The Work Is Innocent

The Work Is Innocent by Rafael Yglesias Read Free Book Online

Book: The Work Is Innocent by Rafael Yglesias Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rafael Yglesias
Tags: Ebook, book
write.”
    “I can always do something else, can’t I?”
    “You understand I’m not underestimating your talents or even your ability to use them. It’s just that universities give one great freedom—”
    “To freeload.”
    “Yes,” Aaron said, laughing. “But also to investigate other things. I should still like to see you act professionally.”
    “If a university takes me I’ll accept. I mean. Obviously. I have no desire to starve.”
    “You know you have to allow your father to worry about you. It’s one of the pleasures of having a son.”
    Richard almost wept at these words. Back in his room, he reacted against this sudden sentimentality for his father. You’d think Dad was on his deathbed, he thought—as if Aaron’s health precluded Richard’s feeling love for him. His father’s manner and conversation might have been considered routine, but it was a great change from the heavy silent disapproval of the last two years while Richard was cutting school. Richard had also lost his sullen hostility. But this soap opera bullshit, he thought, must be false. Why a miraculous resolution of their mutual dislike? Just letting him quit school solved everything. Was that possible? He felt love for his father a month after hating him. He didn’t doubt that he had hated him: it seemed more likely that his love was insincere.
    He stared out his window at Broadway, and New York, as it always does through windows and in movies, looked like a pleasant, well-ordered home for active, interesting people. The garbage on the streets skipped along with apparent harmlessness, and the mad old man with his bag of rags had nothing to do with Richard’s life as long as he was six flights up. He loved the city from his windows but was so afraid of it on the street that he had no time to hate it. He knew this and other fears that didn’t complement the writing of his book. He had to deal with them: learn to talk easily with people he didn’t know; to walk New York’s streets; to laugh with women and sleep with them as heartily as men ought to do such things. Fuck all that rationalizing his generation indulged in: he was going to stand over New York and challenge it like Rastignac defying Paris.
    He picked up the scrap of paper with Joan’s number on it, got up from the desk, and strode over to the phone. He cheered himself up with the little parody he performed: dialing the numbers so aggressively that he hurt his fingers, casually asking of the adult who answered the phone if he could speak to Joan, and it was only until he had informed her of his name and she had made a polite, pleasant sound of recognition that he realized this scene couldn’t end right here with a fadeout and open up again with them in bed.
    There was enough of a pause to alert Joan, and she tried to help by saying that she hoped he hadn’t had too terrible a time at the party.
    Be honest, he thought. “I’m fucked up about parties. I get very self-conscious.”
    “I know what you mean.”
    “Anyway, I’m afraid I left a bad impression.”
    “No, no, I thought we had made a bad impression. Listen, Ann and I were going to go to the movies tonight, would you like to come along?”
    Richard didn’t bother to conceal his enthusiasm. “Uh, yeah, I’d love to.”
    “Okay. Let me arrange things with—do you care what movie we go to?”
    “No, it doesn’t matter.”
    “All right. I’ll figure it out with Ann and let you know.”
    I’d better give her my number, he thought, but remained frozen with the phone to his ear.
    “Oh!” Joan said. “You’d better give me your number.”
    Why is she so eager to see me again? he asked himself, once off the phone. Because of Dad? The problems multiplied with appalling speed. He had to tell his parents without awkwardness, he had to fight back the panicky feeling that Joan thought him childish for being unable to take the lead in asking her for a date, he had to figure out how to dress, how to act, how he

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