Tuesday, 21 October 2008

21 October 2008

table picking at his food and throwing the bones to the cats. He had seven cats. “I love cats. I especially like the ones that squeal when I hold ’em over the bath tub.” He insisted on demonstrating but someone was in the bathroom. “Well,” he said, “we can’t do that now. Say, I have been having a fight with the neighbors next door.” He told us about the neighbors; they were a vast crew with sassy children who threw stones over the rickety fence at Julie and Willie and sometimes at Bill. He told them to cut it out; the old man rushed out and yelled something in Portuguese. Bill went in the house and came back with his shotgun. We scoured the yard for things to do. There was a tremendous fence Bill had been working on to separate him from the obnoxious neighbors; it would never be finished, the task was too much. He rocked it back and forth to show us how solid it was. Suddenly he grew tired and quiet and went in the house and disappeared in the bathroom for his morning fix, or mid-morning, pre-lunch. He came out glassy-eyed and calm, and sat down under his burning lamp. The sunlight poked feebly behind the drawn shade. “Say, why don’t you fellows try my accumulator in the front room. Put some juice in your bones. I always rush up and take off ninety miles an hour for the nearest whore house, hor hor hor!” This was his “laugh” laugh---when he wasn’t really laughing. “Say Jack after lunch let’s you and me go play the horses over to the bookie joint in Graetna.” He was magnificent. He took a nap after lunch in his chair, the air gun on his lap, and little Willie curled around his neck sleeping. It was a pretty sight, father and son, a father that would certainly never bore his son when it came to finding things to do and talk about. He woke up with a start and stared at me. It took him a minute to recognize who I was. “What are you going to the Coast for Jack? he asked, and went back to sleep for a moment. In the afternoon we went to Graetna, just Bill and me. We drove in his old Chevvy. Neal’s Hudson was low and sleek; Bill’s Chevvy was high and rattly. It was just like 1910. The bookie joint was located near the waterfront in a big chromium-leather bar that opened up in the back to a tremendous hall where entries and numbers were posted on the wall. Louisiana characters lounged

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