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I got off the carousel a second time, the golden ring I caught warming in my hand. Holden was standing there, red hunting hat flattened out by the downpour. Everyone edged away from him, afraid of the teenager who dared stand in the rain. He didn’t seem to mind, though. He just stood there, grinning.
“Do you want to go on now, Holden? All the little kids are leaving, so we could have the whole carousel to ourselves!”
“No thanks, Phoebs. I’m just too big.”
“That’s a lousy excuse Holden, and you know it!”
“So? I’m still not gonna ride any goddam carousel.”
“Now, what are we doing just standing around in the goddam park for?”
“Come on Holden; stop it!”
“I was just trying to say that since you still have-“ Holden glanced at his watch “-about an hour until school is out, we could visit the museum for a while, before picking up your suitcase and heading home.”
“But I don’t like the museum!”
Holden just wilted when I said that. “Why the hell don’tcha, Phoebe?”
“Well, I just go there all the time, with my class and everything. And it’s always just the same old things all the time. It gets boring. I think it’d be nicer if they changed things around once in a while, that’s all.”
“Funny,” Holden said, looking out into the rain, “that’s exactly what I always liked best about the museum.”
Gosh, I hated seeing him so sad. “How about we watch a movie?”
“No thanks, Phoebs. The movies are just too damn phony. You gotta be in the right mood for phony stuff like that.”
I wanted to say, “But you’re never in the right mood, Holden,” but instead I watched the tide of people pour out of the park.
Finally, I grabbed my brother’s hand. “Let’s just go home, okay? I’m tired. We can pick up my suitcase later, if you like.”
“Okay,” he agreed.
We ran out onto the sidewalk, Holden waving around the red hunting hat to hail a cab. When we got in, Holden gave me back his hat. “You should have it, Phoebe.”
I took the hat. It was soaking wet, like everything else in the cab. I wondered who else sat in the cab that day. I hoped they were clean.
“Holden, are sure that you want to go home right now?”
There was a pause before Holden looked me squarely in the eye, and said, “Yes.” Then it got quiet again, until the cab driver pulled up to our street and asked, “Is this the place, Mac?”
“Yeah,” Holden said. He paid the cabbie, and gave the change back to me. It wasn’t very much.
We walked into our building and onto the elevator.
“Hiya, Pete,” I said to the elevator boy.
“Hello, Phoebe. How ya doin’?”
“And how are you Holden? Aren’t you back a little early from school?”
“That would seem to be the case, Pete,” Holden said, very snotty.
The metal gates to the elevator soon opened, and I led Holden into the apartment. Mother was right in the foyer, expecting me back from school.
“Phoebe darling! How are you, dear? My, you’re soaking wet! You should have brought your umbrella, like I suggested! If you get a fever, and can’t make it to the play, you’ve got only yourself to blame, you-“ At that moment, she looked up and saw my brother in the doorway.
“Holden! I was sure that your break didn’t start until Wednesday- oh my Lord, did you get expelled again? What am I going to do with you? When your father hears about this- don’t you dare roll your eyes at me, young man! Go to your room!” Holden slammed the door shut, and mother sighed. “I need an aspirin, and I need to telephone Mr. Caulfield. What am I to do with that boy…” Mother wandered her way to the medicine cabinet.
And so I was left alone. I looked at the hunting hat Holden gave me, all wet and scrunched up, and slid it under Holden’s door before going to my room.