At the other end of the bar it was crowded, and at this end he stood alone, drinking a gin-and-tonic. They made a very good gin-and-tonic at the Laurel Rock, but he wasn’t getting any taste out of it. As a matter of fact, he thought, you’re not getting any taste out of anything. And then, as some of us do at one time or another, he played with the idea of doing away with himself.
You could do it tonight, he thought. This is as good a night as any. There’s some deep water not far from here, the lukewarm water of the Caribbean. All it needs is something heavy tied onto your ankle. But they claim that’s an awkward way to go out, all that choking and gagging and getting all flooded inside, that’s a messy business. Maybe a razor blade is better. You sit in the bathtub and close your eyes so you won’t see it pouring from your wrist, and after a while you just go to sleep. That would be fine, he told himself. You’re certainly due for some sleep. You haven’t had any decent sleep for God knows how long.
He finished the gin-and-tonic and ordered another. At the other end of the bar they were having a good time, talking pleasantly with some energetic laughter thrown in. He tried to hate them because they were enjoying themselves. He collected some hate, aimed it, and tossed it, then knew right away it was just a boomerang. There was no one to hate but himself.
And maybe her, he thought. Sure, let’s include her. But that wouldn’t be gallant, and you’ve always tried so hard to be gallant. That’s one of your troubles, mister. When it needs trying, it’s no good. This thing they call gallantry should come easy, come natural. But I guess we’re not in that category, he mused. I guess we’re designed for strictly off-the-beam operations, like not being able to sleep, not being able to eat, not being able to do anything except think of what a lousy life it is and how you wish you were out of it.
All right, he told himself firmly, let’s do it and get it over with.
He took a step away from the bar, took another step and stopped and shut his eyes tightly. A shudder ran across his shoulder blades and down his arms. He opened his eyes and saw the barman looking at him inquiringly.
"Are you all right, sir?" the barman asked quietly and courteously.
He frowned at the dark-skinned West Indian who wore a Piccadilly collar and white tie and spotless white barman’s jacket.
"Sure I’m all right." He said it thickly and somewhat rudely. "What makes you think I’m not all right?"
"I thought you might be ill, sir. For a moment there you seemed—"
"Now look," he said to the barman, leaning forward with his hands gripping the edge of the bar, "I’m not intoxicated, if that’s what you’re implying."
"That isn’t what I meant, sir. All I meant was—"
"I don’t care what you meant. You’re here to sell drinks, aren’t you?"
"Well, yes, sir. But—"
"Then sell them. Go tend to your customers and leave me alone."
"Yes, sir." The barman nodded. "Very good, sir."
"And another thing," he said to the barman. "I don’t get this ’sir’ routine. What is this? The goddamn British Navy?"
The barman didn’t answer. He stood there behind the bar, standing erect and dignified and looking very Afro-British with the Piccadilly collar very white against the darkness of his skin. He was proud of his loyalty to the crown, his status as a citizen of Jamaica, and his job here at the Laurel Rock Hotel in Kingston. His face was expressionless as he waited for the American tourist to make another remark about the British Navy.
"I don’t like to be called sir," the American said. "It gets on my nerves to be called sir."
The West Indian’s face remained expressionless. "What would you prefer to have me call you?"
The American pondered for a moment. "Jerk," he said.
"I don’t understand that word," the West Indian said quietly.
"You would if you knew me." He gazed past the dark-skinned barman, absently reached for the tall glass, lifted it to his mouth, and finished the remainder of the gin-and-tonic. He handed the empty glass to the barman and mumbled, "Fill it up again."
"Are you quite sure you want another?"
"Hell, no." The American tourist went on gazing at nothing. "It’s the last thing in this world I want. But the point is, it’s the first thing I require."
The barman moved away. The American tourist leaned heavily on the bar. He lowered his head to his folded arms and said to himself, You jerk, you. Oh, you poor jerk.
His name was James Bevan and he was thirty-seven years old. He had an average build, five-nine and one-fifty, and average-American looks, straight-combed straw-colored hair, gray eyes, medium-length nose, and his complexion was somewhere between country-club tan and business-office yellow. He wore a custom-fitted dark-brown mohair suit made by a Manhattan tailor whose price was never higher than ninety-five dollars, his shirt and tie were from a Fifth Avenue haberdashery that specialized in good quality at fairly reasonable prices, and his shoes were good but not exceptional dark-brown suede. The clothes more or less represented his weekly income and the type of work he did. He was a customer’s man for a Wall Street investment house and he averaged around $275 a week. Usually he was able to save a little of it, but during the past seven months he’d been doing a lot of drinking and buying drinks for strangers and it added up to excessive spending.
Also, during the past seven months he’d been seeing a neurologist about his inability to sleep and his lack of appetite and of course the drinking. In Manhattan there are a great many neurologists and some of them are rather expensive. This nerve specialist that Bevan had been seeing was definitely expensive, and going there several nights a week had caused a severe strain on Bevan’s bank account. The neurologist had finally admitted they weren’t getting anywhere, and suggested that Bevan should try some other therapy, like, say, a trip somewhere, a change of atmosphere. Bevan had gone home and told his wife about it, and a few days later he talked to his employer and requested a four-week leave of absence. The employer was more than willing to grant it; he liked Bevan and he’d been worried about Bevan’s condition. He patted Bevan on the shoulder and told him to play a lot of golf and come back with a nice suntan.
Bevan consulted with a travel agency and they recommended the West Indies, specifically the island of Jamaica. He said that would probably be all right, and they went ahead and obtained seats for him and his wife on a Pan-American DC-6. They also handled the hotel reservations, putting in a call to the Laurel Rock in the city of Kingston.
The Laurel Rock is quietly elegant and traditional and it has an excellent reputation for food and service and management. It is a fairly large hotel, and the grounds surrounding the yellow-brown building are well kept and include a fine garden and a swimming pool. Altogether the Laurel Rock is a place of refinement and distinctive charm, and it is very popular among American and British tourists visiting Jamaica. The hotel is located on Harbour Street and on one side it faces the water of the Caribbean. On the other three sides the Laurel Rock has a fence that shuts it off from the neighboring dwellings. The neighboring dwellings are rather low in real-estate value. It is only a short walk from the Laurel Rock to the slums of Kingston, and these are among the dirtiest and roughest slums to be found anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. Guests at the Laurel Rock are generally advised not to venture beyond the grounds after dark.
Since their arrival at the hotel, three days ago, Bevan and his wife hadn’t seen much of Kingston. He was in the bar most of the time, and she stayed in their room, reading or listening to the radio. On their second day he’d asked her if she wanted to go sight-seeing, and she said no. Then this afternoon he’d asked her again and she said no, she didn’t feel like going out. He said it didn’t make sense to stay in the room and they ought to get some sun out at the swimming pool. She said no and he coaxed her and finally she put her hands to her face and groaned, "Oh, leave me alone. Get out of here and leave me alone." He went out of the room and downstairs to the bar.
She hadn’t appeared for dinner and he’d juggled the idea of going up to the room and having another talk with her. But talking with her had become an ordeal, and although he wished desperately they could get on the same track and reach some sort of understanding, he sensed it was impossible, he wasn’t up to it. At dinner he’d sat alone at the table and barely nibbled at the juicy rare roast beef that begged to be eaten with gusto. Most of it was left on his plate when he got up from the table and headed back to the bar.
Now it was getting on toward midnight and he had no idea how many gin-and-tonics he’d consumed. But whatever the amount, it wasn’t enough. He lifted his head from his folded arms and saw the barman coming toward him with the tall glass three-quarters filled, the bubbles of effervescence dancing around the cubes of ice.
He reached for the glass and was bringing it toward his mouth when he saw her entering the cocktail lounge. She moved toward him like a thin blade of blue-white steel coming in to cut him in half. Here she comes, he thought, gazing dismally at the advancing figure of his wife, and he closed his eyes, wishing he could keep them closed for a long, long time. He was saying to himself, Point one: You can’t stand the sight of her. Point Two: You can’t stand the idea of losing her. Point three: What in God’s name is the matter with you?
Then his eyes were open, and as she came up to the bar to stand beside him, he said, "Have a drink?"
"No, thank you."
"Hungry? I can order you a sandwich."
"No," she said. "But I’d like a cigarette."
He took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. "Come on," he said. "Let me buy you a drink."
She didn’t answer. He lit her cigarette, lit one for himself. Then he waited for her to say something. Without sound he was begging her to say something, say anything that would establish some line of communication. But all she did was stand there showing him her profile as she took slow, calm drags at the cigarette.
Oh, well, he thought, and shrugged inside himself. But the shrug didn’t work, and he snatched almost frantically at the gin-and-tonic. He took several gulps and the alcohol charged his brain with a series of stimulating stabs that brought a dim, half-pleased smile to his lips. The smile became dimmer and somewhat sardonic as he stepped back to give her an appraising look.
This is better, he told himself. This is a lot better than trying to talk to her. He went on giving her the up-and-down look, as though it weren’t his wife standing there, but some interesting-looking female he was seeing for the first time.
Really interesting, he estimated. The breeding shows, and you know right away it was first a governess and then finishing school in New England, followed by Bryn Mawr or Vassar, someplace like that. They wouldn’t let her attend a coed institution; you can bet they stood firm on that issue.
It was gaining momentum in his brain, and he went on: Stands to reason she comes from people with a comfortable amount of cash. Not exactly in the ultra-ultra bracket, but comfortable enough to own property with considerable ground around it, a two- or three-car garage, maybe some horses, a summer home out on Long Island. Oh, they have it, all right. But check that just-right tilt of her chin, and you know they never lavished the cash on her. She doesn’t look the least bit pampered or spoiled. She looks as if she’s been guided and guarded very carefully. So the governess must have been Swedish; they’re usually the strictest. Then later, when she started going out with boys, there was always a chaperone.
Oh, yes, there had to be a chaperone. And that made it tough on the boys. That is, if they went for the fragile type, the dainty and delicate little lady with the pale-gold hair and pale-blue eyes and very-pale-ivory complexion. You go for that? Yes, I guess you go for that.
The way a moth goes for the blue-white flame, but it turns out to be an icicle that freezes him to nothingness very quickly.
With frozen eyes he stared at his wife and saw the pale-gold hair parted in the middle and sleeked down to partially cover her delicate ears. And the pale-blue eyes, the very-pale-ivory complexion that harmonized with her fragile slenderness. Just a tiny suggestion of bosom and hardly any hips at all. But it wasn’t entirely a string-bean build; there was just enough subtle molding of breast and thigh to make it interesting. Let’s get away from that, he thought. Let’s get it more in terms of statistics. She’s five feet four inches tall. She weighs exactly 109 pounds. She’s twenty-nine years old and you’ve been married to her for nine years. Hey, now, a lot of nines coming up here. Maybe nine is your lucky number. You mean your unlucky number. For instance, it takes nine months to produce a baby, and she hasn’t been able to produce one yet. I think you better pull away from number nine. Let’s try a number we all know is lucky, like seven. That’s a good number. Oh, sure, that’s a very good number. It’s been seven months since you’ve done it with her. That’s unbelievable. Yet it’s a fact, mister, an irrevocable fact.
And please, whatever you do, don’t blame the individual that invented twin beds. The twin beds have nothing to do with this problem. This problem is founded on the premise that she doesn’t want it and even if she wanted it you wouldn’t be capable. We might as well put it plainly and say she’s frigid and you’ve become impotent because of it.
Well, sir, that balances the equation, it makes the score zero-zero. So what say we have a drink on that? But the glass was empty. He called to the barman and ordered another. He heard Cora saying, "I wish you wouldn’t."
He leaned low over the bar, aiming a grin at empty air. "It’s just a way to pass the time."
"Please don’t drink any more tonight."
"It isn’t drinking, really. It’s just taking medicine."
"James, don’t talk foolishly. All that gin in you, it doesn’t do you any good."
He was still grinning, still aiming his eyes at nothing. "I wish there were a substitute."
"I don’t know what you mean."
"Don’t you? The hell you don’t."
The barman arrived with the gin-and-tonic and placed it in front of Bevan. He reached for it, then decided to let it stay there for a while. He grinned at the glass, at the glimmering ice cubes in the bubbling colorless liquid.
He heard Cora saying, "You’re getting drunk, James. I can always tell when you’re getting drunk."
"Hello," he said to the glass. "Hello, palsy-walsy."
She put her hand on his arm. "Listen to me."
"You really my pal?" he asked the glass. "You wanna be my pal, you gotta stick with me. O.K.?"
"It’s gotta be true-blue all the way," he said to the glass. "None of this fair-weather-friend routine. What I need is a real pal, someone I can talk to. That’s been my trouble, I got nobody to talk to. So let’s have an understanding, pal. There’s nothing in this world like understanding."
She was pulling at his sleeve. "Will you please listen to me?"
"Can’tcha see I’m busy? I’m busy here, I’m talking to my pal."
"I can’t stand it when you’re drunk."
"And I can’t stand it when I’m not drunk."
He was leaning very low over the bar. She gripped his middle and tried to straighten him. He pulled away from her and stumbled sideways and she said, "James, there are other people in this room. They’re looking at you."
"Me?" He was gripping the edge of the bar to keep himself from falling to the floor. "Why they wanna look at me? I’m nobody."
"I wish you’d stop trying to prove it."
"Don’t hafta prove it. Got the evidence right here." He pointed to himself. "All wrapped and sealed and labeled fourth-class mail. Better handle it gently, boys, it might fall apart."
Then he reached for the glass and missed and his groping hand went sliding across the bar, his head going down and his chin hitting the polished hardwood surface. He let his head stay there, and heard her saying, "Get up, James. Stand up straight."
"I been trying that for years. Can’t do it. Not up to it at all."
"Here, let me help you." She took hold of his shoulders.
He pushed her away. "Don’t need any help. Need another drink, that’s what."
There was some awkward stifled laughter at the other end of the bar. Cora made another attempt to pull him upright and again he pushed her away. She closed her eyes for a moment, and then said very quietly, "The very least you could do is think of me."
"My dear adorable girl, I’m always thinking of you." And then laughing, biting on it and sobbing it, "Can’t ever stop thinking of you."
He tried to straighten himself, but as he lifted his head his knees gave way. Cora grabbed him and he fell against her, his weight throwing her off balance. As they went stumbling away from the bar, a man detached himself from the group at the other end and came hurrying toward them. The man caught Bevan under his armpits, held him upright, then took him to the tables near the bar and put him in a chair. Bevan’s head flopped onto his folded arms. He heard a dull humming in his brain, then heard Cora say, "Thank you," to the man. The man said, "Quite all right," and then Cora said, "I’m terribly ashamed." The humming came in again, but through it he heard the man say, "I guess he had too much."
Bevan raised his head and looked at the man. "Now, how in hell did you figure that out?"
The man gave him a tolerant and somewhat amused smile. Bevan decided it wasn’t a smile, it was more on the order of a leer. But of course he couldn’t be sure about that because now the man was twins and then triplets seen through a wall of glue-stained celluloid. The wall moved in, then tilted abruptly, and he was on top of it and sliding down. He told himself he wasn’t ready to go out yet. Inside himself he punched back at the gin that was punching away at his brain. It helped some, and he managed to sit up fairly straight. Again he was focusing on the man. He saw that the man was of average height but on the heavy side, with reddish complexion and carrot-colored close-curled hair. The man had gray-green eyes and his nose was slightly flattened. He wore a beige suit of thick Italian silk and butter-colored buckskin shoes. He looked to be a fairly prosperous and maybe important alumnus of whatever college he’d attended, probably an Ivy League school.
"So who cares?" Bevan mumbled to no one in particular. "I’m a Yale man myself."
The man was looking at Cora. "I’d better take him to his room."
"I hate to trouble you," she said.
"It won’t be any trouble."
"Don’t bet on that, brother," Bevan said. He smiled amiably at the man and the man smiled back.
Cora said, "We’re in Three-o-seven."
The carrot-colored hair and flattened nose came slowly toward Bevan and he widened his smile and said, "You really think you can do it?"
"We’ll both do it," the man said. He sounded like a kindly scoutmaster. "We’ll make it together, sonny."
"Sonny," Bevan said. "Don’t gimme that sonny business."
"Come on," the man murmured gently, moving in close and reaching for him. "Let’s give it the old college try. Let’s score one for Old Eli."
"Oh, get away," Bevan said wearily. "Get the hell away from me."
"Easy, now," the man said, taking hold of Bevan’s arms, lifting him from the chair. "Let’s do this nice and easy as we can."
Bevan allowed himself to be pulled upright and when he was sure he had the floor under his feet he pivoted in the man’s grasp, yanking himself free. Then he hauled off with his right hand and aimed a roundhouse delivery that went very wide, the impetus carrying him past the man, sending him into a table that overturned. He landed hard on his face, his head resting on the slant of the overturned table. The table drifted away from under him and he was asleep.
They’re laughing, Cora said to herself. You can hear them laughing. It isn’t the loud raucous jeering laughter, it’s more on the quiet tactful side and they’re trying to hold it back. But they can’t hold it back, it’s really such a funny sight. Yes, it’s so funny. It’s a kind of slapstick, I guess. Can you see it that way? You wish you could see it that way.
She stood there listening to the muffled laughter from the other end of the bar. They were looking at the drunk who was sleeping with his head resting against the overturned table. The heavily built man moved toward the drunk and lifted him from the floor, then carried him as though he were a rolled-up blanket, one arm under his shoulders and the other under his knees. The man supported his weight quite easily, and smiled placidly at Cora and said, "The room key?"
"It’s in his pocket," she said. "His trousers pocket."
"Good," the man said. He widened the smile just a trifle. "Don’t look so worried. He’s all right."
She didn’t say anything.
"He’s quite all right," the man said. "He’s doing fine now."
Bevan mumbled something in his sleep. He squirmed in the man’s arms. The man went on smiling at Cora and said, "He needs a pillow under his head. That’s all he needs."
"Then why don’t you take him upstairs? What are you waiting for?"
The man’s eyebrows went up just a little, but the smile stayed on his lips.
"I’m sorry," Cora murmured. "I shouldn’t have put it that way."
"Oh, that’s all right," the man said lightly. "It’s understandable."
Then he turned away and carried the drunken sleeper out of the bar and across the lobby and toward the row of elevators. At the doorway between bar and lobby, Cora stood watching him as he waited with his burden for the elevator. She was thinking, Whoever he is, he’s a brute. Very polite and considerate and completely a brute. Look at him, how big he is. Look at his shoulders. Such wide shoulders. He’s so much bigger than the man he’s carrying. That’s what he wants me to know. That’s why he stood there smiling at me, drilling it into me that he’s bigger, he’s bigger and better. Next thing he’ll want to do is show me his hairy chest. Does he have a hairy chest? Why do you ask? I don’t know. Then stop asking. But does he really have a hairy chest? And will you please stop trembling? But it isn’t trembling. It’s shivering. Yes, you’re shivering, you feel so cold, so terribly cold. But there’s a furnace somewhere, it’s coming nearer, it’s very hot, it’s white-hot coming nearer and nearer, but no, it isn’t a furnace, it’s a hand, it’s a man’s hand. It’s the hand of...
Of whom? Of what?
There was no answer to that, and she thought. It’s nothing, really. It’s just a momentary lapse. You know you can get rid of it if you try because you’ve had this sort of thing before and you’ve always managed to get rid of it. But what is it? Why does it happen?
She stood rigidly, watching the man as he entered the elevator with the sleeping burden slung across his arms. Then the elevator door was closed and she looked up to the floor indicator and saw the pointer moving slowly toward two and past two and toward three. It stopped at three. Her eyes were focused on the numeral three engraved in the bronze of the floor indicator. Three, she thought. What’s the meaning of three? There’s a saying, three little words. There’s another saying, three’s a crowd. There’s also the arithmetic we learn in first grade and it tells us that three and three are six and three are nine. And what’s the meaning of nine?
I’ll tell you what the meaning is, she said to herself. You’re thinking the way a child thinks. A child who is nine years old. Please try to remember you’re grown up, you’re twenty years older than nine years old...nine years old...nine years old...
She shivered again. It was a convulsive shiver and in the moment that it lasted there was the coldness and then the awful heat changing shape and becoming a man’s hand. She took a backward step to get away from it, then another backward step, and her hands came up to her eyes, her palms pressing hard against her eyes so that what she saw was blackness. It was a thick and greasy and terribly filthy blackness, it was like the dark of a sewer that went down and down and now she could feel the wetness and she knew where it was. She tried to believe it wasn’t there but it was there. It was actually there, the seething hot wetness that caused her to gasp and groan without sound.
So it’s happened, she thought. It’s happened again. It hasn’t happened for quite a while now but tonight something brought it on, although we’re agreed the circumstances are quite different from that last time, more than a year ago, that rainy afternoon when you couldn’t get a taxi and you used the subway. It was during the rush-hour and the car was packed and you were standing next to that big man wearing the shipyard worker’s helmet. He was so big, so ugly, and his shirt was unbuttoned and you saw the hair on his chest. What a horrible-looking beast he was, and he saw you were looking at him, and it was as though he knew what you were thinking. Or what you didn’t know you were thinking. Because he grinned at you as though to say, "You ain’t kidding me, girlie. On the outside you looked scared stiff, really freezing-scared. But inside you’re on fire." Was it true? Of course it was true. First thing I did when I got home was take a hot bath. I think that’s what I’ll do tonight. I’ll take a hot bath. But you don’t need a bath, you had one just an hour ago. You really don’t need a bath. Oh, don’t you? Not much you don’t. You feel as though you haven’t bathed for a week. Oh, this is such an awful mess. I wish there were some kind of soap that washes out the mind.
She walked across the lobby and seated herself in an armchair with her back to the elevator doors. A few minutes passed and then she heard the action of the elevator door as it opened. She was slumped low in the chair and she was hoping he wouldn’t see her, then hoping he would see her, and then hoping he wouldn’t see her.
He didn’t see her. She heard the heavy footsteps of his thick-soled shoes under his bulky weight, moving across the lobby in the other direction, going toward the bar. She turned her head and caught a glimpse of him as he entered the bar, seeing him in profile, his close-curled carrot-colored hair and slightly flattened nose and thick shoulders and bulging chest. Then he was out of sight, but in her mind she sensed the brute force of his presence moving toward her and she shivered again.
The elevator door remained open and she got up and hurried toward it. In Room 307 she undressed quickly, in a hurry to get into the tub. But as she started toward the bathroom, she glanced at the twin bed where the drunken sleeper was flat on his back. His leg was bent over the side of the bed at what appeared to be an uncomforable angle. She lifted his leg, getting his foot onto the bed, and as she did this the look on her face was wifely and tender. She stood there gazing at him and sighing, and thinking, It isn’t his fault he drinks so much. It’s your fault. You know it’s your fault. At moments such as this you understand clearly and completely that it’s your fault. You’re his burden and his grief, you’re the living puzzle that he can’t solve. Why don’t you give him the answer?
You can’t give him the answer. Because there’s no answer to give. You wish you knew the answer. Oh, how you wish it would come to you, or at least come close enough so you could reach out and make a grab for it. But it’s very far away, this certain answer, this dancing joker of an answer that tells the why and wherefore of all these twisted, strangled, anguished years.
How many years?
When did it happen?
When did what happen? What was it? You have no idea what it was. Whatever it was, it must have been something on the dreadful side. It must have been so shockingly dreadful that you couldn’t tell anyone. You must have said to yourself, Not a living soul must know. So you had it buried inside yourself, buried deep and then deeper and finally drifting down and away from all known depth of memory. I guess that’s what you wanted it to do. You wanted it to go away, you wished to forget all about it. The wish was granted and here you are just like the little girl who tosses away her toy balloon, and as it soars away she wants it to come back, but of course it won’t come back.
Toy balloon. Little girl. Is that a clue?
Not really. But let’s stay with little girl. What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what Mother always said. She told you to remember it always, to keep yourself dainty and neat, and most important of all, don’t get yourself dirty. You can hear her saying it again: "All right, go out in the garden and play, but don’t get yourself dirty."
Dirty. That reminds me, I ought to start the water running in the tub. But you don’t need a bath. Oh, yes, you do. You need plenty of soap and water, little girl. You must—
But wait now. The garden. What about the garden? I remember, we lived in that big house on Long Island and there was a very large garden and I was seven or eight or nine years old or maybe five or six or eleven. If only I could remember...Yes, if only you could remember. But of course your only memory is Mother saying, "Don’t get yourself dirty."
But the garden, I think there was something in the garden....
The flowers? What flowers? No, it wasn’t the flowers. Was it that thing made of marble? The bird bath? No, it wasn’t the bird bath. What else was there? Some kind of pond, I think. A small pond. It was very small, a fish pond. Yes, I remember now it was a goldfish pond.
Goldfish pond. Goldfish pond. Keep saying it. Please keep saying it. I think it means something. I’m sure it does. Oh, it must mean something. In connection with what? With whom? With whose face? Whose voice?
I can’t remember. The only voice I remember is the voice of Mother saying, "Don’t get yourself dirty."
She went in to the bathroom and started the hot water running in the tub.
Copyright © 1955 by the Estate of David Goodis. Copyright renewed. All rights reserved.