Chapter 8

Julian is alone in the office going over the financial situation of his car dealership. He deceives himself by thinking he needs five thousand dollars when, in fact, he knows two thousand would be enough. When last year he asked Harry for a loan, he also requested more than he needed because his reasoning was that getting a big sum was as hard as getting a small one. Julian thinks that it was easier to see less of Harry during the summer than during the winter. He thinks that Harry must have been less obnoxious last summer than he is now or else he, Julian, wouldn’t have requested such big loan. But he discards this thought and admits that Harry hasn’t changed. These considerations lead him to think about the relationship between Caroline and Harry. Julian thinks that you can prevent something bad from happening by anticipating it in your mind. Therefore he must turn his thoughts against Caroline and Harry’s sexual attraction in order to defeat its realization. But then fear takes over his thoughts, and he thinks that if Caroline ever opened herself to another man she would “close herself around him,” and “it would be forever.” He reaches for his Colt .25 automatic and goes to the washroom. He puts the barrel of the pistol in his mouth and tastes the oil in it. He washes himself and returns to his desk, where he smokes and drinks whiskey. He pities himself. Caroline calls on the phone and tells him he must stop mistreating Mrs. Grady. She threatens with calling off the party if he returns home drunk. Julian drives to the Country Club, where only some elderly lawyers from Gibbsville and other towns are having lunch. Froggy Ogden shows up, and Julian acts snotty. Froggy says that he hasn’t come for a friendly chat. When Julian belittles Froggy’s alleged sense of superiority over having lost an arm in World War I, Froggy insults him and reproaches his behavior the night before. Caroline is his cousin, Froggy says. When he knew she was going to marry Julian, Froggy tried to stop her because he never thought Julian was any good. The tension between the two men increases, and Froggy challenges Julian to a fight. Julian declines because he likes Froggy and wouldn’t fight a one-armed man. The club’s steward and some patrons join the squabble, and Julian ends up...

(The entire section is 957 words.)