Thursday, 4 December 2008

02 December 2008

knowing? He tried all in his power to tell me what he was knowing, and they envied that about me, my position at his side, defending him and drinking him in as they once tried to do. Then they looked at me. What was I, a stranger, doing on the West Coast this fair night. I recoiled from the thought. “We’re going to Italy” I said; I washed my hands of the whole matter. Then too there was a strange air of maternal satisfaction in the air, for the girls were really looking at Neal like a mother looks at the most dearest and errant child, and he with his sad thumb and all his revelations knew it well and that was why he was able, in breathless silence, to get up from the chair, stand a moment, and walk out of the apartment without a word, to wait for us downstairs as soon as we’d made up our minds about TIME. This was what we sensed about the ghost on the sidewalk. I looked out the window. He was alone in the doorway digging the street. Bitterness, recriminations, advice, morality, sadness, it was all behind him and ahead of him was the ragged and ecstatic joy of pure being. “Come on Helen, Julie, let’s go hit the jazz joints and forget it. Neal will be dead someday. Then what can you say to him.” “The sooner he’s dead the better” said Helen, and she spoke officially for almost everyone in the room. “Very well then” I said, “but now he’s alive and I’ll bet you want to know what he does next and that’s because he’s got the secret that we’re all busting to find and he’s got splitting his head wide open and if he goes mad don’t worry it won’t be your fault but the fault of God.” They objected to this; they said I really didn’t know Neal; they said he was the worst scoundrel that ever lived and I’d find out someday to my regret. I was amused to hear them protest so much. Bill Tomson rose to the defense of the ladies and said he knew Neal better than anybody, and all Neal was, was just a very interesting and even amusing conman, and Ah but that was a bit too thick for me because if you’re going to be respectable be so, and if not, don’t be so, and make no halfway bones about it, and this I sought to say. It was a dig at their shoddy routines and cons, past and present, which fortunately they didn’t get and where did I stand but on the verge of the moon, why talk? I went out to find Neal and we had a brief talk

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