“I don’t want to take a cure,” William Campbell said. “I don’t want to take a cure at all. I am perfectly happy. All my life I have been perfectly happy.”

“How long have you been this way?”

“What a question!” William Campbell breathed in and out through the sheet.

“How long have you been stewed, Billy?”

“Haven’t I done my work?”

“Sure. I just asked you how long you’ve been stewed, Billy.”

“I don’t know. But I’ve got my wolf back.” He touched the sheet with his tongue. “I’ve had him for a week.”

“The hell you have.”

“Oh, yes. My dear wolf. Every time I take a drink he goes outside the room. He can’t stand alcohol. The poor little fellow.” He moved his tongue round and round on the sheet. “He’s a lovely wolf. He’s just like he always was.” William Campbell shut his eyes and took a deep breath.

“You got to take a cure, Billy,” Mr. Turner said. “You won’t mind the Keeley. It isn’t bad.”

“The Keeley,” William Campbell said. “It isn’t far from London.” He shut his eyes and opened them, moving the eyelashes against the sheet. “I just love sheets,” he said. He looked at Mr. Turner.

“Listen, you think I’m drunk.”

“You are drunk.”

“No, I’m not.”

“You’re drunk and you’ve had d.t’s.”

“No.” William Campbell held the sheet around his head. “Dear sheet,” he said. He breathed against it gently. “Pretty sheet. You love me, don’t you, sheet? It’s all in the price of the room. Just like in Japan. No,” he said. “Listen Billy, dear Sliding Billy, I have a surprise for you. I’m not drunk. I’m hopped to the eyes.”

“No,” said Mr. Turner.

“Take a look.” William Campbell pulled up the right sleeve of his pajama jacket under the sheet, then shoved the right forearm out. “Look at that.” On the forearm, from just above the wrist to the elbow, were small blue circles around tiny dark blue punctures. The circles almost touched one another. “That’s the new development,” William Campbell said. “I drink a little now once in a while, just to drive the wolf out of the room.”

“They got a cure for that,” ‘Sliding Billy’ Turner said.

“No,” William Campbell said. “They haven’t got a cure for anything.”

“You just can’t quit like that, Billy,” Turner said. He sat on the bed.

“Be careful of my sheet,” William Campbell said.

“You just can’t quit at your age and take to pumping yourself full of that stuff because you got into a jam.”

“There’s a law against it. If that’s what you mean.”

“No, I mean you got to fight it out.”

Billy Campbell caressed the sheet with his lips and his tongue. “Dear sheet,” he said. “I can kiss this sheet and see right through it at the same time.”

“Cut it out about the sheet. You can’t just take to that stuff, Billy.”

William Campbell shut his eyes. He was beginning to feel a slight nausea. He knew that this nausea would increase steadily, without there ever being the relief of sickness, until something were done against it. It was at this point that he suggested that Mr. Turner have a drink. Mr. Turner declined. William Campbell took a drink from the bottle. It was a temporary measure. Mr. Turner watched him. Mr. Turner had been in this room much longer than he should have been, he had many things to do; although living in daily association with people who used drugs, he had a horror of drugs, and he was very fond of William Campbell; he did not wish to leave him. He was very sorry for him and he felt a cure might help. He knew there were good cures in Kansas City. But he had to go. He stood up.

“Listen, Billy,” William Campbell said, “I want to tell you something. You’re called ‘Sliding Billy’. That’s because you can slide. I’m called just Billy. That’s because I never could slide at all. I can’t slide, Billy. I can’t slide. It just catches. Every time I try it, it catches.” He shut his eyes. “I can’t slide, Billy. It’s awful when you can’t slide.”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest