"Sit down… sit down there on the bed," he says. "You're going to hear everything… but wait first… wait a little." He commences to lather his face again, and then to hone his razor. He even remarks about the water… no hot water again.
"Listen, Carl, I'm on tenterhooks. You can torture me afterward, if you like, but tell me now, tell me one thing… was it good or bad?"
He turns away from the mirror with brush in hand and gives me a strange smile.
"Wait! I'm going to tell you everything…"
"That means it was a failure."
"No," he says, drawing out his words. "It wasn't a failure, and it wasn't a success either… By the way, did you fix it up for me at the office? What did you tell them?"
I see it's no use trying to pull it out of him. When he gets good and ready he'll tell me. Not before. I lie back on the bed, silent as a clam. He goes on shaving.
Suddenly, apropos of nothing at all, he begins to talk – disconnectedly at first, and then more and more clearly, emphatically, resolutely. It's a struggle to get it out, but he seems determined to relate everything; he acts as if he were getting something off his conscience. He even reminds me of the look he gave me as he was going up the elevator shaft. He dwells on that lingeringly, as though to imply that everything were contained in that last moment, as though, if he had the power to alter things, he would never have put foot outside the elevator.
She was in her dressing sack when he called. There was a bucket of champagne on the dresser. The room was rather dark and her voice was lovely. He gives me all the details about the room, the champagne, how the garçon opened it, the noise it made, the way her dressing sack rustled when she came forward to greet him – he tells me everything but what I want to hear.
It was about eight when he called on her. At eight thirty he was nervous, thinking about the job. "It was about nine when I called you, wasn't it?" he says.
"Yes, about that."
"I was nervous, see…"
"I know that. Go on…"
I don't know whether to believe him or not, especially after those letters we concocted. I don't even know whether I've heard him accurately, because what he's telling me sounds utterly fantastic. And yet it sounds true too, knowing the sort of guy he is. And then I remember his voice over the telephone, that strange mixture of fright and jubilation. But why isn't he more jubilant now? He keeps smiling all the time, smiling like a rosy little bedbug that has had its fill. "It was nine o'clock," he says once again, "when I called you up, wasn't it?" I nod my head wearily. Yes, it was nine o'clock. He is certain now that it was nine o'clock because he remembers having taken out his watch. Anyway, when he looked at his watch again it was ten o'clock. At ten o'clock she was lying on the divan with her boobies in her hands. That's the way he gives it to me – in driblets. At eleven o'clock it was all settled; they were going to run away, to Borneo. Fuck the husband! She never loved him anyway. She would never have written the first letter if the husband wasn't old and passionless. "And then she says to me: 'But listen, dear, how do you know you won't get tired of me?' "
At this I burst out laughing. This sounds preposterous to me, I can't help it.
"What did you expect me to say? I said: 'How could anyone ever grow tired of you?' "
And then he describes to me what happened after that, how he bent down and kissed her breasts, and how, after he had kissed them fervidly, he stuffed them back into her corsage, or whatever it is they call these things. And after that another coupe of champagne.
Around midnight the garçon arrives with beer and sandwiches – caviar sandwiches. And all the while, so he says, he has been dying to take a leak. He had one hard on, but it faded out. All the while his bladder is fit to burst, but he imagines, the cute little prick that he is, that the situation calls for delicacy.
At one thirty she's for hiring a carriage and driving through the Bois. He has only one thought in his headhow to take a leak? "I love you… I adore you," he says. "I'll go anywhere you say – Istanbul, Singapore, Honolulu. Only I must go now… It's getting late."
到了一点半她提议租一辆车去逛波伊思公园，卡尔心中却只想着一件事—如何撒泡尿。“我爱你……我崇拜你，”他说。 “你说到哪儿我都跟你去 -伊斯坦布尔、新加坡、檀香山，只是现在我一定得走了……太迟了。”
He tells me all this in his dirty little room, with the sun pouring in and the birds chirping away like mad. I don't yet know whether she was beautiful or not. He doesn't know himself, the imbecile. He rather thinks she wasn't. The room was dark and then there was the champagne and his nerves all frazzled.
"But you ought to know something about her – if this isn't all a goddamned lie!"
"Wait a minute," he says. "Wait… let me think! No, she wasn't beautiful. I'm sure of that now. She had a streak of gray hair over her forehead… I remember that. But that wouldn't be so bad – I had almost forgotten it you see. No, it was her arms – they were thin… they were thin and brittle." He begins to pace back and forth. – Suddenly he stops dead. "If she were only ten years younger!" he exclaims. "If she were ten years younger I might overlook the streak of gray hair… and even the brittle arms. Buc she's too old. You see, with a cunt like that every year counts now. She won't be just one year older next year – she'll be ten years older. Another year hence and she'll be twenty years older. And I'll be getting younger looking all the time – at least for another five years…"
"But how did it end?" I interrupt.
"That's just it… it didn't end. I promised to see her Tuesday around five o'clock. That's bad, you know! There were lines in her face which will look much worse in daylight. I suppose she wants me to fuck her Tuesday. Fucking in the daytime – you don't do it with a cunt like that. Especially in a hotel like that. I'd rather do it on my night off… but Tuesday's not my night off. And that's not all. I promised her a letter in the meantime. How am I going to write her a letter now? I haven't anything to say… Shit! If only she were ten years younger. Do you think I should go with her… to Borneo or wherever it is she wants to take me? What would I do with a rich cunt like that on my hands? I don't know how to shoot. I am afraid of guns and all that sort of thing. Besides, she'll be wanting me to fuck her night and day… nothing but hunting and fucking all the time… I can't do it!"
"Maybe it won't be so bad as you think. She'll buy you ties and all sorts of things…" "Maybe you'll come along with us, eh? I told her all about you…""Did you tell her I was poor? Did you tell her I needed things?"
“这事儿根本没 -没完，我答应星期二五点左右去见她。你知道，这很糟！她脸上的皱纹在白天会显得更难看。我估计她是想叫我星期二跟她睡，大白天睡 -没人会跟这样一个女人在大白天睡，尤其是在那样一家旅馆里。我宁愿在不上班的晚上干……可是星期二晚上要上班。还不止这些，我当时还答应要给她写封信的。现在怎么给她写信呢？我没有什么好说的……屁，只要她年轻十岁。你认为我该跟她去吗？去婆罗州或别的什么她想带我去的地方？我不会射击，我怕枪和所有那类玩艺儿。再说，她会要求我没日没夜地跟她睡觉……除了打猎就是睡觉，别的什么也不做……我办不到！”
"I told her everything. Shit, everything would be fine, if she were just a few years younger. She said she was turning forty. That means fifty or sixty. It's like fucking your own mother… you can't do it… it's impossible."
"But she must have had some attractiveness… you were kissing her breasts, you said."
"Kissing her breasts – what's that? Besides it was dark, I'm telling you."
Putting on his pants a button falls off. "Look at that will you. It's falling apart, the goddamned suit. I've worn it for seven years now… I never paid for it either. It was a good suit once, but it stinks now. And that cunt would buy me suits too, all I wanted most likely. But that's what I don't like, having a woman shell out for me. I never did that in my life. That's your idea. I'd rather live alone. Shit, this is a good room isn't it? What's wrong with it? It's a damned sight better than her room, isn't it?
I don't like her fine hotel. I'm against hotels like that. I told her so.
She said she didn't care where she lived… said she'd come and live with me if I wanted her to. Can you picture her moving in here with her big trunks and her hatboxes and all that crap she drags around with her? She has too many things – too many dresses and bottles and all that. It's like a clinic, her room. If she gets a little scratch on her finger it's serious. And then she has to be massaged and her hair has to be waved and she musn't eat this and she musn't eat that. Listen, Joe, she'd be all right if she were just a little younger. You can forgive a young cunt anything.