Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

‘Woops! Your age is now thirty-seven. And I'm forty one. '

‘Briney, I'm in bed with you. Can't I be truthful in bed? '

‘Judge Sperling wants us to stick to our corrected ages at all times. And Justin agrees. '

‘Yes sir. I'll be good. I always wondered if I could make a living as a streetwalker. But how do I find a beat? I understand that a gal can get per eyes scratched out if she just goes out and starts soliciting without finding out who owns that territory. I know what to do in bed, Briney; it's the merchandising of the product that I must learn. '

‘Don't be so eager, slippery bottom; it may not be necessary. Tell me. .. Do you still believe that Ted - Theodore - Corporal Bronson - carne from the future? '

I suddenly sobered. ‘I do. Don't you? '

‘Mo, I believed him as quickly as you did. I believed him before his prophecy about the end of the War proved true. Now I'm asking you this: do you believe in Ted strongly enough that you are willing to risk every cent we own that his prediction of a collapse in the stock market will be right on the button exactly like his prediction of Armistice Day? '

‘Black Tuesday, ' I said softly. ‘29 October. This year. '

‘Well? If I take this gamble - and miss - we'll be broke. Marie won't be able to finish at Radcliffe, Woodie will have to scratch for a college education, and Dick and Ethel - well, we'll cross those bridges later. Sweetheart, I'm into this bull market up to my ears. .. and I propose to get deeper into it on the firm assumption that Black Tuesday takes place on the dot and exactly as Ted said it would. '

‘Do it! '

‘Are you sure, Mo? If anything goes wrong, we'll be right back to fried mush. Whereas it is not too late to hedge my bets - pull half of it out and stash it away. Gamble with the other half. '

‘Briney, I wasn't brought up that way. You remember Father's harness racer Loafer? '

‘I saw him a few times. A beautiful beast. '

‘Yes. Just not quite as fast as he looked. Father regularly bet on himself. Always on the nose. Never to place or show. Loafer could usually come in second or third. .. but Father would not bet that way. I've heard him talk to Loafer before a heat, softly, gently: "This time we're going to take ‘em, boy! This time we're going to win! " Then later I've heard him say, "You tried, old fellow! That's all I can ask. You're still a champion. .. and we'll take ‘em next time! " And Father would pat him on the neck and Loafer would whinny and nicker to him, and they would comfort each other. '

‘Then you think I should bet across the board? For there isn't going to be any next time. '

‘No, no! Shoot the works! You believe Theodore and so do I. So let's do it! ' I added, as I reached down and grabbed his tool, ‘If it's fried mush time again, it need not be for long. You can knock me up, uh, let me see' - I counted - ‘next Monday. Which would mean that I would unload about' - I stopped to count again - ‘oh, a couple of weeks after Black Tuesday. Then we will receive another Howard Foundation bonus shortly thereafter. '

‘Huh? I mean, Excuse me? I don't understand. '

‘Mo, if Ted's prediction is wrong, the Foundation's principal assets may be wiped out. Justin and Judge Sperling are betting that Ted's prediction is correct; Chapman is bucking them. There are four other trustees. .. and two are Hoover Republicans, two were for Al Smith. Justin doesn't know which way it will go. '

Selling our house when we did was part of the gamble. It was a hard-nosed decision as it involved what came to be known as ‘block-busting'. We lived in an all-white neighbourhood, but Darktown was just north of us, not far away, and had been growing steadily closer in the twenty-odd years we had owned that house. (Dear, sweet house! - stuffed with happy memories. )

Brian had been approached by a white real estate agent who said he had an offer from an undisclosed client: how much did Brian want for his house?

‘Darling, I did not ask about his client. .. because, if I had asked, it would turn out that the client was a white lawyer who, if pushed, would be acting for a client in Denver or Boston. In this sort of a deal the cover-up is about six levels deep. .. and the neighbours are not supposed to find out the colour of the new owner's skin until the new owner moves in. '

‘What did you tell him? '

‘I told him, "Certainly 1'm willing to sell my house if the price is right. But the price would have to be attractive, as we are comfortable where we are and moving is always expensive in time and in money. What price does your client offer? In cash, I mean - not a down payment and take back a mortgage. If I am going to have to find another house for my large family - eleven of us - I'll need cash to work with. I may have to build, rather than buy - not too many houses can handle big families today; I probably would have to build. If I do this. So the price would have to be attractive and it would have to be in cash. "

‘This false face points out that any bank would discount the paper on such a property; a mortgage is as good as cash. "Not to me, it isn't, " I told him. "Let your client arrange the mortgage directly with his bank and bring the cash up front. My dear sir, I'm not anxious to sell. Give me a cash figure and, if it's big enough, we'll go straight to escrow. If it's not, I'll tell you no just as quickly. "

‘He said that escrow would not be necessary, as they were satisfied that I could grant good title. Mo, that told me more than the words he said. It means that they have already run a title search on us. .. and probably on every house in our block. It means to me that this is probably the only house in this block that does not have a mortgage against it. .. or some other legal matter that would have to be cleared in escrow, such as lifetime tenancy under a will, or the property is currently in probate, or involved in a pending divorce, or there is a lien against it, or a judgement, or something. A man trying to put together this sort of a deal doesn't like escrow, because it is during that waiting period that the "Gentlemen's Agreement" sort of people can find out what is going on, and move in to stop it. .. often with the connivance of a sympathetic judge. '

‘Briney, maybe you had better explain "Gentlemen's Agreement" to me. I don't recall it from that course in commercial law we took. '

‘You would not have heard of it there because it is extralegal. Not against the law, just not covered by law. There is no covenant in your deed to this house that forbids you to sell to anyone you wish to, black, white, or green polka dots. .. and it might not stand up in court if there was. But, if you were to ask our neighbours, I guarantee that they would assure you that there is indeed a gentlemen's agreement binding you not to sell your house in this block to a Negro. '

I was puzzled. ‘Have we ever agreed to anything of the sort? ' My husband made all sorts of commitments and rarely told me. He simply assumed that I would back him up. And I always did. Marriage is not a sometime thing; it's whole hawg or you're not married.