Magazine article Humanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Magazine article Humanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Article excerpt

THE FAMILIAR 192OS GOTHIC PALISADES OF NEW YORK HOSPITALWERE just up ahead. White Manhattan! They took the Seventy-first Street exit off the drive.

Maria parked across the street from the town house and her fourth-floor hideaway. Sherman got out and immediately scrutinized the right rear fender. To his great relief-no dent; no sign of anything, at least not here in the dark. Since Maria had told her husband she wouldn't be returning from Italy until the next day, she wanted to take the luggage up to the little apartment, too. Three times Sherman climbed up the creaking staircase, in the miserable gloaming of the Landlord's Halos, hauling up the luggage.

Maria took off her royal-blue jacket with the Paris shoulders and put it on the bed. Sherman took off his jacket. It was badly ripped in the back, in the side seams. Huntsman, Savile Row, London. Cost a goddamned fortune. He threw it on the bed. His shirt was wringing wet. Maria kicked off her shoes and sat down in one of the bentwood chairs by the oak pedestal table and put one elbow on the table and let her head keel over against her forearm. The old table sagged in its sad way. Then she straightened up and looked at Sherman.

"I want a drink," she said. "You want one?"

"Yeah. You want me to fix them?"

"Unh-hunh. I want a lot of vodka and a little orange juice and some ice. The vodka's up in the cabinet."

He went in the mean little kitchen and turned on the light. A cockroach was sitting on the rim of a dirty frying pan on the stove. Well, the hell with it. He made Maria her vodka-and-orange juice and then poured himself an Old Fashioned glass full of scotch and put in some ice and a little water. …

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