Notes of a dirty old man. - Page 3

Or: a portion from a wine-stained notebook. A story
Illustration by Matt Furie

A hundred dollar piece of ass and ten bucks worth of drink. It could go on and on. I could get luckier and luckier. More fine Italian wine, more fine Italian ass; free breakfast, free rent, the flowing and glowing of the goddamned soul overtaking everything. Each man was a name and a way but what a horrible waste most of them were. I was going to be different. I kept drinking and didn't quite remember going to bed.

In the morning it wasn't bad. I found a half empty and warm quart bottle of beer. Drank that. Then I lay down on the bed, started to sweat. I laid there quite a time, became sleepy.

This time it was a lampshade that turned into a very evil and large face and then back into a lampshade again. It went on and on, like a repeat movie, and I sweated sweated sweated, thinking that each time, that face would be the unbearable thing to me, whatever that unbearable thing was. There it came AGAIN!


The knock on the door.

"Mr. Bukowski?"


"Are you all right?"


"I said, 'Are you all right?'"

"Oh fine, just fine!"

In came old Mama Fazzio. "You drank all your stuff."

"Yes, it was a hot night last night."

"You got records yet?"

"Just 'He's got the little babies in His hands.'"

"My daughter wants you to come to dinner again."

"I can't. Got something going. Got to clear it up."

"What do you mean?"

"Sacramento, by the 26th of this month."

"Are you in trouble of some sort?"

"Oh no, Mama, no trouble at all."

"I like you. When you come back, you come live with us again."

"Sure, Mama."

I listened to the old woman going down the stairs. Then I threw myself down on the mattress. How the wind howls in the mouth of the brain; how sad it is to be alive with arms and legs and eyes and brain and cock and balls and bellybutton and all the else and waiting waiting waiting for the whole thing to die, so silly, but nothing else to do, nothing else to do, really. A Tom Mix life with a constipation flaw. I was almost asleep.


"Mr. Bukowski?"


"What's wrong?"


"Are you all right?"

"Oh, fine, jus' fine!"

I finally had to get out of San Francisco. They were driving me crazy. With their free wine and free everything. I'm in Los Angeles now where they don't give anything away, and I'm feeling a little bit better...

HEY! What was THAT??? ...

Reprinted from National Underground Review, May 15, 1968, courtesy of David Stephen Calonne.

From the forthcoming City Lights collection Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays 1944-1990, edited by David Stephen Calonne.