FICTION

Behaviorism for Three

Psychology says that the loser can be the winner—>if he’s smart at the right time

MURRAY HOYT October 1 1937
FICTION

Behaviorism for Three

Psychology says that the loser can be the winner—>if he’s smart at the right time

MURRAY HOYT October 1 1937

Behaviorism for Three

Psychology says that the loser can be the winner—>if he’s smart at the right time

MURRAY HOYT

ANDY FREEMAN drove up to the Lodge just a few minutes before dinner, and Judy introduced him to all of us. When she came to Jim Laird, Andy stuck out his hand and Jim took it. I knew what was coming. Jim has a grip like a stone crusher. A pained look flashed across Andy’s face and then was gone. But I knew the war w'as on. You couldn’t tell whether Judy had noticed or not. For

You couldn’t tell whether Judy had noticed or not. For that matter, you couldn’t tell from her manner whether Andy was her dearest friend or an installment collector come to take out the piano. It w'as always that way when she invited a boy to the Lodge, which she did once or tw-ice every summer. From the time he. got there till the time he left, nobody could tell, least of all the boy himself, whether she liked him. just suffered, or maybe actually hated him.

Not that her face is wooden. I don’t mean that. She’s beautiful and vivacious, and her smile has been know'll to turn strong men into masses of jelly. It’s simply that w'hen she doesn’t wrant anyone to know' what’s going on inside her golden, tousled head, they don’t know, that’s all. They can’t even guess. Poker-face Judy.

This Dr. Andy Freeman w'as different from the others Judy had invited there. He was a little older, though still very' young to be a really great authority on social psychology' and head of a department in a large university like Northern. He didn’t try to disguise the fact that he’d been completely bowled over by Judy, either. You knew', without his saying a word, that he was there to sell a bill of goods and that he himself was the bill of goods.

Not that the others hadn’t been in love with Judy. They’d mooned around after her, and sulked in the approved fashion when they didn’t get anywhere. It was only that you felt as if all of them had been in love before and would be again. In Andy Freeman’s case you felt as if this was his first love affair, and that, win, lose or draw, it would be his last.

Probably Andy Freeman didn’t know about Jim Laird until he got to the Lodge, because Judy never talked about herself or her boy friends. Jim’s first date with Judy had been in a sandpile when they w'ere twfo years old. And he had been dating her ever since. All of us in the family thought she’d marry him w'hen she finally settled down. Naturally Jim didn’t take kindly to Dr. Andrew Freeman. He never took kindly to any young man who showed an interest in Judy. Jim was big and athletic; there was nothing subtle about him. If anybody stood in his way, he got rid of that person, often with spectacular results.

Personally I liked Andy Freeman right from the start. He was quiet, good-humored and treated you with deference. Certainly he didn’t look like my comic-strip idea of a psychology professor. He was almost as big as Jim, and he w'as good-looking in a pleasing masculine way. When I had a chance to study him, I w'as pretty sure I had seen him before. That wasn’t particularly strange, since I had driven out to Northern with Uncle Bob—Judy’s father— several times to visit Judy.

WE TALKED for a few' minutes and then dinner was announced. We trooped in to find that Andy had been placed beside Judy, with Jim directly across the table.

I had misgivings, but everything w'as fine for the first few minutes. Then Jim said: “I understand, Dr. Freeman, that your subject is psychology.”

Andy admitted that his subject was psychology.

“Well, I took that course,” Jim said, “and it never did anything for me. The introverted or maladjusted person —kinaesthetic judgment—empathy. Where does that

stuff get you?”

Around the table everything w-as all of a sudden dead still, and somebody dropped a fork on a plate with a small clatter. I w'asn’t the one, because I’d been looking for something exactly like that to happen. Jim is a pleasant guy and good company w'hen he isn’t jealous. But when he’s jealous, he’s rude and boorish and generally unfit for

Others had been in love with Judy. They'd mooned around and sulked when they didn't get anywhere.

civilized company. I tried to laugh him out of it—my usual desire to relieve the tension.

1 said: “Empathy has been mentioned in song writing, Jim. You know, ‘Empathy Thaddles in the Old Corral’.”

Nobody laughed. There were a few snickers. It fell flat.

Jim said, pugnaciously: “In other words, there isn’t any sensible answer.”

There were mutterings of disgust from several of us. Janice, Judy’s sister, said: “Try not to be yourself, will you, Jim?” Even Uncle Bob looked uncomfortable, though usually a pal of Judy’s can do no wrong.

There were only two people you couldn’t read. Judy could have been thinking about a grocery order for all the emotion she showed. Andy continued to smile a friendly smile. I thought that his face was a little redder, and that lumps had appeared on each cheek as if he were pressing his teeth together hard. But I’ll admit I couldn’t tell for sure.

“Well,” he said, and I remember wondering why he bothered to keep his voice polite in the face of Jim’s crudeness, “of course you may be right. But since psy-

chology is a science dealing with man’s behavior, a person who understands it can often influence other people’s actions—can get what he is after more easily.”

Don Palmer, Janice’s boy friend, «said:

“Fair enough. Now lay off, will you, Jim?”

Which should have been hint enough for anybody. But Jim has a hide which would fill an alligator with envy. He looked straight at Andy, and at that moment, so far as the two of them were concerned, the rest of us just weren’t around.

“Well,” he said, “I always get what I want, see? And I don’t need any psychological principles to help me, either.”

Andy shrugged.

“I never contended that force wasn’t an effective weapon,” he said, still smiling. “I simply feel that force does occasionally fail.

And when it does, the person who brings about its defeat is generally a man with a knowledge of behavior fundamentals.”

So there it was, handed right back a little more subtly but just as strong. And the cause of it all sat there, complete with poker face, and forced me to wrench the conversation back into safer channels.

rT'HAT WAS the beginning of what would have been a beautiful three-dav feud if Andy’s feelings had been as obvious as Jim’s.

But you can’t have a first-class reinforced feud when one of the parties takes everything with a smile and never loses his temper.

To begin with, the gang of us played tennis the next morning, Judy and Andy against Janice and Jim. Andy wasn’t much of a tennis player. Whenever there was an opportunity for a kill, Jim disdained placements and slugged the ball directly at his adversary. It made Andy look silly.

Too. Jim was in perfect physical condition and Andy wasn’t. Every time anybody suggested quitting, Jim argued loudly for at least one more set. Judy, who is pretty clever with a racket, was working hard for points only to have Andy lose them, and I wondered how she liked that. You couldn’t tell, though. You could never tell with Judy.

Andy’s movements grew gradually slower and slower until they were painful to watch.

I kept saying over and over to myself, “Why doesn’t he quit? He’s half dead. Why doesn’t he excuse himself and quit? Can’t he see he’s just playing into Jim’s hands by trying to keep on?”

But all the time I kept wondering if perhaps he didn’t know what he was doing, if perhaps there wasn’t just as much behind his actions as there obviously was behind Jim’s.

Luncheon revived Andy to some extent, but he was still a bit pale around the gills.

You can’t get right up out of the Chair of Psychology and follow the gang at the Lodge for a morning without looking like the loser of a marathon run.

Jim didn’t let things slow down, either. Some more of Janice’s admirers had come over, and two or three couples from the end of the lake. Altogether we had quite a crowd. When you got them all out on the terrace after lunch, it looked like one of those summer movie scenes where they don’t care how many extras they use. The Lodge is likely to be that way during the summer.

We played nine innings of softball that afternoon, and on top of everything we’d done in the morning, that was equivalent to twenty-seven innings at any other time. At least I judged Andy thought so. But again there was no reason for his playing the whole game. There was no reason why he should have helped Jim’s plan along unless it was part of some plan of his own.

He must have been all in, because he was very quiet at dinner. He went to bed early that night. He went to bed with the air of a person whose only hope is that he can get some of his outer clothing off before he falls asleep.

After an hour or so the rest of us went upstairs, all except Jim who said he’d read a while; he didn’t feel sleepy. Not much, he didn’t. Less than five minutes later he tiptoed into his room, while I grinned to myself and planned to give him away in front of the others later.

But it was his round, with Andy groggy at the bell.

JIM GOT US all up early the next morning to go trout fishing. It was so obvious that he was only trying to follow up his advantage that I wondered if Judy might not intercede. But she either did not realize what was happening, which was very doubtful, or she did not feel called upon to take sides, which wras a bad sign from Andy’s point of view.

And in the afternoon we played golf. If I'd been Andy I wouldn’t have played. But he smiled and said he was game for anything the rest were. I went along with them, not because I wanted to play golf but because Andy had me buffaloed and I’d have given my epiglottis to know exactly what he was up to.

Jim and Judy usually walk the course at the carefree, leisurely pace of a racehorse in the stretch, and that day, trying to tire Andy, Jim tore along faster than ever. They played twenty-seven holes. I only played eighteen. I’m no glutton. But I met them and walked the ninth with them on their second round. Jim, as usual, had won. And Andy’s tongue was hanging out so far he could have stepped on it. But, watching Judy, I had to admit I couldn’t tell how she felt about either Andy’s performance or Jim’s.

That evening we played bridge. And at bedtime I again judged it was Jim’s round, with Andy hanging on doggedly at the bell.

The next morning Jim brought out another nice number. He wanted to climb Bald Mountain, and no other program for the day interested him at all. Andy wanted nothing to do with any mountain, bald or otherwise.

So we climbed Bald Mountain. While Andy was probably very good at getting over a bit of subjective idealism or solipsism, he wasn’t so good at getting over a mountain. Or, to be more accurate, he ran into tough luck, most of which, I suspected, was engineered by Jim.

He was stung a few times by hornets, but whether Jim threw a stick at the nest just after Andy had walked past or whether the nest just dropped, we’ll never know for sure. Anyway, Andy, being one of those city gentlemen to whom hornet technique is a closed book, yelled and waved his arms and ran. This brought him nicely to the attention of

the little home defenders, with spectacular results. He turned his ankle on a loose stone while he was running—not a real sprain, but enough to be uncomfortable.

Then there was the matter of black flies and deer flies. Jim hadn’t provided them, but he had, of course, known they would be there when he planned the expedition. A black fly confines himself to a simple sting. But a deer fly picks a spot to his liking, eats in a circle, and then lifts out the core. This process is painful.

And some people swell up when bitten by either of these insects. Other people don’t. Jim didn’t. Andy did. Here again the results were spectacular and a bit lumpy.

When I saw that Andy was going to swell up I knew that it was the beginning of the end for him. It’s almost impossible for a man to keep his romantic glamor when his face kx)ks like a surrealist drawing of a tomato.

We ate lunch at the top of the mountain. Andy never said anything but it was easy to tell from the gingerly way he sat down and got up that two days of unusual athletic activity had made his muscles so still and sore that movement was torture.

After lunch we started back down again. And in case you’re not a mountain climber, maybe I’d better explain that going down looks easy but brings into play a set of muscles which you had no idea were there, and which you would be glad to trade for a wheel chair with hydraulic brakes.

I caught Judy looking back at Andy several timeshe was lagging pretty badly —and wondered what was behind the poker lace then. I thought I had a pretty good idea, because Judy is a swell mountain climber.

But Andy never gave up. His grin became lopsided but stayed a grin. He tried to be cheerful and he did his best to hide the agonyin his muscles. He even offered to carry' Helen’s pack for her on the way down when he could hardly manage his own.

Back at the house he tried to run up the front steps, I suppose to show that he was still fresh. But he tripped on the top one and saved himself by grabbing me. You couldn’t help feeling that he was making a swell light of it.

When the others had gone into the lounge room. I said: “You’d better get a hot bath. It will take some of the soreness out of your body.”

He said. “Thanks,” and started for upstairs. I turned away and then turned back again. And realized suddenly that he thought I had gone and that he was alone. He was holding the rail, pulling himself up, one awful step at a time.

For some reason I wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea to bounce something fragile like a footstool off Jim’s head.

It turned out that Jim had one more idea in mind, and he decided that the time was ripe for it that night. Occasionally we’ve done some boxing at the Lodge during the evenings, and there are gloves down in the game room.

I fought against it. I remembered too clearly how Andy had looked climbing those stairs. But some of the gang who were there for the first time that evening thought it was a swell idea. Just a few friendly matches. I knew better. But when Andy himself fell in with the plan, there wasn’t much left for me to do but shut up and go along to be in on the kill.

I KNEW for sure, then, that there was something back of the way Andy was acting. Otherwise he’d never have gone to that game room feeling the way he did and knowing that Jim would force him to fight. He’d have refused flatly to go. After all, a hot bath can’t perform miracles with sore muscles.

Don and a boy from the other side of the lake wore themselves out swinging their arms during the first match, without doing much damage. Then I suggested, in a last effort to help Andy, that he and I put on the gloves.

“Not on your life,” Jim said. “He’s too big for you, Phil. Professor Freeman and I will box a few rounds and see if we can hand each other some cutaneous sensations, as he would put it. Are you game, professor?”

And all the while Judy just sat there and looked interested, just as if we weren’t about to see murder done.

They picked me for referee, and a more biased official it would have been hard to find. Then they got the heavy gloves on. Andy continued to smile politely and talk with Don, who was to be his second.

And all the while I kept saying over and over to myself, Continued on page 30

Continued from page 13—Starts on page 12

“If only he can take care of himself. If only lie can lick that thug. Please, please, let this guy be a fighter.”

Everything moved on inexorably; like some huge machine that you’re powerless either to stop or to hurry. The lacings were tied. Then the two came over to me in the centre of the mat. The timer nodded to me to show that he was ready. They went back to their corners and the timer socked the dinner bell which we were using for a gong.

That sap Andy didn’t hang back and defend himself the way he should have. He went into the thing with the simple idea of socking Jim as many times as he could. And when I say simple, I mean simple. Not that I blamed him. But going in against a boxer of even average ability and doing a windmill act is not the way to get even for past wrongs. It’s a sure way to have a few future wrongs thrust upon you.

At that, Andy did hit Jim. A couple of haymakers landed on the side of Jim’s head, rocked him back on his heels, destroyed his grin and brought the cold hard look to his eyes that I’d seen there before. I knew what that meant. He was sore clear through, and I pitied Andy.

But Andy kept swinging from somewhere down around his chilblains. Jim lashed out from his crouch, caught him on the side of the head and knocked him halfway across the mat. Don't think those heavy gloves can't jar you all over, because they can.

Andy shook his head and plowed right back, swinging both arms at any part of Jim which looked promising. Jim covered, then lashed out again. That time Andy went down. Pie didn’t stay down. He didn’t stay down even for the count of one. He got up, shook his head, and came right back in again.

Jim didn’t hummatters. He knew he had Andy coming in. and he just held him off with a straight left and waited for an open shot at his jaw. Andy’s wild swings were so futile and Jim was so cold-blooded that it gave you a peculiar feeling at the back of your neck. I’ve seen a cat playing with a crippled chipmunk and it gave me that same feeling.

Then came the opening. Jim swung his right and landed flush. Andy dropped to

the mat on his hands and knees. He shook his head once, and then got up a little unsteadily but with his grin still there. There was blood coming from a cut on his chin. He wiped at it automatically with his glove, as if the sweat in it stung him.

Then he came in again, swinging.

Again Jim held him off, played with him and then landed. The blow struck high on Andy’s face and blood spattered from his nose. He went down on his back that time. It wasn’t pleasant to watch.

T-TE GOT UP and came in swinging again. And again Jim knocked him down. When he got up that time his lip was cut and swollen. I looked over at Judy and she was watching, her hands folded in her lap and no slightest trace of emotion or feeling on her face. I came the closest to hating Judy in that split second that I ever came.

Andy landed then, one glancing, pitiful blow. Then Jim crashed his right home again. That time you knew Andy wouldn’t get up inside any count of ten. He was out.

I began to count. I got to six—seven— eight—-, And the timer hit the bell for the end of the round.

Don worked on Andy in their corner. But I didn’t want him to come around in time for the second. It was awful. It was crazy.

I could see he’d be able to answer the bell, though, and that he intended to keep on. I didn’t know what he was trying to do. I didn’t know what was in back of this. I didn’t care. I knew he was being hurt. I didn’t want to see him beaten up any more. It did something to me. It made me want to jump into the thing on Andy’s side.

One of the guys from the south end of the lake whispered to me: “Phil, make

him quit, will you? We can’t let that big bully go on with this.”

Jim sat there in his corner, smirking and looking complacent. Some of the guys were telling him what they thought about it, everybody disgusted, sore. I went over to Andy, and Don whispered to me to stop the bout.

I asked Andy if he didn’t think he’d had enough and he said no, he’d get to Jim the next round.

I turned away then, hesitating, not knowing what I ought to do. The man who had spoken to me first walked in on the mat with a couple of other fellows.

“Listen,” he said, “if you aren’t going to stop this, we are. I don’t mind a fight, but this guy is being beaten up. Give us those gloves. We’re going to put on another bout.”

I turned, and Andy was up beside me.

“I want to go on,” he said, and he was almost begging. “Don’t spoil it. I can lick him. Please, Phil, make ’em clear the mat and keep out of this.”

TT WASN’T so much what he said as the

way he said it. The others hesitated, almost believing him in the face of what they had already seen.

“Please, Phil,” he said.

I still iidn’t know what it was all about. But when he begged like that. I couldn’t do anything but go along with him. I cleared the mat and the timer hit the bell.

They came out again. Andy didn’t change his tactics a bit. He had courage in chunks, and for a second I had a wild hope that he might really do something.

But he came to Jim and was promptly knocked flat. His nose started to bleed again and one eye was closed. He grinned as he got up and by his manner apologized for the poor showing he was making— assured us all that he would try harder.

A real fighter would have put Andy away long before that. He was wide open. An old lady on crutches could have shot blows in there.

Andy went down again and I counted to eight before he got his knees under him. He tottered to his feet in time, though, and then darned if the sap didn’t get Jim’s direction through the one eye that he could still use a little and start forward again.

I jumped in to stop the fight then.

But I was too late. Jim nailed Andy flush on the chin and put him away as neat as a winter suit in mothballs. I didn’t even count.

Don and I were bending over Andy when I heard a noise behind me and jerked around. There was Judy, pokerfaced no longer, and actual tears in her eyes. She was just landing a slap on Jim’s face. It was harder than any blow Andy had struck all evening, and it wasn’t her fault she didn’t land more slaps. She tried hard enough.

As for Jim, he wasn’t looking complacent any more. He looked bewildered and he was trying to cover up and explain to Judy while he backed away from her.

Just then Don reached out a foot and tripped him, beating me to it by a split second. Then Judy was kneeling beside Andy and had his head in her lap, saying disjointed things which I doubted if she had ever said to any man before, wiping the blood off with her handkerchief, stroking his forehead and snapping at us to do something, couldn’t we?

Just about then he came to and she reached down and kissed him. And, brother, there was no doubt she meant business when she did that. It was one of those kisses. Andy looked as if he wasn’t sure whether he had come around yet or not.

We got him upstairs and swabbed him off and made him look only about half as dead as he had looked before. Understand, he wasn’t any Robert Taylor yet. But I actually think the licking he had taken had improved the appearance of the blackfly and deer-fly bites.

He and Judy talked very low for a moment, but I caught something that sounded like “pavilion” and “lake.” Which was about all the hint anybody needed. Then she went upstairs to get a sweater.

As she left the room I grinned to myself. I was thinking of the things Jim had said about psychology that first night of Andy’s stay.

You see, I knew now that Jim couldn’t have laid a glove on Andy if Andy hadn’t wanted him to.

I knew because, watching Andy in the ring, I had finally realized why he had looked so familiar to me. I had seen him five years before, the night he wan the light heavyweight title in the Olympic tryouts.