Narrow Rooms by James Purdy

By James Purdy

Advent Paul Binding

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Sample text

The girl brought in two trays loaded with a hot chocolatecolored drink, rolls, and tiny silver receptacles of whipped cream by each cup, starched stiff linen napkins, hand-painted china cups. Sidney drank greedily, his mouth stained with the chocolate drink and whipped cream which he consumed separately. "Whatever you wish in the way of remuneration," she began now on more practical considerations, "ask, simply ask ... " . Then almost without warning, and as in a film where the scene and time sequence change precipitously, and with her voice falling into a low register, she said, "You may or may not know the story of Gareth, but let me tell you to prevent misunderstanding and correct any garbled version you may have listened to ....

I belong there, Vance," his brother raised his voice edgily. "Both Mrs. " Vance put down his knife and fork with a bang. "All right, then," Sidney began shamefacedly. "My hands are bitten from when I feed Gareth ... " A look of almost lordly disgust came over Vance's flushed face. "Look, Vance ... It's what I want to do ... It quiets me down ... " "Does he know you're helping. Does he know anything? I ask you. Of course he doesn't. " "Vance, don't say anymore.... I think you are angry with me really because I told you I was ...

She avoided looking at Gareth again. Sidney waited until he heard her footsteps descending the stairs. " He put his hand on the sufferer's forehead. "Hands like a cake of ice," Gareth remarked as he watched the new "caretaker" with dilated pupils. Sidney rubbed his hands vigorously to warm them while never taking his eyes off his charge. " As he said this his lips almost grazed those of the patient. " Gareth flopped over petulantly. As he inserted the tube in him, Gareth responded with angry beastlike cries and clenched and gnashed his teeth.

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