THE VAGABOND

Vag waved his arm in the dark room, impatiently stabbing for the light string. There wasn't a sound in the building, except for the contented hum of the refrigerator that posed in the blackness, two feet in front of him. His hand brushed the string. He grasped it and pulled; then painlessly extracted another beer from the refrigerator, pulled the string again and returned to the large, black leather couch in the sanctum. The night was hot and quiet and the beer cold and satisfying. A blue magnesium light on Plympton Street flickered white, then changed back to blue with a litle click. Someone's phonograph was playing from a room in Adams House. Suddenly, completely without warning, the fragile atmosphere shattered into a million crazy sounds. At first they were all garbled like a short wave broadcast, and Vag could not make them out. He lay back on the couch and listened intently. . . .

Hey! a voice kept yelling. Hey, I'm on Dean's List, or did I tell you? No, Mike. Go away. I've graduated from the Adams House telephone booth. . . . Where's Bowser? He said he had something on,--. We know: Basic English . . . I can't write about polities. I don't know anything about politics. What's been happening lately? Singapore just fell? O.K. Give me a typewriter. . . . Hey, fellas, whaddaya know! Hippocrates G. Apostle just got out of Stillman! . . . Well, well,--so Johnnie Robbine is dead . . . Parson Fenn say's he's got a swell idea for an ed on the town-grown relationship . . . Hey, Charlie! How about chewing gum? . . . Let's defend the pipe . . . It's Lincoln's birthday tomorrow; we might run condolences for all his friends and relatives . . . 125,000 Babies by 1943 . . . Hey! I'm on Dean's List! . . .

Basic English . . . No, Mike . . . town-grown . . . Hey! . . . Basic . . . No, Mike . . . gown . . . Hey! . . . No, Mike . . .

The voices faded away just as if someone had turned off a radio, and all Vag could hear was the toy music of the distant phonograph, and the constant purring of the refrigerator. Then Vag remembered what it was he had forgotten to do. He had forgotten to sign for the beer. The devil with it. This one would be on the house. For the first time in two years Vag felt like a guest, and he knew that his host had the most wonderful house in the world, even if it did run on assessments.