writing, it's you. I think we might get Randall a job teaching three
days a week."
"I can't teach."
"Darling, you can teach them everything."
"Shit," he said.
"They're thinking of doing a movie of Randall's book. We've seen the
script. It's a very fine script."
"A movie?" I asked.
"There's not much chance," said Harris.
"Darling, it's in the works. Have a little faith."
I had another glass of wine with them, then left. Sandra was a
beautiful girl.
I wasn't given Randall's West L.A. address and didn't make any attempt
to find him. It was over a year later when I read the review of the movie
Flower Up the Tail of Hell. It had been taken from his novel. It was
a fine review and Harris even had an acting bit in the film.
I went to see it. They'd done a good job on the book. Harris looked a
little more austere than when I had last seen him. I decided to find him.
After a bit of detective work I knocked on the door of his cabin in Malibu
one night about 9:00 p.m. Randall answered the door.
"Chinaski, you old dog," he said. "Come on in."
A beautiful girl sat on the couch. She appeared to be about 19, she
simply radiated natural beauty. "This is Karilla," he said. They were
drinking a bottle of expensive French wine. I sat down with them and had a
glass. I had several glasses. Another bottle came out and we talked quietly.
Harris didn't get drunk and nasty and didn't appear to smoke as much.
"I'm working on a play for Broadway," he told me. "They say the theatre
is dying but I have something for them. One of the leading producers is
interested. I'm getting the last act in shape now. It's a good medium. I was
always splendid on conversation, you know."
"Yes," I said.
I left about 11:30 that night. The conversation had been pleasant ...
Harris had begun to show a distinguished grey about the temples and he
didn't say "shit" more than four or five times.
The play Shoot Your Father, Shoot Your God, Shoot Away the
was a success. It had one of the longest runs in
Broadway history. It had everything: something for the revolutionaries,
something for the reactionaries, something for lovers of comedy, something
for lovers of drama, even something for the in- tellectuals, and it still
made sense. Randall Harris moved from Malibu to a large place high in the
Hollywood Hills. You read about him now in the syndicated gossip columns.
I went to work and found the location of his Hollywood Hills place, a
three-story mansion which overlooked the lights of Los Angeles and
I parked, got out of the car, and walked up the path to the front door.
It was around 8:30 p.m., cool, almost cold; there was a full moon and the
air was fresh and clear.
I rang the bell. It seemed a very long wait. Finally the door opened.
It was the butler. "Yes, sir?" he asked me.
"Henry Chinaski to see Randall Harris," I said.
"Just a moment, sir." He closed the door quietly and I waited. Again a
long time. Then the butler was back. "I'm sorry, sir, but Mr. Harris can't
be disturbed at this time."
"Oh, all right."
"Would you care to leave a message, sir?"
"A message?"
"Yes, a message."
"Yes, tell him 'congratulations.' "
" 'Congratulations?' Is that all?"
"Yes, that's all."
"Goodnight, sir."
I went back to my car, got in. It started and I began the long drive
down out of the hills. I had that early copy of Mad Fly with me that
I had wanted him to sign. It was the copy with ten of Randall Harris' poems
in it. He probably was busy. Maybe, I thought, if I mail the magazine to him
with a stamped return envelope, he'll sign.
It was only about 9:00 p.m. There was time for me to go somewhere else.


Well, it was after an argument with Flo and I didn't feel like getting
drunk or going to a massage parlor. So I got in my car and drove west toward
the beach. It was along toward evening and I drove slowly. I got to the
pier, parked, and walked on up the pier. I stopped in the penny arcade,
played a few games, but the place stank of piss so I walked out. I was too
old to ride the merry-go-round so I passed that. The usual types walked the
pier -- a sleepy indifferent crowd.
It was then I noticed a roaring sound coming from a nearby building. A
tape or record, no doubt. There was a barker out front: "Yes, ladies and
gentlemen, Inside, Inside here . . . we actually have captured the devil! He
is on display to see with your own eyes! Think, just for a quarter, twenty-
five cents, you can actually see the devil . . . the biggest loser of all
time! The loser of the only revolution ever attempted in Heaven!"
Well, I was ready for a little comedy to offset what Flo was putting me
through. I paid my quarter and stepped inside with six or seven other
assorted suckers. They had this guy in a cage. They'd sprayed him red and he
had something in his mouth that made him puff out little rolls of smoke and
spurts of flame. He wasn't putting on a very good show. He was just walking
around in circles, saying over and over again, "God damn it, I've got to get
out of here! How'd I ever get in this friggin' fix?" Well, I'll tell you he
did look dangerous. Suddenly he did six rapid back flips. On his last flip
he landed on his feet, looked around and said, "Oh shit, I feel awful!"
Then he saw me. He walked right over to where I was standing next to
the wire. He was warm like a heater. I don't know how they worked that.
"My son," he said, "you've come at last! I've been waiting. Thirty-two
days I've been in this fucking cage!"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"My son," he said, "don't joke with me. Come back late tonight with the
wire-cutters and free me."
"Don't lay any shit on me, man," I said
"Thirty-two days I've been in here, my son! At last I have my freedom!"
"You mean you claim you're really the devil?"
"I'll screw a cat's ass if I'm not," he answered.
"If you're the devil then you can use your supernatural powers to get
out of here."
"My powers have temporarily vanished. This guy, the barker, he was in
the drunk tank with me. I told him I was the devil and he bailed me out. I'd
lost my powers in that jail or I wouldn't have needed him. He got me drunk
again and when I woke up I was in this cage. The cheap bastard, he feeds me
dogfood and peanut butter sandwiches. My son, help me, I beg you!"
"You're crazy," I said, "you're some kind of nut."
"Just come back tonight, my son, with the wire-clippers."
The barker walked in an announced that the session with the devil was
over and if we wanted to see him anymore it'd be another twenty-five cents.
I'd seen enough. I walked out with the six or seven other assorted suckers.
"Hey, he talked to you," said a little old guy walking next to me,
"I've seen him every night and you're the first person he has ever talked
"Balls," I said.
The barker stopped me. "What'd he tell you? I saw him talking to you.
What'd he tell you?"
"He told me everything," I said.
"Well, hands off, buddy, he's mine! I ain't made so much money since I
had the bearded three-legged lady."
"What happened to her?"
"She ran away with the octopus man. They're running a farm in Kansas."
"I think you people are all crazy."
"I'm just telling you, I found this guy. Keep off!"
I walked to my car, got in and drove back to Flo. When I got there she
was sitting in the kitchen drinking whiskey. She sat there and told me a few
hundred times what a useless hunk of man I was. I drank with her a while not
saying much myself. Then I got up, went to the garage, got the wire-cutters,
put them in my pocket, got in the car and drove back to the pier.

I broke in the back way, the latch was rusty and snapped right off. He
was asleep on the floor of the cage. I began trying to cut the wire but I
couldn't cut through it. The wire was very thick. Then he woke up.
"My son," he said, "you came back! I knew you would!"
"Look, man, I can't cut the wire with these clippers. The wire's too
He stood up. "Hand 'em here."
"God," I said, "your hands are hot! You must have some kind of fever."
"Don't call me God," he said.
He snipped the wire with the clippers like it was thread and stepped
out. "And now, my son, to your place. I've got to get my strength back. A
few porterhouse steaks and I'll be straight. I've eaten so much dogfood I'm
afraid I'm going to bark any minute."
We walked back to my car and I drove him to my place. When we walked in
Flo was still sitting in the kitchen drinking whiskey. I fried him a bacon
and egg sandwich for starters and we sat down with Flo.
"Your friend is a handsome looking devil," she told me.
"He claims to be the devil," I said.
"Been a long time," he said, "since I had me a hunk of good woman."
He leaned over and gave Flo a long kiss. When he let go she seemed to
be in a state of shock. "That was the hottest kiss I ever had," she said,
"and I've had plenty."
"Really?" he asked.
"If you make love anything like the way you kiss it, it would simply be
too much, just simply too much!"
"Where's your bedroom?" he asked me.
"Just follow the lady," I said.
He followed Flo to the bedroom and I poured a deep whiskey.
I never heard such screams and moans and it went on for a good fourty-
five minutes. Then he walked out alone and sat down and poured himself a
"My son," he said, "you got yourself a good woman there."
He walked to the couch in the front room, stretched out and fell
asleep. I walked into the bedroom, undressed, and climbed in with Flo.
"My god," she said, "my god, I don't believe it. He put me through
heaven and hell."
"I just hope he doesn't set the couch on fire," I said.
"You mean he smokes cigarettes and falls asleep?"
"Forget it," I said.

Well, he began taking over. I had to sleep on the couch. I had to
listen to Flo screaming and moaning in there every night. One day while Flo
was at the market and we were having a beer in the breakfast nook I had a
talk with him. "Listen," I said, "I don't mind helping somebody out, but now
I've lost my bed and my wife. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"I believe I'll stay a while, my son, your old lady is one of the best
pieces I've ever had."
"Listen, man," I said, "I might have to take extreme means to remove
"Tough boy, eh? Well look tough boy, I got a little news for you. My
supernatural powers have returned. If you try to fuck with me you might get
burned. Watch!"
We've got a dog. Old Bones; he's not worth much but he barks at night,
he's a fair watchdog. Well, he pointed his finger at Old Bones, the finger
kind of made a sneezing sound, then it sizzled and a thin line of flame ran
up and touched Old Bones. Old Bones frizzled-up and vanished. He just wasn't
there anymore. No bone, no fur, not even any stink. Just space.
"O.k., man," I told him. "You can stay a couple of days but after that
you gotta leave."
"Fry me up a porterhouse," he said, "I'm hungry, and I'm afraid my
sperm-count is dropping off."
I got up and threw a steak in the pan.
"Cook me up some french fries to go with that," he said, "and some
sliced tomato. I don't need any coffee. Been having insomnia. I'll just have
a couple more beers."
By the time I got the food in front of him, Flo was back.
"Hello, my love," she said, "how you doing?"
"Just fine," he said, "don't you have any catsup?"
I walked out, got in my car and drove to the beach.

Well, the barker had another devil in there. I paid my quarter and went
in. This devil really wasn't much. The red paint sprayed on him was killing
him and he was drinking to keep from going crazy. He was a big guy but he
didn't have any qualities at all. I was one of the few customers in there.
There were more flies in there than there were people.
The barker walked up to me. "I'm starving to death since you stole the
real thing from me. I suppose you got a show of your own going?"
"Listen," I said, "I'd give anything to give him back to you. I was
just trying to be a good guy."
"You know what happens to good guys in this world, don't you?"
"Yeah, they end up standing down at 7th and Broadway selling copies of
the Watchtower."
"My name's Ernie Jamestown," he said, "tell me all about it. We got a
room in the back."
I walked to the room in the back with Ernie. His wife was sitting at
the table drinking whiskey. She looked up.
"Listen, Ernie, if this bastard is gonna be our new devil, forget it.
We might just as well stage a triple suicide."
"Take it easy," said Ernie, "and pass the bottle."
I told Ernie everything that had happened. He listened carefully and
then said, "I can take him off your hands. He has two weaknesses -- drink
and women. And there's one other thing. I don't know why it happens but when
he's confined, like he was in the drunk tank or in that cage out there, he
loses his supernatural powers. All right, we take it from there."
Ernie went to the closet and dragged out a mass of chains and padlocks.
Then he went to the phone and asked for an Edna Hemlock. Edna Hemlock was to
meet us in twenty minutes at the corner outside Woody's Bar. Ernie and I got
in my car, stopped for two fifths at the liquor store, met Edna, picked her
up, and drove to me place.

They were still in the kitchen. They were necking like mad. But as soon
as he saw Edna the devil forgot all about my old lady. He dropped her like a
pair of stained panties. Edna had it all. They'd made no mistakes when they
put her together.
"Why don't you two drink up and get acquainted?" said Ernie. Ernie put
a large glass of whiskey in front of each of them.
The devil looked at Ernie. "Hey, mother, you're the guy who put me in
that cage, ain't ya?"
"Forget it," said Ernie, "let's let bygones be bygones."
"Like hell!" He pointed a finger and the line of flame ran up to Ernie
and he was no longer there.
Edna smiled and lifted her whiskey. The devil grinned, lifted his and
gulped it down.
"Fine stuff!" he said. "Who bought it?"
"That man who just left the room a moment ago," I said.
He and Edna had another drink and began eyeballing each other. Then my
old lady spoke to him:
"Take your eyes off that tramp!"
"What tramp?"
"Just drink your drink and shut up!"
He pointed his finger at my old lady, there was a small crackling sound
and she was gone. Then he looked at me:
"And what have you got to say?"
"Oh, I'm the guy who brought the wire-cutters, remember? I'm here to
run little errands, bring in towels, so forth . . ."
"It sure feels good to have my supernatural powers again."
"They do come in handy," I said, "we got an overpopulation problem
He was eyeballing Edna. Their eyes were so locked that I was able to
lift one of the fifths of whiskey. I took the fifth and got in my car with
it and drove back to the beach again.

Ernie's wife was still sitting in the back room. She was glad to see
the new fifth and I poured two drinks.
"Who's the kid you got locked in the cage?" I asked.
"Oh, he's a third-string quarterback from one of the local colleges.
He's trying to pick up a little spare change."
"You sure have nice breasts," I said.
"You think so? Ernie never says anything about my breasts."
"Drink up. This is good stuff."
I slid over next to her. She had nice fat thighs. When I kissed her,
she didn't resist.
"I get so tired of this life," she said, "Ernie's always been a cheap
hustler. You got a good job?"
"Oh yeah. I'm head shipping clerk at Drombo-Western."
"Kiss me again," she said.

I rolled off and wiped myself with the sheet.
"If Ernie finds out he'll kill us both," she said.
"Ernie isn't going to find out. Don't worry about it."
"You make great love," she said, "but why me?"
"I don't understand."
"I mean, really, what made you do it?"
"Oh, I said, "the devil made me do it."
Then I lit a cigarette, laid back, inhaled, and blew a perfect smoke
ring. She got up and went to the bathroom. In a minute I heard the toilet


It was one of the outer rooms of the first floor. I stumbled on
something - I think it was a footstool - and I almost went down. I banged
into a table to hold myself up.
"That's right," said Harry, "wake up the whole fucking household."
"Look," I said, "what are we going to get here?"
"Keep your fucking voice down!"
"Harry, do you have to keep saying fucking?"
"What are you, a fucking linguist? We're here for cash and jewels."
I didn't like it. It seemed like total insanity. Harry was crazy; he'd
been in and out of madhouses. Between that and doing time he'd spent three-
quarters of his adult life in lockup. He'd talked me into the thing. I
didn't have much resistance.
"This damn country," he said. "there are too many rich pricks having
it too easy." Then Harry banged into something. "Shit!" he said.
"Hello? What is it?" We heard a man's voice coming from upstairs.
"We're in trouble," I said. I could feel the sweat dripping down from
my armpits.
"No," said Harry, "he's in trouble."
"Hello," said the man upstairs.
"Who's down there?"
"Come on," Harry told me.
He began walking up the stairway. I followed him. There was a hallway,
and there was a light coming from one of the rooms. Harry moved quickly and
silently. Then he ran into the room. I was behind him. It was a bedroom. A
man and a woman were in separate beds.
Harry pointed his .38 Magnum at the man. "All right, buddy, if you
don't want your balls blown off, you'll keep it quiet. I don't play."
The man was about 45, with a strong and imperial face. You could see
he had had it his own way for a long time. His wife was about 25, blond,
long hair, truly beautiful. She looked like an ad for something or other.
"Get the hell out of my house!" the man said.
"Hey," Harry said to me, "you know who this is?"
"It's Tom Maxson, the famous news broadcaster, Channel 7. Hello Tom."
"Get out of here! NOW!" Maxson barked.
He reached out and picked up the phone. "Operator-"
Harry ran up and slammed him across the temple with the butt of his
.38. Maxson fell across the bed. Harry put the phone back on the hook.
"You bastards, you hurt him!" cried the blond. "You cheap, cowardly
She was dressed in a light-green negligee. Harry walked around and
broke one of the shoulder straps. He grabbed one of the woman's breasts and
pulled it out. "Nice, ain't it?" he said to me. Then he slapped her across
the face, hard.
"You address me with respect, whore!" Harry said. Then he walked
around and sat Tom Maxson back up. "And you: I told you I don't play."
Maxson revived. "You've got the gun; that's all you've got."
"You fool. That's all I need. Now I'm gonna get some cooperation from
you and your whore or it's going to get worse."
"You cheap punk!" Maxson said.
"Just keep it up, keep it up. You'll see," said Harry.
"You think I'm afraid of it couple of cheap hoods?"
"If you're not, you ought to be."
"Who's your friend? What does he do?"
"He does what I tell him."
"Like what?"
"Like, Eddie, go kiss that blond!"
"Listen, you leave my wife out of this!"
"And if she screams, I put a bullet in your gut. I don't play. Go on,
Eddie, kiss the blond-"
The blond was trying to hold up the broken shoulder strap with one
"No," she said, "please-"
"I'm sorry, lady, I gotta do what Harry tells me."
I grabbed her by the hair and got my lips on hers. She pushed against
me, but she wasn't very strong. I'd never kissed a woman that beautiful
"All right, Eddie, that's enough."
I pulled away. I walked around and stood next to Harry. "Why, Eddie,"
he said, "what's that thing sticking out in font of you?"
I didn't answer.
"Look, Maxson," said Harry, "your wife gave my man a hard-on! How the
hell are we supposed to get any work done around here? We came for cash and
"You wise-ass punks make me sick. You're no better than maggots."
"And what have you got? The six o'clock news. What's so big about
that? Political pull and an asshole public. Anybody can read the news. I
make the news."
"You make the news? Like what? What can you do?"
"Any amount of numbers. Ah, let me think. How about, TV newscaster
drinks burglar's piss? How's that sound to you?"
"I'd die first."
"You won't. Eddie, go get me a glass. There's one there on the
nightstand. Bring me that."
"Look," said the blond, "please take our money. Take our jewels. just
go away. What's the need for all this?"
"It's your loudmouthed, spoiled husband, lady. He's getting on my
fucking nerves."
I brought Harry the glass, and he unzipped his pants and began to piss
into it. It was a tall glass, but he filled it to the brim. Then he zipped
up and moved toward Maxson.
"Now you're gonna drink my piss, Mr. Maxson."
"No way, bastard. I'd die first."
"You won't die. You'll drink my piss, all of it!"
"Never, punk!"
"Eddie," Harry nodded to me, "see that cigar on the dresser mantle?"
"Get it. Light it. There's a lighter there."
I got the lighter and lit the cigar. It was a good one. I puffed on
it. My best cigar. Never had anything like it.
"You like the cigar, Eddie?" Harry asked me.
"It's great, Harry."
"OK. Now you walk over to the whore and get that breast out from under
the broken shoulder strap. Pull it out. I'm gonna hand this jerk-off this
glass full of my piss. You hold that cigar next to the nipple of the lady's
breast. And if this jerk-off doesn't drink all of this piss down to the very
last drop, I want you to burn that nipple off with that cigar. Understand?"
I got it. I walked around and pulled out Mrs. Maxson's breast. I felt
dizzy looking at it- never had I seen anything like that.
Harry handed Tom Maxson the glass of piss. Maxson looked over at his
wife and tilted the glass and began to drink.
The blond was trembling all over. It felt so good to hold her breast.
The yellow piss was going down the newscaster's throat. He stopped a
moment at the Halfway mark. He looked sick.
"All of it," said Harry. "Go ahead; it's good to the last drop."
Maxson put the glass to his lips and drained the remainder. The glass
fell from his hand.
"I still think you're a couple of cheap punks," gasped Maxson.
I was still standing there holding the blond's breast. She yanked it
"Tom," said the blond, "will you stop antagonizing these men? You're
doing the most foolish thing possible!"
"Oh, playing the winners, eh? Is that why you married me? Because I
was a winner?"
"Of course that's why she married you, asshole," said Harry. "Look at
that fat gut on you. Did you think it was for your body?"
"I've got something," said Maxson. "That's why I'm Number One in
newscasting. You don't do that on luck."
"But if she hadn't married Number One," said Harry, "she would have
married Number Two."
"Don't listen to him, Tom," said the blond.
"It's all right," said Maxson, "I know you love me."
"Thank you, Daddy," said the blond.
"It's all right, Nana,"
"'Nana,'" said Harry, "I like that name, 'Nana.' That's class, Class
an ass. That's what the rich get while we get the scrubwomen."
"Why don't you join the Communist Party?" asked Maxson.
"Man, I don't care to Wait Centuries for something that might not
finally work. I want it now."
"Look, Harry," I said, "all we're doing is standing around and holding
conversations with these people. That doesn't get us anything. I don't care
what they think. Let's get the loot and split. The longer we stay, the
sooner we draw the heat."
"Now, Eddie," he answered, "that's the first good bit of sense I've
heard you speak in five or six years."
"I don't care," said Maxson. "You're just the weak feeding off of the
strong. If I weren't here, you'd hardly exist. You remind me of people who
go around assassinating political and spiritual leaders. It's the worst kind
of cowardice; it's the easiest thing to do with the least talent available.
It comes from hatred and envy; it comes from rancor and bitterness and
ultimate stupidity; it comes from the lowest scale of the human ladder; it
stinks and it reeks and it makes me ashamed to belong to the same tribe."
"Boy," said Harry, "that was some speech. Even piss can't stop your
flow of bullshit. You're one spoiled turd. You realize how many people there
are on this earth without a chance? Because of where and how they were born?
Because they had no education? Because they never had anything and never
will have and nobody gives a fuck, and you marry the best body you can find,
your age be damned?"
"Take your loot and go," said Maxson. "All you bastards who never make
it have some alibi."
"Oh, wait," said Harry, "everything counts. We're making now. You
don't quite understand."
"Tom," said the blond, "just give them the money, the jewelry ... let
them go ... please get off Channel 7."
"It's not Channel 7, Nana. It's letting them know. I've got to let
them know."
"Eddie," said Harry, "check the bathroom. Bring back some adhesive
I walked down the hall and found the bathroom. In the medicine cabinet
was a wide roll of adhesive. Harry made me nervous. I never knew what he was
going to do. I brought the tape back into the bedroom. Harry was yanking the
phone cord out of the wall. "OK," he told me, "shut off Channel 7."
I got it. I taped his mouth good.
"Now the hands, the hands in back," said Harry.
He walked over to Nana, pulled out both of her breasts and looked at
Then he spit in her face. She wiped it off with the bedsheet.
"OK," he said, "now this one. Get the mouth, but leave the hands
loose. I like a little fight."
I fixed her up.
Harry got Tom Maxson turned on his side in his bed; he had him facing
Nana. He walked over and got one of Maxson's cigars and lit it. "I guess
Maxson's right," said Harry. "We are the suckerfish. We are the maggots. We
are the slime, and maybe the cowards."
He took a good pull on the cigar.
"It's yours, Eddie."
"Harry, I can't."
"You can. You don't know how. You've never been taught how. No
education. I'm your teacher. She's yours. It's simple."
"You do it, Harry."
"No. She'll mean more to you."
"Because you're such a simple asshole."
I walked over to her bed. She was so beautiful and I was so ugly I
fell as if my whole body was smeared with a layer of shit.
"Go on," said Harry, "get it on, asshole."
"Harry, I'm scared. It's not right; she's not mine."
"She's yours."
"Look at it like a war. We won this war. We've killed all their
machos, all their big-timers, all their heroes. There's nothing left but
women and children. We kill the children and send the old women up the road.
We are the conquering army. All that's left is their women. And the most
beautiful woman of all is ours . . . is yours. She's helpless. Take her."
I walked up and pulled back the covers. It was as if I had died and
was suddenly in heaven, and there was this magical creature in front of me.
I took her negligee and ripped it completely off.
"Fuck her, Eddie!"
All the curves were absolutely where they were supposed to be. They
were there and beyond. It was like beautiful skies; it was like beautiful
rivers flowing. I just wanted to look. I was afraid. I stood there, this
horn of a thing in front of me. I had no rights.
"Go ahead," said Harry. "Fuck her! She's the same as any other woman.
She plays games, tells lies. She'll be an old woman someday, and other young
girls will replace her. She'll even die. Fuck her while she's still there!"
I pulled at her shoulders, trying to gather her to me. She had gotten
strength from somewhere. She pushed against me, pulling her head back. She
was completely repulsed.
"Listen, Nana, I really don't want to do this ... but I do. I'm sorry.
I don't know what to do. I want you and I'm ashamed."
She made a sound through the adhesive on her mouth and pushed against
me. She was so beautiful. I didn't deserve that. Her eyes looked into mine.
They said what I was thinking: I had no human right.
"Go ahead," said Harry, "slam it to her! She'll love it."
"I can't do it, Harry."
"All right," he said, "you watch Channel 7 then."
I walked over and sat next to Tom Maxson. We sat side-by-side on his
bed. He was making small sounds through the adhesive. Harry walked over to
the other bed. "All right, whore, I guess I'll have to impregnate you."
Nana leaped out of bed and ran toward the door. Harry caught her by
the hair, spun her and slapped her hard across the face. She fell against
the wall and slid down. Harry pulled her up by the hair and hit her again.
Maxson made a louder sound through his adhesive and leaped up. He ran over
and butted Harry with his head. Harry gave him a chop along the back of the
neck, and Maxson dropped.
"Tape the hero's ankles," he told me.
I bound Maxson's feet and shoved him onto his bed.
"Sit him up," said Harry. "I want him to watch."
"Look, Harry," I said, "let's get out of here. The longer we stay-"
"Shut up!"
Harry dragged the blond back to the bed. She still had on a pair of
panties. He ripped them off and threw them at Maxson. The panties fell at
his feet. Maxson moaned and began to struggle. I punched him a hard one,
deep into the belly.
Harry took off his pants and undershorts.
"Whore," he said to the blond, "I'm gonna sink this thing deep into
you and you're going to feel it and there's nothing you can do. You'll take
all of it! And I'm going to cream deep inside of you!"
He had her on her back; she was still struggling. He hit her again,
hard. Her head fell back. He spread her legs. He tried to work his cock in.
He was having trouble.
"Loosen up, bitch; I know you want it! Lift your legs!"
He hit her hard, twice. The legs rose.
"That's better, whore!"
Harry poked and poked. Finally, he penetrated. He moved it in and out,
Maxson began moaning and moving again. I sank another one into his
Harry began to get up a rhythm. The blond groaned as if in pain.
"You like it, don't you, whore? It's better turkeyneck than your old
man ever gave you, ain't it? Feel it growing?"
I couldn't stand it. I stood up, took out my cock and began
masturbating. Harry was ramming the blond so hard that her head was
bouncing. Then he slapped her and pulled out.
"Not yet, whore. I'm taking my time."
He walked over to where Tom Maxson was sitting.
"Look at the SIZE of that thing! And I'm going to put it back into her
now and come right inside her, Tommy boy! You'll never be able to make love
to your Nana without thinking of me! Without thinking of THIS!"
Harry put his cock right into Maxson's face, "And I may have her suck
me off after I'm finished!"
Then he turned, went back to the other bed and mounted the blond. He
slapped her again and began pumping wildly.
"You cheap, stinking whore, I'm going to come!"
Then: "Oh, shit! OH, MY GOD! Oh, oh, oh!"
He fell down against Nana and lay there. After a moment he pulled out.
Then he looked over at me. "Sure you don't want some?"
"No thanks, Harry."
Harry began to laugh. "Look at you, fool, you've whacked off!" Harry
got back into his pants, laughing. "All right," he said, "tape up her hands
and ankles. We're gettin' out of here."
I walked over and taped her up.
"But, Harry, how about the money and jewels?"
"We'll take his wallet. I want to get out of here. I'm nervous."
"But, Harry, let's take it all."
"No," he said, "just the wallet. Check his trousers. just take the
I found the wallet.
"There's only $83 here, Harry."
"We take it and we leave. I'm nervous. I feel something in the air. We
have to go."
"Shit, Harry, that's no haul! We can really clean them out!"
"I told you: I'm nervous. I feel trouble coming. You can stay. I'm
I followed him down the stairway.
"That son of a bitch will think twice before he insults anybody
again," said Harry.
We found the window we had jimmied open and left the same way. We
walked through the garden and out the iron gate.
"All right," said Harry, "we walk at a casual gait. Light a cigarette.
Try to look normal."
"Why are you so nervous, Harry?"
"Shut up!"
We walked four blocks. The car was still there. Harry took the wheel
and we drove off.
"Where we going?" I asked.
"The Guild Theater."
"What's playing?"
"Black Silk Stockings, with Annette Haven."
The place was down on Lankershim.
We parked and got out. Harry bought the tickets. We walked in.
"Popcorn?" I asked Harry.
"I want some."
"Get it."
Harry waited until I got the popcorn, large. We found some seats near
the back. We were in luck. The feature was just beginning.

originally appeared in Hustler magazine, March 1979


Like anybody can tell you, I am not a very nice man. I don't know the
word. I have always admired the villain, the outlaw, the son of a bitch. I
don't like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like
desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways. They
interest me. They are full of surprises and explosions. I also like vile
women, drunk cursing bitches with loose stockings and sloppy mascara faces.
I'm more interested in perverts than saints. I can relax with bums because I
am a bum. I don't like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don't like to be
shaped by society.
I was drinking with Marty, the ex-con, up in my room one night. I
didn't have a job. I didn't want a job. I just wanted to sit around with my
shoes off and drink wine and talk, and laugh if possible. Marty was a little
dull, but he had workingman's hands, a broken nose, mole's eyes, nothing
much to him but he'd been through it.
"I like you, Hank," said Marty, "you're a real man, you're one of the
few real men I've known."
"Yeh," I said.
"You got guts."
"I was a hard-rock miner once . . ."
"I got in a fight with this guy. We used ax handles. He broke my left
arm with his first swing. I went on to fight him. I beat his goddamned head
in. When he came around from that beating, he was out of his head. I'd
mashed his brains in. They put him in a madhouse."
"That's all right," I said.
"Listen," said Marty, "I want to fight you."
"You get first punch. Go ahead, hit me."
Marty was sitting in a straight-backed green chair. I was walking to
the sink to pour another glass of wine from the bottle. I turned around and
smashed him a right to the face. He flipped over backwards in the chair, got
up and came toward me. I wasn't looking for the left. It got me high on the
forehead and knocked me down. I reached into a paper sack full of vomit and
empties, came out with a bottle, rose to my knees and hurled it. Marty
ducked and I came up with the chair behind me. I had it over my head when
the door opened. It was our landlady, a good-looking young blonde in her
twenties. What she was doing running a place like that I could never figure
out. I put the chair down.
"Go to your room, Marty."
Marty looked ashamed, like a little boy. He walked down the hall to his
room, walked in and closed the door.
"Mr. Chinaski," she said, "I want you to know ..."
"I want you to know," I said, "that it's no use."
"What's no use?"
"You're not my type. I don't want to fuck you."
"Listen," she said, "I want to tell you something. I saw you pissing in
the lot next door last night and if you do that again I'm going to throw you
out of here. Somebody's been pissing in the elevator too. Has that been
"I don't piss in elevators."
"Well, I saw you in the lot last night. I was watching. It was you."
"The hell it was me."
"You were too drunk to know. Don't do it again."
She closed the door and was gone.
I was sitting there quietly drinking wine a few minutes later and
trying to remember if I had pissed in the lot, when there was a knock
on the door.
"Come in," I said.
It was Marty. "I gotta tell you something."
"Sure. Sit down."
I poured Marty a glass of port and he sat down.
"I'm in love," he said.
I didn't answer. I rolled a cigarette.
"You believe in love?" he asked.
"I have to. It happened to me once."
"Where is she?"
"She's gone. Dead."
"Dead? How?"
"This one drinks too. It worries me. She's always drunk. She can't
"None of us can."
"I go to A.A. meetings with her. She's drunk when she goes. Half of
them down there at the A.A. are drunk. You can smell the fumes."
I didn't answer.
"God, she's young. And what a body! I love her, man, really love her!"
"Oh hell, Marty, that's just sex."
"No, I love her. Hank, I really feel it."
"I guess it's possible."
"Christ, they've got her down in a cellar room. She can't pay her
"The cellar?"
"Yeah, they got a room down there with all the boilers and shit."
"Hard to believe."
"Yeah, she's down there. And I love her, man, and I don't have any
money to help her with."
"That's sad. I been in the same situation. It hurts."
"If I can get straight, if I can get on the wagon for ten days and get
my health back -- I can get a job somewhere, I can help her."
"Well," I said, "you're drinking now. If you love her, you'll stop
drinking. Right now."
"By god," he said, "I will! I'll pour this drink into the sink!"
"Don't be melodramatic. Just pass that glass over here."
I took the elevator down to the first floor with the fifth of cheap
whiskey I had stolen at Sam's liquor store a week earlier. Then I took the
stairway to the cellar. There was a small light burning down there. I walked
along looking for a door. I finally found one. It must have been 1:00 or
2:00 in the morning. I knocked. The door opened a notch and here stood a
really fine-looking woman in a negligee. I hadn't expected that. Young, and
a strawberry blonde.
I stuck my foot in the door, then I pushed my way in, closed the door
and looked around. Not a bad place at all.
"Who are you?" she asked. "Get out of here."
"This is a nice place you got here. I like it better than my own."
"Get out of here! Get out! Get out!"
I pulled the fifth of whiskey out of the paper bag. She looked at it.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Look, Jeanie, where do you keep your drinking glasses?"
She pointed to a wall shelf and I walked over and got two tall water
glasses. There was a sink. I put a little water in each, then walked over,
set them down, opened the whiskey and mixed it in. We sat on the edge of her
bed and drank. She was young, attractive. I couldn't believe it. I waited
for a neurotic explosion, for something psychotic. Jeanie looked normal,
even healthy. But she did like her whiskey. She drank right along with me.
Having come down there in a rush of eagerness, I no longer felt that
eagerness. I mean, if she had had a little pig in her or something indecent
or foul (a harelip, anything), I would have felt more like moving in. I
remembered a story I had read in the Racing Form once about a high-
bred stallion they couldn't get to mate with the mares. They got the most
beautiful mares they could find, but the stallion only shied away. Then
somebody, who knew something, got an idea. He smeared mud all over a
beautiful mare and the stallion immediately mounted her. The theory was that
the stallion felt inferior to all the beauty and when it was muddied-up,
fouled, he at least felt equal or maybe even superior. Horses' minds and
men's minds could be a great deal alike.
Anyhow, Jeanie poured the next drink and asked me my name and where I
roomed. I told her that I was upstairs somewhere and I just wanted to drink
with somebody.
"I saw you at the Clamber-In one night about a week ago," she said,
"you were very funny, you had everybody laughing, you bought everybody
"I don't remember."
"I remember. You like my negligee?"
"Why don't you take off your pants and get more comfortable?"
I did and sat back on the bed with her. It moved very slowly. I
remember telling her that she had nice breasts and then I was sucking on one
of them. Next I knew we were at it. I was on top. But something didn't work.
I rolled off. "I'm sorry," I said.
"It's all right," she said, "I still like you." We sat there talking
vaguely and finishing the whiskey.
Then she got up and turned off the lights. I felt very sad and climbed
into bed and lay against her back. Jeanie was warm, full, and I could feel
her breathing, and I could feel her hair against my face. My penis begain to
rise and I poked it against her. I felt her reach down and guide it in.
"Now," she said, "now, that's it. . ."
It was good that way, long and good, and then we were finished and then
we slept.
When I woke up she was still asleep and I got up to get dressed. I was
fully clothed when she turned and looked at me: "One more time before you
"All right."
I undressed again and got in with her. She turned her back to me and we
did it again, the same way. After I climaxed she lay with her back to me.
"Will you come see me again?" she asked.
"Of course."
"You live upstairs?"
"Yes. 309.1 can come see you or you can come see me."
"I'd rather you came to see me," she said.
"All right," I said. I got dressed, opened the door, closed the door,
walked up the stairway, got in the elevator, and hit the 3 button.
It was about a week later, one night, I was drinking wine with Marty.
We talked about various things of no importance and then he said, "Christ, I
feel awful."
"What again?"
"Yeah. My girl, Jeanie. I told you about her."
"Yes. The one who lives in the cellar. You're in love with her."
"Yeh. They kicked her out of the cellar. She couldn't even make the
cellar rent."
"Where'd she go?"
"I don't know. She's gone. I heard they kicked her out. Nobody knows
what she did, where she went. I went to the A.A. meeting. She wasn't there.
I'm sick. Hank, I'm really sick. I loved her. I'm about out of my head."
I didn't answer.
"What can I do, man? I'm really torn apart.. ."
"Let's drink to her luck, Marty, to her good luck."
We had a good long one to her.
"She was all right. Hank, you gotta believe me, she was all right."
"I believe you Marty."
A week later Marty got kicked out for not paying his rent and I got a
job in a meat packing plant and there were a couple of Mexican bars across
the street. I liked those Mexican bars. After work, I smelled of blood, but
nobody seemed to mind. It wasn't until I got on the bus to go back to my
room that those noses started raising and I got the dirty looks, and I began
feeling mean again. That helped.


Ronnie was to meet the two men at the German bar in the Silver-lake
district. It was 7:15 p.m. He sat there drinking the dark beer at the table
by himself. The barmaid was blond, fine ass, and her breasts looked as if
they were going to fall out of her blouse.
Ronnie liked blondes. It was like iceskating and rollerskating. The
blondes were iceskating, the rest were rollerskating. The blondes even
smelled different. But women meant trouble, and for him the trouble often
outweighed the joy. In other words, the price was too high.
Yet a man needed a woman now and then, if for no other reason than to
prove he could get one. The sex was secondary. It wasn't a lover's world, it
never would be.
7:20. He waved her over for another beer. She came smiling, carrying