Origin: Библиотека "Артефакт" -- http://andrey.tsx.org/



                            TO MY MOTHER



     If  you  really want to hear about it,  the first thing you'll probably
want to know is where  I was born, an what my lousy  childhood was like, and
how my parents were  occupied and all before they had me, and all that David
Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't  feel like going into it,  if you want
to  know the truth. In  the first place,  that  stuff bores me,  and in  the
second place, my parents would  have about two hemorrhages  apiece if I told
anything pretty  personal about  them.  They're quite touchy  about anything
like  that,  especially  my father.  They're nice  and all--I'm  not  saying
that--but they're also touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my
whole goddam autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman
stuff that happened to me around last Christmas  just before  I  got  pretty
run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean that's all I told
D. B. about, and  he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too
far  from this  crumby place,  and he comes over and visits  me  practically
every week end. He's going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe.
He just got a Jaguar. One of  those little  English  jobs that can do around
two hundred miles  an hour. It cost him  damn near four thousand bucks. He's
got  a lot of dough, now.  He didn't  use to. He used to be  just a  regular
writer, when he was home.  He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The
Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was "The
Secret Goldfish." It  was about  this little kid that wouldn't  let  anybody
look at his goldfish because he'd bought  it with his own  money.  It killed
me. Now he's out in Hollywood, D.  B.,  being  a prostitute. If there's  one
thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even  mention them to me. Where I  want
to start telling is the day I left  Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this  school
that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably
seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about  a  thousand magazines, always
showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you
ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time. I never even once saw a horse
anywhere  near the place. And underneath the guy on  the horse's picture, it
always  says:  "Since   1888  we  have  been  molding  boys  into  splendid,
clear-thinking  young  men." Strictly for the birds.  They don't do any damn
more molding at Pencey than they do  at any other school.  And I didn't know
anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and  all. Maybe two guys.
If that many. And they probably came  to Pencey that way. Anyway, it was the
Saturday of the football game with  Saxon Hall. The game with Saxon Hall was
supposed to be a very  big  deal  around Pencey. It was the last game of the
year, and  you  were  supposed to commit  suicide or something if old Pencey
didn't win.  I remember around three o'clock that  afternoon  I was standing
way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill, right next to this crazy cannon that
was in  the  Revolutionary War and all. You could see the  whole  field from
there,  and  you could see the  two teams  bashing each  other  all over the
place. You couldn't see the grandstand too hot, but you could  hear them all
yelling, deep and terrific on the Pencey side, because practically the whole
school except me was there, and scrawny and  faggy on the Saxon  Hall  side,
because the visiting team  hardly ever brought many people with them.  There
were never  many girls at all  at  the football  games.  Only  seniors  were
allowed to bring girls with  them. It was a  terrible school,  no matter how
you looked at it. I like to be  somewhere at  least where  you can see a few
girls around once  in a while, even if they're only scratching their arms or
blowing  their  noses  or  even  just  giggling  or   something.  Old  Selma
Thurmer--she was the headmaster's  daughter--showed up  at the  games  quite
often, but she wasn't exactly  the type that drove you mad with  desire. She
was  a pretty nice girl, though. I sat  next  to  her once  in the  bus from
Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation.  I  liked her.  She had a
big nose and her nails were all bitten down  and bleedy-looking and she  had
on those damn falsies that point  all  over the  place, but you felt sort of
sorry for her.  What I liked about  her, she  didn't give you a lot of horse
manure about what a great guy her father was. She probably knew what a phony
slob he was. The  reason I was standing way up on Thomsen  Hill, instead  of
down  at the  game,  was because  I'd  just got  back from New York with the
fencing team. I was the goddam manager  of the fencing team. Very big  deal.
We'd gone in to New  York that  morning for this  fencing meet with McBurney
School.  Only, we didn't have the meet. I left all the  foils  and equipment
and  stuff on  the goddam subway.  It  wasn't  all my fault. I had  to  keep
getting  up to look at this  map,  so we'd know where to get off. So  we got
back to  Pencey  around two-thirty instead of  around dinnertime.  The whole
team ostracized me the whole  way back on the train. It was pretty funny, in
a way.  The other reason I wasn't down at the game was  because  I was on my
way  to  say good-by to old Spencer, my  history teacher. He had the grippe,
and  I  figured I  probably wouldn't see him again till  Christmas  vacation
started. He wrote  me this note saying he wanted to see  me  before  I  went
home.  He knew  I wasn't coming back  to Pencey. I forgot to  tell you about
that.  They kicked me  out. I wasn't supposed to  come back after  Christmas
vacation  on account of I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself
and all. They gave me frequent warning to  start applying myself--especially
around  midterms,  when  my  parents  came  up  for  a  conference  with old
Thurmer--but I didn't do it.  So I got the  ax. They give guys the  ax quite
frequently at Pencey.  It has a very good academic rating, Pencey. It really
does. Anyway, it was December and all,  and it was  cold as a  witch's teat,
especially on  top of that stupid hill.  I only  had on my reversible and no
gloves or anything. The week before that, somebody'd stolen  my camel's-hair
coat right out of my room, with my fur-lined gloves right in the pocket  and
all.  Pencey  was  full  of crooks.  Quite a few guys came  from  these very
wealthy families,  but it was full  of crooks anyway. The more  expensive  a
school is, the more crooks it has--I'm not kidding.  Anyway, I kept standing
next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off.
Only, I wasn't  watching the game too much. What I was really hanging around
for,  I was trying to feel some kind  of a good-by. I mean I've left schools
and places I didn't even know I  was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care
if it's a sad  good-by  or a bad goodby, but when  I leave a place I like to
know I'm leaving it.  If you don't, you feel even worse. I was lucky. All of
a sudden  I thought  of something that helped make me know I was getting the
hell  out. I  suddenly remembered this time, in around October,  that I  and
Robert Tichener and Paul Campbell were chucking a  football around, in front
of the academic building. They  were nice  guys, especially Tichener. It was
just before dinner and it was getting pretty dark out, but  we kept chucking
the ball around  anyway. It kept  getting darker and darker,  and  we  could
hardly see the ball any more, but we  didn't want to stop doing what we were
doing. Finally we  had to.  This teacher  that taught biology, Mr.  Zambesi,
stuck his head out of this window in the academic building and told us to go
back to the dorm and  get ready  for dinner.  If I get a chance to  remember
that  kind  of stuff, I can get a good-by when I need one--at least, most of
the  time I can. As soon as  I got it,  I turned around and started  running
down the other side of the hill, toward old Spencer's  house. He didn't live
on the campus. He  lived on  Anthony Wayne Avenue. I ran all the  way to the
main  gate, and then I waited a second till I got my breath. I have no wind,
if you want to know the truth. I'm quite a heavy smoker, for one thing--that
is, I used to be. They  made me cut it out. Another  thing, I grew six and a
half  inches last year. That's also how I practically got t. b. and came out
here for all  these goddam checkups and stuff. I'm  pretty  healthy, though.
Anyway, as soon as I got  my breath back I ran across Route 204.  It was icy
as hell and  I  damn  near fell down.  I don't even know what I was  running
for--I guess I just felt like it. After I got across the road, I felt like I
was   sort  of  disappearing.  It  was  that  kind  of  a  crazy  afternoon,
terrifically cold, and  no  sun out or  anything, and you felt like you were
disappearing every time you crossed a  road.  Boy, I rang that doorbell fast
when I got to old Spencer's house. I was really frozen. My ears were hurting
and I could hardly move my fingers at all.  "C'mon, c'mon," I said right out
loud, almost, "somebody open the door." Finally old Mrs. Spencer opened. it.
They  didn't  have  a maid  or anything, and  they always  opened  the  door
themselves. They didn't  have too  much  dough. "Holden!" Mrs. Spencer said.
"How lovely to see you! Come in, dear! Are you frozen to death?" I think she
was glad to see me. She liked me.  At least, I think she did. Boy, did I get
in  that  house  fast.  "How  are  you, Mrs. Spencer?"  I said.  "How's  Mr.
Spencer?" "Let me take your coat,  dear," she  said. She didn't  hear me ask
her  how Mr. Spencer was. She was sort of deaf. She  hung  up my coat in the
hall closet, and I sort of  brushed my hair back with my hand. I wear a crew
cut quite frequently and I never  have to  comb  it  much. "How've you been,
Mrs. Spencer?" I said again, only louder,  so she'd hear me. "I've been just
fine, Holden." She  closed the closet door. "How have you been?" The way she
asked me, I  knew  right away  old Spencer'd told her I'd been  kicked  out.
"Fine," I said.  "How's  Mr.  Spencer? He  over  his grippe yet?" "Over  it!
Holden, he's behaving like a perfect--I don't know what... He's in his room,
dear. Go right in."
     2
     They each  had  their  own room and  all. They were both around seventy
years old, or even more than that. They got a bang out of things, though--in
a haif-assed  way,  of course.  I know that sounds mean to say, but  I don't
mean it mean. I just mean that I  used  to think  about old Spencer  quite a
lot, and  if you thought about him  too much, you wondered what the  heck he
was  still living  for.  I mean  he  was  all stooped over, and he  had very
terrible posture,  and in class, whenever he dropped a piece of chalk at the
blackboard, some  guy in  the first row always had to get  up and pick it up
and  hand it to him. That's awful, in my opinion. But  if you thought  about
him  just  enough and not too much, you could figure it out that  he  wasn't
doing too bad for himself. For instance, one Sunday when some other guys and
I were  over there for hot chocolate, he  showed us this old  beat-up Navajo
blanket  that he and  Mrs. Spencer'd bought  off some  Indian in Yellowstone
Park. You could  tell old Spencer'd got a  big bang out of buying it. That's
what I mean. You  take  somebody old as hell, like old Spencer, and they can
get a  big  bang out of  buying a  blanket. His door was open, but I sort of
knocked on  it anyway, just to be  polite and all. I could see where he  was
sitting.  He  was  sitting in a big leather  chair,  all wrapped up in  that
blanket I just  told you about. He looked  over at me when I knocked. "Who's
that?" he yelled. "Caulfield? Come in, boy." He  was always yelling, outside
class. It got on your nerves  sometimes. The minute I went in, I was sort of
sorry I'd come. He was  reading the  Atlantic Monthly,  and there were pills
and  medicine  all  over  the place,  and everything smelled like Vicks Nose
Drops.  It  was  pretty depressing.  I'm  not  too crazy  about sick people,
anyway. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad,
ratty old  bathrobe that he was probably born  in or something. I don't much
like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway.  Their bumpy old
chests  are always showing. And their legs. Old guys'  legs, at  beaches and
places, always look so white and unhairy. "Hello, sir," I said. "I got  your
note. Thanks a lot." He'd written me this note asking me to  stop by and say
good-by before  vacation started, on  account of I wasn't  coming back. "You
didn't have to do all that. I'd have come over to say good-by anyway." "Have
a seat there, boy," old Spencer said. He  meant  the bed. I sat  down on it.
"How's your grippe, sir?" "M'boy, if I felt any  better I'd have to send for
the doctor,"  old Spencer said. That  knocked him  out. He started chuckling
like  a  madman. Then  he  finally straightened himself out  and said,  "Why
aren't you down at  the game?  I thought this  was the day of the big game."
"It is. I was. Only, I just got back from New York with the fencing team," I
said.  Boy, his bed was  like  a rock. He started getting serious as hell. I
knew he  would. "So you're  leaving  us, eh?" he said.  "Yes, sir. I guess I
am." He started going into  this nodding routine. You  never saw anybody nod
as much in your life as old Spencer did. You  never knew if he was nodding a
lot because he  was  thinking and all, or just because he was a nice old guy
that  didn't know his ass from his elbow. "What  did Dr. Thurmer say to you,
boy? I understand you had quite a little chat." "Yes, we did. We really did.
I was in his office for around two hours, I guess." "What'd he say to  you?"
"Oh...  well,  about Life being a game and  all.  And how you should play it
according  to the rules. He was pretty nice about  it. I  mean he didn't hit
the  ceiling or anything. He just kept talking  about Life being a  game and
all.  You  know."  "Life  is a  game, boy. Life is  a  game that  one  plays
according to the rules." "Yes, sir. I  know it is. I know it." Game, my ass.
Some game. If  you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's  a
game,  all right--I'll admit that.  But if  you get on the other side, where
there aren't any  hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing.  No game.
"Has Dr.  Thurmer written to  your parents yet?" old  Spencer  asked me. "He
said he was going to  write them Monday."  "Have  you  yourself communicated
with  them?"  "No, sir, I  haven't  communicated  with  them,  because  I'll
probably see  them Wednesday night when I get home."  "And how do  you think
they'll take the  news?"  "Well... they'll be pretty irritated about  it," I
said. "They really  will.  This is about the fourth school I've gone to."  I
shook my head. I shake my head quite a lot. "Boy!" I said. I also say "Boy!"
quite a lot. Partly because I have  a  lousy vocabulary and partly because I
act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen  then, and I'm seventeen
now,  and  sometimes I act like  I'm about thirteen.  It's  really ironical,
because I'm six foot two and  a half and I have gray hair. I  really do. The
one side of my head--the right side--is full of millions of gray hairs. I've
had them ever since I was  a kid.  And yet I still act sometimes like I  was
only about twelve. Everybody says  that, especially  my  father. It's partly
true, too, but it isn't  all true. People always think something's all true.
I don't give a damn, except that  I get bored sometimes  when people tell me
to act  my age. Sometimes I act  a  lot  older  than I  am--I really do--but
people  never notice  it. People never notice anything. Old  Spencer started
nodding  again. He also started picking  his nose. He  made out like he  was
only pinching it, but he was really  getting the old thumb right in there. I
guess  he  thought it was all right to do because it was only me that was in
the  room. I  didn't  care,  except  that  it's  pretty  disgusting to watch
somebody pick their nose. Then he said, "I had the privilege of meeting your
mother and dad when they had their little chat with Dr.  Thurmer some  weeks
ago.  They're  grand people."  "Yes,  they are.  They're very  nice." Grand.
There's a word  I  really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear
it. Then all of a sudden old Spencer looked like he had something very good,
something sharp as a tack, to say to  me. He sat up  more  in his  chair and
sort of moved around. It  was a false alarm, though. All he did was lift the
Atlantic Monthly off his lap  and try to chuck it on the bed, next to me. He
missed.  It was  only  about two inches away, but he missed anyway. I got up
and picked it up and put it down on the bed.  All of a sudden then, I wanted
to get the hell out of  the room. I could feel a terrific lecture coming on.
I didn't mind the idea so much, but I didn't feel like being lectured to and
smell Vicks Nose  Drops and look at old Spencer  in his pajamas and bathrobe
all  at the same time.  I really didn't. It  started, all right. "What's the
matter with you, boy?"  old Spencer said. He said  it pretty tough, too, for
him.  "How many subjects  did you  carry this term?" "Five, sir." "Five. And
how many  are you failing  in?" "Four." I moved my ass  a little bit on  the
bed.  It was the hardest bed I ever sat on. "I passed English all right,"  I
said, "because I  had all that Beowulf and  Lord Randal My Son stuff  when I
was at the Whooton School. I mean I didn't have to do any work in English at
all  hardly,  except  write compositions  once  in a while." He  wasn't even
listening. He  hardly  ever  listened  to  you when you  said something.  "I
flunked you in history because  you knew absolutely nothing."  "I know that,
sir. Boy, I  know it. You couldn't help  it." "Absolutely  nothing," he said
over again. That's something that drives me crazy. When people say something
twice that way, after you  admit  it the first  time. Then he said  it three
times.  "But  absolutely  nothing.  I  doubt very  much if  you  opened your
textbook even once the whole term.  Did you? Tell the truth, boy." "Well,  I
sort of glanced through  it a couple of times," I told him. I didn't want to
hurt his feelings. He was  mad about history. "You glanced through  it, eh?"
he  said--very sarcastic. "Your, ah,  exam paper is over there on top of  my
chiffonier. On top of the  pile. Bring it here, please." It was a very dirty
trick,  but  I  went  over and brought  it  over  to  him--I didn't have any
alternative  or anything. Then I sat down on his cement bed again.  Boy, you
can't imagine how  sorry I was getting that I'd stopped by to say good-by to
him. He started handling my exam  paper like it was a turd or something. "We
studied the  Egyptians  from  November  4th to December 2nd,"  he said. "You
chose to write about them for the optional essay question. Would you care to
hear  what you had to say?" "No, sir,  not  very much,"  I  said. He read it
anyway, though. You  can't stop a  teacher  when they  want to do something.
They just do it.

     The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the
northern sections  of Africa.  The latter  as we  all  know is  the  largest
continent in the Eastern Hemisphere.

     I had to sit  there  and listen to that crap.  It certainly was a dirty
trick.

     The Egyptians  are  extremely  interesting  to  us  today  for  various
reasons. Modern science would still like to know what the secret ingredients
were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people  so that their
faces would not  rot for  innumerable centuries. This interesting  riddle is
still quite a challenge to modern science in the twentieth century.

     He stopped  reading and put my  paper down.  I was beginning to sort of
hate  him. "Your essay, shall  we  say, ends there,"  he  said in this  very
sarcastic voice. You  wouldn't think such  an old guy would be so  sarcastic
and all. "However, you dropped me a little note, at the bottom of the page,"
he said. "I know I did," I said. I  said  it very fast  because  I wanted to
stop him before he started reading that out loud. But you couldn't stop him.
He was hot as a firecracker.

     DEAR  MR. SPENCER  [he read out  loud].  That is all  I know  about the
Egyptians. I  can't  seem  to  get  very interested in  them  although  your
lectures are very  interesting.  It is all  right  with me if  you flunk  me
though as I am flunking  everything else except English anyway. Respectfully
yours, HOLDEN CAULFIELD.

     He put my goddam paper down then and looked at me like he'd just beaten
hell out  of me in ping-pong or something. I don't  think I'll ever  forgive
him for reading me that crap out loud. I wouldn't've read it out loud to him
if he'd written it--I really wouldn't. In the  first place, I'd only written
that damn note so  that he wouldn't feel too bad about  flunking me. "Do you
blame me for flunking you, boy?" he said.  "No, sir! I  certainly  don't," I
said. I wished to hell  he'd stop calling me "boy"  all the time.  He  tried
chucking my  exam paper  on the bed when  he  was through with it.  Only, he
missed again, naturally. I had to get up again and pick it up and  put it on
top of the Atlantic Monthly. It's boring to do that every two minutes. "What
would you have done in my place?" he  said. "Tell the truth, boy." Well, you
could see  he really felt pretty lousy about flunking me. So I shot the bull
for a while.  I told him I was a real moron, and all that stuff. I  told him
how I would've done exactly the same thing if I'd been in his place, and how
most people didn't appreciate how tough it is being a  teacher. That kind of
stuff. The old bull. The  funny thing is, though, I was sort  of thinking of
something else while I shot the bull. I live in New York, and I was thinking
about  the  lagoon in  Central  Park,  down near Central  Park  South. I was
wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home,  and if it was,  where
did the ducks go. I was wondering where the ducks went  when the lagoon  got
all icy and frozen over.  I wondered if  some guy came  in a truck  and took
them  away  to a  zoo  or something. Or if  they just flew away.  I'm lucky,
though. I mean I  could shoot the old bull to  old  Spencer and  think about
those  ducks at  the same time. It's funny. You don't have to think too hard
when you talk to a teacher. All of a sudden, though, he interrupted me while
I was shooting the bull.  He was always  interrupting you.  "How do you feel
about all this, boy? I'd be very interested to know. Very  interested." "You
mean about my flunking out of Pencey and all?" I said. I sort of wished he'd
cover up  his  bumpy  chest.  It  wasn't such a  beautiful view. "If I'm not
mistaken,  I believe you also  had some difficulty at the Whooton School and
at Elkton Hills."  He didn't say it just sarcastic, but sort of nasty,  too.
"I didn't have too much difficulty  at Elkton Hills," I  told him. "I didn't
exactly  flunk  out or anything. I just quit,  sort  of." "Why, may I  ask?"
"Why? Oh, well it's  a long story, sir.  I  mean it's pretty complicated." I
didn't  feel like going  into  the  whole thing with him.  He  wouldn't have
understood  it anyway.  It wasn't up his  alley at all. One of  the  biggest
reasons I left Elkton  Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's
all. They  were coming in the  goddam  window.  For  instance, they had this
headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was  the phoniest bastard I ever met in  my life.
Ten times worse  than  old Thurmer. On Sundays,  for instance, old Haas went
around shaking hands with everybody's parents when  they drove up to school.
He'd be  charming as  hell and  all.  Except  if  some  boy  had  little old
funny-looking parents. You should've seen the way he did with my  roommate's
parents.  I  mean if  a boy's mother  was  sort of  fat or corny-looking  or
something, and  if somebody's father was one  of those  guys that wear those
suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Hans
would  just shake  hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he'd
go talk, for maybe  a  half an  hour, with somebody else's  parents. I can't
stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I
hated that goddam Elkton Hills. Old Spencer  asked me something then, but  I
didn't hear him. I was thinking about old Haas. "What, sir?" I said. "Do you
have any particular qualms about leaving Pencey?" "Oh, I have a  few qualms,
all right. Sure... but  not  too  many. Not yet,  anyway. I guess  it hasn't
really hit me yet.  It takes things a  while to hit me.  All I'm doing right
now is thinking about going  home Wednesday.  I'm a  moron."  "Do  you  feel
absolutely no concern for your future, boy?" "Oh, I feel some concern for my
future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do." I thought  about it for a minute. "But
not too much, I guess. Not too much, I guess." "You will," old Spencer said.
"You will, boy. You will when it's too late." I didn't like hearing  him say
that. It made me sound dead or something. It was very depressing. "I guess I
will,"  I said. "I'd like to put some sense in that head of  yours, boy. I'm
trying to help you. I'm trying to help you, if  I  can." He really was, too.
You could see that. But  it was just that we were too much on opposite sides
ot the  pole, that's  all. "I know you are, sir," I said. "Thanks  a lot. No
kidding. I appreciate  it. I  really do." I got up from the bed then. Boy, I
couldn't've sat there  another ten minutes to  save my life. "The thing  is,
though, I have to get going now. I have quite  a bit of equipment at the gym
I have to get to take home with  me. I  really do." He  looked up  at me and
started nodding again, with this very serious look on his face. I felt sorry
as hell for him, all of a  sudden. But I just couldn't hang around there any
longer, the way we were on  opposite sides of the  pole, and the way he kept
missing  the  bed  whenever  he chucked something at it,  and  his  sad  old
bathrobe with his chest showing, and that grippy smell  of  Vicks Nose Drops
all over  the place. "Look, sir. Don't worry about me," I said. "I mean  it.
I'll be all right. I'm just going  through a phase right now. Everybody goes
through phases and all,  don't  they?" "I  don't know, boy. I don't know." I
hate  it when somebody answers that way. "Sure.  Sure, they do,"  I said. "I
mean  it,  sir.  Please don't worry about me." I sort  of put my hand on his
shoulder. "Okay?" I said. "Wouldn't you  like  a cup of hot chocolate before
you go? Mrs. Spencer would be--" "I would, I really would, but the thing is,
I have to get going. I have to go right to the gym. Thanks, though. Thanks a
lot, sir."  Then we shook hands. And all that crap. It  made me feel sad  as
hell, though. "I'll drop  you a line, sir.  Take care  of your grippe, now."
"Good-by, boy." After  I  shut the door and started back to the living room,
he yelled something at me, but I couldn't exactly hear him.  I'm pretty sure
he  yelled "Good luck!" at me,  I hope  to  hell not. I'd  never  yell "Good
luck!" at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it.
     3
     I'm the most terrific liar you ever  saw in  your  life. It's awful. If
I'm on  my way to  the  store to buy a  magazine, even, and somebody asks me
where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible. So
when  I told old Spencer I had  to  go  to the gym and get my  equipment and
stuff, that was a sheer lie. I don't  even  keep my goddam equipment in  the
gym. Where I  lived  at Pencey, I lived  in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of
the  new  dorms. It was only for  juniors  and seniors. I  was a junior.  My
roommate was a senior. It was named after this guy Ossenburger that went  to
Pencey. He made a pot of dough in  the undertaking business after he got out
of Pencey. What  he did, he  started these undertaking parlors all over  the
country that you  could get  members  of  your family  buried for about five
bucks  apiece. You should see old Ossenburger.  He probably just shoves them
in  a sack  and dumps  them  in the river. Anyway,  he gave Pencey a pile of
dough,  and they  named our wing alter  him. The first football game  of the
year, he came up  to  school in this big goddam Cadillac, and  we all had to
stand up in the grandstand  and give him a locomotive--that's a cheer. Then,
the  next morning, in chapel, be made a speech that lasted about  ten hours.
He started off  with about fifty corny jokes, just to show us what a regular
guy  he was. Very  big deal.  Then  he started telling us  how he was  never
ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or something, to get right down
his knees and pray to God. He told us we should  always pray to God--talk to
Him and all--wherever we  were. He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our
buddy and  all.  He said  he talked to Jesus all the  time. Even when he was
driving his car. That killed me.  I  just see the big phony bastard shifting
into first  gear and asking Jesus  to send him  a few more stiffs. The  only
good part of his speech was right in the middle of it. He was telling us all
about what a swell guy he was, what a hot-shot and all, then all of a sudden
this guy sitting in  the  row  in  front of me,  Edgar Marsalla,  laid  this
terrific fart.  It was a  very crude thing to do, in  chapel and all, but it
was also quite amusing. Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off. Hardly
anybody laughed out  loud, and old Ossenburger  made out like he didn't even
hear it, but old  Thurmer,  the headmaster, was sitting right next to him on
the rostrum and all, and you could tell he heard it.  Boy, was  he  sore. He
didn't  say anything then,  but  the next night he  made us have  compulsory
study hall  in the academic building  and  he came up and made  a speech. He
said that the boy that had  created  the disturbance in chapel wasn't fit to
go  to Pencey.  We tried to  get  old Marsalla to rip off another one, right
while  old Thurmer was making  his speech, but be wasn't in the right  mood.
Anyway,  that's where I lived at Pencey.  Old Ossenburger Memorial  Wing, in
the new dorms. It was pretty nice to get back to my  room, after I left  old
Spencer, because everybody was down at the game, and  the heat was on in our
room, for a change. It felt sort of cosy. I took off my coat and my tie  and
unbuttoned my shirt collar; and then  I put on this  hat  that I'd bought in
New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat, with one of  those very,
very long peaks. I saw it in the window of this sports store when we got out
of the subway, just after I noticed I'd lost all  the goddam foils.  It only
cost  me a buck. The way I wore it,  I swung  the old peak way around to the
back--very corny, I'll admit,  but I liked it that way. I looked good  in it
that way. Then I got this book I was reading and sat down in my chair. There
were two chairs in every room. I  had one and my roommate,  Ward Stradlater,
had one. The arms were in sad shape, because everybody was always sitting on
them, but  they  were pretty comfortable chairs. The book  I was reading was
this book I took out of the library by mistake. They gave me the wrong book,
and  I didn't  notice  it till I got back  to my room. They gave me  Out  of
Africa, by  Isak Dinesen. I thought it was going to stink, but it didn't. It
was a very  good  book. I'm  quite illiterate, but I read a lot. My favorite
author is my brother D. B., and my next favorite is Ring Lardner. My brother
gave me a  book by  Ring  Lardner  for my birthday,  just  before I went  to
Pencey. It had these very funny, crazy plays in it, and then it had this one
story about a traffic cop that falls in love with this very cute girl that's
always  speeding.  Only,  he's  married, the cop, so be  can't marry her  or
anything. Then  this girl  gets killed, because she's  always speeding. That
story just about killed me. What I like best is a book that's at least funny
once  in a while. I read a lot of classical books, like  The  Return of  the
Native and all, and I like them, and I read a lot of war books and mysteries
and all, but they don't knock me out too much. What really knocks me  out is
a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote
it was a  terrific  friend of yours and you  could call  him up on the phone
whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though. I wouldn't mind
calling this Isak Dinesen up. And Ring  Lardner,  except that  D. B. told me
he's dead. You take that book Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham, though.
I  read it last summer. It's a pretty good book and all, but I wouldn't want
to call Somerset Maugham up. I don't know, He just isn't the kind of guy I'd
want to call  up, that's  all.  I'd rather call old Thomas  Hardy up. I like
that Eustacia Vye. Anyway,  I put on my  new hat  and  sat down and  started
reading that book Out of Africa. I'd read it already,  but I  wanted to read
certain parts over  again. I'd only read about  three pages,  though, when I
heard somebody  coming through the shower curtains. Even without looking up,
I knew  right  away who it  was.  It was Robert Ackley, this guy that roomed
right next to me. There  was a shower right  between every two rooms  in our
wing,  and about eighty-five times a day old Ackley barged in  on me. He was
probably the only guy in the whole dorm, besides me, that wasn't down at the
game.  He hardly  ever  went  anywhere. He was a very peculiar guy. He was a
senior,  and he'd been at Pencey  the whole  four  years and all, but nobody
ever called  him  anything except "Ackley."  Not  even  Herb Gale,  his  own
roommate, ever called  him "Bob" or even "Ack." If he ever gets married, his
own wife'll probably call him "Ackley." He was one of these very, very tall,
round-shouldered guys--he  was about  six  four--with lousy teeth. The whole
time  he roomed next to me, I never even once saw him  brush his teeth. They
always looked mossy and awful, and he damn near made you sick if you saw him
in the dining  room  with  his mouth full  of mashed  potatoes and  peas  or
something. Besides that, he  had  a lot of pimples. Not just on his forehead
or his chin, like most guys, but all over his whole face. And not only that,
he had a terrible personality. He was also sort of a nasty guy. I wasn't too
crazy  about him, to tell  you the  truth.  I could feel him standing on the
shower ledge, right behind my chair, taking a look to see if  Stradlater was
around.  He  hated Stradlater's  guts  and he  never  came  in  the  room if
Stradlater  was  around. He hated everybody's guts, damn  near. He came down
off the shower ledge and came in the room. "Hi," he said. He always  said it
like  he was terrifically bored or terrifically tired. He didn't want you to
think he was visiting you or anything. He  wanted you to think  he'd come in
by mistake, for God's sake. "Hi," I said, but I didn't look up from my book.
With a guy like Ackley, if  you  looked up from your book you were a  goner.
You were a goner anyway, but not as quick if you  didn't look up right away.
He  started  walking  around the room, very slow and all, the way  he always
did, picking up your personal stuff off your desk and chiffonier.  He always
picked up your  personal stuff and looked at it.  Boy,  could he get on your
nerves sometimes. "How was the fencing?"  he said. He just wanted me to quit
reading and  enjoying myself. He  didn't give a damn about the  fencing. "We
win, or what?"  he  said. "Nobody won," I said. Without looking up,  though.
"What?" he said. He  always  made you  say everything twice. "Nobody won," I
said. I sneaked  a  look to see what  he was  fiddling  around  with  on  my
chiffonier. He was looking at this  picture of this girl I used to go around
with in New York, Sally Hayes. He must've picked up that goddam picture  and
looked at it  at least five thousand times since I got it. He  always put it
back in the wrong  place, too,  when he was finished. He did it on  purpose.
You could tell. "Nobody won," he said. "How  come?" "I left the goddam foils
and stuff on the subway." I still didn't look up at him. "On the subway, for
Chrissake!  Ya lost them,  ya mean?" "We got  on the wrong  subway. I had to
keep getting up to look at a goddam map on the wall." He came over and stood
right in my light. "Hey," I said. "I've read this same sentence about twenty
times  since you came  in." Anybody  else  except Ackley  would've taken the
goddam  hint. Not him, though. "Think they'll make  ya pay for em?" he said.
"I don't know, and I don't give a damn. How 'bout sitting down or something,
Ackley kid? You're right in my goddam light."  He  didn't like  it when  you
called him  "Ackley kid."  He was always  telling  me I  was  a goddam  kid,
because I was sixteen and he was  eighteen. It drove him  mad  when I called
him "Ackley kid." He kept standing there. He was exactly the kind  of  a guy
that wouldn't  get  out of  your light when you  asked him  to. He'd  do it,
finally, but it took him a lot longer if you asked him to.  "What the hellya
reading?" he  said.  "Goddam book." He shoved my book back with  his hand so
that  he could see the name of it. "Any good?" he  said. "This  sentence I'm
reading is  terrific." I  can be quite sarcastic  when I'm  in the  mood. He
didn't get  It, though. He started walking around the room again, picking up
all my personal stuff, and Stradlater's. Finally, I put my  book down on the
floor.  You  couldn't  read  anything with  a guy like Ackley around. It was
impossible.  I  slid way  the hell  down in  my chair and watched old Ackley
making himself  at home. I was  feeling sort  of tired from the trip to  New
York and all,  and I started yawning. Then I started horsing around a little
bit. Sometimes  I horse around quite a lot, just to keep from getting bored.
What I did was, I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front,
then pulled it way down over  my eyes.  That way, I couldn't  see  a  goddam
thing. "I think  I'm going blind," I said in this very hoarse voice. "Mother
darling, everything's getting so  dark in  here." "You're nuts. I  swear  to
God," Ackley said. "Mother darling, give me your hand, Why won't you give me
your hand?" "For  Chrissake, grow  up." I started groping around in front of
me,  like  a blind guy, but without getting up or  anything. I kept  saying,
"Mother darling, why  won't  you give  me  your hand?" I  was  only  horsing
around, naturally. That stuff gives  me a bang sometimes. Besides, I know it
annoyed  hell out of old Ackley. He always brought out the old sadist in me.
I  was  pretty  sadistic with him  quite often. Finally, I quit,  though.  I
pulled the peak around to the back again, and relaxed. "Who  belongsa this?"
Ackley said. He was holding my roommate's knee supporter up to show me. That
guy  Ackley'd  pick up anything.  He'd  even  pick up  your  jock  strap  or
something. I told him it  was Stradlater's. So he chucked it on Stradlater's
bed. He  got it off Stradlater's chiffonier, so he chucked it on the bed. He
came over and sat down on  the arm of Stradlater's  chair. He never sat down
in a chair. Just always  on the arm.  "Where  the hellja get that  hat?"  he
said.  "New  York." "How  much?"  "A buck."  "You  got robbed."  He  started
cleaning  his goddam  fingernails with the end  of a  match.  He was  always
cleaning his  fingernails.  It  was funny, in a  way. His  teeth were always
mossy-looking, and his  ears  were  always dirty as hell, but  he was always
cleaning  his fingernails. I guess he thought that made him a very neat guy.
He took another look at my  hat while he was cleaning them. "Up home we wear
a  hat like that to  shoot deer in, for Chrissake," he said. "That's a  deer
shooting hat." "Like hell it is."  I took it off and looked at it. I sort of
closed  one  eye, like I  was  taking aim  at it. "This is a people shooting
hat," I said. "I shoot people in this hat."  "Your folks know you got kicked
out yet?" "Nope." "Where  the hell's  Stradlater at, anyway?"  "Down  at the
game. He's got a date." I yawned.  I was yawning all over the place. For one
thing, the room was too damn hot. It made you sleepy. At  Pencey, you either
froze  to death  or  died of the heat. "The  great Stradlater," Ackley said.
"--Hey. Lend me  your scissors a second,  willya? Ya got 'em handy?" "No.  I
packed them  already. They're way  in the top  of  the  closet."  "Get 'em a
second,  willya?" Ackley said, "I got this hangnail I want to cut  off."  He
didn't care if you'd  packed something or not and had it way in the  top  of
the  closet.  I got them for him though. I nearly got  killed doing it, too.
The  second  I opened the closet door,  Stradlater's  tennis  racket--in its
wooden press  and all--fell right  on my head. It  made  a big clunk, and it
hurt like hell. It damn near killed old Ackley, though. He started  laughing
in  this  very high falsetto voice. He kept  laughing  the whole time I  was
taking down my suitcase and getting the scissors out for him. Something like
that--a  guy getting hit  on the head with  a rock or something--tickled the
pants off Ackley. "You have a damn good sense of  humor, Ackley kid," I told
him.  "You  know that?" I handed  him  the scissors. "Lemme be your manager.
I'll  get  you on the goddam radio." I  sat down in my  chair again,  and he
started cutting  his  big horny-looking nails. "How 'bout using the table or
something?" I  said. "Cut  'em  over the  table, willya? I  don't  feel like
walking  on your crumby nails in my  bare feet  tonight."  He kept right  on
cutting them over the  floor, though. What lousy manners. I mean  it. "Who's
Stradlater's date?"  he  said. He was always  keeping tabs on who Stradlater
was dating, even though he hated Stradlater's guts. "I don't know. Why?" "No
reason. Boy, I  can't stand  that sonuvabitch. He's one sonuvabitch I really
can't  stand." "He's crazy about  you. He told me he  thinks you're a goddam
prince,"  I said. I  call  people a  "prince" quite  often  when I'm horsing
around. It keeps me from getting bored or something. "He's got this superior
attitude all the  time," Ackley said.  "I just can't stand the  sonuvabitch.
You'd  think  he--" "Do  you mind cutting your nails over the table, hey?" I
said. "I've asked you about fifty--" "He's got this goddam superior attitude
all  the  time,"  Ackley  said.  "I  don't  even  think the  sonuvabitch  is
intelligent. He thinks he is. He thinks he's about the most--"  "Ackley! For
Chrissake. Willya please cut your  crumby nails over  the table?  I've asked
you fifty times." He started cutting his nails over the table, for a change.
The only  way  he ever  did anything was if you yelled at him. I watched him
for a while.  Then I said, "The reason you're  sore at Stradlater is because
he said that stuff about brushing your teeth once in a while. He didn't mean
to insult you, for cryin' out loud. He  didn't say it right or anything, but
he  didn't  mean anything insulting. All  he meant was you'd look better and
feel better if you  sort of brushed your teeth once in a while." "I brush my
teeth. Don't gimme that." "No, you  don't. I've seen you,  and you don't," I
said. I didn't say it nasty, though. I felt sort of sorry for him, in a way.
I mean  it isn't too nice, naturally, if somebody tells you  you don't brush
your teeth. "Stradlater's  all right He's not too bad,"  I  said. "You don't
know  him,  thats the trouble." "I  still  say  he's a  sonuvabitch.  He's a
conceited sonuvabitch." "He's  conceited,  but he's very  generous  in  some
things. He really is," I said. "Look.  Suppose, for instance, Stradlater was
wearing a  tie or something that you liked.  Say  he  had a tie  on that you
liked a helluva lot--I'm just giving you an example, now. You know what he'd
do? He'd probably take it off and  give it ta  you. He really would. Or--you
know what he'd do? He'd leave it on your bed or something. But he'd give you
the goddam tie. Most guys would probably just--" "Hell," Ackley  said. "If I
had his dough, I would, too." "No, you wouldn't." I shook my  head. "No, you
wouldn't, Ackley kid. If you had his  dough, you'd be one of  the biggest--"
"Stop calling me 'Ackley kid,' God damn it. I'm old enough to be  your lousy
father." "No, you're not." Boy, he could really be aggravating sometimes. He
never missed a  chance to let you know you were sixteen and he was eighteen.
"In the first place, I wouldn't let you in my goddam family," I said. "Well,
just  cut  out  calling me--"  All  of  a  sudden the  door opened, and  old
Stradlater barged  in,  in a  big  hurry.  He was  always  in  a  big hurry.
Everything was  a very big deal. He  came over to me and  gave  me these two
playful as  hell slaps on  both cheeks--which is something that  can be very
annoying.  'Listen,"  he said. "You going out anywheres special tonight?" "I
don't know. I might. What the hell's it doing out--snowing?" He had snow all
over his  coat. "Yeah. Listen. If you're not going out anyplace special, how
'bout  lending  me your  hound's-tooth jacket?" "Who  won the game?" I said.
"It's only the half. We're leaving," Stradlater said. "No kidding, you gonna
use your hound's-tooth tonight or not? I  spilled some crap all over my gray
flannel." "No, but I don't want you stretching it with your goddam shoulders
and all," I said. We were practically the same heighth, but he weighed about
twice as much as I did. He had these very  broad shoulders. "I won't stretch
it."  He went over to the  closet in  a big hurry.  "How'sa boy, Ackley?" he
said to  Ackley. He  was at least a pretty  friendly guy, Stradlater. It was
partly a phony kind of friendly, but at least he always said hello to Ackley
and all. Ackley just sort of grunted when he said  "How'sa boy?" He wouldn't
answer him, but  he didn't have guts enough not to  at least grunt.  Then he
said to me, "I think I'll get going. See ya later." "Okay," I said. He never
exactly broke your heart when he went back to  his own room.  Old Stradlater
started taking off his coat and tie and all. "I think maybe I'll take a fast
shave," he said.  He had a pretty heavy beard. He really  did. "Where's your
date?" I asked him. "She's waiting  in the  Annex." He went out of  the room
with  his toilet kit and towel under his arm.  No shirt on or  anything.  He
always walked around in his bare torso because he thought he had a damn good
build. He did, too. I have to admit it.
     4
     I didn't have  anything  special to do,  so  I went down to the can and
chewed the rag with him while he was  shaving. We were the only ones in  the
can, because everybody was still  down at  the game. It  was hot as hell and
the  windows  were  all steamy. There were  about  ten washbowls,  all right
against the wall. Stradlater had the middle one. I sat down on the one right
next to him and  started  turning the cold  water on  and  off--this nervous
habit I have. Stradlater  kept whistling 'Song of India" while he shaved. He
had one of those very piercing whistles that are practically never  in tune,
and he  always picked out  some song that's hard to whistle even if you're a
good whistler, like "Song of India" or "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." He could
really mess a song up. You  remember I said before that Ackley was a slob in
his  personal  habits?  Well,  so was Stradlater, but in  a  different  way.
Stradlater  was  more  of  a  secret  slob.  He  always  looked  all  right,
Stradlater, but for instance, you should've seen the razor he shaved himself
with. It  was always rusty as hell and full of lather and hairs and crap. He
never cleaned  it  or anything.  He always looked good when he  was finished
fixing himself up, but he was a secret slob anyway,  if you knew him the way
I  did. The reason he fixed himself up to look good was because he was madly
in love with himself. He  thought he  was the handsomest guy  in the Western
Hemisphere. He  was pretty handsome, too--I'll  admit it. But  he was mostly
the kind of a handsome guy that if your parents saw his picture in your Year
Book,  they'd right away say, "Who's  this boy?" I mean he was mostly a Year
Book kind of handsome guy. I knew  a lot of guys at  Pencey I thought were a
lot handsomer than  Stradlater, but  they wouldn't look handsome  if you saw
their  pictures  in the Year Book. They'd look  like  they  had big noses or
their ears stuck out. I've  had that  experience  frequently.  Anyway, I was
sitting on the  washbowl  next to  where  Stradlater  was  shaving, sort  of
turning the water on and off.  I still had my  red  hunting hat on, with the
peak around to the back and all. I really got a bang out of that hat. "Hey,"
Stradlater said.  "Wanna  do me  a  big  favor?" "What?"  I  said.  Not  too
enthusiastic. He was always asking you to do  him  a big favor. You  take  a
very handsome guy, or  a guy that thinks he's a  real hot-shot,  and they're
always  asking you to do them a big favor. Just  because they're crazy about
themseif,  they think  you're crazy  about them, too,  and that  you're just
dying  to  do  them a  favor. It's  sort  of funny, in a way. "You goin' out
tonight?" he said. "I might. I might not. I don't know. Why?" "I got about a
hundred pages to read for history for Monday," he said. "How 'bout writing a
composition for me, for English? I'll  be up the  creek if I  don't get  the
goddam  thing  in by  Monday, the reason I ask. How  'bout  it?" It was very
ironical. It  really was. "I'm the one  that's  flunking  out of the  goddam
place, and you're  asking  me to  write you a goddam composition,"  I  said.
"Yeah, I know.  The thing is, though, I'll be up the creek if I don't get it
in. Be  a  buddy.  Be a  buddyroo. Okay?"  I  didn't  answer him right away.
Suspense is  good  for some  bastards like Stradlater. "What  on?"  I  said.
"Anything. Anything descriptive. A  room.  Or a house. Or something you once
lived in or something-- you know. Just as long as it's descriptive as hell."
He gave out a big yawn while he  said that. Which is something that gives me
a royal pain in the ass. I mean if somebody yawns right while they're asking
you to do them a goddam favor. "Just don't do it too good, is all," he said.
"That sonuvabitch Hartzell thinks you're a hot-shot in English, and he knows
you're my roommate. So I mean don't  stick all the commas and  stuff  in the
right place." That's something else  that  gives me a royal pain. I  mean if
you're  good at  writing  compositions  and  somebody  starts talking  about
commas. Stradlater  was always  doing that.  He wanted you to think that the
only reason he  was lousy at  writing  compositions was because he stuck all
the commas in the wrong place. He was a little bit like Ackley,  that way. I
once  sat next to Ackley  at this basketball game. We had a  terrific guy on
the team,  Howie Coyle, that could sink them from the  middle  of the floor,
without  even  touching the backboard or anything.  Ackley kept  saying, the
whole goddam game, that Coyle had a perfect build for basketball. God, how I
hate that stuff.  I got bored sitting on that washbowl after  a while,  so I
backed up a few feet and started doing this tap  dance, just for the hell of
it. I was just amusing myself. I can't really tap-dance or anything, but  it
was  a stone floor in  the  can,  and it was good for tap-dancing. I started
imitating one of those guys in the movies. In one of those musicals.  I hate
the  movies like poison,  but I  get a bang imitating  them.  Old Stradlater
watched me in the mirror while he was shaving. All I need's an audience. I'm
an  exhibitionist. "I'm the goddarn  Governor's son," I said. I was knocking
myself out. Tap-dancing  all over the place. "He doesn't want me to be a tap
dancer.  He  wants me  to  go  to  Oxford.  But  it's in  my  goddam  blood,
tap-dancing." Old  Stradlater  laughed. He didn't have  too  bad a  sense of
humor. "It's the opening night of the Ziegfeld  Follies." I  was getting out
of breath. I have hardly any wind at all. "The leading man can't go on. He's
drunk as a bastard.  So who do  they get to take his place?  Me, that's who.
The little ole goddam Governor's son." "Where'dja  get that hat?" Stradlater
said. He  meant my  hunting hat.  He'd never seen  it  before. I  was out of
breath anyway, so I quit horsing  around. I took off my hat and looked at it
for about  the ninetieth  time.  "I got it in New York  this morning. For  a
buck.  Ya  like  it?" Stradlater  nodded.  "Sharp,"  he  said.  He  was only
flattering me, though,  because right away he said,  "Listen. Are  ya  gonna
write that composition for me? I have to know." "If I get  the time, I will.
If I don't, I won't," I said. I went over and sat down  at the washbowl next
to him again.  "Who's your date?" I  asked him. "Fitzgerald?"  "Hell,  no! I
told ya. I'm through with that pig." "Yeah? Give her to me, boy. No kidding.
She's my type." "Take her... She's too old for you." All of a sudden--for no
good  reason, really, except  that  I was  sort of  in the  mood for horsing
around--I felt like jumping off the washbowl and getting old Stradlater in a
half nelson. That's a wrestling hold, in  case you don't know, where you get
the other guy  around the neck and choke him to  death, if you feel like it.
So I did it. I landed on him like a goddam panther. "Cut it out, Holden, for
Chrissake!"  Stradlater said.  He  didn't feel like horsing  around.  He was
shaving  and all.  "Wuddaya  wanna make me  do--cut my  goddam head  off?" I
didn't let go, though. I  had  a  pretty good half nelson on  him. "Liberate
yourself from my viselike grip." I said.  "Je-sus  Christ." He  put down his
razor,  and all of a sudden jerked his  arms up and sort of broke my hold on
him. He was a very strong guy. I'm a very weak guy. "Now, cut out the crap,"
he said. He started shaving himself all over again. He always shaved himself
twice, to look gorgeous. With his crumby old razor. "Who is  your date if it
isn't Fitzgerald?" I asked  him.  I sat  down  on  the washbowl  next to him
again.  "That  Phyllis  Smith babe?"  "No.  It was supposed to  he, but  the
arrangements got all screwed up. I  got  Bud  Thaw's  girl's roommate now...
Hey. I almost forgot. She knows you." "Who does?" I said. "My date." "Yeah?"
I said. "What's  her name?" I was pretty  interested.  "I'm  thinking... Uh.
Jean Gallagher."  Boy,  I nearly  dropped  dead  when  he  said that.  "Jane
Gallagher," I  said. I  even  got up from  the washbowl when he said that. I
damn near dropped dead. "You're damn right I know her. She practically lived
right  next door  to  me,  the  summer before last.  She  had  this big damn
Doberman pinscher. That's how I met her. Her dog used to keep coming over in
our--" "You're right in my light, Holden, for Chrissake,"  Stradlater  said.
"Ya have  to stand right  there?" Boy, was I excited, though. I really  was.
"Where is  she?"  I  asked him. "I oughta go  down  and say  hello to her or
something. Where is she? In the Annex?" "Yeah." "How'd she happen to mention
me? Does  she go  to  B. M. now?  She said she might  go there. She said she
might go to Shipley, too. I thought she went to Shipley. How'd she happen to
mention  me?"  I  was pretty  excited.  I  really was.  "I don't  know,  for
Chrissake. Lift up,  willya?  You're on  my towel,"  Stradlater said.  I was
sitting on his stupid  towel. "Jane  Gallagher," I said. I couldn't get over
it. "Jesus H. Christ."  Old Stradlater was putting Vitalis  on his  hair. My
Vitalis. "She's a dancer," I  said.  "Ballet and  all.  She used to practice
about two  hours every day,  right in the middle of  the hottest weather and
all. She was worried that it might make her legs lousy--all thick and all. I
used to play checkers with  her all  the time." "You used to  play what with
her  all  the  time?"  "Checkers."  "Checkers,  for  Chrissake!" "Yeah.  She
wouldn't move any of her  kings.  What she'd do, when she'd get a  king, she
wouldn't move  it. She'd  just leave it in the back row. She'd  get them all
lined up in the back row. Then she'd  never use them. She just liked the way
they  looked  when they were  all  in the  back row."  Stradlater didn't say
anything. That kind of  stuff  doesn't  interest  most people.  "Her  mother
belonged to the same club we did," I said. "I used to caddy once in a while,
just to make some dough. I  caddy'd for her mother a couple  of  times.  She
went  around in  about  a  hundred and seventy, for nine  holes." Stradlater
wasn't hardly listening. He was combing  his  gorgeous locks.  "I  oughta go
down and at least  say hello to her," I said. "Why don'tcha?" "I  will, in a
minute." He started parting his  hair all over again.  It took him about  an
hour to comb his hair. "Her mother and father were divorced. Her mother  was
married again  to some booze  hound," I said. "Skinny guy with hairy legs. I
remember him. He wore shorts all the time. Jane said he was supposed to be a
playwright or some goddam thing, but all I ever saw him do was booze all the
time and listen to every single goddam mystery program on the radio. And run
around  the  goddam  house,  naked.  With  Jane  around, and  all."  "Yeah?"
Stradlater said. That really  interested him. About  the booze hound running
around  the  house  naked,  with Jane  around.  Stradlater was  a  very sexy
bastard.  "She had a lousy childhood. I'm not kidding." That didn't interest
Stradlater,  though. Only  very sexy stuff  interested him. "Jane Gallagher.
Jesus... I couldn't  get her off my mind.  I  really couldn't. "I  oughta go
down and say hello  to  her, at least." "Why the hell  don'tcha,  instead of
keep  saying  it?"  Stradlater  said. I  walked over  to the window, but you
couldn't see out of it, it was so steamy from all the heat in the can.. "I'm
not in the  mood right now," I said. I wasn't, either. You have to be in the
mood for those things. "I thought she went to Shipley.  I could've sworn she
went to Shipley." I walked around the can for a  little while. I didn't have
anything  else to do. "Did she enjoy the game?" I said. "Yeah, I guess so. I
don't know."  "Did she tell  you we used to play checkers all the  time,  or
anything?"  "I  don't know. For Chrissake, I only just met her,"  Stradlater
said. He was finished combing his goddam gorgeous  hair. He was putting away
all his  crumby  toilet articles. "Listen. Give  her  my  regards,  willya?"
"Okay,"  Stradlater  said,  but I knew he probably wouldn't. You take  a guy
like Stradlater, they never give your regards to people. He went back to the
room,  but I stuck around in  the can for  a while, thinking about old Jane.
Then I went back to  the room, too. Stradlater was putting  on  his tie,  in
front of the mirror, when I got there. He spent around half his  goddam life
in front of the mirror. I sat down in my chair and sort of watched him for a
while. "Hey," I said.  "Don't tell  her  I got  kicked out, willya?" "Okay."
That was one good thing  about Stradlater. You didn't have to  explain every
goddam little thing  with him, the way you had  to do with Ackley. Mostly, I
guess, because he wasn't  too interested. That's really why.  Ackley, it was
different.  Ackley  was a  very  nosy bastard. He put  on  my  hound's-tooth
jacket. "Jesus, now, try not to stretch it all over the place"  I said.  I'd
only worn it about twice. "I won't. Where the hell's my cigarettes?" "On the
desk."  He never knew  where he left anything. "Under  your muffler." He put
them in his coat pocket--my coat pocket. I pulled the peak of my hunting hat
around to the front all of  a sudden, for a  change. I was getting  sort  of
nervous, all of  a sudden. I'm quite a nervous  guy. "Listen, where ya going
on your date with her?" I asked him. "Ya know yet?" "I don't know. New York,
if we have  time. She only  signed out  for nine-thirty,  for Chrissake."  I
didn't  like  the way he said it, so  I  said, "The reason she did that, she
probably just  didn't know  what  a handsome, charming bastard you  are.  If
she'd  known,  she  probably  would've  signed  out for nine-thirty  in  the
morning." "Goddam right," Stradlater said. You couldn't rile him too easily.
He was  too conceited.  "No  kidding,  now. Do that composition  for me," he
said. He had his coat on,  and he was all ready to go. "Don't knock yourself
out or  anything,  but  just  make it descriptive as hell.  Okay?" I  didn't
answer him.  I didn't  feel like it. All  I said was, "Ask her if she  still
keeps all her kings in the back row." "Okay," Stradlater said, but I knew he
wouldn't. "Take it easy,  now." He banged  the  hell  out of the room. I sat
there  for about a half hour after he left. I mean I just sat  in  my chair,
not doing anything. I kept thinking about Jane, and about Stradlater  having
a  date with  her and all.  It  made me so  nervous I  nearly  went crazy. I
already told you what a sexy bastard Stradlater was. All of a sudden, Ackley
barged back  in again, through the damn shower  curtains, as usual. For once
in my  stupid  life, I was  really glad to see him. He took my mind off  the
other stuff. He stuck around  till around dinnertime, talking about all  the
guys at  Pencey that  he hated their guts, and squeezing  this big pimple on
his chin.  He didn't even  use  his  handkerchief. I  don't  even  think the
bastard had  a handkerchief, if you want to know the truth. I  never saw him
use one, anyway.
     5
     We  always  had the  same meal  on Saturday  nights  at Pencey. It  was
supposed to be a big deal, because they gave you  steak. I'll bet a thousand
bucks the reason they did that was because a lot of guys' parents came up to
school on Sunday, and old Thurmer probably figured  everybody's mother would
ask their darling  boy  what he had  for dinner  last night,  and  he'd say,
"Steak."  What  a  racket.  You should've  seen the steaks.  They were these
little hard, dry  jobs that you could  hardly even cut. You always got these
very lumpy mashed potatoes  on steak  night,  and for dessert  you got Brown
Betty, which nobody ate, except  maybe  the little kids  in the lower school
that  didn't  know any better--and  guys like Ackley that ate everything. It
was nice, though, when we got out of the dining room. There were about three
inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down like a madman. It
looked pretty  as hell,  and  we all started throwing snowballs  and horsing
around all  over the place.  It was very childish,  but everybody was really
enjoying themselves. I didn't have  a date or anything, so I and this friend
of mine, Mal Brossard, that was on  the wrestling team, decided  we'd take a
bus into Agerstown and have a hamburger and maybe see a lousy movie. Neither
of us  felt  like sitting  around  on  our ass all night. I asked Mal if  he
minded if Ackley came along with us.  The reason I asked was because  Ackley
never did  anything on Saturday night,  except stay in his room  and squeeze
his  pimples or  something. Mal said he  didn't mind  but that he wasn't too
crazy about the  idea. He didn't like Ackley much.  Anyway, we both went  to
our rooms to get  ready and all, and while I was putting  on my galoshes and
crap, I yelled over and asked  old Ackley if  he wanted to go to the movies.
He could hear me all right through the shower curtains, but he didn't answer
me right away. He was the kind of a guy that hates to answer you right away.
Finally  he came over, through the goddam curtains, and stood  on the shower
ledge and  asked who was  going besides  me. He  always  had to know who was
going. I swear, if that guy was shipwrecked somewhere, and you  rescued  him
in a goddam boat,  he'd  want to  know who the  guy was  that was rowing  it
before he'd even get in. I told  him Mal Brossard was going. He  said, "That
bastard...  All right. Wait  a second." You'd  think he was doing  you a big
favor. It took him about five hours to get ready. While he was doing  it,  I
went over  to my  window and opened it and  packed a snowball with  my  bare
hands.  The snow was very good for packing. I  didn't  throw it at anything,
though. I  started to throw it. At a  car that was parked across the street.
But I changed my mind. The car looked so nice  and white. Then I  started to
throw it at  a hydrant, but that looked too nice  and white, too.  Finally I
didn't throw it at anything. All I  did was close the window and walk around
the room with the snowball, packing it harder. A little while later, I still
had it with me when I and Brossnad and Ackley got on the bus. The bus driver
opened  the doors and made me throw  it  out.  I told him  I wasn't going to
chuck it at  anybody, but he wouldn't believe me. People never  believe you.
Brossard and Ackley both  had seen the  picture that  was playing, so all we
did, we just had a couple of hamburgers and played the pinball machine for a
little  while,  then took the bus back to Pencey. I didn't  care  about  not
seeing the movie, anyway. It was supposed to be a comedy, with Cary Grant in
it, and all  that crap.  Besides, I'd been  to the movies with  Brossard and
Ackley before. They  both  laughed like hyenas  at  stuff  that  wasn't even
funny.  I didn't even enjoy sitting next to them in the movies.  It was only
about a quarter to nine  when we  got back to  the dorm.  Old Brossard was a
bridge fiend, and he started looking around the dorm for  a game. Old Ackley
parked  himself in  my room, just for a  change. Only, instead of sitting on
the  arm of Stradlater's chair, he  laid down on my bed, with his face right
on my pillow and all. He  started talking in this very monotonous voice, and
picking at all his pimples. I dropped about a thousand hints, but I couldn't
get rid of him.  All he did was  keep talking in this very monotonous  voice
about some  babe he was  supposed to have had  sexual intercourse  with  the
summer before.  He'd already  told me about it about a hundred times.  Every
time he told it, it was different. One  minute he'd  be giving it  to her in
his  cousin's  Buick, the next minute he'd be giving it  to  her under  some
boardwalk. It was all a  lot of crap, naturally. He  was a virgin if ever  I
saw one. I doubt if  he ever even gave anybody a feel. Anyway, finally I had
to  come right  out  and  tell him  that  I had to  write  a composition for
Stradlater,  and that he had to clear the hell out, so I  could concentrate.
He finally did, but he  took his time  about  it, as usual. After he left, I
put on  my pajamas and bathrobe and my old  hunting hat, and started writing
the  composition.  The thing  was,  I couldn't think of a room or a house or
anything to describe the way Stradlater said he had  to have.  I'm  not  too
crazy about describing rooms and houses anyway. So what I did, I wrote about
my  brother Allie's  baseball mitt.  It was a  very  descriptive subject. It
really was. My brother Allie  had  this  left-handed fielder's  mitt. He was
left-handed. The thing  that was descriptive about  it, though,  was that he
had  poems written all  over the fingers  and the  pocket and everywhere. In
green ink. He wrote them on it  so that he'd  have something to read when he
was in the field and  nobody was up at  bat. He's dead now.  He got leukemia
and died when we were up in Maine, on  July 18, 1946. You'd have liked  him.
He was two  years  younger  than  I  was, but he  was about fifty  times  as
intelligent.  He  was terrifically intelligent.  His  teachers  were  always
writing  letters to my mother,  telling  her what a pleasure it was having a
boy like Allie in their class. And they weren't just shooting the crap. They
really meant it. But it wasn't just that  he was the most intelligent member
in the family. He was also the nicest, in lots of  ways. He never got mad at
anybody. People with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie
never did, and he had very red hair. I'll tell  you what kind of red hair he
had. I started playing golf when I was  only ten years old. I remember once,
the summer I was around twelve, teeing off and all, and having  a hunch that
if I turned around  all  of a  sudden, I'd see  Allie.  So  I did,  and sure
enough,  he was sitting on  his bike outside the fence--there was this fence
that went all around  the course--and he was  sitting there, about a hundred
and fifty yards behind me, watching me tee off.  That's the kind of red hair
he  had.  God, he  was  a nice  kid,  though.  He used  to laugh so  hard at
something he thought of at the dinner table that he just about fell  off his
chair. I was only thirteen,  and  they  were going to have me psychoanalyzed
and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don't  blame them.
I really don't. I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the
goddam windows  with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break
all the windows on  the  station wagon we had that summer, but  my hand  was
already broken and everything by that  time,  and I couldn't do it. It was a
very stupid  thing to do, I'll admit, but  I hardly  didn't even know  I was
doing it, and you didn't know Allie. My hand still hurts me once in  a while
when  it rains and all, and I  can't make  a real fist any more--not a tight
one, I mean--but outside of that I don't care  much. I mean I'm not going to
be a goddam surgeon or a violinist or anything anyway. Anyway, that's what I
wrote Stradlater's composition about. Old Allie's baseball mitt. I  happened
to have it with  me, in  my suitcase, so I  got it out  and  copied down the
poems that were  written on it. All  I had to do was change Allie's name  so
that nobody would know it was my brother and not Stradlater's. I  wasn't too
crazy  about doing it,  but I couldn't think of  anything  else descriptive.
Besides, I sort of liked writing about it. It took me about an hour, because
I had to use  Stradlater's lousy typewriter, and it  kept jamming on me. The
reason  I didn't use  my own was because I'd lent it to a guy down the hall.
It  was around ten-thirty,  I  guess,  when I  finished it.  I wasn't tired,
though, so I looked out the window  for a while. It  wasn't snowing  out any
more, but every once in  a  while you  could hear a car  somewhere not being
able to get started.  You  could also hear old Ackley snoring. Right through
the goddam shower curtains you could hear him.  He  had sinus trouble and he
couldn't  breathe  too  hot  when  he was asleep.  That guy had  just  about
everything.   Sinus  trouble,  pimples,  lousy   teeth,   halitosis,  crumby
fingernails. You had to feel a little sorry for the crazy sonuvabitch.
     6
     Some things are hard  to remember. I'm thinking now  of when Stradlater
got back from his date with Jane. I mean I can't remember exactly what I was
doing when I heard  his goddam stupid footsteps coming down the  corridor. I
probably  was still looking out the window, but I swear I  can't remember. I
was  so  damn  worried, that's why.  When I really  worry about something, I
don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about
something.  Only, I  don't  go.  I'm too  worried  to go.  I  don't  want to
interrupt  my  worrying to  go.  If you  knew  Stradlater, you'd  have  been
worried, too. I'd double-dated with  that bastard  a couple of times,  and I
know what I'm talking about. He was unscrupulous. He really was. Anyway, the
corridor  was all linoleum  and all, and you could hear his goddam footsteps
coming  right  towards  the room. I don't even remember  where I was sitting
when  he came in--at  the  window, or in  my chair  or his.  I swear I can't
remember. He came in griping about how cold it was out. Then he said, "Where
the hell is everybody? It's like a goddam morgue around here." I didn't even
bother to answer him.  If  he  was so goddam stupid not  to  realize it  was
Saturday night  and everybody was out or asleep or home  for the week end, I
wasn't going to break  my neck telling him. He started getting undressed. He
didn't  say  one  goddam  word about Jane. Not  one.  Neither did I.  I just
watched him. All he did was thank me  for letting him wear my hound's-tooth.
He hung it up on a hanger and put  it in the closet. Then when he was taking
off his  tie,  he asked  me if I'd written his goddam composition for him. I
told him it was over on his goddam bed. He walked over and read it while  he
was unbuttoning his  shirt. He stood there, reading it, and sort of stroking
his bare chest and stomach, with this very stupid expression on his face. He
was always stroking his stomach or his chest. He  was mad about himself. All
of  a  sudden, he said,  "For  Chrissake,  Holden.  This  is  about a goddam
baseball glove." "So what?" I said. Cold as hell. "Wuddaya mean so  what?  I
told ya it had to be about a goddam room or a house or something." "You said
it had  to be descriptive. What  the  hell's  the difference if it's about a
baseball  glove?" "God damn it." He was sore as hell. He was really furious.
"You always do everything  backasswards." He looked at me. "No wonder you're
flunking the hell out of here," he said. "You  don't do one  damn thing  the
way you're supposed to. I mean it. Not one  damn thing." "All right, give it
back to me, then," I said. I went over and pulled it right out of his goddam
hand. Then I tore it up.  "What  the hellja do  that for?" he said. I didn't
even answer him. I just threw the pieces in the wastebasket. Then I lay down
on  my bed, and  we both didn't say anything for a  long  time. He  got  all
undressed, down to  his shorts, and I lay on my bed and lit a cigarette. You
weren't allowed to smoke in the dorm, but you could do it late at night when
everybody was asleep or out and nobody could smell the smoke. Besides, I did
it  to  annoy  Stradlater. It drove him  crazy when you broke any  rules. He
never smoked in the dorm.  It was only me. He  still didn't  say one  single
solitary word about Jane. So finally I said, "You're back pretty goddam late
if  she  only signed out for nine-thirty.  Did you make her be  late signing
in?"  He  was sitting on  the edge  of his bed, cutting his goddam toenails,
when  I asked  him  that. "Coupla minutes," he said. "Who the hell signs out
for nine-thirty on a Saturday  night?" God, how  I hated him. "Did you go to
New York?" I  said. "Ya crazy? How the hell could  we go  to New York if she
only  signed  out  for  nine-thirty?"  "That's  tough." He looked up at  me.
"Listen," he said, "if  you're gonna smoke in the room, how 'bout going down
to the can and do it? You may be getting the hell out of here, but I have to
stick around  long  enough to graduate." I ignored him. I really did. I went
right  on smoking like a madman. All I did was sort  of turn over on my side
and  watched him  cut  his  damn  toenails. What a  school. You  were always
watching  somebody  cut  their  damn toenails  or squeeze their  pimples  or
something. "Did you give her my regards?" I  asked him. "Yeah." The  hell he
did, the bastard. "What'd she say?" I said. "Did you  ask her if  she  still
keeps all her kings in the back row?" "No, I  didn't ask her.  What the hell
ya think we  did  all night--play checkers, for Chrissake?"  I  didn't  even
answer him. God, how I hated him. "If you didn't go to  New York, where'd ya
go  with  her?" I asked him, after a little while.  I  could hardly  keep my
voice from shaking  all over  the place. Boy,  was I getting nervous. I just
had a feeling something had gone  funny.  He was finished  cutting his  damn
toenails. So  he got up  from the bed, in just his damn shorts  and all, and
started getting very  damn  playful.  He came over to  my  bed  and  started
leaning over me and taking these playful  as hell socks at my shoulder. "Cut
it out,"  I said.  "Where'd you go with  her if you  didn't go to New York?"
"Nowhere. We just sat in the  goddam  car."  He gave me another one of those
playtul stupid little socks on the shoulder. "Cut  it  out,"  I said. "Whose
car?"  "Ed Banky's." Ed  Banky  was  the  basketball  coach  at  Pencey. Old
Stradlater was one of  his pets,  because he was the center on the team, and
Ed Banky always let him borrow his car when he wanted  it. It wasn't allowed
for  students to borrow  faculty guys' cars,  but all the  athletic bastards
stuck together. In every  school  I've  gone to, all  the athletic  bastards
stick  together.  Stradlater kept  taking  these  shadow  punches down at my
shoulder. He had  his toothbrush in his hand, and  he  put  it in his mouth.
"What'd you do?" I  said. "Give her the  time in Ed Banky's goddam car?"  My
voice was shaking something awful. "What  a  thing  to say. Want  me to wash
your mouth out with soap?" "Did you?" "That's a professional secret, buddy."
This next part I don't remember so hot. All I know is I got up from the bed,
like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him,
with  all my  might,  right smack  in the toothbrush,  so it would split his
goddam throat open. Only, I missed. I didn't connect. All I did was sort  of
get him on the side of the head or something.  It probably hurt him a little
bit, but not as much as I wanted. It probably would've hurt him a lot, but I
did it with my right hand, and I  can't make a good fist with  that hand. On
account of that injury  I  told you about. Anyway, the next thing I knew,  I
was on the goddam floor and he was  sitting on my  chest, with his  face all
red. That is,  he  had his goddam knees on my chest, and  he weighed about a
ton. He had hold of my wrists,  too, so I couldn't take another sock at him.
I'd've killed him. "What  the hell's the matter with you?"  he kept  saying,
and his  stupid race  kept getting redder  and redder. "Get your lousy knees
off my chest," I told  him. I was almost bawling. I really  was. "Go on, get
off a me, ya crumby  bastard." He  wouldn't do it,  though. He  kept holding
onto my wrists and I kept calling him a sonuvabitch and all, for  around ten
hours. I  can  hardly even remember what  all I  said to him.  I told him he
thought he could give the time to anybody he felt like. I told him he didn't
even care  if a girl kept all  her kings  in the  back row or  not, and  the
reason he didn't care was because  he was a goddam stupid moron. He hated it
when  you called a  moron. All morons hate it  when you call them  a  moron.
"Shut up, now, Holden," he said with his big stupid red face. "just shut up,
now." "You  don't even know if her first  name  is Jane or  Jean, ya  goddam
moron!" "Now, shut up, Holden,  God damn  it--I'm warning  ya,"  he  said--I
really had him going. "If you don't shut  up, I'm  gonna slam ya one."  "Get
your dirty  stinking moron  knees  off my chest." "If I letcha up,  will you
keep  your  mouth shut?"  I  didn't even answer him. He said it  over again.
"Holden. If I letcha up, willya keep your  mouth shut?" "Yes." He got up off
me, and I got up, too. My chest hurt like hell from his dirty knees. "You're
a dirty stupid sonuvabitch of a moron," I told him. That got him really mad.
He shook his big stupid finger in my face. "Holden, God damn it, I'm warning
you, now. For the  last  time. If you don't keep your yap shut, I'm gonna--"
"Why should I?" I said--I was practically yelling. "That's  just the trouble
with all you morons. You never  want to discuss anything. That's the way you
can  always  tell a moron.  They never  want to discuss anything intellig--"
Then he really  let  one go at  me,  and  the next thing I knew I was on the
goddam  floor again.  I don't  remember if he knocked me out  or not,  but I
don't think so. It's pretty hard to knock  a  guy out, except in  the goddam
movies. But  my nose  was bleeding all over the place. When  I looked up old
Stradlater was standing practically  right on  top of me. He had  his goddam
toilet kit  under his arm. "Why the hell don'tcha shut up when I tellya to?"
he said. He sounded pretty nervous. He probably was scared he'd fractured my
skull or something when I hit the floor.  It's  too bad I didn't. "You asked
for it,  God damn it," he said.  Boy,  did  he  look  worried. I didn't even
bother to  get  up. I  just  lay there  in  the floor for a  while, and kept
calling him a moron sonuvabitch. I was so mad, I  was  practically  bawling.
"Listen. Go wash your face," Stradlater said. "Ya hear me?" I told him to go
wash his own moron face--which was a pretty childish thing to say, but I was
mad as  hell. I  told him to stop off on the  way  to the can  and give Mrs.
Schmidt  the  time. Mrs.  Schmidt was  the janitor's wife.  She  was  around
sixty-five.  I kept sitting there  on the floor till I heard  old Stradlater
close  the  door  and go  down the  corridor to the  can.  Then I got  up. I
couldn't find my goddam  hunting hat anywhere.  Finally I found  it.  It was
under the bed. I put it on, and turned the old peak around  to the back, the
way I liked it, and then I went over and  took  a  look at my stupid face in
the mirror. You never  saw such gore in your life. I had blood all  over  my
mouth and chin and even on my pajamas and bath robe. It partly scared me and
it partly fascinated me. All that blood and all sort of  made me look tough.
I'd only  been in about two fights in my life, and  I lost both of them. I'm
not  too  tough. I'm a pacifist, if  you want  to know the  truth. I  had  a
feeling old Ackley'd probably heard all the  racket and was awake. So I went
through the shower curtains into his room, just to see what the hell  he was
doing. I hardly ever went over to his room. It always had a  funny stink  in
it, because he was so crumby in his personal habits.
     7
     A tiny bit of light came  through  the shower curtains and all from our
room, and I could see him lying in bed. I knew damn well he was  wide awake.
"Ackley?" I said. "Y'awake?"  "Yeah."  It was pretty dark, and I stepped  on
somebody's shoe on the floor and danm near fell on my head.  Ackley  sort of
sat up  in  bed and leaned on  his arm.  He had a lot of  white stuff on his
face, for his  pimples. He looked  sort  of  spooky in  the dark. "What  the
hellya doing, anyway?" I said. "Wuddaya mean what the hell am I doing? I was
tryna sleep before you guys started making all that noise. What the hell was
the fight about, anyhow?" "Where's the light?" I couldn't find the light.  I
was sliding my hand all over the wall. "Wuddaya want the light for?... Right
next to your hand." I finally found the switch and turned It  on. Old Ackley
put his hand up so the light wouldn't hurt his eyes. "Jesus!" he said. "What
the hell  happened to you?" He meant all the blood  and all. "I had a little
goddam  tiff with Stradlater,"  I  said. Then I sat down on the  floor. They
never had any chairs in their room. I don't know what the hell they did with
their chairs. "Listen," I said, "do you feel like playing a little Canasta?"
He  was a  Canasta fiend. "You're still bleeding, for Chrissake.  You better
put something on it." "It'll stop. Listen. Ya wanna play a little Canasta or
don'tcha?" "Canasta, for Chrissake. Do you  know  what time  it  is,  by any
chance?" "It  isn't  late.  It's  only around eleven, eleven-thirty."  "Only
around!" Ackley said. "Listen. I gotta get up and go to Mass in the morning,
for  Chrissake. You  guys start hollering and  fighting in the middle of the
goddam--What the hell was the fight  about, anyhow?" "It's a  long  story. I
don't  wanna bore ya,  Ackley. I'm thinking of your  welfare," I told him. I
never discussed my personal life with him.  In the first place, he was  even
more stupid than Stradlater. Stradlater was a goddam genius next  to Ackley.
"Hey," I said, "is it okay if I sleep in Ely's bed tonight? He won't be back
till tomorrow night, will he?" I knew  damn well he wouldn't. Ely  went home
damn near  every  week  end.  "I don't know when the hell he's coming back,"
Ackley said. Boy, did that annoy  me. "What the hell  do you  mean you don't
know when he's coming back? He never comes back till Sunday night, does he?"
"No,  but for  Chrissake,  I  can't just tell somebody they can sleep in his
goddam bed if they want to." That  killed me. I reached  up from where I was
sitting on the  floor  and patted  him  on  the  goddam shoulder.  "You're a
prince, Ackley kid," I said. "You know that?" "No, I mean  it--I  can't just
tell somebody they can sleep in--" "You're a real prince. You're a gentleman
and a scholar, kid," I said. He really was, too. "Do you happen to have  any
cigarettes, by  any chance?--Say 'no' or I'll drop dead." "No, I don't, as a
matter of fact. Listen, what the hell was the fight about?" I  didn't answer
him. All I did was, I got up and went over and looked out the window. I felt
so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead. "What the hell was
the  fight about,  anyhow?"  Ackley  said, for  about the fiftieth time.  He
certainly  was  a  bore  about  that.  "About you,"  I said.  "About me, for
Chrissake?" "Yeah. I  was  defending your goddam honor. Stradlater  said you
had a lousy personality.  I couldn't let him get away with that stuff." That
got  him excited.  "He  did?  No kidding?  He did?" I  told  him I  was only
kidding, and  then I went over and  laid down on  Ely's bed. Boy, did I feel
rotten. I felt so damn lonesome.  "This  room stinks," I  said. "I can smell
your socks from way over here. Don'tcha ever send them  to the laundry?" "If
you don't like it, you know what you can do," Ackley said. What a witty guy.
"How 'bout turning  off  the goddam light?" I didn't turn it off right away,
though. I just kept laying  there on Ely's bed, thinking about Jane and all.
It  just drove me stark staring mad when I thought about her and  Stradlater
parked  somewhere  in  that fat-assed  Ed Banky's car. Every time I  thought
about it, I  felt like jumping out the window. The thing is, you didn't know
Stradlater. I knew him. Most  guys at Pencey just talked about having sexual
intercourse with girls all  the  time--like Ackley,  for  instance--but  old
Stradlater  really  did it. I was personally acquainted with  at  least  two
girls he gave the  time  to. That's the  truth. "Tell  me the story  of your
fascinating life, Ackley kid,"  I said.  "How 'bout  turning off the  goddam
light? I gotta get up for Mass in the morning." I got up  and turned it off,
if it made him happy. Then I laid down on Ely's bed again. "What're ya gonna
do--sleep in Ely's bed?" Ackley said. He  was the perfect host, boy. "I may.
I may not. Don't worry about it." "I'm not worried about  it. Only, I'd hate
like hell if Ely  came in all of  a sudden and found some guy--" "Relax. I'm
not gonna sleep here. I wouldn't abuse your goddam hospitality." A couple of
minutes  later, he was  snoring  like mad. I kept laying  there in the  dark
anyway, though, trying not  to  think about old Jane and  Stradlater in that
goddam Ed Banky's car. But it was almost impossible. The trouble was, I knew
that  guy  Stradlater's  technique.  That  made  it   even  worse.  We  once
double-dated, in Ed Banky's  car, and Stradlater was in  the back,  with his
date, and I was in the front with mine. What a  technique that guy had. What
he'd do  was,  he'd  start  snowing  his date in  this very  quiet,  sincere
voice--like  as if  he  wasn't only a  very handsome guy but a nice, sincere
guy,  too.  I  damn near  puked,  listening  to  him. His date kept  saying,
"No--please. Please, don't. Please." But old Stradlater kept  snowing her in
this  Abraham Lincoln, sincere voice, and finally there'd  be  this terrific
silence in the back of the car. It was really embarrassing. I don't think he
gave  that girl the time that night--but damn  near. Damn  near. While I was
laying there trying not to think,  I heard old Stradlater come back from the
can and  go in our  room. You could  hear him putting away his crumby toilet
articles  and all, and opening the window. He was a fresh-air fiend. Then, a
little while later, he turned off the  light. He didn't even look around  to
see where I was at. It was even depressing out  in the street.  You couldn't
even  hear any cars any more. I got feeling  so lonesome and  rotten, I even
felt like waking Ackley up. "Hey, Ackley," I said, in sort of a whisper,  so
Stradlater couldn't hear me through the shower  curtain.  Ackley didn't hear
me,  though. "Hey, Ackley!"  He still didn't hear me. He slept  like a rock.
"Hey, Ackley!" He heard that, all right.  "What the hell's  the  matter with
you?" he said. "I was asleep, for Chrissake." "Listen. What's the routine on
joining a monastery?" I asked him. I  was sort of toying  with  the idea  of
joining one. "Do you have to  be a Catholic and all?" "Certainly you have to
be a  Catholic. You bastard, did you wake  me just  to ask me a dumb ques--"
"Aah, go  back to sleep. I'm not gonna  join one anyway.  The kind of luck I
have,  I'd probably  join one with  all the wrong  kind  of monks in it. All
stupid bastards. Or just bastards." When I said that, old Ackley sat way the
hell up in bed.  "Listen," he said, "I don't care what you say  about me  or
anything,  but if you  start making  cracks  about  my goddam religion,  for
Chrissake--" "Relax," I said. "Nobody's making any cracks about  your goddam
religion." I  got up  off Ely's bed, and started towards the  door. I didn't
want to hang  around in that  stupid  atmosphere any more. I stopped  on the
way,  though,  and  picked  up Ackley's  hand, and  gave  him  a big,  phony
handshake. He pulled it away from me. "What's the idea?" he said.  "No idea.
I  just want  to thank you for  being such a  goddam prince, that's all,"  I
said.  I  said it in this  very sincere voice.  "You're aces, Ackley kid," I
said. "You know that?"  "Wise guy. Someday  somebody's gonna bash  your--" I
didn't even bother to listen to  him. I shut the damn  door and  went out in
the corridor. Everybody was asleep or out or home for the week  end, and  it
was  very, very quiet and depressing in the corridor. There  was this  empty
box of  Kolynos toothpaste  outside  Leahy  and Hoffman's door, and while  I
walked  down  towards  the  stairs,  I  kept  giving it  a  boot  with  this
sheep-lined slipper  I  had on. What I thought I'd do, I  thought I might go
down and see what old Mal Brossard was doing. But all of a sudden, I changed
my mind. All of a sudden, I decided what I'd really do, I'd get the hell out
of Pencey--right that same night and all.  I mean not wait till Wednesday or
anything. I just didn't want to hang around any more. It made me too sad and
lonesome. So what I decided  to do, I decided I'd take a room  in a hotel in
New  York--some very  inexpensive hotel and all--and just take it easy  till
Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday, I'd go home all rested up and feeling  swell.
I  figured my parents probably wouldn't get  old Thurmer's letter saying I'd
been given the ax till  maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. I didn't want to go home
or anything  till they got  it and thoroughly digested it and all. I  didn't
want  to  be around when they first got  it. My mother gets very hysterical.
She's  not  too  bad after she gets something  thoroughly digested,  though.
Besides,  I  sort  of needed  a little vacation. My  nerves were shot.  They
really were. Anyway,  that's what I decided I'd  do. So  I  went back to the
room and turned on the light, to  start packing and all. I already had quite
a few things packed. Old Stradlater didn't even wake up.  I lit a  cigarette
and got all dressed  and then I packed these two Gladstones  I have. It only
took  me about two minutes. I'm a very rapid packer. One thing about packing
depressed me a little.  I had to  pack these brand-new ice skates my  mother
had practically  just sent  me a couple of days before. That depressed me. I
could  see my mother going in Spaulding's and  asking the salesman a million
dopy  questions--and here I was getting the ax again. It made me feel pretty
sad. She bought me the wrong  kind of skates--I wanted racing skates and she
bought  hockey--but it made  me sad anyway. Almost every time somebody gives
me a present, it ends up making me sad.  After I got all  packed, I  sort of
counted my dough.  I don't remember exactly how much I had, but I was pretty
loaded. My grandmother'd just sent me a wad about a week before. I have this
grandmother  that's  quite lavish with  her dough. She doesn't have  all her
marbles any  more--she's old as hell--and she  keeps sending me money for my
birthday about four times a year. Anyway, even though I was pretty loaded, I
figured I could always use a few extra  bucks. You never know. So what I did
was, I went down the hail and woke up  Frederick Woodruff, this guy I'd lent
my typewriter to. I asked him  how much he'd give me for it. He was a pretty
wealthy guy. He said he didn't know.  He said he didn't much want to buy it.
Finally he bought it, though. It cost about ninety  bucks, and all he bought
it  for was twenty. He  was sore because I'd woke him up. When I was all set
to go, when I had my  bags and  all, I stood for a while next to  the stairs
and took a last look down the goddam corridor. I was sort of crying. I don't
know why. I put  my red  hunting hat on, and  turned the peak around to  the
back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the  top of  my goddam voice,
"Sleep tight, ya  morons!" I'll bet I  woke  up every  bastard on the  whole
floor. Then I got the hell out. Some stupid guy had thrown peanut shells all
over the stairs, and I damn near broke my crazy neck.
     8
     It was too late to call up for a cab or anything, so I walked the whole
way to the station. It wasn't too far, but it was cold as hell, and the snow
made it hard for  walking, and my  Gladstones kept banging  hell  out  of my
legs. I sort of enjoyed the air and all, though.  The only trouble was,  the
cold made my nose hurt, and right under my upper lip, where old Stradlater'd
laid  one on me. He'd smacked my  lip  right on my teeth, and  it was pretty
sore. My ears were nice  and warm, though.  That hat I bought had earlaps in
it, and I put them  on--I didn't give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around
anyway. Everybody was in  the sack.  I was  quite  lucky  when I got to  the
station, because I  only had to wait about ten minutes  for a train. While I
waited, I got  some snow in my  hand and washed my face with it. I still had
quite  a  bit  of  blood on. Usually  I like riding on trains, especially at
night, with the lights on and  the  windows so black, and one of those  guys
coming  up the aisle selling coffee  and sandwiches and magazines. I usually
buy a ham  sandwich and about four magazines. If I'm on a train  at night, I
can  usually  even read one  of  those  dumb stories  in a magazine  without
puking. You know. One of those stories with a lot of  phony, lean-jawed guys
named David in it,  and a lot of phony girls named Linda  or Marcia that are
always lighting all  the goddam Davids' pipes for them. I can even read  one
of those lousy stories on a  train at night, usually. But this time, it  was
different. I just  didn't  feel  like  it.  I  just sort of sat and not  did
anything. All I did was take off my hunting hat and put it in my pocket. All
of  a sudden, this  lady  got on  at  Trenton  and  sat  down  next  to  me.
Practically the whole car was empty, because it was pretty late and all, but
she sat down next to me, instead of an empty seat, because she  had this big
bag with her and I was sitting in the front  seat. She stuck  the bag  right
out in the middle of the aisle, where the conductor and everybody could trip
over  it.  She had these orchids on, like she'd just  been to a big party or
something. She  was around forty  or forty-five, I  guess, but  she was very
good  looking. Women kill me. They really do. I don't mean I'm  oversexed or
anything like that--although I am  quite  sexy. I  just like  them, I  mean.
They're always leaving their goddam  bags  out in the  middle  of the aisle.
Anyway, we  were sitting there, and all of a sudden she  said to me, "Excuse
me, but  isn't  that  a Pencey  Prep sticker?"  She  was  looking up  at  my
suitcases, up on the rack. "Yes, it is," I said. She was right. I did have a
goddam Pencey sticker on one of my Gladstones. Very corny, I'll  admit. "Oh,
do you  go  to Pencey?" she  said. She had a  nice voice.  A  nice telephone
voice, mostly. She  should've carried  a  goddam telephone around with  her.
"Yes, I do," I said. "Oh, how lovely! Perhaps you know  my son, then, Ernest
Morrow?  He goes to Pencey." "Yes, I do.  He's  in  my  class." Her son  was
doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey, in  the whole crumby
history of the school. He was always going down the corridor, after he'd had
a shower, snapping his soggy old wet towel at people's asses. That's exactly
the kind  of a guy he was. "Oh, how nice!" the lady said. But not corny. She
was  just  nice and all. "I must  tell Ernest we met," she  said. "May I ask
your name,  dear?"  "Rudolf Schmidt," I told her. I didn't  feel like giving
her my whole life history. Rudolf Schmidt was the name of the janitor of our
dorm. "Do  you like  Pencey?"  she asked me. "Pencey? It's not too bad. It's
not  paradise or anything,  but it's as good  as most schools. Some  of  the
faculty  are pretty  conscientious."  "Ernest  just  adores it." "I  know he
does," I said. Then I started shooting the old crap around a little bit. "He
adapts himself very well  to things. He really does. I mean he  really knows
how to  adapt  himself."  "Do  you think  so?"  she  asked  me. She  sounded
interested as  hell. "Ernest? Sure," I said. Then I watched her take off her
gloves. Boy, was she lousy with rocks. "I just broke a nail, getting  out of
a  cab," she  said. She looked  up  at me and  sort  of  smiled. She  had  a
terrifically nice smile. She really  did.  Most people have hardly any smile
at  all, or a lousy one. "Ernest's father and I  sometimes worry about him,"
she  said. "We sometimes feel he's  not a terribly good mixer." "How do  you
mean?" "Well.  He's a very sensitive  boy. He's really never been a terribly
good mixer with other boys. Perhaps he takes things  a little more seriously
than he should  at his age." Sensitive. That  killed me. That guy Morrow was
about  as  sensitive as a goddam  toilet seat.  I gave  her a good look. She
didn't  look  like any dope to me. She looked like  she might have  a pretty
damn good idea what  a bastard  she was the mother of. But  you can't always
tell--with somebody's mother, I mean. Mothers  are  all slightly insane. The
thing is, though, I liked old Morrow's mother. She was all right. "Would you
care for a cigarette?" I asked her. She looked all around. "I don't  believe
this is  a smoker,  Rudolf," she said. Rudolf. That  killed me.  "That's all
right. We  can  smoke till  they start screaming at us," I said.  She took a
cigarette off me, and I gave  her a  light. She  looked  nice, smoking.  She
inhaled and all,  but  she  didn't  wolf the smoke  down, the way most women
around  her  age do. She  had a  lot  of  charm. She had quite a  lot of sex
appeal, too, if  you really want  to  know. She was  looking at  me  sort of
funny.  I may be wrong  but I believe your nose is bleeding, dear, she said,
all of a sudden. I  nodded and took out  my handkerchief. "I  got hit with a
snowball," I said. "One of  those  very  icy ones." I probably would've told
her  what really  happened, but  it  would've taken too long.  I  liked her,
though. I  was  beginning  to feel sort of  sorry I'd told  her my name  was
Rudolf Schmidt. "Old Ernie," I said. "He's one  of the most popular  boys at
Pencey.  Did  you  know  that?"  "No, I didn't."  I  nodded. "It really took
everybody quite a long time  to get to know him. He's a funny guy. A strange
guy, in  lots of ways--know  what I mean? Like when I  first met him. When I
first  met  him, I  thought he was kind of a snobbish person. That's what  I
thought. But he  isn't. He's  just got this very original  personality  that
takes you  a little while to get  to know him." Old  Mrs. Morrow  didn't say
anything, but boy, you should've seen  her. I had her glued to her seat. You
take somebody's mother, all they want to hear about is what a hot-shot their
son is. Then I really started chucking the old crap around. "Did he tell you
about the  elections?"  I asked  her.  "The class  elections?" She shook her
head. I had her in a trance, like. I really did. "Well, a bunch of us wanted
old  Ernie to be president of the class. I mean he was the unanimous choice.
I  mean he was the only  boy that could really handle the job," I said--boy,
was I chucking it. "But this  other boy--Harry  Fencer--was elected. And the
reason  he  was elected, the simple  and  obvious reason, was because  Ernie
wouldn't let us  nominate him. Because he's  so darn shy and modest and all.
He  refused...  Boy, he's really shy.  You  oughta make him try to get  over
that."  I looked  at her. "Didn't he tell you about it?"  "No, he didn't." I
nodded. "That's Ernie. He wouldn't.  That's the one fault with him--he's too
shy  and modest.  You really oughta get  him to try to relax  occasionally."
Right that  minute, the  conductor came around for old Mrs. Morrow's ticket,
and it gave me a chance to quit shooting it. I'm glad I shot it for a while,
though. You take a guy  like Morrow that's  always  snapping  their towel at
people's asses--really trying to hurt somebody with it--they don't just stay
a  rat while they're a kid. They stay a  rat their whole life. But I'll bet,
after all the  crap I shot,  Mrs. Morrow'll keep thinking of him now as this
very shy, modest guy that wouldn't let  us  nominate him  for president. She
might. You can't tell. Mothers aren't too sharp about that stuff. "Would you
care for a cocktail?" I asked her. I was feeling in the mood for one myself.
"We can  go in the  club car.  All right?" "Dear, are you allowed  to  order
drinks?"  she asked me. Not snotty, though. She was too charming and  all to
be snotty.  "Well, no, not exactly, but I can usually get them on account of
my  heighth,"  I  said.  "And I  have quite  a bit  of gray  hair." I turned
sideways and showed her my gray hair. It fascinated hell out of her. "C'mon,
join me, why don't you?" I said. I'd've enjoyed having her. "I  really don't
think I'd better. Thank you so much, though,  dear," she said.  "Anyway, the
club  car's most likely closed. It's  quite late,  you know." She was right.
I'd forgotten all about what time it was. Then she looked at me and asked me
what I was afraid she was going to ask me. "Ernest wrote  that he'd  be home
on  Wednesday, that Christmas  vacation would start on Wednesday," she said.
"I  hope you weren't called home suddenly because of illness in the family."
She really looked  worried  about it. She wasn't  just being nosy, you could
tell. "No, everybody's fine at home," I said. "It's me.  I have to have this
operation." "Oh! I'm so sorry," she said. She  really was,  too. I was right
away sorry I'd said  it, but it was too late. "It isn't very serious. I have
this  tiny little tumor on the brain." "Oh, no!" She put her  hand up to her
mouth and all. "Oh, I'll be all right  and everything! It's  right  near the
outside.  And  it's  a very  tiny one.  They can  take it out in  about  two
minutes." Then I started reading this timetable I had in my  pocket. Just to
stop lying. Once I get started,  I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No
kidding. Hours. We didn't talk too much after that. She started reading this
Vogue she had with her, and I looked out the window for a while. She got off
at Newark. She  wished me a lot of luck with the operation and all. She kept
calling me Rudolf. Then she invited me to  visit Ernie during the summer, at
Gloucester, Massachusetts.  She said their house was right on the beach, and
they had a tennis  court and all, but I just thanked her and  told her I was
going  to South America with my  grandmother. Which was  really a  hot  one,
because my grandmother hardly ever even goes out of the house, except  maybe
to  go  to  a  goddam  matinee  or something.  But  I  wouldn't  visit  that
sonuvabitch Morrow for all the dough in the world, even if I was desperate.
     9
     The first thing I did when I got off at Penn  Station, I went into this
phone  booth.  I  felt  like giving somebody  a buzz. I left my  bags  right
outside the booth so that I could watch them, but as soon as I was inside, I
couldn't think of anybody to call  up. My brother D. B. was in Hollywood. My
kid  sister Phoebe goes  to bed around nine o'clock--so I couldn't call  her
up.  She  wouldn't've  cared if I'd woke  her up, but the  trouble was,  she
wouldn't've  been the  one that  answered the phone. My parents would be the
ones. So that was out. Then I thought of  giving Jane Gallagher's  mother  a
buzz, and find out when Jane's vacation started,  but I didn't feel like it.
Besides,  it was pretty late to call up. Then I thought of calling this girl
I  used to go around with quite frequently, Sally Hayes, because  I knew her
Christmas  vacation had started  already--she'd  written me this long, phony
letter,  inviting me over to help her trim the Christmas  tree Christmas Eve
and all--but I was afraid her mother'd answer the  phone. Her mother knew my
mother, and I could  picture her breaking  a goddam leg to get to the  phone
and tell my  mother I was in New York. Besides, I wasn't crazy about talking
to old Mrs. Hayes on the phone.  She once told Sally I was wild.  She said I
was wild and that I had no direction in life.  Then I thought  of calling up
this guy that  went to the Whooton School when I was there, Carl Luce, but I
didn't  like him much. So I ended up not calling anybody.  I came out of the
booth, after about twenty minutes or so, and got my bags and  walked over to
that  tunnel where  the cabs are and got a cab. I'm so damn absent-minded, I
gave  the  driver  my  regular address, just out of habit and all--I mean  I
completely  forgot I was going to shack up in a hotel  for  a couple of days
and  not  go home till vacation started.  I didn't think of it till  we were
halfway through the park. Then I said, "Hey, do you mind turning around when
you get a chance? I gave you the wrong address. I want to go back downtown."
The  driver  was  sort of a wise  guy. "I can't  turn around here, Mac. This
here's  a  one-way.  I'll have to go all the way to Ninedieth Street now." I
didn't  want  to  start an  argument. "Okay,"  I  said.  Then  I thought  of
something, all of a sudden. "Hey, listen," I said. "You know  those ducks in
that lagoon right near Central Park  South? That little lake? By any chance,
do you  happen to  know where they  go, the ducks,  when it gets all  frozen
over? Do  you happen  to know, by any  chance?" I  realized  it was only one
chance in a million. He turned around and looked  at me like I was a madman.
"What're ya tryna do, bud?" he said.  "Kid me?"  "No--I was just interested,
that's all." He didn't say  anything more, so I didn't either. Until we came
out of the park at Ninetieth Street. Then  he said, "All right, buddy. Where
to?" "Well, the thing is, I  don't want  to stay  at  any hotels on the East
Side where  I  might  run into  some  acquaintances of mine.  I'm  traveling
incognito," I  said. I  hate saying corny things like "traveling incognito."
But  when I'm with  somebody that's corny, I always act corny  too.  "Do you
happen to know whose band's at the  Taft or the New Yorker, by any  chance?"
"No idear, Mac." "Well--take me to the Edmont then," I said. "Would you care
to stop on the way and join me for a cocktail? On me. I'm loaded." "Can't do
it, Mac. Sorry." He certainly was good company. Terrific personality. We got
to the Edmont Hotel, and I checked in. I'd put on my red hunting  cap when I
was in the cab, just for the hell of it, but I  took it off before I checked
in. I  didn't want to look like a screwball  or  something. Which is  really
ironic.  I  didn't know then that the goddam hotel  was full of perverts and
morons. Screwballs all over the place. They gave me this very  crumby  room,
with  nothing to look out  of  the  window at except the  other  side of the
hotel. I didn't  care much. I was too depressed to care whether I had a good
view  or  not. The bellboy  that showed me to the room was this very old guy
around sixty-five. He was even more depressing than the room was. He was one
of  those bald guys that  comb all their hair over from the side to cover up
the baldness. I'd rather be bald than do that. Anyway, what  a  gorgeous job
for a  guy  around sixty-five  years old.  Carrying people's  suitcases  and
waiting around for  a tip. I suppose he  wasn't too intelligent or anything,
but  it was terrible  anyway. After he left, I looked out the  window  for a
while, with my coat on and all. I didn't have  anything else to do. You'd be
surprised what was going on on the other side of the hotel. They didn't even
bother to  pull their  shades down.  I  saw  one  guy,  a  gray-haired, very
distinguished-looking guy with only his shorts on, do something you wouldn't
believe me if I told you. First he put his suitcase on the bed. Then he took
out all  these women's clothes, and put them on.  Real women's clothes--silk
stockings,  high-heeled shoes, brassiere, and one of  those corsets with the
straps hanging down  and all. Then he put on  this  very tight black evening
dress. I swear to God. Then he started walking up and down  the room, taking
these  very small  steps, the way a woman does, and smoking a  cigarette and
looking at himself in the mirror. He was all alone, too. Unless somebody was
in the bathroom--I couldn't see that much. Then, in  the window almost right
over  his,  I saw a man and a woman  squirting water  out of their mouths at
each other. It  probably was highballs, not water, but I  couldn't see  what
they had in  their glasses. Anyway,  first he'd take a swallow and squirt it
all over  her, then she did it  to him--they took turns, for God's sake. You
should've seen them.  They were in hysterics the whole time, like it was the
funniest thing that ever happened. I'm not kidding, the hotel was lousy with
perverts.  I  was probably the  only normal bastard  in the whole place--and
that  isn't  saying much.  I damn  near sent a  telegram to  old  Stradlater
telling him to take the first train to New York. He'd have been  the king of
the hotel.  The trouble was,  that  kind of junk is  sort  of fascinating to
watch, even  if you  don't want it to  be. For instance, that girl  that was
getting  water squirted  all over  her  face, she was pretty good-looking. I
mean that's  my big trouble. In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac
you ever saw. Sometimes  I can  think  of very crumby stuff I  wouldn't mind
doing if the opportunity came up. I can even see how it might be quite a lot
of fun,  in a crumby way, and if you were both sort of drunk and all, to get
a girl and squirt water or  something all over each other's  face. The thing
is, though, I don't like the idea. It  stinks, if you analyze it. I think if
you don't really like a girl,  you shouldn't horse around  with  her at all,
and  if you do like her, then you're supposed  to like her face, and  if you
like her  face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like
squirting water  all over it. It's really too  bad that so much crumby stuff
is  a lot of  fun sometimes.  Girls  aren't too much help, either, when  you
start  trying  not to get  too  crumby, when you start  trying not to  spoil
anything really good. I knew this one girl, a couple of  years ago, that was
even crumbier than I was. Boy, was she crumby! We had a lot of fun,  though,
for a while, in a crumby way. Sex is something I really don't understand too
hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules
for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I
was going to quit horsing around with girls  that, deep down, gave me a pain
in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week  I made it--the same night, as
a matter of fact. I spent  the  whole night necking  with  a terrible  phony
named Anne Louise Sherman. Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear
to God I don't. I started toying with the idea, while I kept standing there,
of giving old  Jane a buzz--I mean calling her long distance at B. M., where
she went, instead of  calling up her mother to find out when she  was coming
home. You weren't supposed to call students up late at  night, but I  had it
all figured out. I was  going to  tell whoever answered the phone that I was
her uncle. I was going to say her aunt had just got killed in a car accident
and  I had to speak to  her immediately. It would've worked,  too. The  only
reason I didn't do it was because I wasn't in the mood. If you're not in the
mood, you can't do that stuff right. After a while I sat down in a chair and
smoked a couple  of cigarettes. I  was feeling pretty horny. I have to admit
it. Then, all of a sudden, I got this idea. I took out my wallet and started
looking for this address a guy I met  at a party  last summer, that went  to
Princeton,  gave me. Finally I found it. It was  all a funny color  from  my
wallet,  but you could still  read it. It was the  address of this girl that
wasn't  exactly a whore or anything  but that didn't mind doing it once in a
while, this Princeton guy told me.  He  brought  her to a dance at Princeton
once,  and  they nearly kicked  him out  for bringing her. She  used to be a
burlesque stripper or something.  Anyway, I went over to the phone and  gave
her a buzz. Her name was Faith Cavendish, and she lived at the Stanford Arms
Hotel on Sixty-fifth and Broadway.  A  dump, no doubt. For a while, I didn t
think she was  home or  something. Nobody  kept  answering.  Then,  finally,
somebody picked up the phone. "Hello?" I said. I made my voice quite deep so
that she  wouldn't  suspect my age or anything. I  have a pretty  deep voice
anyway. "Hello,"  this  woman's  voice said. None too friendly,  either. "Is
this Miss Faith Cavendish?" "Who's this?" she said.  "Who's calling me up at
this crazy goddam hour?"  That sort of scared me a little bit. "Well, I know
it's quite late," I said, in this very mature voice and all. "I  hope you'll
forgive me,  but I was  very  anxious to get in  touch with you." I said  it
suave as hell. I really did. "Who is this?" she said. "Well,  you don't know
me, but  I'm a friend  of Eddie Birdsell's.  He  suggested that if I were in
town sometime, we ought to get together for a cocktail or two." "Who? You're
a  friend  of who?" Boy, she was a real tigress over the phone. She was damn
near yelling at me. "Edmund Birdsell. Eddie  Birdsell," I  said. I  couldn't
remember if his name was Edmund or Edward. I  only met him once, at a goddam
stupid party.  "I don't know  anybody by that name, Jack. And if you think I
enjoy bein'  woke  up in the middle--"  "Eddie  Birdsell? From Princeton?" I
said. You could  tell  she was  running the name over in  her  mind and all.
"Birdsell, Birdsell... from Princeton... Princeton College?" "That's right,"
I said.  "You from Princeton College?"  "Well, approximately." "Oh... How is
Eddie?" she said.  "This is  certainly a  peculiar time to call a person up,
though. Jesus Christ." "He's fine. He asked to be remembered to you." "Well,
thank you. Remember me to  him," she said. "He's a  grand  person. What's he
doing now?" She  was getting friendly  as hell,  all of a  sudden.  "Oh, you
know. Same old stuff," I said. How the hell did I  know what he was doing? I
hardly  knew  the guy. I didn't  even know  if  he  was  still at Princeton.
"Look,"  I said.  "Would  you be  interested in  meeting  me for a  cocktail
somewhere?" "By any chance do you have any idea what time it  is?" she said.
"What's your name, anyhow, may  I ask?" She was  getting an English  accent,
all of a sudden. "You sound  a little on  the young side." I laughed. "Thank
you  for the compliment," I said--  suave as  hell.  "Holden Caulfield's  my
name." I should've given her a phony  name, but I didn't think of it. "Well,
look, Mr. Cawffle. I'm not in the habit  of making engagements in the middle
of  the night. I'm a working  gal." "Tomorrow's Sunday," I told  her. "Well,
anyway.  I gotta  get my beauty sleep. You  know how  it is."  "I thought we
might  have just  one cocktail together.  It isn't  too late." "Well. You're
very sweet,"  she said. "Where ya  callin' from? Where ya  at now, anyways?"
"Me? I'm in a  phone booth." "Oh," she said. Then  there  was this very long
pause.  "Well,  I'd  like  awfully  to get  together with  you sometime, Mr.
Cawffle. You sound very attractive. You sound like a very attractive person.
But  it is late." "I could come up to your place."  "Well, ordinary, I'd say
grand. I mean  I'd love  to have you drop up for a cocktail, but my roommate
happens to be ill. She's been laying here all night without a wink of sleep.
She just this minute closed her eyes and all. I mean." "Oh. That's too bad."
"Where  ya  stopping  at?  Perhaps  we  could  get  together  for  cocktails
tomorrow." "I  can't make it tomorrow," I said. "Tonight's  the only time  I
can  make it." What a  dope I was. I shouldn't've said  that. "Oh. Well, I'm
awfully  sorry." "I'll say hello to Eddie for you." "Willya do that?  I hope
you enjoy your stay in New York. It's a grand place." "I know it is. Thanks.
Good  night,"  I  said.  Then I hung up.  Boy,  I  really  fouled that up. I
should've at least made it for cocktails or something.
     10
     It was still pretty early. I'm not sure what time it was, but it wasn't
too late.  The one thing I hate to do is go to bed when I'm not even  tired.
So I opened my suitcases and took out a clean shirt, and then I went in  the
bathroom  and washed and changed my shirt. What I thought I'd  do, I thought
I'd  go downstairs and see what the hell was going on  in the Lavender Room.
They had this  night  club, the Lavender Room,  in  the hotel.  While I  was
changing my shirt, I damn near gave  my kid  sister Phoebe a buzz, though. I
certainly  felt like talking  to her on the  phone.  Somebody with sense and
all. But I couldn't take a chance on giving her a buzz, because she was only
a little  kid and  she wouldn't  have been  up, let alone anywhere  near the
phone.  I thought  of maybe hanging up  if  my  parents  answered,  but that
wouldn't've worked, either. They'd  know it was me.  My mother always  knows
it's me.  She's  psychic.  But I certainly wouldn't have minded shooting the
crap with old Phoebe for a while. You should see her. You never saw a little
kid so pretty and smart in your whole life. She's really smart. I mean she's
had all A's ever since she started school. As a matter of fact, I'm the only
dumb one in the family. My brother D. B. 's a writer and all, and my brother
Allie, the one that died, that I told you about,  was a wizard. I'm the only
really dumb one. But you ought  to see old  Phoebe. She has this sort of red
hair, a little bit like Allie's was, that's very short in the summertime. In
the summertime, she sticks  it behind her  ears. She has nice, pretty little
ears.  In  the wintertime, it's  pretty long,  though. Sometimes  my  mother
braids  it  and sometimes she doesn't. It's really nice,  though. She's only
ten. She's  quite skinny, like me, but nice skinny.  Roller-skate skinny.  I
watched her once from  the window when she was crossing over Fifth Avenue to
go to the park, and that's what she is, roller-skate skinny. You'd like her.
I  mean if  you tell  old Phoebe something, she  knows exactly what the hell
you're talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you
take her  to a lousy movie, for instance,  she knows  it's a lousy movie. If
you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it's a pretty good movie.  D.
B.  and I took her to see this French movie, The Baker's Wife, with Raimu in
it.  It killed her. Her favorite is The 39 Steps, though, with Robert Donat.
She  knows the whole goddam movie by heart, because I've taken her to see it
about  ten times.  When  old  Donat comes  up to this Scotch farmhouse,  for
instance, when he's running away from the cops  and all, Phoebe'll say right
out  loud in the movie--right  when the  Scotch  guy  in  the  picture  says
it--"Can  you eat the herring?" She  knows all the talk by heart.  And  when
this professor in the picture, that's  really  a  German spy, sticks up  his
little finger with part  of the middle  joint missing, to show Robert Donat,
old Phoebe  beats him to it--she  holds up her  little finger  at me  in the
dark, right in front  of my  face. She's all right. You'd like her. The only
trouble is, she's a little too affectionate sometimes. She's very emotional,
for a  child. She really is.  Something else she does, she writes  books all
the time.  Only, she doesn't finish them. They're all about  some  kid named
Hazel  Weatherfield--only  old  Phoebe  spells   it   "Hazle."   Old   Hazle
Weatherfield is a girl detective.  She's supposed to be  an orphan, but  her
old man keeps showing up. Her old  man's always a "tall attractive gentleman
about 20 years of age." That kills me. Old Phoebe. I swear to God you'd like
her. She was smart even when she was a very tiny little kid. When she was  a
very  tiny little  kid, I and  Allie used  to take her to the park with  us,
especially on  Sundays. Allie had this  sailboat  he  used  to like to  fool
around  with on Sundays, and we used to take  old Phoebe with us. She'd wear
white gloves and walk right between us, like a lady  and all. And when Allie
and I were having some conversation about things in general, old Phoebe'd be
listening.  Sometimes  you'd forget she was around,  because  she was such a
little kid, but she'd let you know. She'd interrupt  you all the time. She'd
give  Allie or I a push or something, and say, "Who? Who said that? Bobby or
the lady?" And we'd tell her who said it,  and she'd say, "Oh," and go right
on listening and all. She killed Allie, too. I mean he liked her, too. She's
ten now, and  not  such a  tiny little  kid any  more,  but she still  kills
everybody--everybody with any  sense, anyway.  Anyway, she  was somebody you
always felt like  talking to  on the phone. But I was too  afraid my parents
would answer, and then they'd find  out I was in New York and kicked  out of
Pencey and all. So I just finished putting on my shirt. Then I got all ready
and went down in the elevator to the lobby to see what  was going on. Except
for a few pimpy-looking guys, and a few whory-looking blondes, the lobby was
pretty empty. But you  could hear the band playing in the Lavender Room, and
so I went in  there. It wasn't very  crowded, but they gave me a lousy table
anyway--way  in the back. I  should've  waved a buck under the head-waiter's
nose. In New  York, boy, money  really talks--I'm  not kidding. The band was
putrid. Buddy Singer. Very brassy, but not good brassy--corny brassy.  Also,
there  were very few people around my age in  the place. In fact, nobody was
around  my  age. They  were mostly  old, show-offy-looking  guys  with their
dates. Except at the table right next to me.  At the table right next to me,
there were these  three girls around thirty  or so. The whole three of  them
were pretty ugly, and they all  had  on the kind of  hats that you knew they
didn't really live in New York, but one of them, the blonde one, wasn't  too
bad. She was sort of cute, the blonde one, and I started giving  her the old
eye a little bit, but just then the waiter came up for my order. I ordered a
Scotch and soda, and told him not to mix it--I said it fast as hell, because
if you hem and  haw, they think  you're under twenty-one  and won't sell you
any intoxicating liquor. I had trouble with him anyway, though.  "I'm sorry,
sir," he said, "but do you have some verification of your age? Your driver's
license, perhaps?"  I  gave him this very cold stare, like he'd insulted the
hell out of  me, and asked him, "Do I look like  I'm under twenty-one?" "I'm
sorry, sir, but we have our--" "Okay, okay," I said. I figured the hell with
it.  "Bring  me  a  Coke." He  started to go away,  but I called  him  back.
"Can'tcha stick  a little rum in  it or something?" I asked him. I asked him
very  nicely and all. "I can't sit  in a corny place like  this  cold sober.
Can'tcha stick a little rum in it or something?" "I'm very sorry, sir..." he
said, and  beat it on me.  I  didn't hold it against him, though.  They lose
their jobs if they get  caught  selling to a  minor. I'm a  goddam minor.  I
started  giving the three witches at the next  table the eye again. That is,
the blonde one. The  other two  were  strictly from  hunger. I didn't do  it
crudely, though. I  just gave all three  of them  this  very cool glance and
all. What they did, though, the three of them,  when I did it, they  started
giggling  like morons. They probably thought I was too young to give anybody
the once-over. That  annoyed hell out of  me--  you'd've thought I wanted to
marry them or something. I should've given  them the freeze,  after they did
that, but  the  trouble was,  I really felt  like  dancing. I'm very fond of
dancing, sometimes,  and  that  was one of the times. So all of a  sudden, I
sort  of leaned  over and said,  "Would any of you girls  care  to dance?" I
didn't ask them crudely or anything.  Very suave, in  fact. But God damn it,
they thought that was a panic, too. They started giggling some more. I'm not
kidding, they were three real  morons. "C'mon," I said. "I'll dance with you
one at a time. All right? How 'bout it? C'mon!" I really felt  like dancing.
Finally, the blonde one got up to  dance with  me, because you  could tell I
was  really talking to her, and we walked  out to the dance floor. The other
two  grools nearly  had hysterics when we did. I certainly must've been very
hard up to even bother with any of them. But it was worth it. The blonde was
some dancer. She was  one of the  best dancers I ever  danced with.  I'm not
kidding, some of these very stupid girls can really knock you out on a dance
floor. You  take a really smart girl, and half the time she's trying to lead
you around the dance floor,  or else  she's such  a  lousy dancer,  the best
thing to do is stay at the table and  just  get drunk  with her. "You really
can dance," I told the blonde one. "You oughta be a pro. I mean it. I danced
with a  pro once, and you're twice as good as she was. Did you  ever hear of
Marco and  Miranda?" "What?"  she said. She wasn't even listening to me. She
was looking  all around  the place.  "I said did you  ever hear of Marco and
Miranda?" "I don't know. No.  I don't know." "Well, they're dancers, she's a
dancer. She's  not too hot, though.  She  does everything she's supposed to,
but  she's not so hot  anyway. You  know when  a  girl's  really  a terrific
dancer?"  "Wudga say?" she said. She wasn't listening  to me, even. Her mind
was wandering all over the place. "I said do you know when a girl's really a
terrific dancer?" "Uh-uh." "Well--where  I have  my hand on your back.  If I
think there isn't anything underneath my hand--no can, no legs, no feet,  no
anything--then the girl's really a terrific dancer."  She wasn't  listening,
though. So I ignored  her for a while. We just danced. God, could that dopey
girl dance. Buddy  Singer and  his  stinking  band was playing "Just  One of
Those Things" and even they couldn't  ruin it entirely. It's a swell song. I
didn't try any trick stuff while we danced--I hate a guy that  does a lot of
show-off  tricky  stuff  on the  dance floor--but I  was moving  her  around
plenty, and she stayed  with  me.  The  funny thing  is,  I thought  she was
enjoying  it, too, till all of a  sudden she  came out with  this very  dumb
remark. "I and my girl friends saw  Peter Lorre last  night," she said. "The
movie actor. In person.  He  was buyin' a  newspaper.  He's  cute."  "You're
lucky," I told her. "You're really lucky.  You  know that?" She was really a
moron. But what a dancer. I could hardly stop myself from sort of giving her
a kiss on the top of her dopey head--you know-- right where the part is, and
all. She got sore when I  did it. "Hey! What's the idea?" "Nothing. No idea.
You really  can  dance," I said.  "I have a kid sister  that's  only in  the
goddam  fourth grade.  You're  about as  good as she is, and she  can  dance
better than  anybody  living or  dead." "Watch your  language, if  you don't
mind."  What  a lady, boy. A queen, for Chrissake. "Where you girls from?" I
asked her. She didn't answer me, though. She was busy looking around for old
Peter Lorre to show up, I guess. "Where you girls from?" I asked  her again.
"What?" she said. "Where you girls from? Don't answer if you don't feel like
it. I don't want you to  strain yourself." "Seattle, Washington,"  she said.
She   was  doing  me  a  big  favor   to  tell  me.   "You're  a  very  good
conversationalist,"  I told her. "You know that?" "What?"  I let it drop. It
was over her head, anyway. "Do  you feel like jitterbugging a little bit, if
they play a fast one? Not corny  jitterbug, not jump or anything--just  nice
and easy. Everybody'll all  sit down  when they play a fast one,  except the
old guys and  the fat  guys, and  we'll  have plenty of room.  Okay?"  "It's
immaterial  to me," she said. "Hey--how old  are  you, anyhow?" That annoyed
me, for some reason. "Oh, Christ. Don't spoil it," I said.  "I'm twelve, for
Chrissake. I'm big for my age."  "Listen. I toleja about that.  I don't like
that type  language,"  she said. "If  you're gonna use that type language, I
can go sit down with my girl friends, you know." I apologized like a madman,
because the  band  was starting a  fast one. She started jitterbugging  with
me-- but  just  very nice and  easy, not corny. She was really good. All you
had to do was touch her. And when she turned around, her pretty little  butt
twitched so nice and  all. She knocked me out. I mean it. I was half in love
with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about  girls.  Every time
they  do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at,  or  even if
they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love  with them, and then you never
know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They  can drive you crazy.
They really can.  They didn't invite me to sit down at their  table-- mostly
because they were  too ignorant--but I sat down anyway. The blonde  I'd been
dancing  with's name  was Bernice  something--Crabs or  Krebs. The  two ugly
ones' names were Marty and Laverne. I told them my name was Jim Steele, just
for  the hell  of it.  Then  I tried  to  get them in  a  little intelligent
conversation, but it was  practically impossible. You  had  to  twist  their
arms.  You could hardly tell which was  the  stupidest of the three of them.
And the whole three of them kept looking all around the goddam room, like as
if they expected a flock of goddam movie stars to  come  in any minute. They
probably thought movie  stars always hung out in the Lavender Room when they
came to New York,  instead of the Stork Club  or El Morocco and all. Anyway,
it took  me about  a half hour to find out where they all worked  and all in
Seattle. They all worked in the same insurance  office. I asked them if they
liked it, but  do you think you could get an intelligent answer out of those
three dopes? I thought the two  ugly ones, Marty and Laverne, were  sisters,
but they got very insulted when I  asked them. You could tell neither one of
them wanted to look like  the other one, and you couldn't blame them, but it
was  very  amusing  anyway.  I  danced  with them  all--the whole  three  of
them--one at a time. The one ugly one, Laverne, wasn't too bad a dancer, but
the other one, old Marty, was murder. Old Marty was like dragging the Statue
of  Liberty around the floor. The  only way I could  even  half enjoy myself
dragging  her around was if  I amused myself a little. So I  told her I just
saw Gary Cooper,  the movie star,  on the  other side of the floor. "Where?"
she asked me--excited as hell.  "Where?" "Aw, you just missed him.  He  just
went  out. Why didn't you  look when  I told you?"  She  practically stopped
dancing, and  started looking over everybody's heads to see if she could see
him. "Oh, shoot!" she said. I'd just about broken her  heart-- I really had.
I was sorry as hell I'd kidded her. Some people you  shouldn't kid, even  if
they deserve it. Here's what was very funny, though. When we got back to the
table, old Marty told the other two that Gary Cooper had just gone out. Boy,
old Laverne and Bernice nearly  committed suicide when they heard that. They
got  all excited  and asked Marty if she'd seen him  and all. Old  Mart said
she'd only caught a glimpse  of him. That  killed me. The bar was closing up
for  the  night, so I bought  them  all two  drinks apiece  quick before  it
closed, and I ordered  two more Cokes for myself. The goddam table was lousy
with glasses. The  one ugly one, Laverne, kept kidding me because I was only
drinking Cokes.  She had  a sterling sense of humor. She and  old Marty were
drinking Tom Collinses--in  the  middle of  December,  for God's  sake. They
didn't know  any better. The  blonde one, old Bernice, was drinking  bourbon
and water. She was really putting it away, too. The whole three of them kept
looking for movie stars the  whole  time. They  hardly talked--even  to each
other. Old  Marty talked more than the other two. She kept saying these very
corny, boring things, like calling the can the "little girls' room," and she
thought Buddy Singer's poor old beat-up clarinet player was really  terrific
when  he  stood  up  and took a couple of ice-cold hot licks. She called his
clarinet  a "licorice stick."  Was she corny. The other  ugly one,  Laverne,
thought she was a very witty type. She kept  asking me to call up my  father
and ask him what he was doing tonight. She kept asking me if my father had a
date or  not.  Four times she asked  me  that--she  was certainly witty. Old
Bernice,  the blonde one, didn't say hardly anything at all. Every  time I'd
ask  her something, she said "What?" That  can get on  your  nerves after  a
while. All of a sudden, when they finished  their drink,  all three of  them
stood up on me and said they had to get to bed. They said they were going to
get up early to see the first  show at Radio City Music Hall. I tried to get
them to stick around for a while, but they wouldn't. So we  said good-by and
all. I told them I'd look them up in Seattle sometime, if I ever got  there,
but I doubt if  I ever will. Look them up, I mean. With  cigarettes and all,
the  check came to  about  thirteen  bucks. I think they should've  at least
offered  to pay for the drinks they  had before I joined them--I wouldn't've
let  them, naturally, but they  should've  at least  offered. I didn't  care
much,  though. They were so ignorant, and they  had those sad, fancy hats on
and all. And that business about  getting up early  to see the first show at
Radio  City  Music  Hall  depressed   me.  If  somebody,  some  girl  in  an
awful-looking  hat,  for  instance, comes  all  the  way  to New  York--from
Seattle, Washington, for God's sake--and ends up getting  up  early  in  the
morning to  see the goddam first show at Radio  City Music Hall, it makes me
so  depressed I can't  stand it. I'd've bought the  whole three  of  them  a
hundred drinks if only they hadn't told  me that.  I left  the Lavender Room
pretty soon after they did. They were closing it up anyway, and the band had
quit  a long time ago.  In the first place, it was  one of those places that
are very terrible to be in  unless you have somebody good to dance  with, or
unless  the waiter lets you buy real drinks  instead  of  just  Cokes. There
isn't any night club in the world you can sit in  for a long time unless you
can at least buy some liquor and get drunk.  Or unless you're with some girl
that really knocks you out.
     11
     All of a sudden, on my  way out to the lobby, I got old Jane  Gallagher
on the brain again. I got her on, and I couldn't get her off. I sat  down in
this vomity-looking chair  in the lobby and thought about her and Stradlater
sitting in that goddam Ed Banky's car, and though I was pretty damn sure old
Stradlater  hadn't given her  the time--I know old Jane like a book--I still
couldn't get her off my brain. I knew her like a book. I really did. I mean,
besides checkers, she was quite fond of all athletic sports, and after I got
to know her, the whole  summer long we played  tennis together almost  every
morning  and golf almost every afternoon. I  really got  to  know  her quite
intimately.   I  don't  mean  it   was  anything  physical  or  anything--it
wasn't--but we saw each other all the time. You don't always have to get too
sexy to get to know  a  girl. The way I met her, this  Doberman pinscher she
had used to  come over and  relieve  himself on our lawn, and my mother  got
very irritated about it. She called up Jane's  mother and made a  big  stink
about it. My mother can make a very big stink about that kind of stuff. Then
what  happened, a couple of days later I saw Jane laying on her stomach next
to the swimming pool, at the club, and I said hello to her. I knew she lived
in the house next to  ours,  but I'd never  conversed  with  her  before  or
anything. She gave me the  big freeze when I said hello  that day, though. I
had a helluva time convincing her that I didn't give a good goddam where her
dog  relieved himself. He could do it in  the  living room, for all I cared.
Anyway, after that, Jane and I got to be friends and all. I played golf with
her that  same afternoon. She lost eight balls, I remember.  Eight. I had  a
terrible time getting her to at least open her eyes when she took a swing at
the ball. I improved her game immensely, though. I'm a very  good golfer. If
I told you what I go around  in, you probably  wouldn't believe me. I almost
was  once in  a  movie  short, but I changed my mind  at the  last minute. I
figured that anybody  that hates  the movies as much as I do, I'd be a phony
if I let them stick me in a  movie short. She  was a funny girl, old Jane. I
wouldn't  exactly  describe her as strictly beautiful. She knocked  me  out,
though. She was sort of muckle-mouthed.  I mean when she was talking and she
got  excited  about something,  her  mouth  sort  of  went  in  about  fifty
directions, her lips and all. That killed me. And she never really closed it
all the way, her  mouth. It  was always just  a little  bit open, especially
when she got in her  golf stance, or when  she  was  reading a book. She was
always reading, and she read very good books. She read a lot  of poetry  and
all.  She was the only  one, outside  my family, that I ever showed  Allie's
baseball mitt to, with all the poems written on it. She'd never met Allie or
anything,  because that was her first summer in Maine--before that, she went
to Cape Cod--but I told  her  quite a lot about him.  She was interested  in
that  kind  of stuff. My mother didn't like  her too  much. I mean my mother
always thought Jane and her mother were  sort of snubbing  her  or something
when they didn't say hello. My mother saw them in the village a lot, because
Jane used to drive  to  market with her  mother in this  LaSalle convertible
they had.  My  mother didn't think Jane was pretty,  even. I  did, though. I
just liked the way she looked, that's all. I remember this one afternoon. It
was the only time old  Jane and I ever got close to necking, even. It was  a
Saturday and it was raining like a bastard out, and I was over at her house,
on the porch--they had this big screened-in porch. We were playing checkers.
I used to kid her once in a while because she wouldn't take her kings out of
the back row. But  I  didn't kid  her  much, though. You never wanted to kid
Jane too much. I think I really like it best when you can kid  the pants off
a girl when the opportunity arises, but it's a funny thing. The girls I like
best  are the ones I never feel much like kidding. Sometimes  I think they'd
like it if you kidded them--in fact, I know they would--but it's hard to get
started, once you've known them a pretty long  time  and never  kidded them.
Anyway,  I  was telling you about that  afternoon Jane  and I  came close to
necking. It was raining like hell and we were out on her porch, and all of a
sudden this booze hound her  mother was married to came out on the porch and
asked Jane if there were any cigarettes in the  house. I didn't know him too
well or anything, but  he looked like the kind of guy that wouldn't talk  to
you  much unless he wanted something off  you.  He  had a lousy personality.
Anyway,  old Jane wouldn't  answer him when he  asked her if she  knew where
there was any cigarettes. So the guy asked her again, but she still wouldn't
answer him.  She didn't even  look  up from  the game.  Finally the guy went
inside the house. When he did, I asked Jane what the hell was going  on. She
wouldn't even answer  me, then. She made out like she  was concentrating  on
her next move in the game and all. Then  all of  a sudden, this tear plopped
down  on the checkerboard. On one of the red squares--boy,  I can  still see
it. She just rubbed it into the board with her finger. I don't know why, but
it bothered hell out of me. So what I did was, I went over and made her move
over on the glider so that  I could sit down  next to her--I practically sat
down in  her lap, as a matter of fact. Then she really  started  to cry, and
the  next thing I knew, I was kissing her all  over--anywhere--her eyes, her
nose, her  forehead, her eyebrows and  all, her ears--her whole face  except
her mouth and all. She sort of wouldn't  let me get to her mouth. Anyway, it
was the closest we ever got to necking.  After a while, she  got up and went
in and put on this red and white sweater she had, that  knocked  me out, and
we went to a  goddam movie. I asked her, on the way, if Mr. Cudahy--that was
the booze hound's name--had ever tried to get wise with her.  She was pretty
young, but she had this  terrific figure, and I wouldn't've put it past that
Cudahy bastard. She said no, though. I never did  find out what the hell was
the matter. Some girls  you practically never  find out what's the matter. I
don't  want you  to get the idea  she was a goddam icicle or something, just
because we never necked or horsed around much. She wasn't. I held hands with
her all the time, for instance. That doesn't sound like much, I realize, but
she was terrific to hold hands with. Most girls if you hold hands with them,
their goddam hand dies  on you, or else they think they have to  keep moving
their hand  all the  time, as  if  they  were  afraid  they'd  bore  you  or
something. Jane  was  different. We'd get into a goddam movie or  something,
and right away we'd start holding hands, and we wouldn't quit till the movie
was over. And  without changing the position or making a big deal out of it.
You never even worried, with  Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All
you  knew was,  you were  happy.  You really  were.  One  other thing I just
thought  of.  One  time, in this movie, Jane  did  something that just about
knocked me out. The newsreel was on or something, and all of a sudden I felt
this hand on the back of my neck, and it was Jane's. It was a funny thing to
do.  I  mean  she  was quite young and  all, and most girls if you  see them
putting   their  hand  on  the  back  of  somebody's  neck,  they're  around
twenty-five or thirty and usually they're doing it to their husband or their
little  kid--I do it  to my kid sister Phoebe once in a while, for instance.
But if a girl's quite young and all and she does it, it's  so pretty it just
about kills you.  Anyway, that's what  I  was  thinking about while I sat in
that vomity-looking  chair in  the  lobby. Old Jane. Every time I got to the
part  about  her out  with Stradlater in that damn Ed Banky's car, it almost
drove me crazy. I knew she  wouldn't let him get to first base with her, but
it drove me crazy anyway. I don't even like to talk about it, if you want to
know the truth. There was hardly anybody in the lobby any more. Even all the
whory-looking blondes  weren't around any more, and all of a  sudden I  felt
like getting the  hell out of the place. It was too depressing. And I wasn't
tired or anything. So I went up to my room and put on my coat. I also took a
look out the window to see if all the perverts were still in action, but the
lights and all were out now. I went down in the elevator again and got a cab
and told  the  driver to take me down to Ernie's. Ernie's is this night club
in Greenwich  Village that  my brother D. B. used  to go to quite frequently
before  he went out to Hollywood and prostituted himself. He used to take me
with  him once  in a  while.  Ernie's a big fat colored  guy  that plays the
piano.  He's  a terrific snob and  he won't  hardly even talk to  you unless
you're a big shot or a celebrity or  something,  but he can  really play the
piano. He's  so good he's almost corny, in fact. I don't exactly know what I
mean  by  that,  but  I  mean it. I  certainly like  to hear  him play,  but
sometimes you feel like turning his goddam piano over. I think it's  because
sometimes when  he plays, he sounds like  the kind of guy that won't talk to
you unless you're a big shot.
     12
     The cab I had  was  a real  old one  that  smelled like someone'd  just
tossed his cookies  in  it. I always get those vomity kind  of cabs if  I go
anywhere  late at night.  What made it worse, it was so  quiet  and lonesome
out, even though it was Saturday night.  I didn't see  hardly anybody on the
street. Now and then you just saw a  man and a girl crossing a street,  with
their  arms   around   each  other's  waists  and  all,  or   a   bunch   of
hoodlumy-looking guys  and their  dates, all of them laughing like hyenas at
something  you could  bet wasn't funny.  New  York's  terrible when somebody
laughs on the street very late at night. You can hear it for miles. It makes
you feel so lonesome and depressed. I kept wishing I could go home and shoot
the bull  for a while with old  Phoebe. But  finally, after I  was  riding a
while,  the cab  driver and I sort of struck up a conversation. His name was
Horwitz. He was a  much better guy than the other driver I'd had. Anyway,  I
thought maybe he might know  about the  ducks. "Hey, Horwitz,"  I said. "You
ever pass by the  lagoon in Central Park? Down by Central Park South?"  "The
what?" "The lagoon. That little  lake, like, there. Where the ducks are. You
know." "Yeah, what about  it?" "Well, you know the ducks that swim around in
it? In  the springtime and  all? Do you happen to know where  they go in the
wintertime,  by any chance?" "Where who goes?" "The  ducks. Do you know,  by
any chance? I mean does  somebody come around in a  truck or  something  and
take them away, or  do they  fly away by themselves--go south or something?"
Old  Horwitz  turned all  the way around  and looked  at me. He was  a  very
impatient-type guy.  He wasn't  a bad guy, though.  "How  the  hell should I
know?"  he said.  "How  the  hell  should I know a stupid thing  like that?"
"Well, don't  get sore about it," I said. He was sore about it or something.
"Who's sore? Nobody's sore." I stopped having a conversation with him, if he
was  going  to get  so damn  touchy about it. But  he started  it  up  again
himself. He turned all the way around again, and said, "The fish don't go no
place. They stay right where  they are, the fish. Right in the goddam lake."
"The  fish--that's  different. The fish is different. I'm talking  about the
ducks," I said. "What's different about  it?  Nothin's  different about it,"
Horwitz  said. Everything he said,  he  sounded sore about  something. "It's
tougher for the  fish, the  winter and  all, than it  is  for the ducks, for
Chrissake.  Use your head, for Chrissake." I didn't say anything for about a
minute. Then I said, "All right. What  do  they do,  the fish  and all, when
that  whole  little lake's a solid block of ice,  people skating  on  it and
all?" Old  Horwitz turned around again.  "What the hellaya mean what do they
do?" he yelled at me. "They stay right where they are, for Chrissake." "They
can't just ignore  the  ice. They can't just ignore it." "Who's ignoring it?
Nobody's ignoring it!" Horwitz said. He  got so damn excited and  all, I was
afraid  he was going to drive the  cab right into a lamppost  or  something.
"They live right in the goddam  ice. It's their nature,  for Chrissake. They
get frozen right in one position for  the whole winter." "Yeah? What do they
eat, then? I mean if  they're frozen solid, they can't  swim  around looking
for  food and  all." "Their  bodies,  for Chrissake--what'sa matter with ya?
Their bodies take in nutrition and all, right through the goddam seaweed and
crap that's  in the  ice. They got their pores open the  whole time.  That's
their nature, for Chrissake. See what I mean?" He turned way the hell around
again to look at me. "Oh," I said.  I let it drop. I was afraid he was going
to  crack the damn  taxi up or something. Besides, he was such a touchy guy,
it wasn't any pleasure discussing anything with him. "Would you care to stop
off  and  have  a drink with  me  somewhere?" I said.  He didn't answer  me,
though. I guess he was still thinking.  I asked him again,  though. He was a
pretty good guy. Quite  amusing and all. "I ain't got no time for no liquor,
bud," he said. "How  the  hell old are  you, anyways?  Why ain'tcha  home in
bed?" "I'm not tired." When I got out in front of Ernie's and paid the fare,
old  Horwitz  brought up  the  fish again. He certainly had it  on his mind.
"Listen," he said.  "If you was  a  fish,  Mother Nature'd take care of you,
wouldn't  she? Right? You don't think them fish just  die when it gets to be
winter, do ya?" "No, but--" "You're goddam right they don't,"  Horwitz said,
and drove off like a bat out of  hell. He was about the touchiest guy I ever
met.  Everything you said made him  sore.  Even though it  was so late,  old
Ernie's was  jampacked.  Mostly with prep school  jerks  and  college jerks.
Almost  every  damn school  in  the world gets  out  earlier  for  Christmas
vacation than the schools I go to. You could hardly check your coat,  it was
so  crowded. It was  pretty  quiet, though,  because Ernie  was  playing the
piano. It  was  supposed to be something holy, for  God's sake, when  he sat
down at the piano. Nobody's that good. About three couples, besides me, were
waiting for tables, and they were all shoving and standing on tiptoes to get
a  look  at  old Ernie while he played. He had a big damn mirror in front of
the piano, with this big spotlight on him, so that everybody could watch his
face while he played. You couldn't see his fingers while he played--just his
big old face. Big deal. I'm not too sure what the  name of the song was that
he was playing when I came in, but whatever it  was, he was really  stinking
it up. He was putting all  these  dumb, show-offy ripples in the high notes,
and a lot of other very tricky stuff  that gives me  a pain  in the ass. You
should've heard the crowd, though, when he was finished. You would've puked.
They went mad. They were exactly the same morons that laugh like  hyenas  in
the movies at  stuff that isn't funny. I  swear to  God, if  I  were a piano
player or an  actor or something and all those dopes thought I was terrific,
I'd hate it.  I wouldn't even  want  them to clap for me. People always clap
for  the wrong things. If  I were a piano player,  I'd play it in the goddam
closet. Anyway, when he was finished, and everybody was clapping their heads
off, old Ernie turned around on his stool  and gave this very  phony, humble
bow. Like as if he was a helluva humble guy, besides being  a terrific piano
player. It was very phony--I  mean him being such a big snob and  all.  In a
funny  way,  though, I felt sort of sorry  for  him when he  was finished. I
don't even think he knows any more when he's playing  right or not. It isn't
all  his  fault.  I partly blame  all  those dopes  that  clap  their  heads
off--they'd  foul up anybody, if you gave them a chance. Anyway, it  made me
feel depressed  and  lousy again, and I damn near got  my coat back and went
back to the hotel, but it  was too  early and I didn't  feel much like being
all alone. They finally got me this stinking table, right up against  a wall
and  behind a goddam post, where you couldn't  see anything.  It was one  of
those  tiny  little tables that if the people at the next table don't get up
to let  you by--and  they  never do,  the  bastards--you practically have to
climb  into your  chair. I  ordered a  Scotch and soda, which is my favorite
drink, next to frozen Daiquiris. If you were only around six  years old, you
could  get  liquor at Ernie's, the place was so  dark and all,  and besides,
nobody  cared how old you were. You could even be a  dope fiend and nobody'd
care. I was surrounded by jerks. I'm  not kidding. At this other tiny table,
right to my left, practically on top of me, there was this funny-looking guy
and this funny-looking girl. They were around my age, or maybe just a little
older.  It was funny. You  could see they were being careful  as hell not to
drink up the minimum too fast. I listened to their conversation for a while,
because I didn't have anything else to do. He was telling her about some pro
football game he'd seen that afternoon. He gave her every single goddam play
in  the  whole game--I'm  not  kidding. He  was the most  boring guy  I ever
listened  to.  And you  could tell  his date  wasn't  even interested in the
goddam game, but she  was even funnier-looking  than he was,  so I guess she
had  to listen. Real ugly  girls  have it  tough.  I  feel so sorry for them
sometimes. Sometimes I can't even look at them,  especially if they're  with
some dopey guy  that's  telling them all about a goddam football game. On my
right, the conversation was even  worse, though. On my right  there was this
very  Joe Yale-looking  guy,  in  a  gray  flannel  suit  and  one of  those
flitty-looking Tattersall vests.  All those Ivy League  bastards look alike.
My father wants  me  to  go to  Yale,  or maybe  Princeton,  but I  swear, I
wouldn't go to one  of those Ivy League  colleges, if I was dying, for God's
sake.  Anyway,  this Joe  Yale-looking guy had  a terrific-looking girl with
him.  Boy, she was  good-looking. But you should've heard  the  conversation
they were having. In the  first place, they were both slightly crocked. What
he was doing, he was giving her a feel under the table, and at the same time
telling her all  about some guy in his dorm that had eaten a whole bottle of
aspirin  and nearly  committed  suicide.  His date kept saying to  him, "How
horrible...  Don't,  darling.  Please,  don't.  Not  here."  Imagine  giving
somebody a feel  and telling them about a guy committing suicide at the same
time! They killed  me. I  certainly began to feel  like a prize horse's ass,
though, sitting there  all  by  myself. There wasn't  anything to  do except
smoke  and drink. What I did do,  though, I told the waiter to ask old Ernie
if he'd care to join me  for a drink. I told him to tell him  I was D. B. 's
brother.  I  don't think he ever  even gave  him my message,  though.  Those
bastards never give your message to anybody. All of a sudden, this girl came
up  to me and said,  "Holden Caulfield!" Her name was  Lillian  Simmons.  My
brother D.  B. used to go  around with her  for  a while. She had  very  big
knockers. "Hi," I  said. I tried to  get up, naturally, but  it was some job
getting  up, in a place like that. She  had  some Navy officer with her that
looked like  he had  a  poker up his ass.  "How marvelous to see  you!"  old
Lillian Simmons said. Strictly a phony. "How's your big brother?" That's all
she really wanted  to know. "He's  fine. He's in Hollywood." "In  Hollywood!
How marvelous!  What's he doing?"  "I don't know. Writing," I said. I didn't
feel like discussing it. You  could  tell she thought it was a big deal, his
being in Hollywood. Almost everybody does. Mostly people  who've never  read
any of  his stories. It drives me crazy, though. "How exciting," old Lillian
said. Then she introduced me to the Navy guy. His name was Commander Blop or
something. He was one of those guys that think they're being a pansy if they
don't break around forty  of your  fingers  when they  shake hands with you.
God, I hate that stuff. "Are you all alone, baby?" old Lillian asked me. She
was blocking  up the whole goddam traffic in the  aisle. You  could tell she
liked to  block up a lot of traffic. This waiter was waiting for her to move
out of the way, but she didn't even notice him. It was funny. You could tell
the waiter didn't like her  much,  you could  tell even  the Navy guy didn't
like  her  much, even though he was dating her.  And I didn't like her much.
Nobody did. You had to feel sort of sorry for her, in a way. "Don't you have
a date, baby?" she asked me. I was standing up now, and she didn't even tell
me  to sit down.  She was the  type  that keeps you standing  up  for hours.
"Isn't  he  handsome?" she said to the  Navy guy.  "Holden,  you're  getting
handsomer by the minute." The Navy guy told her to come on. He told her they
were blocking up the whole aisle. "Holden, come join  us," old Lillian said.
"Bring your drink."  "I  was  just leaving," I  told her. "I  have  to  meet
somebody." You could tell she was just  trying  to get  in good with me.  So
that I'd tell old D. B. about it. "Well, you little so-and-so. All right for
you. Tell your big brother I hate him, when you see him." Then she left. The
Navy guy  and  I told each  other  we were glad to've met each other.  Which
always kills me. I'm always saying "Glad  to've met you" to somebody I'm not
at  all glad I  met. If you  want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff,
though. After I'd  told her I had to meet somebody, I didn't have any goddam
choice except to leave. I couldn't even stick around  to hear old Ernie play
something  halfway decent. But I  certainly wasn't going  to sit  down at  a
table with old Lillian Simmons and that Navy guy and be bored to death. So I
left. It made me mad,  though, when I was getting my coat. People are always
ruining things for you.
     13
     I walked all the way back  to  the hotel.  Forty-one gorgeous blocks. I
didn't do it  because I felt like walking or anything. It was more because I
didn't feel like getting in  and out  of another taxicab.  Sometimes you get
tired of riding in  taxicabs the same way you get tired riding in elevators.
All of a sudden, you have to walk, no matter how far or  how high up. When I
was  a kid, I used  to walk all the way up to our apartment very frequently.
Twelve stories. You wouldn't even have known it had snowed at all. There was
hardly  any snow on the  sidewalks. But  it was freezing cold, and I took my
red hunting hat  out of my pocket and put it on--I  didn't give a damn how I
looked. I even put  the earlaps down. I wished I knew who'd swiped my gloves
at Pencey, because my hands were freezing. Not that I'd have done much about
it even if I had known. I'm one of these very yellow guys. I try not to show
it,  but I  am. For  instance,  if I'd found  out at Pencey who'd  stolen my
gloves, I probably would've  gone down to the crook's room and  said, "Okay.
How 'bout  handing over  those gloves?" Then the  crook that had stolen them
probably would've said, his voice very innocent and all, "What gloves?" Then
what I probably would've  done, I'd have gone  in his closet  and found  the
gloves somewhere.  Hidden in his goddam galoshes or something, for instance.
I'd have  taken them  out and showed them  to  the guy and said, "I  suppose
these  are  your goddam  gloves?"  Then the crook probably would've given me
this very  phony, innocent look, and  said, "I never saw those gloves before
in  my  life. If they're  yours, take 'em. I don't want  the goddam things."
Then  I probably would've just stood there for  about five minutes. I'd have
the damn gloves right in my  hand and all, but I'd feel I ought to sock  the
guy in the jaw or something--break his goddam jaw. Only, I wouldn't have the
guts to do it. I'd just stand there,  trying to look tough. What I might do,
I might say  something very cutting and snotty,  to rile  him up--instead of
socking him in the  jaw.  Anyway if  I did  say something  very cutting  and
snotty,  he'd probably  get  up  and  come  over  to  me  and say,  "Listen,
Caulfield. Are  you calling  me a crook?" Then,  instead  of saying, "You're
goddam right I am, you dirty crooked bastard!"  all I probably would've said
would be, "All I know is my goddam gloves  were  in your  goddam  galoshes."
Right  away then, the guy would know for sure that I wasn't  going to take a
sock  at  him,  and  he probably  would've  said, "Listen.  Let's  get  this
straight. Are  you  calling  me  a thief?"  Then  I  probably would've said,
"Nobody's calling  anybody a  thief. All  I know is my gloves  were in  your
goddam galoshes." It could  go on like that  for hours. Finally, though, I'd
leave his room without even taking a sock  at  him. I'd probably go down  to
the can and sneak a cigarette and watch myself getting tough in  the mirror.
Anyway, that's what I thought about the whole way back to the hotel. It's no
fun to he  yellow. Maybe I'm not all yellow. I don't know. I think maybe I'm
just partly yellow and partly the type that doesn't give  much of  a damn if
they lose their gloves. One of my troubles is,  I never care too much when I
lose something--it used to drive my mother crazy when I was a kid. Some guys
spend days looking for something they  lost. I  never  seem to have anything
that if I  lost it I'd care  too  much. Maybe that's why I'm partly  yellow.
It's no excuse, though. It really isn't. What you should be is not yellow at
all. If  you're supposed to sock somebody in the jaw, and  you sort of  feel
like doing it, you should do it. I'm just no good at  it, though. I'd rather
push  a guy out the window or chop his head off with an ax  than sock him in
the jaw. I hate fist fights. I don't mind  getting hit so much--although I'm
not  crazy about it,  naturally--but what scares me  most in a fist fight is
the  guy's face.  I can't  stand looking  at  the  other  guy's face, is  my
trouble.  It  wouldn't  be  so  bad  if you could  both  be  blindfolded  or
something. It's  a funny  kind of yellowness, when  you come to think of it,
but it's yellowness, all right. I'm not kidding myself.  The more  I thought
about my  gloves and my yellowness, the more depressed I got, and I decided,
while  I was walking and all, to stop off  and  have a  drink somewhere. I'd
only had three drinks at Ernie's, and I didn't even finish the last one. One
thing I have, it's a terrific capacity. I  can drink  all night and not even
show it, if I'm in the  mood. Once, at the Whooton School, this  other  boy,
Raymond  Goldfarb, and  I bought a pint of Scotch and drank it in the chapel
one Saturday night, where nobody'd  see  us. He  got  stinking, but I hardly
didn't even show it. I just got very cool and nonchalant. I  puked  before I
went to bed, but I didn't really have  to--I forced myself. Anyway, before I
got  to the hotel, I started  to go in this dumpy-looking bar, but two  guys
came out, drunk as  hell, and wanted  to know where the subway was.  One  of
them  was  this very Cuban-looking guy, and he kept breathing  his  stinking
breath  in my face while I gave him directions. I ended up not even going in
the damn bar.  I just went  back to the hotel. The whole lobby was empty. It
smelled like fifty  million dead cigars. It  really did.  I wasn't sleepy or
anything, but I  was feeling  sort  of lousy.  Depressed  and  all. I almost
wished I was dead. Then, all of a sudden, I got in this big mess. The  first
thing when I got in  the elevator, the elevator guy said to me,  "Innarested
in having a good time, fella? Or is it too late for you?" "How do you mean?"
I  said. I didn't know what  he was driving at or anything. "Innarested in a
little tail t'night?" "Me?" I said. Which  was a very  dumb answer, but it's
quite embarrassing when somebody comes right up and asks you a question like
that.  "How  old are  you,  chief?" the elevator guy said.  "Why?"  I  said.
"Twenty-two." "Uh huh. Well, how 'bout it? Y'innarested? Five bucks a throw.
Fifteen bucks the  whole night." He looked at his wrist watch.  "Till  noon.
Five bucks a throw, fifteen bucks till noon." "Okay," I said. It was against
my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed  I didn't  even think.
That's the whole trouble. When you're feeling very depressed, you can't even
think.  "Okay  what? A throw, or till noon? I gotta know."  "Just  a throw."
"Okay, what room ya in?" I looked  at the red thing with my number on it, on
my key. "Twelve twenty-two," I said. I was already sort of sorry I'd let the
thing start rolling, but it was too late now. "Okay. I'll send a  girl up in
about  fifteen minutes." He  opened  the doors  and I got out.  "Hey, is she
good-looking?" I  asked him. "I don't want any  old bag." "No old bag. Don't
worry  about it, chief." "Who do  I pay?" "Her," he said. "Let's go, chief."
He  shut the doors, practically  right in my face. I went to my room and put
some water  on my hair, but you  can't really comb a  crew cut  or anything.
Then I tested to  see if my breath  stank  from so many  cigarettes and  the
Scotch and sodas I drank at Ernie's. All you do is hold your hand under your
mouth  and  blow your breath up toward the old nostrils. It didn't  seem  to
stink much, but  I brushed  my teeth anyway. Then  I  put on  another  clean
shirt. I  knew  I  didn't have  to get  all  dolled up for  a  prostitute or
anything, but it sort of gave me something to do. I  was a little nervous. I
was starting to feel pretty sexy and all, but I was a little nervous anyway.
If you want to know the  truth, I'm  a virgin. I really am. I've had quite a
few opportunities to lose my virginity and all, but I've never got around to
it yet. Something always happens. For instance, if you're at a girl's house,
her parents always come home at  the wrong time--or you're afraid they will.
Or if you're  in the back seat of somebody's car, there's always  somebody's
date in the front seat--some girl, I mean--that  always wants to know what's
going  on all  over the whole goddam  car.  I mean  some girl in front keeps
turning  around to see what the  hell's going on. Anyway,  something  always
happens. I came quite close to doing it  a couple of times, though. One time
in  particular, I remember. Something  went  wrong, though  --I  don't  even
remember  what any more. The thing is, most  of the time when you're  coming
pretty  close  to doing it with a  girl--a  girl that isn't a prostitute  or
anything, I mean--she keeps telling  you to  stop. The trouble with me is, I
stop.  Most guys don't. I  can't help it. You never know whether they really
want you to stop, or whether they're just scared as hell, or whether they're
just telling you to stop so that if you do go  through with it, the blame'll
be  on you, not  them. Anyway,  I keep stopping.  The trouble is,  I  get to
feeling  sorry for them.  I mean most girls  are so dumb and  all. After you
neck them for a while, you can really  watch them  losing their brains.  You
take a girl when she really gets passionate, she  just hasn't any  brains. I
don't know. They tell me to stop, so I stop. I always wish I hadn't, after I
take them home, but I keep  doing it anyway.  Anyway, while I was putting on
another clean shirt, I sort of figured  this was my big chance, in  a way. I
figured if  she  was a  prostitute and all, I could get  in some practice on
her,  in  case  I ever get married  or  anything.  I  worry about that stuff
sometimes. I read this book once, at the Whooton School, that had  this very
sophisticated, suave, sexy guy in it. Monsieur Blanchard was his name, I can
still remember. It was a lousy book, but this Blanchard guy was pretty good.
He had this big chвteau and all on the Riviera, in Europe, and all he did in
his spare time was beat women off  with a club. He  was a real rake and all,
but he knocked women out. He said, in this one  part, that a woman's body is
like a  violin and all, and that it  takes a terrific musician  to  play  it
right.  It was a very  corny book--I  realize that--but I  couldn't get that
violin stuff out of my mind anyway. In a way, that's why I sort of wanted to
get some practice in, in  case I  ever get married.  Caulfield and his Magic
Violin, boy. It's corny, I realize,  but it isn't too corny. I wouldn't mind
being  pretty good at  that stuff. Half the time, if you really want to know
the  truth, when I'm  horsing  around with a girl, I have  a helluva  lot of
trouble just finding what I'm looking for, for God's sake, if you  know what
I mean. Take this  girl that I just missed  having sexual  intercourse with,
that I  told you about. It  took  me about an  hour to just  get her  goddam
brassiere off. By the time I did get it off, she was about ready  to spit in
my eye. Anyway, I kept walking around the  room, waiting for this prostitute
to show up. I  kept  hoping she'd be  good-looking. I didn't  care too much,
though. I sort of just wanted to get it over with. Finally, somebody knocked
on the door, and when I went to open it, I had  my suitcase right in the way
and  I  fell over it and damn near broke  my knee. I always  pick a gorgeous
time to fall over  a  suitcase or  something. When I opened  the door,  this
prostitute was standing there. She had a  polo coat on, and no hat. She  was
sort of a blonde, but  you could tell she  dyed her hair. She wasn't any old
bag, though. "How  do  you do," I  said. Suave as  hell,  boy. "You the  guy
Maurice said?" she asked me. She didn't seem too goddam friendly. "Is he the
elevator boy?" "Yeah," she said. "Yes, I  am. Come in, won't you?" I said. I
was getting more  and  more nonchalant as  it went  along. I really was. She
came in and took her coat  off right away and sort of chucked it on the bed.
She had on a  green dress underneath. Then she sort  of sat down sideways on
the chair that went with the desk  in the room and started jiggling her foot
up and down. She crossed her  legs and started jiggling this one foot up and
down. She was very nervous, for a prostitute. She really was. I think it was
because she was young as hell. She was around my age. I sat down in  the big
chair,  next to her, and offered her a cigarette. "I don't smoke," she said.
She had a tiny little  wheeny-whiny  voice. You  could hardly  hear her. She
never  said thank you,  either,  when you  offered her  something. She  just
didn't  know any better. "Allow  me to  introduce  myself.  My name  is  Jim
Steele," I said. "Ya got a watch on ya?" she said. She didn't care what  the
hell  my  name  was,  naturally.  "Hey,  how  old  are you,  anyways?"  "Me?
Twenty-two."  "Like  fun you  are." It was a  funny thing to say. It sounded
like a real kid. You'd think a  prostitute and all would say  "Like hell you
are" or  "Cut the crap" instead of "Like fun you  are." "How old are you?" I
asked her. "Old enough to know better," she said. She was  really witty. "Ya
got a watch on ya?" she asked me again, and then she stood up and pulled her
dress over her head. I certainly felt peculiar when she did that. I mean she
did it  so  sudden and all.  I know you're supposed to feel pretty sexy when
somebody gets up and pulls their dress  over their head,  but I didn't. Sexy
was  about  the last thing I was feeling. I  felt much  more depressed  than
sexy. "Ya got a  watch on ya, hey?" "No.  No,  I  don't," I said. Boy, was I
feeling peculiar. "What's your name?" I  asked her. All she had  on was this
pink slip.  It was  really quite embarrassing. It  really  was. "Sunny," she
said.  "Let's go,  hey." "Don't you feel like talking for a while?" I  asked
her.  It was a childish thing to say, but I  was feeling  so damn  peculiar.
"Are you in a very big hurry?" She  looked at me like I  was a madman. "What
the heck ya wanna talk about?" she  said. "I don't know. Nothing special.  I
just thought perhaps  you  might care to chat for a while." She sat down  in
the chair  next to  the desk again. She didn't  like  it, though,  you could
tell.  She started  jiggling  her foot again--boy,  she was  a nervous girl.
"Would you care for a cigarette now?" I said. I forgot  she didn't smoke. "I
don't smoke. Listen, if you're gonna  talk, do  it. I  got  things to do." I
couldn't think  of anything to  talk about, though. I thought  of asking her
how she  got  to be a prostitute and  all, but I  was scared to ask her. She
probably wouldn't've told me anyway. "You don't come from New York, do you?"
I said finally. That's all I could think of. "Hollywood," she said. Then she
got up and went over to where she'd put her dress down, on the bed. "Ya  got
a  hanger?  I don't want  to  get my dress  all  wrinkly. It's brand-clean."
"Sure," I said right away. I was only too glad to get up and do something. I
took her dress over to  the closet and hung it  up for her. It was funny. It
made  me feel sort of  sad when  I hung it up. I  thought  of her going in a
store and buying it,  and  nobody in the store knowing she was  a prostitute
and all. The salesman probably just thought she  was a regular girl when she
bought it. It made me feel sad as hell--I don't know why exactly. I sat down
again and  tried to  keep  the  old  conversation  going.  She  was  a lousy
conversationalist. "Do you work  every night?"  I asked her--it sounded sort
of awful,  after I'd said it. "Yeah."  She was walking all around  the room.
She picked up the menu off the desk and read it. "What do you  do during the
day?" She sort of shrugged her shoulders. She was pretty skinny. "Sleep.  Go
to the  show." She  put down the  menu and  looked  at me. "Let's go, hey. I
haven't got all--"  "Look,"  I  said. "I don't  feel  very much  like myself
tonight. I've had a rough night. Honest to God. I'll pay you and all, but do
you mind very much  if we don't do it? Do  you mind very much?" The  trouble
was, I  just  didn't want to  do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you
want to know  the truth. She was depressing. Her green dress hanging in  the
closet and all. And besides, I don't think I could ever do it with  somebody
that sits in a  stupid movie all day long. I really don't think I could. She
came over  to me, with  this funny look on her face, like as if  she  didn't
believe me.  "What'sa matter?" she  said. "Nothing's the matter." Boy, was I
getting  nervous. "The thing is, I had  an operation very recently."  "Yeah?
Where?" "On my wuddayacallit--my clavichord." "Yeah? Where the hell's that?"
"The clavichord?"  I said. "Well, actually, it's in the spinal canal. I mean
it's  quite  a ways  down in  the spinal  canal." "Yeah?" she said.  "That's
tough." Then she  sat down on  my goddam lap. "You're cute."  She made me so
nervous, I just kept on lying my head off.  "I'm still recuperating," I told
her. "You look like a guy in  the movies.  You  know. Whosis. You know who I
mean. What the  heck's his name?" "I don't know," I said.  She  wouldn't get
off my goddam lap. "Sure you know.  He was  in that  pitcher  with  Mel-vine
Douglas? The  one that  was Mel-vine  Douglas's kid brother? That falls  off
this boat? You  know who I mean." "No, I don't. I go to the movies as seldom
as  I can." Then  she started getting  funny.  Crude and all.  "Do  you mind
cutting  it out?" I said. "I'm not  in the mood, I just told you. I just had
an  operation." She didn't get up  from my lap or anything,  but she gave me
this terrifically dirty  look. "Listen," she said. "I was sleepin' when that
crazy Maurice woke me up. If you think I'm--" "I said I'd pay you for coming
and  all.  I  really  will.  I  have  plenty  of dough.  It's just  that I'm
practically just  recovering from a  very serious--"  "What the heck did you
tell  that crazy  Maurice  you wanted  a girl for, then? If you just  had  a
goddam  operation on  your goddam  wuddayacallit.  Huh?" "I  thought  I'd be
feeling a lot better than I do. I was a little premature in my calculations.
No kidding. I'm sorry. If you'll just get up a second, I'll get my wallet. I
mean it."  She was sore as hell, but she got up off  my goddam lap so that I
could go over and get my wallet off the chiffonier. I took out a five-dollar
bill and handed it  to her. "Thanks a lot,"  I told her. "Thanks a million."
"This is a five. It costs ten." She was getting funny, you could tell. I was
afraid something like that would happen--I really  was. "Maurice said five,"
I told her. "He said fifteen till  noon and only five for a throw." "Ten for
a throw." "He said  five. I'm  sorry--I really  am--but that's all I'm gonna
shell out." She sort of shrugged her  shoulders, the way she did before, and
then she said,  very cold,  "Do you mind getting me my frock? Or would it be
too much trouble?" She was a pretty spooky kid.  Even with that little bitty
voice she had, she could sort of scare you a little bit. If she'd been a big
old prostitute, with a  lot of makeup on her face and all, she wouldn't have
been  half as spooky.  I went and got  her dress for her. She put  it on and
all, and then she picked up her polo coat off the bed. "So long, crumb-bum,"
she said. "So  long," I said.  I  didn't thank  her or  anything. I'm glad I
didn't.
     14
     After Old Sunny was gone,  I sat in the chair for a  while and smoked a
couple  of  cigarettes.  It  was  getting  daylight  outside.  Boy,  I  felt
miserable.  I felt  so depressed, you can't  imagine. What  I did, I started
talking, sort  of out loud,  to  Allie. I  do that sometimes when I get very
depressed. I keep  telling him to  go  home and get his bike and  meet me in
front of  Bobby  Fallon's house.  Bobby Fallon used to live quite near us in
Maine--this is, years ago. Anyway,  what happened  was, one  day Bobby and I
were  going over  to Lake Sedebego on our bikes.  We  were going to take our
lunches and all, and  our BB guns--we were kids and  all, and  we thought we
could shoot something with our BB guns. Anyway, Allie heard us talking about
it, and he wanted to go, and I wouldn't let him. I told him he was  a child.
So once in a while, now, when I get very  depressed, I keep  saying  to him,
"Okay.  Go home and get  your bike  and meet me in front  of  Bobby's house.
Hurry up."  It  wasn't that I didn't  use  to take him  with me  when I went
somewhere.  I  did. But  that one day,  I didn't. He didn't  get  sore about
it--he never got sore about  anything-- but I keep thinking about it anyway,
when I get very depressed. Finally, though, I  got undressed and got in bed.
I felt like praying or something, when I was in bed, but I couldn't do it. I
can't always  pray  when I feel like it. In  the first place, I'm sort of an
atheist. I like Jesus and  all,  but I  don't care too much for  most of the
other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for  instance. They annoy  the
hell  out of me, if you  want to know the truth. They  were all right  after
Jesus was dead and  all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use
to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like
almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples.  If  you want to know
the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic
and all,  that lived in the tombs and  kept  cutting  himself with stones. I
like him  ten times as much as  the Disciples, that poor bastard. I  used to
get in quite  a few arguments about it, when I  was at Whooton  School, with
this boy that  lived  down  the corridor, Arthur  Childs. Old  Childs was  a
Quaker and all, and he read the Bible  all the time. He was a very nice kid,
and I liked him, but I could never see eye to eye with him on a lot of stuff
in  the Bible, especially the Disciples. He kept telling me if I didn't like
the Disciples, then I didn't like Jesus and all. He said that  because Jesus
picked  the  Disciples,  you  were supposed to like them. I said  I  knew He
picked them, but that He  picked  them at random. I said He didn't have time
to go around analyzing everybody. I said I wasn't blaming Jesus or anything.
It  wasn't  His  fault that  He didn't have any time. I remember I asked old
Childs if he thought  Judas, the one  that betrayed Jesus and  all, went  to
Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That's exactly where
I disagreed with him. I said I'd bet a thousand bucks  that Jesus never sent
old Judas to  Hell. I still would, too, if I  had a thousand bucks.  I think
any one  of  the  Disciples would've  sent  him to  Hell and  all--and fast,
too--but I'll  bet anything  Jesus didn't do it. Old Childs said the trouble
with me was that I didn't go to church or anything. He was right about that,
in a way. I don't. In  the first place, my parents are  different religions,
and all the children in  our family  are atheists. If you  want to know  the
truth, I can't  even stand ministers. The ones  they've had at every  school
I've gone to, they all have  these Holy  Joe voices  when they  start giving
their sermons. God, I hate that. I don't see why the hell they can't talk in
their natural  voice. They sound so phony when they talk. Anyway, when I was
in  bed, I  couldn't pray  worth a  damn. Every time I got  started, I  kept
picturing  old Sunny calling me a crumb-bum. Finally,  I sat  up in  bed and
smoked another cigarette. It tasted lousy. I must've smoked around two packs
since  I left Pencey.  All of  a sudden, while I was  laying  there smoking,
somebody knocked on  the  door.  I  kept hoping it wasn't my door  they were
knocking on,  but  I knew damn well it  was. I don't  know how I knew, but I
knew.  I knew who it was,  too.  I'm  psychic. "Who's there?"  I said. I was
pretty scared. I'm  very yellow about those things. They just knocked again,
though.  Louder. Finally I  got  out of bed,  with  just my pajamas on,  and
opened the  door. I  didn't even  have to turn  the  light  on  in the room,
because it was  already daylight. Old Sunny and  Maurice, the pimpy elevator
guy, were standing there. "What's the matter? Wuddaya want?" I said. Boy, my
voice was  shaking like  hell.  "Nothin' much," old Maurice said. "Just five
bucks."  He did  all the talking for the two of them. Old  Sunny just  stood
there next to him, with her mouth open and all. "I paid  her already. I gave
her  five bucks.  Ask her,"  I said. Boy,  was  my  voice shaking. "It's ten
bucks, chief. I tole ya  that.  Ten bucks  for a throw,  fifteen bucks  till
noon.  I  tole ya that."  "You did not tell me  that.  You said five bucks a
throw. You said fifteen bucks  till noon, all right, but  I distinctly heard
you--" "Open up, chief." "What for?" I said. God, my old heart was damn near
beating me out of the room. I wished  I was dressed at  least. It's terrible
to be just  in your pajamas when something  like  that happens.  "Let's  go,
chief," old Maurice said. Then he gave  me a big shove with his crumby hand.
I damn near fell over on my can--he was a huge sonuvabitch. The next thing I
knew, he and old Sunny were both in the room. They acted like they owned the
damn place. Old Sunny sat  down on the window sill.  Old Maurice sat down in
the big chair and  loosened his collar and all--he was wearing this elevator
operator's uniform. Boy, was I nervous.  "All right, chief, let's have it. I
gotta get back  to work." "I  told you about ten times, I  don't owe  you  a
cent. I  already gave  her the five--" "Cut the crap,  now. Let's  have it."
"Why should  I give her  another five bucks?" I said. My voice  was cracking
all over the place. "You're trying to chisel me." Old Maurice unbuttoned his
whole  uniform coat. All he had on  underneath was a phony shirt collar, but
no shirt or anything. He had a big fat hairy stomach. "Nobody's tryna chisel
nobody," he said. "Let's have it, chief." "No." When  I said that, he got up
from his chair and started walking towards me and all. He looked like he was
very, very tired or very, very  bored. God,  was I scared. I sort of  had my
arms folded,  I  remember. It wouldn't have been so bad, I don't think, if I
hadn't had just my goddam pajamas on. "Let's have it, chief."  He came right
up to where I was standing. That's all he could say. "Let's have it, chief."
He was a real moron. "No." "Chief, you're gonna force me inna roughin' ya up
a  little bit. I don't wanna do it, but that's the way it looks,"  he  said.
"You owe us five bucks." "I don't owe you five bucks," I said. "If you rough
me up, I'll yell like hell. I'll  wake up everybody in the hotel. The police
and  all." My voice was shaking  like a bastard. "Go ahead. Yell your goddam
head off. Fine," old Maurice said. "Want your parents to know you spent  the
night  with a whore? High-class  kid like you?" He was pretty sharp,  in his
crumby way.  He  really  was.  "Leave me  alone. If  you'd said ten, it'd be
different.  But you distinctly--"  "Are  ya gonna let us have it?" He had me
right  up  against the damn door. He was almost standing on top of  me,  his
crumby old hairy stomach and all.  "Leave me alone.  Get the  hell out of my
room," I said. I still  had my arms folded and  all. God, what a jerk I was.
Then  Sunny said something for the first time. "Hey, Maurice. Want me to get
his wallet?" she said. "It's right  on the wutchamacallit." "Yeah,  get it."
"Leave my wallet alone!"  "I  awreddy  got it,"  Sunny  said. She waved five
bucks at me. "See? All I'm takin' is the five you owe me. I'm no crook." All
of a sudden I started to cry. I'd give anything if I hadn't, but I did. "No,
you're no  crooks,"  I  said.  "You're just stealing five--" "Shut up,"  old
Maurice said, and  gave  me  a  shove.  "Leave him alone,  hey," Sunny said.
"C'mon,  hey.  We got the  dough  he owes  us. Let's go.  C'mon, hey."  "I'm
comin'," old  Maurice said.  But he didn't. "I  mean it, Maurice, hey. Leave
him alone." "Who's hurtin' anybody?" he said, innocent as hell. Then what he
did, he snapped his finger very hard on my pajamas. I  won't tell  you where
he snapped it, but  it  hurt like hell.  I told  him  he  was a goddam dirty
moron. "What's that?" he said. He put his  hand behind his ear,  like a deaf
guy. "What's that? What am I?" I was still sort of crying. I was so damn mad
and  nervous and  all.  "You're a dirty  moron," I  said.  "You're  a stupid
chiseling moron, and in about two years you'll be one  of those scraggy guys
that come up to you on the street and ask for a dime for coffee. You'll have
snot  all over  your dirty filthy overcoat, and you'll be--" Then he smacked
me. I didn't even try to get  out of the way or duck or anything. All I felt
was  this terrific punch  in  my stomach. I wasn't knocked  out or anything,
though, because I remember looking up from the floor and seeing them both go
out  the door  and shut it. Then I stayed  on the  floor a fairly long time,
sort of  the way  I  did  with Stradlater. Only,  this time I thought  I was
dying. I really did. I thought I was drowning or something. The trouble was,
I  could  hardly  breathe.  When I did finally get up, I had to walk to  the
bathroom all doubled up and holding  onto my stomach and all. But I'm crazy.
I swear  to  God  I am.  About halfway to  the bathroom,  I  sort of started
pretending I had a bullet in my guts. Old 'Maurice had plugged me. Now I was
on the way  to the bathroom  to get  a good  shot of bourbon or something to
steady my nerves and help me really go into action. I pictured myself coming
out of the goddam bathroom, dressed and all, with my automatic in my pocket,
and staggering  around  a  little bit. Then I'd walk downstairs, instead  of
using  the elevator.  I'd  hold onto  the banister and  all, with this blood
trickling out of  the side of my mouth a little at a time. What  I'd do, I'd
walk  down  a  few floors--holding  onto my guts, blood leaking all over the
place-- and then I'd  ring  the elevator bell. As soon as old Maurice opened
the  doors,  he'd  see  me  with  the automatic  in my hand  and  he'd start
screaming at me, in this very high-pitched, yellow-belly voice, to leave him
alone. But I'd plug him anyway. Six shots right through his fat hairy belly.
Then I'd throw my automatic down the elevator shaft--after I'd wiped off all
the finger  prints and all. Then I'd crawl back to my  room and call up Jane
and  have  her come over and  bandage up  my guts. I pictured  her holding a
cigarette for me  to smoke while I was bleeding and all.  The goddam movies.
They can ruin you. I'm not kidding.  I stayed in  the bathroom  for about an
hour, taking  a bath and all.  Then  I got back in bed. It took me  quite  a
while to get to sleep--I wasn't even tired--but finally I did. What I really
felt  like, though,  was committing  suicide. I  felt like  jumping out  the
window.  I probably would've done it, too, if I'd been sure somebody'd cover
me up as soon  as  I landed. I didn't  want a  bunch of  stupid  rubbernecks
looking at me when I was all gory.
     15
     I didn't sleep too long, because I think it was only around ten o'clock
when I  woke up. I felt pretty hungry as soon as I had a cigarette. The last
time I'd eaten  was those two hamburgers I had with Brossard and Ackley when
we went  in to Agerstown to the movies. That was  a long time ago. It seemed
like fifty years ago. The phone was right next to me, and  I started to call
down and have  them send up  some breakfast,  but I was sort  of afraid they
might send it up with  old  Maurice. If  you  think  I was dying to see  him
again, you're  crazy.  So I just laid around in bed  for a  while and smoked
another cigarette. I thought  of giving  old Jane a buzz, to see if she  was
home yet and all, but I wasn't in the mood. What I did do, I  gave old Sally
Hayes a buzz. She went to  Mary A. Woodruff, and I knew she was home because
I'd had this letter from her a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't too crazy about
her, but I'd known her for years. I used to think she was quite intelligent,
in my stupidity. The reason I did was because she knew quite a lot about the
theater and plays and literature and all that stuff. If somebody knows quite
a lot about  those  things, it takes you quite a while to  find  out whether
they're really  stupid or not. It took  me  years  to find  it  out,  in old
Sally's case. I think I'd have found it out a lot sooner if we hadn't necked
so damn much. My big trouble is, I always sort of think whoever I'm  necking
is a pretty intelligent  person. It hasn't got a goddam thing to do with it,
but I keep  thinking it anyway. Anyway, I gave  her  a buzz. First  the maid
answered. Then her father.  Then she got on. "Sally?" I  said. "Yes--who  is
this?" she said. She  was quite a  little phony. I'd already told her father
who it was. "Holden Caulfield. How are ya?" "Holden! I'm fine! How are you?"
"Swell. Listen. How are ya, anyway? I mean how's school?" "Fine," she  said.
"I mean--you know." "Swell. Well,  listen. I was wondering if  you were busy
today. It's Sunday, but there's always one or two matinees going on  Sunday.
Benefits and that stuff. Would you care to go?" "I'd love to. Grand." Grand.
If there's one word I hate, it's  grand. It's so phony. For a second,  I was
tempted to tell her to forget about the matinee. But we chewed the fat for a
while. That is, she chewed  it. You couldn't get a word  in  edgewise. First
she  told  me about  some Harvard guy-- it probably was a  freshman, but she
didn't say,  naturally--that  was rushing hell out  of  her. Calling her  up
night  and day. Night and day--that killed me.  Then she told  me about some
other guy, some West Point cadet, that  was cutting his throat over her too.
Big  deal.  I  told her to meet me  under the clock  at  the Biltmore at two
o'clock,  and  not  to  be  late,  because  the  show  probably  started  at
two-thirty. She was always late. Then I hung up.  She gave me a pain  in the
ass, but she was very good-looking. After I made the date with old Sally,  I
got out  of  bed and got dressed  and  packed my bag. I took a  look out the
window before I  left  the  room, though, to  see how all  the perverts were
doing, but they all had their  shades down. They were the heighth of modesty
in  the morning. Then I went down in the  elevator and checked out. I didn't
see old  Maurice  around  anywhere.  I didn't break my neck looking for him,
naturally, the bastard. I got a cab outside the hotel, but I didn't have the
faintest damn idea where  I was going.  I had  no place  to go. It  was only
Sunday, and I couldn't go home till Wednesday--or Tuesday the soonest. And I
certainly didn't feel like going to another hotel and getting my brains beat
out.  So what I did, I told the driver to take me  to Grand Central Station.
It  was  right  near the Biltmore,  where  I was  meeting Sally later, and I
figured what I'd do, I'd check my  bags in one  of  those strong boxes  that
they give you a key to, then get some breakfast. I was sort of hungry. While
I was in the cab, I took out my wallet and sort of counted my money. I don't
remember exactly  what I had  left, but it was  no fortune or  anything. I'd
spent a king's ransom  in about two lousy weeks.  I really had. I'm a goddam
spendthrift at heart. What I don't  spend, I lose.  Half the  time I sort of
even forget to pick up my change, at restaurants and night clubs and all. It
drives my  parents  crazy. You can't blame them. My father's  quite wealthy,
though. I don't know how much he makes--he's never discussed that stuff with
me--but I imagine quite a lot.  He's a corporation lawyer. Those boys really
haul it in. Another reason I know he's quite well off, he's always investing
money in  shows on  Broadway.  They always  flop,  though, and it drives  my
mother crazy when he does it.  She hasn't  felt too healthy since my brother
Allie died. She's very nervous. That's another reason  why I hated like hell
for her to  know I got the ax  again.  After I put my bags  in one  of those
strong boxes at the station, I went into this  little sandwich  bar and  bad
breakfast. I had  quite a large breakfast, for  me--orange  juice, bacon and
eggs,  toast and coffee. Usually I just drink some orange juice.  I'm a very
light eater. I really am.  That's  why I'm so damn skinny. I was supposed to
be on this diet where you eat a lot of starches and crap, to gain weight and
all, but I didn't ever do it. When I'm out somewhere, I generally just eat a
Swiss cheese sandwich and a  malted milk. It isn't much, but you get quite a
lot  of  vitamins  in  the  malted  milk.  H. V.  Caulfield.  Holden Vitamin
Caulfield. While  I was eating my  eggs, these two  nuns with  suitcases and
all--I  guessed  they were moving  to  another convent or something and were
waiting  for a train--came  in and sat down  next to me at the counter. They
didn't seem to know what the hell to do with their suitcases, so I gave them
a hand. They were these  very  inexpensive-looking  suitcases--the ones that
aren't genuine leather or anything.  It isn't important,  I know, but I hate
it when somebody has cheap suitcases.  It sounds terrible to say  it, but  I
can  even  get to hate  somebody, just looking  at  them, if they have cheap
suitcases  with  them. Something happened once. For a while  when I  was  at
Elkton Hills, I  roomed with this boy,  Dick  Slagle, that  had  these  very
inexpensive suitcases. He used to keep them under the bed, instead of on the
rack, so that nobody'd  see them  standing  next to mine.  It depressed holy
hell  out of me, and I kept wanting to throw  mine out or something, or even
trade with him. Mine came from Mark Cross, and they were genuine cowhide and
all  that crap, and I  guess they cost  quite a  pretty penny. But it was  a
funny  thing. Here's  what happened.  What I did, I finally put my suitcases
under my bed, instead  of on the rack, so  that  old Slagle wouldn't  get  a
goddam inferiority complex about it. But here's what he did. The day after I
put mine under my  bed, he took them out and put them back  on the rack. The
reason  he did it, it took me  a  while to find  out, was  because he wanted
people  to think my bags were his.  He  really did. He was a very funny guy,
that way. He was always  saying snotty things about them, my suitcases,  for
instance.  He kept saying  they  were  too new  and bourgeois.  That was his
favorite goddam word. He read it somewhere or heard it somewhere. Everything
I had was bourgeois as hell. Even my fountain pen was bourgeois. He borrowed
it off me all the time, but it was bourgeois anyway. We only roomed together
about two months. Then we both asked to be moved. And the funny thing was, I
sort of missed him after we moved, because  he had a  helluva good sense  of
humor and we  had a lot  of  fun sometimes. I  wouldn't be surprised  if  he
missed me, too. At first he only used to be kidding when he called my  stuff
bourgeois,  and I didn't  give a damn--it was  sort of funny, in fact. Then,
after a while, you could tell he wasn't kidding any more. The thing is, it's
really hard  to be roommates with people if your suitcases  are much  better
than theirs--if yours are really good  ones and  theirs aren't. You think if
they're  intelligent  and  all, the other person, and have a good  sense  of
humor, that they don't give a damn whose suitcases are  better, but they do.
They really do. It's one of the reasons why  I  roomed with a stupid bastard
like  Stradlater. At least his suitcases were as good as mine. Anyway, these
two nuns were sitting next to me,  and we sort  of struck up a conversation.
The one right next  to me  had one of those straw  baskets that you see nuns
and  Salvation Army babes collecting dough  with around Christmas  time. You
see them standing on corners,  especially on Fifth  Avenue, in  front of the
big department stores and all. Anyway,  the one next  to me dropped hers  on
the floor and I reached down and picked  it up for  her. I asked her  if she
was out collecting  money for  charity and all.  She  said no. She said  she
couldn't get it in her suitcase  when  she was  packing it  and she was just
carrying  it. She had  a pretty nice smile when she looked at you. She had a
big nose,  and she had on those glasses  with sort of iron  rims that aren't
too attractive,  but  she  had  a helluva kind face.  "I thought if you were
taking up a collection," I told her, "I could make a small contribution. You
could keep the money for  when you do  take up a collection." "Oh, how  very
kind of  you," she said, and the other one, her friend, looked  over  at me.
The other one was reading a little black book while she drank her coffee. It
looked  like  a Bible,  but  it was too skinny. It  was  a  Bible-type book,
though. All the two of  them were eating for breakfast was toast and coffee.
That depressed  me. I hate it if I'm eating bacon and eggs or something  and
somebody  else is only eating toast and coffee. They  let me  give  them ten
bucks as a contribution. They kept asking me if I was sure I could afford it
and all.  I told them  I had quite a bit of money with me, but  they  didn't
seem to believe me.  They  took it, though,  finally. The both  of them kept
thanking me so much it was embarrassing. I swung the conversation  around to
general topics  and asked them  where they were  going. They said they  were
schoolteachers and that  they'd just  come from  Chicago and that they  were
going to start teaching at some convent  on 168th Street  or 186th Street or
one of those streets way the  hell uptown. The one next to me, with the iron
glasses, said she taught English  and her friend taught history and American
government. Then  I  started wondering like a  bastard what the one  sitting
next to me, that  taught English, thought about, being a nun  and all,  when
she read certain books for English. Books not necessarily with a lot of sexy
stuff in them, but books with lovers and all in them. Take old Eustacia Vye,
in  The  Return of  the  Native by  Thomas  Hardy. She  wasn't  too sexy  or
anything, but even so you can't help wondering what a nun maybe thinks about
when she reads about old Eustacia. I didn't say anything, though, naturally.
All  I said was English was my best subject. "Oh, really? Oh, I'm so  glad!"
the one with the  glasses, that taught English,  said. "What  have you  read
this year? I'd be very interested to know." She was really nice. "Well, most
of the time  we were on the Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf, and old Grendel, and Lord
Randal My  Son, and all those things. But we had to read  outside  books for
extra  credit  once in a while. I read The Return  of the  Native by  Thomas
Hardy, and Romeo and Juliet and  Julius--"  "Oh,  Romeo and  Juliet! Lovely!
Didn't you just love it?"  She certainly didn't sound much like a nun. "Yes.
I did. I liked it a lot. There were a few things I didn't like about it, but
it was quite moving, on the whole." "What didn't you like about it? Can  you
remember?" To  tell you the truth, it was sort of embarrassing, in a way, to
be talking about Romeo  and Juliet with her. I  mean  that play  gets pretty
sexy  in  some parts, and she was a nun  and  all, but she  asked  me,  so I
discussed it with her for  a while. "Well, I'm not too crazy about Romeo and
Juliet,"  I said. "I mean I like them,  but--I don't know.  They get  pretty
annoying sometimes. I mean I felt much  sorrier when old Mercutio got killed
than  when Romeo and Juliet did. The think is, I never liked Romeo  too much
after Mercutio gets stabbed by that  other  man--Juliet's cousin--what's his
name?" "Tybalt." "That's right. Tybalt," I said--I  always forget that guy's
name. "It  was Romeo's fault. I  mean I liked him the best in  the play, old
Mercutio.  I  don't  know. All those  Montagues  and Capulets,  they're  all
right--especially Juliet--but Mercutio, he was--it's hard to explain. He was
very smart  and entertaining and  all. The thing is, it  drives me crazy  if
somebody gets killed--  especially somebody  very smart and entertaining and
all--and it's somebody else's fault. Romeo and Juliet, at least it was their
own fault." "What school do you go to?" she asked me. She probably wanted to
get off the subject of Romeo and  Juliet. I told her Pencey, and she'd heard
of it. She said it was  a  very good school. I let it pass, though. Then the
other one, the one that taught history and government, said they'd better be
running along. I took their check off them, but they wouldn't let me pay it.
The one with the glasses made me give it back to her. "You've been more than
generous," she said. "You're a very sweet  boy." She certainly was nice. She
reminded me a little bit of old Ernest Morrow's mother, the one I met on the
train. When she smiled, mostly. "We've enjoyed  talking to you so much," she
said. I said I'd enjoyed talking to  them  a lot, too. I meant it,  too. I'd
have enjoyed it even  more though, I think, if I hadn't been sort of afraid,
the whole  time  I was talking to them, that they'd all of a  sudden try  to
find out  if I was a Catholic.  Catholics are always  trying to find out  if
you're a Catholic. It  happens to me  a lot, I know,  partly because my last
name  is Irish, and most people of  Irish descent are Catholics. As a matter
of fact, my  father was a Catholic once. He quit, though, when he married my
mother. But Catholics are always trying  to find out  if  you're a  Catholic
even if they don't know your last name. I knew this one  Catholic boy, Louis
Shaney, when I was at the  Whooton  School. He was the first boy I  ever met
there. He and  I were  sitting in  the first two chairs  outside  the goddam
infirmary, the day school opened, waiting for our physicals, and  we sort of
struck up this conversation about tennis. He was quite interested in tennis,
and so  was  I. He told me he  went to  the Nationals  at Forest Hills every
summer, and I told him I  did too, and then we talked about certain hot-shot
tennis players for quite a while.  He  knew  quite a lot about tennis, for a
kid his age. He really did. Then, after a while, right in the  middle of the
goddam  conversation,  he  asked me,  "Did you happen  to  notice  where the
Catholic church is in town, by any chance?" The thing was, you could tell by
the way  he asked me that he was trying to find out if I was a  Catholic. He
really was. Not that he  was  prejudiced or anything, but he just  wanted to
know.  He was enjoying the conversation about tennis  and all, but you could
tell he would've enjoyed  it more if I was a Catholic and all. That kind  of
stuff  drives  me  crazy.  I'm  not  saying  it ruined our  conversation  or
anything--it didn't--but it sure as hell didn't do it any good. That's why I
was glad those  two nuns didn't ask me if I was a Catholic. It wouldn't have
spoiled  the  conversation  if  they  had, but it  would've been  different,
probably. I'm not saying I blame Catholics.  I don't. I'd  be  the same way,
probably, if I was a Catholic. It's just like those suitcases  I was telling
you  about, in  a way.  All  I'm  saying  is  that it's no good  for a  nice
conversation. That's all I'm saying. When they got up to go, the two nuns, I
did  something very  stupid and embarrassing. I was smoking a cigarette, and
when I stood up  to  say good-by to  them,  by mistake I blew some  smoke in
their face. I didn't mean to, but I did it. I apologized like a  madman, and
they  were  very polite and  nice  about  it, but  it  was very embarrassing
anyway. After they  left, I started  getting sorry  that I'd only given them
ten bucks for  their collection. But the thing was, I'd made that date to go
to a matinee with old Sally Hayes, and I needed to keep  some dough for  the
tickets  and stuff. I was sorry anyway, though. Goddam money. It always ends
up making you blue as hell.
     16
     After I had my breakfast, it was only around noon, and I wasn't meeting
old Sally till  two o'clock, so I started taking this  long walk. I couldn't
stop thinking about those two nuns. I kept  thinking about  that beatup  old
straw basket  they  went around  collecting  money  with when  they  weren't
teaching school. I kept trying to picture my mother or somebody, or my aunt,
or  Sally Hayes's  crazy mother, standing outside some department store  and
collecting dough for  poor people in a beat-up old straw basket. It was hard
to picture. Not so much  my  mother, but  those other two. My  aunt's pretty
charitable--she  does a  lot  of  Red  Cross work  and  all--but she's  very
well-dressed and  all, and  when she  does  anything charitable she's always
very well-dressed and  has lipstick on and all that crap. I couldn't picture
her doing  anything  for charity if she  had to  wear black  clothes  and no
lipstick while she was doing it. And old Sally Hayes's mother. Jesus Christ.
The only way she could go around with a basket collecting dough would  be if
everybody kissed her ass for her when they made a contribution. If they just
dropped their dough in her basket, then walked away without  saying anything
to her, ignoring her  and all, she'd quit in about an hour. She'd get bored.
She'd hand in her basket and then go someplace swanky for lunch. That's what
I liked  about  those  nuns. You could tell, for one thing, that  they never
went anywhere swanky for lunch. It made me so damn sad  when I thought about
it,  their never going anywhere  swanky  for lunch  or  anything. I  knew it
wasn't too important, but  it  made me  sad anyway.  I  started walking over
toward Broadway, just for the hell  of it, because I  hadn't been over there
in years. Besides, I wanted  to find a record store that was open on Sunday.
There  was this record I wanted to  get for  Phoebe,  called "Little Shirley
Beans."  It was a very hard record  to get.  It was  about a little kid that
wouldn't go out of the house because two of her front teeth were out and she
was ashamed to. I heard it at Pencey. A boy that lived on the next floor had
it, and  I  tried to buy it off him because I knew it would knock old Phoebe
out, but he  wouldn't sell it. It was a very  old, terrific record that this
colored girl  singer,  Estelle Fletcher, made about  twenty  years  ago. She
sings it very Dixieland and whorehouse, and  it doesn't sound at all  mushy.
If a  white girl was singing  it,  she'd make it sound cute as hell, but old
Estelle Fletcher knew what  the hell she  was doing, and it  was  one of the
best records I ever heard. I figured I'd  buy it in some store that was open
on Sunday and then I'd take  it  up  to  the park with me. It was Sunday and
Phoebe  goes rollerskating  in the park on Sundays quite frequently.  I knew
where she hung out mostly.  It wasn't as cold as it was the day before,  but
the sun still wasn't out, and it  wasn't too nice for walking. But there was
one nice thing. This family that you could tell just came out of some church
were walking right  in  front of  me--a  father, a mother, and a  little kid
about  six years old. They looked  sort  of  poor. The father had on one  of
those pearl-gray  hats that  poor  guys  wear a lot  when they want to  look
sharp.  He and  his wife were just  walking along,  talking,  not paying any
attention  to their kid. The  kid  was swell. He was walking in  the street,
instead of on the  sidewalk,  but right next to the  curb. He was making out
like he was  walking a  very straight line, the way kids do,  and the  whole
time he  kept singing and humming. I got up closer so I  could hear  what he
was singing.  He was  singing  that song, "If  a  body catch  a body  coming
through the rye." He had a pretty little voice, too. He was just singing for
the hell of it,  you could tell. The  cars zoomed by, brakes  screeched  all
over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking
next to  the  curb and singing "If a body  catch  a body coming  through the
rye." It made me  feel  better. It made  me feel not so depressed any  more.
Broadway was mobbed and messy. It was Sunday, and only about twelve o'clock,
but  it was mobbed  anyway. Everybody was  on their way to  the  movies--the
Paramount or the  Astor or  the Strand  or the Capitol or one of those crazy
places. Everybody  was all dressed up, because it was Sunday, and  that made
it worse. But the worst  part was that you could tell  they all wanted to go
to the movies. I couldn't stand  looking at them.  I can understand somebody
going to  the movies because there's nothing  else  to do, but when somebody
really wants to go, and even walks fast so as to get  there quicker, then it
depresses hell out of me. Especially if I see millions of people standing in
one of those long, terrible lines, all  the way down the block, waiting with
this  terrific  patience  for seats and all.  Boy, I  couldn't get  off that
goddam Broadway fast enough. I was lucky. The first record store I went into
had a  copy  of "Little  Shirley Beans." They  charged me five bucks for it,
because it  was so hard to get, but I didn't care. Boy,  it made me so happy
all of a sudden. I could hardly wait to get to the park to see if old Phoebe
was around so that  I could  give it  to  her. When I came out of the record
store, I passed this drugstore, and I went in.  I figured maybe I'd give old
Jane a buzz and see  if she was home for vacation yet. So  I went in a phone
booth and called her  up.  The  only trouble  was,  her  mother answered the
phone, so  I had to hang up. I didn't feel like getting involved in  a  long
conversation and all with her. I'm not crazy about talking to girls' mothers
on the phone anyway.  I should've at least asked her if Jane was  home  yet,
though.  It wouldn't have killed  me. But I didn't feel like it. You  really
have to be in the mood for that stuff. I still had to get those damn theater
tickets, so I bought a paper and  looked up  to see what shows were playing.
On account of it was  Sunday, there were only about three  shows playing. So
what  I did was,  I went over and bought two orchestra  seats for  I Know My
Love.  It was a benefit performance or something. I  didn't much want to see
it, but I knew old Sally, the queen of the phonies, would start drooling all
over the  place  when I told  her  I had tickets for that, because the Lunts
were  in  it  and  all.  She  liked  shows  that  are  supposed to  be  very
sophisticated and dry and all, with the Lunts and all. I don't. I don't like
any shows  very much,  if you want to know the truth. They're  not as bad as
movies, but they're  certainly  nothing to rave about. In the first place, I
hate actors.  They never act like people. They  just think they do.  Some of
the good  ones do,  in a very slight way, but  not  in a  way that's fun  to
watch. And  if any actor's really good, you  can always tell  he knows  he's
good, and  that spoils it. You take Sir Laurence Olivier, for example. I saw
him in Hamlet. D. B. took Phoebe and I to see it last year. He treated us to
lunch  first, and then  he took us.  He'd  already seen it, and  the way  he
talked about it at lunch, I was anxious as hell to see it, too. But I didn't
enjoy it much.  I  just  don't see  what's  so marvelous about Sir  Laurence
Olivier, that's all. He has  a terrific voice, and  he's a helluva  handsome
guy, and he's  very nice to watch when he's walking or dueling or something,
but he wasn't at all the way D.  B. said Hamlet was. He was too much like  a
goddam general, instead of a sad, screwed-up type guy. The best  part in the
whole picture was when  old Ophelia's brother--the one that gets in the duel
with Hamlet  at the very end--was going away and his father was giving him a
lot of advice. While the father kept giving him a lot of advice, old Ophelia
was sort of horsing around  with her  brother, taking his  dagger out of the
holster,  and teasing  him and all while he was trying to look interested in
the bull his father was shooting. That  was  nice. I  got a big  bang out of
that.  But you don't see that kind of stuff much.  The only thing old Phoebe
liked was when  Hamlet patted this dog  on  the head.  She  thought that was
funny and nice, and it was. What I'll have  to do is, I'll have to read that
play. The trouble with me is, I always have to read that stuff by myself. If
an actor acts it out, I  hardly listen.  I keep worrying about whether  he's
going  to do something phony every minute.  After I got the tickets  to  the
Lunts' show, I  took a cab  up  to the park.  I should've taken a  subway or
something, because I was getting slightly low on dough, but I  wanted to get
off  that damn  Broadway as fast as I  could. It was  lousy  in the park. It
wasn't too cold, but the  sun still wasn't out,  and there  didn't look like
there was  anything in the park except dog crap and  globs of spit and cigar
butts from old men, and the benches all looked like they'd be wet if you sat
down on  them.  It  made you  depressed,  and  every once in a while, for no
reason, you got  goose  flesh while you  walked. It didn't seem  at all like
Christmas was  coming soon. It didn't seem like anything was coming.  But  I
kept  walking over to  the Mall anyway, because that's where Phoebe  usually
goes  when she's in the  park. She likes to  skate  near the bandstand. It's
funny. That's  the same place I used to like to skate when I was a kid. When
I got there, though, I didn't see her around anywhere. There were a few kids
around, skating and all, and two boys were playing Flys Up with a soft ball,
but no  Phoebe. I saw one kid about her age, though, sitting on a bench  all
by herself, tightening  her skate. I thought maybe she might know Phoebe and
could tell me where  she was or  something, so I went over and sat down next
to her and asked her, "Do you know Phoebe Caulfield, by any  chance?" "Who?"
she said. All she had on was jeans and about twenty sweaters. You could tell
her mother made  them  for her,  because they  were  lumpy  as hell. "Phoebe
Caulfield. She  lives on  Seventy-first  Street.  She's in the fourth grade,
over  at--" "You  know Phoebe?" "Yeah, I'm her  brother. You know where  she
is?" "She's in Miss Callon's class, isn't she?" the kid said. "I don't know.
Yes,  I  think she is."  "She's prob'ly  in  the museum, then. We  went last
Saturday," the  kid said.  "Which museum?" I asked  her.  She  shrugged  her
shoulders, sort of. "I don't know," she said. "The museum." "I know, but the
one where  the pictures  are, or the one  where the Indians are?"  "The  one
where the Indians." "Thanks a lot,"  I said. I got up and started to go, but
then I suddenly remembered it was Sunday. "This is Sunday," I  told the kid.
She  looked  up  at me. "Oh. Then she isn't." She was having a  helluva time
tightening her skate. She didn't have  any  gloves on or  anything  and  her
hands were all red and cold. I gave her a hand with it. Boy, I  hadn't had a
skate key in my hand for years. It didn't feel funny, though.  You could put
a skate  key in my hand  fifty years from now, in pitch dark, and  I'd still
know what it is. She thanked me and all when I had it tightened for her. She
was a  very  nice, polite little kid. God,  I  love it when a kid's nice and
polite when you tighten their skate for them or  something. Most  kids  are.
They really  are.  I  asked  her if she'd  care to  have a hot chocolate  or
something with  me, but she said no, thank you. She said she had to meet her
friend. Kids always have to meet their friend. That kills me. Even though it
was Sunday and Phoebe wouldn't be there with her class or anything, and even
though it was so damp and lousy out, I walked all  the way through the  park
over to the Museum of  Natural History. I knew  that was  the museum the kid
with  the skate key meant. I  knew that  whole  museum routine  like a book.
Phoebe went to the same school I went to when I was a kid, and we used to go
there all  the time. We  had  this teacher, Miss Aigletinger,  that took  us
there damn near every  Saturday.  Sometimes  we  looked at the  animals  and
sometimes  we  looked at the stuff  the Indians  had  made in ancient times.
Pottery and straw baskets and all stuff like  that. I get very  happy when I
think  about  it. Even  now. I remember  after we  looked at  all the Indian
stuff,  usually we went to see some movie in this big auditorium.  Columbus.
They  were  always showing Columbus discovering  America, having one helluva
time getting old  Ferdinand and Isabella to lend him the  dough to buy ships
with, and then the sailors mutinying on him and all. Nobody gave too much of
a damn about old  Columbus, but you always  had  a lot of candy  and gum and
stuff with you, and the inside of that auditorium had  such a nice smell. It
always smelled  like it was raining outside, even if it wasn't, and you were
in the  only nice, dry, cosy place in the world. I loved that damn museum. I
remember you had to go  through the Indian Room to get to the auditorium. It
was  a long, long room,  and  you were only supposed to whisper. The teacher
would go first, then the class. You'd be two rows of kids, and you'd have  a
partner. Most of the time my partner  was  this girl named  Gertrude Levine.
She  always  wanted to hold your hand, and  her  hand  was always sticky  or
sweaty or something. The floor was all stone, and if you had some marbles in
your hand and you dropped them, they bounced like madmen all  over the floor
and made a  helluva racket,  and the teacher would hold up the  class and go
back and see what the hell was going on.  She never got  sore, though,  Miss
Aigletinger.  Then you'd pass by this  long, long Indian war canoe, about as
long as three goddam  Cadillacs in a  row, with  about twenty Indians in it,
some of them paddling, some of them just  standing around looking tough, and
they all  had war paint all over their faces. There was one very  spooky guy
in the back of the canoe, with a mask  on. He was  the witch doctor. He gave
me the  creeps, but I liked him anyway. Another thing, if you touched one of
the  paddles or anything while you were passing, one of the guards would say
to you, "Don't touch anything,  children," but he  always said it in  a nice
voice, not like a goddam cop or anything. Then you'd pass by  this big glass
case, with Indians inside it rubbing sticks  together to make a fire, and  a
squaw weaving a blanket. The  squaw that was weaving the blanket was sort of
bending over,  and you could see  her bosom  and all. We all used to sneak a
good look at it, even the girls, because they were only little kids and they
didn't have any more bosom than we  did.  Then, just before you  went inside
the auditorium, right near the doors, you passed this Eskimo. He was sitting
over a hole in this icy lake,  and he was fishing  through it.  He had about
two fish right next  to the hole, that he'd already caught. Boy, that museum
was full of glass cases.  There were  even  more  upstairs, with deer inside
them drinking at water holes, and birds  flying  south for the  winter.  The
birds nearest  you  were all  stuffed and hung up on wires, and  the ones in
back were just  painted  on the wall,  but they all  looked like  they  were
really  flying south, and if you  bent  your head down and sort of looked at
them upside down, they looked in an even bigger hurry to fly south. The best
thing, though, in that museum was that  everything always stayed right where
it was. Nobody'd move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that
Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would
still be on their way  south, the deers would still be drinking out  of that
water hole, with their  pretty  antlers and  their pretty,  skinny legs, and
that  squaw with the naked  bosom would  still be weaving that same blanket.
Nobody'd be different. The only thing that would be different would be  you.
Not that you'd  be so much older  or anything. It wouldn't be that, exactly.
You'd just be different, that's all. You'd have an overcoat on this time. Or
the  kid that was your  partner in line the last time had got scarlet  fever
and  you'd have a new partner. Or  you'd have a substitute taking the class,
instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you'd heard your mother and father  having a
terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you'd just passed by one of those puddles
in  the street  with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you'd be different in
some way--I can't explain what I mean. And even if I could, I'm not sure I'd
feel like it. I took my old hunting hat out of my pocket while I walked, and
put it on.  I knew I wouldn't meet anybody that knew  me,  and it was pretty
damp out. I kept walking and walking,  and  I kept thinking about old Phoebe
going to that museum on Saturdays the way I used to. I thought how she'd see
the same stuff I used to see, and how she'd be different every time she  saw
it. It  didn't exactly depress me to think  about it, but it didn't  make me
feel gay as hell, either. Certain things they should stay the  way they are.
You  ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just
leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway. Anyway,
I kept thinking about all  that while I walked. I passed  by this playground
and stopped and watched a couple of very tiny kids  on a seesaw. One of them
was sort of fat, and I put my hand on  the skinny kid's end, to sort of even
up the weight, but you could tell they didn't  want me around, so I let them
alone. Then a  funny thing happened.  When I got to  the museum,  all  of  a
sudden I wouldn't  have  gone inside for a  million  bucks. It  just  didn't
appeal to me--and here I'd walked through  the whole goddam park and  looked
forward to  it and  all. If Phoebe'd been there, I probably  would have, but
she wasn't. So all I did,  in front of the museum, was get a cab and go down
to the Biltmore. I didn't feel much like going. I'd made that damn date with
Sally, though.
     17
     I  was way early  when I got there, so I just  sat down on one of those
leather couches right near the clock  in  the lobby and watched the girls. A
lot of  schools  were  home for vacation already, and  there  were  about  a
million  girls sitting and  standing around waiting for  their dates to show
up. Girls with their legs  crossed, girls with their legs not crossed, girls
with terrific  legs,  girls  with lousy legs, girls  that looked like  swell
girls,  girls  that looked like they'd be  bitches if you knew them. It  was
really nice sightseeing, if you know what  I mean. In  a way, it was sort of
depressing, too, because you kept  wondering  what the  hell would happen to
all of them. When  they got out  of school and college, I  mean. You figured
most  of them would probably marry dopey guys. Guys that  always talk  about
how many miles they get to a gallon in their goddam cars. Guys that get sore
and childish as hell if you beat them at golf, or even just some stupid game
like  ping-pong. Guys  that are very  mean. Guys that never read books. Guys
that are  very  boring--But I have to be careful  about  that. I mean  about
calling certain guys bores. I don't understand boring guys. I  really don't.
When I  was at Elkton  Hills, I  roomed for about two months  with this boy,
Harris  Mackim.  He  was very  intelligent  and all,  but he was one  of the
biggest  bores I  ever met. He had one of  these very  raspy voices,  and he
never stopped talking, practically.  He never stopped talking,  and what was
awful was, he never said anything you wanted to hear in the first place. But
he could do one thing. The sonuvabitch could whistle  better  than anybody I
ever  heard.  He'd be making his bed, or hanging up  stuff in the closet--he
was  always hanging up  stuff in the closet--it drove me crazy--and he'd  be
whistling  while he  did it,  if he wasn't  talking in this  raspy voice. He
could even whistle classical stuff, but  most  of  the time he just whistled
jazz. He could take something very jazzy, like "Tin Roof Blues," and whistle
it so nice and easy--right while he was hanging stuff up in the closet--that
it could kill  you.  Naturally, I never told him I thought he was a terrific
whistler. I  mean  you don't  just go  up to  somebody  and  say,  "You're a
terrific whistler." But I roomed  with him for about two whole months,  even
though  he  bored  me till  I was half  crazy, just because he  was  such  a
terrific whistler, the best I ever heard. So I don't know about bores. Maybe
you shouldn't feel too sorry if  you  see some swell girl getting married to
them. They don't hurt anybody, most of  them, and maybe they're secretly all
terrific whistlers or  something. Who the  hell knows? Not me.  Finally, old
Sally started coming  up the  stairs, and  I  started down to  meet her. She
looked terrific.  She really  did. She had on this black coat and sort of  a
black beret.  She  hardly ever wore a hat, but that  beret  looked nice. The
funny part is, I felt like  marrying her the minute I saw  her. I'm crazy. I
didn't even like her much, and yet all of a sudden I felt like I was in love
with her and wanted to marry  her.  I  swear to  God I'm crazy.  I admit it.
"Holden!" she said. "It's marvelous to see you! It's been ages." She had one
of these very loud, embarrassing voices  when you met her somewhere. She got
away  with it because she was so damn good-looking, but it always gave  me a
pain in the ass. "Swell to see you,"  I  said. I meant it, too. "How are ya,
anyway?"  "Absolutely  marvelous. Am  I  late?" I told  her no,  but she was
around  ten minutes late, as a matter of fact. I didn't give a damn, though.
All that crap  they have in cartoons in  the Saturday  Evening Post and all,
showing guys on street corners looking sore as hell  because their dates are
late--that's bunk. If  a girl  looks swell when she  meets you, who  gives a
damn if she's late? Nobody. "We better  hurry," I said. "The show starts  at
two-forty." We started going down the stairs to where the taxis  are.  "What
are we going to see?" she said. "I  don't know. The Lunts. It's all I  could
get tickets for." "The Lunts! Oh, marvelous!"  I told you she'd go  mad when
she heard it was for the Lunts. We horsed around a little bit in  the cab on
the  way over to  the theater. At first  she didn't want to, because she had
her lipstick on and all, but I was  being  seductive as hell  and she didn't
have any alternative. Twice, when the goddam cab stopped short in traffic, I
damn  near fell off the  seat. Those damn  drivers  never  even  look  where
they're going, I swear they don't. Then,  just to  show you how  crazy I am,
when we were coming out of this big clinch, I told her I  loved her and all.
It was  a lie,  of course, but the thing is, I meant it  when I said it. I'm
crazy. I swear  to God I am.  "Oh, darling, I love you too," she said. Then,
right in the same damn breath,  she said, "Promise  me you'll let your  hair
grow. Crew  cuts are  getting  corny. And your  hair's so lovely." Lovely my
ass. The show wasn't as bad  as some I've  seen. It was on the crappy  side,
though. It was about five hundred thousand years in the life of this one old
couple. It  starts out when  they're  young and all, and the  girl's parents
don't want her to marry the boy, but she marries him anyway. Then  they keep
getting older  and older. The husband  goes to war,  and the  wife  has this
brother that's a drunkard. I couldn't get  very interested. I mean  I didn't
care too much when anybody  in the  family died  or anything. They  were all
just a  bunch  of  actors. The  husband and  wife were  a  pretty  nice  old
couple--very witty and  all--but  I couldn't get too interested in them. For
one thing, they kept drinking tea or some goddam thing all through the play.
Every time you saw  them, some butler was shoving some tea in front of them,
or the  wife was pouring it for  somebody. And everybody  kept coming in and
going out all the time--you got dizzy watching people sit down and stand up.
Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne  were the old couple, and they were very good,
but I  didn't like them  much. They were  different, though, I'll  say that.
They didn't  act like people and they  didn't act  like actors. It's hard to
explain.  They acted  more  like they knew they were  celebrities and all. I
mean they were good, but they were too good. When  one of them  got finished
making a speech,  the other one said something very fast right after  it. It
was  supposed to be like people really talking and  interrupting each  other
and  all.  The  trouble  was,  it  was too  much  like  people  talking  and
interrupting each other. They acted a little bit the way old Ernie, down  in
the Village, plays the piano. If you do something too  good,  then,  after a
while, if you don't watch it,  you start showing off. And then you're not as
good any more. But anyway, they were the only ones in the show--the Lunts, I
mean--that  looked like they had any real brains. I have to admit it. At the
end of the first act we went out with all the other  jerks for a  cigarette.
What  a  deal that  was. You never  saw  so  many phonies  in all your life,
everybody  smoking  their  ears  off  and talking  about the  play  so  that
everybody  could  hear and  know how sharp they were. Some dopey movie actor
was  standing near us, having a  cigarette.  I don't know his  name,  but he
always plays the part  of  a guy in a war movie that gets yellow before it's
time to go over the top.  He was with  some gorgeous blonde, and  the two of
them were  trying to be very blasй and  all, like as if he didn't even  know
people were looking  at him. Modest as hell. I got a big bang out of it. Old
Sally didn't talk much, except to rave about the Lunts, because she was busy
rubbering and  being charming. Then all of a sudden, she  saw some  jerk she
knew on the other side of the lobby. Some guy in one of those very dark gray
flannel  suits  and one of those checkered vests.  Strictly Ivy League.  Big
deal. He was standing next to the wall, smoking himself to death and looking
bored as hell. Old Sally  kept saying, "I know that boy from somewhere." She
always knew somebody, any place you took her, or  thought she did. She  kept
saying that  till I got bored as hell, and I said to her, "Why  don't you go
on over and give him a big soul kiss, if you know him? He'll  enjoy it." She
got  sore when I said  that. Finally, though, the  jerk noticed her and came
over  and said hello. You should've seen the way they said hello. You'd have
thought  they hadn't seen each  other  in twenty  years. You'd  have thought
they'd  taken  baths in the same bathtub or something when they were  little
kids. Old  buddyroos. It was nauseating.  The funny part was, they  probably
met each other just once, at some phony  party. Finally,  when they were all
done  slobbering  around,  old  Sally introduced  us. His  name  was  George
something--I don't even remember--and he went to Andover. Big, big deal. You
should've  seen him when old Sally  asked him how he liked the play.  He was
the  kind of a  phony that  have to  give themselves room when  they  answer
somebody's  question. He stepped back, and stepped right  on the lady's foot
behind him. He probably broke every toe in her body. He said the play itself
was no masterpiece, but that  the  Lunts, of  course, were absolute  angels.
Angels. For Chrissake. Angels. That killed me. Then he and old Sally started
talking  about  a  lot  of  people  they  both  knew.  It was  the  phoniest
conversation you ever heard in your life. They both kept  thinking of places
as fast  as  they could, then they'd think  of somebody that lived there and
mention  their name. I was all set  to puke when it was time to go  sit down
again. I really was. And then, when the next act  was  over,  they continued
their goddam boring conversation. They kept thinking of more places and more
names of people that lived there.  The  worst part was, the jerk had one  of
those very phony, Ivy League voices, one of those very tired, snobby voices.
He sounded just like a girl. He didn't hesitate to horn  in  on my date, the
bastard. I even thought for a minute that he was going to get  in the goddam
cab with us when the show was over, because he walked about two blocks  with
us, but he  had to meet a bunch  of phonies for cocktails, he said. I  could
see them all  sitting around in some bar, with their goddam checkered vests,
criticizing shows  and books and women in those  tired, snobby voices.  They
kill me,  those guys. I sort of hated old Sally  by the  time we  got in the
cab,  after listening to  that phony Andover bastard for about  ten hours. I
was all set to take her home and all--I really was--but she  said, "I have a
marvelous idea!" She was always having a marvelous idea. "Listen," she said.
"What time do you have to be home for dinner? I  mean are you in a  terrible
hurry or  anything? Do you have to be  home any special  time?" "Me?  No. No
special time," I said. Truer  word  was never spoken, boy. "Why?"  "Let's go
ice-skating  at  Radio  City!"  That's  the kind of ideas  she  always  had.
"Ice-skating  at Radio City?  You mean right now?" "Just  for an hour or so.
Don't you  want to? If you don't want to--" "I didn't say I didn't want to,"
I said. "Sure.  If you want to." "Do you mean it?  Don't just say  it if you
don't mean it. I  mean I don't give a  darn, one way or the other." Not much
she  didn't. "You can rent those darling little  skating  skirts," old Sally
said. "Jeannette Cultz did it  last  week." That's why she was so hot to go.
She wanted to see  herself in one of those little skirts that just come down
over their butt and all. So we went, and after they gave us our skates, they
gave Sally this little blue butt-twitcher of a dress to wear. She really did
look damn good in it, though. I save to admit it. And don't think she didn't
know it. The kept walking ahead  of me, so  that I'd see how cute her little
ass looked. It did look pretty cute, too. I have to admit it. The funny part
was,  though, we were the worst skaters on the whole goddam rink. I mean the
worst. And there were  some lulus,  too. Old Sally's  ankles kept bending in
till they were practically  on the ice. They not only looked stupid as hell,
but they probably hurt like hell, too.  I know mine did. Mine  were  killing
me. We must've looked gorgeous. And what made it worse, there were  at least
a couple of  hundred rubbernecks that didn't have anything better to do than
stand  around  and watch everybody falling all over themselves. "Do you want
to get a table inside and have a drink or something?" I said to her finally.
"That's the  most marvelous idea  you've  had all  day,"  the said. She  was
killing herself. It was brutal. I really felt sorry for her. We took off our
goddam skates  and went inside this bar where you can  get drinks  and watch
the  skaters in just your stocking feet. As  soon as we sat  down, old Sally
took  off her gloves, and I gave her  a cigarette. She  wasn't  looking  too
happy.  The  waiter came up,  and  I  ordered  a  Coke for  her--she  didn't
drink--and a Scotch and soda for myself, but the sonuvabitch wouldn't  bring
me one, so I had a Coke, too. Then I  sort of started lighting matches. I do
that quite  a lot when I'm in a certain mood. I sort  of let  them burn down
till I can't hold them  any more, then I drop  them in  the ashtray. It's  a
nervous  habit.  Then all  of  a sudden, out of a clear blue  sky, old Sally
said,  "Look. I  have  to know. Are you or aren't you coming over to help me
trim the tree Christmas Eve? I  have to know." She was still being snotty on
account  of her ankles when she was  skating. "I  wrote you  I would. You've
asked me that about twenty times. Sure, I  am." "I mean I have to know," she
said. She started looking all around the goddam room. All of a sudden I quit
lighting matches,  and sort  of leaned nearer  to her over the table.  I had
quite a few topics on my  mind. "Hey, Sally," I said. "What?" she  said. She
was looking at  some girl on the other side of  the room. "Did you  ever get
fed up?" I said. "I mean did you ever get  scared that  everything was going
to  go lousy unless  you did  something? I  mean do you like school, and all
that stuff?" "It's a terrific  bore." "I mean do you hate it? I know it's  a
terrific bore, but do you hate it, is what I mean."  "Well, I don't  exactly
hate it. You always have to--" "Well, I hate it. Boy, do I hate it," I said.
"But it isn't just that. It's everything. I hate living in New York and all.
Taxicabs, and Madison Avenue buses, with the  drivers and all always yelling
at you to get out at  the rear door, and being introduced to phony guys that
call the Lunts angels, and going up and down in elevators when you just want
to go outside, and guys  fitting  your pants  all the  time at  Brooks,  and
people  always--"  "Don't  shout, please," old  Sally said.  Which  was very
funny, because I wasn't  even shouting. "Take cars," I said.  I said  it  in
this very quiet  voice.  "Take most people, they're  crazy about  cars. They
worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they're always talking about
how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already
they start thinking about trading it  in for one that's even newer. I  don't
even like  old cars. I mean they don't even interest me. I'd rather  have  a
goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake. A horse  you can at
least--" "I don't know what you're even talking about," old Sally said. "You
jump from one--" "You  know  something?"  I  said. "You're probably the only
reason I'm in  New York right now, or anywhere.  If you  weren't around, I'd
probably be someplace way the  hell off.  In the woods or some goddam place.
You're the  only reason I'm  around, practically." "You're sweet," she said.
But you  could tell she wanted me to change the damn subject. "You ought  to
go  to  a  boys' school  sometime. Try it  sometime," I said.  "It's full of
phonies,  and all you do  is study so that you can  learn enough to be smart
enough to be able to  buy a goddam Cadillac  some day, and you have  to keep
making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is
talk about girls and liquor and sex  all day, and  everybody sticks together
in these dirty  little goddam cliques.  The guys  that are on the basketball
team stick  together, the Catholics stick together, the goddam intellectuals
stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that
belong to the goddam Book-of-the-Month Club stick together. If  you  try  to
have a little intelligent--" "Now, listen,"  old Sally said.  "Lots  of boys
get more out of  school than that." "I agree! I agree they do, some of them!
But  that's all I  get out  of it.  See? That's  my point. That's exactly my
goddam point," I said.  "I don't get hardly anything out of anything. I'm in
bad shape. I'm in lousy shape." "You certainly are." Then, all of  a sudden,
I got this idea. "Look," I said. "Here's my idea.  How would you like to get
the hell  out of here? Here's my idea. I  know  this guy down  in  Greenwich
Village that  we can borrow his car  for a couple of weeks. He used to go to
the same school I did and he still  owes me ten bucks. What we could  do is,
tomorrow morning  we  could drive up  to Massachusetts and Vermont, and  all
around there, see. It's  beautiful as hell up there,  It  really is." I  was
getting excited as hell,  the more  I thought of it, and  I sort of  reached
over  and  took  old  Sally's  goddam hand. What a goddam  fool I  was.  "No
kidding,"  I said.  "I have about a hundred and eighty bucks in the bank.  I
can take it out when it opens  in the morning, and then I could go  down and
get this guy's car. No kidding.  We'll stay in  these cabin camps and  stuff
like that till the dough runs  out. Then, when the dough runs  out, I  could
get a job somewhere and we  could live somewhere  with a  brook and all and,
later on, we  could get married or something. I  could chop all our own wood
in  the  wintertime and all. Honest to  God, we could have  a terrific time!
Wuddaya say? C'mon! Wuddaya say? Will you do it with me? Please!" "You can't
just do something like that," old Sally said. She sounded sore as hell. "Why
not?  Why the hell not?" "Stop screaming at me, please," she said. Which was
crap,  because  I wasn't even  screaming at  her.  "Why can'tcha? Why  not?"
"Because you can't, that's  all.  In the first place, we're both practically
children. And did you ever stop to think what you'd do if  you didn't get  a
job when  your  money ran out? We'd starve  to  death. The whole thing's  so
fantastic, it isn't even--" "It isn't  fantastic. I'd get a job. Don't worry
about that. You don't have to worry about that. What's the matter? Don't you
want to  go with me? Say so, if you don't." "It isn't that. It isn't that at
all," old  Sally said. I was  beginning to hate her,  in a way. "We'll  have
oodles of time to  do those things--all those things. I mean after you go to
college and all, and if we should get married and all. There'll be oodles of
marvelous places to  go  to. You're  just--" "No, there  wouldn't be.  There
wouldn't be oodles of places to go to at all. It'd be entirely different," I
said. I was getting depressed as hell again. "What?" she said. "I can't hear
you.  One minute you scream  at me, and the next  you--"  "I  said no, there
wouldn't be marvelous places to go to  after I went to college and all. Open
your  ears.  It'd be entirely  different. We'd  have  to  go  downstairs  in
elevators with suitcases and stuff. We'd have to phone up everybody and tell
'em good-by and send 'em postcards from  hotels and  all. And I'd be working
in  some office,  making a lot  of  dough, and riding to work  in  cabs  and
Madison  Avenue buses, and  reading newspapers,  and playing  bridge all the
time, and going  to the movies and seeing  a lot of stupid shorts and coming
attractions and newsreels. Newsreels. Christ almighty. There's always a dumb
horse race, and some dame breaking a bottle over a ship, and some chimpanzee
riding a goddam bicycle with pants  on. It wouldn't be the  same at all. You
don't see what I mean at all." "Maybe I don't! Maybe you don't, either," old
Sally  said.  We  both hated  each other's guts by  that time. You could see
there wasn't  any sense trying to have  an  intelligent conversation. I  was
sorry as hell I'd started  it.  "C'mon, let's get  outa here," I  said. "You
give me a  royal pain  in the ass, if you want to  know the truth." Boy, did
she hit the ceiling when I said that. I  know I shouldn't've said it, and  I
probably wouldn't've ordinarily, but she was depressing the hell  out of me.
Usually I  never say crude  things like that to girls. Boy, did  she hit the
ceiling. I apologized like a madman, but she wouldn't accept my apology. She
was even crying. Which scared me a little bit, because I was a little afraid
she'd go home and tell her father I called her a pain in the ass. Her father
was  one of those big  silent bastards,  and  he wasn't  too crazy about  me
anyhow.  He  once told old Sally I was  too goddam  noisy. "No  kidding. I'm
sorry," I kept telling her. "You're sorry. You're sorry. That's very funny,"
she said. She was still sort of crying, and all of a sudden I  did feel sort
of sorry I'd said it. "C'mon, I'll take ya home. No kidding." "I can go home
by myself, thank you. If you think I'd  let you take me home, you're mad. No
boy ever said that to me in my entire  life." The  whole thing  was  sort of
funny, in  a way,  if you thought  about  it,  and all  of  a  sudden  I did
something I shouldn't have.  I  laughed. And I have one of these  very loud,
stupid laughs. I mean if I ever  sat behind  myself in a movie or something,
I'd probably lean over and tell  myself to please shut up. It made old Sally
madder than ever. I stuck around for a while, apologizing and trying  to get
her to excuse me, but she wouldn't. She kept telling me to go away and leave
her  alone. So finally I did it. I went inside and  got  my shoes and stuff,
and left without her. I shouldn't've, but I was pretty goddam fed up by that
time.  If you want to know the truth, I don't  even know why  I  started all
that stuff with her. I mean about going away somewhere, to Massachusetts and
Vermont and all. I probably wouldn't've taken her even if she'd wanted to go
with  me. She wouldn't have been  anybody to  go  with.  The terrible  part,
though, is that  I  meant it  when I asked her. That's the terrible  part. I
swear to God I'm a madman.
     18
     When I left the  skating rink I felt sort of hungry, so I  went in this
drugstore and had a Swiss cheese sandwich and a malted, and then I went in a
phone  booth. I thought maybe I might give  old Jane another buzz and see if
she was  home yet.  I  mean I had the whole evening free,  and I thought I'd
give her a  buzz  and, if she was  home yet, take her  dancing  or something
somewhere. I never danced with her or  anything the whole time I knew her. I
saw her dancing once, though. She looked like a very good dancer. It was  at
this  Fourth of July dance at the club. I didn't know her too well then, and
I didn't think I ought to cut in on her date. She  was dating  this terrible
guy, Al Pike,  that  went to Choate.  I didn't know him too well, but he was
always hanging  around the swimming pool. He wore those white Lastex kind of
swimming trunks, and he was always going  off the high dive. He did the same
lousy old half gainer all day long. It was the only dive he could do, but he
thought he was very hot stuff. All muscles and no brains. Anyway, that's who
Jane dated that night.  I couldn't understand it.  I swear I couldn't. After
we started going  around  together, I  asked her how come she  could date  a
showoff bastard like Al  Pike.  Jane said he  wasn't a show-off. She said he
had an  inferiority  complex.  She  acted  like  she  felt  sorry for him or
something, and  she  wasn't just putting it  on.  She meant it. It's a funny
thing  about  girls.  Every  time you  mention  some  guy that's strictly  a
bastard--very  mean,  or very conceited and all--and when you mention it  to
the girl, she'll tell you he  has an inferiority complex. Maybe he  has, but
that still doesn't keep him from  being a bastard, in my opinion. Girls. You
never know what they're going to think. I once got this girl Roberta Walsh's
roommate  a  date with a friend  of mine. His  name was Bob  Robinson and he
really had an inferiority complex. You could tell he was very ashamed of his
parents and all, because they said "he don't" and "she don't" and stuff like
that and they weren't very wealthy. But he wasn't a  bastard or anything. He
was  a very nice guy.  But this Roberta Walsh's  roommate didn't like him at
all. She told  Roberta  he was too conceited--and  the reason she thought he
was conceited was because he happened to mention to her that he was  captain
of  the debating  team.  A little thing  like that, and she  thought he  was
conceited! The trouble with girls is, if they like a  boy, no matter how big
a bastard he is,  they'll  say  he has an inferiority  complex, and  if they
don't  like him, no  matter  how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority
complex he has, they'll say he's conceited.  Even smart girls do it. Anyway,
I gave old Jane a buzz again, but her phone didn't  answer, so I had to hang
up. Then  I had to look through my address book to see who the hell might be
available for the evening. The trouble was, though, my address book only has
about three people  in it. Jane,  and this  man,  Mr. Antolini, that was  my
teacher at Elkton Hills, and my father's office number. I keep forgetting to
put  people's names in. So what I  did finally, I gave old Carl Luce a buzz.
He graduated from the Whooton School after I left. He was about  three years
older than I was, and  I didn't like him too much, but he was  one of  these
very intellectual guys-- he had the highest I. Q. of any boy at Whooton--and
I thought he might want to have dinner with me somewhere and have a slightly
intellectual conversation. He was very enlightening sometimes. So I gave him
a buzz. He went to Columbia now, but he lived on  65th Street and all, and I
knew he'd be home. When I got him  on the phone, he said he couldn't make it
for  dinner  but that he'd meet me  for a drink at ten o'clock at the Wicker
Bar, on 54th. I think he was pretty surprised to hear from me. I once called
him a fat-assed phony. I had  quite a  bit of time to kill till ten o'clock,
so what I did, I went to the movies at Radio City. It was probably the worst
thing I could've done, but  it  was near,  and I couldn't think of  anything
else. I  came  in  when  the goddam  stage show  was on. The  Rockettes were
kicking their heads off, the way they do when they're all in line with their
arms  around  each other's waist. The audience applauded  like mad, and some
guy behind me kept saying  to  his  wife, "You  know  what  that is?  That's
precision." He killed me.  Then, after the  Rockettes, a guy came  out  in a
tuxedo  and roller skates on,  and started skating  under a bunch  of little
tables, and  telling jokes  while he did it. He  was a very good  skater and
all, but I couldn't enjoy it much because I kept picturing him practicing to
be  a guy that roller-skates on the  stage. It  seemed  so stupid. I guess I
just wasn't in  the right mood. Then,  after  him, they  had  this Christmas
thing they have at  Radio City every year. All these angels start coming out
of the boxes and everywhere, guys carrying crucifixes and stuff all over the
place,  and the whole bunch of them--thousands of them--singing "Come All Ye
Faithful!"  like mad. Big  deal. It's  supposed  to be religious as hell,  I
know, and very pretty and all, but I can't see anything religious or pretty,
for  God's  sake, about a bunch of actors carrying crucifixes all  over  the
stage. When they were all  finished  and started going out the boxes  again,
you could tell they could hardly wait to get a cigarette or something. I saw
it with old Sally Hayes the year  before, and  she kept saying how beautiful
it was, the costumes and all. I said old Jesus probably would've puked if He
could see  it--all  those  fancy  costumes  and  all.  Sally  said  I  was a
sacrilegious atheist.  I probably am.  The thing Jesus really would've liked
would be the guy that plays the kettle drums in the orchestra. I've  watched
that guy since  I  was about eight years old. My brother Allie and I,  if we
were with our parents and  all, we used to move our seats and go way down so
we could  watch him. He's the best drummer I ever saw. He only gets a chance
to  bang them a  couple of times during a  whole piece,  but he  never looks
bored when  he isn't doing it. Then when he does  bang  them, he does  it so
nice and  sweet, with this  nervous expression on his face. One time when we
went to  Washington  with my father, Allie sent him a postcard, but I'll bet
he never got it. We weren't too sure how  to address it. After the Christmas
thing was over, the goddam picture started. It was so putrid I couldn't take
my eyes off it. It was about this English  guy, Alec something, that was  in
the war and loses his  memory  in the hospital and  all. He comes out of the
hospital carrying  a cane and limping  all  over the place, all over London,
not  knowing who the hell he is. He's really a duke, but he doesn't know it.
Then he meets this nice, homey, sincere  girl getting on  a bus. Her  goddam
hat blows off and he catches it,  and then they go upstairs and sit down and
start talking about  Charles Dickens. He's both their  favorite  author  and
all. He's carrying this copy of Oliver Twist and so's she. I could've puked.
Anyway, they  fell in love  right away,  on account of they're both  so nuts
about Charles Dickens and all, and he helps her run her publishing business.
She's a publisher, the  girl. Only, she's  not doing  so  hot,  because  her
brother's a drunkard and he spends all their dough. He's a  very bitter guy,
the brother, because he was a doctor in the war and now he can't operate any
more because his nerves are shot, so he boozes all the time, but he's pretty
witty  and all. Anyway, old Alec writes a book, and this girl  publishes it,
and they  both make a hatful of dough on it. They're  all set to get married
when this other girl, old Marcia, shows up. Marcia was Alec's fiancйe before
he  lost  his  memory, and  she  recognizes  him  when  he's in  this  store
autographing books.  She tells old  Alec he's really  a duke and all, but he
doesn't believe her and doesn't want to go with  her to visit his mother and
all. His mother's blind as a  bat. But  the other girl, the homey one, makes
him go.  She's very noble and all. So he  goes. But he still doesn't get his
memory back, even when  his great  Dane  jumps  all over him and his  mother
sticks her fingers all over his face and  brings him this teddy bear he used
to slobber around  with when he was a kid. But then, one day,  some kids are
playing  cricket on  the lawn and he gets smacked in the head with a cricket
ball.  Then right away  he gets  his goddam memory back  and he  goes in and
kisses his mother on the forehead and  all. Then  he  starts being a regular
duke again, and he  forgets all about the homey babe that has the publishing
business. I'd tell you the rest of  the story, but I might puke if I did. It
isn't that I'd spoil it for  you or anything. There  isn't anything to spoil
for  Chrissake.  Anyway, it  ends up with Alec and the  homey  babe  getting
married, and the brother that's a drunkard gets his nerves back and operates
on Alec's mother so  she can see again, and then the drunken brother and old
Marcia go for each  other.  It ends up  with everybody at this  long  dinner
table laughing their asses off because the great Dane comes  in with a bunch
of puppies. Everybody thought  it was  a male, I  suppose,  or  some  goddam
thing. All I can say is, don't see it  if  you don't  want to puke  all over
yourself. The part that got me was, there was a lady sitting next to me that
cried  all  through the goddam picture. The phonier it  got,  the  more  she
cried.  You'd have  thought she did  it because she was kindhearted as hell,
but I was sitting right next to her, and she wasn't. She had this little kid
with  her  that was bored  as hell  and had to go to the  bathroom,  but she
wouldn't take him. She kept telling him to sit still and behave himself. She
was  about  as kindhearted as  a goddam wolf.  You take somebody  that cries
their goddam eyes out over phony stuff  in the movies, and nine times out of
ten they're  mean bastards  at  heart. I'm not kidding.  After the movie was
over, I started walking down to the Wicker Bar, where I was supposed to meet
old Carl Luce, and while I walked I sort of thought about war and all. Those
war movies always do that to me. I don't think I could stand it if I  had to
go to war. I really couldn't. It wouldn't be too bad if they'd just take you
out  and shoot  you or something, but you have to stay in the Army so goddam
long. That's the whole trouble.  My brother  D. B. was  in the Army for four
goddam  years. He was in the  war, too--he  landed on  D-Day and  all--but I
really think he hated the Army worse than the war. I was practically a child
at the time, but I remember when he  used  to come home on furlough and all,
all he did was lie on his bed, practically. He hardly ever  even came in the
living room. Later, when he went overseas and  was in  the  war and  all, he
didn't  get wounded  or anything and he didn't have to shoot anybody. All he
had to do was drive some cowboy  general around all day in a command car. He
once  told  Allie and I that if he'd had to  shoot  anybody, he  wouldn't've
known which direction to shoot in. He said the Army was  practically as full
of  bastards as the  Nazis were. I remember Allie once  asked  him wasn't it
sort of good that he was in the war because he was a  writer and it gave him
a lot  to write about and all.  He  made Allie go get his  baseball mitt and
then  he  asked him  who  was  the  best  war poet, Rupert Brooke  or  Emily
Dickinson.  Allie  said  Emily Dickinson.  I don't know  too  much  about it
myself, because I don't read much poetry, but I do know it'd drive  me crazy
if  I  had to be in  the Army and  be with a  bunch  of guys like Ackley and
Stradlater and old Maurice all the  time, marching with them and all. I  was
in the Boy Scouts once, for about  a week, and I couldn't even stand looking
at the back of the guy's neck in front of me. They  kept telling you to look
at  the  back  of the guy's  neck in front  of you. I swear if  there's ever
another war, they better just take me out and stick me in  front of a firing
squad. I wouldn't object. What gets me about D. B., though, he hated the war
so much, and yet he got me to read this book A Farewell to Arms last summer.
He said it was so terrific. That's what I can't understand. It had this  guy
in it named  Lieutenant Henry that  was supposed to be a nice guy and all. I
don't see how D. B. could  hate the Army and war and  all so much and  still
like a phony  like that. I mean, for instance, I don't see how he could like
a  phony  book like  that and still like  that  one by Ring Lardner, or that
other one he's so crazy about, The Great Gatsby. D. B.  got sore when I said
that, and said I was too  young and all to appreciate  it, but I don't think
so. I told him I  liked Ring Lardner  and The Great Gatsby  and all. I  did,
too. I was crazy about The Great Gatsby. Old Gatsby.  Old sport. That killed
me. Anyway,  I'm  sort of  glad  they've  got the  atomic bomb invented.  If
there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll
volunteer for it, I swear to God I will.
     19
     In case you don't live in New York,  the Wicker  Bar is in this sort of
swanky hotel, the Seton Hotel.  I  used to go there quite a lot, but I don't
any more. I gradually cut it out. It's one of those places that are supposed
to be very sophisticated  and all, and the phonies are coming in the window.
They used to have these two French babes, Tina and Janine, come out and play
the piano and sing about three  times every  night. One of  them  played the
piano--strictly lousy--and the  other one  sang, and most of the  songs were
either  pretty dirty or in French. The one that sang, old Janine, was always
whispering into the goddam microphone  before she sang.  She'd say, "And now
we like to geeve you our  impression of Vooly Voo Fransay. Eet ees the story
of a leetle Fransh girl who comes to  a beeg  ceety, just like New York, and
falls een  love wees a  leetle boy  from Brookleen.  We hope you  like eet."
Then,  when  she was all done whispering and being cute as  hell, she'd sing
some dopey  song, half in English and  half  in  French, and  drive  all the
phonies in the  place mad with joy. If  you sat around there long enough and
heard all the  phonies applauding and all, you got to  hate everybody in the
world, I swear you did.  The bartender was  a louse, too. He was a big snob.
He didn't  talk  to you at  all hardly unless  you  were a  big  shot  or  a
celebrity or something. If you were a big shot or a celebrity or  something,
then he  was even more nauseating. He'd go up to you  and say, with this big
charming  smile,  like  he was a helluva  swell guy  if you knew him, "Well!
How's Connecticut?" or "How's Florida?"  It was  a  terrible place, I'm  not
kidding. I cut out going there entirely, gradually. It was pretty early when
I got there. I  sat down at the bar--it was pretty crowded--and had a couple
of Scotch and sodas  before  old  Luce even  showed up. I  stood up  when  I
ordered them so they  could see how tall I was and all and not think I was a
goddam minor. Then I  watched the phonies  for a while. Some  guy next to me
was snowing hell out of the babe he was with. He  kept telling her  she  had
aristocratic  hands. That  killed me. The other  end of  the bar was full of
flits. They weren't too flitty-looking--I  mean  they didn't have their hair
too long or anything--but you could tell they were flits anyway. Finally old
Luce  showed  up. Old Luce. What  a guy.  He was supposed to  be  my Student
Adviser when I was  at Whooton. The only thing he ever did, though, was give
these sex talks and all, late at night when there was a bunch of guys in his
room. He knew quite  a bit about sex,  especially perverts  and all.  He was
always telling  us about a lot of creepy  guys that go around having affairs
with sheep, and guys that go around with girls' pants sewed in the lining of
their hats and all. And flits and Lesbians. Old Luce knew who every flit and
Lesbian   in  the  United  States  was.  All  you  had  to  do  was  mention
somebody--anybody--and old  Luce'd  tell  you  if  he was  a  flit  or  not.
Sometimes it was hard to believe, the people he said were flits and Lesbians
and all, movie  actors  and like that. Some of the ones  he  said were flits
were even married, for  God's sake. You'd keep saying to  him, "You mean Joe
Blow's  a  flit?  Joe Blow?  That big, tough  guy that  plays  gangsters and
cowboys all  the  time?"  Old Luce'd say, "Certainly." He was always  saying
"Certainly." He said it  didn't matter if a guy was  married or not. He said
half the  married  guys in the  world were flits and didn't even know it. He
said  you could turn into  one practically overnight,  if  you  had all  the
traits and all. He used to scare the hell out  of us. I kept waiting to turn
into a flit or something. The funny thing about old Luce, I used to think he
was  sort of  flitty himself, in a  way. He was always saying, "Try this for
size," and then he'd goose the hell out of you while you were going down the
corridor.  And whenever he went  to the can, he  always left the goddam door
open and talked to you while you were brushing your teeth or something. That
stuff's sort of flitty. It really is. I've  known quite a few real flits, at
schools and all, and they're always doing stuff like that, and  that's why I
always had  my  doubts  about old Luce.  He  was a  pretty intelligent  guy,
though. He really  was. He never said hello or anything when he met you. The
first thing he said when he sat down was that he could only stay a couple of
minutes. He said  he had a date.  Then he ordered a dry Martini. He told the
bartender to make it very dry, and no olive. "Hey, I  got a flit for you," I
told him. "At the end of the bar. Don't look now. I been saving him for ya."
"Very funny," he said. "Same  old Caulfield. When are you going to grow up?"
I bored him a lot.  I really did. He amused me, though. He was one of  those
guys that  sort of amuse  me a lot. "How's your sex  life?" I  asked him. He
hated you to ask him stuff like  that. "Relax,"  he said. "Just sit back and
relax, for Chrissake." "I'm relaxed," I said. "How's Columbia?  Ya like it?"
"Certainly I  like it.  If I didn't like it I wouldn't have  gone there," he
said. He could be pretty  boring  himself sometimes.  "What're you  majoring
in?" I asked him. "Perverts?" I was only horsing around. "What're you trying
to be--funny?" "No. I'm  only  kidding," I said. "Listen,  hey, Luce. You're
one of these intellectual guys. I need your advice.  I'm in a terrific--" He
let out  this big groan on me. "Listen,  Caulfield. If you want to  sit here
and have a quiet, peaceful drink and a quiet, peaceful conver--" "All right,
all right," I said. "Relax." You  could tell he didn't feel like  discussing
anything serious with me. That's the trouble  with these  intellectual guys.
They never want to discuss anything serious unless they feel like it. So all
I  did was, I started discussing  topics in  general with him. "No  kidding,
how's your sex  life?" I asked  him. "You still going  around with that same
babe you used to at Whooton? The one with the terrffic--" "Good God, no," he
said.  "How  come? What happened to her?" "I haven't  the faintest idea. For
all I know, since you ask, she's probably the Whore of New Hampshire by this
time." "That isn't nice. If she  was decent enough  to let you get sexy with
her  all the  time, you at  least  shouldn't talk about  her that way." "Oh,
God!" old Luce said. "Is this going to  be a typical Caulfield conversation?
I want to know  right now." "No," I said, "but it isn't nice  anyway. If she
was decent and nice enough to let you--" "Must we pursue this horrible trend
of  thought?" I didn't say  anything. I was  sort of afraid  he'd get up and
leave on me if I didn't  shut up. So all I did was, I ordered another drink.
I  felt like getting stinking  drunk. "Who're you going around with now?"  I
asked him. "You feel like telling me?"  "Nobody you know." "Yeah, but who? I
might know her." "Girl lives  in the Village. Sculptress. If you must know."
"Yeah?  No kidding? How old is she?" "I've never asked her, for God's sake."
"Well, around how old?"  "I should imagine she's in her late thirties,"  old
Luce  said. "In her  late thirties? Yeah? You like  that?" I asked him. "You
like 'em that old?" The reason I was asking was because he really knew quite
a bit about sex and all. He was one of the few guys I knew that did. He lost
his virginity  when  he was  only fourteen, in Nantucket.  He really did. "I
like a mature person, if that's what you mean. Certainly."  "You do? Why? No
kidding, they  better  for  sex  and  all?"  "Listen.  Let's  get  one thing
straight.  I  refuse to answer any typical Caulfield questions tonight. When
in hell are you going to grow up?"  I didn't say anything for a while. I let
it  drop  for a while. Then  old  Luce ordered another Martini  and told the
bartender  to make it a  lot dryer. "Listen. How  long you been going around
with her, this sculpture babe?"  I asked him. I was  really interested. "Did
you know  her  when you were  at Whooton?" "Hardly. She just arrived in this
country a few months ago."  "She did? Where's  she from?" "She happens to be
from  Shanghai." "No kidding! She Chinese, for Chrissake?" "Obviously."  "No
kidding! Do you like that? Her being  Chinese?" "Obviously."  "Why?  I'd  be
interested to  know--I  really would."  "I simply  happen  to  find  Eastern
philosophy more satisfactory  than Western. Since you ask." "You do? Wuddaya
mean 'philosophy'? Ya mean sex and all? You mean it's better in China?  That
what you mean?" "Not  necessarily in China, for God's sake. The East I said.
Must  we go on with this inane conversation?" "Listen, I'm serious," I said.
"No  kidding.  Why's it better in the East?" "It's too involved  to go into,
for God's sake," old Luce  said. "They simply happen to regard sex as both a
physical and a spiritual  experience. If you think I'm--" "So do I!  So do I
regard it as a wuddayacallit--a physical and spiritual experience and all. I
really do. But it depends on who the hell I'm doing it with. If I'm doing it
with somebody I don't even--" "Not  so  loud, for  God's sake, Caulfield. If
you  can't  manage to keep  your voice  down, let's  drop the  whole--" "All
right, but listen," I said. I was getting excited and I was talking a little
too loud. Sometimes I talk a little loud when I get excited. "This is what I
mean, though,"  I said. "I know it's supposed to be physical  and spiritual,
and  artistic  and  all.   But  what  I  mean  is,  you  can't  do  it  with
everybody--every girl you neck with and all--and make it come  out that way.
Can  you?" "Let's drop  it," old Luce  said. "Do you mind?" "All right,  but
listen. Take you and this Chinese babe. What's so good about you two?" "Drop
it, I said." I was getting  a little too personal. I realize that. But  that
was one  of  the  annoying things about Luce. When we  were at Whooton, he'd
make  you describe the most personal stuff that happened to you, but if  you
started asking him questions  about himself, he got sore. These intellectual
guys don't like to have an intellectual conversation with you unless they're
running the whole thing. They always want you to shut up when they  shut up,
and go  back to  your room when they go back to their room.  When  I  was at
Whooton old Luce used  to hate  it--you really could tell he did--when after
he was finished giving his sex talk to a bunch  of us in his  room we  stuck
around  and chewed the fat by ourselves for a while.  I mean the  other guys
and myself. In somebody else's room.  Old Luce hated  that. He always wanted
everybody  to  go back to their  own  room  and shut up when he was finished
being the big shot. The thing he was afraid of, he was afraid somebody'd say
something smarter than he had. He really amused me. "Maybe I'll go to China.
My sex life is lousy," I said.  "Naturally. Your  mind is immature." "It is.
It  really is. I know  it," I said. "You know what the trouble with me is? I
can  never  get really sexy--I mean really sexy--with a girl I don't  like a
lot. I mean I have to like her a lot. If I don't,  I sort  of lose my goddam
desire for her  and all.  Boy,  it really  screws up my  sex life  something
awful. My sex life stinks." "Naturally it does, for God's  sake.  I told you
the last time I  saw you what you need." "You mean to go to  a psychoanalyst
and all?" I  said. That's what  he'd told me I ought to do. His father was a
psychoanalyst and all. "It's  up to you, for  God's sake. It's  none  of  my
goddam business what you do with  your life." I  didn't  say  anything for a
while.  I  was  thinking.  "Supposing  I  went  to  your father  and had him
psychoanalyze  me and all,"  I  said. "What would he do to me?  I  mean what
would he do to me?" "He  wouldn't do a goddam thing to you. He'd simply talk
to you, and you'd talk to him, for God's sake. For one thing,  he'd help you
to recognize the patterns  of your  mind." "The what?" "The patterns of your
mind. Your  mind runs in-- Listen. I'm  not giving an  elementary course  in
psychoanalysis.  If you're interested,  call him up and make an appointment.
If you're not, don't. I couldn't care  less,  frankly." I put my hand on his
shoulder. Boy, he  amused me. "You're a real  friendly bastard," I told him.
"You know that?" He  was  looking at  his wrist watch.  "I have to tear," he
said, and stood up. "Nice seeing you." He got  the bartender and told him to
bring him his check. "Hey," I said, just before he beat it. "Did your father
ever  psychoanalyze you?" "Me? Why do  you ask?" "No reason. Did he, though?
Has he?" "Not exactly. He's helped me to adjust myself to a  certain extent,
but  an extensive  analysis  hasn't  been  necessary. Why do  you ask?"  "No
reason. I was just wondering." "Well. Take it easy," he said. He was leaving
his tip  and all and he was starting to  go.  "Have just one more drink,"  I
told him. "Please. I'm lonesome as hell. No kidding." He said he couldn't do
it, though. He  said  he was  late now,  and then he  left. Old Luce. He was
strictly a pain in the ass, but he certainly  had a  good vocabulary. He had
the largest vocabulary of any boy  at Whooton when I was there. They gave us
a test.
     20
     I kept sitting there getting drunk and waiting for old  Tina and Janine
to come out and do their stuff, but they weren't there. A flitty-looking guy
with  wavy hair came out  and  played  the piano, and  then  this new  babe,
Valencia, came out and  sang.  She wasn't any good, but she was better  than
old Tina and Janine, and at least  she sang good songs. The  piano was right
next to  the bar where I  was sitting and all, and old Valencia was standing
practically right  next to  me.  I sort of  gave her  the  old  eye, but she
pretended she didn't even see  me. I probably wouldn't  have  done it, but I
was getting  drunk  as hell. When she  was finished, she  beat it out of the
room so  fast  I  didn't even get a chance to invite  her to join me  for  a
drink, so I  called  the  headwaiter over. I told him to ask old Valencia if
she'd care to join me for a drink. He said he  would, but he probably didn't
even give her my message. People  never give your message to anybody. Boy, I
sat at that  goddam  bar  till  around one o'clock or so, getting drunk as a
bastard.  I could hardly see straight. The one thing  I  did, though, I  was
careful as  hell not to get boisterous or anything. I didn't want anybody to
notice  me or anything  or ask  how old I  was. But, boy, I could hardly see
straight. When I was really  drunk,  I started that stupid business with the
bullet  in my  guts again. I was the  only guy at  the bar with a bullet  in
their guts. I kept putting my  hand under my jacket, on my stomach and  all,
to keep the blood from dripping all over the place. I didn't want anybody to
know  I was even  wounded. I was concealing the  fact that  I was a  wounded
sonuvabitch. Finally what  I felt like, I  felt like giving old  Jane a buzz
and see if she was home yet. So I paid my check and all. Then I left the bar
and  went out  where the telephones  were. I kept keeping  my  hand under my
jacket  to keep the blood from dripping. Boy, was  I drunk. But  when I  got
inside this phone booth, I wasn't much in the mood any more to give old Jane
a buzz. I  was too  drunk, I guess. So what I did, I gave  old Sally Hayes a
buzz.  I had to dial  about twenty numbers before I got the  right one. Boy,
was I blind. "Hello," I said when somebody answered the goddam phone. I sort
of yelled it,  I was so drunk.  "Who is this?" this  very cold lady's  voice
said. "This is  me. Holden Caulfield. Lemme speaka  Sally, please." "Sally's
asleep. This  is  Sally's grandmother. Why  are you  calling at  this  hour,
Holden?  Do  you  know  what  time  it  is?" "Yeah. Wanna  talka Sally. Very
important. Put her on." "Sally's asleep, young  man. Call her tomorrow. Good
night." "Wake 'er up! Wake 'er up, hey. Attaboy." Then there was a different
voice.  "Holden,  this  is me." It  was  old Sally.  "What's the  big idea?"
"Sally?  That you?" "Yes--stop screaming.  Are you  drunk?"  "Yeah.  Listen.
Listen, hey. I'll come over Christmas Eve. Okay? Trimma goddarn tree for ya.
Okay?  Okay, hey, Sally?" "Yes. You're  drunk. Go to bed now. Where are you?
Who's with you?" "Sally? I'll come over and trimma tree for  ya, okay? Okay,
hey?"  "Yes.  Go to bed  now. Where  are you? Who's  with you?" "Nobody. Me,
myself and I." Boy was I drunk! I was even still holding onto my guts. "They
got  me. Rocky's mob got me. You know that? Sally, you know that?"  "I can't
hear you. Go to bed now. I have to go. Call  me tomorrow." "Hey, Sally!  You
want me trimma tree for ya? Ya  want me to? Huh?" "Yes. Good night. Go  home
and  go  to bed." She hung  up on me. "G'night.  G'night,  Sally baby. Sally
sweetheart darling," I said. Can you imagine how drunk I was? I hung up too,
then. I  figured she probably just came home from a date. I pictured her out
with  the  Lunts and all  somewhere,  and  that Andover  jerk.  All of  them
swimming  around in a goddam  pot  of tea and saying sophisticated  stuff to
each other  and  being charming  and  phony. I wished to God  I hadn't  even
phoned her. When I'm  drunk,  I'm a madman. I stayed in the damn phone booth
for quite  a while. I kept holding onto the phone,  sort of,  so I  wouldn't
pass out. I wasn't  feeling too marvelous, to tell you  the truth.  Finally,
though,  I came  out and  went  in the men's room, staggering around like  a
moron, and  filled one of the washbowls with cold  water. Then  I  dunked my
head  in  it, right up  to the  ears. I didn't  even  bother  to  dry  it or
anything.  I  just  let  the sonuvabitch drip.  Then  I walked  over to this
radiator  by  the window  and sat down on it. It was nice and warm. It  felt
good because I was shivering like a bastard.  It's a funny thing,  I  always
shiver like hell  when I'm drunk. I didn't have anything else  to  do,  so I
kept sitting on the radiator and  counting these little white squares on the
floor. I was getting soaked. About  a  gallon of water was dripping  down my
neck,  getting all over my collar and tie and all, but I didn't give a damn.
I was too drunk to  give a damn. Then, pretty soon, the  guy that played the
piano for old Valencia, this very wavyhaired, flitty-looking guy, came in to
comb his  golden locks.  We sort of struck  up a  conversation while  he was
combing  it, except that he wasn't too goddam friendly. "Hey. You gonna  see
that Valencia babe when you  go  back in the bar?" I asked him. "It's highly
probable,"  he  said. Witty bastard.  All  I  ever meet  is witty  bastards.
"Listen. Give her my compliments.  Ask her if that goddam waiter gave her my
message, willya?" "Why don't you go  home, Mac? How  old are  you,  anyway?"
"Eighty-six. Listen. Give her my compliments. Okay?" "Why don't you go home,
Mac?" "Not me. Boy, you can play that goddam piano." I told him.  I was just
flattering him. He played the piano stinking, if you want to know the truth.
"You oughta go on  the radio," I said. "Handsome chap  like you.  All  those
goddam golden locks. Ya  need a manager?" "Go home, Mac, like a good guy. Go
home and hit the sack." "No home to go to.  No kidding--you need a manager?"
He didn't  answer me. He just went  out. He was all through combing his hair
and patting it and all, so he left. Like Stradlater. All these handsome guys
are the same. When they're  done combing  their goddam hair, they beat it on
you. When I finally got down off the radiator and went out  to the hat-check
room, I was  crying  and all. I don't know  why, but I was.  I  guess it was
because I  was feeling so damn depressed and lonesome. Then, when I went out
to the  checkroom, I couldn't  find my goddam check. The hat-check girl  was
very  nice about it,  though.  She gave  me my coat  anyway. And my  "Little
Shirley Beans" record--I still had it with me and all. I gave her a buck for
being so nice,  but she wouldn't take it. She kept telling me to go home and
go  to bed. I sort of tried to make a date with her for when she got through
working, but she wouldn't do it. She said she was old enough to be my mother
and all.  I  showed her my goddam gray hair and  told her I was forty-two--I
was  only horsing around, naturally.  She  was nice, though. I showed her my
goddam red  hunting hat,  and she  liked it. She made me  put it on before I
went out, because my hair was still pretty wet. She was all right. I  didn't
feel too  drunk any more when I went  outside, but it was getting very  cold
out  again, and  my teeth started chattering like hell. I couldn't make them
stop.  I walked over to Madison Avenue and started  to wait around for a bus
because I  didn't have hardly any  money left and I had to start economizing
on cabs and all.  But I didn't feel like getting on a damn bus. And besides,
I didn't  even know where  I was supposed  to go.  So what I  did, I started
walking over  to the park. I figured I'd go by that little lake and see what
the hell the  ducks  were  doing, see if they were  around  or not, I  still
didn't know if they were around or not. It wasn't far over to  the park, and
I didn't have anyplace else special to go to--I didn't even know where I was
going to  sleep yet--so I went. I wasn't tired or anything. I just felt blue
as hell. Then  something terrible  happened just as  I  got in  the park.  I
dropped  old Phoebe's record. It broke-into about fifty pieces. It  was in a
big envelope  and all, but it broke anyway. I  damn  near cried, it made  me
feel so terrible, but all I did was, I  took the  pieces out of the envelope
and put them in  my coat pocket. They weren't any good  for anything,  but I
didn't feel like just throwing them away. Then  I went in the park. Boy, was
it dark.  I've lived in New  York all my life, and I  know Central Park like
the back of my  hand, because I used  to roller-skate there all the time and
ride my bike when I was a kid, but I had the  most  terrific trouble finding
that lagoon that night. I knew right where it was--it was right near Central
Park  South and all--but I  still  couldn't find it. I  must've been drunker
than I thought. I kept walking and walking,  and it kept getting  darker and
darker and spookier  and spookier. I didn't see one person the  whole time I
was in the park. I'm just as glad. I probably would've jumped about  a  mile
if I had.  Then, finally, I found it.  What it was, it was partly frozen and
partly not  frozen. But  I didn't see any ducks around. I walked  all around
the whole damn lake--I damn near fell in  once, in fact--but I  didn't see a
single duck. I thought  maybe if there were any around, they might be asleep
or something near the edge of the water, near the  grass and all. That's how
I nearly fell in. But I couldn't find any. Finally I sat down on this bench,
where it  wasn't so goddam dark. Boy, I was still shivering like  a bastard,
and the back of my hair, even though I  had my hunting hat  on,  was sort of
full  of  little hunks  of  ice. That worried me. I thought probably I'd get
pneumonia  and die.  I  started  picturing  millions  of  jerks coming to my
funeral  and all. My grandfather from  Detroit,  that keeps calling  out the
numbers  of  the streets  when  you ride on  a goddam bus with him,  and  my
aunts--I have about fifty  aunts--and  all my lousy cousins. What a mob'd be
there. They all came when Allie died, the whole goddam stupid bunch of them.
I have  this one stupid aunt with halitosis that kept saying how peaceful he
looked  lying there,  D.  B. told  me. I  wasn't there. I  was  still in the
hospital. I had to go to  the hospital and all after I hurt my hand. Anyway,
I kept worrying that I was getting pneumonia, with all those hunks of ice in
my hair, and that I was going to die. I felt sorry as hell for my mother and
father. Especially my mother, because she  still isn't over my brother Allie
yet.  I  kept  picturing her not  knowing what to do  with all my suits  and
athletic equipment and all. The only good thing, I knew she wouldn't let old
Phoebe come to my goddam funeral because she was only a little kid. That was
the only good part. Then I thought about the whole bunch of them sticking me
in  a  goddam  cemetery  and all,  with my  name on  this tombstone and all.
Surrounded  by dead guys. Boy, when you're dead, they  really fix you up.  I
hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense  enough to just dump me in the
river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People
coming  and putting a  bunch of  flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and  all
that crap. Who  wants flowers  when you're dead? Nobody.  When the weather's
nice, my parents go out quite frequently and stick a bunch of flowers on old
Allie's grave. I went with them a couple of times, but I  cut it out. In the
first  place, I  certainly  don't enjoy  seeing him in  that crazy cemetery.
Surrounded by  dead guys and tombstones and all. It  wasn't too bad when the
sun was out, but twice--twice--we were there when it started to rain. It was
awful. It rained on his  lousy tombstone, and it rained on the grass on  his
stomach. It rained all over the place.  All the visitors  that were visiting
the  cemetery  started running like  hell over  to  their cars. That's  what
nearly drove me crazy. All the visitors could get in their cars and turn  on
their radios and all and then go someplace nice for dinner--everybody except
Allie.  I couldn't stand it. I know it's only his body and all that's in the
cemetery,  and his soul's in Heaven  and all that crap, but I couldn't stand
it anyway. I just wish he wasn't there.  You didn't know him. If you'd known
him,  you'd know what I  mean. It's not  too bad when the sun's out, but the
sun only comes out when it feels like coming out. After a while, just to get
my  mind  off getting pneumonia and all,  I took out my dough  and  tried to
count  it in the  lousy light from the street  lamp.  All  I  had  was three
singles and five quarters and  a nickel left--boy, I spent a fortune since I
left Pencey.  Then  what  I  did, I went  down near the lagoon and I sort of
skipped the  quarters and the nickel across it, where  it  wasn't  frozen. I
don't know why I did  it, but I did it.  I guess I thought it'd take my mind
off getting pneumonia  and dying.  It didn't, though. I started thinking how
old  Phoebe would feel if I got pneumonia and died. It was a childish way to
think, but I  couldn't stop myself. She'd feel pretty bad  if something like
that happened. She likes me a lot. I mean she's quite fond of me. She really
is. Anyway, I couldn't get  that off my  mind, so finally what I figured I'd
do, I figured I'd better sneak home and see her, in case I died  and  all. I
had my door key with me and all, and I figured what I'd do, I'd sneak in the
apartment, very quiet and all, and  just sort of chew the fat with her for a
while. The only thing that worried  me was our front door. It  creaks like a
bastard. It's a pretty old  apartment house, and the superintendent's a lazy
bastard, and  everything creaks  and squeaks. I was afraid  my parents might
hear me sneaking in. But I  decided I'd try it anyhow. So I got the hell out
of the park, and went home. I walked all the  way.  It wasn't too far, and I
wasn't tired or even drunk any more. It was just very cold and nobody around
anywhere.
     21
     The best  break  I had in  years,  when I got  home the  regular  night
elevator boy, Pete, wasn't on the car. Some new  guy  I'd  never seen was on
the  car, so  I figured that if I didn't bump smack into my parents  and all
I'd be  able to say hello to old Phoebe and then beat  it  and nobody'd even
know I'd  been around. It  was really a  terrific break. What  made it  even
better, the new elevator boy was  sort of on the stupid side. I told him, in
this very casual  voice, to take me up  to  the  Dicksteins'. The Dicksteins
were  these people  that had the other apartment on  our floor.  I'd already
taken off my hunting hat, so as  not to look suspicious or anything. I  went
in the elevator like  I was in a terrific hurry. He had  the  elevator doors
all shut and all, and  was  all set to take me up, and then he turned around
and  said, "They  ain't in. They're  at  a party  on the  fourteenth floor."
"That's all right,"  I  said. "I'm  supposed to  wait  for  them. I'm  their
nephew." He gave me this  sort of stupid, suspicious look. "You better  wait
in the lobby, fella," he said. "I'd like to--I really would," I said. "But I
have a bad leg. I have to hold it in a certain position. I think  I'd better
sit  down in the chair outside their door." He didn't  know what the  hell I
was  talking about, so all he  said  was "Oh" and took me up. Not bad,  boy.
It's  funny.  All you  have to do is  say  something nobody  understands and
they'll  do  practically  anything  you want  them  to.  I  got off  at  our
floor--limping  like  a   bastard--and  started   walking  over  toward  the
Dicksteins'  side. Then, when I  heard the elevator  doors  shut,  I  turned
around and went over to our side. I was  doing all right. I didn't even feel
drunk anymore.  Then I took  out my door key and opened  our door,  quiet as
hell. Then, very, very carefully and all, I went inside and closed the door.
I  really  should've  been  a  crook.  It was  dark  as hell in  the  foyer,
naturally, and naturally I couldn't  turn on any lights. I had to be careful
not to bump into anything  and make a racket. I certainly knew  I was  home,
though. Our foyer has a funny smell that doesn't smell like anyplace else. I
don't know what the hell it is. It isn't cauliflower and it isn't perfume--I
don't know what the hell  it is--but you always know  you're home. I started
to  take off my coat and  hang it up in the foyer closet, but that  closet's
full of hangers that rattle like madmen when you open the door, so I left it
on. Then  I started walking very, very slowly back toward old Phoebe's room.
I knew the maid  wouldn't hear me because she  had only one eardrum. She had
this brother that stuck a  straw down her ear when she was a  kid, she  once
told me. She was pretty deaf and all.  But my parents, especially my mother,
she has ears  like a goddam bloodhound. So I took it very, very easy when  I
went past their door. I even held my breath, for God's sake.  You can hit my
father over the head with  a chair and he won't wake  up, but my mother, all
you have to  do to my mother is cough somewhere in  Siberia  and she'll hear
you.  She's  nervous  as  hell.  Half  the  time she's up all  night smoking
cigarettes. Finally, after about an hour, I got  to  old  Phoebe's room. She
wasn't there, though. I  forgot about that. I forgot she always sleeps in D.
B.  's room when he's away in Hollywood or  some place. She likes it because
it's the biggest room in the house. Also because it has this big  old madman
desk in it that D. B. bought  off some lady alcoholic  in  Philadelphia, and
this big, gigantic bed that's about  ten miles  wide and  ten miles  long. I
don't know where he bought that bed. Anyway, old Phoebe likes to sleep in D.
B. 's room when he's  away, and he lets her. You ought to see  her doing her
homework or something at that crazy desk. It's almost as big as the bed. You
can  hardly see her when she's doing  her homework. That's the kind of stuff
she  likes, though. She  doesn't like her own room because it's  too little,
she says. She says she likes to spread out. That kills me. What's old Phoebe
got to spread out? Nothing. Anyway, I went into D. B. 's room quiet as hell,
and turned on the lamp on the desk. Old Phoebe didn't even wake up. When the
light was on and all, I sort of looked  at her for a while.  She  was laying
there asleep, with her  face sort of on the side of the pillow. She had  her
mouth  way open.  It's funny. You take  adults, they look lousy when they're
asleep and they have their  mouths  way open, but  kids don't. Kids look all
right.  They can even have spit all over the pillow and they still  look all
right. I went  around the room, very quiet and all, looking at  stuff for  a
while.  I  felt  swell, for a change. I didn't even feel  like I was getting
pneumonia or anything any more. I just felt good, for a change. Old Phoebe's
clothes were  on this chair right next to  the  bed. She's very neat,  for a
child. I mean she doesn't just throw her stuff around, like some kids. She's
no slob. She  had the jacket to this tan suit my mother bought her in Canada
hung up  on  the back of  the chair. Then  her blouse and stuff  were on the
seat. Her shoes and socks  were on  the floor, right underneath  the  chair,
right next to  each other. I never saw the shoes before. They were new. They
were these dark brown loafers, sort of like this pair I have, and they  went
swell with that suit my  mother bought her in Canada. My mother  dresses her
nice. She really does. My mother has terrific taste in some things. She's no
good at buying ice skates or anything like that, but clothes, she's perfect.
I  mean Phoebe always has some dress on that can  kill  you.  You  take most
little kids,  even if  their parents are wealthy and  all, they usually have
some  terrible dress on. I  wish  you could  see old Phoebe in that  suit my
mother bought her  in Canada. I'm not kidding. I  sat  down on old  D. B. 's
desk and  looked at the  stuff  on  it. It was  mostly Phoebe's stuff,  from
school and all. Mostly books. The one on top was called Arithmetic Is Fun! I
sort of opened the first page and took a look at it. This is what old Phoebe
had on it:



     That killed  me.  Her middle name is  Josephine,  for  God's sake,  not
Weatherfield. She doesn't like it, though. Every time  I see her she's got a
new middle  name  for herself. The  book  underneath  the arithmetic  was  a
geography, and the book under  the geography was a  speller. She's very good
in  spelling.  She's  very  good  in  all her  subjects, but she's  best  in
spelling. Then, under the speller,  there were a bunch of notebooks. She has
about five thousand notebooks. You never saw a kid with so many notebooks. I
opened the one on top and looked at the first page. It had on it:

     Bernice meet me at recess I have something very  very important to tell
you.

     That was all there was on that page. The next one had on it:

     Why  has south eastern  Alaska so many caning factories? Because theres
so  much  salmon  Why has  it  valuable  forests?  because it has  the right
climate. What  has  our government done to make  life easier for the alaskan
eskimos?  look it up  for  tomorrow!!! Phoebe Weatherfield  Caulfield Phoebe
Weatherfield Caulfield  Phoebe Weatherfield  Caulfield  Phoebe  W. Caulfield
Phoebe Weatherfield  Caulfield, Esq. Please  pass to Shirley!!!! Shirley you
said you were sagitarius  but  your only  taurus bring  your skates when you
come over to my house

     I  sat  there on D.  B. 's desk and  read the whole notebook. It didn't
take  me  long, and I can  read that kind of  stuff,  some  kid's  notebook,
Phoebe's or anybody's, all day and all night  long. Kid's notebooks kill me.
Then I lit another cigarette--it  was  my last  one. I must've smoked  about
three cartons  that day. Then, finally, I woke her up. I mean I couldn't sit
there on that desk for  the rest  of my  life, and besides, I was  afraid my
parents might barge in on me all of a sudden and  I  wanted to  at least say
hello to her before they did.  So I woke her up. She wakes up very easily. I
mean  you  don't  have to  yell at her  or  anything. All  you have  to  do,
practically, is  sit  down on the bed and say, "Wake up, Phoeb,"  and bingo,
she's awake. "Holden!" she said right away. She put her arms around  my neck
and all. She's very  affectionate.  I mean she's quite  affectionate, for  a
child. Sometimes she's even too affectionate. I sort of gave her a kiss, and
she said, "Whenja get home7' She was glad as hell to see me. You could tell.
"Not so  loud.  Just now.  How are  ya anyway?" "I'm  fine. Did you  get  my
letter? I wrote you a five-page--" "Yeah--not so loud. Thanks." She wrote me
this letter.  I  didn't get a chance to answer  it, though. It was all about
this  play she  was  in in school. She  told  me not to  make any  dates  or
anything for  Friday so that I  could come see it. "How's the play?" I asked
her.  "What'd  you  say  the  name  of it was?"  "'A Christmas  Pageant  for
Americans.  '  It stinks,  but I'm Benedict  Arnold.  I have practically the
biggest part," she said. Boy, was she wide-awake. She gets very excited when
she tells you that stuff. "It starts out when I'm dying. This ghost comes in
on  Christmas Eve and  asks me if I'm ashamed and everything.  You know. For
betraying my  country and everything. Are you coming to it?" She was sitting
way the  hell up in the bed  and all. "That's what  I wrote you  about.  Are
you?"  "Sure I'm coming. Certainly I'm coming." "Daddy can't come. He has to
fly  to California,"  she said. Boy,  was she wide-awake. It  only takes her
about two seconds to get wide-awake. She was  sitting--sort of kneeling--way
up in bed, and she was holding my goddam hand. "Listen. Mother said you'd be
home  Wednesday," she said. "She  said Wednesday." "I got  out early. Not so
loud. You'll wake everybody up." "What time is  it? They won't  be home till
very late, Mother said. They  went to a party  in Norwalk, Connecticut," old
Phoebe said. "Guess what I did this afternoon! What movie  I saw. Guess!" "I
don't know--Listen. Didn't  they say what time  they'd--" "The  Doctor," old
Phoebe said. "It's a special  movie  they had at the Lister Foundation. Just
this one day they had  it--today  was the only  day.  It was all  about this
doctor  in Kentucky  and everything that  sticks a blanket over this child's
face  that's a  cripple  and can't walk.  Then  they  send him  to  jail and
everything. It  was excellent." "Listen a second. Didn't they say  what time
they'd--" "He feels  sorry for  it,  the  doctor.  That's why he sticks this
blanket over her face and everything and makes her suffocate. Then they make
him  go  to jail for life imprisonment,  but  this  child that  he stuck the
blanket over its  head comes  to visit him all the time and  thanks  him for
what he did. He was a mercy killer. Only, he knows he deserves to go to jail
because a doctor isn't supposed  to take things away from God.  This girl in
my class's mother took us.  Alice  Holmborg, She's my best friend. She's the
only girl in the whole--" "Wait a second, willya?" I said. "I'm asking you a
question. Did they say what time  they'd be back, or didn't they?"  "No, but
not till very late. Daddy took the car and everything  so they wouldn't have
to worry about trains. We have a radio  in  it now! Except  that Mother said
nobody can  play it when the car's in traffic." I began to relax, sort of. I
mean I finally quit worrying  about whether they'd catch me  home or  not. I
figured  the hell  with  it. If  they did, they did. You should've seen  old
Phoebe. She  had  on these blue  pajamas with  red elephants on the collars.
Elephants knock  her out. "So it  was a good picture,  huh?" I said. "Swell,
except Alice had a cold, and her mother kept asking  her all the time if she
felt grippy. Right in the middle of  the  picture.  Always in the  middle of
something  important, her  mother'd lean all  over me and everything and ask
Alice if she felt grippy.  It got on my nerves."  Then  I told her about the
record. "Listen, I bought you a record," I told her. "Only I broke it on the
way home." I took the pieces out  of  my coat  pocket and showed her. "I was
plastered,"  I  said.  "Gimme the pieces,"  she said. "I'm saving them." She
took them  right out  of my hand and then she put them in  the drawer of the
night table. She kills me. "D. B. coming  home for  Christmas?" I asked her.
"He  may and he may not, Mother said. It all depends. He may have to stay in
Hollywood and write a picture about Annapolis." "Annapolis, for God's sake!"
"It's a love story and everything. Guess who's going to be in it! What movie
star. Guess!"  "I'm not interested. Annapolis, for  God's sake. What's D. B.
know about Annapolis, for God's sake? What's that got to do with the kind of
stories  he  writes?" I said. Boy, that  stuff drives  me crazy. That goddam
Hollywood. "What'd you do to your arm?" I asked her. I noticed she  had this
big hunk of adhesive tape on her elbow. The reason I noticed it, her pajamas
didn't have any sleeves. "This boy, Curtis  Weintraub, that's  in  my class,
pushed me while I was  going down  the stairs in the park," she said. "Wanna
see?"  She started  taking the crazy  adhesive tape off her  arm. "Leave  it
alone. Why'd he push you  down the  stairs?" "I don't know. I think he hates
me," old Phoebe said. "This other girl and me, Selma  Atterbury, put ink and
stuff  all over  his windbreaker." "That isn't nice. What are  you--a child,
for God's  sake?" "No, but every  time  I'm  in  the  park,  he  follows  me
everywhere. He's  always following me. He gets  on my  nerves." "He probably
likes you. That's no reason to put ink all--" "I don't want him to like me,"
she said. Then she started  looking  at  me  funny. "Holden," she said, "how
come you're not home Wednesday?" "What?" Boy, you  have to watch  her  every
minute.  If you don't think she's smart,  you're mad. "How  come you're  not
home  Wednesday?" she asked me.  "You didn't get kicked out or anything, did
you?" "I told you. They let us out early. They let the whole--" "You did get
kicked out!  You  did!" old Phoebe said. Then she hit me on the leg with her
fist. She gets very fisty when she feels like it. "You did! Oh, Holden!" She
had her hand on her mouth and all. She gets very emotional, I swear to  God.
"Who  said I got kicked out? Nobody said I--"  "You did. You did," she said.
Then  she smacked  me again with  her  fist. If you  don't think that hurts,
you're crazy. "Daddy'll kill you!" she said. Then she flopped on her stomach
on the bed  and put the goddam pillow  over her head. She  does  that  quite
frequently.  She's  a true  madman sometimes. "Cut  it out,  now,"  I  said.
"Nobody's gonna kill me. Nobody's gonna even--C'mon, Phoeb, take that goddam
thing off your  head.  Nobody's  gonna kill me." She wouldn't  take it  off,
though. You can't make her do something if she doesn't want to. All she kept
saying was, "Daddy s gonna kill you."  You could hardly  understand her with
that goddam pillow over her head. "Nobody's gonna kill me. Use your head. In
the  first place, I'm going away. What I may do, I may get a  job on a ranch
or something for a while. I know this guy whose grandfather's got a ranch in
Colorado. I may get a job out there," I  said. "I'll keep in touch  with you
and all when  I'm gone, if I go. C'mon. Take that off your head. C'mon, hey,
Phoeb.  Please.  Please, willya?' She wouldn t  take it off, though I  tried
pulling it off, but she's strong as hell.  You get tired  fighting with her.
Boy, if she  wants  to keep a pillow over her  head, she keeps it.  "Phoebe,
please. C'mon outa there," I kept saying. "C'mon, hey...  Hey, Weatherfield.
C'mon out." She wouldn't come out, though. You  can't  even reason  with her
sometimes. Finally,  I got up and  went out in the living room and  got some
cigarettes out of the box  on the  table and stuck some in my pocket. I  was
all out.
     22
     When I came back, she had the pillow off her head all right--I knew she
would--but she still  wouldn't look at me, even though she was laying on her
back and all. When I came around the side of the bed and sat down again, she
turned her crazy face the other way. She was ostracizing the hell out of me.
Just like the fencing team at Pencey when I left all the goddam foils on the
subway. "How's old Hazel  Weatherfield?" I said. "You  write any new stories
about her? I got that one you sent me right in my suitcase. It's down at the
station.  It's  very  good."  "Daddy'll  kill  you."  Boy, she  really  gets
something on her mind  when  she gets something on her mind. "No,  he won't.
The worst he'll do, he'll give me hell again, and then he'll send me to that
goddam military school. That's all he'll do to me. And in the first place, I
won't even be around. I'll be away. I'll be--I'll probably be in Colorado on
this ranch." "Don't make me laugh. You can't even ride a horse." "Who can't?
Sure I can.  Certainly I can. They can teach you  in  about two  minutes," I
said. "Stop picking  at that." She was picking at  that adhesive tape on her
arm. "Who gave you that haircut?" I asked her. I  just noticed what a stupid
haircut somebody gave her.  It  was way too short.  "None of your business,"
she  said.  She can be  very snotty  sometimes. She can be  quite snotty. "I
suppose you failed in every single subject again," she said--very snotty. It
was sort of  funny, too,  in a way. She sounds  like a  goddam schoolteacher
sometimes, and she's only  a little child. "No, I didn't," I said. "I passed
English." Then, just for the  hell of it, I gave her  a pinch on the behind.
It was sticking way out in the breeze, the way she was  laying on her  side.
She has hardly any behind. I didn't do it hard, but she tried to hit my hand
anyway, but she missed. Then all of a sudden, she said,  "Oh, why did you do
it?" She meant why did I get the ax again. It  made me  sort of sad, the way
she said it. "Oh, God, Phoebe, don't ask me. I'm sick of everybody asking me
that," I  said.  "A million reasons why. It  was one of the  worst schools I
ever went to. It was full of phonies.  And mean guys.  You never saw so many
mean guys in your life. For instance, if you were having  a  bull session in
somebody's room, and somebody wanted to  come in,  nobody'd  let them  in if
they  were some dopey, pimply guy.  Everybody was  always locking their door
when somebody wanted to come in.  And they had this goddam secret fraternity
that I was too yellow not  to join. There was this one pimply,  boring  guy,
Robert Ackley, that wanted  to get  in.  He  kept  trying  to join, and they
wouldn't let him. Just  because he was boring and pimply. I don't  even feel
like talking about  it. It was a  stinking school. Take my word." Old Phoebe
didn't say anything, but she was listen ing. I could tell by the back of her
neck that she was listening. She always listens when you tell her something.
And the funny part is she knows, half the time, what the hell you're talking
about. She really does. I kept talking about old Pencey. I sort of felt like
it. "Even the couple of nice  teachers on  the faculty,  they were  phonies,
too," I  said. "There was this one old guy, Mr. Spencer. His wife was always
giving you hot  chocolate and all  that stuff,  and they were really  pretty
nice. But you should've seen him when the  headmaster, old Thurmer, came  in
the history class and sat down in the back of the room. He was always coming
in and sitting down in the back of the room for about a half an hour. He was
supposed  to be incognito or something. After a while, he'd  be sitting back
there and then he'd  start interrupting what old Spencer was saying to crack
a lot  of corny jokes. Old Spencer'd  practically kill himself chuckling and
smiling and  all,  like  as  if  Thurmer was a goddam prince or  something."
"Don't swear  so much." "It would've  made you puke,  I  swear it would,"  I
said.  "Then, on Veterans' Day. They have this day, Veterans' Day,  that all
the jerks that graduated from Pencey around 1776 come back and walk all over
the place, with their wives and children  and everybody. You should've  seen
this one  old guy that was about fifty. What he did was, he came in our room
and knocked on the door  and asked us if we'd mind if  he used the bathroom.
The bathroom was at the end of  the corridor--I don't know  why  the hell he
asked us. You  know what  he said? He said he wanted to  see if his initials
were still in one of the can doors. What he did, he carved his goddam stupid
sad old initials  in one of  the can  doors  about ninety years ago,  and he
wanted to see if they were still there. So my roommate and I walked him down
to the bathroom and all, and we had to stand  there while he looked for  his
initials in all the can doors. He kept talking to us the whole time, telling
us how when  he was  at Pencey they  were the happiest days of his life, and
giving us a lot of advice for the future and all. Boy,  did he depress me! I
don't mean he was a bad guy--he wasn't. But you don't  have  to be a bad guy
to depress somebody--you can be a good  guy and do it. All you have to do to
depress somebody is give them a lot of phony advice while you're looking for
your initials in  some  can door--that's  all you have  to do. I don't know.
Maybe it wouldn't  have been so  bad if he hadn't been all out of breath. He
was all out of  breath from just climbing up the stairs, and the  whole time
he was looking for  his initials  he kept breathing hard, with  his nostrils
all funny and  sad, while he kept telling  Stradlater  and  I to get all  we
could  out  of Pencey. God, Phoebe! I  can't  explain.  I just  didn't  like
anything  that  was happening at  Pencey.  I can't explain." Old Phoebe said
something then, but I couldn't hear her. She had the side of her mouth right
smack on the pillow,  and I couldn't hear  her.  "What?"  I said. "Take your
mouth  away. I can't hear  you  with  your mouth that way."  "You don't like
anything that's happening."  It made  me even more depressed  when she  said
that.  "Yes I do. Yes I do. Sure I do. Don't say  that.  Why the hell do you
say that?" "Because you don't. You  don't like any schools. You don't like a
million things. You don't." "I do! That's where you're wrong--that's exactly
where you're wrong! Why  the hell do you have to say that?" I said. Boy, was
she  depressing me.  "Because you don't," she said. "Name  one  thing." "One
thing?  One thing  I like?"  I  said.  "Okay." The  trouble was, I  couldn't
concentrate too hot. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate. "One thing I like a
lot you  mean?" I  asked her.  She didn't  answer me,  though.  She was in a
cockeyed position way the hell over the other side of the bed. She was about
a thousand miles away. "C'mon answer  me," I  said. "One thing I like a lot,
or one thing I just  like?" "You like a  lot." "All  right," I said. But the
trouble was, I couldn't concentrate. About all I could think  of were  those
two  nuns that  went  around collecting dough  in  those  beatup  old  straw
baskets. Especially the one with the glasses with those  iron rims. And this
boy I knew at  Elkton Hills. There was this one  boy at Elkton Hills,  named
James Castle, that  wouldn't  take back  something he said about  this  very
conceited boy,  Phil Stabile. James Castle called  him a very conceited guy,
and one of Stabile's lousy friends  went and squealed on him to Stabile.  So
Stabile, with  about six  other dirty  bastards, went down to James Castle's
room and went in and locked the goddam door and tried to make him  take back
what he said, but he wouldn't do it. So they started in on him. I won't even
tell  you  what they did to him--it's  too repulsive--but he  still wouldn't
take it back, old James Castle. And you should've seen  him. He was a skinny
little weak-looking guy, with  wrists about as big as pencils. Finally, what
he did, instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window. I was
in  the shower and  all, and even I could hear him land outside.  But I just
thought something fell out the window, a radio or a desk or something, not a
boy  or anything. Then  I heard everybody running through  the  corridor and
down the stairs, so I put on my bathrobe and I ran downstairs too, and there
was old James Castle laying right  on the  stone steps and all. He was dead,
and his teeth, and blood, were all over the place, and nobody would even  go
near  him. He had on this turtleneck sweater I'd lent him. All they did with
the guys that were in the room with him was expel them. They didn't even  go
to  jail. That was about all I could think of, though. Those two  nuns I saw
at  breakfast and this boy James Castle  I knew at Elkton  Hills. The  funny
part  is, I hardly even know James Castle, if you want to know the truth. He
was one of these  very quiet  guys. He was in my math  class, but he was way
over on the other side of the room, and he  hardly ever got up  to recite or
go to  the blackboard or anything. Some guys in school hardly ever get up to
recite or  go  to  the  blackboard. I think the only  time I ever even had a
conversation with him  was that  time he asked  me if  he could borrow  this
turtleneck  sweater I had. I damn near  dropped dead when he asked me, I was
so  surprised and all. I remember I was brushing my teeth,  in the can, when
he asked me. He  said his cousin was coming in to take him  for  a drive and
all. I didn't even know he knew I had a turtleneck sweater. All I knew about
him was that his name was always right ahead of me at roll  call. Cabel, R.,
Cabel, W.,  Castle, Caulfield--I can still remember it. If you  want to know
the  truth, I almost didn't lend him my sweater. Just because I didn't  know
him too well. "What?" I said to old Phoebe. She said something  to me, but I
didn't hear her.  "You can't even  think of one  thing." "Yes, I can. Yes, I
can." "Well, do it, then."  "I  like Allie," I  said. "And I like doing what
I'm doing right now. Sitting here with  you, and talking, and thinking about
stuff,  and--" "Allie's dead--You  always say  that! If  somebody's dead and
everything, and in Heaven, then it isn't really--" "I know he's  dead! Don't
you think I  know that?  I can still like him, though, can't I? Just because
somebody's dead, you don't just stop liking them, for God's sake--especially
if they were about  a thousand  times nicer than the people you know that're
alive  and all."  Old  Phoebe didn't say  anything. When  she can't think of
anything to  say, she  doesn't say a goddam word. "Anyway, I like it now," I
said. "I mean right now. Sitting here with you and just chewing  the fat and
horsing--"  "That  isn't  anything  really!"  "It  is  so something  really!
Certainly it  is! Why  the  hell isn't  it? People  never  think anything is
anything really. I'm getting goddam sick  of it," "Stop swearing. All right,
name something else. Name something you'd like to be. Like a scientist. Or a
lawyer or something." "I couldn't be a scientist.  I'm no  good in science."
"Well,  a lawyer--like Daddy  and all." "Lawyers are all right, I guess--but
it doesn't  appeal  to  me,"  I said. "I mean they're  all right if  they go
around saving innocent guys'  lives all the  time, and like  that,  but  you
don't do that kind of stuff if you're a  lawyer. All you do is make a lot of
dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look
like a hot-shot. And besides. Even if you did  go  around saving guys' lives
and all, how would you know if you  did it because you really wanted to save
guys' lives,  or because you did it because what you really wanted to do was
be  a  terrific  lawyer,  with  everybody  slapping  you  on  the  back  and
congratulating  you in court when the  goddam trial  was over, the reporters
and  everybody, the  way it is in the dirty movies? How would  you know  you
weren't being a phony? The  trouble is, you wouldn't." I'm not too  sure old
Phoebe knew  what the hell I was talking  about. I mean  she's only a little
child  and  all.  But  she  was  listening, at least.  If somebody at  least
listens, it's not too bad.  "Daddy's going to kill  you. He's  going to kill
you," she said.  I wasn't listening, though. I was thinking  about something
else--something crazy.  "You  know what  I'd like to be?"  I said. "You know
what  I'd  like to  be? I  mean if  I had my  goddam  choice?"  "What?  Stop
swearing." "You know that  song 'If a  body catch a  body comin' through the
rye'? I'd like--" "It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old
Phoebe said. "It's a  poem. By Robert Burns." "I know  it's a poem by Robert
Burns." She was right, though. It  is "If a body meet a body coming  through
the rye." I didn't know it then,  though. "I thought it was 'If a body catch
a body,'" I  said. "Anyway,  I keep picturing all these little kids  playing
some game in this big  field of rye and  all. Thousands of little  kids, and
nobody's around--nobody big, I mean--except me. And I'm standing on the edge
of some  crazy cliff. What I have to do, I  have to catch  everybody if they
start  to go over the cliff--I  mean if they're running and they  don't look
where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's
all I'd do all day. I'd just  be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's
crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's  crazy."
Old  Phoebe  didn't  say  anything  for  a  long time. Then, when  she  said
something, all she said was, "Daddy's going to  kill you."  "I don't  give a
damn if he does," I said.  I got up from the bed then, because what I wanted
to  do, I  wanted to phone up this guy that was my English teacher at Elkton
Hills, Mr. Antolini. He lived in New York now. He quit Elkton Hills. He took
this job teaching English at N. Y. U. "I have to  make a phone call," I told
Phoebe. "I'll be right back. Don't go to sleep." I didn't want her  to go to
sleep while  I was  in the  living room. I knew  she wouldn't  but I said it
anyway, just to  make sure. While I was walking  toward the door, old Phoebe
said, "Holden!"  and  I turned around. She was sitting way up  in  bed.  She
looked so pretty. "I'm  taking  belching lessons  from  this  girl,  Phyllis
Margulies,"  she said.  "Listen." I listened, and I heard  something, but it
wasn't much. "Good," I said. Then I went  out  in the living room and called
up this teacher I had, Mr. Antolini.
     23
     I made it  very snappy on the  phone  because I was  afraid  my parents
would  barge in on  me right in the middle of  it.  They didn't, though. Mr.
Antolini was very nice. He said  I could come right  over if  I wanted to. I
think  I  probably woke he  and his wife  up, because it took them a helluva
long time  to answer the phone. The first thing he asked me was if  anything
was wrong, and  I  said no. I  said  I'd  flunked out of  Pencey, though.  I
thought I might as  well tell him. He said "Good God," when I said  that. He
had a good sense  of humor and all. He told me to come right over if  I felt
like  it. He was  about the best teacher I ever had, Mr. Antolini. He  was a
pretty young guy, not much  older than my brother D. B.,  and you could  kid
around  with him  without  losing your respect for him. He was the one  that
finally picked up  that boy that jumped out  the window  I  told you  about,
James Castle. Old Mr. Antolini felt his  pulse and all, and then he took off
his coat and put it over  James Castle and carried him all  the way  over to
the infirmary. He didn't even give a damn if his coat got all bloody. When I
got back  to  D. B. 's room, old Phoebe'd turned  the  radio on. This  dance
music was coming out.  She'd turned it on low, though,  so the maid wouldn't
hear it. You should've seen her. She was sitting smack in the  middle of the
bed, outside the covers, with her legs folded like one of  those Yogi  guys.
She was listening  to the music.  She  kills me.  "C'mon," I said. "You feel
like dancing?" I taught her  how to dance and all when she was a tiny little
kid. She's a very  good  dancer. I mean I just taught her a  few things. She
learned  it mostly by herself. You can't teach somebody how to really dance.
"You have shoes on," she said. "I'll take  'em off. C'mon." She  practically
jumped off the bed, and then she  waited while I took my shoes off, and then
I danced  with her for a while. She's really damn good. I don't like  people
that dance with little kids, because most of  the  time it looks terrible. I
mean if  you're out at a  restaurant somewhere and you see some old guy take
his little kid out  on the dance floor. Usually they keep yanking  the kid's
dress up  in the back by  mistake,  and  the  kid can't dance  worth a  damn
anyway, and it looks terrible, but I don't  do it  out in public with Phoebe
or  anything.  We just  horse around in  the house.  It's different with her
anyway, because she can dance. She can follow anything you do. I mean if you
hold her in close as hell  so that it doesn't  matter that your legs are  so
much longer. She stays right with you.  You can cross over, or do some corny
dips, or even jitterbug a little, and she stays right with you. You can even
tango,  for  God's sake.  We danced about  four numbers. In  between numbers
she's funny as hell. She  stays right  in  position. She won't even talk  or
anything. You both have to stay right in position and wait for the orchestra
to start  playing  again. That kills me. You're  not  supposed  to laugh  or
anything, either.  Anyway, we danced about  four numbers,  and then I turned
off the radio. Old Phoebe jumped back  in bed and got under the covers. "I'm
improving, aren't I?"  she asked me. "And how," I said. I  sat down next  to
her on  the bed again.  I was sort of out of breath.  I was  smoking so damn
much,  I had hardly  any wind.  She  wasn't  even  out  of breath.  "Feel my
forehead," she said all of a sudden. "Why?" "Feel it.  Just feel it once." I
felt it. I didn't feel anything, though.  "Does it feel very feverish?"  she
said. "No. Is it supposed to?" "Yes--I'm  making it. Feel  it again." I felt
it  again, and I  still didn't feel  anything,  but  I  said, "I  think it's
starting  to, now."  I didn't want her to  get a goddam inferiority complex.
She nodded. "I can make it go up to over the thermoneter." "Thermometer. Who
said so?"  "Alice Holmborg showed me how. You cross your legs and  hold your
breath and think of something very, very hot. A radiator or  something. Then
your whole forehead gets so hot  you can burn somebody's hand." That  killed
me.  I pulled my hand away from her forehead, like I was in terrific danger.
"Thanks for telling me," I said. "Oh, I wouldn't've burned your hand. I'd've
stopped before it got too--Shhh!" Then, quick as hell, she sat way the  hell
up in bed. She scared hell out of me when she did that. "What's the matter?"
I said. "The  front door!"  she  said  in this loud whisper. "It's them!"  I
quick jumped up and  ran over and turned off the light over the desk. Then I
jammed  out my  cigarette on my shoe and put  it in my pocket. Then I fanned
hell out of  the  air,  to  get the smoke  out--I shouldn't  even  have been
smoking, for God's sake. Then I grabbed  my shoes and got in  the closet and
shut the door.  Boy, my  heart was beating like a bastard. I heard my mother
come in the room. "Phoebe?"  she said.  "Now,  stop  that.  I saw the light,
young lady." "Hello!" I  heard  old Phoebe  say. "I  couldn't sleep. Did you
have  a good time?"  "Marvelous,"  my mother said, but  you  could tell  she
didn't mean it.  She doesn't enjoy herself  much when she goes out. "Why are
you awake,  may I ask? Were  you warm  enough?" "I was  warm enough,  I just
couldn't sleep." "Phoebe, have you been smoking a cigarette in here? Tell me
the truth, please, young lady." "What?" old Phoebe said. "You heard me."  "I
just  lit one for one second. I just took one puff.  Then I threw it out the
window." "Why, may I ask?" "I couldn't sleep." "I don't like that, Phoebe. I
don't like that at all," my mother said. "Do you want another blanket?" "No,
thanks. G'night!"  old  Phoebe said.  She was trying to get rid of her,  you
could tell. "How was the  movie?" my mother said. "Excellent. Except Alice's
mother. She kept leaning over and  asking her if she felt grippy during  the
whole entire movie. We took a taxi home." "Let me  feel  your  forehead." "I
didn't  catch  anything.  She didn't have anything. It was just her mother."
"Well.  Go to  sleep now. How was  your dinner?" "Lousy," Phoebe  said. "You
heard what your father said about using that word. What was  lousy about it?
You  had a lovely lamb chop.  I walked all over Lexington Avenue just  to--"
"The  lamb chop was  all right, but Charlene always  breathes on me whenever
she puts something down. She breathes all over the food and  everything. She
breathes on everything." "Well. Go to sleep. Give Mother a kiss. Did you say
your prayers?" "I said them in the bathroom. G'night!" "Good night. Go right
to sleep  now.  I  have a  splitting  headache," my  mother said.  She  gets
headaches  quite frequently.  She really does. "Take a  few  aspirins,"  old
Phoebe said. "Holden'll be home on Wednesday, won't he?"  "So far as I know.
Get under  there,  now. Way down."  I heard  my mother go out and  close the
door. I  waited a couple of minutes. Then I came out of the closet. I bumped
smack into old Phoebe when I did it, because it was so dark and she was  out
of bed and coming to tell  me. "I hurt you?" I said. You had to whisper now,
because they were both home. "I gotta  get a  move on," I  said. I found the
edge of  the  bed in the dark  and sat  down on it and started putting on my
shoes. I was pretty nervous.  I admit it.  "Don't go now," Phoebe whispered.
"Wait'll they're asleep!" "No. Now. Now's the best time," I said. "She'll be
in the  bathroom and Daddy'll turn on the news or something.  Now's the best
time." I could hardly tie my shoelaces, I was so damn nervous. Not that they
would've  killed  me or anything if they'd caught  me home, but  it would've
been very unpleasant and all. "Where the hell are ya?" I said to old Phoebe.
It was so dark I  couldn't see her. "Here." She  was standing right next  to
me. I didn't even  see her. "I  got  my damn  bags at the station,"  I said.
"Listen.  You  got any  dough,  Phoeb?  I'm  practically  broke."  "Just  my
Christmas dough. For presents and  all. I haven't  done any shopping  at all
yet." "Oh." I didn't  want to take her Christmas dough. "You want some?" she
said. "I  don't want to  take your Christmas dough." "I  can lend you some,"
she said. Then I heard her over  at D. B. 's desk, opening a million drawers
and feeling around with her hand. It was  pitch-black, it was so dark in the
room.  "If you go  away, you  won't see me in the play," she said. Her voice
sounded funny when she  said it. "Yes, I will. I  won't  go way before that.
You think I wanna miss the play?" I said. "What I'll  do, I'll probably stay
at  Mr. Antolini's house till maybe Tuesday night. Then I'll come home. If I
get a chance, I'll phone  ya."  "Here,"  old Phoebe said. She  was trying to
give me the dough, but she couldn't find my hand. "Where?" She put the dough
in my hand. "Hey, I don't need all  this," I said. "Just give me  two bucks,
is all. No kidding--Here."  I tried to give it back to her, but she wouldn't
take it. "You can take  it all. You can pay  me back. Bring it to the play."
"How  much  is  it, for  God's sake?" "Eight dollars  and eighty-five cents.
Sixty-five cents. I  spent some." Then, all of a sudden, I started to cry. I
couldn't help it. I  did it so nobody could hear me, but I did it. It scared
hell out of old Phoebe when I started doing it, and she came over  and tried
to make me stop, but  once you get started, you can't  just stop on a goddam
dime. I  was still sitting on the edge of the bed when I did it, and she put
her old  arm around my neck, and  I  put my arm around her, too, but I still
couldn't stop  for a long time. I thought  I was going to  choke to death or
something. Boy,  I scared  hell out of poor old Phoebe. The damn window  was
open and everything, and I could feel her shivering and all, because all she
had  on  was  her pajamas. I  tried  to make her  get  back in  bed, but she
wouldn't go. Finally I stopped. But  it certainly took me a long, long time.
Then I finished buttoning my coat and all. I told her I'd keep in touch with
her. She told me I could sleep with her if I wanted to, but I said  no, that
I'd  better  beat it, that Mr. Antolini was waiting for  me and all.  Then I
took my  hunting hat out of  my coat pocket and  gave  it  to her. She likes
those kind of crazy hats. She didn't want to  take it, but  I made her. I'll
bet  she slept  with it on. She really likes those kind of hats. Then I told
her again I'd give her a buzz  if I got a  chance, and then I left. It was a
helluva lot easier getting out of the house than it was getting in, for some
reason. For one thing, I didn't give much of a damn any more if they  caught
me.  I  really didn't. I figured if they caught me, they caught me. I almost
wished they did, in  a  way.  I walked  all the way  downstairs, instead  of
taking the elevator. I went  down the back stairs. I nearly broke my neck on
about ten million garbage pails, but I got out all  right. The elevator  boy
didn't even see me. He probably still thinks I'm up at the Dicksteins'.
     24
     Mr. and Mrs. Antolini had this  very swanky  apartment over  on  Sutton
Place, with two steps that you go down to get in the living room, and  a bar
and all. I'd been there quite a few times, because after I left Elkton Hills
Mr.  Antoilni came up to our  house for dinner quite frequently to find  out
how I was getting along. He wasn't married then. Then when he got married, I
used to  play tennis with he and Mrs. Antolini quite frequently,  out at the
West Side Tennis Club, in Forest Hills, Long Island. Mrs. Antolini, belonged
there.  She was lousy  with dough. She was about sixty years older than  Mr.
Antolini, but they seemed to get along quite well. For one thing, they  were
both very  intellectual, especially  Mr.  Antolini except  that  he was more
witty than intellectual  when you  were with  him, sort of like D.  B.  Mrs.
Antolini was mostly serious. She  had asthma pretty bad.  They both read all
D. B. 's  stories--Mrs. Antolini, too--and when D. B. went to Hollywood, Mr.
Antolini phoned him up and  told him  not to go. He went anyway, though. Mr.
Antolini said that anybody that could write like D. B. had no business going
out  to Hollywood.  That's exactly what I  said, practically. I  would  have
walked  down to their house, because I didn't want  to spend any of Phoebe's
Christmas dough that I  didn't have to, but I felt funny when I got outside.
Sort of dizzy. So I took a cab. I didn't want to, but I did. I had a helluva
time  even finding a cab. Old Mr. Antolini answered the door when I rang the
bell--after the elevator boy finally let me up, the bastard. He  had  on his
bathrobe and slippers, and he had  a  highball  in one hand. He was a pretty
sophisticated guy, and  he was a  pretty heavy drinker.  "Holden, m'boy!" he
said. "My God,  he's grown another twenty inches. Fine to see you." "How are
you, Mr. Antolini? How's Mrs. Antolini?" "We're both  just dandy. Let's have
that coat." He took  my  coat off  me and hung it  up. "I  expected to see a
day-old infant in your arms. Nowhere to turn. Snowflakes in your eyelashes."
He's a very  witty  guy sometimes. He turned  around and yelled  out to  the
kitchen, "Lillian! How's  the coffee coming?"  Lillian  was Mrs.  Antolini's
first name.  "It's  all ready," she  yelled  back. "Is that  Holden?  Hello,
Holden!"  "Hello,  Mrs. Antolini!" You  were always yelling  when  you  were
there.  That's because  the both of them were  never in the same room at the
same time. It was sort of funny. "Sit down, Holden," Mr.  Antolini said. You
could tell he was a  little oiled up. The room looked like they'd just had a
party.  Glasses were all  over the place,  and dishes with peanuts in  them.
"Excuse the appearance of the place," he said. "We've been entertaining some
Buffalo friends of Mrs. Antolini's...  Some buffaloes, as a matter of fact."
I laughed, and Mrs. Antolini yelled something in to me from the kitchen, but
I  couldn't hear her. "What'd she  say?" I asked Mr. Antolini. "She said not
to look at her when she comes  in.  She  just arose from  the sack.  Have  a
cigarette. Are you smoking now?" "Thanks," I  said. I  took a cigarette from
the box  he offered me. "Just once in a while. I'm a moderate smoker." "I'll
bet  you  are," he said. He gave  me a light from  this big lighter off  the
table.  "So. You and  Pencey are no longer  one,"  he said.  He always  said
things that way. Sometimes it amused me  a  lot and sometimes it didn't.  He
sort  of did  it  a little  bit too  much.  I don't mean he wasn't  witty or
anything--he  was--but  sometimes  it  gets on your nerves  when  somebody's
always saying things like "So you and Pencey are no longer  one." D. B. does
it too much  sometimes, too. "What was the trouble?"  Mr. Antolini asked me.
"How'd  you  do  in  English? I'll  show you the door in short  order if you
flunked  English, you little ace composition  writer." "Oh, I passed English
all  right.  It  was  mostly literature, though.  I  only  wrote  about  two
compositions the  whole term," I  said.  "I flunked Oral Expression, though.
They  had this course  you had to take, Oral  Expression.  That  I flunked."
"Why?"  "Oh, I  don't  know." I  didn't feel much like going  into It. I was
still feeling sort of dizzy or something, and I had  a helluva headache  all
of a sudden. I really  did. But you could  tell he was interested, so I told
him a little bit about it. "It's this  course where each boy in class has to
get up in class and make a speech. You know. Spontaneous and all. And if the
boy digresses at  all, you're supposed to  yell 'Digression!' at him as fast
as you  can. It just about  drove me crazy. I got an F in it." "Why?" "Oh, I
don't know.  That digression business  got on my nerves.  I  don't know. The
trouble with me is, I like it when somebody digresses. It's more interesting
and all." "You don't care to have somebody stick to the  point when he tells
you something?"  "Oh,  sure! I like somebody to stick  to the point and all.
But I don't like them to  stick too much to the point. I don't know. I guess
I  don't like it when somebody  sticks to the point  all the time. The  boys
that got the best marks in Oral Expression were  the  ones that stuck to the
point  all  the  time--I admit  it. But  there  was  this  one  boy, Richard
Kinsella.  He  didn't stick  to the point too  much, and  they  were  always
yelling 'Digression!' at him. It was  terrible, because in  the first place,
he was a very  nervous guy--I mean he was a very  nervous guy--and his  lips
were always shaking whenever it was his time to make a speech, and you could
hardly hear him if you were sitting way in the back  of  the  room. When his
lips sort of quit shaking a little bit, though, I liked his speeches  better
than anybody else's. He  practically flunked the course, though, too. He got
a  D plus because they kept yelling 'Digression!'  at him all the time.  For
instance, he made this speech about this  farm his father bought in Vermont.
They kept yelling 'Digression!' at him the whole time  he was making it, and
this teacher, Mr. Vinson, gave him an F  on it because  he hadn't  told what
kind of animals and vegetables and  stuff  grew on the farm and all. What he
did was, Richard Kinsella, he'd start telling you all about that stuff--then
all of a sudden he'd start telling you about this letter his mother got from
his uncle, and how his uncle got  polio and  all when he was forty-two years
old, and how he wouldn't let anybody come to see him in the hospital because
he didn't want anybody to see him with a brace on. It didn't have much to do
with  the  farm--I admit it--but it was  nice. It's nice when somebody tells
you about their uncle. Especially  when they  start out  telling  you  about
their father's farm and  then  all of a sudden get more interested in  their
uncle. I mean it's dirty to keep yelling 'Digression!' at him when he's  all
nice  and excited. I don't  know. It's hard  to explain." I didn't feel  too
much like trying, either. For one thing, I had this terrific headache all of
a sudden. I wished to God old Mrs. Antolini would  come in with  the coffee.
That's  something that annoys hell  out of me--I mean  if somebody says  the
coffee's  all  ready and  it  isn't. "Holden... One  short,  faintly stuffy,
pedagogical  question.  Don't  you  think  there's  a  time  and  place  for
everything?  Don't you  think  if  someone starts out  to tell you about his
father's  farm, he  should stick to his guns, then get around to telling you
about  his  uncle's  brace? Or, if his uncle's brace is  such a  provocative
subject,  shouldn't  he  have  selected  it  in   the  first  place  as  his
subject--not  the farm?" I didn't feel much like thinking and answering  and
all.  I  had a headache and I felt lousy. I even had sort of a stomach-ache,
if you want to know the truth. "Yes--I don't know. I guess he should. I mean
I guess he should've picked  his uncle as a subject, instead of the farm, if
that interested  him most. But what I mean  is, lots of  time you don't know
what  interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn't
interest you most.  I mean you  can't help  it sometimes. What  I  think is,
you're  supposed to leave  somebody alone if he's at least being interesting
and he's getting all  excited about something. I like it when somebody  gets
excited about something. It's nice. You just didn't know  this  teacher, Mr.
Vinson. He could drive you crazy sometimes, him and the goddam class. I mean
he'd keep telling you to unify and simplify all  the time.  Some things  you
just can't do  that to.  I mean  you can't hardly ever  simplify  and  unify
something just because somebody  wants you to. You didn't know this guy, Mr.
Vinson. I mean he was very intelligent and all, but you could tell he didn't
have too much brains." "Coffee, gentlemen, finally," Mrs. Antolini said. She
came in carrying this tray with coffee and cakes and  stuff on  it. "Holden,
don't you even  peek at me. I'm a mess." "Hello,  Mrs.  Antolini," I said. I
started to get up and all, but Mr. Antolini got hold of my jacket and pulled
me back down. Old Mrs. Antolini's  hair was full of those iron  curler jobs,
and  she  didn't have any  lipstick  or anything on.  She  didn't  look  too
gorgeous. She looked pretty  old and all. "I'll leave  this right here. Just
dive in, you two," she said. She put  the tray down on  the cigarette table,
pushing  all these  glasses  out  of  the way. "How's  your mother, Holden?"
"She's fine,  thanks. I haven't seen her  too recently, but  the  last  I--"
"Darling, if Holden  needs anything, everything's  in the  linen closet. The
top shelf. I'm going  to bed. I'm exhausted," Mrs. Antolini said. She looked
it, too. "Can you boys make up the couch by yourselves?" "We'll take care of
everything. You run  along to bed," Mr. Antolini said. He gave Mrs. Antolini
a kiss and she said good-by to me and went  in the bedroom. They were always
kissing each other a lot in public. I had part of  a cup of coffee and about
half of some cake that was as hard as a  rock. All old Mr.  Antolini had was
another highball, though.  He makes them strong, too, you could tell. He may
get to  be an alcoholic if he doesn't watch his step. "I had lunch with your
dad a couple of weeks ago," he said  all  of a sudden. "Did you know  that?"
"No, I didn't." "You're aware, of course, that he's terribly concerned about
you." "I know it. I know he is," I  said.  "Apparently before  he phoned  me
he'd just had a  long, rather harrowing  letter from your latest headmaster,
to  the effect  that you were making absolutely no  effort  at  all. Cutting
classes.  Coming  unprepared  to  all  your  classes. In  general, being  an
all-around--"  "I  didn't cut any classes. You weren't allowed  to cut  any.
There were a couple of them I didn't attend  once in a while, like that Oral
Expression I told  you  about, but I didn't  cut any." I didn't feel at  all
like discussing it. The coffee made  my stomach feel a little  better, but I
still had this awful headache. Mr. Antolini lit another cigarette. He smoked
like a fiend. Then he said, "Frankly, I don't  know what the hell to  say to
you, Holden." "I know. I'm very  hard to talk to. I realize that." "I have a
feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. But I
don't honestly know what  kind... Are you listening to me?" "Yes." You could
tell he was trying to concentrate and all. "It may be the kind where, at the
age of thirty, you sit in some  bar hating everybody who comes in looking as
if he might have played  football in  college. Then  again, you  may pick up
just enough education to hate  people who say, 'It's a secret between he and
I. ' Or you may end up  in some business office, throwing paper clips at the
nearest stenographer. I just don't  know. But  do you know what I'm  driving
at, at all?" "Yes.  Sure," I said. I  did, too. "But you're wrong about that
hating business. I mean  about  hating football players and all. You  really
are. I don't hate too many guys. What I may do, I may hate them for a little
while, like this guy Stradlater I knew at Pencey, and this other boy, Robert
Ackley. I hated them once in  a while--I admit it--but  it doesn't  last too
long, is  what I mean.  After a while, if I didn't  see them, if they didn't
come in the room, or if I didn't see them in the dining room for a couple of
meals, I sort of  missed them. I mean I  sort of missed them." Mr.  Antolini
didn't say anything for a while. He got up and  got another hunk  of ice and
put it in his drink, then he sat down again. You could tell he was thinking.
I  kept wishing, though, that he'd continue the conversation in the morning,
instead of now,  but he was hot. People are mostly hot to  have a discussion
when you're not.  "All right. Listen to me a minute  now... I  may not  word
this as memorably as I'd like to, but I'll  write you a letter about it in a
day or two. Then you  can get it  all straight.  But listen now, anyway." He
started  concentrating again. Then he said, "This fall I think you're riding
for--it's  a special kind  of fall, a horrible  kind. The  man falling isn't
permitted  to  feel or  hear himself hit bottom.  He just  keeps falling and
falling. The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other
in their  lives, were  looking for something their own environment  couldn't
supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them
with. So they gave up looking. They gave  it up before they ever really even
got started. You follow me?" "Yes, sir." "Sure?" "Yes." He got up and poured
some more booze in his glass. Then he sat down again. He didn't say anything
for  a  long time. "I  don't want to scare you,"  he said,  "but  I can very
clearly see you dying nobly, one way or  another,  for  some highly unworthy
cause." He  gave me  a funny look. "If I  write something down for you, will
you read it carefully? And keep it?"  "Yes. Sure," I  said.  I did,  too.  I
still have the paper he gave me. He went over to this desk on the other side
of the  room, and without sitting down wrote something on a piece  of paper.
Then  he came back  and sat down with the paper in his  hand. "Oddly enough,
this wasn't written by a practicing  poet. It was written by a psychoanalyst
named Wilhelm Stekel.  Here's what he--Are you still  with me?" "Yes, sure I
am." "Here's what he said: 'The mark of the immature man is that he wants to
die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that  he wants to
live humbly for one. '" He leaned over  and handed it to me. I read it right
when he gave  it to me, and then I  thanked  him  and  all  and put it in my
pocket. It  was  nice of him  to  go to all that trouble. It really was. The
thing was, though,  I didn't  feel much  like concentrating. Boy, I  felt so
damn tired all of  a sudden. You could tell  he wasn't tired at all, though.
He was pretty oiled up, for  one thing. "I think that one of these days," he
said, "you're going  to  have  to  find out where  you want to go.  And then
you've got to start going there. But immediately. You can't afford to lose a
minute. Not you." I nodded, because he was looking  right at me and all, but
I wasn't too sure what he was talking about. I was pretty sure I knew, but I
wasn't too positive at  the time. I was  too damn tired. "And I hate to tell
you," he said, "but I think that once you have a fair idea where you want to
go, your first move  will  be to apply yourself  in  school. You'll have to.
You're a  student--whether the idea appeals to you or  not.  You're  in love
with knowledge. And I think you'll find,  once  you  get  past  all  the Mr.
Vineses and their Oral Comp--" "Mr.  Vinsons," I said. He  meant all the Mr.
Vinsons, not all  the Mr. Vineses. I shouldn't have interrupted him, though.
"All right--the Mr. Vinsons. Once you  get past all the  Mr. Vinsons, you're
going  to  start getting closer and closer--that is, if you want  to, and if
you look  for it and  wait  for it--to the kind  of information that will be
very, very dear  to your heart. Among other things,  you'll find that you're
not the first person  who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened
by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited
and  stimulated to  know. Many, many men have been just as  troubled morally
and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some  of them kept records of
their troubles. You'll learn from them--if you want to. Just as  someday, if
you have something  to offer, someone will learn something from you.  It's a
beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's
poetry."  He stopped  and  took a  big drink out  of his  highball.  Then he
started again. Boy,  he was really hot.  I was glad I didn't try to stop him
or anything.  "I'm not trying to tell you," he said, "that only educated and
scholarly men are able to contribute something valuable to  the world.  It's
not so.  But I do say that educated and scholarly men, if  they're brilliant
and  creative  to begin with--which, unfortunately, is rarely the case--tend
to leave infinitely  more valuable  records  behind them than men do who are
merely brilliant and creative. They tend to express themselves more clearly,
and they usually have  a passion for following their thoughts through to the
end. And--most important--nine times out of ten they have more humility than
the unscholarly thinker. Do you follow me at all?" "Yes, sir." He didn't say
anything again for quite a  while. I don't know if you've ever  done it, but
it's sort of hard to sit  around waiting for somebody  to say something when
they're thinking and all. It really is. I kept trying not to yawn. It wasn't
that I was bored  or anything--I wasn't--but I was  so damn sleepy all  of a
sudden. "Something  else an  academic education will do  for you.  If you go
along with it any considerable  distance, it'll begin to  give  you an  idea
what  size mind you have. What it'll fit  and, maybe, what it won't. After a
while, you'll have an idea  what kind of thoughts your particular  size mind
should be wearing. For one thing, it may save you an extraordinary amount of
time trying on  ideas that  don't suit you,  aren't  becoming to you. You'll
begin to know your true measurements and dress your mind accordingly." Then,
all of a sudden, I yawned. What a rude bastard, but I couldn't  help it! Mr.
Antolini just laughed, though.  "C'mon," he  said, and got up. "We'll fix up
the couch for you." I followed him and he went over to this closet and tried
to take down some sheets and blankets  and stuff  that was on the top shelf,
but he  couldn't do it with this highball glass in his hand.  So he drank it
and then put the glass down  on the floor and then he took the stuff down. I
helped him  bring  it over  to the couch. We both  made the bed together. He
wasn't too hot at it. He didn't tuck anything in very tight. I didn't  care,
though. I  could've slept  standing up  I  was so  tired. "How're  all  your
women?" "They're okay." I was being a  lousy conversationalist, but I didn't
feel like it. "How's Sally?" He knew old Sally Hayes. I introduced him once.
"She's all right. I had a date with her this afternoon." Boy, it seemed like
twenty  years  ago!  "We don't  have too much in common any  more." "Helluva
pretty girl.  What  about that other girl? The  one  you told  me  about, in
Maine?" "Oh--Jane Gallagher. She's all right.  I'm probably gonna give her a
buzz tomorrow." We were all done making up the couch then. "It's all yours,"
Mr. Antolini said. "I don't know what the hell you're going to do with those
legs of yours." "That's all right. I'm used to short beds,"  I said. "Thanks
a lot, sir. You and Mrs. Antolini really  saved my life  tonight." "You know
where the bathroom is. If there's anything you want, just holler. I'll be in
the kitchen for a while--will the light bother you?" "No--heck, no. Thanks a
lot." "All right.  Good night, handsome." "G'night,  sir. Thanks a  lot." He
went out  in the kitchen  and I went in the bathroom and  got undressed  and
all. I couldn't brush my teeth because I didn't have any toothbrush with me.
I didn't have any pajamas either and Mr. Antolini forgot to lend me some. So
I just went back in the living room and turned off this  little lamp next to
the couch, and then  I got  in  bed with just  my shorts on.  It was way too
short for me, the  couch,  but  I really  could've slept standing up without
batting an eyelash. I laid awake for just a couple of seconds thinking about
all that stuff Mr. Antolini'd  told me. About finding out the  size of  your
mind and  all.  He  was  really a pretty  smart guy. But I couldn't  keep my
goddam eyes open, and I fell asleep.  Then something happened. I don't  even
like to talk about it. I  woke up all of a sudden. I don't know what time it
was  or anything, but I woke  up. I  felt something on my  head,  some guy's
hand.  Boy,  it  really scared hell  out  of  me. What  it  was, it was  Mr.
Antolini's hand. What  he  was doing was, he was sitting on the floor  right
next to the couch,  in the  dark and all, and he  was sort  of petting me or
patting me on the goddam head. Boy, I'll bet I jumped about a thousand feet.
"What  the  hellya  doing?"  I  said. "Nothing!  I'm  simply  sitting  here,
admiring--" "What're  ya doing, anyway?"  I said over again.  I  didn't know
what  the hell to say--I mean I was embarrassed as hell.  "How 'bout keeping
your  voice  down?  I'm  simply  sitting here--" "I  have to  go, anyway," I
said--boy, was  I nervous! I started putting on my damn pants in the dark. I
could  hardly get  them on I was so damn nervous. I know more damn perverts,
at schools  and  all,  than  anybody you ever met, and  they're always being
perverty when I'm around. "You have to go where?"  Mr. Antolini said. He was
trying to  act  very goddam  casual and cool and all, but he wasn't any  too
goddam cool. Take  my word. "I left my bags and all at the station.  I think
maybe I'd  better  go down  and  get  them.  I have  all my  stuff in them."
"They'll be there in the  morning. Now,  go back  to bed. I'm  going  to bed
myself. What's the matter with you?" "Nothing's the  matter,  it's just that
all my money and stuff's in one of my bags.  I'll  be right back. I'll get a
cab  and be right  back," I said. Boy, I was falling all over  myself in the
dark. "The thing  is, it isn't mine, the  money. It's my  mother's, and I--"
"Don't be ridiculous, Holden. Get back in that bed. I'm going to bed myself.
The money  will be there safe and sound in  the morn--" "No, no  kidding.  I
gotta get going. I really do." I was damn near  all dressed  already, except
that I couldn't find my tie. I couldn't remember where I'd put my tie. I put
on my jacket and all without it. Old Mr. Antolini was sitting now in the big
chair a little  ways away from me, watching me. It  was  dark and  all and I
couldn't see him  so hot, but I knew he was  watching me,  all right. He was
still boozing, too.  I  could  see  his  trusty highball  glass in his hand.
"You're a very, very strange boy."  "I know it," I  said. I didn't even look
around much  for  my  tie. So I went  without  it.  "Good-by, sir,"  I said,
"Thanks a  lot.  No kidding." He kept walking right behind me when I went to
the front door,  and when I  rang  the elevator bell  he  stayed in the damn
doorway. All he said was that business about my being a  "very, very strange
boy" again. Strange, my ass. Then he waited in the doorway  and all till the
goddam elevator came.  I  never waited so long for  an elevator in my  whole
goddam life. I swear. I  didn't know what the hell to talk about while I was
waiting for  the elevator, and he kept standing there, so I said, "I'm gonna
start  reading  some good  books.  I  really  am." I  mean  you had  to  say
something. It was  very embarrassing. "You grab your bags and scoot right on
back here  again.  I'll  leave the door unlatched." "Thanks a lot,"  I said.
"G'by!" The  elevator was finally there. I got in and went down.  Boy, I was
shaking like  a madman. I was  sweating, too.  When something perverty  like
that happens, I start sweating like a bastard. That kind of stuff's happened
to me about twenty times since I was a kid. I can't stand it.
     25
     When I got outside, it was just getting light out. It was pretty  cold,
too,  but it felt good because  I was sweating so much. I didn't  know where
the hell to go. I didn't want to go to another hotel and spend  all Phoebe's
dough. So finally all  I  did was I walked  over  to  Lexington and took the
subway down to Grand Central. My bags were  there and all, and I figured I'd
sleep in that crazy waiting room where all the benches are. So that's what I
did. It wasn't too bad for a  while because there weren't many people around
and I could stick my  feet up. But I don't feel  much like discussing it. It
wasn't  too nice. Don't ever try  it.  I  mean it. It'll depress you. I only
slept till around nine  o'clock  because a million  people started coming in
the waiting room  and I had to take my feet down. I can't  sleep so hot if I
have to  keep my feet on  the floor. So I sat up. I still had that headache.
It was even worse. And I think I  was more depressed than  I ever  was in my
whole life. I didn't want to, but I started thinking about  old Mr. Antolini
and I wondered what he'd tell Mrs.  Antolini  when  she saw  I  hadn't slept
there or anything.  That part  didn't worry  me too much, though,  because I
knew Mr. Antolini was very smart and that he could make up something to tell
her. He could tell her I'd gone home or something. That part didn't worry me
much. But what did worry me was the part about how I'd woke up and found him
patting  me on the head and all. I mean I wondered if just maybe I was wrong
about thinking be was making a flitty pass at  ne.  I  wondered if maybe  he
just liked to  pat guys on the head when they're asleep. I  mean how can you
tell about that stuff for sure? You can't. I even started wondering if maybe
I should've  got  my  bags  and gone back to his  house, the way  I'd said I
would.  I mean I started thinking that even if he  was a flit he certainly'd
been very nice to me. I thought how he hadn't minded  it when I'd called him
up so late, and  how he'd  told me to come right over if I felt like it. And
how he went to all that trouble giving me that advice  about finding out the
size of your mind and all, and how he was the only guy that'd even gone near
that boy James Castle I told you about when he was dead. I thought about all
that stuff. And the more I thought  about  it,  the more depressed I  got. I
mean I started thinking maybe I should've gone back to  his house.  Maybe he
was only  patting my head just for the hell  of it. The more I thought about
it, though, the more depressed and screwed up about  it I got. What made  it
even worse, my eyes  were sore as hell.  They  felt sore  and burny from not
getting too  much sleep. Besides  that,  I was getting sort of a cold, and I
didn't  even have a  goddam handkerchief with me. I had some in my suitcase,
but I  didn't  feel  like taking it out of that strong box and opening it up
right in public and all. There was this magazine that somebody'd left on the
bench next to  me, so I  started  reading  it,  thinking  it'd  make me stop
thinking about Mr. Antolini and a million other things for at least a little
while. But this damn article I started reading made me feel almost worse. It
was all about hormones. It described how you should look, your face and eyes
and all, if your hormones were in good shape, and I didn't look that way  at
all. I looked exactly like  the guy in the article with lousy hormones. So I
started  getting worried  about my hormones. Then I read  this other article
about how you can tell if  you have cancer  or not.  It said if you had  any
sores in your mouth that didn't heal  pretty quickly, it was a sign that you
probably had cancer. I'd had this sore on the inside of my lip for about two
weeks.  So figured  I was  getting cancer.  That  magazine  was some  little
cheerer  upper. I  finally  quit reading it and  went outside for a walk.  I
figured  I'd  be  dead in a couple of months because I had  cancer. I really
did. I  was  even positive I would be. It certainly didn't  make me feel too
gorgeous. It'sort  of looked like it was going to rain, but I went  for this
walk  anyway. For  one thing, I figured  I ought to get  some  breakfast.  I
wasn't  at  all  hungry, but I figured I  ought to at least eat something. I
mean at least  get  something with some vitamins in it. So I started walking
way over east, where the pretty cheap restaurants are, because I didn't want
to spend a lot of dough. While  I was walking, I passed these two guys  that
were  unloading this big Christmas tree  off a truck. One guy kept saying to
the other guy, "Hold the  sonuvabitch  up! Hold  it  up, for Chrissake!"  It
certainly  was a gorgeous way to talk about a Christmas tree. It was sort of
funny, though, in an awful way, and I started to sort of laugh. It was about
the worst thing I  could've  done, because  the minute I started  to laugh I
thought I was  going  to vomit. I really did. I even started to, but it went
away. I don't know  why.  I mean I hadn't  eaten anything unsanitary or like
that and usually I have quite a strong stomach. Anyway, I got over it, and I
figured I'd feel better if I  had something  to eat. So I went  in this very
cheap-looking restaurant and had doughnuts and coffee.  Only,  I didn't  eat
the  doughnuts. I couldn't swallow them  too well. The thing is, if  you get
very depressed about something, it's hard as hell to swallow. The waiter was
very nice, though.  He took  them back without charging me. I just drank the
coffee. Then  I left and started  walking over  toward Fifth  Avenue. It was
Monday and all, and pretty near Christmas, and all the  stores were open. So
it  wasn't too  bad walking  on Fifth Avenue. It was fairly  Christmasy. All
those scraggy-looking Santa Clauses were standing  on corners ringing  those
bells, and the Salvation Army  girls,  the ones that don't wear any lipstick
or anything, were tinging bells too. I sort of kept looking around for those
two nuns I'd met at breakfast the  day before, but I didn't see them. I knew
I  wouldn't,  because  they'd  told  me  they'd  come  to  New  York  to  be
schoolteachers, but I  kept  looking for them anyway. Anyway,  it was pretty
Christmasy all of a  sudden. A million little kids were downtown  with their
mothers, getting on and off  buses and coming in and out of stores. I wished
old Phoebe was around. She's not little enough  any more to go stark staring
mad in  the toy department, but she enjoys horsing around and looking at the
people. The Christmas before  last I took her downtown shopping with me.  We
had a helluva time.  I think it was in Bloomingdale's.  We went in  the shoe
department and we pretended she--old Phoebe-- wanted  to get a pair of those
very high storm shoes, the kind that have about a million holes  to lace up.
We had the  poor salesman guy going crazy. Old Phoebe tried  on about twenty
pairs,  and each  time the poor guy had to lace one shoe  all the way up. It
was a dirty  trick,  but  it killed old Phoebe. We finally  bought a pair of
moccasins and charged them. The  salesman was very nice about it. I think he
knew  we were  horsing  around, because  old Phoebe  always starts giggling.
Anyway, I kept  walking and  walking up Fifth Avenue, without any  tie on or
anything. Then  all  of a sudden, something  very spooky started  happening.
Every time I came to the  end  of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I
had this feeling  that I'd  never get to the  other  side  of the street.  I
thought I'd just go  down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me  again. Boy,
did  it scare  me. You can't imagine. I started sweating like  a bastard--my
whole  shirt and underwear and everything.  Then I  started doing  something
else.  Every time  I'd  get to the end of  a block  I'd make  believe  I was
talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, "Allie, don't let me disappear.
Allie, don't  let  me  disappear.  Allie,  don't let me  disappear.  Please,
Allie."  And  then  when I'd  reach  the  other side  of  the street without
disappearing, I'd thank him. Then it would start all over again as soon as I
got to the next corner. But I kept going and all. I was  sort  of  afraid to
stop, I think--I don't remember, to tell you the truth. I know I didn't stop
till I was way up in the Sixties, past the zoo  and  all. Then I sat down on
this  bench. I could hardly get my  breath, and I  was still sweating like a
bastard. I  sat there, I guess, for  about an hour. Finally,  what I decided
I'd do,  I decided I'd go away.  I decided I'd never  go  home again and I'd
never go away to another school again. I decided I'd just see old Phoebe and
sort of say good-by to her and  all, and give her back  her Christmas dough,
and then I'd start hitchhiking my  way out West. What I'd do, I figured, I'd
go down to the Holland Tunnel and bum  a ride, and then I'd bum another one,
and another  one, and another one, and in a  few days I'd  be  somewhere out
West where it was  very pretty and sunny and where nobody'd know me  and I'd
get a job. I figured I  could get  a job  at  a  filling station  somewhere,
putting gas and oil in people's cars. I didn't care what kind of job it was,
though.  Just so people didn't  know me and I didn't know anybody. I thought
what  I'd do was, I'd pretend I  was  one  of  those deaf-mutes. That  way I
wouldn't have to have any goddam stupid useless  conversations with anybody.
If  anybody wanted to tell me something, they'd have to write it on  a piece
of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell doing  that after
a while, and then  I'd be through with having conversations  for the rest of
my life.  Everybody'd think I was just  a poor  deaf-mute bastard and they'd
leave  me alone. They'd let me put gas  and  oil in their stupid  cars,  and
they'd pay  me  a salary  and all  for it,  and I'd build me a  little cabin
somewhere with the dough  I made and live there for the rest of my life. I'd
build it right near the woods, but not right in them, because I'd want it to
be sunny as hell all the time. I'd cook all my own food, and later on, if  I
wanted to get married or  something,  I'd meet this beautiful  girl that was
also a  deaf-mute and we'd get married. She'd come and live in my cabin with
me, and if she wanted  to say  anything to me, she'd have to write  it  on a
goddam  piece of paper, like  everybody else. If  we had any children,  we'd
hide them somewhere. We could buy them a lot of books  and teach them how to
read  and  write by  ourselves. I got excited as hell  thinking about  it. I
really  did. I knew  the part about pretending I  was a deaf-mute was crazy,
but I  liked thinking about it anyway.  But I really decided  to go out West
and all. All I wanted to do first was say good-by to old Phoebe. So all of a
sudden, I ran like a madman across the  street--I damn near got killed doing
it, if  you want  to know the truth--and went  in this stationery store  and
bought a pad and pencil. I figured I'd write her a note telling her where to
meet me so I could say good-by to her and give her back her Christmas dough,
and  then  I'd take the  note  up  to  her  school  and get  somebody in the
principal's office to  give it to her. But  I just put the pad and pencil in
my pocket and started walking fast  as hell  up  to her  school--I  was  too
excited to  write the  note  right in the stationery store.  I  walked  fast
because I wanted her to get the note before  she went home for lunch, and  I
didn't  have  any too  much time. I knew  where her  school  was, naturally,
because  I went  there  myself when I was a kid.  When I got there,  it felt
funny. I wasn't sure I'd remember what it was like inside, but I did. It was
exactly the same  as  it was when I went  there. They had that same big yard
inside, that was always sort of  dark, with  those cages  around  the  light
bulbs so  they  wouldn't break if they got hit  with a ball.  They had those
same white  circles  painted all over  the  floor, for  games and stuff. And
those same old  basketball  rings  without any nets--just the backboards and
the  rings. Nobody  was  around  at all,  probably because  it wasn't recess
period, and it wasn't lunchtime yet. All I saw was one little kid, a colored
kid,  on his way to the bathroom. He had one of those wooden passes sticking
out of  his  hip pocket,  the  same  way we  used  to have,  to show  he had
permission and all  to go to the bathroom. I was still  sweating, but not so
bad any more. I went  over to the stairs and  sat down on the first step and
took out the pad and pencil  I'd bought.  The stairs had the same smell they
used to have when I went there. Like  somebody'd just taken a leak on  them.
School  stairs  always smell like that. Anyway,  I  sat there and wrote this
note:



     I can't  wait around till Wednesday  any more so  I will probably hitch
hike out west this afternoon. Meet  me at the Museum of art near the door at
quarter past 12 if you can and I will give you  your Christmas dough back. I
didn't spend much.

     Love, HOLDEN

     Her school was practically right near  the  museum, and she had to pass
it on her way home for lunch anyway, so I knew she  could meet me all right.
Then I started walking up  the stairs  to  the principal's office so I could
give  the note to somebody that  would bring it to her  in her classroom.  I
folded it about ten times so nobody'd open it. You can't trust anybody  in a
goddam  school.  But  I knew they'd give it  to her if I was her brother and
all. While I was walking up the stairs, though, all of a sudden I  thought I
was going to puke again. Only, I didn't. I sat down for a second, and then I
felt better. But  while I was sitting down, I  saw  something  that drove me
crazy. Somebody'd written  "Fuck you" on  the wall.  It  drove me  damn near
crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids  would see it, and
how they'd wonder what  the hell  it  meant, and then finally some dirty kid
would tell them--all cockeyed, naturally--what it  meant, and how they'd all
think about it and maybe even  worry  about it for a couple of days. I  kept
wanting to  kill  whoever'd written it. I figured  it was some perverty  bum
that'd sneaked in the school late at night to  take  a leak or something and
then  wrote it on the  wall. I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and
how I'd smash his head on  the stone steps till he  was good and goddam dead
and bloody. But I knew, too, I wouldn't have the guts to do it. I knew that.
That made me even more depressed. I  hardly  even had the guts to rub it off
the  wall with my hand,  if  you want to know  the truth. I  was afraid some
teacher would catch me rubbing it off and  would think I'd written it. But I
rubbed it out anyway,  finally. Then I went on up to the principal's office.
The principal didn't  seem to be around, but some old lady around  a hundred
years old was sitting at a typewriter. I  told her I was Phoebe  Caulfield's
brother, in 4B-1, and I  asked her to please give Phoebe the note. I said it
was very important because my mother was sick and  wouldn't have lunch ready
for Phoebe and that she'd have to meet me and have lunch in a drugstore. She
was very nice about  it,  the old lady. She took the note off me and  called
some other lady, from the next office, and the other lady went to give it to
Phoebe. Then the old lady that was around a hundred years old and I shot the
breeze for  a while, She was pretty nice,  and I told her how I'd gone there
to  school, too, and my brothers. She  asked me where I went to  school now,
and I told her Pencey, and she said  Pencey  was a very good school. Even if
I'd  wanted to,  I wouldn't  have  had  the strength to  straighten her out.
Besides, if she thought Pencey was a very good school, let her think it. You
hate  to tell new stuff  to somebody around a  hundred years old. They don't
like to hear it. Then, after a while, I left. It was funny. She yelled "Good
luck!" at  me  the same way old Spencer  did when I left  Pencey. God, how I
hate it when somebody yells  "Good luck!" at me  when I'm leaving somewhere.
It's  depressing. I  went down by  a different staircase, and I saw  another
"Fuck you"  on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but  this
one was scratched  on, with a knife or something. It wouldn't come off. It's
hopeless, anyway. If you had  a million years to do  it in, you couldn't rub
out  even half the  "Fuck you" signs in the world. It's impossible. I looked
at the clock in the recess yard, and it was only twenty  to twelve, so I had
quite a lot of time to kill before  I met old Phoebe. But I just walked over
to the museum anyway. There wasn't  anyplace  else  to go. I thought maybe I
might stop  in a  phone booth and give  old Jane  Gallagher  a buzz before I
started bumming  my way  west,  but  I wasn't in the mood. For one thing,  I
wasn't even sure  she was home for vacation yet.  So I just went over to the
museum,  and hung  around.  While I  was waiting  around  for Phoebe  in the
museum, right inside the doors and all,  these two little kids came up to me
and asked me if  I knew where the mummies were. The one little kid,  the one
that asked me, had his pants open. I told him about it. So  he buttoned them
up  right where he was  standing talking  to me--he didn't even bother to go
behind a post  or anything.  He killed  me.  I would've laughed,  but I  was
afraid  I'd  feel like vomiting again, so I  didn't. "Where're the  mummies,
fella?" the kid said again. "Ya know?"  I horsed around with the two of them
a little bit. "The mummies? What're they?" I asked the  one kid.  "You know.
The mummies--them dead  guys. That get buried in them toons and all." Toons.
That  killed me. He meant tombs. "How come you two guys aren't in school?" I
said.  "No school  t'day," the  kid that  did all  the  talking said. He was
lying, sure as  I'm alive, the little bastard. I didn't have anything to do,
though, till old Phoebe showed up, so I helped them find the place where the
mummies were. Boy, I used to know exactly where they were, but I hadn't been
in that museum in  years. "You  two guys so interested  in mummies?" I said.
"Yeah."  "Can't your friend talk?"  I said.  "He ain't  my friend.  He's  my
brudda." "Can't he talk?" I looked at the one that wasn't doing any talking.
"Can't  you talk at all?" I asked him. "Yeah," he said. "I don't  feel  like
it." Finally we found the place where the mummies were, and we went in. "You
know  how the Egyptians  buried their  dead?"  I  asked  the one kid. "Naa."
"Well,  you  should.  It's very interesting.  They wrapped their faces up in
these cloths  that  were treated  with  some  secret chemical. That way they
could  be  buried in their  tombs  for thousands  of  years and their  faces
wouldn't rot or anything. Nobody  knows how to do it except  the  Egyptians.
Even modern  science." To get to where the mummies were, you had to go  down
this  very narrow  sort of  hall with stones  on the  side that they'd taken
right  out  of this  Pharaoh's  tomb and all. It was pretty spooky,  and you
could tell the two hot-shots I was with  weren't enjoying it too  much. They
stuck  close as hell to me, and the  one that didn't talk at all practically
was holding onto my sleeve. "Let's go," he said to his brother. "I  seen 'em
awreddy. C'mon, hey." He turned around and beat it. "He's got a yella streak
a mile wide," the other one said. "So long!"  He beat it too. I was the only
one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It  was so nice and
peaceful. Then,  all of a sudden, you'd never guess what I  saw on the wall.
Another "Fuck you." It was  written  with  a  red crayon or something, right
under the  glass  part of the  wall, under  the  stones.  That's  the  whole
trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there
isn't  any. You  may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not
looking, somebody'll sneak  up and  write "Fuck you"  right under your nose.
Try it sometime. I think, even, if I  ever  die,  and  they stick  me  in  a
cemetery,  and I have  a  tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on
it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under
that it'll say "Fuck  you." I'm positive,  in fact. After I came  out of the
place where the mummies  were, I had to  go to the  bathroom. I sort of  had
diarrhea, if you want to know the truth. I didn't mind the diarrhea part too
much, but  something  else happened. When I was coming out of the can, right
before  I got to the door, I sort of passed out. I was lucky, though. I mean
I could've killed  myself when  I  hit  the floor, but all I did was sort of
land  on my side. it was a funny thing, though. I felt better after I passed
out. I really did. My arm sort of hurt, from where I fell, but I didn't feel
so damn  dizzy any more. It  was about ten after twelve or so then, and so I
went back  and stood by the door and waited for old Phoebe. I thought how it
might be  the last time I'd ever see her again. Any of my relatives, I mean.
I figured I'd probably see them again, but  not for years. I might come home
when  I was about  thirty-five.  I figured, in  case somebody  got  sick and
wanted to see  me  before they died, but that  would be the only  reason I'd
leave my cabin and come back. I even  started picturing how it would be when
I came back. I knew my mother'd get nervous as hell and start to cry and beg
me  to  stay home and not go back to  my cabin, but  I'd  go anyway. I'd  be
casual  as hell. I'd make her calm down, and then I'd go over  to  the other
side of  the  living  room  and take  out this cigarette  case and  light  a
cigarette, cool as  all hell. I'd ask them all to visit me sometime if  they
wanted to,  but  I  wouldn't insist or anything. What  I'd do,  I'd  let old
Phoebe come out and visit me in the summertime and on Christmas vacation and
Easter vacation. And I'd let D.  B. come out and visit me for  a while if he
wanted a nice, quiet place for his writing, but he couldn't write any movies
in my cabin, only stories and books. I'd have this rule that nobody could do
anything phony when they visited me. If  anybody tried to do anything phony,
they  couldn't stay.  All of a sudden I looked at the clock in the checkroom
and it was twenty-five of one. I began to  get scared  that  maybe that  old
lady  in  the  school had told that  other  lady not to give old  Phoebe  my
message.  I began  to get  scared  that maybe she'd told her  to burn  it or
something. It really scared  hell  out of me.  I really  wanted to  see  old
Phoebe  before  I hit the road. I mean I had her  Christmas dough  and  all.
Finally, I saw her. I saw her through the glass part of the door. The reason
I saw her, she had my crazy hunting hat on--you could see that hat about ten
miles away. I went out the doors and started down these stone stairs to meet
her. The thing  I couldn't  understand, she had this big suitcase with  her.
She  was just coming across Fifth Avenue, and  she was  dragging this goddam
big suitcase with her. She could hardly drag it. When I got up closer, I saw
it  was my  old  suitcase,  the one I  used to use when I was  at Whooton. I
couldn't figure out what the hell she was doing with it. "Hi," she said when
she got up close.  She was all  out of breath from  that  crazy suitcase. "I
thought maybe you weren't coming," I said. "What the  hell's in that  bag? I
don't need anything.  I'm just going the  way  I am. I'm not even taking the
bags I  got  at the  station.  What  the hellya got  in there?" She  put the
suitcase down. "My clothes," she  said.  "I'm going with you. Can  I? Okay?"
"What?" I said. I almost fell over when she said that. I swear to God I did.
I  got sort  of  dizzy  and  I thought I was going to pass out  or something
again. "I took  them down the back elevator  so Charlene wouldn't see me. It
isn't heavy. All I  have  in it  is two  dresses  and my  moccasins  and  my
underwear and socks and  some other things. Feel it. It isn't heavy. Feel it
once...  Can't  I go  with you? Holden?  Can't I? Please." "No.  Shut up." I
thought I was  going  to pass out cold. I mean  I didn't mean to tell her to
shut up and all, but I thought I was  going to pass out again. "Why can't I?
Please, Holden! I won't do anything-- I'll  just go with you, that's  all! I
won't even take  my clothes with me if you don't want me to--I'll  just take
my--" "You  can't take anything.  Because you're not going. I'm going alone.
So  shut up."  "Please,  Holden.  Please  let  me go.  I'll be  very,  very,
very--You won't even--" "You're not going. Now, shut  up! Gimme that bag," I
said. I took the bag off her.  I was almost  all set to hit her, I thought I
was going to smack her for  a second. I really  did. She started to  cry. "I
thought  you were supposed  to be in a play at school  and all I thought you
were supposed to be Benedict Arnold in that play and all," I said. I said it
very nasty. "Whuddaya want to do? Not be in  the play, for God's sake?" That
made her cry even  harder. I was glad. All of a sudden  I wanted her  to cry
till her eyes practically  dropped  out. I almost hated her. I think I hated
her most because she wouldn't be in that play any more if she went away with
me. "Come on," I said. I started up the steps to the museum again. I figured
what  I'd  do  was,  I'd  check  the  crazy  suitcase she'd  brought  in the
checkroom, andy then she could get it again at  three o'clock, after school.
I knew she couldn't take it back to school with her. "Come on, now," I said.
She  didn't go up the steps with me,  though. She  wouldn't come with me.  I
went up anyway, though, and brought the bag in the checkroom and checked it,
and then I came down  again.  She was still standing there  on the sidewalk,
but she  turned her back on me when I came up  to her. She can do that.  She
can  turn  her  back on you  when she feels  like it.  "I'm  not  going away
anywhere. I changed my mind. So stop crying, and shut up," I said. The funny
part was, she wasn't even crying when I said that. I said it anyway, though,
"C'mon, now.  I'll walk you back to school. C'mon, now. You'll be late." She
wouldn't answer me or anything. I sort of tried to get hold of her old hand,
but she  wouldn't let  me.  She kept turning around  on me. "Didja have your
lunch? Ya had your lunch yet?" I asked her. She wouldn't answer me.  All she
did  was,  she  took  off  my  red  hunting hat--the  one  I  gave  her--and
practically chucked  it  right in  my  face. Then she turned her back on  me
again. It nearly killed me, but  I didn't say anything. I just  picked it up
and stuck  it in  my  coat pocket.  "Come  on,  hey.  I'll walk you back  to
school," I said. "I'm not going back to school."  I didn't know  what to say
when she said that. I just stood there for a couple of minutes. "You have to
go back  to school. You want to be in that  play, don't  you? You want to be
Benedict Arnold, don't  you?" "No."  "Sure you do.  Certainly you do. C'mon,
now, let's go," I said. "In the first place, I'm  not going away anywhere, I
told you. I'm going home. I'm going  home as soon  as you go back to school.
First I'm gonna  go down  to the station and get my bags, and then I'm gonna
go straight--" "I  said I'm not going back to school.  You  can do what  you
want to do, but I'm not going back to chool," she said. "So shut up." It was
the first time she ever  told  me to shut up. It  sounded  terrible. God, it
sounded terrible. It sounded worse than swearing. She still wouldn't look at
me  either,  and  every  time I sort of  put  my  hand on  her  shoulder  or
something,  she wouldn't let me.  "Listen, do you  want to go for a walk?" I
asked her. "Do you want to take a walk down to the zoo?  If I let you not go
back  to  school this afternoon and go for walk, will you cut out this crazy
stuff?" She wouldn't answer  me, so I said it over again. "If I let you skip
school this  afternoon and go for  a little walk, will you cut out the crazy
stuff? Will you go back to school  tomorrow like a good girl?" "I may and  I
may not," she said. Then she ran  right the hell across  the street, without
even  looking  to see  if any cars were coming.  She's a madman sometimes. I
didn't follow her,  though. I knew she'd  follow me,  so  I started  walking
downtown  toward  the zoo, on the park side  of the  street, and she started
walking downtown on the  other goddam side of the  street, She wouldn't look
over at me at all, but I could tell she was probably watching me  out of the
corner of her  crazy eye to see  where I was going and  all. Anyway, we kept
walking that way all the way to the zoo. The only thing that bothered me was
when a double-decker  bus came along because then I couldn't see across  the
street and  I couldn't see where  the hell  she was. But when we got  to the
zoo, I yelled over to her,  "Phoebe! I'm going in the zoo! C'mon, now!"  She
wouldn't look  at me, but I could tell she heard me, and when I started down
the steps to the zoo I turned around and saw she was crossing the street and
following  me and  all. There weren't too many people in  the zoo because it
was sort of a lousy day, but there were a few around the sea lions' swimming
pool and all. I started to go by but old Phoebe stopped and made out she was
watching  the sea lions getting fed--a  guy was throwing  fish at them--so I
went back. I  figured it was  a good chance to catch up with her and all.  I
went up  and  sort  of stood  behind her and  sort  of  put my  hands on her
shoulders, but she bent her knees and slid out from me--she can certainly be
very snotty when she  wants to. She  kept standing there while the sea lions
were getting fed and I stood right behind her. I didn't put  my hands on her
shoulders again or  anything because if I had she really would've beat it on
me. Kids are  funny. You have to watch what  you're doing. She wouldn't walk
right next to me when  we left  the  sea lions, but  she didn't walk too far
away. She sort of  walked  on one side of the sidewalk  and I walked on  the
other side. It wasn't too gorgeous, but it was  better than having her  walk
about a mile away from me, like before. We went up and watched the bears, on
that little hill, for a  while, but  there wasn't much to watch. Only one of
the bears was out, the polar bear. The other one, the brown one,  was in his
goddam cave and wouldn't come out. All you could see was his rear end. There
was a  little kid standing next to me, with a cowboy hat on practically over
his  ears, and he kept telling his  father, "Make him come out,  Daddy. Make
him come out." I looked at old Phoebe, but she wouldn't laugh. You know kids
when they're sore at  you. They won't laugh or anything. After  we  left the
bears, we left the zoo and crossed over this little street  in the park, and
then  we went through one of  those little tunnels that  always  smell  from
somebody's taking a leak. It was  on the  way to the  carrousel.  Old Phoebe
still wouldn't talk to me  or anything, but she was sort  of walking next to
me now. I took a hold of the belt at the back of her coat, just for the hell
of it, but she wouldn't let me. She said,  "Keep your hands  to yourself, if
you don't mind." She was still  sore  at me.  But  not  as  sore as  she was
before. Anyway, we kept getting  closer and  closer to the carrousel and you
could start to hear that nutty  music it always plays. It  was playing  "Oh,
Marie!"  It played that same  song about fifty years ago when I was a little
kid.  That's  one  nice  thing about carrousels,  they always play the  same
songs.  "I thought  the carrousel was closed in the  wintertime," old Phoebe
said.  It was  the first  time she  practically said  anything. She probably
forgot  she was  supposed to  be  sore  at me. "Maybe  because  it's  around
Christmas," I said. She didn't say anything  when  I said that. She probably
remembered she was supposed to be sore at  me. "Do you want to go for a ride
on it?" I said. I knew she probably did. When she was a tiny little kid, and
Allie and D. B. and I used to go to the park with her, she was mad about the
carrousel.  You couldn't get  her  off the goddam thing. "I'm  too big." she
said. I thought she wasn't going to answer me, but she did. "No, you're not.
Go on. I'll wait for  ya. Go on," I  said. We were right there  then.  There
were a few kids  riding  on it, mostly very little kids,  and  a few parents
were waiting around outside, sitting on the benches and all. What I did was,
I went up to the window where they sell the tickets and bought old Phoebe  a
ticket. Then I gave it to her. She was standing right  next to me. "Here," I
said. "Wait  a second--take the rest of your dough, too."  I started  giving
her the rest of the dough she'd lent  me. "You keep it. Keep it for me," she
said. Then  she  said  right  afterward--"Please." That's  depressing,  when
somebody says  "please"  to  you.  I  mean if it's Phoebe or  somebody. That
depressed the hell out of me. But I put the dough back in my pocket. "Aren't
you gonna ride, too?" she asked me. She was looking at me sort of funny. You
could tell she wasn't  too sore at me any more. "Maybe I will the next time.
I'll watch ya," I said. "Got  your ticket?" "Yes."  "Go ahead, then--I'll be
on  this bench right over here. I'll watch ya." I  went over and sat down on
this bench, and she went and got on the carrousel. She walked all around it.
I mean she walked once all the way around it. Then she sat down on this big,
brown, beat-up-looking old horse. Then the carrousel started, and I  watched
her go around and  around. There were  only about five or six  other kids on
the ride, and the  song the  carrousel  was playing was "Smoke Gets  in Your
Eyes." It was playing  it very jazzy and funny. All the kids kept trying  to
grab  for the gold  ring, and so  was old Phoebe,  and I  was sort of afraid
she'd fall off the  goddam  horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything.
The thing with kids is, if they want to grab the  gold ring, you have to let
them do it, and not  say  anything. If they fall off they fall off, but it's
bad if  you say  anything  to them. When the ride  was over she got  off her
horse and came over  to me. "You ride once, too,  this time," she said. "No,
I'll just watch ya. I think  I'll just watch," I said. I gave her some  more
of her dough. "Here. Get some more tickets." She took the dough off me. "I'm
not mad  at you any  more," she said.  "I know.  Hurry up--the thing's gonna
start again." Then all of a sudden she gave  me  a kiss. Then she  held  her
hand out,  and said,  "It's raining. It's starting to rain." "I know."  Then
what she did--it damn near killed me--she reached in my coat pocket and took
out my red hunting hat and  put it  on my head. "Don't you want it?" I said.
"You can wear it a while." "Okay. Hurry  up, though,  now. You're gonna miss
your  ride.  You won't  get  your  own horse or anything."  She kept hanging
around, though. "Did you mean it what you said? You really aren't going away
anywhere?  Are you really  going home afterwards?" she asked  me.  "Yeah," I
said.  I meant  it,  too.  I wasn't  lying  to  her.  I really  did go  home
afterwards.  "Hurry up, now," I  said. "The thing's  starting." She ran  and
bought her ticket  and got back on  the goddam carrousel just in  time. Then
she walked all the way around it till she  got  her own horse back. Then she
got on  it. She waved to me  and I waved back. Boy, it began to rain like  a
bastard.  In  buckets,  I  swear to God.  All  the parents  and mothers  and
everybody went over and stood right under the roof of the carrousel, so they
wouldn't get soaked to the skin or anything, but I stuck around on the bench
for quite a  while. I got  pretty  soaking  wet, especially  my  neck and my
pants. My hunting hat really gave  me  quite a lot  of protection, in a way;
but I got soaked anyway. I didn't care, though.  I felt so damn happy all of
sudden,  the way  old Phoebe  kept going around and around.  I was damn near
bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth.  I  don't know
why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around
and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could've been there.
     26
     That's all  I'm going to tell about.  I could probably tell you  what I
did after I  went home,  and how I got sick  and all,  and  what  school I'm
supposed to go to  next fall, after I get out of here, but I don't feel like
it. I really don't. That stuff doesn't interest me too much right now. A lot
of  people, especially  this  one psychoanalyst  guy  they  have here, keeps
asking me if I'm going apply myself when I go back to school next September.
It's  such a stupid  question,  in  my opinion.  I mean how do you know what
you're  going to do till you  do it? The answer is, you don't. I think I am,
but how do I know? I swear it's a stupid question. D. B. isn't as bad as the
rest of them, but he keeps asking me a lot of  questions, too. He drove over
last  Saturday  with this  English  babe  that's  in this  new picture  he's
writing. She was  pretty  affected, but  very good-looking. Anyway, one time
when she went to the ladies'  room way the hell down in the other wing D. B.
asked me  what  I  thought about all this  stuff I just finished telling you
about. I didn't know what the hell to say.  If you want to know the truth, I
don't  know what I think about it. I'm sorry I told so many people about it.
About  all I  know  is, I sort of miss everybody  I  told  about.  Even  old
Stradlater  and  Ackley, for instance.  I  think  I even  miss  that  goddam
Maurice. It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do,  you start
missing everybody.

     Библиотека "Артефакт" -- http://andrey.tsx.org/

Популярность: 49, Last-modified: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 11:43:16 GMT