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All These Condemned by John D. Macdonald

All These Condemned by John D. Macdonald

Author:John D. Macdonald [MacDonald, John D.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-0-307-82718-0
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Published: 2014-01-14T00:00:00+00:00


Eight

(GILMAN HAYES—BEFORE)

EVIS HAD PHONED from the gallery. He wanted to know when he could have more work. He said he could sell it. People were waiting for more to come in. I told him I wouldn’t work for a time, maybe a month, maybe two. He said it might be smart to get some work in before his customers cooled off. I told him I didn’t like the implication. I didn’t like the hint that I was some sort of a fad. He apologized to me. But there was a practiced smoothness about the apology that I didn’t care for. I hung up on him.

The world is full of drab inconsequential people like Evis. Living half lives. Afraid to grasp. The world gives to the ones who take boldly. People like Evis are there to be kicked.

But his manner had bothered me. Even though I knew I shouldn’t let it. I went to see Wilma. It was midafternoon. She let me in and then went back to the phone. She was talking in Spanish. Finally she hung up. “I was talking to José,” she said. “Telling him how many were invited.”

“To what?”

“Did you forget, dear? This coming week end at the lake.”

“I guess I forgot.”

She sat beside me and took my hand. “What’s the matter?”

“Evis asked for more work. I didn’t like the way he asked me.”

She shook her head, almost sadly. “When will you learn what you really are, Gil? How long is it going to take you? Grimy little people like Evis don’t matter. He’s a parasite, feeding off your strength. Humility doesn’t become you, darling.”

I could feel the strength coming back into me. She is the only one who can do that. Sometimes I feel as though she created me. But that is wrong, of course. She merely brought out what was already there, hidden behind all the weaknesses and uncertainties I used to have.

I had wasted so much time before I met her.

I want to laugh when I think of the pathetic thing I was. She saw what was there.

I’ve never made friends. You do or you don’t. It seems that easy. I never knew why. She told me why. The less gifted always sense the difference. That’s easy to understand, isn’t it? She talks about mutations. The inevitable change in humanity. To become bigger, stronger, quicker, more ruthless. A survival thing, she has told me.

And I used to crawl and beg. Oh, not obviously. But thankful for the little jobs. Lifeguard, counter boy, usher, dance instructor, model. Little people throwing scraps to me, and hating me because they could sense that I was better. Women were easy. They have always been easy. Wilma says that is a clue. I should have been able to read it. They are easy and meaningless. Except Wilma. Because of what she has done.

It was always a dream. From the time, I guess, that Sister Elizabeth, in the Home, said I could draw. She put that picture on the cork board in the big hall.



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