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MARGO DOWLING 4 страница. They dropped their fists and stood glaring at each other with the little wop nodding and grinning between them




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They dropped their fists and stood glaring at each other
with the little wop nodding and grinning between them.
Charley put out his hand. "All right, put it there, pal,"
he said. The county attorney gave him a mean look and
put his hands in his pockets. "County attorney' s -- t," said
Charley. He was reeling. He had to put his hand against
the wall to steady himself. And he turned and walked out
the door. Outside he found Eileen who'd just come out of
the ladies' room and was patting back her sleek hair in
front of the mirror by the hatchecking stand. He felt
choked with the whiskey and the cigarsmoke and the
throbbing hum of the band and the shuffle of feet. He had
to get outdoors. "Come on, girlie, we're goin' for a ride,
get some air." Before the girl could open her mouth he'd
dragged her out to the parkinglot. "Oh, but I don't think
we ought to leave the others," she kept saying. "They're
too goddam drunk to know. I'll bring you back in five
minutes. A little air does a little girl good, especially a
pretty little girl like you."

 

The gears shrieked because he didn't have the clutch
shoved out. The car stalled; he started the motor again
and immediately went into high. The motor knocked for
a minute but began to gather speed. "See," he said, "not
a bad little bus." As he drove he talked out of the corner
of his mouth to Eileen. "That's the last time I go into
that dump. . . . Those little cracker politicians fresh out
of the turpentine camps can't get fresh with me. I can buy
and sell 'em too easy like buyin' a bag of peanuts. Like that
bastard Farrell. I'll buy and sell him yet. You don't know
who he is but all you need to know is he's a crook, one of
the biggest crooks in the country, an' he thought, the whole
damn lot of 'em thought, they'd put me out like they did

 

-367-

 

poor old Joe Askew. But the man with the knowhow, the
boy who thinks up the gadgets, they can't put him out. I
can outsmart 'em at their own game too. We got somethin'
bigger down here than they ever dreamed of. And the
Administration all fixed up. This is goin' to be big, little
girl, the biggest thing you ever saw and I'm goin' to let
you in on it. We'll be on easystreet from now on. And
when you're on easystreet you'll all forget poor old
Charley Anderson the boy that put you wise."



 

"Oh, it's so cold," moaned Eileen. "Let's go back. I'm
shivering." Charley leaned over and put his arm round her
shoulders. As he turned the car swerved. He wrenched it
back onto the concrete road again. "Oh, please do be care-
ful, Mr. Anderson. . . . You're doing eightyfive now.
. . . Oh, don't scare me, please."

 

Charley laughed. "My, what a sweet little girl. Look,
we're down to forty just bowlin' pleasantly along at forty.
Now we'll turn and go back, it's time little chickens were
in bed. But you must never be scared in a car when I'm
driving. If there's one thing I can do it's drive a car. But
I don't like to drive a car. Now if I had my own ship here.
How would you like to take a nice trip in a plane? I'da
had it down here before this but it was in hock for the
repair bills. Had to put a new motor in. But now I'm on
easystreet. I'll get one of the boys to fly it down to me.
Then we'll have a real time. You an' me an' Margo. Old
Margo's a swell girl, got an awful temper though. That's
one thing I can do, I know how to pick the women."



 

When they turned to run back towards Miami they saw
the long streak of the dawn behind the broad barrens
dotted with dead pines and halfbuilt stucco houses and
closed servicestations and dogstands.

 

"Now the wind's behind us. We'll have you back before
you can say Jack Robinson." They were running along
beside a railroad track. They were catching up on two red
lights. "I wonder if that's the New York train." They

 

-368-

 

were catching up on it, past the lighted observation car,
past the sleepers with no light except through the ground-
glass windows of the dressingrooms at the ends of the
cars. They were creeping up on the baggagecar and mail-
cars and the engine, very huge and tall and black with a
little curling shine from Charley's headlights in the dark.
The train had cut off the red streak of the dawn. "Hell,
they don't make no speed." As they passed the cab the
whistle blew. "Hell, I can beat him to the crossin'." The
lights of the crossing were ahead of them and the long
beam of the engine's headlight, that made the red and
yellow streak of the dawn edging the clouds very pale and
far away. The bar was down at the crossing. Charley
stepped on the gas. They crashed through the bar, shat-
tering their headlights. The car swerved around sideways.
Their eyes were full of the glare of the locomotive head-
light and the shriek of the whistle. "Don't be scared, we're
through," Charley yelled at the girl. The car swerved
around on the tracks and stalled.



 

He was jabbing at the starter with his foot. The crash
wasn't anything. When he came to he knew right away he
was in a hospital. First thing he began wondering if he was
going to have a hangover. He couldn't move. Everything
was dark. From way down in a pit he could see the ceiling.
Then he could see the peak of a nurse's cap and a nurse
leaning over him. All the time he was talking. He couldn't
stop talking.

 

"Well, I thought we were done for. Say, nurse, where
did we crack up? Was it at the airport? I'd feel better if I
could remember. It was this way, nurse . . . I'd taken
that little girl up to let her get the feel of that new
Boeing ship . . . you know the goldarned thing. . . . I
was sore as hell at somebody, must have been my wife,
poor old Gladys, did she give me a dirty deal? But now
after this airport deal I'll be buyin' an' sellin' the whole

 

-369-

 

bunch of them. Say, nurse, what happened? Was it at the
airport?"

 

The nurse's face and her hair were yellow under the
white cap. She had a thin face without lips and thin hands
that went past his eyes to smooth the sheet under his chin.

 

"You must try and rest," she said. "Or else I'll have to
give you another hypodermic."

 

"Say, nurse, are you a Canadian? I bet you're a
Canadian."

 

"No, I'm from Tennessee. . . . Why?"

 

"My mistake. You see always when I've been in a hos-
pital before the nurses have been Canadians. Isn't it kinder
dark in here? I wish I could tell you how it happened.
Have they called the office? I guess maybe I drink too
much. After this I attend strictly to business. I tell you a
man has to keep his eyes open in this game. . . . Say,
can't you get me some water?"

 

"I'm the night nurse. It isn't day yet. You try and get
some sleep."

 

"I guess they've called up the office. I'd like Stauch to
take a look at the ship before anything's touched. Funny,
nurse. I don't feel much pain, but I feel so terrible."

 

"That's just the hypodermics," said the nurse's brisk low
voice. "Now you rest quietly and in the morning you'll
wake up feeling a whole lot better. You can only rinse
out your mouth with this."

 

"Check."

 

He couldn't stop talking. "You see it was this way. I
had some sort of a wrangle with a guy. Are you listenin',
nurse? I guess I've got a kind of a chip on my shoulder
since they've been gangin' up on me so. In the old days I
used to think everybody was a friend of mine, see. Now
I know they're all crooks . . . even Gladys, she turned
out the worst crook of the lot. . . . I guess it's the hang-
over makes me so terribly thirsty."

 

The nurse was standing over him again. "I'm afraid

 

-370-

 

we'll have to give you a little of the sleepy stuff, brother.
. . . Now just relax. Think of somethin' nice. That's a
good boy."

 

He felt her dabbing at his arm with something cold and
wet. He felt the prick of the needle. The hard bed where
he lay awake crumbled gradually under him. He was sink-
ing, without any sweetness of sleep coming on, he was
sinking into dark.

 

This time it was a stout starched woman standing over
him. It was day. The shadows were different. She was
poking some papers under his nose. She had a hard cheer-
ful voice. "Good morning, Mr. Anderson, is there any-
thing I can do for you?"

 

Charley was still down in a deep well. The room, the
stout starched woman, the papers were far away above him
somewhere. All around his eyes was stinging hot.

 

"Say, I don't feel as if I was all there, nurse."

 

"I'm the superintendent. There are a few formalities if
you don't mind . . . if you feel well enough."

 

"Did you ever feel like it had all happened before?
Say, where, I mean what town . . . ? Never mind, don't
tell me, I remember it all now."

 

"I'm the superintendent. If you don't mind, the office
would like a check for your first week in advance and then
there are some other fees."

 

"Don't worry. I've got money. . . . For God's sake get
me a drink."

 

"It's just the regulations."

 

"There must be a checkbook in my coat somewhere. . . .
Or get hold of Cliff . . . Mr. Wegman, my secretary. . . .
He can make out a check for you."

 

"Now don't you bother about anything, Mr. Ander-
son. . . . The office has made out a blank check. I'll fill
in the name of the bank. You sign it. That will be two
hundred and fifty dollars on account."

 

-371-

 

"Bankers' Trust, New York. . . . Gosh, I can just
about sign my name."

 

"The questionnaire we'll get the nurse to fill out later
. . . for our records. . . . Well, goodby, Mr. Anderson,
I hope you have a very pleasant stay with us and wishing
you a quick recovery." The stout starched woman had
gone.

 

"Hay, nurse," called Charley. He suddenly felt scared.
"What is this dump anyway? Where am I? Say, nurse,
nurse." He shouted as loud as he could. The sweat broke
out all over his face and neck and ran into his ears and
eyes. He could move his head and his arms but the pit
of his stomach was gone. He had no feeling in his legs.
His mouth was dry with thirst.

 

A new pretty pink nurse was leaning over him. "What
can I do for you, mister?" She wiped his face and showed
him where the bell was hanging just by his hand. "Nurse,
I'm terribly thirsty," he said in a weak voice.

 

"Now you must just rinse out your mouth. The doctor
doesn't want you to eat or drink anything until he's estab-
lished the drainage."

 

"Where is this doctor? . . . Why isn't he here now? . . .
Why hasn't he been here right along? If he isn't careful
I'll fire him and get another."

 

"Here's Dr. Snyder right now," said the nurse in an
awed whisper.

 

"Well, Anderson, you surely had a narrow squeak. You
probably thought you were in a plane all the time. . . .
Funny, I've never known an airplane pilot yet who could
drive a car. My name's Snyder. Dr. Ridgely Snyder of
New York. Dr. Booth the housephysician here has called
me in as a consultant. It's possible we may have to patch
up your inside a little. You see when they picked you up,
as I understand it, a good deal of the car was lying across
your middle . . . a very lucky break that it didn't finish
you right there. . . . You understand me, don't you?"

 

-372-

 

Dr. Snyder was a big man with flat closeshaven cheeks
and square hands ending in square nails. A song old man
Vogel used to sing ran across Charley's faint mind as he
looked at the doctor standing there big and square and
paunchy in his white clothes: he looked like William Kaiser
the butcher but they don't know each other.

 

"I guess it's the dope but my mind don't work very
good. . . . You do the best you can, doc . . . and don't
spare any expense. I just fixed up a little deal that'll make
their ears ring. . . . Say, doctor, what about that little
girl? Wasn't there a little girl in the car?"

 

"Oh, don't worry about her. She's fine. She was thrown
absolutely clear. A slight concussion, a few contusions, she's
coming along splendidly."

 

"I was scared to ask."

 

"We've got to do a little operating suture of the
intestine, a very interesting problem. Now I don't want
you to have anything on your mind, Mr. Anderson. . . .
It'll just be a stitch here and a stitch there . . . we'll see
what we can do. This was supposed to be my vacation but
of course I'm always glad to step in in an emergency."

 

"Well, thank you, doc, for whatever you can do. . . . I
guess I ought not to drink so much. . . . Say, why won't
they let me drink some water? . . . It's funny, when I
first came to in here I thought I was in another of them
clip joints. Now Doris, she wouldn'ta liked me to talk like
that, you know, bad grammar, conduct unbecoming an
officer and a gentleman. But you know, doc, when you get
so you can buy 'em and sell 'em like an old bag of peanuts,
a bag of stale goobers, you don't care what they think.
You know, doc, it may be a great thing for me bein' laid
up, give me a chance to lay off the liquor, think about
things. . . . Ever thought about things, doc?"

 

"What I'm thinking right now, Mr. Anderson, is that
I'd like you to be absolutely quiet."

 

"All right, you do your stuff, doc . . . you send that

 

-373-

 

pretty nurse in an' lemme talk to her. I want to talk about
old Bill Cermak. . . . He was the only straight guy I ever
knew, him an' Joe Askew. . . . I wonder how he felt
when he died. . . . You see the last time I was, well, call
it constitutionally damaged . . . him and me smashed up
in a plane . . . the new Mosquito . . . there's millions
in it now but the bastards got the stock away from me. . . .
Say, doc, I don't suppose you ever died, did you?"

 

There was nothing but the white ceiling above him,
brighter where the light came from the window. Charley
remembered the bell by his hand. He rang and rang it.
Nobody came. Then he yanked at it until he felt the cord
pull out somewhere. The pretty pink nurse's face bloomed
above him like a closeup in a movie. Her young rarely-
kissed mouth was moving. He could see it making clucking
noises, but a noise like longdistance in his ears kept him
from hearing what she said. It was only when he was talk-
ing he didn't feel scared. "Look here, young woman . . ."
he could hear himself talking. He was enjoying hearing
himself talking. "I'm payin' the bills in this hospital and
I'm goin' to have everythin' just how I want it. . . . I
want you to sit here an' listen while I talk, see. Let's see,
what was I tellin' that bird about? He may be a doctor
but he looks like William Kaiser the butcher to me. You're
too young to know that song."

 

"There's somebody to see you, Mr. Anderson. Would
you like me to freshen your face up a little?"

 

Charley turned his eyes. The screen had been pushed
open. In the grey oblong of the door there was Margo.
She was in yellow. She was looking at him with eyes
round as a bird's.

 

"You're not mad, Margery, are you?"

 

"I'm worse than mad, I'm worried."

 

"Everythin's goin' to be oke, Margo. I got a swell saw-
bones from New York. He'll patch me up. He looks like
William Kaiser the butcher all except the mustaches . . .

 

-374-

 

what do you know about that, I forgot the mustaches. . . .
Don't look at me funny like that. I'm all right, see. I just
feel better if I talk, see. I bet I'm the talkin'est patient
they ever had in this hospital. . . . Margo, you know I
mighta gotten to be a rummy if I'd kept on drinkin' like
that. It's just as well to be caught up short."

 

"Say, Charley, are you well enough to write out a check?
I've got to have some jack. You know you were goin' to
give me a commission on that airport deal. And I've got
to hire a lawyer for you. Eileen's folks are going to sue.
That county attorney's sworn out a warrant. I brought
your New York checkbook."

 

"Jesus, Margo, I've made a certain amount of jack but
I'm not the Bank of England."

 

"But, Charley, you said you'd open an account for me."

 

"Gimme a chance to get out of the hospital."

 

"Charley, you poor unfortunate Mr. A . . . you don't
think it's any fun for me to worry you at a time like this
. . . but I've got to eat like other people . . . an' if I had
some jack I could fix that county attorney up . . . and
keep the stuff out of the papers and everything. You know
the kind of story they'll make out of it . . . but I got to
have money quick."

 

"All right, make out a check for five thousand. . . .
Damn lucky for you I didn't break my arm."

 

The pretty pink nurse had come back. Her voice was
cold and sharp and icy. "I'm afraid it's time," she said.

 

Margo leaned over and kissed him on the forehead.
Charley felt like he was in a glass case. There was the
touch of her lips, the smell of her dress, her hair, the
perfume she used, but he couldn't feel them. Like a scene
in a movie he watched her walk out, the sway of her hips
under the tight dress, the little nervous way she was flutter-
ing the check under her chin to dry the ink on it.

 

"Say, nurse, it's like a run on a bank . . . I guess they
think the old institution's not so sound as it might be. . . .

 

-375-

 

I'm givin' orders now, see, tell 'em down at the desk, no
more visitors, see? You and me an' Dr. Kaiser William
there, that's enough, see."

 

"Anyway now it's time for a little trip across the hall,"
said the pretty pink nurse, in a cheerful voice like it was
a show or a baseballgame they were going to.

 

An orderly came in. The room started moving away
from the cot, a grey corridor was moving along, but the
moving made blind spasms of pain rush up through his
legs. He sank into sour puking blackness again. When it
was light again it was very far away. His tongue was dry
in his mouth he was so thirsty. Reddish mist was over
everything. He was talking but way off somewhere. He
could feel the talk coming out of his throat but he couldn't
hear it. What he heard was the doctor's voice saying peri-
tonitis like it was the finest party in the world, like you'd
say Merry Christmas. There were other voices. His eyes
were open, there were other voices. He must be delirious.
There was Jim sitting there with a puzzled sour gloomy
look on his face like he used to see him when he was a kid
on Sunday afternoons going over his books.

 

"That you, Jim? How did you get here?"

 

"We flew," answered Jim. It was a surprise to Charley
that people could hear him, his voice was so far away.
"Everything's all right, Charley . . . you mustn't exert
yourself in the least way. I'll attend to everything."

 

"Can you hear me, Jim? It's like a bum longdistance
phone connection."

 

"That's all right, Charley. . . . We'll take charge of
everything. You just rest quiet. Say, Charley, just as a
precaution I want to ask you, did you make a will?"

 

"Say, was it peritonitis I heard somebody say? That's
bad, ain't it?"

 

Jim's face was white and long. "It's . . . it's just a little
operation. I thought maybe you'd better give me power of
attorney superseding all others, so that you won't have

 

-376-

 

anything on your mind, see. I have it all made out, and I
have Judge Grey here as a witness and Hedwig'll come
in a minute. . . . Tell me, are you married to this
woman?"

 

"Me married? Never again. . . . Good old Jim, always
wantin' people to sign things. Too bad I didn't break my
arm. Well, what do you think about planes now, Jim? Not
practical yet . . . eh? But practical enough to make more
money than you ever made sellin' tin lizzies. . . . Don't
get sore, Jim. . . . Say, Jim, be sure to get plenty of good
doctors . . . I'm pretty sick, do you know it? . . . It
makes you so hoarse . . . make 'em let me have some
water to drink, Jim. Don't do to save on the doctors. . . .
I want to talk like we used to when, you know, up the Red
River fishin' when there wasn't any. We'll try the fishin'
out here. . . . swell fishin' right outside of Miami here. . . .
I. feel like I was passin' out again. Make that doctor give
me somethin'. That was a shot. Thank you, nurse, made
me feel fine, clears everythin' up. I tell you, Jim, things
are hummin' in the air . . . mail subsidies . . . airports
. . . all these new airlines. . . . we'll be the foundin'
fathers on all that. . . . They thought they had me out
on my ass but I fooled 'em. . . . Jesus, Jim, I wish I
could stop talkin' and go to sleep. But this passin' out's not
like sleep, it's like a . . . somethin' phony."

 

He had to keep on talking but it wasn't any use. He was
too hoarse. His voice was a faint croak, he was so thirsty.
They couldn't hear him. He had to make them hear him.
He was too weak. He was dropping spinning being sucked
down into

 

-377-

 


NEWSREEL LXII

 

STARS PORTEND EVIL FOR COOLIDGE

 

If you can't tell the world
She's a good little girl
Then just say nothing at all

 

the elder Way had been attempting for several years to
get a certain kind of celery spray on the market. The investi-
gation of the charges that he had been beaten revealed that
Way had been warned to cease writing letters, but it also
brought to light the statement that the leading celery growers
were using a spray containing deadly poison

 

As long as she's sorree
She needs sympathee

 

MINERS RETAIL HORRORS OF DEATH PIT

 

inasmuch as banks are having trouble in Florida at this
time, checks are not going through as fast as they should. To
prevent delay please send us express money order instead of
certified check

 

Just like a butterfly that's caught in the rain
Longing for flowers
Dreaming of hours
Back in that sun-kissed lane

 

TOURISTS ROB GAS STATION

 

PROFIT TAKING FAILS TO CHECK STOCK RISE

 

the climate breeds optimism and it is hard for pessimism to
survive the bright sunshine and balmy breezes that blow from
the Gulf and the Atlantic

 

Oh it ain't gonna rain no more

 

HURRICANE SWEEPS SOUTH FLORIDA.

 

-378-

 


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