Wednesday, 3 December 2008

01 December 2008

she wants you back, she said she never wanted to see you again and she said it was to be final this time. Yet you stand here and make silly faces and I don’t think there’s a care in your heart.” This was not true, I knew better and I could have told them all right there. I didn’t see any sense in trying it. These accusations were the same that had been levelled at me many a time in my own life in the east. I longed to go and put my arm around Neal and say “Now look here all of you, remember just one thing, this guy has his troubles too and another thing he never complains and he’s given all of you a damned good time just being himself and if that isn’t enough for you then send him to the firing squad, that’s apparently what you’re itching to do anyway..” Nevertheless Helen Hinkle was the only one in the gang who wasn’t afraid of Neal and who could sit there calmly, with her face hanging out, telling him off in front of everybody. There were earlier days in Denver when Neal had everybody sit in the dark with their girls and just talked- -and talked- -and talked---with a voice that was once hypnotic and strange and was said to make the girls come across by sheer force of persuasion and the content of what he said. This was when he was fifteen, sixteen. Now his disciples were married and the wives of his disciples had him on the carpet for the sexuality and the life he had helped burgeon---this may be a little thick. I listened further. “Now you’re going east with Jack and what do you think you’re going to accomplish by that? Carolyn has to stay home and mind the baby now you’re gone---how can she keep her dentist job---and she never wants to see you again and I don’t blame her. If you see Al along the road you tell him to come back to me or I’ll kill him.” Just as flat as that. It was the saddest and sweetest night. Then a complete silence fell over everybody and when once Neal would have talked his way out, he now just fell silent himself, but standing, in front of everybody, in full sight, ragged and broken and idiotic, right under the lightbulbs, his bony mad face covered with sweat and throbbing veins, saying “Yes, yes, yes” as though tremendous revelations were pouring into him all the time now, and I am convinced they were, and the others suspected as much and were frightened. What was he

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