“Tried and tried,” said Lennie, “but it didn’t do no good. I remember about the rabbits, George.”
“The hell with the rabbits. That’s all you ever can remember is them rabbits. O.K.! Now you listen and this time you got to remember so we don’t get in no trouble. You remember settin’ in that gutter on Howard Street and watchin’ that blackboard?”
Lennie’s face broke into a delighted smile. “Why sure, George. I remember that.... but.... what’d we do then? I remember some girls come by and you says.... you says....”
“The hell with what I says. You remember about us goin’ in to Murray and Ready’s, and they give us work cards and bus tickets?”
“Oh, sure, George. I remember that now.” His hands went quickly into his side coat pockets. He said gently, “George.... I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it.” He looked down at the ground in despair.
“You never had none, you crazy bastard. I got both of ‘em here. Think I’d let you carry your own work card?”
Lennie grinned with relief. “I.... I thought I put it in my side pocket.” His hand went into the pocket again.
George looked sharply at him. “What’d you take outa that pocket?”
“Ain’t a thing in my pocket,” Lennie said cleverly.
“I know there ain’t. You got it in your hand. What you got in your hand — hidin’ it?”
“I ain’t got nothin’, George. Honest.”
“Come on, give it here.”
Lennie held his closed hand away from George’s direction. “It’s on’y a mouse, George.”
“A mouse? A live mouse?”
“Uh-uh. Jus’ a dead mouse, George. I didn’t kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead.”
“Give it here!” said George.
“Aw, leave me have it, George.”
“ Give it here! ”
Lennie’s closed hand slowly obeyed. George took the mouse and threw it across the pool to the other side, among the brush. “What you want of a dead mouse, anyways?”
“I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along,” said Lennie.
“Well, you ain’t petting no mice while you walk with me. You remember where we’re goin’ now?”
Lennie looked startled and then in embarrassment hid his face against his knees. “I forgot again.”