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Part 12 Chapter 2

About three in the morning Fillmore staggers in… alone. Lit up like an ocean liner, and making a noise like a blind man with his cracked cane. Tap, tap, tap, down the weary lane… "Going straight to bed," he says, as he marches past me. "Tell you all about it tomorrow." He goes inside to his room and throws back the covers. I hear him groaning – "what a woman! what a woman!" In a second he's out again, with his hat on and the cracked cane in his hand. "I knew something like that was going to happen. She's crazy!"

He rummages around in the kitchen a while and then cames back to the studio with a bottle of Anjou. I have to sit up and down a glass with him.

As far as I can piece the story together the whole thing started at the Rond Point des Champs Elysées where he had dropped off for a drink on his way home. As usual at that hour the terrasse was crowded with buzzards. This one was sitting right on the aisle with a pile of saucers in front of her; she was getting drunk quietly all by herself when Fillmore happened along and caught her eye. "I'm drunk," she giggled, "won't you sit down?" And then, as though it were the most natural thing in the world to do, she began right off the bat with the yarn about her movie director, how he had given her the go by and how she had thrown herself in the Seine and so forth and so on. She couldn't remember any more which bridge it was, only that there was a crowd around when they fished her out of the water. Besides, she didn't see what difference it made which bridge she threw herself from – why did he ask such questions? She was laughing hysterically about it, and then suddenly she had a desire to be off – she wanted to dance. Seeing him hesitate she opens her bag impulsively and pulls out a hundred franc note. The next moment, however, she decided that a hundred francs wouldn't go very far. "Haven't you any money at all?" she said. No, he hadn't very much in his pocket, but he had a checkbook at home. So they made a dash for the checkbook and then, of course, I had to happen in just as he was explaining to her the "No tickee, no shirtee" business.

In the middle of a dance she suddenly walks off the floor, with tears in her eyes. "What's the matter?" he said, "what did I do this time?" And instinctively he put his hand to his backside, as though perhaps it might still be wiggling. "It's nothing," she said. "You didn't do anything. Come, you're a nice boy," and with that she drags him on to the floor again and begins to. dance with abandon. "But what's the matter with you?" he murmured. "It's nothing," she repeated. "I saw somebody, that's all." And then, with a sudden spurt of anger – "why do you get me drunk? Don't you know it makes me crazy?"

"Have you got a check?" she says. "We must get out of here." She called the waiter over and whispered to him in Russian. "Is it a good check?" she asked, when the waiter had disappeared. And then, impulsively: "Wait for me downstairs in the cloakroom. I must telephone somebody."

After the waiter had brought the change Fillmore sauntered leisurely downstairs to the cloakroom to wait for her. He strode up and down, humming and whistling softly, and smacking his lips in anticipation of the caviar to come. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Still whistling softly. When twenty minutes had gone by and still no princess he at last grew suspicious. The cloakroom attendant said that she had left long ago. He dashed outside. There was a nigger in livery standing there with a big grin on his face. Did the nigger know where she had breezed to? Nigger grins. Nigger says: "Ah heerd Coupole, dassall sir!"

At the Coupole, downstairs, he finds her sitting in front of a cocktail with a dreamy, trancelike expression on her face. She smiles when she sees him.

"Was that a decent thing to do," he says, "to run away like that? You might have told me that you didn't like me…"

She flared up at this, got theatrical about it. And after a lot of gushing she commenced to whine and slobber. "I'm crazy," she blubbered. "And you're crazy too. You want me to sleep with you, and I don't want to sleep with you." And then she began to rave about her lover, the movie director whom she had seen on the dance floor. That's why she had to run away from the place. That's why she took drugs and got drunk every night. That's why she threw herself in the Seine. She babbled on this way about how crazy she was and then suddenly she had an idea. "Let's go to Bricktop's!" There was a man there whom she knew… he had promised her a job once. She was certain he would help her.

"What's it going to cost?" asked Fillmore cautiously.

It would cost a lot, she let him know that immediately. "But listen, if you take me to Bricktop's, I promise to go home with you." She was honest enough to add that it might cost him five or six hundred francs. "But I'm worth it! You don't know what a woman I am. There isn't another woman like me in all Paris… "

"That's what you think!" His Yankee blood was coming to the fore. "But I don't see it. I don't see that you're worth anything. You're just a poor crazy son of a bitch. Frankly, I'd rather give fifty francs to some poor French girl; at least they give you something in return."

She hit the ceiling when he mentioned the French girls. "Don't talk to me about those women! I hate them! They're stupid… they're ugly… they're mercenary. Stop it, I tell you!"

In a moment she had subsided again. She was on a new tack. "Darling," she murmured, "you don't know what I look like when I'm undressed. I'm beautiful!" And she held her breasts with her two hands.

But Fillmore remained unimpressed. "You're a bitch!" he said coldly. "I wouldn't mind spending a few hundred francs on you, but you're crazy. You haven't even washed your face. Your breath stinks. I don't give a damn whether you're a princess or not… I don't want any of your high assed Russian variety. You ought to get out in the street and hustle for it. You're no better than any little French girl. You're not as good. I wouldn't piss away another sou on you. You ought to go to America – that's the place for a bloodsucking leech like you…"

She didn't seem to be at all put out by this speech. "I think you're just a little afraid of............

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