Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/406

This page has been validated.


Manhattan Transfer

why dont you laugh? Curtain's down. It's all a joke, a smutty joke."

He began to laugh deliriously, then he was choking, fighting for breath with clenched fists again. At length he said in a broken voice, "Don't you see that it's only the whiskey that was keeping me going? Go away and leave me Gladys and send that damned Hindu to me. I've always liked you better than anything in the world. . . . You know that. Quick tell him to bring me what I ordered."

Gladys went out crying. Outside her husband was pacing up and down the hall. "It's those damned reporters . . . I dont know what to tell 'em. They say the creditors want to prosecute."

"Mrs. Gaston," interrupted the nurse, "I'm afraid you'll have to get male nurses. . . . Really I cant do anything with him. . . ." On the lower floor a telephone was ringing, ringing.

When the Hindu brought the bottle of whiskey Blackhead filled a highball glass and took a deep gulp of it.

"Ah that makes you feel better, by the living Jingo it does. Achmet you're a good fellow. . . . Well I guess we'll have to face the music and sell out. . . . Thank God Gladys is settled. I'll sell out every goddam thing I've got. I wish that precious son-in-law wasnt such a simp. Always my luck to be surrounded by a lot of capons. . . . By gad I'd just as soon go to jail if it'll do em any good; why not? it's all in a lifetime. And afterwards when I come out I'll get a job as a bargeman or watchman on a wharf. I'd like that. Why not take it easy after tearing things up all my life, eh Achmet?"

"Yes Sahib," said the Hindu with a bow.

Blackhead mimicked him, "Yes Sahib. . . . You always say yes, Achmet, isn't that funny?" He began to laugh with a choked rattling laugh. "I guess that's the easiest way." He laughed and laughed, then suddenly he couldnt laugh any more. A perking spasm went through all his limbs. He twisted his mouth in an effort to speak. For a second his