THE WORLD OF DUDDY KRAVITZ
Fighting his way up from the slums of northern Montreal a new and major character steps jauntily into the Canadian scene in this new story by Montreal’s brilliant young novelist
He walked up to Eddy’s Cigar & Soda, across the street from the Triangle Taxi Stand, and there he found his father drinking coffee with some of the other men. Josette was there, too.
“Duddy,” Max said gruffly. “I thought you’d be home in bed by this time.” Turning to the others with a wide smile, he added, “You all know my kid.”
“That’s Lennie?” Drapeau asked.
Max laughed expansively. “Ixnay. He’s not gonna be a sawbones. Duddy's a dope like me. Aren’t you. kid?" He rumpled the boy’s snowcaked hair. “Lennie’s twenty-three. He’s had scholarships all through school.”
A big man. burly and balding, with soft brown eyes and an adorable smile, Max Kravit/. was inordinately proud of the fact that he had, several years ago. been dubbed Max The Hack in Mel West’s What’s What, Moey Weinstein's column in the Montreal Telegram, and that, as a consequence, he (along with West’s most puerile Yid dish-isms) had gone by that name ever since. Max was said to be on first-name terms with Jerry Dingleman, The Boy Wonder, and—as Mel West would have put it—a host of others.
Max, in fact, delighted in telling tales about the legendary Boy Wonder. His favorite, a story that Duddy had heard over and over again, was the
Con! in iwd o ver lea!
“He needed a stake didn’t he?
And he couldn’t lose —so Linda said ”
one about the streetcar transfer. Max loved to tell this talc, one he believed to be beautiful, to newcomers; and earlier that evening he had repeated it to MacDonald. Not just like that, mind you, because before he could begin Max required the right atmosphere. His customary chair next to the Coke freezer, a hot coffee with a supply of sugar cubes ready by his side, and a supporting body of old friends. Then, speaking slowly and evenly, he would begin, letting the story develop on its own, never allowing an interruption to nonplus him and not raising his voice until Baltimore.
“He was broke,” Max began, “and he hadn’t even made his name yet. He was just another bum at the time.”
“And what is he now? The gangster.”
“I’m warning you, MacDonald, if the Boy Wonder knocked off his mother Max here is the guy who would find an excuse for him.”
“I mean you could say that,” Max continued. “We’re like this, you know, and I’d say it to his face even. The Boy Wonder was just another bum at the time. Funny, isn’t it? I mean his phone bill alone last year must have come to twenty Gs (he’s got lines open to all the tracks and ball parks all day long, you know), but only ten years ago he would have had to sweat blood before he coulda raised a lousy fin.”
“How that ganiff manages to keep out of jail beats me.”
“It’s simple,” Debrofsky said, “the whole police force is on his payroll.”
Max waited. He sucked a sugar cube. “Anyway, he’s broke, like 1 said. So he walks up to the corner of Park and St. Joseph and hangs around the streetcar stop for a couple of hours, and do you know what?”
“He trips over a hundred-dollar bill and breaks his leg.”
“He’s pulled in for milking pay phones. Or stealing milk bottles, maybe.”
“All that time,” Max said, “he's collecting streetcar transfers off the street and selling them, see. Nerve? Nerve. At three cents apiece he’s up a quarter in two hours, and then what? He walks right in that door, MacDonald, right past where you're standing, and into the back room. There, with only a quarter in his pocket, he sits in on the rummy game. Win? He’s worked his stake up to ten bucks in no time. And what does he do next?” “Buy a gun and shoot himself.”
“I got it. He donates the ten spot to the Jewish National Fund.”
Max smiled indulgently. He blew on his coffee. “Around the corner he goes to Moe’s barbershop and plunk goes the whole ten spot on a filly named Miss Sparks running in the fifth at Belmont. On the nose, but. And you guessed it, MacDonald, Miss Sparks comes in and pays eleven to one. The Boy Wonder picks up his loot and goes to find himself a barbotte game. Now you or me, MacDonald, we’d take that hundred and ten fish and buy ourselves a hat, or a present for the wife may-
be, and consider ourselves lucky. We mere mortals we’d right away put some of it in the bank. Right? Right. But not the Boy Wonder. No Sir.”
Max dropped a sugar cube onto his tongue and took some time sucking the goodness out of it.
“Picture him, MacDonald, a twenty-nine-yearold boy from St. Urbain Street and he’s not even made his name yet. All night he spends with those low-lifes, men who would slit their mother’s throat for a lousy nickel. Gangsters. Graduates of Saint Vincent de Paul. Anti-Semites, the lot. If he loses, okay, but if he wins—If he wins, MacDonald? Will they let that little St. Urbain Street punk, Jerry Dingleman, leave with all their money? He’s up and he’s down, and when he’s up a lot of the looks he gets around the table are not so nice.” Max cleared his throat. “Another coffee, please, Eddy.”
But Eddy has already poured it. For, at this point in the transfer story, Max always ordered coffee.
“Imagine him, MacDonald. It’s morning. Dawn, I mean, like at the end of a film. The city is awakening. Little tots in their continued on page 37
continued on page 37
The world of Duddy Kravitz continued from page 21
“Tara-boom, tara-boom, tara-boom-boom-boom! And they wheeled out of Fletcher’s Field”
little beds are dreaming pretty little dreams. Workmen are getting out of bed. The exercise boys are taking the horses out. Somewhere, in the Jewish General Hospital let’s say, a baby is born. Morning, MacDonald, another day. And the Boy Wonder, his eyes ringed with black circles, steps out into God's sunlight and in his pocket, MacDonald, is almost one thousand do-is-ollcrs—and I should drop down dead if a word of this isn’t true.
“But wait. That’s not all. This is only the beginning. Because the Boy Wonder does not go home to sleep. No, sir. That morning he takes the train to Baltimore, see, and that’s a tough horse town, you know, and they never heard of the Boy Wonder yet. He’s only a St. Urbain Street boy, you know. I mean he wasn’t born very far from where / live. Anyway, for six weeks there is no word. Rien. Not a postcard even. Imagine, MacDonald, try to visualize it. Has some nigger killed him for his roll, God forbid. (There are lots of them in Baltimore, you know, and at night with those dim street lamps, you think you can even see them coming?) Is he a broken man, penniless again, wasting away in a hospital maybe? The public ward. Six weeks and not a word. Nothing. Expect the worst, I said to myself. Good-by, old friend. Au revoir, Good night, sweet prince, as they say, something something something.
“Then one day, MacDonald, one fine day, back into town he comes, only not by foot and not by train and not by plane. He's driving a car a block long and sitting beside him is the cutest little dame you ever saw. I mean just to look at that girl! And do you know what, MacDonald? He parks that bus right outside here and steps inside to have a smoked meat with the boys. By this time he owns his own stable already. So help me, MacDonald, in Baltimore he has eight horses running. Okay, today it would be peanuts for an operator his size, bu* a? the time, MacDonald, at the time. And from what? Streetcar transfers at three cents apiece. Streetcar transfers, that’s all. I mean can you beat that?”
WHENEVER he told that story Max’s face was suffused with such enthusiasm that the men. though they had heard it time and again, sure as they were that it would come out right in the end, unfailingly moved in closer, their fears and hopes riding with the Boy Wonder in Baltimore, who, as Max said, was only a St. Urbain Street boy.
But they were extremely fond of Max, anyway. He didn't push, he was always good for a fin. and though he never complained it had been hard for him since his wife had died.
Minnie had died eight years ago and that, Max figured, was why Duddy was such a puzzle. A headache, even. All he ever wanted to do was play snooker. Max, of course, was anxious for Duddy to get started in life. About Lennie he had no worries: not one.
“Awright, Duddy, since you’re here already, what'll you have?"
“A Scotch and soda.”
Max shook with laughter. “Some BTO my kid.”
"Okey-doke. Eddy, give my boy a Grepsi and a lean on rye. I'll have the same.” Max sat down beside Duddy at the counter. “Keep away from MacDon-
ald,” he said in a low voice. “He’s new here and I don’t like him.”
Duddy told his father about his latest fight with Mr. MacPherson, his teacher at Fletcher’s Field High School. "He said you weren’t fit to bring me up.”
"If your teacher said that he had a good reason. What did you say first?” “Do I always have to be in the wrong? Jeez. Why can’t you stick up for me? Just once why can’t you—”
“You’re a real trouble-maker, Duddy, that’s why. Lennie never once got the strap in four years at Fletcher’s.”
Lance-corporal Boxenbaum led with a bang bang bang on his big white drum and Litvak tripped Cohen, Pinsky blew on his bugle, and the Fletcher’s Field High School Cadets wheeled left, reet, left, reet, out of Fletcher’s Field, led by their commander-in-chief, that snappy five-footer, W. E. James (that’s “Jew” spelt backwards, as he told each new gym class). Left, reet, left, reet, pow'dery snow crunching underfoot, Ginsburg out of step once more, Hornstein unable to beat his drum right because of the tenon-each Mr. Coklwell had applied before the parade. Turning smartly right down Esplanade Avenue they were at once joined and embarrassed on either side by a following of younger brothers on sleighs, little sisters with running noses, and grinning delivery boys stopping to make snowballs.
“Hey, look out there. General Montgomery. here comes your mother to blow your nose.”
“Lefty! Hey, Lefty! Maw says you gotta come right home to sift the ashes after the parade. No playing pool she says. She’s afraid the pipes will burst.” Tara-boom, tara-boom, tara-BOOMBÖOM-BOOM. past the Jewish Old People’s Home where on the balcony above, bedecked with shawls and rugs, a stain of yellowing expressionless faces, women with little beards and men with sucked-in mouths, fussy nurses with thick
legs and grandfathers whose sons had little time, a shrunken little woman who had survived a pogrom and two husbands and three strokes, and two followers of Rabbi Brott the Miracle Maker, watched squinting against the fierce wintry sun. “Jewish children in uniform?”
“It’s not nice. For a Jewish boy a uniform is not so nice.”
Skinny, lumpy-faced Boxenbaum took it out on the big white drum and Mendelson hopped to get back into step. Arty Myers, the FFHS Cadet Corps quartermaster who sold dyed uniforms at eight dollars each, told Naturman the one about the rabbi and the priest and the bunch of grapes. “Fun-ny,” Naturman said.
Commander-in-chief W. E. James, straight as a ramrod, veteran of the Somme, a swagger stick held tightly in his hand, his royal-blue uniform pressed to a cutting edge and his brass buttons polished perfectly, felt a lump in his throat as the corps, bugles blowing, approached the red-brick armory of the Canadian Grenadier Guards. “Eyes . . . RIGHT,” he called, saluting stiffly.
Duddy Kravitz like the rest turned to salute the Union Jack and the pursuing gang of kid brothers and sisters took up the chant,
Here come the Fletcher’s Cadets,
the cigarettes are lousy
and so are the Fletcher’s Cadets.
Crunch, crunch, crunch-crunch-crunch, over the powdery snow, ears near frozen stiff, the FFHS Cadet Corps marched past the Jewish Library, where a poster announced,
Wednesday Night ON BEING A JEWISH POET IN MONTREAL WEST A Talk by H. I. Zimmerman, B.A.
and smack over the spot where in 1938 a car with a Michigan license plate had machine-gunned to death the Boy Wonder’s father. They stopped in front of the YMHA to mark time while the driver of a KIK KOLA truck that had slid into a No. 97 streetcar began to fight with the conductor.
“Hip, hip,” W. E. James called. “HIPHIP-HIP.”
A bunch of YMHA boys came out to watch. “Jeez. The Fletcher’s Cadets. Did you ever see such a bunch of turks in your life?”
“There’s Amie. Hey, Arnie! Where’s your gun? Wha’?”
Other boys called out:
“Boxenbaum. HEY! You’ll get a rupture if you carry that drum any further.” “Hip, Hip,” W. E. James called. “HIPHIP-HIP.”
Geiger blew on his bugle and Sivak goosed Kravitz. A snowball knocked off Sergeant Heller’s cap. Pinsky caught a frozen horse-bun on the cheek, and Mel Brucker lowered his eyes when they passed his father’s store. Monstrous icicles ran from the broken, second-floor windows of his home into the muck of stiff, burnt dry-goods and charred wood below. The fire had happened last night. Mel had expected it because that afternoon his father has said cheerfully, “You’re sleeping at grandmaw’s tonight,” and each time Mel and his brother were asked to sleep at grandmaw’s it meant another fire, another store.
“Hip. Hip. Hip, hip, hip.”
To the right Boxenbaum’s father and another picketcr walked up and down blowing on their hands before the NUOXFORD Shoe Factory, and to the left there was HARRY'S WAR ASSETS STORE with a sign outside that read,
IF YOU HAVEN’T GOT TIME TO DROP IN
—SMILE WHEN YOU WALK PAST.
Tara-boom, tara-boom, tara-BOOMBOOM-BOOM, past the Hollywood Barbershop where they removed blackheads for 50c, around the corner of Clark where Charna Felder lived, the FFHS Cadet Corps came crunch - crunch -crunch. Tansky started on his drum, Rubin dropped an icicle down Mort Heimer’s back, and the cadets wheeled left, reet, left, reet, into St. Urbain Street. A gathering of old grads and slackers stepped out of the Laurier Billiard Hall, attracted by the martial music.
“Here come the Jewish commandos.” “Hey, sir. Mr. James! Is it true you were a pastry cook in the first war?”
“We hear you were wounded grating lathes.”
“There’s Stanley. Hey, Stan! Jeez, he’s an officer or something. STAN! It’s okay about Friday night but Rita says Irv’s too short for her. Can you bring Syd instead? Stan! STAN?”
Over the intersection where Gordie Wiser had burnt the Union Jack after many others had trampled and spit on it the day Ernest Bevin announced his Palestine policy, past the house where the Boy Wonder had been born, stopping to mark time at the corner where their fathers and elder brothers armed with baseball bats had fought the frogs during the conscription riots, the boys came
Continued on page 41
marching. A little slower, though, Boxenbaum puffing as he pounded his drum and thirty or thirty-five others feeling the frost in their toes.
The sun went, darkness came quick as a traffic-light change, and the snow began to gleam purple. Tansky felt an ache in his stomach as they slogged past his house and Captain Bcrcovitch remembered therc’d be boiled beef and potatoes for supper but he’d have to pick up the laundry first.
“Hip. HIP. Hip, hip, hip.”
To the right the AZA Club House and to the left the poky Polish synagogue where old man Zabitsky searched the black windy street and saw the cadets coming toward him.
“Label. Label, come here.”
“I can’t, zeyda, it’s a parade.”
“A parade. Narishkeit. We’re short one man for prayers.”
“But, zeyda, please.”
“No buts, no please. Rosenberg has to say kaddish.”
Led by the arm, drum and all, Lionel Zabitsky was pulled from the parade. “Hey, sir. A casualty.”
Past Moe’s warmly lit cigar store where you could get a lean on rye for fifteen cents and three more cadets defected. Pinsky blew his bugle faint-heartedly and Boxenbaum gave the drum a little bang. Wheeling right and back again up Clark Street five more cadets disappeared into the darkness.
"Hip. Hip. HIP, HIP, HIP.”
One of the deserters ran into his father, who was on his way home from work. "So, what did you learn today?”
“Would you like a hot dog and a Coke before we go home?”
“Okay, but you mustn’t say anything to Maw.”
Together they watched the out-of-step FFHS Cadet Corps fade under the juststarting fall of big lazy snowflakes.
"It’s too cold for a parade. You kids could catch pneumonia out in this weather without scarves or rubbers.”
“Mr. James says that in the First World War sometimes they’d march for thirty miles without stop through rain and mud that was knee deep.”
“Is that what I pay school fees for?” “What?"
“Come on. I’ll buy you that hot dog.”
That summer, the year he graduated, Duddy went to work as a waiter in a hotel in the Laurentian mountains. Rubin’s Hôtel Lac des Sables was in Ste. Agathe des Monts and of all the waiters taken on for the summer only Duddy was not a college boy. The others were firstand second-year McGill boys; none had ever been to FFHS—they came from more prosperous families — and Duddy found it difficult. Some of the other employees. like Cuckoo Kaplan, the recreation director, and the boys in Artie Bloom's band, had their own rooms, but all the waiters slept in the same dormitory over the recreation hall that extended above the lake. After a long day’s work they often shared a bottle of rye and sang songs. On other nights, when the boys went on midnight swims or to drink beer in Val Morin, Duddy was not invited.
Duddy. alone among the boys, was not rattled by the heat and the hurry, the quarrels and the sometimes spiteful squalor, of the kitchen. The gift of a bottle of rum ensured the cook's good will—Duddy had no trouble getting his orders. In fact he was so quick in the dining room that after two weeks Mr. Rubin gave him
three extra tables. This seemed to antagonize the other boys even more and, provoked by Irwin Shubert, they began to ride Duddy hard.
“It’s the cretinous little money-grubbers like Kravitz that cause anti-Semitism,” Irwin told the boys.
Irwin Shubert was nineteen. A tai! bronzed boy with curly black hair, sleepy black eyes, and a mouth too lavish for his face. Persistently bored and with a tendency to smile knowledgeably, an insider sworn to silence, he seldom lifted his voice above a liquid whisper. His father was one of the most famous criminal lawyers in the province and it was said that Irwin promised to be even more brilliant. He kept his books locked in a suitcase. He owned a marriage manual and a copy of Kraft-Lbbing, but his prize was an enormous, profusely illustrated medical volume that was actually restricted to members of the profession. All these books Irwin feigned to approach with scientific disinterest, but Duddy was not fooled. And he even recommended some reading to Irwin.
“God’s Little Acre,” he said, “that’s the best.”
He made this suggestion on his second day at the hotel and thereby also alienated Irwin. Irwin began to bait Duddy when the other boys were there.
“Would you do us all a favor,” Irwin asked, flicking Duddy hard enough with a towel to make him wince, “and take a bath. You stink.”
But some of the other boys, like Donald Levitt, seemed fond of Duddy. Bernie Altman had once invited Duddy to join him for a beer and said that when he graduated from McGill he was going to go to Israel. Then one morning Bernie discovered ten dollars missing from his wallet.
“I’m missing fifteen,” Irwin said.
“But we all went to Val Morin last night,” Donald said. “It must be an outsider.”
“David didn’t come with us,” Irwin said.
"I’d better check again,” Bernie said. “Maybe I’m mistaken. I could have spent the money and forgotten all about it.”
“Sh,” Irwin said, “here it comes. The Judas.”
The next morning Irwin spoke to Rubin's only daughter.
"Look, Linda, I don’t want to cause any trouble. Don’t say a word to your father either, because I don’t want to get the Kravitz kid fired, but somebody’s been stealing money from the boys in the dorm and I want to know if any guests are missing things. Maybe we ought to keep an eye on Kravitz. Mm?”
Sunday, with so many people checking out and new guests constantly arriving, was the most nerve-wracking day of the week. At ten p.m., his work finally finished, Duddy went to collapse on his cot. He found a bottle of Scotch lying there with a note. The bottle, it seemed, was a gift from Mr. Holstein who had left that morning without tipping him.
“Aren't you going to offer us a drink?” Irwin asked.
The other boys sat on their cots, heads drooping.
“I’d like to send the bottle to my grandfather. A gift like.”
"Oh. it has a grandfather,” Irwin said, getting glasses. “Come on, child.”
“Let him keep it," Donald said.
Irwin quickly brought Duddy the glasses and he filled them one by one.
“Linda Rubin’s got a crush on you,” Irwin said. “Did you know that?”
“Never mind. Hotel owners’ daughters have fallen for poor boys before. Well,
la vot—” Irwin lifted his glass to his outh, made a horrible face, and spilled & contents on Duddy. “You filthy little evine,” he said, “is this your idea of a ike?”
I “Don’t any of you touch your glasses. )o you know what this is? A mixture of ¡tale tea and sour salts.”
Duddy tasted his drink and his face pent white.
1 “I know we haven’t exactly been Tiendly,” Irwin said, “but if this is your dea of how to pay us back—Let’s make pm drink his, guys. He deserves it.”
The other boys, too whacked to fight ár decide, began to file out. s “I came in and I found the bottle on :he bed,” Duddy shouted. “So help me 3od. You all saw. I came in and the bottle was on my bed.”
Irwin started after the others. “You’re lucky. Kravitz. They should have made you drink it. What a disgusting stunt.”
SHUNNED by the college-boy waiters Duddy began to investigate Ste. Agathe on his own when he had time off.
Some sixty miles from Montreal, set high in the Laurentian hills on the shore of a splendid blue lake, Ste. Agathe des Monts had been made the middle-class Jewish community’s own resort town many years ago. Here, as they prospered, the Jews came from Outremont to build summer cottages and hotels and children’s camps. Friends and relatives bought plots of land and built their cottages and boathouses competitively, but side by side. There were still some pockets of gentile resistance, it’s true. Neither of the two that were still in their hands admitted Jews but that, like the British Raj who still lingered on the Malobar Coast, was not so discomforting as it was touchingly defiant. For even as they played croquet and sipped their gin and tonics behind protecting pines or picket fences they could not miss the loud, swarthy parade outside: the short husbands with their outrageously patterned sports shirts arm in arm with purring wives too obviously full for slacks, the bawling kids with triple-decker ice-cream cones, the squealing teen-agers, and the trailing grandfather with his beard and black hat. They could not step out of their enclaves and avoid the speeding cars with wolf-call horns. The lake was out of the question. Sailboats and canoes had no chance against speedboats, spilling over with relatives and leaving behind a wash of hot dog buns and orange peel.
Rubin’s was not the only Jewish resort in Ste. Agathe, but Rubin’s had, in the shape of Cuckoo Kaplan, Ste. Agathe’s undisputed number-one comic.
“Cuckoo may be a Montreal boy,” Rubin said, “but he’s no shnook. He’s played night clubs in the States.”
Cuckoo was billed as Montreal’s Own Danny Kaye and his name and jokes often figured in Mel West’s What’s What. Short and wiry with a frantic, itchy face, Cuckoo was ubiquitous. At breakfast he’d pop up from under a table to crack an egg on a bald man’s head and at midnight he’d suddenly race through the dance hall in a Gay Nineties bathing suit and dive through a window into the lake. He always had a surprise for lunch too. Once he’d chase the cook through the dining room with a meat cleaver and later in the week chances were he’d hold up two falsies, saying he had found them on the beach, and ask the owner to claim them.
Cuckoo’s father couldn’t understand him. “What is it with you, Chaim? For a lousy ninety dollars a week,” he said,
“to make a fool of yourself in front of all those strangers.”
But Cuckoo was adored in Ste. Agathe. Guests from all the other hotels came to Rubin's on Saturday night to catch his act.
Duddy, too, was most impressed with Cuckoo and he used to bring him breakfast in bed. Cuckoo could see that the boy was lonely and he didn't mind when he came to his room late at night to talk. And sometimes, if Duddy stayed long enough, Cuckoo tried out one of his new routines on him. But first he'd say, "You’ve got to be honest with me. I want to know exactly what you think. I can take it.”
Duddy was flattered by the tryouts in the small bedroom and every one of Cuckoo’s routines made him howl.
“You kill me, Cuckoo. My sides hurt me. honest.”
“You liked it?”
"Laugh, I could die.”
When Cuckoo was depressed after playing to a hostile house on a Saturday night Duddy would hurry to his bedroom w'ith a pitcher of ice cubes and sandwiches. “Look,” he’d say, “you think it was always such a breeze for Danny Kaye when he was playing the borsht circuit?” On and on Duddy would talk while Cuckoo consumed rye with alarming haste. When Cuckoo replied at last, he’d say in a slurred voice, "That’s show biz, I guess. That’s show biz.” It was his favorite expression.
Duddy told Cuckoo about some of his business ideas.
Next summer, he thought, he might try to set up in the movie-rental business. All he needed was a truck, a projector, and a goy to run the camera, and with a good movie, playing a different resort each night, he would rake in no fortune, but . . . Another idea he had was to make color movies of weddings and bar-mitz-
vahs. There might be a gold mine in this.
Duddy had been putting money in the bank since he was eleven and in his first month at Rubin’s he had earned nearly three hundred dollars in tips, but what he needed w'as a real stake.
At night, lying exhausted on his cot, he realized how' little money he had in big-business terms and he dreamed about his future. He knew what he wanted, and that was to own his own land and to be rich, a somebody, but he was not sure of the smartest way to go about it. He was confident. But there had been other comers before him. South America, for instance, could no longer be discovered. It had been found. Toni Home Permanent had been invented. Another guy had already thought up Kleenex. But there was something out there, like let’s say the atom-bomb formula before it had been discovered, and Duddy dreamed that he w'ould find it and make his fortune. He had his heroes. There was the stranger who had walked into the CocaCola Company before it had made its name and said, “I’ll write dowm two words on a piece of paper, and if you use my idea I want a partnership in the company.” The two words w'ere "Bottle it.” and Coca-Cola became what it is today. Don’t forget, either, the man who saved that salmon company from bankruptcy with the slogan, "This salmon is guaranteed not to turn pink in the can.” There was the founder of the Reader’s Digest—he’d made his pile too. The man who thought up the supermarket must have been another shnook of a small grocer once. There was a day when even the Boy Wonder gathered and sold streetcar transfers. Rockefeller himself had been poor once. Sure, everyone had to make a start, but it w'as getting late. Duddy was already seventeen and a half and sure as hell he didn’t want to wait on tables for the rest of his life. He needed
a stake. When he got back to Montreal in the autumn he would speak to his father and go to see the Boy Wonder.
“I'm not,” he once told Cuckoo Kaplan. “the kind of a jerk who walks around deaf and dumb. I keep my eyes peeled." And already Duddy had plenty of ideas. He had even had letterheads printed —Dudley Kane, Sales Agent—and every week he marked the advertising section of the Sunday edition of the New' York Times for novelties, bargains and possible agencies. That was a hint he had picked up from Mr. Cohen, whose family was staying at Rubin’s for the entire summer.
DUDDY watched all the businessmen who came to the hotel. He made sure they got to know him, too, and that they made no mistake about his being a waiter. That was temporary. He v/atched the way they avoided their wives and the sun and sat around playing poker and talking about the market and the boom in real estate. Most of them ate too much and took pills. One. a Mr. Färber, had summoned Duddy to his table on his first day at the hotel and torn a hundred-dollar bill in two and given Duddy half of it. “We’re here for the season,” he had said, “and we want snappy service. You give it to us and the other half of this note is yours. Okay, kid?”
Duddy replied to several advertisements in the Times. He was, at one time, interested in a new' soap that was guaranteed not to sting the eyes. He tried desperately to win the Quebec agency for a new vending machine, one that would make keys while you wait, but the contract went to another man.
Duddy dreamed, lie planned, he lay awake nights smoking, and meanwhile Irwin continued to torment him. One night a bottle of ketchup was emptied on his sheets and another time his pyjama legs were sewn together. Once he discovered a dead mouse in his servingjacket pocket and twice his salt shakers were filled with sand.
“There’s nothing that little fiend wouldn't do for a dollar,” Irwin told Linda, “and that's how I’m going to teach him a lesson. I’ve got it all figured out.”
It was a long hot summer. The hurry and brawls in the kitchen quickened and the competition for tips got fiercer. Soon a misplaced toothpaste tube or a borrowed towel was enough to set one boy violently against another. Bernie Altman lost seven pounds and circles swelled under Donald Levitt's eyes, but Duddy show'ed no signs of fatigue. One afternoon, however, he felt faint and searched for a place to rest. He didn't dare go to the beach because he was a lousy swimmer and Irwin was certainly there, anyway, and he would ridicule his thin white body again, making the girls laugh. The garden was no use because he would surely be asked to fetch a handbag from a third-floor bedroom or search for a misplaced pair of sunglasses. So Duddy wandered round to the back of the hotel and sat down on a rock. It was so different here from the beach or the main entrance with its flower beds and multicolored umbrellas and manicured lawns. Flies buzzed round a heap of garbage pails, .and sheets and towels flapped on a dozen different lines that ran from the fire escapes to numerous poles. A group of chambermaids and kitchen helpers, permanent staff, sat on the fire escape. Dull, motionless, their eyelids heavy, they smoked in silence. Yvette, the second-floor chambermaid, waved at Duddy, another girl smiled wearily. But Duddy didn’t wave back and he didn’t join them.
He returned the next afternoon, however, and the afternoon after that, and each time he sat nearer to the drained, expressionless group on the fire escape. On Sunday afternoon he brought six bottles of ice-cold beer with him, laid them on the steps, shrugged his shoulders, and walked off to his rock again. Yvette went over to him.
"Is the beer for us?”
“Let’s not make a fuss, eh? I got some big tips today, that’s all.”
“You’re very nice. Thanks.”
"Won't you join us?”
“I’ve got to get back,” he said. "See you,” and he hurried off, embarrassed, to the dormitory. He found Irwin going through his suitcase there. "Hey!” “Somebody stole my watch."
"Keep away from my stuff or you'll get this,” Duddy said, making a fist. "You’ll get this right in the kisser.” "Really?” Irwin laughed, but he retreated. “Well,” he said. “Well, well.”
A COUPLE of afternoons later Irwin rushed into the dormitory. “Do you know what Duddy told Linda Rubin this afternoon?” he asked the boys. “Some fantastic story about a brother Bradley who owns a ranch in Arizona.”
“I happen to know he only has one brother. He’s in pre-med, 1 think.”
“All right. He lied. Big deal.”
“He’s taking Linda out tonight." Irwin said in his liquid whisper.
Linda was Rubin’s only child, and already considered as Irwin’s girl.
“Aren’t you worried?”
“No." Irwin said, smiling a little. “Should I be?"
When Duddy entered the dormitory a half hour later the boys watched apprehensively as he shaved and pressed his trousers and shined his shoes. Bernie Altman would have liked to warn him that something was up, but Irwin was there, and it was impossible.
Duddy was pleased, but he felt jumpy too. He didn’t know much about broads. Over the years there had naturally been lots of rumors and reports. But Linda was something else. Soft, curvy, and nifty enough for one of those snazzy fashion magazines, she seemed just about the most assured girl Duddy had ever met. She had been to Mexico and New' York and sometimes she used words that made Duddy blush. Her cigarette holder, acquired on a trip to Europe, was made of real elephant tusk. At night in the recreation hall she seldom danced but usually sat at the bar joking with Irwin and other favorites. Every afternoon she went riding and Duddy had often seen her starting down the dirt road to the stables, beating her whip against her boot. Linda was nineteen and the daughter of a hotel owner—she was maybe an inch and some taller than he was too — and Duddy couldn’t understand why she wanted to go out with him. He’d been leading Thunder back to the stables when he had run into her.
"Day off today?”
"Where do you go from here?”
“Buy me a drink?”
“Sure. Sure thing.”
He took her to the Laurentide Icecream Bar.
“No,” she said. “A drink."
It was not even dark yet.
“Let's go to the Chalet.” she said.
The bartender there greeted her warm-
ly. Luckily Duddy had lots of money on him because she drank quickly. Not beer, either.
He told her about his brother Bradley and that the Boy Wonder, an intimate of his father’s, was willing to back him in any line he chose.
“Why don’t you take me dancing tonight?”
“I can be ready at nine.”
Duddy drank three cups of black coffee and took a swim to clear his head before he returned to the dormitory. Irwin, lying on the bed, made him nervous— Linda was supposed to be his girl—and Duddy couldn’t understand why the others watched him so apprehensively while he dressed.
He took half an hour combing his hair into a pompadour with the help of lots of brilliantine. He selected from among his shirts a new one with red and black checks and the tie he chose was white with a black-and-blue pattern of golf balls and clubs. His green sports jacket had wide shoulders, a one-button roll, and brown checks. A crease had been sewn into his grey flannel trousers. He wore two-tone shoes.
Bernie Altman looked hard at Irwin and stopped Duddy as he was going out. “Listen,” he said. “I’ll lend you my suit if you like.”
“Jeez, that’s nice of you. Bernie. I’m going dancing tonight. But this is the first chance I’ve had to wear this jacket. A heavy date, you know. Thanks anyway.”
Irwin choked his laughter with his pillow.
“Look. Duddy, I—Oh, what’s the use? Have a good time.”
Outside, Linda leaned on the hern of her father's station wagon. Duddy ran.
DUDDY and Linda drove to the Hilltop l.odge, the resort with the best band, and ordered Scotch on the rocks. Many of the bright young people there waved and others stopped at their table. Two or three raised their eyebrows or looked puzzled when they saw that Linda was with Duddy. “We’re engaged," Linda said. "He uses Ponds.”
One boy asked, “What gives tonight, precious one? Sociology 101?"
“Get lost." Linda said.
Duddy danced with her three or four times. She was okay on the slow ones, but when the band played something hot. a boogiewoogie, for instance, Duddy switched to his free-swinging FFHS Tea Dance style and all at once the floor was cleared and everyone stood around watching. At first this seemed to delight Linda, she laughed a lot, but the second time round she got embarrassed and quit on Duddy in the middle of a dance. Once, during a slow number, he held her too close.
"Please," she said.
Linda invited three others to their table and Duddy ordered drinks for them. Melvin Lerner. a dentistry student, held hands with Jewel Freed. They were both working at Camp Forest Land. The other man. Peter Butler, was bearded and somewhat older than the others; he was thirty maybe. Butler lived in Ste. Agathe all year round; he had built his own house on a secluded part of the lake.
“Peter's a painter,” Linda said to Duddy.
“Inside or outside?"
That s good. Peter said. “That's very good.” He slapped his knees again and again.
Duddy looked puzzled.
“He’s not joking," Linda said. “Peter's not a house painter, Duddy. He paints
pictures. Peter is a non-figurative paint-
“Like Norman Rockwell,” Peter said, tughing some more.
Melvin and Jewel got up to dance. “Do you mind if I dance this one with .inda?” Peter asked.
“Sure. Sure thing.”
Peter and Linda danced two slow lumbers together and when Duddy lookd up again they were gone. An hour ater Linda returned alone, her face lushed. "I need a drink,” she said. "A >ig one."
So Duddy ordered another round, vlaybe it was the liquor—he was certainy not used to it—but all at once it seemtd to him that Linda had changed. Her roice softened and she began to ask him ots of questions about his plans for the luture. She was not ridiculing him any more, he was sure of that, and he was no longer afraid of her. From time to time the room swayed around him and he was glad he wasn’t the one who would have to drive home. But dizzy as he was he felt fine. He no longer heard all her remarks, however, because he was thinking that hotel owners’ daughters had 'fallen for poor boys before and, given a fshot at it, there were lots of improvements he could make at Rubin’s.
“Well, Duddy, what do you say?” “Wha’?”
“Are you game?”
The room rocked.
“Tell me if you don’t want to. 1 won't be angry. Maybe Irwin would . . .”
“No, no. I’ll do it.”
“It’ll give you a good start on your stake.”
“Sure. Sure thing.”
She helped him outside and into the station wagon. His head rolling and jerking loose each time they hit a bump, Duddy tried, he tried hard, to remember what he had agreed to. He had told some lies about himself and the Boy Wonder, they had talked about the gambling house he ran, and the conversation had come round to roulette. Duddy pretended to be an expert and Linda just happened to owm a wheel. That’s it. Then, what? He told her he had already earned more than four hundred dollars in tips and Linda said that was plenty. Plenty? Plenty for him to act as banker for the roulette game they were going to run in the recreation hall beginning at 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Wouldn’t her father object? No, not if ten percent of each win went into a box for the Jewish National Fund. He couldn’t lose—there was that too. She told him so. He might even come out a few hundred dollars ahead and he needed a stake, didn't he? Sure. Sure thing.
“Can you make it upstairs yourself?” “Sure.”
"Aren't you going to kiss Linda before you go.”
“Good night, Duddy.”
THAT was Wednesday, and in the three days to go before the game Duddy began to fear for his money. “Sure you could win,” Cuckoo said, “but you could lose too. If I were you T wouldn’t do it.” Then people began to stop him in the lobby or on the beach. "I’ll be there, kid,” Paddy said. Färber slapped him on the back and winked. “Count me in,” he said.
Ed Planter invited him to his table for a drink Friday night.
Mr. Cohen stopped him outside the gym. “Is it okay if I bring along a couple of pals?”
The Boy Wonder, Duddy thought.
would not chicken out in a situation like this. He would be cool. But Duddy couldn't sleep Friday night and he was ashamed to go and tell Cuckoo again that he was scared. He wouldn't want Linda or Irwin to know that, either. It was so nice, too. Suddenly people looking at him and smiling the way they did at women with babies. He no longer had to go round to the back of the hotel to sit with the kitchen help and chambermaids for companionship. Aw, the hell. Duddy figured out that if the hank ever dropped below one hundred dollars he
would stop the game, but he withdrew three hundred just in case. Linda took him aside on Saturday afternoon. “Maybe we'd better call it off,’’ she said. “Why?”
“You might lose.”
You said I couldn't lose.”
"I said, 1 said. How do I know?”
“I’m not calling it off. I can’t. All those people. Jeez.”
Cuckoo pleaded with him once more. “But what if you lose. Duddy?”
“Simple,” Duddy said. “If I lose 1 drown myself. That’s show biz.”
On Sunday night the boys in Artie Bloom’s band, who were in on the story, broke up early and everyone pretended to be going off to bed or somewhere else. The lights in the recreation hall were turned out and the front door was locked. Fifteen minutes later some of the lights were turned on again and a side door was opened. The players began to arrive. Duddy set up the table and announced the odds in a failing voice. He would pay thirty to one on a full number and the top bet allowed was fifty cents. That would pay fifteen dollars,
one-fifty of which would go into the JNF box. Linda, who was helping him, began to sell change. Färber bought five dollars’ worth and Mr. Cohen asked for ten. Once Duddy had counted forty players in the hall he asked for the door to be shut.
“Don’t worry,” Linda said. “The more players, the more money on the board, the better it is for the bank.”
But Duddy insisted.
“I’ll only take ten dollars’ worth for a start,” Irwin said.
Duddy looked sharply at Linda and it seemed to him that she was even more frightened than he was. “Okay,” he said. “Place your bets.”
Duddy counted at least thirty dollars on the first run. Jeez, he thought. His hands shaky he was just about to spin the wheel when a voice in the darkness shouted, “Nobody leave. This is a raid.”
“My men have got the place surrounded. No funny stuff, please.”
A spotlight was turned on and revealed was Cuckoo Kaplan in a Keystone Cop costume. His night stick was made of rubber.
“You’re a dirty pig, Cuckoo.”
“Come on, Cuckoo. Gimme a number. I’ll place a bet for you. Quick.”
Duddy shut his eyes and spun the wheel and number thirty-two came up. Nobody was on it. He paid off even money on two blacks, that’s all.
“Dix-sept, vingt,” Mrs. Cohen said. “Cheval.”
“Oi-oi,” Mr. Cohen said.
“She wants it on the line between seventeen and twenty,” Linda said.
Cuckoo took off his shoe, reached into an outlandishly patched sock, and pulled out a dollar bill. “Rubin just gave me an advance on next year's salary. He’s crying in the kitchen right now.”
“Put the works on number six for me. but I can't look.”
After an hour of play Duddy was ahead more than two hundred dollars. “I'll tell you what,” he said. “Lots of you seem to be losing. I’m no chiseler. From now on you can bet a dollar on a number if you want.”
That's when Irwin changed another twenty-five dollars and sat down at the table and began to play in earnest. His bets seemed to follow no apparent pattern. On each spin of the wheel he placed a dollar on numbers fifteen, six, thirtytwo, three, and twelve, and it was only the next morning when he looked closely
at the wheel that Duddy realized these numbers ran together there. Irwin won; he didn't win on each spin, but whenever one of his numbers came up he collected thirty dollars and twice if his number repeated. Others, riding his streak of luck, began to bet with him, and once Duddy had to pay off three different people on number three. That cost him ninety dollars, not counting the side and corner bets.
"Don't worry,” Irwin said. “David’s father is in the transport business. He doesn't really have to work as a waiter.” Duddy turned to Linda, his look astonished.
"His brother Bradley is a big rancher in Arizona,” Irwin said. "All David has to do is wire him for more money.”
By two-thirty Duddy had lost nearly three hundred dollars.
"It's getting late,” Mrs. Färber said. Ed Planter yawned and stretched. “Don’t go,” Duddy said. "Not yet, please. Give me a chance to win some of my money back.”
Färber saw that Duddy was extremely pale.
"Don't worry, kid,” Mr. Cohen said. "Your luck will change.”
But Duddy’s luck didn’t change, it got worse, and nobody at the table joked any more. The men could see that the boy’s cheeks were burning hot, his eyes were red, and his shirt adhered to his back. When Duddy paid out on a number his hands shook.
"It’s nothing to him.” Irwin said, smiling a little. "David is an intimate of Jerry Dingleman’s.”
Cuckoo pulled Irwin aside. “It’s your wheel, you miserable ganiff. I found out.”
"Do you know how hard that kid works for his money?”
Irwin tried to turn away, but Cuckoo seized him by the arm. “I’m going to speak to Rubin,” he said. “First thing tomorrow morning I'm going to talk to him.”
"Linda and I are going to be engaged,” Irwin said. “Rubin is very pleased about that. I thought maybe you’d like to know.”
"Come on,” Duddy said. "Place your bets. Let's not waste time.”
The men at the table were tired and wanted to go to bed, but they were also ashamed of winning so much money from a seventeen-year-old boy and they began to play recklessly, trying to lose, it was no use.
"We want to see you upstairs later, Irwin,” Bernie Altman said.
On the next spin Duddy went broke and he had to close the game.
“That’s show biz,” Irwin said. "Right. Cuckoo?”
The men filed out without looking at Duddy, but Linda stayed on after the others had gone.
“Thanks,” Duddy said. “Thanks a lot." “How much did you lose?” “Everything. Three hundred dollars.’ Duddy began to scream. "You said I couldn’t lose. You told me it was impossible for me to lose.”
“I’m sorry, Duddy. I had no idea that—”
"Aw, go to hell. Just go to hell, please.” He gave the wheel a shove, knocking it over, and rushed outside. Once on the beach he could no longer quell his stomach. Duddy was sick. He sat on a rock, holding his head in his hands, and he began to sob bitterly.
"Hey,” Cuckoo shouted, entering the lobby, "has anybody here seen Duddy?” "No.”
"He still hasn't shown up at the dorm,”
Bernie said. “It’s more than an hour
"What's going on here?” Rubin demanded. “I’m the boss here.”
Duddy clenched his teeth and pulled his hair until it hurt. "Damn it, damn it,” he said. Some stake. Six weeks of hard work and not a cent to show for it. He was back where he’d started from. Worse. He was probably a laughing stock too. Jeez, he thought.
Some scraping on the sand disturbed him and Duddy hid behind a rock. He recognized Cuckoo’s voice.
"Somebody saw him run toward the beach. There's no telling what he might do."
Linda said something he couldn’t make out and Cuckoo's reply was lost in the wind. Then he heard Linda say, “I knew it was his wheel, but I never thought
Footsteps approached from another direction. Somebody had a flashlight.
Let them think I've drowned, he thought. It would serve them right. He had seen a drowned woman once at Shawbridge, and the thought of his own
face bloated like that — Irwin hanging for it, and his father maybe feeling sorry he hadn’t treated him as well as Lennie — made a hot lump in Duddy’s throat. He began to sob again.
There was a dip of oars and a rippling in the water. A boat had started out.
"HAL LO! DUDDY!”
Scampering barefooted across the sand. Duddy broke for the protecting woods. He heard Rubin’s gruff voice, "That little fool. I’ll kill him. There was a drowning at the Hilltop Lodge once and the next
day there weren’t two guests left at the hotel. If this got into the papers it could ruin ...”
Duddy was seized by an uncontrollable fit of laughter. He rolled over in the grass, biting his arm to muffle the noise. ”... send for the cops?”
Next came Rubin’s voice. “Oh, no you don't. No cops. I'll choke him to death.”
DUDDY came out on a dirt road on the other side of the woods and started back into Ste. Agathe. Three times he stopped, his laughter immense. The thought of them searching for him all through the night and Irwin certainly catching it galore almost made him forget the three hundred dollars. Almost, but not quite.
Pyjama-clad guests drifted down into the lobby one by one.
“I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes, Rubin.”
"Who asked you?”
“How could you let a seventeen-yearold kid lose all his tips in a roulette game?”
“I knew nothing about it. I swear I—” “Save it for the reporters tomorrow. When they drag the kid out of the lake — ”
“Bite your tongue," Rubin shouted. “The poor kid.”
“The poor kid,” Rubin said. “What about me?”
“Next season it’s the Hilltop Lodge for me,” Mrs. Dunsky said.
“Me too,” Mrs. Färber said.
Rubin reminded his guests that there had been a case of ptomaine poisoning at the Hilltop Lodge last year.
“You think your food goes down so good, Rubin? Around the corner at the drugstore bicarbonate sales are booming."
“We’re doing everything humanly possible," Rubin said. "All the boys are out searching.”
"The bottom of the lake?”
The guests stared accusingly at Rubin. "Why don’t you all just go to sleep,” he said.
"In a hotel where tragedy has just struck?"
“Bite your tongue!"
"Tomorrow,” Paddy said, “you can change the name from the Hôtel Lac des Sables to Rubin's Haunted Hotel.”
"All right." Rubin said.
"Already it’s beginning to feel spooky in here. Hey, open up the bar. Rubin.” "Yeah, we could do with some salami
sandwiches too. This is going to be a long night."
“All right,” Rubin said. “All right.”
Circling back over the highway Duddy re-entered Ste. Agathe through those streets, remote from the lake, where the French Canadians lived. His legs ached from the long hike; he was starved and searched for an open restaurant. He found a French-Canadian chip place open on the edge of town. Yvette, one of Rubin’s chambermaids, was there.
Duddy didn’t realize it, but his clothing was muddy and he had ripped his shirt in the bushes.
Duddy doubled over with laughter again.
"Were you in a fight?”
He sat down and told her, between explosions of laughter, what had happened. Yvette felt rotten about the three hundred dollars, but when he got to the part about Rubin she began to laugh too.
“Have something else?”
Duddy had already consumed three hot dogs and two orders of chips.
“I think they want to close,” he said. “Why don’t we go for a walk?”
Avoiding the main streets and the lakeshore, or anywhere he might run into a searching party, they started out together holding hands. She led him toward the railroad tracks as the stars started to fade and light began to spread across the sky. Duddy saw for the first time the part of Ste. Agathe where the poorer French Canadians lived and the summer residents and tourists never came. The unpainted houses had been washed grey by the wind and the rain. Roosters crowed in yards crowded with junk and small, hopeless vegetable patches and Duddy was reminded of his grandfather and St. Dominique Street, and he promised himself to send the old man a postcard tomorrow. There were faded Robin Hood flour signs on some walls and here and there a barn roof or window had been healed with a tin Sweet Caporal sign.
“This way,” Yvette said.
Crossing the tracks they came out on a rocky slope on the edge of the mountain. The dew soon soaked through Duddy’s shoes and trouser bottoms. His body ached. The excitement of the game and search past, he longed for his bed, but Yvette led him deeper into the field. Down a bumpy hill and up the other side onto a flat table of a rock. There she made him rest.
‘Tt’s so nice to see you lie still for once.” she said.
"You’re always running or jumping or scratching ...”
Duddy was surprised and flattered to discover that anyone cared enough to watch him so closely. “I like you,” he said.
"Do you think I'm pretty?”
"Sure. Sure thing.”
He edged closer to her and, to his surprise, she didn't withdraw. She kissed him.
Jeez, he thought, if the guys could see me now.
“You’re my speed, Yvette. You're for me.”
They returned to Ste. Agathe by another route, separating before they reached the lakeshore. Yvette kissed him on the cheek. “You work too hard,” she said. "There’s nothing but bones ...” "Aw.”
She told him that she was off on Wednesday afternoon.
“Let’s go swimming,” he said.
IT was almost nine when Duddy entered the lobby of the Hôtel Lac des Sables and the guests were beginning to come down for breakfast.
“He’s all right.”
“It's the Kravitz boy. He’s back.” Guests came rushing out of the dining room and smiled, still clutching orange juices or slices of toast. Linda embraced Duddy in front of everybody. “Boy,” she said, “am I ever glad to see you!”
Rubin slapped him on the back. Duddy could see that he hadn’t shaved yet. Probably he’d been up all night.
“Are you okay?” Bernie asked.
The guests cheered when he entered the dining room.
"Don’t worry,” Mr. Cohen said with a meaningful wink. "Everything’s going to work out fine.”
Duddy looked puzzled.
"He can take the next two days off,” Rubin announced in a booming voice. There was some applause. “But no complaints please if the service is slow. Duddy's my top man in the dining room.”
"/ƒ the service is slow. Is that what the
After breakfast Duddy went to the dormitory. He had only just sat down on the bed to rest when Bernie and Donald came in. They had brought Irwin with them. "He has something for you,” Bernie said severely.
“Give it to him.”
“I want to tell you how thrilled I am,”
Irwin said, “that you didn't drown. I was so worried.”
“Give it to him right now. please.”
Irwin handed over his winnings. It was just short of three hundred dollars. “I intended to return the money anyway,” he said.
“Nobody's going to know about this. Duddy." Bernie said, “so don't worry.”
“They were afraid you might he too proud to take the money," Irwin said. "Isn't that amusing?"
“You cheated me. You arranged it all with Linda and the wheel was crooked. I hope you had a good laugh.”
“The wheel wasn’t crooked." “Cheaters never prosper,” Duddy said. "I hope this'll be a good lesson for you. J hope you'll profit from it in the future."
nptHAT night a delegation comprised of .1. Färber. Mr. Cohen, and Paddy invited Duddy to have a drink with them in the recreation hall. Mr. Cohen, ever since he had winked meaningfully at Duddy, had been an awfully busy man.
All morning and most of the afternoon he had waylaid guests in the lobby and on the beach and even — once the word had got out — in their rooms. “Think of what the poor kid must be going through,” he’d say for a starter.
“It's my fault maybe."
"Look," he'd say. "if you can afford a month here you can afford this. Would it be better to spend the money on doctors?”
Everyone smiled at the delegation when they sat down at the bar with Duddy. Mr. Cohen held out a large en-
velope. “We want a promise from you first,” he said.
"How much did you lose last night?” “Three hundred bucks, but — ”
“No huts. Duddy. You've got to promise us no more roulette. Finished.’’ “Sure.”
He handed Duddy the envelope. “It's from all the guests together. A hundred and forty-two contributors.”
"I don't get it.”
"1 may have given more than Färber but we're not saying. Twenty dollars is the same as five," Mr. Cohen said, looking hard at Färber. “It's the spirit that counts.”
"I don't know what to say. 1 mean , . . ” Duddy pressed the envelope, testing it for thickness and substance. “ . . . well, thanks ...”
“You'd better go to sleep now. You must be tired.”
Duddy rushed upstairs, emptied the envelope on his bed, and started to count the money. There was close to five hundred dollars in the envelope. Duddy laughed, he shouted. He rolled over on the floor and did a couple of somersaults. “Hi.”
It was Linda.
“I had no idea Irwin was going to bet that much. Honestly, I didn’t.”
With all your college education, bethought, what are you? A couple of crooks. "Sure,” he said tightly.
“Do you really think we were after your money?”
Will you go, please, he thought. I work for your father but that doesn’t mean i have to talk to you.
"I've broken with Irwin.” “Congratulations.”
“It was a bad joke. I'm sorry. But I had no idea — "
“ — that the wheel was crooked?” “The wheel wasn’t crooked. But it's only a toy and it's an old one. It has certain tendencies. Irwin knew them.” Duddy shrugged. Ver gerharget, he thought.
“I said I was sorry."
"I thought you went out with me because you liked me. Boy. was I ever a sucker. That night at the Hilltop Lodge must have cost me twenty bucks."
"You want the money back?"
“You think I'm dirt." he said, “don't you?”
She didn't answer.
Look at me, he thought, take a good look because maybe I'm dirt now. Maybe Eve never been to Paris and I can't play tennis like the other guys here, but i don't go around spilling ketchup in other guys' beds either. I don't trick guys into crazy promises when they’re drunk. I don’t speak dirty like you either. You make fun of your father. You don’t like him. But he sends you to Europe and Mexico — and who pays for those drinks in the afternoon? You're sorry for making a fool out of me. Gee whiz; my heart bleeds. Take a good look. Maybe I’m dirt today. That black marketeer Cohen can give me twenty bucks and a lecture about gambling and feel good for a whole week. But you listen here, kiddo. It's not always going to be like this. If you want to bet on something, then bet on me. I'm going to be a somebody and that's for sure. ★
This is an excerpt from Mordecai Richter’s new novel, The Apprenticeship of Daddy Kravitz, to be published later by Andre Deutsch Ltd. (Collins of Canada). A second installment will he published in the next issue.