Книга The Adventures Of Sam Spade. Содержание - His brother s keeper


I KNEW what a lot of people said about Loney but he was always swell to me. Ever since I remember he was swell to me and I guess I would have liked him just as much even if he had been just somebody else instead of my brother; but I was glad he was not just somebody else.

He was not like me. He was slim and would have looked swell in any kind of clothes you put on him, only he always dressed classy and looked like he had stepped right out of the bandbox even when he was just loafing around the house, and he had slick hair and the whitest teeth you ever saw and long, thin, clean-looking fingers. He looked like the way I remembered my father, only better-looking. I took more after Ma's folks, the Malones, which was funny because Loney was the one that was named after them. Malone Bolan. He was smart as they make them, too. It was no use trying to put anything over on him and maybe that was what some people had against him, only that was kind of hard to fit in with Pete Gonzalez.

Pete Gonzalez not liking Loney used to bother me sometimes because he was a swell guy, too, and he was never trying to put anything over on anybody. He had two fighters and a wrestler named Kilchak and he always sent them in to do the best they could, just like Loney sent me in. He was the topnotch manager in our part of the country and a lot of people said there was no better anywhere, so I felt pretty good about him wanting to handle me, even if I did say no.

It was in the hall leaving Tubby White's gym that I ran into him that afternoon and he said, “Hello, Kid, how's it?” moving his cigar further over in a corner of his mouth so he could talk.

“Hello. All right.”

He looked me up and down, squinting on account of the smoke from his cigar. “Going to take this guy Saturday?”

“I guess so.”

He looked me up and down again like he was weighing me in. His eyes were little enough anyhow and when he squinted like that you could hardly see them at all. “How old are you, Kid?”

“Going on nineteen.”

“And you'll weigh about a hundred and sixty,” he said.

“Sixty-seven and a half. I'm growing pretty fast.”

“Ever see this guy you're fighting Saturday?”


“He's plenty tough.”

I grinned and said, “I guess he is.”

“And plenty smart.”

I said, “I guess he is,” again.

He took his cigar out of his mouth and scowled at me and said like he was sore at me, “You know you got no business in the ring with him, don't you?” Before I could think up anything to say he stuck the cigar back in his mouth and his face and his voice changed. “Why don't you let me handle you, Kid? You got the stuff. I'll handle you right, build you up, not use you up, and you'll be good for a long trip.”

“I couldn't do that,” I said. “Loney taught me all I know and—”

“Taught you what?” Pete snarled. He looked mad again. “If you think you been taught anything at all you just take a look at your mug in the next looking-glass you come across.” He took the cigar out of his mouth and spit out a piece of tobacco that had come loose. “Only eighteen years old and ain't been fighting a year and look at the mug on him!”

I felt myself blushing. I guess I was never any beauty but, like Pete said, I had been hit in the face a lot and I guess my face showed it. I said, “Well, of course, I'm not a boxer.”

“And that's the God's truth,” Pete said. “And why ain't you?”

“I don't know. I guess it's just not my way of fighting.”

“You could learn. You're fast and you ain't dumb. What's this stuff getting you? Every week Loney sends you in against some guy you're not ready for yet and you soak up a lot of fists and —”

“I win, don't I?” I said.

“Sure you win—so far—because you're young and tough and got the moxie and can hit, but I wouldn't want to pay for winning what you're paying, and I wouldn't want any of my boys to. I seen kids—maybe “some of them as promising as you—go along the way you're going, and I seen what was left of them a couple years later. Take my word for it, Kid, you'll do better than that with me.”

“Maybe you're right,” I said, “and I'm grateful to you and all that, but I couldn't leave Loney. He —”

“I'll give Loney a piece of change for your contract, even if you ain't got one with him.”

“No, I'm sorry, I —I couldn't.”

Pete started to say something and stopped and his face began to get red. The door of Tubby's office had opened and Loney was coming out. Loney's face was white and you could hardly see his lips because they were so tight together, so I knew he had heard us talking.

He walked up close to Pete, not even looking at me once, and said, “You chiseling dago rat.”

Pete said, “I only told him what I told you when I made you the offer last week.”

Loney said, “Swell. So now you've told everybody. So now you can tell 'em about this.” He smacked Pete across the mouth with the back of his hand.

I moved over a little because Pete was a lot bigger than Loney, but Pete just said, “O. K., pal, maybe you won't live forever. Maybe you won't live forever even if Big Jake don't never get hep to the missus.”

Loney swung at him with a fist this time but Pete was backing away down the hall and Loney missed him by about a foot and a half, and when Loney started after him Pete turned and ran toward the gym.

Loney came back to me grinning and not looking mad any more. He could change that way quicker than anybody you ever saw. He put an arm around my shoulders and said, “The chiseling dago rat. Let's blow.” Outside he turned me around to look at the sign advertising the fights. “There you are, Kid. I don't blame him for wanting you. There'll be a lot of 'em wanting you before you're through.”

It did look swell, Kid Eolan vs. Sailor Perelman, in red letters that were bigger than any of the other names and up at the top of the card. That was the first time I ever had had my name at the top. I thought, I'm going to have it there like that all the time now and maybe in New York sometime, but I just grinned at Loney without saying anything and we went on home.

Ma was away visiting my married sister in Pittsburgh and we had a nigger woman named Susan taking care of the house for us and after she washed up the supper dishes and went home Loney went to the telephone and I could hear him talking low. I wanted to say something to him when he came back but I was afraid I would say the wrong thing because Loney might think I Was trying to butt into his business, and before I could find a safe way to start the doorbell rang.

Loney went to the door. It was Mrs. Schiff, like I had a hunch it would be, because she had come over the first night Ma was away.

She came in laughing, with Loney's arm around her waist, and said, “Hello, Champ,” to me.

I said, “Hello,” and shook hands with her.

I liked her, I guess, but I guess I was kind of afraid of her. I mean not only afraid of her on Loney's account but in a different way. You know, like sometimes when you were a kid and you found yourself all alone in a strange neighborhood on the other side of town. There was nothing you could see to be downright afraid of but you kept halfway expecting something. It was something like that. She was awful pretty but there was something kind of wild-looking about her. I don't mean wild-looking like some floozies you see; I mean almost like an animal, like she was always on the watch for something. It was like she was hungry. I mean just her eyes and maybe her mouth because you could not call her skinny or anything or fat either.

Loney got out a bottle of whisky and glasses and they had a drink. I stalled around for a few minutes just being polite and then said I guessed I was tired and I said good night to them and took my magazine upstairs to my room. Loney was beginning to tell her about his run-in with Pete Gonzalez when I went upstairs.

After I got undressed I tried to read but I kept worrying about Loney. It was this Mrs. Schiff that Pete made the crack about in the afternoon. She was the wife of Big Jake Schiff, the boss of our ward, and a lot of people must have known about her running around with Loney on the side. Anyhow Pete knew about it and he and Big Jake were pretty good friends besides him now having something to pay Loney back for.

I wished Loney would cut it out. He could have had a lot of other girls and Big Jake was no body to have trouble with, even leaving aside the pull he had down at the City Hall. Every time I tried to read I would get to thinking things like that so finally I gave it up and went to sleep pretty early, even for me. That was a Monday. Tuesday night when I got home from the movies she was waiting in the vestibule. She had on a long coat but no hat, and she looked pretty excited.

“Where's Loney?” she asked, not saying hello or anything.

“I don't know. He didn't say where he was going.”

“I've got to see him,” she said. “Haven't you any idea where he'd be?”

“No, I don't know where he is.”

“Do you think he'll be late?”

I said, “I guess he usually is.”

She frowned at me and then she said, “I've got to see him. I'll wait a little while anyhow.” So we went back to the dining-room.

She kept her coat on and began to walk around the room looking at things but without paying much attention to them. I asked her if she wanted a drink and she said, “Yes,” sort of absent-minded, but when I started to get it for her she took hold of the lapel of my coat and said, “Listen,

Eddie, will you tell me something? Honest to God?”

I said, “Sure,” feeling kind of embarrassed looking in her face like that, “if I can.”

“Is Loney really in love with me?”

That was a tough one. I could feel my face getting redder and redder. I wished the door would open and Loney would come in. I wished a fire would break out or something.

She jerked my lapel. “Is he?” . I said, “I guess so. I guess he is, all right.”

“Don't you know?”

I said, “Sure, I know, but Loney don't ever talk to me about things like that. Honest, he don't.”

She bit her lip and turned her back on me. I was sweating. I spent as long a time as I could in the kitchen getting the whisky and things. When I went back in the dining-room she had sat down and was putting lip-stick on her mouth. I set the whisky down on the table beside her.

She smiled at me and said, “You're a nice boy, Eddie. I hope you win a million fights. When do you fight again?”

I had to laugh at that. I guess I had been going around thinking that everybody in the world knew I was going to fight Sailor Perelman that Saturday just because it was my first main event. I guess that is the way you get a swelled head. I said, “This Saturday.”

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