Go See Eddie
The Kansas Review VII, December 1940, pages 121-124
HELEN’S bedroom was always straightened while she bathed so that when she came out of the bathroom her dressing table was free of last night’s cream jars and soiled tissues, and there were glimpses in her mirror of flat bedspreads and patted chair cushions. When it was sunny, as it was now, there were bright warm blotches to bring out the pastels chosen from the decorator’s little book.
She was brushing her thick red hair when Elsie, the maid, came in.
“Mr. Bobby’s here, ma’am,” said Elsie.
“Bobby?” asked Helen. “I thought he was in Chicago. Hand me my robe, Elsie. Then show him in.”
Arranging her royal-blue robe to cover her long bare legs, Helen went on brushing her hair. Then abruptly a tall sandy-haired man in a polo coat brushed behind and past her, snapping his index finger against the back of her neck. He walked directly to the chaise-lounge on the other side of the room and stretched himself out, coat and all. Helen could see him in her mirror.
“Hello, you,” she said. “Hey. That thing was just straightened. I thought you were in Chicago.”
“Got back last night,” Bobby said, yawning. “God, I’m tired.”
“Successful?” asked Helen. “Didn’t you go to hear some girl sing or something?”
“Uh,” Bobby affirmed.
“Was she any good, the girl?”
“Lot of breast-work. No voice.”
Helen set down her brush, got up, and seated herself in the peach-colored straight chair at Bobby’s feet. From her robe pocket she took an emory board and proceeded to apply it to her long, flesh-pink nails. “What else do you know?” she inquired.
“Not much,” said Bobby. He sat up with a grunt, took a package of cigarettes from his overcoat pocket,
stuck them back, then stood up to remove the overcoat. He tossed the heavy thing on Helen’s bed, scattering a colony of sunbeams. Helen continued filing her nails. Bobby sat on the edge of the chaise-lounge, lighted a cigarette, and leaned forward. The sun was on them both, lushing her milky skin, and doing nothing for Bobby but showing up his dandruff and the pockets under his eyes.
“How would you like a job?” Bobby asked.
“A job?” Helen said, filing. “What kind of a job?”
“Eddie Jackson’s going into rehearsals with a new show. I saw him last night. Y’oughtta see how gray that guy’s getting. I said to him, have you got a spot for my sister? He said maybe, and I told him you might be around.”
“It’s a good thing you said might,” Helen said, looking up at him. “What kind of a spot? Third from the left or something?”
“I didn’t ask him what kind of a spot. But it’s better than nothing, isn’t it?”
Helen didn’t answer him, went on attending to her nails.
“Why don’t you want a job?”
“I didn’t say I didn’t want one.”
“Well, then what’s the matter with seeing Jackson?”
“I don’t want any more chorus work. Besides, I hate Eddie Jackson’s guts.”
“Yeah,” said Bobby. He got up and went to the door. “Elsie!” he called. “Bring me a cup of coffee!” Then he sat down again.
“I want you to see Eddie,” he told her.
“I don’t want to see Eddie.”
“I want you to see him. Put down that goddamn file a minute.”
She went on filing.
“I want you to go up there this afternoon, hear?”
“I’m not going up there this afternoon or any other afternoon,” Helen told him, crossing her legs. “Who do you think you’re ordering around?”