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    Of Mice and Men by John Stienbeck

    Of Mice and Men
    George came quietly out of the brush.
    George said quietly, “What the hell you yellin’ about?”
    Lennie got up on his knees.
    “You ain’t gonna leave me, are ya, George? I know you ain’t.”
    George came stiffly near and sat down beside him. “No.”
    “I knowed it,” Lennie cried. “You ain’t that kind.”
    George was silent.
    Lennie said, “George.”
    “I done another bad thing.”
    “It don’t make no difference,” George said, and he fell silent again.
    Only the topmost ridges were in the sun now.
    The shadow in the valley was blue and soft.
    From the distance came the sound of men shouting to one another.
    George turn his head and listened to the shouts.
    Lennie said, “George.”
    Ain’t you gonna give me hell?”
    “Give ya hell?”
    “Sure, like you always done before.
    Like ‘If I di’n’t have you I’d take my fifty bucks –‘”
    “Jesus Christ, Lennie! You can’t remember nothing that happens,
    But you remember ever’ word I say.”
    “Well, ain’t you gonna say it?”
    George shook himself.
    He said woodenly,
    “If I was alone I could live so easy.”
    His voice was monotonous, had no emphasis.
    “I could get a job an’ not have no mess.”
    He stopped.
    “Go on,” said Lennie.
    “An’ when the enda the month come--.”
    “An’ when the enda the month come I could take my fifty bucks an’ go to a… cathouse…” He stopped again.
    Lennie looked eagerly at him. “Go on George. Ain’t you gonna give me no more hell?”
    “No” said George.
    “Well, I can go away,” said Lennie.
    “I’ll go right off in the hills an’ find a cave if you don’ want me.”
    George shook himself again.
    “No,” he said.
    “I want you to stay with me here.”
    Lennie said craftily --- “Tell me like you done before.”
    “Tell you what?”
    “ ‘Bout the other guys an’ about us.”
    George said.
    “Guys like us got no family. They make a little stake an’ then blow it in. They ain’t got nobody in the worl’ that give a hoot in hell about ‘em—“
    “But not us,” Lennie cried happily. “Tell about us now.”
    George was quiet for a moment. “But not us,” he said.
    “Because –“
    “Because I got you an’ --- “
    “An’ I got you. We got each other, that’s what, that gives a hoot in hell about us,” Lennie cried in triumph.
    The little evening breeze blew over the clearing and the leaves rustled and the wind waves flowed up the green pool. And the shouts of men sounded again, this time much closer than before.
    George took off his hat.
    He said shakily,
    “Take off your hat, Lennie . The air feels fine.”
    Lennie removed his hat dutifully and laid it on the ground in front of him. The shadow in the valley was bluer, and the evening came fast. On the wind the sound of crashing through the brush came to them.
    Lennie said, “Tell how it’s gonna be.”
    George had been listening to the distant sounds.
    For the moment he was business-like.
    “Look acrost the river, Lennie, an I’ll tell you so you can almost see it.”
    Lennie turned his head and looked off across the pool and up the darkening slopes of the Gabilans.
    “We gonna get a little place,” George began. He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson’s Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand and gun lay on the ground behind Lennie’s back. He looked at the back of Lennie’s head, at the place where the spine and skull were joined.
    A man’s voice called from up the river, and another man answered.
    “Go on,” said Lennie.
    George raised the gun and his hand shook, and he dropped his hand to the ground again.
    “Go on,” said Lennie.
    “How’s it gonna be? We gonna get a little place.”

    “We’ll have a cow,” said George.
    “An’ we’ll have maybe a pig an’ chickens….
    an’ down on the flat we’ll have a….
    little piece of alfalfa—“
    “For the Rabbits.” Lennie shouted.
    “For the Rabbits.” George repeated.
    “And I get to tend the rabbits.”
    “An’ you get to tend the rabbits.”
    Lennie giggled with happiness.
    “An’ live on the fatta the lan’.”
    Lennie turned his head.
    “No, Lennie. Look down there acrost the river, like you can almost see the place.”
    Lennie obeyed him. George looked down at the gun.
    There were crashing footsteps in the brush now. George turned and looked toward them.
    “Go on, George. When we gonna do it?”
    “Gonna do it soon.”
    “Me an’ you.”
    “You…. an’ me. Ever’body gonna be nice to you. Ain’t gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from ‘em.”
    Lennie said, “I thought you was mad at me, George.”
    “No,” said George. “No Lennie. I ain’t mad. I never been mad, an I ain’t now. That’s the thing I want you to know.”
    The voices came close now. George raised the gun and listened to the voices.
    Lennie begged, “Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place now.”
    “Sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta.”
    And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger.
    The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and down again. Lennie jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay without quivering. George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank, by the old pile of ashes.
    The brush seemed filled with cries and with the sound of running feet.
    Slim’s voice shouted,
    “George, where you at, George?”
    But George sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his hand that had thrown the gun away. The group burst into the clearing, and Curly was ahead. He saw Lennie lying on the sand. “Got him, by God.” He went over and looked down at Lennie, and then he looked back at George. “Right in the back of the head,” he said softly.
    Slim came directly to George and sat down beside him, sat very close to him.
    “Never you mind,” said Slim. “A guy gotta sometimes.”
    But Carlson was standing over George. “How’d you do it?” he asked.
    “I just done it.” George said tiredly.
    “Did he have my gun?”
    “Yeah, He had your gun.”
    “An’ you got it away from him and you took it an’ killed him?”
    “Yeah, tha’s how.” George’s voice was almost a whisper. He looked steadily at his right hand that had held the gun.
    Slim twitched George’s elbow.
    “Come on, George. Me an’ you’ll go in an’ get a drink.”
    George let himself be helped to his feet. “Yeah, a drink.”
    Slim said, “You hadda, George. I swear you hadda. Come on with me.
    He led George to entrance of the trail and up toward the highway.
    Curly and Carlson looked after them. And Carlson said,
    “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?”


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