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Part 15 Chapter 1

It was spring before I managed to escape from the penitentiary, and then only by a stroke of fortune. A telegram from Carl informed me one day that there was a vacancy "upstairs"; he said he would send me the fare back if I decided to accept. I telegraphed back at once and as soon as the dough arrived I beat it to the station. Not a word to M. le Proviseur or anyone. French leave, as they say.


I went immediately to the hotel at 1 bis, where Carl was staying. He came to the door stark naked. It was his night off and there was a cunt in the bed as usual. "Don't mind her," he says, "she's asleep. If you need a lay you can take her on. She's not bad." He pulls the covers back to show me what she looks like. However, I wasn't thinking about a lay right away. I was too excited. I was like a man who has just escaped from jail. I just wanted to see and hear things. Coming from the station it was like a long dream. I felt as though I had been away for years.


It was not until I had sat down and taken a good look at the room that I realized I was back again in Paris. It was Carl's room and no mistake about it. Like a squirrel cage and shithouse combined. There was hardly room on the table for the portable machine he used. It was always like that, whether he had a cunt with him or not. Always a dictionary lying open on a gilt edged volume of Faust, always a tobacco pouch, a beret, a bottle of vin rouge, letters, manuscripts, old newspapers, water colors, teapot, dirty socks, toothpicks, Kruschen Salts, condoms, etc. In the bidet were orange peels and the remnants of a ham sandwich.


"There's some food in the closet" he said. "Help yourself! I was just going to give myself an injection."


I found the sandwich he was talking about and a piece of cheese that he had nibbled at beside it. While he sat on the edge of the bed, dosing himself with his argyrol, I put away the sandwich and cheese with the aid of a little wine.


"I liked that letter you sent me about Goethe," he said, wiping his prick with a dirty pair of drawers.


"I'll show you the answer to it in a minute – I'm putting it in my book. The trouble with you is that you're not a German. You have to be German to understand Goethe. Shit, I'm not going to explain it to you now. I've put it all in the book… By the way, I've got a new cunt now – not this one – this one's a half wit. At least, I had her until a few days ago. I'm not sure whether she'll come back or not. She was living with me all the time you were away. The other day her parents came and took her away. They said she was only fifteen. Can you beat that? They scared the shit out of me too…" I began to laugh. It was like Carl to get himself into a mess like that.


"What are you laughing for?" he said. "I may go to prison for it. Luckily, I didn't knock her up. And that's funny, too, because she never took care of herself properly. But do you know what saved me? So I think, at least. It was Faust. Yeah! Her old man happened to see it lying on the table. He asked me if I understood German. One thing led to another and before I knew it he was looking through my books. Fortunately I happened to have the Shakespeare open too. That impressed him like hell. He said I was evidently a very serious guy."


"What about the girl – what did she have to say?"


"She was frightened to death. You see, she had a little watch with her when she came; in the excitement we couldn't find the watch, and her mother insisted that the watch be found or she'd call the police. You see how things are here. I turned the whole place upside down – but I couldn't find the goddamned watch. The mother was furious. I liked her too, in spite of everything. She was even better looking than the daughter. Here – I'll show you a letter I started to write her. I'm in love with her…"


"With the mother?"


"Sure. Why not? If I had seen the mother first I'd never have looked at the daughter. How did I know she was only fifteen? You don't ask a cunt how old she is before you lay her, do you?"


"Joe, there's something funny about this. You're not shitting me, are you?"


"Am I shitting you? Here – look at this!" And he shows me the water colors the girl had made – cute little things – a knife and a loaf of bread, the table and teapot, everything running uphill. "She was in love with me," he said. "She was just like a child. I had to tell her when to brush her teeth and how to put her, hat on. Here – look at the lollypops! I used to buy her a few lollypops every day – she liked them."


"Well, what did she do when her parents came to take her away? Didn't she put up a row?"


"She cried a little, that's all. What could she do? She's under age… I had to promise never to see her again, never to write her either. That's what I'm waiting to see now – whether she'll stay away or not. She was a virgin w............

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