BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY
‘How are you going yourself, Jack?’ I asked him.
‘You seen this Walcott?’ he says.
‘Just in the gym.’
‘Well,’ Jack says, ‘I ’m going to need a lot of luck with that boy.’
‘ He can’t hit you, Jack,’ Soldier said.
‘I wish to hell he could n’t.’
“He could n’t hit you with a handful of birdshot.’
‘Birdshot’d be all right,’Jack says. “I would n’t mind birdshot any.’
‘He looks easy to hit,’ I said.
‘Sure,’ Jack says, “he ain’t going to last long. He ain’t going to last like you and me, Jerry. But right, now he’s got everything.’
‘You’ll left-hand him to death,’
‘Maybe,’Jack says. ‘Sure. I got a chance to.’
‘Handle him like you handled Kid Lewis.’
‘Kid Lewis,’ Jack said. ‘That kike!’
The three of us, Jack Brennan, Soldier Bartlett, and I, were in Handley’s. There were a couple of broads sitting at the next table to us. They had been drinking.
‘What do you mean, kike?’ one of the broads says. ‘What do you mean, kike, you big Irish bum!’
‘Sure,’Jack says. ‘That’s it.’
‘ Kikes,’this broad goes on. ‘They’re always talking about kikes, these big Irishmen. What do you mean, kikes?’
‘Come on. Let’s get out of here.’
‘Kikes,’ this broad goes on. ‘Whoever saw you ever buy a drink? Your wife sews your pockets up every morning. These Irishmen and their kikes. Ted Lewis could lick you, too.’
‘Sure,’ Jack says. ‘And you give away a lot of things free, too, don’t you?’
We went out. That was Jack. He could say what he wanted to when he wanted to say it.
Jack started training out at Danny Hogan’s health farm over in Jersey. It was nice out there, but Jack did n’t like it much. He did n’t like being away from his wife and the kids, and he was sore and grouchy most of the time. He liked me and we got along fine together; and he liked Hogan, but after a while Soldier Bartlett commenced to get on his nerves. A kidder gets to be an awful thing around a camp if his stuff goes sort of sour. Soldier was always kidding Jack, just sort of kidding him all the time. It was n’t very funny and it was n’t very good, and it began to get to Jack.
It was sort of stuff like this. Jack would finish up with the weights and the bag and pull on the gloves. ‘You want to work?’ he’d say to Soldier.
‘Sure. How you want me to work?’ Soldier would ask. ‘Want me to treat you rough like Walcott? Want me to knock you down a few times?'
‘That’s it,’ Jack would say. He did n’t like it any, though.
One morning we were all out on the road. We’d been out quite a way and now we were coming back. We’d go along fast for three minutes and then walk a minute, and then go fast for three minutes again. Jack was n’t ever what you would call a sprinter. He’d move around fast enough in the ring if he had to, but he was n’t any too fast on the road. All the time we were walking Soldier Bartlett was kidding him. We came up the hill to the farmhouse.
‘ Well,’ says Jack, ‘you better go back to town, Soldier.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You better go back to town and stay there.’
‘What’s the matter?’
‘I ’m sick of hearing you talk.’
‘Yes?’ says Soldier.
‘Yes,’ says Jack.
‘You’ll be a damn sight sicker when Walcott gets through with you.’
‘Sure,’ says Jack, ‘maybe I will. But I know I’m sick of you.’
So Soldier went off on the train to town that same morning. I went down with him to the train. He was good and sore.
‘I was just kidding him,’ he said. We were waiting on the platform. ‘He can’t pull that stuff with me, Jerry.’
‘He’s nervous and crabby,’ I said. ‘He’s a good fellow, Soldier.’
‘The hell he is. The hell he’s ever been a good fellow.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘so long, Soldier.’
The train had come in. He climbed up with his bag.
‘So long, Jerry,’ he says. ‘You be in town before the fight?’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘See you then.’
He went in and the conductor swung up and the train went out. I rode back to the farm in the cart. Jack was on the porch writing a letter to his wife. The mail had come and I got the papers and went over on the other side of the porch and sat down to read. Hogan came out the door and came over to me.
‘Did he have a jam with Soldier?’
‘Not a jam,’ I said. ‘He just told him to go back to town.’
‘I could see it coming,’ Hogan said. ‘He never liked Soldier much.’
‘No. He don’t like many people.’
‘He’s a pretty cold one,’ Hogan said.
‘Well, he’s always been fine to me.’
‘Me too,’ Hogan said. ‘I got no kick on him. He’s a cold one, though.'
Hogan went in through the screen door and I sat there on the porch and read the papers. It was just starting to get fall weather and it’s nice country there in Jersey up in the hills, and after I read the paper through I sat there and looked out at the country and the road down below against the woods, with a car going along it, lifting the dust up. It was fine weather and pretty nicelooking country. Hogan came to the door and I said, ‘Say, Hogan, have n’t you got anything to shoot out here?’
‘No,’ Hogan said. ‘Only sparrows.'
‘Seen the paper?’ I said to Hogan.
‘What’s in it?’
‘Sande booted three of them in yesterday.’
‘I got that on the telephone last night.’
‘You follow them pretty close, Hogan?’ I asked.
‘Oh, I keep in touch with them.’
‘How about Jack?’ I says. ‘Does he still play them?’
‘Him?’ said Hogan. ‘Can you see him doing it?’
Just then Jack came around the corner with the letter in his hand. He’s wearing a sweater and an old pair of pants and boxing shoes.
‘Got a stamp, Hogan?’ he asks.
‘Give me the letter,’ Hogan said. ‘I ’ll mail it for you.’
‘Say, Jack,’ I said. ‘Did n’t you used to play the ponies?’
‘I knew you did. I knew I used to see you out at Sheepshead.’
‘What did you lay off them for?’ Hogan asked.
Jack sat down on the porch by me. He leaned back against a post. He shut his eyes in the sun.
‘Want a chair?’ Hogan asked.
‘No,’ said Jack. ‘This is fine.’
‘It’s a nice day,’ I said. ‘It’s pretty nice out in the country.’
‘I’d a damn sight rather be in town with the wife.’
‘Well, you only got another week.’
‘Yes,’ Jack says. ‘That’s so.’
We sat there on the porch. Hogan was inside at the office.
‘What do you think about the shape I ’m in?’ Jack asked me.
‘Well, you can’t tell,’ I said. ‘You got a week to get around into form.’
‘Don’t stall me.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘you’re not right.’
‘I ’m not sleeping,’ Jack said.
‘You’ll be all right in a couple of days.’
‘No,’ says Jack, ‘I got the insomnia.’
‘What’s on your mind?’
‘I miss the wife.’
‘ Have her come out.’
‘No. I’m too old for that.’
We’ll take a long walk before you turn in, and get you good and tired.’
’Tired!’ Jack says. ‘I’m tired all the time.’
He was that way all week. He would n’t sleep at night and he’d get up in the morning feeling that way — you know, when you can’t shut your hands.
‘He’s stale as poorhouse cake,’ Hogan said. ‘He’s nothing.’
‘I never seen Walcott,’ I said.
‘He’ll kill him,’ said Hogan. ‘He’ll tear him in two.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘everybody’s got to get it sometime.’
‘Not like this, though,’ Hogan said. ‘They’ll think he never trained. It gives the farm a black eye.’
‘ You hear what the reporters said about him?’
‘Did n’t I! They said he was awful. They said they ought n’t to let him fight.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘ they’re always wrong, ain’t they?’
‘Yes,’ said Hogan. ‘But this time they’re right.’
‘What the hell do they know about whether a man’s right or not?’
‘Well,’ said Hogan, ‘they’re not such fools.’
‘All they did was pick Willard at Toledo. This Lardner, he’s so wise now, ask him about when he picked Willard at Toledo.’
‘Aw, he wasn’t out,’ Hogan said. ‘He only writes the big fights.’
‘I don’t care who they are,’ I said. ‘What the hell do they know? They can write, maybe, but what the hell do they know?’
‘You don’t think Jack’s in any shape, do you?’ Hogan asked.
‘No. He’s through. All he needs is to have Corbett pick him to win for it to be all over.’
‘Well, Corbett’ll pick him,’ Hogan says.
‘Sure. He’ll pick him.’
That night Jack did n’t sleep any either. The next morning was the last day before the fight. After breakfast we were out on the porch again.
‘What do you think about, Jack, when you can’t sleep?’ I said.
‘Oh, I worry,’ Jack says. ‘I worry about property I got up in the Bronx. I worry about property I got in Florida. I worry about the kids. I worry about the wife. Sometimes I think about fights. I think about that kike Ted Lewis and I get sore. I got some stocks and I worry about them. What the hell don’t I think about?’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘to-morrow night it’ll all be over.’
‘Sure,’ said Jack. ‘That always helps a lot, don’t it? That just fixes everything all up, I suppose. Sure.’
He was sore all day. We did n’t do any work. Jack just moved around a little to loosen up. He shadow-boxed a few rounds. He did n’t even look good doing that. He skipped the rope a little while. He could n’t sweat.
‘ He ’d be better not to do any work at all,’ Hogan said. We were standing watching him skip rope. ‘Don’t he ever sweat at all any more?’
‘He can’t sweat.’
‘Do you suppose he’s got the con? He never had any trouble making weight, did he?’
‘No, he has n’t got any con. He just has n’t got anything inside any more.’
‘He ought to sweat,’ said Hogan.
Jack came over skipping the rope. He was skipping up and down in front of us, forward and back, crossing his arms every third time.
‘Well,’ he says, ‘what are you buzzards talking about?’
‘I don’t think you ought to work any more,’ Hogan says. ‘You’ll be stale.’
‘Would n’t that be awful?’ Jack says and skips away down the floor, slapping the rope hard.
That afternoon John Collins showed up out at the farm. Jack was up in his room. John came out in a car from town. He had a couple of friends with him. The car stopped and they all got out.
‘Where’s Jack?’ John asked me.
‘Up in his room, lying down.’
‘ Lying down ? ’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘How is he?’
I looked at the two fellows that were with John.
‘They’re friends of his,’ John said.
‘He’s pretty bad,’ I said.
‘What’s the matter with him?’
‘He don’t sleep.’
‘Hell,’ said John. ‘That Irishman could never sleep.’
‘He is n’t right,’ I said.
‘Hell,’ John said. ‘He’s never right. I’ve had him for ten years and he’s never been right yet.’
The fellows with him laughed.
‘I want you to shake hands with Mr. Morgan and Mr. Steinfelt,’ John said. ‘This is Mr. Doyle. He’s been training Jack.’
’Glad to meet you,’ I said.
‘Let’s go up and see the boy,’ the fellow called Morgan said.
‘Let’s have a look at him,’ Steinfelt said.
We all went upstairs.
‘Where’s Hogan?’ John asked.
‘He’s out in the barn with a couple of his customers,’ I said.
‘He got many people out here now?’
‘Pretty quiet, ain’t it?’ Morgan said.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘It’s pretty quiet.’
We were outside Jack’s room. John knocked on the door. There was n’t any answer.
’Maybe he’s asleep,’ I said.
‘What the hell’s he sleeping in the daytime for?’
John turned the handle and we all went in. Jack was lying asleep on the bed. He was face down and his face was in the pillow. Both his arms were around the pillow.
‘Hey, Jack!’ John said to him.
Jack’s head moved a little on the pillow. ‘Jack!’ John says, leaning over him. Jack just dug a little deeper in the pillow. John touched him on the shoulder. Jack sat up and looked at us. He had n’t shaved and he was wearing an old sweater.
‘Hell! Why can’t you let me sleep?’ he says to John.
‘Don’t be sore,’John says. ‘I did n’t mean to wake you up.’
‘Oh no,’ Jack says. ‘Of course not.'
‘You know Morgan and Steinfelt,’ John said.
‘Glad to see you,* Jack says.
‘How do you feel, Jack?’ Morgan asks him.
‘Fine,’ Jack says. ‘How the hell would I feel?’
‘You look fine,’ Steinfelt says.
‘Yes, don’t I?’ says Jack. ‘Say,’ he says to John. ‘You’re my manager. You get a big enough cut. Why the hell didn’t you come out here when the reporters was out? You want Jerry and me to talk to them?’
‘I had Lew fighting in Philadelphia.’
‘What the hell’s that to me?’ Jack says. ‘You’re my manager. You get a big enough cut, don’t you? You are n’t making me any money in Philadelphia, are you? Why the hell are n’t you out here when I ought to have you?’
‘Hogan was here.’
‘Hogan,’ Jack says. ‘Hogan’s as dumb as I am.’
‘Soldier Bahtlett was out here wukking with you for a while, was n’t he?’ Steinfelt says, to change the subject.
‘Yes, he was out here,’ Jack says. ‘He was out here, all right.’
‘Say, Jerry,’ John said to me. ‘Would you go and find Hogan and tell him we want to see him in about half an hour?’
‘Sure,’ I said.
‘Why the hell can’t he stick around?’ Jack says. ‘Stick around, Jerry.’
Morgan and Steinfelt looked at each other.
‘Quiet down, Jack,’ John said to him.
‘I better go find Hogan,’ I said.
‘All right, if you want to go,’ Jack says. ‘None of these guys are going to send you away, though.’
‘I’ll go find Hogan,’ I said.
Hogan was out in the gym in the barn. He had a couple of his healthfarm patients with the gloves on. They neither one wanted to hit the other for fear the other would come back and hit him.
‘That’ll do,’ Hogan said when he saw me come in. ‘You can stop the slaughter. You gentlemen take a shower and Bruce will rub you down.’
They climbed out through the ropes and Hogan came over to me.
‘John Collins is out with a couple of friends to see Jack,’ I said.
‘I saw them come up in the car.’
‘ Who are the two fellows with John ? ’
‘They’re what you call wise boys,’ Hogan said. ‘Don’t you know them two?’
‘No,’ I said.
‘That’s Happy Steinfelt and Lew Morgan. They got a pool room.’
‘I been away a long time,’ I said.
‘Sure,’ said Hogan. ‘That Happy Steinfelt’s a big operator.’
‘I’ve heard his name,’ I said.
‘He’s a pretty smooth boy,’ Hogan said. ‘They’re a couple of sharpshooters.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘they want to see us in half an hour.’
‘You mean they don’t want to see us until a half an hour?’
‘Come on in the office,’ Hogan said. ‘To hell with those sharpshooters.’
After about thirty minutes or so Hogan and I went upstairs. We knocked on Jack’s door. They were talking inside the room.
‘ Wait a minute,’somebody said.
‘To hell with that stuff,’ Hogan said. ‘When you want to see me I’m down in the office.'
We heard the door unlock. Steinfelt opened it.
‘ Come on in, Hogan,’ he says. ‘ We ’re all going to have a drink.’
‘Well,’says Hogan, ‘that’s something.’
We went in. Jack was sitting on the bed. John and Morgan were sitting on a couple of chairs. Steinfelt was standing up.
‘You’re a pretty mysterious lot of boys,’ Hogan said.
‘Hello, Danny,’ John says.
‘Hello, Danny,’Morgan says and shakes hands.
Jack does n’t say anything. He just sits there on the bed. He ain’t with the others. He’s all by himself, He was wearing an old blue jersey and an old pair of pants and had on boxing shoes. He needed a shave. Steinfelt and Morgan were dressers. John was quite a dresser, too. Jack sat there looking Irish and tough.
Steinfelt brought out a bottle and Hogan brought in some glasses and everybody had a drink. Jack and I took one and the rest of them went on and had two or three each.
‘Better save some for your ride back,’Hogan said.
‘Don’t you worry. We got plenty,’ Morgan said.
Jack had n’t drunk anything since the one drink. He was standing up and looking at them. Morgan was sitting on the bed where Jack had sat.
‘Have a drink, Jack,’ John said and handed him the glass and the bottle.
‘No,’Jack said, ‘I never liked to go to these wakes.’
They all laughed. Jack did n’t laugh.
They were all feeling pretty good when they left. Jack stood on the porch when they got into the car. They waved to him.
‘So long,’ Jack said.
We had supper. Jack did n’t say anything all during the meal except ‘Will you pass me this?’ or ‘Will you pass me that?’ The two health-farm patients ate at the same table with us. They were pretty nice fellas. After we finished eating we went out on the porch. It was dark early.
‘Like to take a walk, Jerry?’ Jack asked.
We put on our coats and started out. It was quite a way down to the main road, and then we walked along the main road about a mile and a half. Cars kept going by and we would pull out to the side until they were past. Jack did n’t say anything. After we had stepped out into the bushes to let a big car go by, Jack said, ‘To hell with this walking. Come on back to Hogan’s.’
We went along a side road that cut up over the hill and cut across the fields back to Hogan’s. We could see the lights of the house up on the hill. We came around to the front of the house and there, standing in the doorway, was Hogan.
‘Have a good walk?’ Hogan asked.
‘Oh, fine,’ Jack said. ‘Listen, Hogan. Have you got any liquor?’
‘Sure,’ says Hogan. ‘What’s the idea?’
‘Send it up to the room,’ Jack says. ‘I’m going to sleep to-night.’
‘You’re the doctor,’ Hogan says.
‘Come on up to the room, Jerry,’ Jack says.
Upstairs Jack sat on the bed with his head in his hands.
‘Ain’t it a life?’ Jack says.
Hogan brought in a quart of liquor and two glasses.
‘Want some ginger ale?'
‘What do you think I want to do — get sick?’
‘I just asked you,’said Hogan.
‘Have a drink?’ said Jack.
‘No. thanks,’ said Hogan. He went out.
‘How about you, Jerry?'
‘I’ll have one with you,’ I said.
Jack poured out a couple of drinks. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘I want to take it slow and easy.’
‘ Put some water in it,’ I said.
‘Yes,’ Jack said. ‘I guess that’s better.’
We had a couple of drinks without saying anything. Jack started to pour me anot her.
‘No,’ I said, ‘that’s all I want.’
‘All right,’ Jack said. He poured himself out another big shot and put water in it. He was lighting up a little.
‘That was a fine bunch out here this afternoon,’ he said. ‘They don’t take any chances, those two.’
Then a little later, ‘Well,’ he says, ‘they’re right. What the hell’s the good in taking chances?’
‘Don’t you want another, Jerry?’ he said. ‘Come on, drink along with me.’
‘I don’t need it, Jack,’ I said. ‘I feel all right.’
‘Just have one more,’ Jack said. It was softening him up.
‘All right,’ I said.
Jack poured one for me and another big one for himself.
‘You know.’ he said, ‘I like liquor pretty well. If I had n’t been boxing I would have drunk quite a lot.’
‘Sure,’ I said.
‘You know,’ he said, ‘I missed a lot, boxing.’
‘You made plenty of money.’
‘Sure, that’s what I’m after. You know I miss a lot, Jerry.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Well,’ he says, ’like about the wife. And being away from home so much. It don’t do my girls any good. “Who’s your old man?” some of those society kids’ll say to them. “My old man’s Jack Brennan.” That don’t do them any good.’
‘Hell,’ I said. ‘All that makes a difference is if they got dough.’
‘Well,’ says Jack, ‘I got the dough for them all right.’
He poured out another drink. The bottle was about empty.
‘Put some water in it,’ I said. Jack poured in some water.
‘You know,’ he says, ‘you ain’t got any idea how I miss the wife.’
‘You ain’t got any idea. You can’t have an idea what it’s like.’
‘It ought to be better out in the country than in town.’
‘With me now,’ Jack said, ‘it don’t make any difference where I am. Y’ou can’t have an idea what it ’s like.’
‘Have another drink.’
‘Am I getting soused? Do I talk funny?’
‘You’re coming on all right.’
‘You can’t have an idea what it’s like. They ain’t anybody can have an idea what it’s like.’
‘Except the wife,’ I said.
‘She knows,’ Jack said. ‘She knows, all right. She knows. You bet she knows.’
‘Put some water in that,’ I said.
‘Jerry,’ says Jack, ‘you can’t have an idea what it gets to be like.’
He was good and drunk. He was looking at me steady. His eyes were sort of too steady.
‘You’ll sleep, all right,’ I said.
‘ Listen, Jerry,’ Jack says. ‘ You want to make some money? Get some dough down on Walcott.’
‘Listen, Jerry.’ Jack put down the glass. ‘I’m not drunk now, see? You know what I’m betting on him? Eilty grand.’
‘That’s a lot of dough.’
‘Fifty grand,’ Jack says, ‘at two to one. I’ll get twenty-five thousand bucks. Get some money on him, Jerry.’
‘It sounds good,’ I said.
‘How can I beat him?’ Jack says. ‘It ain’t crooked. How can I beat him? Why not make money on it?’
‘Put some water in that,’ I said.
‘I’m through after this fight,’ Jack says. ‘I’m through with it. I got to take a beating. Why should n’t I make money on it?’
‘I ain’t slept for a week,’ Jack says. ‘All night I lay awake and worry my can off. I can’t sleep, Jerry. You ain’t got an idea what it’s like when you can’t sleep.’
‘I can’t sleep. That’s all. I just can’t sleep. What’s the use of taking care of yourself all these years when you can’t sleep?’
‘You ain’t got an idea what it’s like, Jerry, when you can’t sleep.’
‘Put some water in that,’ I said.
Well, about eleven o’clock Jack passes out and I put him to bed. Finally he’s so he can’t keep from sleeping. I helped him get his clothes off and got him into bed.
‘You’ll sleep, all right, Jack,’ I said.
‘Sure,’ Jack says, ‘I’ll sleep now.’
‘Good night, Jack,’ I said.
‘Good night, Jerry,’ Jack says. ‘You’re the only friend I got.’
‘Oh, hell,’ I said.
‘You’re the only friend I got,’ Jack says. ‘The only friend I got.’
‘Go to sleep,’ I said.
‘I’ll sleep,’ Jack says.
Downstairs Hogan was sitting at the desk in the office reading the papers. He looked up.
‘Well, you get your boy friend to sleep?’ he asks.
‘It’s better for him than not sleeping,’ Hogan said.
‘You’d have a hell of a time explaining that to these sport writers, though,’ Hogan said.
‘Well, I’m going to bed myself,’ I said.
‘Good night,’ said Hogan.
In the morning I came downstairs about eight o’clock and got some breakfast. Hogan had his two customers out in the barn doing exercises. I went out and watched them.
‘One! Two! Three! Four!’ Hogan was counting for them. ‘Hello, Jerry,’ he said. ‘Is Jack up yet?’
‘No. He’s still sleeping.’
I went back to my room and packed up to go in to town. About nine-thirty I heard Jack getting up in the next room. When I heard him go downstairs I went down after him. Jack was sitting at the breakfast table. Hogan had come in and was standing beside the table.
‘How do you feel, Jack?’ I asked him.
‘Not so bad.’
‘Sleep well?’ Hogan asked.
‘I slept, all right,’ Jack said. ‘I got a thick tongue, but I ain’t got a head.’
‘Good,’ said Hogan. ‘That was good liquor.’
‘Put it on the bill,’ Jack says.
‘What time you want to go in to town?’ Hogan asked.
‘Before lunch,’ Jack says. ‘The eleven o’clock train.’
Hogan went out.
‘Sit down, Jerry,’ Jack said.
I sat down at the table. Jack was eating a grapefruit. When he’d find a seed he’d spit it out in the spoon and dump it on the plate.
‘I guess I was pretty stewed last night,’ he started.
‘You drank some liquor.’
‘I guess I said a lot of fool things.’
‘You were n’t bad.’
‘ Where’s Hogan ? ’ he asked. He was through with the grapefruit.
He’s out in front in the office.’
‘What did I say about betting on the fight?’ Jack asked. He was holding the spoon and sort of poking at the grapefruit with it.
The girl came in with some ham and eggs and took away the grapefruit.
‘ Bring me another glass of milk,’ Jack said to her. She went out.
‘You said you had fifty grand on Walcott,’ I said.
‘That’s right,’ Jack said.
‘That’s a lot of money.’
‘I don’t feel too good about it,’ Jack said.
‘Something might happen.’
‘No,’ Jack said. ‘He wants the title bad. They’ll be shooting with him, all right.’
‘You can’t ever tell.’
‘No. He wants the title. It’s worth a lot of money to him.’
‘ Fifty grand is a lot of money,’ I said.
‘It’s business,’ said Jack. ‘I can’t win. You know I can’t win anyway.’
‘As long as you’re in there you got a chance.’
‘No,’ Jack says. ‘I’m all through. It’s just business.’
‘ How do you feel ? ’
‘Pretty good,’ Jack said. ‘The sleep was what I needed.’
‘You might go good.’
‘I’ll give them a good show,’ Jack said.
After breakfast Jack called up his wife on the long distance. He was inside the booth telephoning.
‘That’s the first time he’s called her up since he’s out here,’ Hogan said.
’He writes her every day.’
‘Sure,’ Hogan says. ‘A letter only costs two cents.’
Hogan said good-bye to us, and Bruce, the nigger rubber, drove us down to the train in the cart.
‘Good-bye, Mr. Brennan,’ Bruce said at the train. ‘I sure hope you knock his can off.’
‘So long,’ Jack said. He gave Bruce two dollars. Bruce had worked on him a lot. He looked kind of disappointed. Jack saw me looking at Bruce holding the two dollars.
‘It’s all in the bill,’ he said. ‘Hogan charged me for the rubbing.’
On the train going into town Jack did n’t talk. He sat in the corner of the seat with his ticket in his hatband and looked out of the window. Once he turned and spoke to me.
‘I told the wife I’d take a room at the Shelby to-night,’ he said. ‘It’s just around the corner from the Garden. I can go up to the house to-morrow morning.’
‘That’s a good idea,’ I said. ‘Your wife ever see you fight, Jack?’
‘No,’ Jack says. ‘She never seen me fight.’
I thought, he must be figuring on taking an awful beating if he does n’t want to go home afterward. In town we took a taxi up to the Shelby. A boy came out and took our bags and we went in to the desk.
‘How much are the rooms?’ Jack asked.
‘We only have double rooms,’ the clerk says. ‘I can give you a nice double room for ten dollars.’
‘That’s too steep.’
‘I can give you a double room for seven dollars.’
‘With a bath?’
‘You might as well bunk with me, Jerry,’ Jack says.
‘Oh,’ I said, ‘I’ll sleep down at my brother-in-law’s.’
‘I don’t mean for you to pay it,’ Jack says. ‘I just want to get my money’s worth.’
‘Will you register, please?’ the clerk says.
He looked at the names. ‘Number 238, Mr. Brennan.’
We went up in the elevator. It was a nice big room with two beds and a door opening into a bathroom.
‘This is pretty good,’ Jack says.
The boy who brought us up pulled up the curtains and brought in our bags. Jack did n’t make any move, so I gave the boy a quarter. We washed up and Jack said we better go out and get something to eat.
We ate a lunch at Jimmy Handley’s place. Quite a lot of the boys were there. When we were about half through eating, John came in and sat down with us. Jack did n’t talk much.
‘How are you on the weight, Jack?’ John asked him. Jack was putting away a pretty good lunch.
‘I could make it with my clothes on,’ Jack said. He never had to worry about taking off weight. He was a natural welterweight and he’d never gotten fat. He’d lost weight out at Hogan’s.
‘ Well, that’s one thing you never had to worry about,’ John said.
‘That’s one thing,’ Jack says.
We went around to the Garden to weigh in after lunch. The match was made at a hundred forty-seven pounds at three o’clock. Jack stepped on the scales with a towel around him. The bar did n’t move. Walcott had just weighed and was standing with a lot of people around him.
‘Let’s see what you weigh, Jack,’ Freedman, Walcott’s manager, said.
‘All right, weigh him then,’ Jack jerked his head toward Walcott.
‘Drop the towel,’ Freedman said.
‘ What do you make it ? ’ Jack asked the fellows who were weighing.
‘Hundred and forty-three pounds,’ the fat man who was weighing said.
‘You’re down fine, Jack,’ Freedman says.
‘Weigh him,’ Jack says.
Walcott came over. He was a blonde with wide shoulders and arms like a heavyweight. He did n’t have much legs. Jack stood about half a head taller than he did.
‘Hello, Jack,’ he said. His face was plenty marked up.
‘Hello,’ said Jack. ‘How you feel?’
‘Good,’ Walcott says. He dropped the towel from around his waist and stood on the scales. He had the widest shoulders and back you ever saw.
‘One hundred and forty-six pounds and twelve ounces.’
Walcott stepped off and grinned at Jack.
‘Well,’ John says to him, ‘Jack’s spotting you about four pounds.’
‘More than that when I come in, Kid,’ Walcott says. ‘I’m going to go and eat now.’
We went back and Jack got dressed. ‘He’s a pretty tough-looking boy,’ Jack says to me.
‘He looks as though he’d been hit plenty of times.’
‘Oh yes,’ Jack says. ‘He ain’t hard to hit.’
‘Where are you going?’ John asked when Jack was dressed.
‘Back to the hotel,’ Jack says. ‘You looked after everything?’
‘Yes,’ John says. ‘It’s all looked after.’
‘I’m going to lie down a while,’ Jack says.
‘I’ll come around for you about a quarter to seven and we’ll go and eat.’
Up at the hotel Jack took off his shoes and his coat and lay down for a while. I wrote a letter. I looked over a couple of times and Jack was n’t sleeping. He was lying perfectly still, but every once in a while his eyes would open. Finally he sits up.
‘Want to play some cribbage, Jerry?’ he says.
‘Sure,’ I said.
He went over to his suitcase and got out the cards and the cribbage board. We played cribbage and he won three dollars off me. John knocked at the door and came in.
‘Want to play some cribbage, John?’ Jack asked him.
John put his kelly down on the table. It was all wet. His coat was wet, too.
’Is it raining?’ Jack asks.
‘It’s pouring,’ John says. ‘The taxi I had got tied up in the traffic and I got out and walked.’
‘Come on, play some cribbage,’ Jack says.
‘You ought to go and eat.'
‘No,’ says Jack. ‘I don’t want to eat yet.’
So they played cribbage for about half an hour and Jack won a dollar and a half off him.
‘Well, I suppose we got to go eat.’ Jack says. He went to the window and looked out.
‘ Is it still raining?’
‘Let’s eat in the hotel,’ John says.
‘All right.,’ Jack says. ‘I ’ll play you once more to see who pays for the meal.’
After a little while Jack gets up and says, ‘You buy the meal, John,’ and we went downstairs and ate in the big dining room.
After we ate we went upstairs and Jack played cribbage with John again and won two dollars and a half off him. Jack was feeling pretty good. John had a bag with him with all his stuff in it. Jack took off his shirt and collar and put on a jersey and a sweater, so he would n’t catch cold when he came out, and put his ring clothes and his bathrobe in a bag.
‘You all ready?’ John asks him. ‘I ’ll call up and have them get a taxi.’
Pretty soon the telephone rang and they said the taxi was waiting.
We rode down in the elevator and went out through the lobby, and got in the taxi and rode around to the Garden. It was raining hard, but there was a lot of people outside on the streets. The Garden was sold out. As we came in on our way to the dressing room I saw how full it was. It looked like half a mile down to the ring. It was all dark. Just the lights over the ring.
‘It’s a good thing, with this rain, they did n’t try and pull this fight in the ball park,’ John said.
‘They got a good crowd,’ Jack says.
‘This is a fight that would draw a lot more than the Garden could hold.’
‘You can’t tell about the weather,’ Jack says.
John came to the door of the dressing room and poked his head in. Jack was sitting there with his bathrobe on; he had his arms folded and was looking at the floor. John had a couple of handlers with him. They looked over his shoulder. Jack looked up.
‘Is he in?’ he asked.
‘He’s just gone down,’ John said.
We started down. Walcott was just getting into the ring. The crowd gave him a big hand. He climbed through between the ropes and put his two fists together and smiled and shook them at the crowd, first at one side of the ring, then at the other, and then sat down. Jack got a good hand coming down through the crowd. Jack is Irish, and the Irish always get a pretty good hand. An Irishman don’t draw in New York like a Jew or an Eyetalian, but they always get a good hand. Jack climbed up and bent down to go through the ropes, and Walcott came over from his corner and pushed the rope down for Jack to go through. The crowd thought that was wonderful. Walcott put his hand on Jack’s shoulder and they stood there just for a second.
‘So you’re going to be one of these popular champions,’ Jack says to him. ‘Take your goddam hand off my shoulder.’
‘Be yourself,’ Walcott says.
This is all great for the crowd. How gentlemanly the boys are before the fight! How they wish each other luck!
Solly Freedman comes over to our corner while Jack is bandaging his hands and John is over in Walcott’s corner. Jack put his thumb through the slit in the bandage and then wrapped his hand nice and smooth. I taped it around the wrist and twice across the knuckles.
‘Hey,’ Freedman says. ‘Where do you get all that tape?’
‘Feel of it,’Jack says. ‘It’s soft, ain’t it? Don’t be a hick.’
Freedman stands there all the time while Jack bandages the other hand, and one of the boys that’s going to handle him brings the gloves and I pull them on and work them around.
‘Say, Freedman,’ Jack asks. ‘What nationality is this Walcott?’
‘I don’t know,’ Solly says. ‘He’s some sort of a Dane.’
‘He’s a Bohemian,’ the lad who brought the gloves said.
The referee called them out to the centre of the ring and Jack walks out. Walcott comes out smiling. They met and the referee put his arm on each of their shoulders.
‘Hello, Popularity,’ Jack says to Walcott.
‘ Be yourself.'
‘What do you call yourself Walcott for,’ Jack says. ‘ Did n’t you know he was a nigger?’
‘Listen—’ says the referee, and he gives them the same old line. Once Walcott interrupts him. He grabs Jack’s arm and says, ‘Can I hit when he’s got me like this?’
‘Keep your hands off me,’ Jack says. ‘There ain’t no moving picture of this.’
They went back to their corners.
I lifted the bathrobe off Jack and he leaned on the ropes and flexed his knees a couple of times and scuffed his shoes in the rosin. The gong rang and Jack turned quick and went out. Walcott came toward him and they touched gloves, and as soon as Walcott dropped his hands Jack jumped his left into his face twice. There was n’t anybody ever boxed better than Jack. Walcott was after him, going forward all the time with his chin on his chest. He’s a hooker and he carries his hands pretty low. All he knows is to get in there and sock. But every time he gets in there close, Jack has the left hand in his face. It’s just as though it’s automatic. Jack just raises the left hand up and it’s in Walcott’s face. Three or four times Jack brings the right over, but Walcott gets it on the shoulder or high up on the head. He’s just like all these hookers. The only thing he’s afraid of is another one of the same kind. He’s covered everywhere you can hurt him. He don’t care about a left hand in his face.
After about four rounds Jack has him bleeding bad and his face all cut up, but every time Walcott’s got in close he’s socked so hard he’s got two big red patches on both sides just below Jack’s ribs. Every time he gets in close, Jack ties him up, then gets one hand loose and uppercuts him, but when Walcott gets his hands loose he socks Jack in the body so they can hear it outside in the street. He’s a socker.
It goes along like that for three rounds more. They don’t talk any. They’re working all the time. We worked over Jack plenty, too, in between the rounds. He don’t look good at all, but he never does much work in the ring. He don’t move around much, and that left hand is just automatic. It’s just like it was connected with Walcott’s face and Jack just had to wish it in every time. Jack is always calm in close, and he does n’t waste any juice. He knows everything about working in close, too, and he’s getting away with a lot of stuff. While they were in our corner I watched him tie Walcott up, get his right hand loose, turn it, and come up with an uppercut that got Walcott’s nose with the heel of the glove. Walcott was bleeding bad and leaned his nose on Jack’s shoulder so as to give Jack some of it, too, and Jack sort of lifted his shoulder sharp and caught him against the nose, and then brought down the right hand and uppercut him again.
Walcott was sore as hell. By the time they’d gone five rounds he hated Jack’s guts. Jack was n’t sore; that is, he was n’t any sorer than he always was. He certainly did used to make the fellows he fought hate boxing. That was why he hated Kid Lewis so. He never got the Kid’s goat. Kid Lewis always had about three new dirty things Jack could n’t do. Jack was as safe as a church all the time he was in there as long as he was strong. He certainly was treating Walcott rough. The funny thing was, it looked as though Jack was an open classic boxer. That was because he had all that stuff, too.
After the seventh round Jack says, ‘My left’s getting heavy.’
From then he started to take a beating. It did n’t show at first. But instead of him running the fight it was Walcott was running it. Instead of being safe all the time, now he was in trouble. He couldn’t keep Walcott out with the left hand now. It looked as though it was the same as ever, only now, instead of Walcott’s punches just missing him, they were just hitting him. He took an awful beating in the body.
‘What’s the round?’ Jack asked.
‘I can’t stay,’ Jack says. ‘My legs are going bad.’
Walcott had been just hitting him for a long time. It was like a baseball catcher pulls the ball and takes some of the shock off. From now on Walcott commenced to land solid. He certainly Avas a socking machine. Jack was just trying to block everything now. It did n’t show what an awful beating he was taking. In between the rounds I worked on his legs. The muscles would flutter under my hands all the time I AA’as rubbing them. He was sick as hell.
‘How’s it go?’ he asked John, turning around, his face all swollen.
‘It’s his fight.’
‘I think I can last,’ Jack says. ‘I don’t want this bohunk to stop me.’
It was going just the way he thought it would. He knew he couldn’t beat Walcott. He was n’t strong any more. He Avas all right, though. His money was all right and now he wanted to finish it off right to please himself. He did n’t want to be knocked out.
The gong rang and we pushed him out. He went out slow. Walcott came right out after him. Jack put the left in his face and Walcott took it, came in under it, and started working on Jack’s body. Jack tried to tie him up and it was just like trying to hold on to a buzz saw. Jack broke away from if and missed with the right. Walcott clipped him with a left hook and Jack went down. He went down on his hands and knees and looked at us. The referee started counting. Jack was watching us and shaking his head. At eight John motioned to him. You could n’t hear on account of the crowd. Jack got up. The referee had been holding Walcott back with one arm while he counted.
When Jack was on his feet Walcott started toward him.
‘Watch yourself, Jimmy,’ I heard Solly Freedman yell to him.
Walcott came up to Jack looking at him. Jack stuck the left hand at him. Walcott just shook his head. He backed Jack up against the ropes, measured him, and then hooked the left very light to the side of Jack’s head and socked the right into the body as hard as he could sock just as low as he could get it. He must have hit him five inches below the belt. I thought the eyes would come out of Jack’s head. They stuck way out. His mouth come open.
The referee grabbed Walcott. Jack stepped forward. If he went down, there went fifty thousand bucks. He walked as though all his insides were going to fall out.
‘It was n’t low,’ he said. ‘It was a accident.’
The crowd were yelling so you could n’t hear anything.
‘I’m all right,’ Jack says. They were right in front of us.
The referee looks at John and then he shakes his head.
‘Come on, you dirty Polack,’ Jack says to Walcott.
John was hanging on to the ropes. He had the towel ready to chuck in. Jack was standing just a little way out from the ropes. He took a step forward. I saw the sweat come out on his face like somebody had squeezed it, and a big drop went down his nose.
‘Come on and fight,’ Jack says to Walcott.
The referee looked at John and waved Walcott on.
‘Go in there, you slob,’ he says.
Walcott went in. He did n’t know what to do either. He never thought Jack could have stood it. Jack put the left in his face. There was all this yelling going on. They were right in front of us. Walcott hit him twice. Jack’s face was the worst thing I ever saw — the look on it. He was holding himself and all his body together, and it all showed on his face. All the time he was thinking and holding his body in where it was busted.
Then he started to sock. His face looked awful all the time. He started to sock with his hands low down by his side, swinging at Walcott. Walcott covered up and Jack was swinging wild at Walcott’s head. Then he swung the left and it hit Walcott in the groin and the right hit Walcott right bang where he’d hit Jack. Way low. Walcott went down and grabbed himself there and rolled and twisted around.
The referee grabbed Jack and pushed him toward his corner. John jumps into the ring. There was all this yelling going on. The referee was talking with the judges and then the announcer got into the ring with the megaphone and says, ‘Walcott on a foul.’
The referee is talking to John and he says, ‘ What could I do? Jack would n’t take the foul. Then when he’s groggy he fouls him.’
‘He’d lost it anyway,’ John says.
Jack’s sitting on the chair. I’ve got his gloves off and he’s holding himself in down there with both hands.
‘Go over and say you’re sorry,’ John says into his ear. ‘It’ll look good.’
Jack stands up and the sweat comes out all over his face. I put the bathrobe around him and he holds himself in with one hand under the bathrobe and goes across the ring. They’ve picked Walcott up and they’re working on him. There’s a lot of people in Walcott’s corner. Nobody speaks to Jack. He leans over Walcott.
‘I’m sorry,’ Jack says. ‘I did n’t mean to foul you.’
Walcott does n’t say anything. He looks too damned sick.
‘Well, you’re the champion now,’ Jack says to him. ‘I hope you get a hell of a lot of fun out of it.’
‘Leave the kid alone,’ Solly Freedman says.
‘ Hello, Solly,’ Jack says. ’ I’m sorry I fouled your boy.’
Freedman just looks at him.
Jack went over to his corner walking that funny jerky way, and we got him down through the ropes and through the reporters’ tables and out down the aisle. A lot of people want to slap Jack on the back. He goes out through all that mob in his bathrobe to the dressing room. It’s a popular win for Walcott. That’s the way the money was bet in the Garden.
Once we got inside the dressing room Jack lay down and shut his eyes.
‘We want to get to the hotel and get a doctor,’ John says.
‘I’m all busted inside,’ Jack says.
‘I’m sorry as hell, Jack,’ John says.
‘It’s all right,’ Jack says.
He lies there with his eyes shut.
‘They certainly tried a nice double cross,’ John said.
‘ Your friends Morgan and Steinfelt,’ Jack said. ‘You got nice friends.’
He lies there; his eyes are open now. His face has still got that awful drawn look.
‘It’s funny how fast you can think when it means that much money,’ Jack says.
‘You’re some boy, Jack,’ John says.
‘No,’ Jack says. ‘It was nothing.’