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.These were the saddest of all: sadder than the ex-bomber copilot now drawing in sacks of fertilizer; sadder than the young design school graduate who sees that he must leave the business, because he can't move up in it.One was a middle-aged local fellow who hung Utrillo prints in his cubicle and tried to keep up the appearance of being in a kind of temporary position or way station that would remember him after he left.But he never would have left, if we had kept him on.When we let him out, he went to another studio for a while and then just disappeared.I never saw anyone so passionately interested in art.Unlike Lewis, he had only one interest, and he believed he had the talent to become more than a local artist; for local artists and Sunday painters he had nothing but contempt and refused to go to any of their shows.He was always talking about applying Braque's collage techniques to the layouts we were getting ready for fertilizer trade books and wood-pulp processing plants, and it was a great relief to me not to have to listen to any of that anymore.For we had grooved, modestly, as a studio.I knew it and was glad of it; I had no wish to surpass our limitations, or to provide a home for geniuses on their way to the Whitney or to suicide.I knew that our luck was good and would probably hold; that our success was due mainly to the lack of graphic sophistication in the area.What we had, we could handle, and we were in a general business situation that provided for everybody pretty well, even those shading down toward incompetence, so long as they were earnest and on time.The larger agencies in the city and the local branches of the really big New York and Chicago agencies didn't give us much work.We made a halfhearted pitch for some of it, but when they were not enthusiastic we -- or at least Thad and I -- were happy to take up where we had been.The agencies we liked and understood best were those which were most like us -- those that were not pressing, that were taking care of their people.We worked on small local accounts -- banks, jewelry stores, supermarkets, radio stations, bakeries, textile mills.We would ride with these.Going under a heavy shade tree, I felt the beer come up, not into my throat but into my eyes.The day sparkled painfully, seeming to shake on some kind of axis, and through this a leaf fell, touched with unusual color at the edges.It was the first time I had realized that autumn was close.I began to climb the last hill.I was halfway up when I noticed how many women there were around me.Since I bad passed the Gulf station on the corner I hadn't seen another man anywhere.I began to look for one in the cars going by, but for the few more minutes it took to get to the building, I didn't see a one.The women were almost all secretaries and file clerks, young and semi-young and middle-aged, and their hair styles, piled and shellacked and swirled and horned, and almost every one stiff, filled me with desolation.I kept looking for a decent ass and spotted one in a beige skirt, but when the girl turned her barren, gum-chewing face toward me, it was all over.I suddenly felt like George Holley, my old Braque man, must have felt when he worked for us, saying to himself in any way he could, day after day, I am with you but not of you.But I knew better.I was of them, sure enough, as they stretched out of sight before me up the hill and into the building.And I was right in one of the lines that ceremoniously divided around a modern fountain full of dimes and pennies.The door swung and a little beehived girl ducked under my arm into the cold air.The lunch hour exhaled from several women and me with a long low sound as we revolved in the door.Muzak entered the elevator and we rose on "Vienna Blood," played with lots of strings.Between the beginning and end of one chorus my stomach fell like a stone.I let out my belt a notch and the beer settled as I wiped my forehead on the inner part of my jacket sleeve.At the sixth floor there were only two female survivors and myself; the others worked in the larger, open bay offices on the lower floors -- insurance companies.I walked down the clean, walled-in corridor to the horse-headed glass of our studio.The only good thing Holley had done for us was to turn one of Braque's birds into a Pegasus.It flew delicately aside and around me as I went in."Any calls?" "Not any awfully interesting ones, Mr.Gentry.Shadow-Row Shell Homes would like to see the comps next week.You had a request for a job interview from a young lady who wouldn't give her name, says shell call back.And the model is here for Kitts." "Thank you very much," I said to Peg Wyman, who had been with us the whole time and showed it."I'll go on back." I went down the office hallway taking my coat off pinch by pinch.It was the first time I had thought to notice that the hall was inside a larger hall, part of the length of the building and the floor.It was a very tasteful place, though.Thad and I had really nice offices with tensor lights all over the place, and the longer-lasting or more highly paid art directors had small offices or at least cubicles.The rest of the studio was a large open bay with drawing boards, and I watched for a minute the gray and bald beads in their places, the shiny black ones, the curly ones and lank ones returning.I may not have had everything to do with this -- with creating this -- I said to myself in a silent voice that was different from my usual silent voice, but I have had something to do with it.Never before had I had such a powerful sense of being in a place I had created.Alton Rogers would not be sitting there, dreaming of flying the Hump in the old days [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]