On Christmas morning, Julian wakes up before the maid enters the room. It is eleven o’clock, and the day is bright and cold. Julian watches the icicles in the window and hears the Harley kids playing next door. When he turns to reach for his Lucky Strikes, he realizes Caroline didn’t sleep in her bed. He remembers the events of the night before and doesn’t feel remorse. His hangover is significant, though not worse than previous ones. Downstairs he sees a pile of Christmas presents and notices Caroline’s absence. He drinks orange juice and coffee and thinks that it would be all right not to see anyone again in his life as long as he had Caroline by his side. When Caroline returns home, she tells Julian he should return the expensive bracelet he gave her. After what he did to Harry the night before, they will need to save money. Julian minimizes the severity of the incident, but Caroline does not budge. Once Harry realizes that everyone in town already knows about the night before, he will try to get even with Julian. Caroline insists on returning the bracelet, and Julian asks if Harry has ever meant anything to her. She answers that she has no feelings toward Harry and laments that Julian will never believe her. She says that Julian threw a drink at Harry’s face because he thought Harry might have had an affair with her. Julian says he only threw it because he “can’t stand his stupid Irish face” and his stories. Caroline reminds him that last summer Julian borrowed money from Harry. Most of Julian’s friends owe Harry money and therefore are not going to side with Julian. It is the Depression, and Harry may be the only person in town who has money. Julian tries to get close, but Caroline reminds him that the night before he called her “whore and bitch and a lot worse.” She feels that the insults were not as bad as the public humiliation at the club. Julian wonders if his dad knows about the incident, but Caroline doubts it. Julian feels sorry that Caroline bought him a gift. She is the only person who knows what he needs, and yet he is mistreating her. “I’m a son of a bitch,” Julian tells himself.
Lute Fliegler jokes around with his wife while he reads the Gibbsville Sun. They discuss the plans for the day and how much candy their kids are having. Irma reminds Lute that last Christmas he had to drive to Reading to deliver an expensive car, and Lute replies that this year people can’t afford to give sports cars for Christmas. He recalls that the car was for the son of a Polish undertaker who crashed it on New Year’s Eve. Lute calls the garage to let them know his boss, Julian, is letting him use the Studebaker sedan that evening. Lute, Irma, and some friends will attend a party at the Stage Coach after supper. Irma and Lute talk about how expensive drinks are at the Coach. They discuss how much liquor the party’s host will provide and how much they should bring. Irma leaves to make the beds and iron Lute’s tuxedo. Lute keeps reading the paper, in which President Hoover is...
(The entire section is 1422 words.)