Free Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Book: Purity by Jonathan Franzen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jonathan Franzen
    â€œDreyfuss, do you feel anything about this?”
    He looked at Pip steadily. “I feel that Ramón will be getting more than adequate care. I will miss his friendly presence but not his video games or his very limited conversational range. It may take some time, but Marie will likely be able to get her marriage annulled—I’ve identified several precedents in the archdiocese. I confess to some concern about house finances in the absence of her paychecks. Stephen tells me we need a new roof. As much as you seem to enjoy helping him with house maintenance, I have trouble imagining the two of you in a roofing capacity.”
    By Dreyfuss standards this was a very feeling speech. Pip went up to Ramón’s room and found him lying on his tangled bedsheets, his face to a wall covered with Bay Area sports posters. The combination of his strong smell and the smiling star athletes was so poignant that her eyes filled.
    â€œRamón, sweetie?”
    â€œHi Pip,” he said, not moving at all.
    She sat down on his bed and touched his fat arm. “Stephen said you wanted to see me. Do you want to turn around and see me?”
    â€œI want us to be famlee,” he said, not moving.
    â€œWe’re still family,” she said. “None of us is going anywhere.”
    â€œI’m going somewhere. Marie said. I’m going to the home where she works. It’s a different famlee but I like our famlee. Don’ you like our famlee, Pip?”
    â€œI do like it, very much.”
    â€œMarie can go but I wanna stay with you an’ Stephen an’ Drayfuss, just like before.”
    â€œBut we’ll all still see you, and now you can make some new friends, too.”
    â€œI don’ wan’ new frens. I wan’ my old frens, just like before.”
    â€œYou like Marie, though. And she’ll be there every day, you’ll never be alone. It’ll be sort of the same and sort of new—it’ll be nice.”
    She sounded to herself just like she did when she was lying on the phone at work.
    â€œMarie don’ do things with me like you an’ Stephen an’ Drayfuss do,” Ramón said. “She’s too busy. I don’ see why I have to go with her an’ not stay here.”
    â€œWell, she takes care of you in a different way. She earns money, and we all benefit from that. She loves you just as much Stephen does, and anyway she’s your mother now. A person has to stay with their mother.”
    â€œBut I like it here, like famlee. Wha’s gonna happen to us, Pip?”
    She was already imagining what would happen to them: how much more time she’d have alone with Stephen. The best part of living here, even more than discovering her capacity for charity, had been that she got to be around him every day. Having grown up with a mother so unworldly that she couldn’t even hang a picture on a wall, because it would have entailed buying a hammer to drive the nail, Pip had arrived on Thirty-Third Street with a hunger to learn practical skills. And Stephen had taught her these skills. He’d shown her how to spackle, how to caulk, how to operate a power saw, how to glaze a window, how to rewire a scavenged lamp, how to take apart her bicycle, and he’d been so patient with her, so generous, that she (or at least her body) had had a feeling of being groomed to be a worthier mate for him than Marie, whose domestic skills were strictly of the kitchen. He took her dumpster-diving, demonstrating how to jump right in and toss things around, digging for the good stuff, and sometimes she even did this by herself now, when she saw a promising dumpster, and exulted with him when she brought home something usable. It was a thing they had together. She could be more like him than Marie was, and thus, in time, more liked. This promise made the ache of her desire more bearable.
    By the time she and Ramón had had a good cry together, and

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