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Before the Literary Bar

“Come on,” he said, “you and me are going to leave these people.”

He handed Romulus’s leash to Rod and took me down the tunnel to a room at the other end that turned out to be another apartment. I didn’t have time to look around; it didn’t matter. We were on the floor. I was embarrassed for a little while, for I reeked of Rod, but Bobby de P. loved smells, I think he had a nose instead of a brain, and besides, he had his own aroma, as I have said. Maybe something in him had the answer to my secret, or maybe I had just been prepared for Bobby by that crazy ride with Rod, and so had kept nothing, absolutely nothing, with which to protect myself, but it was as if the very inside of me was pushing to get over to him as desperate as the feeling you know in a dream.

We went on all night. Somewhere in the middle I said, “Oh, you’re the best, I never knew anything like this before,” and I hadn’t, I felt things start in me and go flying off into the universe or somewhere, they were sensations going out to far space, so I meant what I said, except even as I opened my mouth, I knew I had always had the same thing to say to any fellow who was any good at all, in fact I had said it to Rod as soon as he could hear me after the motorcycle stopped. I had even been tempted to compliment Mr. Farnsworth (after all, Farnsworth would say to himself, “Nobody sits in a chair like me!”), it was exactly the remark to make if you wanted to keep a fellow happy and on your string. I once had eight great lovers on eight strings. Three more and I would have run out of fingers. Saying it to Bobby was true, however, I meant it, maybe I meant it for the first time since I’d begun to say it, and Bobby just roared with a crazy kind of laughter. Then we just started reaching into one another as if we were really going to catch something never caught before.

After a while, we moved over to the bed, and later he even turned on the lights, and there were a lot of mirrors. The room was full of antiques who sat there like rich and famous people, and I could see the Persian rug we had been doing it on, red and gold and purple and green. The bed was the largest I’d been in till then. We must have used every inch of it; he was one rich boy who wouldn’t stop. All through the night, there were knocks on the door and people yelling, “Bobby, where are you?” or “Join in the fun, for God’s sake,” but in the morning, when we wandered out (and by then I was so comfortable I wore nothing but high-heeled shoes, and Mr. de P. was back in his Stetson hat), we came to the dead smoky smell of old reefers and cartons of cigarette butts in ashtrays and nobody around but the dog. Romulus was lying in the middle of the floor with his diamond collar gone and his throat cut. His eyes were open, and he had the peculiar expression of a young pup learning to sit on his hind legs. A simple dog look. Plus all that blood on the carpet which you couldn’t see at first it was such a dark carpet.

Bobby started to blubber like a five-year-old kid. He cried and his belly shook a little and his big jaw looked really prominent the way a five-year-old kid with a big jaw can impress you with how mad they are going to be when they grow up. Then he came to a stop and knelt by the dog and got a little blood on his fingers and touched it to himself and to me, but so softly that I wasn’t offended, as if that was a nice way to say goodbye to Romulus, and then we went back to the bedroom and made love, which turned out to be sweeter than anything because it was full of sorrow, and I cried for the baby in my stomach who would soon be gone and the dead dog and for myself, and felt very sweet toward Bobby.

Later that day I asked him, “Do you know who killed Romulus?” and he nodded.

I asked, “Are you going to do anything about it?”

“You bet,” he said.

PROSECUTOR: We would like Mr. Mailer to continue directly to Exhibit B, page 92 to page 95. May it please the court, the new excerpt concludes the description after skipping over a brief account of the household of this Bobby de P., and his business connections, and his family.

[The defendant reads Exhibit B, page 92 to page 95]

Then I began to have this ferocious headache. When we weren’t making love, I felt nauseated and wondered if it was morning sickness, and slowly, day by day, Bobby de P. and me began to fight. Except they weren’t quarrels so much as savage displays, you might say, of bad nerves, after which we’d be off once more. All the while we’d talk about getting married. Only it was like we were flipping a switch. Maybe it was the benzedrine. He kept feeding us pills until I couldn’t sleep, and every time I came near to something fabulous, my chest also came near to exploding.


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