Holden’s Catcher in the Rye.
My response to The Catcher in the Rye by J. D Salinger
It was cold; the air was blowing around the place, dead leaves danced, chasing each other around the courtyard. The wind forced the trees to bend, the branches to dance around, shaking violently as the wind blew. The stone under my butt felt cold, I couldn’t remember how long I’d been sitting there, a few hours maybe? A few minutes? Days? Weeks? It was all a blur in my mind, along with how many faces I’d seen. There were people passing me by, I mean, I could see them, but somehow, none of that even mattered much, they didn’t see me. What was the point of sticking around anyway? No one really saw you anyway, that why when they told you to move on, you should, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t, because I was waiting. I finally saw him, not too far from where I sat upon the stone steps. They smelled like some bum had just peed on them, they always did, and they were littered with little cigarette butts. That annoyed me, it sure did, but again, there wasn’t much I could do, even If I wanted to. Ole Holden walked up to the steps of the Museum, he stared up at it, at me, then right through me. He didn’t see me either. No one did. He’d looked pretty darn hype to get to the museum and all, but when he came into sight of it, of me, he seemed sort of…Turned off, and instead hailed a cab.
Boy that killed me. It sure did. All this waiting around for him, and guess what? He just turned around and hailed a cab. Boy was I sore. Standing up was no easy feat, I just wanted to sit there all day and wait until he showed up eventually, but I mean, what was the point? I might as well follow him now. People like me don’t need cabs, we never get tired, and so I decided to walk along the sidewalk, remembering hearing something about a date with Sally. That girl. She definitely killed me. She was one of the most boring females in the world, though she was also like most of the other teenage girls of this time. Shallow, conceited, phony. Biltmore was full of people going to and fro, some leaving from their shows, other arriving early so that they wouldn’t miss the next one. The Lunts. I remember that one, it wasn’t that bad really, I think…Hm. I found Holden in the lobby near the clock; he was sitting on those comfy looking leather couches that people that were pretty small seemed to sink into it. I sat down next to him, he didn’t even seem to notice, his attention was on the girls milling about. Short girls, ugly girls, pretty girls, girls with their legs crossed, girls with their legs not crossed, girls that looked like bitches it you got to know them. I laughed, but Holden didn’t notice, I could pick up on his thoughts easily, I knew what he was thinking. I reached out for him, to tell him something, to make him see beyond his sinking train of thought, but again, I was unnoticed.
Tired, I sat there, swinging my legs slightly as we waited, Holden waiting on Sally, me waiting on Holden, God waiting on me. I was too busy staring at the floor to notice Sally coming up, but then Holden’s movements made me look up. I could concur on Holden’s thoughts right then and there, Sally did look pretty hot. When her voice sounded out, I winced, okay, I’d wished she’d kept her mouth shut and all, her voice had never really fazed me, but Holden was taken, and I couldn’t help but smile. He loved her? Right and I was Abraham Lincoln. I ghosted along with them into the Theater, for a moment I saw Sally look at me, and I held my breath, would she…? No, she looked right through me, and then turned back to Holden, engaging him in stupid conversation. Sullen, I simply followed them inside. The play was pretty good, I mean, I liked it, but I couldn’t say the same about Holden, he seemed about ready to drop dead on the spot, I felt bad for him. Almost. We left the theater, me ghosting after them again, Holden looked pretty bummed, the only thing I could guess was the matter was the fact that his date wasn’t going as great as he’d thought it would. I seriously wondered what he’d been thinking in the first place, he didn’t seem to be very bright. I followed them to the skating rink; it was pretty cool, with all those sexy girls skating around, with those cute skirts. I didn’t need skates, I just ran onto the ice, twirling around like I was God. And at the moment, I was pretty sure that I was this so called ‘God’. Holden and Sally followed after; Sally looked sexier off the ice, once she got on it… I nearly fell over laughing. She couldn’t skate worth a darn, plus she looked like she’d break her ankles soon, they were bending all over the place and well, Holden didn’t look any better either. After a few moments of torture, they seemed to give up and head for the bar, where Holden invited Sally for some drinks.
I skated over to them and hopped the gate, sliding into a seat next to them, and looking around. The conversation was boring, as it always was, until I noticed Holden getting unusually excited. I started to pay attention, noticing that his voice was rising. I wasn’t the only one noticing the two of them, even a few other customers in the place had looked over to them, along with me. I frowned and reached for Holden’s arm, but he ignored me, subconsciously shrugging me off, I yelled at him to calm down, it only seemed to inflame him even further, he was switching topics so fast I was losing track of his words, I had a feeling he was telling her something important, but I knew that Sally had blocked him out the moment he’d gotten too excited. I could see it. She was listening, but she wasn’t…Listening…Do you get what I mean? I hope so.
“Holden!” I cried, and magically it seemed as if my voice reached him, finally. He calmed down somewhat, but he looked…Angry, very angry, and then he said one of the meanest things ever, “C’mon, let’s get out of here…You give me such a pain the ass, if you want to know the truth.” I stared at him, this wasn’t like Holden, and quite suddenly, I started to laugh, and he joined in too. We sat there and laughed, though Holden cut off before me, I just kept laughing, tears stung at my eyes, and I felt myself falling. Without warning, I lost both Holden and Sally. I don’t know how long I was asleep, maybe a day? A few hours? It didn’t matter…No one missed me.
Then suddenly, I heard someone calling me, I sat up in the void, and realized that I was on Fifth Avenue, at the end of the block, Holden was there too, and he suddenly started muttering, “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Please Allie.” I scrambled to my feet and grabbed his arm, and for the first time since I’d begun following him, I’m sure he felt it. I felt him, the sweaty skin that made his clothes stick, the heat that wafted from him, the light shivers, and together we crossed the streets. Every time we successfully crossed, He’d thank me. I couldn’t help it, I smiled. I know he still couldn’t see me, or feel me, or hear me for that matter, but I knew that he knew that I was there with him. That made me happy. I felt his fear as we kept walking, as well as his mounting exhaustion, and still we kept walking, I followed him, holding his arm, leading him on, catching him, keeping him from falling over that cliff, I was his Catcher in the Rye.
I waited for him to catch his breath at the bench, I looked over him, he looked so sad, so alone, didn’t he know, didn’t he realize? I was with him. I would always be here. He got up a few minutes later and headed for the school where we’d used to go to, it hadn’t changed, and it was all pretty dirty, dinky looking. It wasn’t lunchtime yet, so the best we could see was one colored kid heading to the bathroom, that wooden pass sticking out of the pocket of his pants, the way it’d always been when I’d gone there. I waited in front of it and sat down on the stone steps again, it was cold, but I barely feel it, I just watched Holden go inside. FUCK, FUCK. Those words made me sit up in surprise; those definitely had not been what I’d been expecting. Without realizing it, I’d fallen asleep again. Holden was angry, I could see it in the way he walked, his accelerated breathing. He reached for me, and I froze, but no, he reached through me and wiped at the FUCK YOU on the floor, it came off cleanly. But when he noticed something on the wall, it was another FUCK YOU, only this one was scratched in. His anger faded, replaced by sadness, he walked away from the school, heading for the Museum again. I followed slowly, sitting down on the steps in front of them, back where we’d begun… I was so tired by now. I mean, I’m dead you know? I’m pretty sure you’ve figured this out by now. I’m not supposed to feel this tired, but I could barely push myself up to follow him anymore, he went into the Museum without me….W-without…Me….I awoke a small while later, I could Feel Holden again, and he was angry. I also felt Phoebe nearby and knowing she was finally here made me jerk upright, a new bout of energy coming into me. “So, shut up.” I blinked in surprise, my little sister saying shut up? I glanced at Holden, he looked pretty hurt, and I saw it in his face, he’d corrupted innocence…Or had he really? He told her he was going home, he meant it, I could tell he did, I could tell that by any means that he really did mean it, and without much meaning to, I sank back down onto the stone steps, my eye lids grew heavy. I could still see Phoebe giving Holden the cold shoulder, she wouldn’t look at him, turning away from him, ignoring him for the most part, before actually going so far as to cross the street without him, not even looking around at all. I smiled…She killed me sometimes…She really did….Really…Did…
Slick drops of something falling on my cheeks woke me up again; I opened my eyes to realize it was raining. I wasn’t at the Museum anymore. When you were dead, your body seemed to do what it wanted to; you could teleport from one place to the other in your sleep. That’s how I found myself in the park, with that Carousel moving round and round, the horse’s dancing along, the kids trying to catch that gold ring. I sat up on the bench, right next to Holden; I looked over to him, then back at Phoebe. I smiled, and I knew that he’d gotten it. He’d hit rock bottom, hard, and for once, he didn’t cry out in pain, or curl up into himself with the realization. He started to cry yes, but I saw it in his eyes, he realized how beautiful childhood was…And that he was getting too old to hold onto it… I finally stood up from the bench, and for a moment, he saw me, I’m pretty darn sure he did, but then again, that darkness was calling me, blissful sleep…And I went towards it, with open arms. I didn’t think everything would be alright from now on, nor did I suggest that this story has a happy ending. Holden may never be truly happy, and he may not actually find himself in this world, but I knew that for now, he’d make it, with a little help of Phoebe…His new Catcher in The Rye. Maybe I’ll come back someday, when he starts to lose himself again, and maybe I won’t…It all depends.