She ventured to obtain a promise now. At the banquet—no speeches, huh?
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Not for me. The way you can stand up and talk to hundreds of people. And be so easy—convince anybody about whatever.
A young writer’s prayers.
By midafternoon, the black Chevrolet had reached Emporia, Kansas—a large town, almost a city, and a safe place, so the occupants of the car had decided, to do a bit of shopping. They parked on a side street, then wandered about until a suitably crowded variety store presented itself. The first purchase was a pair of rubber gloves; these were for Perry, who, unlike Dick, had neglected to bring old gloves of his own.
Nothing can go wrong.
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Next, they were interested in rope. Perry studied the stock, tested it. Having once served in the merchant marine, he understood rope and was clever with knots. He chose a white nylon cord, as strong as wire and not much thicker. They discussed how many yards of it they required. The question irritated Dick, for it was part of a greater quandary, and he could not, despite the alleged perfection of his over-all design, be certain of the answer. Dick tried. The kid and the girl. And maybe the other two. They might have guests. The only sure thing is every one of them has got to go.
Kenyon had built the chest himself: a mahogany hope chest, lined with cedar, which he intended to give Beverly as a wedding present. Now, working on it in the so-called den in the basement, he applied a last coat of varnish. Together Kenyon and Nancy had made a paint-splattered attempt to deprive the basement room of its unremovable dourness, and neither was aware of failure.
Adjoining the den was a furnace room, which contained a tool-littered table piled with some of his other works-in-progress—an amplifying unit, an elderly wind-up Victrola that he was restoring to service. This defect, aggravated by an inability to function without glasses, prevented him from taking more than a token part in those team sports basketball, baseball that were the main occupation of most of the boys who might have been his friends.
He had only one close friend—Bob Jones, the son of Taylor Jones, whose ranch was a mile west of the Clutter home. Not far from River Valley Farm there is a mysterious stretch of countryside known as the Sand Hills; it is like a beach without an ocean, and at night coyotes slink among the dunes, assembling in hordes to howl. Equally intoxicating, and more profitable, were the rabbit roundups the two boys conducted.
But what meant most to Kenyon—and Bob, too—was their weekends, overnight hunting hikes along the shores of the river: wandering, wrapping up in blankets, listening at sunrise for the noise of wings, moving toward the sound on tiptoe, and then, sweetest of all, swaggering homeward with a dozen duck dinners swinging from their belts. But lately things had changed between Kenyon and his friend.
I used to think the same as you: Women—so what? If Bob was unavailable, then he would rather be alone, for in temperament he was not the least Mr. Leaving the varnish to dry, he went on to another chore—one that took him out-of-doors. When he got there, he found one of the hired men loosening earth with a spade—Paul Helm, the husband of the housekeeper.
Helm the late Mr. Helm; he died of a stroke the following March was a sombre man in his late fifties whose withdrawn manner veiled a nature keenly curious and watchful; he liked to know what was going on. Helm grunted. Helm were now tying plants. Suddenly, Nancy herself came jogging across the fields aboard fat Babe—Babe, returning from her Saturday treat, a bathe in the river.
Teddy, the dog, accompanied them, and all three were water-splashed and shining. Nancy laughed; she had never been ill—not once. Sliding off Babe, she sprawled on the grass at the edge of the garden and seized her cat, dangled him above her, and kissed his nose and whiskers. How that Skeeter could take a fence!
By Thanksgiving? Helm picked up his spade. Crows cawed, sundown was near, but his home was not; the lane of Chinese elms had turned into a tunnel of darkening green, and he lived at the end of it, half a mile away. But once he looked back. The boy rooting around in the garden. Nancy leading old Babe off to the barn. Like I said, nothing out of the ordinary. The black Chevrolet was again parked, this time in front of a Catholic hospital on the outskirts of Emporia. While Perry waited in the car, he had gone into the hospital to try and buy a pair of black stockings from a nun.
The notion presented one drawback, of course: nuns, and anything pertaining to them, were bad luck, and Perry was most respectful of his superstitions. Some others were the number 15, red hair, white flowers, priests crossing a road, snakes appearing in a dream. The compulsively superstitious person is also very often a serious believer in fate; that was the case with Perry. During the first of his three years in prison, Perry had observed Willie-Jay from a distance, with interest but with apprehension; if one wished to be thought a tough specimen, intimacy with Willie-Jay seemed unwise.
That was what amazed Perry. You exist in a half-world suspended between two superstructures, one self-expression and the other self-destruction. You are strong, but there is a flaw in your strength, and unless you learn to control it the flaw will prove stronger than your strength and defeat you. The flaw? Explosive emotional reaction out of all proportion to the occasion. Why this unreasonable anger at the sight of others who are happy or content, this growing contempt for people and the desire to hurt them?
But these are dreadful enemies you carry within yourself—in time destructive as bullets. Mercifully, a bullet kills its victim. This other bacteria, permitted to age, does not kill a man but leaves in its wake the hulk of a creature torn and twisted; there is still fire within his being but it is kept alive by casting upon it faggots of scorn and hate. He may successfully accumulate, but he does not accumulate success, for he is his own enemy and is kept from truly enjoying his achievements.
A cinch, the Perfect score. Or Willie-Jay. But they had both been much in his thoughts, and especially the latter, who in memory had grown ten feet tall, a gray-haired wise man haunting the hallways of his mind. In the solitary, comfortless course of his recent driftings, Perry had over and over again reviewed this indictment, and had decided it was unjust. He did give a damn—but who had ever given a damn about him?
His father? Yes, up to a point. He drove to Las Vegas, sold his junk-heap car, packed his collection of maps, old letters, manuscripts, and books, and bought a ticket for a Greyhound bus.
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That much he had learned by telephoning the Reverend Mr. A decent job, and a home with some good people who are willing to help him. But what, he wondered when the anguish subsided, had he really expected from a reunion with Willie-Jay? Dick returned empty-handed. After they had travelled in silence awhile, Dick patted Perry on the knee. What the hell would they have thought? Clutter uncap a Parker pen and open a checkbook. Like royalty, he was famous for never carrying cash.
When those tax fellows come poking around, cancelled checks are your best friend. With the check written but not yet signed, he swivelled back in his desk chair and seemed to ponder. Herb was hardheaded, a slow man to make a deal; Johnson had worked over a year to clinch this sale. But, no, his customer was merely experiencing what Johnson called the Solemn Moment—a phenomenon familiar to insurance salesmen.
The mood of a man insuring his life is not unlike that of a man signing his will; thoughts of mortality must occur. Clutter, as though conversing with himself. Take Kenyon.
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Don Jarchow? Vere, too. Vere English—the boy my girl Beverly had the good sense to settle on. Johnson, a veteran at listening to ruminations of this sort, knew it was time to intervene. Clutter straightened, reached again for his pen.
go site And pretty optimistic. The time was ten past six, and the agent was anxious to go; his wife would be waiting supper. They shook hands. Then, with a merited sense of victory, Johnson picked up Mr. It was the first payment on a forty-thousand-dollar policy that, in the event of death by accidental means, paid double indemnity.