All of a sudden, on my way out to the lobby, I got old Jane Gallagher on the brain
again. I got her on, and I couldn't get her off. I sat down in this vomity-looking chair in
the lobby and thought about her and Stradlater sitting in that goddam Ed Banky's car, and
though I was pretty damn sure old Stradlater hadn't given her the time--I know old Jane
like a book--I still couldn't get her off my brain. I knew her like a book. I really did. I
mean, besides checkers, she was quite fond of all athletic sports, and after I got to know
her, the whole summer long we played tennis together almost every morning and golf
almost every afternoon. I really got to know her quite intimately. I don't mean it was
anything physical or anything--it wasn't--but we saw each other all the time. You don't
always have to get too sexy to get to know a girl.
The way I met her, this Doberman pinscher she had used to come over and relieve
himself on our lawn, and my mother got very irritated about it. She called up Jane's
mother and made a big stink about it. My mother can make a very big stink about that
kind of stuff. Then what happened, a couple of days later I saw Jane laying on her
stomach next to the swimming pool, at the club, and I said hello to her. I knew she lived
in the house next to ours, but I'd never conversed with her before or anything. She gave
me the big freeze when I said hello that day, though. I had a helluva time convincing her
that I didn't give a good goddam where her dog relieved himself. He could do it in the
living room, for all I cared. Anyway, after that, Jane and I got to be friends and all. I
played golf with her that same afternoon. She lost eight balls, I remember. Eight. I had a
terrible time getting her to at least open her eyes when she took a swing at the ball. I
improved her game immensely, though. I'm a very good golfer. If I told you what I go
around in, you probably wouldn't believe me. I almost was once in a movie short, but I
changed my mind at the last minute. I figured that anybody that hates the movies as much
as I do, I'd be a phony if I let them stick me in a movie short.
She was a funny girl, old Jane. I wouldn't exactly describe her as strictly beautiful.
She knocked me out, though. She was sort of muckle-mouthed. I mean when she was
talking and she got excited about something, her mouth sort of went in about fifty
directions, her lips and all. That killed me. And she never really closed it all the way, her
mouth. It was always just a little bit open, especially when she got in her golf stance, or
when she was reading a book. She was always reading, and she read very good books.
She read a lot of poetry and all. She was the only one, outside my family, that I ever
showed Allie's baseball mitt to, with all the poems written on it. She'd never met Allie or
anything, because that was her first summer in Maine--before that, she went to Cape Cod-
-but I told her quite a lot about him. She was interested in that kind of stuff.
My mother didn't like her too much. I mean my mother always thought Jane and
her mother were sort of snubbing her or something when they didn't say hello. My
mother saw them in the village a lot, because Jane used to drive to market with her
mother in this LaSalle convertible they had. My mother didn't think Jane was pretty,
even. I did, though. I just liked the way she looked, that's all.
I remember this one afternoon. It was the only time old Jane and I ever got close
to necking, even. It was a Saturday and it was raining like a bastard out, and I was over at
her house, on the porch--they had this big screened-in porch. We were playing checkers. I
used to kid her once in a while because she wouldn't take her kings out of the back row.
But I didn't kid her much, though. You never wanted to kid Jane too much. I think I really
like it best when you can kid the pants off a girl when the opportunity arises, but it's a
funny thing. The girls I like best are the ones I never feel much like kidding. Sometimes I
think they'd like it if you kidded them--in fact, I know they would--but it's hard to get
started, once you've known them a pretty long time and never kidded them. Anyway, I
was telling you about that afternoon Jane and I came close to necking. It was raining like
hell and we were out on her porch, and all of a sudden this booze hound her mother was
married to came out on the porch and asked Jane if there were any cigarettes in the house.
I didn't know him too well or anything, but he looked like the kind of guy that wouldn't
talk to you much unless he wanted something off you. He had a lousy personality.
Anyway, old Jane wouldn't answer him when he asked her if she knew where there was
any cigarettes. So the guy asked her again, but she still wouldn't answer him. She didn't
even look up from the game. Finally the guy went inside the house. When he did, I asked
Jane what the hell was going on. She wouldn't even answer me, then. She made out like
she was concentrating on her next move in the game and all. Then all of a sudden, this
tear plopped down on the checkerboard. On one of the red squares--boy, I can still see it.
She just rubbed it into the board with her finger. I don't know why, but it bothered hell
out of me. So what I did was, I went over and made her move over on the glider so that I
could sit down next to her--I practically sat down in her lap, as a matter of fact. Then she
really started to cry, and the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over--anywhere--her
eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears--her whole face except her
mouth and all. She sort of wouldn't let me get to her mouth. Anyway, it was the closest
we ever got to necking. After a while, she got up and went in and put on this red and
white sweater she had, that knocked me out, and we went to a goddam movie. I asked
her, on the way, if Mr. Cudahy--that was the booze hound's name--had ever tried to get
wise with her. She was pretty young, but she had this terrific figure, and I wouldn't've put
it past that Cudahy bastard. She said no, though. I never did find out what the hell was the
matter. Some girls you practically never find out what's the matter.
I don't want you to get the idea she was a goddam icicle or something, just
because we never necked or horsed around much. She wasn't. I held hands with her all
the time, for instance. That doesn't sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold
hands with. Most girls if you hold hands with them, their goddam hand dies on you, or
else they think they have to keep moving their hand all the time, as if they were afraid
they'd bore you or something. Jane was different. We'd get into a goddam movie or
something, and right away we'd start holding hands, and we wouldn't quit till the movie
was over. And without changing the position or making a big deal out of it. You never
even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you
were happy. You really were.
One other thing I just thought of. One time, in this movie, Jane did something that
just about knocked me out. The newsreel was on or something, and all of a sudden I felt
this hand on the back of my neck, and it was Jane's. It was a funny thing to do. I mean
she was quite young and all, and most girls if you see them putting their hand on the back
of somebody's neck, they're around twenty-five or thirty and usually they're doing it to
their husband or their little kid--I do it to my kid sister Phoebe once in a while, for
instance. But if a girl's quite young and all and she does it, it's so pretty it just about kills
Anyway, that's what I was thinking about while I sat in that vomity-looking chair
in the lobby. Old Jane. Every time I got to the part about her out with Stradlater in that
damn Ed Banky's car, it almost drove me crazy. I knew she wouldn't let him get to first
base with her, but it drove me crazy anyway. I don't even like to talk about it, if you want
to know the truth.
There was hardly anybody in the lobby any more. Even all the whory-looking
blondes weren't around any more, and all of a sudden I felt like getting the hell out of the
place. It was too depressing. And I wasn't tired or anything. So I went up to my room and
put on my coat. I also took a look out the window to see if all the perverts were still in
action, but the lights and all were out now. I went down in the elevator again and got a
cab and told the driver to take me down to Ernie's. Ernie's is this night club in Greenwich
Village that my brother D.B. used to go to quite frequently before he went out to
Hollywood and prostituted himself. He used to take me with him once in a while. Ernie's
a big fat colored guy that plays the piano. He's a terrific snob and he won't hardly even
talk to you unless you're a big shot or a celebrity or something, but he can really play the
piano. He's so good he's almost corny, in fact. I don't exactly know what I mean by that,
but I mean it. I certainly like to hear him play, but sometimes you feel like turning his
goddam piano over. I think it's because sometimes when he plays, he sounds like the kind
of guy that won't talk to you unless you're a big shot.