The Catcher in the Rye - 07

stupid movie all day long. I really don't think I could.
She came over to me, with this funny look on her face, like as if she didn't believe
me. "What'sa matter?" she said.
"Nothing's the matter." Boy, was I getting nervous. "The thing is, I had an
operation very recently."
"Yeah? Where?"
"On my wuddayacallit--my clavichord."
"Yeah? Where the hell's that?"
"The clavichord?" I said. "Well, actually, it's in the spinal canal. I mean it's quite a
ways down in the spinal canal."
"Yeah?" she said. "That's tough." Then she sat down on my goddam lap. "You're
She made me so nervous, I just kept on lying my head off. "I'm still recuperating,"
I told her.
"You look like a guy in the movies. You know. Whosis. You know who I mean.
What the heck's his name?"
"I don't know," I said. She wouldn't get off my goddam lap.
"Sure you know. He was in that pitcher with Mel-vine Douglas? The one that was
Mel-vine Douglas's kid brother? That falls off this boat? You know who I mean."
"No, I don't. I go to the movies as seldom as I can."
Then she started getting funny. Crude and all.
"Do you mind cutting it out?" I said. "I'm not in the mood, I just told you. I just
had an operation."
She didn't get up from my lap or anything, but she gave me this terrifically dirty
look. "Listen," she said. "I was sleepin' when that crazy Maurice woke me up. If you
think I'm--"
"I said I'd pay you for coming and all. I really will. I have plenty of dough. It's
just that I'm practically just recovering from a very serious--"
"What the heck did you tell that crazy Maurice you wanted a girl for, then? If you
just had a goddam operation on your goddam wuddayacallit. Huh?"
"I thought I'd be feeling a lot better than I do. I was a little premature in my
calculations. No kidding. I'm sorry. If you'll just get up a second, I'll get my wallet. I
mean it."
She was sore as hell, but she got up off my goddam lap so that I could go over and
get my wallet off the chiffonier. I took out a five-dollar bill and handed it to her. "Thanks
a lot," I told her. "Thanks a million."
"This is a five. It costs ten."
She was getting funny, you could tell. I was afraid something like that would
happen--I really was.
"Maurice said five," I told her. "He said fifteen till noon and only five for a
"Ten for a throw."
"He said five. I'm sorry--I really am--but that's all I'm gonna shell out."
She sort of shrugged her shoulders, the way she did before, and then she said,
very cold, "Do you mind getting me my frock? Or would it be too much trouble?" She
was a pretty spooky kid. Even with that little bitty voice she had, she could sort of scare
you a little bit. If she'd been a big old prostitute, with a lot of makeup on her face and all,
she wouldn't have been half as spooky.
I went and got her dress for her. She put it on and all, and then she picked up her
polo coat off the bed. "So long, crumb-bum," she said.
"So long," I said. I didn't thank her or anything. I'm glad I didn't.
After Old Sunny was gone, I sat in the chair for a while and smoked a couple of
cigarettes. It was getting daylight outside. Boy, I felt miserable. I felt so depressed, you
can't imagine. What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes
when I get very depressed. I keep telling him to go home and get his bike and meet me in
front of Bobby Fallon's house. Bobby Fallon used to live quite near us in Maine--this is,
years ago. Anyway, what happened was, one day Bobby and I were going over to Lake
Sedebego on our bikes. We were going to take our lunches and all, and our BB guns--we
were kids and all, and we thought we could shoot something with our BB guns. Anyway,
Allie heard us talking about it, and he wanted to go, and I wouldn't let him. I told him he
was a child. So once in a while, now, when I get very depressed, I keep saying to him,
"Okay. Go home and get your bike and meet me in front of Bobby's house. Hurry up." It
wasn't that I didn't use to take him with me when I went somewhere. I did. But that one
day, I didn't. He didn't get sore about it--he never got sore about anything-- but I keep
thinking about it anyway, when I get very depressed.
Finally, though, I got undressed and got in bed. I felt like praying or something,
when I was in bed, but I couldn't do it. I can't always pray when I feel like it. In the first
place, I'm sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don't care too much for most of the
other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if
you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He
was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was
keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If
you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic
and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times
as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard. I used to get in quite a few arguments about
it, when I was at Whooton School, with this boy that lived down the corridor, Arthur
Childs. Old Childs was a Quaker and all, and he read the Bible all the time. He was a
very nice kid, and I liked him, but I could never see eye to eye with him on a lot of stuff
in the Bible, especially the Disciples. He kept telling me if I didn't like the Disciples, then
I didn't like Jesus and all. He said that because Jesus picked the Disciples, you were
supposed to like them. I said I knew He picked them, but that He picked them at random.
I said He didn't have time to go around analyzing everybody. I said I wasn't blaming
Jesus or anything. It wasn't His fault that He didn't have any time. I remember I asked old
Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he
committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That's exactly where I disagreed with him. I
said I'd bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I
had a thousand bucks. I think any one of the Disciples would've sent him to Hell and all--
and fast, too--but I'll bet anything Jesus didn't do it. Old Childs said the trouble with me
was that I didn't go to church or anything. He was right about that, in a way. I don't. In
the first place, my parents are different religions, and all the children in our family are
atheists. If you want to know the truth, I can't even stand ministers. The ones they've had
at every school I've gone to, they all have these Holy Joe voices when they start giving
their sermons. God, I hate that. I don't see why the hell they can't talk in their natural
voice. They sound so phony when they talk.
Anyway, when I was in bed, I couldn't pray worth a damn. Every time I got
started, I kept picturing old Sunny calling me a crumb-bum. Finally, I sat up in bed and
smoked another cigarette. It tasted lousy. I must've smoked around two packs since I left
All of a sudden, while I was laying there smoking, somebody knocked on the
door. I kept hoping it wasn't my door they were knocking on, but I knew damn well it
was. I don't know how I knew, but I knew. I knew who it was, too. I'm psychic.
"Who's there?" I said. I was pretty scared. I'm very yellow about those things.
They just knocked again, though. Louder.
Finally I got out of bed, with just my pajamas on, and opened the door. I didn't
even have to turn the light on in the room, because it was already daylight. Old Sunny
and Maurice, the pimpy elevator guy, were standing there.
"What's the matter? Wuddaya want?" I said. Boy, my voice was shaking like hell.
"Nothin' much," old Maurice said. "Just five bucks." He did all the talking for the
two of them. Old Sunny just stood there next to him, with her mouth open and all.
"I paid her already. I gave her five bucks. Ask her," I said. Boy, was my voice
"It's ten bucks, chief. I tole ya that. Ten bucks for a throw, fifteen bucks till noon.
I tole ya that."
"You did not tell me that. You said five bucks a throw. You said fifteen bucks till
noon, all right, but I distinctly heard you--"
"Open up, chief."
"What for?" I said. God, my old heart was damn near beating me out of the room.
I wished I was dressed at least. It's terrible to be just in your pajamas when something
like that happens.
"Let's go, chief," old Maurice said. Then he gave me a big shove with his crumby
hand. I damn near fell over on my can--he was a huge sonuvabitch. The next thing I
knew, he and old Sunny were both in the room. They acted like they owned the damn
place. Old Sunny sat down on the window sill. Old Maurice sat down in the big chair and
loosened his collar and all--he was wearing this elevator operator's uniform. Boy, was I
"All right, chief, let's have it. I gotta get back to work."
"I told you about ten times, I don't owe you a cent. I already gave her the five--"
"Cut the crap, now. Let's have it."
"Why should I give her another five bucks?" I said. My voice was cracking all
over the place. "You're trying to chisel me."
Old Maurice unbuttoned his whole uniform coat. All he had on underneath was a
phony shirt collar, but no shirt or anything. He had a big fat hairy stomach. "Nobody's
tryna chisel nobody," he said. "Let's have it, chief."
When I said that, he got up from his chair and started walking towards me and all.
He looked like he was very, very tired or very, very bored. God, was I scared. I sort of
had my arms folded, I remember. It wouldn't have been so bad, I don't think, if I hadn't
had just my goddam pajamas on.
"Let's have it, chief." He came right up to where I was standing. That's all he
could say. "Let's have it, chief." He was a real moron.
"Chief, you're gonna force me inna roughin' ya up a little bit. I don't wanna do it,
but that's the way it looks," he said. "You owe us five bucks."
"I don't owe you five bucks," I said. "If you rough me up, I'll yell like hell. I'll
wake up everybody in the hotel. The police and all." My voice was shaking like a bastard.
"Go ahead. Yell your goddam head off. Fine," old Maurice said. "Want your
parents to know you spent the night with a whore? High-class kid like you?" He was
pretty sharp, in his crumby way. He really was.
"Leave me alone. If you'd said ten, it'd be different. But you distinctly--"
"Are ya gonna let us have it?" He had me right up against the damn door. He was
almost standing on top of me, his crumby old hairy stomach and all.
"Leave me alone. Get the hell out of my room," I said. I still had my arms folded
and all. God, what a jerk I was.
Then Sunny said something for the first time. "Hey, Maurice. Want me to get his
wallet?" she said. "It's right on the wutchamacallit."
"Yeah, get it."
"Leave my wallet alone!"
"I awreddy got it," Sunny said. She waved five bucks at me. "See? All I'm takin' is
the five you owe me. I'm no crook."
All of a sudden I started to cry. I'd give anything if I hadn't, but I did. "No, you're
no crooks," I said. "You're just stealing five--"
"Shut up," old Maurice said, and gave me a shove.
"Leave him alone, hey," Sunny said. "C'mon, hey. We got the dough he owes us.
Let's go. C'mon, hey."
"I'm comin'," old Maurice said. But he didn't.
"I mean it, Maurice, hey. Leave him alone."
"Who's hurtin' anybody?" he said, innocent as hell. Then what he did, he snapped
his finger very hard on my pajamas. I won't tell you where he snapped it, but it hurt like
hell. I told him he was a goddam dirty moron. "What's that?" he said. He put his hand
behind his ear, like a deaf guy. "What's that? What am I?"
I was still sort of crying. I was so damn mad and nervous and all. "You're a dirty
moron," I said. "You're a stupid chiseling moron, and in about two years you'll be one of
those scraggy guys that come up to you on the street and ask for a dime for coffee. You'll
have snot all over your dirty filthy overcoat, and you'll be--"
Then he smacked me. I didn't even try to get out of the way or duck or anything.
All I felt was this terrific punch in my stomach.
I wasn't knocked out or anything, though, because I remember looking up from
the floor and seeing them both go out the door and shut it. Then I stayed on the floor a
fairly long time, sort of the way I did with Stradlater. Only, this time I thought I was
dying. I really did. I thought I was drowning or something. The trouble was, I could
hardly breathe. When I did finally get up, I had to walk to the bathroom all doubled up
and holding onto my stomach and all.
But I'm crazy. I swear to God I am. About halfway to the bathroom, I sort of
started pretending I had a bullet in my guts. Old 'Maurice had plugged me. Now I was on
the way to the bathroom to get a good shot of bourbon or something to steady my nerves
and help me really go into action. I pictured myself coming out of the goddam bathroom,
dressed and all, with my automatic in my pocket, and staggering around a little bit. Then
I'd walk downstairs, instead of using the elevator. I'd hold onto the banister and all, with
this blood trickling out of the side of my mouth a little at a time. What I'd do, I'd walk
down a few floors--holding onto my guts, blood leaking all over the place-- and then I'd
ring the elevator bell. As soon as old Maurice opened the doors, he'd see me with the
automatic in my hand and he'd start screaming at me, in this very high-pitched, yellowbelly voice, to leave him alone. But I'd plug him anyway. Six shots right through his fat
hairy belly. Then I'd throw my automatic down the elevator shaft--after I'd wiped off all
the finger prints and all. Then I'd crawl back to my room and call up Jane and have her
come over and bandage up my guts. I pictured her holding a cigarette for me to smoke
while I was bleeding and all.
The goddam movies. They can ruin you. I'm not kidding.
I stayed in the bathroom for about an hour, taking a bath and all. Then I got back
in bed. It took me quite a while to get to sleep--I wasn't even tired--but finally I did. What
I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I
probably would've done it, too, if I'd been sure somebody'd cover me up as soon as I
landed. I didn't want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory.
I didn't sleep too long, because I think it was only around ten o'clock when I woke
up. I felt pretty hungry as soon as I had a cigarette. The last time I'd eaten was those two
hamburgers I had with Brossard and Ackley when we went in to Agerstown to the
movies. That was a long time ago. It seemed like fifty years ago. The phone was right
next to me, and I started to call down and have them send up some breakfast, but I was
sort of afraid they might send it up with old Maurice. If you think I was dying to see him
again, you're crazy. So I just laid around in bed for a while and smoked another cigarette.
I thought of giving old Jane a buzz, to see if she was home yet and all, but I wasn't in the
What I did do, I gave old Sally Hayes a buzz. She went to Mary A. Woodruff, and
I knew she was home because I'd had this letter from her a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't
too crazy about her, but I'd known her for years. I used to think she was quite intelligent,
in my stupidity. The reason I did was because she knew quite a lot about the theater and
plays and literature and all that stuff. If somebody knows quite a lot about those things, it
takes you quite a while to find out whether they're really stupid or not. It took me years to
find it out, in old Sally's case. I think I'd have found it out a lot sooner if we hadn't necked
so damn much. My big trouble is, I always sort of think whoever I'm necking is a pretty
intelligent person. It hasn't got a goddam thing to do with it, but I keep thinking it
Anyway, I gave her a buzz. First the maid answered. Then her father. Then she
got on. "Sally?" I said.
"Yes--who is this?" she said. She was quite a little phony. I'd already told her
father who it was.
"Holden Caulfield. How are ya?"
"Holden! I'm fine! How are you?"
"Swell. Listen. How are ya, anyway? I mean how's school?"
"Fine," she said. "I mean--you know."
"Swell. Well, listen. I was wondering if you were busy today. It's Sunday, but
there's always one or two matinees going on Sunday. Benefits and that stuff. Would you
care to go?"
"I'd love to. Grand."
Grand. If there's one word I hate, it's grand. It's so phony. For a second, I was
tempted to tell her to forget about the matinee. But we chewed the fat for a while. That is,
she chewed it. You couldn't get a word in edgewise. First she told me about some
Harvard guy-- it probably was a freshman, but she didn't say, naturally--that was rushing
hell out of her. Calling her up night and day. Night and day--that killed me. Then she told
me about some other guy, some West Point cadet, that was cutting his throat over her too.
Big deal. I told her to meet me under the clock at the Biltmore at two o'clock, and not to
be late, because the show probably started at two-thirty. She was always late. Then I hung
up. She gave me a pain in the ass, but she was very good-looking.
After I made the date with old Sally, I got out of bed and got dressed and packed
my bag. I took a look out the window before I left the room, though, to see how all the
perverts were doing, but they all had their shades down. They were the heighth of
modesty in the morning. Then I went down in the elevator and checked out. I didn't see
old Maurice around anywhere. I didn't break my neck looking for him, naturally, the
I got a cab outside the hotel, but I didn't have the faintest damn idea where I was
going. I had no place to go. It was only Sunday, and I couldn't go home till Wednesday--
or Tuesday the soonest. And I certainly didn't feel like going to another hotel and getting
my brains beat out. So what I did, I told the driver to take me to Grand Central Station. It
was right near the Biltmore, where I was meeting Sally later, and I figured what I'd do, I'd
check my bags in one of those strong boxes that they give you a key to, then get some
breakfast. I was sort of hungry. While I was in the cab, I took out my wallet and sort of
counted my money. I don't remember exactly what I had left, but it was no fortune or
anything. I'd spent a king's ransom in about two lousy weeks. I really had. I'm a goddam
spendthrift at heart. What I don't spend, I lose. Half the time I sort of even forget to pick
up my change, at restaurants and night clubs and all. It drives my parents crazy. You can't
blame them. My father's quite wealthy, though. I don't know how much he makes--he's
never discussed that stuff with me--but I imagine quite a lot. He's a corporation lawyer.
Those boys really haul it in. Another reason I know he's quite well off, he's always
investing money in shows on Broadway. They always flop, though, and it drives my
mother crazy when he does it. She hasn't felt too healthy since my brother Allie died.
She's very nervous. That's another reason why I hated like hell for her to know I got the
ax again.
After I put my bags in one of those strong boxes at the station, I went into this
little sandwich bar and bad breakfast. I had quite a large breakfast, for me--orange juice,
bacon and eggs, toast and coffee. Usually I just drink some orange juice. I'm a very light
eater. I really am. That's why I'm so damn skinny. I was supposed to be on this diet where
you eat a lot of starches and crap, to gain weight and all, but I didn't ever do it. When I'm
out somewhere, I generally just eat a Swiss cheese sandwich and a malted milk. It isn't
much, but you get quite a lot of vitamins in the malted milk. H. V. Caulfield. Holden
Vitamin Caulfield.
While I was eating my eggs, these two nuns with suitcases and all--I guessed they
were moving to another convent or something and were waiting for a train--came in and
sat down next to me at the counter. They didn't seem to know what the hell to do with
their suitcases, so I gave them a hand. They were these very inexpensive-looking
suitcases--the ones that aren't genuine leather or anything. It isn't important, I know, but I
hate it when somebody has cheap suitcases. It sounds terrible to say it, but I can even get
to hate somebody, just looking at them, if they have cheap suitcases with them.
Something happened once. For a while when I was at Elkton Hills, I roomed with this
boy, Dick Slagle, that had these very inexpensive suitcases. He used to keep them under
the bed, instead of on the rack, so that nobody'd see them standing next to mine. It
depressed holy hell out of me, and I kept wanting to throw mine out or something, or
even trade with him. Mine came from Mark Cross, and they were genuine cowhide and
all that crap, and I guess they cost quite a pretty penny. But it was a funny thing. Here's
what happened. What I did, I finally put my suitcases under my bed, instead of on the
rack, so that old Slagle wouldn't get a goddam inferiority complex about it. But here's
what he did. The day after I put mine under my bed, he took them out and put them back
on the rack. The reason he did it, it took me a while to find out, was because he wanted
people to think my bags were his. He really did. He was a very funny guy, that way. He
was always saying snotty things about them, my suitcases, for instance. He kept saying
they were too new and bourgeois. That was his favorite goddam word. He read it
somewhere or heard it somewhere. Everything I had was bourgeois as hell. Even my
fountain pen was bourgeois. He borrowed it off me all the time, but it was bourgeois
anyway. We only roomed together about two months. Then we both asked to be moved.
And the funny thing was, I sort of missed him after we moved, because he had a helluva
good sense of humor and we had a lot of fun sometimes. I wouldn't be surprised if he
missed me, too. At first he only used to be kidding when he called my stuff bourgeois,
and I didn't give a damn--it was sort of funny, in fact. Then, after a while, you could tell
he wasn't kidding any more. The thing is, it's really hard to be roommates with people if
your suitcases are much better than theirs--if yours are really good ones and theirs aren't.
You think if they're intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor,
that they don't give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do. It's
one of the reasons why I roomed with a stupid bastard like Stradlater. At least his
suitcases were as good as mine.
Anyway, these two nuns were sitting next to me, and we sort of struck up a
conversation. The one right next to me had one of those straw baskets that you see nuns
and Salvation Army babes collecting dough with around Christmas time. You see them
standing on corners, especially on Fifth Avenue, in front of the big department stores and
all. Anyway, the one next to me dropped hers on the floor and I reached down and picked
it up for her. I asked her if she was out collecting money for charity and all. She said no.
She said she couldn't get it in her suitcase when she was packing it and she was just
carrying it. She had a pretty nice smile when she looked at you. She had a big nose, and
she had on those glasses with sort of iron rims that aren't too attractive, but she had a
helluva kind face. "I thought if you were taking up a collection," I told her, "I could make
a small contribution. You could keep the money for when you do take up a collection."
"Oh, how very kind of you," she said, and the other one, her friend, looked over at
me. The other one was reading a little black book while she drank her coffee. It looked
like a Bible, but it was too skinny. It was a Bible-type book, though. All the two of them
were eating for breakfast was toast and coffee. That depressed me. I hate it if I'm eating
bacon and eggs or something and somebody else is only eating toast and coffee.
They let me give them ten bucks as a contribution. They kept asking me if I was
sure I could afford it and all. I told them I had quite a bit of money with me, but they
didn't seem to believe me. They took it, though, finally. The both of them kept thanking
me so much it was embarrassing. I swung the conversation around to general topics and
asked them where they were going. They said they were schoolteachers and that they'd
just come from Chicago and that they were going to start teaching at some convent on
168th Street or 186th Street or one of those streets way the hell uptown. The one next to
me, with the iron glasses, said she taught English and her friend taught history and
American government. Then I started wondering like a bastard what the one sitting next
to me, that taught English, thought about, being a nun and all, when she read certain
books for English. Books not necessarily with a lot of sexy stuff in them, but books with
lovers and all in them. Take old Eustacia Vye, in The Return of the Native by Thomas
Hardy. She wasn't too sexy or anything, but even so you can't help wondering what a nun
maybe thinks about when she reads about old Eustacia. I didn't say anything, though,
naturally. All I said was English was my best subject.
"Oh, really? Oh, I'm so glad!" the one with the glasses, that taught English, said.
"What have you read this year? I'd be very interested to know." She was really nice.
"Well, most of the time we were on the Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf, and old Grendel,
and Lord Randal My Son, and all those things. But we had to read outside books for extra
credit once in a while. I read The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, and Romeo and
Juliet and Julius--"
"Oh, Romeo and Juliet! Lovely! Didn't you just love it?" She certainly didn't
sound much like a nun.
"Yes. I did. I liked it a lot. There were a few things I didn't like about it, but it was
quite moving, on the whole."
"What didn't you like about it? Can you remember?" To tell you the truth, it was
sort of embarrassing, in a way, to be talking about Romeo and Juliet with her. I mean that
play gets pretty sexy in some parts, and she was a nun and all, but she asked me, so I
discussed it with her for a while. "Well, I'm not too crazy about Romeo and Juliet," I said.
"I mean I like them, but--I don't know. They get pretty annoying sometimes. I mean I felt
much sorrier when old Mercutio got killed than when Romeo and Juliet did. The think is,
I never liked Romeo too much after Mercutio gets stabbed by that other man--Juliet's
cousin--what's his name?"
"That's right. Tybalt," I said--I always forget that guy's name. "It was Romeo's
fault. I mean I liked him the best in the play, old Mercutio. I don't know. All those
Montagues and Capulets, they're all right--especially Juliet--but Mercutio, he was--it's
hard to explain. He was very smart and entertaining and all. The thing is, it drives me
crazy if somebody gets killed-- especially somebody very smart and entertaining and all--
and it's somebody else's fault. Romeo and Juliet, at least it was their own fault."
"What school do you go to?" she asked me. She probably wanted to get off the
subject of Romeo and Juliet.
I told her Pencey, and she'd heard of it. She said it was a very good school. I let it
pass, though. Then the other one, the one that taught history and government, said they'd
better be running along. I took their check off them, but they wouldn't let me pay it. The
one with the glasses made me give it back to her.
"You've been more than generous," she said. "You're a very sweet boy." She
certainly was nice. She reminded me a little bit of old Ernest Morrow's mother, the one I
met on the train. When she smiled, mostly. "We've enjoyed talking to you so much," she
I said I'd enjoyed talking to them a lot, too. I meant it, too. I'd have enjoyed it
even more though, I think, if I hadn't been sort of afraid, the whole time I was talking to
them, that they'd all of a sudden try to find out if I was a Catholic. Catholics are always
trying to find out if you're a Catholic. It happens to me a lot, I know, partly because my
last name is Irish, and most people of Irish descent are Catholics. As a matter of fact, my
father was a Catholic once. He quit, though, when he married my mother. But Catholics