A Pursuit Race (Hemingway)

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A Pursuit Race
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An advance man for a burlesque show struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, leading to his dismissal and a conversation with the show's manager about his inability to change.

William Campbell had been in a pursuit race with a burlesque show ever since Pittsburgh. He hoped to maintain a slight lead over the show until they reached the Pacific coast. However, the burlesque show caught up with him in Kansas City. Campbell was in bed when the manager of the burlesque troupe, Mr. Turner, came into his room.

William Campbell — advance man for a burlesque show; struggling with alcohol and drug addiction; introspective, self-destructive.
Sliding Billy Turner — manager of the burlesque show; middle-aged, bald, caring, and practical.

Campbell was drunk and had been drinking heavily for a week. During their conversation, Campbell revealed to Mr. Turner that he had been using drugs as well. He showed Mr. Turner the puncture marks on his arm, explaining that he drank alcohol to drive away the hallucination of a wolf that accompanied his drug use.

I can’t slide, Billy. It’s awful when you can’t slide.

Mr. Turner, who was fond of Campbell, suggested that he should take a cure for his addiction. Campbell refused, claiming that he was perfectly happy and that there was no cure for anything.

I just love sheets. I can kiss this sheet and see right through it at the same time.

Mr. Turner left the room, but returned later at noon to check on Campbell. He found him sleeping and, recognizing the value of rest, decided not to wake him.