Ancient History: A Paraphase
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An uninvited guest, entering the empty New York apartment of a man known to intimates as "Dom," proceeds to write for his absent host a curious confession. Its close accounts of friendship since boyhood with two men surely unknown to Dom and certainly to each other is interleaved with the story of Dom himself.
around more that summer; and if I didn’t know just how to treat her I figured she didn’t know how I should either. At least, I was much taller than she. Al caught up on me during the winter, but the next summer when I turned twelve the bridge of Gail’s nose still came just to my mouth. You know—like some ideal listener, Dom—that I could describe her if I chose, locate exactly the two raisin moles dropped as if on caressing perpendiculars each side of her collar-bone about halfway to each hidden
Standing on your mat, I swear that for the long moment during which I looked to my right to check on the nervous woman, somehow your apartment watched. I turned your knob, pushed, and stepped in. The Irish voice said you did it yourself, I’m sure that’s what it said. How can I begin to take the measure of this living room of yours? With my story of Al and Bob? I came to see you tonight just in time to see you carried away, if that navy-blue form was you. But at least your place was open, and
either, nor during our not entirely happy evening there. So I’ll simply have to tell you, Dom. Or what’s relevant, anyway. Over my left shoulder is that giant painting of your face which I need not describe; but I would like to know what time it is. I had indeed told Al there was an encyclopedia at the Old Blacksmith Shop; and partly because I hadn’t been around most of that summer of ’45, I had a hunch he’d quietly act on my information. He was making six dollars a day suckering corn. I did
kitchens, and johns that interested you. My opening had worked, but as Al and I entered it—I aware of the busy spindles behind us, he (I think) not—I was again unsure I’d discovered just what, in our joint past, was bugging him. All this matters, Dom. All confessions are fantastically banal—even how I may have mildly affected your end; even how I got together that equation whose form Pappy Pound’s gratuitous news had shown me I ought now to seek. Al sat up straight and said Annette was phoning
the space of that one accidental phone conversation with Al, it seemed Tracy had tied me up in my own words and given me away; been fond to Al so he woke up enough to worry that my mother might not be home yet and might walk in and see him in his skivvies; and given Al an acceptable reason for my not bringing him along to the party he thought was at the Vande Lands’. Most puzzling of all was that the next morning Al had not merely not reported the phone call from Tracy, he hadn’t denied what she