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Part 15 Chapter 2

The next day I looked her up. She was living in the Latin Quarter. As soon as she realized who I was she became exceedingly cordial. Ginette she called herself. Rather big, raw-boned, healthy, peasant type with a front tooth half eaten away. Full of vitality and a kind of crazy fire in her eyes. The first thing she did was to weep. Then, seeing that I was an old friend of her Jo Jo – that was how she called him – she ran downstairs and brought back a couple of bottles of white wine. I was to stay and have dinner with her – she insisted on it. As she drank she became by turns gay and maudlin. I didn't have to ask her any questions – she went on like a self-winding machine. The thing that worried her principally was – would he get his job back when he was released from the hospital? She said her parents were well off, but they were displeased with her. They didn't approve of her wild ways. They didn't approve of him particularly – he had no manners, and he was an American. She begged me to assure her that he would get his job back, which I did without hesitation. And then she begged me to know if she could believe what he said – that he was going to marry her. Because now, with a child under her belt, and a dose of clap besides, she was in no position to strike a match – with a Frenchman anyway. That was clear, wasn't it? Of course, I assured her. It was all clear as hell to me – except how in Christ's name Fillmore had ever fallen for her. However, one thing at a time. It was my duty now to comfort her, and so I just filled her up with a lot of baloney, told her everything would turn out all right and that I would stand godfather to the child, etc. Then suddenly it struck me as strange that she should have the child at all – especially as it was likely to be born blind. I told her that as tactfully as I could. "It doesn't make any difference," she said, "I want a child by him."


"Even if it's blind?" I asked.


"Mon Dieu, ne dites pas ?a!" she groaned. "Ne dites pas ?a!"


Just the same, I felt it was my duty to say it. She got hysterical and began to weep like a walrus, poured out more wine. In a few moments she was laughing boisterously. She was laughing to think how they used to fight when they got in bed. "He liked me to fight with him," she said. "He was a brute."


As we sat down to eat, a friend of hers walked in – a little tart who lived at the end of the hall. Ginette immediately sent me down to get some more wine. When I came back they had evidently had a good talk. Her friend, Yvette, worked in the police department. A sort of stool pigeon, as far as I could gather. At least that was what she was trying to make me believe. It was fairly obvious that she was just a little whore. But she had an obsession about the police and their doings. Throughout the meal they were urging me to accompany them to a bat musette. They wanted to have a gay time – it was so lonely for Ginette with Jo Jo in the hospital. I told them I had to work, but that on my night off I'd come back and take them out. I made it clear too that I had no dough to spend on them. Ginette, who was really thunderstruck to hear this, pretended that that didn't matter in the least. In fact, just to show what a good sport she was, she insisted on driving me to work in a cab. She was doing it because I was a friend of Jo Jo's. And therefore I was a friend of hers. "And also," thought I to myself, "if anything goes wrong with your Jo Jo you'll come to me on the double quick. Then you'll see what a friend I can be!" I was as nice as pie to her. In fact when we got out of the cab in front of the office, I permitted them to persuade me into having a final Pernod together. Yvette wanted to know if she couldn't call for me after work. She had a lot of things to tell me in confidence, she said. But I managed to refuse without hurting her feelings. Unfortunately I did unbend sufficiently to give her my address.


Unfortunately, I say. As a matter of fact, I'm rather glad of it when I think back on it. Because the very next day things began to happen. The very next day, before I had even gotten out of bed, the two of them called on me. Jo Jo had been removed from the hospital – they had incarcerated him in a little chateau in the country, just a few miles out of Paris. The chateau, they called it. A polite way of saying "the bughouse." They wanted me to get dressed immediately and go with them. They were in a panic.


Perhaps I might have gone alone – but I just couldn't make up my mind to go with these two. I asked them to wait for me downstairs while I got dressed, thinking that it would give me time to invent some excuse for not going. But they wouldn't leave the room. They sat there and watched me wash and dress, just as if it were an everyday affair. In the midst of it, Carl popped in. I gave him the situation briefly in English, and then we hatched up an excuse that I had some important work to do. However, to smooth things over, we got some wine in and we began to amuse them by showing them a book of dirty drawings. Yvette had already lost all desire to go to the chateau. She and Carl were getting along famously. When it came time to go Carl decided to accompany them to the chateau. He thought it would be funny to see Fillmore walking around with a lot of nuts. He wanted to see what it was like in the nuthouse. So off they went, somewhat pickled, and in the best of humor.


All the time that Fillmore was at the chateau I never once went to see him. It wasn't necessary, because Ginette visited him regularly and gave me all the news. They had hopes of bringing him around in a few months, so she said. They thought it was alcoholic poisoning – nothing more. Of course, he had a dose – but that wasn't difficult to remedy. So far as they could see, he didn't have syphilis. That was something. So, to begin with, they used the stomach pump on him. They cleaned his system out thoroughly. He was so weak for a while that he couldn't get out of bed. He was depressed, too. He said he didn't want to be cured – he wanted to die. And he kept repeating this nonsense so insistently that finally they grew alarmed. I suppose it wouldn't have been a very good recommendation if he had committed suicide. Anyway, they began to give him mental treatment. And in between times they pulled out his teeth, more and more of them, until he didn't have a tooth left in his head. He was supposed to feel fine after that, yet strangely he didn't. He became more despondent than ever. And then his hair began to fall out. Finally he developed a paranoid streak – began to accuse them of all sorts of things, demanded to know by what right he was being detained, what he had done to warrant being locked up, etc. After a terrible fit of despondency he would suddenly become energetic and threaten to blow up the place if they didn't release him. And to make it worse, as far as Ginette was concerned, he had gotten all over his notion of marrying her. He t............

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