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All the King's Men
by Robert Penn Warren
All the King's Men Chapter 9 Summary
As you might expect, Jack is a bundle of nerves from the shock. After he gets used to everything that has happened, he feels like he's finally gotten to the end of the story. But, the story isn't over yet. The Judge Irwin story is just one chapter in the story of the Boss. And the Boss' story is just one chapter in some humongous other story. Speaking of the Boss, he actually kids Jack about the Judge Irwin situation. Jack quickly establishes that he doesn't want to talk about it. The Boss apologizes, and changes the subject to MacMurfee. He still needs to deal with the Tom situation. Jack says he's out of that deal. The Boss asks if Jack is leaving him, and Jack says he isn't. Not being able to help himself, Willie asks, in a round about way, if the Judge did commit suicide. Jack says he did. Jack thinks of Tom playing football on Saturday nights, the crowd screaming his name. But Tom is getting to Willie, and Willie is in a foul mood, as any member of his staff will tell you. Yet, on game nights the Boss was happy and alive. Apparently, Tom is being pretty rough on Willie, and it was hurting the man. Willie does manage to take care of the Sibyl Frey situation. He has no alternative but to bribe Gummy Larson. (Remember, he's the guy that wants the hospital contract.) Gummy basically owns MacMurfee, and if Gummy tells him to stop everything, including his run for the Senate, he will have no choice but to do it. See, the Boss has to run for Senate now, while he's hot. It's an expensive deal. The Boss has to let Gummy build the hospital. Jack didn't get his hands dirty on this one. This was Tiny Duffy's baby. Jack isn't really aware of what's going down. Maybe if he had been he would have left the scene. He could certainly afford to do so. He has inherited from the Judge, and will inherit from the Scholarly Attorney. The money from the Judge could take him on vacation, but instead it makes him feel more connected to where he is. So Jack reads books and does tax work. One night Jack goes to see the Boss about the tax work and he finds Gummy there. Tiny is of course there too, and quite uncomfortable. Nobody is drinking but the Boss. He's so drunk now he's taken off his shoes. Willie is not pleased to be giving Gummy the hospital contract, and is showing his displeasure. He says everybody feels good about this deal but him. Gunny takes it because the price is right. The man is all business. After it's gone on quite a while, Gummy says he'll be going. The Boss gets up and walks toward him, somehow throwing his drink in Tiny's face. Tiny asks why, and the Boss says he should have "done it long ago." Now Willie tells Gunny that that hospital has to be perfect down to the last detail, and if it's not, he'll tear the man apart. Gunny is cool as a cucumber. Then the Boss backs off, and Gummy splits. From Tiny, Jack catches a glimpse of complete anger at the Boss. In that moment Tiny is, for once, a human in Jack's eyes. Jack makes his usual smart-alecky comment to the Boss, and says he has to split. The Boss raves about the unfairness of the whole situation – having to sacrifice the hospital contract to save his son. Finally, the Boss falls asleep. Sugar-Boy covers Willie with Willie's coat, and Jack leaves the two of them there. Jack wonders what Adam will say about the new development. With some pleasure, he wonders what Anne would have thought if she'd seen Willie drunk like that. Jack spends some time pondering Tom Stark. One the one hand, he's being pretty rough on Willie. On the other hand, Willie has lots to do with how Tom is. Unlike Tom, the Boss had to struggle to find out who he was. Tom is just pure confidence. In fact, Tom is so good he can break quite a few rules, including "training rule." But then Tom took things too far. He got into a barroom brawl the night before a big game and was temporarily suspended. When the team is loosing, the Boss goes to the locker room and gives the other boys a pep talk that so lifts their spirits that they start to win but ultimately lose. The next game Tom is playing again, because Willie forces the coach to let him. The next game, Tom gets knocked down and doesn't get up. He's carried from the field. Willie continues watching the game. Before the game is over, a man comes over and tells Willie that the doctor wants to talk to him. Willie finishes watching the game, then tells Jack he'll meet him shortly. He heads down to talk to the doctor. Jack goes to the Capitol building. Everybody has gone home. Except Sadie Burke. Jack finds her lifting her head from her desk. She's grumpy, so he starts messing with her. She says she's tired of Jack, the town, and the whole scene, so she's leaving. Jack says he doesn't believe her. He says she'll never leave the political scene because it's her talent. She orders him to leave, and he asks if she knows about Tom Stark. Sadie has some nasty words about Tom, but when Jack explains the situation, she makes to leave for the hospital. Jack goes to his office and after not too long, his phone rings. It's Sadie calling from the hospital to report that Tom is still "unconscious," and that the Boss wants Jack. When Jack gets to the hospital Willie asks Jack to go pick up Lucy and explain the situation. He does, and Lucy is shocked. They get to the hospital and Lucy asks Willie how Tom is. Willie insists that Tom will be fine. Lucy wants to know what the doctors say, and Willie repeats himself. Lucy says Tom will be OK, if "God grant it." Willie says Tom will be OK because he's "tough," and then tells Jack to take her to Tom's room. Jack and Lucy go back to Willie. Near midnight Adam Stanton comes to let them know that the specialist is delayed by fog. Willie thinks fog is no object. Adam suggests that the Boss lie down, and that Lucy get some rest too. But neither of these devoted parents is budging from the hospital. When Adam leaves Jack follows him out to get the scoop. Tom actually has a broken neck. He's lucky to be alive. There is a slim chance that he can be "almost all right" (alive and functioning). Around 1am they get word that the fog has lifted and the expert is on his way. The Boss tells Jack to get Sugar-Boy and the motorcycle escort team to the airport. After Jack makes the call he sees Sadie. She's very concerned, and asks Jack to let her know if anything changes. The phone rings at the nurse's station. It's Anne Stanton for Jack. Jack gives her the low down and she says she's sorry to bother him. At 4 am the Dr. Burnham (the expert) arrives. While waiting for his opinion, Jack anxiously reads a magazine, and Willie paces. At some point, Adam arrives. Burnham's diagnosis is the same as Adam's. (Broken neck.) They can either put Tom in "traction" or they can operate. Willie says to operate. Adam makes sure Willie understands that the X-ray can't show whether or not Tom's spine can be repaired. Finally, Adam explains that the parts being operated on are close to the brain. The operation could easily kill him. Adam tells Willie that the operation is "the gambler's chance." Willie repeats his wish that they operate. When Adam looks at Lucy for her permission, she says "yes." At some point while they are waiting, Lucy goes to the Boss and tells him he should sit. He really needs to sit, too, and he falls into the chair. Jack has sandwiches and coffee brought up, but Willie and Lucy can't really eat. After a long silence Willie tells Lucy that he's going to name the new hospital after Tom. Eventually Adam comes in and tells them that Tom is alive, but that his spinal cord is crushed. Willie protests, and Adam says he's sorry. Lucy leads Willie away. Jack learns from Adam that Tom will be like an infant now, and will probably die of pneumonia. Jack lets both Anne and Sadie know what's going on, and then goes home to sleep The next phase in the story happens Monday morning. Jack gets to the Capitol early and they are masses of sympathy telegrams. Tiny comes in and makes a big show of how sorry he is. When the Boss shows up, everyone tells him they feel bad for him. He doesn't say anything back. When he sees the telegrams he says he wants them out of his sight. The Boss sees Tiny leaving, and tells him to stick around. He wants to talk to him, and he wants Jack to be there. After a few moments of silence, Willie tells Tiny that the deal with Gummy is off. Tiny protests, but Willie tells him he's made up his mind. Jack tells Willie he thinks Gummy will create a problem, but Willie doesn't care. Now Jack goes back to doing the work for the tax bill, which is now late, due to the recent problems. When he finishes his work he tries to go talk to Willie. But he can hear Sadie in the there and so he waits in his office. The guy who's waiting for the tax bill information from Jack calls and says he needs it now, so Jack takes it to him. When he gets back Willie has already left for the hospital. Apparently Sadie Burke also left, in something of a fury. After lunch Jack gets an urgent message to go to Anne Stanton's apartment. When he gets there she is in a complete panic. Jack has to shake her to get her to calm down and tell him what has happened. What happened is that someone called Adam and told him that Willie and Anne were having an affair. They also told him that this was the only reason he was made hospital director. To put the icing on the cake, the man said that Willie blamed Adam for Tom's condition, and was going to fire him and break up with Anne. So Adam freaked out and came over to Anne's calling her names. Then, Anne went to meet Willie and he ended the affair, telling her he was going back to Lucy. Anne wants Jack to find Adam and explain that nothing happened the way he was told. Jack first goes to Adam's apartment. His car is there, but the door is open and Adam isn't in it. It's evening now, and it's raining. Jack combs the town and does some calling around but comes up dry. He goes to his hotel and eats something then reads the paper in the lobby, while he waits to see if any phone calls come for him. In the paper there is a cartoon complaining about the tax bill Jack had developed. An editorial claims that the state was too poor to be taxed. Jack remembers that every time the Boss put a tax on something, people said the state was poor. Willie always disagreed, saying that lots of the people in the state were poor, but that there was plenty of money to be had. By taxing big industries, he could help distribute the wealth more evenly. Around 9pm Jack gets a message to go see Willie. At the Capitol he sees Willie talking to some men, and Sugar-Boy waiting nearby. When Willie is through, he says he wants to tell Jack something. All of a sudden they see Adam. He has his eyes on Willie. Jack and Willie move toward him. Willie holds out his hand to Adam and it looks like Adam is going to shake it, but instead – Adam shoots. Adam then falls to the ground as Sugar-Boy crushes his chest with an "automatic." At first Jack thinks maybe Adam missed Willie. But Willie is holding his chest and blood is seeping through his fingers The Boss doesn't die right immediately. Adam had used a target pistol from childhood. While the Boss was hurt badly, it was rumored that he would live. The doctor Adam was closest to removes the bullets from Willie's chest. The third day after the operation Willie develops an infection. That night the Boss asks to see Jack. He asks Jack why Adam shot him, why Adam was mad at him. Jack says he doesn't know, and Willie says he never did anything bad to Adam. Jack agrees. Willie says Adam was a good guy. Jack agrees. Straining himself, Willie wants Jack to understand that everything "might have been different." But the nurse is worried about her patient, and Jack has to leave. Willie dies around dawn the next morning. It seems like the entire city is out for the funeral. The crowd is immense. This marks Jack's "second funeral within a week." The first was Adam's at Burden's Landing, and it was much different than Willie's.
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