Wednesday, 26 November 2008

26 November 2008

“Why did Carolyn throw you out? what are you going to do?” “Eh?” he said. “Eh? Eh?” We racked our brains for where to go and what to do. I had a fairly good career underway in NY and I realized it was up to me to help Neal. Poor, poor Neal---the Devil himself had never fallen further; in idiocy, with infected thumb, surrounded by the battered suitcases of his motherless feverish life across America and back numberless times, an undone bird, a broken turd, name your price and take your change. “Let’s walk to New York” he said “and as we do let’s take stock of everything along the way---yass.” I took out my money and counted it; I showed it to him. 2x “I have here” I said “the sum of eighty three dollars and change and if you come with me let’s go to New York---and after that let’s go to Italy.” “Italy?” he said. His eyes lit up. “Italy yass---how shall we get there, dear Jack?” I pondered this. “I’ll make some more money, I’ll get another thousand dollars. We’ll go dig all the crazy women in Rome, Paris, all those places; we’ll sit at sidewalk cafes; we’ll catch up with Burford White and Jeffries and live in whore houses. Why not go to Italy?” “Why yass” said Neal and then realized I was serious and looked at me out the corner of his eye for the first time, for I’d never committed myself before with regard to his burdensome existence, and that look was the look of a man weighing his chances at the last moment before the bet. There was triumph and insolence in his eyes, a devilish look, and he never took his eyes off mine for the longest time. I looked back at him and blushed. I said “What’s the matter?” I felt wretched when I asked it. He made no answer but continued looking at me with the same wary insolent side-eye. I tried to remember everything he’d done in his life and if there wasn’t something back there to make him suspicious of something now. Resolutely and firmly I repeated what I said- -“Come to NY with me, I’ve got the money.” I looked at him; my eyes were watering with embarrassment and tears. Still he stared at me. Now his eyes were blank and looking through me. It was probably the pivotal point of our friendship when he realized I had actually spent some hours thinking about him and he was trying to place that in his tremendously involved and tormented mental categories. Some-

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