Thursday, August 10, 2006

Patrick White Corner

'How do you make your money, Tib?' Miss Slattery asked, picking at the mink coverlet.

'I am Hoongahrian,' he said. 'It come to me over ze telephown.'

Presently Szabo Tibor announced he was on his way to inspect several properties he owned around the city.

He had given her a key, at least, so that she might come and go.

'And have you had keys cut,' she asked, 'for all these other women, for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, in all these other flats?'

How he laughed.

'At least a real Witz! An Australian Witz!' he said on going.

It seemed no time before he returned.

'Faht,' he said, 'you are still here?'

'I am the passive type,' she replied.

Indeed, she was so passive she had practically set in her own flesh beneath that glass conscience of a ceiling. Although a mild evening was ready to soothe, she shivered for her more than nakedness. When she stuck her head out of the window, there were the rhinestones of Sydney glittering on the neck of darkness. But it was a splendour she saw could only dissolve.

'You Austrahlian girls,' observed Tibby Szabo, 'ven you are not all gickle, you are all cry.'

'Yes,' she said. 'I know,' she said, 'it makes things difficult. To be Australian.'

-- 'Miss Slattery and her Demon Lover', The Burnt Ones, 1964

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