It's That Time of the Year Again


Christmas Eve 1930. The Lantenengo Country Club.

"Julian English sat there watching him, through eyes that he permitted to appear sleepier than they felt. Why, he wondered, did he hate Harry Reilly? Why couldn't he stand him? What was there about Reilly that caused him to say to himself: "If he starts one more of those moth-eaten stories I'll throw this drink in his face." But he knew he would not throw this drink or any other drink in Harry Reilly's face. Still, it was fun to think about it. . . . Yes, it would be fun to watch. The whole drink, including the three round-cornered lumps of ice.  At least one lump would hit Reilly in the eye, and the liquid would splash all over his shirt, slowly wilting it as the Scotch and soda trickled down the bosom to the crevice at the waistcoat. . . . The liquid, Julian reflected, would trickle down inside the waistcoat and down, down into Reilly's trousers, so that even if the ice did not hurt his eye, the spots on his fly would be so embarrassing he would leave. And there was one thing Reilly could not stand; he could not stand being embarrassed. That was why it would be so good. . . . So when the drink hit him he most likely would control himself sufficiently to remember who threw it, and he therefore would not say the things he would like to say. The yellow son of a bitch probably would pull out his handkerchief and try to laugh it off. . . "And I would like to say," Julian said to himself, "that I thought it was about time someone shut him up." . . . . But he knew he would not throw this drink, now almost gone, or the fresh drink which he was about to mix. "

"The band was playing Something to Remember You By. . . . The stag line was scattered over the floor  by the time the band was working on the second chorus of the tune, and when Johnny Dibble suddenly appeared, breathless, at the place where his cronies customarily stood, there were only two young men for him to address, "Jeez," he said. "Jeezozz H. Kee-rist. You hear about what just happened? . . . Julian English. He just threw a highball in Harry Reilly's face. Jeest!"

From Appointment in Samarra.

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