QUART SPRING 1354
VOLUME V - 25 cents • Number II
The Short Story, Ab'ce Morris's article in this issue, is the first in a series of four such articles on the various aspects of the writer's craft by prominent people in the field. In the next issue we hope to run an article by Rosemary Casey, author of Late Love, The Velvet Glove and other successful Broadway plays. This issue marks the beginning of the QUARTO awards. Henceforth, at the end of each year, one will be given to the best piece of fiction submitted to us and one to the best piece of poetry. For 1954, the board has selected Ruth Newman's Behved Daughter and John Tagliabue's prosopoerns for honors in their respective fields.
QUARTO VOLUME V. NUMBER 2
A Literary Magazine PUBLISHED AT THE SCHOOL OF GENERAL STUDIES COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY INDEX The Gold Earring The Short Story Young Boy By The Green Sea The Death of His Father A Fisherman On Christmas Eve Tears After Death We Cannot Unsleep The Blossoms Beloved Daughter Reunion Bow-Legged Woman Editor's Commentary Contributors
short story article
Vurrell Yentzen 3 Alice Morris 14
John Tagliabue 17 John Tagliabue 19
John Tagliabue 20 Judith Bishop 21
poem short story short story short story
Chris Bjerknes Ruth Newman Olive Sheil D. Preston Boone Robert Cluett, IV
22 24 39 46 58 61
EDITOR ROBERT CLUETT, rv
HARRY PRINCE COMBS, JR.
BUSINESS MANAGER JAMES MECHLER
JOHN F. DONNER
GLEN S. FOSTER, II
FACULTY ADVISOR HELEN HULL
is published semi-annually during the winter and spring sessions by the students of the School of General Studies, Columbia University. Copyright 1954 by QUABTO. Office of Publication and Editorial Office, 801 Business Building, Columbia University, New York 27, N.Y. Manuscripts will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. No material in this magazine may be reprinted without permission of the Publishers. QUARTO
Single copies: $.25. Subscriptions: Domestic, $1.00 for four issues. Foreign, $.50 extra for postage. In case of change of address, please notify us and your local post office immediately. Set in Linoytpe Caledonia, ten point, leaded two points, on fifty-five pound book paper, antique, laid. Printed in the United States of America by The Columbia University Press.
THE GOLD EARRING by Vurrell Yentzen
into the lab and closed the door firmly behind him. He was a big guy. No two ways about that, Paul thought. He must stand at least six feet three in his stocking feet. He must have done a lot of weight lifting. You could tell that. There was too much muscular development for his slender waist. He leaned against the door, eyeing Paul critically. With his hand back of him, he turned the lock on the door. He's either got a grievance and was going to settle it now, Paul decided, or else he was going to ask him to do some lab work secretly for him. He had seen others come in and peer furtively around and say, "Say, Doc. How about running a smear on me? I think I got the clap." But there wasn't anything furtive about this guy. Paul hadn't seen him before, but isolation might have knocked him off his rockers and he had some fancied resentment. And if the guy was going into action, then Paul would need a club or a chair to even out the match. He ran over in his mind what he could use. The sailor had that aggressive bold appeal, almost animal magnetism, which some women find attractive. He was not handsome in an ordinary sense, but there was a look in his face that was out of keeping with his animalness. And seeing him, Paul felt some envy, because this man had much of the maleness that he wished he had. There were enough lingering traces of hero worship in Paul to make him see in this male an ideal of masculinity. He had superior physical inheritance to begin with, Paul decided. He could regret that his parents had not possessed that superiority of size to pass on to him. Here, then, was the way that all men should look â€” big, muscular, sure. But they must go beyond that â€” above all, they must be brainy. And Paul was sure this man was not. "Doc," he said. "I want you to pierce my ear." And Paul felt some relief that the guy hadn't planned violence. "Are you kidding?" THE SAILOR CAME
japs from killing you." He was certainly big enough, Paul thought, and man enough to get away with wearing an earring. "I use to see them use thorns from a thorn tree in the Pacific to punch their ears. But some had trouble. I don't want no trouble with my ear." "Alright," said Paul, remembering the women in his family telling how it was done. "You put one needle in a cork," an aunt had said, "And press it through the ear lobe into another cork. Then a piece of thread is left in the lobe until it heals." Paul mentioned the piece of thread, but the sailor said he didn't have time to wait until it was healed. He wanted the ring put in now. Paul put a needle, two corks and the gold earring in alcohol. Working quickly, he punched the ear lobe and put in the earring. "There's a mirror over the washbasin behind the screen," Paul said. "See how you like it." There was no sign of like or dislike when the sailor came back from behind the screen. "What do I owe you, Doc?" "Nothing. I was glad to do it." Almost, Paul could detect surprise on his face. "I'll pay. I don't like to be beholden to you." Paul shook his head. "It was nothing." It seemed like one of those many little incidents that occurred during one's life and, afterwards, Paul forgot it until nearly a year later when he was doing duty in the lab at the Naval Air Station in Seattle. Dr. Hopkins came in one morning, saying, "Paul, let me have two smears on this guy. Then take him up to Ward 3 and leave his health record with Brunskill with your lab reports." The big sailor was looking at Paul without apparent recognition. And Paul wondered where he had seen him before. He took two smears and dried them over the flame of the bunsen burner. After he fixed them, he flooded the slides with Gentian violet. "I've seen you before," said Paul. "But I'll be damned if I can remember where." "In Alaska," said the sailor. "You put a earring in my ear." Paul cleared the slides with iodine and discolored with ace-
tone. Then he flooded them with saffranine. "I see it kept y o u from getting killed." Washing and drying one slide, Paul slipped it under the microscope. He did not look long before he found what he was looking for. "Look in there," said Paul sliding off the stool. "You can s e e what's causing your trouble." "How could I tell?" he asked, making no move. "You'll never see unless you try to see. This is what you must look for." And with his pencil he drew a diagram. "You will s e e a round cell with irregular material towards the center. This is the nucleus, but what you want to see aie those tiny red dots within this cell. They are paired. These are bacteria which a r e causing your trouble. Put one hand over your left eye and look into the microscope with the right eye." And the sailor looked dubiously into the microscope. "Yes, I s e e that," he said finally. "So that's what it is." "What did you expect?" "Nothing. I just thought it was something you couldn't understand. It just happened." "There's always an answer somewhere to everything," said Paul. And Paul filled out the lab slip with the comment, "Extra and intra-cellular gram negative diplococcus, morphologically re_ sembling N. gonococcus." And picking up the health record, h e said aloud while he wrote on the slip. "John N. Montana. Age 23." "Call me Bull," said the sailor. "That's what I'm called, Bull Montana." Paul looked through the health record and whistled softly. "You seem to be doing alright. Seven cases of clap and one of the Old Joe. Don't you know what a pro is?" "I get drunk," he said, sheepishly. "Ah, hell," said Paul. "For a few minutes of neglect you sp e n d weeks fouled up." "You get the reds," said Bull evasively. "You see this little coo cn somewhere and she looks pretty cute. And you're already looplegged. Then you're waking up in some cheap hotel. You ever notice, Doc, how it always look the same out of a cheap hotel? The window looks out to a dirty wall. In every city it looks the same. And in the morning you see she has pimples on her fanny.
And somehow you're giving her more money than you intended â€” it seems an easy way." And in the days that passed, Paul found this was a long speech for Bull. Usually, he was silent. And remembering him later, Paul recalled his silences always. But it was not a brooding silence as if he were thinking deeply; rather it seemed more a blankness as if he did not want to think. Bull came in frequently for the smears that were ordered. The sulfonamides weren't helping him much and Hoppy said that he was going to put him on pencillin which was just then coming into use. It was expensive yet and generally unavailable. Sometimes Bull would talk, but usually he sat in the lab unspeaking. And Paul would show him slides he was working and sometimes Bull would peer in the microscope. And although he never refused to look at any material, still he didn't seem too interested. Not even the day when Paul had staged such a good darkfield that Hoppy had summoned all the doctors and corpsmen to see the Treponema pallidum, saying that it was seldom to see them so clearly and abundantly demonstrated. "You're a smart guy, Doc," Bill said one day. "Perhaps," said Paul, who always felt uneasy with a compliment. "Look, I don't know your field. What you know, I don't know. It evens out." Bull came into the lab so frequently that the nurse put him on report to Hopkins for not staying on the ward. But Hoppy said it was alright as long as Paul didn't mind. "How you can stand that big ape hulking on a stool, staring at you and watching you work is beyond me, though," he said to Paul. "It would give me the willies." And Paul thought, well, what did he feel inside about that? Pity for Bull, perhaps. In some dim way Bull was looking, searching for something to tie to. Bull came into the lab one day looking depressed and, seeing this, Paul asked, "What's wrong?" "It's this dispensary," he lashed out. "Cooped up. Watching other guys get liberty." "You'll be restricted until you're clear," said Paul. "But I will speak to Hoppy. Maybe we can work out something." And Paul talked with Hoppy, saying he would like to take Bull out on liberty. He would be responsible for him. 6
Hoppy agreed, saying, "For Christ's sakes, though, keep him away from women or whiskey." Paul reported back to Bull. "It won't be much of a liberty, but we can walk around, go to a show. At least, you will be away from the base for a few hours." "You'll have to watch me or I'll get drunk," he said. There was no denying that. Periodically, Paul had learned, Bull would get drunk. When he was on liberty he would raise so much hell usually that the SP's would dump him back on the base and put him on report. Yet his size made him ideal for SP duty and he caught this with more and more frequency and this saved him, usually, from the brig. "What would you do if I wasn't with you?" Bull asked. Paul laughed. "This will floor you. The American Ballet is in town. I thought I might see that." Bull shook his head. "That's too high-class for me, what with them cooches on their toes and pansies flitting around." "Well, we can't chase women and we can't drink," said Paul practically. "We could go to a show." "How about some hot burlesque? Down at the Bijou I know this little cooch. We could drop by there." "I don't know," said Paul doubtfully. "Hoppy said no stimulation." "Hell, we're just going to look. I'll make a deal. We see this burlesque first, then we see this ballet business." The next morning, Paul reported to Hoppy that he had taken the deal. "I hope you're not trying to educate that ape," Hoppy said, peering through his heavy glasses at the lab reports Paul had given him. "You're wasting your time. How did he react to the burlesque?" "I couldn't tell. You know he doesn't speak very much. He just sat there and stared." "Probably having a nice vicarious lay and setting his treatments back about a week. What about the ballet?" "Good. Frankie and Johnny, Three Virgins and the Devil, and Scherezade were on the bill. You know. He got pretty excited over those. He said if they tried all that business in burlesque they would padlock the joint. He wanted to know if this was high-class stuff. I said yes. Highbrow stuff tries to interpret ex-
perience more fully." In a way Bull had been impressed, Paul could see that. But in what way he wasn't sure. He didn't tell Hoppy that afterwards Bull had said, "Say, do you think those cooches," and then he blushed faintly as if he were committing a sacrilege, "I mean, do you think those ladies date out?" Actually, Paul would have liked to go out with Bull on liberty again, because he was sure about something now. For all his boldness and self-assurance, there was still in Bull an innocence, a naiveity he would have been the first to deny. But orders came through for Paul and he left for the Naval Medical Center for special work in tropical epidemiology. Bull came down to the lab and said, "You ought to make chief out of this, Doc. You're a 4.0 guy." And not knowing what to say, Paul shook hands with him silently. "Bull was in," Hoppy wrote. "He claims it's a relapse again. I'm not so sure, but I'm going to give him the benefit of a doubt. He asked for your address. Say, does that guy know how to write?" Bull never wrote to Paul. After completing the course at the Medical Center, Paul was assigned to the Fourth Fleet and the night before he went aboard the troop transport at San Francisco, he was given liberty. And he picked up this girl called Evelyn in a bar named the Golden Dragon. She was not beautiful. He did not demand that in the women that attracted him. But she was exotic. For this night he wanted to forget the world and submerge himself. He wanted to forget that all this had a cheapness, a betrayal of everything within him, but he needed a physical release, so that his moral incriminations would leave him tranquil for weeks to come. And he could see that obviously all that he meant to Evelyn was a little entertainment and possibly a few dollars on the rent. Then he wanted to laugh at the idea. For a few days he would be the roof over her head. She watched him intently, laughing diplomatically at his jokes, and, he thought, for this evening I will pretend that I am in love with her. I will pretend that she is Dolores and I have loved her for many years. Paul was caught in the great web of nations fighting and, al8
though he realized that in some minute way he was performing his duty as a citizen, still that wasn't enough. As the drinks came and he spoke to Evelyn it was as if he sat aside, permitting part of himself to indulge in this affair. He waited patiently, as later he would wait patiently in some hotel room, until he could lead himself back to the base. Objectively, he had watched himself through the years in the Navy, brooding over his behavior, picking and analyzing those demands and desires which continued to press. And then, he brought into their conversation, "Are you happy, Dolores?" And for a second she was quiet. Almost he had probed through her show of interest and amusement. For a moment he thought she had taken the bait. "Of course," she said, laughing. "What brought this on?" "Nothing," he said hastily, retreating quickly to his position of observer. He watched her studying him for a moment. Then she was back behind her mask of interest. Then he amused himself feeding her those little bits of small talk that kept an affair like this developing. She looked up and there was a sudden real interest on her face. And there was a tall SP standing at the table. And looking up, Paul saw that it was Bull and that he had made chief. He stood up, pleased to see him again and ready to congratulate him. He put out his hand, but Bull ignored it. "What in the hell you're doing here?" he asked without any trace of pleasure, looking at the girl. And feeling some criticism, Paul could see the anticipation leave her. 'Evelyn and I are going to make a night of it," Paul said, squeezing her hand. She smiled at him. For a moment Bull looked at them, unsmiling. "OK," he said. And turning he left the place. "Friendly bastard," Evelyn said, staring after him. "Who is he?" "Someone I knew in Seattle. He was a patient in the dispensary." And a friend, too, he had thought. "He's a sonofabitch, but he's a good-looking devil." "Women have thought so," Paul said, thinking of his health record. "So, what the hell," said Evelyn snuggling up to him.
They sat and drank for an hour, then he said, "I'm going to slip out for a few minutes and get a hotel room. Any suggestions?" She appeared to think for a moment. "Try the Avalon," she said, "One block up the street, one to your right." When he went to the door, there was a SP standing there. He started to brush by, but the SP stopped him. "Hold it, Doc." Paul looked at him, puzzled. He was a big bastard, too. They were all big bastards, these SPs. "What's the deal?" "I've got orders you're not to leave this place." "Why?" There was bitterness in his voice. "The Chief said to keep you inside until he gets back." And there was resentment in Paul now. And he wondered what he had done or said that would have made Bull change. Of course, Bull might be sore that he had never written to him, but you didn't write in the Navy. Friendships weren't like that. They were quick, of the moment and almost as quickly forgotten. And if you ran across the guy again somewhere you picked up the threads of friendship thankfully. Living always for the day, never for yesterday or tomorrow, you didn't plan long friendships for the years. Always you tucked memories away in your mind. Well, if in some way he had hurt Bull, Bull had also hurt him now. "What if I won't?" asked Paul. "Then," said the SP, looking him over. "I got orders to pull you in." Paul went back to the table. "What's the matter?" Evelyn asked. "Didn't Billy let you have a room?" "I didn't leave the place. There's an SP outside. I'm restricted inside." "What in the hell's going on?" she asked. "I never heard of this." "Bull left orders to keep me inside until he gets back. I'll settle this with him. I'll tell you what. I'll phone for a room reservation." "I'll do it," she said, getting up. "I want to go to the little girl's room anyway." And he drank pensively, waiting for her to return. Already he was feeling his drinks; he would have to cut down. Dammit! What could be eating Bull? There was almost a touch of anxiety in Bull's manner. But mostly it had been resentment. "It's OK," said Evelyn, sitting down and putting her arm 10
around his neck. "When this friend of yours gets here, we'll get rid of him. You know, Honey, I like you." Later, Bull came in, looking much like a recruiting poster with the white canvas boots, belt and arm band of the Shore Patrol. "God, what a man!" Evelyn exclaimed, ready to be friendly again. There was no friendliness on Bull's face when he came to the table. "Drunk yet?" "Not yet," said Paul. He knew Bull could see he had been drinking heavily. "Sit down." Bull looked at Evelyn intently and for so long that the smile of invitation left her face. "See something you like?" she asked. But he didn't answer her. Looking back at Paul, he said to the girl, '"Beat it." "Listen, Bull," Paul said, starting to get up. "She's with me. I don't like this." Bull pushed him back into his seat. "You sit there unless you want me to run you in." Paul struggled to get to his feet, raging inwardly at Bull, but Bull held him down firmly. "Believe me, Paul, I'll beat the hell out of you if it takes it." The girl was standing, hesitating. "What's eating him?" "Ask him," said Paul, looking again at Bull. "Scram." She reached for her purse. "Wait a moment," Paul said, taking her purse. And under the table he slipped a ten into it. He gave the purse back to her. And, after looking coldly at Bull, she walked away rapidly. Twisting a chair so that its back was to the table, Bull straddled it. "What's on your mind?" Paul asked. "I want you to have a drink with me," he said brusquely. "Alright." Bull spun away lightly from the table. He came from the bar with two drinks. He handed one to Paul who looked at its dark color. Then Paul sipped at it. "This is straight whiskey." "What's the matter?" asked Bull coldly. "Can't you take it?" 11
And then he sat there silently, waiting for Paul to finish his drink. "Another?" Paul looked doubtful. "Don't give me that," Bull said. He went to the bar and came back with another drink. There was a brooding darkness in him now. Paul did not know what to make of him. He had hurt Bull in some way. Bull watched Paul intently while Paul drank. And later when somebody said, "Hell, there I was drinking, and that's the last thing I remember," Paul would nod with sympathy, although, until the night when he passed out drinking with Bull, he would have denied anyone couldn't remember what he was doing. He had always insisted, before, it was more a matter of convenience. When Paul became aware again, he was sitting in a steam cabinet, dripping sweat. He was hot and tired. An immense negro was watching him, periodically wiping the sweat from his face with a towel. "How you feel?" "Terrible. What's all this?" "The SPs brought you in. One's waiting in the lobby for you." He was in for it now, he decided. He would be on report when he returned to the receiving station. If that's what Bull had in mind, he would have small satisfaction. And he tried to figure Bull out. And while he went through the cold shower and, later, the massage table, he still tried to figure out Bull. There wasn't much resentment in Paul now. If anything, he felt deeply hurt. When he came out into the lobby, Bull was waiting for him. "You bastard," Paul said when he saw him. "You got me drunk on purpose. I hope you're satisfied." "I've got an SP jeep outside. I'm taking you back to the base." Bull had his liberty card in his hand. Resentment flared up in him again; he didn't like to be pushed around. "My liberty isn't up. This is my last one in the States. I'm attached to the Fourth Fleet." "I'm taking you back to the base, Doc." And Paul knew there was nothing which would change him. Silently they drove towards the base. Finally Bull turned his 12
head and said, "This school. Did you top the class?" "I don't know. We were graded into sections." "You were in the top section?" Bull asked, almost belligerently. "I was in the top section, alright," Paul said. "But it doesn't mean anything." But Bull nodded his head, as if it had pleased him. Then he was silent again. And when he stopped his jeep near the gate a guard came towards them. "Having trouble, Chief?" he asked, looking at the SP insignia and at Paul. Bull shook his head. "Nope. I was just giving Doc here a lift." And the guard went back into the OD shack. Paul got out of the jeep and walked around to the driver's side. And facing Bull, he said, "Look, Bull, I don't know what this is all about." And there passed this glance between them. And what it was Paul couldn't decide. It was as if suddenly Bull had looked at him with no defenses. And he saw there, trust, respect â€” even perhaps belongingness. And seeing this, he felt humble and ashamed with himself for feeling resentment. Then Bull's left fist hit him playfully, but so roughly that Paul staggered back a step. "Look here, you bastard," said Bull. "You've got to take care of yourself. I don't want anything to happen to you. Here." And he extended a closed hand. Paul put out his hand, wondering. "See you next trip." And Bull was gone, leaving Paul to stare at the gold earring in his hand.
NEW YORK IN SUMMER Oh, what is it about this town That's driving us all to insanity? May I suggest it's not the heat It's the humanity.
THE SHORT STORY by Alice Morris
This is a reprint of a lecture that Miss Morris gave at the Columbia University Writers' Conference last December. Miss Morris is the literary editor of Harper's Bazaar. I want to say at once that I have never made a speech. I'll try at least to be brief; and if my remarks prove stilted and scattered, I hope you'll forgive me. Professor Loggins has suggested that I tell you what kind of stories I am looking for as an editor. This seems like a simple assignment. But it's far easier, of course, to sit reading in private and deciding what you like, than to explain publicly why you like it — and what criteria are involved in that liking. Before going on, I should say a word about the role of fiction on Harper's Bazaar. Thanks in great measure to my predecessors there, George Davis and Mary Louise Aswell, it is established that literary vitality and distinction are the ruling criteria in choosing fiction. There is no "formula" for a Harper's Bazaar story, no "woman's" angle, even though it is a woman's magazine. I would thus seem to be in the fortunate position of simply buying the best writing, as I see it. Well, it is less simple than that. As part of a magazine, you are bound to recognize your readership — even if through a glass, darkly. The Harper's Bazaar reader — as I perhaps wishfully conjure one up — is sophisticated and intelligent, drawn to the stylish and the cosmopolitan. And while, as I have said, I am happily under no pressure to flatter that audience, it is imperative that I reach it. In what way? And to what end? Well, I think the way is by delighting or surprising it — or both. And the end, the objective — at least in my case — is to win it, in the name of literature. I would like to show the reader — even the random, anti-highbrow reader, if we have any — how many strings literature has to its bow, and how many ways its arrows may strike home. With this end in view, either the conventional, if well-done, 14
"problem" story that the Woman's Home Companion might favor, or the difficult avant garde story that the specialized readers of The Partisan Review might find easy going, would seem to fly wide of my mark. In trying to aim closer, in trying to publish what will attract the intelligent but not necessarily intellectual reader toward writing as an art and a recreation, rather than a pastime, or a kill-time, I find myself moving in many directions at once. Over the past year, I think as many forms of fiction as there are have appeared in Harper's Bazaar: the fable, the fantasy, the idyll, the psychological tale and the supernatural, as well as the straight narrative short story, and occasional sections from novels — like The Eagle section, for instance, from Saul Bellow's Adventures of Augie March. Among the writers, have been experienced artists like Graham Greene, Colette, Frank O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Jean Stafford, Lagerkvist and Silone — as well as greener talents like those of Sylvia Berkman, Flannery O'Connor, P. H. Newby and William Sansom. Incidentally, the ratio of experienced to inexperienced writers represented on the magazine runs at about three to one. This is pretty much bound to be, if judgments are based on literary performance. The more expert the writer becomes at his craft, the better he is — it would even be discouraging if it were otherwise. The younger writer has the advantage of freshness — of a fresh personality and language and orientation. And this often compensates for a shade less of authority in the writing. But it still takes a high talent and a lot of work to outclass a Faulkner or a Hemingway, a Katherine Anne Porter or a Robert Penn Warren. I sometimes get letters asking if a certain theme would be suitable for Harper's Bazaar. Well, in a good storyteller's hands, any theme, any time, any place, is transformed — and suitable. He can be the Spaniard Galdos, and make the travails of a 19th century moneylender in Madrid seem more immediate than McCarthy. Or he can be our own Charles Jackson, writing about a modern New Year's Eve in New England. What's more, as I have already intimated, I don't much believe in the distinction between a "woman's" story and a "man's" story. For instance, in January we are publishing a mountain-climbing story by Patrick O'Brian — the author of Testimonies and 15
The Catalans. In essence, it is the account of a man's experience of physical fear. And in our current issue we have a story by Dylan Thomas, whose recent death has touched more people throughout America than any writer's death in my memory. Thomas's story is a roaring, witty and lovely poem-in-prose about an all-male outing in Wales. Either story could be thought of as in some sense a man's story. Yet in each case, I think, the art of the storyteller lifts it into that category where — if you were Gertrude Stein — you might say: a story is a story is a story. All this brings me close to the dreaded point of defining my terms, of sayin what I think makes one story succeed and an other fail. I'm going to fall back on a touchstone. In my story reading, that touchstone is the final long story of Joyce's Dubliners — The Dead. I think it has the true magic, and the true mastery. From the opening, and the preparations for Miss Kate's and Miss Julia's annual dance, the story seems to flow and grow of itself. The author is nowhere to be seen. As you move through that incredible party, people and incidents come to life as if touched by a wand. And when the party is left behind, and the story wings out to where poor young Michael Furey stands catching his death in the rain, the indispensable moment of shock and illumination is achieved — the moment for which every step of the story has been preparation. Not every writer can be a Joyce — young as Joyce was when he wrote the Dubliner stories. Nor, perhaps, does he want to be. But he can and he must aim for that moment of climax and meaning that is the short story's reason for being. Finally, I want to quote from an essay on the short story that Mr. V. S. Pritchett wrote for us last summer. "For a long time," Mr. Pritchett writes, "the short story was the poor relation of the novel. Even in the hands of genius, like those of Maupassant and Chekhov, the short story was thought to be the pis alter of writers who would have written novels if they had only known how. We now think differently; and, in this century, writers have had the excitement of a new, intensely individual art at their disposal. It is a hybrid. It owes much to the quickness, the objectivity and cutting of the cinema; it owes much to the poet on the one hand and the newspaper reporter on the other; and everything to the restlessness, the alert nerve, the scientific eye and the short breath of contemporary life. It succeeds on condition that it gets off on 16
the right foot and bears in mind what is said to be the motto of the Bank of England: Never explain; never apologize. "Moralists," Mr. Pritchett goes on, "used to condemn even the greatest novels as dangerous, drugging daydreams. There was something in this argument. Their length, their inclusiveness, their shaplessness â€” despite all the efforts of Henry James and Flaubert â€” were bemusing. The story, on the other hand, wakes the reader up. Not only that; it answers the primitive craving for art: the wit, paradox and beauty of shape, the longing to see a dramatic pattern and significance in our experience, the desire for the electric shock." Of course, the story Mr. Pritchett is talking about is the story I'm looking for. Sometimes the wit isn't quite sharp enough; and the paradox and beauty of shape isn't shapely enough; and the dramatic pattern and significance isn't given adequate concreteness; and the electric shock is short-circuited. In brief, I sometimes have to settle for less than Mr. Pritchett's ideal. Nevertheless, the restless search continues. Thank you.
A YOUNG BOY BY THE GREEN SEA by John Tagliabue
IWAS BOBN by the sea, born on the sea maybe, there I found myself, by the sands a young boy playing, listening, watching, I collected sea shells, the green ripples of the sea rushed to me always telling my soul some story which in my love or joy my soul always repeats, rocked on the sea by the moon. But in the day I squatted on the sand and watched and listened and the wind was a joy. It was a companion for me. And we rushed over rocks together. I saw from the beginning of time fishermen putting out their nets, fishing boats at night travelling with lights like moving stars.
The sea itself in my dreams was a friend. I ran with my dog. I watched them clean the fish, bait the hooks, repair the sea-worn brown-red nets, the tangle of divinity, I watched them slowly walk as in a dream by mountain and sea, supervised by sun and moon and all the turning romantic tunes of my childhood dreams and pleasures. I walked into the clear cold, sometimes even warm, water, my bare feet feeling the pebbles. I touched them. Messages were sent all over. My body swam. I loved it, my body, the sun, the water, the splashing, the coolness. Sometimes I saw groups of small fish swimming by me, dispersed by my larger presence like a planet. I liked to look at the night, both in summer and winter, it had a story for me, the stars I knew were divine. I loved them. I also enjoyed drying in the sun. The wet water rolling from me, I was cool and dreamy. I loved myself. I also loved what I saw. The people were good. Though I cried often expecting things I think I did not get, expecting what was yet to come, what is yet to come. I found sea shells, all kinds like many poems. I loved them too though I knew people would think I was silly. I realized that they were a mystery and that their having achieved a beauty, a completion, after being under the sea and time was what made them divine secrets, indications of the gods. I played in the sun. I was happy. Often I cried, but it was because I expected what it was not yet time for me to have and still do though things have happened. More is to come as this sea is infinite. I looked over its blue and green. I watched, many days sometimes in slowness sometimes in absolute stupor sometimes in happy stillness I watched and saw the fishermen and boats coming to and fro, the fish caught, unloaded, thousands of them at a time, sold. I saw that I could be a man, that I could do that; also I saw it must have been at the same time Christ blessing the sea and all fishermen.
THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER by John Tagliabue
SAT BY his coffin which was like a boat, I mean his bed for he was not dead yet. The doctor said he would die soon and left the room. We knew this too by the far away look in his eye and also the last breath of his flesh as it were, the last hopeless clutch of anguish. He held on to the line tying him to the shore. But we knew and he felt in a way that is more shocking than knowledge the boat was breaking away. We were calm and almost still in the diurnal routine and in the poor dark room. But all around us was a storm like wild animals chasing at our hearts or a wild wind or turmoil, it beat around the room, or like sharks in the sea eating at the body of a child. All this hate swirled silently around us all, the devils trying to take our souls away. He was afraid too for he knew as everyone in the room around his coffin-bed knew the great loneliness and tearfulness of man, the hate that in our fear or weakness we can be possessed with. Over his bed was a crucifix. One of the devils took it into his hands obscenely and played with it swinging it over our heads. We were confused, we were almost lost and our whole life's struggle would have become meaningless and lost; but a greater cross as a voice of my father, as an arm and hope of my father swung over all things, a great large shadow over our heads, it swung, my father looked at us through the great distance and suffering which he had been through, came closer to us and almost smiled, we knew he knew our sins as he had known his own, he knew, and he loved us. O how he loved us! so that all the devils crept away hurriedly or flew out of the window in a blind eternal defeat. We looked at him, held on to the line, I loved him, I gave him a kiss; the line broke and the boat sank suddenly distantly into the night. But I saw his eyes forgiving us for he was one of us and I saw his beautiful eyes blessing us and knowing that though division was difficult re-union and re-birth would be as sure as when one summer night he rowed strongly joyously back to us on shore with many fish in his net and both of us together had many stars in our mind and in our love. We greeted him so easily. 19
A FISHERMAN ON CHRISTMAS EVE by John Tagliabue T H E SEA IS dark and cold. I don't see a star. I don't see a cloud. Just cold dark water, tons of water, beyond me, I am floating on a wooden stick in this night. The cold breezes blow. The fish must be far below, far away. Yet I do not wish I were home in bed. This cold night means something to me like a prayer, like a cold monk's cell where there is nothing there. And waiting and rowing. I love my lovely wife. After this long cold necessary night is over I will go to her and as in a dream I will enter her dark bedroom and we will lie warmly under the bed sheets and know that stars circle our world. Our two heads will be together and our bodies will be very warm and happy next to each other. That is there on the shore like those small houses, children of our dream. They wait and palpitate. They look out and fear and wonder and pray and are warm. They wait. They gather darkness for our happiness. She waits in bed for me. Her eyes are out and hunt around the room like stars. She startles. She almost sits up knowing that outside those walls I am thinking of the beauty and the love and pleasure she can sweetly warmly give me. Her waiting blesses my sailing. I sail out. Darkness I am not afraid of you. You are like a cold coat that makes me know inside of me is God, inside the sea are flashing fish, inside my lovely house is my wife. Here, I'll let down this lamp, this basket, this word, this temptation of a lobster net and the red lobster will be caught. I'll present one to the Virgin. For even when there are no stars or moon my mother like the unseen moon blesses me and tells these seas what songs to sing and somehow tells the fish where they should go. And my father too like an image in a church that frightened me yet made me admire as a boy, a saint that gathers night and stars into himself, is here right here very near enormous as a figure in this atmosphere of coldness night and sea. He follows me and we have loved. He blesses me. I bless the fish I catch. The lobster like a mind searching eternity or a lover his love crawls into the trap of time. The child is in the womb. The Christ is in the world. Now I see the star. Now I see the lovely star. O gentle ship, O lovely blessed ship, now we will go home and wish my wife Merry Christmas. 20
TEARS AFTER DEATH By Judith Bishop
Dedicated to John Ciardi â€” In memory of Dylan Thomas Tears after death must mold like wax for greater stature than their course demands; thicker and thickening down the candle of the face, meeting some juncture in the long descent the flame too far, only the sculpture of sorrow is left. Casual castles of sand were dripped from hands of a child forgetting the tide hovering its zenith to cancel the confines of inarticulate visions. The child wept when the sea swept in again, but he dripped more sand till the sunset came. The hour is closing my cavern to sleep. Straining for the sun from behind the night, the blights of stars press red and deep. Encircling the blood blooming, dooming candle, the limeboned castles rise above the flame as the heat of death recedes.
WE CANNOT UNSLEEP THE BLOSSOMS By Chris Bjerknes
We cannot unsleep the blossom in its bud to take thought to flower, shake the drowsy night and sweat the day, nor press the eye to philosophy, we cannot swallow wing the intellect to unsleeve the time keep the body's trinkets and work the triumph of our habitus, if we dream the cracked boned winds will rattle the seven tears of truth and shriek on the weevil's tooth, nor can we unmake ourselves, cotton so, we cannot unsleep the burdens of our eyes untangle the delicate chains of days, whereon the grape of sun brought green again, nor stock the time that is slickly gone, nor proclaim the good foul, nor can traffic of mortality be rewound to try again, we cannot unravel the sensitive tear nor the sound that tracks on the sodden cage of days nor reel back the word, nor the unpausing clocks, we cannot unsleep the teeth of sand nor shadows wrinkled nor boughs gloved as crows, nor bid the Michael angel gather to heel at dawn, nor beg the departing windsack take host for food, nor disavow the dread of hell.
We cannot unsleep the blossom in its wrinkle nor make miracle to lovely things, those spun in the circle hair of love of moon that pitches light bundled upon the wharf and fauna of bone of the mouldy carapace of cicada spit bubbled on the wind, we cannot unsleep our wailing, transfer the season nor with a resinous eye and sinewed heart retire in the gristled hay of light where dark fell on the clowns of Nineveh, we cannot teach the barking hounds the dog stars inarticulate pace, nor bring tissue to the wind's intolerance, nor light to dark where the loamy mouth of love of Eve and Adam who walked dark webs of hate, we cannot unsleep the weathered day, sponge back the bloods dignity in the dry heart, the fluid hours float by but cannot be drawn again, you cannot unsleep the time dig and plow yesterdays earth, sow the past, nor bring wine to seed, we cannot unsleep the wrinkled petal, nor bring down to the feathered swan, nor make miracle to unlovely things, though the red-bird of the blood crows cold, we cannot unsleep the time, nor wont.
BELOVED DAUGHTER i By Ruth Newman | 1 i 1 L PAULA KRAUSKOPF, died this morning. Just before dawn it must have been. Because I asked nurse to raise the blinds on the oversize windows so that I might watch, for the last time, the long orange-tipped fingers that put out the stars. It was as simple as that. Those who along with their first swallow of coffee from force of habit turn to the obituaries no doubt read: that the end came suddenly (only a week!); that I was a beloved daughter (a stock phrase all too carelessly thrown about); that my mother's name is Elizabeth (nee Semmel) and my father's Augustus J. H. Krauskopf. The J. is for Joseph. (For reason known only to him, he once added the H. and it stuck.) With day almost over, not more than half a dozen friends have called, although my parents might be considered almost natives, having moved in on returning from a honeymoon at Old Point Comfort. (My father claims he can still eat two dozen oysters!) If I sound disappointed, really I'm not, because my few friends in Hadley are gone anyway. Besides, no weakling my father; long ago he let it be known that sympathy is cheap and no one need waste it on him. My mother though, less independent, is always able to scare up a smile along with a limp handshake, when she isn't twirling her diamond ring — a marquis (one of many such gifts from my father). Under practically any circumstances she enjoys callers, though when my father is about she wouldn't think of speaking above a whisper. The minute nurse closed my eyes and folded my hands, it's funny how all problems disappeared. I could hear the doctor speaking to my father who had planted himself in the doorway: "Now I think, Augustus—" Imagine my father taking orders and from a man half his age— "that the best thing would be to have her removed—" "No funeral parlor for a child of mine—" Mind you, it was just three days short of my fortieth birthday! To hear him shout 24
seemed more natural. Except that I wasn't frightened any more, not a bit. Probably never before had anyone pushed him around either — and gotten away with it. But nurse finally succeeded in getting him outside in the hall and closing the door. (You have no idea how many private little matters have to be accomplished.) While she was scurrying about, brushing my hair, wiping my face with a coolish washcloth, she kept up a steady stream of conversation. Any other time I would have paid attention, but I was too busy thinking how maybe if I hadn't come back— Nobody can say I didn't try though. Ten years . . . fifteen hundred miles. Even with the light on all night . . . the shouting, the shuffling (my mother's hammered-toe troubles her and years ago she took to carpet slippers). And everywhere so many people. Yet not one— I almost forgot. There was one— The kissing and hugging, I never wanted it to stop. He liked me too. But not that way. I didn't understand . . . A girl-friend. Anybody. All to myself. (Miss Krauskopf ill? We'll have to notify her family.) Maybe later I'd be lucky . . . Only there wasn't going to be any— So I decided to let myself go. For perhaps the first time— (I was going to say 'in my life' until I remembered—). Anyway, this was once when no matter what my father said or did or how noisy he got he couldn't have much effect on the situation. Frankly, I was rather enjoying the phenomenon. Though obviously the doctor, who sat up last night with me wasn't: "I can't understand," he kept saying, "with everything to live for she's not putting up any fight." Dr. Bill would have. But he's retired and lives in Hawaii. Don't get me wrong though, this one's nice— Handsome too, like pictures of my father when he was young. And if he'd asked and I'd had the strength to explain I would have, gladly. But it's a long story and I was late already— Even if there are two sides to everything, what's the use? My father's always right— At least if I'm beyond truth I'm beyond lies too. Beyond bickering. Pain. Harm. Almost beyond knowing. Nurse's hand— comforting. Her soft voice calling me dear and darling— I liked that. I hoped it would last. I hoped it would last forever. II If she had asked God, but of course she hadn't because it would have been a sin and Elizabeth considered herself a good 25
woman, as evidenced by the oft-repeated suggestion that 'God might strike her dead', everything was turning out the way Augustus would have wished. Her own feelings were not quite formulated. But having acceded to a husband's for so many years there seemed no reason at this point for independent thinking. Besides, the firey ring that was off an arthritic finger more than it was on, together with the contents of an assortment of Tiffany boxes, tucked away in a bureau, would now be hers forever. "Anyway, they never would have looked nice on Paula—" Talking to yourself was better than not talking at all. Especially when in between words you could dip into a box of ginger, hidden under the chair cushion. How she loved a sweet! Back and forth she rocked, so that only every other time her small slippered feet touched the floor. "It's almost like it used to be, Augustus, isn't it?" Elizabeth didn't really expect an answer. Because inside the heavy mulberry drapes that except for a few minutes each morning shut out the sunlight, her husband slept, legs crossed, carefully combed gray head resting on his chest. "I'm talking to youl Augustus! "Yes, yes, I hear—" "You know very well you don't—" Elizabeth scolded. "On this of all days—" "I guess it's the excitement, people— I'm not used—" "Nothing of the kind. For a lonely woman to have to sit by herself—" What did she want of him? "With a daughter lying . . . lying dead—" There, she said it. "Everything's got to end—" Elizabeth probably wouldn't understand, but Augustus still had himself to convince. "Only sometimes instead of life making a complete circle, like us—" Into the mirrored surface of high black shoes Augustus stared. "It's like a pendulum—" Elizabeth surprised him, "that has made a full swing, and now we're back, just you and I— Fifty, mercy it's fifty-five—" Woman's talk. Augustus closed his ears. "I had my first miscarriage . . . when I was thirty-eight, my second just short of forty. At forty-one . . . at forty-one I didn't know what ailed me. A tumor—" She giggled and with the tip of a sharp tongue moistened her lips.
26 • ,
If he didn't put a stop to this, Elizabeth never would— "I don't want anybody else going upstairs—" Augustus sat forward and pointed his cane. "Do you understand—? Nobody." His tired voice wore down to a hoarse whisper. "Thieves — according to my way of thinking everybody's—" To slip into the past was easier than not to. To that day when between tears she told him that after ten years it had happened: he was going to be a father. "I'll get rid of it," like a fish-wife she screamed. "I'll slip— I'll fall downstairs— I'll do something—" With both hands he picked her frail body off the floor, set her down, and for the first and only time in their married life she knew what it was to be shaken. "We're going to have that baby. Maybe she is a little late, but we'll have her—" "For a woman my age it's dangerous— "Imagine me washing diapers . . . I'm not going to, Augustus, I tell you, and that's that. And my figure. What about my figure?" For neither the first nor the last time he turned from her. "With only one servant— I suppose now I'll never have anything for myself." But Augustus knew all the tricks— How to make a woman's eyes sparkle. When the complaints got too bad he'd bring home another little velvet box. Right after Paula was born he said, "What's all the fuss about? Doc says you're built for babies. He never saw a woman—" "He can say anything he pleases—" Even when she was angry Elizabeth was pretty. "You didn't have to have her—" When she cried too. "If I live to be eighty, I'll never forget—" And she didn't. It kept coming back to him too the first time he held Paula: the shock of blonde fuzz that wasn't supposed to stay blonde, the blue unseeing eyes that wouldn't stay blue either, the clean baby smellBetween Augustus and the past came the doorbell. "Let 'em ring!" he bellowed, gripping the arms of his chair. "What will people—" "Always, always what will people think. They make me sick! I don't give a damn—" "But it's theflorist—I can see the truck. You can't send him—" "And why can't I?" 27
"He told me he was coming back—" "Strangers, nothing but strangers— Besides, she's got enough—" "But Paula loved flowers— I had no idea she had so many friends, did you?" The doorbell kept on. "I don't care what you say, I'm letting the poor man in. Word'll get around—" "Suppose it does. If nobody ever sets foot in this house again it will suit me. All people give these days anyway is a lot of sass. When I was young we had respect for our elders— Today, what does experience count for? Nothing, absolutely nothing—" Augustus had to shout over Elizabeth's crying. "Day before yesterday, when she was so sick, I thought I heard something outside. Turned out to be a couple of smart aleck kids, short-cutting. If it was you I suppose you'd have said: 'Now little fellows—' But my way's different. First I opened the window wide. Then I took my cane, because I didn't have anything else-" "How could you, Augustus? How could you?" "Didn't hit them. But I got the dog. I heard him wince—" Elizabeth kept trying to see out onto the darkened porch that ran the full length of the house. "Somebody else—" she said. "Somebody is standing inside the vestibule—" "Get away from that window!" "There it is again—" Elizabeth's hands folded and unfolded. "Sit down, do you hear? For God's sake—" Fluttering, like a frightened bird, Elizabeth hurried to her chair, lips moving. Even when she didn't make a sound he could still hear her. "Can't you ever stop? Talk, talk, talk. As if I didn't have enough on my mind—" He ranted on until without glasses he could see only a blur on the other side of the room and he was pretty sure that for a time he would be rid of Elizabeth and could return to his dreaming. For how long he wasn't sure either. Because he kept forgetting. Out of a vest pocket he took a thin gold watch, about the only thing left that could be relied upon. And then only because for twenty-five years he'd been conscientious about winding it — every day, at exactly five thirty. Just the way for as far back as Augustus could remember he m 28
had gotten up at seven, eaten on the dot of eight. A man who cares anything about this appearance ought to take at least this long, especially if he uses a straight razor— "Can I watch? Can I watch, daddy?" Paula slid off the toilet seat and accepted a tooth brush that was carefully spread with powder. So that as he began, with the flourish of an artist, even as he followed the contour of his face, carrying off in long, smooth strokes the creamy whiteness, soft brown eyes, fascinated, never left his steady hand. "Better go over them again," he said, hardly opening his mouth. The seat of her pajamas still unbuttoned she was back where she could see better. Only half through, Augustus set his razor down and, hands on hips, suspenders hanging to his knees, he eyed Paula. Usually one glance was enough. Except when an impish smile cut creases into her apple-like cheeks, scooped dimples on either side of laughing lips. Augustus could have gathered her up, all forty-five pounds, but he didn't dare, because he wasn't any more sure about handling so much perfection than he was about talking to it. "What did your daddy say—?" To see even a small child respond gave Augustus a lingering sense of power. A button nose sniffed the cologne. If he happened to be feeling good, like now, Augustus would spray her neck. But never when she asked. A direct request— Augustus taught this lesson early— would automatically be greeted with a no. While her clothes toasted on the radiator, Augustus stood by as she slipped out of the yellow flannel gown that suited her dark curls so well. How careful the child was— "What in the devil are you trying to do, Paula?" "Get dressed underneath, like Mommy—" "Ridiculous—" he spouted, remembering the child body, part of him. The soft roundness— If he had anything to say she wasn't going to start yet depriving him of that pleasure. He liked the way he could make color come to her face. "Stand straight!" A strong hand came to rest on fine bone structure. Feeling withdrawal it pressed all the harder. "Remember," Augustus felt powerful, "nothing is quite so important to a young lady—" The unsmiling nod, the eyes that grew wide with command made his heart swell. "Did I hear you say something?" "Yes, daddy." 29
Breakfast. For Augustus the only meal he really enjoyed. Shared alone, almost in secret. That Elizabeth long ago had chosen to have hers in bed once troubled Augustus. Until Paula— "Good morning—" Augustus always managed to get downstairs first. "I can't understand you—" "Good morning, daddy." "That's better." There followed a kiss on a cheek that for smoothness matched a woman's. He liked the moist lips too that might have lingered. How a child could make a man feel so— so like a man. Pouring thick cream on cereal or seeing that his coffee cup was filled to the brim kept him busy. But not too busy. Ears were made for hearing. "Pick up your feet!" Even on a carpet he could tell. And those knock-knees — he must ask Dr. BillEven after Paula began to resist the routine, he kept prodding. "Take your elbows off the table!" As far as he was concerned, ladies hadn't gone out of style. For a more graceful one though he had hoped. Built more like her mother. Instead of gawky, flat-chested. Of course it was pretty early— He hoped to God though she wouldn't inherit her mother's bedroom habits— "Daddy—" Sometimes he had to look away from eyes that were pools of wonder. "The most funniest thing happened—" "How many times do I have to tell you not to talk with a mouthful— Did you get one hundred in arithmetic yesterday, that's what interests me." "No—" Sad looks didn't get anywhere with him. "Bring the food to your face, not your face—" "Miss Smith—" Now besides interrupting she was giggling, "called on Florence James to recite a poem—" "If you were in my class—" "When she went to get up someone had tied her braids—" Paula's nose started to run. "Where's your handkerchief?" "Upstairs—" "Disgusting. Go get it—" Paula came back and blew very loud. "You may be excused. I wouldn't sit with anyone—" If it took his last ounce of strength— That they were sitting in darkness, Augustus hadn't noticed. 30
Perhaps he dreamed: these days the transition from sleep to wakefulness came often and easily. Elizabeth's breathing told him that she too slept. Getting to his feet was a major operation and he leaned heavily. Fingers that grew less and less useful managed a light switch: high, medium, low. So that Elizabeth could rest, he told himself. If only he could be sure of getting down again he might venture up the stairway, to sit once more beside her. But his step, like the rest of him, faltered. Even the mahagony railing could no longer be trusted. Instead he looked up: the lighted hallway, the closed door on a room where Elizabeth had at last conceived. This time by trickery. Because the other times— how many he would never know, she had aborted. He had proof. In the same room, on one of the twin beds, on his, Paula lay. At the undertaker's insistence he agreed to have the door locked, but only after extracting a promise: that Paula would be smiling. When she was small it was easy— But around twelve or thirteen she started sulking. Augustus couldn't say which made him madder — the pouting or the pigeon-toes. Nothing he said turned up the corners of her mouth any more. What did Dr. Bill, a bachelor, know about bringing up children? "Leave her alone—" he said that about everything, "she'll outgrow it." Not Augustus. Though he prided himself on never inflicting corporeal punishment, it was possible to point a finger so close— "Remember this, young lady, your father has only your best interests at heart!" A mumbled reply brought, "Speak up— You haven't got a hot potato in your mouth? Or have you?" But no amount of threatening helped. At her faults day after day he pounded. "Eyes up . . . Head back . . . Chest out. . . Children should be seen but not heard." Nobody could ever say that he neglected his duty. After a while it got so that unless he stormed Paula even avoided his eyes. Tears . . . any and all times, tears, tears, tears. "Miserable, unhappy creature—" What else was there to say? Elizabeth supported him, but in that soft-spoken way that makes a man sick to his stomach. Sometimes Augustus couldn't help telling her so either. That seemed to be a signal for more outbursts. 31
Bv this time Paula had her hands over her ears, shutting Elizabeth out: "God will punish you, wait and see. He will punish you for disobeying—" If only she could be reasonable. What a good and happy life they might have had. Maybe even a son-in-law, though Augustus took a dim view of most young men. Imposters, who married for only one thing — money. To have grandchildren though, one at least that looked as Paula once did— Naturally at times he got discouraged, anybody would. But not for long. To this state of mind and moderation, he credited their long life —his and Elizabeth's. Which reminded him of the red flannel drawstring bag that hung in her closet, filled with tagged duplicate keys to every room, every closet, every trunk. Nobody was going to tell him what he could or could not do. Later, after he'd settled Elizabeth he would sneak in— Beside his little girl. In the same gray and black wool robe— When you bought something good it lasted. The way he used to— Bend down so she could— Only this time he would have to do the kissing. He wouldn't mind. Sometimes Elizabeth talked sense— Now Paula was his— forever. She couldn't go and nobody could take her. Nor could she pout. From his jacket Augustus took a snowwhite handkerchief. Without unfolding it he dabbed eyes that watered when he smiled. How many times he had dragged himself up and down the living room Augustus wasn't sure, but he was tired. So that it wouldn't squeak he let himself gently into the big leather chairHow he did enjoy the long Sunday walks— sometimes alone, sometimes with Paula. "Colder the better—" Augustus talked outloud but Elizabeth didn't stir. "Weather never hurts anybody, if you dress properly." Especially on snowy days Augustus sensed Paula's enjoyment. With her in the sled, bundled up, or better yet beside him, struggling to keep up— "Steady does it. Never slow down . . ." Any child of his had a good heart. Even a fool knows there's nothing so stimulating— Sometimes if they were head-on into a stinging wind, Paula would look up at him, prepared to say something. Then more than any other time he could see the resemblance that people talked about. "Keep your mouth shut! Don't talk! Breathe 32
through your nose!" Augustus liked those days, when he only had to speak once. That they were gone . . . that he no longer was six feet, both were true. But glancing at Elizabeth— Surely, surely he couldn't be so . . . so wrinkled. Men didn't— Augustus wondered how it might have been if she had been a different kind of woman. So that tonight they might not be all alone— But Augustus didn't regret. Never had. If he couldn't recall what cook served at supper tonight, he knew how to turn back the years— to Paula's childhood, to his own— His father, 'Papa', the three children addressed him, when they dared. None would approach though without a "Sir?" If bad, all mama had to say was "I'll tell—" Even after all these years there was still a mark, where a wide leather belt— For coming home late. Augustus could hear now the gruff voice which never lost its old world accent: "As long as you live in the home—" Augustus hated— Especially when he began to realize that he was not the favorite. "See how Carl tries to please— Carl is a good boy, he studies hard, brings home presents to his mama. "Carl, Carl, Carl. Before long he began to hate Carl too, secretly, because though the younger, Carl was getting rich. As a matter of fact, both had become responsible citizens. Except Selma, the youngest, with the sad velvety eyes. She never learned how to take papa's joking. "Smile girl!" Papa made a loud noise that was supposed to be a laugh. "First thing you know someone will say you're unhappy, that I am abusing you." One night, when Augustus wasn't home, they came and got her. "Raving, stark mad . . ." was how Carl put it. At twenty she died. Mama, with so much sweetness in her face was saying: "But she didn't even try—" Lessons. Papa taught so that they stayed in the mind forever: honesty . . . integrity . . . eternal vigilance. "Trust nobody, except your mother, your brother, your father—" Experience bore out his words: everyone did try to take advantage, wanted more than their share. Servants, elevator operators, conductors— Scum. Stupid creatures— Give 'em a finger and they take the whole hand! "Never borrow—" Papa preached too, "and you will never have to loan—" Augustus tried hard to pass this on to Paula. But one 33
look at her checkbook- In fact, teaching Paula anything was hopeless- "Your father has lived longer . . . but I suppose you are too wise! How many times was it you had to take algebra?" Augustus waited for an answer. Because nobody ignored him, not for long. A hand came down hard on the table: "Do you hear or do you—?" Still only the heavy breathing that was Elizabeth. That in her teens the boys didn't bother with Paula was just one less thing to worry about. "But I'm the only girl in the class who isn't going—" Cry, that's the best thing she could do. "No wonder . . . I don't blame them—" "But I want to die . . . Maybe if you would let me wear pointed shoes, get my hair fixed—" "Pretty is as pretty does—" For once Elizabeth was right. "Then I'm not going . . . I'm not going to school. I'll run away, I'll—" All she did was stay in her room. Augustus didn't care. Time enough when he had to share her. Meanwhile, anything to stop the every night crying: a first bottle of Chanel . . . lounging pajamas— he could even remember their turquoise color. Paula thought his taste good. A blush pink negligee, trimmed with real Alencon. Paid for in cash, so Elizabeth wouldn't— Then, for a few hours anyway the heavy feeling Paula made him carry around in his heart would disappearLater, when once in a while a boy did come around, Augustus knew how to handle that: a snappy good evening, a hard handshake : "Be sure she's home by twelve—" So that word got around that you weren't an easy mark. After that stay out of the way. Let Elizabeth make pretty speeches. Then when Paula came in late, all Augustus had to do was holler: "Young lady . . ." Quicker than it took to say Jack Robinson, the front door would slam. Usually it was the last of that one. No romancing outside his house— Not with his daughter. From experience Augustus knew how easily a girl could be reduced to pulp. Off and on he would have Elizabeth flash the porch light. If that didn't work he had her call. Himself he saved for last. Nobody could ever say Paula didn't have every advantage either: private school, tutors too. Tennis lessons, golf, pianoCamp for eight weeks— Elizabeth's idea. Augustus agreed only when she promised to write every day. Letters. That's where a conscientious parent can't be too care34
ful. Going off to the city early each morning, a father is apt to lose touch. "Young girls don't have sense enough—" he told Elizabeth. That's how she happened to come across a letter in unfamiliar handwriting. Augustus opened it. If ever he met this young scoundrel— " . . . it was because I knew I loved you. Right away . . . If you are insulted I'm sorry . . . On my word of honor I promise . . . only allow me— Some day I'm going to ask your parents—" A father must not take his responsibilities lightly. Augustus confronted her: "What is the meaning? . . . A proposal at seventeen. And from a stranger. Who is he? What do we know—?" Again she ran from him. But he followed, pounding on her door until she let him in: "Never feel you have to marry . . . you will always be well provided for—" Paula promised— he wouldn't leave her alone until she did, never again to communicate with this— Right before her, with Elizabeth's approval, he ripped the letter to bits. Subdued, yes. But such impudence. Such lack of respect. Such — Interrupting, forever interrupting. "Shut up, do you hear me, shut up!" Instead of apologies he would get the same thingtears. So that they couldn't get through a meal without them. Enough to spoil a man's appetite— Once, in a rage, she threw her napkin to the floor and started for the stairs— "Pick that up!" Paula glared. "Did you hear your father?" If Elizabeth hadn't started complaining about her heart— "I hate you—" Paula clenched her fists. Shook them. "I hate you, I hate you— I wish—" Nobody, not even his own flesh and blood could get away with that. Augustus remembered what the doctor had said about getting excited — the little blue vein on the side of his head that throbbed. "Your father will have a stroke," Elizabeth cried too, begging Paula to be a good girl. He'd show them who was boss, who was going to keep on being— "Sometimes—" Augustus narrowed his eyes— If she wouldn't look at him he could look at her. He set his teeth together and took a deep breath: "Sometimes," he said, "I wish you'd never been born—" 35
Never again did she speak to him that way. After that she hardly ever spoke. It was the year Paula graduated. He'd given her up for lost. But some crackpot teacher called in the middle of the night to say she got through— "Why your marks are so low you couldn't even get into a third rate college—" "I'm going to work—" She had already begun to tell him what she was going to do. "There's a secretarial school . . . where they guarantee to get you ready in four months—" "But your mother and I want you to go to college—" "I don't want to." "Suppose I won't give you the money?" "Then I'll get a job. Work days and go to school nights. I want to be independent." That's all she talked about. Still she was his daughter all right. Same spirit. Couldn't help admiring guts. Silently though. Because Augustus didn't anymore believe in praise than in saying thank you. So he just scowled and paid the bill. One last trick up his sleeve, Augustus watched in silence. The week before she was to finish he came home with a little velvet box: "Got something for you—" Breaking through gruffness wasn't easy. Paula's eyes grew wide, the way they used to. "A carnelian ring—" Just what she wanted, an antique, the price he paid— "Oh, daddy—" How he loved the word, only she didn't use it enough. Just to feel her cheek pressed against his. He didn't dare risk turning his mouth. Not yet. "How would you like to have a real good job . . . in a bank?" Augustus didn't wait for an answer. "Mr. Pettijohn, at Citizens National has handled my affairs for years—" "The school finds jobs for everyone. Besides, I don't want to—" "Nice clean work, good hours, only the best people—" "But daddy, I don't want to." When she told him triumphantly that she had accepted a job on the fourth floor of a walkup— a real estate office, Augustus said she was crazy. Not only was the neighborhood questionable but the man was taking advantage. Imagine, eleven dollarsPaula stood her ground. Mulling over the idea, Augustus decided that maybe this wouldn't be so bad: the less money the more dependent. On that salary a girl can't leave home. She might be glad to have her father pay for handmade lingerie, coats— Maybe even select 36
them. Might be grateful— There was more than one way of getting what you wanted. After that, when Paula came home tired, complaining, he encouraged her to stay. "Experience, that's what counts. A person's got to prove his worth—" Naturally this wouldn't last forever, this measly job. Paula was his daughter; she would go up and up. Soon though she was making enough to take vacations. No longer could he control her coming and going. But nobody could stop him from showing the displeasure he felt inside. "I've decided to take an apartment—" The words fell like a bombshell. His mouth opened but nothing came out. After two years of softening up— This was the final blow. He had done the best he could . . . Always the best he knew how. Elizabeth, never at a loss for words: "What will people think? What kind of an apartment? How do you know who this roommate is? Suppose something happens—?" Paula didn't answer. Hoping — he waited. Yet knowing she never would. Gone! Paula gone forever! Then something happened Augustus hadn't counted on. He did the unforgiveable: burst into tears. Not since his parents died— Like a child he shook all over and couldn't stop. Until a hand came down on a shoulder. He could feel but not see, because his eyes were tight shut. Not Elizabeth— because in another part of the room he could hear her. Saying over and over that Paula was too young, that she would get into trouble. The hand— Paula's— was awkward, unused too— Augustus wanted to return the gesture. In his mind he did, but before he was able to get an arm up the hand was gone. Elizabeth quieted. His own tears dried. Though his hands still covered his face. On the stairs, footsteps dragged. Even now he wanted to say— "Pick up your feet, for God's sake—" But he didn't. Instead he lifted himself, went to the foot of the stairs and shouted. "God will punish you, Paula Krauskopf, wait and seeHe will punish you for all—" In the quiet emptiness his echo reached him. Two hands gripped his elbows. Bony ones, that years ago had lost all familiarity. "There, there, dad— You must have been dreaming—" He let himself be helped. "Paula's . . . don't you remember, dad, 37
Paula's dead." Augustus hunted his glasses. Without them he couldn't see anything. Not even Elizabeth's thin lips part in a smile.
TO MINOR POETS I may not get to heaven But please, God, send to hell The man with not a thing to say Who says it awful well.
WILD IRISH ROSES I know two young men Whose morals are periled; Gerald Fitzpatrick and Patrick Fitzgerald.
REUNION by Olive Sheil
THE LAST RAYS of
fall sunshine were slipping over the tops of the old brownstone houses, giving them a rosy glow as Chris turned off the avenue. There was a quiet, almost sleepy quality about the streets. Just the type of neighborhood Elsie would choose, he thought. Neat rows of brownstone houses, all identical, faced each other across the road. They looked old, but satisfied with their dignity. Her house should be in this block or the next one over, Chris decided, studying the house numbers. He was beginning to get nervous now as he realized that he was almost there. It's going to be a hellish job to face her after all this time, he thought. Probably a battle from the minute she opens the door and sees me. She'll bombard me with the usual accusations about not caring what happens to her as long as I'm happy, and we'll go all through the business of my selfishness. Okay, I'll face it, he told himself; there's no other way out. But he knew that once the screaming torrent of words was over, his fear would be over too. It's going to seem like old times to have her shouting at me, and I'll feel a lot better. He glanced quickly at the house number as he neared the corner. This was it. He stopped a minute and looked up at the house, then continued on past it toward the corner. I'm being stupid. I've come this far, I might as well get it over with, he decided, as he stood on the corner. He walked resolutely back to the house and up the brownstone steps. A shaft of yellow light streamed into the dim vestibule as Chris stood scanning the bells. Elsie Edmond, Apartment 2A. There it was. He stared trancelike at the names, nervously jingling the change in his pocket. Then he pushed the bell with two forceful jabs. No answer. She's probably out shopping, he decided. This is Saturday afternoon. I guess I'll wait around. He walked out on the front steps to wait for her. I've got to find out what's going on. Something must be wrong with her, or she'd have tried to find me. She'd have to tell me what she thought of me for walking out on her. She always did, 39
even if it meant going out of her way to do it. She must have guessed I'd go back to Boston. Chris stood with his hands in his pockets looking at the sky. It must be nice to be really free. I could be, he thought, if it weren't for this ridiculous conscience. I'll never get away from her, so I might just as well make up my mind to it. He pulled his hat down further against the strong wind that had come up. Maybe I ought to try that bell again, just in case she is home. He walked back into the hall and rang the bell several times. He started at the sudden buzz that meant the downstairs door was open. There was a flight of stairs leading to the second floor, and his feet made a muted patting sound on the carpet. The hall was lit with a single hanging lamp so that he had to squint into the darkness to make out the apartment numbers. The door at the head of the stairs was marked 2A. Here it comes, he thought, and felt himself stiffen against the blow. He straightened his coat in an unconscious gesture of preparation. The door was still closed, so he knocked without looking for the bell. No answer again. He noticed that his hand trembled as he knocked the second time. "Just a minute," Elsie's voice came from somewhere far back in the apartment. He could hear her heels clicking across the bare floor, then silenced as she reached carpet. "Here I come," she called again. She hesitated when she reached the door. "Who is it?" Chris gulped. He hadn't expected that. "Who is it?" she repeated. "It's me, Chris." His voice sounded unnatural. "Who?" "Your husband, Chris." The door opened slowly as Elsie peered out cautiously. Maybe she'll bang it in my face, he thought fleetingly. The door stayed open, and she stared at him in dazed silence. "Hello, Elsie." He tried to sound casual. Elsie roused herself abruptly. "Hello, Chris. How are you?" she said quietly. He found it hard to answer. "I'm fine. May I come in?" "Of course." She stepped back and held the door open wide. He blinked as he stepped into the sudden brightness of the living room. Sunshine splashed over the gaily covered furniture. 40
"Won't you take off your coat and sit down for a while?" Elsie suggested. He lowered his tall frame awkwardly into big chair near the window and glanced out quickly, as though considering a means of escape. He looked at Elsie, comfortably relaxed on the couch. Chris felt as though he were sitting on the edge of the seat. He looked at his wife, expecting any minute the calm would end. She said nothing. He coughed nervously. How do I start, he wondered and coughed again. "Elsie, I don't know exactly what to say." "I suppose not. It's hard, isn't it?" she answered. Her voice was still calm, even pleasant. She sounds as though she were talking to a stranger, he thought in amazement. "It seems like such a long time ago," he said. "It does to me too, Chris. And yet, eight months isn't so long, but a lot can happen though, can't it?" "Oh, I don't know. Nothing much has happened to me." He hesitated and looked out into the sunshine for a minute, then turned back to her. "You act as though a lot had happened to you." "I guess a lot has." He waited for her to explain, but she said no more. "I suppose you wondered where I'd gone and why," he suggested cautiously. "To tell you the truth, Chris, I could guess at both." She looked right at him, and her directness made him flinch. "I figured that you had gone back to Boston to be free of me. I realized that you felt I kept you from your painting, and I resented." I knew she could have found me if she had wanted to, he thought. Her reasonableness confused. Maybe she's been sick. This isn't like her. It can't last. He studied her for a minute as she looked out the window. She was smaller than he remembered her, and slimmer, but not as though she'd been sick. She's been taking better care of herself too, he thought, looking at her shiny brown curls and carefully polished fingernails. Suddenly he realized that she was waiting for him to say something. "Not that you mention it, Elsie, I guess you're right about my leaving. But I couldn't understand your not trying to find me," he said and flushed as he realized what he had said. She smiled. "There wouldn't have been much point in it, would there? I knew you really didn't want me or you wouldn't have 41
gone in the first place." "It wasn't that I didn't want you," he said heatedly, "but it was that constant bickering. I couldn't stand it anymore." She's trying to put the blame on me, as usual, he thought. "I got disgusted and left, that's all." "I knew that, but I hated competing with your painting," she said. "There was no competition. You just couldn't seem to make any room for it," Chris said defensively. "I was completely tied to your household routine. You couldn't relax, and you wouldn't let me, either." He looked at Elsie, expecting that this would finally send her into a rage, but she only nodded in agreement. He couldn't believe it. They hadn't been able to discuss things so calmly in years. "You're right about that, Chris, I admit, but there was another side to it too." Her voice faded off for a minute. "We didn't have any social life. I didn't have art, so I needed a little diversion, but you couldn't understand that." She finished with a little sigh, but there was none of the old bitterness in her voice. They sat in silence. Chris stared at her for a minute, but she was looking at the floor, her face relaxed and thoughtful. He felt the little knot of guilt explode inside him and flood his face and knew she was right. What can I say, he thought dully. Her calm amazed him and left his mind thick and confused. The nightmare scenes of their arguments and days of pointless sulking flashed back, like a reel of film. He'd looked them over so many times since he'd left Elsie, but now they looked different. The light seemed to come from a different angle. It made the scenes look stiff and silly, like an old-fashioned movie. He glanced at her quickly. I'll just tell her, he decided, she'll understand now. She might even laugh at the whole crazy business. He smiled and leaned toward her anxiously, but the phone rang before he could speak. He felt his muscles tense. "Excuse me, Chris." He watched her hurry into the little foyer to answer the phone. She looks so different, he considered, studying the sleek black dress she wore. He noticed that the curls at the back of her neck bobbed energetically when she walked, just as they always did. Still a little girl though, he thought and grinned as he watched her quick little movements. Damn that phone, he thought and 42
wished he could go after her now while he was sure of himself and tell her quickly all the things he knew for the first time. I wonder how she's been making out? Not too bad, I guess. He watched the long shadows creep across the floor. The bright sunlight was gone, but the room still looked warm and homey. There's no getting away from it, she has a nice touch around the house, he decided. He looked around at the familiar things and felt a pang of homesickness. A snatch of Elsie's conversation broke into his consciousness. "I'll be delayed a little, Clara. I have unexpected company." She lowered her voice carefully, but Chris was listening intently now. "It would be better if I met you folks at the restaurant at seven. I don't know how long I'll be." Her voice was cautiously low now, as if she sensed his listening. "All right, Clara, I'll see you then." Her voice came back to normal. "Goodbye dear." She hurried back into the room. "Sorry to run off on you that way," she said, and her casual tone told him he couldn't say what he was thinking. "That was Clara Harper, you remember her, Chris. The one I went to school with. I work with her now, and she checks up on me over the weekend." Elsie smiled. "You working?" She laughed gaily at the question. "Of course I am. I can't live on fresh air you know." She sounds glad, he thought, and felt himself wince. She acts as if it were the most natural situation in the world. "I'm working in a very 'ritzie' gift shop. And you know, Chris I really love it," she said confidentially. "I always wanted to do something like that. It's much more fun than the office work I did before we were married." She smiled and her face looked young and excited, the way it used to. "How long have you been there?" "Oh, almost as long as you've been gone," she said brightly. "I stayed up there in the old house for just about a week and then I called Clara. She was the only one I could tell about what happened." Elsie hesitated a minute. "I couldn't stay in Willow after you were gone, so I closed up the house and came down here." He looked at her quickly. Now, he thought, but her gay smile came back. "Tell me, how is your painting coming along? I bet you've got a stack of landscapes ready for exhibition by now." 4.3
He nodded. "I did quite a few when I first left. I went on a camping trip for about two weeks and painted every day." Elsie looked interested so he talked enthusiastically. "The country was beautiful this summer and the weather was perfect, so I really got busy and turned them out. I'll only be able to exhibit a few of them though," he said and watched her carefully. "This is the first time you've been able to really concentrate on your landscape work in all the time we were married." Her voice was gentle but detached. "It must be such a satisfaction to finally have something to show for the years you've studied." Chris didn't answer. "Wasn't it a satisfaction?" she repeated. "Well yes and no, Elsie." He felt his palms get damp. Now was the time to tell her, but she looked so remote. "Why not? You were able to do the things you always wanted to. You were free for the first time." "No, I wasn't really. I . . . . " Chris hesitated. "Frankly, I spent too much time worrying about you when you didn't try to get in touch with me through the studio in Boston." The words came out in a rush as he hurried to get it over with. Elsie's eyes widened. "Why should you have worried about me?" "You never made any attempt to tell me off, so I thought something must be wrong. Maybe you had a nervous breakdown and were in the hospital," he finished, and he knew the words were all wrong. "You needn't have worried. Of course I was broken up at first; but I realized I'd have to learn to stand on my own feet and grow up . . . . so I did." She smiled at him. He looked up at her. "How do you mean?" He felt a muscle twitch in his shoulder as he waited for her to answer. "Now we both know how to enjoy our freedom," she answered and walked across the room to turn on the lamp. He watched her walking away from him and wanted to rush after her. She flicked the switch, filling the room with golden light, and Chris knew the matter was ended. "Well," he said and stood up. "I guess I'd better run along." His voice sounded hoarse. "I'm awfully glad you came in, Chris. It was good to see you again," she said gently. "I'm glad things have worked out for 44
you, and I certainly wish you all the luck in the world at the exhibit." He stood at the door now, looking down at her. There was nothing to say. She held out her hand and smiled. "Goodbye, give me a ring some time and let me know how things are going." They shook hands and his arm felt numb and lifeless. He searched frantically for the usual words. "Glad to see you looking so well." He tried to smile. "I'll call you and have a talk, for old time's sake. So long," he said and walked down the stairs. He turned as he reached the last step and touched his hat in a final salute as Elsie closed the door.
BOW-LEGGED WOMAN D. Preston Boone
I NEVER HELD NO brief for guys that's always shooting off their mouth about how much they've suffered or what a goddamned joy life has been to them. Like Vandy used to say, 'Something a man has felt deeply, he never has to talk about.' Maybe that was why the kid was always something special to me. And I never felt about the kid the way I felt as we walked with Mating Season into the saddling enclosure at Saratoga, two years ago on the last day of the meet. The kid didn't say nothing about it, but I knew there was a weight in his chest a mess heavier than the sixteen pounds in his saddle bags. Oh, sure, he'd been jocking for eight years, and seven of them on the Big Apple, but no matter how long a guy has lived, or how damned smart he is, being double-crossed does something to him. The kid had pulled horses before all right, and he'd pulled them in big races. Matter of fact, when he pulled Kingfish in the '47 Preakness, Tiny Baker said no other jock in the world could've made that horse run second. But today was different, it was The Suburban, and George was riding a horse he loved more'n he loved me, and I'm his own brother. I don't suppose you'd know why it all meant so much to him, 'cause you don't follow racing. So I'll tell you why. It was nine years agoâ€” the kid was seventeen then, when he first rode The Suburban. It's a two mile race, which is awful big nowadays, and any guy knows horses will tell you that a horse that wins it once is great, and a horse that wins it twice is immortal. It don't carry much dough to speak of: 25 G's, but real-blood racing folk would rather win it than five Derbys. George had his first winner on the Big Apple in that Suburban nine years ago. He was still an apprentice, and he was the first apprentice ever to win it. The horse was First Mate, and she was only the second mare ever to win it. And she was Mating Season's mama. Like I say, Mating Season meant more to the kid than I did. You see, when Vandy gave her to the kid as a two-year-old, she 46
was the scrawniest two-bit dog I ever seen. And she was bowlegged up front. Vandy said he didn't see much point in training her, 'cause she didn't look to him like she'd ever win a race. But the kid went ahead. He broke her and put her in shape. He rode her always when she ran, and he waited and waited and waited. In her two-and three-year old seasons, she ran forty-three times, placed eighth once, ninth twice, and double figures in all the rest. The kid used to say that if there was last place betting, we'd be the richest two guys in the world. He was right, too, 'cause the only times she didn't run last was when another horse broke down or bled. But Georgie stayed with her. When she was four, we decided we might give her a try at some long races, since the furthest she'd gone before was a mile and a sixteenth. It didn't work out right off, but she picked up fourth money in a two miler at Hialeah that spring, so there was a little hope. She never had no speed. But it turned out she could run all day. Two days after that Hialeah race, the kid give her a threemile workout, and she turned out the last quarter in the same time as the first. With any other horse, there would have been a four second difference. It seemed like a hell of a problem why any horse would behave this way, at the time, but it's really pretty simple. She was bred as good as any of them, her dam and her daddy won three quarter of a million dollars between them; so it was the bow legs that kept her from running fast. But after she got past the first mile or so in a race, they were a help because when a horse weakens he always goes in front. Every single quitter I ever seen had forelegs straight as a stick. You see, on a straight leg, the shock of landing packs a hell of a lot more wallop than it does on one that ain't straight. So even though she never had the speed, it would take her about three times as long to get tired. That July, she won her first race. It was at Belmont. Just a cheap thing, but it was a step up. And by the time we hit the Bowie meet in November, she'd taken two more. All this was while the kid was still working for a Vandy, riding under contract. At the end of the Bowie meet, she took the King James Handicap, 2/2 miles, beating four of the best colts that year had. The purse come out to $18,000, so at the end of the year when his contract ran out, the kid left Vandy. It was all real pleasant, though, and Mr. Vanderway gave George a bonus check for ten 47
thousand bucks for the five years' riding he did for him. After that, me and the kid took a six week vacation in Miami. We stabled Mating Season at Hialeah, but didn't run her at all, and except for going out every day to say hello to her, we didn't have a thing to do with the races. It relaxed me fine, because I'd been four years head groom for Vandy and I was damned fed up with getting up at four a. m. But the kid might as well have have been at the track riding every day. I'd wake up in the morning and he'd be all dressed and have The Morning Telegraph spread out all over the room, reading charts. We'd go out to the beach, and just when I was thinking that the kid was getting unwound he'd turn to me and say "Do you think I should have gone to the rail with Bride's Bisquit in the Oaks last spring?" or "I wonder what the hell made Nicotine Lad fold under me so sudden in The Sysonby." We must have gone over every race the kid rode in his life. And if it wasn't why he lost, it was why he didn't win by two lengths instead of a head. And he'd talk a lot about Mating Season, too. We'd put her back in shape for the Bougainvillea in March at Hialeah. Then in April, she'd run in The Endurance and The Big Train Stakes at Laurel. May it was The Independence at Belmont. She'd go in The Durbar and The Limelight in June, and then we'd rest her five weeks and start her training in August for The Suburban. I used to kid him a little about talking her up so much, 'cause it was the first time in his life he ever said anything except answering a question. I used to say, "And she'll win 'em all, huh kid?" And he'd just bite his lip and nod. "If she don't win, I suppose we'll eat the horse?" I'd say. "She'll get there first if you and me have to carry her." He never thought about us having 30 G's in the bank. He never once said beans about the dough she might win. But she won it. She run second in the Bouganvillea. In the Endurance, I didn't get her saddle tight enough and after the first mile it slipped and Georgie had to pull her up. But the rest of them was like kicking over a row of dominoes. Her speed got better, too. It got so she'd only be ten lengths away from the leaders after the first mile. In the Durbar, at two and a quarter, she ate up the last ten furlongs like they tell me Joe DiMag eats Wheaties. And in The Limelight, she clipped a full second off the Belmont Track record for two and a half. The next day, Joe 48
Cummings of the Times said there was only one horse in the country could run with her past fourteen furlongs and that was Eryximachus. And that they'd probably have to tie rocks to her feet for him to do it. Gee, it was great. It was the best damn seven months of my life. Everywhere we went, the papers was all George and me and the bow-legged horse. And he loved it, too. He loved being snotty to the reporters, and he loved the way she was improving every time he sat on her. They used to come around the barns for a story and the kid would say, "Why don't you ast the horse, she does the running?" Anyway, by the middle of August, the kid had pulled down 40,000 in stake-riding fees. And Mating Season had piled up close to 200 G's in purses. I was glad he still took other mounts when she wasn't running, 'cause if he hadn't he might have got out of shape. We were kings that year, we really were. And it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference if the whole world had caved in, because the kid had done something with that horse that no one else on God's earth could have done. And every time she won, no matter where he was, we'd get a telegram from Mr. Vandy, telling us how pleased he was. I sometimes think Mr. Vandy was more of a family to the kid than I was. He signed the kid up in Maine, nine years ago at an out track name of Sanford Downs. The kid had only been a pro for eight months, but even then Vandy said that some day he'd be the biggest name in Turf. And it wasn't long before he was, too. Three weeks later he took that Suburban for Mr. Vandy on First Mate. Over the years, there was a lot of times when Mr. Vandy could have let the kid go and had no conscience about it: like when George beat the crap out of one of the exercise boys with a whip for working a horse too hard that wasn't ready for it. Or the time, first fall we were working for Vandy, when he got caught pulling a horse at Pimlico and got grounded for a year. All Mr. Vandy did was send him to Kentucky to break yearlings until the suspension was over. He didn't even get sore. All he ever said about it to me was "I hope he'll know better next time. He'll be a year older when he comes back." Sometimes I thought old Vandy was a saint. And Georgie did too. 49
We kind of changed our tune, though, about a week before that Suburban two years ago. Six days, to be exact. It was Sunday, August 24th. Me and George was sitting in the hotel room, looking over the Telegraph. Matter of fact I was reading an article by Don Evans about the kid and how Mating Season should take Eryximachus in The Suburban by three lengths easy. Eryximachus had taken every big event there was in the West that year, but he'd been running against cheaper horses. And usually when western horses come here to race, they get run into the ground by what we got. So I was reading this here article, when the phone went. It was Vandy. He wanted to come up, he was down in the lobby. He showed a minute or two later. I let him in. He looked pretty pale and shakey, but I didn't see nothing wrong with that, since Vandy usually tied on a big one Saturday nights. "Come on in," I says, "The water's fine." "Thanks. Thanks, Sherry." He comes in and sits down. The kid looks up from the Telegraph. "What's on your mind?" George says. "The Suburban," Vandy says and takes a long breath, "Who do you think's going to win it?" "Don't kid me y'old bastard," the kid says, "you know you're looking right at him." Vandy stopped a minute. Then, "That's what I wanted to talk to you about." "Oh," the kid says, still thinking it was a joke, "We gonna have a boat race, huh?" Vandy ran his hand across his check. "With your consent." He says, serious as hell. The kid puts the Telegraph down and just looks at him. "It's worth twice what purse is." "It ain't worth ten times the purse," the kid says. "I'd appreciate it if you did," Vandy says. "What's in it for you?" "Nothing. Nothing at all." "You're god-damned right there's nothing in it for you. It's no go." The kid says and gets up and walks over to the window. "I'd like to say that it's really very little. But I guess I can't, because I know you too well, George. . . . I'd also like to tell you my side of the story. But it's a little long and painful, so 50
I hope you'll take my word for it when I say my reasons are pretty good." The kid kept on looking out the window; "I don't care squat for your reasons." He says, "It's no go." We all sat and waited. Finally I says, "You owe him a lot, kid." "Not that much," the kid says. Then he turns from the window to Vandy and says, "If there's nothing in it for you either way, what the hell do you care?" "You're right. No man could ever owe, what I'm asking you to do. But you see, Tiny Baker once got me out of a pretty tight spot. It was a long time ago when he did it, but I told him at the time if there was ever any kind of favor I could do him, I'd do it. And this is it." The kid didn't say nothing. Then Vandy went on, "Of course you know how big Tiny's wire service is. There isn't a bookie east of the Mississippi that's not tied up with it. Up to this morning, there has been a two and a half million dollar play on Mating Season for Saturday. By race time, it should be ten times that, at a conservative estimate. Track odds will be about four to five, at the lowest. That's twenty million dollars Tiny'11 have to make good. And he doesn't like the idea even a little bit." "Why don't he lay it off at the track?" the kid says. "He can't, with the investigations going on. Even if he just laid off enough to make her 1-20, the pool would be twice the size it should be. Somebody'd smell something right off." "I'll believe it when I hear it from Tiny," George says, "And even if I do hear it from Tiny, it's still no." "Well, your integrity is commendable, but there's a lot he can do to you." "Let him," the kid says. "He could ruin you." "Let him. He won't get his twenty million worth out of me. Or Sherry either." "O. K., then. If that's the way you feel. I hope you can stay with it after he talks to you." He got up and went to the door. I stood up automatically. "So long, Sherry," he says. " 'Bye." 51
"So long kid," he says and walks out. The kid didn't say a word. He just looked out the window. After he left, I checked the door and looked down the hall. He'd gone. I looked back into the room. The kid was on his bed with his head between his arms. I opened the door again and left. He wouldn't want me to see him that way. Wednesday morning we got a phone call. It was Tiny. He said he'd be in a bar in Sharon Springs at eight-thirty that night. We told him it was no go but he said that in the best interest of our health, we should show. So after the seventh race that day, I picked George up outside the track. He didn't say hello. "How's our girl?" I says. "Good," he says, "Very good. Just had a look at her." "Change your mind at all?" "Nope," he says. We didn't say nothing else the whole way down to Sharon. Tiny was big. Must have gone three hundred pounds easy. He had on a tan suit and a hand-painted tie. And a phony Harvard accent. He got right down to business and said he wasn't making any offers, he was telling us. It took about ten minutes. He said if she won, his boys would break every bone in the kid's body, like they done to Rudy Roberts, a guy he said was a "reticent young pugilist." He said it took you about four hours to die that way and that it was pretty painful. He said he didn't feel any need to threaten further or elaborate, since he was sure the kid would cooperate. The kid said he would. I didn't sleep much from then until Saturday. The kid didn't sleep at all. And it showed on him. He wasn't walking real cocky, like he usually did, and his silks kind of hung on him. Gee, I remember how proud we were, too, when we went to the Jockey Club and registered our colors: "Green; white diamonds; brown sleeves, white diamonds; brown and green quartered cap." We didn't look too proud that day though. I looked around the ring and seen the nine other horses. They all looked good. Coats all shiny, tails all combed out, manes braided. Good horses, all of them. We were the only filly in the bunch. There wasn't one that wasn't a stakes winner: Field Case, Spring Son, Introduction, Double Malt, Remembrance, The 52
Pitcher, Masthead, Hollow Ground, and Eryximachus. Most of them was all early speed, though, except Masthead and Eryximachus. Masthead was the winner, with us second and Eryximachus third. That was the way Tiny wanted it. The crowd let up a yell when we come in, and the Pinkertons made a circle around us to keep them away. The kid didn't look up. They let a guy through with a brown suit and a Turf Club badge. He said he was a friend of Tiny's and that there was a car waiting beside the clubhouse for the kid just in case he should forget. The kid said he wouldn't. "How much room will you have to give Masthead at the eighth pole?" the guy says. "Five lengths," the kid says, "Maybe six." "Give him eight. And don't let her move before then." "O. K." the kid says. "How much can you give Eryximachus?" "Three at the eighth pole. Three easy." "Give him two. I'll fix it up with Hollis. He'll let Masthead have six on the button." "O. K." The guy took off. I checked the bit in her mouth. It was on right. It was one of them old-fashioned straight bits you don't see much now, but the kid liked them because that was what the old man taught him to ride with. I tightened up the girth and checked the saddle bags. Everything O. K. "All set, kid," I says. Then he done a strange thing. He kissed her on the nose, then come around. I give him a leg up and he asks me to get some good dough on Masthead. They blew the call to post and I looked around the ring. Every jock in the place was looking at us. They all knew just what the hell was going on. And they was all sort of smiling too. They'd been waiting seven years to see the kid eat dirt. He really had a bellyful, this time. I grabbed her by the bit and led her out toward the track. I led her slow, because she had a real choppy walk on account of the bow legs. When she was out on the track, I went over to the tote windows and took a dozen fifties on Masthead to win, and a dozen to show. He was twelve to one on the board. We were even money. Eryximachus nine to five. The rest of them was 53
all twelve and better. I picked up my tickets and went over to the finish. The scales clerk let me into the winner's circle. Vandy was there already. And so was Lloyd MacMillan, who owned Eryximachus, and Clifford Frye, who owned Masthead. They looked at me and smiled. The others was all back in the stands. I'd thought I'd be sore at Vandy, but I wasn't. You work for a guy for five years and love him the way I loved Vandy, you can't really get sore at him for doing what he did. Besides, he did it as nice as he could. He didn't pull no threats or any crap about gratitude and what the kid owed him. He just did it real simple, like he had to. And I believed him. Still do, in fact. He walks up to me and says, "Sorry it had to work out this way. But Tiny really wanted it." "Yeah, I know." "How's the kid taking it?" "Not too good," I says. "He shouldn't take it too well. It's a tough thing to do. Hope it's the last one." "The score'll even some day, " I says. "I guess you're pretty sour on me," he says. "I don't know. It's you and George that's getting the worst of it." 'Tes, he is," he says real quick and then looks out over the track. They was just coming to post. They had Field Case in. They had a little trouble with Spring Son; he was fluttery as hell, like all them sprinters. They got him in, then the kid walked the girl into the stall â€” she never was no trouble at all. Then the starters got all the rest of them in. Vandy pulled my sleeve, "See Eryximachus?" he says. "Yeah," I says. "He's sweating like a pig." "Good," I says," I hope he drops dead." Then the bell goes and they was all out like shots. Gosh, and when they come by, I tried to pick out the colors, but they was so close it was like a big rainbow swishing by. They hit the turn and Spring Son and The Pitcher started in killing each other off. The jocks had them wide open and the daylight between them and the pack started to get bigger. Four lengths and it was Field Case and Hollow Ground, running handy-like, as a team. Basil Young had Mast54
head dropped back on the rail another three lengths away. Then they was all strung out along the fence, Double Malt, Eryximachus, reduction, Remembrance, and after him the kid and the girl, with him halfway up in the irons, rating her hard as hell She never had a hold on her before, and she was bringing her head down and tossing it around. She really wanted to run They hit the half mile pole and Spring Son started to die. The Pitcher kept on going, though, and when they hit the turn it was him and Field Case and Hollow Ground on the front end with the rest of them all strung out like before, picking up on Spring Son. They was most of them going real easy, and I shut my eyes a minute to hear. The damn crowd was quiet as hell, and all you could hear was the pack getting closer and closer, like a storm coming up real fast. When I could hear them real close, I opened my eyes and seen Hollow Ground and Field Case, both showing the wear a little, out front with five lengths on The Pitcher, who was just in front of Masthead. Basil started giving Masthead a little light hand-riding and got him up in third on the rail as they hit the clubhouse turn. Vandy handed me his glasses, so's I could pick 'em out better. I got them up and seen Eryximachus moving like a big brown bird outside of Masthead; the kid was sixth, now, only four lengths back of him. He was still fighting with her, and it looked strange as hell, the way she was flipping her head and still moving real good with that awkward, loping gait she had. Them other four dogs was cooked, and the jocks was dying on them, too. Coming off the turn, Georgie took The Pitcher without even letting the girl out. I could see him trying to feel the distance between him and Masthead as they went by the half pole. He got up in the irons again and I could see him strain as she let out her stride. On the far turn, it was a three horse race, just like the plan said. It was Masthead by five, with Young's shoulders going like a pair of little hammers in the hand drive. Eryximachus was climbing and swaying with that big move, he was damn near cooked and Hollis was holding him together good, about twelve feet from the rail. The glasses followed back two lengths and just as Mating Season come into view, I seen the kid lurch back and damn near go off. Then he set himself right on her, hanging on to her mane. Masthead was out there by ten now and as they come off the far turn by the quarter pole, I could 55
see Mating Season along inside of Eryximachus with her head still tossing and the busted reins dangling from her mouth. The crowd was going real ape now, and I could hear them all yelling for the kid and some of them for Hollis, since a lot of dough was on him, too. At the eighth pole it was seven lengths between us and Masthead. Then I seen the kid get up in the irons, 'cause she was gaining so. He was on the rail, and a jump was easyâ€”land on the grass course inside and come out with a busted leg at worst. But he couldn't do it to her. 110 yards out and four lengths back, George got 'way down on her and raised the bat. He brung it down so hard that I could damn near feel it myself when I heard the crack and seen her jump. She et them four lengths like it was air. And when Basil Young seen her come inside of him, he give a couple of licks to Masthead, but he couldn't hold her off and she was pulling away when they went by us at the wire. I didn't even know to yell. I just stood there feeling all kind of warm and fluttery, just like some guy had given me 200 volts in the hind end. It was something. Then I felt Vandy holding my arm and shaking me. He was all grins for a minute, until I seen the guy in the brown suit out of the corner of my eye. He was standing just outside of the little iron fence around the winner's circle, by the exit gate. Vandy looked over that way. "See the guy in the brown suit?" I says. "Oh," he says. He knew who he was. "We'll have to get the kid out of here in a hurry." "Know him?" I says. "A little too well." "How do we get by him?" I says. "Take the kid out between the two of us. That gent wouldn't dare touch me. We could have five Pinkertons with us in nothing flat." "Good," I says, and then I seen the kid leading the girl into the circle. Before you could bat your eye the circle was all reporters and photographers taking pictures and asking questions. I fought my way through them all to the kid and her. And I seen what kind of shape she was in: George had her by the bridle, her mouth was split for a good inch by that straight bit and the blood was running up the kid's sleeve making them white diamonds look like they was being eaten up with brown. Her right 56
foreleg had a dig in it six inches long with the tendon showing through. George knelt down and picked up the hoof and looked at it. He bit his lip and looked up at me. We didn't have to say nothing. We both knew it was her last trip. The kid knelt there until I pulled his sleeve when Jack Walker come over to us with the cup. He give it to the kid and says, "Nice race. Beautiful race." George takes the cup without a word. He looks at it and kind of tosses his head and hands it to me. "Gee, it was swell, kid, you were good out there." "You'd of done it yourself," he says, "Take her back to the barn and get her fixed up." Then he turns away and starts for the exit gate. I reached out to grab him but a couple of big slob reporters got in my way. I yelled to Vandy to get him and he reached out and got his sleeve. The kid drew back his bat like he was going to hit him and said something to him real snotty I couldn't hear. As he got out alongside of the guy in the brown suit, the crowd closed in behind them. And that was the last I saw of him. By the time Vandy and I got through the clubhouse, the car was gone. When they found him in a field down near Albany the next morning, it was just like Tiny said. . . .
QUARTO, with this issue, now concludes its fifth year as the literary organ of the largest division of Columbia University, The School of General Studies. . . . These five years have unquestionably held ups and downs for the magazine, but the able leadership of my predecessors, Mr. Bonter and Mr. Fondacaro, has been responsible for an average increase per issue, in size of thirty-two pages. . . . The same leadership has likewise been responsible for the adornment of our pages by such men as Peter Viereck and Charles Angoff, former Editor of The American Mercury. . . . In nine issues of publication so far, QUARTO stories have been included twice in Best American Short Stories of the Year, the second of these being Vurrell Yentzen's story, The Rock, which appeared here last Spring. Speaking of Mr. Yentzen, I would like to say that his story in this issue, The Gold Earring, is atypical as far as he is concerned, since he is inclined to deal with problems of a more fundamental nature. However, we thought it would do nicely to show you his lighter side, a side which too many so-called modern writers lack. Having read a good deal of his work, it is a surprise to me that his efforts have not been crowned with success earlier. But better late than never: his first published novel, A Feast For The Forgiven, has been published by Appleton, Century this Spring. It is a story of the region in which Mr. Yentzen was born and raised, the Bayou. It is a mature, perceptive and moving work and is endowed with a universality seldom seen in a novel so impregnated with the atmosphere of a specific part of the world Its major shortcoming is the blurb on the inside of the dustjacket, which reads like the third page of the scandal-sheet. However, the blurb does in a way add to the pleasure to be had in the book, for it leaves us entirely unprepared for the quality of writing that lies between the covers. Many men, over the years, have cursed the intrinsic limitations in the Short Story medium. The Short Story has neither the pro-
portions nor the pedigree of the epic, the novel, or the drama. There are also many voices currently which cry that literature has gone to the dogs: the modern writer has lost all sense of the real stuff of tragedy. I must confess that on many occasions the temptation has been very strong to number my voice among them. No doubt, the form which covers the majority of our pages here has extreme limitations. And I also feel that a sense of tragedy has been lost in that modern heroes suffer through a muchly underrated world which will not let them fulfill themselves, rather than through the classic and very sound combination of their own cussedness and circumstances which the world must inevitably present to all of us. As evidence for the proposition that all is not lost, I offer you the best story which has passed across my desk in the two years I've been here: Beloved Daughter. It may be improper for an editor to express himself on the material which he selects for the magazine which employs him. But this is a piece of work in the face of which I lose all self-control. The three characters are drawn almost to perfection, AND, most important of all, the reader is never once given to the feeling that the Krauskopf family is stewing in anybody's juice but their own. The QUARTO board, as well as our friends, all shared in being deeply moved by this piece. We hope you feel the same way. Mind you, this is not an attempt to submerge any of the other material QUARTO has printed in this, or any other, issue. As a matter of fact, Olive Sheil is another highly competent and welcome addition to the growing list of QUARTO contributors. As is Miss Alice Morris, the Literary Editor of Harper's Bazaar. I found Miss Morris's lecture both fresh and illuminating. It should certainly be of use to writers in the "small" magazine field who are trying to squeeze a living out of their art. Over the past few months our staff has had quite a few additions. John Donner took over as a very capable Circulation Manager. He is a matriculated student in General Studies and expects to graduate this coming fall. Glen Foster; a business administration major in General Studies, has taken charge of the promotion and publicity. On the artistic side we also have two newcomers. Judith Bishop threw herself into the poetry breach with amazing effort and judgment. Without her keenness of eye guiding us, the poetry selections for this issue would have been made with much less 59
taste and confidence. Harry P. Combs is in for a brief tenure as iction Editor. It is both a comfort and a pivilege to step down in the face of such energy and intelligence. He will fill the post of Editor come fall. In parting, I would like to say that my two years with QUARTO have been enjoyable ones, and it has been a great comfort finding out that so many people write as well as they do. R. C. IV
JUDITH BISHOP, from southern Connecticut, is a matriculated student at the School of General Studies. She has appeared before in QUARTO and is in Dr. Leonie Adams' workshop for poets. As of this issue, Miss Bishop became our Poetry Editor. CHRIS BJERKNES has appeared in many publications both in the United States and abroad. He has appeared before in QUARTO, last spring, as well as in The Johns Hopkins Review, Golden Goose, Inferno, Intro, Idiom, The London Poetry Quarterly and The Poet. He makes his home in Baltimore. D. PRESTON BOONE has just returned to New York, with the opening of local racing here, after a good Florida season. BowLegged Woman is a short-story outline of the novel Mr. Boone is currently working on. An alumnus of Lawrenceville and Williams, Mr. Boone has been previously published in Comment and QUARTO. RUTH S. NEWMAN is a Noroton housewife who writes in her spare time. Beloved Daughter is Mrs. Newman's first published story. She is a member of Helen Hull's Short Story Workshop, at the School of General Studies. OLIVE SHEIL is the second writer who appears for the first time in print in this issue of QUARTO. Miss Sheil lives in New York and is currently in Helen Hull's Workshop here at Columbia. JOHN TAGLIABUE is the author of two published volumes of poetry as well as individual poems which have appeared in the more distinguished of America's literary media. The three poems of his which appear in this issue are part of a volume he wrote while touring the Mediterranean area last year. The Ischia Prose Poems. VURRELL YENTZEN appears in this issue for the second time as a QUARTO writer. Mr. Yentzen is a Texan by birth and has plied many trades before settling down to writing. His first published novel, A Feast For the Forgiven appeared on the last day of April this year.
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