Direktlänk till inlägg 6 juni 2011

no suspicion

Av kaceyhanxu kaceyhanxu - 6 juni 2011 06:48

He grunted, keeping his eyes on the road. "Tell me what happens," she said. "I know I won't get to finish it; we'll be in Denver pretty soon. Do America and Britain get into a war, and one emerges as ruler of the world?" Presently Joe said, "In some ways it's not a bad book. He works all the details out; the U.S has the Pacific, about like our East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. They divide Russia. It works for around ten years. Then there's trouble -- naturally." "Why naturally?" "Human nature." Joe added, "Nature of states. Suspicion, fear, greed. Churchill thinks the U.S.A is undermining British rule in South Asia by appealing to the large Chinese populations, who naturally are pro-U.S.A., due to Chiang Kai-shek. The British start setting up" -- he grinned at her briefly -- "what are called 'detention preserves.' Concentration camps, in other words. For thousands of maybe disloyal Chinese. They're accused of sabotage and propaganda. Churchill is so --" "You mean he's still in power? Wouldn't he be around ninety?" Joe said, "That's where the British system has it over the American. Every eight years the U.S boots out its leaders, no matter how qualified -- but Churchill just stays on. The U.S doesn't have any leadership like him, after Tugwell. Just nonentities. And the older he gets, the more autocratic and rigid he gets -- Churchill, I mean. Until by 1960, he's like some old warlord out of Central Asia; nobody can cross him. He's been in power twenty years." "Good God," she said, leafing through the last part of the book, searching for verification of what Joe was saying. "On that I agree," Joe said. "Churchill was the one good leader the British had during the war; if they'd retained him they'd have been better off. I tell you; a state is no better than its leader. Fuhrerprinzip - Principle of Leadership, like the Nazis say. They're right. Even this Abendsen has to face that. Sure, the U.S.A expands economically after winning the war over Japan, because it's got that huge market in Asia that it's wrested from the Japs. But that's not enough; that's got no spirituality. Not that the British have. They're both plutocracies, rule by the rich. If they had won, all they'd have thought about was making more money, that upper class. Abendsen, he's wrong; there would be no social reform, no welfare public works plans -- the Anglo-Saxon plutocrats wouldn't have permitted it." Juliana thought, Spoken like a devout Fascist. Evidently Joe perceived by her expression what she was thinking; he turned toward her, slowing the car, one eye on her, one on the cars ahead. "Listen, I'm not an intellectual. Fascism has no need of that. What is wanted is the deed. Theory derives from action. What our corporate state demands from us is comprehension of the social forces of history. You see? I tell you; I know, Juliana." His tone was earnest, almost beseeching. "Those old rotten money-run empires, Britain and France and U.S.A., although the latter actually a sort of bastard sideshoot, not strictly empire, but money-oriented even so. They had no soul, so naturally no future. No growth. Nazis a bunch of street thugs; I agree. You agree? Right?" She had to smile; his Italian mannerisms had overpowered him in his attempt to drive and make his speech simultaneously. "Abendsen talks like it's big issue as to whether U.S or Britain ultimately wins out. Bull! Has no merit, no history to it. Six of one, dozen of other. You ever read what the Duce wrote? Inspired. Beautiful man. Beautiful writing. Explains the underlying actuality of every event. Real issue in war was: old versus new. Money -- that's why Nazis dragged Jewish question mistakenly into it -- versus communal mass spirit, what Nazis call Gemeinschaft -- folkness. Like Soviet. Commune. Right? Only, Communists sneaked in Pan-Slavic Peter the Great empire ambitions along with it, made social reform means for imperial ambitions." Juliana thought, Like Mussolini did. Exactly. "Nazi thuggery a tragedy," Joe stuttered away as he passed a slow-moving truck. "But change's always harsh on the loser. Nothing new. Look at previous revolutions such as French. Or Cromwell against Irish. Too much philosophy in Germanic temperament; too much theater, too. All those rallies. You never find true Fascist talking, only doing -- like me. Right?" Laughing, she said, "God, you've been talking a mile a minute." He shouted excitedly, "I'm explaining Fascist theory of action!" She couldn't answer; it was too funny. But the man beside her did not think it was funny; he glowered at her, his face red. Veins in his forehead became distended and he began once more to shake. And again he passed his fingers clutchingly along his scalp, forward and back, not speaking, only staring at her. "Don't get sore at me," she said. For a moment she thought he was going to hit her; he drew his arm back. . . but then he grunted, reached and turned up the car radio. They drove on. Band music from the radio, static. Once more she tried to concentrate on the book. "You're right," Joe said after a long time. "About what?" "Two-bit empire. Clown for a leader. No wonder we got nothing out of the war." She patted his arm. "Juliana, it's all darkness," Joe said. "Nothing is true or certain. Right?" "Maybe so," she said absently, continuing to try to read. "Britain wins," Joe said, indicating the book. "I save you the trouble. U.S dwindles, Britain keeps needling and poking and expanding, keeps the initiative. So put it away." "I hope we have fun in Denver," she said, closing the book. "You need to relax. I want you to." If you don't, she thought, you're going to fly apart in a million pieces. Like a bursting spring. And what happens to me, then? How do I get back? And do I just leave you? I want the good time you promised me, she thought. I don't want to be cheated; I've been cheated too much in my life before, by too many people. "We'll have it," Joe said. "Listen." He studied her with a queer, introspective expression. "You take to that Grasshopper book so much; I wonder -- do you suppose a man who writes a best seller, an author like that Abendsen, do people write letters to him? I bet lots of people praise his book by letters to him, maybe even visit." All at once she understood. "Joe -- it's only another hundred miles!" His eyes shone; he smiled at her, happy again, no longer flushed or troubled. "We could!" she said. "You drive so good -- it'd be nothing to go on up there, would it?" Slowly, Joe said, "Well, I doubt a famous man lets visitors drop in. Probably so many of them." "Why not try? Joe --" She grabbed his shoulder, squeezed him excitedly. "All he could do is send us away. Please." With great deliberation, Joe said, "When we've gone shopping and got new clothes, all spruced up. . . that's important, to make a good impression. And maybe even rent a new car up in Cheyenne. Bet you can do that." "Yes," she said. "And you need a haircut. And let me pick your clothes; please, Joe. I used to pick Frank's clothes for him; a man can never buy his own clothes." "You got good taste in clothes," Joe said, once more turning toward the road ahead, gazing out somberly. "In other ways, too. Better if you call him. Contact him." "I'll get my hair done," she said. "Good." "I'm not scared at all to walk up and ring the bell," Juliana said. "I mean, you live only once. Why should we be intimidated? He's just a man like the rest of us. In fact, he probably would be pleased to know somebody drove so far just to tell him how much they liked his book. We can get an autograph on the book, on the inside where they do that. Isn't that so? We better buy a new copy; this one is all stained. It wouldn't look good." "Anything you want," Joe said. "I'll let you decide all the details; I know you can do it. Pretty girl always gets everyone; when he sees what a knockout you are he'll open the door wide. But listen; no monkey business." "What do you mean?" "You say we're married. I don't want you getting mixed up with him -- you know. That would be dreadful. Wreck everyone's existence; some reward for him to let visitors in, some irony. So watch it, Juliana." "You can argue with him," Juliana said. "That part about Italy losing the war by betraying them; tell him what you told me." Joe nodded. "That's so. We can discuss the whole subject." They drove swiftly on. At seven o'clock the following morning, PSA reckoning, Mr. Nobusuke Tagomi rose from bed, started toward the bathroom, then changed his mind and went directly to the oracle. Seated cross-legged on the floor of his living room he began manipulating the forty-nine yarrow stalks. He had a deep sense of the urgency of his questioning, and he worked at a feverish pace until at last he had the six lines before him. Shock! Hexagram Fifty-one! God appears in the sign of the Arousing. Thunder and lightning. Sounds -- he involuntarily put his fingers up to cover his ears. Ha-ha! Ho-ho! Great burst that made him wince and blink. Lizard scurries and tiger roars, and out comes God Himself! What does it mean? He peered about his living room. Arrival of -- what? He hopped to his feet and stood panting, waiting. Nothing. Heart pounding. Respiration and all somatic processes, including all manner of diencephalic-controlled autonomic responses to crisis: adrenalin, greater heartbeat, pulse rate, glands pouring, throat paralyzed, eyes staring, bowels loose, et al. Stomach queasy and sex instinct suppressed.

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Weren't you going to let me read that?" she asked. "Maybe while I drive," Joe said, without looking up. "You're going to drive? But it's my car!" He said nothing; he merely went on reading. At the cash register, Robert Childan looked up to see a lean, tall, dark-haired man entering the store. The man wore a slightly less-than-fashionable suit and carried a large wicker hamper. Salesman. Yet he did not have the cheerful smile; instead, he had a grim, morose look on his leathery face. More like a plumber or an electrician, Robert Childan thought. When he had finished with his customer, Childan called to the man, "Who do you represent?" "Edfrank Jewelry," the man mumbled back. He had set his hamper down on one of the counters. "Never heard of them." Childan sauntered over as the man unfastened the top of the hamper and with much wasted motion opened it. "Handwrought. Each unique. Each an original. Brass, copper, silver. Even hot-forged black iron." Childan glanced into the hamper. Metal on black velvet, peculiar. "No thanks. Not in my line." "This represents American artistry. Contemporary." Shaking his head no, Childan walked back to the cash register. For a time the man stood fooling with his velvet display boards and hamper. He was neither taking the boards out nor putting them back; he seemed to have no idea what he was doing. His arms folded, Childan watched, thinking about various problems of the day. At two he had an appointment to show some early period cups. Then at three -- another batch of items returning from the Cal labs, home from their authenticity test. He had been having more and more pieces examined, in the last couple of weeks. Ever since the nasty incident with the Colt .44. "These are not plated," the man with the wicker hamper said, holding up a cuff bracelet. "Solid copper." Childan nodded without answering. The man would hang around for a while, shuffle his samples about, but finally he would move on. The telephone rang. Childan answered it. Customer inquiring about an ancient rocking chair, very valuable, which Childan was having mended for him. It had not been finished, and Childan had to tell a convincing story. Staring through the store window at the midday traffic, he soothed and reassured. At last the customer, somewhat appeased, rang off. No doubt about it, he thought as he hung up the phone. The Colt .44 affair had shaken him considerably. He no longer viewed his stock with the same reverence. Bit of knowledge like that goes a long way. Akin to primal childhood awakening; facts of life. Shows, he ruminated, the link with our early years: not merely U.S history involved, but our own personal. As if, he thought, question might arise as to authenticity of our birth certificate. Or our impression of Dad. Maybe I don't actually recall F.D.R as example. Synthetic image distilled from hearing assorted talk. Myth implanted subtly in tissue of brain. Like, he thought, myth of Hepplewhite. Myth of Chippendale. Or rather more on lines of Abraham Lincoln ate here. Used this old silver knife, fork, spoon. You can't see it, but the fact remains. At the other counter, still fumbling with his displays and wicker hamper, the salesman said, "We can make pieces to order. Custom made. If any of your customers have their own ideas." His voice had a strangled quality; he cleared his throat, gazing at Childan and then down at a piece of jewelry which he held. He did not know how to leave, evidently. Childan smiled and said nothing. Not my responsibility. His, to get himself back out of here. Place saved or no. Tough, such discomfort. But he doesn't have to be salesman. We all suffer in this life. Look at me. Taking it all day from Japs such as Mr. Tagomi. By merest inflection manage to rub my nose in it, make my life miserable. And then an idea occurred to him. Fellow's obviously not experienced. Look at him. Maybe I can get some stuff on consignment. Worth a try. "Hey," Childan said. The man glanced up swiftly, fastened his gaze. Advancing toward him, his arms still folded, Childan said, "Looks like a quiet half hour, here. No promises, but you can lay some of those things out. Clear back those racks of ties." He pointed. Nodding, the man began to clear himself a space on the top of the counter. He reopened his hamper, once more fumbled with the velvet trays. He'll lay everything out, Childan knew. Arrange it painstakingly for the next hour. Fuss and adjust until he's got it all set up. Hoping. Praying. Watching me out of the corner of his eye every second. To see if I'm taking any interest. Any at all. "When you have it out," Childan said, "if I'm not too busy I'll take a look." The man worked feverishly, as if he had been stung. Several customers entered the store then, and Childan greeted them. He turned his attention to them and their wishes, and forgot the salesman laboring over his display. The salesman, recognizing the situation, became stealthy in his movements; he made himself inconspicuous. Childan sold a shaving mug, almost sold a hand-hooked rug, took a deposit on an afghan. Time passed. At last the customers left. Once more the store was empty except for himself and the salesman. The salesman had finished. His entire selection of jewelry lay arranged on the black velvet on the surface of the counter. Going leisurely over, Robert Childan lit a Land-O-Smiles and stood rocking back and forth on his heels, humming beneath his breath. The salesman stood silently. Neither spoke. At last Childan reached out and pointed at a pin. "I like that." The salesman said in a rapid voice, "That's a good one. You won't find any wire brush scratches. All rouge-finished. And it won't tarnish. We have a plastic lacquer sprayed on them that'll last for years. It's the best industrial lacquer available." Childan nodded slightly. "What we've done here," the salesman said, "is to adapt tried and proven industrial techniques to jewelry making. As far as I know, nobody has ever done it before. No molds. All metal to metal. Welding and brazing." He paused. "The backs are hand-soldered." Childan picked up two bracelets. Then a pin. Then another pin. He held them for a moment, then set them off to one side. The salesman's face twitched. Hope. Examining the price tag on a necklace, Childan said, "Is this --" "Retail. Your price is fifty percent of that. And you buy say around a hundred dollars or so, we give you an additional two percent." One by one Childan laid several more pieces aside. With each additional one, the salesman became more agitated; he talked faster and faster, finally repeating himself, even saying meaningless foolish things, all in an undertone and very urgently. He really thinks he's going to sell, Childan knew. By his own expression he showed nothing; he went on with the game of picking pieces. "That's an especially good one," the salesman was rambling on, as Childan fished out a large pendant and then ceased. "I think you got our best. All our best." The man laughed. "You really have good taste." His eyes darted. He was adding in his mind what Childan had chosen. The total of the sale. Childan said, "Our policy, with untried merchandise, has to be consignment." For a few seconds the salesman did not understand. He stopped his talking, but he stared without comprehension. Childan smiled at him. "Consignment," the salesman echoed at last. "Would you prefer not to leave it?" Childan said. Stammering, the man finally said, "You mean I leave it and you pay me later on when --" "You get two-thirds of the proceeds. When the pieces sell. That way you make much more. You have to wait, of course, but --" Childan shrugged. "It's up to you. I can give it some window display, possibly. And if it moves, then possibly later on, in a month or so, with the next order -- well, we might see our way clear to buy some outright." The salesman had now spent well over an hour showing his wares, Childan realized. And he had everything out. All his displays disarranged and dismantled. Another hour's work to get it back ready to take somewhere else. There was silence. Neither man spoke. "Those pieces you put to one side --" the salesman said in a low voice. "They're the ones you want?" "Yes. I'll let you leave them all." Childan strolled over to his office in the rear of the store. "I'll write up a tag. So you'll have a record of what you've left with me." As he came back with his tag book he added, "You understand that when merchandise is left on a consignment basis the store doesn't assume liability in case of theft or damage." He had a little mimeographed release for the salesman to sign. The store would never have to account for the items left. When the unsold portion was returned, if some could not be located -- they must have been stolen, Childan declared to himself. There's always theft going on in stores. Especially small items like jewelry. There was no way that Robert Childan could lose. He did not have to pay for this man's jewelry; he had no investment in this kind of inventory. If any of it sold he made a profit, and if it did not, he simply returned it all -- or as much as could be found -- to the salesman at some vague later date. Childan made out the tag, listing the items. He signed it and gave a copy to the salesman. "You can give me a call," he said, "in a month or so. To find out how it's been doing." Taking the jewelry which he wanted he went off to the back of the store, leaving the salesman to gather up his remaining stuff. I didn"t think he'd go along with it, he thought. You never know. That's why it's always worth trying. When he next looked up, he saw that the salesman was ready to leave. He had his wicker hamper under his arm and the counter was clear. The salesman was coming toward him, holding something out. "Yes?" Childan said. He had been going over some correspondence. "I want to leave our card." The salesman put down an odd-looking little square of gray and red paper on Childan's desk. "Edfrank Custom Jewelry. It has our address and phone number. In case you want to get in touch with us." Childan nodded, smiled silently, and returned to his work. When next he paused and looked up the store was empty. The salesman had gone. Putting a nickel into the wall dispenser, Childan obtained a cup of hot instant tea which he sipped contemplatively. I wonder if it will sell, he wondered. Very unlikely. But it is well made. And one never sees anything like it. He examined one of the pins. Quite striking design. Certainly not amateurs. I'll change the tags. Mark them up a lot higher. Push the handmade angle. And the uniqueness. Custom originals. Small sculptures. Wear a work of art. Exclusive creation on your lapel or wrist. And there was another notion circulating and growing in the back of Robert Childan's mind. With these, there's no problem of authenticity. And that problem may someday wreck the historic American artifacts industry. Not today or tomorrow -- but after that, who knows. Better not to have all irons in one fire. That visit by that Jewish crook; that might be the harbinger. If I quietly build up a stock of nonhistoric objects, contemporary work with no historicity either real or imagined, I might find I have the edge over the competition. And as long as it isn't costing me anything. Leaning back his chair so that it rested against the wall he sipped his tea and pondered. The Moment changes. One must be ready to change with it. Or otherwise left high and dry. Adapt. The rule of survival, he thought. Keep eye peeled regarding situation around you. Learn its demands. And meet them. Be there at the right time doing the right thing. Be yinnish. The Oriental knows. The smart black yinnish eyes. Suddenly he had a good idea; it made him sit upright instantly. Two birds, one stone. Ah. He hopped to his feet, excited. Carefully wrap best of jewelry pieces (removing tag, of course). Pin, pendant, or bracelet. Something nice, anyhow. Then -- since have to leave shop, close up at two as it is -- saunter over to Kasouras' apartment building. Mr. Kasouras, Paul, will be at work. However, Mrs. Kasoura, Betty, will very likely be home. Graft gift, this new original U.S artwork. Compliments of myself personally, in order to obtain high-place reaction. This is how a new line is introduced. Isn't it lovely? Whole selection back at store; drop in, etc. This one for you, Betty. He trembled. Just she and I, midday in the apartment. Husband off at work. All on up and up, however; brilliant pretext. Airtight! Getting a small box plus wrapping paper and ribbon, Robert Childan began preparing a gift for Mrs. Kasoura. Dark, attractive woman, slender in her silk Oriental dress, high heels, and so on. Or maybe today blue cotton cooliestyle lounging pajamas, very light and comfortable and informal. Ah, he thought. Or is this too bold? Husband Paul becoming irked. Scenting out and reacting badly. Perhaps go slower; take gift to him, to his office? Give much the same story, but to him. Then let him give gift to her; no suspicion. And, Robert Childan thought, then I give Betty a call on the phone tomorrow or next day to get her reaction. Even more airtight! When Frank Frink saw his business partner coming back up the sidewalk he could tell that it had not gone well. "What happened?" he said, taking the wicker hamper from Ed and putting it in the truck. "Jesus Christ, you were gone an hour and a half. It took him that long to say no?" Ed said, "He didn't say no." He looked tired. He got into the truck and sat. "What'd he say, then?" Opening the hamper, Frink saw that a good many of the pieces were gone. Many of their best. "He took a lot. What's the matter, then?" "Consignment," Ed said. "You let him?" He could not believe it. "We talked it over --" "I don't know how come." "Christ," Frink said. "I'm sorry. He acted like he was going to buy it. He picked a lot out. I thought he was buying."


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