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Russell Willis interview part one - The Sequential comics app The former fanzine writer and digital mogul talks about his new app. After 25 years in publishing - which saw the foundation of his digital company Panel Nine in Japan - Willis has returned to comics with the iPad app Sequential. The digital graphic novel platform offers some of the best in the medium from top publishers and creators from the UK and the rest of the world, with a focus on adult, non-superhero content. What does Sequential offer that other digital platforms do not? Sequential was built from the ground up for reading graphic novels, and we've taken a meticulous approach to making sure that using the app is a beautiful, super-smooth, responsive, intuitive experience.
It's been described as the gold standard for reading graphic novels, and it's a world away from an ePub or PDF. Convenience is another - it only takes a few taps to purchase that graphic novel, and you don't have to lug huge books around with you. And because it's digital, we can add production sketches, interviews, synchronised audio and video commentaries to the mix - material that would either be too expensive or just impossible to add to the book.
I think you often get a combination of bad animation and bad comics. However, I think complementary materials via video and audio - and for kids' games - are great, if they are done right. Again it comes down to the design of the user experience - too many apps just get this badly wrong.
In Sequential we've created methods for publishers and artists to add extra features to their book without having to hire developers to create expensive specialist software.
At the same time, for every app sold on Android, three or four are sold on iOS - so despite Android having a larger installed base, iOS is where the market is. Having said that, we expect to announce an Android version at the end of the year. How are you reaching out to independent creators? Miss Lonelyhearts felt as he had felt years before, when he had accidentally stepped on a small frog. Its spilled guts had filled him with pity, but when its suffering had become real to his senses, his pity had turned to rage and he had beaten it frantically until it was dead.
Gates followed laughing. At their approach, the old man jumped to his feet. Miss Lonelyhearts caught him and forced him back into his chair. What's your name?
Every one has a life story. Tell it, damn you, tell it. Gates tried to tear him away, but he refused to let go. He was twisting the arm of all the sick and miserable, broken and betrayed, inarticulate and impotent. He was twisting the arm of Desperate, Brokenhearted, Sick-of-it-all, Disillusioned-with-tubercular-husband. The old man began to scream.
Somebody hit Miss Lonelyhearts from behind with a chair. His head ached and his thoughts revolved inside the pain like a wheel within a wheel. When he opened his eyes, the room, like a third wheel, revolved around the pain in his head. From where he lay he could see the alarm clock. It was half past three. When the telephone rang, he crawled out of the sour pile of bed clothes. Shrike wanted to know if he intended to show up at the office. He answered that he was drunk but would try to get there.
He undressed slowly and took a bath. The hot water made his body feel good, but his heart remained a congealed lump of icy fat. After drying himself, he found a little whisky in the medicine chest and drank it. The alcohol warmed only the lining of his stomach. He shaved, put on a clean shirt and a freshly pressed suit and went out to get something to eat. When he had finished his second cup of scalding coffee, it was too late for him to go to work.
But he had nothing to worry about, for Shrike would never fire him. He made too perfect a butt for Shrike's jokes. Once he had tried to get fired by recommending suicide in his column. All that Shrike had said was: "Remember, please, that your job is to increase the circulation of our paper. Suicide, it is only reasonable to think, must defeat this purpose. Some exercise might warm him. He decided to take a brisk walk, but he soon grew tired and when he reached the little park, he slumped down on a bench opposite the Mexican War obelisk.
The stone shaft cast a long, rigid shadow on the walk in front of him. He sat staring at it without knowing why until he noticed that it was lengthening in rapid jerks, not as shadows usually lengthen. He grew frightened and looked up quickly at the monument. It seemed red and swollen in the dying sun, as though it were about to spout a load of granite seed. He hurried away. When he had regained the street, he started to laugh. Although he had tried hot water, whisky, coffee, exercise, he had completely forgotten sex.
What he really needed was a woman. He laughed again, remembering that at college all his friends had believed intercourse capable of steadying the nerves, relaxing the muscles and clearing the blood. But he knew only two women who would tolerate him. He had spoiled his chances with Betty, so it would have to be Mary Shrike.
When he kissed Shrike's wife, he felt less like a joke. She returned his kisses because she hated Shrike. But even there Shrike had beaten him. No matter how hard he begged her to give Shrike horns, she refused to sleep with him. Although Mary always grunted and upset her eyes, she would not associate what she felt with the sexual act. When he forced this association, she became very angry.
He had been convinced that her grunts were genuine by the change that took place in her when he kissed her heavily. Then her body gave off an odour that enriched the synthetic flower scent she used behind her ears and in the hollows of her neck. No similar change ever took place in his own body, however. Like a dead man, only friction could make him warm or violence make him mobile. He decided to get a few drinks and then call Mary from Delehanty's. It was quite early and the speakeasy was empty.
The bartender served him and went back to his newspaper. On the mirror, behind the bar hung a poster advertising a mineral water. It showed a naked girl made modest by the mist that rose from the spring at her feet.
The artist had taken a great deal of care in drawing her breasts and their nipples stuck out like tiny red hats. He tried to excite himself into eagerness by thinking of the play Mary made with her breasts.
She used them as the coquettes of long ago had used their fans. One of her tricks was to wear a medal low down on her chest. Whenever he asked to see it, instead of drawing it out she leaned over for him to look.
Although he had often asked to see the medal, he had not yet found out what it represented. But the excitement refused to come. If anything, he felt colder than before he had started to think of women. It was not his line. Nevertheless, he persisted in it, out of desperation, and went to the telephone to call Mary. I've quarreled with him. This time I'm through. We'll be alone and anyway I have to bathe and get dressed. They would both be glad to see him and all three of them would go to the movies where Mary would hold his hand under the seat.
He went back to the bar for another drink, then bought a quart of Scotch and took a cab. Shrike opened the door. Although he had expected to see him, he was embarrassed and tried to cover his confusion by making believe that he was extremely drunk. She's in the tub.
Then he got some charged water and made two highballs. Whisky and the boss's wife. The answers he wanted to make were too general and began too far back in the history of their relationship.
However, we like to see a young man with his heart in his work. You've been going around with yours in your mouth. It's Mary who does the beating. I adore heart-to-heart talks and nowadays there are so few people with whom one can really talk. Everybody is so hard-boiled. I want to make a clean breast of matters, a nice clean breast.
It's better to make a clean breast of matters than to let them fester in the depths of one's soul. You spiritual lovers think that you alone suffer. But you are mistaken. Although my love is of the flesh flashy, I too suffer. It's suffering that drives me into the arms of the Miss Farkises of this world.
Yes, I suffer. She's a damned selfish bitch.
She was a virgin when I married her and has been fighting ever since to remain one. Sleeping with her is like sleeping with a knife in one's groin. He put his face close to Shrike's and laughed as hard as he could. Shrike tried to ignore him by finishing as though the whole thing were a joke.
Can you imagine Willie Shrike, wee Willie Shrike, raping any one? I'm like you, one of those grateful lovers. She leaned over Miss Lonelyhearts and said: "Don't talk to that pig. Come with me and bring the whisky. She went into a large closet to dress. He sat on the bed.
Do you know why he lets me go out with other men? To save money. He knows that I let them neck me and when I get home all hot and bothered, why he climbs into my bed and begs for it. The cheap bastard! Miss Lonelyhearts bent down to kiss the back of her neck. When he brought it to her, she gave him a kiss, a little peck of reward. I want to be gay. When they entered, the orchestra was playing a Cuban rhumba. A waiter dressed as a South-American cowboy led them to a table.
Mary immediately went Spanish and her movements became languorous and full of abandon. But the romantic atmosphere only heightened his feeling of icy fatness. He tried to fight it by telling himself that it was childish. What had happened to his great understanding heart? Guitars, bright shawls, exotic foods, outlandish costumes--all these things were part of the business of dreams. He had learned not to laugh at the advertisements offering to teach writing, cartooning, engineering, to add inches to the biceps and to develop the bust.
He should therefore realize that the people who came to El Gaucho were the same as those who wanted to write and live the life of an artist, wanted to be an engineer and wear leather puttees, wanted to develop a grip that would impress the boss, wanted to cushion Raoul's head on their swollen breasts.
They were the same people as those who wrote to Miss Lonelyhearts for help. But his irritation was too profound for him to soothe it in this way. For the time being, dreams left him cold, no matter how humble they were. She was wearing a tight, shiny dress that was like glass-covered steel and there was something cleanly mechanical in her pantomime. In a great cold wave, the readers of his column crashed over the music, over the bright shawls and picturesque waiters, over her shining body.
To save himself, he asked to see the medal. Like a little girl helping an old man to cross the street, she leaned over for him to look into the neck of her dress. But before he had a chance to see anything, a waiter came up to the table. When I was a child, I saw my mother die. She had cancer of the breast and the pain was terrible. She died leaning over a table. Tell me about your mother. The pain was so terrible that she climbed out of bed to die.
He saw that there was a runner on it, but was unable to read the inscription.
Parents are also part of the business of dreams. People like Mary were unable to do without such tales. They told them because they wanted to talk about something besides clothing or business or the movies, because they wanted to talk about something poetic. When she had finished her story, he said, "You poor kid," and leaned over for another look at the medal.
She bent to help him and pulled out the neck of her dress with her fingers. This time he was able to read the inscription: "Awarded by the Boston Latin School for first place in the yd.
In the cab, he again begged her to sleep with him. She refused. He kneaded her body like a sculptor grown angry with his clay, but there was too much method in his caresses and they both remained cold. At the door of her apartment, she turned for a kiss and pressed against him. A spark flared up in his groin. He refused to let go and tried to work this spark into a flame. She pushed his mouth away from a long wet kiss.
We must talk. Willie probably heard the elevator and is listening behind the door. You don't know him. If he doesn't hear us talk, he'll know you're kissing me and open the door.
It's an old trick of his. She was afraid to resist or to stop talking. My father was a portrait painter. He led a very gay life. He mistreated my mother. She had cancer of the breast. Her dress fell to her feet and he tore away her underwear until she was naked under her fur coat. He tried to drag her to the floor. If he isn't, I'll let you in. She opened the door and tiptoed in, carrying her rolled up clothes under her coat.
He heard her switch on the light in the foyer and knew that Shrike had not been behind the door. Then he heard footsteps and limped behind a projection of the elevator shaft. The door opened and Shrike looked into the corridor. He had on only the top of his pajamas. A desert, he was thinking, not of sand, but of rust and body dirt, surrounded by a back-yard fence on which are posters describing the events of the day. Mother slays five with ax, slays seven, slays nine Babe slams two, slams three He failed to notice Goldsmith's waddling approach until a heavy arm dropped on his neck like the arm of a deadfall.
He freed himself with a grunt. His anger amused Goldsmith, who smiled, bunching his fat cheeks like twin rolls of smooth pink toilet paper. Miss Lonelyhearts knew that Goldsmith had written the column for him yesterday, so he hid his annoyance to be grateful.
Miss Lonelyhearts picked up the letter. I am only 32 years old but have had a lot of trouble in my life and am unhappily married to a cripple.
I need some good advice bad but cant state my case in a letter as I am not good at letters and it would take an expert to state my case.
I know your a man and am glad as I dont trust women. You were pointed out to me in Delehantys as a man who does the advice in the paper and the minute I saw you I said you can help me. You had on a blue suit and a gray hat when I came in with my husband who is a cripple. I don't feel so bad about asking to see you personal because I feel almost like I knew you. So please call me up at Bugess which is my number as I need your advice bad about my married life.
An admirer, Fay Doyle He threw the letter into the waste-paper basket with a great show of distaste. Goldsmith laughed at him. Instead of pulling the Russian by recommending suicide, you ought to get the lady with child and increase the potential circulation of the paper.
He went over to his typewriter and started pounding out his column. Oh, my dear readers, it only seems so. Every man, no matter how poor or humble, can teach himself to use his senses. See the cloud-flecked sky, the foam-decked sea Smell the sweet pine and heady privet Feel of velvet and of satin As the popular song goes, 'The best things in life are free.
They had run out of sea shells and were using faded photographs, soiled fans, time-tables, playing cards, broken toys, imitation jewelry--junk that memory had made precious, far more precious than anything the sea might yield.
He killed his great understanding heart by laughing, then reached into the waste-paper basket for Mrs. Doyle's letter. Like a pink tent, he set it over the desert. Against the dark mahogany desk top, the cheap paper took on rich flesh tones.
He thought of Mrs. Doyle as a tent, hair-covered and veined, and of himself as the skeleton in a water closet, the skull and cross-bones on a scholar's bookplate. When he made the skeleton enter the flesh tent, it flowered at every joint. But despite these thoughts, he remained as dry and cold as a polished bone and sat trying to discover a moral reason for not calling Mrs. If he could only believe in Christ, then adultery would be a sin, then everything would be simple and the letters extremely easy to answer.
The completeness of his failure drove him to the telephone. He left the city room and went into the hall to use the pay station from which all private calls had to be made. The walls of the booth were covered with obscene drawings.
He fastened his eyes on two disembodied genitals and gave the operator Burgess Doyle in? Doyle," he said. He sat down on a bench near the obelisk to wait for Mrs. Still thinking of tents, he examined the sky and saw that it was canvas-colored and ill-stretched.
He examined it like a stupid detective who is searching for a clue to his own exhaustion. When he found nothing, he turned his trained eye on the skyscrapers that menaced the little park from all sides.
In their tons of forced rock and tortured steel, he discovered what he thought was a clue. Americans have dissipated their radical energy in an orgy of stone breaking. In their few years they have broken more stones than did centuries of Egyptians.
And they have done their work hysterically, desperately, almost as if they knew that the stones would some day break them. The detective saw a big woman enter the park and start in his direction. He made a quick catalogue: legs like Indian clubs, breasts like balloons and a brow like a pigeon. Despite her short plaid skirt, red sweater, rabbit-skin jacket and knitted tam-o'-shanter, she looked like a police captain.
He waited for her to speak first. Oh, hello It felt like a thigh. They know me. As he followed her up the stairs to his apartment, he watched the action of her massive hams; they were like two enormous grindstones. He made some highballs and sat down beside her on the bed. He had always been the pursuer, but now found a strange pleasure in having the roles reversed. He drew back when she reached for a kiss.
She caught his head and kissed him on his mouth.
At first it ticked like a watch, then the tick softened and thickened into a heart throb. It beat louder and more rapidly each second, until he thought that it was going to explode and pulled away with a rude jerk. She made sea sounds; something flapped like a sail; there was the creak of ropes; then he heard the wave-against-a-wharf smack of rubber on flesh.
I Her call for him to hurry was a sea-moan, and when he lay beside her, she heaved, tidal, moon-driven. Some fifteen minutes later, he crawled out of bed like an exhausted swimmer leaving the surf, and dropped down into a large armchair near the window. She went into the bathroom, then came back and sat in his lap. He's a cripple like I wrote you, and much older than me. He hasn't been a husband to me for years. You know, Lucy, my kid; isn't his. I'll bet you must have wondered how it was I came to marry a cripple.
It's a long story. Already his mind and body were half asleep. I got into trouble when the Doyles lived above us on Center Street. I used to be kind to him and go to the movies with him because he was a cripple, although I was one of the most popular girls on the block.
So when I got into trouble, I didn't know what to do and asked him for the money for an abortion. But he didn't have the money, so we got married instead. It all came through my trusting a dirty dago. I thought he was a gent, but when I asked him to marry me, why he spurned me from the door and wouldn't even give me money for an abortion. He said if he gave me the money that would mean it was his fault and I would have something on him. Did you ever hear of such a skunk?
The life out of which she spoke was even heavier than her body. It was as if a gigantic, living Miss Lonelyhearts letter in the shape of a paper weight had been placed on his brain.
So I looked his name up in the telephone book and took Lucy to see him. As I told him then, not that I wanted anything for myself, but just that I wanted Lucy to get what was coming to her. Well, after keeping us waiting in the hall over an hour--I was boiling mad, I can tell you, thinking of the wrong he had done me and my child--we were taken into the parlor by the butler. Very quiet and lady-like, because money ain't everything and he's no more a gent than I'm a lady, the dirty wop--I told him he ought to do something for Lucy see'n' he's her father.
Well, he had the nerve to say that he had never seen me before and that if I didn't stop bothering him, he'd have me run in. That got me riled and I lit into the bastard and gave him a piece of my mind. A woman came in while we were arguing that I figured was his wife, so I hollered, 'He's the father of my child, he's the father of my child. My husband is a queer guy and he always makes believe that he is the father of the kid and even talks to me about our child. Well, when we got home, Lucy kept asking me why I said a strange man was her papa.
She wanted to know if Doyle wasn't really her papa. I must of been crazy because I told her that she should remember that her real papa was a man named Tony Benelli and that he had wronged me.
I told her a lot of other crap like that--too much movies I guess. Well, when Doyle got home the first thing Lucy says to him is that he ain't her papa. That got him sore and he wanted to know what I had told her. I didn't like his high falutin' ways and said, The truth.
He went for me and hit me one on the cheek. I wouldn't let no man get away with that so I socked back and he swung at me with his stick but missed and fell on the floor and started to cry.
The kid was on the floor crying too and that set me off because the next thing I know I'm on the floor bawling too. What girl wants to spend her life with a shrimp of a cripple?
She rewarded him with a kiss, then dragged him to the bed. Doyle left, Miss Lonelyhearts became physically sick and was unable to leave his room.
The first two days of his illness were blotted out by sleep, but on the third day, his imagination began again to work. He found himself in the window of a pawnshop full of fur coats, diamond rings, watches, shotguns, fishing tackle, mandolins. All these things were the paraphernalia of suffering.
A tortured high light twisted on the blade of a gift knife, a battered horn grunted with pain. He sat in the window thinking. Man has a tropism for order. Keys in one pocket, change in another. Mandolins are tuned G D A E. The physical world has a tropism for disorder, entropy.
Man against Nature Keys yearn to mix with change. Mandolins strive to get out of tune. Every order has within it the germ of destruction. All order is doomed, yet the battle is worth while. First he formed a phallus of old watches and rubber boots, then a heart of umbrellas and trout flies, then a diamond of musical instruments and derby hats, after these a circle, triangle, square, swastika. But nothing proved definitive and he began to make a gigantic cross.
When the cross became too large for the pawnshop, he moved it to the shore of the ocean. There every wave added to his stock faster than he could lengthen its arms. His labors were enormous. He staggered from the last wave line to his work, loaded down with marine refuse--bottles, shells, chunks of cork, fish heads, pieces of net.
Drunk with exhaustion, he finally fell asleep. When he awoke, he felt very weak, yet calm. There was a timid knock on the door. It was open and Betty tiptoed into the room with her arms full of bundles. He made believe that he was asleep.
Startled, she turned to explain. When he had finished eating, she opened the window and freshened the bed. As soon as the room was in order, she started to leave, but he called her back. Why don't you give it up?
And even if I were to quit, it wouldn't make any difference. I wouldn't be able to forget the letters, no matter what I did. Let's start from the beginning.
A man is hired to give advice to the readers of a newspaper. The job is a circulation stunt and the whole staff considers it a joke. He welcomes the job, for it might lead to a gossip column, and anyway he's tired of being a leg man. He too considers the job a joke, but after several months at it, the joke begins to escape him. He sees that the majority of the letters are profoundly humble pleas for moral and spiritual advice, that they are inarticulate expressions of genuine suffering. He also discovers that his correspondents take him seriously.
For the first time in his life, he is forced to examine the values by which he lives. This examination shows him that he is the victim of the joke and not its perpetrator. He closed his eyes. I'm just tired of talking, you talk a while. She said that he ought to live there and that if he did, he would find that all his troubles were city troubles. While she was talking, Shrike burst into the room.
He was drunk and immediately set up a great shout, as though he believed that Miss Lonelyhearts was too near death to hear distinctly. Betty left without saying good-by. Shrike had evidently caught some of her farm talk, for he said: "My friend, I agree with Betty, you're an escapist.
But I do not agree that the soil is the proper method for you to use. But Shrike was unescapable. He raised his voice and talked through the blankets into the back of Miss Lonelyhearts' head. But first let us do the escape to the soil, as recommended by Betty: "You are fed up with the city and its teeming millions.
The ways and means of men, as getting and lending and spending, you lay waste your inner world, are too much with you. The bus takes too long, while the subway is always crowded. So what do you do? So you buy a farm and walk behind your horse's moist behind, no collar or tie, plowing your broad swift acres. As you turn up the rich black soil, the wind carries the smell of pine and dung across the fields and the rhythm of an old, old work enters your soul. To this rhythm, you sow and weep and chivy your kine, not kin or kind, between the pregnant rows of corn and taters.
Your step becomes the heavy sexual step of a dance-drunk Indian and you tread the seed down into the female earth. You plant, not dragon's teeth, but beans and greens He was thinking of how Shrike had accelerated his sickness by teaching him to handle his one escape, Christ, with a thick glove of words.
I agree with you. Such a life is too dull and laborious. Let us now consider the South Seas: "You live in a thatch hut with the daughter of the king, u slim young maiden in whose eyes is an ancient wisdom. I Her breasts are golden speckled pears, her belly a melon, and her odor is like nothing so much as a jungle fern. In the evening, on the blue lagoon, under the silvery moon, to your love you croon in the soft sylabelew and vocabelew of her langorour tongorour. Your body is golden brown like hers, and tourists have need of the indignant finger of the missionary to point you out.
They envy you your breech clout and carefree laugh and little brown bride and fingers instead of forks. But you don't return their envy, and when a beautiful society girl comes to your hut in the night, seeking to learn the secret of your happiness, you send her back to her yacht that hangs on the horizon like a nervous racehorse. And so you dream away the days, fishing, hunting, dancing, swimming, kissing, and picking flowers to twine in your hair But Shrike was not fooled.
The South Seas are played out and there's little use in imitating Gauguin. But don't be discouraged, we have only scratched the surface of our subject. Let us now examine Hedonism, or take the cash and let the credit go No over-indulgence, mind you, but knowing that your body is a pleasure machine, you treat it carefully in order to get the most out of it. Nor do you neglect the pleasures of the mind.
You fornicate under pictures by Matisse and Picasso, you drink from Renaissance glassware, and often you spend an evening beside the fireplace with Proust and an apple. Alas, after much good fun the day comes when you realize that soon you must die. You keep a stiff upper lip and decide to give a last party.
You invite all your old mistresses, trainers, artists and boon companions. The guests are dressed in black, the waiters are coons, the table is a coffin carved for you by Eric Gill.
You serve caviar and blackberries and licorice candy and coffee without cream. After the dancing girls have finished, you get to your feet and call for silence in order to explain your philosophy of life. So even if the cards are cold and marked by the hand of fate, play up, play up like a gentleman and a sport.
Get tanked, grab what's on the buffet, use the girls upstairs, but remember, when you throw box cars, take the curtain like a dead game sport, don't squawk.
You haven't the money, nor are you stupid enough to manage it. But we come now to one that should suit you much better Be an artist or a writer. When you are cold, warm yourself before the flaming tints of Titian, when you are hungry, nourish yourself with great spiritual foods by listening to the noble periods of Bach, the harmonies of Brahms and the thunder of Beethoven.
Do you think there is anything in the fact that their names all begin with B? But don't take a chance, smoke a 3 B pipe, and remember these immortal lines: When to the suddenness of melody the echo parting falls the failing day. What a rhythm! Tell them to keep their society whores and pressed duck with oranges. For you l'art vivant, the living art, as you call it. Tell them that you know that your shoes are broken and that there are pimples on your face, yes, and that you have buck teeth and a club foot, but that you don't care, for to-morrow they are playing Beethoven's last quartets in Carnegie Hall and at home you have Shakespeare's plays in one volume.
When he had finished with them, he came to what he said was the goal of his lecture. We are not men who swallow camels only to strain at stools. God alone is our escape. And so, my good friend, let me dictate a letter to Christ for you: Dear Miss Lonelyhearts of Miss Lonelyhearts-- I am twenty-six years old and in the newspaper game. Life for me is a desert empty of comfort.
I cannot find pleasure in food, drink, or women--nor do the arts give me joy any longer. The Leopard of Discontent walks the streets of my city; the Lion of Discouragement crouches outside the walls of my citadel. All is desolation and a vexation of the spirit. I feel like hell. How can. I believe, how can I have faith in this day and age? Is it true that the greatest scientists believe again in you? I read your column and like it very much.
There you once wrote: 'When the salt has lost its savour, who shall savour it again? With her she brought soup and boiled chicken for him to eat. Hie knew that she believed he did not want to get well, yet he followed her instructions because he realized that his present sickness was unimportant.
It was merely a trick by his body to relieve one more profound. Whenever he mentioned the letters or Christ, she changed the subject to tell long stories about life on a farm. She seemed to think that if he never talked about these things, his body would get well, that if his body got well everything would be well. He began to realize that there was a definite plan behind her farm talk, but could not guess what it was. When the first day of spring arrived, he felt better.
He had already spent more than a week in bed and was anxious to get out. Betty took him for a walk in the zoo and he was amused by her evident belief in the curative power of animals. She seemed to think that it must steady him to look at a buffalo. He wanted to go back to work, but she made him get Shrike to extend his sick leave a few days. He was grateful to her and did as she asked. She then told him her plan. Her aunt still owned the farm in Connecticut on which she had been born and they could go there and camp in the house.
She borrowed an old Ford touring car from a friend. They loaded it with food and equipment and started out early one morning. As soon as they reached the outskirts of the city, Betty began to act like an excited child, greeting the trees and grass with delight. After they had passed through New Haven, they came to Bramford and turned off the State highway on a dirt road that led to Monkstown.
The road went through a wild-looking stretch of woods and they saw some red squirrels and a partridge. He had to admit, even to himself, that the pale new leaves, shaped and colored like candle flames, were beautiful and that the air smelt clean and alive.
There was a pond on the farm and they caught sight of it through the trees just before coming to the house. She did not have the key so they had to force the door open. The heavy, musty smell of old furniture and wood rot made them cough. He complained. Betty said that she did not mind because it was not a human smell. She put so much meaning into the word "human" that he laughed and kissed her. They decided to camp in the kitchen because it was the largest room and the least crowded with old furniture.
There were four windows and a door and they opened them all to air the place out. While he unloaded the car, she swept up and made a fire in the stove out of a broken chair. The stove looked like a locomotive and was almost as large, but the chimney drew all right and she soon had a fire going.
He got some water from the well and put it on the stove to boil.
When the water was scalding hot, they used it to clean an old mattress that they had found in one of the bedrooms. Then they put the mattress out in the sun to dry. It was almost sundown before Betty would let him stop working. He sat smoking a cigarette, while she prepared supper.
They had beans, eggs, bread, fruit and drank two cups of coffee apiece. After they had finished eating, there was still some light left and they went down to look at the pond. They sat close together with their backs against a big oak and watched a heron hunt frogs.
Just as they were about to start back, two deer and a fawn came down to the water on the opposite side of the pond. The flies were bothering them and they went into the water and began to feed on the lily pads. Betty accidentally made a noise and the deer floundered back into the woods. When they returned to the house, it was quite dark. They lit the kerosene lamp that they had brought with them, then dragged the mattress into the kitchen and made their bed on the floor next to the stove.
Before going to bed, they went out on the kitchen porch to smoke a last cigarette. It was very cold and he had to go back for a blanket. They sat close together with the blanket wrapped around them. There were plenty of stars.
A screech owl made a horrible racket somewhere in the woods and when it quit, a loon began down on the pond. The crickets made almost as much noise as the loon. Even with the blanket around them it was cold. They went inside and made a big fire in the stove, using pieces of a hardwood table to make the fire last.
They each ate an apple, then put on their pajamas and went to bed. He fondled her, but when she said that she was a virgin, he let her alone and went to sleep. He woke up with the sun in his eyes. Betty was already busy at the stove. She sent him down to the pond to wash and when he got back, breakfast was ready. It consisted of eggs, ham, potatoes, fried apples, bread and coffee. After breakfast, she worked at making the place more comfortable and he drove to Monkstown for some fresh fruit and the newspapers.
He stopped for gas at the Aw-Kum-On Garage and told the attendant about the deer. The man said that there was still plenty of deer at the pond because no yids ever went there. He said it wasn't the hunters who drove out the deer, but the yids. He got back to the house in time for lunch and, after eating, they went for a walk in the woods. It was very sad under the trees. Although spring was well advanced, in the deep shade there was nothing but death--rotten leaves, gray and white fungi, and over everything a funereal hush.
Later it grew very hot and they decided to go for a swim. They went in naked. The water was so cold that they could only stay in for a short time.
They ran back to the house and took a quick drink of gin, then sat in a sunny spot on the kitchen porch. Betty was unable to sit still for long. There was nothing to do in the house, so she began to wash the underwear she had worn on the trip up. After she had finished, she rigged a line between two trees.
He sat on the porch and watched her work. She had her hair tied up in a checked handkerchief, otherwise she was completely naked. She looked a little fat, but when she lifted something to the line, all the fat disappeared. Her raised arms pulled her breasts up until they were like pink-tipped thumbs.