Davis' Short Stories Vol. 2 HTML version
The Make-Believe Man
I had made up my mind that when my vacation came I would spend it seeking
adventures. I have always wished for adventures, but, though I am old enough--I was
twenty-five last October--and have always gone half-way to meet them, adventures avoid
me. Kinney says it is my fault. He holds that if you want adventures you must go after
Kinney sits next to me at Joyce & Carboy's, the woollen manufacturers, where I am a
stenographer, and Kinney is a clerk, and we both have rooms at Mrs. Shaw's boarding-
house. Kinney is only a year older than myself, but he is always meeting with adventures.
At night, when I have sat up late reading law, so that I may fit myself for court reporting,
and in the hope that some day I may become a member of the bar, he will knock at my
door and tell me some surprising thing that has just happened to him. Sometimes he has
followed a fire-engine and helped people from a fire-escape, or he has pulled the shield
off a policeman, or at the bar of the Hotel Knickerbocker has made friends with a
stranger, who turns out to be no less than a nobleman or an actor. And women, especially
beautiful women, are always pursuing Kinney in taxicabs and calling upon him for
assistance. Just to look at Kinney, without knowing how clever he is at getting people out
of their difficulties, he does not appear to be a man to whom you would turn in time of
trouble. You would think women in distress would appeal to some one bigger and
stronger; would sooner ask a policeman. But, on the contrary, it is to Kinney that women
always run, especially, as I have said, beautiful women. Nothing of the sort ever happens
to me. I suppose, as Kinney says, it is because he was born and brought up in New York
City and looks and acts like a New York man, while I, until a year ago, have always lived
at Fairport. Fairport is a very pretty harbor, but it does not train one for adventures. We
arranged to take our vacation at the same time, and together. At least Kinney so arranged
it. I see a good deal of him, and in looking forward to my vacation, not the least pleasant
feature of it was that everything connected with Joyce & Carboy and Mrs. Shaw's
boarding-house would be left behind me. But when Kinney proposed we should go
together, I could not see how, without being rude, I could refuse his company, and when
he pointed out that for an expedition in search of adventure I could not select a better
guide, I felt that he was right.
"Sometimes," he said, "I can see you don't believe that half the things I tell you have
happened to me, really have happened. Now, isn't that so?"
To find the answer that would not hurt his feelings I hesitated, but he did not wait for my
answer. He seldom does.
"Well," on this trip," he went on, "you will see Kinney on the job. You won't have to take
my word for it. You will see adventures walk up and eat out of my hand."