OCR: Слава Янко


    Edna was walking down the street with her bag of groceries when she
    passed the automobile. There was a sign in the side window:
    She stopped. There was a large piece of cardboard in the window with
    some material pasted on it. Most of it was typewritten. Edna couldn't read
    it from where she stood on the sidewalk. She could only see the large
    It was an expensive new car. Edna stepped forward on the grass to read
    the typewritten portion:
    Man age 49. Divorced. Wants to meet woman for marriage. Should be 35 to
    44. Like television and motion pictures. Good food. I am a cost accountant,
    reliably employed. Money in bank. I like women to be on the fat side.
    Edna was 37 and on the fat side. There was a phone number. There were
    also three photos of the gentleman in search of a woman. He looked quite
    staid in a suit and necktie. Also he looked dull and a little cruel. And
    made of wood, thought Edna, made of wood.
    Edna walked off, smiling a bit. She also had a feeling of repulsion. By
    the time she reached her apartment she had forgotten about him. It was some
    hours later, sitting in the bathtub, that she thought about him again and
    this time she thought how truly lonely he must be to do such a thing:
    She thought of him coming home, finding the gas and phone bills in the
    mailbox, undressing, taking a bath, the T.V. on. Then the evening paper.
    Then into the kitchen to cook. Standing there in his shorts, staring down at
    the frying pan. Taking his food and walking to a table, eating it. Drinking
    his coffee. Then more T.V. And maybe a lonely can of beer before bed. There
    were millions of men like that all over America.
    Edna got out of the tub, toweled, dressed and left her apartment. The
    car was still there. She took down the man's name, Joe Light-hill, and the
    phone number. She read the typewritten section again. "Motion pictures."
    What an odd term to use. People said "movies" now. Woman Wanted. The
    sign was very bold. He was original there.
    When Edna got home she had three cups of coffee before dialing the
    number. The phone rang tour times. "Hello?" he answered.
    "Mr. Lighthill?"
    "I saw your ad. Your ad on the car."
    "Oh, yes."
    "My name's Edna."
    "How you doing, Edna?"
    "Oh, I'm all right. It's been so hot. This weather's too much."
    "Yes, it makes it difficult to live."
    "Well, Mr. Lighthill . . ."
    "Just call me Joe."
    "Well, Joe, hahaha, I feel like a fool. You know what I'm calling
    "You saw my sign?"
    "I mean, hahaha, what's wrong with you? Can't you get a woman?"
    "I guess not, Edna. Tell me, where are they?"
    "Oh, everywhere, you know."
    "Where? Tell me. Where?"
    "Well, church, you know. There are women in church."
    "I don't like church."
    "Listen, why don't you come over, Edna?"
    "You mean over there?"
    "Yes. I have a nice place. We can have a drink, talk. No pressure."
    "It's late."
    "It's not that late. Listen you saw my sign. You must be interested."
    "Well . . ."
    "You're scared, that's all. You're just scared."
    "No, I'm not scared."
    "Then come on over, Edna."
    "Well . . ."
    "Come on."
    "All right. I'll see you in fifteen minutes."
    It was on the top floor of a modern apartment complex. Apt. 17. The
    swimming pool below threw back the lights. Edna knocked. The door opened and
    there was Mr. Lighthill. Balding in front;
    hawknosed with the nostril hairs sticking out; the shirt open at the
    "Come on in, Edna . . ."
    She walked in and the door closed behind her. She had on her blue knit
    dress. She was stockingless, in sandals, and smoking a cigarette.
    "Sit down. I'll get you a drink."
    It was a nice place. Everything in blue and green and very
    clean. She heard Mr. Lighthill humming as he mixed the drinks, hmmmmmmm,
    hmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmmm . . . He seemed relaxed and it helped her.
    Mr. Lighthill -- Joe -- came out with the drinks. He handed Edna hers
    and then sat in a chair across the room from her.
    "Yes," he said, "it's been hot, hot as hell. I've got air-conditioning,
    "I noticed. It's very nice."
    "Drink your drink."
    "Oh, yes."
    Edna had a sip. It was a good drink, a bit strong but it tasted nice.
    She watched Joe tilt his head as he drank. He appeared to have heavy
    wrinkles around his neck. And his pants were much too loose. They appeared
    sizes too large. It gave his legs a funny look.
    "That's a nice dress, Edna."
    "You like it?"
    "Oh yes. You're plump too. It fits you snug, real snug."
    Edna didn't say anything. Neither did Joe. They just sat looking at
    each other and sipping their drinks.
    Why doesn't he talk? thought Edna. 'It's up to him to talk. There
    is something wooden about him. She finished her drink.
    "Let me get you another," said Joe.
    "No, I really should be going."
    "Oh, come on," he said, "let me get you another drink. We need
    something to loosen us up."
    "All right, but after this one, I'm going."
    Joe went into the kitchen with the glasses. He wasn't humming anymore.
    He came out, handed Edna her drink and sat back down in his chair across the
    room from her. This drink was stronger.
    "You know," he said, "I do well on the sex quizzes."
    Edna sipped at her drink and didn't answer.
    "How do you do on the sex quizzes?" Joe asked.
    "I've never taken any."
    "You should, you know, so you'll find out who you are and what you
    "Do you think those things are valid? I've seen them in the newspaper.
    I haven't taken them but I've seen them," said Edna.
    "Of course they're valid."
    "Maybe I'm no good at sex," said Edna, "maybe that's why I'm alone."
    She took a long drink from her glass.
    "Each of us is, finally, alone," said Joe.
    "What do you mean?"
    "I mean, no matter how well it's going sexually or love-wise or both,
    the day arrives when it's over."
    "That's sad," said Edna.
    "Of course. So the day arrives when it's over. Either there is a split
    or the whole thing resolves into a truce: two people living together without
    feeling anything. I believe that being alone is better."
    "Did you divorce your wife, Joe?"
    "No, she divorced me."
    "What went wrong?"
    "Sexual orgies."
    "Sexual orgies?"
    "You know, a sexual orgy is the loneliest place in the world. Those
    orgies -- I felt a sense of desperation -- those cocks sliding in and out --
    excuse me ..."
    "It's all right."
    "Those cocks sliding in and out, legs locked, fingers working, mouths,
    everybody clutching and sweating and determined to do it -- somehow."
    "I don't know much about those things, Joe," Edna said.
    "I believe that without love, sex is nothing. Things can only be
    meaningful when some feeling exists between the participants."
    "You mean people have to like each other?"
    "It helps."
    "Suppose they get tired of each other? Suppose they have to stay
    together? Economics? Children? All that?"
    "Orgies won't do it."
    "What does it?"
    "Well, I don't know. Maybe the swap."
    "The swap?"
    "You know, when two couples know each other quite well and
    switch partners. Feelings, at least, have a chance. For example, say I've
    always liked Mike's wife. I've liked her for months. I've watched her walk
    across the room. I like her movements. Her movements have made me curious. I
    wonder, you know, what goes with those movements. I've seen her angry, I've
    seen her drunk, I've seen her sober. And then, the swap. You're in the
    bedroom with her, at last you're knowing her. There's a chance for something
    real. Of course, Mike has your wife in the other room. Good luck, Mike, you
    think, and I hope you're as good a lover as I am."
    "And it works all right?"
    "Well, I dunno . . . Swaps can cause difficulties . . . afterwards. It
    all has to be talked out . . . very well talked out ahead of time. And then
    maybe people don't know enough, no matter how much they talk . . ."
    "Do you know enough, Joe?"
    "Well, these swaps ... I think it might be good for some . . . maybe
    good for many. I guess it wouldn't work for me. I'm toomuch of a prude."
    Joe finished his drink. Edna set the remainder of hers down and stood
    "Listen Joe, I have to be going ..."
    Joe walked across the room toward her. He looked like an elephant in
    those pants. She saw his big ears. Then he grabbed her and was kissing her.
    His bad breath came through all the drinks. He had a very sour smell. Part
    of his mouth was not making contact. He was strong but his strength was not
    pure, it begged. She pulled her head away and still he held her.
    "Joe, let me go! You're moving too fast, Joe! Let go!"
    "Why did you come here, bitch?"
    He tried to kiss her again and succeeded. It was horrible. Edna brought
    her knee up. She got him good. He grabbed and fell to the rug.
    ."God, god ... why'd you have to do that? You tried to kill me . . ."
    He rolled on the floor.
    His behind, she thought, he had such an ugly behind.
    She left him rolling on the rug and ran down the stairway. The air was
    clean outside. She heard people talking, she heard their T.V. sets. It
    wasn't a long walk to her apartment. She felt the need of another bath, got
    out of her blue knit dress and scrubbed herself. Then she got out of the
    tub, toweled herself dry and set her hair in pink curlers. She decided not
    to see him again.


    We talked about women, peeked up their legs as they got out of cars,
    and we looked into windows at night hoping to see somebody fucking but we
    never saw anybody. One time we did watch a couple in bed and the guy was
    mauling his woman and we thought now we're going to see it, but she said,
    "No, I don't want to do it tonight!" Then she turned her back on him. He lit
    a cigarette and we went in search of a new window.
    "Son of a bitch, no woman of mine would turn away from me!"
    "Me neither. What kind of a man was that?"
    There were three of us, me, Baldy, and Jimmy. Our big day was Sunday.
    On Sunday we met at Baldy's house and took the streetcar down to Main
    Street. Carfare was seven cents.
    There were two burlesque houses in those days, the Follies and the
    Burbank. We were in love with the strippers at the Burbank and the jokes
    were a little better so we went to the Burbank. We had tried the dirty movie
    house but the pictures weren't really dirty and the plots were all the same.
    A couple of guys would get some little innocent girl drunk and before she
    got over her hangover she'd find herself in a house of prostitution with a
    line of sailors and hunchbacks beating on her door. Besides in those places
    the bums slept night and day, pissed on the floor, drank wine, and rolled
    each other. The stink of piss and wine and murder was unbearable. We went to
    the Burbank.
    "You boys going to a burlesque today?" Baldy's grampa would ask.
    "Hell no, sir, we've got things to do."
    We went. We went each Sunday. We went early in the morning, long before
    the show and we walked up and down Main Street looking into the empty bars
    where the B-girls sat in the doorways with their skirts up, kicking their
    ankles in the sunlight that drifted into the dark bar. The girls looked
    good. But we knew. We had heard. A guy went in for a drink and they charged
    his ass off, both for his drink and the girl's. But the girl's drink would
    be watered. You'd get a feel or two and that was it. If you showed any money
    the barkeep would see it and along would come the mickey and you were out
    over the bar and your money was gone. We knew.
    After our walk along Main Street we'd go into the hotdog place and get
    our eight cent hotdog and our big nickel mug of rootbeer. We were lifting
    weights and our muscles bulged and we wore our sleeves rolled high and we
    each had a pack of cigarettes in our breast pocket. We even had tried a
    Charles Atlas course. Dynamic Tension, but lifting weights seemed the more
    rugged and obvious
    While we ate our hotdog and drank our huge mug of rootbeer we played
    the pinball machine, a penny a game. We got to know that pinball machine
    very well. When you made a perfect score you got a free game. We had to make
    perfect scores, we didn't have that kind of money.
    Franky Roosevelt was in, things were getting better but it was still
    the depression and none of our fathers were working. Where we got our small
    amount of pocket money was a mystery except that we did have a sharp eye for
    anything that was not cemented to the ground. We didn't steal, we shared.
    And we invented. Having little or no money we invented little games to pass
    the time -- one of them being to walk to the beach and back.
    This was usually done on a summer day and our parents never complained
    when we arrived home too late for dinner. Nor did they care about the high
    glistening blisters on the bottoms of our feet. It was when they saw how we
    had worn out our heels and the soles of our shoes that we began to hear it.
    We were sent to the five and dime store where heels and soles and glue were
    at the ready and at a reasonable price.
    The situation was the same when we played tackle football in the
    streets. There weren't any public funds for playgrounds. We were so tough we
    played tackle football in the streets all through football season, through
    basketball and baseball seasons and on through the next football season.
    When you get tackled on asphalt, things happen. Skin rips, bones bruise,
    there's blood, but you get up like nothing was wrong.
    Our parents never minded the scabs and the blood and the bruises; the
    terrible and unforgivable sin was to rip a hole in one of the knees
    of your pants. Because there were only two pairs of pants to each boy: his
    everyday pants and his Sunday pants, and you could never rip a hole in the
    knee of one of your two pairs of pants because that showed that you were
    poor and an asshole and that your parents were poor and assholes too. So you
    learned to tackle a guy without falling on either knee. And the guy
    being tackled learned how to be tackled without falling on either knee.
    When we had fights we'd fight for hours and our parents wouldn't save
    us. I guess it was because we pretended to be so tough and never asked for
    mercy, they were waiting for us to ask for mercy. But we hated our parents
    so we couldn't and because we hated them they hated us, and they'd walk out
    on their porches and glance casually over at us in the midst of a terrible
    endless fight. They'd just yawn and pick up a throw-away advertisement and
    walk back inside.
    I fought a guy who later ended up very high in the United States Navy.
    I fought him one day from 8:30 in the morning until after sundown. Nobody
    stopped us although we were in plain sight of his front lawn, under two huge
    pepper trees with the sparrows shit-ting on us all day.
    It was a grim fight, it was to the finish. He was bigger, a little
    older and heavier, but I was crazier. We quit by common consent -- I don't
    know how this works, you have to experience it to understand it, but after
    two people beat on each other eight or nine hours a strange kind of
    brotherhood emerges.
    The next day my body was entirely blue. I couldn't speak out of my lips
    or move any part of myself without pain. I was on the bed getting ready to
    die and my mother came in with the shirt I'd worn during the fight. She held
    it in front of my face over the bed and she said, "Look, you got bloodspots
    on this shirt! Bloodspots!"
    "I'll never get them out! NEVER!!"
    "They're his bloodspots."
    "It doesn't matter! It's blood! It doesn't come out!"
    Sundays were our day, our quiet, easy day. We went to the Bur-bank.
    There was always a bad movie first. A very old movie, andyou looked and
    waited. You were thinking of the girls. The three or four guys in the
    orchestra pit, they played loud, maybe they didn't play too good but they
    played loud, and those strippers finally came out and grabbed the curtain,
    the edge of the curtain, and they grabbed that curtain like it was a man and
    shook their bodies and went bop bop bop against that curtain. Then they
    swung out and started to strip. If you had enough money there was even a bag
    of popcorn; if you didn't to hell with it.
    Before the next act there was an intermission. A little man got up and
    said, "Ladies and gentlemen, if you will let me have your kind attention . .
    ." He was selling peep-rings. In the glass of each ring, if you held it to
    the light there was a most wonderful picture. This was promised you! Each
    ring was only 50 cents, a lifetime possession for just 50 cents, made
    available only to the patrons of the Burbank and not sold anywhere else.
    "Just hold it up to the light and you will see! And, thank you, ladies and
    gentlemen, for your kind attention. Now the ushers will pass down the aisles
    among you."
    Two ragass bums would proceed down the aisles smelling of muscatel,
    each carrying a bag of peep-rings. I never saw anybody purchase one of the
    rings. I imagine, though, if you had held one up to the light the picture in
    the glass would have been a naked woman.
    The band began again and the curtains opened and there was the chorus
    line, most of them former strippers gone old, heavy with mascara and rouge
    and lipstick, false eyelashes. They did their damndest to stay with the
    music but they were always a little behind. But they carried on; I thought
    they were very brave.
    Then came the male singer. It was very difficult to like the male
    singer. He sang too loud about love gone wrong. He didn't know how to sing
    and when he finished he spread his arms, and bowed his head to the tiniest
    ripple of applause.
    Then came the comedian. Oh, he was good! He came out in an old brown
    overcoat, hat pulled down over his eyes, slouching and walking like a bum, a
    bum with nothing to do and no place to go. A girl would walk by on the stage
    and his eyes would follow her. Then he'd turn to the audience and say, out
    of his toothless mouth, "Well, I'll be god damned!"
    Another girl would walk out on the stage and he'd walk up to her, put
    his face close to hers and say, "I'm an old man, I'm past 44 but when the
    bed breaks down I finish on the floor." That did it. How we laughed! The
    young guys and the old guys, how we laughed. And there was the suitcase
    routine. He's trying to help some girl pack her suitcase. The clothes keep
    popping out.
    "I can't get it in!"
    "Here let me help you!"
    "It popped out again!"
    "Wait! I'll stand on it!"
    "What? Oh no, you're not going to stand on it!"
    They went on and on with the suitcase routine. Oh, he was funny!
    Finally the first three or four strippers came out again. We each had
    our favorite stripper and we each were in love. Baldy had chosen a thin
    French girl with asthma and dark pouches under her eyes. Jimmy liked the
    Tiger Woman (properly The Tigress). I pointed out to Jimmy the Tiger Woman
    definitely had one breast larger than the other. Mine was Rosalie.
    Rosalie had a large ass and she shook it and shook it and sang funny
    little songs, and as she walked about stripping she talked to herself and
    giggled. She was the only one who really enjoyed her work. I was in love
    with Rosalie. I often thought of writing her and telling her how great she
    was but somehow I never got around to it.
    One afternoon we were waiting for the streetcar after the show and
    there was the Tiger Woman waiting for the streetcar too. She was dressed in
    a tight-fitting green dress and we stood there looking at her.
    "It's your girl, Jimmy, it's the Tiger Woman."
    "Boy, she's got it! Look at her!"
    "I'm going to talk to her," said Baldy.
    "It's Jimmy's girl."
    "I don't want to talk to her," said Jimmy.
    "I'm going to talk to her," said Baldy. He put a cigarette in his
    mouth, lit it, and walked up to her.
    "Hi ya, baby!" he grinned at her.
    The Tiger Woman didn't answer. She just stared straight ahead waiting
    for the streetcar.
    "I know who you are. I saw you strip today. You've got it, baby, you've
    really got it!"
    The Tiger Woman didn't answer.
    "You really shake it, my god, you really shake it!"
    The Tiger Woman stared straight ahead. Baldy stood there grin-ning like
    an idiot at her. "I'd like to put it to you. I'd like to fuck
    you, baby!"
    We walked up and pulled Baldy away. We walked him down the street. "You
    asshole, you have no right to talk to her that way!"
    "Well, she gets up and shakes it, she gets up in front of men and
    shakes it!"
    "She's just trying to make a living."
    "She's hot, she's red hot, she wants it!"
    "You're crazy."
    We walked him down the street.
    Not long after that I began to lose interest in those Sundays on Main
    Street. I suppose the Follies and the Burbank are still there. Of course,
    the Tiger Woman and the stripper with asthma, and Rosalie, my Rosalie are
    long gone. Probably dead. Rosalie's big shaking ass is probably dead. And
    when I'm in my neighborliood, I drive past the house I used to live in and
    there are strangers living there. Those Sundays were good, though, most of
    those Sundays were good, a tiny light in the dark depression days when our
    fathers walked the front porches, jobless and impotent and glanced at us
    beating the shit out of each other, then went inside and stared at the
    walls, afraid to play the radio because of the electric bill.


    Jack came through the door and found the pack of cigarettes on the
    mantle. Ann was on the couch reading a copy of Cosmopolitan. Jack lit
    up, sat down in a chair. It was ten minutes to midnight.
    "Charley told you not to smoke," said Ann, looking up from the
    "I deserve it. It was a rough one tonight."
    "Did you win?"
    "Split decision but I got it. Benson was a tough boy, lots of guts.
    Charley says Parvinelli is next. We get over Parvinelli, we get the champ."
    Jack got up, went to the kitchen, came back with a bottle of beer.
    "Charley told me to keep you off the beer," Ann put the magazine down.
    '" 'Charley told me, Charley told me' . . . I'm tired of that. I won my
    fight. I won 16 straight, I got a right to a beer and a cigarette."
    "You're supposed to stay in shape."
    "It doesn't matter. I can whip any of them."
    "You're so great, I keep hearing it when you get drunk, you're so
    great. I get sick of it."
    "I am great. 16 straight, 15 k.o.'s. Who's better?"
    Ann didn't answer. Jack took his bottle of beer and his cigarette into
    the bathroom.
    "You didn't even kiss me hello. The first thing you did was go to your
    bottle of beer. You're so great, all right. You're a great beer-drinker."
    Jack didn't answer. Five minutes later he stood in the bathroom door,
    his pants and shorts down around his shoes.
    "Jesus Christ, Ann, can't you even keep a roll of toilet paper in
    She went to the closet and got him the roll. Jack finished his business
    and walked out. Then he finished his beer and got another one. "Here you are
    living with the best light-heavy in the world and all you do is complain.
    Lots of girls would love to have me but all you do is sit around and bitch."
    "I know you're good. Jack, maybe the best, but you don't know how
    boring it is to sit around and listen to you say over and over again
    how great you are."
    "Oh, you're bored with it, are you?"
    "Yes, god damn it, you and your beer and how great you are."
    "Name a better light-heavy. You don't even come to my fights."
    "There are other things besides fighting. Jack."
    "What? Like laying around on your ass and reading Cosmopolitan?"
    "I like to improve my mind."
    "You ought to. There's a lot of work to be done there."
    "I tell you there are other things besides fighting."
    "What? Name them."
    "Well, art, music, painting, things like that."
    "Are you any good at them?"
    "No, but I appreciate them."
    "Shit, I'd rather be best at what I'm doing."
    "Good, better, best . . . God, can't you appreciate people for what
    they are?"
    "For what they are? What are most of them? Snails, blood-
    suckers, dandies, finks, pimps, servants . . ."
    "You're always looking down on everybody. None of your friends are good
    enough. You're so damned great!"
    "That's right, baby."
    Jack walked into the kitchen and came out with another beer.
    "You and your god damned beer!"
    "It's my right. They sell it. I buy it."
    "Charley said . . ."
    "Fuck Charley!"
    "You're so god damned great!"
    "That's right. At least Pattie knew it. She admitted it. She was proud
    of it. She knew it took something. All you do is bitch."
    "Well, why don't you go back to Pattie? What are you doing with me?"
    "That's just what I'm thinking."
    "Well, we're not married, I can leave any time."
    "That's one break we've got. Shit, I come in here dead-ass tired after
    a tough ten rounder and you're not even glad I took it. All you do is
    complain about me."
    "Listen. Jack, there are other things besides fighting. WTien I met
    you, I admired you for what you were."
    "I was a fighter. There aren't any other things besides
    That's what 1 am -- a hghter. That's my tile, and 1m good at it. The
    best. I notice you always go for those second raters . . . like Toby
    "Toby's very funny. He's got a sense of humor, a real sense of humor. I
    like Toby."
    "His record is 9, 5, and one. I can take him when I'm dead drunk."
    "And god knows you're dead drunk often enough. How do you think I feel
    at parties when you're laying on the floor passed out, or lolling around the
    room telling everybody, 'I'M GREAT, I'M GREAT, I'M GREAT!' Don't you think
    that makes me feel like an ass?"
    "Maybe you arc an ass. If you like Toby so much, why don't you go with
    "Oh, 1 just said I liked him, I thought he was funny, that
    doesn't mean I want to go to bed with him."
    "Well, you go to bed with me and you say I'm boring. I don't know what
    the hell you want."
    Ann didn't answer. Jack got up, walked over to the couch, lifted Ann's
    head and kissed her, walked back and sat down again.
    "Listen, let me tell you about this fight with Benson. Even you would
    have been proud of me. He decks me in the first round, a sneak right. I get
    up and hold him off the rest of the round. He plants me again in the second.
    I barely get up at 8. I hold him oft again. The next few rounds I spend
    getting my legs back. I take the 6th, 7th, 8th, deck him once in the 9th and
    twice in the 10th. I don't call that a split. They called it a split. Well,
    it's 45 grand, you get that, kid? 45 grand. I'm great, you can't deny I'm
    great, can you?"
    Ann didn't answer.
    "Come on, tell me I'm great."
    "All right, you're great."
    "Well, that's more like it." Jack walked over and kissed her again. "I
    feel so good. Boxing is a work of art, it really is. It takes guts to be a
    great artist and it takes guts to be a great fighter."
    "All right. Jack."
    "'All right, Jack,' is that all you can say? Pattie used to be happy
    when I won. W^e were both happy all night. Can't you share it when I do
    something good? Hell, are you in love with me or are you in love with the
    losers, the half-asses? I think you'd be happier if I came in here a loser."
    "I want you to win. Jack, it's only that you put so much empha-sis on
    what you do . . ."
    "Hell, it's my living, it's my life. I'm proud of being best. It's like
    flying, it's like flying off into the sky and whipping the sun,"
    "What are you going to do when you can't fight anymore?"
    "Hell, we'll have enough money to do whatever we want."
    "Except get along, maybe."
    "Maybe I can learn to read Cosmopolitan, improve my mind."
    "Well, there's room for improvement."
    "Fuck you."
    "Fuck you."
    "Well, that's something you haven't done in a while."
    "Some guys like to fuck hitching women, I don't."
    "I suppose Pattie didn't bitch?"
    "All women bitch, you're the champ."
    "Well, why don't you go back to Pattie?"
    "You're here now. I can only house one whore at a time."
    Ann got up and went to the closet, got out her suitcase and began
    putting her clothes in there. Jack went to the kitchen and got another
    bottle of beer. Ann was crying and angry. Jack sat down with his beer and
    took a good drain. He needed a whiskey, he needed a bottle of whiskey. And a
    good cigar.
    "I can come pick up the rest of my stuff when you're not around."
    "Don't bother. I'll have it sent to you."
    She stopped at the doorway.
    "Well, I guess this is it," she said.
    "I suppose it is," Jack answered.
    She closed the door and was gone. Standard procedure. Jack finished the
    beer and went over to the telephone. He dialed Pattie's number. She
    "Oh, Jack, how are you?"
    "I won the big one tonight. A split. All I got to do is get over
    Parvinelli and I got the champ."
    "You'll whip both of them, Jack. I know you can do it."
    "What are you doing tonight, Pattie?"
    "It's 1:00 a.m. Jack. Have you been drinking?"
    "A few. I'm celebrating."
    "How about Ann?"
    "We split. I only play one woman at a time, you know that Pattie."
    "Jack . . ."
    "I'm with a guy."
    "A guy?"
    "Toby Jorgenson. He's in the bedroom . . ."
    "Oh, I'm sorry."
    "I'm sorry, too. Jack, I loved you ... maybe I still do."
    "Oh, shit, you women really throw that word around ..."
    "I'm sorry. Jack."
    "It's o.k." He hung up. Then he went to the closet for his coat. He put
    it on, finished the beer, went down the elevator to his car. He drove
    straight up Normandie at 65 m.p.h., pulled into the liquor store on
    Hollywood Boulevard. He got out and walked in. He got a six-pack of
    Michelob, a pack of Alka-Seltzers. Then at the counter he asked the clerk
    for a fifth of Jack Daniels. While the clerk was tabbing them up a drunk
    walked up with two six-packs of Coors.
    "Hey, man!" he said to Jack, "ain't you Jack Backenweld, the fighter?"
    "I am," answered Jack.
    "Man, I saw that fight tonight. Jack, you're all guts. You're really
    "Thanks, man," he told the drunk, and then he took his sack of goods
    and walked to his car. He sat there, took the cap off the Daniels and had a
    good slug. Then he backed out, ran west down Hollywood, took a left at
    Normandie and noticed a well-built teenage girl staggering down the street.
    He stopped his car, lifted the fifth out of the bag and showed it to her.
    "Want a ride?"
    Jack was surprised when she got in. "I'll help you drink that, mister,
    but no fringe benefits."
    "Hell, no" said Jack.
    He drove down Normandie at 35 m.p.h., a self-respecting citizen and
    third ranked light-heavy in the world. For a moment he felt like telling her
    who she was riding with but he changed his mind and reached over and
    squeezed one of her knees.
    "You got a cigarette, mister?" she asked.
    He flicked one out with his hand, pushed in the dash lighter. It jumped
    out and he lit her up.


    At L.A. City College just before World War II, I posed as a Nazi. I
    hardly knew Hitler from Hercules and cared less. It wa just that sitting in
    class and hearing all the patriots preach how we should go over and do the
    beast in, I grew bored. I decided to become the opposition. I didn't even
    bother to read up on Adolf, I simply spouted anything that I felt was evil
    or maniacal.
    However, I really didn't have any political beliefs. It was a way of
    floating free.
    You know, sometimes if a man doesn't believe in what he is doing he can
    do a much more interesting job because he isn't emotionally caught up in his
    Cause. It wasn't long before all the tall blond boys had formed The Abraham
    Lincoln Brigade -- to hold off the hordes of facism in Spain. And then had
    their asses shot off by trained troops. Some of them did it for adventure
    and a trip to Spain but they still got their asses shot off. I liked my ass.
    There really wasn't much I liked about myself but I did like my ass and my
    I leaped up in class and shouted anything that came to my mind. Usually
    it had something to do with the Superior Race, which I thought was rather
    humorous. I didn't lay it directly onto the Blacks and the Jews because I
    saw that they were as poor and confused as I was. But I did get off some
    wild speeches in and out of class, and the bottle of wine I kept in my
    locker helped me along. I was surprised that so many people listened to me
    and how few, if any, ever questioned my statements. I just ran off at the
    mouth and was delighted at how entertaining L.A. City College could be.
    "Are you going to run for student body president, Chinaski?"
    "Shit, no."
    I didn't want to do anything. I didn't even went to go to gym. In fact,
    the last thing I wanted to do was to go to gym and sweat and wear a
    jockstrap and compare pecker-lengths. I knew I had a medium-sized pecker. I
    didn't have to take gym to establish that.
    We were lucky. The college decided to charge a two dollar enrollment
    fee. We decided -- a few of us decided, anyhow -- that that was
    unconstitutional, so we refused. We struck against it. The college allowed
    us to attend classes but took away some of our privileges, one of them being
    When time arrived for gym class, we stood in civilian clothing. The
    coach was given orders to march us up and down the field in close formation.
    That was their revenge. Beautiful. I didn't have to run around the track
    with my ass sweating or try to throw a demented basketball through a
    demented hoop.
    We marched around and made up dirty songs, and the good American boys
    on the football team threatened to whip our asses but somehow never got
    around to it. Probably because we were bigger and meaner. To me, it was
    wonderful, pretending to be a Nazi, and then turning around and proclaiming
    that my consitutional rights were being violated.
    I did sometimes get emotional. I remember one time in class, after a
    little too much wine, with a tear in each eye, I said, "I promise you, this
    will hardly be the last war. As soon as one enemy is eliminated somehow
    another is found. It's endless and meaningless. There's no such thing as a
    good war or a bad war."
    Another time there was a communist speaking from a platform on a vacant
    lot south of campus. He was a very earnest boy with rimless glasses,
    pimples, wearing a black sweater with holes in the elbows. I stood listening
    and had some of my disciples with me. One of them was a White Russian,
    Zircoff, his father or his grandfather had been killed by the Reds in the
    Russian revolution. He showed me a sack of rotten tomatoes. "When you give
    the word," he told me, "we'll begin throwing them."
    It occurred to me suddenly that my disciples hadn't been listening to
    the speaker, or even if they had been, nothing he had said would matter.
    Their minds were made up. Most of the world was like that. Having a medium-
    sized cock suddenly didn't seem the world's worst sin.
    "Zircoff," I said, "put the tomatoes away."
    "Piss," he said, "I wish they were hand grenades."
    I lost control of my disciples that day, and walked away as they
    started hurling their rotten tomatoes.

    I was informed that a new Vanguard Party was to be formed. I was given
    an address in Glendale and I went there that night. We sat in the basement
    of a large home with our wine bottles and our various-sized cocks.
    There was a platform and desk with a large American flag spread across
    the back wall. A healthy looking American boy walked out on the platform and
    suggested that we begin by saluting the flag, pledging allegiance to it.
    I always disliked pledging allegiance to the flag. It was so tedious
    and sillyass. I always felt more like pledging allegiance to myself, but
    there we were and we stood up and ran through it. Then, afterwards, the
    little pause, and everybody sitting down feeling as if they had been
    slightly molested.
    The healthy American began talking. I recognized him as a fat boy who
    sat in the front row of the playwriting class. I never trusted those types.
    Sucks. Strictly sucks. He began: "The Communist menace must be stopped. We
    are gathered here to take steps to do so. We will take lawful steps and,
    perhaps, unlawful steps to do this . . ."
    I don't remember much of the rest. I didn't care about the Communist
    menace of the Nazi menace. I wanted to get drunk, I wanted to fuck, I wanted
    a good meal, I wanted to sing over a glass of beer in a dirty bar and smoke
    a cigar. I wasn't aware. I was a dupe, a tool.
    Afterwards, Zircoff and myself and one ex-disciple went down to
    Westlake Park and we rented a boat and tried to catch a duck for dinner. We
    managed to get very drunk and didn't catch a duck and found we didn't have
    enough money between us to pay the boat rental fee.
    We floated around the shallow lake and played Russian Roulette with
    Zircoff's gun and we all lucked through. Then Zircoff stood up in the
    moonlight drunk and shot the hell out of the bottom of the boat. The water
    started coming in and we ran her for shore. A third of the way in the boat
    sank and we had to get out and get our assholes wet wading to shore. So the
    night ended up well and hadn't been wasted . . .

    I played Nazi for some time longer, while caring for neither the Nazis
    nor the Communists nor the Americans. But I was losing interest. In fact,
    just before Pearl Harbor I gave it up. The fun had gone out of it. I felt
    the war was going to happen and I didn't feel much like going to war and I
    didn't feel much like being a conscientious objector either. It was catshit.
    It was useless. Me and my medium-sized cock were in trouble.
    I sat in class without speaking, waiting. The students and the
    instructors needled me. I had lost my drive, my steam, my mox. I felt that
    the whole thing was out of my hands. It was going to happen. All the cocks
    were in trouble.
    My English instructor, quite a nice lady with beautiful legs asked me
    to stay after class one day. "What's the matter, Chinaski?" she asked. "I've
    given up," I said. "You mean politics?" she asked. "I mean politics," I
    said. "You'd make a good sailor," she said. I walked out . . .

    I was sitting with my best friend, a marine, in a downtown bar drinking
    a beer when it happened. A radio was playing music, there was a break in the
    music. They told us that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed. It was announced
    that all military personnel should return immediately to their bases. My
    friend asked that I take the bus with him to San Diego, suggesting that it
    might turn out to be the last time I ever saw him. He was right.


    I was sitting in a bar on Western Ave. It was around midnight and I was
    in my usual confused state. I mean, you know, nothing works right: the
    women, the jobs, the no jobs, the weather, the dogs. Finally you just sit in
    a kind of stricken state and wait like you're on the bus stop bench waiting
    for death.
    Well, I was sitting there and here comes this one with long dark hair,
    a good body, sad brown eyes. I didn't turn on for her. I ignored her even
    though she had taken the stool next to mine when there were a dozen other
    empty seats. In fact, we were the only ones in the bar except for the
    bartender. She ordered a dry wine. Then she asked me what I was drinking.
    "Scotch and water."
    "Give him a scotch and water," she told the barkeep.
    Well, that was unusual.
    She opened her purse, removed a small wire cage and took some little
    people out and sat them on the bar. They were all around three inches tall
    and they were alive and properly dressed. There were four of them, two men
    and two women.
    "They make these now," she said, "they're very expensive. They cost
    around $2,000 apiece when I got them. They go for around $2,400 now. I don't
    know the manufacturing process but it's probably against the law."
    The little people were walking around on the top of the bar. Suddenly
    one of the little guys slapped one of the little women across the face.
    "You bitch," he said, "I've had it with you!"
    "No, George, you can't," she cried, "I love you! I'll kill myself! I've
    got to have you!"
    "I don't care," said the little guy, and he took out a tiny cigarette
    and lit it. "I've got a right to live."
    "If you don't want her," said the other little guy, "I'll take
    her. I love her."
    "But I don't want you, Marty. I'm in love with George."
    "But he's a bastard, Anna, a real bastard!"
    "I know, but I love him anyhow."
    The little bastard then walked over and kissed the other little woman.
    "I've got a triangle going," said the lady who had bought me the drink.
    "That's Marty and George and Anna and Ruthie. George goes down, he goes down
    good. Marty's kind of square."
    "Isn't it sad to watch all that? Er, what's your name?"
    "Dawn. It's a terrible name. But that's what mothers do to their
    children sometimes."
    "I'm Hank. But isn't it sad . . ."
    "No, it isn't sad to watch it. I haven't had much luck with my own
    loves, terrible luck really . . ."
    "We all have terrible luck."
    "I suppose. Anyhow, I bought these little people and now I watch them,
    and it's like having it and not having any of the problems. But I get
    awfully hot when they start making love. That's when it gets difficult."
    "Are they sexy?"
    "Very, very sexy. My god, it makes me hot!"
    "Why don't you make them do it? I mean, right now. We'll watch them
    "Oh, you can't make them do it. They've got to do it on their own."
    "How often do they do it?"
    "Oh, they're pretty good. They go four or five times a week."
    They were walking around on the bar. "Listen," said Marty, "give me a
    chance. Just give me a chance, Anna."
    "No," said Anna, "my love belongs to George. There's no other way it
    can be."
    George was kissing Ruthie, feeling her breasts. Ruthie was getting hot.
    "Ruthie's getting hot," I told Dawn.
    "She is. She really is."
    I was getting hot too. I grabbed Dawn and kissed her.
    "Listen," she said, "I don't like them to make love in public. I'll
    take them home and have them do it."
    "But then I can't watch."
    "Well, you'll just have to come with me."
    "All right," I said, "let's go."
    I finished my drink and we walked out together. She carried the little
    people in the small wire cage. We got into her car and put the people in
    between us on the front seat. I looked at Dawn. She was really young and
    beautiful. She seemed to have good insides too. How could she have gone
    wrong with her men? There were so many ways those things could miss. The
    four little people had cost her $8,000. Just that to get away from
    relationships and not to get away from relationships.
    Her house was near the hills, a pleasant looking place. We got out and
    walked up to the door. I held the little people in the cage while Dawn
    opened the door.
    "I heard Randy Newman last week at The Troubador. Isn't he great?" she
    "Yes, he is."
    We walked into the front room and Dawn took the little people out and
    placed them on the coffeetable. Then she walked into the kitchen and opened
    the refrigerator and got out a bottle of wine. She brought in two glasses.
    "Pardon me," she said, "but you seem a little bit crazy. What do you
    "I'm a writer."
    "Are you going to write about this?"
    "They'll never believe it, but I'll write it."
    "Look," said Dawn, "George has got Ruthie's panties off. He's fingering
    her. Ice?"
    "Yes, he is. No, no ice. Straight's fine."
    "I don't know," said Dawn, "it really gets me hot to watch them. Maybe
    it's because they're so small. It really heats me up."