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ever felt agitated enough to make the trip in the first place. I felt as if I were on a well-deserved
vacation and rest. I could have lived there, eating the hotel food, shaving and showering in my private
bathroom, reading the paper, shopping in the shops, until my money ran out. But nonetheless I had
come on business. That's what's so hard, to leave the hotel, to get out on those drafty, windy, cold,
gray sidewalks and hobble along on your errand. That's where the pain enters. You're back in a
world where no one holds the door for you; you stand on the corner with other people equal to
yourself, all as good as you, waiting for the lights to change, and once again you're an ordinary
suffering individual, prey to any passing ailment. It's a sort of birth trauma all over again, but at least
you can finally scuttle back to the hotel, once your business is done.
And, by using the phone in the hotel room, you can conduct some of your business without
stirring outside at all. You do as much as you can that way; it's instinct to do that. In fact you try to
get people to come and see you there, rather than the other way.
This time my business could not be conducted within the hotel, however; I did not bother to make
the try. I simply put it off as long as I could: I spent the rest of the day in my room and at nightfall I
went downstairs to the bar and then one of the dining rooms, and after that I strolled about the
arcade and into the lobby and then back among the shops once more. I loitered wherever I could
loiter without having to step outdoors into the cold, brisk, Canadian-type night.
All this time I had the .38 in my inside coat pocket.
It was strange, coming on an illegal errand. Perhaps I could have done it all legally, through
Lincoln found a way of getting Pris out of Barrows' hands. But on some deep level I enjoyed this,
coming up here to Seattle with the gun in my suitcase and now in my coat. I liked the feeling of being
alone, knowing no one, about to go out and confront Mr. Sam Barrows with no one to help me. It
was like an epic or an old western TV play. I was the stranger in town, armed, and with a mission.
Meanwhile, I drank at the bar, went back up to my room, lay on the bed, read the newspapers,
looked at TV, ordered hot coffee from the room service at midnight. I was on top of the world. If
only it could last.
Tomorrow morning I'll go look up Barrows, I said to myself. This must end. But not quite yet.
And then--it was about twelve-thirty at night and I was getting ready to go to bed--it occurred to
me, Why don't I phone Barrows right now? Wake him up, like the Gestapo used to? Not tell him
where I am, just say I'm coming, Sam. Put a real scare in him; he'll be able to tell by the nearness of
my voice that I'm somewhere in town.
I had had a couple of drinks; heck, I had had six or seven. I dialed and told the operator, "Get
me Sam K. Barrows. I don't know the number." It was the hotel operator, and she did so.
Presently I heard Sam's phone ringing.
To myself, I practiced what I was going to say. "Give Pris back to R & R ASSOCIATES," I
would tell him. "I hate her, but she belongs with us. She's life itself, as far as we're concerned." The
phone rang on and on; obviously no one was home, or no one was up and going to answer. Finally I
hung up the receiver.
What a hell of a situation for grown men to be in, I said to myself as I roamed aimlessly around
my hotel room. How could something on the order of Pris begin to represent life itself to us, as I was
going to tell Sam Barrows? Are we that warped? Are we warped at all? Isn't that nothing but an
indication of the nature of life, not of ourselves? Yes, it's not our fault life's like that; we didn't invent
it. Or did we?
And so on. I must have spent a couple of hours roaming about, with nothing more on my mind
than such indistinct preoccupations. I was in a terrible state. It was like a virus flu, a kind that attacks
the metabolism of the brain, the next state from death. Or anyhow, so it seemed to me during that
interval. I had lost all contact with healthy normal reality, even that of the hotel; I had forgotten room
service, the arcade of shops, the bars and the dining rooms--I even gave up, for a while, stopping by
the window of the room to look out at the lights and deep, illuminated streets. That's a form of dying,
that losing contact with the city like that.
At one o'clock--while I was still pacing around the room-- the phone rang.
"Hello," I said into it. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]