Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/205

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Nine Days' Wonder


room. From the street came a rattle of taxis and the whining sound of streetcars.

There was a knock at the door. Jimmy got up, his eyes blurred and hot from reading.

"Hello Stan, where the devil did you come from?"

"Herfy I'm tight as a drum."

"That's no novelty."

"I was just giving you the weather report."

"Well perhaps you can tell me why in this country nobody ever does anything. Nobody ever writes any music or starts any revolutions or falls in love. All anybody ever does is to get drunk and tell smutty stories. I think it's disgusting. . . ."

"'Ear, 'ear. . . . But speak for yourself. I'm going to stop drinking. . . . No good drinking, liquor just gets monotonous. . . . Say, got a bathtub?"

"Of course there's a bathtub. Whose apartment do you think this is, mine?"

"Well whose is it Herfy?"

"It belongs to Lester. I'm just caretaker while he's abroad, the lucky dog." Stan started peeling off his clothes letting them drop in a pile about his feet. "Gee I'd like to go swimming. . . . Why the hell do people live in cities?"

"Why do I go on dragging out a miserable existence in this crazy epileptic town . . . that's what I want to know."

"Lead on Horatius, to the baawth slave," bellowed Stan who stood on top of his pile of clothes, brown with tight rounded muscles, swaying a little from his drunkenness.

"It's right through that door." Jimmy pulled a towel out of the steamertrunk in the corner of the room, threw it after him and went back to reading.

Stan tumbled back into the room, dripping, talking through the towel. "What do you think, I forgot to take my hat off. And look Herfy, there's something I want you to do for me. Do you mind?"

"Of course not. What is it?"

"Will you let me use your back room tonight, this room?"