"I'll give him distance," said Feuerbach, twisting his thumb and forefinger in the now familiar sinister gesture. Another bird landed, and I said, "Is that one mine?" Each time a pigeon flapped home I said, "Is that Malloy?" but it never was. By the time we went to the club to check in with our clock, I concluded that he must be flying backward.
In less than two hours we had the results of the race. Had the hooker dispensed with frivolity, he might have been the winner. As it turned out, he finished 10th.
As soon as we got back to the Feuerbachs, I ran out to the loft to see if Terry Malloy was waiting on the platform. Not a pigeon in sight. What would happen to the squab waiting to be fed?
"His mother may feed him," said Ben, "or she might not. It's the cock's responsibility." I hung around until almost midnight, then returned disconsolately to Manhattan.
"A hawk may have got him," said Nona, "or maybe the wind blew him off course."
"Oh, he'll come home when he's ready," said Ben on the way to the station. "Maybe he decided to walk." I was not amused.
Nona telephoned about five o'clock the next afternoon. Terry Malloy had just arrived, she said, and every feather seemed to be intact. Ben had fed him, then put him in isolation. If nothing untoward turned up, he would be returned to the coop and his silver hen. Just as well, I told her. He would have a lot of explaining to do about his night on the town.
What can I say about Terry Malloy? He could have had class. He could have been a contender. He could have been somebody instead of a bum, which is what he is.