Even short bursts were agony. Three nights ago, when he was sure she was upstairs, he had sneaked one of the sample boxes out and had read everything on the label, although he supposed he had read everything he needed when he saw what Novrils principal ingredient was.

I remember giving him a bath. When the carpet banked past him (her hair streamed out behind her; her eyes were as bright and flinty as the eyes of a sea-captain navigating among icebergs), he saw it was woven all in green and white; it made a Colorado license plate. He didnt need a psychiatrist to point out that writing had its autoerotic side - you beat a typewriter instead of your meat, but both acts depended largely on quick wits, fast hands and a heartfelt commitment to the art of the farfetched. Sitting there, head thrown back, face shiny with sweat, hair plastered to his forehead, Paul spoke one of them aloud now, almost as an incantation: "There may be fairies, there may be elves, but God helps those who help themselves.

Geoffrey thought the Wellington story was probably an exaggeration, but Old Shinny, as he and Tan had called him as boys, had see, Geoffrey through all his childhood illnesses, and Shinny had seemed a very old man to him, even then. Its toes were still spasming.

He knew it, but the thought of that telephone, the imagined sensation of the cool black plastic under his fingers, the click of the rotary dial or the single booping sound as he touch-toned 0 - these were seductions too great to resist. He got the stopwatch and went on with the story, ending his segment with Careless up to his hips in a pool of quicksand or something, and then he would ask someone else if he or she could, and bang down the button o! n the stopwatch.