The Ginger Man - By J. P. Donleavy & Jay McInerney Page 0,1


"Good day, sir. Can I be of any help?"

Dangerfield hesitating with pursed lips.

"Good day, yes. I would like to open up an account with you."

"Very good, sir. Will you please come this way."

The assistant opening a large ledger across the counter. Asking Dangerfield's name and address.

"Shall I bill you monthly or quarterly, sir?"

"I think quarterly."

"Would you like to take anything with you today, sir?"

Dangerfield caressing his teeth together, his eyes darting among the shelves.

"Do you have any Cork Gin?"

"Certainly, sir. Large or small size?"

"I think the large."

"And anything else, sir?"

"Do you have any Haig and Haig ? "

Assistant calling to the end of the shop. A small boy goes behind the scenes and comes out with a bottle. Dangerfield points to a ham.

"And how many pounds, sir?'.

"I'll take it all. And two pounds of cheese and a chicken"

Assistant all smiles and remarks. O it's the weather. Shocking fog. No day for them ones at sea or the others either. And clapping his hands to the little boy.

"Come here and carry the parcels for the gentleman. And a very good day to you, sir."

Up the hill, O'Keefe waiting and sweeping the packages into his arms. In the kitchen, laying them out on the table.

"How you do it, Dangerfield, I don't know. The first time I went looking for credit they told me to come back with a letter from a bank manager."

"It's the blue blood, Kenneth. Now I'll cut off a little piece of this cheese and give it to the little boy."

Dangerfield returns to the kitchen smiling and rubbing his hands.

"What made you get all this damn booze?"

"Warm us up. I think a cold front is on the way from the Arctic."

"What will Marion say when she gets back?"

"Not a word. These English wives are great. Know their proper place. Ought to marry one yourself."

"All I want is my first piece of arse. Plenty of time to get snowed under with a wife and kids. Give me some of that Scotch and out of my way now while I rustle up this food. Cooking is the only work I sometimes think I'm fitted for. One summer when I was working in Newport I thought of giving up Harvard. There was this Greek chef who thought I was wonderful because I could speak aristocratic Greek but they fired me because I invited some of the boys from Harvard into the club's bar for a drink and the manager came over and fired me on the spot Said the staff weren't to mix with guests."

"Quite rightly so."

"And now I've got a degree in classics and still have to cook."

"A noble calling."

O'Keefe flipping pots and bouncing from sink to table.

"Kenneth, do you think you're sexually frustrated and maladjusted?"

"I do"

"You'll find opportunities in this fine land"

"Yeah, lots, for unnatural connections with farm animals. Jesus, the only time I can forget about it is when I'm hungry. When I eat I go mad. I sat down and read every book on sex in the Widener Library to see how I could get it Did me no damn good. I must repel women and there's no cure for that"

"Hasn't anyone ever been attracted?"

"Once. At Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Asked me to come up to her room to listen to some music. She started to press up against me and I ran out of the room"

"What for?"

"She must have been too ugly. That's another thing against me. I'm attracted to beautiful women. Only thing for me is to grow old and not want it anymore."

"You'll want it more than ever"

"Jesus, that isn't true, is it? If that's what I've got to look forward to I may as well flip myself off the end of the back garden out there. Tell me, what's it like to have it steady?"

"Get used to it like most things."

"I could never get used to it"

"You will."

"But what's this little visit of Marion's to mama and papa? Friction? Drinking?"

"She and the baby need a little rest"

"I think her old man must be wise to you. How did he ever screw you out of two hundred and fifty notes? It's no wonder you never got it"

"He just took me into his study and said sorry son, things are just a little tight at the moment"

"Should have said dowry or no marriage. He must have dough, an admiral. Give him the stuff, like to provide for Marion the way she's accustomed to. Could have touched him with a few of those rosy ideas