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Northern Lights

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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She was very young. She had no expression. She was somebody’s daughter. ‘I seen your picture in the papers,’ she said, staring at his bad eye.

‘Ah, and very observant, too. Classy and observant.’

‘I seen your picture,’ she said. ‘Who are you anyhow?’

‘A dentist,’ Harvey smiled. ‘This is my assistant Dr Watson. We pull teeth. I might add that we do a very classy job of it, cut rate. Two for a buck. You might have seen our ads in the paper.’

‘Prob’ly,’ the waitress said.

‘So,’ Harvey smiled. ‘Why don’t you just sit with us awhile and tell us your life history. I’m sure it’s classy.’

‘Can’t,’ she said. She gave his bad eye a last look and wiggled towards the bar.

They sat and drank the beers and watched the groups move about. Perry cleaned his glasses. The jukebox kept playing and the place was loud with bottles and music.

‘Hey, it’s Harvey! Hey, Harvey, for Christ sake!’

It was Bishop Markham. Herb Wolff trailed after him, both of them grinning. They shook Harvey’s hand, and Bishop beamed and ordered beers all around.

‘Where the blazes you been hiding, boy?’

‘Here and there and nowhere.’

‘Sonofagun! Well, let me say we’re proud of you,’ said Bishop, holding up his glass. ‘Really proud. Really. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, we’re proud.’ Bishop wore a bow tie and crew cut. ‘You really made it, Harvey. And you look like a million bucks. Seriously. Doesn’t he look good?’

Wolff nodded fiercely. ‘He looks terrific. You look absolutely terrific, Harv. By God, I’d say you look like a million bucks.’

Addie was still dancing, a slow number. Her new partner had red hair. Her face was in his red hair.

‘Crummy war,’ Bishop was saying, ‘but you did yourself proud, Harvey. I mean it. A goddamn war hero! I remember …’ and he talked about Harvey’s football days. Bishop was a classmate of Perry’s. Now he sold life insurance and real estate and sat on the Chamber of Commerce and the draft board and chaired the Kiwanis Club. He loved to talk.

Perry went outside for air. When he returned, Bishop Markham and Wolff and the others were playing the pinball game. Harvey was with the young waitress. The place was frantic and loud. Addie was still with her crowd, they were all dancing. He stood alone until the music ended and Addie came up.

‘Hey,’ she said. Her face was brown and wet. ‘Not awfully fond of dancing, are you?’

‘No. Where did you get all those jolly young friends?’

‘Oh, them. They’re all right. The Whole lot is from Silver Bay and they love to dance. Franz is going to play his accordion and we’re all going to dance polkas.’

‘Wonderful.’

‘Sure.’

‘I saw you at the lake,’ he said.

‘Ah,’ she smiled. ‘Yes. I waved. Did you see my wave?’

‘I saw.’

‘You were playing a peeping tom, weren’t you? You were out there spying.’

‘I happened along.’

Addie took his arm.

‘How’s the dancing?’

‘It’s okay. You haven’t been in the library. You’re going to go illiterate. I’ve been saving all these books for you.’

‘I haven’t felt much like reading. I don’t know.’

She leaned against him. ‘I’ve been drinking, Paul. I have to go to my friends. I’ll make an excuse and come to your table.’ She turned, jerked a thumb towards Harvey. ‘Is that your brother the war hero? He looks like some fine war hero.’

‘That’s him.’

‘He must be a pirate. He looks like a pirate.’

‘I guess he does.’

‘All right,’ she said. ‘You hang tight. I’ll make my excuses and come to your table. But you can’t feel my legs and you have to promise to dance the polkas. You promise?’ She released his arm and it felt red where she’d been holding it. The tavern was thumping. ‘And you must stop spying,’ she said.

‘Oh, it’s not …’

‘Promise?’

‘Sure.’

‘I’ll hurry over.’

Harvey was wooing his young waitress. He was getting drunk and the girl watched him carefully.

‘Hey, Paul! You met my classy friend, Linda?’

‘Lorna.’

‘Lorna, Linda, no matter. Have I told anyone how classy you are? Imagine finding a classy person such as yourself in such an unclassy part of the world. Imagine that. I’m boggled by it. Paul, aren’t you boggled by all the classy people you meet in unclassy places?’

‘Always.’ Addie was still talking with her young friends. She had her hands on her hips, palms in. It was her odd way of standing, her pelvis forward and her eyes black and bright. Sometimes her eyes looked Indian, sometimes Asian, and she wore a white scarf on her hair. She wore sandals and white shorts.

‘This is Linda,’ Harvey said. ‘Linda’s going to get us more beer.’

‘Lorna,’ she whined. Her brown hair was strung in a great nest towards the rafters.

‘Linda, Lorna. Something like that. Am I close?’

‘Lorna.’

‘Yes, that’s it. And this is my brother. Together we’re a classy group, don’t you think? My brother is my assistant, you know. He thinks I don’t behave sometimes. He keeps me reined in, so to speak. Isn’t that right, brother? I’m a quite famous and reputable dentist.’

‘I hate dentists,’ the girl said.

Her mouth snapped shut. She snuffed out a cigarette.

Harvey kept after her. ‘Don’t take it wrong now. You’re classy. It’s just the teeth. Here, open up.’ He touched her lips with a finger. ‘Come on, honey, open up. That’s it.’

Tentatively, the girl’s mouth opened. Harvey touched her front teeth. Her eyes rolled down. She held an unlit cigarette in one hand.

‘Not so classy in here,’ said Harvey. ‘We’ll need some time. Atta girl, hold still now. See here, Paul? Cap this baby. Build a bridge here.’

‘Stop it,’ Lorna grunted. She spoke between her teeth, holding them bared, but Harvey had her by the neck, craning over and pivoting.

‘Easy does it,’ Harvey purred. ‘Ack! These things. Have to yank ’em, no question. Then drill a nice hole right … here … and do a canal job on the nerve, no problem. Open up now. What do you think, doctor?’

Harvey kept after the girl. She had a great red mouth.

‘Infected,’ Harvey said solemnly. ‘Right here. Does this hurt? The girl squealed and her cigarette rolled to the floor. ‘Ha! Infected, all right. No doubt about it. A very infectious young lady. Hoof and mouth, I suspect.’

‘Take it easy,’ Perry said.
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