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Manhattan Transfer

"Sure you can."

"I mean with somebody."

"Go as far as you like. You can bring the entire Winter Garden Chorus in here and nobody will see them. And there's an emergency exit down the fire escape into the alley. I'll go to bed and close my door so you can have this room and the bath all to yourselves."

"It's a rotten imposition but somebody's husband is on the rampage and we have to be very careful."

"Dont worry about the morning. I'll sneak out early and you can have the place to yourselves."

"Well I'm off so long."

Jimmy gathered up his book and went into his bedroom and undressed. His watch said fifteen past twelve. The night was sultry. When he had turned out the light he sat a long while on the edge of the bed. The faraway sounds of sirens from the river gave him gooseflesh. From the street he heard footsteps, the sound of men and women's voices, low youthful laughs of people going home two by two. A phonograph was playing Secondhand Rose. He lay on his back on top of the sheet. There came on the air through the window a sourness of garbage, a smell of burnt gasoline and traffic and dusty pavements, a huddled stuffiness of pigeonhole rooms where men and women's bodies writhed alone tortured by the night and the young summer. He lay with seared eyeballs staring at the ceiling, his body glowed in a brittle shivering agony like redhot metal.

A woman's voice whispering eagerly woke him; someone was pushing open the door. "I wont see him. I wont see him. Jimmy for Heaven's sake you go talk to him. I wont see him." Elaine Oglethorpe draped in a sheet walked into the room.

Jimmy tumbled out of bed. "What on earth?"

"Isn't there a closet or something in here. . . . I will not talk to Jojo when he's in that condition."

Jimmy straightened his pyjamas. "There's a closet at the head of the bed."