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Henrietta: The Story of Love, Tennis, and Taking Chances

match, the name of the someone, and the set scores. Hugo’s a tennis pro. Then there were
coin wrappers all over the place. And for toothpaste he had one of those tubes of
toothpaste that has colored stripes in it. What a child. The man is nearly fifty, and he has
stripes in his toothpaste.
I checked his room a few times for Playboy or other girl magazines or pornography.
Nothing. And you can bet your last dollar, honey chile, that I searched that room. I would
have made a good detective.
I’m sure he probably searched my room as well. If he did all he found were my books,
including Death of Arthur by Malory. And I was reading a lot about Lawrence of Arabia
at the time, and I had books from the library about Lawrence, including the one by
Lowell Thomas. And propped up against the wall on top of the bureau that held my
clothes I had the Lucky Strike advertisement, mounted on cardboard, of famous athletes
of the ’40’s with Luckys in their hands, including our friend Jasper Kyle, who gave me
the advertisement.
Also in Hugo’s room he had piles of Racing Forms all over the place. The whole house
had piles of Racing Forms. You’d open a closet and the closet to eye level would be filled
with Racing Forms.
They were stacked at one end of the couch that Hugo sat on or lay down on to watch his
dammed television shows, including Regis and Cathy Lee in the morning. And they were
all over another couch that we didn’t use at all. It was as if a gigantic beast with diarrhea
had come through the house and shat out Racing Forms everywhere.
The carpet of the house is like mouse hides have been sewn together. That is the texture.
That is the color. And the mouse hide carpet and the rest of the house have not been
cleaned in over two years. It was cleaned two years ago because someone else inhabited
the house. Not Weatherbee. I’d rented his condo for him while he was living on the other
side of La Costa with his mother.
Sleeping in the place is like sleeping in a grain elevator. You wake up with a swollen
head and eyes shut even after you have opened them. Then begins a long artillery attack
of sneezing. This happened only to me. Weatherbee, long ago, had inured himself to
squalor and filth. The decor: As I say, a carpet of mouse hides sewn together. And this
was mainly where two years of dust resided. The living room was a dining room living
room combination. No one ever ate at the dining room table.
The day that I came to live with Hugo, he threw a brown blanket—a brown blanket
corrugated with electric circuits—over the table so that I could use the dining room table
as a work desk. That was probably one of the more decent things the man ever did in his
life.
There was a phone with a long extension cord over by the dining room table on a side
table. (Hugo had his own phone in his room. And he thought the phone was tapped.)
There was a nice bright hanging globe light over the dining room table, so it was fine to
see there at night. And there were windows next to the table with a southern exposure so
it was nice and bright during the day.
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