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解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  English             Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
解密文本:     《麦田里的守望者》   [美] 塞林格著         
 

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
by   J.D. Salinger


      第1-10节      |       第11-20节       |      第21-26 节    

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TO  MY MOTHER   

1

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, an what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and all--I'm not saying that--but they're also touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week end. He's going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He's got a lot of dough, now. He didn't use to. He used to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was "The Secret Goldfish." It was about this little kid that wouldn't let anybody look at his goldfish because he'd bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me.
  Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time. I never even once saw a horse anywhere near the place. And underneath the guy on the horse's picture, it always says: "Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men." Strictly for the birds. They don't do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn't know anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that many. And they probably came to Pencey that way.
  Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall. The game with Saxon Hall was supposed to be a very big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if old Pencey didn't win. I remember around three o'clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill, right next to this crazy cannon that was in the Revolutionary War and all. You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place. You couldn't see the grandstand too hot, but you could hear them all yelling, deep and terrific on the Pencey side, because practically the whole school except me was there, and scrawny and faggy on the Saxon Hall side, because the visiting team hardly ever brought many people with them.
  There were never many girls at all at the football games. Only seniors were allowed to bring girls with them. It was a terrible school, no matter how you looked at it. I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they're only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something. Old Selma Thurmer--she was the headmaster's daughter--showed up at the games quite often, but she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next to her once in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation. I liked her. She had a big nose and her nails were all bitten down and bleedy-looking and she had on those damn falsies that point all over the place, but you felt sort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was. She probably knew what a phony slob he was.
  The reason I was standing way up on Thomsen Hill, instead of down at the game, was because I'd just got back from New York with the fencing team. I was the goddam manager of the fencing team. Very big deal. We'd gone in to New York that morning for this fencing meet with McBurney School. Only, we didn't have the meet. I left all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway. It wasn't all my fault. I had to keep getting up to look at this map, so we'd know where to get off. So we got back to Pencey around two-thirty instead of around dinnertime. The whole team ostracized me the whole way back on the train. It was pretty funny, in a way.
  The other reason I wasn't down at the game was because I was on my way to say good-by to old Spencer, my history teacher. He had the grippe, and I figured I probably wouldn't see him again till Christmas vacation started. He wrote me this note saying he wanted to see me before I went home. He knew I wasn't coming back to Pencey.
  I forgot to tell you about that. They kicked me out. I wasn't supposed to come back after Christmas vacation on account of I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself and all. They gave me frequent warning to start applying myself--especially around midterms, when my parents came up for a conference with old Thurmer--but I didn't do it. So I got the ax. They give guys the ax quite frequently at Pencey. It has a very good academic rating, Pencey. It really does.
  Anyway, it was December and all, and it was cold as a witch's teat, especially on top of that stupid hill. I only had on my reversible and no gloves or anything. The week before that, somebody'd stolen my camel's-hair coat right out of my room, with my fur-lined gloves right in the pocket and all. Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has--I'm not kidding. Anyway, I kept standing next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off. Only, I wasn't watching the game too much. What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad goodby, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse.
  I was lucky. All of a sudden I thought of something that helped make me know I was getting the hell out. I suddenly remembered this time, in around October, that I and Robert Tichener and Paul Campbell were chucking a football around, in front of the academic building. They were nice guys, especially Tichener. It was just before dinner and it was getting pretty dark out, but we kept chucking the ball around anyway. It kept getting darker and darker, and we could hardly see the ball any more, but we didn't want to stop doing what we were doing. Finally we had to. This teacher that taught biology, Mr. Zambesi, stuck his head out of this window in the academic building and told us to go back to the dorm and get ready for dinner. If I get a chance to remember that kind of stuff, I can get a good-by when I need one--at least, most of the time I can. As soon as I got it, I turned around and started running down the other side of the hill, toward old Spencer's house. He didn't live on the campus. He lived on Anthony Wayne Avenue.
  I ran all the way to the main gate, and then I waited a second till I got my breath. I have no wind, if you want to know the truth. I'm quite a heavy smoker, for one thing--that is, I used to be. They made me cut it out. Another thing, I grew six and a half inches last year. That's also how I practically got t.b. and came out here for all these goddam checkups and stuff. I'm pretty healthy, though.
  Anyway, as soon as I got my breath back I ran across Route 204. It was icy as hell and I damn near fell down. I don't even know what I was running for--I guess I just felt like it. After I got across the road, I felt like I was sort of disappearing. It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.
  Boy, I rang that doorbell fast when I got to old Spencer's house. I was really frozen. My ears were hurting and I could hardly move my fingers at all. "C'mon, c'mon," I said right out loud, almost, "somebody open the door." Finally old Mrs. Spencer opened. it. They didn't have a maid or anything, and they always opened the door themselves. They didn't have too much dough.
  "Holden!" Mrs. Spencer said. "How lovely to see you! Come in, dear! Are you frozen to death?" I think she was glad to see me. She liked me. At least, I think she did.
  Boy, did I get in that house fast. "How are you, Mrs. Spencer?" I said. "How's Mr. Spencer?"
  "Let me take your coat, dear," she said. She didn't hear me ask her how Mr. Spencer was. She was sort of deaf.
  She hung up my coat in the hall closet, and I sort of brushed my hair back with my hand. I wear a crew cut quite frequently and I never have to comb it much. "How've you been, Mrs. Spencer?" I said again, only louder, so she'd hear me.
  "I've been just fine, Holden." She closed the closet door. "How have you been?" The way she asked me, I knew right away old Spencer'd told her I'd been kicked out.
  "Fine," I said. "How's Mr. Spencer? He over his grippe yet?"
  "Over it! Holden, he's behaving like a perfect--I don't know what. . . He's in his room, dear. Go right in."
    

2
  They each had their own room and all. They were both around seventy years old, or even more than that. They got a bang out of things, though--in a haif-assed way, of course. I know that sounds mean to say, but I don't mean it mean. I just mean that I used to think about old Spencer quite a lot, and if you thought about him too much, you wondered what the heck he was still living for. I mean he was all stooped over, and he had very terrible posture, and in class, whenever he dropped a piece of chalk at the blackboard, some guy in the first row always had to get up and pick it up and hand it to him. That's awful, in my opinion. But if you thought about him just enough and not too much, you could figure it out that he wasn't doing too bad for himself. For instance, one Sunday when some other guys and I were over there for hot chocolate, he showed us this old beat-up Navajo blanket that he and Mrs. Spencer'd bought off some Indian in Yellowstone Park. You could tell old Spencer'd got a big bang out of buying it. That's what I mean. You take somebody old as hell, like old Spencer, and they can get a big bang out of buying a blanket.
  His door was open, but I sort of knocked on it anyway, just to be polite and all. I could see where he was sitting. He was sitting in a big leather chair, all wrapped up in that blanket I just told you about. He looked over at me when I knocked. "Who's that?" he yelled. "Caulfield? Come in, boy." He was always yelling, outside class. It got on your nerves sometimes.
  The minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I'd come. He was reading the Atlantic Monthly, and there were pills and medicine all over the place, and everything smelled like Vicks Nose Drops. It was pretty depressing. I'm not too crazy about sick people, anyway. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don't much like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway. Their bumpy old chests are always showing. And their legs. Old guys' legs, at beaches and places, always look so white and unhairy. "Hello, sir," I said. "I got your note. Thanks a lot." He'd written me this note asking me to stop by and say good-by before vacation started, on account of I wasn't coming back. "You didn't have to do all that. I'd have come over to say good-by anyway."
  "Have a seat there, boy," old Spencer said. He meant the bed.
  I sat down on it. "How's your grippe, sir?"
  "M'boy, if I felt any better I'd have to send for the doctor," old Spencer said. That knocked him out. He started chuckling like a madman. Then he finally straightened himself out and said, "Why aren't you down at the game? I thought this was the day of the big game."
  "It is. I was. Only, I just got back from New York with the fencing team," I said. Boy, his bed was like a rock.
  He started getting serious as hell. I knew he would. "So you're leaving us, eh?" he said.
  "Yes, sir. I guess I am."
  He started going into this nodding routine. You never saw anybody nod as much in your life as old Spencer did. You never knew if he was nodding a lot because he was thinking and all, or just because he was a nice old guy that didn't know his ass from his elbow.
  "What did Dr. Thurmer say to you, boy? I understand you had quite a little chat."
  "Yes, we did. We really did. I was in his office for around two hours, I guess."
  "What'd he say to you?"
  "Oh. . . well, about Life being a game and all. And how you should play it according to the rules. He was pretty nice about it. I mean he didn't hit the ceiling or anything. He just kept talking about Life being a game and all. You know."
  "Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules."
  "Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it."
  Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right--I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game. "Has Dr. Thurmer written to your parents yet?" old Spencer asked me.
  "He said he was going to write them Monday."
  "Have you yourself communicated with them?"
  "No, sir, I haven't communicated with them, because I'll probably see them Wednesday night when I get home."
  "And how do you think they'll take the news?"
  "Well. . . they'll be pretty irritated about it," I said. "They really will. This is about the fourth school I've gone to." I shook my head. I shake my head quite a lot. "Boy!" I said. I also say "Boy!" quite a lot. Partly because I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head--the right side--is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am--I really do--but people never notice it. People never notice anything.
  Old Spencer started nodding again. He also started picking his nose. He made out like he was only pinching it, but he was really getting the old thumb right in there. I guess he thought it was all right to do because it was only me that was in the room. I didn't care, except that it's pretty disgusting to watch somebody pick their nose.
  Then he said, "I had the privilege of meeting your mother and dad when they had their little chat with Dr. Thurmer some weeks ago. They're grand people."
  "Yes, they are. They're very nice."
  Grand. There's a word I really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.
  Then all of a sudden old Spencer looked like he had something very good, something sharp as a tack, to say to me. He sat up more in his chair and sort of moved around. It was a false alarm, though. All he did was lift the Atlantic Monthly off his lap and try to chuck it on the bed, next to me. He missed. It was only about two inches away, but he missed anyway. I got up and picked it up and put it down on the bed. All of a sudden then, I wanted to get the hell out of the room. I could feel a terrific lecture coming on. I didn't mind the idea so much, but I didn't feel like being lectured to and smell Vicks Nose Drops and look at old Spencer in his pajamas and bathrobe all at the same time. I really didn't.
    It started, all right. "What's the matter with you, boy?" old Spencer said. He said it pretty tough, too, for him. "How many subjects did you carry this term?"
  "Five, sir."
  "Five. And how many are you failing in?"
  "Four." I moved my ass a little bit on the bed. It was the hardest bed I ever sat on. "I passed English all right," I said, "because I had all that Beowulf and Lord Randal My Son stuff when I was at the Whooton School. I mean I didn't have to do any work in English at all hardly, except write compositions once in a while."
  He wasn't even listening. He hardly ever listened to you when you said something.
  "I flunked you in history because you knew absolutely nothing."
  "I know that, sir. Boy, I know it. You couldn't help it."
  "Absolutely nothing," he said over again. That's something that drives me crazy. When people say something twice that way, after you admit it the first time. Then he said it three times. "But absolutely nothing. I doubt very much if you opened your textbook even once the whole term. Did you? Tell the truth, boy."
  "Well, I sort of glanced through it a couple of times," I told him. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. He was mad about history.
  "You glanced through it, eh?" he said--very sarcastic. "Your, ah, exam paper is over there on top of my chiffonier. On top of the pile. Bring it here, please."
  It was a very dirty trick, but I went over and brought it over to him--I didn't have any alternative or anything. Then I sat down on his cement bed again. Boy, you can't imagine how sorry I was getting that I'd stopped by to say good-by to him.
  He started handling my exam paper like it was a turd or something. "We studied the Egyptians from November 4th to December 2nd," he said. "You chose to write about them for the optional essay question. Would you care to hear what you had to say?"
  "No, sir, not very much," I said.
  He read it anyway, though. You can't stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.
  The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in
  one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all
  know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere.
  I had to sit there and listen to that crap. It certainly was a dirty trick.
  The Egyptians are extremely interesting to us today for
  various reasons. Modern science would still like to know what
  the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they
  wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for
  innumerable centuries. This interesting riddle is still quite
  a challenge to modern science in the twentieth century.
  He stopped reading and put my paper down. I was beginning to sort of hate him. "Your essay, shall we say, ends there," he said in this very sarcastic voice. You wouldn't
  think such an old guy would be so sarcastic and all. "However, you dropped me a little note, at the bottom of the page," he said.
  "I know I did," I said. I said it very fast because I wanted to stop him before he started reading that out loud. But you couldn't stop him. He was hot as a firecracker.
  DEAR MR. SPENCER [he read out loud]. That is all I know about
  the Egyptians. I can't seem to get very interested in them
  although your lectures are very interesting. It is all right
  with me if you flunk me though as I am flunking everything
  else except English anyway.
  Respectfully yours, HOLDEN CAULFIELD.
  He put my goddam paper down then and looked at me like he'd just beaten hell out of me in ping-pong or something. I don't think I'll ever forgive him for reading me that crap out loud. I wouldn't've read it out loud to him if he'd written it--I really wouldn't. In the first place, I'd only written that damn note so that he wouldn't feel too bad about flunking me.
  "Do you blame me for flunking you, boy?" he said.
  "No, sir! I certainly don't," I said. I wished to hell he'd stop calling me "boy" all the time.
  He tried chucking my exam paper on the bed when he was through with it. Only, he missed again, naturally. I had to get up again and pick it up and put it on top of the Atlantic Monthly. It's boring to do that every two minutes.
  "What would you have done in my place?" he said. "Tell the truth, boy."
  Well, you could see he really felt pretty lousy about flunking me. So I shot the bull for a while. I told him I was a real moron, and all that stuff. I told him how I would've done exactly the same thing if I'd been in his place, and how most people didn't appreciate how tough it is being a teacher. That kind of stuff. The old bull.
  The funny thing is, though, I was sort of thinking of something else while I shot the bull. I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go. I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.
  I'm lucky, though. I mean I could shoot the old bull to old Spencer and think about those ducks at the same time. It's funny. You don't have to think too hard when you talk to a teacher. All of a sudden, though, he interrupted me while I was shooting the bull. He was always interrupting you.
  "How do you feel about all this, boy? I'd be very interested to know. Very interested."
  "You mean about my flunking out of Pencey and all?" I said. I sort of wished he'd cover up his bumpy chest. It wasn't such a beautiful view.
  "If I'm not mistaken, I believe you also had some difficulty at the Whooton School and at Elkton Hills." He didn't say it just sarcastic, but sort of nasty, too.
  "I didn't have too much difficulty at Elkton Hills," I told him. "I didn't exactly flunk out or anything. I just quit, sort of."
  "Why, may I ask?"
  "Why? Oh, well it's a long story, sir. I mean it's pretty complicated." I didn't feel like going into the whole thing with him. He wouldn't have understood it anyway. It wasn't up his alley at all. One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's all. They were coming in the goddam window. For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. Ten times worse than old Thurmer. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody's parents when they drove up to school. He'd be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents. You should've seen the way he did with my roommate's parents. I mean if a boy's mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody's father was one of those guys that wear those suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Hans would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he'd go talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else's parents. I can't stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills.
  Old Spencer asked me something then, but I didn't hear him. I was thinking about old Haas. "What, sir?" I said.
  "Do you have any particular qualms about leaving Pencey?"
  "Oh, I have a few qualms, all right. Sure. . . but not too many. Not yet, anyway. I guess it hasn't really hit me yet. It takes things a while to hit me. All I'm doing right now is thinking about going home Wednesday. I'm a moron."
  "Do you feel absolutely no concern for your future, boy?"
  "Oh, I feel some concern for my future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do." I thought about it for a minute. "But not too much, I guess. Not too much, I guess."
  "You will," old Spencer said. "You will, boy. You will when it's too late."
  I didn't like hearing him say that. It made me sound dead or something. It was very depressing. "I guess I will," I said.
  "I'd like to put some sense in that head of yours, boy. I'm trying to help you. I'm trying to help you, if I can."
  He really was, too. You could see that. But it was just that we were too much on opposite sides ot the pole, that's all. "I know you are, sir," I said. "Thanks a lot. No kidding. I appreciate it. I really do." I got up from the bed then. Boy, I couldn't've sat there another ten minutes to save my life. "The thing is, though, I have to get going now. I have quite a bit of equipment at the gym I have to get to take home with me. I really do." He looked up at me and started nodding again, with this very serious look on his face. I felt sorry as hell for him, all of a sudden. But I just couldn't hang around there any longer, the way we were on opposite sides of the pole, and the way he kept missing the bed whenever he chucked something at it, and his sad old bathrobe with his chest showing, and that grippy smell of Vicks Nose Drops all over the place. "Look, sir. Don't worry about me," I said. "I mean it. I'll be all right. I'm just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don't they?"
  "I don't know, boy. I don't know."
  I hate it when somebody answers that way. "Sure. Sure, they do," I said. "I mean it, sir. Please don't worry about me." I sort of put my hand on his shoulder. "Okay?" I said.
  "Wouldn't you like a cup of hot chocolate before you go? Mrs. Spencer would be--"
  "I would, I really would, but the thing is, I have to get going. I have to go right to the gym. Thanks, though. Thanks a lot, sir."
  Then we shook hands. And all that crap. It made me feel sad as hell, though.
  "I'll drop you a line, sir. Take care of your grippe, now."
  "Good-by, boy."
  After I shut the door and started back to the living room, he yelled something at me, but I couldn't exactly hear him. I'm pretty sure he yelled "Good luck!" at me,
  I hope to hell not. I'd never yell "Good luck!" at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it.
  

3
  I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible. So when I told old Spencer I had to go to the gym and get my equipment and stuff, that was a sheer lie. I don't even keep my goddam equipment in the gym.
  Where I lived at Pencey, I lived in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of the new dorms. It was only for juniors and seniors. I was a junior. My roommate was a senior. It was named after this guy Ossenburger that went to Pencey. He made a pot of dough in the undertaking business after he got out of Pencey. What he did, he started these undertaking parlors all over the country that you could get members of your family buried for about five bucks apiece. You should see old Ossenburger. He probably just shoves them in a sack and dumps them in the river. Anyway, he gave Pencey a pile of dough, and they named our wing alter him. The first football game of the year, he came up to school in this big goddam Cadillac, and we all had to stand up in the grandstand and give him a locomotive--that's a cheer. Then, the next morning, in chapel, be made a speech that lasted about ten hours. He started off with about fifty corny jokes, just to show us what a regular guy he was. Very big deal. Then he started telling us how he was never ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or something, to get right down his knees and pray to God. He told us we should always pray to God--talk to Him and all--wherever we were. He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our buddy and all. He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when he was driving his car. That killed me. I just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs. The only good part of his speech was right in the middle of it. He was telling us all about what a swell guy he was, what a hot-shot and all, then all of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front of me, Edgar Marsalla, laid this terrific fart. It was a very crude thing to do, in chapel and all, but it was also quite amusing. Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off. Hardly anybody laughed out loud, and old Ossenburger made out like he didn't even hear it, but old Thurmer, the headmaster, was sitting right next to him on the rostrum and all, and you could tell he heard it. Boy, was he sore. He didn't say anything then, but the next night he made us have compulsory study hall in the academic building and he came up and made a speech. He said that the boy that had created the
    disturbance in chapel wasn't fit to go to Pencey. We tried to get old Marsalla to rip off another one, right while old Thurmer was making his speech, but be wasn't in the right mood. Anyway, that's where I lived at Pencey. Old Ossenburger Memorial Wing, in the new dorms.
  It was pretty nice to get back to my room, after I left old Spencer, because everybody was down at the game, and the heat was on in our room, for a change. It felt sort of cosy. I took off my coat and my tie and unbuttoned my shirt collar; and then I put on this hat that I'd bought in New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat, with one of those very, very long peaks. I saw it in the window of this sports store when we got out of the subway, just after I noticed I'd lost all the goddam foils. It only cost me a buck. The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back--very corny, I'll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way. Then I got this book I was reading and sat down in my chair. There were two chairs in every room. I had one and my roommate, Ward Stradlater, had one. The arms were in sad shape, because everybody was always sitting on them, but they were pretty comfortable chairs.
  The book I was reading was this book I took out of the library by mistake. They gave me the wrong book, and I didn't notice it till I got back to my room. They gave me Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen. I thought it was going to stink, but it didn't. It was a very good book. I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot. My favorite author is my brother D.B., and my next favorite is Ring Lardner. My brother gave me a book by Ring Lardner for my birthday, just before I went to Pencey. It had these very funny, crazy plays in it, and then it had this one story about a traffic cop that falls in love with this very cute girl that's always speeding. Only, he's married, the cop, so be can't marry her or anything. Then this girl gets killed, because she's always speeding. That story just about killed me. What I like best is a book that's at least funny once in a while. I read a lot of classical books, like The Return of the Native and all, and I like them, and I read a lot of war books and mysteries and all, but they don't knock me out too much. What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though. I wouldn't mind calling this Isak Dinesen up. And Ring Lardner, except that D.B. told me he's dead. You take that book Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham, though. I read it last summer. It's a pretty good book and all, but I wouldn't want to call Somerset Maugham up. I don't know, He just isn't the kind of guy I'd want to call up, that's all. I'd rather call old Thomas Hardy up. I like that Eustacia Vye.
  Anyway, I put on my new hat and sat down and started reading that book Out of Africa. I'd read it already, but I wanted to read certain parts over again. I'd only read about three pages, though, when I heard somebody coming through the shower curtains. Even without looking up, I knew right away who it was. It was Robert Ackley, this guy that roomed right next to me. There was a shower right between every two rooms in our wing, and about eighty-five times a day old Ackley barged in on me. He was probably the only guy in the whole dorm, besides me, that wasn't down at the game. He hardly ever went anywhere. He was a very peculiar guy. He was a senior, and he'd been at Pencey the whole four years and all, but nobody ever called him anything except "Ackley." Not even Herb Gale, his own roommate, ever called him "Bob" or even "Ack." If he ever gets married, his own wife'll probably call him "Ackley." He was one of these very, very tall, round-shouldered guys--he was about six four--with lousy teeth. The whole time he
  roomed next to me, I never even once saw him brush his teeth. They always looked mossy and awful, and he damn near made you sick if you saw him in the dining room with his mouth full of mashed potatoes and peas or something. Besides that, he had a lot of pimples. Not just on his forehead or his chin, like most guys, but all over his whole face. And not only that, he had a terrible personality. He was also sort of a nasty guy. I wasn't too crazy about him, to tell you the truth.
  I could feel him standing on the shower ledge, right behind my chair, taking a look to see if Stradlater was around. He hated Stradlater's guts and he never came in the room if Stradlater was around. He hated everybody's guts, damn near.
  He came down off the shower ledge and came in the room. "Hi," he said. He always said it like he was terrifically bored or terrifically tired. He didn't want you to think he was visiting you or anything. He wanted you to think he'd come in by mistake, for God's sake.
  "Hi," I said, but I didn't look up from my book. With a guy like Ackley, if you looked up from your book you were a goner. You were a goner anyway, but not as quick if you didn't look up right away.
  He started walking around the room, very slow and all, the way he always did, picking up your personal stuff off your desk and chiffonier. He always picked up your personal stuff and looked at it. Boy, could he get on your nerves sometimes. "How was the fencing?" he said. He just wanted me to quit reading and enjoying myself. He didn't give a damn about the fencing. "We win, or what?" he said.
  "Nobody won," I said. Without looking up, though.
  "What?" he said. He always made you say everything twice.
  "Nobody won," I said. I sneaked a look to see what he was fiddling around with on my chiffonier. He was looking at this picture of this girl I used to go around with in New York, Sally Hayes. He must've picked up that goddam picture and looked at it at least five thousand times since I got it. He always put it back in the wrong place, too, when he was finished. He did it on purpose. You could tell.
  "Nobody won," he said. "How come?"
  "I left the goddam foils and stuff on the subway." I still didn't look up at him.
  "On the subway, for Chrissake! Ya lost them, ya mean?"
  "We got on the wrong subway. I had to keep getting up to look at a goddam map on the wall."
  He came over and stood right in my light. "Hey," I said. "I've read this same sentence about twenty times since you came in."
  Anybody else except Ackley would've taken the goddam hint. Not him, though. "Think they'll make ya pay for em?" he said.
  "I don't know, and I don't give a damn. How 'bout sitting down or something, Ackley kid? You're right in my goddam light." He didn't like it when you called him "Ackley kid." He was always telling me I was a goddam kid, because I was sixteen and he was eighteen. It drove him mad when I called him "Ackley kid."
  He kept standing there. He was exactly the kind of a guy that wouldn't get out of your light when you asked him to. He'd do it, finally, but it took him a lot longer if you asked him to. "What the hellya reading?" he said.
  "Goddam book."
    He shoved my book back with his hand so that he could see the name of it. "Any good?" he said.
  "This sentence I'm reading is terrific." I can be quite sarcastic when I'm in the mood. He didn't get It, though. He started walking around the room again, picking up all my personal stuff, and Stradlater's. Finally, I put my book down on the floor. You couldn't read anything with a guy like Ackley around. It was impossible.
  I slid way the hell down in my chair and watched old Ackley making himself at home. I was feeling sort of tired from the trip to New York and all, and I started yawning. Then I started horsing around a little bit. Sometimes I horse around quite a lot, just to keep from getting bored. What I did was, I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front, then pulled it way down over my eyes. That way, I couldn't see a goddam thing. "I think I'm going blind," I said in this very hoarse voice. "Mother darling, everything's getting so dark in here."
  "You're nuts. I swear to God," Ackley said.
  "Mother darling, give me your hand, Why won't you give me your hand?"
  "For Chrissake, grow up."
  I started groping around in front of me, like a blind guy, but without getting up or anything. I kept saying, "Mother darling, why won't you give me your hand?" I was only horsing around, naturally. That stuff gives me a bang sometimes. Besides, I know it annoyed hell out of old Ackley. He always brought out the old sadist in me. I was pretty sadistic with him quite often. Finally, I quit, though. I pulled the peak around to the back again, and relaxed.
  "Who belongsa this?" Ackley said. He was holding my roommate's knee supporter up to show me. That guy Ackley'd pick up anything. He'd even pick up your jock strap or something. I told him it was Stradlater's. So he chucked it on Stradlater's bed. He got it off Stradlater's chiffonier, so he chucked it on the bed.
  He came over and sat down on the arm of Stradlater's chair. He never sat down in a chair. Just always on the arm. "Where the hellja get that hat?" he said.
  "New York."
  "How much?"
  "A buck."
  "You got robbed." He started cleaning his goddam fingernails with the end of a match. He was always cleaning his fingernails. It was funny, in a way. His teeth were always mossy-looking, and his ears were always dirty as hell, but he was always cleaning his fingernails. I guess he thought that made him a very neat guy. He took another look at my hat while he was cleaning them. "Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake," he said. "That's a deer shooting hat."
  "Like hell it is." I took it off and looked at it. I sort of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it. "This is a people shooting hat," I said. "I shoot people in this hat."
  "Your folks know you got kicked out yet?"
  "Nope."
  "Where the hell's Stradlater at, anyway?"
  "Down at the game. He's got a date." I yawned. I was yawning all over the place. For one thing, the room was too damn hot. It made you sleepy. At Pencey, you either froze to death or died of the heat.
  "The great Stradlater," Ackley said. "--Hey. Lend me your scissors a second, willya? Ya got 'em handy?"
  "No. I packed them already. They're way in the top of the closet."
  "Get 'em a second, willya?" Ackley said, "I got this hangnail I want to cut off."
  He didn't care if you'd packed something or not and had it way in the top of the closet. I got them for him though. I nearly got killed doing it, too. The second I opened the closet door, Stradlater's tennis racket--in its wooden press and all--fell right on my head. It made a big clunk, and it hurt like hell. It damn near killed old Ackley, though. He started laughing in this very high falsetto voice. He kept laughing the whole time I was taking down my suitcase and getting the scissors out for him. Something like that--a guy getting hit on the head with a rock or something--tickled the pants off Ackley. "You have a damn good sense of humor, Ackley kid," I told him. "You know that?" I handed him the scissors. "Lemme be your manager. I'll get you on the goddam radio." I sat down in my chair again, and he started cutting his big horny-looking nails. "How 'bout using the table or something?" I said. "Cut 'em over the table, willya? I don't feel like walking on your crumby nails in my bare feet tonight." He kept right on cutting them over the floor, though. What lousy manners. I mean it.
  "Who's Stradlater's date?" he said. He was always keeping tabs on who Stradlater was dating, even though he hated Stradlater's guts.
  "I don't know. Why?"
  "No reason. Boy, I can't stand that sonuvabitch. He's one sonuvabitch I really can't stand."
  "He's crazy about you. He told me he thinks you're a goddam prince," I said. I call people a "prince" quite often when I'm horsing around. It keeps me from getting bored or something.
  "He's got this superior attitude all the time," Ackley said. "I just can't stand the sonuvabitch. You'd think he--"
  "Do you mind cutting your nails over the table, hey?" I said. "I've asked you about fifty--"
  "He's got this goddam superior attitude all the time," Ackley said. "I don't even think the sonuvabitch is intelligent. He thinks he is. He thinks he's about the most--"
  "Ackley! For Chrissake. Willya please cut your crumby nails over the table? I've asked you fifty times."
  He started cutting his nails over the table, for a change. The only way he ever did anything was if you yelled at him.
  I watched him for a while. Then I said, "The reason you're sore at Stradlater is because he said that stuff about brushing your teeth once in a while. He didn't mean to insult you, for cryin' out loud. He didn't say it right or anything, but he didn't mean anything insulting. All he meant was you'd look better and feel better if you sort of brushed your teeth once in a while."
  "I brush my teeth. Don't gimme that."
  "No, you don't. I've seen you, and you don't," I said. I didn't say it nasty, though. I felt sort of sorry for him, in a way. I mean it isn't too nice, naturally, if somebody tells you you don't brush your teeth. "Stradlater's all right He's not too bad," I said. "You don't know him, thats the trouble."
  "I still say he's a sonuvabitch. He's a conceited sonuvabitch."
    "He's conceited, but he's very generous in some things. He really is," I said. "Look. Suppose, for instance, Stradlater was wearing a tie or something that you liked. Say he had a tie on that you liked a helluva lot--I'm just giving you an example, now. You know what he'd do? He'd probably take it off and give it ta you. He really would. Or--you know what he'd do? He'd leave it on your bed or something. But he'd give you the goddam tie. Most guys would probably just--"
  "Hell," Ackley said. "If I had his dough, I would, too."
  "No, you wouldn't." I shook my head. "No, you wouldn't, Ackley kid. If you had his dough, you'd be one of the biggest--"
  "Stop calling me 'Ackley kid,' God damn it. I'm old enough to be your lousy father."
  "No, you're not." Boy, he could really be aggravating sometimes. He never missed a chance to let you know you were sixteen and he was eighteen. "In the first place, I wouldn't let you in my goddam family," I said.
  "Well, just cut out calling me--"
  All of a sudden the door opened, and old Stradlater barged in, in a big hurry. He was always in a big hurry. Everything was a very big deal. He came over to me and gave me these two playful as hell slaps on both cheeks--which is something that can be very annoying. 'Listen," he said. "You going out anywheres special tonight?"
  "I don't know. I might. What the hell's it doing out--snowing?" He had snow all over his coat.
  "Yeah. Listen. If you're not going out anyplace special, how 'bout lending me your hound's-tooth jacket?"
  "Who won the game?" I said.
  "It's only the half. We're leaving," Stradlater said. "No kidding, you gonna use your hound's-tooth tonight or not? I spilled some crap all over my gray flannel."
  "No, but I don't want you stretching it with your goddam shoulders and all," I said. We were practically the same heighth, but he weighed about twice as much as I did. He had these very broad shoulders.
  "I won't stretch it." He went over to the closet in a big hurry. "How'sa boy, Ackley?" he said to Ackley. He was at least a pretty friendly guy, Stradlater. It was partly a phony kind of friendly, but at least he always said hello to Ackley and all.
  Ackley just sort of grunted when he said "How'sa boy?" He wouldn't answer him, but he didn't have guts enough not to at least grunt. Then he said to me, "I think I'll get going. See ya later."
  "Okay," I said. He never exactly broke your heart when he went back to his own room.
  Old Stradlater started taking off his coat and tie and all. "I think maybe I'll take a fast shave," he said. He had a pretty heavy beard. He really did.
  "Where's your date?" I asked him.
  "She's waiting in the Annex." He went out of the room with his toilet kit and towel under his arm. No shirt on or anything. He always walked around in his bare torso because he thought he had a damn good build. He did, too. I have to admit it.
  

4
  I didn't have anything special to do, so I went down to the can and chewed the rag with him while he was shaving. We were the only ones in the can, because everybody was still down at the game. It was hot as hell and the windows were all steamy. There were about ten washbowls, all right against the wall. Stradlater had the middle one. I sat down on the one right next to him and started turning the cold water on and off--this nervous habit I have. Stradlater kept whistling 'Song of India" while he shaved. He had one of those very piercing whistles that are practically never in tune, and he always picked out some song that's hard to whistle even if you're a good whistler, like "Song of India" or "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." He could really mess a song up.
  You remember I said before that Ackley was a slob in his personal habits? Well, so was Stradlater, but in a different way. Stradlater was more of a secret slob. He always looked all right, Stradlater, but for instance, you should've seen the razor he shaved himself with. It was always rusty as hell and full of lather and hairs and crap. He never cleaned it or anything. He always looked good when he was finished fixing himself up, but he was a secret slob anyway, if you knew him the way I did. The reason he fixed himself up to look good was because he was madly in love with himself. He thought he was the handsomest guy in the Western Hemisphere. He was pretty handsome, too--I'll admit it. But he was mostly the kind of a handsome guy that if your parents saw his picture in your Year Book, they'd right away say, "Who's this boy?" I mean he was mostly a Year Book kind of handsome guy. I knew a lot of guys at Pencey I thought were a lot handsomer than Stradlater, but they wouldn't look handsome if you saw their pictures in the Year Book. They'd look like they had big noses or their ears stuck out. I've had that experience frequently.
  Anyway, I was sitting on the washbowl next to where Stradlater was shaving, sort of turning the water on and off. I still had my red hunting hat on, with the peak around to the back and all. I really got a bang out of that hat.
  "Hey," Stradlater said. "Wanna do me a big favor?"
  "What?" I said. Not too enthusiastic. He was always asking you to do him a big favor. You take a very handsome guy, or a guy that thinks he's a real hot-shot, and they're always asking you to do them a big favor. Just because they're crazy about themseif, they think you're crazy about them, too, and that you're just dying to do them a favor. It's sort of funny, in a way.
  "You goin' out tonight?" he said.
  "I might. I might not. I don't know. Why?"
  "I got about a hundred pages to read for history for Monday," he said. "How 'bout writing a composition for me, for English? I'll be up the creek if I don't get the goddam thing in by Monday, the reason I ask. How 'bout it?"
  It was very ironical. It really was.
  "I'm the one that's flunking out of the goddam place, and you're asking me to write you a goddam composition," I said.
  "Yeah, I know. The thing is, though, I'll be up the creek if I don't get it in. Be a buddy. Be a buddyroo. Okay?"
  I didn't answer him right away. Suspense is good for some bastards like Stradlater.
  "What on?" I said.
    "Anything. Anything descriptive. A room. Or a house. Or something you once lived in or something-- you know. Just as long as it's descriptive as hell." He gave out a big yawn while he said that. Which is something that gives me a royal pain in the ass. I mean if somebody yawns right while they're asking you to do them a goddam favor. "Just don't do it too good, is all," he said. "That sonuvabitch Hartzell thinks you're a hot-shot in English, and he knows you're my roommate. So I mean don't stick all the commas and stuff in the right place."
  That's something else that gives me a royal pain. I mean if you're good at writing compositions and somebody starts talking about commas. Stradlater was always doing that. He wanted you to think that the only reason he was lousy at writing compositions was because he stuck all the commas in the wrong place. He was a little bit like Ackley, that way. I once sat next to Ackley at this basketball game. We had a terrific guy on the team, Howie Coyle, that could sink them from the middle of the floor, without even touching the backboard or anything. Ackley kept saying, the whole goddam game, that Coyle had a perfect build for basketball. God, how I hate that stuff.
  I got bored sitting on that washbowl after a while, so I backed up a few feet and started doing this tap dance, just for the hell of it. I was just amusing myself. I can't really tap-dance or anything, but it was a stone floor in the can, and it was good for tap-dancing. I started imitating one of those guys in the movies. In one of those musicals. I hate the movies like poison, but I get a bang imitating them. Old Stradlater watched me in the mirror while he was shaving. All I need's an audience. I'm an exhibitionist. "I'm the goddarn Governor's son," I said. I was knocking myself out. Tap-dancing all over the place. "He doesn't want me to be a tap dancer. He wants me to go to Oxford. But it's in my goddam blood, tap-dancing." Old Stradlater laughed. He didn't have too bad a sense of humor. "It's the opening night of the Ziegfeld Follies." I was getting out of breath. I have hardly any wind at all. "The leading man can't go on. He's drunk as a bastard. So who do they get to take his place? Me, that's who. The little ole goddam Governor's son."
  "Where'dja get that hat?" Stradlater said. He meant my hunting hat. He'd never seen it before.
  I was out of breath anyway, so I quit horsing around. I took off my hat and looked at it for about the ninetieth time. "I got it in New York this morning. For a buck. Ya like it?"
  Stradlater nodded. "Sharp," he said. He was only flattering me, though, because right away he said, "Listen. Are ya gonna write that composition for me? I have to know."
  "If I get the time, I will. If I don't, I won't," I said. I went over and sat down at the washbowl next to him again. "Who's your date?" I asked him. "Fitzgerald?"
  "Hell, no! I told ya. I'm through with that pig."
  "Yeah? Give her to me, boy. No kidding. She's my type."
  "Take her . . . She's too old for you."
  All of a sudden--for no good reason, really, except that I was sort of in the mood for horsing around--I felt like jumping off the washbowl and getting old Stradlater in a half nelson. That's a wrestling hold, in case you don't know, where you get the other guy around the neck and choke him to death, if you feel like it. So I did it. I landed on him like a goddam panther.
  "Cut it out, Holden, for Chrissake!" Stradlater said. He didn't feel like horsing around. He was shaving and all. "Wuddaya wanna make me do--cut my goddam head off?"
  I didn't let go, though. I had a pretty good half nelson on him. "Liberate yourself from my viselike grip." I said.
  "Je-sus Christ." He put down his razor, and all of a sudden jerked his arms up and sort of broke my hold on him. He was a very strong guy. I'm a very weak guy. "Now, cut out the crap," he said. He started shaving himself all over again. He always shaved himself twice, to look gorgeous. With his crumby old razor.
  "Who is your date if it isn't Fitzgerald?" I asked him. I sat down on the washbowl next to him again. "That Phyllis Smith babe?"
  "No. It was supposed to he, but the arrangements got all screwed up. I got Bud Thaw's girl's roommate now . . . Hey. I almost forgot. She knows you."
  "Who does?" I said.
  "My date."
  "Yeah?" I said. "What's her name?" I was pretty interested.
  "I'm thinking . . . Uh. Jean Gallagher."
  Boy, I nearly dropped dead when he said that.
  "Jane Gallagher," I said. I even got up from the washbowl when he said that. I damn near dropped dead. "You're damn right I know her. She practically lived right next door to me, the summer before last. She had this big damn Doberman pinscher. That's how I met her. Her dog used to keep coming over in our--"
  "You're right in my light, Holden, for Chrissake," Stradlater said. "Ya have to stand right there?"
  Boy, was I excited, though. I really was.
  "Where is she?" I asked him. "I oughta go down and say hello to her or something. Where is she? In the Annex?"
  "Yeah."
  "How'd she happen to mention me? Does she go to B.M. now? She said she might go there. She said she might go to Shipley, too. I thought she went to Shipley. How'd she happen to mention me?" I was pretty excited. I really was.
  "I don't know, for Chrissake. Lift up, willya? You're on my towel," Stradlater said. I was sitting on his stupid towel.
  "Jane Gallagher," I said. I couldn't get over it. "Jesus H. Christ."
  Old Stradlater was putting Vitalis on his hair. My Vitalis.
  "She's a dancer," I said. "Ballet and all. She used to practice about two hours every day, right in the middle of the hottest weather and all. She was worried that it might make her legs lousy--all thick and all. I used to play checkers with her all the time."
  "You used to play what with her all the time?"
  "Checkers."
  "Checkers, for Chrissake!"
  "Yeah. She wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do, when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it. She'd just leave it in the back row. She'd get them all lined up in the back row. Then she'd never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row."
  Stradlater didn't say anything. That kind of stuff doesn't interest most people.
    "Her mother belonged to the same club we did," I said. "I used to caddy once in a while, just to make some dough. I caddy'd for her mother a couple of times. She went around in about a hundred and seventy, for nine holes."
  Stradlater wasn't hardly listening. He was combing his gorgeous locks.
  "I oughta go down and at least say hello to her," I said.
  "Why don'tcha?"
  "I will, in a minute."
  He started parting his hair all over again. It took him about an hour to comb his hair.
  "Her mother and father were divorced. Her mother was married again to some booze hound," I said. "Skinny guy with hairy legs. I remember him. He wore shorts all the time. Jane said he was supposed to be a playwright or some goddam thing, but all I ever saw him do was booze all the time and listen to every single goddam mystery program on the radio. And run around the goddam house, naked. With Jane around, and all."
  "Yeah?" Stradlater said. That really interested him. About the booze hound running around the house naked, with Jane around. Stradlater was a very sexy bastard.
  "She had a lousy childhood. I'm not kidding."
  That didn't interest Stradlater, though. Only very sexy stuff interested him.
  "Jane Gallagher. Jesus . . . I couldn't get her off my mind. I really couldn't. "I oughta go down and say hello to her, at least."
  "Why the hell don'tcha, instead of keep saying it?" Stradlater said.
  I walked over to the window, but you couldn't see out of it, it was so steamy from all the heat in the can.. "I'm not in the mood right now," I said. I wasn't, either. You have to be in the mood for those things. "I thought she went to Shipley. I could've sworn she went to Shipley." I walked around the can for a little while. I didn't have anything else to do. "Did she enjoy the game?" I said.
  "Yeah, I guess so. I don't know."
  "Did she tell you we used to play checkers all the time, or anything?"
  "I don't know. For Chrissake, I only just met her," Stradlater said. He was finished combing his goddam gorgeous hair. He was putting away all his crumby toilet articles.
  "Listen. Give her my regards, willya?"
  "Okay," Stradlater said, but I knew he probably wouldn't. You take a guy like Stradlater, they never give your regards to people.
  He went back to the room, but I stuck around in the can for a while, thinking about old Jane. Then I went back to the room, too.
  Stradlater was putting on his tie, in front of the mirror, when I got there. He spent around half his goddam life in front of the mirror. I sat down in my chair and sort of watched him for a while.
  "Hey," I said. "Don't tell her I got kicked out, willya?"
  "Okay."
  That was one good thing about Stradlater. You didn't have to explain every goddam little thing with him, the way you had to do with Ackley. Mostly, I guess, because he wasn't too interested. That's really why. Ackley, it was different. Ackley was a very nosy bastard.
  He put on my hound's-tooth jacket.
  "Jesus, now, try not to stretch it all over the place" I said. I'd only worn it about twice.
  "I won't. Where the hell's my cigarettes?"
  "On the desk." He never knew where he left anything. "Under your muffler." He put them in his coat pocket--my coat pocket.
  I pulled the peak of my hunting hat around to the front all of a sudden, for a change. I was getting sort of nervous, all of a sudden. I'm quite a nervous guy. "Listen, where ya going on your date with her?" I asked him. "Ya know yet?"
  "I don't know. New York, if we have time. She only signed out for nine-thirty, for Chrissake."
  I didn't like the way he said it, so I said, "The reason she did that, she probably just didn't know what a handsome, charming bastard you are. If she'd known, she probably would've signed out for nine-thirty in the morning."
  "Goddam right," Stradlater said. You couldn't rile him too easily. He was too conceited. "No kidding, now. Do that composition for me," he said. He had his coat on, and he was all ready to go. "Don't knock yourself out or anything, but just make it descriptive as hell. Okay?"
  I didn't answer him. I didn't feel like it. All I said was, "Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row."
  "Okay," Stradlater said, but I knew he wouldn't. "Take it easy, now." He banged the hell out of the room.
  I sat there for about a half hour after he left. I mean I just sat in my chair, not doing anything. I kept thinking about Jane, and about Stradlater having a date with her and all. It made me so nervous I nearly went crazy. I already told you what a sexy bastard Stradlater was.
  All of a sudden, Ackley barged back in again, through the damn shower curtains, as usual. For once in my stupid life, I was really glad to see him. He took my mind off the other stuff.
  He stuck around till around dinnertime, talking about all the guys at Pencey that he hated their guts, and squeezing this big pimple on his chin. He didn't even use his handkerchief. I don't even think the bastard had a handkerchief, if you want to know the truth. I never saw him use one, anyway.
  

5
  We always had the same meal on Saturday nights at Pencey. It was supposed to be a big deal, because they gave you steak. I'll bet a thousand bucks the reason they did that was because a lot of guys' parents came up to school on Sunday, and old Thurmer probably figured everybody's mother would ask their darling boy what he had for dinner last night, and he'd say, "Steak." What a racket. You should've seen the steaks. They were these little hard, dry jobs that you could hardly even cut. You always got these very lumpy mashed potatoes on steak night, and for dessert you got Brown Betty, which nobody ate, except maybe the little kids in the lower school that didn't know any better--and guys like Ackley that ate everything.
    It was nice, though, when we got out of the dining room. There were about three inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down like a madman. It looked pretty as hell, and we all started throwing snowballs and horsing around all over the place. It was very childish, but everybody was really enjoying themselves.
  I didn't have a date or anything, so I and this friend of mine, Mal Brossard, that was on the wrestling team, decided we'd take a bus into Agerstown and have a hamburger and maybe see a lousy movie. Neither of us felt like sitting around on our ass all night. I asked Mal if he minded if Ackley came along with us. The reason I asked was because Ackley never did anything on Saturday night, except stay in his room and squeeze his pimples or something. Mal said he didn't mind but that he wasn't too crazy about the idea. He didn't like Ackley much. Anyway, we both went to our rooms to get ready and all, and while I was putting on my galoshes and crap, I yelled over and asked old Ackley if he wanted to go to the movies. He could hear me all right through the shower curtains, but he didn't answer me right away. He was the kind of a guy that hates to answer you right away. Finally he came over, through the goddam curtains, and stood on the shower ledge and asked who was going besides me. He always had to know who was going. I swear, if that guy was shipwrecked somewhere, and you rescued him in a goddam boat, he'd want to know who the guy was that was rowing it before he'd even get in. I told him Mal Brossard was going. He said, "That bastard . . . All right. Wait a second." You'd think he was doing you a big favor.
  It took him about five hours to get ready. While he was doing it, I went over to my window and opened it and packed a snowball with my bare hands. The snow was very good for packing. I didn't throw it at anything, though. I started to throw it. At a car that was parked across the street. But I changed my mind. The car looked so nice and white. Then I started to throw it at a hydrant, but that looked too nice and white, too. Finally I didn't throw it at anything. All I did was close the window and walk around the room with the snowball, packing it harder. A little while later, I still had it with me when I and Brossnad and Ackley got on the bus. The bus driver opened the doors and made me throw it out. I told him I wasn't going to chuck it at anybody, but he wouldn't believe me. People never believe you.
  Brossard and Ackley both had seen the picture that was playing, so all we did, we just had a couple of hamburgers and played the pinball machine for a little while, then took the bus back to Pencey. I didn't care about not seeing the movie, anyway. It was supposed to be a comedy, with Cary Grant in it, and all that crap. Besides, I'd been to the movies with Brossard and Ackley before. They both laughed like hyenas at stuff that wasn't even funny. I didn't even enjoy sitting next to them in the movies.
  It was only about a quarter to nine when we got back to the dorm. Old Brossard was a bridge fiend, and he started looking around the dorm for a game. Old Ackley parked himself in my room, just for a change. Only, instead of sitting on the arm of Stradlater's chair, he laid down on my bed, with his face right on my pillow and all. He started talking in this very monotonous voice, and picking at all his pimples. I dropped about a thousand hints, but I couldn't get rid of him. All he did was keep talking in this very monotonous voice about some babe he was supposed to have had sexual intercourse with the summer before. He'd already told me about it about a hundred times. Every time he told it, it was different. One minute he'd be giving it to her in his cousin's Buick, the next minute he'd be giving it to her under some boardwalk. It was all a lot of crap,
  naturally. He was a virgin if ever I saw one. I doubt if he ever even gave anybody a feel. Anyway, finally I had to come right out and tell him that I had to write a composition for Stradlater, and that he had to clear the hell out, so I could concentrate. He finally did, but he took his time about it, as usual. After he left, I put on my pajamas and bathrobe and my old hunting hat, and started writing the composition.
  The thing was, I couldn't think of a room or a house or anything to describe the way Stradlater said he had to have. I'm not too crazy about describing rooms and houses anyway. So what I did, I wrote about my brother Allie's baseball mitt. It was a very descriptive subject. It really was. My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder's mitt. He was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it so that he'd have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat. He's dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946. You'd have liked him. He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent. He was terrifically intelligent. His teachers were always writing letters to my mother, telling her what a pleasure it was having a boy like Allie in their class. And they weren't just shooting the crap. They really meant it. But it wasn't just that he was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at anybody. People with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie never did, and he had very red hair. I'll tell you what kind of red hair he had. I started playing golf when I was only ten years old. I remember once, the summer I was around twelve, teeing off and all, and having a hunch that if I turned around all of a sudden, I'd see Allie. So I did, and sure enough, he was sitting on his bike outside the fence--there was this fence that went all around the course--and he was sitting there, about a hundred and fifty yards behind me, watching me tee off. That's the kind of red hair he had. God, he was a nice kid, though. He used to laugh so hard at something he thought of at the dinner table that he just about fell off his chair. I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don't blame them. I really don't. I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time, and I couldn't do it. It was a very stupid thing to do, I'll admit, but I hardly didn't even know I was doing it, and you didn't know Allie. My hand still hurts me once in a while when it rains and all, and I can't make a real fist any more--not a tight one, I mean--but outside of that I don't care much. I mean I'm not going to be a goddam surgeon or a violinist or anything anyway.
  Anyway, that's what I wrote Stradlater's composition about. Old Allie's baseball mitt. I happened to have it with me, in my suitcase, so I got it out and copied down the poems that were written on it. All I had to do was change Allie's name so that nobody would know it was my brother and not Stradlater's. I wasn't too crazy about doing it, but I couldn't think of anything else descriptive. Besides, I sort of liked writing about it. It took me about an hour, because I had to use Stradlater's lousy typewriter, and it kept jamming on me. The reason I didn't use my own was because I'd lent it to a guy down the hall.
  It was around ten-thirty, I guess, when I finished it. I wasn't tired, though, so I looked out the window for a while. It wasn't snowing out any more, but every once in a while you could hear a car somewhere not being able to get started. You could also hear
    old Ackley snoring. Right through the goddam shower curtains you could hear him. He had sinus trouble and he couldn't breathe too hot when he was asleep. That guy had just about everything. Sinus trouble, pimples, lousy teeth, halitosis, crumby fingernails. You had to feel a little sorry for the crazy sonuvabitch.
  

6
  Some things are hard to remember. I'm thinking now of when Stradlater got back from his date with Jane. I mean I can't remember exactly what I was doing when I heard his goddam stupid footsteps coming down the corridor. I probably was still looking out the window, but I swear I can't remember. I was so damn worried, that's why. When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go. If you knew Stradlater, you'd have been worried, too. I'd double-dated with that bastard a couple of times, and I know what I'm talking about. He was unscrupulous. He really was.
  Anyway, the corridor was all linoleum and all, and you could hear his goddam footsteps coming right towards the room. I don't even remember where I was sitting when he came in--at the window, or in my chair or his. I swear I can't remember.
  He came in griping about how cold it was out. Then he said, "Where the hell is everybody? It's like a goddam morgue around here." I didn't even bother to answer him. If he was so goddam stupid not to realize it was Saturday night and everybody was out or asleep or home for the week end, I wasn't going to break my neck telling him. He started getting undressed. He didn't say one goddam word about Jane. Not one. Neither did I. I just watched him. All he did was thank me for letting him wear my hound's-tooth. He hung it up on a hanger and put it in the closet.
  Then when he was taking off his tie, he asked me if I'd written his goddam composition for him. I told him it was over on his goddam bed. He walked over and read it while he was unbuttoning his shirt. He stood there, reading it, and sort of stroking his bare chest and stomach, with this very stupid expression on his face. He was always stroking his stomach or his chest. He was mad about himself.
  All of a sudden, he said, "For Chrissake, Holden. This is about a goddam baseball glove."
  "So what?" I said. Cold as hell.
  "Wuddaya mean so what? I told ya it had to be about a goddam room or a house or something."
  "You said it had to be descriptive. What the hell's the difference if it's about a baseball glove?"
  "God damn it." He was sore as hell. He was really furious. "You always do everything backasswards." He looked at me. "No wonder you're flunking the hell out of here," he said. "You don't do one damn thing the way you're supposed to. I mean it. Not one damn thing."
  "All right, give it back to me, then," I said. I went over and pulled it right out of his goddam hand. Then I tore it up.
  "What the hellja do that for?" he said.
  I didn't even answer him. I just threw the pieces in the wastebasket. Then I lay down on my bed, and we both didn't say anything for a long time. He got all undressed, down to his shorts, and I lay on my bed and lit a cigarette. You weren't allowed to smoke in the dorm, but you could do it late at night when everybody was asleep or out and nobody could smell the smoke. Besides, I did it to annoy Stradlater. It drove him crazy when you broke any rules. He never smoked in the dorm. It was only me.
  He still didn't say one single solitary word about Jane. So finally I said, "You're back pretty goddam late if she only signed out for nine-thirty. Did you make her be late signing in?"
  He was sitting on the edge of his bed, cutting his goddam toenails, when I asked him that. "Coupla minutes," he said. "Who the hell signs out for nine-thirty on a Saturday night?" God, how I hated him.
  "Did you go to New York?" I said.
  "Ya crazy? How the hell could we go to New York if she only signed out for nine-thirty?"
  "That's tough."
  He looked up at me. "Listen," he said, "if you're gonna smoke in the room, how 'bout going down to the can and do it? You may be getting the hell out of here, but I have to stick around long enough to graduate."
  I ignored him. I really did. I went right on smoking like a madman. All I did was sort of turn over on my side and watched him cut his damn toenails. What a school. You were always watching somebody cut their damn toenails or squeeze their pimples or something.
  "Did you give her my regards?" I asked him.
  "Yeah."
  The hell he did, the bastard.
  "What'd she say?" I said. "Did you ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row?"
  "No, I didn't ask her. What the hell ya think we did all night--play checkers, for Chrissake?"
  I didn't even answer him. God, how I hated him.
  "If you didn't go to New York, where'd ya go with her?" I asked him, after a little while. I could hardly keep my voice from shaking all over the place. Boy, was I getting nervous. I just had a feeling something had gone funny.
  He was finished cutting his damn toenails. So he got up from the bed, in just his damn shorts and all, and started getting very damn playful. He came over to my bed and started leaning over me and taking these playful as hell socks at my shoulder. "Cut it out," I said. "Where'd you go with her if you didn't go to New York?"
  "Nowhere. We just sat in the goddam car." He gave me another one of those playtul stupid little socks on the shoulder.
  "Cut it out," I said. "Whose car?"
  "Ed Banky's."
  Ed Banky was the basketball coach at Pencey. Old Stradlater was one of his pets, because he was the center on the team, and Ed Banky always let him borrow his car when he wanted it. It wasn't allowed for students to borrow faculty guys' cars, but all the
    athletic bastards stuck together. In every school I've gone to, all the athletic bastards stick together.
  Stradlater kept taking these shadow punches down at my shoulder. He had his toothbrush in his hand, and he put it in his mouth. "What'd you do?" I said. "Give her the time in Ed Banky's goddam car?" My voice was shaking something awful.
  "What a thing to say. Want me to wash your mouth out with soap?"
  "Did you?"
  "That's a professional secret, buddy."
  This next part I don't remember so hot. All I know is I got up from the bed, like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open. Only, I missed. I didn't connect. All I did was sort of get him on the side of the head or something. It probably hurt him a little bit, but not as much as I wanted. It probably would've hurt him a lot, but I did it with my right hand, and I can't make a good fist with that hand. On account of that injury I told you about.
  Anyway, the next thing I knew, I was on the goddam floor and he was sitting on my chest, with his face all red. That is, he had his goddam knees on my chest, and he weighed about a ton. He had hold of my wrists, too, so I couldn't take another sock at him. I'd've killed him.
  "What the hell's the matter with you?" he kept saying, and his stupid race kept getting redder and redder.
  "Get your lousy knees off my chest," I told him. I was almost bawling. I really was. "Go on, get off a me, ya crumby bastard."
  He wouldn't do it, though. He kept holding onto my wrists and I kept calling him a sonuvabitch and all, for around ten hours. I can hardly even remember what all I said to him. I told him he thought he could give the time to anybody he felt like. I told him he didn't even care if a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not, and the reason he didn't care was because he was a goddam stupid moron. He hated it when you called a moron. All morons hate it when you call them a moron.
  "Shut up, now, Holden," he said with his big stupid red face. "just shut up, now."
  "You don't even know if her first name is Jane or Jean, ya goddam moron!"
  "Now, shut up, Holden, God damn it--I'm warning ya," he said--I really had him going. "If you don't shut up, I'm gonna slam ya one."
  "Get your dirty stinking moron knees off my chest."
  "If I letcha up, will you keep your mouth shut?"
  I didn't even answer him.
  He said it over again. "Holden. If I letcha up, willya keep your mouth shut?"
  "Yes."
  He got up off me, and I got up, too. My chest hurt like hell from his dirty knees. "You're a dirty stupid sonuvabitch of a moron," I told him.
  That got him really mad. He shook his big stupid finger in my face. "Holden, God damn it, I'm warning you, now. For the last time. If you don't keep your yap shut, I'm gonna--"
  "Why should I?" I said--I was practically yelling. "That's just the trouble with all you morons. You never want to discuss anything. That's the way you can always tell a moron. They never want to discuss anything intellig--"
  Then he really let one go at me, and the next thing I knew I was on the goddam floor again. I don't remember if he knocked me out or not, but I don't think so. It's pretty hard to knock a guy out, except in the goddam movies. But my nose was bleeding all over the place. When I looked up old Stradlater was standing practically right on top of me. He had his goddam toilet kit under his arm. "Why the hell don'tcha shut up when I tellya to?" he said. He sounded pretty nervous. He probably was scared he'd fractured my skull or something when I hit the floor. It's too bad I didn't. "You asked for it, God damn it," he said. Boy, did he look worried.
  I didn't even bother to get up. I just lay there in the floor for a while, and kept calling him a moron sonuvabitch. I was so mad, I was practically bawling.
  "Listen. Go wash your face," Stradlater said. "Ya hear me?"
  I told him to go wash his own moron face--which was a pretty childish thing to say, but I was mad as hell. I told him to stop off on the way to the can and give Mrs. Schmidt the time. Mrs. Schmidt was the janitor's wife. She was around sixty-five.
  I kept sitting there on the floor till I heard old Stradlater close the door and go down the corridor to the can. Then I got up. I couldn't find my goddam hunting hat anywhere. Finally I found it. It was under the bed. I put it on, and turned the old peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I went over and took a look at my stupid face in the mirror. You never saw such gore in your life. I had blood all over my mouth and chin and even on my pajamas and bath robe. It partly scared me and it partly fascinated me. All that blood and all sort of made me look tough. I'd only been in about two fights in my life, and I lost both of them. I'm not too tough. I'm a pacifist, if you want to know the truth.
  I had a feeling old Ackley'd probably heard all the racket and was awake. So I went through the shower curtains into his room, just to see what the hell he was doing. I hardly ever went over to his room. It always had a funny stink in it, because he was so crumby in his personal habits.
  

7
  A tiny bit of light came through the shower curtains and all from our room, and I could see him lying in bed. I knew damn well he was wide awake. "Ackley?" I said. "Y'awake?"
  "Yeah."
  It was pretty dark, and I stepped on somebody's shoe on the floor and danm near fell on my head. Ackley sort of sat up in bed and leaned on his arm. He had a lot of white stuff on his face, for his pimples. He looked sort of spooky in the dark. "What the hellya doing, anyway?" I said.
  "Wuddaya mean what the hell am I doing? I was tryna sleep before you guys started making all that noise. What the hell was the fight about, anyhow?"
  "Where's the light?" I couldn't find the light. I was sliding my hand all over the wall.
  "Wuddaya want the light for? . . . Right next to your hand."
  I finally found the switch and turned It on. Old Ackley put his hand up so the light wouldn't hurt his eyes.
    "Jesus!" he said. "What the hell happened to you?" He meant all the blood and all.
  "I had a little goddam tiff with Stradlater," I said. Then I sat down on the floor. They never had any chairs in their room. I don't know what the hell they did with their chairs. "Listen," I said, "do you feel like playing a little Canasta?" He was a Canasta fiend.
  "You're still bleeding, for Chrissake. You better put something on it."
  "It'll stop. Listen. Ya wanna play a little Canasta or don'tcha?"
  "Canasta, for Chrissake. Do you know what time it is, by any chance?"
  "It isn't late. It's only around eleven, eleven-thirty."
  "Only around!" Ackley said. "Listen. I gotta get up and go to Mass in the morning, for Chrissake. You guys start hollering and fighting in the middle of the goddam--What the hell was the fight about, anyhow?"
  "It's a long story. I don't wanna bore ya, Ackley. I'm thinking of your welfare," I told him. I never discussed my personal life with him. In the first place, he was even more stupid than Stradlater. Stradlater was a goddam genius next to Ackley. "Hey," I said, "is it okay if I sleep in Ely's bed tonight? He won't be back till tomorrow night, will he?" I knew damn well he wouldn't. Ely went home damn near every week end.
  "I don't know when the hell he's coming back," Ackley said.
  Boy, did that annoy me. "What the hell do you mean you don't know when he's coming back? He never comes back till Sunday night, does he?"
  "No, but for Chrissake, I can't just tell somebody they can sleep in his goddam bed if they want to."
  That killed me. I reached up from where I was sitting on the floor and patted him on the goddam shoulder. "You're a prince, Ackley kid," I said. "You know that?"
  "No, I mean it--I can't just tell somebody they can sleep in--"
  "You're a real prince. You're a gentleman and a scholar, kid," I said. He really was, too. "Do you happen to have any cigarettes, by any chance?--Say 'no' or I'll drop dead."
  "No, I don't, as a matter of fact. Listen, what the hell was the fight about?"
  I didn't answer him. All I did was, I got up and went over and looked out the window. I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead.
  "What the hell was the fight about, anyhow?" Ackley said, for about the fiftieth time. He certainly was a bore about that.
  "About you," I said.
  "About me, for Chrissake?"
  "Yeah. I was defending your goddam honor. Stradlater said you had a lousy personality. I couldn't let him get away with that stuff."
  That got him excited. "He did? No kidding? He did?"
  I told him I was only kidding, and then I went over and laid down on Ely's bed. Boy, did I feel rotten. I felt so damn lonesome.
  "This room stinks," I said. "I can smell your socks from way over here. Don'tcha ever send them to the laundry?"
  "If you don't like it, you know what you can do," Ackley said. What a witty guy. "How 'bout turning off the goddam light?"
  I didn't turn it off right away, though. I just kept laying there on Ely's bed, thinking about Jane and all. It just drove me stark staring mad when I thought about her
  and Stradlater parked somewhere in that fat-assed Ed Banky's car. Every time I thought about it, I felt like jumping out the window. The thing is, you didn't know Stradlater. I knew him. Most guys at Pencey just talked about having sexual intercourse with girls all the time--like Ackley, for instance--but old Stradlater really did it. I was personally acquainted with at least two girls he gave the time to. That's the truth.
  "Tell me the story of your fascinating life, Ackley kid," I said.
  "How 'bout turning off the goddam light? I gotta get up for Mass in the morning."
  I got up and turned it off, if it made him happy. Then I laid down on Ely's bed again.
  "What're ya gonna do--sleep in Ely's bed?" Ackley said. He was the perfect host, boy.
  "I may. I may not. Don't worry about it."
  "I'm not worried about it. Only, I'd hate like hell if Ely came in all of a sudden and found some guy--"
  "Relax. I'm not gonna sleep here. I wouldn't abuse your goddam hospitality."
  A couple of minutes later, he was snoring like mad. I kept laying there in the dark anyway, though, trying not to think about old Jane and Stradlater in that goddam Ed Banky's car. But it was almost impossible. The trouble was, I knew that guy Stradlater's technique. That made it even worse. We once double-dated, in Ed Banky's car, and Stradlater was in the back, with his date, and I was in the front with mine. What a technique that guy had. What he'd do was, he'd start snowing his date in this very quiet, sincere voice--like as if he wasn't only a very handsome guy but a nice, sincere guy, too. I damn near puked, listening to him. His date kept saying, "No--please. Please, don't. Please." But old Stradlater kept snowing her in this Abraham Lincoln, sincere voice, and finally there'd be this terrific silence in the back of the car. It was really embarrassing. I don't think he gave that girl the time that night--but damn near. Damn near.
  While I was laying there trying not to think, I heard old Stradlater come back from the can and go in our room. You could hear him putting away his crumby toilet articles and all, and opening the window. He was a fresh-air fiend. Then, a little while later, he turned off the light. He didn't even look around to see where I was at.
  It was even depressing out in the street. You couldn't even hear any cars any more. I got feeling so lonesome and rotten, I even felt like waking Ackley up.
  "Hey, Ackley," I said, in sort of a whisper, so Stradlater couldn't hear me through the shower curtain.
  Ackley didn't hear me, though.
  "Hey, Ackley!"
  He still didn't hear me. He slept like a rock.
  "Hey, Ackley!"
  He heard that, all right.
  "What the hell's the matter with you?" he said. "I was asleep, for Chrissake."
  "Listen. What's the routine on joining a monastery?" I asked him. I was sort of toying with the idea of joining one. "Do you have to be a Catholic and all?"
  "Certainly you have to be a Catholic. You bastard, did you wake me just to ask me a dumb ques--"
    "Aah, go back to sleep. I'm not gonna join one anyway. The kind of luck I have, I'd probably join one with all the wrong kind of monks in it. All stupid bastards. Or just bastards."
  When I said that, old Ackley sat way the hell up in bed. "Listen," he said, "I don't care what you say about me or anything, but if you start making cracks about my goddam religion, for Chrissake--"
  "Relax," I said. "Nobody's making any cracks about your goddam religion." I got up off Ely's bed, and started towards the door. I didn't want to hang around in that stupid atmosphere any more. I stopped on the way, though, and picked up Ackley's hand, and gave him a big, phony handshake. He pulled it away from me. "What's the idea?" he said.
  "No idea. I just want to thank you for being such a goddam prince, that's all," I said. I said it in this very sincere voice. "You're aces, Ackley kid," I said. "You know that?"
  "Wise guy. Someday somebody's gonna bash your--"
  I didn't even bother to listen to him. I shut the damn door and went out in the corridor.
  Everybody was asleep or out or home for the week end, and it was very, very quiet and depressing in the corridor. There was this empty box of Kolynos toothpaste outside Leahy and Hoffman's door, and while I walked down towards the stairs, I kept giving it a boot with this sheep-lined slipper I had on. What I thought I'd do, I thought I might go down and see what old Mal Brossard was doing. But all of a sudden, I changed my mind. All of a sudden, I decided what I'd really do, I'd get the hell out of Pencey--right that same night and all. I mean not wait till Wednesday or anything. I just didn't want to hang around any more. It made me too sad and lonesome. So what I decided to do, I decided I'd take a room in a hotel in New York--some very inexpensive hotel and all--and just take it easy till Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday, I'd go home all rested up and feeling swell. I figured my parents probably wouldn't get old Thurmer's letter saying I'd been given the ax till maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. I didn't want to go home or anything till they got it and thoroughly digested it and all. I didn't want to be around when they first got it. My mother gets very hysterical. She's not too bad after she gets something thoroughly digested, though. Besides, I sort of needed a little vacation. My nerves were shot. They really were.
  Anyway, that's what I decided I'd do. So I went back to the room and turned on the light, to start packing and all. I already had quite a few things packed. Old Stradlater didn't even wake up. I lit a cigarette and got all dressed and then I packed these two Gladstones I have. It only took me about two minutes. I'm a very rapid packer.
  One thing about packing depressed me a little. I had to pack these brand-new ice skates my mother had practically just sent me a couple of days before. That depressed me. I could see my mother going in Spaulding's and asking the salesman a million dopy questions--and here I was getting the ax again. It made me feel pretty sad. She bought me the wrong kind of skates--I wanted racing skates and she bought hockey--but it made me sad anyway. Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.
  After I got all packed, I sort of counted my dough. I don't remember exactly how much I had, but I was pretty loaded. My grandmother'd just sent me a wad about a week before. I have this grandmother that's quite lavish with her dough. She doesn't have all her marbles any more--she's old as hell--and she keeps sending me money for my
  birthday about four times a year. Anyway, even though I was pretty loaded, I figured I could always use a few extra bucks. You never know. So what I did was, I went down the hail and woke up Frederick Woodruff, this guy I'd lent my typewriter to. I asked him how much he'd give me for it. He was a pretty wealthy guy. He said he didn't know. He said he didn't much want to buy it. Finally he bought it, though. It cost about ninety bucks, and all he bought it for was twenty. He was sore because I'd woke him up.
  When I was all set to go, when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs and took a last look down the goddam corridor. I was sort of crying. I don't know why. I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, "Sleep tight, ya morons!" I'll bet I woke up every bastard on the whole floor. Then I got the hell out. Some stupid guy had thrown peanut shells all over the stairs, and I damn near broke my crazy neck.
  

8
  It was too late to call up for a cab or anything, so I walked the whole way to the station. It wasn't too far, but it was cold as hell, and the snow made it hard for walking, and my Gladstones kept banging hell out of my legs. I sort of enjoyed the air and all, though. The only trouble was, the cold made my nose hurt, and right under my upper lip, where old Stradlater'd laid one on me. He'd smacked my lip right on my teeth, and it was pretty sore. My ears were nice and warm, though. That hat I bought had earlaps in it, and I put them on--I didn't give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway. Everybody was in the sack.
  I was quite lucky when I got to the station, because I only had to wait about ten minutes for a train. While I waited, I got some snow in my hand and washed my face with it. I still had quite a bit of blood on.
  Usually I like riding on trains, especially at night, with the lights on and the windows so black, and one of those guys coming up the aisle selling coffee and sandwiches and magazines. I usually buy a ham sandwich and about four magazines. If I'm on a train at night, I can usually even read one of those dumb stories in a magazine without puking. You know. One of those stories with a lot of phony, lean-jawed guys named David in it, and a lot of phony girls named Linda or Marcia that are always lighting all the goddam Davids' pipes for them. I can even read one of those lousy stories on a train at night, usually. But this time, it was different. I just didn't feel like it. I just sort of sat and not did anything. All I did was take off my hunting hat and put it in my pocket.
  All of a sudden, this lady got on at Trenton and sat down next to me. Practically the whole car was empty, because it was pretty late and all, but she sat down next to me, instead of an empty seat, because she had this big bag with her and I was sitting in the front seat. She stuck the bag right out in the middle of the aisle, where the conductor and everybody could trip over it. She had these orchids on, like she'd just been to a big party or something. She was around forty or forty-five, I guess, but she was very good looking. Women kill me. They really do. I don't mean I'm oversexed or anything like that--although I am quite sexy. I just like them, I mean. They're always leaving their goddam bags out in the middle of the aisle.
    Anyway, we were sitting there, and all of a sudden she said to me, "Excuse me, but isn't that a Pencey Prep sticker?" She was looking up at my suitcases, up on the rack.
  "Yes, it is," I said. She was right. I did have a goddam Pencey sticker on one of my Gladstones. Very corny, I'll admit.
  "Oh, do you go to Pencey?" she said. She had a nice voice. A nice telephone voice, mostly. She should've carried a goddam telephone around with her.
  "Yes, I do," I said.
  "Oh, how lovely! Perhaps you know my son, then, Ernest Morrow? He goes to Pencey."
  "Yes, I do. He's in my class."
  Her son was doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey, in the whole crumby history of the school. He was always going down the corridor, after he'd had a shower, snapping his soggy old wet towel at people's asses. That's exactly the kind of a guy he was.
  "Oh, how nice!" the lady said. But not corny. She was just nice and all. "I must tell Ernest we met," she said. "May I ask your name, dear?"
  "Rudolf Schmidt," I told her. I didn't feel like giving her my whole life history. Rudolf Schmidt was the name of the janitor of our dorm.
  "Do you like Pencey?" she asked me.
  "Pencey? It's not too bad. It's not paradise or anything, but it's as good as most schools. Some of the faculty are pretty conscientious."
  "Ernest just adores it."
  "I know he does," I said. Then I started shooting the old crap around a little bit. "He adapts himself very well to things. He really does. I mean he really knows how to adapt himself."
  "Do you think so?" she asked me. She sounded interested as hell.
  "Ernest? Sure," I said. Then I watched her take off her gloves. Boy, was she lousy with rocks.
  "I just broke a nail, getting out of a cab," she said. She looked up at me and sort of smiled. She had a terrifically nice smile. She really did. Most people have hardly any smile at all, or a lousy one. "Ernest's father and I sometimes worry about him," she said. "We sometimes feel he's not a terribly good mixer."
  "How do you mean?"
  "Well. He's a very sensitive boy. He's really never been a terribly good mixer with other boys. Perhaps he takes things a little more seriously than he should at his age."
  Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat.
  I gave her a good look. She didn't look like any dope to me. She looked like she might have a pretty damn good idea what a bastard she was the mother of. But you can't always tell--with somebody's mother, I mean. Mothers are all slightly insane. The thing is, though, I liked old Morrow's mother. She was all right. "Would you care for a cigarette?" I asked her.
  She looked all around. "I don't believe this is a smoker, Rudolf," she said. Rudolf. That killed me.
  "That's all right. We can smoke till they start screaming at us," I said. She took a cigarette off me, and I gave her a light.
  She looked nice, smoking. She inhaled and all, but she didn't wolf the smoke down, the way most women around her age do. She had a lot of charm. She had quite a lot of sex appeal, too, if you really want to know.
  She was looking at me sort of funny. I may be wrong but I believe your nose is bleeding, dear, she said, all of a sudden.
  I nodded and took out my handkerchief. "I got hit with a snowball," I said. "One of those very icy ones." I probably would've told her what really happened, but it would've taken too long. I liked her, though. I was beginning to feel sort of sorry I'd told her my name was Rudolf Schmidt. "Old Ernie," I said. "He's one of the most popular boys at Pencey. Did you know that?"
  "No, I didn't."
  I nodded. "It really took everybody quite a long time to get to know him. He's a funny guy. A strange guy, in lots of ways--know what I mean? Like when I first met him. When I first met him, I thought he was kind of a snobbish person. That's what I thought. But he isn't. He's just got this very original personality that takes you a little while to get to know him."
  Old Mrs. Morrow didn't say anything, but boy, you should've seen her. I had her glued to her seat. You take somebody's mother, all they want to hear about is what a hot-shot their son is.
  Then I really started chucking the old crap around. "Did he tell you about the elections?" I asked her. "The class elections?"
  She shook her head. I had her in a trance, like. I really did.
  "Well, a bunch of us wanted old Ernie to be president of the class. I mean he was the unanimous choice. I mean he was the only boy that could really handle the job," I said--boy, was I chucking it. "But this other boy--Harry Fencer--was elected. And the reason he was elected, the simple and obvious reason, was because Ernie wouldn't let us nominate him. Because he's so darn shy and modest and all. He refused. . . Boy, he's really shy. You oughta make him try to get over that." I looked at her. "Didn't he tell you about it?"
  "No, he didn't."
  I nodded. "That's Ernie. He wouldn't. That's the one fault with him--he's too shy and modest. You really oughta get him to try to relax occasionally."
  Right that minute, the conductor came around for old Mrs. Morrow's ticket, and it gave me a chance to quit shooting it. I'm glad I shot it for a while, though. You take a guy like Morrow that's always snapping their towel at people's asses--really trying to hurt somebody with it--they don't just stay a rat while they're a kid. They stay a rat their whole life. But I'll bet, after all the crap I shot, Mrs. Morrow'll keep thinking of him now as this very shy, modest guy that wouldn't let us nominate him for president. She might. You can't tell. Mothers aren't too sharp about that stuff.
  "Would you care for a cocktail?" I asked her. I was feeling in the mood for one myself. "We can go in the club car. All right?"
  "Dear, are you allowed to order drinks?" she asked me. Not snotty, though. She was too charming and all to be snotty.
  "Well, no, not exactly, but I can usually get them on account of my heighth," I said. "And I have quite a bit of gray hair." I turned sideways and showed her my gray
    hair. It fascinated hell out of her. "C'mon, join me, why don't you?" I said. I'd've enjoyed having her.
  "I really don't think I'd better. Thank you so much, though, dear," she said. "Anyway, the club car's most likely closed. It's quite late, you know." She was right. I'd forgotten all about what time it was.
  Then she looked at me and asked me what I was afraid she was going to ask me. "Ernest wrote that he'd be home on Wednesday, that Christmas vacation would start on Wednesday," she said. "I hope you weren't called home suddenly because of illness in the family." She really looked worried about it. She wasn't just being nosy, you could tell.
  "No, everybody's fine at home," I said. "It's me. I have to have this operation."
  "Oh! I'm so sorry," she said. She really was, too. I was right away sorry I'd said it, but it was too late.
  "It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain."
  "Oh, no!" She put her hand up to her mouth and all. "Oh, I'll be all right and everything! It's right near the outside. And it's a very tiny one. They can take it out in about two minutes."
  Then I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop lying. Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No kidding. Hours.
  We didn't talk too much after that. She started reading this Vogue she had with her, and I looked out the window for a while. She got off at Newark. She wished me a lot of luck with the operation and all. She kept calling me Rudolf. Then she invited me to visit Ernie during the summer, at Gloucester, Massachusetts. She said their house was right on the beach, and they had a tennis court and all, but I just thanked her and told her I was going to South America with my grandmother. Which was really a hot one, because my grandmother hardly ever even goes out of the house, except maybe to go to a goddam matinee or something. But I wouldn't visit that sonuvabitch Morrow for all the dough in the world, even if I was desperate.
  

9
  The first thing I did when I got off at Penn Station, I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving somebody a buzz. I left my bags right outside the booth so that I could watch them, but as soon as I was inside, I couldn't think of anybody to call up. My brother D.B. was in Hollywood. My kid sister Phoebe goes to bed around nine o'clock--so I couldn't call her up. She wouldn't've cared if I'd woke her up, but the trouble was, she wouldn't've been the one that answered the phone. My parents would be the ones. So that was out. Then I thought of giving Jane Gallagher's mother a buzz, and find out when Jane's vacation started, but I didn't feel like it. Besides, it was pretty late to call up. Then I thought of calling this girl I used to go around with quite frequently, Sally Hayes, because I knew her Christmas vacation had started already--she'd written me this long, phony letter, inviting me over to help her trim the Christmas tree Christmas Eve and all--but I was afraid her mother'd answer the phone. Her mother knew my mother, and I could picture her breaking a goddam leg to get to the phone and tell my mother I was in New York. Besides, I wasn't crazy about talking to old Mrs. Hayes on the phone. She once told Sally I was wild. She said I was wild and that I had no direction in life. Then I thought of
  calling up this guy that went to the Whooton School when I was there, Carl Luce, but I didn't like him much. So I ended up not calling anybody. I came out of the booth, after about twenty minutes or so, and got my bags and walked over to that tunnel where the cabs are and got a cab.
  I'm so damn absent-minded, I gave the driver my regular address, just out of habit and all--I mean I completely forgot I was going to shack up in a hotel for a couple of days and not go home till vacation started. I didn't think of it till we were halfway through the park. Then I said, "Hey, do you mind turning around when you get a chance? I gave you the wrong address. I want to go back downtown."
  The driver was sort of a wise guy. "I can't turn around here, Mac. This here's a one-way. I'll have to go all the way to Ninedieth Street now."
  I didn't want to start an argument. "Okay," I said. Then I thought of something, all of a sudden. "Hey, listen," I said. "You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?" I realized it was only one chance in a million.
  He turned around and looked at me like I was a madman. "What're ya tryna do, bud?" he said. "Kid me?"
  "No--I was just interested, that's all."
  He didn't say anything more, so I didn't either. Until we came out of the park at Ninetieth Street. Then he said, "All right, buddy. Where to?"
  "Well, the thing is, I don't want to stay at any hotels on the East Side where I might run into some acquaintances of mine. I'm traveling incognito," I said. I hate saying corny things like "traveling incognito." But when I'm with somebody that's corny, I always act corny too. "Do you happen to know whose band's at the Taft or the New Yorker, by any chance?"
  "No idear, Mac."
  "Well--take me to the Edmont then," I said. "Would you care to stop on the way and join me for a cocktail? On me. I'm loaded."
  "Can't do it, Mac. Sorry." He certainly was good company. Terrific personality.
  We got to the Edmont Hotel, and I checked in. I'd put on my red hunting cap when I was in the cab, just for the hell of it, but I took it off before I checked in. I didn't want to look like a screwball or something. Which is really ironic. I didn't know then that the goddam hotel was full of perverts and morons. Screwballs all over the place.
  They gave me this very crumby room, with nothing to look out of the window at except the other side of the hotel. I didn't care much. I was too depressed to care whether I had a good view or not. The bellboy that showed me to the room was this very old guy around sixty-five. He was even more depressing than the room was. He was one of those bald guys that comb all their hair over from the side to cover up the baldness. I'd rather be bald than do that. Anyway, what a gorgeous job for a guy around sixty-five years old. Carrying people's suitcases and waiting around for a tip. I suppose he wasn't too intelligent or anything, but it was terrible anyway.
  After he left, I looked out the window for a while, with my coat on and all. I didn't have anything else to do. You'd be surprised what was going on on the other side of the hotel. They didn't even bother to pull their shades down. I saw one guy, a gray-haired, very distinguished-looking guy with only his shorts on, do something you wouldn't
    believe me if I told you. First he put his suitcase on the bed. Then he took out all these women's clothes, and put them on. Real women's clothes--silk stockings, high-heeled shoes, brassiere, and one of those corsets with the straps hanging down and all. Then he put on this very tight black evening dress. I swear to God. Then he started walking up and down the room, taking these very small steps, the way a woman does, and smoking a cigarette and looking at himself in the mirror. He was all alone, too. Unless somebody was in the bathroom--I couldn't see that much. Then, in the window almost right over his, I saw a man and a woman squirting water out of their mouths at each other. It probably was highballs, not water, but I couldn't see what they had in their glasses. Anyway, first he'd take a swallow and squirt it all over her, then she did it to him--they took turns, for God's sake. You should've seen them. They were in hysterics the whole time, like it was the funniest thing that ever happened. I'm not kidding, the hotel was lousy with perverts. I was probably the only normal bastard in the whole place--and that isn't saying much. I damn near sent a telegram to old Stradlater telling him to take the first train to New York. He'd have been the king of the hotel.
  The trouble was, that kind of junk is sort of fascinating to watch, even if you don't want it to be. For instance, that girl that was getting water squirted all over her face, she was pretty good-looking. I mean that's my big trouble. In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw. Sometimes I can think of very crumby stuff I wouldn't mind doing if the opportunity came up. I can even see how it might be quite a lot of fun, in a crumby way, and if you were both sort of drunk and all, to get a girl and squirt water or something all over each other's face. The thing is, though, I don't like the idea. It stinks, if you analyze it. I think if you don't really like a girl, you shouldn't horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you're supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it. It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes. Girls aren't too much help, either, when you start trying not to get too crumby, when you start trying not to spoil anything really good. I knew this one girl, a couple of years ago, that was even crumbier than I was. Boy, was she crumby! We had a lot of fun, though, for a while, in a crumby way. Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it--the same night, as a matter of fact. I spent the whole night necking with a terrible phony named Anne Louise Sherman. Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear to God I don't.
  I started toying with the idea, while I kept standing there, of giving old Jane a buzz--I mean calling her long distance at B.M., where she went, instead of calling up her mother to find out when she was coming home. You weren't supposed to call students up late at night, but I had it all figured out. I was going to tell whoever answered the phone that I was her uncle. I was going to say her aunt had just got killed in a car accident and I had to speak to her immediately. It would've worked, too. The only reason I didn't do it was because I wasn't in the mood. If you're not in the mood, you can't do that stuff right.
  After a while I sat down in a chair and smoked a couple of cigarettes. I was feeling pretty horny. I have to admit it. Then, all of a sudden, I got this idea. I took out my wallet and started looking for this address a guy I met at a party last summer, that
  went to Princeton, gave me. Finally I found it. It was all a funny color from my wallet, but you could still read it. It was the address of this girl that wasn't exactly a whore or anything but that didn't mind doing it once in a while, this Princeton guy told me. He brought her to a dance at Princeton once, and they nearly kicked him out for bringing her. She used to be a burlesque stripper or something. Anyway, I went over to the phone and gave her a buzz. Her name was Faith Cavendish, and she lived at the Stanford Arms Hotel on Sixty-fifth and Broadway. A dump, no doubt.
  For a while, I didn t think she was home or something. Nobody kept answering. Then, finally, somebody picked up the phone.
  "Hello?" I said. I made my voice quite deep so that she wouldn't suspect my age or anything. I have a pretty deep voice anyway.
  "Hello," this woman's voice said. None too friendly, either.
  "Is this Miss Faith Cavendish?"
  "Who's this?" she said. "Who's calling me up at this crazy goddam hour?"
  That sort of scared me a little bit. "Well, I know it's quite late," I said, in this very mature voice and all. "I hope you'll forgive me, but I was very anxious to get in touch with you." I said it suave as hell. I really did.
  "Who is this?" she said.
  "Well, you don't know me, but I'm a friend of Eddie Birdsell's. He suggested that if I were in town sometime, we ought to get together for a cocktail or two."
  "Who? You're a friend of who?" Boy, she was a real tigress over the phone. She was damn near yelling at me.
  "Edmund Birdsell. Eddie Birdsell," I said. I couldn't remember if his name was Edmund or Edward. I only met him once, at a goddam stupid party.
  "I don't know anybody by that name, Jack. And if you think I enjoy bein' woke up in the middle--"
  "Eddie Birdsell? From Princeton?" I said.
  You could tell she was running the name over in her mind and all.
  "Birdsell, Birdsell. . . from Princeton.. . Princeton College?"
  "That's right," I said.
  "You from Princeton College?"
  "Well, approximately."
  "Oh. . . How is Eddie?" she said. "This is certainly a peculiar time to call a person up, though. Jesus Christ."
  "He's fine. He asked to be remembered to you."
  "Well, thank you. Remember me to him," she said. "He's a grand person. What's he doing now?" She was getting friendly as hell, all of a sudden.
  "Oh, you know. Same old stuff," I said. How the hell did I know what he was doing? I hardly knew the guy. I didn't even know if he was still at Princeton. "Look," I said. "Would you be interested in meeting me for a cocktail somewhere?"
  "By any chance do you have any idea what time it is?" she said. "What's your name, anyhow, may I ask?" She was getting an English accent, all of a sudden. "You sound a little on the young side."
  I laughed. "Thank you for the compliment," I said-- suave as hell. "Holden Caulfield's my name." I should've given her a phony name, but I didn't think of it.
    "Well, look, Mr. Cawffle. I'm not in the habit of making engagements in the middle of the night. I'm a working gal."
  "Tomorrow's Sunday," I told her.
  "Well, anyway. I gotta get my beauty sleep. You know how it is."
  "I thought we might have just one cocktail together. It isn't too late."
  "Well. You're very sweet," she said. "Where ya callin' from? Where ya at now, anyways?"
  "Me? I'm in a phone booth."
  "Oh," she said. Then there was this very long pause. "Well, I'd like awfully to get together with you sometime, Mr. Cawffle. You sound very attractive. You sound like a very attractive person. But it is late."
  "I could come up to your place."
  "Well, ordinary, I'd say grand. I mean I'd love to have you drop up for a cocktail, but my roommate happens to be ill. She's been laying here all night without a wink of sleep. She just this minute closed her eyes and all. I mean."
  "Oh. That's too bad."
  "Where ya stopping at? Perhaps we could get together for cocktails tomorrow."
  "I can't make it tomorrow," I said. "Tonight's the only time I can make it." What a dope I was. I shouldn't've said that.
  "Oh. Well, I'm awfully sorry."
  "I'll say hello to Eddie for you."
  "Willya do that? I hope you enjoy your stay in New York. It's a grand place."
  "I know it is. Thanks. Good night," I said. Then I hung up.
  Boy, I really fouled that up. I should've at least made it for cocktails or something.
  

10
  It was still pretty early. I'm not sure what time it was, but it wasn't too late. The one thing I hate to do is go to bed when I'm not even tired. So I opened my suitcases and took out a clean shirt, and then I went in the bathroom and washed and changed my shirt. What I thought I'd do, I thought I'd go downstairs and see what the hell was going on in the Lavender Room. They had this night club, the Lavender Room, in the hotel.
  While I was changing my shirt, I damn near gave my kid sister Phoebe a buzz, though. I certainly felt like talking to her on the phone. Somebody with sense and all. But I couldn't take a chance on giving her a buzz, because she was only a little kid and she wouldn't have been up, let alone anywhere near the phone. I thought of maybe hanging up if my parents answered, but that wouldn't've worked, either. They'd know it was me. My mother always knows it's me. She's psychic. But I certainly wouldn't have minded shooting the crap with old Phoebe for a while.
  You should see her. You never saw a little kid so pretty and smart in your whole life. She's really smart. I mean she's had all A's ever since she started school. As a matter of fact, I'm the only dumb one in the family. My brother D.B.'s a writer and all, and my brother Allie, the one that died, that I told you about, was a wizard. I'm the only really dumb one. But you ought to see old Phoebe. She has this sort of red hair, a little bit like Allie's was, that's very short in the summertime. In the summertime, she sticks it behind
  her ears. She has nice, pretty little ears. In the wintertime, it's pretty long, though. Sometimes my mother braids it and sometimes she doesn't. It's really nice, though. She's only ten. She's quite skinny, like me, but nice skinny. Roller-skate skinny. I watched her once from the window when she was crossing over Fifth Avenue to go to the park, and that's what she is, roller-skate skinny. You'd like her. I mean if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you're talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you take her to a lousy movie, for instance, she knows it's a lousy movie. If you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it's a pretty good movie. D.B. and I took her to see this French movie, The Baker's Wife, with Raimu in it. It killed her. Her favorite is The 39 Steps, though, with Robert Donat. She knows the whole goddam movie by heart, because I've taken her to see it about ten times. When old Donat comes up to this Scotch farmhouse, for instance, when he's running away from the cops and all, Phoebe'll say right out loud in the movie--right when the Scotch guy in the picture says it--"Can you eat the herring?" She knows all the talk by heart. And when this professor in the picture, that's really a German spy, sticks up his little finger with part of the middle joint missing, to show Robert Donat, old Phoebe beats him to it--she holds up her little finger at me in the dark, right in front of my face. She's all right. You'd like her. The only trouble is, she's a little too affectionate sometimes. She's very emotional, for a child. She really is. Something else she does, she writes books all the time. Only, she doesn't finish them. They're all about some kid named Hazel Weatherfield--only old Phoebe spells it "Hazle." Old Hazle Weatherfield is a girl detective. She's supposed to be an orphan, but her old man keeps showing up. Her old man's always a "tall attractive gentleman about 20 years of age." That kills me. Old Phoebe. I swear to God you'd like her. She was smart even when she was a very tiny little kid. When she was a very tiny little kid, I and Allie used to take her to the park with us, especially on Sundays. Allie had this sailboat he used to like to fool around with on Sundays, and we used to take old Phoebe with us. She'd wear white gloves and walk right between us, like a lady and all. And when Allie and I were having some conversation about things in general, old Phoebe'd be listening. Sometimes you'd forget she was around, because she was such a little kid, but she'd let you know. She'd interrupt you all the time. She'd give Allie or I a push or something, and say, "Who? Who said that? Bobby or the lady?" And we'd tell her who said it, and she'd say, "Oh," and go right on listening and all. She killed Allie, too. I mean he liked her, too. She's ten now, and not such a tiny little kid any more, but she still kills everybody--everybody with any sense, anyway.
  Anyway, she was somebody you always felt like talking to on the phone. But I was too afraid my parents would answer, and then they'd find out I was in New York and kicked out of Pencey and all. So I just finished putting on my shirt. Then I got all ready and went down in the elevator to the lobby to see what was going on.
  Except for a few pimpy-looking guys, and a few whory-looking blondes, the lobby was pretty empty. But you could hear the band playing in the Lavender Room, and so I went in there. It wasn't very crowded, but they gave me a lousy table anyway--way in the back. I should've waved a buck under the head-waiter's nose. In New York, boy, money really talks--I'm not kidding.
  The band was putrid. Buddy Singer. Very brassy, but not good brassy--corny brassy. Also, there were very few people around my age in the place. In fact, nobody was around my age. They were mostly old, show-offy-looking guys with their dates. Except at
    the table right next to me. At the table right next to me, there were these three girls around thirty or so. The whole three of them were pretty ugly, and they all had on the kind of hats that you knew they didn't really live in New York, but one of them, the blonde one, wasn't too bad. She was sort of cute, the blonde one, and I started giving her the old eye a little bit, but just then the waiter came up for my order. I ordered a Scotch and soda, and told him not to mix it--I said it fast as hell, because if you hem and haw, they think you're under twenty-one and won't sell you any intoxicating liquor. I had trouble with him anyway, though. "I'm sorry, sir," he said, "but do you have some verification of your age? Your driver's license, perhaps?"
  I gave him this very cold stare, like he'd insulted the hell out of me, and asked him, "Do I look like I'm under twenty-one?"
  "I'm sorry, sir, but we have our--"
  "Okay, okay," I said. I figured the hell with it. "Bring me a Coke." He started to go away, but I called him back. "Can'tcha stick a little rum in it or something?" I asked him. I asked him very nicely and all. "I can't sit in a corny place like this cold sober. Can'tcha stick a little rum in it or something?"
  "I'm very sorry, sir. . ." he said, and beat it on me. I didn't hold it against him, though. They lose their jobs if they get caught selling to a minor. I'm a goddam minor.
  I started giving the three witches at the next table the eye again. That is, the blonde one. The other two were strictly from hunger. I didn't do it crudely, though. I just gave all three of them this very cool glance and all. What they did, though, the three of them, when I did it, they started giggling like morons. They probably thought I was too young to give anybody the once-over. That annoyed hell out of me-- you'd've thought I wanted to marry them or something. I should've given them the freeze, after they did that, but the trouble was, I really felt like dancing. I'm very fond of dancing, sometimes, and that was one of the times. So all of a sudden, I sort of leaned over and said, "Would any of you girls care to dance?" I didn't ask them crudely or anything. Very suave, in fact. But God damn it, they thought that was a panic, too. They started giggling some more. I'm not kidding, they were three real morons. "C'mon," I said. "I'll dance with you one at a time. All right? How 'bout it? C'mon!" I really felt like dancing.
  Finally, the blonde one got up to dance with me, because you could tell I was really talking to her, and we walked out to the dance floor. The other two grools nearly had hysterics when we did. I certainly must've been very hard up to even bother with any of them.
  But it was worth it. The blonde was some dancer. She was one of the best dancers I ever danced with. I'm not kidding, some of these very stupid girls can really knock you out on a dance floor. You take a really smart girl, and half the time she's trying to lead you around the dance floor, or else she's such a lousy dancer, the best thing to do is stay at the table and just get drunk with her.
  "You really can dance," I told the blonde one. "You oughta be a pro. I mean it. I danced with a pro once, and you're twice as good as she was. Did you ever hear of Marco and Miranda?"
  "What?" she said. She wasn't even listening to me. She was looking all around the place.
  "I said did you ever hear of Marco and Miranda?"
  "I don't know. No. I don't know."
  "Well, they're dancers, she's a dancer. She's not too hot, though. She does everything she's supposed to, but she's not so hot anyway. You know when a girl's really a terrific dancer?"
  "Wudga say?" she said. She wasn't listening to me, even. Her mind was wandering all over the place.
  "I said do you know when a girl's really a terrific dancer?"
  "Uh-uh."
  "Well--where I have my hand on your back. If I think there isn't anything underneath my hand--no can, no legs, no feet, no anything--then the girl's really a terrific dancer."
  She wasn't listening, though. So I ignored her for a while. We just danced. God, could that dopey girl dance. Buddy Singer and his stinking band was playing "Just One of Those Things" and even they couldn't ruin it entirely. It's a swell song. I didn't try any trick stuff while we danced--I hate a guy that does a lot of show-off tricky stuff on the dance floor--but I was moving her around plenty, and she stayed with me. The funny thing is, I thought she was enjoying it, too, till all of a sudden she came out with this very dumb remark. "I and my girl friends saw Peter Lorre last night," she said. "The movie actor. In person. He was buyin' a newspaper. He's cute."
  "You're lucky," I told her. "You're really lucky. You know that?" She was really a moron. But what a dancer. I could hardly stop myself from sort of giving her a kiss on the top of her dopey head--you know-- right where the part is, and all. She got sore when I did it.
  "Hey! What's the idea?"
  "Nothing. No idea. You really can dance," I said. "I have a kid sister that's only in the goddam fourth grade. You're about as good as she is, and she can dance better than anybody living or dead."
  "Watch your language, if you don't mind."
  What a lady, boy. A queen, for Chrissake.
  "Where you girls from?" I asked her.
  She didn't answer me, though. She was busy looking around for old Peter Lorre to show up, I guess.
  "Where you girls from?" I asked her again.
  "What?" she said.
  "Where you girls from? Don't answer if you don't feel like it. I don't want you to strain yourself."
  "Seattle, Washington," she said. She was doing me a big favor to tell me.
  "You're a very good conversationalist," I told her. "You know that?"
  "What?"
  I let it drop. It was over her head, anyway. "Do you feel like jitterbugging a little bit, if they play a fast one? Not corny jitterbug, not jump or anything--just nice and easy. Everybody'll all sit down when they play a fast one, except the old guys and the fat guys, and we'll have plenty of room. Okay?"
  "It's immaterial to me," she said. "Hey--how old are you, anyhow?"
  That annoyed me, for some reason. "Oh, Christ. Don't spoil it," I said. "I'm twelve, for Chrissake. I'm big for my age."
    "Listen. I toleja about that. I don't like that type language," she said. "If you're gonna use that type language, I can go sit down with my girl friends, you know."
  I apologized like a madman, because the band was starting a fast one. She started jitterbugging with me-- but just very nice and easy, not corny. She was really good. All you had to do was touch her. And when she turned around, her pretty little butt twitched so nice and all. She knocked me out. I mean it. I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.
  They didn't invite me to sit down at their table-- mostly because they were too ignorant--but I sat down anyway. The blonde I'd been dancing with's name was Bernice something--Crabs or Krebs. The two ugly ones' names were Marty and Laverne. I told them my name was Jim Steele, just for the hell of it. Then I tried to get them in a little intelligent conversation, but it was practically impossible. You had to twist their arms. You could hardly tell which was the stupidest of the three of them. And the whole three of them kept looking all around the goddam room, like as if they expected a flock of goddam movie stars to come in any minute. They probably thought movie stars always hung out in the Lavender Room when they came to New York, instead of the Stork Club or El Morocco and all. Anyway, it took me about a half hour to find out where they all worked and all in Seattle. They all worked in the same insurance office. I asked them if they liked it, but do you think you could get an intelligent answer out of those three dopes? I thought the two ugly ones, Marty and Laverne, were sisters, but they got very insulted when I asked them. You could tell neither one of them wanted to look like the other one, and you couldn't blame them, but it was very amusing anyway.
  I danced with them all--the whole three of them--one at a time. The one ugly one, Laverne, wasn't too bad a dancer, but the other one, old Marty, was murder. Old Marty was like dragging the Statue of Liberty around the floor. The only way I could even half enjoy myself dragging her around was if I amused myself a little. So I told her I just saw Gary Cooper, the movie star, on the other side of the floor.
  "Where?" she asked me--excited as hell. "Where?"
  "Aw, you just missed him. He just went out. Why didn't you look when I told you?"
  She practically stopped dancing, and started looking over everybody's heads to see if she could see him. "Oh, shoot!" she said. I'd just about broken her heart-- I really had. I was sorry as hell I'd kidded her. Some people you shouldn't kid, even if they deserve it.
  Here's what was very funny, though. When we got back to the table, old Marty told the other two that Gary Cooper had just gone out. Boy, old Laverne and Bernice nearly committed suicide when they heard that. They got all excited and asked Marty if she'd seen him and all. Old Mart said she'd only caught a glimpse of him. That killed me.
  The bar was closing up for the night, so I bought them all two drinks apiece quick before it closed, and I ordered two more Cokes for myself. The goddam table was lousy with glasses. The one ugly one, Laverne, kept kidding me because I was only drinking Cokes. She had a sterling sense of humor. She and old Marty were drinking Tom Collinses--in the middle of December, for God's sake. They didn't know any better. The
  blonde one, old Bernice, was drinking bourbon and water. She was really putting it away, too. The whole three of them kept looking for movie stars the whole time. They hardly talked--even to each other. Old Marty talked more than the other two. She kept saying these very corny, boring things, like calling the can the "little girls' room," and she thought Buddy Singer's poor old beat-up clarinet player was really terrific when he stood up and took a couple of ice-cold hot licks. She called his clarinet a "licorice stick." Was she corny. The other ugly one, Laverne, thought she was a very witty type. She kept asking me to call up my father and ask him what he was doing tonight. She kept asking me if my father had a date or not. Four times she asked me that--she was certainly witty. Old Bernice, the blonde one, didn't say hardly anything at all. Every time I'd ask her something, she said "What?" That can get on your nerves after a while.
  All of a sudden, when they finished their drink, all three of them stood up on me and said they had to get to bed. They said they were going to get up early to see the first show at Radio City Music Hall. I tried to get them to stick around for a while, but they wouldn't. So we said good-by and all. I told them I'd look them up in Seattle sometime, if I ever got there, but I doubt if I ever will. Look them up, I mean.
  With cigarettes and all, the check came to about thirteen bucks. I think they should've at least offered to pay for the drinks they had before I joined them--I wouldn't've let them, naturally, but they should've at least offered. I didn't care much, though. They were so ignorant, and they had those sad, fancy hats on and all. And that business about getting up early to see the first show at Radio City Music Hall depressed me. If somebody, some girl in an awful-looking hat, for instance, comes all the way to New York--from Seattle, Washington, for God's sake--and ends up getting up early in the morning to see the goddam first show at Radio City Music Hall, it makes me so depressed I can't stand it. I'd've bought the whole three of them a hundred drinks if only they hadn't told me that.
  I left the Lavender Room pretty soon after they did. They were closing it up anyway, and the band had quit a long time ago. In the first place, it was one of those places that are very terrible to be in unless you have somebody good to dance with, or unless the waiter lets you buy real drinks instead of just Cokes. There isn't any night club in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you're with some girl that really knocks you out.


  

 

 

献给我的母亲

 你要是真想听我讲,你想要知道的第一件事可能是我在什么地方出生,我倒楣的童年是怎样度过,我父母在生我之前干些什么,以及诸如此类的大卫科波菲尔式废话,可我老实告诉你,我无意告诉你这一切。首先,这类事情叫我腻烦;其次,我要是细谈我父母的个人私事,他们俩准会大发脾气。对于这类事情,他们最容易生气,特别是我父亲。他们为人倒是挺不错--我并不想说他们的坏话--可他们的确很容易生气。再说,我也不是要告诉你他妈的我整个自传。我想告诉你的只是我在去年圣诞节前所过的那段荒唐生活,后来我的身体整个儿垮了,不得不离家到这儿来休养一阵。我是说这些事情都是我告诉DB的,他是我哥哥,在好莱坞。那地方离我目前可怜的住处不远,所以他常常来看我,几乎每个周末都来,我打算在下个月回家,他还要亲自开车送我回去。他刚买了辆"美洲豹",那是种英国小轿车,一个小时可以驶两百英里左右,买这辆车花了他将近四千块钱。最近他十分有钱。过去他并不有钱。过去他在家里的时候,只是个普通作家,写过一本了不起的短篇小说集《秘密金鱼》,不知你听说过没有。这本书里最好的一篇就是《秘密金鱼》,讲的是一个小孩怎样不肯让人看他的金鱼,因为那鱼是他自己花钱买的。

   这故事动人极了,简直要了我的命。这会儿他进了好莱坞,当了婊子--这个DB。我最最讨厌电影。最好你连提也不要向我提起。

   我打算从我离开潘西中学那天讲起。潘西这学校在宾夕法尼亚州埃杰斯镇。你也许听说过。也许你至少看见过广告。他们差不多在一千份杂志上登了广告,总是一个了不起的小伙子骑着马在跳篱笆。好象在潘西除了比赛马球就没有事可做似的。

   其实我在学校附近连一匹马的影儿也没见过。在这幅跑马图底下,总是这样写着:"自从一八八八年起,我们就把孩子栽培成优秀的、有脑子的年轻人。"完全是骗人的鬼话。在潘西也象在别的学校一样,根本没栽培什么人材。而且在那里我也没见到任何优秀的、有脑子的人。也许有那么一两个.可他们很可能在进学校时候就是那样的人。

   嗯,那天正好是星期六,要跟萨克逊.霍尔中学赛橄榄球。跟萨克逊.霍尔的这场比赛被看作是潘西附近的一件大事。这是年内最后一场球赛,要是潘西输了,看样子大家非自杀不可。我记得那天下午三点左右,我爬到高高的汤姆孙山顶上看赛球,就站在那尊曾在独立战争中使用过的混帐大炮旁边。从这里可以望见整个球场,看得见两队人马到处冲杀。看台里的情况虽然看不很清楚,可你听得见他们的吆喝声,一片震天价喊声为潘西叫好,因为除了我,差不多全校的人都在球场上,不过给萨克逊.霍尔那边叫好的声音却是稀稀拉拉的,因为到客场来比赛的球队,带来的人总是不多的。

   在每次橄榄球比赛中总很少见到女孩子。只有高班的学生才可以带女孩子来看球。这确实是个阴森可怕的学校,不管你从哪个角度看它。我总希望自己所在的地方至少偶尔可以看见几个姑娘,哪怕只看见她们在搔胳膊、擤鼻子,甚至在吃吃地傻笑。

   赛尔玛.绥摩--她是校长的女儿--倒是常常出来看球,可象她这样的女人,实在引不起你多大兴趣。其实她为人倒挺不错。有一次我跟她一起从埃杰斯镇坐公共汽车出去,她就坐在我旁边,我们俩随便聊起天来。我挺喜欢她。她的鼻子很大,指甲都已剥落,象在流血似的,胸前还装着两只假奶,往四面八方直挺,可你见了,只觉得她可怜。我喜欢她的地方,是她从来不瞎吹她父亲有多伟大。也许她知道他是个假模假式的饭桶。

   我之所以站在汤姆孙山顶,没下去看球,是因为我刚跟击剑队一道从纽约回来。我还是这个击剑队的倒楣领队。真了不起。我们一早出发到纽约去跟麦克彭尼中学比赛击剑。只是这次比赛没有比成。

   我们把比赛用的剑、装备和一些别的东西一古脑儿落在他妈的地铁上了。这事也不能完全怪我。我得不住地站起来看地图,好知道在哪儿下车。结果,我们没到吃晚饭时间,在下午两点三十分就已回到了潘西。乘火车回来的时候全队的人一路上谁也不理我。说起来,倒也挺好玩哩。

   我没下去看球的另一原因,是我要去向我的历史老师老斯宾塞告别。他患着流行性感冒,我揣摩在圣诞假期开始之前再也见不到他了。他写了张条子给我,说是希望在我回家之前见我一次。他知道我这次离开潘西后再也不回来了。

   我忘了告诉你这件事。他们把我踢出了学校,过了圣诞假后不再要我回来,原因是我有四门功课不及格,又不肯好好用功。他们常常警告我,要我好好用功--特别是学期过了一半,我父母来校跟老绥摩谈过话以后--可我总是当耳边风。于是我就给开除了。他们在潘西常常开除学生。潘西在教育界声誉挺高。这倒是事实。

   嗯,那是十二月,天气冷得象巫婆的奶头,尤其是在这混帐的小山顶上。我只穿了件晴雨两用的风衣,没戴手套什么的。上个星期,有人从我的房间里偷走了我的骆驼毛大衣,大衣袋里还放着我那副毛皮里子的手套。潘西有的是贼。不少学生都是家里极有钱的,可学校里照样全是贼。学校越贵族化,里面的贼也越多--我不开玩笑。嗯,我当时一动不动地站在那尊混帐大炮旁边,看着下面的球赛,冻得我屁股都快掉了。只是我并不在专心看球。我流连不去的真正目的,是想跟学校悄悄告别。我是说过去我也离开过一些学校,一些地方,可我在离开的时候自己竞不知道。我痛恨这类事情。

   我不在乎是悲伤的离别还是不痛快的离别,只要是离开一个地方,我总希望离开的时候自己心中有数。

   要不然,我心里就会更加难受。

   总算我运气好。刹那间我想起了一件事,让我感觉到自己他妈的就要滚出这个地方了。我突然记起在十月间,我怎样跟罗伯特.铁奇纳和保尔.凯姆伯尔一起在办公大楼前扔橄榄球。他们都是挺不错的小伙子,尤其是铁奇纳。那时正是在吃晚饭前,外面天已经很黑了,可是我们照样扔着球。天越来越黑,黑得几乎连球都看不见了,可我们还是不肯歇手。最后我们被迫歇手了。那位教生物的老师,柴柏西先生,从教务处的窗口探出头来,叫我们回宿舍去准备吃晚饭。我要是运气好,能在紧要关头想起这一类事情,我就可以好好作一番告别了--至少绝大部分时间都可以做到。因此我一有那感触,就立刻转身奔下另一边山坡,向老斯宾塞的家奔去。他并不住在校园内。他住在安东尼.魏思路。

   我一口气跑到大门边,然后稍停一下,喘一喘气。我的气很短,我老实告诉你说。我抽烟抽得凶极了,这是一个原因--那是说,我过去抽烟抽得极凶。现在他们让我戒掉了。另一个原因,我去年一年内竞长了六英寸半。正因为这个缘故,我差点儿得了肺病,现在离家来这儿作他妈的检查治疗那一套。其实,我身上什么毛病也没有。

   嗯,等我喘过气来以后,我就奔过了第二0四街。天冷得象在地狱里一样,我差点儿摔了一交。我甚至都不知道自己为什么要奔跑--我揣摩大概是一时高兴。我穿过马路以后,觉得自己好象失踪了似的。那是个混帐的下午,天气冷得可怕,没太阳什么的,在每次穿越马路之后,你总会有一种像是失踪了的感觉。

   嘿,我一到老斯宾塞家门口,就拼命按起铃来。我真的冻坏了。我的耳朵疼得厉害,手上的指头连动都动不了。"喂,喂,"我几乎大声喊了起来,"快来人开门哪。"最后老斯宾塞太太来开门了。他们家里没有佣人,每次总是他们自己出来开门。他们并不有钱。"霍尔顿!"斯宾塞太太说。"见到你真高兴!进来吧,亲爱的!你都冻坏了吧?"我觉得她的确乐于见我。她喜欢我。至少我是这样觉得。

   嘿,我真是三脚两步跨进了屋。"您好,斯宾塞太太?"我说。"斯宾塞先生好?"

   "我来给你脱大衣吧,亲爱的,"她说。她没听见我问候斯宾塞先生的话。她的耳朵有点聋。

   她把我的大衣接在门厅的壁橱里,我随使用手把头发往后一掠。我经常把头发理得很短,所以用不着用梳子梳。"您好吗,斯宾塞太太?"我又说了一遍,只是说得更响一些,好让她听见。

   "我挺好,霍尔顿。"她关上了橱门。"你好吗?"从她问话的口气里,我立刻听出老斯宾塞已经把我被开除的事告诉她了。

   "挺好,"我说。"斯宾塞先生好吗?他的感冒好了没有?"

   "好了没有!霍尔顿,他完全跟好人一样了--我不知道怎么说合适……他就在他自己的房里,亲爱的。进去吧。"

 

  他们各有各的房间。他们都有七十左右年纪,或者甚至已过了七十。他们都还自得其乐--当然是傻里傻气的。我知道这话听起来有点混,可我并不是有意要说混话。我的意思只是说我想老斯宾塞想得太多了,想他想得太多之后,就难免会想到象他这样活着究竟有什么意思。我是说他的背已经完全驼了,身体的姿势十分难看,上课的时候在黑板边掉了粉笔,总要坐在第一排的学生走上去拾起来递给他。真是可怕极了,在我看来。不过你要是想他想得恰到好处,不是想得太多,你就会觉得他的日子还不算太难过。举例来说,有一个星期天我跟另外几个人在他家喝热巧克力,他还拿出一条破旧的纳瓦霍毯子来给我们看,那是他跟斯宾塞太太在黄石公园向一个印第安人买的。你想象得出老斯宾塞买了那条毯子心里该有多高兴。这就是我要说的意思。有些人老得快死了,就象老斯宾塞那样,可是买了条毯子却会高兴得要命。

   他的房门开着,可我还是轻轻敲了下门,表示礼貌。我望得见他坐的地方。他坐在一把大皮椅上,用我上面说过的那条毯子把全身裹得严严的。

   他听见我敲门,就抬起头来看了看。"谁?"他大声嚷道。"考尔菲德?进来吧,孩子。"除了在教室里,他总是大声嚷嚷。有时候你听了真会起鸡皮疙瘩。

   我一进去,马上有点儿后悔自己不该来。他正在看《大西洋月刊》,房间里到处是丸药和药水,鼻子里只闻到一般维克斯滴鼻药水的味道。这实在叫人泄气。我对生病的人反正没多大好感。还有更叫人泄气的,是老斯宾塞穿着件破烂不堪的旧浴衣,大概是他出生那天就裹在身上的。我最不喜欢老人穿着睡衣或者浴衣。他们那瘦骨磷晌的胸脯老是露在外面。还有他们的腿。老人的腿,常常在海滨之类的地方见到,总是那么白,没什么毛。"哈罗,先生,"我说。"我接到您的便条啦。多谢您关怀。"他曾写了张便条给我,要我在放假之前抽空到他家去道别,因为我这一走,是再也不回来了。"您真是太费心了。我反正总会来向您道别的。"

   "坐在那上面吧,孩子,"老斯宾塞说。他意思要我坐在床上。

   我坐下了。"您的感冒好些吗,先生?"

   "我的孩子,我要是觉得好些,早就去请大夫了,"老斯宾塞说。说完这话,他得意的了不得,马上象个疯子似的吃吃笑起来。最后他总算恢复了平静,说道:"你怎么不去看球?我本来以为今天有隆重的球赛呢。"

   "今天倒是有球赛。我也去看了会儿。只是我刚跟击剑队从纽约回来,"我说。嘿,他的床真象岩石一样。

   他变得严肃起来。我知道他会的。"那么说来,你要离开我们了,呃?"他说。

   "是的,先生。我想是的。"

   他开始老毛病发作,一个劲几点起头来。你这一辈子再也没见过还有谁比他更会点头。你也没法知道他一个劲儿点头是由于他在动脑筋思考呢,还是由于他只是个挺不错的老家伙,糊涂得都不知道哪儿是自己的屁股哪儿是自己的胳膊弯儿了。

   "绥摩博士跟你说什么来着,孩子?我知道你们好好谈过一阵,""不错,我们谈过。我们的确谈过。我在他的办公室里呆了约莫两个钟头,我揣摩。"

   "他跟你说了些什么?"

   "哦……呃,说什么人生是场球赛。你得按照规则进行比赛。他说得挺和蔼。我是说他没有蹦得碰到天花板什么的。他只是一个劲儿谈着什么人生是场球赛。您知道。"

   "人生的确是场球赛,孩子。人生的确是场大家按照规则进行比赛的球赛。"

   "是的,先生。我知道是场球赛。我知道。"

   球赛,屁的球赛。对某些人说是球赛。你要是参加了实力雄厚的那一边,那倒可以说是场球赛,不错--我愿意承认这一点。可你要是参加了另外那一边,一点实力也没有,这样还赛得了什么球?

   什么也赛不成。根本谈不上什么球赛。"绥摩博士已经写信给你父母了吗?"老斯宾塞问我。

   "他说他打算在星期一写信给他们。"

   "你自己写信告诉他们没有?"

   "没有,先生,我没写信告诉他们,因为我星期三就要回家,大概在晚上就可以见到他们了。"

   "你想他们听了这个消息会怎么样?"

   "嗯,……他们听了会觉得烦恼,"我说。

   "他们一定会的。这已是我第四次换学校了。"我摇了摇头。我经常摇头。"嘿!"我说。我经常说"嘿!"这一方面是由于我的词汇少得可怜,另一方面也是由于我的行为举止有时很幼稚。我那时十六岁,现在十七岁,可有时候我的行为举止却象十三岁。说来确实很可笑,因为我身高六英尺二英寸半,头上还有白头发。我真有白头发。在头上的一边--右边,有千百万根白头发,从小就有。可我有时候一举一动,却象还只有十二岁。谁都这样说,尤其是我父亲。这么说有点儿对,可并不完全对。人们总是以为某些事情是完全对的。我压根就不理这个碴儿,除非有时候人们说我,要我老成些,我才冒起火来。有时候我的一举一动要比我的年龄老得多--确是这样--可人们却视而不见。

   他们是什么也看不见的。

   老斯宾塞又点起头来了。他还开始掏起鼻子来。他装作只是捏一捏鼻子,其实他早将那只大拇指伸进去了。我揣摩他大概认为这样做没有什么不对,因为当时房里只有我一个。我倒也不怎么在乎,只是眼巴巴看着一个人掏鼻子,总不兔有点恶心。

   接着他说:"你爸爸和妈妈几个星期前跟绥摩博士谈话的时候,我有幸跟他们见了面。他们都是再好没有的人。"

   再好没有,我打心眼里讨厌这个词儿。完全是假模假式。我每次听见这个词儿,心里就作呕。

   一霎时,老斯宾塞好象有什么十分妙、十分尖锐--尖锐得象针一样--的话要跟我说。他在椅子上微微坐直身子,稍稍转过身来。可这只是一场虚惊。他仅仅从膝上拿起那本《大西洋月刊》,想扔到我旁边的床上。他没扔到。只差那么两英寸光景,可他没扔到。我站起来从地上拾起杂志,把它搁在床上。突然间,我想离开这个混帐房间了。我感觉得出有一席可怕的训话马上要来了。我倒不怎么在乎听训话,不过我不乐意一边听训话一边闻维克斯滴鼻药水的味道,一边还得望着穿了睡裤和浴衣的老斯宾塞。我真的不乐意。

   训话终于来了。"你这是怎么回事呢,孩子?"

   老斯宾塞说,口气还相当严厉。"这个学期你念了几门功课?"

   "五门,先生。"

   "五门。你有几门不及格?"

   "四门。"我在床上微微挪动一下屁股。这是我有生以来坐过的最硬的床。"英文我考得不错,"我说,"因为《贝沃尔夫》和'兰德尔我的儿子'这类玩艺儿,我在胡敦中学时候都念过了。我是说念英文这一门我用不着费多大劲儿,除了偶尔写写作文。"

   他甚至不在听。只要是别人说话,他总不肯好好听。

   "历史这一门我没让你及格,因为你简直什么也不知道。"

   "我明白,先生。嘿,我完全明白。您也是没有办法。"

   "简直什么也不知道,"他重复了一遍。就是这个最叫我受不了。我都已承认了,他却还要重复说一遍。然而他又说了第三遍。"可简直什么也不知道。我十分十分怀疑,整整一个学期不知你可曾把课本翻开过哪怕一回。到底翻开过没有?老实说,孩子。"

   "嗯,我约略看过那么一两次,"我告诉他说。我不愿伤他的心。他对历史简直着了迷。

   "你约略看过,嗯?"他说--讽刺得厉害。

   "你的,啊,那份试卷就在我的小衣柜顶上。最最上面的那份就是。请拿来给我。"

   来这套非常下流,可我还是过去把那份试卷拿给他了--此外没有其他办法。随后我又坐到他那张象是水泥做的床上。嘿,你想象不出我心里有多懊丧,深悔自己不该来向他道别。

   他拿起我的试卷来,那样子就象拿着臭屎什么的。"我们从十一月四日到十二月二日上关于埃及人的课。在自由选挥的论文题里,你选了写埃及人,你想听听你说了些什么吗?"

   "不,先生,不怎么想听,"我说。

   可他照样念了出来。老师想于什么,你很难阻止他。他是非干不可的。

   埃及人是一个属于高加索人种的古民族,住在非洲北部一带。我们全都知道,非洲是东半球上最大的大陆。

   我只好坐在那里倾听这类废话。来这一套确实下流。

   我们今天对埃及人极感兴趣,原因很多。现代科学仍想知道埃及人到底用什么秘密药料敷在他们所包裹的死人身上,能使他们的脸经无数世纪而不腐烂。这一有趣的谜仍是对二十世纪现代科学的一个挑战。

   他不念了,随手把试卷放下。我开始有点恨他了。"你的大作,我们可以这么说,写到这儿就完了,"他用十分讽刺的口吻说。你真想不到象他这样的老家伙说话竟能这么讽刺。"可是,你在试卷底下还写给我一封短信,"他说。

   "我知道我写了封短信,"我说。我说得非常快,因为我想拦住他,不让他把那玩艺儿大声读出来。可你没法拦住他。他热得象个着了火的炮仗。

   "亲爱的斯宾塞先生,"他大声念道。"我对埃及人只知道这一些。虽然您讲课讲得极好,我却对他们不怎么感兴趣。您尽管可以不让我及格,反正我除了英文一门以外,哪门功课也不可能及格。

   极敬爱您的学生

   霍尔顿.考尔菲德敬上。

   他放下那份混帐试卷,拿眼望着我,那样子就象他妈的在比赛乒乓球或者其他什么球的时候把我打得一败涂地似的,他这么把那封短信大声念出来,这件事我一辈子也不能原谅他。要是他写了那短信,我是决不会大声念给他听的--我真的不会。尤其是,我他妈的写那信只是为了安慰他,好让他不给我及格的时候不至于太难受。

   "你怪我没让你及格吗,孩子?"他说。

   "不,先生?我当然不怪你,"我说。我他妈的真希望他别老这么一个劲儿管我叫"孩子"

   他念完试卷,也想把它扔到床上。只是他又没有扔到,自然罗。我不得不再一次起身把它拾起来,放在那本《大西洋月刊》上面。每两分钟起身给他拾一次东西,实在叫人腻烦。

   "你要是在我的地位,会怎么做呢?"他说。

   "老实说吧,孩子。"

   呃,你看得出他给了我不及格,心里确实很不安。我于是信口跟他胡扯起来。我告诉他说我真是个窝囊废,诸如此类的话。我跟他说我要是换了他的地位,也不得不那么做,还说大多数人都体会不到当老师的处境有多困难。反正是那一套老话。

   但奇怪的是,我一边在信口开河,一边却在想别的事。我住在纽约,当时不知怎的竟想起中央公园靠南边的那个小湖来了。我在琢磨,到我回家时候,湖里的水大概已经结冰了,要是结了冰,那些野鸭都到哪里去了呢?我一个劲儿琢磨,湖水冻严以后,那些野鸭到底上哪儿去了。我在琢磨是不是会有人开了辆卡车来,捉住它们送到动物园里去。或者竟是它们自己飞走了?

   我倒是很幸运。我是说我竟能一边跟老斯宾塞胡扯,一边想那些鸭子。奇怪的是,你跟老师聊天的时候,竟用不着动什么脑筋。可我正在胡扯的时候,他突然打断了我的话。他老喜欢打断别人的话。

   "你对这一切是怎么个感觉呢,孩子?我对这很感兴趣。感兴趣极了。"

   "您是说我给开除出潘西这件事?"我说,我真希望他能把自己瘦骨磷峋的胸脯遮盖起来。这可不是太悦目的景色。

   "要是我记得不错的话,我相信你在胡敦中学和爱尔敦.希尔斯也遇到过困难。"他说这话时不仅带着讽刺,而且带着点儿恶意了。

   "我在爱尔敦.希尔斯倒没什么困难,"我对他说。"我不完全是给开除出来的。我只是自动退学,可以这么说。"

   "为什么呢,请问?"

   "为什么?哎呀,这事说来话长,先生。我是说问题极其复杂。"我不想跟他细谈。他听了也不会理解。这不是他在行的学问。我离开爱尔敦.希尔斯最大的原因之一,是因为我的四周围全都是伪君子。就是那么回事。到处都是他妈的伪君子。举例说,学校里的校长哈斯先生就是我生平见到的最最假仁假义的杂种。比老绥摩还要坏十倍。比如说,到了星期天,有些学生的家长开了汽车来接自己的孩子,老哈斯就跑来跑去跟他们每个人握手。

   还象个娼妇似的巴结人。除非见了某些模样儿有点古怪的家长。你真该看看他怎样对待跟我同房的那个学生的父母。我是说要是学生的母亲显得太胖或者粗野,或者学生的父亲凑巧是那种穿着宽肩膀衣服和粗俗的黑白两色鞋的人,那时候老哈斯就只跟他们握一下手,假惺惺地朝着他们微微一笑。然后就一径去跟别的学生的父母讲话,一谈也许就是半个小时。我受不了这类事情。它会逼得我发疯,会让我烦恼得神经错乱起来。我痛恨那个混帐中学爱尔敦.希尔斯。

   老斯宾塞这时又问了我什么话,可我没听清楚。我正在想老哈斯的事呢。"什么,先生?"我说。

   "你离开潘西,有什么特别不安的感觉吗?"

   "哦,倒是有一些不安的感觉。当然啦……可并不太多。至少现在还没有。我揣摩这桩事目前还没真正击中我的要害。不管什么事,总要过一些时候才能击中我的要害。我这会儿心里只想着星期三回家的事。我是窝囊废。"

   "你难道一点也不关心你自己的前途,孩子?"

   "哦,我对自己的前途是关心的,没错儿。当然啦。我当然关心。"我约莫考虑了一分钟。"不过并不太关心,我揣摩。并不太关心,我揣摩。"

   "你会的,"老斯宾塞说。"你会关心的,孩子。到了后悔莫及的时候,你会关心的。"

   我不爱听他说这样的话。听上去好象我就要死了似的,令人十分懊丧。"我揣摩我会这样的,"我说。

   "我很想让你的头脑恢复些理智,孩子。我想给你些帮助。我想给你些帮助,只要我做得到。"

   他倒是的确想给我些帮助。你看得出来。但问题是我们俩一个在南极一个在北极,相距太远;就是那么回事。"我知道您是想给我帮助,先生。"

   我说。"非常感谢。一点不假。我感谢您的好意。

   我真的感谢。"说着,我就从床边站起身来。嘿,哪怕要了我的命,也不能让我在那儿再坐十分钟了。"问题是,咳,我现在得走了。体育馆里还有不少东西等我去收拾,好带回家去。我真有不少东西得收拾呢。"他抬起头来望着我,又开始点起头来,脸上带着极其严肃的神情。突然间,我真为他难受得要命。可我实在没法再在那儿逗留了,象这样一个在南极一个在北极,他呢,还不住地往床上扔东西,可又老是半路掉下,他又穿着那件破旧的浴衣,还裸露出他的胸膛,房间里又弥漫着一股象征流行性感冒的维克斯滴鼻药水气味--在这情况下,我实在呆不下去了。"听我说,先生。别为我担心,"我说。"我是说老实话。我会改过来的。

   我现在只是在过年轻人的一关。谁都有一些关要过的,是不是呢?"

   "我不知道,孩子。我不知道。"

   我最讨厌人家这样回答问题。"当然啦。当然谁都有关要过,"我说。"我说的是实话,先生。

   请别为我担心。"我几乎把我的一只手搁在他的肩膀上了。"成吗?"我说。

   "你喝杯热巧克力再走好吗?斯宾塞太太马上--""谢谢,真谢谢,不过问题是,我得走啦。我得马上到体育馆去。谢谢。多谢您啦,先生。"

   于是我们握了手,说了一些废话。我心里可真难受得要命。

   "我会写信给您的,先生。注意您的感冒,多多保重身体。"

   "再见吧,孩子。"

   我随手带上门,向起居室走去,忽然又听到他大声跟我嚷了些什么,可我没听清楚。我深信他说的是"运气好!"我希望不是。我真他妈的希望不是。我自己从来不跟任何人说"运气好!"你只要仔细想一想,就会觉得这话真是可怕。

 

 

    你这一辈子大概没见过比我更会撤谎的人。说来真是可怕。我哪怕是到铺子里买一份杂志,有人要是在路上见了我,问我上哪儿去,我也许会说去看歌剧。真是可怕。因此我虽然跟老斯宾塞说了要到体育馆去收拾东西,其实完全是撤谎。我甚至并不把我那些混帐体育用具放在体育馆里。

   我在潘西的时候,就住在新宿舍的"奥森贝格纪念斋"里。那儿只住初中生和高中生。我是初中生。跟我同房的是一个高中生。这个斋是以一个从潘西毕业的校友奥森贝格为名的。他离开潘西以后,靠做殡仪馆生意发了横财。他在全国各地都没有殡仪馆停尸场,你只要付五块钱,就可以把你的家属埋葬掉。你真应该见见老奥森贝格。他或许光是把尸体装在麻袋里,往河里一扔完事。不管怎样,他给了潘西一大笔钱,他们就把我们佐的新斋以他的名字命名。今年头一次举行橄榄球赛,他坐了他那辆混帐大"凯迪拉克"来到学校里,我们大伙儿还得在看台上全体肃立,给他来一个"火车头"--那就是一阵欢呼。第二天早晨,他在小教堂里向我们演讲,讲了足足有十个钟头。他一开始就讲了五十来个粗俗的笑话,向我们证明他是个多么有趣的人物。真了不起。接着他告诉我们说,每逢他有什么困难,他从来不怕跪下来向上帝祷告。

   他教我们经常向上帝祷告--跟上帝无话不谈--不管我们是在什么地方。他教我们应该把耶酥看作是我们的好朋友。他说他自己就时时刻刻在跟耶稣谈话,甚至在他开车的时候。我听了真笑疼肚皮。

   我可以想象这个假模假式的大杂种怎样把排档推到第一档,同时请求耶稣多开几张私人小支票给他。

   他演讲最精采的部分是在半当中。他正在告诉我们他自己有多么了不起,多么出人头地,坐在我们前面一排的那个家伙,马萨拉,突然放了个响屁。于这种事确实很不雅,尤其是在教堂里,可也十分有趣。老马萨拉,他差点儿没掀掉屋顶。可以说几乎没一个人笑出声来,老奥森贝格还装出压根儿没听见的样子,可是校长老绥摩也在讲台上,正好坐在他旁边,你看得出他已经听见了。嘿,他该有多难受。他当时没说什么,可是第二天晚上他让我们到办公大楼上必修课的大教室里集合,他自己就登台演讲。他说那个在教堂里扰乱秩序的学生不配在潘西念书。我们想叫老马萨拉趁老绥摩正在演讲时照样再来一个响屁,可他当时心境不好,放不出来。嗯,不管怎样,反正那就是我住的地方。

   老奥森贝格纪念斋,在新宿舍里。

   离开老斯宾塞家回到我自己房里,自另有一种舒服,因为人人都去看球赛了,房里又正好放着暖气,使人感到十分温暖适意。我脱下大衣解下领带,松了衣领上的钮扣,然后戴上当天早晨在纽约买来的那顶帽子。那是顶红色猎人帽,有一个很长、很长的鸭舌。我发现自己把所有那些混帐宝剑都丢了之后,刚下了地铁就在那家体育用品商店橱窗里看见了这顶帽子,只花一块钱买了下来。我戴的时候,把鸭舌转到脑后--这样戴十分粗俗,我承认,可我喜欢这样戴。我这么戴了看去挺美。随后我拿出我正在看的那本书,坐到自己的椅子上。每个房里都有两把椅子。我坐一把,跟我住一房的华西.斯特拉德莱塔坐另一把。扶手都不象样子了,因为谁都坐在扶手上,不过这些椅子坐着确很舒服。

   我看的这本书是我从图书馆里误借来的。他们给错了书,我回到房里才发现。他们给了我《非洲见闻》。我本以为这是本臭书,其实不是,写的挺不错。我这人文化程度不高,不过看书倒不少。我最喜爱的作家是我哥哥DB,其次是林.拉德纳。在我进潘西前不久,我哥哥送了我一本拉德纳写的书,作为生日礼物。

   书里有几个十分离奇曲折的短剧,还有一个短篇小说,讲的是一个交通警察怎样爱上了一个非常漂亮的、老是开着快车的姑娘。只是那警察已经结了婚,因此不能再跟她结婚什么的。后来那姑娘撞车死了,原因是她老开着快车。这故事真把我迷住了。我最爱看的书是那种至少有几处是别出心裁的。我看过不少古典作品,象《还乡》之类,很喜爱它们;我也看过不少战争小说和侦探故事,却看不出什么名堂来,真正有意思的是那样一种书,你读完后,很希望写这书的作家是你极要好的朋友,你只要高兴,随时都可以打电话给他。可惜这样的书并不多。我倒不在乎打电话给这位伊萨克.迪纳逊。还有林.技德纳,不过DB告诉我说他已经死了。就拿毛姆著的《人类的枷锁》说吧。我去年夏天看了这本书。这是本挺不错的书,可你看了以后决不想打电话给毛姆。我说不出道理来。只是象他这样的人,我就是不愿打电话找他。我例宁可打电话找托马斯.哈代。我喜欢那个游苔莎.裴伊。

   嗯,我戴上我那顶新帽子,开始阅读那本《非洲见闻》。这本书我早巳看完,但我想把某些部分重新看一遍。我还只看了三页,就听见有人掀开淋浴室的门帘走来。我用不着抬头看,就知道来的人是谁。那是罗伯特.阿克莱,住在我隔壁房里的那个家伙。在我们这个斋里,每两个房间之间就有个淋浴室,老阿克莱一天总要闯进来找我那么八十五回。除了我,整个宿舍里恐怕只有他一个没去看球。他几乎哪里都不去。他是个十分古怪的家伙。他是个高中生,在潘西已整整念了四年,可是谁都管他叫"阿克莱",从不叫他名字。连跟他同屋住的赫伯.盖尔也从不叫他"鲍伯"甚至"阿克"。他以后万一结了婚,恐怕连他自己的者婆都要管他叫"阿克莱"。他是那种圆肩膀、个子极高极高的家伙--差不多有六英尺四--牙齿脏得要命。他使在我隔壁那么些时候,我从来没见他刷过一次牙。

   那副牙齿象是长着苔藓似的,真是脏得可怕,你要是在饭厅里看见他满嘴嚼着土豆泥和豌豆什么的,简直会使你他妈的恶心得想吐。此外他还长着满脸的粉刺。不象大多数人那样,在脑门上或者腮帮上长几颗,而是满脸都是。不仅如此,他还有可怕的性格。他为人也近于下流。说句老实话,我对他实在没什么好感。

   我可以感觉到他正站在我椅子背后的淋浴台上,偷看斯特拉德莱塔在不在屋里。他把斯特拉德莱塔恨得入骨,只要他在屋里,就从不进屋。他把每个人都恨得入骨,几乎可以这样说。

   他从淋浴台下来,走进我的房里。"唉,"他说。他老是这么唉声叹气的,好象极其腻烦或者极其疲乏似的。他不愿意让你想到他是来看望你或者拜访你什么的。他总要让你以为他是定错了路撞进来的,天知道!

   "唉,"我说,可我还是照样看我的书,并没抬起头来。遇到家阿克莱这样的家伙,你要是停止看书把头指起来,那你可就玩儿完了。你反正早晚要玩儿完,可你如果不马上抬起头来看,就不会完得那么快。

   他象往常一样,开始在房间里溜达起来,走得非常慢,随手从你书桌上或者五屉柜上拿起你的私人东西来看。他老是拿起你私人的东西来看。嘿,他这人有时真能叫你心里发毛。"剑斗得怎么样?"

   他说。他的目的只是不让我看书,不让我自得其乐。对于斗剑,他才他妈的不感兴趣呢。"我们赢了,还是怎么?"他说。

   "谁也没赢,"我说。可仍没拾起头来。

   "什么?"他说。不管什么事,他总要让你说两遍。

   "谁也没赢,"我说。我偷偷地瞟了一眼,看看他在我五屉柜上翻什么东西。他在看一张相片,是一个在纽约时经常跟我一起出去玩的名叫萨丽.海斯的姑娘的相片。自从我拿到那张混帐相片以后,他拿起来看了至少有五千次了。每次看完,他总是不放回原处。他是故意这样做的。你看得出来。

   "谁也没赢,"他说。"怎么可能呢?"

   "我把宝剑之类的混帐玩艺儿全都落在地铁上了。"我还是没抬起头来看他。

   "在地铁上,天哪!你把它们丢了,你是说?"

   "我们坐错了地铁。我老得站起来看车厢上的一张混帐地图。"

   他走过来于脆挡住了我的光线。"嗨,"我说,"你进来以后,我把这同一个句子都看了二十遍啦。"

   除了阿克莱,谁都听得出我他妈的这句话里的意思。可他听不出来。"他们会叫你赔钱吗?"他说。

   "我不知道,我也他妈的不在乎。你坐下来或者走开好不好,阿克莱孩子?你他妈的挡住我的光线啦。"他不喜欢人家叫他"阿克莱孩子"。他老是跟我说我是个他妈的孩子,因为我只十六岁,他十八岁。我一叫他"阿克莱孩子",就会气得他发疯。

   他依旧站在那里不动。他正是那种人,你越是叫他不要挡住光线,他越是站着不动。他最后倒是会走开的,可你跟他一说,他反倒走得更慢。"你在他妈的看什么?"他说。

   "一本他妈的书。"

   他用手把我的书往后一推,看那书名。"好不好?"他说。

   "我正在看的这个句子实在可怕极了。"我只要情绪对头,也很会说讽刺话。可他一点也听不出来。他又在房间里溜达起来,拿起我和斯特拉德莱塔的一切私人东西翻看。最后,我把那本书扔在地下了。有阿克莱那样的家伙在你身旁,你就甭想看书。简直不可能。

   我往椅背上一靠,看老阿克莱怎样在我房里自得其乐。我去纽约一趟回来,觉得有点儿累,开始打起呵欠来。接着我就开始逗笑玩儿。我有时候常常逗笑取乐,好让自己不至于腻烦。我当时于的,是把我的猎人帽鸭舌转到前面,然后把鸭舌拉下来遮住自己的眼睛。这么一来,我就什么也看不见了。"我想我快要成瞎子啦,"我用一种十分沙哑的声音说。"亲爱的妈妈,这儿的一切怎么都这样黑啊。"

   "你是疯子。我可以对天发誓,"阿克莱说。

   "亲爱的妈妈,把你的手给我吧。你于吗不把你的手给我呢!"

   "老天爷,别那么孩子气了。"

   我开始学瞎子那样往前瞎摸一气,可是没站起身来。我不住地说:"亲爱的妈妈,你干吗不把你的手给我呢?"我只是逗笑取乐。自然啦,这样做有时候能使我觉得十分决活。再说,我知道这还会让阿克莱烦恼得要命。他老是引起我的虐待狂。我对他往往很残忍。可是最后,我终于停止逗趣儿了。我仍将鸭舌转到脑后,稍稍休息一会儿。

   "这是谁的!"阿克莱说。他拿起我同屋的护膝给我看。阿克莱这家伙什么东西都要拿起来看。

   他甚至连你的下体护身也要拿起来看。我告诉他说这是斯特拉德莱塔的。他于是往斯特拉德莱塔的床上一扔。他从斯特拉德莱塔的五屉柜里拿出来,却往他的床上扔。

   他过来坐在斯特拉德莱塔的椅子扶手上。他从来不坐在椅子上。老是坐在扶手上。"他妈的这顶帽于是哪儿弄采购?"他说。

   "纽约。"

   "多少钱?"

   "一块。"

   "你上当啦。"他开始用火柴屁股剔起他的混帐指甲来。说来可笑。他的牙齿老是污秽不堪,他的耳朵也脏得要命,可他老是剔着自己的指甲。我揣摩他大概以为这么一来,他就成了个十分干净利落的小伙子了。他剔着指甲,又望了我的帽子一眼。"在我们家乡,就戴这样的帽子打鹿,老天爷,"他说。"这是顶打鹿时候戴的帽子。"

   "见你妈的鬼。"我脱下帽子看了一会儿。我还闭了一只眼睛,象是朝他瞄准似的。"这是顶打人时候戴的帽子,"我说。"我戴了它拿枪打人。"

   "你家里人知道你给开除了吗?"

   "不知道。"

   "斯特拉德莱塔他妈的到底到什么地方去了?"

   "看球去了。他约了女朋友。"我打了个呵欠。我全身都在打呵欠。这房间实在他妈的太热了。使人困得要命。在潘西,你不是冻得要死,就是热得要命。

   "伟大的斯特拉德莱塔,"阿克莱说。"--嗨。把你的剪刀借给我用一秒钟,成不成?拿起来方便吗?"

   "不。我已经收拾起来了。在壁橱的最上面呢。"

   "拿出来借我用一秒钟,成不成?"阿克莱说。"我指头上有个倒拉刺想铰掉哩。"

   他可不管你是不是已经把东西收拾起来放到了壁橱的最上面。我没办法,只好拿给他。拿的时候,还差点儿把命给送掉了。我刚打开壁橱的门,斯特拉德莱塔的网球拍--连着木架什么的--正好掉在我的头上。只听得啪的一声巨响,疼得我要命。可是乐得老阿克莱他妈的差点儿也送掉了命。

   他开始用他极高的假嗓音哈哈大笑起来。我拿下手提箱给他取剪刀,他始终哈哈地笑个不停。象这一类事--有人头上接了块石头什么的--总能让阿克莱笑得掉下裤子。"你真他妈的懂得幽默,阿克莱孩子,"我对他说。"你知道吗?"我把剪刀递给了他。"让我来当你的后台老板。我可以送你到混帐的电台上去广播。"我又坐到自己的椅子上。

   他开始铰他那看上去又粗又硬的指甲。"你用一下桌子好不好?"我说。"给我铰在桌子上成吗?我不想在今天夜里光着脚踩你那爪子一样的指甲。"

   可他还是照样铰在地板上。一点不懂礼貌。我说的实话。

   "期特拉德莱塔约的女朋友是谁?"他说。他老是打听斯特拉德莱塔约的女朋友是谁,尽管他恨斯特拉德莱塔入骨。

   "我不知道。干吗?"

   "不干吗。嘿,我受不了那婊子养的。那个婊子养的实在叫我受不了。"

   "他可爱你爱得要命呢。他告诉我说他以为你是个他妈的王子,"我说。我逗趣儿的时候,常常管人叫"王子"。这能给我解闷取乐。

   "他老是摆出那种高人一等的臭架子,"阿克莱说。"我实在受不了那个婊子养的,你看得出他--""你能不能把指甲铰在桌子上呢?嗨?"我说。"我已经跟你说了约莫五十--""他老是摆出他妈的那种高人一等的臭架子,"阿克莱说。"我甚至觉得那婊子养的缺少智力。他认为自己很聪明。他认为他大概是世界上最最--""阿克莱!天哪。你到底能不能把你爪子似的指甲铰在桌子上?我已经跟你说了五十遍啦。"

   他开始把指甲铰在桌子上,算是换换口味。你只有对他大声呦喝,他才会照着你的话去做。

   我朝着他看了一会儿。接着我说:"我知道你为什么要痛恨斯特拉德莱塔,那是因为他偶尔叫你刷牙。他虽然大声嚷嚷,倒不是有心侮辱你。他说话方式不对,不过他并不是有意侮辱你。他的意思不过是说你要是偶尔刷刷牙,就会好看得多,也舒服得多。"

   "我怎么不刷牙。别给我来这一套。"

   "不,你不刷牙。我看见你不刷牙,"我说。

   可我倒不是成心给他难看。说起来我还有点为他难受呢。我是说如果有人说你并不刷牙,那自然不是什么太愉快的事。"斯特拉德莱塔这人还不错。他心眼儿不算太坏,"我说。"你不了解他,毛病就在这里。"

   "我仍要说他是婊子养的。他是个自高自大的婊子养的。"

   "他的确自高自大,可他在某些事情上也十分慷慨。他的确是这样的,"我说。"瞧。比如斯特拉德莱塔打着根领带,你见了很喜爱。比如说他打着的那根领带你喜欢得要命--我只是随便举个例子。你知道他会怎么样?他说不定会解下来送你。

   他的确会。要不然--你知道他会怎么样?他会把领带搁在你床上或者其他什么地方。可他会把那根混帐领带送你。大多数人恐怕只会--""他妈的,"阿克莱说。"我要是有他那么些钱,我也会这样做的。"

   "不,你不会的。"我摇摇头。"不,你不会的,阿克莱孩子。你要是有他那么些钱,你就会成为一个最最大的--""别再叫我'阿克莱孩子',他妈的。我大得都可以当你混帐的爸爸啦。"

   "不,你当不了。"嘿,他有时候的确讨人厌。他从不放过一个机会让你知道你是十六他是十八。"首先,我决不会让你进我那混帐的家门,"我说。

   "呃,只要你别老是冲着我叫--"突然间,房门开了,老斯特拉德莱塔一下冲进房来,样子十分匆忙。他者是那么匆忙。一切事情在他看来都是了不起的大事。他走过来象他妈的闹着玩似的在我两边脸上重重拍了两下--这种举动有时真是叫人哭笑不得。"听着,"他说。"你今天晚上有事出去吗?"

   "我不知道。我可能出去。他妈的外面在干吗啦--下雪了?"他的大衣上全是雪。

   "是的。听着。你要是不到哪儿去,能不能把你那件狗齿花纹呢上衣借我穿一下?"

   "谁赢了?"我说。

   "还只赛了半场。我们不看了,"斯特拉德莱塔说。"不开玩笑,今晚上你到底穿不穿那件狗齿花纹上衣?我那件灰法兰绒上面全都溅上脏东西啦。"

   "穿倒不穿,只是我不愿意你把肩膀撑得他妈的挺大,"我说。我们俩的身高差不多,可他的体重几乎超过我一倍。他的肩膀宽极了。

   "我不会把肩膀撑大的。"他急忙向壁橱走去。"孩子你好,阿克莱?"他跟阿克莱说。斯特拉德莱塔倒是个挺和气的家伙。和气里面带着点儿假,不过他见了阿克莱至少总要打个招呼什么的。

   他说"孩子你好?"的时候,阿克莱好象是哼了一声。他不会回答他,可他没胆量连哼也不哼一声。接着他对我说:"我想我该走了。再见。"

   "好吧,"我说。象他这号人离开你回他自己的房间去,你决不至于为他心碎的。"

   老斯特拉德莱塔开始脱大衣解领带。"我想马上来个快速刮脸,"他说。他是个大胡子。他的确是。

   "你的女朋友呢?"我问他。

   "她在侧屋等我。"他把洗脸用具和毛巾夹在胳肢窝下走出房去,连衬衫也没穿一件。他老是光着上半身到处跑,因为他觉得自己的体格挺他妈的魁伟。他的体格倒也的确魁伟,这一点我得承认。

 

 

    我闲着没事,也就到盥洗室里,在他刮脸时候跟他聊天。盥洗室里就只我们两个,因为全校的人还在外面看球赛。室内热得要命,窗子上全是水汽。紧靠着墙装有一溜盥洗盆,约莫十个左右。斯特拉德莱塔使用中间那个,我就坐到他紧旁边的那个盥洗盆上,开始把那个冷水龙头开了又关--这是我的一种病态的爱好。斯特拉德莱塔一边刮脸,一边吹着《印度之歌》口哨。他吹起口哨来声音很尖,可是调子几乎永远没有对的时候,而他还总是挑那些连最会吹口哨的人也吹不好的歌曲来吹,如《印度之歌》或《十号路上大屠杀》。他真能把一支歌吹得一塌糊涂。

   你记得我说过阿克莱的个人习惯十分邋遢吗?

   呃,斯特拉德莱塔也一样,只是方式不同。斯特拉德莱塔是私底下邋遢。他外貌总是挺不错,这个斯特拉德莱塔。可是随便举个例子说吧,你拿起他刮脸用的剃刀看看。那剃刀锈得象块烂铁,沾满了肥皂沫、胡子之类的脏东西。他从来不把剃刀擦干净。他打扮停当以后,外貌例挺漂亮,可你要是象我一样熟悉他的为人,就会知道他私底下原是个邋遢鬼。他之所以把自己打扮得漂漂亮亮,是因为他疯狂地爱着他自己。他自以为是西半球上最最漂亮的男子。他长的倒是蛮漂亮--我承认这一点。可他只是那一类型的漂亮男子,就是说你父母如果在《年鉴》上看到了他的照片,马上会说,"这孩子是谁?"--我的意思是说他只是那种《年鉴》上的漂亮男子。在潘西我见过不少人都要比斯特拉德莱塔漂亮,不过你如果在《年鉴》上见了他们的照片,决不会觉得他们漂亮。他们不是显得鼻子太大,就是两耳招风。我自己常常有这经验。

   嗯,我当时坐在斯特技德莱塔旁边的盥洗盆上,看着他刮脸,手里玩弄着水龙头,把它开一会儿关一会儿。我仍旧戴着我那顶红色猎人帽,鸭舌也仍转在脑后。这顶帽子的确让我心里得意。

   "嗨,"斯特拉德莱塔说。"肯大大帮我一个忙吗?"

   "什么事?"我说,并不太热心。他老是要求别人大大帮他一个性。有一种长得十分漂亮的家伙,或者一种自以为了不起的人物,他们老是要求别人大大帮他一个忙。他们因为疯狂地爱着自己,也就以为人人都疯狂她爱着他们,人人都渴望着替他们当差。说起来确实有点儿好笑。

   "你今天晚上出去吗?"

   "我可能出去。也可能不出去。我不知道。干吗?"

   "我得准备星期一的历史课,有约莫一百页书要看,"他说。"你能不能代我写一篇作文,应付一下英文课?我要你帮忙的原因,是因为到了星期一再不把那篇混帐玩艺儿交上去,我就要吃不了兜看走啦。成不成?"

   这事非常滑稽。的确滑稽。

   "我考不及格,给开除出了这个混帐学校,你倒来要求我代你写一篇混帐作文,"我说。

   "不错,我知道。问题是,我要是再不交,就要吃不了兜着走啦。作个朋友吧。成吗?"

   我没马上回答他。对付斯特拉德莱塔这样的杂种,最好的办法是卖关子。

   "什么题目?"

   "写什么都成。只要是描写性的。一个房间。

   或者一所房子。或者什么你过去住过助地方--你知道。只要他妈的是描写的就成。"他一边说,一边打了个很大的呵欠。就是这类事让我十分恼火。我是说,如果有人一边口口声声要求你帮他妈的什么忙,一边却那么打着呵欠。"只是别写的太好,"他说。"那个婊子养的哈兹尔以为你的英文好的了不得,他也知道你跟我同住一屋。因此我意思是你别把标点之类的玩艺儿放对位置。"

   这又是另一类让我十分恼火的事。我是说如果你作文做得好,可是有人口口声声谈着标点。斯特拉德莱塔老干这一类事。他要你觉得,他的作文之所以做不好,仅仅是因为他把标点全放错了位置。

   在这方面他也有点象阿克莱。有一次我坐在阿克莱旁边看比赛篮球。我们队里有员棒将,叫胡维.考埃尔,能中场投篮,百发百中,连球架上的板都不碰一下。阿克莱在他妈的整个比赛中却老是说考埃尔的身材打篮球合适极了。天哪,我多讨厌这类玩艺儿。

   我在盥洗盆上坐了会儿,觉得腻烦了,心里一时高兴,就往后退了几步,开始跳起踢蹬舞来。我只是想让自己开开心。我实际上并不会跳踢蹬舞这类玩艺儿,不过盥洗室里是石头地板,跳踢蹬舞十分合适。我开始学电影里的某个家伙。是那种歌舞片里的。我把电影恨得象毒药似的,可我倒是很高兴学电影里的动作。老斯特拉德莱塔刮脸的时候在镜子里看着我跳舞。我也极需要一个观众。我喜欢当着别人卖弄自己。"我是混帐州长的儿子,"我说。我那样不要命地跳着踢蹬舞,都快把自己累死了。"我父亲不让我跳踢蹬舞。他要我上牛津。可这是他妈的我的命--踢蹬舞。"老斯特拉德莱塔笑了。他这人倒是有几分幽默感。"今天是'齐格飞歌舞团'开幕的第一夜。"我都喘不过气来了。我的呼吸本来就十分短促。"那位领舞的不能上场。

   他醉的象只王八啦。那么谁来替他上场呢?我,只有我。混帐老州长的小儿子。"

   "你哪儿弄来的这顶帽子?"斯特拉德莱塔说。他指的是我那顶猎人帽。他还一直没看见哩。

   我实在喘不过气来了,所以我就不再逗笑取乐。我脱下帽子看了第九十遍。"今天早晨我在纽约买的。一块钱。你喜欢吗?"

   斯特拉德莱塔点点头。"很漂亮,"他说。可是他只是为了讨我欢喜,因为他接着马上说:"喂,你到底肯不肯替我写那篇作文?我得知道一下。"

   "要是我有时间,成。要是我没有时间,不成,"我说。我又过去坐在他身边的那个盥洗盆上。"你约的女朋友是谁?"我问他。"费兹吉拉德?"

   "去你妈的,不是!我不是早跟你说了,我早跟那母猪一刀两断啦。"

   "真的吗?把她转让给我吧,嘿。不开玩笑。

   她很合我胃口。"

   "就给你吧……对你说来她年纪太大啦。"

   突然间--没有任何其他原因,只不过我一时高兴,想逗趣儿--我很想跳下盥洗盆,给老斯特拉德莱塔来个"半纳尔逊"。你要是不知道什么是"半纳尔逊",那么我来告诉你吧,那是摔交的一种解数,就是用胳膊卡住对方的脖子,如果需要,都可以把他掐死。我就这么做了。我象一只他妈的美洲豹似的一下扑到了他身上。

   "住手,霍尔顿,老天爷!"斯特拉德莱塔说。他没心思逗趣儿。他正在一个劲儿刮胡子。

   "你要让我怎么着--割掉我的混帐脑袋瓜儿?"

   我可没松手。我已紧紧地把他的脖子卡住了。

   "你有本事,就从我的铁臂中挣脱出来,"我说。

   "--天爷!"他放下剃刀,猛地把两臂一抬,挣脱了我的掌握。他是个极有力气的大个儿,我是个极没力气的瘦个子。"哎,别瞎闹啦,"他说。他又把脸刮了一道。每次他总要刮两道,保持外表美观。就用那把脏得要命的剃刀。

   "你约的要不是费兹吉拉德,那又是谁呢?"

   我问他。我又坐到他旁边的盥洗盆上。"是不是菲丽丝.史密斯那小妞?"

   "不是。本来应该是她,后来不知怎么全都搞乱了。我这会约的是跟布德.莎同屋的那位……

   嗨。我差点儿忘了。她认得你呢。"

   "谁认得我?"

   "我约的那位。"

   "是吗?"我说。"她叫什么名字?"我倒是感兴趣了。'"让我想一想……啊。琼.迦拉格。"

   嘿,他这么一说,我差点儿倒在地上死去了。

   ".迦拉格,"我说。他一说这话,我甚至都从盥洗盆上站起来,差点儿倒在地上死了。"你他妈的说得不错,我认识她。前年夏天,她几乎就住在我家隔壁。她家养了只他妈的道柏曼种大狗。

   我就是因为那狗才跟她认识的。她的狗老是到我们--""你挡住我的光线啦,霍尔顿,老天爷,"斯特拉德莱塔说。"你非站在那儿不成吗?"

   嘿,我心里兴奋着呢。我的确很兴奋。

   "她在哪儿?"我问他。"我应该下去跟她打个招呼才是。她在哪儿呢?在侧屋里?"

   "不错。"

   "她怎么会提到我的?她现在是在BM吗?

   她说过可能要上那儿去。不过她也说可能上西普莱。我一直以为她是在西普莱呢。她怎么会提到我的?"我心里十分兴奋。我的确十分兴奋。

   "我不知道,老天爷。请你起来一下,成不成?你坐在我毛巾上啦,"斯特拉德莱塔说。我确实坐在他那块混帐毛巾上了。

   ".迦拉格,"我说。我念念不忘这件事。

   "老天爷。"

   老斯特拉德莱塔在往他的头发上敷维他力斯。

   是我的维他力斯。

   "她是个舞蹈家,"我说。"会跳芭蕾舞什么的。那会儿正是最热的暑天,她每天还要练习两个小时,从不间断。她担心自己的大腿可能变粗变难看。我老跟她在一起下象棋。"

   "你老跟她在一起下什么来着?"

   "象棋。"

   "象棋,老天爷!"

   "不错。她从来不走她的那些国王。她有了国王,却不肯使用,只是让它呆在最后一排,从来不使用。她就是喜欢它们在后排呆着时的那种样子。"

   斯特拉德莱塔没言语。这类玩艺儿一般人都不感兴趣。

   "她母亲跟我们在同一个俱乐部里,"我说。

   "我偶尔也帮人拾球,光是为挣几个钱。我给她母亲抬过一两回球。她约莫进九个穴,得一百七十来分。"

   斯特拉德莱塔简直不在听。他正在梳他一绺绺漂亮的卷发。

   "我应该下去至少跟她打个招呼,"我说。

   "干吗不去呢?"

   "我一会儿就去。"

   他又重新分起他的头发来。他梳头总要梳那么个把钟头。

   "她母亲跟她父亲离了婚,又跟一个酒鬼结了婚,"我说。"一个皮包骨头的家伙,腿上长满了毛。我记得很清楚。他一天到晚穿着短裤。琴说他大概是个剧作家什么的,不过我只见他一天到晚喝酒,听收音机里的每一个混帐侦探节目。还光着身子他妈的满屋子跑,不怕有琴在场。"

   "是吗?"斯特技德莱塔说。这真的让他感兴呼了:听到一个酒鬼光着身子满屋子跑,还有琴在场。斯特拉德莱塔是个非常好色的杂种。

   "她的童年真是糟糕透了。我不开玩笑。"

   可斯特拉德莱塔对这不感兴趣。他感兴趣的只是那些非常色情的东西。

   ".迦拉格,老夫爷。"我念念不忘。我确是念念不忘。"至少,我应该下去跟她打个招呼。"

   "你他妈的干吗不去,光嘴里唠叨着?"斯特拉德莱塔说。

   我走到窗边,可是望出去什么也看不见,因为盥洗室里热得要命,窗玻璃上全是水汽。"我这会儿没那心情,"我说。我的确没那心情。做那类事,你总得有那心情才成。"我还以为她上西普莱了呢。我真会发誓说她是去西普莱啦。"我手足无措,就在盥洗室里蹭蹬了一会儿。"她爱看这场球赛吗?"我说。

   "嗯,我揣摩她爱看。我不知道。"

   "她告诉你我们老在一起下棋吗?"

   "我不知道。老天爷,我只是刚遇到她呢,"斯特技拉莱塔说。他刚搞完他漂亮的混帐头发,正在收拾他那套脏得要命的梳装用具。

   "听我说。你代我向她问好,成不成?"

   "好吧,"斯特拉德莱塔说,可我知道他大概不会。象斯特拉德莱塔那样的家伙,他们是从来不代别人问候人的。

   他回房去了,可我仍在盥洗室里呆了一会儿,想着琴。随后我也回到了房里。

   我进房时,斯特拉德莱塔正在镜前打领带。他这一辈子总有他妈的一半时间是在镜子面前度过的。我在自己的椅子上坐下,望了他一会儿。

   "嗨,"我说。"别告诉地我给开除了,成不成?"

   "好吧。"

   斯特拉德莱塔就是这一点好。在一些小事情上,他跟阿克莱不一样,你用不着跟他仔细解释。

   这多半是因为,我揣摩,他对一切都不怎么感兴趣。这是真正的原因。阿克莱就不一样。阿克莱是个极好管闲事的杂种。

   他穿上了我那件狗齿花纹的上衣。

   "老天爷,可别全都给我撑大了,"我说。"我还只穿过两回哩。"

   "我不会的。他妈的我的香烟到哪儿去了?"

   "在书桌上。"他老是记不得自己搁的东西在什么地方。"在你的围巾底下。"他把香烟装进了他的上衣口袋--我的上衣口袋。

   我突然把我那顶猎人帽的鸭舌转到前面,算是换个花样。我忽然精神紧张起来。我是个精神很容易紧张的人。"听我说,你约了你的女朋友打算上哪儿呢?"我间他。"你决定了吗?"

   "我不知道。要是来得及,也许上纽约。她外出时间只签到九点三十,老天爷。"

   我不喜欢他说话的口气,所以我说:"她所以只签到九点三十,大概是因为她不知道你是个多漂亮、多迷人的杂种。她要是知道了,恐怕要签到明天早晨九点三十哩。"

   "一点不错,"斯特拉德莱塔说。你很难一下子惹他生气。他太自高自大了。"别再开玩笑了。

   替我写那篇作文吧,"他说。他已经穿上了大衣,马上准备走了。"别费太大劲儿,只要写篇描写的文章就成。可以吗?"

   我没回答他。我没那心情。我只说了句:"问问她下棋的时候是不是还把所有的国王都留在后排。"

   "好的,"斯特拉德莱塔说,可我知道他决不会问她。"请放心,"他砰的一声关上门,走出了房间。

   他走后,我又坐了约莫半个小时。我是说我光是坐在椅子里,什么事也不做。我一心想着琴,还想着斯特拉德莱塔跟她约会。我心绪十分不宁,都快疯了。我已经跟你说过,期待拉德莱塔是个多么好色的杂种。

   一霎时,阿克莱又闯了进来,跟平常一样是掀开淋浴室门帘进来的。在我混帐的一生中,就这一次见了他我从心底里觉得高兴。他给我打了岔,让我想到别的事情上去。

   他一直呆到吃饭的时候,议论着潘西里面他所痛恨的一切人,一边不住地挤他腮帮上的一个大粉刺。他甚至连手绢也不用。我甚至都不认为这杂种有手绢,我跟你老实说。至少,我从来没看见他用过手绢。

 

 

    在潘西,一到星期六晚上我们总是吃同样的菜。这应该算是道好菜,因为他们给你吃牛排。我愿意拿出一千块钱打赌,他们之所以这样做,只是因为星期天总有不少学生家长来校,老绥摩大概认为每个学生的母亲都会问她们的宝贝儿子昨天晚饭吃些什么,他就会回答:"牛排。"多大的骗局。

   你应该看看那牛排的样子,全都又硬又干,连切都切不开。而且在吃牛排的晚上,总是给你有很多硬块的土豆泥,饭后点心也是苹果面包屑做的布丁,除了不懂事的低班小鬼和象阿克莱这类什么都吃的家伙以外,谁都不吃。

   可是我们一出餐厅,不禁高兴起来。地上的积雪已有约莫三英寸厚,上面还在疯狂地下个不停。

   那景色真是美极了。我们立刻打起雪仗来,东奔西跑阉着玩。的确很孩子气,不过每个人都玩得挺痛快。

   我没有约会,就跟我的朋友马尔.勃罗萨德--那个参加摔交队的--商量定,打算搭公共汽车到埃杰斯镇去吃一客汉堡牛排,或者再看一场他妈的混帐电影。我们两个谁也不想在学校里烂屁股坐整整一晚。我问马尔能不能让阿克莱跟我们一块儿去,我之所以这样问,是因为阿克莱在星期六晚上什么事也不做,只是呆在自己房里,挤挤脸上的粉刺。马尔说能倒是能,不过他并不太感兴趣。他不怎么喜欢阿克莱。不管怎样,我们俩都各自回房收拾东西,我一边穿高统橡皮套鞋什么的,一边大声嚷嚷着问老阿克莱去不去看电影。他从淋浴室门帘听得见我说话,可是他并不马上回答。他就是那样一种人,问他什么事都不肯马上回答。最后他从混帐门帘那儿过来了,站在淋浴台上,问我还有谁同去。他老是打听什么人去什么地方。我敢发誓,这家伙要是在哪儿沉了船,你把他救到一只他妈的船里,他甚至在跨上救生船之前都要打听是哪个在划船。我告诉他说还有马尔.勃罗萨德同去。他说:"那杂种……好吧。等我一会儿。"听起来倒象是他在给你很大面子呢。

   他总要过那么五个钟头才能收拾停当。在他收拾打扮的时候,我走到自己的窗口,打开窗,光着手捏了个雪球。这雪捏起雪球来真是好极了。不过我没往任何东西上扔。我本来要往一辆停在街对面的汽车上扔,可我后来改变了主意。那汽车看去那么白,那么漂亮。跟着我要往一个救火龙头上扔,可那东西也显得那么白,那么漂亮。最后我没往任何东西上扔,只是关了窗,在房间里走来走去,把雪球捏得硬上加硬。后来,我、勃罗萨德和阿克莱三个一起上公共汽车的时候,我手里还捏着那个雪球。公共汽车司机开了门,要我把雪球扔掉。我告诉他说我不会拿它扔任何人,可他不信。人们就是不信你的话。

   勃罗萨德和阿克莱两个都已看过正在上演的电影,所以我们只是吃了两客汉堡牛排,玩了会儿弹球机,随后乘公共汽车回潘西。我倒不在乎没看到电影。好象是个喜剧,凯利.格兰特主演,反正是那一套玩艺儿。再说,我过去也跟勃罗萨德和阿克莱一起看过电影,他们两个见了一些毫不可笑的事物,都会笑得象个疯子似的。我甚至不乐意坐在他们身旁看电影。

   我们回到宿舍里,还只八点三刻。老勃罗萨德是个桥牌迷,一回到宿舍,就到处找人打牌去了。

   老阿克莱在我房里呆了会儿,只是为了换换口味。

   不过这次他不是坐在斯特拉德莱塔椅子的扶手上,而是干脆躺在我的床上,他的整个脸儿还都贴在我的枕头上。他开始用极单调的声音嘟嘟哝哝地说起话来,同时一个劲儿挤着满脸的粉刺。我给了他总有一千个暗示,都没法把他打发走。他只顾用那种微单调的声音絮絮地谈着今年夏天他怎样跟一个小妞儿发生暖昧关系。这事他跟我说道总有一百遍了,每次说的都不一样。这一分钟说是在他表兄的别克牌汽车里跟她胡搞,下一分钟又说是在什么海滨木板路下面。全是一派胡言,自然啦。在我看来,他倒真是个不折不扣的童男。我怀疑他甚至连女人摸都不曾摸过一下哩。嗯,我最后不得不直截了当地告诉他说,我要替斯特拉德莱塔写一篇作文,他得他妈的给我出去,好让我凝神思索。他最后倒是出去了,可是跟往常一样磨蹭了半天才走。他走后,我换上睡衣和浴衣,戴上我那顶猎人帽,开始写起作文来。

   问题是,我实在想不起有什么房间、屋子或者其他什么东西可以照斯特拉德莱塔说的那样加以描写。至少我自己对描写房屋之类的东西不太感兴趣。因此我索性描写起我弟弟艾里的垒球手套来。

   这题目例极容易描写。的确容易。我弟弟是个用左手接球的外野手,所以那是只左手手套。描写这题目的动人之处在于手套的指头上、指缝里到处写着诗。用绿墨水写成。他写这些诗的目的,是呆在野上遇到没人攻球的时候可供阅读。他已经死了,是一九四六年七月十八日我们在缅因的时候患白血球病死的。你准会喜欢他。他比我小两岁,可比我聪明五十倍。他实在聪明过人。他的老师们老是写信给我母亲,告诉她班上有他那么个学生他们有多高兴。而他们也决不是随便说说的。他们说的确是心里话。他不仅是全家最聪明的孩子,而且在许多方面还是最讨人喜欢的孩子。他从来不跟人发脾气。

   大家都认为有红头发的人最最容易发脾气。可艾里从来不发脾气,他的头发倒是极红极红。我来告诉你他有什么样的红头发吧。我十岁就开始打高尔夫球,我还记得十二岁那年夏天,有一次正在打高尔夫球,我忽然觉得只要猛一转身,就会看见艾里。

   我转身一看,果然不错,他正坐在篱笆外面的自行车上呢--围着高尔夫球场有道篱笆--他坐在离我约莫一百五十码的地方,在看我打球。他就有那样的红头发。可是天哪,他真是个好孩子,嘿。他往往在饭桌上忽然想起什么,一下子笑得不可开交,差点儿从椅子上摔了下来。我还只十三岁的时候,他们就要送我去作精神分析,因为我用拳头把汽车间里的玻璃窗全都打碎了。我并不怪他们,我真的不怪。他死的那天晚上我睡在汽车房里,用拳头把那些混帐玻璃窗全都打碎了,光是为了出气。

   我甚至还想把那年夏天买的那辆旅行汽车上的玻璃也都打碎,可我的手已经鲜血淋漓,使不出劲儿了。这样做的确傻得要命,我承认,可我简直不知道自己在干什么,再说你也不认识艾里。现在到了阴雨天,我那只手仍要作痛,此后也一直攥不拢拳头一一我的意思是说攥不紧--可是除此以外我并不怎么在乎。我是说我反正不想当他妈的外科医生或者小提琴家什么的。

   嗯,这就是我给斯特拉德莱塔写的作文。老艾里的垒球手套。那手套凑巧在我的手提箱里,我就把它取出来,抄下写在上面的那些诗。我要做的只有一件事,就是把艾里的名字换了,不让人知道这是我弟弟的名字而不是斯特拉德莱塔弟弟的名字。

   我并不太愿意这么做,可我一时想不起有什么其他东西可以描写。再说,我倒是有点儿喜欢写这题目。我写了约莫一个钟头,因为我得使用斯特拉德莱塔的混帐打字机,使起来很不顺手。我没有用自己打字机的原因是我已把它借给楼下的一个家伙了。

   我写完的时候,约莫是十点三十分,我揣摩。

   我一点不觉得困,所以走到窗口往外眺望一会儿,雪已经停了,可是每隔一会儿,你就可以听见一辆抛锚的汽车发动引擎的声音。你还可以听见老阿克莱打呼噜的声音。就从混帐的淋浴室门帘那儿传来。他的鼻腔有毛病,睡着的时候呼吸不怎么畅快。那家伙简直样样毛病都全了。鼻腔炎,粉刺,黄牙,口臭,灰指甲。你有时真不禁有点替这个倒楣的婊子养的难受呢。

 

 

    有的事情很难回忆。我现在正在回想斯特拉德莱塔跟琴约会后回来时候的情景。我是说我怎么也记不起我听到他混帐的脚步声从走廊传来时我到底在干什么。我大概还在往窗外眺望,可我发誓说我怎么也记不起来了。原因是,我当时心里烦得要命。我要是为什么事心里真正烦起来,就不再胡闹。我心里一烦,甚至都得上厕所。只是我不肯动窝儿,我烦得甚至都不想动,我不愿随便动窝儿打断自己的烦恼。要是你认识斯特拉德莱塔,你也一准会心烦。我曾跟那杂种一块儿约会过女朋友,我知道我自己说的什么。他这人不知廉耻。他真是这样的人。

   嗯,走廊上铺着厚厚的油毡,你听得见他那混帐的脚步声正往房里走来。我甚至记不起他进来的时候我到底坐在什么地方--坐在窗边呢,还是坐在我自己的或者他的椅子上。我可以发誓,我再也记不得了。

   他进来的时候没事找碴儿,怪外面天气太冷。

   接着他说:"他妈的这儿的人都到哪儿去了?简直象个混帐停尸场。"我甚至都没肯答理他。谁叫他自己他妈的那么傻,都不知道这是星期六晚上,大伙儿不是外出度周末,就是睡觉或回家去了,所以我也不会急于告诉他。他开始脱衣服。关于琴的事他一字没提。连吭都没吭一声。我也和他一样。我只是拿眼望着他。他呢,只是就我借给他穿狗齿花纹上衣的事向我道谢了一声。他把上衣搭在一个衣架上,放进了壁橱。

   后来,他在解领带的时候,问我替他写了那篇混帐作文没有。我对他说就在他自己的混帐床上。

   他走过去一面解衬衫钮扣,一面看作文。他站在那儿,一边看,一边用手摩挲着自己光着的胸脯和肚皮,脸上露出一种极傻的神情。他老是在摩挲自己的肚皮和胸脯。他疯狂地爱着自己。

   突然他说:"天哪,霍尔顿。这写的是一只混帐的垒球手套呢。"

   "怎么啦?"我说。冷得象块冰。

   "你说怎么啦是什么意思?我不是跟你说过,要写他妈的一个房间、一所房子什么的!"

   "你说要写篇描写文章。要是写了篇谈垒球手套购,他妈的有什么不一样?"

   "真他妈的。"他气得要命。他这次是真生气了。"你干的事情没一样对头。"他看着我。"怪不得要把你他妈的开除出去,"他说。"要你于的事他妈的没一样是好好照着干的。我说的是心里话。他妈的一样也没有。"

   "好吧,那就还给我好了,"我说。我走过去,把作文从他的混帐手里夺过来,撕得粉碎。

   "你他妈的写那玩艺儿干什么?"他说。

   我甚至都没回答他。我只是把碎纸扔进字纸篓,回到自己的床上躺下,有好长时间我们两人谁都没说话。他把衣服全脱了,只剩下裤衩,我呢,就歪在床上点了支烟。宿舍里本来不准吸烟,可等到夜深人静,大伙儿有的睡觉有的外出,没人闻得到烟味的时候,你可以偷着吸。再说,我这样做也是故意跟斯特拉德莱塔捣蛋。他只要见人不守校规,就会气得发疯。他自己从来不在宿舍里吸烟。

   只有我一个人吸。

   关于琴的事他依旧只字不提。因此最后我说:"要是她外出的时间只签到九点三十,你倒他妈的回来得挺晚呢。你让她回去得迟了?"

   他正在自己的床沿上铰他的混帐脚趾甲,听我问他,就回答说:"迟到一两分钟。在星期六晚上,有谁他妈的把外出时间签到九点三十的?"天哪,我有多恨他,"你们到纽约去了没有?"我说。

   "你疯了?她要是只签到九点三十,我们怎么能去他妈的纽约?"

   "这倒是糟糕。"

   他抬起头来瞅着我。"听着,"他说,"你要是非在房里抽烟不可,干吗不到厕所里去抽?你或许他妈的就要滚出这个学校,我可要一直呆到毕业哩。"

   我没理睬他。我真的没有。我象疯子似的一个劲儿抽着烟。我只是侧转身来瞅着他铰他的混帐脚趾甲。什么个学校!你老得瞅着人铰他的混帐脚趾甲,或是挤他的粉刺,或是诸如此类的玩艺儿。

   "你替我问候她了没有?"我问他。

   "晤。"

   他问了才怪哩,这杂种!

   "她说了些什么?"我说。"你可曾问她下棋的时候是不是还把所有的国王都留在后排?"

   "没有,我没问她。你他妈的以为我们整个晚上都在干什么--在下棋吗,我的天?"

   我甚至没答理他。天哪,我有多恨他。

   "你们要是没上纽约,你带她上哪儿去啦?"

   过了一会我问他说,说的时候禁不住声音直打颤。

   嘿,我心里真是不安得很。我只是感觉到有什么不对头的事发生了。

   他已经铰完了他的混账脚趾甲,所以他从床上起身,光穿着他妈的裤衩,就他妈的兴致勃勃地跟我闹着玩儿起来。他走到我床边,俯在我身上,开始玩笑地拿拳头打我的肩膀。"别闹啦,"我说。"你们要是没上纽约,你带着她到底上哪啦?"

   "哪也没去。我们就坐在他妈的汽车里面。"

   他又玩笑地在我肩膀上轻轻打了一拳。

   "别闹啦,"我说。"谁的汽车?"

   "埃德.班基的。"

   埃德.班基是潘西的篮球教练。老斯特拉德莱塔在篮球队里打中锋,是他的得意弟子之一,所以斯特拉德莱塔每次借汽车,埃德.班基总是借给他。学生们本来是不准借用教职人员的汽车的,可是所有那些搞体育的杂种全都一鼻孔出气。我就读的每个学校里,所有那些搞体育的杂种全都一鼻孔出气。

   斯特拉德莱塔还一个劲儿在我肩上练习拳击。

   他本来用手拿着牙刷,现在却把它叼在嘴里。"你干了些什么啦?"我说。"在埃德.班基的混帐汽车里跟她干那事儿啦?"我的声音可真是抖得厉害。

   "你说的什么话。要我用肥皂把你的嘴洗洗干净吗?"

   "到底干了没有?"

   "那可是职业性的秘密,老弟。"

   底下情况,我记不得太清楚了。我只知道我从床上起来,好象要到盥洗室去似的,可我突然打了他一拳,使尽了我全身的力气,这一拳本来想打在那把叼在他嘴里的牙刷上,好让那牙刷一家伙戳穿他的混帐喉咙,可惜我打偏了。我没打中,只打在他的半边脑袋上。我也许打得他有点儿疼,可并不疼得象我所希望的那么厉害。我本来也许可以打得他很疼,可我是用右手打的,一点也使不上劲儿。

   嗯,我记得的下一件事,就是我已躺在混帐地板上了,他满脸通红地坐在我胸脯上。那就是说他用他妈的两个膝盖压着我的胸脯,而他差不多有一吨重。他两手握住了我的手腕,所以我不能再挥拳打他,我真想一拳把他打死。

   "他妈的你这是怎么啦?"他不住地说,他的傻脸蛋越来越红。

   "把你的臭膝盖打我的胸上拿掉,"我对他说。我几乎是在大声呦喝。我的确是的。"滚,打我身上滚开,你这个下流的杂种。"

   可他没那么做,依旧使劲握住我的手腕,我就一个劲儿骂他杂种什么的,这样过了约莫十个钟头。我甚至记不起我都骂他些什么了。我说他大概自以为要跟谁干那事儿就可以干。我说他甚至都不关心一个姑娘在下棋时候是不是把她所有的国王都留在后排,而他所以不关心,是因为他是个傻极了的混帐窝囊废。他最恨你叫他窝囊废。所有的窝囊废都恨别人叫他们窝囊废。

   "住嘴,嘿,霍尔顿,"他说,他那又大又傻的脸涨得通红。"给我住嘴,嘿。"

   "你都不知道她的名字是琴还是琼,你这个混帐的窝囊废!"

   "嘿,住嘴,霍尔顿。真他妈的--我警告你,"他说--我真把他气坏了。"你要是再不住嘴,我可要给你一巴掌了。"

   "把你那肮脏的、发臭的窝囊膝盖打我的胸膛上拿掉。"

   "我要是放你起来,你能不能闭住你的嘴?"

   我甚至没答理他。

   他又说了一遍。"霍尔顿。我要是让你起来,你能不能闭住你的嘴?"

   "好吧。"

   他从我身上起来,我也跟着站了起来。我的胸隔给他的两个臭膝盖压得疼极了。"你真是个婊子养的又赃又傻的窝囊废,"我对他说。

   这真把他气疯了。他把他的一只又粗又笨的指头伸到我脸上指划着。"霍尔顿,真他妈的,我再警告你一次。也是最后一次。你要是再不闭住你的臭嘴,我可要--""我干吗要闭住?"我说--我简直在大声喊叫了。"你们这些窝囊废就是这个毛病。你们从来不肯讨论问题。从这一点上就可以看出你是不是一个窝囊废。他们从来不肯讨论一些聪明的--"我的话没说完,他真的给了我一下子,我只记得紧接着我又躺在混帐的地板上了。我记不起他有没有把我打昏过去,我想大概没有。要把一个人打昏过去并不那么容易,除非是在那些混帐电影里。

   可我的鼻子上已全是血。我抬头一望,看见老斯特拉德莱塔简直就站在我身上。他还把他那套混帐的梳妆用具夹在胳肢窝底下。"我叫你住嘴,你他妈的干吗不听?"他说话的口气好象很紧张。我一下子倒在地板上,他也许是害怕已把我的脑袋瓜儿打碎了什么的。真倒霉,我的脑袋瓜儿怎么不碎呢。

   "你这是自作自受,真他妈的,"他说。嘿,瞧他的样子倒真有点害怕了。

   我甚至不打算站起来,就那么在地板上躺了一会儿,不住口地骂他是婊子养的窝囊废。我都气疯了,简直在破口大骂。

   "听着。快去洗一下脸,"斯特拉德莱塔说。

   "你听见了没有?"

   我叫他去洗他自己的窝囊脸--这话当然很孩子气,可我确实气疯了。我叫他到盥洗室去的半路上最好顺便拐个弯,跟席密德太太干那事去。席密德太太是看门人的妻子,大约六十五岁了。

   我坐在地板上不动,直到听见老斯特拉德莱塔关上门,沿着走廊向盥洗室走去,我才站起来。我哪儿也找不到我那顶混帐猎人帽了。最后才在床底下找到。我戴上帽子,把鸭舌转到脑后,我就喜欢这么戴,然后过去照镜子,瞧瞧我自己的笨脸蛋。

   你这一辈子再也没见过那样的血污。我的嘴上、腮帮上甚至睡衣上和浴衣上全都是血。我有点儿害怕,也有点儿神往。这一片血污倒让我看上去很象个好汉。我这一辈子只打过两次架,两次我都打输了。我算不了好汉。我是个和平主义者,我老实跟你说。

   我依稀觉得老阿克莱听见我们争吵,这时正醒着。所以我掀开淋浴室门帘走进他的房间,看看他在做什么。我很少进他的房间。他的房内老是有一股奇怪的臭气,因为他这个人的私生活实在邋遢极了。

 

 

    有一缕微光从我们房里透过淋浴室门帘照进来,我看得见他正躺在床上。我也他妈的完全知道他压根儿醒着。"阿克莱?"我说。"你醒着?"

   "不错。"

   房间里太暗,我一脚踩在地板上不知谁的鞋上,险些儿他妈的摔了个跟头。阿克莱在床上坐起来,斜倚在一只胳膊上。他脸上涂了不少白色玩艺儿,治他的粉刺。在黑暗中看去他有几分家鬼。

   "你他妈的在干什么,嗯?"我问。

   "你问我他妈的在干什么是什么意思?我正要睡觉,就听见你们这两个家伙吵起来了。你们他妈的到底为了什么打起架来?"

   "灯在哪儿?"我找不到灯。我伸手往墙上乱摸一气。

   "你开灯干什么?……就在你手旁边。"

   我终于找到了开关,开亮了灯。老阿克莱举起一只手来遮住眼睛。

   "老天爷!"他说。"你这是怎么啦?"他说的是我全身血污。

   "我跟斯特拉德莱塔之间发生一点他妈的小小争执,"我说着,就在地板上坐下来。他们房里一向没有椅子。我不知道他们他妈的把那些椅子都弄到哪儿去了。"听着,"我说,"你愿意跟我玩一会儿卡纳斯塔吗?"他是个卡纳斯塔迷。

   "你还在流血呢,天哪。你最好上点儿药。"

   "过一会儿就会止住的。听着。你到底跟不跟我玩卡纳斯塔?"

   "卡纳斯塔,老天爷。我问你,现在几点钟啦?"

   "不晚。还只十一点多,十一点三十。"

   "还只十一点多!"阿克莱说,"听着。我明天早晨还要去望弥撒哩,老天爷。你们这两个家伯又打又闹,就在他妈的半--你们他妈的到底为什么打架?"

   "说来话长,我不想让你听了腻烦,阿克莱。

   我这完全是为你着想,"我跟他说。我从来不跟他讨论我个人的私事。首先,他甚至比斯特拉德莱塔还要愚蠢。跟阿克莱相比,斯特拉德莱塔简直是个他妈的天才了。"嗨,"我说,"我今天晚上睡在爱利的床上成不成?他要到明天晚上才回来,是不是?"我他妈的完全知道他要到明天晚上才回来。

   他几乎每个周末都回家去。

   "我不知道他会在他妈的什么时候回来,"阿克莱说。

   嘿,这话真叫我生气。"你不知道他在什么时候回来,你他妈的这话是什么意思?他一向是在星期天晚上才回来,是不是?"

   "是的,可是老天爷,我实在没法让别人随便睡他的床,要是有人想睡的话。"

   我听了差点儿笑痛肚皮。我从坐着的地方举起子来,在他的混帐肩膀上拍了一下,"你真是个王子,阿克莱孩子,"我说,"你知道吗?"

   "不,我说的是心里话--我实在没法让别人睡在--""你的确是个王子。你是个绅士,也是个学者,孩子,"我说。他倒是个绅士学者呢。"我问你,你还有香烟没有?--说声'没有',我非立刻倒在地上死去不可。"

   "不,没有,真的没有。听着,你们他妈的到底为什么事打架?"

   我没回答他。我只是起身走到窗口往外眺望。

   一霎时,我觉得寂寞极了。我简直希望自己已经死了"你们他妈的到底为什么事打架,嗯?"阿克莱说,大概是第五十次了。这方面,他确实叫人腻烦透了。

   "为了你,"我说,"为了我,老天爷?"

   "不错。我是在保护你的混帐荣誉。斯特拉德莱塔说你为人下流。我听了这话能放他过去吗?"

   这话使他兴奋起来。"他真的说了?不开玩笑?他真的说了?"

   我对他说我不过是开开玩笑,接着就过去在爱利的床上躺下。嘿,我真是苦闷极了。我觉得寂寞得要命。

   "这房间臭极了,"我说。"我在这儿都闻得出你袜子的味儿。你的袜子是不是从来不洗?"

   "你要是不喜欢这气味,你知道你可以怎么办,"阿克莱说。说的多妙。"把混帐的灯关掉好不好?"

   我可没马上关灯。我只顾在爱利的床上躺着,想着琴的事。我一想到她和斯特拉德莱塔两个同坐在埃德.班基的那辆大屁股汽车里鬼混,不由得心里直冒火,气得真要发疯。我只要一想起这事,就想从窗口跳出去。问题是,你不知道斯特拉德莱塔的为人。我可知道。潘西有许多家伙只不过老在嘴里说着怎样跟女孩子发生暖昧关系--象阿克莱那样,举例说--可老斯特拉德莱塔却是真的干。我自己就至少认识两个跟他发生过关系的姑娘。这是实话。

   "把你一生中有趣的事情讲给我听听吧,阿克莱孩子,"我说。

   "把混帐的灯关掉好不好?我明天早起还要望弥撒哩。"

   我起来把灯关了,好让他高兴。接着我又躺到爱利的床上。

   "你打算干吗--睡在爱利的床上吗?"阿克莱说。他真是个顶呱呱的好主人,嘿。

   "我也许睡,也许不睡,别为这件事担心。"

   "我并不为这件事担心。只是我最痛恨这一类事,万一爱利突然回来,看见有人--""请放心。我不会睡在这儿的。我不会辜负你他妈的这番殷勤招待。"

   一两分钟以后,他就象个疯子似的打起鼾来。

   我仍旧躺在黑暗中,竭力不让自己去想琴和斯特拉德莱塔一同在埃德.班基那辆混帐汽车里的事,可那简直办不到。糟糕的是,我熟悉斯特拉德莱塔这家伙的花招。这就叫我心里越发受不了。有一次我们俩一块儿跟女朋友约会,在埃德.班基的汽车里,斯特拉德莱塔跟他的女朋友在后座,我跟我的女朋友在前座。瞧这家伙的花招。他开始用一种极其温柔、极其诚恳的声音跟他的女朋友甜言蜜语--好象他不仅是个非常漂亮的小伙子,而且也是个挺好、挺诚恳的小伙子。我听着他说话,差点儿都呕出来了。他的女朋友不住地说:"--劳驾啦。别这样。劳驾啦。"可老斯特拉德莱塔始终用他那种亚伯莱罕姆.林肯般的诚恳声音跟她甜言蜜语,到最后那后座上只是一片可怕的寂静。那情况可真恼人。我想那天晚上他还不至于跟那姑娘干那事儿--不过也他妈的相差不远了。真他妈的相差不远了。

   我正躺在床上竭力不让自己胡思乱想,忽听得老斯特拉德莱塔从盥洗室回到了我们的房间。你可以听到他正在安放他那套肮脏的梳妆用具,随即打开窗子。他是个新鲜空气迷。后来过了一会儿,他关了灯。他甚至不看看我在什么地方。

   连外面街上都是一片死寂。你甚至听不到汽车声。我觉得那么寂寞、那么苦闷,甚至不由得叫醒阿克莱。

   "嗨,阿克莱,"我说,声音压得很低,不让斯特拉德莱塔通过琳浴室门帘听见。

   可阿克莱没听见我叫他。

   "嗨,阿克莱!"

   他依旧没听见。他睡得象块石头。

   "嗨,阿克莱!"

   这一声他倒是听见了。

   "你他妈的怎么啦?"他说。"我都睡着啦,老天爷!"

   "听着。进寺院有什么条件?"我问他。我忽然起了进寺院的念头。"是不是非当天主教徒不可?"

   "当然得先当天主教徒。你这杂种,你叫醒我难道就是为了问我这种混帐的问--""啊,睡你的觉吧,我反正不会进寺院的。象我这样的运气,进去以后,大概遇到的僧侣全不会对头。全都是傻杂种。或者光是杂种。"

   我一说这话,老阿克莱就他妈的一下于在床上坐了起来。"听着,"他说,"我不在乎你说我什么,或者关于别的什么,可你要是拿我他妈的宗教取笑,老天爷--""请放心,"我说。"谁也不会拿你他妈的宗教取笑。"我从爱利的床上起来,向门边走去,我不想再在那种混帐气氛里逗留了。可我在半路上停住脚步,抓起阿克莱的手,装腔作势地跟他大握特握。他抽回手去。"这是什么意思?"他说。

   "没什么意思。你是那么个混帐的王子,我只是想向你表示谢意,就是这么回事,"我说。说的时候声音还极其诚恳。"你是个了不起的人物,阿克莱孩子,"我说。"你知道吗?"

   "乖孩子。总有一天会有人揍得你--"我甚至没心思听他说完。我关上了那混账的门,走进了廊子。

   宿舍里的人不是已经睡着,就是已经外出或者回家度周末了,所以走廊里十分、十分静,十分、十分寂寞。李希和霍夫曼的门外放着一只考里诺斯牙膏空盒,我一边往楼梯边走,一边用那只穿羊皮拖鞋的脚不住地踢那空盒。我本来想到楼下去看看老马尔.勃里萨德在干什么,可是刹那间我改变了主意。刹那间,我打定了主意怎么办,我要他妈的马上离开潘西--就在当天晚上。我是说不再等到星期三什么的。我实在不想在这儿呆下去了。我觉得太寂寞太苦闷,因此我打定主意,决计到纽约的旅馆里开一个房间--找一家最便宜的旅馆--一直逍遥到星期三。到了星期三,我休息够了,心情好转,就动身回家。我盘算我父母大概总要在星期二、三才会接到老绥摩的情,通知我被开除的事。

   我不愿早回家,我要等他们得到通知、对这事完全消化以后才回去。我不愿在他们刚接到通知时就在他们身边。我母亲非常歇斯底里。可是不管什么事她只要完全消化之后,倒也不难对付。再说,我也需要有个小小的假期。我的神经过于紧张了。确实过于紧张。

   嗯,这就是我打定主意要做的。我于是回到屋里,开亮灯,开始收拾东西。有不少东西我都已收拾好了。老斯特拉德莱塔甚至都没醒来。我点了支香烟,穿好衣服,动手整理我的两只手提皮箱。我只花了两分钟。我收拾起东西来速度快得惊人。

   收拾行李时,有一件事有点儿叫我难过。我得把我母亲刚在几天前寄给我的那双崭新的冰鞋装起来;这使我心里难过。我想象得出我母亲怎样到期保尔丁商店里,向售货员问了百万个傻里傻气的问题--可我这下又给开除了。这使我觉得很伤心。

   她把冰鞋买错了--我要的是跑刀,她给我买了花样刀--可我照样觉得伤心。几几乎每次都是这样,每逢有人送我什么礼物,到头来都会让我觉得伤心。

   我收拾停当以后,又数了数钱。我已记不起到底有多少钱,反正数目很不小。我祖母在约莫一个星期前刚给我汇来一笔钱。我的这个祖母使起钱来手头很阔。她已经老糊涂了--老得不能再老--一年内总要寄给我四次钱,作为生日礼物。可是,尽管我现有的钱数目已经不小,我还怕不够,生怕有什么不时之需。所以我走下楼去,喊醒了法莱德里克.伍德鲁夫,就是借我打字机的家伙。我问他肯出多少钱把我的打字机买下来。这家伙相当有钱,他说他不知道,还说他不怎么想买。可他最后还是买下来了。这架打字机约莫值九十块钱,可他只给我二十块就买下了。他很没好气,因为我叫醒了他。

   我拿了手提箱什么的准备动身,还在楼梯口站了一会儿,顺着那条混帐走廊望了最后一眼。不知怎的,我几乎哭了出来。我戴上我那顶红色猎人帽,照我喜欢的样子将鸭舌转到脑后,然后使出了我的全身力气大声喊道:"好好睡吧,你们这些窝囊废!"我敢打赌我把这一层楼的所有杂种全都喊醒了。随后我就离开了那地方,不知哪个混蛋在楼梯上扔了一地花生皮,我他妈的差点儿摔断了我的混帐脖子。

 

 

    时间太晚,巳叫不到出租汽车,所以我就一直步行到车站。路并不远,可是天冷得要命,一路上的积雪很不好走,那两只手提箱还他妈的不住磕碰着我的大腿。不过我倒很欣赏外面的新鲜空气。唯一不好受的是,冷风吹得我鼻子疼痛,还有我上嘴唇底下也疼,那是斯特拉德莱塔打我一拳的地方。

   他打得我的嘴唇撞在牙齿上,所以那地方疼得厉害。我的耳朵倒挺暖和。我买的那顶帽子上面有耳罩,我把它放下了--我他妈的才不在乎好看不好看哩。可是路上没一个人。谁都上床啦。

   到了车站,我发现自己的运气还不错,因为只消等约莫十分钟就有火车。我等着的时候,就捧起一掬雪洗了下我的脸。我脸上还有不少血呢。

   通常我很喜欢坐火车,尤其是在夜里,车里点着灯,窗外一片漆黑,过道上不时有人卖咖啡、夹馅面包和杂志。我一般总是买一份火腿面包和四本杂志。我要是在晚上乘火车,通常还能看完杂志里某个无聊的故事而不至于作呕。你知道那故事。有一大堆叫大卫的瘦下巴的假惺惺人物,还有一大堆叫林达或玛莎的假惺惺姑娘,老是给大卫们点混帐的烟斗。我晚上乘火车,通常都能把这类混帐故事看完一个。可这一次情况不同了。我没那心情。我光是坐在那里,什么也不干。我光是脱下我那顶猎人帽,放在我的衣袋里。

   一霎时,有位太太从特兰敦上来,坐在我身旁。几乎整个车厢都空着,因为时间已经很晚,可她不去独坐个空位置,却一径坐到我身旁,原因是她带着一只大旅行袋,我又正好占着前面座位。她把那只旅行袋往过道中央一放,也不管列车员或者什么人走过都可能绊一交。她身上戴着兰花,好象刚赴了什么重大宴会出来。她年纪约在四十到四十五左右,我揣摩,可她长得十分漂亮。女人能要我的命。她们的确能。我并不是说我这人有色情狂之类的毛病--虽然我倒是十分好色。我只是喜欢女人,我是说。她们老是把她们的混帐旅行袋放在过道中央。

   嗯,我们这么坐着,忽然她对我说:"对不起,这不是一张潘西中学的签条吗?"她正拿眼望着上面行李架上我的两只手提箱。

   "不错,"我说。她说得不错。我有一只手提箱上面的确贴着潘西的签条。看上去十分粗俗,我承认。

   "哦,你在潘西念书吗?"她说。她的声音十分好听,很象电话里的好听声音。她身上大概带着一架混帐电话机呢。

   "晤,不错,"我说。

   "哦,多好!你也许认得我儿子吧。欧纳斯特.摩罗?他也在潘西念书。"

   "晤,我认识他。他跟我同班。"

   他儿子无疑是潘西有它那段混帐历史以来所招收到的最最混帐的学生。他洗完淋浴以后,老是在走廊上拿他的湿毛巾独别人的屁股。他完全是那样一种人。

   "哦,多好啊!"那太太说。并不粗俗,而是和蔼可亲。"我一定要告诉欧纳斯特我遇见了你,"她说。"可以告诉我你的名字吗,亲爱的?"

   "鲁道尔夫.席密德,"我告诉她说。我并不想把我的一生经历都讲给她听。鲁道尔夫.席密德是我们宿舍看门人的名字。

   "你喜欢潘西吗?"她问我。

   "潘西?不算太坏。不是什么天堂,可也不比大多数的学校坏。有些教职人员倒是很正直。"

   "欧纳斯特简直崇拜它。"

   "我知道他崇拜,"我说。接着我又信口开河了。"他很能适应环境。他真的能。我是说他真知道怎样适应环境。"

   "你这样想吗?"她问我。听她的口气好象感兴趣极了。

   "欧纳斯特?当然啦,"我说。接着我看着她脱手套。嘿,她戴着一手的宝石哩。

   "我打出租汽车里出来,不小心弄断了一个指甲,"她说。她抬头看了我一眼,微微一笑。她笑得漂亮极了。的确非常漂亮。有许多人简直不会笑,或者笑得很不雅观。"欧纳斯特的父亲和我有时很为他担心,"她说。"我们有时候觉得他不是个很好的交际家。"

   "你这话什么意思?"

   "呃,这孩子十分敏感。他真的不会跟别的孩子相处。也许他看问题太严肃,不适于他的年龄。"

   敏感。简直笑死了我。摩罗那家伙敏感得就跟一只混帐马桶差不离。

   我仔细打量她一下。她看去不象是个傻瓜。看她样子,似乎应该知道她自己儿于是什么样的杂种。可是也很难说--我是说拿那些当母亲的来说。那些当母亲的全都有点儿神经病。不过,我倒是挺喜欢老摩罗的母亲。她看去挺不错。"你要抽支烟吗?"我问她。

   她往四下里望了望。"我不信这是节吸烟车厢,鲁道尔夫,"她说。鲁道尔夫。真笑死了我。

   "没关系。我们可以抽到他们开始向咱们嚷起来,"我说。她就从我手里拿了支香烟,我给她点了火。

   她抽烟的样子很美。她把烟吸进去,可并不象她那年纪的大多数女人那样咽下去。她有不少迷人之处。她还有不少富于性感的地方,你要是真想知道的话。

   她用一种异样的眼光看着我。"也许我眼花了可我相信你的鼻子在流血呢,亲爱的,"她突然说。

   我点了点头,掏出了我的手绢。"我中了个雪球,"我说。"一个硬得象冰一样的雪球。"要不是说来话长,我也许会把真情实况全告诉她。不过我确实很喜欢她。我开始有点儿后悔不该告诉她我的名字叫鲁道尔夫.席密德。"老欧尼,"我说。

   "他是潘西最有人缘的学生之一。你知道吗?"

   "不,我不知道。"

   我点了点头。"不管是谁,的确要过很久才了解。他是个怪人。许多方面都很怪--懂得我的意思吗?就象我刚遇到他那样。我刚遇到他的时候,还当他是个势利小人哩。我当时是这样想的。他其实不是。只是他的个性很特别,你得跟他相处久了才能了解他。"

   摩罗太大什么话也没说,可是,嘿,你真该见一下她当时的情景。我都把她胶住在位置上了。不管是谁家母亲,她们想要知道的,总是自己的儿子是个多么了不起的人物。

   接着,我真正瞎扯起来。"他把选举的事告诉你了没有?"我问她。"班会选举?"

   她摇了摇头。我已经使她神魂颠倒了,好象是。她真有点神魂颠倒了。

   "呃,我们一大堆人全推选老欧尼当班长。我是说他是大家一致推选出来的。我是说只有他一个人才能真正担任这个工作。"我说--嘿,我真是越说越远啦。"可是另外那个学生--哈利.范里--当选了。他当选的原因是,那显而易见的原因是,欧尼怎么也不肯让我们给他提名。他真是腼腆谦虚得要命。他拒绝了……嘿,他真是腼腆。你应该帮助他克服这个缺点。"我瞅着她。"他告诉你这事没有?"

   "不,他没有。"

   我点了点头。"这就是欧尼的为人。他不肯告诉人。他就是有这么个缺点--他太腼腆、也太谦虚了。你真应该让他随便点儿才是。"

   就在这当儿,列车员过来查看摩罗太太的票,我趁机不再往下吹了。不过我很高兴自己瞎吹了一通。象摩罗这样老是用毛巾独人屁股的家伙--他这样做,是真要打疼别人--他们不仅在孩提时候下作。他们一辈子都会下作。可我敢打赌,经我那么信口一吹,摩罗太太就会老以为他是个十分腼腆、十分谦虚的孩子,连我们提名选他做班长他都不肯。她大概会这样想的。那很难说。那些当母亲的对这类事情感觉都是不太灵敏的。

   "你想喝杯鸡尾酒吗?"我问她。我自己心血来潮,很想喝一杯。"我们可以上餐车去。好不好?"

   "亲爱的,你可以要酒喝吗?"她问我,不过问得并不卑鄙。她的一切都太迷人了,简直很难用上卑鄙二字。

   "呃,不,严格说来不可以,可我因为长得高,一般总可以要到,"我说。"再说我还有不少白头发呢。"我把头侧向一边,露出我的白头发她看。她看了真乐得不可开交。"去吧,跟我一块儿去,成不成?"我说。我真希望有她陪我去。

   "我真的不想喝。可我还是非常感谢你,亲爱的,"她说。"再说,餐车这会儿大概已停止营业。

   时间已经很晚了,你知道。"她说得不错。我完全忘记这会儿已是什么时候啦。

   接着她看着我,问了我一个我一直怕她问的问题。"欧纳斯特信上说他将在屋期三回家,圣诞假期从星期三开始,"她说。"我希望你不是家里人生病,把你突然叫回去的吧。"她看去真的很担心。她不象是好管闲事,你看得出来。

   "不,家里人都很好,"我说。"是我自己。

   我得去动一下手术。"

   "哦!我真替你难受,"她说。她也确实如此。我也马上后悔不该说这话,不过为时已经太晚。

   "情况不算严重。我脑子里长了个小小的瘤子。"

   "哦,不会吧!"她举起一只手来捂住了嘴。

   "哦,没什么危险!长得很靠外,而且非常小。要不了两分钟就能取出来。"

   然后我从袋里掏出火车时刻表观看。光是为了不让自己再继续撒谎。我一开口,只要情绪对头,就能一连胡扯几个小时。不开玩笑。几个小时。

   此后我们就不再怎么谈话。她开始阅读自己带来的那本《时尚》杂志,我往窗外眺望一会儿。她在纽瓦克下了车。她祝我手术进行得顺利。她不住地叫我鲁道尔夫。接着她请我明年夏天到马萨诸塞州的格洛斯特去看望欧尼。她说他们的别墅就在海滨,他们自己还有个网球场什么的,可我谢绝了,说我要跟我的祖母一块儿到南美去。这实在是弥天大谎,因为我祖母简直很少出屋子,除非出去看一场混帐日戏什么的。可是即使把全世界的钱都给我,我也不愿去看望那个婊子养的摩罗--哪怕是在我穷极潦倒的时候。

 

 

    我下车进了潘恩车站,头一件事就是进电话间打电话。我很想跟什么人通通话。我把我的手提箱放在电话间门口,以便照看,可我进了里边,一时又想不起跟谁通话。我哥哥DB在好莱坞。我的小妹妹菲芘在九点左右就上床了--所以我不能打电话给她。我要是把她叫醒,她倒是不在乎,可问题在于接电话的不会是她,而是我的父母。所以这电话决不能打。接着我想到给琴.迦拉格的母亲挂个电话,打听一下琴的假期什么时候开始,可我又不怎么想打。再说时间也太晚了。我于是想到打电话给那位常常跟我在一起的女朋友萨丽.海斯,因为我知道她已放圣诞假了--她写了封又长又假的信给我,请我在圣诞前夕到她家去帮她修剪圣诞树--可我又怕她母亲来接电话。她母亲认识我母亲,我可以想象到她一接到电话,也就不怕摔断他妈的腿,马上急煎煎打电话去通知我母亲,说我已经到纽约了。再说,我也不怎么想跟老海斯太太通话。她有一次告诉萨丽说我太野。她说我太野,没有生活的目标。我于是又想起打电话给那个我在胡敦中学时的同学卡尔.路斯,可我不怎么喜欢他.所以我在电话间里呆了约莫二十分钟,却没打电话就走了出来,拿起我的手提箱,走向停出租汽车的地道,叫了辆汽车。

   我当时真他妈的心不在焉,竞出于老习惯,把我家里的地址告诉了司机--我是说我压根儿忘了我要到旅馆里去住两三天,到假期开始后才回家。

   直到汽车在公园里走了一半,我才想起这件事来,于是我就说:"嗨,你一有机会,马上拐回去成不成?我把地址说错啦。我想回市中心去。"

   司机是个机灵鬼。"这儿可没法拐,麦克。

   是条单行线。我得一直开到九十号路。"

   我不想跟他争论。"好吧,"我说。接着刹那间我想起了一件事。"嗨,听着,"我说。"你知道中央公园南头浅水湖附近的那些鸭子吗?那个小湖?我问你,在湖水冻严实以后,你可知道这些鸭子都上哪儿去了?你知道不知道,我问你?"我知道多半是白问,只有百万分之一可能性。

   他回过头来瞅着我,好象我是疯子似的。"你这是要干吗,老弟?"他说。"拿我开玩笑吗?"

   "--我只是很感兴趣,问问罢了。"

   他没再言语,我也一样。直到汽车出了公园,开到九十号路,他才说:"好吧,老弟。上哪儿?"

   "呃,问题是,我不想往东区的旅馆,怕遇见熟人。我是在微服旅行,"我说。我最讨厌说"微服旅行"这类粗俗的话,可是每遇到一些粗俗的人,我自己也就装得很粗俗。"你可知道在塔夫特或者纽约人夜总会里,是谁的乐队在伴奏,请问?"

   "不知道,麦克。"

   "--送我到爱德蒙吧,那么,"我说。"你在半路上停一下,我请你喝杯鸡尾酒好不好?我请客。我身上有的是钱。"

   "不成,麦克,对不起。"他真是个好伴侣。

   可怕的性格。

   我们到了爱德蒙旅馆,我就去开了个房间。在汽车里我又戴上了我那顶红色猎人帽,完全是聊以解闷,可我进旅馆之前又把它脱下了。我不愿把自己打扮成一个怪人。说起来也真滑稽可笑。我当时并不知道那个混帐旅馆里住的全是变态的和痴呆的怪人。到处是怪人。

   他们给了我一个十分简陋的房间,从窗口望出去什么也看不见,只看见旅馆的另外一边。我可不怎么在乎。我心里沮丧得要命,就顾不得窗外的景色好不好了。领我进房间的侍者是个六十五岁左右的老头子,他这人甚至比房间更叫人泄气。他正是那一类秃子,爱把所有的头发全都梳向一边,来遮掩自己的秃顶。要是我,就宁可露出秃顶,也不干这样的事。不管怎样,让一个六十五岁左右的老头子来干这种活儿,也未免太难了。给人提行李,等着人赏小费。我猜想他大概没什么知识,可不管怎样,那也太可怕了。

   他走后,我也没脱大衣什么的,就站在窗边往外眺望一会儿。我没别的事可做。可是旅馆那一边房间里在干些什么,你听了准会吃惊。他们甚至都不把窗帘拉上。我看见有个头发花白的家伙,看样子还很有身份,光穿着裤衩在干一件我说出来你决不相信的事。他先把自己的手提箱放在床上。然后他拿出整整一套妇女服装,开始穿戴起来。那是一套真正妇女服装--长统丝袜,高跟皮鞋,奶罩,搭拉着两条背带的衬裙,等等。随后他穿上了一件腰身极小的黑色晚礼服。我可以对天发誓。随后他在房间里走来走去,象女人那样迈着极小的步于,一边还抽烟照镜子。而且只有他一个人在房里。除非有人在浴室里--这我看不见。后来,就在他上面的那个窗口,我又看见一对男女在用嘴彼此喷水。也许是加冰的威士忌苏打,不是水,可我看不出他们杯子里盛的是什么。嗯,他先喝一口,喷了她一身,接着她也照样喷他--他们就这样轮流着喷来喷去,我的老天爷。你真应该见见他们。在整个时间内他们都歇斯底里发作,好象这是世界上最最好玩的事儿。我不开玩笑,这家旅馆确是住满心理变态的人。我也许是这地方唯一的正常人了--而我这么说一点也不夸大。我真想他妈的拍个电报给老斯特拉德莱塔,叫他搭最快一班火车直奔纽约。他准可以在这旅馆里称王哩。

   糟糕的是,这类下流玩艺儿瞧着还相当迷人,尽管你心里颇不以为然。举例说,这个给喷得满脸是水的姑娘,长得却十分漂亮。我是说这是我最糟糕的地方。在我的内心中,我这人也许是天底下最最大的色情狂。有时候,我能想出一些十分下流的勾当,只要有机会,我也不会不干。我甚至想象得出,要是男女双方都喝醉了酒,你要是能找到那么个姑娘,可以彼此往脸上喷水什么的,那该有多好玩--尽管有些下流。不过问题是,我不喜欢这种做法。你要是仔细一分析,就会发现这种做法非常下流。我想,你要是真不喜欢一个女人,那就干脆别跟她在一起厮混;你要是真喜欢她呢,就该喜欢她的脸,你要是喜欢她的脸,就应该小心爱护它,不应该对它干那种下流事,如往它上面喷水。真正糕的是,许多下流的事情有时候干起来却十分有趣。而女人们也好不了多少;如果你不想干太下流的事,如果你不想毁坏真正好的东西,她们反倒不乐意。一两年前,我就遇到过一个姑娘,甚至比我还要下流。嘿,她真是下流极了!我们用一种下流的方式狂欢了一阵,虽然时间不长。性这样东西,我委实不太了解。你简直不知道他妈的你自己身在何处。我老给自己定下有关性方面的规则,可是马上就破坏。去年我定下规则,决不跟那些叫我内心深处觉得厌恶的始娘一起厮混。这个规则,我没出一个星期就破坏了--事实上,在立下规则的当天晚上就破坏了。我跟一个叫安妮的浪荡货搂搂抱抱的整整胡闹了一晚。性这样东西,我的确不太了解。我可以对天发誓我不太了解。

   我站在窗口不动,心里却起了个念头,琢磨着要不要给琴挂个电话--我是说挂个长途电话到BM,就是到她念书的那个学校,而不是打电话给她妈,打听她在什么时候回家。照说是不应该在深更半夜打电话给学生的,可我什么都核计好了。我打算跟不管哪个接电话的人说我是她舅舅。我打算说她舅母刚才撞车死了,我现在马上要找她说话。

   这样做,本来是可能成功的。我没这么做的唯一原因是我当时情绪不对头。你要是投那种情绪,这类事是做不好的。

   过了一会儿我在一把椅子上坐下,抽了一两支烟。我的性欲上来了,我不得不承认。后来刹那间,我想起了一个主意。我拿出了我的皮夹,开始寻找一个地址,那地址是我今年夏天在舞会上遇到的一个在布林斯敦念书的家伙给我的。最后我找到了那地址,纸已褪了色,可还辨认得出字迹。地址上的那个姑娘不完全是个妓女,可也不反对偶尔客串一次,那个布林斯敦家伙是这样告诉我的。他有一次带了她去参加布林斯敦的舞会,差点儿就为这件事给开除出学校。她好象是个脱衣舞女什么的。

   不管怎样,我走到电话机旁边,给她挂了个电话。

   她的名字叫费丝,住在百老汇六十五条街斯丹福旅馆。一个垃圾堆,毫无疑问。

   一时间,我还以为她不在家里。半晌没人接电话。最后有人拿起了话筒。

   "哈罗?"我说。我把自己的声音装得很深沉,不让她怀疑我的年龄或者别的什么。反正我的声音本来就很深沉。

   "哈罗,"那女人的声音说,并不太客气。

   "是费丝小姐吗?"

   "你是谁?"她说。"是谁在他妈的这个混帐时间打电话给我?"

   我听了倒是稍稍有点儿害怕。"呃,我知道时间已经挺晚啦,"我说,用的是成年人那种极成熟的声音。"我希望您能原谅我,我实在太急于跟您联系啦。"我说话的口气温柔得要命。的确是的。

   "你是谁?"她说。

   "呃,您不认识我,可我是爱迪的朋友。他跟我说,我要是进城,可以请您一块儿喝一两杯鸡尾酒。"

   "谁?你是谁的朋友?"嘿,她在电话里真象只雌老虎。她简直是在跟我大声呦喝。

   "爱德蒙。爱迪,"我说。我已记不起他的名字是爱德蒙还是爱德华。我只遇见过他一次,是在他妈的那个混帐舞会上遇见的。

   "我不认识叫这名字的人,杰克。你要是认为我高兴让人在深更半夜--""爱迪?布林斯敦的?"我说。

   你感觉得出她正在搜索记忆,想这个名字。

   "是不是布林斯敦学院?"

   "对啦,"我说。

   "你是打布林斯敦学院来的?"

   "呃,差不离。"

   "哦……爱迪好吗?"她说。"不过在这时候打电话找人,真叫人意想不到。老天爷。"

   "他挺好。他叫我向您问好。"

   "呃,谢谢您。请您代我向他问好。"她说。

   "他这人再好没有。他这会儿在于什么?"刹那间,她变得客气的要命。

   "哦,你知道的。还是那套老玩艺儿,"我说;他妈的我哪知道他是在干什么?我都不怎么认识他。我甚至都不知道他这会儿是不是依旧在布林斯敦。"瞧,"我说。"您能不能赏光在哪儿跟我碰头,喝一杯鸡尾酒?"

   "我问您,您可知道现在是什么时间啦?"她说。"您到底叫什么名字,请问?"一刹时,她换了英国口音。"听您的声音,好象还挺年轻。"

   我噗哧一笑。"谢谢您的恭维,"我说--温柔得要命。"我的名字是霍尔顿.考尔菲德。"我本应当给她个假名字的,可我一时没想到。

   "呃,瞧,考菲尔先生,我可不习惯在深更半夜限人约会。我是个有工作的。"

   "明天是星期天,"我对她说。

   "呃,不管怎样,我得好好睡一会儿,保持我的青春,您也知道这个道理。"

   "我本来想咱俩也许可以在一块儿喝杯鸡尾洒。时间还不算太晚。"

   "呢。您真客气,"她说。"您是在哪儿打的电话?您这会儿是在哪儿,嗯?"

   "我?我是在公用电话间里。"

   "哦,"她说。接着沉默了半晌。"呃,我非常愿意在什么时候跟您一块儿玩玩,考菲尔先生。

   听您的声音十分可爱。您好象是个极可爱的人。不过时间实在太晚啦。"

   "我可以上您家来。"

   "呃,在平时,我会说这再好没有了。我是说我倒是很高兴您上我家来喝杯鸡尾酒,可是不巧得很,跟我同屋的那位恰好病了。她整整一晚都不曾合眼,这会儿才刚睡着哩。"

   "哦。这真太糟糕啦。"

   "您往在哪儿?明天咱们也许可以一块儿喝鸡尾酒。"

   "明天可不成,"我说。"我只在今天晚上有空。"我真是个大傻瓜。我不应该这样说的。

   "哦。呃,真是对不起得很。"

   "我可以代您向爱迪问好。"

   "您肯吗?我希望您在纽约玩得痛快。这是个再好没有的地方。"

   "这我知道。谢谢,再见吧,"我说,接着就把电话挂了。

   嘿,我真正把事情搞糟啦。我本应该至少约她出来喝喝鸡尾酒什么的。

 

 

    时间还挺早。我记不清楚已经几点钟了,不过还不算太晚。我最讨厌做的一件事就是我还不觉得困的时候上床睡觉。因此我打开手提箱,取出一件干净衬衫,随后走进浴室,擦洗一下,换了衬衫。

   我想做的,是下楼去看看"紫丁香厅"里到底他妈的在干什么。他们这个旅馆里有个夜总会,叫作紫丁香厅。

   我在换衬衫的时候,差点儿给我小妹妹菲芘挂了个电话。我倒是真想跟她在电话上谈谈。跟一个真正懂事的人。可我不能冒险打电话给她,因为她还只是个小孩子,这会儿准不会不上床,更不用说不会在电话旁边接电话了。我曾想到万一是我父母来接电话,是不是马上就把电话接了,可这也不是办法。他们会知道是我。我母亲总知道是我。她末卜先知。可我倒是真想找老菲芘聊聊天。

   你真应该见见她。你这一辈子再也不会见过那么漂亮、那么聪明的小孩子。她真是聪明。我是说从上学到现在,门门功课都是优。说实在的,我是家中唯一的笨蛋。我哥哥DB,是个作家什么的,我弟弟艾里,就是我前面跟你谈到过的已经死去的那个,简直是个鬼精灵。惟有我是个真正的笨蛋。

   可你真应该见见老菲芘。她也是那种红头发,跟艾里的有点儿相象,在夏天剪得很短。夏天,她总把头发一古脑儿扎在耳朵后面。她的耳朵也挺小挺漂亮。冬天,她的头发蓄得挺长,有时我母亲给她梳成辫子,有时不梳。可那头发的确漂亮得很。她还只十岁。她个儿很瘦,象我一样,可是瘦得很漂亮。室内溜冰的那种瘦。有一次我从窗口望着她穿过五马路向公园走去,她的确是那模样儿,室内溜冰的那种瘦。你见了准会喜欢她。我是说你不管跟老菲芘讲些什么话,她总知道你他妈的讲的什么。

   我是说你简直哪儿都可以带她去。你要是带她去看一个蹩脚电影,比方说,她就会知道这电影蹩脚。

   你要是带她去看一个好电影,她也会知道这电影好。DB跟我曾带她去看法国电影《面包师的妻子》,由莱绍主演。这电影简直要了她的命。可她最爱看的是《三十九步》,罗伯特.唐纳主演。她把那电影都背熟了,因为我带她去看了约莫十次。

   当老唐纳到了苏格兰农场的时候,比方说,当他逃避警察的时候,菲芘就会在电影院大声说--就在影片里那个苏格兰人开口说话的时候--"你吃不吃青鱼?"她背得出所有的对话。影片里的那位教授,其实是个德国间谍,还没伸出那个小指头给罗伯特.唐纳看,指头的中间关节还缺了一块,老菲芘已比他先伸手了--她在黑暗中把她的小指头伸了过来,一直伸到我眼面前。她真是不错。你见了准会喜欢她。唯一的缺点是,她有时候有点儿过于亲热。她感情非常容易冲动,就她那个年纪的孩子来说。她的确是。她干的另一件事是一天到晚写书。只是这些书没有一本是写完的。写的全都是关于一个叫作海泽尔.威塞菲尔的孩子--只是老菲芘这把名字写成了"海士尔"。老海士尔.威塞菲尔是个女侦探。她本来应该是个孤儿,可她的老子却经常出现。她的老子总是个"高个子的漂亮绅士,年纪在二十上下"。简直笑死了我。这个老菲芘。

   我可以对天发督,你见了她准会喜欢。她还是很小很小的时候,就很聪明。她还是个很小的孩子的时候,我跟艾里常常带她上公园去,尤其在星期天。

   在星期天,艾里总爱带着他的那只帆船上公园玩,我们总是带着老菲芘一块儿去。她戴着白手套,走在我们中间,就象个贵夫人似的。遇到艾里跟我谈论起什么事情来,老菲芘总是在一旁听着。有时候你会忘掉有她在身边,因为她还是个那么小的孩子,可她总会提醒你。她会不住地打断你。她会推我成者艾里一下,说道:"谁?谁说的?是鲍比还是那位小姐?"我们就告诉她是谁说的,她就会""一声,依旧听下去。她也简直要了艾里的命;我是说他也喜欢她。她现在十岁了,不再是那么个小孩子了,可她依旧惹每个人喜爱--每个有头脑的人,嗯。

   嗯,象她这样的人,你没事总想跟她在电话上聊聊。可我很怕我父母来接电话,那样他们就会发现我在纽约,已给潘西开除了出来,等等一切。所以我光是穿上衬衫,收拾好一切,然后乘电梯下去到休息室里看看。

   除了少数几个王八样的男子,几个婊子样的女人,休息室里简直没什么人,可你听得见乐队在紫丁香厅奏乐,所以我就定了进去。里面并不十分拥挤,可他们依旧给我找了个极不好的桌位--在尽后面。其实我早应该拿出一块钱来举到侍者头儿的鼻子底下的。在纽约,嘿,钱真能通神--我不开玩笑。

   乐队是糟得要命的布迪.辛格乐队。全是管乐,可不是那种高雅的管乐,而是粗俗的管乐。此外,厅里极少象我这样年纪的人。事实上,没一个象我这样年纪的人。他们大多数都是上了年纪的、装腔作势的家伙约了他们的女朋友在一起。除了我隔壁桌上的几个。在我隔壁桌上坐着三个年约三十的姑娘。三个全都难看得要命,三个全都戴着那么一种帽子,你一看就知道她们不是真正住在纽约的,可是其中有一个金头发的,看上去还可以。她象是那种爱卖俏的女人,那个金头发的,所以我就开始服她做起媚眼来,可就在这时,那个侍者过来了,问我喝些什么。我要了杯威士忌和苏打水,叫他不要掺和在一起--我说得快的要命,因为你只要稍一结巴,他们就会怀疑你不到二十一岁,不肯卖给你含有酒精的饮料。可是尽管这样,他还是给了我麻烦。"对不起,先生,"他说,"您有什么证明您年龄的证件吗?您的司机执照,比方说?"

   我冷冷地瞅了他一眼,好象他给了我极大的侮辱似的,随后问他说:"我的样子象不到二十一岁吗?"

   "对不起,先生,可我们有我们的--""得啦,得啦,"我说。我早就琢磨好了。

   "给我来杯可口可乐。"他刚转身要走,我又把他叫了回来。"你能掺点儿甜酒什么的吗?"我问他,问得极其客气。"我可不能坐在这样庸俗的地方连一滴酒也不喝。你能掺点儿甜酒什么的吗?"

   "非常对不起,先生……"他说着,就走开了。我倒不怎么怪他。要是有人发现他们卖酒给年轻人喝,他们就要丢掉饭碗。而我又年轻得要命。

   我又开始跟邻桌上的三个巫婆做起媚眼来。主要当然是对那个金头发的,对其他两个完全是出于无奈。可我也没做得太过火。我只是不时地朝她们三个冷冷地那么瞅一眼。可她们三个见我这样,都象痴子似的格格笑起来。她们也许以为我太年轻,不该这样跟女人做媚眼,这使我火得要命--她们也许以为我要跟她们结婚什么的哩。她们这样做后,我本应该给她们泼瓢冷水的,可糟糕的是,我当时真想跳舞。有时候我非常想跳舞,当时凑巧正是这样的时候。因此突然间,我朝她们弯过身去说:"你们哪位姑娘想跳舞?"我问的时候口气并不冒失,事实上还十分温柔。可是真他妈的,她们把这也看成是一个惊人的举动。她们又开始格格笑起来。我不说玩话,她们是三个真正的痴子。"请吧,"我说。"我请你们三位轮流跟我跳舞。好不好?成吗?请吧!"我可真想跳舞呢。

   最后,那个金头发的站起来跟我跳舞了,因为谁也看得出我主要是在跟她讲话,我们两个于是进入舞池。我们一定,那两个傻瓜差点儿犯起歇斯底里来。我当然是实在没有办法,才跟她们这样的人打交道的。

   可那样做却很值得,这位金发女郎很会跳舞。

   她是我生平遇到过的跳舞跳得最好的姑娘之一。我不开玩笑,有些极傻极傻的姑娘真能在舞池上把你迷住。那般真正聪明的姑娘不是有一半时间想在舞池上带着你跳,就是压根儿不会跳舞,你最好的办法是干脆留在桌上跟她痛饮一醉。

   "你真能跳舞,"我对金发女郎说。"你真该去当个舞蹈家。我说的是心里话。我跟舞蹈家一起跳过舞,她还不及你一半哩。你可曾听说过玛可和米兰达没有?"

   "什么?"她说。她甚至都没在听我说话。她一直在东张西望。

   "我问你听说过玛可和米兰达没有?"

   "我不知道。不,我不知道。"

   "呃,他们是舞蹈家,尤其是那个女的。可她跳得并不太好。她把该做的一切都做了,可她跳得并不怎么好。你可知道一个跳舞跳得真正好的姑娘是怎么样的?"

   "你说什么?"她说。她甚至都没在听我说话。她的心思完全用在别的地方。

   "我问你可知道一个跳舞跳得真正好的姑娘是怎么样的?"

   "--啊。"

   "--关键就在于我搭在你背上的那只手底下。我要是手底下什么也感觉不到--没有脑袋,没有腿,没有脚,什么也没有--那么这姑娘才是真正会跳舞的。"

   可她并没在听。因此我有好一会儿工夫没搭理她。我们光是跳着舞。天哪,这个傻姑娘真能跳舞。布迪.辛格跟他的臭乐队正在演奏《就是这么回事》,可是连他们也没能把那曲子完全糟蹋掉。

   这是支了不起的歌曲。我们跳舞的时候,我没想玩什么花样--我最讨厌一个人在舞池上耍花样显本领--可我老带着她转来转去,而她也跟得很好。

   可笑的是,我本来还以为她也在欣赏跳舞呢,可突然间她说出了一句十分愚蠢的话。"我和我的女朋友昨天晚上看见了彼得.劳尔,"她说。"那个电影演员。他本人。正在买报纸。他真神气。"

   "你运气好,"我对她说。"你运气真好。你知道吗?"她真是个痴子。可真能跳舞。我忍不住在她笨脑瓜顶上吻了一下--你知道--正吻在那个笨地方。我吻了以后,她十分生气。

   "嗨!怎么回事?"

   "不。没什么。你真能跳舞,"我说。"我有个小妹妹,还在他妈的念小学四年级。你跳得简直跟她一样好,而她跳舞跳得比哪个活着的或者死去的人都好。"

   "说话留神点儿,你要是不介意的话。"

   倒真是个贵族小姐,嘿。一位女王,老天爷。

   "你们几位是打哪儿来的?"我问她。

   可她并没回答我。她正忙着东张西望,大概是看看老彼得.劳尔有没有在场,我揣摩。

   "你们几位是打哪儿来的?"我又问了一遍。

   "什么?"她说。

   "你们几位是打哪儿来的?你要是不高兴回答,就别回答。我不愿让你太紧张。"

   "西雅图,华盛顿州,"她说。她告诉我这话,象是给了我什么天大的恩惠似的。

   "你倒真是健谈,"我对她说。"你知道吗?"

   "什么?"

   我没再说下去。反正说了她也不懂。"要是他们演奏一个快步舞曲,你想跳会儿摇摆舞吗?不是那种粗俗的摇摆舞,不是那种跳跳蹦蹦的--而是那种轻松愉快的。只要一奏快步舞曲,那些老的、胖的全都会坐下,咱们的地方就宽敞啦。成不成?"

   "对我说来都无所谓。"她说。"--你到底几岁啦?"

   不知什么缘故,这话使得我很恼火。"哦,天哪。

   别煞风景,"我说。"我才十二岁呢,老天爷。我的个儿长的特别高大。"

   "听着。我已跟你说了。我不爱听那样说话,"她说。"你要是再那样说话,我可以去跟我的女朋友一块儿坐着,你知道。"

   我象个疯子似的不住道歉,因为乐队已在奏一个快步舞曲了。她开始跟我一起跳起摇摆舞来--但只是轻松愉快的那种,不是粗俗的那种。她跳得真是好。你只要用手搭着她就成。她让我神魂颠倒了.我说的是心里话。我们一起坐下的时候,我有一半爱上她了。女人就是这样。只要她们做出什么漂亮的举动,尽管她们长的不漂亮,尽管她们有点儿愚蠢,你也会有一半爱上她们,接着你就会不知道自己他妈的身在何处。女人。老天爷,她们真能让你发疯。她们真的能。

   她们没请我过去坐到她们桌上--多半是因为她们太没知识--可我还是坐过去了。那个跟我一起跳舞的金发女郎叫作蓓尼丝什么的--我记不清是姓克拉伯斯还是克莱伯斯了。那两个特别丑的叫作马蒂和拉凡恩。我告诉她们我的名字叫吉姆.斯梯尔,当然是他妈的随口胡诌的。接着我想服她们谈些有意思的事,可那简直办不到。你于什么都得扯她们的胳膊。你也很难说她们三个中间到底那一个最傻。她们三个全都在这个混帐房间里不住地东张西望,好象希望看到一大群混帐电影明星随时闯进来似的。她们大概以为那些电惑明星一到纽约,都不去白鹳俱乐部或者爱尔.摩洛哥那类地方,反倒全都来到紫丁香厅。嗯,我差不多费了半个钟头,才打听出她们三个都在西雅图什么地方干活。

   她们全都在一家保险公司里工作。我问她们喜不喜欢那工作,可你以为能从这三个傻瓜嘴里听到什么聪明的回答吗?我本以为那两个丑的,马蒂和拉凡思,是姐妹俩,可我这么一问,却把她们两个都气坏啦。你看得出她们俩谁也不愿自己长的象对方,当然这也不能怪她们,不过仔细想来,倒也十分有趣。

   我轮流着跟她们三个全都跳了舞。那个叫拉凡思的丑姑娘跳的还不太坏,可另外那个叫马蒂的简直可怕极了。跟老马蒂跳舞,就好象抱着自由女神石像在舞池上拖来拖去。我这样拖着她转来转去的时候,唯一让自己作乐的办法是拿她取个笑儿。因此我告诉她说我刚在舞池那头看见了电影明星加莱.库拍。

   "哪儿?"她问我--兴奋得要命。"哪儿?"

   "唷,你正好错过了他。他刚出去。我刚才跟你说的时候,你干吗不马上回过头去呢?"

   她几乎停止跳舞,拼命从大家的头顶上望过去,想最后看他一眼。"唉!唉!"她说。我差点儿碎了她的心--真是差一点儿。我真后悔自己不该跟她开这个玩笑。有些人是不能开玩笑的,尽管他们有可笑的地方。

   可是最最好笑的还在后面。我们回到桌上以后,老马蒂就告诉其他两个说,加莱.库柏刚刚出去。嘿,老拉凡恩和蓓尼丝听了这话,差点儿都趋自杀。她们全都兴奋得要命,问马蒂看见了没有。

   老马蒂说他只隐约见了他一眼。我听了差点儿笑死。

   酒吧马上就要停止营业,所以我给她们每人要了两杯饮料,我自己也另外要了两杯可口可乐,这张混帐桌子上摆满了杯子。那个叫拉凡恩的丑姑娘不住地拿我取笑,因为我光喝可口可乐。她倒真富于幽默感。她和老马蒂只喝汤姆.柯林斯--还是在十二月中旬,我的天。她们除此之外不知道喝什么别的。那个金发女郎老德尼丝光喝掺水的威士忌。而且也真的喝得一滴不剩。三个人老是在寻找电影明星。她们很少讲话--甚至在她们彼此之间。老马蒂比起其余两个来,讲的话还算多些.她老是说着那种粗俗的、叫人脑烦的话,比如管厕所叫"小姑娘的房间",看见布迪.辛格乐队里那个又老又糟的吹木箫的站起来呜呜吹了几下,就认为他吹的好得了不得。她还管那根木箫叫"甘草棒"

   你说她粗俗不粗俗?另外那个叫拉凡恩的丑姑娘白以为非常俏皮。她老叫我打电话给我父亲,问问他今晚上在干什么。她还老问我父亲约了女朋友没有。这话整整问了四遍--她倒真是俏皮。那个金发女郎老蓓尼丝简直一句话也不说。每次我问她什么,她总是说"什么?"这样要不多久,会使你的神经受不了。

   突然间,她们喝完自己的酒,三个全都站起来冲着我说她们要去睡了。她们说明天一早还要到无线电城的音乐厅去看早场电影。我还想留她们多呆一会儿,可她们不肯,因此我们互相说了声再见。

   我对她们说我要是有机会到西雅图,一定去拜望她们,可我很怀疑自己说的话。我是说怀疑我自己会不会真的去拜望她们。

   加上香烟什么的,账单上共约十三元。我想,她们至少应该提出来付一部分帐款,就是在我坐到她们桌上去之前她们自己叫的那些饮料帐--我自然不会让她们付,可她们至少应该提一下。不过我并不在乎。她们实在太没知识了,她们还戴着那种又难看又花哨的帽子哩。还有,她们一早起来要去无线电城音乐厅看早场电影一事也让我十分懊丧。

   假如有人,比如说一个戴着极难看帽子的姑娘,老远来到纽约--还是从华盛顿州的西瞄图来的,老夫爷--结果却是一早起来去无线电城音乐厅看一场混帐的早场电影,那就会让我懊丧得受不了。只要她们不告诉我这一点,我宁肯请她们喝一百杯酒哩。

   她们一定,我也就离开了紫丁香厅。他们反正也快关门了,乐队已经离开很久了。首先,这类地方简直没法呆,除非有个跳舞跳得好的姑娘陪着你跳舞,或者除非那里的侍者让你买的不光是可口可乐,而是一些真正的饮料。世界上没有一个夜总会可以让你长久坐下去,除非你至少可以买点儿酒痛饮一醉,或者除非你是跟一个让你神魂颠倒的姑娘在一起。

 

 

       



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