Un(der)known Writers: Jane Bowles

“I’ll tell you,” said Mrs. Copperfield, leaning over the table and suddenly looking very tense. “I am a little worried–not terribly worried, because I shan’t allow anything to happen that I don’t want to happen–but I’m a little worried because Pacifica has met this blond boy who lives way uptown and he has asked her to marry him. He never says anything and he has a very weak character. But I think he has bewitched her because he pays her compliments all the time. I’ve gone up to his apartment with her, because I won’t allow them to be alone, and she has cooked dinner for him twice. He’s crazy for Spanish food and eats ravenously of every dish she puts in front of him.”

Mrs. Copperfield leaned back and stared intently into Miss Goering’s eyes.

“I am taking her back to Panama as soon as I am able to book passage on a boat.” She ordered another double whisky.

“Well, what do you think of it?” she asked eagerly.

“Perhaps you’d better wait and see whether or not she really wants to marry him.”

“Don’t be insane,” said Mrs. Copperfield. “I can’t live without her, not for a minute. I’d go completely to pieces.”

“But you have gone to pieces, or do I misjudge you dreadfully?”

“True enough,” said Mrs. Copperfield, bringing her fist down on the table and looking very mean. “I have gone to pieces, which is a thing I’ve wanted to do for years. I know I am as guilty as I can be, but I have my happiness, which I guard like a wolf, and I have authority now and a certain amount of daring, which, if you remember correctly, I never had before.”

Mrs. Copperfield was getting drunk and looking more disagreeable.

-Jane Bowles, Two Serious Ladies, 1943