The Catcher in the Rye - 14

"Whuddaya want to do? Not be in the play, for God's sake?" That made her cry even
harder. I was glad. All of a sudden I wanted her to cry till her eyes practically dropped
out. I almost hated her. I think I hated her most because she wouldn't be in that play any
more if she went away with me.
"Come on," I said. I started up the steps to the museum again. I figured what I'd
do was, I'd check the crazy suitcase she'd brought in the checkroom, andy then she could
get it again at three o'clock, after school. I knew she couldn't take it back to school with
her. "Come on, now," I said.
She didn't go up the steps with me, though. She wouldn't come with me. I went up
anyway, though, and brought the bag in the checkroom and checked it, and then I came
down again. She was still standing there on the sidewalk, but she turned her back on me
when I came up to her. She can do that. She can turn her back on you when she feels like
it. "I'm not going away anywhere. I changed my mind. So stop crying, and shut up," I
said. The funny part was, she wasn't even crying when I said that. I said it anyway,
though, "C'mon, now. I'll walk you back to school. C'mon, now. You'll be late."
She wouldn't answer me or anything. I sort of tried to get hold of her old hand, but
she wouldn't let me. She kept turning around on me.
"Didja have your lunch? Ya had your lunch yet?" I asked her.
She wouldn't answer me. All she did was, she took off my red hunting hat--the
one I gave her--and practically chucked it right in my face. Then she turned her back on
me again. It nearly killed me, but I didn't say anything. I just picked it up and stuck it in
my coat pocket.
"Come on, hey. I'll walk you back to school," I said.
"I'm not going back to school."
I didn't know what to say when she said that. I just stood there for a couple of
"You have to go back to school. You want to be in that play, don't you? You want
to be Benedict Arnold, don't you?"
"Sure you do. Certainly you do. C'mon, now, let's go," I said. "In the first place,
I'm not going away anywhere, I told you. I'm going home. I'm going home as soon as you
go back to school. First I'm gonna go down to the station and get my bags, and then I'm
gonna go straight--"
"I said I'm not going back to school. You can do what you want to do, but I'm not
going back to chool," she said. "So shut up." It was the first time she ever told me to shut
up. It sounded terrible. God, it sounded terrible. It sounded worse than swearing. She still
wouldn't look at me either, and every time I sort of put my hand on her shoulder or
something, she wouldn't let me.
"Listen, do you want to go for a walk?" I asked her. "Do you want to take a walk
down to the zoo? If I let you not go back to school this afternoon and go for walk, will
you cut out this crazy stuff?"
She wouldn't answer me, so I said it over again. "If I let you skip school this
afternoon and go for a little walk, will you cut out the crazy stuff? Will you go back to
school tomorrow like a good girl?"
"I may and I may not," she said. Then she ran right the hell across the street,
without even looking to see if any cars were coming. She's a madman sometimes.
I didn't follow her, though. I knew she'd follow me, so I started walking
downtown toward the zoo, on the park side of the street, and she started walking
downtown on the other goddam side of the street, She wouldn't look over at me at all, but
I could tell she was probably watching me out of the corner of her crazy eye to see where
I was going and all. Anyway, we kept walking that way all the way to the zoo. The only
thing that bothered me was when a double-decker bus came along because then I couldn't
see across the street and I couldn't see where the hell she was. But when we got to the
zoo, I yelled over to her, "Phoebe! I'm going in the zoo! C'mon, now!" She wouldn't look
at me, but I could tell she heard me, and when I started down the steps to the zoo I turned
around and saw she was crossing the street and following me and all.
There weren't too many people in the zoo because it was sort of a lousy day, but
there were a few around the sea lions' swimming pool and all. I started to go by but old
Phoebe stopped and made out she was watching the sea lions getting fed--a guy was
throwing fish at them--so I went back. I figured it was a good chance to catch up with her
and all. I went up and sort of stood behind her and sort of put my hands on her shoulders,
but she bent her knees and slid out from me--she can certainly be very snotty when she
wants to. She kept standing there while the sea lions were getting fed and I stood right
behind her. I didn't put my hands on her shoulders again or anything because if I had she
really would've beat it on me. Kids are funny. You have to watch what you're doing.
She wouldn't walk right next to me when we left the sea lions, but she didn't walk
too far away. She sort of walked on one side of the sidewalk and I walked on the other
side. It wasn't too gorgeous, but it was better than having her walk about a mile away
from me, like before. We went up and watched the bears, on that little hill, for a while,
but there wasn't much to watch. Only one of the bears was out, the polar bear. The other
one, the brown one, was in his goddam cave and wouldn't come out. All you could see
was his rear end. There was a little kid standing next to me, with a cowboy hat on
practically over his ears, and he kept telling his father, "Make him come out, Daddy.
Make him come out." I looked at old Phoebe, but she wouldn't laugh. You know kids
when they're sore at you. They won't laugh or anything.
After we left the bears, we left the zoo and crossed over this little street in the
park, and then we went through one of those little tunnels that always smell from
somebody's taking a leak. It was on the way to the carrousel. Old Phoebe still wouldn't
talk to me or anything, but she was sort of walking next to me now. I took a hold of the
belt at the back of her coat, just for the hell of it, but she wouldn't let me. She said, "Keep
your hands to yourself, if you don't mind." She was still sore at me. But not as sore as she
was before. Anyway, we kept getting closer and closer to the carrousel and you could
start to hear that nutty music it always plays. It was playing "Oh, Marie!" It played that
same song about fifty years ago when I was a little kid. That's one nice thing about
carrousels, they always play the same songs.
"I thought the carrousel was closed in the wintertime," old Phoebe said. It was the
first time she practically said anything. She probably forgot she was supposed to be sore
at me.
"Maybe because it's around Christmas," I said.
She didn't say anything when I said that. She probably remembered she was
supposed to be sore at me.
"Do you want to go for a ride on it?" I said. I knew she probably did. When she
was a tiny little kid, and Allie and D.B. and I used to go to the park with her, she was
mad about the carrousel. You couldn't get her off the goddam thing.
"I'm too big." she said. I thought she wasn't going to answer me, but she did.
"No, you're not. Go on. I'll wait for ya. Go on," I said. We were right there then.
There were a few kids riding on it, mostly very little kids, and a few parents were waiting
around outside, sitting on the benches and all. What I did was, I went up to the window
where they sell the tickets and bought old Phoebe a ticket. Then I gave it to her. She was
standing right next to me. "Here," I said. "Wait a second--take the rest of your dough,
too." I started giving her the rest of the dough she'd lent me.
"You keep it. Keep it for me," she said. Then she said right afterward--"Please."
That's depressing, when somebody says "please" to you. I mean if it's Phoebe or
somebody. That depressed the hell out of me. But I put the dough back in my pocket.
"Aren't you gonna ride, too?" she asked me. She was looking at me sort of funny.
You could tell she wasn't too sore at me any more.
"Maybe I will the next time. I'll watch ya," I said. "Got your ticket?"
"Go ahead, then--I'll be on this bench right over here. I'll watch ya." I went over
and sat down on this bench, and she went and got on the carrousel. She walked all around
it. I mean she walked once all the way around it. Then she sat down on this big, brown,
beat-up-looking old horse. Then the carrousel started, and I watched her go around and
around. There were only about five or six other kids on the ride, and the song the
carrousel was playing was "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." It was playing it very jazzy and
funny. All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was
sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything.
The thing with kids is, if they want to grab the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and
not say anything. If they fall off they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them.
When the ride was over she got off her horse and came over to me. "You ride
once, too, this time," she said.
"No, I'll just watch ya. I think I'll just watch," I said. I gave her some more of her
dough. "Here. Get some more tickets."
She took the dough off me. "I'm not mad at you any more," she said.
"I know. Hurry up--the thing's gonna start again."
Then all of a sudden she gave me a kiss. Then she held her hand out, and said,
"It's raining. It's starting to rain."
"I know."
Then what she did--it damn near killed me--she reached in my coat pocket and
took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head.
"Don't you want it?" I said.
"You can wear it a while."
"Okay. Hurry up, though, now. You're gonna miss your ride. You won't get your
own horse or anything."
She kept hanging around, though.
"Did you mean it what you said? You really aren't going away anywhere? Are
you really going home afterwards?" she asked me.
"Yeah," I said. I meant it, too. I wasn't lying to her. I really did go home
afterwards. "Hurry up, now," I said. "The thing's starting."
She ran and bought her ticket and got back on the goddam carrousel just in time.
Then she walked all the way around it till she got her own horse back. Then she got on it.
She waved to me and I waved back.
Boy, it began to rain like a bastard. In buckets, I swear to God. All the parents and
mothers and everybody went over and stood right under the roof of the carrousel, so they
wouldn't get soaked to the skin or anything, but I stuck around on the bench for quite a
while. I got pretty soaking wet, especially my neck and my pants. My hunting hat really
gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way; but I got soaked anyway. I didn't care, though.
I felt so damn happy all of sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I
was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don't know
why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around,
in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could've been there.
That's all I'm going to tell about. I could probably tell you what I did after I went
home, and how I got sick and all, and what school I'm supposed to go to next fall, after I
get out of here, but I don't feel like it. I really don't. That stuff doesn't interest me too
much right now.
A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps
asking me if I'm going apply myself when I go back to school next September. It's such a
stupid question, in my opinion. I mean how do you know what you're going to do till you
do it? The answer is, you don't. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it's a stupid
D.B. isn't as bad as the rest of them, but he keeps asking me a lot of questions,
too. He drove over last Saturday with this English babe that's in this new picture he's
writing. She was pretty affected, but very good-looking. Anyway, one time when she
went to the ladies' room way the hell down in the other wing D.B. asked me what I
thought about all this stuff I just finished telling you about. I didn't know what the hell to
say. If you want to know the truth, I don't know what I think about it. I'm sorry I told so
many people about it. About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old
Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It's funny.
Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.