Of Mice and Men

Page 15


Whit laughed. “Well, ya come on a Friday. You got two days to work till Sunday.”
“I don’t see how you figure,” said George.
Whit laughed again. “You do if you been around these big ranches much. Guy that wants to look over a ranch comes in Sat’day afternoon. He gets Sat’day night supper an’ three meals on Sunday, and he can quit Monday mornin’ after breakfast without turning his hand. But you come to work Friday noon. You got to put in a day an’ a half no matter how you figure.”
George looked at him levelly. “We’re gonna stick aroun’ a while,” he said. “Me an’ Lennie’s gonna roll up a stake.”
The door opened quietly and the stable buck put in his head; a lean negro head, lined with pain, the eyes patient. “Mr. Slim.”
Slim took his eyes from old Candy. “Huh? Oh! Hello, Crooks. What’s’ a matter?”
“You told me to warm up tar for that mule’s foot. I got it warm.”
“Oh! Sure, Crooks. I’ll come right out an’ put it on.”
“I can do it if you want, Mr. Slim.”
“No. I’ll come do it myself.” He stood up.
Crooks said, “Mr. Slim.”
“That big new guy’s messin’ around your pups out in the barn.”
“Well, he ain’t doin’ no harm. I give him one of them pups.”
“Just thought I’d tell ya,” said Crooks. “He’s takin’ ‘em outa the nest and handlin’ them. That won’t do them no good.”
“He won’t hurt ‘em,” said Slim. “I’ll come along with you now.”
George looked up. “If that crazy bastard’s foolin’ around too much, jus’ kick him out, Slim.”
Slim followed the stable buck out of the room.
George dealt and Whit picked up his cards and examined them. “Seen the new kid yet?” he asked.
“What kid?” George asked.
“Why, Curley’s new wife.”
“Yeah, I seen her.”
“Well, ain’t she a looloo?”
“I ain’t seen that much of her,” said George.
Whit laid down his cards impressively. “Well, stick around an’ keep your eyes open. You’ll see plenty. She ain’t concealin’ nothing. I never seen nobody like her. She got the eye goin’ all the time on everybody. I bet she even gives the stable buck the eye. I don’t know what the hell she wants.”
George asked casually, “Been any trouble since she got here?”
It was obvious that Whit was not interested in his cards. He laid his hand down and George scooped it in. George laid out his deliberate solitaire hand — seven cards, and six on top, and five on top of those.
Whit said, “I see what you mean. No, they ain’t been nothing yet. Curley’s got yella-jackets in his drawers, but that’s all so far. Ever’ time the guys is around she shows up. She’s lookin’ for Curley, or she thought she lef’ somethin’ layin’ around and she’s lookin’ for it. Seems like she can’t keep away from guys. An’ Curley’s pants is just crawlin’ with ants, but they ain’t nothing come of it yet.”
George said, “She’s gonna make a mess. They’s gonna be a bad mess about her. She’s a jail bait all set on the trigger. That Curley got his work cut out for him. Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain’t no place for a girl, specially like her.”
Whit said, “If you got idears, you oughtta come in town with us guys tomorra night.”
“Why? What’s doin’?”
“Jus’ the usual thing. We go in to old Susy’s place. Hell of a nice place. Old Susy’s a laugh — always crackin’ jokes. Like she says when we come up on the front porch las’ Sat’day night. Susy opens the door and then she yells over her shoulder, ‘Get yor coats on, girls, here comes the sheriff.’ She never talks dirty, neither. Got five girls there.”
“What’s it set you back?” George asked.
“Two an’ a half. You can get a shot for two bits. Susy got nice chairs to set in, too. If a guy don’t want a flop, why he can just set in the chairs and have a couple or three shots and pass the time of day and Susy don’t give a damn. She ain’t rushin’ guys through and kickin’ ‘em out if they don’t want a flop.”
“Might go in and look the joint over,” said George.
“Sure. Come along. It’s a hell of a lot of fun — her crackin’ jokes all the time. Like she says one time, she says, ‘I’ve knew people that if they got a rag rug on the floor an’ a kewpie doll lamp on the phonograph they think they’re running a parlor house.’ That’s Clara’s house she’s talkin’ about. An’ Susy says, ‘I know what you boys want,’ she says. ‘My girls is clean,’ she says, ‘an’ there ain’t no water in my whisky,’ she says. ‘If any you guys wanta look at a kewpie doll lamp an’ take your own chance gettin’ burned, why you know where to go.’ An’ she says, ‘There’s guys around here walkin’ bow-legged ‘cause they like to look at a kewpie doll lamp.’”
George asked, “Clara runs the other house, huh?”
“Yeah,” said Whit. “We don’t never go there. Clara gets three bucks a crack and thirty-five cents a shot, and she don’t crack no jokes. But Susy’s place is clean and she got nice chairs. Don’t let no goo-goos in, neither.”