Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Biff Brannon is always asking himself the question "Why" concerning Mick and Jakeís attraction for Singer, about the oncoming war, about Hitler, and about death. As he gets ready for going down to the cafe, he puts on some Agua Florida, Aliceís perfume, and thinks about the early years with her. He has done his bedroom over in new colors, with a nice new rug, and he has put up a picture of Baby on the mantel of the fireplace. He had made the curtains himself on Lucileís sewing machine. He loves the room now.
He thinks a lot of the past. He remembers his early childhood when he loved to play with womenís hairpins, thinking they were curved to copy the shape of a woman. He has a cigar box full of scraps of beautiful cloth that he loved to feel. His mother had taken the box from him when he was six. She had a strong sense of duty and he thinks she loved him best. He dreams of her often these days. He thinks of when he discovered the Agua Florida and Aliceís lemon scented hair preparation. He had begun to use it and it made his hair fluffier.
Down in the cafe, he sees Jake and tries to get him to talk. Jake wants to know what he is always thinking and tries to insult him by saying he looks like a Jew. Biff doesnít accept the insult. He says he is part Jew, then he asks Jake why he isnít off to see Singer. Jake tries to insult him again, saying he lives with his hand out to take peopleís money. Again, Biff doesnít take the insult but asks him more questions to engage him in conversation. Jake, however, is evasive and insulting. Biff tries to tell him to talk sense, but Jake wonít. Before he leaves, he sniffs at Biff and asks if he is wearing perfume. Biff only says it is shaving lotion.
He always walks in Mickís neighborhood and feels guilty about it.. He is always trying to think of things to give her. He thinks of Harry Minowitz, whom he has recently hired to work evenings in the cafe. He had tried vaguely to get information from Harry about Mick. He had only found out that Harry is her next door neighbor and that she is a freshman while he is a senior in high school. When he gets back to the cafe, he goes to his room downstairs. He has fixed up a small room for his own private time. He has the walls lined with newspapers and he plays a mandolin and sings to himself. He thinks of how nice it would be to adopt a couple of kids. They would call him father. He would make them pretty clothes. They would ask him questions and he would answer them. Playing the old songs reminds him of his early life with Alice. After a certain point in their marriage, he could no longer have sex with her. He remembers a surprise birthday party she gave him on his twenty-ninth birthday. She had told him to come to her apartment for a surprise and had blindfolded him and then left the room. When she was gone, he had farted and suddenly realized the room was full of people. They teased him about it for the rest of the evening and he had such a bad time he compares it to the time when his mother died.
He goes back to the cafe and looks approvingly at the new window display, thinking of it as a "genteel, artistic display." He watches the door. Singer comes in and orders his dinner and Mick doesnít come.