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Part 15 Chapter 4

We're like a herd of wild horses with blinders over our eyes. On the rampage. Stampede. Over the precipice. Bango! Anything that nourishes violence and confusion. On! On! No matter where. And foaming at the lips all the while. Shouting Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Why? God knows. It's in the blood. It's the climate. It's a lot of things. It's the end, too. We're pulling the whole world down about our ears. We don't know why. It's our destiny. The rest is plain shit…


At the Palais Royal I suggested that we stop and have a drink. He hesitated a moment. I saw that he was worrying about her, about the lunch, about the bawling out he'd get.


"For Christ's sake," I said, "forget about her for a while. I'm going to order something to drink and I want you to drink it. Don't worry, I'm going to get you out of this fucking mess." I ordered two stiff whiskies.


When he saw the whiskies coming he smiled at me just like a child again.


"Down it!" I said, "and let's have another. This is going to do you good. I don't care what the doctor says – this time it'll be all right. Come on, down with it!"


He put it down all right and while the gar?on disappeared to fetch another round he looked at me with brimming eyes, as though I were the last friend in the world. His lips were twitching a bit, too. There was something he wanted to say to me and he didn't quite know how to begin. I looked at him easily, as though ignoring the appeal and, shoving the saucers aside, I leaned over on my elbow and I said to him earnestly: "Look here, Fillmore, what is it you'd really like to do? Tell me!"


With that the tears gushed up and he blurted out: "I'd like to be home with my people. I'd like to hear English spoken." The tears were streaming down his face. He made no effort to brush them away. He just let everything gush forth. Jesus, I thought to myself, that's fine to have a release like that. Fine to be a complete coward at least once in your life. To let go that way. Great! Great! It did me so much good to see him break down that way that I felt as though I could solve any problem. I felt courageous and resolute. I had a thousand ideas in my head at once.


"Listen," I said, bending still closer to him, "if you mean what you said why don't you do it… why don't you go? Do you know what I would do, if I were in your shoes? I'd go today. Yes, by Jesus, I mean it… I'd go right away, without even saying good bye to her. As a matter of fact that's the only way you can go – she'd never let you say good bye. You know that."


The gar?on came with the whiskies. I saw him reach forward with a desperate eagerness and raise the glass to his lips. I saw a glint of hope in his eyes – far off, wild, desperate. He probably saw himself swimming across the Atlantic. To me it looked easy, simple as rolling off a log. The whole thing was working itself out rapidly in my mind. I knew just what each step would be. Clear as a bell, I was.


"Whose money is that in the bank?" I asked. "Is it her father's or is it yours?"

"It's mine!" he exclaimed. "My mother sent it to me. I don't want any of her goddamned money."


"That's swell!" I said. "Listen, suppose we hop a cab and go back there. Draw out every cent. Then we'll go to the British Consulate and get a visa. You're going to hop the train this afternoon for London. From London you'll take the first boat to America. I'm saying that because then you won't be worried about her trailing you. She'll never suspect that you went via London. If she goes searching for you she'll naturally go to Le Havre first, or Cherbourg… And here's another thing – you're not going back to get your things. You're going to leave everything here. Let her keep them. With that French mind of hers she'll never dream that you scooted off without bag or baggage. It's incredible. A Frenchman would never dream of doing a thing like that… unless he was as cracked as you are."


"You're right!" he exclaimed. "I never thought of that. Besides, you might send them to me later on – if she'll surrender them! But that doesn't matter now. Jesus, though, I haven't even got a hat!"


"What do you need a hat for? When you get to London you can buy everything you need. All you need now is to hurry. We've got to find out when the train leaves."


"Listen," he said, reaching for his wallet, "I'm going to leave everything to you. Here, take this and do whatever's necessary. I'm too weak… I'm dizzy."


I took the wallet and emptied it of the bills he had just drawn from the bank. A cab was standing at the curb. We hopped in. There was a train leaving the Gare du Nord at four o'clock, or thereabouts. I was figuring it our the bank, the Consulate, the American Express, the station. Fine! Just about make it.


"Now buck up!" I said, "and keep your shirt on! Shit! in a few hours you'll be crossing the Channel. Tonight you'll be walking around in London and you'll get a good bellyful of English. Tomorrow you'll be on the open sea – and then, by Jesus, you're a free man and you needn't give a fuck what happens. By the time you get to New York this'll be nothing more than a bad dream."


This got him so excited that his feet were moving convulsively, as if he were trying to run inside the cab. At the bank his hand was trembli............

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