Death by Salinger

jdsalingerI pass by all of the creeps and chumps besieging the wooden façade of J. D. Salinger’s house. They grip their notepads and frown at me as I saunter past in a pair of free-flowing canvas slacks. The hem of my left trouser leg whips up and stings a fat doughy youth in horn-rimmed spectacles right in the eye, via the small aperture between the rim and his plump white face. “Creep” he shouts. “Creep” I reply. We reach a conversational deadlock. I continue past the garden gate and make my way to the front door. “Hey, we’re not supposed to go in there” he yells. “I got clearance, creep” I say without turning round. “Salinger’s granted me an interview”.

The front door opens and a bowed figure retreats into the darkness of the house before I can make out his face. I enter, and as I wipe my beaten brogues on the doormat the figure shouts from the kitchen. “You wanna chicken sandwich?” “No thank you” I answer.

All of a sudden the bony but uncannily strong figure has thrown himself piggy-back style onto my shoulders. “Eat a damn sandwich when a fella offers you a damn sandwich” he screams, while trying to prise my mouth open and force the condensed ball of meat and soggy bread into my mouth. “It’s chicken. Good chicken. It ain’t dirt”. The situation requires that I relent. “Sure” I say, “I’ll have a chicken sandwich”. “Thassa good boy” he says, and presses the food-ball into my palm. I eat it. It doesn’t taste like any chicken I have ever eaten before.

Attempting to put the compromising situation that has just occurred behind me, I begin my questions immediately. “Mr Salinger” I say, “you have…”. “Hold it right there son” he replies, and shows me a faded black and white photograph of a duck. “Whaddya think of that son?” he asks. “I like it” I reply. “Now where do you think that duck goes when the pond freezes?”. Having read a summary of Catcher in the Rye on Wikipedia, I realise he is making reference to a passage from his novel. I struggle to think of the answer. “Hmmm. Same place as all the other phoney creeps” I venture. But by this stage Salinger has lost interest in the question and is looking at me with a fierce intensity. I start to feel queasy and tired. Salinger laughs. Blood pours out of my nose and all down my slacks and my brogues. Salinger’s laugh becomes a wicked screeching howl. “Hee hee hee” he squeals. “Why?” I say, “why?”, as my imminent demise becomes apparent to me. “Because you’re a phoney son. A big phoney. And because when a fella offers you a chicken sandwich you play tease with him an’ say no when you mean yes”. “What was in it?” I croak. “1 part J. Edgar Hoover’s blood and 2 parts uranium” he replies. “I call it “Phoney Soup, I give it to all of the assholes who come round trying to interview me”.

Dying, on the dirty floor of J. D. Salinger’s house, with a fatal gutful of Phoney Soup, I realise all too well the wisdom in the old adage that you should never meet your heroes.

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One Response to “Death by Salinger”

  1. jlebaptiste Says:

    Poor old Salinger.

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