In Cold Blood

Free In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Book: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote Read Free Book Online
Authors: Truman Capote
superstructures, one self-expression and the other self-destruction. You are strong, but there is a flaw in your strength, and unless you learn to control it the flaw will prove stronger than your strength and defeat you. The flaw?
Explosive emotional reaction out of all proportion to the occasion.
Why? Why this unreasonable anger at the sight of others who are happy or content, this growing contempt for people and the desire to hurt them? All right, you think they’re fools, you despise them because their morals, their happiness is the source of
your
frustration and resentment. But these are dreadful enemies you carry within yourself—in time destructive as bullets. Mercifully, a bullet kills its victim. This other bacteria, permitted to age, does not kill a man but leaves in its wake the hulk of a creature torn and twisted; there is still fire within his being but it is kept alive by casting upon it faggots of scorn and hate. He may successfully accumulate, but he does not accumulate success, for he is his own enemy and is kept from truly enjoying his achievements.”
    Perry, flattered to be the subject of this sermon, had let Dick read it, and Dick, who took a dim view of Willie-Jay, had called the letter “just more of Billy Grahamcracker’s hooey,” adding, “ ‘Faggots of scorn!’
He’s
the faggot.” Of course, Perry had expected this reaction, and secretly he welcomed it, for his friendship with Dick, whom he had scarcely known until his final few months in Lansing, was an outgrowth of, and counterbalance to, the intensity of his admiration for the chaplain’s clerk. Perhaps Dick
was
“shallow,” or even, as Willie-Jay claimed, “a vicious blusterer.” All the same, Dick was full of fun, and he was shrewd, a realist, he “cut through things,” there were no clouds in his head or straw in his hair. Moreover, unlike Willie-Jay, he was not critical of Perry’s exotic aspirations; he was willing to listen, catch fire, share with him those visions of “guaranteed treasure” lurking in Mexican seas, Brazilian jungles.
    After Perry’s parole, four months elapsed, months of rattling around in a fifth-hand, hundred-dollar Ford, rolling from Reno to Las Vegas, from Bellingham, Washington, to Buhl, Idaho, and it was in Buhl, where he had found temporary work as a truck driver, that Dick’s letter reached him: “Friend P., Came out in August, and after you left I Met Someone, you do not know him, but he put me on to Something we could bring off Beautiful. A cinch, the Perfect score . . .” Until then Perry had not imagined that he would ever see Dick again.
Or
Willie-Jay. But they had both been much in his thoughts, and especially the latter, who in memory had grown ten feet tall, a gray-haired wise man haunting the hallways of his mind. “You pursue the negative,” Willie-Jay had informed him once, in one of his lectures. “You want not to give a damn, to exist without responsibility, without faith or friends or warmth.”
    In the solitary, comfortless course of his recent driftings, Perry had over and over again reviewed this indictment, and had decided it was unjust. He
did
give a damn—but who had ever given a damn about him? His father? Yes, up to a point. A girl or two—but that was “a long story.” No one else except Willie-Jay himself. And only Willie-Jay had ever recognized his worth, his potentialities, had acknowledged that he was not just an undersized, overmuscled half-breed, had seen him, for all the moralizing, as he saw himself—“exceptional,” “rare,” “artistic.” In Willie-Jay his vanity had found support, his sensibility shelter, and the four-month exile from this high-carat appreciation had made it more alluring than any dream of buried gold. So when he received Dick’s invitation, and realized that the date Dick proposed for his coming to Kansas more or less coincided with the time of Willie-Jay’s release, he knew what he must do. He drove to Las Vegas, sold his

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