Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/357

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Revolving Doors

345

and began drinking hot rum and water. Inside him all sorts of unnamed agonies were breaking loose. He felt like the man in the fairy story with an iron band round his heart. The iron band was breaking.

He had finished the rum. Occasionally the room would start going round him solemnly and methodically. Suddenly he said aloud: "I've got to talk to her . . . I've got to talk to her." He shoved his hat down on his head and pulled on his coat. Outside the cold was balmy. Six milkwagons in a row passed jingling.

On West Twelfth two black cats were chasing each other. Everywhere was full of their crazy yowling. He felt that something would snap in his head, that he himself would scuttle off suddenly down the frozen street eerily caterwauling.

He stood shivering in the dark passage, ringing the bell marked Herf again and again. Then he knocked as loud as he could. Ellen came to the door in a green wrapper.

"What's the matter Jimps? Havent you got a key?" Her face was soft with sleep; there was a happy cozy suave smell of sleep about her. He talked through clenched teeth breathlessly.

"Ellie I've got to talk to you."

"Are you lit, Jimps?"

"Well I know what I'm saying."

"I'm terribly sleepy."

He followed her into her bedroom. She kicked off her slippers and got back into bed, sat up looking at him with sleepweighted eyes.

"Dont talk too loud on account of Martin."

"Ellie I dont know why it's always so difficult for me to speak out about anything. . . . I always have to get drunk to speak out. . . . Look here do you like me any more?"

"You know I'm awfully fond of you and always shall be."

"I mean love, you know what I mean, whatever it is . . ." he broke in harshly.

"I guess I dont love anybody for long unless they're dead.