Chapter 11 Summary
Major is the first one to see and greet Alfred when he arrives at the clubroom. He calls him “the champ” and acts like Alfred is his best buddy as he pulls him down into the dark clubroom.
Some people are dancing and others are sprawled around the room on floor pillows. Alfred refuses a drink because he is in training and asks where James is. Major says James will arrive later and again offers Alfred something to drink. When Alfred again refuses, Major encourages him to take a night off since he is already in shape and needs to have some fun.
June is Major’s girlfriend, and she takes Alfred’s arm and introduces him to her cousin Arlene. June briefly lights a match, and Alfred sees a “dark, chubby girl with a curly, blond wig and think, pink lipstick.” She smiles and asks Alfred to dance, and he is surprised at how close she is to him, swaying in the dark. Her perfume is strong and makes him a little dizzy in the hot, crowded room.
Twice Major offers Alfred liquor and twice Alfred rejects it; when Major appears with an orange soaked in vodka and says “this is good for you, man,” Alfred takes it. The party begins to blur and Alfred and Arlene continue dancing in a corner with the wine bottle Major left them.
Hollis dances by and says hello. Alfred again asks about James, and Hollis assure him that James is coming. Soon a marijuana cigarette makes its way to Alfred; he refuses, but Arlene puts it between his lips and he inhales.
The rest of the night is full of drinking and smoking. “At dawn, an invisible fist slams into his stomach,” and he rushes outside to the alley. For a moment Alfred thinks about the good feeling he has when he runs through the park, but then he goes back downstairs into the clubroom.
New supplies arrive and the party begins again. Alfred and James finally meet, and James looks haggard and dissipated. He asks why James never called because they were once partners, and he assures James that he just forgot about the burglar alarm. James says nothing matters anymore; Alfred was just a fool who forgot.
Hollis appears with a packet of white powder, and Alfred follows James into the corner and tries to convince James not to “mess with that stuff.”
Alfred pleads with his former friend, and James finally looks directly at Alfred and asks him what he has to say. Alfred tries to clear his head and think, but he passes out and James just shakes his head and returns his attention to the white powder.