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Weird Tales JANUARY, 1943

Bindings Deluxe

By DAVID H. KELLER

Certainly he hated women. Hadn't one tried to murder him, after first killing twnety-five of his best friends?

"I DON'T like women!"

"I feel the same way," was my reply. "Now when it comes to men or books, why that is something different."

We were in the Turkish bath and just beginning the sweat. Only two of us in the room, on steamer chairs, with the temperature at one-hundred and seventy but feeling more like two hundred. The other man had evidently been in for some time before I entered for his appearance indicated that he was beginning to suffer. At least he had surely reached the point of irritation. I thought this cutaneous irritability might be the reason for his outburst against the fair sex. At least there was no other obvious reason. To make his antipathy toward women in general all the stronger he repeated the idea with variations.

"I just don't like them. They do things differently; they think differently. I can't even say that I believe they think; perhaps they just react to their emotions. Why, I have seen women calmly do things that a man wouldn't think of. Fond of books?" he asked abruptly changing the subject.

"You bet!" I replied enthusiastically. "Ought to be. I collect and bind them as an avocation. I make some money by binding and spend it collecting. Make a specialty of early Pennsylvania imprints."

"I have some really nice books." He sighed as he said it. "A few of them are distinctly rare. Odd! I'm a binder myself. Must get out of here now. I can stand just so much and then the heat worries me."

He walked out, a rather portly, middle-aged man. Ten minutes later I followed him. An hour later I caught up with him in the sun-ray room. He was exposing his back to the lamps. I looked at that back; sat down quietly on the cot next to his, continuing to look, incredulous. At last I was satisfied that what I saw on his skin was really there and not an illusion, then I made myself comfortable on my cot and began to ponder this thing. I had never seen anything like that back. Not once, on all the thousands and hundreds of thousands of men I had examined in the army had I ever seen a back approaching the like of that one.

Of course it was something that could not be discussed, certainly nothing one man could ask about directly; but if he offered to talk of it freely, of his own accord, it would certainly be interesting.

After the alcohol rub I invited him to have a snack of refreshment. Wrapped in sheets we became better acquainted over a Swiss sandwich and a cup ...

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