A Storyby Robert Stone
Teddy Spence’s voice had a harried sound when Kendall telephoned. His plummy, optimistic tones, so appropriate to the upscale travel game, a world of thoughtful adventure and cultivated sojournery, were distinctly flat. He sounded tentative and even a little surly. Was he drunk? wondered Kendall. Spence was an old upper-class boozer with a face as crimson as his college colors, but he had been off the piss for years and years. And what was Xanadu Tours, a Sutton Place outfit, doing on West Thirty-Fourth Street, suddenly relocated among chiseling factors, loan sharks, and bucket shops? Kendall had been on unpaid vacation since his last month-long tour to Indonesia and had emptied his bank account lazing and scuba diving in Ko Phi Phi. Plainly much had happened in the meantime.
“All is shit,” Spence declared over the phone. Kendall was at a call box to announce his arrival. “Shit utterly.”
“Do you have a cold or something?” Kendall asked.
“Oh,” said Teddy with surprising bitterness. “That’s a hot one. I can’t speak above a whisper. The bloody Sikh will hear me. Him or one of his many-armed sisters.”
“Who?” Kendall demanded. “What?”