J. d. salinger, teddy (part)

“The trouble is,” Teddy said, “most people don’t want to see things the way they are. They don’t even want to stop getting born and dying all the time. They just want new bodies all the time, instead of stopping and staying with God, where it’s really nice.” He reflected. “I never saw such a bunch of apple-eaters,” he said. He shook his head.

At that moment, a white-coated deck steward, who was making his rounds within the area, stopped in front of Teddy and Nicholson and asked them if they would care to have morning broth. Nicholson didn’t respond to the question at all. Teddy said, “No, thank you,” and the deck steward passed them by.

“If you’d rather not discuss this, you don’t have to,” Nicholson said abruptly, and rather brusquely. He flicked his cigarette ash. “But is it true, or isn’t it, that you informed the whole Leidekker examining bunch – Walton, Peet, Larsen, Samuels, and that bunch – when and where and how they would eventually die? Is that true, or isn’t it? You don’t have to discuss it if you don’t want to, but the way the rumor around Boston – “

“No, it is not true,” Teddy said with emphasis. “I told them places, and times, when they should be very, very careful. And I told them certain things it might be a good idea for them to do. . . But I didn’t say anything like that. I didn’t say anything was inevitable, that way.” He took out his handkerchief again and used it. Nicholson waited, watching him. “And I didn’t tell Professor Peet anything like that at all. Firstly, he wasn’t one of the ones who were kidding around and asking me a bunch of questions. I mean all I told Professor Peet was that he shouldn’t be a teacher any more after January – that’s all I told him.” Teddy, sitting back, was silent a moment. “All those other professors, they practically forced me to tell them all that stuff. It was after we were all finished with the interview and making that tape, and it was quite late, and they all kept sitting around smoking cigarettes and getting very kittenish.”

“But you didn’t tell Walton, or Larsen, for example, when or where or how death would eventually come?” Nicholson pressed.

“No. I did not,” Teddy said firmly. “I wouldn’t have told them any of that stuff, but they kept talking about it. Professor Walton sort of started it. He said he really wished he knew when he was going to die, because then he’d know what work he should do and what work he shouldn’t do, and how to use his time to his best advantage, and all like that. And then they all said that. . . So I told them a little bit.”

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J. d. salinger, teddy (part)