Monday, July 18, 2016

Dorothy Parker / New York to Detroit

by Dorothy Parker

"Already with Detroit," said the telephone operator.
"Hello," said the girl in New York.
"Hello?", said the young man in Detroit.
"Oh, Jack!", she said. "Oh, darling, it's so wonderful to hear you.You don'tknow how much I — "
"Hello?", he said.
"Ah, can't you hear me?"
she said. "Why, I can hear you just as if you wereright beside me. Is this any better, dear? Can you hear me now?"
"Who did you want to speak to?" he said.
"You, Jack!" she said. "You, you. This is Jean, darling. Oh, please try to hear me. This is Jean "
"Who?" he said.
"Jean," she said. "Ah, don't you know my voice? It's Jean, dear. Jean."
"Oh, hello there," he said. "Well. Well, for heaven’s sake. 
How are you?"
"I'm all right," she said. "Oh, I'm not, either, darling. I — oh, its just terrible. Ican’t stand it any more. Aren't you coming back? Please, when are you comingback! You don't know how awful it is, without you. It's been such a long time,dear — you said it would be just four or five days, and it s nearly three weeks. It's like years and years. Oh, its been so awful,  sweetheart — it's just — "
"Hey, I'm terribly sorry," he said, "but I can't hear one damn thing you'resaying. Can't you talk louder, or something?"
"I'll try, I'll try," she said. "Is this better? Now can you hear?"
"Yeah, now I can, a little," he said. "Don't talk so fast, will you? What did you say, before?"
"I said it's just awful without you," she said. "It's such a long time, dear. And Ihaven't had a word from you. I — oh, I've just been nearly crazy, Jack. Nevereven a postcard, dearest, or a — "
"Honestly, I haven't had a second," he said, "I've been working like a fool. God,I've been rushed."
"Ah, have you?" she said. "I'm sorry, dear. I've been silly.
But it was just — oh,it was just hell, never hearing a word.
I thought maybe you'd telephone to saygood night, sometimes, — you know, the way you used to, when you wereaway."
"Why, I was going to, a lot of times," he said, "but I thought you'd probably beout, or something."
"I haven't been out," she said. "I've been staying here, all by myself. It's — it'ssort of better, that way. I don't want to see people. Everybody says, 'When's Jack coming back?'
and 'What do you hear from Jack?' and I'm afraid I'll cry infront of them. Darling, it hurts so terribly when they ask me about you, and Ihave to say I don't — "
"This is the damnedest, lousiest connection I ever saw in my life," he said. "What hurts? What's the matter?"
"I said, it hurts so terribly when people ask me about you," she said, "and Ihave to say — Oh, never mind. Never mind.
How are you, dear? 
Tell me howyou are."
"Oh, pretty good," he said. "Tired as the devil. You all right?"
"Jack, I — that's what I wanted to tell you," she said. "I'm terribly worried. I'mnearly out of my mind. Oh, what will I do, dear, what are we going to do? Oh, Jack, Jack, darling!"
"Hey, how can I hear you when you mumble like that?" he said. "Can't you talklouder? Talk right into the what-you-call-it."
"I can’t scream it over the telephone!" she said. "Haven’t you any sense? Don'tyou know what I’m telling you? Don't you know? Don't you know?"
"I give up," he said. "First you mumble, and then you yell.
Look this doesn'tmake sense. I can’t hear anything, with this rotten connection. Why don't youwrite me a letter, in the morning? Do that, why don't you? And I'll write you one.
"Jack, listen, listen!" she said.
"You listen to me! I've got to talk to you. I tell youI'm nearly crazy. Please, dearest, hear what I'm saying. Jack, I — "
"Just a minute," he said. "Someone's knocking at the door.
Come in. Well, forcryin' out loud! Come on in, bumsHang your coats up on the floor, and sitdown. The Scotch is in the closet, and there's ice in that pitcher. Makeyourselves at home — act like you were in a regular bar. Be with you rightaway. Hey, listen, there's a lot of crazy Indians just come in here, and I can'thear myself think. You go ahead and write me a letter tomorrow. Will you?"
"Write you a letter!" she said. "Oh, God, don't you think I'd have written you before, if I'd known where to reach you?
I didn't even know that, till they toldme at your office today.
I got so — "
"Oh, yeah, did they?" he said. "I thought I —  Ah, pipe down, will you? Give aguy a chance. This is an expensive talk going on here. Say, look, this must becosting you a million dollars.
You oughtn't to do this."
"What do you think I care about that?"  she said. "I'll die if I don't talk to you. I tell you I'll die, Jack. Sweetheart, what is it? Don't you want to talk to me?  Tell me what makes you this way. Is it — don't you really like me any more? Is thatit?
Don't you, Jack?"
"Hell, I can't hear," he said. "Don't what?"
"Please," she said. "Please, please. Please, Jack, listen.
When are you comingback, darling? I need you so.
I need you so terribly. When are you coming back?"
"Why, that's the thing," he said. "That's what I was going to write you about tomorrow. Come on, now, how about shutting up just a minute? A joke's a joke. Hello... Hear me all right? Why, you see, the way things came out today, itlooks a little bit like I’d have to go on to Chicago for a while.
Looks like a prettybig thing, and it won’t mean a very long time? I don’t believe. Looks as if I’d begoing out there next week, I guess."
"Jack, no!" she said. "Oh, don't do that! You can't do hat. You can’t leave mealone like this. I've got to see you, dearest.
I've got to. You've got to comeback, or I've got to come there to you.  I can’t go through this. Jack, I can't, I — "
"Look, we better say good-night now," he said, "No use trying to make outwhat you say, when you talk all over yourself like that. And there's so much racket here — Hey, can the harmony, will you!  God, it's terrible. Want me tobe thrown out of here! You go get a good night's sleep, and I'll write you all about it tomorrow."
"Listen!" she said. "Jack, don't go 'way! Help me, darling.
Say something to help me through tonight. Say you love me, for God's sake say you still love me. Say it. Say it."
"Ah, I can't talk," he said. "This is fierce. I'll write you first thing in the morning. Bye. Thanks for calling up."
"Jack!" she said. "Jack, don't go. Jack, wait a minute. I've got to talk to you. I'll talk quietly. I won't cry. I'll talk so you can hear me.  Please, dear, please — "
"All through with Detroit?", said the operator.
"No!" she said. "No, no, no! Get him," get him back again right away! Get himback. No, never mind. Never mind it now.
Never — "

Vanity Fair, October 1928.

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