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Manhattan Transfer

"Oh I dont understand you Stan."

"I dont understand you Ellie, but I love you very . . . exordinately much." There was a broken tremor in his very low voice that stunned her with happiness.

Ellen paid the taxi. Siren throbbing in an upward shriek that burst and trailed in a dull wail down the street, a fire engine went by red and gleaming, then a hookandladder with bell clanging.

"Let's go to the fire Ellie."

"With you in those clothes. . . . We'll do no such thing."

He followed her silent into the house and up the stairs. Her long room was cool and fresh smelling.

"Ellie you're not sore at me?"

"Of course not idiot child."

She undid the sodden bundle of his clothes and took them into the kitchenette to dry beside the gas stove. The sound of the phonograph playing He's a devil in his own home town called her back. Stan had taken off the dress. He was dancing round with a chair for a partner, her blue padded dressingown flying out from his thin hairy legs.

"Oh Stan you precious idiot."

He put down the chair and came towards her brown and male and lean in the silly dressingown. The phonograph came to the end of the tune and the record went on rasping round and round.