Tom Ripley 25
Mr Greenleaf smiled bravely. ‘Can’t I offer you a drink, Mr Ripley?’ he asked when the waiter came with his Scotch and soda.
Tom wanted to leave. But he hated to leave the man sitting alone with his fresh drink. ‘Thanks, I think I will,’ he said, and handed the waiter his glass.
‘Charley Schriever told me you were in the insurance business,’ Mr Greenleaf said pleasantly.
‘That was a little while ago. I –’ But he didn’t want to say he was working for the Department of Internal Revenue, not now. ‘I’m in the accounting department of an advertising agency at the moment.’
Neither said anything for a minute. Mr Greenleaf’s eyes were fixed on him with a pathetic, hungry expression. What on earth could he say? Tom was sorry he had accepted the drink. ‘How old is Dickie now, by the way?’ he asked.
So am I, Tom thought. Dickie was probably having the time of his life over there. An income, a house, a boat. Why should he want to come home? Dickie’s face was becoming clearer in his memory: he had a big smile, blondish hair with crisp waves in it, a happy-go-lucky face. Dickie was lucky. What was he himself doing at twenty-five? Living from week to week. No bank account. Dodging cops now for the first time in his life. He had a talent for mathematics. Why in hell didn’t they pay him for it, somewhere? Tom realized that all his muscles had tensed, that the matchcover in his fingers was mashed sideways, nearly flat. He was bored, God-damned bloody bored, bored, bored! He wanted to be back at the bar, by himself.