"Well, if you take that tone, you bastard, you can buy it at the bookstore when it comes out."
"Or borrow it from the library," Cass suggested.
"No, really, when can I read it? Tonight? Tomorrow? How long is it?"
"It's over three hundred pages," Richard said. "Come by tomorrow, you can look at it then." He said to Cass, "It's one way of getting him to the house." Then: "You really don't come to see us like you used to - anything the matter? Because we still love you."
"No, nothing's the matter," Vivaldo said. He hesitated, "I had this thing with Jane and when we broke up - and - oh, I don't know. Work wasn't going well, and" - he looked at Rufus - "all kinds of things. I was drinking too much and running around whoring when I should have been - being serious, like you, and getting my novel finished."
"How's it coming - your novel?"
"Oh" - he looked down and sipped his drink - "slow. I'm really not a very good writer."
"Bullshit," said Richard, cheerfully.
He almost looked again like the English instructor Vivaldo had idolized, who had been the first person to tell him things he needed to hear, the first person to take Vivaldo seriously.
"I'm very glad," Vivaldo said, "seriously, very glad that you got the damn thing done and that it worked so well. And I hope you make a fortune."