On a warm evening in May, Willie McBain telephoned his friend Lickens, who lived not far away on the Lower East Side of New York City.
“For me the worst time is after supper,” he told Lickens.
“It gets worse every minute. I try to keep from sleeping so I won’t dream. I make sure that even if I do fall out I’ve got the lights and the radio on.”
“But just what is it?” Lickens wanted to know.
“That’s it, that’s it: I don’t know. Nothing! I’m going out of my box!”
“Afraid of getting married?”
“Of course! I’m afraid of everything. Oh the wonder of it, Lickens! Oh the wonder of it all. Life is unbearable. How can you be alive without going out of your box?”
“There are ways,” Lickens said.
“Not with my stomach. I can’t keep anything inside me, Lickens. I vomit before dinner and I vomit after dinner. I’m even afraid to go to the docaroony.”
“Then that’s what you’re afraid of”
“Sure! But the reason I’m afraid is that if I keep talking to him I might really find out what I’m afraid of.”
“So you’re not only afraid, you’re afraid of finding out what you’re afraid of?”
“Oh the wonder of it all!”
“Me, too.” Lickens sighed.
“Come over here and go me sock for sock!”
Lickens demurred. His arms had not yet recovered from the last time. He suggested they go for a beer.
“Can’t,” said Willie. “I’ve got to work.”
“But you won’t work. You know that. Take a break and then maybe things will be better.”
“Then maybe tilings will be tomorrow, that’s all! But why not? No, fuck it Lickens, this has got to be done tonight, so get thee the hell away from me. I’ve got to hang up.”