Holden is drunk, and very cold when he enters the park to look for Phoebe. He breaks the record he has brought for her, and just feels "blue as hell". He looks for the lagoon and the ducks he used to so enjoy, but he has trouble finding the lagoon, and when he does, the ducks are no longer there. The park is not as he remembers it from his childhood.
After finding the lagoon, Holden sits on a bench to wait for Phoebe, but he is "shivering like a bastard, and the back of his hair...(is) sort of full of little hunks of ice". Holden begins to worry about catching pneumonia, and maybe even dying. He becomes spooked by the thought of a "whole bunch of them sticking (him) in a...cemetery and all", as they did with his brother, Allie, and, remembering the trauma his parents experienced at Allie's death, begins to feel sorry for them because of the sorrow they would have to revisit if he died too. Holden cannot get the thought of the ultimate loneliness of death out of his mind, and he starts to think too about "how old Phoebe would feel if (he) got pneumonia and died". Unable to escape his morbid thoughts, Holden figures he'd better just "sneak home and see (Phoebe)", being proactive "in case (he) died and all". Holden leaves the park, and heads for home (Chapter 20).