Son of a Smaller Hero

Son of a Smaller Hero by Mordecai Richler

Book: Son of a Smaller Hero by Mordecai Richler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mordecai Richler
full. Talk swayed like the candlelight. There were red girls in green dresses, pink men in blue suits, and brown girls inyellow dresses. Women with tanned backs and men with pallid faces and women with flaxen heads.
    “What, darling?”
    “Against non-intervention in … Isn’t that what you call
    Miriam didn’t reply. Noah scratched his head and began to make quick circles with his hands. “Christ, I feel stupid. I can’t think.”
    A swaying man grabbed Perry, the West Indian pianist, by the arm. “Your people deserve a break,” he said.
    They left.
    They walked aimlessly up St. Catherine Street, past the Loew’s Theatre and the Chicken-Coop and Ogilvy’s department store. The sign at F.D.R .’s said: “WE SELL 4½ TONS OF SPAGHETTI A WEEK.” They got caught up by the traffic lights at Guy Street, and overheard a man say: “Did you know that the human head weighs thirty-five pounds?” They looked at each other and laughed. Miriam pressed Noah’s hand. “I want to kiss you,” he said. She giggled. “Not here,” she said. A tattered man in steel-rimmed glasses was distributing pamphlets at the next corner. “Put God in your will,” he yelled. “You’re sure to be in His.” Noah stopped and lit a cigarette, and she stood close to him. He touched her cheek. “God,” he said. She smiled. “Your eyes are wet,” she said. “I know,” he said, taking her arm again. They walked for a bit without saying anything, then Miriam stopped him and took a puff of his cigarette. They couldn’t look at each other without laughing. There was a big poster of Yvon Robert over the doors of the Forum. He was going to wrestle Sir Harry Northcliffe next Wednesday night. A world’s championship match. The poster made them laugh, too. Everything did. Finally, Miriam said: “We’d better get a taxi.”
    They got into a taxi, and that’s when her mood changed – changed swiftly. I still love Theo, she thought. I don’t want to hurt him anyway. Noah, she noticed, was sulking. She kissed him, but he didn’t respond. I can’t have them both in the apartment, she thought. I’ll go crazy. Noah was thinking just about the same thing. He wasthinking that he would have to move. But what if she won’t come with me, he thought. She hasn’t said that she would.
    When they pulled up in front of the apartment Miriam was quickly transformed into an efficient, modern woman. She let go of his hand and made up her face. Then she checked to see if there was any lipstick on him. He pulled away from her abruptly. “I’ll tell him right now,” he said. “We’ll go away tonight.”
    “Are you mad?”
    “Miriam, Miriam. You were serious. You weren’t …”
    “I love you,” she said.
    “Don’t … I’m in the next room. I hear things. I …”
    “Don’t torment me, Noah, please don’t.”
    “I can’t go in now. I’m going for a walk. I’ll see you later.”
    “All right,” she said.
    Sadly he watched her walk away from him.
    Earlier that evening Theo had come home from his lecture and found Miriam’s note. He had been vaguely pleased that the two of them had gone out together, for he was troubled, and he wanted time to think. His days, from the very beginning, had been ordered. When he had been a small boy his mother had ordered them for him, just as she had ordered his father’s days, hardly allowing him time enough for death. Dr. Hall had, in fact, died most inconveniently. Had he held out for just another two weeks he would certainly have been chosen the C.C.F . candidate for Verdun. But Mrs. Hall was conditioned to disappointments. G.B.S. had answered none of her letters: her daughter, Beatrice, had married a Catholic and did not practise birth control. She wrote Theo weekly letters from Toronto, as lengthy as they were erudite, dealing with political and population problems and criticizing
    His days, from the beginning, had been ordered in the nature of a preparation. Ever since he

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