Butterfly Man/Chapter XXII
WHEN Ken returned to New York, he visited Leon Shaw's ornate office in the Yerkes Building. The pudgy agent squinted at him and asked him to close the door.
"It's about time you came in to see me," he complained. "Don't you want to go back to work?"
"As a matter of necessity only," Ken said. "I'm nearly broke."
Leon rubbed his nose with his forefinger.
"Howard Vee asked me to make up a contract for you several weeks ago."
"I won't take it," Ken said firmly.
Leon was startled. "Why not?" he demanded. "Weren't you happy in 'Sweeter Than Sweet'?"
"Too happy …"
"I can't get you seven fifty any other place."
"I won't take it," Ken persisted.
The agent's desk 'phone buzzed. He listened. "Show him in," he said. He faced Ken and grinned broadly.
"We'll see," he grunted. "We'll see." Then he looked up, past Ken's shoulder. The door was being opened. "I sent for Howard right after you called me this morning. He told me to watch out for you."
Ken heard steps. Howard stood beside him. Flickering bitterness was revealed in the arch of Howard's lips as he placed a hand on Ken's shoulder.
"You didn't write," Howard said. "I decided you would look up Leon, if and when you returned. Why did you vanish?"
"I needed a rest. And I don't write."
"You'll write your name on this," Leon winked at Howard as he produced a contract from his desk drawer.
"I suppose I will," Ken said.
The rebellion was broken. His will to fight was gone. He dipped his pen in ink. He signed his name.
"Satisfied?" he said to Howard.
"I'm glad," the other replied. "Did you read it?"
"No." Ken glanced at the contract. "It's a regular form, isn't it?"
"Ironclad. You work for me or for no one … until next June, eleven months away."
Because he needed money, Ken agreed, he had bound himself to Howard for another season. This reason he had made clear as they walked up Broadway. "I still feel I should work for someone else," he explained.
"You're super-sensitive," Howard said. "I'm tying you up only because I have a part for you in the new show." He was serious; the lines of his mouth straight. "Been drinking?" he asked Ken.
"Not for a week."
"Then I shan't ask you over to the hotel for a cocktail. I'm not even going to invite you to live at the Barrington again. Because I don't really care, if you want to know the truth."
Ken did not speak. His lips were tightly shut.
"You were with Grant Beckett," Howard accused.
"Who told you?"
"I knew a week ago."
"I was. And had a wonderful time."
"Splendid," said Howard. He stopped abruptly. Ken glanced at him. Howard was visibly exasperated. The tense nervous quality of his mood was apparent.
"I'll have Leon call you when rehearsals start. Until then …" His voice trailed away. He turned swiftly and disappeared into the hurrying noonday crowds.
Ken felt the sharp twinge of pain as Howard quit him, there at the corner of Forty-second Street and Broadway. For many minutes, he stood alone in the crowded street. Faces, faces of strangers, tense faces, strained faces … then as the noon hour lengthened, the smiling expectant faces of lunch-going workers, eager for their midday freedom. Simple, very simple people.
He was not, could not be one of them. He stood apart. The past was dead. Howard, bitter, was estranged. He, who needed so desperately the guidance of a friend, had none. Slowly the significance of the disjointed scene in the agent's office became clear. He had been nervous, overeager; he had needed a drink. Sobriety had defeated him. Drunk he would not have signed the contract; he would have forced Leon to seek another engagement for him.
On Forty-third Street, a narrow doorway led to a hidden barroom, concealed between a taxi stand and a fruiterer's. He recalled the place. It was around the corner. He decided to suspend his will, to take a drink.
That afternoon, Ken succeeded in finding Jean Pond. The chorus girl was living across the Queensborough Bridge in Astoria. She hurried to New York at his urgent request. Over diluted old-fashioned cocktails they chatted, bemoaning the passing of good old days, tearing apart memories, slowly, roundly developing a deep mellow mood.
At six o'clock, the bartender refused to serve them with any more liquor.
"We can't afford to have you fall down in the street," he said. "The cops'll be closing us tight if you do."
They trod a spiral path on a heaving floor to the sidewalk. Jean, her face harder than ever, her eyes cold points of steel, held Ken erect.
"I'll get you a room at the Sandringham," she said. "I know the clerk."
A taxi took them to the tall theatrical hotel on Forty-eighth Street. Fresh air had steadied Ken. He wrote his name on the register, paid a week's rent in advance.
His room was pleasant enough. Jean, rapidly becoming sober, loosened Ken's clothing.
"I gotta go home to cook supper for Diana," she told him. "Poor girl … she's utterly helpless without me."
"What does Zigzag think of her?" Ken asked.
"He's jealous of course … but it won't be for long. Di, too, has winning ways."
Soon Ken was alone. The room ceased whirling. Walls, close to each other, held him like a vise. The window was open. He went to it, breathed air. Sandringham, Sandringham … where he lived … alone. A fly buzzed about his head. He swung a palm, trapped it, squeezed it dead. It clung, moist, to his hand.
He washed off the blood in the bathroom basin. His hair tossed senselessly about his head, his eyes were shot with pink; he needed a shave.
Suddenly a sound rose within him.
"To hell with everything!" he bellowed. "I'm crazy as a fool! Crazy! Mad … a crazy fool of a …" His voice died. His lips were contorted. He saw them twitch in his mirrored reflection. Then he forced himself to smile.
"Am I …?" he demanded, "am I going to have fun? I'll say I am," he answered. With a sweeping movement of arms and legs his clothes were ripped off. The body he had always had, the fine graceful body, was still his. And he could still dance.
Into the bedroom, he danced wildly, an animalistic vulpine encircling, a sheer pagan savagery in his leaping, careening charge. Ken danced. Chairs tumbled over as he struck them; he swept the table clear of lamp, books; the telephone jangled. He danced, naked. Then exhausted, happy, he fell to the floor.
Howard called it "The King's Own." It was a replica of his London success. Its stars, the Farraguts, had been imported from England. Ken appeared at rehearsal following Leon Shaw's command. He discovered that others of the troupe had rehearsed for ten days.
During the eight weeks since he had signed the contract with Howard, Ken had lived at the Sandringham. He had avoided Broadway and its night clubs. Through Jean, he had met innumerable little people of the chorus. Harry Cobden, who had been in the original "Sweeter than Sweet" company, frequently joined Jean and Ken. Through Harry, chorus man for twenty years, Ken met Daisy Hartzell and Widgie Waters, two chorus girls who lived uptown near Central Park West. Daisy and Widgie occupied two apartments in an old fashioned red brick flat. Their doors were forever unlatched. Boys and girls came and went. Gin, weak, diluted alkie, was plentiful. It drenched minds, created a slightly dizzy haze, high-pitched laughter, chatter about the unceasingly interesting topic, sex.
Here Ken spent many days, days which drifted past inexpensively, satisfactorily. Joe Durazzo found him one night. Joe began to take care of him once more. Then, too, Frankie arrived. His Chicago patron had dropped dead without taking the trouble to change a certain clause in his will. As a result, Frankie was broke again.
Ken had urged both Joe and Frankie to ask Howard Vee for chorus work in "The King's Own." They had attended a preliminary chorus call. Bucky Barton was staging the routines for the new revue. He rejected them … at Howard's instructions, Ken guessed.
"The old fluff thinks he is manly," Frankie complained. "Don't I know he played the dressmaker in 'Evleen' on the road?"
Ken guessed that "The King's Own" was being produced in a manner different from "Sweeter than Sweet." His suspicions were confirmed as soon as he reported for rehearsals at the Alcazar Theatre. The new chorus numbered sixty-four. The cast was top-heavy with famous musical comedy and variety names of the London stage. Ken was one of the few Americans listed on the call board.
Howard was not in the theatre when Ken arrived. Quite by chance, Ken collided headlong with him as he descended stairs to his temporary dressing-room below stage.
"Hello, Gracey," Howard said curtly.
"Hello, you old sinner," he greeted him.
Howard grinned. "You look wonderful. Have dinner with me tonight?"
"Why not?" Ken replied.
The Farraguts, husband and wife, ruled '"The King's Own." They drank tea at four and otherwise attempted to impress the world with their complete independence of American musical comedy tradition. Because Jack and Alice Farragut were indispensible to the success of the show, Howard permitted them to dictate to him. As a result many sketches had been withdrawn, several numbers rewritten to the taste of the stars.
Bucky Barton, too, was quite different from Jules Monroe. Bucky wanted dancers, not playmates, men, not boy friends.
Because he was thus at the mercy of his stars and his temperamental dance director, Howard was, he explained, unable to keep his promise to Ken, who had no speaking lines and whose two dances would be individual specialties, not parts of big chorus numbers. This, Ken learned as they sat in their old rendezvous, L'Aiglon, dining, tasting choice French wines.
"I want you to release me," Ken said.
"I can't do that," Howard replied.
"I propose to keep you under my management indefinitely."
"But I shan't work for you."
"Indefinitely? Of course not. But for a time."
"Can't you see that my being in the show is an absurdity? You admit yourself that you have nothing for me to do. From a professional point of view I can't afford to waste a season on Broadway doing two dance numbers a night."
"You'll make plenty of money."
"I don't want to work in the show."
Howard's most engaging manner was on display. "Ken," he said, "frankly you are here because you have believed in me. I'm a novice no longer. I've had two conspicuous successes. I'm not looking toward this season. I'm pointing westward, as you might say, to the horizon. A distant goal. And so you. You'll be a star."
This talk, Ken thought, was not to the point. Why must he fence? Why parry? Why not coldly admit the truth that his interest was no longer professional or even personal. More like the macabre ghoulish efforts of a vivisectionist, cutting into, probing into a dog's corpse. Hadn't he made it plain? The affair was through. True enough, he himself had avoided an open break. For, after all, Howard Vee was not a perverted monomaniac. He was not of the sort who whips himself into a frenzy or drinks himself to an orgiastic state of rare exaltation. Howard was—Ken told himself—his victim. Howard had been his prey. Yet how speak of the unspeakable? What could he say?
As these thoughts troubled Ken, Howard eloquently pleaded his case. He concluded with a simple statement:
"If you are worried because of me, forget it. I shall be too busy to think … of those things."
Autumn tinged New York with magic blue, high skies, into which the skyscrapers towered. In the Alcazar Theatre Howard Vee toiled, struggled with his company. Alert mornings, tedious afternoons, weary evenings, broken by difficult production problems, passed in slow succession. Occasionally the Farraguts added to his burden. They were difficult to satisfy. They seemed to consider this American engagement as an interlude of condescension. Arrogant toward their fellows of the cast, they cut the atmosphere of rehearsals with acid. They were roundly hated.
Ken, when he began preparations for his two dance numbers, decided he would again attempt to forego the joys of intoxication, the sweet release of the orgy. He would be strictly professional, he determined. He would meet Howard face to face, regard him as a director, a producer. Thus straightforward in his admission that their friendship was ended, he would settle into a period of money-making.
For a few days he succeeded in maintaining the illusion that he was an obscure, harmless and uninteresting dancer. He remained in the background, hung in the shadows of the big stage or sulked in his dressing-room. A piano player supplied him with music for his new routines. He engaged Jimmy Pierce, negro dancer, to watch his work and to suggest innovations.
During the third week of rehearsals, the stage manager, Murray King, laconic old timer, with the sad face of an Assyrian slave, told him his first act specialty was to be curtailed and made an incident of a chorus number.
"By whose orders?" Ken demanded.
Ken pushed the stage manager aside as he dashed out of the dressing-room. He found Howard seated on the stage apron, guiding the Farraguts through a sketch. Howard was intent upon his stars. He did not notice Ken, who paced angrily up the stage. As Ken turned downstage, Jack Farragut interrupted the rehearsal. Tall, blond, sharp-featured, with a drawl craftily concealing the sting of his tongue, he said:
"I'm not accustomed, Mr. Vee, to being disturbed by dancers."
Ken heard the remark plainly. He stopped, glared at Jack, then wheeled about and strode into the wings. In a moment Howard was by his side.
"I'm through," Ken told him.
"He's a Cockney fish peddler putting on airs," Howard said. "Smack him one, after the show opens."
"I'm through," Ken repeated. Howard grasped his arm. He pushed Ken into a dressing-room and closed the door.
"I mean it," Ken said. "I just learned I'm to do one specialty and two choruses of a finale."
"That's not true," Howard retorted. "We're putting the first act dance into the ice-breaker. You can do a reprise later."
"Whose idea was it?" Ken demanded.
"What's the use?" Ken said. "I didn't want to work in this show. You tricked me into signing—"
"I did not," Howard interrupted. "You signed voluntarily."
"You came to Leon's that day—"
"Because I heard you'd gone mad."
Ken was cold with anger.
"You heard what …?"
"Ken," Howard said. "I still care more for you than for anyone in the world. I understand you, too. Crystal clear you are. Glass. And like glass, brittle, easily broken."
"True words. You are here because I don't want you to ruin yourself."
Face to face with this truth, Ken winced. It was easy enough to lose one's self in liquor, to perform astonishing feats of self-degradation, but in cold sober factual day, to know the truth was like meeting blundering bitterness, akin to despair.
"I'm making the Farraguts wait. I'm humiliating them."
"And yourself …"
"No. Nothing is truer than my wish that you should be happy—"
"Nice words," Ken mocked.
"Madman," gently chided Howard, "let me keep you sane."
To combine two moods in a perfect blend was Ken's avowed purpose. He would convert the subtle, sly, scheming Ken Gracey, whom Howard knew and dominated, into the searing, flaming Buddy Renault of Tia Juana and all points east. He would disgrace himself before Howard, get drunk, flaunt his vicious second self, destroy thus with one blow the illusion which Howard selfishly cherished. When this scene would first be played Ken did not know. He prayed that his opportunity would soon be at hand. Already his friends of the other world, the adoring Joe, malicious Frankie, diabolical Jules, were wagging busy tongues. To others, especially those in the road company of "Sweeter than Sweet," many obscure happenings must now seem clear. Howard, brilliant Howard, had been a slave to the dazzling Ken Gracey, they would repeat. Gossip would seep toward Broadway, into restaurants and night clubs, into the coulisses of theatres and the alleys where the unemployed idly exchanged scandalous news.
Howard, Ken believed, would be made the butt of ridicule. Sensitive Howard, kind Howard, whom he had really loved, would lose caste, friends would desert him, he would forfeit his splendid independence of mind, lose his self-esteem, become in a word, a failure—because of Ken.
The Farraguts had rented a house in the suburb of Great Neck. It was called the Parsonage because Parson Chester had lived there on the knoll above the sound for the seventy-eight years from 1790 to 1868. Completely remodelled and rebuilt, the Parsonage was now a show place, a country home for the wealthy, rented at a high price to transients of the theatrical profession.
"You'll have to come," Howard told Ken. "I've set the opening for Saturday night. They'll have busses to convey the cast down for a week-end after the show. I hear the grounds are studded with bungalows and that it'll be a rich blow-out. Jackie and Alicia will pose as Duke and Duchess of the royal blood and we'll all get a little tight."
"Of course," Ken had said, "you'll be there."
Howard nodded. "I'll go."
In the hurly burly of dress rehearsals and the tensity of the opening night, the party at the Parsonage was almost forgotten. To Ken, who avoided contacts, who had made no friends with others of the cast, it promised nothing more than a boring interlude, an inescapable duty. The Farraguts might amuse him with their tedious self-importance. And Howard would be there.
Perhaps because the show was not definitely a great success when the curtain descended on the first night's performance, the mood of those who travelled to the Parsonage after midnight was varied. Skeptical members of the troupe, English actors who had crossed the ocean in the expectation that they would duplicate the show's London triumph, were frankly disturbed. They were silent, moody. In the bus which bore them to Long Island, they chatted quietly.
No sooner had the automatic door of the vehicle been closed upon him than Ken realized that his easy acceptance of the invitation was a mistake. He too had labored under a strain. He now needed a drink; to be free, to dance, to mimic, to cast aside the ugly drabness of his emotions for the varicolored hues of "The Other World/' Almost as if an alchemic transmutation was occurring within him, he felt the desire rise. He looked about him. For the first time he became aware of another man, palely blond, slim, narrow shoulders, even blue eyes, nose pertinently direct … typically an Englishman. Bowler was his name, Harvey Bowler, straight man for Alicia Farragut in a sidesplitting sketch in which she had appeared in a London Music Hall.
No word had been passed between Ken and Harvey Bowler. The Englishman had ignored the very existence of the quiet dancer, whose single specialty in the second act was his only solo appearance, who danced beautifully, yet somehow without suggesting the joy of dancing. Ken, now glancing about the interior of the bus, avoiding the eyes of Fanny Hale, the soubrette; glancing contemptuously at fat Lennox Cowle, the gray-haired kewpie, saw Bowler anew. His soft tongue, the flow of his words suggested an interesting personality. Ken rose; better to confront him.
Bowler rode facing the rear of the bus. He was chattering in magpie fashion, quick short phrases. Ken heard him ridicule the American custom of permitting late comers to be seated before the end of the first act. Prosaic subject, shopworn excuse for failure, thought Ken. Then Bowler's eyes fell upon Ken's. The man was harassed, lonely. His eyes were those of a fugitive. Ken saw in them what Bowler apparently saw in his, for the Englishman smiled and said,
"Make room for 'Er Grace the Marchioness of Gracey and see you keep your train in your 'ands as you does so."
Ken's face, sombre until now, broke into a smile.
"Meaning what?" he asked.
"Aren't you being presented to the Queen?" Bowler winked.
They were assigned to the same bungalow.
"In London we'd use this for a w. c.," Bowler said, "although the house is rather countryside. I've stood the Farraguts for years. They're awful. They pay me each week or I'd jolly well murder them with arsenic in their porridge."
The house was nice enough. An American house, now refurbished with every conceivable English accent. As the bus arrived, Alicia, "Lady—if possible—Alice" as Bowler called her, took up a position at the head of the old Colonial stairs. Her curiously foreshortened face, so amusing on the stage, attempted haughtiness and failed. Jack Farragut, in swallowtail and ice cold manner, had greeted his guests at the door.
"We'll have Bass's ale or cambric tea. I brought me own Irish," said Bowler.
"Irish?" Ken echoed.
"Dublin whiskey. Raw enough for a rare bit of Bowler, eh?" He produced the bottle. They were in the frame one-story house, two wide, pleasant bedrooms, separated by a center corridor.
"Reminds me of a Liverpool crib 'house," said Bowler, lapsing into stage Cockney. "A bit of a 'eat on and we'd cook each other."
They drank. Suddenly Ken recalled that Howard would be present by now. "We ought to go to the Parsonage," he said.
"I know … Vee will be there."
Ken, shocked, said: "Of course."
"Of course, Auntie Eulalie," Bowler mocked, "he's cheating."
"I'm in the know. Did you ever hear of Chick De Vaughn?"
"Chorus boy. He'll be here, tootsie."
The party was not a frost. Even the Farraguts unbent. Charades at first. Followed by champagne. And a very tall gentleman—"Ambassador from the Court of St. James' to the President of the United States," someone said.
Ken was drunk. He teetered visibly. He saw Howard. Howard was alone, standing in a corner of the chaste library, a wide wine glass in his hand. He put the wine aside as Ken entered.
"Where were you at curtain time?"
"I was delayed," Howard said.
Ken caught his hand. "If I knew my own mind I would say this," he spoke with enormous seriousness. "Howard, I shall quit the show on Monday. You don't need me. You won't miss me."
"That isn't true," Howard said. "Come with me."
At the end of the room was a door. It opened into the garden. The night, late October, was chill. Ken, warmed within by the liquor, shivered.
"They've put me in the Parsonage, of course," Howard said. "Where are you?"
"With an English vixen, Bowler."
"Don't you know?"
"Hired him because of Jack and Alicia."
"Who hired Chick De Vaughn?"
"I don't know. Who is he?"
"I don't know who he is—or care."
They were at the door of the bungalow. Ken stopped and faced Howard.
"Don't come in," he said. "I'm mad. I'm crazy."
"Ken," Howard said, "the curtain went up tonight. The show's on. Let's play it for all it's worth."
"I'm drunk," Ken said. "You mustn't be with me now."
"I'm talking about us."
"There is no us."
"Is it because Jack invited that chorus boy? You don't think …?"
"I understand perfectly why he is here. You brought him, not Jack Farragut. In the back of your head you were/ being cute. You wanted to out-fox me. Make me feel contrite. Can't you see, Howard?" he cried. "Can't you understand? I'm the devil … your devil."
"My very personal devil, then."
"No—your enemy—your enemy."
Without knowing why or how he did it, Ken managed to slam the bungalow door in Howard's face.
In the bedroom was the half empty bottle of Irish whiskey. Ken drank.
In Bowler's bag were lacey underthings. "My passion," said the drunken Englishman. "Primitive, you might say."
"Lemme put 'em on," said Ken.
"Right you are."
He strewed women's silken hose, scant transparencies, on the bed. Ken stripped.
The gentle silk, soothing, caressed him. He was slim, elegantly slim.
"They fit," said Bowler. "Say, those black stockings remind me of the pictures in a book of Pierre Louy's."
"A pair of silk stockings enhances the thrill, Louys says. Look, you could have had me in the Opera, on the Strand, in the taxicab. I'm the same one. Elegant idea, wot?"
"Elegant." Ken thrilled to the feel of the scant garments. "I'm elegant."
With a pirouette, a kick and a leap, he was at the door. He opened it and as if pursued by the wind, raced across the lawn to the Parsonage. He leaped up the narrow steps, the dripping mist moistening the silk, which clung to him as a sheath. The door was open, Farragut's back to him. Alicia was smiling. Howard was shaking hands with a tall distinguished looking man who was saying:
"I must go to bed before dawn or—"
The ridiculously clad youth, whose wild eyes betrayed his intoxicated state, saw and heard none of this. His first glance fell upon a dark-haired boy, very young, very fresh, the clear white of unsullied adolescence in his eyes. Forgetting his raiment, recoiling momentarily from the shock of confronting so many people, thus clad, Ken hesitated.
"It's because I—" he began. Then, jerkily twisting his head, he spoke to the boy:
"You're Chick De Vaughn, aren't you?" he demanded.
The boy was frightened. He turned to Alicia.
"N—n—no—no," he stuttered. "I'm Bobbie Farragut … Father," he turned to Jack.
"Get this fag out of here," Farragut said to Howard.
"Come, Ken," Howard said evenly.
Ken wakened. Legs in black silk, strip of flesh, pale pink, lace, the flimsy covering of soft bodies … He nearly collapsed.
Howard (or did he dream it?), had quarrelled with Bowler. Blows had been exchanged. Ken, unconscious, lay on the bed. When he awoke, late afternoon, he ached. The green quilt covered his body. Beneath he was still in silk. Bowler was gone. He was alone. He rose from the bed, painful limbs, dull mind. The stupor was slow to disappear.
As if held powerless by a drug, he slumped into a chair. Night fell. In utter horror, he watched the minutes pass, checked one by one on the calendar clock. Seven o'clock. Eight.
His mouth was parched. On the dresser was a bottle, another bottle of Irish.
It was nearly midnight when he reached Great Neck. He had trudged four miles, four eternal miles, trees hovering crazily overhead, shadows threatening, sky dull as his mind.
A taxicab stood at the curb.
"Take me to town," Ken ordered.
"Got enough dough?" asked the driver.
"Look," said Ken, pulling some bills from his pocket.
"K. O. supreme," the man replied.
"Supreme tank," tossed the driver at Ken with a shake of his head. "It's in the papers."
"What's in the papers?"
"Lookie here." He pulled a Tabloid newspaper from beneath him. He thumbed the pages until he found a streamer headline set in fat black type.
"ENGLAND OUTRAGED," he read.
"So what?" Ken asked.
"They got your picture in here. Says you attacked the English Ambassador and that producer fellow, Howard Vee, saved you from a beating. Tm cute, I am," he added. "I knew you soon as I saw you."
He read the story with unbelieving eyes. Simple insinuations revealed the deepest secrets of his heart. No clear picture. Just an attack by Kenneth Gracey upon someone. Scandal. Juicy scandal. A rich morsel for a starving populace. A rich morsel of muck.
He tossed the newspaper into the gutter.
"Get going," he ordered.
"I'm your man," said the driver. "Where to?"
"Hell," Ken snapped.
"No trouble at all," the other sallied.
"Better that way," Ken said.
"When you're no trouble at all."
The cab snorted and went its way. Bumping over railroad tracks to a main road. A turn—beyond, New York.
He must not, he knew, return to New York. New York, magnificent New York, was forbidden soil. He must not return, must not sober up, must not be able to go to the theatre tomorrow night.
He must never see Howard again. He must never weakly betray his good fine friend. He must quit the show, quit New York.
Little Neck … Flushing, quiet in the hush of Sunday night. He must not be able to dance again for Howard Vee.
"Driver," he called, "close the window. It's chilly."
"I know it is," said the man as he snapped shut the pane of glass that separated him from his passenger.
Ken smiled. Easy now, easy to escape. His leg, his good right leg, shot up at an odd angle from its pivoting joint. The toe snapped against the glass, the foot crashed through, the jagged edge penetrated firm flesh of his shank, flesh of his leg, flesh upon which he danced.
It pained a little. Blood was warm. He wouldn't dance for a time. Pain increased. A pulsating throb. Warm blood. He was cold. He fainted.