“Me an’ Lennie’s rollin’ up a stake,” said George. “I might go in an’ set and have a shot, but I ain’t puttin’ out no two and a half.”
“Well, a guy got to have some fun sometime,” said Whit.
The door opened and Lennie and Carlson came in together. Lennie crept to his bunk and sat down, trying not to attract attention. Carlson reached under his bunk and brought out his bag. He didn’t look at old Candy, who still faced the wall. Carlson found a little cleaning rod in the bag and a can of oil. He laid them on his bed and then brought out the pistol, took out the magazine and snapped the loaded shell from the chamber. Then he fell to cleaning the barrel with the little rod. When the ejector snapped, Candy turned over and looked for a moment at the gun before he turned back to the wall again.
Carlson said casually, “Curley been in yet?”
“No,” said Whit. “What’s eatin’ on Curley?”
Carlson squinted down the barrel of his gun. “Lookin’ for his old lady. I seen him going round and round outside.”
Whit said sarcastically, “He spends half his time lookin’ for her, and the rest of the time she’s lookin’ for him.”
Curley burst into the room excitedly. “Any you guys seen my wife?” he demanded.
“She ain’t been here,” said Whit.
Curley looked threateningly about the room. “Where the hell’s Slim?”
“Went out in the barn,” said George. “He was gonna put some tar on a split hoof.”
Curley’s shoulders dropped and squared. “How long ago’d he go?”
“Five — ten minutes.”
Curley jumped out the door and banged it after him.
Whit stood up. “I guess maybe I’d like to see this,” he said. “Curley’s just spoilin’ or he wouldn’t start for Slim. An’ Curley’s handy, God damn handy. Got in the finals for the Golden Gloves. He got newspaper clippings about it.” He considered. “But jus’ the same, he better leave Slim alone. Nobody don’t know what Slim can do.”
“Thinks Slim’s with his wife, don’t he?” said George.
“Looks like it,” Whit said. “’Course Slim ain’t. Least I don’t think Slim is. But I like to see the fuss if it comes off. Come on, le’s go.”
George said, “I’m stayin’ right here. I don’t want to get mixed up in nothing. Lennie and me got to make a stake.”
Carlson finished the cleaning of the gun and put it in the bag and pushed the bag under his bunk. “I guess I’ll go out and look her over,” he said. Old Candy lay still, and Lennie, from his bunk, watched George cautiously.
When Whit and Carlson were gone and the door closed after them, George turned to Lennie. “What you got on your mind?”
“I ain’t done nothing, George. Slim says I better not pet them pups so much for a while. Slim says it ain’t good for them; so I come right in. I been good, George.”
“I coulda told you that,” said George.