puffyboa.xyz Speedreed

Speedreed

THE

CATCHER

IN

THE

RYE

by

J.D.

Salinger

TO

MY

MOTHER

1

If

you

really

want

to

hear

about

it,

the

first

thing

you'll

probably

want

to

know

is

where

I

was

born,

an

what

my

lousy

childhood

was

like,

and

how

my

parents

were

occupied

and

all

before

they

had

me,

and

all

that

David

Copperfield

kind

of

crap,

but

I

don't

feel

like

going

into

it,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

In

the

first

place,

that

stuff

bores

me,

and

in

the

second

place,

my

parents

would

have

about

two

hemorrhages

apiece

if

I

told

anything

pretty

personal

about

them.

They're

quite

touchy

about

anything

like

that,

especially

my

father.

They're

nice

and

all--I'm

not

saying

that--but

they're

also

touchy

as

hell.

Besides,

I'm

not

going

to

tell

you

my

whole

goddam

autobiography

or

anything.

I'll

just

tell

you

about

this

madman

stuff

that

happened

to

me

around

last

Christmas

just

before

I

got

pretty

run-down

and

had

to

come

out

here

and

take

it

easy.

I

mean

that's

all

I

told

D.B.

about,

and

he's

my

brother

and

all.

He's

in

Hollywood.

That

isn't

too

far

from

this

crumby

place,

and

he

comes

over

and

visits

me

practically

every

week

end.

He's

going

to

drive

me

home

when

I

go

home

next

month

maybe.

He

just

got

a

Jaguar.

One

of

those

little

English

jobs

that

can

do

around

two

hundred

miles

an

hour.

It

cost

him

damn

near

four

thousand

bucks.

He's

got

a

lot

of

dough,

now.

He

didn't

use

to.

He

used

to

be

just

a

regular

writer,

when

he

was

home.

He

wrote

this

terrific

book

of

short

stories,

The

Secret

Goldfish,

in

case

you

never

heard

of

him.

The

best

one

in

it

was

"The

Secret

Goldfish."

It

was

about

this

little

kid

that

wouldn't

let

anybody

look

at

his

goldfish

because

he'd

bought

it

with

his

own

money.

It

killed

me.

Now

he's

out

in

Hollywood,

D.B.,

being

a

prostitute.

If

there's

one

thing

I

hate,

it's

the

movies.

Don't

even

mention

them

to

me.

Where

I

want

to

start

telling

is

the

day

I

left

Pencey

Prep.

Pencey

Prep

is

this

school

that's

in

Agerstown,

Pennsylvania.

You

probably

heard

of

it.

You've

probably

seen

the

ads,

anyway.

They

advertise

in

about

a

thousand

magazines,

always

showing

some

hotshot

guy

on

a

horse

jumping

over

a

fence.

Like

as

if

all

you

ever

did

at

Pencey

was

play

polo

all

the

time.

I

never

even

once

saw

a

horse

anywhere

near

the

place.

And

underneath

the

guy

on

the

horse's

picture,

it

always

says:

"Since

1888

we

have

been

molding

boys

into

splendid,

clear-thinking

young

men."

Strictly

for

the

birds.

They

don't

do

any

damn

more

molding

at

Pencey

than

they

do

at

any

other

school.

And

I

didn't

know

anybody

there

that

was

splendid

and

clear-thinking

and

all.

Maybe

two

guys.

If

that

many.

And

they

probably

came

to

Pencey

that

way.

Anyway,

it

was

the

Saturday

of

the

football

game

with

Saxon

Hall.

The

game

with

Saxon

Hall

was

supposed

to

be

a

very

big

deal

around

Pencey.

It

was

the

last

game

of

the

year,

and

you

were

supposed

to

commit

suicide

or

something

if

old

Pencey

didn't

win.

I

remember

around

three

o'clock

that

afternoon

I

was

standing

way

the

hell

up

on

top

of

Thomsen

Hill,

right

next

to

this

crazy

cannon

that

was

in

the

Revolutionary

War

and

all.

You

could

see

the

whole

field

from

there,

and

you

could

see

the

two

teams

bashing

each

other

all

over

the

place.

You

couldn't

see

the

grandstand

too

hot,

but

you

could

hear

them

all

yelling,

deep

and

terrific

on

the

Pencey

side,

because

practically

the

whole

school

except

me

was

there,

and

scrawny

and

faggy

on

the

Saxon

Hall

side,

because

the

visiting

team

hardly

ever

brought

many

people

with

them.

There

were

never

many

girls

at

all

at

the

football

games.

Only

seniors

were

allowed

to

bring

girls

with

them.

It

was

a

terrible

school,

no

matter

how

you

looked

at

it.

I

like

to

be

somewhere

at

least

where

you

can

see

a

few

girls

around

once

in

a

while,

even

if

they're

only

scratching

their

arms

or

blowing

their

noses

or

even

just

giggling

or

something.

Old

Selma

Thurmer--she

was

the

headmaster's

daughter--showed

up

at

the

games

quite

often,

but

she

wasn't

exactly

the

type

that

drove

you

mad

with

desire.

She

was

a

pretty

nice

girl,

though.

I

sat

next

to

her

once

in

the

bus

from

Agerstown

and

we

sort

of

struck

up

a

conversation.

I

liked

her.

She

had

a

big

nose

and

her

nails

were

all

bitten

down

and

bleedy-looking

and

she

had

on

those

damn

falsies

that

point

all

over

the

place,

but

you

felt

sort

of

sorry

for

her.

What

I

liked

about

her,

she

didn't

give

you

a

lot

of

horse

manure

about

what

a

great

guy

her

father

was.

She

probably

knew

what

a

phony

slob

he

was.

The

reason

I

was

standing

way

up

on

Thomsen

Hill,

instead

of

down

at

the

game,

was

because

I'd

just

got

back

from

New

York

with

the

fencing

team.

I

was

the

goddam

manager

of

the

fencing

team.

Very

big

deal.

We'd

gone

in

to

New

York

that

morning

for

this

fencing

meet

with

McBurney

School.

Only,

we

didn't

have

the

meet.

I

left

all

the

foils

and

equipment

and

stuff

on

the

goddam

subway.

It

wasn't

all

my

fault.

I

had

to

keep

getting

up

to

look

at

this

map,

so

we'd

know

where

to

get

off.

So

we

got

back

to

Pencey

around

two-thirty

instead

of

around

dinnertime.

The

whole

team

ostracized

me

the

whole

way

back

on

the

train.

It

was

pretty

funny,

in

a

way.

The

other

reason

I

wasn't

down

at

the

game

was

because

I

was

on

my

way

to

say

good-by

to

old

Spencer,

my

history

teacher.

He

had

the

grippe,

and

I

figured

I

probably

wouldn't

see

him

again

till

Christmas

vacation

started.

He

wrote

me

this

note

saying

he

wanted

to

see

me

before

I

went

home.

He

knew

I

wasn't

coming

back

to

Pencey.

I

forgot

to

tell

you

about

that.

They

kicked

me

out.

I

wasn't

supposed

to

come

back

after

Christmas

vacation

on

account

of

I

was

flunking

four

subjects

and

not

applying

myself

and

all.

They

gave

me

frequent

warning

to

start

applying

myself--especially

around

midterms,

when

my

parents

came

up

for

a

conference

with

old

Thurmer--but

I

didn't

do

it.

So

I

got

the

ax.

They

give

guys

the

ax

quite

frequently

at

Pencey.

It

has

a

very

good

academic

rating,

Pencey.

It

really

does.

Anyway,

it

was

December

and

all,

and

it

was

cold

as

a

witch's

teat,

especially

on

top

of

that

stupid

hill.

I

only

had

on

my

reversible

and

no

gloves

or

anything.

The

week

before

that,

somebody'd

stolen

my

camel's-hair

coat

right

out

of

my

room,

with

my

furlined

gloves

right

in

the

pocket

and

all.

Pencey

was

full

of

crooks.

Quite

a

few

guys

came

from

these

very

wealthy

families,

but

it

was

full

of

crooks

anyway.

The

more

expensive

a

school

is,

the

more

crooks

it

has--I'm

not

kidding.

Anyway,

I

kept

standing

next

to

that

crazy

cannon,

looking

down

at

the

game

and

freezing

my

ass

off.

Only,

I

wasn't

watching

the

game

too

much.

What

I

was

really

hanging

around

for,

I

was

trying

to

feel

some

kind

of

a

good-by.

I

mean

I've

left

schools

and

places

I

didn't

even

know

I

was

leaving

them.

I

hate

that.

I

don't

care

if

it's

a

sad

good-by

or

a

bad

goodby,

but

when

I

leave

a

place

I

like

to

know

I'm

leaving

it.

If

you

don't,

you

feel

even

worse.

I

was

lucky.

All

of

a

sudden

I

thought

of

something

that

helped

make

me

know

I

was

getting

the

hell

out.

I

suddenly

remembered

this

time,

in

around

October,

that

I

and

Robert

Tichener

and

Paul

Campbell

were

chucking

a

football

around,

in

front

of

the

academic

building.

They

were

nice

guys,

especially

Tichener.

It

was

just

before

dinner

and

it

was

getting

pretty

dark

out,

but

we

kept

chucking

the

ball

around

anyway.

It

kept

getting

darker

and

darker,

and

we

could

hardly

see

the

ball

any

more,

but

we

didn't

want

to

stop

doing

what

we

were

doing.

Finally

we

had

to.

This

teacher

that

taught

biology,

Mr.

Zambesi,

stuck

his

head

out

of

this

window

in

the

academic

building

and

told

us

to

go

back

to

the

dorm

and

get

ready

for

dinner.

If

I

get

a

chance

to

remember

that

kind

of

stuff,

I

can

get

a

good-by

when

I

need

one--at

least,

most

of

the

time

I

can.

As

soon

as

I

got

it,

I

turned

around

and

started

running

down

the

other

side

of

the

hill,

toward

old

Spencer's

house.

He

didn't

live

on

the

campus.

He

lived

on

Anthony

Wayne

Avenue.

I

ran

all

the

way

to

the

main

gate,

and

then

I

waited

a

second

till

I

got

my

breath.

I

have

no

wind,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

I'm

quite

a

heavy

smoker,

for

one

thing--that

is,

I

used

to

be.

They

made

me

cut

it

out.

Another

thing,

I

grew

six

and

a

half

inches

last

year.

That's

also

how

I

practically

got

t.b.

and

came

out

here

for

all

these

goddam

checkups

and

stuff.

I'm

pretty

healthy,

though.

Anyway,

as

soon

as

I

got

my

breath

back

I

ran

across

Route

204.

It

was

icy

as

hell

and

I

damn

near

fell

down.

I

don't

even

know

what

I

was

running

for--I

guess

I

just

felt

like

it.

After

I

got

across

the

road,

I

felt

like

I

was

sort

of

disappearing.

It

was

that

kind

of

a

crazy

afternoon,

terrifically

cold,

and

no

sun

out

or

anything,

and

you

felt

like

you

were

disappearing

every

time

you

crossed

a

road.

Boy,

I

rang

that

doorbell

fast

when

I

got

to

old

Spencer's

house.

I

was

really

frozen.

My

ears

were

hurting

and

I

could

hardly

move

my

fingers

at

all.

"C'mon,

c'mon,"

I

said

right

out

loud,

almost,

"somebody

open

the

door."

Finally

old

Mrs.

Spencer

opened.

it.

They

didn't

have

a

maid

or

anything,

and

they

always

opened

the

door

themselves.

They

didn't

have

too

much

dough.

"Holden!"

Mrs.

Spencer

said.

"How

lovely

to

see

you!

Come

in,

dear!

Are

you

frozen

to

death?"

I

think

she

was

glad

to

see

me.

She

liked

me.

At

least,

I

think

she

did.

Boy,

did

I

get

in

that

house

fast.

"How

are

you,

Mrs.

Spencer?"

I

said.

"How's

Mr.

Spencer?"

"Let

me

take

your

coat,

dear,"

she

said.

She

didn't

hear

me

ask

her

how

Mr.

Spencer

was.

She

was

sort

of

deaf.

She

hung

up

my

coat

in

the

hall

closet,

and

I

sort

of

brushed

my

hair

back

with

my

hand.

I

wear

a

crew

cut

quite

frequently

and

I

never

have

to

comb

it

much.

"How've

you

been,

Mrs.

Spencer?"

I

said

again,

only

louder,

so

she'd

hear

me.

"I've

been

just

fine,

Holden."

She

closed

the

closet

door.

"How

have

you

been?"

The

way

she

asked

me,

I

knew

right

away

old

Spencer'd

told

her

I'd

been

kicked

out.

"Fine,"

I

said.

"How's

Mr.

Spencer?

He

over

his

grippe

yet?"

"Over

it!

Holden,

he's

behaving

like

a

perfect--I

don't

know

what.

.

.

He's

in

his

room,

dear.

Go

right

in."

2

They

each

had

their

own

room

and

all.

They

were

both

around

seventy

years

old,

or

even

more

than

that.

They

got

a

bang

out

of

things,

though--in

a

haif-assed

way,

of

course.

I

know

that

sounds

mean

to

say,

but

I

don't

mean

it

mean.

I

just

mean

that

I

used

to

think

about

old

Spencer

quite

a

lot,

and

if

you

thought

about

him

too

much,

you

wondered

what

the

heck

he

was

still

living

for.

I

mean

he

was

all

stooped

over,

and

he

had

very

terrible

posture,

and

in

class,

whenever

he

dropped

a

piece

of

chalk

at

the

blackboard,

some

guy

in

the

first

row

always

had

to

get

up

and

pick

it

up

and

hand

it

to

him.

That's

awful,

in

my

opinion.

But

if

you

thought

about

him

just

enough

and

not

too

much,

you

could

figure

it

out

that

he

wasn't

doing

too

bad

for

himself.

For

instance,

one

Sunday

when

some

other

guys

and

I

were

over

there

for

hot

chocolate,

he

showed

us

this

old

beat-up

Navajo

blanket

that

he

and

Mrs.

Spencer'd

bought

off

some

Indian

in

Yellowstone

Park.

You

could

tell

old

Spencer'd

got

a

big

bang

out

of

buying

it.

That's

what

I

mean.

You

take

somebody

old

as

hell,

like

old

Spencer,

and

they

can

get

a

big

bang

out

of

buying

a

blanket.

His

door

was

open,

but

I

sort

of

knocked

on

it

anyway,

just

to

be

polite

and

all.

I

could

see

where

he

was

sitting.

He

was

sitting

in

a

big

leather

chair,

all

wrapped

up

in

that

blanket

I

just

told

you

about.

He

looked

over

at

me

when

I

knocked.

"Who's

that?"

he

yelled.

"Caulfield?

Come

in,

boy."

He

was

always

yelling,

outside

class.

It

got

on

your

nerves

sometimes.

The

minute

I

went

in,

I

was

sort

of

sorry

I'd

come.

He

was

reading

the

Atlantic

Monthly,

and

there

were

pills

and

medicine

all

over

the

place,

and

everything

smelled

like

Vicks

Nose

Drops.

It

was

pretty

depressing.

I'm

not

too

crazy

about

sick

people,

anyway.

What

made

it

even

more

depressing,

old

Spencer

had

on

this

very

sad,

ratty

old

bathrobe

that

he

was

probably

born

in

or

something.

I

don't

much

like

to

see

old

guys

in

their

pajamas

and

bathrobes

anyway.

Their

bumpy

old

chests

are

always

showing.

And

their

legs.

Old

guys'

legs,

at

beaches

and

places,

always

look

so

white

and

unhairy.

"Hello,

sir,"

I

said.

"I

got

your

note.

Thanks

a

lot."

He'd

written

me

this

note

asking

me

to

stop

by

and

say

good-by

before

vacation

started,

on

account

of

I

wasn't

coming

back.

"You

didn't

have

to

do

all

that.

I'd

have

come

over

to

say

good-by

anyway."

"Have

a

seat

there,

boy,"

old

Spencer

said.

He

meant

the

bed.

I

sat

down

on

it.

"How's

your

grippe,

sir?"

"M'boy,

if

I

felt

any

better

I'd

have

to

send

for

the

doctor,"

old

Spencer

said.

That

knocked

him

out.

He

started

chuckling

like

a

madman.

Then

he

finally

straightened

himself

out

and

said,

"Why

aren't

you

down

at

the

game?

I

thought

this

was

the

day

of

the

big

game."

"It

is.

I

was.

Only,

I

just

got

back

from

New

York

with

the

fencing

team,"

I

said.

Boy,

his

bed

was

like

a

rock.

He

started

getting

serious

as

hell.

I

knew

he

would.

"So

you're

leaving

us,

eh?"

he

said.

"Yes,

sir.

I

guess

I

am."

He

started

going

into

this

nodding

routine.

You

never

saw

anybody

nod

as

much

in

your

life

as

old

Spencer

did.

You

never

knew

if

he

was

nodding

a

lot

because

he

was

thinking

and

all,

or

just

because

he

was

a

nice

old

guy

that

didn't

know

his

ass

from

his

elbow.

"What

did

Dr.

Thurmer

say

to

you,

boy?

I

understand

you

had

quite

a

little

chat."

"Yes,

we

did.

We

really

did.

I

was

in

his

office

for

around

two

hours,

I

guess."

"What'd

he

say

to

you?"

"Oh.

.

.

well,

about

Life

being

a

game

and

all.

And

how

you

should

play

it

according

to

the

rules.

He

was

pretty

nice

about

it.

I

mean

he

didn't

hit

the

ceiling

or

anything.

He

just

kept

talking

about

Life

being

a

game

and

all.

You

know."

"Life

is

a

game,

boy.

Life

is

a

game

that

one

plays

according

to

the

rules."

"Yes,

sir.

I

know

it

is.

I

know

it."

Game,

my

ass.

Some

game.

If

you

get

on

the

side

where

all

the

hot-shots

are,

then

it's

a

game,

all

right--I'll

admit

that.

But

if

you

get

on

the

other

side,

where

there

aren't

any

hot-shots,

then

what's

a

game

about

it?

Nothing.

No

game.

"Has

Dr.

Thurmer

written

to

your

parents

yet?"

old

Spencer

asked

me.

"He

said

he

was

going

to

write

them

Monday."

"Have

you

yourself

communicated

with

them?"

"No,

sir,

I

haven't

communicated

with

them,

because

I'll

probably

see

them

Wednesday

night

when

I

get

home."

"And

how

do

you

think

they'll

take

the

news?"

"Well.

.

.

they'll

be

pretty

irritated

about

it,"

I

said.

"They

really

will.

This

is

about

the

fourth

school

I've

gone

to."

I

shook

my

head.

I

shake

my

head

quite

a

lot.

"Boy!"

I

said.

I

also

say

"Boy!"

quite

a

lot.

Partly

because

I

have

a

lousy

vocabulary

and

partly

because

I

act

quite

young

for

my

age

sometimes.

I

was

sixteen

then,

and

I'm

seventeen

now,

and

sometimes

I

act

like

I'm

about

thirteen.

It's

really

ironical,

because

I'm

six

foot

two

and

a

half

and

I

have

gray

hair.

I

really

do.

The

one

side

of

my

head--the

right

side--

is

full

of

millions

of

gray

hairs.

I've

had

them

ever

since

I

was

a

kid.

And

yet

I

still

act

sometimes

like

I

was

only

about

twelve.

Everybody

says

that,

especially

my

father.

It's

partly

true,

too,

but

it

isn't

all

true.

People

always

think

something's

all

true.

I

don't

give

a

damn,

except

that

I

get

bored

sometimes

when

people

tell

me

to

act

my

age.

Sometimes

I

act

a

lot

older

than

I

am--I

really

do--but

people

never

notice

it.

People

never

notice

anything.

Old

Spencer

started

nodding

again.

He

also

started

picking

his

nose.

He

made

out

like

he

was

only

pinching

it,

but

he

was

really

getting

the

old

thumb

right

in

there.

I

guess

he

thought

it

was

all

right

to

do

because

it

was

only

me

that

was

in

the

room.

I

didn't

care,

except

that

it's

pretty

disgusting

to

watch

somebody

pick

their

nose.

Then

he

said,

"I

had

the

privilege

of

meeting

your

mother

and

dad

when

they

had

their

little

chat

with

Dr.

Thurmer

some

weeks

ago.

They're

grand

people."

"Yes,

they

are.

They're

very

nice."

Grand.

There's

a

word

I

really

hate.

It's

a

phony.

I

could

puke

every

time

I

hear

it.

Then

all

of

a

sudden

old

Spencer

looked

like

he

had

something

very

good,

something

sharp

as

a

tack,

to

say

to

me.

He

sat

up

more

in

his

chair

and

sort

of

moved

around.

It

was

a

false

alarm,

though.

All

he

did

was

lift

the

Atlantic

Monthly

off

his

lap

and

try

to

chuck

it

on

the

bed,

next

to

me.

He

missed.

It

was

only

about

two

inches

away,

but

he

missed

anyway.

I

got

up

and

picked

it

up

and

put

it

down

on

the

bed.

All

of

a

sudden

then,

I

wanted

to

get

the

hell

out

of

the

room.

I

could

feel

a

terrific

lecture

coming

on.

I

didn't

mind

the

idea

so

much,

but

I

didn't

feel

like

being

lectured

to

and

smell

Vicks

Nose

Drops

and

look

at

old

Spencer

in

his

pajamas

and

bathrobe

all

at

the

same

time.

I

really

didn't.

It

started,

all

right.

"What's

the

matter

with

you,

boy?"

old

Spencer

said.

He

said

it

pretty

tough,

too,

for

him.

"How

many

subjects

did

you

carry

this

term?"

"Five,

sir."

"Five.

And

how

many

are

you

failing

in?"

"Four."

I

moved

my

ass

a

little

bit

on

the

bed.

It

was

the

hardest

bed

I

ever

sat

on.

"I

passed

English

all

right,"

I

said,

"because

I

had

all

that

Beowulf

and

Lord

Randal

My

Son

stuff

when

I

was

at

the

Whooton

School.

I

mean

I

didn't

have

to

do

any

work

in

English

at

all

hardly,

except

write

compositions

once

in

a

while."

He

wasn't

even

listening.

He

hardly

ever

listened

to

you

when

you

said

something.

"I

flunked

you

in

history

because

you

knew

absolutely

nothing."

"I

know

that,

sir.

Boy,

I

know

it.

You

couldn't

help

it."

"Absolutely

nothing,"

he

said

over

again.

That's

something

that

drives

me

crazy.

When

people

say

something

twice

that

way,

after

you

admit

it

the

first

time.

Then

he

said

it

three

times.

"But

absolutely

nothing.

I

doubt

very

much

if

you

opened

your

textbook

even

once

the

whole

term.

Did

you?

Tell

the

truth,

boy."

"Well,

I

sort

of

glanced

through

it

a

couple

of

times,"

I

told

him.

I

didn't

want

to

hurt

his

feelings.

He

was

mad

about

history.

"You

glanced

through

it,

eh?"

he

said--very

sarcastic.

"Your,

ah,

exam

paper

is

over

there

on

top

of

my

chiffonier.

On

top

of

the

pile.

Bring

it

here,

please."

It

was

a

very

dirty

trick,

but

I

went

over

and

brought

it

over

to

him--I

didn't

have

any

alternative

or

anything.

Then

I

sat

down

on

his

cement

bed

again.

Boy,

you

can't

imagine

how

sorry

I

was

getting

that

I'd

stopped

by

to

say

good-by

to

him.

He

started

handling

my

exam

paper

like

it

was

a

turd

or

something.

"We

studied

the

Egyptians

from

November

4th

to

December

2nd,"

he

said.

"You

chose

to

write

about

them

for

the

optional

essay

question.

Would

you

care

to

hear

what

you

had

to

say?"

"No,

sir,

not

very

much,"

I

said.

He

read

it

anyway,

though.

You

can't

stop

a

teacher

when

they

want

to

do

something.

They

just

do

it.

The

Egyptians

were

an

ancient

race

of

Caucasians

residing

in

one

of

the

northern

sections

of

Africa.

The

latter

as

we

all

know

is

the

largest

continent

in

the

Eastern

Hemisphere.

I

had

to

sit

there

and

listen

to

that

crap.

It

certainly

was

a

dirty

trick.

The

Egyptians

are

extremely

interesting

to

us

today

for

various

reasons.

Modern

science

would

still

like

to

know

what

the

secret

ingredients

were

that

the

Egyptians

used

when

they

wrapped

up

dead

people

so

that

their

faces

would

not

rot

for

innumerable

centuries.

This

interesting

riddle

is

still

quite

a

challenge

to

modern

science

in

the

twentieth

century.

He

stopped

reading

and

put

my

paper

down.

I

was

beginning

to

sort

of

hate

him.

"Your

essay,

shall

we

say,

ends

there,"

he

said

in

this

very

sarcastic

voice.

You

wouldn't

think

such

an

old

guy

would

be

so

sarcastic

and

all.

"However,

you

dropped

me

a

little

note,

at

the

bottom

of

the

page,"

he

said.

"I

know

I

did,"

I

said.

I

said

it

very

fast

because

I

wanted

to

stop

him

before

he

started

reading

that

out

loud.

But

you

couldn't

stop

him.

He

was

hot

as

a

firecracker.

DEAR

MR.

SPENCER

[he

read

out

loud].

That

is

all

I

know

about

the

Egyptians.

I

can't

seem

to

get

very

interested

in

them

although

your

lectures

are

very

interesting.

It

is

all

right

with

me

if

you

flunk

me

though

as

I

am

flunking

everything

else

except

English

anyway.

Respectfully

yours,

HOLDEN

CAULFIELD.

He

put

my

goddam

paper

down

then

and

looked

at

me

like

he'd

just

beaten

hell

out

of

me

in

ping-pong

or

something.

I

don't

think

I'll

ever

forgive

him

for

reading

me

that

crap

out

loud.

I

wouldn't've

read

it

out

loud

to

him

if

he'd

written

it--I

really

wouldn't.

In

the

first

place,

I'd

only

written

that

damn

note

so

that

he

wouldn't

feel

too

bad

about

flunking

me.

"Do

you

blame

me

for

flunking

you,

boy?"

he

said.

"No,

sir!

I

certainly

don't,"

I

said.

I

wished

to

hell

he'd

stop

calling

me

"boy"

all

the

time.

He

tried

chucking

my

exam

paper

on

the

bed

when

he

was

through

with

it.

Only,

he

missed

again,

naturally.

I

had

to

get

up

again

and

pick

it

up

and

put

it

on

top

of

the

Atlantic

Monthly.

It's

boring

to

do

that

every

two

minutes.

"What

would

you

have

done

in

my

place?"

he

said.

"Tell

the

truth,

boy."

Well,

you

could

see

he

really

felt

pretty

lousy

about

flunking

me.

So

I

shot

the

bull

for

a

while.

I

told

him

I

was

a

real

moron,

and

all

that

stuff.

I

told

him

how

I

would've

done

exactly

the

same

thing

if

I'd

been

in

his

place,

and

how

most

people

didn't

appreciate

how

tough

it

is

being

a

teacher.

That

kind

of

stuff.

The

old

bull.

The

funny

thing

is,

though,

I

was

sort

of

thinking

of

something

else

while

I

shot

the

bull.

I

live

in

New

York,

and

I

was

thinking

about

the

lagoon

in

Central

Park,

down

near

Central

Park

South.

I

was

wondering

if

it

would

be

frozen

over

when

I

got

home,

and

if

it

was,

where

did

the

ducks

go.

I

was

wondering

where

the

ducks

went

when

the

lagoon

got

all

icy

and

frozen

over.

I

wondered

if

some

guy

came

in

a

truck

and

took

them

away

to

a

zoo

or

something.

Or

if

they

just

flew

away.

I'm

lucky,

though.

I

mean

I

could

shoot

the

old

bull

to

old

Spencer

and

think

about

those

ducks

at

the

same

time.

It's

funny.

You

don't

have

to

think

too

hard

when

you

talk

to

a

teacher.

All

of

a

sudden,

though,

he

interrupted

me

while

I

was

shooting

the

bull.

He

was

always

interrupting

you.

"How

do

you

feel

about

all

this,

boy?

I'd

be

very

interested

to

know.

Very

interested."

"You

mean

about

my

flunking

out

of

Pencey

and

all?"

I

said.

I

sort

of

wished

he'd

cover

up

his

bumpy

chest.

It

wasn't

such

a

beautiful

view.

"If

I'm

not

mistaken,

I

believe

you

also

had

some

difficulty

at

the

Whooton

School

and

at

Elkton

Hills."

He

didn't

say

it

just

sarcastic,

but

sort

of

nasty,

too.

"I

didn't

have

too

much

difficulty

at

Elkton

Hills,"

I

told

him.

"I

didn't

exactly

flunk

out

or

anything.

I

just

quit,

sort

of."

"Why,

may

I

ask?"

"Why?

Oh,

well

it's

a

long

story,

sir.

I

mean

it's

pretty

complicated."

I

didn't

feel

like

going

into

the

whole

thing

with

him.

He

wouldn't

have

understood

it

anyway.

It

wasn't

up

his

alley

at

all.

One

of

the

biggest

reasons

I

left

Elkton

Hills

was

because

I

was

surrounded

by

phonies.

That's

all.

They

were

coming

in

the

goddam

window.

For

instance,

they

had

this

headmaster,

Mr.

Haas,

that

was

the

phoniest

bastard

I

ever

met

in

my

life.

Ten

times

worse

than

old

Thurmer.

On

Sundays,

for

instance,

old

Haas

went

around

shaking

hands

with

everybody's

parents

when

they

drove

up

to

school.

He'd

be

charming

as

hell

and

all.

Except

if

some

boy

had

little

old

funny-looking

parents.

You

should've

seen

the

way

he

did

with

my

roommate's

parents.

I

mean

if

a

boy's

mother

was

sort

of

fat

or

corny-looking

or

something,

and

if

somebody's

father

was

one

of

those

guys

that

wear

those

suits

with

very

big

shoulders

and

corny

black-and-white

shoes,

then

old

Hans

would

just

shake

hands

with

them

and

give

them

a

phony

smile

and

then

he'd

go

talk,

for

maybe

a

half

an

hour,

with

somebody

else's

parents.

I

can't

stand

that

stuff.

It

drives

me

crazy.

It

makes

me

so

depressed

I

go

crazy.

I

hated

that

goddam

Elkton

Hills.

Old

Spencer

asked

me

something

then,

but

I

didn't

hear

him.

I

was

thinking

about

old

Haas.

"What,

sir?"

I

said.

"Do

you

have

any

particular

qualms

about

leaving

Pencey?"

"Oh,

I

have

a

few

qualms,

all

right.

Sure.

.

.

but

not

too

many.

Not

yet,

anyway.

I

guess

it

hasn't

really

hit

me

yet.

It

takes

things

a

while

to

hit

me.

All

I'm

doing

right

now

is

thinking

about

going

home

Wednesday.

I'm

a

moron."

"Do

you

feel

absolutely

no

concern

for

your

future,

boy?"

"Oh,

I

feel

some

concern

for

my

future,

all

right.

Sure.

Sure,

I

do."

I

thought

about

it

for

a

minute.

"But

not

too

much,

I

guess.

Not

too

much,

I

guess."

"You

will,"

old

Spencer

said.

"You

will,

boy.

You

will

when

it's

too

late."

I

didn't

like

hearing

him

say

that.

It

made

me

sound

dead

or

something.

It

was

very

depressing.

"I

guess

I

will,"

I

said.

"I'd

like

to

put

some

sense

in

that

head

of

yours,

boy.

I'm

trying

to

help

you.

I'm

trying

to

help

you,

if

I

can."

He

really

was,

too.

You

could

see

that.

But

it

was

just

that

we

were

too

much

on

opposite

sides

ot

the

pole,

that's

all.

"I

know

you

are,

sir,"

I

said.

"Thanks

a

lot.

No

kidding.

I

appreciate

it.

I

really

do."

I

got

up

from

the

bed

then.

Boy,

I

couldn't've

sat

there

another

ten

minutes

to

save

my

life.

"The

thing

is,

though,

I

have

to

get

going

now.

I

have

quite

a

bit

of

equipment

at

the

gym

I

have

to

get

to

take

home

with

me.

I

really

do."

He

looked

up

at

me

and

started

nodding

again,

with

this

very

serious

look

on

his

face.

I

felt

sorry

as

hell

for

him,

all

of

a

sudden.

But

I

just

couldn't

hang

around

there

any

longer,

the

way

we

were

on

opposite

sides

of

the

pole,

and

the

way

he

kept

missing

the

bed

whenever

he

chucked

something

at

it,

and

his

sad

old

bathrobe

with

his

chest

showing,

and

that

grippy

smell

of

Vicks

Nose

Drops

all

over

the

place.

"Look,

sir.

Don't

worry

about

me,"

I

said.

"I

mean

it.

I'll

be

all

right.

I'm

just

going

through

a

phase

right

now.

Everybody

goes

through

phases

and

all,

don't

they?"

"I

don't

know,

boy.

I

don't

know."

I

hate

it

when

somebody

answers

that

way.

"Sure.

Sure,

they

do,"

I

said.

"I

mean

it,

sir.

Please

don't

worry

about

me."

I

sort

of

put

my

hand

on

his

shoulder.

"Okay?"

I

said.

"Wouldn't

you

like

a

cup

of

hot

chocolate

before

you

go?

Mrs.

Spencer

would

be-

-"

"I

would,

I

really

would,

but

the

thing

is,

I

have

to

get

going.

I

have

to

go

right

to

the

gym.

Thanks,

though.

Thanks

a

lot,

sir."

Then

we

shook

hands.

And

all

that

crap.

It

made

me

feel

sad

as

hell,

though.

"I'll

drop

you

a

line,

sir.

Take

care

of

your

grippe,

now."

"Good-by,

boy."

After

I

shut

the

door

and

started

back

to

the

living

room,

he

yelled

something

at

me,

but

I

couldn't

exactly

hear

him.

I'm

pretty

sure

he

yelled

"Good

luck!"

at

me,

I

hope

to

hell

not.

I'd

never

yell

"Good

luck!"

at

anybody.

It

sounds

terrible,

when

you

think

about

it.

3

I'm

the

most

terrific

liar

you

ever

saw

in

your

life.

It's

awful.

If

I'm

on

my

way

to

the

store

to

buy

a

magazine,

even,

and

somebody

asks

me

where

I'm

going,

I'm

liable

to

say

I'm

going

to

the

opera.

It's

terrible.

So

when

I

told

old

Spencer

I

had

to

go

to

the

gym

and

get

my

equipment

and

stuff,

that

was

a

sheer

lie.

I

don't

even

keep

my

goddam

equipment

in

the

gym.

Where

I

lived

at

Pencey,

I

lived

in

the

Ossenburger

Memorial

Wing

of

the

new

dorms.

It

was

only

for

juniors

and

seniors.

I

was

a

junior.

My

roommate

was

a

senior.

It

was

named

after

this

guy

Ossenburger

that

went

to

Pencey.

He

made

a

pot

of

dough

in

the

undertaking

business

after

he

got

out

of

Pencey.

What

he

did,

he

started

these

undertaking

parlors

all

over

the

country

that

you

could

get

members

of

your

family

buried

for

about

five

bucks

apiece.

You

should

see

old

Ossenburger.

He

probably

just

shoves

them

in

a

sack

and

dumps

them

in

the

river.

Anyway,

he

gave

Pencey

a

pile

of

dough,

and

they

named

our

wing

alter

him.

The

first

football

game

of

the

year,

he

came

up

to

school

in

this

big

goddam

Cadillac,

and

we

all

had

to

stand

up

in

the

grandstand

and

give

him

a

locomotive--that's

a

cheer.

Then,

the

next

morning,

in

chapel,

be

made

a

speech

that

lasted

about

ten

hours.

He

started

off

with

about

fifty

corny

jokes,

just

to

show

us

what

a

regular

guy

he

was.

Very

big

deal.

Then

he

started

telling

us

how

he

was

never

ashamed,

when

he

was

in

some

kind

of

trouble

or

something,

to

get

right

down

his

knees

and

pray

to

God.

He

told

us

we

should

always

pray

to

God--talk

to

Him

and

all--

wherever

we

were.

He

told

us

we

ought

to

think

of

Jesus

as

our

buddy

and

all.

He

said

he

talked

to

Jesus

all

the

time.

Even

when

he

was

driving

his

car.

That

killed

me.

I

just

see

the

big

phony

bastard

shifting

into

first

gear

and

asking

Jesus

to

send

him

a

few

more

stiffs.

The

only

good

part

of

his

speech

was

right

in

the

middle

of

it.

He

was

telling

us

all

about

what

a

swell

guy

he

was,

what

a

hot-shot

and

all,

then

all

of

a

sudden

this

guy

sitting

in

the

row

in

front

of

me,

Edgar

Marsalla,

laid

this

terrific

fart.

It

was

a

very

crude

thing

to

do,

in

chapel

and

all,

but

it

was

also

quite

amusing.

Old

Marsalla.

He

damn

near

blew

the

roof

off.

Hardly

anybody

laughed

out

loud,

and

old

Ossenburger

made

out

like

he

didn't

even

hear

it,

but

old

Thurmer,

the

headmaster,

was

sitting

right

next

to

him

on

the

rostrum

and

all,

and

you

could

tell

he

heard

it.

Boy,

was

he

sore.

He

didn't

say

anything

then,

but

the

next

night

he

made

us

have

compulsory

study

hall

in

the

academic

building

and

he

came

up

and

made

a

speech.

He

said

that

the

boy

that

had

created

the

disturbance

in

chapel

wasn't

fit

to

go

to

Pencey.

We

tried

to

get

old

Marsalla

to

rip

off

another

one,

right

while

old

Thurmer

was

making

his

speech,

but

be

wasn't

in

the

right

mood.

Anyway,

that's

where

I

lived

at

Pencey.

Old

Ossenburger

Memorial

Wing,

in

the

new

dorms.

It

was

pretty

nice

to

get

back

to

my

room,

after

I

left

old

Spencer,

because

everybody

was

down

at

the

game,

and

the

heat

was

on

in

our

room,

for

a

change.

It

felt

sort

of

cosy.

I

took

off

my

coat

and

my

tie

and

unbuttoned

my

shirt

collar;

and

then

I

put

on

this

hat

that

I'd

bought

in

New

York

that

morning.

It

was

this

red

hunting

hat,

with

one

of

those

very,

very

long

peaks.

I

saw

it

in

the

window

of

this

sports

store

when

we

got

out

of

the

subway,

just

after

I

noticed

I'd

lost

all

the

goddam

foils.

It

only

cost

me

a

buck.

The

way

I

wore

it,

I

swung

the

old

peak

way

around

to

the

back--very

corny,

I'll

admit,

but

I

liked

it

that

way.

I

looked

good

in

it

that

way.

Then

I

got

this

book

I

was

reading

and

sat

down

in

my

chair.

There

were

two

chairs

in

every

room.

I

had

one

and

my

roommate,

Ward

Stradlater,

had

one.

The

arms

were

in

sad

shape,

because

everybody

was

always

sitting

on

them,

but

they

were

pretty

comfortable

chairs.

The

book

I

was

reading

was

this

book

I

took

out

of

the

library

by

mistake.

They

gave

me

the

wrong

book,

and

I

didn't

notice

it

till

I

got

back

to

my

room.

They

gave

me

Out

of

Africa,

by

Isak

Dinesen.

I

thought

it

was

going

to

stink,

but

it

didn't.

It

was

a

very

good

book.

I'm

quite

illiterate,

but

I

read

a

lot.

My

favorite

author

is

my

brother

D.B.,

and

my

next

favorite

is

Ring

Lardner.

My

brother

gave

me

a

book

by

Ring

Lardner

for

my

birthday,

just

before

I

went

to

Pencey.

It

had

these

very

funny,

crazy

plays

in

it,

and

then

it

had

this

one

story

about

a

traffic

cop

that

falls

in

love

with

this

very

cute

girl

that's

always

speeding.

Only,

he's

married,

the

cop,

so

be

can't

marry

her

or

anything.

Then

this

girl

gets

killed,

because

she's

always

speeding.

That

story

just

about

killed

me.

What

I

like

best

is

a

book

that's

at

least

funny

once

in

a

while.

I

read

a

lot

of

classical

books,

like

The

Return

of

the

Native

and

all,

and

I

like

them,

and

I

read

a

lot

of

war

books

and

mysteries

and

all,

but

they

don't

knock

me

out

too

much.

What

really

knocks

me

out

is

a

book

that,

when

you're

all

done

reading

it,

you

wish

the

author

that

wrote

it

was

a

terrific

friend

of

yours

and

you

could

call

him

up

on

the

phone

whenever

you

felt

like

it.

That

doesn't

happen

much,

though.

I

wouldn't

mind

calling

this

Isak

Dinesen

up.

And

Ring

Lardner,

except

that

D.B.

told

me

he's

dead.

You

take

that

book

Of

Human

Bondage,

by

Somerset

Maugham,

though.

I

read

it

last

summer.

It's

a

pretty

good

book

and

all,

but

I

wouldn't

want

to

call

Somerset

Maugham

up.

I

don't

know,

He

just

isn't

the

kind

of

guy

I'd

want

to

call

up,

that's

all.

I'd

rather

call

old

Thomas

Hardy

up.

I

like

that

Eustacia

Vye.

Anyway,

I

put

on

my

new

hat

and

sat

down

and

started

reading

that

book

Out

of

Africa.

I'd

read

it

already,

but

I

wanted

to

read

certain

parts

over

again.

I'd

only

read

about

three

pages,

though,

when

I

heard

somebody

coming

through

the

shower

curtains.

Even

without

looking

up,

I

knew

right

away

who

it

was.

It

was

Robert

Ackley,

this

guy

that

roomed

right

next

to

me.

There

was

a

shower

right

between

every

two

rooms

in

our

wing,

and

about

eighty-five

times

a

day

old

Ackley

barged

in

on

me.

He

was

probably

the

only

guy

in

the

whole

dorm,

besides

me,

that

wasn't

down

at

the

game.

He

hardly

ever

went

anywhere.

He

was

a

very

peculiar

guy.

He

was

a

senior,

and

he'd

been

at

Pencey

the

whole

four

years

and

all,

but

nobody

ever

called

him

anything

except

"Ackley."

Not

even

Herb

Gale,

his

own

roommate,

ever

called

him

"Bob"

or

even

"Ack."

If

he

ever

gets

married,

his

own

wife'll

probably

call

him

"Ackley."

He

was

one

of

these

very,

very

tall,

round-shouldered

guys--he

was

about

six

four--with

lousy

teeth.

The

whole

time

he

roomed

next

to

me,

I

never

even

once

saw

him

brush

his

teeth.

They

always

looked

mossy

and

awful,

and

he

damn

near

made

you

sick

if

you

saw

him

in

the

dining

room

with

his

mouth

full

of

mashed

potatoes

and

peas

or

something.

Besides

that,

he

had

a

lot

of

pimples.

Not

just

on

his

forehead

or

his

chin,

like

most

guys,

but

all

over

his

whole

face.

And

not

only

that,

he

had

a

terrible

personality.

He

was

also

sort

of

a

nasty

guy.

I

wasn't

too

crazy

about

him,

to

tell

you

the

truth.

I

could

feel

him

standing

on

the

shower

ledge,

right

behind

my

chair,

taking

a

look

to

see

if

Stradlater

was

around.

He

hated

Stradlater's

guts

and

he

never

came

in

the

room

if

Stradlater

was

around.

He

hated

everybody's

guts,

damn

near.

He

came

down

off

the

shower

ledge

and

came

in

the

room.

"Hi,"

he

said.

He

always

said

it

like

he

was

terrifically

bored

or

terrifically

tired.

He

didn't

want

you

to

think

he

was

visiting

you

or

anything.

He

wanted

you

to

think

he'd

come

in

by

mistake,

for

God's

sake.

"Hi,"

I

said,

but

I

didn't

look

up

from

my

book.

With

a

guy

like

Ackley,

if

you

looked

up

from

your

book

you

were

a

goner.

You

were

a

goner

anyway,

but

not

as

quick

if

you

didn't

look

up

right

away.

He

started

walking

around

the

room,

very

slow

and

all,

the

way

he

always

did,

picking

up

your

personal

stuff

off

your

desk

and

chiffonier.

He

always

picked

up

your

personal

stuff

and

looked

at

it.

Boy,

could

he

get

on

your

nerves

sometimes.

"How

was

the

fencing?"

he

said.

He

just

wanted

me

to

quit

reading

and

enjoying

myself.

He

didn't

give

a

damn

about

the

fencing.

"We

win,

or

what?"

he

said.

"Nobody

won,"

I

said.

Without

looking

up,

though.

"What?"

he

said.

He

always

made

you

say

everything

twice.

"Nobody

won,"

I

said.

I

sneaked

a

look

to

see

what

he

was

fiddling

around

with

on

my

chiffonier.

He

was

looking

at

this

picture

of

this

girl

I

used

to

go

around

with

in

New

York,

Sally

Hayes.

He

must've

picked

up

that

goddam

picture

and

looked

at

it

at

least

five

thousand

times

since

I

got

it.

He

always

put

it

back

in

the

wrong

place,

too,

when

he

was

finished.

He

did

it

on

purpose.

You

could

tell.

"Nobody

won,"

he

said.

"How

come?"

"I

left

the

goddam

foils

and

stuff

on

the

subway."

I

still

didn't

look

up

at

him.

"On

the

subway,

for

Chrissake!

Ya

lost

them,

ya

mean?"

"We

got

on

the

wrong

subway.

I

had

to

keep

getting

up

to

look

at

a

goddam

map

on

the

wall."

He

came

over

and

stood

right

in

my

light.

"Hey,"

I

said.

"I've

read

this

same

sentence

about

twenty

times

since

you

came

in."

Anybody

else

except

Ackley

would've

taken

the

goddam

hint.

Not

him,

though.

"Think

they'll

make

ya

pay

for

em?"

he

said.

"I

don't

know,

and

I

don't

give

a

damn.

How

'bout

sitting

down

or

something,

Ackley

kid?

You're

right

in

my

goddam

light."

He

didn't

like

it

when

you

called

him

"Ackley

kid."

He

was

always

telling

me

I

was

a

goddam

kid,

because

I

was

sixteen

and

he

was

eighteen.

It

drove

him

mad

when

I

called

him

"Ackley

kid."

He

kept

standing

there.

He

was

exactly

the

kind

of

a

guy

that

wouldn't

get

out

of

your

light

when

you

asked

him

to.

He'd

do

it,

finally,

but

it

took

him

a

lot

longer

if

you

asked

him

to.

"What

the

hellya

reading?"

he

said.

"Goddam

book."

He

shoved

my

book

back

with

his

hand

so

that

he

could

see

the

name

of

it.

"Any

good?"

he

said.

"This

sentence

I'm

reading

is

terrific."

I

can

be

quite

sarcastic

when

I'm

in

the

mood.

He

didn't

get

It,

though.

He

started

walking

around

the

room

again,

picking

up

all

my

personal

stuff,

and

Stradlater's.

Finally,

I

put

my

book

down

on

the

floor.

You

couldn't

read

anything

with

a

guy

like

Ackley

around.

It

was

impossible.

I

slid

way

the

hell

down

in

my

chair

and

watched

old

Ackley

making

himself

at

home.

I

was

feeling

sort

of

tired

from

the

trip

to

New

York

and

all,

and

I

started

yawning.

Then

I

started

horsing

around

a

little

bit.

Sometimes

I

horse

around

quite

a

lot,

just

to

keep

from

getting

bored.

What

I

did

was,

I

pulled

the

old

peak

of

my

hunting

hat

around

to

the

front,

then

pulled

it

way

down

over

my

eyes.

That

way,

I

couldn't

see

a

goddam

thing.

"I

think

I'm

going

blind,"

I

said

in

this

very

hoarse

voice.

"Mother

darling,

everything's

getting

so

dark

in

here."

"You're

nuts.

I

swear

to

God,"

Ackley

said.

"Mother

darling,

give

me

your

hand,

Why

won't

you

give

me

your

hand?"

"For

Chrissake,

grow

up."

I

started

groping

around

in

front

of

me,

like

a

blind

guy,

but

without

getting

up

or

anything.

I

kept

saying,

"Mother

darling,

why

won't

you

give

me

your

hand?"

I

was

only

horsing

around,

naturally.

That

stuff

gives

me

a

bang

sometimes.

Besides,

I

know

it

annoyed

hell

out

of

old

Ackley.

He

always

brought

out

the

old

sadist

in

me.

I

was

pretty

sadistic

with

him

quite

often.

Finally,

I

quit,

though.

I

pulled

the

peak

around

to

the

back

again,

and

relaxed.

"Who

belongsa

this?"

Ackley

said.

He

was

holding

my

roommate's

knee

supporter

up

to

show

me.

That

guy

Ackley'd

pick

up

anything.

He'd

even

pick

up

your

jock

strap

or

something.

I

told

him

it

was

Stradlater's.

So

he

chucked

it

on

Stradlater's

bed.

He

got

it

off

Stradlater's

chiffonier,

so

he

chucked

it

on

the

bed.

He

came

over

and

sat

down

on

the

arm

of

Stradlater's

chair.

He

never

sat

down

in

a

chair.

Just

always

on

the

arm.

"Where

the

hellja

get

that

hat?"

he

said.

"New

York."

"How

much?"

"A

buck."

"You

got

robbed."

He

started

cleaning

his

goddam

fingernails

with

the

end

of

a

match.

He

was

always

cleaning

his

fingernails.

It

was

funny,

in

a

way.

His

teeth

were

always

mossy-looking,

and

his

ears

were

always

dirty

as

hell,

but

he

was

always

cleaning

his

fingernails.

I

guess

he

thought

that

made

him

a

very

neat

guy.

He

took

another

look

at

my

hat

while

he

was

cleaning

them.

"Up

home

we

wear

a

hat

like

that

to

shoot

deer

in,

for

Chrissake,"

he

said.

"That's

a

deer

shooting

hat."

"Like

hell

it

is."

I

took

it

off

and

looked

at

it.

I

sort

of

closed

one

eye,

like

I

was

taking

aim

at

it.

"This

is

a

people

shooting

hat,"

I

said.

"I

shoot

people

in

this

hat."

"Your

folks

know

you

got

kicked

out

yet?"

"Nope."

"Where

the

hell's

Stradlater

at,

anyway?"

"Down

at

the

game.

He's

got

a

date."

I

yawned.

I

was

yawning

all

over

the

place.

For

one

thing,

the

room

was

too

damn

hot.

It

made

you

sleepy.

At

Pencey,

you

either

froze

to

death

or

died

of

the

heat.

"The

great

Stradlater,"

Ackley

said.

"--Hey.

Lend

me

your

scissors

a

second,

willya?

Ya

got

'em

handy?"

"No.

I

packed

them

already.

They're

way

in

the

top

of

the

closet."

"Get

'em

a

second,

willya?"

Ackley

said,

"I

got

this

hangnail

I

want

to

cut

off."

He

didn't

care

if

you'd

packed

something

or

not

and

had

it

way

in

the

top

of

the

closet.

I

got

them

for

him

though.

I

nearly

got

killed

doing

it,

too.

The

second

I

opened

the

closet

door,

Stradlater's

tennis

racket--in

its

wooden

press

and

all--fell

right

on

my

head.

It

made

a

big

clunk,

and

it

hurt

like

hell.

It

damn

near

killed

old

Ackley,

though.

He

started

laughing

in

this

very

high

falsetto

voice.

He

kept

laughing

the

whole

time

I

was

taking

down

my

suitcase

and

getting

the

scissors

out

for

him.

Something

like

that--a

guy

getting

hit

on

the

head

with

a

rock

or

something--tickled

the

pants

off

Ackley.

"You

have

a

damn

good

sense

of

humor,

Ackley

kid,"

I

told

him.

"You

know

that?"

I

handed

him

the

scissors.

"Lemme

be

your

manager.

I'll

get

you

on

the

goddam

radio."

I

sat

down

in

my

chair

again,

and

he

started

cutting

his

big

horny-looking

nails.

"How

'bout

using

the

table

or

something?"

I

said.

"Cut

'em

over

the

table,

willya?

I

don't

feel

like

walking

on

your

crumby

nails

in

my

bare

feet

tonight."

He

kept

right

on

cutting

them

over

the

floor,

though.

What

lousy

manners.

I

mean

it.

"Who's

Stradlater's

date?"

he

said.

He

was

always

keeping

tabs

on

who

Stradlater

was

dating,

even

though

he

hated

Stradlater's

guts.

"I

don't

know.

Why?"

"No

reason.

Boy,

I

can't

stand

that

sonuvabitch.

He's

one

sonuvabitch

I

really

can't

stand."

"He's

crazy

about

you.

He

told

me

he

thinks

you're

a

goddam

prince,"

I

said.

I

call

people

a

"prince"

quite

often

when

I'm

horsing

around.

It

keeps

me

from

getting

bored

or

something.

"He's

got

this

superior

attitude

all

the

time,"

Ackley

said.

"I

just

can't

stand

the

sonuvabitch.

You'd

think

he--"

"Do

you

mind

cutting

your

nails

over

the

table,

hey?"

I

said.

"I've

asked

you

about

fifty--"

"He's

got

this

goddam

superior

attitude

all

the

time,"

Ackley

said.

"I

don't

even

think

the

sonuvabitch

is

intelligent.

He

thinks

he

is.

He

thinks

he's

about

the

most--"

"Ackley!

For

Chrissake.

Willya

please

cut

your

crumby

nails

over

the

table?

I've

asked

you

fifty

times."

He

started

cutting

his

nails

over

the

table,

for

a

change.

The

only

way

he

ever

did

anything

was

if

you

yelled

at

him.

I

watched

him

for

a

while.

Then

I

said,

"The

reason

you're

sore

at

Stradlater

is

because

he

said

that

stuff

about

brushing

your

teeth

once

in

a

while.

He

didn't

mean

to

insult

you,

for

cryin'

out

loud.

He

didn't

say

it

right

or

anything,

but

he

didn't

mean

anything

insulting.

All

he

meant

was

you'd

look

better

and

feel

better

if

you

sort

of

brushed

your

teeth

once

in

a

while."

"I

brush

my

teeth.

Don't

gimme

that."

"No,

you

don't.

I've

seen

you,

and

you

don't,"

I

said.

I

didn't

say

it

nasty,

though.

I

felt

sort

of

sorry

for

him,

in

a

way.

I

mean

it

isn't

too

nice,

naturally,

if

somebody

tells

you

you

don't

brush

your

teeth.

"Stradlater's

all

right

He's

not

too

bad,"

I

said.

"You

don't

know

him,

thats

the

trouble."

"I

still

say

he's

a

sonuvabitch.

He's

a

conceited

sonuvabitch."

"He's

conceited,

but

he's

very

generous

in

some

things.

He

really

is,"

I

said.

"Look.

Suppose,

for

instance,

Stradlater

was

wearing

a

tie

or

something

that

you

liked.

Say

he

had

a

tie

on

that

you

liked

a

helluva

lot--I'm

just

giving

you

an

example,

now.

You

know

what

he'd

do?

He'd

probably

take

it

off

and

give

it

ta

you.

He

really

would.

Or--you

know

what

he'd

do?

He'd

leave

it

on

your

bed

or

something.

But

he'd

give

you

the

goddam

tie.

Most

guys

would

probably

just--"

"Hell,"

Ackley

said.

"If

I

had

his

dough,

I

would,

too."

"No,

you

wouldn't."

I

shook

my

head.

"No,

you

wouldn't,

Ackley

kid.

If

you

had

his

dough,

you'd

be

one

of

the

biggest--"

"Stop

calling

me

'Ackley

kid,'

God

damn

it.

I'm

old

enough

to

be

your

lousy

father."

"No,

you're

not."

Boy,

he

could

really

be

aggravating

sometimes.

He

never

missed

a

chance

to

let

you

know

you

were

sixteen

and

he

was

eighteen.

"In

the

first

place,

I

wouldn't

let

you

in

my

goddam

family,"

I

said.

"Well,

just

cut

out

calling

me--"

All

of

a

sudden

the

door

opened,

and

old

Stradlater

barged

in,

in

a

big

hurry.

He

was

always

in

a

big

hurry.

Everything

was

a

very

big

deal.

He

came

over

to

me

and

gave

me

these

two

playful

as

hell

slaps

on

both

cheeks--which

is

something

that

can

be

very

annoying.

'Listen,"

he

said.

"You

going

out

anywheres

special

tonight?"

"I

don't

know.

I

might.

What

the

hell's

it

doing

out--snowing?"

He

had

snow

all

over

his

coat.

"Yeah.

Listen.

If

you're

not

going

out

anyplace

special,

how

'bout

lending

me

your

hound's-tooth

jacket?"

"Who

won

the

game?"

I

said.

"It's

only

the

half.

We're

leaving,"

Stradlater

said.

"No

kidding,

you

gonna

use

your

hound's-tooth

tonight

or

not?

I

spilled

some

crap

all

over

my

gray

flannel."

"No,

but

I

don't

want

you

stretching

it

with

your

goddam

shoulders

and

all,"

I

said.

We

were

practically

the

same

heighth,

but

he

weighed

about

twice

as

much

as

I

did.

He

had

these

very

broad

shoulders.

"I

won't

stretch

it."

He

went

over

to

the

closet

in

a

big

hurry.

"How'sa

boy,

Ackley?"

he

said

to

Ackley.

He

was

at

least

a

pretty

friendly

guy,

Stradlater.

It

was

partly

a

phony

kind

of

friendly,

but

at

least

he

always

said

hello

to

Ackley

and

all.

Ackley

just

sort

of

grunted

when

he

said

"How'sa

boy?"

He

wouldn't

answer

him,

but

he

didn't

have

guts

enough

not

to

at

least

grunt.

Then

he

said

to

me,

"I

think

I'll

get

going.

See

ya

later."

"Okay,"

I

said.

He

never

exactly

broke

your

heart

when

he

went

back

to

his

own

room.

Old

Stradlater

started

taking

off

his

coat

and

tie

and

all.

"I

think

maybe

I'll

take

a

fast

shave,"

he

said.

He

had

a

pretty

heavy

beard.

He

really

did.

"Where's

your

date?"

I

asked

him.

"She's

waiting

in

the

Annex."

He

went

out

of

the

room

with

his

toilet

kit

and

towel

under

his

arm.

No

shirt

on

or

anything.

He

always

walked

around

in

his

bare

torso

because

he

thought

he

had

a

damn

good

build.

He

did,

too.

I

have

to

admit

it.

4

I

didn't

have

anything

special

to

do,

so

I

went

down

to

the

can

and

chewed

the

rag

with

him

while

he

was

shaving.

We

were

the

only

ones

in

the

can,

because

everybody

was

still

down

at

the

game.

It

was

hot

as

hell

and

the

windows

were

all

steamy.

There

were

about

ten

washbowls,

all

right

against

the

wall.

Stradlater

had

the

middle

one.

I

sat

down

on

the

one

right

next

to

him

and

started

turning

the

cold

water

on

and

off--this

nervous

habit

I

have.

Stradlater

kept

whistling

'Song

of

India"

while

he

shaved.

He

had

one

of

those

very

piercing

whistles

that

are

practically

never

in

tune,

and

he

always

picked

out

some

song

that's

hard

to

whistle

even

if

you're

a

good

whistler,

like

"Song

of

India"

or

"Slaughter

on

Tenth

Avenue."

He

could

really

mess

a

song

up.

You

remember

I

said

before

that

Ackley

was

a

slob

in

his

personal

habits?

Well,

so

was

Stradlater,

but

in

a

different

way.

Stradlater

was

more

of

a

secret

slob.

He

always

looked

all

right,

Stradlater,

but

for

instance,

you

should've

seen

the

razor

he

shaved

himself

with.

It

was

always

rusty

as

hell

and

full

of

lather

and

hairs

and

crap.

He

never

cleaned

it

or

anything.

He

always

looked

good

when

he

was

finished

fixing

himself

up,

but

he

was

a

secret

slob

anyway,

if

you

knew

him

the

way

I

did.

The

reason

he

fixed

himself

up

to

look

good

was

because

he

was

madly

in

love

with

himself.

He

thought

he

was

the

handsomest

guy

in

the

Western

Hemisphere.

He

was

pretty

handsome,

too--I'll

admit

it.

But

he

was

mostly

the

kind

of

a

handsome

guy

that

if

your

parents

saw

his

picture

in

your

Year

Book,

they'd

right

away

say,

"Who's

this

boy?"

I

mean

he

was

mostly

a

Year

Book

kind

of

handsome

guy.

I

knew

a

lot

of

guys

at

Pencey

I

thought

were

a

lot

handsomer

than

Stradlater,

but

they

wouldn't

look

handsome

if

you

saw

their

pictures

in

the

Year

Book.

They'd

look

like

they

had

big

noses

or

their

ears

stuck

out.

I've

had

that

experience

frequently.

Anyway,

I

was

sitting

on

the

washbowl

next

to

where

Stradlater

was

shaving,

sort

of

turning

the

water

on

and

off.

I

still

had

my

red

hunting

hat

on,

with

the

peak

around

to

the

back

and

all.

I

really

got

a

bang

out

of

that

hat.

"Hey,"

Stradlater

said.

"Wanna

do

me

a

big

favor?"

"What?"

I

said.

Not

too

enthusiastic.

He

was

always

asking

you

to

do

him

a

big

favor.

You

take

a

very

handsome

guy,

or

a

guy

that

thinks

he's

a

real

hot-shot,

and

they're

always

asking

you

to

do

them

a

big

favor.

Just

because

they're

crazy

about

themseif,

they

think

you're

crazy

about

them,

too,

and

that

you're

just

dying

to

do

them

a

favor.

It's

sort

of

funny,

in

a

way.

"You

goin'

out

tonight?"

he

said.

"I

might.

I

might

not.

I

don't

know.

Why?"

"I

got

about

a

hundred

pages

to

read

for

history

for

Monday,"

he

said.

"How

'bout

writing

a

composition

for

me,

for

English?

I'll

be

up

the

creek

if

I

don't

get

the

goddam

thing

in

by

Monday,

the

reason

I

ask.

How

'bout

it?"

It

was

very

ironical.

It

really

was.

"I'm

the

one

that's

flunking

out

of

the

goddam

place,

and

you're

asking

me

to

write

you

a

goddam

composition,"

I

said.

"Yeah,

I

know.

The

thing

is,

though,

I'll

be

up

the

creek

if

I

don't

get

it

in.

Be

a

buddy.

Be

a

buddyroo.

Okay?"

I

didn't

answer

him

right

away.

Suspense

is

good

for

some

bastards

like

Stradlater.

"What

on?"

I

said.

"Anything.

Anything

descriptive.

A

room.

Or

a

house.

Or

something

you

once

lived

in

or

something--

you

know.

Just

as

long

as

it's

descriptive

as

hell."

He

gave

out

a

big

yawn

while

he

said

that.

Which

is

something

that

gives

me

a

royal

pain

in

the

ass.

I

mean

if

somebody

yawns

right

while

they're

asking

you

to

do

them

a

goddam

favor.

"Just

don't

do

it

too

good,

is

all,"

he

said.

"That

sonuvabitch

Hartzell

thinks

you're

a

hot-shot

in

English,

and

he

knows

you're

my

roommate.

So

I

mean

don't

stick

all

the

commas

and

stuff

in

the

right

place."

That's

something

else

that

gives

me

a

royal

pain.

I

mean

if

you're

good

at

writing

compositions

and

somebody

starts

talking

about

commas.

Stradlater

was

always

doing

that.

He

wanted

you

to

think

that

the

only

reason

he

was

lousy

at

writing

compositions

was

because

he

stuck

all

the

commas

in

the

wrong

place.

He

was

a

little

bit

like

Ackley,

that

way.

I

once

sat

next

to

Ackley

at

this

basketball

game.

We

had

a

terrific

guy

on

the

team,

Howie

Coyle,

that

could

sink

them

from

the

middle

of

the

floor,

without

even

touching

the

backboard

or

anything.

Ackley

kept

saying,

the

whole

goddam

game,

that

Coyle

had

a

perfect

build

for

basketball.

God,

how

I

hate

that

stuff.

I

got

bored

sitting

on

that

washbowl

after

a

while,

so

I

backed

up

a

few

feet

and

started

doing

this

tap

dance,

just

for

the

hell

of

it.

I

was

just

amusing

myself.

I

can't

really

tap-dance

or

anything,

but

it

was

a

stone

floor

in

the

can,

and

it

was

good

for

tap-dancing.

I

started

imitating

one

of

those

guys

in

the

movies.

In

one

of

those

musicals.

I

hate

the

movies

like

poison,

but

I

get

a

bang

imitating

them.

Old

Stradlater

watched

me

in

the

mirror

while

he

was

shaving.

All

I

need's

an

audience.

I'm

an

exhibitionist.

"I'm

the

goddarn

Governor's

son,"

I

said.

I

was

knocking

myself

out.

Tap-dancing

all

over

the

place.

"He

doesn't

want

me

to

be

a

tap

dancer.

He

wants

me

to

go

to

Oxford.

But

it's

in

my

goddam

blood,

tap-dancing."

Old

Stradlater

laughed.

He

didn't

have

too

bad

a

sense

of

humor.

"It's

the

opening

night

of

the

Ziegfeld

Follies."

I

was

getting

out

of

breath.

I

have

hardly

any

wind

at

all.

"The

leading

man

can't

go

on.

He's

drunk

as

a

bastard.

So

who

do

they

get

to

take

his

place?

Me,

that's

who.

The

little

ole

goddam

Governor's

son."

"Where'dja

get

that

hat?"

Stradlater

said.

He

meant

my

hunting

hat.

He'd

never

seen

it

before.

I

was

out

of

breath

anyway,

so

I

quit

horsing

around.

I

took

off

my

hat

and

looked

at

it

for

about

the

ninetieth

time.

"I

got

it

in

New

York

this

morning.

For

a

buck.

Ya

like

it?"

Stradlater

nodded.

"Sharp,"

he

said.

He

was

only

flattering

me,

though,

because

right

away

he

said,

"Listen.

Are

ya

gonna

write

that

composition

for

me?

I

have

to

know."

"If

I

get

the

time,

I

will.

If

I

don't,

I

won't,"

I

said.

I

went

over

and

sat

down

at

the

washbowl

next

to

him

again.

"Who's

your

date?"

I

asked

him.

"Fitzgerald?"

"Hell,

no!

I

told

ya.

I'm

through

with

that

pig."

"Yeah?

Give

her

to

me,

boy.

No

kidding.

She's

my

type."

"Take

her

.

.

.

She's

too

old

for

you."

All

of

a

sudden--for

no

good

reason,

really,

except

that

I

was

sort

of

in

the

mood

for

horsing

around--I

felt

like

jumping

off

the

washbowl

and

getting

old

Stradlater

in

a

half

nelson.

That's

a

wrestling

hold,

in

case

you

don't

know,

where

you

get

the

other

guy

around

the

neck

and

choke

him

to

death,

if

you

feel

like

it.

So

I

did

it.

I

landed

on

him

like

a

goddam

panther.

"Cut

it

out,

Holden,

for

Chrissake!"

Stradlater

said.

He

didn't

feel

like

horsing

around.

He

was

shaving

and

all.

"Wuddaya

wanna

make

me

do--cut

my

goddam

head

off?"

I

didn't

let

go,

though.

I

had

a

pretty

good

half

nelson

on

him.

"Liberate

yourself

from

my

viselike

grip."

I

said.

"Je-sus

Christ."

He

put

down

his

razor,

and

all

of

a

sudden

jerked

his

arms

up

and

sort

of

broke

my

hold

on

him.

He

was

a

very

strong

guy.

I'm

a

very

weak

guy.

"Now,

cut

out

the

crap,"

he

said.

He

started

shaving

himself

all

over

again.

He

always

shaved

himself

twice,

to

look

gorgeous.

With

his

crumby

old

razor.

"Who

is

your

date

if

it

isn't

Fitzgerald?"

I

asked

him.

I

sat

down

on

the

washbowl

next

to

him

again.

"That

Phyllis

Smith

babe?"

"No.

It

was

supposed

to

he,

but

the

arrangements

got

all

screwed

up.

I

got

Bud

Thaw's

girl's

roommate

now

.

.

.

Hey.

I

almost

forgot.

She

knows

you."

"Who

does?"

I

said.

"My

date."

"Yeah?"

I

said.

"What's

her

name?"

I

was

pretty

interested.

"I'm

thinking

.

.

.

Uh.

Jean

Gallagher."

Boy,

I

nearly

dropped

dead

when

he

said

that.

"Jane

Gallagher,"

I

said.

I

even

got

up

from

the

washbowl

when

he

said

that.

I

damn

near

dropped

dead.

"You're

damn

right

I

know

her.

She

practically

lived

right

next

door

to

me,

the

summer

before

last.

She

had

this

big

damn

Doberman

pinscher.

That's

how

I

met

her.

Her

dog

used

to

keep

coming

over

in

our--"

"You're

right

in

my

light,

Holden,

for

Chrissake,"

Stradlater

said.

"Ya

have

to

stand

right

there?"

Boy,

was

I

excited,

though.

I

really

was.

"Where

is

she?"

I

asked

him.

"I

oughta

go

down

and

say

hello

to

her

or

something.

Where

is

she?

In

the

Annex?"

"Yeah."

"How'd

she

happen

to

mention

me?

Does

she

go

to

B.M.

now?

She

said

she

might

go

there.

She

said

she

might

go

to

Shipley,

too.

I

thought

she

went

to

Shipley.

How'd

she

happen

to

mention

me?"

I

was

pretty

excited.

I

really

was.

"I

don't

know,

for

Chrissake.

Lift

up,

willya?

You're

on

my

towel,"

Stradlater

said.

I

was

sitting

on

his

stupid

towel.

"Jane

Gallagher,"

I

said.

I

couldn't

get

over

it.

"Jesus

H.

Christ."

Old

Stradlater

was

putting

Vitalis

on

his

hair.

My

Vitalis.

"She's

a

dancer,"

I

said.

"Ballet

and

all.

She

used

to

practice

about

two

hours

every

day,

right

in

the

middle

of

the

hottest

weather

and

all.

She

was

worried

that

it

might

make

her

legs

lousy--all

thick

and

all.

I

used

to

play

checkers

with

her

all

the

time."

"You

used

to

play

what

with

her

all

the

time?"

"Checkers."

"Checkers,

for

Chrissake!"

"Yeah.

She

wouldn't

move

any

of

her

kings.

What

she'd

do,

when

she'd

get

a

king,

she

wouldn't

move

it.

She'd

just

leave

it

in

the

back

row.

She'd

get

them

all

lined

up

in

the

back

row.

Then

she'd

never

use

them.

She

just

liked

the

way

they

looked

when

they

were

all

in

the

back

row."

Stradlater

didn't

say

anything.

That

kind

of

stuff

doesn't

interest

most

people.

"Her

mother

belonged

to

the

same

club

we

did,"

I

said.

"I

used

to

caddy

once

in

a

while,

just

to

make

some

dough.

I

caddy'd

for

her

mother

a

couple

of

times.

She

went

around

in

about

a

hundred

and

seventy,

for

nine

holes."

Stradlater

wasn't

hardly

listening.

He

was

combing

his

gorgeous

locks.

"I

oughta

go

down

and

at

least

say

hello

to

her,"

I

said.

"Why

don'tcha?"

"I

will,

in

a

minute."

He

started

parting

his

hair

all

over

again.

It

took

him

about

an

hour

to

comb

his

hair.

"Her

mother

and

father

were

divorced.

Her

mother

was

married

again

to

some

booze

hound,"

I

said.

"Skinny

guy

with

hairy

legs.

I

remember

him.

He

wore

shorts

all

the

time.

Jane

said

he

was

supposed

to

be

a

playwright

or

some

goddam

thing,

but

all

I

ever

saw

him

do

was

booze

all

the

time

and

listen

to

every

single

goddam

mystery

program

on

the

radio.

And

run

around

the

goddam

house,

naked.

With

Jane

around,

and

all."

"Yeah?"

Stradlater

said.

That

really

interested

him.

About

the

booze

hound

running

around

the

house

naked,

with

Jane

around.

Stradlater

was

a

very

sexy

bastard.

"She

had

a

lousy

childhood.

I'm

not

kidding."

That

didn't

interest

Stradlater,

though.

Only

very

sexy

stuff

interested

him.

"Jane

Gallagher.

Jesus

.

.

.

I

couldn't

get

her

off

my

mind.

I

really

couldn't.

"I

oughta

go

down

and

say

hello

to

her,

at

least."

"Why

the

hell

don'tcha,

instead

of

keep

saying

it?"

Stradlater

said.

I

walked

over

to

the

window,

but

you

couldn't

see

out

of

it,

it

was

so

steamy

from

all

the

heat

in

the

can..

"I'm

not

in

the

mood

right

now,"

I

said.

I

wasn't,

either.

You

have

to

be

in

the

mood

for

those

things.

"I

thought

she

went

to

Shipley.

I

could've

sworn

she

went

to

Shipley."

I

walked

around

the

can

for

a

little

while.

I

didn't

have

anything

else

to

do.

"Did

she

enjoy

the

game?"

I

said.

"Yeah,

I

guess

so.

I

don't

know."

"Did

she

tell

you

we

used

to

play

checkers

all

the

time,

or

anything?"

"I

don't

know.

For

Chrissake,

I

only

just

met

her,"

Stradlater

said.

He

was

finished

combing

his

goddam

gorgeous

hair.

He

was

putting

away

all

his

crumby

toilet

articles.

"Listen.

Give

her

my

regards,

willya?"

"Okay,"

Stradlater

said,

but

I

knew

he

probably

wouldn't.

You

take

a

guy

like

Stradlater,

they

never

give

your

regards

to

people.

He

went

back

to

the

room,

but

I

stuck

around

in

the

can

for

a

while,

thinking

about

old

Jane.

Then

I

went

back

to

the

room,

too.

Stradlater

was

putting

on

his

tie,

in

front

of

the

mirror,

when

I

got

there.

He

spent

around

half

his

goddam

life

in

front

of

the

mirror.

I

sat

down

in

my

chair

and

sort

of

watched

him

for

a

while.

"Hey,"

I

said.

"Don't

tell

her

I

got

kicked

out,

willya?"

"Okay."

That

was

one

good

thing

about

Stradlater.

You

didn't

have

to

explain

every

goddam

little

thing

with

him,

the

way

you

had

to

do

with

Ackley.

Mostly,

I

guess,

because

he

wasn't

too

interested.

That's

really

why.

Ackley,

it

was

different.

Ackley

was

a

very

nosy

bastard.

He

put

on

my

hound's-tooth

jacket.

"Jesus,

now,

try

not

to

stretch

it

all

over

the

place"

I

said.

I'd

only

worn

it

about

twice.

"I

won't.

Where

the

hell's

my

cigarettes?"

"On

the

desk."

He

never

knew

where

he

left

anything.

"Under

your

muffler."

He

put

them

in

his

coat

pocket--my

coat

pocket.

I

pulled

the

peak

of

my

hunting

hat

around

to

the

front

all

of

a

sudden,

for

a

change.

I

was

getting

sort

of

nervous,

all

of

a

sudden.

I'm

quite

a

nervous

guy.

"Listen,

where

ya

going

on

your

date

with

her?"

I

asked

him.

"Ya

know

yet?"

"I

don't

know.

New

York,

if

we

have

time.

She

only

signed

out

for

nine-thirty,

for

Chrissake."

I

didn't

like

the

way

he

said

it,

so

I

said,

"The

reason

she

did

that,

she

probably

just

didn't

know

what

a

handsome,

charming

bastard

you

are.

If

she'd

known,

she

probably

would've

signed

out

for

nine-thirty

in

the

morning."

"Goddam

right,"

Stradlater

said.

You

couldn't

rile

him

too

easily.

He

was

too

conceited.

"No

kidding,

now.

Do

that

composition

for

me,"

he

said.

He

had

his

coat

on,

and

he

was

all

ready

to

go.

"Don't

knock

yourself

out

or

anything,

but

just

make

it

descriptive

as

hell.

Okay?"

I

didn't

answer

him.

I

didn't

feel

like

it.

All

I

said

was,

"Ask

her

if

she

still

keeps

all

her

kings

in

the

back

row."

"Okay,"

Stradlater

said,

but

I

knew

he

wouldn't.

"Take

it

easy,

now."

He

banged

the

hell

out

of

the

room.

I

sat

there

for

about

a

half

hour

after

he

left.

I

mean

I

just

sat

in

my

chair,

not

doing

anything.

I

kept

thinking

about

Jane,

and

about

Stradlater

having

a

date

with

her

and

all.

It

made

me

so

nervous

I

nearly

went

crazy.

I

already

told

you

what

a

sexy

bastard

Stradlater

was.

All

of

a

sudden,

Ackley

barged

back

in

again,

through

the

damn

shower

curtains,

as

usual.

For

once

in

my

stupid

life,

I

was

really

glad

to

see

him.

He

took

my

mind

off

the

other

stuff.

He

stuck

around

till

around

dinnertime,

talking

about

all

the

guys

at

Pencey

that

he

hated

their

guts,

and

squeezing

this

big

pimple

on

his

chin.

He

didn't

even

use

his

handkerchief.

I

don't

even

think

the

bastard

had

a

handkerchief,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

I

never

saw

him

use

one,

anyway.

5

We

always

had

the

same

meal

on

Saturday

nights

at

Pencey.

It

was

supposed

to

be

a

big

deal,

because

they

gave

you

steak.

I'll

bet

a

thousand

bucks

the

reason

they

did

that

was

because

a

lot

of

guys'

parents

came

up

to

school

on

Sunday,

and

old

Thurmer

probably

figured

everybody's

mother

would

ask

their

darling

boy

what

he

had

for

dinner

last

night,

and

he'd

say,

"Steak."

What

a

racket.

You

should've

seen

the

steaks.

They

were

these

little

hard,

dry

jobs

that

you

could

hardly

even

cut.

You

always

got

these

very

lumpy

mashed

potatoes

on

steak

night,

and

for

dessert

you

got

Brown

Betty,

which

nobody

ate,

except

maybe

the

little

kids

in

the

lower

school

that

didn't

know

any

better--

and

guys

like

Ackley

that

ate

everything.

It

was

nice,

though,

when

we

got

out

of

the

dining

room.

There

were

about

three

inches

of

snow

on

the

ground,

and

it

was

still

coming

down

like

a

madman.

It

looked

pretty

as

hell,

and

we

all

started

throwing

snowballs

and

horsing

around

all

over

the

place.

It

was

very

childish,

but

everybody

was

really

enjoying

themselves.

I

didn't

have

a

date

or

anything,

so

I

and

this

friend

of

mine,

Mal

Brossard,

that

was

on

the

wrestling

team,

decided

we'd

take

a

bus

into

Agerstown

and

have

a

hamburger

and

maybe

see

a

lousy

movie.

Neither

of

us

felt

like

sitting

around

on

our

ass

all

night.

I

asked

Mal

if

he

minded

if

Ackley

came

along

with

us.

The

reason

I

asked

was

because

Ackley

never

did

anything

on

Saturday

night,

except

stay

in

his

room

and

squeeze

his

pimples

or

something.

Mal

said

he

didn't

mind

but

that

he

wasn't

too

crazy

about

the

idea.

He

didn't

like

Ackley

much.

Anyway,

we

both

went

to

our

rooms

to

get

ready

and

all,

and

while

I

was

putting

on

my

galoshes

and

crap,

I

yelled

over

and

asked

old

Ackley

if

he

wanted

to

go

to

the

movies.

He

could

hear

me

all

right

through

the

shower

curtains,

but

he

didn't

answer

me

right

away.

He

was

the

kind

of

a

guy

that

hates

to

answer

you

right

away.

Finally

he

came

over,

through

the

goddam

curtains,

and

stood

on

the

shower

ledge

and

asked

who

was

going

besides

me.

He

always

had

to

know

who

was

going.

I

swear,

if

that

guy

was

shipwrecked

somewhere,

and

you

rescued

him

in

a

goddam

boat,

he'd

want

to

know

who

the

guy

was

that

was

rowing

it

before

he'd

even

get

in.

I

told

him

Mal

Brossard

was

going.

He

said,

"That

bastard

.

.

.

All

right.

Wait

a

second."

You'd

think

he

was

doing

you

a

big

favor.

It

took

him

about

five

hours

to

get

ready.

While

he

was

doing

it,

I

went

over

to

my

window

and

opened

it

and

packed

a

snowball

with

my

bare

hands.

The

snow

was

very

good

for

packing.

I

didn't

throw

it

at

anything,

though.

I

started

to

throw

it.

At

a

car

that

was

parked

across

the

street.

But

I

changed

my

mind.

The

car

looked

so

nice

and

white.

Then

I

started

to

throw

it

at

a

hydrant,

but

that

looked

too

nice

and

white,

too.

Finally

I

didn't

throw

it

at

anything.

All

I

did

was

close

the

window

and

walk

around

the

room

with

the

snowball,

packing

it

harder.

A

little

while

later,

I

still

had

it

with

me

when

I

and

Brossnad

and

Ackley

got

on

the

bus.

The

bus

driver

opened

the

doors

and

made

me

throw

it

out.

I

told

him

I

wasn't

going

to

chuck

it

at

anybody,

but

he

wouldn't

believe

me.

People

never

believe

you.

Brossard

and

Ackley

both

had

seen

the

picture

that

was

playing,

so

all

we

did,

we

just

had

a

couple

of

hamburgers

and

played

the

pinball

machine

for

a

little

while,

then

took

the

bus

back

to

Pencey.

I

didn't

care

about

not

seeing

the

movie,

anyway.

It

was

supposed

to

be

a

comedy,

with

Cary

Grant

in

it,

and

all

that

crap.

Besides,

I'd

been

to

the

movies

with

Brossard

and

Ackley

before.

They

both

laughed

like

hyenas

at

stuff

that

wasn't

even

funny.

I

didn't

even

enjoy

sitting

next

to

them

in

the

movies.

It

was

only

about

a

quarter

to

nine

when

we

got

back

to

the

dorm.

Old

Brossard

was

a

bridge

fiend,

and

he

started

looking

around

the

dorm

for

a

game.

Old

Ackley

parked

himself

in

my

room,

just

for

a

change.

Only,

instead

of

sitting

on

the

arm

of

Stradlater's

chair,

he

laid

down

on

my

bed,

with

his

face

right

on

my

pillow

and

all.

He

started

talking

in

this

very

monotonous

voice,

and

picking

at

all

his

pimples.

I

dropped

about

a

thousand

hints,

but

I

couldn't

get

rid

of

him.

All

he

did

was

keep

talking

in

this

very

monotonous

voice

about

some

babe

he

was

supposed

to

have

had

sexual

intercourse

with

the

summer

before.

He'd

already

told

me

about

it

about

a

hundred

times.

Every

time

he

told

it,

it

was

different.

One

minute

he'd

be

giving

it

to

her

in

his

cousin's

Buick,

the

next

minute

he'd

be

giving

it

to

her

under

some

boardwalk.

It

was

all

a

lot

of

crap,

naturally.

He

was

a

virgin

if

ever

I

saw

one.

I

doubt

if

he

ever

even

gave

anybody

a

feel.

Anyway,

finally

I

had

to

come

right

out

and

tell

him

that

I

had

to

write

a

composition

for

Stradlater,

and

that

he

had

to

clear

the

hell

out,

so

I

could

concentrate.

He

finally

did,

but

he

took

his

time

about

it,

as

usual.

After

he

left,

I

put

on

my

pajamas

and

bathrobe

and

my

old

hunting

hat,

and

started

writing

the

composition.

The

thing

was,

I

couldn't

think

of

a

room

or

a

house

or

anything

to

describe

the

way

Stradlater

said

he

had

to

have.

I'm

not

too

crazy

about

describing

rooms

and

houses

anyway.

So

what

I

did,

I

wrote

about

my

brother

Allie's

baseball

mitt.

It

was

a

very

descriptive

subject.

It

really

was.

My

brother

Allie

had

this

left-handed

fielder's

mitt.

He

was

left-handed.

The

thing

that

was

descriptive

about

it,

though,

was

that

he

had

poems

written

all

over

the

fingers

and

the

pocket

and

everywhere.

In

green

ink.

He

wrote

them

on

it

so

that

he'd

have

something

to

read

when

he

was

in

the

field

and

nobody

was

up

at

bat.

He's

dead

now.

He

got

leukemia

and

died

when

we

were

up

in

Maine,

on

July

18,

1946.

You'd

have

liked

him.

He

was

two

years

younger

than

I

was,

but

he

was

about

fifty

times

as

intelligent.

He

was

terrifically

intelligent.

His

teachers

were

always

writing

letters

to

my

mother,

telling

her

what

a

pleasure

it

was

having

a

boy

like

Allie

in

their

class.

And

they

weren't

just

shooting

the

crap.

They

really

meant

it.

But

it

wasn't

just

that

he

was

the

most

intelligent

member

in

the

family.

He

was

also

the

nicest,

in

lots

of

ways.

He

never

got

mad

at

anybody.

People

with

red

hair

are

supposed

to

get

mad

very

easily,

but

Allie

never

did,

and

he

had

very

red

hair.

I'll

tell

you

what

kind

of

red

hair

he

had.

I

started

playing

golf

when

I

was

only

ten

years

old.

I

remember

once,

the

summer

I

was

around

twelve,

teeing

off

and

all,

and

having

a

hunch

that

if

I

turned

around

all

of

a

sudden,

I'd

see

Allie.

So

I

did,

and

sure

enough,

he

was

sitting

on

his

bike

outside

the

fence--there

was

this

fence

that

went

all

around

the

course--and

he

was

sitting

there,

about

a

hundred

and

fifty

yards

behind

me,

watching

me

tee

off.

That's

the

kind

of

red

hair

he

had.

God,

he

was

a

nice

kid,

though.

He

used

to

laugh

so

hard

at

something

he

thought

of

at

the

dinner

table

that

he

just

about

fell

off

his

chair.

I

was

only

thirteen,

and

they

were

going

to

have

me

psychoanalyzed

and

all,

because

I

broke

all

the

windows

in

the

garage.

I

don't

blame

them.

I

really

don't.

I

slept

in

the

garage

the

night

he

died,

and

I

broke

all

the

goddam

windows

with

my

fist,

just

for

the

hell

of

it.

I

even

tried

to

break

all

the

windows

on

the

station

wagon

we

had

that

summer,

but

my

hand

was

already

broken

and

everything

by

that

time,

and

I

couldn't

do

it.

It

was

a

very

stupid

thing

to

do,

I'll

admit,

but

I

hardly

didn't

even

know

I

was

doing

it,

and

you

didn't

know

Allie.

My

hand

still

hurts

me

once

in

a

while

when

it

rains

and

all,

and

I

can't

make

a

real

fist

any

more--

not

a

tight

one,

I

mean--but

outside

of

that

I

don't

care

much.

I

mean

I'm

not

going

to

be

a

goddam

surgeon

or

a

violinist

or

anything

anyway.

Anyway,

that's

what

I

wrote

Stradlater's

composition

about.

Old

Allie's

baseball

mitt.

I

happened

to

have

it

with

me,

in

my

suitcase,

so

I

got

it

out

and

copied

down

the

poems

that

were

written

on

it.

All

I

had

to

do

was

change

Allie's

name

so

that

nobody

would

know

it

was

my

brother

and

not

Stradlater's.

I

wasn't

too

crazy

about

doing

it,

but

I

couldn't

think

of

anything

else

descriptive.

Besides,

I

sort

of

liked

writing

about

it.

It

took

me

about

an

hour,

because

I

had

to

use

Stradlater's

lousy

typewriter,

and

it

kept

jamming

on

me.

The

reason

I

didn't

use

my

own

was

because

I'd

lent

it

to

a

guy

down

the

hall.

It

was

around

ten-thirty,

I

guess,

when

I

finished

it.

I

wasn't

tired,

though,

so

I

looked

out

the

window

for

a

while.

It

wasn't

snowing

out

any

more,

but

every

once

in

a

while

you

could

hear

a

car

somewhere

not

being

able

to

get

started.

You

could

also

hear

old

Ackley

snoring.

Right

through

the

goddam

shower

curtains

you

could

hear

him.

He

had

sinus

trouble

and

he

couldn't

breathe

too

hot

when

he

was

asleep.

That

guy

had

just

about

everything.

Sinus

trouble,

pimples,

lousy

teeth,

halitosis,

crumby

fingernails.

You

had

to

feel

a

little

sorry

for

the

crazy

sonuvabitch.

6

Some

things

are

hard

to

remember.

I'm

thinking

now

of

when

Stradlater

got

back

from

his

date

with

Jane.

I

mean

I

can't

remember

exactly

what

I

was

doing

when

I

heard

his

goddam

stupid

footsteps

coming

down

the

corridor.

I

probably

was

still

looking

out

the

window,

but

I

swear

I

can't

remember.

I

was

so

damn

worried,

that's

why.

When

I

really

worry

about

something,

I

don't

just

fool

around.

I

even

have

to

go

to

the

bathroom

when

I

worry

about

something.

Only,

I

don't

go.

I'm

too

worried

to

go.

I

don't

want

to

interrupt

my

worrying

to

go.

If

you

knew

Stradlater,

you'd

have

been

worried,

too.

I'd

double-dated

with

that

bastard

a

couple

of

times,

and

I

know

what

I'm

talking

about.

He

was

unscrupulous.

He

really

was.

Anyway,

the

corridor

was

all

linoleum

and

all,

and

you

could

hear

his

goddam

footsteps

coming

right

towards

the

room.

I

don't

even

remember

where

I

was

sitting

when

he

came

in--at

the

window,

or

in

my

chair

or

his.

I

swear

I

can't

remember.

He

came

in

griping

about

how

cold

it

was

out.

Then

he

said,

"Where

the

hell

is

everybody?

It's

like

a

goddam

morgue

around

here."

I

didn't

even

bother

to

answer

him.

If

he

was

so

goddam

stupid

not

to

realize

it

was

Saturday

night

and

everybody

was

out

or

asleep

or

home

for

the

week

end,

I

wasn't

going

to

break

my

neck

telling

him.

He

started

getting

undressed.

He

didn't

say

one

goddam

word

about

Jane.

Not

one.

Neither

did

I.

I

just

watched

him.

All

he

did

was

thank

me

for

letting

him

wear

my

hound's-tooth.

He

hung

it

up

on

a

hanger

and

put

it

in

the

closet.

Then

when

he

was

taking

off

his

tie,

he

asked

me

if

I'd

written

his

goddam

composition

for

him.

I

told

him

it

was

over

on

his

goddam

bed.

He

walked

over

and

read

it

while

he

was

unbuttoning

his

shirt.

He

stood

there,

reading

it,

and

sort

of

stroking

his

bare

chest

and

stomach,

with

this

very

stupid

expression

on

his

face.

He

was

always

stroking

his

stomach

or

his

chest.

He

was

mad

about

himself.

All

of

a

sudden,

he

said,

"For

Chrissake,

Holden.

This

is

about

a

goddam

baseball

glove."

"So

what?"

I

said.

Cold

as

hell.

"Wuddaya

mean

so

what?

I

told

ya

it

had

to

be

about

a

goddam

room

or

a

house

or

something."

"You

said

it

had

to

be

descriptive.

What

the

hell's

the

difference

if

it's

about

a

baseball

glove?"

"God

damn

it."

He

was

sore

as

hell.

He

was

really

furious.

"You

always

do

everything

backasswards."

He

looked

at

me.

"No

wonder

you're

flunking

the

hell

out

of

here,"

he

said.

"You

don't

do

one

damn

thing

the

way

you're

supposed

to.

I

mean

it.

Not

one

damn

thing."

"All

right,

give

it

back

to

me,

then,"

I

said.

I

went

over

and

pulled

it

right

out

of

his

goddam

hand.

Then

I

tore

it

up.

"What

the

hellja

do

that

for?"

he

said.

I

didn't

even

answer

him.

I

just

threw

the

pieces

in

the

wastebasket.

Then

I

lay

down

on

my

bed,

and

we

both

didn't

say

anything

for

a

long

time.

He

got

all

undressed,

down

to

his

shorts,

and

I

lay

on

my

bed

and

lit

a

cigarette.

You

weren't

allowed

to

smoke

in

the

dorm,

but

you

could

do

it

late

at

night

when

everybody

was

asleep

or

out

and

nobody

could

smell

the

smoke.

Besides,

I

did

it

to

annoy

Stradlater.

It

drove

him

crazy

when

you

broke

any

rules.

He

never

smoked

in

the

dorm.

It

was

only

me.

He

still

didn't

say

one

single

solitary

word

about

Jane.

So

finally

I

said,

"You're

back

pretty

goddam

late

if

she

only

signed

out

for

nine-thirty.

Did

you

make

her

be

late

signing

in?"

He

was

sitting

on

the

edge

of

his

bed,

cutting

his

goddam

toenails,

when

I

asked

him

that.

"Coupla

minutes,"

he

said.

"Who

the

hell

signs

out

for

nine-thirty

on

a

Saturday

night?"

God,

how

I

hated

him.

"Did

you

go

to

New

York?"

I

said.

"Ya

crazy?

How

the

hell

could

we

go

to

New

York

if

she

only

signed

out

for

nine-thirty?"

"That's

tough."

He

looked

up

at

me.

"Listen,"

he

said,

"if

you're

gonna

smoke

in

the

room,

how

'bout

going

down

to

the

can

and

do

it?

You

may

be

getting

the

hell

out

of

here,

but

I

have

to

stick

around

long

enough

to

graduate."

I

ignored

him.

I

really

did.

I

went

right

on

smoking

like

a

madman.

All

I

did

was

sort

of

turn

over

on

my

side

and

watched

him

cut

his

damn

toenails.

What

a

school.

You

were

always

watching

somebody

cut

their

damn

toenails

or

squeeze

their

pimples

or

something.

"Did

you

give

her

my

regards?"

I

asked

him.

"Yeah."

The

hell

he

did,

the

bastard.

"What'd

she

say?"

I

said.

"Did

you

ask

her

if

she

still

keeps

all

her

kings

in

the

back

row?"

"No,

I

didn't

ask

her.

What

the

hell

ya

think

we

did

all

night--play

checkers,

for

Chrissake?"

I

didn't

even

answer

him.

God,

how

I

hated

him.

"If

you

didn't

go

to

New

York,

where'd

ya

go

with

her?"

I

asked

him,

after

a

little

while.

I

could

hardly

keep

my

voice

from

shaking

all

over

the

place.

Boy,

was

I

getting

nervous.

I

just

had

a

feeling

something

had

gone

funny.

He

was

finished

cutting

his

damn

toenails.

So

he

got

up

from

the

bed,

in

just

his

damn

shorts

and

all,

and

started

getting

very

damn

playful.

He

came

over

to

my

bed

and

started

leaning

over

me

and

taking

these

playful

as

hell

socks

at

my

shoulder.

"Cut

it

out,"

I

said.

"Where'd

you

go

with

her

if

you

didn't

go

to

New

York?"

"Nowhere.

We

just

sat

in

the

goddam

car."

He

gave

me

another

one

of

those

playtul

stupid

little

socks

on

the

shoulder.

"Cut

it

out,"

I

said.

"Whose

car?"

"Ed

Banky's."

Ed

Banky

was

the

basketball

coach

at

Pencey.

Old

Stradlater

was

one

of

his

pets,

because

he

was

the

center

on

the

team,

and

Ed

Banky

always

let

him

borrow

his

car

when

he

wanted

it.

It

wasn't

allowed

for

students

to

borrow

faculty

guys'

cars,

but

all

the

athletic

bastards

stuck

together.

In

every

school

I've

gone

to,

all

the

athletic

bastards

stick

together.

Stradlater

kept

taking

these

shadow

punches

down

at

my

shoulder.

He

had

his

toothbrush

in

his

hand,

and

he

put

it

in

his

mouth.

"What'd

you

do?"

I

said.

"Give

her

the

time

in

Ed

Banky's

goddam

car?"

My

voice

was

shaking

something

awful.

"What

a

thing

to

say.

Want

me

to

wash

your

mouth

out

with

soap?"

"Did

you?"

"That's

a

professional

secret,

buddy."

This

next

part

I

don't

remember

so

hot.

All

I

know

is

I

got

up

from

the

bed,

like

I

was

going

down

to

the

can

or

something,

and

then

I

tried

to

sock

him,

with

all

my

might,

right

smack

in

the

toothbrush,

so

it

would

split

his

goddam

throat

open.

Only,

I

missed.

I

didn't

connect.

All

I

did

was

sort

of

get

him

on

the

side

of

the

head

or

something.

It

probably

hurt

him

a

little

bit,

but

not

as

much

as

I

wanted.

It

probably

would've

hurt

him

a

lot,

but

I

did

it

with

my

right

hand,

and

I

can't

make

a

good

fist

with

that

hand.

On

account

of

that

injury

I

told

you

about.

Anyway,

the

next

thing

I

knew,

I

was

on

the

goddam

floor

and

he

was

sitting

on

my

chest,

with

his

face

all

red.

That

is,

he

had

his

goddam

knees

on

my

chest,

and

he

weighed

about

a

ton.

He

had

hold

of

my

wrists,

too,

so

I

couldn't

take

another

sock

at

him.

I'd've

killed

him.

"What

the

hell's

the

matter

with

you?"

he

kept

saying,

and

his

stupid

race

kept

getting

redder

and

redder.

"Get

your

lousy

knees

off

my

chest,"

I

told

him.

I

was

almost

bawling.

I

really

was.

"Go

on,

get

off

a

me,

ya

crumby

bastard."

He

wouldn't

do

it,

though.

He

kept

holding

onto

my

wrists

and

I

kept

calling

him

a

sonuvabitch

and

all,

for

around

ten

hours.

I

can

hardly

even

remember

what

all

I

said

to

him.

I

told

him

he

thought

he

could

give

the

time

to

anybody

he

felt

like.

I

told

him

he

didn't

even

care

if

a

girl

kept

all

her

kings

in

the

back

row

or

not,

and

the

reason

he

didn't

care

was

because

he

was

a

goddam

stupid

moron.

He

hated

it

when

you

called

a

moron.

All

morons

hate

it

when

you

call

them

a

moron.

"Shut

up,

now,

Holden,"

he

said

with

his

big

stupid

red

face.

"just

shut

up,

now."

"You

don't

even

know

if

her

first

name

is

Jane

or

Jean,

ya

goddam

moron!"

"Now,

shut

up,

Holden,

God

damn

it--I'm

warning

ya,"

he

said--I

really

had

him

going.

"If

you

don't

shut

up,

I'm

gonna

slam

ya

one."

"Get

your

dirty

stinking

moron

knees

off

my

chest."

"If

I

letcha

up,

will

you

keep

your

mouth

shut?"

I

didn't

even

answer

him.

He

said

it

over

again.

"Holden.

If

I

letcha

up,

willya

keep

your

mouth

shut?"

"Yes."

He

got

up

off

me,

and

I

got

up,

too.

My

chest

hurt

like

hell

from

his

dirty

knees.

"You're

a

dirty

stupid

sonuvabitch

of

a

moron,"

I

told

him.

That

got

him

really

mad.

He

shook

his

big

stupid

finger

in

my

face.

"Holden,

God

damn

it,

I'm

warning

you,

now.

For

the

last

time.

If

you

don't

keep

your

yap

shut,

I'm

gonna--"

"Why

should

I?"

I

said--I

was

practically

yelling.

"That's

just

the

trouble

with

all

you

morons.

You

never

want

to

discuss

anything.

That's

the

way

you

can

always

tell

a

moron.

They

never

want

to

discuss

anything

intellig--"

Then

he

really

let

one

go

at

me,

and

the

next

thing

I

knew

I

was

on

the

goddam

floor

again.

I

don't

remember

if

he

knocked

me

out

or

not,

but

I

don't

think

so.

It's

pretty

hard

to

knock

a

guy

out,

except

in

the

goddam

movies.

But

my

nose

was

bleeding

all

over

the

place.

When

I

looked

up

old

Stradlater

was

standing

practically

right

on

top

of

me.

He

had

his

goddam

toilet

kit

under

his

arm.

"Why

the

hell

don'tcha

shut

up

when

I

tellya

to?"

he

said.

He

sounded

pretty

nervous.

He

probably

was

scared

he'd

fractured

my

skull

or

something

when

I

hit

the

floor.

It's

too

bad

I

didn't.

"You

asked

for

it,

God

damn

it,"

he

said.

Boy,

did

he

look

worried.

I

didn't

even

bother

to

get

up.

I

just

lay

there

in

the

floor

for

a

while,

and

kept

calling

him

a

moron

sonuvabitch.

I

was

so

mad,

I

was

practically

bawling.

"Listen.

Go

wash

your

face,"

Stradlater

said.

"Ya

hear

me?"

I

told

him

to

go

wash

his

own

moron

face--which

was

a

pretty

childish

thing

to

say,

but

I

was

mad

as

hell.

I

told

him

to

stop

off

on

the

way

to

the

can

and

give

Mrs.

Schmidt

the

time.

Mrs.

Schmidt

was

the

janitor's

wife.

She

was

around

sixty-five.

I

kept

sitting

there

on

the

floor

till

I

heard

old

Stradlater

close

the

door

and

go

down

the

corridor

to

the

can.

Then

I

got

up.

I

couldn't

find

my

goddam

hunting

hat

anywhere.

Finally

I

found

it.

It

was

under

the

bed.

I

put

it

on,

and

turned

the

old

peak

around

to

the

back,

the

way

I

liked

it,

and

then

I

went

over

and

took

a

look

at

my

stupid

face

in

the

mirror.

You

never

saw

such

gore

in

your

life.

I

had

blood

all

over

my

mouth

and

chin

and

even

on

my

pajamas

and

bath

robe.

It

partly

scared

me

and

it

partly

fascinated

me.

All

that

blood

and

all

sort

of

made

me

look

tough.

I'd

only

been

in

about

two

fights

in

my

life,

and

I

lost

both

of

them.

I'm

not

too

tough.

I'm

a

pacifist,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

I

had

a

feeling

old

Ackley'd

probably

heard

all

the

racket

and

was

awake.

So

I

went

through

the

shower

curtains

into

his

room,

just

to

see

what

the

hell

he

was

doing.

I

hardly

ever

went

over

to

his

room.

It

always

had

a

funny

stink

in

it,

because

he

was

so

crumby

in

his

personal

habits.

7

A

tiny

bit

of

light

came

through

the

shower

curtains

and

all

from

our

room,

and

I

could

see

him

lying

in

bed.

I

knew

damn

well

he

was

wide

awake.

"Ackley?"

I

said.

"Y'awake?"

"Yeah."

It

was

pretty

dark,

and

I

stepped

on

somebody's

shoe

on

the

floor

and

danm

near

fell

on

my

head.

Ackley

sort

of

sat

up

in

bed

and

leaned

on

his

arm.

He

had

a

lot

of

white

stuff

on

his

face,

for

his

pimples.

He

looked

sort

of

spooky

in

the

dark.

"What

the

hellya

doing,

anyway?"

I

said.

"Wuddaya

mean

what

the

hell

am

I

doing?

I

was

tryna

sleep

before

you

guys

started

making

all

that

noise.

What

the

hell

was

the

fight

about,

anyhow?"

"Where's

the

light?"

I

couldn't

find

the

light.

I

was

sliding

my

hand

all

over

the

wall.

"Wuddaya

want

the

light

for?

.

.

.

Right

next

to

your

hand."

I

finally

found

the

switch

and

turned

It

on.

Old

Ackley

put

his

hand

up

so

the

light

wouldn't

hurt

his

eyes.

"Jesus!"

he

said.

"What

the

hell

happened

to

you?"

He

meant

all

the

blood

and

all.

"I

had

a

little

goddam

tiff

with

Stradlater,"

I

said.

Then

I

sat

down

on

the

floor.

They

never

had

any

chairs

in

their

room.

I

don't

know

what

the

hell

they

did

with

their

chairs.

"Listen,"

I

said,

"do

you

feel

like

playing

a

little

Canasta?"

He

was

a

Canasta

fiend.

"You're

still

bleeding,

for

Chrissake.

You

better

put

something

on

it."

"It'll

stop.

Listen.

Ya

wanna

play

a

little

Canasta

or

don'tcha?"

"Canasta,

for

Chrissake.

Do

you

know

what

time

it

is,

by

any

chance?"

"It

isn't

late.

It's

only

around

eleven,

eleven-thirty."

"Only

around!"

Ackley

said.

"Listen.

I

gotta

get

up

and

go

to

Mass

in

the

morning,

for

Chrissake.

You

guys

start

hollering

and

fighting

in

the

middle

of

the

goddam--What

the

hell

was

the

fight

about,

anyhow?"

"It's

a

long

story.

I

don't

wanna

bore

ya,

Ackley.

I'm

thinking

of

your

welfare,"

I

told

him.

I

never

discussed

my

personal

life

with

him.

In

the

first

place,

he

was

even

more

stupid

than

Stradlater.

Stradlater

was

a

goddam

genius

next

to

Ackley.

"Hey,"

I

said,

"is

it

okay

if

I

sleep

in

Ely's

bed

tonight?

He

won't

be

back

till

tomorrow

night,

will

he?"

I

knew

damn

well

he

wouldn't.

Ely

went

home

damn

near

every

week

end.

"I

don't

know

when

the

hell

he's

coming

back,"

Ackley

said.

Boy,

did

that

annoy

me.

"What

the

hell

do

you

mean

you

don't

know

when

he's

coming

back?

He

never

comes

back

till

Sunday

night,

does

he?"

"No,

but

for

Chrissake,

I

can't

just

tell

somebody

they

can

sleep

in

his

goddam

bed

if

they

want

to."

That

killed

me.

I

reached

up

from

where

I

was

sitting

on

the

floor

and

patted

him

on

the

goddam

shoulder.

"You're

a

prince,

Ackley

kid,"

I

said.

"You

know

that?"

"No,

I

mean

it--I

can't

just

tell

somebody

they

can

sleep

in--"

"You're

a

real

prince.

You're

a

gentleman

and

a

scholar,

kid,"

I

said.

He

really

was,

too.

"Do

you

happen

to

have

any

cigarettes,

by

any

chance?--Say

'no'

or

I'll

drop

dead."

"No,

I

don't,

as

a

matter

of

fact.

Listen,

what

the

hell

was

the

fight

about?"

I

didn't

answer

him.

All

I

did

was,

I

got

up

and

went

over

and

looked

out

the

window.

I

felt

so

lonesome,

all

of

a

sudden.

I

almost

wished

I

was

dead.

"What

the

hell

was

the

fight

about,

anyhow?"

Ackley

said,

for

about

the

fiftieth

time.

He

certainly

was

a

bore

about

that.

"About

you,"

I

said.

"About

me,

for

Chrissake?"

"Yeah.

I

was

defending

your

goddam

honor.

Stradlater

said

you

had

a

lousy

personality.

I

couldn't

let

him

get

away

with

that

stuff."

That

got

him

excited.

"He

did?

No

kidding?

He

did?"

I

told

him

I

was

only

kidding,

and

then

I

went

over

and

laid

down

on

Ely's

bed.

Boy,

did

I

feel

rotten.

I

felt

so

damn

lonesome.

"This

room

stinks,"

I

said.

"I

can

smell

your

socks

from

way

over

here.

Don'tcha

ever

send

them

to

the

laundry?"

"If

you

don't

like

it,

you

know

what

you

can

do,"

Ackley

said.

What

a

witty

guy.

"How

'bout

turning

off

the

goddam

light?"

I

didn't

turn

it

off

right

away,

though.

I

just

kept

laying

there

on

Ely's

bed,

thinking

about

Jane

and

all.

It

just

drove

me

stark

staring

mad

when

I

thought

about

her

and

Stradlater

parked

somewhere

in

that

fat-assed

Ed

Banky's

car.

Every

time

I

thought

about

it,

I

felt

like

jumping

out

the

window.

The

thing

is,

you

didn't

know

Stradlater.

I

knew

him.

Most

guys

at

Pencey

just

talked

about

having

sexual

intercourse

with

girls

all

the

time--like

Ackley,

for

instance--but

old

Stradlater

really

did

it.

I

was

personally

acquainted

with

at

least

two

girls

he

gave

the

time

to.

That's

the

truth.

"Tell

me

the

story

of

your

fascinating

life,

Ackley

kid,"

I

said.

"How

'bout

turning

off

the

goddam

light?

I

gotta

get

up

for

Mass

in

the

morning."

I

got

up

and

turned

it

off,

if

it

made

him

happy.

Then

I

laid

down

on

Ely's

bed

again.

"What're

ya

gonna

do--sleep

in

Ely's

bed?"

Ackley

said.

He

was

the

perfect

host,

boy.

"I

may.

I

may

not.

Don't

worry

about

it."

"I'm

not

worried

about

it.

Only,

I'd

hate

like

hell

if

Ely

came

in

all

of

a

sudden

and

found

some

guy--"

"Relax.

I'm

not

gonna

sleep

here.

I

wouldn't

abuse

your

goddam

hospitality."

A

couple

of

minutes

later,

he

was

snoring

like

mad.

I

kept

laying

there

in

the

dark

anyway,

though,

trying

not

to

think

about

old

Jane

and

Stradlater

in

that

goddam

Ed

Banky's

car.

But

it

was

almost

impossible.

The

trouble

was,

I

knew

that

guy

Stradlater's

technique.

That

made

it

even

worse.

We

once

double-dated,

in

Ed

Banky's

car,

and

Stradlater

was

in

the

back,

with

his

date,

and

I

was

in

the

front

with

mine.

What

a

technique

that

guy

had.

What

he'd

do

was,

he'd

start

snowing

his

date

in

this

very

quiet,

sincere

voice--like

as

if

he

wasn't

only

a

very

handsome

guy

but

a

nice,

sincere

guy,

too.

I

damn

near

puked,

listening

to

him.

His

date

kept

saying,

"No--please.

Please,

don't.

Please."

But

old

Stradlater

kept

snowing

her

in

this

Abraham

Lincoln,

sincere

voice,

and

finally

there'd

be

this

terrific

silence

in

the

back

of

the

car.

It

was

really

embarrassing.

I

don't

think

he

gave

that

girl

the

time

that

night--but

damn

near.

Damn

near.

While

I

was

laying

there

trying

not

to

think,

I

heard

old

Stradlater

come

back

from

the

can

and

go

in

our

room.

You

could

hear

him

putting

away

his

crumby

toilet

articles

and

all,

and

opening

the

window.

He

was

a

fresh-air

fiend.

Then,

a

little

while

later,

he

turned

off

the

light.

He

didn't

even

look

around

to

see

where

I

was

at.

It

was

even

depressing

out

in

the

street.

You

couldn't

even

hear

any

cars

any

more.

I

got

feeling

so

lonesome

and

rotten,

I

even

felt

like

waking

Ackley

up.

"Hey,

Ackley,"

I

said,

in

sort

of

a

whisper,

so

Stradlater

couldn't

hear

me

through

the

shower

curtain.

Ackley

didn't

hear

me,

though.

"Hey,

Ackley!"

He

still

didn't

hear

me.

He

slept

like

a

rock.

"Hey,

Ackley!"

He

heard

that,

all

right.

"What

the

hell's

the

matter

with

you?"

he

said.

"I

was

asleep,

for

Chrissake."

"Listen.

What's

the

routine

on

joining

a

monastery?"

I

asked

him.

I

was

sort

of

toying

with

the

idea

of

joining

one.

"Do

you

have

to

be

a

Catholic

and

all?"

"Certainly

you

have

to

be

a

Catholic.

You

bastard,

did

you

wake

me

just

to

ask

me

a

dumb

ques--"

"Aah,

go

back

to

sleep.

I'm

not

gonna

join

one

anyway.

The

kind

of

luck

I

have,

I'd

probably

join

one

with

all

the

wrong

kind

of

monks

in

it.

All

stupid

bastards.

Or

just

bastards."

When

I

said

that,

old

Ackley

sat

way

the

hell

up

in

bed.

"Listen,"

he

said,

"I

don't

care

what

you

say

about

me

or

anything,

but

if

you

start

making

cracks

about

my

goddam

religion,

for

Chrissake--"

"Relax,"

I

said.

"Nobody's

making

any

cracks

about

your

goddam

religion."

I

got

up

off

Ely's

bed,

and

started

towards

the

door.

I

didn't

want

to

hang

around

in

that

stupid

atmosphere

any

more.

I

stopped

on

the

way,

though,

and

picked

up

Ackley's

hand,

and

gave

him

a

big,

phony

handshake.

He

pulled

it

away

from

me.

"What's

the

idea?"

he

said.

"No

idea.

I

just

want

to

thank

you

for

being

such

a

goddam

prince,

that's

all,"

I

said.

I

said

it

in

this

very

sincere

voice.

"You're

aces,

Ackley

kid,"

I

said.

"You

know

that?"

"Wise

guy.

Someday

somebody's

gonna

bash

your--"

I

didn't

even

bother

to

listen

to

him.

I

shut

the

damn

door

and

went

out

in

the

corridor.

Everybody

was

asleep

or

out

or

home

for

the

week

end,

and

it

was

very,

very

quiet

and

depressing

in

the

corridor.

There

was

this

empty

box

of

Kolynos

toothpaste

outside

Leahy

and

Hoffman's

door,

and

while

I

walked

down

towards

the

stairs,

I

kept

giving

it

a

boot

with

this

sheep-lined

slipper

I

had

on.

What

I

thought

I'd

do,

I

thought

I

might

go

down

and

see

what

old

Mal

Brossard

was

doing.

But

all

of

a

sudden,

I

changed

my

mind.

All

of

a

sudden,

I

decided

what

I'd

really

do,

I'd

get

the

hell

out

of

Pencey--

right

that

same

night

and

all.

I

mean

not

wait

till

Wednesday

or

anything.

I

just

didn't

want

to

hang

around

any

more.

It

made

me

too

sad

and

lonesome.

So

what

I

decided

to

do,

I

decided

I'd

take

a

room

in

a

hotel

in

New

York--some

very

inexpensive

hotel

and

all--and

just

take

it

easy

till

Wednesday.

Then,

on

Wednesday,

I'd

go

home

all

rested

up

and

feeling

swell.

I

figured

my

parents

probably

wouldn't

get

old

Thurmer's

letter

saying

I'd

been

given

the

ax

till

maybe

Tuesday

or

Wednesday.

I

didn't

want

to

go

home

or

anything

till

they

got

it

and

thoroughly

digested

it

and

all.

I

didn't

want

to

be

around

when

they

first

got

it.

My

mother

gets

very

hysterical.

She's

not

too

bad

after

she

gets

something

thoroughly

digested,

though.

Besides,

I

sort

of

needed

a

little

vacation.

My

nerves

were

shot.

They

really

were.

Anyway,

that's

what

I

decided

I'd

do.

So

I

went

back

to

the

room

and

turned

on

the

light,

to

start

packing

and

all.

I

already

had

quite

a

few

things

packed.

Old

Stradlater

didn't

even

wake

up.

I

lit

a

cigarette

and

got

all

dressed

and

then

I

packed

these

two

Gladstones

I

have.

It

only

took

me

about

two

minutes.

I'm

a

very

rapid

packer.

One

thing

about

packing

depressed

me

a

little.

I

had

to

pack

these

brand-new

ice

skates

my

mother

had

practically

just

sent

me

a

couple

of

days

before.

That

depressed

me.

I

could

see

my

mother

going

in

Spaulding's

and

asking

the

salesman

a

million

dopy

questions--and

here

I

was

getting

the

ax

again.

It

made

me

feel

pretty

sad.

She

bought

me

the

wrong

kind

of

skates--I

wanted

racing

skates

and

she

bought

hockey--but

it

made

me

sad

anyway.

Almost

every

time

somebody

gives

me

a

present,

it

ends

up

making

me

sad.

After

I

got

all

packed,

I

sort

of

counted

my

dough.

I

don't

remember

exactly

how

much

I

had,

but

I

was

pretty

loaded.

My

grandmother'd

just

sent

me

a

wad

about

a

week

before.

I

have

this

grandmother

that's

quite

lavish

with

her

dough.

She

doesn't

have

all

her

marbles

any

more--she's

old

as

hell--and

she

keeps

sending

me

money

for

my

birthday

about

four

times

a

year.

Anyway,

even

though

I

was

pretty

loaded,

I

figured

I

could

always

use

a

few

extra

bucks.

You

never

know.

So

what

I

did

was,

I

went

down

the

hail

and

woke

up

Frederick

Woodruff,

this

guy

I'd

lent

my

typewriter

to.

I

asked

him

how

much

he'd

give

me

for

it.

He

was

a

pretty

wealthy

guy.

He

said

he

didn't

know.

He

said

he

didn't

much

want

to

buy

it.

Finally

he

bought

it,

though.

It

cost

about

ninety

bucks,

and

all

he

bought

it

for

was

twenty.

He

was

sore

because

I'd

woke

him

up.

When

I

was

all

set

to

go,

when

I

had

my

bags

and

all,

I

stood

for

a

while

next

to

the

stairs

and

took

a

last

look

down

the

goddam

corridor.

I

was

sort

of

crying.

I

don't

know

why.

I

put

my

red

hunting

hat

on,

and

turned

the

peak

around

to

the

back,

the

way

I

liked

it,

and

then

I

yelled

at

the

top

of

my

goddam

voice,

"Sleep

tight,

ya

morons!"

I'll

bet

I

woke

up

every

bastard

on

the

whole

floor.

Then

I

got

the

hell

out.

Some

stupid

guy

had

thrown

peanut

shells

all

over

the

stairs,

and

I

damn

near

broke

my

crazy

neck.

8

It

was

too

late

to

call

up

for

a

cab

or

anything,

so

I

walked

the

whole

way

to

the

station.

It

wasn't

too

far,

but

it

was

cold

as

hell,

and

the

snow

made

it

hard

for

walking,

and

my

Gladstones

kept

banging

hell

out

of

my

legs.

I

sort

of

enjoyed

the

air

and

all,

though.

The

only

trouble

was,

the

cold

made

my

nose

hurt,

and

right

under

my

upper

lip,

where

old

Stradlater'd

laid

one

on

me.

He'd

smacked

my

lip

right

on

my

teeth,

and

it

was

pretty

sore.

My

ears

were

nice

and

warm,

though.

That

hat

I

bought

had

earlaps

in

it,

and

I

put

them

on--I

didn't

give

a

damn

how

I

looked.

Nobody

was

around

anyway.

Everybody

was

in

the

sack.

I

was

quite

lucky

when

I

got

to

the

station,

because

I

only

had

to

wait

about

ten

minutes

for

a

train.

While

I

waited,

I

got

some

snow

in

my

hand

and

washed

my

face

with

it.

I

still

had

quite

a

bit

of

blood

on.

Usually

I

like

riding

on

trains,

especially

at

night,

with

the

lights

on

and

the

windows

so

black,

and

one

of

those

guys

coming

up

the

aisle

selling

coffee

and

sandwiches

and

magazines.

I

usually

buy

a

ham

sandwich

and

about

four

magazines.

If

I'm

on

a

train

at

night,

I

can

usually

even

read

one

of

those

dumb

stories

in

a

magazine

without

puking.

You

know.

One

of

those

stories

with

a

lot

of

phony,

lean-jawed

guys

named

David

in

it,

and

a

lot

of

phony

girls

named

Linda

or

Marcia

that

are

always

lighting

all

the

goddam

Davids'

pipes

for

them.

I

can

even

read

one

of

those

lousy

stories

on

a

train

at

night,

usually.

But

this

time,

it

was

different.

I

just

didn't

feel

like

it.

I

just

sort

of

sat

and

not

did

anything.

All

I

did

was

take

off

my

hunting

hat

and

put

it

in

my

pocket.

All

of

a

sudden,

this

lady

got

on

at

Trenton

and

sat

down

next

to

me.

Practically

the

whole

car

was

empty,

because

it

was

pretty

late

and

all,

but

she

sat

down

next

to

me,

instead

of

an

empty

seat,

because

she

had

this

big

bag

with

her

and

I

was

sitting

in

the

front

seat.

She

stuck

the

bag

right

out

in

the

middle

of

the

aisle,

where

the

conductor

and

everybody

could

trip

over

it.

She

had

these

orchids

on,

like

she'd

just

been

to

a

big

party

or

something.

She

was

around

forty

or

forty-five,

I

guess,

but

she

was

very

good

looking.

Women

kill

me.

They

really

do.

I

don't

mean

I'm

oversexed

or

anything

like

that--

although

I

am

quite

sexy.

I

just

like

them,

I

mean.

They're

always

leaving

their

goddam

bags

out

in

the

middle

of

the

aisle.

Anyway,

we

were

sitting

there,

and

all

of

a

sudden

she

said

to

me,

"Excuse

me,

but

isn't

that

a

Pencey

Prep

sticker?"

She

was

looking

up

at

my

suitcases,

up

on

the

rack.

"Yes,

it

is,"

I

said.

She

was

right.

I

did

have

a

goddam

Pencey

sticker

on

one

of

my

Gladstones.

Very

corny,

I'll

admit.

"Oh,

do

you

go

to

Pencey?"

she

said.

She

had

a

nice

voice.

A

nice

telephone

voice,

mostly.

She

should've

carried

a

goddam

telephone

around

with

her.

"Yes,

I

do,"

I

said.

"Oh,

how

lovely!

Perhaps

you

know

my

son,

then,

Ernest

Morrow?

He

goes

to

Pencey."

"Yes,

I

do.

He's

in

my

class."

Her

son

was

doubtless

the

biggest

bastard

that

ever

went

to

Pencey,

in

the

whole

crumby

history

of

the

school.

He

was

always

going

down

the

corridor,

after

he'd

had

a

shower,

snapping

his

soggy

old

wet

towel

at

people's

asses.

That's

exactly

the

kind

of

a

guy

he

was.

"Oh,

how

nice!"

the

lady

said.

But

not

corny.

She

was

just

nice

and

all.

"I

must

tell

Ernest

we

met,"

she

said.

"May

I

ask

your

name,

dear?"

"Rudolf

Schmidt,"

I

told

her.

I

didn't

feel

like

giving

her

my

whole

life

history.

Rudolf

Schmidt

was

the

name

of

the

janitor

of

our

dorm.

"Do

you

like

Pencey?"

she

asked

me.

"Pencey?

It's

not

too

bad.

It's

not

paradise

or

anything,

but

it's

as

good

as

most

schools.

Some

of

the

faculty

are

pretty

conscientious."

"Ernest

just

adores

it."

"I

know

he

does,"

I

said.

Then

I

started

shooting

the

old

crap

around

a

little

bit.

"He

adapts

himself

very

well

to

things.

He

really

does.

I

mean

he

really

knows

how

to

adapt

himself."

"Do

you

think

so?"

she

asked

me.

She

sounded

interested

as

hell.

"Ernest?

Sure,"

I

said.

Then

I

watched

her

take

off

her

gloves.

Boy,

was

she

lousy

with

rocks.

"I

just

broke

a

nail,

getting

out

of

a

cab,"

she

said.

She

looked

up

at

me

and

sort

of

smiled.

She

had

a

terrifically

nice

smile.

She

really

did.

Most

people

have

hardly

any

smile

at

all,

or

a

lousy

one.

"Ernest's

father

and

I

sometimes

worry

about

him,"

she

said.

"We

sometimes

feel

he's

not

a

terribly

good

mixer."

"How

do

you

mean?"

"Well.

He's

a

very

sensitive

boy.

He's

really

never

been

a

terribly

good

mixer

with

other

boys.

Perhaps

he

takes

things

a

little

more

seriously

than

he

should

at

his

age."

Sensitive.

That

killed

me.

That

guy

Morrow

was

about

as

sensitive

as

a

goddam

toilet

seat.

I

gave

her

a

good

look.

She

didn't

look

like

any

dope

to

me.

She

looked

like

she

might

have

a

pretty

damn

good

idea

what

a

bastard

she

was

the

mother

of.

But

you

can't

always

tell--with

somebody's

mother,

I

mean.

Mothers

are

all

slightly

insane.

The

thing

is,

though,

I

liked

old

Morrow's

mother.

She

was

all

right.

"Would

you

care

for

a

cigarette?"

I

asked

her.

She

looked

all

around.

"I

don't

believe

this

is

a

smoker,

Rudolf,"

she

said.

Rudolf.

That

killed

me.

"That's

all

right.

We

can

smoke

till

they

start

screaming

at

us,"

I

said.

She

took

a

cigarette

off

me,

and

I

gave

her

a

light.

She

looked

nice,

smoking.

She

inhaled

and

all,

but

she

didn't

wolf

the

smoke

down,

the

way

most

women

around

her

age

do.

She

had

a

lot

of

charm.

She

had

quite

a

lot

of

sex

appeal,

too,

if

you

really

want

to

know.

She

was

looking

at

me

sort

of

funny.

I

may

be

wrong

but

I

believe

your

nose

is

bleeding,

dear,

she

said,

all

of

a

sudden.

I

nodded

and

took

out

my

handkerchief.

"I

got

hit

with

a

snowball,"

I

said.

"One

of

those

very

icy

ones."

I

probably

would've

told

her

what

really

happened,

but

it

would've

taken

too

long.

I

liked

her,

though.

I

was

beginning

to

feel

sort

of

sorry

I'd

told

her

my

name

was

Rudolf

Schmidt.

"Old

Ernie,"

I

said.

"He's

one

of

the

most

popular

boys

at

Pencey.

Did

you

know

that?"

"No,

I

didn't."

I

nodded.

"It

really

took

everybody

quite

a

long

time

to

get

to

know

him.

He's

a

funny

guy.

A

strange

guy,

in

lots

of

ways--know

what

I

mean?

Like

when

I

first

met

him.

When

I

first

met

him,

I

thought

he

was

kind

of

a

snobbish

person.

That's

what

I

thought.

But

he

isn't.

He's

just

got

this

very

original

personality

that

takes

you

a

little

while

to

get

to

know

him."

Old

Mrs.

Morrow

didn't

say

anything,

but

boy,

you

should've

seen

her.

I

had

her

glued

to

her

seat.

You

take

somebody's

mother,

all

they

want

to

hear

about

is

what

a

hotshot

their

son

is.

Then

I

really

started

chucking

the

old

crap

around.

"Did

he

tell

you

about

the

elections?"

I

asked

her.

"The

class

elections?"

She

shook

her

head.

I

had

her

in

a

trance,

like.

I

really

did.

"Well,

a

bunch

of

us

wanted

old

Ernie

to

be

president

of

the

class.

I

mean

he

was

the

unanimous

choice.

I

mean

he

was

the

only

boy

that

could

really

handle

the

job,"

I

said--boy,

was

I

chucking

it.

"But

this

other

boy--Harry

Fencer--was

elected.

And

the

reason

he

was

elected,

the

simple

and

obvious

reason,

was

because

Ernie

wouldn't

let

us

nominate

him.

Because

he's

so

darn

shy

and

modest

and

all.

He

refused.

.

.

Boy,

he's

really

shy.

You

oughta

make

him

try

to

get

over

that."

I

looked

at

her.

"Didn't

he

tell

you

about

it?"

"No,

he

didn't."

I

nodded.

"That's

Ernie.

He

wouldn't.

That's

the

one

fault

with

him--he's

too

shy

and

modest.

You

really

oughta

get

him

to

try

to

relax

occasionally."

Right

that

minute,

the

conductor

came

around

for

old

Mrs.

Morrow's

ticket,

and

it

gave

me

a

chance

to

quit

shooting

it.

I'm

glad

I

shot

it

for

a

while,

though.

You

take

a

guy

like

Morrow

that's

always

snapping

their

towel

at

people's

asses--really

trying

to

hurt

somebody

with

it--they

don't

just

stay

a

rat

while

they're

a

kid.

They

stay

a

rat

their

whole

life.

But

I'll

bet,

after

all

the

crap

I

shot,

Mrs.

Morrow'll

keep

thinking

of

him

now

as

this

very

shy,

modest

guy

that

wouldn't

let

us

nominate

him

for

president.

She

might.

You

can't

tell.

Mothers

aren't

too

sharp

about

that

stuff.

"Would

you

care

for

a

cocktail?"

I

asked

her.

I

was

feeling

in

the

mood

for

one

myself.

"We

can

go

in

the

club

car.

All

right?"

"Dear,

are

you

allowed

to

order

drinks?"

she

asked

me.

Not

snotty,

though.

She

was

too

charming

and

all

to

be

snotty.

"Well,

no,

not

exactly,

but

I

can

usually

get

them

on

account

of

my

heighth,"

I

said.

"And

I

have

quite

a

bit

of

gray

hair."

I

turned

sideways

and

showed

her

my

gray

hair.

It

fascinated

hell

out

of

her.

"C'mon,

join

me,

why

don't

you?"

I

said.

I'd've

enjoyed

having

her.

"I

really

don't

think

I'd

better.

Thank

you

so

much,

though,

dear,"

she

said.

"Anyway,

the

club

car's

most

likely

closed.

It's

quite

late,

you

know."

She

was

right.

I'd

forgotten

all

about

what

time

it

was.

Then

she

looked

at

me

and

asked

me

what

I

was

afraid

she

was

going

to

ask

me.

"Ernest

wrote

that

he'd

be

home

on

Wednesday,

that

Christmas

vacation

would

start

on

Wednesday,"

she

said.

"I

hope

you

weren't

called

home

suddenly

because

of

illness

in

the

family."

She

really

looked

worried

about

it.

She

wasn't

just

being

nosy,

you

could

tell.

"No,

everybody's

fine

at

home,"

I

said.

"It's

me.

I

have

to

have

this

operation."

"Oh!

I'm

so

sorry,"

she

said.

She

really

was,

too.

I

was

right

away

sorry

I'd

said

it,

but

it

was

too

late.

"It

isn't

very

serious.

I

have

this

tiny

little

tumor

on

the

brain."

"Oh,

no!"

She

put

her

hand

up

to

her

mouth

and

all.

"Oh,

I'll

be

all

right

and

everything!

It's

right

near

the

outside.

And

it's

a

very

tiny

one.

They

can

take

it

out

in

about

two

minutes."

Then

I

started

reading

this

timetable

I

had

in

my

pocket.

Just

to

stop

lying.

Once

I

get

started,

I

can

go

on

for

hours

if

I

feel

like

it.

No

kidding.

Hours.

We

didn't

talk

too

much

after

that.

She

started

reading

this

Vogue

she

had

with

her,

and

I

looked

out

the

window

for

a

while.

She

got

off

at

Newark.

She

wished

me

a

lot

of

luck

with

the

operation

and

all.

She

kept

calling

me

Rudolf.

Then

she

invited

me

to

visit

Ernie

during

the

summer,

at

Gloucester,

Massachusetts.

She

said

their

house

was

right

on

the

beach,

and

they

had

a

tennis

court

and

all,

but

I

just

thanked

her

and

told

her

I

was

going

to

South

America

with

my

grandmother.

Which

was

really

a

hot

one,

because

my

grandmother

hardly

ever

even

goes

out

of

the

house,

except

maybe

to

go

to

a

goddam

matinee

or

something.

But

I

wouldn't

visit

that

sonuvabitch

Morrow

for

all

the

dough

in

the

world,

even

if

I

was

desperate.

9

The

first

thing

I

did

when

I

got

off

at

Penn

Station,

I

went

into

this

phone

booth.

I

felt

like

giving

somebody

a

buzz.

I

left

my

bags

right

outside

the

booth

so

that

I

could

watch

them,

but

as

soon

as

I

was

inside,

I

couldn't

think

of

anybody

to

call

up.

My

brother

D.B.

was

in

Hollywood.

My

kid

sister

Phoebe

goes

to

bed

around

nine

o'clock--

so

I

couldn't

call

her

up.

She

wouldn't've

cared

if

I'd

woke

her

up,

but

the

trouble

was,

she

wouldn't've

been

the

one

that

answered

the

phone.

My

parents

would

be

the

ones.

So

that

was

out.

Then

I

thought

of

giving

Jane

Gallagher's

mother

a

buzz,

and

find

out

when

Jane's

vacation

started,

but

I

didn't

feel

like

it.

Besides,

it

was

pretty

late

to

call

up.

Then

I

thought

of

calling

this

girl

I

used

to

go

around

with

quite

frequently,

Sally

Hayes,

because

I

knew

her

Christmas

vacation

had

started

already--she'd

written

me

this

long,

phony

letter,

inviting

me

over

to

help

her

trim

the

Christmas

tree

Christmas

Eve

and

all--

but

I

was

afraid

her

mother'd

answer

the

phone.

Her

mother

knew

my

mother,

and

I

could

picture

her

breaking

a

goddam

leg

to

get

to

the

phone

and

tell

my

mother

I

was

in

New

York.

Besides,

I

wasn't

crazy

about

talking

to

old

Mrs.

Hayes

on

the

phone.

She

once

told

Sally

I

was

wild.

She

said

I

was

wild

and

that

I

had

no

direction

in

life.

Then

I

thought

of

calling

up

this

guy

that

went

to

the

Whooton

School

when

I

was

there,

Carl

Luce,

but

I

didn't

like

him

much.

So

I

ended

up

not

calling

anybody.

I

came

out

of

the

booth,

after

about

twenty

minutes

or

so,

and

got

my

bags

and

walked

over

to

that

tunnel

where

the

cabs

are

and

got

a

cab.

I'm

so

damn

absent-minded,

I

gave

the

driver

my

regular

address,

just

out

of

habit

and

all--I

mean

I

completely

forgot

I

was

going

to

shack

up

in

a

hotel

for

a

couple

of

days

and

not

go

home

till

vacation

started.

I

didn't

think

of

it

till

we

were

halfway

through

the

park.

Then

I

said,

"Hey,

do

you

mind

turning

around

when

you

get

a

chance?

I

gave

you

the

wrong

address.

I

want

to

go

back

downtown."

The

driver

was

sort

of

a

wise

guy.

"I

can't

turn

around

here,

Mac.

This

here's

a

one-way.

I'll

have

to

go

all

the

way

to

Ninedieth

Street

now."

I

didn't

want

to

start

an

argument.

"Okay,"

I

said.

Then

I

thought

of

something,

all

of

a

sudden.

"Hey,

listen,"

I

said.

"You

know

those

ducks

in

that

lagoon

right

near

Central

Park

South?

That

little

lake?

By

any

chance,

do

you

happen

to

know

where

they

go,

the

ducks,

when

it

gets

all

frozen

over?

Do

you

happen

to

know,

by

any

chance?"

I

realized

it

was

only

one

chance

in

a

million.

He

turned

around

and

looked

at

me

like

I

was

a

madman.

"What're

ya

tryna

do,

bud?"

he

said.

"Kid

me?"

"No--I

was

just

interested,

that's

all."

He

didn't

say

anything

more,

so

I

didn't

either.

Until

we

came

out

of

the

park

at

Ninetieth

Street.

Then

he

said,

"All

right,

buddy.

Where

to?"

"Well,

the

thing

is,

I

don't

want

to

stay

at

any

hotels

on

the

East

Side

where

I

might

run

into

some

acquaintances

of

mine.

I'm

traveling

incognito,"

I

said.

I

hate

saying

corny

things

like

"traveling

incognito."

But

when

I'm

with

somebody

that's

corny,

I

always

act

corny

too.

"Do

you

happen

to

know

whose

band's

at

the

Taft

or

the

New

Yorker,

by

any

chance?"

"No

idear,

Mac."

"Well--take

me

to

the

Edmont

then,"

I

said.

"Would

you

care

to

stop

on

the

way

and

join

me

for

a

cocktail?

On

me.

I'm

loaded."

"Can't

do

it,

Mac.

Sorry."

He

certainly

was

good

company.

Terrific

personality.

We

got

to

the

Edmont

Hotel,

and

I

checked

in.

I'd

put

on

my

red

hunting

cap

when

I

was

in

the

cab,

just

for

the

hell

of

it,

but

I

took

it

off

before

I

checked

in.

I

didn't

want

to

look

like

a

screwball

or

something.

Which

is

really

ironic.

I

didn't

know

then

that

the

goddam

hotel

was

full

of

perverts

and

morons.

Screwballs

all

over

the

place.

They

gave

me

this

very

crumby

room,

with

nothing

to

look

out

of

the

window

at

except

the

other

side

of

the

hotel.

I

didn't

care

much.

I

was

too

depressed

to

care

whether

I

had

a

good

view

or

not.

The

bellboy

that

showed

me

to

the

room

was

this

very

old

guy

around

sixty-five.

He

was

even

more

depressing

than

the

room

was.

He

was

one

of

those

bald

guys

that

comb

all

their

hair

over

from

the

side

to

cover

up

the

baldness.

I'd

rather

be

bald

than

do

that.

Anyway,

what

a

gorgeous

job

for

a

guy

around

sixty-five

years

old.

Carrying

people's

suitcases

and

waiting

around

for

a

tip.

I

suppose

he

wasn't

too

intelligent

or

anything,

but

it

was

terrible

anyway.

After

he

left,

I

looked

out

the

window

for

a

while,

with

my

coat

on

and

all.

I

didn't

have

anything

else

to

do.

You'd

be

surprised

what

was

going

on

on

the

other

side

of

the

hotel.

They

didn't

even

bother

to

pull

their

shades

down.

I

saw

one

guy,

a

gray-haired,

very

distinguished-looking

guy

with

only

his

shorts

on,

do

something

you

wouldn't

believe

me

if

I

told

you.

First

he

put

his

suitcase

on

the

bed.

Then

he

took

out

all

these

women's

clothes,

and

put

them

on.

Real

women's

clothes--silk

stockings,

high-heeled

shoes,

brassiere,

and

one

of

those

corsets

with

the

straps

hanging

down

and

all.

Then

he

put

on

this

very

tight

black

evening

dress.

I

swear

to

God.

Then

he

started

walking

up

and

down

the

room,

taking

these

very

small

steps,

the

way

a

woman

does,

and

smoking

a

cigarette

and

looking

at

himself

in

the

mirror.

He

was

all

alone,

too.

Unless

somebody

was

in

the

bathroom--I

couldn't

see

that

much.

Then,

in

the

window

almost

right

over

his,

I

saw

a

man

and

a

woman

squirting

water

out

of

their

mouths

at

each

other.

It

probably

was

highballs,

not

water,

but

I

couldn't

see

what

they

had

in

their

glasses.

Anyway,

first

he'd

take

a

swallow

and

squirt

it

all

over

her,

then

she

did

it

to

him--they

took

turns,

for

God's

sake.

You

should've

seen

them.

They

were

in

hysterics

the

whole

time,

like

it

was

the

funniest

thing

that

ever

happened.

I'm

not

kidding,

the

hotel

was

lousy

with

perverts.

I

was

probably

the

only

normal

bastard

in

the

whole

place--and

that

isn't

saying

much.

I

damn

near

sent

a

telegram

to

old

Stradlater

telling

him

to

take

the

first

train

to

New

York.

He'd

have

been

the

king

of

the

hotel.

The

trouble

was,

that

kind

of

junk

is

sort

of

fascinating

to

watch,

even

if

you

don't

want

it

to

be.

For

instance,

that

girl

that

was

getting

water

squirted

all

over

her

face,

she

was

pretty

good-looking.

I

mean

that's

my

big

trouble.

In

my

mind,

I'm

probably

the

biggest

sex

maniac

you

ever

saw.

Sometimes

I

can

think

of

very

crumby

stuff

I

wouldn't

mind

doing

if

the

opportunity

came

up.

I

can

even

see

how

it

might

be

quite

a

lot

of

fun,

in

a

crumby

way,

and

if

you

were

both

sort

of

drunk

and

all,

to

get

a

girl

and

squirt

water

or

something

all

over

each

other's

face.

The

thing

is,

though,

I

don't

like

the

idea.

It

stinks,

if

you

analyze

it.

I

think

if

you

don't

really

like

a

girl,

you

shouldn't

horse

around

with

her

at

all,

and

if

you

do

like

her,

then

you're

supposed

to

like

her

face,

and

if

you

like

her

face,

you

ought

to

be

careful

about

doing

crumby

stuff

to

it,

like

squirting

water

all

over

it.

It's

really

too

bad

that

so

much

crumby

stuff

is

a

lot

of

fun

sometimes.

Girls

aren't

too

much

help,

either,

when

you

start

trying

not

to

get

too

crumby,

when

you

start

trying

not

to

spoil

anything

really

good.

I

knew

this

one

girl,

a

couple

of

years

ago,

that

was

even

crumbier

than

I

was.

Boy,

was

she

crumby!

We

had

a

lot

of

fun,

though,

for

a

while,

in

a

crumby

way.

Sex

is

something

I

really

don't

understand

too

hot.

You

never

know

where

the

hell

you

are.

I

keep

making

up

these

sex

rules

for

myself,

and

then

I

break

them

right

away.

Last

year

I

made

a

rule

that

I

was

going

to

quit

horsing

around

with

girls

that,

deep

down,

gave

me

a

pain

in

the

ass.

I

broke

it,

though,

the

same

week

I

made

it--the

same

night,

as

a

matter

of

fact.

I

spent

the

whole

night

necking

with

a

terrible

phony

named

Anne

Louise

Sherman.

Sex

is

something

I

just

don't

understand.

I

swear

to

God

I

don't.

I

started

toying

with

the

idea,

while

I

kept

standing

there,

of

giving

old

Jane

a

buzz--I

mean

calling

her

long

distance

at

B.M.,

where

she

went,

instead

of

calling

up

her

mother

to

find

out

when

she

was

coming

home.

You

weren't

supposed

to

call

students

up

late

at

night,

but

I

had

it

all

figured

out.

I

was

going

to

tell

whoever

answered

the

phone

that

I

was

her

uncle.

I

was

going

to

say

her

aunt

had

just

got

killed

in

a

car

accident

and

I

had

to

speak

to

her

immediately.

It

would've

worked,

too.

The

only

reason

I

didn't

do

it

was

because

I

wasn't

in

the

mood.

If

you're

not

in

the

mood,

you

can't

do

that

stuff

right.

After

a

while

I

sat

down

in

a

chair

and

smoked

a

couple

of

cigarettes.

I

was

feeling

pretty

horny.

I

have

to

admit

it.

Then,

all

of

a

sudden,

I

got

this

idea.

I

took

out

my

wallet

and

started

looking

for

this

address

a

guy

I

met

at

a

party

last

summer,

that

went

to

Princeton,

gave

me.

Finally

I

found

it.

It

was

all

a

funny

color

from

my

wallet,

but

you

could

still

read

it.

It

was

the

address

of

this

girl

that

wasn't

exactly

a

whore

or

anything

but

that

didn't

mind

doing

it

once

in

a

while,

this

Princeton

guy

told

me.

He

brought

her

to

a

dance

at

Princeton

once,

and

they

nearly

kicked

him

out

for

bringing

her.

She

used

to

be

a

burlesque

stripper

or

something.

Anyway,

I

went

over

to

the

phone

and

gave

her

a

buzz.

Her

name

was

Faith

Cavendish,

and

she

lived

at

the

Stanford

Arms

Hotel

on

Sixty-fifth

and

Broadway.

A

dump,

no

doubt.

For

a

while,

I

didn

t

think

she

was

home

or

something.

Nobody

kept

answering.

Then,

finally,

somebody

picked

up

the

phone.

"Hello?"

I

said.

I

made

my

voice

quite

deep

so

that

she

wouldn't

suspect

my

age

or

anything.

I

have

a

pretty

deep

voice

anyway.

"Hello,"

this

woman's

voice

said.

None

too

friendly,

either.

"Is

this

Miss

Faith

Cavendish?"

"Who's

this?"

she

said.

"Who's

calling

me

up

at

this

crazy

goddam

hour?"

That

sort

of

scared

me

a

little

bit.

"Well,

I

know

it's

quite

late,"

I

said,

in

this

very

mature

voice

and

all.

"I

hope

you'll

forgive

me,

but

I

was

very

anxious

to

get

in

touch

with

you."

I

said

it

suave

as

hell.

I

really

did.

"Who

is

this?"

she

said.

"Well,

you

don't

know

me,

but

I'm

a

friend

of

Eddie

Birdsell's.

He

suggested

that

if

I

were

in

town

sometime,

we

ought

to

get

together

for

a

cocktail

or

two."

"Who?

You're

a

friend

of

who?"

Boy,

she

was

a

real

tigress

over

the

phone.

She

was

damn

near

yelling

at

me.

"Edmund

Birdsell.

Eddie

Birdsell,"

I

said.

I

couldn't

remember

if

his

name

was

Edmund

or

Edward.

I

only

met

him

once,

at

a

goddam

stupid

party.

"I

don't

know

anybody

by

that

name,

Jack.

And

if

you

think

I

enjoy

bein'

woke

up

in

the

middle--"

"Eddie

Birdsell?

From

Princeton?"

I

said.

You

could

tell

she

was

running

the

name

over

in

her

mind

and

all.

"Birdsell,

Birdsell.

.

.

from

Princeton..

.

Princeton

College?"

"That's

right,"

I

said.

"You

from

Princeton

College?"

"Well,

approximately."

"Oh.

.

.

How

is

Eddie?"

she

said.

"This

is

certainly

a

peculiar

time

to

call

a

person

up,

though.

Jesus

Christ."

"He's

fine.

He

asked

to

be

remembered

to

you."

"Well,

thank

you.

Remember

me

to

him,"

she

said.

"He's

a

grand

person.

What's

he

doing

now?"

She

was

getting

friendly

as

hell,

all

of

a

sudden.

"Oh,

you

know.

Same

old

stuff,"

I

said.

How

the

hell

did

I

know

what

he

was

doing?

I

hardly

knew

the

guy.

I

didn't

even

know

if

he

was

still

at

Princeton.

"Look,"

I

said.

"Would

you

be

interested

in

meeting

me

for

a

cocktail

somewhere?"

"By

any

chance

do

you

have

any

idea

what

time

it

is?"

she

said.

"What's

your

name,

anyhow,

may

I

ask?"

She

was

getting

an

English

accent,

all

of

a

sudden.

"You

sound

a

little

on

the

young

side."

I

laughed.

"Thank

you

for

the

compliment,"

I

said--

suave

as

hell.

"Holden

Caulfield's

my

name."

I

should've

given

her

a

phony

name,

but

I

didn't

think

of

it.

"Well,

look,

Mr.

Cawffle.

I'm

not

in

the

habit

of

making

engagements

in

the

middle

of

the

night.

I'm

a

working

gal."

"Tomorrow's

Sunday,"

I

told

her.

"Well,

anyway.

I

gotta

get

my

beauty

sleep.

You

know

how

it

is."

"I

thought

we

might

have

just

one

cocktail

together.

It

isn't

too

late."

"Well.

You're

very

sweet,"

she

said.

"Where

ya

callin'

from?

Where

ya

at

now,

anyways?"

"Me?

I'm

in

a

phone

booth."

"Oh,"

she

said.

Then

there

was

this

very

long

pause.

"Well,

I'd

like

awfully

to

get

together

with

you

sometime,

Mr.

Cawffle.

You

sound

very

attractive.

You

sound

like

a

very

attractive

person.

But

it

is

late."

"I

could

come

up

to

your

place."

"Well,

ordinary,

I'd

say

grand.

I

mean

I'd

love

to

have

you

drop

up

for

a

cocktail,

but

my

roommate

happens

to

be

ill.

She's

been

laying

here

all

night

without

a

wink

of

sleep.

She

just

this

minute

closed

her

eyes

and

all.

I

mean."

"Oh.

That's

too

bad."

"Where

ya

stopping

at?

Perhaps

we

could

get

together

for

cocktails

tomorrow."

"I

can't

make

it

tomorrow,"

I

said.

"Tonight's

the

only

time

I

can

make

it."

What

a

dope

I

was.

I

shouldn't've

said

that.

"Oh.

Well,

I'm

awfully

sorry."

"I'll

say

hello

to

Eddie

for

you."

"Willya

do

that?

I

hope

you

enjoy

your

stay

in

New

York.

It's

a

grand

place."

"I

know

it

is.

Thanks.

Good

night,"

I

said.

Then

I

hung

up.

Boy,

I

really

fouled

that

up.

I

should've

at

least

made

it

for

cocktails

or

something.

10

It

was

still

pretty

early.

I'm

not

sure

what

time

it

was,

but

it

wasn't

too

late.

The

one

thing

I

hate

to

do

is

go

to

bed

when

I'm

not

even

tired.

So

I

opened

my

suitcases

and

took

out

a

clean

shirt,

and

then

I

went

in

the

bathroom

and

washed

and

changed

my

shirt.

What

I

thought

I'd

do,

I

thought

I'd

go

downstairs

and

see

what

the

hell

was

going

on

in

the

Lavender

Room.

They

had

this

night

club,

the

Lavender

Room,

in

the

hotel.

While

I

was

changing

my

shirt,

I

damn

near

gave

my

kid

sister

Phoebe

a

buzz,

though.

I

certainly

felt

like

talking

to

her

on

the

phone.

Somebody

with

sense

and

all.

But

I

couldn't

take

a

chance

on

giving

her

a

buzz,

because

she

was

only

a

little

kid

and

she

wouldn't

have

been

up,

let

alone

anywhere

near

the

phone.

I

thought

of

maybe

hanging

up

if

my

parents

answered,

but

that

wouldn't've

worked,

either.

They'd

know

it

was

me.

My

mother

always

knows

it's

me.

She's

psychic.

But

I

certainly

wouldn't

have

minded

shooting

the

crap

with

old

Phoebe

for

a

while.

You

should

see

her.

You

never

saw

a

little

kid

so

pretty

and

smart

in

your

whole

life.

She's

really

smart.

I

mean

she's

had

all

A's

ever

since

she

started

school.

As

a

matter

of

fact,

I'm

the

only

dumb

one

in

the

family.

My

brother

D.B.'s

a

writer

and

all,

and

my

brother

Allie,

the

one

that

died,

that

I

told

you

about,

was

a

wizard.

I'm

the

only

really

dumb

one.

But

you

ought

to

see

old

Phoebe.

She

has

this

sort

of

red

hair,

a

little

bit

like

Allie's

was,

that's

very

short

in

the

summertime.

In

the

summertime,

she

sticks

it

behind

her

ears.

She

has

nice,

pretty

little

ears.

In

the

wintertime,

it's

pretty

long,

though.

Sometimes

my

mother

braids

it

and

sometimes

she

doesn't.

It's

really

nice,

though.

She's

only

ten.

She's

quite

skinny,

like

me,

but

nice

skinny.

Roller-skate

skinny.

I

watched

her

once

from

the

window

when

she

was

crossing

over

Fifth

Avenue

to

go

to

the

park,

and

that's

what

she

is,

roller-skate

skinny.

You'd

like

her.

I

mean

if

you

tell

old

Phoebe

something,

she

knows

exactly

what

the

hell

you're

talking

about.

I

mean

you

can

even

take

her

anywhere

with

you.

If

you

take

her

to

a

lousy

movie,

for

instance,

she

knows

it's

a

lousy

movie.

If

you

take

her

to

a

pretty

good

movie,

she

knows

it's

a

pretty

good

movie.

D.B.

and

I

took

her

to

see

this

French

movie,

The

Baker's

Wife,

with

Raimu

in

it.

It

killed

her.

Her

favorite

is

The

39

Steps,

though,

with

Robert

Donat.

She

knows

the

whole

goddam

movie

by

heart,

because

I've

taken

her

to

see

it

about

ten

times.

When

old

Donat

comes

up

to

this

Scotch

farmhouse,

for

instance,

when

he's

running

away

from

the

cops

and

all,

Phoebe'll

say

right

out

loud

in

the

movie--right

when

the

Scotch

guy

in

the

picture

says

it--"Can

you

eat

the

herring?"

She

knows

all

the

talk

by

heart.

And

when

this

professor

in

the

picture,

that's

really

a

German

spy,

sticks

up

his

little

finger

with

part

of

the

middle

joint

missing,

to

show

Robert

Donat,

old

Phoebe

beats

him

to

it--she

holds

up

her

little

finger

at

me

in

the

dark,

right

in

front

of

my

face.

She's

all

right.

You'd

like

her.

The

only

trouble

is,

she's

a

little

too

affectionate

sometimes.

She's

very

emotional,

for

a

child.

She

really

is.

Something

else

she

does,

she

writes

books

all

the

time.

Only,

she

doesn't

finish

them.

They're

all

about

some

kid

named

Hazel

Weatherfield--only

old

Phoebe

spells

it

"Hazle."

Old

Hazle

Weatherfield

is

a

girl

detective.

She's

supposed

to

be

an

orphan,

but

her

old

man

keeps

showing

up.

Her

old

man's

always

a

"tall

attractive

gentleman

about

20

years

of

age."

That

kills

me.

Old

Phoebe.

I

swear

to

God

you'd

like

her.

She

was

smart

even

when

she

was

a

very

tiny

little

kid.

When

she

was

a

very

tiny

little

kid,

I

and

Allie

used

to

take

her

to

the

park

with

us,

especially

on

Sundays.

Allie

had

this

sailboat

he

used

to

like

to

fool

around

with

on

Sundays,

and

we

used

to

take

old

Phoebe

with

us.

She'd

wear

white

gloves

and

walk

right

between

us,

like

a

lady

and

all.

And

when

Allie

and

I

were

having

some

conversation

about

things

in

general,

old

Phoebe'd

be

listening.

Sometimes

you'd

forget

she

was

around,

because

she

was

such

a

little

kid,

but

she'd

let

you

know.

She'd

interrupt

you

all

the

time.

She'd

give

Allie

or

I

a

push

or

something,

and

say,

"Who?

Who

said

that?

Bobby

or

the

lady?"

And

we'd

tell

her

who

said

it,

and

she'd

say,

"Oh,"

and

go

right

on

listening

and

all.

She

killed

Allie,

too.

I

mean

he

liked

her,

too.

She's

ten

now,

and

not

such

a

tiny

little

kid

any

more,

but

she

still

kills

everybody--everybody

with

any

sense,

anyway.

Anyway,

she

was

somebody

you

always

felt

like

talking

to

on

the

phone.

But

I

was

too

afraid

my

parents

would

answer,

and

then

they'd

find

out

I

was

in

New

York

and

kicked

out

of

Pencey

and

all.

So

I

just

finished

putting

on

my

shirt.

Then

I

got

all

ready

and

went

down

in

the

elevator

to

the

lobby

to

see

what

was

going

on.

Except

for

a

few

pimpy-looking

guys,

and

a

few

whory-looking

blondes,

the

lobby

was

pretty

empty.

But

you

could

hear

the

band

playing

in

the

Lavender

Room,

and

so

I

went

in

there.

It

wasn't

very

crowded,

but

they

gave

me

a

lousy

table

anyway--way

in

the

back.

I

should've

waved

a

buck

under

the

head-waiter's

nose.

In

New

York,

boy,

money

really

talks--I'm

not

kidding.

The

band

was

putrid.

Buddy

Singer.

Very

brassy,

but

not

good

brassy--corny

brassy.

Also,

there

were

very

few

people

around

my

age

in

the

place.

In

fact,

nobody

was

around

my

age.

They

were

mostly

old,

show-offy-looking

guys

with

their

dates.

Except

at

the

table

right

next

to

me.

At

the

table

right

next

to

me,

there

were

these

three

girls

around

thirty

or

so.

The

whole

three

of

them

were

pretty

ugly,

and

they

all

had

on

the

kind

of

hats

that

you

knew

they

didn't

really

live

in

New

York,

but

one

of

them,

the

blonde

one,

wasn't

too

bad.

She

was

sort

of

cute,

the

blonde

one,

and

I

started

giving

her

the

old

eye

a

little

bit,

but

just

then

the

waiter

came

up

for

my

order.

I

ordered

a

Scotch

and

soda,

and

told

him

not

to

mix

it--I

said

it

fast

as

hell,

because

if

you

hem

and

haw,

they

think

you're

under

twenty-one

and

won't

sell

you

any

intoxicating

liquor.

I

had

trouble

with

him

anyway,

though.

"I'm

sorry,

sir,"

he

said,

"but

do

you

have

some

verification

of

your

age?

Your

driver's

license,

perhaps?"

I

gave

him

this

very

cold

stare,

like

he'd

insulted

the

hell

out

of

me,

and

asked

him,

"Do

I

look

like

I'm

under

twenty-one?"

"I'm

sorry,

sir,

but

we

have

our--"

"Okay,

okay,"

I

said.

I

figured

the

hell

with

it.

"Bring

me

a

Coke."

He

started

to

go

away,

but

I

called

him

back.

"Can'tcha

stick

a

little

rum

in

it

or

something?"

I

asked

him.

I

asked

him

very

nicely

and

all.

"I

can't

sit

in

a

corny

place

like

this

cold

sober.

Can'tcha

stick

a

little

rum

in

it

or

something?"

"I'm

very

sorry,

sir.

.

."

he

said,

and

beat

it

on

me.

I

didn't

hold

it

against

him,

though.

They

lose

their

jobs

if

they

get

caught

selling

to

a

minor.

I'm

a

goddam

minor.

I

started

giving

the

three

witches

at

the

next

table

the

eye

again.

That

is,

the

blonde

one.

The

other

two

were

strictly

from

hunger.

I

didn't

do

it

crudely,

though.

I

just

gave

all

three

of

them

this

very

cool

glance

and

all.

What

they

did,

though,

the

three

of

them,

when

I

did

it,

they

started

giggling

like

morons.

They

probably

thought

I

was

too

young

to

give

anybody

the

once-over.

That

annoyed

hell

out

of

me--

you'd've

thought

I

wanted

to

marry

them

or

something.

I

should've

given

them

the

freeze,

after

they

did

that,

but

the

trouble

was,

I

really

felt

like

dancing.

I'm

very

fond

of

dancing,

sometimes,

and

that

was

one

of

the

times.

So

all

of

a

sudden,

I

sort

of

leaned

over

and

said,

"Would

any

of

you

girls

care

to

dance?"

I

didn't

ask

them

crudely

or

anything.

Very

suave,

in

fact.

But

God

damn

it,

they

thought

that

was

a

panic,

too.

They

started

giggling

some

more.

I'm

not

kidding,

they

were

three

real

morons.

"C'mon,"

I

said.

"I'll

dance

with

you

one

at

a

time.

All

right?

How

'bout

it?

C'mon!"

I

really

felt

like

dancing.

Finally,

the

blonde

one

got

up

to

dance

with

me,

because

you

could

tell

I

was

really

talking

to

her,

and

we

walked

out

to

the

dance

floor.

The

other

two

grools

nearly

had

hysterics

when

we

did.

I

certainly

must've

been

very

hard

up

to

even

bother

with

any

of

them.

But

it

was

worth

it.

The

blonde

was

some

dancer.

She

was

one

of

the

best

dancers

I

ever

danced

with.

I'm

not

kidding,

some

of

these

very

stupid

girls

can

really

knock

you

out

on

a

dance

floor.

You

take

a

really

smart

girl,

and

half

the

time

she's

trying

to

lead

you

around

the

dance

floor,

or

else

she's

such

a

lousy

dancer,

the

best

thing

to

do

is

stay

at

the

table

and

just

get

drunk

with

her.

"You

really

can

dance,"

I

told

the

blonde

one.

"You

oughta

be

a

pro.

I

mean

it.

I

danced

with

a

pro

once,

and

you're

twice

as

good

as

she

was.

Did

you

ever

hear

of

Marco

and

Miranda?"

"What?"

she

said.

She

wasn't

even

listening

to

me.

She

was

looking

all

around

the

place.

"I

said

did

you

ever

hear

of

Marco

and

Miranda?"

"I

don't

know.

No.

I

don't

know."

"Well,

they're

dancers,

she's

a

dancer.

She's

not

too

hot,

though.

She

does

everything

she's

supposed

to,

but

she's

not

so

hot

anyway.

You

know

when

a

girl's

really

a

terrific

dancer?"

"Wudga

say?"

she

said.

She

wasn't

listening

to

me,

even.

Her

mind

was

wandering

all

over

the

place.

"I

said

do

you

know

when

a

girl's

really

a

terrific

dancer?"

"Uh-uh."

"Well--where

I

have

my

hand

on

your

back.

If

I

think

there

isn't

anything

underneath

my

hand--no

can,

no

legs,

no

feet,

no

anything--then

the

girl's

really

a

terrific

dancer."

She

wasn't

listening,

though.

So

I

ignored

her

for

a

while.

We

just

danced.

God,

could

that

dopey

girl

dance.

Buddy

Singer

and

his

stinking

band

was

playing

"Just

One

of

Those

Things"

and

even

they

couldn't

ruin

it

entirely.

It's

a

swell

song.

I

didn't

try

any

trick

stuff

while

we

danced--I

hate

a

guy

that

does

a

lot

of

show-off

tricky

stuff

on

the

dance

floor--but

I

was

moving

her

around

plenty,

and

she

stayed

with

me.

The

funny

thing

is,

I

thought

she

was

enjoying

it,

too,

till

all

of

a

sudden

she

came

out

with

this

very

dumb

remark.

"I

and

my

girl

friends

saw

Peter

Lorre

last

night,"

she

said.

"The

movie

actor.

In

person.

He

was

buyin'

a

newspaper.

He's

cute."

"You're

lucky,"

I

told

her.

"You're

really

lucky.

You

know

that?"

She

was

really

a

moron.

But

what

a

dancer.

I

could

hardly

stop

myself

from

sort

of

giving

her

a

kiss

on

the

top

of

her

dopey

head--you

know--

right

where

the

part

is,

and

all.

She

got

sore

when

I

did

it.

"Hey!

What's

the

idea?"

"Nothing.

No

idea.

You

really

can

dance,"

I

said.

"I

have

a

kid

sister

that's

only

in

the

goddam

fourth

grade.

You're

about

as

good

as

she

is,

and

she

can

dance

better

than

anybody

living

or

dead."

"Watch

your

language,

if

you

don't

mind."

What

a

lady,

boy.

A

queen,

for

Chrissake.

"Where

you

girls

from?"

I

asked

her.

She

didn't

answer

me,

though.

She

was

busy

looking

around

for

old

Peter

Lorre

to

show

up,

I

guess.

"Where

you

girls

from?"

I

asked

her

again.

"What?"

she

said.

"Where

you

girls

from?

Don't

answer

if

you

don't

feel

like

it.

I

don't

want

you

to

strain

yourself."

"Seattle,

Washington,"

she

said.

She

was

doing

me

a

big

favor

to

tell

me.

"You're

a

very

good

conversationalist,"

I

told

her.

"You

know

that?"

"What?"

I

let

it

drop.

It

was

over

her

head,

anyway.

"Do

you

feel

like

jitterbugging

a

little

bit,

if

they

play

a

fast

one?

Not

corny

jitterbug,

not

jump

or

anything--just

nice

and

easy.

Everybody'll

all

sit

down

when

they

play

a

fast

one,

except

the

old

guys

and

the

fat

guys,

and

we'll

have

plenty

of

room.

Okay?"

"It's

immaterial

to

me,"

she

said.

"Hey--how

old

are

you,

anyhow?"

That

annoyed

me,

for

some

reason.

"Oh,

Christ.

Don't

spoil

it,"

I

said.

"I'm

twelve,

for

Chrissake.

I'm

big

for

my

age."

"Listen.

I

toleja

about

that.

I

don't

like

that

type

language,"

she

said.

"If

you're

gonna

use

that

type

language,

I

can

go

sit

down

with

my

girl

friends,

you

know."

I

apologized

like

a

madman,

because

the

band

was

starting

a

fast

one.

She

started

jitterbugging

with

me--

but

just

very

nice

and

easy,

not

corny.

She

was

really

good.

All

you

had

to

do

was

touch

her.

And

when

she

turned

around,

her

pretty

little

butt

twitched

so

nice

and

all.

She

knocked

me

out.

I

mean

it.

I

was

half

in

love

with

her

by

the

time

we

sat

down.

That's

the

thing

about

girls.

Every

time

they

do

something

pretty,

even

if

they're

not

much

to

look

at,

or

even

if

they're

sort

of

stupid,

you

fall

half

in

love

with

them,

and

then

you

never

know

where

the

hell

you

are.

Girls.

Jesus

Christ.

They

can

drive

you

crazy.

They

really

can.

They

didn't

invite

me

to

sit

down

at

their

table--

mostly

because

they

were

too

ignorant--but

I

sat

down

anyway.

The

blonde

I'd

been

dancing

with's

name

was

Bernice

something--Crabs

or

Krebs.

The

two

ugly

ones'

names

were

Marty

and

Laverne.

I

told

them

my

name

was

Jim

Steele,

just

for

the

hell

of

it.

Then

I

tried

to

get

them

in

a

little

intelligent

conversation,

but

it

was

practically

impossible.

You

had

to

twist

their

arms.

You

could

hardly

tell

which

was

the

stupidest

of

the

three

of

them.

And

the

whole

three

of

them

kept

looking

all

around

the

goddam

room,

like

as

if

they

expected

a

flock

of

goddam

movie

stars

to

come

in

any

minute.

They

probably

thought

movie

stars

always

hung

out

in

the

Lavender

Room

when

they

came

to

New

York,

instead

of

the

Stork

Club

or

El

Morocco

and

all.

Anyway,

it

took

me

about

a

half

hour

to

find

out

where

they

all

worked

and

all

in

Seattle.

They

all

worked

in

the

same

insurance

office.

I

asked

them

if

they

liked

it,

but

do

you

think

you

could

get

an

intelligent

answer

out

of

those

three

dopes?

I

thought

the

two

ugly

ones,

Marty

and

Laverne,

were

sisters,

but

they

got

very

insulted

when

I

asked

them.

You

could

tell

neither

one

of

them

wanted

to

look

like

the

other

one,

and

you

couldn't

blame

them,

but

it

was

very

amusing

anyway.

I

danced

with

them

all--the

whole

three

of

them--one

at

a

time.

The

one

ugly

one,

Laverne,

wasn't

too

bad

a

dancer,

but

the

other

one,

old

Marty,

was

murder.

Old

Marty

was

like

dragging

the

Statue

of

Liberty

around

the

floor.

The

only

way

I

could

even

half

enjoy

myself

dragging

her

around

was

if

I

amused

myself

a

little.

So

I

told

her

I

just

saw

Gary

Cooper,

the

movie

star,

on

the

other

side

of

the

floor.

"Where?"

she

asked

me--excited

as

hell.

"Where?"

"Aw,

you

just

missed

him.

He

just

went

out.

Why

didn't

you

look

when

I

told

you?"

She

practically

stopped

dancing,

and

started

looking

over

everybody's

heads

to

see

if

she

could

see

him.

"Oh,

shoot!"

she

said.

I'd

just

about

broken

her

heart--

I

really

had.

I

was

sorry

as

hell

I'd

kidded

her.

Some

people

you

shouldn't

kid,

even

if

they

deserve

it.

Here's

what

was

very

funny,

though.

When

we

got

back

to

the

table,

old

Marty

told

the

other

two

that

Gary

Cooper

had

just

gone

out.

Boy,

old

Laverne

and

Bernice

nearly

committed

suicide

when

they

heard

that.

They

got

all

excited

and

asked

Marty

if

she'd

seen

him

and

all.

Old

Mart

said

she'd

only

caught

a

glimpse

of

him.

That

killed

me.

The

bar

was

closing

up

for

the

night,

so

I

bought

them

all

two

drinks

apiece

quick

before

it

closed,

and

I

ordered

two

more

Cokes

for

myself.

The

goddam

table

was

lousy

with

glasses.

The

one

ugly

one,

Laverne,

kept

kidding

me

because

I

was

only

drinking

Cokes.

She

had

a

sterling

sense

of

humor.

She

and

old

Marty

were

drinking

Tom

Collinses--in

the

middle

of

December,

for

God's

sake.

They

didn't

know

any

better.

The

blonde

one,

old

Bernice,

was

drinking

bourbon

and

water.

She

was

really

putting

it

away,

too.

The

whole

three

of

them

kept

looking

for

movie

stars

the

whole

time.

They

hardly

talked--even

to

each

other.

Old

Marty

talked

more

than

the

other

two.

She

kept

saying

these

very

corny,

boring

things,

like

calling

the

can

the

"little

girls'

room,"

and

she

thought

Buddy

Singer's

poor

old

beat-up

clarinet

player

was

really

terrific

when

he

stood

up

and

took

a

couple

of

ice-cold

hot

licks.

She

called

his

clarinet

a

"licorice

stick."

Was

she

corny.

The

other

ugly

one,

Laverne,

thought

she

was

a

very

witty

type.

She

kept

asking

me

to

call

up

my

father

and

ask

him

what

he

was

doing

tonight.

She

kept

asking

me

if

my

father

had

a

date

or

not.

Four

times

she

asked

me

that--she

was

certainly

witty.

Old

Bernice,

the

blonde

one,

didn't

say

hardly

anything

at

all.

Every

time

I'd

ask

her

something,

she

said

"What?"

That

can

get

on

your

nerves

after

a

while.

All

of

a

sudden,

when

they

finished

their

drink,

all

three

of

them

stood

up

on

me

and

said

they

had

to

get

to

bed.

They

said

they

were

going

to

get

up

early

to

see

the

first

show

at

Radio

City

Music

Hall.

I

tried

to

get

them

to

stick

around

for

a

while,

but

they

wouldn't.

So

we

said

good-by

and

all.

I

told

them

I'd

look

them

up

in

Seattle

sometime,

if

I

ever

got

there,

but

I

doubt

if

I

ever

will.

Look

them

up,

I

mean.

With

cigarettes

and

all,

the

check

came

to

about

thirteen

bucks.

I

think

they

should've

at

least

offered

to

pay

for

the

drinks

they

had

before

I

joined

them--I

wouldn't've

let

them,

naturally,

but

they

should've

at

least

offered.

I

didn't

care

much,

though.

They

were

so

ignorant,

and

they

had

those

sad,

fancy

hats

on

and

all.

And

that

business

about

getting

up

early

to

see

the

first

show

at

Radio

City

Music

Hall

depressed

me.

If

somebody,

some

girl

in

an

awful-looking

hat,

for

instance,

comes

all

the

way

to

New

York--from

Seattle,

Washington,

for

God's

sake--and

ends

up

getting

up

early

in

the

morning

to

see

the

goddam

first

show

at

Radio

City

Music

Hall,

it

makes

me

so

depressed

I

can't

stand

it.

I'd've

bought

the

whole

three

of

them

a

hundred

drinks

if

only

they

hadn't

told

me

that.

I

left

the

Lavender

Room

pretty

soon

after

they

did.

They

were

closing

it

up

anyway,

and

the

band

had

quit

a

long

time

ago.

In

the

first

place,

it

was

one

of

those

places

that

are

very

terrible

to

be

in

unless

you

have

somebody

good

to

dance

with,

or

unless

the

waiter

lets

you

buy

real

drinks

instead

of

just

Cokes.

There

isn't

any

night

club

in

the

world

you

can

sit

in

for

a

long

time

unless

you

can

at

least

buy

some

liquor

and

get

drunk.

Or

unless

you're

with

some

girl

that

really

knocks

you

out.

11

All

of

a

sudden,

on

my

way

out

to

the

lobby,

I

got

old

Jane

Gallagher

on

the

brain

again.

I

got

her

on,

and

I

couldn't

get

her

off.

I

sat

down

in

this

vomity-looking

chair

in

the

lobby

and

thought

about

her

and

Stradlater

sitting

in

that

goddam

Ed

Banky's

car,

and

though

I

was

pretty

damn

sure

old

Stradlater

hadn't

given

her

the

time--I

know

old

Jane

like

a

book--I

still

couldn't

get

her

off

my

brain.

I

knew

her

like

a

book.

I

really

did.

I

mean,

besides

checkers,

she

was

quite

fond

of

all

athletic

sports,

and

after

I

got

to

know

her,

the

whole

summer

long

we

played

tennis

together

almost

every

morning

and

golf

almost

every

afternoon.

I

really

got

to

know

her

quite

intimately.

I

don't

mean

it

was

anything

physical

or

anything--it

wasn't--but

we

saw

each

other

all

the

time.

You

don't

always

have

to

get

too

sexy

to

get

to

know

a

girl.

The

way

I

met

her,

this

Doberman

pinscher

she

had

used

to

come

over

and

relieve

himself

on

our

lawn,

and

my

mother

got

very

irritated

about

it.

She

called

up

Jane's

mother

and

made

a

big

stink

about

it.

My

mother

can

make

a

very

big

stink

about

that

kind

of

stuff.

Then

what

happened,

a

couple

of

days

later

I

saw

Jane

laying

on

her

stomach

next

to

the

swimming

pool,

at

the

club,

and

I

said

hello

to

her.

I

knew

she

lived

in

the

house

next

to

ours,

but

I'd

never

conversed

with

her

before

or

anything.

She

gave

me

the

big

freeze

when

I

said

hello

that

day,

though.

I

had

a

helluva

time

convincing

her

that

I

didn't

give

a

good

goddam

where

her

dog

relieved

himself.

He

could

do

it

in

the

living

room,

for

all

I

cared.

Anyway,

after

that,

Jane

and

I

got

to

be

friends

and

all.

I

played

golf

with

her

that

same

afternoon.

She

lost

eight

balls,

I

remember.

Eight.

I

had

a

terrible

time

getting

her

to

at

least

open

her

eyes

when

she

took

a

swing

at

the

ball.

I

improved

her

game

immensely,

though.

I'm

a

very

good

golfer.

If

I

told

you

what

I

go

around

in,

you

probably

wouldn't

believe

me.

I

almost

was

once

in

a

movie

short,

but

I

changed

my

mind

at

the

last

minute.

I

figured

that

anybody

that

hates

the

movies

as

much

as

I

do,

I'd

be

a

phony

if

I

let

them

stick

me

in

a

movie

short.

She

was

a

funny

girl,

old

Jane.

I

wouldn't

exactly

describe

her

as

strictly

beautiful.

She

knocked

me

out,

though.

She

was

sort

of

muckle-mouthed.

I

mean

when

she

was

talking

and

she

got

excited

about

something,

her

mouth

sort

of

went

in

about

fifty

directions,

her

lips

and

all.

That

killed

me.

And

she

never

really

closed

it

all

the

way,

her

mouth.

It

was

always

just

a

little

bit

open,

especially

when

she

got

in

her

golf

stance,

or

when

she

was

reading

a

book.

She

was

always

reading,

and

she

read

very

good

books.

She

read

a

lot

of

poetry

and

all.

She

was

the

only

one,

outside

my

family,

that

I

ever

showed

Allie's

baseball

mitt

to,

with

all

the

poems

written

on

it.

She'd

never

met

Allie

or

anything,

because

that

was

her

first

summer

in

Maine--before

that,

she

went

to

Cape

Cod-

-but

I

told

her

quite

a

lot

about

him.

She

was

interested

in

that

kind

of

stuff.

My

mother

didn't

like

her

too

much.

I

mean

my

mother

always

thought

Jane

and

her

mother

were

sort

of

snubbing

her

or

something

when

they

didn't

say

hello.

My

mother

saw

them

in

the

village

a

lot,

because

Jane

used

to

drive

to

market

with

her

mother

in

this

LaSalle

convertible

they

had.

My

mother

didn't

think

Jane

was

pretty,

even.

I

did,

though.

I

just

liked

the

way

she

looked,

that's

all.

I

remember

this

one

afternoon.

It

was

the

only

time

old

Jane

and

I

ever

got

close

to

necking,

even.

It

was

a

Saturday

and

it

was

raining

like

a

bastard

out,

and

I

was

over

at

her

house,

on

the

porch--they

had

this

big

screened-in

porch.

We

were

playing

checkers.

I

used

to

kid

her

once

in

a

while

because

she

wouldn't

take

her

kings

out

of

the

back

row.

But

I

didn't

kid

her

much,

though.

You

never

wanted

to

kid

Jane

too

much.

I

think

I

really

like

it

best

when

you

can

kid

the

pants

off

a

girl

when

the

opportunity

arises,

but

it's

a

funny

thing.

The

girls

I

like

best

are

the

ones

I

never

feel

much

like

kidding.

Sometimes

I

think

they'd

like

it

if

you

kidded

them--in

fact,

I

know

they

would--but

it's

hard

to

get

started,

once

you've

known

them

a

pretty

long

time

and

never

kidded

them.

Anyway,

I

was

telling

you

about

that

afternoon

Jane

and

I

came

close

to

necking.

It

was

raining

like

hell

and

we

were

out

on

her

porch,

and

all

of

a

sudden

this

booze

hound

her

mother

was

married

to

came

out

on

the

porch

and

asked

Jane

if

there

were

any

cigarettes

in

the

house.

I

didn't

know

him

too

well

or

anything,

but

he

looked

like

the

kind

of

guy

that

wouldn't

talk

to

you

much

unless

he

wanted

something

off

you.

He

had

a

lousy

personality.

Anyway,

old

Jane

wouldn't

answer

him

when

he

asked

her

if

she

knew

where

there

was

any

cigarettes.

So

the

guy

asked

her

again,

but

she

still

wouldn't

answer

him.

She

didn't

even

look

up

from

the

game.

Finally

the

guy

went

inside

the

house.

When

he

did,

I

asked

Jane

what

the

hell

was

going

on.

She

wouldn't

even

answer

me,

then.

She

made

out

like

she

was

concentrating

on

her

next

move

in

the

game

and

all.

Then

all

of

a

sudden,

this

tear

plopped

down

on

the

checkerboard.

On

one

of

the

red

squares--boy,

I

can

still

see

it.

She

just

rubbed

it

into

the

board

with

her

finger.

I

don't

know

why,

but

it

bothered

hell

out

of

me.

So

what

I

did

was,

I

went

over

and

made

her

move

over

on

the

glider

so

that

I

could

sit

down

next

to

her--I

practically

sat

down

in

her

lap,

as

a

matter

of

fact.

Then

she

really

started

to

cry,

and

the

next

thing

I

knew,

I

was

kissing

her

all

over--anywhere--her

eyes,

her

nose,

her

forehead,

her

eyebrows

and

all,

her

ears--her

whole

face

except

her

mouth

and

all.

She

sort

of

wouldn't

let

me

get

to

her

mouth.

Anyway,

it

was

the

closest

we

ever

got

to

necking.

After

a

while,

she

got

up

and

went

in

and

put

on

this

red

and

white

sweater

she

had,

that

knocked

me

out,

and

we

went

to

a

goddam

movie.

I

asked

her,

on

the

way,

if

Mr.

Cudahy--that

was

the

booze

hound's

name--had

ever

tried

to

get

wise

with

her.

She

was

pretty

young,

but

she

had

this

terrific

figure,

and

I

wouldn't've

put

it

past

that

Cudahy

bastard.

She

said

no,

though.

I

never

did

find

out

what

the

hell

was

the

matter.

Some

girls

you

practically

never

find

out

what's

the

matter.

I

don't

want

you

to

get

the

idea

she

was

a

goddam

icicle

or

something,

just

because

we

never

necked

or

horsed

around

much.

She

wasn't.

I

held

hands

with

her

all

the

time,

for

instance.

That

doesn't

sound

like

much,

I

realize,

but

she

was

terrific

to

hold

hands

with.

Most

girls

if

you

hold

hands

with

them,

their

goddam

hand

dies

on

you,

or

else

they

think

they

have

to

keep

moving

their

hand

all

the

time,

as

if

they

were

afraid

they'd

bore

you

or

something.

Jane

was

different.

We'd

get

into

a

goddam

movie

or

something,

and

right

away

we'd

start

holding

hands,

and

we

wouldn't

quit

till

the

movie

was

over.

And

without

changing

the

position

or

making

a

big

deal

out

of

it.

You

never

even

worried,

with

Jane,

whether

your

hand

was

sweaty

or

not.

All

you

knew

was,

you

were

happy.

You

really

were.

One

other

thing

I

just

thought

of.

One

time,

in

this

movie,

Jane

did

something

that

just

about

knocked

me

out.

The

newsreel

was

on

or

something,

and

all

of

a

sudden

I

felt

this

hand

on

the

back

of

my

neck,

and

it

was

Jane's.

It

was

a

funny

thing

to

do.

I

mean

she

was

quite

young

and

all,

and

most

girls

if

you

see

them

putting

their

hand

on

the

back

of

somebody's

neck,

they're

around

twenty-five

or

thirty

and

usually

they're

doing

it

to

their

husband

or

their

little

kid--I

do

it

to

my

kid

sister

Phoebe

once

in

a

while,

for

instance.

But

if

a

girl's

quite

young

and

all

and

she

does

it,

it's

so

pretty

it

just

about

kills

you.

Anyway,

that's

what

I

was

thinking

about

while

I

sat

in

that

vomity-looking

chair

in

the

lobby.

Old

Jane.

Every

time

I

got

to

the

part

about

her

out

with

Stradlater

in

that

damn

Ed

Banky's

car,

it

almost

drove

me

crazy.

I

knew

she

wouldn't

let

him

get

to

first

base

with

her,

but

it

drove

me

crazy

anyway.

I

don't

even

like

to

talk

about

it,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

There

was

hardly

anybody

in

the

lobby

any

more.

Even

all

the

whory-looking

blondes

weren't

around

any

more,

and

all

of

a

sudden

I

felt

like

getting

the

hell

out

of

the

place.

It

was

too

depressing.

And

I

wasn't

tired

or

anything.

So

I

went

up

to

my

room

and

put

on

my

coat.

I

also

took

a

look

out

the

window

to

see

if

all

the

perverts

were

still

in

action,

but

the

lights

and

all

were

out

now.

I

went

down

in

the

elevator

again

and

got

a

cab

and

told

the

driver

to

take

me

down

to

Ernie's.

Ernie's

is

this

night

club

in

Greenwich

Village

that

my

brother

D.B.

used

to

go

to

quite

frequently

before

he

went

out

to

Hollywood

and

prostituted

himself.

He

used

to

take

me

with

him

once

in

a

while.

Ernie's

a

big

fat

colored

guy

that

plays

the

piano.

He's

a

terrific

snob

and

he

won't

hardly

even

talk

to

you

unless

you're

a

big

shot

or

a

celebrity

or

something,

but

he

can

really

play

the

piano.

He's

so

good

he's

almost

corny,

in

fact.

I

don't

exactly

know

what

I

mean

by

that,

but

I

mean

it.

I

certainly

like

to

hear

him

play,

but

sometimes

you

feel

like

turning

his

goddam

piano

over.

I

think

it's

because

sometimes

when

he

plays,

he

sounds

like

the

kind

of

guy

that

won't

talk

to

you

unless

you're

a

big

shot.

12

The

cab

I

had

was

a

real

old

one

that

smelled

like

someone'd

just

tossed

his

cookies

in

it.

I

always

get

those

vomity

kind

of

cabs

if

I

go

anywhere

late

at

night.

What

made

it

worse,

it

was

so

quiet

and

lonesome

out,

even

though

it

was

Saturday

night.

I

didn't

see

hardly

anybody

on

the

street.

Now

and

then

you

just

saw

a

man

and

a

girl

crossing

a

street,

with

their

arms

around

each

other's

waists

and

all,

or

a

bunch

of

hoodlumy-looking

guys

and

their

dates,

all

of

them

laughing

like

hyenas

at

something

you

could

bet

wasn't

funny.

New

York's

terrible

when

somebody

laughs

on

the

street

very

late

at

night.

You

can

hear

it

for

miles.

It

makes

you

feel

so

lonesome

and

depressed.

I

kept

wishing

I

could

go

home

and

shoot

the

bull

for

a

while

with

old

Phoebe.

But

finally,

after

I

was

riding

a

while,

the

cab

driver

and

I

sort

of

struck

up

a

conversation.

His

name

was

Horwitz.

He

was

a

much

better

guy

than

the

other

driver

I'd

had.

Anyway,

I

thought

maybe

he

might

know

about

the

ducks.

"Hey,

Horwitz,"

I

said.

"You

ever

pass

by

the

lagoon

in

Central

Park?

Down

by

Central

Park

South?"

"The

what?"

"The

lagoon.

That

little

lake,

like,

there.

Where

the

ducks

are.

You

know."

"Yeah,

what

about

it?"

"Well,

you

know

the

ducks

that

swim

around

in

it?

In

the

springtime

and

all?

Do

you

happen

to

know

where

they

go

in

the

wintertime,

by

any

chance?"

"Where

who

goes?"

"The

ducks.

Do

you

know,

by

any

chance?

I

mean

does

somebody

come

around

in

a

truck

or

something

and

take

them

away,

or

do

they

fly

away

by

themselves--go

south

or

something?"

Old

Horwitz

turned

all

the

way

around

and

looked

at

me.

He

was

a

very

impatient-type

guy.

He

wasn't

a

bad

guy,

though.

"How

the

hell

should

I

know?"

he

said.

"How

the

hell

should

I

know

a

stupid

thing

like

that?"

"Well,

don't

get

sore

about

it,"

I

said.

He

was

sore

about

it

or

something.

"Who's

sore?

Nobody's

sore."

I

stopped

having

a

conversation

with

him,

if

he

was

going

to

get

so

damn

touchy

about

it.

But

he

started

it

up

again

himself.

He

turned

all

the

way

around

again,

and

said,

"The

fish

don't

go

no

place.

They

stay

right

where

they

are,

the

fish.

Right

in

the

goddam

lake."

"The

fish--that's

different.

The

fish

is

different.

I'm

talking

about

the

ducks,"

I

said.

"What's

different

about

it?

Nothin's

different

about

it,"

Horwitz

said.

Everything

he

said,

he

sounded

sore

about

something.

"It's

tougher

for

the

fish,

the

winter

and

all,

than

it

is

for

the

ducks,

for

Chrissake.

Use

your

head,

for

Chrissake."

I

didn't

say

anything

for

about

a

minute.

Then

I

said,

"All

right.

What

do

they

do,

the

fish

and

all,

when

that

whole

little

lake's

a

solid

block

of

ice,

people

skating

on

it

and

all?"

Old

Horwitz

turned

around

again.

"What

the

hellaya

mean

what

do

they

do?"

he

yelled

at

me.

"They

stay

right

where

they

are,

for

Chrissake."

"They

can't

just

ignore

the

ice.

They

can't

just

ignore

it."

"Who's

ignoring

it?

Nobody's

ignoring

it!"

Horwitz

said.

He

got

so

damn

excited

and

all,

I

was

afraid

he

was

going

to

drive

the

cab

right

into

a

lamppost

or

something.

"They

live

right

in

the

goddam

ice.

It's

their

nature,

for

Chrissake.

They

get

frozen

right

in

one

position

for

the

whole

winter."

"Yeah?

What

do

they

eat,

then?

I

mean

if

they're

frozen

solid,

they

can't

swim

around

looking

for

food

and

all."

"Their

bodies,

for

Chrissake--what'sa

matter

with

ya?

Their

bodies

take

in

nutrition

and

all,

right

through

the

goddam

seaweed

and

crap

that's

in

the

ice.

They

got

their

pores

open

the

whole

time.

That's

their

nature,

for

Chrissake.

See

what

I

mean?"

He

turned

way

the

hell

around

again

to

look

at

me.

"Oh,"

I

said.

I

let

it

drop.

I

was

afraid

he

was

going

to

crack

the

damn

taxi

up

or

something.

Besides,

he

was

such

a

touchy

guy,

it

wasn't

any

pleasure

discussing

anything

with

him.

"Would

you

care

to

stop

off

and

have

a

drink

with

me

somewhere?"

I

said.

He

didn't

answer

me,

though.

I

guess

he

was

still

thinking.

I

asked

him

again,

though.

He

was

a

pretty

good

guy.

Quite

amusing

and

all.

"I

ain't

got

no

time

for

no

liquor,

bud,"

he

said.

"How

the

hell

old

are

you,

anyways?

Why

ain'tcha

home

in

bed?"

"I'm

not

tired."

When

I

got

out

in

front

of

Ernie's

and

paid

the

fare,

old

Horwitz

brought

up

the

fish

again.

He

certainly

had

it

on

his

mind.

"Listen,"

he

said.

"If

you

was

a

fish,

Mother

Nature'd

take

care

of

you,

wouldn't

she?

Right?

You

don't

think

them

fish

just

die

when

it

gets

to

be

winter,

do

ya?"

"No,

but--"

"You're

goddam

right

they

don't,"

Horwitz

said,

and

drove

off

like

a

bat

out

of

hell.

He

was

about

the

touchiest

guy

I

ever

met.

Everything

you

said

made

him

sore.

Even

though

it

was

so

late,

old

Ernie's

was

jampacked.

Mostly

with

prep

school

jerks

and

college

jerks.

Almost

every

damn

school

in

the

world

gets

out

earlier

for

Christmas

vacation

than

the

schools

I

go

to.

You

could

hardly

check

your

coat,

it

was

so

crowded.

It

was

pretty

quiet,

though,

because

Ernie

was

playing

the

piano.

It

was

supposed

to

be

something

holy,

for

God's

sake,

when

he

sat

down

at

the

piano.

Nobody's

that

good.

About

three

couples,

besides

me,

were

waiting

for

tables,

and

they

were

all

shoving

and

standing

on

tiptoes

to

get

a

look

at

old

Ernie

while

he

played.

He

had

a

big

damn

mirror

in

front

of

the

piano,

with

this

big

spotlight

on

him,

so

that

everybody

could

watch

his

face

while

he

played.

You

couldn't

see

his

fingers

while

he

played--just

his

big

old

face.

Big

deal.

I'm

not

too

sure

what

the

name

of

the

song

was

that

he

was

playing

when

I

came

in,

but

whatever

it

was,

he

was

really

stinking

it

up.

He

was

putting

all

these

dumb,

show-offy

ripples

in

the

high

notes,

and

a

lot

of

other

very

tricky

stuff

that

gives

me

a

pain

in

the

ass.

You

should've

heard

the

crowd,

though,

when

he

was

finished.

You

would've

puked.

They

went

mad.

They

were

exactly

the

same

morons

that

laugh

like

hyenas

in

the

movies

at

stuff

that

isn't

funny.

I

swear

to

God,

if

I

were

a

piano

player

or

an

actor

or

something

and

all

those

dopes

thought

I

was

terrific,

I'd

hate

it.

I

wouldn't

even

want

them

to

clap

for

me.

People

always

clap

for

the

wrong

things.

If

I

were

a

piano

player,

I'd

play

it

in

the

goddam

closet.

Anyway,

when

he

was

finished,

and

everybody

was

clapping

their

heads

off,

old

Ernie

turned

around

on

his

stool

and

gave

this

very

phony,

humble

bow.

Like

as

if

he

was

a

helluva

humble

guy,

besides

being

a

terrific

piano

player.

It

was

very

phony--I

mean

him

being

such

a

big

snob

and

all.

In

a

funny

way,

though,

I

felt

sort

of

sorry

for

him

when

he

was

finished.

I

don't

even

think

he

knows

any

more

when

he's

playing

right

or

not.

It

isn't

all

his

fault.

I

partly

blame

all

those

dopes

that

clap

their

heads

off--they'd

foul

up

anybody,

if

you

gave

them

a

chance.

Anyway,

it

made

me

feel

depressed

and

lousy

again,

and

I

damn

near

got

my

coat

back

and

went

back

to

the

hotel,

but

it

was

too

early

and

I

didn't

feel

much

like

being

all

alone.

They

finally

got

me

this

stinking

table,

right

up

against

a

wall

and

behind

a

goddam

post,

where

you

couldn't

see

anything.

It

was

one

of

those

tiny

little

tables

that

if

the

people

at

the

next

table

don't

get

up

to

let

you

by--and

they

never

do,

the

bastards--

you

practically

have

to

climb

into

your

chair.

I

ordered

a

Scotch

and

soda,

which

is

my

favorite

drink,

next

to

frozen

Daiquiris.

If

you

were

only

around

six

years

old,

you

could

get

liquor

at

Ernie's,

the

place

was

so

dark

and

all,

and

besides,

nobody

cared

how

old

you

were.

You

could

even

be

a

dope

fiend

and

nobody'd

care.

I

was

surrounded

by

jerks.

I'm

not

kidding.

At

this

other

tiny

table,

right

to

my

left,

practically

on

top

of

me,

there

was

this

funny-looking

guy

and

this

funny-looking

girl.

They

were

around

my

age,

or

maybe

just

a

little

older.

It

was

funny.

You

could

see

they

were

being

careful

as

hell

not

to

drink

up

the

minimum

too

fast.

I

listened

to

their

conversation

for

a

while,

because

I

didn't

have

anything

else

to

do.

He

was

telling

her

about

some

pro

football

game

he'd

seen

that

afternoon.

He

gave

her

every

single

goddam

play

in

the

whole

game--I'm

not

kidding.

He

was

the

most

boring

guy

I

ever

listened

to.

And

you

could

tell

his

date

wasn't

even

interested

in

the

goddam

game,

but

she

was

even

funnier-looking

than

he

was,

so

I

guess

she

had

to

listen.

Real

ugly

girls

have

it

tough.

I

feel

so

sorry

for

them

sometimes.

Sometimes

I

can't

even

look

at

them,

especially

if

they're

with

some

dopey

guy

that's

telling

them

all

about

a

goddam

football

game.

On

my

right,

the

conversation

was

even

worse,

though.

On

my

right

there

was

this

very

Joe

Yale-looking

guy,

in

a

gray

flannel

suit

and

one

of

those

flitty-looking

Tattersall

vests.

All

those

Ivy

League

bastards

look

alike.

My

father

wants

me

to

go

to

Yale,

or

maybe

Princeton,

but

I

swear,

I

wouldn't

go

to

one

of

those

Ivy

League

colleges,

if

I

was

dying,

for

God's

sake.

Anyway,

this

Joe

Yale-looking

guy

had

a

terrific-looking

girl

with

him.

Boy,

she

was

good-looking.

But

you

should've

heard

the

conversation

they

were

having.

In

the

first

place,

they

were

both

slightly

crocked.

What

he

was

doing,

he

was

giving

her

a

feel

under

the

table,

and

at

the

same

time

telling

her

all

about

some

guy

in

his

dorm

that

had

eaten

a

whole

bottle

of

aspirin

and

nearly

committed

suicide.

His

date

kept

saying

to

him,

"How

horrible

.

.

.

Don't,

darling.

Please,

don't.

Not

here."

Imagine

giving

somebody

a

feel

and

telling

them

about

a

guy

committing

suicide

at

the

same

time!

They

killed

me.

I

certainly

began

to

feel

like

a

prize

horse's

ass,

though,

sitting

there

all

by

myself.

There

wasn't

anything

to

do

except

smoke

and

drink.

What

I

did

do,

though,

I

told

the

waiter

to

ask

old

Ernie

if

he'd

care

to

join

me

for

a

drink.

I

told

him

to

tell

him

I

was

D.B.'s

brother.

I

don't

think

he

ever

even

gave

him

my

message,

though.

Those

bastards

never

give

your

message

to

anybody.

All

of

a

sudden,

this

girl

came

up

to

me

and

said,

"Holden

Caulfield!"

Her

name

was

Lillian

Simmons.

My

brother

D.B.

used

to

go

around

with

her

for

a

while.

She

had

very

big

knockers.

"Hi,"

I

said.

I

tried

to

get

up,

naturally,

but

it

was

some

job

getting

up,

in

a

place

like

that.

She

had

some

Navy

officer

with

her

that

looked

like

he

had

a

poker

up

his

ass.

"How

marvelous

to

see

you!"

old

Lillian

Simmons

said.

Strictly

a

phony.

"How's

your

big

brother?"

That's

all

she

really

wanted

to

know.

"He's

fine.

He's

in

Hollywood."

"In

Hollywood!

How

marvelous!

What's

he

doing?"

"I

don't

know.

Writing,"

I

said.

I

didn't

feel

like

discussing

it.

You

could

tell

she

thought

it

was

a

big

deal,

his

being

in

Hollywood.

Almost

everybody

does.

Mostly

people

who've

never

read

any

of

his

stories.

It

drives

me

crazy,

though.

"How

exciting,"

old

Lillian

said.

Then

she

introduced

me

to

the

Navy

guy.

His

name

was

Commander

Blop

or

something.

He

was

one

of

those

guys

that

think

they're

being

a

pansy

if

they

don't

break

around

forty

of

your

fingers

when

they

shake

hands

with

you.

God,

I

hate

that

stuff.

"Are

you

all

alone,

baby?"

old

Lillian

asked

me.

She

was

blocking

up

the

whole

goddam

traffic

in

the

aisle.

You

could

tell

she

liked

to

block

up

a

lot

of

traffic.

This

waiter

was

waiting

for

her

to

move

out

of

the

way,

but

she

didn't

even

notice

him.

It

was

funny.

You

could

tell

the

waiter

didn't

like

her

much,

you

could

tell

even

the

Navy

guy

didn't

like

her

much,

even

though

he

was

dating

her.

And

I

didn't

like

her

much.

Nobody

did.

You

had

to

feel

sort

of

sorry

for

her,

in

a

way.

"Don't

you

have

a

date,

baby?"

she

asked

me.

I

was

standing

up

now,

and

she

didn't

even

tell

me

to

sit

down.

She

was

the

type

that

keeps

you

standing

up

for

hours.

"Isn't

he

handsome?"

she

said

to

the

Navy

guy.

"Holden,

you're

getting

handsomer

by

the

minute."

The

Navy

guy

told

her

to

come

on.

He

told

her

they

were

blocking

up

the

whole

aisle.

"Holden,

come

join

us,"

old

Lillian

said.

"Bring

your

drink."

"I

was

just

leaving,"

I

told

her.

"I

have

to

meet

somebody."

You

could

tell

she

was

just

trying

to

get

in

good

with

me.

So

that

I'd

tell

old

D.B.

about

it.

"Well,

you

little

so-and-so.

All

right

for

you.

Tell

your

big

brother

I

hate

him,

when

you

see

him."

Then

she

left.

The

Navy

guy

and

I

told

each

other

we

were

glad

to've

met

each

other.

Which

always

kills

me.

I'm

always

saying

"Glad

to've

met

you"

to

somebody

I'm

not

at

all

glad

I

met.

If

you

want

to

stay

alive,

you

have

to

say

that

stuff,

though.

After

I'd

told

her

I

had

to

meet

somebody,

I

didn't

have

any

goddam

choice

except

to

leave.

I

couldn't

even

stick

around

to

hear

old

Ernie

play

something

halfway

decent.

But

I

certainly

wasn't

going

to

sit

down

at

a

table

with

old

Lillian

Simmons

and

that

Navy

guy

and

be

bored

to

death.

So

I

left.

It

made

me

mad,

though,

when

I

was

getting

my

coat.

People

are

always

ruining

things

for

you.

13

I

walked

all

the

way

back

to

the

hotel.

Forty-one

gorgeous

blocks.

I

didn't

do

it

because

I

felt

like

walking

or

anything.

It

was

more

because

I

didn't

feel

like

getting

in

and

out

of

another

taxicab.

Sometimes

you

get

tired

of

riding

in

taxicabs

the

same

way

you

get

tired

riding

in

elevators.

All

of

a

sudden,

you

have

to

walk,

no

matter

how

far

or

how

high

up.

When

I

was

a

kid,

I

used

to

walk

all

the

way

up

to

our

apartment

very

frequently.

Twelve

stories.

You

wouldn't

even

have

known

it

had

snowed

at

all.

There

was

hardly

any

snow

on

the

sidewalks.

But

it

was

freezing

cold,

and

I

took

my

red

hunting

hat

out

of

my

pocket

and

put

it

on--I

didn't

give

a

damn

how

I

looked.

I

even

put

the

earlaps

down.

I

wished

I

knew

who'd

swiped

my

gloves

at

Pencey,

because

my

hands

were

freezing.

Not

that

I'd

have

done

much

about

it

even

if

I

had

known.

I'm

one

of

these

very

yellow

guys.

I

try

not

to

show

it,

but

I

am.

For

instance,

if

I'd

found

out

at

Pencey

who'd

stolen

my

gloves,

I

probably

would've

gone

down

to

the

crook's

room

and

said,

"Okay.

How

'bout

handing

over

those

gloves?"

Then

the

crook

that

had

stolen

them

probably

would've

said,

his

voice

very

innocent

and

all,

"What

gloves?"

Then

what

I

probably

would've

done,

I'd

have

gone

in

his

closet

and

found

the

gloves

somewhere.

Hidden

in

his

goddam

galoshes

or

something,

for

instance.

I'd

have

taken

them

out

and

showed

them

to

the

guy

and

said,

"I

suppose

these

are

your

goddam

gloves?"

Then

the

crook

probably

would've

given

me

this

very

phony,

innocent

look,

and

said,

"I

never

saw

those

gloves

before

in

my

life.

If

they're

yours,

take

'em.

I

don't

want

the

goddam

things."

Then

I

probably

would've

just

stood

there

for

about

five

minutes.

I'd

have

the

damn

gloves

right

in

my

hand

and

all,

but

I'd

feel

I

ought

to

sock

the

guy

in

the

jaw

or

something--break

his

goddam

jaw.

Only,

I

wouldn't

have

the

guts

to

do

it.

I'd

just

stand

there,

trying

to

look

tough.

What

I

might

do,

I

might

say

something

very

cutting

and

snotty,

to

rile

him

up--instead

of

socking

him

in

the

jaw.

Anyway

if

I

did

say

something

very

cutting

and

snotty,

he'd

probably

get

up

and

come

over

to

me

and

say,

"Listen,

Caulfield.

Are

you

calling

me

a

crook?"

Then,

instead

of

saying,

"You're

goddam

right

I

am,

you

dirty

crooked

bastard!"

all

I

probably

would've

said

would

be,

"All

I

know

is

my

goddam

gloves

were

in

your

goddam

galoshes."

Right

away

then,

the

guy

would

know

for

sure

that

I

wasn't

going

to

take

a

sock

at

him,

and

he

probably

would've

said,

"Listen.

Let's

get

this

straight.

Are

you

calling

me

a

thief?"

Then

I

probably

would've

said,

"Nobody's

calling

anybody

a

thief.

All

I

know

is

my

gloves

were

in

your

goddam

galoshes."

It

could

go

on

like

that

for

hours.

Finally,

though,

I'd

leave

his

room

without

even

taking

a

sock

at

him.

I'd

probably

go

down

to

the

can

and

sneak

a

cigarette

and

watch

myself

getting

tough

in

the

mirror.

Anyway,

that's

what

I

thought

about

the

whole

way

back

to

the

hotel.

It's

no

fun

to

he

yellow.

Maybe

I'm

not

all

yellow.

I

don't

know.

I

think

maybe

I'm

just

partly

yellow

and

partly

the

type

that

doesn't

give

much

of

a

damn

if

they

lose

their

gloves.

One

of

my

troubles

is,

I

never

care

too

much

when

I

lose

something--it

used

to

drive

my

mother

crazy

when

I

was

a

kid.

Some

guys

spend

days

looking

for

something

they

lost.

I

never

seem

to

have

anything

that

if

I

lost

it

I'd

care

too

much.

Maybe

that's

why

I'm

partly

yellow.

It's

no

excuse,

though.

It

really

isn't.

What

you

should

be

is

not

yellow

at

all.

If

you're

supposed

to

sock

somebody

in

the

jaw,

and

you

sort

of

feel

like

doing

it,

you

should

do

it.

I'm

just

no

good

at

it,

though.

I'd

rather

push

a

guy

out

the

window

or

chop

his

head

off

with

an

ax

than

sock

him

in

the

jaw.

I

hate

fist

fights.

I

don't

mind

getting

hit

so

much--although

I'm

not

crazy

about

it,

naturally--but

what

scares

me

most

in

a

fist

fight

is

the

guy's

face.

I

can't

stand

looking

at

the

other

guy's

face,

is

my

trouble.

It

wouldn't

be

so

bad

if

you

could

both

be

blindfolded

or

something.

It's

a

funny

kind

of

yellowness,

when

you

come

to

think

of

it,

but

it's

yellowness,

all

right.

I'm

not

kidding

myself.

The

more

I

thought

about

my

gloves

and

my

yellowness,

the

more

depressed

I

got,

and

I

decided,

while

I

was

walking

and

all,

to

stop

off

and

have

a

drink

somewhere.

I'd

only

had

three

drinks

at

Ernie's,

and

I

didn't

even

finish

the

last

one.

One

thing

I

have,

it's

a

terrific

capacity.

I

can

drink

all

night

and

not

even

show

it,

if

I'm

in

the

mood.

Once,

at

the

Whooton

School,

this

other

boy,

Raymond

Goldfarb,

and

I

bought

a

pint

of

Scotch

and

drank

it

in

the

chapel

one

Saturday

night,

where

nobody'd

see

us.

He

got

stinking,

but

I

hardly

didn't

even

show

it.

I

just

got

very

cool

and

nonchalant.

I

puked

before

I

went

to

bed,

but

I

didn't

really

have

to--I

forced

myself.

Anyway,

before

I

got

to

the

hotel,

I

started

to

go

in

this

dumpy-looking

bar,

but

two

guys

came

out,

drunk

as

hell,

and

wanted

to

know

where

the

subway

was.

One

of

them

was

this

very

Cuban-looking

guy,

and

he

kept

breathing

his

stinking

breath

in

my

face

while

I

gave

him

directions.

I

ended

up

not

even

going

in

the

damn

bar.

I

just

went

back

to

the

hotel.

The

whole

lobby

was

empty.

It

smelled

like

fifty

million

dead

cigars.

It

really

did.

I

wasn't

sleepy

or

anything,

but

I

was

feeling

sort

of

lousy.

Depressed

and

all.

I

almost

wished

I

was

dead.

Then,

all

of

a

sudden,

I

got

in

this

big

mess.

The

first

thing

when

I

got

in

the

elevator,

the

elevator

guy

said

to

me,

"Innarested

in

having

a

good

time,

fella?

Or

is

it

too

late

for

you?"

"How

do

you

mean?"

I

said.

I

didn't

know

what

he

was

driving

at

or

anything.

"Innarested

in

a

little

tail

t'night?"

"Me?"

I

said.

Which

was

a

very

dumb

answer,

but

it's

quite

embarrassing

when

somebody

comes

right

up

and

asks

you

a

question

like

that.

"How

old

are

you,

chief?"

the

elevator

guy

said.

"Why?"

I

said.

"Twenty-two."

"Uh

huh.

Well,

how

'bout

it?

Y'innarested?

Five

bucks

a

throw.

Fifteen

bucks

the

whole

night."

He

looked

at

his

wrist

watch.

"Till

noon.

Five

bucks

a

throw,

fifteen

bucks

till

noon."

"Okay,"

I

said.

It

was

against

my

principles

and

all,

but

I

was

feeling

so

depressed

I

didn't

even

think.

That's

the

whole

trouble.

When

you're

feeling

very

depressed,

you

can't

even

think.

"Okay

what?

A

throw,

or

till

noon?

I

gotta

know."

"Just

a

throw."

"Okay,

what

room

ya

in?"

I

looked

at

the

red

thing

with

my

number

on

it,

on

my

key.

"Twelve

twenty-two,"

I

said.

I

was

already

sort

of

sorry

I'd

let

the

thing

start

rolling,

but

it

was

too

late

now.

"Okay.

I'll

send

a

girl

up

in

about

fifteen

minutes."

He

opened

the

doors

and

I

got

out.

"Hey,

is

she

good-looking?"

I

asked

him.

"I

don't

want

any

old

bag."

"No

old

bag.

Don't

worry

about

it,

chief."

"Who

do

I

pay?"

"Her,"

he

said.

"Let's

go,

chief."

He

shut

the

doors,

practically

right

in

my

face.

I

went

to

my

room

and

put

some

water

on

my

hair,

but

you

can't

really

comb

a

crew

cut

or

anything.

Then

I

tested

to

see

if

my

breath

stank

from

so

many

cigarettes

and

the

Scotch

and

sodas

I

drank

at

Ernie's.

All

you

do

is

hold

your

hand

under

your

mouth

and

blow

your

breath

up

toward

the

old

nostrils.

It

didn't

seem

to

stink

much,

but

I

brushed

my

teeth

anyway.

Then

I

put

on

another

clean

shirt.

I

knew

I

didn't

have

to

get

all

dolled

up

for

a

prostitute

or

anything,

but

it

sort

of

gave

me

something

to

do.

I

was

a

little

nervous.

I

was

starting

to

feel

pretty

sexy

and

all,

but

I

was

a

little

nervous

anyway.

If

you

want

to

know

the

truth,

I'm

a

virgin.

I

really

am.

I've

had

quite

a

few

opportunities

to

lose

my

virginity

and

all,

but

I've

never

got

around

to

it

yet.

Something

always

happens.

For

instance,

if

you're

at

a

girl's

house,

her

parents

always

come

home

at

the

wrong

time--or

you're

afraid

they

will.

Or

if

you're

in

the

back

seat

of

somebody's

car,

there's

always

somebody's

date

in

the

front

seat--some

girl,

I

mean--that

always

wants

to

know

what's

going

on

all

over

the

whole

goddam

car.

I

mean

some

girl

in

front

keeps

turning

around

to

see

what

the

hell's

going

on.

Anyway,

something

always

happens.

I

came

quite

close

to

doing

it

a

couple

of

times,

though.

One

time

in

particular,

I

remember.

Something

went

wrong,

though

--I

don't

even

remember

what

any

more.

The

thing

is,

most

of

the

time

when

you're

coming

pretty

close

to

doing

it

with

a

girl--a

girl

that

isn't

a

prostitute

or

anything,

I

mean--she

keeps

telling

you

to

stop.

The

trouble

with

me

is,

I

stop.

Most

guys

don't.

I

can't

help

it.

You

never

know

whether

they

really

want

you

to

stop,

or

whether

they're

just

scared

as

hell,

or

whether

they're

just

telling

you

to

stop

so

that

if

you

do

go

through

with

it,

the

blame'll

be

on

you,

not

them.

Anyway,

I

keep

stopping.

The

trouble

is,

I

get

to

feeling

sorry

for

them.

I

mean

most

girls

are

so

dumb

and

all.

After

you

neck

them

for

a

while,

you

can

really

watch

them

losing

their

brains.

You

take

a

girl

when

she

really

gets

passionate,

she

just

hasn't

any

brains.

I

don't

know.

They

tell

me

to

stop,

so

I

stop.

I

always

wish

I

hadn't,

after

I

take

them

home,

but

I

keep

doing

it

anyway.

Anyway,

while

I

was

putting

on

another

clean

shirt,

I

sort

of

figured

this

was

my

big

chance,

in

a

way.

I

figured

if

she

was

a

prostitute

and

all,

I

could

get

in

some

practice

on

her,

in

case

I

ever

get

married

or

anything.

I

worry

about

that

stuff

sometimes.

I

read

this

book

once,

at

the

Whooton

School,

that

had

this

very

sophisticated,

suave,

sexy

guy

in

it.

Monsieur

Blanchard

was

his

name,

I

can

still

remember.

It

was

a

lousy

book,

but

this

Blanchard

guy

was

pretty

good.

He

had

this

big

ch√Ęteau

and

all

on

the

Riviera,

in

Europe,

and

all

he

did

in

his

spare

time

was

beat

women

off

with

a

club.

He

was

a

real

rake

and

all,

but

he

knocked

women

out.

He

said,

in

this

one

part,

that

a

woman's

body

is

like

a

violin

and

all,

and

that

it

takes

a

terrific

musician

to

play

it

right.

It

was

a

very

corny

book--I

realize

that--but

I

couldn't

get

that

violin

stuff

out

of

my

mind

anyway.

In

a

way,

that's

why

I

sort

of

wanted

to

get

some

practice

in,

in

case

I

ever

get

married.

Caulfield

and

his

Magic

Violin,

boy.

It's

corny,

I

realize,

but

it

isn't

too

corny.

I

wouldn't

mind

being

pretty

good

at

that

stuff.

Half

the

time,

if

you

really

want

to

know

the

truth,

when

I'm

horsing

around

with

a

girl,

I

have

a

helluva

lot

of

trouble

just

finding

what

I'm

looking

for,

for

God's

sake,

if

you

know

what

I

mean.

Take

this

girl

that

I

just

missed

having

sexual

intercourse

with,

that

I

told

you

about.

It

took

me

about

an

hour

to

just

get

her

goddam

brassiere

off.

By

the

time

I

did

get

it

off,

she

was

about

ready

to

spit

in

my

eye.

Anyway,

I

kept

walking

around

the

room,

waiting

for

this

prostitute

to

show

up.

I

kept

hoping

she'd

be

good-looking.

I

didn't

care

too

much,

though.

I

sort

of

just

wanted

to

get

it

over

with.

Finally,

somebody

knocked

on

the

door,

and

when

I

went

to

open

it,

I

had

my

suitcase

right

in

the

way

and

I

fell

over

it

and

damn

near

broke

my

knee.

I

always

pick

a

gorgeous

time

to

fall

over

a

suitcase

or

something.

When

I

opened

the

door,

this

prostitute

was

standing

there.

She

had

a

polo

coat

on,

and

no

hat.

She

was

sort

of

a

blonde,

but

you

could

tell

she

dyed

her

hair.

She

wasn't

any

old

bag,

though.

"How

do

you

do,"

I

said.

Suave

as

hell,

boy.

"You

the

guy

Maurice

said?"

she

asked

me.

She

didn't

seem

too

goddam

friendly.

"Is

he

the

elevator

boy?"

"Yeah,"

she

said.

"Yes,

I

am.

Come

in,

won't

you?"

I

said.

I

was

getting

more

and

more

nonchalant

as

it

went

along.

I

really

was.

She

came

in

and

took

her

coat

off

right

away

and

sort

of

chucked

it

on

the

bed.

She

had

on

a

green

dress

underneath.

Then

she

sort

of

sat

down

sideways

on

the

chair

that

went

with

the

desk

in

the

room

and

started

jiggling

her

foot

up

and

down.

She

crossed

her

legs

and

started

jiggling

this

one

foot

up

and

down.

She

was

very

nervous,

for

a

prostitute.

She

really

was.

I

think

it

was

because

she

was

young

as

hell.

She

was

around

my

age.

I

sat

down

in

the

big

chair,

next

to

her,

and

offered

her

a

cigarette.

"I

don't

smoke,"

she

said.

She

had

a

tiny

little

wheeny-whiny

voice.

You

could

hardly

hear

her.

She

never

said

thank

you,

either,

when

you

offered

her

something.

She

just

didn't

know

any

better.

"Allow

me

to

introduce

myself.

My

name

is

Jim

Steele,"

I

said.

"Ya

got

a

watch

on

ya?"

she

said.

She

didn't

care

what

the

hell

my

name

was,

naturally.

"Hey,

how

old

are

you,

anyways?"

"Me?

Twenty-two."

"Like

fun

you

are."

It

was

a

funny

thing

to

say.

It

sounded

like

a

real

kid.

You'd

think

a

prostitute

and

all

would

say

"Like

hell

you

are"

or

"Cut

the

crap"

instead

of

"Like

fun

you

are."

"How

old

are

you?"

I

asked

her.

"Old

enough

to

know

better,"

she

said.

She

was

really

witty.

"Ya

got

a

watch

on

ya?"

she

asked

me

again,

and

then

she

stood

up

and

pulled

her

dress

over

her

head.

I

certainly

felt

peculiar

when

she

did

that.

I

mean

she

did

it

so

sudden

and

all.

I

know

you're

supposed

to

feel

pretty

sexy

when

somebody

gets

up

and

pulls

their

dress

over

their

head,

but

I

didn't.

Sexy

was

about

the

last

thing

I

was

feeling.

I

felt

much

more

depressed

than

sexy.

"Ya

got

a

watch

on

ya,

hey?"

"No.

No,

I

don't,"

I

said.

Boy,

was

I

feeling

peculiar.

"What's

your

name?"

I

asked

her.

All

she

had

on

was

this

pink

slip.

It

was

really

quite

embarrassing.

It

really

was.

"Sunny,"

she

said.

"Let's

go,

hey."

"Don't

you

feel

like

talking

for

a

while?"

I

asked

her.

It

was

a

childish

thing

to

say,

but

I

was

feeling

so

damn

peculiar.

"Are

you

in

a

very

big

hurry?"

She

looked

at

me

like

I

was

a

madman.

"What

the

heck

ya

wanna

talk

about?"

she

said.

"I

don't

know.

Nothing

special.

I

just

thought

perhaps

you

might

care

to

chat

for

a

while."

She

sat

down

in

the

chair

next

to

the

desk

again.

She

didn't

like

it,

though,

you

could

tell.

She

started

jiggling

her

foot

again--boy,

she

was

a

nervous

girl.

"Would

you

care

for

a

cigarette

now?"

I

said.

I

forgot

she

didn't

smoke.

"I

don't

smoke.

Listen,

if

you're

gonna

talk,

do

it.

I

got

things

to

do."

I

couldn't

think

of

anything

to

talk

about,

though.

I

thought

of

asking

her

how

she

got

to

be

a

prostitute

and

all,

but

I

was

scared

to

ask

her.

She

probably

wouldn't've

told

me

anyway.

"You

don't

come

from

New

York,

do

you?"

I

said

finally.

That's

all

I

could

think

of.

"Hollywood,"

she

said.

Then

she

got

up

and

went

over

to

where

she'd

put

her

dress

down,

on

the

bed.

"Ya

got

a

hanger?

I

don't

want

to

get

my

dress

all

wrinkly.

It's

brand-clean."

"Sure,"

I

said

right

away.

I

was

only

too

glad

to

get

up

and

do

something.

I

took

her

dress

over

to

the

closet

and

hung

it

up

for

her.

It

was

funny.

It

made

me

feel

sort

of

sad

when

I

hung

it

up.

I

thought

of

her

going

in

a

store

and

buying

it,

and

nobody

in

the

store

knowing

she

was

a

prostitute

and

all.

The

salesman

probably

just

thought

she

was

a

regular

girl

when

she

bought

it.

It

made

me

feel

sad

as

hell--I

don't

know

why

exactly.

I

sat

down

again

and

tried

to

keep

the

old

conversation

going.

She

was

a

lousy

conversationalist.

"Do

you

work

every

night?"

I

asked

her--it

sounded

sort

of

awful,

after

I'd

said

it.

"Yeah."

She

was

walking

all

around

the

room.

She

picked

up

the

menu

off

the

desk

and

read

it.

"What

do

you

do

during

the

day?"

She

sort

of

shrugged

her

shoulders.

She

was

pretty

skinny.

"Sleep.

Go

to

the

show."

She

put

down

the

menu

and

looked

at

me.

"Let's

go,

hey.

I

haven't

got

all--"

"Look,"

I

said.

"I

don't

feel

very

much

like

myself

tonight.

I've

had

a

rough

night.

Honest

to

God.

I'll

pay

you

and

all,

but

do

you

mind

very

much

if

we

don't

do

it?

Do

you

mind

very

much?"

The

trouble

was,

I

just

didn't

want

to

do

it.

I

felt

more

depressed

than

sexy,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

She

was

depressing.

Her

green

dress

hanging

in

the

closet

and

all.

And

besides,

I

don't

think

I

could

ever

do

it

with

somebody

that

sits

in

a

stupid

movie

all

day

long.

I

really

don't

think

I

could.

She

came

over

to

me,

with

this

funny

look

on

her

face,

like

as

if

she

didn't

believe

me.

"What'sa

matter?"

she

said.

"Nothing's

the

matter."

Boy,

was

I

getting

nervous.

"The

thing

is,

I

had

an

operation

very

recently."

"Yeah?

Where?"

"On

my

wuddayacallit--my

clavichord."

"Yeah?

Where

the

hell's

that?"

"The

clavichord?"

I

said.

"Well,

actually,

it's

in

the

spinal

canal.

I

mean

it's

quite

a

ways

down

in

the

spinal

canal."

"Yeah?"

she

said.

"That's

tough."

Then

she

sat

down

on

my

goddam

lap.

"You're

cute."

She

made

me

so

nervous,

I

just

kept

on

lying

my

head

off.

"I'm

still

recuperating,"

I

told

her.

"You

look

like

a

guy

in

the

movies.

You

know.

Whosis.

You

know

who

I

mean.

What

the

heck's

his

name?"

"I

don't

know,"

I

said.

She

wouldn't

get

off

my

goddam

lap.

"Sure

you

know.

He

was

in

that

pitcher

with

Mel-vine

Douglas?

The

one

that

was

Mel-vine

Douglas's

kid

brother?

That

falls

off

this

boat?

You

know

who

I

mean."

"No,

I

don't.

I

go

to

the

movies

as

seldom

as

I

can."

Then

she

started

getting

funny.

Crude

and

all.

"Do

you

mind

cutting

it

out?"

I

said.

"I'm

not

in

the

mood,

I

just

told

you.

I

just

had

an

operation."

She

didn't

get

up

from

my

lap

or

anything,

but

she

gave

me

this

terrifically

dirty

look.

"Listen,"

she

said.

"I

was

sleepin'

when

that

crazy

Maurice

woke

me

up.

If

you

think

I'm--"

"I

said

I'd

pay

you

for

coming

and

all.

I

really

will.

I

have

plenty

of

dough.

It's

just

that

I'm

practically

just

recovering

from

a

very

serious--"

"What

the

heck

did

you

tell

that

crazy

Maurice

you

wanted

a

girl

for,

then?

If

you

just

had

a

goddam

operation

on

your

goddam

wuddayacallit.

Huh?"

"I

thought

I'd

be

feeling

a

lot

better

than

I

do.

I

was

a

little

premature

in

my

calculations.

No

kidding.

I'm

sorry.

If

you'll

just

get

up

a

second,

I'll

get

my

wallet.

I

mean

it."

She

was

sore

as

hell,

but

she

got

up

off

my

goddam

lap

so

that

I

could

go

over

and

get

my

wallet

off

the

chiffonier.

I

took

out

a

five-dollar

bill

and

handed

it

to

her.

"Thanks

a

lot,"

I

told

her.

"Thanks

a

million."

"This

is

a

five.

It

costs

ten."

She

was

getting

funny,

you

could

tell.

I

was

afraid

something

like

that

would

happen--I

really

was.

"Maurice

said

five,"

I

told

her.

"He

said

fifteen

till

noon

and

only

five

for

a

throw."

"Ten

for

a

throw."

"He

said

five.

I'm

sorry--I

really

am--but

that's

all

I'm

gonna

shell

out."

She

sort

of

shrugged

her

shoulders,

the

way

she

did

before,

and

then

she

said,

very

cold,

"Do

you

mind

getting

me

my

frock?

Or

would

it

be

too

much

trouble?"

She

was

a

pretty

spooky

kid.

Even

with

that

little

bitty

voice

she

had,

she

could

sort

of

scare

you

a

little

bit.

If

she'd

been

a

big

old

prostitute,

with

a

lot

of

makeup

on

her

face

and

all,

she

wouldn't

have

been

half

as

spooky.

I

went

and

got

her

dress

for

her.

She

put

it

on

and

all,

and

then

she

picked

up

her

polo

coat

off

the

bed.

"So

long,

crumb-bum,"

she

said.

"So

long,"

I

said.

I

didn't

thank

her

or

anything.

I'm

glad

I

didn't.

14

After

Old

Sunny

was

gone,

I

sat

in

the

chair

for

a

while

and

smoked

a

couple

of

cigarettes.

It

was

getting

daylight

outside.

Boy,

I

felt

miserable.

I

felt

so

depressed,

you

can't

imagine.

What

I

did,

I

started

talking,

sort

of

out

loud,

to

Allie.

I

do

that

sometimes

when

I

get

very

depressed.

I

keep

telling

him

to

go

home

and

get

his

bike

and

meet

me

in

front

of

Bobby

Fallon's

house.

Bobby

Fallon

used

to

live

quite

near

us

in

Maine--this

is,

years

ago.

Anyway,

what

happened

was,

one

day

Bobby

and

I

were

going

over

to

Lake

Sedebego

on

our

bikes.

We

were

going

to

take

our

lunches

and

all,

and

our

BB

guns--we

were

kids

and

all,

and

we

thought

we

could

shoot

something

with

our

BB

guns.

Anyway,

Allie

heard

us

talking

about

it,

and

he

wanted

to

go,

and

I

wouldn't

let

him.

I

told

him

he

was

a

child.

So

once

in

a

while,

now,

when

I

get

very

depressed,

I

keep

saying

to

him,

"Okay.

Go

home

and

get

your

bike

and

meet

me

in

front

of

Bobby's

house.

Hurry

up."

It

wasn't

that

I

didn't

use

to

take

him

with

me

when

I

went

somewhere.

I

did.

But

that

one

day,

I

didn't.

He

didn't

get

sore

about

it--he

never

got

sore

about

anything--

but

I

keep

thinking

about

it

anyway,

when

I

get

very

depressed.

Finally,

though,

I

got

undressed

and

got

in

bed.

I

felt

like

praying

or

something,

when

I

was

in

bed,

but

I

couldn't

do

it.

I

can't

always

pray

when

I

feel

like

it.

In

the

first

place,

I'm

sort

of

an

atheist.

I

like

Jesus

and

all,

but

I

don't

care

too

much

for

most

of

the

other

stuff

in

the

Bible.

Take

the

Disciples,

for

instance.

They

annoy

the

hell

out

of

me,

if

you

want

to

know

the

truth.

They

were

all

right

after

Jesus

was

dead

and

all,

but

while

He

was

alive,

they

were

about

as

much

use

to

Him

as

a

hole

in

the

head.

All

they

did

was

keep

letting

Him

down.

I

like

almost

anybody

in

the

Bible

better

than

the

Disciples.

If

you

want

to

know

the

truth,

the

guy

I

like

best

in

the

Bible,

next

to

Jesus,

was

that

lunatic

and

all,

that

lived

in

the

tombs

and

kept

cutting

himself

with

stones.

I

like

him

ten

times

as

much

as

the

Disciples,

that

poor

bastard.

I

used

to

get

in

quite

a

few

arguments

about

it,

when

I

was

at

Whooton

School,

with

this

boy

that

lived

down

the

corridor,

Arthur

Childs.

Old

Childs

was

a

Quaker

and

all,

and

he

read

the

Bible

all

the

time.

He

was

a

very

nice

kid,

and

I

liked

him,

but

I

could

never

see

eye

to

eye

with

him

on

a

lot

of

stuff

in

the

Bible,

especially

the

Disciples.

He

kept

telling

me

if

I

didn't

like

the

Disciples,

then

I

didn't

like

Jesus

and

all.

He

said

that

because

Jesus

picked

the

Disciples,

you

were

supposed

to

like

them.

I

said

I

knew

He

picked

them,

but

that

He

picked

them

at

random.

I

said

He

didn't

have

time

to

go

around

analyzing

everybody.

I

said

I

wasn't

blaming

Jesus

or

anything.

It

wasn't

His

fault

that

He

didn't

have

any

time.

I

remember

I

asked

old

Childs

if

he

thought

Judas,

the

one

that

betrayed

Jesus

and

all,

went

to

Hell

after

he

committed

suicide.

Childs

said

certainly.

That's

exactly

where

I

disagreed

with

him.

I

said

I'd

bet

a

thousand

bucks

that

Jesus

never

sent

old

Judas

to

Hell.

I

still

would,

too,

if

I

had

a

thousand

bucks.

I

think

any

one

of

the

Disciples

would've

sent

him

to

Hell

and

all--

and

fast,

too--but

I'll

bet

anything

Jesus

didn't

do

it.

Old

Childs

said

the

trouble

with

me

was

that

I

didn't

go

to

church

or

anything.

He

was

right

about

that,

in

a

way.

I

don't.

In

the

first

place,

my

parents

are

different

religions,

and

all

the

children

in

our

family

are

atheists.

If

you

want

to

know

the

truth,

I

can't

even

stand

ministers.

The

ones

they've

had

at

every

school

I've

gone

to,

they

all

have

these

Holy

Joe

voices

when

they

start

giving

their

sermons.

God,

I

hate

that.

I

don't

see

why

the

hell

they

can't

talk

in

their

natural

voice.

They

sound

so

phony

when

they

talk.

Anyway,

when

I

was

in

bed,

I

couldn't

pray

worth

a

damn.

Every

time

I

got

started,

I

kept

picturing

old

Sunny

calling

me

a

crumb-bum.

Finally,

I

sat

up

in

bed

and

smoked

another

cigarette.

It

tasted

lousy.

I

must've

smoked

around

two

packs

since

I

left

Pencey.

All

of

a

sudden,

while

I

was

laying

there

smoking,

somebody

knocked

on

the

door.

I

kept

hoping

it

wasn't

my

door

they

were

knocking

on,

but

I

knew

damn

well

it

was.

I

don't

know

how

I

knew,

but

I

knew.

I

knew

who

it

was,

too.

I'm

psychic.

"Who's

there?"

I

said.

I

was

pretty

scared.

I'm

very

yellow

about

those

things.

They

just

knocked

again,

though.

Louder.

Finally

I

got

out

of

bed,

with

just

my

pajamas

on,

and

opened

the

door.

I

didn't

even

have

to

turn

the

light

on

in

the

room,

because

it

was

already

daylight.

Old

Sunny

and

Maurice,

the

pimpy

elevator

guy,

were

standing

there.

"What's

the

matter?

Wuddaya

want?"

I

said.

Boy,

my

voice

was

shaking

like

hell.

"Nothin'

much,"

old

Maurice

said.

"Just

five

bucks."

He

did

all

the

talking

for

the

two

of

them.

Old

Sunny

just

stood

there

next

to

him,

with

her

mouth

open

and

all.

"I

paid

her

already.

I

gave

her

five

bucks.

Ask

her,"

I

said.

Boy,

was

my

voice

shaking.

"It's

ten

bucks,

chief.

I

tole

ya

that.

Ten

bucks

for

a

throw,

fifteen

bucks

till

noon.

I

tole

ya

that."

"You

did

not

tell

me

that.

You

said

five

bucks

a

throw.

You

said

fifteen

bucks

till

noon,

all

right,

but

I

distinctly

heard

you--"

"Open

up,

chief."

"What

for?"

I

said.

God,

my

old

heart

was

damn

near

beating

me

out

of

the

room.

I

wished

I

was

dressed

at

least.

It's

terrible

to

be

just

in

your

pajamas

when

something

like

that

happens.

"Let's

go,

chief,"

old

Maurice

said.

Then

he

gave

me

a

big

shove

with

his

crumby

hand.

I

damn

near

fell

over

on

my

can--he

was

a

huge

sonuvabitch.

The

next

thing

I

knew,

he

and

old

Sunny

were

both

in

the

room.

They

acted

like

they

owned

the

damn

place.

Old

Sunny

sat

down

on

the

window

sill.

Old

Maurice

sat

down

in

the

big

chair

and

loosened

his

collar

and

all--he

was

wearing

this

elevator

operator's

uniform.

Boy,

was

I

nervous.

"All

right,

chief,

let's

have

it.

I

gotta

get

back

to

work."

"I

told

you

about

ten

times,

I

don't

owe

you

a

cent.

I

already

gave

her

the

five--"

"Cut

the

crap,

now.

Let's

have

it."

"Why

should

I

give

her

another

five

bucks?"

I

said.

My

voice

was

cracking

all

over

the

place.

"You're

trying

to

chisel

me."

Old

Maurice

unbuttoned

his

whole

uniform

coat.

All

he

had

on

underneath

was

a

phony

shirt

collar,

but

no

shirt

or

anything.

He

had

a

big

fat

hairy

stomach.

"Nobody's

tryna

chisel

nobody,"

he

said.

"Let's

have

it,

chief."

"No."

When

I

said

that,

he

got

up

from

his

chair

and

started

walking

towards

me

and

all.

He

looked

like

he

was

very,

very

tired

or

very,

very

bored.

God,

was

I

scared.

I

sort

of

had

my

arms

folded,

I

remember.

It

wouldn't

have

been

so

bad,

I

don't

think,

if

I

hadn't

had

just

my

goddam

pajamas

on.

"Let's

have

it,

chief."

He

came

right

up

to

where

I

was

standing.

That's

all

he

could

say.

"Let's

have

it,

chief."

He

was

a

real

moron.

"No."

"Chief,

you're

gonna

force

me

inna

roughin'

ya

up

a

little

bit.

I

don't

wanna

do

it,

but

that's

the

way

it

looks,"

he

said.

"You

owe

us

five

bucks."

"I

don't

owe

you

five

bucks,"

I

said.

"If

you

rough

me

up,

I'll

yell

like

hell.

I'll

wake

up

everybody

in

the

hotel.

The

police

and

all."

My

voice

was

shaking

like

a

bastard.

"Go

ahead.

Yell

your

goddam

head

off.

Fine,"

old

Maurice

said.

"Want

your

parents

to

know

you

spent

the

night

with

a

whore?

High-class

kid

like

you?"

He

was

pretty

sharp,

in

his

crumby

way.

He

really

was.

"Leave

me

alone.

If

you'd

said

ten,

it'd

be

different.

But

you

distinctly--"

"Are

ya

gonna

let

us

have

it?"

He

had

me

right

up

against

the

damn

door.

He

was

almost

standing

on

top

of

me,

his

crumby

old

hairy

stomach

and

all.

"Leave

me

alone.

Get

the

hell

out

of

my

room,"

I

said.

I

still

had

my

arms

folded

and

all.

God,

what

a

jerk

I

was.

Then

Sunny

said

something

for

the

first

time.

"Hey,

Maurice.

Want

me

to

get

his

wallet?"

she

said.

"It's

right

on

the

wutchamacallit."

"Yeah,

get

it."

"Leave

my

wallet

alone!"

"I

awreddy

got

it,"

Sunny

said.

She

waved

five

bucks

at

me.

"See?

All

I'm

takin'

is

the

five

you

owe

me.

I'm

no

crook."

All

of

a

sudden

I

started

to

cry.

I'd

give

anything

if

I

hadn't,

but

I

did.

"No,

you're

no

crooks,"

I

said.

"You're

just

stealing

five--"

"Shut

up,"

old

Maurice

said,

and

gave

me

a

shove.

"Leave

him

alone,

hey,"

Sunny

said.

"C'mon,

hey.

We

got

the

dough

he

owes

us.

Let's

go.

C'mon,

hey."

"I'm

comin',"

old

Maurice

said.

But

he

didn't.

"I

mean

it,

Maurice,

hey.

Leave

him

alone."

"Who's

hurtin'

anybody?"

he

said,

innocent

as

hell.

Then

what

he

did,

he

snapped

his

finger

very

hard

on

my

pajamas.

I

won't

tell

you

where

he

snapped

it,

but

it

hurt

like

hell.

I

told

him

he

was

a

goddam

dirty

moron.

"What's

that?"

he

said.

He

put

his

hand

behind

his

ear,

like

a

deaf

guy.

"What's

that?

What

am

I?"

I

was

still

sort

of

crying.

I

was

so

damn

mad

and

nervous

and

all.

"You're

a

dirty

moron,"

I

said.

"You're

a

stupid

chiseling

moron,

and

in

about

two

years

you'll

be

one

of

those

scraggy

guys

that

come

up

to

you

on

the

street

and

ask

for

a

dime

for

coffee.

You'll

have

snot

all

over

your

dirty

filthy

overcoat,

and

you'll

be--"

Then

he

smacked

me.

I

didn't

even

try

to

get

out

of

the

way

or

duck

or

anything.

All

I

felt

was

this

terrific

punch

in

my

stomach.

I

wasn't

knocked

out

or

anything,

though,

because

I

remember

looking

up

from

the

floor

and

seeing

them

both

go

out

the

door

and

shut

it.

Then

I

stayed

on

the

floor

a

fairly

long

time,

sort

of

the

way

I

did

with

Stradlater.

Only,

this

time

I

thought

I

was

dying.

I

really

did.

I

thought

I

was

drowning

or

something.

The

trouble

was,

I

could

hardly

breathe.

When

I

did

finally

get

up,

I

had

to

walk

to

the

bathroom

all

doubled

up

and

holding

onto

my

stomach

and

all.

But

I'm

crazy.

I

swear

to

God

I

am.

About

halfway

to

the

bathroom,

I

sort

of

started

pretending

I

had

a

bullet

in

my

guts.

Old

'Maurice

had

plugged

me.

Now

I

was

on

the

way

to

the

bathroom

to

get

a

good

shot

of

bourbon

or

something

to

steady

my

nerves

and

help

me

really

go

into

action.

I

pictured

myself

coming

out

of

the

goddam

bathroom,

dressed

and

all,

with

my

automatic

in

my

pocket,

and

staggering

around

a

little

bit.

Then

I'd

walk

downstairs,

instead

of

using

the

elevator.

I'd

hold

onto

the

banister

and

all,

with

this

blood

trickling

out

of

the

side

of

my

mouth

a

little

at

a

time.

What

I'd

do,

I'd

walk

down

a

few

floors--holding

onto

my

guts,

blood

leaking

all

over

the

place--

and

then

I'd

ring

the

elevator

bell.

As

soon

as

old

Maurice

opened

the

doors,

he'd

see

me

with

the

automatic

in

my

hand

and

he'd

start

screaming

at

me,

in

this

very

high-pitched,

yellowbelly

voice,

to

leave

him

alone.

But

I'd

plug

him

anyway.

Six

shots

right

through

his

fat

hairy

belly.

Then

I'd

throw

my

automatic

down

the

elevator

shaft--after

I'd

wiped

off

all

the

finger

prints

and

all.

Then

I'd

crawl

back

to

my

room

and

call

up

Jane

and

have

her

come

over

and

bandage

up

my

guts.

I

pictured

her

holding

a

cigarette

for

me

to

smoke

while

I

was

bleeding

and

all.

The

goddam

movies.

They

can

ruin

you.

I'm

not

kidding.

I

stayed

in

the

bathroom

for

about

an

hour,

taking

a

bath

and

all.

Then

I

got

back

in

bed.

It

took

me

quite

a

while

to

get

to

sleep--I

wasn't

even

tired--but

finally

I

did.

What

I

really

felt

like,

though,

was

committing

suicide.

I

felt

like

jumping

out

the

window.

I

probably

would've

done

it,

too,

if

I'd

been

sure

somebody'd

cover

me

up

as

soon

as

I

landed.

I

didn't

want

a

bunch

of

stupid

rubbernecks

looking

at

me

when

I

was

all

gory.

15

I

didn't

sleep

too

long,

because

I

think

it

was

only

around

ten

o'clock

when

I

woke

up.

I

felt

pretty

hungry

as

soon

as

I

had

a

cigarette.

The

last

time

I'd

eaten

was

those

two

hamburgers

I

had

with

Brossard

and

Ackley

when

we

went

in

to

Agerstown

to

the

movies.

That

was

a

long

time

ago.

It

seemed

like

fifty

years

ago.

The

phone

was

right

next

to

me,

and

I

started

to

call

down

and

have

them

send

up

some

breakfast,

but

I

was

sort

of

afraid

they

might

send

it

up

with

old

Maurice.

If

you

think

I

was

dying

to

see

him

again,

you're

crazy.

So

I

just

laid

around

in

bed

for

a

while

and

smoked

another

cigarette.

I

thought

of

giving

old

Jane

a

buzz,

to

see

if

she

was

home

yet

and

all,

but

I

wasn't

in

the

mood.

What

I

did

do,

I

gave

old

Sally

Hayes

a

buzz.

She

went

to

Mary

A.

Woodruff,

and

I

knew

she

was

home

because

I'd

had

this

letter

from

her

a

couple

of

weeks

ago.

I

wasn't

too

crazy

about

her,

but

I'd

known

her

for

years.

I

used

to

think

she

was

quite

intelligent,

in

my

stupidity.

The

reason

I

did

was

because

she

knew

quite

a

lot

about

the

theater

and

plays

and

literature

and

all

that

stuff.

If

somebody

knows

quite

a

lot

about

those

things,

it

takes

you

quite

a

while

to

find

out

whether

they're

really

stupid

or

not.

It

took

me

years

to

find

it

out,

in

old

Sally's

case.

I

think

I'd

have

found

it

out

a

lot

sooner

if

we

hadn't

necked

so

damn

much.

My

big

trouble

is,

I

always

sort

of

think

whoever

I'm

necking

is

a

pretty

intelligent

person.

It

hasn't

got

a

goddam

thing

to

do

with

it,

but

I

keep

thinking

it

anyway.

Anyway,

I

gave

her

a

buzz.

First

the

maid

answered.

Then

her

father.

Then

she

got

on.

"Sally?"

I

said.

"Yes--who

is

this?"

she

said.

She

was

quite

a

little

phony.

I'd

already

told

her

father

who

it

was.

"Holden

Caulfield.

How

are

ya?"

"Holden!

I'm

fine!

How

are

you?"

"Swell.

Listen.

How

are

ya,

anyway?

I

mean

how's

school?"

"Fine,"

she

said.

"I

mean--you

know."

"Swell.

Well,

listen.

I

was

wondering

if

you

were

busy

today.

It's

Sunday,

but

there's

always

one

or

two

matinees

going

on

Sunday.

Benefits

and

that

stuff.

Would

you

care

to

go?"

"I'd

love

to.

Grand."

Grand.

If

there's

one

word

I

hate,

it's

grand.

It's

so

phony.

For

a

second,

I

was

tempted

to

tell

her

to

forget

about

the

matinee.

But

we

chewed

the

fat

for

a

while.

That

is,

she

chewed

it.

You

couldn't

get

a

word

in

edgewise.

First

she

told

me

about

some

Harvard

guy--

it

probably

was

a

freshman,

but

she

didn't

say,

naturally--that

was

rushing

hell

out

of

her.

Calling

her

up

night

and

day.

Night

and

day--that

killed

me.

Then

she

told

me

about

some

other

guy,

some

West

Point

cadet,

that

was

cutting

his

throat

over

her

too.

Big

deal.

I

told

her

to

meet

me

under

the

clock

at

the

Biltmore

at

two

o'clock,

and

not

to

be

late,

because

the

show

probably

started

at

two-thirty.

She

was

always

late.

Then

I

hung

up.

She

gave

me

a

pain

in

the

ass,

but

she

was

very

good-looking.

After

I

made

the

date

with

old

Sally,

I

got

out

of

bed

and

got

dressed

and

packed

my

bag.

I

took

a

look

out

the

window

before

I

left

the

room,

though,

to

see

how

all

the

perverts

were

doing,

but

they

all

had

their

shades

down.

They

were

the

heighth

of

modesty

in

the

morning.

Then

I

went

down

in

the

elevator

and

checked

out.

I

didn't

see

old

Maurice

around

anywhere.

I

didn't

break

my

neck

looking

for

him,

naturally,

the

bastard.

I

got

a

cab

outside

the

hotel,

but

I

didn't

have

the

faintest

damn

idea

where

I

was

going.

I

had

no

place

to

go.

It

was

only

Sunday,

and

I

couldn't

go

home

till

Wednesday--

or

Tuesday

the

soonest.

And

I

certainly

didn't

feel

like

going

to

another

hotel

and

getting

my

brains

beat

out.

So

what

I

did,

I

told

the

driver

to

take

me

to

Grand

Central

Station.

It

was

right

near

the

Biltmore,

where

I

was

meeting

Sally

later,

and

I

figured

what

I'd

do,

I'd

check

my

bags

in

one

of

those

strong

boxes

that

they

give

you

a

key

to,

then

get

some

breakfast.

I

was

sort

of

hungry.

While

I

was

in

the

cab,

I

took

out

my

wallet

and

sort

of

counted

my

money.

I

don't

remember

exactly

what

I

had

left,

but

it

was

no

fortune

or

anything.

I'd

spent

a

king's

ransom

in

about

two

lousy

weeks.

I

really

had.

I'm

a

goddam

spendthrift

at

heart.

What

I

don't

spend,

I

lose.

Half

the

time

I

sort

of

even

forget

to

pick

up

my

change,

at

restaurants

and

night

clubs

and

all.

It

drives

my

parents

crazy.

You

can't

blame

them.

My

father's

quite

wealthy,

though.

I

don't

know

how

much

he

makes--he's

never

discussed

that

stuff

with

me--but

I

imagine

quite

a

lot.

He's

a

corporation

lawyer.

Those

boys

really

haul

it

in.

Another

reason

I

know

he's

quite

well

off,

he's

always

investing

money

in

shows

on

Broadway.

They

always

flop,

though,

and

it

drives

my

mother

crazy

when

he

does

it.

She

hasn't

felt

too

healthy

since

my

brother

Allie

died.

She's

very

nervous.

That's

another

reason

why

I

hated

like

hell

for

her

to

know

I

got

the

ax

again.

After

I

put

my

bags

in

one

of

those

strong

boxes

at

the

station,

I

went

into

this

little

sandwich

bar

and

bad

breakfast.

I

had

quite

a

large

breakfast,

for

me--orange

juice,

bacon

and

eggs,

toast

and

coffee.

Usually

I

just

drink

some

orange

juice.

I'm

a

very

light

eater.

I

really

am.

That's

why

I'm

so

damn

skinny.

I

was

supposed

to

be

on

this

diet

where

you

eat

a

lot

of

starches

and

crap,

to

gain

weight

and

all,

but

I

didn't

ever

do

it.

When

I'm

out

somewhere,

I

generally

just

eat

a

Swiss

cheese

sandwich

and

a

malted

milk.

It

isn't

much,

but

you

get

quite

a

lot

of

vitamins

in

the

malted

milk.

H.

V.

Caulfield.

Holden

Vitamin

Caulfield.

While

I

was

eating

my

eggs,

these

two

nuns

with

suitcases

and

all--I

guessed

they

were

moving

to

another

convent

or

something

and

were

waiting

for

a

train--came

in

and

sat

down

next

to

me

at

the

counter.

They

didn't

seem

to

know

what

the

hell

to

do

with

their

suitcases,

so

I

gave

them

a

hand.

They

were

these

very

inexpensive-looking

suitcases--the

ones

that

aren't

genuine

leather

or

anything.

It

isn't

important,

I

know,

but

I

hate

it

when

somebody

has

cheap

suitcases.

It

sounds

terrible

to

say

it,

but

I

can

even

get

to

hate

somebody,

just

looking

at

them,

if

they

have

cheap

suitcases

with

them.

Something

happened

once.

For

a

while

when

I

was

at

Elkton

Hills,

I

roomed

with

this

boy,

Dick

Slagle,

that

had

these

very

inexpensive

suitcases.

He

used

to

keep

them

under

the

bed,

instead

of

on

the

rack,

so

that

nobody'd

see

them

standing

next

to

mine.

It

depressed

holy

hell

out

of

me,

and

I

kept

wanting

to

throw

mine

out

or

something,

or

even

trade

with

him.

Mine

came

from

Mark

Cross,

and

they

were

genuine

cowhide

and

all

that

crap,

and

I

guess

they

cost

quite

a

pretty

penny.

But

it

was

a

funny

thing.

Here's

what

happened.

What

I

did,

I

finally

put

my

suitcases

under

my

bed,

instead

of

on

the

rack,

so

that

old

Slagle

wouldn't

get

a

goddam

inferiority

complex

about

it.

But

here's

what

he

did.

The

day

after

I

put

mine

under

my

bed,

he

took

them

out

and

put

them

back

on

the

rack.

The

reason

he

did

it,

it

took

me

a

while

to

find

out,

was

because

he

wanted

people

to

think

my

bags

were

his.

He

really

did.

He

was

a

very

funny

guy,

that

way.

He

was

always

saying

snotty

things

about

them,

my

suitcases,

for

instance.

He

kept

saying

they

were

too

new

and

bourgeois.

That

was

his

favorite

goddam

word.

He

read

it

somewhere

or

heard

it

somewhere.

Everything

I

had

was

bourgeois

as

hell.

Even

my

fountain

pen

was

bourgeois.

He

borrowed

it

off

me

all

the

time,

but

it

was

bourgeois

anyway.

We

only

roomed

together

about

two

months.

Then

we

both

asked

to

be

moved.

And

the

funny

thing

was,

I

sort

of

missed

him

after

we

moved,

because

he

had

a

helluva

good

sense

of

humor

and

we

had

a

lot

of

fun

sometimes.

I

wouldn't

be

surprised

if

he

missed

me,

too.

At

first

he

only

used

to

be

kidding

when

he

called

my

stuff

bourgeois,

and

I

didn't

give

a

damn--it

was

sort

of

funny,

in

fact.

Then,

after

a

while,

you

could

tell

he

wasn't

kidding

any

more.

The

thing

is,

it's

really

hard

to

be

roommates

with

people

if

your

suitcases

are

much

better

than

theirs--if

yours

are

really

good

ones

and

theirs

aren't.

You

think

if

they're

intelligent

and

all,

the

other

person,

and

have

a

good

sense

of

humor,

that

they

don't

give

a

damn

whose

suitcases

are

better,

but

they

do.

They

really

do.

It's

one

of

the

reasons

why

I

roomed

with

a

stupid

bastard

like

Stradlater.

At

least

his

suitcases

were

as

good

as

mine.

Anyway,

these

two

nuns

were

sitting

next

to

me,

and

we

sort

of

struck

up

a

conversation.

The

one

right

next

to

me

had

one

of

those

straw

baskets

that

you

see

nuns

and

Salvation

Army

babes

collecting

dough

with

around

Christmas

time.

You

see

them

standing

on

corners,

especially

on

Fifth

Avenue,

in

front

of

the

big

department

stores

and

all.

Anyway,

the

one

next

to

me

dropped

hers

on

the

floor

and

I

reached

down

and

picked

it

up

for

her.

I

asked

her

if

she

was

out

collecting

money

for

charity

and

all.

She

said

no.

She

said

she

couldn't

get

it

in

her

suitcase

when

she

was

packing

it

and

she

was

just

carrying

it.

She

had

a

pretty

nice

smile

when

she

looked

at

you.

She

had

a

big

nose,

and

she

had

on

those

glasses

with

sort

of

iron

rims

that

aren't

too

attractive,

but

she

had

a

helluva

kind

face.

"I

thought

if

you

were

taking

up

a

collection,"

I

told

her,

"I

could

make

a

small

contribution.

You

could

keep

the

money

for

when

you

do

take

up

a

collection."

"Oh,

how

very

kind

of

you,"

she

said,

and

the

other

one,

her

friend,

looked

over

at

me.

The

other

one

was

reading

a

little

black

book

while

she

drank

her

coffee.

It

looked

like

a

Bible,

but

it

was

too

skinny.

It

was

a

Bible-type

book,

though.

All

the

two

of

them

were

eating

for

breakfast

was

toast

and

coffee.

That

depressed

me.

I

hate

it

if

I'm

eating

bacon

and

eggs

or

something

and

somebody

else

is

only

eating

toast

and

coffee.

They

let

me

give

them

ten

bucks

as

a

contribution.

They

kept

asking

me

if

I

was

sure

I

could

afford

it

and

all.

I

told

them

I

had

quite

a

bit

of

money

with

me,

but

they

didn't

seem

to

believe

me.

They

took

it,

though,

finally.

The

both

of

them

kept

thanking

me

so

much

it

was

embarrassing.

I

swung

the

conversation

around

to

general

topics

and

asked

them

where

they

were

going.

They

said

they

were

schoolteachers

and

that

they'd

just

come

from

Chicago

and

that

they

were

going

to

start

teaching

at

some

convent

on

168th

Street

or

186th

Street

or

one

of

those

streets

way

the

hell

uptown.

The

one

next

to

me,

with

the

iron

glasses,

said

she

taught

English

and

her

friend

taught

history

and

American

government.

Then

I

started

wondering

like

a

bastard

what

the

one

sitting

next

to

me,

that

taught

English,

thought

about,

being

a

nun

and

all,

when

she

read

certain

books

for

English.

Books

not

necessarily

with

a

lot

of

sexy

stuff

in

them,

but

books

with

lovers

and

all

in

them.

Take

old

Eustacia

Vye,

in

The

Return

of

the

Native

by

Thomas

Hardy.

She

wasn't

too

sexy

or

anything,

but

even

so

you

can't

help

wondering

what

a

nun

maybe

thinks

about

when

she

reads

about

old

Eustacia.

I

didn't

say

anything,

though,

naturally.

All

I

said

was

English

was

my

best

subject.

"Oh,

really?

Oh,

I'm

so

glad!"

the

one

with

the

glasses,

that

taught

English,

said.

"What

have

you

read

this

year?

I'd

be

very

interested

to

know."

She

was

really

nice.

"Well,

most

of

the

time

we

were

on

the

Anglo-Saxons.

Beowulf,

and

old

Grendel,

and

Lord

Randal

My

Son,

and

all

those

things.

But

we

had

to

read

outside

books

for

extra

credit

once

in

a

while.

I

read

The

Return

of

the

Native

by

Thomas

Hardy,

and

Romeo

and

Juliet

and

Julius--"

"Oh,

Romeo

and

Juliet!

Lovely!

Didn't

you

just

love

it?"

She

certainly

didn't

sound

much

like

a

nun.

"Yes.

I

did.

I

liked

it

a

lot.

There

were

a

few

things

I

didn't

like

about

it,

but

it

was

quite

moving,

on

the

whole."

"What

didn't

you

like

about

it?

Can

you

remember?"

To

tell

you

the

truth,

it

was

sort

of

embarrassing,

in

a

way,

to

be

talking

about

Romeo

and

Juliet

with

her.

I

mean

that

play

gets

pretty

sexy

in

some

parts,

and

she

was

a

nun

and

all,

but

she

asked

me,

so

I

discussed

it

with

her

for

a

while.

"Well,

I'm

not

too

crazy

about

Romeo

and

Juliet,"

I

said.

"I

mean

I

like

them,

but--I

don't

know.

They

get

pretty

annoying

sometimes.

I

mean

I

felt

much

sorrier

when

old

Mercutio

got

killed

than

when

Romeo

and

Juliet

did.

The

think

is,

I

never

liked

Romeo

too

much

after

Mercutio

gets

stabbed

by

that

other

man--Juliet's

cousin--what's

his

name?"

"Tybalt."

"That's

right.

Tybalt,"

I

said--I

always

forget

that

guy's

name.

"It

was

Romeo's

fault.

I

mean

I

liked

him

the

best

in

the

play,

old

Mercutio.

I

don't

know.

All

those

Montagues

and

Capulets,

they're

all

right--especially

Juliet--but

Mercutio,

he

was--it's

hard

to

explain.

He

was

very

smart

and

entertaining

and

all.

The

thing

is,

it

drives

me

crazy

if

somebody

gets

killed--

especially

somebody

very

smart

and

entertaining

and

all--

and

it's

somebody

else's

fault.

Romeo

and

Juliet,

at

least

it

was

their

own

fault."

"What

school

do

you

go

to?"

she

asked

me.

She

probably

wanted

to

get

off

the

subject

of

Romeo

and

Juliet.

I

told

her

Pencey,

and

she'd

heard

of

it.

She

said

it

was

a

very

good

school.

I

let

it

pass,

though.

Then

the

other

one,

the

one

that

taught

history

and

government,

said

they'd

better

be

running

along.

I

took

their

check

off

them,

but

they

wouldn't

let

me

pay

it.

The

one

with

the

glasses

made

me

give

it

back

to

her.

"You've

been

more

than

generous,"

she

said.

"You're

a

very

sweet

boy."

She

certainly

was

nice.

She

reminded

me

a

little

bit

of

old

Ernest

Morrow's

mother,

the

one

I

met

on

the

train.

When

she

smiled,

mostly.

"We've

enjoyed

talking

to

you

so

much,"

she

said.

I

said

I'd

enjoyed

talking

to

them

a

lot,

too.

I

meant

it,

too.

I'd

have

enjoyed

it

even

more

though,

I

think,

if

I

hadn't

been

sort

of

afraid,

the

whole

time

I

was

talking

to

them,

that

they'd

all

of

a

sudden

try

to

find

out

if

I

was

a

Catholic.

Catholics

are

always

trying

to

find

out

if

you're

a

Catholic.

It

happens

to

me

a

lot,

I

know,

partly

because

my

last

name

is

Irish,

and

most

people

of

Irish

descent

are

Catholics.

As

a

matter

of

fact,

my

father

was

a

Catholic

once.

He

quit,

though,

when

he

married

my

mother.

But

Catholics

are

always

trying

to

find

out

if

you're

a

Catholic

even

if

they

don't

know

your

last

name.

I

knew

this

one

Catholic

boy,

Louis

Shaney,

when

I

was

at

the

Whooton

School.

He

was

the

first

boy

I

ever

met

there.

He

and

I

were

sitting

in

the

first

two

chairs

outside

the

goddam

infirmary,

the

day

school

opened,

waiting

for

our

physicals,

and

we

sort

of

struck

up

this

conversation

about

tennis.

He

was

quite

interested

in

tennis,

and

so

was

I.

He

told

me

he

went

to

the

Nationals

at

Forest

Hills

every

summer,

and

I

told

him

I

did

too,

and

then

we

talked

about

certain

hot-shot

tennis

players

for

quite

a

while.

He

knew

quite

a

lot

about

tennis,

for

a

kid

his

age.

He

really

did.

Then,

after

a

while,

right

in

the

middle

of

the

goddam

conversation,

he

asked

me,

"Did

you

happen

to

notice

where

the

Catholic

church

is

in

town,

by

any

chance?"

The

thing

was,

you

could

tell

by

the

way

he

asked

me

that

he

was

trying

to

find

out

if

I

was

a

Catholic.

He

really

was.

Not

that

he

was

prejudiced

or

anything,

but

he

just

wanted

to

know.

He

was

enjoying

the

conversation

about

tennis

and

all,

but

you

could

tell

he

would've

enjoyed

it

more

if

I

was

a

Catholic

and

all.

That

kind

of

stuff

drives

me

crazy.

I'm

not

saying

it

ruined

our

conversation

or

anything--it

didn't--but

it

sure

as

hell

didn't

do

it

any

good.

That's

why

I

was

glad

those

two

nuns

didn't

ask

me

if

I

was

a

Catholic.

It

wouldn't

have

spoiled

the

conversation

if

they

had,

but

it

would've

been

different,

probably.

I'm

not

saying

I

blame

Catholics.

I

don't.

I'd

be

the

same

way,

probably,

if

I

was