An April Afternoon by Philip Wylie

By Philip Wylie

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Larry flung down his napkin and ran from the room. He went up the steps, three at a time. We heard his door slam. That made me feel wretched and I started to go up to talk to him. I knew he'd be flat on his face on his bed, crying. He hadn't done such a thing since his childhood--but Larry's regard for his mother had always been fierce, as well as tender--and seventeen is a poignant age for disillusionment. Virginia made me sit down. "Don't do it. He wants to be alone. He'll come down after a while and apologize.

Yeah," he said slowly, "Larry and Ivan and John can swim better than you and they would have saved Virginia from enduring as much submersion. But they weren't there and the fact remains that you saved her. " "No," I said. And then I didn't want to look at him. So I looked away. I asked how the airplane had spotted us. He answered--but as if he were thinking about something else. "Why--who they spotted was Connie--running around in the front lawn so she'd attract them. They dipped down to see what made a woman run that way--and she pointed.

Anyway, John seemed to have said all he wished. He picked up the ball and walked out of the woods. It was the next day--or the day after, that one of the tabloids got the story. Larry brought a copy of the paper up to us when we were having a cocktail before dinner. Virginia and Bill, John and Ivan and myself--sipping our drink, trying to make conversation, but actually hiding embattled silences. Fort Sheffield had now become a true fort, with all its defenders wounded, and the besieging world showering down fatuity, unkindness, and explosions of long-accumulated envy.

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