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City Of Glass - New York Trilogy #1, City of Glass - CD 02 parte I (1)

City of Glass - CD 02 parte I (1)

“How much would you like?” she asked. “It doesn't matter. I'll leave that up to you.” “Five hundred?” “That would be more than enough.” “Good. I'll go get my checkbook.” Virginia Stillman stood up and smiled at Quinn again. “I'll get you a picture of Peter's father, too. I think I know just where it is.”

Quinn thanked her and said he would wait. He watched her leave the room and once again found himself imagining what she would look like without any clothes on. Was she somehow coming on to him, he wondered, or was it just his own mind trying to sabotage him again? He decided to postpone his meditations and take up the subject again later.

Virginia Stillman walked back into the room and said, “Here's the check. I hope I made it out correctly.”

Yes, yes, thought Quinn as he examined the check, everything is tip-top. He was pleased with his own cleverness. The check, of course, was made out to Paul Auster, which meant that Quinn could not be held accountable for impersonating a private detective without a license. It reassured him to know that he had somehow put himself in the clear. The fact that he would never be able to cash the check did not trouble him. He understood, even then, that he was not doing any of this for money. He slipped the check into the inside breast pocket of his jacket.

“I'm sorry there's not a more recent photograph,” Virginia Stillman was saying. “This one dates from more than twenty years ago. But I'm afraid it's the best I can do.”

Quinn looked at the picture of Stillman's face, hoping for a sudden epiphany, some sudden rush of subterranean knowledge that would help him to understand the man. But the picture told him nothing. It was no more than a picture of a man. He studied it for a moment longer and concluded that it could just as easily have been anyone.

“I'll look at it more carefully when I get home,” he said, putting it into the same pocket where the check had gone. “Taking the passage of time into account, I'm sure I'll be able to recognize him at the station tomorrow.”

“I hope so,” said Virginia Stillman. “It's terribly important, and I'm counting on you.”

“Don't worry,” said Quinn. “I haven't let anyone down yet.”

She walked him to the door. For several seconds they stood there in silence, not knowing whether there was something to add or if the time had come to say good-bye. In that tiny interval, Virginia Stillman suddenly threw her arms around Quinn, sought out his lips with her own, and kissed him passionately, driving her tongue deep inside his mouth. Quinn was so taken off guard that he almost failed to enjoy it.

When he was at last able to breathe again, Mrs. Stillman held him at arm's length and said, “That was to prove that Peter wasn't telling you the truth. It's very important that you believe me.”

“I believe you,” said Quinn. “And even if I didn't believe you, it wouldn't really matter.”

“I just wanted you to know what I'm capable of.”

“I think I have a good idea.”

She took his right hand in her two hands and kissed it. “Thank you, Mr. Auster. I really do think you're the answer.”

He promised he would call her the next night, and then he found himself walking out the door, taking the elevator downstairs, and leaving the building. It was past midnight when he hit the street.

4

Quinn had heard of cases like Peter Stillman before. Back in the days of his other life, not long after his own son was born, he had written a review of a book about the wild boy of Aveyron, and at the time he had done some research on the subject. As far as he could remember, the earliest account of such an experiment appeared in the writings of Herodotus: the Egyptian pharaoh Psamtik isolated two infants in the seventh century B.C. and commanded the servant in charge of them never to utter a word in their presence. According to Herodotus, a notoriously unreliable chronicler, the children learned to speak—their first word being the Phrygian word for bread. In the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II repeated the experiment, hoping to discover man's true “natural language” using similar methods, but the children died before they ever spoke any words. Finally, in what was undoubtedly a hoax, the early-sixteenth-century King of Scotland, James IV, claimed that Scottish children isolated in the same manner wound up speaking “very good Hebrew.”

Cranks and ideologues, however, were not the only ones interested in the subject. Even so sane and skeptical a man as Montaigne considered the question carefully, and in his most important essay, the Apology for Raymond Sebond, he wrote: “I believe that a child who had been brought up in complete solitude, remote from all association (which would be a hard experiment to make), would have some sort of speech to express his ideas. And it is not credible that Nature has denied us this resource that she has given to many other animals…. But it is yet to be known what language this child would speak; and what has been said about it by conjecture has not much appearance of truth.”

Beyond the cases of such experiments, there were also the cases of accidental isolation—children lost in the woods, sailors marooned on islands, children brought up by wolves—as well as the cases of cruel and sadistic parents who locked up their children, chained them to beds, beat them in closets, tortured them for no other reason than the compulsions of their own madness—and Quinn had read through the extensive literature devoted to these stories. There was the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk (thought by some to be the model for Robinson Crusoe) who had lived for four years alone on an island off the coast of Chile and who, according to the ship captain who rescued him in 1708, “had so much forgot his language for want of use, that we could scarce understand him.” Less than twenty years later, Peter of Hanover, a wild child of about fourteen, who had been discovered mute and naked in a forest outside the German town of Hamelin, was brought to the English court under the special protection of George I. Both Swift and Defoe were given a chance to see him, and the experience led to Defoe's 1726 pamphlet, Mere Nature Delineated. Peter never learned to speak, however, and several months later was sent to the country, where he lived to the age of seventy, with no interest in sex, money, or other worldly matters. Then there was the case of Victor, the wild boy of Aveyron, who was found in 1800. Under the patient and meticulous care of Dr. Itard, Victor learned some of the rudiments of speech, but he never progressed beyond the level of a small child. Even better known than Victor was Kaspar Hauser, who appeared one afternoon in Nuremberg in 1828, dressed in an outlandish costume and barely able to utter an intelligible sound. He was able to write his name, but in all other respects he behaved like an infant. Adopted by the town and entrusted to the care of a local teacher, he spent his days sitting on the floor playing with toy horses, eating only bread and water. Kaspar nevertheless developed. He became an excellent horseman, became obsessively neat, had a passion for the colors red and white, and by all accounts displayed an extraordinary memory, especially for names and faces. Still, he preferred to remain indoors, shunned bright light, and, like Peter of Hanover, never showed any interest in sex or money. As the memory of his past gradually came back to him, he was able to recall how he had spent many years on the floor of a darkened room, fed by a man who never spoke to him or let himself be seen. Not long after these disclosures, Kasper was murdered by an unknown man with a dagger in a public park.

It had been years now since Quinn had allowed himself to think of these stories. The subject of children was too painful for him, especially children who had suffered, had been mistreated, had died before they could grow up. If Stillman was the man with the dagger, come back to avenge himself on the boy whose life he had destroyed, Quinn wanted to be there to stop him. He knew he could not bring his own son back to life, but at least he could prevent another from dying. It had suddenly become possible for him to do this, and standing there on the street now, the idea of what lay before him loomed up like a terrible dream. He thought of the little coffin that held his son's body and how he had seen it on the day of the funeral being lowered into the ground. That was isolation, he said to himself. That was silence. It did not help, perhaps, that his son's name had also been Peter.

5

At the corner of 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, he waved down a cab. As the car rattled through the park toward the West Side, Quinn looked out the window and wondered if these were the same trees that Peter Stillman saw when he walked out into the air and the light. He wondered if Peter saw the same things he did, or whether the world was a different place for him. And if a tree was not a tree, he wondered what it really was.

After the cab had dropped him off in front of his house, Quinn realized that he was hungry. He had not eaten since breakfast early that morning. It was strange, he thought, how quickly time had passed in the Stillman apartment. If his calculations were correct, he had been there for more than fourteen hours. Within himself, however, it felt as though his stay had lasted three or four hours at most. He shrugged at the discrepancy and said to himself, “I must learn to look at my watch more often.”

He retraced his path along 107th Street, turned left on Broadway, and began walking uptown, looking for a suitable place to eat. A bar did not appeal to him tonight—eating in the dark, the press of boozy chatter—although normally he might have welcomed it. As he crossed 112th Street, he saw that the Heights Luncheonette was still open and decided to go in. It was a brightly lit yet dreary place, with a large rack of girlie magazines on one wall, an area for stationery supplies, another area for newspapers, several tables for patrons, and a long Formica counter with swivel stools. A tall Puerto Rican man in a white cardboard chef 's hat stood behind the counter. It was his job to make the food, which consisted mainly of gristle-studded hamburger patties, bland sandwiches with pale tomatoes and wilted lettuce, milkshakes, egg creams, and buns. To his right, ensconced behind the cash register, was the boss, a small balding man with curly hair and a concentration camp number tattooed on his forearm, lording it over his domain of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. He sat there impassively, reading the night-owl edition of the next morning's Daily News.

The place was almost deserted at that hour. At the back table sat two old men in shabby clothes, one very fat and the other very thin, intently studying the racing forms. Two empty coffee cups sat on the table between them. In the foreground, facing the magazine rack, a young student stood with an open magazine in his hands, staring at a picture of a naked woman. Quinn sat down at the counter and ordered a hamburger and a coffee. As the counterman swung into action, he spoke over his shoulder to Quinn.

“Did you see the game tonight, man?”

“I missed it. Anything good to report?”

“What do you think?”

For several years Quinn had been having the same conversation with this man, whose name he did not know. Once, when he had been in the luncheonette, they had talked about baseball, and now, each time Quinn came in, they continued to talk about it. In the winter, the talk was of trades, predictions, memories. During the season, it was always the most recent game. They were both Mets fans, and the hopelessness of that passion had created a bond between them.



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City of Glass - CD 02 parte I (1)

“How much would you like?” she asked. "¿Cuanto te gustaría?" ella preguntó. “It doesn't matter. "No importa. I'll leave that up to you.” Te lo dejo a ti. “Five hundred?” “That would be more than enough.” “Good. I'll go get my checkbook.” Virginia Stillman stood up and smiled at Quinn again. “I'll get you a picture of Peter's father, too. También te daré una foto del padre de Peter. I think I know just where it is.” Creo que sé exactamente dónde está.

Quinn thanked her and said he would wait. Quinn le dio las gracias y dijo que esperaría. He watched her leave the room and once again found himself imagining what she would look like without any clothes on. La vio salir de la habitación y una vez más se encontró imaginando cómo se vería sin ropa. Was she somehow coming on to him, he wondered, or was it just his own mind trying to sabotage him again? ¿Estaría ella de alguna manera insinuándose, se preguntó, o era solo su propia mente tratando de sabotearlo de nuevo? He decided to postpone his meditations and take up the subject again later. Decidió posponer sus meditaciones y retomar el tema más tarde.

Virginia Stillman walked back into the room and said, “Here's the check. I hope I made it out correctly.”

Yes, yes, thought Quinn as he examined the check, everything is tip-top. Sí, sí, pensó Quinn mientras examinaba el cheque, todo está impecable. He was pleased with his own cleverness. Estaba complacido con su propia inteligencia. The check, of course, was made out to Paul Auster, which meant that Quinn could not be held accountable for impersonating a private detective without a license. El cheque, por supuesto, estaba a nombre de Paul Auster, lo que significaba que no se podía responsabilizar a Quinn por hacerse pasar por detective privado sin licencia. It reassured him to know that he had somehow put himself in the clear. Le tranquilizó saber que de alguna manera se había puesto a salvo. The fact that he would never be able to cash the check did not trouble him. El hecho de que nunca podría cobrar el cheque no le preocupaba. He understood, even then, that he was not doing any of this for money. He slipped the check into the inside breast pocket of his jacket.

“I'm sorry there's not a more recent photograph,” Virginia Stillman was saying. “This one dates from more than twenty years ago. But I'm afraid it's the best I can do.”

Quinn looked at the picture of Stillman's face, hoping for a sudden epiphany, some sudden rush of subterranean knowledge that would help him to understand the man. Quinn miró la imagen del rostro de Stillman, con la esperanza de una epifanía repentina, una repentina oleada de conocimiento subterráneo que lo ayudaría a comprender al hombre. But the picture told him nothing. It was no more than a picture of a man. He studied it for a moment longer and concluded that it could just as easily have been anyone. Lo estudió por un momento más y concluyó que fácilmente podría haber sido cualquiera.

“I'll look at it more carefully when I get home,” he said, putting it into the same pocket where the check had gone. “Lo miraré más detenidamente cuando llegue a casa”, dijo, colocándolo en el mismo bolsillo donde había ido el cheque. “Taking the passage of time into account, I'm sure I'll be able to recognize him at the station tomorrow.” "Teniendo en cuenta el paso del tiempo, estoy seguro de que mañana podré reconocerlo en la estación".

“I hope so,” said Virginia Stillman. “It's terribly important, and I'm counting on you.” Es terriblemente importante y cuento contigo.

“Don't worry,” said Quinn. “I haven't let anyone down yet.” “Todavía no he defraudado a nadie”.

She walked him to the door. For several seconds they stood there in silence, not knowing whether there was something to add or if the time had come to say good-bye. Durante varios segundos se quedaron allí en silencio, sin saber si había algo que agregar o si había llegado el momento de decir adiós. In that tiny interval, Virginia Stillman suddenly threw her arms around Quinn, sought out his lips with her own, and kissed him passionately, driving her tongue deep inside his mouth. En ese pequeño intervalo, Virginia Stillman de repente arrojó sus brazos alrededor de Quinn, buscó sus labios con los suyos y lo besó apasionadamente, introduciendo su lengua profundamente dentro de su boca. Quinn was so taken off guard that he almost failed to enjoy it. Quinn estaba tan desprevenido que casi no lo disfrutó.

When he was at last able to breathe again, Mrs. Stillman held him at arm's length and said, “That was to prove that Peter wasn't telling you the truth. Cuando por fin pudo respirar de nuevo, la Sra. Stillman lo sostuvo con el brazo extendido y dijo: “Eso fue para probar que Peter no estaba diciendo la verdad. It's very important that you believe me.” Es muy importante que me creas.

“I believe you,” said Quinn. “And even if I didn't believe you, it wouldn't really matter.”

“I just wanted you to know what I'm capable of.” "Solo quería que supieras de lo que soy capaz".

“I think I have a good idea.”

She took his right hand in her two hands and kissed it. “Thank you, Mr. Auster. I really do think you're the answer.”

He promised he would call her the next night, and then he found himself walking out the door, taking the elevator downstairs, and leaving the building. It was past midnight when he hit the street. Era pasada la medianoche cuando salió a la calle.

4

Quinn had heard of cases like Peter Stillman before. Quinn había oído hablar de casos como el de Peter Stillman antes. Back in the days of his other life, not long after his own son was born, he had written a review of a book about the wild boy of Aveyron, and at the time he had done some research on the subject. En los días de su otra vida, poco después de que naciera su propio hijo, había escrito una reseña de un libro sobre el niño salvaje de Aveyron, y en ese momento había investigado un poco sobre el tema. As far as he could remember, the earliest account of such an experiment appeared in the writings of Herodotus: the Egyptian pharaoh Psamtik isolated two infants in the seventh century B.C. Por lo que podía recordar, el relato más antiguo de tal experimento apareció en los escritos de Heródoto: el faraón egipcio Psamético aisló a dos bebés en el siglo VII a. and commanded the servant in charge of them never to utter a word in their presence. y ordenó al sirviente a cargo de ellos que nunca pronunciara una palabra en su presencia. According to Herodotus, a notoriously unreliable chronicler, the children learned to speak—their first word being the Phrygian word for bread. Según Heródoto, un cronista notoriamente poco confiable, los niños aprendieron a hablar; su primera palabra fue la palabra frigia para pan. In the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II repeated the experiment, hoping to discover man's true “natural language” using similar methods, but the children died before they ever spoke any words. En la Edad Media, el emperador del Sacro Imperio Romano Germánico Federico II repitió el experimento, con la esperanza de descubrir el verdadero "lenguaje natural" del hombre usando métodos similares, pero los niños murieron antes de que siquiera pronunciaran una palabra. Finally, in what was undoubtedly a hoax, the early-sixteenth-century King of Scotland, James IV, claimed that Scottish children isolated in the same manner wound up speaking “very good Hebrew.” Finalmente, en lo que sin duda fue un engaño, el rey de Escocia de principios del siglo XVI, James IV, afirmó que los niños escoceses aislados de la misma manera terminaron hablando "muy buen hebreo".

Cranks and ideologues, however, were not the only ones interested in the subject. Los chiflados y los ideólogos, sin embargo, no fueron los únicos interesados en el tema. Even so sane and skeptical a man as Montaigne considered the question carefully, and in his most important essay, the Apology for Raymond Sebond, he wrote: “I believe that a child who had been brought up in complete solitude, remote from all association (which would be a hard experiment to make), would have some sort of speech to express his ideas. Incluso un hombre tan cuerdo y escéptico como Montaigne consideró la cuestión cuidadosamente, y en su ensayo más importante, la Apología de Raymond Sebond, escribió: “Creo que un niño que había sido criado en completa soledad, alejado de toda asociación ( lo cual sería un experimento difícil de hacer), tendría algún tipo de discurso para expresar sus ideas. And it is not credible that Nature has denied us this resource that she has given to many other animals…. Y no es creíble que la Naturaleza nos haya negado este recurso que le ha dado a muchos otros animales…. But it is yet to be known what language this child would speak; and what has been said about it by conjecture has not much appearance of truth.” Pero aún está por saberse qué idioma hablaría este niño; y lo que se ha dicho de él por conjetura no tiene mucha apariencia de verdad.”

Beyond the cases of such experiments, there were also the cases of accidental isolation—children lost in the woods, sailors marooned on islands, children brought up by wolves—as well as the cases of cruel and sadistic parents who locked up their children, chained them to beds, beat them in closets, tortured them for no other reason than the compulsions of their own madness—and Quinn had read through the extensive literature devoted to these stories. Más allá de los casos de tales experimentos, también estaban los casos de aislamiento accidental —niños perdidos en el bosque, marineros abandonados en islas, niños criados por lobos— así como los casos de padres crueles y sádicos que encerraban a sus hijos, encadenados. los llevaba a la cama, los golpeaba en los armarios, los torturaba sin otra razón que las compulsiones de su propia locura, y Quinn había leído la extensa literatura dedicada a estas historias. There was the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk (thought by some to be the model for Robinson Crusoe) who had lived for four years alone on an island off the coast of Chile and who, according to the ship captain who rescued him in 1708, “had so much forgot his language for want of use, that we could scarce understand him.” Less than twenty years later, Peter of Hanover, a wild child of about fourteen, who had been discovered mute and naked in a forest outside the German town of Hamelin, was brought to the English court under the special protection of George I. Both Swift and Defoe were given a chance to see him, and the experience led to Defoe's 1726 pamphlet, Mere Nature Delineated. Estaba el marinero escocés Alexander Selkirk (considerado por algunos como el modelo de Robinson Crusoe) que había vivido solo durante cuatro años en una isla frente a las costas de Chile y que, según el capitán del barco que lo rescató en 1708, “había tanto olvidó su lenguaje por falta de uso, que apenas podíamos entenderlo.” Menos de veinte años después, Pedro de Hannover, un niño salvaje de unos catorce años que había sido descubierto mudo y desnudo en un bosque en las afueras de la ciudad alemana de Hamelín, fue llevado ante la corte inglesa bajo la protección especial de Jorge I. Ambos Swift y Defoe tuvieron la oportunidad de verlo, y la experiencia condujo al panfleto de Defoe de 1726, Mere Nature Delineated. Peter never learned to speak, however, and several months later was sent to the country, where he lived to the age of seventy, with no interest in sex, money, or other worldly matters. Sin embargo, Peter nunca aprendió a hablar y varios meses después fue enviado al campo, donde vivió hasta los setenta años, sin ningún interés en el sexo, el dinero u otros asuntos mundanos. Then there was the case of Victor, the wild boy of Aveyron, who was found in 1800. Under the patient and meticulous care of Dr. Itard, Victor learned some of the rudiments of speech, but he never progressed beyond the level of a small child. Bajo el cuidado paciente y meticuloso del Dr. Itard, Víctor aprendió algunos de los rudimentos del habla, pero nunca progresó más allá del nivel de un niño pequeño. Even better known than Victor was Kaspar Hauser, who appeared one afternoon in Nuremberg in 1828, dressed in an outlandish costume and barely able to utter an intelligible sound. Incluso más conocido que Victor era Kaspar Hauser, que apareció una tarde en Nuremberg en 1828, vestido con un traje estrafalario y apenas capaz de emitir un sonido inteligible. He was able to write his name, but in all other respects he behaved like an infant. Adopted by the town and entrusted to the care of a local teacher, he spent his days sitting on the floor playing with toy horses, eating only bread and water. Adoptado por el pueblo y confiado al cuidado de un maestro local, pasaba los días sentado en el suelo jugando con caballitos de juguete, comiendo sólo a pan y agua. Kaspar nevertheless developed. Sin embargo, Kaspar se desarrolló. He became an excellent horseman, became obsessively neat, had a passion for the colors red and white, and by all accounts displayed an extraordinary memory, especially for names and faces. Still, he preferred to remain indoors, shunned bright light, and, like Peter of Hanover, never showed any interest in sex or money. As the memory of his past gradually came back to him, he was able to recall how he had spent many years on the floor of a darkened room, fed by a man who never spoke to him or let himself be seen. A medida que el recuerdo de su pasado volvía poco a poco a él, pudo recordar cómo había pasado muchos años en el suelo de una habitación a oscuras, alimentado por un hombre que nunca le hablaba ni se dejaba ver. Not long after these disclosures, Kasper was murdered by an unknown man with a dagger in a public park.

It had been years now since Quinn had allowed himself to think of these stories. Hacía años que Quinn no se permitía pensar en esas historias. The subject of children was too painful for him, especially children who had suffered, had been mistreated, had died before they could grow up. If Stillman was the man with the dagger, come back to avenge himself on the boy whose life he had destroyed, Quinn wanted to be there to stop him. Si Stillman era el hombre de la daga, regresaba para vengarse del chico cuya vida había destruido, Quinn quería estar allí para detenerlo. He knew he could not bring his own son back to life, but at least he could prevent another from dying. Sabía que no podía devolverle la vida a su propio hijo, pero al menos podía evitar que otro muriera. It had suddenly become possible for him to do this, and standing there on the street now, the idea of what lay before him loomed up like a terrible dream. De repente se había vuelto posible para él hacer esto, y ahora, de pie en la calle, la idea de lo que tenía ante él surgió como un sueño terrible. He thought of the little coffin that held his son's body and how he had seen it on the day of the funeral being lowered into the ground. Pensó en el pequeño ataúd que contenía el cuerpo de su hijo y en cómo lo había visto bajar al suelo el día del funeral. That was isolation, he said to himself. Eso era aislamiento, se dijo. That was silence. It did not help, perhaps, that his son's name had also been Peter. Tal vez no ayudó que el nombre de su hijo también fuera Peter.

5

At the corner of 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, he waved down a cab. En la esquina de la calle 72 y la avenida Madison, hizo señas a un taxi. As the car rattled through the park toward the West Side, Quinn looked out the window and wondered if these were the same trees that Peter Stillman saw when he walked out into the air and the light. Mientras el auto traqueteaba por el parque hacia el West Side, Quinn miró por la ventana y se preguntó si estos serían los mismos árboles que Peter Stillman vio cuando salió al aire y la luz. He wondered if Peter saw the same things he did, or whether the world was a different place for him. Se preguntó si Peter veía las mismas cosas que él o si el mundo era un lugar diferente para él. And if a tree was not a tree, he wondered what it really was. Y si un árbol no era un árbol, se preguntó qué era realmente.

After the cab had dropped him off in front of his house, Quinn realized that he was hungry. Después de que el taxi lo dejó frente a su casa, Quinn se dio cuenta de que tenía hambre. He had not eaten since breakfast early that morning. It was strange, he thought, how quickly time had passed in the Stillman apartment. Era extraño, pensó, lo rápido que había pasado el tiempo en el apartamento de Stillman. If his calculations were correct, he had been there for more than fourteen hours. Si sus cálculos eran correctos, llevaba allí más de catorce horas. Within himself, however, it felt as though his stay had lasted three or four hours at most. En su interior, sin embargo, sentía como si su estancia hubiera durado tres o cuatro horas a lo sumo. He shrugged at the discrepancy and said to himself, “I must learn to look at my watch more often.”

He retraced his path along 107th Street, turned left on Broadway, and began walking uptown, looking for a suitable place to eat. A bar did not appeal to him tonight—eating in the dark, the press of boozy chatter—although normally he might have welcomed it. As he crossed 112th Street, he saw that the Heights Luncheonette was still open and decided to go in. Al cruzar la calle 112, vio que el Heights Luncheonette aún estaba abierto y decidió entrar. It was a brightly lit yet dreary place, with a large rack of girlie magazines on one wall, an area for stationery supplies, another area for newspapers, several tables for patrons, and a long Formica counter with swivel stools. Era un lugar brillantemente iluminado pero lúgubre, con un gran estante de revistas femeninas en una pared, un área para artículos de papelería, otra área para periódicos, varias mesas para los clientes y un largo mostrador de fórmica con taburetes giratorios. A tall Puerto Rican man in a white cardboard chef 's hat stood behind the counter. Detrás del mostrador había un puertorriqueño alto con gorro de chef de cartón blanco. It was his job to make the food, which consisted mainly of gristle-studded hamburger patties, bland sandwiches with pale tomatoes and wilted lettuce, milkshakes, egg creams, and buns. Su trabajo consistía en hacer la comida, que consistía principalmente en hamburguesas cubiertas de cartílago, sándwiches suaves con tomates pálidos y lechuga marchita, batidos, cremas de huevo y bollos. To his right, ensconced behind the cash register, was the boss, a small balding man with curly hair and a concentration camp number tattooed on his forearm, lording it over his domain of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. A su derecha, escondido detrás de la caja registradora, estaba el jefe, un hombre bajo y calvo con cabello rizado y un número de campo de concentración tatuado en su antebrazo, dominando su dominio de cigarrillos, pipas y puros. He sat there impassively, reading the night-owl edition of the next morning's Daily News. Se quedó allí sentado, impasible, leyendo la edición nocturna del Daily News de la mañana siguiente.

The place was almost deserted at that hour. At the back table sat two old men in shabby clothes, one very fat and the other very thin, intently studying the racing forms. En la mesa del fondo estaban sentados dos ancianos vestidos con ropa andrajosa, uno muy gordo y el otro muy delgado, que estudiaban atentamente las formas de las carreras. Two empty coffee cups sat on the table between them. In the foreground, facing the magazine rack, a young student stood with an open magazine in his hands, staring at a picture of a naked woman. En primer plano, frente al revistero, un joven estudiante estaba de pie con una revista abierta en sus manos, mirando la foto de una mujer desnuda. Quinn sat down at the counter and ordered a hamburger and a coffee. As the counterman swung into action, he spoke over his shoulder to Quinn.

“Did you see the game tonight, man?”

“I missed it. Anything good to report?” ¿Algo bueno que informar?

“What do you think?”

For several years Quinn had been having the same conversation with this man, whose name he did not know. Once, when he had been in the luncheonette, they had talked about baseball, and now, each time Quinn came in, they continued to talk about it. Una vez, cuando él estaba en el comedor, habían hablado de béisbol, y ahora, cada vez que entraba Quinn, seguían hablando de eso. In the winter, the talk was of trades, predictions, memories. En el invierno se hablaba de oficios, predicciones, recuerdos. During the season, it was always the most recent game. They were both Mets fans, and the hopelessness of that passion had created a bond between them.

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