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Cerpen Cafeteria ~ (A Tale of An Absurd One)

Discussion in 'Fiction' started by renation89, Apr 14, 2011.

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  1. renation89 M V U

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    As if they were ants, people are roaming in the middle of the night. Adult with their children, women with her men are walking together. Along the side of the road, people can wit jewel stores, fruit markets, and various stores scattering in every sides and corners of the road. Behind the road, there are plenty of tall buildings standing among the shining ray of street lamps in the middle of the evening. But the tallest of all is a tower, so huge and lofty, at the top of the tower is a clock: an enormous one and great. It stands like a Cyclops whose eye is only one, unmoved, standing strong in the heart of town. At the same time the buildings stand still, people wander in random pattern, cars, bikes, cabs are engulfed in the middle of crowded. This is the capital of England where every inch of things is fabulous. This is the town of London where people may be forgotten and thrown away.
    In one of the markets in the corner of the side road, there is a market not so wide, not too narrow also. This market is holding a big sale for the celebration of New Year’s Eve. Not so long later, a British enters the market. Around two seconds later, another British enters again. And around two until three seconds later, a British or two British enters again. Again. Again. And so on. In a blink or two blink or three blinks of the eyes, the market is already full of greedy British desiring to have everything on discounts. Among the folks in the market, a teenage young woman is on queue. This woman is so attractive, her light grey hair makes her more elegant than the other women in the market, while her pretty face is not too white, but bright enough; very appropriate with her light grey hair. When she smiles, she looks so pretty like a pure bright angel coming down from heaven in the middle of cold December. Her navy jacket is so thick; it may be thicker than the other men and women wear as if she is fearful of dying of cold. On her neck, there is a headset (the big one) is hanging on. The word “Sennheiser” is written big and gold clearly on the headset. Men who see her will think this girl is so stylish and some of them will fall for her for her .
    A song of Dido is coming out from the teenage woman’s pocket in a sudden. She picks it out of her trousers pocket, and answers the phone. “Judecca, is it you?”, says a womanish voice from her phone.
    The woman starts to feel something not right, a little bit terrible but challenging. “Is there something trouble? Do you want to say that we have another job?”
    “Yes, we have”, says the the soft voice through the phone speaker.
    She speaks in her whisper, “Antenora, please. This is the day before New Year. And today, and these days on December, we’re supposed to be hav….”,
    The speaker named Antenora cuts, “Not today, Jud. It’s urgent or maybe emergency. Don’t know! It’s both”, she continues, “Meet us Asap, in the cafeteria of St. Cassandra Staple Lewis Hospital. Right now!”, utters Antenora in her rush. Then, she calls off the conversation.
    Like a mouse caught in a mousetrap, Jud feels she wants to blare, but she cannot do it. “500 Poundsterling, pretty lady”, the old woman speaks behind the counter. She gives the money to the old clerk and goes out
    The clock in her hand is now on 21.00, December 31st, 2009. She suddenly feels terrible, and gets out of the market while bringing her stuff with her. She takes on a cab and goes to St. Cassandra Staple Lewis Hospital. The cafeteria there is so wide. When she arrives, the clock has been on 22.05. In the cafeteria, or around the cafeteria, people are not visible taking a gulp, or enjoying dinner. Everything is so bleak, except for 2 girls in the middle of the room, and a man with hefty body behind the counter.
    “Jud, c’mon. Sit here”, shouts a woman with black jacket holding a cigarette with her left hand. This woman looks so flirtatious. From her appearance and attire, people are able to guess she is so fond of black. Her hair is so black and slightly wavy. Her face is not, but brown. When she speaks, her voice is so calm and furious, so tender but fierce at the same time like a lion gazing its prey before catching with its claw.
    “What are we going to do tonight?”, says Jud in her impatience.
    “Please. Be patient. Judecca”, says Persephone, another woman sitting on the left of Antenora, a greek-japanese descendant in her twenty. Not too young. Her long dark hair is straight and tied nicely. Her face is bright and very Asian. When people glance at her, they will find her face so childish but clever. When she is standing, she is tall, not like her other friends, Antenora and Judecca. She is the tallest. Around 179 cm. On the back of her arm, there is a tattoo: a triangle in an upside-down triangle.
    “What happens again with this night? Isn’t this supposed to be our holiday? The day we commit at least no sins, or to repent our sins”, says Judecca so furious.
    “Don’t speak so loud!”, utters Persephone in her whisper.
    “There are nobody hear except the fat big elephant standing behind the counter”, answers Judecca. At the same time, the man behind the counter stares at those women as if he doesn’t accept being called elephant. Considering what Judecca just said, Antenora apologizes to the counterman. “While we’re sitting here. Would you mind if I order a plate of hamburger please? With mayonnaise of course”, says Ante blinking her left eye to the counterman.
    “Yes, as you please. Lady. But, you have to wait for an hour. There is something. And, as you know. This becomes a problem in the kitchen behind. So, we’re a little bit hectic of the stuff we’re fixing now”, responds the counterman.
    ‘Be quick. Please”, utters Antenora, the brown-skin woman. Persephone takes the turn to speak, “Ok, pay attention Jud. Some hours ago, we just got a call from him”
    “A call? From him? Who? Do you mean him? But he says he will not give his order on us on holiday. And today is our holiday!”, Jud seems so frustrated
    “For the sake of God, lower the tone of thy voice please, Jud. This is something matter, he said. Urgent. I interpret it”, adds Perse.
    Ante picks a piece of paper out of her pocket, and the paper turns out to be a photo. She shows the photo to Jud, but she rejects to see the photo. And she speaks coldly, “This is the person we must kill tonight. This person must die before New Year.”
    “So why do you bring me along with you? And what we are doing actually here meanwhile we have to kill this person?”, asks Jud.
    “Jud, listen now! He is the one who saves us from our hardships. He is the one who brings all of us together. Without him, we won’t be anyone like today”, answers Antenora calmly.
    “Plus, don’t forget. He is the one who has taught us how to kill our enemies, and his enemies”, adds Persephone. The clock is on 22.30 now.
    “To be a killer is not so nice good job, as what I know”, replies Jud starting to be a little bit furious.
    “But, we’re pro. Professional. Not like other killers, just kill but will be caught later”, replies Persephone again
    She continues her question, “So, who’s that person?”
    She flips the photo on the table, and how surprise she is when she looks at the photo. The photo displays a man with white background. His face is bright and clean, not like other british men. The man in the photo wears round glasses, his hair is already white. He is old now. Around 60 or more. Every time Jud sees the man on the photo, a feeling comes to her, and speaks as if she knows the man in the photo. But, another feeling comes and says to her she unknowns the man in the photo.
    “So, who is this man?”, speaks Jud
    “This is the head of surgeon in this hospital. From the info we got, long time ago this person did a mistake. A very big one to him. And we’re here, we’re waiting for him to be here. And then, he’ll come here at 12 o’clock”, explains Antenora.
    “According to the schedule I had. He’s doing his surgery. Every time he finishes his surgery at midnight, he will be here. And now is almost midnight, and I predict. And my prediction is always accurate. He is going to be here, sitting in this cafeteria, enjoying his coffee at 12.05. Or around that”, predicts Perse.
    Then, they continue their conversation. Again. Again. And so on, while waiting the time to come. The clock on the wall is ticking over and over again. Without them knowing, there is a person: this person is the huge one, like they perceive him as an elephant while a name “Edward Titan” written on the nametag, listening to their conversation clearly. Each word and sentence comes to his ear, and stays in his mind as the time comes by.
    The conversation is still ongoing. The second hand of time is still ticking over and over again. “So, who’s this doctor’s name?”, asks Jud
    Ante answers, “The doctor is called Richard Zeus. He once made a mistake to our Leader. So, he asks us. Tonight, and he wants to wait no longer to kill him tonight”
    “Listen. This info I got last year, exactly on this day, December 31st, 2008. He, I mean the doctor had a surgery on his child. Our leader’s boy. And, please, don’t get surprised. The surgery failed. The boy died”, explains the other.
    “So, you would like to utter the leader’s boy is murdered”, utters Judecca.
    “Not, murdered. But failed, it’s different”, says Antenora.
    The silence, this one is slightly shorter as if the times will never come. The time is ticking. Ticking. Again and again. Judecca understands now, whatever the reason, the Richard Zeus must die. Because of her leader’s boy. The boy has died. That is what she thinks
    Now, it rings a bell. She remembers slowly, there is something about her past. The clock is now on 22.55. “Do you still remember? When we’re encountered by him. The one who saved us”, said Jud.
    Again, come a long silence. Everybody utters no word at this time. Thanks to story, every single person around the table think to their past: the time when their leader discovered them; the time when they are engulfed in their own hardship; the time when each of them had not met to each other. Judecca remembers a bit and two bits of her past, killing her neighbour, she was taken to a psychiatrist, a young handsome psychiatrist. That is what she thinks. But since the time she met the psychiatrist, she never met their family starting on that day.
    It is slightly different from Antenora, she was found when she was 10 years old. At that time, she had nobody. Because of nobody, she felt lonely, and somewhere in the middle of February, she was found by a man. This man wears jacket so thick, and glasses in front of his eyes. He is still young but not a teenage. By looking at him, people will know this man is a doctor, from the way he speaks, so polite as if talking to a patient.
    Persephone remembers that she was always with her uncle every day. Once a year, around Spring, she is going back to New York to meet her mother. But as long as she knows, she studies in London, and she stays at her uncle’s house. Once a week, a doctor visits to the uncle’s house, and someday he meets the girl. When she is around 15, she has a part time job in the doctor’s house.
    The clock on the wall is ticking softly, so calm and gentle. A step is out of the kitchen. It is Edward bringing the hamburger for the lady.
    The clock on the wall is now on 23. 15.
    And then, the big counterman comes back into the kitchen, while listening to every sentence again, for every speech he must remember, to tell everything to the doctor, to tell him there are a bunch of women trying to murder him. He becomes sure and tell him, but he cannot do it yet. The doctor usually has not finished the surgery yet. It is the surgery for the doctor’s wife: Hera Zeus. While, calling the receptionist to tell the doctor, no one takes the phone on the receptionist. Then, the counterman starts to feel anxious, a little bit worry, he feels like he is a mouse that has been caught in a mousetrap. He will not leave the cafeteria alone with these women. It can be a very frightening stuff to do, in his opinion. At the same time, the big counterman is still gazing at the three women. They are still waiting, while one of the women there looking at the watch on her left hand. They wait.
    The counterman also waits, they wait the doctor who is going to come. But the doctor has not come yet.
    15 minutes is passing by. The doctor has not come yet. The girls surrounding the table are still sitting there, waiting the doctor to come. Second and second is coming, and second and second is getting away. While, Persephone has prepared gun in her pocket, when the doctor comes, she will shoot him from afar. Like an eagle flying high in the sky, it will catch its prey with its claw.
    Because the counterman is so anxious, so worried with the coming of the doctor, he decides to go. To go to prevent the doctor. “Can you stay here for a moment, ladies? I am in a hurry to go somewhere. Something needs to be fixed. Please wait here until I come”, says the counterman.
    “Sure. Gladly we’ll do that. We are also going to be here for a moment”, responds Judecca.
    Then, he walks out of the room. He walks. And walks again. He passes the small storage, the waiting room, and receptionist. He stops for a moment there, and looks for the doctor’s room. He gets what he is looking for, then the lady behind the desk says the room is 058 on the first floor. He goes to the room, as soon as he arrives, the doctor comes out of the room.
    “Doctor, please. Something important you have to listen. This is a person, not three persons. Women. They want, want to kill you”, speaks the counterman anxiously. He continues, “Please. Do not go there. The cafeteria. They’re waiting for you there”.
    There is a moment of silence, then the doctor, Edward Zeus says, “So, they are here. You say, 4 women. And they are waiting for me at the cafeteria to kill me? Are you sure?”
    “Yes, doctor. As you know, my ear is very good. Completely good. Not like the other men and beings in this Britain. Please, you must escape from this place. For a moment, you must disappear like vanishing“
    The doctor chuckles, “I will not do that. I’m still going there”.
    Confused, the man from cafeteria says, “But they will kill you. I’m sure they will kill you, those crazy women”
    “Stop. I will not run away anymore, I’ve done so many bad deeds in whole my life. I’ve killed a man’s boy last year. And since then, guilty feeling haunts me down every time, each single time. I’ve given my daughter away dozen years ago. And I cannot forget that. Do you know how guilty I am. Every single mistake I have already done. Life is not so sweet, like death that is so sweet and gentle”
    There is a silence, then the doctor continues, “I will not run away. If they want to kill me, it’s good. Even though I’m able to cure my wife, she will not be the same as she was a dozen year ago. So, I will stop running, I’m meeting my fate. What happen will happen”
    The man from cafeteria does not speak, while the doctor is walking on his path to the cafeteria.

    Adapted from "The Killers" by Ernest Hemmingway
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
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  3. MaxMarcel M V U

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    Wew,
    awal2 ceritanya masih ringan, enak dibaca dengan sedikit unsur humor.
    Tengah2 jadi rada aneh.
    Akhir2 jadi gantung. :XD:

    Tapi udah fit gayanya. Plain and simple.
     
  4. renation89 M V U

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    nanti aku mau bikin sekali lagi versi revisinya :XD:
    soalnya itu belum diedit dan di revisi
    masi first draft. nanti ajalah kalo udah agak lama baru direvisi :XD:
     
  5. MaxMarcel M V U

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    Oh iya btw

    Kayaknya lebih cocok kalo jadi or maybe it's both atau or even both. Agak kurang enak dibacanya kalo tiba2 it's both. Tapi gw kurang ngerti bahasa inggris juga sih. :XD:

    PS: dikasih enter dong. Rada sakit juga mata kalo wall of text gini :XD:
     
  6. renation89 M V U

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    nanti deh kalo next revision nya :XD:
    ini baru draft 1 :XD:


    tapi mau bikin konsepnya gini loh
    kan di atas kan mereka menunggu kan
    aku mau buatnya cerita bagian tengahnya itu agak membosankan
    soalnya dengan begitu aku mau nyampein
    kalo memang menunggu itu pekerjaan yang membosankan
    :XD:jadi mesti terasa juga melalui tulisan :XD:
     
  7. murasaki M V U

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    itu baru versi draft ny toh...

    pas baca bagian awalnya sih OK...

    tp gitu nyampe ending, berasa agak aneh juga, stuju sama MaxMarcel

    berharap bakalan ada part selanjutnya :peace:

    baru nyadar ada jg yg bikin pk english disini :top:
    slaen gw
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  8. renation89 M V U

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    untuk acuannya baca saja the killers :XD:
    karnya hemmingway
    adaptasi dari sana koq :hehe:


    The door of Henry’s lunch-room opened and two men came in. They sat down at the counter.
    ‘What’s yours?’ George asked them.
    ‘I don’t know,’ one of the men said. ‘What do you want to eat, Al?’
    ‘I don’t know,’ said Al. ‘I don’t know what I want to eat.’
    Outside it was getting dark. The street light came on outside the window. The two men at the counter read the menu. From the other end of the counter Nick Adams watched them. He had been talking to George when they came in.

    ‘I’ll have a roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes,' the first man said.
    ‘It isn’t ready yet.’
    ‘What the hell do you put it on the card for?’
    ‘That’s the dinner,’ George explained. ‘You can get that at six o'clock.’
    George looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter.
    ‘It’s five o'clock’
    ‘The clock says twenty minutes past five,’ the second man said.
    ‘It’s twenty minutes fast.’
    ‘Oh, to hell with the clock,’ the first man said. ‘What have you got to eat?’
    ‘I can give you any kind of sandwiches,’ George said. ‘You can have ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver and bacon, or a steak.’
    ‘Give me chicken croquettes with green peas and cream sauce and mashed potatoes.’
    ‘That’s the dinner.’
    ‘Everything we want’s the dinner, eh? That’s the way you work it.’
    ‘I can give you ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver –’
    ‘I’ll take ham and eggs,’ the man called Al Said. He wore a derby hat and a black overcoat buttoned across the chest. His face was small and white and he had tight lips. He wore a silk muffler and gloves.
    ‘Give me bacon and eggs,’ said the other man. He was about the same size as Al. Their faces were different, but they were dressed like twins. Both wore overcoats too tight for them. They sat leaning forward, their elbows on the counter.
    ‘Got anything to drink?’ Al asked.
    ‘Silver beer, bevo, ginger-ale,’ George said.
    ‘I mean you got anything to drink?’
    ‘Just those I said.’
    ‘This is a hot town,’ said the other. ‘What do they call it?’
    ‘Summit,’
    ‘Ever hear of it?’ Al asked his friend.
    ‘No,’ said the friend.
    ‘What do you do here nights?’ Al asked.
    ‘They eat the dinner,’ his friend said. ‘They all come here and eat the big dinner.’
    ‘That’s right.’ George said.
    ‘So you think that’s right?’ Al asked George.
    ‘Sure.’
    ‘You’re a pretty bright boy, aren’t you?’
    ‘Sure,’ Said George.
    ‘Well, you’re not,’ said the other little man. ‘Is he, Al?’
    ‘He’s dumb,’ said Al. he turned to nick. ‘What’s your name?’
    ‘Adams.’
    ‘Another Bright boy,’ Al said. ‘Ain’t he a bright boy, Max?’
    ‘The town’s full of bright boys,’ Max said.
    George put down two platters, one of ham and eggs, the other of bacon and eggs, on the counter. He set down two side dishes of fried potatoes and closed the wicket into the kitchen.
    ‘Which is yours?’ he asked Al.
    ‘Don’t you remember?’
    ‘Ham and eggs,’
    ‘Just a bright boy,’ Max said. He leaned forward and took the ham and eggs. Both men ate with their gloves on. George watched them eat.
    ‘What are you looking at?’ Max looked at George.
    ‘Nothing.’
    ‘The hell you were. You were looking at me.’
    ‘Maybe the boy meant it for a joke max,’ Al said.
    George laughed.
    ‘You don’t have to laugh,’ Max said to him. ‘You don’t have to laugh at all, see?’
    ‘All Right,’ said George.
    ‘So he think it's all right,’ Max turned to all. ’He thinks it's all right. That’s a good one.’
    ‘Oh, he’s a thinker,’ Al said. They went on eating.
    ‘What’s the bright boy’s name down the counter? Al asked Max.
    ‘Hey, bright boy,’ Max said to Nick. ‘You go around on the other side of the counter with your boy friend.’
    ‘What’s the idea?’ Nick asked.
    ‘You better go around, bright boy,’ Al said. Nick went around behind the counter.
    ‘What’s the idea?’ George asked.
    ‘None of your damn business,’ Al said. ‘Who’s out in the kitchen?’
    ‘The nigger.’
    ‘What do you mean the nigger?’
    ‘The nigger that cooks.’
    ‘Tell him to come in,’
    ‘What’s the idea?’
    ‘Tell him to come in,’
    ‘Where do you think you are?’
    ‘We know damn well where we are,’ the man called Max said. ’Do we look silly?’
    ‘You talk silly,’ Al said to him. ‘What the hell do you argue with this kid for? Listen,’ he said to George, ‘tell the nigger to come out here.’
    ‘What are you going to do to him?’
    ‘Nothing. Use your head, bright boy. What would we do to a nigger?’
    George opened the slip that opened back into the kitchen. ‘Sam,’ he called. ‘Come in here a minute.’
    The door of the kitchen opened and the nigger came in. ‘What was it?’ he asked. The two men at the counter took a look at him.
    ‘All right, nigger. You stand right there,’ Al said.
    Sam, the nigger, standing in his apron, looked at the two men sitting at the counter. ‘Yes, sir,’ he said. Al got down from his stool.
    ‘I’m going back to the kitchen with the nigger and bright boy,’ he said. ‘Go back to the kitchen, nigger. You go with him, bright boy.’ The little man walked after Nick and Sam, the cook, back into the kitchen. The door shut after them. The man called Max sat at the counter opposite George. He didn’t look at George but looked in the mirror that ran along back of the counter. Henry’s had been made over from a saloon into a lunch-counter.
    ‘Well, bright boy,’ Max said, looking into the mirror, ‘why don’t you say something?’
    ‘What’s it all about?’
    ‘Hey, Al,’ Max Called, ‘bright boy wants to know what it’s all about.’
    ‘Why don’t you tell him?’ Al’s Voice came from the kitchen.
    ‘What do you think it’s all about?’
    ‘I don’t know.’
    ‘What do you think?’
    Max looked into the mirror all the time he was talking.
    ‘I wouldn’t say.’
    ‘Hey Al, bright boy says he wouldn’t say what he thinks it’s all about.’
    ‘I can hear you, all right,’ Al said from the kitchen. He had propped open the slit that dishes passed through into the kitchen with a catsup bottle. ’Listen, bright boy,’ he said from the kitchen to George. ‘Stand a little further along the bar. You move a little to the left, Max.’ He was like a photographer arranging for a group picture.
    ‘Talk to me, bright boy,’ Max said. ‘What do you think’s going to happen?’
    George did not say anything.
    ‘I'll tell you,’ Max Said. ‘We’re going to kill a Swede. Do you know a big Swede named Ole Anderson?
    ‘Yes.’
    ‘He comes in here to eat every night, don't he?’
    ‘Sometimes he comes here.’
    ‘He comes here at six o’clock, don’t he?
    ‘If he comes.’
    ‘We know all that, bright boy,’ Max said. ‘Talk about something else. Ever go to the movies?’
    ‘Once in a while.’
    ‘You ought to go to the movies more. The movies are fine for a bright boy like you.’
    ‘What are you going to kill Ole Anderson for? What did he ever do to you?’
    ‘He never had a chance to do anything to us. He never even seen us.’
    ‘And he’s only going to kill him for, then?’ George asked.
    ‘We’re killing him for a friend. Just to oblige a friend, bright boy.’
    ‘Shut up,’ said Al from the kitchen. ‘You talk too god-dam much.’
    ‘Well, I got to keep bright boy amused. Don’t I, bright boy?’
    ‘You talk too damn much,’ Al said ‘The nigger and my bright boy are amused by themselves. I got them tied up like a couple of girl friends in the convent.’
    ‘I suppose you were in a convent.’
    ‘You never know.’
    ‘You were in a kosher convent. That’s where you were.’
    George looked up at the clock.
    ‘If anybody comes in you tell them the cook is off, and if they keep after it, you tell them you’ll go back and cook yourself. Do you get that, bright boy?’
    ‘Al right,’ George said. ‘What you going to do with us afterwards?’
    ‘That’ll depend,’ Max said. ‘That’s one of those thing you never know at the time.’
    George looked up at the clock. It was a quarter past six. The door from the street opened. A street-car motorman came in.
    ‘Hello, George,’ he said. ‘Can I get supper?’
    ‘Sam’s gone out,’ George said. ‘He’ll be back in about half an hour.’
    ‘I’d better go up the street,’ the motorman said. George looked at the clock. It was twenty minutes past six.
    ‘That was nice, bright boy,’ Max said ‘You’re a regular little gentleman.’
    ‘He knew I’d blow his head off,’ Al said from the kitchen.
    ‘No.’ said Max. ‘It ain’t that. Bright boy is nice. He’s a nice boy. I like him.’
    At six-fifty-five George said: ‘He’s not coming.’
    Two other people had been in the lunch-room. Once George had gone out to the kitchen and made a ham-and-eggs sandwich ‘to go’ that a man wanted to take with him. Inside the kitchen he saw Al, his derby hat tilted back, sitting on a stool beside the wicket with the muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun resting on the ledge. Nick and the cook were back to back in the corner, a towel tied in each of their mouths. George had cooked the sandwich, wrapped it up in oiled paper, put it in a bag, brought it in, and the man had paid for it and gone out.
    ‘Bright boy can do everything,’ Max said. ‘He can cook and everything. You’d make some girl a nice wife, bright boy.’
    ‘Yes?’ George said. ‘Your friend. Ole Anderson, isn’t going to come.’
    ‘We’ll give him ten minutes,’ Max said.
    Max watched the mirror and the clock. The hands of the clock marked seven o’clock, and then five minutes past seven.
    ‘Come on, Al,’ said Max. ‘We better go. He's not coming.’
    ‘Better give him five minutes,’ Al said from the kitchen.
    In the five minutes a man came in, and George explained that the cook was sick.
    ‘Why the hell don’t you get another cook?’ the man asked. ‘Aren’t you running a lunch-counter?’ He went out.
    ‘Come on Al,’ Max Said.
    ‘What about the two bright boys and the nigger?’
    ‘They’re all right.’
    ‘You think so?’
    ‘Sure. We’re through with it.’
    ‘I don’t like it,’ said Al. ‘It’s sloppy. You talk too much.’
    ‘Oh, what the hell,’ said Max. ‘We got to keep amused, haven’t we?’
    ‘You talk too much, all the same,’ Al said. He came out from the kitchen. The cut-off barrels of the shotgun made a slight bulge under the waist of his too tight-fitting overcoat. He straightened his coat with his gloved hands.
    ‘So long, bright boy,’ he said to George. ‘You got a lot of luck.’
    ‘That’s the truth,’ Max said. ‘You ought to play the race, bright boy.’
    The two of them went out of the door. George watched them, through the window; pass under the arc-light, and cross the street. In their overcoats and derby hats they looked like a vaudeville team. George went back through the swinging-door into the kitchen and untied Nick and the cook.
    ‘I don’t want any more of that,’ said Sam, the cook. ‘I don’t want any more of that.’
    Nick stood up. He had never had a towel in his mouth before.
    ‘Say,’ he said. ‘What the hell?’ He was trying to swagger it off.
    ‘They were going to kill Ole Anderson,’ George said. ‘They were going to shoot him when he came in to eat.
    ‘Ole Anderson?’
    ‘Sure.’
    The cook felt the corners of his mouth with his thumbs.
    ‘They all gone?’ he asked.
    ‘Yeah,’ said George. ‘They’re gone now.’
    ‘I don’t like it,’ said the cook. ‘I don’t like any of it at all.’
    ‘Listen,’ George said to nick. ‘You better go see Ole Anderson.’
    ‘All right.’


    ‘You better not have anything to do with it at all,’ Sam, the cook, said. ‘You better stay way it at all,’ Sam, the cook, said. ‘You better stay way out of it.’
    ‘Don’t go if you don’t want to,’ George said.
    ‘Mixing up in this ain’t going to get you anywhere,’ the cook said. ‘You stay out of it.’
    ‘I’ll go see him,’ Nick said to George. ‘Where does he live?’
    The cook turned away.

    ‘Little boys always know what they want to do,’ he said.
    ‘He lives up at Hirsch’s rooming-house,’ George aid to Nick.
    ‘I’ll go up there.’

    Outside, the arc-light shone through the bare branches of a tree. Nick walked up the street beside the car-tracks and turned at the next arc-light down a side-street. Three houses up the street was Hirsch’s rooming-house. Nick walked up the two steps and pushed the bell. A woman came to the door.
    ‘Is Ole Anderson here?’
    ‘Do you want to see him?’
    ‘Yes, if he’s in,’
    Nick followed the woman up a flight of stairs and back to the end of the corridor. She knocked on the door.
    ‘Who is it?’
    ‘It's Nick Adams.’
    ‘Come In.’
    Nick opened the door and went into the room. Ole Anderson was lying on the bed with all his clothes on. He had been a heavyweight prize-fighter and he was too long for the bed. He lay with his head on two pillows. He did not look at Nick.
    ‘What was it?’
    ‘I was up at Henry’s,’ Nick said, ’and two fellows came in and tied up me and the cook, and they said they were going to kill you.’
    It sounded silly when he said it. Ole Anderson said nothing.
    ‘They put us out in the kitchen,’ Nick went on. ‘They were going to shoot you when you came in to supper.’
    Ole Anderson looked at the wall and did not sat anything.
    ‘George thought I’d better come and tell you about it.’
    ‘There isn’t anything I can do about it,’ Ole Anderson said.
    ‘I’ll tell you what they were like.’
    ‘I don’t want to know what they were like,’ Ole Anderson said. He looked at the wall. ‘Thanks for coming to tell me about it.’
    ‘That’s all right.’
    Nick looked at the big man lying on the bed.
    ‘Don’t you want me to go and see the police?’
    ‘No,’ Ole Anderson said. ‘That wouldn’t do any good.’
    ‘Isn’t there something I could do?’
    ‘No. There ain’t anything to do.’
    ‘Maybe it was just a bluff.’
    ‘No, it ain’t just a bluff.’
    Ole Anderson rolled over towards the wall.
    ‘The only thing is,’ he said, talking towards the wall, ‘I just can’t make up my mind to go out. I been in here all day.’
    ‘Couldn’t you get out of town?’
    ‘No,’ Ole Anderson said. ‘I’m through with all that running around.’
    He looked at the wall.
    ‘There ain’t anything to do now.’
    ‘Couldn’t you fix it up some way?'
    ‘No. I got in wrong.’ He talked in the same flat voice. ‘There ain’t anything to do. After a while I’ll make up my mind to go out.’
    ‘I better go back and see George,’ Nick said.
    ‘So Long,’ Said Ole Anderson. He did not look towards Nick. ‘Thanks for coming around.’
    Nick went out. As he shut the door he saw Ole Anderson with all his clothes on, lying on the bed looking at the wall.
    ‘He’s been in his room all day,’ the landlady said downstairs. ‘I guess he don’t feel well. I said to him: ‘‘Mr. Anderson, You ought to go out and take a walk on a nice fall day like this,’’ but he didn’t feel like it.’
    ‘He doesn’t want to go out.’
    ‘I’m sorry he don’t feel well,’ the woman said. ’He’s an awfully nice man. He was in the ring, you know.’
    ‘I know it.’
    ‘You’d never know it expect from the way his face is,’ the woman said. They stood talking just inside the street door. ‘He’s just as gentle.’
    ‘Well, good-night, Mrs. Hirsch,’ Nick Said.
    ‘I’m not Mrs. Hirsch’ the woman said. ‘She owns the place. I just look after it for her, I’m Mrs. Bell.’
    ‘Well, Good-night, Mrs. Bell,’ Nick said.
    ‘Good-night,’ the woman said.
    Nick walked up the dark street to the corner under the arc-light, and then along the car-tracks to Henry’s eating-house. George was inside, back of the counter.
    ‘Did you see Ole?
    ‘Yes,’ Said Nick. ‘He’s in his room and he won’t go out.’
    The cook opened the door from the kitchen when he heard Nick’s voice.
    ‘I don’t even listen to it,’ he said and shut the door.
    ‘Did you tell him about it?’ George asked.
    ‘Sure. I told him, but he knows what it’s all about.’
    ‘What’s he going to do?’
    ‘Nothing.’
    ‘They’ll kill him.’
    ‘I guess they will.’
    ‘He must have got mixed up in something in Chicago.’
    ‘I guess so,’ said Nick.
    ‘It’s a hell of a thing.’
    ‘It’s an awful thing,’ Nick said.
    They did not say anything. George reached down for a towel and wiped the counter.
    ‘I wonder what he did?’ Nick said.
    ‘Double-crossed somebody. That’s what they kill them for.’
    ‘I’m going to get out of his town,’ Nick said.
    ‘Yes,’ said George. ‘That’s a good thing to do.’
    ‘I can’t stand to think about him waiting in the room and knowing he’s going to get it. It’s too damned awful.’
    ‘Well,’ said George, ‘You better not think about it.’
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
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