Friday, March 01, 2013
The Graduate by Charles Webb (The New American Library 1963)
"Come on in the living room a minute," Mr. Braddock said. "You'll get to bed right after a little food."
Benjamin slid back down the stairs, stood and followed his father slowly into the living room. He dropped down onto the sofa.
"Well now," Mr. Braddock said. "Let's have the report."
Benjamin's head fell back and he closed his eyes again.
"What about the money. Did you cash my check?"
"Well what happened. Did you get some work?"
"What kind of work was it."
"Come on, Ben," he said. "I'm interested in this."
Benjamin took a deep breath. "I fought a fire," he said.
"That big fire up there?" his father said. "You fought it?"
"Well that's right up there by Shasta. You must have been right up there in the Shasta country. That's beautiful country."
"How much did they pay you on a deal like that," his father said.
"Five an hour."
"Five dollars an hour?"
"They give you the equipment and you go in and try to put out the flames."
"Well what about the Indians. I was reading they transported some Indians up there from a tribe in Arizona. Professional fire fighters. Did you see some of them?"
"I saw some Indians. Yes."
Mr. Braddock shook his head. "That is real exciting," he said. "What else happened."
Benjamin didn't answer.
"You didn't have any trouble getting rides."
"Well tell me where you stayed."
Mr. Braddock nodded. "Maybe this trip wasn't such a bad idea after all," he said. "Did you have any other jobs besides the fire?"
"Well what were they."
"Dad, I washed dishes. I cleaned along the road. Now I am so tired I am going to be sick."
"Talk to a lot of interesting people, did you?"
"Dad, I talked to a lot of people. None of them were particularly interesting."
"Oh," his father said. "Did you talk to some of the Indians?"
"They speak English, do they?"
"Well what else did you-"
"Dad, the trip was a waste of time and I'd rather not talk about it."
"Oh?" his father said. "Why do you say that."
"It was a bore."
"Well it doesn't sound too boring if you were up there throwing water on that fire."
"It was a boring fire."
It was quiet for a few moments. "Can't you tell me a little more about it?"
"Let's hear about some of the people you bumped into."
"You want to?"
"Sure," his father said. "What kind of people stopped to give you rides."
"Queers usually stopped," he said. "I averaged about five queers a day. One queer I had to slug in the face and jump out of his car."
"Have you ever seen a queer Indian, Dad?"
"Have you ever had a queer Indian approach you while you're trying to keep your clothes from burning up?"
Mr. Braddock sat frowning at him from the chair. "Did that happen?" he said.
"Dad, for what it was worth I did the whole tour. I talked to farmers, I talked to-"
"What would you talk to them about."
"Their crops. What else do they know how to talk about."