Sample P06 from Richard Tiernan, "Land of the Silver Dollar," The Quixote Anthology, edited by Jean Rikhoff, Kam and Richard Tiernan. New York: Grosset's Universal Library, 1961. Pp. 36-40. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,052 words 859 (41.9%) quotes 2 symbolsP06

Used by permission of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc. 0010-1840

Richard Tiernan, "Land of the Silver Dollar," The Quixote Anthology, edited by Jean Rikhoff, Kam and Richard Tiernan. New York: Grosset's Universal Library, 1961. Pp. 36-40.

Typographical Error: Forebearing [0490]

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How , he wondered , does one enjoy one's spare time ? ? He considered some interesting excursion but he was on the road every day from dawn to dusk . Then there was exercise , boating and hiking , which was not only good for you but also made you more virile : the thought of strenuous activity left him exhausted . Perhaps golf , with a fashionable companion -- but he'd lost his clubs , hadn't played in years . There was swimming over at the Riverside Hotel , but his skin was so white he looked like the bottom of a frog . Perhaps a packing trip into the Sierras , let his beard grow -- but that was too stark . I could , he thought , take a long walk -- but where ? ?

The telephone rang .

`` You missed it '' , Buzz's voice said , `` You should have gone over to the Pagan Room with us . Wow . Strippers , but scrumptious , and Toodle Williams and her all-lesbian band '' .

`` Hi , Buzz '' , Owen said . `` I went over to the Willows and dropped two notes '' .

`` Tough '' , Buzz said , `` Listen , we're having a stag dinner over at the Pagan Room on Friday . Imagine a stag dinner with Toodle Williams '' . He laughed and laughed .

Owen wanted to be pleasant because Buzz worked the territory next to his , but he hadn't come to Reno for stag dinners . `` Thanks '' , Owen said , `` but Friday is a long way off and anything can happen '' .

Buzz was a tireless instigator who never let his victims rest . When Owen was finally rid of him , there was a timid rap at the door .

`` Yes '' , Owen called out . `` Yes '' ? ?

`` I'm Mrs. Gertrude Parker '' , a soft voice explained , `` And I'd like to talk to you for a few minutes , please '' .

Ahah , he thought , a lush divorcee at last . Probably saw me in the lobby . He was disappointed to find a nervous , scrawny woman with a big hat standing at the door . She frowned at his green pajamas with the yellow moons .

`` How do you do '' ? ? She said , semi-professionally . `` Our church is sponsoring a group of very courageous women up in Alaska . We call them lay-sisters and they go among the Eskimos making friends and bringing the light . They're up there in that freezing climate and all of us have to try and help them '' .

`` Oh '' ? ?

`` You see '' , she said , looking past him into the room , where the highball glasses sparkled dully in the bright light , `` you and I can't understand the many hardships they have to undergo '' .

`` Why is that '' ? ?

She apparently wasn't satisfied with his reaction . Smug , Owen thought , smug and sappy . There was a slight nervous twitch in the region of her left eye . It gave her a lewd , winking effect .

`` Have you ever tried to reason with an Eskimo '' ? ? She asked , winking wildly . `` They are a very difficult group of people '' .

`` I don't know much about them '' , Owen admitted , `` but I suppose they have their own religion and they probably resent outsiders coming in and telling them what to do and what not to do '' .

She smiled in a sickly-tolerant fashion . `` You know , that's very interesting . People don't know how much they give away about themselves by remarks like that . The more canvassing I do , the more I note how far most people are from their personal God '' .

Forebearing , Owen kept his peace . What would happen next ? ? That she was out for a touch was certain , but when did she get to the pitch ? ? Several people passed in the hall and stared as he slowly retreated , trying to close the door a little , and she slowly leaned toward him and raised her voice .

`` How did you get by the desk '' ? ? He asked curiously . `` I'm sure the hotel doesn't know you're wandering around the corridors , knocking on strangers' doors and talking down Eskimos '' .

`` Oh , I just come once a week . Every day I visit a different hotel . I feel it's my duty . I do this work all on my own , because I understand the difficulties and I want to help these lay-sisters . Do you know these women go all through Alaska , and they don't have the proper facilities ? ? They travel in pairs as much as a hundred-and-fifty miles a day '' .

`` Do you have any idea how far I travel every day ? ? I have the whole Pacific Northwest '' . Owen was aware he was getting overexcited but he couldn't help himself .

Mrs. Gertrude Parker drew back . `` That's hardly a Christian approach '' , she remonstrated . `` You're in the secular world '' .

`` I didn't say it was Christian . I don't think you'll find many active Christian salesmen . Not that religion isn't big business ; ; those bibles and prayer books make a lot of money for publishing houses , but they don't get top personnel . Our key salesmen are in appliances and cosmetics '' .

`` God , I take it , plays no part in this '' , she said waspishly .

`` God doesn't have any appliance or cosmetics '' , he said heatedly before he caught himself . It sounded silly ; ; why go on ? ? More people were passing ; ; he had to find some way to close this impossible conversation .

`` And whiskey '' , she said , smiling and blinking at the highball glasses . `` Don't forget whiskey ; ; it's such a big seller '' .

`` You know '' , he said , getting a grip on himself , `` I think you're going to have to excuse me . I have an appointment '' .

`` I can imagine '' , she said . `` Probably down at the bar . But what do you want to do about the lay-sisters ? ? They must be freezing up there now . Can't you help them '' ? ?

`` Leave a card or something . I'll think it over '' .

`` I have no card '' , she said bitterly . `` You haven't been listening to what I've been telling you . I only hope my talking to you has helped you a little , anyway , because you need spiritual bucking-up '' . She looked crestfallen , as if he had somehow disappointed the whole human race . She stood indecisively for a moment , then walked down the hall ; ; he heard her knocking on another door .

It took him about fifteen minutes to calm himself ; ; then he realized he was hungry . He showered , shaved , dressed and went down to the dining room for breakfast . On the way he stopped at the desk to receive his mail . There was a check from his company , and the usual enthusiastic bulletins on new lines they always issued . His lawyer had sent him a statement on his overdue alimony , and there was a letter from the Collector of Internal Revenue asking him to stop in his office and explain last year's exemptions .

He ate breakfast in a sullen mood , but afterwards , when he walked out onto Virginia Street , he felt braced . He looked off to the crest of the Sierras , still white-topped ; ; the glisten of the Truckee River made a wide spangle . He felt suddenly elated , adventurous . With any luck at all he could easily find a flowerpot .

Although it was only three o'clock , he stopped in at the Golden Calf . The tables were all spinning , the dice rattling , the bar crowded . Just to test himself , he played roulette for quarters on his old combination , five and seventeen , and within an hour , he had won , surprisingly , twenty dollars . The way was opening up ; ; when the management brought around champagne , the breakfast settled its whirling around in his stomach .

The Golden Calf was dimly lit with shaded neon . There were more women than men in the place , but he couldn't find a flowerpot . They all had the hard look of gamblers who had stopped dreaming , who automatically turned the cards , hardly caring what showed up . The mural around the wall depicted early settlers in covered wagons , who appeared much more animated than the gamblers . The women had a bright shining expectancy as they leaned out from the wall and gazed splendidly into the distance , while the men were stern but hopeful . All , of course , except the Donner party who were bent on starving to death .

`` I wonder if they did eat each other at the end '' , Owen mused .

He sat down next to a heavily-upholstered blonde , but she was cleaned out in twenty minutes . She sighed a dirty word and left . Owen was surprised to see Mrs. Gertrude Parker playing the one-arm bandits that were cunningly arranged by the entrance . She sat down and played two slots at once , looking grim , as if bested by mechanical devices , and Owen felt sorry for the lay-sisters depending on her support .

A dried-up cowboy sat down next to him in the blonde's place . He was a little more authentic than usual because he smelled slightly of the stables . `` What you need is a steady martingale '' , the cowboy announced after watching Owen play . `` You can't build on your hit-and-miss five-seventeen '' .

`` What are you playing '' ? ? Owen asked .

`` I'm just logging '' , the cowboy explained . `` I keep all these plays in this little black book , and I watch over a twelve-hour period to find out what numbers are repeating . But roulette's not my game . I'm always trying to find a breaking table in blackjack . Incidentally , I'm pretty famous in these parts : I'm called The Wrangler '' .

`` Nice to know you . Don't you have to spend any time on your ranch '' ? ?

`` Well , of course I do . I'm with the Bar-H , pushing a horse called Sparky . He's my own horse , and what I collect from him I use on blackjack . This Sparky can rack and single-foot and he's the fastest thing in Washoe County . I figure if I can get any kind of publicity campaign going , I'll land him on TV -- you know , one of those favorite horses for some Western hero . I once trained a horse for Hoot Gibson , but nothing like Sparky . He's a pinto and he photographs wonderfully '' .

Five came up while Owen was listening to The Wrangler and he neglected to play , a loss of ten dollars . This proved conclusively that The Wrangler was a jinx , so he walked on down to Hurrays , an even more glorified gambling den than the Golden Calf . When he looked in the back , Mrs. Gertrude Parker was marking keno cards .

His adventurous spirit had waned ; ; he studied the pistol exhibition that Hurrays featured as an added attraction . He ogled a long redhead with green eyes , but she was a shill with her money in front of her . He had no great prejudice against shills ; ; it just seemed such a dry run .

There was no cash around ; ; everyone was flipping silver dollars . The management discreetly withdrew the green stuff into the office and gave the customers chips or checks or premium points . He read a special announcement whereby Hurrays would feature a special floorshow at three A.M. starring Adele ( The Body ) Brenner and fourteen glamorous schoolgirls .

He wondered if he might bag a tourist , but they looked frightened of him . He passed two brides , both wearing orchids , and they made him feel a little sad .

Owen found Buzz watching chuck-a-luck . Buzz had on a Hawaiian shirt and was carrying some sun-tan oil and dark glasses . He was shorter and fatter than Owen , who felt good standing next to him . `` We're all going over to Lake Tahoe and try our luck at Cal-Neva '' , Buzz explained , still instigating . `` We ran into a guy at the Pagan Room who guarantees we can beat the wheel . He started out as a stickman , then became a pit boss until the Club found him crossroading . He was knocking down checks at faro '' .

`` I'm allergic to Tahoe '' , Owen explained . `` Something about the pollen '' .

`` Well , okay '' , Buzz said . `` We'll see you around later '' .

Owen went over to the crap table and the dice were hot , but he couldn't pyramid with any consecutive success .

`` How's your luck , honey '' ? ? A short platinum blonde in a bursting sun-suit addressed him . She looked well-fed and prosperous , but he didn't get the impression he was being propositioned the way he'd been hoping .

`` I haven't had any luck since I was a baby '' .

`` Stake me '' , she said , `` and let me at those dice . I'll make them dance the tango . We'll get it in a hurry and get it out '' .

`` Let's have a drink and discuss a merger '' .

`` If you go broke '' , she said , smiling up at him , `` I'll leave you '' .

`` Sounds like real love '' , Owen said . `` It sort of brings a lump to my throat '' .

`` My name's Gisele '' , the blonde said after she ordered a Scotch . `` Named after the ballet . My mother wanted to call me Sylphide , but it sounded too affected '' .