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To-day Is Friday

Three Roman soldiers are in a drinking-place at eleven o'clock at night. There are barrels around the wall. Behind the wooden counter is a Hebrew wine-seller. The three Roman soldiers are a little cock-eyed.

1st Roman Soldier--You tried the red?

2d Soldier--No, I ain't tried it.

1st Soldier--You better try it.

2d Soldier--All right, George, we'll have a round of the red.

Hebrew Wine-seller--Here you are, gentlemen. You'll like that. [He sets down an earthenware pitcher that he has filled from one of the casks.] That's a nice little wine.

1st Soldier--Have a drink of it yourself. [He turns to the third Roman soldier who is leaning on a barrel.] What's the matter with you?

3d Roman Soldier--I got a gut-ache.

2d Soldier--You've been drinking water.

1st Soldier--Try some of the red.

3d Soldier--I can't drink the damn stuff. It makes my gut sour.

1st Soldier--You been out here too long.

3d Soldier--Hell, don't I know it?

1st Soldier--Say, George, can't you give this gentleman something to fix up his stomach?

Hebrew Wine-seller--I got it right here.

[The third Roman soldier tastes the cup that the wine-seller has mixed for him.]

3d Soldier--Hey, what you put in that, camel chips?

Wine-seller--You drink that right down, Lootenant. That'll fix you up right.

3d Soldier--Well, I couldn't feel any worse.

1st Soldier--Take a chance on it. George fixed me up fine the other day.

Wine-seller--You were in bad shape, Lootenant. I know what fixes up a bad stomach.

[The third Roman soldier drinks the cup down.]

3d Roman Soldier--Jesus Christ. [He makes a face.]

2d Soldier--That false alarm!

1st Soldier--Oh, I don't know. He was pretty good in there to-day.

2d Soldier--Why didn't he come down off the cross?

1st Soldier--He didn't want to come down off the cross. That's not his play.

2d Soldier--Show me a guy that doesn't want to come down off the cross.

1st Soldier--Aw, hell, you don't know anything about it. Ask George there. Did he want to come down off the cross, George?

Wine-seller--I'll tell you, gentlemen, I wasn't out there. It's a thing I haven't taken any interest in.

2d Soldier--Listen, I seen a lot of them--here and plenty of other places. Any time you show me one that doesn't want to get down off the cross when the time comes--when the time comes, I mean--I'll climb right up with him.

1st Soldier--I thought he was pretty good in there to-day.

3d Soldier--He was all right.

2d Roman Soldier--You guys don't know what I'm talking about. I'm not saying whether he was good or not. What I mean is, when the time comes. When they first start nailing him, there isn't none of them wouldn't stop it if they could.

1st Soldier--Didn't you follow it, George?

Wine-seller--No, I didn't take any interest in it, Lootenant.

1st Soldier--I was surprised how he acted.

3d Soldier--The part I don't like is the nailing them on. You know, that must get to you pretty bad.

2d Soldier--It isn't that that's so bad, as when they first lift 'em up. [He makes a lifting gesture with his two palms together.] When the weight starts to pull on 'em. That's when it gets 'em.

3d Roman Soldier--It takes some of them pretty bad.

1st Soldier--Ain't I seen 'em? I seen plenty of them. I tell you, he was pretty good in there to-day.

[The second Roman soldier smiles at the Hebrew wine-seller.]

2d Soldier--You're a regular Christer, big boy.

1st Soldier--Sure, go on and kid him. But listen while I tell you something. He was pretty good in there to-day.

2d Soldier--What about some more wine?

[The wine-seller looks up expectantly. The third Roman soldier is sitting with his head down. He does not look well.]

3d Soldier--I don't want any more.

2d Soldier--Just for two, George.

[The wine-seller puts out a pitcher of wine, a size smaller than the last one. He leans forward on the wooden counter.]

1st Roman Soldier--You see his girl?

2d Soldier--Wasn't I standing right by her?

1st Soldier--She's a nice-looker.

2d Soldier--I knew her before he did. [He winks at the wine-seller.]

1st Soldier--I used to see her around the town.

2d Soldier--She used to have a lot of stuff. He never brought her no good luck.

1st Soldier--Oh, he ain't lucky. But he looked pretty good to me in there to-day.

2d Soldier--What become of his gang?

1st Soldier--Oh, they faded out. Just the women stuck by him.

2d Roman Soldier--They were a pretty yellow crowd. When they seen him go up there they didn't want any of it.

1st Soldier--The women stuck all right.

2d Soldier--Sure, they stuck all right.

1st Roman Soldier--You see me slip the old spear into him?

2d Roman Soldier--You'll get into trouble doing that some day.

1st Soldier--It was the least I could do for him. I'll tell you he looked pretty good to me in there to-day.

Hebrew Wine-seller--Gentlemen, you know I got to close.

1st Roman Soldier--We'll have one more round.

2d Roman Soldier--What's the use? This stuff don't get you anywhere. Come on, let's go.

1st Soldier--Just another round.

3d Roman Soldier--[Getting up from the barrel.] No, come on. Let's go. I feel like hell to-night.

1st Soldier--Just one more.

2d Soldier--No, come on. We're going to go. Good-night, George. Put it on the bill.

Wine-seller--Good-night, gentlemen. [He looks a little worried.] You couldn't let me have a little something on account, Lootenant?

2d Roman Soldier--What the hell, George! Wednesday's pay-day.

Wine-seller--It's all right, Lootenant. Good-night, gentlemen.

[The three Roman soldiers go out the door into the street.]

[Outside in the street.]

2d Roman Soldier--George is a kike just like all the rest of them.

1st Roman Soldier--Oh, George is a nice fella.

2d Soldier--Everybody's a nice fella to you to-night.

3d Roman Soldier--Come on, let's go up to the barracks. I feel like hell to-night.

2d Soldier--You been out here too long.

3d Roman Soldier--No, it ain't just that. I feel like hell.

2d Soldier--You been out here too long. That's all.


Master of Concise Prose, Nobel Laureate, and Enduring Voice of the Lost Generation.