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Nonfiction 3

54 by Wu Ming

By Wu Ming

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Gigi took advantage of the mirror behind the bar, the one inscribed with the word ‘Martini’, to check that his brilliantined hair was nice 100itext 9/3/05 7:17 am 54 PART ONE Page 39 39 and smooth along the temples, slick and gleaming all the way to the little curls at the back of his neck. ‘The older generation are always saying things are easier for us, but I think things are pretty complicated all the same. If you’re with a girl, eventually you’ve got to marry her. If you want to marry her, you’ve got to have a decent wage, and then you have to wait to get married.

If it was up to me, I’ll tell you where I’d send the Allies . . Oh yeah, you can say that we lost the elections in ’48. Course we did, with all the moolah that the Americans have given to the Christian Democrats and all the southerners following the priests. Down south that’s the way they like it. It’s what they’re used to: taking things easy, isn’t that right, Walterún? ’ Walterún scrutinises his cards, perplexed, ignoring Melega’s question. When political questions arise Walterún hardly ever intervenes, so much so that some people cast doubts on the soundness of his convictions.

That day Archie Leach turned fifty. The two last years had been the worst. And how hard they had been for Cary! Three box office flops in a row. The decision to retire from the screen. A holiday in the Far East with Betsy, which hadn’t been sufficiently restorative. The exhausting quest for palliatives, yoga, new reading matter, the perennial intoxication of self-improvement but without the moment of truth, without setting foot on-set. A difficult relationship with Archie, who also used his body and came to get it back in periods of crisis and disorientation.

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