Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 5 SID INSISTS ON GHOSTGIRLS

  • > Whenever I take up a newspaper and read it, I fancy I see ghosts creepin_etween the lines. There must be ghosts all over the world. They must be a_ountless as the grains of the sands, it seems to me.
  • >
  • > —Ibsen
  • MY Elizabethan boy friend put his fists on his hips and laid down the law t_s as if we were a lot of nervous children who'd been playing too hard.
  • "Look you, masters, this is a Recuperation Station and I am running it a_uch. A plague of all operations! I care not if the frame of things disjoint_nd the whole Change World goes to ruin, but you, warrior maid, are going t_est and drink more wine slowly before you tell your tale and your colleague_re going to be properly companioned. No questions, anyone. Beau, and you lov_s, give us a lively tune."
  • Kaby relaxed a little and let him put his hand carefully against her back i_oken of support and she said grudgingly, "All right, Fat Belly."
  • Then, so help me, to the tune of the Muskrat Ramble, which I'd taught Beau, w_ot girls for those two ETs and everybody properly paired up.
  • Right here I want to point out that a lot of the things they say in the Chang_orld about Recuperation Stations simply aren't so—and anyway they alway_eave out nine-tenths of it. The Soldiers that come through the Door ar_ooking for a good time, sure, but they're hurt real bad too, every one o_hem, deep down in their minds and hearts, if not always in their bodies or s_ou can see it right away.
  • Believe me, a temporal operation is no joke, and to start with, there isn'_ne person in a hundred who can endure to be cut from his lifeline and becom_ really wide-awake Doubleganger—a Demon, that is—let alone a Soldier. Wha_oes a badly hurt and mixed-up creature need who's been fighting hard?  _On_ndividual_  to look out for him and feel for him and patch him up, and i_elps if the one is of the opposite sex—that's something that goes beyon_pecies.
  • There's your basis for the Place and the wild way it goes about its work, an_lso for most other Recuperation Stations or Entertainment Spots. The nam_ntertainer can be misleading, but I like it. She's got to be a lot more tha_ good party girl—or boy—though she's got to be that too. She's got to be _urse and a psychologist and an actress and a mother and a practica_thnologist and a lot of things with longer names—and a reliable friend.
  • NONE of us are all those things perfectly or even near it. We just try. Bu_hen the call comes, Entertainers have to forget grudges and gripes and envie_nd jealousies—and remember, they're lively people with sharp emotions—becaus_here isn't any time then for anything but  _help and don't ask who_!
  • And, deep inside her, a good Entertainer doesn't care who. Take the way i_haped up this time. It was pretty clear to me I ought to shift to Illy,
  • although I wasn't quite easy in my mind about leaving Erich, because the Luna_as a long time from home and, after all, Erich was among anthropoids.
  • Ilhilihis needed someone who was  _simpatico_.
  • I like Illy and not just because he is a sort of tall cross between a spide_onkey and a persian cat—though that is a handsome combo when you come t_hink of it. I like him for himself. So when he came in all lopped and shak_fter a mean operation, I was the right person to look out for him. Now I'v_ade my little speech and know-nothings in the Change World can go on makin_heir bum jokes. But I ask you, how could an arrangement between Illy and m_e anything but Platonic?
  • We might have had some octopoid girls and nymphs in stock—Sid couldn't be sur_ntil he checked—but Ilhilihis and Sevensee voted for real people and I kne_id saw it their way. Maud squeezed Mark's hand and tripped over to Sevensee
  • ("Those are sharp hoofs you got, man"—she's picked up some of my language,
  • like she has everything else), though Beau did frown over his shoulder at Lil_rom the piano, maybe to argue that she ought to take on the ET, as Mark ha_een a real casualty and could use live nursing. But it was plain as day t_nybody but Beau that Bruce and Lili were a big thing and the last to b_isturbed.
  • Erich acted stiffly hurt at losing me, but I knew he wasn't. He thinks he ha_ great technique with Ghostgirls and he likes to show it off, and he reall_s pretty slick at it, if you go for that sort of thing and—yang my yin!—wh_oesn't at times?
  • And when Sid formally wafted the Countess out of Stores—a real blonde stunne_n a white satin hobble skirt with a white egret swaying up from her tiny hat,
  • way ahead of Maud and Lili and me when it came to looks, though transparent a_igarette smoke—and when Erich clicked his heels and bowed over her hand an_roudly conducted her to a couch, black Svengali to her Trilby, and started t_erman-talk some life into her with much head cocking and toothy smiling and _low of witty flattery, and when she began to flirt back and the dream look i_er eyes sharpened hungrily and focused on him—well, then I knew that Eric_as happy and felt he was doing proud by the  _Reichswehr_. No, my littl_ommandant wasn't worrying me on that score.
  • MARK had drawn a Greek hetaera, name of Phryne; I suppose not the one wh_aybe still does the famous courtroom striptease back in Athens, and he wa_aking her up with little sips of his scotch and soda, though, from some look_e'd flashed, I got the idea Kaby was the kid he really went for. Sid wa_oaxing the fighting gal to take some high-energy bread and olives along wit_he wine, and, for a wonder, Doc seemed to be carrying on an animated an_ational conversation with Sevensee and Maud, maybe comparing notes on th_orthern Venusian Shallows, and Beau had got on to Panther Rag, and Bruce an_ili were leaning on the piano, smiling very appreciatively, but talking t_ach other a mile a minute.
  • Illy turned back from inspecting them all and squeaked, "Animals with clothe_re so refreshing, dahling! Like you're all carrying banners!"
  • Maybe he had something there, though my banners were kind of Ash Wednesday, _harcoal gray sweater and skirt. He looked at my mouth with a tentacle to se_ow I was smiling and he squeaked softly, "Do I seem dull and commonplace t_ou, Greta girl, because I haven't got banners? Just another Zombie from _illion years in your past, as gray and lifeless as Luna is today, not as whe_he was a real dreamy sister planet simply bursting with air and water an_eather forests. Or am I as strangely interesting to you as you are to me,
  • girl from a billion years in my future?"
  • "Illy, you're sweet," I told him, giving him a little pat. I noticed his fu_as still vibrating nervously and I decided the heck with Sid's orders, I'_oing to pump him about what he was doing with Kaby and the satyr. Couldn'_ave him a billion years from home and bottled up, too. Besides, I wa_urious.