“Two beers slowed down the benzedrine-inspired drumming in his body.
Three beers and his head was clearing, and then came the need for a cigarette.
‘Anybody got a cigarette?’
‘Sorry, I don’t smoke,’ said Joe.
‘Nor do I,’ said Dick.
Tydon took out his pouch and handed it to Grant.
Grant wished he hadn’t raised the question; he would give up smoking rather than ask Tydon for another cigarette, or anything else. He hated Tydon, he realised, with a clear, hard hatred.
Still, the tobacco was good.
Joe said to the publican:‘Give us a packet of Craven A, mate.’
The publican handed the cigarettes to Joe and Joe slapped them on the bar in front of Grant.
‘Here y’are, mate. I used to smoke, I know what it’s like to be without ’em.’
‘Look, really—thanks very much, but…I mean…’ Grant laughed foolishly.
‘Take ’em, John. Go on, mate, a few bob’s nothing to me.’
‘But I…’ but what could he do? ‘Well, thanks very much.’
Tydon did not make any attempt to buy beer, and it did not seem to enter the miners’ heads that he should. They took it in turns to order the rounds of four.
Four beers and a man’s troubles appear not as grave as they did before he had one beer. But a man could still rather regret that he had no money, and a man could feel sick at being given a packet of cigarettes.
Grant made a fairly serious attempt to buy the fifth round, but Joe, helped by Dick this time, brushed him aside.
‘Well, I’ll tell you what—as soon as I get some money you must let me take you on a bash.’That sounded banal even as he said it.
‘That’s all right, John, don’t worry about it.’
Five beers and a man begins to rather like his companions, except for Tydon.Tydon was a rat of the first water. It was remarkable that two men like the miners would associate with him.With all their faults they were men, and Tydon was a twisted, revolting creature.
‘Have you always been a miner, Joe?’
‘No, John, only since the war. Me and Dick drifted in here together and liked it, so we stuck.’
‘What did you do before the war?’
‘You mean fought professionally?’
‘Yeah. Can’t you see our noses been broken?’
‘No. I hadn’t noticed.’
‘Well they have, both of them.’
Joe and Dick were so alike to Grant that he kept confusing them. They corrected him gently and good-humouredly.
‘No, I’m Dick.’
‘No, he’s Joe.’
‘You know, I used to do a bit of boxing.’
‘Did you, eh, John? Pro?’
‘Oh no, just amateur.’
‘Welter—it was a few years ago, mind you.’
‘We were light-heavy. It’s a mug’s game though, bein’ a pro.’
Seven or eight or nine beers and a man is in control of himself and his destiny, no matter how bad a hangover he had when he woke up.
To round things off Joe and Dick and Tydon had a double whisky followed quickly by another beer. Grant baulked at this, but he had a final beer, to keep them company.
Then Joe—or was it Dick?—bought a couple of dozen bottles of beer and two bottles of whisky.
‘We might need a drink before we finish.’
And so they went out into the night to shoot.”
Wake in fright
Text Publishing, 2009 (publicado originalmente en 1961)
**** Este libro es una relectura. Wake in fright es un favorito personal, podría haberlo releido por gusto pero lo hice porque dos editoriales me encargaron un prólogo para la traducción, que se publicará en breve en castellano y catalán. Cuando estén disponibles en librerías se lo recomendaré con gran vehemencia.