by Jake Barnes

One day my wife got so mad at me she raked her fingernails down my face. I had to hold her down on the bed. That night we went to our friends' house for dinner. "What happened to you?" Carlos asked. I said I cut myself shaving.


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We ate at the Greek restaurant again the next day. There were too many people in a small space. We pretended to be deep in conversation. I couldn't hear her; she couldn't hear me. Nobody could hear us. We held hands and whispered the most awful things.


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One night we sat in the lounge of a hotel in Billings, Montana, listening to a country western singer with a harelip. He had a reedy voice, but he could carry a tune, and he seemed to know the lyrics to every country song there ever was.