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HOME > Classical Novels > The Catcher In The Rye > Chapter 20
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Chapter 20

I kept sitting there getting drunk and waiting for old Tina and Janine to come out and do their stuff, but they weren't there. A flitty-looking guy with wavy hair came out and played the piano, and then this new babe, Valencia, came out and sang. She wasn't any good, but she was better than old Tina and Janine, and at least she sang good songs. The piano was right next to the bar where I was sitting and all, and old Valencia was standing practically right next to me. I sort of gave her the old eye, but she pretended she didn't even see me. I probably wouldn't have done it, but I was getting drunk as hell. When she was finished, she beat it out of the room so fast I didn't even get a chance to invite her to join me for a drink, so I called the headwaiter over. I told him to ask old Valencia if she'd care to join me for a drink. He said he would, but he probably didn't even give her my message. People never give your message to anybody.

Boy, I sat at that goddam bar till around one o'clock or so, getting drunk as a bastard. I could hardly see straight. The one thing I did, though, I was careful as hell not to get boisterous or anything. I didn't want anybody to notice me or anything or ask how old I was. But, boy, I could hardly see straight. When I was really drunk, I started that stupid business with the bullet in my guts again. I was the only guy at the bar with a bullet in their guts. I kept putting my hand under my jacket, on my stomach and all, to keep the blood from dripping all over the place. I didn't want anybody to know I was even wounded. I was concealing the fact that I was a wounded sonuvabitch. Finally what I felt like, I felt like giving old Jane a buzz and see if she was home yet. So I paid my check and all. Then I left the bar and went out where the telephones were. I kept keeping my hand under my jacket to keep the blood from dripping. Boy, was I drunk.

But when I got inside this phone booth, I wasn't much in the mood any more to give old Jane a buzz. I was too drunk, I guess. So what I did, I gave old Sally Hayes a buzz.

I had to dial about twenty numbers before I got the right one. Boy, was I blind.

"Hello," I said when somebody answered the goddam phone. I sort of yelled it, I was so drunk.

"Who is this?" this very cold lady's voice said.

"This is me. Holden Caulfield. Lemme speaka Sally, please."

"Sally's asleep. This is Sally's grandmother. Why are you calling at this hour, Holden? Do you know what time it is?"

"Yeah. Wanna talka Sally. Very important. Put her on."

"Sally's asleep, young man. Call her tomorrow. Good night."

"Wake 'er up! Wake 'er up, hey. Attaboy."

Then there was a different voice. "Holden, this is me." It was old Sally. "What's the big idea?"

"Sally? That you?"

"Yes--stop screaming. Are you drunk?"

"Yeah. Listen. Listen, hey. I'll come over Christmas Eve. Okay? Trimma goddarn tree for ya. Okay? Okay, hey, Sally?"

"Yes. You're drunk. Go to bed now. Where are you? Who's with you?"

"Sally? I'll come over and trimma tree for ya, okay? Okay, hey?"

"Yes. Go to bed now. Where are you? Who's with you?"

"Nobody. Me, myself and I." Boy was I drunk! I was even still holding onto my guts. "They got me. Rocky's mob got me. You know that? Sally, you know that?"

"I can't hear you. Go to bed now. I have to go. Call me tomorrow."

"Hey, Sally! You want me trimma tree for ya? Ya want me to? Huh?"

"Yes. Good night. Go home and go to bed."

She hung up on me.

"G'night. G'night, Sally baby. Sally sweetheart darling," I said. Can you imagine how drunk I was? I hung up too, then. I figured she probably just came home from a date. I pictured her out with the Lunts and all somewhere, and that Andover jerk. All of them swimming around in a goddam pot of tea and saying sophisticated stuff to each other and being charming and phony. I wished to God I hadn't even phoned her. When I'm drunk, I'm a madman.

I stayed in the damn phone booth for quite a while. I kept holding onto the phone, sort of, so I wouldn't pass out. I wasn't feeling too marvelous, to tell you the truth. Finally, though, I came out and went in the men's room, staggering around like a moron, and filled one of the washbowls with cold water. Then I dunked my head in it, right up to the ears. I didn't even bother to dry it or anything. I just let the sonuvabitch drip. Then I walked over to this radiator by the window and sat down on it. It was nice and warm. It felt good because I was shivering like a bastard. It's a funny thing, I always shiver like hell when I'm drunk.

I didn't have anything else to do, so I kept sitting on the radiator and counting these little white squares on the floor. I was getting soaked. About a gallon of water was dripping down my neck, getting all over my collar and tie and all, but I didn't give a damn. I was too drunk to give a damn. Then, pretty soon, the guy that played the piano for old Valencia, this very wavyhaired, flitty-looking guy, came in to comb his golden locks. We sort of struck up a conversation while he was combing it, except that he wasn't too goddam friendly.

"Hey. You gonna see that Valencia babe when you go back in the bar?" I asked him.

"It's highly probable," he said. Witty bastard. All I ever meet is witty bastards.

"Listen. Give her my compliments. Ask her if that goddam waiter gave her my message, willya?"

"Why don't you go home, Mac? How old are you, anyway?"

"Eighty-six. Listen. Give her my compliments. Okay?"

"Why don't you go home, Mac?"

"Not me. Boy, you can play that goddam piano." I told him. I was just flattering him. He played the piano stinking, if you want to know the truth. "You oughta go on the radio," I said. "Handsome chap like you. All those goddam golden locks. Ya need a manager?"

"Go home, Mac, like a good guy. Go home and hit the sack."

"No home to go to. No kidding--you need a manager?"

He didn't answer me. He just went out. He was all through combing his hair and patting it and all, so he left. Like Stradlater. All these handsome guys are the same. When they're done combing their goddam hair, they beat it on you.

When I finally got down off the radiator and went out to the hat-check room, I was crying and all. I don't know why, but I was. I guess it was because I was feeling so damn depressed and lonesome. Then, when I went out to the checkroom, I couldn't find my goddam check. The hat-check girl was very nice about it, though. She gave me my coat anyway. And my "Little Shirley Beans" record--I still had it with me and all. I gave her a buck for being so nice, but she wouldn't take it. She kept telling me to go home and go to bed. I sort of tried t............

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