Чарльз Буковски. Рассказы из разных сборников (engl)
Confession of a Coward
God, she thought lying in bed naked and re-reading Aldington's Portrait
of a Genius, But... he's an impostor! Not D.H. Lawrence, but her husband-
Henry-with his bauble of a belly and all the hair he never combed and the
way he stood around in his shorts, and the way he stood naked before the
window like an Arabian and howled; and he told her that he was turning into
a toad and that he wanted to buy a Buddha and that he wanted to be old and
drown in the sea, and that he was going to grow a beard and that he felt as
if he was turning into a woman.
And Henry was poor, poor and worthless and miserable and sick. And he
wanted to join the Mahler Society. His breath was bad, his father was insane
and his mother was dying of cancer.
And besides all this, the weather was hot, hot as hell.
"I've got a new system," he said. "All I need is four or five grand.
It's a matter of investment. We could travel from track to track in a
She felt like saying something blas+ like, "We don't have four or five
grand," but it didn't come out. Nothing came out: all the doors were closed
and all the windows were down, and it was in the middle of the desert-not
even vultures-and they were about to drop the Bomb. She should have stayed
in Texas, she should have stayed with Papa-this man is a goon, a gunnysack,
a gutless no-nothing in a world of doers. He hides behind symphonies and
poetic fancies; a weak and listless soul.
"Are you going to take me to the museum?" she asked.
"They're having an Art Exhibit."
"Well, don't you want to see Van Gogh?"
"To hell with Van Gogh! What's Van Gogh to me?"
The doors closed again and she couldn't think of an answer.
"I don't like museums," he continued. "I don't like museum-people."
The fan was going but it was a small apartment and the heat held as if
enclosed in a kettle.
"In fact," he said, peeling off his T-shirt and standing in just his
shorts, "I don't like any kind of people."
Amazingly, he had hair on his chest.
"In fact," he continued, pulling his shorts down and over the end of
one foot, "I'm going to write a book some day and call it Confession of a
The doorbell rang like a rape, or the tearing of ripe flesh.
"Jesus Christ!" he said like something trapped.
She jumped off the bed, looking very white and unpeeled. Like a candy
banana. Aldington and D.H. Lawrence and Taos fell to the floor.
She ran to the closet and began stuffing herself inside the flying
cloth of female necessaries.
"Never mind the clothes," he said.
"Aren't you going to answer?"
"No! Why should I?"
It rang again. The sound of the bell entered the room and searched them
out, scaled and scalded their skins, pummeled them with crawling eyes.
Then it was silent.
And the feet turned with their sound, turning and guiding some monster,
taking it back down the stairwell, one two three, 1, 2, 3; and then gone.
"I wonder," he said, still not moving, "what that was?"
"I don't know," she said, bending double at the waist and pulling her
petticoat back over her head.
"Here!" she yelled. "Here!" holding her arms out like feelers.
He finished yanking the petticoat off over her head with some distaste.
"Why do you women wear this crap?" he asked in a loud voice.
She didn't feel an answer was necessary and went over and pulled
Lawrence out from under the bed. Then she got into bed with Lorenzo and her
husband sat on the couch.
"They built a little shrine for him," he said.
"Who?" she asked irritably.
"They have a picture of it in that book."
"Yes, I've seen it."
"Have you ever seen a dog-graveyard?"
"Well, what about it?"
"They always have flowers. Every dog always has flowers, fresh, all in
neat little clusters on each grave. It's enough to make you cry."
She found her place in the book again, like a person searching for
solitude in the middle of a lake: So the bitter months dragged by miserably,
accompanied by Lorenzo's tragic feeling of loss, his-
"I wish I had studied ballet," he said. "I go about all slumped over
but that's because my spirit is wilted. I'm really lithe, ready to tumble on
spring mattresses of some sort. I should have been a frog, at least. You'll
see. Someday I'm going to turn into a frog."
Her lake rippled with the irritating breeze: "Well, for heaven's sake,
study ballet! Go at night! Get rid of your belly! Leap around! Be a frog!"
"You mean after WORK?" he asked woefully.
"God," she said, "you want everything for nothing." She got up and went
to the bathroom and closed the door.
She doesn't understand, he thought, sitting on the couch naked, she
doesn't understand that I'm joking. She's so god-damned serious. Everything
I say is supposed to carry truth or tragic import, or insight or something.
I've been through all that!
He noticed a pencil-scrawled piece of paper, in her handwriting, on the
side table. He picked it up:
My husband is a poet published alongside Sartre and Lorca;
he writes about insanity and Nietzsche and Lawrence,
but what has he written about me?
she reads the funnies
and empties garbage
and makes little hats
and goes to Mass at 8 AM
I too am a poet and an artist, some discerning critics
say, but my husband wrote about me:
she reads the funnies...
He heard the toilet flush, and a moment later, out she came.
"I'd like to be a clown in a circus," he greeted her.
She got back on the bed with her book.
"Wouldn't you like to be a tragicomic clown stumbling about with a
painted face?" he asked her.
She didn't answer. He picked up the Racing Form:
POWER 114 B.g.4, by Cosmic Bomb-
Pomayya, by Pompey
Breeder, Brookmeade Stable.
1956 12 2 4 1 $12,950
July 18-Jam I I/16 1:45 1/5ft. 3 122 2
1/2 3 2h GuerinE'Alw 86
"I'm going to Caliente next Sunday," he said.
"Good. I'll have Charlotte over. Allen can bring her in the car."
"Do you believe she really got propositioned by the preacher in that
movie like she claimed?"
She turned the page of her book.
"God damn you, answer me!" he screamed, angry at last.
"Do you think she's a whore and making it all up? Do you think we're
all whores? What are we trying to do, reading all these books? Writing all
the poems they -send back, and working in some dungeon for nothing because
we're not really interested in money?"
She put the book down and looked back over her shoulder at him. "Well,"
she said in a low voice, "do you want to give it all up?"
"Give WHAT all up? We don't have anything! Or, do you mean Beethoven's
Fifth or Handel's Water Music? Or do you mean the SOUL?"
"Let's not argue. Please. I don't want to argue.
"Well, I want to know what we are trying to do!"
The doorbell rang like all the bells of doom sweeping across the room.
"Shhh," he said, "shhh! Be quiet!"
The doorbell rang again, seeming to say, I know you are in there, I
know you are in there.
"They know we're in here." she whispered.
"I feel that this is it, " he said.
"Never mind. Just be quiet. Maybe it will go away."
"Isn't it wonderful to have all these friends?" she took up the joke-
"No. We have no friends. I tell you, this is something else!"
It rang again, very short, flat and spiritless. "I once tried to make
the Olympic swimming team," he said, getting completely off the point.
"You make more ridiculous statements by the minute, Henry."
"Will you get off my back? Just for that!," he said, raising his voice,
"WHO IS IT?"
There was no answer.
Henry rose wide-eyed, as if in a trance, and flung the door open,
forgetting his nakedness. He stood there transfixed in thought for some
time, but it was obvious to her that nobody was therein his state of undress
there would have been quite a commotion or, at the very least, some
Then he closed the door. He had a strange look on his face, a round-
eyed almost dull look and he swallowed once as he faced her. His pride,
"I've decided," he announced, "that I'm not going to turn into a woman
"Well, that will help matters between us considerably, Henry."
"And I'll even take you to see Van Gogh. No wait, I'll let you take
"Either way, dear. It doesn't matter."
"No," he said, "you'll have to take me!"
He marched into the bathroom and closed the door.
"Don't you wonder," she said through the door, "who that was?"
"Who what was?"
"Who that was at the door? Twice?"
"Hell," he said, "I know who it was."
"Who was it, then?"
"I said, 'Ha!' I'm not telling!"
"Henry, you simply don't know who it was, anymore than I do. You're
simply being silly again."
"If you promise to take me to see Van Gogh, I'll tell you who was at
"All right," she humored him along, "I promise."
"O.K., it was me at the door!"
"You at the door?"
"Yes," he laughed a silly little laugh, "me looking for me! Both
"Still playing the clown aren't you, Henry?"
She heard the water running in the basin and knew he was going to
"Are you going to shave, Henry?"
"I've decided against the beard," he answered.
He was boring her again and she simply opened her book at a random page
and began reading:
You don't want any more of me?
I want us to break off-you be free of me, I free of you.
And what about these last months?
I don't know. I've not told you anything but what I thought was true.
Then why are you different now?
I'm not-I'm the same-only I know it's no good going on.
She closed the book and thought about Henry. Men were children. You had
to humor them. They could take no hurt. It was a thing every woman knew.
Henry tried-he was just so-all this playing the clown. All the poor jokes.
She rose from the bed as if in a dream, walked across the floor, opened
the door and stared. Against the basin stood a partly soaped shaving brush
and his still wet shaving mug. But the water in the basin was cold and at
the bottom, against the plug, green and beyond her reach at last and the
size of a crumpled glove, stared back the fat, living frog.
Black Sparrow "New Year's Greeting" 1995
Charles Bukowski. Short stories collection
Cass was the youngest and most beautiful of 5 sisters. Cass was the
most beautiful girl in town. 1/2 Indian with a supple and strange body, a
snake-like and fiery body with eyes to go with it. Cass was fluid moving
fire. She was like a spirit stuck into a form that would not hold her. Her
hair was black and long and silken and whirled about as did her body. Her
spirit was either very high or very low. There was no in between for Cass.
Some said she was crazy. The dull ones said that. The dull ones would never
understand Cass. To the men she was simply a sex machine and they didn't
care whether she was crazy or not. And Cass danced and flirted, kissed the
men, but except for an instance or two, when it came time to make it with
Cass, Cass had somehow slipped away, eluded the men.
Her sisters accused her of misusing her beauty, of not using her mind
enough, but Cass had mind and spirit; she painted, she danced, she sang, she
made things of clay, and when people were hurt either in the spirit or the
flesh, Cass felt a deep grieving for them. Her mind was simply different;
her mind was simply not practical. Her sisters were jealous of her because
she attracted their men, and they were angry because they felt she didn't
make the best use of them. She had a habit of being kind to the uglier ones;
the so-called handsome men revolted her- "No guts," she said, "no zap. They
are riding on their perfect little earlobes and well- shaped nostrils...all
surface and no insides..." She had a temper that came close to insanity, she
had a temper that some call insanity. Her father had died of alchohol and
her mother had run off leaving the girls alone. The girls went to a relative
who placed them in a convent. The convent had been an unhappy place, more
for Cass than the sisters. The girls were jealous of Cass and Cass fought
most of them. She had razor marks all along her left arm from defending
herself in two fights. There was also a permanent scar along the left cheek
but the scar rather than lessening her beauty only seemed to highlight it. I
met her at the West End Bar several nights after her release from the
convent. Being youngest, she was the last of the sisters to be released. She
simply came in and sat next to me. I was probably the ugliest man in town
and this might have had something to do with it.
"Drink?" I asked.
"Sure, why not?"
I don't suppose there was anything unusual in our conversation that
night, it was simply in the feeling Cass gave. She had chosen me and it was
as simple as that. No pressure. She liked her drinks and had a great number
of them. She didn't seem quite of age but they served he anyhow. Perhaps she
had forged i.d., I don't know. Anyhow, each time she came back from the
restroom and sat down next to me, I did feel some pride. She was not only
the most beautiful woman in town but also one of the most beautiful I had
ever seen. I placed my arm about her waist and kissed her once.
"Do you think I'm pretty?" she asked.
"Yes, of course, but there's something else... there's more than your
"People are always accusing me of being pretty. Do you really think I'm
"Pretty isn't the word, it hardly does you fair."
Cass reached into her handbag. I thought she was reaching for her
handkerchief. She came out with a long hatpin. Before I could stop her she
had run this long hatpin through her nose, sideways, just above the
nostrils. I felt disgust and horror. She looked at me and laughed, "Now do
you think me pretty? What do you think now, man?" I pulled the hatpin out
and held my handkerchief over the bleeding. Several people, including the
bartender, had seen the act. The bartender came down:
"Look," he said to Cass, "you act up again and you're out. We don't
need your dramatics here."
"Oh, fuck you, man!" she said.
"Better keep her straight," the bartender said to me.
"She'll be all right," I said.
"It's my nose, I can do what I want with my nose."
"No," I said, "it hurts me."
"You mean it hurts you when I stick a pin in my nose?"
"Yes, it does, I mean it."
"All right, I won't do it again. Cheer up."
She kissed me, rather grinning through the kiss and holding the
handkerchief to her nose. We left for my place at closing time. I had some
beer and we sat there talking. It was then that I got the perception of her
as a person full of kindness and caring. She gave herself away without
knowing it. At the same time she would leap back into areas of wildness and
incoherence. Schitzi. A beautiful and spiritual schitzi. Perhaps some man,
something, would ruin her forever. I hoped that it wouldn't be me. We went
to bed and after I turned out the lights Cass asked me,
"When do you want it? Now or in the morning?"
"In the morning," I said and turned my back.
In the morning I got up and made a couple of coffees, brought her one
in bed. She laughed.
"You're the first man who has turned it down at night."
"It's o.k.," I said, "we needn't do it at all."
"No, wait, I want to now. Let me freshen up a bit."
Cass went into the bathroom. She came out shortly, looking quite
wonderful, her long black hair glistening, her eyes and lips glistening, her
glistening... She displayed her body calmly, as a good thing. She got under
"Come on, lover man."
I got in. She kissed with abandon but without haste. I let my hands run
over her body, through her hair. I mounted. It was hot, and tight. I began
to stroke slowly, wanting to make it last. Her eyes looked directly into
"What's your name?" I asked.
"What the hell difference does it make?" she asked.
I laughed and went on ahead. Afterwards she dressed and I drove her
back to the bar but she was difficult to forget. I wasn't working and I
slept until 2 p.m. then got up and read the paper. I was in the bathtub when
she came in with a large leaf- an elephant ear.
"I knew you'd be in the bathtub," she said, "so I brought you something
to cover that thing with, nature boy."
She threw the elepahant leaf down on me in the bathtub.
"How did you know I'd be in the tub?"
Almost every day Cass arrived when I was in the tub. The times were
different but she seldom missed, and there was the elephant leaf. And then
we'd make love. One or two nights she phoned and I had to bail her out of
jail for drunkenness and fighting.
"These sons of bitches," she said, "just because they buy you a few
drinks they think they can get into your pants."
"Once you accept a drink you create your own trouble."
"I thought they were interested in me, not just my body."
"I'm interested in you and your body. I doubt, though, that most men
can see beyond your body."
I left town for 6 months, bummed around, came back. I had never
forgotten Cass, but we'd had some type of arguement and I felt like moving
anyhow, and when I got back i figured she'd be gone, but I had been sitting
in the West End Bar about 30 minutes when she walked in and sat down next to
"Well, bastard, I see you've come back."
I ordered her a drink. Then I looked at her. She had on a high- necked
dress. I had never seen her in one of those. And under each eye, driven in,
were 2 pins with glass heads. All you could see were the heads of the pins,
but the oins were driven down into her face.
"God damn you, still trying to destroy your beauty, eh?"
"No, it's the fad, you fool."
"I've missed you," she said.
"Is there anybody else?"
"No there isn't anybody else. Just you. But I'm hustling. It costs ten
bucks. But you get it free."
"Pull those pins out."
"No, it's the fad."
"It's making me very unhappy."
"Are you sure?"
"Hell yes, I'm sure."
Cass slowly pulled the pins out and put them back in her purse.
"Why do you haggle your beauty?" I asked. "Why don't you just live with
"Because people think it's all I have. Beauty is nothing, beauty won't
stay. You don't know how lucky you are to be ugly, because if people like
you you know it's for something else."
"O.k.," I said, "I'm lucky."
"I don't mean you're ugly. People just think you're ugly. You have a
We had another drink.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Nothing. I can't get on to anything. No interest."
"Me neither. If you were a woman you could hustle."
"I don't think I could ever make contact with that many strangers, it's
"You're right, it's wearing, everything is wearing."
We left together. People still stared at Cass on the streets. She was a
beautiful woman, perhaps more beautiful than ever. We made it to my place
and I opened a bottle of wine and we talked. With Cass and I, it always came
easy. She talked a while and I would listen and then i would talk. Our
conversation simply went along without strain. We seemed to discover secrets
together. When we discovered a good one Cass would laugh that laugh- only
the way she could. It was like joy out of fire. Through the talking we
kissed and moved closer together. We became quite heated and decided to go
to bed. It was then that Cass took off her high -necked dress and I saw it-
the ugly jagged scar across her throat. It was large and thick.
"God damn you, woman," I said from the bed, "god damn you, what have
"I tried it with a broken bottle one night. Don't you like me any more?
Am I still beautiful?"
I pulled her down on the bed and kissed her. She pushed away and
laughed, "Some men pay me ten and I undress and they don't want to do it. I
keep the ten. It's very funny."
"Yes," I said, "I can't stop laughing... Cass, bitch, I love you...stop
destroying yourself; you're the most alive woman I've ever met."
We kissed again. Cass was crying without sound. I could feel the tears.
The long black hair lay beside me like a flag of death. We enjoined and made
slow and sombre and wonderful love. In the morning Cass was up making
breakfast. She seemed quite calm and happy. She was singing. I stayed in bed
and enjoyed her happiness. Finally she came over and shook me,
"Up, bastard! Throw some cold water on your face and pecker and come
enjoy the feast!"
I drove her to the beach that day. It was a weekday and not yet summer
so things were splendidly deserted. Beach bums in rags slept on the lawns
above the sand. Others sat on stone benches sharing a lone bottle. The gulls
whirled about, mindless yet distracted. Old ladies in their 70's and 80's
sat on the benches and discussed selling real estate left behind by husbands
long ago killed by the pace and stupidity of survival. For it all, there was
peace in the air and we walked about and stratched on the lawns and didn't
say much. It simply felt good being together. I bought a couple of
sandwiches, some chips and drinks and we sat on the sand eating. Then I held
Cass and we slept together about an hour. It was somehow better than
lovemaking. There was flowing together without tension. When we awakened we
drove back to my place and I cooked a dinner. After dinner I suggested to
Cass that we shack together. She waited a long time, looking at me, then she
slowly said, "No." I drove her back to the bar, bought her a drink and
walked out. I found a job as a parker in a factory the next day and the rest
of the week went to working. I was too tired to get about much but that
Friday night I did get to the West End Bar. I sat and waited for Cass. Hours
went by . After I was fairly drunk the bartender said to me, "I'm sorry
about your girlfriend."
"What is it?" I asked.
"I'm sorry, didn't you know?"
"Suicide. She was buried yesterday."
"Buried?" I asked. It seemed as though she would walk through the
doorway at any moment. How could she be gone?
"Her sisters buried her."
"A suicide? Mind telling me how?"
"She cut her throat."
"I see. Give me another drink."
I drank until closing time. Cass was the most beautiful of 5 sisters,
the most beautiful in town. I managed to drive to my place and I kept
thinking, I should have insisted she stay with me instead of accepting that
"no."Everything about her had indicated that she had cared. I simply had
been too offhand about it, lazy, too unconcerned. I deserved my death and
hers. I was a dog. No, why blame the dogs? I got up and found a bottle of
wine and drank from it heavily. Cass the most beautiful girl in town was
dead at 20. Outside somebody honked their automobile horn. They were very
loud and persistent. I sat the bottle down and screamed out: "GOD DAMN
YOU,YOU SON OF A BITCH ,SHUT UP!" The night kept coming and there was
nothing I could do.
**A Lovely Love Affair**
I went broke --- again --- but this time in the French Quarter, New
Orleans, and Joe Blanchard, editor of the underground paper OVERTHROW took
me down to this place around the corner, one of those dirty white buildings
with green storm windows, steps that ran almost straight up. It was Sunday
and I was expecting a royalty, no, and advance from a dirty book I had
written for the Germans, but the Germans kept writing me this bullshit about
the owner, the father, being a drunk, they were deep in the red because the
old man had withdrawn their funds from the bank, no, overdrawn them for his
drinking and fucking bouts and therefore, they were broke but they were
kicking the old man out and as soon as-
Blanchard rang the bell.
This old fat girl came to the door, and she weighed about between 250
and 300 pounds. She kind of wore this vast sheet as a dress and her eyes
were very small. I guess that was the only small thing about her. She was
Marie Glaviano, owner of a caf+ in the French Quarter, a very small caf+.
That was another thing that was not very big about her --- her caf+. But it
was a nice caf+, red and white tablecloths, expensive menus and no people
about. One of those old-time black mammy dolls standing near the entrance.
The old black mammy doll signified good times, old times, good old times,
but the good old times were gone. The tourists were walkers now. They just
liked to walk around and look at things. They didn't go into the cafes. They
didn't even get drunk. Nothing paid anymore. The good times were over.
Nobody gave a shit and nobody had any money and if they had any, they kept
it. It was a new age and not a very interesting one. Everybody kind of
watched the revolutionaries and the pigs rip at each other. That was good
entertainment and it was free and they kept their money in their pockets, if
they had any money.
Blanchard said, "Hello, Marie. Marie, this is Charley Serkin. Charley,
this is Marie."
"Hi," I said.
"Hello," said Marie Glaviano.
"Let us come in a minute, Marie," said Blanchard.
(There are only two things wrong with money: too much or too little.
And there I was down at the "too little" stage again.)
We climbed the steep steps and followed her down one fo those long long
sideways-built places ---I mean all length and no width, and then we were in
the kitchen, sitting at a table. There was a bowl of flowers. Marie broke
open 3 bottles of beer. Sat down.
"Well, Marie," said Blanchard, "Charley's a genius. He's up against the
knife. I'm sure he'll pull out, but meanwhile- meanwhile, he's got no place
Marie looked at me. "Are you a genius?"
I took a long drag at the beer. "Well, frankly, it's hard to tell. More
often, I feel like some type of subnormal. Rather like all these great big
white blocks of air in my head."
"He can stay," said Marie.
It was Monday, Marie's only day off and Blanchard got up and left us
there in the kitchen. Then the front door slammed and he was out of there.
"What do you do?" asked Marie.
"Live on my luck," I said.
"You remind me of Marty," she said.
"Marty?" I asked, thinking, my god, here it comes. And it came.
"Well, you're ugly, you know. Well, I don't mean ugly, I mean beat-up,
you know. And you're really beat-up, you're even more beat-up than Marty
was. And he was a fighter. Were you a fighter?"
"That's one of my problems: I could never fight worth a damn."
"Anyhow, you got that same look as Marty. You been beat but you're
kind. I know your type. I know a man when I see a man. I like your face. You
got a good face."
Not being able to say anything about her face, I asked, "You got any
"Why sure, honey," she reached down into that great sheet of a dress
and pulled a full pack out from between her tits. She could have carried a
week's worth of groceries in there. It was kind of funny. She opened me
I took a good drain, then told her, "I could probably fuck you until I
made you cry."
"Now look here, Charley," she said, "I won't have you talking that way.
I'm a nice girl. My mother brought me up right. You keep talking that way
and you can't stay."
"Sorry, Marie, I was just kidding."
"Well, I don't like that kind of kidding."
"Sure, I understand. You got any whiskey?"
"Scotch is fine."
She brought out an almost full fifth. 2 waterglasses. We had ourselves
some scotch and water. That woman had been around. That was obvious. She's
probably been around ten years longer than I. Well, age wasn't any crime. It
was only that most people aged badly.
"You're just like Marty," she said again.
"And you're not like anybody I've ever seen," I said.
"Do you like me?" she asked.
"I've got to," I said, and she didn't give me any snot over that one.
We drank another hour or two,. Mostly beer but with a bit of scotch here and
there, and then she took me down to my bed. And on the way down we passed a
place and she was sure to say, "That's my bed." It was quite wide. My bed
was next to another one. Very strange. But it didn't mean anything. "You can
sleep in either bed," said Marie, "or both of them."
There was something about that that felt like a putdown-
Well, sure, I had a head in the morning and I heard her rattling in the
kitchen but I ignored it as any wise man would, and I heard her turn on the
tv for the morning news, she had the tv on the breakfast nook table, and I
heard the coffee perking, it smelled rather good but the smell of bacon and
eggs and potatoes I didn't like, and the sound of the morning news I didn't
like, and I felt like pissing and I was thirsty, but I didn't want Marie to
know that I was awake, so I waited, mildly pissed (haha, yes), but wanting
to be alone, wanting to own the place alone and she kept fucking around
fucking around and finally I heard her running past my bed-
"Gotta go, " she said, "I'm late."
"Bye, Marie," I said.
When the door slammed I got up and walked to the crapper and I sat
there and I pissed and I crapped and I sat there in New Orleans, far from
home, wherever my home was, and then I saw a spider sitting in a web in the
corner, looking at me. Now that spider had been there a long time, I knew
that. Much longer than I had. First, I thought of killing him. But he was so
fat and happy and ugly, he owned the joint. I'd have to wait some time,
until it was proper. I got up and wiped my ass and flushed. As I left the
crapper, the spider winked at me.
I didn't want to play with what was left of the 5th, so I sat in the
kitchen, naked, wondering, how can people trust me so? Who was I? People
were crazy, people were simple. That gave me and edge. Hell ys, it did. I'd
lived for ten years without a trade. People gave me money, food, places to
stay. Whether they thought I was an idiot or a genius, that didn't matter. I
knew what I was. I was neither. What made people give me gifts didn't
concern me. I took the gifts and I took them without a feeling of victory
or/and coercion. My only premise was that I couldn't ask for anything. On
top of it all, I rather had this little phonograph record spinning around on
top of my brain and it kept playing the same tune: don't try don't try. It
seemed like and all right idea.
Anyhow, after Marie left I sat in the kitchen and drank 3 cans of beer
I found in the refrigerator. I never cared much for food. I'd heard of
people's love for food. But food only bored me. Liquid was o.k. but bulk was
a dragdown. I liked shit, I liked to shit, I liked turds but it was such
terrible work creating them.
After the 3 cans of beer I noticed this purse on the seat next to me.
Of course, Marie had taken another purse to work. Would she be foolish
enough or kind enough to leave money? I opened the purse. There at the
bottom was a ten dollar bill.
Well, Marie was testing me and I'd prove worthy of her test.
I took the ten, walked back to my bedroom and dressed. I felt good.
After all, what did a man need to survive? Nothing. It was true. And I even
had the key to the place.
So I stepped outside and locked the door to keep out the thieves,
hahaha, and there I was out on the streets, the French Quarter, and what a
stupid place that was, but I had to make it do. Everything had to serve me,
that's the way it went. So-oh yes, I was walking down the street, and the
trouble with the French Quarter was that there just weren't any liquor
stores around like in other decent parts of the world. Maybe it was
deliberate. One had to guess that it helped those horrible shit holes on
every corner that were called bars. The first thing I ever thought of when
walking into one of those "quaint" French Quarter bars was vomiting. And I
usually did, running back to some urine-stinking pisspot and letting go --
tons and tons of fried eggs and half-cooked greasy potatoes. And walking
back in, after heaving, and looking upon them: the only thing more lonely
and inane than the patrons was the bartender, especially if he also owned
the place. O.k., so I walked around, knowing that the bars were the lie, and
you know where I found my 3 six packs? A little grocery with stale bread and
all about it, even peeling into the paint, this half-sex smile of loneliness-
help me, help me, help me-terrible, yes, and they can't even light the place
up, electricity costs money, and here I was, the first guy to buy three six
packs in 18 years, and my god, she almost came across the top of the cash
register-It was too much. I grabbed my change and 18 tall cans of beer and
ran out into the stupid French Quarter sunlight-
I placed the remainder of the change back in the purse in the
breakfastnook and then left the purse open so Marie could see it. Then I sat
down and opened a beer.
It was good being alone. Yet, I wasn't alone. Each time I had to piss
I'd see that spider and I thought, well, spider, you've got to go, soon. I
just don't like your looks in that dark corner, catching bugs and slies and
sucking the blood out of them. You see, you're bad, Mr. Spider. And I'm o.k.
At least, that's the way I like to see it. You're nothing but a frigging
dark brainless wart of death, that's what you are. Suck shit. You've had it.
I found a broom in the backporch and came back in there and I crashed
him out of his web and brought him his own death. All right, that was all
right, he was out there ahead of me, somewhere, I couldn't help that. But
how could Marie put her big ass down on the rims of that lid and shit and
look at that thing? Did she even see it? Perhaps not.
I went back in the kitchen and had some more beer. Then I turned on the
tv. Paper people. Glass people. I felt as if I were going insane and turned
the thing off. I drank some more beer. Then I boiled 2 eggs and fried two
strips of bacon. I managed to eat. You forgot about food sometimes. The sun
came through the curtains. I drank all day. I threw the empties in the
trash. Time went. Then the door opened. It flew open. It was Marie.
"Jesus Christ!" she screamed, "you know what happened?"
"No, no, I don't."
"Oh, god damn it!"
"Whatssa matta, honey?"
"I burned the strawberries!"
She ran around the kitchen in little circles, that big ass bobbing. She
was crazy. She was out of it. Poor old fat cunt.
"I had this pot of strawberries going in the kitchen and one of these
tourists came in, rich bitch, first customer of the day, and she likes the
little hats I make, you know-Well, she's kinda cute and all the hats look
good on her and so she's got a problem, and then we get to talking about
Detroit, she knew somebody in Detroit that I knew, you know, and we're
talking and then all of a sudden I SMELL IT!!! THE STRAWBERRIES ARE BURNING!
I ran into the kitchen, but it's too late-.what a mess! The strawberries
have boiled over and they are everywhere and it stinks, it's burned, it's
sad, and nothing can be saved, nothing! What hell!"
"I'm sorry. But did you sell her a hat?"
"I sold her two hats. She couldn't make up her mind."
"I'm sorry about the strawberries. And I killed the spider."
"I didn't think you'd know."
"Know what? What's this spiders? They're just bugs."
"They tell me a spider isn't a bug. Something to do with the number of
legs- I really don't know or care."
"A spider ain't a bug? What kinda shit is that?"
"Not an insect. So they say. Anyhow, I killed the damn thing."
"Sure. You left it there. I had to have beer."
"You have to have beer all the time?"
"You're going to be a problem. You had anything to eat?"
"2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon."
"Yes. But you're tired. Relax. Have a drink."
"Cooking relaxes me. But first I gotta have a hot bath."
"O.k.," she reached over and turned on the tv and then went to the
bathroom. I had to listen to tv. A news broadcast. Perfectly ugly bastard. 3
nostrils. Perfectly hateful bastard dressed like a little inane doll,
sweating, and looking at me, saying words I hardly understood or cared
about. I knew that Marie would be looking at tv for hours, so I had to
adjust to it. When Marie came back I was looking directly into the glass,
which made her feel better. I looked as harmless as a man with a
checkerboard and the sports page.
Marie had come out, dolled in another outfit. She might have even
looked cute, but she was so god damned fat. Well, anyhow, I wasn't sleeping
on a park bench.
"You want me to cook, Marie?"
"No, it's all right. I'm not so tired now."
She began preparing the food. When I got up for the next beer, I kissed
her behind the ear.
"You're a good sport, Marie."
"You got enough drink for the rest of the night?" she asked.
"Sure, kid. And there's still that 5thy. Everything's fine. I just want
to sit here and look at the set and listen to you talk. O.k?"
I sat down. She had something going. It smelled good. She was evidently
a fine cook. The whole walls crawled with this warm smell of cooking. No
wonder she was so fat: good cook, good eater. Marie was making a pot of
stew. Every now and then she'd get up and add something to the pot. An
onion. A piece of cabbage. A few carrots. She knew. And I drank and looked
at that big sloppy old gal and she sat there making these most magic hats,
her hands working into a basket, picking up first the color, then that, this
length of ribbon, then that, and then twisting it so, sewing it so, placing
it against the hat, and that 2 bit straw was just more magic. Marie created
masterpieces that would never be discovered --- walking down the street on
top of bitches' heads.
As she worked and tended stew, she talked.
"It's not like it used to be. People don't have any money. Everything's
Traveler's checks and checkbooks and credit cards. People just don't have
money. They don't carry it. Credit's everything. A guy gets a paycheck and
it's already taken. They mortgage their whole lives away to buy one house.
And then they've got to fill that house with shit and have a car. They're
hooked on house and the legislators know this and tax them to death with
property taxes. Nobody has any money. Small businesses just can't last."
We sat down to the stew and it was perfect. After dinner we brought out
the whiskey and she brought me two cigars and we looked at tv and didn't
talk much. I felt as if I had been there for years. She kept working on the
hats, talking now and then, and I'd say, yeh, that's right, or, is that so?
And the hats kept flying off of her hands, masterpieces.
"Marie," I told her, "I'm tired. Got to go to bed."
She told me to take the whiskey with me, so I did. But instead of going
down to my bed, I threw back the cover of Marie's bed and crawled in. After
undressing, of course. It was a fine mattress. It was a fine bed. It was one
of those old-fashioned highpost jobs with a wooden roof, or whatever they
call them. I guess if you fucked until the roof came down, you made it. I'd
never bring that roof down without help from the gods.
Marie kept looking at tv and making hats. Then I heard her turn off the
set, switch out the kitchen light and she came into the bedroom, right past
the bedroom and she didn't see me, she went right n down to the crapper. She
was in there a while and then I watched her switch out of her clothes and
into this big pink nightie. She fucked with her face a bit, gave up, put on
a couple of curlers, then turned around and walked toward the bed and saw
"My god, Charley, you're in the wrong bed."
"Listen, honey, I'm not that kind of woman."
"O, cut the horseshit and climb in."
She did. My god, she was nothing but meat. Actually, I was a bit
frightened. What did you do with all that stuff? Well, I was trapped.
Marie's whole side of the bed sank down.
I grabbed her head, turned it, and she seemed to be crying, and then my
lips were on hers. We kissed. Damn it, my cock was getting hard. Good god.
What was it?
"Charley," she said, "you don't have to."
I took one of her hands and placed it around my cock.
"O shit," she said, "o shit!"
Then she kissed me, tongued me. She had a small tongue ---at least that
was small ---and it ripped in and out, rather full of saliva and passion. I
"Wait uh minute."
I reached over and got the fifth and took a good long pull, then I sat
it down again and I reached on under and lifted that huge pink nightie. I
got to feeling and I didn't know what I had but it seemed to be it, very
small though, but in the right place. Yes, it was her cunt. I poked at it
with my pecker. Then she reached down and guided me in. Another miracle.
That thing was tight. It almost ripped the skin off of me. We started
working. I was looking for the long ride but I didn't care. She had me. It
was one of the best fucks of my life. I moaned and hollered, then finished,
rolled off. Unbelievable. When she came back from the bathroom we talked a
while, then she went to sleep. But she snored. SO I had to go down to my own
bed. And I awakened the next morning as she went to work.
"Gotta hurry, Charley," she said.
As soon as she left I went to the kitchen and drank a glass of water.
She'd left her purse there. Ten dollars. I didn't take it. I walked back to
the bathroom and took a good crap, without the spider. Then I took a bath. I
tried to brush my teeth, vomited a bit. I dressed and walked into the
kitchen. I'd gotten hold of a piece of paper and pen:
I love you. You are very good to me. But I must leave. And I don't know
exactly why. I'm crazy, I guess. Goodbye.
I propped the note up against the television set. I didn't feel good. I
felt like crying. It was quiet in there, it was quiet in there the way I
liked it. Even the stove and the refrigerator looked human, I mean good
human --- they seemed to have arms and voices and they said, hang around,
kid, it's good here, it can be very good here. I found what was left of the
5th in the bedroom. I drank that. Then I found a can of beer in the
refrigerator. I drank that. Then I got up and made the long walk down that
narrow place, it seemed like A hundred yards. I got to the door and then I
remembered I had the key. I walked back and put the key with the note. Then
I looked at the ten in the purse again. I left it there. I made the walk
again. When I got to the door, I knew that when I closed it there would be
no going back. I closed it. It was final. Down those steps. I was alone
again and nobody gave a damn. I walked south, then took a right. I walked
along, I walked along and got out of the French Quarter. I crossed Canal
Street. I walked along for some blocks and then I turned this way and then I
crossed another street and turned that way. I didn't know where I was going.
I passed a place to my left and a man was standing in the doorway and he
"Hey, man, you want a job?"
And I looked into the doorway and here were these rows of men lined up
at wooden tables and they had hammers and they were hitting at things in
shells, they looked like clam shells and they broke the shells and did
something with the meat, and it was dark in there; it seemed as if the men
were beating at themselves with hammers and tossing away what was left of
them, and I told the man,
"No, I don't want a job."
I was facing the sun as I walked.
I had 74 cents.
The sun was all right.
**My Big-Assed Mother**
they were tow good girls, Tito and Baby. they both looked near 60 but
they were close to 40. all that wine and worry. I was 29 and looked closer
to 50. all that wine and worry. I had gotten the apartment first and then
they had moved in. it worried the apartment house manager who kept sending
the cops up when we made the least bit of noise. it was jumpy. I was afraid
to piss in the center of the bowl.
the best time was the MIRROR, watching myself, bloated belly, with Baby
and Tito, drunk and sick for nights and days, all of us, the cheap radio
playing, tubes all worn-out sitting there on that worn-down rug, ah my, the
MIRROR, and I'd be watching, and I'd say:
"Tito, it's in your ass. feel it?"
"oh yes, oh my yes - SHOVE! hey! where ya GOING?"
"now, Baby, you got it in front here, umm? feel it? big purple head,
like a snake singing arias! feel me love?"
"oooh, dahling, I think I'm gonna c-..HEY! where ya GOING?"
"Tito, I am back in your rumble seat. I am parting you in two. you
don't have a chance!"
"oooh god ooooh, HEY where ya GOING? get back in there!"
"I dunno who I want to catch it. what can I do? I want you both, I
can't HAVE you both! And while trying to make up my mind I am in a terror of
demise and agony trying to hold it! doesn't anybody understand my
"no, just give it to me!"
"no, me, me!"
THEN THE BIG FIST OF THE LAW.
"bang! BanG! BANG!
"hey, what's going on in there?"
"nothing? what's all that moaning and hollering and screaming? it's
3:30 a.m. you've got four floors of people wide awake and wonderin-"
"please go away. my mother has a bad heart. you are terrorizing her.
and she's down to her last pawn."
"and YOU are too, buddy! In case you don't know, this happens to be the
Los Angeles Police Department-"
"christ, I'd have never guessed-"
"now you've guessed. o.k. open up or we'll kick it down!"
Tito and Baby ran into the far corner of the dining room, crouched and
shivering, holding, hugging their aging wrinkled and wino and insane bodies.
they were stupidly lovely.
"open up here, buddy, we been up here four times in the past week and a
half on the same call. you think we like to go around just throwing people
in jail just because it makes us feel good?"
"Captain Bradley says he doesn't care whether you are black or white."
"you tell Captain Bradley that I feel the same way."
I kept quiet. the two whores shivering and clutching their wrinkled
bodies by the corner lampshade. the bland and smothering silence of willow
leaves in a chickenshit and unkind winter.
they had gotten the key from the manager and the door was open 4 inches
but it was being held by the chain which I had on there. one of the cops
talked to me while the other pushed with a screwdriver, trying to work the
chain out of the slot-holder. I'd let the cop get it almost out, then I'd
push the end of the chain all the way back in. while standing there naked
with this hard-on.
"you are violating my rights. you need a search warrant to enter here.
you can't force entry just on your own behest. What the hell's wrong with
"which one of those is supposed to be our mother."
"the one with the biggest ass."
the other cop almost had the chain off again. I pushed it back with my
"come on, let us in, we'll just talk."
"what about? the wonders of Disneyland?"
"no, no, you sound like an interesting man. we just want to come in and
"you must think I'm subnormal. if I ever get queer enough for bracelets
I'll buy them at Thrifty's. I'm not guilty of a damn thing but a hard-on and
a loud radio and you haven't asked me to shut either of them off."
"just let us in. all we want to do is talk."
"listen, you are attempting to break and enter without a permit. now,
I've got the best lawyer in town-"
"a lawyer? whatta you got a lawyer for?"
"I've used him for years - draft dodging, indecent exposure, rape,
drunk driving, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, arson ---all bad
"he won all those cases?"
"he's the best. now look, I'm giving you three minutes. either you stop
trying to force the door and leave me in peace of I'm getting him on the
phone. he won't like to be awakened at this time of the morning. he'll have
the cops stepped back, a little way down the hall. I listened.
"you think he knows what he's talking about?"
"yes, I think he does."
They came back.
"your mother sure has a big ass."
"too bad you can't have it, eh?"
"all right, we're leaving, but you keep it quiet in there. we want that
radio off and all that moaning and hollering stopped."
"all right, we'll turn off the radio."
they left. what a pleasure to hear them leave. what a pleasure it was
to have a good lawyer. what a pleasure it was to stay out of jail.
I closed the door.
"all right, girls, they're gone. 2 nice young boys on the wrong path.
And now look!"
I looked down. "it's gone, all gone away."
"yes, it's all gone." said Baby. "where does it go? it's so sad."
"shit," said Tito, "it looks like a dad little vienna sausage."
I walked over and sat in a chair, poured a wine. Baby rolled us 3
"how's the wine?" I asked.
"down to 4 bottles."
"fifths or gallons?"
"jesus, we gotta get lucky."
I picked up a 4 day old newspaper. read the funnies. then went to the
sports section. while I was reading, Tito came on over, dropped down to the
rug. I felt her working. she had a mouth like one of those toilet plungers
that unstopped toilets. I drank my wine and puffed at my cigarette.
they'd suck your brains out if you let them. I think they did it to
each other when I wasn't around.
I got to the horse page. "look here," I told Tito, "this horse cut
fractions of 22 and one fifth for the quarter, he's 44 and 4/5ths for the
half, then one o nine for 6 furlongs, he must have thought it was a 6
vurp virp slooom
vop bop vop bop vop
"---it's a mile and a quarter, he's trying to sprint away from these
routers, he's got 6 lengths turning the last curve and backing up, the horse
is dying, he wants to be back in the stable---"
sllurrrr vip vop vop
vip vop vop
"now check the jock --- if it's Blum he'll win by a nose; if it's
Volske he'll win by 3/4's of a length. it's Volske. he wins by 3/4's a bet
down from 12 to 8. all stable money, the public hates Volske. they hate
Volske and Harmatz. so the stables use these guys 2 or 3 times a meet on the
goodies to keep the public off. if it weren't for these two great riders, at
the right time, I'd be down on East 5th Street ---"
"oooh, you bastard!" Tito lifted her head and screamed, knocked the
newspaper out of my hand. then went back to work. I didn't know what to do.
she was really angry. then Baby walked over. Baby had very good legs and I
lifted her purple skirt and looked at the nylons. Baby leaned over and
kissed me, gave me the tongue down the throat. I got my palm on her haunch.
I was trapped. I didn't know what to do. I needed a drink. 3 idiots locked
together. o moaning and the flight of the last bluebird into the eye of the
sun, it was a child's game, a stupid game.
first quarter, 22 and 1/4, the half in 44 and 1/5, she smoked it out,
victory by a head, Calif. Rain of my body. figs broken lovely open like
great red guts in the sun and sucked loose while your mother hated you and
your father wanted to kill you and the backyard fence was green and belonged
to the Bank of America. Tito smoked it out while I fingered Baby.
then we seperated, each waiting the bathroom's turn to wipe the snot
from our sexual noses. I was always last. I came out and took one of the
winebottles and went over to the window and looked out.
"Baby, roll me another smoke."
we were on the top floor, the 4th. Floor, high up on a hill. but you
can look out on Los Angeles and get nothing, nothing at all. all those
people down there sleeping, waiting to get up and go to work. it was stupid.
Stupid, stupid and horrible. we had it right: eye, say, blue on green
staring deeply through shreds of beanfields, into each other, come.
Baby brought me the cigarette. I inhaled and watched the sleeping city.
we sat and waited on the sun and whatever there was to be. I did not like
the world, but at cautious and easy times you could almost understand it.
I don't know where Tito and Baby are now, if they are dead or what, but
those nights were good, pinching those high-heeled legs, kissing nylon
knees. all that color of dresses and panties, and making the L.A. Police
Force earn the green.
Spring or flowers or Summer will never be like that again.
-charles bukowski -
from the books: The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Erections,
Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN TOWN
A CAT IN THE ASS
"Dear Mr. Bukowski:
Why don't you ever write about politics or world affairs?"
What for? Like, what's new? --- everybody knows the bacon is
our raving takes place quite quietly while we are staring down at the
hairs of a rug --- wondering what the shit went wrong when they blew up the
trolley full of jellybeans with the poster of Popeye the Sailor stuck on the
that's all that matters: the good dream gone, and when that's gone it's
all gone. the rest is horseshit games for the Generals and money-makers,
speaking of which --- I see where another U.S. bomber full of H-bombs fell
out of the sky again --- THIS time into the sea while SUPPOSEDLY protecting
my life. the State Dept. says the H-bombs were "unarmed," whatever that
means. then we continue to read where one of the H-bombs (lost) had split
open and was spreading radioactive shit everywhere while supposedly
protecting me WHILE I hadn't even asked for protection. the difference
between a Democracy and a Dictatorship is that you don't have to waste your
getting back to the H-bomb dropout --- a little while back the same
thing happened off the coast of SPAIN. (we are everywhere, protecting me.)
again the bombs get lost --- careless little toys. it took them 3 months ---
if I remember properly --- to find and lift that last bomb out of there. it
may have been 3 weeks but to the people in that coast town it must have
seemed 3 years. that last bomb --- the god damned thing had gotten itself
wedged on the edge of a sandhill far down in the sea. and everytime they
tried to hook the thing, so tenderly, it would shake loose and roll a little
further down the hill. meanwhile, all the poor people in that coast town
were tossing in their beds at night wondering if they'd be blown to hell,
courtesy of the Stars and Stripes. of course, the U.S. State Dept. issued a
state ment saying the H-bomb had no detonation fuse, but meanwhile the rich
had left for other parts and the American sailors and townspeople looked
very nervous. (after all, it the things couldn't blow up what were they
flying them around for? might as well carry 2-ton salamis. fuse means
"spark" or "trigger," and "spark" can come from any where, and "trigger"
means "jolt" or any similar action that will set off the firing mechanism.
NOW the terminology is "unarmed," which sounds safer but is the same thing.)
anyhow, they hooked at the bomb but as the saying goes, the thing seemed to
have a mind of its own. then a few undersea storms came about and our lovely
little bomb rolled further and further down its hill. the sea is very deep,
much deeper than our leadership.
finally, special equipment was designed just to haul bomb-ass and the
thing was pulled from the sea. Palomares. yes, that's where it happened:
Palomares. and you know what they did next? ---
the American Navy had a BAND CONCERT in the town park in celebration of
finding the bomb - if the thing wasn't dangerous they were really cutting
loose. yes, and the sailors played the music together, one big sexual and
spiritual release. whatever happened to the bomb they pulled out of the sea,
I don't know, nobody (except the few) knows, and the band played on. while
1,000 tons of radio- active Spanish topsoil was shipped to Aiken, S.C. in
sealed containers. I'll be the rent is cheap in Aiken, S.C.
so now our bombs are swimming and sinking, chilled and "un- armed"
so what do you do when you've got the people's minds on something not
so good? easy, you get their minds on something else. they can only think
about one thing at a time. like, all right, head line of Jan. 23, 1968: B-52
CRASHES OFF GREENLAND WITH H-BOMBS; DANES IRKED. Danes irked? oh, mother!
anyhow, suddenly, Jan. 24, headline: NORTH KOREANS SEIZE U.S. NAVY
oh boy, patriotism is back! why, those dirty bastards! I thought THAT
war was over! ah ha, I see --- the REDS! Korean puppets!
it says under the A.P. wirephoto, something like this --- the U.S.
intelligence shop Pueblo --- formerly an army cargo ship, now converted into
one of the Navy's secret spy ships equipped with electric monitoring gear
and oceanographic equipment was forced into Wonsan Harbor off the coast of
those dirty Red bastards, always fucking around!
but I DID notice that the lost H-bomb story got shoved into a small
space: "Radiation Detected at B-52 Crash Site; Split Bomb hinted."
we are told that the president was awakened between 2 a.m. and 2:30
a.m. and told of the capture of the Pueblo.
I presume he went back to sleep.
the U.S. says the Pueblo was in international waters; the Koreans say
the shop was in territorial waters. one country is lying, one is not.
then one wonders, what good is a spy ship in international waters? it's
like wearing a raincoat on a sunny day.
the closer you can get on in, the better your instruments pick up.
headline: Jan. 26, 1968: U.S. CALLS UP 14,700 AIR RESERVISTS.
the lost H-bombs off Iceland have completely disappeared from print as
if it had never happened.
Sen. John C. Stennis (D.-Miss.) said Mr. Johnson's decision (the call-
up of Air Reserves_ was "necessary and justified" and added, "I hope he will
not hesitate to mobilize ground reserve components as well."
Senate minority leader, Richard B. Russell (D.-Ga.): "In the last
analysis, this country must get the return of that ship and the men that
were seized. after all, great wars have started from much less serious
incidents than this."
House Speaker John W. McCormack (D.-Mass.): "The American people have
to wake up to the realization that communism is still bent on world
domination. there is too much apathy about it."
I think that if Adolph Hitler were around now he would pretty much
enjoy the present scene.
what's there to say about politics and world affairs? the Berlin
Crisis, the Cuban crisis, spy planes, spy ships, Vietnam, Korea, lost H-
bombs, riots in American cities, starvation in India, purge in Red China?
are there good guys and bad guys? some that always lie, some that never lie?
are there good governments and bad governments? no, there are only bad
governments and worse governments. will there be a flash of light and heat
that rips us apart one night while we are screwing or crapping or reading
the comic strips or pasting blue-chip stamps into a book? instant death is
nothing new, nor is mass instant death new. but we've improved the product;
we've had these centuries of knowledge and culture and discovery to work
with; the libraries are fat and crawling and overcrowded with books; great
paintings sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars; medical science is
transplanting the human heart; you can't tell a madman from a sane one upon
the streets, and suddenly we find our lives, again, in the hands of the
idiots. the bombs may never drop; the bombs might drop. eeney, meeney,
now if you'll forgive me, dear readers, I'll get back to the whores and
the horses and the booze, while there's time. if these contain death, then,
to me, it seems far less offensive to be responsible for your own death than
the other kind which is brough to you fringed with phrases of Freedom and
Democracy and Humanity and/or any of all that Bullshit.
first post, 12:30. first drink, now. and the whores will always be
around. Clara, Penny, Alice, Jo-
eeny, meeney, miney, mo-
The President of the United States of America entered his car,
surrounded by his agents. He sat in the back seat. It was a dark and
unimpressive morning. Nobody spoke. They rolled away and the tires could be
heard on a street still wet from the preceding night's rain. The silence was
more unusual than it had ever been before.
They drove along a while and then the President spoke:
"Say, this isn't the way to the airport."
His agents didn't answer. A vacation had been scheduled. Two weeks at
his private home. His plane was waiting at the airport.
It began to drizzle. It looked as if it might rain again. The men,
including the President, were dressed in heavy overcoats; hats; it made the
car seem very full. Outside, the cold wind was steady.
"Driver," said the President, "I believe you're on the wrong course."
The driver didn't answer. The other agents stared straight ahead.
"Listen," said the President, "will somebody tell that man the way to
"We're not going to the airport," said the agent to the President's
"We're not going to the airport?" the President asked.
The agents were again quiet. The drizzle became rain. The driver turned
the wipers on.
"Listen, what is it?" asked the President. "What's going on here?"
"It's been raining for weeks," said the agent next to the driver. "It
gets depressive. "I'll certainly be glad to see a little sunshine."
"Yes, me too," said the driver.
"Something's wrong here," said the President, "I demand to know-"
"You are no longer in a position to demand," said the agent to the
"We mean," said the same agent.
"Is it to be an assassination?" asked the President.
"Hardly. That's old-fashioned."
"Please. We have orders not to discuss anything."
They drove for some hours. It continued to rain. Nobody spoke.
"Now," said the agent to the President's left, "circle again, then turn
in. We're not being followed. The rain has been very helpful."
The car circled the area, then turned up a small dirt road. It was
muddy and now and then the tires spun, slipped, then gripped again and the
car went on. A man in a yellow raincoat held a flashlight and directed them
into an open garage. It was an isolated area with many trees. A small
farmhouse sat to the left of the garage. The agents opened the car doors.
"Get out," they told the President. The President did so. The agents
kept the President carefully between them, although there wasn't a human
within miles except for the man with the flashlight and the yellow raincoat.
"I don't see why we couldn't have done the whole thing here," said the
man in the yellow raincoat. "It certainly seems much riskier the other way."
"Orders," said one of the agents. "You know how it is. He's always gone
a lot on intuition. He does so now, more than ever."
"It's very cold. Do you have time for a cup of coffee? It's ready."
"That's good of you. It's been a long drive. I presume the other car is
all ready to go?"
"Of course. It's been checked again and again. Actually, we're about
ten minutes ahead on the timetable. That's one reason I suggested the
coffee. You know how he is about precision."
"O.K., then, let's go in."
Keeping the President carefully between them, they entered the
"You sit there," one of the agents told the President.
"It's good coffee," said the man in the yellow raincoat, "hand-ground."
He walked around with the pot. He poured himself one, then sat down,
still in the yellow raincoat, only the headpiece thrown on the stove.
"Ah, it is good," said on of the agents.
"Cream And sugar?" one of them asked the President.
"All right," he said-
There wasn't much room in the old car but they all managed to get in,
with the President again in the back seat-The old car also slipped in the
mud and rutholes but made it to the road. Again, it was a silent ride most
of the way. Then one of the agents lit a cigarette.
"Damn it, I just can't stop smoking!"
"Well, it's a hard thing to do, that's all. Don't worry about it."
"I'm not worried about it. Just disgusted with myself."
"Well, forget all that. This is a great day in History."
"I'll say so!" said the one with the cigarette.
Then he inhaled-
They parked outside an old roominghouse. It continued to rain. They sat
there some moments.
"Now," said the agent next to the driver, "get him out. It's clear.
Nobody on the streets."
They walked the President between them, first through the front door,
then up 3 flights of steps, always keeping the President between them. They
stopped and knocked at 306. The signal: one knock, pause, two knocks-
The door was opened and the men quickly pushed the President inside.
The door was then locked and bolted. Three men were waiting inside. Two were
in their 50's. The other sat in an outfit that consisted of an old laborer's
shirt, 2nd-hand trousers that were too large and ten dollar shoes, scuffed
and unpolished. He sat in a rocker in the center of the room. He was in his
80's but he smiled-and the eyes were those same eyes; the nose, the chin,
the forehead hadn't changed much.
"Welcome, Mr. President. I've waited a long time on History and Science
and You, and all have arrived, on schedule, today-"
The President looked at the old man in the rocker. "Great God! You're-
"You've recognized me! Others of your citizens have made jokes about
the similarity! Too stupid to even realize that I was-"
"But it was proven that-"
"Of course, it was proven. The bunkers: April 30th, 1945. We wanted it
that way. I've been patient. Science was with us but at times I had to speed-
up History. We wanted the right man. You are the right man. The others were
too impossible --- too alienated from my political philosophy- You are far
more ideal. By working through you it will be easier. But as I said, I had
to speed-up the reel of History a bit-my age-I had to-"
"Yes. I had your president Kennedy assassinated. And then, his brother-
"But why the 2nd assassination?"
We had information that that young man would have won the presidential
"But what are you going to do with me? I've been told that I'm not to
"May I introduce Drs. Graf and Voelker?"
The two men nodded at the President and smiled.
"But what is going to happen?" asked the President.
"Please. Just a moment. I must question my men. Karl, how did it go
with The Double?"
"Fine. We phoned from the farm. The Double arrived at the airport on
schedule. The Double announced, that due to weather conditions, he was
canceling the flight until tomorrow. Then The double announced that he would
take a pleasure drive-that it pleased him to be driven about in the rain-"
"And the rest?" asked the old man.
"The Double is dead."
"Fine. Let's get on with it then. History and Science have arrived on
The agents began walking the President toward one of the two operating
tables. They asked him to disrobe. The old man walked to the other table.
Drs. Graf and Voelker climbed into their medical gowns and made ready for
The young-looking of the 2 men arose from one of the operating tables.
He dressed himself in the President's clothing, then walked to the full-
length mirror on the north wall. He stood for a good 5 minutes. Then he
"It is miraculous! Not even any operating scars-no recuperating period.
Congratulations, gentlemen! How do you do it?"
"Well, Adolph," answered one of the doctors, "we've come a long way
"WAIT! I am never to be addressed as 'Adolph' again-until the proper
time, until I say so!-Until then, there will be no German spoken-I am now
the President of the United States of America!"
"Yes, Mr. President!"
Then he reached and touched above his upper lip:
"But I do miss the old mustache!"
Then he asked:
"And the old man?"
"We've placed him in the bed. He will not awaken for 24 hours. At this
moment-everything-all appendages of the oper- ation have been destroyed,
dissolved. All we need do is walk out of here," said Dr.Graf. "But-Mr.
President, it is my suggestion that this man be-"
"No, I tell you, he's helpless! Let him suffer as I have suffered!"
He walked over to the bed and looked down at the man. A white-haired
old man in his 80's.
"Tomorrow I'll be in his private home. I wonder how his wife will enjoy
my lovemaking?" he gave a small laugh.
"I'm sure, mein Fuhrer-I'm sorry! Please! I'm sure, Mr. President, that
she will enjoy your love-making very much."
"Let's leave this place, then. The doctors first, to go their way.then
the rest of us-one or two at a time-a transfer of cars, then a good night's
sleep at the White House."
The old man with the white hair awakened. He was alone in the room. He
could escape. He got out of the bed in search of his clothing and as he
walked across the room he saw an old man in a full-length mirror.
No, he thought, oh my god, no!
He raised an arm. The old man in the mirror raised an arm. He moved
forward. The old man in the mirror enlarged. He looked down at his hands ---
wrinkled, and not his hands! And he looked down at his feet! They weren't
his feet! It wasn't his body!
"My God!" he said aloud, "OH MY GOD!"
Then he heard his voice. It wasn't even his own voice. They'd
transferred the voice box also. He felt his throat, his head with his
fingers. No scars! No scars anywhere. He got into the old man's clothing and
ran down the stairway. At the first door he knocked on the door was marked
The door opened. An old woman.
"Yes, Mr. Tilson?" she asked.
"'Mr. Tilson?' Lady, I am the President of the United States of
America! This is an emergency!"
"Oh, Mr. Tilson, you're so funny!"
"Look, where's your telephone?"
"Right where it has always been, Mr. Tilson. Just to the left of the
He felt in his pockets. They had left him change. He looked into the
wallet. $18. He put a dime in the phone.
"Lady, what's the address here?"
"Now, Mr. Tilson, you know the address. You've lived here for years!
You're acting very strange today, Mr. Tilson. And I want to tell you
"Yes, yes- what is it?"
"I want to remind you that your rent is due today!"
"Oh, lady, please tell me the address here!"
"As if you didn't know! It's 2435 Shoreham Drive."
"Yes," he said into the phone, "cab? I want a cab at 2435 Shoreham
Drive. I'll be waiting on the first floor. My name? My name? All right, my
name is Tilson-"
It's no use going to the White House, he thought, they have that
covered-I'll go to the largest newspaper. I'll tell them. I'll tell the
editor everything, everything that happened-
The other patients laughed at him. "See that guy? The guy that kinda
looks like that dictator-fellow, what'-his-name, only a lot older. Anyhow,
when he came in here a month ago he claimed that he was the President of the
United States of America. That was a month ago. He doesn't say it too much
now. But he sure likes to read the newspapers. I never saw a guy who was so
eager to read a newspaper. He does know a lot about politics, though. I
guess that's what drove him crazy. Too much politics."
The dinner bell rang. All the patients responded. Except one.
A male nurse walked up to him.
There wasn't any answer.
"It's time to eat, Mr. Tilson!"
The old white-haired man rose and walked slowly toward the patients'
-charles bukowski -
from the books: The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Erections,
Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness
**Trouble with a Battery**
I bought her a drink and then another drink and then we went up the
stairway behind the bar. there were several large rooms there. she had me
hot. sticking her tongue out at me. and we played all the way up the
stairway. I took the first one, standing up, inside the door. she just slid
back her panties and I put it in.
then we went into the bedroom and there was some kid in the other bed,
there were two beds, and the kid said, "hello."
"it's my brother," she said.
the kid looked real thin and vicious, but then almost everybody in the
world looked vicious when you thought about it.
there were several bottles of wine along the headboard. they opened a
bottle and I waited until they both drank from the bottle, then I tried
I threw a ten on the dresser.
the kid really drank at the wine.
"his big brother is the great bullfighter, Jaime Bravo."
"I've heard of Jaime Bravo, he fights mostly out of T.," I said,
"but you don't have to give me any bullshit."
"o.k.," she said, "no bullshit."
we drank and talked for some time, just small easy talk. and then she
turned out the lights and with the brother there in the other bed, we did it
again. I had my wallet under her pillow.
when we finished she hit the light and went to the bathroom while her
brother and I passed the bottle. while the brother wasn't looking I wiped
off on the sheet.
she came out of the bathroom and she still looked good, I mean after
two shots at it, she still looked good. her breasts were small but firm;
what there was of them really jutted. and her ass was big, big enough.
"why did you come to this place?" she asked, moving toward the bed. she
slid in beside me, pulled up the sheet, pulled from the bottle.
"I had to get my battery charged across the street."
"after that one," she said, "you'll need a charge."
we all laughed. even the brother laughed. then he looked at her:
"is he all right?"
"sure he's all right," she said.
"what's all that?" I asked.
"we have to be careful."
"I don't know what you mean."
"one of the girls was almost murdered up here last year. some guy
gagged her so she couldn't scream and then took a pen knife and cut these
crosses all over her body. she almost bled to death."
the brother dressed very slowly, then left. I gave her a five. she
threw it on the dresser with the ten.
she passed the wine. it was good wine, French wine. you didn't gag.
she put her leg up against mine. we were both sitting up in bed. it was
"how old are you?" she asked.
"damn near half a century."
"you can sure go, but you look real beat-up."
"I'm sorry. I'm not very pretty."
"oh no, I think you're a beautiful man. didn't anybody ever tell you?"
"I'll bet you say that to all the men you fuck."
"no, I don't."
we sat there a while, passing the bottle. it was very quiet except that
you could hear a little music from the bar downstairs. I passed into a kind
"HEY!" she yelled. she jammed a long fingernail into my bellybutton.
"ow! god damn!"
"LOOK at me!"
I turned and looked at her.
"what do you see?"
"a fine-looking Mexican-Indian girl."
"how can you see?"
"how can you see? you don't open your eyes. you keep your eyes in
little slits. why?"
it was a fair question. I took a good pull at the French wine.
"I don't know. maybe I'm afraid. afraid of everything. I mean, people,
buildings, things, everything. mainly people."
"I'm afraid too," she said.
"but your eyes are open. I like your eyes."
she was hitting the wine. hard. I knew those Mexican-Americans. I was
waiting for her to get nasty.
then there was a rapping on the door that damn near shitted me out. it
was flung open, viciously, American-style, and there was the bartender - big
red brutal banal bastard.
"ain't you through with that son of a bitch yet?"
"I think he wants some more," she said.
"do you? asked Mr. Banal.
"I think so," I said.
his eyes eagled over to the money on the dresser and he slammed the
door. a money society. THEY thought it was magic.
"that was my husband, sort of," she said.
"I don't think I want to go again," I said.
"first, I'm 48. second, it's kind of like fucking in the waiting room
of a bus station."
she laughed. "I'm what you guys call a 'whore.' I must fuck 8 or ten
guys a week, at least."
"that sure doesn't help my cause."
"it helps mine."
we passed the bottle back and forth.
"you like to fuck women?"
"that's why I'm here."
"how about men?"
"I don't fuck men."
she pulled at the bottle. she must have taken a good one-quarter of it.
"maybe you'd like it in the ass? maybe you'd like a man to fuck you in
"you're talking crazy now."
she looked straight ahead. there was a little silver Christ on the
further wall. she kept looking at the little silver Christ on his cross. he
was very pretty.
"maybe you've been hiding it. maybe you want somebody to fuck you in
"o.k., have it your way - maybe that's what I really want."
I got the corkscrew and pulled out the top of a new French wine,
meanwhile getting a bunch of cork and shit into the wine as I always did.
only a waiter in the movies could open a French wine without that trouble.
I took the first good gulp. cork and all. I handed her the bottle. her
leg had dropped away. she had a fish-like look on her face. She took a good
I took the wine back from her. the little splints of cork didn't seem
to know where to go in the bottle. I got rid of some of them.
"you want me to fuck you in the ass?" she asked.
"I can DO it!"
she got out of bed and went to the top drawer of the dresser and
strapped this belt around her waist and then faced me ---and there, looking
at me, was this BIG celluloid cock.
"ten inches!" she laughed, pushing out her belly, jutting the thing
toward me, "and it never gets soft and it never wears out!"
"I liked you better the other way."
"you don't believe my big brother is Jaime Bravo the great
there she was standing there with this celluloid cock on, asking me
about Jaime Bravo.
"I don't think Bravo could cut it in Spain," I said.
"could you cut it in Spain?"
"hell, I can't cut it in Los Angeles. Now please take that ridiculous
artificial cock off-"
she unhooked the thing and put it back in the top dresser drawer.
I got out of bed and sat in a straight-backed chair, drinking the wine.
she found another chair, and there we sat across from each other, naked,
passing the wine.
"this reminds me somehow of an old Leslie Howard movie, although they
wouldn't shoot this part. wasn't Howard in the Somerset Maugham thing? OF
"I don't know those people."
"that's right. you're too young."
"did you like this Howard, this Maugham?"
"they both had style. plenty of style. but, somehow, with both of them,
hours or days or years later, you felt gypped, finally."
"but they had this thing you call 'style'?"
"now you're learning."
then I got back into bed. she came on in. I tried it again. I couldn't
"you suck?" I asked.
she took it in her mouth and got it out of me.
I gave her another five, dressed, took another drink of wine, and made
it down the stairway, across the street to the gas station. the battery was
fully-charged. I paid the attendant and then backed on out, hit up 8th ave.
a cop on the bike finally gave up and tailed after a Jap who made a sudden
left turn without blinkers or hand signal on Wilshire blvd. they deserved
when I got to my place the woman was asleep and the little girl wanted
me to read to her from a book called BABY SUSAN'S CHICKEN. it was terrible.
Bobby found a cardboard carton for the chicks to sleep in. he set it in a
corner behind the kitchen stove. and Bobby put some of Baby Susan's cereal
in a little dish and set it carefully in the carton, so the little chicks
could have some dinner, and Baby Susan laughed and clapped her fat little
it turns out later that the 2 other chicks are roosters and Baby Susan
is a hen, a hen who lays a most wondrous egg. I'll say. I put the little
girl down and went into the bathroom and let the hot water run into the tub.
then I got into the tub and thought, the next time I get a dead battery I'll
go to a movie. then I stretched out into the hot water and forgot
**THE COPULATING MERMAID OF VENICE, CALIFORNIA**
The bar had closed and they still had to make the walk to therooming
house, and there it was --- the hearse had driven up across the street where
the Stomach Hospital was.
"I think this is THE night," said Tony "I can feel it in my blood, I
"The night for what?" asked Bill.
"Look," said Tony, "we know their operation well by now. Let's get one!
What the fuck? You got the guts?"
"Whatsa matta? You think I'm coward because that runtysailor whipped my
"I didn't say that, Bill."
"You're the coward! I can whip you, easy-"
"yeah. I know. I'm not talking about that. I say, let's grab a stiff
just for laughs."
"Shit! Let's grab TEN stiffs!
"Wait. You're drunk now. Let's wait. We know the operation.We know how
they operate. We been watching every night."
"And you're not drunk, eh? You wouldn't have the GUTS otherwise!"
"Quiet now! Watch! Here they come. They've got a stiff. Some poor guy.
Look at that sheet pulled over his head. It's sad."
"I am looking. And it is sad-"
"Okay, we know the operation: if it's just one stiff, they toss him in,
light their cigarettes and drive off. But if it's two stiffs, they don't
bother locking the hearse door twice. They're real cool boys. It's just old
stuff with them. If it's two stiffs, they just leave the guy on the roller
there behind the hearse, go in and get the other stiff, then toss them in
together. How many nights have we watched it?"
"I dunno," said Bill, "sixty, at least."
"Okay, now there's the one stiff. If they go back for another --- that
stiff belongs to us. You game for grabs if they go in for another stifff?"
"I'm game! I got double your guts!"
"okay, then, watch. We'll know in a minute-Oops, there they go! They're
going in for another stiff!" said Tony. "You game?"
"Game," said Bill.
They sprinted across the street and grabbed the corpse by the head and
feet. Tony had the head, that sad head wrapped so tight in the sheet, while
Bill grabbed the feet.
Then they ran across the street, the pure white sheet of the corpse
floating in the momentum --- sometimes you could see an ankle, an elbow, a
thigh of flesh, and then they ran it up the room- ing house front steps, got
to the door and Bill said, "Jesus Christ, who's got the key? Look, I'm
"We don't have much time! Those bastards are gonna be out soon with the
other stiff! Throw him in the hammock! Quick! We gotta find a goddamned
They tossed the stiff into the hammock. It rocked back and forth in the
hammock under the moonlight.
"Can't we take the body back?" asked Bill. "Good God oh Mother o
Mighty, can't we take the body back?"
"No time! Too late! They'd see us. HEY! WAIT!" yelled Tony. "I found
They unlocked the door, then grabbed the thing on the hammock and ran
up the stairway with it. Tony's room was closest. second floor. There was
quite a bit of bumping with the corpse along the stairway wall and railing.
Then they had it outside Tony's door and stretched it out while Tony
looked for his door key. They got the door open, plopped the stiff on the
bed and then went to the refrigerator and got hold of Tony's cheap gallon of
muscatel, had half a waterglass full each, then refilled, came back to the
bedroom, sat down and
looked at the stiff.
"Do you suppose anybody saw us?" asked Bill.
"If they had, I think the cops would be up here by now."
"Do you think they'll search the neighborhood?"
"How can they? How can they go knocking on doors at this time of the
morning, asking, 'Do you have a dead body?'"
"Shit, I guess you're right."
"Sure, I'm right," said Tony, "still, I can't help wondering how those
two guys felt when they came back and saw the body gone? It must have been
kind of funny."
"Yeah," said Bill, "it musta been."
"Well, funny or not, we've got the stiff. There he is, right on the
They looked at the thing under the sheet, had another drink.
"I wonder when they begin to stiffen up? I wonder when they begin to
"That rigor mortis takes a bit of time, I think," said Tony.
"But he'll probably begin to stink pretty soon. It's just like garbage
left in the sink. I don't think they drain the blood until they reach the
So, two drunks, they went on drinking the muscatel; they even forgot at
times about the body, and they spoke of those vague and important other
things in their rather inarticulate way. Then it was back to the body again.
The body was still there.
"What we gonna do with it?" asked Bill.
"Stand it up in the closet after it stiffens up. It seemed pretty loose
when we were carrying it. Probably died about a half and hour ago or so."
"So, okay, we stand it up in the closet. Then what do we do when it
starts to stink?"
"I never thought about that part," said Tony.
"Think about it," said Bill, pouring a good one.
Tony tried to think about it. "You know, we might go to jail for this.
If we get caught."
"Well, I think we made a mistake, but it's too late."
"Too late," repeated Bill.
"So," said Tony, pouring a tall one, "if we are stuck with this stiff
we might as well have a look at him."
"Look at him?"
"Yeah, look at him."
"You got the guts?" asked Bill.
"Sure. No training in this sort of thing," said Tony.
"All right. You pull the sheet back," said Bill, "only fill my glass
first. Fill my glass, then pull the sheet back."
"Okay," said Tony.
He filled Bill's glass. Then walked over.
"All right," said Tony, "here GOES!"
Tony pulled the sheet straight back over the body. He kept his eyes
"Good GOD!" said Bill, "it's a woman! A young woman!"
Tony opened his eyes. "Yeah. Was young. Christ, look at that long
blonde hair, goes way down past her asshole. But she's DEAD! terribly and
finally dead, forever. What a shame! I don't understand it."
"How old you figure she was?"
"She doesn't look dead to me," said bill.
"But look at those breasts! Those thighs! That pussy! That pussy: it
still looks alive!"
"Yeah," said Tony, "the pussy, they say: it's the first thing to come
and the last thing to go."
Tony walked over to the pussy, touched it. then he lifted a breast,
kissed the damned dead thing. "It's so sad, everything is so sad --- that we
live all our lives like idiots and then finally die."
"You shouldn't touch the body," said Bill.
"She's beautiful," said Tony, "even dead, she's beautiful."
"Yeah, but if she were alive she wouldn't even look at a bum like you
twice. You know that, don't you?"
"Sure! And that's just the point! Now she can't say, 'NO!'"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I mean," said Tony, "that my cock is hard. VERY HARD!"
Tony walked over and poured a glassful from the jug. Drank it down.
Then he walked over to the bed, began kissing the breasts, running his
hands through her long hair, and then finally kissingthat dead mouth in a
kiss from the living to the dead. And then he mounted.
It was GOOD. Tony rammed and jammed. Never such a fuck as this in all
his days! He came. Then rolled off, toweled himself with the sheet.
Bill had watched the whole thing, lifting the gallon muscatel jug in
the dim lamplight.
"Christ, Bill, it was beautiful, beautiful!"
"You're crazy! You just fucked a dead woman!"
"And you've been fucking dead women all your life --- deadwomen with
dead souls and dead pussies --- only you didn't know it!
I'm sorry, Bill, she was a beautiful buck. I have no shame."
"Was she that good?" asked Bill.
"You'll never believe it."
Tony walked to the bathroom to take a piss.
When he got back, Bill had mounted the body. Bill was going good.
Moaning and groaning a bit. Then he reached over, kissed that dead mouth,
Bill rolled off, hit the edge of the sheet, wiped off.
"You're right. Best fuck I ever had!"
Then they both sat in their chairs and looked at her.
"Wonder what her name was?" asked Tony. "I'm in love."
Bill laughed. "Now I know you're drunk! Only a damn fool falls in love
with a living woman; now you gotta get hooked on a dead one."
"Okay, I'm hooked," said Tony.
"All right, you're hooked," said bill, "whatta we do now?"
"Get her the hell outa here!" answered Tony.
"Same way we got her in --- down the stairway."
"Then into your car. We drive her down to Venice Beach, throw her into
"She won't feel it any more than she felt your cock."
"And how about your cock?" asked Bill.
"She didn't feel that either," answered Tony.
There she was, double-fucked, dead-laid on the sheets.
"Let's make it, baby!" screamed Tony.
Tony grabbed the feet and waited. Bill grabbed the head. As they rushed
out of Tony's room the doorway was still open. Tony kicked it shut with his
left foot as they moved toward the top of the stairway, the sheet no longer
wound about the body but, more or less, flopped over it. Like a wet dishrag
over a kitchen faucet. And again, there was much bumping of her head and her
thighs and her big ass against the stariway walls and stairway railings.
They threw her into the back seat of Bill's car.
"Wait, wait, baby!" screamed Tony.
The muscatel jug, asshole!"
Bill sat waiting with the dead cunt in the back seat.
Tony was a man of his word. He came running out with the jug of muski.
They got on the freeway, passing the jug back and forth, drinking good
mouthfuls. It was a warm and beautiful night and the Moon was full, of
course. But it wasn't exactly night. By then it was 4:15 a.m. A good time
They parked. Then had another drink of the good muscatel, got the body
out and carried it that long sandy dandy walk toward the sea. Then they got
down to that part of the sand where the sea reached now and then, that part
of the sand that was wet, soaked, full of little sand crabs and airholes.
They put the body down and drank from the jug. Now and then an excessive
wave rolled a bit over all of them: Bill, Tony, the dead Cunt.
Bill had to get up to piss and having been taught nineteenth century
morals he walked a bit up the shore to piss. As his friend did so, Tony
pulled back the sheet and looked at the dead face in the seaweed twist and
swirl, in the salty morning air. Tony looked at the face as Bill was pissing
offshore. A lovely kind face, nose a little too sharp, but a very good
mouth, and then with her body stiffening already, he leaned forward and
kissed her very gently upon the mouth and said, "I love you, dead bitch."
Then he covered her with the sheet.
Bill finished pissing, came back. "I need another drink."
"Go ahead. I'll take one too."
Tony said, "I'm going to swim her out."
"Can you swim good?"
"Not too well."
"I'm a good swimmer. I'll swim her out."
"NO! NO!" screamed Tony.
"Goddamn it, stop yelling!"
"I'm going to swim her out!"
"All right! All right!"
Tony took another drink, pulled the sheet aside, picked her up and
carried her step by step toward the breakers. He was drunker than he
figured. Several times the big waves knocked them both down, knocked her out
of his arms, and he had to get to his feet, run, swim, struggle to find the
body. Then he'd see her --- that long long hair. She was just like a
mermaid. Maybe she was a mermaid. finally Tony floated her out beyond the
breakers. It was quiet. halfway between moon and sunrise. He floated with
her some moments. It was very quiet. A time within time and a time beyond
Finally, he gave the body a little shove. She floated off, half
underwater, the strands of long hair whirling about the body. She was still
beautiful, dead or whatever she was. She began to float away from him,
caught in some tide. The sea had her.
Then suddenly he turned from her, tried to swim back toward the shore.
It seemed very far away. He made it in with the last stroke of his strength,
rolling in with the force of the last breaker. He picked himself up, fell,
got up, walked forward, sat down beside Bill.
"So, she's gone," said Bill.
"Yeh. Shark meat."
"Do you think we'll ever be caught?"
"No. Give me a drink."
"Go easy. We're getting close to the bottom."
They got back to the car. Bill drove. They argued over the final drinks
on the way home, then Tony thought about the mer- maid. He put his head down
and began to cry.
"You were always chickenshit," said Bill, "always chickenshit."
They made it back to the rooming house.
Bill went to his room. Tony to his. The sun was coming up. The world
was awakening. Some were awakening with hangovers. some were awakening with
thoughts of church. Most were still asleep. A Sunday morning. And the
mermaid, the mermaid with that dead sweet tail, she was well out to sea.
While somewhere a pelican dove, came up with a glittering, guitar-shaped
-charles bukowski -
from the books: The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Erections,
Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness
**ALL THE GREAT WRITERS**
Mason had her on the phone. "yeh, well, listen, I was drunk. I don't
remember WHAT I said to you! maybe it was true and maybe it wasn't! no, I'm
NOT sorry, I'm tired of being sorry-you what? you won't? well, god damn you
Henry Mason hung up. it was raining again. even in the rain there was
always trouble with women, there was always trouble with -
it was the intercom buzzer. he picked up the phone.
"there's a Mr. Burkett, a James Burkett-"
"will you tell him that his manuscripts have been returned? we mailed
them back yesterday. so sorry, all that."
"but he insists on seeing you personally."
"you can't get rid of him?"
"all right, send him in."
a bunch of damned extroverts. they were worse than clothing salesmen,
brush salesmen, they were worse than-
in came James Burkett.
"sit down, Jimmy."
"only my friends call me 'Jimmy.'"
"sit down, Mr. Burkett."
you could tell by looking at Burkett that he was insane. a great self-
love covered him like a neon paint. there was no scrubbing it off. truth
wouldn't do it. they didn't know what truth was.
"listen," said Burkett, lighting a cigarette and smiling around his
cigarette like a temperamental & goofy bitch, "how come ya didn't like my
stuff? your secretary out there sez ya sent it back?"
then Mr. Burkett gave him the direct, the so direct look in the eye,
playing at having SOUL. you were supposed to LOVE to do, so very hard to do,
and only Mr. Burkett didn't realize this.
"it just wasn't any good, Burkett. that's all."
Burkett tapped his cigarette out in the ashtray. now, he rammed it out,
jamming it and twisting it in the tray. then he lit another cigarette, and
holding the match out in front of him, flam- ing, he said:
"hey, listen, man, don't give me that SHIT!"
"it was terrible writing, Jimmy."
"I said only my FRIENDS call me 'Jimmy'!"
"it was shitty writing, Mr. Burkett, in our opinion, only, of course."
"listen, man, I KNOW this game! you SUCK up right and you're in! but
you've got to SUCK! and I don't SUCK, man! my work stands alone!"
"it certainly does, Mr. Burkett."
"if I were a Jew or a fag or a commy or black it would be all over,
man, I'd be in."
"there was a black writer in here yesterday who told me that if his
skin were white he'd be a millionaire."
"all right, how about the fags?"
"some fags write pretty good."
"like Genet, huh?"
"I gotta suck dick, huh? I gotta write about sucking dick, huh?"
"I didn't say that."
"listen, man, all I need is a little promotion. a little promotion and
I'll go. people will LOVE me! all they gotta do is SEE my stuff!"
"listen, Mr. Burkett, this is a business. if we published every writer
who demanded that we do so because his stuff was so great, we wouldn't be
here very long. we have to make the judgment. if we're wrong too many times
we're finished. It's as simple as that. we print good writing that sells and
we print bad writing that sells. we're in the selling market. we're not a
charity, and frankly, we don't worry too much about the betterment of the
soul or the betterment of the world."
"but my stuff will GO, Henry-"
" 'Mr. Mason,' please! only my friends-"
"what are trying to do, get SHITTY with me?"
"look, Burkett, you're a pusher. as a pusher, you're great. why don't
you sell mops or insurance or something?"
"what's wrong with my writing?"
"you can't push and write at the same time. only Hemingway was able to
do that, and then even he forgot how to write."
"I mean, man, what don't you like about my writing? I mean, be
DEFINITE! Don't give me a lot of shit about Hemingway, man!"
"1955? whatcha mean?"
"I mean, you were good then, but the needle's stuck. you're still
playing 1955 over and over again."
"hell, life is life and I'm still writing about LIFE, man! there isn't
anything else! what the hell you giving me?"
Henry Mason let out a long slow sigh and leaned back. artists were
intolerably dull. and near-sighted. if they made it they believed in their
own greatness no matter how bad they were. if they didn't make it they still
believed in their greatness no matter how bad they were. if they didn't make
it, it was somebody else's fault. it wasn't because they didn't have talent;
no matter how they stank they always believed in their genius. they could
always trot out Van Gogh or Mozart or two dozen more who went to their
graves before having their little asses lacquered with Fame. but for each
Mozart there were 50,000 intolerable idiots who would keep on puking out
rotten work. only the good quit the game - like Rimbaud or Rossini.
Burkett lit another cigarette, once again holding the flaming match in
front of him as he spoke:
"listen, you print Bukowski. and he's slipped. you know he's slipped.
admit it, man! hasn't Bukowski slipped, huh? hasn't he?"
"so, he's slipped."
"he writes SHIT!"
"if shit sells then we'll sell it. listen, Mr. Burkett, we aren't the
only publishing house. why don't you try somebody else? just don't accept
Burkett stood up. "what the hell's the use? you guys are all alike! you
can't use good writing! the world has no use for REAL writing! you couldn't
tell a human being from a fly! because you're dead! DEAD, ya hear? ALL YOU
FUCKERS ARE DEAD! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!"
Burkett threw his burning cigarette on the rug, turned about, walked to
the door, SLAMMED it and was gone.
Henry Mason got up, picked up the cigarette, put it in the tray, sat
down, lit one of his own. no way of giving up smoking on a job like this, he
thought. He leaned back and inhaled, so glad that Burkett was gone --- those
guys were dangerous --- absolutely insane and vicious --- especially those
who were always writing about LOVE or SEX or the BETTER WORLD. Jesus, jesus.
he exhaled. the inter- come buzzer rang.
he picked up the phone.
"a Mr. Ainsworth Hockley to see you?"
"what's he want? we sent him his check for LUSTS AND BUSTS ON THE
"he says he has a new story."
"fine. tell him to leave it with you."
"he says he hasn't written it."
"o.k., have him leave the outline. I'll check it out."
"he says he doesn't have an outline."
"wutz he want, then?"
"he wants to see you personally."
"you can't get rid of him?"
"no, he just keeps staring at my legs and grinning."
"then, for Christ's sake. pull your dress down!"
"it's too short."
"all right. send him in."
in came Ainsworth Hockley.
"sit down," he told him.
Hockley sat down. then jumped up. lit a cigar. Hockley carried dozens
of cigars. he was afraid of being a homosexual. that is, he didn't know
whether he was a homosexual or not, so he smoked the cigars because he
thought it was manly and also dynamic, but he still wasn't sure of where he
was. he thought he liked women too. it was a mix-up.
"listen," said Hockley, "I just sucked a 36 inch COCK! gigan- tic!"
"listen, Hockley, this is a business. I just got rid of one nut. what
do you want with me?"
"I want to suck your COCK, man! THAT'S what I want!"
"I'd rather you didn't."
the room was already smoggy with cigar smoke. Hockley really shot it
out. he jumped out of the chair. walked around. sat down. jumped out of the
chair. walked around.
"I think I'm going crazy." said Ainsworth Hockley. "I keep thinking of
cock. I used to live with this 14 year old kid. huge COCK! god. HUGE! he
beat his meat right in front of me once, I'll never forget it! and when I
was in college, all these guys walking around the locker rooms, real cool-
like ya know? why one guy even had BALLS down to his KNEES! we used to call
him BEACH- BALLS HARRY. after BEACHBALLS HARRY came, baby it was all OVER!
like a waterhose spurting curdled cream! when that stuff dried- why, man in
the morning he'd have to beat the sheets with a baseball bat, shake the
flakes off before he sent it to the laun- dry-"
"you're crazy, Ainsworth."
"I know, I know, that's what I'm telling YA! have a cigar!"
Hockley poked a cigar at his lips.
"no, no, thank you."
"maybe you'd like to suck MY cock?"
"I don't have the slightest desire. now what do you want?"
"I've got this idea for a story, man."
"o.k., write it."
"no, I want you to hear it."
Mason was silent.
"all right," said Hockley, "this is it."
he walked around shooting smoke. "a spaceship, see? 2 guys and 4 women
and a computer. here they are shooting through space, see? days, weeks go
by. 2 guys, 4 women, the computer. the women are getting real hot. they want
it, see? got it?
"but you know what happens?"
"the two guys decide that they are homosexuals and begin to play with
each other. they ignore the women entirely."
"yeah, that's kind of funny. write it."
"wait. I'm not done yet. these two guys are playing with each other.
it's disgusting. no. it isn't disgusting! anyhow, the women walk over to the
computer and open the doors. and inside this computer there are 4 HUGE cock
"crazy. write it."
"wait. wait. but before they can get at the cocks, the machine shows up
with assholes and mouths and the whole damned machine goes into an orgy with
ITSELF. god damn, can you imagine?"
"all right. write it. I think we can use it."
Ainsworth lit another cigar, walked up and down. "how about an
"one guy already owes us 5 short stories and 2 novels. he keeps falling
further and further behind. if it keeps up, he'll own the company."
"give me half then, what the hell. half a cock is better than none."
"when can we have the story?"
"in a week."
Mason wrote a check for $75.
"thanks, baby," said Hockley, "you're sure now that we don't want to
suck each other's cocks?"
then Hockley was gone. Mason walked out to the receptionist. her name
Mason looked at her legs.
"that dress is pretty short, Francine."
he kept looking.
"that's the style, Mr. Mason.
"just call me 'Henry.' I don't believe I ever saw a dress quite that
"they get shorter and shorter."
"you keep giving everybody who comes in here rocks. they come into my
office and talk like crazy."
"oh, come on, Henry."
"you even give me rocks, Francine."
"come on, let's go to lunch," he said.
"but you've never taken me to lunch before."
"oh, is there somebody else?"
"Oh, no. but it's only 10:30 a.m."
"who the hell cares? I'm suddenly hungry. very hungry."
"all right. just a moment."
Francine got out the mirror, played with the mirror a bit. then they
got up and walked to the elevator. they were the only ones on the elevator.
on the way down, he grabbed Francine and kissed her. she tasted like
raspberry with a slight hint of halitosis. he even pawed one of her
buttocks. she offered a token resistance, pushing against him lightly.
"Henry! I don't what's gotten into you!" she giggled.
"I'm only a man, after all."
in the lobby of the building there was a stand which sold candy,
newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, cigars-
"wait a moment, Francine."
Mason bought 5 cigars, huge ones. he lit one and let out an immense
spray of smoke. they walked out of the building, looking for a place to eat.
It has stopped raining.
"do you usually smoke before lunch?" she asked.
"before, after and in between."
Henry Mason felt as if he were going just a bit insane. all those
writers. what the hell was wrong with them?
"hey, here's a place!"
he held the door open and Francine walked in. he followed her.
"Francine, I sure like that dress!"
"you do? why thank you! I've got a dozen similar to this one"
he pulled up her chair and looked at her legs as she sat down. Mason
sat down. "god, I'm hungry. I keep thinking of clams, I wonder why?"
"I think you want to fuck me."
"I said, 'I think you want to fuck me.'"
"I'll let you. I think you're a very nice man, a very nice man,
the waiter came up and waved the smoke away with his menu cards. he
handed one to Francine and one to Mason. and waited. and got rocks. how come
some guys got nice dolls like that while he had to beat his meat? the waiter
took their orders, wrote them down,
walked through the swinging doors, handed the orders to the cook.
"hey," said the cook, "whatcha got there?"
"I mean, ya got a horn! In front there! stay away from ME with that
"nothing? you'll kill somebody with that thing! go throw some cold
water on it! it just don't look nice!"
the waiter walked into the men's room. some guys got all the broads. he
was a writer. he had a whole truck full of manuscripts. 4 novels. 40 short
stories. 500 poems. nothing published. a rotten world. they couldn't
recognize talent. they kept talent down. you have to have an "in," that's
all there was to it. rotten cocksucking world. waiting on stupid people all
the waiter took his cock out, put it in the hand basin and began
splashing cold water on it.
**Life and Death in the Charity Ward**
The ambulance was full but they found me a place on top and away we
went. I had been vomiting blood from the mouth in large quantities and I was
worried that I might vomit upon the people below me. We rode along listening
to the siren. It sounded far off, it sounded as if the sound weren't coming
from our ambulance. We were on the way to the county hospital, all of us.
The poor. The chariy cases. There was something different wrong with all of
us and many7 of us would not be coming back. The one thing we had in common
was that we were all poor and didn't have much of a chance. We were packed
in there. I never realized that an ambulance could hold so many people.
"Good Lord, oh good Lord," I heard the voice of a black woman below me,
"I never thought this would happen to ME! I never thought nothing like this
I didn't feel that way about it. I had been playing with death for some
time. I can't say we were the best of friends but we were well acquainted.
He had moved a little close a little fast on me that night. There had been
warnings: pains like swords stuck in my stom- ach but I had ignored them. I
had thought I was a tough guy and pain to me was just like bad luck: I
ignored it. I just poured whiskey on top of the pain and went about my
business. My business was getting drunk. The whiskey had done it; I should
have stayed on the wine.
Blood that comes from the inside is not the bright red color that
comes, say, from a cut on the finger. The blood from inside is dark, a
purple, almost black, and it stinks, it stinks worse than shit. all that
life giving fluid, it smelled worse than a beer shit.
I felt another vomiting spasm coming on. It was the same feeling as
throwing up food and when the blood came out, one felt better. But it was
only an illusion-each mouthful out brought one closer to Pappa Death.
"O good Lord God, I never thought-"
The blood came up and I held it in my mouth. I didn't know what to do.
Up there on the upper tier I would have wetted my friends down quite good. I
held the blood in my mouth trying to think about what to do. The ambulance
turned a corner and the blood began to dribble out the corners of my mouth.
Well, a man had to maintain decencies even while he was dying. I got myself
together, closed my eyes and swallowed my blood back down. I was sickened.
But I had solved the problem. I only hoped we got some- place soon where I
could let the next one go.
Really, there wasn't any thought of dying; the only thoughts I had were
(was) one: this is a terrible convenience, I am no longer in control of what
is happening. They narrowed down your choices and pushed you around.
The ambulance got there and then I was on a table and they were asking
me questions: what was my religion? Where was I born? did I owe the country
any $$$ from earlier trips to the hospital? when was I born? Parents alive?
Married? all that, you know. They talk to a man as if he had all his
faculties; they don't even pretend that you are dying. And they are hardly
in a hurry. It does have a calming effect but that's not their reason: they
are simply bored and they don't care whether you die, fly or fart. No, they
rather you didn't fart.
Then I was on an elevator and the door opened into what appeared to be
a dark cellar. I was rolled out. They placed me on a bed and left. An
orderly appeared out of nowhere and gave me a small white pill.
"Take this," he said. I swallowed the pill and he handed me a glass of
water and then vanished. It was the kindest thing that had happened to me in
some time. I leaned back and noticed my sur- roundings. There were 8 or ten
beds, all occupied by male Ameri- cans. We each had a tin bucket of water
and a glass on the night stand. The sheets seemed clean. It was very dark in
there and cold, much the feeling of an apartment house cellar. There was one
small light bulb, unshaded. Next to me was a huge man, he was old, in his
mid fifties, but he was huge; although much of the hugeness was fat, he did
give off the feeling of much strength. He was strapped down in his bed. He
stared straight up and spoke to the ceiling.
"-and he was such a nice boy, such a clean nice boy, he needed the job,
he said he needed the job, and I said, 'I like your looks, boy, we need a
good fry cook, a good honest fry cook, and I can tell an honest face, boy, I
can tell character, you work with me and my wife and you got a job here for
life, boy-' and he said, 'All right, sir,' just like that he said it and he
looked happy about getting' that job and I said, 'Martha, we got us a good
boy here, a nice clean cut boy, he ain't gonna tap the till like the rest of
those dirty sons of bitches.' Well, I went out and got a good buy on
chickens, a real good buy on chickens. Martha can do more things with a
chick- en, she's got that magic touch with chicken. Col. Sanders can't touch
her with a 90 foot pole. I went out and bought 20 chickens for that weekend.
We are going to have a good weekend, a chicken special. 20 chickens I went
out and got. We were going to put Col. Sanders out of business. A good
weekend like that, you can pull 200 bucks clear profit. That boy even helped
us pluck and cut those chickens, he did it on his own time. Martha and I
didn't have no children. I was really taking a liking to that boy. Well,
Martha fixed the chicken in the back, she got all that chicken ready-we had
chicken 19 different ways, we had chicken coming out of our assholes. All
the boy had to do was cook up the other stuff like burgers and steak and so
forth. The chicken was set. And by god, we had a big weekend. Friday night,
Saturday and Sunday. That boy was a good worker, and pleasant too. He was
nice to be around. He made these funny jokes. He called me Col. Sanders and
I called him son. Col. Sanders and Son, that's what we were. When we closed
Saturday night we were all tired but happy. Every damned bit of chicken was
gone. The place had been packed, people waitin' on seats, you never saw any-
thing like it. I locked the door and got out a 5th of good whiskey and we
sat there, tired and happy, having a few drinks. The boy washed all the
dishes and swept the floor. He said, 'All right, Col. Sanders, when do I
report tomorrow?' He smiled. I told him 6:30 a.m. and he got his cap and
left. 'That's a hell of a nice boy, Martha,' I said and then I walked over
to the till to count the profits. The till was EMPTY! That's right, I said,
'The til was EMPTY!' And the cigar box with the other 2 days profit, he
found that too. Such a clean cut boy-I don't understand it-I said he could
have a job for life, that's what I told him. 20 chickens-Martha really knows
her chickens-And that boy, that dirty chickenshit, he ran off with all that
damned money, that boy-"
Then he screamed. I've heard a great many people scream but I've never
heard anybody scram like that. He rose up against his straps and screamed.
It looked as if those straps were going to break. The whole bed rattled, the
wall roared the scream back at us. The man was in total agony. It wasn't a
short scream. It was a long one and it went on and on. Then he stopped. We 8
or ten male Ameri- cans, ill, stretched in our beds and enjoyed the silence.
Then he began talking again. "He was such a nice boy, I liked his
looks. I told him he could have the job for life. He made these funny jokes,
he was nice to be around. I went out and got those 20 chickens. 20 chickens.
On a good weekend you can clear 200. We had 20 chickens. The boy called me
I leaned out of bed and vomited out a mouthful of blood-
The next day a nurse came out and got me and helped me on a rolling
platform. I was still vomiting up blood and was quite weak. She rolled me on
The technician got behind his machine. They poked a point into my belly
and told me to stand there. I felt very weak.
"I'm too weak to stand up," I said.
"Just stand there," said the technician.
"I don't think I can," I said.
I felt myself slowly beginning to fall over backwards.
"I'm falling." I said.
"Don't fall." He said.
"Hold still," said the nurse.
I fell over backwards. I felt as if I were made of rubber. There was no
feeling when I hit the floor. I felt very light. I probably was.
"Oh god damn it!" said the technician.
The nurse helped me up and stood me up against the machine with this
point jamming into my stomach.
"I can't stand it," I said, "I think I'm dying. I can't stand up. I'm
sorry but I can't stand up."
"Stand still," said the technician, "just stand there."
"Stand still," said the nurse.
I could feel myself falling. I fell over backwards.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"God damn you!" the technician screamed, "you made me waste two films!
Those god damned films cost money!"
"I'm sorry," I said.
"Take him out of here," said the technician.
The nurse helped my up and put me back on the roller. The humming nurse
rolled me back to the elevator, humming.
They did take me out of that cellar and put me into a large room, a
very large room. There were about 40 people dying in there. The wires to the
buttons had been cut and large wooden doors, thick wooden doors coated with
slabs of tin on both sides closed up away from the nurses and the doctors.
They had put the sides up around my bed and I was asked to use the bedpan
but I didn't like the bedpan, especially to vomit blood into and far less to
shit into. If a man ever invents a comfortable and usable bedpan he will be
hated by doctors and nurses for eternity and beyond.
I kept having a desire to shit but not much luck. Of course, all I was
getting was milk and the stomach was ripped open so it had offered me some
tough roast beef with half-cooked carrots and half-mashed potatoes. I
refused. I knew they just wanted another empty bed. Anyhow, there was still
this desire to shit. Strange. It was my second or third night in there. I
was very weak. I managed to unattach one side and get out of bed. I made it
to the crapper and sat there. I strained and sat there and strained. Then I
got up. Noth- ing. Just a little whirlpool of blood. Then a merry-go-round
started in my head and I leaned against the wall with one hand and vomited
up a mouthful of blood. I flushed the toilet and walked out. I got halfway
to my bed and another mouthful came up. I fell. Then on the floor I vomited
up another mouthful of blood. I didn't know that there was so much blood
inside of people. I let go another mouthful.
"You son of a bitch," an old man hollered at me from his bed, "shut up
so we can get some sleep."
"Sorry, comrade," I said, and then I was unconscious-
The nurse was angry. "You bastard," she said, "I told you not to take
down the sides of your bed. You fuckin' creeps sure make my night a drag!"
"your pussy stinks," I told her, "you belong in a Tijuana whore house."
She lifted my head by the hair and slapped me hard across the left side
of my face and then backhanded me across the right.
"Take that back!" she said. "Take that back!"
"Florence Nightingale," I said, "I love you."
She put my head back down and walked out of the room. She was a lady of
true spirit and fire; I liked that. I rolled over into my own blood, getting
my smock wet. That'd teach her.
Florence Nightingale came back with another female sadist and they put
me in a chair and slid the chair across the room toward my bed.
"Too much god damned noise!" said the old man. He was right.
They got me back into bed and Florence put the bed side back up. "Son
of a bitch," she said. "stay in there now or next time I'm gonna lay on
"Suck me off," I said, "suck me off before you leave."
She leaned over the railing and looked into my face. I have a very
tragic face. It attracts some women. Her eyes were wide and passionate and
looked into mine. I pulled the sheet down and pulled up my smock. She spit
into my face, then walked out-
Then the head nurse was there.
"Mr. Bukowski," she said, "we can't let you have any blood. You don't
have any blood credit."
She smiled. She was letting me know that they were going to let me die.
"All right," I said.
"Do you want to see the priest?"
"We have on your admissions card that you are a Catholic."
"I just put that down."
"I used to be. You put down 'no religion', people always ask a lot of
"We have you down as Catholic, Mr. Bukowski."
"Listen, it's hard for me to talk. I'm dying. All right, all right, I'm
a Catholic, have it your way."
"We can't let you have any blood, Mr. Bukowski."
"Listen, my father works for the county. I think they have a blood
program. L.A. County Museum. A Mr. Henry Bukowski. He hates me."
"We'll check it out."
There was something about my papers going down while I was upstairs. I
didn't see a doctor until the fourth day and by then they found that my
father who hated me was a good guy who had a job and who had a drunken dying
son without a job and the good guy had given blood to the blood program and
so they hooked up a bottle and poured it to me. 13 pints of blood and 13
pints of glucose without stop. The nurse ran out of places to stick the
I awakened once and the priest was standing over me.
"Father," I said, "please go away. I can die without this."
"You want me to leave, my son?"
"Have you lost the faith?"
"Once a Catholic always a Catholic, my son."
An old man in the next bed said, "Father, Father, I'll talk to you. You
talk to me, Father."
The priest went over there. I waited to die. You know god damned well I
didn't die then or I wouldn't be telling you this now-
They moved me into a room with a black guy and a white guy. The white
guy kept getting fresh roses every day. He raised roses which he sold to
florists. He wasn't raising any roses right then. The black guy had busted
open like me. The white guy had a bad heart, a very bad heart. We lay around
and the white guy talked about breed- ing roses and raising roses and how he
could sure use a cigarette, my god, how he needed a cigarette. I had stopped
vomiting blood. Now I was just shitting blood. I felt like I had it made. I
had just emptied a pint of blood and they had taken the needle out.
"I'll get you some smokes, Harry."
"God, thanks, Hank."
I got out of bed. "Give me some money."
Harry gave me some change.
"If he smokes he'll die," said Charley. Charley was the black guy.
"Bullshit, Charley, a couple of little smokes never hurt any- body."
I walked out of the room and down the hall. There was a cigarette
machine in the waiting lobby. I got a pack and walked back. Then Charley and
Harry and I lay there smoking cigarettes. That was morning. About noon the
doctor came by and put a ma- chine on Harry. The machine spit and farted and
"You've been smoking, haven't you?" the doctor asked Harry.
"No doctor, honest, I haven't been smoking."
"Which one of you guys bought him these smokes?"
Charley looked at the ceiling. I looked at the ceiling.
"You smoke another cigarette and you're dead," said the doc- tor.
Then he took his machine and walked out. As soon as he left I took the
pack out from under the pillow.
"Lemme have one," said Harry.
"You heard what the doctor said," said Charley.
"Yeah," I said, exhaling a sheath of beautiful blue smoke, "you heard
what the doctor said: 'You smoke another cigarette and you're dead.'"
"I'd rather die happy than live in misery," said Harry.
"I can't be responsible for your death, Harry," I said, "I'm going to
pass these cigarettes to Charley and if he wants to give you one he can."
I passed them over to Charley who had the center bed.
"All right, Charley," said Harry, "let's have 'em."
"I can't do it, Harry, I can't kill you Harry."
Charley passed the cigarettes back to me.
"Come on, Hank, lemme have a smoke."
"Please, I beg you, man, just one smoke just one!"
"Oh, for Christ's sake!"
I threw him the whole pack. His had trembled as he took one out.
"I don't have any matches. Who's got matches?"
"Oh, for Christ's sake," I said.
I threw him the matches-
They came in and hooked me to another bottle. About ten minutes my
father arrived. Vicky was with him, so drunk she could hardly stand up.
"Lover!" she said, "Lover boy!"
She staggered up against the edge of the bed.
I looked at the old man. "You son of a bitch," I said, "you didn't have
to bring her up here drunk."
"I warned you not to get involved with a woman like that." "She's
broke. You bastard, you bought her whiskey, got her drunk and brought her up
"I told you she was no good, Henry. I told you she was a bad woman."
"Don't you love me anymore, lover boy?"
"Get her out of here- NOW!" I told the old man.
"No, no, I want you to see what kind of a woman you have."
"I know what kind of woman I have. Now get her out of here now, or so
help me Christ I'm going to pull this needle out of my arm and whip your
The old man moved her out. I fell back on my pillow.
"She's a looker," said Harry.
"I know," I said, "I know."
I stopped shitting blood and I was given a list of what to eat and I
was told that the first drink would kill me. They had also told me that I
would die without an operation. I had had a terrible argument with a female
Japanese doctor about operation and death. I had said "No operation" and she
had walked out, shaking her ass at me in anger. Harry was still alive when I
left, nursing his cigarettes. I walked along in the sunlight to see how it
felt. It felt all
right. The traffic went by. The sidewalk was as sidewalks had always
been. I was wondering whether to take a bus in or try to phone somebody to
come and get me. I walked into this place to phone. I sat down first and had
The bartender walked up and I ordered a bottle of beer.
"What's new?" he asked.
"Nothing much," I said. He walked off. I poured the beer into a glass,
then I looked at the glass a while and then I emptied half of it. Somebody
put a coin in the juke box and we had some music. life looked a little
better. I finished that glass, poured another and wondered if my pecker
would ever stand up again. I looked around the bar: no women. I did the next
best thing: I picked up the glass and drained it
-charles bukowski -
from the books: The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Erections,
Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness
**BEER AND POETS AND TALK**
it was a hell of a night. Willie had slept in the weeds outside
Bakersfield the night before. Dutch was there, and a buddy, the beer was on
me. I made sandwiches. Dutch kept talking about literature, poetry; I tried
to get him off it but he laid right in there. Dutch runs a bookshop around
Pasadena or Glendale or somewhere. then talk about the riots came up. they
asked me what I thought about the riots and I told them that I was waiting,
that the thoughts would have to come by themselves. it was nice to be able
to wait. Willie picked up one of my cigars, took the paper off, lit it.
Somebody said, "how come you're writing a column? you used to laugh at
Lipton for writing a column, now you're doing the same thing."
"Lipton writes a kind of left-wind Walter Winchell thing. I create Art.
There's a difference."
"hey, man, you got any ore of these green onions?" asked Willie.
I went into the kitchen for more green onions and beer. Willie was one
right out of the book---a book that hadn't been written yet. he was a mass
of hair, head and beard. bluejeans with patches. one week he was in Frisco.
2 weeks later he was in Albuquerque. then, somewhere else. He carried with
him, everywhere, this batch of poems he had accepted for his magazine.
whether the crazy maga zine ever evolved or not was anybody's guess. Willie
the Wire, slim, bouncy, immortal. he wrote very well. even when he put the
knock on somebody it was a kind of without hatred knock. he just laid the
statement down, then it was yours. a graceful carelessness.
I cracked some new beers. Dutch was still on literature. he had just
published "18th Dynasty Egyptian Automobile Turnon" by D. R. Wagner. and a
nice job too. Dutch's young buddy just listened --- he was the new breed:
quiet but very much there.
Willie worked on an onion. "I talked to Neal Cassady. he's gone
"yeah, he's begging for busts. it's stupid. building a forced myth.
being in Kerouac's book screwed up his mind."
"man," I said, "there's nothing like a bit of dirty literary gossip, is
"sure," said Dutch, "let's talk shop. everybody talks shop."
"listen, Bukowski, do you think that there's any poetry being written
now? by anybody? Lowell made time, you know."
"almost all the great names have died recently --- Frost, cum- mings,
Jeffers, W.C. Williams, T.S. Eliot, the rest. a couple of nights ago,
Sandburg. in a very short period, they all seemed to die to- gether, throw
in Vietnam and the ever-riots and it has been a very strange and quick and
festering and new age. look at those skirts now, almost up around the ass.
we are moving quickly and I like it, it is not bad. but the Establishment is
worried about its culture. culture is a steadier. there's nothing as good as
a museum, a Verdi opera or a stiff-neck poet to hold back progress. Lowell
was rushed into the breach, after a careful check of credentials. Lowell is
interesting enough not to put you to sleep but diffuse enough so as not to
be dangerous. the first thoughts you have after reading his work is, this
baby has never missed a meal or even had a flat tire or toothache. Creeley
is a near similarity, and I imagine the Establish- ment balanced Creely and
Lowell for some time but had to finally come up with Lowell because Creeley
just didn't seem like such a very good dull guy, and you couldn't trust him
as much --- he might even show up at the president's lawn party and tickle
the guests with his beard, so, it had to be Lowell, and so it's Lowell we've
"so who's writing it? where are they?"
"not in America. and there are only 2 that I can think of. Harold Norse
who is nursing his melancholia-hypochondria in Switz- erland, taking
handouts from rich backers, and having the running shits, fainting spells,
the fear of ants, so forth. and writing very little now, kind of going crazy
like the rest of us. but then WHEN he writes, it's all there. the other guy
is Al Purdy. not Al Purdy the novelist, I mean Al Purdy the poet. they are
not the same people. Al Purdy lives in Canada and grows his own grapes which
he squeezes Into his own wine. he is a drunk, an old hulk of a man who must
now be somewhere in his mid-forties. his wife supports him so he can write
his poetry, which, you've got to admit, is some wonderful kind of wife. I've
never met one like that or have you. but, anyhow, the Canadian government is
always laying some kind of grant on him, $4,000 here and there, and they
send him up to the Pole to write about life there, and he does it, crazy
clear poems about birds and people and dogs. god damn, he wrote a book of
poems once called "Songs for All the Annettes" and I almost cried all the
qay through the book reading it. it's nice to look up sometimes, it's nice
to have heroes, it's nice to have somebody else carrying some of the load."
"don't you think you write as well as they?"
"only at times. most of the time, no."
the beer ran out and I had to take a shit. I gave Willie a five and
told him it'd be good if he got 2 six packs, tall, Schlitz (this is an
advertisement), and all 3 of them left and I went in and sat down. it wasn't
bad to be more or less asked questions of the age. it was better yet to be
doing what I was doing. I thought about the hospi- tals, the racetracks,
some of the women I used to know, some of the women I had buried, outdrunk,
outfucked but not outargued. the lcoholic madwomen who had brought love to
me especially and in their own way. then I heard it though the wall:
"listen, Johnny, you ain't even kissed me in a week. what's wrong,
Johnny? listen, talk to me, I want you to talk to me."
"god damn you, get away from me. I don't want to talk to you. LEAVE ME
ALONE, WILL YOU? GOD DAMN YOU, LEAVE ME ALONE!"
"listen, Johnny, I just want you to talk to me, I can't stand it. you
don't have to touch me, just talk to me, jesus christ Johnny I can't stand
it, I CAN'T STAND IT, JESUS!"
"GOD DAMN IT, I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE, GOD DAMN
YOU, LEAVE ME ALONE, LEAVE ME ALONE, LEAVE ME ALONE, WILL YOU?"
he hit her a good one, a real good one. open hand. I almost fell off
the stool. I heard her choking the crap and walking off.
then Dutch and Willie and crew were back. they ripped open the cans. I
finished my business and walked back in.
"I'm gonna get up an anthology," said Dutch, "an anthology of the best
living poets, I mean the real best."
"sure," said Willie, "why not?" then he saw me: "enjoy your crap?"
"not too much."
"you need more roughage. you ought to eat more green onions."
"you think so?"
I reached over and got 2 of them, jammed them down. maybe next time
would be better. meanwhile there were riots, beer, talk, literature, and the
lovely young ladies were making the fat million- aires happy. I reached
over, got one of my own cigars, took off the paper, took off the cigar band,
jammed the thing into my screwed- up and complex face, then lit it, the
cigar. bad writing's like bad women: there's just not much you can do about
**THE GREAT ZEN WEDDING**
I was in the rear, stuck in with the Rumanian bread, liverwurst, beer,
soft drink; wearing a green necktie, first necktie since the death of my
father a decade ago. Now I was to be best man at a Zen wedding, Hollis
driving 85 m.p.h., Roy's four-foot beard flowing into my face. It was my '62
Comet, only I couldn't drive--- no insurance, two drunk-driving raps, and
already getting drunk. Hollis and Roy had lived unmarried for three years,
Hollis support- ing Roy. I sat in the back and sucked at my beer. Roy was
explain- ing Hollis' family to me one by one. Roy was better with the intel-
lectual shit. Or the tongue. The walls of their place were covered with
these many photos of guys bending into the muff and chewing.
Also a snap of Roy reaching climax while jacking off. Roy had done it
alone. I mean, tripped the camera. Himself. String. Wire. Some arrangement.
Roy claimed he had to jackoff six times in order to get the perfect snap. A
whole day's work: there it was: this milky glob: a work of art. Hollis
turned off the freeway. It wasn't too far. Some of the rich have driveways a
mile long. This one wasn't too bad: a quarter of a mile. We got out.
Tropical gardens. Four or five dogs. Big black woolly stupid slobbering-at-
the-mouth beasts. We never reached the door---there he was, the rich one,
standing on the veranda, looking down, drink in hand. And Roy yelled, "Oh,
Har- vey, you bastard, so good to see you!"
Harvey smiled the little smile: "Good to see you too, Roy."
One of the big black woollies was gobbling at my left leg. "Call your
dog off, Harvey, bastard, good to see you!" I screamed.
"Aristotle, now STOP that!"
Aristotle left off, just in time.
We went up and down the steps with the salami, the Hungarian pickled
catfish, the shrimp. Lobstertails. Bagels. Minced dove ass- holes.
Then we had it all in there. I sat down and grabbed a beer. I was the
only one with a necktie. I was also the only one who had bought a wedding
gift. I hid it between the wall and the Aristotle- chewed leg.
I stood up.
"Oh, Charles Bukowski!"
"This is Marty."
"And this is Elsie."
"Do you really, she asked, "break up furniture and windows, slash your
hands, all that, when you're drunk?"
"You're a little old for that."
"Now listen, Elsie, don't give me any shit-"
"And this is Tina."
I sat down.
Names! I had been married to my first wife for two-and-one- half years.
One night some people came in. I had told my wife: "This is Louie the half-
ass and this is Marie, Queen of the Quick Suck, and this is Nick, the half-
hobble." Then I had turned to them and said, "This is my wife- this is my
wife-this is-" I finally had to look at her and ask: "WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR
"This is Barbara," I had told them-
The Zen master hadn't arrived. I sat and sucked at my beer.
Then here came more people. On and on up the steps. All Hollis' family.
Roy didn't seem to have a family. Poor Roy. Never worked a day in his life.
I got another beer.
They kept coming up the steps: ex-cons, sharpies, cripples, Dealers in
various subterfuges, Family and friends. Dozens of them. No wedding
presents. No neckties.
I pushed further back into my corner.
One guy was pretty badly fucked-up. It took him 25 minutes to get up
the stairway. He had especially-made crutches, very power- ful looking
things with round bands for the arms. Special grips here and there. Aluminum
and rubber. No wood for that baby. I figured it: watered-down stuff or a bad
payoff. He had taken the slugs in the old barber chair with the hot and wet
shaving towel over his face. Only they'd missed a few vital spots.
There were others. Somebody taught class at UCLA. Some- body else ran
in shit through Chinese fishermen's boats via San Pedro Harbor.
I was introduced to the greatest killers and dealers of the century.
Me, I was between jobs.
Then Harvey walked up.
"Bukowski, care for a bit of scotch and water?"
"Sure, Harvey, sure."
We walked toward the kitchen.
"What's the necktie for?"
"The top of the zipper on my pants is broken. And my shorts are too
tight. End of necktie covers stinkhairs just above my cock."
I think that you are the modern living master of the short story.
Nobody touches you."
"Sure, Harvey. Where's the scotch.
"I always drink this kind since you always mention it in your short
"But I've switched brands now, Harv. I found some better stuff."
"What's the name of it?"
"Damned if I can remember."
I found a tall water glass, poured in half scotch, half water.
"For the nerves," I told him. "You know?"
I drank it straight down.
"How about a refill?"
I took the refill and walked to the front room, sat in my corner.
Meanwhile there was a new excitement: The Zen master had ARRIVED!
The Zen master had on this very fancy outfit and kept his eyes very
narrow. Or maybe that's the way they were.
The Zen master needed tables. Roy ran around looking for tables.
Meanwhile, the Zen master was very calm, very gracious. I downed my
drink, went in for a refill. Came back. A golden-haired kid ran in. About
eleven years old. "Bukowski, I've read some of your stories. I think that
you are the greatest writer I have ever read!"
Long blond curls. Glasses. Slim body.
"Okay, baby. You get old enough. We'll get married. Live off of your
money. I'm getting tired. You an just parade me around in a kind of glass
cage with little airholes in it. I'll let the young boys have you. I'll even
"Bukowski! Just because I have long hair, you think I'm a girl! My name
is Paul! We were introduced! Don't you remember?"
Paul's father, Harvey, was looking at me. I saw his eyes. Then I knew
that he had decided that I was not such a good writer after all. maybe even
a bad writer. Well, no man can hide forever.
But the little boy was all right: "That's okay, Bukowski! You are still
the greatest writer I have ever read! Daddy has let me read some of your
Then all the lights went out. That's what the kid deserved for his big
But there were candles everywhere. Everybody was finding candles,
walking around finding candles and lighting them.
"Shit, it's just a fuse. Replace the fuse," I said.
Somebody said it wasn't the fuse, it was something else, so I gave up
and while all the candle-lighting went on I walked into the kitchen for more
scotch. Shit, there was Harvey standing there.
"Ya got a beautiful son, Harvey. Your boy, Peter-"
"Sorry. The Biblical."
(The rich understand; they just don't do anything about it.)
Harvey uncorked a new fifth. We talked about Kafka. Dos. Turgenev,
Gogel. All that dull shit. Then there were candles every-where. The Zen
master wanted to get on with it. Roy had given me the two rings. I felt.
They were still there. Everybody was waiting on us. I was waiting for Harvey
to drop to the floor from drinking all that scotch. It wasn't any good. He
had matched me one drink for two and was still standing. That isn't done too
often. We had knocked off half a fifth in the ten minutes of candle-
lighting. We went out to the crowd. I dumped the rings on Roy. Roy had com-
municated, days earlier, to the Zen master that I was a drunk --- unreliable
--- either faint-hearted or vicious ---therefore, during the ceremony, don't
ask Bukowski for the rings because Bukowski might not be there. Or he might
lose the rings, or vomit, or lose Bukowski.
So here it was, finally. The Zen master began playing with his little
black book. It didn't look too thick. Around 150 pages, I'd say.
"I ask," said the Zen, "no drinking or smoking during the ceremony."
I drained my drink. I stood to Roy's right. Drinks were being drained
all over the place.
Then the Zen master gave a little chickenshit smile. I knew Christian
wedding ceremonies by the sad note of experience. And the Zen ceremony
actually resembled the Christian, with a small amount of horseshit thrown
in. Somewhere along the way, three small sticks were lit. Zen had a whole
box of the things --- two or three hundred. After the lighting, one stick
was places in the center of a jar of sand. That was the Zen stick. Then Roy
was asked to place his burning stick upon one side of the Zen stick, Hollis
asked to place hers on the other.
But the sticks weren't quite right. The Zen master, smiling a bit, had
to reach forward and adjust the sticks to new depths and elevations.
Then the Zen master dug out a circle of brown beads.
He handed the circle of beads to Roy.
"Now?" asked Roy.
Damn, I thought, Roy always read up on everything else. Why not his own
Zen reached forward, placed Hollis' right hand within Roy's left. And
the beads encircled both hands that way.
(This was Zen? I thought.)
"And do you, Hollis-"
Meanwhile, in the candlelight, there was some asshole taking hundreds
of photos of the ceremony. It made me nervous. It could have been the F.B.I.
"Plick! Plick! Plick!"
Of course, we were all clean. But it was irritating because it was
Then I noticed the Zen master's ears in the candlelight. The
candlelight shone through them as if they were made of the thinnest of
The Zen master had the thinnest ears of any man I had ever seen. That
was what made him holy! I had to have those ears! For my wallet or my tomcat
or my memory. Or for under the pillow.
Of course, I knew that it was all the scotch and water and all the beer
talking to me, and then, in another way, I didn't know that at all.
I kept staring at the Zen master's ears.
And there were more words.
"-and you Roy, promise not to take any drugs while in your relationship
There seemed to be an embarrassing pause. Then, their hands locked
together in the brown beads: "I promise," said Roy, "not to-"
Soon it was over. Or seemed over. The Zen master stood straight up,
smiling just a touch of a smile.
I touched Roy upon a shoulder: "Congratulations." Then I leaned over.
Took hold of Hollis' head, kissed her beautiful lips.
Still everybody sat there. A nation of subnormals.
Nobody moved. The candles glowed like subnormal candles.
I walked over to the Zen master. Shook his hand: "Thank you. you did
the ceremony quite well."
He seemed really pleased, which made me feel a little better. but the
rest of those gangsters --- old Tammany Hall and the Mafia: they were too
proud and stupid to shake hands with an Oriental. Only one other kissed
Hollis. Only one other shook the hand of the Zen master. It could have been
a shotgun wedding. All that family! Well, I'd be the last to know or the
last to be told.
Now that the wedding was over, it seemed very cold in there. They just
sat and stared at each other. I could never comprehend the human race, but
somebody had to play clown. I ripped off my green necktie, flipped it into
"HEY! YOU COCKSUCKERS! ISN'T ANYBODY HUN- GRY?"
I walked over and started grabbing at cheese, pickled-pigs' feet and
chicken cunt. A few stiffly warmed up, walked over and grabbed at the food,
not knowing what else to do.
I got them to nibbling. Then I left and hit for the scotch and water.
As I was in the kitchen, refilling, I heard the Zen master say, "I must
"Oooh, don't leave-" I heard an old, squeaky and female voice from
among the greatest gangland gathering in three years. And even she didn't
sound as if she meant it. What was I doing in with these? Or the UCLA prof?
No, the UCLA prof belonged there.
There must be a repentance. Or something. Some action to humanize the
As soon as I heard the Zen master close the front door, I drained my
waterglass full of scotch. Then I ran out through the candlelit room of
jabbering bastards, found the door (that was a job, for a moment), and I
opened the door, closed it, and there I was- about 15 steps behind Mr. Zen.
We still had 45 or 50 steps to go to get down to the parking lot.
I gained upon him, lurching, two steps to his one.
I screamed: "Hey, Masta!"
Zen turned. "Yes, old man?"
We both stopped and looked at each other on that winding stairway there
in the moonlit tropical garden. It seemed like a time for a closer
Then I told him: "I either want bother your motherfucking ears or your
motherfucking outfit --- that neon-lighted bathrobe you're wearing!"
"old man, you are crazy!"
"I thought Zen had more moxie than to make unmitigated and offhand
statements. You disappoint me, Masta!"
Zen placed his palms together and looked upward.
I told him, "I either want you motherfucking outfit or your
He kept his palms together, while looking upward.
I plunged down the steps, missing a few but still flying for- ward,
which kept me from cracking my head open, and as I fell downward toward him,
I tried to swing, but I was all momentum, like something cut loose without
direction. Zen caught me and straightened me.
"My son, my son-"
We were in close. I swung. Caught a good part of him. I heard him hiss.
He stepped one step back. I swung again. Missed. Went way wide left. Fell
into some imported plants from hell. I got up. Moved toward him again. And
in the moonlight, I saw the front of my own pants --- splattered with blood,
candle-drippings and puke.
"You've met you master, bastard!" I notified him as I moved toward him.
He waited. The years of working as a factotum had not left muscles entirely
lax. I gave him one deeply into the gut, all 230 pounds of my body behind
Zen let out a short gasp, once again supplicated the sky, said
something in the Oriental, gave me a short karate chop, kindly, and left me
wrapped within a series of senseless Mexican cacti and what appeared to be,
from my eye, man-eating plants from the inner Brazilian jungles. I relaxed
in the moonlight until this purple flower seemed to gather toward my nose
and began to delicately pinch out my breathing.
Shit, it took at least 150 years to break into the Harvard Classics.
There wasn't any choice: I broke loose from the thing and started crawling
up the stairway again. Near the top, I mounted to my feet, opened the door
and entered. Nobody noticed me. They were still talking shit. I flopped into
my corner. The karate shot had opened a cut over my left eyebrow. I found my
"Shit! I need a drink!" I hollered.
Harvey came up with one. All scotch. I drained it. Why was it that the
buzz of human beings talking could be so senseless? I no- ticed the woman
who had been introduced to me as the bride's mother was now showing plenty
of leg, and it didn't look bad, all that long nylon with the expensive
stiletto heels, plus the little jewel tips down near the toes. It could give
an idiot the hots, and I was only half-idiot.
I got up, walked over to the bride's mother, ripped her skirt back to
her thighs, kissed her quickly upon her pretty knees and began to kiss my
The candlelight helped. Everything.
"Hey!" she awakened suddenly, "whatcha think you're do- ing?"
"I'm going to fuck the shit out of you, I am going to fuck you until
the shit falls outa your ass! Whatch thinka that?"
She pushed and I fell backwards upon the rug. Then I was flat upon my
back, thrashing, trying to get up.
"Damned Amazon!" I screamed at her.
Finally, three or four minutes later I managed to get to my feet.
Somebody laughed. The, finding my feet flat upon the floor again, I made for
the kitchen. Poured a drink, drained it. Then poured a refill and walked
There they were: all the goddamned relatives.
"Roy or Hollis?" I asked. "Why don't you open your wedding gift?"
"Sure," said Roy, "why not?"
The gift was wrapped in 45 yards of tinfoil. Roy just kept unrolling
the foil Finally, he got it all undone.
"Happy marriage!" I shouted.
They all saw it. The room was very quiet.
It was a little handcrafted coffin done by the best artisans in Spain.
It even had the pinkish-red felt bottom. It was the exact replica of a
larger coffin, except perhaps it was done with more love.
Roy gave me his killer's look, ripped off the tag of instructions on
how to keep the wood polished, threw it inside the coffin and closed the
It was very quiet. The only gift hadn't gone over. But they soon
gathered themselves and began talking shit again.
I became silent. I had really been proud of my little casket. I had
looked for hours for a gift. I had almost gone crazy. Then I had seen it on
the shelf, all alone. Touched the outsides, turned it up- side-down, then
looked inside. The price was height but I was paying for the perfect
craftsmanship. The wood. The little hinges. All. At the same time, I needed
some ant-killer spray. I found some Black Flag in the back of the store. The
ants had built a nest under my front door. I took the stuff to the counter.
There was a young girl there, I set the stuff in front of her. I pointed to
"You know what that is?"
"That's a casket!"
I opened it up and showed it to her.
"These ants are driving me crazy. Ya know what I'm going to do?"
"I'm going to kill all those ants and put them in this casket and bury
She laughed. "You've saved my whole day!"
You can't put it past the young ones anymore; they are an entirely
superior breed. I paid and got out of there-
But now, at the wedding, nobody laughed. A pressure cooker done up with
a red ribbon would have left them happy. Or would it have? Harvey, the rich
one, finally, was kindest of all. Maybe because he could afford to be kind?
Then I remembered something out of my readings, something from the ancient
"Would you rather be rich or an artist?"
"I'd rather be rich, for it seems that the artist is always sitting on
the doorsteps of the rich."
I sucked at the fifth and didn't care anymore. Somehow, the next thing
I knew, it was over. I was in the back seat of my own car, Hollis driving
again, the beard of Roy flowing into my face again. I sucked at my fifth.
"Look, did you guys throw my little casket away? I love you both, you
know that! Why did you throw my little casket away?"
"Look, Bukowski! Here's your casket!"
Roy held it up to me, showed it to me.
"You want it back?"
"No! No! My gift to you! Your only gift! Keep it! Please!"
The remainder of the drive was fairly quiet. I lived in a front court
near Hollywood (of course). Parking was mean. Then they found a space about
a half a block from where I lived. They parked my car, handed me the keys.
Then I saw them walk across the street toward their own car. I watched them,
turned to walk toward my place, and while still watching them and holding to
the remainder of Harvey's fifth, I tripped one shoe into a pantscuff and
went down. As I fell backwards, my first instinct was to protect the
remainder of that good fifth from smashing against the cement (mother with
baby), and as I fell backwards I tried to hit with my shoulders, holding
both head and bottle up. I saved the bottle but the head flipped back into
the sidewalk, BASH!
They both stood and watched me fall. I was stunned almost into
insensibility but managed to scream across the street at them: "Roy! Hollis!
Help me to my front door, please I'm hurt!"
They stood a moment, looking at me. Then they got into their car,
started the engine, leaned back and neatly drove off.
I was being repaid for something. The casket? Whatever it had been ---
the use of my car, or me as clown and/or best man-my use had been outworn.
The human race had always disgusted me. essentially, what made them
disgusting was the family-relationship illness, which included marriage,
exchange of power and aid, which neighborhood, your district, your city,
your county, your state, your nation-everybody grabbing each other's
assholes in the Honeycomb of survival out of a fear-animalistic stupidity.
I got it all there, I understood it as they left me there, pleading.
Five more minutes, I thought. If I can lay here five more minutes
without being bothered I'll get up and make it toward my place, get inside.
I was the last of the outlaws. Billy the Kid had nothing on me. Five more
minutes. Just let me get to my cave. I'll mend. Next time I'm asked to one
of their functions, I'll tell them where to put it. Five minutes. That's all
Two women walked by. They turned and looked at me.
"Oh, look at him. What's wrong?"
"He's not sick, is he?"
"No, look how he holds to that bottle. Like a little baby."
Oh shit. I screamed up at them:
"I'LL SUCK BOTH YOUR SNATCHES! I'LL SUCK BOTH YOUR SNATCHES DRY, YOU
They both ran into the high-rise glass apartment. Through the glass
door. And I was outside unable to get up, best man to some- thing. All I had
to do was make it to my place --- 30 yards away, as close as three million
light years. Thirty yards from a rented front door. Tow more minutes and I
could get up. Each time I tried it, I got stronger. An old drunk would
always make it, given enough time. One minute. One minute more. I could have
Then there they were. Part of the insane family structure of the World.
Madmen, really, hardly questioning what made them do what they did. They
left their double-red light burning as they parked. Then got out. One had a
"Bukowski," said the one with the flashlight, "you just can't seem to
keep out of trouble, can you?"
He knew my name from somewhere, other times.
"Look," I said, "I just stumbled. Hit my head. I never lose my sense of
my coherence. I'm not dangerous. Why don't you guys help me to my doorway?
It's 30 yards away. Just let me fall upon my bed and sleep it off. Don't you
think, really, that would be the really decent thing to do?"
"Sir, two ladies reported you as trying to rape them."
"Gentlemen, I would never attempt to rape two ladies at the same time."
The one cop kept flashing his stupid flashlight into my face. It gave
him a great feeling of superiority.
"Just 30 yards to Freedom! Can't you guys understand that?"
"You're the funniest show in town, Bukowski! Give us a better alibi
"Well, let's see - this thing you see sprawled here on the pavement is
the end-product of a wedding, a Zen wedding."
"You mean some woman really tried to marry you?"
"Not me, you asshole-"
The cop with the flashlight brought it down across my nose.
"We ask respect toward officers of the law."
"Sorry. For a moment I forgot."
The blood ran down along my throat and then toward and upon my shirt. I
was very tired - of everything.
"Bukowski," asked the one who had just used the flashlight, "why can't
you stay out of trouble?"
"Just forget the horseshit," I said, "let's go off to jail."
They put on the cuffs and threw me into the back seat. Same sad old
They drove along slowly, speaking of various possible and in- sane
things - like, about having the front porch widened, or a pool, or an extra
room in the back for Granny. And when it came to sports - these were real
men - the Dodgers still had a chance, even with the two or three other teams
right in there with them. Back to the family - if the Dodgers won, they won.
If a man landed on the moon, they landed on the moon. But let a starving man
ask them a dime - no identification, fuck you, shithead. I mean, when they
were in civvies. There hasn't been a starving man yet who ever asked a cop
for a dime. Our record is clear.
Then I was, once again, in this type of long line of the some- how
guilty. The young guys didn't know what was coming. They were mixed up with
this thing called THE CONSTITUTION and their RIGHTS. The young cops, both in
the city tank and the coun- ty tank, got their training on the drunks. They
had to show they had it. While I was watching they took one guy in an
elevator and rode him up and down, up and down, and when he got out, you
hardly knew who he was, or what he had been - a black screaming about Human
Rights. Then they got a white guy, screaming something about CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS; four or five of them got him, and they rushed him off his feet so
fast he couldn't walk, and when they brought him back they leaned him
against a wall, and he just stood there trembling, these red welts all over
his body, he stood there trembling and shivering.
I got my photo taken all over again. Fingerprinted all over again.
They took me down to the drunk tank, opened that door. After that, it
was just a matter of looking for floorspace among the 150 men in the room.
One shitpot. Vomit and piss everywhere. I found a spot among my fellow men.
I was Charles Bukowski, fea- tured in the literary archives of the
University of California at Santa Barbara. Somebdy there thought I was a
genius. I stretched out on the boards. Heard a young voice. A boy's voice.
"Mista, I'll suck your dick for a quarter!"
They were supposed to take all your change, bills, ident, keys, knives,
so forth, plus cigarettes, and then you had the property slip. Which you
either lost or sold or had stolen from you. But there was always still money
and cigarettes about.
"Sorry, lad," I told him, "They took my last penny."
Four hours later I managed to sleep.
Best man at a Zen wedding, and I'd bet they, the bride and groom,
hadn't even fucked that night. But somebody had been.
**AN EVIL TOWN**
Frank walked down the steps. He didn't like elevators. He didn't like
many things. He disliked steps less than he disliked elevators.
The desk clerk called to him: "Mr. Evans! Would you step over here,
The desk clerk's face looked like cornmeal mush. It was all Frank could
do to keep from hitting him. The desk clerk looked about the lobby, then
leaned very close.
"Mr. Evans, we've been watching you."
The desk clerk again looked about the lobby, saw that there wasn't
anybody near, then leaned forward again.
"Mr. Evans, we've been watching you and we believe that you're losing
The desk clerk leaned back then and looked right at Frank.
"I feel like going to a movie," said Frank. "You know of any good
movies in town?
"Let's stick to the subject, Mr. Evans."
"O.k., I'm losing my mind. Anything else?"
The clerk reached under the counter and came up with some- thing
wrapped in cellophane.
"Here it is, Mr. Evans."
Frank dropped it in his coat pocket and walked outside. It was a cool
autumn night and he walked down the street, west. He stopped at the first
alley, stepped in. He reached into his coat and got the wrapped-up thing,
peeled the cellophane off. It looked like cheese. It smelled like cheese. He
took a bite. It tasted like cheese. He ate it all, then stepped out of the
alley and walked down the street again.
He turned into the first movie house he saw, bought his ticket and
walked into the darkness. He took a seat in the back. There weren't many
people in there. The whole place smelled like urine. The women on the screen
dressed as they did in the '20's and the men wore vaseline on their hair,
combed it back hard and straight. Their noses seemed very long and the men
also seemed to have mascara under their eyes. It wasn't even a talkie. Words
showed under the film: BLANCHE WAS NEW IN THE BIG CITY. A guy with straight
greasy hair was making Blanche drink from a bottle of gin. Blanche appeared
to be getting drunk. BLANCHE GREW DIZZY. SUDDENLY HE KISSED HER.
Frank looked around. Everywhere heads seemed to be bob- bing. There
weren't any women in the place. The guys seemed to be sucking each other
off. They went at it and at it. They never seemed to get tired. The men
sitting alone seemed to be jacking-off. The cheese had been good. He wished
the clerk had given him more cheese.
HE BEGAN TO DISROBE BLANCHE.
And every time he looked around this guy was getting nearer to him.
Then when Frank looked back at the movie the guy would move 2 or 3 seats
nearer to him.
HE MADE LOVE TO BLANCHE WHILE SHE WAS HELP- LESSLY INTOXICATED.
He looked again. The guy was 3 seats away. Breathing heavily. Then the
guy was in the seat next to him.
"Oh shit," the guy said, "O, mys shit, ooo,ooo,oooo. ah, ah! eeeyew!
WHEN BLANCHE AWAKENED THE NEXT MORNING SHE REALIZED THAT SHE HAD BEEN
The guy smelled as if he had never wiped his ass. The guy was leaning
toward him, bits of spit drooling from the sides of his mouth.
Frank hit the button of the switchblade:
"Careful!" he told the guy. "You get any closer you might hurt yourself
"Oh, my god!" said the guy. He got up and ran down the row of seats to
the aisle, then walked quickly down the aisle to the front row. Two guys
were at it. One guy was jacking-off the other guy as the guy went down on
him. The guy who had been bothering Frank sat there and watched them.
SOON AFTER, BLANCHE WAS IN A HOUSE OF PROSTI- TUTION.
Then Frank had to urinate. He got up and walked toward the sign: MEN.
He went in. It really stank in there. He gagged, opened the toilet door,
went in. He took out his penis and started to piss. Then he heard some
"Ooooh ooooh, you filthy fuck!" said the guy. "ooh you beasly fiendish
piece of shit!"
He heard the guy ripping off toilet paper and wiping his face. Then the
guy began to cry. Frank stepped out of the toilet, washed his hands. He
didn't want to see any more of the movie. Then he was out on the street,
walking back toward his hotel. Then he was in the lobby. The desk clerk
nodded him over.
"Yeah?" asked Frank.
"Look, Mr. Evans, I'm sorry. I was just kidding you."
"No, I don't know."
"Well, about losing your mind. I've been drinking, you know. Don't tell
anybody or I'll lose my job. But I've been drinking. I know that you're not
losing your mind. I was just joking."
"But I am losing my mind," said Frank, "and thanks for the cheese."
Then he turned and walked up the stairway. When he got to his room he
sat down at the writing desk. He took out the switch- blade, hit the button,
looked at the knifeblade. It was well sharp- ened down one entire side. It
could stab or slice. He hit the button and put the knife back in his pocket.
Then Frank found pen and paper and began to write:
This is an evil town. The Devil is in control. Sex is everywhere and it
is not being used as an instrument of Beauty as God meant it to be, but as
an instrument of Evil. Yes, it has most certainly fallen into the devil's
hands, into Evil hands. Young girls are forced to drink gin, then they are
deflowered by these beasts and forced into houses of prostitution. It is
terrible. It is unbelievable. My heart is torn.
I walked along the shore yesterday. Not along the shore, real- ly, but
up along on top of cliffs and then I stopped and sat there while breathing
in the Beauty. The sea, the sky, the sand. Life be- came the Eternal Bliss.
Then a most miraculous thing happened. 3 small squirrels saw me from way
down below and they began to climb the cliffs. I saw their little faces
peeking at me from behind rocks and crevices in the cliffs as they climbed
toward me. Finally they were at my feet. Their eyes looked at me. Never,
Mother, have I seen more beautiful eyes - undiluted by Sin: the whole sky,
the whole sea, Eternity was in those eyes. Finally I moved and they-"
There was a knock on the door. Frank got up, walked over, opened it. It
was the desk clerk.
"Mr. Evans, please, I must speak to you."
"All right, come in."
The desk clerk closed the door and stood in front of Frank. The desk
clerk smelled like wine.
"Mr. Evans, please don't tell management about our misunder- standing."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You're a great guy, Mr. Evans. You know, I've been drink- ing."
"You are forgiven. Now go."
"Mr. Evans, there's something I've got to tell you."
"Very well. What is it?"
"I'm in love with you, Mr. Evans."
"Oh, you mean my spirit, eh, my boy?"
"No, your body, Mr. Evans."
"Your body, Mr. Evans. Please don't be offended, but I want you to ream
"REAM ME, Mr. Evans! I've been reamed by half the United States Navy!
Those boys know what's good, Mr. Evans. There's nothing like a bit of clean
"You will leave my room immediately!"
The desk clerk threw his arms about Frank's neck, then his mouth was on
Frank's mouth. The desk clerk's mouth was very wet and cold, it stank. Frank
pushed him away.
"You rotten bastard! YOU KISSED ME!"
"I love you, Mr. Evans!"
"You filthy swine!"
Frank had the knife, hit the button, the blade jumped out and he stuck
it into the desk clerk's stomach. Then pulled it out.
"Mr. Evans- my god-"
The clerk fell to the floor. He was holding both hands over the wound
trying to stop the blood.
"You bastard! YOU KISSED ME!"
Frank reached down and unzipped the desk clerk's fly. Then he got the
clerk's penis, pulled it straight up toward him and sliced it off three-
quarters of the way down.
"Oh, my god my god my god my god-" said the clerk.
Frank walked to the bathroom, took the thing and threw it into the
toilet. Then he flushed the toilet. Then he washed his hands very well with
soap and water. He came out, sat down to the disk again. He picked up the
"-ran away but I had seen Eternity.
Mother, I must move from this city, from this hotel - the Devil is in
control of almost all the bodies. I will write you again from the next city
- perhaps San Francisco, Portland or Seattle. I feel like moving north. I
think of you continually and hope that you are happy and in good health, and
may the Lord be with you always.
He wrote the address on the envelope, sealed it, added stamp and then
walked over and put it in the inside pocket of his coat which was hanging in
the closet. Then he took a suitcase from the closet, put it on the bed,
opened it and began to pack.
TWELVE FLYING MONKEYS WHO WON'T COPULATE PROPERLY
The bell rings and I open the side window by the door. It is
night. "Who is it?" I ask.
Somebody walks up to the window but I can't see the face. I
have two lights over the typewriter. I slam the window but there is
talking out there. I sit down to the typewriter but there is still
talking out there. I get up and rip open the door and scream:
"I TOLD YOU COCKSUCKERS NOT TO BOTHER ME!"
I look around and there is one guy standing on the bottom of
the steps and another guy standing on the porch, pissing; He is
pissing into a bush to the left of the porch, standing on the edge of
the porch, his piss arching in a heavy swath, upward and then down
into the bush.
"Hey, this guy is pissing into my bush," I say.
the guy laughs and keeps pissing. I grab him by the pants, pick
him up and throw him, still pissing, over the top of the bush and
into the night. He doesn't return. The other guy says, "What did you
do that for?"
"I felt like it."
"Drunk?" I ask.
He walks around the corner and is gone. I close the door and sit
down to the typer again. All right, I have this mad scientist, he's
taught monkeys to fly, he's got eleven monkey's with these wings.
The monkeys are very good. The scientist has even taught them to
race. Race around these pylons, yes. Now let's see. Gotta make it
good. To get rid of a story you gotta have fucking, lots of it, if
possible. Better make it twelve monkeys, six male and six of the
other kind. All right now. Here they go. There they go around the first
pylon. How am I going to get them to fucking? I
haven't sold a story in two months. I should have stayed in the
goddamned post office. All right. There they go. Around the first
pylon. Maybe they just fly off. Suddenly. How about that? They fly
to Washington, D.C. and hang around the Capitol dropping turds on
the public, pissing on them, smearing their turds across the White
House. Can I have one drop a turd on the President? No, that's
asking too much. Okay, make it a turd on the Secretary of State.
Orders are given to shoot them out of the sky. That's tragic, isn't it?
But what about the fucking? All right. All right. Work it in. Let's
see. Okay, ten of them are shot out of the sky, poor little things.
There are only two others. A male and one other kind. They can't
seem to be found. Then a cop is walking through the park one night,
and there they are, the last two of them, wings strapped on, fucking
like the devil. The cop walks up. The male hears, turns his head,
looks up, gives a silly little monkey-grin, never missing a stroke,
turns his head and goes back to banging. The cop blows his head off.
The monkey's head, that is. The female flips the male off in disgust
and stands up. For a monkey, she is a pretty little thing. For a
moment the cop thinks of, thinks of - But no, it would be too tight,
maybe, and she might bite, maybe. While he's thinking this, the
bullet, she falls. He runs up. She is wounded but not dead. The cop
looks around, lifts her up, takes it out, tries to work it in. No good.
Just room for the head. Shit. He drops her to the ground, puts his
gun to her brain and B A M! it's over.
The bell rings again.
I open the door.
Three guys walk in. Always these guys. A woman never pisses
on my porch, a woman hardly ever comes by. How am I going to get
any sex ideas? I have almost forgotten how to do it. But they say it's
like riding a bicycle, you never forget. It's better than riding a bi-
It's Crazy Jack and two guys I don't know.
"Look, Jack," I say, "I thought I was rid of you."
Jack just sits down. The other two guys sit down. Jack has
promised me never to come by again but he is on the wine most of
the time, so promises don't mean much. He lives with his mother
and pretends to be a painter. I know four or five guys living with or
supported by their mother, and the guys pretend to genius. And all
the mothers are alike: "Oh, Nelson has a painting hanging at the
Warner-Finch Galleries this week. His genius is being recognized at
last! He's asking $4,000 for the work. Do you think that's too
much?" Nelson, Jack, Biddy, Norman, Jimmy and Ketya, Fuck.
Jack has on blue jeans, is barefooted, no shirt, undershirt, just
a brown shawl thrown over him. One guy has a beard and grins and
blushes continually. The other guy is just fat. Some kind of leech.
"Have you seen Borst lately?" Jack asks.
"Let me have one of your beers."
"No. You guys come around, drink all my shit, split and leave
me on a dry shore."
He leaps up, runs out and gets his wine bottle which he has
hidden under the cushion on the porch chair. He comes back, takes
off the lid, takes a suck.
"I was down at Venice with this chick and one hundred rain-
bows. I thought I spotted the heat and I ran up to Borst's place with
this chick and the hundred rainbows. I knocked on the door and
told him, "Quick, let me in! I've got one hundred rainbows and the
heat is right behind me!" Borst closed the door, I kicked it in and ran
in with the chick. Borst was on the floor, jacking off some guy. I ran
into the bathroom with the chick and locked the door. Borst
knocked. I said, "Don't you dare come in here!" I stayed in there
with the chick for about an hour. We knocked off two pieces of ass
to amuse ourselves. Then we came out."
"Did you dump the rainbows?"
"Hell no, it was a false alarm. But Borst was very angry."
"Shit," I say, "Borst hasn't written a decent poem since 1955.
His mother supports him. Pardon me. But I mean, all he does is look
at TV, eat these delicate little celeries and greens and jog along the
beach in his dirty underwear. He used to be a fine poet when he was
living with those young boys in Arabia. But I can't sympathize. A
winner goes wire to wire. It's like Huxley said, Aldous, that is, 'Any
man can be a-'"
"How you doing?" Jack asks.
"Nothing but rejects," I say.
The one guy begins playing the flute. The leech just sits there
Jack lifts his wine bottle. It is a beautiful night in Hollywood, Cali-
fornia. Then the guy who lives in the court behind me falls out of
bed, drunk. It makes quite a sound. I'm used to it. I'm used to the
whole court. All of them sit in their places, shades drawn. They get
up at noon. Their cars sit out front dust-covered, tires going down,
batteries weakening. They mix drink with dope and have no visible
means of support. I like them. They don't bother me.
The guy gets into bed again, falls out.
"You silly damn fool," you hear him say, "get back into that
"What's all that noise?" Jack asks.
"Guy behind me. He's very lonely. Drinks a beer now and
then. His mother died last year and left him twenty grand. He sits
around and masturbates and looks at baseball games and cowboy
shootums on TV. Used to be a gas station attendant.
"We've got to split." says Jack, "want to come with us?"
"No," I say.
They explain that it is something to do with the House of
Seven Gables. They are going to see somebody who had something
to do with the House of Seven Gables. It isn't the writer, the produc-
er, the actors, it is somebody else.
"Well, no," I say, and they all run out. It is a beautiful sight.
Then I sit down to the monkeys again. Maybe I can juggle
those monkeys up. If I can get all twelve of them fucking at once!
That's it! But how? And why? Check the Royal Ballet of London.
But why? I'm going crazy. Okay, the Royal Ballet of London has
this idea. Twelve monkeys flying while they ballet. Only before the
performance somebody gives them all the Spanish Fly. Not the bal-
let. The monkeys. But the Spanish Fly is a myth, isn't it? Okay,
enter another mad scientist with a real Spanish Fly! No, no, oh my
God, I just can't get it right!
The phone rings. I pick it up. It's Borst:
"I have to keep it short. I'm broke."
"Well, I lost my two sponsors. The stock market and the tight
"Well, I always knew it was going to happen. So I'm getting
out of Venice. I can't make it here. I'm going to New York City."
"I thought that's what you said."
"Well, I'm broke you see, and I think I can really make it
"Losing my sponsors is the best thing that ever happened to
"Now I feel like fighting again. You've heard about people
rotting along the beach. Well, that's what I've been doing down here:
rotting. I've got to get out of here. And I'm not worried. Except for
"I can't seem to get them packed. So my mother's coming
"All right, Jerry."
"But before I go to New York I'm going to stop off at Switzer-
land and perhaps Greece. Then I'm coming back to New York."
"All right, Jerry, keep in touch. Always good to hear."
Then I am back to the monkeys again. Twelve monkeys who
can fly, fucking. How can it be done? Twelve bottles of beer are
gone. I find my reserve half-pint of scotch in the refrigerator. I mix
one-third glass scotch with two-thirds water. I should have stayed in
the goddamned post office. But even here, like this, you have a
minor chance. Just get those twelve monkey's fucking. If you'd been
born a camel boy in Arabia you wouldn't even have this chance. So
get your back up and get those monkeys at it. You've been blessed
with a minor talent and you're not in India where probably two
dozen boys could write you under if they knew how to write. Well,
maybe not two dozen, maybe just a round dozen.
I finish the half-pint, drink half bottle of wine, go to bed,
The next morning at nine a.m. the doorbell rings. There is a
young black girl standing there with a stupid-looking white guy in
rimless glasses. They tell me that I have made a promise to go boat-
ing with them at a party three nights ago. I get dressed, get into the
car with them. They drive to an apartment and a black-haired kid
met him at a party. He passes out little orange life-belts. Next I
know we're down at the pier. I can't tell the pier from the water.
They help me down a swinging wooden contraption that leads to a
floating dock. The bottom of the contraption and the dock are
about three feet apart. They help me down.
"What the fuck is this?" I ask. "Does anybody have a drink?"
I am with the wrong people. Nobody has a drink. Then I am in a
small rowboat, rented, and somebody has attached a half-horse-
power motor. The bottom of the boat is filled with water and two
dead fish. I don't know who the people are. They know me. Fine,
fine. We head out to sea. I vomit. We pass a suckerfish wrapped
around a flying monkey. No, that's terrible. I vomit again.
"How's the great writer?" asks the stupid-looking guy in the
prow of the boat, the guy with the rimless galsses.
"What a great writer?" asks the stupid-looking guy in the
prow of the boat, the guy with the rimless glasses.
"What great writer?" I ask, thinking he is talking about Rim-
baud, although I never thought Rimbaud a great writer.
"You," he says.
"Me?" I say, "Oh, fine. Think I'm going to Greece next year."
"Grease?" he says. "You mean up your ass?"
"No," I answer, "up yours."
We head out to sea where Conrad made it. To hell with Con-
rad. I'll take coke with bourbon in a dark bedroom in Hollywood in
1970, or whatever year you read this. The year of the monkey-orgy
that never happened. The motor flits and gnashes at the sea; we
plunge on toward Ireland. No, it's the Pacific. We plunge on toward
Japan. To hell with it.
old Sanchez is a genius but I am the only one who knows it
and it's always good to go see him. there are very few people I can
stay in a room with more than 5 minutes without feeling gutted.
Sanchez passes my tests, and I am very test, hehehehe, oh my god,
anyhow, I go to see him now and then in his hand-built two story
shack. he installed his own plumbing, has a free-feed line from a
high-power voltage line, has connected himself up a telephone which
feeds underground from a neighbor's installation, but he explains to
me that he cannot call long distance or out of the city without
exposing his sycophancy. he even lives with a young woman who
says very little, paints, walks about looking sexy and makes love to
him and him to her, of course. he bought the ground for very little
and although the place is some distance from Los Angeles, you
might call this an advantage. he sits among wires, popular mechanics
magazines, tape recording sets, shelves and shelves of books on all
subjects. he is concise, never rude; he is humorous and magic, he
writes very well but is not interested in fame, once in a great while
he will come out from his cave and read his poetry at some university,
it is said that the walls and the ivy tremble and shake for weeks
afterwards along with the co-eds, he has taped 10,000 tapes of con-
versation, sounds, music-dull and undull, usual and otherwise.
the walls are covered with photos, advertisements, drawings, hunks
of rock, snake skins, skulls, dried rubbers, soot, silver and spots of
"I'm afraid I'm cracking," I tell him, "eleven years on the
same job, the hours dragging over me like wet shit, wow, and all the
faces melted down to zeros, yapping, laughing at nothing. I'm no
snob, Sanchez, but sometimes it gets to be a real horror show and
the only end is death or madness."
"sanity is an imperfection," he says, dropping a couple of pills
into his mouth. "jesus, I mean, I'm taught at several universities,
some prof is
writing a book on me- I've been translated into several lan-
"we all have. you're getting old, Bukowski, you're weakening.
keep your moxie. Victory or Death."
"large gamble, large loss."
"right, or invert it for the common man."
"it gets quiet for a while, then he says, "you can come live with
"thanks, sure, man. but I think I'll try a little more moxie
"Over his head is a black sign upon which he has pasted in white
POLITICS IS LIKE TRYING TO SCREW
-Dutch Schultz, on his deathbed.
WITH ME, GRAND OPERA IS THE BERRIES."
"NE CRAIGNEZ POINT, MONSIEUR, LE TORTURE."
"THERE IS NO MORE."
-Motto of Sitting Bull
"THE POLICEMAN'S CLIENT IS THE ELECTRIC CHAIR."
"FAST AND LOOSE IN ONE THING,
FAST AND LOOSE IN EVERYTHING.
I NEVER KNEW IT FAIR. NO MORE
WILL YOU, NOR NO ONE.
"AMEN IS THE INFLUENCE OF NUMBERS."
-Pico Della Mirandola,
in his kabbalistic conclusions
"SUCCESS AS THE RESULT OF INDUSTRY IS A PEAS-
"TO ME, MY SHIT STINKS BETTER EXCEPT THAN A
"NOW THE PORNOGRAPHERS WERE ASSEMBLED WITH
IN THE CREMATORIUM."
"ADAGE OF SPONTANEITY - THE BACHELOR GRINDS
HIS CHOCOLATE HIMSELF."
"KISS THE HAND YOU CANNOT SEVER."
"WE ALL, IN OUR DAY, WERE SMART FELLOWS."
-Admiral St. Vincent.
"MY DREAM IS TO SAVE THEM FROM NATURE."
"OPEN SESAME - I WANT OUT."
-Stanislas Jerzy Lec.
"A YARDSTICK DOES NOT SAY THAT
THE OBJECT TO BE MEASURED
IS ONE YARD LONG."
I am a bit gone on beer. "Say, I like that last one: "the object
to be murdered does not have to be a yard long."
"I think that's even better but it's not what is said."
"all right. how's Kaakaa? that's baby-language for shit, and a
more sexy woman I've never seen.
"I know. and it started with Kafka. she used to like Kafka and
I called her that. then she changed it herself." he gets up and walks
to a photo. "come 'ere, Bukowski." I flip my beercan into the
trashcan and walk on over. "what's this?" asks Sanchez.
I look at the photo. it is a very good photo.
"well, it looks like a cock."
"what kind of cock?"
" a stiff cock, a big one."
"don't you notice?"
"yes, I see it. I didn't want to say-"
"why not? what the hell's wrong with you?"
"I don't understand."
"I mean, do you see the sperm or don't you?"
"what do you mean?"
"I mean, I'm JACKING OFF, can't you understand how hard
that is to do?"
"it's not hard, Sanchez, I do it all the time-"
"oh, you ox! I mean I had the camera rigged-up with a string.
Do you realize what an enactment it was to remain quietly in focus,
ejaculate and trigger the camera at the same time?"
"I don't use a camera."
"how many men do? you miss the point, as usual. who the hell
you are translated into the German, the Spanish, the French and so
forth, I'll never know! look, do you realize that it took me THREE
DAYS to make this SIMPLE photograph? do you know how many
times I had to JACKOFF?"
"oh, Lord! how about Kaakaa?"
"she liked the photo."
"good god, boy, I don't have the tongue to answer your sim-
He goes on around back there and plops himself in his chair
again. among his wires and pliers and translations and his huge BIT-
TER-LEAP notebook, Adolph's nose glued to the black front with
edgeworks of the Berlin bunker in the background.
"I'm working on something now," I tell him, "short about me
walking in to interview the great composer. he's drunk. I get drunk,
there's a maid. we're on the wine. he leans forward and tells me,
'The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth,'-"
"and then he says, 'translated that means that the stupid have
the greatest persistency.'"
"kind of lousy." he says, "but it's all right for you."
"but I don't know what to do with the story. I've got the
maid walking around in a very short thing and I don't know what to do
with it. I thought I might save the story by whiplashing the maid
with my belt buckle and then sucking the composer's dick. but I've
never sucked dick, never felt like it, I'm square, so I left the story
the center and never finished it."
"every man is a homo, a dick-sucker; every woman is a dyke,
why do you worry so much?"
"because if I'm happy I'm no good and I don't want to be
We sit there a while and then she comes from upstairs, the
flaxen straight string hair.
it's the first woman I could eat, I think.
but she walks past Sanchez and his tongue licks his lips just a bit,
she walks past me like separate ball-bearings of magic wavering crazy
flesh, may the heavens kiss my balls if it is not so, and she waves
through it all glorious as avalanche smashed by sun-
"hello, Hank," she says.
"Kaakaa," I laugh.
she goes behind her table and begins her bits of painting and
he sits there, Sanchez, beard blacker than black power, but calm
calm, no claims. I begin to get drunk, say nasty things, say anything.
then I begin to get dull. I mumble, I murmur. "Oh, sorry- ta spoil
yr evening-so sorry, fuckers- ya-I'm a killer but I won't
kill anybody. I got class. I'm Bukowski! translated into SEVEN
LANGUAGES! I AM the ONE! BUKOWSKI!"
I fall forward trying to look at the jackoff picture again, pitch
over something. it is one of my own shoes. I have this god damn bad
habit of taking off my own shoes.
"Hank," she says, "be careful."
"Bukowski?" he asks, "You all right?"
he lifts me up. "man, I think you better stay here tonight."
"NO GOD DAMN IT, I'M GOING TO THE WOOD-
next thing I know he's got me over his shoulder, Sanchez has
and he's carrying me to his upstairs pad, you know, where he and
his woman do the thing, and then I'm down on the bed, he's gone.
door closed, and then I hear some kind of music downstairs, and
laughter, the both of them, but kind laughter, no malice, and I did
not know what to do, one did not expect the best, luck or people
everybody failed you finally, well, and then the door opened, a pop
of light, and there was Sanchez -
"hey, Bubu, a bottle of good French wine-sip it slowly, do
you most good. you'll sleep. be happy. I won't say we love you,
that's too easy. and if you want to come downstairs, dance and sing,
talk, o.k. do what you want. here's the wine."
he hands me the bottle. I lift it like some crazy cornet, again
and again. through a ripped curtain a part of the worn moon leaps. it
is a perfectly good night; it is not jail; it is far from that-
in the morning when I awaken, go down to piss, come out
from pissing, I find them both asleep on that narrow couch hardly
enough for one body, but they are not one body and their faces
together and asleep their bodies together and asleep, why be
corny??? I only feel the tiny clutch at the throat, the automatic
transmission blues of loveliness, that somebody has it, that they
don't even hate me-that they even wish me what?-
I walk out staunching and griefing and feeling and sick and
blue and bukowski, old, starlit sun, my god, reaching into the final
corner, the last midnight blast, cold Mr. C., big H, Mary Mary, clean
as a bug on the wall, the heat of December a brainweb across my
everlasting spine, Mercy like Kerouac's dead baby sprawled across
Mexican railroad tracks in the everlasting July of suck-off tombs, I
maybe writing this down by myself, leaving a few things out (I have
been threatened by various powerful forces for doing things that are
only normal and gaga gladful to do)
and I get into my eleven year old car
and now I have driven away
find myself here
and write you here a little illegal story of
but, perhaps, understandable to
Sanchez and Bukowski
p.s. - this time the Heat missed. don't keep more than you
can swallow: love, heat or hate.
Vicki was all right, but we had our troubles. we were on the
wine. port, that woman would get drunk and get to talking and she
would make up some of the vilest imaginable stuff about me. and
that tone of voice. shoddy and lisping and grating and insane. it
would get to any man. it got to me.
once she was screaming these insanities from the fold-down
bed in our apartment. I begged her to stop. but she wouldn't. finally,
I just walked over, lifted up the bed with her in it and folded
everything into the wall.
then I went over and sat down and listened to her scream.
but she kept screaming so I walked over and pulled the bed
out of the wall again there she lay, holding her arm, claiming it was
"your arm can't be broken," I said.
"it is, it is. oh, you slimy jackoff bastard, you've broken my
I had some more drinks but she just kept holding her arm and
whining. I finally had enough and telling her I'd be right back I went
downstairs and outside and found some old wooden boxes behind a
grocery store. I found good sturdy slats, ripped them off, pulled out
the nails, got back on the elevator and rode back to our apartment.
it took about 4 slats. I bound them around her arm with
rippings from one of her dresses. she quieted down for a couple of
hours. then she started in again. I couldn't take it anymore. so I
called a taxi, we went to the General Hospital, as soon as the taxi
I took the boards off and threw them into the street. then they
x-rayed her CHEST and put her arm in a cast. can you imagine that?
I suppose if she broke her head they'd x-ray her ass.
anyhow, she used to sit in the bars after that and say, "I am
the only woman who has been folded into a wall in a wall bed."
and I wasn't so sure of THAT either, but I let her go on saying it.
now, another time she angered me and I slapped her but it was
across the mouth and it broke her false teeth.
I was surprised that it broke her false teeth. and I went out
and got this super cement glue and I glued her teeth together for her.
it worked for a while and then one night as she sat there drinking her
wine she suddenly had a mouthful of broken teeth.
that wine was so strong it undid the glue. it was disgusting. we
had to get her some new teeth. how we did it, I don't quite remem-
ber, but she claimed they made her look like a horse.
we'd usually always have these arguments after we drank
awhile, and Vicki claimed I'd get very mean when I was drunk but I
think that she was the one who was mean. anyhow, sometime during
the argument she'd get up, slam the door and run outside to some
bar. "looking for a live one," as the girls would say.
it always made me feel bad when she left. I've got to admit it.
sometimes she wouldn't come back for 2 or 3 days. and nights. it
wasn't a very nice thing to do.
one time she ran out and I sat there drinking the wine, think-
ing about it. then I got up and found the elevator and rode on down
to the streets too. I found her in her favorite bar. she sat there
holding a kind of purple scarf. I'd never seen the purple scarf before.
holding out on me. I walked up to her and said quite loudly:
"I've tried to make a woman out of you but you're nothing
but a god damned whore!"
the bar was full. every seat taken. I lifted my hand. I swung. I
backhanded her off that god damned stool. she fell to the floor and
this was at the back end of the bar. I didn't even turn to look
at her. I walked the length of the bar to the exit. then I turned and
faced the crowd. it was very quiet.
"now," I said to them, "if there's anybody here who doesn't
LIKE what I just did, just SAY something-"
it was quieter than quiet.
I turned around and walked out the doorway. the moment I
hit the street I could hear them babbling and buzzing in there, buzzing
the SHITS! not a man in the boatload!
- but, of course, she came back, and, well, anyhow to get on,
this one night lately we are sitting around drinking the wine and the
same old arguments started. this time I decided to go.
I'M GONNA GET THE FUCK OUTA THIS HOLE!" I yelled
at Vicki. "I CAN'T STAND NO MORE OF YOUR GOD DAMNED
she jumped in front of the door.
"over my dead body, that's the only way you are getting out
"o.k., if that's the way it's gotta be."
I slammed her a good one and she fell down in front of the
doorway. I had to move her body to get out.
I took the elevator down. feeling rather good. a good jaunty
4-floor ride down. the elevator was kind of a cage-like contraption
and smelled like old stockings, old gloves, old dustmops, but it gave
me a feeling of security and power - somehow - and the wine rode
all through me.
but then I got outside and had a change of mind. I went to the
liquor store. bought 4 more bottles of wine and went back to my
place and rode the elevator back up. the same feeling of security and
power. I walked into my place. Vicki was sitting in a chair crying.
"I've come back to you, you lucky darling," I told her.
"you bastard, you hit me. YOU HIT ME!"
"umm, I said, opening a new bottle. "and you give me any
more shit and I'll hit you again."
"YEAH!" she screamed, "YOU'D HIT ME BUT YOU
WOULDN'T HAVE ENOUGH GUTS TO HIT A MAN!"
"HELL NO!" I screamed back, "I WOULDN'T HIT A MAN!
YOU THINK I'M CRAZY? WHAT'S THAT GOT TO DO WITH
that settled her for a bit and we sat for a bit and we sat
drinking down the waterglassfuls of wine, port.
then she started in on her abusive stuff again, mostly claiming
I jacked off while she was asleep.
well, even if it were true I figured that was my business and if
it wasn't, then she was REALLY crazy. she claimed I jacked off in
the bathtub, in the closet, in the elevator, everywhere.
everytime I got out of the tub she'd run into the bathroom,
"there! I SEE IT! LOOK AT IT!"
"you crazy bat, that's just the dirt-ring."
"no, that's "COME! that's COME!"
or she'd run in while I was bathing under the arms or between
the legs and say, "see, see, SEE! you're DOING IT!"
"doing WHAT? can't a man wash his BALLS? those are MY
balls, god damn you! can't a man wash his own balls?"
"what's that thing sticking up there?"
"my left index finger. now get the HELL OUT OF HERE!!!"
or in bed, I'd be sound asleep and all of a sudden this hand
grabbing my string and nuggets, man, sound asleep in the middle of
the night, these FINGERNAILS!
"AH HA! I CAUGHT YOU! I CAUGHT YOU!"
"you crazy bat, the next time you do that I SWEAR I AM
GOING TO KILL YOU!"
"for christ's sake, go to sleep-"
so this night she just sat there screaming her jackoff accusa-
tions. I just sat there and drank my wine and didn't deny anything.
this made her angry, angrier.
finally she couldn't stand it, all her talk about jackingoff, I
mean ME supposedly jackingoff and me just sitting there smiling at
her, and she jumped up and ran out the door.
I let her go. I sat there and drank my wine, port.
same old stuff.
I thought it over, umm, umm, well.
then very leisurely I got up and took the elevator down,same
old feeling of power. I was not angry. I was very calm. it was just the
same old war.
I walked on down the street but I didn't go to her favorite bar.
why repeat the same play? you are a whore; I tried to make a
woman out of you. balls. after a while a man could get to sounding
pretty silly. so I went to another bar and sat down on a stool near the
door. I ordered a drink and took a slug, set the timing down, and then
I saw her. Vicki. she was at the other end of the bar. for some reason
she looked scared shitless.
but I didn't go on down. I just stared at her as if I didn't know
then I noticed something next to me in one of those old
fashioned fox furs. the dead fox's head hung down over her breast
looking at me. the breast looked at me.
"your fox looks like it needs a drink, sweetie" I told her.
"it's dead; it don't need a drink. I need a drink or I'm gonna
well, a nice guy like me. who am I to spread death? I bought
her a drink, her name, she told me, was Margy. I told her that I was
Thomas Nightengale, shoesalesman. Margy. all these women with
names, drinking, crapping, having monthlies. fucking men. getting
folded into walls. it was too much.
we had a coupla more, and already she was in her purse, flash-
ing the photo of her children, an ugly demented boy and a girl
without any hair, they were in some dull place in Ohio, the father had
understanding. oh, one of THOSE? and he brought these women in
the house and screwed them in front of her with all the lights on.
"ah, I see, I see," I said. "yes, of course, most men are beasts,
they simply do not understand. and you're SUCH a sweetie, what
the hell, it ain't right."
I suggested we go to another bar. Vicki's ass was twitching and
she was half Indian.
we left her there. we went around the corner. we had one
around the corner.
then I suggested we go to my place. do a little eating. I mean,
get something to cook, bake, fry.
I didn't tell her about Vicki, of course. but Vicki always
prided herself on her god damned baked chickens. maybe it was
because she looked like one. a baked chicken with horse teeth.
so I suggested we get a chicken, bake it, bathe it in whiskey.
she did not demur.
so. liquor store. 5th of whiskey. 5 or 6 quarts of beer.
we found an all night market. the place even had a butcher.
"we wanta bake a chicken," I said.
"oh, christ," he said.
I dropped one of the quarts of beer. it really exploded.
"christ," he said.
I dropped another to see what he would say.
"oh, jesus," he said.
"I want THREE CHICKENS," I said.
"THREE CHICKENS?" "jesus christ, yes," I said.
the butcher reached in and got three very white-yellow chick-
ens with a few long black unplucked hairs that looked like human
hairs on them and he wrapped them all up a big big bundle, all in
pink tough paper with this real gripping tape, and I paid him and we
got out of there.
I dropped 2 more quarts of beer on the way.
I rode up the elevator, feeling my power rising. when we got
inside my door I lifted Margy's dress to see what was holding her
stockings up. then I gave her a big chummy whiskey-goose with
long-finger right hand. she screamed and dropped the big pink bun-
dle. it fell on the rug and the 3 chickens came out. those 3 chickens,
all white-yellow with their 29 or 30 drooling dropping murdered
human hairs sticking to them looked very strange gaping there on
that worn rug of yellow and brown flowers and trees and Chinese
dragons, under electric lights in los angeles at the end of the world
near 6th street under Union.
"oooh, the chickens."
"fuck the chickens."
her garter belt was dirty. it was perfect. I goosed her again.
well, shit, so I sat down and peeled the whiskey bottle, poured
a couple of tall waterglasses full, took off my shoes stockings pants
shirt, took one of her cigarettes. sat in my underwear. I always do
that, right away. I like to be comfortable.. if the broad don't like
fuck her. she can go. but they always stay. I got a manner. some
broads say I should have been a king. others say other things. fuck
she drank most of her drink and started for her purse. "I have
some children in Ohio. they're lovely children-"
"forget that. we've been through that stage. tell me, do you
"what do you mean?"
"OH, BALLS!" I smashed my glass against the wall.
then I got another one, filled it up, and we drank some more.
I don't know how long we worked on the whiskey but it must
have gotten to me because the next thing I know I was laying on the
bed naked. staring up at the electric light and Margy was standing
there naked and she was rubbing my penis quite rapidly with her fox
fur. and while she was rubbing she was saying over and over, "I am
going to fuck you, I am going to fuck you-"
"listen," I said. "I don't know if you can fuck me. I jacked-off
in the elevator earlier this evening. I think it was about 8 o'clock."
"I will fuck you anyhow."
she really speeded up that fox fur. it was all right. maybe I
could get one for myself. I once knew a guy who put raw liver in a
long drinking glass and screwed that. me, I didn't like to stick my
thing into anything that could break or slice. imagine going to a
doctor with a bloody cock and saying it happened while screwing a
water glass. once while I was bumming in a small town in Texas I
saw this well-built wonderful fuck of a young broad married to this
little shriveled up old dwarf with a nasty disposition and some kind of
malady that made him trembly all over. she supported him and
pushed him around in a wheelchair, and I used to think of him
pouncing on all that good meat. I'd get a picture of it, you know,
and then finally I got the story. when she had been a younger girl
she had gotten this coke bottle stuck all the way into her snatch and
just couldn't get the thing out and had to go to a doctor. he got it
out, and somehow the story got out. she was ruined in that town
after that, and didn't have sense enough to get out. nobody wanted
her except the nasty dwarf with the shakes. he didn't give a damn -
he had the best piece of ass in town.
where was I? oh, yeah.
her fox fur went faster and faster and I finally got something
going just as I heard a key go into the door. oh, shit, it was probably
well, it's simple, I thought. I'll just boot her ass out and go
about my business.
the door opened and there stood Vicki with 2 cops standing
"GET THAT WOMAN OUT OF MY HOUSE!" she screamed.
COPS! I couldn't believe it. I pulled the sheet over my pulsa-
ting and throbbing and giant sexual organ and pretended to be
asleep. it looked like I had a cucumber under there.
Margy was screaming back: "I know you, Vicki, this ain't your
god damned house! this guy EARNS his way by licking your asshole
hairs! he gets you babbling to heaven in Morse code with that long
sandpaper tongue of his, you're nothing but a WHORE, a true
blue turdy-gulping 2-dollar whore. and THAT went out with Franky
D., and you were 48 THEN!"
hearing that, my cucumber went down. both of these broads
must have been 80 years old. singly, that is, together they might
have reached back to suck-off Abe Lincoln, something like that.
suck-off General Robert E. Lee, Patrick Henry. Mozart. Dr. Samuel
Johnson. Robespierre. Napoleon. Machiavelli? wine preserves. God
endures. the whores blow on.
and Vicki screamed back: "WHO'S A WHORE? WHO'S A
WHORE, HUH? YOU'RE A WHORE, THAT'S WHO! YOU'VE
BEEN SELLING THAT CLAPPED HOLE OF YOURS UP AND
DOWN ALVARADO STREET FOR 30 YEARS! A BLIND RAT
WOULD BACK UP 4 TIMES IF HE RAN INTO THERE ONCE!
AND YOU HOLLERING 'POW! POW!' WHEN YOU'RE LUCKY
ENOUGH TO GET A GUY TO COME! AND THAT WENT OUT
WHEN CONFUCIUS FUCKED HIS MOTHER!"
"WHY YOU CHEAP BITCH. YOU'VE GIVEN OUT MORE
BLUE BALLS THAN A SILVER CHRISTMAS TREE IN DISNEY-
LAND. WHY YOU-"
"listen, ladies," said one of the cops. "I will have to ask you to
watch your remarks and lower the volume. understanding and kind-
ness are the keynotes of Democratic thought. oh, I just DO love the
way Bobby Kennedy wears that tickling blobbing knot of raunchy
hair over one side of his darling head don't you just?"
"why you fuckin' queer," said Margy, "is that why you wear
them tight pants, to make your asshole sweeter? god, it DOES look
NICE! I'd kinda like to do you in myself. I see you shits bending
over into car windows giving out tickets on the freeways and I
always feel like pinching your tight little asses."
the cop suddenly got a brilliant flare in his dead eyes, he
unhitched his club and tapped Margy along the side of the neck with
it. she fell to the floor.
then he slipped the bracelets on her. I could hear those clicks,
and the bastards ALWAYS snapped them too tight. but they felt
almost GOOD once you got them on. kind of forceful and heavy and
you felt like Christ or something dramatic.
I kept my eyes closed so I couldn't see whether they threw a
robe or something over her.
then the cop who snapped the bracelets said to the other cop,
"I'll take her on the elevator. we'll go on the elevator."
and I couldn't hear very well, but I listened as they went
down, and I heard Margy screaming, "oooooh, oooooooh, you bas-
tard. let go of me, let go of me!"
and he kept saying, "shut up, shut up, shut up! you're only
getting what you deserve! and you haven't seen ANYTHING yet!
this-is just the-beginning!"
then she really screamed.
then the other cop walked over to me. through one narrowed
eye I could see him put his big black shiny shoe up on the mattress,
up on the sheet.
he looked down at me.
"is this guy a fag? he looks like a fag, sure as hell."
"I don't' THINK he is. he might be. he can sure ball a broad,
"you want me to run him in?" he asked Vicki.
I had my eyes closed. it was a long wait. god, it was a long
wait. that big foot there on my sheets. the electric light shining
then she spoke. finally. "no, he's-.o.k. leave him there."
the cop took his foot down. I heard him walk across the room,
then wait at the door. he spoke to Vicki:
"I'm going to have to charge you 5 bucks more for your
protection next month. you're getting a bit harder to watch out
then he was gone. I mean, out into the hall. I waited for him
to get into the elevator. I heard it go down to the first floor. I
counted to 64. then, I LEAPED OUT OF BED.
my nostrils were flaring like Gregory Peck in heat.
"YOU ROTTEN BITCH. YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN
AND I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!"
"NO, NO, NO!!!"
I raised my hand to give her the old backhand.
"I TOLD HIM NOT TO TAKE YOU!" she screamed at me.
"ummm. that's right. I've got to consider that."
I lowered my hand.
then there was some whiskey left and some wine too. I got up
and put the chain on the door.
we turned off the lights and sat there and drank and smoked
and talked about things. this, and that, easy and casual, then, like
old times, we looked at the same red horse that flew and flew in red
neon on the side of a building just downtown to our east. it flew and
flew on the side of this building all night. no matter what happened.
you know what it was, a kind of red horse with red wings of neon.
but I told you that. a winged horse. anyhow, like always, we count-
ed: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. the wings always flapped 7
times. then the horse, everything, stood still, then, it started again.
our whole apartment would be in this red glow. then when the horse
stopped flying, somehow things would get white for a flash. I don't
know why. I think that it was caused by an advertisement beneath
the red winged horse. it said, some kind of product, buy this or buy
that, in this WHITE. anyhow.
we sat and talked and drank and smoked.
later we went to bed together. she kissed very nicely, her
tongue was kind of an apologetic sadness.
then we fucked. we fucked as the red horse flew.
7 times the wings flapped.. and in the center of the rug the 3
chickens were still there. watching. the chickens turned red, the
chickens turned white. 14 times they turned red. then they
turned white. 21 times they turned red. then they turned white. 28
it had ended a better night than most.
we lived right across from McArthur park, Linda and I, and
one night while drinking we saw a man's body fall past our window.
it was an odd sight, something like a joke, but it wasn't any joke
when his body hit the pavement. "jesus christ," I told Linda, "he
plopped right apart like an old tomato! we are just made of guts and
shit and slimy stuff!come 'ere! come 'ere! look at 'im!" Linda came
to the window, then ran to the bathroom and vomited. she came
out. I turned and looked at her. "honest ta christ, baby, he's just
a big spilled bowl of rotten meat and spaghetti, dressed in a ripped
suit and shirt!" Linda ran back in and heaved again.
I sat and drank the wine. soon I heard the siren. what they
really needed was the Sanitation Dept. well, what the fuck, we all
had our troubles. I never knew where our rent was coming from and
we were too sick from drinking to look for work. everytime we
worried, all we could do about our worries was to fuck. that made us
forget for a while. we fucked a lot, and lucky for me, Linda was a
good lay.that whole hotel was full of people like us, drinking wine
and fucking and not knowing what next.now and then one of them
jumped out of the window.but the money always seemed to arrive
for us from somewhere, just when all seemed like we'd have to eat
our own shit, once $300 from a dead uncle, another time, a delayed,
income tax refund. another time I was riding on a bus and on the
seat in front of me where these 50 cent pieces. what it meant or who
had done it, I didn't know, still don't understand. I moved one seat
up and began stuffing the half bucks into my pockets. when the
pockets got full, I pulled the cord and got off at the next stop.
nobody said anything or tried to stop me. I mean, when you're
drunk, you've got to be lucky, even if you're not one, you've got to
part of each day we would spend in the park looking at the
ducks. you've got to believe me, that when your health is down
from continual drinking and lack of decent food, and you're tired of
fucking while trying to forget, you can't beat the ducks. I mean,
you've got to get out of your place, because you can get the deep
blue blues and it soon might be you out the window. it is easier to
do than you might imagine. so Linda and I would sit on a bench and
watch the ducks. the ducks didn't worry worth a damn - no rent, no
clothes, plenty of food - just float around shitting and quacking.
nobbling, nibbling, eating all the time. once in a while one of those
from the hotel would catch a duck at night, kill the thing, take it to
their room, clean it and cook it. we thought about it but never did
it. besides they were very hard to catch; you just get so close and
SLUUUSH!!! a spray of water and the motherfuckers would be gone!
most of the time we ate small pancakes made of flour and water, or
now and then we would steal some corn from somebody's garden -
one guy specialized in a corn garden - I don't believe he got to eat a
one of them, then there was always a bit of stealing from an outdoor
market - I mean there was a vegetable stand in front of a grocery -
store - this meant an occasional tomato or two or a small cucumber,
but we were petty thieves, small time, and we needed mostly luck.
the cigarettes were easiest - a walk at night - somebody always left
a car window down and a pack or half-pack of smokes on the dash-
board. of course, the wine and the rent were the real problems and
we fucked and worried about it.
and like all the days of final desperation, ours arrived. no more
wine, no more luck, no more anything. no more credit with the
landlady or the liquor store. I decided to set the alarm clock for
5:30 a. m. and walk down to the Farm Labor Market, but even the
clock didn't work right. it had broken and I had opened it to repair
it. it was a broken spring and the only way I could get the spring to
work again was to break a portion of it off, hook it up again, lock up
the works and wind it up. now if you want to know what a short
spring does to an alarm clock or I guess any kind of clock, I'll tell
you. the shorter the spring is, the faster the minute and hour hands
go around. it was some crazy clock, I'll tell you, and when we were
worn out with fucking to stop from worrying we used to watch that
clock and try to tell what time it really was. you could see that
minute hand moving - we used to laugh at it.
then one day - it took us a week to figure it - we found that
the clock moved thirty hours for each actual twelve hours of time
also it had to be wound every 7 or 8 hours or it would stop. some-
times we'd wake up and look at the clock and wonder what time it
was. "well, shit, baby," I'd say, "can't you figure out the thing? the
clock moves 2 and one half times as fast as it should. it's simple."
"yeah, but what time did it say when we last set the clock?"
"damned if I know, baby, I was drunk."
"well, you better wind it or it'll stop."
I'd wind it, then we'd fuck.
so the morning I decided to go to the Farm Labor Market I
couldn't set the clock. we got hold of a bottle of wine from some-
where and drank it slowly. I watched that clock, not knowing what
it meant, and being afraid of missing the early morning, I just lay in
bed and didn't sleep all night. then I got up, dressed and walked
around waiting. there were quite a few tomatoes lying in the win-
dows and I picked up two or 3 of them and ate them. there was a
large blackboard: COTTENPICKERS NEEDED FOR BAKERS-
FIELD. FOOD AND LODGING. what the hell was that? cotton in
Bakersfield, Calif? I thought Eli Whitney and the cotton gin had put
all that out of the way. then a big truck drove up and it turned out
they needed tomato-pickers. well, shit, I hated to leave Linda in that
bed all alone like that. she could never stay in bed too long alone by
herself like that. but I decided to try it. everybody started climbing
into the truck. I waited and made sure that all the ladies were on
board, and there were some big ones. everybody was in, and then I
started to crawl up. a large Mexican, evidently the foreman, started
putting in the tailgates - "sorry, senor, full up!" they drove off
it was almost 9 p.m. by then and the walk back to the hotel
took an hour. I passed all the well-dressed stupid-looking people
and was almost run over once by an angry man in a black Caddy. I don't
know what he was angry about. maybe the weather. it was a hot
day. when I got back to the hotel I had to walk up the stairway
because the elevator was right by the landlady's door and she was
always fucking with the elevator, shining the brass, or just plain-ass
it was 6 floors up and when I got there, I heard laughing from
my room. that bitch Linda hadn't waited too long to get started.
well, I'd whip her ass and his too. I opened the door.
it was Linda and Jeanie and Eve. "Sweetie!" said Linda, she
came up to me. she was all dressed in highheels. she gave me a lot of
tongue when she kissed. "Jeanie just got her first unemployment
check and Eve is on the dole! we're celebrating!"
there was plenty of port wine. I went in and took a bath and
then came out in my shorts. I always like to show off my legs. I had
the biggest most powerful legs I had ever seen on any man. the rest
of me wasn't too much. I sat in my torn shorts and put my legs up
on the coffee table.
"shit! look at those legs!" said Jeanie.
"yeah, yeah," said Eve.
Linda smiled. I was poured a wine.
you know how such things go. we drank and talked, talked
and drank. the girls went out for more bottles. more talk. the clock
went round and round. soon it was dark. I was drinking alone, still in
my torn shorts. Jeanie had gone to the bedroom and passed out in
the bed. Eve had passed out on the couch and Linda had passed out
on a smaller leather couch in the hall that led to the bathroom. I
couldn't understand that Mexican closing those tailgates on me. I
I went into the bedroom and got into bed with Jeanie. she was
a large woman, and naked. I began kissing on her breasts, sucking at
them. "hey, what you doing?"
"doin? I'm going to fuck you!"
I put my finger into her cunt and moved it back and forth.
"I'm going to fuck you!"
"no! Linda would kill me!"
"she'll never know!"
I mounted and then very SLOWLY SLOWLY QUIETLY so
the springs wound not rattle, so there would not be a sound. I slid it
in and out in and out EVER SO SLOWLY and when I came I
thought I would never stop. it was one of the best fucks of my life.
as I wiped off on the sheets the thought occurred to me - it could
be that Man has been fucking improperly for centuries.
then I went, sat down in the dark, drank some more. I don't
remember how long I sat there. I drank quite a bit. then I went over
to Eve. Eve of the dole. she was a fat thing, a little wrinkled, but
very sexy lips, obscene sexy ugly lips. I began kissing that terrible
and beautiful mouth. she didn't protest at all. she opened her legs
and I entered. she was a little female pig, farting and grunting and
sniffling, wiggling, when I came it wasn't like with Jeanie - long and
trembling - it was just splot splot and then over. I got off. and
before I could get back to my chair I could hear her snoring again.
amazing - she fucked like she breathed - nothing to it. each woman
fucked just a bit differently, and that's what kept a man going, that's
what kept a man trapped.
I sat and drank some more thinking of what that dirty son of a
bitch in control of the tailgqate had done to me. it didn't pay to be
polite. then I began to think about the dole. could an unmarried
man and woman get on the dole? of course not. they were supposed
to starve to death. and love was a kind of dirty word. but that was
something of what it was between Linda and I - love. that's why we
starved together, drank together, lived together. what did marriage
mean? marriage meant a sanctified FUCK and a sanctified FUCK
that's what the world wanted: some poor son of a bitch, trapped and
unhappy, with a job to do. well, shit, I'd move down to skidrow and
move Linda in with Big Eddie. Big Eddie was an idiot but at least
he'd buy her some clothes and put some steaks in her belly which
was more than I was able to do.
Elephant Legs Bukowski, the social failure.
I finished off the bottle and decided I needed some sleep. I
wound up the alarm clock and crawled in with Linda. she awakened
and began rubbing up against me. "oh shit, oh shit," she said, "I
don't know what's the matter with me!"
"whatza matta, baby? you sick?you want me to call the Gen-
"oh no, shit, I'm just HOT! HOT! I'M SO HOT!"
"I said, I'm burning up hot! FUCK ME!"
"I'm so tired. no sleep for two nights. that long walk to the
Labor Market and back, 32 blocks in the hot sun-useless. no job.
"I'll HELP you!"
she crawled halfway down the couch and began licking at my
penis. I groaned in wearinesss. "honey, 32 blocks in the hot sun-
I'm burned out."
she kept working. she had a sandpaper tongue and knew what
to do with it.
"honey," I told her, "I'm a social zero! I don't deserve you!
like I say, she was good. some can, some can't. most just know
the old-time headbob. Linda began with the penis, lift off, went to
the balls, then off the balls, back to the penis again, barberpole, a
wonderful amount of energy. ALWAYS LEAVING THE HEAD OF
THE COCK, ITSELF, UNTOUCHED. finally, she had me moaning
to the ceiling telling her all various sorts of lies about what I would
do for her when I finally got my ass straightened out and stopped
being a bum.
then she came and took the head, put her mouth about a third
of the way down, gave this little nip-suck of tooth pressure on, the
wolf-nip and I came AGAIN - which made four times that night and
I was completely done. some women know more than medical sci-
when I awakened they were all up and dressed - looking good
- Linda, Jeanie and Eve. they poked at me under the covers, laugh-
ing. "hey, Hank, we're going down to look for a live one! and we
need an eye opener! we'll be down at Tommi-Hi's!"
"o.k., o.k., goodbye!"
they all left, wiggling out the door.
all Mankind was doomed forever.
I was just about asleep when the extension phone rang.
"I saw those women! they came from your room!"
"how do you know? you have 8 floors and about ten or twelve
rooms to a floor."
"I know all my roomers, Mr. Bukowski! we have all respec-
table working people here!"
"yes, Mr. Bukowski. I've been running this place for twenty
years and never, never have I seen such goings on as at your place!
we've always had respectable people here, Mr. Bukowski."
"yes, they're so respectable that every two weeks some son of
a bitch climbs up onto the roof and takes a header straight into your
cement entranceway between those phony potted plants."
"you've got until noon to get out, Mr. Bukowski!"
"what time is it now?"
I hung up. found an alka-seltzer, drank it out of a dirty glass.
then found a touch of wine. I opened the curtains and looked out at
the sun. it was a hard world, no news there, but I hated skidrow. I
like little rooms, little places to make some kind of fight from. a
woman, a drink, but no day by day job. I couldn't put it together. I
was not clever enough. I thought of jumping out the window but
couldn't do it. I got dressed and went down to Tommi-Hi's. the girls
were laughing down at the end of the bar with two guys. Marty the
bartender knew me. I waved him off. no money. I sat there.
a scotch and water arrived in front of me. a note.
"meet me at the Roach Hotel, room 12, at midnight. I'll have
the room for us.
I drank the drink, got out of the way, tried the Roach Hotel at
Midnight. the desk clerk said, "nothing doing. no room 12 reserved
for a Bukowski." I came at one a.m. I'd been in the park all day, all
night, sitting. same thing. "no room 12 reserved for you, sir."
"any room reserved for m under that name or under the
name of Linda Bryan?"
"do you mind if I look into room 12?"
"there's nobody there, sir. I told you, sir."
"I'm in love, man. I'm sorry. please let me have a look!"
he gave me one of those looks reserved for 4th class idiots,
tossed me the doorkey.
"be back within 5 minutes or you're in trouble."
I opened the door, switched on the lights - "Linda!" - the
roaches, seeing the light, all ran back under the wallpaper. there were
thousands of them. when I put out the light you could hear them all
crawling back out. the wallpaper, itself, seemed to be just a large
I took the elevator back down to the desk clerk.
"thanks," I said, "you were right. nobody in room 12."
for the first time his voice seemed to take on some kind of
"I'm sorry, man."
"thanks," I said.
when I got outside the hotel I turned left, which was east, which
was skidrow, and as my feet moved me slowly toward there I won-
dered, why do people lie? now I no longer wonder but I still remem-
ber, and now when they lie I almost know about it while they are
doing it, but I'm stil lnot as wise as that desk clerk in the roach
who knew that the lie was everywhere, or the people who dove past
my window while I was drinking port on warm afternoons in Los
Angeles across from McArthur park, where they still catch, kill, eat
the ducks, and, the people.
the hotel is still there and the room we stayed in and if you
care to come by some day I will show it to you. but there's hardly
sense in that, is there? let's just say that one night I fucked or got
fucked by 3 women. and let that be story enough.
The Gut Wringing Machine
Danforth hung the bodies up one by one after they had been
wrung through the wringer. Bagley sat by the phones. "how many
"19, looks like a good day."
"shit, yeah, yeah. that sounds like a good day. how many did
we place yesterday?"
"fair, fair. we-ll make it good if the way keeps up. I keep
worrying they might quit the thing in Viet," said Bagley of the
"don-t be foolish - too many people profit depend on
"but the Paris Peace Conference-"
"you just ain-t yourself today, Bag. you know they just sit
around and laugh all day, draw their pay and then make the Paree
nightclubs each night. those boys are living good. they don-t want
the Peace Conference to end anymore than we want the war to end.
we-re all getting fat, and not a scratch. It-s sweet. and if they
the thing somehow by accident, there-ll be others. they keep hot
points glowing all over the globe."
"yeah, I guess I worry too much." one of the three phones on
the desk rang. Bagley picked it up. "SATISFACTORY HELP
AGENCY. Bagley speaking."
he listened. "yeh, yeh. we got a good cost accountant. salary?
$300 the first two weeks, I mean a week. we get the first two
weeks- pay. then cut him to 50 a week or fire him. If you fire him
after the first two weeks, we give YOU one hundred dollars. why?
well, hell, don-t you see, the whole idea is to keep things moving. It-
all psychological, like Santa Claus. when? yeah, we-ll send him right
over. what-s the address? fine, fine, he-ll be there pronto, remember
all the terms. we send him with a contract. bye."
Bagley hung up. hummed to himself, underlined the address.
"get one down, Danforth, a tired, thin one, no use shipping out the
best on the first shot."
Danforth walked over to the wire clothesline and took the
clamps off the fingers of a tired, thin one.
"walk him over here. what-s his name?"
"Herman. Herman Telleman."
"shit, he don-t look so good. looks like he still got a little
blood in him, and I can see some color in his eye-I think. listen,
Danforthm you got these wringers running good and tight? I want all
the guts squeezed out, no resistance at all, you understand? you do
your job and I-ll do mine."
"some of these guys came in pretty tough, some men have
more guts than others, you know that. you can-t always tell by
"all right, let-s try him. Herman. hey, sonny!"
"what-s up pops?"
"how-d you like a nice little job?"
"ah, hell no!"
"what? you don-t want a nice little job?"
"what the fuck for? my old man, he was from Jersey, he
worked all his damn life and after that we buried him with his own
money, ya know what he had left?"
"15 cents and the end of a drab dull life."
"but don-t you want a wife, a family, a home, respectability" a
new car every 3 years?"
"I don-t want no grind, daddy-o, don-t put me in no flip-out
cage. I just want to laze around. what the shit."
"Danforth, run this bastard through the wringer and make
those screws tight!"
Danforth grabbed the subject but not before Telleman yelled
"up your old mother-s bunghole-"
"and squeeze ALL THE GUTS OUT OF HIM, ALL OF THE
GUTS! do you hear me?"
"aw right, aw right!" answered Danforth. "shit, sometimes I
think you got the easy end of the stick!"
"forget sticks! squeeze the guts out of him. Nixon might end
"there you go talking that nonsense again! I don-t think you
been sleeping good, Bagley. something wrong with you."
"yeah, yeah, you-re right! insomnia. I keep thinking we should
be making soldiers! I toss all night! what a business that would be!"
"Bag, we do the best with what we can, that-s all."
"aw right, aw right, you run him through the wringer yet?"
Danforth brought Herman Telleman back. he did look a bit
different. all the color was gone from his eyes and he had on this
utterly false smile. it was beautiful.
"Herman?" asked Bagley.
"what do you feel? or how do you feel?"
"I don-t feel anything, sir."
"you like cops?"
"not cops, sir - policemen. they are the victims of our vicious-
ness even though they at times protect us by shooting us, jailing us,
beating us and fining us. There is no such thing as a bad cop. Police-
man, pardon me. do you realize that if there were no policemen,
we-d have to take the law into our own hands?"
"and then what would happen?"
"I never thought of that, sir."
"excellent, do you believe in God?"
"oh, yes sir, in God and Family and State and Country and
"sorry, now, here, do you like overtime on a job?"
"oh, yes sir! I would like to work 7 days a week if possible,
and 2 jobs if possible."
"money, sir, money for color tv, new autos, down payment on
a home, silk pajamas, 2 dogs, an electric shave, life insurance, medi-
cal insurance, oh all kinds of insurance and college educations for
my children if I have children and automatic doors on the garage and
fine clothes and 45 dollar shoes, and cameras, wrist watches, rings,
washers, refrigerators, new chairs, new beds, wall-to-wall carpeting,
donations to the church, thermostat heating and-"
"all right. stop. when are you going to use all this stuff?"
"I don-t understand, sir."
"I mean, when you are working night and day and overtime,
when are you going to enjoy these luxuries?"
"oh, there-ll be a day, there-ll be a day, sir!"
"and you don-t think your kids will grow up some day and
just think of you as an asshole?"
"after I-ve worked my fingers to the bone for them, sir! of
"excellent. now just a few more questions."
"don-t you think that all this constant drudgery is harmful to
the health and the spirit, the soul, if you will-?"
"oh hell, if I weren-t working all the time I-d just be sitting
around drinking or making oil paintings or fucking or going to the
circus or sitting in the park watching the ducks. things like that."
"don-t you think sitting around in the park watching the
ducks is nice?"
"I can-t make any money that way, sir."
"I mean, I-m through talking to you."
"o.k., this one-s ready. Dan. fine job. give him the contract,
make him sign it, he won-t read the fine print. he thinks we-re nice.
trot him down to the address. they-ll take him. I ain-t sent out a
better cost accountant in months."
"Danforth had Herman sign the contract, checked his eyes again
to make sure that they were dead, put the contract and the address
in his hand, led him to the door and gave him a gentle push down
Bagley just leaned back with an easy smile of success and
watched Danforth run the other 18 through the wringer. where the
guts went it was hard to see but almost every man lost his guts
somewhere along the line. the ones labeled: "married with family" or
"over 40" lost their guts easiest. Bagley leaned back as Danforth ran
them through the wringer, he heard them talking:
"it-s hard for a man as old as I am to get a job, oh, it-s so
"another one said::
"oh, baby, it-s cold outside."
"I get tired of booking and pimping, getting busted, busted,
busted. I need something secure, secure, secure, secure, secure-"
"all right, I-ve had my fun, now-"
"I don-t have a trade. every man should have a trade. I don-t
have a trade. what am I going to do?"
"I-ve been all over the world - in the army - I know things."
"if I had it to do all over again, I-d be a dentist or a barber."
"all my novels and short stories and poems keep coming back.
Shit, I can-t go to New York and shake the hands of the publishers! I
have more talent than anybody but you-ve got to have the inside! I-ll
take any kind of job but I am better than any kind of job that I take
because I am a genius."
"see how pretty I am? look at my nose? look at my ears? look
at my hair? my skin? the way I act! see how pretty I am? see how
pretty I am? see how pretty I am? why doesn-t anybody like me?
because I-m so pretty. they-re jealous, jealous, jealous-"
the phone rang again.
"SATISFACTORY HELP AGENCY. Bagley speaking. you
what? you need a deep-sea diver? motherfucker! what? oh, pardon.
sure, sure, we got dozens of unemployed deep-sea divers. his first 2
weeks- pay is ours. 500 a week, dangerous, you know, really danger-
ous - barnacles, crabs, all that- seaweed, maidens on rocks. octu-
pi, bends. head-colds. fuck, yes. first 2 weeks- pay is ours. if you
him after 2 weeks we give you $200. why? why? if a robin laid an
egg of gold in your front room chair would you ask WHY? would
you? we-ll send you a deep-sea diver in 45 minutes! the address?
fine, fine, ah, yes, fine, that-s near the Richfield Building. yes, I
know. 45 minutes. thank you. goodbye."
Bagley hung up. he was tried already and the day was just
"bring me a deep-sea diver type. bit fat around the belly. blue
eyes, medium hair on chest, balding before his time, slightly stoical,
cancer of the throat. that-s a deep-sea diver. anybody knows what a
deep-sea diver is. now bring one, mother."
Bagley yawned. Danforth unclamped one. brought him forth,
stood him before the desk.. his tag said, "Barney Anderson."
"hello, Barney," said Bag.
"where am I?" asked Barney.
"SATISFACTORY HELP AGENCY."
"boy, if you two ain-t a couple of greasy-looking mother-
fuckers, I ain-t never ever seen none!"
"what the fuck, Dan!"
"I ran him through 4 times."
"I told you to tighten those screws!"
"and I told you some men have more guts than others!"
"it-s all a myth, you damn fool!"
"who-s a damn fool?"
"you-re both damn fools," said Barney Anderson.
"I want you to run his ass through the wringer three times,"
"o.k., o.k., but first let-s you and me get straight."
"aw right, for instance-ast this Barney guy who his heroes
"Barney, hoose yr herows?"
"well, lemme see - Cleaver, Dillinger, Che, Malcolm X,
Gandhi, Jersey Joe Walcott, Grandma Barker, Castro, Van Gogh,
"ya see, he i-dentifies with all LOSERS. that makes him feel
good. he-s getting ready to lose. we-re going to help him. he-s been
conned on this soul-shit and that-s how we get their asses, there ain-t
no soul. it-s all con. there ain-t no heroes. it-s all con. there ain-t
winners - it-s all con and horseshit. there ain-t no saints, there ain-
no genius - that-s all con and fairytale, it makes the game go. each
man jut tries to hang on and be lucky - if he can. all else is
"aw right, aw right, I dig your losers! but what about Castro?
he looked pretty fat, last photo I saw of him."
"he subsists because the U.S. and Russia have decided to leave
him in the middle. but suppose they really put the pack on the
deck? what can he draw to? man, he don-t hold enough chips to get
into a decaying Egyptian whorehouse."
"fuck you two guys! I like who I like!" said Barney Anderson.
"Barney, when a man gets old enough, trapped enough, hun-
gry enough, weary enough - he-ll suck dick, tit, eat shit to stay
alive; either that or suicide. the human race ain-t got it, man. it-s a
"so we-re gonna change it, man. that-s the trick. if we can
make it to the moon we can clean the shit out of the shitbowl, we
just been concentrating on the wrong things."
"you-re sick, kid, and a little fat around the belly. and balding.
Dan, shape him up."
Danforth took Barney Anderson and rang and wrung and
screamed him through the wringer three times, then brought him
"Barney?" asked Bagley.
"Who are your heroes?"
"George Washington, Bob Hope, Mae West. Richard Nixon,
the bones of Clark Gable and all the nice people I-ve seen at Disney-
land. Joe Louis, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Babe Ruth, the Green
Berets, hell the whole United States Army and Navy and especially
the Marine Corps, and even the Treasury Dept., the CIA, the FBI,
United Fruit, the highway Patrol, the whole god damned L.A. Police
Dept., and the County Cops too. and I don-t mean -cops,- I mean
-policemen.- then there-s Marlene Dietrich, with this slit up the side
of her dress, she must be near 70 now? - dancing up at Vegas, my
dick got big, what a wonderful woman. the good American life and
the good American money can keep us young forever, don-t you
"this one-s really ready! I ain-t got much feeling left, but he
even makes me sick. make him sign his little contract and send him
out. they-ll love him. god, what a man-s gotta do to just stay alive.
sometimes I even hate my own job. that-s bad, ain-t it, Dan?"
******* "sure, Bag, and as soon as I send this asshole on his way, I
the little thing for you - a touch of the good ol- tonic."
"ah, fine, fine-what is it?"
"just a little quarter-turn through the wringer."
"oh, it-s fine for the blues or for extemporaneous thinking
stuff like that."
"will it work?"
"it beats aspirin."
"o.k., get rid of the asshole."
Barney Anderson was sent down the stairway. Bagley got up
and walked toward the nearest wringer. "these old gals - West and
Dietrich, still flashing tits and legs, hell t don-t make sense, they
were doing that when I was 6 years old."
"nuttin-. stretchers, girdles, powder, lights, false flesh cover-
ings, padding, pudding, straw, horseshit, they could make your
grandmother look like a 16 year old."
"my grandmother-s dead."
"they could still do it."
"yeah, yeah, I guess you-re right." Bagley walked toward the
"just a quarter turn now. can I trust you?"
"you-re my partner, ain-t you, Bag?"
"how long we been in business together?"
"so, o.k., when I say a QUARTER-TURN, I mean a QUAR-
"whatta I do?"
"just slip your hands in the rollers, it-s like a washing ma-
"yeah, here we go! whoopee!"
"hey, man, remember, just a quarter of a turn."
"sure, Bag, don-t you trust me?"
"I gotta now."
"you know, I been fucking your wife on the sly."
"you rotten son of a bitch! I-ll kill you!"
Danforth left the machine running, sat down behind Bagley-s
desk, lit a cigarette. he hummed a little tune, "lucky lucky me, I can
live in luxury, because I-ve got a pocket full of dreams-I-ve got a
he got up and walked over to the machine and Bagley.
"you said a quarter-turn," said Bagley. "it-s been a turn and a
"don-t you trust me?"
"more than ever, somehow."
"still, I been fucking your wife on the sly."
"well, I guess it-s all right. I get tired of fucking her. every man
gets tired of fucking his own wife."
"but I want you to want me to fuck your wife."
"well, I don-t care but I don-t know if I exactly want you to."
"I-ll be back in about 5 minutes."
Danforth went back, sat in Bagley-s swivel chair, put his feet
up on the desk and waited. he liked to sing. he sang songs: "I got
plenty of nuthin- and nuthin-s plenty for me. I got the stars, I got
the sun, I got the shining sea-"
Danforth smoked two cigarettes and went back to the machine.
"Bag, I been fucking your wife on the sly."
"oh, I want you to, man! I want you to! and ya know what?"
I-d kinda like to watch."
"sure, that-d be o.k."
Danforth went to the phone, dialed a number.
"Minnie? yeah, Dan. I-m comin- over ta fuck ya again. Bag?
oh, he-s comin- too. he wants ta watch. no, we-re not drunk. I just
decided to close shop for the day. we-ve made it already. with the
Israel-Arab thing and all the African wars, there-s nothing to worry
about. Biafra is a beautiful word. anyhow, we-re coming over. I want
to bunghole you. you got those big cheeks, jesus. I might even
bunghole Bag. I think his cheeks are bigger than yours. keep tight,
sweetie, we-re on our way!"
Dan hung up. another phone rang. he picked it up. "jam it you
rotten motherfucker, even the points of your tits smell like wet
dogturds in a Westerly wind." he hung up and smiled. walked over
and took Bagley out of the machine. they locked the office door and
walked down the steps together. when they walked outside the sun
was up and looking good. you could see through the thin skirts of
the women. you could almost see their bones. death and rot was
everywhere. it was Los Angeles, near 7th and Broadway, the inter-
section where the dead snubbed the dead and didn-t even know why
it was a taught game like jumprope or dissecting frogs or pissing in
the mailbox or jacking-off your pet dog.
"we got plenty a nuthin-," they sang, "and nuthin-s plenty for
arm and arm they made the underground garage, found Bag-s
69 Caddy, got in, each lit a dollar cigar, Dan driving, got it out of
there, almost hit a bum coming out of Pershing Square, turned West
toward the freeway, toward freedom, Vietnam, the army, fucking
large areas of grass and nude statues and French wine, Beverly
Bagley leaned over and ran down Danforth-s zipper as he
I hope he leaves some for his wife, Danforth thought.
it was a warm Los Angeles morning, or maybe it was after-
noon, he checked the dashboard clock - it read 11:37 a.m. just as
he came. he ran the Caddy up to 80. the asphalt slipped underneath
like the graves of the dead. he turned on the dash t.v., then reached
for the telephone, then remembered to zip up. "Minnie, I love you."
"I love you too, Dan," she answered. "is that slob with you?"
"right beside me. he just caught a mouthful."
"oh, Dan, don-t waste it!"
he laughed and hung up. they almost hit a nigger in a pickup
truck. he wasn-t black at all, he was a nigger, that-s all he was.
wasn-t a nicer city in the world when you had it made, and only one
worse when you didn-t have it made - the Big A. Danforth hit it up
to 85. a motorcycle smiled at him as he drove by. maybe he-d call Bob
later that night. Bob was always so funny. his 12 writers always gave
him those good lines. and Bob was just as natural as horseshit. it was
he threw out the dollar cigar, lit another, ran the Caddy up to 90,
straight at the sun like an arrow, business was good and life, and the
tires whirled over the dead and the dying and the dying-to-be.
it was a hot night in Tony's. you didn't even think of fucking.
just drink cool beer. Tony coasted a couple down to me and Indian
Mike, and Mike had the money out. I let him buy the first round.
Tony rang it up, bored, looked around - 5 or six others staring into
their beers, dolts, so Tony walked down to us.
"what's new, Tony?" I asked.
"ah, shit," said Tony.
"at ain't new."
"shit," said Tony.
"ah, shit," said Indian Mike.
we drank at our beers.
"what do you think of the moon?" I asked Tony.
"shit," said Tony.
"yeah," said Indian Mike, "guy's an asshole on earth he's an
asshole on the moon, makes no difference."
"they say there's probably no life on Mars," I said.
"so what?" asked Tony.
"oh shit," I said, "2 more beers."
Tony coasted them down, then walked down for his money.
rang it up. walked back. "shit it's hot. I wish I were deader than
"where do men go when they die, Tony?"
"shit, who cares?"
"don't you believe in the Human Spirit?"
"a bagga bullshit!"
"how about Che? Joan of Arc? Billy the Kid? all those?"
"a bagga bullshit!"
we drank our beers, thinking about it.
"look," I said, "I gotta take a piss."
I walked back to the urinal and there, as usual, was Petey the
I took it out and began to piss.
"you sure got a little dick," he told me.
"when I'm pissing or meditating, yeh, but I'm what you call
the super-stretch type. when I'm ready to go, each inch I got now
"that's good then, if you ain't lying, cause I see two inches
" I just show the head."
"I'll give you a dollar to suck your cock."
"that ain't much."
"you're showing more than head. you're showing every bit of
string you got."
"fuck you, Pete."
"you'll be back when you run out of beer money."
I walked back on out.
"2 more beers," I ordered.
Tony went through his routine, came back.
"it's so hot, I think I'm going crazy," he said.
"the heat just makes you realize your true self," I told Tony.
"wait a minute! you calling me a nut?"
"most of us are. but it's kept a secret."
? "all right, saying your bullshit is straight, how many sane men
are there on earth? are there any?"
" out of the billions?"
"well, I'd say 5 or 6."
"5 or 6?" said Indian Mike. "well, suck my cock!"
"look," said Tony. "how do you know I'm nuts? how do we
get away with it?"
"well, since we are all insane there are only a few to control
us, far too few, so they just let us run around insane. that's all they
can do at this moment. for a while I thought they might find some
place to live in outer space while they destroyed us. but now I know
that the insane control space also."
" how do you know?"
"because they planted an American flag on the moon."
"suppose the Russians had planted a Russian flag on the
"same thing," I said.
"then you're impartial?" Tony asked.
"I am impartial to all degrees of madness."
we became quiet. kept drinking. and Tony too, began pouring
himself scotch and waters. he could. he owned the place.
"jesus, it's hot," said Tony.
"shit, yeh," said Indian Mike.
then Tony began talking. "insanity," said Tony, "ya know,
there's something very insane going on at this very minute!"
"sure," I said.
"no, no, no-I mean right HERE at my place!"
"yeh. It's so crazy, sometimes I get scared."
"tell me all about it, Tony," I said, always ready for somebody
Tony leaned real close. "I know a guy's got a fuck-machine. no
crazy sex magazine shit. like you see in the ads. hot water bottles
with replaceable cornbeef pussies, all that nonsense. this guy has
really put it together. a German scientist, we got to him, I mean out
govt. did before the Russians could grab him. now keep it quiet."
"sure, Tony, sure-"
"Von Brashlitz. our govt. tried to get him interested in
SPACE. no go. a brilliant old guy, but he just has this FUCK MA-
CHINE in mind. at the same time he thinks he's some kind of an
artist, calls himself Michelangelo at times-they pensioned him off
at $500.00 a month to kind of keep him alive enough to stay outa
the nuthouses. they watched him a while, then got a little bored or
forgot, but they kept the checks coming, and now and then an agent
would talk to him ten or twenty minutes a month, write a report
that he was crazy, then leave, so he just drifted around from
town to town, dragging this big red trunk behind him. finally one
night he come in here and begins drinking. tells me that he is just a
tired old man, needs a real quiet place to do his research. I kept
putting him off. lotta nuts come in here, ya know."
"yeh," I said.
"then, man, he kept getting drunker and drunker, and he laid
it down to me. he had designed a mechanical woman who could give
a man a better fuck than any woman created throughout the centu-
ries! plus no Kotex, no shit, no arguments!"
"I been looking," I said, "for a woman like that all my life."
Tony laughed. "every man has. I thought he was crazy, of
course, until one night after closing I went down to his rooming
house with him and he took the FUCK MACHINE out of the red
"it was like going to heaven before you died."
" let me guess the rest," I asked Tony.
Von Brashlitz and his FUCK MACHINE are upstairs at your
place right now."
"uh huh," said Tony.
"twenty bucks a piece."
"20 bucks to fuck a machine?"
"he's outdone whatever Created us. you'll see."
"Petey the Owl will blow me for a buck."
"Petey the Owl is o.k. but he ain't no invention that beats the
I shoved over my 20.
"so help me, Tony, if this is some crazy kind of hot-weather
gag, you've lost your best customer!"
"like you said earlier, we're all crazy anyhow. It's up to you."
"right," I said.
"I only get 50 percent, ya gotta understand. the rest goes to
Von Brashlitz. 500 buck pension ain't much with inflation and
taxes, and Von B. drinks schnapps like crazy."
"let's make it," I said, "you've got 40 bucks. where's this
immortal FUCK MACHINE?"
Tony lifted a partition of the bar, said, "come through here.
take the stairway to the back rear, just go up there, knock, say,
'Tony sent us'."
"any door #?"
"oh, hell yes," I said, "what else?"
we found the stairway. walked up. "Tony will do anything for
a gag," I said.
we walked along, there it was: door #69.
I knocked: "Tony sent us."
"ah, do come in, gentleman!"
here was this old horny-looking freak, glass of schnapps in his
hand, double-lensed glasses. just like the old-timed movies. he ap-
peared to be having a visitor, a young thing, almost too young,
looking flimsy and strong at the same time.
she crossed her legs, flashing all the bit: nylon knees, nylon
thighs, and just that tiny part there where the long stockings ended
and just that touch of flesh began. she was all ass and breast, nylon
legs, clean blue laughing eyes-
"gentleman, ---my daughter, Tanya-"
"ah, yes, I know, I am so-old- but like the myth of the
black man with the ever-huge cock, there is also the myth of dirty
old Germans who never stop fucking, you may believe what you
wish to. this is my daughter, Tanya, anyhow-"
"hello, boys," she laughed.
then we all looked toward the door which was labeled: FUCK
MACHINE STORAGE ROOM.
he finished off his schnapps.
"and so- you boys came over for the best FUCK ever, ya?"
"Daddy!" said Tanya, "must you always be so crude?"
Tanya recrossed her legs, higher this time, and I almost came.
then the professor finished another schnapps, then got up and
walked over to the door labeled FUCK MACHINE STORAGE
ROOM. he turned and smiled at us, then very slowly opened the
door. he walked on in and came out rolling this thing on what
looked like a hospital bed on wheels.
it was NAKED, a clod of metal.
the prof rolled the damn thing right out in front of us, then
began humming some rotten song, probably something from the
a clod of metal with this hole in the center. the professor had
an oil can in his hand, poked it into the hole and began punching in
quite a quantity of this oil, meanwhile humming this insane German
he kept punching the oil in, then looked back over his shoul-
der and said, "nice, ya?" then he went back to work, pumping in the
Indian Mike looked at me, tried to laugh, said, "god damn-
we've been taken again!"
"yeah." I said, "it seems like it's been 5 years since I been laid,
but I'll be damned if I'll stick my cock into that mound of hard
Von Brashlitz laughed. walked over to his liquor cabinet,
found another 5th. of schnapps, poured a goody, sat down facing us.
"as we in Germany began knowing that the war was lost, and
the net began to tighten---down to the final battle of Berlin-we
knew that the war had taken on a new essence---the real war then
became who was to grab the most German scientists. If Russia got
well, I don't know how it really came out- numerically or in
terms of scientific brain-power. I only know that the Americans got
to me first, snapped me up, took me away in a car, gave me a drink,
put pistols to my head, made promises, talked madly. I signed every-
"all right," I said, "so much for history. but I'm still not going
to stick my dick, my poor little dick into that hunk of sheetmetal or
whatever it is! Hitler must have really been a madman to nursemaid
you. I wish the Russians had gotten to your ass first! I want my 20
Von Brashlitz laughed, "heeeheeeheeehe-it is just my little
joke, nien? heeeheeeheeeheee!"
he shoved that mound of lead back into the closet.slammed
the door. "oh, heheeehee!" had a bit more schnapps.
Von B. poureed another schnapps. he really put them down.
"gentlemen, I am an artist and an inventor! my FUCK MACHINE is
really my daughter, Tanya-"
"more little jokes, Von?" I asked.
"joke nothing! Tanya! go over and sit in the gentleman's lap."
Tanya laughed, got up, walked over and sat in my lap. a FUCK
MACHINE? I couldn't believe it! her skin was skin, or so it seemed,
and her tongue as it worked into my mouth as we kissed, it was not
mechanical - each movement was different, responding to my own.
I was busy at it, ripping her blouse from her breasts, working
tangled; we somehow got to standing - and I took her standing up,
my hands reaching down, spreading her asshole as I pumped, she came - I
could feel the throbbing, and I joined.
it was the best fuck I had ever had!
Tanya went to the bathroom, cleaned-up and showered,
dressed-up again for Indian Mike. I guess.
"man's greatest invention," Von Brashlitz said quite seriously.
he was quite right.
then Tanya came out and sat on MY lap.
"NO! NO! TANYA! IT'S THE OTHER MAN'S TURN! YOU
JUST FINISHED FUCKING THAT ONE!"
she didn't seem to hear. and it was strange, even for a FUCK
MACHINE, because, really, I had never been a very good lover.
"do you love me?" she asked.
"I love you. and I am so happy. and- I'm not supposed to
be alive. you know that, don't you?"
"god damn it!" screamed the old man, "this FUCKING MA-
CHINE!" he walked over to this varnished box with the word
TANYA printed on the side. there were these little wires sprouting
out of it; there were dials, and needles that quivered, and many
colors, lights that blinked on and off, things that ticked-Von B.
was the craziest pimp I had ever met, he kept playing with the dials,
then he looked at Tanya:
"25 YEARS! damn near a lifetime to build you! I even had to
hide you from HITLER! and now- you try to turn into a mere
and ordinary bitch!"
"I'm not 25," said Tanya, "I'm 24." "you see? you see? just like a
he went back to his dials.
"you've put on a different shade of lipstick," I said to Tanya.
"you like it?"
she leaned over and kissed me.
Von B. kept playing with the dials. I felt that he would win.
Von Brashlitz turned to Indian Mike. "it's just a minor kink in
the machine. trust me. I'll get it straight in a minute, ya?"
"I hope so," said Indian Mike, "I've got 14 inches waiting and
am twenty bucks down.
"I love you," Tanya told me, "I will never fuck any other
man. If I can't have you, I won't have anybody."
"I'll forgive you, Tanya, for anything that you do."
the prof was getting pissed. he kept turning the dials but noth-
ing was happening. "TANYA! It is time for you to FUCK the
OTHER man! I am- getting tired-must have a bit of
schnapps-be off to sleep-Tanya-"
"ah," said Tanya, "you rotten old fuck! you and your
schnapps, and then nibbling at my tits all night, so I can't even sleep
while you can't even raise a decent hard! you're disgusting!"
"I SAID, 'YOU CAN'T EVEN RAISE A DECENT HARD!'"
"you, Tanya, will pay for this! you are MY creation, I am not
he kept turning his magic knobs, I mean, on the machine. he
was quite angry, and you could see that, somehow, the anger gave
him a vital brilliance beyond himself, "just wait, Mike. all I have to
do it to adjust the electronics! Wait! a short! I see it!"
then he leaped up. this guy they had saved from the Russians.
he looked at Indian Mike. "it's straight now! the machine is in
order! have fun!"
then he walked over to his schnapps bottle, poured another
goody, sat down to watch.
Tanya got off of my lap and walked over to Indian Mike. I
watched Tanya and Indian Mike embrace.
Tanya worked Indian Mike's zipper down, got his cock out,
and man he had plenty of cock! he'd said 14 inches but it looked
more like 20.
then Tanya put both her hands around Mike's cock.
he moaned in glory.
then she ripped the whole cock right out of and off of his
body. threw it to the side.
I saw the thing roll along the rug like an insane sausage, drib-
bling little sad trailets of blood. It rolled up against a wall. then
stayed there like something with a head but no legs and no place to
go-which was true enough.
next, here came the BALLS flying through the air. a heavy,
looping sight. they simply landed upon the center of the rug and
didn't know what to do but bleed.
so, they bled.
Von Brashlitz, the hero of the America-Russ invasion took a
hard look at what was left of Indian Mike, my old beer-drinking
buddy, very red on the floor, flowing from the center - Von B took
the highroad, down the stairway-
room 69 had done everything but that.
and then I asked her: "Tanya, the heat will be here very quick-
ly. shall we dedicate the room number to our love?"
"of course, my love!"
we made it, just in time, and the stupid heat ran in.
one of the learned then pronounced Indian Mike dead.
and since Von B. was a kind of U.S.Govt. product, there was a
hell of a lot of people around - various chickenshit officials -
firemen, reporters, the cops, the inventor, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and
various other forms of human shit.
Tanya came over and sat in my lap. "they will kill me now.
please try not to be sad." I didn't answer.
then Von Brashlitz was screaming, pointing to Tanya - "I
TELL YOU, GENTLEMEN, SHE HAS NO FEELING! I SAVED
THE DAMN THING FROM HITLER! I tell you, it is nothing but a
they all just stood there, nobody believed Von B.
it was simply the most beautiful machine, and so-called wo-
man, they had ever seen.
"Oh shit! You idiots! Every woman is a fucking machine, can't
you see that? They play for the highest bidder! THERE IS NO SUCH
THING AS LOVE! THAT IS A FAIRY-TALE MIRAGE LIKE
they still wouldn't believe.
"THIS is only a machine! have FEAR! WATCH!"
VonBrashlitz grabbed one of Tanya's arms.
ripped it completely off her body.
and inside - inside the hole of her shoulder - you could see it -
there was nothing but wire and tubes - coiled and running things -
plus some minor substance that faintly resembled blood.
I saw Tanya standing there with this coil of wire hanging from
her shoulder, where the arm used to be, she looked at me:
"please, for me to! I asked you to try not to be too sad."
I watched as they ganged her, and ripped and raped and tore.
I couldn't help it. I put my head down between my legs and
also, Indian Mike never got his 20 bucks worth.
some months went by. I never went back to the bar. There was
a trial but the govt. exonerated Von B. and his machine. I moved to
another town. far away. and one day sitting in a barbershop, I
picked up this sex mag. here was an ad: "Blow up your own little
dolly! $29.95. Resistant rubber material, very durable. Chains and
whips included in package. A bikini, bras, panties. 2 wigs, lipstick
and small jar of love-potion included. Von Brashlitz Co."
I sent him a money order. some box number in Mass. he had
the package arrived in about 3 weeks. very embarrassing. I
didn't have a bicycle pump, and then I got the hots when I took the
thing out of the package. I had to go down to the corner gas station
and use their air hose.
it looked better as it blew up. big tits. big ass.
"whatcha got there, pal?" the gas station man asked me.
"look, man, I'm just borrowing a little air. don't I buy a lot of
gas here, huh?"
"o.k., that's o.k., you can have the air. I just damn well can't
help wondering whatcha got there-"
"just forget it!" I said.
"JESUS! look at those TITS!"
"I AM looking, asshole!"
I left him there with his tongue hanging out, then threw her
over my shoulder and made it back to my place. I carried her into
the big question was yet to come?
I spread the legs and looked for some kind of opening.
Von B. hadn't completely slipped.
I climbed on top and began kissing that rubber mouth. now
and then I reached for one of the giant rubber tits and sucked upon
it. I had put a yellow wig on her and rubbed the love-potion all over
my cock. It didn't take much love-potion. maybe he'd sent a year's
I kissed her passionately behind the ears, stuck my finger up
her ass, kept pumping. then I leaped off, chained her arms behind
her back, there was this little lock and key and then I whipped her
ass good with the leather thongs.
god, I gotta be nuts! I thought.
then I flipped her over and put it back in. humped and
humped. frankly, it was rather boring. I imagined male dogs screwing
female cats; I imagined 2 people fucking through the air as they
jumped from the Empire State Building. I imagined a pussy as large
as an octopus, crawling toward me, wet and stinking and aching for
an orgasm. I remembered all the panties, knees, legs, tits, pussies I
had ever seen. the rubber was sweating; I was sweating.
"I love you, darling!" I whispered into one of her rubber ears.
I hate to admit it, but I forced myself to come into that lousy
hunk of rubber. It was hardly a Tanya at all.
I took a razor blade and cut the thing all to shit. dumped it
out with the beercans.
how many men in America bought those stupid things?
or then you can pass half a hundred fuck machines in a 10
minute walk on almost any main sidewalk of America - the only
difference being that they pretended that they were human.
poor Indian Mike. with that 20 inch dead cock.
all the poor Indian Mikes. all the climbers into Space. all the
whores of Vietnam and Washington.
poor Tanya, her belly had been a hog's belly. veins the veins of
a dog. she rarely shatted or pissed, she had just fucked - heart, voice
and tongue borrowed from others - there were only supposed to be
17 possible organ transplants at that time. Von B. was far ahead of
poor Tanya, who had only eaten a little - mostly cheap cheese
and raisins. she had had no desire for money or property or large
new cars or overexpensive homes. she had never read the evening
paper. had no desire for colored television, new hats, rain boots,
backfence conversation with idiot wives; nor had she desired a hus-
band who was a doctor, a stockbroker, a congressman or a cop.
and the guy at the gas station keeps asking me, "hey, what
happened to that thing you brought down here one day and blew up
with the air hose?"
but he doesn't ask anymore. I buy my gas at a new place. I
don't even get my hair cut anymore where I saw that magazine with
the Von Brashlitz rubber dolly sex ad. I am trying to forget every-
what would you do?
The first three months of my marriage to Sarah were acceptable but I'd
say a little after that our troubles began. She was a good cook, and for the
first time in years I was eating well. I began to put on weight. And Sarah
began to make remarks.
"Ah, Henry, you're beginning to look like a turkey they're plumping for
"Ats right, baby," I told her.
I was a shipping clerk in an auto parts warehouse and the pay was
My only joys were eating, drinking beer and going to bed with Sarah.
Not exactly a
rounded life but a man had to take what he could get. Sarah was plenty.
about her spelled S-E-X. I had really gotten to know her at a Christmas
party for the
employees at the warehouse. Sarah was a secretary there. I noticed none
fellows got near her at the party and I couldn't understand it. I had
never seen a sexier woman and she didn't act the fool either. I got close to
her and we drank and talked. She was beautiful. There was something odd
about her eyes, though. They just kept looking into you and the eyelids
didn't seem to blink. When she went to the restroom I walked over to Harry
"Listen, Harry," I asked, "how come none of the boys make a play for
"She's a witch, man, a real witch. Stay away."
"There's no such thing as witches, Harry. All that has been disproven.
All those women they burned at the stake in the old days, it was a cruel and
a horrible mistake. There's no such thing as a witch."
"Well, maybe they did burn a lot of women wrongly, I can't say. But
this bitch is a witch, take it from me."
"All she needs, Harry, is understanding."
"All she needs," said Harry, "is a victim."
"How do you know?"
"Facts," said Harry. "Two guys here, Manny, a salesman. And Lincoln, a
clerk." "What happened?"
"They just kind of disappeared in front of our eyes, only so slowly---
you could see them going, vanishng..."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't want to talk about it. You'd think I was crazy."
Harry walked off. Then Sarah came out of the lady's room. She looked
"What did Harry tell you about me?" she asked.
"How did you know I was talking to Harry?"
"I know," she said.
"He didn't say much."
"Whatever he said, forget it. It's bullshit. I won't let him have any
and he's jealous. He
likes to badmouth people."
"I'm not concerned with Harry's opinions," I told her.
"You and I are going to make it, Henry," she said.
She went to my apartment with me after the party and I'm telling you
I've never been laid like that. She was the woman of all women. It was a
month or so later that we were married. She quit her job right off, but I
didn't say anything because I was so glad to have her. Sarah made her own
clothes, did her own hair. She was a remarkable woman. Very remarkable.
But, as I said, it was after about 3 months that she began making these
remarks about my weight. At first they were just genial little remarks, then
she began to get scornful about it. I came home one night and she said,
"Take off your damned clothes!"
"What, my darling?"
"You heard me, bastard! Strip!"
Sarah was a little different then than I had ever seen her. I took off
my clothes and underwear and threw them on the couch. She stared at me.
"Awful," she said, "what a lot of shit!"
"I said you look just like a big tub of shit!"
"Listen, honey, what's wrong? You got the rag on tonight?"
"Shut up! Look at that stuff hanging at your sides!"
She was right. There seemed to be a little pouch of fat on each side,
hanging just above the hips. Then she doubled up her fists and hit me hard
several times on each of the pouches.
"We've got to punch that shit! Break up the fat tissues, the cells..."
She punched me again, several times.
"Ow! Baby, that hurts!"
"Good! Now, hit yourself!"
"Go ahead, damn you!"
I hit myself several times, quite hard. When I was finished the things
were still there, though now they looked quite red.
"We're going to get that shit off of you," she told me.
I figured that is was love and decided to cooperate...
Sarah began counting my calories. She took away my fried foods, bread
and potatoes, salad dressing, but I kept my beer. I had to show her who was
wearing the pants in our family.
"No, damn it," I said, "I won't give up my beer. I love you very much
but the beer stays!"
"All right," said Sarah, "we'll make it work anyway."
"Make what work?"
"I mean, get that shit off you, get you down to a desirable size."
"And what's a desirable size?" I asked.
Each night when I got home she'd ask me the same questionl
"Did you punch your sides today?"
"Oh, hell yes!"
"How many times?"
"400 punches on both sides, hard."
I would walk down the streets punching at my sides. People looked at me
but it didn't matter after a while because I knew that I was accomplishing
something and they weren't."
Things were working, marvelously. I came down from 225 to 197. Then
from 197 to 184. I felt ten years younger. People remarked about how good I
looked. Everybody except Harry the truck driver. Of course, he was just
jealous because he never got into Sarah's panties. His tough shit.
One night on the scales I was down to 179.
I said to Sarah, "Don't you think we've come down enough? Look at me!"
The things on my sides were long gone. My belly hung in. My cheeks looked as
if I were sucking them in.
"According to the charts," said Sarah, "according to my charts, you've
not yet reached a desirable size."
"Look," I told her, "I'm six feet tall. What is the desireable weight?"
And then Sarah answered me quite strangely.
"I didn't say 'desirable weight'," I said, 'desireable size'. This is
the New Age, the Atomic Age, and most important the Age of Overpopulation. I
am the Saviour of the World. I have the answer to the Overpopulation
Explosion. Explosion. Let others work on Pollution. Solving Overpopulation
is the root; it will solve Pollution and many other things too."
"What the hell are you talking about?" I asked, ripping the cap off a
bottle of beer.
"Don't worry about it," she answered, "you'll find out."
Then I began to notice, as I stepped on the scales, that although I was
still losing weight I didn't seem to be getting any thinner. It was strange.
And then I noticed that my pantscuffs were hanging down over my shoes---ever
so slightly, and that my shirtcuffs were hanging down a bit over my wrists.
When I drove to work I notcied that the steering wheel seemed further away.
I had to pull the car seat up a notch.
One night I got on the scales.
"Look here, Sarah."
"There's something I don't understand."
"I seem to be shrinking."
"Oh, you fool! That's incredible! How can a man shrink? Do you really
think that your diet is shinking your bones? Bones melt! Rduction of
calories only reduces fat. Don't be an idiot! Shrinking? Impossible!"
Then she laughed.
"All right," I said, "come here. Here's a pencil. Now I'm gonna stand
against this wall. My mother used to do this with me as a kid when I was
growing. Now put a line right there on the wall where the pencil hits after
you place it straight across the top of my head."
"All right, silly," she said.
She drew the line.
A week later I was down to 131. It was happening faster and faster.
"Come here, Sarah."
"Yes, silly boy."
"Now, draw the line."
She drew the line, I turned around.
"Now see here, I've lost 24 pounds and 8 inches in the last week. I'm
melting away! I'm now five feet two. This is madness! Madness! I've had
enough. I've caught you cutting my pants legs, my shirt sleeves. It won't
work. I'm going to begin eating again. I think that you are some kind of
It was soon after that the boss called me into the office
I climbed into the chair across from his desk.
"Henry Markson Jones II?"
"Of course, sir."
"Well, Jones, we've been watching you carefully. I'm afraid you just
don't fit this job anymore. We hate to see you go like this...I mean , we
hate to let you go like this, but..."
"Look, sir, I always do my best."
"We know you do, Jones, but you're just not doing a man's job back
He let me go. Of course, I knew that I would get my unemployment
But I thought it was small of him to let me go like that...
I stayed home with Sarah. Which made it worse---she fed me. It got so I
couldn't reach the refrigerator door anymore. And then she put me on a small
Soon I was two feet tall. I had to use a potty chair to shit. But she
still let me have my beer, as promised.
"Ah, my little pet," she said, "you're so small and cute!"
"I'm not a duck, I'm a man!"
"Oh my little sweet man-y-man!"
She picked me up and kissed me with her red lips...
Sarah got me down to being 6 inches tall. She carried me to the store
in her purse. I could look out at the people through the little air holes
she had poked in her purse. I will say one thing for the woman. She still
allowed me to have my beer. I drank it by the thimble. A quart would last me
a month. In the old days it was gone in 45 minutes. I was resigned. I knew
that if she wished to do so she could make me vanish entirely. Better 6
inches than nothing. Even a little life becomes very dear when you near the
end of life. So, I amused Sarah. It was all I could do. She made me little
clothes and shoes and put me on top of the radio and turned on the music and
said, "Dance, little one! Dance, my dunce! Dance, my fool!"
Well, I couldn't collect my unemployment compensation so I danced on
top of the radio while she clapped her hands and laughed.
You know, spiders frightened me terribly and flies were the size of
giant eagles, and if a cat ever caught me it would torture me like a small
mouse. But life was still dear to me. I danced and sang and hung on. No
matter how little a man has he will find that he will always settle for
less. When I shit on the rug I would get spanked. Sarah put little pieces of
paper around and I shit on them. And I ripped off little pieces of that
paper to wipe my butt with. It felt like cardboard. I got hemorrhoids.
Couldn't sleep nights. Feelings of inferiority, of being trapped. Paranoia?
Anyhow, I felt good when I sang and danced and Sarah let me have my beer.
She kept me at an exact six inches for some reason. What the reason was, it
was beyond me. As almost everything else was beyond me.
I made up songs for Sarah, that's what I called them: Songs for Sarah:
"o, I'm just a little snot,
that's all right until I get hot,
then there's nothing to stick it in
except the fucking head of a pin!
Sarah would clap her hands and laugh.
"if ya wanna be an admir in the queen's navy
just be a clark for the fuckin' nark,
grow 6 inches tall and when the Queen goes to pee
you can peek up inter drippin' pussy..."
And Sarah would clap her hands and laugh. Well, that was all right. It
had to be...
But one night something very disgusting happened. I was singing and
dancing and Sarah was on the bed, naked, clapping her hands, drinking wine
and laughing. I was putting on a good show. One of my best. But, as always,
the top of the radio got hot and started burning my feet. I couldn't stand
"Look, baby," I said, "I've had it. Take me down. Gimme a beer. No
wine. You drink that cheapass wine. Gimme a thimble of that good beer."
"Sure, sweetie," she said, "you put on a wonderful show tonight. If
Manny and Lincoln had acted as nice as you, they'd be here tonight. But they
didn't sing or dance, the brooded. And worst of all, they objected to the
"And what was the Final Act?" I asked.
"Now, sweetie, just drink your beer and relax. I want you to enjoy the
Final Act. You are evidently a much more talented person than Manny or
Lincoln. I do believe that we can have the Culmination of the Opposites."
"O, hell yes," I said, draining my beer. "Now give me a refill. And
just what is the Culmination of the Opposites?"
"Enjoy your beer, little sweetie, you'll know soon enough."
I finished my beer and then the disgusting thing happened, a most
disgusting thing. Sarah picked me up and placed me down between her legs,
which she spread open just a bit. Then I was facing a forest of hair. I
hardened my back and neck muscles, sensing what was to come. I was jammed
into darkness and stench. I heard Sarah moan. Then Sarah began to move me
slowly back and forth. As I said, the stench was unbearable, and it was
difficult to breathe, but somehow there was air in there---various side-
pockets and drafts of oxygen. Now and then my head, the top of my head
bumped The Man in the Boat and then Sarah would let out an extra-illuminated
Sarah began moving me faster and faster. My skin began to burn, it
became harder to breathe; the stench became worse. I could hear her panting.
It occured to me that the sooner I ended the thing the less I would suffer.
Each time I was rammed forward I would arch my back and neck, tilt
everything of me into this hooking curve of a thing, bumping The Man in the
Suddenly I was ripped out of that terrible tunnel. Sarah held me up to
"Come, you damned fiend of a thing! Come!" she demanded.
Sarah was totally drunk on wine and passion. I felt myself being rushed
back into the tunnel. She worked me rapidly back and forth. Then suddenly I
sucked air into my lungs to increase my size and then I gathered saliva
intlo my jaws and spit it out---once, twice, 3 times, 4, 5, six times, then
I stopped...The stench increased beyond all imagination and then, at last, I
was lifted out into the air.
Sarah lifted me into the lamplight and began kissing me all over my
head and shoulders.
"O, my darling! o, my precious little cock! I love you!"
Then she kissed me with those horrible red and painted lips. I vomited.
Then, spent in a swoon of wine and passion, she placed me between her
breasts. I rested there and listened to her heart beat. She had taken me off
of her damnd leash, that silver chain, but it didn't matter. I was hardly
free. One of her massive breasts had fallen to one side and I seemed to be
right over the heart. The heart of the witch. If I were the answer to the
Population Explosion then why hadn't she used me as more than a thing of
entertainment, a sexual toy? I stretched out there and listened to that
heart. I decided that she was a witch. Then I glanced up. Do you know what I
saw? A most amazing thing. Up in that little crevice below the headboard. A
hat pin. Yes, a hat pin, long with one of those round purple glass things at
the end of it. I walked up between her breasts, climbed her throat, got up
on her chin(after much trouble), then walked quietly across her lips, and
then she stirred a bit as I almost fell and had to grab to a nostril for
support. Very slowly I got up by the right eye--- her head was tilted
slightly to the left---and then I was up on the forehead, having gone past
the temple, and I was up into the hair---very difficult, wading through.
Then I stood and stretched---reached up and just managed to grab the hat
pin. Coming down was faster but more treacherous. I almost lost my balance
several times, carrying that hat pin. One fall and it was over. I laughed
several times because it was so ridiculous. The outcome of an office party
for the gang, Merry Christmas.
Then I was down under that massive breast again. I laid the hat pin
down and listened again. I listened for the exact sound of the heart. I
determined it to be at a spot exactly below a small brown birthmark. Then I
stood up. I picked up the hat pin with its purple glass end, beautiful in
the lamplight. And I thought, will it work? I was 6 inches tall and I judged
the hat pin to be half again longer than 1.9 inches. The heart seemed closer
I lifted the pin and plunged it in. Just below the birthmark.
Sarah rolled and convulsed. I held onto the hat pin. She almost threw
me to the floor---which by comparative size seemed a thousand feet or more
and would have killed me. I hung on. Her lips formed an odd sound.
Then she seemed to quiver all over like a woman freezing.
I reached up and jammed the remaining 3 inches of the pin down into her
chest until the beautiful purple glass head of the pin was up against her
Then Sarah was still, I listened.
I heard the heart, one two, one two, one two, one two, one...
And then with my little killer's hands, I clutched and gripped the
bedsheet and made my way to the floor. I was 6 inches tall and real and
frightened and hungry. I found a hole in one of the bedroom screens which
faced east and ran from ceiling to floor. I grabbed at the branch of a bush,
climbed on, clambered along the branch to the inside of the bush. Nobody
knew that Sarah was dead but I. But that had no realistic good. If I were to
go on, I would have to have something to eat. But I couldn't help wondering
how my case would be evolved in a court of law? Was I guilty? I ripped off a
leaf and tried to eat it. No good. Hardly. Then I saw the lady in the court
to the south set out a plate of catfood for her cat. I crawled out of the
bush and worked my way toward the catfood, watching for animals and
movements. It tasted worse than anything I had ever eaten but I had no
choice. I ate all the catfood I could---death tasted worse. Then I walked
over to the bush and climbed back into it.
There I was, 6 inches tall, the answer to The Population Explosionm
hanging in a bush with a bellyful of catfood.
There are details I don't want to bore you with. Escapes from cats and
dogs and rats. Feeling myself growing bit by bit. Watching them carry
Sarah's body out of there. Going in there and finding myself too small,
still, to open the refrigerator door.
The day the cat almost caught me as I ate at his bowl. I had to break
I was then 8 or 10 inches tall, I was growing. I even scared pigeons.
When you scare pigeons you know that you are getting there. I simply ran
down the street one day, hiding along the shadows of buildings and down
beneath hedges and the like. I kept running and hiding until I got outside a
supermarket and I hid under a newspaper stand just outside the entrance to
the store. Then, as a big woman walked up and the electric door opened, I
walked in behind her. One of the clerks at a checkstand looked up as I
walked in behind the woman:
"Hey, what the hell's that?"
"What?" a customer asked him.
"I thought I saw something," said the clerk, "maybe not. I hope not."
I somehow sneaked back to the storeroom without being seen. I hid
behind some cartons of baked beans. That night I came out and had a fine
feed. Potato salad, pickles, ham on rye, potato chips and beer, plenty of
beer. It became about the same routine. Each day, all day, I hid in the
storeroom and at night I'd come out and have a party. But I was growing and
hiding was becoming more difficult. I got to watching the manager put the
money in the safe each night. He was the last to leave. I counted the pauses
as he put the money away each night. It seemed to be---7 right, 6 left, 4
right, 6 left, 3 right, open. I went over to the safe each night and tried
the numbers. I had to make a kind of stairway out of empty cartons in order
to get up to the dial. It didn't seem to work but I kept trying. Each night,
I mean. Meanwhile I was growing fast. Perhaps I was 3 feet tall. The store
had a small clothing section and I had to keep going into the larger sizes.
The population problem was returning. Then one night the safe opened. I had
23 thousand dollars in cash. I must have hit them the night before banking
time. I took the key the manager used in order to get out without the
burglar alarm ringing. Then I walked down the street and got a week's worth
of lodging at the Sunset Motel. I told the lady I worked as a midget in the
movies. It just seemed to bore her.
"No television or loud noises after ten p. m. That's our rule here."
She took my money, gave me a receipt and closed her door.
They key said room 103. I hadn't even looked at the room. The doors
said 98, 99, 100, 101, I was walking north toward the Hollywood Hills,
toward those mountains behind them, with the great and golden light of the
Lord shining upon me, growing.
** 25 BUMS IN RAGS**
you know how it is with horseplayers. you hit it hot and you
think it's all over. I had this place in back, even had my own garden,
planted all kinds of tulips, which grew, beautifully and amazingly. I
had the green hand. I had the green money. what system I had
devised I can no longer remember, but it was working and I wasn't
and that's a pleasant enough way to live. and there was Kathy.
Kathy had it. the old guy next door would actually slobber at the
mouth when he saw her. he was always knocking at the door.
"Kathy! oooh, Kathy! Kathy!"
I'd answer the door, just dressed in my shorts.
"ooooh, I thought-"
"I thought Kathy-"
"Kathy's taking a shit. any message?"
"I-bought these bones for your dog."
he had a big bag of dry chicken bones.
"feeding a dog chicken bones is like putting broken razor
blades in a child's cereal. you trying to kill my dog, fucker?"
"then jam the bones and split."
"I don't understand."
"stick that bag of chickenbones up your ass and get the hell
out of here!"
"I just thought Kathy-"
"I told you, Kathy's taking a SHIT!"
I slammed the back door on him.
"you shouldn't be so hard on the old fart, Hank, he says I
remind him of his daughter when she was young."
"all right, so he made it with his daughter. let him screw swiss
cheese. I don't want him at the door."
"I suppose you think I let him in after you go to the track?"
"I don't even wonder about that."
"what do you wonder about?"
"all I wonder is which one of you rides topside."
"you son of a bitch. you can leave now!"
I was getting on my shirt and pants, then socks and shoes.
I won't be 4 blocks away before you're locked in embrace."
she threw a book at me. I wasn't looking and the edge of the
book hit me over the right eye. a cut started and a spot of blood hit
my hand as I tied my right shoe.
"I'm sorry, Hank."
"don't get NEAR me!"
I went out and got into the car, backed out the drive at 35
miles an hour, taking part of the hedge with me, then some of the
stucco from the front house with my left rear fender. there were
blood on my shirt then and I took out my handkerchief and held it
over the eye. it was going to be a bad Saturday at the track. I was
I bet like the atomic bomb was on the way. I wanted to make
ten grand. I bet longshots. I didn't cash a ticket. I lost $500. all I
going to be a terrible Saturday night. I parked the car and went in
the back door.
"you look like death. what happened?"
"I blew it. I blew the roll. 500."
"jesus. I'm sorry," she said, "it's my fault." she came up to
me, put her arms around me. "god damn, I'm sorry, daddy. it was
my fault, I know it."
"forget it. you didn't make the bets."
"are you still mad?"
"no, no, I know you're not fucking that old turkey."
"can I get you something to eat?"
"no, no, just get us a fifth of whiskey and the paper."
I got up and went to the hidden money cache. we were down
to $180. well, it had been worse, many times, but I felt that I was on
my way back to the factories and the warehouses, if I could get that.
I came out with a ten. the dog still liked me. I pulled his ears. he
didn't care how much money I had or how little. a real ace dog.
yeah. I walked out of the bedroom. Kathy was putting on lipstick in
front of the mirror. I pinched her on the ass and kissed her behind
"get me some beer and cigars too. I need to forget."
she left and I listened to her heels clicking on the drive. she
was as good a woman as I found and I had found her in a bar. I
leaned back in the chair and stared at the ceiling. a bum. I was a
bum. always this distaste for work, always trying to live off my luck.
when Kathy came back I told her to pour a big one. she looked
funny, and fine. we'd make love. we'd make love through the sad-
ness. I just hated to see it go: car, house, dog, woman. it had been
gentle and easy living.
I guess I was shaken because I opened the paper and looked at
the WANT ADS.
"hey, Kathy, here's something. men wanted, Sunday. pay
"oh, Hank, rest up tomorrow. you'll get those horses Tuesday.
everything will look better then."
"but shit, baby, every buck counts! they don't run on Sunday.
Caliente, yeah, but you can't beat that 25 percent Caliente take and
the distance. I can get good and drunk tonight and then pick up this
shit tomorrow. those extra bucks might make the difference."
Kathy looked at me funny. she'd never heard me talk like that
before. I always acted like the money would be there. that 500
dollar loss had left me in shock. she phoned me another tall one. I
drank it right off. shock, shock, lord, lord, the factories. the wasted
days, the days without meaning, the day of bosses and idiots, and
the slow and brutal clock.
we drank until two a.m., just like at the bar, then went to bed,
mad love, slept. I set the alarm for four a.m., was up and in the car
and downtown skidrow at 4:30 a.m. I stood on the corner with
about 25 bums in rags. they stood there rolling cigarettes and drinking
well, it's money, I thought. I'll get back-some day I'll
vacation in Paris or Rome. shit on these guys. I don't belong here.
then something said to me, that's what they're ALL thinking
I don't belong here. each one of THEM is thinking that about HIM-
SELF. and they're right, so?
the truck came along about 5:10a.m. and we climbed in.
god, I could be sleeping along behind Kathy's fine ass about
now. but it's money.
guys were talking about just getting off the boxcar. they stank,
poor fellows. but they didn't seem miserable. I was the only one
who was miserable.
I would be getting up about now, taking a piss. I would be
having a beer in the kitchen, looking for the sun, seeing it get
peeking at my tulips. then going back to bed with Kathy.
the guy next to me said, "hey, buddy!"
"yeah," I said.
"I'm a Frenchman," he said.
I didn't answer.
"can you use a blowjob?"
"no," I said.
"I saw one guy blowing another in the alley this morning. this
one guy had this LONG THIN white dick and the other guy was still
sucking and the come was dripping out of his mouth. I watched and
watched and god I'm hot as hell. let me suck your dick, buddy!"
"no," I told him, "I don't feel like it right now."
"well, if I can't do that, maybe you can suck mine."
"get the hell out of here!" I told him.
the Frenchman moved further back into the truck. by the time
we'd gone another mile his head was bobbing. he was doing it righ
in front of everybody, to some old guy who looked like an Indian.
"GO, BABY, GET IT ALL!!!" somebody shouted.
some of the bums laughed but most of them were just silent,
drinking their wine and rolling their cigarettes. the old Indian acted
like it wasn't even happening. by the time we got to Vermont the
Frenchman had got it all and we all climbed out, the Frenchman, the
Indian, myself and the other bums. they gave us each a little tab of
doughnut and a coffee. the waitress held her nose up. we stank. dirty
then somebody finally hollered, "everybody out!"
I followed them out and we went into a big room and sat in
these chairs like they used to have in school, or college rather, say
like in Music Appreciation. with the big slab of wood for the right
arm so you could open your notebook and write on it there. any-
how, so there we sat for another 45 minutes. then some snot kid
with a can of beer in his hand, said, "o.k., get your SACKS!"
the bums all leaped up at ONCE and RAN to this large back
room. what the hell? I thought. I slowly walked on back and looked
in the other room. the bums were in there pushing and fighting for
the best paper carriers. it was deadly and senseless battle. when the
sack I found on the floor. it was very dirty and full of rips and
when I walked out into the other room the bums all had their paper
carriers on their backs, wearing them. I found a seat and just sat
there with mine in my lap. somewhere along the line I think they
had gotten our names; I think it was before you get your coffee and
doughnut tab you gave your name. so we sat there and were called
out in groups of 5 or 6 or 7. this took, it seemed, another hour.
anyhow, by the time I got into the back of this smaller truck with a
few others, the sun was well up. they gave us such a little map.I
recognized the streets all right: GOD OH MIGHTY, OUT OF THE
WHOLE TOWN OF LOS ANGELES THEY HAD GIVEN ME MY
I had the rep as drinker, gambler, hustler, man of leisure
shack-job specialist. how could I be SEEN with that filthy dirty sack
on my back? delivering newspapers full of ads?
they put me out on my corner. very familiar surroundings,
indeed. there was the flowershop, there was the bar, the gas station,
everything-.around the corner my little house with Kathy sleep-
in her warm bed. even the dog was asleep. well, it's Sunday
morning, I thought. nobody will see me. they sleep late. I'll run
through the god damned route. and I did.
I ran up and down 2 streets very quickly and nobody saw the
great man of class and soft white hands and great soulful eyes. I was
going to get by with it.
then up the 3rd street. it was going well until I heard the voice
of a little girl. she was in her yard. about 4 years old.
"oh, yes? little girl? what is it?"
"where's your dog?"
"oh, haha, he's still asleep."
I always walked the dog up that street. there was a vacant lot
there he always shit in. that did it. I took all my remaining news-
papers and dumped them into the back of an abandoned car near the
freeway. the car had been there for months with all the wheels gone.
I didn't know what it meant. but I put all the newspapers on the rear
floor. then I walked around the corner and went inot my house.
Kathy was still asleep. I awakened her.
"oh, Hank-everything all right?"
the dog ran on in and I petted him.
"you know what those sons of bitches DID?"
"they gave me my own neighborhood to deliver papers in!"
"oh, well, it's not nice but I don't think the people will mind."
"don't you understand? I've built this REP! I'm the hustler! I
can't be seen with a bag of shit on my back!"
"oh, I don't think you have that REP! it's just in your
"listen, are you going to give me a lot of shit? you've had your
ass in this warm bed while I've been out there with a lot of cock-
"don't be angry. I've got to pee. wait a minute."
I waited out there while she took her sleepy female piss. god,
they were SLOW! the cunt was a very inefficient pissing machine.
dick had it all beat.
Kathy came out.
"please don't worry, Hank. I'll put on an old dress and help
you deliver the papers. we'll finish fast. people sleep late on Sun-
"but I've already been SEEN!"
"you've already been seen? who saw you?"
"that little girl in the brown house with the weeds on West-
"you mean Myra?"
"I don't know her name!"
"she's only 3."
"I don't know how old she is! she asked about the dog!"
"what about the dog?"
"she asked where it WAS!"
"come on, I'll help you get rid of the papers."
Kathy was climbing into an old ripped dress."
"I got rid of them. it's over. I dumped them into the back of
that abandoned car."
"will they catch you?"
"FUCK! who cares?"
I went into the kitchen and got a beer. when I got back Kathy
was in bed again. I sat in the chair.
"you just don't realize who you're living with! I'm class, real
class! I'm 34 but I haven't worked 6 or 7 months since I was 18
years old. and no money. look at my hands! I've got hands like a
"Class? you OUGHT to HEAR yourself when you're drunk!
you're horrible, horrible!"
"are you trying to start some shit again, Kathy? I've kept you
in furs and hundred proof since I dug you outa that gin mill on
Kathy didn't answer.
"in fact," I told here, "I am a genius but nobody knows it but
"I'll buy that," she said. then she dug her head into the pillow
and went back to sleep.
I finished the beer, had another, then went 3 blocks over and
sat on the steps of a closed grocery store that the map said would be
the meeting place where the man would pick me up. I sat there from
10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. 9t was dull and dry and stupid and torturous
and senseless. then the rotten truck came at 2:30 p.m.
"you finished already?"
"I want you to help this one guy finish his route."
I got into the truck and then he let me off. here was this guy.
he was CREEPING. he threw each paper with great care upon each
porch. each porch got special treatment. and he seemed to enjoy his
work. he was on his last block. I finished the whole thing off in 5
minutes. then we sat and waited for the truck. for an hour.
they drove us back to the office and we sat in our school
chairs again. then two snot-nosed kids came out with cans of beer in
their hands. one called off names and the other gave each man his
on a blackboard written in chalk behind the heads of the
snot-noses was a message:
ANY MAN WHO WORKS FOR US 30 DAYS IN A ROW
WITHOUT MISSING A DAY
WILL BE GIVEN
SECOND HAND SUIT.
I kept watching as each man was handed his money. it
couldn't be true. it APPEARED that each man was given three one
dollar bills. at the time, the lowest basic wage scale by law was one
dollar an hour. I had been on that corner at 4:30 a.m. now it was
4:30 p.m. to me, that was 12 hours.
I was one of the last names called. I think I was 3rd from last.
not a one of those bums raised hell. they just took the $3 and went
out the door.
"Bukowski!" the snot-nosed kid hollered.
I walked up. the other snot-nosed kid counted out 3 very clean
and crisp Washingtons.
"listen," I said, "don't you guys realize that there is a basic
wage law? one buck an hour."
the snot-nose raised his beer. "we deduct for transportation,
breakfast and so forth. we only pay for average working time which
we figure to be about 3 hours or so."
"I see twelve hours out of my life and I've got to take a bus
downtown now to go get my car and drive in back in."
"you're lucky to have a car."
"and you're lucky I don't jam that can of beer up your ass!"
"I don't set company policy, sir, please don't blame me."
"I'm going to report you to the State Labor Board!"
"Robinson!" the other snot-nose hollered.
the next to last burn got p from his seat for his $3 as I walked
out the door and on up to Beverly blvd. to wait for the bus. by the
time I got home and got a drink in my hand it was 6 p.m. or so. I
really got drunk then. I was so frustrated I banged Kathy 3 times.
broke a window. cut my foot on broken glass. sang songs from
Gilbert and Sullivan, which I once learned from an insane English
teacher who taught an English class which began at 7 a.m. in the
morning. L.A.City College. Richardson was his name. and maybe he
wasn't insane. but he taught me Gilbert and Sullivan and gave me a
"d" in English for showing up no sooner than 7:30 a.m. with hang-
over, WHEN I showed. but that's something else. Kathy and I had
some laughs that night, and although I broke a few things I was not
as nasty and stupid as usual.
and that Tuesday at Hollywood Park I won $140 at the races
and I was once again the quite casual lover, hustler, gambler, re-
formed pimp and tulip grower. I drove slowly up the driveway,
savoring the last of the evening sun. then I strolled in through the
back door. Kathy had on some meat loaf with plenty of onions and
crap and spices in it just the way I liked it. she was bent over at the
stove and I grabbed her from the back.
she stood there with the large dripping spoon in her hand. I
slipped ten into the neck of her dress.
"I want you to get me a fifth of whiskey."
"and some beer and cigars. I'll watch the food."
she took off her apron and went into the bathroom for a
moment. I could hear her humming. a moment later I sat in my chair
and listened to her heels clicking down the drive. there was a tennis
ball. I took the tennis ball and bounced it on the floor so it hit the
wall and zoomed high into the air. the dog who was 5 feet long and
3 feet tall, + wolf, leaped into the air, there was the snap of teeth
and he had that tennis ball, up near the ceiling. for a moment he
seemed to hang up there. what a beautiful dog, what a beautiful life.
when he hit the floor I got up to check the meatloaf. it was all right.
**NON-HORSESHIT HORSE ADVICE**
so, the Hollywood Park meet has begun, and naturally I have been out a
couple of times, and the scene is not very variable: the horses look the
same and the people a little worse, the horseplayer is a combination of
extreme conceit, madness and greed. one of Freud's main pupils(I don't
recall his name right now, only remem- ber reading the book) said that
gambling is a substitute for masturba- tion. of course, the problem with any
direct statement is that it can easily become an untruth, a part truth, a
lie or a wilted gardenia. yet, checking out the ladies (between races) I do
find the same oddity: before the first race they sit with their skirts down
as much as possible, and as each race proceeds the skirts climb higher and
high- er, until just before the 9th race it takes all one's facilities not
to commit rape upon one of the darlings. whether it is a sense of
masturbation that causes this or whether the dear little things need rent
and bean money, I don't know, probably a combo. I saw one lady leap over 2
or 3 rows of seats after getting a winner, and screaming, screeching, divine
as an iced-grapefruit vodka across the top of a hangover. "she's getting
hers now," said my girlfriend.
"yeah," I said, "but I wish I had gotten there first."
for those of you unfamiliar with the basic principles of horse-
wagering, allow me to divert you with a few basics. the difficulty in the
average person leaving the track with any money at all is easily propounded
if you will follow this - the track and the state take roughly 15% out of
each dollar bet, plus breakage. the 15% is di= vided about in half between
the state and the track. in other words, 85 cents out of each dollar is
returned to the holders of winning tickets. breakage is the penny difference
on the ten cent breakdown of the payoff. in other words, say if the
totalizer machine breaks the payoff down to a $16.84 payoff, then the
winning player gets $16.80, the 4 cents on each winning bet going elsewhere.
now I am not sure, because the thing in not publicized but I also believe
that on, say, a $16.89 payoff, the payoff is still $16.80 and the 9 cents
goes elsewhere, but I am not positive of this and "Open City" cer- tainly
can't afford a libel suit now or ever and neither can I, so I will not make
this a positive presumption, but if any "Open City" reader has the facts on
this, I do wish he would write O.C. and advise me, this penny breakage alone
could make millionaires out of any of us.
now take the average goof who has worked all week and is looking for a
little bit of luck, entertainment, masturbation, take 40 of them, give them
each $100, and presuming that they are average bettors, the general medium
based upon a 15% take, forgetting breakage, would have 40 of them leaving
with $85. but it doesn't work that way 0 35 of them will leave almost
completely broke, one or two of them will win $85 or $150 by sheer fortune
of falling upon the right horses and not knowing why. the 3 or 4 others will
all right, then, who is getting all this money that the little bettor
who works a turret lathe or drives a bus all week, losers? easy: the betting
stables who send off bad-form horses in a spot that it is profitable for
them to win in. stables cannot make it upon purse money alone, that is, most
of them can't. give a stable a top handi- cap horse and they are in, but
even they must resort to pulls and deliberately bad races in order to get
weight off for a top money race. in other words, say a top-weighted horse
gifted with 130 pounds by the track handicapper for an early $25,000 race
will tend to lose this race and get weight off on that performance for a
later $100,000 race. now these statements cannot be proven but if you will
follow this conjecture you might make a little money or at least save a
little. but it is the stables who must race in the lower class races with
lower purses who must maneuver their horses for a price. in some cases, the
owner of the horse or horses himself is not aware of the maneuvering; this
is because trainers and grooms, hot-walkers, exercise jocks are grossly
underpaid (in time and effort put in, com- pared to other industries) and
their only way to get out is to put one over. the racetracks are aware of
this and attempt to keep the game clean, to give it a holy sheen of honesty,
but for all their efforts- barring tough guys, cons, syndicates, operators,
from the track, there are still "goodies" put over on the crowd, a so-called
pig who "wakes up" and wins by 3 to 10 lengths at odds of 5 to up to 50 to1.
but these are only animals, not machines. so there's an excuse, an excuse to
haul away millions in wheelbarrows from the racetrack, tax-free. human greed
will not relent, it will continue to feed itself. the com- munist party be
all right, that's bad enough. let's take something else. besides the
public being automatically wrong just by instinct (ask the stock- broker -
when you want to know which way to move just move the opposite from the big
crowd with the small, 'scared, tight money). but the something else is this:
a possible mathematic. taking the dollar base - you invest the first dollar,
you get back 85 cents. automatic take. second race, you have to ass15 cents,
then another 15% take. now take 9 races and take a 15% take on a break-even
basis - upon your original dollar. is it just 9 times 15% or is it much
more? it would take one of these Caltaech cats to tell me and I don't know
any Caltech cats. anyway, if you have followed me up to here, you must
realize that it is very difficult to make a "living" at the racetrack as
some starry-eyed dreamers would like to do.
I am a "hard-nose": that is, any given day at any track you just ain't
gonna take much money from me; on the other hand, I ain't gonna make much.
naturally, I have some good plays and I'd be a damn fool to reveal them to
everybody because then they would not work. once the public gets onto
something it is dead and it changes. the public is not allowed to win in any
game ever invented and that includes the American Revolution. but for "Open
City" readers I have a few basics that might save you a little money. take
a/ watch your underlay shots. an underlay is a horse that closes in
odds under the trackman's morning line. in other words, the trackman lists
the horse 10 t0 1 and it is going off at 6 to 1. money is much more serious
than anything else. check your under- lays carefully, and if the line is
just not a careless mistake by the trackman and the horse dos not show any
recent fast works or a switch to a "name" jockey, and if the horse is not
dropping weight and is running against the same class, you will probably get
a fairly good run for your money.
b/ lay off the closers. this is a horse, that say closed from 5 to 16
lengths from the beginning call to the last and still did not win and is
coming back against the same or similar. the crowd loves the "closer,"
through fear $ tight money and stupidity, but the closer is generally a lard-
ass, lazy and only passes tired horses who have been running and fighting
for the front end. not only does the crowd love this type of junk-horse but
they will consistently bet him down to odds less than 1/3 of his worth. even
though this type of horse continually runs out, the crowd out of fear will
go to him because they are tight up against the rent money and feel that a
closer possesses some kind of super stength. 90% of the races are won by
horses on the front end or near the front end of all the running, at
plausible and reasonable prices.
c/ if you must bet a "closer" bet him in shorter races, 6 or 7
furlongs, where the crowd believes he does not have time "to get up." here
they go for the speed and are stuck again. 7 furlongs is the best closer's
race in the business because of only one curve. a speed horse gets the
advantage of being out in front and saving ground on the turns. 7 furlongs
with one curve and the long backstretch is the perfect closer's race; much
better than a mile and a quarter, even better than a mile and one half. I am
giving you some good stuff here, I hope you heed it.
d/ watch your toteboard - money in American society is more serious
than death and you hardly get anything for nothing. if a horse is listed at
6 to 1 on the morning line and he is going off at 114 to 25 to 1, forget it.
either the trackman had a hangover when he made his morning line or the
stable just isn't going that race. you don't get anything free in this
world; if you don't know anything about racing, do bet horses that go off to
their morning line. large overlays are nil and almost impossible. all the
little grandmamas go home to eat bitter toast with gummed teeth upon Papa's
retire-ment death certificate.
e/ only bet when you can lose. I mean without ending up sleeping on a
park bench or missing 3 or 4 meals. the main thing, get the rent down first.
avoid pressures. you will be luckier. and remem- ber what the pros say, "If
you've got to lose, lose in front." in other words, make them beat you. if
you're going to lose anyhow, then to hell with it, get you a dancer out of
the gate, you've got it won until they beat you, until they pass you. the
price is usually generous because the public hates what they call a
"quitter" - a horse that opens daylight on the pack and still manages to
lose. this looks bad to them. to me a "quitter" is any horse that does not
win a race.
f/ any profit-loss venture is not based upon the number of winners you
have but upon the number of winners at the price. to basics, you can have
three 6 to 5 winners in 9 races and wash out, but you can have one 9 to 1
and one 5 to 1 and get over. this does not always mean that a 6 to 5 is a
bad bet, but if you know little or next to nothing about racing, it might be
best to hold your bets between 7 to 2 and 9 to 1. or if you must indulge in
wild fancies, keep your bets between 11 and 1q9 to 1. in fact, many 18 or 19
to 1's bounce in if you can find the right ones.
but, actually, a man can never know enough about horse rac- ing or
anything else. just when he thinks he knows he is just begin- ning. I
remember one summer I won 4 grand at Hollypark and I went down to Del Mar in
a new car, cocky, poetic, knowledgeable, I had the world by the nuts, and I
rented myself a little motel by the sea and the ladies showed up as the
ladies will when you are drinking and laughing and don't care and have some
money (a fool and his money are soon parted) and I had a party every night
and a new broad every other night, and it was a kind of joke I used to tell
them, the place was right over the sea, and I'd say, after much drinking and
talking, "Baby, I come with the WOOSH OF THE SEA!"
the harness racing season has been under way, as they say, for a week
or 2 now, and I have been out 5 or 6 times, perhaps breaking even for the
course, which is a hell of a waste of time - anything is a waste of time
unless you are fucking well or creating well or getting well or looming
toward a kind of phantom love-happiness. we will all end up in the crud-pot
of defeat - call it death or error. I am not a word-man. I do suppose, tho,
as one keeps making adjustments to the tide, we can call it experience even
if we are not so sure that it is wisdom. then too, it is possible for a man
to live a whole life of constant error in a kind of numb and terrorized
state. You've seen the faces. I've seen my own.
so during all the heat wave they are still out there, the bettors,
having gotten a little money somewhere, the hard way, and trying to beat the
15 percent take. I sometimes think of the crowd as hypno- tized, a crowd
that has nowhere to go. and after the races they get into their old cars,
drive to their lonely rooms and look at the walls. Wondering why they did it
--- heels run down, bad teeth, ulcers, bad jobs, men without women, women
without men. Nothing but shit.
there are some laughs. there have to be. walking into the men's room
between races the other day I came upon a young man gagging, then shouting
in fury: "god damn son of a bitch, some god damn son of a bitch didn't flush
his shit away! HE LEFT IT THERE! the son of a bitch, I walked in and there
it WAS! I'll be he does that at home too!"
this boy was screaming. the rest of us were standing there pissing or
washing our hands, thinking about the last race or the next one. I know some
freaks that would be delighted to come upon a potful of fresh turds.but
that's the way it works - the wrong guy gets it.
another day I am sweating, battling, scratching, praying, jack- ing to
stay 10 or 12 bucks ahead, and it is a very difficult harness race, I don't
even think the drivers know who is going to win, and this big fat woman,
ponderous whale of healthy stinking blubber, walked up to me, put that
stinking fat against my body front, and squeezed 2 little eyes, a mouth and
the rest into my face and said,
"what are the hands on the first horse?"
"the hands on the first horse?"
"yes, what are the hands on the first horse?"
"god damn you lady, get away from me, and don't bother me. get away!
she did. the whole track is full of crazy people. some of them come
there when the gates open. they stretch out on the seats or on a bench and
sleep all through the races. they never see a race. then they get up and go
home. others wall around just vaguely aware that a race of some kind is
going on. they buy coffee or just stand around looking as if life has been
stunned and burned out of them. or sometimes you see one standing in a dark
corner, jamming a whole hot dog down the throat, gagging, choking, delighted
with the mess of themselves. and at the end of each day you see one or 2
with their heads down between their legs. sometimes they are crying. where
do losers go? who wants a loser?
essentially, in one way or another, everybody thinks that he has the
key to beating the thing, even if it is only such an unjustified assumptions
that their luck must change, some play stars, some play numbers, some play
strictly time, others play drivers, or closers or speed r names or god knows
what. almost all of them lose, contin- ually. almost all their income goes
directly into the mutuel ma- chines. most of these people have unbearably
fixed egos - the are tenaciously stupid.
I won a few dollars Sept. 1. let's go over the card. Andy's Dream won
the first at 9/2 from a morning line of 10. good play. unwarranted action on
beaten horse running from outside post. 2nd race - Jerry Perkins, 14 year
old gelding nobody wants to claim because of age, drops into $15 claimer. a
good horse, consistent within his class, but you had to take 8/5 under a
morning line of four. won easy. third race won by Special Product, a horse
that broke in his last four races at long odds. he broke stride again this
time, pulled up, righted himself and still came on to beat the 3/5 favorite
Golden Bill. a possible bet if you are in touch with God and God is
interested. ten to one. in the fourth race, Hal Richard a consistent 4 year
old gelding won at three to one, beating out two shorter choices that showed
better times but no winning ability. a good bet. In the fifth, Eileen Colby
wins after Tiny Star and Marsand break and the crowd sends off April Fool at
3/5. April Fool has only been able to win four races out of 32, and one
local handicapper tabs him "better than these by five lengths." all this on
time effort of last race in better class when April Fool finishes seven
lengths out. the crowd is taken again.
then in the sixth race, Mister Honey is given a morning line of 10 but
is sent off as second choice of 5/2 and wins easy, having won three out of
nine in tougher class at short odds. Newport Buell, a cheaper horse is sent
off at even money because he closed ground in last at nine to one. a bad
bet. the crowd doesn't understand. in the seventh, Bills Snookums, a winner
of seven out of nine in class and with the leading rider Farrington up is
made the new 8/5 favorite and justifiably so.
the crowd bets Princess Sampson down to 7/2. this horse has won only 6
races out of 67. naturally, the crowd gets burned again.
Princess Sampson shows the best time in a tougher race but just does
not want to win. the crowd is time-happy. they do not realize that time is
caused by pace and pace is caused by the discre- tion - or lack of it - of
the lead drivers. in the eighth, Abbemite win gets up in a four or five
horse scramble. it was an open race and one I should have stayed out of. In
the ninth, they let the public Have one. Luella Primrose. the horse had
failed consistently at short odds and today got on its own pace without a
challenger. 5/2. one for the ladies, and how they screamed. a pretty name.
they'd been losing their drawers on the thing all through the meet.
most of the cards are as reasonable as this, and it would seem possible
to make a living at the track against the 15 percent take. but the outside
factors beat you. the heat. tiredness. people spilling beer on your shirt.
screaming. stepping on your feet. women showing their legs. pickpockets.
touts. madmen. I was $24 ahead going into the ninth race and there wasn't a
play in the ninth.
being tired, I didn't have the resistance to stay out. before the race
went off I had dropped in $16, shopping, feeling for a winner that didn't
show. then they sent in the public play on me. I was not satisfied with a
$24 day. I once worked for $16 a week at New Orleans. I was not strong
enough to take a gentle profit, so I walked out $8 winner. Not worth the
struggle: I could have stayed home and written an immortal poem.
a man who can beat the races can do about any thing he makes up his
mind to do. he must have the character, the knowledge, the detachment. even
with these qualities, the races are tough, especially with the rent waiting
and your whore's tongue hanging our for beer. there are traps beyond traps
beyond traps. there are days when everything impossible happens. the other
day they ran in a 50 to one shot in the first race, a 100 to one in the
second, and crapped off the day with an 18 to one in the last race. when you
are trying to scrape up pesos for the landlord and potato and egg money,
this kind of day can very much make you feel like an imbecile.
but if you come back the next day they will give you six or seven
reasonable winners at fair prices. it's there but most of them don't go
back. It takes patience and it's hard work: you have to think. It's a
battlefield and you can become shell-shocked. I saw a friend of mine out
there the other day, glaze-eyed, punched-out. It was late in the day and it
had been a reasonable card, but somehow they had gotten past him and I could
tell that he had bet too much trying to get out.he walked past me, not
knowing where he was. I watched him. he walked right into the women's
crapper. they screamed and he came running out. it was what he needed. it
pulled him out and he caught the winner of the next race. but I would not
advise this system to all losers.
there are laughs and there is sadness. there is an old boy who walked
up to me one time. "Bukowski," he said very seriously, "I want to beat the
horses before I die."
his hair is white, totally white, teeth gone, and I could see myself
there in 15 or 20 years, if I make it.
"I like the six horse," he told me.
"luck," I told him.
he'd picked a stiff, as usual. an odds-on favorite that had only won
one race in 15 starts that year. the public handicappers had the horse on
top too. the horse had won $88,000 LAST year. best time. I bet ten win on
Miss Lustytown, a winner of nine races this year. Miss Lustytown paid 4/1.
the odds-on finished last.
the old man came by, raging. "how the hell! Glad Rags ran 2:01 and 1/5
last time and gets beat by a 2:02 and 1/5 mare! they oughta close this place
he raps his program, snarling at me. his face is so red that he appears
to have a sunburn. I walk away from him, go over to the cashier's window and
when I get home, there is one magazine in the mail, THE SMITH,
parodying my prose style, and another magazine, THE SIX- TIES, parodying my
writing?what the hell's that? somebody is worried or pissed about m y
writing. I look over ans sure enough there's a typewriter in the room. I am
a writer of some kind, there's another world there of maneuvering and
gouging and groups and methods.
I let the warm water run, get into the tub, open a beer, open the
racing formt phone rings. I let it ring. for me, maybe not for you, it's too
hot to fuck or listen to some minor poet. Hemingway had his pulls. give me a
horse's ass - that gets there first.
"A BOY HAS NEVER WEPT, NOR DASHED A THOUSAND
AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER
There were quite a few meetings at Joe Hyans' house at first and I
usually showed drunk, so I don't remember much about the inception of Open
Pussy, the underground newspaper, and I was only told later what had
happened. Or rather, what I had done.
Hyans: "You said you were going to clean out the whole place and that
you were going to start with the guy in the wheelchair. Then he started to
cry and people started leaving. You hit a guy over the head with a bottle."
Cherry (Hyans' wife): "You refused to leave and you drank a whole fifth
of whiskey and kept telling me that you were going to fuck me up against the
"Ah, then next time."
Hyans: "Listen, Bukowski, we're trying to get organized and all you do
is come around and bust things up. You're the nastiest damn drunk I'veeve
"OK, I quit, Fuck it. Who cares about newspapers?"
"No, we want you to do a column. We think you're the best writer in Los
I lifted my drink. "That's a motherfucking insult! I didn't come here
to be insulted!"
"OK, maybe you're the best writer in California."
"There you go! Still insulting me!"
"Anyhow, we want you to do a column."
"I'm a poet."
"What's the difference between poetry and prose?"
"Poetry says too much in too short a time; prose says too little and
takes too long."
"We want a column for Open Pussy."
"Pour me a drink and you're on."
Hyans did. I was on. I finished the drink and walked over to my skidrow
court thinking about what a mistake I was making. I was almost fifty years
old and fucking with these long-haired, bearded kids. Oh God, groovy, daddy,
oh groovy! War is shit. War is hell. fuck, don't fight. I'd known all that
for fifty years. It wasn't quite as exciting to me. Oh, and don't forget the
pot. the stash. Groove, baby!
I found a pint in my place, drank it, four cans of beer and wrote the
first column. It was about a three-hundred-pound whore I had once fucked in
Philadelphia. It was a good column. I corrected the typing errors, jacked
off and went to sleep-
It started on the bottom floor of Hyans' two-story rented house. There
were some half-assed volunteers and the thing was new and everybody was
excited but me. I kept searching out the women for ass but they all looked
and acted the same --- they were all nineteen years old, dirty-blonde, small
ass, small breasted, busy dizzy, and, in a sense, conceited without quite
knowing why. When- ever I'd lay my drunken hands upon them they were always
quite cool. Quite.
"Look, Gramps, the only thing we want to seeyou raise is a North
"Ah, your pussy probably stinks anyhow!"
"Oh, you are a filthy old man! You really are-so disgust- ing!"
And then they'd walk off shaking those little delicious apple buttocks
at me, only carrying in their hand --- instead of my lovely purple head ---
some juvenile copy about the cops shaking down the kids and taking away
their Baby Ruth bars on Sunset Strip. Here I was, the greatest living poet
since Auden and I couldn't even fuck a dog in the ass-
The paper got too big. Or Cherry got worried about my loung- ing about
on the couch drunk and leering at her five-year-old daugh- ter. When it
really got bad was when the daughter started sitting on my lap and looking
up into my face while squirming, saying, "I like you, Bukowski. Talk to me.
Let me get you another Beer, Bukow- ski."
"Hurry back, sweetie!"
Cherry: "Listen, Bukowski, you old letch-"
"Cherry, children love me. I can't help it."
The little girl, Zaza, ran back with the beer, got back into my lap. I
opened the beer.
"I like you, Bukowski, tell me a story."
"OK, honey. Well, once upon a time there was this old man and this
lovely little girl lost in the woods together-"
"Cherry: "Listen, you old letch-"
"Ta, ta, Cherry, I do believe you have a dirty mind!" Cherry ran
upstairs looking for Hyans who was taking a crap. "Joe, Joe, we've just got
to move this paper out of here! I mean it!"-
They found a vacant building up front, two floors, and one midnight
while drinking portw wine, I held the flashlight for Joe while he broke open
the phone box on the side of the house and rear- ranged the wires so he
could have extension phones without charge. about this time the only other
underground newspaper in L.A. ac- cused Joe of stealing a duplicate copy of
their mailing list. Of course, I knew Joe had morals and scruples and ideals
--- that's why he quit working for the large metro daily. That's why he quit
working for the other underground newspaper. Joe was some kind of Christ.
"Hold that flashlight steady," he said-
In the morning, at my place, the phone rang. It was my friend Mongo the
Giant of the Eternal High.
"Cherry was over last night."
"She had this mailing list. Was very nervous. She wanted me to hide it.
Said Jensen was on the prowl. I hid it in the cellar under a pile of India
ink sketches Jimmy the Dwarf did before he died."
"Did you screw her?"
"What for? She's all bones. Those ribs would slice me to pieces while I
"You screwed Jimmy the Dwarf and he only weighed eighty- three pounds."
"He had soul."
I hung up-
For the next four or five issues, Open Pussy came out with sayings
like, "WE LOVE THE L.A. FREE PRESS," "OH, WE LOVE THE L.A. FREE PRESS,"
"LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THE L.A. FREE PRESS."
They should have. They had their mailing list.
One night Jensen and Joe had dinner together. Joe told me later that
everything was now "all right." I don't know who screwed who or what went on
under the table. And I didn't care-
And I soon found that I had other readers besides the beaded and the
In Los Angeles the new Federal Building rises glass-high, insane and
modern, with the Kafka-series of rooms each indulged with their own personal
frog-jacking-off bit; everything feeding off of every- thing else and
thriving with a kind of worm-in-the apple warmth and ther I was given a time
ticket for that amount and I walked into the Federal Building, which had
downstairs murals like Diego Rivera would have done if nine tenths of his
sensibilities had been cut away ---American sailors and Indians and soldiers
smiling away, trying to look noble in cheap yellows and retching rotting
greens and pissy blues.
I was being called into personnel. I knew that it wasn't for a
promotion. They took the letter and cooled me on the hard seat for forty-
five minutes. It was part of the old you-got-shit-in-your- intestines. And
we-don't-have routine. Luckily, from past experience, I read the warty sign,
and I cooled it myself, thinking about how Each of the girls who walked by
would go on a bed, legs high, or Taking it in the mouth. Soon I had
something huge between my legs --well, huge for me --- and had to stare at
I was finally called in by a very black and slinky and well- dressed
and pleasant Negress, very much class and even a spot of soul, whose smile
said she knew that I was going to be fucked but who also hinted that she
wouldn't mind throwing me a little pee- hole herself. It eased matters. Not
that it mattered.
And I walked in.
"Have a seat."
Man behind desk. Same old shit. I sat.
He gave me his name. I wasn't interested.
He leaned back, stared at me from his swivel.
I'm sure he expected somebody younger and better-looking, more
flamboyant, more intelligent-looking, more treacherous-look- ing-I was just
old, tired, disinterested, hung-over. He was a bit gray and distinguished,
if you know the type of distinguished I mean. Never pulled beets out of the
ground with a bunch of wet- backs or been in the drunktank fifteen or twenty
times. Or picked lemons at six a.m. without a shirt on because you knew that
at noon it would be 110 degrees. Only the poor knew the meaning of life; the
rich and the safe had to guess. Strangely then, I began thinking of the
Chinese. Russia had softened; it could be that only the Chi- nese knew,
digging up from the bottom, tired of soft shit. But then, I had no politics,
that was more con: history screwed us all, finally. I was done ahead of time
--- baked, fucked, screwed-out, nothing left.
"Well, ah-we've had an informant-"
"Yeh. Go ahead."
"-who wrote us that you are not married to the mother of your child."
I imagined him, then, decorating a Christmas tree with a drink in his
"That's true. I am not married to the mother of my child, aged four."
"Do you pay child support?"
"I'm not going to tell you."
He leaned back again. "You must understand that those of us in
government service must maintain certain standards."
Not really feeling guilty of anything, I didn't answer.
Oh, where are you, boys? Kafka, where are you? Lorca, shot in the dirty
road, where are you? Hemingway, claiming he was being tailed by the C.I.A.
and nobody believing him but me-
The, old distinguished well-rested non-beetpicking gray turned around
and reached into a small and well-varnished cabinet behind him and pulled
out six or seven copies of Open Pussy.
He threw them upon his desk like stinking siffed and raped turds. He
tapped them with one of his non-lemonpulling hands.
"We are led to believe that YOU are the writer of these col- umns ---
Notes of a Dirty Old Man."
"What do you have to say about these columns?"
"Do you call this writing?
"It's the best that I can do."
"Well, I'm supporting two sons who are now taking journalism at the
best of colleges, and I HOPE-"
He tapped the sheets, the stinking turd sheets, with the bot- tom of
his ringed and un-factoried and un-jailed hand and said:
"I hope that my sons never turn out to write like YOU do!"
"They won't," I promised him.
"Mr. Bukowski, I think that the interview is finished."
"Yeah," I said. I lit a cig, stood up, scratched my beer-gut and walked
The second interview was sooner than I expected. I was hard at work ---
of course --- at one of my important menial tasks when the speaker boomed:
"Henry Charles Bukowski, report to the Tour superintendent's office!"
I dropped my important task, got a treavel form from the local screw
and walked on over to the office. The Tour-Soup's male secre- tary, an old
gray flab, looked me over.
"Are you Charles Bukowski?" he asked me, quite disappoint- ed.
"Please follow me."
I followed him. It was a large building. We went down several stairways
and down around a long hall and then into a large dark room that entered
into another large and very dark room. Two men were sitting there at the end
of a table that must have been seventy- five feet long. They sat under a
lone lamp. And at the end of the table sat this single chair --- for me.
"You may enter," said the secretary. Then he shorted out.
I walked in. The two men stood up. Here we were under one lamp in the
dark. For some reason, I thought of all the assassina- tions.
Then I thought, this is America, daddy, Hitler is dead. Or is he?
They both shook hands with me.
"This is Mr. - - - - from Washington," said the other guy who was one
of the local topdogturds.
I didn't say anything. It was a nice lamp. Made of human skin?
Mr. Washington did the talking. He had a portfolio with quite a few
"Now, Mr. Bukowski-"
"Your age is forty-eight and you've been employed by the United States
Government for eleven years."
"You were married to your first wife two and a half years, divorced,
and you married your present wife when? We'd like the date."
"No date. No marriage."
"You have a child!"
"You're not married?"
"Do you pay child support?"
Then he leaned back and we sat there. The three of us said nothing for
a good four or five minutes.
Then a stack of the underground newspaper Open Pussy ap- peared.
"Do you write these columns? Notes of a Dirty Old Man?" Mr. Washington
He handed a copy to Mr. Los Angeles.
"Have you seen this one?"
"No, no, I haven't"
Across the top of the column was a walking cock with legs, a huge HUGE
walking cock with legs. The story was about a male friend of mine I had
screwed in the ass by mistake, while drunk, believing that it was one of my
girlfriends. It took me two weeks to finally force my friend to leave my
place. It was a true story.
"Do you call this writing?" Mr. Washington asked.
"I don't know about the writing. But I thought it was a very funny
story. Didn't you think it was humorous?"
"But this-this illustration across the top of the story?"
"The walking cock?"
"I didn't draw it."
"You have nothing to do with the selection of illustrations?"
"The paper is put together on Tuesday nights."
"And you are not there on Tuesday nights?"
"I am supposed to be here on Tuesday nights."
They waited some time, going through Open Pussy, looking at my columns.
"You know," said Mr. Washington, tapping the Open Pussies again with
his hand, "you would have been all right if you had kept writing poetry, but
when you began writing this stuff-" He again tapped the Open Pussies.
I waited two minutes and thirty seconds. Then I asked: "Are we to
consider the postal officials as the new critics of literature?"
"Oh, no no," said Mr. Washington, "we didn't mean that." I sat and
"There is a certain conduct expected of postal employees. You are in
the Public Eye. You are to be an example of exemplary behavior."
"It appears to me," I said, "that you are threatening my free- dom of
expression with a resultant loss of employment. The A.C.L.U. might be
"We'd still prefer you didn't write the column."
"Gentleman, there comes a time in each man's life when he must choose
to stand or run. I choose to stand."
The shuffling of Open Pussies.
Then Mr. Washington: "Mr. Bukowski?"
Are you going to write any more columns about the Post Office?"
I had written one about them which I thought was more humorous than
demeaning --- but then, maybe my mind was twisted.
I let them wait this time. Then I answered. "Not unless you make it
necessary for me to do so."
Then they waited. It was kind of an interrogation chess game where you
hoped the other man would make the wrong move: blurt out his pawns, knights,
bishops, king, his queen, his guts. (And meanwhile, as you read this, here
goes my goddamned job. Groovy, baby. Send dollars for beer and wreaths to
The Charles Bukowski Rehabilitation Fund at-)
Mr. Washington stood up.
Mr. Los Angeles stood up.
Mr. Washington said: "I think that the interview is over."
Mr. Washington said: "Meanwhile, don't jump off of any bridges-"
(Strange: I hadn't even thought about it.)
"-we haven't had a case like this in ten years." (In ten years? Who was
the last poor sucker?) "So?" I asked.
"Mr. Bukowski," said Mr. Los Angeles, "report back to your position."
I really had an unquieting time (or is it disquieting?) trying to find
my way back to the work floor from that underground Kafka- esqueish maze,
and when I did, here all my subnormal fellow workers (good pricks all)
started chirping at me:
"Hey, baby, where ya been?"
"What'd they want, daddieo?"
"You knocked up another black chick, big daddy?"
I gave them the Silence. One learns from dear old Uncle Sammy.
They kept chirping and flipping and fingering their mental assholes.
They were really frightened. I was Old Kool and if they could break Old Kool
they could break any of them.
"They wanted to make me Postmaster," I told them.
"And what happened, daddieo?"
"I told them to jam a hot turd up their siffed-up snatch."
The foreman of the aisle walked by and they all gave him the proper
obeisance but me, but I, but Bukowski, I lit a cigar with an easy flourish,
threw the match on the floor and stared at the ceiling as if I were having
great and wonderful thoughts. It was con; my mind was blank; I only wanted a
halfpint of Grandad and six or seven tall cool beers-
The fucking paper grew, or seemed to, and moved to a place on Melrose.
I always hated to go there with copy, though, because everybody was so
shitty, so truly shitty and snobby and not quite right, you know. Nothing
changed. The history of the Man-beast was very slow. They were like the
shifts I'd faced when I first walked into the copy room of the L.A. City
College newspaper in 1939 or 1940 ---all these little hoity-toity dummies
with little newspaper hats over their heads while writing stale, stupid
copy. So very important --- not even human enough to acknowledge your
presence. Newspaper people were always the lowest of the breed; janitors who
picked up women's cuntrags in the crappers had more soul --- naturally.
I looked at those college freaks, walked out, never went back.
Now. Open Pussy. Twenty-eight years later.
Copy in my hand. There was Cherry at a desk. Cherry was on the
telephone. Very important. Couldn't speak. Or Cherry not at the telephone.
Writing something on a piece of paper. Couldn't speak. the same old con of
always. Thirty years hadn't broken the dish. and Joe Hyans running around,
doing big things, running up and down the stairs. He had a little place on
top. Rather exclusive, of course. And some poor shit in a back room with him
there where Joe could watch him getting copy ready for the printer on the
IBM. He gave the poor shit thirty-five a week for a sixty-hour week and the
poor shit was glad, grew a beard and lovely soulful eyes and the poor shit
hacked out the third-rate piteous copy. With the Beatles playing full volume
over the intercom and the phone ringing contin- ually, Joe Hyans, editor,
was always RUNNING OFF TO SOME- PLACE IMPORTANT SOMEWHEREA. But when you
read the paper the next week you'd wonder where he'd run. It wasn't in
Open Pussy went on, for a while. My columns continued to be good, but
the paper itself was half-ass. I could smell the death-cunt of it-
There was a staff meeting every other Friday night. I busted up a few
of them. And after hearing the results, I just didn't go anymore. If the
paper wanted to live, let it live. I stayed away and just slid my stuff
under the door in an envelope.
Then Hyans got me on the phone: "I've got an idea. I want you to get me
together the best poets and prose writers that you know and we are going to
put out a literary supplement."
I got it together for him. He printed it. And the cops busted him for
But I was a nice guy. I got him on the phone. "Hyans?"
"Since you done got busted for the thing, I'm a gonna let you have my
column for free. That ten bucks you been paying me, it goes for the Open
Pussy defense fund."
"Thanks very much," he said.
So there he was, getting the best writing in America for noth- ing-
Then Cherry phoned me on night.
"Why don't you come to our staff meetings anymore? We all miss you,
"What? What the hell you saying, Cherry? You on the stuff?"
"No, Hank, we all love you, really. Do come to our next staff meeting."
"I'll think about it."
"It's dead without you."
"And death with me."
"We want you, old man."
"I'll think about it, Cherry."
So, I showed. I had been given the idea by Hyans, himself, that since
it was the first anniversary of Open Pussy the wine and the pussy and the
life and the love would be flowing.
But coming in very high and expecting to see fucking on the floor and
love galore, I only saw all these little love-creatures busily at work. They
reminded me very much, so humped and dismal, of the little old ladies
working on piecework I used to deliver cloth to, working my way up through
rope hand-pulled elevators full of rats and stink, one hundred years old,
piecework ladies, proud and dead and neurotic as all hell, working, working
to make a millionaire out of somebody-in New York, in Philadelphia, in St.
And these, for Open Pussy, were working without wages, and there was
Joe Hyans, looking a bit brutal and fat, walking up and down behind them,
hands folded behind his back, seeing thateach volunteer did his (her) duty
properly and exactly.
"Hyans! Hyans, you filthy cocksucker!" I screamed as I walked in. "You
are running a slave-market, you are a lousy pewking Simon Legree! You cry
for justice from the police and from Wash- ington, D.C. and you are the
biggest lousiest swine of them all! You are Hitler multiplied by a hundred,
you slave-labor bastard! You write of atrocities and then triple them
yourself! Who the fuck you think you're fooling, mother? Who the fuck you
think you are?"
Luckily for Hyans, the rest of the staff was quite used to me and they
thought that whatever I said was foolishness and that Hyans Himself stood
Hyans Himself walked up and put a stapler in my hand.
"Sit down, he said, "we are trying to increase the circulation. just
sit down and clip one of these green ads to each of newspapers. We are
sending out leftover copies to potential subscribers-"
Dear old Freedom Loveboy Hyans, using big business methods to put over
his crap. Brainwashed beyond himself.
He finally came up and took the stapler out of my hand.
"You're not stapling fast enough."
"Fuck you, mother. There was supposed to be champagne all over this
place. Now I'm eating staples-"
He called over another slave-labor member --- thin-cheeked, wire-armed,
pnurious. Poor Eddie was starving. Everybody was starving for the Cause.
Except Hyans and his wife, and they lived in a two-story house and sent one
of their children to a private school, and there was old Poppa back in
Cleveland, one of the head stiffs of the Plain Dealer, with more money than
So Hyans ran me out and also a guy with a little propeller on the top
of a beanie cap, Lovable Doc Stanley I believe he was called, and also
Lovable Doc's woman, and as the three of us left out the back door quite
calmly, sharing a bottle of cheap wine, there came the voice of Joe Hyans:
"And get out of here, and don't any of you ever come back, but I don't mean
Poor fuck, he knew what kept the paper going-
Then there was another bust by the police. This time for print- ing the
photo of a woman's cunt. Hyan's at this time, as always, was mixed up. He
wanted to hype the circulation, by any means, or kill the paper and get out.
It was a vise he couldn't seem to work properly and it drew tighter and
tighter. Only the people working for nothing or for thirty-five dollars a
week seemed to have any interest in the paper. But Hyans did manage to lay a
couple of the younger female volunteers so he wasn't wasting his time.
"Why don't you quit your lousy job and come work for us?"
"Forty-five dollars a week. That includes your column. You will also
distribute to the boxes on Wednesday night, your car, I'll pay the gas, and
you write up special assignments. Eleven a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Fridays and
Saturday s off."
"I'll think about it."
Hyans' old man came in from Cleveland. We got drunk to- gether over at
Hyans' house. Hyans and Cherry seemed very un- happy with Pops. And Pops
could put away the whiskey. No grass for him. I could put away the whiskey
too. We drank all night.
"Now the way to get rid of the Free Press is to bust up their stands,
run the peddlers off the streets, bust a few heads. That's what we used to
do in the old days. I've got money. I can hire some hoods, some mean sons of
bitches. We can hire Bukowski.
"God damn it!" screamed young Hyans, "I don't want to hear your shit,
Pops asked me, "What do you think of my idea, Bukowski?"
"I think it's a good idea. Pass the bottle over here."
"Bukowski is insane!" screamed Joe Hyans.
"You print his column," said Pops.
"He's the best writer in California," said young Hyans.
"The best insane writer in California," I corrected him.
"Son," Pops went on, "I have all this money. I want to put your paper
over. All we gotta do is bust a few-"
"No. No. No!" Joe Hyans screamed. "I won't have it!" Then he ran out of
the house. What a wonderful man Joe Hyans was. He ran out of the house. I
reached for another drink and told Cherry that I was going to fuck her up
against the bookcase. Pops said he'd take seconds. Cherry cussed us while
Joe Hyans ran off down the street with his soul-
The paper went on, coming out once a week somehow. Then the trial about
the photo of the female cunt came up.
The prosecuting attorney asked Hyans: "Would you object to oral
copulation on the steps of the City Hall?"
"No," said Joe, "but it would probably block traffic."
Oh, Joe, I thought, you blew that one! You shudda said, "I'd prefer for
oral copulation to go on inside the City Hall where it usually does."
When the judge asked Hyans' lawyer what the meaning of the photo of the
female sex organ was, Hyans' lawyer answered, "Well, that's just the way it
is. That's the way it is, daddy."
They lost the trial, of course, and appealed for a new one. "A roust,"
said Joe Hyans to the few and scattered news media about, "nothing but a
What a brilliant man Joe Hyans was-
Next I heard from Joe Hyans was over the phone: "Bukowski, I just
bought a gun. One hundred and twelve dollars. A beautiful weapon. I'm going
to kill a man!"
"Where are you now?"
"In the bar, down by the paper."
"I'll be right there."
When I got there he was walking up and down outside the bar.
"Come on," he said, "I'll buy you a beer."
We sat down. The place was full, Hyans was talking in a very loud
voice. You could hear him all the way to Santa Monica.
I'm going to splatter his brains out against the wall --- I'm going to
kill the son of a bitch!"
"What guy, kid? Why do you want to kill this guy, kid?"
He kept staring straight ahead.
"Groovy, baby. Why ya wanna kill this sunabitch,huh?"
"He's fucking my wife, that's why!"
He stared some more. It was like a movie. It wasn't even as good as a
"It's a beautiful weapon," said Joe. "You put in this little clip. It
fires ten shots. Rapid-fire. There'll be nothing left of the bastard!"
That wonderful man with the big red beard.
Anyhow I asked him, "How about all these anti-war articles you've
printed? How about the love bit? What happened?"
"Oh come on now Bukowski, you've never believed in all that pacifism
"Well, I don't know-Well, I guess not exactly."
"I've warned this guy that I am going to kill him if he doesn't stay
away, and I walk in and there he is sitting on the couch in my own house.
Now what would you do?"
"You're making this a personal property thing, don't you understand?
Just fuck it. Forget it. Walk away. Leave them there together."
"Is that what you've done?"
"After the age of thirty - always. And after the age of forty, it gets
easier. But in my twenties I used to go insane. The first burns are the
"Well, I am going to kill the son of a bitch! I'm going to blow his
goddamned brains out!"
The whole bar was listening. Love, baby, love.
I told him, "Let's get out of here."
Outside the bar Hyans dropped to his knees and screamed, a long milk-
curdling four-minute scream. You could hear him all the way to Detroit. Then
I got him up and walked him to my car. As he got to the car door on his
side, he grabbed the handle, dropped to his knees and let go another hog-
caller to Detroit. He was hooked on Cherry, poor fellow. I got him up, put
him in the seat, got in the other side, drove north to Sunset and then east
along Sunset and at the signal, red, at Sunset and Vermont, he let go
another one. I lit up a cigar. The other drivers stared at the red beard
I thought, he isn't going to stop. I'll have to knock him out.
But then as the signal turned green he ended it and I shifted it out of
there. He sat there sobbing. I didn't know what to say. There wasn't
anything to say.
I thought, I'll take him to see Mongo the Giant of the Eternal High.
Mongo's full of shit. Maybe he can dump some shit on Hyans. me, I hadn't
lived with a woman for four years. I was too far out of it to see it
Next time he screams, I thought, I've got to knock him out. I Can't
stand another one of those.
"Hey! Where we going?"
"Oh, no! Not Mongo's! I hate that guy! He'll only make fun of me! He's
a cruel son of a bitch!"
It was true. Mongo had a good mind but a cruel one. It wasn't any good
going over there. And I couldn't handle it either. We drove along.
"Listen," said Hyans, "I've got a girlfriend around here. Couple blocks
north. Drop me off. She understands me."
I turned it north.
"Listen," I said. "don't shoot the guy."
"Because you are the only one who will print my column."
I drove to the place, let him out, waited until the door opened, then
drove off. A good piece of ass might smooth him out. I needed one too-.
Next I heard from Hyans, he had moved out of the house.
"I couldn't stand it anymore. Why, the other night I took a shower, I
was getting ready to fuck her, I wanted to fuck some life into her bones,
but you know what?"
"When I walked in on her she ran out of the house. What a bitch!"
"Listen, Hyans, I know the game. I can't talk against Cherry because
the next thing you know, you'll be back together again and then you'll
remember all the dirty things I said about her."
"I'm never going back."
"I've decided not to shoot the bastard."
"I'm going to challenge him to a boxing match. Full ring rules.
Referee, ring, glove and all."
"OK," I said.
Two bulls fighting for the cow. And a bony one at that. But in America
the loser oftentimes got the cow. Mother instinct? Better wallet? Longer
dick? God knows what-
While Hyans was going crazy he hired a guy with a pipe and a necktie to
keep the paper going. But it was obvious that Open Pussy was on its last
fuck. And nobody cared but the twenty-five and thirty-dollar-a-week people
and the free help. They enjoyed the paper. It wasn't all that good but it
wasn't all that bad either. You see, there was my column: Notes of a Dirty
And pipe and necktie got the paper out. It looked the same. and
meanwhile I kept hearing: "Joe and Cherry are together again. Joey and
Cherry split again. Joe and Cherry are back together again./ Joe and Cherry-
Then on chilly blue Wednesday night I went out to a stand to buy a copy
of Open Pussy. I had written one of my best columns and wanted to see if
they had had the guts to run it. The stand contained last week's Open Pussy.
I smelled it in the deathblue air: the game was over. I bought two tall six-
packs of Schlitz and went back to my place and drank down the requiem.
Always being ready for the end I was not ready when it happened. I walked
over and took the poster off the wall and threw it into the trash: "OPEN
PUSSY. A WEEKLY REVIEW OF THE LOS ANGELES RENAIS- SANCE."
The government wouldn't have to worry anymore. I was a splendid citizen
Twenty thousand circulation. If we could have made sixty --- without
family troubles, without police rouses --- we could have made it. We didn't
I phoned the office the next day. The girl at the phone was in tears.
"We tried to get you last night, Bukowski, but nobody knew where you lived.
It's terrible. It's finished. It's over. The phone keeps ringing. I'm the
only one here. We're going to hold a staff meeting next Tuesday night to try
to keep the paper going. But Hyans took everything --- all the copy, the
mailing list and the IBM machine which didn't belong to him. We're cleaned
out. There's nothing left."
Oh, you've got a sweet voice, baby, such a sad sad sweet voice, I'd
like to fuck you, I thought.
"We are thinking of starting a hippie paper. The underground is dead.
Please show at Lonny's house Tuesday night."
"I'll try." I said, knowing that I wouldn't be there. So there it was -
-- almost two years. It was over. The cops had won, the city had won, the
government had won. Decency was in the streets again. Maybe the cops would
stop giving me tickets every tiem they saw my car. and Cleaver wouldn't be
sending us little notes from his hiding place anymore. And you could buy the
L.A. Times anywhere. Jesus Christ and Mother in Heaven, Life was Sad.
But I gave the girl my address and phone number, thinking we might make
it on the springs. (Harriet, you never arrived.)
But Barney Palmer, the political writer, did. I let him in and opened
up the beers.
"Hyans," he said, " put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger."
"It jammed. So he sold the gun."
"It takes a lot of guts just to try it once."
"You're right. Forgive me. Terrible hangover."
"You want to hear what happened?"
"Sure, it's my death, too."
"Well, it was Tuesday night, we were trying to get the paper ready. We
had your column and thank Christ it was a long one because we were short of
copy. It looked like we couldn't make the pages. Hyans showed, glassy-eyed,
drunk on wine. He and Cherry had split again."
"Yeh. Anyhow, we couldn't make the pages. And Hyans kept getting in the
way. Finally he went upstairs and got on the couch and passed out. The
minute he left, the paper began to get together. We made it and had forty-
five minutes to get to the printer's. I said I'd drive it down to the
printer's. Then you know what happened?"
"Hyans woke up."
"I'm that way."
"Well, he insisted on driving the copy to the printer's himself. He
threw the stuff in the car but he never made the printer's. The next day we
came in and found the note he left, and the place was cleaned out --- the
IBM machine, the mailing list, everything-"
"I've heard. Well, let's look at it this way: he started the goddamned
thing, so he had a right to end it."
"But the IBM machine, he didn't own it. He might get into a jam over
"Hyans is used to jams. He thrives on them. He gets his nuts. You ought
to hear him scream."
"But it's all the little people, Buk, The twenty-five-buck-a-week guys
who gave up everything to keep the thing going. They guys with cardboard in
their shoes. The guys who slept on the floor."
"The little guys always get it in the ass, Palmer. That's his- tory."
"You sound like Mongo."
"Mongo is usually right, even though he is a son of a bitch."
We talked a little more, then it was over.
A big black kitty walked up to me at work that night. "Hey, brother, I
hear your paper folded."
"Right, brother, but where did you hear?"
"It's in the L.A. Times, first page of the second section. I guess they
"I guess they are."
"We liked your paper, man. And your column too. Real tough stuff."
"Thank you, brother."
At lunchtime (10:24 p.m.) I went out and bought the L.A. Times. I took
it across the street to the bar over there, bouthg a dollar pitcher of beer,
lit a cigar and walked over to a table under a light:
Open Pussy, the second largest underground newspaper in Los Angeles,
has ceased publication, its editors said Thursday. The newspaper was 10
weeks short of its second anniversary.
Heavy debts, distribution problems and a $!,000 fine on an obscenity
conviction in October contributed to the demise of the weekly newspaper."
Said Mike Engel, the managing editor. He placed final circulation of the
newspaper at about 20,000.
But Engel and other editorial staff members said they believed That
Open Pussy could have continued and that its closing was the decision of Joe
Hyans, its 35-year-old-chief-editor.
When the staff members arrived at the paper's office at 4369 Melrose
Ave. Wednesday morning they found a note from Hyans which declared, in part:
"The paper has already fulfilled its artistic purpose. Politically, it
was never to effective anyway. What's been taking place in its pages
recently is no improvement over what we printed a year ago. "As an artist, I
must turn away from a work which does not grow-even though it is a work of
my own hand and even though it is bringing in bread (money)."
I finished the pitcher of beer and went into my governmental
A few days later I found a note in my mailbox:
10:45 a.m., Monday
I found a note in my mailbox this morning from Cherry Hyans. (I was
away all day Sunday and Sunday night.) She says she has the kids and is sick
and in bad trouble at - - - - Douglas Street. I can't find Douglas on the
fucking map, but wanted to let you know about the note.
A couple of days later the phone rang. It wasn't a woman with a hot
snatch. It was Barney.
"Hey, Joe Hyans is in town."
"So are you and I," I said.
"Joe's back with Cherry."
"They are going to move to San Francisco."
"They ought to."
"The hippie paper thing fell through."
"Yeh. Sorry I couldn't make it. Drunk."
"That's OK. But listen, I'm on a writing assignment now. But as soon as
I finish, I want to contact you."
"I've got a backer with fifty grand."
"Yeh. Real money. He wants to do it. He wants to start an- other
"Keep in touch, Barney. I've always liked you. Remember the time you
and I started drinking at my place at four in the afternoon, talked all
night and didn't finish until eleven a.m. the next morn- ing?"
"So, when I clean this writing up, I'll let you know."
"Yeh. Keep in touch, Barney."
"I will. Meanwhile, hang in."
I went into the crapper and took myself a beautiful beershit. Then I
went to bed, jacked off, and slept.
-Charles Bukowski- The Most Beautiful Woman in Town
**LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT**
I walked along in the sun wondering what to do. I kept walk ing,
walking. I seemed to be on the outer edge of something. I looked up and
there were railroad tracks and by the edge of the tracks was a little shack,
unpainted. It had a sign out:
I walked in. A little old guy was sitting there in blue-green
suspenders and chewing tobacco.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"I, ah, I ah, I-"
"Yeh, come on, man, spit it out! Whatcha want?"
"I saw-your sign-help wanted."
"Sign on? What?"
"Well, shit, it ain't a spot as a chorus girl!"
He leaned over and spit into his filthy spitoon, then worked at his wad
again, drawing his cheeks in over his toothless mouth.
"What do I do?" I asked.
"You'll be tole what to do!"
"I mean, what is it?"
"Railroad track gang, someplace west of Sacramento."
"You heard me, god damn it. Now I'm a busy man. You wanna sign or not?"
I signed the list he had on the clipboard. I was # 27. I even signed my
He handed me a ticket. "You show up at gate 21 with your gear. We got a
special train for you guys."
I slipped the ticket into my empty wallet.
He spit again. "Now, well, look, kid, I know you're a little goofy.
This line takes care of a lot of guys like you. We help human- ity. We're
nice folks. Always remember old - - - - - - - - - - lines and put in a good
word for us here and there. And when you get out on those tracks, listen to
your foreman. He's on your side. you can save money out on that desert. God
knows, there's no place to spend it. But on Saturday night, kid, on Saturday
He leaned to his spitoon again, came back:
"Why hell, on a Saturday night you go to town, get drunk, catch a cheap
blowjob from a wetback Mexican senorita and come back in feeling good. Those
blowjobs suck themisery right out of a man's head. I started on the gang,
now I'm here. Good luck to you, kid."
"Thank you, sir."
"Now get the hell out of here! I'm busy!-"
I arrived at gate 21 at the time instructed. By my train were all these
guys standing there in rags, stinking, laughing, smoking rolled cigarettes.
I went over and stood behind them. They needed haircuts and shaves and they
acted brave and were nervous at the same time.
Then a Mexican with a knife scar on his cheek told us to get on. We got
on. You couldn't see through the windows.
I took the last seat in the back of our car. The others all sat up in
front, laughing and talking. One guy pulled out a half pint of whiskey and 7
or 8 of them each had a little suck.
Then they began looking back at me. I began hearing voices and they
weren't all in my head.
"What's wrong with that sona bitch?"
"He think he's better than us?"
"He's gonna hafta work with us, man."
"Who's he think he is?"
I looked out the window, I tried to, the thing hadn't been cleaned in
25 years. The train began to move out and I was on there with them. The
train began to move out and I was on there with them. There were about 30 of
them. They didn't wait very long. I stretched out on my seat and tried to
Dust blew up into my face and eyes. I heard somebody under my seat.
There was the blowing sound again and a mass of 25 year old dust rose up
into my nostrils, my mouth, my eyes, my eyebrows. I waited. Then it happened
again. A real good blast. Whoever was under there was getting damned good at
I leaped up. And I heard all this sound from under my seat and then he
was out from under there and running up toward the front. He threw himself
into a seat, trying to be part of the gang, but I heard his voice:
"If he comes up here I want you fellows to help me! Promise to help me
if he comes up here!"
I didn't hear any promises, but he was safe: I couldn't tell one from
Just before we got out of Louisiana I had to walk up front for a cup of
water. They watched me.
"Look at him. Look at him."
"Who's he think he is?"
"Son of a bitch, we'll get him when we get him out over those tracks
alone, we'll make him cry, we'll make him suck dick!"
"Look! He's got that paper cup upsidedown! He's drinking from the wrong
end! Look at him! He's drinking from the little end! That guy's nuts!"
"Wait'll we get him over those tracks, we'll make him suck dick!"
I drained the paper cup, refilled it and emptied it again, wrong
Sideup. I threw the cup into the container and walked back. I heard:
"Yeah," he acts nuts. Maybe he had a split-up with his girl friend."
"How's a guy like that gonna get a girl?"
"I dunno. I seen crazier things than that happen."-
We were over Texas when the Mexican foreman came through with the
canned food. He handed out the cans. Some of them didn't have any labels on
them and were badly dented-up.
He came back to me.
He handed me a can of Spam and wrote "75" under column "F." I could see
that I was charged with "$45.90" under column "T." Then he handed me a small
can of beans. "45" he wrote down under column "F.
He walked back toward the front of the car.
"Hey! Where the hell's a can opener? How can we eat this stuff without
a can opener?" somebody asked him.
The foreman swang through the vestibule and was gone.
There were water stops in Texas, bunches of green. At each stop 2 or 3
or 4 guys leaped off. When we got to El Paso there were 23 left out of the
In El Paso they pulled our traincar out and the train went on. the
Mexican forman came through and said, "We must stop at El Paso. You will
stay at this hotel."
He gave out tickets.
"These are your tickets to the hotel. You will sleep there. In the
morning you will take traincoach #24 to Los Angeles and then on to
Sacramento. These are your hotel tickets."
He came up to me again.
"Here's your hotel."
He handed me the ticket and wrote in "12.50" under my "L" column.
Nobody had been able to get their cans of food open. They would be
picked up later and given to the next crew across.
I threw my ticket away and slept in the park about two blocks from the
hotel. I was awakened by the roaring of alligators, one in particular. I
could see 4 or 5 alligators in the pond, and perhaps there were more. There
were two sailors dressed in their whites. One sailor was in the pond, drunk,
pulling at the tail of an alligator. The alligator was angry but slow and
could not turn its neck enough to get at the sailor. The other sailor stood
on the shore, laughing, with a young girl. Then while the sailor in the pond
was still fighting the alligator, the other sailor and the girl walked away.
I truned over and slept.
On the ride to Los Angeles, more and more of them jumped off at the
waterstops. When we reached Los Angeles there were 16 left of the 31.
The Mexican foreman came through the train.
"We will be in Los Angeles for two days. You will catch the 9:30 a.m.
train, gate 21. Wednesday morning, traincoach 42. It is written upon the
cover which goes around your hotel tickets. You are also being issued food-
ration coupons which can be honored at French's Caf+, Main Street."
"He handed out 2 little booklets, one labeled ROOM, the other FOOD.
"You Bukowsko?" he asked.
"Yes," I said.
He handed me my booklets. And added under my "L" col umn: 12.80 and
under my "F" column, 6.00.
I came out of Union Station and while I was cutting across the plaza I
noticed 2 small guys who had been on the train with me. They were walking
faster than I and cut across to my right. I looked at them.
They both got these big grins on and said, "Hi! How ya doin?"
"I'm doin' all right."
They walked faster and slid across Los Angeles street toward Main-
In the caf+ the boys were using their food coupons for beer. I used my
food coupons for beer. Beer was just ten cents a glass. Most of them got
drunk very fast. I stood down at the end of the bar. They didn't talk about
I drank up all my coupons and then sold my lodging tickets to another
bum for 50 cents. I had 5 more beers and walked out.
I began walking. I walked north. Then I walked east. Then north again.
Then I was walking along the junkyards where all the broken-down cars were
stacked. A guy had once told me, "I sleep in a different car each night.
Last night I slept in a Ford, the night before in a Chevy. Tonight I am
going to sleep in a Cadillac."
I found a place with the gate chained but the gate door was bent and I
was thin enough to slide my body between the chains and the gate and the
lock. I looked around until I found a Cadillac. I didn't know the year. I
got into the back seat and slept.
It must have been about 6 a.m. in the morning when I heard this kid
screaming. He was about 15 years old and had this toy base ball bat in his
"Get out of there! Get out of our car, you dirty bum!"
The kid looked frightened. He had on a white t shirt and tennis shoes
and there was a tooth missing from the center of his mouth.
I got out.
"Stand back!" he yelled. "Stand back, stand back!" He point ed the bat
I slowly walked toward the gate, which was then open but not very far.
Then an old guy, about 50, fat and sleepy, stepped out of a tarpaper
"Dad!" The kid yelled, "This man was in one of our cars! I found him in
the back seat asleep!"
"Is that right?"
"Yeah, that's right, Dad! I found him asleep in the back seat of one of
"What were you doing in our car, Mr.?"
The old guy was nearer to the gate than I was but I kept moving toward
"I asked you, 'What were you doing in our car?'"
I moved closer to the gate.
The old guy grabbed the bat from the kid, ran up to me and jammed the
end of it into my belly, hard.
"oof!" I went, "god o mighty!"
I couldn't straighten up. I backed away. The kid took courage when he
"I'll get him, Dad! I'll get him!"
The kid grabbed the bat from the old man and began swinging it. He hit
me almost everywhere. On the back, the sides, all along both legs, on the
knees, the ankles. All I could do was protect my head. I kept my arms up
around my head and he beat me on the arms and elbows. I backed up against
the wire fence.
"I'll get him, Dad! I'll get him!"
The kid wouldn't stop. Now and then the bat got through to my head.
Finally the old man said, "O.k., that's enough son."
The kid kept swinging the bat.
"Son, I said, 'That's enough.'"
I turned and held myself up by the wires of the fence. For a moment I
couldn't move. They watched me. I finally let go and was able to stand. I
limped toward the gate.
"Let me get him again, Dad!"
I got through the gate and walked north. As I began to walk, everything
began to tighten. Everything was beginning to swell. My steps became
shorter. I knew that I wouldn't be able to move much further. There were
only more junkyards. Then I saw a vacant lot between two of them. I walked
into the lot and turned my ankle in a hole, right off. I laughed. The lot
sloped downwards. Then I tripped Over a hard brush branch which would not
give. When I got up again my right palm had been cut by the edge of a piece
of green glass. Winebottele. I pulled the glass out. The blood came through
the dirt. I brushed the dirt off and sucked against the wound. When I fell
the next time, I rolled over on my back, screamed once with pain, then
looked up into the morning sky. I was back in my hometown, Los Angeles.
Small gnats whirled about my face. I closed my eyes.
All The Pussy We Want
Harry and Duke. The bottle sat between in a cheap hotel in downtown
L.A. It was Saturday night in one of the cruelest towns in the world.
Harry's face was quite round and stupid with just a tip of a nose looking
out and you hated his eyes; in fact, you hated Harry when you looked at him,
so you didn't look at him. Duke was a little younger, a good listener, with
just the slightest of smiles on when he listened. He liked to listen; people
were his biggest show and there wasn't any admission charge. Harry was
unemployed and Duke was a janitor. They'd both done time and would be in
jail again. They knew it. It didn't matter.
The 5th was about one-third finished and there were empty beercans on
the floor. They rolled their cigarettes with the easy calm of men who had
lived hard and impossible lives before the age of 35 and were still alive.
They knew it was all a bucket of shit but they refused to quit.
"See," said Harry, taking a drag, "I chose you, man. I can trust you.
You won't panic. I think your car can make it. We split it right down the
"Tell me about it," said Duke.
"You won't believe it."
"Well, there's gold out there, laying on the ground, real gold. All you
gotta do is walk out and pick it up. I know it sounds crazy, but it's there,
I've seen it."
"What's the catch?"
"Well, it's an army artillery grounds. They shell all day, and
sometimes at night, that's the catch. It takes guts. But the gold is there.
Maybe the shells broke it out of the earth, I don't know. But they usually
don't shell at night."
"We go in at night."
"Right. And just pick the stuff up off of the ground. We'll be rich.
All the pussy we want. Think of it --- all the pussy we want."
"It sounds good."
"In case they start shelling we leap into the first shell hole. They
ain't gonna aim there again. If they hit the target, they're satisfied. If
they haven't, the next shot will be somewhere else."
"That sounds logical."
Harry poured some whiskey. "But there's another catch."
"There's snakes out there. That's why we need two men. I know you're
good with a gun. While I pick up the gold you watch for the snakes and blow
their heads off. There are rattlers out there. I think you're the man to do
"Why the hell not?"
They sat smoking and drinking, thinking about it.
"All that gold," said Harry, "all that pussy."
"You know," said Duke, "it mighta been that those guns blew open an old
"Whatever it is, there's gold out there."
They thought about it a while longer.
"How do you know," asked Duke, "that after you gather all the gold I
won't shoot you out there?"
"Well, I just gotta take that chance."
"Do you trust me?"
"I don't trust any man."
Duke opened another beer, poured another drink.
"Shit, there's no use of me going to work Monday is there?"
"I feel rich already."
"I kind of do too."
"All a man needs is some kind of break," said Duke, "then people treat
him like a gentleman."
"Where's this place at?" asked Duke.
"You'll see when we get there."
"We split down the middle?"
"We split down the middle."
"You're not worried about me shooting you?"
"Why do you keep bringing that up, Duke? I might shoot you."
"Jesus, I never thought of that. You wouldn't shoot a pal, would you?"
"Are we friends?"
"Well, yes, I'd say so, Harry."
"There'll be enough gold and pussy for both of us. We'll be set for
life. No more parole officers. No more dish washing gigs. The Beverly Hills
whores will be chasing us. Our worries are over."
"Do you really think we can bring it off?
"Is there really gold down there?"
"Listen , man, I told you."
They drank and smoked some more. They didn't talk. They were both
thinking of the future. It was a hot night. Some of the roomers had their
doors open. Most of them had a bottle of wine. The men sat in their
undershirts, easy and wondering and beaten. Some of them even had women, not
too much as ladies but they could hold their wine.
"We better get another bottle," said Duke, "before they close."
"I don't have any money."
"I'll get it."
They got up and walked out the door. They turned right down the hall
and went toward the back. The liquor store was down the alley and to the
left. At the top of the back steps a man in stained and wrinkled clothing
was stretched across the back doorway.
"Hey, it's my old pal Franky Canon. He really hung one on tonight.
Guess I'll move him out of the doorway."
Harry picked him up by the feet and dragged him out of the way. Then he
bent over him.
"Wonder if anybody's got to him yet?"
"I don't know," said Duke, "check him out.
" Duke pulled all Franky's pockets inside out. Checked the shirt.
Opened his pants, checked him around the waist. All he found was a matchbook
Thousands of top pay
"I guess somebody got him." said Harry.
They walked down the back steps and into the alley.
"Are you sure that gold is there?" asked Duke.
"Listen," said Harry, "you're pissing me off! You think I'm crazy?"
"Well, don't ask me that no more then!"
They walked into the liquor store. Duke ordered a fifth of whiskey and
a tall six pack of malt beer. Harry stole a bag of mixed nuts. Duke paid for
his stuff and they walked out. Just as they got to the alley a young woman
walked up; well, young for that area, she was about 30 with a good figure,
but her hair was uncombed and she slurred a bit.
"What you guys got in that bag?"
"Cats' tits," said Duke.
She got up near Duke and rubbed against the bag.
"I don't wanna drink no wine. You got whiskey in there?"
"Sure, baby, come on up."
"Lemme see the bottle."
She looked good to Duke. She was slim and her dress was tight, real
shit ass tight, god damn. He pulled the bottle out.
"O.k.," she said, "let's go."
They walked up the alley, the girl between them. Her haunch bumped
Harry as she walked. Harry grabbed her and kissed her. She broke off.
"You son of a bitch!" she screamed. "lemme alone!
" "You're gonna spoil everything, Harry!" said Duke. "You do that again
and I'm gonna punch you out!"
"You can't punch me out."
"Just do it again!"
They walked up the alley and up the stairways, opened the door. The
girl looked at Franky Cannon laying there but didn't say anything. They
walked on up to the room. The girl sat down and crossed her legs. She had
"My name's Ginny," she said.
Duke poured the drinks.
"I'm Duke. He's Harry."
Ginny smiled and took her drink.
"Some son of a bitch I'm stayin' with he kept me naked, kept my clothes
locked in the closet. I was in there a week. I waited until he passed out,
took the key off him, got this dress and ran off."
"That's a nice dress."
"It brings out the best in you."
"Thanks. Hey, listen, what do you guys do?"
"Do?" asked Duke.
"Yeah, I mean how do you make it?"
"We're gold prospectors," said Harry.
"Oh, come on, don't give me that shit."
"That's right," said Duke, "we're gold prospectors."
"We've struck it. We're gonna be rich inside a week," said Harry.
Then Harry had to get up to piss. The can was down the hall. When Harry
left Ginny said, "I wanna fuck you first, Honey. I'm not too crazy about
"That's o.k.," said Duke.
He poured three more drinks. When Harry came back Duke told him.
"She's gonna lay me first."
"Says us," said Duke.
"That's right," said Ginny.
"I think we ought to take her with us," said Duke.
"Let's see how she lays first," said Harry.
"I drive men crazy," said Ginny. "I make men scream. I've got the
tightest pussy in the state of California!"
"All right," said Duke, "let's find out."
"Gimme another drink first," She said, draining her glass.
Duke gave her a refill. "I've got something too, baby, I'll probably
rip you wide open!"
"Not unless you stick your foot in there," said Harry.
Ginny just smiled as she drank. She finished her drink.
"Come on," she said to Duke, "let's make it."
Ginny walked over to the bed and pulled her dress off. She had on blue
panties and a faded pink brassiere held together by a safety pin in the
back. Duke had to undo the safety pin.
"Is he gonna watch?" she asked Duke.
"He can if he wants," said Duke, "what the hell."
"O.k.," said Ginny.
They got into the sheets together. There were some minutes of warmup
and maneuvering as Harry watched. The blanket was on the floor. All Harry
could see was movement under a rather dirty sheet.
Then Duke mounted. Harry could see Duke's butt bobbling under the
Then Duke said, "Oh shit!
"What's the matter?" asked Ginny.
"I slipped out! I thought you said you had a tight box!"
"I'll put you in! I don't think you were in!"
"I was in somewhere!" said Duke.
Then Duke's butt was bobbing again. I never should have told that son
of a bitch about the gold, thought Harry. Now we've got this bitch on our
hands. They might team against me. Of course, if he happened to get killed,
she might like me better. Then Ginny moaned and started talking. "Oh, honey,
honey! Oh, Jesus, honey, oh my gawd!"
What a bunch of bullshit, thought Harry.
He got up and walked over to the back window. The back of the hotel was
right near the Vermont turnoff on the Hollywood freeway. He watched the
headlights and tail lights of the cars. It always amazed him that some
people were in such a hurry to go in one direction while other people were
in such a hurry to go in another. Somebody had to be wrong, or else it was
just a dirty game. Then he heard Ginny's voice. "I'm gonna COME! O, my gawd
I'm gonna COME! O, my gawd! I'm :"
Bullshit, he thought and then turned to look at them. Duke was really
working. Ginny's eyes did seem glazed; she stared straight up into the
ceiling, straight up into an unshaded lightbulb; glazed, seemingly glazed
she stared up past Duke's left ear:
I might have to shoot him out on that artillery field, thought Harry.
Especially if she's got a tight box.
gold, all that gold.
The Great Poet
I went to see him. He was the great poet. He was the best narrative
poet since Jeffers, still under 70 and famous throughout the world. Perhaps
his two best-known books were My Grief Is Better Than Your Grief, Ha! and
The Dead Chew Gum In Languor. He had taught at many universities, had won
all the prizes, including the Nobel Prize. Bernard Stachman.
I climbed the steps of the YMCA. Mr. Stachman lived in Room 223. I
knocked. "HELL, COME ON IN!" somebody screamed from inside. I opened the
door and walked in. Bernard Stachman was in bed. The smell of vomit, wine,
urine, shit and decaying food was in the air. I began to gag. I ran to the
bathroom, vomited, then came out.
"Mr. Stachman," I said, "why don't you open a window?"
"That's a good idea. And don't give me any of that 'Mr. Stachman' shit,
He was crippled, and after a great effort he managed to pull himself
out of the bed and into the chair at his side. "Now for a good talk," he
said. "I've been waiting for this."
At his elbow, on a table, was a gallon jug of dago red filled with
cigarette ashes and dead moths. I looked away, then looked back. He had the
jug to his mouth but most of the wine ran right back out, down his shirt,
down his pants. Bernard Stachman put the jug back. "Just what I needed."
"You ought to use a glass," I said. "It's easier."
"Yes, I believe you're right." He looked around. There were a few dirty
glasses and I wondered which one he would choose. He chose the nearest one.
The bottom of the glass was filled with a hardened yellow substance. It
looked like the remains of chicken and noodles. He poured the wine. Then he
lifted the glass and emptied it. "Yes, that's much better. I see you brought
your camera. I guess you came to photograph me?"
"Yes," I said. I went over and opened the window and breathed in the
fresh air. It had been raining for days and the air was fresh and clear.
"Listen," he said, "I been meaning to piss for hours. Bring me an empty
bottle." There were many empty bottles. I brought him one. He didn't have a
zipper, just buttons, with only the bottom button fastened because he was so
bloated. He reached in and got his penis and rested the head on the lip of
the bottle. The moment he began to urinate his penis stiffened and waved
about, spraying piss all over - on his shirt, on his pants, in his face, and
unbelievably, the last spurt went into his left ear.
"It's hell being crippled," he said.
"How did it happen?" I asked.
"How did what happen?"
"My wife. She ran me over with her car."
"She said she couldn't stand me anymore."
I didn't say anything. I took a couple of photos.
"I got photos of my wife. Want to see some photos of my wife?"
"The photo album is there on top of the refrigerator."
I walked over and got it, sat down. There were just shots of high-
heeled shoes and a woman's trim ankles, nylon-covered legs with garter
belts, assorted legs in panty hose. On some of the pages were pasted ads
from the meat market: chuck roast, 89? a pound. I closed the album. "When we
divorced," he said, "she gave me these." Bernard reached under the pillow on
his bed and pulled out a pair of high-heeled shoes with long spike heels.
He'd had them bronzed. He stood them on the night table. Then he poured
another drink. "I sleep with those shoes," he said, "I make love to those
shoes and then wash them out."
I took some more photos.
"Here, you want a photo? Here's a good photo." He unbuttoned the lone
button on his pants. He didn't have on any underwear. He took the heel of
the shoe and wiggled it up his behind. "Here, take this one." I got the
It was difficult for him to stand but he managed by holding onto the
"Are you still writing, Barney?"
"Hell, I write all the time."
"Don't your fans interrupt your work?"
"Oh hell, sometimes the women find me but they don't stay long."
"Are your books selling?"
"I get royalty checks."
"What is your advice to young writers?"
"Drink, fuck and smoke plenty of cigarettes."
"What is your advice to older writers?"
"If you're still alive, you don't need any advice."
"What is the impulse that makes you create a poem?"
"What makes you take a shit?"
"What do you think of Reagan and unemployment?"
"I don't think of Reagan or unemployment. It all bores me. Like space
flights and the Super Bowl."
"What are your concerns then?"
"They don't know how to dress. Their shoes are dreadful."
"What do you think of Women's Liberation?"
"Any time they're willing to work the car washes, get behind the plow,
chase down the two guys who just held up the liquor store, or clean up the
sewers, anytime they're ready to get their tits shot off in the army, I'm
ready to stay home and wash the dishes and get bored picking lint off the
"But Isn't there some logic on their demands?"
Stachman poured another drink. Even drinking from the glass, part of
the wine dribbled down his chin and onto his shirt. He had the body odor of
a man who hadn't bathed in months, "My wife," he said, "I'm still in love
with my wife. Hand me that phone, will you?" I handed the phone to him. He
dialed a number. "Claire? Hello, Claire?" He put the receiver down.
"What happened?" I asked.
"The usual. She hung up. Listen, let's get out of here, let's go to a
bar. I've been in this damned room too long. I need to get out."
"But it's raining. It's been raining for a week. The streets are
"I don't care. I want to get out. She's probably fucking some guy right
now. She's probably got her high heels on. I always made her leave her high
I helped Bernard Stachman get into an old brown overcoat. All the
buttons were missing off the front. It was stiff with grime. It was hardly
an L.A. overcoat, it was heavy and clumsy, it must have come from Chicago or
Denver in the thirties.
Then we got his crutches and we climbed painfully down the YMCA
stairway. Bernard had a fifth of muscatel in one of the pockets. We reached
the entrance and Bernard assured me he could make it across the sidewalk and
into the car. I was parked some distance from the curbing.
As I ran around to the other side to get in I heard a shout and then a
splash. It was raining, and raining hard. I ran back around and Bernard had
managed to fall and wedge himself in the gutter between the car and the
curbing. The water swept around him, he was sitting up, the water rushed
over him, ran down through his pants, lapped against his sides, the crutches
floating sluggishly in his lap.
"It's all right," he said, "just drive on and leave me."
"Oh hell, Barney."
"I mean it. Drive on. Leave me. My wife doesn't love me."
"She's not your wife, Barney. You're divorced."
"Tell that to the Marines."
"Come on, Barney, I'm going to help you up."
"No, no. It's all right. I assure you. Just go ahead. Get drunk without
I picked him up, got the door open and lifted him into the front seat.
He was very, very wet. Streams of water ran across the floorboards. Then I
went around to the other side and got in. Barney unscrewed the cap off the
bottle of muscatel, took a hit, passed the bottle to me. I took a hit. Then
I started the car and drove, looking out through the windshield into the
rain for a bar that we might possibly enter and not vomit the first time we
got the look and smell of the urinal.
I shot a man in Reno
Bukowski cried when Judy Garland sang at the N.Y. Philarmonic, Bukowski
cried when Shirley Temple sang "I Got Animal Crackers in my Soup"; Bukowski
cried in cheap flophouses, Bukowski can't dress, Bukowski can't talk,
Bukowski is scared of women, Bukowski had a bad stomach, Bukowski is full of
fears, and hates dictionaries, nuns, pennies, busses, churches, parkbenches,
spiders, flies, fleas, freaks; Bukowski didn't go to war. Bukowski is old,
Bukowski hasn't flown a kite for 45 years; if Bukowski were an ape, they'd
run him out of the tribe...
my friend is so worried about tearing the meat of my soul from my bones
that he hardly seems to think of his own existence.
"but Bukowski pukes real neat and I've never seen him piss on the
so I do have charm after all, you see. then he throws open a little
door and there in a 3 by 6 room stacked with papers and rags is an out.
"you can always stay here, Bukowski. you'll never want."
no window, no bed, but I'm next to the bathroom. it still looks good to
"but you may have to wear earplugs because of the music I keep
"I can pick up a set, I'm sure."
we walk back into his den. "you wanna hear some Lenny Bruce?"
he had just to keep that tape machine going, or the record player. they
finally hit me with Johnny Cash singing to the boys at Folsom.
"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."
it seems to me that Johnny is giving them a little shit just like I
suspect Bob Hope does to the boys at Viet during Xmas, but I have this kind
of mind. the boys holler, they are out of their cells but I feel like it's
something like tossing meatless bones instead of biscuits to the hungered
and the trapped. I don't feel a damn thing holy or brave about it. there's
only one thing to do for man in jail: let 'em out. there's only one thing to
do for man at war: stop the war.
"turn it off," I asked.
"it's a trick. a publicity man's dream."
"you can't say that. Johnny's done time."
"a lot of people have."
"we think it's good music."
"I like his voice. but the only man who can sing in jail, really, is a
man who is in jail, really."
"we still like it."
his wife is there and a couple of young black man who play combo in
"Bukowski likes Judy Garland. Somewhere over the rainbow."
"I liked her that one time in N.Y. her soul was up. you couldn't beat
"she's overweight and a lush."
it was the same old thing - people tearing meat and not getting
anywhere. I leave a little early. as I do, I hear them put J.Cash back on.
I stop for some beer and just make it in as the phone is ringing.
"oh, hello Billo."
"what are you doing?"
"what are you doing Saturday night?"
"I'm tied then."
"I wanted you to come over, meet some people."
"not this time."
"you know, Charley, I am going to get tired of calling."
"do you still write for that same scurrilous rag?"
"that hippie paper..."
" have you ever read it?"
"sure. all tha protest stuff. you're wasting your time."
"I don't always write to the paper's policy."
"I thought you did."
"I thought you had read the paper."
"by the way, what have you heard from our mutual friend?"
"I haven't heard from him."
"you know, he admires your poetry very much."
"that's all right."
"personally, I don't like your poetry."
"that's all right too."
"you can't make it over Saturday."
"well, I'm going to get tired of calling. take care."
"yeah, good night."
another meat tearer. what the hell did they want? well, Bill lived in
Malibu and Bill made money writing - philosophical sex shit potboilers full
of typos and undergraduate Art work - and Bill couldn't write but Bill
couldn't stay off the telephone either. He'd phone again. and again. and
fling his little scrubby shit turds at me. I was the old man who hadn't sold
his balls to the butcher and it drove them screwy. their final victory over
me could only be a physical beating and that could happen to any man at any
Bukowski thought Mickey Mouse was a nazi; Bukowski made an ass out of
himself at Barney's Beanery; Bukowski made an ass out of himself at Shelly's
Manne-Hole; Bukowski is jealous of Ginsberg, Bukowski is jealous of the 1969
Cadillac, Bukowski can't understand Rimbaud; Bukowski wipes his ass with
brown hard toilet paper, Bukowski will be dead in 5 years, Bukowski hasn't
written a decent poem since 1963, Bukowski cried when Judy Garland... shot a
man in Reno.
I sit down. stick the sheet in the typer. open a beer. light a smoke.
I get one or two good lines and the telephone rings.
"listen, I just ran across your last 2 columns. it's good writing. I
didn't know you were writing so well. I want to run them in book form. have
they come back from GROVE yet?"
"I want them. your columns are as good as your poems."
"a friend of mine in Malibu says my poems stink."
"to hell with him. I want the columns."
"they're with ---- ----."
"hell, he's a pornie-man. if you go with me you'll hit the
universities, the best book stores. when those kinds find you out, it's all
over; they're tired of that involute shit they've been getting for
centiries. you'll see; I can see bringing out all your back and unavailable
stuff and selling it for a buck, or a buck and a half a copy and going into
"aren't you afraid that will make a prick out of me?"
"I mean, haven't you always been a prick, especially when you've been
drinking... by the way, hoh've you been doing?"
"they say I grabbed a guy at Shelly's by the lapels and shook him up a
bit. but it could have been worse, you know."
"how do you mean?"
""I mean, he could have grabbed me by the lapels and shook me up a bit.
a matter of pride, you know."
"listen, don't die or get killed untill we get you out in those buck
and a half editions."
"I'll try not to, Marty."
"how's the 'Penguin' coming?"
"Stanges says January. I just got the page proofs. and a 50 puond
advance which I blew on the horses."
"can't you stay away from the track?"
"you bastards never say anything when I win."
"that's right. well, let me know on the columns."
"right. good night."
Bukowski, the big-time writer; a statue of Bukowski in the Kremlin,
jacking off; Bukowski and Castro, a statue in Havana in the sunlight covered
with birdshit, Bukowski and Castro riding a tandem racing bike to victory -
Bukowski in the rear seat; Bukowski bathing in a neat of orioles; Bukowski
lashing a 19-years-old high-yellow with a tiger whip, a high-yellow with 38
inch busts, a high-yellow who reads Rimbaud; Bukowski kukoo in the walls of
the world, wondering who shut off the luck... Bukowski going for Judy
Garland when it was too late for everybody.
then I remember the time and get back in the car. just off Wilshire
Boulevard. there's his name on the big sign. we once worked the same shit
job. I am not too crazy about Wilshire blvd. but I am still a learner. I
don't block out anything. he's half-coloured, from a white mother, black
father combo. we fell together on the shit job, something manual. mostly not
wanting to wade in shit forever, and although shit was a good teacher there
were only so many lessons and then it could drown you and kill you forever.
I parked in back and beat on the back door. he said he'd wait late that
night. it was 9:30 p.m. the door opened.
TEN YEARS. TEN YEARS. ten years. ten years. ten. ten fucking YEARS.
"Hank, you son of a bitch!"
"Jim, you lucky mother..."
"come on up."
I followed him in. jesus, so you don't buy all that. but it's nice
especially with the secretaries and staff gone. I block nothing. he has 6 or
8 rooms. we go in to his desk. I rip out the two 6 packs of beers.
he is 43. I am 48. I look at least 15 years older than he. and feel
some shame. the sagging belly. the hang-dog air. the world has taken many
hours and ten years from me with their very dull and routine tasks; it
tells. I feel shame for my defeat. the best revolutionary is a poor man; I
am not even a revolutionary, I am only tired. what a bucket of shit was
mine! mirror, mirror on the wall...
he looked good in a light yellow sweater, relaxed and really happy to
"I've been going through hell," he said, "I haven't talked to a real
human being in months."
"man, I don't know if I qualify."
that desk looks twenty feet wide.
"Jim, I been fired from so many places like this. some shit sitting in
a swivel. like a dream upon a dream upon a dream, all bad. now I sit here
drinking beer with a man behind a desk and I don'y know anymore now than I
he laughed. "baby, I want to give you your own office, your own chair,
your own desk. I know what you're getting now. I want to double that."
"I can't accept it."
"I want to know where my value would be to you?"
"I need your brain."
then he laid out the plan. told me what he wanted. he had one of those
stirring motherfucking brains that dreamed that sort of thing up. it seemed
so good I had to laugh.
"it'll take 3 months to set it up," I tell him.
"then a contract."
"o.k. with me. but these things sometimes don't work."
"meanwhile I've got a friend who'll let me sleep in his broom closet if
the walls fall in."
we drink 2 or 3 more hours then he leaves to get enough sleep to meet
his friend for a yachting next morning (Saturday) and I tool around and
drive out of the high rent district and hit the first dirty bar for a closer
or two. and son of a bitch if I don't meet a guy I used to know down at a
job we both used to have.
"Luke!" I say, "son of a bitch!"
another coloured (or black) man, (what do the white guys do at night?)
he looks low so I buy him one.
"you still at the place?" he asks.
"man, shit," he says.
"I couldn't take it anymore where you're at, you know, so I quit. ma, I
got a job right away. wow, a change, you know. that's what kills a man: lack
"I know, Luke."
"well, the first morning I walk up to the machine. it's a fibre glass
place. I've got on this open neck shirt with short sleeves and I notice
people staring at me. well, hell, I sit down and start pressing the levers
and it's all right for a while and next thing you know I start itching all
over. I call the foreman over and I say, 'hey, what the hell's this? I'm
itching all over! my neck, my arms, everywhere!' he tells me, 'it's nothing,
you'll get used to it.' but I notice he has on this scarf buttoned up all
the way around his throat and this long-sleeved working shirt. well, I come
in the next day all scarfed-up and oiled and buttoned but it's still no good
- this fucking glass is shiving off so fine you can't see it and it's all
little glass arrows and it goes right through the clothing and into the
skin. then I know why they make me wear the protective glasses for my eyes.
could blind a man in half an hour. I had to quit. went to a foundry, man, do
you know that men POUR THIS WHITE HOT SHIT INTO MOLDS? they pour it like
bacon-grease or gravy. Unbelievable! and hot! shit! I quit. man, how you
"that bitch there, Luke, she keeps looking at me and grinning and
pulling her skirt higher."
"don't pay any attention. she's crazy."
"but she has beautiful legs."
"yes, she has."
I buy another drink, pick up, walk over to her.
she goes into her purse, comes out, hits the button and she's got a
beautiful 6 inches swivel. I look at the bartender who looks blank-faced.
the bitch says, "one step closer and you got no balls!"
I knock her drink over and when she looks at that I grab her wrist,
twist the swivel out, fold it, put it into my pocket. the bartender still
looks neutral. I go back to Luke and we finish our drinks. I notice it's ten
to 2 and get 2 six packs from the barkeep. we go out to my car. Luke's
without wheels. she follows us. "I need a ride." "where?" "around Century."
"that's a long way." "so what, you motherfuckers got my knife."
by the time I am halfway to Century I see those female legs lifting in
the back seat. when the legs come down I pull down a lond dark corner and
tell Luke to take a smoke. I hate seconds but when first haven't been for a
long time and you're supposed to be a great Artist and an understander of
Life, seconds just HAVE to do, and like the boys say, with some, seconds are
better. it was good. when I dropped her off I gave her the switchblade back
wrapped in a ten. stupid, of course. but I like to be stupid. Luke lives
around 8th and Irola so it's not too far in for me.
as I open the door the phone begins ringing. I open a beer and sit in
the rocker and listen to it ring. for me, it's been enough - evening, night
Bukowski wears brown b.v.d's. Bukowski is afraid of airplanes. Bukowski
hates Santa Klaus. Bukowski makes deformed figures out of typewriter
erasers. when water drips, Bukowski cries. when Bukowski cries, water drips.
o, sanctums of fountains, o scrotums, o fountaining scrotums, o man's great
ugliness everywhere like the fresh dogturd that the morning shoe did not see
again; o, the mighty police, o the mighty weapons, o the mighty dictators, o
the mighty damn fools everywhere, o the lonely lonely octopus, o the clock-
tick seeping each neat one of us balanced and unbalanced and holy and
constipated, o the bums lying in alleys of misery in a golden world, o the
children to become ugly, o the ugly to become uglier, o the sadness and
sabres and the closing of the walls - no Santa Claus, no Pussy, no Magic
Wand, no Cinderella, no Great Minds Ever; kukoo - just shit and the whipping
of dogs and children, just shit and the whiping away of shit; just doctors
without patients just clouds without rain just days without days, o god o
mighty that you put this upon us.
when we break into your mighty KIKE palace and timecard angels I want
to hear Your voice just saying once
FOR YOURSELF and for us and for what we will do to You, I turned off of
Irola until I hit Normandie, that's what I did, and then came in and sat and
listened to the telephone ring.
Night streets of madness
the kid and I were the last of a drunkman party at my place, and we
were sitting there when somebody outside began blowing a car horn, loud LOUD
LOUD it was, oh sing loud, but then everything is axed through the head
anyway. the world is done, so I just sat there with my drink, smoking a
cigar, thinking of nothing - the poets were gone, the poets with their
ladies were gone, it was fairly pleasant even with the horn going. a
comparison. the poets had each accused other of various treacheries, of bad
writing, of having slipped; meanwhile, each of them claiming they deserved
better recognition, that they wrote better than so and so and so forth. I
told them all that they needed 2 years in the coal mines or the steel mills,
but on they chattered, finky, precious, barbaric, and most of them rotten
writers. now they were gone. the cigar was good. the kid sat there. I had
just written a foreword to his second book of poems. or his first? well.
"listen," said the kid, "let's go out there and tell them to fuck-off.
tell him to jam that horn up his ass."
the kid wasn't a bad writer, and he had the ability to laugh at
himself, which is sometimes a sign of greatness, or at least a sign that you
have a chance to end up being something else besides a stuffed literary
turd. the world was full of stuffed literary turds talking about the time
they met Pound at Spoleto or Edmund Wilson in Boston or Dali in his
underwear or Lowell in his garden; sitting there in their tiny bathrobes,
letting you have it, and NOW you wew talking to THEM, ah, you see. "... the
last time I saw Burroughs..." "Jimmy Baldwin, jesus, he was drunk, we had to
trot him out on the stage and lean him on the mike..."
"let's go out there and tell them to jam that horn up their ass," said
the kid, influenced by the Bukowski myth (I am really a coward), and the
Hemingway thing and Humphrey B. and Eliot with his panties rolled. well. I
puffed on my cigar. the horn went on. LOUDE SING KUKOOO.
"the horn's all right. never go out on the streets after you've benn
drinking 5 or 6 or 8 or ten hours. they have cages ready for the like us. I
don't think I could take another cage, not one more god damned cage of
theirs. I build enough of my own."
"I'm going out to tell them to shove it," said the kid.
the kid was under the superman influence, Man and Superman. he liked
huge man, tough and murderous, 6-4, 300 pounds, who wrote immortal poetry.
the trouble was the big boys were all subnormal and it was the dainty little
queers with the fingernail polish on who write the tough-boy poems. the only
guy who fit the kid's hero-mold was big John Thomas and big John Thomas
always acted as if the kid weren't there. the kid was Jewish and big John
Thomas had the mainline to Adolph. I liked them both and I don't like very
"listen," said the kid, "I am going to tell them to jam it."
oh my god, the kid was big a little on the fat side, he hadn't missed
too many meals, but he was easy inside, scared and worried and a little
crazy like the rest of us, none of us made it, finally, and I said, "kid,
forget the horn. it doesn't sound like a man blowing anyway. it sounds like
a woman. a man will stop and start with a horn, make musical threats out of
it. a woman just leans on it. the total sound, one big female neurosis."
""fuck it!" said the kid. he ran out the door.
what does this have to do with anything? I thought. what does it
matter? people keep making moves that don't count. when you make a move,
everything must be mathematically set. that's what Hem learned at the
bullfights and put to work in his work. that's what I learn at the track and
put to work in my life. good old Hem and Buk.
"hello, Hem? Buk calling."
"oh, Buk, so glad you called."
"thought I'd drop over for a drink."
"oh, I'd love it, kid, but you see, my god, you might say I'm kinda out
of town right now."
"but why'd you do it, Ernie?"
"you've read the books. they claim I was crazy, imagining things. in
and out of the bughouse. they say I imagined the phone was tapped, that I
imagined the C.I.A. was on my ass, that I was being tailed and watched. you
know, I wasn't really political but I always fucked with the left. the
Spanish war, all that crap."
"yeah, most of you literary guys lean left. it seems Romantic, but it
can turn into a hell of a trap."
"I know. but really, I had this hell of a hungover, and I knew I had
slipped, and when they believed in THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, I knew that the
world was rotten."
"I know. you went back to your early style. but it wasn't real."
"I know it wasn't real. and I got the PRIZE. and the tail on me. old
age on me. sitting around drinking like an old fuck, telling stale stories
to anybody who would listen. I had to blow my brains out."
"o.k., Ernie, see you later."
"all right, I know you will, Buk."
he hung up. and how.
I went outside to check on the kid.
it was an old woman in a new '69 car. she kept leaning on the horn. she
didn't have any legs. any breasts. any brain. just a '69 car and
indignation, great and total indignation. a car was blocking her driveway.
she had her own home. I lived in one of the last slum courts on DeLongpre.
someday the landlord would sell it for a tremendous sum and I would be
bulldozed out. too bad. I threw parties that lasted until the sun came up,
ran the typer day and night. a madman lived in the next court. everything
was sweet. one block North and ten blocks West I could walk along a sidewalk
that had footprints os STARS upon it. I don't know what the names mean. I
don't hit the movies. don't have a t.v. when my radio stopped playing I
threw it out the window. drunk. me, not the radio. there is a big hole in
one of my windows. I forgot the screen was there. I had to open the screen
and drop the radio out. later, whilst I was drunken barefoot my foot (left)
picked up all the glass, and the doctor while slitting my foot open without
benefit of a shot, probing for ballsy glass, asked me, "listen, do you ever
walk around not quite knowing what you are doing?"
"most of the time, baby."
then he gave me a big cut that wasn't needed.
I gripped the sides of the table and said, "yes, Doctor."
then he became more kindly. why should doctors be better than I am? I
don't understand it. the old medicine man gimmick.
so there I was out on the street, Charles Bukowski, friend of
Hemingway, Ernie, I have never read DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON. where do I get a
the kid said to the crazy woman in the car, who was only demanding
respectful and stupid property rights, "we'll move the car, we'll push it
out of the way."
the kid was talking for me too. now that I had written his foreword, he
"look, kid, there's no place to push the car. and I really don't care.
I'm going in for a drink." it was just beginning to rain. I have a most
delicate skin, like an alligator, and soul to match. I walked off. shit, I'd
had enough wars.
I walked off and then just as I about got to my front court hole, I
heard screaming voices. I turned.
then we had this. a thin kid, insane, in white t-shirt screaming at the
fat Jewisj poet I had just written a foreword to poems for. what had the
white t-shirt to do with it? the white t-shirt pushed against my semi-
immortal poet. he pushed hard. the crazy old woman kept leaning against the
Bukowski, should you test your left hook again? you swing like the old
barn door and only win one fight out of ten. when was the last fight you
won, Bukowski? you should be wearing women's panties.
well, hell, with a record like yours, one more loss won't be any big
I started to move forward to help the Jewish kid poet but I saw he had
white t-shirt backing up. then out of the 20 million dollar highrise next to
my slum hole, here came a young woman running. I watched the cheecks of the
ass wobble in the fake Hollywood moonlight.
girl, I could show you something you will, would never forget - a solid
3 and one quarter inches of bobbling throbbing cock, oh my, but she never
gave me a chance, she asshole-wobbling ran to her little 68 Fiaria or
however you spell it, and got in, pussy dying for my poetic soul, and she
got in, started the thing, got it out of the driveway, almost ran me over,
me Bukowski, BUKOWSKI, hummm, and ran the thing into the underground parking
of the 20 million buck highrise. why hadn't she parked there to begin with?
the guy in the white t-shirt is still wobbling around and insane, my
Jewish poet has moved back to my side there in the Hollywood moonlight,
which was like stinking dishwater spilling over us all, suicide is so
difficult, maybe our luck will change, there's PENGUIN coming up, Norse-
now, now, the woman has her clearence for her driveway but she can't
make it in. she doesn't aven angle her car properly. she keeps backing up
and ramming a white delivery truck in front of her. there go the taillights
on first shot. she backs up. hits the gas. there goes half a back door. she
backs up. hits the gas. there goes all the fender and half the left side, no
the right side, that's it the right side. nothing adds. the driveway is
Bukowski-Norse-Lamantia. Penguin books. it's a damn good thing for
those other two guys that I am in there.
again chickenshit steel mashing against steel. and in between she's
leaning on the horn. white t-shirt dangling in the moonlight, raving.
"what's going on?" I asked the kid.
"I dunno," he finally admitted.
"you'll make a good rabbi some day but you should understand all this."
the kid is studying to be a rabbi.
"I don't understand it," he said.
"I need a drink," I said. "if John Thomas were here he'd murder them
all. but I ain't John Thomas."
I was just about to leave, the woman just kept on ramming the white
pickup truck to pieces, I was just about to leave when an old man in a
floppy brown overcoat and glasses, a real old guy, he was older than I, and
that's old, he came out and confronted the kid in the white t-shirt.
confronted? that's the right word ain't it?
anyhow, as they say, the old guy with glasses and floppy brown overcoat
runs out with this big can of green paint, it must have been at least a
gallon or 5 gallons, I don't know what it means, I have completely lost the
plot or the meaning, if there ever was any in the first place, and the old
man throws the paint on the insane kid in the white t-shirt circling around
on DeLongpre ave. in the chickenshit Hollywood moonlight, and most of it
misses him and some of it gets him, mostly where his heart used to be, a
smash of green along the white, and it happens fast, like things happen
fast, almost quicker than eye or the pulse can add up, and that's why you
get such diverent accounts of any action, riot or fist fight or anything,
the eye and the soul can't keep up with the frustrating animal ACTION, but I
saw the old man go down, fall, I think the first was a push, but I know that
the second wasn't. the woman in the car stopped ramming and honking and just
sat there screaming, screaming, one total pitch of scream that meant the
same thing as her leaning on the honker, she was dead and finished forever
in a '69 car and she couldn't fathom it, she was hooked and broken, thrown
away, and some small touch inside of her still realized this - nobody ever
finally loses their soul - they only piss away 99/100ths of it.
white t-shirt landed goon on the old man on the second shot. broke his
glasses. let him flopping and floundering in his own brown overcoat. the old
man got up and the kid gave him another shot, knocked him down, hit him
against as he got halfass up, the kid in the white t was having a good time
the young poet said to me, "JESUS! LOOK WHAT HE'S DOING TO THE OLD
"humm, very interesting," I said, whishing I had a drink or a smoke at
I walked off back toward my place. then I saw the squad car and moved a
bit faster. the kid followed me in.
"why don't we go back out there and tell them what happened?"
"because nothing happened except that everybody has been driven insane
and stupid by life. in this society there are only two things that count:
don't be caught without money and don't get caught high on any kind of
"but he shouldn't have done that to the old man."
"that's what old men are for."
"but what about justice?"
"but that is justice: the young whipping the old, the living whipping
the dead. don't you see?"
"but you say these things and you're old."
"I know, let's step inside."
I brought out some more beer and we sat there. through the walls you
could hear the radio of the stupid squad car. 2 twentytwo years old kids
with guns and clubs were going to be the immediate decision-makers upon
2,000 years of idiotic, homosexual, sadistic Christianity.
no wonder they felt good in their smooth and well-fed stretched black,
most policemen being lower-middle class servants given a steak in the frying
pan and a wife with halfway decent ass and legs, and a little quiet home in
Shitland - they'd kill you to prove Los Angeles was right, we're taking you
in, sir, so sorry, sir, but we've got to do this, sir.
2,000 years of Christianity and what do you end up with? squad-car
radios trying to hold rotting shit together, and what else? tons of wars,
little air raids, muggers in streets, knifings, so many insane that you just
forget it, you just let them run the streets in policeman's uniforms or out
so we went inside and the kid kept saying,
"hey, let's go out there and tell the police what happened."
"no, kid, please. if you are drunk you are guilty no matter what
"but they are right outside, let's go to tell them."
"there's nothing to tell."
the kid looked at me as if I were some kind of chickenshit coward. I
was. the longest he had ever been in jail was 7 hours under some kind of
east L.A. campus protestation.
"kid, I think that the night is over."
I threw him a blanket for the couch and he went to sleep. I took 2
quarts of beer, opened both, set them on the headboard of my rented bed,
took a big swallow, stretched out, waited on my death as Cummings must have
done, Jeffers, the garbage man, the newspaper boy, the tout...
I finished off the beers.
the kid woke up about 9:30 a.m. I can't understand early risers.
Micheline was another early riser. running around ringing doorbells, waking
everybody up. they were nervous, trying to push down walls. I always figured
a man was a damn fool if he got up before noon. Norse had the best idea -
sit around in silk robe and pajamas and let the world go its way.
I let the kid out the door and off he went into the world. the green
paint was dry on the street. Maeterlinck's bluebird was dead. Hirschman sat
in a dark room with a bloody right nostril.
and I had written another FOREWORD to another book of somebody's
poetry. how many more?
"hey, Bukowski, I've got this book of poems here. I thought you might
read the poems and say something."
"say something? but I don't like poetry, man."
"that's all right. just say something."
the kid was gone. I had to take a shit. the toilet was clogged; the
landlord gone for 3 days. I took the shit and put it in a brown paper bag.
then I went outside and walked with the paperbag like a man going to work
with his lunch. then when I got to the vacant lot I threw the bag. three
forewords. 3 bags of shit. nobody would ever understand how Bukowski
I walked back toward my place, dreaming of supine women and everlasting
fame. the former would be nicer. and I was running out of brown bags. I
mean, paper bags. 10 a.m. there was the mailman. a letter from Beiles in
Greece. he said it was raining there too.
fine, then, and inside I was alone again, and the madness of the night
was the madness of the day. I arranged myself upon the bed, supine, staring
upward and listened to the cocksucking rain.
Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip
I WALKED AROUND outside and thought about it. It was the longest one I
ever got. Usually they only said, "Sorry, this did not quite make the grade"
or "Sorry, this did't quite work in." Or more often, the regular printed
But this was the longest, the longest ever. It was from my story "My
Adventures in Half a Hundred Rooming Houses." I walked under a lamppost,
took the little slip out of my pocket and reread it -
Dear Mr. Bukowski:
Again, this is a conglomeration of extremely good stuff and other stuff
so full of idolized prostitutes, morning-after vomiting scenes, misanthropy,
praise for suicide etc. that it is not quite for a magazine of any
circulation at all. This is, however, pretty much a saga of a certain type
of person and in it I think you've done an honest job. Possibly we will
print you sometime, but I don't know exactly when. That depends on you.
Oh, I knew the signature: the long "h" that twisted into the end of the
"W," and the beginning of the "B" which dropped halfway down the page.
I put the slip back in my pocket and walked on down the street. I felt
Here I had only been writing two years. Two short years. It took
Hemingway ten years. And Sherwood Anderson, he was forty before he was
I guess I would have to give up drinking and women of ill-fame, though.
Whiskey was hard to get anyhow and wine was ruining my stomach. Millie
though - Millie, that would be harder, much harder.
...But Millie, Millie, we must remember art. Dostoievsky, Gorki, for
Russia, and now America wants an Eastern-European. America is tired of
Browns and smiths. The Browns and the Smiths are good writers but there are
too many of them and they all write alike. America wants the fuzzy
blackness, impractical meditations and repressed desires of an Eastern-
Millie, Millie, your figure is just right: it all pours down tight to
the hips and loving you is as easy as putting on a pair of gloves in zero
weather. Your room is always warm and cheerful and you have record albums
and cheese sandwiches that I like. And Millie, your cat, remember? Remember
when he was a kitten? I tried to teach him to shake hands and to roll over,
and you said a cat wasn't a dog and it couldn't be done, Well, I did it,
didn't I, Millie? The cat's big now and he's been a mother and had kittens.
We've been friends a long time. But it's going to have to go now, Millie:
cats and figures and Tschaikowsky's 6th Symphony. America needs an Eastern-
I found I was in front of my rooming house by then and I started to go
in. Then I saw a light on in my window. I looked in: Carson and Shipkey were
at the table with somebody I didn't know. They were playing cards and in the
center sat a huge jug of wine. Carson and Shipkey were painters who couldn't
make up their minds whether to paint like Salvador Dali or Rockwell Kent,
and they worked at the shipyards while trying to decide.
Then I saw a man sitting very quietly on the edge of my bed. He had a
mustache and a goatee and looked familiar. I seemed to remember his face. I
had seen it in a book, a newspaper, a movie, maybe. I wondered. Then I
When I remembered, I didn't know whether to go in or not. After all,
what did one say? How did one act? With a man like that it was hard. You had
to be careful not to say the wrong words, you had to be careful about
I decided to walk around the block once first. I read someplace that
that helped when you were nervous. I heard Shipkey swearing as I left and I
heard somebody drop a glass. That wouldn't help me any.
I decided to make up my speech ahead of time. "Really, I'm not a very
good speaker at all. I'm very withdrawn and tense. I save it all and put it
in words on paper. I'm sure you'll be disappointed in me, but it's the way
I've always been."
I thought that would do it and when I finished my block's walk I went
right into my room.
I could see that Carson and Shipkey were rather drunk, and I knew they
wouldn't help me any. The little card player they had brought with them was
also bad off, except he had all the money on his side of the table.
The man with the goatee got up off the bed. "How do you do, sir?" he
"Fine, and you?" I shook hands with him. "I hope you haven't been
waiting too long?" I said.
"Really," I said, "I'm not a verv good speaker at all -"
"Except when he's drunk, then he yells his head off. Sometimes he goes
to the square and lectures and if nobody listens to him he talks to the
birds," said Shipkey.
The man with the goatee grinned. He had a marvelous grin. Evidently a
man of understanding.
The other two went on playing cards, but Shipkey turned his chair
around and watched us.
"I'm very withdrawn and tense," I continued, "and -"
"Past tense or circus tents?" yelled Shipkey.
That was very bad, but the man with the goatee smiled again and I felt
"I save it all and put it in words on paper and -"
"Nine-tenths or pretense?" yelled Shipkey.
"- and I'm sure you'll be disappointed in me, but it's the way I've
"Listen, mister!" yelled Shipkey wobbling back and forth in his chair.
"Listen, you with the goatee!"
"Listen, I'm six feet tall with wavy hair, a glass eye and a pair of
The man laughed.
"You don't believe me then? You don't believe I have a pair of red
Shipkey, when intoxicated always wanted, for some reason, to make
people believe he had a glass eye. He would point to one eye or the other
and maintain it was a glass eye. He claimed the glass eye was made for him
by his father, the greatest specialist in the world, who had, unfortunately,
been killed by a tiger in China.
Suddenly Carson began yelling, "I saw you take that card! Where did you
get it? Give it here, here! Marked, marked! I thought so! No wonder you've
been winning! So! So!"
Carson rose up and grabbed the little card player by the tie and pulled
up on it. Carson was blue in the face with anger and the little card player
began to turn red as Carson pulled up on the tie.
"What's up, ha! Ha! What's up! What's going on?" yelled Shipkey. "Lemme
see, ha? Gimme tha dope!"
Carson was all blue and could hardly speak. He hissed the words out of
his lips with a great effort and held up on the tie. The little card player
began to flop his arms about like a great octopus brought to the surface.
"He crossed us!" hissed Carson. "Crossed us! Pulled one from under his
sleeve, sure as the Lord! Crossed us, I tell you!"
Shipkey walked behind the little card player and grabbed him by the
hair and yanked his head back and forth. Carson remained at the tie.
"Did vou cross us, huh? Did you! Speak! Speak!" yelled Shipkey pulling
at the hair.
The little card player didn't speak. He just flopped his arms and began
"I'll take you someplace where we can get a beer and something to eat"
I said to the man with the goatee.
"Come on! Talk! Give out! You can't cross us!"
"Oh, that won't be necessary," said the man with the goatee.
"Rat! Louse! Fish-faced pig!"
"I insist", I said.
"Rob a man with a glass eye, will you? I'll show you, fish-faced pig!"
"That's very kind of you, and I am a little hungry, thanks," said the
man with the goatee.
"Speak! Speak, fish-faced pig! If you don't speak in two minutes, in
just two minutes, I'll cut your heart out for a doorknob!"
"Let's leave right away," I said.
"All right," said the man with the goatee.
ALL the eating places were closed at that time of the night and it was
a long ride into town. I couldn't take him back to my room, so I had to take
a chance on Millie. She always had plenty of food. At any rate, she always
I was right. She made us cheese sandwiches with coffee. The cat knew me
and leaped into my lap.
I put the cat on the floor.
"Watch, Mr. Burnett," I said.
"Shake hands!" I said to the cat. "Shake hands!"
The cat just sat there.
"That's funny, it always used to do it," I said. "Shake hands!"
I remembered Shipkey had told Mr. Burnett that I talked to birds.
"Come on now! Shake hands!"
I began to feel foolish.
"Come on! Shake hands!"
I put my head right down by the cat's head and put everything I had
The cat just sat there.
I went back to my chair and picked up my cheese sandwich.
"Cats are funny animals, Mr. Burnett. You can never tell. Millie, put
on Tschaikowsky's 6th for Mr. Burnett."
We listened to the music. Millie came over and sat in my lap. She just
had on a negligee. She dropped down against me. I put my sandwich to the
"I want you to notice," I said to Mr. Burnett, "the section which
brings forth the marching movement in this symphony. I think it's one of the
most beautiful movements in all music. And besides its beauty and force, its
structure is perfect. You can feel intelligence at work."
The cat jumped up into the lap of the man with the goatee. Millie laid
her cheek against mine, put a hand on my chest. "Where ya been, baby boy?
Millie's missed ya, ya know."
The record ended and the man with the goatee took the cat off his lap,
got up and turned the record over. He should have found record #2 in the
album. By turning it over we would get the climax rather early. I didn't say
anything, though, and we listened to it end.
"How did you like it?" I asked.
"Fine! Just fine!"
He had the cat on the floor.
"Shake hands! Shake hands!" he said to the cat.
The cat shook hands.
"Look," he said, "I can make the cat shake hands."
The cat rolled over.
"No, shake hands! Shake hands!"
The cat just sat there.
He put his head down by the cat's head and talked into its ear. "Shake
The cat stuck its paw right into his goatee.
"Did You see? I made him shake hands!" Mr. Burnett seemed pleased.
Millie pressed tight against me. "Kiss me, baby boy," she said, "kiss
"Good Lord, ya gone off ya nut, baby boy? what's eatin' at ya? Sompin's
botherin' ya tonight, I can tell! Tell Millie all about ut! Millie'd go ta
hell for ya, baby boy, ya know that. Whats'a matter, huh? Ha?"
"Now I'll get the cat to roll over," said Mr. Burnett.
Millie wrapped her arms tight around me and peered down into my upward
eye. She looked very sad and motherish and smelled like cheese.
"Tell Millie what's eatin' ya up, baby boy."
"Roll over!" said Mr. Burnett to the cat.
The cat just sat there.
"Listen," I said to Millie, "see that man over there?"
"Yeah, I see him."
"Well, that's Whit Burnett."
"The magazine editor. The one I send my stories to."
"Ya mean the one who sends you those little tiny notes?"
"Rejection slips, Millie."
"Well, he's mean. I don't like him."
"Roll over!" said Mr. Burnett to the cat. The cat rolled over. "Look!"
he yelled. "I made the cat roll over! I'd like to buy this cat! It's
Millie tightened her grip about me and peered down into my eye. I was
quite helpless. I felt like a still live fish on ice in a butcher's counter
on Friday morning.
"Listen," she said, "I can get him ta print one a ya stories. I can get
him ta print alla them!"
"Watch me make the car roll over!" said Mr. Burnett.
"No, no, Millie, you don't understand! Editors aren't like tired
business men. Editors have scruples!"
"Roll over!" said Mr. Burnett.
The cat just sat there.
"I know all about ya scruples! Don't ya worry about scruples Baby boy,
I'll get him ta print alla ya stories!"
"Roll over!" said Mr. Burnett to the cat. Nothing happened.
"No, Millie, I won't have it."
She was all wound around me. It was hard to breathe and she was rather
heavy. I felt my feet going to sleep. Millie pressed her cheek against mine
and rubbed a hand up and down my chest. "Baby boy, ya got nothin' to say!"
Mr. Burnett put his head down by the cat's head and talked into its
ear. "Roll over!"
The car stuck its paw right into his goatee.
"I think this cat wants something to eat," he said.
With that, he got back into his chair. Millie went over and sat on his
"Where'd ya get tha cute little goaty?" she asked.
"Pardon me," I said, "I'm going to get a drink of water."
I went in and sat in the breakfast nook and looked down at the flower
designs on the table. I tried to scratch them off with a fingernail. It was
hard enough to share Millie's love with the cheese salesman and the welder.
Millie with the figure right down to the hips. Damn, damn.
I kept sitting there and after a while I took my rejection slip out of
my pocket and read it again. The places where the slip was folded were
beginning to get brown with dirt and torn. I would have to stop looking at
it and put it between book pages like a pressed rose.
I began to think about what it said. I always had that trouble. In
college, even, I was drawn to the fuzzy blackness. The short story
instructress took me to dinner and a show one night and lectured to me on
the beauties of life. I had given her a story I had written in which I, as
the main character, had gone down to the beach at night on the sand and
began meditating on the meaning in Christ, on the meaning in death, on the
meaning and fullness and rhythm in all things. Then in the middle of my
meditations, along walks a bleary-eyed tramp kicking sand in my face. I talk
to him, buy him a bottle and we drink. We get sick. Afterward we go to a
house of ill-fame.
After the dinner, the short story instructress opened her purse and
brought forth the story of the beach. She opened it up about halfway down,
to the entrance of the bleary-eyed tramp and the exit of meaning in Christ.
"Up to here," she said, "up to here, this was very good, in fact,
beautiful." Then she glared up at me with that glare that only the
artistically intelligent who have somehow fallen into money and position can
have. "But pardon me, pardon me very much," she tapped at the bottom half of
my story, "just what the hell is this stuff doing in here?"
I COULDN'T stay away any longer. I got up and walked into the front
Millie was all wrapped around him and peering down into his upward eye.
He looked like a fish on ice.
Millie must have thought I wanted to talk to him about publishing
"Pardon me, I have to comb my hair," she said and left the room.
"Nice girl, isn't she, Mr. Burnett?" I asked.
He pulled himself back into shape and straightened his tie. "Pardon
me," he said, "why do you keep calling me 'Mr. Burnett'?"
"Well, aren't you?"
"I'm Hoffman. Joseph Hoffman. I'm from the Curtis Life Insurance
Company. I came in response to your postcard."
"But I didn't send a postcard."
"We received one from you."
"I never sent any."
"Aren't you Andrew Spickwich?"
"Spickwich. Andrew Spickwich, 3631 Taylor Street."
Millie came back and wound herself around Joseph Hoffman. I didn't have
the heart to tell her.
I closed the door very softly and went down the steps and out into the
street. I walked part way down the block and then I saw the lights go out.
I ran like hell toward mv room hoping that there would be some wine
left in that huge jug on the table. I didn't think I'd be that lucky,
though, because I am too much a saga of a certain type of person: fuzzy
blackness, impractical meditations and repressed desires.
THE BIRTH, LIFE, AND DEATH OF
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