Tuesday, July 22, 2014

the last book I ever read (John Updike's Rabbit at Rest, excerpt four)

from Rabbit at Rest by John Updike:

Thelma makes an annoyed motion with her hands. “Harry, you’re not actually God, it just feels that way to you. Do you really think Nelson was jumpy because of you?”

“Why else?”

She knows something. She hesitates, but cannot resist, perhaps, a bit of revenge for his taking her always for granted, for his being in Pennsylvania a week before calling. “You must know about Nelson. My boys say he’s a cocaine addict. They’ve all used it, that generation, but Nelson they tell me is really hooked. As they say, the drug runs him, instead of him just using the drug.”

Harry has rocked back as far as the rocker will take him without his shoes leaving the rug and remains in that position so long that Thelma becomes anxious, knowing that this man isn’t sound inside and can have a heart attack. At last he rocks forward again and, gazing at her thoughtfully, says, “That explains a lot.” He fishes in the side pocket of his tweedy gray sports coat for a small brown bottle and deftly spills a single tiny pill into his hand and puts it in his mouth, under his tongue. There is a certain habituated daintiness in the gesture. “Coke takes money, doesn’t it?” he asks Thelma. “I mean, you can go through hundreds. Thousands.”

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