Dubin's Lives

Dubin's Lives by Bernard Malamud

Book: Dubin's Lives by Bernard Malamud Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bernard Malamud
momentarily stiffening, then with affection ran her hand through his hair.
    â€œI have my suitcase stuff all over the bed so I’d better finish unpacking like I see you have.”
    â€œI thought I’d get my things out of the way.”
    â€œSo will I. It won’t take long.”
    â€œâ€˜Had we but world enough and time,’ dear Fanny,” Dubin, rising, sighed.
    â€œWe have all week.”
    â€œYou’re a practical type.”

    â€œI’m not romantic, if that’s what you mean, though sometimes I have romantic thoughts.”
    â€œIt lingers in me, perhaps it’s my generation.”
    â€œForget your generation. Even if you are older than I you act young when you want to.”
    â€œL’chayim,” said Dubin, holding aloft an imaginary glass.
    â€œIt’s cool,” she laughed.
    She was sorting the contents of a small store: casual clothing—piles of it —and plastic containers of creams, lotions, deodorants. This consumer’s side of her was new to him—he barely knew the girl—and he wondered how it squared away with her abstemious stay in a Buddhist commune.
    â€œIt’s no ripoff. I happen to have this uncle who owns a drugstore. And my mother sends me clothes she doesn’t want.”
    Amid her possessions he noticed a rubber diaphragm in a worn plastic case.
    â€œDon’t you use the pill?”
    â€œMy uncle says it can give you breast cancer.”
    â€œMy wife never approved it.”
    Fanny also carried a traveling iron and portable clothesline she could rig up in any bathroom. “Anything you want to hang on the clothesline, please do it, Bill.”
    He was helping her put away things into drawers and the medicine cabinet.
    â€œWhy don’t you call me William, Fanny?”
    â€œI don’t like to call you what your wife does.”
    That hadn’t occurred to him, but he preferred William to Bill.
    She fell, with a comic groan, into an armchair, her nightie billowing.
    â€œWhat do you say we get into bed, Fanny?”
    â€œIf you wish, Will-yam.”
    â€œCall me Bill if you like. What do you wish?”
    â€œAre you worried I might call you Bill and your wife would hear it?”
    He was startled, could not foresee circumstances in which Kitty and Fanny were likely to meet. Don’t consider yourself her equal, Dubin thought.
    She regarded him cunningly. “Is something bothering you?”
    â€œMy mood at the moment is, as they say, macho, but you are being coy.”
    â€œNo, I’m not. What did you tell your wife was the reason you were going away for a week?”
    â€œI indicated I had some unexpected bits of research to do in Italy to settle
a few things on my mind. But since she knows I’m presently working on Lawrence’s early life, she may have wondered whether I wanted to get away for some other reason—possibly so I could see my work in perspective.”
    â€œWill she believe what you said—about going to Italy?”
    â€œShe believes me,” Dubin said soberly.
    â€œThis isn’t your first affair since you were married, is it, William? I wouldn’t think so.”
    He thanked her for saying his name. “No, but it is with someone—if you’ll pardon the expression—as young as you, a long trip involved, and some elaborate deception. Kitty happens to be easy to lie to, which makes it harder to do. I don’t like not to be honest with her.”
    â€œSometimes you sound innocent.”
    â€œI’m not innocent though my experience is limited.”
    â€œLike to some one-night lays with older-type ladies?”
    â€œNot exactly grandmothers.”
    â€œHow many?” she asked curiously.
    â€œA few affairs—none prolonged.”
    â€œIn how long a time?”
    â€œI’ve been married twenty-five years and have been adulterous the last twelve.”
    â€œAdulterous? What were you afraid

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