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We Are The Catchers In The Rye

I feel really worried. I mean, I usually am always worried, but this time, I really was sick with it. So sick I thought I really could just puke. But that would have been rude and I didn’t want to give him a bad impression of me. That’s what started the whole worrying thing in the first place.

It’s funny because he doesn’t seem like he really cares that I am so worried. But I know that he knows I am worried. He gives me a gentle smile, but I know damn well that what he really wants to do is get out. I think that because I just might be making him nervous too, and if I were in that position, where someone was making me nervous, I would want to get out.

“I’m Sammy. It’s great to finally meet you.” I said it suave as hell, despite the fact that I was so nervous and all.

“Mine’s Holden. Holden Caufield.” He looks to me now, and I feel a little less nervous, now that we said our names. Sometimes that’s all you really have to do to not be nervous about something. It’s just to say your name and let the other person know who you are.

“You know why we’re talking, Holden?” I ask, fumbling with my fingers. The outside of me looks calm but on the inside I’m just going crazy.

“Sorta. You didn’t really explain a lot, though. You were kinda mumbling a little too much.”

I looked down.

“But it’s okay though.” Holden said, his eyes lowering to meet my gaze. “Just said something about an interview, right? That’s not all too hard. You don’t gotta be so damn nervous.”

I smile and look up to him.

“So what is it you want to know?”

I think back, not really sure what to ask him now. I hate when that happens. I just really don’t know what to say when I really have to say something. “I was just…just wondering…like, I know how you feel.”

Holden was just sitting there, waiting for me to say more. It made me feel depressed as hell all of the sudden, because I just wanted him to understand that I understood him and all and not have to really explain it. I actually kinda didn’t want to, if you want to know the truth. Being all nervous kinda pulled all the energy out of me to ask the questions.

He finally got it though, and he leaned back. “Alright.”

“I mean, I know what you mean about the phonies.”

Holden cocked his head to the side. I saw his hand reach into his pocket, and I noticed his hunter hat. He was just messing with it, probably checking that it was still there.

“Like, my mom, see, she came up to yell at me in the store because she said that I looked all depressed. And you know what I told her? I just said to her ‘how can you not be depressed in a store?’ Of course she got all mad at me, which made me sore. She wouldn’t even listen to my explanation.”

I felt hot all of the sudden. I would have stopped to let Holden say something, but I just was on a roll.

“I tried to explain to her, you know, why it just makes me that way. The store is full of things you can’t buy. Like, you feel like you need it when really you don’t need it. You know it, but you still feel sad as hell about it. Then you see those kids crying to have this toy, and their mom’s all looking sore because they can’t afford it. In the stores it looks like everyone can’t afford anything. And the clothing department in it, it was just so damn depressing! I was trying on all these different dresses, and they all looked bad! Every single one of them! All because it felt like I had to look like somebody.

“I can’t explain it, but I mean, everything I tried on just didn’t go with me. And even if it did, it wouldn’t look right. You know what I mean?”

Holden was staring at me really hard now. You could tell because his eyes were focused on me and his brow was creased.

“I do know what you are talking about. But what is there to say about it?”

“That’s the thing. I dunno.” I searched into his face. “I was just hoping you could help me you know, spell it out in the way that I understand it. Why I thought those thoughts.”

Holden sighed. In a soft voice he said, “It makes me sad to say that I really don’t know why you thought those thoughts. They are just like mine, and I don’t even know why I thought those thoughts. It is just all in the way I think, y’know? I have been in your situation. I wish I could just, I don’t know, hold onto you.”

I looked at him, flattered and shocked. I waited impatiently for him to continue.

“Mr. Antolini, my English teacher from Elkton Hills, he talked about this great fall, right before I left and all to go home. I really don’t know how to explain it. It’s just some great fall he said I was heading for, but y’know, I think I’m not the only one who is falling.” He took in a deep breath. “I wish I could hold onto you, and just keep you from falling. It’d do some good to keep you from it, and even if it meant just me falling. It’d just make me happy you didn’t fall too.”

He sighed again. This time I took out a cigarette and handed it to him. We watched as I lit it for him. I didn’t want to smoke. I don’t know why. I wasn’t really in the mood for it. You got to be in the mood for that kinda stuff.

“That’s why I was talking about just being the catcher in the rye. You’ve heard of the song right? I mean, for the longest time I thought ‘if a body meets a body comin’ through the rye’. That’s how I still sometimes say it, even though Phoebe said it wasn’t that way. I could see you doin’ the same thing too, just catching all of them in the rye so they don’t all fall.”

We were quiet until he finished his cigarette. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence either. We were just weighing all what we had said. That kinda stuff needs to be weighed. I don’t know why.

“How do you see the world, Holden?” I asked, when he put the cigarette out.

Holden was quiet for a long time. He knew as well as I that it was almost time to leave. I don’t know how we know this, but we do. He starts to put his hat on. “I sorta don’t know. Everyone here is just…it’s fake because we can’t handle the real situations. I don’t really understand it, but none of us can stop for one damn second not wanting to go see those moving pictures or go sip brandy with those celebrities. Everybody is always rushing to some play that shows how we really are, but to me, those are just the most phoniest of things. I hate it. I really don’t know how to write it all down for you and all right now. That’s just what I am thinking. I wish I didn’t think so bad about it, cuz there can be some really good people in this world. It’s just helluva lot a trouble to find them.”

With that, he stood up. I did too. I said, really softly, “Thank you for taking the time talking with me.” I said it really sincere too.

Holden smiled to me. “Thanks for listening.”

He turned around, walked a few steps, then stopped. He turned around back to me, holding out something from his coat. It was a leather-bound notebook.

“For you,” He said, handing it to me.

I looked at it. I couldn’t help but to feel so happy. It really was the nicest thing. I don’t know. Just giving somebody anything is just the nicest of things. Even if it were socks, it’s still nice.

Holden was looking at me, but I was too busy admiring the notebook. He said, “You know, sometimes you loose track of things. This way, at least, you can jot it all down and not loose it.”

I looked up at him again. I really didn’t know what to say. I felt like I was about to cry. I wasn’t depressed or nothing, just really damn happy. I couldn’t remember being so happy. So I said,

“I’ll never forget you, Holden.”

And Holden just smiled. He put those laps over his ears and I was about to say good luck, but thought against it. I watched him walk away until he was just a dot, like a period at the end of a sentence.



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