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Part 15 Chapter 5

When we rolled up to the station we had still about twelve minutes to kill. I didn't dare to say good bye to him yet. At the last minute, rattled as he was, I could see him jumping off the train and scooting back to her. Anything might swerve him. A straw. So I dragged him across the street to a bar and I said: "Now you're going to have a Pernod – your last Pernod and I'm going to pay for it… with your dough."


Something about this remark made him look at me uneasily. He took a big gulp of the Pernod and then, turning to me like an injured dog, he said: "I know I oughtn't to trust you with all that money, but… but… Oh, well, do what you think best. I don't want her to kill herself, that's all."


"Kill herself?" I said. "Not her! You must think a hell of a lot of yourself if you can believe a thing like that. As for the money, though I hate to give it to her, I promise you I'll go straight to the post office and telegraph it to her. I wouldn't trust myself with it a minute longer than is necessary." As I said this I spied a bunch of post cards in a revolving rack. I grabbed one off – a picture of the Eiffel Tower it was – and made him write a few words. "Tell her you're sailing now. Tell her you love her and that you'll send for her as soon as you arrive… I'll send it by pneumatique when I go to the post office. And tonight I'll see her. Everything'll be Jake, you'll see."


With that we walked across the street to the station. Only two minutes to go. I felt it was safe now. At the gate I gave him a slap on the back and pointed to the train. I didn't shake hands with him – he would have slobbered all over me. I just said: "Hurry! She's going in a minute." And with that I turned on my heel and marched off. I didn't even look round to see if he was boarding the train. I was afraid to.


I hadn't thought, all the while I was bundling him off, what I'd do once I was free of him. I had promised a lot of things – but that was only to keep him quiet. As for facing Ginette, I had about as little courage for it as he had. I was getting panicky myself: Everything had happened so quickly that it was impossible to grasp the nature of the situation in full. I walked away from the station in a kind of delicious stupor – with the post card in my hand. I stood against a lamppost and read it over. It sounded preposterous. I read it again, to make sure that I wasn't dreaming, and then I tore it up and threw it in the gutter.


I looked around uneasily, half expecting to see Ginette coming after me with a tomahawk. Nobody was following me. I started walking leisurely toward the Place Lafayette. It was a beautiful day, as I had observed earlier. Light, puffy clouds above, sailing with the wind. The awnings flapping. Paris had never looked so good to me; I almost felt sorry that I had shipped the poor bugger off. At the Place Lafayette I sat down facing the church and stared at the clock tower; it's not such a wonderful piece of architecture, but that blue in the dial face always fascinated me. It was bluer than ever today. I couldn't take my eyes off it.


  Unless he were crazy enough to write her a letter, explaining everything, Ginette need never know what had happened. And even if she did learn that he had left her 2,500 francs or so she couldn't prove it. I could always say that he imagined it. A guy who was crazy enough to walk off without even a hat was crazy enough to invent the 2,500 francs, or whatever it was. How much was it, anyhow?, I wondered. My pockets were sagging with the weight of it. I hauled it all out and counted it carefully. There was exactly 2,875 francs and 35 centimes. More than I had thought. The 75 francs and 35 centimes had to be gotten rid of. I wanted an even sum – a clean 2,800 francs. Just then I saw a cab pulling up to the curb. A woman stepped out with a white poodle dog in her hands; the dog was peeing over her silk dress. The idea of taking a dog for a ride got me sore. I'm as good as her dog, I said to myself, and with that I gave the driver a sign and told him to drive me through the Bois. He wanted to know where exactly. "Anywhere," I said. "Go through the Bois, go all around it – and take your time, I'm in no hurry." I sank back and let the houses whizz by, the jagged roofs, the chimney pots, the colored walls, the urinals, the dizzy carrefours. Passing the Rond Point I thought I'd go downstairs and take a leak. No telling what might happen down there. I told the driver to wait. It was the first time in my life I had............

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