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Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

Page 30

And then from out of Lennie’s head there came a little fat old woman. She wore thick bull’s-eye glasses and she wore a huge gingham apron with pockets, and she was starched and clean. She stood in front of Lennie and put her hands on her hips, and she frowned disapprovingly at him.

And when she spoke, it was in Lennie’s voice. “I tol’ you an’ tol’ you,” she said. “I tol’ you, ‘Min’ George because he’s such a nice fella an’ good to you.’ But you don’t never take no care. You do bad things.”

And Lennie answered her, “I tried, Aunt Clara, ma’am. I tried and tried. I couldn’t help it.”

“You never give a thought to George,” she went on in Lennie’s voice. “He been doin’ nice things for you alla time. When he got a piece of pie you always got half or more’n half. An’ if they was any ketchup, why he’d give it all to you.”

“I know,” said Lennie miserably. “I tried, Aunt Clara, ma’am. I tried and tried.”

She interrupted him. “All the time he coulda had such a good time if it wasn’t for you. He woulda took his pay an’ raised hell in a whorehouse, and he coulda set in a pool room an’ played snooker. But he got to take care of you.”

Lennie moaned with grief. “I know, Aunt Clara, ma’am. I’ll go right off in the hills an’ I’ll fin’ a cave an’ I’ll live there so I won’t be no more trouble to George.”

“You jus’ say that,” she said sharply. “You’re always sayin’ that, an’ you know sonofabitching well you ain’t never gonna do it. You’ll jus’ stick around an’ stew the b’Jesus outa George all the time.”

Lennie said, “I might jus’ as well go away. George ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits now.”

Aunt Clara was gone, and from out of Lennie’s head there came a gigantic rabbit. It sat on its haunches in front of him, and it waggled its ears and crinkled its nose at him. And it spoke in Lennie’s voice too.

“Tend rabbits,” it said scornfully. “You crazy bastard. You ain’t fit to lick the boots of no rabbit. You’d forget ‘em and let ‘em go hungry. That’s what you’d do. An’ then what would George think?”

“I would not forget,” Lennie said loudly.

“The hell you wouldn’,” said the rabbit. “You ain’t worth a greased jack-pin to ram you into hell. Christ knows George done ever’thing he could to jack you outa the sewer, but it don’t do no good. If you think George gonna let you tend rabbits, you’re even crazier’n usual. He ain’t. He’s gonna beat hell outa you with a stick, that’s what he’s gonna do.”

Now Lennie retorted belligerently, “He ain’t neither. George won’t do nothing like that. I’ve knew George since — I forget when — and he ain’t never raised his han’ to me with a stick. He’s nice to me. He ain’t gonna be mean.”

“Well, he’s sick of you,” said the rabbit. “He’s gonna beat hell outa you an’ then go away an’ leave you.”

“He won’t,” Lennie cried frantically. “He won’t do nothing like that. I know George. Me an’ him travels together.”

But the rabbit repeated softly over and over, “He gonna leave you, ya crazy bastard. He gonna leave ya all alone. He gonna leave ya, crazy bastard.”

Lennie put his hands over his ears. “He ain’t, I tell ya he ain’t.” And he cried, “Oh! George — George — George!”

George came quietly out of the brush and the rabbit scuttled back into Lennie’s brain.

George said quietly, “What the hell you yellin’ about?”

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