Story Up My Sleeve #7: “The Jockey,” by Carson McCullers

an old bar[Don’t know what this is? See the Story Up My Sleeve background page.]

The jockey crossed the dining room and went into the bar. He ordered a Manhattan, and Sylvester watched him stand with his heels pressed tight together, his body hard as a lead soldier’s, holding his little finger out from the cocktail glass and sipping the drink slowly.

“He’s crazy,” said Simmons. “Like I said.”

Sylvester turned to the rich man. “If he eats a lamb chop, you can see the shape of it in his stomach a hour afterward. He can’t sweat things out of him any more. He’s a hundred and twelve and a half. He’s gained three pounds since we left Miami.”

“A jockey shouldn’t drink,” said the rich man.

“The food don’t satisfy him like it used to and he can’t sweat it out. If he eats a lamb chop, you can watch it tooching out in his stomach and it don’t go down.”

The jockey finished his Manhattan. He swallowed, crushed the cherry in the bottom of the glass with his thumb, then pushed the glass away from him. The two girls in blazers were standing at his left, their faces turned toward each other, and at the other end of the bar two touts had started an argument about which was the highest mountain in the world. Everyone was with somebody else; there was no other person drinking alone that night. The jockey paid with a brand-new fifty-dollar bill and didn’t count the change.


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