There Are Doors - Gene Wolfe by Gene Wolfe

There Are Doors - Gene Wolfe by Gene Wolfe

Author:Gene Wolfe
Language: eng
Format: epub


"They shouldn't have let those sons of bitches bust up the Bell System." Mama's son turned away.

"Wait a minute. Can you break a fifty for me?"

"No problem. Come up to the register."

He followed Mama's son to the desk, slipping a bill out of Sheng's packet.

"Need singles?"

"No," he said. For a moment he held his breath. "Just a couple fives."

"Okay." Mama's son accepted the fifty, laid it on the cash register, and gave him two twenties and two fives; the twenties had Andrew Jackson's picture, the fives had Lincoln's. "Whatcha think about the fight?"

"What fight?" He had been studying the bills. Suddenly afraid he had studied them too long, he thrust them hurriedly into a pocket.

"What fight?" Mama's son sounded aggrieved. "Joe's gonna fight the champ. Don'tcha read the paper?"

"That's right," he said. "I did see that. Let's hope Joe gives him a hell of a match."

"Take it to the bank, pal. Joe's a customer, ya know. He was in last night with his wife and some other mantrap. Big as a house, but he don't throw his weight around. He's as nice an' polite as you or me."

He said, "I'll keep my fingers crossed," and went back to the table, where he sat with his head in his hands. There was an empty bowl in front of him.

"Yours was getting cold," Fanny said, "so I ate it." There was a full bowl before her, still steaming. After a moment, she picked it up and offered it to him.

"That's all right," he said.

"I was just trying to make a joke. Take it, it's yours anyway. What's the matter?"

"How long have you been eating here?"

"What?"

"I asked how long you've been coming in here. When we were in your room you said there was a good Italian place a couple of blocks away -- something like that. So you've eaten here before. When was the first time?"

Fanny counted on her fingers. "Four days ago. Tuesday."

"And they took your money?"

"I didn't pay." She hesitated. "I was with a sergeant I know, a sergeant in uniform. We were hungry, so we decided to try it. He was going to buy, but one of the men who work here said it was okay, on the house. You know how they do for cops sometimes. Now if you want to stay at my place tonight, you'd better tell me what's up."

"We're in my world -- the place the Visitors come from. Or if we're not, this whole place is a Visitor."

She stared at him in disbelief.

"I've eaten here two or three times a week for the past few years. Tuesday night I brought Lara here. Some of her power or magic dust or whatever you want to call it rubbed off. Were you here for dinner? What time?"

Fanny nodded. "About eight."

"That was when we were here. The store closes at six, and it takes me about an hour to get home on the bus. I came home, showered, and changed clothes. My apartment's a block and a half that way.



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