A c o n s i d e r a b l e p i l e of g r a v e l was amassed t h e r e . The snow had melted from them and they were dry i n the sun. May entered by the back door, d i r e c t l y i n t o the k i t c h e n . 165 She p l a c e d h e r books on the r e f r i g e r a t o r and began p r e p a r a t i o n s f o r the evening meal. The o l d man sat i n h i s wheel c h a i r , l o o k i n g out the window. He no l o n g e r had any p h y s i c a l need of the c h a i r , but had taken to i t a f t e r h a v ing been c r i p p l e d f o r some time, and i t e l i m i n a t e d the need of h a v i n g always, he s a i d , to be g e t t i n g up and down. He was a g i l e i n i t . I t conveyed h i s presence throughout the house. H i s eyes had a l s o improved r e c e n t l y . He had new g l a s s e s . May ref u s e d now, to read t o him. She placed a pot of stew at the back of the stove and was b o i l i n g f r e s h v e g e t a b l e s f o r i t . "Stew!" Jan s a i d . "Don't, s t a r t , why don't you h e l p me set the t a b l e ? The e x e r c i s e w i l l do you good." " E x e r c i s e . I know. I know... more than you t h i n k . " "Oh, puss', i f you knew t e n times more than I t h i n k you do, i t would s t i l l be n o t h i n g . " "AhI That's the way i t i s , then, i s i t ? " He wheeled h i m s e l f out of the room. "Come back. The supper's almost ready." He d i d not come back. When she had l a d l e d i t out she brought the p l a t e s t o him. i n the l i v i n g room. "You don't have t o s i t i n the dark." May turned on a l i g h t . "Why not? I'm h a l f b l i n d anyway. Not that you c a r e . " "Whatever you say." "Ahl Whatever you say. Whatever you say," he mocked. "Don't s t a r t , I t e l l you. I'm t i r e d , and you don't g i v e me any h e l p . " 166 "AhI I know more than you t h i n k . You don't mind workin' f o r them f r y , do ya? At t h a t f e l l a ' s p l a c e . What's h i s name? No account anyway—that pansy p a r l o u r s . " "You work i n t h a t s t u p i d . . . t h a t what i s i t out t h e r e , t h a t dust b i n , but you don't want t o work around the house." "Now you l i s t e n t o me young g i r l . That's my garden! I t ' l l grow, y o u ' l l see." "Is t h a t your reason?" "Ah! Reason. That," he gestured upwards with h i s thumb, "to your reason." "Puss i t I My reason i s t h a t I need money. I can't get by on what you give me." "Now then, why can't you get by? Why can't you get by? Because you go f r i g g i n ' around t h a t s c h o o l , t h a t ' s why." "Yes! that's- why.". "None of my.family needed s c h o o l i n ' . Worked t o g e t h e r l i k e our f a t h e r t o l d us. When I was twelve I was b r i n g i n ' home my pay. I'd put i t on the t a b l e t h e r e w i t h the r e s t . Many's the time we'd go by the shop where I worked an' my mother would say, 'I've had p l e n t y of c o i n from t h a t p l a c e , ' she'd say. But you a l i t t l e smart-ass eh?" — t o u r n a m e n t : two F r e d e r i c k looked at h i s g o l d watch. He had been w a i t i n g n e a r l y an hour t o p i c k up some essays he was t o mark f o r Prump. The door was open and he c o u l d see the bundled essays on the,desk. He looked i n a g a i n at Prump, who spoke t o h i s t y p i s t about the format of h i s book. F r e d e r i c k kneaded h i s hands, looked at h i s 167 watch, then tapped on the door frame and entered and pointed t o the essays. The P r o f confirmed t h a t they were the ones. Fred took them and l e f t . F o r t y - s i x essays was. twenty-three hours e x t r a work. I t would mean s t a y i n g up u n t i l t h r e e or f o u r every ..night t h a t week, but he needed the money. At t w o - f i f t y an hour i t would be over f i f t y d o l l a r s . I t was b e t t e r than w r i t i n g home f o r money. His parents would have been g l a d t o h e l p him, of course, but he was n e a r l y t h i r t y . Time was, when he l i v e d o f f h i s pa r e n t s , between f o u r w a l l s , i n the years a f t e r Amy had p a r o l e d h i m s e l f , when he spent hours l o o k i n g down at c h i l d r e n p l a y i n g i n the s t r e e t . I t was h i s real.mother then. I t pleased h e r to h e l p him, t e l l i n g h er guests at t e a how she would see to i t he f i n i s h e d s c h o o l and what a determined boy he was. A f t e r h i s b r o t h e r l e f t he got t o know the c h i l d r e n w e l l . They crouched under h i s window w i t h combat t o y s and they exchanged mock g u n f i r e w i t h him, dy i n g c o u n t l e s s times w i t h wonderful o v e r k i l l c a p a c i t y . Amy made a v i s i t once and threw a water bomb down on them. He had decided t o go home t o l o o k f o r a new job. A l l t h e i r f r i e n d s were at home. Amy took him out t h a t n i g h t and f e a s t e d him r o y a l l y , w i t h wine and f l a m i n g pudding and dancing g i r l s . Fred had t o work the next day, so Amy took the t r a i n and l e f t him t o h i s books. Amy cou l d n ' t stay at home, the Mother s a i d , u n l e s s he was working and ready to pay r e g u l a r room and board. So Amy became a salesman and took a f l a t of h i s own. When Fred was home h i s 168 b r o t h e r took him on the town or served d r i n k s at h i s apartment. A l o n g one w a l l was an oak bookcase. Amy s a i d he was b u i l d i n g up a l i b r a r y . They' were good books. He had r a t t a n c h a i r s and bamboo c u r t a i n s and t a p e s t r i e s on the w a l l s , p a i n t i n g s , eskimo c a r v i n g s , and a couple of bronze s t a t u e t t e s . In the den t h e r e were t e n n i s racquets and a shotgun on the w a l l . Arny had new g o l f c l u b s and a c a r . He was s a l e s manager when Pred graduated. Pred got work w i t h a f i n a n c e company. He had looked over the a p p l i c a t i o n forms. There were ques t i o n s about what were the q u a l i t i e s of a l e a d e r , and t h e r e were sentences t o complete. He remembered one e s p e c i a l l y : "Women.should ___>" "that he wanted t o complete by adding o n l y an exclamation mark: "Women should 1" He had put. down h i s p e n c i l and s a i d t o the a p p l i c a n t on the other s i d e of the desk, who was drawing a sketch of a man i n accordance with a request of the form, "I don't want to be a . f i n a n c e c l e r k . " The o t h e r a p p l i c a n t sketched more a v i d l y . On the next page was a p i c t u r e of t h r e e people, a l l a l i t t l e s n o t t y . There were two men t a l k i n g , one o l d e r than the o t h e r , and a young woman l o o k i n g on from a few steps back. In the background t h e r e were modem f u r n i s h i n g s and a blank w a l l . The i n s t r u c t i o n s demanded a s t o r y be w r i t t e n based on t h i s p i c t u r e . Pred took the j o t t i n g pad provided and wrote: T h i s i s a p i c t u r e of Tom, Dic k and Mary. Dick i s the e l d e r man on the r i g h t . Mary i s the g i r l . Mary i s Tom's g i r l . She l i k e s Tom. She i s watching Tom fawn over D i c k . She wants t o go. She does not l i k e D i c k . Mary does not l i k e the way Dick k i s s e s the back of Tom's neck. She says Tom i s Dick's suck. D i c k l i k e s Tom. He wants to h e l p Tom get ahead. But Dick does not l i k e Mary. He does not l i k e the way she 169 t a l k s . He does not l i k e the way she d r e s s e s . He t h i n k s Tom should get r i d of Mary. He says Mary i s a s l u t . He buys and s e l l s s l u t s every day of the week. Tom says D i c k i s a bu s i n e s s g e n i u s . He i s a wealthy and s u c c e s s f u l man. He s e l l s p o p s i c l e s to c h i l d r e n . He s e l l s p r o p h y l a c t i c s t o a d u l t s . He i s v e r y s u c c e s s f u l indeed I Tom says D i c k has.a c l e v e r p l a n t o expand h i s market. He i s going t o s e l l p o p s i c l e s to a d u l t s and p r o p h y l a c t i c s to c h i l d r e n . He i s ve r y c l e v e r . Don't you t h i n k he i s c l e v e r ? Fred suspected t h a t t h i s was not what the employer was l o o k i n g f o r , so he began a g a i n and f i l l e d out the sentence, "Women should remain i n the home." He wrote t h a t Tom and Mary were engaged i n a ple a s a n t d i s c u s s i o n over p l a n s f o r t h e i r forthcoming marriage w i t h Tom's c o n s i d e r a t e employer, Mr. Goodmerchant, who was g i v i n g them p r a c t i c a l a d v i c e and who would s e l l them a house w i t h low monthly payments and nominal f i n a n c e charges. Mother thought F r e d d i e c o u l d have done b e t t e r than a f i n a n c e company, wit h h i s q u a l i f i c a t i o n s . She was s a t i s f i e d f o r a time when he o u t l i n e d the c a r e e r t h a t l a y open t o him. l a t e r she asked him when he expected a promotion. She reminded him, d u s t i n g , t h a t A r n o l d was doing b e t t e r . A r n o l d began coming r e g u l a r l y f o r Sunday d i n n e r s . 170 l a r g e r Issues — d e s c e n t : p r e p a r a t i o n So, on a w i n t e r evening, and a c c o r d i n g to the promise they had made, Mr. C a l l took h i s t r u e sweeting, Rena, f o r t h e i r F r i d a y v i s i t t o P r o f e s s o r Percy L e i g h t o n ' s p l a c e . Percy r e c e i v e d them w e l l , l e d them i n t o h i s comfortable den, where he served a v e r y f i n e brand of s c o t c h . And a f t e r they had a l l had t h r e e t a l l d r i n k s but Jack, f o r Jack had f o u r , t h e i r g l a s s e s b e i n g f r e s h l y f i l l e d , Percy u n v e i l e d h i s new p r o j e c t o r , an e x c e l l e n t machine, and took some f i l m s , of the stag k i n d , out of h i s c o l l e c t i o n . He chose a s u i t a b l e r e c o r d i n g f o r background atmosphere, got the r e e l on, and dimmed the l i g h t s . The g i r l was nude i n knee deep water. She played with a beach b a l l and f r o l i c k e d i n p r o t e c t i v e spray t h a t the wind caught up and wheedled on h e r t h i g h s , c a j o l e r y , t u g g i n g a t h e r h a i r , u n t i l she was induced t o s p o r t and t o s s e d the b a l l up l i g h t l y . The wind made use of i t s chance, chucked the b a l l up, and f l u n g i t away. The nymph was l e f t c l i n g i n g t o cover h e r s e l f and f i n a l l y turned h e r back and bending, looked between h e r l e g s at the camera. D i s c o v e r i n g i t was s t i l l on h e r she dove, but couldn't get h e r rump down. I t floundered through the water l i k e dead b l o w f i s h , b e l l y - u p . "That one i s n ' t too good," Percy s a i d . "I've seen s p i c i e r ones," Jack admitted. "Have anything e l s e ? " "Let's see." Helga turned the l i g h t s on. " T e l l me Jack, what do f i l m s 171 l i k e t h a t make you t h i n k o f ? " "They don't make me t h i n k , i n p a r t i c u l a r . " "I mean, do they make you t h i n k of screwing?" "Yes, t h a t comes to mind." "What a qu e s t i o n t o ask a guest, HelgaI" She laughed. "Why? I t ' s t r u e , i s n ' t i t ? Does i t make you want t o screw the g i r l i n t h e movie? Would'she be a good f u c k ? " "For Heavens' sake, watch your language!" "That's a l l r i g h t , P ercy." "No i t i s n ' t . She's had too much to d r i n k . " "I have n o t . " "Anyway, t h a t f i l m wasn't so s u g g e s t i v e . I've seen some i t would have been f a n t a s t i c to take part i n . " "My husband's an o l d phoney, you know. I mustn't say ' f u c k 1 . ' F o r n i c a t e ' i f you p l e a s e . " "I p l e a s e , " s a i d J a c k . She t i t t e r e d . " I ' l l bet you do. I ' l l bet Jack's not an o l d phoney, i s he Rena? There are times when you l i k e me t o say 'fuck', aren't t h e r e , Percy." "Shut up!" — s t e p forward, the good When the guests had gone Helga sat watching h e r husband c l e a n up. "Are we not speaking?" "The q u e s t i o n i s , are we capable of speech?" She drew h e r knees up under h e r on the c h e s t e r f i e l d and 172 b u r i e d h e r head, Percy shook the contents of an ashtray i n t o the f i r e p l a c e , g l a r i n g at her, the tendons t w i t c h i n g i n h i s neck. " A f t e r a l l , we should c u l t i v a t e the common n i c e t i e s of speech. People i n our p o s i t i o n have to observe c e r t a i n p r o p r i -e t i e s . As a t e a c h e r of the young I have c e r t a i n r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . I need a w i f e t h a t , c a n be deemed a l a d y , t h a t people can t r u s t t o i n v i t e t o f o r m a l f u n c t i o n s . I simply won't t o l e r a t e t h a t k i n d of t a l k . " — r e b u t t a l : two Pete M i l l e r was not l a t e f o r d i n n e r on Saturdays. He sat w a i t i n g f o r the meal t o be served, crunching c a r r o t s t i c k s . "How's our d i r t y o l d man to-day, A l b e r t ? " He had kept i t up f o r weeks, and A l b e r t i g n o r e d i t now. "Our A l b e r t ' s a c r a f t y o l d bugger, yu' know A l a n . " M i l l e r winked, and crunched h i s c a r r o t s t i c k . "What yu' got l i n e d up f o r t o n i g h t ? " He put h i s elbows on the t a b l e and s a l t e d a c e l e r y s t a l k . "Did you know he's got something good going w i t h t h a t honey who c l e a n s up around here?" "Who, May?" "Sure." "Don't be c r a z y . " "Whatcha mean? I t e l l ya, he's bangin' h e r on the s l y when we're o f f at campus." "Don't be such a damn f o o l i " A l b e r t rubbed h i s nose. "Hey! What d i d I t e l l you A l a n ! By God! i t was j u s t a shot i n the dark, but i t ' s t r u e . Say, aren't you a l i t t l e o l d f o r h e r , A l b e r t ? " 173 " I f you say so. I f you say so." "Why b r i n g h e r i n t o i t ? " s a i d A l a n . "She's a v i r g i n i f I ever saw one." "Oh sure, yeah." — t a l e of a tub John P a r i s h looked i n t o the furnace mouth, l e a n i n g on, the c o a l s h o v e l . He found i t p l e a s u r a b l e t o wait upon the consuming flame, t o feed the c o a l i n , keeping the house above warm. B i g A l i c e kept a c l e a n c e l l a r . There were no newspapers o r broken b i t s of wood to burn, though he got the chance to burn the papers from the wastebaskets. At home the f u r n a c e ran on o i l . She kept a c l e a n c e l l a r . There was only c o a l t o burn. He l i k e d t o see the b i n running low, to scrape i t c l e a n of c o a l . He l i k e d s h i t t i n g t o o . He was t h i n k i n g a l o t of these t h i n g s . I t was h i s s h i t , h i s mark upon the e a r t h . He had helped t o f e r t i l i z e a l a r g e p a r t of Southern O n t a r i o . He had thrown p l e n t y of t o i l e t paper down the d r a i n , and t o o t h p a s t e tubes, r a z o r b l a d e s , and waste i n t o the garbage t o be taken o f f wherever these t h i n g s go, and to become ag a i n a part of the e a r t h , where d i d they go, t h e s e things?.. And soapsuds he had made—he l i k e d t o run the water f o r a w h i l e a f t e r washing, enough to d i s s o l v e the suds t h a t i t was s a i d were accumulating somewhere. The furnace roared and he returned to s h o v e l l i n g . He c o u l d w r i t e a book about them: The H i s t o r y and S i g n i f i c a n c e of s h i t  and C o a l and Toothpaste Tubes. They were the b i g t h i n g s . Time was f o r o t h e r t h i n g s than c l a y , p i s s , dung and dregs, when o l d hag magic God c o u l d t u r n the t r i c k between a l t e r n a t i v e s 174 i m p o s s i b l e to choose, by b u i l d i n g , as might be h i s Ambition, P u l p i t s , l a d d e r s , S t a g e - I t i n e r a n t s , and such l i k e e d i f i c e s , c o n s t r u c t e d i n the a i r , so t o be heard above the q u e s t i o n of grim u g l y and i g n o r a n t f i d e l i t y - d e v o u t or s u r p a s s i n g beauty of torment and j e a l o u s y i n c a r n a t e . Time was f o r Apology, P o s t s c r i p t , d e d i c a t i o n , comment, DEDICATORY, P r e f a c e , and extended I n t r o -d u c t i o n t h a t delayed the r e a l matter l o n g enough t h a t man might s l i p out of i t a l t o g e t h e r through p r a i s e of a D i g r e s s i o n and a s t r o n g C o n c l u s i o n so b e f u d d l i n g t h a t t h e r e was n o t h i n g but to say t h a t they s h a l l s e r v e , and found t h a t t h a t d i d indeed t u r n the t r i c k f o r they had devoutness and they had beauty t o o . That was b e f o r e some simple f o o l weighted the s c a l e i n f a v o u r of the b e a u t i f u l , c a l l i n g i t t r u t h , so t h a t they must choose young, b r i g h t beauty f i c k l e b u l l o c k ' s g a l l , a r s e n i c , brimstone and s a l ammoniac. And so i t was t h a t t h e y were a l l devourers. They were a l l r a v i s h e r s , s e r v i n g none the l e s s , though with b r a i n s so addled by moonwort, v a l e r i a n , and agrimony i n t o s p i t e f u l wretches t h a t they c o u l d not serve as they had done, the f r e s h . and cheeky r e d , g r a n t i n g s u p e r i o r i t y , to so become s u p e r i o r . And they were l e f t with l o n g as they l i v e t h e y ' l l never pay laden leaden b l e a r y wise lo o k s i n an e f f o r t t o transmute to communion w i t h the pure and s l i p p e r y , s t r i p p e d and b a r e . God! a l l was s a l t and paper, f a t l a d y , sheets of g l a s s and i r o n f i l i n g s ; attempts to sublimate, amalgamate, c a l c i n a t e , i n c o r p o r a t e the r u b e f a c t i o n , a l b e f a c t i o n , f e r m e n t a t i o n , c o a g u l a t i o n p r e p a r a t i o n , j u g g l i n g g r a i n by g r a i n the borax, v e r d i g r i s , l e a d p r o t o x i d e and q u i c k s i l v e r i n c r u c i b l e s , p h i a l s , beakers, g o u r d - r e t o r t s . H e l l , i t was a l l a l k a l i and t a r t a r , c l a y mixed wi t h h a i r , voo-doo and 175 nonsense, mouldy mystic numbers, f o u r and seven, w i t h g o l d f o r sun and s i l v e r f o r the moon, i r o n f o r Mars of war, l i v e l y Mercury, Saturn' l e a d , t i n J u p i t e r and copper Venus, what were they, metal mongers'. Why should she r e i g n ? f a t mom. Dominion! She c o u l d have i t . 176 The Man There*d Be —more c r a f t y doings I t snowed agai n t h a t - n i g h t as he l e f t A l i c e ' s house f o r home. The f l a k e s f e l l heavy, as s t r a i g h t as the s h o r t e s t d i s t a n c e between two p o i n t s , and he thought t h a t i t i s not an easy t h i n g to l e a r n , though v a i n , t h i s f u t i l e t r a n s m u t a t i o n , t h i s E l i x i r , r e v e a l i n g only t h a t the search must be f o r e v e r , t h a t i t never w i l l be won, t h i s golden, f u t u r e . t h a t squanders present l o v e and taxes hope. No s t o p p i n g u n t i l t h e r e was n o t h i n g l e f t , which never would be, n o t h i n g l e f t , a r o t t e n end. Meanwhile, s o u l s were shabby, threadbare, l i f e a whisper. Death f o r l e a r n i n g - p r e t e n s e ; o l d rags f o r new. Death f o r your tempered metal t h e s i s worker b l u n d e r exploding so i t s p l i t t h e i r v e r y w a l l s , s c a t t e r up and jump. God, i t was nervous! "Bellows, anyone?" "More s t u f f ! " " P o o l ! " "Shut up and l i s t e n to me!" "Say, what went wrong?" "There's n o t h i n g more to do." "Don't be alarmed." "Just as always." "Pluck up!" "Gather up the muck." "Nothing ventured, n o t h i n g gained." " B e l i e v e you me." "Calm y o u r s e l f . " 177 "Next time... " "Take the blame... " Something went wrong with your wished, r a v i n g , a r g u i n g i l l u s i o n , wise as Solomon. Can't eat ' em,..-Midas. "The w i s e s t one w i l l prove the b i g g e s t f o o l . " Oh c l e v e r cunning s c i e n c e t h a t e a s i l y could f l a t t e n Rome, Nineveh, and New York t o o , both past and present, w r i g g l i n g , windy, s c u t t l i n g s c i e n c e , r o t a t i n g d i z z y , c ozening, t a i n t e d s c i e n c e . L i s t e n b a s t a r d s ' L i s t e n a l l about i t . He'd rouse them, s l a n d e r i n g t h e i r houses. " P e r i s h the thought!" Yes you! a p o s t l e s , t r a i t o r s , a l l ! I n apple f e l l , as Blake s a i d , on a noggin, h i t t i n g t h e n a i l on the head, and b e i n g out of pocket money, they advanced him c r e d i b i l i t y , which as he f i r s t repayed, t h e y . f e l t he might be t r u s t e d f u r t h e r l i b e r t i e s , and, i n a word, they were suckered i n . They judged him honest, s i n c e he t o l d them so h i m s e l f , and s a i d he would repay t h e i r c h a r i t y with simple m i r a c l e s , l i k e e l e c t r i c can-openers and machines t h a t would d i g d i t c h e s . Who wanted h i s s t i n k i n g s e r v i c e ? H i s cannons shot.up more than c e r e a l , more l i k e god-damned f r a u d and g u i l e , f i e n d i s h l y seducing a l l the weight from o f f the s i d e of 'they s h a l l serve' to t h e i r d e s t r u c -t i o n . T h e i r p r i e s t ! He was t h e i r God-abandoned, b l i n d and bloody p r i e s t of a v a r i c e and no escape from c o n f u s i o n and anathema. Cozened i n t o a c c e p t i n g c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . Do t h i s and t h i s s h a l l be, and yet i t was n o t . I t s h a l l be done at once, s e r v a n t l y d i d 178 b i d d i n g , brought, c o a l and scuttle's f u l l of bosom to a p r i e s t who never heard of s o u l , who bred only open your hand, your purse, use your a p p l i a n c e . T h e i r f l e s h was worn raw t o the nerve ends, and they walked b l e e d i n g through the words 'You're doing i t a l l wrong'j i n t o the c r u c i b l e , s u s c e p t i b l e and handled by s l e i g h t - o f -hand t h a t s a l t s the f i r e , d e s i r e , the mine, w i t h nuggets of steam-engine and: " I t w i l l a l l t u r n out f o r the b e s t . " And who c o u l d say, so e a s i l y hoodwinked s i n c e he kept a l l the doors l o c k e d and pocketed the keys. "Put down your hand i n flame, my f a i t h f u l . You w i l l f i n d s i l v e r t h e r e . " s a l t e d s i l v e r . The mystery, he s a i d , of. mathe-m a t i c s , and the p a t t e r n , when he worked i t out beforehand i n accordance, so t h a t i t c o u l d not but s u i t . They, greedy, were e c s t a t i c , t h r i l l e d at b e i n g g u l l e d , went h u f f i n g , p u f f i n g , s t o o p i n g , blowing, overjoyed and c a r o l l i n g at being so commanded, hoping, r e a c h i n g , a l t o g e t h e r hoaxed. "We'll buy, w e ' l l take i t ! " "The p r i c e i s dear." "We'll take i t . What's the c o s t ? " "The c o s t i s n u c l e a r h o l o c a u s t . " f o r i n s t a n c e . "We'll take i t . " " Well, s i n c e you've been so k i n d i n t r u s t i n g me, I ' l l s e l l , but you must t e l l no one, which might arouse envy." So they went woolly minded, a l t o g e t h e r mad,.staring, b l u n d e r i n g , c h a t t e r i n g , i g n o r a n t worms, away. Better, f a r , w i t h o u t . 179 — w o r d s In h i s c o r n e r of the c e l l a r , s t i l l with h i s coat on, John found a p e n c i l , and he wrote: T h i s i s my word to the p r o f e s s i o n a l men, s c r a t c h i n g t h e i r heads and t h e i r asses, t o the wolves and the j a c k a l s , my word to the lawyers, the judges, the m a g i s t r a t e s and b a r r i s t e r s and the s o l i c i t o r s who dawdle i n fees i n exchange f o r men's l i v e s and freedom, t o the lawyers of no wit and much s l o t h who lounge away days, the days and the weeks and the months of t h e i r c l i e n t s , f o r whom every moment i s . a n g u i s h , t o the c h e a t i n g , embezzling, i g n o r a n t lawyers; my word to the doctors of medicine who t r a d e and d e a l i n the pounds of the f l e s h of men, t o the medical men, who bungle and mutter, who fumble and hum, my word to the doctors and lawyers who have ousted the hangman; t h i s i s my word to the t e a c h e r s , the p r o f e s s o r s , the educators, my word t o the dodo and o s t r i c h , to the teach e r s without h a l f a c l u e , the uneducated, empty-headed teach e r s who dwe l l i n the l a n d of nod, who teach from naught e l s e t o do, who s t r a n g l e the v i t a l i t y and c a s t r a t e the c r e a t i v i t y of the young; t h i s i s my word to the s c i e n t i s t s who have ousted the f i e n d , the s c i e n t i s t s and the engineers and the a r c h i -t e c t s , my word t o the armies of a n t s , my word t o the s h o r t - s i g h t e d who have never heard of the s o u l , the makers of the bomb, and the box, of d e s t r u c t i o n and con-f o r m i t y , of the s t u p i d and f u n c t i o n l e s s l i e s c a l l e d machines, of wretchedness and enslavement; t h i s i s my word t o . t h e s l u g s , the s l u g s and the s n a i l s , my word to the b l i n d , t o the b u i l d e r s , t o the p o l i t i c i a n s , the m i n i s t e r s of r e l i g i o n , the l e a d e r s of men, my word to the b l i n d and the c r i p p l e d , the m e n t a l l y i n f e r i o r , the n a i v e and the m i s l e d — t h i s i s a l s o my word to the exe c u t i v e s and the employers, t o the bus i n e s s men and the bankers, t o . t h e shark and the p i r a n h a , and t o t h e i r henchmen, the c r o c o d i l e and the python, and a l l t h i n g s slimy and c o l d blooded, a l l t h i n g s t h i c k skinned and v o r a c i o u s , and t o t h e i r henchmen, the ad-men and the P.R. men, the p i t c h -men.and the salesman, the promoter and the agent, the p u t r i f i e r s of v a l u e and the c r e a t o r s of a l l the sic:k n o t i o n s of sex and of j u s t i c e , of good and of b a d ; . i t i s my word to the workers, the c a r p e n t e r s and the plumbers, the s t e e l r i g g e r s and the e l e c t r i c i a n s , the senseless and doddering, the devouring, t o a l l who belong to unions, the unions of f o r c e and power, of murder and a v a r i c e and l u s t ; to a l l of them, to every one, and l a s t l y t h i s i s my word to the f o l l o w e r s , to the common man, the average man, the middle c l a s s man, the sheep and the toads, the man who i s common, who has gi v e n h i s heart as down payment on a power mower, the worshipper of the golden c a l f , my word to the b e s t i a l man, the 180 b r u t a l , b a r b a r i c man, the mindless man, f a l s e and d e c r e p i t ; t h i s i s my word, my word t o the dead, t o the b u r i e r s of the dead, my word t o you a l l , my chaste, chosen word, my apt word, my word i s 'MJCK-OFF!1 And f o r the bums and the vagrants t h i s i s my word; t h i s i s my word t o the tramps and the t h i e v e s and the robbers, my word t o the pu r s e - s n a t c h e r s , p i c k p o c k e t s , con-men and muggers, hoods, punks and v a n d a l s , r a c k e t e e r s and murderers; t h i s i s my word t o the l e s b i a n s and the queers, the pimps and the whores, my word t o you, the drunk and the a d d i c t e d , the beat and the depraved, f o r you are the prophets; t h i s i s my word t o the shepherds, t o the poverty s t r i c k e n ; t h i s i s my word, t h a t yours i s the beauty, not of p u t r i d l i f e , but yours i s the beauty of death, t h a t you are the meek and the humble, you are the pure and the r i g h t e o u s ; you, the c h a s t i s e d , are t h e . c l e a n l y ; you, the u n f o r g i v e n , are the d i v i n e ; you, the untouchable, are the hope, the s a i n t s of the world, the i n h e r i t o r s of the ea r t h ; go i n t o i t , take what you w i l l , s e i z e and d e s t r o y , f o r you are the scourge of the e a r t h , l o o t and r i o t , f o r you are the purge of the e a r t h , whip! l o o t l r i o t ! rape! and r a p i n e ! i n the temple of God! John put down the p e n c i l . He l i t a c i g a r e t t e b u t t , unbuttoned h i s coat and leaned back.. A s i c k l e was on the w a l l . O u t s i d e , t h e r e were cement b l o c k s t h a t . c o u l d be sl u n g , from the handle and from the h o l e i n the blade by which the s i c k l e was hung on a n a i l . With some odd lumber a frame c o u l d be made... i t would work. 181 Of C a r o l l i n g —mum at t a b l e : more Hugh came home w i t h C l a r k e from a movie. C l a r k e had been, a l l f o r movies l a t e l y , and f o r T.V., b i l l i a r d s , p i n - b a l l , though s i n c e October he hadn't seen Charmaine. He had decided t o g i v e up h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n , f o r the time b e i n g , and had packed h i s notes away. I t was a v e r y formal a f f a i r , l i k e a wake, ashes to ashes. He put the box i n a dingy c o r n e r of the a t t i c , b e f i t t i n g , he had s a i d , i t s c o n t e n t s . They h e l d a l i t t l e s e r v i c e , and went out t h a t n i g h t t o c e l e b r a t e the b u r i a l of h i s b r a i n - c h i l d . He went up t o the a t t i c , though, the next day, t o r e t r i e v e h i s o u t l i n e and the l a s t few pages, i n case he might o c c a s i o n a l l y have some-t h i n g to j o t down. They came t o the B l a c k f r i a r s ' B r i d g e , over the Thames. "Say, remember l a s t year, with C h a r l i e ? " "With C h a r l i e and M i l l e r . Sure. The n i g h t we climbed t h e t r e l l i s . " Hugh remembered. "I'm going t o climb i t . Coming?" He hadn't climbed i t the year b e f o r e . "Aw grumm—it takes an hour." " I t ' s got t o be done." "What k i n d of shoes you wearing? Desert b o o t s , eh. You stand a chance. I ' l l w a i t . " Hugh waited at the c e n t e r of the span, watching the r i v e r . Prom h i s p o s i t i o n he c o u l d l o o k up and see how C l a r k e was doing, and they wouldn't be i n one another's way. They had been good f r i e n d s b e f o r e and now t h e r e was t h i s 182 opening of doors and "Go ahead," "No, you go f i r s t , " and "That's q u i t e a l l r i g h t . No, r e a l l y , t h a t ' s a l l r i g h t . " C l a r k e was clumsy i n g e t t i n g up, but he made i t . Once you got along the l e v e l s e c t i o n , g e t t i n g down was easy. — b o u n t y bush unburnt The next morning Hugh went t o v i s i t Charmaine. "Hugh Simon!" she squealed at the door, and brought him i n . "Por c r y i n g i n the beer Hughie, what's wrong? Why haven't you been over?" She tugged him toward the c h e s t e r f i e l d but he fought i t out f o r an armchair, p u r e l y f o r the sake of the s t u g g l e . "Hughie, t h e r e ' s something wrong." "Numph.,r "Honestly now, are you angry w i t h me?" " G r i z z l e , ouch!" he s a i d . "No." "Yes. You're not as easy as you should be." " I t ' s not so, Porgy. I'm busy doing l o t s of n o t h i n g . Other t h i n g s i s a l l . Maybe i t ' s because of y o u — y o u know, your 'hard gem-like flame' b i t . I have t h a t when I do' t h i n g s , and maybe i t ' s because of you. I don't come t o see you, but I t h i n k of you." "You mean i t ? " "Oh rumps. That's why, see. I don't l i k e t o say i t i s a l l . I t sounds phoney. That's why I don't come t o o . " He f i n g e r e d some p o t t e r y . "Maybe i t ' s phoney when I come. I t ' s what I f e e l i n s i d e t h a t counts, and t h a t ' s t h e r e whether I'm here or n o t . See, phoney." She sat on h i s l a p . 183 "Ninny. You're s a y i n g the r e a l i t y doesn't l i v e up to your i m p r e s s i o n of me." " I t doesn't. You won't make l o v e t o me." "Maybe now, I would." "Za-goom! Don't t e a s e . " "Let's go f o r a walk." She stood up. "What the h e l l ! " He p u l l e d h e r to h i s l a p a g a i n . "Char-maine, you are my mother-maid, my w h o r e - v i r g i n - d e i t y . Making l o v e t o you i s i n c e s t , m a r i t a l sex, and rape, l i k e t a k i n g on a l l womankind at once." He took her t o the sofa and they were w i t h one another, b o u n t i f u l and r e v e r e n t , the f l e s h , word, the word, pr a y e r , not needing to be spoken. She was, he thought, a flame of l u s t and l o v e t h a t never c o u l d be quenched because i t was not s p e c i f i c . He thought he was a c h i l d without need of a word, b e i n g t h a t the f l e s h was word and the word pr a y e r and a l l . , . — t h e crow became b l a c k . Afterwards they went f o r a walk. The snow had stopped and i t l a y even. She mentioned C l a r k e , t h a t he had been a v o i d i n g h e r , and hoped h i s reason was the same as Hugh's. Hugh s a i d he'd t e l l C l a r k e she'd l i k e t o see him. They went through the park,.past the band s h e l l . The t r e e s had h e l d the snow. "Say. Do you know John P a r i s h ? " "John P a r i s h ? Oh, yep. I've met. him." "This i s h i s p l a c e . L e t ' s go i n and see him." He l e d h e r . "I haven't seen him i n a l o n g time. T h i s i s my day f o r renewing 184 a c q u a i n t a n c e s . No use knocking. The o l d man. who owns the p l a c e never opens the door.. I ' l l i n t r o d u c e you t o Prank M i d d i e . He must he i n , the l i g h t ' s on." He c a l l e d , "Hey, M i d d i e . " Prank appeared at the top of the s t a i r c a s e , l o o k i n g down over h i s p i p e . "What i s i t ? H e l l o , i t ' s Hugh." He descended. "Charmaine C h r i s t e n s o n , t h i s i s Prank M i d d i e . Charmaine, got t h a t ? Prank, got t h a t ? Good, enough." "How do you do Charmaine? I t must be c h i l l y out. I t ' s g i v e n your cheeks a l o v e l y bloom." "That's from Hugh's rough beard." "Oh?" "Oh... ha. No, I shaved t h i s a f t e r n o o n . Anyway, i s Johnnie h e r e ? " "Who knows." "Let's go down and see. H e l l , I haven't seen him i n a l o n g time." P a r i s h was behind the f u r n a c e , l a s h i n g two c o n c r e t e b l o c k s t o g e t h e r w i t h s t r o n g c o r d . "Whatcha doing Johnnie?" P a r i s h wore an enormous woollen s c a r f wound round h i s t h r o a t . The s c a r f dangled and had become caught i n the b l o c k s so t h a t when he looked up h i s neck was g i v e n a v i o l e n t j e r k . He g r i p p e d the s c a r f and yanked i t f r e e , l e a v i n g strands between the b l o c k s . " I t ' s Hugh, eh?" "Long time no see." "And Charmaine," he c o n t i n u e d , k n e e l i n g to f i n i s h the t y i n g of the c o r d . 185 "You remember my name." "Sure." He had f i n i s h e d and he h e f t e d the b l o c k s , f e l t t h e i r weight, and l e t them drop. • "Hey, you j u s t missed c r u s h i n g your t o e . What are you doing?" "Tying these b l o c k s t o g e t h e r . " "What f o r ? " "See t h a t wood." "Yes." "Going to make something." "What?" Charmaine asked. " I ' l l t e l l you what I ' l l do. When i t ' s done I ' l l make a p o i n t of i n v i t i n g you a l l over t o see i t work.*' "Oh goodie," Charmaine k i d d e d . "You promise, now." John nodded s e v e r e l y . "I promise. Why d i d you come, anyway?" "Well, geeze. What's i t with you? We came over to see you." "Never mind him Hugh," Prank turned on another l i g h t , "He's moody." "How about coming out with us? The snow's made a marsh-mallow world out t h e r e . You should see i t . Maybe we c o u l d go t o the o l d arena, l i k e we used t o , and h u s t l e a l l those square t y p i s t s and telephone, o p e r a t o r s . " "Can't go. I'm busy w i t h t h i s now. I t ' s something, I'm t e l l i n g you. R e a l l y i n t r i c a t e . Ingenious t o o , l i k e the l a b y -r i n t h , and f i n d i n g your way out w i t h a b a l l of s t r i n g . God! w i l l you be s u r p r i s e d ! " "What i s i t ? " 186 " Y o u ' l l see." "There's no use coaxing him Hugh." "By the way, are you s t i l l w r i t i n g ? He w r i t e s some 'great s t u f f , Charmaine. Read us something, w i l l you? C'mon." "Ho. I'm busy." "C'mon, read something." "I s a i d no. I've got t o get t h i s done. I t ' s f o r you. Y o u ' l l see, but go and l e t me get on wit h i t . " "What... " "G-oi" John s a i d , and as they were l e a v i n g , added, " I ' l l c a l l t o t e l l you the exact time to come. Come t o g e t h e r . I f anyone a r r i v e s e a r l y , wait f o r the o t h e r s . I ' l l . w a n t you a l l t o come i n t o g e t h e r . " ... H i s master was a b i r d , encaged i n golden d e v o t i o n , a great white crow, an odd a l b i n o . H i s master was a white crow of s u p e r n a t u r a l power; k n e e l , f o r he c o u l d speak, f o r he could t e l l the s e c r e t s of the u n i v e r s e , s i n g i n g c a n t i c l e s of p r o o f , of proof t o s a n c t i o n s a c r i f i c e of t h i n g s beloved, the hu n t i n g down and s l a u g h t e r of t h i n g s dear, u n t i l i n awful i s o l -a t i o n i t was re v e a l e d as j u s t a crow, a b l a c k and l y i n g t r a i t o r -b i r d , scorpion-tongued mimic c r y i n g 'Cuckoo! Ha-ha!' In h o r r i d d e p r i v a t i o n and t o o - l a t e n e s s i t was seen a b l a c k and c r a c k -v o i c e d u g l y b a s t a r d b i r d upon a p e d e s t a l b u i l t t o g i v e i l l u s i o n of f l i g h t , t o mock down at the, s o l a c e of ignora n c e . He'd s l a i n e v e r y t h i n g , but th e r e was l e f t the cursed b i r d i t s e l f t o s a c r i f i c e . He'd pluck i t s f e a t h e r s , wring i t s bloody neck. 187 — i n d u l g e n c e and forbearance At the arena, Hugh got separated from Charmaine and Frank. They had l e f t the f l o o r and gone i n t o the b l e a c h e r s . "I've been wanting t o meet you f o r some time." Frank began. "Me. t o o , I've wanted t o meet you t o o . " "I'm s e r i o u s . " "So am I . " " l i s t e n , " he removed h i s p i p e , "I don't i n t e n d t o p l a y games. I'm s t r o n g l y a t t r a c t e d t o you. That's a l l I can say without knowing you, but I'd l i k e the o p p o r t u n i t y of e x p l o r i n g the p o s s i b i l i t y of marriage. That's my p r o p o s i t i o n , take i t or l e a v e i t . " "The one or the o t h e r . No a l t e r n a t i v e s ? " "What a l t e r n a t i v e s c o u l d t h e r e be?" "I'm not l i k e t h a t . " "You've decided then?" . . • "Huh?" "I want an answer. Do you accept my p r o p o s a l or not? I f you're going t o b e g i n d e s c r i b i n g y o u r s e l f t o me I must assume you have accepted my suggestion that we c o n s i d e r one another f o r marriage. Otherwise, I expect you to send me on my way." "Marriage!" "Yes." "Hoool As Hughie would say. H e l l s - b e l l s , I haven't c o n s i d e r e d m a r r i a g e — n o t s i n c e y e a r s . " "I see. You've chosen a c a r e e r . " 188 "No. I j u s t haven't c o n s i d e r e d i t . " "I suggest t h a t you do." "Boyzo-boysi you're a weirdo." She f e l t h i s forehead f o r s i g n s of f e v e r . "I'd b e t t e r set you s t r a i g h t . I'm a nun." "A nun!" "Yes, I'm m a r r i e d . " " Y o u ' l l have t o i n t e r p r e t t h a t . " "I'm a l r e a d y m a r r i e d . As a nun i s devoted t o C h r i s t , I am t o l o v e . See." "Not at a l l . " "Then l i s t e n . " She spoke as though r e c i t i n g m u l t i p l i c a t i o n t a b l e s . "When a woman takes a husband, or a man a w i f e , at l e a s t i d e a l l y , they mutually accept a s o v e r e i g n t y , a k i n d of s o v e r e i g n t y , each over the other, and the s u p e r i o r p a r t n e r never e x e r c i s e s t h a t a u t h o r i t y , but never f a i l s t o r e c o g n i z e the l i m i t a t i o n s i t i n v o l v e s , i n regard t o her own a c t i o n s . That p a r t n e r i s s u p e r i o r because she r e a l i z e s more complete f u l f i l m e n t d e r i v e s f r o m . g i v i n g than from t a k i n g . Now, t h e r e i s a d i f f i c u l t y , and i t i s t h i s , t h a t such an arrangement l i m i t s the l u x u r y of g i v i n g to one person o n l y , which i s more d i f f i c u l t . . . " "Woman! What nonsense i s t h i s ! " "Boys-oh-boys. Boyzo, boyzo, boyzo. I can't get through t o you, can I ? " "That, I w i l l grant you. I c o n s i d e r t h a t i t - i s only through s u p e r l a t i v e e f f o r t on my part t h a t I d i s c e r n e i t h e r , t h a t you are i n c a p a b l e of l o v e , o r, t h a t you wish t o be l o v e ' s door-mat." " I f you wish. Love's door-mat." 189 "That seems an adolescent attitude., but i t ' s readily-understood and e a s i l y overcome." "You are a problem! Where's Hugh? I need him." — g h e t t o Hugh was walking home. H i s mother maiden placed a p e a r l i n on h i s tongue t h a t h i s l i p s were uncrusted and he c o u l d s i n g , even w i t h h i s t h r o a t parched with wandering through the damned dead sea ghetto of ravens perched on s t a r k s u r r e a l i s t i c shrubs, g l a s s - e y e i n g h i s passage l i k e I n d ians or w h o i s i t puts a stone i n t o t h e i r mouths t o keep i t moist, but t h i s a p e a r l formed of the agony of g r a n u l a r i r r i t a t i o n i n the g u t s . . . lump-throated, v o i c e l e s s , they had both sung, l i p p e d w i t h the self-same p e a r l h e a r t t h a t d a z z l e s on the b u r n i n g sand, dashes, s h a t t e r s a l l ghetto l i n e d p e r i m e t e r s . . . cut out the square around h i s h e a r t where the f l e s h must be cut out as i n t e r e s t on a loaned i d e a . By H o l y i s s i m o , t h e r e were some tunes t h a t would not be contained.... — t h e topaz flawed or caged perhaps, but C h r i s t they flew, they f l e d , they s l i p p e d away, C h r i s t , when C h r i s t threw the door wide, r e v e a l i n g Hugh i n nakedness, away l i k e drops through a p a i l ' s r u s t - p i t h o l e s , l i k e u n i v e r s a l s o l v e n t would, suppose, d i s s o l v e a l l j a r s , t h a t i t ! b e s p e c t a c l e d g r i m - r i g g e r s they were s e a r c h i n g f a r but i n v e r s e l y , t h u s l y wrong... i t was the u n i v e r s a l pot they wanted, 190 the egg of the p h i l o s o p h e r to chuck t h e i r p e a r l s i n t o , wouldn't do at a l l . , f o r C h r i s t comes a t i g e r from the dark of c r o s s with hammer.:fisted smash Hugh sang v of C h r i s t o l d babe yes, pagan, he might s i n g C h r i s t smash came to crush a l l cages s t a r t from t h e r e , a u n i v e r s a l s o l v e n t was what they needed and would get Hoi i f they had impaled a l l h i s p e a r l s on n e c k l a c e s , imprisoned a l l h i s t h r o e s i n c u b i c l e s of a l g e b r a and l o g i c t h r e a d s W e l l , l e t them t h e r e was no d i f f e r e n c e s e e l a s o l v e n t got at a l l the l o t at once by Zingo! i t was pure immediacy and a l l of them at once no d i f f e r e n c e then i t was t r u e t h a t sun and s p r i n g t i m e was enough not o r g a n i z e d , you d i n k ! Homogenized! a l l i n t o one NOW, here and t h e r e , gone-coming, over space and time, the whole dang human race and a l l d i s s o l v e d i n a s o l u t i o n But of What? A gooey Bog? an ooze of l o s t i d e n t i t y wouldn't do. Hugh was not God. No. No, woe b e t i d e the day. Too much r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . What was to be done then, w i t h the dinky b i t s , i f they were not enough? 191 December F i r s t —mum at t a b l e : . s t i l l C l a r k e c a l l e d t o Charmaine i n the c a f e t e r i a h a l l . She t u r n e d , h e r quick way, th a t made h e r h a i r jounce. "Hi C l a r k e . Are you having lunch?" "No thank you," C l a r k e s a i d . "Oh, I wasn't going t o pay f o r i t . " "Of course n o t . I only thought I'd say h e l l o . Hugh spoke t o me." "That's r i g h t . I asked him t o , d i d n ' t I . " "I'm not a v o i d i n g you." " F i n e . Then t h a t ' s a l l r i g h t then." "Yes. Wait, perhaps I ' l l have a c o f f e e . " When they had found a t a b l e he s a i d : "I wasn't a v o i d i n g you. People discom-f o r t me. The t r u t h i s , I suppose, t h a t I don't care enough t o be put through the d i s c o m f o r t . " "Another onel I'm running i n t o so many problem cases these days." "I r e s e n t t h a t . I simply want t o be l e f t t o myself." "I t h i n k I can understand. I haven't the energy t o be making c o n v e r t s to-day. I'm t i r e d . Famished t o o l " She b i t l a r g e l y at her sandwich.' "I was so clumsy w i t h you th a t n i g h t . " "Were you?" "Yes. And i t would have been much worse i f I'd gone f u r t h e r , because...' i t ' s what made me t h i n k a f t e r w a r d s . I'm not at a l l sure I wanted t o go f u r t h e r . I even blamed i t on you." 192 "Maybe you s h o u l d . " "No. The p o i n t i s t h a t i t ' s no good f o r me. I don't f u n c t i o n t h a t way." "My goodness! How do you f u n c t i o n ? " "I don't know how," he ignored h e r . " I f I ever get m a r r i e d , i t w i l l have to be the woman who does the c o u r t i n g . I t h i n k I want to devote myself to some ki n d of work. I f I'm good at anything e l s e , i t ' s not b e i n g the l i f e of the p a r t y . " "Let's f o r g e t i t . " "Yes. I want t o . " At home, he browsed through the help-wanted ads. There was n o t h i n g . — t o u rnament: three Fred helped C h a r l i e c a r r y down the drums, i n t h e i r mackintoshes, to the c a r . C h a r l i e drove away ;between a b a s s - v i o l and a trombone case. Going o f f t o p l a y . An odd way t o make m o n e y — p l a y i n g . Of course, ' p l a y i n g ' might be m i s l e a d i n g . 'To e n t e r t a i n ' seemed more a c c u r a t e . An e n t e r t a i n e r . An e n t e r t a i n e r i n h i s f a m i l y . I f he'd been an e n t e r t a i n e r , what would i t have been? Probably an a t h l e t e . A t h l e t e s , though,, w e r e n ' t . c l a s s i f i e d as e n t e r t a i n e r s . W r e s t l i n g c o u l d be. That was f i t t i n g . I f he'd been an e n t e r t a i n e r i t would have been a w r e s t l e r . That would be something f o r the Knight f a m i l y . A naked w r e s t l e r g l i s t e n i n g w i t h o i l . S e c u r i n g A r n o l d i n an arm-lock. Arm-wrestling at the d i n n e r t a b l e . Everyone i g n o r i n g i t , of course, as i f the arms were detached, o f f by themselves. "Pass the s a l t p l e a s e , Amy," 193 and p a s s i n g i t , A r n o l d g a i n s the advantage, f o r c i n g Fred's arm down, f i s t - h i g h from the t a b l e c l o t h . "Thank you. And the pepper." He r e c o v e r s , and attempts t o unseat A r n o l d with a s c i s s o r h o l d underneath the t a b l e . A rnold eludes him. "This c a u l i f l o w e r * " says A r n o l d , a c q u i r i n g a headlock on him, and d i g g i n g i n h i s knuckles, " i s good, Mother." Locks, judo-chops, and r o c k i n g , r o c k i n g t h e i r hobby horses i n s a n e l y on, s t i r r i n g up the dust. "We must move soon," the Mother s a i d . D a i l y t h i s was Fred's s a c r i f i c e t o win the fa v o u r of the scented g l o v e , h i s i d o l . .Daily, because the Mother worshipped dust and prayed f o r peace and t r a n q u i l i t y t h a t i t might s e t t l e . And A r n o l d ' s a d u l a t i o n d a i l y went t o the gold and s i l v e r s t a r s of g l o r y i n neat columns on the b u l l e t i n board. H i s s t a r s showed promise of outnumbering. The dust then l a y so deep i t might soon have been compacted i n t o s o i l . Her glo v e had worn and was l o o s e and through i n a t t e n t i o n might f a l l i n d i s c r i m i n a t e l y . — t h e l e a p f o r the v i n e Rena had come alone and l e t him know t h a t she was watching him w i t h mink eyebrows. Her eyes were redder than h e r h a i r . She was p a r t l y hidden behind the p l a s t e r p i g next h e r c h a i r , but she r e s t e d one arm and a b r e a s t on i t ; She clapped.' Between numbers the w a i t e r brought a note from her, a s k i n g him t o j o i n her, and d u r i n g the break, he d i d . "I've ordered you a Canadian Club and water, a man's drink.. Do you l i k e i t ? " "Yes, I do." 19k "You'll have to excuse me f o r staring at you, but you play magnificently." "Thanks. Did you hear 'After They've Seen Paris:'1?" "I listened to every number." "I was using a new technique of blending f o r the phrasing. How did i t sound?" "You've l o s t me. I only know I delight i n your playing." "I practice quite a b i t . " "You seem to put so much into i t , yet you're not i n the least t i r e d . Is that showmanship?" She touched h i s cheek. "You're not even flushed.?' His h a i r p r i c k l e d . Then unmannerly and Margery, that f l o c k , flew i n on them, flapping and clacking, perching round his shoulders and fondling h i s h a i r . Rena smiled at them, and kept h i s eye. —blow the man down: part two In the penthouse fa c u l t y lounge Jack C a l l found Leighton i n a group of several of the more i n f l u e n t i a l of the department's professors, and managed to manoeuver him away a moment. "Sorry Percy. I was wanting to.ask i f I might borrow a pornographic volume. Something thoroughly j u i c y . " C a l l picked at a carbuncle at the corner of h i s nose. "Anything i n p a r t i c u l a r ? " "Ho. Could I have i t tomorrow?" "Certainly." He returned to the c i r c l e . 195 — t h e wizard of b r e t o n Sing N o e l ! l u s t y f o r the season i s December t o be j o l l y and the d r i v i n g s l e e t and r a i n had turned the v e g e t a t i o n i n t o i c e , which a l l the b e t t e r was f o r Frank K i d d i e ' s hot-house v i o l e t s . "Flowers!" Charmaine s a i d . " A s t o n i s h i n g ! " s c r u t i n i z i n g them as though she had never seen a f l o w e r i n the hand. She had no f u r s t o p i n them on. For each s o u l i s an i s o l a t e d i s l a n d t h a t we must venture h o s t i l e seas to beach upon. At f i r s t t h e r e may be s h o r t e x c u r s i o n s to draw up f r e s h s u p p l i e s of water, and only a f t e r prolonged h a b i t a t i o n was permanent h a b i t a t i o n p o s s i b l e , through c u l t i v a t i o n and through i n d u s t r y harmonious balance a c h i e v e d , the land b e i n g made to bear and the i n h a b i t a n t s b e i n g n o u r i s h e d . I f t h i s were so, her v e s s e l l a r g e l y f l o undered out at sea and came no c l o s e r than to anchor by o f f s h o r e . She was i n c l i n e d more to Donne's view of i t , but added, a l b e i t p l a y f u l l y , so as not to seem i m p l a c a b l e , t h a t on the day he c l e a r e d h i s own s o u l ' s c o a s t l i n e of the t r e a c h e r o u s rocks, stone by stone, t h i n k i n g i t i m p o s s i b l e , she would consent to drop h e r anchor t h e r e . S t r a i g h t he set about i t , b e i n g m a s t e r f u l at c u r i o u s a r t s r e v e a l e d i n c o r n e r s of d e f i a n c e , at c o n j u r i n g and j u g g l i n g up r e a l i t i e s of l i o n courage, rampart s o l i d i t y , or orchard s u s t e n -ance, he c o u l d a f f o r d t o throw down h i s defenses, which were mere r e l i c s , l i k e c o r a l a t o l l s , o r i g i n a l l y e n a b l i n g an i s l a n d ' s slow accumulation. He set about i t t h i n k i n g v i s i o n s of a l t a r ; a hawk-slain 196 heron, arrow wounded, h o u n d - k i l l e d stags i n heaps were over-t e n d e r v a i n i m a g i n i n g s . He set about h i s t a b l e d c a l c u l a t i o n s to determine f a v o u r i n g hours and r o o t s of p o i n t s of spheres of i n f l u e n c e , t h e i r a r c s , p r o p o r t i o n s and p o s i t i o n s ; the bloody . phases of the moon he knew, and i t s d e p r e s s i n g powers t i d a l ; arid soon, by a p p l i c a t i o n of h i s wi z a r d r y he-could f o r e t e l l what rocks h e r v e s s e l would most l i k e l y see, and c l e a r e d them. H i s f i n a l s t r o k e of magic was the sounding of h i s roundels and h i s l a y s t h a t l u r e d h e r v e s s e l on, q u i t e unaware, i n t o h i s harbour. — j u s t v i o l e t s Charmaine co u l d not b e l i e v e i t . I t was u n n a t u r a l — n o t i n he r n a t u r e . I t was a monstrous, f r i g h t e n i n g m i r a c l e . Her s h i p was i n . I t was a work of e v i l t h a t went a g a i n s t h e r every p r i n c i p l e . How was i t p o s s i b l e h i s c o a s t s were c l e a r e d , h i s i s l a n d l a i n bare? Such marvellous redemption, with so b i t t e r and i r o n i c , odious results',. She had been made unclean through her devoted s e r v i c e , and at the moment of h e r g r e a t e s t conquest. I t was martyrdom. Impaled f o r w i t c h c r a f t . S t r i p p e d of h e r purpose. At the f i r s t p r o o f t h a t she was worthy of i t , made unworthy. The stones were gone. I t could not be e q u a l l e d . Perhaps t h i s was a metamorphosis i n t o a h i g h e r plane? She p u l l e d h e r c o l l a r up over h e r h a i r . S m i l i n g , she f e l t s e l f i s h . She f e l t g u i l t , expansive, wonderful. She was committed, l i m i t e d . L i m i t e d so p a r t i c u l a r l y . I t was boundless freedom. Her t h e s i s came t o mind. She laughed. She laughed and jumped up and down on the hard wooden seat of the bench. She 197 laughed and f e l l a g a i n s t him, t u r n i n g h e r f a c e up to the snow f a l l i n g through the t r e e s of V i c t o r i a Park. 1 9 8 Heated Events descent: the b r i n k A c r i s p , f i n e day; at t w e l v e - t h i r t y G a l l went t o Leig h t o n * s o f f i c e t o get a r i d e home. Percy met him i n the h a l l . Percy wore a new green s p o r t s c o a t , and b r i g h t bow t i e . " H a i l , w e l l met.'" s a i d J a c k . " H e l l o t h e r e . I've got the book you wanted." They l e f t the b u i l d i n g and walked toward the par k i n g l o t . Percy handed the book over. "Here i t i s . I t ' s the best I have. By f a r the most f r a n k . " "Well now. Thanks a l o t . You're a r e a l b r o t h e r of the f l e s h . " L e i g h t o n put h i s hand under Jack's arm and l e d him to the c a r . Jack hopped i n , h a r e - l i k e . Once i n the c a r he opened up the book and,studied i t . "Did you i n t e n d to show i t to Rena?" "Yes," C a l l s a i d . He c o u l d not admit h i s r e a l i n t e n t i o n , which reminded him to ask: " W i l l you be home t o - n i g h t ? " "No. I have an af t e r n o o n c l a s s and i n v i g i l a t i n g d u t i e s i n the evening. I ' l l conserve time by e a t i n g on campus and doing some g r a d i n g . Why do you ask?" "I thought perhaps I'd r e t u r n your book i f you'd be home." "Don't you want i t ? " "I do, yes." "Well, you needn't r e t u r n i t i n s t a n t l y . " " T h i s book's i l l u s t r a t i o n s are g r a p h i c , a r e n ' t they?" J a c k asked, n a s a l l y . 199 "The t e x t i s comparable." "The p l o t must be complex, judging from the v a r i e t y of methods i l l u s t r a t e d . " "Yes, y e s . Yes, i t i s . " "Do you p r a c t i c e many of these p o s i t i o n s , P e r c y ? " "Uh, I'm a f r a i d n o t . " Percy pinched the c a r t i l a g e beneath h i s s p e c t a c l e s . "You co u l d n ' t say we p r a c t i c e . " "What 1 And you a married man! You can t e l l me P e r c y . We're b r o t h e r s of the f l e s h . " "No, I speak t r u l y . " "Why n o t ? " "Why? Uh... I suppose the i n t r o d u c t o r y procedure i s too much f o r me." " B a l l s ! One j u s t gets on wit h i t . By God! Come i n wit h me and I ' l l demonstrate w i t h Red. You need a f r i e n d ' s h e l p . " "You w i l l ? " " C e r t a i n l y , " Jack tugged on a s i n g l e , l o n g h a i r growing from h i s lower e y e l i d . " A l l r i g h t . Agreed!" — d e s c e n t The t h r e e of them sat i n the k i t c h e n , Jack and Rena huddled at one end of the t a b l e and Percy seated by the s t o v e , a l i t t l e a s i d e . "Look a t t h a t ! " Jack s a i d , and began to t u r n the page. "Hold on." She s i d l e d around the t a b l e , a d j u s t i n g t o the angle of the book. "My, my now. That i s new." E x h a l i n g with the words. 200 "Which one i s t h a t ? " Percy leaned forward. "Oh, yes, y e s . " "Do you see any, Red, you'd l i k e t o t r y out?" "Why are you j u s t l o o k i n g at the p i c t u r e s ? Why don't we read i t ? " "We w i l l l a t e r . I want to know i f any of them do anything f o r you." " I ' l l admit they a l l do," Rena answered. Percy's elbow banged a g a i n s t the s t o v e . "Never mind t h e n . I ' l l p i c k one. Here, t h i s one i n the arm c h a i r . " "That l o o k s awkward." "Rena. Look at me." "What?" "I'm going to do i t with you, l i k e t h a t . " "You a r e ? " She looked at L e i g h t o n . He was s t a n d i n g by the s i n k , h i s hands i n h i s pockets. He s h u f f l e d . "We're going to demonstrate f o r Percy." "What! That lewd o l d ape!" Jack s e i z e d h e r by the w a i s t . "Stop t h a t you p i g ! " She clawed. Percy craned h i s neck, t e n s e l y . "You r o t t e n ape! Uhhh." She b i t i n t o Jack's w r i s t . "Eeeowwuh!" Rena went f o r the s t o v e . L e i g h t o n crouched behind i t w i t h h i s forearm up. She snatched the f r y i n g pan. "Here, you scum!" "Watch i t ! " I t rang on C a l l ' s s k u l l . "Get out! Get out of my,place!" C a l l scrambled out the door. L e i g h t o n edged around the room. She c i r c l e d , keeping the 201 pan p o i s e d . "You t o o , you h a i r y b l a c k b a s t a r d out of H e l l ! Get out of here!" The s k i l l e t swooshed and she momentarily l o s t her b a l a n c e . L e i g h t o n was out the door. The pan f l e w a f t e r him. He t r i p p e d on the s t e p s , and Jack, gawking from the walk, got i t s q u a r e l y on the forehead and k e e l e d over. L e i g h t o n got the pan. H u f f i n g and snorting,, he shook i t . "Now I've got i t . " . "There's a house f u l l i f you want to p l a y . " She ducked i n t o the k i t c h e n . "I'm g o i n g ! I'm g o i n g ! " He ran around h i s c a r and peeked back from behind i t . The k i t c h e n door was s h u t . He looked at h i s watch and waited. F i v e minutes passed. He c r e p t back up the walk. C a l l was c l u t c h i n g the book. He must have snatched i t up on the way out, Percy thought, pushing h i s g l a s s e s back. He jammed the book i n t o C a l l ' s pocket, r e t r i e v i n g the f r y i n g pan, and checked the door. He tugged, keeping a good g r i p on the pan and an eye on the door. He p u l l e d Jack's arms around h i s neck, h o i s t e d him to h i s back, and c a r r i e d him groaning t o the c a r . — r e b u t t a l : t h r e e A l a n was f r e e of c l a s s e s , as exams were coming on. He rose e a r l y and went down to the l i v i n g room, chewing scented gum to sweeten b r e a t h . He'd shaved and combed and made a l l p r e p a r a -t i o n s , so he read while w a i t i n g f o r May t o s t a r t h e r c l e a n i n g . May came. He looked i n t o h i s book, making p r e p a r a t i o n s . He saw her a c r o s s the page as she bent to assemble the vacuum 202 c l e a n e r , s t a r c h aproned, i n a p l e a t e d s k i r t w i t h p l e a t s that ended where they met h e r rump. She had f i n e haunches. He c l o s e d h i s book t o speak. She pushed the b u t t o n and launched a v i o l e n t a t t a c k upon the r u g . "May?" She was p i t i l e s s beneath the t e l e v i s i o n . "May:" She glowered, turned t o h e r machine, and i n one continuous motion, l i k e the sweep of a pendulum i n v e r t e d , rocked forward, tapped the b u t t o n o f f , rocked back on h e r h e e l s , and s t r a i g h t e n e d . She stood w i t h one arm extended, h o l d i n g the metal t e n t a c l e of the vacuum as though i t were a s h o v e l . "I have t o c l e a n h e r e . I f you want to study y o u ' l l have t o move." Her toe went out toward the a t t a c k b u t t o n . "May, l i s t e n May. I've watched you moving through the house a hundred times and wanted t o say something. I vowed I'd say i t today. I planned to meet you here t h i s morning. I thought about i t a l l n i g h t . May, k i s s me." "Stop the t o m f o o l e r y . I've got work t o do." Her toe went out and d e f i n i t e l y h i t the b u t t o n . He shut i t o f f . "I'm s e r i o u s , May. Everybody t h i n k s i t ' s a joke t o be s e r i o u s . Don't you mock too]"' . "Here," : she bent over, "you can k i s s my ass i f you want." A l b e r t came i n with a l o a d of g r o c e r i e s . He stopped, s h o r t . "What's going on h e r e ] " "Nothing," May s a i d , and h i t the a t t a c k b u t t o n . 203 A l b e r t s h i f t e d the g r o c e r i e s , watching A l a n climb the s t a i r s . — g r a c e at t a b l e C l a r k e had been l y i n g on h i s bed. He got up and went t o the a t t i c . A l r e a d y t h e r e was t r a s h thrown over h i s c a r t o n . He dug i t out and c l e a r e d a space f o r i t on the steamer trunk by the l i g h t b u l b . The i n t r o d u c t i o n to h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n was competent. He had w r i t t e n t h a t out i n f u l l . Routine, but f u n c t i o n a l . The notes were s t i l l i n o r d e r . The second chapter had r e a l weight. The p l a n f o r the t h i r d c h apter seemed good t o o . He read on. The f i f t h was e x c e l l e n t . A masterpiece of o r i g i n a l t h i n k i n g . The next c h a p t e r , and the nex t . The work was b r i l l i a n t , o r g a n i c , g e r m i n a t i n g . The s t r u c t u r e would be s o l i d , even c l a s s i c a l . I t was a mas t e r p i e c e . He shut the c a r t o n and h u r r i e d down the s t a i r s , t a k i n g i t i n t o h i s room wi t h him. To t h i n k i t had been n e g l e c t e d i n the a t t i c . He spread the pages out on the bed, and when the bed was covered, a c r o s s the f l o o r . I t was t h e r e , complete. I t merely needed t o be born. I t had been w a i t i n g p a t i e n t l y and growing, growing i n him. "Come," he s a i d , " l e t ' s g ather you up and get t o work." — b l o w the man down: pa r t t h r e e " B e t t e r , thanks," C a l l s a i d , s i t t i n g up on the edge of the bed and removing the i c e p a c k Helga had put on h i s forehead. "Bid your husband e x p l a i n ? " "He s a i d Rena threw you out." 204 "Would you mind i f I stayed here u n t i l I found a p l a c e ? " . "Not at a l l . Percy i n s i s t s you do." "Thank God f o r P e r c y . Say,. where's my c o a t ? " He rubbed h i s dented p a t e . "There's one of your husband's books i n the pocket. I borrowed i t to show you." "Oh goodJ I ' l l get i t . " He r e p l a c e d the i c e p a c k and l a y down. "Is t h i s the one?" "That's i t . Would you l i k e to read i t to me?" She sat b e s i d e him, " I f you l i k e , " and read a l o u d . A f t e r the t h i r d page she removed h e r shoes and l a y b e s i d e him. She read a l o u d . He put the i c e p a c k on the f l o o r . She was on h e r stomach. He undid h e r b l o u s e . Her v o i c e f a l t e r e d . She stopped on the seventh page. "I w i l l , " she s a i d , " i f you l e t me keep the book." "Agreed." — s o u r grapes C h a r l i e accepted h e r i n v i t a t i o n i n f o r a n i g h t - c a p . Rena took h i s coat and s u i t - c o a t . "Man" I was r e a l l y hot and hopping t o n i g h t . I f e e l g r e a t . " He touched h i s t o e s . "That's good," she s a i d , t u r n i n g on the r a d i o . "Can you do push-ups?" "Sure." He d i d a few. "That's wonderful." " I t ' s n o t h i n g . When I'm i n top shape I can.stand on my hand and l i f t myself up o f f the ground." 205 She brought him a d r i n k . "You lo o k good i n a s h i r t . You are s t r o n g ! Let me f e e l . " She put her hand around h i s muscle and he f l e x e d i t . " L o v e l y , " she s a i d . She set her d r i n k down and came to him w i t h arms open, t o dance. "Take your t i e o f f . " He threw i t over a c h a i r . "That's a good t i e , t h a t t i e . S i l k . " She unbuttoned h i s s h i r t and removed i t . "You wear an u n d e r s h i r t . You shouldn't with a b u i l d l i k e yours. Her f i n g e r s were c o l d on h i s stomach. He took h i s u n d e r s h i r t o f f . She put h e r palms on h i s shoulders and ran them t o h i s neck, under h i s arms, down to h i s w a i s t , p r e s s i n g , behind h i s back, along h i s s p i n e . "Ohhh. You're b e a u t i f u l , you're b e a u t i f u l , you're b e a u t i f u l , " rubbing h a r d e r and h a r d e r . "Ouch! You s c r a t c h e d me." She embraced him, k i s s i n g the base of h i s neck. He h e l d h e r , She turned h e r f a c e up and h e r eyes gleamed, r o l l i n g h e r t h i g h s a g a i n s t him. Her l i p s were drawn back i n a s n a r l of want. He thought h e r t e e t h were l a r g e . She p u l l e d him to the f l o o r , k i s s i n g him, h e r f i n g e r s splayed behind h i s head, k i s s i n g him so hard t h a t he f e l t only t e e t h and bone. She t o r e at h i s neck and i n h i s ear, between h e r t e e t h , she s a i d , "How do push ups. How do them." "Wait," he p u l l e d away. " I need to go to the washroom f i r s t . " She winced, then r e l a x e d and s t r e t c h e d h e r arms out, and h e r l e g s . "Don't take l o n g , " she gnashed, " I ' l l be naked when you come back. I ' l l be l i k e t h i s . Look, l o o k . I ' l l be l i k e t h i s . " 206 The medicine c a b i n e t m i r r o r was above the t o i l e t . He was f o r c e d t o l o o k at h i m s e l f as he went. He z i p p e r e d h i s f l y , t u r n i n g , and stepped on something. I t squeezed over the f l o o r . A t o o t h p a s t e tube. He caught a b i t on the end of h i s f i n g e r and t a s t e d i t . Shaving cream. He s m i l e d . He had thought i t was t o o t h p a s t e . Shaving cream? He opened the m e d i c i n e - c a b i n e t . There was a shaving mug and brush. She might use cream, but not a mug. She might. A s a f e t y r a z o r , a man's comb. She might. Deodorant. Two t o o t h brushes. A French s a f e . An o l d one. Who keeps used French s a f e s ! He shut the door, l o o k i n g at h i m s e l f i n the m i r r o r . He was slow i n l e a v i n g the bathroom. The k i t c h e n was next the b a t h -room. There were broken d i s h e s . The towel rack was broken. The t a b l e had been overturned. C i g a r e t t e b u t t s on the f l o o r had burned the l i n o l e u m . A pan h a d ' f a l l e n o f f the counter and spewn bones about. They were too s m a l l f o r stewing bones or f o r dogs to e a t . C h a r l i e saw the k i t c h e n door. "What about my good t i e ? " H e r a l d opened the door. "To h e l l with my good t i e . " He ran f u r t h e r than he needed t o f o r a phone booth. Fred s a i d he would come to p i c k him up. — w o r d s She might have s a i d something, she thought, and damned h e r b i g mouth. But he'd be coming back. He'd l e f t h i s c l o t h e s . Where the d e v i l could he have gone? She might have been too hard on him. He was young. He must have been c r a z y t o run o f f l i k e t h a t i n the c o l d , l e a v i n g h e r t h e r e , t r e m b l i n g f o r him. She must 207 have t e r r i f i e d him. She l i f t e d her breasts. She was not that bad. He might have been a v i r g i n — w h i c h would have b e e n . l i t t l e good to her. The l i t t l e runt! leaving her l i k e that. —tournament: four Charlie did not say what had happened. He generally would relax before r e t i r i n g , taking tea or coffee and a cigarette and l i s t e n i n g to recordings or ta l k i n g with Fred. He had gone d i r e c t l y to the room and shut the door. I t generally was Charlie's way to discuss his problems openly, to have things out. There was the p o s s i b i l i t y that he was angry with Fred. That did not seem l i k e l y . It was not worth worrying over. Nothing was, Fred thought. Worry started up from dusty s o i l l i k e an apparition on a thoroughfare of woe, a fury dancing h o r r i b l e patterns to founder and unhorse. Or i t mounted you, rocking, rocking. One could stand down when the prize was not worth the dispute. One was shielded then, immune to c o n f l i c t that d i s t o r t s the vi c t o r y ' s value. Though even she no longer worried over her feather dusters. Water had become her worry. The attendants said the bathtub t e r r i f i e d her. She had improved once, to the point that, i f accompanied, she would immerse her hands and wash. And Arnold had even studied at night-school and by correspondence, s e c r e t i v e l y , u n t i l that 208 Sunday meal when he presented h i s degree. They, a l l had, c e r t a i n l y , t o c o n g r a t u l a t e him f o r i t . He had to be c o n g r a t u l a t e d a l s o , f o r c o n t i n u i n g promotion i n h i s work. Mother s a i d he was a v e r y determined young man t h a t everyone c o u l d p l a i n l y see got what he aimed at g e t t i n g . F a t h e r d i d not go t o hear the m i n i s t e r c o n g r a t u l a t e him, as they stood huddled on the w e l l trimmed lawn, f r e s h i n the r a i n — t h e l i t t l e group of f r i e n d s and b u s i n e s s a s s o c i a t e s who extended t h e i r condolences t h a t he had returned to ashes. 209. December 2 3 r d : H o l i d a y s — s t r i f e : f o u r I t was Thursday. A l b e r t was c a l l e d away the day b e f o r e and wouldn't be back u n t i l l a t e r t h a t morning. M i l l e r had grown more convinced of h i s t h e o r y . Old Jones always stayed i n bed u n t i l they'd gone to s c h o o l . M i l l e r went i n t o A l b e r t ' s room and got i n t o bed. At n i n e o ' c l o c k May a r r i v e d . The d i s h e s c l a t t e r e d as she s i d e d the t a b l e downstairs. In minutes she'd come up to c l e a n . She came. Her f o o t s t e p s paused twice i n the h a l l . She" would be checking the o t h e r bedrooms. M i l l e r p u l l e d the covers over h i s head. May came i n . " A l b e r t ? " she s a i d . He r o l l e d over but d i d not r e p l y . He g r i n n e d under the c o v e r s , h e a r i n g h e r undress. She got i n t o bed backwards, p u l l i n g h e r f e e t i n a f t e r h e r behind. He s e i z e d h e r . She screamed and t r i e d to get out, but her s t u g g l e was o n l y f o r m a l , and i n seconds she was mastering him and took i t v e r y w e l l . So w e l l , they d i d not hear A l a n , who had dashed down from the g a r r e t , i n s t a n t l y responding to May's c r i e s of d i s t r e s s . The c r i e s had stopped and A l a n h e s i t a t e d , not knowing where h i s h e l p was needed. He heard sounds of another k i n d . He l i s t e n e d , not b e i n g s u r e . He l i s t e n e d , There was s i l e n c e , and then M i l l e r ' s v o i c e , and May's. He heard h i s own name mentioned, and t h e i r l a u g h t e r . — h a r v e s t 210 Someone was banging at the door. Alan climbed half way up h i s s t a i r s before going down to answer i t . He hoped i t sounded as though he had come from h i s room. He needn't have bothered. When the f i r s t blows hammered at the door, May had recognized her father's way of requesting entry, using h i s cane. She was i n a mad f l u r r y to dress. She was succeeding poorly and had even managed to get her bra on backwards, though her breasts were of a size that only vanity caused her consternation at i t . M i l l e r observed i t a l l with r e l i s h , his hands under h i s head, propped on the pillow. With Alan to guide him, Jan was i n the room at the moment when his daughter was having d i f f i c u l t y c l o s i n g the closet door behind her, as her s k i r t had jammed under the door. "Who are you, pop?" M i l l e r opened. May freed her s k i r t and continued her dressing, though i n a c o l d l y deliberate manner. "My daughter!" Jan recovered from the shock. Pie raised h i s cane. She looked d i r e c t l y at him. She showed no shame, no fear, no defiance. "I saw'." he uttered. "Good!" she said, " i t ' s the f i r s t thing you've seen i n years. And the f i r s t time i n years you've got your ass off that stupid wheelchair." —blow the man Jack C a l l had settled i n a new apartment. Leighton had c a l l e d for him and they drove to the u n i v e r s i t y . "By the way, Jack," Percy asked, "have you fi n i s h e d with 211 my book yet?" "Yes. I've returned i t . " "Did you? I must have forgotten. Forgive me f o r asking." "That's quite a l l r i g h t . I gave i t to your wife." "Oh. Oh yes." Percy nodded. h i s wife Helga h i s book not t e l l i n g him of his book i n her d i r t y hands unconcerned i f he was made to look stupid so long her l i t t l e grip was on i t h i s good book why with that f i l t h y book to herself sort of notions she must have had yes damn what sort what sort of woman d i r t y l i t t l e b i t c h when he would get home... — r e s o l u t i o n : f i v e Albert was not so unfortunate as to a r r i v e too late to miss e n t i r e l y the event that had occurred i n h i s boarding house. He was on time, while a n t i c i p a t i n g that May would be waiting f o r him, to meet them on the way out, May quite dishevelled, and to be thrust aside by the old man's cane, planted i n his stomach. Albert was ea s i l y on time to f i n d M i l l e r , s t i l l r e v e l l i n g i n the luxury of his landlord's bed. His boarder had no reticence i n revealing to him the story of what had taken place i n h i s absence, and with considerable d e t a i l . Albert ordered him to leave immediately, but M i l l e r found the bed too comfortable. "Besides, I can't get out of bed with you here. I've got nothing on!" Alan refused to help throw M i l l e r out, and to l d John not to help. Albert went down into h i s kitchen and sat darkly before 2 1 2 the window. —unconcern Charmaine and Frank entered her f l a t , r e t u r n i n g from a dance. I t would soon be Christmas and i t would be a white one. I t was snowing again. I t had f a l l e n deep and r e f l e c t e d the s t r e e t lamps and the l i g h t from house windows, s u s t a i n i n g the glow and haze of dusk throughout the n i g h t . They sat together i n the dark room, l o o k i n g out, the drapes drawn from the p i c t u r e window. "The snow comes down a long way," she murmured. " I t ' s so n i c e when i t ' s dry and p u f f y . " " E x c e l l e n t f o r s k i i n g . " "Do you s k i ? " "Yes." " W i l l you teach me?" "I'd love t o . " He looked at her. She c u r l e d and watched the snow. "Charmaine. Don't t h i n k I have u l t e r i o r motives i n what I'm going t o say." She d i d not answer. " W i l l you?" " I f you say not. Go ahead." " I say i t purely as a f a c t . I'm a v i r g i n . I'm not proud of i t n e c e s s a r i l y , and c e r t a i n l y not ashamed. My b e l i e f has been that p r e - m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s were unsound and f r e q u e n t l y troublesome. I t has nothing to do w i t h love or opportunity, because I've had both bef o r e . However, I would c h e r i s h making lo v e to you. Understand, I'm not making a pass. N e i t h e r have 213 you made me r e c k l e s s . " f o r a l l the wi z a r d r y , f o r a l l the wizar d r y of grand c o n s t r u c t i o n and of l e v e l l i n g , f o r a l l the p r i c e t h a t yet was to be p a i d , f o r a l l the weight and scrape and f e e are worth l e s s i n the stead of f i n e r e l e a s e of overwhelm and so v e r e i g n i n h e r . She s a i d : "I guess I should be g l a d . G o l l y no! Maybe I shouldn't be, because I wouldn't make l o v e t o you un l e s s we were m a r r i e d . Do you see?" see, d i d he see th a t h i s was the word t h a t f r e e d by r e s t r i c t i o n to l i m i t l e s s expansion f o r she only served and d i d and she cou l d be now as a woman human s p e c i e s . 21k The S h r i n e — t h e mighty s p l a s h 'Twas on the eve of Christmas t h a t the man took up h i s g r e a t axe and f e l l the t r e e i n a l l the seas combined i n one which made a mighty s p l a s h . . . On Christmas Eve John phoned a l l of h i s f r i e n d s , i n v i t i n g them to come at n i n e o ' c l o c k sharp, s a y i n g t h a t t h e r e would be a c e l e b r a t i o n , no need to b r i n g your own b o t t l e , and that he would u n v e i l h i s grand machine. He t o l d Monk to be t h e r e at ten to n i n e , and made him promise to be a b s o l u t e l y sure t o be on time. Monk was to wait o u t s i d e the door and l e t no one i n u n t i l a l l others had a r r i v e d . They were t h e r e a l i t t l e a f t e r n i n e . Prank was w i t h Charmaine. Fred was t h e r e , and C h a r l i e . Hugh had been l a t e . C l a r k e wouldn't come. Hugh had wasted time t r y i n g to persuade him. Monk rapped, g r u f f l y . The v o i c e of P a r i s h c a l l e d , "Come on i n . " Monk p u l l e d the door open... Tugging... s t r i n g s , frame s i c k l e b l a d e . . . a g l i s t e n i n g swish... sodden thud, a c l u n k . . . BLOOD... a basket. God!... h i s head was i n the b a s k e t . . . h i s trunk s t i l l r e s t e d on the b l o c k , gory, p o u r i n g . . . t w i t c h i n g of the neck... It had a l l been done most c a r e f u l l y . An eye had been screwed i n t o the top of the door and others to the beams. A c o r d , f a s t e n e d to the eye i n the door, passed through the others i n the beams and was t i e d t o a wooden dowel which r e s t e d i n s l o t s on 215 e i t h e r side of the 'H' frame. A l a r g e wooden f o r k was attached to the frame i n such a way t h a t , while supported by the dowel, i t h e l d the s i c k l e , which was weighted by cement b l o c k s and held f i r m by wooden s l a t s that s l i d on grooves. When the dowel was removed, the f o r k pivoted down. The bla d e , thereby, was i n g e n i o u s l y t r i g g e r e d to be released when the door was opened. 216 Worship and J u b i l a t i o n —Christmas day Monk went home right a f t e r . The others thought i t would be better i f he were not alone, but he l e f t , with that laugh, l i k e when h i s own f l y was open. The rest remained together u n t i l i t was very l a t e . About three i n the morning Prank announced that he and Charmaine were o f f i c i a l l y engaged. They planned to be married on the t h i r t i e t h and take a week-end honeymoon though they hadn't decided where. Charmaine said they could only afford to take a week-end. She was going to get a job u n t i l Prank had completed hi s degree. It would be a small wedding and they would leave immediately afterwards, so they would give a r e c e p t i o n tomorrow, today that was, Christmas day... - r j e r i c o she even had the r i n g , Hugh walked home thinking, and had not shown them u n t i l then thinking not much his head being stuffed with wet pulp sort of dead-pan empty or maybe i t was too cram-up with a thousand words l i k e soggy alphabet soup that you have to read and he preferred to concentrate on those about her ring and business though they were only words a long time with a f e e l i n g i t was damned peculiar which he f i n a l l y got up large enough that i t actually took over and remembering how i t was when they announced i t , not the "Oh myi Gee w i l l i k e r s , congrats!" baloney and not 'Dahlinks' or b i g smiles, but her being to him, see, that was i t , wasn't only her you saw which always i t had been, l i k e starbursts and rushing, . 2 1 7 b u t h e r h a i r was up and he k e p t s e e i n g ' F r a n k ' s damn p i p e and F r a n k b e h i n d i t she was happy w i t h i t though damn i t was a s t r a n g e match one of them had l o s t t h e i r head... Oh God, what a t h i n g l what a t h i n g and what a t h i n g f o r h e r t o o c o n c e n t r a t e on t h a t h e r m a r r y i n g , and though a g r e a t s u r p r i s e , he d i s c o v e r e d he was g l a d of i t , f i n d i n g o n l y s t u p i d r e a s o n s , except t h a t g l a d t o be g l a d , h i s f o r them, whose words now l o a v e s of b r e a d and h i s , by Jung*, s i n g i n g w i t h t h e p e a r l she grew i n him f o r t r u m p e t i n g w i t h b r i l l i a n c e f l a s h - b u l b and so r i n g i n g c l e a r a l l -p i e r c i n g t h a t i t came i t s e l f i s a l l , t r u m p e t i n g t h e l a b y r i n t h i a n w a l l s p u l v e r i z e d , t h a t i t i Charmaine was now a g e n i e l o c k e d i n p e a r l . . . — s e a of t o p a z n e v e r c l o s e d h i s head a l l n i g h t , d i d t h e v/ashing-machine t o s s t a n g o , w h i c h was a dance t h a t went Shrung-Grung'. h i s bed sheet wound around h i s neck l i k e some enormous bandage of h i s f r i e n d w i t h a b l a z i n g r e d mind l i k e s t o p - l i g h t f l a s h b u l l s - e y e t a r g e t b l o o d danger j o k i n g t h a t he p a i n t e d t h e town r e d b u t J e s u s , he'd done b e t t e r , s l o p p i n g up t h e whole she-bang w o r l d , p o l e t o p o l e , one g r e a t r e d b a l l o r a g a l l stone j u s t removed wh i c h he n e v e r would f o r g e t i t would be t h e r e i n e v e r y t h i n g from t h e n i n e v e r y l i t t l e t h i n g a t a n g of r e d and t h e n God, Abraham and a l l I he s a t r i g h t up d e c l a r i n g r e s u r r e c t i o n he knew t h a t i t had come, was t h e r e , would s t a y , h i s u n i v e r s a l p o t i e n t , t a n g so c a u s t i c and a p a r t i t purged t h e l o t of b e i n g j u s t p a r t i c u l a r i t y 218 there would be that tinge of red marking solvency he knew then, a g i l e Prophet John had rendered up deliverance from a l l the grim things brewed three thousand years into a bastardly concoction of corners, shelves, and hoods, s i l l y jigging i n i n i t i a l e d protocol and he was up and charging f i r s t to the party, trumpeting with praise and j u b i l a t i o n . . . --his new s e l f that sounded out through everybody there as Charmaine, tucked i n her r i n g , and Clarke i n h i s too-small t i g h t suit,, and note now, not h i s g r i n , but h i s smiling way, take i t or leave i t , new way, he stood to give a f i n e , well spoken toast, a toast of warmth l i k e Hugh'd never heard, to wives and how they should be bold, tease, scold, and wait on nothing, because, Clarke said, a man's i d e n t i t y i s i n h i s wife, and i n what way that was Clarke t o l d them, the bugger talked as i f he knew about i t from a thousand years of married l i f e , and maybe Hugh was drunk by then on one thing or another, but i t sounded l i k e he had been too... —what he preached Massal poor John had been along the whole way right along saving i t a l l up and he got across with that l a s t work, enduring l i k e fables and romances things never could, so made his l a s t a great prose work, clenched f i s t tough, free of rhyme, rum-ram-ruf embellishing and knit c e l e s t i a l up f o r them i n that feasting day... —words and Clarke, having done, 219 Frank rose and gave r e p l y a l s o w i t h eloquence and dai n t y maybe and maybe c i r c u l a r but was, since they were a r i n g around Charmaine... •—words was where Hugh was when they made him give a t o a s t , and h i s f i r s t word was "Pos i e " , and they thought that he was . stoned and had to help him up to say i t , l i k e a play t h i n g , puppet him, being e l f - s m a l l t o d , and u s u a l l y l i s t e n i n g i n , but he got on the t a b l e and w i t h h i s g l a s s up bellowed so t o break down a l l the w a l l s of that p l a c e , and t h e i r eardrums, h o l l e r e d , "Posie 1 " . . . — a f f i r m a t i o n s and u n l i k e a l l times before when i t was over and he'd sobered up, there was not anything t h a t he r e g r e t t e d and he thanked John because he knew he never would again r e t r a c t , and that only that was e v i l . 

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