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He slouched, and wore clothes badly: he always looked as though he had just been jumped for his lunch money.
He went forward each morning with the hairless cheek of innocence itself, but by noon a clean shave was no more than a memory, a hoboish penumbra on the jaw not quite sufficient to make him look tough.
In his case the covert passion-one of them, at any rate-was for those two-bit argosies of blood and wonder, the pulps.
He had tracked down and read every biweekly issue of The Shadow going back to 1933, and he was well on his way to amassing complete runs of The Avenger and Doc Savage.
He possessed an incorrect but fervent understanding of the workings of television, atom power, and antigravity, and harbored the ambition-one of a thousand-of ending his days on the warm sunny beaches of the Great Polar Ocean of Venus.
It was also a question of transformation." The truth was that, as a kid, Sammy had only a casual interest, at best, in Harry Houdini and his legendary feats; his great heroes were Nikola Tesla, Louis Pasteur, and Jack London.
"He can barely stand on his own two feet."Sammy peered over his mother, trying to get a better look at poor Josef Kavalier in his baggy tweed suit. But his mother had not said a word about any of them coming to visit, let alone to share Sammy's bed. I want to tell you something." She grabbed hold of his ears as if taking a jug by the handles, and crushed each of his cheeks in turn with her lips. His wristwatch chimed against the water glass on the nightstand.
He wasn't sure just how San Francisco fitted into the story."There you are," his mother said, standing up straight again, apparently satisfied at having driven Sammy onto the easternmost five inches of the mattress. Then he and a gust of chilly air got in under the covers, bearing with them an odor of cigarette, armpit, damp wool, and something sweet and somehow nostalgic that Sammy presently identified as the smell, on his cousin's breath, of prunes from the leftover ingot of his mother's "special" meatloaf-prunes were only a small part of what made it so very special-which he had seen her wrap like a parcel in a sheet of wax paper and set on a plate in the Frigidaire.
"You weren't the same person when you came out as when you went in.
Houdini's first magic act, you know, back when he was just getting started.