Some Can Whistle

Some Can Whistle by Larry McMurtry Read Free Book Online

Book: Some Can Whistle by Larry McMurtry Read Free Book Online
Authors: Larry McMurtry
first sentence of
Anna Karenina”
    “Never read either of them,” he said in an ill-tempered tone. “You might recall that I had a classical education.”
    Gladys had heard my first sentence a few times too. Her reaction was if anything more discouraging than Godwin’s.
    “I get downhearted every time I hear it,” she said. “What makes you want to write books anyway? You’re rich enough.”
    “Gladys, I just want to,” I said. “I was a writer, you know, before I got into television.”
    “That was a long time ago, maybe you ain’t one anymore,” she said unsentimentally.
    “It’s just a sentence,” I said. “Why does it make you downhearted?”
    “’Cause it makes me realize I wasted my best years,” Gladys said. “I ain’t never had no boyfriends—just Chuck, and he’s a heel.”
    “Chuck is not a heel,” I said. “He may slip from the narrow path of virtue once in a while, but we all do that.”
    “I don’t, because who would want to slip with an old hag like me?” Gladys said.
    “Well, Frank would want to slip with you,” I reminded her.
    Frank was the mailman; my house was the last stop on his route. He arrived about noon every day, his tiny pickup laden with magazines, newspapers, videos, and books, all for me. I subscribed to thirty or forty continental magazines, which I hunted through obsessively, hoping to find pictures of various aging actresses who had once sort of been my girlfriends—I hadhad a long Grade B continental period before I hit it big with “Al and Sal.”
    Any mention of Yorkshire made Godwin nostalgic for his old nanny; in the same way the slick, shiny European magazines made me nostalgic for the Mediterranean littoral, along much of which I had traveled in the late sixties and early seventies, accompanied by a sprightly and vivid string of minor European actresses, Italian, French, and German, many of them vulgar and tacky on the screen, but alert, fastidious, and exacting in real life. How I missed them!
    Frank Lucketts, the mailman, couldn’t believe any one person read so many magazines and newspapers.
    “My eyes would wear out from all that reading, if it was me,” he said, dropping a bale of magazines on my table.
    Then, since his working day had just officially ended, he would retire to the kitchen, have a beer, and flirt with Gladys, with whom he had been hopelessly in love for several years.
    “Frank’s sweet, but he’s a loser,” Gladys said when I made inquiries about their nascent romance. “I don’t need to get mixed up with no more losers, I already got Chuck.”
    “I could be considered a loser myself,” I said. “I’ve worked for three months on one sentence and neither of my housemates likes it. I think I’ll go read it to Pedro, maybe he’ll like it.”
    “That old man’s lost in his own thoughts,” Gladys said. “He don’t say two words a month. At least Frank talks. He don’t make sense, but he does make noise. Chuck used to buy me flowers, but he don’t no more. He and that old Mexican could trade places and I’d never know the difference.”
    “I may have to give up on this first sentence,” I admitted. “I don’t really like it myself.”

    My Cadillac turned out to be maroon. It was the size of a young whale. At the sight of it my spirits rose, and when I sat in it they rose even further. The seats, also in a soft maroon leather, smelled good—new and expensive and good.
    Godwin, still in his green bathing trunks, and still smoking dope, sneered at me when I got behind the wheel, but I didn’t care.
    “I should have bought a Cadillac long ago,” I said. “I’m a Texan, after all. I like big cars. Why was I driving a Mercedes anyway? Am I a European?”
    “No, but at least you were trying to be one,” he said. “Now you’ve reverted to barbarism, just as I always knew you would.”
    “You’re a boring little dope addict, leave me alone,” I said. “I doubt if you can even read Greek

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