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Myrtle Wilson

A bout half-way between West Egg and New York, the railroad16 crosses a dirty, narrow river. Trains always wait there. It was because of this that I met Tom Buchanan's mistress17 for the first time.

One Sunday afternoon Tom and I were going up to New York by train. I could see that Tom had been drinking. When we got to the river, the train stopped as usual. A dusty road ran by the side of the railroad. It was an ugly place.

Suddenly, Tom stood up and took my arm.

'Come on,' he said. 'I want you to meet my girl. Jump down!' And he pulled me off the train, onto the dusty road. I followed Tom to the only building in sight. There were three shops in the building and one was a garage. The sign said -

"Repairs GEORGE B. WILSON Cars bought and sold"

Tom and I went into the garage. There was one dusty old car in the corner. As I was looking around in surprise, a thin man came out of the office.

'Hallo, Wilson, old man18,' Tom shouted. 'How's business?'

'Not bad,' said Wilson unhappily. 'When are you going to sell me that car?'

'Next week. My driver's working on it now.'

'He works slow, doesn't he?' said Wilson.

'No, he doesn't. And if you feel like that, I can sell it to someone else,' Tom said angrily.

'I don't mean that,' said Wilson. 'I ...'

His voice stopped. I heard footsteps on the stairs. Then a woman was standing in the doorway.

She was in her middle thirties. She was not beautiful, but her face and body were full of life. She smiled slowly and walked past her husband. She shook hands with Tom and looked into his eyes.

'Why don't you get some chairs, George, so everyone can sit down?' she said.

'All right,' said George Wilson hurriedly and he went towards the little office.

'I want to see you,' Tom said quickly to the woman. 'Get on the next train. I'll meet you in New York,'

'All right.'

She moved away. George Wilson came out with two dusty chairs. But Tom had already turned to go.

'It's good for Myrtle to get away,' Tom said, as we were waiting lor the next train.

'Doesn't her husband care?'

'Wilson? He thinks she goes to New York to meet her sister. He's a fool.'

And so Tom Buchanan, his girl and I went up to New York. But Mrs Wilson sat in another part of the train. At the station in New York, she bought magazines and perfume. We all got into a taxi. Almost at once, Mrs Wilson told the driver to stop. An old man was standing by the roadside with a basket of puppies.

'I want one of those dogs,' Mrs Wilson said. 'It will be nice to have one in the apartment19. What kind are they?' she asked the man. 'I want a police dog.'

The old man looked into the basket.

'I got all kinds, ma'am,' he said, pulling out a puppy.

'That's not a police dog,' said Tom.

'No,' said the old man.

'I think it's cute20,' said Myrtle Wilson. 'How much is it?'

'Ten dollars, ma'am.'

'Here's your money,' said Tom impatiently to the man. 'You can get ten more dogs with it.'

We drove over to Fifth Avenue21 and I tried to leave them there.

'No, you don't,' said Tom quickly. 'Myrtle wants you to see the apartment, don't you, Myrtle?'

'Sure22,' Myrtle Wilson said. 'I'll phone my sister, Catherine. People say she's beautiful.'

So we drove on until we came to the apartment house. Myrtle Wilson got out of the taxi like a queen.

'I'm going to ask the McKees to come up,' she said in the elevator23. 'They live in the apartment below. And I'll phone my sister, too, of course.'

The apartment was four small rooms on the top floor. The living room was crowded with furniture. Mrs Wilson sent the elevator boy24 out to buy food for the dog. Tom took a bottle of whisky from a locked cupboard.

I have been drunk only twice in my life. The second time was that afternoon. I remember Myrtle Wilson sitting on Tom's knee. After a time, I went out to buy some cigarettes. When I came back, the living-room was empty. So I sat there smoking and reading the magazines. Just as Tom and Myrtle came out of the other room, the sister, Catherine, arrived. She was about thirty, thin and red haired, with a white face. Then the McKees came up from the apartment below.

Myrtle Wilson had changed her dress. It was very tight and looked expensive. Her laughter and the way she moved had changed, too. She spoke and walked like a rich, fashionable woman.

'I like your dress,' said Mrs McKee.

This old dress? I've had it for years,' Myrtle laughed.

'Have something to drink,' Tom said to the McKees. 'Get some more ice, Myrtle, before everyone goes to sleep.'

'I told the boy about the ice,' Myrtle said angrily. These people! You have to tell them all the time.'

Myrtle's sister, Catherine, sat down beside me on the couch.

'Do you live down on Long Island, too?' she asked me.

'I live at West Egg.'

'Really? I was at a party there about a month ago. At the house of a man called Gatsby. Do you know him?'

'I live next door to him.'

'Do you? He's awfully rich, you know. People say he got his money from Germany. In the War. I'm afraid of him.'

Catherine moved closer and looked across the room at Tom and Myrtle.

'Both of them are unhappily married,' she said. 'But Tom's wife is a Catholic. She won't divorce him.'

I knew this was untrue and I was shocked.

'Why did you marry Wilson, Myrtle?' Catherine called across the room. 'Nobody made you do it.'

Myrtle laughed.

'Well, I thought he was a gentleman. I must have been crazy!'

Tom now sent the elevator boy to buy some sandwiches and a second bottle of whisky. I wanted to go home. I went to the window and looked down into the dark street. Were people looking up at our lighted window and wondering what was going on?

Myrtle Wilson called to me to sit down again. She began to tell me about her first meeting with Tom.

'It was on the train,' she said. 'We couldn't stop looking at each other. When we got to New York, we got into a taxi together. I was so excited that I couldn't see where we were going. But I didn't care. You can't live forever, you know. You can't live forever.'

The room was filled with Myrtle's loud, false26 laughter. She turned to Mrs McKee.

'My dear,' Myrtle said, 'I'm going to give you this dress. I'm getting another tomorrow. I've got so many things to buy - a collar for the dog, an ashtray . . . and I must go to the hairdresser's.'

It was nine o'clock. Then I looked at my watch again it was ten. The room was full of smoke. People were coming and going, shouting to each other across the room.

At about midnight, Tom and Myrtle started to argue.

'Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!' Myrtle Wilson was shouting. 'I'll say her name whenever I want to. Daisy! Dai ...'

With a short, hard movement, Tom Buchanan hit her across the nose. Myrtle cried out with pain. Someone got towels. Then the towels, covered with blood, were all over the floor. People were screaming and shouting Myrtle Wilson lay on the couch. Her nose was still bleeding and she was crying loudly.

Mr McKee woke up and walked towards the door. I picked up my hat and followed him out. We went down in the elevator together.

Then I was on the station, half-asleep, waiting for the early morning train to West Egg.

Date: 2015-04-20; view: 2994

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